Saturday, June 6, 2009

Zuda review Kogoshii/ What if Romeo didn't die, he was just too chicken to make a honest woman out of Juliet

Kogoshii is a June Zuda comic done by Danny Donovan and Gigi. It is technically proficient in both art and writing, but didn't grab me as a reader. Here is the synopsis: War can be an awful thing. It can take something as pure as young love and turn it into little more than a commodity. When lovers born on opposite sides of a centuries long hatred are forced into a union to build a half-hearted truce, a foolish choice, a rash decision made for the most honorable of reasons, may not just escalate the bloody conflict but destroy the only thing worth fighting for. When Shinji returns home from his self imposed exile, he discovers what his choice had wrought and learns the one person he tried desperately to save was the one hurt the deepest. Love and hate, two sides of the same coin. Can he reignite old passions, or will he die at the hands of the one he loves?

I got the ending, but I didn't like the ending

The art and dialogue were fine, but the ending felt like a half hearted cliff hanger. The various guilds reminded me of the Gambit/his wife/Rogue love triangle from X-Men back in the 90's. Assassins vs. thieves is a nice genre element I enjoyed in this story. It starts off with scenes which do a excellent job of characterization. The text is well written, a bit much of it for my tastes, but the art helped it greatly. It does a good job of explaining the world your reading about. The pace could have been more focused on the future, it still fit well enough on Zuda. Something pretty important happens in the narrative on every page which keeps up a readers interest. It's too bad the creators didn't milk this for all it was worth. The exchanges between Shinji and his best friend, and between him and Satori provide well written characterization. The creators do a good job of making sure the readers get to know the characters in the space provided. Actually mentioning the whole modern day Romero and Juliet thing in the comic, was hitting the readers in the head with a sledge to make sure we got it. Any connection that obvious doesn't need to be s-p-e-l-l-e-d o-u-t by the writer. I don't read Manga regularly, but the art/look of this comic I enjoyed. It always helps when the letters are legible. This was a hefty read for only 8 screens. The creators didn't short change the readers on dramatic elements, but it was too focused on the 'now' considering the direction of the story as foretold by the synopsis. I get the creators wanted us to see how the two leads are now, so we would be greatly affected by their personalty shifts after the events of screen 8. The creators underestimated their own strengths. Who Satori and Shinji are 'now' and their clans problems with it was established by screen 4. You didn't need even more cool text along with, even more cool voice over images to further drive that point home. This month a number of other comics are a better fit for what I'm looking for in a comic. Kogoshii came close in the 8 screens, and if it wins it could get a favorite from me upon seeing more updates.

Can he reignite old passions, or will he die at the hands of the one he loves?

Danny left the best part of the comic in the synopsis, where me and maybe three other people will read it. The synopsis is damn interesting on where this comic can go, more of that dramatic excitement should have been in the comic. Sure the ending was a cliff hanger and you can peer into the future of these characters like a prophet if you read the synopsis. Why wasn't more of the impending doom new directions hinted at in the comic? Shinji comes off as the ultimate dope, I hope Satori does kick the shit out of him. That's good though, I could be tuning in again just to see the smack down. It is also a nice thematic touch that living on the run helps Shinji no doubt become the ultimate thief. The pain and anger of being dumped at the alter by a runaway groom, will no doubt become focused razor edged rage that inspires Satori to be a top notch killer. Fantastic stuff left in the synopsis makes for a pitiful 8th screen. Satori didn't look angry in the last panel, just sad. A future shot montage of Shinji , and Satori in the future doing their respect things would have been awesome, and got a favorite from me. A sequence of panels showing Satori going from sad to mad would have also got a favorite from me. They're not enough hints in the 8 screens as to the direction of this comic for me, or the creators made the synopsis too damn cool and got my hopes up.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Zuda review Fallen Hunter/ Pretty pictures didn't make it read well

Fallen Hunter is another Zuda comic in the contest this month. Wai Kwong Chan is the creator, here is the synopsis: In the far 2020, life on earth is beyond current imagination: with destructive human activities, it falls into a piece of chaos due to wars and natural disasters. Not much species survive under the harsh environment, namely human beings, war-oriented genetically modified man, human-alike android, and super human (human being with evolution) etc. The only way for any of them to survive is to kill, to hunt and to take control - so as to eliminate others and squeeze their chances of living.

The art's not a problem, but it's not enough

Everyone has their favorite age of comics. For some it's the Silver age, or Bronze age -hell I'm sure somebody out there even loves the Dark age of comics. For myself I love the Golden age, but not so blindly I can't see one of it's most annoying faults. Instead of showing, or telling the reader something a creator decides to show and tell. Meaning you see a picture of an action, and dialogue or text describes just what you can see in the panel. It's redundant and the creator of Fallen Hunter does it twice: Screen1 in panel 4 the text repeats what we already knew thanks to the text in panel 1, Screen 7 panel 4 didn't need the wordage the readers saw what happened. Their were a few translation issues this comic had, but not that many. If Wai wanted he could just pass those slight errors off as the way people talk in his world, no harm no foul. Their is a thought balloon on screen 4, which I'm always glad to see considering the alternative. The rapidly changing word balloons squares, ovals, bursts, for the same characters made no sense. For yelling I can understand the bursts, but on the first screen regular conversational tone we go from a oval to a square. This aspect of the comic is important, and needs some style consistency. The story had a amazon equivalency show up at the end, but nothing catchy in this post apocalyptic tale to get my enduring interest. I don't expect any author to reinvent the wheel. A creator at least making a attempt to change the tires would be appreciated. Meaning don't just do the typical comic we've seen a thousand times before, try to put your own spin on it. I saw nothing in Fallen Hunter to set it apart from other wasteland/Road Warrior style stories. We didn't even get but one explosion in the 8 screens. Their was some humor with the dog, but putting a cherry on top of a cliche doesn't make it more interesting.

How 'bout those fight scenes?

The single lead facing a group of opponents has been done on Zuda before. It's a classic set-up to some action filled scenes which readers get with this comic. The designs on all the characters are fine which helps to make the fight scenes more interesting. A missile being fired up into the air by a dead opponent, and blowing up the leads transport as the fat bad guy falls dead was the highlight of this strip. Good sequential art unencumbered by dialogue for screens 5 and 6. Showing bullets (or darts) suspended mid-air makes for a lame looking panel 2 on screen 7. That visual trick doesn't look good when any artist does it in any comic on Zuda. Panel 3 screen 7 where the lead is feeling the effects of some drug is another example of good design. The comic ends with Scarlett making a guest appearance to help a outback babe carry off Rusty, our lead. Decent danger/mystery cliff hanger ending, but nothing special about it. The only way Wai had to avoid the big criticism of 'seen it before, nothing new here' was to do something to surprise Zuda readers. If Rusty had been killed instead of put to sleep by the bad ass babes that would have been a twist. If Rusty and Lazbomb the dog had fried up the fat man, and started eating him, that would have got my attention! Not just shocking acts for the sake of them, but doing something (anything) unexpected that would leave readers completely unsure of where the story is going -but wanting to find out. As it stands I doubt this comic can get out the votes because it seems too easy to guess where things are headed in screen 9.

[Rusty teams up with the girl's (and maybe their tribe/camp) in due course, to fight against whoever marked him as a wanted man, is what I'm figuring.]

Zuda review The Urban Adventures of Melvin Blank/ Never mind a witness, can we get a character count limit on comic titles at Zuda?

The Urban Adventures of Melvin Blank
(thank you copy paste), is a comic by Bill Williams and Thom Zahler competing on zuda. Why in the word did the creators include the words 'the' and 'urban' at the beginning of the title? Here is the synopsis: Melvin Blank has the mind of a child and the strength of a brute. After the passing of his parents, he lives in his Mother’s house in the heart of a big decaying city. He works as a dishwasher at a nearby greasy spoon and he has his urban adventures as he travels to and from work. Melvin thinks its hilarious that the mass transit system he rides, the City Area Rapid Transit System, is called "the CART", but he doesn't understand why a nearby diner is called "Joe Mama's". In a world of grays, Melvin sees things in black and white. Good and bad. Day and night. Cereal and pizza. Melvin is pretty sure that the house down the street is haunted, but don't worry, he plans to do something about it. He is in love with a beautiful co-worker who has an abusive boyfriend, for now. He is selling items from his parent’s estate to pay for an elaborate headstone for the pair. At home, he has an angry cat named SOCKS and he never, ever misses SPACE PATROL RANGER. Melvin is absolutely sure that he is living the American Dream and he wants to share it with the rest of the people in his neighborhood whether they like it or not. The first story is a complete eight screen story. It has a beginning, middle, and an end. Melvin is like that, he likes things simple. Melvin Blank features a script by Bill Williams (SideChicks) and art & colors by Thom Zahler (Love & Capes).

The most damning thing a person can say about a zuda comic, is the thumb nail does it justice

The best thing about this comic is the writing which could go in any direction. The color scheme killed my interest deader than hell. A problem for the writer and artist is they went for the later on 'big reveal' of Melvin. You want readers to connect with character, we have to see his face sooner than screen 7. How much we like/know Melvin will decide how much we like/ want to read this story, don't make it a mystery. The art didn't grab me, it seemed a typical example of what I would expect to see. The good part was Kasey's expressions was he seriously slightly remorseful, or just playing Melvin? I think his angry scowl in the last panel tells that story. I like strong contrasts in comics, or taking what you would expect to see to the next level. Which in a strip like this would mean going in one of two directions: photo realistic artwork, or what you would expect to find on a mom's fridge times 10. No photo realism -okay fine-, but the art work actually wasn't cartoony enough. If we're seeing this world through Melvin's eyes it would have been a fun trip if the art work played into that more. Perspective out of whack, every body's got a big head, super bright colors... Instead of surprising me and impressing me, the artist's style didn't push any envelopes, or take any risks. It's possible with more screens my view would change, but you only get the 8 to go by. For whatever reason Zhaler's other comic Love and Capes looks a lot better to me. Same guy, same style, so what's the difference? Pre-set expectations for the genre/theme/mood of Melvin's adventures being met but not surpassed. The story does have some layers to it -could go pretty deep-, but then there's the colors. The coloring job looks like it was done by Rose Art crayon's, which makes the colors look faded, muted, - even neutered. If an inanimate ethereal object like a color scheme could suffer that fate.

The script was more impressive than the art, how often does that happen on Zuda?

The text box thought balloons were limited in nature, and well written. I was wondering where Melvin's face was from the get go. The dialogue for Kasey was well written, and damn threatening in the context of the story. It's pretty obvious Kasey thought he was going to take advantage of him, and I was happy to see the tables turned. I also like how Melvin tricked Kasey into a situation to take him out. The text accompanying the full page shot on screen 7, was damn fine characterization. The "made me eat pizza", was a good line and a nice set-up to I'm a hero just like you. I would have liked to have seen more panels in the entry, but it was still a good script from Williams. Bryy was right, the more times you read it -the more you see in it. After a few reads this was another comic I couldn't get past the color job cutting into my enjoyment of the strip.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Zuda review Small Lives/ The animals are a lot better than the people

Small Lives is a June zuda comic done by Marco Palombelli. It got a favorite from me for interesting animals and intriguing screen layouts, but the humanoid character art didn't grab me. Here is the synopsis: Ibn is the most important crossroad land between commercial routes that connect west and east. It's a desert surrounded by green hills and tall mountains and it's inhabited by many different tribes. While those tribes don't claim any control over commercial trades in their lands, the biggest trading companies strive for such control and will overturn the tribal economies for it. In this theater of big players the lives of small people weave the course of the events, small lives like the ones of the members of the White Sail Company, a trading company of a distant land shaken by an endless war, which has a secret objective and a traitor among them, a traitor who will do anything in order to free the one whose death has become the seed for a terrible weapon. While the heads of the tribes plan for a meeting aiming to unveil the causes of the recent difficulties between their peoples, other small lives interweave: the life of a fox, whose memories hold proof of the big trading companies' machinations, gets tied to Threeleaves' -an earth jelly trainer- when the animal's memories awaken transforming the fox into an evil spirit. Everything gets into motion when Threeleaves, not knowing that his journey will be more than just ordinary work, will be employed by the White Sail Company in a journey across the desert...

It's like the desert is a character

The first thing that hits your reading this comic is the great screen composition on screen 1. It is like the desert is a character the way the narration rolls over the panels. You have a whole screen to use, so why not use the whole screen, Marco grasp's this concept. Text outside of the box -well written- I liked very much here. Seeing how well the animals were drawn, and how grabbing this opening screen is made me wish the whole focus of the comic would have been on these animal's lives no talking anamorphism needed. it would have been more daring, and more interesting than pirate traders and crow people. The were-fox going for revenge for the dead baby foxes (a particularly well done screen 6 and esp. panel 7) was a nice touch. The animals drawn in this style have an old school classic strip look to them. The people the creator drew looked like background characters from the Ed, Edd, and Eddy cartoon. The animals were the strong suit, the introduction of people a down turn. I liked the map style red letters letting you know what/where everything was on screen 2. The third eye was also a good touch on Threeleaves. The ant people were fine, but the character designs for the rest looked too much like a cartoon. The Captain had a red farfalle beard I just wanted to rip off his face Ivan The Terrible style. It's a serious story in these 8 screens (wanna' be pretender jelly trainer running off aside), and I like contrasts. Either go with a serious art style (like the foxes), or go exactly the opposite direction with a humorous art style (the people) -don't do both in the same comic even by accident. It's hard to read the letters in the small screen, but the dialogue does a fine job on introducing you to this world, and a fine job on the characterization of Threeleaves. I liked the thought balloon on screen 4. The dialogue was good for the Captain, all the rest of the characters just stood around, but they weren't the focus of the first 8. Given enough screens I'm sure Marco could get me to care if they live or die -which is the ultimate test of characterization. I just don't like the look of them. The profile view of a nose, a mouth, and a forehead Screen2/panel2 and screen 8/panel 2 in particular is something I wished the creator had stayed away from.

The Shepperd is supposed to be the hero, but I was rooting for the foxes

Which explains a damn nice bit of drama when their is a confrontation between these two forces. I don't want to spoil anything for anyone, but screen 5 is a well done action screen which would have been fantastic with more blood/gore to bring that serious point home. Which leads into the acid trip flashback kick ass transformation on screen 6. Marco's closes things out with a furry joke, and Mister Crow talking too much, but he hasn't talked yet in the comic comment. The transformed fox also shows up looking for revenge. The layout of screen 8 was too cartoony for me, and lacked any of the impressiveness of the first screen. A victim of a classic zuda pit fall it gets less impressive as the screens click by, not more impressive. The inbred spawn of Captain crunch and his merry red shirt crew [<- Star Trek reference], didn't help the story with me. it grabbed me good enough for a favorite, but not enough for a vote. The characters design just doesn't measure up to the foxes. I would like to see Marco try again at zuda (if he doesn't make the comeback), and no way in hell should this comic finish dead last in the rankings.
No. Way. In. Hell.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Zuda review The Last Werewolf/ All your bases are belong to us

The Last Werewolf is a June Zuda comic by SEDNA-STUDIO a competitor from China. We have major translation issues in this, very impressive art, and a interesting enough story. it got a favorite from me, but I couldn't vote for it because of the language issues, and another comic I liked more. Here is the synopsis: The Last Werewolf tells an adventure story about a female Bounty Hunter Christina and one mysterious detective Brett. The two of them together will trace the dangerous underground organization called "G". Shortest synopsis in zuda history???

The first thing you have to do is admit you have a problem

The creator is not a native English speaker, and it shows in the dialogue of this comic. The translation went off the rails in a major way somewhere. It also knocked this comic out of the running for my vote. This isn't a judgment on the quality of the words. I'm not saying the dialogue is too bland, or too heavy handed, too wooden or has too many adjectives having a orgy in a word balloon. It's a judgment on my ability to understand, and Sedna didn't pass the native speaker test on making the words sound 'right'. Sound right meaning someone could possibly say the lines in the script if the right opportunity presented itself in real life. Sedna would have been better off to do the comic in his native language and let other readers figure out what was happening from the context. That would actually have been less distracting to me than trying to figure out what Sedna was trying to say. The one place where a loose grasp on English could have been a great help in the style of the story was with the news robot. At first I thought the creator was going for the 'Yoda effect'. Yoda effect meaning you have a character with different physical aspects from humans speak in a unusual manner to further reinforce those differences and add to the characterization. Considering the current state of news papers in the United States I can only imagine most will be gone sometime in the near future. So using a outdated glitch ridden robot to be a paperboy would make sense. Then I read further down the panel and discovered all the characters speak this way. You need help with the translation just post a thread in the zuda message board and I'm sure any number of people would offer to help Sedna or any other creator. I needed help with a Spanish translation and Juan and Andres helped me. I'm sure Sedna would have had a number of options to chose in making his comic sound right. As it was I think I can figure out what Sedna meant to say, but it pulls me out of the world he created to have to re-translate things. You know how annoying commercials can be -well it's like that. If anyone needs help, or just isn't sure all you have to do is ask on the message boards.

Everything else is fantastic

I liked the 'Yoda' like robot, and the weird to my ears sound effects. 'Wong' for the dog barking and the 'Hoorraaayyy!!' for the confrontation. This along with the robot shows their can be some advantages to a few miss-translations. If only that issue was limited to sound effects and robot speech patterns. The story of a cop finds a monster, plus some weird Underworld style babe isn't shockingly new, but the art is amazing. The letters are easy to read, and the creator brought the action for the cliff hanger ending on screen 8. I loved the design of the villain, and the expressiveness of the faces of the characters. Sedna here makes the most out of the space he has in 8 screens, all of the panel composition helps to build towards the end. The art work done on the dismembered corpse was very effective, and throwing the body parts at Brett -nice touch.
The art is fantastic, and the story has promise to get even more interesting. The translation issues are the only thing holding it back, but their enough to cost Sedna a win. I hope the creator tries again (this time with translation help) if he doesn't win this month on zuda.

Zuda review Sketch Me, Deadly/ Noir Zuda, Zuda Noir

Sketch Me, Deadly is a June zuda comic done by newcomer David Gerard Miley. It got a favorite from me, and here is the synopsis: In the early 1950's, Ralph is a Private Eye, who was once a police sketch artist for the LA Police department. The Law has been trying to catch a Mob Boss in the act of criminal activity. The Crime Lord goes to Lacoste, France and so does the LAPD. Along in the villa of Lacoste, Ralph and the LAPD follow the Crime Lord. During his stay Ralph meets a beautiful woman named Bebette who owns a cafe in the villa. Ralph and Bebette have a wonderful relationship until he finds out Bebett is the daughter of the Crime Lord that they've been chasing. The LAPD rushes in immediately to take down Bebette and her father. The Father refuses to admit defeat and defies until a brutal end. Bebette gets shot during the gunfire of her father's gang and the force of the LAPD. Ralph returns to LA, and decides not to be in the LAPD anymore. Doesn't want to remember the past. He settled for something smaller and become a Private eye. Three years have passed and Ralph receives a mysterious letter. A description of a face someone asked him to draw. Later which brings him back to the drawing board to solve a dark mystery. The art reminds me of Charles Burns, so you can't go wrong with that. The inking style, the black and white all reminded me of Burns, I'd be interesting in knowing who David's influences are. The creator here makes use of a number of involving narrative techniques and screen compositions, that impressed the hell out of me and hopefully others. It also had two narrative gaping black holes that left the story not really qualifying for cliff hanger status.

Nice homage in the title, I figure some character is bound to say "kiss me" in this comic

The private eye former sketch artist part to this story was a nice twist that fits the comic medium well. We get a nice cinema style opening that leads into a close up on some shoes, which leads our startled lead Ralph into a flashback. I like the physical objects trigger memory sequence. One of the real shining moments was the Bebette 'interlude'. I figure this was the intent of the creator but on screen 3 panel 1 the town was done in a 'sketch artist' style different from the regular comic. Nice touch that fits the character. The real life questions crossing the demarcation line of his day dream, was good transition to the next screen. I hate text box thought balloons, but they are a noir feature, So keep them on point, and well written. Which is exactly what David did on screen 5. I loved the screen composition on screen 6. All of the panels helped to add to a great layout. The use of the woman's reflection, along with Ralph peaking through the window made for memorable imagery. The last panel was a particularly disturbing visual of Ralph. Panel 1 screen 8, why is Ralph always sprinting wherever he goes? The ending of a persons description brought the sketch artist point home again. That wasn't much of a ending though.

Those narrative black holes...

Where are better hints of the crime lord and Bebette's presumed fate? I love and always read the synopsis, but not everyone does. The consensus of opinion seems to be people don't want to have to read the synopsis to really get the story. To someone who doesn't read the synopsis the Bebette and her crime lord father angle is just completely lost. It's easy enough to gather things didn't end well for the happy couple from the flashback. A panel or two of more visual clues of how its end was related to Ralph's job wouldn't have been a bad idea, it would have been a smart one. Something in the comic showing the crime lord dead as a door nail could also be helpful, the description at the end of the comic sounds like it could be the crime lord, but that's just a guess on my part. You only have 8 screens if the shocker is crime lord and maybe his daughter could still be alive, we need to see that in the comic. 'Ralph starts to draw the sketch and is shocked to see it's the thought dead crime lord', that would be a mystery based cliff hanger. This is my second favorite comic this month, but leaving it in the synopsis failed to grab me enough to get my vote. Seeing Ralph's apartment (cool drawing board) just doesn't have that much of a impact even after reading the synopsis. I think the art/letters/wordage/ are all top notch which is why it's disappointing as hell it didn't fit the zuda format better. Just a panel with a hint of the fates of Bebette and the crime lord could have made a difference. Noir is all about the payoff (or the promise of it) which was a case here of getting to the end, and thinking you missed something important or the creator didn't put it in.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

June zuda review The Corpse Carries A Gun/ Is not -I repeat not- a zombie comic

I love the weird west!

The Corpse Carries a gun is another zuda comic submission from veteran zuda creator Matthew Petz. It got a favorite from me, a vote, and here is the synopsis: Its name is spoken in hushed tones. Campfire tales tell of a spectral avenger cursed to walk the Earth and exact bloody revenge. "THE CORPSE IS UPON YOU!" a horse cry howls through lonely canyons and across parched salt flats. It has been walking for 60 years; saving the innocent and murdering the guilty. Pitiless retribution doled out by a six-shooter, eternally clutched in a rotted fist! Killin' and rightin' wrongs, It is hunted by some, and feared by all. The vampire bats, eerie winged devil things, help point The Corpse and its phantasmal six-shooter towards the retribution it MUST dole out. Aided by The Bear, a beast that commands respect, it alone would unnerve the prairies... but when The Corpse comes to town upon The Bear's back...there ain't no chance in this ninth circle of hell of an outcome other than bloody. The Corpse is the incarnation of all that is terrible. Haunted by Its task, It cannot waiver. It must continue to roam, no matter the cost. The same elemental force that drives It's hip cannon, gravitates It towards the weird and lulls the grotesque to it. Giant Crabs, Hoodoo Dinosaurs, Time Travel, Indians, Aliens, and beyond. All must reckon with THE CORPSE!

Yet another zombie comics rant of mine

The corpse carries a gun is not a zombie comic for a very simple reason. Zombie comics are not about the zombies, they're about the mortal human survivors struggle to keep on keeping on. This comic is about a animated corpse who is a vengeful wraith out to right wrongs, but the corpse is the obvious lead. Should a whole bunch of brain eating zombies show up and the narrative focus change to normal folk -then it would be a zombie comic. I love the way this comic ended: vote for me or you may never see these stories! Then we see our title character crossing paths with a T-Rex, Indian Princess, and The Corpse with a laser gun out in space! Talk about weird west pulp fiction this is it. I know Dan (Pathnine) talked about the same basic idea, and I welcome more creators to do things along these lines. The first seven screens are all about the character, and I loved the characterization. The letters are easy to read, and the colors are phenomenal! The art was impressive to me throughout the comic. Three panels really stood out at me: screen 2 panel 2 was stark as hell. Screen 6 panel 3 is a damn cute bear cub and I don't even like animals. That 'fella must have been a sick sick bastard to want to kill the poor little thing. The full page shot on screen 7 of the Corpse riding on the bear in a Long Ranger and Silver style poise -I only wish the creator would have zoomed in on them for more impact and shown a little less scenery. Riding a bear and being led by bats really adds some bells and whistles to the revenge from beyond the grave stereotype. I only wished when we saw that body hanging, The Corpse could have been rubbing at a Hang'em High style scar on his neck. With all the different elements here your invoking a bit of the feeling old Heap stories have for me. Considering the fact we have a undead avenger here, their is a appropriate amount of people getting their heads blown off.

Text boxes and story structure

No matter how cool a comic is (and this comic got my vote), doing the old third person text box narration is always going to be a more passive read. I understand sometimes the way stories are set-up that is the direction you have to go in, but it still takes longer to grab readers than stories that throw you right in the middle of a well written exchange between two characters. I guess the only other way you could have done it, would be some villain that knew The Corpse's history doing a voice over to go along with the visuals. If the Corpse isn't going to talk that much maybe leave off the narration after this and let readers draw their own conclusions to his motivations.
I've written before on the three types of story structure I see on Zuda. You have Cliff hanger ending stories, complete in 8 screen tales, and lastly you have the movie trailer overview, which is what you get here with Corpse. I happen to like the overview way of doing 8 screens, but judging by comments here and on past comics it's the least popular way to do things, if slightly more common that complete tales. The objective of the different story structures is of course the same -to get you to vote for the comic. The question whats the best way to go about doing that, which also fits their own personal style. I'm guessing from Petz's comments the history of the Corpse is involved, plus you don't want to give it all away. So we get a quick peak at his history, his ways of operating, and a nice touch preview of some of the Corpse's future adventures. It got my vote and you should give it a read.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Neil Sanzari preview/ Goo Goo's Changeling A Zuda hopeful

Goo Goo's Changeling

This is a preview screen from Neil Sanzari's Goo Goo's Changling which is a Zuda hopeful to make it into the contest, and from their to victory. Neil e-mailed me a preview of the comic/character sketches/ thoughts about it etc; I enjoyed what I read, Neil asked if I could get the word out -so here it is. I love supernatural elements in stories, I also think Zuda doesn't need any more of the expected and beat to death 'monsters'. In this story you have a custody fight between a beguiling witch from Chinatown named Goo Goo, and a a cherub-turned-leprechaun, but a demon just the same called Darby Daystar. It's a custody fight between two supernatural powerful parents, it's been a long while since I've seen that type of story so it was welcomed by me. The era the comic is set in is pre civil war New York. Of course the two parents various efforts are playing hell with the border between the mundane and not so mundane worlds. I also liked their child Danny B'hoy is going to end up running away on the mean streets of New York City. I could guess how this story might end, but I wouldn't want to put any money on it. The promise of numerous kinds of directions/resolutions grabbed me as a reader, as I'm sure it would others should it make it onto Zuda.

Everyone knows how much I hate text box thought balloons, but I was impressed with a interesting narrative technique Neil came up with for this story. We have a talking rat in a top hat as narrator, and Edgar Allen Poe filling the role of a Greek chorus. Yeah it's weird, but I enjoyed the weirdness. it helps to draw you into this world that Sanzari created. The first 8 screens are devoted to the parents confrontation it has interesting images in it's screen composition, and enjoyable dialogue. It's in slang those who enjoy that (like me), will love the dialogue, those who don't like slang can still follow the story with no difficulty.

The art style and presentation reminds me of Spelunkers guide to the City. Conflicts between 'our' world and the Fey is a genre that doesn't get enough use by creators. In this comic their are some horror filled moments along with absurdest humor in some of the panels. It also has some disturbing -in the cool as hell sense- imagery. The only thing I didn't like were the word balloons, but I have no idea what they will look like through the zuda viewer. The opening and closing of this comic might seem like gratuitous weirdness, but I enjoy it when creators don't play it safe and push the limits of 8 screens which is what Neil did. The story is also very focused which is a weakness of some zuda creators, not getting the most out of their screens. You have conflict, and great characterization in the dialogue you understand the driving themes of this story. I hope very much that Neil Sanzari gets the chance to show the rest of the zuda community what he has created -an impressive comic strip.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Supermen! by Greg Sadowski review/ so I'm doing book reviews now

The proto-golden age lives!!!

Supermen! the first wave of comic book heroes 1936-1941:
Is a collection of comics edited by Greg Sadowski and published by Fantagraphics. It has the stereotypical and expected forward done by Jonathan Lethem. In various interviews Sadowski has said he doesn't care for the golden age heroes fighting the axis powers which explains the point where he ended this collection. It also explains his comments about maybe doing another volume from the pre WW II period of comics. A few comics got cut like the wonderman story, and the Comet's first appearance, from the preview he gave various reviewers. That Wonderman story could be making an appearance in a Esiner book Sadowski talked about doing. If you have a hankering for golden age downloads (I usually do) become a member at Golden age comics then head on over here. You can also catch some of the stories that didn't make the cut in the Supermen book, and read more of your favorite semi-forgotten characters. I do understand the limits of page counts in print. Supermen does have a wide ranging mix of character types, art and story styles, not to mention genres, it's not all the cape and cowl brigade. It addition to early superheroes, you have sci-fi, horror, and adventure elements.

The creators whose names I recognized are: Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Fred Guardineer, Bill Everett, Will Esiner, Lou Fine, Jack Kirby, Fletcher Hanks, Jack Cole, Gardner Fox, Basil Wolverton, and Joe Simon.

The characters who I had known about before are: The Flame, Stardust, Comet, Fantomah, Skyman, Claw, Silverstreak, Daredevil [one of my favorite golden age heroes] Spacehawk, and Blue Bolt.

It was a thrill for me to be able to hold this book in my hands and read the stories that way instead of only off my computer screen. [micro-fiche makes me murderous] I was also surprised by my reaction to some of the stories. A character I had always wanted to read turned out to be a bit of a let down, in other cases I read impressive stories by creators I never would have known about if it wasn't for this book.

Hit's and misses

The Flame: from Wonderworld comics was a surprising letdown for me. I first saw the cover to Wonderworld comics #7 years ago in Overstreet and always wanted to read that story, until I read it. It's got a great plot with a zombie like (but not actual zombies) race discovered and put into bondage by our villain. It has a few really impressive panels Greg Land or any other artist couldn't go wrong doing a homage to. The story and art is by Esiner and Fine, but it doesn't get the job done grabbing me as a reader. I even like The Flame's gimmick -a flame gun. In the case of this story the collaboration of these two great talents just didn't add up to being a fantastic story. Yarko the Great by Esiner on the other hand was a damn impressive all the way around story in the Mandrake the magician school of characters. You get another magician story in this book Marvelo which has great art thanks to Guardineer, but the light on entertainment story by Fox proves again that 'names' don't always hit it out of the park.

The Face: & SkyMan: My favorite finds in this book were the artists Mart Bailey on The Face, and Ogden Whitney on Skyman. [A character I had heard about, but never had a chance to read] Gardner Fox turned in a good story for The Face, and Bailey's art is amazing. I agree whole heartedly with Sadowski that the art work of Bailey was key to The face's staying power. The Face is one of those characters that just needed a few more bell's and whistles in the gimmicks department to make it a impressive character. Whitney didn't thrill me with his plane drawing skills in Skyman, but I was impressed with his style in drawing the characters.

The Comet: Reading the Comet I see where Stan Lee got the idea for Cyclopes. His way of holding his visor to blast someone is just like Cyclopes did it in the early days of X-Men. The change from a blast that melts someones head to force beams sounds like a comics code adaptation. Comet's first appearance was pulled for his third appearance, known for the body count of those he killed here Comet kills two crooks, two cops, and blows up a cop car thanks to being brain washed. Comet does have a interesting history that Sadowski goes into in his notes, being the first superhero killed in the line of duty.

The Clock: was another surprise to me, an early vigilante that actually doesn't kill his opponents, or at least says he doesn't. You would have thought damn near every hero in the golden age was a serial killer, and you would be right. It's nice to know that back then creators were zigging while others were zagging.

Blue Bolt: by Simon and Kirby is in no way as entertaining to me as their run on Captain America Comics, but it's still a fine read. I happen to love the superheroes versus the Axis powers period in comics for a number of reasons. If your the type of fan that doesn't care for golden age heroes fighting the good fight, or love Sci-fi as a genre you will probably gravitate more towards Blue Bolt.

Silver Streak (the hero named after the comic which was named after a car) reads like -I shit you not- what if you crossed The Flash with MacGyver? It's another one of those stories that turned out to be a let down, but now I know.

What is good art in a comic book?

Here's a quote from a SciFipulse.Net interview: Sadowski: I guess the most revelatory thing was in seeing that the vast majority of what was printed in those days was garbage. There’s probably less than ten percent that’s worth revisiting. Some have written that I chose artists strictly for their name value, but the truth is that after you’ve gone through hundreds of golden age books, the same guys stop you time after time: Cole, Eisner, Everett, Fine, Hanks, Kirby, Wolverton, and every now and then a few others. That’s how they became “name” artists in the first place - because they were the best.

This same fine fellow (who as I understand it is doing a book on Centaur's publications heroes), says that the 'vast majority' of comics stories was garbage back in the day? Want to walk that bullshit statement back some Greg? If my spidey sense was cynical it would tell me if the sales are there Greg will find enough material to do a volume three. This was a needless insult to a lot of may they rest in peace creators in defense of a charge that not only is true, but Sadowski doesn't need to defend against. The truth is Greg spent more page space in the book for names instead of hunting for the next Fletcher Hanks (Fero the planet detective aside), because names do sell, their is a market for comic legends early hard to find work, and the book comes with a price tag because people need to get paid -otherwise no more books. Fletcher Hanks didn't become a name artist because he was one of the best. Hell until fairly recently Hanks wasn't even a 'name' at all. Sadowski missed his chance to find the next really unique, not technically proficient creator in early comics and make that person a star. If you slap the 'outsider artist' label on someone the art doesn't have to be good in the conventional sense, just a 'out there' rendering of a creators own vision. I should say I think Fletcher drew Stardust ten feet tall because he wanted him to be ten feet tall, not because his technical skills were so poor he didn't know better. If it's true Sadowski had trouble finding comics to include not because of their scarcity, but because of the quality of the work why not send up a help flare in internetland? Threads here, there, and everywhere asking for suggestions, maybe even get a number of pairs of eyes to read over the proposed content with him. Their could also have been some value in showing some of those 'horrible' stories of that era (wonderman), to knock off that halo of awesomeness that has developed around the comics of the golden age.

No I don't want my money back

The looking for names debate aside, it's a damn fine collection. I am a huge Daredevil fan so of course I loved that one of those early Silver Streak stories got included in this book. I found out about some really impressive artists I had never heard of before. My focus tends to be on the period of the golden age immediately following this one, so my curiosity to see what came before played a major part in my purchase. The end notes are very well done and insightful into the creators, especially the creators who used aliases. If you have a interest in the golden age of comics you should give this book a purchase, and Sadowski should stop giving interviews.