Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sometimes I remember to mention Previews.

There were a number of things that I wanted to comment about from this month's Previews. I always flip through it, but I usually don't say anything. Here are some things of note in my opinion:

Sinfest: Viva La Resistance - I was attracted by the cover for this, and since it is a webcomic collection I looked it up and read a good number of strips. It is adorable and funny. If you haven't read it, here's the site . Tatsuya Ishida is the writer/artist. The art and the humor are both great. It seems to have a lot of varied characters and situations, and is better than almost everything currently on a printed comics page these days. (p45)

Axe Cop Volume 1 - I probably don't need to explain anything at all about this one to anyone, but I will probably pick this 120 page trade up at some point, if not immediately. (p44)

Batman Inc. - I think I will put this on my pull list. I hate 4 dollar comics on principle, but I'm no square, right? The idea is multiple batmen and bat-friends. That merits at least picking up a few issues in my opinion. (p62)

Batwoman #0 - I have hopefully impressed upon my LCS that I want anything Batwoman related. Art by J.H. Williams III and Amy Reeder is really all the incentive I need to want it. Hopefully it will maintain the pretty great setup and character that have already been established for this character. (p64)

Adventures Into Mindless Self Indulgence One Shot - MSI is a band. I have only ever heard their song Stupid MF, and I have only really thought about them in relation to their Limber and awesome bassist Lyn-Z . Cool women with guitars are always awesome, and bassists specifically are a sort of thing for me, but none of that is why I am going to have this ordered for me. The art and cover are done by Jess Fink! Her art and humor are both pretty great. Check out her site and blog and comics, etc Definitely check out her blog for the best comic ever to feature both Scott Pilgrim references and cartoon cat buttholes. (p176)

Battle Chasers - I am not making any sort of forecast on this, or any recommendation, etc. It may be the greatest thing, or it may not. The cover art looks decent, but I have not read or even heard of this title. It was apparently a 10 issue series. This preview is for a 100 dollar edition of the 10 issues. I don't have an issue with any of that. The solicitation refers to it as one of the most beloved comic book series of all time. that's all, for a comic I have not heard of or seen or read anything about ever, I am skeptical of that claim without some sort of qualifier. (p177)

Atomic Robo and the Deadly Art of Science #1 (Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener) I cannot recommend Atomic Robo enough. I am always excited to see more Atomic Robo, and always thrilled to get my hands on the next issue when it comes out. If they have established anything with regard to Atomic Robo, it is that you can expect quality from them, as well as variety. I have not ever been anything less than delighted by anything related to This character. Plus Robo in prohibition era Chicago!!?? (p301)

The Tick New Series #7 - Speaking of never being disappointed... Benito Cereno and Les McClaine have out done themselves each issue on this excellent series, providing their own voice, while staying perfectly true to the characters and tone and humor that people should expect from The Tick. Can you believe we are already that close to another Christmas with The Tick? Excellent stuff. Give this series a chance if you have any sense of humor at all. (p291)

Plenty of other decent stuff in previews this month, but as I said, those were the things that leapt out at me.

Sometimes I buy stuff

I have gone a good while without making any 'major' comic purchases. I go to my Local Comic Shop more or less weekly, and I usually have a very few comics waiting waiting for me, and then I make one or two impulse buys. If there is nothing at all for me from my very slight pull list, I may buy a trade.

Recently, probably in a fit of depression, because we all know that if you can't fix your mood with food, you can always fix it by spending money you don't have, I put in a fairly large order with Amazon. It was nice. There is a certain joy in laboring for hours over the best combination of books to get. I always add stuff to my cart, then take it out, about a dozen times. I like to get trades of series that I am reading, but I also like to broaden my experience and my collection whenever I can. I have a good deal of noticeable gaps, and I have filled a couple this week. I have not read any of these yet, but I am looking forward to doing so.

Jimmy Corrigan - The Smartest Kid on Earth, Chris Ware: I have not really read anything at all by Ware, but I have seen his work, obviously, and have read plenty about him. I have long wanted to see what his work is about, other than looking cool and architectural on the page.

City of Glass - I wanted to read this after getting Karasik's first Fletcher Hanks book, and subsequently meeting him at SPX a few years ago. The fact that this adaptation is also a product of David Mazzuchelli made this an eventual must for me. I have never read Auster's work, so have have no real idea what to expect.

Collected Essex County - Jeff Lemire - This was recommended to me a while back, possibly after I mentioned picking up the early issues of Sweet Tooth, but I can't recall. I have heard really good things about this.

Love and Rockets, New Stories #2 - Hernandez Brothers. There is just no way I will not eventually have a copy of everything Jaime and Gilbert do... you know...Eventually any way.

The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For - Alison Bechdel - I read Fun Home a while back and it just knocked me over. Since that time I have been planning to get a DTWOF collection, but it was a matter of which to get. I finally just went for essential, rather than going a more completist route. I am excited to read more of her work (I have read some of her strips, but not many)

I am not certain which I will start with, but I am sure it will be a good read.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cat Burglar Black

I recently borrowed the book Cat Burglar Black by Richard Sala from the library. I don't think they've had a copy of it for very long, and I try pick up anything that doesn't look like crap, and that I haven't previously read. I haven't seen anything put out by First Second yet that didn't look good, and I really liked Sala's art, even at first glance.

Cat Burglar Black is a story about K, a teenage girl who was raised in an orphanage by the awful Mother Claude who trained her charges to be pickpockets and thieves using heavy handed threats. The story opens with K at a new place, a school with no classes and only three other students. It doesn't take long to get to the real reason the girls have been gathered, and a series of thefts are planned for the group, for the benefit of a group that somehow has ties to K's parents.

The art is different and charming. It has a feeling of being from out of the past, without really pinning itself to a specific time. The girls are lovely and graceful, and the adults are all something akin to grotesques. It seems to evoke a lot of great young adult stories, and made me think of Raold Dahl in particular. Not sure everyone would agree with that, but that is what it made me think of.. There is mystery and some action and such, and it was a fairly quick enjoyable read. I should think that anyone who enjoys Dahl, or stories like a Series of Unfortunate Events, should like this. K is a convincing and self sufficient heroine put into situations beyond her control. She can't succeed without some help, but that doesn't diminish her in any way, and she is anything but helpless.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs the World (may contain spoilers)

My daughters and I went to see Scott Pilgrim on Saturday. My girls are 11 and 16, and all three of us have read all six books of Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim series from Oni Press. All three of us have been anxiously waiting for the movie to come out since it was first announced, and rabidly waiting since the trailers started coming out. Within the first five minutes of the movie I turned to my oldest to let her know I already thought it was the greatest movie ever made. This was prior to the credits even being over. Even if that was mostly a statement for comic effect, all three of us loved it completely, and were drawn in from start to finish.

There are a lot of potential pitfalls with any movie based off of a beloved work from any medium. Scott Pilgrim was very smartly done. Things that could have been problems or weak-points were turned into strengths that made the movie distinct and different from the books, while still keeping major themes pretty faithfully, and allowing the books to not fully be spoiled and retain their unique and special separateness from the movie.

The movie has sequences that are almost panel for panel from the comics, but also has graphic enhancements, and entirely new gags and setups worked into it that make the movies into a sort of value added experience. On the other hand, they also cut the ever important to the books, Envy Adams character almost completely out. The movie sacrifice a lot of depth and meaning and real character development, and has a very compressed feel to it. It does this for the sake of remaining a pretty straightforward fast paced comedy with a reasonable run-time that never gives you any time to check your watch or get bored.

The movie feels complete, and left us pretty happy and satisfied with no complaints, but it leaves the books with some really great, powerful stuff all of its own that should be a great revelation for anyone drawn to the books from the movies. Book Six of the series absolutely floored me with its emotional significance. It remains pretty fully untouched and unsullied by any attempt to tack that sort of weight onto a movie that was designed to be fast and funny.

The movie is not superior to the books. The books are a must read for anyone that even smiled at any part of the trailers for the movie in my opinion, but the movie is one of the best movies ever that draws its inspiration from a comic property, and one of my absolute favorite movies of any type based on a single viewing.

I thought the casting was brilliant. There are a lot of people that don't like Michael Cera, and really hate the idea of him as Scott. I think what people imagine about Scott based on how he is drawn in the comics does not translate into the sort of person in real life that they think it would. I think anyone playing Scott more hyper or loud or heavy handed would become one of the jokes and weaken the over all feeling of the movie. Scott isn't really a loud snappy hyper guy, he is a fully self centered jerk that goes through life imposing on people and having little regard for others' feelings. He's not a bad guy, he just never developed out of that phase probably from middle school. The book portrays his growth one way, and the movie does it in a slightly different way.

I would like the movie to do well, but its financial success or 'failure' is of no great interest to me. What is of interest to me is that it was a brilliant movie I now adore, made out of an even more brilliant series of comics that I adore, by a director I think was pretty great, based on an artist who is pretty great, with a cast that is really great, etc. Shitty movie, financial success is not something I would wish on this. We can't make the mass audience suddenly have our taste and like things they aren't inclined too. I assume this will pick up in video, and is only just out of its first weekend. I hate when people write things off like that.

There have been a lot of really interesting and varied opinions that have been written about the movie already, and about the comic, etc. I may cover some of them at some point in depth, but until that time, I will leave you with two very insightful takes on the thing. Here is ComicsGirl's take on it, as well as Joe McCulloch's review. Both of them were helpful to me when trying to get my thoughts together and think of the big picture and different ways to think about it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I win at Smile!

Back in July, I won a copy of the hardcover of the Original Graphic Novel Memoir: Smile by Raina Telgemeier. If you aren't familiar with the story, it is an account of how Raina knocked out her front teeth when she was 11, and the resulting 4 year ordeal that followed that event to get the situation resolved. During the course of the story, you file her life and her budding interest in boys and how she fits in with her friends, etc. It isn't just a story of dental procedure, but really of all the life that goes on around that central event. The book is 213 pages and is full color. It is published under the graphix imprint of Scholastic.

I follow Raina on Twitter @goraina. In July I guess I saw a tweet about a giveaway that art&story was doing It required all the effort of doing a tweet pointing people to Raina's website. That was the sort of difficulty/effort level I was born for, and I happily tweeted, and was absolutely thrilled and stunned when I won. I am sure I have said this sort of thing many times, but I met Raina at SPX last year and bought two small things she had done. She seemed really nice, and her style of cartooning is fun and expressive, and really terrific. I have wanted to pick up Smile, and have heard nothing but good stuff about it, so this was ideal for me.

Teeth are a tough issue for a lot of people. Adolescence is a tough time. Self Image, self worth, self respect, are all important things. Between the ages of eleven and fifteen a lot of things can happen and change, and most people aren't super prepared for all of those things when they are young. So many things are changing, so much is happening as people are figuring out the type of person they will be, and how they fit in, etc. This is a really good story to tell because it is set in the midst of all of that, and is real. I would recommend it across the board, but really, I think you are doing a pretty great thing if you get this into the hands of a young girl you know.

There is a bit of triumph in the story that I think would be beneficial to anyone staring down the barrel of puberty, and going into middle school, etc. People change, friends change, be true to yourself, don't accept people treating you with less respect than you deserve, ultimately you will get through hard times, and sometimes hard times last longer than we want them too. There are probably other good things to take away from Smile, but those are the ones I was most struck by.

The best part is that the story is told in a way that feels real, but also has humor in it. I look forward to letting my daughters read this when they are back at home for more than a few days(thanks summer) I suspect they will enjoy it. Hopefully Smile is something that will find a place in school and public libraries everywhere.

*The link I put for Art & Story has a link for a podcast interview they did with Raina regarding memoir comics and Smile. It is a great conversation for anyone interested in the craft and process of making comics. Here's the same link again