A review a day: <i>Friend of Dorothy</i> #1

Can you stand all the tiny press stuff? You'll have to, because here's another one!

As you know, I tend to get behind on my comic reviewing because of, well, other comic reviewing, plus that nasty real life that keeps intruding. I always feel bad when I fall a few months behind, because I don't want people who send me stuff to think I've forgotten about them. Such is the case with all of these tiny press books I've been reviewing, but I wanted to bring it up again because Brian Andersen, the creator of this latest comic, sent me an e-mail over two months ago and I'm just now getting around to reviewing his work.

Sorry, Brian!

Anyway, Friend of Dorothy is a new, three-issue mini-series written by Andersen, drawn by Neftali Centano, and lettered and colored by Falecia Woods. There's also a back-up story, "I Am Moxie Marvel," drawn by Jon Macy, which Anderson submitted to Zuda (it was not accepted). The first issue, which you can order at Indy Planet, costs five bucks.

I'll get the unpleasant stuff out of the way: I don't like Centano's art. It's very stiff, especially in the action scene in the comic, and very simplistic. Perspective is skewed poorly, there's no depth to the panels at all, and there's just a lack of dynamism to the pencil work. A few things are decent: While Gorlindo the witch is drawn as simplistically as everything else, Centano and Woods do some nice work with the effects. The first few pages, which are in black and white but slowly shade into color, work pretty well. And Dodo the dog (a descendant of Toto) is well drawn. But for the most part, Centano's art does nothing for me. In the back-up story, Macy is a bit more accomplished - his figure work on the superhero, Moxie Marvel, is pretty good, and he adds more details - but I don't love that art either. Visually, this comic is bright and fun (a credit to Woods), but the actual line work is lacking a great deal. It's an energetic look, which goes quite far, but I can't really recommend the artwork.

Andersen's story is better, which is nice.

A young boy named Scott-John lies on his bed, having sort-of attempted suicide (I write "sort-of" because he took pills, obviously trying to do himself in, but he fails and no one mentions it afterward, so who knows how serious it is?). Anderson lets us know on the second page that Scott-John is gay, but it's subtly done and isn't really all that important (so far, at least). A strapping man in pink appears in his bedroom, wakes him up, and tells him that he's Gorlindo of Oz - the good witch, who's usually seen as a woman - and that Scott-John is a "friend of Dorothy" and that he's been chosen to save both Oz and his own world. Why we don't know. Gorlindo gives Scott-John some spiffy knee-high ruby boots and some weapons (including the Tin Man's axe), then disappears. Then some evil scarecrows burst into his room to destroy him, but luckily Dodo shows up too and tells him how to deal with the "scrows," as they're known. After that, Scott-John and Dodo hop on a broom, and they're off!

It's a silly story, of course, and God knows we don't need another Oz-derived tale (damn you, public domain!). But Andersen has a nice sense of humor about it all, and the undercurrents of both this and the Moxie Marvel story are handled well. In the back-up story, a boy who worships Moxie Marvel discovers that he has become Moxie Marvel when the superheroine dies and transfers the power to him.

In Scott-John's story, the fact that our hero is gay is a small part of the book - his suicide seems partly inspired by a broken heart - but he's more a teenager who suddenly realizes he can kick ass than anything else. In the Moxie Marvel story, Chance is called a "homo" by people in his class, and the teacher says they're going to discuss it, something Chance does not want at all because it will put the spotlight on him even more. He just wants to be left alone, which is very teenagerish even if it's self-destructive. In both of the stories, Andersen does a good job with teenagers and how they view the world, and their sexuality doesn't have a ton to do with it. Andersen plays up the camp with regard to Gorlindo, but the fact that Scott-John and Chance are just, to use a loaded word, "normal" teens is a nice touch. Andersen introduces Scott-John's story quite well, and although there's not much original about Friend of Dorothy, the issue hums along nicely. Anderson isn't great with dialogue because it's a little heavy on exposition, but when he's not explaining things, Scott-John and Gorlindo and then Scott-John and Dodo have some nice exchanges.

Due to the art, I don't love Friend of Dorothy, but Andersen keeps the story humming along and he does a good job establishing the characters. I appreciate him giving me the chance to check out his stuff and I encourage you to head over to his web site and check it out yourself!

Tomorrow: Another indy anthology? Oh, the horror!

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