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From The Champaign Library

My budget is tight! My space is even tighter! And my love for comics continues! Watching episodes of Hoarders, as I’m also doing right now, freaks me out! The shocking physical conditions of hoarders’ homes is one huge factor. There’s also the emotional and psychological attitudes many hoarders exhibit. The shock hits home sometimes. The two homes my maternal grandparents owned in my lifetime were immaculate and somewhat spare, thanks to my grandma. In contrast, my grandpa bought up tools, good furniture, odds and ends, and bought buildings for his stuff after filling the shed. The buying drove her crazy.

And so it is with comics for me. I’m at the point now where something old has to go out to make room for something new, and it’s been difficult because it’s meant re-examining my relationship to things in general, but books specifically.

Galactus sees you!

Thankfully my library has great graphic novels, either in its own collection or through inter-library loans! Most recently I’ve borrowed Mysterius the Unfathomable, Kirby: King of Comics, and Walking Dead Compendium volume 1. Jeff Parker and Tom Fowler’s Mysterius is a cantankerous, somewhat egotistical sorcerer with a penchant for traveling by private rail car. Mysterius meets Ella, a young writer for an alt paper who’s come to cover a seance he’s conducting. After some subtle manipulation, she reluctantly joins the magician on a supernatural adventure. But the tone isn’t all doom and gloom here, thanks in part to Fowler’s art which is dynamic and animated and a great choice to bring the wacky hijinks to life. I’d consider picking up a one shot or another mini series, but who knows what might happen now that Wildstorm is shutting down. Actually, I think Mysterius could easily make the transition to cartoon and be at home for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.

It’s probably a bad idea to confess I’ve not had nearly the same level of appreciation for Jack Kirby’s work that other comics readers do. Who the heck doesn’t like Kirby, right! Neal Adams, Berni Wrightson, Curt Swan, John Buscema, Gene Colan, and Barry Windsor Smith had the strongest pull for me at the start of my comics love affair. Only within the past few years did my opinion begin to soften of the man alliteratively crowned King Kirby. On a different visit to the graphic novel section in my library, I came across Kirby: King of Comics and decided it was time to learn about the man and the artist.

Mark Evanier’s book on Kirby is oversized at 12 x 9 inches, making for really beautiful reproductions. It’s a fittingly big book coming in at three pounds and numbering 224 pages. Evanier presents a ton (okay, 3 pounds) of stories, anecdotes, and comics history, a lot of which was behind the scenes, in a clear and informative style. It’s a shame DC editors Jack Schiff and Mort Weisinger went out of their ways to mistreat Kirby. The artist might have stayed at DC instead of leaving the Challengers to pick up what work he could from Atlas until Martin Goodman gave Stan Lee the go ahead to try superheroes. From reading this book I came away with an appreciation for Kirby as a man and as a husband and father whose overwhelming need was to take care of his family.

You can't hide, puny human!

My last library read is The Walking Dead Compendium. I’ve heard nothing but positive comments about this series but ignored it because I assumed it dealt mainly with zombies and I had a low opinion of Robert Kirkman’s writing based on some of his Marvel Team-Up that I read. Unlike my other library finds, I had to request to borrow Walking. I took the 7 other requests ahead of mine as more indication that the story was better than average. Walking Dead is amazing! Sure, there are zombies, but they’re a plot device. Kirkman brings a small group of survivors to life with an intense focus on characterization and Charlie Adlard is great at conveying emotions in his art. Yes, there’s a ton of action! And there are terrible consequences! Things happen and they’re not undone! No, I won’t tell you anything to spoil you! But if you’re bored with the controlled and often convoluted status quo in superhero comics, you really should check Walking Dead out. The compendium volume collects 48 issues and so massive I was afraid the book might split in two. Of course Image has smaller trades and Amazon’s compendium listing lets you preview part of the book.

October 11, 2010
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