Review: Drawing Blood by Kevin Eastman and David Avallone

Often when us fans get into movies, cartoons, comics and toys it all becomes about the characters that pulled us into the show.  Be it Star Trek, Ninja Turtles, Care Bears, My Little Pony, X-Men, and so many other amazing properties out there.  We each find our way into those series, the world created around these characters and get lost.  We find something that we personally connect too, which makes that world seem like it’s special to us and only us.  No one will ever understand our world, because they could never see it from our eyes.  Making each fan so different from the next one.  The world of those characters, becomes so important to the fans in a whole, that people don’t often realize what creators go through to get those worlds to us in the first place.  Which is what leads us to the new Comic Book “Drawing Blood” about a creator of a property that became big, then sold off and still has fans worldwide over 25 years later.  I’ve recently read “Drawing Blood” and am here to share my thoughts.

 

Shane Bookman created the “Radically Rearranged Roin Ragdolls” in the 1990’s with his brother Paul Bookman.  Though once things got big, the two of them sold out and are no longer the owners of their own creation.  We follow Shane through his life, as he’s got new adventures and dreams to follow, while dealing with a mess that he did not even cause.  Shane’s life is not an easy one, and he’s just trying to get by with all the stresses he has on him.  Which makes for a great read.

It’s hard to say too much about the plot without giving away details on the story.  Though it’s very clear to me that a lot of this is taken from the life of one of the men behind this book, Kevin Eastman.  David Avallone and Kevin Eastman created “Drawing Blood” to share stories from a different point of view.  And as a Ninja Turtle fan I grew up loving the work of Kevin Eastman, I’ve even have had the honor to meet him many times, talk with him and feel he’s a friend.  Though it’s never been where we hang out or even talk often, when we do see each other it’s as if time has not passed, we talk about life and catch up a little.  Mostly he’s busy with events, so I try not to take up much of his time.  Though I’ve never had a bad meet up with him, and am Thankful for each moment we’ve got to talk.

I can’t say I’ve studied up on Kevin Eastman’s life, because I never dug for information.  In fact, I’d rather not dig for personal stuff on people that I’m a fan of, even if they are friends.  I feel if they want me to know, I’d hear it from them.  I fan too many amazing people to study deeply into any one of them.  I enjoy their work, and will read stories about current projects if I come across them.  With Kevin though, I have been meeting up with him since 1992 when we first met at Turtle Con.  I had my first real conversation with him at the Words & Pictures Museum Membership Party in 1994, and since I feel like I’ve been along for the ride at times when meeting his family at the events to where I’ve heard a lot about him.  Which is one of the reasons “Drawing Blood” has pulled me in.

“Drawing Blood” blurs the lines between reality and fiction, that’s the best way I can put it.  As I see characters and plots that seem to be inspired through Kevin’s real life.  When reading it, I feel like I know some of these characters in person.  Which makes the book really deep and strong, and it’s a side of things that I have witnessed all too often, things I don’t think many fans really notice, or even know about.  Like, how much their words can hurt or carry a creator during their lives.  This book carries such strong messages of what it can be like being on their side of property that they brought to the world for us all to enjoy.

Some points in the comic that really stood out to me. 

One: Learning about Shane’s past, creating the Ragdolls and how much drawing meant to him as a child.  I wonder how much of that flows straight from Kevin’s past as we know he loved art all his life, he talks about it at events all the time.  Drawing was a strong passion for him, and what’s really cool is that Kevin is the artist who drew the flashbacks in “Drawing Blood”.  Going through the early days of Shane’s life, is so well done that I got excited with each flashback.  I grew up in a family of artist, and can understand those feelings of hope and excitement with the idea of doing something big.  One of the Flashbacks that really stood out was where Kevin’s mom got after him for not doing his chores because he was drawing.  It’s written so well, and you can really feel the emotions between the characters through the art.

Two: New York City Comic Con is in this comic!  Yes, it is New York City Comic Con, I’ve been going to that convention since February 2006 and that is the convention center, the feel of the building and crowd.  Cosplayers, fans being outspoken about things they’re upset over in the fandom that they care about, and artist alley.  One of my favorite scenes in the comic happens at NYCC, when Shane is in artist alley.  He meets a character named Amanda, who has created her own story that has caught his eye.  The conversation between the two of them flowed so well and just has me wanting to see more of her character.  This is the type of thing you do see at conventions, can and has happened in real life.  It’s so cool to see this in a comic!

Three: The Passion, while Shane is depressed, burned out, and broke he still has a drive to take this new road.  To see his new project through and make this dream a reality.  He cares about those around him, and wants to see them go through with their dreams.  And Shane truly wants to make the fans happy, as he realizes how much these characters have done for the fans.  To the point of pushing buttons with the big people to make things right for the fans.  Overall, you see a man who just wants to do something right that he can enjoy being a part of and at the same time many others will be able to embrace

On the side of the fandom, I have watched so much happen through the years that keeps giving creators new stories of how hard it is for them.  Often it’s because fans think we have the right to say what they “can” and “can not do” with the characters we grew to love, but the hard fact is “We are not the creators”, “What we enjoy of the characters will never be destroyed as old content will remain out there”, and “If we think we can do it better, step up and try it.” 

 

Each person who takes the hand of a creation which made it big, takes risks with changing anything, fans take it out on everyone, including other fans.  And if it’s the creators who take the risks, fans still get angry.  Be it a new origin or the changing of how a main character’s name is spelled.  Creators can be torn apart.  It’s not easy on their side, as you can never please everyone and they should be able to try new things with the stuff they created.  Sometimes this makes those who created things bitter, and wanting to step away from their own creation.  The fans do not realize the power they have in words.  Which is one of the things shown in this comic.

With how much this story captured me, holding me to every last word in the book, the artwork held true to that feeling.  With all the layouts handled by Ben Bishop, it took the touch of two other artist to bring the full feel to the pages of the comic.  As mentioned Kevin Eastman handled the flashback artwork, holding the heart of history within each panel.  Bringing us to the past that Shane had shaped his life around.  An artist named Troy Little did the Hallucination scenes in the story. 

Hallucinations, yes they do happen in this comic.  I mentioned earlier than Shane is broken, he’s gone through so much and has more stressful events ahead of him.  More than once in the story, he has hallucinations of the Radically Rearranged Ronin Ragdolls.  I do enjoy the switch of artwork here, it’s not popping out crazy but different and cartoony enough to help make the feel show that this is not happening for anyone, besides for Shane.  They did a great job in choosing Troy to do this section as the style he uses flows well into the story.

The art of this comic is so well done, and I truly do feel a lot of it can be thanks to Ben Bishop.  Doing the layouts for the comics kept a flow that traveled through the full comic from artist to artist.  Nothing ever threw you out of the moment, which is important for a good read.  And the color work by Brittany Peer and Tomi Varga only helped make the art an details that were meant to draw our attention just pop out at us in a nice way.  I really enjoyed the style in which this series was done. 

I can’t say I have any real down sides or complaints on this comic.  As soon as I finished reading it I texted and called friends to see if they’ve had the joy of reading the book.  I really would like to see if our views are different from each other in how we took in the story.  I find it thrilling to have that mixture of reality and fiction, and think this is a story that could help share stories that normally can not and will not be shared with the masses.  It’s risky and at the same time safe, as we may never know which stories are true to their real feelings or made to carry a comic book series. 

I highly recommend “Drawing Blood” to anyone who’s interested in the world behind entertainment.  Not just comics, but every type of entertainment as creators of all realms of characters go through stresses and choices that will never please all of their fans.  If you get the chance to pick up “Drawing Blood” do not miss out on this epic view and jump at that chance to follow the story of Shane Bookman.

Have you read “Drawing Blood”?  If so, what is your thoughts on this series?  Did you enjoy this read as much as me, or did you think it needed a car chase or two?  Please share your reviews, comments and questions below!

Entertainment Earth

 


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