Just a few quick reviews this week as after Collectormania 4 and being on holiday, I need to relax.

Fagin the Jew is the latest graphic from the current Grand Master of the comic-book world, Will Eisner. Meant to be a re-telling of Oliver Twist, Eisner found himself more interested in Fagin and the story of the Jewish race at that time. Superb in its telling, and with a fascinating forward and afterward telling the trials and tribulations of Jews in this period and Dickens’ attitudes, its only let down by Eisner’s constant use (of late) of a sepia color scheme (when stark B/W would have been better) and the fact that his portrayal of Fagin as looking like Father Christmas is probably as much as a caricature as Cruickshank’s. Highly recommended and published by Doubleday, priced £10.95.

Tim Barela’s Leonard and Larry is a gay comic-strip appearing in Frontiers. The latest collection is titled How Real Men Do It and is just as funny and scathing as the other 3 volumes. Larry and Leonard are two middle-aged gay men, living in Hollywood with all their friends, relatives, rivals, enemies and the few odd ghosts of dead composers. Down to earth and to the point the two have to deal with friends “coming out” on live soap opera TV, deal with the attitudes of the younger gay generation (in one hilarious scene, Larry is asked to leave a gay health spa because he has body hair) and how gays can be just as racist and homophobic as the rest of us. This is beautifully illustrated at one point where one of Leonard’s friends is berated by the father of his son’s intended NOT because he’s gay, NOT because the girl is black (and he comes from a family of rednecks that he got away from) but because “what kind of a warped, self destructive personal philosophy would cause a GAY MAN to want to be A REPUBLICAN!!??”

Good strong clean line from Barela and can be wordy, but a fine example of what comics can do with real life and social commentary. Don’t be afraid to be seen with it and recommended. Published by Palliard Press and priced £9.95.

If you’ve finished all the HP books and are looking for something similar you can’t do any better than to pick up the Courtney Crumrin books. Darker in its telling and with a young female protagonist this is now up to its second volume, “Courtney Crumrin and the Coven of Mystics”.

Ted Naifehs art is creepy and should appeal to a lot of young girls. Courtney’s journey to becoming a powerful witch is on a par with HP’s, if not better, as Courtney is not above frightening people she thinks deserves it with her powers. Highly recommended from Oni Press and priced £8.95.

Last this week is Blue Monday from Chyna Clugston-Major. The continuing adventures of Bleu and her life in suburbia, with all the attending problems of being sixteen and being stuck in (her opinion) Nowheresville with only her friends and British pop music to get her through the day. This American manga is a joy and will appeal to teenagers of both sexes. This is the third volume and is once again available from Oni Press priced £6.95. Recommended.

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