- Posted by Johanna on May 5, 2006 at 8:32 am
- Category: Indy Comic Reviews
In preparation for the day, I’ve been reading the giveaways. I’ve already covered the Gold Sponsors… now, the rest.
Let’s get the disposable stuff out of the way first. The Wizard TPB recommendation book is reportedly the same as last year’s copy. Only the updated ads justify them selling this again to retailers as a “revised” edition. That kind of bait-and-switch is typically Wizard, and so is the focus on superheroes and potty jokes.
The Arcana, Aspen, and Viper comics appear to resemble the publishers’ regular titles, so I’m not interested, but points for accurate advertising. The Viper issue does a great job of showing the variety of their line, plus it lists what’s immediately available in collected form, although they do make it sound like they’d rather people buy from them at their website. It’s important to remember that these books are marketing pieces, and if they don’t lead to more purchases, they aren’t doing the job they’re intended for.
In contrast, I’ve never heard of Castle Rain or Jack the Lantern 1942. The first comic page is an overwhelming wall of text, and the paper is cheap-feeling newsprint. There’s nothing welcoming about this comic, and no introductory material to help me out, only ads promising more ugly-looking comics in their universe. Yuck.
Like Viper’s offering, Claypool’s flipbook seems to be an accurate representation of their line — it looks like it fell through a time warp from a decade or two ago. Aside from the two stories, one each for Soulsearchers and Deadbeats, there’s also a retailer listing, a company history, and various house ads. Putting two Soulsearchers back issue ads (with the same information) back-to-back seems like overkill and wasted space, though. (They do the same on the other side for Deadbeats.)
I’m never sure why Keenspot participates in FCBD, since their webcomics bypass the comic shop system. Their samplers are large but horribly disorganized, and the quality varies widely from “acceptable” down to “atrocious”. We always get at least one “customer” who comes in, asks for it, and promptly leaves, never to buy anything or visit again until next year’s FCBD.
Liberty Girl #0 is typical of Heroic’s line — a supposedly empowered female character who’s really just an excuse to draw nearly-naked women posing. Check the broken hip angle on that cover and the odd way the lower half of the costume extends unbroken from boot heels to waist. Pedestrian and inconsistent, as the women’s faces change panel to panel (based on what photo or other comic they’re using for reference, perhaps?).
Bluff & Tales from a Forgotten Planet are two tastes that don’t match. Bluff is cute, a pleasant discovery, about a dog who talks to his flea and how he’s adopted by a family after a car accident. The animal attitudes keep it from being too sappy.
Then there’s Ben Dunn-looking creepy faux-manga babes with the large round breasts and the eight-year-old faces. (I don’t actually know who’s responsible for the art — the credits aren’t clear, and Dunn’s name appears on the cover but not in this section.) These two properties do not go well together, and padding out the book with a random assortment of cover reproductions, editor’s notes, reduced art reproductions, and house ads seems sloppy.
Impact University collects samples from their how-to books. The ones I’ve seen are pretty good, and the upcoming titles look even better. I’m especially looking forward to Colleen Doran’s Girl to Grrrl Manga (which focuses on creating shoujo manga) and Writing for Comics with Peter David. The downside is that promoting books that won’t exist until summer or November is no way to sell items to new customers now. I also got a laugh out of Greg Land’s lesson on using photo reference to draw beautiful women. The word “tracing” nowhere appears, but the steps make it clear what he’s doing.
This is a nice package that targets the ever-growing audience of comic fans who want to be creators. You can also position it for new readers as “here’s something that will tell you more about how comics are made”.
Come back later for part three of my FCBD coverage — I’ve saved the best books for last.