Sunday, 10 April 2011

Review Shorts – Green Manor Volume 1 and MeZolith

So here are some short reviews of some trade paper backs that I’ve read over the past couple of weeks.
First up we have Green Manor Volume 1 Assassins and Gentlemen

Written by - Fabien Vehlmann
Art by - Denis Bodrag
Published by – Cinebook Expresso
A cup of tea? A drop of milk? A spoonful of poison?
Green Manor has been on my radar for a while and thankfully I eventually got around to picking it up. Published by Cinebook and translated from the original French, I managed to buy it from Amazon for around £5 and although the book is relatively short coming in at just 56 pages it’s a cracking read.
Green Manor is the typical gentlemen’s club you’d expect to find in London on the mid to late 1880’s, lots of deep leather chairs, open fires and whiskey. But the patrons of the club are a villainous collection of thieves and assassins and these are their stories.
The stories in this collection are all self-contained and run about seven pages each and are very reminiscent of the Sherlock Holmes short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Doyle even cameos in one of the stories, 21 Halberds.  The art by Bodrag is very cartoony (I hate to use cartoony but I just can’t think of anything else) and works really well as an accompaniment to Vehlmann’s razor sharp stories.  My particular favourites were Modus Operandi which gives a clever and unusual twist on the serial killer story and Post Scriptum, whose final payoff left me with a hugely satisfied grin plastered on my face.
Final thoughts
Green Manor is a fine collection of short well executed stories with fine expressive art that perfectly captures the time period and feeling of the era, in my opinion for a fiver you really can’t go wrong.

Next up is Stone Age horror from the DFC library MeZolith

Written by – Ben Haggarty
Art by – Adam Brockbank
Published by – The DFC Library

Beware superlative overload ahead
The world of Mezolith awaits….
10,000 years ago, the Kansa tribe live on the western shores of the North Sea Basin, where danger is never far away. Each season brings new adventure. Each hunt has its risks and each grim encounter with the neighbouring tribe is fraught with threats.
The DFC was a subscription only weekly children’s anthology comic, it was fully coloured and ran to 36 paged, unfortunately it folded with issue 43 when one of the backers withdrew its financial backing. The DFC Library books are collected versions therefore of the stories that appeared in those comics.
So I picked this book up after listening to Lee Grice rave review on an episode of the excellent SFX Blog Awards nominated Small Press Big Mouth Podcast. Again I was able to buy this for the bargain price of £6 from Amazon (can you see a pattern forming here?) and let me tell you this book is a real quality purchase. The book itself is in the ‘annual’ format of children’s books the pages are therefore bigger than you’re normal comic or trade paper back and it’s a hardcover as well.
The book is set around 10,000 years ago and tells the story of Pioka and is essentially his coming of age tale. Pioka is educated and prepared for manhood with stories and tales from the Kansa tribes past, with these stories and his life experiences Pioka soon learns that the world can be a dangerous and unforgiving place.
This book is just brilliant and it really is a fantastic read, Ben Haggarty creates a complete and believable world in these 90 pages. The voices and the beats of the individual stories never fail and they all combine to produce a brilliant whole. The art by Adam Brockbank is simply stunning, you know you are in for a real treat when the first splash page is revealed. It’s a beautifully rendered Stone Age vista with the Kansa tribe’s huts off in the background.
The stories are all excellent but if I was pushed to pick a couple of favourites I would go for the beautiful Swan Bride and the deeply creepy Raven which comes in at just 5 pages and manages to be one of the most unsettling things I have read.  
Final thoughts
MeZolith is a quality book in all its individual parts, excellent story telling, superb art and all wrapped up in a cracking hardback binding. As an all ages book it’s a brilliant read for everybody who cares to pick it up. One of my daughters who really doesn’t enjoy reading and finds it a real chore devoured it in one sitting and has gone back to read it again, which for me makes it £6 well spent.

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