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by Wayne Markley
I have said numerous times in this column that Humanoids is my favorite publisher due to the quality of the material they publish and the diversity of their product line. even their worst books are better than practically anything from anybody else. To be fair, Dark horse and Fantagraphics also have a number of terrific books, but by percentages, Humanoids blows everyone else away. I would say at least 95% of their books are must-have reads and are examples of what a terrific storytelling is, mostly because these are mostly European albums being brought to America for the first time and they are complete stories without the trappings of American comics. Over the last year or so Humanoids has taken to doing deluxe hardcover collections of some of their books with limited print runs. These tend to retail in the $75 and up range, but they are well worth the money if you can afford it. this time out I am going to review their many recent releases, both the typically priced trades and a few of the deluxe hardcovers. As an aside, the deluxe hardcovers do tend to sell out rapidly and rise in value on Amazon at an outstanding speed so if you do want to get any of these books, I would strongly suggest taking a look at future releases at www.westfieldcomics.com.
First off I want to look at a new full color trade called Pandemonium. This is a collection of three French albums by Christophe Bec and Stefano Raffaele. Within these three albums lay a complete story about a mother and her young daughter at an asylum in the American South in 1951. The asylum is expected to treat TB, but sadly they are woefully behind the times and things are not what they seem. This book is not only a terrific horror story, well much more a tale of suspense than horror, even though there are supernatural elements. It also is a gripping tale with stunning art that has a number of twists and turns to keep you guessing till the last page. I would note that the colorists on chapters two and three are different than chapter one, and are a terrific improvement. Also, the location and history of the asylum itself are real and there is a brief background history in the back of the book. While the authors do not pretend that the story of the lead characters is true, the events they are involved in are true, which is very scary.
Whispers in the Walls
Another recent release is Whispers in the walls by David Munoz and Tirso. This was originally released as a comic book, but sadly Humanoids was never able to finish the comic so those of us who were reading the book were left hanging. now we are able to read the complete story in one full color graphic novel, and it was worth the wait. This is a very creepy horror tale of a little girl named Sarah who is sent to an orphanage where all sorts of unusual things happen. like Pandemonium, this book that creates an atmosphere and feeling that will leave you creeped out while reading the story. I do not want to say too much about the story, because as with many of Humanoids books they are heavily story oriented and to say too much takes away from the delight of reading the books. I will say the art is ideal for this story and even though I read the first half in comic form, and I greatly delighted in it, I found reading the whole story in a collected form to be sooooo much better. Again, this book ranks up there at the top of modern horror comics and I would compare it favorably to my current favorite horror comic, Locke and Key.
The Zombies That Ate The World
The Zombies that Ate the world Vol. 1 HC collects the first half of Jerry Frissen and man Davis’s black comedy classic. In a story set in 2064AD, zombies are taking over the world killing everybody. A group of young pals try to put together a zombie catching company (perhaps not the world’s greatest idea). These are the stories that originally appeared in the Humanoid Comics from some years ago, but this is a very stunning full color hardcover. This is a hard story to summarize, but it is a mix of very funny humor and non-stop action. Plus, there is outstanding art by man (BPRD) Davis. These stories are not only very entertaining, but they pre-date the current zombie craze by practically a decade and they are still some of the best zombie stories around.
Before The Incal
Before The Incal is a stunning full color deluxe hardcover that is both oversized and comes in a deluxe slipcase. This is the official prequel to Alexandro Jodorowsky’s masterpiece, The Incal. It has over 300 pages of spectacular full color art by Zoran Janjetov. This collection tells the tale of the early days of John Difool before be encountered the well-known Incal. It ought to come as no surprise that his early adventures are just as extreme and entertaining as his later tales. as with practically all of Jodorowsky’s stories, this is one outstanding piece of storytelling that is like reading an M.C. Escher drawing, as you have no idea where you are going. but when you get to the end it has been a wonderful adventure. This is the first time these stories have ever been printed in America so it is quite a treat. This deluxe format is a ideal way to really appreciate the detail and charm of the story and art. plus it is a very good companion piece to the Deluxe Incal book. as with the next two books, if you are a fan of fine art and terrific story telling, and can afford it, these are the books for you.
The Metabarons supreme Collection
Speaking of books that benefit from the deluxe treatment, The Metabarons supreme Collection is another one that really showcases a trip de-force of storytelling and art by Alexandro Jodorowsky and Juan Gimenez. This is a deluxe oversized slipcased edition of all four of the original graphic novels, all put together in one stunning edition (and it comes in at over 500 pages!). What makes these deluxe books stand apart over, say, Marvel’s and DC’s Omnibus’ is they are epic works that were done originally in a lush, comprehensive art style that is so much much more than a six panel grid that American comic page were, and the size and paper stock just makes these worlds come to life. While I do like, say, the wonderful four Omnibus and being able to see Jack Kirby’s art in bright over-sized format, even with 25 combined issues at a time, these are still 24 page superhero stories. In the Metabarons, as well as in the Incal, Jodorowsky has been able to create lush comprehensive worlds where this format brings them to life. It is so much much more than reading a book, it is an experience. This deluxe edition is limited to 999 copies.
The Celestial Bibendum
Celestial Bibendum is something different. By that I imply it is not by Jodorowsky. It is a colorful and powerful story by Nicolas de Crecy, the award winner developer of such graphic novels as Glacial period and Salvatore. The story is about a seal pup lost in the world of new York on-the-Seine. now I know this sunny of the story is not the most exciting tease in history, but like the prior two books, this book is an overall experience. The art and coloring are breathtaking. This is a rare example where the coloring is such an integral part of the story that it would never work in black and white, and I have a hard time imagining seeing this story in any other format other than this deluxe treatment. Also, this is brand new material and not a collection of previously printed material like the Metabarons. This tome is limited to 550 copies.
Overall, I look forward to the two new releases from Humanoids every month. I cannot recommend this publisher highly enough due to the continuously high conventional they have when it concerns the material they choose to publish. Their books due tend to be on the expensive side, but they are worth every penny. I cannot think of any book they have published that is not worth your hard earned money. I only wish much more people would try their books and discover how terrific comics can be.
Showcase presents The Losers
One last book I would like to recommend is showcase presents The Losers (collecting stories from Our combating Forces). This is a collection of some of the best war comics ever done by Robert Kanigher and a variety of artists, but many notably the late John Severin. These stories go so far beyond what you would expect from a conventional war comic, and the art is top notch art. My only negative about this book is it is in black and white. but Severin’s art is even spectacular in black and white. treat yourself today and pick up a copy of this collection. As always, everything here is my opinion and do not reflect the thoughts of Westfield of their employees. Comments, thoughts, or criticisms are welcome at MFBWAY@AOL.COM.