Tuesday, July 16, 2019


What Has Gone Before:

I’m reading and reviewing the Free Comic Book Day comic books sent to me by my pals at Stormwatch Comics in West Berlin, New Jersey. When I read and review FCBD comics, I look at three areas.

QUALITY: Is the material worthwhile?

ACCESSIBILITY: Is the material presented in such a way that someone coming to it for the first time can follow it?

SALESMANSHIP: After reading the FCBD offering, would someone want and be able to buy more of the same?

I score FCBD offerings on a scale of zero to ten. Each category is worth three points with the tenth point coming from my interest in seeing more of what’s ever in the book. 
We begin with...

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles [IDW] has an 8-page story by multiple writers that leads into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #94 and a 12-page story by multiple artists that is little more than a recap of confusing continuity.

QUALITY: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is, at its core, a truly fun concept that works best when it is basic and suitable for all ages. It loses something when its stories get too complex and its action gets too graphic. Those are faults on full display in this issue. The “car chase” in the first story is well done. The recap is tedious.

ACCESSIBILITY: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are very well-known outside the world of TMNT comic books, but I don’t think their mass audience will recognize the characters as portrayed in this issue. The recap left me feeling like catching up on the continuity would be the equivalent of studying for a master’s degree.

SALESMANSHIP: If this version of TMNT interests a new reader, that reader can make use of ads offering literally dozens of volumes of TMNT comics. There are also house ads for Star Wars Adventures: Tales from Vader’s Castle, Sonic the Hedgehog and Usagi Yojimbo. The back cover of the issue, which should be prime ad real estate, has nothing but the TMNT logo on a black background. That is about as utter a waste of space as I can imagine.

SCORE: Four out of ten points.


Lumberjanes: The Shape of Friendship [Boom! Box] features a 14-page excerpt from the forthcoming graphic novel of the same name and a second eight-page story. The former is by writer Lilah Sturges with artist Polterink; the latter is written by Kelly Thompson with art by Savanna Ganucheau.

QUALITY: Lumberjanes is not a book I have any particular interest in, which does not stop me from recognizing the quality of both the writing and the art. Not every comic book has to be for every comic book reader. I wish more online fans could accept that.

ACCESSIBILITY: The basics can be gleaned from the stories, but I’d have liked to have seen all the characters named. I think rosters of characters, especially with head shots and a few words about the characters are something more comics should embrace.

SALESMANSHIP: Very good. Besides a house ad for a Lumberjanes book, the issue promotes eight other titles.

SCORE: Seven out of ten points.


Ghost Hog [Oni Press] presents two stories of the title character by creator/writer/artist Joey Weisner and a brief excerpt from Pilu of the Woods by author/illustrator Mai K. Nguyen. Ghost Hog is as the title suggests, the ghost of a hog who was killed by a hunter and is trying to get a handle on this whole “being a ghost” thing.

QUALITY: The Ghost Hog stories are exceptional. They are funny and thoughtful. I want to see more of this. The Pilu excerpt was just too short for me to get interested in it.

ACCESSIBLE: The Ghost Hog stories are easy to get into. The excerpt from Pilu of the Woods isn’t easy to get into.

SALESMANSHIP: Very good. There’s a full-page house ad for Weisner’s Ghost Hog. There’s a house ad for Pilu. Other house ads pitch four books by Eisner Award winner Katie O’Neill, Weisner’s Mermin books and, on the back cover, nine other Oni comics for kids.

SCORE: Eight out of ten points.


Brenna Thummler’s A Sheets Story [Lion Forge/Caracal] presents a thoroughly charming 25-page story about the friendship between a teenage girl and a ghost. It also features a brief interview with Thummler.

QUALITY: High. Thummler’s work is realistic and spritely. I’ll be looking for more by her.

ACCESSIBILITY: This was a breeze to follow. The story itself told me everything I needed to know about the characters.

SALESMANSHIP: Excellent. There are full-page house ads for Sheets and another graphic novel by Thummler. There are also house ads for several other comics by this publisher.

SCORE: Ten out of ten points.

Look for more Free Comic Book Days reviews in the weeks to come. I hope to review them all before the Halloween ComicFest free comics arrive at my house.

It’s good to be back, but I’ll be leaving again. I wrote this blog entry to post on the one full day I’m back in Medina before flying to the San Diego Comic-Con.

Attending G-Fest and Comic-Con back-to-back is going to be far more grueling than my usual convention adventures. I don’t how some of my fellow creators managed to do conventions weekend after weekend and remain relatively alive and relatively sane.

I’ll be back in Medina late Monday, July 22. I figure it’s going to take me a day or two to recover. If all goes well, I’ll be writing bloggy things by Wednesday, July 24, not to mention preparing for two conventions and two Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales in August. I am a crazy person.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

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