Headlines   2003 Review Index   January 9, 2003
Suspended Animation

Michael Vance - Mark Allen
Michael Vance Books

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The Exec #1

The Exec      Jack Pierce is an executive in a sterile, emotionless world run by gigantic corporations that survive and grow through murder. Jack Pierce is a murderer.

      Indeed, everyone is a murderer.

       In the first issue of The Exec, more than twenty-five men and women are graphically slaughtered in buckets of blood and gore. Jack's receptionist kills three men. It is so excessive that it suggests satire. There is no satire.

      There is, however, excellent art and visual story telling enhanced by outstanding coloring. The art is reality based and powerful. Both the dramatic art and over-the-top coloring add to the unusual style of The Exec and its unrealistic setting. Although it is never so stated, this is not the Earth we know.   There is also a very stylized, tight plot and wholly unnatural dialog. Everyone speaks impeccable English.

      When style so impregnates a story that it becomes obvious, however, said story will either be loved or hated by its intended audience. As example, Clint Eastwood's Italian Western movies were STYLE and then some. I like style. I just like story better.

      The Exec #1  is 31 pages and priced at $3.95 from Comics Conspiracy. Story by Doug Miers; Pencils by Carlos Paul. It is sold at comics shops & online at comicsconspiracy.com.

     Review by Michael Vance


Peculia      A wildly imaginative nightmare, Peculia is that rare comics commodity, original.

      Bare-footed and pursued in a black mini-skirt through an outré world of monsters, young Ms. Peculia is beset by the primitive fears of death, cannibalism, and sexual confusion that haunt our darkest dreams. Among her would-be abductors are Obscurus, bandaged and goggled like the Invisible Man, and Justine, a spandexed super-heroine.

      Her pen-and-ink, claustrophobic world is a medieval woodcut of stark blacks and whites that approaches the look of photographic negatives.

      These marvelous stories were first serialized in Evil Eye Comics #s 1-9. Because of partial nudity and surreal violence, Peculia is only lauded for adults.

           Peculia is priced at $12.95 and is 102 pages long. It is published by Fantagraphics Books and written & drawn by Richard Sala. You can find it in comics shops and online at fantagraphics.com.

     Review by Michael Vance

Pinky & Stinky

Pinky & Stinky      Two pigs sent into space to be the first to set foot on Pluto crash-land on the moon. As luck would have it, they find a manned moon base, and all seems well.

      Unfortunately, the astronauts assigned there are not the friendliest guys around, as the pigs quickly discover. In the process of trying to get their space ship repaired, the pigs receive no aid from their fellow space travelers, and are eventually taken captive by a race of moon-dwelling aliens. Are the aliens really the bad guys, however?  Who are their friends and who are their foes?

      No, it's not an episode of "Pigs in Space," though it's equally child-friendly. The above is a description of a graphic novel by James Kochalka entitled Pinky & Stinky. Stay with me, now. The trip is well worth it.

      I can't really go into much detail about the characterization. As mentioned, this is a very good book for children, which I would go so far as to classify as a "children's book," if it weren't for the length of the work. Written on a very simplistic level, characterization goes as far as a sweet pig, a slightly grouchy pig, a few mean astronauts, and some sweet little aliens, who will defend themselves if necessary. No deep meanings or complex storylines. Just kid-friendly fun.

      Kochalka's art is also very simple, with thick lines and a minimalist style. The good thing about these kinds of drawings is that they are never obscured; it's easy to follow the action, even without word balloons. Again, exceptional material for young readers.

      My conclusion, in case you haven't caught on, is that Pinky & Stinky is ideal for children, or those learning to read. It ought to be in elementary schools (and some high schools) everywhere. Of course, it's also recommended for the young at heart.

      Pinky & Stinky is published by Top Shelf Productions. Stats: 208 pages, $17.95. Available at comic shops, comic conventions, or online auctions.

      Review by Mark Allen


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