Author Archives: Todd

And Then I Read: VERTIGO QUARTERLY: MAGENTA

Magenta

Image © DC Comics, Inc.

Before I discuss the contents of this anthology, some words on the cover. While it’s true that, in today’s market, cover appeal is not as important as it once was when readers needed to be enticed to buy off the newsstand, I still feel this design scheme for the QUARTERLY is misguided. First, it reveals nothing about what’s in the book. Second, it wastes prime space. Third, it’s an insider joke that, even as an insider myself, I find uninteresting. Perhaps the oddness of it might get a few folks to pick it up and look through it, but I don’t think that’s enough reason to go this route.

As for what’s inside, I’m afraid I didn’t find very much that appealed to me. The opening story by Rachel Deering and Matteo Scalera has nice art, but a violently unlikeable lead character. Rian Hughes’ “Magenta is not a Colour” is at least on theme, and the art is attractive and clever. The story did not do much for me, but that might be me. “Captives” by Moreci and Mutti has nice art, but again not much of a story, it’s more of a story fragment. “Gloves” by Lindsay and Edwards delivers a complete story, and not a bad one. The art is impressionistic and well done, though not really to my taste. Fabio Moon’s “Pink Slumber” is probably my favorite entry in the book. Clever writing, attractive art, a little light on content, but not bad. A few other stories didn’t work for me, and I have to say the lettering and/or the art was off-putting. Books like this are meant to give newcomers a chance to try things, and that’s great, but it doesn’t mean readers will want to read them.

Mildly recommended.

And Then I Read: AQUAMAN ANNUAL 2

AquamanAnn2

Image © DC Comics, Inc.

Aquaman and Wonder Woman team up to deal with a group of dangerous creatures recently released from an ancient Atlantean prison, as seen in AQUAMAN 29 & 30. Why Wonder Woman? They’re creatures connected to Greek mythology, perhaps in somewhat minor ways, but it works as a story with lots of action in a Ray Harryhausen tradition: heroes vs. monsters. The monsters themselves have individual personalities and talents, and they’ve used them to set up headquarters in a medieval castle in France, mind-controlling the locals to act as their servants and energy source. Diana and Arthur infiltrate, are discovered, and the battle is on.

A second story teams Wonder Woman with Mera, tracking down another group of the creatures on a remote island. I actually liked this better, and the art by Alvaro Martinez and Raul Fernandez is excellent. It’s all fun in a summer reading at the beach sort of way.

Recommended.

Silver Anniversary

ToddandEllen1989

Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the day I married my true love, Ellen. This is my favorite picture from the wedding. We’re still in love, and it sure doesn’t seem like that long ago!

CityTavern

Today Ellen had an appointment in downtown Philadelphia, and I went with her. We made it a short day-trip to celebrate our anniversary, starting with a delicious lunch at this restaurant in the historic district. While the building and interiors look authentically colonial, I learned today by reading the fine print on the cornerstone that it’s a recreation of the original built in the 1970s. No matter, it’s still great fun. The food is excellent, and so is the beer. I had the Porter mentioned in the sign above, delicious!

Mural

Afterwards we walked around the historic district enjoying the atmosphere. We considered going in to see the Liberty Bell, but the length of the line discouraged us. I spotted the Curtis Building and had to visit the Parrish/Tiffany mural in the lobby there, which I love. A huge art installation, it was designed by Maxfield Parrish and executed in many thousands of pieces of iridescent favrile glass by the Tiffany Studios. It’s quite amazing, and impossible to get in one photo. Unfortunately, it’s poorly lit, which probably helps preserve it, but makes the colors hard to see and appreciate. I enhanced them some on these photos.

MuralDetail

In this closer shot you can see some of the small pieces of glass forming the mosaic picture. I’ve just looked up the details, it’s 15 feet high by 49 feet wide, and made of about 100,000 pieces of glass. If you’re ever in Philadelphia try to stop in and see it.

After that we stopped at a used book store, bought a few things, and headed home before rush hour made traffic too crazy. A nice break for both of us.

Sand Sculpting with Friends

GabeTimSculpting

It’s been a few years since my friend Tim and his son Gabe were able to visit us in the summer. When they do, we always create some unusual sand sculptures, and that’s what happened this past weekend. Tim had some new sand sculpting tools,  WillySpheres, which do but one thing: make large spherical shapes, and we used them for our carvings. Continue reading

And Then I Read: DETECTIVE COMICS ANNUAL 3

TECAnn3

Image © DC Comics, Inc.

Annuals represent extra work for a book’s creative team which they may or may not have time for. Most often the writer does, but the artist does not. In the case of the team of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato, both work on the story, but Manapul does the art, Buccellato does the dialogue and colors, so it’s a more welded team than usual. For this annual, Buccellato does the writing alone, the art is by three guys, Werther Dell’edera, Jorge Fornés and  Scott Hepburn. I was curious to see how I’d like it. As it happens, I liked it a lot. This suggests Buccellato has a good handle on the writing.

While the story could stand alone, it does continue from the regular title, focusing on the drug Icarus. I’m not fond of drug trade stories, but this one has lots of interesting characters and complications. Batman is trying to track not only drug shipments but illegal weapons, all probably in the hands of a street gang making moves for power. Among them is a tough guy with a son who provides a lead for Batman, and another young man who plans to make one more big trade, then move on with his girlfriend…if he can avoid the temptation of the drug itself. Several story threads lead to a big confrontation between Batman and the drug lord armed with very powerful illegal weapons.

The art is in three individual styles, which is a little distracting, but they’re close enough that it didn’t pull me out of the story much. In all, this was well done.

Recommended.