Archive for May, 2005

Jeff Smith interview (May 2005)

May 27, 2005 | Interviews

Jeff Smith has received critical acclaim and achieved commercial success with his original comic book series, Bone. But the compliments that may have meant the most have been the ones he’s received since the recent release of Bone by Scholastic Books in a colourized version aimed at kids. “At every single signing I’ve been to over the past three months, there’s been a teacher or parent who’s come up to me and said ‘this is my kid who wouldn’t read anything and I gave them your book and now he’s read all your books and he’s reading other things,’” Smith, 45, told Metro in a telephone interview from his office in Columbus, Ohio. “I’ve met seven-year-old little girls who are clutching that giant 1,300-page (Bone: The One Volume Edition) to their chests and I’ll say ‘did you read that whole book?’ and they’ll nod their head and I’ll ask “did you like it?’ and they’ll nod their heads again. “I never expected that.” Smith, one of the featured guests at this weekend’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival on Markham St. (behind Honest Ed’s at Bathurst and Bloor), says he’s excited to be among an impressive and diverse crop of over 200 proudly independent cartoonists attending. “There’s been an amazing amount of energy that’s been put in by indie publishers, self-publishers and the smaller press publishers that are really trying to make a statement with the types of books they present,” Smith says. “These graphic novels by indie people are more like artistic novels. “ As he approaches the anniversary of the completion of his 12-year-long telling of Bone, Smith says he’s proud of what he was able to accomplish as an independent creator. “I feel really good to be able to take the book now that it’s a complete one volume edition and put it on the shelf and say ‘that’s done, now I can do something else,’” he says. The success of Bone hasn’t got him feeling any pressure to repeat that, either. “Bone was Bone. Whatever I do next will be different and if nobody likes it that’s fine and if they do then that’s fine, too,” he says. Ironically, the next project for Smith is working in the mainstream, writing and drawing a Shazam limited series for DC Comics. “I thought it would be fun to try that to see what it was like,” Smith says. “I’m having a lot of fun, but I don’t think I’ll do it again because I prefer working on my own characters. “Although, I have to admit, the nine-year-old in me is having a great time. It’s a great time drawing people flying and crashing through walls.”

Mini Sulk

May 16, 2005 | Comics

Mini Sulk Jeffrey Brown Top Shelf Productions $8 US (Paperback) **** 1/2 (out of five) Jeffrey Brown has got a lot on his mind — and it appears to be leaking out all over his sketchbook. That’s the only logical conclusion for the mishmash of gags and stories he’s assembled in his latest book, Mini Sulk. Ranging from embarrassing childhood memories to delusional fantasies and dirty jokes, Brown departs from his usual touchy-feely, how-does-my-girlfriend-really-feel fare and lets loose by smearing his often-hilarious brain drippings all over the pages of this inexpensive little anthology. With astute and offbeat works like Mini Sulk and his earlier releases — Clumsy, Unlikely and Bighead — Brown has established himself as a top-notch cartoonist whose works should be both eagerly anticipated and savoured.

Ultra: Seven Days

May 16, 2005 | Trades

Ultra: Seven Days The Luna Brothers Image Comics $17.95 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) In seven days the lives of three very special women will be changed forever. One will be rewarded for her hard work, the second will suffer a loss and the third will find true love. Oh, did we mention the women are Cowgirl, Aphrodite and Ultra, three of the most powerful superheroes in the world? In an entertaining pop-culture satire, the Luna Brothers, Joshua and Jonathan, break down some of the awful stereotypes of heroic women in comics in this collection of the eight-issue limited series. Filled with frank dialogue and situations, including a lot of sex chat, Ultra blends all the elements of a great action book with a hint of Sex And The City (with a little of The L Word for good measure). Perhaps the most eye-catching feature of this series is the mock-magazine designs of each issue. From Maxim to Time to Us Weekly and featuring faux see the heroes shilling everything from soft drinks to perfume, the Lunas show a sharp wit for the kind of marketing wet dream a real-life superhero would be.

Flight Vol. 2

May 16, 2005 | Trades

Flight Vol. 2 Image Comics $24.95 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) No capes, no tights, no guns and no egos — Flight is the perfect salve for those caught up in the comic book wars. While the big two companies — Marvel and DC — continue to hold the vast majority of readers for superhero fare, there are still a few havens for original and exceptional material, such as that found in Flight. This vast anthology, collecting 33 short stories over a whopping 431 pages, doesn’t take the usual anti-hero route of telling personal, real-life tales, but instead simply supplies interesting sequentially illustrated stories on a wide variety of themes. From Jake Parker’s The Robot And The Sparrow, a sweet and subtle tale of a most unusual friendship, to The Orange Grove, a look at first love and imagination by Kazu Kibuishi and the touching story Béisbol, a look at a different kind of love by Richard Pose and Israel Sanchez — Flight displays an amazing range of comic book styles and subjects.

Batman: Cover To Cover

May 16, 2005 | Trades

Batman: Cover To Cover DC Comics $55.99 (Hardcover) *** 1/2 (out of five) How Batman has existed for 66 years is a miracle. To flip through the pages of Cover To Cover, an impressive hardcover collection of over 250 memorable images of the Dark Knight, you’re immediately struck by the fact that he’s been killed dozens of times — at least on the cover of his many series. The list of artists represented in the book is a distinguished one — the 1940s covers creator Bob Kane, the 50s by Dick Sprang, Carmine Infantino in the 1960s, Neal Adams in the 70s and Frank Miller in the 80s. The names from the 90s on is a who’s who of modern comics, from Jim Lee and Brain Bolland to Paul Pope and Tim Sale. Before you go see Batman Begins (and we both know if you read this column you’re likely going to see it) Cover To Cover is a great way to reflect on what first grabbed your attention about this character and why he endures — in spite of his many “deaths”.

The Complete Peanuts 1955-56

May 16, 2005 | Trades

The Complete Peanuts 1955-1956 Charles M. Schultz Fantagraphics Books $28.95 US (Hardcover) **** (out of five) Three books down, 22 to go. The Complete Peanuts, the ambitious project to reprint every single strip by the legendary Charles Schultz, continues with this third volume — collecting Jan. 1, 1955 to Dec. 31, 1956. The best part of reading the Complete Peanuts is watching the milestones evolve. This volume see Linus speak for the first time, Snoopy’s first happy dance and good ‘ol Charlie Brown gets his first football pulled out from under him by Lucy. These books, which collects many strips never before reprinted, continues to highlight the wit and skill Schultz brought to his work and remains a must for any avid comic fan.

Night Club #1 (of 4)

May 16, 2005 | Comics

Night Club #1 (of 4) Mike Baron, Mike Norton Image Comics $3.65/$2.95 US **** (out of five) Night Club can be summed up in two words: “Got marrow?” While not a blatantly funny horror book, this tale of four strangers banding together to save Boston from the forces of Satan is certainly witty. From wisecracks like “got marrow?” from the undead to the Morgan Freeman-esque preacher Walter’s “hlyrolr” licence plate, there is a lot of nuance. This first issue drops you right in the middle of the action and then slowly explains itself out. But the lead characters: Annie, Jack, Jerry and especially Walter, are likeable and the quick pace builds you up and leaves you wanting more. Issue #1 of this limited series by writer Mike Baron and artist Mike Norton is a solid debut and Night Club looks to be a memorable mix of smart, funny and creepy.

The OMAC Project #1 (of 6)

May 16, 2005 | Comics

The OMAC Project #1 (of 6) Greg Rucka, Jesus Saiz DC Comics $3.50/$2.50 US **** (out of five) The Blue Beetle is dead and if Maxwell Lord has his way: nobody will know about it — at least until it’s too late. Picking up just moments after the events of Countdown To Infinite Crisis (c’mon, it was only $1 — surely you read it) the nefarious schemes of Lord, the former Justice League member, begin to unfold. Sasha Bordeaux, a former protégé of the Batman now working for Lord’s organization Checkmate, is given the task of hiding the evidence of Beetle’s demise, testing her loyalties to their utmost. Meanwhile, Batman himself is working feverishly on contacting a series of satellites — the purpose of which is unclear, but which may have to do with the ability to defeat his super-powered brethren. Probably the best of the four Infinite Crisis prequels, OMAC is engrossing stuff, courtesy of writer Greg Rucka and artist Jesus Saiz.

Villains United #1 (of 6)

May 16, 2005 | Comics

Villains United #1 (of 6) Gail Simone, Dale Eaglesham DC Comics $3.50/$2.50 US **** (out of five) Who is Mockingbird? That’s the first, but certainly not the last question that will drive you wild after reading the first issue of this Infinite Crisis prequel series. As Lex Luthor continues to recruit member for his Society Of Supervillains — which now includes over 200 of the most deadly members of the DC Universe— the mysterious Mockingbird has assembled a supervillain team, too. They are just six: the Secret Six. And together they have their sights set on thwarting the Society, in the name of … evil? Digging up some underused and previously unappreciated characters like Dr. Psycho and Catman and mixing them in with the big players such as Luthor, Black Adam and Deathstroke, Villains United is one of the edgiest DCU titles in years and promises to be a wild ride, courtesy of writer Gail Simone and Canadian artist Dale Eaglesham.

Day Of Vengeance #1 (of 6)

May 16, 2005 | Comics

Day Of Vengeance #1 (of 6) Bill Willingham, Justiniano DC Comics $3.50/$2.50 US *** 1/2 (out of five) Detective Chimp, Detective Chimp, Detective Chimp! All hell is breaking loose on the magical side of the DC Universe in this Infinite Crisis prequel series and it’s up to a few good sorcerers to save it. With the Spectre, the spirit of vengeance, on the warpath — killing and crippling the most powerful mages in the DCU, the last hope falls to a handful of patrons of The Oblivion Bar, a secret hangout for magic types. Rallying those precious few against the overwhelming might of the Spectre? — none other than Detective Chimp, a terrific-if-obscure character that hasn’t been seen in DC Comics’ pages in years. Writer Bill Willingham and artist Justiniano give readers a fun throwback that looks to be an integral piece to the Infinite puzzle.