Headlines   2004 Review Index   March 17, 2004
Suspended Animation &

Michael Vance

Mark Allen

Michael Vance Books

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Basil Wolverton's Fantastic Fables
     One of the reasons I enjoy writing this column is that it allows me to share my excitement of a new discovery. I had long heard the name "Basil Wolverton," but never delved into his work, until a few weeks ago. Now, practically bursting at the thought of hunting down more Wolverton fare, I share my opinion with Suspended Animation readers.

     Basil Wolverton, an illustrator from the Golden and Silver Ages of comics, is under-appreciated. That is, arguably, a statement of opinion. The statement that some new readers still joyfully discover his work decades later, however, is one of fact. And with good reason; his highly-stylized illustrations range from the bizarre, to the surreal, to the ultra-realistic, and never fail to amaze the fan of comic art at how well his half-century-old work stands up to comic art of today.

     This is proven, among other works, in Basil Wolverton's Fantastic Fables, published by Dark Horse Comics in 1993, and collected by the same company in the trade paperback, Basil Wolverton in Space.

     Fantastic Fables reprints material from Wolverton's dramatic works, such as "Spacehawk," "Meteor Morgan," "Milt Archer," and "Shock Shannon," as well as humorous strips, "Rocket Rider," and "Jumpin' Jupiter." Also included in issue one is a 13-page spread of Biblically inspired illustrations the artist produced in the late 1950's, and an interview about that work from Graphic Story Magazine, issue 14, circa 1971. Whether "slappy," or stoically serious, Wolverton's work forces the eye to take heed with its depth, intricacy and amazing sense of textures and shades. To those who discovered him before me, I'm envious. To those who haven't...what are you waiting for?!!? Go! Hunt!

     Fantastic Fables is recommended for older teen readers and up who enjoy fun science fiction stories, and slapstick humor. Find it at comic shops, online auctions, or conventions. For the comic shop near you, call 1-888-comicbook.

     Basil Wolverton's Fantastic Fables, issues 1 and 2, published by Dark Horse Comics, 32 pages, $2.50.

     Review by Mark Allen

 
The Glamour Girls of Bill Ward
     It is no secret that men are sexually excited by female nudity, and that pornography is defined as images or words that stimulate erotic feelings. The line that separates admiration and lust, naughty and nasty, is a thin one. Bill Ward's glamour girls of the '50s, '60s and '70s straddled that line.

     Ward was a popular cartoonist who drew covers for romance titles, Blawkhawk, and other Quality comic books. He also created and drew Torchy, the prototype of all his buxom, leggy babes that pandered to male fantasies.

     When comic book sales faltered, Ward sold more than 9,000 single-panel cartoons of nearly naked women to digest magazines for men. To his credit, Ward had a distinct style, although none of the captions to the more that 150 cartoons printed in this collection are mildly funny. To his discredit, his reality-based style suffered from poor anatomy and perspective.

     Mild by today's standards, it is nevertheless undeniable that Ward's cartoons excited erotic feelings. Those who think that harmless will enjoy this collection. Those that think it is harmful live in the real world that Ward didn't draw.

     The Glamour Girls of Bill Ward/176 pgs. & $28.95, Fantagraphics books/text by Alex Chung; art and words by Bill Ward available at comic and book stores, and www.fantagraphics.com.

     Review by Michael Vance

 
MINIVIEW: Quantum: Rock of Ages [dreamchilde Press] A magical artifact and a clerk who pops between dimensions into alternate versions of himself set the stage for this intriguing 12 issue mini-series. However, the art is effective but not distinctive (anatomy and perspective are sometimes in-accurate), some scene transitions are confusing, and there is too much profanity.

     Review by Michael Vance

 
MINIVIEW, TOO: Ember Six [Comic Apple] A bandaged arm that promises havoc, a waitress who knows too much but doesn't know it, and a fugitive who loves firing guns are the cast of a small comic book (6"x6 ") with great otential. The art, half pencil and half inked pencils, needs a more experienced inker.

     Review by Michael Vance

 

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