Suspended Animation Suspended Animation
by Michael Vance & Dr. Jon Suter

Check-out Michael Vance Comic books for sale

June 30, 1999

Reviews in this issue:

Hellboy - Ziggy's Star Performances
Comics Legend: Richard F. Outcault - Space Usagi and Usagi Yojimbo


    The Corpse and the Iron Shoes, The Wolves of Saint August, and Wake the Devil are all from Dark Horse and sold in comics shops and by mail.

    It takes one to know one. This one is a "world-renowned occult investigator... field agent for The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense" and a paranormal himself.

    Hellboy is a dehorned devil.

    Hellboy is also a busy little devil. In the three reviewed books, he tackles numerous mythological creatures of the night based closely on folklore instead of Hollywood's interpretation of folklore. If the premise were also its strength, the best that readers could expect from this series would be technically well done but mundane rehashes of very tired monster stories. After all, even the idea of a paranormal investigator has been done to death.

    Raise your expectations.

    The strength of Hellboy is its style, which is marvelous indeed.

    Artist and writer Mike Mignola is stylistically a minimalist. That means that unless a line of art or word is absolutely essential to the story, it doesn't get drawn or written.

    The effect of minimalism is either a readership feeling cheated because the story moves so quickly both visually and in its plot or a readership focused on exactly what the writer and artist feels is important.

    Hellboy is important stuff.

    The simplicity of Mignola's art is a joy, much enhanced by color. The tone of the series is definitely dark and brooding, and color is essential to simplicity in creating atmosphere.

    More abstract and design oriented than illustrative, Mignola's art is a masterpiece of its discipline.

    Nor does Hellboy suffer from its drought of words. Scant dialog and captions are so carefully chosen that art and word becomes almost a perfect marriage.

    Highly recommended.

Ziggy's Star Performances

    Published in 1989 by Andrews and McMeel.

    The star of newspapers, greeting cards, television and calendars fulfills everyone's gentle wishes (little round Ziggy is everyone) in this wonderful collection of past comic strips.

    Reviewed by Michael Vance

Comics Legend: Richard F. Outcault

    Scholars recognized long ago that comics are accurate records of their times, depicting not only the clothing styles, attitudes, and vocabulary of their era, but also social concerns.

    This was true from the beginning when Richard F. Outcault created Hogan's Alley (later known as The Yellow Kid) for the New York World newspaper.

    In 1995, America was only beginning to recognize its urban problems. More people probably leaned about the conditions in the slums through the comics than would ever have read or heard the words of reformers like Jacob Riis, author of How The Other Half Lives. Outcault's strip depicted the violence and poverty facing the children of slums, but like Charles Dickens, he found the humor lurking beneath the horror.

    Until now, anyone wishing to see a complete collection of Outcault's work had to go to the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art. To celebrate the 1995 centennial of comics, Kitchen Sink Press published a major anthology: R. F. Outcault's The Yellow Kid (hardback: $55.00; paperback $39.95).

    This is the cornerstone of any collection of historically important comic strips.

    In addition to 121 marvelously reproduced color illustrations, there are 146 pages of valuable history.

    This reader was surprised to learn that the term "yellow journalism" did not spring from the rise of a new yellow dye for the Kid's nightshirt.

    Another revelation was Kid made "guest appearances" in Outcault's other major strip, Buster Brown. The child of the slums and the child of wealth make a strange combination.

    This book has to be seen to be appreciated. Buy a copy before it goes out-of-print or urge your library to acquire a copy.

    Kitchen Sink Press has published many valuable retrospective collections; e.g., Steve Canyon and Li'l Abner comic strips. These are essential to any collection, but are also fun to read.

    Reviewed by Dr. Jon Suter

Space Usagi and Usagi Yojimbo

    Published by Dark Horse. Inventive and entertaining, these 'funny animal' adventures of a Japanese rabbit warrior are delight. Recommended.

    Reviewed by Michael Vance

    Questions? Comments? A comic you wish reviewed? Write: 1427 S. Delaware Ave., Tulsa, OK, 74104. Or email c/o

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