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Headlines   2004 Review Index   July 7, 2004
Suspended Animation

Michael Vance

Mark Allen

Michael Vance Books

The most-circulated and longest-running comics review column in America
perhaps the World!
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Black and White

   “A century ago,” claims author Jim Vadeboncoeur of Black & White Images, “artists were the media superstars.”

   This statement from his magnificent collection of black and white drawings is true.

   Wait! Isn’t this column limited to comic book and strip reviews? 

   These drawings influenced the first comic strip and book pencillers and inkers, and that is why Black & White Images is being lauded in Suspended Animation. 

   Inside his oversized collection are 300 magazine and book illustrations by over 60 amazing artists.

   The art inside is reprinted from “the golden era of pen and ink illustration: 1889-1922”. Before photographs were easily reproduced and the use of color in print publications was affordable, publishers were hungry for art to satisfy the demand for images, and “stylistic experimentation exploded”.

   The human form was their dominant subject, but nature and architecture were important as well, as was an eye for meticulous detail missing from most of today’s print illustrations.

   You may not recognize names like Charles Dana Gibson, Edwin Austin Abbey or N.C. Wyeth, but comics professionals like Jim Steranko, Alex Toth, and Neil Gaiman who also laud this collection, know them well.  Why?

   The reason these influential illustrators were superstars is their art is stunning, and wise cartoonists seek out the best to emulate.

   Black & White Images is one of nine issues published to date. Artists and those who love art must own them all. They should not delay; early issues are growing scarce.

   If enough back issues are sold, it is likely that a tenth will be published, and no other magazine deserves to continue more than this wonderful title. Buy today. 

   This marvelous collection and The Vadeboncoeur Collection of Images (its sister magazine featuring color illustrations) garner the highest recommendation. MV

   Black & White Images: Second Annual Collection (Images from the Vadeboncoeur Collection) #2/102 pgs. & $20 from JVJ Publishing/various artists and writers with comments by Jim Vadeboncoeur/sold at book stores,, or comics shops.

   Review by Michael Vance

The Castaways

   Tucker Freeman is 13 years young, and living the hobo's life on the road.  Not because he wants to, mind you, but it's the age of the Great Depression, and, in the wake of his father walking out on the family, he feels it's his responsibility to go out and find work, so as to be a help to the family, instead of a burden.  Along the way, he meets an interesting individual, who becomes a trustworthy friend; an old hobo named Elijah Hopkins.  During his time with Elijah, Tucker learns about being a hobo (as opposed to a "tramp," or a "bum"), as well as being a decent human being.

   Written by Rob Vollmar, The Castaways is a poignant, thoughtful, engrossing tale, largely influenced by conversations with the author's grandmother, as well as a documentary on the Depression.  You see, there is a great deal of emotional investment in Castaways, and it shows.  Vollmar doesn't write two-dimensional characters, here. Somehow, he manages to breathe a semblance of life into Tucker and Elijah, making the reader care about what happens to them.  This book is a fine compliment to Rob's skills as a writer.

   Artist Pablo G. Callejo uses a highly-detailed style of rendering that is easily as important as the writing for bringing the characters to life, in this tale.  Reminiscent of Rick Geary's work, Callejo excels in the black and white medium, showing a wonderful grasp of light, shadow and textures.  Though his characters' expressions are sometimes over-simplified, overall, he shows much promise in this area, as well.  I hope to see more of Pablo's work, in the future.

   The Castaways is highly recommended for all ages, and is believed, by this reviewer, to be a great candidate for a classroom comics selection, being both entertaining, AND historically relevant. 

   The Castaways, published by Absence of Ink Comic Press, 56 pages, $5.95. Look for it at comic shops, comic conventions and online auctions. For the comic shop near you, call 1-888-comicbook.

   Review by Mark Allen


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


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