- Posted by Johanna on June 19, 2006 at 8:28 am
- Category: Indy Comic Reviews
- CREDITS: by Batton Lash
- PUBLISHER: Exhibit A Press; $3.50 US
I regularly watch CSI. The writing and cast are good enough that I’m kept entertained, and it’s a nice distraction for 45 minutes or so.1 Not everything has to be destination entertainment that you seek out, and there’s nothing wrong with competent craft that doesn’t aim to be high art. Many of the mass media — movies, TV, popular literature — are built on such products.
Why am I nattering about TV shows in what’s supposed to be a comic review? Because there’s little place in American comics for this type of material, the kind that economically underpins the other media. In comics, you’ve got your superheroes, the long-running franchises unfriendly to new readers; your highly-praised art novels, like Persepolis or Blankets, with important things to say; your nostalgic reprints; and your book-publisher-launched young adult lines, like Scholastic’s effort.
When it comes to the equivalent of a Stephen King novel or a good sitcom episode, there’s a gap. There are publishers putting out good works, but they’re often overlooked. In terms of independent titles, the comic press tends to take sides and become over-enthuasiastic in their praise, so they often resemble a herd rushing to fresh grazing grass. A few graphic novels are recommended by everyone during a season, and it’s not that those books don’t deserve it — it’s just that it sometimes seems that there’s only three speeds: dislike, ehhh, and “omigod it’s so amazing I love it!” What are you supposed to read when you just want something entertaining?
Well, something like this.2 Creator Batton Lash was attempting to brand what he was trying to do “the New Mainstream”, and while that’s more accurate than other comic-related uses of that term, it’s kind of fuzzy. Then again, that is what this is: light humor that plays off of common knowledge (an office setting, jokes about monsters), simply cartooned and easy-to-read.
It’s not the kind of story that leaves a large impact on the reader, so not a lot of people are likely telling their friends (or critics telling their audience) “you must read this.” That’s probably why the book, long-running as it is, is continually trying new approaches to remain visible. Audiences are fickle, and their attention span is eaten up with new writer! new artist! continuity gimmick! big promotional push! You can’t do those kinds of things every issue, and the consistent-but-low-profile books take the hit.
That explains the “#1 With a Silver Bullet” subtitle, I think. It’s really issue #42, but readers might not be willing to try something unfamiliar with such a high number, even though every issue is easy to start with and it’s very high-concept: lawyers for monsters.
So what actually happens this issue? Attorney Alanna’s younger sister Corey is sitting down with a friend to watch one of her clients on “Dr. Fill”. The situation allows lots of explanatory dialogue to happen naturally, plus talk shows are parodied with the premise “Werewolves… and the women who love them!” There’s surprise plot twists, family-based character drama, and the requisite puns.
For samples of Lash’s style and humor, visit the Supernatural Law webcomic or the publisher’s website. To read more about the series, see my reviews of the first collection Tales of Supernatural Law or the latest, Mr. Negativity.
1 I know the show is scheduled for an hour. I have TiVo, so I don’t watch ads.
2 I also recommend the books of Oni Press, but I’ve already digressed enough.