Saturday, February 15, 2014

gustavo duarte, monsters! and other stories

I'm out of practice on reviewing comics. I used to read mountains of them--not so much the DC/Marvel stuff, but a lot of indie comics--and there are piles of them in our study. Pre-Rocket, we'd head into the city every weekend and go to Comics R Us and Minotaur, or catch the train to Windsor and hit up Alternate Worlds and their Comics R Us. I've always been lucky enough to be served by only the nicest of people, who didn't seem to care that I was a lady, and to be frank, I wouldn't have been anywhere near as interested in comics when I was a wide-eyed twenty-one-year-old looking for new interests if it hadn't been for the roundly excellent service we received in a few key shops. Originally, both of these were Comics R Us stores--the one on Bourke St, and the one in Ringwood. We don't go to Ringwood much any more, but every time we do we like to go there, because Ian is one of my favourite people, and even if we haven't been in there for months or years, he still remembers us, and says hello, and asks how work is going, and suggests things, and shows us exciting stuff he has and gives us sneaky extras. As someone who grew up in the eastern suburbs, I mostly see the ex-zone-three area as a place too full of embarrassing teenage memories to enjoy it (sigh for the memory of my silver nightclub pants), but Ian alone is worth the visit. The city store, though, is where we blasted a home loan's equivalent of cash on comics and figurines and assorted fun stuff, all because everyone who worked there was so enthusiastic and cheerful and friendly and all the positive words. Later, they and we expanded into All Star Comics on Lonsdale St, up near Queen, and while we don't have the money for armfuls comics any more (apparently babies need shoes, and sometimes even food), we still make it up there once a fortnight or so to pick up the new Hellboy or some local release, to build up karma for when Chris publishes his own indie release and we sell the film rights and become millionaires and well I'm definitely not letting this train of thought get out of hand here.

Mostly, I don't read what Chris buys. Mostly, I'm distracted by crime books, or whatever writing or reviews I'm working on, or the kiddo unpacking all our cds and repacking them into new, unrelated cases, never to be found again. I still read some, but not as many. Today, over a Lime After Lime cupcake, I read Monsters! & Other Stories.


Some art looks so natural it reads as if the illustrators have no difficulty in what flows through the arm and past the pen. Gustavo Duarte is one of those people. Every stroke looks flawless, relaxed, and easy. It's impressive and completely enjoyable. The realistic lines of people's faces--exaggerated yet honest--and the swirl of the fantastic in his monsters and the water; they are all just right. There were maybe one or two panels in the, uh [flicks, guesses] one-fifty pages where I got lost in what was on the paper. Those are pretty good odds.

There are three stories. In Co, a farmer encounters an alien, and the resulting abduction tilts his world into a pig-and-chicken-fueled confusion. In Birds, Death pays a visit to two work colleagues who try to avoid this unpleasant appointment. In the title piece, giant monsters storm a city, and only one man and his glorious moustache know what to do. In none of them is there a single word of dialogue. Duarte is Brazilian, so this probably saved a decent amount on translation fees. The lack of dialogue or narration is never missed, with everything told in expressions and a punchy storyline. It's glorious, cartoonish, fun, delivers some swift bloodletting and left me completely happy with the afternoon's purchase and with the medium itself. Fine, I'm convinced. I should get back into this comics malarkey.



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