Cold Cut Distribution's Feature Spotlight #5 - February 1995
Publisher: Spiderbaby Grafix
Story & Art: Stephen R Bissette
Cvr Price: $2.95 (32 pgs)
Set in the late Cretaceous age, when Tyrannosaurus Rex walked the Earth, Tyrant follows the life of one of the Kings of Dinosaurs from its beginning to (presumably) the end. Actually, the story starts even before the beginning... the egg containing the T Rex is laid partway through the first issue, and isn't due to hatch until issue 3, due out this month. Still, considering it sounds like nothing is happening, it's quite a powerful story.
The first issue deals with the other dinosaurs and their reactions to a T Rex laying eggs in their vicinity. The second issue gives brutal examples of the chain of life, and deals with the mother T Rex feeding. I didn't quite believe it myself, but I was quite moved by one of the deaths in the second issue - it's hard not to be.
A painstakingly researched book, though Stephen admits it's not perfectly accurate (as he's still learning about the period) - Tyrant spends a lot of time filling in background on the era and the creatures populating it, and little time with the protagonist. But he hasn't hatched yet, so I don't know how he could be doing much...
So far, I'm more than willing to wait to see what happens - the setup has been marvelously rich, giving Stephen a wide canvas upon which to paint his tale. I'm ready to watch, and your customers will be too.
Stephen's in top form on a title which allows him a loving two months on every issue instead of 1, as he had in his classic run on Swamp Thing. He takes time to draw incredible detail on the backgrounds, and the storytelling - well, it's pure Bissette. What's interesting is seeing his work in black-and-white for the first time - it both adds dimensions (the shading) and subtracts (no deep hues).
There isn't any book out there quite like Tyrant. Surprised? Hey - how many books following the life of a dinosaur do you remember? For that matter, how many serialized biographies have ever been done?
Tyrant's a tough call. Since you've probably had it in your store for four or five months now, you probably already have a sharper grip on who's buying it and who's not. Fans of Bissette's earlier work will of course want to at least check it out. Fans of Vertigo horror (Swamp Thing, Face, Tainted, etc) should glance at it as well. In general, Tyrant is a good bet with those who just like good, solid storytelling, with loving and detailed art.
If you like Tyrant, take a look at:
Fun & Perils in the Trudyverse
Publisher: Antarctic Press
Art/Story: David Hahn
Cover Price: $2.75
Frequency: Bi-monthly. 3-issue miniseries, with
issue 2 due in March.
Print Run: Issue 1 (Jan 95): 6000.
Trudy Honeyvan is a teenage girl with the stigma of having been labelled "weird." She's been labelled "weird" since she was a child and insisted that she really did see creepy aliens in her closet who spoke to her. Now that she's grown up, and attended college (although she's afraid to tell her parents she's dropped out) she's simply being called "eccentric", and has gathered a circle of friends who accept her as she is. Through the years, she's learned to live with her label and even revel in it occasionally, but even with close friends it's still a hard cross to bear. Especially now that the aliens are back again.
I can't resist - I know it sounds hokey, but it's true. This book is a cross between Strangers in Paradise and Stanley & His Monster.
The plotting is well done - plot elements are revealed at a nice pace and the story is quite intriguing, leaving the reader ready for more (a shame it's bi-monthly). For instance, the aliens don't enter into the picture until well past halfway through the book - until then, it's a story of a teenage girl and her problems dealing with college, her parents, her social life, and so on. The scripting is occasionally jarring, though - while the lines themselves are fine (and quite realistic for teenagers), the scene changes can be confusing and the pacing is thrown off a few times by what appear to be splash pages, or large "splash panels" at any rate, complete with chapter headings. Apparently Private Beach has run once as a serial strip, 4 or 5 pages at a time.
Private Beach isn't as tight or intense as Strangers in Paradise,
but the flavor is still there and this book will appeal to the same group of readers.
David's clean, smooth, thick lines lend themselves to a book about modern teenagers, but the backgrounds tend to get short shrift, and the faces sometimes look unfinished. Overall, though, David has a clear style and decent storytelling skills. His work seems a bit raw at the moment, but he shows real talent (some of the facial expressions he captures on characters in moments of thought or surprise are wonderful!) and I'm ready to watch him improve.
The obvious market here is fans of Strangers in Paradise. Not all of them will pick up on PB, since it feels less polished in its execution. But if you're already reading one well-written bi-monthly book about a slightly-off-kilter teenage girl and her closest friends, why not try two?
The "aliens talking to her" angle is done in a humorous, light-hearted way that will intrigue some of the fans of Stanley & His Monster or even X-Files. Even Ninja High School fans may enjoy PB, due to the aliens/teenage connection, though the angst may put them off a bit...
By the way, on the cover? It's not her hat - it's a flying saucer.
If you like Private Beach, take a look at:
Cold Cut Distribution
220 N Main St. - Salinas, CA 93901 - (831) 751-7300