Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Books With Pictures. Two Of Them

Penny Arcade: Attack of the Bacon Robots
by those guys from Penny Arcade

If you play video games and use the internet (and obviously you already do the latter) then you know what Penny Arcade is already. If not, then you will most likely be completely bewildered, confused and probably offended by every thing in this book.

This collection is the first in a series of compilations of the webcomic, and it's surprisingly worthwhile. These guys were worth a few laughs almost right from the start; before we are even ten pages in we get to one of my all time favourites of theirs.

The book itself contains the expected extras, a couple of introductions, a few pages of sketches and a rant by the authors at the end which is quite good. It's about webcomics as a business but the point is extendible to the entire arena of internet commerce, and it's mismanagement by big business. There is also a short commentary from the writers for every strip. For some reason they neglected to say exactly which of the guys wrote each commentary, which is slightly annoying (although it's always obvious from context when it matters), but they do make the book less superfluous, (considering that the entire archive is available online for free). Of course, a lot of the comments on the earlier entries are along the lines of “Wow that really sucks. Lets move on to the next one” or “Apparently we were really pissed off at these guys. So pissed off that we depicted them getting flayed alive. I can't remember what they'd done that was so bad now” (there's a little lesson there about saying things in anger) and quite frequently “Yeah I don't know what the hell we're talking about here either.”

The number of variations on that last comment that appear is telling. If you're not immersed in the subculture (and I showed my favourite strip to my sister in order to verify to myself that this is the case) all of this may as well be megaGAMERZ 3133T, and sometimes it doesn't make sense to anyone, even the authors. But it's all part of their charm. Even though How Proust Can Change Your Life was the first book to make me laugh out loud in a long time, this book had me chuckling into the wee hours for the whole three days it took me to read it.

Lucifer: Exodus
by Mike Carey

The only reason I bought this was because I am incapable of leaving a bookshop with only one purchase, and it was the only vaguely interesting comic I could find to accompany Penny Arcade.

I'd become bored with the last few collections of Lucifer, and I had little interest in continuing the story. Not much changed my mind in the first few chapters of this collection, although I was pleased that the Nickelodean style of art that plagued alternating issues up until now has finally dropped out of the series.

To my surprise I found myself really enjoying the second, major storyline of this collection. I believe that it is because the main plot, which has plugged steadily onward for book after book with one jaw dropping, mind blowing cosmic event after another, none of which have dropped my jaw or blown my mind, was set aside for a slightly more low key arc which focused on a smaller bunch of secondary characters that I rather like. I might just pick up the next volume after all.

See also Lucifer Volumes 1, 2&3, 4, 5, 6

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