TwiChil1Image © Gilbert Hernandez and Darwyn Cooke

A small seaside fishing village, perhaps on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, though we aren’t told that, is introduced and explored, as are the people in it, in this brilliant new comic. There’s Tito, a looker with an adoring husband, Nikolas, and something else going on with the fisherman Anton. There’s old Bundo, living in his creaky shack on the beach, a little weird and scary to the three kids who like to play there. And onto this scene comes a glowing white sphere floating on the ocean, something like the white balloons in the TV series “The Prisoner,” but even more sinister. The local sheriff is called, and a scientist, but before they get very far with their investigation, the sphere vanishes. The next sphere appears suddenly in Tito’s bedroom at an awkward moment, and then a third in a cave where the children are playing…or is it all the same one? When one of the children dares to touch the sphere, a violent reaction follows. What does it mean? And who is the beautiful naked woman on the beach?

I love everything about this book, from the enchanting characters—to the mood and mystery—to the clear, classic art where every line and shadow is important. Writer Gilbert Hernandez and artist Darwyn Cooke are each wonderful storytellers on their own. This collaboration promises to combine their strengths and ascend to new heights. I can’t wait to read more.

Highly recommended.

And Then I Read: ASTRO CITY 28

AC28Image © Juke Box Productions

When young Ben is bitten by a wolf spider in Australia, his brilliant scientist mom figures out a way to save him, but the side effects change Ben’s life. First, he goes small. VERY small. Then, with his mother’s help, he gains four extra mechanical limbs, and finally he grows up to fight crime as the new hero, Wolf Spider. Along the way, Ben becomes fascinated with the TV super-hero cartoon show in Australia, “QueensLaw.” Imagine his shock when a real QueensLaw group surfaces and begins to fight crime. Ben is determined to join them, but all is not as it seems…

Kurt Busiek is having way too much fun in this issue, and it’s a fine read. The guest art by Cary Chaloner and Wade Von Grawbadger is quite fine as well. Nicely done and recommended.

Drawing and Inking Like Will Eisner

WECFCImages © Abrams ComicArts and Will Eisner Studios, Inc.

Some time ago I was asked by Charles Kochman of Abrams and Paul Levitz to provide a title and chapter headings for Paul’s upcoming book about Will Eisner. They were looking for work done in Eisner’s own style or styles, and as I’m an Eisner fan, I was happy to agree.

The project was to be a large art book with lots of Will Eisner art, handsomely produced like all Abrams products, and it was only when I started working on my small part of it that the realization hit me: I had to produce work that would stand up to all the brilliant Eisner art around it. In other words, I had to draw and ink like Will Eisner! Or at least close enough that my efforts would not stand out as sub-par. As Charlie Kochman, Abrams Art Director Chad Beckerman, Paul and I began to trade ideas about what was needed, I began to think I’d taken on more than I could handle. Yes, they wanted title lettering in Eisner’s styles, but more than that, in some places they wanted actual artwork to go with it. I’ve done some drawing, but have never been good at figures. I thought if I could avoid that, I might make it work. Continue reading

And Then I Read: CASTLE CORONA by Sharon Creech


Illustration by David Diaz

The setting of this social satire fantasy is in and around the Castle Corona, where we meet the royal family, who seem generally ill-suited to and unhappy with their roles, and some of the peasants in the town near the castle, subjects of the King, with the main focus on two servant children who are brother and sister, Enzio and Pia. They are orphans taken in by Master Pangini, a temperamental man who punishes them often, and they are also unhappy with their lot, dreaming of what it might be like to live in the castle. Other important characters are a mysterious hermit who lives in a hut on the castle grounds, and who serves as a sort of advisor to the King, and a wise woman of the town who is recruited by the Queen to be HER hermit and advisor. The story begins with a theft, and a stolen purse which comes into the hands of Enzio and Pia. It has tokens inside made of gold, and they are torn about what to do with it: turn it in to the authorities, or keep it for themselves. The theft has unsettled everyone at the castle, even though no one is quite sure what has been stolen, and as the King orders an inventory of the royal belongings, he is soon baffled to find all kinds of other things missing. Or is it just the faulty records of his staff? As the story develops, the royals, the peasant children, and the hermits find their lives intertwined in unexpected ways, and everyone ends up doing things and going places they never thought they would. A wise storyteller at the castle puts them all into his stories, helping them see themselves in new ways.

I enjoyed this book, though it’s pretty lightweight emotionally, and the characters all follow the threads of the plot rather woodenly. The plot is clever enough to make it a good read even while sometimes predictable, and no one seems to get into any real danger. The illustrations are many and nicely done, but the medieval flavor doesn’t help draw one into the story, I found. I would not put this book on the same level as Creech’s earlier modern-day works that I’ve read.

Mildly recommended.

And Then I Read: SURVIVOR’S CLUB 1

SurvivorsClub1Cover art by Bill Sienkiewicz

This story begins with a group email that states, “Hi. You don’t know me, but I found your name on a list on the internet. Everyone on that list is missing or dead. There are only six survivors. We’re all in L.A. We’re all connected. Something bad happened to every one of us in 1987. Meet me and I’ll tell you about it.”

What a great opening hook, showing that in the hands of good writers, even plain, emotionless statements of fact can fill the mind with unease and prime the desire to know more.

From there we meet the “survivors” of this mysterious list connected to a long-defunct video game. Each of them seems fairly normal on the surface, but there are undercurrents everywhere, and when the group does get together, things get even weirder and scarier.

Unusually, this book has two writers: Lauren Beukes and Dave Halvorsen, and one artist, Ryan Kelly. Everyone is doing an excellent job of drawing me in and making me want to know more, even as I’m a little afraid of what I might learn. And that cover is killer.