A comic that is underrated, plus a “guilty pleasure” comic.


Children of the Atom, by Dave LappI usually have a hard time judging this. Some books (albums, films, etc) sell many but review badly, others review well but sell few; how to judge?

Then I remembered overhearing a conversation at TCAF about how a book that had greatly impressed me was having trouble gaining traction.

That Dave Lapp’s Children of the Atom, a collection of strip comics originally published in Western University’s The Gazette & Vancouver’s Georgia Straight, isn’t in every indie comics fan’s collection is a crime.

I mean, if your favourite characters are Wolverine & Deadpool, don’t bother. But if Calvin (of & Hobbes) or Linus are to your taste, then the innocence & child-like wisdom Lapp harnesses here are certain to engage. An excerpt from the above link:

Franklin Boy and Jim Jam Girl live in an absurdist world of their own making, exchanging philosophies, dancing around any possible love story… Lapp has created his own tightly concieved (sic) but loosely rendered world through poetic language, simple lines and shapes, and surreal settings.

Here’s the way I put it to Dave when I had the good fortune to meet him recently: It is so good & the innocence so compelling that I still haven’t finished it. I only read three, maybe a half-dozen, strips at a time, then I put it down so I have more to enjoy later. I’ve never read anything like it.

Guilty pleasure

Ultimates vol1 by Millar, HitchAs a lifetime (obscure) artist who has embraced the indie side of comics, after realizing the autobiographies of Chester Brown & Adrian Tomine are much more compelling than any fiction, I still check in on superheroes. I stick to what I hear are the outstanding examples – Miller, Millar, Moore, Bendis, Morrison, etc. – not out of snobbery, but because life is too short to read shit.

That’s where The Ultimates comes in. Marvel’s reimagining of the MU as Marvel Ultimate Universe can be dismissed as a marketing ploy, but I believe it was time to update the characters I grew up with. I mean, I can’t read those old comics – they’re so corny! The dialogue is painful!

This treatment is like hearing a great cover version of an old favourite song; Mark Millar’s The Ultimates is to The MU Avengers as Marilyn Manson’s gritty, scary Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) is to The Eurythmics’ safe pop stylings. Captain America is a true man of the 50s, uncomfortable with contemporary notions of romance. The Hulk, Dr. Banner’s Mr. Hyde, is a cannibalistic rapist – a true modern monster worthy of the cultural standards indicated by Cloverfield & Hostel. And Thor is a European pacifist hippy cult leader. Seriously – how can I resist?

When my budget permits (&/or my library gives me access), I plan to consume everything the MUU had to offer while it lasted.


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