YOU ARE HERE
As promised last week, here's my review of Kyle Baker's latest effort, YOU ARE HERE.
It's a bit of a stylistic break from the previous two Baker graphic novels (COWBOY WALLY and WHY I HATE SATURN). It's not just a bunch of talking heads making comedy. Nope, this one has it all. It's got action, romance, sleaziness, cartoon physicality, and a fair amount of humor.
It's the story of Noel, a man leading a double-life in order to woo a woman. Then it all explodes on him. He's a city guy, rough and tumble. She's a country girl, enjoying the sunrises and sunsets, thinking the best of people and making new friends on every street corner.
It's one continuous story, rather than the series of set-ups and payoffs the previous two books have been. The story's the thing, and the characters quickly ingratiate themselves to the reader, in their own ways.
Baker's talking heads approach gives way to much more animated doings in this volume. We see a lot of physical action, as well as prat-falls and schtick. It seems as if Baker has studied John Kricfalusi, Tex Avery, and Chuck Jones for many parts. (Some of the animals look copied off of a Jones style sheet. And Oscar belongs in a Ren and Stimpy cartoon.)
Make no mistake: Baker can, indeed, tell a story cleanly. There's some great uses of panel-to-panel continuity to convey some otherwise tricky bits of business.
The other strange thing you might find in this book is that it's in color. I don't know what the process used is, but it's strange looking stuff. I assume it was done on a computer to some extent. Some of the stuff is blatantly scanned stuff, such as money seen in one character's hands. The computer also seems to have been used to fade the backgrounds a little bit to make the characters stand out.
Wait -- I just figured out what it is. The black lines on the characters are colored in so as to blend in better. The only black lines on the characters are in parts where there's supposed to be black seen in real life -- such as eyelashes or dark shadows.
The art takes some getting used to. I imagine for some that it will be outright hard to read. But if you can adapt to it, it works well and it's a great story.
YOU ARE HERE is different from Baker's earlier works, but is just as entertaining. It's a witty story, and one which might even make for a great movie script. You wouldn't need lots of special effects, that's for sure. And just like SATURN, it's a book you could share with a non-comics-reading female.
Just one warning, as part of my responsibility as a good reviewer/webmaster: This is a DV/Vertigo book. Situations and language portrayed in this book are not advisable for the kiddies.
I also read this week, at last, SUPERMAN ADVENTURES #27, written by Mark Millar, with pretty spiffy art from Aluir Amancio and Terry Austin. It delves into the reason why Luthor hates Superman so much. It tells a good story, and kicks you in the arse at the end. Very well done. I almost hate to say it, but I think I enjoy the stories in the comic book better than the animated series it is based on. Scott McCloud's early issues in this series should be read by any writer or artist who wants to ever work in the business. And I do believe there is a TPB collection the first batch right now. Go buy it!
A PLEA TO THE ARTISTIC
I'm trying to drum up some extra readers for the Pipeline Commentary and Review web site. What I'd like to be able to do is distribute buttons or banners for other people to link into my site with. But my computer artistry skills are not all that good, and my color coordination stinks. So if there's any amongst you who would like to whip up a couple of such banners or buttons, please let me know. Send me your graphics. I'd prefer smaller, simpler stuff. Use the acronym PCR, if need be. If I use them, I'll be sure to give you credit and a link to your web site of choice.
Reprints of this very same column have begun to appear in the Comic Book Net Electric Magazine (CBEM). CBEM is a weekly comic book oriented newsletter which is e-mailed every Friday to a little over 1100 people. Besides Pipeline, there's a ton of other review columns and commentary columns, as well as a lively letters to the editor section, tons of news and press releases, and a trivia contest. If you'd like to subscribe, you can get the information at their web site.