World Comic Book Review

3rd March 2024

Becoming Andy Warhol (Review)

Becoming Andy Warhol
Abrams Comicsart, 2016
Writer: Nick Bertozzi

To the best of our knowledge, the last time a comic book addressed the art and artistry of American pop art icon Andy Warhol was in a Vertigo Comics’ 2004 experimental project entitled “Vertical”. That stand-alone comic was unconventionally formatted to resemble a series of photographic frames. Writer and artist Mike Allred within “Vertical” told the story of a romance within the subculture of Mr Warhol’s base of operations, called the Factory, and artistically conveyed this using the plainly recognisable frames of reference of Mr Warhol’s brand of pop art.

“Becoming Andy Warhol” is slightly different from “Vertical” in that the plot, rather than the illustration of the story, is a manifestation of pop art. The comic consists of a sequence of chapters which capture Mr Warhol’s life both before he was famous, and as he became successful.

Read more

Honor and Curse #1 (review)

Honor and Curse #1 (review)
Mad Cave Studios, 2016
Writer: Mark London

Writing historical fiction can be difficult, and particularly when dealing with a place which has a different language and culture from that of the writer. This title is set in sixteenth century Kyoto. As far as historical accuracy goes, this comic does not capture it, with its improbably green-eyed heroes sporting long Dragonball-esque pony-tails instead of chonmage (the traditional topknot worn by Japanese fighters in the Edo period). If this issue has any significant flaw, it is that the writer, Mark London (who we assume like the publisher, Mad Cave Studios, is based in Florida), did not take more care to ground the story in medieval Kyoto by reference to landmarks which exist to this day, like Kamigamo-jinja Shrine.

Read more

An American heart of darkness

“Manifest Destiny”
Volume 1: Flora & Fauna
Volume 2: Amphibia & Insecta
Volume 3: Chiroptera & Carniformaves
2014-2016, Images Comics and Skybound Entertainment
Writer: Chris Dingess
Review by DG Stewart, 19 March 2016

Writer Joseph Conrad published his masterpiece novel “Heart of Darkness” in 1899. The novel described Mr Conrad’s experience with colonial barbarism in the Congo, as a study in the transience of human morality. While as a consequence of the commercial benefits of colonialism the small kingdom of Belgium was rendered increasingly wealthy, sophisticated and gentile, its colony in Africa became increasingly shadowy, the focus of unadulterated evil exerted by its European overlords. The vehicle for this novel is a perilous and increasingly disturbing journey up-river to meet a man named Kurtz who has by his experiences become stripped of humanity. It was and remains a profoundly disturbing and influential work.

Read more

“By Toutatis!”

The Historical Inaccuracy of Asterix
Pilote Magazine, Hachette, 1959-2010
Writers: Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo
Review by DG Stewart, 18 March 2016

“Asterix” is a comic book series comprising 36 volumes published over almost 60 years. The title character’s adventures have sold more than 300 million comic books and been translated into many languages (including, amusingly given the title character is often depicted fighting Romans, Latin). A national survey in France in 1969 indicated that two-thirds of the population of that country had read at least one of the Asterix comic books. As at the time of writer Rene Goscinny’s death in 1977, total sales in France of the comic book are said to have amounted to more than 55 million copies. “Parc Asterix” is a theme park in Paris based on the character’s adventures, and France has produced postage stamps featuring Asterix and his friends. Such is the title character revered in France that the first French space satellite, launched in 1965, was named “Asterix” in his honour. It is hard to think of any equivalent comic book character, measured by national recognition and success, in any Anglophone country.

Read more