Thursday, 16 September 2010

Neil Gaiman - Sandman: A Game of You

I recently reread the fifth book of the lovely Sandman series by Neil Gaiman et al.
A Game of You has apparently never been a fan favorite, probably due to Morpheus appearing only in a small number of pages and, well, not doing much. The fact that the story is rather dark in tone too, and bad things happen to nice people, doesn't help either.
And to top it, it has somewhat standalone quality which allows people to happily skip it if they want. The main character had a minor role in earlier book, Doll's House, and one of the supporting characters had a connection to first book Preludes and Nocturnes, but you don't need to read those to get this one. One of the characters introduced here plays a role in later books but for the most part what happens in this book stays in this book.

However, when rereading this volume I did notice some things I hadn't really paid attention to before.
Morpheus stays on the side and does not do much, but as Thessaly points out, "sometimes inaction is itself action". Despite Morpheus knocking elbows with likes of Odin, Bast and Lucifer we haven't really seen him before in this god role, as transcendental divine being, even if only in a skerry of dreamland.

The small scene with Nuala, him saying "you did the right thing" when Nuala had tried to interfere in waking world and warn Barbie, has always somewhat bugged me, it feels so out of place in the story, and characterization of Morpheus in previous stories and also in some of the coming ones. However, I have come to think it does fit the grand scheme. There has been discussion of how much Morpheus actually had orchestrated the events leading to the end of Kindly Ones, and if this was the case, how the plan was formed during the series.
Acts in the previous book, Season of Mists, of course had set some of the key elements in motion but in Game of You we see more of the psychological background of it all: Morpheus had set himself to be this grand and distant figure, why should he do anything about skerries living or dying? Yet he recognizes the significance of involvement and approves involvement by proxy, via Nuala or some once given boon. Yet he is uncapable of bending, making the leap of faith and getting directly involved.
Samuel Delany in his introduction discusses the differences of Game of You and Game of I in terms of Barbie, Wanda and Thessaly but they apply also to Morpheus, he cannot win either.

Oh, and only now I realized that despite their similar outward appearances, Thessaly, Hazel and Foxglove walking on the Moon's Road were a maiden, a mother and a crone. D'oh!
Originally I pretty much hated Colleen Doran's art on the third part of the book, but since then I have seen her work elsewhere which I have liked a lot more. But I still think that here it does not look good.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Barack Obama, The Comic Book Biography

...what? Yes, I did read this.

So, a hardcover book published by IDW, covering the life of Barack Obama up to his election as US president, and 100 first days of his administration.
I have an interest in how non-fiction turns into comics. On the area of biographies there's been some great autobiographies in recent years, works like Fun Home and Persepolis, and a bit older Maus belongs to the same group. Of historical biographies I have read and enjoyed among others both poetic treatment Gilbert Hernandez gave to Frida Kahlo and more matter-of-fact stories Roberta Gregory has told of history of feminism.
I am also fascinated by even those educational comics telling about subjects like importance of zinc in everyday life, even if I understand this interest is commonly considered somewhat perverse.

So, how do these artists tell us about Obama? First observation comes from cover: neither front nor back cover reveal who are the artists responsible of the book which is pretty peculiar if you ask me. Cracking the book open reveals the creators: writing by Jeff Mariotte, art by Tom Morgan and covers by J. Scott Campbell. The art both in covers and inside is contemporary superhero style (well, except for people looking more real) and as such functional, even if I did spot occasional gaffes like an incredible shrinking man on the first page, and McCain morphing into a Nixon lookalike later on...

To call the book text-heavy is an understatement. Lots and lots of yellow boxes containing narration, and some big speech balloons, usually large blocks of speeches, this book is definitely tell-don't-show. For the most part the function of the art is to pace the text boxes, it does get to narrate very little by itself. What's more, there are very few scenes extending over two panels or more, and all of these are concentrated on the beginning of the book, scenes which quote Obama's own books. Later on, the writer just puts in the text boxes written in journalistic style, and the artist puts in whatever suitable pictures fit the text.
The style is that of a documentary film, in some ways better because obviously some of those pictures couldn't be replicated in film nor could the iconic qualities of the subjects be emphasized in that way, but in some ways worse, and it is definitely not a good way of making comics.

According to the back cover, the book is "[...] documenting the facts without bias", and to be honest I could have used a bit of bias here. The best parts are in the beginning of the book when Obama gets to tell himself what happened, but later on we get just facts after facts, and while those might work for newscasters or magazine or Wikipedia articles, here it just doesn't.
Cut the facts, tell us what happened.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

She is beyond good and evil

A casual observation from comics I have been writing about so far, and of my comics reading in general: I read lots of comics by both male and female artists. When picking up material to read, I have no preference for either gender (or any other, for that matter).
Naturally there are differences. Different genres get different creators, there are some thematic and possibly also artistic preferences, and in western world majority of female creators tend to be in indie scene (manga is naturally a different beast). But I read a variety of genres, I am open to many styles and read both mainstream and indie comics so that's ok.

Because I have such a difficulty to fathom why would anyone have a preference for either male or female creators, I am known to be occasionally dismissive about these female empowerment initiatives and whatelse. From where I am standing those are a step backward, even if when I look at things objectively I do notice the need for them.

I rarely say this but in some ways it would be better if everyone would think like me (in some other ways it would suck so hard). But honestly, all you need to do is to love comics as an artform.

Kiba Lumberg - Gipsycomix

In physical size Gipsycomix book by Kiba Lumberg, writer and painter, is quite small. It contains the comic strip that ran in the newspaper Ilta-Sanomat as "kuukauden kotimainen" (monthly changing strip by Finnish artists) in 1991, some additional strips and one longer story.
In terms of content it is thick one though, with Lumberg addressing several themes relevant to an ethnic minority, especially one who traditionally has been more an object than a subject in literature. In an interview she does mention the reluctance of Romani people to discuss their matters with outsiders and how they have traditionally moved from place to place without building or leaving other permanent traces of themselves.
Beside obvious themes like racism, Lumberg does not hesitate to handle some of the darker sides within Romani, like oppression of women and strict behaviour codes and casting out of those who don't wish to follow them. Yet despite heavy subjects, this is a comic strip and cartoonish humour and exaggeration is the chosen style (it should be noted that I have a strong appreciation for anyone who manages to be light in tone without being trivial).

Ai Yazawa - Nana

What drew me to the world of two girls named Nana? Well, it helped that the series was translated in Finnish and available in libraries, so I could pick a copy, and it was mentioned to be rather down-to-earth for those of us who are getting a tad tired on mechas, magic girls and martial arts type of manga.

Nana is another of those odd-couple stories, two strongly different characters who by chance are thrown together and who get along despite their differences or possibly because of them. Blond Nana, usually called Hachi in the series, is a cheerful airhead ruled by impulses, gets to be the main point of view for large part of the series, while dark Nana, surly and ambitious rocker, opens her point of view much more slowly.
And to be honest, if the series had just stuck to the characters as they were in the first book and we had just wacky adventures of Nana and Hachi, I wouldn't have bothered to continue reading it for both the hyperactivity of Hachi and surliness of Nana rubbed me the wrong way. Luckily, this series does much better than that.

These characters actually grow during the series, and their relationship as well as the relationships of the supporting cast do evolve. Some become more mature, others start to fall apart...and there's a refreshing lack of easy answers, less-than-ideal situations can turn into blessings while dream fulfillment might end up in misery, and it's quite hard to decide who actually are on the side of angels.
These characters ring true, in slightly poisonous soap opera way, but still.

There's lots of good discussion about the first twelve books (which, incidentally, is as far as I have read the series so far) on Comics Should Be Good website.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Batman - Death in the Family & Lonely Place of Dying

A nice thick double feature here of late 80's Batman in hard covers, a book collecting two Robin-centered series, Death in the Family and Lonely Place of Dying.
At this point Dark Knight had Returned already, and while darker Batman was nothing new there's a demand of going even further. And yet we are not quite yet in the full doom'n'gloom of coming years, much of which would only end up a tad boring once the novelty and shock effect wears off.
Speaking of novelty and shock effect... retrospect Death in the Family is best remembered from the phone voting deciding if Robin, the Jason Todd version, would survive or not. The public demanded blood, and Jason died in an explosion set up by Joker. One could say that remembering the series just for that is doing it justice, for otherwise the story has plenty of...curious logic to start with and has not aged gracefully (Ayatollah? Really?) Aparo's art is of course enjoyable.

Lonely Place of Dying comes off as the better half of the book. The story is sprawling to many directions but manages to pull it off, new fresh take to role of Robin is done with Tim Drake and the Batman-Nightwing-Tim Drake personal dynamics work well. Two-Face is also dramatic but at the same time amusingly bonkers villain, and having Batman and Two-Face trying to double-guess each other was just great fun. And as something of an anti-Frank Miller I can see why some friends of mine are vocal George Perez fans: the world is clearly a better place when he is in it.

But it must be said that innocence once seduced can never be regained: it's probably impossible for me to read a Batman-Robin story without imposing a pederasty layer in it.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Maisa & Kaarina

Expanding from the last text, I thought to mention a comic which has been appearing weekly in Finnish women's magazine Anna for 20+ years now, Maisa & Kaarina by Sari Luhtanen and Tiina Paju.

The strip draws from odd couple tradition, with two highly different characters who just are friends. Maisa is blond, roundish, single and a bit uncertain what she wants from life, vaguely political and highly romantic, while Kaarina is dark, slim housewife, efficient and cuttingly pragmatic. Kaarina's husband is mostly off-panel or sometimes appears in silhouette and couple of other friends of M&K appear every now and then but don't really play a role in the strip.

The themes are mostly the same as the rest of the magazine, food, clothes, makeup, relationships, exercise, some politics and so forth. It probably wouldn't work on too large portions because there isn't that big variety of themes, but there is enough for weekly strips and also for 64-page albums (reading several albums one after the other would be too much though). And even if this reader lacks ovaries or the whole pantyhose experience, it is a good an funny strip, the characters ring true even if they play on stereotypes and the art is solid and professional.

What should a Comic-Con story look like in Elle magazine?

Couple of posts in Valerie d'Orazio's blog made me wonder about the aims of an initiative to bring comics to masses etc. and what do we talk about when we talk about mainstream.

Now, comics in America have somewhat unusual situation that what is commonly considered mainstream in comics is pretty far from what most "normal" people would consider mainstream and what is normally considered mainstream is in world of comics far away in the "alternative" horizon. Admittedly superhero comics are at the moment a fertile field to produce movies which do have a mainstream appeal, but being a raw ingredient is different from being a final product.
This mining part has in any case lead to the fact that Comic-Con has got more and more activity related to movies, and naturally also more interest in mainstream media.
However, the media will be discussing mainly about the subjects of mainstream interest, in case of Elle what various movie starlets were wearing. What should have they been writing? They are Elle, they most likely know what their readers are interested in. On the comics side of thing, was there anything interesting in the Con? And if there was, what was it and why didn't the people who do Elle find out about it?

There is a call for bigger diversity in comics which is of course all fine and dandy. But I couldn't help noticing that in the initial "Revolution" post the aim seems to be getting interest in comic pamphlets distributed via direct market. Why, may I ask?
One cannot help noticing that there are every now and then comic boosk which seem to get quite positive mainstream media attention, possibly also translating to sales (haven't seen the figures so don't know if they are just critics' darlings). Maus, Persepolis, Fun Home, stuff like that. First of all there's the question of content: those books have some relevance to the world most of us are living in. The second thing is that you can go to a bookstore and buy a book from there and you have the story right there. No background information necessary (well, it helps if you have some idea what happened in WWII or where is Iran) and no need to go to the store every Wednesday to get another piece of the story.

Even if the content would change, would it sell unless other distribution methods are considered, or possibly even other formats? And I am not talking about distributing the bloody pamphlets in digital form into iPhone or whatever.
Among American comics enthusiasts I have discussed with I have been noticing a strange blindness towards perhaps the most mainstream comic format: strips in newspapers and magazines. It appears that less and less newspapers are paying attention to what is happening in the comics section, running any old thing, editing the strips so they fit the space even if they don't make sense after editing, cutting down the size etc. It also doesn't help that many comic strips need to sell to numerous papers across the country and to achieve that one needs to work with the lowest common denominators and avoid offending anyone, and that can lead to some weird issues like making "banana" a forbidden word.
Selling a regular strip to a magazine might work better, there you can hopefully address more specific audience. The problem are of course readers, who should demand a good comics section in whatever newspaper and magazine they are reading. And if comics are really such a diverse medium, there shouldn't be a magazine which couldn't possibly have a comics section.

Is there a comic strip appearing in Elle? If there isn't, why not?
There's a challenging but clear and IMO achievable goal to the revolution initiative: sell a regular comic strip to Elle (and Rolling Stone and Scientific American and church newsletter and every other paper everywhere). Maybe more people would get more interested in comics as a format and some of those might also venture out to check out an interesting book by Viz, Fantagraphics, or Marvel.
Because here's a nugget to consider: maybe DC, Marvel and direct market comic shops are hopelessly restricted to ghetto. I like superhero books, but I like plenty of things which I know will never have mainstream appeal. Maybe achieving mainstream success requires abandoning the current industry model, not just tweaking it.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Pearls Before Swine

I am not quite sure what to make of Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis as a newspaper strip because that's not a format I read it. The only newspaper I come across that carries it is this free one which I read very irregularly on buses, and I have not quite got into web strip format (web comics I read tend to be blogs, not dailies).
Instead I have been reading it in big chunks in treasuries, there's four of them out at the moment. What is interesting is that Mr. Pastis provides lots of comments on individual strips, telling about inspirations, reactions, planned alternative takes, pointing out details (usually mocking his own drawings) etc. And considering how Pastis makes regular appearances in the strip itself and there are also numerous references on being a comic strip, poking fun on other strips and so forth, there's a good deal of meta buzz going on without it being either the main point of the series like with e.g. Sam's Strip but far more than in pretty much every normal strip.

There is something deeply satisfying about Pearls Before Swine. Beside the frequent metacommentary, there's the crude and simplistic but extremely functional artwork, main characters named Rat, Pig, Goat etc. and writing ranging from really bad puns (the so-bad-it's great kind) to poignant social commentary to touching moments to funny jokes. It's practically the Platonic Idea of a comic strip.

And despite Pastis' claims of PBS being a dark strip, I actually find it quite positive. I am somewhat tired of cynicism and hopelessness of strips like Dilbert (I am perfectly capable of being highly cynical, dark and hopeless by myself, I don't need help by amateurs) and I absolutely loathe sadism as source of humour. Garfield started this trend by its popularity and while it was funny in its first years and put some variety to the concept, it inspired a number of copycats who thought making a strip of a character who torments other characters is comedy gold. So strips like Get Fuzzy have no appeal to me.
But a strip that is funny without being negative or sugary, there's not too many of those.
And as far as alleged edginess goes, my local paper carries Fingerpori, Viivi &Wagner, Wulffmorgentaler and Biller so my views of what is acceptable content in a comic page of a newspaper are somewhat desentisized...

I'm a fan of the band too.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Slices of Japanese horror

I enjoy horror genre in comics and movies, even when I am not that easily scared of them. Still, I do like building of the ambience and interesting visual styles many of the better ones go for, and in any case I do have a soft spot for lurid melodramas.
Making sense or being believable is optional and more often than not can work against the story.
After reading some Junji Ito (Uzumaki and Tomie stories, which I might discuss some later time) and coming across some other comments I did get more curious about Japanese horror manga, and after looking what more knowing people mentioned and what was available in the local store, I tried out first books of two titles.
Of course with horror relying on other people's criticism and recommendations is even more tricky than with other genres, since that ambience thing is very personal and what suits one is likely to bore another...

Reiko the Zombie Shop by Rei Mikamoto seems to me one of those "perfect first page" books, the concept graps attention but the actual book...ehh...Reiko is a schoolgirl necromancer-for-hire who by chanting some magic words can raise the dead. Lots of graphic violence ensues.
This first book is a bunch of short stories, though there's also a longer story about a schoolgirl serial killer who kills little children. In most of the stories I pretty much figured out after first couple of pages how it would play out though there were couple of surprise twists in the end, the main focus is gore (injury-in-the-eye seems particularly popular). There is very little information given about the characters for me to care about them, and the art doesn't appeal to me either, so even without the horror thrills there isn't much to read here.
Had I thought this through beforehand I might have guessed anyway that this is not a book for me, I tend to prefer my horror more creepy and eerie than straightforward gore or monster books. The serial killer girl might have had some potential in different hands, but here she was nothing special.
Oh well, there is probably market for this kind of thing (apparently not that big though, of 11 volumes Dark Horse published only six before dropping the series) but this is not for me.
The creepies bit came in the end of the book, in the fan art section, where I noticed couple of 14-15-year olds but also a 8-year old artist. I'm sorry, there's an 8-year old who is familiar enough with this series to do fan art about it? WTF?

That creepy and eerie type of horror I said I liked? School Zone by Kanako Inuki got it. There's a school which might or might not be haunted by 13 ghost stories, it is sometimes hard to tell which parts are real and which are just bunch of people driving themselves into mass hysteria and the whole thing runs on dream or children's logic.
I was especially fond of of the way it does get the feel of children's folklore and oral tradition, this book is about ghost stories after all, and how on one hand some of the stories border on ridiculous and on the other kids can take things very calmly (there's a story of one girl who started to see ghosts in school, and "because of that no one wanted to be her friend anymore", other possible consequences were not mentioned).
I also liked the fact that adults play only a small role in the book, school zone is literally a world of its own. There are teachers and some parents, but they stay for the most part off-panel or panel shows only their hands or feet or have their faces obscured. Reminds me a bit of Peanuts (the "This Shit Is Weird, Charlie Brown" episode), or the more suspenseful moments of Harry Potter.

I enjoyed this a lot but no doubt anyone who wants a sensible plot in their stories will be sorely disappointed...

Thursday, 29 July 2010

The Brave and the Bold Showcase vol 3

As far as superheroes go, I have been mostly on the Marvel side. As a kid I started from Spidey and Hulk and moved on to Fantastic Four, X-Men and Daredevil, and to this day those are my primary idea what superhero comics are like (Supergoof and Phantom Duck are of course there too, but that's another thing).

I did read some Superman comics, because my local library had them, and they were sort of entertaining but not particularly gripping, and I do have a vague recollection of going through some Batman comics and finding them boring and smudgy.

In time I started to get less enthustiatic about Marvel and notice that DC was putting out some interesting books, things like Watchmen and books which would in time become Vertigo. And for several years now of the big two it is them I have paid more attention to, but my knowledge of actual DCU has been very limited, drawn mostly from those early Vertigo books, occasional Batman standalone miniseries and some of the more marginal series like Chase, Young Heroes in Love and Manhunter (yes, me getting interested in a superhero comic more often than not equals cancellation), or second-hand information received from DC enthusiasts like good folks of GLA.

So why does a DC neophyte like me read a showcase of Batman team-up stories from 70s? It was in the local library. Is it good? Ehh, not really if you are not in the target group.
I do think Batman is an interesting superhero, as a character, the type of the stories he is involved with and what kind of visual style often goes with his stories. Of course there's plenty of crap he has starred in but as an idea he is pretty much my favorite of DC big ones.
Unfortunately here the stories are pretty sraightforward, Batman meets another superhero and together they deal with whatever problem has been thrown their way. Slightly more intricate than having two people hit each other for twenty pages but only slightly.
In individual doses this might be sort of entertaining, or if I had some background I could care about these teamup partners and get geekgasms of Batman and Sgt Rock being in the same story.
But as it is, going through this book is a bit of a chore, the highlights being marveling at some of the more outre teamup partners (that postapocalyptic Planet-of-the-Apes-ripoff seemed pretty interesting) and looking at the art by Jim Aparo. Pretty.

I should look at some other Showcases though, I enjoy the format (as well as Essentials of Marvel) but they have been concentrating mostly on Silver Age and what I have seen of Silver Age DC has not impressed me. Well, I did enjoy House of Mystery and Batgirl Showcases, Superman one I tried took forever to read due to almost every story making my brain hurt and stuff like Green Lantern or LSH I haven't even dared to touch.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Iznogoud the Grand Vizier

Iznogoud is one of the second-string francophone comics, not quite as popular or famous as Asterix or Tintin but one which still has been published for decades, translated to several languages, got an animation series and even gave a catchphrase to the common language ("become caliph in caliph's place" is in use to describe strong ambitions to replace higher-ups, usually with backstabbing or other questionable methods and usually failing spectacularly).

The setting is high-fantasy Baghdad of 1001 Nights fame, where the titular Grand Vizier Iznogoud pursues to become Caliph as soon as he can get rid of the current one, Haroun El Poussah. The first years, when the comic was written by René Goscinny of Asterix fame, the stories were about 10-20 pages long but after his death when the artist Jean Tabary started also to write the comic there has been also album-long stories.
The comic sticks to status quo: no matter what happened in the last one, the situation is restored in the beginning of the next one. Caliph Haroun remains completely unaware of the evil machination of his Grand Vizier, and Iznogoud is always there, plotting, even if in the end of the last story he was disintegrated, or frozen, or turned into a worm, or ended up on the other side of the world or outer space...though I have heard Tabary has actually made an album showing how Iznogoud has recovered from all these conditions, unfortunately I have not read that one though.

Iznogoud is definitely one of the most evil and ruthless protagonists in comicdom, one who is not even an anti-hero. He is a pure cartoon villain with no redeeming qualities (unless one considers ineptness to be one). Meanwhile Caliph Haroun El Poussah is commonly considered to be a good ruler, mainly because he does so little of it, preferring sleeping a lot and other simple pleasures of life. As far as antagonists go, he is lazy, slow and passive one and it is typically Iznogoud himself who is his own worst enemy.
The voice of reason in the series is the loyal henchman of Iznogoud, Dilat Larath (Iznogoud does not return the loyalty). He has something of a Sancho Panza role in the stories, as well as the one who either ends up being a test subject for whatever dangerous magic Iznogoud has found or the one who is left picking the pieces in the end.

While some of the stories use pretty regular elements commonly acceptable in 1001 Nights milieu, there are quite a lot of openly anachronistic elements too, though of course wearing "it's magic" tag. There's a magical wall calendar from which you rip pages off and can glue them back on, there's a mail order catalog from which you can order any three things from future (Iznogoud jumps over assault rifles and hand grenades and orders stuff like exercise bicycles and Camembert cheese...) and so forth.
The comics also don't shy away from metacomic elements, and beside occasional cameo roles Tabary has also been an active participant in the story more than once (it works both ways though, couple of stories end up in whatever dangerous magic has been the subject of the story hitting Tabary as he is drawing the last page...). And since many of the more regular stories end in disasters due to ridiculously improbable events, it is good and proper that the writers every now and then show up and remind the reader that writing a status quo comedy is all about cheating.
But even when it comes to regular stories, it is a pleasure to see magic which feels like magic. After several years of playing RPGs and reading run-of-the-mill fantasy books I have become somewhat desentisized to magic items, all those magic swords and rings of protection+1, so jigsaw puzzle which disintegrates whoever you are thinking of when you complete it and things like that are a bit of fresh air (and yes, I have swiped an element or two into my RPGs).

As far as age groups go, Iznogoud is a bit of a puzzler. It is a comedy series wit cartoonish four-color art, and for the most part steers away from overt sex and violence (some later albums written by Tabary have started to throw in some a bit more questionable on-panel material), but there is that whole concept of highly evil protagonist, and generic threat of violence in the could argue that it is a series children would enjoy but their parents might have problems with (and as is common with francophone comics, part of comedy is derived from stereotyping which many Americans tend to find offensive...)

Makes one wonder though if there are other comics having a villain of this purity as a main character (I know likes of Joker and Beagle Boys have starred in their own comics but as protagonists their villainity is always downplayed). Or why 1001 Nights is dragging so much behind, say, pseudomedieval Europe when it comes to sources for fantasy writers to stripmine.

Monday, 26 July 2010

So what this is about?

This is about me commenting comics I have been reading.

There is a fair amount of blogs and other sites out there doing this already, but I noticed that except for couple of sites they concentrated on whatever came out this week. Which is all fine and proper, but betrays an attitude I do not fully share.
I see comics as an art form. Not just in a highbrow way like Finnegan's Wake or L'Année dernière à Marienbad are art (though those too have their place) but also like Pride and Prejudice or Terminator 2 are art. And one of the characteristics of art is that it is not bound to specific week or month until it is replaced by next week's offerings, the work exists in itself.
Actually I am quite poor at picking up comics (or books or music or movies) right after they come out, I usually let time to do a bit of separation for me and come looking after a year or two. If the work cannot be found anymore after this probation period it couldn't have been that good anyway.

I should mention that I do have quite broad taste in what I like, so in future pieces I will be picking American, European and Japanese (and other too, should I come across any) comics of various styles. Some of them might be out of print (but there's no reason why they should be) and some of them might not be available in all the languages of the world, English included (but there's no reason why they shouldn't be, unless otherwise mentioned).
My comments will be mostly on positive side, I do read good comics after all.

More metacomments posted when necessary.

First post

Yes, exactly what the world needs, another blog.