30 May 2003
24 May 2003
Last week I picked up the first Leave it to Chance collection, Shaman's Rain, from the library (alas, I have to give it back). Now that I've seen a complete story arc, I like this book even more. It still doesn't blow me away, but it's a good story that anyone -- but especially girls who like Nancy Drew -- can enjoy. Okay, there were some irritating grammatical errors (why do mistakes like this seem to be acceptable in comics when they're not in any other print medium?) (except the web, if you can call it a print medium, which it isn't really, but sort of is). Anyway, there was nothing super-spectacular about the book, except that there aren't that many really fun comics that pretty much anyone who picks it up can get something out of. (Speaking of grammar, I'm not sure that last sentence works, but you know what I mean, right?) So, while I probably won't run out to buy this title every month, it's now on my TPB-collections-to-eventually-buy list.
So, now to the rest of the comics I got free:
Free Speeches (Oni Press) Okay, so this isn't actually a comic-book, but it is a comic-book-shaped publication by a comic book publisher. Also, it was published in 1998, so obviously it isn't one of the books that came out specially for free comic book day. Still, I got it free on free comic book day, so I'm gonna babble about it here. A little. What it is is a small collection of speeches by various people regarding comic books and the US First Amendment (being Canadian, I have to stick that "US" in there) and constitutional free speech. This is important stuff. If you ever wondered how or why free speech doesn't always seem to be applied to comics (when it should, of course), then you should read this. Also, the collection includes the Comics Code Authority, and that alone makes it worth reading: "Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with walking dead, torture, vampires and vampirism, ghouls, cannibalism, and werewolfism are prohibited." Weird stuff.
Christa Shermot's 100% Guaranteed How-to Manual For Getting ANYONE to Read Comic Books!!! (Second 2 Some Studios) I really like this book. It's really addressed to people who don't read comics, presenting arguments about why they should (which mainly run along the lines of pointing out that any genre or type of story found in prose fiction, tv or movies can also be found in comics, and done just as well or better), rather than to people who already read comics, but it was fun anyway. And now I have a document to hand to those annoying people who insist that comics are all superheroes and kiddie stuff. The only real drawback is that there is an awful lot of text, and less-patient readers may well be turned off. But I liked it enough to think seriously about tracking down the actual comic that the characters here appear in: Fade from Blue. And the art's good, too.
Jennifer Daydreamer: Oliver (Top Shelf Productions) This is a book that rather disappointed me. I'd heard lots of good things about Jennifer Daydreamer, and was very happy to see this book on the free comics table at one of the three stores I went to. That I was disappointed doesn't mean the book was bad, just that I thought it would be much better. Each "story" really doesn't hold up on its own, though I suspect they aren't meant to. By the end of the book, the whole sequence of stories have added up to a strange surreal whole that is greater than its parts, but it still wasn't as good as I was expecting. Also, the art was mostly pretty bad. That said, there was definitely something interesting going on, and I think Jennifer Daydreamer's work may prove to be worth having a look at from time to time.
Landis #0 (A-Bomb) I picked this book up because it's fantasy. From reading a lot of fantasy fiction, I know there's an awful lot of crap to wade through in order to find the good stuff, but it's worth the effort. Comics, I figure, are probably about the same. Alas, this isn't "good stuff." To be fair, it's a 0 issue, rather than part of the ongoing series, so it isn't so much a story as a here's-some-background-for-new-readers sort of thing. Even at that, it really doesn't work all that well. The art is quite uneven (and generally not all that good), and the characters really don't catch my interest (partly a fault of this being a non-story issue). Essentially, even with my soft spot for tough women wielding swords, there is nothing about this issue that makes me want to read the title.
And that's enough for now. I have to go cook some food and get back to reading Half Magic.
17 May 2003
But, anyway. I convinced my sister (who reads comics every now and then), my nephew (who is into gaming and miniatures, but not comics so much) and my niece (who doens't read comics at all, but likes anime) to come along. My niece also brought her friend. So there we were, two just-over-thirty women, a thirteen-almost-fourteen-year-old boy, and two seven-almost-eight-year-old girls in the wilds of comic book land. Of course I wanted them to come so they could become junkies like me, but I had an ulterior motive -- if they didn't choose their quota, I could make them pick up free stuff for me.
Three comic stores in the same block (two right next door to each other) and three free books a person. Nine books, right? Due to my clever planning, I came home with thirteen. There were still a few more I would happily have taken. But I was happy. Thirteen free books, and I managed to only spend $20 on non-free stuff. A very good day.
So here are my thoughts on the books I got. Keep in mind that these are quick judgements, based on a single reading of a single issue or excerpt in an anthology. So. I probably won't get through them all today, so I'll start with my favourites. Or, rather, I'll leave my least favourites till last (meaning these aren't in strict most-to-least fave order).
Skinwalker #1 of 4 (Oni Press) I'm kind of a Tony Hillerman mystery junkie, so a comic about a Navaho polic officer and an FBI agent investigating murders sounded pretty appealing. I was a bit worried that it would be a Hillerman rip-off, though. Anyway, I liked this one enough that I'll be looking for the collected TPB. It was similar to Hillerman's books to the extent that a detective story in Navaho country with a Navaho police officer as one of the main characters and a plot involving skinwalking is bound to be. Phew. That was quite a sentence. The art's pretty good, though it's all in shades of grey, and often quite dark, which gives it a bit of a . . . I can't think of a suitable adjective, but it is very, very grey. The Navaho characters look Navaho, though, which is a big plus. Good stuff.
Way of the Rat #1 (Crossgen) I think I've said elsewhere that I've pretty much been avoiding Crossgen's books because they look at first glance like Image clones with their bright computer colouring and all. As often happens when I make some sweeping, opinionated statement like that, I have to admit I was at least partly wrong. Somewhere in a previous post I mentioned Brath, and how it was actually pretty good. Well, Way of the Rat is, too. It's kind of like a Chinese action movie in comic form, which is actually pretty cool. The art is a bit uneven, but mostly good, and the characters look Chinese. And the women are actually wearing clothes! The story is fun, too, though it's hard to say how well it succeeds from only one issue. I suspect I may pick this up now and then, or maybe wait for a TPB. I mean, it's got a talking monkey.
Whether I will have to continue to revise my opinion of Crossgen books remains to be seen, but I'll certainly be more open-minded from now on. Maybe I'll go check out the free comics on their website.
Also, I didn't mean to imply that all Image books are bad, just that I'm not the least bit interested in most of them. I do read some of the creator-owned titles they publish (yay, A Distant Soil) and I like Aria (I'm a sucker for fairies), but most of the titles make me want to move to the other side of the store rather than pick them up and read them. (There's another sweeping, opinionated statement waiting to be revised -- somebody feel free to prove me wrong) (I know, send me lots of free Image comics to read and maybe I'll change my mind).
Leave It To Chance (Image) What was that I was saying about being proved wrong? Well, this book doesn't, quite, but I did enjoy it. I think it's from last year, and I have no idea what issue # it is -- somewhere in the middle, I'm guessing. This book didn't really blow me away or anything, but it's nice to see an all-ages title that has a fun fantasy story and a tough girl main character (that is, a girl who is wearing normal clothes and doesn't have her boobs popping out). I suggested my niece pick this one up, but I don't know if she's read it yet, so I can't tell you what she thought. The story is almost self-contained, so it was a good choice for a free issue. I probably won't rush out and buy it, but I did request one of the TPBs through the public library so I can form a better judgement.
Anyway, this is becoming a very long post, so I'll leave it at that for now. More later.
16 May 2003
I've been meaning to babble about the comics I picked up at free comic book day, but I haven't quite got to it yet. Maybe I will later this evening, or maybe on Saturday when I never manage to get any real work done no matter how good my intentions.