Saturday, August 01, 2009

Read in July

Another month has come and gone, so it's time for my link-dump. This is mostly an index to the book-reviewing part of Antick Musings, but there are several short takes interspersed, of things that I read but didn't write at (greater) length about elsewhere. Most of the title links lead to my reviews; the others go to a certain large Internet retailer, should you want to buy something.
  • China Mieville, The City and the City (7/1)
  • Richard Zacks, History Laid Bare (7/3)
  • Various, The Witchblade Compendium, Volume One (buy it?) (7/4)
  • Jason, I Killed Adolf Hitler (7/5)
    The word that can never be avoided in any discussion of Jason's comics is "deadpan" -- Jason defines deadpan, with his utterly expressionless anthropomorphic characters. They all have large animal heads, but their faces are blank; even their eyes are white Little Orphan Annie-esque holes most of the time. Jason also avoids explanatory captions, and his blank-faced people are pretty laconic, too. So the reader is left with just the surface -- just the events Jason dramatizes -- without any viewpoint from author or character. This is his most famous book so far -- though the recent story "Low Moon," which was serialized in The New York Times Magazine, is coming up quickly. And it's deeply deadpan, the story of a hired killer -- in a world where his job is apparently as commonplace and pedestrian as plumbing, never mind what that would do to a society -- given the job to travel back in time to kill Hitler. Of course, it's not that simple, and I Killed Adolph Hitler adds the the twisting intricacies of a time-travel plot to Jason's usual bag of tricks. It's funny, but in a quiet, sly way (I won't use the "d" yet word again, even if it is applicable), and it does live up to that striking title.
  • Jonathan Rosenberg, Goats: Infinite Typewriters (7/5)
  • Emmanuel Guibert, Didier Lefevre, & Frederic Femercier, The Photographer (buy it?) (7/6)
  • Rafael Reig, A Pretty Face (7/7)
  • Lars Brown, North World, Vol. 1 (7/8)
    This is yet another webcomic finding its way into print, but North World told longer, serialized stories to begin with. (And I always find those harder to read online -- I certainly like longer comics stories, but I don't find the page-a-day online format works all that well for me; I need to read a lot more than one page of a longer story at a time.) This takes place in one of those worlds that's just like ours, but. The but in this case is vaguely D&Dish; the cities and towns are all on the outskirts of a dangerous wilderness, in which live various nasty creatures, and there's a "Guild" that hires fighters to go out and slaughter those creatures. (And, in the best gaming fashion, the beasts don't seem to be doing anything other than living their lives and not making much trouble when the "hero" types show up to kill them for experience and gold. It's a hard life, being an NPC.) Our hero in this book is Conrad, an overconfident and underskilled warrior with a loud mouth and less appeal than Brown thinks he has. Other than his job, this first volume of North World is a pretty standard twentysomething story -- he's coming back to the town he grew up in, and he's doing decently in his chosen career, though not as well as he'd like to, and he needs to come to terms with his past. (Yes, it's Garden State + fighting giant bears. If you said "Awesome!" to that, you might as well pick this book up.)
  • Ray Fawkes & Cameron Stewart, The Apocalipstix, Vol. 1 (7/9)
    After the apocalypse, only rock 'n roll will survive! The Apocalipstix takes a premise straight from '80s cheapies -- a three-girl rock band roving a devastated USA, looking for gigs, fame, and uncontaminated food -- and makes it a fun comic that knows just how silly it is, and doesn't try to convince us that it's serious. Stewart's art -- clean and animation-inspired on the main figures, detailed in that manga-studio way on the backgrounds -- is particularly good here. This won't win any awards, but it's an adventure comic with a lot of fun, a thrash of power chords, and a light touch.
  • Rick Geary, Famous Players (buy it?) (7/10)
  • Jonathan Tropper, This Is Where I Leave You (7/10)
  • Jack Sheehan, Skin City (7/12)
  • Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (7/15)
  • Glenn Eichler & Nick Bertozzi, Stuffed! (buy it?) (7/16)
  • Harlan Ellison, The Other Glass Teat (7/16)
  • David Ratte, Toxic Planet (buy it?) (7/17)
  • Lucy A. Snyder, Installing Linux on a Dead Badger and Other Oddities (7/17)
  • Ian Fleming, Casino Royale (7/21)
  • Ian Fleming, Live and Let Die (7/23)
  • Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi, The Dictionary of Imaginary Places, Second Edition (7/25)
  • Ian Fleming, Moonraker (7/29)
And that's all she wrote.

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