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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Employee Pick: Picture This by Lynda Barry

Remember being a child and drawing all the time, without inhibition, for little more reason than the pleasure of it?  When did you stop?  Why?

These questions are at the heart of Picture This,  by offbeat underground cartoonist Lynda Barry.  A fitting companion to her acclaimed writing book What It Is, Picture This is part autobiography, part instructional activity book meant to assist those who find themselves saying "I wish I could draw" in starting over from the beginning, from that first primitive impulse to make an image.

Barry's combination of collage, watercolor, and inking makes for a comforting and cozy style; the meandering narrative encourages the kind of non-linear thinking that creativity needs in order to flourish.  Small doodled characters and typewritten asides abound, as well as weird ads for an imaginary brand of cigarettes which come to symbolize the doubts that eventually choke out the urge to draw.   Barry asserts that it's okay to copy, to trace, to just color something in; art-making is meditative, a kind of therapy, and if we draw first and foremost to reach that state of mind, the images we wish we could make will follow.

Picture This is an eye-opener, and often suprisingly touching; this reviewer could not recommend it more to anyone looking to rediscover the magic of "arting"!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

This Week's Picks

Walking Dead 78 - 

In this issue, the gang has fun in the sun and enjoys a pool party/barbecue/baseball game/some other random event.  Sorry, that was an old issue of X-men I was looking at.  Those stories were written by people who liked their characters.  Robert Kirkman, writer of Walking Dead, likes to torture his characters (and readers).  There is no time for Rick Grimes to come up for air from the deaths in last issue, we've got another (heavily armed) group circling in on the gang's new safe haven.  It seems like complications are coming at "Constable" Grimes from every angle.  He's going to need to tread carefully or he'll end up in a ditch.  Oh yeah, there's zombies, too.

Morning Glories 4 - 

All right, let's be honest.  I have no idea why these kids have been kidnapped and thrown in this "school", but I'll tell you one thing; I certainly want to.  This comic has all the addictive confusion of "Lost" without polar bears or beaches (so far).  While some of the characters may seem fit in to stereotypes at a first glance, they show a potential for depth and growth.  An interesting mix of OC characters (plus a few IQ points) and a Poe-like feeling of confinement and helplessness, this is a series you definitely want to watch out for. 

New Ultimates 4 - 

"Rampaging Thor".  That's what this issue should be named.  Valkyrie is dead (sorry if you didn't read the last ish) and Goldilocks is not happy.  Like any Viking worth his mettle, his ire results in messy red puddles and death rattles.  Luckily there is a horde of dragons and trolls nearby to bear the brunt of the attack.  Turns out that the Odinson has a bit of a violent streak he's been holding back.  One problem: When Thor runs out of trolls, he might not stop.  Back away slowly while drawing attention to the most expendable Avengers in the area.  Sorry, Hawkeye....

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ghost Busters!

Okay, okay, I lied.  This post has nothing to do with Slimer, Gozer, or even Peter Venkman PHD.  Instead, we are going to give you a few other names to list in your rolodex under "E" for excorcism.  Check out the following titles for my recommendations.

Hellblazer: City of Demons -

I may be in the minority on this one, but John Constantine has always been my favorite Alan Moore creation.  He is a cynical detective wizard with all of the street smarts of Luke Cage and none of the pretense of Dr. Strange.  Last Wednesday, a mini-series penned by Si Spencer debuted with line-work by the incomparable Sean Murphy (of Joe the Barbarian fame).   In all honesty, if Murphy were going to draw an entire issue of Constantine standing outside of a bar, smoking a cigarette, I'd buy two copies.  I can't get enough of either the character or the artist. Looking past the artwork (if that's possible), the first issue of the five-part story sets some interesting wheels in motion.  I am eager to see where it leads.  Be sure to pick it up now, so you can follow along on Constantine's trip to the City of Demons.

Kekkaishi -

By night, junior high student Yoshimori Sumimura is a "kekkaishi" - a demon-hunter who specializes in creating magical barriers around his prey. By day, Yoshimori's got some other demons to battle: an addiction to sweets and a seriously crotchety grandfather! Yoshimori's pretty 16-year-old neighbour and childhood friend, Tokine Yukimura, is also a kekkaishi, but their families are feuding over who is the true practitioner of the art. Yoshimori couldn't care less about catching demons...until he realizes that his apathetic attitude is taking a toll on his friendship with Tokine. Just as he decides to take matters into his own hands, a couple of amphibious demons and the pesky ghost of a pastry-chef show up to complicate matters!

Mushishi -

Some live in the deep darkness behind your eyelids. Some eat silence. Some thoughtlessly kill. Some simply drive men mad. Shortly after life emerged from the primordial ooze, these deadly creatures, mushi, came into terrifying being. And they still exist and wreak havoc in the world today. Ginko, a young man with a sardonic smile, has the knowledge and skill to save those plagued by mushi . . . perhaps.

- Ryan

*Blurbs taken from back of books