The Autumnlands fills me with much zen
So good I’m dreaming
Historic lines begin to blur
Oh monstrous fears
To chill your heart
Manifest Destiny’s superb
These books we read
The more we need
You best pay heed
Consume with speed
Hello there, Donist World denizens, and welcome back. I'm joined as ever by CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / The Cure fanatic Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). It was kind of a slow new release week here at Donist World seeing as how we only had one book in our pull. Thankfully, we had a backup trade that we absolutely LOVED, so we'll take a quick look at that as well. The slow release week is actually well timed as I started two more graphic design courses, I’ve been finalizing my resume, began the job search, took on a graphic design project, I am nearly finished with an online resume, and I’m preparing to tackle our taxes. By Obie’s estimation, we should be due “a cool 10Gs” for Donist World business, but what my CFO fails to realize is that you have to have income to apply to all those business expenses and you have to have overpaid your taxes in order to receive a refund. Ummmm…our lease at the corporate office (Mom’s basement) is $0 per month, the snacks (kibble) are not deductible since a dog is not considered an employee, and the squeaky plush toys are not considered an entertainment expense. Bummer, I know. Oh well. Anyhow, I have to cut over to some pressing homework now, so that I will have some time to read my recent delivery from MyComicShop.com of Six From Sirius (the first issue rocked my world), Six From Sirius 2, and The Light and Darkness War — super sci-fi goodness. Have a great weekend, and let me know if there is something I should have been reading this week. With that, on to…
Friday Slice of Heaven
Tooth & Claw #1
I have been hoping for a good fantasy comic for sometime now. Sure, aspects of other Image titles fall into this category, but Tooth & Claw…errrrr…make that The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw (I was wrong about the heavy metal band naming mixup that I talked about last month, as clarified in the back matter of this issue) hits all the right fantasy notes: swords, sorcery, bipedal animal characters, a legend of a great savior, politics, classism, and so much more. The first two issues grounded the series firmly in a world that anyone familiar with the term dungeon master can relate. Then Busiek and Dewey change things up with the intermixing of an additional genre.
The new sci-fi angle is downplayed, subtle, mostly used to show that there is more to Steven T. Learoyd than we first thought. Through subtle, unacknowledged artistic sequences — beautifully delivered by Dewey, by the way — we see a possible justification for how the Champion was able to decimate the bison raiders so easily. We also see a problem for Learoyd that is sure to complicate matters in the near future.
This issue also sees the introduction of Goodfoot, a fox-woman trader, who shows up right when life at the fallen city of Keneil is most desperate and confused. She appears with her charming demeanor astride a giant cricket — insects look to be transportation / pack animals in this world — and she bears gifts and advice…for a reasonable price. Goodfoot is absolutely stunning in her design, as Dewey gives her such style and personality through her character acting and through her wonderful costuming. She is simply marvelous with her weaved hair decorations, her traveling hat (complete with a decorative crystal and dragonfly wings instead of bird feathers), large bangles, green-buttoned shirt, brown shoulder pads, scarf, and orange skirt. Dewey has put such time and consideration into every aspect of Goodfoot's design that when mixed with the tremendous personality Busiek gives the fast-talking fox, it is nearly impossible not to fall for the character's charms. I sincerely hope Goodfoot sticks around for some time to come.
Bellaire's colors continue to define and solidify the look of this book, and although we don't see the brilliant displays of magic that made the first issue so striking, there is still plenty to dazzle. What I failed to notice in the first two issues, was that during the more dramatic conversation scenes, where backgrounds are of lesser importance, Bellaire opts to knockout (change the black inks in a portion of a panel to another color for added effect) the backgrounds to more subdued color tones than what is portrayed in the foreground. I have seen many artist flat out omit detailed backgrounds in their art, but Dewey avoids taking the easy road, giving the reader much to see, while Bellaire creates the visual hierarchy and additional perspective with her knockouts and color opacity shifts. The characters might not be using magic this issue, but the technical choices of both artists bring a stylistic type of magic all the same.
Do you have any doubts that I am enjoying this new fantasy comic series? The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw is a beautiful, well-told story that started strong and does not appear to be slowing down. This issue clocks in at 24 pages with a $2.99 price and has absolutely no advertisements to interrupt the flow of the exceptional story. Compare this to certain other high-profile Big Two books that are 20–22 pages at $3.99 (or more) and with far too many meddlesome ads to pull you out of story. If you are looking for a great, beautifully-crafted fantasy comic, then look no further than The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw. The next issue cannot come soon enough. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
|Manifest Destiny V2|
Amphibia & Insecta TPB
As you might remember from my post in June 2014, I kind of flipped out over the first trade of Manifest Destiny. I had heard the series was well done, but I had no idea of just how compelling and exciting this book was until I had read those first few pages; I hammered through the trade in a couple of days. When I saw that the second trade was soon arrive, my pulse quickened with anticipation and I picked it up the day it released. I smashed through this new volume in two sittings — I would have preferred one sitting, but you know…life — and was brought fully back into the creepy, yet thrilling world I first enjoyed over six months ago.
Again the creators give us six terrific issues in this reasonably priced ($14.99 retail) collection as we discover — the hard way — new monstrous threats lurking in the American wild. Roberts’s depictions of both the amphibia and the insecta portions of the creatures in this book are wild and freaky as all heck, yet the monsters remain true in their design to the animals upon which they are each based. Whether the monsters have exoskeletons, ear drums, a proboscis, a curved bone structure for the skull, or natural body movements or postures, Roberts captures it all perfectly with the attention to detail of someone who deeply understands the anatomy of what he is depicting.
The creators utilize splash pages and larger panels sparingly, but when they do appear, they deliver the perfect emotional one-two punch to make you gasp in shock. The visual and written storytelling is just as strong as the previous volume, and we gain additional insight into not only Lewis and Clark, but many of the unsavory men in their command. The volume ends with the promise of more adventure, more horror, more of the mysterious arches, and more of the amazing Sacagawea (aka…the wise, pregnant, Native American murder machine), and I will be there eagerly waiting to see what comes next. This comic series is positively fantastic, and blast to read. You need to check this out. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!