Rereading: THE TOUGH WINTER by Robert Lawson

ToughWinterImage © estate of Robert Lawson.

About a month ago, when Winter was getting me down, I found rereading this childhood favorite a good antidote. One of writer/illustrator Lawson’s best and best known books is “Rabbit Hill,” but this sequel is nearly as good. The setting is Lawson’s actual home in Westport, Connecticut, but the talking animals are pure whimsy. Very entertaining all the same. When Lawson and his wife head south for the winter, they hire a house-sitter who is a very poor replacement in the eyes of the many animals on and around the property, who Lawson has been feeding regularly. When the caretaker arrives, that’s clearly over, and the caretaker’s foolish dog, while no real threat to the wise country critters, is still very annoying. Winter hits hard with lots of snow, and while young Georgie Rabbit and his friend Willie Fieldmouse find it all a great adventure, many residents are forced to move to other farms and homes where they can find food. Even Georgie’s mother is sent off to relatives while Georgie’s father and Uncle Analdas decide to tough it out. Before long they’re starving and desperate, but the younger creatures manage to keep the fun in their winter travails, as can be seen in the cover picture above. Lawson’s illustrations for this book are in lush and detailed pencil, only colored on the cover, but there are lots of them, and they’re wonderful. Yes, the animals act more like people much of the time, foibles and all, but that’s part of the charm of this delightful story.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: SUPERMAN 38

Sup38Image © DC Comics, Inc.

Superman has been trying to help Ulysses, but things went very wrong, and now Ulysses is out to destroy Superman and Earth, even though it’s the home of his own parents. This is a setup for major melodrama, but the fine writing of Geoff Johns keeps it real and believable, even though of course it’s unbelievable how two such powerful beings go at each other. There are many effective character moments among the blasting and explosions, including an appearance by Batman, Clark Kent back to work at The Daily Planet, Ulysses and his parents, and my favorite, the closing scene with Jimmy Olsen setting up the return of Jimmy’s best role.

Recommended.

Watching iZOMBIE

izombie_posterI watched the first episode of this new CW show last night, based on the Vertigo comics. There have been a number of TV shows and movies adapted from comics I worked on, but this one is unusual in that I lettered the entire series, so I was curious to see what I’d think. I liked it a lot, and there are definitely connections to the comics, though not as many as there might have been. Continue reading

And Then I Read: A GAME OF THRONES VOL. 3

GameThrones3Image © George R.R. Martin.

I liked this comics adaptation of the first “Game of Thrones” novel pretty well when I started reading it, but did not care fir this volume so much, mainly because of the art by Tommy Patterson. He’s doing pencils and inks, which is a ton of work on such a big project, but in places here the inking looks rushed and sketchy. The characters seem to be looking more like each other all the time, and in places there’s a cartoony feel to the figures and faces that doesn’t seem right for the subject matter to me. There could be some artistic burnout involved, I don’t know. The story is compelling, the adaptation seems good, though it’s been over twenty years since I read the book, so I’m not a very good judge of that. But for it to work visually, the art has to draw me in, and this doesn’t. Instead, I find myself mentally critiquing it as I read. In all, I felt like I’d rather imagine these characters in my own head than see them depicted in this form. I haven’t watched any of the HBO adaptation, so I don’t yet know how I’ll feel about that, but it seems likely it’s going to be a more realistic approach than some of the art in this book. I’m thinking I may not get the final hardcover volume.

Not recommended.

And Then I Read: ASTRO CITY 19

AC19Image © Jukebox Productions. What a great cover!

The saga of Quarrel continues, bouncing around from her present-day concerns about getting too old for the super-hero business, and episodes from her past, including family issues and early crime-fighting days. One constant is the ever-turbulent relationship with Crackerjack, her partner at home and sometimes at work. There IS a lot of quarreling in this story, but it’s a great partnership to read about. Reminds me some of Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance, but with its own unique flavor. Good comics; thoughtful writing by Kurt Busiek, nice art by Brent Anderson, and of course Alex Ross on the cover. Hey, the coloring and lettering are nice too!

Recommended.