Category Archives: Euro Thursday

Euro Thursday Review: Hook Jaw

hook_jaw_2_cover-aIn the troubled waters off Somalia, a rag-tag group of marine scientists studying a pack of female great white sharks find themselves caught in a conflict between pirates and the might of the US Navy. But why is the CIA so interested in the work of the scientists? And just how will they face up to the shadowy terror of the legendary great white – HOOK JAW?!

Published by British publisher Titan Comics, written by Si Spurrier, with art by Conor Boyle, at two issues in, Hook Jaw went from silly to silly fun really quick.

I was completely unfamiliar with anything that came before, so when I went into the first issue, it honestly felt a bit like a Jaws rip-off with some CIA/Navy SEALS guys thrown in. The second issue embraces all of that calling out the fact it’s a goofy Jaws cash-in and just completely makes fun of the tough guy CIA/Navy SEAL leader who keeps repeating the same phrase over and over while his machismo is mocked.

Spurrier has embraced the goofy here and it totally pays off. I read the first issue with some interest and it was good. It’s the second issue that really brings me in because it decides to not take itself seriously. At that point the comic embraces the fun and silly premise. It’s a shark with a hook coming out of its front! It uses the hook to stab people! How can that not be funny!? When the comic doesn’t take seriously, it shines and hooks me.

Boyle’s art too is over the top embracing the gore when he can giving us a bloody mess that I remember from all of those movies this comic pays homage to. What’s interesting is the art doesn’t change really, but Spurrier’s tone reflects in it. If it’s goofy, the art comes off as goofy. If the writing is serious, the art is serious. But, the art doesn’t change at all, which is fascinating.

Hook Jaw #2 is where things really take off for me. I’m looking forward to more and sitting back and embracing the utter ridiculousness of it all and enjoying every page of it.

Story: Si Spurrier Art: Conor Boyle
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Titan Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Euro Thursday Review: Snow Day

snowday_8362_zoomedAn outsider sheriff struggles to find his place in an isolated, snow-covered town populated by a hard people who are set in their ways and don’t take too kindly to strangers. It’s a place where folks mind their own business — however odd it may be — and do as they please. That is, until the calm, quiet sheriff decides to do his job…

Written by Swedish writer Pierre Wazem, Snow Day is an interesting graphic novel that’s part character study and part crime story. With a similar idea to Walking Tall or every other cop who roots our corruption in a town tale, the story takes place over a day as a sheriff decides how he wants to handle some arrests and the individuals impeeding his decision.

But, what’s solid about Wazem’s story is the use and lack there-of of dialogue. There’s pages without dialogue as we get an idea of the small town and surrounding area. Set upon piles of snow, you can almost hear just the wind and the  hum of a tractor on these pages and there’s strangely something peaceful about it all.

That tranquil, almost relaxing art is by Antoine Aubin whose style is a cross between TinTin and The New Yorker. It’s actually very cool and the detail is just enough to say what’s going on and it enhances the story. There’s a minimalist feel about it all with not too much detail, and just enough to convey what’s going on. The black and white art is a fantastic style you don’t see too often and there’s absolutely a euro influence about it all.

There is some interesting things in that this graphic novel that’s supposed to be occuring in the “heartland” of America, but there’s a slight disconnect that feels like it’s being written by someone who has never been in the heartland. Still, the story by itself is fantastic and is a bit more artsy and philosophical take of a classic story of a sheriff rooting out corruption.

Snow Day is out in February from Humanoids.

Story: Pierre Wazem Art: Antoine Aubin
Story: 8.45 Art: 8.45 Overall: 8.45 Recommendation: Buy

Humanoids provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Kicking Off Euro Thursday

tintin-mainsupportingcharactersFor our first Euro Thursday, I’ve debated for a few weeks as to exactly what I’d like to do. I was thinking I’d keep it simple and just do a review or two… but why make things simple? Thinking through the long term I came to a realization that other than receiving review copies from publishers like Titan Comics or Humanoids (and a few others) I really have no idea about European comics, so I should probably learn to better inform me going forward.

So what defines a “European com” beyond where it’s been created?

First, as I’ve noticed in a few physical copies I get that the format of the comics is a bit different. The product itself is 8.4 inches x11.6 inches which differs from the standard “American” size of 6.63 inches x 10.25 inches. Ok, they’re bigger. They’re also bigger in length as they tend to be 40-60 pages and 100+ pages is common again compared to the “American” 22 page comic. So they’re longer too.

The roots of European comics go far back to the 18th century caricatures and illustrated pictured books. In Scout McCloud’s Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art he states that early 19th century Swiss artist Rodolphe Töpffer is regarded as the “father of modern comics” by many and Töpffer’s Histoire de M. Vieux Bois is sometimes called the first “comic book.”

But, there’s not really one “European comic.” In reality, the term as a whole is made up of various scenes and locations scattered across the continent. Primarily dominated by Franco-Belgian comics, Belgian comics, Spanish comics, and Italian comics, there’s also British comics (which I as an American probably have the most familiarity with), Czech comics, Dutch, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Serbian, and Spanish! That’s a lot of different types of comics… did I bite off more than I can chew with this!?

The most famous Franco-Belgian comics are probably Asterix by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo and The Adventures of Tintin by Hergé, and The Smurfs by Peyo. Known as bandes dessinées or BDs in French and “strips” in Dutch, these are primarily for Belgian and French audiences. There’s also Flemish Belgian comics which have their own style.

Belgian comics took off in the 1920s and in 2000 40 million comics were printed in Belgium each year with 75% of those exported. That’s a lot of comics!

The influence of British comics and creators in America could fill a column on its own. 2000 AD, Action Man, Andy Capp, Doctor Who, Judge Dredd, are just a few off the top of my head I could name. The history goes back to the 19th century, so there’s a lot to cover in future columns.

The rest, I can honestly say I know little about and am looking forward to exploring more, the point of all of this!

Now, here’s a question to you all, where should I start? What would you like to see? What should I review? Sound off in the comments!