Markley’s Fevered Brain: What I Bought Myself for Christmas

Wayne Markley

Wayne Markley


by Wayne Markley

Traditionally I write about books that I think the readers of this blog might enjoy. Most of the time I recommended them because I also enjoyed them and I want to share the joy those books brought me. This time I am going to review four books that I bought for myself for the holidays this year. I read books from all over the place, review copies, from the library, books that friends lend me, and so forth, but these four books I waited for a special occasion to buy for myself. All of these books are great for different reasons. All four are very different from one another. All four are different times and countries. I would buy any of these four as a gift for a friend, I enjoyed them that much.

Calamity Jane: The Calamitous Life of Martha Jane Cannary

Calamity Jane: The Calamitous Life of Martha Jane Cannary


Calamity Jane: The Calamitous Life of Martha Jane Cannary is a beautiful hardcover by Christian Perrissin and Matthieu Blanchin telling the true tale of this legendary female cowgirl who gained fame traveling with Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickok. I liked this book and the historical aspects of this story. There is a lot of misinformation about Calamity Jane out there, as there is with most legends, but this book makes a very valiant effort to tell the true story. At over 350 pages this is a very long and in-depth graphic novel that explores all aspects of her intriguing, and at times violent, life. The art is very European in style, which makes sense as both creators are French, and may not appeal to the American superhero crowd, but if you look beyond that you will find a fascinating look at one of the most intriguing women of the American wild west. I should also note that this book has won numerous awards in Europe and is considered a classic, even though most in the United States would never have heard of it. It is for mature readers as there is both sexuality and violence throughout the book. Published at last in America by IDW.

Awaiting the Collapse

Awaiting the Collapse


Awaiting the Collapse is a collection of the work of Paul Kirchner’s from the ‘70s and ‘80s. This is a full color (where appropriate) hardcover tome. It’s a mix of short stories as well as ads and covers he did for a number of magazines, including such counter-culture mags as Al Goldstein’s Screw. There is also a large section collecting Kirchner’s long running strip Dope Rider from the pages of High Times. This is worth the price of the book alone as Dope Rider is a pot -smoking skeleton who goes on one psychedelic trip after another, leading to some amazing visuals. There are also a number of other short stories from a variety of places. I first noticed Kirchner’s work in a trade called The Bus, which originally ran in Heavy Metal. Like much of Paul’s work, The Bus was a surreal trip that took the reader to places you would never have imagined, and this new collection does the same. (There are two collections of The Bus if you are interested). Kirchner’s style is very clean and smooth and the influence of his mentor (and who he was an assistant to) Wally Wood is obvious. Paul Kirchner’s work does not get much attention in the comic book world as most of his art is outside of the traditional comic books, but this book is a great way to see a true master’s work in one place at last. The art is beautiful and the storytelling is truly unique, in a most positive way. For mature audiences due to nudity, graphic sex, and many drug references. Published by Tanibis Editions, a French publisher.

The Green Hand and Other Stories

The Green Hand and Other Stories


The Green Hand and Other Stories is a full color collection of stories by Nicole Claveloux in a stunning hardcover. Most of these stories were done in France in the early 1970s and many have not been seen in America before, or if they have, not in many years. Plus, all of these stories have been re-scanned and colored for this edition. Admittedly, I did not know a lot about Claveloux before buying this collection aside from she was an early contributor to Metal Hurlant. I had read about her work but I had not seen it, but now I have all I can say is wow. Like Paul Kirchner, Claveloux has a surreal and whimsical feel to her storytelling that is unlike almost anything else in comics. Plus her colors are almost hallucinogenic as they grab your eyes and will not let go. It is rare when the colors in a comic stand out to the point where they make such a strong impression on you that you remember the coloring almost as much as the art. This book is designed and has an introduction by Daniel Clowes which is both beautiful in terms of design, but his introduction is invaluable in terms of background and appreciation of Claveloux’s work and what she was doing and its contribution to the world of comic book art. These stories are more in the vein of undergrounds than traditional comics, but that works just fine. Published in English by New York Review Comics.

Jazz Maynard Vol.1: The Barcelona Trilogy

Jazz Maynard Vol.1: The Barcelona Trilogy


Jazz Maynard Vol.1: The Barcelona Trilogy is a beautiful, color hardcover book written by Raule and drawn by Roger and published by Lions Forge. This is a complex, crime drama set in New York and Barcelona and tells the tale of Jazz Maynard, a reformed crook and jazz musician, who left Barcelona to go to New York to get away from the crime and life he had grown up in. After 10 years in New York he gets a desperate letter for help from his sister in Barcelona. He returns to Spain, only to find the all of the problems he had left behind are still there and he falls right back in the dark and dirty life he had tried to escape. This is a beautifully illustrated story filled with twists and turns you do not see coming ending with an action filled climax. It reads like a great crime movies from the ‘70s; dark, gritty and engrossing filled with tough gangsters, all sorts of crime mobs, and double crosses. Due to violence this tome is again for mature readers. Once again I should point out the coloring as it truly adds a dimension to the story that helps create the atmosphere desperation and suspense. I originally read the comics as they were released but this collection is in a larger format and reads so much better than the monthly comics did. I would highly recommended this collection over the single comics.

This wraps up my Christmas shopping for myself. (True be told, I buy far too many books, but these are ones that really, really, stood out to me). As you can see from these selections I tend to like books that are self-contained and are not the traditional fair. I do want to make it clear though I great enjoy traditional superhero comics, and I read anywhere from 40-50 a week. But there Is so much out there in comic books that so few people are even aware of I tend to be drawn to that when I think of what is great. (There are also lots of great comics, like off the top of my head I would say, Captain America, Saga, Paper Girls, Daredevil, and Superman to start with.) I do know at times my blogs tend to focus on the more obscure and harder to find books that many comics’ stores would not carry, but at Westfield Comics we are always more than willing to order these books for you if you are interested, and many times they are in stock at our retail stores. Speaking of Westfield Comics, neither they nor their employees necessarily share or agree with what I have written here. As every word is my thoughts and opinions and do not reflect the company. I would welcome your feedback at MFBWAY@AOL.COM or on Facebook at Wayne Markley. I truly hope someone else has read one of these books and let me know what they think. Till next time…

Thank you.

 

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  1. Wayne Blue Says:

    Where your blog? Are you on vacation?