Monday, May 4, 2009

Fanboy

Here's how this works. I read a book or two and tell you about them and try not to get too long-winded. This time, a review of Fanboy (DC, 2001).



When Fanboy, a very silly miniseries by Mark Evanier and the great artist Sergio Aragon├ęs, set in the sidelines of the DC Universe and featuring a hero-obsessed comic shop employee fighting censorship and being oblivious to the girl who loves him, was originally released in 1999, I was not interested in trying it. That's despite all the fun guest art by the likes of Russ Heath, Gil Kane, Dave Gibbons, Brian Bolland and Bruce Timm illustrating various fantasies and daydreams of our hero, the geeky Finster. I plead being a boring person and not really noticing it, and not having been led back to the usual Mad Magazine gang of idiots by my son yet.

Well, three months back, we went to see the artist give a lecture and receive the Jack Davis Distinguished Artist award at UGA and popped by Bizarro Wuxtry beforehand so that my son could get something new signed beyond the older books he owns. (You did read about that, didn't you?) Bizarro had the collected edition of Fanboy along with several of Sergio's other books, so I bought a copy for my son, and he finally let me read it a couple of weeks ago.

I think the most honest way to describe this book is that it's incredibly sweet, with a relaxed pace and a desire to make readers smile. I don't believe I laughed out loud while reading it, but I spent a lunch hour with it and grinned from start to finish. There are points where the motions are not at all original - hey, Finster, guess what, the girl you're crazy about will never feel the same for you - but it's all done with such style and such a light touch that it seems fresh and different. In some ways, it feels like the inverse of Kyle Baker's fabulous Plastic Man comic from a few years back. There, Baker was bludgeoning the sacred cows of the DC Universe in a wild, over-the-top manner. Aragon├ęs and Evanier's decision to gently tease conventions results in something nowhere as raucous, but nonetheless very satisfying. Recommended for all ages.

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