Comics Daze

Hang on… I read comics all day yesterday. Is it possible to do that two days in a row? Let’s find out!

Hm… music… I’m still in a nostalgic mood: Let’s go with Talking Heads.

Talking Heads: 77

08:48: I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Mannie Murphy (Fantagraphics)

So… this is a book about River Phoenix?

I think the printing choices here are odd. Since they lean so hard into the watercolours-in-a-notebook vibe, what’s with the white borders on the pages? This would have looked a lot cooler if they’d gone for the whole “this is a notebook” kinda vibe.

Fantagraphics rarely do stuff like that, though — the books are kinda samey. I mean, as objects.

And then… Murphy expands the subject to be about Oregon and racism. The facts are interesting, sure… but… it’s… It’s structurally a mess. I think I see what Murphy is going for here, and while I agree 9000% with all he’s writing, I got pretty bored.

The Ken Death/Geraldo BIG REVEAL epilogue also seemed kinda odd, because… well… who cares about some Nazi asshole anyway? They’re a dime a dozen.

Talking Heads: More Songs About Buildings and Food

09:53: Orphand and the Five Beasts by James Stokoe (Dark Horse)

The last Stokoe series was absolutely insane.

Darn! This looks pretty normal…

No! It is absolutely, utterly insane! Yay!

Talking Heads: Fear of Music

10:01: Red Rock Baby Candy by Shira Spector (Fantagraphics)

This is absolutely amazeballs! It’s got such a wonderful flow… everything sort of slips and slides from one thing to the next, without ever seeming forced or weird. Well, everything’s weird, but in a great way.

I guess it reminds me a bit of Carol Tyler? And there’s no higher praise than that.

I love everything about this book. I mean, except the physical book itself; I don’t love that. It just feels to heavy and … square.

Talking Heads: Remain In Light

11:17: Mord for ord by Hans Ovesen (Bogfabrikken)

In the early 90s, it seemed like everybody was either emulating Tardi or Moebius. Guess which one this is.

But it’s good! This is a Danish comic from 1991, and it’s a story involving hired killers, a missing manuscript, and lots of intrigue and backstabbing. It’s fun! I guess I should get the other three books the author has made…

Interesting.

Talking Heads: The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads

11:54: On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden (First Second)

Wow. Another doorstop from Walden? … Oh! It’s from 2018! I guess I missed it somehow? Hm.

Walden’s super-talented… The plot of this is pretty… er OK, I won’t go into it, but it involves teenagers flying around fixing space ships/buildings, and everybody having a secret and stuff.

It’s totes engrossing, and the artwork is so gorgeous. I did have some problems telling all these people apart, though. And I’m not sure I actually understood the reveal in those caverns…

Talking Heads: Speaking in Tongues

13:50: Š! #39 (Kuš)

This issue is about death and stuff.

It’s fun.

It’s a strong issue.

Nice mix of narrative and non-narrative pieces.

Tom Tom Club: Tom Tom Club

14:14: American Splendor #6 by Harvey Pekar and others

This is it: The last issue of the original American Splendor run that I haven’t read yet. It’s a melancholy feeling… I’ve been a fan ever since I read my first issue (which I think was … *looks at the covers* #11 from 1986 (so probably in 1986, too)).

No Crumb here — Budgett & Dumm, the duo who’ve probably done the most Pekar pages…

Gerry Shamray is always experimenting. I like it.

This is more like his normal style — all crazied lines heavily based on pictures, I guess.

None of the stories here are… er… classics? But it’s still a strong issue.

David Byrne and Brian Eno: My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts

15:09: Children of the Atom #1 by Vita Ayala, Bernard Chang, Marcelo Maiolo and others (Marvel)

I can’t actually remember buying this… is this a crossover thing?

I have absolutely no idea what’s going on on these pages.

It’s very topical.

Hm… it’s not that bad? Perhaps I’ll continue reading it. Finding readable super-hero comics isn’t easy.

David Byrne: The Catherine Wheel

15:29: Bug Boys: Outside and Beyond by Laura Knetzger (RH Graphic)

This is really cute.

I wonder whether some of these stories are a bit on the scary side for the intended age class? Hm… probably not.

David Byrne: Music for The Knee Plays

16:17: Leonardo 2 by Stéphane Levallois (NBM)

So this is another one of those Louvre books…

It’s absolute twaddle.

Tom Tom Club: Close To The Bone

16:33: Castrovalva by David Genchi (Hollow Press)

Wow, this is a huge comic…

Pretty amusing, too.

Jerry Harrison: The Red And The Black

16:48: Wymoning Doll by Franz (Cinebook)

Cinebook is printing this in a smaller format, and it’d doing no favours to Franz’ already-muddy artwork…

I don’t think it’s just the reproduction… I just can’t get into this. I bailed at the halfway point.

17:16: Lon Chaney Speaks by Pat Dorian (Pantheon)

Uh-oh. OK, Pantheon has published some good comics… but a biography of an American actor?

Well, OK, how bad can it be?

Wow, that’s really awkward.

This is horrible! Much worse than I could have imagined.

I bailed ten pages later.

Perhaps I should just call it a day, even if I’ve just read comics for nine hours…

I’ve run out of Talking Heads (and related musics), too. When I first heard Remain in Light as… a twelve year old? I was flabbergasted at how brilliant it was, and I also had this idea that surely somebody who was that effortlessly fantastic had to have created an enormous oeuvre of amazing music… and so it seemed to be: All their old albums, and the side projects (Tom Tom Club, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, etc) were stunning.

So it felt like such a betrayal when they started to suck, and I couldn’t believe that they kept sucking. Badly! I know it’s absurd, but that’s how I felt as a teenager.

Ten fantastic albums is ten fantastic albums more than most people make. So thank you David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth and Jerry Harrison.

A&R1986: Eternity Smith

Eternity Smith (1986) #1-5 by Dennis Malonee, Rick Hoberg and others

This is Renegade’s first (and I think only) colour book. And it’s a kinda-sorta super-hero book (well, it’s got a guy running around in leotards who has (augmented) powers, so I think it counts).

Both are unusual things for Renegade to be publishing… and it’s also a strange time to be launching a series like this, as it’s in the middle of the Black and White Boom period.

But perhaps things will become clearer after reading the first three pages:

The text seems to hint at this being a continuation of something? Which is seldom a good way to start off a series like this… and it isn’t, I think?

The “artwork” is by Hoberg, but the “rendering” is by Tim Burgard. I guess that’s a roundabout way of saying that Burgard is the inker?

The colours (by Janice Cohen) are competent and professional-looking, but the artwork looks rather basic.

“D-daddy?” Hm.

“And you are a man. I can see that.” Is she saying that his leotard is a bit tight in the crotch? I’m just saying that this father/daughter banter is really odd.

But everything here is odd.

“That woman seems a likely candidate for physical abuse.” I’m with that guy: “What?”

The lines seem like they’re coming from an alternate dimension where everything is weird and awkward.

“You are vermin!. All of you!”

So this series had originally been a pitch to Eclipse Comics, and reading between the lines (you have to use a microscope), I’m guessing Dean Mullaney passed on it? So somehow Deni Loubert ended up with it.

But Eclipse did publish Champions, also written by Malonee, and it sucked.

Note to people who want to add a mystery to their books: So we’ve been given that this mysterious Tesseract character is a woman, so it has to be one of the female characters in this book. There are exactly three of them: Smith’s daughter and wife, and the wife of his arch nemesis. So it’s obviously either his wife or his daughter coming from the future to save them.

Here’s the note: Add more plausible suspects for more mysterious mysteries.

We get a bunch of essays on various sciency things, and they’re not bad. But the first one is kinda milketoastey.

I can’t stress how bizarre this book is enough. So the arch nemesis is using his own wife as a hostage… and then Smith calls his bluff… and the nemesis goes “You’re of use to me now!” to his wife.

Oh, and the black bodyguard is called “Kung”.

What? “Running boards”? This is a running board:

She’s standing in the middle of the seat there, isn’t she? What? What?

… Oh, he’s saying that she would have preferred to stand on the running board instead of “among […] her crew”?

What?

Well, OK, so that’s kinda amusing? But it means that Tesseract has to be the daughter.

The mystery revealed next issue!

Er… Oh daddy?

OK, paper dolls.

What the fuck is this.

Hah! Tesseract is the daughter! I’m so smart S M R T.

*puke*

A sixth issue is announced, but was never published. But, as you can see, it was meant to be the final issue at Renegade, and then the series would go to a different publisher… which turns out to be Hero Comics. Somehow I’ve bought a couple issues of that (but not the first one, which I surmise finished up the first storyline). This is a blog series about Renegade, but I might as well take a look at the Hero Comics issues I have:

Wow. It looks totally different! Did they swap out everybody?

But no, it’s just a new inker, E. R. Cruz (and a new colourist). It definitely looks like Cruz has redrawn everything, and it’s now in a Spanish lush style. Looks great.

They don’t actually fuck, though.

Cruz is gone the next issue, so we’re back to the normal barely competent rendering.

So: Eternity Smith is really, really odd, and while it’s not totally without qualities, it’s pretty bad.

Hero Comics published nine issues. It looks like a reprinting was attempted in 2017, but was abandoned after two issues?

Mark Waid writes in Amazing Heroes #98, page 46:

According to Hoberg, Eternity Smith
was originally pitched to DC Com-
ics. “I would like to have worked
with them on this, and they said they
wanted to option it, but, after talk-
ing with Deni [Loubert, Renegade
publisher] awhile, we hit it off real
well. We decided to go with Rene-
gade, and now we have total creative
control.”
Hoberg and Mallonee had been
planning to do something together
for many years. “We’ve known each
other for quite a while, and it just
happened that when we got to do
something together last year, which
was an Iron Man story, I found that
we were just terrific together. We’re
an odd couple at best—we have com-
pletely different personalities and
beliefs, but we jell wonderfully on
comics.” They decided that they
wanted to collaborate, and made
time for a brainstorming session that
went outstandingly well.

[…]

“The basic genesis for this idea
is one that I’ve been interested in for
quite a while and Dennis likes it too:
What if a character like Buck Rogers
came back to his own time and had
to pick up his old life?”

Somebody writes in Amazing Heroes #144, page 83:

Eternity Smith is one of those books
that goes in cycles. It started out as
a well put-together project, nicely
written and nicely drawn, with a
fascinating» concept behind it. The
first six issue run, readers were never
sure when (or if) an issue was going
to come out, from what company, and
whether the quality was going to stay
consistent. By the time the sixth part
came out, finishing off the first story,
I had lost interest, and couldn’t
remember what was going on.

[…]

This issue Tesseract, who may or
may not be the incarnation of Skylark
Smith (Ethan’s daughter) in the
future, returns to the past, seemingly
intent on killing her father. To make
matters worse, Skylark herself seems
intent on committing incest with
daddy, who is only slightly older than
she is!

[…]

The scripting of the issue is fairly
tight, although the dialogue tends to
be a little stilted at times. Perhaps
what is most bothersome about the
book is the incestuous nature of
Skylark Smith. This issue she sings
a specially written love song to her
father, while caressing his chest.
Everyone is unnerved (rightfully so),
and I got a sense of deja vu of the
Champions. Mallonee acknowledges
sexuality in his world (something
most writers and companies won’t),
but doesn’t anyone in his world have
a normal, healthy sexual relationship?
The art is weak in places, although
functional as a whole. Burgard and
McClellan do seem to have a problem
with facial structure that could be
worked on. Their anatomy and
scenery are fine, but their faces are
a little distorted at times, and Archie-
like at others.

Russell Freund writes in The Comics Journal #112, page 43:

Want to see what happens when a renegade
tries to run with the pack? Pick up the first
issufe of Eternity Smith, now available from
Renegade press. Other Renegade titles are
black-and-white and pricey; Eternity Smith
is in full color, priced to sell at a buck and
a quarter. Most Renegade titles are small
press projects, hard to classify; Eternity Smith
is costumed action/adventure with zap guns
and ‘bots, and other kiddie sci-fi stuff. It’s
the kind of thing First does all of the time,
but First’s books usually have some kind of
flair. Eternity Smith is just barely compe-
tent.

[…]

I admit that this isn’t the sort of book that
appeals to me much, even when really well
done. But this book is so flat, predictable,
and ordinary that even if it were an example
of the sort of book I loved, I wouldn’t like
it. For one thing, Skylark Smith is ridicu-
lous. She is supposed to be the leader of
some sort of all-purpose assault squad. As
a cover, they book themselves into clubs as
a pop music group. Great idea. Undercover
agent, seeking anonymity, becomes pop star.
I suppose it could be played for comedy,
with the crack team of agents working as
a sleazy, incompetent lounge act, but Eter-
nity Smith is the kind of kiddie book where
the heroine has to be absolutery great at
everything, so we get to have her touchy-
feely song lyrics quoted to us at length, and
we get pictures of people in the audience
having movements in their souls, and pic-
tures of Skylark, mike in hand, as • ‘she
glories in the raw emotion Of the song…
and, once on stage, she loses herself in it,
and in the adulation of the throng.” If
you’ve always wished you could leally buy
all of the Dazzler’s records, or if the idea of
Sheena Easton finishing up a set and dash.
ing off to thwart nuclear terrorists sounds
plausible to you, then this might be just
your cup of weewee.

[…]

As for the art, those of you who just can’t
get enough of Rich Buckler will be thriled
to know Rick Hoberg’s still working. Actu-
ally, Hoberg has his virtues. He presents the
essential action in each panel cleanly and
clearly, and he varies the angle and point
of view from panel to panel with admirable
fluidity. But his drawing and composition
have the familia’r cheerful blandness of the
modern hero book. It’s not bad work, and
it certainly isn’t amateurish, but it’s sterile
and it’s tame, adjectives I would never
dream Of applying to a Kirby or a Ditka.
It has no personality beyond the chipper
efficiency of the mid ’80s costumed adven-
ture book, available at newsstands every-
where.
But isn’t that what’s intended? I get the
feeling this book turned out exactly as Rene
gade wanted it to. Eternity Smith is a totally
commercial product born of the coldest
calculation. Look, the Renegade people
have ambitions too. like to own
houses, nice cars, take swank vacations.
Why should they be content to squat in the
9mall press ghetto, sending out little stacks
of quirky books, to an audience that may
or may not be there? We are living in the
haveit.all ’80s. Let ’em get a little fun out
of life.

I was unable to find anybody on the interwebs that discussed Eternity Smith.

This blog post is part of the Renegades and Aardvarks series.

Comics Daze

It’s a nice day for reading comics. And I could listen to… hm… Yeah! I’ll listen to a lot of Bowie. It’s a Bowie kind of day.

David Bowie: Space Oddity

06:02: I Wish I Could Say “Thank You” by Yukari Takinami (Fanfare/Ponent Mon)

So this book is about the artist’s mother dying from pancreatic cancer.

I’m having some problems with the chronology here — things seem a bit messy, but that’s probably a conscious choice. The translation is somewhat wonky — the medical terms don’t seem to be quite the right ones often?

The ending was quite moving, though. Not the bit where the mother died, which was very matter of fact — to an almost bizarre degree. But the very last pages.

David Bowie: Hunky Dory

06:59: In Your Next Life You Will Be Together With All Your Friends by Anders Brekhus Nilsen

Oh, I’d forgotten that I had ordered this… that’s the nice thing about comics that take longer time than probably planned — it arrives out of the blue as an unexpected gift.

This is a collection of odds and ends (mostly published before), and some sketchbook stuff.

These kinds of things usually don’t work that well as a reading experience, but this one really coheres: The pieces seem to complement each other and grow into a larger thing somehow.

I love it, and I also love the thingness of the book — with the different paper stocks and the insets and stuff, it’s just a very satisfying object.

David Bowie: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars

07:24: The Thud by Mikaël Ross (Fantagraphics)

Lovely artwork, and it’s a ten-hankie story.

The pacing is a bit odd… but it’s a really strong book.

David Bowie: Aladdin Sane

08:09: Joe Frank: Ascent by Jason Novak (Fantagraphics)

I like these texts a lot. Very funny and sometimes affecting.

I’m assuming these texts already existed, and this is an adaptation? (It’s against my religion to read the text on the back covers of books (or introductions).) I’m not sure the illustrations bring a lot to these texts… but… it’s still a good book.

David Bowie: Diamond Dogs

08:57: The Strange by Jérôme Ruillier (Drawn & Quarterly)

I like the storytelling approach here — it’s a chorus of people recounting their encounters with “the strange” (i.e., an immigrant).

But it also feels really uncomfortable, because he remains a cipher who seemingly has no agency (or personality) of his own. All we get is what other people (and a bird) observes.

So it’s a bit “eh?”, but the mood conveyed by these pages is impeccable.

David Bowie: David Live (1)

09:22: The Golden Age by Roxanne Moreil & Cyril Pedrosa (First Second)

The graphic technique here is astounding — it looks like everything has been screenprinted. But I guess Pedrosa is just going hog wild with layers in Photoshop.

I get exhausted just by looking at it, though: It looks so labour intensive.

The storyline is… I guess… a kinda post-Game of Thrones kinda thing? It’s got a bewildering number of characters, and there’s plenty of intrigue and murder. But no sex or torture, which makes it less Game of Thronesian. It’s pretty good? I guess I’ll be getting the second volume, too.

David Bowie: David Live (2)

10:20: Heritage Awesomes Silicon Session Prototype V 6.0 by Carson Grubaugh and Dave Sim

I guess this is a parody of a Heritage auction catalogue or something? Never having seen one, I guess I’m missing how hilariously funny the parody is.

Perhaps.

In any case, this is part of a fundraiser for Grubaugh to finally release The Strange Death of Alex Raymond? It’s a pretty handsome book, although I have to admit I didn’t actually read that much of it… perhaps there’s a ton of hilarity here… or just more “comics metaphysics”, which is (as far as I can tell) Sim’s version of what the rest of us call “random things”.

But here’s Grubaugh’s version of Ironheart, the Riri Williams super-hero from Marvel.

David Bowie: Station to Station

10:58: Min vilje, din lov by Bo Torstensen (Bogfabrikken)

This is a Danish comic from 1994 — and there wasn’t that many of them around that time (except for comics aimed at children). This one feels really ambitious, even if it’s basically just a very, very convoluted mystery.

Torstensen is obviously very influenced by Tardi: The panel placement, the tone, the views of the city… but the linework and the characters look nothing like Tardi, and the characters are pretty… bizarre? I mean, look at the two women in the lower right panel: They look like they a meter tall or something.

These pages are so busy that it’s difficult to interpret them immediately… and the story is also oddly paced. But it’s an interesting artefact to find; kinda thrilling — like something from a parallel universe. Unfortunately, he just did four albums, and he’s now apparently working for Lego.

David Bowie: Low

12:01: Nobody Likes You, Greta Grump by Cathy Malkasian (Fantagraphics)

This is super-duper cute.

I laughed and I cried. Thumbs up.

David Bowie: “Heroes”

12:31: The Crossroads at Midnight by Abby Howard (Iron Circus)

Uh-oh. Another book from Iron Circus… I think I’ve read several books from then in a row that have been pretty dire… Well, let’s see.

Wow, that’s really nice artwork. It kinda reminds me of Scott McCloud when he was doing those lush black and white issues of Zot… only better.

The storytelling, though, is rough. After having read a couple dozen pages I started flipping back and forth to check whether the pages had been printed out of order, and then I theorised that the pages with black borders were a flashback, and then I wondered whether those were supposed to be the “real world” while the white-bordered pages are fantasy, and then I gave up and kept on reading.

And then it ends! I thought this was one long story, but this is a collection of stories? Horror stories? Geeze. And the next story starts with a woman finding a grody mattress on the streets? How much does a mattress cost anyway?

I think I’d rather sleep on the floor than on mattress I’ve found on the street, really.

But, OK, after my readjustment… These are really good horror stories! And more gruesome than you’d expect.

Howard is really talented.

David Bowie: Welcome to the Blackout (Live London ’78) (1)

13:21: Š! #38 (Kuš)

It’s been a couple years since I last read Š!… I used to have a subscription, but that lapsed, and I forgot to renew it or something.

This isn’t the strongest issue I’ve read — most of the pieces seem really slight, but there’s a couple good ones in here (as seen above).

David Bowie: Welcome to the Blackout (Live London ’78) (1)

13:34: Power Pack #4 by Ryan North, Nico Leon, Rachelle Rosenberg and others (Marvel)

This isn’t firing on all cylinders…

… but it’s still pretty amusing.

David Bowie: Welcome to the Blackout (Live London ’78) (1)

13:49: Wiccan and Hulkling #1 by Howard/Vecchio/Grundetjern and others (Marvel)

So, I know nothing about this “King in Black” nonsense…

… but it’s a bunch of Venoms? Fine, fine; no problem. But the book is such a mishmash of scenes that go nowhere… it’s a very frustrating read.

And the artwork does nothing for me.

David Bowie: Welcome to the Blackout (Live London ’78) (2)

14:06: Maids by Katie Skelly (Fantagraphics)

This is really good!

It’s got a compulsive readability thing going on.

David Bowie: Lodger

14:22: 2024 by Ted Rall (NBM)

I like Ted Rall. Or at least his drawing style: Those wonky faces and those thick/thin lines. Even the lettering is appealing to me.

But this is so overwritten that there’s hardly room for any artwork.

It’s been a long while since I’ve read Nineteen Eighty-Four, and I didn’t realise until halfway through that Rall was doing a scene by scene … parody? of it. I mean, it was clear from the first page that this was a riff on it, but I thought that is was more general and less specific… but then we really do get a scene by scene version of it, down to being tortured by having to watch channel 101, which is the most boring nature channel ever (only about rats, you know).

I know! That sounds very funny indeed. But … it just feels badly edited. It’s like there is a really funny parody of the novel buried in here somewhere, but it’s hard to sift through this for the gems.

David Bowie: Scary Monsters

15:45: The Abominable Mr. Seabrook by Joe Ollmann (Drawn & Quarterly)

This starts of well with a very condensed life of this guy…

… but then it turns out that that was just the introduction! And now the book starts and we’ll get those 15 pages expanded to 300? I was getting bored with the buy after the first 15 pages already!

I’ve never been so instantly turned off by a comic like this. Whoever came up with the idea for doing that recap of his life at the start?

This isn’t bad, but I find that I have absolutely no interest in this book, and I bailed at page 80. Just out of sheer boredom. But I suspect that people that like this sort of biography will like this book.

Perhaps it would have worked better without that introduction.

David Bowie: Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars (1)

16:49: Tuberculosis 2020 by Rikke Villadsen

This book is a homage to Munch. It’s a gorgeous little book — the reproduction of a sketchbook is great, and the colours are fabulous.

And it’s hilarious!

I love how she’s also reproducing the bleed-throughs from the original book. It’s sometimes disturbing, because the next page in this book isn’t always what we’re seeing the bleed-throughs of. If you follow my drift.

Anyway; it’s a wonderful little book.

David Bowie: Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars (2)

17:02: The Underground Sketchbook by Tomi Ungerer (Fantagraphics)

I guess if you were a hep cat in the mid 60s, you probably had this book, right?

It’s fine.

OK, I can feel myself fading… I think that’s enough comics for a day.

It’s was a very varied mix of stuff? And while there were a couple clunkers, it was mostly pretty spiffy.

A&R1986: Murder

Murder (1986) #1-3 edited by Robin Snyder

Another three months, another anthology from Robin Snyder. The first ones were centred on various Ditko bits that he apparently had lying around, but this one doesn’t mention Ditko at all on the cover. Let’s have a look at how the first issue starts:

Well, OK, there’s more Ditko, but that’s a strange way to start off an anthology. First an indicia-like page (with artwork by Erik Larsen), and then an in-house ad (presumably to make the Ditko story start on the right-hand page), and then a splash page… I mean, it’s an odd way to entice somebody browsing the racks of a comics store to buy your book.

That’s the Mysterious Traveller looking on to the ironic denouement of this story, isn’t it? So perhaps this was originally destined for a Carlton comic (before Carlton went bust)?

It’s a pretty loopy story, even as the Traveller stories go. Which is nice.

BIG HATE!

The title of this anthology is “Murder”, so you’d think there’d be some thematic unity here, but — it’s just the normal mishmash of random stuff that Snyder had access to. So you get one almost surreally unfunny Henry Boltinoff page per issue…

… and the longest piece in the issue is by Brad Foster (!) of mini-comics fame… but it’s an illustrated text piece about some mummies and stuff. I have to admit to bailing before I got halfway through. But the artwork’s nice.

All three issues have an adaptation of an Edgar Allen Poe story, all adapted by Rich Margopoulos and artwork by Dan Day… but with different inkers/finishers. So here we have Bark Summers, and … it looks a bit wonky, doesn’t it?

This is so random! Sudden page by Alex Toth about how people have unsymmetrical faces!

And then this back cover page by Ernie Colón, which…. is it an ad for something? I assumed it was a preview of something in the next issue, but nope.

It’s just a nice illustration Colón had in a drawer somewhere?

The randomness of Murder makes it charming in a way.

The first issue was stealthy on the subject, but the second one says so explicitly: This is really Revolver #11.

Dan Day does the inking himself on the second Poe story, and it looks more striking.

Jed Corby/Leo Summers does an O. Henry sci fi story… it’s got an interestingly scratchy quality to some of the panels, but it’s somewhat amateurish.

I have no idea who this is by (it doesn’t say so anywhere in the issue, I think?), and it’s…. kinda cute?

Ditko does a very strange “deal with the devil” story — it’s odd because here the devil seems to renege on his deals all the time, and is very interested in… burning down plants…

Allan Petersen brings the philosophy, and David Day joins his brother on the Poe adaptation, bringing a lusher, almost Corben-like sheen to it.

Ditko does a two-pager where the miscreant goes free for once. Very unusual. But I guess that’s why it’s called “Social Justice”, because Ditko doesn’t believe in the concept.

And then we get Wally Wood! With Nick Cuti and Ernie Colón… so was this an old, unfinished piece that the other two completed? There’s no contextualising whatsoever of the contents here.

Snyder likes. Talk. Short sentences.

So… the randomness of what’s in here gives this a strange readability, but it’s not actually… you know… good.

I was unable to find any reviews of Murder on the interwebs.

This blog post is part of the Renegades and Aardvarks series.

A&R1986: Ms. Tree Summer Special

Ms. Tree Summer Special (1986) #1 by Max Allan Collins, Terry Beatty and Gary Kato

I covered the main run of Ms. Tree here, but there’s a couple of specials to mop up. This is the first one: The Rock’n’Roll Summer Special.

We’re into the days of the Black and White Boom, and Deni Loubert is getting worried — as she had reasons to be, because the subsequent bust ended Renegade. Anyway, here’s the first three pages of this comic:

The main Ms. Tree series used a single colour (in addition to the black, of course), but used two different tones of that colour… for the first dozen? issues, and then Beatty just did a single flat colour (because that’s less work). Here, we have the blue in duotone, and then a second colour (brown) used in a single shade. Looks pretty good?

I got pretty fed up with Ms. Tree while reading the main series in a marathon reading session, so I’m surprised at how much I liked getting back into it. Not that there’s anything outstanding about this (fourteen page) story — but it’s pretty entertaining? It’s like encountering a friend you didn’t know you had missed?

Beatty’s er action scenes are as awkward as ever.

The rest of the issue doesn’t deal with Ms. Tree at all. First off we have a long piece (from 1983, apparently) about Bobby Darin. This had presumably been published somewhere before?

It’s really striking how different Beatty’s artwork looks here (without the Gary Kato assists). It’s obviously based on photo reference a lot, and the sheer stiff awkwardness of it all takes into a different sphere: It’s pretty cool. It’s almost kinda punk?

But… Bobby Darin? I’m not sure I’ve ever heard any of his stuff. *pauses JPEGMAFIA playing on the stereo*

It’s kinda more croonerish than I had expected? But it’s got a kinda something going on, I guess…

Ah, a novelty hit… It’s all very pre-Beatles.

Sometimes the traced look of the artwork becomes a bit much. But it’s told pretty well, I guess.

Darin movied with the times…

OK, I can unpause JPEGMAFIA now, or…

No! Then we get the story of Collins’ own 60s garage band. It’s a pretty interesting story… I wonder whether they’re also on Youtube?

Hey! That’s kinda cool! It’s got a charming garage feel to it.

It’s good! I’m shocked.

And then we round out the issue with some versions of Ms. Tree by other artists.

So! That was a quirky collection of stuff, and I remember some letter writers being dissatisfied with the low Ms. Tree content level here, but I found it to be a most satisfactory read.

*unpauses JPEGMAFIA on the stereo*

I was unable to find any reviews of this comic on the web tubes.

This blog post is part of the Renegades and Aardvarks series.