Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Exfanding Review: The Naked Artist...And Other Comic Book Legends

Let's kick off 2011 with a bang! Or, at least, with a review. I got plenty of cool swag this Christmas, and as always, I made like a bandit with a pile of new, shiny books to read.

At the top of that list was The Naked Artist, the excellent insider's look at the comic book industry and its major players, by writer/illustrator Bryan Talbot.

This is one of those one-sitting reading experiences, as the book clocks in at just under 130 pages and reads at a breakneck pace. Talbot—an old pro of the comics industry—shares anecdotes he’s heard (and witnessed) at various comics conventions around the world.

As he states many times throughout the book, some of these stories are true, others are embellished, and others are completely made up. Though, to that last point, one gets the feeling that everything within these covers has happened to someone, at some point.

The stories range from the laugh-out-loud funny to the truly outrageous, and in most cases, alcohol consumption plays an integral role.

I found myself laughing hysterically at certain points, and shaking my head at others.

There’s some “inside baseball” here, for sure, but the stories take place just outside the realm of comics—and usually in a hotel bar. So don’t pick this up expecting to hear publisher horror stories, or tales about nightmarish freelancers. And, though feuds between creators are mentioned, the vast majority of this books deals with what happens after a convention ends, and the party begins.

This one’s certainly not an all-ages read, so don’t go buying it for little Johnny’s birthday because he likes Batman.

I’d venture so far as to say that you don’t even really need to be a comics fan to enjoy these stories. Sure, it adds to the fun knowing a little bit about the people involved, but Talbot writes each story as he would tell them at dinner, and they’re meant to be enjoyed by everyone.

Like the one about the artist who was invited to a convention in a foreign country. In a blizzard. And was left waiting at the airport for hours before breaking down and bumming a ride with a local truck driver. Who proceeded to drop off said artist several miles away from the convention center.

So the artist walked. In a blizzard.

Or the one about the...well, the naked comic artist who became locked out of his hotel room during a convention and had to make his way down to the (crowded) lobby to get someone to open his door.

There are anecdotes about people like Neil Gaiman, and Grant Morrison, and Simon Bisley in here. And there are stories about Will Eisner and Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore.

Not all of them deal with being naked, but all of them are endearing and fun and entertaining.

So if you've ever wondered what goes on after a convention ends and the creators all get together, pick this book up if you see it on the shelves--it's worth your time.

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