SPLASH PAGE (noun) - Often the first page of a comic, it is generally a full page image designed to introduce the story and draw readers in.
SDCC 2018 COMIC ANNOUNCEMENTS!
As a poor, Midwestern grad student, popping into the San Diego Comic-Con wasn't really an option this year. In lieu of first-hand reporting, I did want to point readers in the direction of some of the bigger comic book news to come out of the event (and just prior).
Mini-Review(s) - Aquaman and Shazam! Trailers
I initially had no interest in seeing either of these films. Don't get me wrong, I'm a comic nerd and I would have seen them regardless, but it would have been out of a sense of duty and/or idle curiosity more than anything else. Both trailers, for different reasons, managed to change that. Jason Mamoa's Aquaman is still the dude bro approach that is...whatever. But the visual spectacle on display, the inventiveness of the underwater battles, and what looks like a solid enough story at its heart has me genuinely interested in checking it out.
Shazam! hits an entirely different button - nostalgia. Not so much for the character, as I didn't really grow up reading Captain Marvel comics. Instead it's a nostalgia for 80's body-swapping comedies - particularly Big (1988) - that make this look like a fun couple of hours at the movies. Zachary Levi looks like he's having fun, and I'm sure there'll be a decent amount of superhero movie standard f/x and punching of things (which I'm fine with), but I'm also hoping for the same genre-mashup approach that made something like Spider-Man: Homecoming so great.
Comic Review: My Favorite Thing is Monsters (2017)
Writer/Artist: Emil Ferris
Genre: Coming-of Age, Mystery, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
In a Nutshell:
A mysterious woman is found dead in her apartment in Chicago in the late 1960s, and her monster-obsessed young neighbor, Karen Reyes (age 10) is determined to get to the bottom of what happened. What she discovers is a complicated past that began in the early days of Nazi Germany. Did Anka's past finally catch up to her?
It's rare that the opening pages alone of a comic will grab me, but My Favorite Thing is Monsters is one of those rare exceptions. The style and voice used by Ferris is so unlike anything else in comics, and so assuredly handled, that you know immediately you're in for something special. The formal conceit of the novel is that you're reading the illustrated journal of 10 year old Karen Reyes, completed on lined notebook paper using pens and colored pencils. While this could have been nothing more than a gimmick, Ferris manages to have it expand the scope of the story beyond the mystery. The result, ranging from recreations and reimaginings of everything from monster magazine covers to fine art pieces, also uses the medium and visuals to inform character in a way that I haven't seen before.
The caveat to this approach is that it makes Monsters a dense, and at times challenging, read that might make it overwhelmingly difficult for novice comic readers to navigate. Most of the pages eschew anything like a traditional grid and delineated panel borders, and instead use full one and two page montages and single images and shifting art styles. If you're willing to put in the work, the experience is highly engaging and rewarding, immersing the reader in the narrative.
Click Image for Slideshow
The mystery itself is also well-constructed and told, utilizing both the normal progressive discovery of new information and clues, as well as the limited perspective of the protagonist attempting to fully understand the complexities of the various social, sexual, and emotional relationships at its core. There are issues of race, class, and geopolitics that the various characters, including the victim, are struggling with, which complicate the motivations of the suspects. At the same time, Karen herself is at an age where she's encountering many of these challenges for the first time and trying to work through them, herself.
Fair warning (particularly as I didn't realize this myself at first) - this is the first of two parts, so the ending (which I won't spoil here) may seem a bit abrupt. The second volume is due out in September, and if you're like me you'll be anxiously awaiting the second volume as soon as you finish this one. I look forward to seeing where the rest of the story goes, but even more I look forward to spending more time in the world Emil Ferris has created.
Detroit Institute of Arts Family Comic Book Day
Saturday, August 4 - Sunday, August 5
12 p.m. - 3 p.m.
Marvel's Black Panther with Author & Speaker Todd Steven Burroughs at the Charles H. Wright Museum
Saturday, August 4
Metro Detroit Comic Shops
(click the image to find a shop near you)