You are buying this book for one reason, and one reason only. To find out about Trilby. Campbell, in a genius application of suspense, makes you wait 46 long pages before revealing the truth. All the while the other characters are living their lives oblivious to the situation.
The art is really good with some very bold panel breaks and good use of black space. In fact whole black pages are inserted to really add gravitas to the scene changes. There are some nice establishing frames too that are very effective in tone. There are no prose pages to slow down the flow in this work either – a most inspired choice. The bug-eyes have settled down too and there is a nice line drawing dream sequence.
You think that nothing can compare to last volume’s cliff-hanger? Well there may be a surprise in store. This is a great return to form that just reaches the Double Thumbs Up!
Tomorrow: Crossed: Badlands – Garth Ennis & Jamie Delano
The volume sees a return to form for the series. If you can get past the bug-eyes then this will be approaching the greatness of the first two volumes. You have the fallout from the cliff-hanger last book, the photo-shoot, the ballgame and Cleo being Cleo. And if you thought the last ending was dramatic wait till you see this one.
The art is on top form and Campbell seems to be in love with his new found nocturnal skills as there are a lot more night scenes. There is one supernatural/ dream sequence that is really creepy and a dramatic action sequence that has you on the edge of your seat, and frantically ordering volume six. There is also quite a lot of fan art of the characters reproduced at the end of the book.
It is a great volume overall and makes you think about some weighty but often overlooked issues. A solid Thumbs Up!
Tomorrow: Powers 1: Who Killed Retro Girl – Brian Michael Bendis
This series began as an unpretentious slice of life. A beautiful glimpse into the lives of people who don’t get screen time in mainstream comics. This foundation is still there but obscured by sensationalist gimmicks and outlandish subject matter. Good characters with relatable motivation don’t need costumed vigilantes, FBI agents with monkeys, alien ghosts and so on.
The art is strong – with the exception of Cleo’s bug-eyes – and seems to be getting the polish it did previously, but is rarely allowed to appear without dialogue. Not only have Cleo’s all prose diary entries got longer but Mara’s journal appears more frequently and Audrey has a web page too. Maybe this would be better as a novel? There are some strong nocturnal scenes entering Campbell’s repertoire and an interesting flashback entirely in sketch form.
This is a troubled work as the author experiments with his ideas as an artist and a writer. There is a powerful story that has just received two inspired twists but it is buried under a turbulent mishmash of creativity.
Because I want to read what happens next it gets a Thumbs Up!
Tomorrow: Wet Moon – book 5: Where All Stars Fail to Burn – Ross Campbell
The first thing that strikes you about this book is the length. Then it is the eyes. Then the whole thing comes off the rails.
This book is almost twice the size of the previous one. It is massive and you really look forward to a nice long read. To getting lost in the world of these amazing characters.
For some inexplicable reason (our protagonist) Cleo’s eyes have doubled in size. They are gigantic. Bigger than her ears, bigger than her mouth, they now take up 25% of her face. They are freakishly and unrealistically huge in a Manga style way. This series has some wonderful depictions of the beautiful diversity present in human beings. It embraces the alternative, the different and the individual but in a realistic and faithful way. We now have a cartoon character foisted within our verisimilitude. There is no explanation, it’s not a clever metaphor, and it just doesn’t work.
If she had big eyes from the start, that would be fine. If the other characters had commented upon her big eyes that would be reasonable. If we knew they were being exaggerated for a reason or dramatic effect that would be okay too. Heck if everyone had big eyes that would normalise things. But this breaks the fourth wall and flushes all the established credibility down the toilet. Like cats becoming primates and lifting up the floorboards. Yep that happens too.
Another thing is we appreciate the great 80s movies references because they are subtle and unobtrusive. Plugging your favourite band the same way would also be acceptable but having a six page spread of them singing live is too self-indulgent. Admittedly there are established characters there but why not create a fake band that is a clever nod rather than brazen advertising.
This is such a shame as the story and characters are so intriguing. You care about them, you want to remain part of their lives but the creator is putting obstacles in your way. The last page is an astonishing cliff-hanger and there are plenty of hooks to keep you interested, Myrtle in particular.
It is only these points that drag it upwards to barely rate a No Thumbs!
Tomorrow: Wet Moon – book 4: Further Realms of Fright – Ross Campbell
This amazing series continues the high standards that it launched with. The dialogue is superb, naturalistic and contemporary. The characters are delightfully flawed, grounded and highly relatable. The story is touching, compelling and full of mystery.
The art is gorgeous and relevant. The characters are remarkable in an alternative way and represent a wonderful diversity of beauty. There doesn’t seem to be as much detail in the backgrounds or elaborate shading as the previous volume but the faces and clear expressions are wonderfully realised. There are still lots of pop culture references (many from the 80‘s) hidden away in the background and also a comic within a comic. There is some more nudity and a wonderfully intimate scene which you almost feel embarrassed for intruding upon.
You have a lot of clues now as to Cleo’s secret but aren’t explicitly told. Everyone has changed hairstyle which might initially confuse you but cleverly differentiates flashbacks to recent events. Fern is somewhat of an outlandish mystery; but for the most part this volume is still young people talking shit as young people have done since the dawn of language, or shit.
There are the handy cast portraits in the back of the book to stop you getting confused (complete with new hairstyles). Plus a neat little map of the town of Wet Moon in the front that you will look at once and promptly forget about.
Because the art lacks the high polish of the first book and now plays second fiddle to the dialogue this wonderful work slips from the Double to a very high Thumbs Up!
Tomorrow: Wet Moon – book 3: Further Realms of Fright – Ross Campbell
Nothing happens in this book. No explosions, car chases, monsters, or anything like that. But it’s wonderful.
You simply peek into the life of Cleo Lovedrop a teenage Emo/Punk/Goth girl at college. There is no handy narration, internal monologue or explanation. You have to pick up what information you can by watching her actions and eavesdropping on her conversations. It is compulsively riveting as you desperately piece together the clues to uncover this troubled girl’s secrets. Not since the first Big Brother has real life been so enthralling.
The art is black and grey but used to spectacular effect. Through expert shading some incredible lighting effects are achieved. Campbell has an incredible gift for faces and with just a few lines can render really striking and expressive characters. The lettering is hand scrawled without the aid of a ruler and whilst atmospheric it sometimes requires squinting to read.
Equal balance is given to art and words. Pages will pass free from dialogue as you watch the characters, learning about them through their actions. This makes full use of the graphic medium to tell a story.
Some secrets and mysteries are casually dropped in and you really get the feeling Cleo is in trouble but can’t yet definitively say why.
For making me order the next five volumes this must receive a Double Thumbs Up!
Tomorrow: Wet Moon – book 2: Unseen Feet – Ross Campbell