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Jack Staff #17

A comic review article by: Jason Sacks
One of the things we all love about super-hero comics is the continuity between characters. Readers always love seeing their heroes appear with each other, and love to see how their worlds interact with each others'.

In Jack Staff, Paul Grist has created his own mini Grist universe, a place where tight continuity and character interactions are taken for granted. Jack Staff may be the main character in this series, but he's just one hero amongst many others. Readers have come to know Tom Tom the Robot, Bramble and Son Vampire Hunters, and Becky Burdock Vampire Reporter, among others.

This shared universe of strangeness gives this book a unique feel. The only series that seem similar in style to me are Savage Dragon and Invincible in the way that the series present shared universes of action heroes.

The main thing that all three series share, however, is a unique and idiosyncratic creator at their helm. Like Erik Larsen and Robert Kirkman, Jack Staff creator Paul Grist clearly has a vision for both his series and his characters, a quirky vision that only he can have.

It's been noted many times that Grist's vision is closely influenced by the weekly British anthology comics he read as a kid. In those comics, there were often four or five different short stories presented on a weekly basis; Grist delights in simulating that experience for readers.

The other component of Grist's vision is equally as interesting: he loves experimenting with light and dark, with colors and angles and with subverting a reader's expectations. There's an astonishingly interesting sequence in the second half of this comic where Becky Burdock is fighting with Bramble and Son. In those scenes, Grist does astonishing work with light and with coloring. Grist uses red and yellow and gray in fascinating ways in that scene, using the coloring in conjunction with spectacular page layouts in order to emphasize Becky's isolation and fear.

That sort of work would be showy for most artists, but in Grist's hands, it all looks natural and appropriate. Grist is such an accomplished cartoonist that he does a magnificent job of pulling off such moments.

Every issue Paul Grist puts his heart and soul into creating his own unique comic book experience. Jack Staff never disappoints. Why aren't you reading it?

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