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Iconic

Posted: Wednesday, May 27, 2009
By: Jason Cohen

Various
Various
Comicbook Artists Guild
[Editor’s Note: The Comicbook Artists Guild is planning to release Iconic at MoCCA Fest, a popular comic art festival sponsored by the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art. The event is being held June 6 and 7, 2009 at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York City. The following is an early review.]

In the new graphic novel Iconic, a grandfather--who wears a rather familiar lightning bolt (wink)--tells several stories to his grandchildren as he attempts to prove that literature is better than video games. These pages with the grandfather and his grandchildren serve as a nice framing device for the ten stories as the reader gets the nostalgic sense of being read bedtime stories as a kid.

“First in Flight” tells the story of two kids named Billy and Mary (wink wink) learning the truth about Gustave Whitehead, the man who beat the Wright brothers in flying. Initially, this story seemed interesting as a sort of “what if.” However, I then discovered that Whitehead was a real person, and he really did fly first! Who says comics never taught us anything?

“The Life of Mark Twain” is a paraphrased biography of Samuel Clemens, but instead of expanding on his life, it simply feels like an excerpt from a textbook. It was short, and that may be its greatest flaw because it was interesting. It just wasn’t interesting enough to prove its necessity in this book.

“George & the Monsters” tells the story of a boy who is afraid of the boogeyman in his closet. His toys are alive and watch over him, which draws out some similarities between this and the recent Stuff of Legend comic that Th3rd World Studios released on Free Comic Book Day. However “George & the Monsters” is a much more kid-friendly adventure.

“How Setanta was Named” is a lighthearted retelling of the mythological Irish figure Cúchulainn. It is rare to see a Gaelic tale in comic books, but this story and its all-ages structure make it a very interesting read.

“Repercussions” is a small window into the world of Sherlock Holmes, but from there it goes a different way. It is quite the “what if” story, but may be a little confusing if this is a reader’s first interaction with the world of Sherlock Holmes.

“Of Christmas Past” is an interesting sequel to Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, The ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge pays a visit to his nephew to try to prevent him from ruining his life. This story may have the biggest “lesson learned” vibe to it.

“Prometheus and the Fire of Tomorrow” may be the most expansive and mature story in this collection. It’s the tale of too scientific colleagues who begin to fight over the purpose of science. Daniel believes science is for the world while Richard thinks science can be used to create profit and power. It’s a real page-turner and has a rather bleak-but-hopeful ending.

“John Henry: America’s First Superhero” tells the story of a government official who is investigating the unsafe working conditions of a railroad company. He stumbles upon the story of John Henry. The story’s chronology is a little confusing, but it’s one of the more inspiring pieces in this collection.

“The Life and Death of Talos the Bronze” is a comical interpretation of the Greek legend of Talos, the guardian of the island of Crete. The story follows the myth with great accuracy, but keeps it entertaining and funny for kids.

“Outlaws of Industry” is an interesting tale of workers who rebel against a tyrannical mine owner. The formation of a worker’s union greatly mirrors Robin Hood and his Merrymen, and it makes for an interesting 1880’s version of the familiar story.

The black and white illustrations in all the stories help create a timeless sense to these tales. Throughout this collection, the art differs from story to story, but none of it really becomes distracting. In fact, some of the illustrations become the driving force behind their respective story.

The book ends with a bizarre revelation as we see that the grandfather has been reading the book we have in our hands. Iconic is a book of all-ages stories geared toward entertaining children while simultaneously teaching them about history and literature. The little boy asks the grandfather if there is “any chance you’ll come back and read to us some more?”

I can agree, I want more, too, because the possibilities are endless. A book like this revitalizes our love for comic books and literature in general by jumpstarting our imagination and sparking that excitement we feel when we turn the page. This is a great book for kids and adults, so share it with everyone you can, and I hope we will see more of this in the future.

You can click here to order a copy of Iconic for yourself.



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