By Daniel Way, Sheldon Vella, Joe Sabino and Dave Johnson.
Marvel Comics, January 2011, 32pp (including ads and editorial), $2.99
I haven’t seen nearly enough of Sheldon Vella’s art, an Australian currently living in America, but what I have seen I love. He has a manic, sausagey cartoon style that fills every panel of every page with crazy detail. Crazy in both the senses that there’s a silly amount of it and that its content is obviously deranged. Fun and awesome, but deranged. I guess you would liken him to Geoff Darrow, infused with some Looney Tunes and a little Victor Moscoso. And although the detail may be crazy it never seems to be at the expense of clarity or telling the story, in fact only improving it through considered ornamentation giving texture and personality to settings, props, costuming, etc., and through that, to the characters who own or populate them. This kind of art, done wrong, often leaves me confused and tired, here not so — it does exactly as it should; it energises, excites and informs. Also, it’s down right fun.
The other remarkable and impressive thing about Vella’s contribution here is the fact that he pencils, inks AND colours the issue — usually three people’s duties in the world of mainstream comics. Here he does all three jobs and does them well, with the colouring noticeably enhancing the overall art in a way a separate colourist probably couldn’t due to Vella’s deeper understanding of his own drawings and intentions. He adds depth, texture and interest with tonal and colour variation as an extra layer, perhaps because of forward planning purposefully leaving the quiet, empty spaces in the line work to do it. He wouldn’t be able to rely on a separate colourist to understand and contribute in this way at all. In fact, some colourists would find that to do so would be arrogant.
Lastly, Vella’s ability to draw characters who can act is a key skill needed when tasked with depicting the titular character since Deadpool has a mask that covers his face entirely. This leaves only body and eye shapes and figurative gesture to work with. Or play with, as Vella does. His character drawing certainly tends slightly towards the cartoony end of super-heroics rather than the realistic, and that suits the over-the-top tone of this character and his series. Vella does a great job allowing Deadpool to emote through his full-face mask, and that’s an achievement right there.
The story is part of an ongoing arc, so although it’s fine for what it is — quite pithy, somewhat self-contained, and high with insane action, explosions and jerky humour — it’s only a segment of something larger. Possibly available in your local comic shop’s back issues section, or else, hunt it down online.