My dad was passing through town this weekend and stopped by yesterday to stay overnight. He took me out to dinner and presented me with a bag full of birthday gifts. (Today being my birthday and all.) Most of it was comic book related stuff I was looking for, and the off-the-list gifts were even ones that largely had a comic related theme to them and I had eyed briefly when they originally came out. (Notably the Batman Hush action figures. Mom had evidently found them dirt cheap at Marc's, a northern Ohio department store that sells mostly close-out type items. They'd removed the price tags when they gave them to me, of course, but knowing the store and my mom, I'd wager that they weren't more than two or three bucks each!)
The big gift I got, though, was this piece of original artwork...
It's the last page of the final issue of The Thing: Freakshow written by Geoff Johns and drawn Scott Kolins. The Thing walking off down the road on a very long hike in the rain after successfully defeating two alien invasions by himself. When I saw the piece originally in the comic, it struck me as particularly emblematic of the character and even if you don't know anything about him, you know darn well that he's got a lousy day ahead of him.
I've come to appreciate Kolins' work more since this story first came out. His linework is somewhat deceptive, and what he sometimes seems to lack in depth of line, he more than makes up for in attention to nuanced detail. Body language, facial expressions, that sort of thing. Kolins really seems to have a knack for portraying characters inner thoughts and feelings visually.
The piece is especially powerful for me now, because of other events in my life. For the past month, I've felt exactly like what Kolins has put Ben through on this page. (Almost ironic, considering that in the past month, we've had a total of 1/3" of rain and an average high temperature of 94°F with several days breaking 100.)
I'm really pleased with the birthday presents from my folks. And I got a very pleasantly surprising phone call from my brother-in-law last night. But you know, there are just some things that no amount of incredibly cool (if geeky) gifts can compensate for, and it just seemed strangely apropos that my biggest gift reflect my mood so well.