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Cul de Sac: This Exit

Cul de Sac: This Exit

Cul de Sac: This Exit Richard Thompson (http://www.andrewsmcmeel.com/press_releases/culdesac.html)

When you have children, a little insanity goes a long way in keeping you sane. This might sound bizarre but the truth is that children have a way of making adults look at the world through the eyes of their innocence... which in turn reveals just how insane "life" truly is.

If Richard Thompson doesn't have kids, then he's definitely around a lot of them because the antics portrayed in Cul de Sac are dead on. In the same manner that Bill Waterson's Calvin was a little boy with a very grown-up logical mind, so too do Alice and her peers question the world around them in a way that makes adults think... and laugh at the insanity.

Although the art made it a little difficult to get right into the book, it eventually did grow on me due to the way those simple scribbles were full to bursting with emotion and expression. And the characters? Priceless! For example, I loved how Alice would never accept her Father's absurd answers to any of her questions, because she preferred her brother Petey's even more absurd ones! It does not take long to get to know the characters and you quickly start looking forward to the next Mr. Danders strip, or seeing more of how Alice's preschool classmates deal with their daily routines.

This collection did not have many laugh-out-loud moments, but there were plenty of snickers along the way. I did not know of this cartoon strip prior to this book but I do look forward to reading further adventures.

Magasin General: Marie

Magasin General

Magasin General: Marie Régis Loisel & Jean-Louis Tripp (http://bd.casterman.com/isbn/2-203-37011-4)

This is the kind of book that the regular North-American comics-reading audience is probably not used to. It is, however, the kind of tale that the BD (Bandes Desinees) reading audience is familiar with. It really makes me glad to be trilingual!

Marie is a widow who finds herself responsible for the General Store in a very small rural village of Quebec (Notre-Dame-des-Lacs). We watch as she attempts to pick up the pieces of her life after her husband dies and she's forced to take the lead in continuing to be the town's link to the bigger city. She seems to possess the only car in the village and takes her responsibility to heart as the demands of everyone begin to consume all her time. But, she doesn't seem to mind as it gives her purpose and she is the kind of person who wants to help.

I don't know how many people can relate to Marie's tale (be it directly or becomes of some still-living relatives) but considering the push of the local press when it was released, there is no doubt that are plenty of us out there.

It is a beautiful book both in execution and in context with characters (and a whole village, actually!) that come alive and become as real as the people you meet every day. It is a very moving tale of human nature, perseverance, and the ability to come together in difficult times.

Régis Loisel & Jean-Louis Tripp have created a truly wonderful book and I very much look forward to the subsequent volumes.



Ragmop by Rob Walton (http://planetlucypress.blogspot.com/)

When you spend $25 on a book, graphic novel compilation or not, you want to feel that you get your money's worth. In the case of Ragmop, it's definitely money well-spent and more!

There's nothing I love better than a zany romp through the Universe where everything and anything is questioned and poked fun at. And when even the most absurd accusations can ring frighteningly true (New World Order, anyone?) then you know that there's a lot more than just satire at work here, there's intelligence. Add in a slew of nods and winks at the animated hijinks of my youth (be it a Bugs/ Daffy joke or the idea of The Enterpise taking shore leave at a Starbucks planet) and the guffaws keep coming!

This book is just so much fun on so many levels that some might miss the fact that everything questioned in done because Rob truly cares about the answers, even while pointing out the absurdity of it all!

I loved the story, I loved the art, I loved the zaniness (and especially teh dinosaurs!)... I just really loved the book!

A hearty congratulations to Rob Walton for finishing this incredible tale!

Pride of Baghdad

Pride of Baghdad

Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan & Niko Henrichon (http://www.vertigocomics.com)

Very powerful... and extremely heartbreaking.

For someone like me, having grown up on animated movies featuring intelligent animals, it is not at all difficult to quickly find myself feeling quite fond of this very small pride of lions who, after having been accidentally freed from their zoo by a bombing raid, attempt to survive in a city at war.

Writer Brian K. Vaughan, winner of the 2005 Joe Shuster Awards International Creator Award, takes the real-life events of lions freed during the 2003 bombing of Iraq and weaves an incredible tale of survival and tragedy, creating a moving and solid story that eventually leads this pride to their encounter with American troops.

Artist Niko Henrichon does an excellent job of rendering this story and making it come alive with sympathetic and recognizable characters fighting their way through a world very alien to them and unfortunately familiar to us. The reader is brought right into their lives with this stunning artwork.

Very highly recommended!

Quick Hits

It's been a while since I've done this, but sometimes it's the easiest way to do it :) A couple of books which I've simply got a few quick comments on:

Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #6: I'm still enjoying this book and I can't really tell you why! Maybe it's because I'm seeing some sense of redemption in the characters (little though they may be) or maybe because I'm just too big a fan of the F.F. and make large allowances... :) At any rate, I'm glad The Red Bee wasn't killed off in one panel (like pretty much every silver-age and forward appearance of the original!) but then again, The Invisible Hood took that spot this issue. (shrug). It's like watching a car wreck!

Supergirl #13: It looks pretty, but there doesn't seem to be much substance to this book. Is it trying to find its legs or is it becoming a stereotypical "bubble-head blonde" itself? I'm not sure. But damn does it make me miss the Peter David Supergirl of years gone by...

Justice #9: Oooo pretty! I think this issue was worth it just for that Superman/ Shazam pinup recreating the cover of that 70's tabloid edition crossover... :)

JSA Classified #20: Disturbing on SO many levels. Ever since that darn Crisis, everything's become a "how do we get more evil!" it seems. Petty criminals dissecting second-rate heroes in an effort to transplant their powers when possible? Oh man...

Justice League of America #5: I still don't get Solomon Grundy looking like Tombstone and acting like Vandal Savage...

Daredevil #92: The true mastermind comes forth! And not what I expected! Oooo!

Detective Comics #827: Oh yeah. Very entertaining. I'm just loving Dini's work on this book!

Batman #661: This, on the other hand, is very disappointing. I'm normally a big fan of Ostrander's work but this current Batman storyline really just feels like he's going through the motions. No kick. No oomph. Even Mandrake's art is uninspiring. A real let-down...

Vertigo Visions

Vertigo Visions

Vertigo Visions: Ten Years on the Edge (Paperback) by Alisa Kwitney (Author) (http://www.vertigocomics.com)

This is one of those books that falls under the "Hmm" category. If you're looking for samples of what Vertigo had done in its first 10 years, this was not the place to be. If, however, you're looking to understand just what they did publish in those 10 years, with perhaps a hint of what those books were, then you can flip through this book and take a visual gander at the covers of books that helped make Vertigo into more than just another line-within-a-line.

As a reference book, it's not very solid. As a comic sampler... well, it just isn't. This is more of a celebratory book which attempts to briefly summarize the top books of its time along with the artists/ painters that made them great. If you want to actually see or learn more about those books... you'll have to pick them up.

For me, having been a Vertigo reader from when it first started, it was more of a nostalgic look at some great books I enjoyed and in some cases (Animal Man, Vamps), miss. In others, it was an acknowledgement of books that really helped start a "new" ideal of adult-themed books (Swamp Thing, Sandman) that helped show the progression of the line.

This is a book for "core" fans of Vertigo. Not something one would browse/ pick up off the shelf.

Back Issue

Back Issue

Back Issue! #19 edited by Michael Eury (http://www.twomorrows.com)

My buddy Jay Willson has been recommending this magazine to me for as long as I can remember. When he informed me that he would have an article in the Don Newton tribute issue, I decided to finally seek it out. I'm glad I did. I guess I hadn't realized just how much I loved Don's stuff back when I was young and seeing it for the first time.

Along with Jay's personal notes on Don, whose friendship and stories are known to me, it was nice to read all those other rememberances of Don along with his professional career track. Not only that, but all those other articles on the various creators (Gruenwald, Gerber, etc), books (Howard the Duck, The Defenders, etc), and events (the She-Hulk movie that never was!) brought me right back to that time and place that cemented my love of the medium strong enough to withstand the cynicism and speculative crap that followed the anti-hero explosion. I was a young teen, back in my parents house, reading through a pile of comics on my bed at a time when each comic was a treasure and I literally felt like Scrooge McDuck in my "vault"

Another important aspect that I loved about this issue was that reading it actually felt like I was reading an issue of Comicopia. The same love of the medium, sharing of stories, and discussion of books that we do in our humble little Apa was what I was experiencing in Back Issue! The $9 I spent was well-worth the 3 hours of reading and the nostalgic trip to a time that was a lot more magical than the Civil Crisis of today.

It seems to me that there is going to be a change to my LCS reserve list soon... Yes, I liked it THAT much! :)

100 in 100 over!

Well then! 100 reviews in 100 days is now complete! Just in time for me to take a small vacation! :) Thanks to all who've been reading! I will continue to post up reviews every now and again (as I'm obviously still continuing to read!) but it's not going to be as rigorous as it has been for the last 100 days!! :)

Mission Accomplished!! :)

The Babysitters Club

Babysitters Club

#100) Ann M. Martin's The Babysitters Club by Raina Telgemeier (http://www.goraina.com)

I first learned of Raina through a drawing of hers posted on the Lifemeter Comic Livejournal. It was an adapted scene from the game Animal Crossing. Being that it was the only game I had ever played on GameCube, I got to discussing it with her. From there, I found her Livejournal and easily enough, her web site, web comics and then mini comics.

I quickly became a fan of her work. The stories were great little slices of life and her artwork hit home on a nostalgic front as it brought memories of the Schoolhouse Rocks cartoons that I loved so much growing up :) (the same clean/ clear lines, and "fun" cartoony aspects for exaggarated expresions)

When I heard she was going to be adapting The Babysitters Club books, I became quite excited. I thought it would be a great entry for my daughter, Melyssa, to finally catch the reading bug. I had never read any of the novels, so the graphic adaptations were my first exposure to them. I must admit to having really enjoyed the stories, the characters, and Raina's artwork. And I was right. My daughter immediately fell in love with the book and actually drew her first piece of fan art the moment she had finished reading it :)

The second graphic adaptation has recently been released and it continues the story of the girls by giving us more background on one of them as well as introducing us to a rival Babysitting Agency. I appreciated the moral story of this one, although I enjoyed the first one a lot more. Still, as long as they keep publishing them, I'll keep picking them up. Besides the fact that the hardcovers look really nice on a bookshelf, my daughter adores them and looks forward to each new book. For me, that is the ultimate winning series :)

Highly recommended!

Babysitters Club



#99) Peanuts Archives by Charles M. Schulz (http://www.unitedmedia.com/comics/peanuts/) (http://www.fantagraphics.com/)

Growing up, I can't really recall NOT having a copy of a Peanuts collection in my possession. Especially in the sixth grade, I would go hunting for them everywhere I could because I could not get enough of them. And whenever I got my hands on one where the "gang" looked completely different and I knew it was from the "early" years, I would be thrilled.

You can imagine my thrill when I found out that Fantagraphics would be presenting ALL the Peanuts strips, in order, in Hardcover format!

After all these years, they are still hysterical. The strips aren't always laugh-out-loud funny, but as the characters "grew" throughout the different volumes, they have become funnier. Snoopy, for example, cracked me up as his personality exploded and he became the loveable pup we all know "today"

I can't get enough of them, and now, neither can my kids :) I'm glad there are many, many, more volumes to come!