Two issues of Richard Moore's BONEYARD are out so far, thanks to the geniuses at NBM Publishing. This is a book that popped out at me on the stands and I'm really glad I gave it a chance. It's a wonderful blend of genres, of story types, and of characters. At the heart of it, it's about a town at odds with its monster population. It has shades of the same type of story you get of prejudice along the lines of the X-Men, but it's much more light-hearted.
The story starts with Michael Paris arriving in the town of Raven's Hollow. His ostracized grandfather has died and left Michael some land, as part of his will. Paris arrives to discover that the land is a cemetery and the town's people are anxious to buy it from him so they can raze it. Why? Some undesirables live inside the cemetery, including a vampire, a werewolf with sunglasses, a corpse, a skeleton, and more. The town is fearful of its resident Universal movie monsters and wants to be rid of them.
Paris is befriended by the monsters that want to show him their side of the story. The book develops into a story of both clashing cultures as well as one of fantasy and wonder and just a touch of romance.
So far, the book is pretty light on plot. The second issue, aside from the opening scene, contains fairly little in the way of movement in the main plot. The bulk of the story so far seems to be the developing romance between Michael and the vampire girl, Abbey. The second issue introduces us to most of the residents of the cemetery. Moore handles this well, though. You're never struggling to get through it. The dialogue is crisp and humorous, which is a good thing for a book that's definitely driven by its dialogue and odd situations. There's a certain Simpsons-level humor to the book.
Moore develops a large cast of characters to draw from. He discusses it a bit in the letters column, and talks about how he has story ideas for each one of them and how they'll blend in and out of the stories as he goes along. I hope he starts that focus pretty soon. Now that the readers have been introduced to a great number of characters, it would seem to be the perfect time to focus on one or two and tell a concise story.
It seems like the big arc of this comic should be the battle between monsters and the scared townsfolk, with plenty of room for little stories amongst the monsters along the way. We'll have to see how it plays out in the coming months and issues.
Moore's art is very easy on the eyes. It's not quite an animated style, but it is fairly cartoony, which is probably the best way to handle talking skeletons and cool werewolves and the like. The characters all look unique. It's not just the same body type over and over again with slightly different noses and hairdos, even amongst the town's human population.
Abbey comes across as feminine and vampiric, without resorting to the typical malproportioned teenaged wet dream or sex-obsessed vixen. She's rather subdued and patient, which is nicely in opposition with your expectations. She spends a few pages topless in the second issue, for example. It's nothing gratuitous. It's all part of a gag and comes across as harmless, non-exploitive fun. You'll see when you read it for yourself. The important thing here is that Moore does not draw her as the buxom babe. He's not afraid to draw her as looking something human, and not Kate Moss-like. He has a relatively easy time covering up her chest with everything from limbs to sound effects. It's a dramatic scene that has a tinge of humor to it. (The elastic waistband disappears from her leggings between the end of the first issue and the beginning of the second, but that would be extreme nit picking. And the waistband probably didn't belong there in the first place, come to think of it.)
Issue three is due out in July, so you have plenty of time to find the first two issues. A preview of the third issue can be found on the Comic Brief, so check it out.
The book is a lot of fun and well crafted, if not terribly groundbreaking and format busting. Sometimes, you should just read a comic for the fun of it. BONEYARD is one such comic.
…feels off somehow. I guess in the grand scheme of the series it'll feel better. But the issue is mostly Walker chasing down the villain, a quick twist, a couple of quick endings, and the issue is over. The pacing suffers.
Michael Avon Oeming does pull off the grand finale chase scene well, with Walker chasing down the villain for nearly 14 silent pages. It's a suspenseful bit of storytelling, but it throws off the pacing of an otherwise dialogue-heavy storyline. I get the feeling that it will read much better in a trade paperback, when you can read it front to back in one sitting.
A couple of Brian Bendis' story points seem lost on me, too. What's the deal with the "spacial displacement" bit that happens in the middle? (I may be lost on that due to the art, in all fairness.) And is there something else being hinted at in the final scene of the story that goes back to the scene before it? (It's tough doing this column without spoilers sometimes…)
The cover is the homage to the Beatles' White Album, which is why I'm not going to scan it in to show it off here. The cover is all white. Haven't seen anything done like that in a while. Remember those black on black covers that were big about 8 or 10 years ago? There was a DEATHBLOW one that I can remember best, but one or two others came out at about the same time.
Bendis also devotes five pages in the back to letters, news, and his own recommendations and reviews. He's merciless on the letter writers and shows off his sarcastic side with his answers to the often nonsensical and insipid letters that are sent his way. Since like begets like, I imagine you'll be seeing more such hilarity and mayhem in future issues.
R.I.P. MAURICE NOBLE
The man worked all his life and was a genius at what he did. He designed the backgrounds you may remember on such cartoons as "Duck Dodgers and the 24 1/2 Century," "What's Opera, Doc?", and all those great Road Runner cartoons. He was 91 when he left us, but his legacy will live on forever, even if in ludicrously edited form on not-so-major television networks and in syndication. Yes, he also did plenty of work for Disney in their golden age, including "Dumbo" and "Snow White." For me, though, he'll always be the guy who made the design of much of the Chuck Jones/Mike Maltese filmography so spiffy-looking.
For more information on the man, check out his web site at www.nobletales.com.
CORRECTIONS AND UPDATES
DESPERADOES: In my review of the latest DESPERADOES mini-series, "Quiet of the Grave," I referred to it as a six-issue mini-series. It's only five issues. Please don't think you got cheated out of an extra issue when the series concludes after the fifth issue. Jeff Mariotte has also assured me that all five issues will make it to the stands. A trade is not assured, though, so buy the monthly issues. It's good stuff, anyway, so it's not like you're throwing your money down the drain or anything. It's John Severin, for goodness' sakes!
DAMAGE CONTROL: I reviewed the original mini-series here a couple of weeks ago. Katy Phelan e-mailed to fill in a knowledge gap I had:
"There were three four-issue long Damage Control series – the first one, which you reviewed; the second one, about a hostile takeover with a cameo from the Punisher; and a third one, about Damage Control: the Movie (Something I would love to see in real in life). I highly recommend them all."
I'm looking for them, Katy. Thanks for the tip. I managed to find one issue of the second mini in a fifty-cent bin in Pittsburgh. I still have Chicago and San Diego to work my magic.
NEW X-MEN: Something that perplexed a lot of people, judging by various message board postings I've seen in the past week, was the reference to Professor Xavier as being earlobeless. KAB wrote in with one possible explanation:
"In old European society, in a lot of cultures, people who were very "high class" or rich or of the aristocracy didn't have any earlobes like the commoners. I guess Morrison is just implying that Xavier is a high-class kinda guy."
Thanks, KAB! And for the rest of you who may have come in late, my review is posted here
X-TREME X-MEN: Although accounts of which issues she appeared in vary from e-mail to e-mail, I can say that the character of Sage is not a new one. She comes from the Claremont Hellfire Club.
While I'm talking about the book (again), I should also mention that Tom Orzechowski is lettering the book with a computer. The font so obviously comes from his natural lettering style that I didn't even realize it when I read the book the first time.
NEXT WEEK – FIVE ALL NEW PIPELINES
Don't forget to stop by Comic Book Resources again next week every weekday. In addition to the usual fine work by Beau Yarbrough with the Comic Wire on Monday, you'll see a special Pipeline Daily edition. Yes, the name gives it away: Pipeline is coming to CBR five times next week. It's only for one week, but we'll see how reaction is. If it seems to be something everyone likes, then who would I be to say no to doing more?
Lots of things are running through my head for columns next week, and it's tough to figure out where to start. One column will feature the return of the One-Liners format. I'm sure to have a bunch of previews for books due out on Thursday throughout the week. (Due to the Memorial Day holiday, books are delayed by a day this week across America.) I'll have a review of the CrossGen trade paperback line, just in time for the fourth and final one to come out next week. And I'll be sure to throw in a couple of surprises, as well.
More than 200 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically. The first 100 columns are still available at the Original Pipeline page, a horrifically coded piece of HTML.
This year, you can still catch me at the Chicago Comicon (i.e. WizardWorld) and the San Diego Comicon (i.e. the Comic Con International: San Diego). I'm also tentatively scheduled for a day at the Small Press Expo in Maryland this September.
So endeth the 100th straight week of Pipeline2. Where does the time go?