Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Two weeks in comics

    Hey, theme of this post seems funny, bizarre and writer/illustrator auteurs who express singular visions.   There still three books that are over due for a review as of this post.  Miss Lakso-Gross's A Mess of Everything doesn't quite fit partly because I found it so personally effecting that it will occupy a larger part of one of these upcoming Week in Comics and maybe a review of its own.  I also have finished all 90 issues of Terry Moore's Stranger in Paradise collected in pocket book 1-6.  Besides being over 2 thousand pages of material I also want to discusses it after touching on Jaime Hernandez's Locas. Finally, the Flight:Explorer inspired post on all-ages comics is still on its way.  Till then, here is four quick reviews.

The Lost Colony no2: The Red Menace, Pub. First Second, Owner Glady Klein
     Glady Klein Writer/Illustrator.
(Political Satire, Animated, Pogo-ish) 3.5 out of 5
     http://indiespinnerrack.blogspot spent some time plugging First Second.  I've already reviewed The Fate of the  Artist.  I liked Joann Sfar's Klezmer and Gene Luen Yang's American Born Chinese is easily a 9.5 out of 10.  So when I found Klein's second volume  for a faction of the cover price I snapped it up.  I liked it enough that I will be keeping an eye out for vol.1 & 3 in the library but I am not completely sold.  One of its strength is that Klein uses a very tight coloring with a simple/cartoony palate over line work that is controlled but wildly expressionistic.  It fits in nicely with the Yang and Sfar books in that it can come off as childlike while dealing with content that is very serious.  In this second volume Klein is looks at some lies we tell our selves about war.  Wars we fought, will fight, are fighting or wished we fought.  What seemed to me to be an abrupt ending is fitting but as a stand-alone reading experience I just don't feel like I'm ready to make a final call on this one.

Rasl, Pub. Cartoon Books, Owner Jeff Smith
     Jeff Smith Writer/Illustrator.
(Sci-Fi, Noir, Wild-Ride) 3.5 out of 5
     Jeff Smith is a solid contender for the role of the inheritor Eisner's place as the preeminent graphic storyteller. Over the years of his work on Bone he has honed his page-layouts, panelization, panel composition and illustration to a seamless narrative engine.  Unlike Bone, Rasl is unapologetic aimed at a mature audience in genera that I have followed closely in the past (not entirely unlike Tansmetropolitan, Atomic Robo, B.P.R.D. and SCUD the Disposable Assassin).  That said there are two things are standing in the way of me given these books a much higher rating.  First is unlike Bone, Rasl is not a feta comply.  Although, have read about as many pages of both series I know I can finish Bone at any time (probably mid to late June) and because of other reviews I know it will never jump the shark.  To unstand the other objection I want to go back to those other four noir/dystopain visions.  Ellis' dialogue in Tansmetropolitan is heavily influenced by the disjointed gonzo prose, Atomic Robo's narrative timeline disorderly jumps from point to point to accommodate the mode and mood of the storytelling, Guy Davis artwork in B.P.R.D. is unapologetic un-pretty (like all of his work)  forcing the reader to be aware that they are entering a space that he created and SCUD the Disposable Assassin does all three.  While Smith content in Rasl is neither smooth nor pretty his artistic mastery is both.  On further reflection, I will say there is something that can be disjointing or disorientating about his panelization.  He opens some scenes with panels that give either little or misleading information that can give similar feel to mid to early David Lynch films.  Anyway, I will be keeping an eye on Rasl and even if he never produce more I will be returning to these books.

Transit, Pub. Image, Owner Ted Mckeever
     Ted Mckeever Writer/Illustrator.
(Expressionistic, Noir, Dystopian) 3 out of 5
      This book came about as highly recommend as possible from the folks from http://indiespinnerrack.blogspot.com.  I honestly didn't care for it, which is possibly hypocritical of me in light of my review Rasl.  After the first issue it is clearly a perfect marriage of form and content. Once he got past a little cartoon playfulness, his artwork took on a simple but harsh expressionist line work that screamed out that this is a dark world filled with unsavory characters with awful agendas.  While I admire it as stands today (I can't imagine how mind blowing it would have been in the early 80s), I real never got into partly because I never got attached to any of the characters.  I am taking my time with Eddy Current and will hopefully have more to say about that.

Arkham Asylum: Madness, Pub. and Owner DC
     Sam Keith Writer/Illustrator.  Michelle Madsen & Dave Stewart Colorist.
(Character-Driven, Horror, Warmer than Expected) 4 out of 5
     By way of an apology to the tone of this blog, I need to say to things.  First there has been long standing suicide pack between readers and the major publishers of supper hero comic books.  Innovation along with any attempted to reach outside of the base readership has been met with suspension or betrayal.  One thing that sets this book apart is that this is Joker story that sans-batman, and spends more time with ordinary people trying to get through a rough (extremely rough) day at work   The second part of my apology is that Mister Keith singular vision has found a place in works in every corner of comic book landscape.  The division between indie and mainstream as well as those between contractor and auteur don't seem as relent when looking over Sam Keith portfolio.  Keith gives no more or less of himself to this than any other project.  It is a solid horror story with some of the same slow pacing and explosions into the strange that I except form the Maxx or Zero Girl.  It also has some touching monument.  Keith has an ability to inject the warmth and playfulness of his self owned and/or directed work into work he did for other writers.  I haven't read his work for Marvel but the over seriousness of his short run and Sandman and Dark Horse's Aliens are both improved by the wild playfulness of his art.  While Time-Warner by way of DC doesn't need or particular want your $19.99 or $13.59 on Amazon, they  have given us a book that is uniquely a product of Keith vision and those are few and to far between.