The Comic Queen

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Monday, February 21, 2005

The Comics Interpreter Review

The Comics Interpreter Vol. 2 No. 3
Abscess Press $4.95

Wanting to compare The Comics Interpreter (TCI) to The Comics Journal (TCJ) is like wanting to scratch a Minnesota mosquito bite. It’s only wanting in the sense that it’s an uncontrollable need that consumes every building block of your genetic code until you do something about it … say, scratch it. So, here ya’ go: TCI is a thinner, leaner TCJ. It’s similar in many ways: they both have reviews, interviews, and comics; however, TCJ is mostly meatier and also more expensive.

I enjoy TCJ, but I have to admit, it takes me so long to read each issue, it was refreshing to read TCI all the way through without a huge investment of time. This is not to say TCI is light on content or quality. Before I get too far ahead of myself, though, let’s get to some specifics of this issue.

The issue begins with five reviews of comics from various genres. There’s an article about the mystery from the early 1990s of Al Columbia and the fourth issue of Alan Moore’s Big Numbers; an interview with Tak Toyoshima; a critical look at James Jean’s covers and interview with the artist; an essay about Teddy Kristiansen and his work; and a 20-page homage to the worst of George W. Bush by various creators.

The highlight of the issue for me was the cover story on James Jean. The cover itself was gorgeous, and the article was the best written piece of the issue. The publisher and main voice of TCI is Robert Young, a very skilled writer and a joy to read, especially with this article. Young takes a critical look at Jean’s covers, specifically his various Fables covers, but he also touches on Jean’s Batgirl covers. Especially interesting was Young’s look at Jean’s many influences and how this shines through in his artwork.

The other interview was with Secret Asian Man’s creator, Tak Toyoshima. I’m not familiar with Toyoshima’s work, but by the end of the article vowed to remedy that situation. The original comics devoted to “W” were both amusing and disturbing … sort of how I feel about the man himself.

It’s a review I’m going to pick at a bit—Young’s look at Damon Hurd and Pedro Camello’s A Sort of Homecoming. I’ll admit I haven’t read this particular book, but my beef isn’t with the treatment of the book itself; it’s when it gets a little more personal about anyone who enjoys anything Hurd’s written that bugged me. I strongly believe everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, and certainly Young has a right to say whatever he’d like (especially since this is his publication), but I believe in maintaining some sort of line of tact. For example, the part that got me the most is: “While he’s a reasonably competent writer who is both young enough and motivated enough to get better, at this juncture Hurd’s hype machine makes far more noise than his talent. Granted a lot of that noise is the grinding tone of weak-kneed ‘critics’ already caught up in the machinery.” Yikes, that’s harsh. That and more than one bitter-sounding reference to TCJ later in the issue just kind of turns me off as a reader.

The other thing that could use a little work in TCI was some of the graphic elements aren’t quite high enough resolution for their size, thus causing some pixilation. This is really a minor complaint, however.

Overall, this is a solid publication that I will most definitely pick up in the future. The current issue is available from the TCI website along with back issues—I'm already looking forward to issue four.

Bottom Line: B+

2 Comments:

  • At 7:02 PM, February 25, 2005, Blogger Alex said…

    Hey there...did you get my last e-mail?

     
  • At 7:54 PM, February 26, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "Wanting to compare The Comics Interpreter (TCI) to The Comics Journal (TCJ) is like wanting to scratch a Minnesota mosquito bite. It’s only wanting in the sense that it’s an uncontrollable need that consumes every building block of your genetic code until you do something about it … say, scratch it." Great metaphor Erin! :) -Rob

     

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