The Comic Queen

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Single-Panel Reviews: Conversation, War of the Worlds, Or Else, Tails, What Were They Thinking

Conversation #2
Top Shelf $4.95
By Jeffrey Brown and James Kochalka
Jeffrey Brown and James Kochalka team up for this issue of Conversation. Two of my favorite creators in one book—the comics gods smile upon me! The pair tackles why they draw comics—their motivations stem from different perspectives, but both want to make their mark on the world, to affect others in some way, and both agree that letting the creative juices flow is integral not just to their livelihoods, but their lives as well. Brown feels that any affect we have, no matter the size, is worth the effort and can help the world. Kochalka questions this, though, positing that the joy we receive in life ultimately comes from exercising our power over others. Maybe the biggest difference between the two artists comes near the end where we see Brown feels the need to analyze and rationalize while creating his comics more than Kochalka, who says life is to live, not analyze. Really, none of this is any surprise if you’ve read much of either artist’s work.

The charm of the book is the way in which it presents a glimpse into how Brown and Kochalka look at both life and the comics profession. The creators share most pages, some pages are more one artist’s than others, but the back and forth art is shared pretty seamlessly between the two. Though the format is set up to let the creators romp freely, it was interesting to see where either the creators stalled a bit on the back and forth or where they felt they’d gotten a little too “deep” and then became self conscious and resorted to humor to lighten the mood. That’s the only drawback of this format, a comic takes effort, time, and work, especially when two creators are involved, and this takes a good portion of the feel of spontaneity out of the book and the natural progression of the dialogue, unlike an in-person conversation. I don’t want to say the opinions expressed in the book come off artificial, but perhaps the truth of what they are expressing is found a bit more between the lines, or panels, than a true conversation. In any case, though, the chance to see these two creators on one book wins out over all, and is worth reading.
Bottom Line: B+

War of the Worlds: Second Wave #2
Boom Studios! $2.99
Writer: Michael Alan Nelson; Artist: Chee
This is shaping up to be a great series. The second wave of alien invaders has landed, and we’re just getting a taste of how they’ve adapted and what they’re like. Following the main character, Miles, Nelson tells the story of the current invasion side by side backstory about Miles through flashbacks. This is effectively done, keeping the pace in check and the narrative set up well. Though the series loses its color with the switch to black and white, it hasn’t lost one thing else. So far, this is Boom Studios!’s best book.
Bottom Line: A

Or Else #4
Drawn & Quarterly $5.95
By Kevin Huizenga
Huizenga comes out with another great book featuring Glenn Ganges, the Wild Kingdom, and his usual blend of thoughtfulness, humor, and philosophy. This was a great book, but I’ve got to say my favorite book of his was Ganges #1 that came out earlier this year. Some of the best art and “story” he’s created. Huizenga’s art, in general, is some of my favorite out there right now. I love his clean lines and perspectives – actually both in his art and with his writing. Always good stuff—both Or Else #4 and Ganges #1 are great examples of this.
Bottom Line: A-

Tails #3
Bohemian Press $2.95
By Ethan Young
Another very good issue of this series. Though the issue marks the last in the originally solicited series, Young states at the end of the comic that there’s more to come. Certainly the story ends as the close of one chapter in life, and definitely just the beginning of a new chapter. I definitely hope there is more to come – I’ve really enjoyed Young’s work on Tails and am anxious to see more from him. If you haven’t seen his work yet, you’re really missing out.
Bottom Line: A-

What Were They Thinking?!: Some People Never Learn
Boom Studios! $3.99
Writers: Keith Giffen, Mike Leib, John Rogers, Chris Ward, Andrew Cosby; Artists: mostly unknown
Though it says #1 on the cover, this is the second book of this nature from the publisher, and the funnier issue, in my humble opinion. The concept is that the writers take an old comic and rewrite the dialogue and story, keeping the original artwork. There are some very funny gags this time around—worth more than a few laughs. If you like this concept, it’s worth reading, very entertaining.
Bottom Line: B


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