No doubt all you loyal Blog@ readers have lately been saying to yourselves, where’s Mike been with his untimely, semi-coherent reviews? My apologies for the absence – somehow the three non-comics that I’d requested from the library, despite all having seemingly different wait times until I’d get my copy to read, all came in within five days of one another (and right on the back of a brief comics break I’d taken to read another prose novel). I know, what are the odds? Murphy’s Law says pretty damn high.
So if you’re curious, E.L. Doctorow’s The March is quite good. Not quite essential, but worth your time if you come across it. Waylon Jennings and Lenny Kaye’s Waylon and Keith Richard’s Life are both enjoyable, despite a few awkward digressions and some later chapter rambling. Michael Lewis’s Moneyball (yeah, I’m late to the party, so what?!) is simply superb, even if you’re not a baseball fan. Though its snotty afterword didn’t really help its case.
So, anyway, I’m back to comics. Let’s get to it:
Modern Masters v. 25: Jeff Smith
Edited by Eric Nolen-Weathington
Published by TwoMorrows
TwoMorrows’ latest Modern Masters, a book-length interview with an influential cartoonist, turns its attention to one of the most undisputed masters of the modern era: Jeff Smith, creator of Bone, RASL, Little Mouse Gets Ready and Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil!
As with previous Modern Master’s books, editor and interviewer Eric Nolen-Weathington chooses for a career-arcing overview of Smith’s career, with extended sections about Smith’s childhood and adolescence, his early stabs at the Bone characters in his college newspaper, and his co-founding an animation studio. All the material is very interesting, particularly as Smith is able to connect the lessons he learned during those early days – in his approach to drawing, writing, handling business and dealing with everything professionally – to his more famous later work.
The interview doesn’t provide any great insights into any of Smith’s series, but readers are able to see how the stories evolved in directions even Smith didn’t foresee when he started out, and many readers will appreciate Smith’s discussions of creating a business plan to launch Bone and how he handled various marketing opportunities (including tours, working with Image Comics, and Bone‘s current success as a color series from Scholastic). There’s plenty of great artwork, going back to Smith’s childhood and then right up through his latest issues of RASL, accompanying the text.
Modern Masters v. 25: Jeff Smith is, like previous volumes of the MM series, not entirely essential reading, but it is, for fans of Jeff Smith (and really, who isn’t a fan at this point? I wouldn’t need the fingers on both hands to count the number of comics better than Bone.), certainly worth a look.