Jack Bandit takes a look back at
Nate Powell’s ANY EMPIRE

Title: Any Empire
Writer/Artist: Nate Powell
Published by: Top Shelf
Reviewed by: Jack Bandit

Do you remember how awkward it was to make new friends when you were younger? In the moving around I have done, it has happened quite a bit. Especially being a young boy, it proved to be very difficult… trying to prove yourself to the group, those kind of things.
SOMEHOW Nate Powell renders these kind of events in a way that makes me miss those moments.

In ANY EMPIRE the story revolves around three people who are trying to grow up in the confusing world around them. The one act that brings them all together is the “hazing” process of killing turtles, which disturbs all of them to different extents. And yet, later on in life they realize how much it profoundly impacted them.

This book is gorgeously illustrated, with a couple interesting distinctions in technique. Mainly, I was blown away by his stylized dialogue. Powell writes dialogue that you aren’t supposed to pick up on.

In one specific shot, (that I wish I could post, but i’d have to clear that with the publisher). The “camera” of the frame pulls up and away from a character, and while this is happening, the dialogue remains in the proper scale of the character, i.e. it is as tiny as he is now in the frame.  So there is some – actually, quite a bit of-  unintelligible dialogue.

Please bear with this upcoming digression:

Have any of you out there seen Robert Altman’s” The Player”?  A 1992 movie that makes of fun of the movie business (that I highly recommend).  In one scene Tim Robbins character, Griffin Mill, goes out to dinner with an exec, and the discussion they have can’t be interpreted because of all of the excess noise of the restaurant.  Altman is not letting the viewer’s in to what is an important scene for the plot of the film. The viewer can however, hear other people’s dialogue and bits of the conversation that they are having.


Here is the opening scene of “The Player” to give you a taste of what kind of movie it is.. See how many references you can pick up!!


This is an intentional technique that makes the viewer as lost as the character, and I think Nate Powell in this book perfect employs that technique.  Really interesting stuff.

In addition to that quirk, it’s a fun and interesting story that brought me back to being eight years old.

I was really impressed by this book, and although it came out in August it went totally over my head.. so make sure it doesn’t go over yours!

One of the best books of 2011!


When not going on beer-ventures with the gentlemen on his right and left, Jack Bandit (center) is happily talking about Zelda, movies, and Enrique Iglesias in Queens. He is working on videos, writing, and he is also a punk ass book jockey.

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1 Comment to “Jack Bandit takes a look back at
Nate Powell’s ANY EMPIRE”

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  1. JD (Host) says:

    Your review makes me curious, I’ll have to track this down. I’m a sucker for art that tries new things with the comics medium. I’d love to take a look at this, I’ll have to see if we can get it in at my LCS.

    I’ve kept an eye on Nate Powell for the past 10 years or so in the indie comic scene, and I occasionally really dig his stuff. Plus he’s a nice fella!

    Ps. I went ahead and embedded the scene into your article so that people don’t have to click off the site to watch it :)

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