Alphabetical Index of IDW / Top Shelf

Tonoharu Part One

Tonoharu by Lars Martinson comes in a handsome hardcover, but the book doesn’t live up to the promise raised by its upscale presentation, because it ends before resolving key questions raised by its premise. Dan is an assistant English teacher in Japan, although he speaks very little of that country’s language. He’s miserable. He lives in a small town where the only other English-speakers are gossiped about as weirdos. He has too little to do and no inclination to find […]

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From Hell

Where to start talking about From Hell? Perhaps a hint is given in one of the quotes that open this almost 600-page tome. As Charles Fort said, “One measures a circle, beginning anywhere.” And that’s what writer Alan Moore seeks to create, a work that circles on itself, using a proposed solution for the mystery of the Jack the Ripper murders to portray, as Warren Ellis put it, “the birth of the 20th century”. Like so many Alan Moore books, […]

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Owly: A Time to Be Brave

The fourth entry in the charming series about an owl and his woodland friends is another comforting tale about how being nice will save the day. A Time to Be Brave is told wordlessly, with the characters communicating in symbols, but they do read a fairy tale about a knight and a dragon whose text appears in the panels. Wormy, who serves the role of a small child (nice for reader identification purposes), is frightened by the story, so after […]

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Delayed Replays

Liz Prince’s first full-length book, Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed?, won the 2005 Outstanding Debut Ignatz Award. It was a pocket-size volume of observational strips mostly about her relationship. Her new book, Delayed Replays, is similar, with one big difference: the book is oriented horizontally, the better to reflect the direction of the comic strips. Prince’s style is sketchy, with construction lines visible. Reading this small book feels like looking through a sketchbook or journal. […]

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Too Cool to Be Forgotten

Alex Robinson (Tricked, Box Office Poison) is best known for his mastery of handling a sprawling, connected, soap opera-style cast. In his new graphic novel, Too Cool to Be Forgotten, he changes gears to focus on a single protagonist. Andy Wicks is a middle-aged man who, when he undergoes hypnosis to stop smoking, finds himself back in high school in 1985. It’s a common fantasy, to wonder how things would go if you had the chance to do it all […]

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The Surrogates

The Surrogates is a strong debut by writer Robert Venditti, ably supported by artist Brett Weldele (Couscous Express). It reminds me of Fell in several ways: the cop investigating bizarre crimes, the grid-based layouts, the grimy, scratchy art. Venditti’s approaching his story as more traditional science fiction, though, taking an intriguing premise and playing out different implications within an action framework. Fifty years from now, most people interact through the use of surrogates, idealized robot forms that make virtual reality […]

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CSI: Dying in the Gutters #5

I haven’t seen anyone talk about the comic book convention mystery CSI: Dying in the Gutters, and after they worked so hard to draw direct market attention to it, too. Maybe everyone’s waiting for the trade (due next month)? Here’s the premise: at a Las Vegas comic convention, internet gossip Rich Johnston is killed, electrocuted when he touches a rigged microphone while standing in salt water. So many creators have reason to kill him that the CSI team has trouble […]

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Are We Feeling Safer Yet?

Keith Knight has put out a second collection of his (th)ink comics. Where The K Chronicles are multi-paneled and often biographical, (th)ink more closely resembles editorial cartoons. They’re single panels that directly address political issues. And they’re darned funny! The material in Are We Feeling Safer Yet? is often raw, but I can’t argue with the points made and the anger he’s expressing. I doubt any of the cartoons would convince someone who disagreed; instead, these are rallying cries, giving […]

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