Thursday, February 25, 2010

Indies Preview Review for April Part 2 of 3

Continued from Yesterday...

:01 First Second
City of Spies GN by (W) Susan Kim, Laurence Klavan (A) Pascal Dizin
Mystery, intrigue, and pastries abound in this World War II spy tale. Evelyn typically satisfies her longing for adventure with the help of a pencil and a sheet of paper. But when she makes a new friend, Tony, she's happy to abandon her art for a real-life search for spies. When the two accidentally uncover a genuine mystery, it looks like Evelyn might end up in the kind of adventure she writes in her comics! $16.99 Visit Dizin here
Lee: The story sounds cute but I am completely sucked into the art! The art has that retro 50’s feel that’s clearly been inspired by Herge’s Tin-tin, Daniel Torres’s Rocco Vargas, or even Freddy Lombard’s Chaland stories. (Go look’em up people! Those are books worth finding!) It’s so different from what’s out there now I can’t resist. I’m all over this.
Jim: It sounds a little too cute. I would want a 10 page preview or more before I committ.
Lee: Do you find Tin-Tin too cute??? It's the same thing! Take a chance.

Booth GN by (W) C. C. Colbert (A) Tanitoc
From the pen of American historian C.C. Colbert and the brush of French comics master Tanitoc comes a thought-provoking perspective on John Wilkes Booth, one of the greatest villains of United States history. How did this renowned actor of the stage become of of history's most infamous assassins? $19.99 There’s a bio, with art, on Tanitoc here and previews here
Lee: I originally picked this because I always pick at least one historical fiction book. Then I hunted around and found samples of Tanitoc’s art. DAMMIT! :01 Second needs to stop publishing these books. The art looks fantastic. The story sounds great. And now I’m getting another book that I can’t afford.
Jim: Lee has gotten me hooked on historical fiction also. I find that my tastes runs the gamut in comics like it does with prose books and I'm always up for learning more of history.

Lee: This is off topic but I gotta say that I have, and love, almost all the :01 Second books. They are a great publisher and I talk about them almost every month. So, if they are so good why does their web site S*CK A*S so much. It’s awful. I hope you’re reading :01 Second people… fix the damn site and make previews easily accessible! Heck, even SLG has better website than you.
Jim: Lee brings up a great point. The small publishers need to have better websites in general and keep their content updated. If people read or hear about a product they want to check it out. Having your book for sale on Amazon does not cut it. Having art samples, quick interviews with your creators, links to where the book can be bought or ordered, those are the things people need. Heck Lee adds more links into his picks then the publishers give out.

Resistance GN by (W) Carla Jablonski (A) Leland Purvis
Paul and Marie's bucolic French country town is almost untouched by the ravages of WWII, but the siblings still live in the shadow of war. Their father is a prisoner of war, kept hostage by the Germans. When their friend Henri's parents disappear and Henri goes into hiding because of his Jewish ancestry, Paul and Marie realize they must take a stand. But how can they convince the French Resistance that even children can help in their fight against injustice? $16.99 You can visit Purvis here
Lee: What’s a month of indies without some historical fiction? In this case, we’re doing WWII from a non-soldier perspective. Good story, good art by Purvis, this sounds like another winner for :01 Second.
Jim: Sure you like the French stuff. This is a pass for me, it is not grabbing my interest.
Lee: What? I'm sorry but I'm throwing the yellow contradiction flag. One book up, Booth, you say you really like historical fiction and yet you pass on this. I would argue that the French resistance is more interesting than John Wilkes Booth. Dude just shot a man. Anyone can do that. This is about a whole country trying to save itself from evil oppression. If you're limiting yourself to one historical book, I would argue this would be better.
Jim: Again Lee's love of the French comes out. It kids fighting the Germans. Yes historical fiction can be interesting, and no not every subject is worth my time.

Fantagraphics Books
Artichoke Tales HC by (W/A) Megan Kelso
Megan Kelso's First New Book In Four Years Is A Fantastic Generation-Spanning Saga. With Artichoke Tales, six years in the making, Kelso expands her range (and her page count) by creating a family saga spanning three generations and an entire continent. Artichoke Tales is a 176-page coming-of-age story about a young girl named Brigitte whose family is caught between the two warring sides of a civil war, a graphic novel that takes place in a world that echoes our own, but whose people have artichoke leaves instead of hair. Influenced in equal parts by Little House on the Prairie, The Thorn Birds, Dharma Bums, and Cold Mountain, Kelso weaves a moving story about family amidst war. Kelso's visual storytelling, uniquely combining delicate linework with rhythmic, musical page compositions, creates a dramatic tension between intimate, ruminative character studies and the unflinching depiction of the consequences of war and carnage, lending cohesion and resonance to a generational epic. $22.99 Some background on Kelso and art samples here
Lee: There not much more to say other than this just sounds really good. Since I have little girls, I’ve started reading more of this type of material and darnit… if it isn’t really good most of the time. Kelso art looks great too so this is an easy buy for me.
Jim: Yeah, I'm at a different point in my life than Lee and this material has no draw for me.

Dungeon Quest Book 01 SC by (W/A) Joe Daly
A SURREAL SUBURBAN ROLE PLAYING GAME YARN FROM THE CREATOR OF THE RED MONKEY DOUBLE HAPPINESS BOOK One day Millenium sic Boy decided to grab his hobo stick, his bandana, and his Swiss Army knife, bid his mom goodbye, and head off on a quest for adventure. Joined by his best friend Steve (weapon: baseball bat; clothing: wife beater, cargo pants and sandals), they soon find themselves in a violent altercation with two other adventure seekers. It ends badly for their antagonists (Whoa, check it out, dude! You actually knocked this dude's brain right out of his cranium!) and Millenium Boy and Steve become the proud owners of fancy weapons upgrades (a crowbar and a steel chain) So on they trek, and the next inductee to their group is the muscle-bound Lash Penis. And then things start getting weird! Readers of 2009's Red Monkey Double Happiness Book will recognize Joe Daly's delightfully unique stoner/philosopher dialogue and distinctive character designs, but the hilarious over-the-top Role Playing Game action (complete with periodic updates for each character's status in ten criteria, including dexterity, intelligence, and money) propel this new story into a heretofore unachieved action-comedy realm. By the end of this book (the first chapter of a projected four-part epic), the trio has been joined by Nerdgirl the Archer, Lash Penis has nearly had his arm cut off, theyve acquired a whole new nifty bag of tricks, and the menaces have become increasingly surreal and lethal. Where will it end? Stay tuned for Dungeon Quest Book Two in six months! $12.99
Lee: I picked up Daly’s Red Monkey Double Happiness book and loved it. It was great stoner comics fun! And now Daly’s got a brand new story. I’m sold.
Jim: I still need to read Red Monkey first and apparently get stoned first.

Meatcake GN by (W) Dame Darcy, Alan Moore (A) Dame Darcy
VICTORIAN HUMOR, HORROR AND ROMANCE GUEST-STARRING ALAN MOORE! Dame Darcy is one of the most beguiling presences on the comics scene-musician, actress, cable TV star, fortune teller, dollmaker, and last but not least, cartoonist to the core-and has been bewitching readers for over 15 years with her neo-Victorian horror/humor/ romance comic Meatcake. Alternating between one-off (often cruelly tragic) fairy tales and ongoing romps starring her eclectic cast of characters, including Effluvia the Mermaid, the roguish roué Wax Wolf, Igpay the Pig-Latin pig, Stregapez (a women who speaks by dispensing Pez-like tablets through a bloody hole in her throat), the mischievous Siamese twins Hindrance and Perfidia, Scampi the Selfish Shellfish, the stalwart Friend the Girl, and the blonde bombshell Richard Dirt, all delineated in her inimitable luxurious scrawl, Meatcake is like a peek into the most creative, deranged dollhouse you ever saw. Meatcake is an expanded reprint of the out of print hardcover with more stories assembling the very best of Darcy's work (including Hungry Is the Heart, the legendary collaboration with Watchmen's Alan Moore) $22.99 About Darcy here and her art gallery here
Lee: In terms of independent creators, Dame Darcy has been around forever. The problem for me has always been her art. I can’t describe it but there is something incredibly ugly and appealing about Darcy’s art all at once. As I drift farther and farther away from the Marvel/DC house styles it appeals to me more and more but I still think it’s going to be an acquired taste. But, with a new collection coming out, maybe it’s time I tried.
Jim: Good luck with that. I understand that the longer you are into comics the more you want to try different things, but somethings will never work and this maybe one of those for me. Are you going to buy one of her comic pages?
Lee: I love buying comic art and if I could afford one of her pages, I would. Although it's still very, very odd looking.

Weathercraft HC by (W/A) Jim Woodring
THE FIRST GRAPHIC NOVEL FROM A MASTER OF THE FORM, CO-STARRING HIS BELOVED FRANK CHARACTER For over 20 years now, Jim Woodring has delighted, touched, and puzzled readers around the world with his lush, wordless tales of Frank. Weathercraft is Woodring's first full-length graphic novel set in this world-indeed, Woodring's first graphic novel, period!-and it features the same hypnotically gorgeous linework and mystical iconography. As it happens, Frank has only a brief supporting appearance in Weathercraft, which actually stars Manhog, Woodring's pathetic, brutish everyman (or everyhog), who had previously made several appearances in Frank stories (as well as a stunning solo turn in the short story Gentlemanhog) After enduring 32 pages of almost incomprehensible suffering, Manhog embarks upon a transformative journey and attains enlightenment. He wants to go to celestial realms but instead altruistically returns to the Unifactor to undo a wrong he has inadvertently brought about: The transformation of the evil politician Whim into a mind-destroying plant-demon who distorts and enslaves Frank and his friends. The new and metaphysically expanded Manhog sets out for a final battle with Whim. Weathercraft also co-stars Frank's cast of beloved supporting characters, including Frank's Faux Pa and the diminutive, mailbox-like Pupshaw and Pushpaw; it is both a fully independent story that is a great introduction to Woodring's world, and a sublime addition to, and extension of, the Frank stories. Weathercraft will be a defining graphic novel of 2010. $19.99
Lee: This is shocking but I don’t actually have any Woodring in my collection. Well that’s all about to end because I’m getting this. Yes, I know there won’t be any words but that’s offset by the really, really pretty pictures. There’s lots of high profile creators with new stuff this month. It’s like Christmas in whatever months the books actually come out.
Jim: Key phrase being in whatever month these books come out. It is maddening when you order this stuff and it shows up a year later.

Gestalt Publishing Pty LTD
Changing Ways SC by (W/A) Justin Randall
David Barrot moved to Grey Oaks after the tragic death of his son, Cale. He bought a farm on the outskirts of town with his wife and daughter to begin life anew, putting aside the dark events of their past. Unfortunately for them, the dark just won't leave David alone. The first sightings started months ago, igniting rumors of disease and infection. Newspaper stories of strange side effects and mysterious lesions spread quickly. Perhaps it was inevitable that the people of Grey Oaks would be next. 120 pgs, FC, $17.95 Visit Justin Randall here.
Lee: Randall’s art is very similar in style to Templesmith, so as an art guy I’m sold. Add that to an interesting contagion story and I’m willing to give it a try.
Jim: This does sound like it is worth a try. Lately I have been taking fliers on OGNs a lot more so I can get the whole story all at once and not worry about if the series will ever be concluded.

The conclusion tomorrow!

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