Updated: Jul 30, 2021
Having worked at a casino I think I can safely say that the old lady in the polka dot dress in the background of panel one is the most accurate extra in all of Reckless Life.
I can't say enough that Locke is in on the joke here. Facing dozens of trained guys with swords should be instant death for a cat burglar type with no combat training but these are not real ninjas. These are MOVIE ninjas.
The two sets of eyes in panels four and five are obviously a Samurai Jack homage which Reckless Life is loaded with.
And then the last panel plays the bit for a laugh because that's what this story does. Not the greatest drawing of Locke ever but I do like the combination of speed lines and dot patterns in that one.
It's not really great practice to put your character's back to the camera in an action sequence but this whole page really works. I can point out a bunch of technical errors but for 2004 Tim this page is pretty damn good. The wonky panel layout in the bottom third sell that Locke is getting his ass kicked pretty well here. Locke landing on the floor is some particularly good body language for young 2004 Tim and not a POV you see often in comics. I wonder if the low click-rate on these is because no one wants to read a piece from ME about ME that goes on about how great I am. Oh well. I'm gonna keep doing it anyway.
Obviously, the idea here is to point out, at least for a minute, that it is ABSURD to think one guy could defend himself against of gang of trained assassins with swords.
Okay, this is ANOTHER great page! I'm sorry! It's true!
That Spider-Man style "multiple versions of the character in one panel" really works and even though it's obvious that I only drew that throwing star once (and clearly in Illustrator) and then photoshopped it a bunch of times, it looks pretty good. 2004 Tim is getting better with his digital tools. Even the SFX land well.
I also like that Locke's big tough-guy line is about cartoons too. I'm starting to see vibes of Reckless Life at its best here.
Okay fine, the last two panels on this page kinda suck. Are you happy now? The Trenchcoat Ninja's weirdly proportioned and this is a super rare case of me drawing Locke's pupils only in his glasses. At this point, it's either all or nothing and for good reason -- it looks bad. The top panel eye inset and the ninja heard all look petty good though!
I will say I get away with a lot by the ninjas not having any definition. They're just blobs of ink. I DO think this looks cool and it also allowed me to play with negative space in ways that I thought were fun. I'm not going to lie though, it was a big help in terms of getting away with drawing crowds of ninjas like this. I'm not apologizing for that. I drew all of this comic on nights and weekends and was on a strict two-pages a week schedule (soon to be three!) and if I was going to do a story like this with as many crowds of ninja shots as it has I needed a solution that allowed me to stay on deadline. That's actually a big part of comics that younger artists don't think about. It doesn't matter if you can draw as well as Jim Lee if it takes you a week to do one page. If you can't hit your deadlines you're not getting work. Period. Editors favor artists who make their life easier.
NEXT TIME: Locke MAY have bitten off more ninjas than he can chew...