Showing posts with label Jill Thompson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jill Thompson. Show all posts

Friday, May 3, 2013

C2E2 2013: Groo and other sketchy subjects

At any convention I attend, I'm always excited to get some contributions to my Groo sketchbook, and here's what I obtained this year:

Jeff Zwirek drew this nice image of Groo and Rufferto thinking of food; I especially love the body language.

Boulet contributed this detailed image. He wasn't actually familiar with the character or Sergio Aragones; he said the only MAD cartoonist with much of a reputation in France is Harvey Kurtzman. Since the person in front of me had him draw Thor, he said this was his barbarian day. It was a real treat to watch him draw; the way he drew straight to ink was incredible, as if the details were flowing straight out of his imagination and through the pen.

Jason Copland, the artist of Kill All Monsters, drew a more realistic take on the character, although he didn't seem satisfied when he was done, so his partner Michael May later tweeted to show some more sketches he did that he thought turned out better (I'm happy with my version, of course; it's got a nice grittiness to it).

Amy Reeder did this nifty cartoony take on Groo; I especially like the expressive eyebrows.

And K. Lynne, the artist of the webcomic Plume, drew this nice penciled image of the character.

But that's not all of the drawings which I brought home. My daughter also asked several artists to draw her favorite subject: princesses. Here are the results:

Chris Samnee whipped out this Sharpie sketch of a cute, friendly young royal.

Jill Thompson drew Princess Delirium, although she's just a mermaid princess as far as Magnolia is concerned.

Maggie switched things up a bit with Geof Darrow, asking him to draw a doggie for her little sister.

Amy Reeder was happy to draw a princess for Maggie, since they are a favorite subject of hers as well.

Amy Mebberson went to the Disney well with this depiction of Maggie's favorite princess, Cinderella.

Denver Brubaker did a nice, simple sketch of Sleeping Beauty.

Sean Dove drew a really cute Belle.

And Jeremy Bastian finished things off with a nicely detailed little lady.

The one other sketch I ended up with was one I didn't even ask for; Geof Darrow scrawled it self-deprecatingly on the back of the posters for his series Shaolin Cowboy that were being given away at the Dark Horse Booth:

All in all, a pretty nice sampling of good artwork from talented creators. My world has been enriched.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pamphleteering: October and probably earlier

Elsewhere: I reviewed Fantastic Four #572 for Comics Bulletin, and the latest episodes of Dollhouse and The Venture Brothers for The Factual Opinion. I'm prolific!

Links, lots of links: This gallery of Robert Crumb pictures of women throughout history is nice, although it seems like a collection of separate pieces thrown together, rather than a stuff done as part of a cohesive project. The portraits of girls he went to school with (with notes about what he found attractive about them) seem especially incongruous. Still: it's Crumb, so it's cool.

Everybody else has already linked to this, but I gotta point it out: a new four-page Chris Ware strip for The New Yorker! It's damn good, featuring the one-legged woman from Building Stories, at some point later in her life. Man, I love how he can put together such an affecting and realistic portrait of a human character in such a short space. Good stuff.

On a sillier note, here are some comic strip mashups by Ryan Dunlavey, that plug superheroes or other characters into classic strips like Peanuts or The Family Circus. Funny stuff.

Fundraising notice: Spike, of Templar, Arizona fame, is launching a new book project to be written by her and illustrated by Diana Nock. It's called Poorcraft, and it's all about sharing secrets on living with a low income. Sounds cool, and the neat thing about it is that, as with some other comics projects of late, you can donate to the cause through Kickstarter to help fund the project, and receive neat stuff like autographed copies of the book in exchange. I love that the internet has brought about ideas like this; it's a brave new world.

Finally, Brian Wood has a post on Vertigo's blog listing his favorite historical Viking battles, with notes on how they relate to Northlanders. Cool.

Okay, reviews of single issues, go:

Beasts of Burden #2
Written by Evan Dorkin
Art by Jill Thompson

Wow, this series is surprisingly dark. Although it shouldn't be that much of a surprise; the stories that began the series often dealt with serious issues like death and revenge, but that nature is masked by the cuteness of the protagonists and Jill Thompson's always-gorgeous artwork. But this issue is where we really see what the series is all about; it's not a frivolous fantasy about magic-using doggies and kitties, but an effective device for horror. The story here (involving the ghosts of missing animals and the discovery of what happened to them) really drives it home, with several moments that shock in their violence and don't provide an easy, safe resolution. And the final page is one of the most wrenchingly, hauntingly sad images I've seen in ages; it's going to linger in the memory for a while. Exemplary work from Dorkin and Thompson; this comic is shaping up to be one of the best of the year.

The Order of Dagonet #1
Written by Jeremy Whitley
Art by Jason Strutz

Hey, how crazy would it be if all those entertainers and celebrities that get knighted by the queen of England actually had to defend the crown? That's the premise of this series, and it seems like a fun idea, especially when you throw in the fact that England is being attacked by creatures from the land of faerie and Merlin is the one who gathers them together, apparently giving them magical abilities or some such. It's a fun idea, and while this first issue is mostly devoted to explaining the premise and rounding up the cast, who include stand-ins for Ozzy Osbourne and Neil Gaiman (with a dash of J.K. Rowling), along with a washed up old Shakespearean actor similar to a less-respectable Ian McKellen or Ben Kinglsey, it's interesting enough to warrant attention.

As for the actual execution, it's not perfect, but that's at least partly due to overambition; the issue is full of interesting layouts, like the first couple pages, which see panels appearing as radio waves emanating from a broadcasting antenna:

Unfortunately, the flow can be confusing at times, but it's usually understandable, at least. And the art style itself is idiosyncratic and unique, looking like it was done with crayons or colored pencils and full of little scribbles of color. Again, it's not perfect and can be a bit confusing, but it's interesting just for being different rather than emulating whatever's popular.

If this first issue is any judge, it should be a series to watch, especially once the plot really gets underway. The creators seem to have a real labor of love here, and hopefully they'll continue to improve and make it something really worth reading.

If you're interested, the issue can be purchased from the book's website.

The Anchor #1
Written by Phil Hester
Art by Brian Churilla

Phil Hester might be thought of more as an artist than a writer, but that would be neglecting what is arguably the best work of his career, especially his collaborations with Mike Huddleston, The Coffin and Deep Sleeper. And judging by this issue, The Anchor is another series that should be added to Hester's authorial pedigree. It's one of those action-packed supernatural series, with the hook being that the title character is God's guardian at the gates of Hell, keeping demons from escaping to Earth, while at the same time, he has a physical body on Earth who ends up fighting a giant monster in Iceland in this first issue. It's pretty cool stuff, with some interesting ideas linking the two versions of the character and helping him defeat the monster, and the art by Brian Churilla is really nice, full of ugly demons, expressive characters, and hard-hitting action, and especially making the Anchor looks like a hulking beast of a man, barely intelligent yet massively powerful. It's a nice concept for a comic, and hopefully Hester will continue to build on it and come up with interesting conflicts as the series goes on. In any case, I'm sure Churilla will rise to the occasion and deliver some incredible visuals. Let's make the magic happen, guys!

Robot 13: Colossus #1-2
Written by Thomas Hall
Art by Daniel Bradford

When I first saw preview art for this series, I dismissed it as a Mike Mignola ripoff. Having actually read these first two issues, I'll say that said dismissal might have been hasty, but isn't necessarily unwarranted. The story here, about a mysterious, ancient robot (or whatever it is, consisting of a skull in a fishbowl atop a mechanical body) who, having been found in the depths of the ocean, is constantly fighting gigantic monsters, doesn't really have the depth of Mignola's work, but it's entertaining in its own way, and has its own unique variations on the craggy monsters and deep shadows of Hellboy and the like. Actually, it's fairly light stuff, with nothing much happening outside of those monster fights, aside from a flashback/memory at the beginning of the second issue that suggests the robot originated in ancient Greece. But the fights themselves are quite entertaining, offering some comic value from the spindly-limbed automaton going up against a giant octopus in the first issue and a phoenix in the second. And that phoenix allows for some searingly bright colors and high-altitude combat that does make the series pretty unique. So far, it's not an especially deep comic, but it's a fun one, and one that deserves some attention. Give it a look, if you can find it.

You can purchase the issues here, although the first issue appears to be sold out.

Criminal: The Sinners #1
Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Sean Phillips

There's not a lot to say about the story of this first issue of the latest Criminal storyline/miniseries, other than it's as good as ever, full of Ed Brubaker's signature character work, propulsive plotting, and utilization of the seedy settings he has created. He's refined this technique to a science by this point, and while he'll probably set up some excellent twists and surprises at some point, right now he's just doing the establishing work that kicks off each new arc, and it's exactly as nicely done as one would expect.

But on the other hand, Sean Phillips can never have too much praise, since his visuals are what really bring this series to life, and while he can be given the same plaudits as Brubaker, in that he's establishing the moody atmosphere and flawed characters in the same manner as normal, there's always something hidden under the surface, some details that really show the care and craft that are put into his work. The years of sin that are etched into this character's face, for example:

Or the variety of easily-read yet understated emotions that are written across this character's visage:

Gorgeous stuff, as always, and something that could certainly warrant a deeper examination. But for now, it's enough for me to note that it's amazing work and a reminder why I love this series so much. Next issue, please.

Bonus: did anybody else note the appearance by 30 Rock's Scott Adsit?

He even got mentioned by name!

Per FTC regulations: some of these reviews were based on complimentary copies provided by the publishers, either electronic or hard copy. But I won't reveal which, lest it damage my precious critical credibility.

Monday, September 14, 2009

This week, I'll get away from it all

Lotsa links: This has gone around for a while, but it's worth pointing out: Jason Thompson is going to be updating his Manga: The Complete Guide online, covering whatever has been released since it came out in daily reviews on (here's the link to that series of posts). In addition, he's going to be giving away five volumes from his collection each day to somebody who signs up, so that's a good incentive to read. Here's the post with the details; the whole thing starts on September 16.

Around the blogosphere: Alan David Doane is relaunching his regularly-metamorphosing Comic Book Galaxy site, creating a group blog called Trouble With Comics. Looks like it'll be one to follow, with contributors that include Johnny Bacardy, D. Emerson Eddy, Marc Sobel, Matt Springer, and others. Check it out.

Dark Horse has posted the third Beasts of Burden story online, and it's a doozy, featuring an attack of zombie dogs. The upcoming series looks pretty incredible; I can't wait to read it. Why, if you look below, you might just see it! Cool!

Other neat online comics: I haven't linked to Darryl Cunningham's series on mental illnesses, but it's been really good and very informative. The latest one, on schizophrenia, went up the other day, and I also recommend the recent entry on bipolar disorder. These are eventually going to be collected in a book called Psychiatric Tales. Gotta love the nonfiction comics; good stuff.

I liked this Lucy Knisley comic about the Julie and Julia movie and the condescension critics have shown for young writers who publish online.

Finally, this Kieron Gillen/PJ Holden comic is really good. If Gillen did more of this stuff and less impenetrable music comics, I might read more of his stuff (I kid! He's done some good Thor comics, if I remember correctly).

New comics this week (Wednesday, 9/15/09):

Agents of Atlas #11

The Jeff Parker parade marches on, for now. I think the team fights the bad guys in this issue (there's an informative description). Dan Panosian and Gabriel Hardman on art. Rock.

Atomic Robo And The Shadow From Beyond Time #5

Have I mentioned that I like this comic? Of course, I haven't read the last couple issues, but what I did get to was pretty great. I imagine Robo is still fighting Lovecraftian monsters and whatnot. Fun!

Batman and Robin #4

And here's where I stop buying this series, at least for now (although I probably won't be able to pass it up when Cameron Stewart comes on board...), since Frank Quitely's arc is over and he's being replaced by Philip Tan. Ugh. I'm sure I'll be able to read all about it, and flip through it in the store to catch whatever "important" stuff I miss. See you later, Morrison; you gotta convince DC not to stick you with the bad artists.

Beasts of Burden #1

Did I mention that I was excited about this series? Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson continue writing about their group of dogs (and one cat) that fight the supernatural. The various short stories were awesome, and this four-issue miniseries looks pretty incredible as well. I urge everybody to buy it so they get to do more. Here's a short preview if you need any more convincing.

Citizen Rex #3

Gilbert (and Mario) Hernandez! I'm waiting for the collection, but I'll be antsy until I get to read it.

Dark Reign: The List: Daredevil: One Shot

I guess this is the kickoff of Andy Diggle's run on Daredevil, and it's not a very good way to gain interest, if you ask me. Not only is it a tie-in to the tiresome Marvel over-event, it's illustrated by Billy Tan (if it wasn't for Shaun Tan, I would think that surname signals comics awfulness). Yuck. Anyway, Daredevil fights Bullseye, which is supposed to be a big deal, even though this is what, their ninety-third battle? Yawn. Wake me when it's over.

Dark Wolverine #78

As much as I hate to say it, I'm curious about this book after reading Tucker Stone's description of it as the adventures of a metrosexual, hipster version of the character. And Guiseppe Camuncoli's art is probably pretty nice as well. So I might give it a look, but I'm still not wasting any money. Take that, comics!

Dominic Fortune #2

Howard Chaykin's old-school adventure continues. If this is anything like the first issue, I expect there will be lots of nudity, violence, and naughty language. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Ex Machina #45

Vaughan and Harris keep leaning towards that final issue. I need another collection; I miss reading this series.

Fables #88

Oh yeah, I still need to read that last collection. Soon, I expect. Anyway, it's still charging on, with a storyline about the various Fabletown witches, I believe. I'll read it eventually.

Invincible Iron Man #18

Matt Fraction's story keeps going, as Tony continues to get dumber, this time going all the way back to his clunky grey version of the armor. When will he end up as a drooling vegetable? That should make for some fun adventures.

MODOK: Reign Delay

Ooh, this is an out-of-nowhere book, and it looks like a fun one at that. Ryan Dunlavey, of Action Philosophers fame, makes his writing debut here, with a goofy-looking story about MODOK and whatever the hell is going on in the Marvel universe. I don't know if it's in-continuity or not, but I do know that I really shouldn't care; I expect hilarity and fun, and that's what matters. Don't let me down, Dunlavey!

Swordsmith Assassin #2

I reviewed the first issue of this Boom! series a while back, and it's not bad, about a samurai sword-maker seeking out all the swords he made in order to keep them from being used by evil people. We'll see if it keeps up the same level of gloomy action and honor, and maybe even gets better. Hope springs eternal.

Thor Annual #1

I haven't been reading these various Thor one-shots that Peter Milligan has written, but I am a fan of his, so I should try to do so more often. This one sees Thor exiled from Asgard and fighting some of the Egyptian gods. Cool. Art is by Mico Suayan and some others. Don't let me down, Milligan!

Ultimate Comics Armor Wars #1

Ah, the recycling of plotlines from old Marvel comics begins anew! Warren Ellis writes this one, and as you would expect, it's about Tony hunting down people who stole his designs. Art is by Steve Kurth, and I should have a review up at Comics Bulletin tomorrow.

Wednesday Comics #11

We're almost at the end now. One of the best moments of the series so far: Hawkman saying "Look what I can do!" That made me laugh. Oh, Kyle Baker, you incorrigible scamp! Also, Wonder Woman got tied up in her lasso, so Ben Caldwell is trying to keep the Marston spirit alive. Two more to go.

Alcoholic SC

Vertigo has this paperback version of the Jonathan Ames/Dean Haspiel book from last year, so maybe I'll finally get around to reading it. It's gotten mixed reviews, but I like Haspiel enough that I want to give it a try. To the library!

Bad Girls TP

I've never heard of this comic, but it apparently came out from DC back in 2003, and it's about super-powered teenagers or something. Mean Girls meets whatever superhero cliche you want to plug in? I dunno, I'm sick of that sort of thing, but I guess it's worth a mention. Notable for the Darwyn Cooke cover; it will look nice on the stands, at least.

Haunt of Horror TP

I think Marvel had previously only collected these Richard Corben comics into two overpriced hardcovers, so this paperback version should be nice to have. Of course, it's too expensive too, at $30 for six issues worth of material. Still, I'll give it a recommendation, because I love Corben. He adapted some Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft, and the text of all the original stories and poems is included. Good old Corben horror; check it out.

Johnny Boo HC Vol 03 Happy Apples

The third in James Kochalka's latest series, about a cute ghost and his little ghost pal. I haven't read any of these yet (although I did purchase the first volume recently), but Kochalka is always fun to read and full of cute, funny energy. This should be good; you know, for kids.

Life & Times of Martha Washington in the 21st Century HC

For those with deep pockets, Dark Horse has this collection of all the various stories by Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons, about a futuristic freedom fighter. Surprisingly, I haven't read any of these; I should really try to get to them. Not here though; $100 is too steep for me.

Locke & Key Volume 1 Head Games HC

People seem to like this series from IDW by Stephen King's son Joe Hill and artist Gabriel Rodriguez. I don't even know what it's about, but it's spooky horror, which can be enjoyable. Despite the "volume 1" in the title there, I guess this is the second collection of the series? Weird.

Marvel Comics In The 1960s SC

Not comics! This nonfiction book from TwoMorrows by Pierre Comtois is all about those heady days of inspiration and creativity at the dawn of the Marvel Age of Comics, or whatever people like to call it. I'm sure there are plenty of interesting stories from that era, as Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and company were pumping out groundbreaking work. This might be a book to hunt down and read, just to get that behind-the-scenes info.

Matriarch Vol 1 TP

Arcana has this superhero book by Robert Burke Richardson and Steven Yarbrough, and while I complain about the lack of new, interesting ideas in spandex-centered stories, this one seems like it's taking a path that I haven't seen explored before: that of the working mother. It's all about a lady hero who has to fight a bunch of villains in a single day while still balancing a job and kids. That could be interesting, or it could be lame, but it's got my attention, so that's something. You can read what appears to be the first 25 pages online, if you're interested.

Mr. Stuffins TPB

Boom!'s long-delayed story about a secret agent/bodyguard teddy bear gets collected. I never did read beyond the first chapter, but I did like that one, and now it's all in one volume, so here you go.

Supergirls Fashion Feminism Fantasy And The History Of Comic Book Heroines TP

Another one of them non-comic book type things, all about them strange beings that us dudes just can't understand, man. Mike Madrid writes this "alternative history" of comics, focusing on the female characters and what they say about society, or something. Maybe interesting? Or maybe kind of tiresome, an attempt to find feminist values in the fetishistic depictions of impossibly-proportioned women in revealing, skin-tight garb and ridiculous poses. I guess that would be interesting as well, or at least kind of humorous. I dunno, this whole thing seems kind of dubious to me, but maybe it's worth thinking about. Alternatively, we could try to move on from that same ridiculous superhero genre that has been infecting the medium for so damn long...

Tank Girl Remastered ED Volume 3 GN

More re-releases of Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett's raucous comic. I've still never very much of any of the series at all. That's something I need to remedy.

Tiffany's Epiphany HC

Image is putting out this kids' book by Kristen Koerner Simon and Jim Valentino, about a bunch of animals dealing with a bully of a skunk. At least, I hope it's a kids' book.

Tom Strong Deluxe ED HC Book 1

DC won't let Alan Moore's work rest; here's a new version of one of his ABC series, collecting the first 12 issues (I assume; there will be three volumes, and the series is 36 issues long) in a fancy, expensive format ($40). Pretty good comics here, even though it's not my favorite of Moore's work.

Vietnam War: A Graphic History HC

More nonfiction comics! Dwight Von Zimmerman, Wayne Vansant, and Chuck Horner bring this history comic to us from one of them mainstream book publishers (Macmillan). Comics are all growns-ed up now.

Fushigi Yugi VIZBIG Edition Vol 3 TP

The large, omnibus collections of Yuu Watase's fantasy series continue. I should try to read this.

Oishinbo A La Carte Vol 5 Vegetables TP

More food and father/son arguing. I like this series, and one of the good things about it is that you can grab any volume at random and not worry about being lost in the story. So if you haven't read any of it, this is as good a place to start as any. Of course, you might also want to look for a subject that appeals to you; since my wife is a vegetarian, maybe I should get this one for her.

Pluto Urasawa x Tezuka Vol 5 TP

Just when I'm about to catch up on this series, another volume comes out. I'll get to it soon enough, I hope. This series has been pretty damn great so far; Urasawa rules. And so does Tezuka, for that matter. Go fightin' robots! Don't cry too much though; we don't want emotions to get in the way of good action.

Unsophisticated And Rude GN

Well that doesn't sound like something I would want to read at all. WHOSE RESPONSIBLE THIS?

Usurper Of The Sun TP

Rather than manga, these are two more entries in Viz's line of translated novels, with the first being about aliens threatening the earth by building large structures in the solar system, and the second being a collection of sci-fi and horror stories by a popular author named Otsuichi. I wouldn't mind giving either one of them a go.

And I guess that's it for the week. I'm going to be on vacation for the next few days, but I've got some Kirby posts lined up, and maybe I'll be able to get to a computer and do something else; we'll see. I'll see everybody when I get back. Don't mess the place up too much.

Monday, August 10, 2009

This week, I'm trying to recover

Elsewhere: I joined Tim Callahan and Chad Nevett for this week's installment of The Splash Page on CBR to discuss Wednesday Comics #5. Fun!

Missed it: In Robot 6's roundup of San Diego news, they note that Kurt Busiek will have a new series coming from Wildstorm called Kurt Busiek's American Gothic, exploring American myths or something, but the cool part is that the art will be by Connor Willumsen, who I think is about to break out and become a big star in the comics world. He's pretty great, so this is one to watch out for.

Other links: Check out IDW's preview of the Act-I-Vate Primer. That book looks pretty great.

And speaking of comics you can read online, Dark Horse has posted the second Evan Dorkin/Jill Thompson Beasts of Burden story from the Dark Horse Book of... series. I can't wait for that series; it looks great.

And here's another interesting preview: Brandon Graham posts a bunch of pages from Marian Churchland's upcoming Beast.

New comics this week (Wednesday, 8/12/09):

Chronicles of Wormwood The Last Battle Preview

I liked the original Garth Ennis/Jacen Burrows series about the antichrist living on earth and doing his best to keep the apocalypse from happening, but the one-shot follow-up was kind of awful. This sequel series might be better; we'll see. Art this time around is by Oscar Jimenez. I was talking to Burrows at Wizard Chicago over the weekend, and he's kind of weirded out by Jimenez' work on the new book, since he's following Burrows' original designs, but with a much more realistic style. He thought that was pretty cool. So, yeah, this is only a preview and not the real book, but it's worth a mention.

DMZ #44

War in New York continues. I'm still behind. Ryan Kelly is still illustrating this arc, which I really need to see.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? #2

More wordy comics adapting Dick. I don't know if I'll be able to read this whole thing. What's the consensus here; is anybody buying the issues, or is it better to wait for it to be collected into a complete book?

Dominic Fortune #1

Howard Chaykin! I think Dominic Fortune is a Marvel character, but I don't now anything about him. This being a Marvel MAX book, Chaykin is going the "sex n' violence" route, with a WWII-era story about the character getting mixed up in a revolution in South America, or something like that. That's pretty cool.

Fables #87

I have no idea what's going on with this series, but I feel like I have to mention it each time a new issue comes out. I'll read it eventually.

Lockjaw and the pet Avengers #4 (of 4)

Those crazy critters finally face their foe. It's Thanos, of course. Eh, this thing isn't bad, but I haven't been blown away by it or anything. Maybe fun for kids? I dunno.

Marvel Divas #2

It's cancer-time! Yup, gotta have the breast cancer plot in a story about girlfriends. I was all right with the first issue, and who knows, this might end up being all right in the end, but it seems like an attempt to fill a niche that just isn't really there. Maybe fun for girls? Probably not.

Marvels Project #1

Here's the latest event thing about the importance of Marvel superheroes throughout history or something. I'm not sure if it ties into Marvels or is on its own, but it's noteworthy because it's by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting. I think it involves time travel, and probably something about the beginnings of the Marvel heroes. Maybe it won't be bad, but it could certainly end up being one of those nostalgiafests that annoy the crap out of me. Maybe fun for nerds? Yeah, probably. I should have a review up at Comics Bulletin tomorrow.

Red Herring #1

I had not been aware of this before now; it's a new miniseries from Wildstorm about a conspiracy theorist or something, by David Tischman and Philip Bond. I'm not so sure about Tischman, but Bond is a great artist, so it'll look nice, at least.

Starstruck #1

This is a classic European-style fantasy/sci-fi comic from Elaine Lee and Michael William Kaluta, back in print from IDW with new coloring. Jog's been talking this up for a while, so I'm pretty interested to check it out.

Ultimate Comics Avengers #1

I guess Ultimatum didn't completely burn down the Ultimate Marvel universe, because it's getting relaunched again already. Will it be any good? Well, Mark Millar is writing this series, and Carlos Pacheco is drawing at least the first storyline, so it might be all right. Millar has done some of the best Ultimate stuff, and The Ultimates was also some of the most enjoyable work of his career, so hopefully this will be pretty good. Of course, he might have to spend too much time picking up the pieces after Jeph Loeb's childish destruction, so we'll see how it goes.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1

And here's the other Ultimate relaunch, with Brian Michael Bendis still plugging away at the character that's been the source of some of his best work. Again, he's probably going to be stuck cleaning up Loeb's mess for a bit, but hopefully he'll get back on track soon. David Lafuente is the new artist, and he's got a nice, fun style, so (also) hopefully he'll be able to make Bendis' talkiness look good. I'm probably too optimistic about these things, but it helps that I'm not actually planning to buy them.

Unwritten #4

I like what I've seen of this series, so it's one that I'll try to read when it gets collected. That scene from the previous issue (I think) in which the various horror writers were sniping at each other? Funny stuff.

Wednesday Comics #6

Yes, this is good stuff. Watch for a special appearance by me elsewhere discussing last week's issue; I'll link to it when it's up. As of this week, I'm loving Kamandi the most, but also enjoying Batman, Deadman, Hawkman, and Strange Adventures a whole bunch, having a good time with Flash, Sgt. Rock, Supergirl, and Wonder Woman, tolerating Metal Men, and hating Teen Titans and Superman. Is that everything? I'm getting old and forgetful, so I probably missed something.

10 Beautiful Assassins Vol 1 GN

I don't know about this. From Seven Seas, this seems to be a goofy action comic about a virginal master thief who is awesome at his job but gets befuddled around beautiful women (only beautiful ones? Even the homely ones should get the hormones racing). It's manga-style, and maybe enjoyable, although it seems to be done right-to-left, which I always find to be pointless and annoying in English-language comics. It looks like it was also a webcomic (or at least has a lengthy preview available), and you can read it online here.

Batman Hush Complete TPB

Oh yes, I'm sure this is something every Batman fan will have to have. Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee doing a nonsensical story about some new villain screwing with Batman and other lame shit going on. I read it a while back, and it's actually not bad for a big, dumb comic that manages to cram in every villain and guest star possible, but it's by no means great comics. And now it's available in one big book! Enjoy, losers.

Charlatan Ball TPB

Here, get this instead. Joe Casey and Andy Suriano bring the Kirby-style craziness in a story about a magician getting transported to a series of magical worlds and forced to compete in some sort of magical tournament even though he doesn't actually have any magical powers. It's insane, full of nutty characters and bizarre settings, moving with breakneck speed and using plenty of weird language. Between this and Godland, Casey seems to me to be the best heir to Kirby, coming up with wild ideas and putting his own spin on them rather than just trotting Kirby's characters (or analogues thereof) out for another go-round. I'm not sure if I understand this series completely, but I have a blast reading it; it's the kind of thing that gets me excited about comics, because I have no idea what's going to happen next. Plus, the art is really good too; I hope a second volume follows soon.

Fables Vol 12 The Dark Ages TPB

Ooh, this is always exciting. A new volume of Fables means I can finally start to get caught up on what is going on; hopefully the "Great Fables Crossover" collection won't take to long to come out either. I never know if I'm being objective when reading these, or if I've become a fan blinded to any faults. I do like reading the series though.

Geronimo Stilton GN Vol 01 Discovery of America
Geronimo Stilton GN Vol 02 Secret O/T Sphinx

I was not aware of this children's book series (which is an import from Italy, I think), but it's apparently about a mouse journalist and his time-traveling adventures, which sounds like fun. Although the books are credited to Stilton himself, the actual authors of the graphic novel versions are Luca Crippa, Maurizio Onnis, Demetrio Bargellini, and Gianluigi Fungo, with the original books written by Elisabetta Dami. Neat?

Old Man Winter & Other Sordid Tales GN

I've heard about this Xeric-winning collection of J.T. Yost's short stories here and there, and it sounds quite good. I'll have to check it out if I get the chance. Here, Sandy Bilus has a review.

Punisher War Zone TPB

This Garth Ennis/Steve Dillon reunion on the "funny" style of the Punisher was pretty damn enjoyable, full of gross violence and other such nastiness. And now it's collected, in case you missed it when it was coming out. Here, I reviewed the first, second, third, and fifth issues, so you can see what I really thought if you want.

Runaways Pride & Joy TPB

I think this is the trade paperback version of the first collection of the first volume of the series. It originally came out in a digest format, then more recently in a hardcover format, and now in a softcover. I guess. My choice would be the digest, or the thick hardcover that collects the entire first volume, but this works if you want to read the series, I suppose. It's good stuff; Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona have kids romp through the Marvel universe trying to do superhero-y stuff without getting caught up in the whole business of whatever is going on with the rest of the heroes. I give it my recommendation if you've never read it before.

Sandman By Joe Simon and Jack Kirby HC

Ooh, it's more of those Simon/Kirby reprints, collecting some golden age stuff they did in the 1940s. Me, I'm more interested in the later Kirby stuff, but I'll read anything by him that I can get my hands on. I bet this is rather interesting. I think the pair reunited on the character in the 70s, but that run isn't considered to be all that good. Anyway: Kirby! Yes!

Some New Kind Of Slaughter HC

I did not read this series from A. David Lewis and mpMann about flood myths around the world, but it sounded interesting. Of course, so did their previous book, The Lone and Level Sands, and I kind of hated that one. I'm always generous with the second chances though, so this might be worth checking out.

Universal War One Prem HC Revelations

Eurocomics from Marvel; I believe this is the second volume of their version of this series. I only read the first issue of the first volume, and thought it was pretty good. Maybe I'll get around to reading the rest of the series someday.

Vampire Dance GN

This is one of those Italian books that Dark Horse is releasing in the U.S., about vampires fighting neo-Nazis and shit. It's by Sergio Bleda, and it looks kinda neat, with some nice black and white artwork. Here's a short preview.

X-Men First Class TPB Finals GN

The end of Jeff Parker's run on the fan-favorite book about the early days of the X-Men; I read it, and it's pretty decent, although not really my sort of thing. The Colleen Coover-illustrated stories are pretty great though; too bad the whole book isn't like that.

Art Of Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea TP

Viz has this artbook of stuff from Hayao Miyazaki's latest movie. Hey, here's the story of my attempted viewing of the film: I went to the screening, but halfway through the movie, one of the reels was spliced in backward, so the movie suddenly started playing backward and upside down, with people walking backward and speaking in reverse. It was pretty ridiculous. Professional! So, yeah, the first half was pretty great, but I don't know how it turned out. I think they're redoing the screening next week, so I should be able to see it then. Good times!

Dogs Bullets & Carnage Vol 1 TP

Futuristic assassins! This book starts the series proper, after the introductory volume 0, which I liked when I read it. I'll have to check this one out if I get the chance.

Ikigami Ultimate Limit GN Vol 02

I also liked this manga about people dying by order of the government. I have this volume sitting on my review pile at home, so hopefully I'll get to it soon.

Oishinbo GN Vol 04 Fish Sushi & Sashimi

This might already be out, since I mentioned it a couple weeks ago in one of these posts, but my local shop has it on their release list, so I figure it's worth mentioning again. I'm in the process of reading it right now, so expect a review soon. In the meantime, here's what I thought of the sake volume. This series is fun.

Wow, that's everything, which seems like a small week. That's fine, I've got a lot to catch up on. More content coming, as I always promise.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Wizard Chicago 2009: Sketches, and the sketching thereof

I may have bitched about some of the more unsavory bits of Wizard's show this year, but I was able to meet with plenty of creators that I like and either have them sign books or contribute to my Groo sketchbook. Here's the notable ones:

Tim Sievert drew a cool, detailed image in his book That Salty Air:

Jeffrey Brown did a funny Bighead picture inside Sulk #1:

And a cute kitty inside Cat Getting Out of a Bag:

And speaking of cute kitties, Jill Thompson drew these pictures of Scratches in two volumes of Magic Trixie:

Geof Darrow did this one in the back of Hard Boiled:

As for the Groo sketchbook (previous entries from which can be seen here), I got some great entries, including this one by Gabriel Bautista:

Tim Sievert appears to be continuing a fish theme (and going crazy with the detail and motion:

Kevin Cannon does funny:

Jeffrey Brown also does funny, taking the scatological angle:

David Petersen goes for the barbarian look:

And Jill Thompson does classic Groo, a not-bad imitation of Sergio Aragones himself:

I love seeing creators work like this; in some cases, I stood and watched people draw just to get a look at their style and technique. It never fails to amaze me, since I'm a pretty terribly drawer myself. That's one of those really cool things about conventions, and it redeems even a somewhat poor experience. Yay, comics!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Wizard Chicago 2009: Oh, comics, why do you test me

After seeing some of the heights of the comics medium at MoCCA 2009, the view of the industry/medium/genre from a mainstream standpoint at Chicago's least-exclusive convention is enough to make one come crashing back down to earth. As seemed to be the trend with any talk about the San Diego Comic-Con, comics themselves seem to be an afterthought here, with more space and attention devoted to wrestlers, models, actors, and toys than to the art form that gives the convention its name. It was even more so than in years past, since both Marvel and DC didn't bother to show up (outside of some panels), and neither did most of the smaller publishers like Image, Dark Horse, or Oni Press; the only publishers that seemed to have any presence were Top Shelf, Avatar, and Ape Entertainment. Instead, visitors were greeted with booth upon booth bearing these sorts of wares:

Why?! Who comes to a comics convention to check out swords, real or otherwise? It's a shame, and it's ridiculous to have to search to find any actual comics content. The retailer section wasn't quite so terrible, but while some might want to hunt through back issue bins to find that one silver age book missing from their collection, there wasn't much in a good third of the floor that you couldn't find at your local comic shop. Some might come to a convention for that sort of thing, but not me.

No, I'm more interested in immersing myself in comics, meeting creators and discussing their art, and hopefully discovering new talents. That wasn't a totally fruitless pursuit, but even the artists' alley section of the convention was littered with either low-quality amateurishness or table after table full of pin-up art, usually of the embarassing type that mostly consists of superheroines in various states of undress. It's painful to witness; is this what gets comics fans excited? Do I really want to be part of that sort of idiocy?

But in between the wanna-bes and wankers, real artists lurked, and it's always good to talk to them about their craft, discuss what projects they have coming up, and look at the often staggering piles of original art to really discover the nuances of their work. Nathan Fox is one such artist; his originals are amazing to witness, seemingly twice the size of a regular comics art page. No wonder he can really pack in the details. He mentioned a few upcoming projects that sound really exciting, including a graphic novel published by Scholastic called Dogs of War that's a historical story about soldiers working with dogs in World War I and II and Vietnam. Unfortunately, it won't be coming out until 2011, but it will certainly be one to look for. He's also hoping to be able to get to a graphic novel that he's collaborating on with Joe Casey; they were planning it when they got the opportunity to do Dark Reign: Zodiac, and opted for the paying work.

David Petersen, creator of Mouse Guard, talked about his plans for future installments of his popular series; next up is The Black Axe, which delves into the past to explore the history of one character. That will be followed by The Weasel War, another prequel. And then he will return to the "present", but take a leap forward in time to a point a bit after Winter 1152 wrapped up, hoping to have readers work to catch up with what is going on with the characters. It sounds like a good amount of material to look forward to.

Other creators had some interesting tidbits of information, including Katie Cook, who will be working on a licensed Jim Henson project for Archaia, although since it had not been officially announced, she was not at liberty to state whether it would be Fraggle Rock, Labyrinth, or The Dark Crystal (my guess is the latter). Mike Allred noted that he's trying to make Eugene, Oregon famous in the upcoming Vertigo series I, Zombie. Jill Thompson will probably be doing another Scary Godmother comic after Beasts of Burden is finished (the preview pages she had of the first issue are just gorgeous). Phil Hester is excited about his upcoming series The Anchor, which is illustrated by Brian Churilla. And there were probably plenty of other notable encounters, proving that there was good content to be had at the con, if you knew where to look.

On the "new discoveries" front, the find of the show has to be Jeff Wamester, an artist who seems to be bursting with talent and ideas. His most notable work is probably WMD, as soon-to-begin webcomic with plenty of sci-fi trappings, but he has a few other projects that are going to be coming soon from his small publishing company. Looking through the work he had on display, he's definitely a creator that will be a big name and a sought-after talent very soon.

Scott Dillon and Mitch Gerads of Pop Gun Pulp were another source of exciting work; their book Johnny Recon looks like a nice bit of pulp sci-fi action, with some pretty amazingly dynamic art from Gerads. This looks to be another book that should gain some notice, if all is right with the world.

Brittany Sabo seems like another notable talent; she mostly had minicomics on display, but she and her collaborator A. Bratton have recently released a book called Francis Sharp in the Grip of the Uncanny, and she also contributed to the Big Funny project. Sabo's work seems more like what was on display at MoCCA, rather than the superhero-wannabe material that was inescapable here. It was quite refreshing to see a nice, simple bit of design and character; if all goes right, Sabo will be another talent on the indie comics scene soon.

And there were quite a few other indie cartoonists and webcomics makers on the scene, including Serena Guerra; Gabriel Bautista and the Pulpo crew; Agnes Garbowska, who is doing a kids' zombie book called You, Me, and Zombie; Len Kody, whose webcomic Chicago 1968 is about the infamous Democratic Convention; and at least one of the creators from Saint James Comics. And maybe a few others, but really, the pickings were pretty slim. You wouldn't necessarily think so if you saw the pile of stuff I came home with though:

Maybe it's the continued encroachment of Hollywood and other media on comicdom, or maybe Wizard's state of instability is scaring away the real talent, but this year's con seemed to be kind of a downer. Maybe a smaller show like the Windy City Comicon will be a good place for the focus to return to comics and talent to flourish, or perhaps next year's C2E2 will manage to get a good comics show to return to the city, but for right now Wizard, despite its highlights, is looking pretty avoidable. Any chance to interact with creators is welcome though, so I'll take what I can get.

I'll have some reviews of stuff I got at the con in the next day or two, along with scans of sketches (including additions to my Groo sketchbook), and there should be some pictures up on Facebook too; I'll throw up a link when I've posted them (UPDATE: Here they are). And then it's back to normal around here, hopefully; I've still got a lot to catch up on. Oy.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Magic Trixie and the Dragon: If I didn't already have a daughter, I would want to adopt this little girl

I'm a nerd:

Magic Trixie and the Dragon
By Jill Thompson

It might be odd that I find myself so charmed by a grade-school-age magical girl and her heartwarming adventures in lesson-learning, but I don't care. With Magic Trixie, Jill Thompson has created a fun, energetic, and oh-so-cute little girl that is simply a delight to spend time with, at least in book form; in real life, she would probably be exhausting. But that's the charm of this kind of fiction, and each new book in the series finds new ways to endear her to us.

Yes, it's more of the same type of simple lessons this time out, with Magic Trixie learning to appreciate the good things she has at home instead of lusting after the impossible. It's kind of similar to the morals in both of the previous two volumes (which could be boiled down, respectively, to "younger siblings aren't all that bad" and "there's no place like home"), but slightly different. Here, the object of Magic Trixie's affection is a dragon, with the yearning kicked into high gear after a visit to the circus and the viewing of a high-flying, fire-breathing, scaly monster act. It's a love affair that bears a lot of similarities to the stereotypical young girl begging for a pony, and this leaves poor kittycat pal Scratches in the lurch, feeling inadequate as a companion:

And surprisingly, considering that the previous books were limited mostly to low-key uses of magic, this adventure is much more adventurous. The simple task of transmogrifying baby sister Abby Cadabra's dirty diapers leads to an accidental transformation of Abby herself into an actual dragon when Magic Trixie's mind wanders during spellcasting, and the rest of the story consists of attempts to hide the results and clean up after the inevitable mess, not to mention reuniting with Scratches after he up and leaves when he thinks he has been replaced. It's fast-paced and exciting, with lots of pages of frenzied motion and horrified reactions, all culminating in a high-flying escape that is simultaneously scary and thrilling.

It's great stuff, of course, and as always, Thompson's sumptuous art is what brings everything to colorful, thriving life. No, more than that; it leaps off the page and drags the reader right into the story; you feel like you're part of Magic Trixie's crazy world. The range of emotions that our little witch displays is expansive, from complete and total awe at the sight of cavorting dragons:

To frustration and despair when she accidentally makes her friends think she owns one:

And check out the contrast between the skinny-limbed child and the adults she encounters like the gentleman above; they feature mostly-realistic anatomy, but don't seem out of place next to her cartooniness. And the details that Thompson packs into the panels really helps to bring the story to life; check out Magic Trixie's parents trying to enjoy a simple evening around the house while being constantly interrupted by frantic implorations:

Or the way Magic Trixie's dad reacts to Grandma Mimi's gift of fashionable accessories:

And there's plenty more, like the Evel Knievel-style performance garb of cousin Tansy's dragon-rider boyfriend (sorry, Caleb), Mimi's multi-broomed carriage-esque conveyance, or all the distinctive people and sights around the circus. The title character definitely gets the most panel time, but the way everyone and everything around her comes to life along with her makes the whole book just sing with energy and exuberance. It's one of the best comics reading experiences out there, even for those of us who are far, far out of the ideal age group. Let's hope Thompson doesn't quit crafting these beautiful books anytime soon.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Today's post of randomness

No big content to crow about here, just a collection of links and thoughts and whatnot:

Looks like Fantagraphics is running a weekly Blecky Yuckarella strip by Johnny Ryan. Fun!

I mentioned one or two things that were announced at NYCC that interested me, and it looks like there were several others of note, mostly gathered in this post at Robot 6. For one, Dark Horse's Noir anthology of crime comics looks really cool; it seems like crime comics are on the rise, and since that' a genre that I'm coming to enjoy quite a bit, that makes me happy. Announced creators on the series include Brian Azzarello, Ed Brubaker, Rick Geary, Jeff Lemire, Sean Phillips, Fabio Moon, Gabriel Ba, and several others. Coming this September. Awesome.

Also cool from Dark Horse: a miniseries by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson called Beasts of Burden that functions as a sequel to their short stories in the Dark Horse Book Of... series. I think I've only read one of those, but I thought it was great and wanted to read more (did Dark Horse ever release a collection of just those stories? I thought they were going to), so this sounds pretty sweet. Here's an interview with Dorkin at CBR which contains some really nice-looking artwork. Man, I love Jill Thompson. Coming in August.

I'm not sure what to think about a new Alias miniseries from original creators Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos. That series is one that I love (although I should probably try to revisit it and see how well it holds up), but since it ended, Bendis seems to have done his best to destroy everything that made the Jessica Jones character interesting. Even the later issues of The Pulse, which also featured Gaydos on art, were agressively boring; I remember one that featured Jessica talking with Sue Storm about motherhood that nearly made me fall asleep. That, more than anything involving the Avengers or Houses of Ms or Secret Invasions, is where I started to sour on Bendis. I suppose he might have something interesting up his sleeve, but I kind of doubt this new thing will be much more than the usual "hang around with Luke Cage and discuss parenthood" story that Bendis seems to want to do with the character these days. Who knows, I'll see.

Oh, I should also mention that Viz is releasing Taiyo Matsumoto's GoGo Monster. And also Inio Asano's What a Wonderful World! Hells yeah.

And on a completely different note, I watched the movie adaptation of Wanted last night, and holy crap was it dumb. It made me long for the subtlety and nuance of Mark Millar's writing on the original series. And other than a few nifty visual ideas, it was pretty boring, filing all the rough edges off Millar's script to turn a misanthropic story about a world where supervillains won into a lame thing about assassins, because they are more likeable, I guess. James McAvoy was annoying (although I thought he did a pretty good American accent), and the plot was soooo stupid, basing itself on unbelievable convolutions of logic (so they turned him into a super-killer in order to get him to kill his father, and never expected that he might come back and use all his awesome powers on them?). Just...ugh. It did almost redeem itself at points through some cool visuals (I liked a shot in which we saw a train car fall down into a deep gorge and wedge itself between the walls, with the "camera" then swooping down until we could see the car from below; sure, it was all done in computers, but it was a nice bit of virtual camerawork) and ridiculous action ideas like guys shooting each other's bullets out of the air. And a lengthy bit in which McAvoy stormed through a factory shooting guys was pretty cool, even up through a bit in which he shot a guy in the eye, then stuck his gun in the eye-hole and kept shooting out the back of his head. That's the kind of over-the-top action I can get behind. But too much idiocy surrounded it, dragging the movie from "so bad it's good" to "just plain bad". Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Also: googling "Wesley Gibson" brings up no results? I could understand if his name was something made up, like Namchar Harkback, but isn't Wesley Gibson common enough of a name that something would pop up? That's the most unbelievable thing in the movie, which is saying something.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Magic Trixie Sleeps Over: In my heart!

I think I used up all my queued linkages in the post I did earlier today, so on with the real content!

Magic Trixie Sleeps Over
By Jill Thompson

There's one word to describe Jill Thompson's Magic series of kids' books about a young witch, and that is adorable. Actually, there are plenty of other good descriptors, most of which will probably come up below, but that one is first and foremost. It fits everything about the book, from the rambunctious central character and everyone surrounding her; to the bright, colorful, exciting setting; to the organic lesson-teaching of the stories. Sure, it's meant for younger readers, but I find myself inexorably drawn into its maw of cuteness.

Last time, Magic Trixie realized how neat it is to have a younger sibling, and this installment sees her learn a similar lesson when she gets sick of her bedtime routine of bath-taking and tooth-brushing and decides to sleep over at each of her friends' houses. But having monstrous natures themselves, their own nighttime activities confound Magic Trixie, and she soon learns that maybe her own life isn't so bad after all.

The fun here is in the details; each of the friends have their own quirks and weirdnesses, and they rarely suit Magic Trixie's tastes. Her werewolf friend Loupie likes to tear around playing catch, run with her family (or "the pack"), and howl at the moon. Mummy princess Nefi sleeps in a crypt. Frankensteinian boy Stitch disassembles his body and sleeps in formaldehyde-filled jars. And so on; none of this compares to a warm bed and a story read by parents. It all seems so obvious, but kids gotta learn somehow.

And of course, the art is what really sells it; Thompson's detail-filled drawings and rich, lush watercolors give a gorgeous life to Magic Trixie's wacky world, whether in the beautiful landscapes:

Or the manic scenes of our heroine's witchity antics:

I love the sense of movement that she brings to the page, whether characters are rushing around with streaky speed lines behind them or simply suggesting a bunch of chaotic motion, as in the image above. And Trixie herself is a wonder to behold, like a little ball of energy, usually sporting wide eyes and a big, gap-toothed grin, and always surrounded by her mane of curly, orange-pink hair. I love the way her limbs bend like strands of spaghetti, but not unnaturally, but rather in a way that emphasizes her childlike nature:

And rather than always wearing the exact same witch costume, she has a variety of unique ensembles that all still manage to capture the spooky-cute nature of her character. It's a great design, and along with everything else in the book, it makes for enormously fun reading.

So, this probably isn't a surprise, but I highly recommend this book, at least as much as the first volume. Thompson is an incredible artist, and she has put together a great bit of kids' comics the imparts the obligatory lesson in a fun, engaging manner and is a blast to read. I hope the series continues into perpetuity.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Magic Trixie: If future volumes introduce a character named Warren Peace, I want credit

Taking a break from the nigh-pointless proliferation of news about comics which might be seen sometime in the wispy mists of the future, here's a good, solid book that you can find right now:

Magic Trixie
By Jill Thompson

It's no secret that Jill Thompson is quite a good artist, since she's been slaving away, producing excellent work for quite some time now, but the beautifully-watercolored comics she's been making in the last few years have been simply wonderful, especially her story in Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall and the collaborations she worked on with Evan Dorkin for the Dark Horse Book of... series. And she may have done her best work yet in the new children's comic Magic Trixie, a cute story about a little witch girl, who, like several other Thompson-illustrated characters (see examples here) just happens to resemble Thompson herself:

Magic Trixie (who is always referred to by her two-word name, for maximum punnery) is a cute (expect to see that word used a lot here) little girl who happens to have magic abilities, along with all the other members of her family. She goes to school along with several other monstrous children, including Stitch, a Frankensteinian monster, Loupie Garou, a werewolf girl, Nefi, a mummy princess, and The Twins, a pair of young vampires. In this volume, she worries about what to bring for show-and-tell and has trouble coming to terms with the attention everybody pays to her baby sister, Abby Cadabra.

While Thompson's exquisite artwork might hide the fact at first, the book is really aimed at young kids, probably around the age of five or six. There aren't any Harry Potter-style grand adventures here; it's more of a children's storybook plot about learning how cool it is to be an older sibling. You see, poor Magic Trixie is always being told she's too young to do grown-up stuff like fly brooms without training wheels or cook up potions in the cauldron, but Abby Cadabra somehow ends up getting to use all those grown-up things even though she is just a baby:

This sentiment gets repeated several times, as does the eventual lesson Magic Trixie learns, and it's a good one for kids who feel neglected or less important when everybody is focused on the new addition to the family.

But the nice thing is, the main plot doesn't kick in until about halfway through the book; that initial portion is dedicated to setting up the world, and Thompson does a beautiful job at it. Magic Trixie gets introduced early as a super-expressive ball of energy, seemingly always in motion, and usually making plenty of noise and causing lots of commotion:

She's also accompanied by her cute little talking black cat, Scratches, in a touch reminiscent of Kiki's Delivery Service. Scratches makes a nice foil for Magic Trixie, accompanying her on her various exploits, offering encouragement when she needs it, and just playing around and having fun with her:

Come on, who can resist a cute kitty dressed up as a pirate?

Magic Trixie's world is wonderfully fleshed out and detailed as well, with tons of little jokes and flourishes filling the corners of the panels (I love that the kids attend a Monsterssori School). And the watercolors that give everything such depth and texture are just beautiful:

It's a great little book that kids will probably want to devour again and again. And Thompson isn't quitting yet; she already has a follow-up volume, Magic Trixie Sleeps Over, scheduled to appear this fall. For fans of all-ages books, this is the current one to get, and as for me, I can't wait to be able to read it to my own daughter in a few years' time.