Matthew Southworth

Stumptown 5 (January 2013)

892067I get Rucka’s enthusiasm for Stumptown. It’s his thing, he’s proud of it, he wants everyone to be excited for it so he does this silly final issue where he wraps things up and sets up the next story.

But he doesn’t do those things well. Rucka’s been in comics more than long enough and has worked with the guys Southworth is supposed to be aping (Michael Lark and Stefano Guardino)–Southworth comes off like a middle school fan of them, but whatever–so Rucka should know it’s not coming together. If he likes Southworth fine, but don’t write for someone else.

Southworth’s art is bad–he’s going for a digital paint style now, always good to change art styles during a limited series–but the comic reads fast.

The last few pages are all cute, either literally or plot-wise, which is annoying. Rucka should be embarrassed of Stumptown.

CREDITS

The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case, Part Five; writer, Greg Rucka; artist, Matthew Southworth; colorists, Rico Renzi and Southworth; editor, James Lucas Jones; publisher, Oni Press.

Stumptown 4 (December 2012)

884401Oh, wow. I think this issue might be the worst independent comic I’ve ever read. At least put out by a recognized publisher. Rucka embraces television standards all right, as in “A-Team” stupidity.

Most of the issue is a car chase, with Southworth doing double page spreads. The only thing worse than a lazy digital artist? A lazy digital artist doing double page spreads, with a lot of color no less. Actually, he might have brought down the visibility on his line work just to show the color. Or I’m just trying to find the artistic possibility.

There are some pages where the cars are racing in front of their speedometers. It sounds okay, but it doesn’t work. At least not how Southworth does it.

Stumptown is a bad comic book. I’m not even sure I recognize all of the ways. My brain’s probably hiding some of them from me.

CREDITS

The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case, Part Four; writer, Greg Rucka; artist, Matthew Southworth; colorists, Rico Renzi and Southworth; editor, James Lucas Jones; publisher, Oni Press.

Stumptown 3 (November 2012)

881437Southworth has a co-coloring credit this issue, which might explain why all of a sudden the coloring has to do sixty percent of the art’s work. It’s not just shadows, it’s perspective on people, it’s depth, it’s terrible.

Sadly, the corresponding rise in writing quality–when Southworth’s art gets even worse–doesn’t happen here. So it’s not corresponding, last issue was a fluke.

Rucka breaks the issue out into scenes. There’s a big scene with multiple stages, a small scene, another small scene, then the cliffhanger. Maybe something else happens in between but the cliffhanger shows Rucka doesn’t get the downtrodden detective genre.

He ends the issue with Dex up. Except it’s issue three so clearly she’ll have a reversal of fortune.

Another odd thing about the book is the lack of personality to the setting. Southworth draws landmarks; Rucka doesn’t do anything with them, they’re just photo references.

CREDITS

The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case, Part Three; writer, Greg Rucka; artist, Matthew Southworth; colorists, Rico Renzi and Southworth; editor, James Lucas Jones; publisher, Oni Press.

Stumptown 2 (October 2012)

878877The art gets worse this issue. Much, much worse. Southworth quits drawing noses all of a sudden. And the comic being in color does nothing to help it. In black and white, Southworth would have had to do some work, to finish an object. Instead, he lets the colors fill in the blanks and they can’t because Southworth hasn’t got the objects in place to be colored.

Ugly, ugly comic.

But this issue’s a little better. There’s a definite surprise at the end. Even the bad stuff–like Dex flirting with a possible suspect–isn’t as bad as it could be. Maybe because Rucka opens with the worst possible scene, a DEA agent warning Dex off the case.

Maybe if Rucka were trying something different with Stumptown, instead of doing a genre standard. It reads like a TV show, which seems to be Rucka’s goal, but not a successful one.

CREDITS

The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case, Part Two; writer, Greg Rucka; artist, Matthew Southworth; colorist, Rico Renzi; editor, James Lucas Jones; publisher, Oni Press.

Stumptown 1 (September 2012)

875587I was trying to figure out what was wrong with this issue of Stumptown–other than Greg Rucka being really too excited with the idea of a rock and roll case for his detective (he and Matthew Southworth pace the comic like a detective show) and then I noticed.

Southworth drew this comic on a computer. A tablet computer, one of those tablet things you plug into a computer, whatever… His line work is atrocious. It’s boxy and there’s no attention to detail.

It’s really ugly looking.

As for the story, Rucka does a little character work with Dex, the detective, and some bad work with the supporting cast. In the text back matter, he talks about “The Rockford Files” but he’s got Southworth creating his actors. And Southworth doesn’t create interesting actors.

The case, which is seemingly innocuous, immediately becomes dangerous. It’s poorly paced and way too busy.

Yuck.

CREDITS

The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case, Part One; writer, Greg Rucka; artist, Matthew Southworth; colorist, Rico Renzi; editor, James Lucas Jones; publisher, Oni Press.

Stumptown 4 (August 2010)

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The last page of this issue threatens more Stumptown in a really cute way. It’s on the movie theater marquee, with letters missing.

I say threatens because I’ll probably read it and not enjoy it and not get anything out of it.

I think I thought of about six ways private investigator could have gotten the bad guy in trouble. She doesn’t think of any of them. She even has a monologue where she explains how she’s a complete loser.

Apparently Rucka missed the part of the detective story where the seeming loser of a private investigator proves he or she capable in this one very important–to him or her, maybe not the world as a whole–case.

Sure, it’s theatrical and melodramatic, but we’re talking about a theatrical and melodramatic genre. I know Stumptown sold terrible, but it’d have sold worse if it’d been realistic.

Until next time….

CREDITS

The Case of the Girl Who Took Her Shampoo but Left Her Mini, Part Four; writer, Greg Rucka; artist, Matthew Southworth; colorists, Rico Renzi and Southworth; editors, Jill Beaton, Charlie Chu and James Lucas Jones; publisher, Oni Press.

Stumptown 3 (April 2010)

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Did it take me three minutes to read that issue? I’m not sure.

There’s nothing worse than a boring all-action issue. I suppose we get to hear about the big secret behind Stumptown’s mystery, but it’s pretty boring. Rucka has no talent for making the mundane seem intriguing.

Mostly what he gives the reader this issue is a couple women accusing the other of being gay.

After Batwoman (and Montoya in Gotham Central and Carrie in Whiteout), Rucka really needs a new schtick. Or maybe he could create some maybe lesbian comic book character who isn’t hot.

Umm. What else.

The art. Something’s definitely wrong with the art this issue. They’ve changed colorists and while the new guy isn’t as good as Lee Loughridge, he’s not bad. Southworth’s getting rushed here. Instead of looking deliberately hurried, he’s looking lazy.

Still, I’m generally okay with the book. It’s just unimaginative.

CREDITS

The Case of the Girl Who Took Her Shampoo but Left Her Mini, Part Three; writer, Greg Rucka; artist, Matthew Southworth; colorist, Rico Renzi; editor, James Lucas Jones; publisher, Oni Press.

Stumptown 2 (December 2009)

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I’m mildly tempted to use this space to discuss innovative private investigator storytelling, specifically The Big Lebowski and “Eyes.” If you hadn’t guessed, Stumptown–as a detective story–has failed to make an impression.

Right now, with Stumptown, I’m concerned with two things. First, is Dex gay? Second, does she know the guy her brother works with–I can’t remember the guy’s name but the brother’s name is Ansel–likes her? I only have the first question because of the second.

Rucka’s also implying a lot of backstory from the scenes. The police captain doesn’t care about Dex being shot because she is a private investigator and broke up his marriage.

Rucka’s universe for Stumptown requires a lot of people not to do their jobs. The handling of Dex’s shooting, for example, is ludicrous. I’m pretty sure “Barney Miller” handled such things more believably.

But it’s a fine enough read.

CREDITS

The Case of the Girl Who Took Her Shampoo but Left Her Mini, Part Two; writer, Greg Rucka; artist, Matthew Southworth; colorist, Lee Loughridge; editor, James Lucas Jones; publisher, Oni Press.

Stumptown 1 (October 2009)

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Hmm.

It reads well. Stumptown definitely reads well.

Rucka doesn’t go cheap on content either, it’s a solid length read for a modern comic book. He introduces a lot of characters, some backstory… he gets a lot done here.

I like this Matthew Southworth art too. They’re clearly going for a gritty, realistic feel and Southworth brings it. Deliberate but impulsive. They do the same thing with the lettering too. The stray lines make the art (and word balloons) pop.

My lack of enthusiasm, however, stems from having seen and read all this stuff before. It’s a female private investigator with a gambling problem who takes care of her younger, but still adult brother who has Downs; she also might be a lesbian.

Boiled down, she’s a world-weary PI with money troubles. I’m pretty sure Sam Spade was a world-weary PI with money troubles.

The adornments don’t make her different.

CREDITS

The Case of the Girl Who Took Her Shampoo but Left Her Mini, Part One; writer, Greg Rucka; artist, Matthew Southworth; colorist, Lee Loughridge; editor, James Lucas Jones; publisher, Oni Press.

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