Sunday, May 25, 2008

Indies Preview Review for July Part 2 of 3

Link to part 1 -
Onward to part 2.

Diablo Productions
Unwanted GN by Diablo, Mark Michaels & Juan Romera
Enter a world of pure terror in one of the most anticipated graphic novels of the year! When a foolish antique collector reads the inscription on the back of an ancient Chinese amulet, she unleashes the ultimate evil. The Unwanted follows the saga of a group of street-wise teens trapped inside an inescapable juvenile detention facility, facing a relentless predator that will stop at nothing to consume them. Beautifully illustrated by renowned international horror artist Juan Romera, reviewers are already hailing this as the next horror classic. Pages: 215, 7x10, FC
Art here
Lee: Unfortunately, I’m really not sure why I picked this. When I reread it, I notice a couple of things: (1) It sounds completely generic and (2) this is some badly written hype which makes me not care. Let’s start with the first part, generic group of people get generic evil artifact, and get stuck in a place they can’t escape. Did I miss anything? I bet there’s hot chick who’s smart but plays dumb and an obnoxious jock too. ANYWAY, moving on to the hype! Let’s just say phrases like “most anticipated graphic novels of the year” is overused. No offense but I have never heard of Diablo publishing so it makes it hard for me to anticipate something I’ve never heard of. AND, hyping your artist as a “renowned international horror artist” is stretching the truth. Stretching it to the point where I don’t really care. I understand the need to hype your books but there needs to be some truth (more than a grain of sand) in what you say.
Jim: How about if I said it has “jaw dropping art” and will take your breath away with the hidden secrets of civilization never revealed before to anyone else.

DMF Comics Inc
Soul Stealer Vol. 01 GN
by Michael Easton & Christopher Shy
In a universe divided by good and evil, one man has been able to sustain life for over 3,000 years, driven solely by the power of undying love. Armed with the ability to bring back souls from the underworld, he must now fight the most dangerous and potent forces the world has ever known, as he wanders the Earth, through the past and into the present, on his near-impossible search for his wife! Pages: 148, 7x10, FC
Art here
Lee: Let’s compare what Diablo wrote (above) and what DMF wrote. Diablo more or less lied to me but DMF just lets the story speak for itself. Don’t get me wrong Soul Stealer sounds almost as generic as Unwanted but stripping all the glitz makes it more palatable. But, the real strength of this offering is the art because Shy can paint/draw a splash page. WOW oh WOW can he paint. You should see the link. My only concern is how well can Easton tell a story.
Jim: When you think about it these books have only two things to sell them, a cover and a three or four line sales pitch. I think it is important to let the story sell itself.

Drawn & Quarterly
Gentleman Jim HC by Raymond Briggs
Raymond Briggs is the beloved British cartoonist whose many books, including The Snowman, When The Wind Blows, and Ethel & Ernest, have sold over 3 million copies worldwide. Briggs was also an early pioneer of graphic novels, as some of his key works coincide with or even pre-date Will Eisner's A Contract With God. Gentleman Jim is the story of Jim Bloggs, an imaginative toilet cleaner who, dissatisfied with his station in life, devotes his time to envisioning a world beyond it. Encouraged by his wife, also eager to incorporate more adventure into her life, Jim sets out to bring these dreams to fruition by accumulating various accoutrements, only to discover that the life of an executive, an artist, or a cowboy is more complicated and costly than it appears. Gentleman Jim was originally released in England in 1980 and is now regarded as one of the first English-language graphic novels ever published. Pages: 40, 6x9, FC
Art sample (not from this story) here but worth looking at
Lee: More historical comics! Early graphic novels are always fun. Briggs was a great cartoonist and his art is wonderful to look at. I only hope that the reproduction in the small size doesn’t smear the art.
Jim: For this type of material reproduction is the key. Since Drawn & Quarterly has been around for a long time I would think they would do it right.

Evil Twin Comics
Comic Book Comics #2
by Fred Van Lente & Ryan Dunlavey
Description: The incredible saga of the comic book industry in the irreverent, award-winning Action Philosophers style continues! As comics enters its Golden Age and the United States slides closer and closer to war (no coincidence there), Joe Simon & Jack Kirby have to fend off the draft - and their own publisher! Our Artists at War tells how Will Eisner revolutionized the Pentagon's training program - using comics! All You Need Is Love details the true confessions of romance comics! The House of Fear details the birth of - Gasp! Choke! - William M. Gaines' E.C. Comics! Pages: 40
Lee: I just mention this because it’s an easy way to learn more about comic book history. The first issue was good and I’m sure this will be too. If you aren’t reading this it’s worth a try.
Jim: Worth a try! Worth a try! Is that the best you have Lee? If you aren’t reading this you need to be reading this. It is the best comic book about comic books that is being published by a comic book company ever created by Evil Twin Productions. Absolutely a must read for any fan who has any interest in how their hobby came into being. Educational and entertaining. Like Nuns teaching you on a stripper pole.

Fantagraphics Books
Humbug HC by Harvey Kurtzman, with Jack Davis, Will Elder, Al Jaffee & Arnold Roth
Harvey Kurtzman changed the face of American humor when he created the legendary MAD comic. As editor and chief writer from its inception in 1952 until he left MAD in 1956, he influenced an entire generation of cartoonists, comedians, and filmmakers. In 1962, he co-created the long-running Little Annie Fanny with his long-time artistic partner Will Elder for Playboy, which he continued to produce until his virtual retirement in 1988. Between MAD and Annie Fanny, Kurtzman's biographies note that he created and edited three other magazines, Trump, Humbug, and Help!, but, whereas his MAD and Annie Fanny are readily available in reprint form, his major satirical work in the interim period is virtually unknown. To those who treasure the rare original copies, Humbug equals or even exceeds MAD in displaying Kurtzman's creative genius. Humbug was unique in that it was actually published by the artists who created it - Kurtzman and his cohorts from MAD Will Elder, Jack Davis, and Al Jaffee, were joined by universally acclaimed cartoonist Arnold Roth. With no publisher above them to rein them in, this band of creators produced some of the most trenchant and engaging satire of American culture ever to appear on American newsstands. At last, the entire 11-issue run is reprinted in a deluxe format, much of it reproduced from the original art, allowing even owners of the original cheaply-printed issues to experience the full impact for the first time. Pages: 400, 8x10, HC, PC
Lee: Aaahhh, classic humor! I cannot wait to get this. The art alone between Jack Davis, Will Elder, and Al Jaffee are worth the price of admission. Classic American satire in the vein of Mad Magazine.
Jim: Yet I have two Mad Archives (of the really, really early stuff) and I have not even gotten around to re-reading those yet, so while it is classic, I will pass.

:01 First Second
Notes for a War Story GN
by Gipi
When war comes, it doesn't just change your food, your clothes, and your home. It changes your beliefs, your dreams, and your understanding of the world. Swept up in a war he never thought would happen, Giuliano begins to question what he's fighting for - if he's even fighting for anything. Notes for a War Story is an honest and important graphic novel about the consequences of war. Pages: 128, 6x9, FC
Jim: I can’t help but to love the premise. When I read the premise I immediately wanted to read the story. I have never been to war (except that one tour in Nam, which I never talk about) so this sounded insightful and real.
Lee: First Second is quickly becoming one of my favorite publishers because they have such excellent offerings. Every month we seem to be talking about one of their books. I say this because I agree with Jim and didn’t know what else to add.

Robot Dreams GN by Sara Varon
When the dog gets lonely, he builds himself a friend from a mail-order robot kit. Soon the two are happily sharing movies, popcorn, and peaceful evenings - until a summer's day swim leaves the robot rusted and immobile. Robot Dreams chronicles the next year: the dog's desperate search for new friends and the robot's dreams of his lost friend, the dog. Robot Dreams tells a moving story of friendship, loneliness, and forgiveness. Pages: 208, 6x8, FC
Sample here
Lee: What can I say… it just sounds fun and looks good.
Jim: It sounds absolutely and utterly fun. This type of ridiculous premise sounds loaded with potential for good humor.

Girl Twirl Comics
Martian Confederacy Vol. 1: Rednecks Red Planet GN
by Jason McNamara, Paige Braddock & Brian Miller
In the year 3535 the people of Mars struggle under corporate and political hooliganism. In the black market underground Boone, Spinner, and Lou were three outlaws looking out for themselves. But when a cure for Mars' toxic air supply falls into the wrong hands, these three rednecks decide to do whatever it takes to save their planet. Or die trying. Thieves. Outlaws. Rednecks. Humanity's last hope on Mars! Pages: 152, 6x8, TPB
Lee: McNamara has some good credentials in terms of indy awards and Braddock writes/draws ‘Jane’s World’ so both creators are well established. The only thing left is the concept which sounds entertaining enough. Martians and red necks! What’s not to love?
Jim: This is probably either hilarious or just plain dumb. It sounds like something you have to sample to see whether it will work for you or not.

Harper Collins Publishers
Discworld Vol. 01: Colour of Magic & Light Fantastic GN by Terry Pratchett & Various
Imagine a flat world, sitting on the backs of four elephants, who hurtle through space balanced on a giant turtle. The Discworld is a place (and a time) parallel to our own - but also very different. That is the setting for Terry Pratchett's phenomenally successful Discworld series, which now celebrates its 25th anniversary. The Discworld Graphic Novels presents the very first two volumes of this much-loved series in graphic novel form. First published fifteen years ago, these fully illustrated versions are now issued for the first time in hardback. Introduced here are the bizarre misadventures of Twoflower, the Discworld's first ever tourist, and possibly - portentously - its last, and his guide Rinceflower, the spectacularly inept wizard. Not to mention the Luggage, which has a mind of its own! Pages: 272, 7x10, Hardcover, FC
Lee: This is an odd little book because I’m not sure what to make of it. Discworld is a widely loved series full of humor and adventure BUT it’s a novel. I’ve heard of the graphic novels but I’ve never actually seen one. I would really like to know the artist list because that is what will make or break this deal for me. If you aren’t as dependant on art as I am then it should be very good on story alone.
Jim: It sounds too much like more of a children’s book or a fantasy book and that kills the draw for me.

Magic Trixie Vol. 01 GN by Jill Thompson
Magic Trixie, a young witch, is feeling jinxed! She's not allowed to ride her cousin's broom, play with her father's magic wand, or use her mother's cauldron. But baby sister Abby Cadabra gets rides, gnaws the wand, and bathes in the cauldron. No fair! On top of that, Show & Tell is coming up at school and Magic Trixie wants to be the best. But it's tough competition among her friends. Lupe can turn into a wolf; Nefertiti can show her own organs in their adorable sarcophagi, and Stitch can unsew himself! What if Magic Trixie could solve both of her problems at once? What if she could do some really impressive magic for Show & Tell - by making her baby sister disappear? This delightful, laugh-out-loud graphic novel features full-color art on every page by award-winning artist and writer Jill Thompson. Pages: 96, 6x9, TPB, FC
Lee: I am always sold on Jill Thompson. She is one of my few “buy anything they publish” writers. From Scary Godmother to the Death one shot I love all things Jill Thompson. And this is no exception.
Jim: She has a nice touch to her work, it is always accessible, friendly, a good solid read and eye pleasing art.

Neil Gaiman's Coraline GN by Neil Gaiman & P. Craig Russell
New York Times-bestselling novel and new children's classic Coraline springs to life as a gorgeously adapted graphic novel! When Coraline steps through a door in her family's new house, she finds another house, strangely similar to her own (only better). At first, things seem marvelous. The food is better than at home, and the toy box is filled with fluttering wind-up angels and dinosaur skulls that crawl and rattle their teeth. But there's another mother there and another father, and they want her to stay and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go. Coraline will have to fight with all her wits and all the tools she can find if she is to save herself and return to her ordinary life. This beloved tale has now become a visual feast. Acclaimed artist P. Craig Russell brings Neil Gaiman's enchanting nationally best-selling children's book Coraline to new life in this gorgeously illustrated graphic novel adaptation. Pages: 192, 6x9, HC
Lee: I have a few of Gaiman’s children’s book and I’ve always enjoyed them. Turn it into a comic book with art by Russell and I am all over this.
Jim: Gwen is a huge Gaiman fan also. Kind of hard to find anything wrong with a book with this type of talent level on it.

Zot! Vol. 01: Complete Black & White Stories (1987-1991) SC by Scott McCloud
Comic book afficionados rejoice! The best of the cult classic series, Zot!, first created by Scott McCloud in 1984, is soon to be reprised in this arresting trade paperback compilation, with bonus material! Zachary T. Paleozogt, popularly known as Zot, is a blond-haired, blue-eyed teenage hero from an alternate Earth - this alternate reality is a retro-futuristic technological utopia where flying cars, robots and interplanetary travel are common and nearly all of its inhabitants benefit from peace, prosperity, and a marked lack of conventional social ills. Jaunting back and forth between the two worlds seems exciting for Zot at first, but there are subtle differences in the essential nature of the two planets that take some getting used to. On Zot's world, events naturally favor the "good guys" in any conflict, while on Earth, Zot is a less successful hero, reflecting the fact that our world clearly does not conform to the same rules as his. Nevertheless, Zot eagerly takes on Earth's challenges with the most amusing outcomes. New material includes sketches, designs, some of McCloud's behind-the-scenes working methods, Zot ephemera (there was a Zot watch!) and lots and lots of commentary - "the story behind the stories" as it were. This newly revised cult classic is not to be missed! Pages: 576, 6x9
Lee: If you’ve never read Zot you really, really, really need to. It’s one of the all time great action adventure stories that is entertaining for all ages. I consider it the Indiana Jones of comic books. It’s good for kids but still got enough going on to entertain the most jaded adult. I’ll get this but I’m still going to hunt for the hc’s on ebay (published in the mid-late 90’s).
Jim: It is funny how I have passed on so many of what most consider to be the absolute classics, but I did read some of Zot and never found it to be what I was interested in. Not sure why, just missed the mark for me.

Hot Mexican Love Comics
Hot Mexican Love Comics 2008 by Albert Calleros, Larry Reynosa, Ira Sherak & the Merchants of Love
Because no one demanded it, the most sexually active animators in the TV industry are once again crossing the borders of good taste with Hot Mexican Love Comics 2008 (a.k.a. The Ocho!)! Won't you join us for another Sensual Siesta guaranteed to raise the passion in your life a minimum of 16.2 (study conducted in Mexico)! This anthology containing brand new stories for '08 features artists working on shows such as: The Simpsons, Family Guy, Invader Zim, and many more! Cover by Paul Wee.(sexual activity sometimes include a partner). Pages: 48, 8x11, B&W
Lee: I picked it last year, I’ll pick it again this year. I bought it last year, I’ll buy it again this year. A great humor anthology.
Jim: Well every boy needs a little Hot Mexican Love.

Part 3 will be coming your way on May 28!

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