Headlines   2003Review Index   May 16, 2003
Suspended Animation

Michael Vance - Mark Allen
Michael Vance Books

The most-circulated and longest-running comics review column in America
perhaps the World!
Review Index 2003 - 2002 - 2001 - 2000 - 1999 - 1998

      With the subtlety of a blunt axe and the finesse of a razor, Fink! satirizes Israel through features like "The Fundementalists!" (a superhero team of one Christian, Muslim and Jew), "Battya & Sharonica" (Archie Comics' Betty and Vernonica), and "Yenter-prise" (figure that one out yourself). It paints an unflattering picture of an Israel full of violence, bigotry and hatred. In an unscientific survey of one, the only Israelite I can ask believes it an accurate portrait.

      Uri Fink jumps from one art style to another with a deft understanding of the medium. Fink! is NOT for children.

      Fink!/$5.95 & 40 pgs. from Hippy Comix/words: Uri Fink, Jon Silk, Todd Zimmer; art: Fink/ available at hippycomix@aol.com  and at comics shops.


      Obscurity...  is not a comic book but a magazine about comics produced by fans and called fanzines.

      These self-published magazines are often very professional and often not. The brief reviews make it easier to distinguish between the two and to understand what they contain.

      Fanzines may contain almost anything. 

      Obscurity... is a great introduction to fanzines for the uninitiated or a wonderful reference for those who love them.

      Obscurity Unlimited #20/$3.50 and 32 pgs. from Dimestore Productions/ editor: Kathy Shires/available from www.dimestoreproductions.com.

Prince Valiant #45: The Mark of Cain

      This forty-fifth issue reprints Sunday pages from a seminal masterpiece that influenced decades of comics writers and artists. For the uninitiated, methinks Prince Valiant is set "in the days of King Arthur", and recounts the rousing, pseudo-historic adventures of a restless knight as he gallops through what became Western Europe.

      Pioneer comics genius Hal Foster established the beautiful, realistic style of art and word that is continued by John Cullen Murphy, and the quirk that distinguished it from almost everything else in comics. Both prose and dialog are printed at the bottom of the art. This creates a sense that readers observe instead of participate in events.

      This series should be in every library. Highly recommended for all literate ages.

      Prince Valiant #45: The Mark of Cain/$16.95 & 44 pgs. from Fantagraphics Books /sold in comics/book stores, and at www.fantagraphics.com.

      Review by Michael Vance


      Zack is the first transgenic clone and able to morph his body into other human forms and experience the emotions of those around him. What distinguishes him from a million other superheroes is that he isn't a superhero. He's just a weird, teenage kid in high school who's world is girls, electronic gadgets, music and, most importantly, relationships. That's right.  Kameelman is Archie Comics without Archie's cuteness, which is its saving grace.

      Its other recommendation is that this teenage world reads and feels real, which is no slight accomplishment in any medium.  Loneliness and social awkwardness are common. Talent does not always win. Much of the culture seems superfluous but still of intense importance. Not everyone is pretty. Bullies often win.

      This title's only weakness is the wholly unnecessary 'transgenic clone' shtick.

       Well drawn and  well written, Kameelman is recommended for teens.

      Kameelman #1/$2.99 & 32 pgs. from AI Oregon/words: T-Bone; art: Ron Randall/sold in comics shops and at www.a1oregon.com.

      Review by Michael Vance

Star Studded Comics

      On January 8th, 1989, Suspended Animation began publication. Now beginning its 14th year, it seems fitting that we look at a new way to buy comic books and strips on the Internet (E-bay) as we glance back into comics history.

      Star Studded Comics is one of the earliest, most influential, and hardest to find comic book fanzines. E-bay is an auction company on the Internet, and fanzines are amateur magazines not sold on newsstands that are created for readers who avidly share the interest of the publisher.

      Star Studded Comics began in the 1960s and played a major role in bringing fans together who created a loose 'society' of readers that love comics called "fandom". It also created a training field for artists and writers (some became professionals), began documenting the history of the art form, and spurred the creation of comics conventions.

      When my comics collaborator Richard "Grass" Green died in 2002, and knowing that he had produced work for this fanzine as a founder of fandom, I turned to E-bay to find his early Xal-Kor the Human Cat and Wildman and Rubberroy in the 15th issue of Star Studded. Because few copies were printed, what might have taken years of search in comics shops took minutes to find on E-bay.

      In addition, this issue of Star Studded published comics by Landon Chesney, Alan Weiss, Dave Cockrum, Howard Keltner, Larry Herndon, and Mickey Schwaberow; Weiss and Cockrum became professionals. Each story has a raw energy and a large dose of talent that makes this fanzine a 'must have' for serious comics historians, collectors, and fans of Grass Green.

      Star Studded Comics #15, May 1969/original price 75 cents [bought for around $20], 60pgs. from the Texas Trio/various artists and writers/found at www.ebay.com.

      Review by Michael Vance


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