The Comic Queen

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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Single-Panel Reviews: Top Shelf Sale Edition (Part 1)

Erin and I took part in Top Shelf Productions recent giant sale by ordering a crate full of books. We got about 10 books for $30, an amazing deal any way you look at it. Today’s edition of Single-Panel Reviews covers the first two books I devoured when our shipment arrived.

All Flee!
Written by Gavin Burrow; Drawn by Simon Gane

This little edition is about Godzilla-esque lizard monsters living a regular life in our world. Three stories are printed in the book: “A Finishing School for Monsters,” “All Flee,” and “Crusin’ with the Dorks.” The first two star the monsters and the last is about a nerdy rock band.

In Finishing School an old time monster tries to teach young monsters how to incite terror with old school methods. The youngsters aren’t interested in these antiquated ways and want to cuss and use semi-automatic weapons instead. This story is spectacular. It had me laughing from start to finish. The grumpy senior citizen lizard has some great dialogue.

The title story stars a female monster taking a vacation around the world and visiting all the major metropolitan areas. It too was spectacular and kept me laughing. Gane’s portrayal of the female lizard monster, complete with mini-skirt and lipstick, is genius.

It’s nice to finally get a story from the monster’s point of view. Who didn’t want Godzilla to eat Matthew Broderick or King Kong to break off the tip of the Empire State Building and shove it down Fay Wray’s throat? I know I did. Burrows and Gane offer as a look at how those stories should have ended.

I’m not entirely sure why the third story “Cruisin’ with the Dorks” is included. It doesn’t star the monsters, but instead stars a group of nerdy rockers. I was looking forward to another awesome monster story when I turned to this one. It just doesn’t fit in the book and isn’t nearly as funny or clever as the first story. I would have enjoyed it more if it was in a different book. Finishing an otherwise great book with this story was a huge downer.

Bottom Line: B- as a whole, but an A with the Dork story omitted.

Magic Boy and the Robot Elf
By James Kochalka

I’m not quite sure how to describe this book, Kochalka’s first graphic novel. It is about a lonely senior citizen that builds a robot of himself. The robot soon travels back in time, kills his now young creator and goes about living his life. Soon though, it all gets confusing and time becomes all mixed up.

I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I like the rest of Kochalka’s work. The story was confusing and hard for me to follow. It almost seems like two separate stories shoved together. A few times I had to flip back a few pages to see if I missed a panel.

My favorite thing about Kochalka’s work is his drawing style. I love his characters’ look. They seem simple and complex at the same time. Their expressions convey their emotions despite the limited number of lines that make up their face.

This book is worth a look simply to take a look back at Kochalka’s earlier work. It is an interesting, albeit confusing story.

Bottom Line: B-


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