- Posted by Ed Sizemore on June 19, 2009 at 1:10 pm
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
Review by Ed Sizemore
This is the second part of my MoCCA reviews. Previously I talked about floppies; this time I look at the books I bought.
Bite Me! A Vampire Farce
by Dylan Meconis, Elea Press, $15.00 US
Claire is a bar maid, but also part of the anti-monarchy French underground. Lucien is a vampire out running an errand for his master. While away, Lucien’s vampire coven is captured. Ginevra manages to escape and needs Lucien’s help to rescue the coven. Claire is inadvertently turned into a vampire and so joins Lucien and Ginevra. Meanwhile, the French revolution is in full swing.
Bite Me! is a farce in the best sense of the word. It’s an irreverent comedy that pokes fun at a variety of targets: Anne Rice, Hammer vampire films, radical leftist revolutionaries, the 18th century. It reminds me of Friends and Seinfeld in a good way. This is a conversation-heavy book where the plot is simply an excuse to bring together this wonderful cast of characters and get them talking. The conversations are funny and erudite. Meconis does a great job giving each character a distinct personality and speaking style.
This was Meconis’s first major work. The art is a little unpolished, but it does improve over the course of the series. She has an angular style, where the character faces look liked they are carved from wood. However, Meconis is gifted at facial expressions, and so her characters are full of emotions. The figures are static, but the writing is so good it actually breathes life into the art.
I enjoyed this book tremendously and recommend it as a refreshing change of pace. This was originally a webcomic and you can still read the entire series online. Meconis is currently working on another webcomic series, Family Man. You can learn more about Meconis herself at her website.
The Elsewhere Chronicles, Book One: The Shadow Door
story by Nykko, art by Bannister, Graphic Universe, $6.95 US
Rebecca’s grandfather, Old Man Gabe, just died. She and her family came from out of town to attend the funeral and to dispose of his house. Grandpa Gabe was a recluse, and some of the locals think his house is haunted. Rebecca meets Max, Noah, and Theo, and they go exploring her grandfather’s house. They find a strange device that looks like a television studio camera and a library filled with books. When their first visit is cut short, Rebecca and Max go back the next day to explore further. Noah and Theo go looking for their friends later in the day, only to discover them missing.
The Elsewhere Chronicles is a great fantasy series for kids. Nykko has created interesting characters and a story that draws you in from the first page. It’s quickly paced to keep young readers from getting bored. Adults will find the story just as engaging as well. I don’t want to discuss it too much in fear of spoiling some of the surprises.
Bannister’s art is excellent and done in a cartoon style. The art really captures the various moods of the story, be it a lazy afternoon in early summer or the creepy atmosphere of an empty house at dark. There is a lot of energy in the artwork; characters and the action jump off the page. This is a beautiful book to look at.
I enjoyed this book so much that I’m getting the other two books in the series. I can’t wait to pass these on to my nephew. I’m sure he’ll enjoy them as much as I. You can get more information on the series and see preview pages for all three volumes at The Elsewhere Chronicles website.
Twisted Journeys #3: Terror in Ghost Mansion
story by Paul D. Storrie, art by Sandy Carruthers, Graphic Universe, $7.95 US
Buy this book
Twisted Journeys #7: The Time Travel Trap
story by Dan Jolley, art by Matt Wendt, Graphic Universe, $7.95 US
Buy this book
Twisted Journeys is a series of choose-your-own-adventure books. I picked these because I remember how much I loved them as a kid and figured my nephew would get a kick out of them.
Terror in the Ghost Mansion has you, your older brother, and two friends trying to escape a haunted mansion. The problem is the ghost family haunting the mansion doesn’t want you to leave, ever.
This was a difficult adventure to survive. I died several times. I finally sat down and counted how many possible endings there were, and in how many of them you survive. Of the 31 possible endings, only 5 end with you escaping the mansion. Of those 5, you’re the only survivor in 4. So that means there is only a 16% survival rate for you, and only a 3% survival rate for everyone else. Most readers, adult and kid, are going to find this book frustrating. I certainly did.
By contrast, The Time Travel Trap has you successfully complete the adventure most of the time. You are at the school science fair, and one of the participants has built a working time machine. You’re curious enough to see where it takes you, so you step through the time portal and begin your adventure. If you follow common sense, you can return back home easily enough.
The artwork in both books is excellent. About a quarter of the pages are comic pages. Another quarter of the pages have text with an illustration on them. The rest are just text pages. The art helps to make the adventure more tangible and the dangers more ominous. Once you’ve seen the ghosts in the mansion, you’ll know exactly why you want to get out of there, now. The time travel book takes you to so many different locales it’s good to have pictures for readers that aren’t familiar with all the different time periods and places.
I definitely recommend The Time Travel Trap. It’s a great trip down memory lane for adults, like me, who read these books as a child. It’s a fun book for kids to read and just play with. Ghost Mansion I would recommend to adults as a challenge to see if they can survive. A child with a lot of patience, who knows the odds ahead of time, might enjoy this book. I would suggest parents check out each of the other volumes in the Twisted Journeys series to make sure they offer more entertainment than frustration.