Paul Pope
Paul Pope may very well be the most expressive master of the ink brush currently producing work in comics. Yes, his plotting is often incoherent, yes, he constantly obsesses over the same themes and constantly focuses on rendering the same types (over and over and over again), yes, he indulges all his whims, yes, his work ethic leaves much to be desired, but none of this changes the fact that he is in possession of a powerful talent that he is in the process of working to harness. His flair and dash with the ink brush is simply startling, yet he manages to contain all this protean energy in compositions that are solid and constantly so. His eye is simply unerring: this is a true and rare gift. His concepts, while often over-reaching and muddled as a result, nevertheless provide ample evidence that a well-learned intelligence is behind them. Discipline is what is lacked, but this can be expected to improve with age. It is, however, possible that Pope's narcissistic self-involvement may prove fatal to his talent. Only time will tell, of course, but what the future holds has no bearing on the work he has already produced that is available to us now in the present. The energy level embodied in Pope's work of the late 1990s is palpable and without peer. On a formal level, Pope is perhaps the sole American practitioner of comics who has managed to fully integrate an understanding of Japanese manga with the art of twentieth century Europe -- fine arts, commercial arts and comics -- and then incorporate these into the American tradition; forging a truly unique body of work in the process. Pope's comics represent a distilled essence of the world of comics that is well worth savoring. In short, his flaws are great but his talents are greater; and what’s more, he believes in comics. His work deserves our attention. Let's hope that it continues to do so.
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