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American Comics
Prime Baby
Prime Baby
Graphic Novel Review

For many people, a baby is always a blessing, but not for Thaddeus Fong. He believes that his baby sister is an alien messenger from space. Oh, and he also wants to be King of the World. So now how will he let the world-know of what he realized? Will he ever get back his rightful place in his parent's eyes?

Prime Baby Prime Baby is a short paperback with three panel vividly colored comic strips bound to amuse any siblings or readers who have felt the same about a younger sibling, and with a quick entertaining imagination. Yang comes through with Prime Baby.

Prime Baby This story is said to be inspired from real life, and was first serialized in the New York Times Magazine. For any fan, reader of comic should know that, the author Gene Luen Yang is. Several years ago, his book, American Born Chinese was the first graphic novel to win the Michael L. Printz Award for young adult literature. Now Yang has produced the plot/story for this, but art credits fall to Derek Kirk Kim, who the author has also previously collaborated with for another work Eternal Smile.

Reviewed by Linda Yau, December 2010

Dresden Files Graphic NovelDresden Files Graphic Novel
Dresden Files Graphic Novel
Graphic Novel Review

Ever since Jim Butcher first pressed those fateful buttons on his word processor, wizard/private eye Harry Dresden has had many adventures in many a novel. His success caught the interest of the Sci-Fi channel, and a series was commissioned. His television battles with the supernatural, however, didn't prove too popular. The show fizzled out after a season.

Dresden Files Graphic NovelPerhaps it's just as well, Harry's author didn't see the work as a live-action series anyway. He had his heart set on an animated series. Or at least, a graphic novel. Such a graphic novel has finally seen the light of day. An original story featuring pencils by Ardian Syaf. Harry Dresden is taking on the comic book industry courtesy of Dabel Brothers and Del Rey books.

Welcome to the Jungle begins with a brutal mauling in the Lincoln Park Zoo. Harry suspects that something a little more exotic than a human assailant did in the security guard and wreaked mayhem. What he finds is a little too intense, and way too weird for the local constabulary to get behind. Things get weird, cultish, and very dangerous. Welcome to the Jungle. Welcome to the world of Harry Dresden.

Reviewed by Laurence Sufrin, April 2009

American Manga Review

Okay, I admit it. I've got a fetish for Wonder Woman in bondage. But the good news is, Adam Warren's "Empowered" is just the ticket for a guy like me. Not only is this super hot chick in a skintight revealing costume, but the costume seems to get torn to shreds with stunning regularity, and since the suit provides her super-powers, she often winds up tied up by the bad guys as well.

EmpoweredArtist/Writer Adam Warren who first exploded into the national spotlight with the first "English Language Manga" with the now-legendary "Dirty Pair" comic book (which seemed to be more Dirty Pair than even the Japanese could manage) has cooked up a funny, sexy, skebe, almost darn-near-hentai, laugh-out-loud lampoon on the costumed superhero scene with a character who has "issues", body-image problems and self-esteem as fragile as fine crystal, while ultimately being vulnerable and appealing, in that "tied to the train tracks" kind of way.

Warren's knockout artwork is a fabulous comic-book/anime-crossover hybrid that is both sultry and urban with confident lines and a true sense of style. Sample pages are all over the internet, and publisher Dark Horse isn't shy about putting a lot online to generate interest.

"Empowered" has a supporting cast which is full of lovelies in their undies, so if barely dressed gals kicking butt turns you on, definitely pick it up. Not since Cutey Honey has there been a superhero that needs to get naked so often...


Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, March 2008

Templar, Arizona
Templar, Arizona
American Manga Review

Young Benjamin Kowalski awoke one morning to a slice of life. It was served up hot and spicy, just the way the locals take it.

Ben is a newcomer to Templar, Arizona. (His mother and his shrink would feel a lot better if they knew where he was.) He landed a job on the town's tabloid, (The Crusade). Ben knows how lucky he is to get the job. He ain't gonna blow it. So he doesn't mind when his editor, Mr. Pierce, has threatened him with bodily harm. There was a bonus in that threat somewhere. That's very good news.

Templar, ArizonaBen's new life is full of eccentrics. His landlady talks like she's from Jersey (lots of cussing). She insists on giving Ben a guided tour of the town. Ben gets a gander at the people, places and things that make Templar unique even for Arizona. (You have got to see the statue of Jimmy Carter.)

Ben might be the central character, but the real star of the show is Templar, Arizona. Every town has its own vibe, and yowee, does this place ever vibe. It isn't someone's idea of utopia. It ain't some depressing dystopia, either. (The artist/writer, "Spike", won't allow it to be.) It's just a town where life begins, where life ends, where life goes on. Things might be a bit crazy but the strip doesn't swerve into the land of Oz. Despite its eccentricities, the town feels very real. The streets are full of very real people (even the ones wearing wicker baskets on their heads). You won't just read this strip. You can almost smell it.

Templar, Arizona is a nice place to visit, and it's only a click away. It's a webcomic, and its first installments have just been collected into a nice little booklet published by Iron Circus Comics. (And they said computers and the internet would kill print once and for all. HA!)

Templar, Arizona

Reviewed by Lawrence Sufrin, March 2008

Best of Josie and the Pussycats
Best of Josie and the Pussycats
Graphic Novel Review

As fans of the wonderful art and incredible creativity of Dan DeCarlo, we *love* Josie and The Pussycats (which is a precursur to all anime — consider that it's a trio of shapely animated women in skin-tight cat outfits — how "anime" is that?), anime as we know it owes a huge debt to all the Archie Comics (Rumiko Takahashi's smash hit "Urusei Yatsura" is really just the Archies with a space-princess twist) in general, but Josie and the Pussycats holds a special place in all our hearts because it's just so bizarre and risqué.

Josie and the PussycatsAlthough the TV series played down some of the more *ahem* "interesting" parts of the comics series, it should be noted that drummer Melody, the ditzy, voluptuous blonde, is such an object of men's attention that she can cause traffic accidents by walking by in a bikini.

Valerie is the most intelligent member of the Pussycats. In the animated TV series, Valerie's expertise with all things electronic and scientific is what usually gets the Pussycats out of the jams they always seem to find themselves in. Valerie is notable as the first African-American cartoon character on a regular animated television series.

Also notable in the TV series is the fantastic music (including Charlie's Angel Cheryl Ladd as the singing voice of Melody). Who can't love this stuff?

Review by Brian Cirulnick, January 2007

Emily the STRANGE
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Emily: The Strange
Graphic Novel/Art Book Review

Meet Emily, the peculiar soul with long black hair, a wit of fire, and a posse of slightly sinister black cats. Emily the Strange, her first book, captures the quintessential Emily, featuring her most beloved quips and a host of new ones, i.e "Emily doesn't break rules, she breaks hearts", (or something to that effect). If your a fan of Edward Gorey or listen to too much goth music then this is the book for you!

It's a combo of goth, anime and catgirl!Anarchist, heroine, survivor, this little girl with a big personality appeals to the odd child in us all. One of the best parts of this book is the unique use of ink - figure/ground reversal...implied by the cover, much of the art is silouhette. Another wonderful feature is the printing...they really made use of veneer techniques, i.e. if you look at certain pages at the right angle in the right light, you can see phantasmagoric typography , "cat eyes", and other such hidden treasures.

Reviewed by Michael Pinto, May 2002

Graphic Novel Review

Frank Miller's gothic graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns may be the best selling comic book of all time, but Alan Moore's Watchmen is certainly the greatest. Thought-provoking, inspired, revolutionary and very very deep, you'll find yourself reviewing the issues brought up within this story over and over again. Vigilantism is outlawed, costumed characters who fight crime are weirdoes who have "issues", and someone is wiping them out, one by one.

Clearly, some of the salient points of story do relate more to the time they were written for (the late 80's), but the premise is still so compelling that the story remains solid. Dave Gibbons' art is cinematic and detailed to the extreme. This is the book that forever changed the way the comic book industry thought about the art form. Have it, read it, love it. Watchmen is it.

Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, September 2003

Strange Stories for Strange Kids
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Strange Stories for Strange Kids (Little Lit, Book 2)
Graphic Novel Review

If you are a fan of “Raw” comics from the 80s this book is a must have for underground comix fans who want something different. Editors Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly have packed so much top-notch talent into this flabbergastingly funny all-ages comic collection that you'll have a terrible time deciding what to read first. You'll find some of the most hilarious, intelligent, and diverse short comics around inside these pages: Maurice Sendak's omnivorous infant gobbles up everything in sight in "Cereal Baby Keller"; David Sedaris pairs up with Ian Falconer to define true cuteness; "Where's Waldo?" creator Martin Handford searches for old socks; Paul Auster (yes, that Paul Auster) and Jacques de Loustal's offering follows a man who's found he's disappeared; Crockett Johnson (Harold and the Purple Crayon) brings back the beginning of his classic '40s strip, "Barnaby" (a favorite of Duke Ellington and Dorothy Parker, among others); and Spiegelman himself takes on "The Several Selves of Selby Sheldrake." And that's not even the half of it. This downright quirky collection will charm comic fans of all ages—and, no doubt, make fans out of those who weren't already. Even the endpapers are fun thanks to Kaz of "Underworld."

Reviewed by Michael Pinto, September 2002

My New York Diary
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My New York Diary
by Julie Doucet

Graphic Novel Review

Yes we know it's not anime, but that doesn't mean Julie Doucet isn't cool! Among the younger generation of alternative comix artists, Doucet stands out for her engaging combination of a cartoonish style and frank realism; her autobiographical tales are tough and self-effacing, bitchy and sweet, and all peopled with her rubbery characters with goofy oversized heads. Her rich comedic style softens the scuzziness of the endless cockroaches and garbage-strewn sidewalks seem funny in her heavily littered frames. With her new beau, Julie guzzles beer by the case, begins to worry about work, and longs to move closer to the action on the Lower East Side. As her career takes off (there is a RAW party scene with a cameo by Art Spiegelman), her lovers career goes nowhere, and he grows increasingly angry and needy, a pattern that culminates in a particularly awful scene on the subway.

Reviewed by Michael Pinto, March 2002

You Are Here
You Are Here
Graphic Novel Review

Statement of bias: We think Kyle Baker is the one of the top talents in the world, his humor is cutting-edge, his art is brilliant, and his writing is concise, clear and very, very ironic. All that said, 'You Are Here' is even more fan-tab-ulous than even we were expecting. Only a very twisted mind could conjure up such a cynical and convoluted plot for an imaginary movie that's fresher and more thrilling than anything Hollywood's done in decades.

You Are HereThe Japanese should take note. Only Satoshi Kon is doing adult-level dramas that don't have to have an annoying toy tie-in or involve Giant Robots or Psyonics in some way. Something on the level of 'You Are Here' actually produced as a film would be a welcome change.

Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, June 2004

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