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Sunday, April 06, 2008

El Wendigo

(A Suspended Animation "classic" from 1998.)

The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plains, not in my mailbox. The same is true for Spanish comic books. But today was unusual. My mailbox was awash not only with comics from Spain, but with the answer to a question raging among comics fans and professionals: "Is art or words and ideas more important in a comic book?"

Among the wash was El Wendigo, a professional 'fanzine' (magazines produced for people obsessed). This delightful obsession is filled with articles, photographs and artwork about comics and their creators. Oversized compared to most American magazines, and well designed from cover to cover, that 'delightful' remains guesswork unless you can read Spanish.

Frustration at my Spanish illiteracy was compounded because Suspended Animation will soon be added to this magazine, and I won't even be able to read what I write!

Yeah, yeah. I know. Neither can you.

A comic book light bulb (of low wattage) clicked on over my head, illuminating the answer to that question. Another magazine, Hombre Grande increased the wattage. It's the simple, poignant story of a giant washed ashore and discovered by children.

The artwork is stunning. And as is true with a beautiful woman (attracted first by the beauty, one must know more), this beautiful artwork promised more than delivered. The fault lay in me. Comics are stories. I couldn't know more because I couldn't read the story. Art, words and ideas are equally important in comic books and strips.

It's job fulfilled, I clicked off the comics light bulb, went to bed, pulled the cover over my head and cried myself to sleep.

I dreamed of Spanish omelets.

Hombre Grande/40 pgs, from El Wendigo/art and story by David Mazzucchelli. Recommended for interested hombres. For information, send a double stamped, self-addressed envelope to: El Wendigo, Apartado de Correos, 461 Gijon/Asturias, Spain, 8-5351963.

Review by Michael Vance

Vixens Keep

(A Suspended Animation "classic" from 1998.)

"It's a man's world,' is a dictum that Captain Rose will not accept, and a challenge that she cannot refuse." That's good, because she not only doesn't live in man's world, she and her anthropomorphic friends live in the fantasy world of Warthaven.

Captain Rose d'Orr is a talking female fox, and sponsor of a school for female warriors.

Rose and her cast in Vixens Keep grew naturally out of The Society for Creative Anachronism and the primary sport of this fascinating organization, simulated Medieval sword and shield combat. She began as a comic strip for "SCA" newsletters Poking "gentle fun at many...aspects of the SCA." Vixens Keep is an anthology of three stories originally published in 4 or 6 page episodes, and a labor of love.

For those who equate "a labor of love" with "she's got a nice personality," Rose, Alix, Lorelei and Maya have among the most well defined female personalities in comic books, an incredible feat since their creator is a man.


Furthermore, this is much more a story of relationships than of physical combat, and one not scarred by the usual soap opera cliches of steamy, illicit sex, back-stabbing and petty jealousy. Vixen's Keep is a well-crafted, entertaining comic book. It's a shame some hard-core comics fans will ignore it because its funny animal kid stuff.


It's a greater shame that some will also pass it over because the art is, at first, amateurish. Less than half way through this collection, that same art becomes a bit very nice. Many fans of Bone, Uncle Scrooge and "funny" animals will shamelessly enjoy Vixen's Keep.

Vixens Keep/$5.95, 83 pgs., Mu Press/art: Mark Wallace; story: Mark Wallace & M.A. Morgan/available in comics shops and by mail.

Michael Vance