Monday 1 June 2009

Presuming On His Senses - Power Up by Doug TenNapel

Doug TenNapel is one of those 'can do' people - starting out in animation (Attack of the Killer Green Tomatoes Animated Series), sliding into video games (most notably creating Earthworm Jim) then moving back into tv (Push, Nevada) before establishing a healthy reputation in original graphic novels. Just looking over the back covers of his eight books throws up compliments from the likes of Guilemro del Toro, Jeff Smith and Todd McFarlane. TenNapel's books have a high concept feel to the story balanced with a very human warmth to his characters, all told with confident black and white art. His latest, Power Up follows in line: A down on his luck family man works in a mundane job to finance his dream of designing video games. There's your everyman way into the the story. Then he finds a ancient video game console which produces real versions of power up's - extra lives, shields, weapon upgrades etc. Slowly, something beneficial becomes something chaotic and ultimately dangerous. 

The line work in the art this time round is cleaner and more flowing. As a result maybe some of the energy is lost from previous volumes as is a little of that unique edge but the storytelling is still very good maintaining a healthy pace in the action and humour whilst expertly infusing that all-important eye for human story. There's a lovely simplicity to his work, as if, once he's created the idea and characters, it all comes tumbling out onto the page. Another new work titled Ghostopolis is to be published by Scholastic and has been bought up by Hugh Jackman so it looks like the final frontier of movieland is soon to be charted. There's a nice interview with TenNapel here.

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