Saturday, 21 April 2012

Recent Reads

Way back though the mists of time, mere months or weeks before I began working on the Jock, I had the chance to visit the 2000AD office and get some feedback on my work. I'm bloody embarrassed to think what shite I took up there but I'll always be thankful for the time Steve macManus took to sit and talk with me and show me the office.

I mention that as recently I picked up ThrillPower Overloa, the history of 2000Ad (up til about 5 years ago). The books not perfect: a few typos, lack of details about what some series' premises were and ignorant ways of introducing artists in the text. You get lines like "The strip was drawn by Ewins and Dillon", but their first names aren't always included. matters are made worse when Colin McNeil receives a brief write up where some people don't even get full name checks.

However, the book remains on of the most fascinating books on comics that I've ever read. This charts more than just the history of the comic but the editorial, publishing and management issues that have cropped up along the way. Numerous editors, creators and mangement staff all contribute, illuminating the back stage struggles, triumphs, peaks and troughs of the comic. It actually made me want to pick up an issue of 2000Ad again, and as the new Dark Tower book is out this week, maybe I will do just that at the same time...

Talking of literary returns, I sampled the first issue of Brian K Vaughan's new series saga. I was a big fan of Y: The Last man and Ex Machina (still not sure about the finale to that though) and really enjoyed Vaughan's work on Dr Strange and Pride of Baghdad (though surprisingly, I detested everything about his Cyclops mini series drawn by Mark Texeira). Saga is kind of but not quite Romeo and Juliet in space: two people from different planets fall in love amidst a sprawling interplanetary and struggle to raise their newborn child, who narrates the story from years later.

As expected, the dialogue immediately sucks you in and brings the characters alive befire introducing the other elements in the story. There are a few conceptual mistakes: a credit card and a scene where a character is complaining about an app for his PDA phone thingie reflect the current world too much and thow you out of the setting but generally the story cracks along, is unpredictable, intriguing anf portentous.

The art...hmmm. Fiona Staples' cover is gorgeous but I'm less convinced by the interiors: great faces, some stunning pages...but also some slapdash linework that show up the shortcomings of drawing digitally, even though the colours are great. I initially wasn't keen on the art on Y and came to appreciate it by the end so hopefully, something similar will happen here. I rarely buy monthly comics now as I tend to follow artists now rather than characters or series (as they've pretty much been cocked up by marketing/editorial -led distates rather than allowing any creators to have any personal voice) but I will definitely pick up the first trade of Saga and hopes it lives up to the promise shown in the first issue...

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