Pipeline: Pipeline, Issue #259

Tue, May 28th, 2002 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

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ME AND EDITH HEAD

[Me and Edith Head]If you haven't heard about ME AND EDITH HEAD by now, then you haven't been surfing around the internet much in the past couple of months. Steve Lieber has been shilling this little 16 page black and white comic on every message board and web site he could find. My first reaction to the title of the book was to start singing along with They Might Be Giants' "She Thinks She's Edith Head" song, but I eventually worked that out of my system. It turns out that Head exists outside of geek music culture. She's also in geek comics culture now. Go fig.

It's an impressive short story (16 black and white pages), written by Lieber's wife, Sara Ryan, and drawn and lettered by Lieber. It tells the story of an awkward teenager, Katrina Lansdale, whose life finds meaning in the pages of a book about noted costumer Edith Head. In 16 pages it gives the reader a complete character arc, notable supporting characters, a high concept, and a likeable lead. It also gives you a good moral at the end and a sense of hope. Imagine that: a story about hope that's fun to read, without talking down to you or being too saccharine.

Lieber's art is meticulous in its detail, with neither a line out of place nor a blank spot on a page left unattended. The school and home environments feel real because they're shown in each and every panel. And since he's inking himself, you don't get any odd juxtaposition of lines on the page that suck the life out of the art. (And, needless to say, I love his hand lettering. The Kubert School strikes again!)

Ryan's story, as noted above, fills the pages. She doesn't pack the pages with monotonous dialogue. She uses the sequential narrative medium to tell her story, mixing Katrina's thoughts with metaphor on page 4, and a nice time lapse on page 9. There's always something visual going on in each page that the story needs to be seen. It isn't just window dressing. The fear with prose writers turning in comic scripts is that you get pages of dialogue that might be interesting, but sit plainly on the page with a clutter of static images. This story, on the other hand, moves.

Lieber and Ryan worked closely together on this story, so it may just be impossible to tell who influenced whom more. They work well together, and if an all-ages friendly story like this is the result, I'd love to see more.

You can pick up a copy of the book for $2 from Lieber, himself, at his web site, stevelieber.com. You can also glance at images from the comic, and an array of other stellar reviews for the title. Give it a shot.

SHORT TAKES

SHOT CALLERZ #1 ends Oni's recent run of great books. This one's a mess. I can't tell you a thing about it, other than the lead character gets shot and is now back out for revenge. The dialogue is impossible to wallow through, the art is unclear, and I have no idea just how many different characters there are. I think I might be getting some characters confused with themselves. It's an odd mess of a book, and I'll be skipping the rest. (The cover's nice, though.)

[Crux #13]Chuck Dixon began his run on CRUX #13, and it's a rather odd start for a Dixon book. It doesn't necessarily follow his usual three-action beats story formula. Yes, they're there if you look hard enough, but it's a book that leans much more towards the talking heads style than the fast-paced Dixon feel. Of course, Dixon has said in the past that new writers should try to slowly transition the book from the previous writer's style to their own. That might be part of what's going on here. It's still an enjoyable book, but right now the ghost of Mark Waid looms large on it.

If you get the chance to flip through the issue on the stands, take a look at the first three pages. Steve Epting, Rick Magyar, and Frank D'Armata really outdid themselves on those pages, with a faux painted style.

[Way of the Rat #1]I don't know quite what to think of WAY OF THE RAT #1 yet. This is the new title created by Chuck Dixon and Jeff Johnson, with inks by Tom Ryder and colors by Chris Garcia. The book is pretty enough to look at, although it looks cartoony compared to the rest of the CrossGen line. Johnson's choreography in both the action scenes and fight scenes is easy to follow and "feels" right. I think it's just a case of my needing to get through a couple or three issues before I feel comfortable in the new world laid out for this book. In the meantime, talking monkeys rule!

BATMAN: GOTHAM ADVENTURES made it to its fiftieth issue this past week, with the regular team of writer Scott Peterson, penciller Tim Levins, inker Terry Beatty, colorist Lee Loughridge, and letterer Albert T. De Guzman intact. The animated series on which it is based hasn't aired a new episode in years, but this book carries on. SUPERMAN ADVENTURES didn't fare so well, but it only lasted one season in animated life. I'm grateful, however, that BATMAN ADVENTURES marches forward.

This month, Catwoman guest stars, and poses a tough psychological issue for Batman to grapple with. Remarkably, this doesn't drag down the issue into a bunch of caption boxes and talking heads. Peterson does a great job in keeping things moving and the characters in action. And in an oddity for the series upon which the comic is based, the explosion comes at the beginning of the issue instead of the end!

Quicky movie review: STAR WARS EPISODE 2: ATTACK OF THE CLONES could have been -- and should have been -- a great political thriller with a B plot of the growing romance between Padme and Anakin. Instead, it was the reverse, and comes out like a TITANIC-wannabe without the acting or scripting chops. In the midst of it all, the dramatic political angle gets underplayed and all the warts shine brightly. Still, the CGI is nice and there are some wonderful action sequences. It's not a complete waste of a movie ticket, but it is one that leaves itself open for criticism.

Coming up Friday, more trade paperback reviews, including THE HUMAN TARGET and THE GROO ADVENTURER.

You can e-mail me your comments on this column, or post them for all the world to see and respond to over on the Pipeline Message Board.

More than 400 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically. The first 100 columns or so are still available at the Original Pipeline page, a horrifically coded piece of HTML.

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