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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Lifelike (Drama) (Graphic Novel)

by Dara Naraghi & various artists.

Publisher: IDW Publishing (January 8, 2008).

Hardcover, 108 pages 

A series of illustrated vignettes, each by a different indie artist from around the world. The author provides a brief annotation before each story. Many are semi-autobiographical in nature.

We begin with “The Long Journey” drawn by Brazilian artist Iranipan Ruiz. It gravitates about an Iranian refugee in the U.S. who escapes from the horror of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980. Trapped between the squabbles of two demented dictators, he takes a third way and runs off.

Next is “Imaginarians”, drawn by Ohio based artist Tom Williams. It is a simple and insipid story of the importance of “the power of imagination”. A children book writer goes on a talk show and the two argue. There isn't much to this one and it ends with Hallmark greeting card level of wisdom.

“Double Cross at the Double Down”, the third installation, is drawn by American artist Marvin Mann. A fence meets a petty crook in a run-down bar and things get bloody. The dialogue is a little stilted here, as if the author wanted the characters to sound hard but had only learned American tough-guy talk from bad PG movies.

The fourth story is “Art/Life” drawn by Neil Errar. This is a great tale about the nature of art, or rather “good art”. As tastes vary so does the love of art. A man draws superhero comics for a living. Is he wasting his talent?

Number five is “Remembrance” drawn by Jerry Lange. It is beautifully illustrated on watercolors, quite frankly it is probably the most beautiful story in the collection. It is about the nature of death and a dog's connection to her master.

The sixth is “Punishment” by South Carolinian artist Steven Spensor Ledford. It's a weird revenge tale, dealing with crime and punishment. Maybe a little too black and white for my tastes.

Seventh, we have “Intermission: drawn by versatile artist Andy Bennett. A banal story without much point, except maybe it's supporting people who don't fit in being the really best people in the world while ordinary people are evil, or something. Whatever the point is, it's dull.

Eighth is “Crush” illustrated by Jerry Lange. A lesbian affairs ends and the two meet again at a bar. One of them half hoping to hook up again. Ehhhh. Lesbians are no longer edgy.

Ninth is “Comeback”, drawn by Tim McClurg. A decent story of a washed up actor with a love of cars who tried the only route left in his egotistical head to make it big again.

Tenth is “Smoke Break”, once again drawn by Marvin Mann. A smoke break outside of a hospital turns into a crash scene. One of the better stories here, it plays with some nuances between life and death. And on how one simple thing can change the trajectory of your life forever.

Eleventh is “The Routine” by California based artist Steve Black. A stale story about mental illness and acceptance and all of that. If this were part of a larger story, it might be more interesting. But this tale feels like a subplot, a b-story, than a full one on its own.

Twelfth we have “Rooftop Philosophy” by Adrian Barbu, a Romanian artist. Very well drawn, it's a story of two small-time crooks that plan the “perfect crime”. A decent story, even if you see the end a mile away.

Unlucky thirteen is “Skin Deep” by artist Tom Williams. Again, another story hampered by a short run time. It revolves around a man with some sort of voyeur tattoo fetish who is trying to convince a friend of his to get one. I'm not sure why, there sure seems to be a sexual undercurrent to the whole thing. Not bad, but not great either.

 For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

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