Wednesday, May 11, 2016

What I'm Reading: Roundup

Prince Valiant Volume 1: 1937-38 Absolutely beautiful over-sized hardcover of the first two years of the Sunday-only strip Prince Valiant. Drawn by Hal Foster, who brought an unprecedented skill and dedication to his work, this was an influence for decades on comics artists.

The strip still runs today, although unfortunately today's newspapers don't provide artists with the full-page canvases they had in the 1930s, when the Sunday comics were entertainment for a whole family and one of the main draws of the newspaper. According to the introduction, Hal Foster wrote over 1,000 pages of notes on the details of Prince Valiant's life, from childhood to death, and when he turned the strip over to an assistant in 1980 shortly before his death, was still working from that original plan. I wonder if the artist today, Thomas Yeates, who has done the strip since 2012, still uses those notes?

This was a Christmas gift. Provided I can find the funds and the time, I will definitely be getting Volume 2 at some point.

Squirrel Girl Marvel nowadays has a whole little corner of their universe dealing with the humorous adventures of quirky, lesser-known characters. She-Hulk, Patsy Walker (i.e. Hellcat), and Howard the Duck all have or have recently had fun series, and the creators seem inclined to let them interact. In fact, several of the characters hang out with each other in a building in Brooklyn where She-Hulk's alter ego, Jennifer Walters, has her law office and Howard the Duck has a detective agency.

Squirrel Girl is my favorite of these titles. SG is Doreen Green, a computer science student at Empire State University (where Peter Parker used to attend college). She can talk to squirrels and even has a squirrel tail she uses to help her fight bad guys (and when it's tucked up in her pants it gives her a bodacious booty). Doreen really prefers talking it out with villains and seeing if their are ways they can achieve their goals without using violence, but she's willing to take 'em on physically if that doesn't work out. It's really hilarious and appropriate for kids ages 5 to 100.

Mirror I recently started picking up this series drawn by Emma Rios, one of my favorite artists. It's set on an asteroid inhabited by humans who have been doing experiments on animals to breed warriors (or something) for a big war in space. But that's just the background, the emphasis is on the relationships between the humans and their intelligent human-animal hybrid creations, some of whom rebel against their human masters, some of whom fall in love with them, or serve them for their own reasons. Really, each character has his own unique motivations. Gorgeous, highly intricate artwork and interesting character work.

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