Monday, April 2, 2007

Hoopla! - Episode 15: Sienkiewicz, Vampires, and Zombies

Hello and welcome to Hoopla!, the li'l comic-book review column that could. This week is going to be kind of brief; I've spent the past few days presenting at my first conference (it went very well!) and dealing with dating-related stuff (some good, some annoying) and now I've really got to do some work on my dissertation or disaster will surely ensue.


I did want to bring your attention to this article from The article is about Steve Niles' next big "30 Days of Night" project, 30 Days of Night: Beyond Barrow. As you may or may not know, 30 Days of Night was a limited series by Niles and Templesmith about vampires showing up in the small town of Barrow, Alaska, for 30 days of no sunlight. It was kind of a clever idea and the art was good, but I can't say that I'm really a big fan of it or of the several sequels/prequels/spin-offs that followed. Just not my kind of thing.

However, there is one thing that makes the upcoming 30 Days of Night: Beyond Barrow limited series extremely interesting to me, and that's the artist: Bill Sienkiewicz.

Like many comic-book readers, I was first exposed to Sienkiewicz's art in those early New Mutant issues he did with Chris Claremont. I remember picking up the big bear storyline because of the bizarre cover and being completely overwhelmed and mystified by the story inside. My first Sienkiewicz experience was very similar to my initial reaction to Alan Moore's work (early issues of his run on Swamp Thing) which was sort of a horrified cognitive dissonance. I couldn't figure out what the hell I was looking at and I wasn't at all certain that I liked it. It was different, but it wasn't what I was expecting.

In both cases, I originally put the issue away and thought, "Well, that's not really my kind of thing," but then kept thinking about it afterwards, pulling it back out to look it over, until finally I realized that what I was looking at was absolutely brilliant.

I followed Sienkiewicz's work through his limited series, Stray Toasters, the art he did on Big Numbers, and his various "normal" super-hero titles.

Sigh. Beautiful, beautiful stuff.

So, I am VERY much looking forward to 30 Days of Night: Beyond Barrow. Unfortunately, the article doesn't specify when it's coming out, but as soon as I learn anything, I'll be sure to pass the information along.

My other recommendation this week is a book that I just recently finished reading: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. Written by Max Brooks, World War Z is a series of interviews/oral histories with various people who have lived through the zombie invasion of Earth. The stories are in chronological order, so you really get a sense of what it was like in the beginning, before the plague was officially acknowledged, how various nations reacted and the politics involved in those responses, the panic as the news of the zombie invasion became official, various military campaigns (some successful, some not so successful), the efforts of some people to head up north where the cold would keep the zombies away, etc. A couple of stories don't work quite so well as others, but most of them are pretty damn good.

What I really enjoyed about World War Z is that it felt authentic. Reading World War Z, it feels like you're reading an actual history, which is no small feat, considering the subject matter. Brooks has really thought through how life on Earth would change if zombies were real and if every time someone died, they came back as the unliving dead. And what I extra-especially enjoyed was the politics of how various governments ignored the threat or tried to exploit it and how international squabbles and distrust prevented world leaders from sharing information and planning cooperative strategies.

If you liked Romero's Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, and Dawn of the Dead or if you're currently enjoying Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead or Marvel's various zombie titles, this is the larger scale version of those. It's smart, it's funny (in a macabre sort of way), it's strangely realistic, and it's very enjoyable.

Well, that's all for this week, but next week I'll get back to reviewing comics and such and so forth. Until then, I hope you have a most excellent week and that no one messes with your continuity!

1 comment:

M said...

Wait, these Zombie stories aren't true?!? I'm confused.