Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Nothing Better by Tyler Page
Last week I was happy to receive an advance copy of Tyler Page's new graphic novel, Nothing Better. Having been a fan of Page's previous work, Stylish Vittles (three volumes), I was eager to dive into his latest exploration of people's lives with their trials and tribulations.
Nothing Better is a great showcase for Tyler Page's evolution as a comic book writer and artist. His first book, Stylish Vittles (a love story), started at an already strong place in terms of art, but with Nothing Better, Page's line is even crisper, his characters range of expressions and body language is even more expressive, and he fills up a page in such a way that is very fluid and visually appealing.
Nothing Better (subtitled No Place Like Home) features two central characters, Jane and Katt who end up being dorm mates in their first year at a Lutherian college. Through these characters. Page explores experiences and attitudes that are common to many of us, such as first sexual attractions / escapades, family life, and differing views on god and religion. For me, Nothing Better is Strangers In Paradise done right. Strangers In Paradise lost me with its fantastical situations the characters would get into such as when one of the gals would inherit or come into a huge sum of money or would become involved in a murder plotline that I'm not sure was ever resolved (was the huge sum of money ever addressed?). I guess I just wished that SIP was more of a "regular" people story that wouldn't get derailed as I felt it often did. Having said that SIP did have strong, engaging characters (with excellent art) and I firmly believe that anyone who liked SIP will love Nothing Better, with its honesty, humor, and drama.
Nothing Better is in the newest Previews with a July order code scheduled for release in finer comic stores in September. Mark your calenders and visit Tyler Page at: www.webcomicsnation.com/tylerpage/ to sample Nothing Better.
This past weekend I finally put a block of time aside to revisit Alan Moore's Supreme which is collected in two volumes, Supreme Story Of The Year and Supreme The Return. Supreme started in the 1990's by Rob Liefeld as his Superman level character. I've never read Liefeld's Supreme and I'd actually recommend just reading Alan Moore's work on the character especially if you've always wondered what a long run on a Superman book written by Moore would be like (because Supreme is Superman down to the powers, villains, and supporting characters all of which are cleverly changed ever so slightly). I think the only reason that DC didn't issue a cease and desist order to stop publication of Supreme was because DC editorial also wanted to read Alan Moore Superman stories.
Basically Alan Moore's Supreme is his loving tribute to the Superman stories mostly from the 1950's and 1960's. It's not important to have read or know about the kinds of stories that Superman writers wrote yesteryear, but if you have read or have an awareness of them you'll get more out of Moore's Supreme (don't let not having read a billion Superman stories discourage you because Moore's Supreme is accessible). Moore actually structures his Supreme stories like the Superman stories from primarly what's called the silver age, while at the same time incorporating a bigger picture that intertwines all of the stories and characters. So while on the surface Moore's Supreme stories are seemingly simplistic, they also offer the trademark insights into the human condition and the cosmos that Alan Moore can tap into like no one else. I believe Moore's concept of idea space was introduced in his Supreme. Idea space is the realm for ideas, kind of like how the dreaming is the realm of dreams.
A person just flipping through a volume of Supreme might at first be turned off by a lot of the art that is Liefeldesque, but really even when the art isn't good it doesn't get in the way of the story. There were many great artists who did work on Alan Moore's Supreme such as Gil Kane, Chris Sprouse, Keith Giffen, Al Gordon, Jim Mooney, Jim Starlin, and especially Rick Veitch who did numerous flashback episodes throughout in a style that further evoked the charm of the Superman stories of the silver age. Check out Moore's Supreme and you'll have a Supremely good time (insert groans here)!
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