Monday, March 29, 2004

Let’s Get To Reviewing, Shall We?

Lots of stuff crashing through my mailboxes lately, so, let’s get cracking:

  • 3 CAR PILEUP #1 and #2, written and drawn by various folks. Available from Matt Bors.

    This little anthology book is self-published in a sort of newsprint fashion, giving its creators a ray of hope in actually maybe making some money. Of course, that always depends on the contents in the long run, and surprisingly, there is some decent stuff here. Bors’ story in issue one, “Two’s Company” has decent promise until he decides to throw in an unnecessary trick ending, but his effort in issue two, “Just Another Coming Of Age Story” wouldn’t have felt out of place in NEGATIVE BURN or DIGITAL WEBBING. And Dan Custer’s “Bulimic Consumer” shows real signs of promise. Custer has a strong voice, and if he can develop his art, he’ll be heard from again. Unfortunately, those make a poor effort like Ed Waard and Brian Koschak’s “The Harvest” stand out even more in the most negative way possible. Still, they’re trying, and there isn’t a cape in sight. Grade: B-

  • CINTARA #1, written by JAYMES and drawn by Steven Henry. Brought to you by the crew at Femme Fatale Studios.

    I have no idea what to make of this book.

    My first thought is that these guys are gonna lose their asses. This book is not going to get enough orders to make the color printing worth it. That is, of course, unless one of them is either sleeping with a printer or is a printer. Fellas, save the Photoshop effects and the color for the covers and go grayscale on the interiors. Or you won’t survive past issue one.

    Part of their trouble also stems from the contents. Officer Cindy Tara, who will (in a later issue, I presume) become the titular heroine who looks like a sort of deranged cyborg on the cover, is a pretty flat character. In introducing her, we see that she loves her kid, but then we see nothing else but a belligerent hard ass beyond that. There’s nothing wrong with making your lead character an asshole, but you have to make the character a well-rounded asshole. When Cindy is seriously wounded late in the issue, I found myself wishing that she’d just die, and that someone else would turn out to be the title character. The rest of the ensemble, what there is of it, is pretty much basic stock from central casting. Sexist partner. Perfect child. Sinister doctor. Sadly, I found myself hoping for a wise and calm Asian man, but it never happened. There’s always next issue, though.

    The art is really the high point, as it isn’t half bad. There’s an over-reliance on color and effect, and it’s another case of American semi-manga, but for that, it manages to be decent. And for a studio that calls itself “Femme Fatale” there’s a surprising lack of cheesecake; that’s excepting the cover, of course, where Cintara seems to be attempting to stab someone while in Second Position. The artist must also be a fan of Evan Dorkin (and who can blame him), because the serial killer Cindy is tracking bears an amusing resemblance to the way Dorkin draws the Murder Family.

    CINTARA just feels like too much of an early mess to work. The front cover says it’s number one of six issues. There’s plenty of room and need for improvement in the next five. Grade: C-

  • SLEEPING BEAUTY, written and drawn by John Cei Douglas. Available only online at the creator’s website.

    Douglas’ story is a sweet and quiet tale of love and loss, aiming to hit the heartstrings a bit more subtly than most do. Probably because he’s British. Either way, this is a charming little book that injects some real life and emotion into its nameless couple. They each do well in recalling the small and powerful moments in their relationship, even as they deny a strong urge to rekindle it. Part of what makes the book work is that Douglas never really gives a full accounting of what went wrong in the pairing. Artistically, Douglas is somewhat weak, but his inconsistent anatomy lends a sort of emotional roughness to the story’s proceedings. When I first read this book, I really didn’t care for it. Upon further reviews, it made me want to buy a Polaroid camera. Grade: B+

That’s all for today. I’ll be back soon with reviews and more!

Review materials may be sent to: Marc Mason, P.O. Box 26732, Tempe, AZ, 85285. You may also write me at: