Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Review - Comic Book Tattoo

Comic Book Tattoo
Edited by Rantz Hoseley
2009 Eisner Winner for Best Anthology

I am not the target audience for Comic Book Tattoo. In fact I'm so far from the target audience for Comic Book Tattoo that I should not be allowed to possess the copy I have. The fact that I happen to own the extra high end slip cover edition (picked up on the pricing errors Diamond Book Distribution caused a few months ago) is a crime against the fine people who worked very hard to make the anthology. I'm going to tell you right now that my opinion on this book is absolutely worthless. I mean worth even less than my opinions usually are. And this is going to be more brief that usual as a result.

In case you didn't get the subtle hint from the title of my blog I'm a colossal nerd who doesn't bother to hide it. I'm such a nerd that I'm fairly certain I've never heard a song by Tori Amos. I'll concede that maybe one has turned up in a movie or television show I've watched but if it has then it's made no impression on me. I'm only vaguely aware of the existence of Tori Amos. I don't hate her (if I did this might be more entertaining); I just don't care. So a giant anthology of works based on her songs like Comic Book Tattoo is something that would be just about impossible for me to appreciate on anything other than the most basic level.

I'm not joking when I call this a giant anthology. It's over four hundred pages and just under one hundred creators worked on it. Just for coordinating the project Rantz Hoseley has my respect. There's fifty-one stories in the book with the longest reaching thirteen pages. And even with that much content when it comes to art there's very few that I would single out as actually bad. There's a huge variety in styles and stories between the covers.

A problem for me was that many of the stories felt like the creators were making comic book music videos. I got a fragment that was tied to a song I didn't know or care about and then it was over and on to the next bit. Occasionally there was a story that stood fine on its own but those were exceptions. Many of them seemed to be taking the music as an inspiration for mood. Since the only thing I knew about the song was the lyrics printed on each story's title page the stories that depended on the music like that made almost no impression.

To me Comic Book Tattoo is like being in a social gathering of hipsters. I'm so completely out of tune with them that I can't even communicate. At its best Comic Book Tattoo tries to engage with me for a couple of minutes and then it's back to its own self-referential world where all I can do is observe. It's not Hoseley's problem; he's creating a book for someone who loves Tori Amos. Maybe he succeeded at that though it's impossible for me to judge. I will say that if you don't know Tori Amos then this book isn't for you, but then you probably knew that already.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

In Memory of Frank Frazetta

Frank Frazetta passed away yesterday. I can't say that I've been extremely fond of his work but there's no denying it's influence. Covers to fantasy books owe a debt of gratitude to his covers in the sixties for Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard novels. He won a Hugo in 1966 for those covers and I was going to talk about Creepy Magazine which he provided covers for later this week.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Alex Ross's Eisner Winning Covers in 1997

In 1997 Alex Ross won the Eisner for best cover artist again. That year most of his efforts had been dedicated to what many consider his best work: Kingdom Come. I think he's produced better art elsewhere but I can't deny that he did some great covers for the series.