Thursday, September 29, 2005

Graphic Lit -- 9/25 and more

Time for some more comic reviews. These ran in the Patriot-News on 9/25, 9/4 and 8/28 respectively.

"Bumperboy Loses His Marbles"
by Debbie Huey
AdHouse Books, 96 pages, $7.95.

Even for a kids’ comic, "Bumperboy" is a little too slight for its own good. The title sums it up: Bumperboy loses his marbles on the eve of the big contest. Can he get them back and win the title? Part of the problem is that Bumperboy’s quest doesn’t offer much of a challenge — the marbles are pretty much lying around in various locales. The other problem is Huey’s art just isn’t polished enough at this early stage in her career to convey the sense of whimsy for which she’s reaching. Give her time, though.

"The Long Ride Home: One Step at a Time"
by G.B. Trudeau
Andrews McMeel Publishing, 96 pages, $9.95.

If nothing else, the current political climate has reinvigorated Garry Trudeau’s "Doonesbury," which had been growing a bit stale in recent years. This mini-collection covers the recent strips involving B.D., who lost his leg in Fallujah, and follows him through the healing process to his eventual homecoming. Trudeau deals with the delicate subject matter with humor, sensitivity and compassion for those serving overseas, and reminds you of how good Trudeau, when he wants to, can be.

"Strange Embrace"
by David Hine
Active Images, $14.95.

This "dark" graphic novel, originally serialized in the early 1990s, isn't particularly scary, but it does manage to provide some rather unsettling moments and generate enough suspense for me to recommend it.

The plot involves a young man in early 20th-century England who becomes obsessed with African tribal art and his relationship with his neglected wife and stern father. Lots of ugly family secrets end up being uncovered, with lots of nasty behavior being repaid for. There's also a story-within-the-story involving a nefarious psychic and his young victim, a distracting side note that takes away from the power of the central tale. Still, readers looking for a good gothic thrill would be advised to check this book out.

"Fables Vol. 5: The Mean Seasons"
by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham
Vertigo, $14.99.

It started off somewhat haltingly, but "Fables" has quickly becomeone of Vertigo's most enjoyable ongoing series. Blessed with arather clever premise -- Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf and other fairy tale characters are exiles living in New York, having been forced to flee their fantasy world -- the series builds on that with compelling characters and engrossing storylines.

The latest volume finds Snow White about to give birth to Bigby's (aka the Big Bad Wolf) kids, while Prince Charming takes over as the mayor of the NYC area known as Fabletown. It might not be the best place for newcomers to start, but reading one collection is all it should take to make you a fan of this delightful series.

"Zig Zag No. 1"
by J. Chris Campbell
AdHouse Books, $5.95.

Campbell has a nice blocky, geometric art style that makes this first issue of what will hopefully be a continuing series go down easy. The downside is that the aimlessness of some of the stories, as well as the penchant for random violence, prevent the reader from getting drawn in. The last story, though, is strong enough tomake you want to pick up the next issue.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2005