Comic-Con International 2004 is over as you read these words, but it hasn't even started as I write them. Did the comics outfits announce exciting new projects during the event? Did the Hollywood types pick up a slew of movie options? Did the convention set yet another new attendance record? The answers to those questions are, for me, days away.
Did comics fans have a good time at Comic-Con? Did the comics pros have a good and successful convention? Did my friends enjoy themselves? Are they bringing back any presents for me? Again, I won't have the answers to these questions for days.
What I do have is a pair of comics reviews for you. Because I wasn't kidding around when I said TOT was resuming its original daily schedule. God help us all!
In COMIC PARTY VOLUME 1 [ToykoPop; $9.99], college student Sendoh takes his first steps into the world of doijinshi - unofficial, amateur manga which often features new stories of existing anime/manga characters. He finds a new outlet for his art when a friend takes him to his first "comic party," a convention where amateur creators sell their self-published comics to an eager audience. Japanese publishers look the other way at the rampant copyright violations, seeing these amateur efforts as a training ground for their future creators.
COMIC PARTY is schizophrenic. Sendoh's new-found passion and its effects - often negative - on his life are more interesting to me than the exaggerated slapstick which writer/artist Sekihiko Inui inserts into his convention sequences. I love the human interest elements, but the humor of an angry girlfriend swinging a nail-studded baseball bat is utterly lost on me.
This volume has 11 pages of special features, including a welcome glossary of manga terms, a short explanation of "cosplay" (costume playing), and a selection of "cosplay" photos. It's a satisfying package for your ten bucks.
MAD #443 [E.C. Publications; $3.50] keeps with the magazine's grand tradition of cashing in on Hollywood blockbusters by mocking them within an inch of their lives. Harry Potter - or, as parody writer Desmond Devlin would have it, Harry Plodder - is the cover feature. The spoof of the new Potter movie started out slowly, two pages of cast introductions by song with excessive pimples added to the young actors by artist Hermann Meija, but picked up after that and enticed a honest chuckle or two from me. A funny dig at Sean Hannity surprised me. I don't recall such casual political humor in the mag when I was a regular reader or on my infrequent readings since then.
MAD is a mixed bag. Some material is annoyingly repetitive - a spoof of QUEER EYE FOR THE STRAIGHT GUY offered nothing but the predicable gags - and some fairly clever. The best features in the issue were "Special Edition Games and Toys We'd Like To See" and the Marc Hempel-drawn "The Mad World of High-Tech Communications." I also enjoyed the Barry Liebmann "How Gay Marriages Really Affect You" with terrific art by Paul Coker; it was humorous and profound, always a welcome combination.
On the downside, old stalwart "Spy Vs. Spy" hasn't been funny since creator Antonio Prohias passed away. The feature should have been retired years ago.
MAD, arguably the iconic American humor magazine, still has enough zing in it to make it worth checking out from time to time. That's true even for older readers like me who have to watch their zing levels very carefully.
New TONY POLLS questions for the week of July 26 were posted today. Following up on last week's Emmy Awards nominations for the outstanding comedy series, outstanding lead and supporting actors and actress in a comedy series, and outstanding variety, music, or comedy series, this week's polls ask you to make your picks in the drama categories. Cast your ballots at:
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.
ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.
TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?
THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.
FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?
FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.
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