Monday, November 30, 2015

Sullivan's Sluggers

Written by Mark Andrew Smith
Art by James Stokoe

Sullivan's Sluggers is a very enjoyable oversized graphic novel, with amazing artwork by James Stokoe.  I'd like to focus on that in writing about it, but it's important to point out that this book became the poster child for caution when dealing with Kickstarter, and that writer and owner Mark Andrew Smith really did not make himself a lot of friends while preparing this book.  I don't want to go into it here - you can google it and learn the whole thing, I'm sure.

The book, read outside of the context of its production woes, is very good.  The Sluggers are a team of washed-up baseball players (and one plucky rookie) who travel from town to town to play in exhibition games.  They are  a rough bunch.  Their coach has rage issues, and most of them drink or do drugs.

They accept a job in the town of Malice, and all is going well until the sun sets, and we learn that everyone in town turns into gigantic monsters that like to eat people.  From there, we fall pretty quickly into Walking Dead territory, only with massive monsters.  There is a backstory to the town, and that keeps the story interesting.

What makes this book so great is Stokoe's art.  That would come as no surprise to anyone familiar with his work, but there are still many pages that impressed me (to say nothing of the fold-out page).  He's the reason why I wanted to read this book, although I did like the story, and really enjoyed the high-quality production values.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Meteor Men

Written by Jeff Parker
Art by Sandy Jarrell

I assumed that it was very likely that I would enjoy a graphic novel written by Jeff Parker, but I still came away from Meteor Men pleasantly surprised.

This OGN, beautifully illlustrated by Sandy Jarrell and coloured by Kevin Volo, is mostly set on a farm outside of a fair-sized town.  Alden Baylor is the teenage owner of the farm, inheriting it after his parents died.  He lives there with his uncle, and sometimes his uncle's friend (I like how Parker never quite nailed down the specifics of the relationship there), who is also an astronomer.

The book opens on the night that a comet is set to pass over the town, and Alden has invited anyone who wants to to sit out on his property to watch the show.  Everyone is a little surprised to see larger meteors crossing the night sky, and are even more surprised when one lands on the property.  It looks like a hollow shell that has split open.

Soon, Alden starts to see a strange-looking humanoid figure on his property, at the same time that we learn that hundreds of these meteors made it to Earth.  Eventually, as things get weirder, Alden, the adults around him, and the entire world realize that they have been visited by creatures from another world, although Alden sees their intent differently from the military or world leaders.

Parker has created an interesting character in Alden.  He's wise beyond his years, and a very capable teenager, but also very much a regular kid.  As things get stranger around him, his vision might be the only thing that can save people.

I liked this book a lot.  Jarrell's art, mixed with Volo's colours, looks terrific.  This book feels very much like a collaboration between people who have been working together for a long time, and much like Parker's series Underground, the story keeps you enchanted throughout.  This book didn't get a lot of press when it came out, but it deserves more recognition.