And Then I Read: EQUAL RITES by Terry Pratchett

This is the first book in the “Witches” sub-series of Pratchett’s Discworld grand opus, and the third Discworld book published. In Discworld, magic falls into two separate camps divided along gender lines…at least until the events of this book. Wizards are all male, and deal with various kinds of transformative spells and grand magic. Witches, all female, deal with smaller but possibly more important knowledge and magic relating to birth, death, family life and healing. They are the mid-wives, the country doctors, the holders of knowledge about things that the common people need help with.

As the story opens, a dying elderly wizard has made his way to a rural area in the mountains where he hopes to grant his power and magic staff to a child with promising indications. The power is passed, but the fact that the child is female is something he overlooks. The local witch, Granny Weatherwax, tries to help the family of Eskarina, the chosen child, who want nothing to do with the magic staff left in their home, or the power granted, but as the child grows, her magic begins to surface, build, and accumulate, spilling out into the world in dangerous and unexpected ways. As Eskarina reaches her teens, Granny Weatherwax realizes she is out of her depth, and she and Eskarina embark on a long journey to the Unseen University, training establishment of the Wizards, to see if they can and will help. Along the way, Eskarina and Granny meet with large amounts of disbelief and criticism for even supposing a woman could ever be a wizard. The  very fabric of magic in Discworld is about to be changed by Eskarina, and who ever wants change?

It was interesting reading this early Pratchett book not long after his last published one, “The Shepherd’s Crown.” This early writing is quite entertaining, with lots of humor crammed in wherever it can be in the narration, almost as if Pratchett was afraid of any dull or solemn moment creeping in, and at times a bit too frantic to please. The later books of his I’ve read are more balanced between humor and seriousness, less frantic, and more confident. The light-hearted writing is fine, though, and I found it captivating and entertaining. The inventiveness of the author is impressive, as is his knowledge of human nature, the characters are appealing (even when sometimes appalling), and the story satisfying. I look forward to more, and am happy to know there are lots more to read.


And Then I Read: RAVEN #2

Image © DC Entertainment. Written by Marv Wolfman, art by Alisson Borges, color by Blond, letters by A Larger World.

While Raven stays with her Aunt Alice on the west coast, she’s attending a new high school there where new friends have been made, and new threats uncovered. An evil force is rising that’s having unexpected effects on Raven’s own powers, pulling her into troubling dreams. When the force erupts in the streets of the city, Raven tries to help, but is unable to prevent her friends from being drawn into the hypnotic glowing energy.

I want to like this book. I do like the writing, but the art is proving too difficult a hurdle for me. I’ve never been a fan of anime, and that look comes and goes here with no rhyme or reason. At times Raven looks fairly close to the cover image, at others she’s a Japanese cartoon child. This keeps throwing me out of the story. The interactions between Raven and her new high school friends are kind of fun, but the action scenes lose me, and I don’t care for the new costume, either. This book is not aimed at me, and may well be popular with younger readers, but I have to say I won’t be reading more.

Not recommended.


Image © DC Entertainment. Written by Cecil Gastellucci, art by Marley Zarcone and Ande Parks, colors by Kelly Fitzpatrick, letters by Saida Temofonte.

After really enjoying issue #9, I found this one less satisfying. Shade is on a road trip in search of “Honey,” the actress who portrayed a TV housewife in a comedy series of the 1950s, along the lines of “I Love Lucy,” but taking place in an atomic bomb research center in the desert southwest (Los Alamos?). Shade finds the house in the TV show, but of course Honey herself never really lived there. She visits the site of the first atomic bomb test, too. Back on Meta, evil scientists are still trying to track her location on Earth through her friend Lepuck, and sending agents to try to retrieve the Madness Coat she stole. Some of her friends are also trying to track her through the series of “madness events” she seems to be creating on her travels. The latest happens in this issue in a bar near the atomic test site. In the “Life With Honey” backup with art by Leila Del Duca, Honey learns how to “Duck and Cover,” and performs a song about it at the Officer’s Club.

Somehow the fresh feel of last issue has dissipated into more of the same elements from the previous storyline, and the many narratives make for a fragmented issue with lots of odd behavior by everyone. My favorite part was the backup this time.

Mildly recommended.

Pulled From My Files #77: IRON MAN Logo

This and all images © Marvel.

In 2014 I was asked by Marvel to design a new Iron Man cover logo. I began with some thumbnail sketches made while looking at an image of the character’s then-current costume. I kept returning to the idea of making the O in IRON utilize the glowing power source on the character’s chest, perhaps also using some of the armor features around it. Continue reading

Designing the WONDER-CON 2018 Logo

Image © Comic-Con International and DC Entertainment.

The program book cover for this year’s Wonder-Con has just been released, and it has a logo I designed in the style of the Superman logo. I had worked with Director of Print and Digital Media Gary Sassaman on the logo for last year’s Comic-Con International program book, and we both enjoyed the process, so I was happy to be asked to do this one. Continue reading