Approximate Continuum Comics


By Lewis Trondheim, edited & translated by Kim Thompson (Fantagraphics Books)
ISBN: 978-1-60699-410-8

With over 100 books sporting his name, (which isn’t actually Lewis Trondheim but Laurent Chabosy) the writer/artist/editor and educator is one of Europe’s most prolific comics creators: illustrating his own work and working with the industry’s top artists; overseeing animated cartoons of his print successes as La Mouche (The Fly) and Kaput and Zösky and even editing a younger readers book series Shampooing for Dargaud.

His most famous works are the global hits ‘Les Formidables Aventures de Lapinot’ (translated as The Spiffy Adventures of McConey) and, with Joann Sfar, the Donjon (Dungeon) series of nested fantasy epics (see the translated Dungeon: Parade, Dungeon: Monstres and Dungeon: the Early Years).

In his spare time he has written for satirical magazine Psikopat and his scripts for the continent’s most popular artists include Le Roi Catastrophe and Vénézia with Fabrice Parme, Les Cosmonautes du futur (Manu Larcenet), Allez Raconte and Papa Raconte (José Parrondo) and Petit Père Noël (Thierry Robin).

He is a cartoonist of uncanny wit, piercing, gentle perspicacity, comforting affability and self-deprecating empathy who prefers to control scrupulously what is known and said about him…

I first became aware of Lewis Trondheim’s subtly engaging comics mannerism in Fantagraphics’ Mome anthologies which reprinted excerpts of his comics blog Little Nothings wherein Trondheim’s friends and acquaintances, drawn as anthropomorphised animals (with him a dowdy, parrot-beaked central figure) revisit episodes of his life, flavoured with philosophy, personal introspection, whimsical inquiry and foible-filled observations.

These mini-treats have since been gathered into three terrific tomes of drawn diaries for constant re-reading (Little Nothings: Curse of the Umbrella, The Prisoner Syndrome and Uneasy Happiness) and are available as collected gift set entitled Bigger Nothings.

However, before all that Trondheim first explored the idea as a four issue American styled comicbook project in 1993 and those prototypical slices of wry and winning reportage are finally available in a translated black and white softcover collection.

Some of the very first autobiographical works on the French bande dessinée scene, these little gems were a genuine game-changer for cartoonists and storytellers, prompting a rise in personal stories that has produced many works to rival the best of Harvey Pekar himself…

In the collected Approximate Continuum Comics the trademark blend of visualised introspection and self-condemnatory flagellation finds the younger Trondheim questioning his own professional integrity, violently and graphically wish-fulfilling his way through rush-hour crowds (haven’t we all?), planning – for which read risk-assessing – his marriage, and dealing with his unfathomable Japanese publisher during the early days of creating his multi-media hit La Mouche.

He regularly gets lost in his own free-associating daydreams and rightly fears being castigated by his own conscience for swimming in megalomania, indecisiveness, forthrightness and deference.

Trondheim’s many inner voices don’t like him very much: there are myriad incidences of self-abuse where his alternate egos beat the crap out of him; counterbalanced with gloriously loaded “real-world” episodes where he lampoons and embarrasses his fellow studio-mates of publishing collective L’Association.

(To be fair these are fabulously balanced by a marvellous section at the book’s end where such maligned and injured creative colleagues as David B., Emile Bravo, Didier Tronchet, Jean-Christophe Menu, Killofer and Philippe Dupuy among others, as well as civilian friends, his wife Brigitte and even his mother all get a trenchant and often hilarious right-to-reply.)

The first inklings of the artist’s perennial problems with technology in general and computer games in particular appear here, as do many childhood memoirs and sundry diatribes against people and places either experienced or sometimes only imagined.

One of the best sequences concerns the trip-of-a-lifetime to America (first of many, but he didn’t know that then…) and his apparent inability to think of one single strip idea about it, only surpassed by his behaviour at a raucous party held in his beloved studio.

During the course of these cartoon capers, Trondheim married his fiancée, sired his first child and moved into a new home, but although these major events are thoroughly and compellingly covered they still pale into insignificance against the spectacular battles against his inevitably spreading paunch, obsessively mean-spirited self-criticism and the thunderbolt-like occasional phone call from his mum…

…And whenever that’s no longer painful enough there’s always the violent physical assaults and punishment-beatings from his inner selves…

Superbly skilled at switching imperceptibly from broad self-parody to cripplingly painful personal revelation, wild surrealism to powerful reportage and from clever humorous observation to howling existentialist inquisition, Trondheim’s cartoon interior catalogue is always a supremely rewarding and enjoyable experience and, as these ancient texts prove, always has been…

© 2001 Lewis Trondheim and Cornélius. This edition © 2011 Fantagraphics Books. All Rights Reserved.

Yeah!


By Peter Bagge & Gilbert Hernandez, with Jaime Hernadez & Eric Reynolds (Fantagraphics Books)
ISBN: 978-1-60699-412-2

More generally known for their challenging (I so loathe that word “alternative”) material for mature audiences, cartooning legends Peter (Neat Stuff, Hate, Buddy Bradley) Bagge and Gilbert (Love & Rockets, Birdland, Sloth) Hernandez collaborated in 1999 on an intriguing and manically enticing, all-ages cartoon romp for the grievously underserved juvenile girls market, published by mainstream industry leader DC under their WildStorm imprint.

Said feature has finally been collected – regrettably without the gloriously vivid colour – in a superbly silly upbeat collection that will hopefully, in these more enlightened graphic times, find the approving audience it deserved.

As Bagge relates in his introduction, the original concept was an updating of Dan DeCarlo’s Josie and the Pussycats (voluntarily created under the strictures of the Comics Code) which would appeal to a pre-teen market; inspired by the writer’s complete immersion in the Girl-Power culture of the Spice Girls and their many imitators, thanks to his own daughter turning eight and discovering pop music…

Yeah! follows the trials and tribulations of fresh young New Jersey girls Woo-Woo, Honey and Krazy, who with their on-again, off-again, sleazy-hippie-burn-out manager Crusty seek stardom and a steady paycheque. Naturally it’s not quite that straightforward…

The girls’ extremely unique situation is introduced in ‘Everybody Say Yeah!’ as they finish a tour of the galaxy which sees them crowned “the Most Popular Band in the History of the Universe” before returning to Earth where they are still completely unknown and unable to land a single gig. Crusty has unique contacts and connections but none of them are on the planet of his birth. The best he can manage here is a cheesy school talent contest with their arch rival boy-band The Snobs…

Fed up, fame-hungry keyboardist Woo-Woo sets up a meeting with disgusting mega-millionaire Mongrel Mogul, who agrees to manage and promote them – but only if guitarist Krazy agrees to marry him. Although Woo-Woo thinks it’s worth it the girls eventually decline and Mogul instead aligns himself with their arch-enemy Miss Hellraiser…

None of the performers in Yeah! are ordinary or average. Woo-Woo’s ambitions are all-encompassing, diminutive drummer Honey is a Vegan eco-activist with a befuddled hippie boyfriend called Muddy and Krazy has telepathic powers. … And old Crusty really does commune regularly with extraterrestrials…

We meet the parents in ‘Woo-Woo, Phone Home!’ as the girls fail at a succession of menial jobs whilst waiting for the Big Time (alien money being useless on Earth) before giving up and moving to the Planet Erb where they’re properly appreciated. Unfortunately they – and especially Muddy’s goat – can’t handle the food and they have to go back when Woo-Woo’s terrifyingly blue-collar dad gets ill – but not before Crusty signs up and then abandons an Erbian tribute act called “!yaeH”…

‘Stalky’ reveals that whilst they’ve been gone an alien has been crashing at Krazy’s place, consuming her stupendous stash of junk-food (the only thing she ever eats), but the girls have bigger problems: Crusty has lined them up to be Miss Hellraiser’s backing band – and for free!

‘The Origins of Yeah!’ reveals how the girls met, when The Snobs became their enemies and why Hellraiser isn’t in Yeah! anymore, whilst ‘Yeah! Takes Off!’ uncovers Crusty’s alien connections and the girls first intergalactic successes, before ‘Honey’s Crisis!’ highlights corporate skulduggery and girly passions as Krazy and Woo-Woo become rivals for the attention of Hobo Cappilletto – the most successful boy pop-star in the World – culminating in the minor mega-sensation making his romantic play in ‘Hobo’s in Love!’

The band gets caught up in an interplanetary conflict when ‘Yeah! Goes to War!’, unexpectedly becoming folk heroes of planet Sunburnia before the fight for fame comes to an abrupt end in ‘Make Way for !yaeH’ as the erstwhile Erbian trio become a sensation on Earth whilst Yeah! still can’t get arrested in their own home town…

The volume ends with creator biographies and a mini-saga written and illustrated by Bagge hilariously depicting ‘A Day in the Life of The Snobs’

There’s precious little around for kids and especially girl readers in American funnybooks: their options relegated to Archie Comics’ prodigious, but generally safe, output or whatever manga makes it into English translation so this intriguing and wildly imaginative series which seamlessly combined fantasy, science fiction, fashion, pop and school cultures in a wild blend of frantic fun and thoroughly deserves another chance to shine.

Moreover let’s hope the publishers follow up with more of the same and Bagge’s marvellous warts-and-all comedic comics-industry expose Sweatshop is soon to follow…

© 2011 Peter Bagge. This edition © 2011 Fantagraphics Books. All Rights Reserved.

Omaha the Cat Dancer Complete Set (part 2)


By Reed Waller & Kate Worley with James M. Vance (NBM/Amerotic)
Set ISBN: 978-1-56163-601-3
Vol. 4 ISBN: 978-1-56163-451-4, vol. 5 ISBN: 978-1-56163-451-4, vol. 6 ISBN: 978-1-56163-451-4, vol. 7 ISBN: 978-1-56163-451-4

These books are intended to make adults laugh and think and occasionally feel frisky. If the cover images haven’t clued you in, please be warned that these items contain nudity, images of sexual intimacy – both hetero and homosexual – and language commonly used in the privacy of the bedroom and probably school playgrounds whenever supervising adults aren’t present.

If that sort of thing offends you, read no further and don’t buy these books. The rest of us will just enjoy one of the best graphic novel experiences ever created without you.

Omaha the Cat Dancer began during the 1970s as an “underground” venture and over slow torturous decades grew into a brilliant but controversial drama of human fallibility were all the actors just happened to be ordinary people with animal characteristics. What most people noticed was the matter-of-fact and constant inclusion of graphic sex acts, extremely well rendered.

As there’s only so much a man of my hard-lived years can endure and certainly only so much me you can stand, I’ve divides this graphic novels review of the series and specifically the glorious seven-volume complete set that prompted it in two (see yesterday’s post for the rest). The entire supremely economical shrink-wrapped gift set is available for your reading pleasure and you’d be bonkers not to not take advantage of the fact, but if you are of a cautious nature most individual editions can still be obtained through internet retailers.

The stunning, addictive saga of the erotic dancer, her bone-headed boyfriend and the anthropomorphic extended ensemble cast takes a dark and dreadful turn with Volume 4 (re-presenting the Kitchen Sink Omaha issues #10-13 and the one-page gag strip ‘Alterations’ from Fire Sale #11988-1989) as the mysterious death of Charles Tabey Sr., the increasing violence and oppression of the Campaign for Decency and a seemingly constant stream of personal revelations strain Omaha and Chuck’s relationship to the breaking point.

The Story resumes after an introduction from writer James Vance (who married Kate Worley after she split up with Waller and worked with the artist to finish the saga from her notes after her untimely death in 2004), before the tense drama kicks into high gear as Chuck comes to terms with the shocking knowledge that his mother didn’t die decades ago. The pressure seems to be affecting him badly – or perhaps the thought of all the wealth and responsibility – and the decent young man is becoming as exploitative, abusive and creepy as his manic dad was, but even though he’s acting paranoid, it doesn’t mean he’s hasn’t got real and deadly enemies. The situation isn’t helped by learning that somewhere his beloved Omaha has a husband she hasn’t quite divorced and never ever mentioned…

The sinister Senator Bonner is ratchetting up the pressure of his anti-smut campaign and even close ally Jerry is working to his own agenda, with the assistance of avaricious partner Althea. Confused, lonely and neglected, Omaha devotes her energies to dancing for the upcoming video for Shawn’s band, and Rob confronts Shelley whom he believes ordered the attempt on his life and torching of his studio…

At long last the will is read and Chuck does indeed inherit the bulk of his father’s holdings and, apparently, many of Tabey Sr.’s deranged obsessions. The far more intriguing than she appears Shelley acts on Rob’s misperceived accusations whilst her lover/carer Kurt Huddle finds part-time employment with the mysterious Mr. Lopez – the last major player in an increasingly complex game. Meanwhile high-powered call-girl, blackmailer and keeper of Secrets Joanne re-insinuates herself with Jerry and Chuck and Bonner in a terrifying confrontation threatens to destroy Omaha and Chuck in his own blackmail scheme…

During the video shoot Omaha and Joanne compare notes on Bonner, after which the capable call-girl enlists Rob’s photographic aid in a scheme to get the goods on the hypocritical Senator – with whom she shares a highly secret and extremely specialised professional relationship…

Whilst both Joanne and Rob are practising their unique skills the senator is murdered in the most compromising of all positions and the story moves effortlessly from human drama to dark murder mystery. Abandoned, bewildered, angry and very hurt, Omaha leaves town unaware that both she and Joanne are suspects in the Bonner murder case…

As she heads for a new life in rural Wisconsin, Chuck is learning some long-forgotten personal history from his mother, but no matter how she disguises her appearance that increasingly popular video means the cat dancer will never be truly safe or unseen…

Volume 5 is introduced by Neil Gaiman, after which issues #14-17 (1990-1992) find the lovers painfully adapting to life apart, with all of Omaha’s old friends wondering where she’s gone. Meanwhile in Lawrenceville, Wisconsin, after an abortive stab at office work for an all-too-typical, male-dominated factory, “Susan Johnson” goes back to honest work dancing in the town’s only strip joint, making some reliable new friends and meeting a young man who will become far more…

In Mipple City, Joanne and her lawyer finally clear her of suspicion in Bonner’s murder, Jerry is planning to reopen infamous bordello The Underground as a legitimate nightclub, and Chuck is making new friends and intimate acquaintances whilst spending his days trying to save the Bohemian A Block district from redevelopment, inadvertently getting far closer to the heart of all the various intrigues that threaten the players in the drama, and Jerry’s business partner Althea reveals her true colours and allies. At Senator Bonner’s funeral Lopez reveals an unsuspected connection to the venomous politician…

Shelley has made new friends too (in a scathing and utterly delightful episode exposing unexpected biases in certain sorts of feminists and do-gooders), Joanne is increasingly at odds with Rob regarding the films of Bonner’s last moments and when Jerry invites Chuck to become a partner in his new nightclub Althea tries to secure the deal by offering herself as sweetener… or does she actually have another reason for her bold advances?

Kurt and Shelley’s relationship begins to show signs of strain but in Lawrenceville “Susan” is relaxed and happy, with the strength to contact the friends she ran out on.

In Mipple, the cops are slowly uncovering some uncomfortable facts about everybody in the Bonner case when the Senator’s private secretary comes forward with new information, whilst Joanne is finally securing her final weapon necessary to expedite her plans…

The final Kitchen Sink issues (#18-20, 1993-1994) comprise the major part of the sixth volume, and follow an introduction from Terry Moore, a brief discourse on the cat dancer cast’s other appearances and a few shorts pieces from diverse places.

First there’s a delightful humorous foray into mainstream comics from Munden’s Bar Annual #2 in 1991. ‘A Strip in Time’, wherein the exotic kitty pops up in the legendary pan-dimensional hostelry, after which two short and sexy vignettes originally produced for The Erotic Art of Reed Waller , one untitled and the other graced with the subtly informative designation ‘Waking Up Under a Tent’, act to somewhat offset the angst and drama of the main event.

Rob learns what Shelley’s actual role was in the arson attack on his shop, Joanne takes a live-in position with Mr Lopez and after many abortive attempts Chuck and Omaha finally speak. As Thanksgiving dawns many of Omaha’s friends gather for a momentous dinner, things start to unravel for the bad-guys trying to destroy A Block and in Wisconsin, just as she is becoming reconciled with Chuck, the cat dancer’s fling with appreciative punter Jack intensifies to a crisis point. Meanwhile elsewhere, somebody with an intimate knowledge of her recognises the hot dancer in a rock video and begins making fevered inquiries…

When Shawn’s touring band reaches Lawrenceville and discover “Susie” is Omaha, the scene is set for her return to Mipple City, where, after being arrested in connection with Bonner’s murder, Chuck’s mother reveals the whole story of her past and the sordid truth of Calvin Bonner’s obsessive depravity and Charles Tabey’s bi-polar affliction. In light of the horrific revelations Chuck seems to go completely off the deep end and, far too late, his friends and family realise that money and looks might not be the only things the son inherited from the father…

Next, just a smidge out of chronological order, comes ‘Tales of Mipple City: Rob Steps Out’ a charming first date tale which first appeared in the anthology series Gay Comics #22 (1994) after which the tension and revelations resume as the cops release Maria Elandos Tabey, whilst her son is sectioned. In Lawrenceville, Susie gets an unforgettable farewell from Jack after which she returns to her true love who has never needed her more…

The final volume in this magnificent series features the last four issues published by Fantagraphics as Omaha the Cat Dancer volume 2, #1-4 (1994-1995). The series has at times seemed cursed: plagued by illness and creative problems which have taken its toll on all the creators. The creators ended their relationship in spectacular fashion at this time and only began working together again in 2002. Soon after Kate Worley died from cancer and it seemed the saga was destined to remain an unfinished masterpiece, but in 2006 Waller and Worley’s husband James Vance began to finish the job from her notes, with the concluding chapters serialised in the magazine Sizzle. When those final instalments are finally collected the completed Omaha the Cat Dancer will be possibly the finest adult comics tale in history…

For now however the brilliant yarn reaches a kind of conclusion here as after an introduction from honorary Mipple City resident Denis Kitchen, and a stunning cartoon recap Omaha and Chuck renew their relationship, Jerry and Shelley and Rob and Joanne reach workable détente agreements and that missing husband tracks the cat dancer to her new home. Set over the Christmas/New Year period, all the various plot threads come together during an unforgettable party at Chuck’s palatial new house, although the hung-over aftermath promises that there are still stories to be told and loose ends to be knotted off once and for all.

Even if the saga stopped here, Omaha the Cat Dancer would be an incredible narrative achievement and groundbreaking landmark of comics creation, but with the promise of a final resolution still to come, it looks set to become an icon of our industry, celebrated forever for moving beyond simple titillation and happy, innocent prurience to become a fully matured work of Art.

Captivating, intense, deeply moving and addictively engrossing, Omaha never forgets to be also be fun and fabulous and utterly inclusive: full of astonishingly well drawn, folk (admittedly largely furry or feathered folk) happily naked and joyously guilt – free… at least about sex…

No cats, dogs, birds or ferrets were harmed, abused, distressed or disagreeably surprised in the making of these lovely, lovely books, so if you’re open-minded, fun-loving and ready for the perfect grown-up adventure please take advantage of this unmissable opportunity. You won’t regret it….

© 1987-1996 Reed Waller & Kate Worley. Contents of these editions © 2005-2008 NBM. All Rights Reserved.

Omaha the Cat Dancer Complete Set (part I)


By Reed Waller & Kate Worley with James M. Vance (NBM/Amerotic)
Set ISBN: 978-1-56163-601-3
Vol. 1 ISBN: 978-1-56163-451-4, vol. 2 ISBN: 978-1-56163-457-3, vol. 3 ISBN: 978-1-56163-474-3

These books are intended to make adults laugh and think and occasionally feel frisky. If the cover images haven’t clued you in, please be warned that these items contain nudity, images of sexual intimacy – both hetero and homosexual – and language commonly used in the privacy of the bedroom and probably school playgrounds whenever supervising adults aren’t present.

If that sort of thing offends you, read no further and don’t buy these books. The rest of us will just enjoy one of the best graphic novel experiences ever created without you.

Omaha the Cat Dancer began during the 1970s as an “underground” venture and over the torturous decades grew into a brilliant but controversial drama of human fallibility with all the characters played by funny animals. What most people noticed was the matter-of-fact and constant inclusion of graphic sex acts.

The series was subject to many obscenity seizures by various muddle-headed stickybeaks over the years, inspiring the formation of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. One classic case apparently involved the local defenders of morality raiding a comics store because Omaha promoted Bestiality!

As there’s only so much excitement a man of my advanced years and proclivities can endure (and probably only so much me you can stand) I’ll be to reviewing these seven tomes in two batches rather than in totality but I will remind you each time that the whole saucy saga is available in a supremely economical shrink-wrapped gift set that you’d be crazy to not take advantage of.

After an introduction by late-coming co-scripter James Vance and Reed Waller’s original intro from the 1987 collected edition, The Complete Omaha the Cat Dancer volume 1 gathers the short story appearances from a number of Counter-culture Commix as well as some out-of-continuity infilling short pieces so readers can enjoy what can best be described as the official Directors Cut of the tale.

The wicked wonderment begins with the very first ‘Adventures of Omaha’ from Vootie in 1978. Vootie began in 1976 as a self-published fanzine founded by Reed Waller and like-minded artistic friends who bemoaned the loss of anthropomorphic comics – once a mainstay of US comicbooks.

When contributors also griped that there wasn’t much sex in comics either, Waller, taking inspiration from R. Crumb’s Fritz the Cat and responding to an intensification of local Blue Laws, created the evocative, erotic dancer and compared her free and easy life-style against a typical, un-elected, interfering know-it-all moral guardian busybody. Blue Laws are particularly odious anti-fun statutes – usually instigated by religious factions – designed to keep the Sabbath holy by dictating shop-opening hours and generally limit or ban adult entertainments like clubs and pubs, and their repressive use (in fact and fiction) became a major narrative engine for the series.

‘Why they Call Her Omaha’ introduces young stripper Susie Jensen who hits the metropolis of Mipple City, Minnesota (a thinly concealed Minneapolis) and signs up with a modelling agency where she meets fellow dancer Shelley Hine. Over lunch they bond and pick a better stage name for the gorgeous but naive newcomer, whilst ‘Kitten of the Month’ and ‘Omaha centrefold’ reveal the first glorious results of her managements efforts. No-holds barred sexual action returns in ‘Shelley and Omaha’ with the girls, now popular erotic dancers, meeting some guys who will play a big part in the unfolding drama to come.

In ‘Chuck and Omaha’, which officially heralded the beginning of scripter Kate Worley’s stunning contribution to the series, Jerry – one those aforementioned pick-up guys – introduces Omaha to Chuck Katt, a shy artist who will become the great love of the sexy kitty’s life. ‘Adventures of Omaha’ sees the budding relationship progress whilst ‘Tip of the Iceberg’ moves the grander story arc along when Mipple bans nipples in the opening shot of a political power-grab using Christian and Family-morality pressure groups as unwitting, if fervent, patsies…

Although it comprises less than 50 pages the preceding material took nearly fifteen years to produce. For years Omaha had no fixed abode; peripatetically wandering from magazine to Indie book and even guest-shots in the occasional mainstream publication. From Kitchen Sink’s Bizarre Sex #9-10 in 1981-2, a pastiche page in E-Man (in 1983 and included in volume 2), Dope Comix #5 (1984), she even starred in a story from Munden’s Bar Annual #2 in 1991. Often stalled for creative, not censorship, reasons Omaha finally won her own title in 1984 from SteelDragon Press, but vanished again until 1986 when Kitchen Sink Press finally took over publication. For further details I strongly advise checking the lovely official website at www.omahathecatdancer.com.

Volume 1 switches to high gear and addictive narrative mode with the 40 page ‘Omaha #0’: a single page recap followed by a powerfully compelling yarn wherein the forces of decency make life increasingly difficult for the adult entertainment industry. With stripper bars closing Omaha is recruited to dance for “The Underground”: an exclusive, ultra-secret, high-class bordello that caters to the darkest desires of America’s ultra-elite of: businessmen and politicians many of whom are actively leading the Decency campaign…

Shelley is involved too, recruiting contacts from her old profession for more hands-on roles. Meanwhile Chuck has reapplied for his old advertising job where his old girlfriend Joanne makes life uncomfortable. However she has other problems as powerful forces are drawing Omaha and Chuck into a far-reaching and sinister scheme…

On opening night all the elements for disaster converge as the “Movers and Shakers” get more debauchery than even they can handle: someone has doped the entire proceedings leading to a violent, destructive orgy and set up cameras to record the whole event for blackmail purposes. As they flee the club hitmen try to kill Chuck but shoot Shelley instead. Believing her dead, Omaha and Chuck run for their lives. Heading for Joanne’s house Chuck reveals that he is the son of Charles Tabey: monomaniacal millionaire businessman, undisputed ruler of Mipple City and the probable target of the assassination…

Narrowly escaping another murder attempt they find Tabey and Joanne are intimately involved and are horrified to find that the millionaire was behind the whole thing, intending to mould Chuck into the kind of son he needs. The man is also clearly raving mad…

The traumatised, terrified young lovers jump into their car and head for California in the short ‘Adventures of Omaha’ vignette and the first volume concludes with the contents of ‘Omaha #1’ as they reach San Francisco tired, hungry and broke.

Grateful for the kindness of strangers, they soon discover Joanne waiting for them and find that Tabey is not their only persecutor. During a drunken three-way another hired killer almost ends them all…

From a well-intentioned, joyous celebration of open living free-loving modernity Omaha had evolved into a captivating adult soap opera and conspiracy thriller of mesmerising intensity and complexity…

Volume 2, with a reprinted introduction by Kate Worley, eases into the enticing adult entertainment with the aforementioned ‘Hotziss Twonkies’ parody from First Comics’ E-Man #5 before issues #2-5 enlarge the sinister saga. In the aftermath of their latest close shave, Chuck and Joanne antagonistically spar whilst the increasingly traumatised cat dancer wanders the streets of San Francisco. When she is abducted by Tabey, who is moving against all his old enemies, Chuck and Joanne fall into bed…

Meanwhile Jerry, who also works for Tabey, is busying sorting the fallout from the club riot and shooting. In a secluded palatial beach-house Omaha discovers that Chuck’s dad has been watching over them for some time and soon discovers another shocking secret….

Omaha was utterly groundbreaking in its mature treatment of gay and disabled relationships; offering the sound and common sense opinion that this is what all people think and do and after all, “it’s just sex”…

Paralysed but not deceased Shelley is also sequestered in the house. She is a long-term Tabey employee and slowly developing a relationship with her nurse Kurt Huddle, and the manic tycoon has convinced Omaha to stay and help care for her. Back in Frisco Chuck has rekindled his old relationship with Joanne, utterly unaware that she has the films and photos taken at the club on that terrible night.

Rob Shaw, gay photographer, enters the picture, as developer and guardian of the contentious materials and old friend of Joanne. Chuck misses Omaha and the tension leads to him splitting with Joanne and moving in with Rob. The cat dancer too is lonely and finds unsatisfactory solace with Jerry again, but when Tabey goes off his meds Jerry arranges for Chuck and Omaha to reunite, leading to a dreadful confrontation between father and long-estranged son, as an apparent result of which the millionaire takes his own life…

Together again at last, Omaha and Chuck comfort each other as the repercussions of Charles Tabey Sr.’s demise shake the country and the cast. The close-knit group endure loss, guilt and outrageous press scrutiny as the matter of inheritance crops up. Against his wishes, Chuck might be incredibly rich and saddled with unwanted responsibilities but there are some unspecified problems with the will.

The plots thicken when Joanne and Rob have a falling out and as all this is going on, back in Mipple City a powerful new threat makes his move. Senator Bonner was one of the patrons at the Underground that fateful night but now he’s making a move for total power, stirring up a wave of fundamentalist hatred and anti-smut indignation with his “Crusade for Decency”…

Volume 3 (covering issues #6-9 and with an introduction by Trina Robbins) follows the action back to Minnesota, but things are difficult for Chuck and Omaha who can’t seem to re-establish their earlier, innocent rapport. They go house-hunting, whilst in San Francisco Rob Shaw is visited by thugs after the photos of the riot at The Underground. His shop destroyed, the photographer narrowly escapes burning with it…

Mipple City’s Blue Laws are more draconian than ever. When Omaha and Shelley, who has moved into the ground floor of the Cat dancer’s new house, visit their old workplace the Kitty Korner, they discovers that the performers now have to dance behind plate glass – which makes tucking punter’s tips into g-strings really tricky…

When old friend Shawn turns up he tells Chuck and Omaha of the plan to redevelop A Block – that part of town where all the artists, musicians and strip clubs are. Something needs to be done to stop it – and now, Chuck might just be the richest, most influential degenerate in town…

As the lovers go furniture shopping Shelley and Kurt look for a suitable physical therapy clinic – preferably a non-religious, non-judgemental un-condescending one – and later whilst Omaha helps Shelley move in, Chuck and Jerry make plans to fight the destruction of A Block, but as ever, there is far more going on than the lovers can imagine…

Omaha wants to get back into dancing and as Chuck becomes increasingly mired in the running of his father’s many businesses, Kurt learns some of Shelley’s murky history and Joanne and Jerry compare notes and make plans.

Rob turns up in Mipple after more attempts on his life, convinced that he needs to find his attackers’ boss before his luck runs out and the book ends on a shocking note for Chuck when he discovers that long-dead mother isn’t…

All these volumes, printed in black and white and at 8½ inches by 11, much larger than the original comicbooks, also contain many full page illustrations (many from the delightful art-book The Erotic Art of Reed Waller). This saga is one of the turning points of comics history – a moment when we could all provably say “this is socially relevant, capital “A” Art” – as viable and important as the best play or film or symphony: don’t miss this opportunity to make the whole marvellous classic yours forever…

© 1978, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987-1996 Reed Waller & Kate Worley. Contents of these editions © 2005-2007 NBM. All Rights Reserved

Bigger Nothings: The Little Nothings Gift Set volumes 1-3


By Lewis Trondheim, translated by Joe Johnson (NBM/ComicsLit)
ISBN: vol. 1: 978-1-56163-523-8 vol. 2: 978-1-56163-548-1 vol. 3: 978-1-56163-576-4
Gift pack ISBN: 978-1-56163-599-3

I first became aware of Lewis Trondheim’s subtly enchanting vignettes in Fantagraphics’ Mome comics anthologies rather than through its internet presence and it’s an utter delight for this old duffer (me, not him) to see this blend of cartoon philosophy, personal introspection, whimsical inquiry and foible-filled observations gathered into such handy tomes for constant re-reading.

With over 100 books sporting his name, (which isn’t actually Lewis Trondheim but Laurent Chabosy) the writer/artist/editor and educator is one of Europe’s most prolific comics creators: illustrating his own work, overseeing animated cartoons of such print successes as La Mouche (The Fly) and Kaput and Zösky and editing the younger readers book series Shampooing for Dargaud.

His most famous works are the global hits ‘Les Formidables Aventures de Lapinot’ (translated as The Spiffy Adventures of McConey) and, with Joann Sfar, the Donjon (Dungeon) series of nested fantasy epics (see the translated Dungeon: Parade, Dungeon: Monstres and Dungeon: the Early Years).

In his spare time he has written for satirical magazine Psikopat and provided scripts for many of the continent’s most popular artists – such as Fabrice Parme (Le Roi Catastrophe, Vénézia), Manu Larcenet (Les Cosmonautes du futur), José Parrondo (Allez Raconte and Papa Raconte) and Thierry Robin (Petit Père Noël),

He is a cartoonist of uncanny wit, piercing, gentle perspicacity, comforting affability and self-deprecating empathy and prefers to control scrupulously what is known and said about him…

A little while ago the well-travelled graphic introvert began drawing a deliciously intimate cartoon blog wherein all the people Trondheim knows are rendered as anthropomorphised  animals (with him a dowdy, parrot-beaked actor/director) which has been edited into a series of enchanting full-colour albums. Page after page of introspective, whimsical, querulous and enticingly intriguing reportage has emerged since, and thanks, presumably, to the global recession you can now pick up the first three in an extremely economical bargain gift pack…

Volume 1, The Curse of the Umbrella, features ruminations on gardening and possessing a vegetable death-touch, introduces his family, examines the love-hate relationship with technology and computer games and covers the dramas of becoming first time cat-owners at an advanced age. Hypochondria and the internet’s impact as an enabler of such recurs, as do work-processes for the self-employed, keeping fit, snacks, memory, death, bird-poop, the weather and travel to comics events in exotic locations such as the Reunion Islands and Edinburgh. The daily bulletins explore little events and really big themes and there are also purely visual moments that you just have to see to get…


In volume 2, The Prisoner Syndrome, the cascade of cartoon delights continues with more of the same whilst adding summer beach madness, floating with the fishes, exploring volcanoes, ecology and hotel wastefulness, comic convention memory (so different from the regular kind). There’s animal antics, travel, energy-saving, visiting Africa, Guadeloupe, Romania and London, the differences between men and women, global political crises and the heartbreaking helplessness and inevitable consequences of seeing your pet die.


Uneasy Happiness, the third and final volume in this collected set, sees the bird-faced gentleman amicably nit-picking and further musing his way through the life of an old and successful comic creator: travelling to conventions, making stories and dealing with the distressingly peculiar modern world, especially focusing on his increasing hoarding proclivities, concerns over his creative and financial legacy, mice in the bookshelves and packing…

The ruminations and anti-dramas regularly range from his inability to de-clutter (every comic maven’s weakness!), toilet etiquette (public and private), gadgets, marriage, parenthood, the actual science in TV shows, how mad cats are, brilliant ideas that come when you’re asleep, computers, and getting old, interspersed with reactions to the many wonderful places he has visited on the comics convention circuit (Venice, Portugal, Fiji, Australia and others in this volume).

All genteelly re-coloured for book publication, these Little Nothings have become some of my favourite 21st century graphic novels; gently contemplative, subtly pleasing…

I strongly suggest that if you need a little non-theological, un-theosophical yet hilariously existential spiritual refreshment you take advantage of this fortuitous collection with the utmost alacrity…

© 2010 Trondheim. English translation © 2010 NBM. All Rights Reserved.

The Death of Groo the Wanderer (Marvel Graphic Novel #32)


By Sergio Aragonés, Mark Evanier, Stan Sakai & Tom Luth (Epic/Marvel)
ISBN: 0-87135-290-7

Groo is a living paradox: a brilliant fighting man and unbeatable warrior sell-sword and simultaneously the dumbest collection of organic molecules on the planet. Always hungry, he wanders because most places where he pauses burn down, wash away or crash into rubble soon after he gets there. He loves to fight and the entire world trembles at the mention of his name. They do the same when they smell him too…

Produced in unique fashion by Sergio Aragonés, wordsmith Mark Evanier, letterer Stan Sakai (creator of Usagi Yojimbo) and colourist Tom Luth, the idiot’s adventures form one of the longest running humour comicbook series in America and there seems to be no chance of stopping the creators as long as we keep buying these incredible, hilarious sagas…

Both in comic narrative and the infinitely more strenuous field of gag-cartooning Sergio Aragonés has produced vast volumes of excellent work. His darkly skewed sensibilities and grasp of the cosmically absurd, wedded to a totally unique, anarchically meticulous drawing style and frankly terrifying professional discipline, have made his (usually) silent doodles a vibrant proof of the maxims that laughter is universal and a picture is worth a thousand words.

After working for years for Mad Magazine and DC’s horror titles on gag features and the occasional full comic strip, in 1981 with writer and associate Mark Evanier, Aragonés produced a madcap four-page parody of the Sword-and-Sorcery genre as a contribution to the Creators Rights benefit comicbook Destroyer Duck published by Eclipse Comics.

Following a second outing in Mike Grell’s Starslayer (#5) Pacific Comics launched Groo the Wanderer in his own title. After 8 issues (December 1982-April 1984) the troubled company folded but the unsinkable barbarian (that’s a joke I’ll explain later) resurfaced in the Groo Special one-shot from Eclipse (October 1984), before finding a home at Epic Comics: Archie Goodwin’s creator-owned corner of the Marvel Universe.

Aragonés first created his witless warrior in the 1970s but no publisher would take on the property unless he sold all rights – an almost universal situation in the industry until the advent of the Direct Sales market transferred power from companies and distributors to creators and consumers. After an uproarious 120 issue run at Epic, and dozens of graphic novel compilations, the witless wonder moved on to Image and Dark Horse Comics, but they haven’t completely gone belly-up yet…

This all original volume from 1987 reintroduces readers to the smelliest, ugliest, stupidest itinerant mercenary in the world. Luckily he’s also the best swordsman in creation and too thick to be harmed because when he shuffles his unshod, dirty feet into the domain of King Krag he inadvertently encounters a thoroughly nasty man with a good many reasons to psychotically hate him…

At that time the kingdom was being ravaged by a colossal dragon, but as the only man on the planet crazy enough to fight it has a huge bounty on his head, how stupid would he have to be to come and attempt to kill it? – and if you’re having difficulty answering that, either you’ve not been paying attention or Groo has found a new apprentice…

Due to the kind of circumstance-concatenation that only happens in this series, everybody in the land of Groo-haters thinks the oaf is finally dead – even Groo – but with all the folk who have ever suffered at his hands gathered in one place they all start to realise that a world without Groo just isn’t the same…

Fear not however: order, if not sense, is eventually restored – but only after a grand display of confusions, contusions, conflagrations, conflicts, pratfalls, pitfalls, punch-lines and punch-ups. There’s even a little room left over for a soupcon of romance (Mmmm, Soup! Mmmm, leftovers…)

Published in the extravagant, luxurious over-sized 285mm x 220mm European album format which allows even more room for the artist’s tireless tornado of visual gags and graphitti this is a masterpiece of mirth and madness that comedy addicts will love and the great strength of the series is that new readers can start practically anywhere – and still be none the wiser…

Oh yeah, that sinking thing: among his other lack of abilities Groo cannot travel by ship. He’s not sea-sick or anything – it’s just that his physical presence on a nautical apparatus of any sort causes it to sink – and this book has one of the very best riffs on that running (swimming? sinking?) gag I’ve ever seen…
© 1987 Sergio Aragonés. All Rights Reserved.

Judge Dredd: The Apocalypse War


By John Wagner, Alan Grant, Carlos Ezquerra & various (Titan Books)
ISBN: 978-1-84023-634-7

Britain’s last great comic megastar might be described as a combination of the other two, combining the fantastic science and adventure of Dan Dare with the unrelentingly seditious anarchy and absurdity of Dennis the Menace. He’s also well on the way to becoming the longest-lasting adventure character in our admittedly meagre home-grown comics stable, having been continually published every week since February 1977 when he first appeared in the second issue of science-fiction anthology 2000AD.

However with at least 52 2000AD strips a year, annuals, specials, a newspaper strip (in the Daily Star and later The Metro), the Judge Dredd Megazine, numerous reprinted classic comics collections and even two rather appalling DC Comics spin-off titles, that adds up to a phenomenal amount of material, most of which is still happily in print from Rebellion.

One of the most attractive packages and certainly one of the most compelling is this sharply stylish black and white deluxe hardcover collection featuring one of the greatest storylines in the entire canon.

Judicial Briefing: Dredd and his dystopian ultra-metropolis of Mega-City One were created by a very talented committee including Pat Mills, Kelvin Gosnell, Carlos Ezquerra, Mike McMahon and others but with the major contribution coming from legendary writer John Wagner, who has written the largest portion of the canon under his own and several pseudonymous names.

Joe Dredd is a fanatically dedicated Judge in the super-city, where hundreds of millions of citizens idle away their days in a world where robots are cheaper and more efficient than humans and jobs are both beloved pastimes and treasured commodities. Boredom and madness has reached epidemic proportions and almost everybody is just one askance glance away from mental meltdown. Judges are last-ditch peacekeepers who maintain order at all costs: investigating, taking action and instantly trying all crimes and disturbances to the hard-won equilibrium of the constantly boiling melting pot. Justice is always immediate and final…

They are necessary fascists in a world permanently on the edge of catastrophe, and sadly, what far too many readers never realise is that the strip is a gigantic satirical black comedy leavened with oodles of outrageous, vicarious cathartic action.

Dredd’s world is a polluted and precarious Future Tense with all the key analogues for successful science fiction (as ever a social looking-glass for the times it’s created in) situated and sharply attuned to a Cold War Consumer Civilisation. The planet is divided into political camps with Post-nuclear holocaust America locked in a slow death-struggle with the Sov Judges of the old Eastern Communist blocs: militaristic, oppressive and totalitarian – and that’s by the US Judges’ standards, so just imagine what they’re like…

In 1981 Progs (that’s issue numbers to you) #236-244 featured a nine-part story ‘Block Mania’ which detailed an all-out war between two colossal habitation blocks in Mega-City One. With weekly instalments illustrated by Mike McMahon, Ron Smith, Steve Dillon and Brian Bolland (who also supplied some incredible covers) the all-out confrontation between Enid Blyton and Dan Tanna Blocks rapidly proliferated, engulfing surrounding Hab-units, spreading like a plague – or a chemical weapon.

Against a backdrop of utter berserker carnage Dredd discovers a plot by Sov agents to destabilise Mega-City One…

For once the Judge is too late and as his city burns the Dictatorat of East-Meg One launch a nuclear strike, following up with a ground-forces invasion. The Judges hit back with their own nukes and terrified of global Armageddon Mega-City Two and Texas City declare themselves neutral. Mega-City One will stand or fall alone…

Over forty years after the Battle of Britain ‘The Apocalypse War’ stunned and delighted readers. This epic tale of dogged resistance and bloody pyrrhic victory is a masterpiece of drama and tragedy, with Carlos Ezquerra drawing all 26 weekly chapters (even some covers!), and three decades later it still ranks as one of the greatest Dredd tales ever published.

Spectacular, violent, epic and leading to almost incomprehensible actions from someone most readers still considered a “hero” and “good guy” this is as powerful an anti-war story as Pat Mills and Joe Colquhoun’s Charley’s War and deserves as much acclaim and respect.

This volume collects the entire saga and its prequel Block War into one mesmerising and compelling work of glittering triumph and dark tragedy, and should grace the shelves of every serious fan of the medium – and the message.
® & © 2003 Rebellion. All rights reserved.

The Groo Garden


By Sergio Aragonés, Mark Evanier & Stan Sakai (Epic/Marvel)
ISBN: 978-0-78510-026-3

Both in comic narrative and the infinitely trickier field of gag-cartooning Sergio Aragonés has produced uncountable volumes of excellent work. His darkly skewed sensibilities and death-grip on the cosmically absurd, wedded to a totally unique drawing style and frankly terrifying professional discipline have made his (usually) silent doodles a vibrant proof of the maxims that laughter is universal and a picture is worth a thousand words.

After working for years for Mad Magazine and DC’s horror titles on gag features and the occasional full comic strip in 1981, with writer and associate Mark Evanier, Aragonés produced a madcap four-page parody of the Sword-and-Sorcery genre as a contribution to the Creators Rights benefit comicbook Destroyer Duck published by Eclipse Comics.

Following a second outing in Mike Grell’s Starslayer (#5) Pacific Comics launched Groo the Wanderer in his own title. After 8 issues (December 1982-April 1984) the troubled company folded but the unsinkable barbarian (that’s a joke I’ll explain later) resurfaced in the Groo Special one-shot from Eclipse (October 1984), before finding a home at Epic Comics: Archie Goodwin’s creator-owned corner of the Marvel Universe.

Aragonés had first created his witless warrior in the 1970s but no publisher would take on the property unless he sold all rights – an almost universal situation in the industry until the advent of the Direct Sales market transferred power from companies and distributors to creators and consumers.

The character is arguably the most successful creator-owned property of the American comic-book market, and this seventh volume (of 27 thus far) collects issues #25-28 (March-May 1987) from the Epic incarnation, with the itinerant idiot fully established in a capacious and vast feudal landscape of wizards, warriors, wild women and weird beasts. With a burgeoning supporting cast, Aragonés and his co-conspirators have plenty of wonky, misshapen leg-room to experiment with narrative and visual merry-making…

For the slow of mind however let me recapitulate:

Groo is the smelliest, ugliest, stupidest unluckiest mercenary in the world – but he’s also the best swordsman in creation and far too stupid to be harmed. He is always hungry and wanders because most places he pause in burn down, wash away or crash into rubble soon after he arrives. He loves to fight and entire nations and navies reel at the mention of his name. Of course they do the same when they stand downwind of him too…

The volume opens with ‘Divide and Conquer’ as the unemployable oaf has something similar to an idea and quite effectively foments unrest between relatively peaceful kingdoms in the hope that somebody will hire him to quell the unrest – with the usual catastrophic results, whilst two sinister sorceresses who really should know better are forced to employ the him again in ‘Arba Dakarba’, shrinking the wandering warrior to the size of his own intellect to steal a wishing amulet.

‘Spies’ places Groo in the background as The Sage and The Minstrel are captured by an army and accused of espionage. To forestall their executions the pair entertain the Commanding General with stories of the worst soldier in existence, but unlike Scheherazade, no tale of Groo can ever have a happy – or safe – ending. Then this chronicle concludes with ‘The Gourmet Kings!’ as the ever-ravenous reaving rover’s always empty stomach leads him to gainful employment and chef-stealing. Naturally the whole affair leads to an excess of chopping, slicing and dicing all around…

Marvelously cynical, wildly witty and stunningly silly Groo is the comic that people who hate comics read: brilliantly tongue-in-cheek, sharply sarcastic and devastatingly self-deprecating. An irresistible humour tour-de-force astoundingly scribed and illustrated by jesters who don’t know when – or how – to stop. New readers can start practically anywhere – and still be none the wiser…

The unstoppable brain-donor (Groo, not Aragones or even wordsmith Evanier, letterer Stan Sakai or colourist Tom Luth) has since rambled on to shut down Image Comics and now threatens to finish off Dark Horse, but as they haven’t completely gone belly-up yet there’s still plenty of material for you to track down…
© 1987, 1994 Sergio Aragonés. All Rights Reserved.

Walt Disney’s Donald Duck Adventures: Voodoo Hoodoo


By Carl Barks (Gladstone Comic Album #16)

ISBN: 0-944599-15-X

Carl Barks was the greatest armchair (and drawing board) adventurer of his generation. A dedicated and voracious researcher who loved exploration and thrived on local colour and detail in his work, he seamlessly blended history, geography and the natural world into his rollicking rip-roaring light-thrillers. All Barks’ spectacular yarns were screened through a mesmerising lens of wonder and excitement and executed with riotous bursts of outrageous comedy that appealed to fun-starved fans of all ages. They still do.

From the 1940’s to the1960s Barks worked in seclusion, concocting a timeless treasure trove of golden myths and fables (ostensibly) for kids; forging a cohesive Duck Universe stuffed with memorable and highly bankable characters such as Uncle Scrooge McDuck, Gladstone Gander, the Beagle Boys, Gyro Gearloose, and Magica De Spell to augment the stable of cartoon actors from the Disney Studio, but his most exciting work always involved the rowdy, know-it-all nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie and their irascible, excitable, indomitable “unca” Donald Duck.

The boys’ assigned roles were as sensible, precocious and just-a-little-bit snotty counterfoils to their guardian whose intemperate nature caused him to act like an overgrown brat most of the time, but they often fell prey to a perpetual and natural temptation to raise a ruckus as well: clearly something in the genes…

West Coast publishing giant Dell/Gold Key held the license to produce comic-books based on Disney properties from the 1940s, generating a vast treasure-trove of graphic wonderment before grinding to a close in the early 1980s. Fan-based publishers Gladstone began re-releasing Barks material and a selection of other Disney comics classics at the end of the decade and this album is one of the best.

Whilst producing all that landmark material Barks considered himself just a working guy, drawing eye-catching covers, illustrating other people’s scripts to order yet still setting the bar for his compatriots with utterly perfect tales that added to the burgeoning canon of Donald Duck and other Disney properties. His output was incredible in terms of quantity and especially in its unfailingly high quality.

Printed in the large European oversized format (278mm x 223mm) this chilling departure into the realms of the unknown reprints one of his eeriest masterpieces with the lead tale from Dell Four Color Comics #238 (August 1949) and sees the author once more accessing darker themes via the sinister delights of horror movies – albeit seductively tempered with Barks’ winningly absurd humour (for more of the same see also Donald Duck Adventures: Ancient Persia).

Duckburg is all in a tizzy when a hulking undead brute begins loitering around town. Eventually Bombie the Zombie delivers a poisoned devil-doll to Donald which apparently makes him start to shrink. Zombies aren’t particularly smart and he/it had been trying for years to deliver the potent vengeance of his witch-doctor master Foola Zoola to the duck that swindled him … and unfortunately Donald looks a lot like Scrooge McDuck did seventy years ago!

Not believing in curses Uncle Scrooge is less than sympathetic but after experiencing the pester-power of Donald and the nephews he grudgingly funds an expedition to Africa to set things right. And only then do their troubles really begin…

Wacky and deeply satirical this tale was the subject of some controversy after it was first published, with Barks’ evolving drawing style skirting jarringly close to some pretty prejudicial and unwholesome racial stereotypes of the time, and considering the target audience it is a pretty scary story in a lot of places, but as ever, the wildly over-the-top madcap humour keeps everything addictively comforting and compelling.

Filling out this volume is another spooky fantasy fable starring Donald and the boys with a far more prominent role for their Bajillionaire relative as the entire family check out his latest acquisition. Scrooge has bought a castle in Scotland because a legendary treasure is hidden within it, but ‘McMerganser Macabre’ (from Donald Duck #26 November 1952) proves the old adage “buyer beware” as the old pile also seems to have an extremely agitated ghost as an unwelcome squatter…

However even when running for their lives and dodging certain death Huey, Dewey and Louie are pretty sure all is not as it seems…

Breathtaking and supremely hilarious this is a sheer graphic treat for fans of comics in their purest and most enticing form and still readily available from a number of online retailers, but even if you can’t find this specific volume most of Barks’ work is readily accessible through a number of publications and outlets.

As everything he’s ever done is well worth reading, no matter what your age or temperament, you’ve nothing to lose and all to gain by tracking down Barks’ captivating creations; so please do do – or experience the repercussions of the Voodoo Hoodoo…
© 1989, 1949 The Walt Disney Company. All Rights Reserved.

Boneyard volume 7


By Richard Moore (NBM)
ISBN: 978-1-56163-583-2

Michael Paris shares his life with a hot vampire chick, a werewolf, an over-sexed fish-woman, assorted demons and monsters. But somehow, these are the good guys and they are often beset by truly wicked monsters with properly evil intentions. For example, there’s the US government, or the creature that keeps beheading counsellors at the kid’s summer camp across the way, or what about that creepy Pumpkin head guy who magics you unconscious then desecrates your dreams?

The peculiar sub-genre of horror/comedy was in safe hands with Richard Moore, whose light, deft touch combines traditional cartooning with spot-on slapstick, surreal humour, and a touch of contemporary cynicism. He can also imbue his abhuman cast with stunning humanity when necessary. So it’s a huge pity that, for the moment at least, the delightfully outrageous cast of Boneyard are going on indefinite hiatus.

Young Paris – don’t call him Michael, he hates it – after years of crappy living and poor fortune finally had a lucky break. Not only did he inherit property from his reclusive grandfather, but the residents of picturesque little hamlet Raven Hollow were desperate to buy it from him, sight unseen. When he took possession he found once more that if anything looks too good to be true There’s generally a sound reason for it.

The property was a cemetery named The Boneyard and not everything within its walls was content to stay dead. Firstly there’s Abby, a beautiful, lovely, pretty and so very capable vampire chick, as well as a sex-starved, foul-mouthed skeleton, a demon with delusions of grandeur, a werewolf who thinks he’s a James Dean, a witch, a hulking Frankensteinian monster and even smart-ass talking gargoyles over the gate. Most worrying of all: There’s even the voluptuous, married amphibian who adds worlds of meaning to the phrase “man-eater.”

The place is a refuge for the restless dead and every sort of Halloween horror, but somehow they all seem more human and friendly than the off-kilter townsfolk and the succession of unpleasant characters, supernatural and otherwise, determined to close down the corpse-filled playground.

Overcoming all odds – including the devil himself – and surviving the cosmic embarrassment of ruining the formal ball of the supreme Over-God of the universe

Paris and Abby are seconds away from taking their painfully coy and cautious relationship to another level – maybe even “the next one” – when the imaginary playmate from his lonely childhood appears.

It appears that not only is Lita real, real cute and a princess of Faerie, but since her dad has ordered her to wed the evil Dark Prince of the Unseelie Court, she wants sanctuary and to marry the one being that really loved her.

Of course Paris was only eight then…

When the Faerie warriors turn up thing get rather nasty and Paris and Lita are captured and imprisoned in the Elvin Kingdoms, and Abby and her Boneyard helpmates have to rescue him – Lita too, if he asks nicely – but first they’re going to need a few allies of their own…

This seventh and momentarily final volume reprints the final issues of the independent comic book in stunning black and white as this charming, sly and irresistibly addictive series comes to a natural pause (one day to return in all its warm-hearted, comedy-of-terrors glory: I wish, I hope, I pray…) but until then Boneyard remains a must-have for Horrorists, Humorists and especially Romantics with an open mind.

One the best humour series to come out of the States since Charles Addams first started reporting from that spooky old house in the 1940s, this touching and wickedly funny epic should grace every fan’s bookshelf.

© 2010 Richard Moore. All Rights Reserved.