I had close to zero money at MoCCA. I mean like maybe sixty bucks, tops. That’s why I didn’t buy a ton of books I’d never heard of that looked interesting, or some of the books you’re reading about at other sites, proclaiming the “book of MoCCA”– I didn’t get to have that experience. Maybe I blew it because I bought books I could easily get other places, I dunno. But I wasn’t wasting my money trying out “Shit Stain Comix #7″ or “The Generic Tales of Angst Collection”, so I opted to pick up some books by creators I really love.
Written by Brian Wood
Art by Becky Cloonan
DEMO, a twelve issue limited series by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan, is a story of youth and the relationships we have with each other, shot through the lens of a superhero comic. To completely oversimplify it, as I’ve heard some do with this title, “X-Men with real people”. Originally released on AiT/Planet Lar, it was collected and reprinted by Vertigo in trade paperback format.
A huge fan of Wood’s newer work, from Local on to DMZ, the New York Four, and Northlanders, I’ve held off buying DEMO in its current version just on the quality of the trade. A flimsy cover, newsprint paper; I’m not sure if it’s going to fall apart, tear, or fade first. I knew the book would be excellent. Too many people I know and whose opinions I respected enjoyed it too much for that not to be the case. But come on, Vertigo, step up your game with these trades. You’re not even printing this in color, the least you could do is put it on some glossy paper. Alas, apparently only Grant Morrison and Neil Gaiman get the treatment (and not even all the time.) However, seeing Wood’s table at MoCCA I decided it was stupid to keep waiting and picked it up. I’m pleased to report that my decision was a good one: DEMO is fantastic.
Each issue of DEMO is the story of another kid with powers. Not linking them in any discernible fashion, Wood instead chooses to use each story as a character study on what it means to be young. As each chapter passes you’re convinced that Wood is putting a bit of himself on the page as well, with an emotional honesty that too few “mainstream” comics writers tend to put into their work. I’m sure the book is easier to relate to for younger generations but anyone willing to remember that time in their lives when they were at their most vulnerable will have an easy time relating to this work. Yes, the characters all have powers– but it’s not like they’re all standing around, wondering what to do with this great new responsibility, stopping crime and forming a superteam. There’s no supervillians to fight. The only real antagonists in each story is themselves, and their own demons. It’s just a bunch of people dealing with their own shit, who also happen to have extraordinary abilities. The abilities themselves aren’t what dictate the flow of the story, and at times the stories seemed void of superpowered individuals at all.
Becky Cloonan’s manga-inspired artwork accentuates these themes nicely, and each of the stories is different, stylistically, than the last. How much of this is Cloonan and how much is Wood’s direction I can’t be sure but I do know that she executes it to great effect. Some stories have quick, sharp lines giving a sense of urgency impelling us forward, while others have heavily inked, thick lines that give off a feeling of foreboding or mystery. There are some misses, but when she hits her mark (which is often) the results are gorgeous.
I find it hard to believe they won’t release DEMO in some super-deluxe-hardcover-whatever version, but until then, as someone who waited to read it, I say just go pick this up. Smart writing, nice artwork, and good, human storytelling.
Tales Designed to Thrizzle, Volume One
Written and designed by Michael Kupperman
I touched on Kupperman’s genius in my review of Thrizzle #5
, and getting the hardcover collection of his first four issues helps reaffirm my beliefs. What else can I say? This man is to comedy what Zappa was to music. A true visionary. Now, here is a picture he drew of a guy wearing a beehive for a hat.
Mome Vol. 15
My birthday is in October. Buy me the rest of these.
Fantagraphics is one of those publishers who whenever they release a book I tend to have my eye on it. I mean the track record of this company speaks for itself. So, when looking for a book to have signed by Dash Shaw (I forgot my copy of Bottomless Bellybutton) I instinctively picked up this new Mome edition, showcasing a ton of great artists talented enough to fly under the Fantagraphics banner.
Shaw’s contribution to the book, entitled My Entire High School… Sinking Into the Sea! is probably my favorite. As you might imagine, it’s a story of his high school being engulfed by water which features the details of his teachers’ and students’ demise (“Mr. Brinson, math teacher grades nine to eleven– I had him in grade nine– head split open by the falling flagpole.”) and Dash’s attempt at saving his girlfriend. The comic is in color, but beautifully overlayed in two color shades. No figure is specifically filled in, but rather he breaks the page into two or three shaded, gradient sections of oranges and blues which create a rather striking water-color effect. As always Shaw shrugs off convention with his panels (can you call them that?), and the way the story is laid at times makes you claustrophobic, and at other times makes it feel as if the rushing water was coming after you directly. It’s really quite striking.
Some of the other standouts include Tim Hensley’s contribution Jillian in “Spoilers”
, which is a great throwback-style comic; Delia’s Glove
by Nate Neal, which has a great underground “comix” aesthetic; the beautiful linework of Robert Goodin’s Living Like a Pig
; the always fantastic Paul Hornschemeier; Max’s mini-comic insert The Confederacy of Villains;
and Noah Van Sciver, who apparently got the bulk of the storytelling talent in his family
Mome is one of those real treats that’s equal parts entertaining, inspiring, and informative. A pleasure to read, and a great way to stay abreast of some of the best talent in comics.