Man of the Moment

Sean William Scott

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Friday, July 02, 2004

Free Comic Book Day Reviews 

Adhouse Books: I've enjoyed everything I've seen from Adhouse so far, and this selection of stories gives a fair assessment of the type of material they publish. Joel Priddy's 24 Hour Comic is cute and clever and Scott Morse's brief story is fun as well.
Verdict: Grab it

Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius: Secret Crisis Orgin Files: I like Winick's Barry Ween comics a lot. But this doesn't strike me as the best introduction to the character. Either the elements of the story that lead into another comic should have been excised or there should have been a big banner of text somewhere that said: "Story continued in Barry Ween Vol. 4!"
Verdict: Eh, it's free

Alternative Comics: Again, this is a good over-view of the type of material you can expect to see in Alternative's publications. Personally, I liked the Peanutbutter and Jeremy stories and the preview of Nick Bertozzi's "Salon." In fact, I may have to go back and check out some Rubbernecker comics. The rest of the stories didn't do much for me, but that's just me.
Verdict: Grab it

Amelia Rules: I'm somehow guessing that this is going to be our break-out comic this year. It's clever and has wide-appeal with engaging art and fun characters. Probably this is one of the better books to be released for the event.
Verdict: Grab it

Arcana Studios Present: I can tell that the creators of "Ant" have their hearts in the right place. They've just chosen a pseudo-McFarlane-ish art style that completely gets in the way of anything they might be trying to do with their story. As for Kade and Ezra, honestly, I couldn't even bring myself to read more than a page or two each of those stories.
Verdict: Not even for free

Archie: Yawn. More of the same, tired, 60 year old gags from a title that either needs retiring or serious rethinking. I mean, an extended joke sequence is dependant on the fact that all the women in Archie's world have the exact same face and body. That's just sloppy.
Verdict: Not even for free

Astonish Comics: I must be a bad person, because the best thing I can think to say about this is that the art on "Herobear and the Kid" isn't bad. Nothing in here grabbed me or interested me in any way at all. But I'm willing to concede on something like this that I'm probably far removed from their target audience.
Verdict: Eh, it's free

Back In Black: Brian Pulido Unleased at Avatar: If you were a big Chaos Comics fan, you'll probably like this. That's as nice as I can get.
Verdict: Not even for free

Ballad of Sleeping Beauty: They better hope Clint Eastwood's lawyers never lay eyes on that cover. In general, I dislike the idea of putting out stuff on Free Comic Day that you have to come back to get the rest of the story. You should be coming back because you thought the material was so good you want to see more. I've liked Mike Hawthorne's work in other places, I'm certain, so I don't know why this book looks so flat and dead. It just doesn't grab me at all.
Verdict: Eh, it's free

Dr. Chaos' Comic Cornucopia: I'm struck dumb at the sheer awfulness of this comic.
Verdict: Not even for free

Del Rey Manga Sampler: I hate Love Hina and that brand of shameless fan-service manga. So, as you can imagine, Negima did nothing for me, despite Peter David's script. And we already know I love XXXholic. My main gripe with this book is that it's too damn short.
Verdict: Eh, it's free

Best of Dork Storm: The humor of Dork Tower will probably be lost on a lot of non-gamers, but PS238 is a great comic that doesn't get nearly as much exposure as it should. And this is a new story! So you've got no excuse not to pick it up!
Verdict: Grab it

Duel Masters: We've yet to sell a single copy of the regular Duel Masters comic. Ever. And not for lack of trying, either. So any copies of this taken on Saturday will be the first copies ever to go out the door. This is just another in a series of blatant rip-offs of Pokemon/Yu-Gi-Oh, and it doesn't even pretend to be anything other than a marketing scam to seperate kids from money.
Verdict: Not even for free

Dungeons and Dragons: Crisis in Raimiton: As far as I can tell, this wasn't solictited with the rest of the Free Comic Book Day books, and so limited quantities may be available. If you dont' get one, don't worry, you're not missing a thing. Very poor story-telling, and amateurish art that appears to be done with magic markers. Makes me (more) embarrassed to play D&D.
Verdict: Not even for free

IDW Sampler: I have no interest in any of these licensed properties. The art seems stiff and too obviously drawn from photo-refrences. And IDW in general doesn't publish anything I care for. Niles and Templesmith and Wood as creators just leave me cold to be honest. So while I found nothing of interest in here, others might.
Verdict: Eh, it's free

Image Summer Sampler: I don't read it, but Invincible seems to be one of the current darlings of the super-hero set. The story here isn't bad, but not reading the series myself, I feel like I'm missing some important info. The other stories well, I suppose there's an audience for those comics still.
Verdict: Eh, it's free

Johnny Raygun Classics: There's a certain manic appeal to these stories. It's a light-hearted sci-fi humor series with appealing art and characters and some genuine laughs.
Verdict: Grab it

Keenspot Spotlight 2004: It's a big chunk of a book. There's a lot of unevenness in the art and the quality of the stories. The layout is abysmal. I hate having to count pages just to find out the name of the strip I'm reading. But there's bound to be something in here for just about everyone.
Verdict: Grab it

Love Fights/Everest: Frankly, I was more interested in the Everest preview than Love Fights, a book I've tried before and not found to my taste. It's not that it's bad, or that the art is below par. It's just the characters and story utterly failed to interest me in any way at all.
Verdict: Eh, it's free

Marvel Age: Spider-Man: Again, Marvel seems to think that "looks like manga" is going to translate into "sells like manga." This is fine for little kids. Like pre-school age. But I can't see anyone older than that having any interest in something like this at all. The story is dumbed down and the art is just unattractive.
Verdict: Not even for free

Mickey Mouse/Uncle Scrooge: Both of these stories are cute and clever and represent probably the best in children's comics. Adults shouldn't be insulted by the stories, they don't talk down to the kids, the art is open and engaging and they've got a great mix of action and humor. So, naturally, they're over 40 years old...
Verdict: Grab it

NBM Free Sampler: I'm a big enough fan of Dungeon that I've bought some of the French editions. Both Boneyard and Silk Tapestry look intriguing as well, and I've liked other works I've seen by Richard Moore, so Boneyard at least may have acquired a new reader.
Verdict: Grab it

Reggie 12: These are cute little stories about an Astro-Boy-esque little robot boy. It's very cute, and very silly, and I love the little activity project on the back cover.
Verdict: Grab it

Slave Labor Stories: Personally, I'm disappointed with this year's Slave Labor book. I realize that the gothity-goth comics are their bread-and-butter these days, but there's a sameness to most of them just makes them kind of boring. The exception to that rule is Little Gloomy, which at least has it's own artistic style and voice. It's a good comic for ghoulish little kids. Even the Evan Dorkin material failed to amuse me this time around.
Verdict: Eh, it's free

Sore Thumbs Election Special: I shouldn't find this funny, but I do. There are a couple of truly hilarious exchanges here. It's not for everyone's tastes, oh no. And certainly not for anyone who, for example, thinks that Mallard Fillmore is the height of political-cartooning, but for the rest of this there's some naughty fun to be had with this.
Verdict: Grab it

Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures: The Clone Wars cartoons strikes me as one of the most cynical marketing ploys Lucasfilm ever came up with. Make people sit through a five minute cartoon, one minute of which is "previously on" and another minute of which is "next on" clips. Great way to sell advertisements though. The art I find, frankly, ugly, and the story is just dull. And proof-reading by spell-check just annoys me. Plus, it's Star Wars, so how good could it be to begin with?
Verdict: Not even for free

Teen Titans Go: Now, I know I'm not the audience for this comic. I think I'm somewhere between 10 to 15 years too old to be reading this book. Nauck's art is nice enough, though.
Verdict: Eh, it's free

Tokyopop Sneaks 2004 Vol. 2: This is another book that wasn't ordered with the rest of the Free Comic Book Day books and was apparently just sent to retailers, so availability may be limited. Unsurprisingly, it suffers from the same problems most anthologies do: lots of unevenness in stories and art. Very little here interested me, save for Paradise Kiss, which I already own. Saiyuki may be good, but I don't have much tolerance for fighting manga, and it looks like that's what it might be. I may be a Sgt. Frog convert. The brief excerpt here is twisted and funny, and that's the sort of thing I dig.
Verdict: Grab it

Top Shelf Tales: Bighead didn't do anything for me at all, but everything else in this book was pure gold! And I'd expect nothing less from Top Shelf. This is a great introduction to the publisher and the artists involved. Great, great stuff.
Verdict: Grab it

Wild About Comics: More Licensable Bear is always a good thing. Lela Dowling's Jabberwocky adaptations is fun as well. And while books like Crossfire and DNAgents may not be my thing, I'm really glad that About is keeping quality older material in print.
Verdict: Grab it

Never received: Bunch of Babboons, Delicous Seasons, From Pixel to Paper, and, for some reason, American Power.

General Thoughts on Free Comic Book Day III
-Next year, if Marvel has a hissy-fit because there isn't a big Marvel movie in May, and therefore FCBD shouldn't be in May, retailers and organizers need to tell Marvel to take a flying leap. Marvel is not the comic book industry, and the comic book industry is not Marvel. What happens if there are no Marvel movies next summer? No FCBD at all? No, Marvel's marketing schedule should not be a factor in this.
-Holding this event on the Fourth of July weekend? Double-plus-ungood idea. Lots of people are going to be traveling, which cuts the number of people with time to go to comics stores a bit right there.
-As broad and diverse a selection of publishers and materials there are this year, there are still publishers and imprints of publishers I would have liked to have seen participate. An Ait/PlanetLar sampler would have been great. A Viz sampler would have been good. Material from DC and Dark Horse that shows the variety of material they publish would have been great. A Vertigo sampler, for example. I understand Marvel doing a kids book, they only publish children's material. But Dark Horse and DC should have had something for people over the age of 11 to read.
-That's two books with James Kochalka in them and three with Scott Morse.


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