Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gunned Down

Written by Kako, Ricardo Giasetti, Rafael Coutinho, Pam Noles, PEOV, Fábio Moon, Jeremy Nisen, Clayton Junior, Rafael Grampá, and Shane L. Amaya
Art by Kako, Fabio Cobiaco, Rafael Coutinho, Bruno D'Angelo, PEOV, Fábio Moon, Jefferson Costa, Clayton Junior, Rafael Grampá, and Gabriel Bá

Gunned Down is a collection of short Western comics drawn by Brazilian artists.  Why did the editor, Shane L. Amaya feel the need to construct such an anthology?  I have no idea, but it's a pretty decent book, clocking in at about 175 pages, and priced at only $10 (the book was published in 2005; I'm sure it's pretty hard to find now).

In the short six years since this book was published, Brazilian artists have begun to achieve some serious recognition in the North American comics market.  Included in this book are three of my favourite current artists - Gabriel Bá, Fábio Moon, and Rafael Grampá, in what I believe are their first North American comics.  Moon contributes a cool three-page story about a gunfight.  Grampá delivers a strange four-pager about a Chinese market in the Old West which sells some peculiar cuts of meat.  He draws it in his usual Geof Darrow meets Rick Geary style.  Bá works with the book's editor to tell a long story (forty pages) about a half-breed family and some of their challenges.  It's bloody and rough, but also very impressive.

The coolest thing about this book is that the stories by unknown (to me) creators work just as well.  There is a cool story about Harry Houdini foiling a bank robbery while touring the West (by Nisen and Costa) that is very generous with the ink, and a good story about a woman who ran a stagecoach (by Noles and D'Angelo).

Another forty page story, by Giasetti and Cobiaco, is a little hard to follow, but still interesting.  It looks at the lives of two people, an American Lieutenant and a Native American warrior, who met when they were young and in conflict with each other, and then met again later in life when progress had left both of them behind.  It's good stuff.

Picking this up, I wondered if there would be any one dominant 'Brazilian style' of art, expecting most of the book to look like Bá, Moon, and Grampá, but instead I've discovered a great deal of diversity in the art of that very diverse country.  If any one artist came to mind through most of the stories, it was Danijel Zezelj, whose work many of these artists resemble.

I know this would not be an easy trade paperback to find, but if you are able, you should grab it.  I hope to see more from many of these artists in North America.

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