Graphic Novel Round-up: Incomparable
Monday, January 19, 2009
Switchblade Honey and 50 Reasons to Stop Sketching at Conventions, as well as some suggestions on paired reading or viewing for both.
Switchblade Honey (Warren Ellis / Brandon McKinney): Switchblade Honey is one of the most enjoyable, accessible outputs from Avatar Press. This short, black and white, one-off graphic novel tells the straight-forward story of a spaceship filled with outcasts.
The Switchblade Honey is humanity's last hope, due to its unusual technology and more unusual commanding officers. The human race is in serious trouble - apparently mankind's hubris pissed off an overwhelming alien power, and is now almost entirely wiped out. (Worth noting that people don't say 'frak', and there are no wildly hallucinogenic sequences about the nature of God.)
The normal Ellisinian touches are on display - inventive use of technology, catchy dialogue and inspiring, cinematic monologues, a few explosions and an aggressive distaste of authority. McKinney is a good partner - the art is appropriately reminiscent of the simpler days of space-faring comics, except in this case, the crew are more likely to be kicking someone in the balls or shotgunning a beer.
Paired viewing: Battlestar Galactica, for another take on the overall plot, but there's a bit of Firefly in the crew interactions as well.
50 Reasons to Stop Sketching at Conventions (Stuart Immonen): Immonen's pocket-sized graphic novel was based on a series of webcomics that he wrote about his (true) experiences with difficult fans comic conventions all over the world. Although I've only been to a few, many of Immonen's quick stories ring true. I'm a huge fan of Immonen's characteristic style - his seemingly-simple sketches are surprisingly good at expressing a wide range of emotional nuance.
Immonen is quick to point out in his introduction that he loves meeting his readers, and most of them have been generous and kind. I'm certainly appreciative of his experiences - and extremely sorry that some bad eggs have made things difficult for him. However, I think it is important that convention guests (the 'signers') remain sympathetic as well. Although all fifty reasons are quite funny - and my heart goes out to Immonen - I do feel he's skirting dangerous territory by cataloging the sins of fans.
Paired reading: Harlan Ellison's Xenogenesis. Ellison's collection of anecdotes about horrific fan behaviour is a must-read anyway for anyone attending a convention for any reason. It provides an interesting contrast in style as well. Immonen also illustrates his own flaws, and seemingly laughs most of it off. Ellison, however, does not.