Submitted by Xaviar Xerexes on February 6, 2010 - 17:47
Copper is a beautiful comic. Kazu Kibuishi takes such care in rendering landscapes both natural and fantastic, that one can't help but be drawn into the page to fully appreciate the environment of Copper. In particular, I think Kibuishi must love drawing moving water because it is almost a constant presence in the book (The comic "Waterfall" is both a great bit of illustration but also an insightful commentary on it).
Adam Bourret has a lot of interesting life to work with in his autobiographical comic I'm Crazy. Bourret won the Xeric Grant this year and he used the funds to put out a more polished version of the book. He's also serializing it online. Unlike many autobiographical comics I've recently read, Bourret has problems way beyond being a mopey, shy cartoonist as he suffers from various mental issues (primarily it seems to be OCD that afflicts him) that profoundly affect his life.
Z-Blade XX is a new comic from Atomic Basement written by Steve Palmer and illustrated by Guy Lemay. It's a slickly-produced book -- nice colors, thick paper, etc. But for a first issue of a new character, it's not particularly satisfying. It's also, unfortunately, filled with a few unnecessary swear words and some visuals of explicit violence to be a good read for kids who might otherwise enjoy the straightforward story. All in all, I know I sound like a broken record sometimes, but this is another project where putting it on the web and working on it with more immediate feedback might have led to a stronger story.
I picked up True Loves and True Loves 2 at SPX this year. The two books by Jason Turner and Manien Bothma (husband and wife) chronicle the falling in love and thereafter of True Kilbourne and Zander Gunn. An odd experience for me reading the books before the webcomic (True Loves 2 is available in color at Serializer.net) but having both books to read in one stretch actually was a good thing. While I liked the initial True Loves tale, I really thought True Loves 2: Trouble in Paradise added a lot more to the entire tale to date (Jason Turner's note at the end of True Loves 2 says they're already working on True Loves 3).
Now that I have two book-devouring kids, I find myself much more engaged with books and comics for the 10 and under age bracket (I guess you'd call that pre-tween?). My kids read comics along with text books without much distinction at this point which is probably due to the pretty decent selection of comics in the children's section of our local library. (The Sardine in Outer Space series was a recent favorite.)
So I was pretty interested in getting an opportunity to review the latest installment in the Manga Math Mysteries series. Number four is titled The Kung Fu Puzzle: A Mystery with Time and Temperature. I think any book, comic or otherwise, should be engaging on its own merits. Educational value shouldn't be an excuse for a boring book. Kung Fu Puzzle passed that test with flying colors with both of my kids (I thought it was pretty good too). In fact I think my youngest daughter's biggest complaint is actually nice praise for the book -- she was quite annoyed at its somewhat open-ended finish. I think she was hoping that the story went on longer.
Is there any fantasy series in recent memory as beloved and praised as Bone? Jeff Smith began writing about the Bone cousins in 1991, but it was probably the publication of the books in color versions by Scholastic that truly launched Bone into the pop culture. It's a great sprawling story with a powerful conclusion. Bone: Rose is a prequel that fleshes out the story of Gran'ma Ben as a youth (i.e., Rose), a story that weighs heavily on the Bone saga proper.
Submitted by Xaviar Xerexes on September 29, 2009 - 11:03
I got a chance to talk with Jane Irwin and Paul Sizer at SPX this year. Last year I'd had a great talk with Jane, but missed Paul. Jane is the creator of two great Vogelein novels and the Clockwork Game webcomic. This year it was great to talk with both of them for a bit.
I picked up Paul's graphic novel BPM (only a year after I'd meant to but SPX is a great reminder for that sort of thing). BPM, visually is pure gloss, vivid colors, with interesting integration of photo-realism into the mix. Sizer's sense of design is really strong -- not only in the artwork but the whole sense of the book as a whole. It's also a strong story with a really developed central character, Roxy. So overall no question, I enjoyed this book, it's the kind of mainstream, uplifting tale that in any other medium would be the mainstream. I will point out two things that made it less than perfect for me; one I didn't love the stretches of narration for Roxy's internal dialogue - I can see why Sizer went with it but I wish he'd used it even less and two, and I only say this in the high expectations for art I came to the book with, but there are a few panels where Sizer's anatomy seems off and took me a bit out of the story.
Where did I come by my high expectations for the art? Well, for one thing Paul is the master of Warren Ellis' reboot forum over at WhiteChapel - Paul has come up with a number of wild reinterpretations of old D-level superhero characters that usually trump all other submissions. Any number of them would be great to take and run with a full length story. I actually asked him about some of the World War II superhero drawings he'd done and while he definitely had interest in the potential the prospect of researching the era for such a book seeming too daunting to want to pursue. Part of that is Pauls' acknowledgment that Jane Irwin would never let him get away with making it up -- she's a firm believer in getting the details right.
Submitted by Xaviar Xerexes on September 29, 2009 - 09:25
I picked up the Secret Science Alliance book from Eleanor Davis at SPX this year. I got halfway through it before the older X girl took it away. She's finished and now the younger X girl took it to school with her today. Both are really excited about the book. This seems like a great book for boys and girls of a reading age (not sure how old the audience for it would be, although I found it very clever and the artwork, including the composition and layout, is equally as clever as the writing). This project also has a bunch of great people behind it. Eleanor Davis wrote and drew it; Drew Weing inked it and Bryant Paul Johnson (Teaching Baby Paranoia) lettered it -- that's like a webcomics supergroup right there. And Joey Weiser and Michele Chidester colored it (and it's really nicely done).
In Drew Weing news, I chatted with him and Eleanor while buying the book -- Drew has finished plotting and thumbnailing his amazing Set To Sea comic (which has wonderful E.C. Segar influences all over it) which means it WILL BE FINISHED! In fact, in finishing the rough of it Drew said he decided he needed to make small changes here and there throughout which is why he is re-publishing it online. Everyone should give this a read; I'm already looking forward to the whole thing (both on the web and the book to be).
I also saw Eleanor on the "Debut Cartoonists" panel at SPX where she was joined by Ken Dahl (Monsters), Hans Rickheit (The Squirrel Machine), and Zak Sally (Like A Dog). She did very well - it's not always easy to talk about your own motivations and creative process but it was interesting to hear that she has a part time job working on organic farms. Not a quote but basically she explained that she didn't want to do comics all of the time and that she enjoyed life better with a balance between comics and other activities (which was in contrast to Dahl who took the less surprisingly line that making it was quitting your day job).
The Ragbox is a comic written by Dave Kender and drawn by three artists: Mark Hamilton, Braden Lamb, and Matthew Reinke (each artist handling one of the three chapters). Kender is the founder of the Boston Roundtable group. This is a short book -- the pleasures in reading it are not really for the plot so there will be spoilers ahead. (It's also available as a webcomic here; you can buy the book at the store here.)