One of the things I enjoy most about Mid-Ohio-Con is I get to see my friends Chris Yambar, George Broderick Jr. and Ken Wheaton. These talented guys always have something new and cool for me when I see them at the show and this year was no exception.
Their Popeye Picnic #1 [Premium Pop Comics; #5] is the official souvenir comic book of the Popeye Picnic held every year in Chester, Illinois. Chester is where Popeye creator Elzie Segar grew up and where he created Popeye and all the other great Thimble Theater characters.
In the first of two stories written by Yambar for this comic, an errant spinach can to the noggin sends Popeye back to the past. He meets Segar and the real-life inspirations for himself and other Segar characters. The funny, heartwarming and lively tale is drawn by Broderick.
The second story has Popeye and crew - Olive, Wimpy, and even Castor Oyl - visiting Chester for the annual picnic, doing a bit of local sightseeing, and taking part in the festivities. Bluto and the Sea Hag are also in Chester, but, like their longtime enemies, they just want to enjoy the picnic and everything else the town has to offer. Terrific art by Broderick (layouts) and Wheaton (pencils and inks), and a warm moment for Castor make this another wonderful tale. Segar would be proud.
This 32-page black-and-white comic book also has a puzzle page by George Wildman, a pin-up by Hy Eisman, and a couple pages of ads from local businesses, which actually added to the charm of the overall package. It earns the full five out of five Tonys because I yam what I yam, a fan of Popeye and a fan of Yambar, Broderick, and Wheaton.
Every year, Broderick's Cool Yule Comics publishes a brand-new full-color comic book for Christmas. For 2009, it's Ed McCray's Jill Chill and the Christmas Star [$7.95]. Jill is the female and nicer version of Jack Frost. She's appeared in two children's books written by McCray and illustrated by Broderick, but this is her first comic book...and what a comic book it is!
The Christmas Star, the sentient little star who guides Santa on his holiday rounds and who reminds people of the true meaning of Christmas, falls from the sky. He asks Jill to help him regain his rightful place in the heavens. But the sinister Baron Polar Von Iceberg is determined to make the Star his own, even if it destroys Christmas. It's an exciting 50-page adventure packed with bright fuzzy moments, hilarious action, clever wordplay, and suitable-for-all-ages thrills. I especially got a kick out of Iceberg's hapless henchmen, Frostbite, and his exchanges with his boss.
Baron: Don't you be a wise guy...or I'll see you get a pair of cement shoes for Christmas!
Frostbite: Does this mean I'll be sleeping with the fishes again? Oh, how I miss spending quality time with my pet goldfish, Silver!
Some of Jill's escapes from the Baron's traps don't sit right me because they rely on sheer luck or sudden coincidence, but they didn't bother me enough to diminish my enthusiasm for this special comic book. Written by McCray and drawn by Broderick, it picks up a commendable four out of five Tonys.
George also gave me a copy of last year's holiday comic book, Christmas Eve Winter Carnival [Cool Yule; $7.95]. It's 52 pages of adventure and comedy with the first lady of Yuletide Cheer and her friends: fairies Holly, Noel, and Carol; Ol' Tannebaum, the talking Christmas Tree; philanthropist Eben Geezer, and many other delightful characters.
Broderick is a one-man show in this comic book. He wrote it, drew it, inked it, lettered it, colored it, and probably turned the wheels of the printing press, too. It earns the full five out of five Tonys.
It would be nice if all our friendly neighborhood comics shops carried these excellent comic books. However, since we know many of them don't, let me direct you to websites where you can buy them directly from the creators:
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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