Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dear Billy

Dear Billy collects the three issue World War II story that writer Garth Ennis and artist Peter Snejbjerg did through Dynamite Entertainment. Dear Billy is the story (fiction) of Carrie Sutton, who while nursing in Singapore, gets caught up in the Japanese invasion of that country and afterwards decides to enact her own revenge upon the Japanese for what was done to her.

Dear Billy is one of Garth Ennis' most powerful stories and doesn't have any of the gratuitous violence or over-the-top humor that for me mar some of his current work (The Boys and a lot of his Punisher). I don't think there's anything wrong with over-the-top humor or violence, but I've seen and read a lot of that already and have seen Ennis do it better in Preacher and Hitman (I understand that for a lot of people, The Boys and Punisher are their guilty pleasure titles and that's cool because we all have guilty pleasures). Anyway, by my measure, Ennis' best post Hellblazer / Preacher / Hitman writing has been when he does war stories and Dear Billy DEFINITELY is at the top of this group of books of his, which also include War Stories volumes one and two (eight excellent separate stories dealing with WWII), Enemy Ace, and 303 (a war story taking place in Afghanistan).

Why Dear Billy artist Peter Snejbjerg isn't a bigger name in comics has long been a puzzle to me. Snejbjerg has done some art on Vertigo titles like Preacher (the excellent Herr Starr backstory installment), Books of Magic, and Lucifer, in addition to The Light Brigade with writer Peter Tomasi. The covers of Dear Billy were done by John Cassaday (Planetary, Astonishing X-Men) and usually when he does just the cover for a title, the interiors can't help but fall short, but Snejbjerg, with great colors by Bob Steen, is easily the artistic match of Cassady (and I'd say that as good a story-teller that Cassaday is, Snejbjerg is better).

Dear Billy gets my highest possible money-back-guarantee and I'm sure that even people who don't like war stories will enjoy this book which illustrates how the horrors of WWII could transform people into doing things they wouldn't have done previously.

5 comments:

Dave said...

Ralph! How could you overlook Peter's superlative efforts on Starman?!? Remember that he was the primary artist for the 2nd half of the series after Tony Harris left. Which, I guess, actually proves your point...

Ralph Mathieu said...

I'll lash myself later severely for that oversight!

kilmoonie said...

Night Witches was really good, but you are right, Dear Billy was something special.

Slightly related, I was bummed that that Tankies left me so cold. The same depth wasn't there. My girlfriend who LOVED the first two arcs was disappointed as well.

-Jaime

Ralph Mathieu said...

Yup, I haven't been that impressed with Tankies either. I think when Garth Ennis works with that artist doing Tankies he just turns in his C level script - I'm not saying that artist is particularily bad, just that none of the books he's done with Ennis have had any weight. Ennis usually has this artist draw his silly over-the-top stories (imagine if the Tankies artist did Dear Billy - shudder).

Andrea Walter said...

Woah way cool. I still have to pick up the 2 weeks I have missed! Damn school.