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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Mike Wieringo: June 24, 1963 - August 12, 2007


I never let being late keep me from doing something that needs done. So, this is my tribute to Mike Wieringo, one of the most talented comics artists of the modern age.

I became familiar with him first from his work on The Flash. He was the "big feet" artist. But, even though he drew speedster-sidekick Impulse with clodhoppers that one would think would impair, rather than promote speed, there was something charming, energetic and fun about his style. As with many other fans, he became a personal favorite.

Recently, I listened to an archived interview with Mike at Fanboy Radio, and actually made a personal connection. See, Mike confessed that as a young man, he spent waaayyy too much on comic books - over a third of what he made as a produce clerk! I had to laugh, because I can relate to that. Throughout many of my teen years, every cent I made mowing lawns, digging ditches, and on some occasions, even running a jackhammer, went to feed my insane four-color addiction. Something to which I'm sure many comics fans can relate. At any rate, discovering we had that in common was kind of cool.

I'm sure I can speak for Michael Vance when I say our thoughts and prayers go out to Mike's family and friends.

Modern Masters Volume Seven: John Byrne, published by TwoMorrows Publishing, 128 pages, $14.95


John Byrne has made quite a name for himself since the early seventies, when he began his career as a comic book artist. He has drawn most of the classic characters of Marvel and D.C. Comics, and helped revive major characters for both companies as well. Interestingly, he has also developed two distinct followings: those who love him and those who love to hate him. Regardless, he has racked up an impressive career which has recently been well-covered in Modern Masters Volume Seven.

Jon B. Cooke and Eric Nolen-Weathington treat readers to a Q&A session with Byrne that is informative, entertaining and substantial, the interview itself being over 80 pages long.

For all intents and purposes, the book covers the entirety of Byrne’s career. However, one of the most interesting things about this book is that it may shed some light on why Byrne is so disliked, almost maniacally, by some fans. In part, this is done with the words of the man himself about his sometimes-brusque personality, as well as the occasionally over-the-top enthusiasm of some of his fans over the years. Personally, the book made me more sympathetic to Byrne, not less. And, for those who may be wondering, I do not, as of this review, have a membership to his site. Though, having enjoyed the book, I suspect I soon may.

Of course, plenty of art work accompanies the interview, including finished and unfinished pieces, as well as previously unpublished work. Lump in an introduction by long-time fan-favorite artist and close friend of Byrne, Walt Simonson, and a 33-page sketchbook following the interview and you have a very interesting volume for comics history buffs, and a dream come true for Byrne fans. I know, because I’m both.

Modern Masters Volume Seven: John Byrne is highly recommended for those two groups of fans. Find it at comics shops, online retailers and auctions and at www.twomorrows.com .

Review by Mark Allen

The Secret History: Book One: Genesis/46 pages and $5.95


As their village is being ravaged by an invading horde of savages, each of four children is given a powerful runestone and one warning by a dying shaman. The power of each stone should never be used at the same time. The consequences of the four children’s immediate dismissal of this warning ripple throughout human history. Such is the premise of The Secret History, a new, seven issue mini-series from Archaia Studios.

The premise and packaging are intriguing, and the second intervention in the first issue by this pack of immortal rune-masters involves Moses and the exodus from Egypt by the Israelites circa 1350 B.C. The pacing is tight and fast, the characters believable and interesting, plot twists abound, and the art is reality-based, distinctive and engrossing. This is an outstanding example of adult graphic fiction.

But nothing is perfect, and there is a serious flaw in The Secret History. If you call a dog a duck, that doesn’t make it a duck, and misinformation can cause serious problems in life. In general, knowledge and understanding of the Bible is already weak, and twisting its history for entertainment, as does The Secret History, can only lead to further confusion and ignorance. Christians will find that aspect of this otherwise excellent new comics title troubling.

Words: Jean-Pierre Pecau; Art: Igor Kordey/sold in comics shops and at www.aspcomics.com.

MINIVIEW: Tales From the Farm: Essex County Vol. 1 [Top Shelf] Brilliantly written and drawn in an unpolished, minimalist style, this issue tells the story of an orphaned boy living on an isolated farm. He self-medicates depression and loneliness with a cape, a domino mask, and a washed-up hockey player. Because of loads of profanity that adds nothing to the story, Tales is regrettably only recommended for adults.

Reviews by Michael Vance

Check out Dreams and Visions #35 for a new Vance short story:
www.bconnex.net/~skysong/dream.htm