by Michael Vance & Dr. Jon Suter
June 30, 1999
Reviews in this issue:
Hellboy - Ziggy's Star Performances
Comics Legend: Richard F. Outcault - Space Usagi and Usagi Yojimbo
The Corpse and the Iron Shoes, The Wolves of Saint August,
and Wake the Devil are all from Dark Horse and sold in comics shops and
It takes one to know one. This one is a "world-renowned occult
investigator... field agent for The Bureau for Paranormal Research and
Defense" and a paranormal himself.
Hellboy is a dehorned devil.
Hellboy is also a busy little devil. In the three reviewed books, he tackles
numerous mythological creatures of the night based closely on folklore instead
of Hollywood's interpretation of folklore. If the premise were also its
strength, the best that readers could expect from this series would be
technically well done but mundane rehashes of very tired monster stories. After
all, even the idea of a paranormal investigator has been done to death.
Raise your expectations.
The strength of Hellboy is its style, which is marvelous indeed.
Artist and writer Mike Mignola is stylistically a minimalist. That means that
unless a line of art or word is absolutely essential to the story, it doesn't
get drawn or written.
The effect of minimalism is either a readership feeling cheated because the
story moves so quickly both visually and in its plot or a readership focused on
exactly what the writer and artist feels is important.
Hellboy is important stuff.
The simplicity of Mignola's art is a joy, much enhanced by color. The tone of
the series is definitely dark and brooding, and color is essential to simplicity
in creating atmosphere.
More abstract and design oriented than illustrative, Mignola's art is a
masterpiece of its discipline.
Nor does Hellboy suffer from its drought of words. Scant dialog and captions are
so carefully chosen that art and word becomes almost a perfect marriage.
Published in 1989 by Andrews and McMeel.
The star of newspapers, greeting cards, television and calendars fulfills
everyone's gentle wishes (little round Ziggy is everyone) in this wonderful
collection of past comic strips.
Reviewed by Michael Vance
Legend: Richard F. Outcault
Scholars recognized long ago that comics are accurate records of their times,
depicting not only the clothing styles, attitudes, and vocabulary of their era,
but also social concerns.
This was true from the beginning when Richard F. Outcault created Hogan's Alley
(later known as The Yellow Kid) for the New York World newspaper.
In 1995, America was only beginning to recognize its urban problems. More people
probably leaned about the conditions in the slums through the comics than would
ever have read or heard the words of reformers like Jacob Riis, author of How
The Other Half Lives. Outcault's strip depicted the violence and poverty
facing the children of slums, but like Charles Dickens, he found the humor
lurking beneath the horror.
Until now, anyone wishing to see a complete collection of Outcault's work had to
go to the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art. To celebrate the 1995 centennial
of comics, Kitchen Sink Press published a major anthology: R. F. Outcault's The
Yellow Kid (hardback: $55.00; paperback $39.95).
This is the cornerstone of any collection of historically important comic
In addition to 121 marvelously reproduced color illustrations, there are 146
pages of valuable history.
This reader was surprised to learn that the term "yellow journalism"
did not spring from the rise of a new yellow dye for the Kid's
Another revelation was Kid made "guest appearances" in Outcault's
other major strip, Buster Brown. The child of the slums and the child of wealth
make a strange combination.
This book has to be seen to be appreciated. Buy a copy before it goes
out-of-print or urge your library to acquire a copy.
Kitchen Sink Press has published many valuable retrospective collections; e.g., Steve
Canyon and Li'l Abner comic strips. These are essential to any
collection, but are also fun to read.
Reviewed by Dr. Jon Suter
Usagi and Usagi Yojimbo
Published by Dark Horse. Inventive and entertaining, these 'funny animal'
adventures of a Japanese rabbit warrior are delight. Recommended.
Reviewed by Michael Vance
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