Jack of Fables: The New Adventures of Jack and Jack (2010)

 

Quote:
“Get your paws off me, you damned dirty ape!”

“There’s no need to be rude. It isn’t as if hot baths are easy to come by in the jungle.”

 

This is volume 7 of the Jack of Fables paperbacks and it collects issues 36-40. It was again written by Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges with a one-off story written by Chris Roberson. The art was by various combinations of Tony Akins, Russ Braun, Andrew Pepoy and Jose Marzan, Jr.

The first story is a filler from Chris Roberson called Jack ‘n’ Apes which is a tale from Jack’s past when he was on the run (again) and pitched up in the jungle of West Africa and ran into a colony of Fable apes. The remaining four installments by the regular writing team pick up the story from the end of The Great Fables Crossover. In it Jack (along with sidekick Gary) head off on the road again without a care in the world looking for the next opportunity to make money but along the way they discover that the choices that Jack has made in the past have consequences that only now make themselves apparent. This volume has two plot lines and the second follows Jack’s son, with the Snow Queen, Jack Frost as he sets out on the road to adventure and being a hero across the Fables Homelands. However he doesn’t find it easy as first real quest – to save a town from rampaging monsters – is further complicated when he has to complete a quest for the monsters in exchange for the release of the townsfolk.

Although only a filler story after the major crossover event, Roberson’s story was everything I love about a Jack of Fables story. It was funny and had Jack furiously trying to work an angle at every opportunity – switching allegiances every couple of pages. The riff on the Tarzan legend was great especially his relationship with Jane.

The main story looks like a change of direction, for now at least, with Jack’s son taking a more prominent role and showing his father how a true hero acts – although Jack, of course, already believes he is the first and greatest hero of them all. Jack is sidelined as, Dorian Gray style, his past actions literally transform him. I will need to see how this change of direction plays out but it could be interesting with Jack Frost travelling between the worlds of the Homelands looking for adventure opens up the book to perhaps more varied and interesting story ideas. My only worry is that it may become too like the main book if they persist with the formula for too long.

Fables: The Great Fables Crossover (2010)

This is volume 13 of the Fables paperbacks and it collects issues 83 – 85 of Fables, issues 33-35 of Jack of Fables and issues 1-3 of The Literals. It was written by Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges and the art was by the usual collection of artists involved with the ongoing comics.

The story continues on from volume 6 of Jack of Fables with Jack bringing word of the Literals and the threat of Kevin Thorn to the rest of the Fables at a time when they are regrouping after the destruction of their home in New York. Kevin Thorn has the ability to rewrite the story of this world and intends to do so as he does not like how his characters have turned out just as soon as he can get over his writers’ block.

Fables is normally a very strong book but this has to be my least favourite volume so far. The story is developed from a minor plot strand in the Fables comic and resolves a major plot line in the Jack of Fables comic. And so Jack gatecrashes the book he was thrown out of and it feels like a Jack of Fables book rather than a Fables book. Normally this would be fine as the Jack stories are funny but in this book his treatment of the distraught Rose Red shows the extreme nature of Jack’s egotism and power of self-delusion. He is turned from a loveable rogue into a fairly despicable character to such an extent that it is difficult to see how he can ever win over the audience again. There has to repercussions to this storyline in Jack’s own book or I can’t see how I will be able to continue to read it.

As far as the regular cast of Fables is concerned, their problems regarding the attack and destruction of their New York home have to be put on hold as they deal with the more immediate threat to their whole world. The use of the Literals allow the writers to make some amusing remarks on the act of writing and its tropes and genres but, like a lot of crossover stories, the story felt a little too long and drawn out and could have been tighter and pacier if it had been confined to the ongoing books without the introduction of The Literals mini-series. I am looking forward very much to a return to business as usual with the next volume.

Jack of Fables: The Big Book of War (2009)

This is volume 6 of the spin-off series from Fables collecting issues 28 – 32. It was written by Fables writer Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges writer of the excellent House of Mystery – also for Vertigo. Art duties were shared amongst Tony Akins, Ross Braun, Jose Marzan Jr. and Dan Green.

For those that don’t know Jack of the Tales is a self-centred character whose massive ego meant that he was forced out of the main Fables comic into his own title where he could pursue his main interests of making lots of money and sleeping with hot women. This book continues a long running story line with the librarians and residents of the Golden Boughs Retirement Community. Jack has led the Bookburner to the Golden Boughs where he lays siege and attacks it with the aim of wiping out all fables within it.

As the book is a continuation of a long story line, that continues into the next volume of Fables, it is not really a suitable jumping on point for new readers – but you really, really should be reading both Fables and Jack of Fables anyway. It is fairly standard fare as Jack, more by luck and the efforts of his companions, takes control of the resistance effort and fights off the Bookburner’s forces – not really a spoiler since this is Jack of the Tales and he always comes out on top in most situations. This book is packed with the usual Jack of Fables humour as an increasingly delusional Jack, both in his own abilities and his perception as himself of being irresistible to any available women, stumbles from one taco to another as chaos reigns around him. Excellent stuff and I really can’t get enough of it.

Spider-man: Fever (2010)

This book collects the 3 issue Fever mini-series by Brendan McCarthy and an early meeting between Spider-man and Doctor Strange from Spider-Man Annual #2 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Lee and Ditko, of course, require no introduction to fans of Spider-Man or Doctor Strange. I am a big fan of McCarthy’s art which can be found in Judge Dredd and others for 2000AD, Skin (a tale of a thalidomide skinhead written by Peter Milligan) and Rogan Gosh (also written by Milligan) that was published in Revolver and then reprinted in the US by Vertigo.

Fever is a hallucinogenic fever dream in which Doctor Strange goes on a psychedelic quest to rescue Spider-Man’s soul bunch of spider demons from another dimension.

In many ways the story is immaterial. It is only an excuse for McCarthy to give free reign to his art style and create a wonderful trippy book with fantastic depictions of the other dimensions that Doctor Strange must travel through. The main character design also pays tribute to the great Steve Ditko who helped to create both of these characters. Find out more about his motivations for doing the series in this interview with McCarthy.

Scotland Gave the Comic Strip to the World

[ Happy Mood: Happy ]
I take a break from the usual nonsense to bring you a piece of nationalistic pride (Ubalstecha style).

According to an article in the Daily Mail that was sent to me by my mother-in-law, Scotland gave birth to the comic strip as we know it.

Unfortunately, I can’t find the full text online but the first part of it, and the main gist, is quoted below.

 

Quote:
MENTION comic strips and most Scots immediately think of Oor Wullie and The Broons.

But it has now emerged that back in time – even before Grandpa Broon was a boy – the cartoon book genre was pioneered in Scotland.

According to a documentary due to be broadcast later this year, a 19th century publication called The Glasgow Looking Glass featured the first comic strips.

The BBC Scotland programme, called Scotland’s Amazing Comic Book Heroes, will claim that the periodical included such innovations as speech balloons and the use of ‘To Be Continued’.

The first edition of the Glasgow Looking Glass, founded by John Watson, was published on June 11, 1825 – 16 years before London’s Punch, another contender for the title of father of the cartoon strip.

The first American attempt, The Monthly Sheet of Caricatures, hit the streets in 1830.

Scottish cartoonists, such as Mark Millar, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely would later become leading lights in the multi-millionpound U.S. comic book industry. In the early 1820s, Watson was working for Thomas Hopkirk, who ran a Glasgow printing firm. Together with gifted cartoonist William Heath, they decided to launch the innovative publication.

The words ‘To Be Continued’ first appeared in edition two.

By issue 13, it was renamed The Northern Looking Glass and expanded its circulation to Edinburgh.

Word balloons were also introduced at this time.

Unfortunately, the publication folded in June 1826.

John MacLaverty, producer of Scotland’s Amazing Comic Book Heroes, said: ‘I think Glasgow’s role in the invention of the comic book should be much better known.

 

Apparently other papers in the UK covered the story too – here is the report from Scotland on Sunday.

Evidence to the contrary will be grudgingly received.