Friday, July 17, 2009

REVIEW :: Remake!

One of the cool things about working on the convention every year is getting to see some stuff well in advance of its publication. Sometimes it's because it gets sent to us, sometimes we see it at another show, sometimes the publisher sends out advance copies to increase retailer interest.

The first time I heard about Lamar Abrams was when "Cheeky" Chris Pitzer informed me that he would be attending HeroesCon with AdHouse Books. Now, while I trust Chris above most people, I like to have SOME kind of idea of who someone is before I just throw their name up on our guest list, so Chris sent me over a pdf of the first bits of Remake, which would be published in a few months. I was down with the program pretty much from page one, although I have struggled with how to explain why--Remake is an amazing book by a breakout artist, although it has some weaknesses here and there, even if they're mainly weaknesses born out of the enormous enthusiasm of the book.

The best and worst thing about Remake is its limitless enthusiasm and elan. Almost from the first page you can tell that Lamar Abrams is spinning these comics right out of his brain, with very little editing happening between said brain and the page. I say this as if I know: of course I do not. But I certainly got that impression, which as someone who reads a ton of comics is ENORMOUSLY refreshing. This, to me, is one of the things that really animates minicomics as an artform--the kind of egalitarian idea that says anyone can make comics any time, any way they like. And with someone like Lamar, who obviously is hugely talented, that kind of loose energy makes his comics come further alive.

It's almost like it's meta-funny--for instance, what is actually happening in the story rarely seems particularly important, as much as HOW it's happening. Like in this 2-page sequence, one of my favorite of the book which had me giggling out loud in the bathroom of the Toronto Reference Library a few months ago:

"UPSLAPT" is now my favorite sound effect, complete with arrow-addition to the "U". And how can you beat dialogue like "Oh my hand and part of my arm!" I'll tell you how: YOU CAN'T!

The problem with Remake is really just one of format. I think what's reprinted in the book is the original minicomics 1-3, and maybe some extra odds and ends. In small doses the lack of a gripping story is probably less evident, and you'd be free to just giggle yourself silly over the panache and flourish of Lamar's art and dialogue. As a 150-or-so page book, it can be harder to digest as a whole. This may just be me being a format snob, OR even more likely cautioning myself to be careful when one day reprinting my own feeble minicomics. I suggest reading Lamar's comics as they were originally published, in chunks. The book is just $12.95, so pretend you're buying 3 $4.50 minicomics with a fancy cover and you'll be in good shape.

Basically though, Lamar Abrams is the bomb-diggety. I have found myself looking at this book again and again--there's something really effortless and engaging about Lamar's comics, as if he's channelling the kind of silly comics you'd make when you were 8, but employing man-sized talents to those comics. Result: UPSLAPT!

Oh! And while hunting images for this review, I happened on Lamar's website, which has a ton more cool drawings and comics. I suggest you hop into that. In the meantime, you can pick up Remake from us at the store (some have Lamar drawings in them!) or from AdHouse if you are not fortunate enough to be one of our customers. Enjoy!


Andy Mansell said...

You had me at UPSLAPT!
But it was Sla-Bam and CHOKE that sealed the deal for me.

Good stuff, Maynard!!

Neil said...

hahaha. I was going to do a big ol' comment about how REMAKE reminds me of my 8 year old son's comics, but I guess you beat me to it. I actually got this for him at Heroes Con because 1) I knew he'd enjoy it and 2) I wanted to show him that comics don't have to have complicated dialogue and polished artwork to be good. And it is good.

My other comment (that I suggest everyone who reads REMAKE try) is that this comic is best when read using an old Kung Fu flick style overdub voice. Just like in those old movies from the 70's, the dialogue in REMAKE seems kind of sporadic and nonsensical. Like it was translated into English not as a literal translation of what was being said, but more of a general idea of what was going on with the importance placed on matching the words to the actor's mouth movement.

Anyway, this was a good and fair review Dustin. REMAKE probably isn't for everyone who walks into the comic shop, but if you like comics about odd little super heroes with spiky hair that eat cat cereal and up-slap lying grocery store patrons, REMAKE is for you.