Thursday, January 14, 2010

Zombies, Dylan and the Bible

The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks
The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks. Max Brooks and Ibraim Roberson. Three Rivers.
Brooks' silly and self-important "historical'' zombie vignettes serve as illustrated back-stories to his popular series of expository zombie prose novels. It's a decent enough gimmick, and this graphic treatment might be entertaining and important to acolytes and fans of his other undead work. But the only redeeming feature for the unconvinced is the lithe and imaginative illustrations and vivid storytelling of Ibraim Roberson, whose craft and skill far outclasses Brooks' moribund material.
Bob Dylan Revisited: 13 Graphic Interpretations of Bob Dylan's Songs
This French collection of illuminated Dylan lyrics, illustrated by an international, non-American team of artists is a mixed bag. Some of the selections seem odd choices for graphic retelling; others represent missed opportunities. But when things click, like in Dave McKean's Desolation Row, Gradimir Smudja's Hurricane and Zep's Not Dark Yet, you can see the promise of the concept. But most of the interpretations are a bit too serious and austere to justify the effort.

Reunions are usually iffy, which is why Eisner wisely resisted revisiting his creation, The Spirit, except for a few brief encounters. But he finally acquiesced to publisher Denis Kitchen's entreaties to allow other creators to play with his most famous character. The result was an eight-issue series that's gorgeously reproduced in this volume. Artists and writers alike were canny enough to resist slavish mimicry, bringing a new energy to the strip while retaining the original noir-ish blend of innovation and tradition. Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, Eddie Campbell, Kurt Busiek, Tom Mandrake, John Ostrander, Paul Chadwick and others clearly had a ball with their stellar homages to The Spirit of Will Eisner.

The good news is that Crumb tackles the Bible -- but that's the bad news too. While his draftsmanship and composition have never been better, the material is, frankly, weak, hackneyed and disjointed. Unless readers allow their own transcendent faith and suspension of disbelief to make it more than what it is, Crumb's visual tour de force is for naught.

Sikoryak's astonishing mashups take classics from Shakespeare, Camus, Bronte and the Bible and combines them with the hoary comics motifs of Batman, Superman, Mary Worth, Blondie, EC, Garfield and more. He's a terrific artist, and his awesome mimicry and maniacal imagination will startle and delight litt'rateurs and fanboys alike.

This amazing and rewarding book presents a portrait of Bertrand Russell -- of all people -- and his quest for meaning in logic and romance. The book's creative team also appears as characters in their resonant and interesting evocation, using of the graphic format in an imaginative and engaging way.
Originally published in The Miami Herald