Woooooaahh, how have I never added this. This is pure Miyazaki ecofantastical magic right here. If you're ever looking for an example of McCloud's min...moreWoooooaahh, how have I never added this. This is pure Miyazaki ecofantastical magic right here. If you're ever looking for an example of McCloud's minimalist characters backed by maximalist backgrounds, look no further, because this puts Tin Tin to shame. Miyazaki's classically manga-style cartoons *really* pop in front of insane swarms of bugs and fungal forests, an effect that was almost totally lost in the film version, which is sad b/c Miyazaki's linework is second to none. Unfortunately the series kind of dissolves into pseudo-religious/mystical mishmash in the later books, but the first few are pretty tight.(less)
Fun, funny, but not too much more than what you can get from the author's website. I feel kind of bad saying so, since, you know, I want you to buy co...moreFun, funny, but not too much more than what you can get from the author's website. I feel kind of bad saying so, since, you know, I want you to buy comics so talented people like this can pay the rent, and comic book store owners can pay their rent, and people continue thinking that comics are a thing worth doing, but I'd like my physical-book-reading experience to be something different than my web laffs experience. Am I alone here? I kind of like revisiting things I read online, but I feel like I often buy books like this as an act of support, not because I'm really looking forward to reading the book.
Kim is a storyboard artists for Adventure Time and it totally shows in this collection. Not sure if that's her influence on the show or the show's influence on her, but radical either way.(less)
Not nearly as strong as the first one, with the possible exception of the last few stories. Alan Moore definitely has a talent for the surreal and the...moreNot nearly as strong as the first one, with the possible exception of the last few stories. Alan Moore definitely has a talent for the surreal and the horrific, but I've never been convinced that he cares about characters.(less)
Given the apparent fanlove gushed upon this series here and elsewhere, I feel like I should manage expectations for those who don't wet themselves whe...moreGiven the apparent fanlove gushed upon this series here and elsewhere, I feel like I should manage expectations for those who don't wet themselves when swords AND aliens AND spaceships appear on the same page of a comic book: this series (so far) has very narrowly defined qualities that are themselves wonderful but stand alone amidst many other more mediocre components. They are, to wit:
TEH FUNNY Vaughan writes hilarious dialogue, with Whedonesque pop cultural sensibilities and Sarah Silvermaniacal guttermindedness, a combo that I find muy bueno. Worth reading for the laffs alone.
CHARACTER DESIGN While creating aliens by mashing together various objects and animals from Earth makes absolutely no sense, it tends to yield fantastic results in the penciling of Fiona Staples. She would probably win at Exquisite Corpse every single time, especially if she played by herself. I particularly like the armlessness of The Stalk.
Said sterling qualities to NOT include, sadly
THE PLOT Much as in Y: The Last Man, Vaughan proves himself adept at generating velocity but not at establishing destinations. I mean, it's possible we're working toward some grand destiny for the kid, or some conflict/resolution between wings and horns, but so far we've basically just seen a lot of running. I know there hasn't been much of this series published yet, but Y definitely suffered from a lack of direction, so I worry.
THE COMICS Staples has got the whole beautiful people in dramatic poses thing down, but her layouts and pacing are merely functional, which is fine, just not enough to give me that "comics are MAGICAL" kind of feeling. Her faces are sort of teetering on the edge of the Uncanny Valley, too. Maybe a step or two toward the cartoony would help.
ESCAPE The book's a lot of fun, but it's a bit hard to feel transported when you see a character's shoulders hunched in the now ubiquitous, instantly recognizable antisocial posture of phone obsession while he complains about upgrading said phone's operating system, even if said shoulders sport a pair of bat wings. I mean, it is what it is, but so far it's more Buffy Lite than Lord of the Rings.
Complete waste of a hardcover binding. Moebius's art might earn this 1.01 stars. Might. In lieu of a review, I think I will simply list non-character...moreComplete waste of a hardcover binding. Moebius's art might earn this 1.01 stars. Might. In lieu of a review, I think I will simply list non-character proper nouns until I shoot myself:
The Great Acid Lake Suicide Alley Rosa City Cogan 38 The Great Underground City The Crimson Ring Amok The Incal The Berg The Prezidents Hunchbacks Technocity The Technopope The Technotemple The Black Incal Cityshaft Margarita The Shadow Egg The Kentz Scale The Metacraft The Metabunker The Pegaz The Inside/Outside The Cardioclaw The Necrodroid Psychorats The Golden Planet The Purple Endoguard The Arhats The Crystal Forest The Crystal Tower The portal of Transfiguration Aquaend Orgaran The Sacred Cone The Protoqueen The Techno-Centreur The War Star(less)
My brother picked this up on a whim as a birthday gift, but man, he couldn't have chosen better: comics, landscape, work, idealism, expertise, all in...moreMy brother picked this up on a whim as a birthday gift, but man, he couldn't have chosen better: comics, landscape, work, idealism, expertise, all in one book! For those of you too lazy to read the blurb, the book concerns the author Étienne, and his friend, Richard, as they explore each others professions, comics author and wine maker, respectively. Shock, the two disciplines have more in common than you might think, but the pleasure's in the particulars: the way that Richard makes wine is intimate and personal. He seems to perform most of the labor himself, and keeps his production small. He refuses organic labeling and appellation designation because he values the particularity of his product, the way his own direct experience and the unique character of the land evidence themselves in the bottle. Étienne has a similar approach to comics: he slaves over them, continually concerned with conveying the particularity of his subject, while balancing his own presence in his work, and understanding that complete control is impossible, and ultimately undesirable. I suppose these traits apply to any personal creative endeavor, but it's great watching the two of them stumble over the operational details (pruning? printing?) to arrive at these larger commonalities.
Visually I don't think the book could be better. There are plenty of talking heads, as you would expect in a comic that's largely about two dudes talking, but Davodeau adorns those heads with evocative expressions. Like a lot of Europeans (and unlike most American comics authors) he's also a master of light: his layered washes and shadows are wonderful, particularly in the vineyard and larger landscapes. Definitely not a formalist (6 panel pages throughout) but the approach works perfectly for the subject matter. In many ways this is what I wish Feynman had been: a non-fiction comic in which the subjects under discussion get as much visual attention as the characters discussing them.
The book suffers somewhat from the imbalanced attention Davodeau pays to Richard. We learn a great deal more about making wine than making comics. To be sure, they visit a publisher, chat with other creators, talk at length about appreciation and criticism, but Richard never tries making a comic, nor are we privy to Étienne's drawing and writing habits. In one sense it's refreshingly un-autobiographical in a medium that's over-saturated with neurotic navel-gazers, and, as they point out, wine-making and wine-drinking are more communal than drawing, writing, and reading, which are almost exclusively private (I find public comics "readings" particularly excruciating), but after the detailed look we get into Richard's work life, it left me wondering what Étienne's desk was like, how he chose equipment, to what extent he incorporates computers into his work, etc.
The book is also unflaggingly positive and dream-like in its depiction of work for these two guys, which casts at least a small shadow of doubt upon its realism. Even in the rarified worlds of boutique wine and indy comics there must be frustrations, setbacks, drudgery, self-doubt (hell, that's a staple of autobiographical minicomics!). Surely they're not *always* sipping chenin blanc and debating the merits of Trondheim! One friend of theirs brings this up, but Davodeau apparently wasn't interested in exploring those aspects of work (nor was he interested in how non-work influences work: the two only interact in the context of their project, friends and family outside of the biz are mentioned only in passing).
It's hard to quibble with a book this elegant and joyful, though. Bonus: it's got a list of all the wines they drank and all the comics they read in the back. Done and done. Would love to read more by this author, but I'm not sure anything else has been translated. Do I really have to scrape the rust off my completely neglected high school French?!(less)
Pretty primitive. Miller's characteristic shadows and silhouettes are barely present at this early stage, and his lines look like he's drawing from a...morePretty primitive. Miller's characteristic shadows and silhouettes are barely present at this early stage, and his lines look like he's drawing from a Marvel manual. Claremont's writing is absurdly campy, Logan's "Canadian" contractions 'r' a barr'l o' groan, and the need for Wolverine to explain his own powers in a monologue at the beginning of every issue is a bit painful. This was published in 1982 so I guess some allowances must be made, but I can't think of a reason why any adult would need to read this today. And yet, I did.(less)
If you're unfamiliar with Jeff Smith's Bone you need to stop reading this and find out why it's a comics and cartooning masterpiece and why Jeff Smith...moreIf you're unfamiliar with Jeff Smith's Bone you need to stop reading this and find out why it's a comics and cartooning masterpiece and why Jeff Smith is a comics demigod. All set? Cool. RASL is Smith's next long-format work, and is different from Bone in all kinds of interesting ways. Smith's great timing and effortless scenery are on full display, but sadly his clumsiness with depicting "realistic" characters has returned as well. In Bone, more stylized characters like the Bones and the (stupid, stupid) rat creatures have wonderfully expressive faces and bodies, usually hilariously so, but just as often Smith employs this expressiveness in a wide array of complex emotions. Some characters are infinitely more static, with about 2 or three set expressions (Grandma Ben, Lucius), but that rigidity is usually its own joke. And then there's Thorn, the realistic character, who's best visual moments occur at her cartooniest, but who often bears inexplicable expressions at other times. Every character in RASL is of the Thorn type, usually giving them a deranged, incorrectly assembled appearance. Sometimes this serves the story, particularly in the case of Crow, who is intentionally deformed and looks deeply (and wonderfully) deranged, but in the main characters it makes sympathy difficult, and this isn't really the kind of book that challenges the reader to deal with unsympathetic protagonists.
This might simply be emblematic of the work as a whole: none of the characters have that much individuality yet. The Tesla stuff is fun, because Tesla is fun (now I want to find a good biography), and by the end I definitely wanted to keep reading, so overall it was pretty enjoyable, but I fear that it's headed toward the sort of dissolution Bone experienced toward the end of its run. I don't think the same kind of cute baby animal tangents are much of a threat, but there could easily be some deus ex machinas lurking between the worlds. I'll probably check the library for the next one, but I'm not dying to buy it.(less)
There are some things I like in this one. Flam, Drub, and Mender. Shuna leading the rebels. Brandon McKinney's improving pencils. But on the whole it'...moreThere are some things I like in this one. Flam, Drub, and Mender. Shuna leading the rebels. Brandon McKinney's improving pencils. But on the whole it's a very conventional "seize the castle" plot, without the wonderful subtexts woven through ElfQuest's previous big "seize the castle" story in the original quest (the mixed meanings of the castle, Two Edge's intentions, Leetah's hubris, etc). The fact that Two Edge reprises his earlier role is disappointing. He's been through so much, and yet the only novelty we're offered is his ability to develop an adolescent crush. He seems to be single-handedly fomenting an industrial revolution. Can't we go somewhere with that?! Winnowill is an equally dull, static Big Bad. Also not a fan of the Peace Hounds. Unbeatable monsters always feel a bit gimmicky (they always remind me of the Neo Warriors in Exosquad). They make the the plot seem more like an obstacle course than a story.
Read this series ages ago. Sadly it degenerates into endlessly cryptic involution toward the end, but this first volume is magnificent. Exquisite penc...moreRead this series ages ago. Sadly it degenerates into endlessly cryptic involution toward the end, but this first volume is magnificent. Exquisite penciling, cool flying machines, wonderful ecological parable.(less)
With each new deus ex machina (the void?!) one gets the impression there is no master plot, or at least only a vague one. Have to admit I'd basically...moreWith each new deus ex machina (the void?!) one gets the impression there is no master plot, or at least only a vague one. Have to admit I'd basically forgotten most of what had happened before, but I'm pretty sure there was nothing about any "void" or time travel. I felt like the narrative flow was a bit choppy in this one too, with scenes ending abruptly, or serving little purpose. The art's still beautiful, so I'll keep reading, but I'd like to see more about the stone's motives. I hope they're not unambiguously evil. And what about their mom! I want her to have a role.(less)
Part of the magic of comics (well, independent comics) is that in some ways they are more immediately personal than prose. The labor put into creating...morePart of the magic of comics (well, independent comics) is that in some ways they are more immediately personal than prose. The labor put into creating them is more obvious, as are the many quirks of the artist. It's like conversing with a stranger who isn't treating you like a stranger, who assumes a level of intimacy that you may not share. When it works, it's magic. When it doesn't work, man, it's awkward.
Sadly King City landed in the latter camp for me. Graham clearly put a lot of himself and his love of comics into the visual style, the city, and the endless puns, but a lot of the book's potential went unrealized. In a book about a totally zany scifi/fantasy city where anything can happen and everything IS happening, there was a ton of empty space. In worlds like this I feel like a Hieronymus Bosch / Geoff Darrow / Where's Waldo approach would better convey the mad claustrophobia, and not the manga-style minimalism Graham employs. There was also no plot, or character development, which can be ok if there are other things to explore in a book, but the novelty of a cat that can be used as a weapon wears off pretty quickly. I think my favorite part of the book was his innovating cussing, "fuck a shit sandwich" being one of my favorites.(less)
IN A WORLD WHERE CHICKEN HAS BEEN OUTLAWED AND THE FDA RULES WITH AN IRON FIST ONE MAN WILL WORK WITHIN THE SYSTEM AND EAT PEOPLES FACES
Definitely a lot of po...moreIN A WORLD WHERE CHICKEN HAS BEEN OUTLAWED AND THE FDA RULES WITH AN IRON FIST ONE MAN WILL WORK WITHIN THE SYSTEM AND EAT PEOPLES FACES
Definitely a lot of potential, though frankly the world and the premise are more interesting than the writing or the characters so far. However, this volume is so short it's hard to complain about these things at this point in the series. The art is highly stylized and mostly pretty cool, but Layman definitely seems like more of a figurist than a physiognomist. The result is a lot of wonderfully bulging, kinetic bodies but not a lot of emotion.(less)