Yost finds bits of written ephemera, lost notes and journals, and strings these bits of other people’s lives together into a continuous tale (punctuated by the lost writings themselves). I suppose it’s in the nature of these missives that they’re a bit sad.
Sunward is the unusual story of a guy who’s had his gravity reversed: instead of falling down, he’s falling up, and in fact the only thing holding him on planet Earth is a blade of grass. His two friends work to help him out, but are baffled by the problem. I loved that this mini initially came across as cute and innocent, but when you get reading, the basic underlying problem is not pussy-footed around: if the guy relaxes his grip, he’ll fall into the sun, an likely die long before he gets there.
This volume of DMZ is made up of six self-contained stories that take place in the world of the series, but don’t feature the main characters or storylines, so don’t require (as much) context to read. All are good, but we were quite taken by the Nathan Fox-drawn story “Random Fire,” about an attack in a night club. His trademark jewel-toned, color-hold style gets a bit muddy on the uncoated paper, but it’s chaotic and pretty in a way that most adventure comics aren’t.
Army @ Love is another one of the strange, difficult, energetic Vertigo projects to appear lately that just don’t fit a genre. Veitch creates a biting satire of the military and fear-mongering high-alert political class in this over-the-top 15-minutes-into-the future farce. Knowing the war is unpopular means that the Army is on full-out marketing attack, and the troops are going wild.
What makes this story really stand out, though, is the art. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Hyper-detailed scenes of Japanese streets in cotton-candy tones are grounded (slightly) by the skill with which Fisher (the artist) executes perspective and figure work. Dorky, nose-less people nonetheless have real weight and individuality. You never confuse one character for another although there may be dozens (seemingly) in each panel. It’s just a cornucopia of stuff to look at, and it’s quite clear that Fisher knew well and loved Tokyo.
What begins as a seemingly generic lonely-guy indy comic takes a surprising turn when our disheveled, lonely protagonists encounters a glowing fairytale creature in a compromising situation. And there are a few more surprises in this short-and-sweet (and a little nasty) model of efficient storytelling.
Adam Suerte’s Aprendíz is a memoir comic about the artist’s apprenticeship as a tattoo artist. It’s part artistic coming-of-age tale, part behind-the-scenes look at the craft and business of tattooing. Throughout, Suerte reveals himself to be a gifted cartoonist who incorporates styles and techniques of tattoo art into his pages without ever sacrificing clarity—no easy feat—and he is an engaging, self-depracating guide to his own story.
Is “Am I Emo?” comics? poetry? both? neither? The answer is not obvious but it probably depends on your own notions of what “comics”, “poetry”, and visual storytelling are. If this comic makes you question your assumptions a bit, then maybe it’s already proved its value.
FIRST SECOND is an imprint of Roaring Brook Press / Macmillan USA. Macmillan owns some of America's most prestigious publishers, known for great integrity and literary quality. These include Henry Holt, FSG, St Martin's Press, Tor and Picador, all of which have garnered the most coveted prizes in publishing.