Good Comics Out October 10, Including Buffy and Stumptown

Good Graphic Novels

Dark Horse’s re-release of Carla Speed McNeil’s Finder: Talisman ($19.99) is out this week, which is a must-buy if you haven’t already read it. Wonderful story, all about childhood and escaping into reading. There’s a preview at the link. I don’t have the words to tell you how good this book is.

I have promised myself this year that I WILL read the Best American Comics 2012 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25) in something approaching a timely fashion. I might even catch up on the previous books that are still waiting, unopened. It should be fascinating to see what’s assembled under such an intriguing, debate-provoking title. This year it’s guest-edited by the amazing Fran├žoise Mouly.

Papercutz has a new volume in their series of comics by Lewis Trondheim featuring a family and its pet monster. Monster Turkey ($9.99) does not, as you might guess, have anything to do with Thanksgiving. Instead, the family heads out on vacation to stay at a farm (you know, country, quiet, getting in touch with nature) only to find that the animal inhabitants have all become monsters. I find these stories well-cartooned but slight in content, but I’m not the target audience. Kids might get more out of the hardcover.

Speaking of kids, Drawn & Quarterly has three releases in their Enfant line. Two books kick off their re-releases of Tove Jansson’s Moomin comics in color paperbacks. The flexible covers and landscape format are more kid-friendly. Each volume holds one Moomin story. In Moominvalley Turns Jungle ($9.95), the Moomins are trying to cope with unusual heat when a crate of tropical seeds wash ashore, a fast-growing jungle threatens to take over. Then zoo animals appear, and the Moomintrolls risk being mistaken for hippopotamuses. (A clever plot, especially for new readers who might be confused by their appearances.)

The other book is Moomin’s Winter Follies ($9.95), in which the lovable characters experience the opposite weather extreme. A frozen pond means it’s time for winter sports. But first, the family has to debate whether to follow the tradition of hibernating. I’m not previously familiar with the Moomins, but I was reminded of how much fun I had reading Babar as a child. The animals behave like people but their unusual appearance makes it all otherworldly in a creative way that spurs the young reader’s imagination.

The other Enfant volume is a debut. Pippi Longstocking comes to English comics for the first time in Pippi Moves In ($14.95). The first of a planned three volumes is by creator Astrid Lindgren and illustrator Ingrid Vang Nyman. Originally published in the late 1950s, these comics adapt the chapter book stories in visual form.

As you’d expect, the art is unusual and distinctive, dating from another era but looking fresh as a result. The chapters are short — four pages each — and so the storytelling is stilted, but it’s fun to see Pippi’s ridiculous way of living illustrated.

Not a graphic novel, but if you’re curious about the much-discussed book Marvel Comics: The Untold Story (Harper Collins, $26.99), KC reviewed a galley copy a couple of months ago.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 #14

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 #14

Cover by Phil Noto

This issue of Buffy (Dark Horse Comics, $2.99) introduces the previously promoted “Billy the Vampire Slayer” character, which is an interesting twist but falls apart horribly once you think about it politically. (Are they saying that gay men and women are equivalent, because all that matters is which gender you want to sleep with, except what about the lesbian slayers? [1]) Script is by Jane Espenson (with shared story credit with Drew Z. Greenberg), art by Karl Moline and Andy Owens. Fans are always happy when show writers contribute comic stories, since they definitely know the characters, but I found this story, once you get past the appeal of seeing a sympathetic gay lead, pretty mediocre.

If you’ve ever seen a teen movie, this will feel familiar. Two friends are hanging out at night, chatting and watching planes fly over. Billy is gay-bashed but has a supportive grandmother. Since this is a Buffy comic, there are forgettable vampires to kill. There’s also a cute guy to be the sidekick. Normally, even when the plots are generic in this franchise, there’s enough entertaining dialogue or character work to balance it out, but I didn’t find that here. Your mileage may vary, and the story is labeled “to be continued”, so perhaps it picks up next issue.

[1] (SPOILER paragraph) They kind of address this, by Billy not being called as a slayer, with the magical power boost, but by referring to him a slayer, it all gets muddled again, in my opinion.

Stumptown Volume 2 #2

Stumptown V2 #2

I liked the first issue, and this one (Oni Press, $3.99) is more of the same. Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth continue to deepen the mystery with our private investigator sparring with cops and feds while we meet another of the band members, who’s got more information that might be relevant to the case of the missing guitar.

I don’t know what much more to say about this — in the case of a limited series, all you really want to know is that a new issue is as good or better than the previous, right? It is, especially with Southworth’s moody art able to carry the wordless stretches of the story and provide plenty of atmosphere for the reader to ponder. (You’ve gotta have the right environment portrayed if you’re going to name your book after it.)

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