Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Post What I Read – Feb 29
In between my nostril love fest, I managed to read My Friend Dahmer, Billy Fog Vol 1, Ampney Crucis: Vile Bodies and Hector Umbra. You can see what I liked below the break.
My Friend Dahmer written/ illustrated by Derf Backderf, published by Abrams ComicArts, 224 pgs, $18
Do you remember high school? Do you remember those creepy kids on the outside of everything that kinda… well… creeped you out? Ever wondered what happened to them? Well, for syndicated cartoonist Derf, the creepy kid that he was friends with was Jeffrey Dahmer. Yep, he was friends with one of the worst serial killers ever!
Reconstructed from the memories of himself and his friends, along with the transcripts from the FBI’s interviews, My Friend Dahmer is a fascinating story about a young man on the verge of becoming a monster. Great stuff. The long review is here.
Ampney Crucis: Vile Bodies SC written by Ian Edginton, illustrated by Simon Davis, published by Rebellion / 2000AD, 96 pgs, $20
The hype: England, 1928.Lord Ampney Crucis was a dashing, smart, and charming young man, tipped to rise to the top of high society. But then the Great War happened, and a close encounter with an otherworldly entity in No Man's Land drove him temporarily insane. After recovery, he discovered that he had the ability to sense the presence of entities that exist beyond our reality. Now Ampney investigates the rum goings-on that have begun to plague our green and pleasant land.
The easiest way to describe this is a Victorian age Hellblazer. And, yes it is as awesome as it sounds. Don’t mistake the premise though; this is very much a horror story. It starts simply enough with half bee/half human creatures and ends up with a topless woman covered in blood holding Grandma’s head on a pike. No worries, it’s all tastefully done.
What sets this apart is Edginton writing. Ampney, our hero, is very much British aristocracy, and acts accordingly. He firmly believes in class status and the fact that the little man is the little man because he is less than a man. It’s all great stuff that is juxtaposed against some of the more hardcore horror elements.
Davis’s painted art is excellent too with bright colors that again, stands in contrast to some of the darker elements.
Billy Fog Volume 1: The Gift of Trouble Sight written/ illustrated by Guillaume Bianco, published by Archaia Entertainment, 144 pgs, $25.
Billy Fog is a little boy who can sees all the things that other kids can’t—ghosts and ghouls, vampires and monsters, a world of darkness and danger and above all the thing that kids aren’t supposed to see: death. It’s all fun’n’games until his beloved cat dies. Then Billy starts to wonder about the nature of death and exactly where his cat has gone.
Billy Fog is an odd little book because it’s part Lio, part Calvin and Hobbs, part black humor, and part mediation on the meaning of death. The humor is in line with Edward Gorey, Jhonen Vasquez, Roman Dirge and the likes and in spots it’s really, really good. When Billy tries to figure out death and it’s meaning it’s pretty good too. The problem is that Billy, at his core, is a mean little kid. You can argue that Calvin was mean too, but deep down he was nice. I’m not sure that can be said of Billy. For example, his sister gets scared of a ghost one night and goes to Billy’s room. There is a humorous exchange but at the end, when Billy has had enough he pushes her into the hall to fend for herself. It’s that mean spirited attitude that makes it hard to like him, and therefore hard to recommend the book.
Overall the art is very good, and the story is mostly good so it’s worth checking out but I’d recommend waiting for a sale at the local store.
Hector Umbra HC written/ illustrated by Uli Oesterle, published by Blank Slate, 212 pgs, $27
Set in Munich, Hector’s friend Master DJ Osaka Best has disappeared, mysteriously vanishing in a flash of blinding light during the climax of his set at Robot Mitchum nightclub. Having recently lost his best friend, Hector isn’t about to lose another and starts to track Osaka down. Thus the adventure starts including visits with the dead, paranoid homeless people, and a pack of delusions that are trying to take over the world.
There’s a fine line between incoherent mess and providing the reader with a pile of mixed up puzzle pieces for him/her to figure out. In this case, Oesterle provides a wonderful pile of pieces and then takes you on a wild ride putting it all together. He sets up many an event that seem random and haphazard only to fill in the blanks later. More than once, I found myself thinking back to previous events and going ‘aaahhhh, that’s what it meant.’ Oesterle also channels his inner Morrison when it comes to whacky ideas and characters. It’s new and novel and fun to read.
Oesterle’s art is reminiscent of Mike Mignola and Michael Avon Oeming and is entertaining. The best part is that it gets better as the story goes along. In particular, Oesterle’s inks get stronger and you can see a progression through the book as he learns to control his brush.
Overall, I really enjoyed this and recommend it.
That’s it for this week.