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Friday, April 28, 2006

New Review, Michael Vance's Work In Alter Ego, And O.C.C. Happenings


Avatar: The Last Airbender, published by Tokyopop, 96 pages, $7.99.

In a time long-past, (or perhaps far in the future...?) four civilizations inhabited the known world; The Air Nomads, Earth Kingdom, Fire Nation and Water Tribes, all kept in place by the Avatar, he who had control of all four elements. Now, war rages between the ruthless "fire benders" and the peace-loving "water benders", and only the Avatar can make things right.
But, first, he must be found!

Tokyopop's Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of the few Manga or Manga-influenced projects that have ever sparked any interest in me. Whether it was due to the cover art, or the nifty digest format is unclear, but something made me pick it up and investigate. I liked what I saw. Based on the Nickelodeon animated program, the tale itself is captivating, primarily due to writer Michael Dante DiMartino's charming characters and simple, straightforward, yet intriguing storyline.

Sokka and his sister, Katara (herself an aspiring water bender) are on a fishing trip when an event occurs that both unnerves and offers hope. The siblings' sniping interaction is part of the entertainment, and has an authentic quality, coming from someone who (as a youth minister) has watched quite a few brothers and sisters interact.

The art is by Bryan Konietzko. It's extremely pleasing to the eye, with a "Disney meets Japanese animation" look about it. Lively, colorful, and seemingly made for tales of high-action, as well as fantasy, it does much to bring DiMartino's characters to life.

The best part about this book, however, is that it can be read and enjoyed by all ages. No "mature readers" label necessary, and no chance of most adults feeling like they're reading a "kiddy book". With humor, action, drama and even the sense of something like a sweeping epic, Avatar could appeal to many different fans of fiction, whether comics fans or not. It's recommended for all readers. Find it at comics shops, bookstores, or online auctions.

Mark Allen

Michael Vance and Alter Ego

From the TwoMorrows site:

August 2006 - 100 pages

Alter Ego #61 uncovers FORBIDDEN ADVENTURES, a full-issue, definitive history of the AMERICAN COMICS GROUP (1946 to 1967)—including its roots in the Golden Age Sangor Art Shop and Ned Pine’s STANDARD/NEDOR comics of the 1940s, as researched and written by MICHAEL VANCE! Behind a dynamic new cover by DICK GIORDANO (featuring Black Terror, Fighting Yank, Miss Masque, Hooded Horseman, Spirit of Frankenstein, John Force – Magic Agent, Nemesis, Magicman, and Herbie the Fat Fury!), there’s great ACG & Standard/Nedor art by MORT MESKIN, JERRY ROBINSON, AL WILLIAMSON, FRANK FRAZETTA, KURT SCHAFFENBERGER, CHIC STONE, JOHN BUSCEMA, SHELLY MOLDOFF, PETE COSTANZA, JOHN ROSENBERGER, OGDEN WHITNEY, et al.—plus startling secrets of ACG’s amazing writer/editor RICHARD HUGHES! PLUS: ACG & Marvel artist AL HARTLEY, interviewed by JIM AMASH! FCA (Fawcett Collectors of America) with MARC SWAYZE—MICHAEL T. GILBERT and Mr. Monster’s Comic Crypt—& MORE! Edited by ROY THOMAS.

Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection

From Michael, via email:

Soon, the folks at the museum will be picking up donated shelving from Starbase 21 that will allow us to expand the OCC section for years. On May 12, I'll be carrying down materials that include original art. Here are the artists who will soon be added to the OCC:

Ron Wolfe (wonderful artist who works for the Little Rock, Arkansas newspaper)
John Wooley (writer, novelist, cartoonist, friend!)
Clarence Allen (early editorial cartoonist for Tulsa World and Tribune)
Scott Hamptin (with Archie Goodwin)
Alex Toth (with Goodwin)
Frank Bolle (with E. Nelson Bridwell)
Chan Lowe (editorial cartoonist in Florida)
Bil Mauldin (no original work yet, but working on it)
Kurt Schaffenberger (with E. Nelson)
Steven Phelps (Christian cartoonist)
Neal Adams (no explanation needed!)
and Jaxon Renick (Marvel and DC).

I'll be writing news releases for publicity.

Michael Vance