March 28, 2010

Anne Steelyard, Barbara Hambly

I'd like to love this, but I don't. The title character is between Amelia Peabody and Indiana Jones in both era and temperament, and it's aiming for Terry and the Pirates glamour and adventure, but it's a little too predictable. Also, I find too many of the drawings are off around the eyes; the characters aren't looking where I think they're meant to be looking, which is distracting.

Still, if you like this sort of thing, here's a lot of it.

Find in a Library: Anne Steelyard

So wrote clew.

July 28, 2009


DARPA is funding an autonomous biomass-powered military robot (external combustion engine!). That should occupy the parts of your imagination waiting for Volume Eight of Girl Genius.

So wrote clew.

October 01, 2004

Girl Genius, issue 12, Phil Foglio, Kaja Foglio, Laurie E. Smith

On p. 38 Dupree clearly pulls a button off Abner's jacket, which (last frame) seems to have been the only button with a through buttonhole; his jacket therefore hangs askew. Worse happens to him on p. 39, but at the top of p. 40 he's all buttoned square again.

This isn't the relevant Continuity Surprise, but the big one would be a spoiler for anyone who hasn't yet rushed out to read them all! All!

ISBN: 1890856290

June 10, 2004

Girl Genius, issue 11, Phil Foglio, Kaja Foglio, Laurie E. Smith


ISBN: 1890856282

February 26, 2004

The Complete Strangers in Paradise, Vol. 2, Terry Moore

WWI maiden with a motorcycle: Frank Reynold line-drawing from a 1919 Punch

Oooh, melodrama. Murder, mafia, mourning, mayhem, mysticism... it all worked for me except the music for the melodrama. The lyrics didn't scan cleanly enough for me to 'hear'
an accompaniment to the story (see V for Vendetta for perfect execution, of course).

The drawing is extremely realistic, more than in what else I've read of the series. There's a "Gibson girl" drawing hanging in one of the rooms Moore draws. The frames that reminded me most of Gibson's style were of a male detective's naked back, though (p. 137). Maybe that's just me, or maybe there's more intervening, mm, cultural tradition between Gibson's Modern Girl and Moore's cheesecake sketches. The cover to #8 really makes me think of Maxfield Parrish's "Girl on Rock" specialty, too.

ISBN: 1-892597-06-3

February 19, 2004

Usagi Yojimbo: The Shrouded Moon, Stan Sakai

Straight-up plot, the adventures of a virtuous ronin and his heart-of-gold lowlife friends. The ronin is a rabbit and his grouchy sidekick seems to be a rhinoceros.

The drawing style uses both Western and Japanese idiom, including Mad Magazine style goofy reaction shots and one-vanishing-point street scene perspective.

ISBN: 1-56971-883-0

February 10, 2004

The Complete Strangers in Paradise, Vol. 1, Terry Moore

The covers are too close together. They're also too far apart; the reprints of comics in-jokes, accessory drawings of animal-headed cheesecake and pectoral men, emphasize only the clichéd parts of the main story.

ISBN: 1-892597-05-5

January 28, 2004

Strangers in Paradise: High School!, Terry Moore

I had confused the plots of Strangers in Paradise, Love and Rockets, and A Distant Soil, probably by reading single issues late in each series. This betrays a tin eye on my part, though I still think there's one character in each pair of stories who could be transplanted.

I would have liked this even if I didn't know it turned into a longer story - the High School! tale of adolescent trauma (one funny, one very serious) and friendship is plain and good. Also, I like the drawing, which really enjoys looking at women but doesn't objectify them. By what criterion? My criterion, that non-realist emotion is a cue for subjective identification with the drawing. In this book (no page numbers), Francine after the motorcycle blows by; Katchoo not so often, but probably in the Food Mart scene.

The bonus story is a truly silly Xena hommage - I haven't seen any Xena yet, it might also be true to the letter - and Kachoo in it is more often subjectively distorted. She isn't an actual tragic heroine in this one, which must have something to do with it (or maybe the whole first story is in Francine's memory, so of course Kachoo looks impossibly perfect and brave).

For straight comedy, "Hoagies!" at the beginning of the second story made my day.

ISBN: 1-892597-07-1

October 17, 2003

Girl Genius, issue 10, Phil Foglio, Kaja Foglio, Laurie E. Smith

The innocent heroine becomes rough and short-tempered; the Ruritanian villain tenderly bears an infant boy on his back. Zeppelins founder, but mostly off-page. Serious bloodshed, partly on-page. No tentacles?

It's clear that even the masterminds in this world really have only a faint clue about what's going on. Even Homer nods; even Studio Foglio brushes realism.

I could do with less gore, on the whole, although it was certainly the logical outcome of jokes I've enjoyed so far. But, as my other half just remarked of the second volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novel, the "top that" habit with gore, sex, and violence leaves less and less room for the plot. I noticed in issue 10 that the fight scenes were most cursorily drawn. (This also makes one read past them briskly, which is probably Sequential Artist Fu for a fast-paced fight scene.) But the icy lake at the edge of the waste is wonderful.

ISBN: 1890856274

July 22, 2003

Girl Genius, issue 9, Phil Foglio, Kaja Foglio, Laurie E. Smith

Finally, issue 9! Studio Foglio has a little trouble hitting its publishing dates; but they do send pretty little postcards apologizing.

I don't know whether to say this ish has no cliffhangers or is all cliffhangers. It's a B-movie, Robots of Ruritania story: lots happens.

Character development is beginning to happen to our heroine Agatha; she has told off two ambiguously bad guys, and one foresees an eventual blowup at some of the good guys, when she realizes what was done to her for her own good... It seems very nicely modern that the GG characters are always conscious of the depths of poverty and fear they could fall to, Outside the Cities. A medieval difference between the stations, with a nineteeth-century fluidity of state. But, considering the gilded 19th-c. costumes from Eastern Europe that I read about recently, maybe the centuries were blurrier than I'm thinking.

I can even forgive the cheesecake women and hardly-beefcake men - I'd like more balance, though. I remain annoyed that one of the marks of womanhood seems to be feet so boot-bent as to seem bound.

ISBN: 1-890856-26-6

June 08, 2003

Creature Tech, Doug TenNapel

Science fiction, romance, religion, horror, and thoroughgoing subjective distortions in the drawing.

ISBN: 1-891830-34-1

Liberty Meadows, Frank Cho

Subtitle: Eden Book 1

It's an okay comic, set in an animal rescue facility (demented, anthropomorphized animals; coupla nebbish guys; babelicious, athletic women). I checked it out of the library because somewhere, a while ago, I ran across an annoyed comment by Frank Cho that he had gotten a complaint from someone about how oppressively beautiful the main female character is. IIRC - I probably don't - his defense, aside from 'get over it already', was an engaged puzzlement that a competent, pleasant, central female character should be so annoying.

I think I know why his representation of her is annoying. The female characters (Brandy, some unnamed ag students in the bar - none of the animals, why not? ) - are drawn in as realist a style as he uses. Some of this is that the humans are more realistic than the animals; but the men are less detailed than the women, and Brandy is most 'posed' of the lot. Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics, pp. 28-37, has a convincingly illustrated argument that realist drawing reduces the amount of reader identification with a character. Something I don't see in Understanding..., but think is at least as important, is that distortions of a drawn character to express emotion are a strong appeal to identification, because they're much closer to how we feel when we have the emotion than to how we see other people who we deduce have the emotion. Brandy, when emotional, is still drawn realistically. All the other series characters are distorted at least sometimes when strongly emotional.

So the oddity about Brandy, heroic female character, is that she's drawn as the one character in the book we couldn't possibly be. Or possibly she's the character who has no subjective existence to express, which is even creepier.

There is a excellent book by Marina Warner on a related thought: Monuments & Maidens: The allegory of the female form. If I recall correctly - and alas, it's been a while since I read it - this combines lots of evidence that Beaux Arts Paris usually represented all the strengths and virtues by realistic female images, with lots of evidence that the same people had no such expectations or allowances for actual women; and she may have an argument that these habits are mutually reinforcing.

Liberty Meadows, ISBN: 1-58240-260-4

Understanding Comics, ISBN: 0-87816-243-7

Monuments & Maidens, ISBN: 0520227336