Graphic Novel “The New York Four”

The New York Four cover image
The New York Four cover image
Brian Wood (DMZ, DEMO) writes about something he knows pretty intimately, NYC. Add in accurate to life art from Ryan Kelly to the witty writing style and you’ve got a good novel.

Although I’m not sure Minx will survive as an imprint. Hopefully it does well with it’s target, I’m guessing, young(ish) female audience. Or someone! It looks like there’s a few gems in there that could work up to classics like La Perdida or Love & Rockets.

In any case our store follows along our protagonist through the foibles of starting up college at NYU on an true to life New York City -scape (although they don’t mention Dumpling Man on St. Marks. For shame.) and making new friends.

It’s a fairly clever and entertaining slice of life story, hopefully to be followed by more. Check it out.

Genshiken at an End: Genshiken Volume 9

Kio Shimoku’s slice of life manga on the happenings of a group of high-school Otaku is at an end. Genshiken: The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture volume 9 wraps up the series and ends on a somewhat longer note than the original from Kodansha’s Afternoon (from which the series was reprinted).

Genshiken Volume 9The same dense art that originally had me pick up the series continues through the last book. Panel’s are filled out with expressive character action and the dialog tends toward wordplay and conversation rather than a trade of statements some manga writers over-use.

Almost all the characters that appear through the series are present for the finale. The only notable absence was the creepy former club president, who hasn’t shown up since the early issues of the series.

So all-in-all it’s a somewhat more satisfying ending than the original print release. It’s already gracing my bookshelf, go check it out.

Just Read Outlaw Nation

Just read Outlaw Nation by Jamie Delano, Goran Sudzuka, and Goran Parlov. It’s essentially a classic meandering American tale written by a British writer to show what he saw in our country on his travels. It misses a lot of the veneer and really cuts to the heart of the States.

Also, the storyline proves to be a bit prophetic what with the clamp down on American civil liberties in the wake of 2001.

Outlaw Nation illustrates the death of the American Spirit in pursuit of the American Dream, to steal a line from the liner notes. That’s truly the best way to phrase it, and an interesting perspective you don’t often get in native tales.

The story follows Story Johnson, a zonked out ex-writer and member of the somewhat extraordinary Jones clan. The Johnsons are a particularly long lived specimen of American that started out from a brutal act in the Old West and carry on the raucous Western spirit. Even in the face of encroaching government intervention and the new world order.

Almost poetically, Americans aren’t portrayed as being good or bad, and are mostly (seen through the eyes of our character, a native son) our own worst enemies.

Even though the yarn raps up early the story romps at a good pace and satisfies. As the author states, in light of the events happening in the real world post-publishing, it comes off a lot cleaner than he had intended.

Grab a copy, it’s a good read.

Transmetropolitan: Seriously Racy, an Excellent Read

I just finished reading Transmetropolitan (Wikipedia warning: spoilers), the 60 issue comic series by industry veterans Warren Ellis (story) and Darick Robertson (art). By the end of the series run I was starting to wonder if someone over at DC had fallen asleep on the censorship switch. In an age where showing a pasty on TV during a super bowl halftime show gets a public uproar I’m surprised that a Warner Brothers label has the cojones to publish such a racy story line.

To be honest, both the language and artwork are more what I expect out of a no-holds-barred outfit like Heavy Metal Publishing rather than the tame DC Vertigo imprint. Although to be fair Transmetropolitan started it’s life on the quickly killed Helix line which was more of a mature reader Sci-Fi/Fantasy label than the “quirky” (and somewhat schizophrenic) Vertigo lineup.

What we usually get out of comics are yet more stories about super heroes, would be super heroes, people who are pretty heroic but not quite super, or dystopian anti-heroes with super powers. Warren Ellis forgoes the easy comic book cliches (this time around) and instead settles on writing about Spider Jerusalem a journalist who’s only powers are an incredible capacity for drugs and an uncanny ability to ferrit out the story.

Set in a fantastical not-quite-dystopia based on the modern day US, Ellis takes us through his fears and hopes for the future. Pervading the entire Transmet series is a sense that this is Ellis’s personal rant on what’s going on in the world given life through Spider and Ellis’s exceptional talent for telling interwoven stories.

The sometimes protagonist Spider is a take on journalist Hunter S. Thompson and the name is a nod to Spider Robinson. Both of these are pretty obvious, Spider Robinson being the only “Spider” anything that comes to mind in literature and Hunter S. Thompson having a larger-than-life writing style equivelent to the way Spider’s character is put to paper.

Transmetropolitan really worked for me as a graphic novel. Most of the “stuff” available currently is either poorly drawn (in the case of many manga series) or poorly written (in the case of many comic book series) or in some cases both. To the contrary Transmet has an unconventional story line and excellent, intricate artwork that resonates off the page. It’s definately worth the $7.99(USD) price of entry, and if you’re like me the rest of the series will be following shortly after.