I had been stuck inside my house with some rather debilitating sadness for a few days, so when I finally got too sick of sleeping and pacing around here, I decided I would go sit in the book store and read. Better-lighting, people around, not being the house–those sorts of things can sometimes be good for what ails you. I packed a bag of my books to take with me, so that if nothing on the shelves there grabbed my interest, I'd still have stuff to read.
Poorly Drawn Lines or Reza Farazmand? If so, then all you really need to know that this is a collection of his webcomics, plus some new material. And some short, comedic prose stories. If you are not already familiar with the cartoonist or his cartoons I will tell you about them briefly.
First, they are funny. Second, the title is wrong; the lines are all very well drawn. Farazmand's artwork is very simple–his ghost, for example, is even more abstracted than James Kochakla's Squiggle–but that simplicity only adds to the brutal deadpan of most of the jokes. It's hard for a character to emote when their eyes are just two tiny dots, you know?
Most of the punchlines involve someone or something flicking someone else or something else off, or someone or something swearing at someone else or something else. Usually it is animals that are doing the flicking off and the swearing, which is funny, because that's not typically the sorts of things that animals do.
There aren't any running gags, really, but a few characters make repeat appearances, like the guy with the beard (Farazmand draws great beards, even when on babies or ladybugs), a large green bear first introduced as Ernesto, the space bear, and his friend Kevin, a pigeon.
I laughed at a lot of jokes.
The prose was sort of unwelcome, as I don't like switching gears between comics and prose, but it should be noted that the prose is all very, very short–like, two pages per story–and they have a similar point-of-view as the cartoons. Still, I don't like prose in my comics, man. Like, coffee is good. And tea is good. But if you put a tea bag in a cup of coffee...? Why would you do that...?
Anyway, I would recommend you read this book. Or at least check out the website, if you are too lazy to seek out an actual bok.
The press release calls it "An account of obsolete machinery and outmoded business planning," chronicling the hardships and suffering experienced by "a small company as it struggles to adapt to a changing economic landscape." And it's from a guy in comics publishing! Surely I'm not the only one who saw the potential parallels there.
Well, it's not a terribly comical comic book, despite some black humor around the edges (like the guy who seemingly regularly takes to the ledge outside his office window as if to jump, to the point it's not exactly a pressing emergency to see him out there.
An incredibly depressing read, it's about the title character and he and his company's downward spiral, as his two employees and his own wife stick by him out of intertia and the fact that they've already invested so much of their time in him and the company, but eventually reality sets in as it must–but not before a few flights of fancy, including a pretty bravura scene where the protagonist seems to jump out the window himself, and carries on a long conversation with his employees while he slowly, slowly, slowly plummets to his death.
Oliveros draws the hell out of all the weird, old-timey machines apparently used in envelope manufacturing, and other, minor period details, with the panels often focused on objects, machines or parts of the city instead of the characters, who almost never appear in anything other than a long-shot.
It's a lot of fun to look at, but it's a sad story, one probably best not to read when one is already sad.
I had a couple more books in my man-purse–second hand collections of Marvel miniseries Blaze of Glory: The last Ride of the Western Heroes by John Ostrander and Leonardo Manco and Vengeance by Joe Casey and Nick Dragotta–but I opted to pull something off the shelves to read, instead.
the goofily-entitled Star Wars: Darth Vader VOl.1: Vader, okay, but I'm not a huge fan of artist Salvador Larocca, so I decided I would follow the Jason Aaron-written Star Wars in trade, and maybe just follow this one in trades-borrowed-from-the-library, or pulled from the shelves of my local Barnes and Noble, read there, and then placed back on the shelf, unpurchased.
I liked this one a little better. Larocca's art remains excellent when drawing helmets, droids and aliens, but I find his human likenesses a little off-putting. Luckily, there are relatively few human in the Darth Vader book, just Doctor Aphra and the occasional Imperial officer or unfortunate human victim.
While the first volume leaned a little heavily on aspects I didn't care for (The Emperor's creation of "rivals" for Vader, none of whom are very compelling), this one goes deep in Vader's schemeing, as he tries to carve out his own secret fiefdom and agents to pursue his own agenda, one that is at odds with his superiors in the Empire, up to and including The Emperor himself.
So in this volume there's a pretty neat heist in which Aphra and her robo-pas, the evill versions of C-3PO and R2-D2, form an alliance with a handful of bounty hunters, including the evil version of Chewbacca, and Empire Strikes Back cameos IG-90 (the droid bounty hunter that looked like an evil black crayon) and Bossk (the lizard guy) make off with a shit-ton of money. There are several interactions with crime bosses, including a caped Greedo. Oh and Vader and an Imperial partner, the Empire's version of Sherlock Holmes, are tasked with trying to figure out who pulled the heist, which was of course done at Vader's behest. Finally the search for Luke Skywalker takes an unexpected twist, when Aphra follows one hell of an unlikely lead: The mortician on Naboo who prepared Queen Amidala's body.
It's all evil, all the time here, but writer Kieron Gillen keeps all of the characters engaging, if not sympathetic. And I do so love 000, the Evil C-3PO: