Thursday, December 07, 2006

Read This Book and Die (Laughing)

Read This Book and Die (Laughing), Art & Soul Comics
by Marc Hempel & Mark Wheatley

Even as a flipbook, this issue is too schizophrenic for me to understand. The title story -- that is, the story placed on the cover designated for right-to-left consumption -- is billed as simply hilarious, yet the nature of its hilarity is a joke that outlives its premise, and a punchline that fall as flat as the short tale's anticlimactic ending. The tale, starring Tug, a silent "he-man type" and his pipsqueak admirer Buster, is a decent study in flagrant sidekick-fueled adulation, but that's it.

The second tale is a bit more complex, its artwork a bit more intricate. The first in a series, "Radical Dancer" features a futuristic world in which dreams are the driving force of media, and the human mind can be as easily pirated as a cable cord. It's an interesting concept that too contrasts the issue's leading story to remain effective or relevant. Based on past A Comic A Day fodder, a story like this is better suited in a forum like the old Epic magazine, or Dan Dare's anthology comic.

This issue wasn't all bad. Visually, Hempel's cartoony style was amusing enough to maintain his story's momentum, and while Wheatley's work would have benefited from color, its airy black and white format maintained its ethereal nature. I just feel that, if a book is going to feature two stories, the flip shouldn't be so dramatic. How can you appeal to a general audience, how can I as a consumer feel like my money was well spent, when both tales exist as a hit or miss?

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