The Comic Queen

Zip ribbons and word balloons, Wednesday bliss and Previews dreams. If these phrases mean anything to you, then you're in the right place. But if they don't -- hey stick around anyway. You might just like what you see.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Single-Panel Review: Continuity, The Ticking, Maahvelous!, True Loves

Continuity GN
AiT/Planet Lar $12.95
Writer: Jason McNamara; Artist: Tony Talbert
Yeah, now that’s the stuff. What starts out looking like another testosterone-driven action comic settles into a trippy, mind-bending science fiction book. The book opens on a futuristic metropolis where a prescription drug “bus” is being hijacked. Things don’t go so well, and our protagonist, Alicia, finds refuge in a basement where the homeowner reluctantly listens to her unbelievable story. Suburban life wasn’t perfect for Alicia, she was 17 and living with a harsh stepmom and whipped dad. As bad as she thinks her life is at that moment, though, things quickly go down the shitter. You see, suddenly when Alicia sleeps, her dreams don’t just play out in her head, they change the world. And these aren’t peaceful dreams we’re talking about. Alicia runs away and that’s when her life and the book get triptacular. The comic itself is well executed, stories like this sometimes get out of the creators’ control and become confusing or start to unravel plotwise. This book holds your attention and keeps you guessing in a good way. The art matches the story perfectly, too; dark, sketchy, unsettling – that’s not just the art, that’s Alicia’s life in a nutshell.
Bottom Line: A-

The Ticking GN HC
Top Shelf $19.95
By Renee French
O.k., before I get to the guts of this GN, I want to comment on the design of the book itself. This is a beautiful book to hold in your hands. Hardcover and cloth bound, though it ups the price point, the physical design of the book is worth putting out for all to see. Anyway, to the content! The Ticking is a quiet book done nearly entirely in soft pencils about quiet, yet unsettled, lives. When Edison is born, he not only has a deformed visage, but his mother dies in childbirth. Partly out of the depression of his loss, partly out of shame, and partly out of protection, Edison’s father takes him away to raise him on an island. As Edison grows up, he isn’t ashamed of himself, however, and with his drawing talents, he decides (against his father’s will) to venture into the world. Sad, yet ultimately with hope, this is a beautiful book on many levels.
Bottom Line: B+

Maahvelous! Princess Puut and Dali Do Venice
Glitterati Incorporated $30
By Scott Chambliss
Decadent, over the top, and a visual buffet, are the best ways to describe this book. It’s really a children’s book for adults in a sense. Physically it’s an oversized board book, and storywise it’s got a simple yet whimsical nature with mixed-media art. Princess Puut’s celebrity star is waning, and she’s becoming dejected and questioning her existence. Then she has a dream in which she is called to travel to Venice to find the answers to her questions. Accompanied by her best friend Dali, Princess Puut goes on an adventure to find her destiny … and ultimately finds herself. It’s a fun book, and nearly indescribable.
Bottom Line: B

True Loves GN
New Reliable Press $12.99
Writer: Manien Botma; Artist: Jason Turner
This GN is a yarn about life and love in Vancouver, BC. Not a hint of sappiness is what makes this a surprisingly infectious read. The story follows True, a vintage clothing store owner, and Zander, who works at a grocery store and takes life as it comes. Though their friends are initially skeptical, fate takes its turn with the situation, and things turn out in the end. Don’t worry, I didn’t spoil anything for you – the real fun of the book is the humor, the characters, and the just all-round well-told story. Also, living just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Vancouver myself, it was fun to see many of the local sights I’ve seen in person. So, if you’ve been to Vancouver, there’s a little extra touch for you. Drawn in ink and mostly in panels, the art has a nice cartoon feel to it, then add to this the good details Turner puts into the book from the clothes to the land(and city)scapes, and you’ve got an accessible and enjoyable book.
Bottom Line: A

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Single-Panel Review: Wonderland, War of the Worlds, Papercutter, Hero Squared, and Recommended Reading

Wonderland #1
SLG $3.50
Writer: Tommy Kovac; Artist: Sonny Liew
Beautiful artwork from Sonny Liew is the highlight of this new comic. The story takes place in Wonderland just after Alice’s departure and follows Mary Ann, the White Rabbit’s assistant. The writing is great – fits the comic perfectly. Simply put, this comic is a real treat and not to be missed. Note: Check out sample pages on the SLG site.
Bottom Line: A

War of the Worlds: Second Wave #3
Boom! Studios $2.99
Writer: Michael Alan Nelson; Artist: Chee
Don’t get me wrong, I like this series so far, I’m just beginning to think it will read better in trade form. I wouldn’t say the series is moving slowly, per se, but with big, beautiful splash pages, it’s hard to get the same amount of story into a comic. Good stuff, though, and definitely worth reading.
Bottom Line: B

Papercutter 1 & 2
Tugboat Press $3 each
Papercutter’s a great little anthology book. The first two issues have featured Aaron Renier, J.P. Coovert, Sean Aaberg, Becca Taylor, Paul Tobin, Colleen Coover, and Liz Prince. So, from this line-up alone, it should be pretty clear that these are good books. If I had to pick to my top two stories, they would be Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover’s “Criminal Intent” a playful story about a catwoman-like burglar in a small village in the 30s (from #2), and Aaron Renier’s “Through the Hall of Biodiversity,” a down-to-earth little love story (from #1). Really, though, there wasn’t a throw-away story among the two books, which is saying something for an anthology. Sometimes they can be hit or miss, but both of these books are right on.
Bottom Line: B+ each

Hero Squared #1
Boom Studios! $3.99
Writer: Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis; Artist: Joe Abraham
Another good book from Giffen in the super-hero genre. Funny, engaging, it’s super-hero but fresher. My only criticism is that Giffen can be a little wordy at times, and this issue in particular he’s got the dialogue kicked up to new levels. Really, a minor complaint, though. Overall, this is good stuff.
Bottom Line: B

I’ve been trying to catch up on my way-to-big pile of comics lately. Here are some recommended reads from that pile:

Brian Wood & Riccardo Burchielli
Has a Y: The Last Man attitude but more intense. New York City is a war zone, and Manhattan’s the DMZ, a no man’s land where main character Matty unexpectedly becomes an embedded journalist.

Lobrau Productions
Kevin McShane
A very funny comic with a comedy movie pace and feel. The main characters, Toupydoops and Teetereater, have just moved to LA, where Toupydoops is an aspiring comic book character. That’s right, this is an LA where the entertainment industry casts comic books like movies. Nice.

Archaia Studios Press
Alex Sheik Man
I’m at a loss about how to describe this one – it’s futuristic yet the main character is a samurai. It’s not science fiction and it’s not Samaraui Jack, yet it’s both. Not to be defined by one genre, it’s a very fascinating comic. All issues of this four-issue mini-series are out, and another installment is set for next year.

The All New Atom
Gail Simone, John Byrne, and Trevor Scott
The Atom’s back but now played by a different scientific genius – it’s some pretty standard Atom stuff, but this series has some real promise. I’d recommend checking it out.

Boom! Studios
Christopher Golden, Tom Sniegoski, and Paul Azaceta
I reviewed the first issue of this ongoing, but after issue #2 am really excited about this series, and thought it was worth a second recommendation. If you like a good mystery, you’ve got to pick this comic up.

Jordan Crane
This is an excellent comic in the vein of Kevin Huizenga or even Josh Cotter. Skilled artwork and a thoughtful, sad story.

Pizzeria Kamikaze GN
Alternative Comics
Etgar Keret and Asaf Hanuka
A graphic novel like nothing I’ve read before. The main character kills himself and goes to a netherworld where only those who have ended their own lives go. They live out an existence that seems like any city or normal life. It’s just that’s all there is. It’s difficult to describe the GN, but I really recommend the book.