The Very Short Review this week will, of course, be devoted to guiding people who need to exercise their gift cards wisely. To this end I have selected a couple meaty, relatively expensive graphic novels or books. You don’t want to blow that Christmas money on a bunch of small stuff!
First up: Tom Strong. Award-winning author Alan Moore has been a major force in the comics field for decades, and surely everyone has heard of his Dark Knight Returns, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and V for Vendetta. Tom Strong is not like any of those dark depressing titles. Tom is a pulp hero in the grand style, with a headquarters in a penthouse, a mysterious origin, and lots of fun tech. A master of secrets, Moore is careful to let us know that there is a dark side (who was Tom’s father, really?) but it is all kept more or less bright and clear. All the original comics have long since been collected into graphic novels, which are delightful. Not until the very end do you realize that Tom ties into Moore’s other “America’s Best Comics” line, crossing over with Promethea and the other heroes in that universe. But you won’t want to miss those either, I promise you.
If you still have some balance left on that gift card, and if you really want to think about comics as an art form, have a look at the classic Understanding Comics: The Invisibe Art by Scott McCloud. The how and the why of graphic storytelling is laid out for you clearly in, yes of course, serial format. This book will increase your enjoyment of comics, the way taking a history of art course increases your pleasure in museums. All of a sudden you have names for what you are seeing — you have tools for understanding and discussing. Read this and you can come back to this blog on Mondays and argue with me about comics!