Wednesday, July 3, 2013


What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Papa (Greentea Publishing, 2013).

A writer named Vera Greentea dropped me a line to let me know about a really entertaining anthology of comics that she has written. It's a 56-page book comprising three grisly and dark stories, each effectively similar to a Tharg's Terror Tale with a very loose theme of a father's decision having unplanned and frightening consequences.

In the case of the first story, "Papa," that might be a little unfair to the dad in question. This episode, illustrated by Joseph Lacroix, sees a famous superhero's body washing up on the shore beneath a beach house. The hero's costumed corpse is found by a little boy whose dad has spent the last three years writing a biography of the superhero. Sadly, all of his research has blinded him to a reality about superheroes: they never die.

Ben Jelter got the fun task of designing and illustrating my favorite of the three tales. "The Princess and the Robot" is an odd, timelost fairy tale that incorporates winking nods to modern life, including a reference to windshield baubles attached by suckers, in a strange land of kings and princesses, royal courtiers, DNA splicing, and giant robots. The script pares the action down to its key points, leaving a lot of the activity in the reader's imagination. Jelter's artwork is just sublime, and the story rushes along to a simple and effective climax, with a final, unbelievably gruesome kick in the pants in the very last panel. This isn't just the best story in the book, it's the best one-off story I've read anywhere in a couple of months.

While I could not embrace "Nightbirds," drawn by Lizzy John, nearly as much, it occupies the right place in the collection and is the longest of the stories. It's a moody and slow-paced tale of a very strange future world, where a handful of survivors of some wild catastrophe - suburban homes are buried under tons of dirt and sand, accessible by chimneys - eke out a sad survival while being preyed upon by huge, human-sized birds. Here, the father's failing is obvious and tragic: he's neglecting his child while trying to prove his theories about the possible angelic origin of these creatures. It's a strange and exotic story that needs all of the pages that it uses to breathe well.

All told, this is a downright fine collection. I enjoyed the chance to meet these four creators and look forward to seeing more work from each of them. Clicking the image above will take you to Greentea's site where you may order Papa and see other comics that she's created. Happily recommended.

A PDF of this book was provided by the publisher for the purpose of review. If you'd like to see your comics or detective fiction featured here, send me an email.

No comments: