And Then I Read: WISHING SEASON by Esther M. Friesner

WishingSeasonCover and interior illustrations © Frank Kelly Freas

Khalid is attending Genie school in the mysterious land of the Genies, and is very skilled in magic, but not so much in understanding the humans he will need to deal with when granting wishes. Khalid is admired by his classmate, the lovely Tamar, and envied by another classmate, Gamal, who covets the attention of Tamar, which Khalid doesn’t seem to notice. Khalid is sure he knows everything he needs to know about being a Genie, and their teacher Ishmael decides to give him a trial run in a magic lamp to see how things go. Unfortunately for Khalid, they can’t possibly go worse. When he emerges from the magic lamp in the hands of his new master, Haroun, he forgets to tell him a crucial rule: you can’t use one of your three wishes to get more wishes. When Haroun asks for unlimited wishes, Khalid finds he is bound to grant that wish, essentially making him a permanent slave to Haroun’s every greedy thought and desire.

When Khalid doesn’t return to class as expected, Tamar goes out to help him, but finds that challenging. Meanwhile, Gamar is also on hand to make Khalid’s life as difficult as possible. New allies like a very smart alley cat are some help, but Khalid is so mired in trouble, it seems he’ll never get out. Before long the ruling council of Genies is involved in this mess, and Gamal is upping his evil plans, and things go from bad to worse.

This is a fun book, and the art by Kelly Freas is a delightful bonus. Friesner’s writing is light and humorous, but her characters are appealing and her plot reasonably believable (at least while you’re reading). It is a bit hard to get one’s head into the Arabian Nights world the book takes place in, since the real world now occupying that space is so different, but once you do, the story carries you along on a nice magic carpet ride.

Recommended

Pulled From My Files #35: LOVE STORIES recreation

LoveStories Images © DC Comics

Some time in 1999 or 2000 someone in DC’s design department asked me to recreate the lettering for this cover from 1971, beautifully crafted by Gaspar Saladino. DC was planning a replica edition but did not have the film negatives of this cover to reprint it from. All they had was a copy of the comic in a bound volume, probably a volume of 100-page Super Spectaculars, of which this was #5. They agreed to my rate, and sent me this color photocopy to work from. I scanned it and painstakingly traced all the lettering in Adobe Illustrator, or in the case of the type at the top, found the right font to match it.

LoveStoriesTKI don’t recall how long it took, but I’m sure it took a long time! The ability to zoom in a ridiculous amount in Illustrator made it possible to match the original very closely. The rate must have made it worth while, though I don’t think I’d attempt this kind of job today. Life is too short. It’s always nice to have a chance to study the fine work of Gaspar Saladino, though. The curve of the lettering where it goes into the gutter took some adjusting, but I think it came out pretty good. The recreation was released in 2000.

And Then I Read: GREEN LANTERN 43

GL43Image © DC Comics

Hal Jordan as a sort of wandering space policeman/detective was working for me, but this issue gets Relic involved, the central bad guy from a recent crossover event. Hal wants information from him, and doesn’t want Relic to know who he really is, as Relic is determined to destroy all Lanterns. Things are working out until one of Hal’s new sidekicks, Virgo, throws a massive spanner in the works. Some help he is…

Still kind of fun, but this issue is less appealing and mildly recommended.

Incoming: FREE COUNTRY

FreeCountryHCImage © DC Comics, Inc.

This new hardcover reprints the two large issues from the 1993-94 Vertigo crossover with an all-new center third lettered by me (along with other pages in the final section), a total of 75 new pages. As Neil explains in his introduction, the entire idea of a Vertigo crossover was new at the time, as was the imprint, and the original plan didn’t pan out well, so the story was never reprinted. In this new version, the story line has been carried through as originally intended with a center section plotted by Neil, written by Toby Litt and with art by Peter Gross. I think it works much better now.

And Then I Read: A SAILOR’S STORY by Sam Glanzman

SailorsStoryImage © Sam Glanzman

This handsome 8.25 by 11 inch full color trade paperback is the first I’ve seen of Dover Publications’ new series of comics reprints. I have lots of Dover books on my shelves, they’re known for quality but inexpensive reprints in a vast number of categories, and I welcome their entry into comics. They’ve done a fine job of reproducing the art from the original Marvel graphic novels of 1987 and 1989, with new material added. 164 large pages for $19.95, a bargain, and a treasure.

There have been few comics written in this genre: autobiographical accounts from World War Two in graphic form. Yes, plenty of ex-G.I.’s wrote and drew war comics, and elements of those were often drawn from their experiences, but they were usually presented as fiction. This book is full of real stories from young Sam’s time as a sailor on board the destroyer U.S.S. Stevens in the South Pacific, where he began serving not long after Pearl Harbor, and saw lots of action through the end of the war. From his accounts, Sam was an average guy from upstate New York who was ill prepared for war, but gamely tackled everything asked of him, from scrubbing decks to manning ammunition stations in combat at sea. While it seems to be true that the sailor’s life is somewhat easier than that of a soldier in war, sudden death is just as common, as the destroyer dealt with submarines, kamikaze pilots, and crazed Japanese soldiers on remote islands. Glanzman is particularly good as showing how war affected the men aboard his and other ships, as well as giving insight into how war devastated the many islands they visited. Sam’s art style is along the lines of Joe Kubert, in that it’s a little loose and full of personality. His writing and art together make this memorable.

An excellent and important work, and highly recommended.