Friday, November 6, 2009

Beware of Exploding Vampires


Neil Gaiman's Midnight Days by Neil Gaiman, Steve Bissette, John Totleben, Mike Hoffman, Mike Mignola, Dave McKean and others (1988-2005; collected 2005): I'd imagine that someday soon this slim, over-priced collection of Neil Gaiman's non-Sandman, non-miniseries DC work will be replaced by a larger volume that will also include the missing Poison Ivy piece mentioned herein, the lost-and-found Superman/Green Lantern team-up that was initially meant to be the final issue of the abortive weekly Action Comics experiment of the late 1980's, and Gaiman's recent "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?"

As is, this is an interesting volume of Gaiman's American comics baby-step, highlighted by the terrific John Constantine one-off "Hold Me" illustrated by frequent Gaiman collaborator Dave McKean. More for completists than anyone else -- you wouldn't want to introduce someone to Gaiman through this stuff, no matter how interesting I might find the Mike Mignola-illustrated Floronic Man short or the Swamp Thing annual featuring Brother Power the Geek.

The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity; How the Whale Became by Mike Carey and Peter Gross (2009): This is great metafantasy in any medium. Over the first five issues of the series (which I'm assuming will be collected forthwith), Carey and Gross begin an epic fantasy involving readers, writers, vast conspiracies, children's literature, Rudyard Kipling, Mark Twain, Mary Shelley, Frankenstein's creature, Internet message boards, the nature of fandom, messiahs, and one confused man who thinks he's the adopted son of the long-missing author of a best-selling, beloved children's fantasy series about a magical boy named Tommy Taylor. The writer apparently named this son after his famous creation. Or did he?

Gross's art is sharp and deft in its ability to shift across the comics art spectrum from cartoony to mimetic and back again. Carey's been writing much-praised comics for more than a decade now, but I think this his best work by far -- his Invisibles, Sandman or Preacher, if you will. Highly recommended.

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