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David Hines [userpic]

a couple of quick comic reviews

May 23rd, 2008 (09:50 am)

Got a couple of comics I'd been thinking about -- no, I didn't make the comic store; a couple of trades came to me via the good folks at Amazon.

Jane Irwin's VOGELEIN has a beaut of a premise: a clockwork fairy makes her way through the modern world, with the help of human friends who wind her up. I'd picked up a preview excerpt of the second volume at a con somewhere, and it really worked for me.

Unfortunately, the rest of the book doesn't quite hold up to it. It's quiet, sure, but there's a difference between quiet and not enough happening, and Irwin doesn't do a good job distinguishing between the two. The storytelling is too deconstructed; scenes go on for too long, the scene-setting takes more preeminence than the storytelling. Also, the book suffers from noteitis. There are so many footnotes and behind-the-scenes things in the back that it's just eye-rolling, and you really don't care -- you don't really need to know that all the musicians in an Irish session scene are based on real people. And who they are. And what they do for a living. And from whom they learned. Some scenes have a real charm -- there's a bit with a wild fairy taking milk from an offered bowl that's a delightful page -- but the charm eventually wears a bit thin. Maybe the first volume had a little more oomph to it.

Kazu Kibuishi's DAISY KUTTER: THE LAST TRAIN, by contrast, is endlessly delightful. The pictures do most of the storytelling, and the plot is not complex, but the storytelling is terrific, and the art and characters are just charming. Daisy Kutter lives in the New West, which is an awesome place with trains and high noons and robots and single-action revolvers that fire unlimited amounts of ammunition without reloading -- I mean, it's pretty much *my* ideal place, so I'd get the book for the setting alone. (Think steampunk meets spaghetti western, and you've got it.) But there's also a charming and adventurous heroine, and warm character humor, and scenes where people shoot robots with what looks like a seven-foot-long ten-gauge shotgun, and these things are not bad. There's a lot of behind-the-scenes and tribute art in the back, but unlike Irwin, Kibuishi doesn't over-explain it -- most of it passes without commentary -- and so it works. Daisy Kutter is an ex-outlaw whose ex-partner is now a sheriff, and when she gets hired to pull an outlaw job, wackiness ensues. Definitely check it out. There's a little too much violence and spicy language for me to hand it to a kid, but the kid in me loves it anyway.

Rick Veitch's GREYSHIRT: INDIGO SUNSET. And all I have to say is, HOLY CRAP. If you like mystery/detective comics, buy this. If you like superhero/drama comics, buy this. If you like comics books, just go buy it, and thank me later. GREYSHIRT first saw life in Alan Moore's TOMORROW STORIES, which just contained endlessly wonderful and entertaining Eisner-esque adventures. I saw this, got it on a whim, and I don't think I've enjoyed such a stimulating, entertaining, beautifully constructed ride in years. You don't have to know anything about Greyshirt to pick up the trade. In fact, I couldn't think of a better introduction.


Posted by: 3fgburner (3fgburner)
Posted at: May 23rd, 2008 03:19 pm (UTC)

Your contrast between Vogelein and Daisy Cutter brings up an interesting point. Irwin obviously hasn't figured out that tribute art, redshirting, and whatnot are supposed to be in-jokes. For instance, I found myself on a patrol boat in Tom Kratman's Carnifex. When I realized that the entire crew was composed of Baen fen, I knew that Something Bad was going to happen to that boat.

People who need footnotes won't get the joke anyway. Ergo, footnotes not needed. A glossary at the back may prove helpful to some, but that doesn't drag your brain out of the book to go look it up.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: May 28th, 2008 02:42 pm (UTC)

Well, in fairness, they're endnotes rather than footnotes, but I think you're right: she's so anxious to be nice to her friends that the work suffers a little because of it.

...perhaps this explains why authors from Ringo to Kratman to David Gerrold kill characters named for friends and fans in truly horrible ways. "I'm not falling into *that* trap, dammit!"

Posted by: 3fgburner (3fgburner)
Posted at: May 28th, 2008 02:59 pm (UTC)

I'll be interested to see in which Ringoverse I'm going to die, for the T-shirt. In "Looking Glass", someone with my name was in a National Guard unit when Central Florida blew up. I'm not sure if "I" got blown up by a Dreen rhino-tank, or not. The snowed-in SheVaCon that got eaten by a demon in Princess, was before my first one.

Posted by: vogelein (vogelein)
Posted at: June 2nd, 2008 05:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the review!

Fair play, and I'd say your review is pretty spot-on; sometimes I get way talkier than I need to. I tend to see my footnotes as "DVD Extras"; I put them in there, and you can read them or skip them as you see fit.

And good point about the storytelling -- I'm still learning pacing as I go -- it's great to hear feedback about what works and what doesn't. Thanks!

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: June 3rd, 2008 01:37 am (UTC)
Re: Thanks for the review!

Wow, that's a surprise! Thanks for stopping in.

The first VOGELEIN is on my to-get pile; as I said, the gimmick is just beautiful, so I'd like to see an installment that fires on all cylinders.

(And for the record, I'm enjoying CLOCKWORK GAME.)

Edited at 2008-06-03 01:39 am (UTC)

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: June 3rd, 2008 02:07 am (UTC)
Re: Thanks for the review!

Right on! As for the visit, I find that I learn much more about my craft from the honest critiques than the praise. Plus, I don't have a formal editor or anything, so reader responses are very useful. Thanks again!

Posted by: vogelein (vogelein)
Posted at: June 3rd, 2008 02:07 am (UTC)
Re: Thanks for the review!

Right on! As for the visit, I find that I learn much more about my craft from the honest critiques than the praise. Plus, I don't have a formal editor or anything, so reader responses are very useful. Thanks again!

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