Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Reader's Diary #1419- Margaret Atwood (writer), Johnnie Christmas (artist): Angel Catbird

It's hard to find a moderate voice on Margaret Atwood. It seems some think everything the woman writes is golden, worthy of yet another Governor General's Award, while others despise her simply because she's popular-- heaven forbid a Canadian writer get famous, the mere fact alone should disqualify them from any awards which apparently can only be given to flavours of the week. I happen to think Atwood is a damned fine writer. Most of her novels are great (not all) and I enjoy her poetry. I don't, however, think she's has any business writing children's books (Princess Prunella is dreadful).

All of this is my way of saying that I was open to the idea that her first attempt at a comic is good, but I was skeptical. Reviews would be no help.

In her introduction, Atwood goes out of her way to justify her qualifications in writing comic books. She read them as a kid, she even drew some! Then she describes the terrible struggle she had finding an illustrator and a publisher for Angel Catbird. Please. Publishers are savvy enough to know that there are enough of the "Atwood can do no wrong" types out there willing to shell out a few bucks regardless of the quality.

Now that I've read it, I wouldn't go as far as saying she has no business writing comics, but this smacks of a first, amateur attempt. It would seem that she's not read a superhero comic since her youth because Angel Catbird comes across oddly dated. Strig Feleedus, the man whose DNA is merged with a cat and an owl (in a ridiculously implausible manner), tends to narrate the action in his thoughts and speech the same way that Spider-Man stopped doing in the 80s. "My hands... what's happening?" If he's looking at his hand and they're suddenly not human-looking, we can guess what he's thinking! Less is more!

Johnnie Christmas's art is slightly better, but just serviceable. I'm a sucker for background details and Christmas's are sadly scant. They come across like newspaper strips when artists at least had the justification that they were under a deadline.

All in all, a disappointment.

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