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Friday, July 06, 2007

Dan Jurgens is some kind of prophet...

Ok, maybe not a prophet, but I've spotted something truly eerie in Superman/Doomsday, a trade paperback purchased this week at Waldenbooks, located within the shopping mall of Victoria, Texas. Having looked for this book for quite some time, I snapped up the only copy they had, the nearly-telephone-book-thick volume being a bargain at $20.00.

The strange sight occurs in the opening pages of the first story within the tome, Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey, originally published in a prestige format miniseries in 1994. This was long before the television show Smallville hit the airwaves. What's that got to do with anything, you ask? I'll show you.




IT'S TOM WELLING! Do you see it? TELL me you see it! To my eyes, this is how Welling would be drawn as a young boy. Compare it with this picture of Welling.

Like I said, eerie.

Anyhow, while at Waldenbooks, I also spotted a young teenager in the Manga isle (My wife pointed out that he was using it as a library). I asked him if he bought his Manga at the bookstore or a comics shop. "Bookstore" he replied. What's interesting is that, not long ago, I also spied a young lady reading Manga at Barnes and Noble in Amarillo. I think she was reading something called "Going Steady" or "Breaking Up." Something like that. Regardless, she indicated that she also bought at bookstores rather than specialty shops. Just interesting, that's all. I hope I don't come off creepy, however, when I start asking teenagers questions like, "So, where do you buy YOUR comics?"

And, speaking of Victoria, I'll go ahead and plug CS Comics. I went in on Thursday, not expecting to spend much money. Long story short, the Wal-Mart principle kicked in and I came out with MUCH more than I planned. Various material related to Marvel's "World War Hulk" and "Civil War", as well as DC's "Countdown" proved impossible to resist. As if that weren't enough, also available was some incredibly affordable Silver- and Bronze-Age material from both Marvel and DC. Let it suffice to say that I'm glad I have such a loving and understanding wife.

The service at CS Comics was also very good. Just be prepared to pay in cash or plastic, as I was told they don't accept checks. From the conversations I overheard, it sounds like a family business, with all members taking a part in it's running. Neat place.

Regards from Serbia/$19.95 and 287 pages from Top Shelf - art and story by Aleksandar Zograf

What can possibly recommend a crudely drawn, sometimes plodding, email laden, autobiographical account of the war in Serbia in the 1990s? It is a question that took some careful thought to answer.

My first answer is that reading Regards from Serbia requires thought. I like challenging work and that this collection focuses on the human response to the situation instead of the political or theological aspects of war. It is also obvious that the author loves people. I like people whose priority is people. In addition, an extensive section of emails that was sent by Zograf during the conflict were at first boring because of the repetition of events. But that very repetition eventually revealed the grinding hopelessness in a war zone.

The second answer is that Zograf’s unpolished art is nevertheless distinctive, and the artist shies away from visually sensationalizing death. No gore. I like no gore. I do wish, however, that he would improve his lettering. It is so sloppy that it draws attention to itself and away from the art.

His art relies on thick lines and well-placed, heavy areas of black to convey a sense of despair and anguish. Heavily influenced by underground/alternative comic books, it reminds me of woodcuts. Don’t expect realistically drawn anatomy or settings.

An additional answer is that Regards from Serbia is recommended for adult readers for all of the right reasons. No lascivious sex and violence here, no profanity. Zograf is a sincere artist struggling with serious adult issues in a broken world.

Most telling is his answer for why he just didn’t leave Serbia during the war. Everyone he loved was there. I think I’d really like to get to know this Serbian guy.

Michael Vance