Headlines   2004 Review Index   March 26, 2004
Suspended Animation &

Michael Vance

Mark Allen

Michael Vance Books

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Fictions #2

     Those tired of the super hero scene should take note. Would-be burglars have a harrowing encounter with the supernatural. Horror. A dim look at an Orwellian future brings chills, and a desire to hide under the covers for the next few decades. Science fiction.

     Stu Robinson has big ideas...but is he all talk?  Slice-of-life. Three stories, three genres; and not a hint of spandex. There aren't very many anthology comics out there worth a look. Fictions is different. Not perfect by any means, but definitely rife with potential.

     From first page to last, I remained interested. Hey, that's saying a LOT for most comics, these days. Intriguing characters and situations, as well as engaging artwork make for a better-than-average comics experience. Now, if only writer Johnny Lowe could decide whether to use profanity, or punctuation-marks as a substitute; of course, I believe the substitute would suffice.

     Lowe spins quite a yarn. All three stories spring from his creative imagination. I have to say, there seems to be quite a lot going on, up there.

     Artists Seaward Tuthill, Ted Seko, and Ellen Lindner all possess appealing styles, with Tuthill seemingly the most accomplished in the black-and-white medium. His clean lines, superior shading, texture and depth, as well as his ability to keep visibility "clear" in the absence of color lead me to believe he could have a bright future in the comics industry.

     Fictions is not recommended for younger readers due to profanity. Those interested in buying should write to: Brass Ring Comics, 1152 W. 24th Street, #1, San Pedro, CA 90731, or email BrssRngCmx@aol.com.

     Fictions #2,  published by Brass Ring Comics, 32 pages, $2.50.

     Review by Mark Allen

MINIVIEW: Shooting Star Comics Anthology #3, published by Shooting Star Comics, 64 pages, $4.95. Loved the square-bound format, but most of the work is fairly average. The most promising of this collection is that of J. Morgan Neal and Gregg W. Noon (writers) and Kieran McKeown (artist) on "Rex Solomon."  I'd love to see it get more pages.

     Review by Mark Allen

Winsor McCay: Early Works #1

     It is more difficult to blaze a trail than to follow one, and Winsor McCay was a trailblazer.

     Winsor McCay: Early Works, the first volume in a collection of  McCay's work as a comic strip pioneer, reprints four of his strips, Tales of the Jungle Imps (1903), Little Sammy Sneeze (1904), Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend (1905), and A Pilgrim's Progress (1905).

     McCay's groundbreaking  bird's-eye views, unusual perspectives, outstanding composition and inking, all added to the popularity of his incredible artwork. His background as an  architect and the dreamlike quality in each of his comic strips seeded by his amazing imagination place him firmly as a giant in the pantheon of comics artists and writers. Because they were created at the turn of the 20th century, the visual history in his work adds an unintentional joy to these four marvelous comic strips.

     McCay's dialog wasn't chopped liver either, but for those looking for character development and plot, prepare to be slightly disappointed. McCay's work focused on ideas, not story.

     McCay was a genius, but not a faultless one.

     Each of these strips was built around one idea that was reworked over and over. Because you wont be reading one strip a week as originally published, this redundancy of idea can become irritating.

     Tales of the Jungle Imps was created for children, and recounts how animals received unique characteristics like a tiger's stripes. Little Sammy Sneeze  is about a boy with a huge sneeze and the chaos it creates. Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend reveals the bizarre dreams brought about by eating fried cheese, and A Pilgrim's Progress focuses on a man's attempt to rid himself of "dull care".

     Early Works is highly recommended for comic strip fans or students of the history of the most popular artform in the world.

     Winsor McCay: Early Works #1/ $19.95 & 192 pgs. from Checker Book Publishing/art and story: Winsor McCay/sold in comics and book shops and at www.checkerbpg.com.

     Review by Michael Vance


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