I just want to mention some good words this week for Gladstone
Comics. I can do this because I finally got around to picking up the
past three months' worth of their Duck titles a couple of Fridays ago. While I haven't read everything just yet, WALT DISNEY'S COMICS & STORIES 626 and 627 do deserve special mention.
The highlight is the two-parter that spreads across both issues
entitled "One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing." It's written by Pat McGreal and drawn by my favorite Mickey Mouse artist of the current time, Caesar Ferioli. While it draws obvious inspiration from Michael Crichton's JURASSIC PARK, it's a completely different tale and one set firmly in the pantheon of Mickey Mouse stories. It highlights beautifully Mickey's sense of adventure, as he rides a dinosaur bareback for almost the entirety of the two parts, and has a blast doing it. Look at page five of the first part - the penultimate panel. Mickey's face is just perfect, conveying both the sense of excitement and sense of awe at his own adventures. The situation builds up to several 'smaller' climaxes before its grand finale. The story is smart, exciting, and well drawn.
Meanwhile in issue #626, Byron Erickson writes a tale entitled "Off On A Comet." While the sense of Christmas in July is a bit weird, it is also a wonderful story, with some great adventure, although this one played a little more fast and loose with scientific fact. You have to stretch the imagination a bit more with this one than you do with the cloned dinosaurs in the previous story. In the wake of ARMAGEDDON, though, your suspension of disbelief should be plenty well stretched anyway. To top it off, it's drawn by Noel Van Horn, William's son. While he shows some minor touches of WVH's work, it's still all his own. This is some great storytelling, with some clear artwork, and easy to look at characters.
UNCLE $CROOGE #311 contains what I'm sure is another fine
masterpiece by Don Rosa, "The Last Lord of El Dorado." I just haven't read it yet. I'm waiting to read the original Barks stories it's based on first.
UNCLE $CROOGE #312 contains some of the most consistantly well-done artwork I've ever seen in an anthology-type series, as this series is. And I can say this despite the absence of any work by Rosa, Barks, or Van Horn. Scary, eh? There's a real wealth of talent over in Europe that we just don't get to see every month in these titles. Maybe some more of those in favor of the endless Barks reprints...
In any case, the first story is "The Hands of Zeus," which owes as
much to Duck Tales as "One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing" owes to Jurassic Park. It's well done, with some expressive artwork by Bas Heymans, who does a great job in keeping all of the characters looking busy and interesting in every panel, even when they're doing nothing. The story is by Jan Kruse and David Gerstein. There's some nice dialogue in here, and plays on words.
Jose Colomer Fonts provides the crisp artwork in "Cold Duck." His
style reminds me very much of the DuckTales-type artwork we saw when
Disney took over production of the titles. However, this doesn't have all the annoying heavy areas of black ink, but does contain all the business. Believe it or not, I mean this in a good way.
Daniel Branca does the final story in the issues. He's perhaps
best-known for redrawing Barks' WOODCHUCKS stories. He does have a
wonderful Barksian flavor, but some of his perspective shots do need
work. In the meantime, this is some good stuff.
Finally, there's a picture on the back cover of two young ladies in front of a Barks painting. The first I instantly recognized as Michelle Yeoh, who recently starred in the Bond film "Tomorrow Never Dies." (Tangent: Just watched that movie on my new DVD player this past weekend. It's one of the best DVD transfers I've seen on my computer. And the action sequences are fun to watch. I think I'll get GOLDENEYE this weekend.) The other I joked to myself must have been the publisher's daughter. It's Gina Geppi. Close enough. And not terribly hard on the eyes, either...
Anyway, before this column goes in an altogether wrong direction, I shall wrap this up. I'm still bagging and boarding the acquisitions from the fifty cent bins at the New Yorker Hotel yesterday. I'm anxious to read some of this stack, too.
-Augie, once again not proofreading, and will probably regret this in ten minutes