Suspended Animation
Suspended Animation
by Michael Vance & Dr. Jon Suter

Check-out Michael Vance Comic books for sale


December 9, 1998

Reviews in this issue:

Comics Legend – Jim Davis
Scatterbrain
Stray Bullets
Elvira #32-34
Indiana Jones and the Sargasso Pirates


Comics Legend – Jim Davis

His art is seen everywhere, yet few know his name. His career spanned the early days of the Disney Studios, the wild '60's animation of Robert Crumb's Fritz the Cat, and the subtle, silent humor of The Pink Panther. Yet when recognized at all, Jim Davis is usually mistaken for the guy that draws Garfield in comic strips.

Jim Davis is not that, and much more.

At the very least, he was at two of the right places at the same time. He was animating Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and then Superman, (for Fleischer) when comic books were coming of age.

Having no comic book writers and artists themselves, some publishers were then supplied with stories by other companies called "Shops". Shops created work for several publishers simultaneously. Davis was on the spot.

Without dropping his brush at Fleischer, or Warner Brothers, Davis began acting as an agent for moonlighting animators and drawing some material himself for the B.W. Sangor Shop, which eventually became The American Comics Group.

He and his animators drew exclusively for young children, most often using "funny animals" as their foils for fun.

Only three publishers, Pines, National and ACG, featured Davis' art, produced for these companies through the Sangor Shop. His credits include "The Fox and The Crow", "Flippity & Flop", "Tito and His Burrito", "Hound and The Hare" and "Witch Hazel".

These were published in titles including Ha Ha and Giggle Comics (ACG). As the California agent for B.W. Sangor, he is also indirectly responsible for dozens of additional features including "SuperKatt" and "The Duke and The Dope".

His animation work also plays on millions of television sets and VCR's worldwide every day. Of the dozens of features he helped animate, his favorite was The Pink Panther.

Jim Davis' work is highly recommended.

Some older titles are expensive and difficult to locate. Price guides or comics dealers help. Comics shops, conventions, mail order companies and trade journals are the best sources. Prices vary; shop around.


9812009a.jpg (19708 bytes)Scatterbrain

Is Scatterbrain "Funny Ha-ha" or "Funny Strange", as touted on the cover blurb of its first issue.

No.

Does it matter?

No. Why?

Because Scatterbrain is unfunny strange but very good.

Sure, some of the artwork is odd, and the subject matter in the wild variety of this anthology is certainly out of the ordinary. But, funny?

The only "unfunny strange" in Scatterbrain is an editorial slant that seems to equate this new miniseries with Mad magazine.

It ain't so, Moe.

The best feature of the first issue is "Tales of Red Erchie the Bold" is which an old man exaggerates a heroic adventure as the art reveals the mundane truth. "The Cluck of Fear", however, is a poor mix of unfunny animals and jokes about flatulence.

"The Misadventures of Tommy T-Rex" ties for best feature with "Erchie" in the second Scatterbrain. The robot in a single page "Mud Monkeys" is a waste of space.

Although the third issue opens with an interesting "Bronco Teddy" funny animal and cowboy parody, its manic energy dissipates in unsatisfying short pieces.

"Kid Cyclops", a one-eyed boy, and the cat in "The Poet Who Loved Tea" feature oversimplified, uninteresting art popular in some children's publications. A gentle dinosaur, "Tom", suffers from cuteness. An untitled piece on germs is well-drawn but pointless as is a silent, one page study of the child's game, "Rock Scissors Paper."

"Pip and Norton", quirky and well-drawn, has an interesting premise as an inhuman and his squat companion struggle to possess worthless junk. Regrettably, it spins nowhere quickly.

Each feature lacks either the wit, interesting art or cohesive plot that make for memorable comics.

On the strength of its first two issues and the potential of its fourth, Scatterbrain is still recommended.

Michael Vance

Scatterbrain #s l-3 (of 4)/26 pgs., $2.95 ea. from Dark Horse/various artists and writers/sold in comic shops and by mail.


Stray Bullets

Dear David Lapham,

I'm glad you didn't name your comic Bullseye, because Stray Bullets not only Misses the mark, it misses the target.

I write that with reluctance. There's much here that's actually excellent.

The art is interesting and technically well done. Your storytelling is flawless, and the dialog is realistic.

It's the content that I can't stomach.

Beth is in hiding. She's stolen money and cocaine. She wants Orson to "make love" to her.

That's not the word they use...over, and over, and over.

Orson and Beth are believable, complex and disgusting characters. Orson betrays his sense of morality for cheap sex. Beth, who's an animal sexually and spiritually and mentally. sick, is little better than the supporting cast of this mobile home park "somewhere out west."

Stray Bullets is figuratively a well-done comic about human waste.

I'm aware that many reviewers defend well-done paintings of feces. I'm just not one of them.

Yes, I know sick people exist, David. I don't object to comics about sick people. What I object to is sickness portrayed as the norm.

The world is full of depravity and nobility, of sin and virtue. Despite realistic dialog, settings, language and characters, and your reader's opinions, this eighth issue of Stray Bullets is not reality.

I feel so strongly about its unrelentingly depressing, ugly world that I can't pay $2.95 for 26 pages of its raw depravity.

I feel equally strong about your technically excellent writing and art.

If you try another title, I'll check it out. I’m not foolish enough to think that you are your characters.

I am foolish enough to hope that you aren't.


Elvira #32-34

By Claypool Comics. The woman that goes bump in the night just jumped up several notches on the laugh charts.  Fun.


Indiana Jones and the Sargasso Pirates

By Dark Horse comics. This is my nomination for the best rip-roaring adventure comics mini-series of 1996.


Hola to our readers in Sluksles (Lithuania).  Drop us a line sometime.


    Questions? Comments? A comic you wish reviewed? Write: 1427 S. Delaware Ave., Tulsa, OK, 74104. Or email c/o starland@starland.com.

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