Ooooh, what's that?

*Bet you thought I launched this feature and forgot about it, eh?


This time we’ve got a look at Mike Mignola and Troy Nixey’s Jenny Finn: Doom. It’s a collection of the only two produced issues of an intended 4-issue series Oni initiated way back in the day. A second, all-new collection will eventually be released (with a different artist) to finish the tale. It’s crawly mutant stuff. Attentive/obsessive readers will note that I blogged about purchasing this book the day it came out, about two months ago. Yes, I just got around to reviewing it now. That’s why the name is Jog, and not Dash. Ew… Dash. Anyway, enjoy the review.

*Being overwhelmed by quality work yesterday made me forget something very important, another major book released on this most unusually strong of Wednesdays: the Street Angel trade. It’s diminished in size (if not quite a manga digest) yet far thicker than five collected issues would suggest, since you also get a beefy sketchbook section, four assorted Street Angel shorts (one of which is brand-new), and a big pin-up gallery with lots of great folks, like Jeff Brown and Dan Zettwoch. Evan Dorkin handles the intro, and there’s an opening quote by Wolverine (really). Full list of stuff here. It’s so way boss and shit.

*Also, in a tantalizing repeat of last week, my shop got in one book a wee bit early from the Diamond warehouse, and it’s something I’ve been looking forward to having ulcers over not being able to afford for quite a while now - Drawn & Quarterly’s Walt & Skeezix: Book One, yet another maddeningly ambitious reprint affair from a beloved independent comics publisher. D&Q intends to publish approximately three decades worth of Gasoline Alley daily strips in total; this book covers the first two years to feature the core character of Skeezix (1921-22). Prayers for their success, of course; it’s an utterly massive undertaking by any measure, and you’ve gotta figure that the strip doesn’t have nearly as much of a fan base today as Peanuts. Still, at least we’ve got one of these 352-page beasts out now, taking its cues from two of Fantagraphics’ biggest archival progects: it’s got the dimensions and thickness of Peanuts, with the copious photos and histories and rarities of Krazy Kat, plus lovely book design by Chris Ware. It’s interesting; Ware’s cover is much more subdued than his boisterous, spinning work on Fanta’s Kat series. Maybe that’s a reflection of Gasoline Alley’s gentle, contemplative tone. Or maybe Ware, whose own visual style is quite heavily influenced by Gasoline Alley writer/artist Frank King, is adopting a more reverent, ‘hands-off’ approach to the work of an artist he seems to possess a strong visual kinship with. King is an amazing stylist, though I love his Sunday work the best (D&Q is planning a collection of Sundays at some point in the future). It a beautiful object, filled with great comics. It’s $29.95. Look for it next week, unless your shop scored an early copy too.

Seven Soldiers - Klarion the Witch Boy #2 (of 4)

Oh dear me, do I like this book. It’s just got such a perfect tone, such a slightly jumpy pace, and such a wonderfully selfish protagonist. It’s largely artist/colorist Frazer Irving’s fault: his character work is sublimely exaggerated, the title Witch Boy’s eyes bugging with thrills and mouth gaping with delight, like a particularly dire child actor starring in a hopelessly awry adaptation of some obscure parable derived from a justly extinct religion. Brilliant stuff.

This issue is more tightly bound to events in other Seven Soldiers books than most, with everything lagging just a few minutes behind Guardian issue #2, as if Klarion keeps missing his big supporting role by a hair. It’s almost a running gag. But who needs a walk-on in Guardian when you can tour the underground atop a shambling carnivorous lizard, teamed up with stubbly renegade pagan puritan Ebeneezer Badde?! And if the name didn’t quite tip you off, Mr. Badde eventually snorts at Klarion’s ambition to create new gods (his old god having unfortunately escaped from the sewers) out of dreams and storytelling: “Hrr. It might make for dull reading. Why bother with gods and heroes at all?” Badde asks, and you know such sentiments in a Grant Morrison script cannot stand uncorrected. No, Morrison is surely on Klarion’s side, grinning and tittering “What a world of mad wonders it is!” as angry sewer children pelt him with rocks. But Klarion’s no dummy either: he anticipates (no, relishes) an inevitable betrayal, and he and kitty familiar Teekl are determined to remain on top of things, all the way to the top of the world. And though he befriends lost kids and promotes clever uses of discarded superhero gear and literally rolls a die to determine his fate, there’s an air of unconscious malevolence around him, a taste of recklessness born of cheery self-absorption. He’s not all good, just as his antagonist for the issue is not all bad, as if that matters to him at all.

Just look at the ecstasy on the Witch Boy’s face, the kitty wrapped up in his arms, Irving’s colors leaping to a rich fire-stoked bronze, as his first kill is scored. He’s so thrilled to come of age, to move from Boy to Witch Man, that he just can’t consider such niceties as inner conflict when it’s time to experience Betrayal! and Adventure! and Chance! In a universe stuffed with revived heroes, flawed as they can be, Klarion stands alone, wholly unmoved by self-consciousness and awash in dangerous irresponsibility. Boys will be boys.