Wednesday, October 20, 2010

APE 2010: My Super Powers

I can review flyers, right?

Okay, My Super Powers by Neil Brideau, isn't a flyer, but it is a single piece of paper, folded in half, making a four page comic book. Such a format isn't uncommon at the Altnerative Press Expo -- in fact, it's often the norm -- but if you left this little piece of art anywhere else, a layman may incorrectly dub it "a flyer." So, I'm putting it in layman's terms. I'm not a superhero, after all.

Apparently, Neil Brideau is. In fact, he's my kind of superhero: the type with powers anybody can acquire, with enough sheer will. He has out-run the bus he missed. He has a bottom stomach in all-you-can-eat restaurants. Apparently, his hugs are great. See, regular super powers. Like Batman, but without the travel, the fortune, and the perpetual vengeance. So forget Superman or Spawn -- Neil's are the powers that just might save the planet one day.

Seriously, Brideau's strip is a charming little slice of life that boasts a latent love of comics and an appreciation for the minutiae of life. Hey, who cares if it's just one piece of paper? This is the kind of comic absolutely anyone can read, quickly, and happily.

Here's Neil's blog.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

APE 2010: Dancing with Jack Ketch: The Life of Jackson Donfaire, Notorious Pirate

I flew into San Francisco on Saturday morning. I returned to Phoenix on Sunday night. Somewhere in between, I had the pleasure of picking up some of the best independent comic books self-published today at the annual Alternative Press Expo, and as is my custom every year, I'd like to review as many of them as I can, albeit in short bursts.

As I read through my swag pile over the next few days, if all of the comics I bought (or traded for) at APE are as good as Josh Shalek's Dancing With Jack Ketch: The Life of Jackson Donfaire, Notorious Pirate, I'm in for a treat. This impressive 40-page minicomic tells the story of, you guessed it, Jackson Donfaire, the son of an escaped slave that manages to elude his would-be masters and stow away on a pirate ship. Through a series of mishaps and twists of fate, Jackson experiences a taste of power, confronts the tragedies of his past, and embraces the promises of his new future.

What I liked best about Josh's story was its historical roots; with a base in early colonial slavery, and a surprisingly down-to-earth portrayal of the classic pirate, one could be led to believe this yarn is spun from real events. Shalek's art betrays a whimsy to his writing style, at times reflecting the style of old Playboy gag panels or The New Yorker comic strips, but his characters offer real depth, just like the ocean to which they're bound. Above all else, Jackson's story is a human one; the pirates stuff is just, well, added treasure.

Josh's work can found at his website, Falling Rock National Park.