Books for Boys: Wise Intelligence, Strongman, and Curse of the Were-Woman

Curse of the Were-Woman

Curse of the Were-Woman cover
Curse of the Were-Woman
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written by Jason M. Burns, art by Christopher Provencher, Devil’s Due, color graphic novel, $14.99 US

Patrick’s a self-obsessed, narcisstic babehound who sleeps with a different female every night. After using and dumping the wrong witch, she curses him to become a woman once the sun goes down. For those of you old enough to remember, yes, it’s a comic version of the movie Switch, liberally mixed with the lessons from What Women Want.

Those weren’t the only movies I was reminded of, though — the opening smacks of American Psycho, with the lead’s fetishized rituals and self-love. The book relies on stereotypes throughout, with the witch being drawn as a Death-like goth and no characters, male or female, having much depth.

Women in this comic are defined by their physicality, their breasts and menstuation and availability for sex. Patrick even hits on himself as Patricia! There are two female characters who are not characterized by their attractiveness; one is merely a symbol of Patrick’s change of heart, and the other is a harridan, Patrick’s former friend’s fat wife. Patricia doesn’t seem like a real woman, but a guy’s checklist of what women are like.

It’s ironic, because Patrick’s lesson is to learn that women are more than sex objects, but the writer doesn’t seem to have taken that message to heart, although the men fare no better. There’s no sense of what made Patrick the man he is beyond the most superficial: he likes women and sex. Has he ever loved or been hurt? I have no idea, which makes the long-expected happy ending less than satisfying.

The presentation is slick and professional, and the dialogue is snappy. You may laugh while reading it — although I found it often too predictable to be funny — but it won’t stick with you. I bet someone options it for the movies.

I don’t know when this is coming out — the publisher thought the end of March (too late), while Amazon says September. You can see preview pages in this interview at the Pulse.

Strongman

Strongman cover
Strongman
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written by Charles Soule, art by Allen Gladfelter, SLG Publishing, black-and-white graphic novel, $9.95 US

I don’t get the attraction of the masked Mexican wrestler, or luchador. I’m also not attracted to the “washed-up alcoholic makes good one more time” story type (unless it’s Cat Ballou), so this book isn’t for me. I was taken in by the layouts of the first few pages, which use the page as a whole to create a graphic statement, but the art became much more standard after that, so I stopped reading.

Here’s a much better review than mine. The publisher has posted preview pages, which show you the layouts I was talking about. There’s also an online trailer.

Wise Intelligence #1

written by Ryan McLelland, art by Adam Talley, self-published, black-and-white comic, part one of three-part miniseries, $4 US

As soon as I looked at the pages, I thought “looks like a (stereotypical) webcomic” — flat art, simple faces, lots of talking heads, dodgy grasp of character design, boring layouts, attitude substituting for wit. Lo and behold, it was. The inside front cover text is set in Comic Sans, another no-no for professional use.

I was also turned off by the promotion text, which talks about how it continues from an anthology I’ve never heard of. Made me feel like I was coming in late. But since it’s a story about college frat boys, I wasn’t too far behind, since the characters and situations are familiar.

Three upperclassmen are upset that one of them has accidentally been assigned to the freshman dorm. But since his roommate is the son of the university president, it’s not such a bad deal. Guys get laid, guys go to film class (and make Deep Throat jokes), guys play video games, one takes Feminist Theory to “mack chicks”. Someone’s watched Van Wilder too many times. There’s not much story, just a string of incidents.

(All reviews are based on complimentary copies, either print (Strongman) or PDF.)


14 Responses to “Books for Boys: Wise Intelligence, Strongman, and Curse of the Were-Woman”

  1. Nurser E. Rayim Says:

    REGARDING YOUR REVIEW OF STRONGMAN and this comment:

    “I don’t get the attraction of the masked Mexican wrestler, or luchador. ”

    Gee whizz, JDC, that’s ignorant and a half! Some might say they don’t get your (over-the-top) attraction to all things manga, what do you say to that?

    Listen, miss high horse, go ahead and patronize one ethnic comics trend over another, we don’t need you to “”get” luchador comics or culture because then it would be way over anyway. Shark officially jumped. Stick to your relevant reviews of played out manga and brain-dead Archie comics, that’s okay with us fans of the real lucha comics (not Strongman, by the way, but then again, I don’t feel inclined to school you) so don’t spoil it for us with your cheap, culturally condescending comments.

    As for me, I’m done with this dumb site. And I thought the Beat was vapid. Whoa, nelly! Squeeze this melon and there’s no juice at all, only pits.

    have a nice life, bye!

  2. Johanna Says:

    I’m sorry you’re so upset, but that statement wasn’t patronizing or a put-down — it was explaining a flaw in me, that I am missing the attraction. That simple fact (and I’m not sure how you state it more directly or plainly) was important context for my comments.

    If someone told me they didn’t get manga, I’d explain what I saw in it, and if they still weren’t interested, I’d shrug and say “their loss”. I wouldn’t assume that they were putting it down just because their tastes were different. I’d love to hear what you like about it, in the hopes of getting some education on the subject, instead of seeing you throw a hissy and leave.

    But if you’re not enjoying the site, yes, there are plenty of other places to read about comics. Better you visit them than continue reading something that obviously frustrates you so much.

  3. JennyN Says:

    Personal comment re your note on STRONGMAN: I for one am pleased to read a reviewer who’s willing to cop to their personal reactions / biases, rather than going ahead with a supposedly “objective” review that ends up simply annoying those who do enjoy a particular genre or type of comic (manga, bande dessinee, etc). You had the integrity to say that you aren’t the ideal audience for this type of story, but then directed readers to another reviewer who’s able to be honestly enthusiastic. Nor do I see any cultural condescension in this case (especially as the comic in question seems to be a US riff on a Latin American genre, not an actual Mexican product). Keep truckin’, JDC!

  4. Johanna Says:

    I admit, my non-review was a copout, but I wanted an excuse to say *something* about this SLG publication and provide the links. Thanks for the support!

  5. Paterick Says:

    Damn…props for referring a review when you weren’t up to doing a half-assed one yourself. I think that more than makes up for your “prejudice?” I’m black and I know the difference between prejudice and preference. She didn’t like the story type so calm the hell down before you start getting uppity over it.

    And most of the time when people say something like ‘I’m done with this website,’ it either means they’re just gonna lurk from now until they feel the need to snap at something, or just like being dramatic when they don’t have an effect on readership anyways.

  6. Johanna Says:

    True. The people who really leave do so without the big statement. If you care enough to make a pronouncement, you’re not really done yet, most times.

  7. Sebastian Says:

    I’m more interested in knowing when Strongman will be distributed to bookstores. I wanted to order it after I saw it was out through Diamond, but no boookstore seems to have it in stock yet. My regular international providers (bookdepository, amazon.de, bol.de) don’t even recognize its ISBN.

  8. Johanna Says:

    Maybe SLG just wants you to order direct from them (but their shipping charges often aren’t as advantageous). I’m sorry I don’t have more info on that.

  9. Charles Soule Says:

    Johanna –

    I’m sorry you weren’t engaged by the book past the first few pages, (even moreso since I wrote it), but as other commenters have mentioned, you do say that you aren’t the target audience. Perhaps at some point you’ll give it another shot – the book goes to unexpected places, and ends up being what a pretty substantial portion of readers/reviewers (everyone who’s finished it, actually) have found it to be an engaging, uplifting read. But not every book is for every reader. No harm, no foul.

    Sebastian, the book can be ordered through Amazon here: http://tinyurl.com/cnozlg , or direct from SLG here: http://tinyurl.com/ay3rat . It’s temporarily sold out at Amazon (yay!), but I have been promised by both Amazon and SLG that it’ll be back in stock very soon, if you want to place your order.

    Thank you for the interest.

    –Charles

  10. Johanna Says:

    Thanks, Charles, for answering that order question. And I appreciate that it seems like an interesting book, just not one for me. Since you seem so nice, I’m sorry it’s not. :)

  11. Sebastian Says:

    Thanks for the information that it should be back in stock at amazon.com soon. Still, the book not being listed at the sites I mentioned above means that there’s something wrong with its (international) distribution. For example, “Stitch”, which also came out from SLG this month is readily available through all outlets I mentioned.

    It’s good to know I could buy “Strongman” at amazon.com, but I’m not yet prepared to pay double price (which it would be including shipping) and hope it will get a normal international distribution eventually.

  12. Charles Soule Says:

    Well, I’m not sure why that would be the case, if other books from the publisher make it to the international distributors. I’m still a bit new to that side of things. That being said, I know it made it to Singapore, England and Australia, so it made it to at least a few places. As you say, hopefully the other outlets you mention will stock it soon.

    I see the Slave Labor guys this weekend at Emerald City Comicon (stop by to say hello if anyone’s in Seattle) and will ask them about it.

  13. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » March 30, 2009: Spider-Man’s useless age rating Says:

    [...] Various titles Link: Tucker Stone, Marc-Oliver Frisch, Johanna Draper Carlson (one, two), Andrew Wheeler and Douglas [...]

  14. Jennifer de Guzman Says:

    Sebastian —

    The reason Strongman isn’t in bookstores is because, unfortunately, none of the bookstores chose to order any copies. They’re getting a lot more selective about what they’re carrying lately. (It’s actually not as bad as the bookstores returning most of their ordered copies.) I’m not sure why the ISBN isn’t being recognized; usually Diamond sends the info to Books in Print, but perhaps because there were no orders for it they didn’t do it. We’ll send in the info ourselves, so it should show up soon.

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