Bombast Review: The Bends – One Shot by Charles Pazos
Phil: So, Matt and i were sent a copy of “The Bends” by Charles Pazos to review on our website. I think we’re both excited to get a submission like this.
Matt: Yeah. It’s really cool to get somebody’s work to review or promote.
Matt: And if we knew what we were doing to a greater degree, we would have a review policy published on the website, haha.
Phil: That sounds like a job for you to figure out. I guess to kind of summarize the book a little bit, it’s kind of a dark, noir-feeling sort of book.
Matt: It’s a crime story – I guess it’s in the near future, although there really aren’t any high-tech science fiction elements.
Phil: It has some parts that definitely draw comparison to Frank Miller — especially his work on Sin City — and even Quentin Tarantino.
Phil: There’s some cool gadgets in the book, but overall not too much sci-fi.
Matt: It seems like Charles Pazos is trying to set up a world that he can play with in the future for more stories.
Phil: Definitely. this book feels like one small story within a larger story. It feels like some of these characters are intended to come back in a big way. I think that the main characters are these two hit-men. I love those guys.
Matt: What, just hitmen in general? Or these characters in particular?
Phil: Well, it’s always good to have a few hit-men as friends, but these guys are pretty cool.
Phil: When I brought up the Tarantino-esque feeling of the book, I mostly meant the conversation that those hit-men have in the car on the way to their job.
Matt: Oh, okay. That really felt like a Brian Bendis-type scene. Like in some of his Avengers comics where the Avengers are sitting around a table, eating and talking in the mansion.
Phil: Hmmm… okay, i guess i can see that.
Matt: Or in Powers where the two main cop characters are driving around and having some little mundae conversations while they try to solve a crime.
Phil: I’m definitely amused by any conversation these action types have when they’re not in the middle of a mission. It worked for Tarantino, it worked for Bendis and it works for Pazos.
Matt: The part that just has the two hitmen talking is kinda similar to the scene at the beginning of Reservoir Dogs, where the guys are all in the diner before the action started.
Phil: I think by the end of that scene you have a pretty good idea of who the hit-men are, and they’re actually pretty different from each other.
Matt: Really? I didn’t get that from it.
Phil: Well, one of them likes sushi and the other doesn’t. There’s more to it than that, but I don’t want to give away too much of the book.
Matt: You’re always afraid to give away too much of a book. To back it up, the story starts with a child support hearing in a courthouse, and then we move on to the hitmen, as they go about their mission. They have some kinda fun little banter, and we discover they’re both Colombian, or Colombian-American
Phil: Yeah. At first I thought that the father at that hearing was going to be the main character.
Matt: And we learn a little about their shadowy boss.
Phil: Donovan, the rock star.
Matt: Not Donovan Leitch, who hung out with the Beatles and wrote Sunshine Superman, and Mellow Yellow. Although it would have been cool if it was. I may even have enjoyed it more!
Phil: I see that our interpretations of this book differ a bit.
Matt: Haha! They talk about this shadowy crime-boss and his grandiose vision of himself/possible mental illness. That part of the story kind of made me groan inwardly; it just felt kind of cliche for some reason.
Phil: Yeah, it was a little frustrating to have that much of a set-up for a character that doesn’t directly affect the rest of the book. I do hope that we get to see more of him in the future. I want to see more of how his empire works, and I want to see him in action.
Matt: This eccentric figure that’s standing somewhere offscreen, combined with the feeling of a world that’s building up this end-of-the-world feeling, seemed like something that’s been seen before.
Phil: Well, it’s been seen before because it works. but for me, it mostly works if this book is a prologue to something else.
Matt: It also seemed like something where the writer may have been patting himself on the back a little for adding something strange and original to a crime story.
Phil: It’s fine to have a few issues of Daredevil where they’re talking about the Kingpin. eventually, we do need to see the Kingpin in action.
Matt: I don’t need weird elements in my crime stories, but I guess the ambition of it is something to praise. Also, I am curious to see where Pazos goes with his work in the future. This may be a prologue to something else – the word ‘one shot’ is in the title.
Phil: Matt wants normality in his crime stories.
Matt: Yeah, I think that’s true. The reason why I enjoy EdMcBain is how grounded the police work is in his books. And one of the reasons I enjoy George Pellecanos books is they feel so well-grounded they almost feel like travelogues of the back-alleys of Washington DC.
Phil: That’s an interesting point. I think that The Bends is a book that seems much more realistic than, say, Batman or Daredevil, but it’s still a bit more out there than a lot of prose crime stories.
Matt: They’re a definitely a lot of odd, stylized crime stories in movies too- like certain Tarantino movies, or John Woo. But anyway, back to the story at hand…
Phil: What did you think about the art in this book?
Matt: My issue with the banter of the long conversation scene – is that I feel that, at least personally, I didn’t feel like the dialogue gave me a reason to care about the characters. I wasn’t enjoying it a whole lot, but when it got near the end, there was an internal monologue where one of the characters talks about how he approaches his life and his work as a hitman, and it really made it come together and made it work for me. I was like, “THIS is what makes this character unique.”
Phil: Yeah, it takes a while but it gets there.
Matt: Anyway, back to the art -did you have anything you want to say about the art?
Phil: It was done by putting illustrations over stylized photographs. I’m mostly impressed by the rendering of the photographs into the backgrounds, but the juxtaposition definitely gives a striking effect. It makes the characters pop out a bit more.
Matt: Yeah, the characters are drawn, and the backgrounds for the most part seem to be photographs that were altered into something more graphic and more soaked with mood by using photoshop. I’m curious to know how that was done, I know from my experience using photoshop, that it wasn’t just some easy 1-step trick that everyone knows about.
Phil: Yeah, I’ve had some experience screwing around with pictures like that, and it never turns out that well.
Matt: The art is very clear, and it ‘reads’ well – it’s usually very easy to tell what’s going on. Which I think is priority 1 when you’re making comics art.
Phil: Exactly, and it’s not easy to do when you’re doing art in black and white.
Matt: And there are some backgrounds drawn more by hand, like the interiors of cars, which I know are a pain to draw and get right. The characters are very simply drawn and just slightly cartoony.
Phil: Yeah, they’re kind of boxy a lot of times, which works for me. I like the way that the cartoony looking characters pop against the dark, gritty looking backgrounds.
Matt: I think it works on a practical level, but I found the characters to be a weaker part of the art, and there was some awkwardness to the staging of the characters.
Phil: You mostly see the characters straight ahead or at a profile.
Matt: There were some action scenes where it seemed like all the characters were drawn in profile, and it got to be a little monotonous.
Phil: You don’t get much of the 45 degree turn, or from above or below.
Matt: And also, while I’d say that Pazos does put his best effort into it, it takes a really good artist to make a long conversation in a car visually interesting.
That’s the reason that when you watch Law and Order, and they interview suspects and witnesses in their homes and places of business, the people are always busy doing something. They’re calming a baby or cleaning their house, or trying to fix a vending machine in the convenience store they work in.
Phil: I never noticed that, but you’re right. I always get annoyed when they’re doing something else. I always wish someone would tell them to quit doing the laundry until the police are done asking questions. Yeah, in general I’d say it’s a good job for his first work. Definitely more successful than my first work (which was never completed) or my second work (which was never completed). I would like to see more so that some of these characters can go further. I’d also like to see how the events of this story set off another larger story. We also need to get a good protagonist, someone that the audience can view the world through, not necessarily someone that is going to fix everything, but at least someone that we root for.
Matt: And maybe it might be nice to see how this might work in a story that was larger, but with a little tighter focus. I thought the protagonists were okay, just that the interesting character traits were revealed oddly late in the proceedings. I’ll even say that the lettering didn’t annoy me, and I’m a huge lettering snob.
Phil: I really liked the lettering of the police sirens.
Matt: Well, we’ve started talking about lettering… probably a sign we should wrap up the review…
Phil: Uh-oh. Oh, I thought that was about to be a rant about comic sans or something.
Matt: Haha, no. But I’d like to thank every self publishing comic creator that knows better than to use comic sans in their comic.
Phil: True dat. I definitely also want to give a big thanks to Charles Pazos for letting us read and review his book, The Bends. if you’re interested in reading it for yourself to see what we’re talking about, it’s available on graphicly.
Matt: Its available digitally for now, and I think he plans to release a print version in the future. The way I think graphicly works, if you have an iphone or Android smart phone, (or an e-reader) just do a search in the store for The Bends –One Shot. You can also buy and read it online at the graphicly website on your computer, or read it through facebook.
Interested? Check out “he Bends: One Shot” by Charles Pazos H E R E