My first try with the Monthly Reads series has been a success. People have in fact read it contrary to expectations, and I discovered that it allows me a couple of things: mainly of hinting at elements of a story which I found notable but not so big as to justify an entire post, and of spreading the name of contemporary counterculture writers whom I like, without posting a simple advertisement to this or that Kickstarter campaign (a thing I have nothing against, but that I want to avoid on the basis that people just look at those posts distractedly).
Now we do the same thing with comics, though once every two months because I read less comics than prose fiction.
Mark Pellegrini, Timothy Lim – Kamen America Vol. 2
It’s a shame that I start to talk about Kamen America from the second volume, given how much deserving this comic is (and its crowd-funding success speaks for it). A sapient mixing of America and Japan, the story follows the steps of Carly Vanders, as she experiences an incident that turns her into a powerful weapon. Carly will soon put her newly found powers in service for good (that is, fighting giant monsters) as Kamen America, but soon we find her struggling with the mass media system which has made an industry out of the monsters that started appearing following the same incident that gave Carly her powers.
Much of the second volume revolves around the intent of an agent to catch the public’s attention away from Carly. We already know him from Vol. 1 – he was at first Carly’s agent – and we know he is doing all he can to stop her from getting recognized as a hero. This time he comes up with a shameless clone: Kamen UN, who, for worse, is no less than an old acquantaince of Carly.
It is a funny, light-hearted comic that becomes very wholesome when things get serious, and as serious things I don’t mean vapid philosophy, but daily-life moral questions, faced with simplicity and tact. In no way the comic is preaching at you but it is rather telling a moral story so rooted in good sense that no moralizing is needed. The story talks for itself. There is very good manga-like action, both in battle scenes and gags, and the colors are one of the rare cases where digital art shines out.
I think you can either find it on Iconic Comics or by keeping an eye on Lim’s Kickstarter profile. You’ll be able to get all the episodes once another campaing starts for the following episode (Vol. 4 at the time I’m writing). Or just follow Lim and Pellegrini on Twitter.
Jesse White, Crown of Iron Part 1
As many people are starting to get acquainted with Jesse after the successful crowfunding of Deus Vult, I thought it useful to talk about this other project of his. Jesse has got his own Patreon where he monthly releases instances of two of his on-going series, in single-page format. His stories are old-school pulps in both aesthetic, structure and theme.
To my understanding, Crown of Iron is a comic rendition of the script written by John Millius (sequel to Conan the Barbarian) which never got on film. On this basis is a really interesting project but I, who was ignorant of the existence of this script, find the comic enjoyable on its own.
As stated in the title we are still on Part 1, where the story is set up. Conan meets the Frost Giant’s Daughter, who exchanges with him two promises, one about her love and the other about the son that will be conceived.
Jesse’s classical illustration style always catches the eye, with his smooth lines and the masterful craft he shows in drawing anatomy. But praiseworthy as well are his inking, that confers a dramatic feature to the comic and underlines both motion and emotion (they are an essential part of the narration), and the pacing. Both because of the single-page structure and the adherence to old-school Marvel storytelling, the comic does not waste time and space in unnecessary detail, or trying to be something it is not (another point of strength: Jesse is taking inspiration from a movie script but knows he is not making a movie), and shoots all his bullets in merciless, and enthusiastic, succession.
You can find the story on Jesse’s Patreon.
Moebius, La Citadelle Aveugle
Someone should have told Moebius that he was only good as an artist, and as regards writing a story he was less clever than he thought.
This is a collection of very short comics (variable length), written and drawn by the man himself. It spaces from traditional fantasy to science fiction to more realistic stories, from fables to erotic tales (I wasn’t aware of that, mom) to (poor) social commentary. What keeps this salad together is its least palatable characteristic: they usually end abruptly and in useless tragedy.
I love Moebius as an artist, and I reasonably knew he was not near my alley philosophically, but far from being good stories by a very different mind, the works in this collection are the epitome of hippie Boomerism in art. The most promising stories have no point, their tragic endings have no meaning. The social commentary is full of nauseating hippie takes which were frankly stupid in the ’60s already and are tasteless now to all people smart enough to have their own thought. The erotic tale featuring a teenage girl is the most forgiveable thing and that should tell you something.
Avoid this at all costs. I hope that at least L’Incal, what should be his most famous work, is way better than this.
Also I do not seem able to find an English edition for this, so you just have to trust me.
That’s it for now. This month I should be able to increase my output of posts, so stay tuned!