Writer: Ben Raab
Pencils: Salvador Larroca
Inks: Scott Koblish
Colours: Kevin Tinsely & Graphic Color Works
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft & Kiff Scholl
Editors: Matt Idelson & Paul Tutrone
Original Publication date: March 1997
This week, we’re focusing on the formal techniques of our new regular penciler, the artist formally known as Salvador Larroca, in Excalibur #107, “Focus”! To help us concentrate through the chaos, we’ve recruited venerable comics scholar Chris Galaver, author of the recent book The Comics Form, to help us, talking splashes, insets, pacing, excess, upside down transforming plane-cars, and why a crack in the pavement takes up most of one page. Plus! Mav spills secrets from the set of Zack and Miri make a Porno…?
“The standard, rectangular panels Larroca uses for the flashbacks, a style he doesn’t use for the rest of the issue… brand them as being ‘a long time ago’…” -Chris
“I’m not one to defend Pete Wisdom, but… this writer really hates Pete Wisdom.” -Andrew
“Branded stuff is great. We have t-shirts for our show. But we’re not wearing t-shirts for someone else’s show. And that’s what this book has done. It’s said—they’re X-Men first.” -Mav
“Salvador Larroca appears to have drawn this right side up and flipped it. Which makes it very difficult to decode. Because it wasn’t drawn to be looked at upside down.” -Chris
On bodily machines:
“The interweaving of machines and mutant bodies communicates the fantastic technological context in which these characters exist.” -Anna
“Larroca is clearly being inspired by a whole bunch of other superhero comics artists, but also—by video games and manga. He’s got a chaos that’s unique to him.” -Mav
“I would question what the use of inset panels is achieving here. It’s disorienting us, but to what end?” -Anna
Also! Hey look, there’s a video version of the X-Men Syllabus episode of VoxPopcast, featuring Mav, Anna, and Chris!
Want more Chris Galaver?
Chris Gavaler is an associate professor of English at Washington & Lee University, comics editor of Shenandoah Magazine, and series editor of Bloomsbury Comics Studies. He has published six books of comics and comics-related scholarship, including On the Origin of Superheroes and his most recent book, The Comics Form from 2022. His current book project is tentatively titled The Color of Paper: Representing Race in the Comics Medium. He blogs (mostly) about comics weekly at The Patron Saint of Superheroes.