Whaddaya say we go back to the Top Shelf and see what I can find?
I became aware of Scott Morse's THE BAREFOOT SERPENT at about the same time I became aware of Morse's work itself, via his Marvel project Elektra: Glimpse & Echo which I liked a lot (mostly art-wise; I didn't care for the way he chose to end it) and set out to see more of his work. I had my eye on this for quite some time, but just never seemed to get around to picking it up until Brett Warnock came to my rescue. Serpent has a twofold purpose; on the surface it's a tale about an unusual little girl (who sees Hawaiian spirits) from a family which has recently experienced the death of her brother and is trying to cope, and who meets a streetwise (beachwise?) young boy. Bookending this tale is an illustrated bio of Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, whose work dealt with many of the themes that Morse is working with in his story. I've seen one or two of Kurosawa's films, and enjoyed them, but much of what Morse was trying to do eluded me because I wasn't fluent in his work. That's not as big a problem as I'm trying to make it sound- you can still read this and get a lot of pleasure at Morse's innovative art, and there are plenty of poignant moments throughout. Serpent is a work worthy of your consideration, especially if you're a Kurosawa fan. A
DAYDREAM LULLABIES is a collection of stories by Dean Haspiel featuring his Billy Dogma character, and the best way I can think of to describe these is that they're like the Tick as written by Nietzche or Sartre. Haspiel, who did one of my all-time favorite comics panels ever in his Captain Marvel story for Bizarro Comics, has an appealing clunkiness to his artwork, all thick lines and action, that I like very much. I liked these Billy D stories at first; they're kinda clever as he and his girl Jane Legit get into odd situations and go on long philosophical discussions as they shoot and hit their way out of them. But eventually all the talk, talk, talk, and the predictability of the stories themselves, wore a little thin before I was done. I'm always up for Haspiel art, wherever it appears, but I think for me Billy Dogma is a character best experienced in short intervals, rather than all at once. B+
I thought I'd take a flyer on Renee French's hardcover kinda-sorta children's bookTHE SOAP LADY because I liked the meticulously shaded art and the story sounded interesting. It's inspired by, so they say, "an actual mummy that resides in the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia", it's a don't-judge-a-book-by-its-cover tale of a young boy who's befriended by the title character, who arises out of the water of a lake, but is soon threatened by hostile, frightened adults. It gets its message across in its quirky way, with an underlying melancholy which is created by French's graytoned illustrations. Not for everybody, but a unique experience that you won't soon forget after you've read it. A
VAN HELSING'S NIGHT OFF is an amusing collection of gag strips featuring classic horror movie monsters and characters, illustrated in a very odd, minimalist style by Nicolas Mahler. Mahler's work reminds me a lot of Randall Enos, who used to do the "Chicken Gutz" strip in the National Lampoon. Sometimes Mahler's work is a little difficult to follow, but more often as not the punch lines are worth the effort. A-
Later- a look at issue 7 of Comic Book Artist Vol. 2, with the Howard Chaykin interview (my copy, sadly, was missing several pages) and another pass at Same Difference.