I imagine some of you are tired of hearing about the wonders of Heroes Con, but I promise that this will be the final post until next year’s convention.
The problem of living in the sticks, comics-wise, is that the stores don’t hold a wide variety of non-cape and cowl trades. I read about something that looks good, but I forget about it because I can’t find it. The convention is the perfect chance to pick up things of this nature. The best part is, at the cons you can get it signed. I’ll start with something you probably haven’t heard of:
Several months ago I read a review of a series of adventures each focusing on a different member of a family tree. The volume coming out focused on the french foreign legion. Who writes and draws comics about the FRENCH FOREIGN LEGION? Apparently, cartoonist Chris Schweizer does.
Crogan’s Adventures is the series. Each volume is self contained and loosely tied together with modern bookends relating to the Crogan family as a whole. The volume I picked up at the con, Crogan’s March, is the volume about the foreign legion. It’s the second volume, but like I said it’s self contained so you can start anywhere. Schweizer’s style of cartooning, while certainly his own, compares favorably to Jeff Smith’s work on Bone. There’s humor and poignancy in his characters; each has a distinct look and a distinct voice. Even though this is their introduction and sole appearance, it is neither difficult to know who they are and what they are about nor is it a tedious introduction. The story itself is a solid well rounded adventure taking a more modern view on the end of the colonial era for France. It’s excellent story telling. So enjoyable that I’m picking up copies of March and the first volume Vengence for my class library. This was the most pleasant surprise of the convention because I got to rediscover the title.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that Schwiezer is a genuinely nice guy with a offbeat sense of humor. I picked up a print from him titled “Smokers of the Marvel Universe.” Take a few minutes and check him out.
Something else I picked up that I’ve wanted to read for a while is Roger Langridge’s Fred the Clown. We spend a lot of text here praising Langridge’s work on The Muppet Show, and rightly so. The man is comically gifted. His timing is as keen as spanish steel. Langridge honed his craft on Fred the Clown. The title character is an unfortunate and hapless loser, and Langridge abuses him with cartoonish glee. Like the Muppet Show, this thrives as a series of short pieces, essentially comic sketches in panel form. I hesitate to call them strips because it’s usually more complex than a three panel gag. The real treat for me to discover with this collection was Langridge’s diversity as an artist. With in this volume he manages to successfully ape just about every great cartoonist of the 20th century: Walt Kelly, Windsor McCay, Charles Schultz, Chic Young, and Jack Kirby being most notable. It’s hilarious and ridiculous in the same way that the most surreal of Monty Python’s bits are. Fred can be a little risque at times, but it’s never blue. Published by Fantagraphics, I’m surprised that Jesse didn’t pick it up in Seattle.
The final item I snagged was from Ryan Dunlavy’s table. The More than Complete Action Philosophers afforded me a chance to read the entire series in one sitting. I was familiar with the work of Dunlavy and van Lente both individually and collectively, and I was looking forward to reading some more about history’s greatest philosophers (I had already read a short volume featuring Jean Paul Sartre and John Stewart Mill). This collection didn’t disappoint. Fans of The Incredible Hercules should enjoy this collection as van Lente continues to clever and entertaining while teaching you everything you need to know about philosophy. For example: I never knew that Plato was a wrestler (and is portrayed as a luchadore herein). I’m looking forward to a collection of their current project about famous cartoonists and comic book creators.
Jesse and I have both talked about Love and Capes so I won’t go over it again here, but it’s as worth picking up as any of these books. For more information on these and other great books, why not head on over to your local library?!
Bonus: Here’s the sketch of Dr. Doom that Dunlavy did for me. He says that he and van Lente are working on a Doom project due out later this year.
And the Mebberson cover of Muppet Show #6.