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Author Topic: 'Concrete'  (Read 9454 times)

Colin YNWA

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Re: 'Concrete'
« Reply #45 on: 29 July, 2014, 09:58:23 PM »
You'd think I have the good grace to at least finish the final 3 volumes of the Concrete collections before wading in on here again wouldn't you, however I've just finished 'Strange Armour' (I added the 'u' though I had no right to!) and I'm fair bursting with opinion and thoughts and have nowhere else to splurge them out, except as a well intended, but mis-aimed (no doubt) poorly executed (even less doubt) missive to you lot... or at least the tiny subset of you lot who intersect the two subsets of you lot

a) you lot who can be arsed to wade through my typos to get to my meaning
b) you lot who read Concrete.

Ya niche, but I loves ya.

Anyway I've whittered on enough already so to my point.

I really enjoyed 'Strange Armour' which retells the 'Crete's (I feel we know each other well enough by now) origin but... well its my least favourite of the stories to date. Now I promise you this is not about the fact that it changes stuff. This is not some continuity whine about 'well if this still happened, did this still happen?'. I don't care if 'Moosehead' still happened. I love the 'Moosehead' story and I still have that so whenever I read it, it still happened. Also please note when I say its my least favourite Concrete story, that still makes it better than 98.76% of all comics out there (using the oft quoted 'Colin Taylor havin' read random number scale') it has moments of complete genius. I like that Michael gets kills (do I really need to spoiler tag... well okay then... ) that makes sense. As much as possible its clear that Paul Chadwick wants to box off and put away the whole alien origin thing and so as far as he can he does just that and killing Michael and thus removing that part of the story, or perceived potential stories, makes perfect sense. I love the epiphany Concrete has in the way to his ex-wife's - its done really well... except did it really have to be something as cliche as seeing the bloke in the wheelchair... the club-fisted someone one worse off than me makes me see sense...

and that is at the root of my whole problem with the story. I'm not sure its as effective as the original origin... or maybe it loses as much as it adds and thus becomes to me at least pointless. It becomes heavy handed at times. More importantly it becomes like some Hollywood 'credible' movie. All action is justified feels 'realist'... well as realistic as anything that involved a giant stone man, and makes sense but it feels like its playing to the crowd a little and the whole thing is conclusion, all explanation and fitting things together so that we leave the cinema with a complete picture.

I loved the questions that the first 'origin' left me. The things I had to work out to make sense of how Ron become Concrete. What ticked in his head, how it all worked. I didn't get it feed to me. I sat, read and worked out a conclusion that made sense to me. With the pieces I had.

The worst of this is the action set piece too. I mean really. The last couple of chapters are not the mundane Concrete I know and love. It was like this high tempo set piece. It was NOT mundane. As has been said here before Concrete is at its best when its mundane, or at least appears to be. 'Think like a Mountain' is a perfect example. The conclusion to that is incredibly dramatic, its heart wrenching but it works as it feels so real and grounded. The big punch isn't the gun shot but the statement made by the shootist in reaction. That Chadwick makes us empathise with that very reaction too is testament to his incredible human writing. The heart rending action that leads to that feels almost incidental, we skip over it to get to what it means.

So yeah in 'Strange Armour' we have this big flash bang set piece - fine. In that though we have Maureen become a killer and thus we have a reason for her to be so bonded to Concrete... did we need that... can this be wiped away with 'We've never talked about it since, maybe we should'. It was too convenient and felt too unnecessary. I never doubted her relationship with our led, it worked. It didn't need re-enforcing.

So yeah 'Strange Armour' is very much the strange beast. I almost love that its there. I mean if 'Concrete' at its worst is this good and makes me think and appreciate the whole piece all the more and examine why I have quibbled with it - it simply underlines how fuckin' great this series is.

(some of) the best comics ever.

Hawkmumbler

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Re: 'Concrete'
« Reply #46 on: 29 July, 2014, 10:23:37 PM »
Such an intriguing series. Certainly on my shortlist of titles to chase up.

Spikes

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Re: 'Concrete'
« Reply #47 on: 06 August, 2014, 08:10:43 PM »
A great post Colin, and a very intersting one. Dealing with a subject ive often pondered...


I'm not sure its as effective as the original origin... or maybe it loses as much as it adds and thus becomes to me at least pointless. It becomes heavy handed at times. More importantly it becomes like some Hollywood 'credible' movie. All action is justified feels 'realist'... well as realistic as anything that involved a giant stone man, and makes sense but it feels like its playing to the crowd a little and the whole thing is conclusion, all explanation and fitting things together so that we leave the cinema with a complete picture.

And with that quote, i think you have, unwittingly, stumbled across the answer. But more on that later...


For the longest time, both Killer Smile, and the origin re-telling Strange Armour was the 'Crete tales that had satisfied the least, and were the ones i seldom returned to.

Now, Concrete comics don't sell in their millions, and no business is a charity, so I've often wondered if there had been some kind of pressure to 'sex things up a bit' from time to time?
(Killer Smile was the first tale released after joining the (big news -at the time) Legend imprint - which was the purpose built home for comic big hitters such as; Miller, Byrne, Mignola, Gibbons, etc. As for Strange Amour; An origin tale, or even a re-telling, always gets interest, and can be used to draw people back...)

Then a while back, i found the screenplay - that id never read before, that Paul had worked on for a possible movie of Concrete.
Of course it didn't get anywhere - The script went through many drafts, Bill Murray was interested - at one point, and they was still kinda working on it until the early 2000's

The script i have is dated 1991 (I think, ill have to dig it out...), and it is 100% the 'Strange Armour' tale, which - from memory, came out around '98?

So, Strange Armour is the Concrete movie that we never got.
(And contains all that is good, and bad, about movies. I still think that the request from on high to 'sex things up' also applies - to a degree, with the comics).

But as you so correctly point out, there is still much to enjoy in these tales, even if they aren't quite the Concrete we know and love.
In fact, re-reading these tales, it has reacquainted me with some of my favourite moments in Concrete. Check out those last two pages of Strange Armour, for example...
So its very much 'my bad' for relegating them for so long.

Colin YNWA

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Re: 'Concrete'
« Reply #48 on: 06 August, 2014, 09:23:36 PM »
To before I was firing a gun loaded and handed to me gun as he (Paul Chadwick) does mention in the introduction to the book that its based on the changes to his origin he made for the movie script he'd done.

As said here I've recently read Grendel's complete ongoing for the first time, I've just finished Concrete and I'm currently reading the second Nexus Omnibus before heading into a Flaming Carrot re-read. I don't think its nostalgia speaking when I say however good Image and other Indie's are these days, the books being produced seem more driven to find an audience than these masterpieces. You can't blame folk for that and they are certainly making some good comics in the process BUT they really don't stand up do they... do they?

Hawkmumbler

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Re: 'Concrete'
« Reply #49 on: 06 August, 2014, 09:41:28 PM »
What do we want? FLAMING CARROT OMNIBUSES!!!! When do we want them? As soon as possible please.

Colin YNWA

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Re: 'Concrete'
« Reply #50 on: 19 March, 2021, 09:30:59 AM »
Oh what a necro but I KNEW we had a Concrete thread and loo and behold. Alas I've not seen Spikes around here for a good while and he and Tordelback - who we of course are lucky enough still to have - are what I consider our Concrete experts ANYWAY.

I've started a re-read and that's inspired me to track down the original comics as a treat - I've not collected a series for a while and since I've now completed the boy childs* Phoenix collection (yes,yes it is for him not me... it is...) I've decided these are next. I love my little collected editions and they are a great way to read these comics but the size does frustrate me a little given how precise and exquistite the art so I think originals - and the over-sized shorts collections it is for me and then I'll see what odds and sods to pick up around the sides of these.

Oh and the comics - well I'd forgotten that I'd just read Grendel when I first read these and the same is true and having read the first volume - Depths - I have to say Concrete is just as good. Its truly is wonderful stuff. Just read this thread as not to add to this - though I suspect I will be back to woffle some more cos I help myself.

As an aside and related to the latter posts here I'm just catching up with Nexus too as it happens... funny how these things come togethers and yes indie comics of the 80s are the best comics - that's now a FACT - see I used capitals so it must be true!

zombemybabynow

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Re: 'Concrete'
« Reply #51 on: 19 March, 2021, 07:18:41 PM »
Pardon the pun but concrete f@@king rocks !

Enjoy, so good & really works well in b/w

I grabbed some back issues off eBay to read a few months ago

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Colin YNWA

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Re: 'Concrete'
« Reply #52 on: 25 March, 2021, 02:54:27 PM »
So the original comics continue to drop in and of course they too create more frustration. I love the bigger size, I ADORE the back matter, adverts etc. which I always love in comics as it places the stories in the context of their time and place. And I'm sure I'll love the letters pages BUT there are problems.

The paper isn't as good, certainly in the original series and so the art while bigger, in some cases doesn't ping off the page as in the smaller collected volumes. When colour starts to come in its not that great. I appreciate that the colour in the Colour Special for example is by Elizabeth Chadwick (Paul's wife I believe... on a side note is she the successful novelist?) and so they will have worked closely but I don't think its a brilliant job and certainly isn't helped by the paper and in many ways I prefer the art in black and white.

Then on top of that there's the issue that I now own some of the stories in three formats. Original comics, square bound original collections (these are nice I have to say) and smaller collected volumes - each of which has its own virtues! That's not healthy though, all it makes me want to do is painstakingly example the different versions for differences!

Today the first Collected Short Stories hardcover landed and this is the perfect collection. The art is perfectly reproduced on high quality, over-sized paper which really makes the art sing. The second of these is proving a challenge to get hold of, but I've not been looking for long so I'll continue my hunt.

I wish we could get a series like the Dark Horse collections in a similar format to the Collected Shorts, that would be perfect.... and in later volumes we could get a choice of colour black and white versions... I could get both then! Now that's a Kickstarter I could get behind 100%!

Oh and they remain works of genius, absolute genius!