Thursday, June 08, 2006


Building the new site wouldn’t be nearly as time consuming if I wasn’t insistent upon getting 139 SIBAM columns transferred over to the new place. Gah.

Written and Edited by Bill Morrison
Published by Fantagraphics

Anyone who’s read me for any length of time knows how I feel about the legendary Dan DeCarlo. To wit: he was one of the first artists whose work I fell in love with, he was an icon, and the opportunity to meet him at San Diego was one of the highlights of any con for me. So I’ve been highly pleased to see such items as the previous compilation of DeCarlo’s single-panel cartoons, to put it mildly. But that collection pales in comparison to this magnificent over-sized hardcover.

Not content merely to display DeCarlo’s art, Morrison provides an excellent and informative biography of the man as well. From his humble beginnings to his wartime service to his lengthy career in comics, it’s all here. Told in simple passages, and illustrated by the work he was doing during the parts of his life Morrison is discussing in each chapter, INNOCENCE AND SEDUCTION paints a portrait of a fascinating man who lived a full, yet somewhat tragic, life. From the highs of his days working with Stan Lee to the lows of losing his court battle against the Archie folks who wouldn’t acknowledge his creation of JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS or their house art style, Morrison puts it all on the page.

However, for my money, nothing tops Morrison’s coverage of how Dan met the love of his life, Josie. They met under simple circumstances; DeCarlo was stationed in Europe during World War Two, and Josie was a gorgeous Frenchwoman brought along as part of a double date scenario. But DeCarlo told a much more fantastic and ludicrous tale of how the two came together. I won’t spoil it, but needless to say, the man was a born raconteur.

But if that doesn’t sell you the book, you need look no further than the amazing amount of classic DeCarlo art in these pages. From early childhood sketches to forgotten comics to his classic work on MILLIE, you can watch his development into one of the giants of the medium. There’s also plenty of work from later in his career here as well, not skimping on how he developed Betty & Veronica into the true icons they are today.

INNOCENCE AND SEDUCTION reminds you more than just a bit of Fantagraphics’ previous hardcover works covering B. Kriegstein. And like those books, I expect this effort to be in strong contention when awards season rolls around next year. Truly a treasure, worthy of a place of honor on any true fan’s shelf.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006


While trying to get the new site together… some efforts from Image Comics.

Written by Jason Rand and Drawn by Juan Ferreyra

A disparate group of people finds their lives turned upside down when a man floats above Times Square and announces that he has arrived to lead Earth to enlightenment in the latest effort from the Valentino-verse. Naturally, a stereotypical military leader decides that talking or exploring is right out and sends in the fighter planes, but beyond that distracting and annoying cliché, the book feels like is has some promise. The Emissary character is still a cipher, but there’s a sincere sense that his presence will call many peoples’ lives and faiths into question, and that usually makes for interesting drama. Rand has a grasp on when to shut up and let Ferreyra’s nicely attractive art take over, but otherwise, his dialogue is pretty mezzo-mezzo. I’d like to see the book get past the stereotypical use of the military leadership, but beyond that, there’s plenty of room for growth here.

Written and Drawn by Frank Cho

Please turn on the Weather Channel… Hell may be freezing over. Two years later, Cho has finally produced a new issue of LIBERTY MEADOWS. Now, as someone who’s been a fan of the book long before it came to Image to roost, I think I have a bit more license to be snippy than most. That aid, I’m still damned pleased to see it return, even if we may not see another one until the day when I can grow a proper beard. However, anyone without a long memory is going to be screwed; the strips in this issue still don’t take the series up to the events in the WEDDING ALBUM issue, which dealt with Brandy’s aborted marriage to Roger. Fortunately, the ones that are here mix Cho’s usual blend of cheesecake and slapstick well, and remind you that he still does his best work in 3-to-4 panel gags instead of regular comics (sorry, SHANNA). I hope that the next one isn’t two years away… Monkey Boy.

Written by Stephen Murphy and Drawn by Mike Hawthorne

The first chapter of this mystery is an absolutely terrific gut-punch. Set in Iceland in 1999, we are introduced to young forensics investigator Askja Thorasdottir. She’s raw, inexperienced… and has to take psych meds in order to do many of the aspects of her job. But her need for those drugs is about to go through the roof when a dead body is found in a cave beneath a glacier. What appears to be an interesting find of a Neanderthal skeleton turns into so much more; the Neanderthal was wearing a sweater made by Benetton, and had been shot by a classic Soviet pistol. While dealing with the attraction between her and the woman who gets assigned the case, she must also face that someone out there doesn’t want this strange mystery to be solved. Murphy’s script and story are tight, and Askja is a very interesting character. But the whole enterprise would crumble without someone as talented as Hawthorne at the drawing board (say, Mike, where are the last two issues of HYSTERIA, anyway?). UMBRA looks great, and he sells Murphy’s work perfectly. Can’t wait to see where this goes.