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Comics from the past: N through S

Part 3 of 4 in a series of brief summary-reviews of comic books I’ve read in the past. This article covers titles beginning with N though S. I’ve also denoted recommended comics with the lightbulb ( 💡 ) icon.

💡 Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind, by Hayao Miyazaki. I had resisted animé for a long time, ’till Kam showed me the animated version of Nausicaä. What had grabbed my attention was how the protagonist secretly and meticulously worked in her underground laboratory. After watching that (along with the complex post-apocolyptic theme), I had to get my hands on the manga, which turned out to have an even broader and deeper storyline than in the movie. I loved reading about how her close bond with nature affected herself as well as other people.

The Neighborhood and Ballard Street, by Jerry Van Amerongen. I used to read The Neighborhood often, but it stopped running in 1991. It’s been replaced by Ballard Street, but I don’t read it much since I’ve fallen out of the habit of reading most strips. As with Piraro’s Bizarro, Van Amerongen has a good handle on the use of non sequitor.

💡 Norb, written by Daniel M. Pinkwater and illustrated by Tony Auth. The quirky adventures of an elderly man, a girl named Rat, and a white mastadon. What’s not to miss? (Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find a copy of this out-of-print book.)

The Odd Adventure Zine, by Ty and Ian Smith. Moe is an investigator of the odd: His cases range from a giant mutant armadillo to a mad taxidermist. Nifty retro styled illustration with some amusing plots.

Preacher, written by Garth Ennis and illustrated by Steven Dillon. In a word, gleh. In several words, I hoped for something more from a story about a preacher possessed by the child of a demon and angel. With a vampire, a woman with guns, inbred mutants, and nasties from supernatural and religious establishments, what I got was too much.

💡 Quicken Forbidden, by Dave Roman and John Green. Jax is a teenage girl in a modern day Alice in Wonderland-like adventure. A riveting mix of reality levels.

💡 Sandman, written by Neil Gaiman with illustrations by multiple artists. The sullen, moody anthropomorphic personification of dreams gets trapped. Then escapes. Then deals with repercussions from being holed away for so long. Then deals with personal and family issues. It’s a superb collection of intertwined arcs. So’s the art, for the most part. As an example of how artwork continually amazes me: I had never liked Marc Hempel’s Gregory, but his work for the Kindly Ones storyline pleasantly surprised me.

Skeleton Key, by Andi Watson. This series describes the interesting relationship between Kitsune, a fox-human from Shinto legend, and Tamsin, a teenaged goth-jock-chick (a jarring but nifty clash of traits!). Complications arise when they make use of a skeleton key that opens doors to other dimensions. The artwork, influenced by both 1980s indie comics and manga, develops from heavy inks to more streamlined composition. As if in parallel, the story evolves from young women having adventures to people who argue, learn and grow.

💡 Smith Brown Jones: Alien Accountant, by Jon “Bean” Hastings. I picked up the first volume at APE VI, and as I was paying for it Hastings made the facetious remark, “You’re just buying this to get away from talking with me, right?” Alas, my silent grumpiness was due to being ill and spaced out on drugs-for-illness. His work is a laugh riot; I laugh louder each time I go through the comic. I swear the ubiquitous drink Splink predates Futurama’s Slurm. About an alien accountant (not the human CPA version, mind you) who works at a tabloid company while studying humanity. The artwork also reminds me of Charlie Wise (Blue Moon, Utopia Unlimited).

Sweet, by Leland Myrick. Each issue of this comic is a standalone love story. Each is told in a intriguing manner: sometimes quirky, sometimes dark, sometimes touching. Issue #1 is one of a young man falling in love with a vampire —perhaps clichéd in a gothish way, but still cute. Issue #2, though my “least” favorite, is how a jailguard in a women’s facility has a crush on one of the inmates; it has an interesting, atypical resolution. Issue #3 is a delightful tale about the artist, the short-order cook, the dog and the end of the world. Issue #4 is an odd story of a colonial girl kidnapped by Native Americans.

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