Tiempos Finales, vol. 1
by Samuel Hiti
It's so refreshing to come across a book that looks like nothing else I've seen before. The art, reproduced in two-tone (black and brown), is something of a cross between Paul Pope and Goseki Kojima. We get long establishing shots and travel montages, grotesque creatures and tension-filled battle sequences. The plot involves a being of light who is sent to possess a host on Earth to stop a demonic creature from rampaging through the five towns of San Pablo. There are a couple of passages--some kids in the street in the middle and a woman and her donkey at the very end--which don't seem to contribute to the narrative, but maybe they'll make more sense in the second volume (nine volumes are planned). Otherwise, this is a great self-contained story. It's only $10, so go buy it.
Rating: 4 (of 5)
A Child's Life and Other Stories
by Phoebe Gloeckner
This collection of stories, spanning almost 20 years of Gloeckner's career, all deal with sex, and often rather explicitly. More specifically, girls and women in unhealthy circumstances and sexual relationships, and the events in their lives that led them to the places they are in. Many of the stories deal with a specific set of events in the life of a girl--alternately called Minnie, Mary, Magda or Penny--involving an absent father, an abusive stepfather and a meek and enabling mother. If there's a downside to this collection, it is that in seeing the similar themes played over and over they lose some of the impact that they would have had separately; this is probably a case where the total is not equal to the sum of the parts. Gloeckner is trained in medical illustration, a fact that is in evidence in the set of paintings, drawings and etchings that rounds out this book, but chooses to use the form and style of underground comix for her sequential work. In truth, I find myself to bit a bit inadequate to properly judge A Child's Life and Other Stories, seeing as I am neither female nor familiar with the world in which most of her characters live. But I think it's good, if often disturbing, work.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)