Book Review: ‘The Art of Red Sonja, Vol. 2’ by Various

Where the first volume in The Art of Red Sonja covered a lot of her earliest stuff, this one focuses more on her modern covers since she’s been at Dynamite Entertainment.

While I’d say that this one didn’t captivate me as much as the first volume, the vast majority of the artwork featured here is still great and worthy of being collected into this second book.

I’m a current reader of all the current Red Sonja titles and this book actually makes me wish that Dynamite was still doing covers with the quality of these earlier Red Sonja issues.

That’s not to knock the current art but the stuff featured in this book is much better and more reminiscent of the old Spanish and Italian pulp paintings from half a century ago. The art on many of the covers in this book remind me of the superb art from the Warren Publishing era of Vampirella.

There is also a lot of art pieces that are done in a more modern style but it’s the classic looking stuff that really pops off of the page. And frankly, sword and sorcery artwork, at least the covers, should look and feel like the art decorating the old van of the town metalhead.

Some of the pieces also look like pop art, manga or like Disney run amok. Those styles aren’t really my favorite for this character but it’s neat seeing them alongside some of the more traditional art pieces.

While not as solid, overall, as the first volume in this art book series, this one is still worth checking out if you enjoy Red Sonja or fantasy pulp art.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other art books put out by Dynamite Entertainment that features the history of the characters they publish.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe: Sierra Muerte

Published: August 28th, 2019
Written by: Michel Fiffe
Art by: Michel Fiffe
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

IDW Publishing, 107 Pages

Review:

I remember when this book was coming out, people online were trashing the art. I thought that some of the people behind the comments just didn’t know who Michel Fiffe was and hadn’t seen his work elsewhere but honestly, I can’t say that the criticisms were wrong.

You see, this is a G.I. Joe comic book. It is a licensed property that IDW Publishing pays a lot of money for in order to create content for the Hasbro owned toy brand in the comic book medium. This is the most important factor in why my criticism of this miniseries is about to turn really f’n harsh.

To put it bluntly, Fiffe’s art style isn’t for everyone and that’s the real problem. It’s like IDW got an indie artist with a unique style and thought that this would somehow sell G.I. Joe comics. Well, G.I. Joe comics haven’t sold well in years, so I’m not sure what made IDW think that bringing in an artist with a non-traditional style would somehow appeal to more people than the few they’re actually selling these G.I. Joe books to.

If you are paying a lot of money for the rights to publish a brand you don’t own, don’t you want that brand to make you the most money as possible in order to get a return on your licensing fees, as well as making a boatload of profit? If the answer is “no”, then why the fuck are you a business? If the answer is “yes”, then why the fuck wouldn’t you put out a product tailored to appeal to the largest audience possible?

Furthermore, do you understand the G.I. Joe brand that you are paying all this money for? I’d say “no”, as your helping to kill it off permanently between this miniseries, Paul Allor’s current series and all that Aubrey Sitterson crap from two years ago. Hell, even the regular series that Larry Hama is still working on feels like it’s an afterthought and aimless, pointless schlock that’s so far removed from the spirit of the series, it can’t find its way back. But I don’t blame Hama, the dude’s been writing G.I. Joe for almost forty years.

Point being, this absolutely does not look the way a G.I. Joe comic book should look. Do you even know who the audience for this franchise is? Do you care? Or is everything you do a tax write-off since your company has been losing its ass for a few years now.

But none of this is to knock on Michel Fiffe’s personal art style. It’s just not the right style for a brand that is beloved by adults, many former veterans, that want their Joes to be badass and always look badass.

I should probably also mention that the story here felt rushed and wasn’t very coherent. This probably needed more than three issues to tell its story or it needed to be a smaller story without so many characters shoehorned into it.

I’m pretty sure IDW is mostly dead, at this point. Well, except for the money Marvel’s throwing them to keep them afloat and printing their D-level titles.

But if anyone from Hasbro is out there, what the fuck, guys? I want this brand to be as great as it once was and it has a rich enough mythos and backlog of stories and superb characters to always have something to say. I just wish the people that owned G.I. Joe gave a shit about it as much as the fans that still exist do.

Rating: 3/10
Pairs well with: other post-Chuck Dixon/Mike Costa era G.I. Joe comics put out by IDW i.e. the shitty ones.

Vids I Dig 172: Strip Panel Naked: Using 3D Space in 2D Comic Books

From Strip Panel Naked’s YouTube description: On this episode I look at how Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely and Jamie Grant build a constant approach to showing three-dimensional depth in their comic ‘We3’. Using a constant camera angle that shows off three levels of content, foreground, mid ground and background, in almost every panel. It also leans into that way to show certain movement, showing it not as lateral left to right movement and but as back to front movement. It aims to create a real sense of place and three-dimensional space.

Book Review: ‘The Art of Vampirella – The Warren Years’ by David Roach

I’ve been going through a lot of comic book art books lately and I’ve gotta say, this one has been my favorite out of the half dozen or so I’ve looked at this year. In fact, I read a friend’s copy and now I’ve got to buy my own.

What sets this apart is the art itself.

Overall, this follows the same format as other art books, especially those put out by Dynamite Entertainment. This is very similar to the other Vampirella ones, as well as the great Red Sonja books I’ve seen.

But again, the art here makes this stand out in front of the pack.

This is a must own simply because the covers from the Warren era of Vampirella are absolutely amazing!

I’ve been trying to collect a lot of the old Warren Vampirella issues, simply because of how great the covers are but with this book, you can own the lot and look through them in one volume whenever you feel like it.

Warren Publishing hired a slew of super talented artists to do these covers and honestly, this is some of the best fantasy, horror and sword and sorcery art pieces ever put to canvas.

It’s the art that got me into comic books to begin with. It’s also my favorite artistic medium. Since this features some of the best covers ever created for comic magazines, why wouldn’t I buy this and cherish it for years to come?

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: other art books put out by Dynamite Entertainment that features the history of the characters they publish.

Comic Review: Mars Attacks Judge Dredd

Published: February 12th, 2014
Written by: Al Ewing
Art by: John McCrea, Greg Staples
Based on: Judge Dredd by John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra and Pat Mills, Mrs Attacks! by Topps

IDW Publishing, 104 Pages

Review:

I feel like I’ve been suffering from crossover burnout but this one was at least amusing and I found it to be better than a lot of the other ones I’ve read lately.

The tone kind of took me off guard and I was annoyed by all the weird mafioso shit that started the story, as it featured characters that were poor knockoffs of Dick Tracy‘s gimmicky villains.

However, once Judge Dredd got on the scene, as well as the Martians, things picked up and this had a good, comedic vibe.

This certainly isn’t a must read for fans of either (or both) franchises but it’s not a total waste and it’s at least as entertaining as it can be.

Al Ewing wrote this and he’s become a top dog in the comics industry after his work on The Immortal Hulk but if I’m being honest, this pales in comparison to his more recent work. But in his defense, this wasn’t written in any way that should be taken too seriously.

This is short and it’s a quick and easy read. It’s violent, humorous and a decent way to kill a half hour.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: other comics or crossovers featuring Mars Attacks! or Judge Dredd.

Comic Review: Plan 9 From Outer Space Strikes Again!

Published: May 6th, 2009
Written by: Darren Davis, Chad Helder
Art by: Giovanni Timpano
Based on: Plan 9 From Outer Space by Ed Wood

TidalWave Productions, BlueWater Comics, 29 Pages

Review:

Since I’m doing a Thanksgiving weekend full of Mystery Science Theater 3000 posts, I figured I’d also review a comic book based on prime cinematic schlock. Granted, Plan 9 From Outer Space was never featured on MST3K, which is baffling, but many of Ed Wood’s movies were. So I feel like this certainly fits the tone.

The story here serves as a sequel to the Plan 9 movie. It takes place in modern times and sees the alien invaders return after fifty years.

This was schlock-y but pretty enjoyable. It doesn’t feel like it exactly taps into the essence of the Ed Wood picture but it does give some solid fan service.

My biggest gripe about it though, is that it is a really short story and this probably needed to be stretched out over four-to-six issues.

Everything just pops off almost immediately and then it is also over, almost immediately. There is no character development and nothing to really grasp onto.

Still, this wasn’t a terrible read, it was fairly fun and definitely energetic. It just completely lacked the real estate it needed to tell any sort of story.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: the movie it is based on, as well as Ed Wood’s other works.