1988: Scout: War Shaman

Scout: War Shaman (1988) #1-16 by Timothy Truman et al.

I had originally intended to cover Scout: War Shaman in the original Scout blog post, but since there were two in-continuity miniseries in between, I split it up into two posts. And as usual when I get to issue 25 of something (which this, in effect is), I don’t really have that much to say about it, so this is going to be short. Ish. Shortish. Only like 30 screenfuls. Your thumbs are already thanking me.

The first issue of Scout: War Shaman is an all-painted, all Tim Truman issue, and I assumed that that was the reason for the hiatus and the relaunch. In addition, the covers are printed on a heavier cardboard stock, which gives it all a high class feel.

It’s rather let down by half the pages being printed in a an extremely shoddy and blotchy manner: Reading some of these captions is rather a chore. But they also seemed to signal a departure in how Scout is told. It’s now all told as a flashback from the point-of-view of one of Scout’s sons, who’s in captivity, 15 years (or something) after the events we’re being shown here.

So everything’s different from the first series. Other than Truman still vacillates between being able to render faces to, er, not.

Truman explains that he (and his wife) went on a trip to visit various First Nations and get some reference snaps before doing this series.

But then… in issue two he inexplicably drops the painted style and reverts to his normal inks. The storytelling approach also somewhat goes back to what we’re used to, but without the inventiveness or excitement.

Truman adapts an Apache creation myth, which is kinda fun but rather opaque. I never understood what made the “monsters” so monstrous, which made Our Hero killing them seem rather pointless…

In every letters page Truman insists that Scout: War Shaman is monthly now, but the indicia stubbornly insists that it’s bi-monthly. Until a few issues before the end, when it says “monthly” and then the schedule starts slipping.

It’s a curse!

Truman doesn’t draw children very convincingly, either.

Heh. There was a competition where the readers were invited to send in pictures of manly men/womanly women, and they definitely seem to have given the first prize to the correct contestant.

Suddenly! Disco dancing breaks out!

They also had a poll where people voted for their favourite Scout anything. I’m not sure much was learned.

“Too bad your review was so misinformed” Truman says to a reviewer who apologised for not sending a copy of the review to Truman. This makes me curious what the review said, so let’s see.

Peter Cashwell, The Comics Journal #123:

The most damnably infuriating thing about the production on this song, however, is that shaker part. God, the shaker part. Not only is it twice as loud as anything else in the song—no, three times as loud—it’s not even well-played. Instead of providing a percussive counterpoint to the drums, it completely obscures them with a mushy wall of static. The end effect is something like listening to a band playing next to a working gravel spreader; it’s actually painful to hear.

Well that fun and all, but it was mostly a rather effusive review: He compliments Truman on his guitar playing and on writing good tunes and stuff; he just doesn’t think the production is much up to snuff.

I don’t really see much that “misinformed” may be applied to…

Scout’s ever-shifting face gets torturin’.

But what I wanted to say that I find Scout: War Shaman to be a disappointment after being so pleasantly surprised by the first Scout series. While that series was fun and inventive and showed lots of thought and intelligence and growth, this one starts out intriguing, but then abandons the central conceit (of this series being a flashback), and then Truman basically seems to lose interest.

For this page I thought “wow, Truman’s really pulled himself together now, so I was totally wrong”, but then it turned out to be inked by Tom Yeates. For most of the remaining issues, Truman farmed out parts of the artwork duties to others, and ended up doing only the layouts to the final issue.

But it’s not like he has bad taste in artists. Ricardo Villagran’s artwork is really attractive, but it still points to Truman being fed up or burnt out on Scout. He also basically stops doing the letters pages and backup features.

Oh, and the thick cover stock disappears.

Beau Smith even takes over the writing of one issue.

But the competitions continue. Here’s one for best Scout window displays. Cut on the bias.

And then it’s over, with an ending that refers back to the first issue of the first Scout series, which is nice and stuff, but it feels rather like an emergency fix.

cat ⊕ yronwode promises that there will be further Scout series in the future, but they have not appeared yet, so our patience has yet to be rewarded. Truman still mentions the possibility in newer interviews, so perhaps it’ll happen at some point still.

Most of the original Scout series has been collected and reprinted, but Scout: War Shaman has apparently not, and I’m not really that surprised.

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