The essence of a heroine is reflected in the ideal of her goals or pursuits. “Stumptown – Vol. 1” [Greg Rocha/Oni/156pgs] knows what it is and embraces it. Dex is the vision of anti-hero with a chip on her shoulder but a thirst for a good time. She needs money. She is down on her luck. She likes to drink. But she hits it with a sense of humor. ABC created the series adaptation that is premiering this fall. The pilot seen perfectly captures the feeling of the graphic novel and while the characters are reflective, liberties are taken in terms of moving the storylines. At least in the initial push the art captures a dingy feeling which is dictated to be Portland but could be Anytown USA. The major difference is in the music mix tape highlighted in the series which adds an undeniable tinge of the Greek chorus either underplaying the humor or overplaying the irony. While the investigations unit with Dex besets is already established, the texture of her relationship with Grey seems to be still developing. The essence of violence seems to be a constant in Dex’s life though she seems to take it in stride but her world weariness is apparent. She wants to be loved but she doesn’t want to put too much work into it. The politics, which seem so apparent at times in the pilot in terms of the Indian Reservation law, are subdued here although the capture of the matriarch of the casino and her nonchalance is adequately relayed. “Stumptown” plays into that noir concept of a character that seems to be stuck in her life but accepts it as existences. Like the gumshoes of the 40s, the world and its intentions forever focus what the characters choices will be. Dex makes the most of it and the least of it in the same throw.
By Tim Wassberg
Like the trailer for the Disney film “Dinosaur” many years ago, the essence of life lived without words is an interesting correlation. With “Cretaceous” [Tadd Galusha/Oni Press/160pgs], it is done in graphic novel form to ample effect showing the texture of elation, family, loss, death and rebirth in a way through the plight of these animals. Granted, most of what is shown is inherently Darwinian, only the most adept survive. The T-Rex of course builds this course but one definitely sees the animal thinking even if it is base. It wants to figure out what it wants to eat next. It fights a triceratops or a similar animal but its path in a little more dyametric. In one of the most telling images, it returns to a killing hold where it lays itself down where many of its brethren returned to. There are of course different breeds and the whole structure of the bird influence in modern science balances with old school views of what text books taught maybe 30 years ago. The artist and author does use different location spaces, specifically beaches and water to mix up the visuals a little bit as well as the interaction in jungles which seems to be adjacent to the more raptor type landscape. Many of the places we see in usual representations are of savannahs or deserts or plains per se (or perhaps a volcanic region as that is more dramatic) but it is these subtle differences as well as the inherent behavior that is drawn out over the journey that works. It is not so much a story as it is a “week in the life of” and this probably continued for millions of years unabated which is pretty unbelievable but never the less probably a truism. “Cretaceous” is a fun and yet telling vision of that kind of life the way it would have been told…with only natural sounds to fill the air.
By Tim Wassberg