(should this go under a Fuzzball or Shooting Star listing? Oh well.)
The Atomic Comics I pre-ordered Job Wanted from called me today to tell me I could pick it up, but when I went down there later this skinny girl with a USSR-logo shirt (hammer, sickle, and all) told me I COULDN’T get it and the manager must have been confused. But after I threatened to call Michael Hutchison HIMSELF to settle the matter, she whimpered, backed down, and gave it to me without a fuss! Yeah, that’s what I’m talking out.
Aw, I’m just kidding, that didn’t happen. Even I don’t name-drop that badly. I just told her how I’d pre-paid for it a few months ago (hence the confusion) and she let me have it. Nice commie.
But, to the review. Keep in mind that I don’t exactly have a completely objective viewpoint, because… well, duh.
I believe that a “Good show!” (with the best British accent I can muster) is in order.
I honestly was kinda worried about this one. I’d promised to review it in the last post’s comments section, but it occurred to me: What if I didn’t like it? Or worse: what if I thought it was mediocre, but hyped it up to myself and others because I know a guy or two who created it?
Well, I feel silly. “Job Wanted” is a big bowl of fun. And that’s a bowl for eating, not a toilet bowl. In case you were wondering.
Anthology titles are tricky, so after some thought I figure it’d be best to review each of the eight stories individually (now keep in mind that I am completely unfamiliar with any of these creators’ previous works and characters):
Behind The Fuzz– the story of how the Fanzing staff made the transition from web geeks to comic-making geeks. Funny, fourth wall-breaking, and quick story in the vein of Scott McCloud– who makes an appropriate “cameo”. Good intro; it works well for people familiar with the FZ staff and complete newcomers alike. But I don’t even TRY to tell me you didn’t steal that Stan Lee gag from “Freakazoid”.
Gone to Texas: Rogue– Interesting way to start out a book that’s generally light in tone like this one. I appreciated it more the second time around, though, with its brief but thoughtful message on “freedom”. Wonderful art by Philip Neundorf.
The Slime– With its fast pace, silly scenario, emphasis on the titular substance, and “gotcha!” ending, I think the best way to describe this one would be to say that it’s kind of a “Goosebumps” for the comic books set. Trust me when I say that I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. I usually don’t have much patience for short stories (yes, I’m talking to you, Stephen King) but this is one done right: clear, compact, funny.
Night Route– In all honestly, probably my least favorite of the book. It wasn’t entirely clear to me who these character were or what exactly the setting was. And thanks to the black-and-white art, at first glance the heroine and the villain (when in his “disguise”) look almost identical. Sort of lacked any real punch, IMO.
Enigma in Outer Space– With its thorough dialogue, well-established setting, and clearly-defined characters, this feels like the most “complete” story in the comic and is probably my favorite. This might have something to do with the fact that is indeed the longest; some might say it also might have to do with the fact that it’s written by my “boss” here at MD– but rest assured that Hutch is not signing any paychecks for me, no sir. It’s got solid art and dialogue, a great twist that I didn’t see coming, and a nice (and not overdone) theme of companionship. Feels like it wouldn’t be at all out of place as an episode of “The Twilight Zone”.
Beekeeper– Seems very much like an old-school, (like REALLY old-school) gritty vigilante comic. Probably would have had more impact on me if I’d been familiar with the (non-Henry Pym) Yellow Jacket before now. Also, surprisingly brutal in contrast with the rest of “Job Wanted”, I must say.
Devil in the Playbox– About a priest entering a video game to combat the Devil. You want camp? We got some camp. A fun story, but to me it felt sometimes the humor was just a bit too out there to be maintained. A lot of great lines, though.
Evil, Inc.– The instant I read the line, “Unwilling to accept charity, they bartered their services to him instead. This resulted in them giving him two ninjas for one dairy cow”, I knew this was the funniest story in here, and it rivals Enigma in Outer Space as my favorite. In addition to some deviously clever humor and an art style that matches the tone perfectly, the Brothers Grinn win further points for originality because instead of aiming for a full-but-brief narrative like the other writers, they used the limited space (eight pages in their case) to turn their segment into an extended guided tour/advertisement of a fake talent agency/crate-and-barrel store for supervillains. This is one I’ll likely be showing to non-comics fans to get them interested.
All in all, eight fun stories plus the opportunity to support talented independent comic creators makes this one a bargain at six bucks (seven if you’re a filthy Canadian).
Oh– and I can’t forget to mention the cover art (and various title pages’ art inside) by Rosaline Terrill. They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but darn if it doesn’t have a psychological effect on buyers anyway– so fortunately Terrill’s front cover graphic is sharp & colorful, and it sets the right mood for the book while giving each of the main characters their visual due as well. Great stuff.
So what’s next for the Fanzing crew? This is a promising beginning that darn well better open some doors for ‘em in the industry. And even if it doesn’t–Make mine Fuzzball!