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Jumping On Point – Jumping On Point: THE NIGHTLY NEWS by Jonathan Hickman

 The Nightly News was originally published as a six-issue limited series from Image Comics in 2008.

The collected edition is available in trade paperback and an anniversary hardcover.

In the months after #occupy, this is required reading for comic book fans angry with the media and the distortions portrayed by the beast.

Hickman currently works on Marvel’s flagship superhero family Fantastic Four as well as the Ultimate Universe version of The Avengers, The Ultimates.

His earlier work such as The Nightly News and Pax Romana showcases his abilities not only as the writer but also as letterer, colorist, designer and artist.

The best way to describe the art is as an infographic. Every page is footnoted, cataloged, referenced, carefully balanced as graphic design and just packed with words.

I had several hard, false starts getting into the book. I’d read a few pages, get lost and distracted.  

The Nightly News went back to the bedside shelf.

I repeated the pattern before instituting a very real deadline for this review. I don’t damn the work. I damn myself for the constant time warp moving in and out of television commercial breaks with the remote control. I broke the TV habit years ago but my lizard brain sometimes perceives the world as the dog in that animated movie, always calling attention to “squirrel”.

Once finished with The Nightly News, I was reminded of the robust skepticism of the media and of media instilled in me by a college professor.

He darkened the room to show us slides. The first slide was of a thin man. That man was the victim of a violent murder. The next slide was the headline in the newspaper, related to the murder. The next slide was of another man. He spoke on the second man’s story. Another headline. The next images were of a police report. The next slides were photos of rocks, branches, sunsets.

Where was the truth in all this?

Of course we hungered for more details. Next, he showed us covers of magazines with politicians. We analyzed the angles of the shot, how each photo was surely chosen from a contact sheet to portray the subject in either a flattering way or an unflattering pose. The nature shots were there to confuse us. The shots were successful in their goal. The portrait of the first man was not a victim of a crime at all, but a photo of the professor himself as a healthy young man. I’ve not trusted a news source other than my own eyes and hands since that day. This is the story as I remember it, but please remember that stories are stories, and you should believe what you want.

Confused? Good. You damn well should be.

The outlined Adobe Illustrator fonts, graphics, logos and symbols in this monochromatic spot color book tell a story of a near-present world where an organization or better yet an ‘entity’ called The Voice is training revolutionaries to assassinate journalists from the major corporate news bureaus.

The Hand – Oracle of the Voice, does recruitment.

Brothers and Sisters hearing The Voice are against six major media corporations in the world. Of course, corporate news organizations are tied into big government so when key players on the media chess board are knocked off, the chill is sent on high to Washington’s top brass.

Is it possible to stop a force of violent revolutionaries with legislation?

How about when the targets are not behind bulletproof glass and metal detectors, but rather in front of the all seeing eye of the TV camera?

Factoids in the book are carefully sourced, referenced and beautifully illustrated by Hickman in a way that could only described as mad. The attention to the points plotted on his graphs is only second to the page layouts, dialogue balloons and head shots that are the language of the comic book page.

The manic merge of USA Today charts and the storytelling dialogue of page layout from over 70 years of comic book creation make for a new art form wherein Jonathan Hickman is the originator and only true master at this point.

I’ve honestly seen nothing like this book, designed by the writer and artist to be appreciated in it’s collected form as a model of high graphic design and unique storytelling. The Image Comics logo on the spine dictates that I’ll be putting this book on my comic book shelf, but hardcover edition of this book would set nicely right next to my copy of Paul Rand: A Designer’s Art.

The subversive tone of the text pays off nicely in the end, and I’m suggesting this book to those angry at the banks, the media, the government, the injustice and inequalities out there in the world.

Is the barrier to entry high?

Yes, a little high. But not too high that a soapbox won’t give you the lift you need to reach up over that fence and hop over.

Come into this Pantone colored world, stay a while, stay hungry, stay skeptical, and stay a little angry.

Most of all—keep your eyes open.

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