Friday, October 25, 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.
Little Lulu [Drawn & Quarterly] stars Lulu Moppet, indisputably one of the greatest characters in comics history. Created by magazine cartoonist Marge, Lulu moved into brilliant comic books written and sometimes drawn by the legendary John Stanley. Drawn & Quarterly has launched a reprint series restoring those original comics to vibrant full color. This FCBD sampler includes several stories, gag pages and even a “Lulu’s Diary” text feature.

QUALITY: Great characters. Great writing. Great art. The quality is most definitely there.

ACCESSIBLE: Little Lulu is a pretty basic concept. Lulu versus the boys. Kids versus adults. Occasional flights into fantasy. Though the stories are from many decades ago, I think they hold up well, albeit for older readers.
Sidebar. On my list of things I wish I could create, a modernized Little Lulu would be high. Whenever I mentioned this, people have reacted in horror. Some because they hate the idea of Little Lulu stories that are not *exactly* like the old ones. Others because no man should write such a feminist icon. I hold the belief that any good writer can write any character. If I can only write characters like myself, then I’m stuck with short lumpy senior citizens with high blood pressure and occasional gout. That would be fine for one series or story, but story after story? I think not.
SALESMANSHIP: Excellent, though it’s a bit jarring to see clearly adult material being pitched side-by-side with more all ages fare. That said, Drawn & Quarterly did one of the best jobs of showcasing
their vast variety of publications.

SCORE: Ten points out of a possible ten points.


From Random House Graphic, we get Lucy & Andy Neanderthal: Big and Bolder. Written and drawn by Jeffrey Brown, the title characters are siblings in the Stone Age who have met and become friends with a human family. Their adventures have the kids enjoying their mild adventures, playing and pulling pranks on one another. Educational information is included in most of these tales.

QUALITY: I thought the stories were fun and well-done. They weren’t really to my taste, but I enjoyed them.

ACCESSIBILITY: Could have been a little better. There was plenty of room for a “What Has Gone Before” piece on the inside front cover, especially since it was blank. As were the last page of the issue and the inside back cover.

SALESMANSHIP: Decent. There were eight pages of house ads for the Lucy and Andy series and other graphic novel series from RHG. The  information about the books in the ads could have been much better. Instead, we got many laudatory quotes from cartoonists whose works are also published by Random House Graphic.

SCORE: Five points out of a possible ten points.


Several times, I moved Our Favorite Thing is My Favorite Thing is Monsters [Fantagraphics] lower on my Free Comic Book Day reading pile. Previously, after reading several dozens pages into the Emil Ferris graphic novel, I gave up it on. The reasons for that aren’t important at this time. So many folks whose opinions I respect have praised the book. It’s won some awards. I figured I owed it another chance. After reading this FCBD collection of Ferris shorts, I do plan to have it again.

QUALITY: High. One of the reasons that I found My Favorite Thing is Monsters hard going was what I recall as script lettering to mimic the style of its 10-year-old protagonist. The lettering was better here and the stories were excellent.

ACCESSIBILITY: Very good. Between the first page introduction and the writing, I had no trouble following the stories.

SALESMANSHIP: Very good. The inside front cover has advertises My Favorite Thing is Monsters. Three other house ads were scattered through the issue. One was for James Warren: Empire of Monsters, a biography I’ve read and highly recommend. Another was for a graphic novel that intrigues me. Three out of four ain’t bad.

SCORE: Nine points out of a possible ten points.


Witch Hat Atelier [Kodansha Comics] features excerpts from a trio of manga series: Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahamai, Cardcaptor Sakura Collector’s Edition by Clamp, and Magus of the Library by Mitsu Izumi.

QUALITY: Each excerpt left me wanting to read more. Though some of the storytelling is hard to follow, the basic premises were good.

ACCESSIBILITY: Each excerpt was preceded by a text page giving some background that was of considerable help in getting into them.

SALESMANSHIP: The introductory text pages served as compelling ads  for the three titles. There was also a back cover ad for a fourth manga series.

SCORE: Nine points out of a possible ten points.

This concludes my reviews of this year’s Free Comic Book Day comic books. I’m awaiting the arrival of this year’s Halloween Comicfest giveaways. When I receive these freebies, I’ll commence reading and reviewing them.

I’m running this column sooner than I had anticipated on account of it was finished and ready to go. Next up with be a series of blogs on my trip to Knoxville for Fanboy Expo 2.0.   

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

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