Aaaand we return and begin again with three reviews of things that aren't even out yet. Because, really, I'm just that damn popular that everyone can't help but show me previews.* GARAGE BAND: Garage Band may be the most beautiful book released this year. Gipi's artwork for it is stunning, all watercolor washes for landscapes and skies and busy, excitable linework for the characters themselves; it's one of those books that might be worth it for the art alone, without every reading any of the words attached. Imagine a less precious Jon J Muth, with a teenage Dave McKean helping out with the figures, and you might have some kind of idea what the book looks like. It's really something. Sadly, the art maybe dominates the book too much - the writing definitely seems to give the art enough room to show off, but at the cost of the plot... Each chapter of the book is too slight, too much of a specific scene or feeling to really allow for any plot development, leaving the end of the book as unsatisfying, because it doesn't feel earned. Despite that, though, I really enjoyed this; maybe I'm just a sucker for the amazing artwork, but it still seemed a high Good/low Very Good to me.
THE HOMELESS CHANNEL: For everyone who - like me - has been watching Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip and thinking "Whatever happened to the old Aaron Sorkin? You know, the good one?" then you should probably pick up this book when it comes out (which is, I think, in May). I mentioned it here a couple of weeks ago, I think; it's the first graphic novel from a local creator called Matt Silady, a collection/expansion on a series of minicomics he made of the same name, and I have to admit that it's something that pretty much blew me away. I keep coming back to Sorkin as a touchstone when I talk to people about it (which means that it's probably someone like Mamet, but I'm uncultured, so what can you do?), because there are so many things that Silady does that reminded me of Sportsnight here - Definitely the dialogue is the most obvious, but the interplay of the characters and even the motivation of the characters and the way that's played out through the story reminded me of Sorkin back when he was really trying hard (The latter becomes more obvious as you get to the end of the book, I think, but that may just be me). There's something about the writing that feels both authentic and hyper-real at the same time, the dialogue given a very enjoyable stylization that makes conversations both familiar and the way that you wish people would talk, and a plot that often threatens to fall straight into the overly sincere and preachiness of early Brian Wood but manages to keep its balance all along, right up until the end. In a strange way - and I mean this as a compliment - it doesn't feel like a comic in many respects, because of the way the story is told; the focus and pace feel less selfconscious than most comics that try for this kind of mainstream drama, allowing everything to happen without the author's hand being too evident throughout. It's a fascinating book, to me; something that I finished and immediately started reading again, because I enjoyed reading it so much and felt as if there were things that I had missed and wanted to go back to check. It's not perfect, of course (the artwork at the start is a little too sparse and kind of stalled the reading process for me in a weird way, but that self-corrects throughout the book to the point where, halfway through, it's working really well), but it is Very Good, and, I feel, a pretty damn impressive debut book from one of the more interesting new creators I've seen in a long time.
THE PROFESSOR'S DAUGHTER: Brian has already raved about this, and he's entirely right. Taking the humanity, gentle romance and comedy of Joann Sfar's Vampire Loves (and am I really the only person who thought that book was wonderful? It was every teenage romance I never had, with added monsters) and matching it with the really gorgeous watercolor artwork of Emmanuel Guibert, this is an amazingly wonderful book that manages to tell what should be a goofy story (Boy meets girl, except that boy is a 3000 year old mummy and girl is the daughter of the professor who discovered said mummy. Oh, and she accidentally murders some people and they have to go on the run) with such heart and wit that it becomes something that's sincere and touching at the same time as funny and smart. It's the book to show to everyone who wonders what this whole comic thing is about, because it's just done so well that it's impossible not to be completely captivated by it (As I said a couple of weeks ago, I pushed this on the houseguests we had, neither of whom read comics, and they were both sucked in). Excellent, and the kind of thing that you want everyone in the world to read. I loved this book to pieces and then some.
* - This is untrue. But if anyone at DC is reading this and feeling particularly susceptible today, I'd really like to read The Plain Janes, please.