August 5, 2011

From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays: Sibyl-Anne vs. Ratticus, Conan vs. Bieber, Ninja vs. Monster.

We’ve got a busy week this week here in the old column, so cue the music, roll the film, focus the lights, strike something, and let’s just get down to the world’s coolest all-ages column published today, From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays!

Just a reminder, Boom! Studios under their all ages Kaboom! line released issue #0 of Snarked! this week, which was covered back in this column right here.

2-D animation on the big screen, how I miss it some days. However, the French have still been doing some pretty great things with it for cinema. The next great piece coming up from the homeland of Daft Punk is a film titled Zarafa; check out the trailer right here!

Also, this past week on the site we had two really cool bonus articles from our column! The first was this fun interview I got to do with Shane and Chris Houghton, the brothers behind Reed Gunther, which we’ve given much high praise to in this column; check out the interview here if you haven’t already!

Also this week we started looking at the body of work of Herge’s The Adventures of Tintin, as we approach the movie coming out this winter. We start from the top, so check that out right here.


Out On Stands: Sibyl-Anne vs. Ratticus
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Story and Art: Raymond Macherot

Sibyl-Anne vs. Ratticus is a wonderful time and read! This collection collects the Sibyl-Anne stories serialized from 1966 to 1967 in comic magazine Spirou (same magazine that had Smurfs in it), and Fantagraphics does a great job bringing the material to us in the United States for the first time ever. Why would they go back half a century to dig these out and translate (as well as beautifully reproduce them and put it in a nice hardcover)? Simply because it’s a solid comic.

Sibyl-Anne vs. Ratticus has a very Shakespearean quality to it. The evil Ratticus is thrown out of “his castle” by humans, and so tries to blend into Sibyl-Anne’s village. After causing some trouble, he begins to dress as a woman, causing the local crow and porcupine to fall in love with him. Then after that fails, he goes to the city, gathers an army of rats, and invades to conquer. Now, when you forget that’s all about mice and the likes, it’s easy to see how Shakespearean it is. For all its epic feeling plot, there is a ton of heart in here and plenty of gags to laugh at, Macherot surely being a master of the animal adventure comic, leaving us wanting more (which we will get next year from Fantagraphics, thankfully). Towards the end there is a great showdown between one of Ratticus’s men in a toy plane battling Sibyl-Anne flying on the crow, Mr. Floozemaker, in this fantastic arial duel.

The writing and art are grade A for this, and I cannot recommend it enough. It does have a feeling much like Peyo’s Smurfs, but I prefer Macherot’s Sibyl-Anne over it. His story telling is a bit more better put together, and action scenes are more exciting (if one has to compare to something, that is). Plus Sibyl-Anne is just cute. She’s this little mouse who just wants to be with her fianc√©, but when she had to she took charge, grabbed a sling shot, and took to the air. Sibyl-Anne vs. Ratticus has something every comic lover can enjoy.


The Fame series from Blue Water comics, for those who are unfamiliar, is a series of comics that are graphic-biographies of stars and their lives. The subject on good vs. bad depends partially I believe on your like or dislike for that celebrity, and Blue Water runs the gamut of a huge variety of today’s entertainers.

Fame: Conan O’ Brien
Publisher: Blue Water Comics
Writers: CW Cooke and Patrick McCormack
Art: Eric Adrian Marquez

There was a time in my life when my friends in high school plotted that we should all try and get on Conan O’Brien’s TV show by getting tattoos of Conan. This never panned out. The need to finds mates, and the worry that a Conan tattoo permanently marked to our flesh would drive away potential candidates, killed that dream (but hey, maybe after we’re all married and it wont lead to divorce we can still achieve this teenage pipe dream). So as you can guess, a graphic biography of Conan O’Brien really was up my alley and I enjoyed every last bit of it.

The team behind the title chronicles the life of Conan, from his early days taking tap lessons, his time at Harvard, his numerous writing credits on SNL and The Simpsons, and of course his late-night TV show and heart-breaking moment when NBC totally ripped him off and tried to push Leno back in, and the aftermath of where he is today. All the facts are there, correct and an enjoyable read if you are curious about the guy who became so many Gen-X and Gen-Yer’s late night host. A nice bonus that I wasn’t expecting was how much I enjoyed Marquez’s art on this title. It’s a little quirky but colorful to look at, and fits at home with O’Brien’s story. The page of the Hollywood hills from a view right on a quiet side street is picture perfect for anyone who has ever stood down one of those roads and looked up. Nice job, really enjoyed this book.

Fame: Justin Bieber
Publisher: Blue Water Comics
Writer: Tara Broeckel Ooten
Art: Claudio Avella and Kamui Oscure

Music stars have been in the comics since the Human Torch and the Thing styled Beatles-haircuts. From Michael Jackson’s 3-D comic one-shot to the numerous Kiss comics over the years, this combination works. Why? Simply because readers who love these musicians will buy it. So I admit, wanting to read all 16 years of Justin Bieber’s life was not on my priority list, however, for someone like my little cousin who practically tells me everything the comic told me anyway, this would be something she’d buy.

This issue tells the story of the fan favorite Canuck as he becomes a You-Tube sensation and goes to MTV pop star over the course of his first 16 years. All the facts are correct and nothing really amazing happens in this kid’s life, but everything you would need to know about Bieber is here. The art is decent at best, although there was a pin-up at the end of Bieber fighting a werewolf which I enjoyed on some bizarre level. Everything I said aside, I can tell you this at least about the book: If you are a Justin Bieber fan, this is a must for you.


Something To Watch: Ninjascope

I wasn’t planning on reviewing this movie this week. I was trying to get a TV series done. For new readers, I don’t let TV series be your something to watch of the weekend unless I’ve watched every single episode first before writing, but I just didn’t have time to polish another one off. However, as luck would have it, I got on DVD Ninjascope, which turns out to be based off the manga Red Shadow by Mitsuteru Yokoyama (who created Tetsujin 28, or better know in English as Gigantor). Red Shadow was produced by Toei in 1967 as the TV series Akakage. When they decided to sell it overseas, they packaged the show’s episodes into three movies, the first dubbed in English as Ninjascope. Ninjascope tells the story of Red Shadow and his little brother Blue Shadow (and later the elder White Shadow), who fight the evil Golden Eye God cult in ancient Japan. Not only do you get ninja-action, but tons of giant monsters, weird masked villains running up trees, the works all right here! I even learned ninjas appear in a storm of bubbles, weirdly enough! It’s a little campy, but what else do you expect from 60s Japanese TV? You even get a giant fire-breathing toad, and you can’t beat that. As an adaptation of the material, I don’t know how it holds up as there is no English translation of the manga, but visually comparing the film to manga pages found online, it looks pretty exact, Red Shadow’s hair in the live action version even having the same impossible-looking manga hair do; so on a visual level at least I’ll say it’s spot on. You can find the whole trilogy pretty cheap on DVD online for under 10 bucks. Your something to adventure out and watch this weekend is Ninjascope!


That’s it for this week, see you next! Sending you kaiju-love from London!

Drew McCabe




  1. […] Good luck, and hopefully you’ll be enjoying a free coy of Sibyl-Anne vs. Ratticus soon!¬†Click here to read our review of Sibyl-Anne vs. Ratticus. […]

  2. […] have an ultra-cool contest going on until September 1st here! We covered Sibyl-Anne vs. Ratticus here a few weeks back and totally dug this comic. Now Fantatgraphics and us want to give a copy […]

  3. Hey there! I’ve been reading your site for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from New Caney Tx! Just wanted to say keep up the great job!

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