Pride of Baghdad
Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon
I like to talk about art in comics. Art is cool. Art makes me happy, and, just as in the writing, excellence or the lack thereof can make or break a comic. I mean, I can still read a well-written comic with terrible art, just as I can read a terribly-written comic with beautiful art. But it will make me a sad, solemn creature. It's not nearly as much fun.
Not that Pride of Baghdad is really fun, but it's certainly well-written and beautifully illustrated. The animals are well-drawn without being Disneyish, because I don't think anything could kill the mood of this quite like a little glimpse of Simba. Simba's cute and everything, but Ali looks a lot more like an actual lion.
Care was obviously taken to draw animals that actually looked like they would in real life, and I appreciate that. Like I said, no Disney. The antelope looks like a real antelope, the monkeys look like real monkeys, and that bear is fucking terrifying. I don't know how much of an animal guy Niko Henrichon is, but at least he cares about getting his illustrations to look right.
Besides the accuracy of the animals, I was very impressed by the coloring. Reading Pride of Baghdad is sort of like swimming in paint; everything is intense, very heavily saturated. The zoo is yellow. Safa's flashback is blue and red. The outside, in the wilderness, is green, and the city is golden. And then in the palace it's the same blue-black as Safa's flashback, but with a yellowish-green tint. It's got the same atmosphere of terror. It's very cool flipping through and seeing how much care was put into coloring things properly.
My one problem was that sometimes things were too detailed. Getting the lines on a lines mane right is one thing, but when the zoo is bombed and the giraffe's head blows up I didn't really need to see individual vertebrae. That was just...gross.
It's worth a look from an artist's perspective. I certainly couldn't do it, but I'd like to meet someone who could. That would be awesome.