Memoirs of a Muse #4: Akhenaten
OK, I hate to start one of these off with a complaint, but there are more than a few pages in this one where the copy cuts off words on the edge of the page. Which isn’t the worst thing in the world, granted, but by the fourth issue of a series you should really have that sort of thing figured out. That’s a lesson to everybody making comics, free of charge: get the basics right please! All kinds of people (me included) could pick this up in a comics store, notice something like that and put it right back down. Of course, these are review copies, so I didn’t have to worry about the price. Anyway! In this issue the Muse is still waiting for a Pharaoh to come along with some artistic talent so that she can join her love in the afterlife. The visuals in this one were striking, definitely the best of the series, but I must confess that I’m losing the thread of the story a bit. The Muse is taken from a guy who gets assassinated and bides her time to find the right pharaoh, so we see quite a bit of time passing. Eventually she finds her man, but he starts going blind, which complicates her plans. From there we see a conversation between her and the god who had agreed to help this blind pharaoh, which is all done against a sheer black background, which is also a chance for some of the conversation to seep out the sides of the pages. Things get a bit chaotic from there, and in theory the next issue will be set in Greece. I’m still intrigued to see where this whole thing is going, but it’s hard to escape the sense that it’s meandering a bit. As I can’t find a hint of these books online that may be a moot point, but I’m interested in seeing more if any more are forthcoming.
Memoirs of a Muse #3: Epygt
I may be dealing with an expectations problem here. These occur when I think/wish that a story was going in a different direction, but it turns out that the writer/artist had other ideas. This is entirely on me, as I’m the one passively consuming the comic while the artist is the one actively making it, but I wanted to make it clear right away that most of the problems I had with this book come from that, and through no fault of the artist. Now that that disclaimer is out of the way, I thought this was going to be a set of detailed examples of ancient Egyptian art, how it came about and who made it. Instead Gail is mostly focused on getting her muse back to Enoch. Which makes sense, as that’s the story she has been telling all along, so never mind me. Things start off with the muse getting to Egypt, and the muse helps her host gain some recognition for her skills. Once she is done there we get to see those ancient artifacts that I was so interested in, with my only complaint being that we see them too briefly. From there I don’t want to give too much away, but we do get to see some mummy action before it’s all said and done. Aesthetically I do have a few complaints, as the blacks from some of the art occasionally made text practically illegible. This issue also wins the prize for “most spelling errors in the series,” which is not a good prize to have. Not that it’s out of control, as it was still a relative few, but as it’s never been easier to make sure you’re spelling words correctly, my willingness to let stuff like that slide has been going downhill for years. It would also have helped if her asterisk system had been explained (or numbered as footnotes), as the information she was trying to direct the reader to is all piled up in the back, with no reference for which is which in case you lost track/missed an asterisk or two. All that being said, I’m still thoroughly enjoying the adventures of this muse through time. Weird, right? You’d think all those complaints would lead to a bad review, which is a testament to Gail’s abilities as a storyteller. If you’re interested in art and where it comes from (and chances are that you are if you’re reading this) then this remains a fascinating series to watch unfold.
Memoirs of a Muse Volume II: The Ancient World
The journey of the muse continues in this issue, and we all get to learn a little bit more about ancient history as it goes. The muse is still looking for Enoch, so it takes up residence in a mask made by an artist and stays there for many years until it is forced into the body of a general from Babylon. Her artistic message was garbled at this point, but the muse came up with a way to get away from this existence, and that’s where we spend the bulk of the second half of the comic. If I had one complaint about this series so far it’s that I wish that Gail would put at least ballpark figures for the years involved in these books. I know a general sense of them, but that covers a wide range of years and would love to narrow it down a bit. I loved the idea of the carrier of the muse being able to pervert the purpose of the muse itself, and think that could be carried over to cover all sorts of people. Hitler is always the ballpark analogy for worst human ever, but it could be argued that the paintings Hitler created had to come from some sort of muse. A twisted, monstrous muse, but he had to have some sort of inspiration to paint at all. Unless I’m mixing Hitler up with some other historical dirtbag who painted, in which case never mind. The next issue is all about Egypt, and I’m very intrigued to see that journey. If you have any curiosity at all about the creative process, ancient history or both, you should really be checking this series out.
A Memoir of Art Volume 1: Prehistory
All these years of writing reviews (13 years, give or take) and I’m still not entirely sure how to handle reviews on comics that are a few years old. In this case Gail sent along the first four issues of this series, but this first issue was released in 2010, so chances are excellent that she already corrected the suggestions that I would normally make. Still, maybe not, and maybe the advice I give will help somebody else out, so I’ll go ahead with it. This is the story of the first muse in history, which is also presented as the only muse at this point in the story. It inspires Enoch and gives him the ability to convince his people to confront the Auroch and motivates Moombi (the ancestral mother of Kenya, according to legend) to fatten herself up so that she can have as many children as possible. It’s a fascinating story of the start of human creativity and I’m curious how she handles the concept for the next three issues. My complaint is more on the technical side of things, but typos in a story from the biggest artistic motivator in the world really should not happen. They shouldn’t happen in any story (everybody knows at least a few people who know how to spell, and even if you don’t it’s not difficult to find the correct spelling for words), but they really shouldn’t happen when you need to convey a solid authoritative narrative voice. But hey, chances are that this was caught and fixed for the next issues. Either that or I just trapped Gail into something that she is now completely unable to correct, in which case I’ll try to go easy on it in the next few issues. Still, this is a solid story about the birth of creativity, and there were only a few typos, so lighten up already, me. Check it out, learn about how inspiration started!
The End is Here!
OK, I’m technically not sure which part of that cover is the title, so I’m using my all-powerful (over my own website) status to give it the shorter title.Â Which is subject to correction from the creator, which means that I’m not so all-powerful after all, not even over this website.Â Oh well.Â Gail is another, um, “graduate” of the Good Minnesotan anthologies, or would be a graduate if they had a school.Â This is her first solo comic and is the start of a series of her adapting the last, craziest book of the Bible: Revelations.Â It’s a great idea for a series, one that I’m surprised hasn’t been tried before (that I know of), as there’s a ton of vivid visual imagery in that book that is wildly open to interpretation.Â Actually, Minnesotans, if you ever run out ideas for anthologies, you might want to give that a shot: have everybody do their own interpretation of Revelations.Â Â I’m not going to go into the actual story, as it’s easy enough to find on your own (there are at least a few websites that have the entire Bible online), but I will talk about the comic, as that is what I do here.Â I particularly enjoyed Gail’s version of John (the author of Revelations) scrawling the book, nude, on a prison wall.Â It sums up the general sanity of the book rather well.Â Her version of God looks like a cross between Albert Einstein and the lead singer from Kiss which, come to think of it, is probably about right.Â Actually, reading over it again the God figure may be the alien in an Elvis costume. Hard to say really.Â This issue also has the 4 Horsemen of the apocalypse and, without giving anything away, pretty much sums up their essence.Â There’s much more to come in this series (in theory), but Gail is off to a good start.Â I’m looking forward to the tales of destruction yet to come.Â No price, but let’s say $2.
Good Minnesotan #2
Huzzah for a second issue!Â Even better news is that this was actually sent to me months ago and I’m just now getting to it, meaning that the third issue is almost out as well.Â That level of productivity is never a bad thing.Â OK, so the first review was mostly gushing due to how I impressed I was at the concept, so this time I’ll stick more to the content.Â It’s the same cast of artists with a few new people thrown in.Â First up is Back Pages by Ed Moorman, a fictional (?) conversation with a confrontational Bob Dylan in 1966.Â Thoroughly engaging and sharp, and it’s certainly not hard to imagine that conversation taking place with Bob Dylan.Â Next is Halloween (Revisited) by Gail Kern, and I have to apologize for using the last page of her story as the sample for this issue.Â Regular readers of this site know that I hate spoilers, but that image of the headless horseman frantically trying to save his head is going to be lodged in my brain for weeks.Â Meghan Hogan is up next with a bit of poetry about wanting to fight a shark, followed by a surprisingly mournful tale of growing old with someone and the mistakes they made along the way.Â Next is an untitled piece by Joseph Nixon, a mostly impressionistic “origin story” on how he knew he wanted to be a painter, which is probably at least a little bit more interesting than most.Â Raighne Hogan & Alex Witts team up next to tell the tale of a dictator, his methods and the inevitable conclusion.Â Luke has a long but tiny (if you see the pictures you’ll know what I mean) story about… oh crap, a wordless story I have to interpret.Â OK, there’s a bird chirping a story to a human about a large monsterish creature going for a walk, playing with its shadow and jumping out of a car.Â Yep, that’s why they pay me the big bucks.Â Finally there’s The Ripoff by Nicholas Breutzman, possibly the highlight of a collection of solid pieces, involving a pierced penis and the very literal usage of the title.Â If you like your anthologies diverse and thought-provoking, you could do a whole lot worse than this.Â The $12 price tag may scare a few people off but this thing is packed, and I didn’t even go into all the extra sketches and images at the back of the book.Â Worth a look.