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Fortune and Glory: A True Hollywood Story
ISBN: 1929998066
By Brian Michael Bendis
Oni Press 2000

Probably just like everyone else on the planet, I've often thought that I could write a great movie script (at least better than what Hollywood turns out now!) and sell it to a studio, make a bundle, and thus acheive fame and fortune. I'll bet many of you out there have had much the same dream. Brian Michael Bendis' memoir Fortune and Glory, with much sarcasm and his usual keen sense for dialogue, hilariously shows just how such a venture can go. He headed out to Hollywood twice, one trip for each of his acclaimed graphic novels Goldfish and Torso. If you've ever wondered just whether all those steretypes about "the biz" are true, well, just read on, my friend.

review by robin

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outsiders_wantedMaria's Wedding
by Nunzio DeFilippis, Christina Weir, and Jose Garibaldi (illustrator)
ISBN: 1-929998-57-0
Oni Press, 2003

Frankie Pirelli's cousin Maria is getting married, and the whole family's coming to the wedding-- including his gay brother Joseph (and his new husband), his homophobic aunt Giula, his drug-dealing cousin Mark, and his cousin Carla, who delights in nothing more than stirring up trouble. No one's entirely happy with Maria's choice of a spouse-- Victor Dybow is a bit of an insensitive jerk-- and between that and Joseph's recent wedding (pointedly not attended by half the family), everyone is on tenterhooks waiting for someone to say or do something so unacceptable that they all get drawn into a messy fight.

Can Frankie-- who is known to be outspoken-- and the family matriarch, Nonna, manage to keep their family together? In this touching story about people overcoming their differences for the sake of family, Frankie comes to realize that sometimes tolerance and forgiveness can go further than strident proclamations of other peoples' intolerance and pettiness. This book's black and white art (with grey toned shading) is very simply drawn, centering the reader's attention on the characters.

Review by gina

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Truer than True Romance
ISBN: 0823084388
By Jeanne Martinet
Watson-Guptill Publications 2001

Comics have always crossed the genre lines, and in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, one of the hottest lines of comics were romance comics -- pretty much soap operas poured into 20 pages of saccharine, happily ever after goodness. Comedian Jeanne Martinet grew up reading romance comics, and after coming to the conclusion that they had permanently warped her take on relationships, she decided to fight back in her own way. Happily for us, she published the product: she took the images from particular romance comics and then rewrote all of the dialog to create new stories. Hilarity definitely ensues!

review by robin

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dinosaur comicsYour Whole Family is Made Out of Meat: The Best of Dinosaur Comics
by Ryan North
ISBN: 0756005183
Quack!Media, 2006

This is a compilation of an internet comic called Dinosaur Comics. The simplest way to describe Dinosaur Comics is as an experiment in the comic form: each comic is composed of six panels with exactly the same images on them: a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a close up frame of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a Tyrannosaurus Rex stepping on a house while a Dromiceiomimus looks on; a Tyrannosaurus Rex stepping on a woman while a Utahraptor looks on, a panel with just the Tyrannasaurus Rex and the Utahraptor, and a final panel of the Tyrannosaurus Rex all alone. Every day, Ryan North adds different words to these same six frames to create a continuous and hilarious story that meditates on the issues of life (and such strange things at the Canadian punctuation system). But beyond the formal experiement, this comic is humorous, introspective, and it has a huge online presence. Though the six frames remain the same in every comic, Dinosaur Comics transcends being an experiment in form to become, in T-Rex's words, "so awesome!"  The comic is exists online at www.quantz.com.

review by gina

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From Eroica With Love: Volume 2
by Aoike Yasuko
ISBN: 1-4012-0520-8
CMX, 2005

In life, one needs the help of friends. Major Klaus Heinz Von Dem Eberbach AKA "Iron Klaus" has a slew of agents at his disposal, all named after letters of the alphabet to make his life easier. Earl Dorian Red Gloria AKA "Eroica" has James, his very stingy accountant, who also happens to be madly in love with him. These are the main players in From Eroica With Love, a classic shonen ai comic originally written in the late 1970s. In my review of From Eroica With Love volume 1 I was amused to finally be reading a comic I've heard about so often over the years, but a little unsure where the story was taking me. Volume 2 is where I finally started to understand the sheer addictiveness of this incredibly strange and wacky comic.

In volume 2 all the ridiculous hijinks continue. This time we've got jade statues, Russian spies, and international criminal and government conferences being held next door to each other. Klaus and Eroica inevitably meet, Klaus is as annoyed by Eroica as always, and Eroica hits on him as much as ever. Somehow, in the midst of all this, we also manage to have a plot dealing with shipping deals, terrorist plots, and secret microfilms. That's where needing the help of friends (and enemies) really comes into play.

From Eroica With Love is light, amusing, fast paced fluff. There still isn't a whiff of actual sexual content for readers to worry about, but there is a constant presence of homosexuality which some readers may not be comfortable reading about.

Actually, that theme probably bears a bit more discussion. Many of the characters within the story are gay and in every case either extremely flamboyant, effeminate, or both. These depictions probably had a much more painful bite to them when this was first published in 1976, but within the context of 2006 the over-the-top characters in their wild 70's clothes don't offend so much as serve to make the story all the more absurd and humorous. These are stereotypes that are so big, so ridiculous, and so removed from today's reality, that most modern readers wouldn't be able to give them legitimacy. It also helps that the expressions of homophobia within the comic are all made by characters that are just as over the top and during moments that are just as ridiculous, thus assuring that the no one in the comic has the credibility to really argue or prove something to the reader with these stereotypes. All of this is my very long-winded way of saying that ultimately From Eroica With Love seems to me to be fun and harmless, not offensive or cruel. This is a charged issue though and your mileage, as well as the opinions you hold going into this, may vary.

Review by Katie

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