TROUBLE CITY

A Letter to a Comic Book Artist

BlogsBrad WitzelComment

About two weeks ago I wrote this letter, which I'd like to share with you all because it's somewhat of a review of a comic book that I believe everyone should be reading.  Christopher Mitten is a very good comic book artist who does the art for Wasteland.  He did send me a rather pleasant and grateful reply to the following letter, but requested (for valid reasons) that I don't post it.  So, just let it be noted that the guy is pretty damn cool and does take the time to respond to his fans.  Enjoy!

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Mr. Mitten (or Christopher if you prefer);
 
While wandering the floor of Wizard World Chicago this year, I found myself in Artist's Alley without any real sense of direction or purpose.  I never plan to spend much money in Artist's Alley, especially on random projects I've never heard of that now usually has to do with the oversaturated zombie comic book, but I keep my eye out for something truely unique.  Sometimes I might buy a sketch, sometimes a book, but that's only if I somehow become genuinely intrigued and impressed by the artist's work and the story the book involves.
 
As I was shambling by, my gaze fell upon your table.  More specifically, I spotted Queen & Country: Declassified Vol. 3.  I've been a longtime fan of Rucka's espionage series, so I stopped on by.  We started to discuss Q&C
, and I was surprised that I had somehow missed this volumn.  Once I found out that it centered around Poole, I had to pick it up (although, looking back, I was probably destined to part with my money the second I spotted the book).
 
To be honest, at this point I hadn't even really
looked at your art.  All I really did was a quick once-over, which I deemed satisfactory, Queen & Country
was always more about the writing for me, stemming from my own inability to draw and my love for words.  As long as I could follow the art, I was fine.
 
You were a pleasant conversationalist, but I had received what I had stopped by for.  I turned slightly, one step closer to walking away.  That's when you uttered the words I had been expecting the whole time.  Almost everyone in Artist's Alley says the same thing when a conversation nears it's conclusion.  It usually goes along the lines of "Oh, did you check this one out?  This is [name of book], which is the main thing I've been working on, yadda yadda yadda..."  Well, since you had been rather nice this whole time I turned back around and checked out the book you wanted to sell me.  I didn't expect to buy it.  I was running low on my budgeted money for the weekend, and Sunday hadn't even come around yet.
 
The book, as you well know, was called
Wasteland
.  You gave a pitch.  Surprisingly, I was intrigued.  I had heard of similar projects before, but in the end I'm a sucker for the post-apocalyptic western-ish genre with a bad-ass lead character.  I found my teeth grinding as I thought about how much money I had left in my wallet.  The table had two volumns of trade paperback, and I knew beyond a doubt that if I was going to dive in that I'd have to pick up both.  After a deep breath, and some self-reassurance, I handed over my cash and took the books.
 
I nearly felt sick later in the day, looking back on how much money I had spent throughout the convention.  Going through my purchases in my head I started to chastise myself for picking up two volumns of a book that I didn't really have any prior inclinations to read.  Upon arriving home from the convention, I put the trades of
Wasteland
in the pile of "to read" that I had accumulated.  It wasn't high on my priority list.
 
But, eventually I arrived at volumn one - Cities in Dust
.  I made myself comfortable and dove in.  Suddenly, I found myself immersed in an intricate and complicated world.  My mind swam with visions of mutants and fanaticism, incredible powers and the atrocities of slavery.  What I had first deemed "adequate" artwork, now became the only way I could imagine this world.  Kudos, Mr. Mitten.  You've won me over more than most artists could ever do.  As amazing as the story was, your renditions of the characters and world became the nail in my coffin.  I'm hooked.  When I finished Cities in Dust
it was three in the morning.  I had to be up for work in two hours, but it had been completely worth it.
 
I quickly read the second trade the next night.  Now, the only problem I've run into is that I'm a little bit OCD with my collecting. I can't switch to single issues after reading trade paperbacks.  So, I'll have to be the most impatient fan in the world while I wait for a third volumn to come out.
 
Anyhow, I just wished to express my thanks for convincing me to pick up this series.  Thanks for doing such an amazing job on it.  And thanks for genuinely being a pleasant, happy, and friendly person -- which isn't the case for every writer/artist you meet at a convention.
 
I'll recommend the book to anyone I can.
 
Thanks Again,
A New Fan
Brad Witzel, the suburbs of Chicago, IL
07/25/2008