Moby Dick

Moby Dick      There is no simpler plot: obsession and revenge. Yet Captain Ahab's final voyage to settle a debt with God and a great white whale is one of the great American novels.

      There is no simpler style of art: uncluttered and minimalist. Yet Will Eisner remains one of the most influential cartoonists of the 20th century. At its creative peak, his innovative visual storytelling was unmatched, and Eisner's technique continues to teach artists and writers as it entertains his legions of fans.

      His adaptation of Moby Dick even succinctly points out why comic books and strips will never equal the depth of the novel.

      Huh?! You disrespecting comics, boy?  Why, you…..

Moby panel      Melville's novel is not held in high esteem for its plot, but for its depth of characterization, philosophical and psychological insight into the human condition, and for its meticulous and accurate historic detail. All three are missing from Eisner's adaptation in various but obvious degrees.

      Why? Is it because this master cartoonist simply hasn't the under-standing or ability to transfer these things to the written page?


      It is because the number of pages needed to delve into complicated ideas in a comic book is financially restrictive. Despite the central importance given to art by most comics fans, art alone cannot quickly convey an intricate idea.

      Oh, yeah!! Sez who!

      Sez me.  Draw this sentence, art obsessed fan-boy. The belief in objective, absolute truth is dead.

      You had better give yourself lots of pages of art to do what those eight words conveyed. Every art form has its limits. Because he had 32 pages to tell his story, Eisner correctly focused on plot.

      Moby Dick is a minor work from a major talent that is still recommended as an introduction to a magnificent novel. For all ages.

      Moby Dick/32 pgs., $15.95, cloth-bound from NBM Publishing/written by Herman Melville, adapted by Will Eisner/sold at comics/book shops and by mail at 

      Review by Michael Vance



Rio      A friend of mine (who is a comics enthusiast) once gave his father (who isn't) a work of sequential art to peruse, at which time his father asked, "Is this another one a' them dang funny books?"  Something like that. 

      Later, good ol' Dad would hit his son up several times about another installment of that entertaining book, which, at first, he didn't even want to read. 

      The point? 

      There is comic book material out there to interest far more people than are currently reading it.  That is one of the things this column is all about, broadening the comic-book-reading public. 

      The creation?  Doug Wildey's Rio.

      Rio is a former gun-fighter, road agent, and train robber, who, in the course of his many adventures, earns a full pardon for his crimes by working a special assignment for President Ulysses S. Grant.  In his travels, he encounters other such historic figures as Jesse James, and the Apache renegade, Geronimo.

      The stories combine authentic western locales with interesting characters, both served up with pretty-as-you-please pencils, inks and paints.

      Doug Wildey is not just another comic book artist, with all due respect to comic book artists everywhere. His love of the Old West shines through all of his Rio work.  His work on the subject has, in fact, been featured in numerous gallery showings, such as the 1992 Nevada show entitled "The Best of the West." 

      Throughout the stories, however, it's difficult to determine what really steals the show, Wildey's art, or his incredible knack for characterization and story telling.  Doug Wildey was one of the medium's true treasures.  

      There are currently three Rio graphic novels available; Rio, published by the now-defunct Comico Comic Company, Rio Rides Again, by Marvel Comics, and Rio At Bay, from Dark Horse Comics.  Prices range from $6.95 to $9.95, with a page count of 60 to 70.  Comic shops, bookstores, and online searches can yield results in locating these works.  Locate your local comic ship by calling 1-888-comicbook.

            Review by Mark Allen

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Write: 1427 S. Delaware Ave., Tulsa, OK, 74104. Or email Michael Vance.