Category Archives: Comics

Review: AMICULUS: A SECRET HISTORY: VOL. I: ROMA AETERNA

Amiculus-Travis-Horseman

“Amiculus: A Secret History: Vol. I: Roma Aeterna” is the first in a trilogy about the fall of the Roman empire. Not the decline, we go straight to the fall. And at the epicenter, so it would have seemed, was the boy king, Romulus, the last emperor of the west. As far as boy kings go, he was as inept and childish as they come and was easily manipulated by his overseer, the Magister. In this issue, we get to see the Magister make minced meat out of Romulus and anyone who proved to hinder the precarious western front of the Roman empire.

Creator and writer Travis Horseman does a wonderful job of bringing history to life. His narrative, along with the sharp artwork of Giancarlo Caracuzzo, reminds me of the historical graphic novels of Wayne Vansant. There’s that same urgency in the lines drawn along with a mission to get it right. In this case, Horseman is not attempting to organize actual facts. He is filling in the blanks to a nearly nonexistent story about the real Romulus. And to further propel the story, he has created the shadowy figure of Amiculus, a supernatural entity that controls events behind the scenes. It’s not quite clear what powers he has but it’s clear he’s feared and omnipresent.

Amiculus-Romulus

Rome was not built in a day nor did fall in one day. However, some days are more fateful than others like when Romulus ceased to reign in A.D. 476. Our story begins in March, A.D. 538. The armies of Justinian, the emperor of Constantinople, have retaken what was left of the Roman Empire. Procopius of Caesarea, is a historian embedded with the army to record events. He’s our narrator. Once Rome is secure, he sets out to find out why Romulus disappeared from the picture some sixty years prior. Of course, the boy king, if he should still be alive, would have quite a story to tell. For the meantime, Procopius has the next best thing, a book that outlines the last days of Romulus’s reign as written by Romulus himself.

You can see that Horseman and Caracuzzo are having a whale of a good time with this comic. I’m glad this title can be added to the noteworthy work being created in comics. Let me tell you one thing, and I’ll gladly say it again, if I hear or read one more person chirp that comics aren’t for kids anymore, I’ll slap them silly. Here, pick up a copy of Amiculus, and you can clearly see yet another example of the mighty power of the comics medium. Those who continue to use the lame catch phrase “Comics aren’t for kids anymore” are hiding under a rock. They have chosen to hide under that rock. Amiculus lives somewhere in the region of an “all-ages” comic. Not totally since, gosh darn it, there is some mature content. However, it boils down to PG-13 fare: mild language, relatively mild violence. Hey, it’s the fall of Rome. There will be some blood and some swearing. So, yeah, from teens on up.

As a great mystery and a gateway to history, “Amiculus: A Secret History” is a worthwhile read with colorful characters, intriguing elements, and one wild tale to tell. It will be fun to see how the story unfolds in the rest of the trilogy. For more details, visit the official Amiculus website right here.

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Filed under Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, History

Review: FIGHT CLUB 2 #1

Cover Artist: David Mack

Cover Artist: David Mack

Chuck Palahniuk writes the sequel to Fight Club as a comic book. There has to be something highly ironic about that. What would Tyler Durden think? In this case, it works. Palahniuk doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel. He just needs to show up. We’re picking up where we left off. Project Mayhem is history. After all the outrageous events from the hugely popular novel and movie, we find our main characters trying to live a normal life. Ah, and there’s the rub. Imagine it’s ten years later and Marla Singer has married Tyler Durden. Oh, he goes by “Sebastian” now and is very low-key.

Fight-Club-2-Chuck-Palahniuk-Dark-Horse-Comics

A quick refresh, if you saw the movie years ago: The characters played by Helena Bonham Carter and Edward Norton got married! And they’ve got a kid now who is very disturbed. And Marla is quite dissatisfied, to say the least, with a docile and settled Tyler, er, Sebastian. If it weren’t for the pills, well, Sebastian might lose control. He might even go back to being the crazed man Marla once knew. And that’s okay with Marla.

This first issue sets the stage with a hot streak of conflict carried down the line by Marla. Artist Cameron Stewart nails the look of a woman on the verge of a breakdown. We see Marla twist and turn as she hungers for excitement only to see a neutered Tyler/Sebastian. Where’s the sex? The violence? The mayhem? Desperately, Marla tries to relive the old days by visiting support groups. One she seems to like is a group for those with Progeria Syndrome, severe aging. Marla tries her best but it’s just not the same.

It would have been very tempting to have gotten Cameron Stewart to go ahead with directly depicting the stars who made these characters such icons. Sure, I wouldn’t have minded seeing Edward Norton back with Helena Bonham Carter as they collide with Brad Pitt. That said, Stewart provides us with the next best thing. Marla may be his best out of the three of his takes on the characters. And the other two hold their own. Nothing like a woman scorned. This first issue belongs to Marla.

Of course, that’s not to say we’re not also seeing some pretty crazy stuff going on once Marla has done her part to light the fuse. No doubt, if you’re a fan of the novel and/or movie, or even if you’re completely new to all this, FIGHT CLUB 2 will appeal to you with its lively and quirky action.

So, like I say, Palahniuk is not reinventing the wheel. He was ahead of his time with the original Fight Club and we’ve all been catching up since then. Crazed consumer culture, a twisted value system, a mass of humanity all insular and selfish, it’s all on a high boil now. Fight Club 2 is on a high boil indeed.

FIGHT CLUB 2 #1 is a 32-page comic book, priced at $3.99, and is available as of May 27, 2015. For more details, visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics right here. Also be sure to visit the official FIGHT CLUB 2 website and the official Chuck Palahniuk fansite right here.

Also of interest:

Fight-Club-Free-Comic-Book-Day

The FIGHT CLUB 2 experience takes off on May 2 with a special Free Comic Book Day promotion you won’t want to miss. On Saturday May 2nd, Dark Horse Comics will debut one of the most anticipated comic book and literary events of the year with a FIGHT CLUB 2 story written by NEW YORK TIMES bestselling novelist Chuck Palahniuk, illustrated by Eisner Award winning artist Cameron Stewart and colored by award winning Dave Stewart. The Dark Horse Comics Free Comic Book Day Sampler includes a 14-page story that adapts the ending of the FIGHT CLUB novel (which fans will recall is different than the ending of the acclaimed film) and leads into the upcoming Dark Horse Comics FIGHT CLUB 2 comic book series. The first issue of FIGHT CLUB 2 will be available at comics shops, select book stores and digitally via the Dark Horse digital store and app on May 27th.

Dark Horse Comics has encouraged fans to further contribute to the mayhem with a guerilla marketing campaign utilizing the phrases “Tyler Durden Lives” and “Rize or Die” in order to win Easton Press limited, leather-bound editions of Palahniuk’s novels BEAUTIFUL YOU, FIGHT CLUB and SURVIVOR. Fans are encouraged to e-mail their photos and letters using the phrases “Tyler Durden Lives” and “Rize or Die” to: projectmayhem@darkhorse.com.

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Filed under Chuck Palahniuk, Comics, Comics Reviews, Dark Horse Comics

Review: A DARKE PHANTASTIQUE, edited by Jason V Brock

Cover Art by Samuel Araya

Cover Art by Samuel Araya

Jason V Brock provides a most invigorating and informative introduction to the anthology he has edited, “A Darke Phantastique.” Essentially, his aim is a return to basics, like Poe’s “unity of effect,” as well as achieve a finer focus on dark fantasy, horror, and magic realism. In his view, and he would certainly not be alone in this, the best horror includes, amid everyday reality, “a touch of the strange,” that dark matter which sets the wheels in motion.

Brock aspires to a more palpable dark fantasy, a fresh new look at the fantastic. Brock provides a chilling and inventive example with his own contribution, “A Darke Phantastique.” It sets the tone for the wide variety of content you’ll find here. Brock gives us a devilishly dark creation myth. We have an initial fear of the unknown that develops into something more. And, in the process, we find ourselves on a most unusual path from dark to light.

Illustration by Jason V Brock

Illustration by Jason V Brock

Leafing through, one story jumped right out at me, with its bravado mix of humor and horror, and I’m calling it this book’s mascot. That’s Ray Garton’s “Lizzard Man Dispatches.” It has a really nice slow boil. The characters are so banal and relatable that you’re quickly lulled into their world of blogging and pet reptiles. A little further in, and we can induldge in all manner of conspiracy theory. Where this leads us is a gradual acceptance of something supernatural and far beyond our control.

The book is broken down into five sections which helps give you more of sense of the book’s vision. There is “Magical Realities,” “Lost Innocence,” “Forbidden Knowledge,” “Hidden Truths,” and “Uncanny Encounters.”

William F. Nolan’s “The Last Witch” is another fine tale in the first section. It fits in quite well with the theme of magical realities as you come to find that even a witch is more than she may seem. With a touch of humor, Nolan lures us into the horror that will follow.

Don Webb’s “Lovecraft’s Pillow” is such a bittersweet ode to lost innocence. It is also a hilarious send-up to the whole horror book industry. A jaded best-selling horror author considers himself no better than a fraud. But he may find what he’s looking for when he acquires the death bed pillow of none other than H.P. Lovecraft.

Lois H. Gresh’s “Old Enough to Drink” is quite the creepy cautionary tale to forbidden knowledge. Told with such a gusto, this story blends fairy tales with vivid nightmares.

S. T. Joshi’s “You’ll Reach There in Time” confronts hidden truths in a fun story. A fractured narrative structure gradually reveals how a criminal gets what he deserves.

Tom Conoboy’s “Phoenix on the Orange River” gives us his answer to a series of uncanny encounters. It’s a kaleidoscopic journey and a protracted dance with Death. It’s the last of nearly 50 contributions in this 728-page book complete with story notes from each contributor. Conoboy’s tale is a fitting end to this remarkable collection.

Among other treats you’ll find here is “Genius,” a screenplay by Greg Bear. It’s the only screenplay in this anthology and it is quite a delight to read. Bear has made his mark in pop culture in many ways beginning as one of the five co-founders of the San Diego Comic-Con. In “Genius,” he gives us an intriguing look at characters caught up in something far bigger than themselves. And that’s the problem, this challenge is so big that it threatens to destroy them and all of humanity. This is a moving story of human connection amid very dark matter. It’s a very good example on what price is paid for genius.

And just one more, the first contribution, Paul Kane’s “Michael the Monster,” which is a glorious opener. This is an unabashed celebration of monsters. It is Halloween, and Michael, an actual boy monster, revels in the one night that he can be himself in plain sight. A time for monsters! This is a perfect way to start a book where monsters are so welcome.

And so there’s a taste of “A Darke Phantastique: Encounters with the Uncanny and Other Magical Things.” The book itself is a joy to hold and behold. Great care has been given to making this a pleasurable reading experience. Everything from choice of font to layout to use of illustrations guides the eye. The hardcover is a well-crafted treat. Given the book’s generous page count, it is an ideal size to leisurely pass the time with. This is a beautiful book full of deliciously scary and compelling work. I’m so glad that Jason V Brock put so much care into this collection of some of the best contemporary dark fantasy, horror, and magic realism.

The following lists the contents to the book with a link to or related to each contributor. I think the links are essential as they give you an opportunity to pause and appreciate this book some more:

Continue reading

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Filed under Anthologies, Bram Stoker Awards, Comics, Darke Phantastique, Edgar Allan Poe, Horror, Jason V. Brock, Weird Fiction, World Horror Con

Review: BLACK RIVER

Fantagraphics-Josh-Simmons

There is no Black River to be found in Josh Simmons’s graphic novel, “Black River,” but that’s besides the point. The characters are all post-apocalypse survivors with nary a need to know one river from another. Nihilism prevails. For such a bare bones story, there are plenty of compelling moments, both grim and poetic.

People can be pretty hostile and dangerous even in the best of times, so it is quite something to have a group of youth running wild into the wasteland. No zombies to contend with, if that’s any consolation. It’s more the drip, drip, drip, of too many lost and rough souls wandering. All this Simmons depicts well. It’s something any hip cartoonist can revel in, if he or she chooses, and he does a good job of it.

With all the jailhouse craziness that ensues, Simmons is a careful artist. He has a deft way of creating just the right amount of detail to evoke a landscape or a town that has been left in ruins. And I really enjoy his rendering of the Aurora Borealis. It comes up a number of times in panels, enough to add to the spacey energy that charges this work.

Much like a good old-fashioned horror movie, a comic such as this, to be any good, relies upon setting up an interesting mood and environment. Without a doubt, Simmons succeeds in this. He gives us some compelling characters among his ragtag group of hardened misfits. And we’re left wanting to turn the page as a morbid sense of curiosity sets in. Of course, things will get darker, as well as more disgusting. This is raw stuff, kids. Mature content. Those familiar with it, will not be disappointed.

Josh-Simmons-Black-River

And if you’re in Seattle, be sure to visit the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery this Saturday, April 25, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm for a reception for the publication of Josh Simmons’s new graphic novel, Black River, and the release of the latest issue of Intruder, #15. Simmons will be joined by his colleagues from the Intruder comix collective. Simmons contributes a story in the latest issue illustrated by Joe Garber. Festivities include a display of Simmons’s original drawings, a black light room, short film screening, a book signing, and complimentary refreshments.

Black River is a 112-page trade paperback, priced at $18.99. For more details, visit our friends at Fantagraphics Books right here.

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Filed under Comics, Fantagraphics, Fantagraphics Books, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Horror, Josh Simmons

Review: THE REALIST by Asaf Hanuka

Hanuka-The-Realist

For the last four years, Asaf Hanuka has been doing auto-biographical webcomics about his life in Tel Aviv, Israel, entitled, “The Realist.” In many ways, this is a pretty straightforward narrative but, as in any life, things can gain, at any moment, a razor-sharp specificity and intensity. This is, after all, one of the most watched war-torn areas in the world.

So, when a morning can simply consist of a father goading his little boy to eat his toast, that already carries potentially more weight than a similar moment somewhere else. That said, Hanuka seems to carry himself like a man on a mission wherever he might live. The Realist has now been collected for the first time in English as a graphic novel, published by Archaia, an imprint of BOOM! Studios.

The-Realist-Hanuka

Comparable to the work of R. Crumb and Daniel Clowes, Hanuka has a keen sense for depictions of everyday life. What really matters is that he’s FUNNY!

I actually laughed out loud from reading his comics. He wears his version of the average Joe quite well. There’s one strip where we follow Hanuka throughout his day, as if following the daily routine of a computer from start up to sleep mode. At each point of the day, he has options to choose: engage or ignore the bus driver, the neighbor, the co-worker, his son, his wife. End. Repeat the next day. It strikes close to home, and it’s hilarious.

They say that if if you try to call attention to your merits, people will gladly ignore you. However, if you revel in self-deprecation, suddenly you have a following. Well, Hanuka definitely has a following. But it’s more than having readers relate to your problems. Hanuka has an engaging style with his artwork. It’s a crisp rendering of his life that you can’t help but want to know more about.

“The Realist” is an original 192-page hardcover graphic novel, priced at $24.99, arriving in comic shops from Archaia on April 22nd with a cover by creator Asaf Hanuka. For more details, visit our friends at Boom! Studios right here.

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Filed under Archaia Entertainment, Asaf Hanuka, Boom! Studios, Comics, Family, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Israel, Middle East, War, Webcomics

Review: Insight Legends series and Marvel Comics

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO THOR and THE WORLD ACCORDING TO IRON MAN.

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO THOR and THE WORLD ACCORDING TO IRON MAN.

Who is it that loves superhero comics the most? Kids! Yes, superhero comics are for kids. There are plenty of stories geared toward older readers but, at the heart of the matter, if you stray so far from your younger readers, you have really lost something vital. Well, the focus shifted many years ago to mature and dark content to say the least. While an all-ages sphere of influence would prove quite interesting, we’ve moved past that model. Whatever the content, ultimately it depends on the creative team as to merit of each project. That said, kids must get their due. In that regard, Insight Editions has come up with a series with young readers in mind.

Tony Stark takes it easy.

Tony Stark takes it easy.

I can well imagine books like these being warmly received, taken at face value, by younger readers. Sounds idealistic? No, it’s just the power of childhood. Each one of these books is part of the Insight Legends series from Insight Editions. The series kicks off with a focus on characters from the Marvel Comics universe.

Thor postage stamp stickers.

Thor postage stamp stickers.

Each book comes packed with extras like posters, stickers, and “top secret” documents. Pages are full of intriguing facts, maps, and family trees, providing a veritable guidebook on a particular character. That’s the theme: a focus on one character and that character’s view of the world. Included in the series are Iron Man, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Captain America, and Thor. Each book is around 64 pages with about 10 inserts, varies with each book.

For more details, visit our friends at Insight Editions. You can find THE WORLD ACCORDING TO IRON MAN right here. You can find THE WORLD ACCORDING TO THOR right here.

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Filed under Avengers, Comics, Insight Editions, Marvel Comics, Superheroes

Review: MIGHTY STAR AND THE CASTLE OF THE CANCATERVATER

Mighty-Star-Koyama-Press

Alex Degen is working in a place that many cartoonists want to be working in. It’s a place of wonder and experimentation. He’s definitely someone I’d love to sit down and have a long talk with over tea, beer, whatever. What he does in this collection of comics hits close to home since it’s the sort of comics I like to create. I feel that I know a goodly amount about this as I’ve studied numerous similar work over the years and I know several cartoonists in a similar boat. That said, this is a pretty specific way of working.

Some label this type of cartooning as “dream logic” or “psychedelic.” What they mean is that the work evokes an anything-goes quality or follows a stream-of-consciousness narrative. This is seemingly loose work. But that doesn’t mean it’s a free pass to get sloppy. Instead, you want to be pretty clean and precise with your presentation in order to go to some weird places and have it read properly. All this Degen does quite well.

This book collects six parts of previous webcomics which add up to one wild journey. Each part ends with a “to be continued” and it provides an essential pause. I say this because that may help break things down a bit for you, if you’re totally new. What you’ll initially find is a world where it seems as if anything is liable to explode or melt or some such surreal craziness. Let’s get one thing straight, the definition of “cancatervater.” It means, “to heap into a pile.” Does that help? Well, does it? Okay, think of this Cancatervater as a most sinister force plotting to take over the world. Now, add Mighty Star, our superhero, to the mix.

A-Degen-Koyama-Press

What happens is, well, a little of everything. It’s science fiction, fantasy, manga, and bit of a bodice ripper. Twice, we have two pretty young women suddenly bare breasted. One is Bijoux, a typical manga type in skin-tight clothes. The other is far less obvious, an aerialist, Zoe Trala. In both cases, it seems that a certain amount of tension, made up of pent-up hormones and angst, has reached a point of no return. The women’s clothes are not ripped off of them. They simply find themselves without tops. So, needless to say, this book has mature content, more for older teens and above. In the end, this book is more cerebral than titillating.

It’s after this second incident with Zoe Trala’s missing top that more nudity is included but it has purpose. It’s always of a rather understated nature, not offensive or particularly gratuitous. And it leads us to one of the most compelling scenes in the narrative. Mighty Star’s journey leads him to a forest. And hanging from the trees are numerous naked bodies of both men and women. They aren’t hung dead bodies. No, instead, they fall from the trees just like apples. In fact, they each have a big apple stem where each head should be. This is the most explicit symbol of the forbidden knowledge that Mighty Star has been confronting all along.

Alex-Degen-comics

All the characters here are elusive and enigmatic. Moreover, the superhero motif is not obviously vigorous but mysterious. In a setting for action there is farce and ambiguity. The style here is a somewhat rougher version of King City’s Brandon Graham. Offbeat. Off–kilter. Dialed back to just the right frequency. When you expect conflict, you may end up with a muffled sedate response. Sex. Violence. Superheroes. Leave it to a cartoonist like Alex Degen to balance all that with such a wry and ironic sensibility.

Yes, Alex, I’ll be waiting with tea, beer, or whatever. I’m sure we’d have one hell of a good talk.

MIGHTY STAR AND THE CASTLE OF THE CANCATERVATER is a 172-page, black & white, trade paperback, priced at $15.00, published by Koyama Press. For more details, visit our friends at Koyama Press right here.

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Filed under Alex Degen, Brandon Graham, Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Koyama Press, Webcomics

Review: ARCHIE VS. PREDATOR #1

ARCHIE VS. PREDATOR #1 (ERIC POWELL VARIANT COVER)

ARCHIE VS. PREDATOR #1 (ERIC POWELL VARIANT COVER)

Archie and the gang have been in quite a few adventures, including being turned into zombies, and for this latest romp they crossover to Dark Horse Comics and meet up with Predator. Yeah, Predator, as in “Alien vs. Predator.” As farfetched as this team-up might seem, the Archie magic makes it work as this first issue of a four-issue arc, demonstrates. It’s a mashup, folks, and nothing wrong with that.

ARCHIE VS. PREDATOR-01

Overall, it’s good fun. The script, by Alex de Campi (Grindhouse, My Little Pony), is amusing and keeps up a good pace. The artwork is pretty spot on for Archie fare. In general, over the years, I think the characters have been kept away from mothballs to an impressive degree. In fact, there’s no need for mothballs at all.

I sometimes wonder if, for each new event that is created to stir the pot, if the Archie gang loses something. I mean, after all, they are already iconic, and quite elastic, characters in their own right. Adventures right in Riverdale are playing to their strengths. Well, perhaps that’s why all roads eventually lead back to the gang’s hometown. And speaking of elastic characters, the art team here does keep everything Archie fresh: pencils by Fernando Ruiz; inks by Rich Koslowski; and colors by Jason Millet.

As the promotions to this comic state, Predator is “in Riverdale with a few days to kill!” Yes, and the key thing here is that he’s in Riverdale. Perhaps this meeting of Archie and Predator will be like that Brady Bunch episode when the Brady family goes on an exotic tropical vacation and brings home a voodoo doll. Nothing like a home-court advantage.

ARCHIE VS. PREDATOR #1 is available as of April 15. For more details, visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics right here.

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Filed under Archie Comics, Comics, Comics Reviews, Dark Horse Comics

Review: BLOODSHOT REBORN #1

Bloodshot-Reborn-Valiant-Comics

Jeff Lemire is known for his quirky vision. Well, for this project with Valiant Entertainment, he gives us a washed-up grunt who was once the deadly assassin, Bloodshot. In Lemire’s hands, Valiant’s Bloodshot is truly reborn.

Bloodshot-Reborn-Jeff-Lemire

Lemire writes it and shares the artwork duties with Mico Suayan. All in all, it is a satisfying offbeat story placing a broken man in direct contrast with the large-than-life force that he used to be. And this sets the tone for the big guy’s return back into the game.

What will set something like this apart requires a great leap of faith since we’ve been down this road before. If the creative team is committed to the project, then readers will respond. The fact is, these type of adventures do sort of write themselves up to a point. You need the vision that Lemire can bring to make it special.

Bloodshot-Reborn

You’ve got all your goodies here: a lone wolf character who has been controlled by Project Rising Star, a shadow government agency. He was known as Bloodshot, all white skin and red eyes, like the scariest ripped clown you’ve ever seen. And all these little nano robots flowing through his bloodstream keeping him alive and in line. And then he escapes. And that wasn’t so good as life off the grid usually goes. But there was that one woman, Kay, the Geomancer, who believed in him.

Take all this Valiant universe stew and let it simmer for a bit. And here’s where you add the quirk. Bloodshot goes incognito. He ends up in the middle of nowhere in Colorado. He takes the name Ray Garrison and now works as the facility guy at the Red River Inn. He sort of becomes friends with Gene, the widower, and her grandson, 12-year-old Toby. But the whole time, he knows something has got to give.

Before too long, things do fall apart. Before we end this first issue, our hero is way in the thick of trouble. And what gets us there is done with good pacing and a certain style. And that’s because a decent story does not write itself! I think Lemire is on to something with his take on Bloodshot. The whole look of the comic is very promising. So far, it has that type of staying power that reminds me of a good Ed Brubaker pot-boiler.

BLOODSHOT REBORN #1 is available as of April 15. For more details, visit our friends at Valiant Entertainment right here.

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Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Jeff Lemire, Valiant Entertainment

Review: GIRL IN DIOR by Annie Goetzinger

Christian Dior at work on a new collection at his county house.

Christian Dior at work on a new collection at his country house.

Annie Goetzinger has quite a light touch to her drawings that manage to speak volumes. It is one thing to draw pretty women in chic settings and quite another to convey the humanity and complexity behind the story. Goetzinger’s graphic novel, “Girl in Dior,” does just that with her behind-the-scenes look at the life and work of legendary fashion designer Christian Dior.

The launch of a "New Look."

The launch of a “New Look.”

The House of Dior, at 30 Avenue Montaigne, was meant to evoke a cross between Louis XVI and the dawn of the 20th Century. It was to be made up of white paneling, pearl gray satin, taffeta lampshades, and discretely placed bouquets and kentia palms. It was not based upon anyone’s reality but upon Dior’s own childhood daydreams. It was to be the perfect place, the epicenter for high fashion, beginning with the first Dior fashion show for the Spring-Summer collection for 1947.

No.3, "Chérubin"!

No.3, “Chérubin”!

Amid the refined mayhem that ensues, we meet our main character, Clara Nohant, a budding fashion columnist. It is through the fictional Clara that we can savor certain key moments and get a sense of the world of Dior. As only a graphic novel can offer, we can get very specific upon what you view and linger upon. In the right hands, this results in such a masterpiece as this. Goetzinger is a master cartoonist. She well knows that she cannot show you every last detail. Instead, she must pick and choose.

She spends a good portion of time simply reveling in that special moment that was the launch of the House of Dior. After all, it sent shockwaves throughout the fashion world and led women, around the world, to consider lowering their hemlines. Having given the reader a solid grounding on that event, she quickens the pace. Clara goes from one major blunder to landing herself the role as the latest model to join the Dior inner circle.

This book is a delight to read through and through. Some books you keep, and this one is a keeper. The art is stunning in how it works within the confines of elegant refinement. Goetzinger’s background in fashion illustration serves her well as she effortlessly captures the flow of fabric and the carriage and grace of the models. And her stylish line is complimented by her gorgeous use of watercolor. In her hands, the fashion world, while always cool and detached, never goes cold. In the end, there’s a warm human touch to this tale of high fashion.

“Girl in Dior” is a 128-page full color hardcover, priced at $27.99, published by NBM Publishing. For more details, visit our friends at NBM right here.

And, if you are in the New York metro area this weekend, be sure to visit the MoCCA Arts Festival and see Annie Goetzinger in person. You’ll be able to see her as part of a panel on writing about the lives of artists:

MoCCA 2015 Programming Spotlight

“Biography: The Lives of Artists”
Sunday, April 12 at the High Line Hotel
12:30 pm in the Rusack Room

Memoir, non-fiction and biography have emerged as significant categories in comics. Comics about artists represent a special challenge: the cartoonist must represent the work of an artist through his or her own visual approach, revealing points of disjunction and harmony. Hyperallergic Senior Editor Jillian Steinhauer will discuss these issues with French comics legend Annie Goetzinger, whose Girl in Dior chronicles the first season of the storied fashion house; James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook, whose 7 Miles a Second was both a biography of and a collaboration with David Wojnarowicz; and Dutch cartoonist Barbara Stok, whose Vincent makes Van Gogh approachable through a style completely unlike his own.

For more details on the MoCCA Arts Festival, go here.

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Filed under Annie Goetzinger, Comics, Fashion, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, NBM, NBM Publishing