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Tuesday, May 04, 2004
Planet of the Capes/Blacksad: Arctic Nation
Planet of the Capes, by Larry Young and Brandon McKinney, published by AiT/Planet Lar.
A note of disclaimer: I've probably bought about half of the books published by AiT, so I'm predisposed to enjoy their product. I like the OGN format, and AiT and Oni get a lot of my money thanks to the quality of their books and their very attrative price. By now, everyone knows that this isn't really a book about super-heroes. So going into the book I knew to look at the characters as metaphors for the comics publishing business. As a polemic, I think the book does an excellent job of diagnosing the state of the comics industry. I, for one, wasn't as concerned with trying to match up characters on a one-to-one basis with certain publishers, nor do I think that that level of detail is really neccessary to understand the book's intended message. Where I do think the book falls a little short is that it doesn't really seem to offer any positive reslolutions for the comics industry. Or, to be more specific, the super-hero publishing industry. Which at this point, sadly, is most of the English-language comics publishing industry. I think my goal with this book is going to be to try to get some of the "I only buy super-hero comics" customers to pick this up. Since it looks like a super-hero book, I might be able to use it as a gateway to some of the other AiT books.
Blacksad 2: Arctic Nation, by Juan Diaz Canales and Guarnido, published by ibooks.
Guarnido is an incredibly talented artist. Put aside all your preconceptions about "funny animal" or "furry" comics. They don't apply in this case. The animalistic characters are used here as caricatures of recognizable character types. It's a brilliant short-hand for stock characters in pulp drama. And that's unmistakably what this is. I've read other reviews of the Blacksad books whose authors apparently thought that the pulp mood of the books is somehow a sign of wear writing on Canales part. I strongly disagree. I'm very familiar with pulp-era detective fiction, having written my senior thesis in college on the subject, and what Canales does is use the stock. stereotypical characters and elements of those stories to celebrate the style. And did I mention Guarnido's art? It bears repeating. The faces are more recognizably human and expressive than most of the artists drawing supposedly "real" human figures.
Both of these books are well worth your time. Pester your local comic store for them at your earliest convenience.