Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 6/26/2015

Friday Slice of Heaven

Welcome back to Donist World. I’m Donist, and I am joined by our CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / where’d-all-da-comics-go? specialist Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). It’s been a nutty week here at the Donist World corporate office (Mom’s basement), but we’re pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps and getting cracking, so let’s dive right into the evil that is the red onion, and why this disturbing trend of putting copious amounts of what I like to call “the devil’s root” on everything is destroying Amer…hold on a moment…oh. Obie just reminded me that we are here to look at comics, even though we only had one in our pull this week; I guess having two job interviews, a project due, hitting the halfway point of the second installment of Kibbles ’N’ Bots, doing some critiques, and avoiding red onions really took a toll on me. I guess it’s okay that it was a slow week after all. So, grab some killer tacos, and a strong ginger ale — or perhaps an iced tea, iced tea is nice — and settle in to enjoy this week’s post. Thank you for reading.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Fade Out #7
The Fade Out #7 - Written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Sean Phillips, colored by Elizabeth Breitweiser, published by Image Comics. Closeted gay Hollywood heartthrob Tyler Graves may have survived his recent car accident, but the threat of the studio security thug Brodsky still looms. Meanwhile, Charlie (screenwriter who can no longer write and has been living a lie) and Maya Silver (the blond starlet replacing the murdered Valeria Sommers) have a magical getaway weekend that they both know will come to an end all too soon.

This Hollywood crime / noir comic continues to be fantastic. The series as a whole is dark, foreboding in a way that leaves you to suspect that none of the characters will make it through this series unscathed — with the possible exception of Dottie (PR girl for the the studio). What Brubaker has layered into the story so well is that most of the characters have put themselves into each of the terrible positions they find themselves in. There are no real good guys. You mostly have varying degrees of damaged, bad, and wicked, yet each of the characters, even those who only appear briefly, are so fully developed, so fascinating, you can’t help but be interested by what is transpiring on the page. But when one of the main characters appear, like Charlie and Maya, the story becomes utterly compelling.

Phillips’s art is as amazing as always, only this issue showcases something I have not seen in a comic from these creators in quite some time: vibrance and light and moments void of the shadows that usually darken the page. Breitweiser’s colors are key to the impact of this issue and elevate all of the scenes tremendously. We sees the use of light through the hospital room window, with brightly-colored pink roses against the greens of a wall, and of Dottie’s blue and white outfit. But then we cut to the scenes of Charlie and Maya at the beach house, and the scene is startling in its brilliance as the sun reflects across the calm ocean, and the tan sand glows with warmth. Maya is radiant with nary a shadow to be found on either her body or all-white beach wear (cool costuming, btw). But Charlie…even in this scene Charlie has some shadows looming on him, like even this joyful, potentially happy time can’t pull the darkness and the weight of his world away. Once they return to reality, Breitweiser’s color palette shifts back to the murky world we are familiar with, and we see the fantasy is over. I also have to say that Phillips’s character acting and storytelling during and after the bar fight are spectacular.

No superheroes. No zombies. No outer space stuff. All old-Hollywood, reality-based noir drama and The Fade Out absolutely excels for it. If you are a fan of crime / mystery / noir / period pieces, then you need to immediately get your hands on this exceptional comic. Yes there is a cool first trade, but if you want the full experience, you really need to pick up the individual floppies for the bonus letters column and the fascinating historical essay at the back of each issue (this issue has an essay on Errol Flynn). The Fade Out moves at its own pace, slowly building the Hollywood studio world while providing a view into the many interesting characters within that world, each of whom has secrets threatening to destroy them. I have loved Brubaker and Phillips’s previous work (Sleeper, Criminal), but The Fade Out is quickly becoming my favorite of the esteemed bunch. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Stray Bullets:
Über Alles Edition TPB
Stray Bullets: Über Alles Edition TPB - Everythinged by David Lapham, edited by Maria Lapham, copy edits by Deborah Purcell, Karen Hoyt, and Renee Miller, published by Image Comics. Okay, no breakdown as to what this book is about other than to say it is a crime-drama that began in 1995, carried through to issue 40 in 2005, and then vanished until the final issue was printed in 2015 with Image Comics. This beast of a book is 1200+ pages of black and white, not for the kiddies, harsh, criminal comic booking at its best. All 41 issues of the original series are contained in this hefty collection.

I am only seven issues in on this massive volume, but I am wholeheartedly loving every page of what I have read thus far. This is despite having to peek through my fingers, or avert my gaze altogether at some of the brutality involved in the story. Each issue is a mostly self-contained story, but characters come in and out and are often referenced, so reading this series in sequential order will definitely be more impactful as you go along.

This one honestly took me by surprise. I like to think that I was there for all of the major comic events as they happened, whether they were the early Alan Moore works I love so much, the Frank Miller comics, or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles explosion, but somehow I missed out on Stray Bullets. I’m guessing it had to do with being released in 1995, when I had gotten annoyed with all of the alternative covers, polybags, trading cards, and other nonsense that became more important than simply telling a good story, so I simply wasn’t there the first time around. That sucks, because Stray Bullets is a series that would have kept me reading comics had I known it existed. Let’s just say I’m glad to have finally met its acquaintance.

So yeah, like I said, I’m only 1/6th of the way through, but I am so digging this book. Although I am glad to have it all in one large package, I will say that I won’t be reading this thing in bed, and that I usually have to be sitting upright with the book in my lap, but hey…good comics is good comics, you make the sacrifice. If you like gritty crime stories, and I know you do, then you must get ahold of this awesome collection. Just off of the seven issues I have read thus far, this tome comes VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

Too Much Stuff to Do, Not Enough Time - Let’s end on a positive note, and leave the negativity behind. It was a crazy, stressful week, but overall a good one…I hope. I at least have some Stray Bullets to read, the second volume of The Silver Surfer TPB to read, some Kibbles ’N’ Bots to write, and a web design project to turn in. Oh yeah, something to critique, and a query letter to submit to a publisher. Oh yeah, oh yeah, I also want to pitch a story to comic book publisher. No worries, it’s all under control. Bird by bird, denizens, bird by bird.

No time to figure out a song this week, but here is some Fuzzbox awesomeness!

Thanks for reading!


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