Friday, March 25, 2011


I recently went on a multi-day online spending spree and a week or two ago got a couple boxes of trades in the mail. Ok, it was probably ten or eleven books, but they did come in multiple boxes, so I'm not exaggerating all that much. Most were highly discounted, and titles that I didn't want to miss at a really good price, but I also ordered daytripper because it was a title I had heard good things about and really wanted to read. Based on the creators I was pretty sure I would like it, and I wasn't disappointed at all.

daytripper is written and drawn by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba. It is about a man and his life and his relationships. It's about being a writer, it's about being in your father's shadow, it's about being your mother's little miracle. It's about experience and dreams and family and friends. It's about mortality and what we leave behind. In the story, Every chapter covers a different important event in the life of our protagonist Bras de Olivia Domingos. The chapters are not exactly in chronological order, and every one of them ends in his death and subsequent obituary.

This was a very moving book. The art is beautiful, and it is populated with realistic people and realistic events. Despite having the main character repeatedly die and seemingly keep right on living, this is not played off as fantasy. There are dream elements in this, but conveying the dream is less of the point than conveying the reality.

To me, the art and the setting for this story are so intimately done, that despite it being a pretty exotic locale for me (Brazil), it comes across as beautiful, but very realistically portrayed. It's the protagonists home. The locations are what they are because that is where he lived, that is where he traveled to.

Excellent book. It has a very literary feel to it. It seems like it is another good example of comics that really elevate the medium. It feels like a foreign film to me. What you see is universal, and makes you think, but it is in a way that doesn't skew so much to the mainstream, doesn't deliver what you are expecting.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Marvel Digital, Thor, and Devil Dinosaur

Not too long ago I renewed my subscription to Marvel Digital Online . I had subscribed to it a while back and then under-utilized it. There was a decent percentage off for a year subscription that made me feel I should give it a chance again. Really, despite its shortcomings, the fact that I didn't take advantage of it previously was completely on me. That, and the fact that I saw a number of runs I was interested in reading, or reading again as is the case with Thor, made it easy enough to jump back in. I have access to a lot of good comics for just over the cost of most Marvel single issues. Yes, this is basically a countdown until I lose interest again, but my intentions are always the best in the beginning.

The Mighty Thor
I started with Thor this time. I was very interested in re-reading More of Walt Simonson's historic and acclaimed run on the title, and revisiting Beta Ray Bill, a character that I was very much on the fence about when I was reading the series originally around my freshman year in High School. I added a LOT of Mighty Thor to my 'Must Read' list, and started with issue 337. In this Issue, Thor is called upon by Nick Fury to investigate an alien spaceship on its way toward Earth. When Thor gets there, he finds his near match in the form of the ships guardian. Due to misunderstandings regarding motives, they end up fighting as enemies. Thor accidentally turns into Donald Blake and loses, losing Mjolnir in the process. Even worse, due to the Hammer's loophole about worthiness, and Beta Ray Bill's character, we end up with an Alien Thor. In this re-reading, I get it a lot more than I did as a kid. It's a pretty great twist, and it's really well written, and the art is great. I am looking forward to reading a lot more of Simonson's Thor.

Devil Dinosaur 1-9 - Written and drawn by Jack Kirby
I have this thing about Jack Kirby. I have a lot of respect for the man. Growing up, I didn't think I liked him, while at the same time (I now realize) absolutely loving a great deal of his work. This has made me reluctant to say too much about Kirby here. I decided that I wanted to start getting a better feel for the stuff of his I didn't think I liked, by actually reading a good bit of it. Hopefully I will eventually bring myself up to the level of the average person who has ever liked a comic, in regard to my regard for him. His distinctive style was never my favorite, and I didn't understand his having things that looked really similar in concept at both Marvel and DC, and I really got my strongest feelings for comics reading and collecting New Teen Titans and a number of very clean, more realistically drawn comics I guess, so it took me a long time to be able to really get art that had stylized elements, etc.

I know this goes back to when I was little, and I have mostly broken free from it. I can judge different styles based on their differences, their effect, and all sorts of things that can be conveyed in any number of wildly different ways through comics. Really, what I am saying here, is that I am not 10 anymore. I am over thirty years, not ten. This shouldn't be so difficult for me, right?

I searched Kirby, I wanted something I had very little experience with, and so I went with Devil Dinosaur, which came out around 1978. I am not sure I saw this comic when I was little. This may have been one I would have loved. In 9 issues, you get a red T-Rex, which is decidedly more bad ass than even the most bad ass of his non-red peers. You also get Moon Boy, who serves as our creepy little furry everyman, and who would be easy to identify with as a kid. I sort of hate him, but there is some necessity for him that would be hard to get around without making the dinosaur at least think, or become the bad guy in the book. You get alien robots, giants, giant ants, lots of dinosaurs, small folk, killer folk, a witch, time travel, everything you could ever want from a comic. The art is furious, the color is vibrant and lovely. The dinosaurs are fearsome and danger and peril is conveyed in every line. It was a more enjoyable and entertaining comic than it was a particularly good one. I think that is a fair enough exchange.

Moon Boy and Devil bond and grow up as brothers. He reminds me a bit too much of Chaka from Land of the Lost, so I have trouble liking him. He is brave though, and cares about his 'Brother". Devil is fearsome and very smart. The scenarios we are given are not just bad guy rolls into town and the dinosaur fights him, motivations vary, a few other heroic characters pop up, etc. It is a fun read if you enoy feeling like a kid when you read comics.

Plus the old school flowery language in it is kind of funny
And Thus Endeth The Chronicle