Crossroads Alpha: Indie Haven Muse Hack Psycho Drive-In Seventh Sanctum

Comic Eye

A comic review article by: Jason Sacks
You and me, we’re members of a cult. We’re in a secret society, part of a small, select group of people who know the magic of Wednesdays and the jobs of a great TPB. The word “con” is a good word in our lexicon, and we know the power of a good inker. We’re a bit of an open secret as a cult, but we’re fierce about our passion for this much maligned but suddenly fashionable object of desire.

The creators in this book are also members of the same cult. There are no fewer than 50 separate stories by a similar number of creators contained in this 176-page book, behind a cover by the great Dave Sim. Many of these creators are not well known, but most deliver work that is solid and interesting. How could they not? They’re talking about the topic of our mutual passion: comic books.

The theme in this book is for comics cartoonists to create strips about comics. Readers get a vast range of strips--from two typically charming “Little Freddy” strips by Fred Hembeck to Joe Ollman’s grimly funny depiction of himself as a comic book junkie; from Earl Geier’s delightful exploration of the Archie Comics line of hero comics and their effect on his young psyche to George McVey’s interesting meditation on how creating comics art helps him shut out the chaos of his daily life.

There are many other wonderful comics in this book.

As a big fan of Will Eisner, I especially enjoyed Mark Askwith and Rick Taylor’s meditation on the greatness of “The Spirit.” They quite intelligently chose not to copy Eisner’s unique style in their story. Instead, they present the story as an inner meditation that I found fascinating.

Noel Tuazon’s “Last Signing” presents a tall tale of comics convention life in a dynamic and funny way. It has an oddly bleak ending that I think takes away from the story, but the art and pacing are wonderful.

Then there’s “Burn, Evil Comics, Burn” by Dave Darrigo and Ron Hobbs, which delivers a satirical kick in the pants to the jerks who hated EC Comics by presenting them as characters in an EC horror story.

And there’s a clever and quite postmodern piece by Terry Pavlet that deconstructs* a western shootout scene. (Editor’s note: Jason’s editor is leaving this use of “deconstructs” alone for now even though a certain message board administrator will likely jump all over it.)

Matt Feazell, master of the stick figure comics, delivers a typically madcap three-page tale of the “Board of Superheroes” that satirizes comic con life. Feazell’s art never fails to make me smile, and this story is no exception.

Larry Johnson’s “Not School Work” is a nice autobiographical piece that talks about how his passion for comics gained him popularity and confidence while he was in school.

Michael Gilbert delivers a one-page story about the delicious irony that Bob Wood, cartoonist on the comic Crime Does Not Pay was found guilty of murdering his girlfriend in 1958.

I could go on and on with examples of nice stories in this book. Hopefully, though, my brief descriptions of a few of these stories have given you a feel for the diverse and creative pieces that you’ll find in this book. You may not know all the artists in it, but you will certainly enjoy most of their work. After all, we’re all in the same cult.

Available from http://www.markinnes.com

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