Monday, April 19, 2010

What I Read - Apr 19, 2010

Agnes Quill: An Anthology of Mystery - written by Dave Roman with art by Jason Ho, Xave Roman, Raina Telgemeier, Jeff Zornow, and Jen Wang. This is a collection of stories about Agnes Quill, an orphaned teenager who can communicate with ghosts. She lives in the city of Legerdemain where she follows in her grandfather's footsteps by solving mysteries for ghosts and the undead. This collection is printed in black and white.

There four distinct stories in this collection, each drawn by a different artist with a distinct style. I like all four artists styles, even though Agnes is not drawn consistently from story to story. I get the impression that the the printing process did a disservice to the art in the first and third stories. There is little other than black and white in those stories, very little in the way of gray. That's too bad.

There are a few extras in the back: excerpts from Agnes' journal, a field guide to the world of Agnes Quill, and a gallery of sketches and drawings of Agnes by various artists. Both the field guide and the journal delve into background material that is not covered or only mentikoned briefly in the stories. The gallery includes pages by the artists who drew the stories and a few others.

Ooku: The Inner Chambers v2 - written and drawn by Fumi Yoshinaga. For my description of the premise of this series see my posts about volume 1.

This story takes place a few decades before the one in the first volume. It is the story of the newly appointed abbot of Keiko-in who pays a visit to the Shogun in Edo. His plan was to pay his respects and then return to the monastery but the Shogun's wetnurse, who has a considerable amount of power in the court of the Shogun, thinks otherwise, after seeing how handsome the abbot is. This story is set at a point when the red face pox had not decimated the male population of Japan as much as it eventually would. The Shogun is still a man when the book opens, but succumbs to the mysterious disease in the first pages of the book. This isn't a spoiler. The description on the back of the book indicates that this volume contains the story of the first female Shogun.

At this point I've read the first two (of five) chapters. I like the tension. Its very different from the first volume. There is a lot of dialogue, which surprised me a bit. The notes in the back of the book explain the cultural references which would otherwise be uncomprehensible to many unfamiliar with Japanese history and culture of this era.

One thing that I do find interesting about this series is that the main character in the two big stories so far have been men. There are women that play important roles but given the fact that the author is a woman and the sort of world it is set in I expexted otherwise. This has not negatively impacted the pleasure I get from reading this series. It is just something that occurred to me since starting v2.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Stuff I Wanna Read - Apr 7, 2010

Reading Blazing Combat has me thinking about reading two other classic war comics that I have only heard about and never read. I am of course referring to Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat. Both were published by EC back in the early 1950s. The collections retail for $50 a piece and only contain 6 issue per collection but I really want to get these. I can probably find them for 40% off somewhere online...

What I Read - Apr 7, 2010

Blazing Combat - link - I am currently working my way through the Fantagraphics collection of this old comic book series, and loving it. I can't think of a single negative thing to say about the artwork or visual storytelling. It is a gorgeous thing to look at. Not all the stories connect with me but for the most part I find them to be very honest and moving. The stories are fairly short, most of them being either six or seven pages long. I think that most comic book readers/fans should buy or at least read this collection.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

CGS Super Show 2010

I finally published by account of the Comics Geek Speak Super Show, which happened last weekend. I wrote about the trip, the show, and the things I bought. You can find a link of the right side of this screen, beneath my picture. As of right now I still need to upload some pictures and video that I took while at the show. Once I do I will add links in the account to those items.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

What I Read - Apr 1, 2010

Fables v1 - written by Bill Willingham with art by Lan Medina. A good but not a great read. The opening arc of this series revolves around the investigation into the disappearance and possible murder of Rose Red, Snow White's sister. All the main charcters come from other fiction: Snow White, Bigby Wolf, Blue Beard, Jack, Prince Charming, Little Boy Blue, Old King Cole, etc. Bigby leads the investigation, Snow White is the deputy mayor and city administrator of Fabletown, Old King Cole is the mayor. Its a little unclear where they are located but I'm guessing that it is supposed to be somewhere in New York City.

The art gets the job done but I wouldn't call it solid. The most interesting or appealing part of the story was the characterization of the main characters, and how they seem to embody characteristics from the stories they originally appeared and traits that seem somewhat contradictory to their original nature: rather than being a damsel in distress Snow White runs the town and on occasion curses up a storm, Prince Charming is best known (in this series at least) for sleeping around,etc.

The Moth - written by Gary Martin with art by Steve Rude. Despite high expectations I wasn't too wild about this book after reading the first 10 pages. I think it was the plot and characters. Despite the weird mix it seemed somewhat formulaic in places

I've now finished the first chapter. Although I'm still not wild about it, I've taken off my blinders, opened my eyes and can now see that the book has strengths, namely the artwork and the humor. Hopefully the story and characters will get more interesting.

20th Century Boys v5 - story and art by Naoki Urasawa. Halfway through this volume the story veered in a direction that I didn't see it going, it flashed forward 14 years into the future (to the year 2014) and one of the supporting characters took the lead. There was some indication in v1 that this would or might happen but I was taken in by the rest of the story and assumed that it would end in the year 2000, as I thought was hinted in v1.

Of course, I don't know what comes next. It's possible that the story will return to the late 20th century before its over. I hope it will since there are a number of questions that have yet to get answered. Regardless of where the story goes from here its been a fun ride so far. I hope it continues to be entertaining to the end.