Plowing through the wall of electric custodial.

*Cripes, did all this stuff seriously come out this week? I know I totally forgot “Sharknife” (which never showed at my store to remind me), but new “Zap”? I recall seeing some ad in “The Comics Journal” or thereabouts offering a discount on a ‘Zap Pack’ of every issue (including the new one) bundled together. Ah, here it is. I imagine that would be money well spent, though I’ve seen a bunch of the stuff in anthologies. I do like that Victor Moscoso fellah, though (and I think Fantagraphics is finally getting that hardcover collection of his work out this summer).

*Where are you, Blogger? Damn, one could swear you’re a free service or something with the way you act! Well, here’s a review.

Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities #1 (of 4)

My early reservations duly considered, I can now say with confidence that is actually is a genuinely brisk and entertaining yarn, filled with lovely art and inoffensive scripting and not a dearth of style. It’s the sort of ‘pure fun’ comics I can usually go for.

Quite a bit of the effect is the fault of Kyle Hotz, who serves up some great character designs and gorgeous staging. Indeed, I was going to have you compare the cover by writer/colorist (and how often to you see that designation?) Eric Powell to some samples of Hotz’s interior art, but it looks like Dark Horse’s preview pages are broken down and I don’t have a scanner. So you’ll just have to take my word that the somewhat reserved, sleek Billy the Kid on Powell’s cover is replaced inside with a perpetually disheveled baby-faced scowler with long dirty hair and big expressive lips. His face scrunches up and stretches out to convey disgust and anger, which he does quite often: Powell takes no steps to make Billy even remotely likable, as he constantly berates and insults the cadre of freaks he’s fallen in with… but I’m ahead of myself already.

Powell sets the book up as a fairly typical heist story, with the presumed-dead Billy being confronted on a train by the owner of a ‘Traveling Spectacle of Biological Curiosities’, himself a three-armed anomaly (the reveal of his true nature is beautifully subtle; I didn’t even catch it the first time around). Billy’s amazing pistol skills will be needed to steal an allegedly cursed jewel known as the Golem’s Heart, due to its involvement in a certain ancient legend. Billy doesn’t take kindly to the curiosities; naturally, he’s the truly vile one among such strange sights as the enormous head of psychic Madame Tinsel (cannily positioned against big objects in almost every panel to emphasize her overall short stature as contrasted with her overlarge skull-to-body ratio) or the wonderfully designed Alligator Man, not at all like the semi-cute anthropomorphic as seen on the cover, but in possession of a roundly human head dominated by huge teeth, fixed into a permanent grin, with thin yellow eyes atop his brow. I don’t mean to bash Powell’s work or his own art; indeed, Powell has wisely tailored his script to the drafting strengths of his artist, and he drops small hints of a mystic undercurrent surrounding the milieu of disjointed Americana.

And with everyone off to Europe at the conclusion of this issue, in pursuit of a big shiny rock that’s apparently a keystone (excuse the pun) of an Eastern European myth, in the possession of one Dr. Frankenstein, he of self-built deformities, we might just be on the way to a culture clash between American and European myths, horror splashed all through it. Or maybe just natural freaks (Billy too!) will face off with some human-crafted ones, like golems or famous Monsters. As Dave Friedman once said: “There’s only two kinds of freaks, Ladies and Gentlemen - those created by God, and those created by man.” Well, let’s put them in a comic and have them fight it out, and it’s looking good from this team.

*Oh dear! Now Blogger’s maintenance has stretched from thirty minutes to three hours. What a tricksy thing. Well, let me think of pleasant things, which I will fill in on this page whenever I get a thought and it’ll look like no time has passed even though quite a while is gone. My brother sent me a cd single of a tune he recorded, the lyrics based entirely around our lives of a decade ago, including allusions to off-handed remarks I made at Christmas photos that he somehow still remembers, and I now I remember it as well. The disc came packaged with a ‘reprint’ of a comic he drew when he was 9. It’s about a superhero who’s trying to educate the reader as to the history of a street in our hometown, but then a villain bursts in and tries to fool everyone with lies, but then his head falls off and everything is ok. It was a good one. What else. I'm reaching here, I'm gonna lapse into total vapidity. O o omg //*!dramabomb!*\\ this girl all asked me to the moviez and I'm kk but I don't like 'like' like her in THAT way so lolerskates ;)

*So tired. I know you were all itching to hear that, so thank god that Blogger‘s scheduled maintenance is finally through so I can bring word to the people. Tired. The only other book I got this week was Atomeka’s revival of Mike Mignola and Troy Nixey’s aborted 1999 Oni miniseries “Jenny Finn”, which was cut off halfway through its original serialization. This particular book, titled “Jenny Finn: Doom”, collects all of the Oni stuff with some bonus design sketches and additional art. A second volume, “Jenny Finn: Messiah”, will be out in July to complete the tale with all-new material, including some late-term fill-in art by Farel Dalrymple (who's actually a fill-in for the original fill-in, Scott Morse; it’s unknown to me if any of Morse’s art will appear in the completed book). I’ve always been attracted to the loose issues of this book sitting in my one shop; maybe it’s the uncanny similarity the covers had to Mignola’s immortal “The Amazing Screw-On Head” one-shot, which came out years later. Well now the earlier work is finally catching up, maybe, at least in some form, perhaps.