Saturday, July 02, 2005

Best of May & June

In this post I'm reprinting reviews of items for which I gave a rating of 4 or better in the months of May & June:

Why Did Pete Duel Kill Himself?
by Mark Kalesniko
Pete Duel, in case you're wondering, was the star of the early 70s tv show Alias Smith and Jones. The opening scene of this graphic novel finds Alex, a teenaged dog-headed boy, wondering why a successful adult like Duel would possibly want to committ suicide. We then flashback to episodes in Alex's childhood, and see how Alex, a sensitive child, suffered any number of humiliations big and small and the hands of both kids and adults; those special kinds of humiliations reserved for those who don't quite fit in anywhere. Kalesniko hits the notes perfectly, showing Alex's trials of childhood in anecdotes of various lengths. Alex is the only character who appears with the head of a dog, an interesting metaphorical choice that serves not only to show Alex's alienation, but also affords Kalesniko an palate of expressions to drawn on. Though depressing, this is a strong piece of work.
Rating: 4 (of 5)

2 Sisters: A Super-Spy Graphic Novel
by Matt Kindt
It seems unlikely that such a large tome (334 pages!) cold somehow fly under my radar, but 2 Sisters went unnoticed by me until I saw it on the shelf at the library. What I found was an excellent work of WWII-era spy fiction. Kindt tells the story of Elle, an young woman from the English countryside who by circunstance finds herself spying against the axis powers in the midst of the war. Through flashbacks, we get a look at Elle's upbringing, as well as brief glimpses into the backgrounds of other people she meets, and it all ties in somehow with ancient Greece and 19th-century pirates (though I won't ruin the story by telling you how). It's a taut thriller, and Kindt pulls out some nifty graphical storytelling techniques as well to visualize the hidden and unseen world of spycraft. He also shows a mastery of pacing, moving the reader along at just the right pace, pausing for flashbacks that can be either slow and melancholy or breif clips depending on the mood. If you want a glimpse at what the future of mainstream comics could be, look not to the latest super-hero mega-crossover, but instead pick up a copy of 2 Sisters.
Rating: 4 (of 5)


charles bukowski said...

I've become a fan of kalisniko but info on him is very hard to find...if you come up with anything, please post. Also, anything new on Joe Sacco? What do you think of his stuff? Thx for the 2 sisters tip - I plan to check it out.

Dave said...

All I know about Kalisniko is that he did Why Did Pete Duel Kill Himself?

I like Joe Sacco well enough. I've read The Fixer and a handful of his shorter works too.

charles bukowski said...

I suggest you check out Kalisniko's "Mail Order Bride" then, you will probably like it ... great line drawing with a substantive (and disturbing) story...