MBR: The Comix/Graphic Novel Shelf

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Midwest Book Review

Apr 29, 2012, 4:57:05 PM4/29/12
The Comix/Graphic Novel Shelf

The Curse of the Masking-Tape Mummy
Scott Meyer
Don't Eat Any Bugs Production
PO Box 291, Tehachapi, CA 93581
9780980231496, $14.95, basicinstructions.net

Trying to be knowledgeable in today's world is always asking for
trouble. "The Curse of the Masking-Tape Mummy" is a collection of
comics from Scott Meyer's 'Basic Instructions' webcomic, presenting
his daily struggle in his workplace and trying to get by in a world
where the idiocy of everyone round him would make anyone consider a
new career. "The Curse of the Masking-Tape Mummy" is a fine collection
of comics, sure to please anyone who has experienced workplace
stupidity firsthand - i.e. everyone.

Lee & Kirby: The Wonder Years
Mark Alexander
TwoMorrows Publishing
10407 Bedfordtown Drive, Raleigh, NC 27614
9781605490380, $19.95, www.twomorrows.com

Lee & Kirby: The Wonder Years provides a fine special issue
documenting the creation and popularity of a new magazine created by
Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, called fantastic Four. Its impact would
change the face of the comic book world, and this celebration of the
two creators offers a fine survey of their works and achievements.
Loaded with black and white comics and illustration, it documents the
rise and fall of the Lee and Kirby partnership and its lasting effects
on the graphic novel and comic world, and is a 'must' for any
collection strong in comic and graphic novel history and culture.

How's That Underling Thing Working Out For You?
Scott Adams
Andrews McMeel
1130 Walnut Street, Kansas City, MO 64106-2109
9781449408190, $12.99, www.andrewsmcmeel.com

How's That Underling Thing Working Out For You? provides another
Dilbert collection to delight and amaze any fan of Dilbert and cubicle
culture. Full-color panels throughout provide a fine gathering of
Dilbert encounters and provide a hilarious commentary on big business
and the ironies and inconsistencies of upper management. A 'must' for
any collection seeing interest in the many other Dilbert comic

Tony Clapes, author
Yishan Li, illustrator
The Bess Press
3565 Harding Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96816
9781573063203 $12.95 www.besspress.com

Tropica is a graphic novel set on the allegorical island of the same
name, where most economic revenue is generated through low-paying
service jobs working for tourists and the military. Although Tropica
does not exist in our universe, parallels to the state of Hawaii leap
to mind; the allegory could also apply not only to other island
commonwealths, but also mainland cities and regions driven by the same
economic forces, and possibly even America as a whole. Tropica's
economic model suffers from long-term problems; the island's
population is under-educated and ill-prepared for anything other than
low-skilled jobs that barely keep its people above the poverty line.
As a result its population is declining, and should the flow of
military and tourism consumption ever dry up, it will spell complete
disaster! The intelligent and forward-thinking Doc Nova proposes an
ambitious plan to save the future; with more education and S.T.E.M.
(Science, Technology, Education and Math) initiatives, Tropica could
potentially create new industries with higher-paying jobs that rely on
brainpower rather than agriculture or hard labor, and turn its looming
economic crisis around. To achieve this end, Doc Nova teaches and
enlists a group of students to fight for a better future. But the main
power brokers in the island's government fiercely oppose changing the
way things are; three groups of them feud, but all three are so
resistant to improved education that they are essentially possessed by
mysterious evil gremlins that effectively transform them into
anthropomorphic pigs or wolves! The clean, manga-style artwork
perfectly complements this tale that blends elements of the fanciful
and the practical into a captivating whole. Highly recommended.

Hamakua Hero: A True Plantation Story
P.Y. Iwasaki and Berido
The Bess Press
3565 Harding Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96816
9781573063210 $12.95 www.besspress.com

Over 120 years ago, tens of thousands of Japanese men and women left
their homeland to work on the sugar plantations of Hawaii. They had to
toil for long hours in severe and sometimes life-threatening
conditions, for distressingly little pay. Hamakua Hero: A True
Plantation Story is a black-and-white biographical graphic novel,
about one particularly idealistic young man. Katsu Goto resisted the
injustices visited upon the plantation workers, but paid a terrible
price for his courageous actions. Vignettes of Hawaiian and Japanese
history are smoothly worked into the story, which is told with
expressive, manga-style artwork. As captivating as it is educational,
Hamukua Hero is highly recommended.

Orcs: Forged for War
Story by Stan Nicholls
Adapted and Drawn by Joe Flood
:01 First Second Books
c/o Roaring Brook Press
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010
9781596434554 $17.99 www.roaringbrookpress.com

Orcs: Forged for War is the first graphic novel of the popular and
award-winning Orcs dark fantasy universe. Set in a devastated land,
where two factions of humans wage a bloodthirsty conflict, Orcs:
Forged for War follows the Wolverines, an elite cohort of orc warriors
(and one headstrong dwarf sergeant). The orcs are allied with the
witch-empress who is at least willing to include nonhuman races
underneath her merciless, iron-fisted rule; the opposing human faction
seeks to commit genocide upon all nonhuman races in the name of its
God. When the orcs are assigned to protect a unit of goblin-sorcerers
transporting a mysterious and deadly new weapon, their mission begins
with frustration and ultimately escalates into life-threatening peril!
A savage fantasy brought to vivid life in full color, Orcs: Forged for
War is utterly compelling from cover to cover and highly recommended.

The Homeland Directive
Robert Venditti, author
Mike Huddleston, illustrator
Top Shelf Productions
PO Box 15125
Portland, OR 97293-5125
9781603090247 $14.95 www.topshelfcomix.com

The Homeland Directive is a grim graphic novel about a potential
bioweapon apocalypse in America. Dr. Laura Regan, a researcher at the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is shocked to find her
researcher partner murdered, and herself blamed for the crime. Three
rogue federal agents know that she has been framed, and suspect that
the government is behind it! Together, the four of them must escape
from mercenaries, law enforcement, and even cyber-detectives while
they hunt down the perpetrators of a plot that could ultimately
unleash a lethal and immensely contagious disease across all of
America! The Homeland Directive is vividly illustrated with gritty
line artwork, and a color scheme that eschews traditional realism for
revolving background pallettes designed to reflect and intensify this
edge-of-one's-seat thriller. Highly recommended.

The Superhero Book, second edition
Gina Misiroglu
Visible Ink Press
43311 Joy Road #414
Canton, MI 48187-2075
9781578593750 $24.95 www.visibleinkpress.com

Now in a revised and updated edition, The Superhero Book is an
encyclopedia of heroic icons from comic books and Hollywood movies.
Each hero or heroine has a page or two of description, including a
historical recounting of who created them and a summary of their comic
or film appearances; most are also featured in a colorful photographic
image. From Alpha Flight to Zorro, The Superhero Book is a wonderfully
user-friendly pop-culture reference, and perhaps also a great place to
start when considering whether to follow a new superhero comic book
line! An extensive introduction summarizing the different "ages" of
comic books, including the Silver Age, the Golden Age, and the Modern
Age rounds out this accessible reference that is just plain fun to
simply browse.


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