I’m back from the comic shop again this week and I got 4 new comics plus a hard cover collection:

  • StormWatch Post Human Division – 10
  • Bad Planet – 1
  • Ghosting – 1
  • Drifted – 99ยข Preview
  • Conan (Vol 3) The Tower of the Elephant and Other Stories
  • Since it was my birthday this week I got a few more things as gifts:

  • Devil Dinosaur Omnibus
  • Planet Hulk Hardcover
  • The Girls’ Guide To Guys’ Stuff
  • Notes for a War Story
  • Chance in Hell
  • Whew! I’ve got a lot of cool stuff to read. Now here’s a couple of reviews:

  • The Annotated Northwest Passage by Scott Chantler
  • I’m a fan of history books and I’m a fan of comic books. This book is a mixture of them so I hoped it would be good. And it was. I like it when what I hope for happens. Even the little things.

    “Northwest Passage” tells a historical fiction tale of the English and French fighting it out in Canada in 1755. Plus some Cree are in on the action too. The story takes place in and around a Hudson Bay Company fort and the fort’s Governor. This governor is a man who is a hero in England for his exploits as an explorer and all around mountain man. He’s about to be tested again.

    If I were to guess I would say that Scott Chantler comes out of the animation industry. I notice that comic book artists who come out of that industry do one thing that peeves me. They use model sheets for characters’ faces that they simply scale up. What I mean by this is that they figure out a bunch of expressions for a character and use these expressions over and over regardless of the size of the face they are drawing. A normal comic book artist changes how he draws an expression as the size of the drawing changes. I find that more effective. But that’s just a stylistic pet peeve of mine.

    Another thing I notice is that guys who come out of animation are very good storytellers. That is the case here. Scott Chantler paces the story really well in both writing and drawing. The book is in black and white with grey tones and the tones are done well too. It’s all around well drawn and a smashing read. It’s more of an action filled romp than a staid history piece (though I like those too) and is not about everyday life but the drama of crisis and war. Lots of blood, death, and violence on the frontier.

    It’s been a while since I read a historical fiction graphic novel (Age of Bronze rocks! So does Berlin!) and this was one of the good ones. Check it out. Recommended.

  • Grendel Archives by Matt Wagner
  • I first read a Grendel story when the “Devil by The Deed” graphic novel came out in 1988. I dug it and bought the Grendel ongoing series that came out afterwards. A lot of good stuff. But this collection is from before then. This is the first Grendel stuff that appeared in the anthology book “Comico Primer” and B/W Grendel 1-3 from 1982-1984.

    These issues have never been reprinted before and the original issues are hard to come by and expensive so I’ve never read them. According to the intro they’ve never been reprinted because Matt Wagner says they are an incomplete and abandoned story that he eventually reworked into “Devil by The Deed”. I can see his point.

    This is the work of a young artist just starting out but you can see his strengths already. The drawing is a bit crude and stubby but he throws black around well and experiments with storytelling in an interesting way. All in all a good start.

    If you’ve never read a Grendel story before than it is prudent to note that he’s a villain. A charming and educated man who’s secret identity is that of a best selling author who is part of high society. But make no mistake, he is a villain. The hero of the piece is a werewolf named Argent. He’s not a pleasant fellow as he constantly struggles to keep his wild side in check. The hero is bestial and the villain charming. That’s the strange dance of Grendel.

    The first part of the book sets this up and is interesting but the second half starts to tell the unfinished part of the story. It’s an uninteresting high society murder tale and I can see why Matt Wagner deserted and then reworked Grendel.

    If you want to read some Grendel don’t start with this. Grab “Devil by The Deed” and whatever else you can find that came after 1988 especially the stuff by Matt Wagner himself or Bernie Mireault. Come back to this archive if you get curious. I liked it.