Monday, August 31, 2009

Full Color by Mark Haven Britt

Full Color by Mark Haven Britt.

The book breaks all the normed rules of word balloons (hattip to Jason Thibault for the link) which took me a while to learn to navigate, but once I did, that element of the book's design fit in with the rest quite nicely. Proof that if you know what you're doing it will work. Major caveat: if your readers stick with the book long enough. (And they may not have. I picked up this new signed copy for a buck.)

from Full Color

As for story, this is the story of a bunch of New York youngish adults and their drug-fueled, sex-oriented, violence-prone lives. These lives are being lived in such a way that disaster becomes a necessity. Disaster is the only choice for redemption.

The protag is Boom, an exMarine. She's just broken up with her girlfriend and quit her job and she's giving herself a day to find meaning in life or it's suicide. On that path for meaning she meets crooks and spoiled richboy addicts --- some friend, some foe, none that trustworthy.

This book offers a taste of everything that can go wrong and is pretty plain about where the blame lies. I didn't expect much coming in, but this book's poetry of wasted life drew me in and pulled me along.

Recommended. Especially at a buck.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Glacial Period

by Nicolas de Crécy


Période glaciaireHorrible, isn't it? When a delightful ride ends in cliche and moralizing? And that's what we have here.

In the far future, scientists on a blizzardy expedition withe their dog/pig-hybrid companions discover the Louvre buried under ice. Good.

They try to arrange the paintings into a comic to tell the history of this lost people. Good concept, fair execution.

Omigosh! The artwork's alive! Sigh.

A bit on Nazis and pollution and global warming and obesity. What are you, French?

Jesus paintings have a chat. Funny.

A dog/pig gets all the art to make a giant--- Hold on. That would definitely be a spoiler.

I'm disappointed because most of the way through I really thought this was going to be great (and I really want to learn more about European comics) and then it went bluh on me.


House of Mystery

from Vertigo


House of MysteryIt's a Decameron sort of setup with the individual stories varying greatly in quality and ingenuity (which is a problem since inginuity is what's promised). It has a two-page prologue set in the Dreaming that is never returned to and seems pointless (particularly so if you're not familiar with the original HofM). It ends to easily, turning the entire book into a pointless prologue. It was a stupid place to end a first collection.

And yet ---

I liked it. When it worked, it worked. A bit of blood-and-guts horror and a might-well-get-interesting-someday framing story. (Not that I'm counting on the latter.)

But the talent the project is attracting is compelling on its own. Worth watching. The second collection's already out.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Portable Frank by Jim Woodring (2008)


While this black and white collection includes stories mostly (if not entirely) the same as those collected in the previous (color) Frank volume I read, Frank is always worth a second look.

Frank's world seems wholly organic, as if every structure grew as naturally as every tree. Which may help explain the weirdly sexual aspect of almost every object in Frank's world. Woodring's brand of weird here is closely related to Gary Panter's Jimbo and Brad Teare's Cypher, but is probably the greatest of its type.

One thing that makes Frank the best is its near wordlessness. No character talks and there are few words of any wort anywhere --- with the exception of "House of the Dead" (where there are content-bearing notes), this world appears to be utterly without language. And without words to tell us what to think, what we think becomes a close reflection of who I am. So when I dexcribe this book to you, be aware that your interpretation may vary, and greatly. And the distance between our interpretations may well tell us a great deal about ourselves.

The Unifactor (the name of Frank's world, though you can't find it in the comics themselves, of course) is a truly Hobbesian realm, a place where characters act on their instincts, occasionally noble, sometimes neutral, often base. It is a world of casual cruelty, where the line between human and animal is uncertain and in constant flux. A surreal world where the interior life and the exterior life have no certain boundary. This is a world utterly bizarre and all the more familiar because of it. Horrible and beautiful in equal measures.

This is Frank.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Essex County Volume 1: Tales from the Farm, by Jeff Lemire

Comic Con 2009.

Since reading the laudatory review in Entertainment Weekly (sure not this), I've been wanting to read this book. I immediately added it to my Amazon wishlist (buy me something!) where it sat until I picked it up on the cheap recently to fill out a Powell's order and get free shipping.

Sadly, I hadn't gotten around to reading it before the Con because Jeff Lemire was there with the new collected Essex County, signing and sketching in them and they were at a discount and I really really wanted to get one, but I hadn't read volume one yet and what if I hate it and then I'll be stuck?

Plus I was running on a budget of $0 (though I made an exception getting one book for the wife and one for the kids). But if I knew I liked Essex County I would have broken the rule and bought one book for the self as well.

And I do like Essex County. I like it a lot.

I've added the collected version to my wishlist.

The story is of a young orphaned boy in rural Ontario living with his uncle.

The art is marvelously melting ink.

Essex County 1 by Jeff Lemire, near the end

The sense of melancholy and the toocloseness of a small community --- both are perfectly captured.

Run don't walk.

And if you see Jeff Lemire, have him draw in it for you.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Talisman (Stephen King and Peter Straub) as adapted by Robin Furth, Tony Shasteen and Nei Ruffino)

Comic Con 2009.

I picked up Issue #0 for free my last few minutes of Comic Con and read it while homeless. I like it a little less than the one issue of the Dark Tower comics I read, but really, one issue isn't much to judge it by.

So instead let me make a general observation.

Hitchcock said he would never adapt The Brothers Karamazov to film because it was already perfect in the form it was. Instead he adapts a nothing book into Vertigo. In film form, it becomes the greatest of all time.

It's for this reason that I don't understand the recent explosion of book-into-comics adaptations. If you love the book, why not just read the book? When I read something like The Talisman, all I can think is, "Is this good enough to read the original?" If not, it's not good enough to read the adaptation either.