Friday, December 31, 2010

Vivat Grendal (vivat is latin for crappy)


In 1993, Grendel: War Child won the Eisner for best limited series. My mother-in-law picked up the collection from Freecycle and gave it to me for Christmas and I'm sorry to say that it's utterly unworthy of the award. I'm guessing in 1993 there wasn't much competition? Or --- I don't really follow the Eisners that closely --- maybe they always pick crap?

Here's the thing: The story has lots of violence and sex and other Impressive Stuff, but it never really builds into anything. Interesting ideas like having a main character never speak are screwed up by ending them at the wrong time. Attempts at Seriousness (like killing innocents to help more innocents live) are executed in such a away that it was clearly just an idea; no real attempt in grounding the idea in a reality was attempted. I'm depressed over how lousy this book was.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Art of Vampirella

I find it funny that Dynamite Entertainment is celebrating 40 years of Vampirella by selling a collection of The Art of Vampirella. Really, it took them that long to figure out that no one buys her comics for the words?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fish Stick Knife Gun


Fish Stick Knife Gun is a pretty well known memoir by Geoffrey Canada, who these days is making an impressive dent in the lack of child safety in Harlem. The book is about his growing-up years in the South Bronx and I've never read it. Just heard of it.

I have, however, read the new graphic adaptation. (Disclaimer: Beacon Press sent me a free copy.)

Like most comics adaptations of prose books, it's hard not to see the holes left behind and wondering what once filled them, but unlike most such books, this one still feels like a complete object. I believe I could give this book to someone and they would be satisfied.

One reason I wanted to read this book was in hopes that it would be a book I could pass on to my young black male students. So I suppose the best question to ask is whether it meets this goal. Not having handed it out yet, I don't know. But I suspect the answer is yes. Here's why:

It doesn't preach. It's straightforward. Yeah, at the end it argues for Change, but it does so from a voice of experience, with a voice that has proved it's got cred.

For those who got through childhood with ten or fewer fights, this book is a highly palatable means to understanding what it means to grow up poor in the inner city. Do this and Our America and we're hitting a couple generations of mess.

Now for the art.

I was not familiar with Jamar Nicholas prior to this, but I'm impressed. His touch is light. He never overstates the violence. Keeping it quiet makes it impossible to look away. And, unable to look away, we are forced to confront Canada's story in both its ugliness and its basic human beauty.

In other words, Nicholas, like Canada, doesn't let readers pretend these kids are The Other. They are knowable and human and true.

Now, puffery aside, this is just a good book. I don't see it winning any major awards (unless they're more content-based rather than execution-based), but it has serious potential to be the Right Book. Let's get this into libraries and classrooms. This is a book to spread around.


Bonus: Read a bit about the book and the first few pages.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Noah Van Sciver's Blammo (#6)


First, a disclaimer for my disclaimer. I paid full price for this. (You can too!)

Now my disclaimer. Noah contributed a comic to an anthology I'm working on now and so I've been in contact with him for a few months now. I've decided he's a very cool guy and next time we're both at Comic Con at the same time or APE at the same time or something, I will say loud things near his table about how good he is to try and generate him some traffic.

= = = = =

I'm the Official Indie Snob on this site and yet I'm not a huge fan of what most people think of when the think of indie comics. For instance, I think R. Crumb has only started getting any good in the last five years. In fact, I don't much like most autobiographical comics, with only a few exceptions (most notably Jeffrey Brown, but there are others) (and getting to be more everyday as I get over myself) (but I don't think I'll ever care for Harvey Pekar). And even the ones I like I can get tired of rather easily.

Which is a weird introduction to this comic, because only a small fraction of it is autobiographical (and some of that was written by Noah's brother Ethan). But aesthetically, he comes straight out of that tradition. He's got the wiggly lines etc etc. But I suspect I'll like him more than most. In fact, based on my small sampling, I'm hard pressed to think of any other indie self-ziner of his type that I like more. And not just because his subject matter is more broad than simple navel-gazing.

His primary strength, I think, is that he is both of his tradition and grown out of his tradition. He clearly loves the comics he is related too, but he also has enough distance to examine them with a critical-slash-ironical-slash-postmoderninagoodway eye.

Which is not to say this book is perfect. The punks-v-lizards thing (you heard me) went on too long for instance and even when serving a story, one can only take so much ICP running in the background.

But these are minor quibbles. Check out more of his art here then don't let his future child starve to death.

Me, I need to find another reason to work with him.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Was the best innovation of 2009 a throwback to our lost past?
Why DC's Wednesday Comics were so darn great


Note: This was originally written for Fantasy Magazine many months ago, but then they changed all their plans for writing about comics and so they no longer need it. So I'm throwing it up here and on Thutopia instead. We'll call this apropos rather than horribly too late because the comics under discussion were just collected in hardcover and released on the first of this month.


Was the best innovation of 2009 a throwback to our lost past? 
Why DC's Wednesday Comics were so darn great

I recall reading the daily comics as Bill Watterson's Calvin lamented the state of the modern comic strip. Watterson himself used all his power to fight for a full half page on Sundays at the end of his run and those strips still seem revolutionary. But really, he was just hearkening back to the era of Grand Art in the newspapers' funny pages.

Our modern Sunday sheet doesn't have any great panoramic views such as Nemo in Slumberland nor do we have much left in the way of grand adventure ala Hal Foster or Chester Gould. Most papers are crammed full of joke stgrips. And, sure, Pearls Before Swine is brilliant, but a hilarious eight-panel (crammed into so small a space only the simplest line drawings read) is only one sliver of Sundaycomics' heritage. But we haven't room anymore for the grand or the beautiful.

Enter Wednesday Comics.

For twelve weeks in mid 2009, DC released not-full-sized-but-still-good-sized broadsheets and handed full pages over to writer/artist teams to tell a story over twelve episodes and the results were generally pretty good. Good enough that my only regret is that each story was only and exactly twelve episodes long, and at the end of those twelve weeks, Wednesday Comics was over.

While one advantage of newspaper comics is their endless nature, my own nature as a reader prefers beginnings and endings. But if a few of Wednesday Comics' stories had ended at nine weeks and others at fifteen and as one dropped out another took its place and WC had become an institution --- how cool would that have been? 

But they didn't and so it goes. Here's to hoping that, at the very least, WC was successful enough to justify a second twelve-week run next year. Because the grand scope of a single story splayed over one large piece of paper is a thing of beauty and something worth experiencing again, for the first time.

Now for brief reviews of all the stories.

Batman - story by Brian Azzarello with art by Eduardo Risso

No fantasy here. This is a straight Batman story, with the knight of the night in pure detective mode. It's a fine story, but reading on, one is left to wonder, with all the DC characters to choose from, why would anyone pick Batman? (Or Superman for that matter.) With DC's universe of underdeveloped and deliriously fun tertiary characters to choose from, why pick a character everyone knows, and tell a workaday story about him? It doesn't make much sense. Even if it is a good story.

Kamandi - story by Dave Gibbons with art by Ryan Sook

From my own reading, I am only really familiar with Jack Kirby's work from the end of his life --- when he was merely a shell of the Jack Kirby who created the modern superhero.

Kamandi however is a character of Kirby's from the early '70s, and the energy and strength of Sook's art and the wild adventure of Gibbons's story helps me understand what the big deal with Kirby has always been about. This is the best Kirby story I've ever read, even if Kirby did not directly touch it.

Kamandi lives in a distant future where humans are all but destroyed (he is, after all, "The Last Boy on Earth") and sentient anthropomorphic animals battle across the demolished American landscape. The villains here (as in two more WC stories to come) are a band of apes who intend to rule the entire landscape. They have kidnapped the king of the tigers, a friend of Kamandi's, and are planning to execute him. Naturally, the heroic human rides to the rescue, uniting tigers and dogs and lions on his way.

While in many respects a straightforward postapocalyptic adventure, Kamandi uses quiet moments between the violence and explosions to explore concepts like loneliness and loyalty and family and morality. A couple surprising turns and genuine rapport between the characters makes this tale a real winner. I wouldn't be surprised to see Kamandi resurrected again as this story inspires other artists.

Superman - story by John Arcudi with art by Lee Bermejo

For a moment, Superman almost becomes exactly who Lex Luthor has always said he is: an alien with no real ties to Earth.

During an attack from other, more monstrous aliens, a comment from one fills him with insecurity regarding his status as an adopted Earthling, So Supes heads home to Ma and Pa Kent in hope of regaining his bearing.

Though merely a simple and classic Superman tale (told in an overwrought visual style not well matched to newsprint), this story does reveal what Wednesday Comics' form can do best: Art done large.

Deadman - story by Dave Bullock and Vinton Heuck with art by Dave Bullock

Deadman's afterlife heroics done large. Even suddenly alive again, Deadman looks like a corpse (which is fine, I suppose, since, much as you know a dead Superman will someday return to life, a living Deadman will necessarily return to death), but alive or dead, he abandons himself to doing the right thing, no matter what it may be. And entangeld in a web of demon-evil hijinks, he is level-headed enough to see that even attractive evils are evil.

The ugly demons --- the ones that distract the reader from the pretty ones --- are truly hideous. And the monstrous hell Bullock creates is one of the greatest creations in all of WednesdayComics. And, curious among this set of deliberately ended comics, Deadman leaves us with something of a cliffhanger.

Green Lantern - story by Kurt Busiek with art by Joe Quiñones

A mashup of Cartoon Network and Mad Men, the thrust is not on the alien invasion, but on the bromance between Green Lantern Hal Jordan and an old astronaut friend. The story is highly professional and manipulative, but it's too effective (and thus charming and lovable and even moving) to really hold its machinations against it. It makes you smile? It makes you tear up? Well, even if it was manipulative, we all want that experience from time to time.

Metamorpho - story by Neil Gaiman with art by Michael Allred

Gaiman has long claimed that he writes his scripts to match the strengths of the artist he is working with, but never has that been more clear than here. Mike Allred's pop sensibilities rule every square millimeter of all twelve pages, with his wife Laura Allred's colors blinding us with that rapid cheerfulness the Allreds are masters of. It's not till near the end of the run, when Metamorpho works his way through the Periodic Table of the Elements (looking like a board game --- another Allredian conceit for sure), that the brilliant wordplay finally reveals that Gaiman had a hand in this at all. His genius for goofing off finally shines though Allred's genius for goofing off, and this pastiche of '60s silliness hits its highest point. What this world needs more of, it is clear, are more more more Gaiman/Allred collaborations. 

Teen Titans - story by Eddie Berganza with art by Sean Galloway

One of the weaker stories and one of the harder to access without a decent background in DCology. It's a typical comic-book monstrosity with switchbacks and hidden identities and amnesia and time travel and sudden reveals and, yawn, so on. And, like Superman before it, a little too gray and brown for newsprint.

Strange Adventures - story and art by Paul Pope and José Villarrubia

Adam Strange is one of the strangest characters DC has produced, and Paul Pope, coming off a string of successes in the strange, is well suited to tackle Adam as he cavorts with his metalbikini-clad love against an army of bad-tempered blue monkeys. Curiously, the story is not weakened --- or even destrangified --- by the sudden return of Adam to Earth where he is --- gasp! --- old and boring.

Pope's wiggly lines bring Strange's world to life in a way a more traditional, cleaner line never could have. He moves Strange from the realm of the strange curiosity, to the realm of the strangely real.

Supergirl - story by Jimmy Palmiotti with art by Amanda Conner

This is the silly one. Others may have aimed for silly, but this one is silly. But, even though the original 1959 Supergirl was silly, she was treated by her creators with contempt. It's clear Palmiotti and Conner love their Supergirl, even if she is stuck chasing a silly superdog and a silly supercat as they engage in silly misadventures.

But though this silly Supergirl is lovingly presented, she's not apt to make feminists proud. She asks for help solving her problem from a young man, then her problem is explained to her by an old man, and her problem is finally solved by a dog and a cat. 

In the end, although Supergirl saves a plane filled with people, she never really acts --- she is only acted upon. And that makes her a dull hero.

Also, she is very silly.

Metal Men - story by Dan DiDio with art by José Luis García-López and Kevin Nowlan

The Metal Men are and have always been goofy. And DiDio plays that goofiness to the hilt with punny titles and campy dialogue, and the artists do their part to make the characters and their world as haha as possible. And that devotion to humor pays off when a genuine menace threatens to destroy them all. Having laughed with the Metal Men, we can't bear to see them die! A simple story well played.

Wonder Woman - story and art by Ben Caldwell

While Wonder Woman seems as prone to the ordinary as Batman and Superman, Caldwell instead brings us an origin story of a young Diana, navigating her physical dreams of our world, that is structured like a classic folk tale. He lays it out in a more complicated and daring style, then draws it in a style so European I kept checking to see if maybe, I don't know, Nicolas de Crécy was doing the art.

The melding colors and complex painterly style don't always read well on newsprint (definitely don't try reading this in bed with only a small bedside lamp as your companion), but the artistic ambition of this Wonder Woman is to be lauded.

Sgt. Rock - story by Adam Kubert with art by Joe Kubert

Another story without any fantastic elements, the classic Nazi fighter gets roughed up but holds his ground. This looks and tastes much like the original, which seems compliment enough.

The Flash - story by Karl Kerschl and Brenden Fletcher with art by Karl Kerschl.

The first few weeks, this page was split in half, between a Flash story and an Iris story. Two views of the same relationship, one from his perspective, one from hers. His told in a classic superhero look, hers approximating classic mid-century newspaper stories of strong women.

The Iris half of the tale was abandoned however. My suspicion is that the writers found it too difficult to maintain her half of the story while Flash is multiplying himself and fighting gorillas. He's just way cooler, right?

But I think that decision was a tragedy. The counterpoint of a normal human's p-o-v offered a sense of reality to an otherwise far over-the-top story. Too bad they stopped thinking the human experience merited half their time.

The Demon and Catwoman - story by Walter Simonson with art by Brian Stelfreeze

Unfortunately disjointed, this ambitious-seeming but ultimately overly simple story may be the best proof that Wednesday Comics should have been made ongoing. Simonson simply bit off too much with this story and wrapping it up in twelve weeks resulted in something much less that what might have been. The iambic pentameter-spewing demon fighting his centuries-dead nemesis while Catwoman struggles not to be a pawn --- the story had potential. Would it had been given the weeks necessary to fully unfold. Twenty weeks maybe. By then it would have been surrounded by all new stories, and, upon ending, replaced itself by some new and marvelous and perhaps even forgotten character.

Hawkman - story and art by Kyle Baker

The sepia-toned heightened reality of Baker's Hawkman is the perfect final page. Pure superhero and purely ridiculous. Let's start with aliens! Then let's have dinosaurs! And then sea monsters! But, amazingly, it all pulls together. Village Voice got it right when, choosing this story as one of the best comics of 2009, they wrote "slashing and comically arrogant Hawkman . . . proved it's often secondary heroes who are ripest for artistic extravagance." 


Bring us another twelve weeks next year, DC. 

Or, even better, bring us fifty-two.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Suburban Folklore


This is Steven Walters's first book, so a lot of the stuff I'm going to gripe about are things I hope he has gotten better at. The bigpicture stuff, stuff I consider more likely to be indicative of future work, that stuff's much healthier.

But may I complain first?

First, dude, what's with the copyediting? There were so many spelling errors and so much wrong punctuation and other related errors --- many quite embarrassing --- that I have to wonder if he ever read over what he wrote before going to press.

Second, dude, anatomy! perspective! Again, I trust he's gotten better at these minor details, but it could be distracting. Also, I wonder if two characters chatting about how they look alike came about because readers were complaining that they looked alike. Because, let's face it, they look alike.

Third, and most likely to be corrected in later works, sometimes the pages were cut off in the printing process or, one time, the words were outside the bubble. Little things. But this was a first-time project, he was learning as he went, I'm not judging. Making something is awesome and commendable and I'm suspecting that he's gotten better at these things as time's gone on.

Now let's talk about what's good.

This entire book was worth reading for the final sequence --- almost an epilogue, really. It wouldn't work without the rest of the story but the rest of the story's rather pointless without it.

Here's the idea: In a short period of time (in this case, eighteen months), friends can turn into strangers. And that can be the end of it. You'll never have what you had; it will be over. That's the ephemeral nature of friendship. Perhaps that's sad, but there you have it.

If you run across this book, it's worth a quick read just to taste Walters's execution of this bittersweet --- melancholy and strangely beautiful --- idea.

Friendship is fragile. So before you let it go, ask yourself, how will you feel if it never comes back?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Young, Just Us

Today's official announcement of the long-rumored Young Justice animated series coming to Cartoon Network makes me happy for a number of reasons:
  • There's a good chance the show will be awesome. Yes, it looks different from the Young Justice I know and love. But so did Teen Titans and The Batman, and both proved to be great shows in their own rights. And yes, it's weird that they've turned Arrowette into a scary-looking militaristic chick named Artemis, and that there's a new Aqualad who is apparently black for PC reasons, but people also complained when it was announced that Justice League would have Hawkgirl but not Hawkman, and John Stewart instead of Hal Jordan or Kyle Rayner as the team's Green Lantern, and both turned out to be perfect fits for the show.
  • I'm hoping that the show will encourage DC to finally get around to collecting Young Justice in trade paperback. I own all the issues, of course (it's one of the few series for which I've kept the floppies), but I hate digging comics out of a box to reread.
  • I assume that the show will result in a tie-in comic for kids and/or the resurrection of the title in the main DCU line. Either would make me happy. It would make me even happier if they managed to get Peter David and Todd Nauck back on the series. I think there's a good chance of the latter, as Nauck went on to illustrate the Teen Titans tie-in series after YJ ended, but I don't know about the former; I believe David left DC on negative terms after Fallen Angel a few years back, and I don't know how likely he is to come back, even to write Young Justice. But I can hope, can't I?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Best American Comics 2009


I know I know I know. This is way overdue. It was way overdue when I got it for Christmas, it was way overdue when I finished reading it on March 22, and it's way overdue now. But at least here it is.

This volume was edited by Charles Burns (but, although it looks like Burns, the cover was actually drawn by Michael Kupperman who also did the Twain and Einstein comic on the inside which I found disappointing.

Today I posted a review of a short-story anthology and I realized that expecting --- or even hoping --- that an anthology only give you works you like is to largely miss the point of anthologies. So I'm going to stop whining about that in my BAC reviews (though I reserve the right to complain for other reasons).

Probably the biggest revelation for me was Kevin Huizenga's "Glenn Ganges in Pulverize." I have heard of Huizenga often enough, but his style and storytelling prowess are very attractive. The way he blends and meshes very different visual ideas into stylistic unity is impressive.

Since this review is so late, I'm not going to go into great depth or detail, but I will list my faves and why and then just leave it at that:

"Artist vs. Artisan" by Peter Bagge: A look at Paul Revere and John-Singleton Copley proves that Kate Beaton ain't the only historical-haha-comics genius on the scene.

The Crumbs entry about a tape dispenser (like I used to use!) is further evidence that they don't suck. I'm happy this is true, since they are so beloved.

Probably my single favorite entry was Dan Zettwoch's creation of old Church bulletins through the decades. I loved this. I just wish they were real. And that I want that to be so proves to me how fully I believed in the world these old bulletins seemed evidence of. Brilliant work.

"Over Easy" by Mimi Pond was a nice bit of fictionalized autobiography-of-an-artist in a sweet and savory cafe.

Dash Shaw's biography of an artist was, in turn, bittersweet and faux savory and rather moving in an underground-man kind of way.

Chris Ware. Brilliant as always. Time to read another Ware book, I think.

Laura Park brings us a snapshot of the intersection between sibling love and sibling loyalty and being really really annoying to each other.

Korem Shadmi's wasn't really all that great, not really, but the concept (hooking up with the decapitated girl) is brilliant.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

Calvin and Hobbes.

We have owned these books for years now, but only finally took them out of the plastic late last year when I was jonesing for a new Complete Peanuts collection. I had waited so long for two reasons. 1) the books were still beautiful and shiny; 2) they are huge (note: these reasons explain why The Complete Far Side, purchased at the same time, remains in plastic).

#2 is why it took me three months to read it. I used to read a Calvin and Hobbes collection in one or two sittings all the time. This 7+pound book is not nearly as so wieldy as my old paperback collections were.

But the joy is no less.

It a weird experience to read a strip you still know by heart more than a decade after still reading it and yet laugh yourself silly.

And while it's not as true for me as it is for professionals of my generation (eg Jake Parker), I too can look at a picture I would stare at for long minutes (they got funnier as each minute passed) and realize yeah, hey, that influenced the way I draw.

God bless you, Bill Watterson.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Stone Rabbit #1: BC Mambo by Erik Craddock (2009)

Stone Rabbit #1: BC Mambo by Erik Craddock.

Unlike Missile Mouse, this medley of cliches is not good instruction for children. While MM introduces kids to a world of old ideas in a way that makes them feel new for those for whom they are new (you followin' me here?), SR is a frenetic mess. This is from Random House:

    Stone Rabbit is a bored little bunny who lives a humdrum existence in the sleepy town of Happy Glades. But all that changes when he discovers a time portal of doom—right under his bathroom rug! Suddenly, Stone Rabbit finds himself on a Jurassic journey in a prehistoric world, facing off against vicious velociraptors, terrifying T. rexes, and a nefarious Neanderthal bent on world conquest. Will our hero be able to save the past and return to the present—or will he become extinct?

    BC Mambo is the first book in a full-color series of riotous, rip-roaring graphic novels that chronicles the zany of adventures of a quick-tempered and quick-witted young rabbit.

    Erik Craddock grew up during the ’80s and ’90s on a steady diet of comics, video games, and pop culture. It was during his time as a student at New York City’s School of Visual Arts that Stone Rabbit was born. He lives in Babylon, New York.

It's fastpaced nonstop nonsense. In the pejorative sense. I've little doubt it will find an audience, but there ain't much here. Don't waste your kids' time.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Missile Mouse

from Missile Mouse, page 93


It's hard to believe the world had room for one more anthropomorphic cartoon mouse, but Jake Parker's Missile Mouse proved we did.

This rascally rapscallion's got punch and bravado and comes packaged with everything budding fans need to build a lifelong obsession. If Scholastic markets this puppy right, they could turn this property into something that lasts and lasts and becomes a basic building block of childhood during the twentyteens.

Buy one now so you can say you knew it before it was cool.

Note: I received an advance review copy from Scholastic. So I'm probably totally biased by that. Also, I've played mafia with the artist, so there's that too. Also, I'm not French. All these things are working against me here. Except not being French. I don't see how that could impact my impartiality.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Axe Cop


I find it difficult just how awesome Axe Cop is.

Would that every clever child had an artist on retainer.

Here are the first three panels. Click to read more.

Axe Cop episode one

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Rapunzel's Revenge by a heapa Hales


Popular YA writer Shannon Hale decided to turn her attention to sequential art by penning a script with her husband, Dean Hale, which was later drawn by Nathan Hale (no relation). The book did well enough to warrant a sequel (Calamity Jack, out this month).

I didn't have any clear expectations coming into this, but I was impressed immediately. For a lady with no known comics-writing experience, she's adept. She knew how to use the panels, everything was paced well, etc. (She talks about switching forms here, but I got bored and just barely finished the first paragraph.) So that's a good start. I don't know how much of this success can be attributed to Dean or Nathan, but Shannon's the famous one here and no doubt it was on the strength of her name that this project happened at all, so good job, Shannon.

And I love the concept. I love recreations of old tales, and Rapunzel as a fantasy western works well.

It's a superheroish power fantasy for girls with a bit of romance thrown in. Only --- since the girl's the hero, this time, she also gets to be the one dumb in love. Role reversals all around.

Now, they end gets a bit dicey with a handful of unearned outs, but overall, this is a great book and one I recommend checking out. It could be a good gateway work for younger kids --- especially girls? --- who haven't ever really tried comics on for size.

It's fun and harmless and nice to have around.

Review done.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Best book of 2009: Shaun Tan 's The Arrival

(note: books are eligible for this designation the year i the indie snob first read them; publication is irrelevant)

The Arrival by Shaun Tan.


This was the first comic I read last year and I knew then it had a good chance at being the best of the year. And so it was.

I know, I know, I know. The book came out a few years ago so everyone and their parakeet has already sung its praises, but this book really can't be praised too much.

One observation I do want to make in passing is something I learned at Comic Con:

Comics without words have an easier time getting accepted as Respectable. And as The Arrival meets that category I feel I should comment.

(First, let me insist I have nothing against worded comics --- although last year's winner of this prize was also wordless. And so while I might seem to be knocking worded comics, I assure you I am not.)

Wordless comics more purely explore the strengths of the comics medium. Words --- they're not baggage, but --- they are not inherent to What Comics Is. Comics Are Pictures Ordered.

And so, I think, when outsiders view a wordless comic, they can finally see just What Comics Is.

That explains them.

But I also rejoice in the purity of a perfectly crafted comic that can stand without words.

But The Arrival is more than that. It's story makes the lack of words thematically significant. If we understood the characters' words, that would eat into our empathy. Which is remarkable, when you think about it. Yet here, in this book, it is absolutely true.

Well done, Mr Tan.

Best Comic of the Year
2008: The Blot by Tom Neely
2009: The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Friday, January 8, 2010

War Is Boring


The images are tough to read, but David Axe's War Is Boring is worth the effort.