Saturday, September 19, 2009

A note

To my faithful readers.
I have been ill for several weeks. This has set me back on almost everything. I apologize for getting this started and then letting it lay fallow, expect it to return at a less break neck pace in the following days. First up is the end of the series on McCloud.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

From the Reading Pile - Little Nothings: The Prisoner Syndrome

Little Nothings, Vol. 2: The Prisoner Syndrome

By Lewis Trondheim

Trondheim describes the prisoner’s syndrome as

It’s when someone’s locked up and isn’t doing anything. By Not doing anything, he gets more and more tired and has less and less desire to do anything.

Fearing this phenomena, he decides to do more festivals around the world.

The Prisoner Syndrome is like A Moveable Feast. It is very stream of consciousness oriented and almost diary like. When Trondheim notices something about a place that interests him or has a clever idea, he jots a cartoon of it down.

As a result, there is no narrative here. It is like a hip version of Family Circus. There is an overall theme going on about his life, but there isn’t necessarily any causal connection between pages. The elapsed time and location vary wildly.

It is an amusing book. Probably best read like a joke book, a little at a time. It is funny in places and heart wrenching in others.

A Reading Pile Special: Understanding Comics Day Five

Understanding Comics: Chapter Four - Time Frames
By Scott McCloud

In this chapter, our intrepid author talks about time and how it is utilized and conceptualized in comics.

It is a whole lot of theory. To be honest there is nothing super revelatory in this one. To anyone who has read comics for as long as I have, this is old hack.

It is interesting to see that the lingering moody panel is relatively new to western comics. As was his discussion on how the box of a panel can change time completely - its shape, size, content, and lines can be powerful indicators. The rest is all conceptual talk about composition. It is extremely important to anyone who may want to create comics in the future, but not very interesting for talking philosophically. It is hopefully just a breather after the beast that was Chapter Three.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Witchfinder: In the Sevice of Angels #2

Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels #2
Written by Mike Mignola
Illustrated by Ben Stenbeck

Mignola is laying out a period mystery drama with a supernatural foundation. One would expect no less from him. What is astonishing is that he makes this London of 1879 just as real as the settings he places the BPRD in during the Forties or where Hellboy lives out his story in the present. It is a fertile mind that can handle such diverse locales and times so capably. The mystery is tense in this one, the stakes high, but as of yet there is not a lot of out and out action. This isn’t a bad thing by any means. He is doing solid character work and that is to be commended. This book is as much about mood as it is the horrible.

Mignola is giving us background in his larger epic here. It is great to see how far back his story goes. That kind of world building is what makes such a complex concept work. Here we see Victorian London’s dark corners, its alleys and the men who would profit at the expense of others.

RIYL: Hellboy, The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft, Proof, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Star Wars: Dark Times - Blue Harvest #0

Star Wars: Dark Times - Blue Harvest #0

Written by Mick Harrison
Illustrated by Douglas Wheatley

Dark Horse reprints the two Star Wars chapters from their online anthology, Myspace Dark Horse Presents. The story is set up for the "Blue Harvest "storyline that begins in Dark Times #13. Evidently, a large demand for this introduction caused this #0 to see print.

It is easy to see why. Harrison’s dense script is epic and exemplary of the heights of storytelling for which this franchise is known. The scope is breathtaking here. It is almost as if there is an illustrated version of the famous vanishing scroll that introduces each of Lucas’s films and as the score of John Williams quiets down, you can almost feel the fade.

RIYL: Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Wasteland

A note

I blame Doom Patrol, but the Review Pile Special on Understanding Comics will not be happening today, tomorrow it will continue.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

From the Reading Pile: The Black Diamond Detective Agency

The Black Diamond Detective Agency
By Eddie Campbell (from the screenplay by C. Gaby Mitchell)

When a train explodes at the turn of the century, a devious plot is unearthed and the Black Diamond Detective Agency are the only people who can solve it.

Campbell hits everything perfect here. The story is a hybrid of a Western and a pulp noir. There are twists and turns, deceptions and mob wars. It is a thrilling and gripping read that will keep the reader at the edge of their seat.

As solid as the story is, it is Mr. Campbell’s art that is truly special here. He captures the feel of the time and the chaos of the explosion perfectly. His use of reds to underscore the mayhem without resorting to graphic depictions of the blood shed contained is restrained and genius. He leaves the more gruesome details to the reader. In fact, much of the action happens off the panel, allowing the reader to determine how a gun fight plays out, where a mark is hit, and what a mess must look like.

The painted style gives the book a kinetic flow that feeds in to the cinematographic feel of the piece. His thick chunky lines make it look animated and his detailed backgrounds give it more of a photo realistic feel. Buildings, trains, and other large objects fill up entire pages with great detail and lifelike recreations.

This is an exciting and worthwhile read with stunning graphics that should entertain anyone who likes the Western genre or is looking for a decent mystery yarn.