Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Some of my favorite parts from some of my favorite comics (that I read recently)

"What are you reading?" Niece #1 asked me the other day, in a tone of voice not unlike the one she might use to ask what I were wearing, were I wearing a ten-gallon cowboy hat.

"Unico," I said, lowering the cover, which features a close-up on an adorable baby unicorn with a pink mane, from my face.

"What's it Unico about?" she asked.

"It's about an adorable baby unicorn who has magical powers he can use to grant the wishes of the people he loves, but only if those people truly love him," I said.

"Why are you reading about a baby unicorn?"

"Because it's awesome," I said, and left it at that, without going into who Osamu Tezuka was, exactly. But I wasn't lying. Unico is awesome.

The dimensions of the book—about digest-sized, but almost 400-pages thick—make getting a decent scan of any page in it all but impossible. The above panel is a poorly scanned one from the story "Rosario The Beautiful," one of the fairy tale-inspired stories in the book. Unico has just kicked the ass of a wicked courtier all over the place in a series of vicious flying headbutts, and the cad eventually draws his sword.

Unico replies by growing his horn out to sword length, and then fencing with the bad guy. Unico disarms him, repeatedly stabs him in the butt and then throws him out a window.

This same story features a dance sequence between the romantic leads and a scene where Unico, who has shrunk down to about the size of a My Little Pony doll, jumps into the hand of the male lead and grows his horn out super-long, and then the hero uses Unico as a sword to fight off a bunch of bad guys with swords.

Unico is totally bad-ass. Did you use to watch that not-very-good Dungeons & Dragons Saturday morning cartoon in the '80s? (How about now?) Remember that lame-ass juvenile unicorn Uni? Well, Unico is the anti-Uni. The un-Uni, if you will.

Here's a panel of sorts from Miriam Katin's Letting It Go, in which she meets a dog, and comes up with a theory as to why the dog was so excited to meet her—obviously, the dog was a big fan of her work (I said "of sorts" because Katin's book uses implied panels, rather than boxes or borders).

Note how realistically the dog is drawn compared to Katin herself, particularly her face.

Finally, here's one of, like, my ten favorite pages from Gilbert Hernandez's Marble Season featuring my new favorite comics character, Chavo.

Chavo is the younger brother of Huey, the protagonist of the book, and Chavo can't yet talk (I think his only line is a Little Lulu-esque "Baw!" in one scene where he cries). Because of this, he just sort of wanders around, behaving in sometimes strange, inscrutable ways for his own inscrutable little kid reasons.

On this page, an older boy is confiding in him, a secret he doesn't want any of the older kids to know.

Sometimes Chavo just stands in a scene, taking in the conversation, and making it funnier simply by the presence of a little, silent observer. Take, for example, this poorly-scanned page:
Chavo was there, staring over that wall for some reason, before anyone else got there. And Chavo is still there, staring over that wall for some reason, after they all left.

That's a rare example of Chavo being in the center of a panel; often times he's mimicking his brothers, or screwing around, or hiding behind a tree. In one scene, he walks around without his shirt on, discovers a dead baby bird, and looks for help.

I'm having a hard time explaining why, I guess, but I love Chavo. He cracks me up. So come for the new Gilbert Hernandez, but stay for the Chavo. This book should been called Marble Chavo, not Marble Season.

Viva el Chavo!

Expect full reviews of each of these (and a few other books) tomorrow-ish. This is all I got in the mean time.

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