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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Stinz - From 2000

Stinz is original. Original means "the first", not imitative, new, inventive, creative. Donna Barr.

That does not mean this comic book or anything praised as original is exceptionally good or bad. It does mean that you will either love or hate Stinz.

I am in love.

It was love at first sight because cartoonist Donna Barr's art is unique. Technically flawless, its heavy line and contrasting blocks of black and white are reminiscent of woodcuts or the work of H.G. Peters, the first artist on the comic book Wonder Woman. It is reminiscent, not imitative, because Barr's work has something these predecessors sometimes lacked, an energy that leaps off the pages.

Love deepened as Stinz and I got to know one another. Barr's dialog is natural but spattered with German phrases that require a bit of interpretation. Translations are always provided. Her characters are wonderfully developed and believable despite the fact that the majority of their bodies belong bolted on a carousal. In addition, Barr has the ability to transform mundane events into fascinating drama and humor.

So, what is this Stinz comic book all about already!? It is about half-men and half-horses, and a man-faced horse. It is about German centaurs that were mutated after a nuclear war, other mutated beings that fit no mythological pattern, and the non-mutated people who live among them.

This particular issue has a deceptively simple plot, the ramifications of a found machine gun.

Now you know I was horsing around, and why Stinz is original and good.

Neigh, excellent.

Stinz #8 is highly recommended. You must also buy: Horsebrush and Other Tales, Charger, The Ninjery, Family Values, Old Man Out, The Bob War, Bum Steer, A Stranger To Our Kind, A Marvelous Resistance and A Dog's Life.

Review by Michael Vance

Stinz #8 is priced at $6.00 and is 64 pages. Published by Fine Line Press and sold in comics shops, over the internet and by mail.

Starman - From 2000

Some stories are so good, it's hard to read just one 32-page pamphlet at a time. Such is the case with D.C. Comics' Starman.

Chances are, once you sit down to read "Sins of the Father," the first trade paperback (a collection of past issues), you will want to continue with "Night and Day," "A Wicked Inclination," and "Times Past," the only four t.p.'s published at this time.

Jack Knight is the son of scientist Ted Knight, the original Starman of W.W.II. He loves old things; antiques, old movies, old magazines, you name it. The only old things Jack doesn't like are the stories of his father's adventures as a costumed hero. He scoffs at the thought of grown men running around in brightly-colored spandex costumes, and finds it laughable that his older brother chose to follow in their father's footsteps as the next Starman.

He continues to ridicule and chide, until his brother is struck down and killed by a sniper's bullet. Now, pursued by his brother's murderer, who seeks to acquire the cosmic rod, the creation which allowed Ted Knight to become Starman, Jack is thrust into the role he once found such a joke; he is the new Starman.

Despite the premise, Starman is not your basic super hero comic. The fact that Jack Knight despises the spandex scene, and decides to take up his father's mantle on his own terms is a big part of what makes this title so entertaining. From my own experience talking to readers, it's possible that this book appeals as much to fans of alternative comic books as it does to hard core superhero readers.

Writer James Robinson uses great characterization to draw the reader in, and penciler Tony Harris mesmerizes same reader with one of the most aesthetically pleasing art styles in comics today; expressive, yet highly stylized.


Published by D.C. Comics, 152 pages, $12.95.

Review by Mark Allen

Spyboy - From 2000

Spyboy's Peter David has a reputation for puns. As his newest boy slams a bully's head against a toilet, Alex yells "Here! Lemme crown you with the throne!"

Did I mention they are bad puns?

Peter David also has a reputation for tightly scripted romps that leave his readers wanting more. Spyboy is more.

Alex is Spyboy, and a teenager brutalized by his schoolmates. Only his imagination saves his sanity during ugly situations. Much more you won't learn from the first issue.

The first issue of a new comic book series is always tricky. There usually isn't enough room to offer detailed plot and character development, but most comics fans only give a creative team one of two issues to build an audience. So a taste of things to come must really whet the appetite.

Spyboy is whet and wild. (See, Peter, I can also do it.)

Some excellent art, heavily influenced by Japanese manga (big shoes, shocks of tousled hair and huge eyes), adds just the right visual spice as well.

What more can I say?

Buy it.

Review by Michael Vance