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

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September 15, 1999

Reviews in this issue:

Bulletproof Monk #2 (of 3) - Comics Legend - Roy Crane


Bulletproof Monk #2 (of 3)

    22 pages, priced at $2.95 from Flypaper Press. Co-plotted by Brett Lewis; co-plotted and scripted by R. A. Jones; pencils by Michael Avon Oeming. Sold in comics shops and by mail. 

    Kar is a young American and martial artist in search of a legendary Chinese hero, the Bulletproof Monk. The Chinese search for Kar through the wiles of a "cold, sexy assassin" named Flower. And Bulletproof Monk, the comic book, is in search of an audience. 

    Kar's search leads him to a West Coast gang, much whispering and teasing with a girl, and lots of kicking and jumping around. 

    This does not lead him to the Bulletproof Monk. You may suspect that that is because Kar is the Monk. Only the third issue and, hopefully, a clever plot twist or two that will skirt that stereotypical "surprise", will tell. 

    A telling hint that the writer of this series escapes clichés is that Monk is well written with all of the tricks of the trade fully understood and realized. Those tricks are pacing, a plot that unfolds like a slow tease, interesting characterization and crisp dialogue. 

    There is a cliché or two. Does every young martial artist need a wise Old mentor, grasshopper? 

    Monk's art is less concerned with realism than its writing. That means the artist gave minimal attention to anatomy, realistic buildings and connstent background colors. Some readers may find the intentional or unintentional poor anatomy jarring at times. But its visual timing is flawlessly wed with the story, and that is to its praise. 

    Heavily influenced by Japanese comic books, Monk thankfully does not suffer from the slow visual pacing of most manga. But stripped of the very effective use of coloring, most American audiences would consider the art's simplicity and crude lines uninteresting and inferior. 

    Monk is recommended for those interested in intrigue. 

    -- Reviewed by Michael Vance


Comics Legend - Roy Crane

    "Shaking their deadly blowguns at him, dozens of screaming headhunters surround Easy. cutting off all chance of escape." 

    He escaped, of course. Escape was CAPTAIN EASY's middle name before Indiana Jones was a gleam in the eye of Washington Tubbs the IIIrd. Created in 1924 by master cartoonist ROY CRANE, Wash was the initial star of his own comic strip until Captain Easy joined the cast. Easy snatched center stage from tiny, pudgy, be speckled Wash (who remained an important character) and turned this strip into the premier adventure continuity of its day. It remains one of the best comic strips in history. 

    As freebooters, hook-nosed Easy and Wash traveled to exotic locations all over the real and imaginary Crane world, living by fists and wits. Crane's brilliant and innovative art and his straightforward narrative and pace elevated Captain Easy to legendary status until the cartoonist left in 1943 to create a new strip, BUZZ SAWYER. Easy continued under the pen of a former assistant while Crane returned to humor and funny noses with Buzz. 

    While Easy had wrestled life in Pandemonia and Shanghai, Buzz conquered domestic life at home and hearth. It is a powerful testament of the genius of Roy Crane that he breathed energy into both genres. 

    Sadly, Crane is becoming a forgotten American treasure. However, it need not be so now that you know the marvelous secret of hard-fisted Captain Easy and crafty Wash Tubbs. 

    Beyond his own title, Easy appeared in FAMOUS COMICS CARTOON BOOKS (various publishers), THE COMICS (Dell), RED RYDER (Hawley, Dell) and CRACKERJACK FUNNIES and 4- COLOR (Dell). This wonderful strip is being reprinted by NBM Publishing today. Buzz was released under that name by Standard Comics. Except for the NBM collection, all are from the late '30's and '40's. 

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


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