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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection First Anniversary

Pictures of the first anniversary of the Toy and Action Figure Museum/Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection will be up in a few days. One of the drawbacks (of which there are few) of living in the panhandle of Oklahoma is that there aren’t any photo development joints around the corner. However, I will say that the celebration went VERY well. Michael Vance estimates 300 to 400 visitors for the day, many of whom spoke in length to him, R.A. Jones and Steve Erwin.

I also want to thank Terry Tidwell and Steve Erwin for their sketches of The Twilight Avenger and Checkmate, respectively. By the way, Terry commented that he hadn’t drawn the Avenger in quite some time. It certainly doesn’t show, if you ask me.

Anderson Psi Division: Shamballa, published in 1991 by 2000 AD Books, 64 pages, $8.95

Levitating nuns? Frogs hatching from meteorites? People attacked on the streets by wild, supernatural animals? What's happening in Mega-City One? It's the job of Psi-Judge Cassandra Anderson to answer that question in a graphic novel entitled Anderson Psi Division: Shamballa.

For those not familiar with the character, Cassandra Anderson comes to readers from the cast of 2000 AD Books' Judge Dredd mythos. It's not a body of work with which I'm overly familiar, but I'm glad I took the time to get to know this particular piece of it.

Written by Alan Grant, Shamballa combines science fiction, high adventure and horror to produce a story as chilling as it is exciting to read. Grant's well-paced storytelling keeps the reader engaged from start to finish. His characterization also hits home, especially where the main character is concerned.

Cassandra seeks to cope with the death of people close to her, a task made all the more difficult considering the tendency of her telepathic abilities to deepen those relationships. Add to these personal struggles the madness going on around her and Anderson becomes an almost classic tragic figure.

As superior as Grant's work is, however, Shamballa is made all the more impressive by the work of artist Arthur Ranson. Ranson has a photorealistic style that is one of the best ever seen in comics or graphic novels. In my opinion, the gentleman's attention to detail, which incorporates very fine line work and amazing textures, can be classified as second-to-none, if such a classification exists. If it doesn't, it should be created just for him.

If there is a drawback to Shamballa, it is that those unfamiliar with the world of Judge Dredd will not have any background on the characters. It's a small fault, however, and won't distract from the story much, if at all.

Anderson Psi Division: Shamballa is highly recommended. Find it at comics shops and online auctions or retailers.

Mark Allen