Daily Archives: July 6, 2009

Quick Critiques – July 6, 2009

Greek Street #1 (DC Comics/Vertigo imprint)
by Peter Milligan & Davide Gianfelice

If one wanted to describe this new series in terms of comic books that have come before it, you might be tempted to describe it as Fables meets 100 Bullets, but it’s actually far more unusual and original than that. Writer Peter Milligan is known for weird, intelligent and challenging works, and this is definitely in that vein. He takes the traditions of ancient Greek drama and explores them in a modern, noir context. That means we get gangsters and gods, depravity and destruction. It’s about bad people behaving incredibly badly, and it’s difficult to swallow. One of the most important scenes early on is one involving incest in which one of the participants is aware of the relationship. It’s disturbing. Milligan’s writing here is raw and intense, and he’s perhaps a bit too successful in his efforts. All of the characters are so corrupt or confused, I really don’t want to get to know them better. I found I didn’t want to see just how much further they could all sink into moral decay. Davide Gianfelice’s art — with the angular figures and a loose, gritty look — certainly suits the tone of the story and characters. I found his efforts a bit confusing at times, mainly because a few of the designs are a bit too similar in appearance. The colors — dark, muted tones combined with eerie pinks and reds — are in keeping with the harsh yet surreal qualities of the plotting.

I sang DC’s praises for launching The Unwritten #1 with a cheap debut issue, and the publisher deserves the same credit here. There are 34 pages of story and art to be had for a buck here, and even though my reaction to the story was somewhat mixed, there’s no denying that’s a great value. 6/10

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100 Panels of Solitude

The Deformitory original graphic novella
Writer/Artist/Cover artist: Sophia Wiedeman
Publisher: Heart Monster Press
Price: $6 US

The folks at the Xeric Foundation, which provides grants for unknown or up-and-coming comics creators to produce new work, have a great eye for unusual and interesting fare, so when I get a chance to peruse the work of a Xeric recipient, I jump at the chance. Writer/artist Sophia Wiedeman sent along this cute, somewhat disturbing and definitely thought-provoking collection of unusual character studies. The meaning of each character’s journey of self-discovery isn’t always entirely clear, but they’re all engaging. I’d describe The Deformitory is something of a high-end, black-and-white mini-comic, but its digest-size format and the simple qualities of the artwork can’t hide the intelligence, empathy and creativity that abound on each on every page. Wiedeman’s cartoony and organic style, which employed to bring deformed or even grotesque characters to life, nevertheless instills in those figures beauty and vulnerability. The creator also explores different storytelling techniques, at times playing with a wordless approach and at others using bizarre dialogues to tell a story and expose a character’s true, inner self.

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