by Matthew Thurber
1-800-MICE feels worth your $23. It's beautiful and has a good weight in the hand. Matt Groening gives props on the cover and you think: "This is a book I could really spend some time in. This is an afternoon, or several afternoons, to be spent in Volcano Park with the super-speedy mice messengers of 1-800-MICE." It's good that you think that, because that's how much time you have to put into 1-800-MICE to get the most out of it. The narrative is daunting in the first issue in this collection, but things really begin to roll by the second. That said, don't feel stupid at first: This book is confusing. It jumps around unreasonably. Then suddenly, almost unfairly, 1-800-MICE becomes capriciously funny. MICE often feels like creator Matthew Thurber made up future plot points by putting pen to paper and just going for it. I would encourage the reader to embrace the same mentality. MICE has a trueness to it. The voices found within are rewarding and new, presented beneath a veil of funny mice and exciting art.
by Brian Ralph
(Drawn & Quarterly)
This post-apocalyptic story about zombies does not begin in a hospital or on an abandoned expressway. Therefore it's already special. The layouts and panels are simple, yet rough and lovely. There's a meter to their flow and to the viewer's corresponding movement. This level of pacing is exciting to see from Brian Ralph, a founding member of the Fort Thunder art collective. Yet despite its maturity, Daybreak retains an eerie heart.
Daybreak has a second-person point of view: From the first page, a one-armed man addresses you. You move through the action, and the disorientation inspires a strong loyalty. I worried about my one-armed friend in a way I never have about any other zombie book character, and I spent a long time thinking about the end after it was through.
The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists
(Drawn & Quarterly)
Canadian cartoonist Seth delivers a partly fictional, largely historical prequel to 2005's Wimbledon Green, a story about comic-book collecting. This is another second-person experience: The panels show only an eye-level view of the once- stately Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists membership club as Seth narrates a walkthrough. The book's main features are the long historical yarns Seth tells as you pause by various displays. I read the book with my left hand on Wikipedia and did not regret it.
A Flight of Angels
by Rebecca Guay
An angel falls to earth, a faerie lord shows up, and before we know it, we're in people-standing-around-in-a-circle-telling-stories time. Vertigo has been trying to canonize this narrative device for years. (Guys, there are other ways to do a short- story anthology.)
Created and illustrated completely by Rebecca Guay, the variance and beauty of each story's comic are truly impressive. I only wish there'd been a better editor. Things begin with an Adam and Eve story, which is expletive inducing for how well worn this territory is for Vertigo. Knowledge, knowledge, snake, tree—the story is awful, but the paintings are very pretty despite their glorification of tribal tattoos. In the next tale, the book proposes that angels can be picked up in bars. Angels drinking when they're sad? Hey, it's like this story about supernatural beings is really about people! The other stories are more of the same. I will say what my editor said when she handed it to me: This is a very pretty book about angels.