I'm going to revisit this post and this post for a moment. In the first post, I had poked a little fun at the media's tendency to bestow some kind of "divinity" on President Obama. To wit:
I assumed that they would never do such a thing to Bush (whom most of them CLEARLY hated, and still do), and said so. This prompted a FCC visitor named Patrick to "correct" me with proof to the contrary. Again, the example:
Confronted with the evidence, I humbly declared, "I stand corrected."
Until I found this photo.
Click here to read the story. It deals with Bush's belief that God spoke to him concerning Iraq.
You may be asking "What's the point?" Just this: The photo Patrick submitted (and others like it, I'd wager) were/are meant to make fun of George Bush for his religious beliefs and assertions. Similar photos of Barrack Obama are meant, simply, to put him in a positive light. That's it. Perhaps a small point, but a valid point, nonetheless.
Are you still reading, Patrick?
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
I'm doing something I've never done before, and expect to do more of in the near future; reviewing an online comic.
This particular work is the "baby" of Stamford College student Jason Duckmanton. He set out to produce a final project for one of his classes; what he ended up with is a comic work that actually leaves me wanting more.
The seven-page story, entitled Amnesia, concerns a young man (Jack) who has no memories, but plenty of nightmares. Those nightmares turn out to be real, however, when he discovers that he has been the subject of experimentation in the area of biological weaponry. But, when a mysterious figure shows up to inform him he has outlived his usefulness, Jack chooses "fight" over "flight."
One thing the story possesses in spades is mood. Duckmanton's artwork is eye-catching and dynamic in black and white, and made more so by the black-white-and-red version also included at the site.
A visceral tale told in a very bold style, it shows much promise for the work of someone who is, technically, a beginner. Whatever it may look like on the printed page, it practically leaps off of the computer screen, aptly relaying the intensity of the story to the reader. Some may ask, "Why review such a limited project, the rest of which may never be seen?" Basically, it's good work, and that's what Suspended Animation is about, bringing good comics work to the attention of as many people as possible. And, who knows? With enough word-of-mouth, maybe one day we will see the whole story in print.
For all intents and purposes, Amnesia is an experiment. It was done, ultimately, for college credit. Whatever grade it received from Duckmanton's professor, I give it high marks, and I hope he's able to pitch it (and complete it) successfully to an independent publisher.
Amnesia is recommended for older readers for intense imagery. Find it at http://www.amnesiacomic.4t.com/.
Amnesia, published online by Jason Duckmanton, 7 pages, free.
Review by Mark Allen
(Update: The above location for the strip doesn't work for me anymore, and I'm having trouble getting Amnesia to load at any location indicated by Google. I'd appreciate contact from anyone who finds it online, so that I can post the location here. Thanks. - Mark)
Question: what is an enigma wrapped in newspaper? Here are clues: diners, a mu mu, tiny or giant statues, pop culture, and often unintelligible dialogue. The answer: Zippy, the comic strip by Bill Griffith.
Cartoonist Griffith emerged from the underground comic books of the '60s and '70s characterized by promiscuous sex, drugs, and disrespect for the law and authority. He emerged only far enough to gain syndication in main-stream newspapers; his influences are still evident in his comic strip Zippy.
Zippy is Griffith's observations on societal norms, "pop" culture, politics, and religion as filtered through the eyes of a literally pinheaded, wistfully gentle, usually unemployed man who wanders aimlessly through life.
Yes, Virginia, there are still hippies; they just have different names.
Are they funny observations? No, they are often obscure non-sense. You don't believe? Zippy and friend stand in falling snow.
"Are you prepared for the chill of winter, Zippy?" asks friend.
"Ripstop nylon microfleece!" answers Zippy. "Ripstop nylon microfleece! Ripstop nylon microfleece! Ripstop nylon microfleece!"
"Words won't keep you warm in January, Zip..." adds the friend.
"They will if they're repeated often enough!"
"Bundle up Zippy, the wind is whipping off th' lake."
"Walter Winchell factor!" concludes the pinhead.
But are they interesting? Yes, sometimes.
Is the art funny and engaging? Yes, often like disjointed dreams that leave once scratching a head and looking for an interpretation. Having written that, this reviewer does enjoy Zippy's trips to odd-shaped diners with giant chickens and pigs on their roofs and his insights about comic books and strips that require historical knowledge probably lacking in most casual readers.
So, is this meaningless drivel or the profound observations of a social and political genius? meaningless drivel meaningless drivel meaningless drivel Yes.
Zippy Annual 2002/$19.95 & 127 pgs. from Fantagraphics/available in comics and books stores and at www.fantagraphics.com.
Review by Michael Vance
A simple fisherman from a small Japanese village finds a large yellow jar during his daily fishing excursion. Shocked to discover a beautiful woman named O Haru San in the jar, he learns that she was placed there by her father, to float upon the sea in search of a suitable husband. Coveting the jar, the fisherman claims he found only her, and then seeks to prove to her his worthiness as a husband. She has only one condition he must meet before they marry: he must promise to always be truthful to her. With that, things get interesting.
Not your typical comic book scenario, to be sure. That is, however, part of the charm of The Yellow Jar: Two Tales From Japanese Tradition, a comic work long on title, as well as beauty and individuality.
As both writer and artist of the book, Patrick Atangan has undertaken a unique task; to translate ancient Japanese stories to comic form, beginning with this, volume one. Here's hoping there will be many more.
Atangan's artwork is unlike anything else you will see in comics today, thus, the individuality I spoke of above. This is best stated in the book's introduction, by comic artist P. Craig Russell, that Atangan's work shows influences of "Japanese woodblock prints and European Art Nouveau." For those of us who have not submerged
ourselves in art history quite to the extent of those who have made art their profession, that means this book looks very unusual, and very beautiful. Due to this style, it could be hoped that Atangan will continue to break new ground in comics, as his talent grows with his experience.
The Yellow Jar is one of those works that open up brand new vistas of possibility for the medium of comics. It has the potential to change the expectations of readers, young and old, about what comics can be, and for that, it is highly recommended for everyone.
The Yellow Jar, published by NBM Publishing Inc., 48-page hardcover, $12.95.
Review by Mark Allen
In the glory days of the Roman Empire, Titus Sulla, Roman governor over Pictland, rules with a cruel, hard fist, crucifying those enemies of the state who are unfortunate enough to be captured. For Pict king Bran Mak Morn, however, vengeance is about to be served upon Sulla, with the aid of a most fearful, and unlikely ally. Will his revenge be as "sweet" as he expects?
Robert E. Howard's Worms of The Earth was originally adapted to comic form in 1976 in Marvel's Savage Sword of Conan. The story follows the Pictish king as he seeks to enlist the aid of a race of beings who were once "almost human." This race, having separated themselves from the race of men, are now changed, and feared throughout the land. Adapting the story to comic form was the task of writer Roy Thomas and artists Barry Windsor-Smith and Tim Conrad.
Thomas does an admirable and non-enviable job of fitting such a tale into a 39-page comic story.
While Smith provides the first seven pages of the story's artwork, Conrad produces the overwhelming majority, and for the better. Conrad's Bran appears far more foreboding, formidable, even savage, than Smith's. He is more "in character" with how Robert E. Howard himself described him; a man with "a certain fierce innate vitality, comparable only to that of a wolf or a panther." Conrad's art style also fits the tone of the story very well.
Though highly entertaining, Worms is a dark tale, with dark characters, and not one ray of hope or brightness.
Worms of The Earth is recommended for those who enjoy sword and sorcery tales, Conan, or any work of Robert E. Howard. Due to some adult situations, and the general dark nature of the story, it is not suggested for younger readers.
Find it at comic shops, comic conventions, and online auctions and catalogs.
Worms of The Earth, published by Wandering Star and Cross Plains Comics, 64 pages (8.5 x 11 format), $9.95.
Review by Mark Allen