Welcome to yet another installment of my 2020's Free Comic Book Day reviews. My pals at Stormwatch Comics in West Berlin, New Jersey send me these FCBD comics so I can read and write about them in the bloggy thing. Only twice have I actually reached my goal of reading and writing about all the FCBD comics available in a given year. Maybe this time I’ll three-peat that achievement. I think I can do it, but it’ll take me until sometime in mid-2021 to complete this particular mission.
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.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic [IDW] presents two stories of the popular series and an interview with Jeremy Whitley, the writer of the first of those stories. The Whitley story is drawn by Trish Forstner. The second and shorter story is by Christina Rice with art by Tony Fleecs.
QUALITY: This comic book isn’t made for me. I recognized that going into reading it. That said, Whitley’s writing was quite good and Rice’s was decent. I liked the Forstner art better than the Fleecs art, but each was fine. My favorite feature of the issue was that interview with Whitley. It was very informative.
ACCESSIBILITY: I have no idea who these characters are and what the heck their world is about. That likely isn’t a problem for readers who are big fans of the television series and that’s who the comic books are aimed at.
SALESMANSHIP: Excellent. Three full-page ads for My Little Pony. Additional ads for Care Bears, Sonic the Hedgehog, Canto and IDW’s Marvel Action titles.
SCORE: Six points out of a possible ten points.
Naruto [Viz Media] features a 15-page excerpt from Naruto Vol. 1 by Masashi Kishimoto and a 16-page excerpt of Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru by Kishimoto and Akira Okuba. The latter excerpt comes from the first volume of that manga series. Here are summaries of the two series:
Naruto is a young shinobi with an incorrigible knack for mischief. He’s got a wild sense of humor, but Naruto is completely serious about his mission to be the world’s greatest ninja!
Becoming a samurai seems like an impossible dream for Hachimaru, a boy who can’t even survive without the help of his father. But when a samurai cat appears before him, his whole life changes! The legendary creator of Naruto and a rising manga star come together to bring you this science fiction samurai epic!
QUALITY: Naruto is the better of the two series and this excerpt is well written and drawn. The Samurai 8 excerpt isn’t as well done.
ACCESSIBILITY: The Naruto excerpt is a pretty good introduction to the cast of characters. The Samurai 8 excerpt is less clear and, as such, didn’t really interest me
SALESMANSHIP: Sparse but very good. Between the two excerpts is a one-page ad for the first volumes of both series. Two-thirds of the back cover advertises six other shonen manga series from Viz.
SCORE: Seven points out of a possible ten points.
Only a Matter of Space-Time by Jeffrey Brown [RH Graphics] tells of two young kids in an astronaut training program created by Earth’s first extraterrestrial visitor. Also included in the issue: a look at Brown’s first take on the idea, done when he was a kid himself, and t-shirt designs by himself and other artists.
QUALITY: Brown’s writing was pretty clever and that won me over. I was less enthusiastic about the art and lettering, but they didn’t stop from enjoying the story excerpt. The add-ons were interesting.
ACCESSIBILITY: The 16-page excerpt from the series’ first volume has all you need to know to get into the story.
SALESMANSHIP: Excellent. Five pages of house ads for several other graphic albums from RH Graphics. But they missed a bet for more by having blank inside covers.
SCORE: Eight points out of a possible ten points.
The Overstreet Guide to Collecting [Gemstone Publishing] was one of the best FCBD giveaways of 2020. It starts with a terrific cover by Billy Tucci. There are three comics stories inside. The first is by writer J.C. Vaughn with artists Brandon & Brian Fraim. It has the basics of comics collecting with a page five gag that made me laugh out loud. The second story is by the same team; it discusses horror comics collecting and is also very funny. Mike Oeming contributed the third story, a somber piece on the Hero Initiative and how it helped him and his wife Taki Soma. There’s also an prose article on caring for your comics and two pages of cosplay photos.
QUALITY: Top honors. The writing and art are excellent and convey information in an easier-to-follow manner.
ACCESSIBILITY: The material is welcoming to even the newest comics collector. Well done.
SALESMANSHIP: Amazing. Six full-page ads for Overstreet projects. One for the Hero Initiative. One for Usagi Yojimbo.
SCORE: Ten points out of a possible ten points.
Keep watching this bloggy thing for more reviews of the 2020 Free Comic Book Day issues. Place your bets on whether or not I’m able to read and review them all before Free Comic Book Day 2021.
I’ll be back soon with more stuff.
© 2021 Tony Isabella