13 June, 2011

What I Read Last Month…

March 2011

Australian Mad Magazine. Various issues. (1980s)
I struggled through this lot in small bursts. My attitude to Mad Magazine hasn't changed much since the time I first encountered it at around age 10: it's cynical, pessimistic and mean, and I rarely feel like I've had a laugh after reading it, only like I'm an ashamed accomplice to schoolyard bullying.
The Australian pages, at this time anyway, are mostly simply token and embarrassing, though I was surprised and heartened by the courage to do complete original "satires" of Phar Lap and Prisoner.
There are a few highlights. The amazing cartooning skills of Don Martin and Sergio Aragones, the wonderful imagination of Al Jaffee, and the caricatures of Mort Drucker, Jack Davis and Angelo Torres obviously can't be denied. For me though, the laughs are few and far between.

Fantastic Four Visionaries: George Pérez. Vol. 2.
More of the same? Well, yes and no. I'm enjoying seeing George's rapid growth from someone with some raw talent to a more skilled practitioner, issue by issue, but it's also interesting gaining a deeper understanding of the stranglehold Joe Sinnott had on the style and final look of the heroes in this series, especially in the faces. Several issues in this volume were inked by much less accomplished inkers, and it not only shows up their lack of skill, but it also shows how rough and unfinished pencils by most artists were at this time. That being said, a reprinted annual was inked very well, as would be expected, by Pablo Marcus' brush, and is very different to Sinnott's slick brush work. Marcus gets a much more textured, detailed, finicky and organic feel to the work. The last piece in this volume is from a much much later period and is inked by Pérez himself. Needless to say it's the most detailed, delicate and finely finished of all the stories in the book, although it's also cold and lacking in a bit of life.

Gynecomasticatastrophe and The Cautionary Tale of Mister Latchkey, by Arran McKenna.
What fun getting these two minis in the post. Gynecomasticatastrophe is a delightfully silly tale, told in rhyme to make it even more delightfully silly, of a middle-aged man who one day wakes up with breasts. Hilarity indeed ensues.
The Cautionary Tale of Mister Latchkey is a little more on the dark side of comedy. Though also told in verse, the subject and action are on the cartoony gross side, but also striving for some social commentary. It's the commentary, along with the simple-minded nature of the lead character, that gives the humour a decidedly darker, uncomfortable edge.
These two comics are printings of material that was done a little while ago, and I can't wait to see what Azza has coming up.

Full Metal Chicken by Dean Rankin.
Full review coming soon, but what a great fun read from a unique and brilliant Aussie cartoonist.

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