Eh… Hello, Dio. Do you got a minute ?
- Skydoll 1, Yellow city, page 1, panel 2, ( translation from Dutch – XX )
I’m like the local comic authority ( which reminds me, I’ve to send a CBR archive of Preacher to Gnuif — sec. I’ll get the archive from the great and all inspiring #dasein ) – I’ve about 160 Gigs of comics, and there are few who can name titles that I don’t have, yet. What I like, I buy. That has resulted in a collection of comics that include most of the Vertigo imprint, and that has fought and defeated an Ikea Expedit book shelf. But most of the comic bits are American Comics. Which is great. But I’m European, and the work done in France and other European countries is just as great and from time to time brilliant ( too).
So when I visited Gent gent with my girlfriend I went to what is supposed to be one of the best comic … ehr… bande dessinées shops in a 500 mile radius; the Port. Now when I enter a comic shop, I usually resemble a DJ in a record shop. I know every title, but I haven’t quite listened too all. I know every publishing line, and are always looking for a next release. Yet, strangely enough, when it comes to European comics I used to be quite ignorant. And that bothered me. I was here to learn.
The funny thing was, every album was there, but the one isle was American, Manga, Dutch and Hebrew translated into French, and the other isle was in Dutch and original English. This was a Belgium store after all. I wasn’t interested in the American comics for now, I knew them already, usually torrenting two or three issues ahead of release in print. I was interested in European, for a change.
European comics have a somewhat troubled heritage. Where the American comic line is usually targeted at 15-year-olds, the European market has been targeted at 8-year olds. Of course with it’s great exceptions on both side of the ocean, but the general bulk of the content is targeted at those ages. This means that X-men has to compete with Suske and Wiske and JLA has to compete with Asterix. The sales figures follow the same trends, just different age groups. Donald Duck, by the way, is ubiquitous in both continents.
So as the medium comes of age I see different patterns emerging. Most American graphic novels or let’s say ‘adult comics’, follow a deepened path of superheroes and mutants. European comics however, tell humorous slap-stick and ‘adventure’ stories. There are no real ‘ongoing story lines’ in Europe, les bande dessinées are build on one-shots. Published In series perhaps, but still induvidual albums. Most of which are made by the same authors and artists. Changes of author and artist are rare, as opposed to say the Hellblazer (ongoing) series at DC/Vertigo.
All this, and the fact that Europe exists in a dozen different countries and languages has made theEuropean strip world very fragmented. It’s hard to spot the gems in between the rubbish and so-so-releases. As I was browsing the isles in Gent all these titles flashed in front of me. I had a couple of folders in hand, listing publishing houses, publishing lines and soon-to-be-released items. I was studying this system. I was trying to find that gem to get into.
For American readers, I also bought ‘Blankets‘, ‘Demo‘ and ‘Local‘ there, just because I had vagulue heared about them, and because they were on just display. This was clearly a comic shop that was good at presenting the title you don’t want to mis.
Finally, back in the shop; under the sign: “just In, part three!” was a title that completely, utterly and totally blew my mind.
I’ll be damned. That is probably the longest introduction that I’ve ever written for a comic review, but I think it was worth it.
Actually, I’m not planning on bothering you with all the details. You need to go out, and buy the fourth album (yes, I’m counting the ’spaceship’ collectors edition an album, screw you, buy it ). Skydoll is probably one of the best titles to hit the market in 10 (ten) years. And here is why:
Skydoll is created by Italians. And you may not know this, but 70 percent of (European) Disney comic titles are actually created in Italy. Italy has a large population of great comic artist and a lot of them are employed, or were employed by Disney. These people are drawing parts of cartoons, parts of comics (Mickey magazine, the Witch comic and animation empire etc. etc.) they are amazing artist. But you never hear from them because, they work for Disney. There is only one autograph you will see.
Now two of these artist have broken free and decided back in 1998 to do a series of their own and publish it in France, which has one of the best comic cultures around. They came up with a cyber-gothic-doll-pink-cute-catholic-duckburg-sci-fi-world that is the world of skydoll. This has relegion, sex, punk, cute, fluffy, goth, new age, cyber echo’s all over the place. Did I mention it was cute too? By God, man; these people are amazing. Do the image search!
I’m really at a lack of words here. The stuff is great. And the artists, Alessandro Barbucci and Barbara Canepa don’t even have wiki entries.
Finally, for the American readers. Marvel agrees with me, and says this is great stuff. So you people can BUY it! Actually, the new American line is much more interesting then the current European line, and Marvel is probably publishing the actual fourth album first. In English. And Marvel does it better; in the Dolls Factory (ordered it, but torrents beat the shop) they published interviews with the makers and a 60+ page album with the complete sketch of the original first album. (w00t!!!)
And there is still better stuff coming in. Barbucci and Canepa are taking their friends with them, like the amazing Bengal. (sic!)
Posted: July 22nd, 2010
, sky doll
, skydoll spaceship
, the dolls factory
Comments: No Comments
Ha! It’s that time again! I’ve found some time to read up on my comics list and decided to pick a new one that I hadn’t got around yet. Air, by G Willow Wilson and M. K. Perker is one of the newer ongoing series from DC/Virtigo. It now runs for just about a year and half (october 2008). I already got the first trade-paperback handed to me at my local comic shop about a year ago. Back then I decided not to buy it, as I had just bought about 5 or 6 trades already. I promised however to look it up online. Well, that moment arrived last week and I’ve been reading it through over the weekend.
Air is a fun read! But it has a slow start. It mingles Airport-fiction loosely with Terrorist-detective and does an adequate but not brilliant job on it. I must note that it is written by a woman, G Willow Wilson, and it shows. Not in a bad way, mind you.
Her heroine, Blythe, is a stewardess and a very believable, strong woman. The character gets her power from her no-nonsense attitude and her “girl next door” wit, which makes her a very suited protagonist. There is something chick-lit about the whole ordeal, but it is never annoying, better yet it adds to the story.
After the first introduction of the main characters, Zayn, an Interpol Agent, some flight attendees, a couple of bad guys and Blythe, the story takes of. It develops easily into a love story against a background of terrorist threatened airports and airplanes. A lot of the story takes place in Schiphol Airport, which I find funny as I live an easy 2 miles away from there and can actually see it from my window. The dutch which is spoken now and again in the strip is almost right, missing a letter or a noun here and there. Which is often the case when English native speakers try to write our language.
The story after the first couple of issues picks up and enters a new dimension as we find out that our Heroine has some special teleporting abilities called “hyperpracting”, not unlike ‘folding space’ which we know out of the Dune series. Wilson connects this through the Aztec-culture proclaiming that we did not invent symbolism, but that symbolism actually invented us, and spacial relations are nothing more then connected dots (interesting notion, not unlike Plato’s world of forms).
Now the story both deepens and weakens at this point. The central theme of the story; Symbolism as opposed to Euclydian space is interesting but is not worked out nearly enough to strike some ground. The ‘hyperpracting’ is a loose background on which the relationship between Blythe and Zayn is played out. Admittedly the human part of the story is so good that the loose ends in the philosophical part are soon forgotten, but it gets fishy here and there. I think it could do with more support for the paranormal and spiritual claims. The way it’s set up now reads more like new-age-abracadabra.
I did like the winged serpent though.
As it appears there is some ancient technology that allows matter, preferably airplanes, to get from place to place without moving called hyperpracting. Now this technology can only be controlled by ‘gifted’ people, who, more often then not are women. And one of those woman is Amelia Airhart, whom we all know vanished mysteriously when flying as the first women across the Atlantic.
To summarize, the writing is good; it’s not eye-dropping gorgeously good, but is good. Definitely worthy of the DC/Vertigo imprint. The remarks I make here are the only real critiques I have, the story flows fluently (although a bit slow at the beginning) there is always a ‘moar moar moar’-cliffhanger at the end and the supporting characters are believable and well plotted out. There is depth and warmth in this comic, and that is saying a lot.
* end of spoilers *
The art is good. It’s not brilliant. I can’t quite put my finger on it, it’s solidly drawn, high realism with very profound expressions. It reminds me a bit of Matthew Sturges) The color could be a tad more expressive. I get a good sense of movement, intelligently positioned and well set, good perspective. In short; it’s good craftsmanship. Still it is lacking something.
In a comic like this one, with a rather outrages plot; the art could make up an awful lot. There are (many) visions and hallucinations in there, and as an artist that would be a good opportunity to go all-out. Experiment more, try to get into the feeling and emotions of the character, rather then draw page after page like a machine.
On the upside; the expressions work really well, the curves and postures all fit perfectly, the artist never ‘overstretches’ himself trying to do an impossible perspective and I never get the feeling he was missing any deadlines. It’s pretty friggin’ well done. but still…
And that goes for the whole comic then. It’s good. Very good at points, but there is an uncanny feeling that it could have been better. It feels like a spin off from a larger comic series that is really excellent ( Like Jack of the Fables ), but it nowhere looses it’s craftsmanship, and is absolutely a fun read!
So in conclusion, should you buy this comic. Well, yes. I think you should. But if you have just bought five trades already then leave it at the shelve and buy it the next time you come around.
Posted: April 26th, 2010
, G Willow Wilson
, M.K. Perker
, trade paperback
Comments: No Comments