Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Spacegirl and the Scarlet Sparrow

Decorah, with sudden burst of sun ©Michael Chevy Castranova 2016

 The day after attending a wedding last weekend in Decorah, in northeast Iowa — a town known internationally for the drama of its internet-cam eagles — I happened upon Dragonfly, a small bookstore downtown. On display inside were the three volumes of the “Zita the Spacegirl” graphic novel series.
These adventures, written and drawn by Ben Hatke from 2010 to 2014, mix a little Star Wars, some Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, more than a dash of Alice in Wonderland and sizable doses of charm and whimsy. Lots of running, lucky narrow escapes and myriad weird-looking creatures and robots.
The protagonist is a feisty young girl who looks a lot like a 21st-century version of Ed Vedier’s “Little Annie Rooney” newspaper strip and acts with the verve of plucky young adventuress throughout time.
It’s a fun story of Zita as she grows into her hero status over the course the tale. But the drawing itself is what I really lured me — deceptively simple, the characters move easily, and their emotions quick to decipher.
And there’s a great pun when hearts attack a planet, in book two, “Legends of Zita theSpacegirl.”
You should take a look.
Which brings us to another plucky adventurer, though in her early 20s I’d be reluctant to call her still a girl. Tyler appears to have seen off the Chancellor — again — but now she has to fulfill her part of the bargain she made with Dargelos.
That will entail heading directly into Rongeur-occupied Europe, in 1927. It’s an altered history — again — and one in which her enemy knows her well and likely has the table set — ahem — for her coming.
Check out the adventure of “Slipped” at
Come on, it’ll be fun.
© Michael Chevy Castranova 2016

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Heroes and villains

Mendacity Wilson and Pip the dog — Images and text © Michael Chevy Castranova 2016
I’m just finishing IDW’s “The Adventures of Dieter Lumpen,” on its Euro Comics imprint, written by Jorge Zentner and illustrated by Rubén Pellejero. The stories — collected from 1985 to 1994 — are unpredictable, sometimes-wistful tales of a protagonist who isn’t always the good guy.
But the art is breath-taking. Sweeping vistas and intimate detail, on a mood-shifting palette. I wasn’t surprised when I read that Pellejero now draws the revived CortoMaltese series (though a little perplexed that I hadn’t known the series had been revived).
Which is interesting in that Corto, as created by the great Hugo Pratt, was always noble — a defender of the defenseless and who fought on the side of lost causes. I’m not sure how I feel about his being resurrected as one of Pratt’s other characters told us Maltese was “lost” during the Spanish Civil War.
Meanwhile, in “Slipped,” the Scarlet Sparrow now has to fulfill her agreement with Dargelos. He arranged to save her — or so he says — and now she needs to do her bit.
Take a look at chapter 386.