Saturday, December 27, 2008

Batton Lash and The Soddyssey

Today, I received a nice Christmas present in the mail from cartoonist Batton Lash, one of the nicest AND most creative folks I've ever met in the comics industry. I had previously interviewed Mr. Lash for the book WELL! REFLECTIONS ON THE LIFE AND CAREER OF JACK BENNY. The connection here is a wonderful story from Batton's WOLFF AND BYRD, COUNSELORS OF THE MACABRE strip that features a gazillion Benny references. That story is reprinted in the current collection, THE SODDYSSEY AND OTHER TALES OF SUPERNATURAL LAW. I should mention at this point that this is NOT a review but instead a blatant plug. Anything with Batton Lash's name on it is several notches above anything with anyone else's name on it in today's comics world and deserves to be in the collection of any discerning fan or casual reader. For one thing, Lash's work is fun, the way comics used to be fun. It's also often funny. I mean really funny, not just stupid like so much of what passes for humor is these days. Sometimes it's laugh out loud funny and sometimes it's chuckle-worthy witty in a way that comics simply aren't anymore. This is the man who brought you ARCHIE MEETS THE PUNISHER, one of the most notoriously oddball comics of them all! This is also the clever creator whose RADIOACTIVE MAN issues from Bongo Comics offer letter-perfect re-creations of various comics ages , genres and companies. Most recently, he has turned his history-conscious genius to ARCHIE-THE FRESHMAN YEAR, the first issue of which is filled to the brim with in-joke references to such past fads as PUREHEART THE POWERFUL, THE MAN FROM R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E. and even the ARCHIE ANDREWS radio series! Having twice played Jughead onstage with the original cast, I of course, recognized "my" lines, "Aww...Relax, Archie..RE-lax!" I hadn't heard about this mini-series within a series running in ARCHIE until Mr. Lash included a copy of the first issue from this past summer with his gift. Within the hour, I was visiting my local comic shop for the remaining issues.
All of which brings me to THE SODDYSSEY, volume two of the most recent series featuring our heroes. Alana Wolff is the bizarrely coiffed protagonist with Jeff Byrd as her Foggy Nelson-like cohort. The stories offer a unique combination of legal humor, monster humor and heart-tugging pathos but underneath it all is a subtle plea for acceptance and understanding of those different from us. Lash's art, like his writing an amalgam of classic styles, is at a sort of peak in this volume. Even so, the credits indicate that he touched up or even completely redrew some of the pages for the collection. Guest artists such as BONE's Jeff Smith and Steve Bissette turn up briefly, too.
All in all, a joyful thing to have as I wind down my last week at work this next week. I look forward to kicking back with THE SODDYSSEY next weekend. If you want to do the same (and as I say, you should), check your local comic shop or order a copy here: http://www.exhibitapress.com/

If you want to read my interview with Batton Lash, you can order a copy of WELL! here: http://bearmanormedia.bizland.com/id254.html

If you happen to be flying through the midwest this week, both books are available at BORDERS in the Greater Cincinnati Airport!

Check http://www.supernaturallaw.com/ for new online tales of Wolff and Byrd!

1 comment:

Gloria said...

I have only read two collections of the adventures of Wolff & Byrd ("The Vampire Brat" and the first voulme of the series... I'm hoping t read the Soddyssey sometime soon), but I really love this series, and my only complain is that, due to my lack of finances, I have to wait to purchase the "trades" (the floppies would be too expensive, due to the cost of postage to Europe).

As you say, it's a wonderful read! I love the humour of it, which reminds me of both Harvey Kurtzman and René Goscinny (of Asterix fame) at their best... It looks also very sound, as a legal comic-book: it reminds me of great films like "Witness for the prosecution", "To Kill a Mockingbird" and the like.

Your comparison of Jeff with Foggy Nelson is interesting, though I must say that it is Alanna teh one wearing the bowtie! Also, Jeff is -on average- far more luckier in love than poor Mr. Nelson (which is a polite way of saying that poor Foggy's private life is just wretched).... IN fact, I'd like Daredevil comics to be in the courtroom more often: Supernatural Law clearly shows that a comic about lawyers can be, not only interesting, readable and formative, but also a lot of fun.