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Thomas, Grant – Dodo Comics #4

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Dodo Comics #4

I don’t know how people with kids have any time to make comics (I have no kids and barely have the time to review comics), but Grant seems to be making it work. Granted, he says he makes comics “before daybreak, on weekends and while his children nap,” but he’s managed to maintain a pretty high level with his work. He also included another comic that I’ll be getting to soon, which makes him more prolific than lots of comics creators who don’t have kids. Now that I have shamed those people for the lazy folks (who don’t know how good they have it) that they are, how about the contents of the book? Three stories in this one. The first is the story of how the raven and the loon got their colors, and kudos to him for picking two birds with black and white tones for a black and white comic book. Next is his attempt to find the meaningful thing between things, and his conclusion strikes me as more than a bit autobiographical, but maybe I’m reading too much into it. Finally there’s the story of a man who kept a stone in his mouth for three years to teach himself silence, and a quick history of some of the interactions he had during that time. The art for each story is unique and distinctive for the story being told (and I didn’t even notice the family of birds growing for that third story until just now), and it’s just a thoroughly engaging comic from top to bottom. His letter lists it as $4 while the cover lists it as $3, so just stick with the higher price and know that if you’re wrong, at least you gave an extra dollar to a small press artist.

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Thomas, Grant – Dodo Comics #2

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Dodo Comics #2

Does everybody out there know of Sergio Leone? I know that this is going to sound like a stupid question to everybody over 35 or so (I hope), but I don’t know how much the youth of today know their film history, and christ do I feel stupid saying “youth of today.” Anyway, Sergio Leone directed a few of the more famous spaghetti westerns (and who know what a spaghetti western is… aw, forget it) of all time, and the first story of this book is a silent tribute to his film technique. Before certain dramatic moments, like a gunfight, you’d see a series of quick cuts between the eyes of the gunfighters, the fingers twitching near the triggers, a bead of sweat slowly rolling down one of their faces, all that stuff needed to build tension without having to beat you over the head with it. Grant does a really nice job of conveying that feeling although, if I’m being honest, that last panel was a bit of a mess. Still, everything leading up to it was nicely done. The comic takes a turn from there to deal with the remaining three stories, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. There’s a piece about Grant’s early years with his first nude models (and how one of the ladies loved talking to the college artists with her robe wide open), a comic pantoum story (with tricky reading of the panels required) dealing with going to see an ex singing, and a nice little story with the devil trying to trick a hermit. A nice mix of stories, and there’s even a funny panel on the back showing Grant trying to draw comics while surrounded by his two baby daughters. It’s a solid comic and I’m enjoying his willingness to mix things up with his stories. Hey, that’s why these things have more than one story each, right? $3

Thomas, Grant – Dodo Comics #1

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Dodo Comics #1

I go back and forth on the idea of comic creators explaining their work either before or after the comics part of the comic, but it’s probably a good thing Grant did that in this issue. It showed me exactly what he was going for, and I probably would have missed large swaths of if if he didn’t. For example, there’s a single page strip called “The Duel” which is just a bunch of frantic lines. Still, this looked vaguely familiar and, sure enough, Grant explained that it was a page from “Lone Wolf and Cub” with the character removed. With that piece of information you can almost put the characters back onto the page and your head and it transforms it into a significantly more worthwhile piece of art than just a bunch of lines. Other stories include a long (and funny) piece on where ideas come from, visions of fire, the tower of Babel and another piece with just unrelated images (this time for a page from “Akira”). I’m not going to explain what he was going for in every story (I do think his explanations worked better after reading the story instead of before it), but hey, check out the samples on his site to see for yourself. He’s clearly interested in the crafting end of comics and is looking for new ways to go about it. Kudos and more power to him, and he’s certainly off to a diverse and worthy start. $3