Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Is Still Free Comic Book Day If I Say So #70

Fractured Fables (Free Book Comic Day Edition)
Love and Capes #13
The Oni Press Free-For-All

Damn it! I should have raided my naughty box and dug out some old porn comics for #69! Too late now...

Fractured Fables (Free Book Comic Day Edition) (Image, 2010, $0.00)
Take a cartoon series that was old when I was young, centered around a very specific design sense and Yiddish humor. Alter the name juust enough, then offer it as a wildly divergent anthology to a generation who think Yids are something the Mario Brothers fight. The end result is maybe better than you might expect, but so far afield from the source material, I hardly see the point of infringing trademark with the name.

"Little Red Riding Hood" by Bryan Talbot and Camilla d'Errico is the prettiest piece of the bunch, with some stabs at humor, but is too post modern to serve. The story is fairly faithful up to a "twist" ending that feels like a too often told joke. Hell, the black and white boom of the '80s was built on it. "Rumplestiltskin" by Doug TenNapel is the funniest and least faithful story of the bunch.

"The Real Princess" has a story by Alexander Grecian that seems pretty straightforward, then takes a turn halfway through before totally jumping the tracks toward the end. That would have been fine with the right artist, but Christian Ward is too dark and impressionistic. Once the gags kick in, you're not entirely sure you're meant to laugh, like maybe something went awry in a translation.

"Rapunsel" by Derek McCulloch and Anthony Peruzzo comes the closest to being a legit Fractured Fairy Tale, which means it's screwball and old-fashioned, but still fun. "Hey Diddle, Diddle" closes out the book on a disappointing note, as the usually daring Ted McKeever just visually represents the rhyme on an urban tip.

Each story passes the time, and might even elicit a chuckle, but I imagine I'd be worm out by the shtick spread out over a 160 page hardcover. Your own mileage may vary.

Love and Capes #13 (Maerkle Press, 2010, $0.00)
Remember when Clark Kent finally married Lois Lane? I never hated on that, because Superman pushing up on Wonder Woman or any other single ladies doesn't get my rocks off. So yeah, marry him off, and then focus on making his rogues gallery not suck, alright? Still though, there were a lot of dumb ass stories that revolved around the marriage, like how an army of super-heroes defended Metropolis during their honeymoon, or how the entire JLA membership became "married" to the team to cover up for a reporter snapping a picture of Superman wearing a wedding ring. None of that shit was going to win people over, but it was alright once everything settled down.

So here's this book, see, where they take out all the super-heroics and just focus on the marriage bullshit. Didn't Bryan Singer prove once and for all how boring Superman was when he stopped punching shit? At least with the Donner pictures, you still had the neurotic romance and intrigue of high stakes journalism. Here, we cut straight to the sitcom domesticity, and instead of reporters, these guys are accountants and book retailers. I'm barely conscious while typing that.

Someone once said that if you write a super-hero story where the main character could be fairly easily replaced with another character, you're doing it wrong. Love and Capes could just as easily be Love and Spies or even just Love and Marriage. It's a romantic comedy like many others, in that it's not actually funny, and just coasts along on affability. It's a comic book, and figures super-heroes will best serve as a hook, but it might as well be Caroline in the City for all it matters. This book essentially exists for people who would really like to see Batman and Wonder Woman date without anyone around them getting raped or murdered. It's easy listening music for bone weary super-hero fans who continue to buy comics as a compulsion rather than a desire. Plus, it's in full color, unlike those other dirty indie books, because I know mainstream readers hate to slum.

The Oni Press Free-For-All (Oni, 2010, $0.00)
Another fucking all-ages anthology, more excerpts from larger volumes, and this time in black and white. Could it possibly be any good? Yes, actually.

"Salt Water Taffy: The Seaside Adventures of Jack and Benny: The Tale of Captain Hollister and Old Salty." That is one hell of a long name, and really, two colons? Regardless, this is the best foot forward-- clever, amusing and drawn in a distinctive style I enjoyed mightily. I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for more of Matthew Loux's stuff.

"Midnight Snack," from Ray Fawkes Possessions, didn't impress me as much. It comes from the Charles Addams school, but coasts on the attitudinal girl Gurgazon the Unclean's contrary personality. We all love characters who speak in the third person and rooms full of gorillas, but they don't gel into a story, and the goth backdrop doesn't represent more than Hot Topic pandering.

Finally, "Runnin' Late," a David Crogan pirate adventure, was a nice bit of fun. Chris Schweizer's character designs are nifty, and I like the juxtaposition of heavy detail or chiaroscuro effects against the cartoons in the strip.

Yow! Drawn & Quarterly Presents A John Stanley Library Grab-Bag For Free Comic Book Day 2010 (D & Q, 2010, $0.00)
I remember reading Nancy as a kid when she turned up in the newspaper funny pages. I didn't much like her then, either. In "Oona Goosepimple's Uncle Oaf," she's her usual bratty self, just in a haunted house. Then Marge's Tubby turns up one morning with a mustache for a surreal adventure that didn't win me. Judy Junior reminds me of Little Rosie, which should be a horrifying proposition, but worked for me here. All of Stanley's characters seem to be little jerks, but Judy is the most nakedly so, lacking the cutesy vibe of the rest. Her "Arts and Crafts" is plum mean, but I appreciated that honesty. Nancy returned for "A Chase of Nerves," which was predictable, but not without its charms. Aunt Fritzi was hot, and the final panel was darling. Then came Melvin Monster, and combined with the first Nancy story, I suspect Addams wasn't Ray Fawkes most direct inspiration. The designs of the family are pretty cool, and the gag-to-panel ratio was better than average. Choo-Choo Charlie closed out the book weak, but it was alright overall.

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