Suspended Animation

Michael Vance   Mark Allen   Michael Vance Books
The longest-running comics review column in America perhaps the World!

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February 16, 2000

The Apparition

    I read it once.

    I read it again, not because it's a confusing mess of technical mistakes, uninspired art, boring story and shoddy printing. 

    I read it again because The Apparition is exceptional. It is the thought provoking story of a dramatic conflict of perceived spiritual abandonment. 

    The archangel Adriel becomes embroiled in the desertion of a child by a despicable father and mother. This angel must protect Josh from a marauding demon from Adriel's own past as the boy wanders through an unforgiving wilderness. 

    Unintentional death sends Adriel on a horrendous trip to Hell, and apparent abandonment by an uncaring God. There, the angel must overcome temptation and danger to reunite Josh with his estranged mother. And with God. 

    "Nay!", you say, disdainful of anything dealing with religion and angels and demons, the stuff of the opium of the people. 

    Ignorance costs. 

    Ignorance may cost nay sayers the stunning art of Michael Gaydos who paints with ink. Founded in realism, his impressive washes, airbrushed detail and powerful visual storytelling add a startling believability to wings and auras and things from Hell that go dump in the night. 

    Prejudice against those television preachers who seem to line their pockets while lining your face with guilt may cost you one of the most insightful probings of the ancient battle of man with himself, of spirit with animal, of man with something wholly Other. 

    "Yeah!" rejoice those who embrace anything dealing with religion and angels and demons, the stuff of faith and hope. 

    Some of you will also be Surprised by the depth of art and thought. This is much more than religion trivialized. 

    Highly recommended.

    Priced at $3.95 it comes in at 48 Pages from Caliber Comics. Written by James Pruett and drawn by Michael Gaydos.

Barb Wire

    Mind candy spun of spandex, stereotypes and superhero cliches without additives like originality. All surface and no substance. 

Hola Ireland!

    Hello to Suspended Animation readers in Ireland's Niall McGuirk Publications. Drop us a line! 

Comic Comment Anthologies

    I frequently call attention to anthologies that contain several months' of reprinted comic strips. These are a valuable way of retaining permanent copies of popular comics since the paper is better and the comics are in a format larger than in newspapers. 

    A trend in these anthologies is the inclusion of commentary from writers and artists. Andrews McMeel published two such examples in late 1999. The cost, $14.95 each, is high, but the information about how comics are created is priceless. 

    The first is Baby Blues: Ten Years and Still in Diapers, by Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott. This is the second Baby anthology to include comments in the margins and I would prefer more on how a particular joke or story line was developed and received. 

    Baby pushes the envelope more than most comics and provokes considerable reaction from readers. Even Bill Keane's Family Circus has drawn criticism from readers concerned about inadvertent depiction's of situations hazardous to small children. The wide popularity of Baby Blues provides a barometer of what the reading public will accept. The second volume, Lynn Johnston's The Lives Behind the Lines. 20 Years of For Better or Worse, contains considerably more commentary than comics. What is useful is Johnson's extensive background material on the characters. She is careful to distinguish between the characters and her family. This is useful corrective to the myth that the strip is almost entirely based on her family. 

    Much of the commentary comes as a revelation because her insights are not always described in the daily episodes. I admit that my readings of some characters were erroneous. Many novelists could take lessons from Lynn Johnston an creating characters. 

    We would be fortunate if other writers and artists would put down their thoughts on the creative process in this format. Many creators have left little or no autobiographical material. The recent loss of Charles Schulz and Peanuts reminds us how easily we can lose our legacy. 

    Review by Dr Jon Suter


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