Black and white: Day three

Paul Chadwick's Concrete

Most recently, Paul Chadwick has recieved much critical acclaim for his work on comic-book movie tie-ins such as Star Wars and the Matrix. Amazingly it has been almost seventeen years since I first started reading his work, and despite recent high profile titles, his own creation, Concrete remains one of my personal all-time favourite comics.

Concrete is the unconventional story of speech writer Ron Lithgow. On a camping trip in the mountains, Ron is abducted by aliens who transplant his brain into an artificial (concrete) body. Having escaped, Ron must come to terms with his new life as Concrete, a story which is touching and very 'human'. As well as putting his new body through its paces by climbing Everest and swimming the Atlantic, Ron also grapples with his lack of manhood and develops a passion for erotic art.

Concrete has always been graced by some beautiful colour covers, and later series (and reprints of earlier stories) are presented in colour. When I first started reading Concrete in early issues of Dark Horse Presents, the quality of Chadwick's draftmanship shone through in his black and white images. Somehow, the black and white illustrations still seem more 'real' than the coloured versions and colour seems almost an irrelevance.

Unusually, on Concrete Chadwick writes, pencils and inks the stories, one of the reasons that there have been relatively few over the years.

The first new Concrete story for six years, Concrete: The Human Dilemma, should be in your local comic store by now. And there is a wonderful anthology of Concrete available from Amazon.

Does anyone share my passion for Concrete? What comics do you read?


  1. #1 On December 14, 2004 08:07 AM Bill Allan said:

    Thanks for your recommendation of Concrete and artist Paul Chadwick, I'll follow that up.
    My favourite western series ever is Lieutenant. Blueberry illustrated by Moebius. The third saga is the most impressive beginning with the Chihuahua Pearl

    The last graphic novel I bought was Road to Perdition. Richard Piers Rayner spent 4 years on the B/W art.

    I always look at the page of the day for my daily fix of Alex Toth. Terrific First World War story going on at the moment.

  2. #2 On December 14, 2004 08:33 AM Pete said:

    Have never actually picked up a copy of Concrete, but it appears as though perhaps I should have taken a look.

    Although I dont have much chance to read comics these days, tight budget and all, I used to rock out on among others, Frank Miller for his nasty black and white gear, but I aslo really dug stuff by James Kochalka and also Chris Ware for the story stelling and the home made print making feel there work contains.

    Aside from the above I did get into Grendel for some marshal arts action.

  3. #3 On December 14, 2004 09:07 AM Matthew Pennell said:

    Great write-up, Andy. A friend lent me a collection of Concrete stories years ago, and ever since I always keep an eye out for more in comic stores or on eBay.

    Before someone else gets in I'll mention that grandaddy of all comic writers, Alan Moore, creator of the greatest comic book of all time, Watchmen.

    I'm also partial to a bit of Fantagraphics-style American indie stuff - Peter Bagge, Chester Brown, Joe Matt, Daniel Clowes...

  4. #4 On December 14, 2004 09:09 AM Matthew Pennell said:

    ...oops, just noticed the illustration you've chosen for the 'Black and White, Day Four' article - also a fan, I take it?

  5. #5 On December 14, 2004 04:28 PM Malarkey said:

    @ Matthew Pennell:

    I have a copy of Watchmen number one, signed by Alan Moore to sell with a whole bunch of other comics, including first printings of the Dark Knight Returns, possibly on eBay soon.

    (I have to save up for my new Lambretta somehow ;) )

  6. #6 On December 15, 2004 07:55 AM Bill Allan said:

    I told a lie, the last graphic book I bought was The Art of the Matrix. The Wachowski brothers used this 400 page b/w storyboard comic book to convince the studio bosses to make the first film in the Matrix series. Beautifully drawn by Steve Skroce with the occasional realistic colour storyboards by Tani Kunitake and Colin Grant. There are also 4 double-sided gatefolds of conceptual drawings by Geof Darrow. And you know what, there's not a single text balloon anywhere.

  7. #7 On December 17, 2004 08:20 PM Max said:

    I'm a huge fan of Concrete. My friend forced me to read that collection you linked to. Chadwick was just a breath of fresh air, not only with his line work, but also with his storytelling. I hope he releases some new stuff soon - the market could finally be more appreciative of his work.

    My favorite story out of that whole collection was how he helped that family with their farm and made it super-functional. I thought that was the coolest!

    Thanks for reminding me that I need to grab that collection one of these days for my bookshelf!

  8. #8 On December 17, 2004 08:40 PM Malarkey said:

    Listen up!
    Go check out Max Riffner's Golden Boy! (comment above).
    That man has real talent! Fantastic stuff!

  9. #9 On December 18, 2004 04:01 PM Dean Edwards said:

    I used to love Concrete. Another comic from the same era with a similar feel is Scott McCloud's Zot!
    Scott is of course now hugely famous thanks to his book Understanding Comics but it was Zot! that got him started. There is an online version for those who want to dip their toes before taking the plunge...

  10. #10 On December 20, 2004 02:21 PM TooL said:

    I've been hooked on two notable mangas recently. I find the art simply amazing.

    The manga's are Battle Royale and Vagabond

  11. #11 On December 30, 2004 05:33 PM Iain said:

    I used to read Concrete in the Dark Horse comics I was able to find here in the UK and always found its wry humour preferable to that found in Marvel, DC et al. I had forgotten about it for a long while, however. Your post has brought memories flooding back.

    As to your question, my personal favourite of all time has to be Maison Ikkoku by Takahashi Rumiko. Warm and funny, this slapstick has memorable characters and a wonderful storyline that evolves over several years during which time actually passes for those involved bringing real changes to their lives. Not for everyone maybe but I could recommend it without hesitation.

    Other throwaway names of comics I read are: Aliens, Elfquest, X-Men, Appleseed...