And then JH Williams III went ahead and won himself an Eisner.
“This…this is awkward. I hadn’t expected you to be…to be so wonderful.”
Promethea is one of my favourite series of all time. There’s really nothing else like it, blending together a veritable treatise on storytelling and imagination along with magick and the occult. They had been nominated during the 2000 Eisner Awards cycle, but it wasn’t until 2001 where they won Best Single Issue for Promethea #10 from Alan Moore, Williams, Mick Gray, Jeromy Cox, and Todd Klein.
This is the sex issue.
Or sex magick issue, rather. As Promethea is initiated into magical instruction through intercourse. All things considered, it’s actually pretty tame, but it introduces mainstream comics to various ideas of fertility gods, kundalini yoga, and the hermetic magick concept of the Holy Grail as representation of the divine female. The more graphic ideas presented in symbolism, perfectly fitting the themes of the story itself.
“Truth is beauty.”
With Promethea, JH Williams III solidifies that he is a master storyteller. Alan Moore’s words are dense and the topics can be quite heavy. Williams sublimates them, working magic, and transforms what could be dry, yet fascinating, material into visual delights. His layouts here are complex and varied, giving a kind of inventiveness to them indicative of someone like Will Eisner or Winsor McCay, but it’s never hard to follow. Rather, layouts like a set of panels in the shape of an ouroboros serpent, only enhance and enrich the story. It’s magic.
That flow and ease of readability is also accomplished through how Todd Kelin often chains the word balloons. Making it easy to follow around some of the more complex panel transitions. With the overall magic of the artwork elevated by the structure of Mick Gray’s solid lines in his ink work and in Jeromy Cox’s colour choices. The old, somewhat creepy magus getting a dingy green cloak, while there are stars and light emanating from Promethea’s nethers.
Also, some jokes from Moore’s dialogue helps to keep it from being too creepy.
“That was pretty good, huh?”
I think that Promethea is a series that everyone should read. Both for the absolutely fabulous story and for how it tells that story. Because the structure is as important as the content here. And there’s a wealth of material to learn. Promethea #10 from Moore, Williams, Gray, Cox, and Klein just scratches the surface of the magic that will come.
Classic Comic Compendium: Promethea #10
Writer: Alan Moore
Penciller: JH Williams III
Inker: Mick Gray
Colourist: Jeromy Cox
Letterer: Todd Klein
Publisher: DC Comics / Wildstorm – America’s Best Comics
Release Date: August 30 2000
Available collected in Promethea – Volume 2, Absolute Promethea – Book One, and Promethea – Deluxe Edition: Book One
Read past entries in the Classic Comic Compendium!