Lackluster World #5 by Eric Adams
I've been a fan of Lackluster World from Issue #1. Choosing this one as my first comic to read was a mistake. You know how sometimes you read a comic book that moves you so much, you don't dare pick up another when you're done? Because the odds of finding something comparable in your to-be-read stack is pretty damn low? That's what LW#5 did to me.
Eric mentioned to me that it was his favorite so far, and now I know why. We get to glimpse a flashback into Fahrenheit Monahan's childhood, where, predictably, he turns out to have been the victim of bullying. Normally I'd say it's a tired theme, and while nothing really profoundly original happens, Eric uses several elements expertly to deliver a proverbial punch in the gut. And, possibly, move the reader to tears.
(I must disclose here that since I rescue and rehabilitate special-needs cats, and am intimately familiar with the kinds of abuse people can commit to small, vulnerable pets, I might react more strongly than someone who doesn't spend much time with animals.)
Excellent book all in all. I would recommend that new readers read the series from the beginning. I can't wait for the next issue. I'm glad Eric publishes his books faster than I do. :)
Kidnapped by Gnomes: Lapses in Judgment by Kathy Peterson
A hard copy collection from a largely undiscovered but worthwhile webcomic. Ed and Wilson the house gnomes cause Kathy much grief. They play with the kitchen appliances, steal her credit card, and bicker about politics, while Kathy (who casts herself as a metacharacter and never actually appears) desperately tries to maintain order and sanity in her household. The creator's intelligence shines through all the silliness, and although it's easy to tell she's a political and social liberal, she treats the political themes with level-headedness, fairness, and insight. But on top of that, there's a whole lot of silliness.
The art is simple and uses a limited palette (mostly purples and blues), and the gnomes are of her own design and don't resemble garden gnomes at all. Kidnapped by Gnomes has a steady, easy-to-follow rhythm that starts early and remains consistent. It doesn't develop any heart-wrenching, poignant long-term plotlines - but on the flip side, it doesn't degenerate into any failed attempts at meaningful plotlines either. Just lighthearted political and social commentary mixed in with simple gags and jokes.
Seductions by Gary Scott Beatty and Bill Bryan
For mature readers. A vampire love story. If you love vampires with human hearts, you are the target audience. If you're ambivalent toward the vampire genre but wouldn't mind reading a well-written one, you might like this book too. If you despise all things vampiric and hope to die without ever seeing another story from that tired, overdone genre... sorry, you're better off looking elsewhere for reading material.
The main character, a vampire, narrates - dialogue takes a back seat as a storytelling tool. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn how our antihero developed the attitude toward women that he currently has (he respects them considerably more than most people respect their food). He approaches his womanizing/hunting like a quest, seeking that certain je ne sais quois that he'll hopefully recognize if he ever finds it.
The art is beautiful, and the character development is strong and sensible, logically following the parameters of a Highlander-like immortal existence. The story moves quickly, giving just an overview of his lifestyle, but that just means there's less opportunity for contradictions or logical fallacies to crop up. While I don't feel like I know the main character intimately, the story is strong for the level it covers. The ending, while not twisty or unexpected, is satisfying enough without hitting you with a sledgehammer.