Use the term ‘superhero comic’ and you will no doubt immediately think of Superman, Batman, Spiderman and their ilk. But put aside those preconceptions of what a superhero is and come take a look at Concrete. Concrete stands seven foot tall, weighs over a thousand pounds, has incredible strength and superb vision. And he’s made of some kind of flexible concrete. Oh, and he’s the by-product of some bizarre alien experiment. Okay, I grant you that description probably hasn’t done a lot to put away any preconceived notion of what a superhero is. But stick with me, it’s worth it! Concrete isn’t a costumed crime fighter, he doesn’t fly, he doesn’t have x-ray vision or spin webs from his wrists. In fact he travels, writes, collects art, has starred in a movie and has appeared on American chat shows. He has found himself torn between environmentalists and loggers when what seemed like a clear-cut case of forest exploitation suddenly developed shades of grey. Concrete is not your average superhero, if indeed you class him as a superhero at all. But then this isn’t your average comic. It is in some ways surprising that it comes out of the American marketplace at all. It certainly doesn’t seem to owe much to other home grown comic books. Indeed its artistic style owes more to the European books. It has a clean, fine line style of drawing that has a touch of Herge’s TinTin about it albeit it drawn in a slightly more realistic manner. Concrete himself though does have a touch of the heavy black line art style of the late, great Jack ‘the King’ Kirby (comic fans will know who I mean, the rest of you, bury your heads in shame). What really sets Concrete apart from its contemporaries is the humanity of the lead character. For what is now Concrete was once a man and the soul of that man stills lives within him. Yet there is no anger or bitt
erness toward the hand that life has dealt him. As the series developed during the late 1980’s/early 1990’s, Concrete quietly found himself a place in the world. With a particular interest in the environment and the state of the planet, Concrete uses his new body and abilities to find out more about the world. He explores the complex questions of life that all of us ask at one time or another, but trapped inside his concrete bulk of a body, his path lends a deeper poignancy to the answers that he finds. These are beautiful stories of relatively mundane life told eloquently and succinctly by creator Paul Chadwick. Should you feel you want to find out more (and I very much hope you do) then I would recommend ‘Concrete Complete Stories 1986-1989’ or ‘Concrete Complete Stories 1990-1995’. These are collections of the earlier short black and white tales and serve as a gentle introduction to the series. If you prefer colour or want longer stories then look no further than the volumes ‘Fragile Creature’, ‘Killer Smile’ and ‘Think Like A Mountain’. There is little action or exaggerated melodrama of the type loved by kids but there is plenty of thought-provoking and quiet soliloquies for the adults. And reading them makes you feel good. With a bit of searching you can find these at some high street stores, online bookstores and certainly from any good comic store. “…and none of this casts even a scintilla of light on the magnificence of what [Paul] Chadwick is doing…” Quote: Harlan Ellison.