It hid behind my head.

*Important Updates of 3:25 AM on 4/19/06 Dept: Jesus Christ did the three newest chapters of Pluto kick ass. That's #27-29, out just the other day. I mean, really.

*Well, that’s one way to get my attention - it looks like the much-selling video game franchise Halo is getting its very own graphic novel, accordingly titled The Halo Graphic Novel. It’s produced under the supervision of game developers Bungie Studios, and they’ve managed to attract quite a lineup of folks - I think I’m most excited by the teaming of The Winter Men writer Brett Lewis and comics legend Moebius, though new work by writer/artist Tsutomo Nihei (of Blame! and Wolverine: Snikt!) will also attract many. Rounding out the teams for the four included stories are writer Lee Hammock and artist Simon Bisley, and writer Jay Faerber, penciler Andrew Robinson, and colorist Ed Lee. There’ll also be a big gallery section, with contributions by the likes of Geof Darrow, George Pratt, Kent Williams, and many more. Full lineup here - I’m linking to Bungie’s own news update on the book, since they’re the only ones I can find that actually matched up the creative teams in detail.

Also - the book is being published by Marvel, which is interesting as it appears to evidence an interest on Bungie’s part to break into the Direct Market with a certain amount of force - I presume bookstore sales are a focus as well, though when folks from Bungie cite the need for a publishing partner “that could take it to the next level and get it in front of the most people,” I instantly get to thinking that their eyes are as much on comics stores, where something with the Marvel (or DC) label on it can still prompt orders more easily than otherwise.

Cry Yourself to Sleep

This will be out in shops tomorrow. It’s an 88-page, $7 book from Top Shelf, a low-key debut by writer/artist Jeremy Tinder. There’s not all that much to say about it, save that it’s gently humorous, in possession of some attractive visual flourish, not entirely well strung-together, and suggesting of good things in the author’s near-future.

A vignette-driven examination of three characters, the book bounces around between viewpoints for most of its pages as everyone tries to deal with a sudden outbreak of sadness. Andy is a video store clerk and an aspiring writer, whose novel has just been rejected by a big publisher. Jim, Andy’s roommate, is an anthropomorphic bunny who can’t seem to hold down a job. And Robot is, as one might guess, a mechanized construct that has begun to experience a long dark midnight of the soul on account of his blithe ways with others’ feelings (as displayed in prior comics). There’s a very nice prelude segment that neatly wraps all of them together - we start out with Jim’s being fired from his latest job, in typical comics style with three horizontal tiers of panels per page. Then Andy’s story begins, except it only occupies the second and third tiers, with Jim’s point of view continuing to occupy the first tier. Eventually, we’re introduced to Robot, who gets the bottom tier, and all three characters’ paths eventually synch up into the story’s title page. Disarmingly simple, attractive storytelling.

Tinder’s visual style in general is appealing, his character art reminiscent to me of Steve Weissman with touches of Chester Brown; his storytelling is clean, with constant shifts in point-of-view executed without convolution. This is important, as the various bits of Tinder’s plot don’t cohere as well as they could; almost everything is conveyed through short bursts of events, little snatches of experience, but there’s not quite enough done with the book’s characters or themes to lend so fragmented an array a sense of resonance or build. There's some effort at added depth via visuals - Tinder's technique of sometimes removing most background art and shading from the final panel of a segment, indicating isolation, is a good one, but used a bit too much for as short a book as this, and ultimately comes off as artificial and emotionally pushy, exclamation points added to sentences that don't need them.

And they're short, direct sentences. Andy walks around and talks with his friends and maybe starts up a flirtation with a pretty customer at the store, while Jim attempts to secure cash from his parents and Robot talks to a bird that he’s decided holds the key to inner serenity - but most of these scenes simply evoke a tinge of amusement, or sadness, leaving the eventual stringing together of the characters at the end to evoke only an inevitable nod rather than a climactic feel. As one might guess simply from the book's structure, it's interpersonal caring that's really important, and maybe a desire to step outside of your life's comfort zone (and your art's as well), and while that's a good sentiment, the work backing it up doesn't do all that much to really delve into it. Folks are sad, then the point is raised.

But there are pleasures to be found in Tinder's fragments of life: I liked the monologue about early video games mirroring the efficient repetitions of the natural world, and the bit with Andy's friends urging him to break out of his autobiographical production mold. I also appreciated the random positioning of various character design types - Jim having a rabbit mother and a human father raised a nice laugh. A small book, skimming the surface of its concerns, but not bad work by any measure. The potential is there, and this tome may soon aquire the luminosity of promise later fulfilled.