With the help of Hollywood, comic books have been poised to cross over into the mainstream and be recognized as legitimate art for a while now. Unfortunately the process has been a slow one, for every in-depth article by respectable magazines there are still hundreds of people who see comics as little more than anatomically incorrect people punching each other into outer space. While this stereotype is still partially accurate, there are also comics like writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely’s We3, which deserve to be approached in the same way you would a novel.
We3 tells the story of a dog, cat and rabbit who have been transformed into highly-specialized military weapons. As ludicrous as it sounds, the story is delivered with a surprisingly realistic tone. Most of the praise for this three-part series should rest on Morrison’s shoulders. Resisting the temptation to anthropomorphize the animals, Morrison keeps them distinctly inhuman, even though they gain the ability of primitive speech through their enhancements. Consisting of very little dialogue the story is disturbing, occasionally humourous, powerfully emotional and ultimately uplifting.
Of course the writing is only half of a comic book. Quitely handles the other half admirably, making his animal characters cute even while they unleash havoc upon those trying to capture them. Never the greatest artist at drawing people, Quitely excels in We3, perhaps because there are few significant human characters. Instead his gorgeous action scenes and backgrounds are left to take centre stage.
If comic books are ever going to be appreciated at the same level as their image-free counterparts their creators will have to come up with stories as unique and compelling as We3. This story will have no problem shocking you with its political ramifications, wowing you with its action scenes, making you cry more than once and leaving you with an appreciation of comic books as large as your new-found appreciation for your household pet.
Portraits of Yo Mama as a Young Man
As far back as the elementary schoolyard, you can clearly recall local ruffians describing yo mama’s unusual method of sitting around the house but you could never quite put your finger on just what made her such a laughingstock.
Enter authors Andrew Barlow and Kent Roberts, with their A Portrait of Yo Mama as a Young Man, a thoroughly researched and methodically organized study of the most scorned of matriarchs. In addition to the typical “yo mama so…” one liners, here dubbed “field notes,” there are interviews with children, diagrams illustrating her migratory patterns, and even yo mama mad libs. The notes themselves range from somewhat complimentary (“Yo mama’s so industrious, she gives at least 110 per cent every time, and sometimes gives infinity per cent”) through mean-spirited (“The only reason yo mama doesn’t grow a beard is because her facial hair grows in patchy”) to the downright surreal (“Yo mama’s so lupine, she chases rabbits”).
Portrait easily provides the most thorough and well-rounded study of yo mama yet recorded. Anyone with an interest in understanding their parentage would be well aided by Barlow and Roberts’ tome, which approaches the topic with verve and wit aplenty.