Thursday, May 10, 2007

Quick looks at random books

A few quick thoughts on some of the stuff I picked up out of the library. I have to admit that some of these are things that I normally would never read, but as I said I'm trying to sample some new things hoping for a surprise and encouraging my library to expand their comics section, so take that into consideration.

THE BIG BOOK OF WAG collects various works by Joe Ollmann from the small-press book WAG that he published from 1991 to 2003, plus a few other short comics. There's quite a variety of stuff, especially compared to the other Ollmann book I read recently. A few things are straight comics, some are illustrated poetry or prose, various other formats. I liked some of it a lot, but other things I couldn't get into and stopped reading after one or two pages. Maybe I'll try again in a week or two.

PECULIA by Richard Sala collects some short stories featuring the character of the title from Sala's EVIL EYE series. I've seen Sala's distinctive style around for years, but can't recall actually reading anything from him before. It's an odd little feature, with an odd sort of dream-logic about a girl in a land of strange creatures, including her super-hero suitor Obscurus, her rival Justine and her butler Ambrose. Cute little quick read, not sure I'd come back for more.

SOUTHLAND TALES - TWO ROADS DIVERGE by Richard Kelly and Brett Weldele is one of several preludes to an upcoming (or already released, I'm not clear on that from a quick web search) movie by Kelly. I remember liking DONNIE DARKO, his movie of a few years back. After reading this, I'm not sure I can recall why. This is some sort of nonsense about a post-nuclear attack America and some unlikely goings-on involving an actor with amnesia and a porn actress. Don't think I'll be watching that movie...

TRANSMETROPOLITAN - TALES OF HUMAN WASTE is a collection of two specials from the Ellis/Robertson series with some text pieces written by Ellis in-character as Spider Jerusalem and drawn by various guest artists, plus a short Christmas story by the regular team. I never quite got the fuss over TRANSMETROPOLITAN, from reading the first book and a few other random bits. But I like a few of the artists in here, so took a look at it. I pretty much gave up on actually reading "Jerusalem's" words about a quarter of the way through. I can never quite figure out how to take it. It's trying hard to be outrageous, but if you take the world presented in the series at face value than it would hardly seem to be outrageous at all in comparison. It's also apparently supposed to be brilliant in the context of the series, but it's not that, neither. A few good pieces of art, in particular David Lloyd's page and Eric Shanower's two-page spread, but I guess most of the pieces require reading the words to appreciate. And that's a price I'm not willing to pay.

THE BLACKBURNE COVENANT collects a four-issue series by Fabian Nicieza and Stefano Raffaele. The art is pretty good, but the story is a pretty bad derivative movie pitch in comics form. It goes into the laughably bad territory with the back-cover blurb comparing it to Umberto Eco, Jorge Luis Borges, JRR Tolkein and JK Rowling. No, really, it does, it's even there on the publisher's website. That's a charming mix of pretentiousness and pandering to the market.

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