Last year I had the genuine pleasure to represent the wonderful Blood-Jet Writing Hour as a journalist at Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo 2014. However, an article I wrote for them never made it into print and likely never will since the next Comikaze Expo is on its way. Therefore, I decided that I might as well post this review myself in order to give the good people at CME comics the praise they deserve.
I still stand by the words that I wrote about their marvelous book, The Gifted, and hope to see them at the next Expo so that I can pick up whatever else they have been working on.
A Review of The Gifted
The exhibition floor of Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo, 2014 was a crowded and noisy affair. Enthusiasts of all types were out in abundance, buying and selling comics, showing off their costumes and generally reveling in the unabashedly eclectic atmosphere. Amongst the various exhibits a single booth stood out. Towering watercolor banners of a stylized gunslinger. The beautifully composed art belonged to the CME Comics booth. Creative Mind Energy, LLC is an independent publisher of comics and other forms of media. At Comikaze 2014 I had the chance to sit down and talk with Adrian Wassel, the Managing Editor and Lead Writer of CME. CME is a multi-generational family business that started as the group hobby of telling stories and grew into making comics in their basement before fully blossoming into a full business venture. Adrian’s father, Damian Wassel is the president of their company, his brother, also named Damian is the Editor-in-Chief and his cousin, Nathan Gooden, is the Art Director. Thus their business is very close knit and Adrian said that this is a major advantage in the process of writing their stories. For example, when I asked how they approached the process of blending the art of the comic with the script he described it as a, “challengeless procedure,” since his cousin, Nathan, was able to envision and create the world which Adrian was writing even as he still built it. He even said that it often became difficult to picture the world any way other than how Nathan drew it.
Adrian stated that one of their goals at CME was to, “become the HBO of comics.” When I asked him to expand on that he explained that not only did they want to make original and creative storylines, but also that they wanted to pour their love and attention into their comicsdown to the tiniest details.
The Gifted, written by Damian Wassel and illustrated by Nathan Gooden, is one of the first creations of CME and lives up to the lofty goals that the family has for their company. Adrian described it as, “a mostly silent graphic novel,” about a wolf who, “rises to a higher level of consciousness,” in order to bring color back to the world.
Volume 1 of The Gifted is mostly in black and white, but the thick black lines and filled in shapes of the average comic are nowhere in evidence. Instead the entire book is drawn in beautiful watercolors and ink wash. A handful of panels even feature collage aspects, with scenes that look like they were taken from old World War One photography hidden in the landscape. The story is told from a lone wolf’s point of view, which is captured well through the intensity of the artwork and the sparse text. The text itself is frequently onomatopoetic, which strengthens the wolf’s point of view by showing how it perceives the world. The text does just enough work to move the story along without the need for blocks of exposition and also blends well into the art, creating a unification of word and picture that is both compelling and enjoyable. The Gifted is therefore not only an exceptional work of art, but also a wonderful addition to comic book literature.