November 18, 2011

From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays: Korgi, Usagi Yojimbo, The Bug Zapper and Professor Layton!

We-have-a-ton-of-stuff-this-week. I write it like that to spell it out because we run the gamut of all-ages comics madness from tales without words to the world wide web this week! It’s so much I couldn’t even write a good intro to live up to the rest of the column, so I didn’t try (or I could be distracted by The Man Called Flintstone on TV, I dunno, you decide and don’t be a hater). This is my column and your column. The column for everyone who likes all-ages comics which we have dubbed From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays!


Korgi Book 3
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
Written/Drawn By: Christian Slade

You can’t judge a book by its cover, nor comic for that matter. When we get books to review, we get sent a file of pdfs or the traditional box of books. You never know usually what it’s going to be, and so when I opened up a package from Top Shelf a few weeks back to start reviewing a stack of their books, the title Korgi Book 3, with its innocent looking cover of a corgi and a fairy looking through an ancient book in a flowery field, didn’t jump out as the first one I should read and write up about. To my delight, when I cracked it open this week to review it was way cooler than I ever expected.

Korgi tells the story of Ivy and her corgi cub named Sprout, who breathes fire, who live in Korgi Hollow in a fantasy world. In this latest book, Ivy and Sprout are trying to figure out the tale behind an old piece of stained glass with part of a castle imprinted on it. They go to wise magic toad Wart, who tells them the tale of how Korgi Hollow came to be and why that castle exploded. Ivy and Sprout then come against a little trouble from Creephog, a creature that’s been tailing them, but with a little help from Otto, a bow-n-arrow wielding porcupine with an eye patch, they might just make it out okay.

Slade does a lot of things right. Like Tanaka’s manga Gon, the entire thing is told without a single word on the page, just pure graphic storytelling, which, as I mentioned in this column before, I personally feel is the strength of comics, and it takes a daring artist with some chops to be able to go “silent film style” so-to-speak on a work, and purely tell it with only pictures. Slade does a great job, and everything reads clearly and universally can be accessed by anyone around the globe to much enjoyment. Slade’s art is enjoyable for the world of Korgi Hollow, and such settings as Wart’s library are wonderfully drawn. I wasn’t a fan of his thicker/less detailed art he used for the flashback pages to tell the origin of Korgi Hollow, but this is the only flaw I felt the book had art wise.

Korgi Book 3 was an enjoyable surprise, and if you are looking for something fantasy based, or one of those rare comics these days that tells its tale only with pictures, then I suggest you start here.


Usagi Yojimbo #142
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer/Artist: Stan Sakai

Usagi Yojimbo, 142 issues and still going strong, and this latest issue just proves how many tales and how much endless fun you can have with Sakai’s world.

In this issue, Yojimbo comes across a group of men fighting each other in the forest and saves the day. The guys he saved are transporting ice from a mountain in the hot summer sun as a gift for the visiting Lord Hikiji. Usagi Yojimbo agress to escort them to protect them from other dangers along the way as they race against the clock while the ice is melting, and a string of fights ensues around this honorable gift as it is transported.

I like this tale because although it’s connected to the scheme of things, it stands alone really well. Plus, the best part in my opinion is it is a mostly action story with Yojimbo in a string of fights, so it’s super entertaining and action-packed and doesn’t get dull. Sakai’s writing and art still holds up with this character after all this time, and this solid issue is proof of it. The sense of pace in an action story is key and spot on here in this issue. I also love the cartoonish bubbles with a skull that pop up over people when they are dead and want to give those a little shout out. It has a humor and eye all of its own that is still unequaled by many comic book storytellers in today’s market. I just feel like Sakai doesn’t waste a space on the paper, and for that I can’t say anything but a thank you to him for sticking with Usagi Yojimbo and continually giving us good stories with everyone’s favorite sword wielding rabbit.

Usagi Yojimbo #142 is out on stands now!


The Bug Zapper
Writer/Artist: Tom Eaton

The Bug Zapper is an online web comic for kids from creator Tom Eaton. The Bug Zapper tells the tale of the superhero of the same name as he fights a variety of villains, all with bug names like Mean Mosquito and Bumblebeezy, to save the day. As the story rolls out, Eaton gives us a few laughs, an interesting origin story, and a lot of fun. The colorfully bright comic has that classic golden hero vibe, but with what could be compared to a more alternative comic look, and is told in a comic strip style format. Originally created by Eaton to use as a teaching tool to explain cartooning and storytelling concepts in classes he has taught, he has decided to keep going and expand the world of The Bug Zapper into an online all-ages web comic.

Although we are still early into the web comic with around 20 strips posted, it’s off to a great start. I think it’s fun and personally enjoy the style very much. It’s also cool to see an all-ages superhero title that’s new and not just a re-hash of an older character. I think The Bug Zapper is worth keeping your eye on and you can read it at: so check it out!


Something To Watch: Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva

I wasn’t going to review this for this week’s column, but this flick was so quality it took me by surprise, and I immediately had to pound the fingers to the keyboard about it. The Professor Layton brand started as a really hip puzzle-based mystery game on the Nintendo DS a few years back. Since its release it has spawned three sequel games with more to come, a manga that is still running in Japan since 2009, novels, and finally this feature film (with two more in the works). It is probably the biggest game franchise wise since Pokemon, although we’ll have to wait to see if it can become a titan like the latter. The film follows Professor Layton and his apprentice Luke, as they go to an opera to investigate the mystery behind a young girl who claims to be the reincarnation of the lead singer’s dead best friend. However, it turns out this production has more to offer, and the real reason to buy tickets to it is because one lucky guest is promised to receive eternal life by the end of the night. Suddenly, a group of masked men shows up and turns the theater into a giant boat that goes out to sea. Oh yes, one lucky guest will get eternal life, but at the price of gambling their lives while solving a series of puzzles until one survivor is left. This quickly leads to a series of high stakes, a lost kingdom, and much more. Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva is a well done piece of anime here, folks. If you are a fan of the games, all the character desgins and voices are here in all their glory. The animation is well done, having this great Miyazaki vibe to it, although not as good as Ghibli, but still very well done. Most importantly the puzzles are tied into the film nicely. I was nervous about how they would take a game about brain teasers and puzzles and translate it into something you can’t play on your handheld gaming device, but I think the cleverness in which they did it with makes up for any lack of interactivity. The DVD was just released this past week from Viz Media and contains both English-Dubbed (which is the version I watched for this review and was very happy with) and Japanese with subtitles. Check it out as your something to watch this weekend!


That’s it for this week! See you next week! Sending you kaiju-love from France!!!!

Drew McCabe



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