Category Archives: Comics

And Then I Read: SWAMP THING 36

ST36Image © DC Comics, Inc.

Machine intelligence. It seems almost as natural an enemy to The Green and its avatar, Swamp Thing as The Rot. The opening salvo with Swamp Thing aflame even threatens his new allies in The Green, Jonah and Capucine, but the machines still have a lot to learn about Alec Holland. Unfortunately, they’re fast learners. Alec pays a visit to the avatar of The Rot, another old ally, for some touching moments, while the machines go about choosing their own avatar from among many familiar candidates. A good issue, I’m continuing to enjoy writer Charles Soule and artist Jesus Saiz’ work on this title. It keeps going in interesting and surprising places.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: LITTLE NEMO, DREAM ANOTHER DREAM

NemoCoverI worked on this huge book, that’s my logo on the cover, and I lettered about a dozen of the more than 140 pages of comics inside, so I am not an unbiased reader, but I find it a remarkable achievement both artistically and conceptually. Even Leo, above, finds it worthy of an action pose! Measuring 16 by 21 inches, each page is the size that the original “Little Nemo in Slumberland” Sunday comic strips ran when Winsor McCay was producing them early in the 20th century. Many people feel that McCay achieved a pinnacle of visual comics art that has not been equalled since, but Locust Moon Books invited dozens of their favorite artists to try.

NemoSpreadWhile each artist did something relating to the original comic strip, the approaches are as varied as the individual imaginations of all those creators, and it’s remarkable how little similarity there is among them as far as the actual content. Yes, many did artistic homages to McCay’s own Nemo style, but equally as many went their own ways. A few artists used more than one page to tell their tale, but most used a single large page. You can call it a themed anthology, but the experience is a bit more like walking through an art gallery, as the entries are so different, yet contain a common theme. The ones I liked best told an actual story in panels, often numbered sequentially as McCay did, but even there the creators were very clever and playful, with some leading the reading in very unexpected directions. There are many artists represented I know nothing about, but also quite a few I recognized, including a few friends I wasn’t expecting, always a nice thing. The printing and production is stellar, and on a personal note, I have to say I’ve never seen a logo of mine reproduced as large as it is inside this volume. The entire reading experience brings out the child in me, the book is so large, it made me feel small again, in a good way.

If you’ve seen any of the books put out by The Sunday Press, it’s a very similar format, but this is the first book I’ve seen using it for new material. And what truly wonderful material it is!

Highly recommended.

And Then I Read: 75 YEARS OF MARVEL

75YearsCoverImages © Marvel.

Took me a while, but I’ve read it. Or at least as much as I wanted to. This gigantic book is meant as an overview and retrospective of the comics publisher now known as Marvel, previously as Timely, Atlas, and many other lesser-known imprints. As such, it’s about half pictures, but even so, there’s lots of text. I read the first two sections covering 1939 to 1961 the most thoroughly, as it’s the period I knew the least about. I was buying and reading Marvel comics from that point on, and had a chance to catch up with a lot of the issues I missed later, so the period from 1962 to about 1990 was a fun reminiscence of things I was mostly familiar with. From 1991 to the present my Marvel reading has declined steadily, so those sections didn’t mean as much to me, and I generally skimmed.

Roy Thomas has done a fine job with the text, but it’s such a large subject that often he was only able to briefly mention some titles and creators that stood out from the crowd, especially when the output of the company began to grow in the mid-70s. And it’s an official company history, so anything that might make the corporation look bad was glossed over or ignored, but since the emphasis is on the books and the creators rather than company politics and business deals, I didn’t mind that. And there’s always Sean Howe’s “The Secret History of Marvel Comics” if you’re interested in that side of things.

75YearsPages

The art is glorious, lots of larger-than-life reproductions of covers and story pages. To make layouts work, other elements were sometimes a bit too small, but I understand they did the best they could without making the book twice as thick. In all, it’s a fine book, if difficult to lift and read. I’m kind of glad to be done! I imagine I’ll be going back to it for reference in future.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: G.I. ZOMBIE 3

GIZombie3Image © DC Comics, Inc.

The storyline in this book keeps surprising me, in good ways. We have a protagonist who is a zombie, but an atypical one: he’s intelligent, well spoken, and working for the army as an undercover agent. In this issue he’s literally rocketed into a small town alongside a payload full of some kind of infectious agent that starts quickly turning everything it contacts into the typical sort of zombies: mindless killers, starting with animals, and working quickly to the human population. It’s pretty out there for a war comic, much more of a horror story, but well written by Palmiotti and Gray, and the realistic art by Scott Hampton is perfect, keeping the tone calm and therefore more believable. Our zombie can take a lot of punishment, but is he a match for a whole town full of mindless killers? I’m looking forward to finding out.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: AQUAMAN 35

Aquaman35Image © DC Comics, Inc.

Here’s a refreshing change, a storyline that’s not mainly about fighting. Aquaman has decided to investigate some unanswered questions he has about his own childhood as well as the history of Atlantis itself. He’s gathering researchers and resources, and we learn with him about the unusual science — or is it magic? — that lies beneath the sunken civilization, as well as what lies within the tomb of Arthur’s mother. Great stuff by writer Jeff Parker and artists Paul Pelletier and Sean Parsons. Also a cool submarine.

Recommended.