Monday, October 30, 2006

Bits and Pieces

I'm short on time today, but what else is new. My time restrictions are a little tighter today, so I'm going to do a quick rundown of some horror-themed reading material.

I work in a comic shop, which means that lately most of my reading has been of the 4-color kind. A lot of people tend to look down on that, even if they can appreciate that comics can be intellectually stimulating, it's still seen as a guilty pleasure. Frankly, I'm okay with that, even though I think a lot of comic writers deserve recognition from circles larger than just the comic book 'geeks'. My recommendation is one of those writers.

Anybody who's visited this blog more than once has probably heard me mention Warren Ellis, if not you've probably seen the link to his website on the right side of your screen. He's one of the most prolific writers in comics today, with never less than 4 series going on at the same time. He writes constantly, with varying levels of quality, but when he's good, he's peerless. Well, he's maybe second to Alan Moore, but no one today is at that level. One of the most interesting things about Mr. Ellis' career is his dedication to smaller, more personal projects while still continuing his higher-profile work for larger publishers. One of these books is Fell, a slight experiment in form, with it being much shorter than a normal comic, but without any advertisements, each issue being a self contained story, and all cheaper than just about any other book out there. He's stated that his reason for this book is the sympathy he felt for fans at conventions who wanted him to sign blank pieces of paper, saying they just can't afford to buy comics regularly.

Fell plays right into my interests, with it's incredibly creepy and disturbingly gruesome mysteries, and the fact that it's all self-contained. I've been really interested in condensing information lately, getting out as much information as possible for the least amount of exposition. Fell, despite having only 22 pages to tell an entire story, never overcrowds the panel with dialogue or narration. Warren Ellis has always had respect for the artist, and always gives enough room for the art to convey the emotion. Speaking of the art, Ben Templesmith gained fame in horror circles for 30 Days of Night(probably one of the most overrated comics in recent years, by the way), but his art never really impressed me before now. He's a great artist, but he always struck me as wrong for comics, since his style is so abstract. It's usually too dark and sketchy to make out any action. With Fell, however, he reigns back his normal style and makes it much more linear and clearer to the eye without losing anything of what makes his art unique.

The book only has 6 issues out so far, and since it's one of Warren Ellis' 'personal' projects, it's not very regular, but it's worth getting into. Ironically enough the book has gone through multiple printings, and finding the first couple issues of this 'cheap' comic could be quite pricey.

On the subject of Warren Ellis, I must also recommend the series 'Planetary'. It isn't a horror book by any means, but it should appeal to any horror fan(they go to Monster Island in one issue. Another has a giant Praying Mantis). Now is a GREAT time to get into the series, and I say that because the final issue just came out last week. The reason it's great to get into this series now that it's over is because you can read the entire story in one go, as opposed to the interminable wait we fans had during it's regular run. Although the final issue came out last week, the previous issue came out in 2005.

Now that the series is over, I can't say that it's the greatest comic book currently being published, which rest assured it was during most of it's run. The series starts slowly, and may be off putting to some readers due it's format. The series follows a team of archaeologists who specialize in the bizarre, and these people don't take a very active role in events for the first part of the run. It's weird, the book ending just before, or starting just after, big events take place. Big events happen, but you usually only hear about them for awhile. Once the book picks up though, everything becomes worthwhile, as mysteries unfold so ingeniously that you often don't even realize there's a mystery there until it's solved. The book is really an outlet for Warren Ellis' varied ideas, and a place to play around with every genre imaginable, touching on horror, sci-fi, superheroes, mysticism, 50s style sci-fi, aboriginal legends, and metaphysical philosophies.

It really is an excellent book, and well worth the money spent on a collection of trade paperbacks. So go buy it!

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