Monday, July 05, 2004


Alternative Comics: I got around to reading the Bertozzi and Orff pieces. The Bertozzi story did nothing for me, and I downright disliked the art, which substituted grimaces for expressiveness. (And in the second panel on p. 3, the perspective makes Picasso's visitor look just like Jay Leno, which is unfortunate.) The Orff story is an uninteresting slice of life, with uninteresting art.

Image Comics Summer Special: I picked this up solely because of the "Invincible" story, that series being highly acclaimed in the blogosphere and elsewhere. In addition to reading this story, I've looked at the first TP in the bookstore, and a few of the later issues on the shelves (including the big plot twist) and I have to say that I just don't get it. The idea apparently is that he's a superhero, and at the same time is leading a normal high school life. All well and good; but I don't find either of the superheroing or the normal life particularly interesting. And weren't Lee and Ditko doing more or less the same thing in Spider-man forty years ago? I can see how this might seem fresh and new to someone used to the sludge that is "mainstream" superheroes today; but for someone with no emotional attachment to superheroes, I doubt it would have much of an appeal. (I feel about the same way about the art: it looks fresh compared to the other stories in the Special; but taken on its own it's mediocre.)

Amelia Rules!: There are a lot of quotes on the back cover about how wonderful this series is. And Gownley, the creator, has made a great effort to produce a charming book (as opposed to a book that screams "I'm charming! Love me!" like Kochalka's stuff). But I wasn't charmed. Perhaps my problem is that the great comics about children are all very personal, expressing their creators' own viewpoint on what it's like to be a child (Little Lulu is possibly an exception). For all I know, Amelia is personal too, but it doesn't read like it has a point of view; it seems to have stemmed from Gownley's determination to produce a kid-friendly comic book, rather than any need of his to express himself. On the last page, Amelia, who narrates, says "See the thing that people don't tell you, is that sometimes being a kid just isn't suitable for children. But it's okay as long as you have someone looking out for you." Aside from the fact that this is hardly news these days, the stories in this issue really don't have any connection with it. The art, too, while not bad, is characterless. Steve Conley contributes a wordless eight-pager, about which I have nothing to say.

This wasn't all I got, but I think I'll stop now; otherwise it'd be too depressing. At that, it's better than last year, when there were only a couple of short stories that I enjoyed. You know, I frequently see people say dismissively that most manga is mediocre. And it's true: most manga published here is mediocre, and as far as I can gather, the same is true for manga published in Japan. But what makes these people think that American comics are any better? Most critically acclaimed American comics are mediocre, too; and that goes for alternative and independent books as well as superhero books.

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