Arclight 4 (January 2017)

Arclight #4

Yeah, Brandon Graham really doesn’t know how to wrap up a comic, does he? Arclight meanders to a finish of sorts, with almost no content this issue. Churchland’s art is lovely, but it’s all over the place. Not enough information is the big problem. It’s decompressed storytelling or something. The Brandon Graham version. And it’s over too soon. There’s not enough of a finish here.

CREDITS

Writer, Brandon Graham; artist and colorist, Marian Churchland; letterer, Ariana Maher; publisher, Image Comics.

Dead Inside 2 (January 2017)

Dead Inside #2

The comic continues to be interesting and diverting. Arcudi knows how to write this mystery, he knows how to work in all the cop stuff; Dead Inside does its job, so long as its job is just to be a decent cop comic. However, having Fejzula on the art sort of promises something else, something more. And this issue doesn’t deliver. Fejzula loses personality as the thing goes on and hits Arcudi’s too cheap cliffhanger.

CREDITS

Writer, John Arcudi; artist, Toni Fejzula; colorist, André May; letterer, Joe Sabino; editors, Cardner Clark and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Harrow County: Countless Haints (2015)

Harrow County Volume 1: Countless Haints

Cullen Bunn really likes half-heard whispers. I mean, Harrow County itself is a half-heard whisper, if only because Bunn is making sure the other half of the whispers are completely inaudible. The reader goes into the story with more information than the protagonist, but neither has enough. And Bunn takes his time getting around to revealing it. One of the most effective things about this collection is how Bunn handles all the revelations.

When the book starts, he introduces the reader to protagonist Emmy. She lives on a farm in sometime in the indistinct, probably pre-WII past–automobiles but not everyone had electricity so maybe the twenties or thirties. It doesn’t matter because Emmy lives on the farm and doesn’t have much contact with the outside world. Just a weekly visit from a salesman and his daughter, who’s about Emmy’s age. They’re black, however, which Bunn uses to throw suspicion on Emmy’s father (either we aren’t supposed to like him because he’s racist or we aren’t supposed to like him because he’s suspicious).

Emmy sits in contemplation
Emmy sits in contemplation

Bunn does a fabulous job setting up the first issue because there’s no hint where the story is actually going. He still hasn’t given anyone–not Emmy, not the reader–enough information. When he does get around to doling it out, he reveals it at a pace to get up the reader’s expectations for upcoming scenes. It’s effective. Harrow County is an effective, well-structured comic book. Just because it has a cute little calf doesn’t mean it’s not a serious book.

Tyler Crook’s art is an essential, just because he handles Emmy’s innocence and determination so well. Her character has to develop through the collection while getting in dutch with the reader. Bunn gives her a lot of defining stuff real early on because the eventually Harrow County slows down a lot and goes scene-to-scene. Crook is able to speed up and slow down as needed. His establishing panels, utilizing foreground and background focus, are phenomenal. Crook handles the passage of time better than Bunn; whenever Bunn does it, there’s immediately a stronger reinforcement from Crook. It makes the book a bit of a treat to read, once it’s established, because of the way they’re able to deal with the events and the players. Harrow County doesn’t have any laughs, but it does have its humor.

Emmy and Bernice in trouble.
Emmy and Bernice in trouble.

And while Emmy’s the lead, Bunn’s narration is instead a close third person. Even though the narration doesn’t do any information dumps to get the reader caught up, it direct the reader’s attention. The story is about Emmy, Emmy is the protagonist (it’ll be interesting to see how Bunn handles Emmy being more active with this approach to narration), and the reader is sort of along for the ride. There’s a folk tale element to it all, with Emmy being the one who realizes the world’s not a folk tale.

As a first collection, Harrow County is a standout. It establishes its characters, quickly defines its setting, quickly defines its dangers, makes promises about what’s to come, plants expectations in the reader’s mind, has some great art. It even has an out of left field cliffhanger, but also one completely in line with the world Bunn and Crook set up. It’s interesting as the separate issues don’t have the same kind of cliffhanger–Bunn knows how to keep the reader interested. Not even guessing, just interested. And it works because Emmy’s such a strong character.

Emmy's protector keeps lookout.
Emmy’s protector keeps lookout.

With the exception of forcing the reader to make judgment calls on characters (one time), Bunn’s writing is excellent. Even when he goes on too long with the narration, it pays off because of the art. Crook creates a terrifying, but acceptable vision. The boy without skin and skin without boy who end up as Emmy’s sidekicks–oh, forgot to mention, she’s a reincarnated witch who’s trying real hard not to be bad–they ought to be too disturbing, but Crook makes them somewhat adorable. Even if they are dangerous (possibly to Emmy).

Like I said, it’s a standout. Harrow County sets a high bar for itself.

CREDITS

Writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, Tyler Crook; editors, Ian Tucker and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Arclight 3 (November 2016)

Arclight #3

Arclight isn’t just back, Arclight is back and pretty great. There’s a lot of content, thanks to how Marian Churchland paces and composes the art. And Brandon Graham’s terse exposition is fantastic. It feels magical and dangerous and big. Churchland’s art is perfect for big, empty, and dangerous. Graham’s strange organic, magic creatures are imaginative and always used measuredly. It’s almost reassuring in its excellence.

CREDITS

Writer, Brandon Graham; artist and colorist, Marian Churchland; letterer, Ariana Maher; publisher, Image Comics.

Dead Inside 1 (December 2016)

Dead Inside #1

While Dead Inside doesn’t reinvent the wheel–the protagonist is a divorced, hard-drinking female detective who can’t get anyone (male or female) to listen to her about a suspicious death and possible conspiracy–it’s solidly executed. John Arcudi’s script moves things around, has some surprises. Toni Fejzula’s art style is different–the mundane is visually disturbing. It works out well enough.

CREDITS

Writer, John Arcudi; artist, Toni Fejzula; colorist, André May; letterer, Joe Sabino; editors, Cardner Clark and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Night’s Dominion 5 (January 2017)

nightNight's Dominion #5

And then the dragons show up. I suppose the “regular” cast returns too, but the dragons are a bigger deal. Naifeh doesn’t do the battle scenes well, not the big ones. The lone guy going out to fight death knights, sure, but he doesn’t do the scale. And there’s lots of underdeveloped filler. Night’s Dominion finds ways to misfire during misfires.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Ted Naifeh; letterer, Aditya Bidikar; editor, Robin Herrera; publisher, Oni Press.

Kill or Be Killed 5 (January 2017)

Kill or Be Killed #5

I predict this issue of Kill or Be Killed will show the problem with the book is it’s about a millennial Punisher set in present day. The art’s modern, but Brubaker’s handling of the character is basically Reality Bites. It should be set in the nineties.

Drumroll please (i.e. after reading the comic).

Okay, yes and no. This issue has way too many other problems for it to just boil down to Brubaker not having a handle on it. Phillips has lost his handle on the art. This issue’s art is not up to his usual work, but at least it eventually shows some personality. At its worst, it doesn’t show any. Phillips always has some. Until a few pages into this comic. It’s like he runs out of energy for it, which is concerning.

It’s really got a bunch of severe problems and it’s not even amusing to make fun of it because I love Brubaker and Phillips and Betty Breitweiser’s comics. But Kill or Be Killed is–well, with the exception of Breitweiser–it’s kind of like the pod people have gotten them. I’m done. It just upsets me.

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Sean Phillips; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; publisher, Image Comics.

Black Hammer Giant-Sized Annual 1 (January 2017)

Black Hammer Giant-Sized Annual #1

It’s a double-sized (or at least over-sized) annual for Black Hammer, yay. Colonel Weird goes through the Paraverse pursuing a creature (who looks a bit like Starro) and going into flashbacks with each of the characters, with different artists. It’s good art, it’s sad superheroes, there’s lots of implied depth, it’s moody, it’s Black Hammer.

CREDITS

Writer, Jeff Lemire; artists, Nate Powell, Matt Kindt, Dustin Nguyen, Raw Fawkes, Emi Lenox, and Mike Allred; colorists, Dave Stewart, Sharlene Kindt, and Fawkes; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Cardner Clark and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Motor Crush 2 (January 2017)

Motor Crush #2

This issue’s not as good as the first. It’s still good, with some great art from Tarr, but Fletcher and Cameron try a little too hard with all the mystery. There’s protagonist Domino’s hidden parentage, there’s her story with her ex-girlfriend (who returns this issue). The chase scenes in particular make up for any bumps, but it’s still unwieldy.

CREDITS

Writers, Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart; artist, Babs Tarr; letterer, Aditya Bidikar; editor, Jeanine Schaefer; publisher, Image Comics.

Motor Crush 1 (October 2016)

Motor Crush #1

Well. Motor Crush is absolutely awesome. It’s got a phenomenal pace, lots of action–Babs Tarr’s art is fantastic–and just the right amount of drama. Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher actually do a whole three act story this issue, all while doing a first issue. It’s very cool, with a great cliffhanger. And the lead just gets more appealing the more time you spend with her.

CREDITS

Writers, Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart; artist, Babs Tarr; letterer, Aditya Bidikar; editor, Jeanine Schaefer; publisher, Image Comics.

Supergirl: Being Super 1 (February 2017)

Supergirl: Being Super #1

Being Super gets off to an excellent start. Mariko Tamaki’s script is slow to reveal the particulars of this version, instead focusing on the character experiencing high school and her sixteenth birthday. There’s also the great Joëlle Jones art and creates this wonderfully detailed Midvale high school world. It’s an awesome comic.

CREDITS

Where Do I Begin?; writer, Mariko Tamaki; penciller, Joëlle Jones; inker, Sandu Florea; colorist, Kelly Fitzpatrick; letterer, Saida Temofonte; editors, Paul Kaminski and Andrew Marino; publisher, DC Comics.

Jessica Jones 4 (March 2017)

Jessica Jones #4

Someone’s killing capes. It’s good to see Bendis is as original as always. Besides an annoying talking heads sequence with Captain Marvel, this issue is probably the best one so far. Well, except the scene with Misty and Luke Cage talking about Jessica, that one was just cheap. I guess the last scene is okay. You know, wait–the more I think about the comic, the worse it seems.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; artist, Michael Gaydos; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Alanna Smith and Tom Brevoort; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Flintstones 7 (March 2017)

The Flintstones #7

Until the last few pages, this issue of The Flinstones is just fine. I mean, Pugh’s not on this month and Rick Leonardi and Scott Hanna do an all right enough job but there’s something missing. Russell tries a lot–including Gazoo narrating the whole thing in a report–and some of it connects, some doesn’t. The end’s just way too sappy though.

CREDITS

Another Day on Earth; writer, Mark Russell; penciller, Rick Leonardi; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Chris Chuckry; letterer, Dave Sharpe; editors, Brittany Holzherr and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

The Comics Fondle Podcast | Episode 36

2016: The Year in Comics.

(That we read)

The worst, the best, the almost there, the just there.

BPRD, Eltingville Club, Phonogram, Tokyo Ghost, Legacy of Luther Strode, Nowhere Men, PROPHET earth War, Kennel Block Blues/Hot Damn, Circuit Breaker, Empress, The Fix, Strange Fruit, Dark Knight III, Dreaming Eagles /War Stories/ Johnny Red, Prez Corndog in Chief, Starve, Mockingbird, Mickeys Craziest Adventure, Copra, DC’s Young Animals line, Cinema Purgatorio, The Archie Line, Monstress, Ringside, Letter 44, Injection, Blubber, Jupiters Legacy vol 2, Manifest Destiny, Godammned, Hip Hop Family Tree, Weird Detective, Kill or Be Killed, Lady Killer 2, Black Monday Murders, Demonic, Lake of Fire, Jim Thompson- Killer Inside Me, Love and Rockets, Nights Dominion, Hadrians Wall, I Hate Fairyland, Moonshine, New Super Man, Violent Love, Comic Book History of Comics, Ether, Arclight, Electric Sublime, Slam!, Motor Crush, Lazarus, Usagi Yojimbo, Last Contract, The Spire, Harrow County, Baker Street Peculiars, Kaijumax, Flintstones, Black Hammer, Resident Alien-Man With No Name, Providence.

you can also subscribe on iTunes…

Garfield: His 9 Lives (October 1984)

61pyepb4rxl-_sx258_bo1204203200_Garfield, the comic strip, has a bad rap that’s mostly unwarranted. As a popular art form, newspaper comic strips have been in a qualitative free-fall since television began replacing newspapers as people’s primary source of information and entertainment, with a few bright spots like Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side and Bloom County proving exceptions to the rule. Garfield earned a lot of rightful contempt for being among the first that was ubiquitously, inescapably merchandised; the suction-cup car window doll becoming an 80s staple along with mass marketed junk available at every mall in America. Long after Garfield the franchise hit its lucrative peak, the strip continued to hold the same low reputation as the dregs of the newspaper comics pages: the same dozen or so gags, repeated with only minor variation. There’s not a lot to be said in defense of this, as hating Mondays, eating Lasagna, and being slobbered upon by Odie are all staples of the brand to this day.

30f1bb4340d4059eb8fcd601d3e57487

Despite the endless landfills worth of claptrap, there are still a few points to be made in defense of America’s Favorite Flabby Tabby with ‘Tude to Spare™. While comic strips were going the way of Ziggy or Family Circus in terms of being anemically drawn, saccharinely cute “family” strips, Garfield showed commitment over time to increasingly cartoonish art and cynical humor that, while not terribly sophisticated was often dry and absurd. Sure, total garbage like The Lockhorns is technically “dry” as well but who the hell is The Lockhorns even aimed at, besides elderly people too tired to turn the page? Garfield never aspired to be much more than a comic strip for kids, and as kiddie comic strips went it was a little smarter and better drawn than most.

The cynicism could also be genuinely cutting and mean; in one strip Garfield’s girlfriend Arlene claims the gap in her teeth is a sign of sensitivity, he replies that he’d be “sensitive about it, too.” That’s like The Larry Sanders Show for eight year olds. The development of Jon Arbuckle as an über-dweeb patsy reached such depths of hilariously pathetic behavior that decades later the website Garfield Without Garfield became a sensation by photoshopping Garfield out of the picture to make Jon the star. Hipsters smugly concluded that the editing turned an otherwise unfunny strip into something worthwhile, but comedy superstar Jon Arbuckle was always there – the culture jammers just pushed the spotlight a few inches over to him.

jondoor

Another bit from the strip that sticks in my memory from when I was a kid was a weeklong series of gags in which Garfield is pelted by pies, thrown by unknown assailants from every possible direction and place. Jim Davis and his staff aren’t the most talented or imaginative cartoonists in the world, but they always seemed to enjoy the possibilities inherent in the medium. Jim Davis eventually signed off on an official Garfield Without Garfield collection, which shows he appreciated the joke or was at least savvy enough to capitalize on the subversion. On the more somber end of the strip’s capacity for darkness was another weeklong story near Halloween of 1989 placed Garfield in a jokeless Twilight Zone style nightmare. This series of strips was rediscovered years later and memed around online, but few kids who read them at the time ever forgot them. I specifically remember a sweaty extreme closeup on Garfield’s dilated eye, and the rare use of an omniscient narrator’s caption for the ominous line: YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW ALONE YOU ARE, GARFIELD.

ga891024

What these blips on the otherwise even history of workmanlike professional comic strip production that is Garfield betray is that like Walt Disney, Jim Davis is first and foremost a mainstream entrepreneur of cartoon banality, but also a mainstream cartoon entrepreneur with repressed artistic ambitions.

The apotheosis of these repressed artistic ambitions came early in the history of Garfield, with the 1984 book Garfield: His 9 Lives.

The most amazing thing about this book is that it exists. It’s like Walt cashing his chips at the height of Mickey Mouse’s popularity to make Fantasia, but more adventurous because while Disney was interested in allowing his animators to essentially depict Satan for the Night On Bald Mountain segment, they weren’t about to let anyone play around with reinterpretations of Mickey Mouse. In comic book terms, this is Jim Davis and his staff guesting an all-Garfield issue of 2000 A.D. or Heavy Metal, with a collection of stories based on 9 iterations (plus an introductory story) of Garfield along a loose historical timeline. A third of the stories are pretty typical Garfield fare, the other third are unrecognizable as Garfield and the remaining third were seemingly created to frighten small children. They printed it in oversized magazine graphic album size, on glossy paper and in full color. There’s no warning on the cover about how some of the contents might not be suitable for the kiddies, and one imagines the suits at Ballantine Books struggling to understand why Jim Davis wanted to risk controversy by pushing a project where the Garfield version of The Secret of N.I.M.H. wasn’t even the collection’s most traumatizing story.

The book is very much a product of the early 80s – just before the superheroes got serious, but when animation and comic books were nonetheless producing more exciting work in the wane of Disney’s dominance and ascendency of underground comics – comics like 2000 A.D., Heavy Metal, Cerebus the Aardvark and Elfquest, and animated films like Watership Down, The Last Unicorn, Rock & Rule, Twice Upon a Time or the late-period studio films of Ralph Bakshi. I think Jim Davis, or the people working closely with him, took a look at what was happening and seized the moment to do something alternative with the mainstream character they owned. Like most of the aforementioned comics and films, Garfield: His 9 Lives isn’t for very young children but isn’t quite for adults either: it is precisely for kids who are just getting to be old enough that they’re just a little too old for Garfield and are perhaps ready for graduation to, say, Mad Magazine, where adolescent mischief and dark irony awaited.

Garfield himself appears before each chapter to quip about the forthcoming story like your standard anthology host, but the straightforward preface by Jim Davis himself is the only statement of intent about this book’s genesis, then or now – one has to assume it wasn’t commercially successful (how could it be?) since there’s never been so much as a second printing:

Garfield was created to entertain. Given that and our feeling that there’s a lot more to Garfield than a seven inch newspaper format will allow, the artists at Paws, Incorporated, and I put the furry fellow on the rack and stretched him to the limits of our imaginations.

It occurred to us there were elements of Garfield’s complex personality that may well have been established in his previous lives…a cat’s proverbial “nine lives.” It was an exciting premise, one which consumed the staff and brought out the best in everyone. Many all-nighters and hundreds of hours of conceptual discussion went into this book.

This is a different book. It is dedicated to the Garfield philosophy of pure entertainment. I am also dedicating this book to the staff whose talents and courage made this bold statement possible: Neil Altrekruse, Gary Barker, Kevin Campbell, Jim Clements, Doc Davis, Larry Fentz, Mike Fentz, Valette Hildebrand, Dave Kühn and Ron Tuthill.

The cover reads “By: Jim Davis” but aside from his writing contributions, this was mainly the result of all those artists listed in the preface, who also get credited at the start of each story so you know exactly who did what. The opening story “In the Beginning” is a riff on the Paws, Incorporated staff themselves, using Fumetti traced over with caricature and fluorescent 80s airbrush colors. The hazy scene conflates the creation and design of Garfield with the creation and design of cats themselves, according to the boss’ grand idea. Yes, Jim Davis is your God.

img_1134

The first “Lives” story is a caveman tale starring Garfield as a cave cat. Despite Davis’ pronouncements in the preface about how Garfield’s possibilities shouldn’t just be limited to the seven inch newspaper format, Cave Cat follows the same rhythms as a Sunday Garfield strip for seven pages to unsurprising comedic results, with some noticeably handmade but unimaginative use of color. The most interesting aspect of the chapter is how brothers Mike and Larry Fentz are credited (with Davis) on art duties. It’s immediately apparent that they’re among the staffers who took Davis’ itchy,  B. Kliban style designs from the strip’s early days and finessed a more appealing “house style” for the mass market. The chapter feels rushed – if you look closely you can see many stray pencil lines.

img_1196

The second chapter, The Vikings, is a real tour-de-force for Mike Fentz. The story by him and Davis is about Garfield as a viking pet being unfrozen from an iceberg along with his human viking clan in St. Paul, Minnesota circa 1984. Fentz and Davis push themselves to write for a more comic-book and less comic-strip kind of script, and Fentz has a lot of fun setting the vikings on the loose in the 80s, with solid figure construction, funny character designs, expressive poses and use of color. The era of Frank Frazetta worship amongst illustrators shows its influence with the character of Helga the valkyrie, and her skimpy attire is the first inkling that not everything within the book may meet with your mom’s approval when she thumbs through it at Waldenbooks.

img_1155

The third chapter hits the first peak of experimentalism with Garfield the pop culture and comic strip icon: a text story (with illustrations) detective noir parody, Sam Spade with cats (“Sam Spayed” here, natch.) The script by Rob Tuthill is funny but not really Garfield-centric; there’s no references to lasagna or Mondays or any of those tropes and since the illustrations are black and white, you don’t get the visual cue of an orange cat, either. He’s not even named Garfield. This is truly off-brand material. Artist Kevin Campbell’s photorealistic humanoid cats in 1950s Los Angeles are startling and uncanny. It’s very neat.

img_1158

As if to reassure the younger readers who skipped past all that daunting text, chapter four is another pleasantly silly Davis/Fentz Brothers riff. The Exterminators, an homage to The Three Stooges with a nearly unrecognizable Garfield as Moe and two unnamed cats as Larry and Curly. The pacing and drawings are wackier than Cave Cat and the piece’s only real flaw is that it’s just a little too short on gags – it has a funny beginning and ending but no middle.

img_1200

Now, the next three chapters are where things get weeeeeird.

Lab Animal, with a story by Davis and art by Gary Barker and Mike Fentz (showing he can do more than just the funny animal style) is more or less Jim Davis’ The Plague Dogs. An orange cat escapes from a science lab and nearly dies, but carries a secret that allows it to escape. Realistic rendering, dramatic use of color to create atmosphere and, notably, the first chapter in the story wherein Garfield (or his analogue) has no dialogue or narration. A short but moody thriller, well done.

img_1205

Taking a sharp left turn with the next chapter, The Garden is a pure auteur piece – one of only two chapters with both story and art credited to one author, in this case Dave Kühn, and it’s Garfield going full Lisa Frank. There’s not much to say except that it’s pure 80s candy colored sludge, professionally executed but aesthetically indefensible, even from a nostalgic point of view. A girl frolics in a trippy magic garden with another unnamed version of Garfield, who is totally superfluous to the non-story written in calligraphy above their heads. Of interest only to scholars of the decade’s more dubious trends in graphic design.

img_1210

Chapter Seven is the piece de resistance, the one that everyone remembers above all others, the one most frequently excerpted for clickbait like “Top Ten Totally Insanely Dark Moments From Your Childhood That Actually Happened But You Won’t Believe Actually Happened Please Click This Article Or My Children Will Starve!” Even Garfield himself warns you in the prologue that this is going to be the scary one. Barker and Fentz return on art duties from Lab Animal along with Jim Clements, and the art looks much the same but with sketchier inks and more abstract backgrounds to heighten the horror. Also as with that prior story, the stand-in for Garfield is a silent, realistic cat and the narrative is almost purely visual. It’s a great little seven page horror story that would fit in any decent horror comic collection and is all the more arresting for being slipped into a Garfield book. Jim Davis must be a secret horror fan – between this, the 1989 Halloween psychodrama and the well-produced 1985 animated special Garfield’s Halloween Adventure, which The Onion AV Club interviewed Davis about here. And, indeed, His 9 Lives was an October release.

img_1215

The penultimate chapter resets the Garfield universe back to status quo with what in today’s parlance is called a soft reboot: an official canon origin story about Garfield being born in an Italian restaurant, adopted by Jon Arbuckle and introduced to Odie. The page layouts and color design resemble the Sunday newspaper strips, and the art by Gary Barker and Valette Hildebrand is on-model to the strip as well, so you’re left wondering what the point was of an unremarkable Garfield story with a longer page count – besides, presumably, satisfying the publisher that there’s at least one normal Garfield story amongst all the weirdness.

img_1219

Crisis On Infinite Garfields concludes with the other auteur turn, a chapter written and illustrated by Jim Clements called Space Cat. Where The Garden was at least stylistically idiosyncratic, Clements doesn’t stray far from the standard Garfield art or comedy, simply putting Garfield on a spaceship for some anti-gravity and artificial intelligence jokes that probably weren’t as stale in 1984. The backgrounds are especially fun, with lots of detail in the spaceship interiors and space vistas. The only unconventional features are how dense some of the dialogue balloons are and how Garfield is sometimes shown speaking with his mouth open.

img_1229

Garfield: His 9 Lives may not have been a smash hit, but there’s some quality work on display and a legacy of sorts: beyond the infamous Primal Self being rediscovered by the Internet, there was also a 1988 animated version of the book which, with a few segments switched out for new ones, attempted an anthology with different animation styles akin to Heavy Metal the movie. Garfield the pop culture icon didn’t try anything radical in the subsequent 30 years – the abysmal film versions with Bill Murray were certainly retrograde. However in 2014 Boom! Studios used their monthly Garfield comic book series as the platform for a four-part remake of Garfield: His 9 Lives, hiring a diverse group of cartoonists to get creative, including Brittney Williams, David DeGrand, Roger Langridge, and a 2000 A.D. artist (Frazer Irving) remaking Lab Cat – which definitely brings the project to a conceptual full circle.

If you’re old enough to appreciate Garfield: His 9 Lives, you’re too old for Garfield the comic strip. But if you grew up enjoying Garfield as a kid and want one Garfield book to keep on your shelf to reminisce with – one that’s not in that inconvenient rectangular format – this is the one.

CREDITS

Writers, Jim Davis, Mike Fentz, Ron Tuthill, Dave Kühn, Jim Clements; artists, Jim Davis, Mike Fentz, Larry Fentz, Kevin Campbell, Gary Barker, Dave Kühn, Jim Clements, Valette Hildebrand, Doc Davis; publisher, Ballantine Books.

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: