The Art of The Comic 

You’re trekking through a murky cave in Egypt with the other members of your anthropological team. You have only a flashlight to battle the darkness.

Suddenly, a member of your team shouts out in excitement. She’s found something. You quickly join the others. Your colleague is gently dusting the wall with a brush. Slowly a story on the wall evolves though pictures and hieroglyphics.

It’s the first comic book.

Cut to: Brett Wood. Wood is holding up a copy of his recently released comic book called Paradigmino. Comics have come a long way.

“Do you think comics are an art form?” I ask Wood as I dive into chips and salsa at a local Mexican restaurant. He doesn’t hesitate.

"Absolutely,” Wood says.

Wood was born in Maryville, Missouri, and attended grade school in Iowa and Arizona. He has always had an interest in art.

After his family moved to Georgia, it was at Effingham County High School (ECHS) that Wood began to get noticed for his talents.

During high school Wood wrote, drew and published three comic books. He graduated from ECHS with honors and numerous art awards, including Governor’s Honors.

After school, Wood began working at his hometown newspaper, the Effingham Herald, where he currently serves as an advertising designer and pre-press manager.

It didn’t take long before Wood’s talents garnered recognition from the newspaper industry. He received several first and second place awards for advertising design and in 2003 won first place for Best Newspaper Illustration from the Georgia Press Association.

But Wood’s labor of love is the work he has done on his comic books. Before the release of Paradigmino, Wood took Scott McCloud’s prestigious “24 Hour Comic Challenge,” in which he wrote and illustrated a 24-page comic book in 24 hours.

“I was drawing since the age of two,” says Wood.

But it wasn’t until he moved to Georgia that he discovered comics. When killing time before seeing Oliver Stone’s J.F.K. at Eisenhower Cinema, he happened into the Comic Box.

“It occurred to me,” says Wood, “that I had just as much fun waiting for the movie to begin as watching the movie.”

Wood was hooked.

He picked up a copy of Spiderman # 12. He found a revelation when reading the credit page.

“It was both written and illustrated by Todd McFarland,” says Wood. “I had always wanted to do both but didn’t know if that was possible. I always imaged that the process was something like making sausage. But here was somebody doing what I wanted to do.”

The next revelation for Wood was discovering underground comics.

“I thought it was so cool, because I didn’t know that you could do comics that weren’t for children,” says Wood.

“Comics are not just superheroes and funny little characters that just live for a gag,“ Wood continues. “Comics deal with biography, ethnic strife, urban decay personal triumphs, crime noir, science fiction and philosophy.”

Wood says that he wants to use comics to explore “the nature of reality and the pursuit of values” and describes Paradigmino as a combination of science fiction and the philosophical.

“With a bit of biography thrown in,” he sheepishly adds. “I tend to write about characters who work at a newspaper.”

It’s not that Wood doesn’t like heroes. “I think that characters should be larger than life and there’s nothing wrong with swashbuckling pirates. But you can find the heroic in the ordinary. I once wrote about an heroic door-to-door salesman.”

Paradigmino is numbered “zero” because it is a stand-alone issue. Wood setting up the background for a series, the first issue of which he hopes to release next year. It took Wood two years to complete Paradigmino; a lot of that time was taken to refine the concept.

Paradigmino’s plot revolves around a missing politician and two journalists who set out to find her. This leads them to a “mysterious nightclub” with some pretty cosmic connections.

Giving credence to Flannery O’Connor’s adage that those who “survived childhood” would never run out of things to write about, Wood says that one of the themes that interest him most, tyranny, comes from observing the bullies of grade school.

“I thought at a very early age that if people would just leave each other alone with their own property things would be okay. School is not the only place you find bullies.”

If you pay attentions to the roster of movies coming out each season, the impact of comic book may be clearly seen.

Comics are also getting “street cred’ in he artistic community. Art Spiegelman’s Maus series, which depicts the experience of Speigelman’s parents as concentration-camp survivors, won Speigelman a Pulitzer Prize. American Splendor, an indie film that received much critical acclaim was about the underground comic book artist Harvey Pekar.

Wood sees a bright future for comics.

“When you write a comic you’re the writer, you’re the artist, you’re the make-up person, and you get to cast the roles. There’s no other medium where you can have that much control,” says Wood.

Comics also have unique qualities to offer the reader.

“The tremendous advantage comic books have over movies, TV and video games is that you don’t have to plug them in to be able to use them, and you don’t need an Internet connection,” says Wood.

“You can take comic books with you wherever you go. You can tuck them under your arm, stick them in your back pocket.”

Wood has a Web site,

www.paradigmino.com, where you can see his work and purchase copies of Paradigmino. You can also purchase Paradigmino mugs, Frisbees, clocks and shirts

And you can meet Brett Wood in person. He will be making several appearances in the Savannah and Atlanta areas and promises a personal sketch for each person who buys a copy of his book.

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Stephen Sacco

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