New York Comic Con. Red Moon. Rust 3. Spera 4..

The New York Comic Con has hulked out and grown into an absolute monster.  What was once a two and a half day convention for comics industry fans and professionals has swollen to a 4 day carnival of brightly colored fantasy-made-flesh  overflowing the 1,800.000 square feet of the Javits Center and meandering out into the streets of New York.

And I love it for all of its excess, perhaps because of the excess,  for those moments of sublimely surreal humor interspersed with the chance to discover brilliant new works or talk with comics publishers and professional.  I suspect it is the only place where you can have a conversation with publisher Mark Siegel of First Second press (purveyor of high quality literary comics like Gene Yang’s masterpiece Boxers and Saints) only to glance over your shoulder as a nine foot tall zombie staggers by supporting himself on the shoulders of two zombie nurses.   A totally normal occurrence at the Comic Con.

In years past the Con had a day set aside for professionals and on those days it was easy to sweep the entire show floor to make a quick first pass and then cycle back to the exhibits you needed to stop by to get business done.  With the swelling popularity of the Convention, that day is now gone.  As of last year the Thursday professional day began selling one day tickets and now every day is a Tokyo-rush-hour crush of costumed lunacy, with every aisle packed with a bazaar of the fantastic and bizarre.

So okay it makes it tougher to get serious business done, shuffling along at the pace of a medicated madhouse patient, pausing every few seconds to gawp or to make room for people to take pictures of each other in costume, but once you get into the rhythm and allow things to take their time, you will still make great discoveries and get into interesting conversations with the people who make imagination their life.  The trick then is to simply take your time, and let the con come to you.  Or go every day all day for a few days in a row as I do.  It took a determined effort but I did in fact manage to hit the whole show and to twice pass through Artists Alley (in another warehouse section separated from the show floor) and to chat with the folks who crank out the ideas and images that find expression (in costumes and movies and books and video games) throughout the rest of the building.

Which is the best part:  meeting artists whose works I admire, or better yet find new works that are begging for a wider audience.  Best of all, every year I come back loaded down with GREAT NEW BOOKS to share with you all.  Both on our shelves at the Library and in reviews in these pages.   (See after the jump), and watch this space for a preview of more new books added to the shelves of our collection.

Kids and Young Adult books:

The collected Red Moon by Carlos Trillo & Eduardo Risso (Dark Horse 2014).

Antolin meets red Moon and her friend the very invisible Mr Bran.

Antolin meets red Moon and her friend the very invisible Mr Bran.

Finally in one volume, now published in the US, it took me years to track down all 4 volumes of these books by this Argentinian pair (published by SAF, in Europe).  Now they are available for a larger market, and good thing, that.

Red Moon is the story of a young acrobat Antolin and a half-fairy princess Moon who are thrown together by fate to save a kingdom.  A charming spritely fairy tale, the characters’ pluck and moxie carry them through where curiosity and impulse draw them to trouble.    An easily loping tale, wit and humor carry the book.  Best of all this translation removes a word or two that had pushed the book to our Young Adult collection; this version is appropriate for all ages.

Rust volume 3 The Death of Rocket Boy,  by Royden Lepp (Archaia)

One of my favorite discoveries at NYCC in years past (reviewed here) I eagerly await each volume of Rust.  The story is set in an alternate history or near future following a great war where men and robots contested on a battleground evocative of the killing fields of  World War One.  The war is over now and folks struggle to return to normal routine.  On a quiet prairie farm a rocketpack-wearing boy roars into the picture, stalked by a mechanical war machine.  With some help from the homesteaders the boy defeats the war ‘bot.   Subsequent volumes follow what happens then as he joins the family as a migrant worker, seeming to enjoy disappearing into the routine of life on a family farm.   Secrets of his past seem to follow him though– deadly secrets, and men from a shadowy organization are hunting for him.  Will he ever truly find peace?  This current volume suggest the answer may be ‘no’…

The sparse word count and captionless panels evoke the long silences one probably gets used to on a prairie farm like that of the setting.  This story has its own pace, tense in the stillnesses, the quiet punctuated with moments of emergency and desperate action.    The sepia tint monochromatic art gives a timeless feel to the story, and truly the subplot (of a family struggling to make farm life work) rings true in any era.   The next volume will complete the story, I look forward to re-reading all volumes in one sitting since I devour each volume so quickly.

Rust v3 Interiors Proof-47 Rust v3 Interiors Proof-48 Rust v3 Interiors Proof-49_1

We have the book shelved in our all-ages section (no foul language, no suggestive costuming nor the adolescent-fantasy bulgy men and women of hero comics, no blood, no gunplay as of yet…)  though in this volume a loved character does fall and maybe die .    Anyone who has watched Bambi or the Lion King will understand the drama of this sort of loss, and understand its place in a story for any age of reader.  The difference is this volume finishes on that dramatic note, leaving sensitive readers with many months before the next volume to find out what happens next, so if you have a sensitive soul hold off on reading this volume until the next one is out.  Otherwise, this series is highly recommended.

 

Spera: Ascension of the Starless, by Josh Tierney  (Archaia)

spera ascension starless

 

The 4th book set in Tierney’s world, this begins a new story arc following the protagonists of the first series.  Princesses Pira and Lono are fugitive from their respective courts, their kingdoms at war with one another.

In the first trilogy they found themselves on the road, learning to become proper adventurers.  Accompanied by the fire spirit Yonder (who takes the form of a hound of fire or a burly red-haired traveler) and the dour warrior tabby cat Chobo, they meandered from one trouble to another with little direction beyond following the call of the road.

In this new arc they have a more dire purpose.  Seeking to thwart the plans of  princess Pira’s mother the evil Queen of the Starless kingdom, they must convince the nobles of the court of Spera of this rising danger.  Invasion is imminent, delay is deadly, but these two being who they are, Pira and Lono do detour and meander a bit while chatting the whole time and making new friends.  Their relationship and personalities carry the story as the brash and headstrong Pira teaches the eager but heretofore over-protected princess Lono in the ways of swashbuckling adventure.  In this volume we get to see Lono develop some savvy and skill from her experiences in the first trilogy as she manages her crossbow with well-timed and well aimed shots and seems duly impressed with the results.

One of the best aspects of this series is that while Tierney does write the throughline of the story, each chapter is illustated by a different artist.  We live in a great time of undiscovered talents waiting to be revealed, and this book provides a venue for artists world-wide to find a small spotlight, which makes it a treasure trove for people seeking to discover new favorites to track down and follow.  Distinctly differing styles matter less than the overall brilliance of their collective draftsmanship, each manages their own iconographic style.

The jumble of a half dozen distinct illustrators does lead to occasionally awkward jumpcuts between chapters as artists pick up where they think the other may have left off,  each writing their own chapters more or less simultaneously it seems perhaps missing important transitions.  But all in all the work is stellar and worth the discovery.  If you have not read Sera 1-3 go back and do so to give yourself an excuse to pick up the 4th volume for your eyes to feast on yet another impressive collection of under-known but soon to be appreciated artists.

We keep this collection on our young adult shelf as there are deaths by sword and arrow realistically rendered if not in a terribly gory way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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