Lots of reviews to get to from the NY Comiccon, but let’s start out with one non-con review.
Just received my order, the complete EC Crimesuspenstories from Gemstone publishing, and I have to say… worth the wait. This series was much talked up… all over the web, as being a high point of EC specifically, and comics in general. Couple issues in and it is living up to the hype. A lot of the stories, given the 50+ years of adaptations and reworkings, are going to be familiar to noir fans. Take the first story… MURDER MAY BOOMERANG which has been adapted a couple of times, most notably on the TALES FROM THE CRYPT tv show.
But that said, even knowing the payoff the story still manages to impress and have its own voice; because the writing, surprisingly, is very, very good. I thought the actual story had a sense of cyclical damnation that wasn’t in any of the adaptations I’ve come across.
The stories are sharply written, and get you to endings, both telegraphed and not, with enough style and craft, to make the journey itself a joy.
Onto the reviews of the series thus far:
CRIME SUSPENSTORIES #1 (1950)- Four stories in this first issue. The first, written and drawn by cover artist Johnny Craig, MURDER MAY BOOMERANG is a strong introduction to the series and made a believer out of me. As well as giving me an immediate appreciation for the art of Johnny Craig. In eight pages you get a solid payoff. B+.
DEATH’S DOUBLE-CROSS- Wally Wood art, that I’m not as keen on, and you know where the story is going from panel one, but there’s a vibrant gall in how Albert Feldstein (writer and editor) chooses to end it, that works for me, and gives this old horse of a story… enough legs to cross the finish line. B/B-.
DEATH’S SNAPSHOT-The cover story, is evocatively rendered by Graham Ingels, you see in his line work… artists to come, such as Wrightson and Totleben. The story itself (by Feldstein who scripted all the stories in this issue except MURDER MAY BOOMERANG and HIGH TIDE) is one well known to fans of the genre, but the story manages to generate a real level of intensity despite the familiarity of the subject. Very impressive. B.
HIGH TIDE-Is an amazingly written/narrated piece of craft (I love that first paragraph), that really impresses me, like all of these stories not for its conclusion, as much as its overall structure. Like film noir, the ending is foregone, it is the style in getting to that ending, that makes the film (or in this case comic).
Nicely done, and Harvey Kurtzman who is a triple threat here as writer, penciler and inker, is indisputably effective. B/B+.
Add in a couple text pieces (the good DOUBLE INDEMNITY, and the not so good REWARD)… and you’re getting your money’s worth.
All in all, a book that 5 decades later, reads better than most of the stuff on the stands today, and that is no small feat. And just think, but for the tenacity of two men, Bill Gaines and Russ Cochran all this work would have been lost to future generations. Strongly Recommended. Thanks to the GCD [www.comics.org]for providing detailed info on who wrote, drew, inked, etc.
CRIME SUSPENSTORIES #2 (1950)-A great Johnny Craig cover (I love this cover!), highlights another quartet of criminal comeuppance. DEAD-RINGER-The cover story, opens with a splash page which is among the best I’ve ever seen. I opened the book and was like… “Wow!”. You don’t expect this kind of craft from a 50 year old book, sold for 10cents to kids. Johnny Craig writes and illustrates this eight page marvel, and it’s a page turning treat. B+.
A MOMENT OF MADNESS- Wonderfully illustrated by Gruesome Graham Ingels and scripted by series stalwart and editor Al Feldstein, about a brilliant surgeon who blacks out, and discovers carnage when he awakes. Great stuff in 6 pages. B/B+.
PERFECT MURDER-is a very enjoyable text piece by Feldtein. B+. And I have to say I love Russ Cochran’s letter page…CRIME TIME. Next up is THE CORPSE IN THE CREMATORIUM, another nail-biter dramatically drafted by Johnny Craig about… uh.. the title says it all. Good stuff. B. CONTRACT FOR DEATH-so I’m reading this story, and I know it like the back of my hand because I’ve listened to the audio drama from which it is based, and it’s good if by the numbers, but starts twisting into original territory, until it reaches a very satisfying, and suitably ironic ending. A ghoulish guffaw inducing ending. B/B+. Another great issue of CRIME SUSPENSTORIES.
More Crime Suspenstories reviews in future installments. Now onto what you’ve been waiting for….
NY COMICCON 2007 COMIC BOOK REVIEWS
CITY OF WALLS by Stand Alone Productions- Is my fav discovery of the 2007 NY Comiccon.
I saw these two morose looking gentlemen manning their table at the con (with few exceptions a lot of people at the con, were like that. I don’t know if Sunday was just a rough day or what, or it could be that creative people by definition are not the most social lot, but guys [talking to everyone who goes to the con to sell books] you’re there to sell your books, scowling at potential customers… not the best way to do that), but I’m the sociable hard to deter type, and the cover of the book, CITY OF WALLS grabbed me.
So I dragged a description of the story out of the creative team, and when they saw I was actually buying the book, they got down right affable. : ) They signed and even bagged the book for me.
The gentlemen were writer Shaun Noel and writer/artist Abede Lovelace, and the book… finally read, I have to say… impressed the heck out of me. The story about a self-contained city, is largely setup, and slightly mysterious, but it intrigues me, I like what is there and I’m really interested in learning more.
However, the standout feature of the issue is the visuals. The layout and pencils by Abede Lovelace are innovative, exciting, and experimental… and very, very good. This praise extends to the inking, by Mark Morales, and lettering by Latoya Burns and book design by Antonio Lopez.
The lettering is wonderful, clear and legible and presents ever-changing/fluctuating font styles, and I love the shadows on the word balloons, really helps to keep the look interesting. And finally the whole book, from cover to cover, looks wonderful. The inside cover pages, etc. It is a very pleasing to the eye and well designed book. Keep this team together and I will definitely be looking forward to future issues. STAND ALONE PRODUCTIONS looks to be a creative group to watch.
Now my recommendations to the creative team: Independent companies are a hard sell these days, so my recommendations would be for them:
1/ finish the story arc, even if you have to do it online. Put out the other issues.
2/Do a trade, and put it out through Diamond Comics and the usual channels. If you can’t aford color, may want to consider getting it grayscaled.
3/ Market the book to the book publishers, I think similar to ABADAZAD and TRICKED, collected this book, if it ends as strong as it begins, could do really well in bookstores.
4/ start work on the second story arc.
No, no, please no applause or payment for my unsolicited words of wisdom. But seriously, really glad I stumbled across this book, and hope the creative team keeps at it. I think they have stories worth the telling. B/B+. http://www.lonemanstanding.com
SAND STORM #1-2 by Newave Comics- I’m something of a fan of ancient Egypt, this subset of Nubia, their battles with the Hyksos, their grandeur and their greatness, this rich mythology but rarely touched on. So it was a given… that I would pick up this book.
Written by Keith Lovely, with story and art by Rashida Lewis, it has something to do with a power struggle, and a young woman’s struggle for survival and ascension. It’s a nice production job, full color, cardstock covers, a nice package, However I found the story in the first issue a little hard to follow, as was the art in places. In some places the computer coloring was too dark, or not enough separation/contrast, so sometimes dark brown characters, were lost against dark brown walls.
So a few problems with the first issue, that said I’m very happy to see more books about characters of color, and more creators of color.
Rashida Lewis shows a lot of promise in this initial issue by stepping up and doing, what others just pay lip-service to. So for that, Rashida is to be commended, and I look forward to her art improving by leaps and bounds, and with a stronger, less chaotic script; the story of Anumari should begin to take shape.
That said I’ve just read the 2nd issue written by Eugene Argent, and that is so much better than the 1st issue. “Sir, for my talents- I need only the word… and the word is given.” That rocked, and a lot of lines in this book rock.
However the flow of the story at times is still chaotic. Example, we leave the fight with the princess in mid thought, go to another subplot, and return to her finishing the thought. It’s a distracting, and poor choice for a cut. Also the coloring is still an issue. [though in newave's defense (hold on is the company called New Wave or New Ave, if the former you guys need one more W, cause you're killing my spell checker ) the scans on their site look much better and brighter than the printed version. Which leads me to believe everything is printing darker than they intend it]
Recommendations: Farm out the inking and coloring. A solid inker and colorist , could make a dramatic improvement in the art/storytelling. Ala Laura Depuy.
But recommendations aside, overall a very strong improvement over the first issue. Looking forward to future issues. C-/C. http://www.newavecomics.com
REVOLUTIONARY WARFARE by Alpha Godz Entertainment #1-2- Was one of the first books I picked up at the con.
An anthology book by Christian “Xian Trujillo” Montalvo and Antonio Montvalvo, anthologies are typically a hard sell, because of their hit and miss nature. I like the pieces accredited to Xian Trujillo, and the social conscience of the work, and probably the best thing in issue #1 is a short 3 page story called LOCKED OUT, but the stories do have a tendency to blend into one another. Still, definitely promising work. And these guys have an awesome logo.
INTERNAL FURY #1 by Vexed Comics- Written by Charles Dixon, Drawn by Jason Ross, and Editing/Production Art by De Ettra Wells.
Really great greyscale art highlights this tale of a jailbreak. Jason Ross the illustrator is a talent to watch. I thought the story moved well, however the main character’s monologues/soliloquies to himself just rang as false and forced. When the character wasn’t ranting, the book worked better. Hopefully future issues get better and better. But definitely worth checking out, the visuals by Ross are worth the price of admission.C+.
BRIELLE AND THE HORROR #1 by Loaded Barrel Studios [www.loadedbarrelstudios.com]- This easily has the best production value of any of the books I picked up at the con. Visually it’s incredibly impressive.
A photo-manipulated comic, with the “star” of the book at the con, taking pictures and doing a signing. These guys at LOADED BARREL are marketing the book hard, and they are doing a great job. They have an army of people pushing the book, it is a virtual class on marketing, and making an event happen. Really a high energy group, they and the CRAZEE COMICS guys know how to sell themselves and their books.
Now onto the book itself. It’s frigging impressive. You could put it on the shelves beside most of the output from the big two, and this book, just production wise, will take em. Absolutely gorgeous book, and possibly the future of comics.
That said it’s not without issues. The most glaring being the book visually gets darker and darker, and more muddled looking, until by the end I honestly could not tell you what the heck that is on the last page. Not good. Rule one of story telling, especially visual storytelling… make it clear. Don’t let substance get obscured in style.
Also minor typos, spelling, etc. But those minor issues aside, I really enjoyed the first issue, up until the last couple of muddled pages. Brighten the art up a bit, and these guys have a homerun on their hands.
Well written, strong and realistic dialogue and visuals, great use of lettering sans word balloons… yeah, I’ve seen photo-comics before, but never done so well. Looking forward to future issues. B/B+.
Wanted to give very, very quick shoutouts to the last few discoveries of the con, they are:
UVC #1- I was handed this magazine by the Editor Rich Watson, when we were both bending the ear of Reginald Hudlin.
UVC is a new magazine, published by Ron King it should be on everyone’s radar. Full color, glossy pages, high production values. It covers the world of Black comics, animation, and creators. Think WIZARD if it was good. Loved the first issue, looking forward to more. You can pick up issues at http://www.UVCMag.com.
BKF RAW #0- Is a sketchbook by Infinite Line comics, showcasing the artwork of David Quiles, Daniel Richards, Carlos Montanez. It’s a sketchbook to promote a new series called Bare Knucle Fighting, and mixes a sexy woman with said sexy woman punching people and getting punched. Not my sort of content. Now I try not to be a prude, and I like sexy, beautiful women as much as the next guy.
But I don’t like the idea of anyone hitting a woman, much less a guy punching a woman. That’s just me, I’m a dinosaur, I don’t think the idea of women getting hit in the face is a sport. I don’t watch women’s boxing, just not my thing. And I think the idea of making a bloodied woman look sexy, is perhaps a little disturbing, that maybe our society does enough mixing of sex and violence as it is.
That said there’s good art in this book. But it’s not a subject I’m too interested in seeing more of.
And to go out on a positive note:
SANFORD GREENE DEADLINES SKETCHBOOK- Sanford is a big dude, nice guy, and an amazing artist. There’s definitely an anime vibe in his work, and I’m not a fan of anime, but he also brings a level of detail and weight that goes beyond the anime label.
His sketchbook showcases an artist who can do scenes of near Geoff Darrow complexity. I’d love to see him move further from the anime style, but other than that… he’s definitely an artist to keep an eye out for. http://www.Sanfordgreene.com.
Finally the NY Comiccon Reviews are all in! Thank all of you for your patience. And swing by the links I provided and support these creators.