Monday, August 16, 2004

Quick GN Reviews

Quick reviews on thick things with spines:

The Sandwalk Adventures
by Jay Hosler
I couldn't help feeling a bit disappointed with this one. I suspect that's because with Hosler's previous effort, Clan Apis, I learned a lot about bees, of which I knew very little about previously. This time Hosler's subject is the theories of Charles Darwin, notably natural selection, of which I already knew quite a bit. Plus, by restricting the subject specifically to Darwin, Hosler was not able to present further developmets in evolutionary theory (except for in the notes at the end). Still, Hosler manages once again to take potentially dry subject matter and inject it with fun and humor. Let this serve as an entertaining introduction to Darwin and take it from there.
Rating: 4 (of 5)

Bucky Katt's Big Book of Fun
by Darby Conley
I suspect many are already familiar with Darby Conley's Get Fuzzy strip from the newspapers or online. I'd previously read the first Get Fuzzy colection, The Dog Is Not a Toy, but found it underwhelming. Fortunately I checked out this treasury edition of the strip from the library and find it to be much improved. Much of the stuff in this volume is funny, with a mixture of short one-day gags and longer storylines that make for a succesful humor strip. Conley's cartooning skill has improved as well, although I must admit that his freakish-looking dogs and cats still give me the hoodees now and again.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

Shadow Star, vol. 2: Darkness Visible
by Mohiro Kitoh
The fresh-eyed innocence of the first volume is replaced by a stronger sense of menace, as Shiina faces off against an older (and decidedly male) possesser of a much large alien star-creature. (Really, the Freudian imagery is dripping off the page sometimes!) We also break away from Shiina ina couple of episodes to take a look at government reaction and a group of 'evil' star-creature owners. The art is mostly gorgeous, although a bit sparse on backgrounds from time to time. I'm looking forward to reading the next volume.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

The Sandman Presents: Taller Tales
by Bill Willingham and various artists
Prior to Fables, Willingham did a lot of Sandman-related work, much of which is collected here. The stories found herein are entertaining, if lacking much of the depth of Gaiman's original work. The lead story, "Merv Pumpkinhead, Agent of D.R.E.A.M.," is a fun homage/pastiche of Bond-type spy thrillers, with a guy with a jack-o-lantern for a head. "The Further Adventures of Danny Nod, Heroic Library Assistant" gives us a tour of various books come to life in the Dreaming, and is full of great pull-out library quotes (i.e. "An assistant librarian must live as much by his wits as his martial skills.") The best of the bunch, and also the longest, is the four part "The Thessaliad," which reunites artist Shawn McManus with the witch Thessaly. Rounding out the collection is the lightweight "Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Dreams... But Were Afraid to Ask," which exists primarily to show off the art of Ducnan Fegredo, Kevin Nowlan, Mark Buckingham and others. Speaking of the art, it's pretty much top-notch all the way around, especially from Buckingham on the lead story and from McManus. Worth a read if you're a Sandman fan and caught up on your Fables reading.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

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