Tag: Viktor Kalvachev

BACKLOG! The Dylan Dog Case Files, The Finder Library, Blue Estate, The Incredibly Fantastic Adventures of Maureen Dowd, Empire State

by on Apr.25, 2011, under Comics

I’ve got a big backlog of comics piled up to review, so rather than try to give them all a fair shake I’m going to do quick takes on all of them, starting with the ones I like.

The movie version coming out on Friday looks like it’s going to be bad, but at least it’s prompted Dark Horse to bring out a fat new collection of the classic Italian comic Dylan Dog, written by Tiziano Sclavi. Starting in the late 1980s, the collection proceeds through seven increasingly off-the-wall Twilight-Zone-like horror tales. The best is the fifth one, which is bonkers metafiction, but all are good fun.

Preview here.

Carla Speed McNeil doesn’t have a movie deal yet, but she’s still my new hero. She’s been self-publishing her sci-fi comic Finder since the mid-1990s, and since about five years ago publishing it on the Web with print versions only for the equivalent of trade paperbacks. Like many readers, I’m sure, I’ve only just now learned about her from the new Dark Horse collection of her first three books.

A lot of science fiction builds worlds intended to reflect real-life political concerns. McNeil’s stuff is much more character-centric. She tells stories that could be told in a realist mode, only they happen to be set in a rich, complex alien society. There are pages and pages of endnotes that reveal the depth of intention behind every tossed-off detail (and that helped me make sense of motivations and assumptions McNeil barely touches on). It’s grown-up sci-fi without any hand-holding. I love it.

Preview here.

Blue Estate has nice enough art, but essentially it’s a by-the-numbers noir detective story that spends far, far too much time on exposition. Isn’t the point of detective fiction to show the detective finding clues rather than having him reveal the full story in an omniscient flashback? Scriptwriter Andrew Osborne needs a review on point-of-view characters.

I wanted to like The Incredibly Fantastic Adventures of Maureen Dowd, and it does give the satisfaction of popping Maureen Dowd into lingerie every few pages. I like the idea of her being a gun-toting badass, even. But the premise that she’s a crusading journalist with an insatiable need to expose the misdeeds of the powerful—that’s too much to swallow. This is a woman whose stock in trade is high school metaphors, who wrote a whole book about how feminism is to blame for her shitty dating life. She’s not out convincing Scooter Libby to spill his guts about exposing Valerie Plame. She’s just not.

Preview here.

In Empire State: A Love Story (Or Not) a boy loses the girl he has a crush on when she moves from Oakland to New York. He decides he must have her, writes her a love letter, and hops on a Greyhound bus across the country. But when he arrives he finds she already has a boyfriend and his letter has been lost.

I didn’t have strong feelings about the book one way or another, to be honest. I identified with Jimmy, the main character, in that I’ve also written ill-advised love letters in my life, albeit at a much younger age than he. And I appreciated author Jason Shiga’s out-of-order storytelling as an experiment. But I didn’t feel there were any consequences to anything that happened, so nothing in the story mattered, told in order or not. So as long as we’re doing remedial courses, Jason Shiga needs a review on storytelling structure: he has a good ground situation, vehicle, and building conflict, and yet no resolution at all. A character who’s been inert through age 25 goes on a cross-country odyssey to declare his love—and nothing happens.

 

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