Saturday, August 09, 2008

My recent splurge

The longest I think I've ever gone without getting comic books probably came during my nine months in South Korea back in 96/97. And even then, it wasn't a straight dry run. I was slowly losing my mind not having any comics and ended up exchanging some emails with my friend Kirsten. I mentioned having seen Magic: the Gathering cards for sale, written in Korean. And thus was born a quick deal. I got a bunch of comics, and she got some Magic cards for her then boyfriend.

When I got them, it was like drinking cold water at an oasis. In case it's not obvious, I love comic books. I've collected them since I was seven years old and it was rare, until that Korea trip, that I went a week without buying comics. Hell, on weeks when comics were delayed getting into my favourite shop because of weather or holidays, I was noticably gittery and cranky.

I've had to make adaptations living in Nunavut. There's obviously no comic book store and no weekly runs for my fix. Nor do I buy single issues anymore, just collected editions. Still, this was an exceptionally long dry patch, even by my new standards. From the time I came back from New York until this past week, I got just two books.

So I made up for it with this haul, which arrived on Wednesday. I've been happily blowing hours and and hours diving through them.

Yes, that's a lot of books. But I warned Cathy that I was doing it. Plus, she's been having shoe issues in St. John's, so it balances out.

Don't worry, I'm not going to review all of them...unless people are curious about specific books. But I am going to mention my two favourites.

For the comic book geeks out there, I recommend The Immortal Iron Fist: The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven. This is what you get when you have two writers who are almost giddy to see what weird shit they can think up next and have overdosed on kung-fu movies.

The plot is that every 88 years, seven mystical cities align on Earth. There, in the "Heart of Heaven", each city sends its immortal weapons into combat with the champions of the other cities. Along with Iron Fist, there are also champions such as Dog Brother #1, Bride of Nine Spiders, Tiger's Beautiful Daughter, Prince of Orphans and everyone's favourite - Fat Cobra ("Bring me my victory wenches!").

And every time there's a fight, the writers gleefully say what bizarre martial arts move they're using - Whirlwind of Impending Doom, Vaulting Mantis Spine Snap, the Stabbing Newlywed, Hell's Unfurling Hurricane, Mistress of all Agonies, Bastard's Black Heartbreaker.

How can you not love a comic that comes up with all of that? The art is a little erratic, but it's over-the-top fun. I highly recommend it.

The one for non-comic book people would be True Story, Swear to God - Archives, Volume 1. First of all, it's a hell of a deal. The one has 18 issues of the regular series for about $20. Less if you order it online through Chapters. Granted, the comic is in black and white, but still.

As you might gather from the title, this is an autobiographical comic. In the late 90s, writer/artist Tom Beland got a free trip to Disney World in Florida through his newspaper in California. And while waiting at a bus stop on his last night there he met Lily Garcia, a radio personality from Puerto Rico. And from that improbable meeting they ended up falling in love and Beland moved to Puerto Rico to be with her. The book shows the early courtship, the move and Beland getting use to his new life.

Why recommend it? Well, Beland has an appealing cartoon style that works well for the story. It's funny as hell and quite touching. Plus, Beland isn't afraid to make himself look like an asshole in the story. So it does feel very real.

The other recommendation for picking it up? Cathy like it. I can literally count on one hand the number of comic books Cathy will read (Amelia Rules, Runaways, Fables, Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Season Eight and this one), so there you go. It's a comic to give someone in your life who ordinarily wouldn't touch one with a ten-foot pole.

By the way, I'm enjoying all of them so far. I'm taking my time remembering just how good Sandman is and Usagi Yojimbo is it's usual delightful self. But so far, Iron Fist and True Story are the ones I keep picking back up to leaf through. So they must have done something right.

Last Five
1. Hide and seek (live) - Ani DiFranco
2. Father Lucifer (live) - Tori Amos
3. 15 - Rilo Kiley
4. Wonderwall - Ryan Adams*
5. Handshakes - Metric


Terri Lynn said...

I picked up "Watchmen" on a lark a few weeks ago (I wasn't even aware of the upcomimg movie at the time...) and then, while subsequently browsing the internet, became aware of Sandman. Since then I've read the first 39 issues and am completely in love. I'll have to hold off on the other two absolute volumes for a while (so I can buy groceries and perhaps some textbooks for the fall semester) but wow. The artwork is amazing, and the story lines just seem to get better as I read on.
While reading I also got a bit of a childhood flashback. Visiting your house growing up and going into your "room o' comics" where I saw a picture of a goth girl with an ankh around her neck. It seems that these things sometimes come full circle....

Kate Nova said...

Oh! I saw the Buffy Season 8 book and freaked out, it is currently on my bedside table. I've just read up to the latest issue and I love it. Whedon brings Fray into it at that point, so I think I'm going to order that series from The Beguiling next. Dooner also recommended Joe Sacco's graphic novels and I started with Bosnia. So good. But it totally took Buffy to get me into comics.

Von Allan said...

Just came across this blog while doing some websurfing. I just wanted to add to your recommendation of Tom Beland's work. It really is both sweet and topnotch and well-worth a look. I've enjoyed his stuff immensely. :)