Suspended Animation

Michael Vance - Mark Allen
Michael Vance Books

The most-circulated and longest-running comics review column in America
perhaps the World!
Review Index 2002 - 2001 - 2000 - 1999 - 1998
 
Editorial
 
     Suspended Animation began publication on January 8th, 1989 in the Broken Arrow Ledger newspaper in Oklahoma. Created by Michael Vance who partnered with R. A. Jones, this weekly review column was based on the mutual belief that comic books and strips were legitimate forms of expression that deserved respect and attention from adults.

     The primary goal of Suspended Animation was and is two-fold: to review comics that adults will enjoy, and to place the column in publications read by adults who don't read comic books. By reviewing the best and worst in comics, our intention was to expand the number of people reading this art form.

     At its peak, Suspended Animation was featured in more than forty print venues including many mainstream newspapers and several radio stations. Slowly, however, the column began to appear on websites, and all but one newspaper dropped the column. No syndicate has shown interest in the column.

     Readership peaked at two million and is now at about 250,000. More than 1,000 titles have been reviewed, and readership continues to grow on the Internet although it has remained static in print publications.

     Comics writer Jones was eventually replaced by comics historian Dr. Jon Suter as a partner in the venture. In turn, Suter was replaced by our current co-reviewer, Mark Allen.

     After thirteen years of publication, one truth is undeniable. We have all failed to realize our goal. Taken as a whole, the readership of comic books has continued to dwindle, not expand.

     Does this mean that Suspended Animation will soon be discontinued?

     Nah.

     There was a third reason why the column was begun, and will continue.

     We love comics and still believe that, within its own limitations, it has the potential for profound insight into humanity, and can provide a whopping dose of entertainment. Both are the real reasons for all forms of human expression.

     Here's to another thirteen years of reviews, God willing.

 
Far West
 
Far West     "Justice never sleeps," said Phil the bear, counting a wad of money.

     "If the pay's right, it's got *@#%!* insomnia," responds Meg, the sexy, elfin bounty hunter in Far West, a new graphic novel from NBM Publishing.

     Both Meg and Phil are tracking a train-robbing forger with a $10,000 reward on his head. A fire-breathing dragon the size of a small office building complicates his capture. A Western setting dumped into the middle of Fairyland enriches his story.

     Yep, pardner, these rustlers and cowpokes rub elbows with elves and goblins as they saunter into a saloon, and without one word of explanation from the author. And, dagnabbit, it shore is fun!

     Far West reprints the first four issues of a comics series in a deluxe format including a gallery of rejected covers, pin-ups, and a never-before released story. West is distinctive and fun because Richard Moore's art is lively and imaginative, his visual storytelling is flawless, and Miss Meg unnecessarily flashes pieces of skin as often as she flashes her gun.

     Naughty, naughty, Richard.

     Forty years ago, West would have been labeled soft-porn.

     It is also distinctive and fun because Moore has mixed John Wayne with Frodo the Hobbit in his plot pot. His dialog and characterizations are lively and imaginative, and Miss Meg spouts needless profanity with the worst of 'em.

     Silly Richard. Forty years ago, that profanity would have been labeled trash and banned from libraries.
The excuse used by writers and artists to begin adding sex and profanity to the arts was that it created an accurate portrayal of reality. Wonder how that reasoning works way out west and over-the-rainbow in Dodge City, Fairyland?

     Far West is recommended for readers not offended by profanity or titillated by today's standards of sexuality in art.

     Far West/$13.95, 112 pgs./ sold at bookstores, comic shops or on the internet at www.nbmpublishing.com.

     Review by Michael "The Prude" Vance.

 

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Shudder at Vance's Light's End horror short stories narrated by actor William Windom at www.plan9.org

 Questions? Comments? A comic you wish reviewed? 
Write: 1427 S. Delaware Ave., Tulsa, OK, 74104. Or email Michael Vance.