Comic Con Express – Bengaluru - 2012

Another year and another Express Event from Comic Con India. Our Pre-show coverage of the event in the Garden City.

Comic Con India – New Delhi - 2011

Get to know, more about India's first ever Comic-Con, how does it rate among the rest.

Chennai Book Fair - 2011

We catch up with the Annual Chennai Book Fair, and see what it has to offer for Comic fans.

Lion Comics Jumbo Special - XIII Collector's Edition

An inside look into a collection, touted as the biggest Comic Book released in India

Showing posts with label CineBook. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CineBook. Show all posts

Feb 9, 2009

CineBook - Biggles Recounts | Rugger Boys | 2007

Distributor in India: West Land | Price: INR 195 | Color | Pages: 48 | Laminated/HardCover

Thanks to all the Comikers who travelled with us back in time to re-live the yesteryear Tamil Comics, Thigil, in our last post, and chose to leave their valuable comments.  My replies to the same could be found at the end of the post.  No surprises, that old comics review would be an integral part in our future posts. But for now, we are back to our favourite CineBook instalments, as we will be looking into two more sets from their famed batch release in India last year.

Biggles First up the order will be a known hero for Comicologists, the famous British Novels, Biggles, who was brought in comic format through one of the  famed Franco-Belgian genre creators Francis Bergese.  If you had been following Comicology regularly (which I am sure you would), then you would recall that we covered an exclusive post on the Biggles Indian debut through Euro Books.  If you had not read it yet, now is a good time, as I have updated that post, to make it in line with the Comicology’s trend of detailing the creators behind the series, and a complete account of the originals; a concept which was originally pioneered at Comicology, and now being followed by fellow comics bloggers.  So in many ways, the update to the earlier post is a bonus for this post.

Biggles Recounts 1: The Falklands War
ISBN: 978-1-905460-22-9
Biggles Recount 01 Cover1
BR 1: BackCover
Size: A4 | Published: 2007
Biggles Recount 01 Cover2

Biggles Recounts is a new French series, which is different from its predecessor Biggles series, by the way that except the title, the storyline doesn’t always revolve around the main character Biggles.  The series is more like a self account of Biggles, during the real historical events which has happened through the World Wars which shaped the world as we see it today.  Since the Biggles character is fictional, the writers have the flexibility of basing him in every historical incidents, thus it is narrated as if Biggles had experienced the events from a first person point view.

So, if you had been expecting Biggles adventurous series, then you have to take a reality check, before browsing through these historical archives, delivered in graphical format.   Since the impact of W.E.Johns and Francis Bergese to the Biggles are already discussed in detail in our earlier post, we will look at the storyline and new artist/writer duo for this two set series.

The Falklands War is set in 1982, in the backdrop of the decade long conflict between Britain and Argentina, over the ownership of Falkland Islands. Deciding to make a head start over the 500 years of futile claims and negotiations, Argentina forcefully occupies the Islands.  A British task force is deputed it reclaim the island, which brews into a full blown war between the cross continent countries, with Argentine garrison finally accepting its defeat.  The war actually paved way for a testing ground for the modern weaponry of electronic warfare's, where Britain stamped its authority to the world.  Surprising even though the title says it is Biggles, the character itself doesn’t make any appearance in 48 page comic book, which takes the sheen out of this historical issue.

This was originally released in French titled Biggles raconte la bataille des Malouines in 2003.  This was a new series consisting of a team of brand new writer and artists, in the form of Bernard Asso & Joel Rideau donning the role of Writers, while the artwork was taken care by the duo of Daniel Chauvin & Marcel Uderzo (who is the older brother of Asterix creator Albert Uderzo).  None of these creators were known uniquely for their other work, so it says best about their attempt to create a pot-luck out of the Biggles brand.  I should say that even though the historical accounting is real good concept, I cannot help but noticing the fact that it was little over-used for a graphic novel format.

Biggles Recounts 2: Battle of Britain
ISBN: 978-1-905460-39-7
Biggles Recount 02 Cover1
BR 2: BackCover
Size: A4 | Published: 2007
Biggles Recount 02 Cover2

Bergese's Artwork in Biggles The second album on Biggles Recounts, is the Battle of Britain, where the story unfolds in the Spring of 1940. The Third Reich forces streamed into the north-west of France, after pushing through Sedan.  France crumbled within 35 days.  The Germans pressed their advantage and trapped the British Expeditionary Corps in a corner.  English army managed to escape back to England.  And the fate of the world was rested on the shoulders of a handful of men, the Pilots of RAF, where our fictional hero Biggles is placed in service.  The story then unfolds his team’s adventures through these war torn times, which also interlinks with the real event about the Bombing of Germany in 1943-45.

This was originally released in French titled Biggles raconte la bataille d'Angleterre in 2003. The story was again scripted by Bernard Asso, along with real historical events for which the Biggles Recount series is aimed at.  Surprisingly Francis Bergese, stepped into add his charm to the series which he revolutionized in 90’s.  I should say that his art has breathed new life into the series, which at times over-weighed by the predominant historical events.

CineBook has shown its keenness to publish the Biggles Recount series, as they have at present launched a 3rd album in UK (this time Biggles recounting the Wright Brothers from their early years; that’s sounds interesting), which is yet to reach India.  Moreover, CineBook have also started to reprint the Biggles series from 90’s, starting of with Spitfire Parade.  That and 13 other from this series have already been released in India by Euro Books.  So we might not being seeing CineBook Biggles editions over here.

Overall Biggles & CineBook seem to have got locked in for a long partnership, which is only good news for all the Biggles fans.

The next CineBook series review for this post would be Rugger Boys.  I wanted to review this long back, along with the Children Category posted earlier at Comicology.  But, this was clearly a set which I couldn’t quite fit into that sect.  It neither could make it into the more mature Winch & IR$ comics series review post at Comicology.  And since I strongly felt that this series doesn’t deserve a complete post on its own, I had to plug this in with the Biggles post over here.

I might be sounding pretty harsh about it, but the fact remains that Rugger Boys is a series which you can safely ignore from the lot delivered by CineBook.  It talks about the stories and adventures of a French Rugby team named PAC (Paillar Athletic Club), rightly subtitled as “Old Muckers”.  It showcases a bunch of rogues, dim-wits, half-minds, and their adventures, as they walk the breath and width of Europe in the name of the Rugby club.

RuggerBoys Inner ArtMake what you want out of this description text on the first title

“They’re sturdy Frenchmen, big eaters and drinkers, more physical than intellectual, more losers than winners… The Rugger Boys.  With them, readers infiltrate the heart of the cloakroom, the scrum, the clubhouse and all the nuisances you can ever dream of in your life.”

Look at the naming of some of the lead characters in this group: Lightbulb, Fat Neck, Anaesthetist, Trumpeter and Romeo.  They are also two others named Trunk and Ding-Dong, the reasons for the name are strictly “censored”.  Come-on I know there are some kids who read Comicology too :)

The series is written by Beka and comically illustrated by Poupard.  I couldn’t find much details about these creators, except a bio on the Original French publishers of the series, Bamboo’s website, for which I have them linked-to.  Explore them more, if you would like.  As for me, I will give them a miss, until they come up with some series which is worth talking about.

Rugger Boys 1:Why Are We Here Again?
ISBN: 978-1-905460-33-5 | B6 | Published: 2007 
Rugger Boys 01 Cover1

Talking about a good point, I did like Poupard’s comical sketch work, an example of which you could se right above. 

One another thing I noticed in their layout, is the top most corner art, which symbolically denotes the subject of the particular page.  The last time I remember this concept being utilised was in Ducoboo, which we discussed earlier at Comicology.

Rugger Boys 1: Why Are We Here Again

The Rugger Boys are invited to England to play some friendly games.  What’s in store for them over there is full of surprises, as they are introduced another kind of rugby.  The story travels around their exploits and their eventual return to their home.  Do they come up Triumphs is the overall subject of this instalment.

The Original edition of this book was released in French titled Les Rugbymen – On n’est pas venus pour etre la in 2006, by Bamboo.

Rugger Boys 2: A Spoonful of Style and A Tonne of Class

In Spoonful of Style, the All Blacks look for a sparring partner in order to prepare for the World Cup.  The stars of the team, Lightbulb, Fat Neck, Anaesthetist, Trumpeter and Romeo, can’t resist the call of the southern hemisphere.  The story is full of Cauliflower ears, broken noses and black eyes for which the Rugger Boys series seem to have aplenty.

The Original edition of this book was released in French titled Les Rugbymen – On va gagner avec le lard et la maniere in 2007, by Bamboo.

Overall, I should agree that there are some comical and funny moments pictured in these stories, but there is a clear over-dose of adult jokes and caricatures, which may only impress a few sects of the crowd.  It’s something which you can give a miss for sure, as they find their place in my collection only for the name sake.

It also seems Cinebook have themselves made their mind about the same, as there are no plans or announcements regarding a next issue in this series, even though the original French publishers Bamboo seem to have printed 7 albums so far on these characters.  Yeap… I agree there are some who might be liking these kind of stories too.. :)

Rugger Boys 2: A Spoonful of Style
and A Tonne of Class
ISBN: 978-1-905460-44-1 | B6 | Published: 2007
Rugger Boys 02 Cover1

And that brings us to the close of another CineBook review here at Comicology, which compared to the others which were discussed over here, should be the lowly rated instalments from the famed publishers. To improve things for better, we will take up some classic titles for our next Cinebook review, which may be of interest many Comicologists over here.  Stay tuned, to know more.

Wish you all a Happy Week ahead.  Have Fun & nJoY, while I will be back with another post shortly (probably our Muthu Comics latest issue review, which is yet to reach my hands). Adios Amigos !

Jan 9, 2009

CineBook - Green Manor #1 | 2008

West Land | Price: INR 195 | Color | Pages: 56 | Size: B5 | Laminated/HardCover

After a small gap, we are back with one more CineBook issue review, which was part of the batch release in India, last year.  CineBook are the only UK publishing company which has proved their stature competing against the overall odds of DC & Marvel influx, by banking on the famed Franco-Belgian era.  So there is no wonder their fleet of issues finds it presence more often on our website.

The title to be reviewed in this post is Green Manor, which is part of the “Double Expresso” series from CineBook.  Double Expresso, essentially means that it may be a volume of one or two editions, which are originally published in French or other language.  The plot revolves around a little known fictional English club called Green Manor, where the story unfolds revealing the secrets behind the thick walls, in the process enlightening the readers of the the greatest con artists Queen Victoria’s England has ever seen.

Green Manor 1: Assassins and Gentlemen
ISBN: 978-1-905460-53-3
Green Manor 01 c1
Green Manor 1: BackCover 
Published: May 2008
Green Manor 01 c2

Fabien VehlmannGreen Manor is a brainchild of French comics writer Fabien Vehlmann (b.1972, France).  Vehlmann like typical kids, is said to have been fascinated with toys and comics from his childhood.  But at the age of 23, he suddenly realized that the childhood love is still not lost in him.  He jokingly quotes

“My parents were subscribers of Spirou for years.  Leafing an issue, I discovered a contest for writers.  Like all budding writers, I first wanted to draw, before realizing that it is one of those which I ridicule better.”

Even though, he ultimately didn’t take part in that contest, it paved the way for shaping his interest.  He eventually joined the Spirou Magazine in 1997, and started contributing with various short stories, including writing one adventure for Spirou and Fantasio, a series which was reviewed here at Comicology earlier.  Fascinated by his works, Yvan Delporte, who was the Editor-in-Chief of Spirou magazine during the golden age of Franco-Belgian comics, once credited Vehlmann as the "The René Goscinny of the third millennium".  Comicologists would recollect Goscinny from his legendary works on Asterix, and Lucky Luke.

Denis BodartWhile at Spirou, he got his first official break in a full series, when he joined hands with artist Denis Bodart (b.1962, Belgium), to create the Green Manor series.  While Vehlmann is known for his intriguing plots, and mystery woven writing style, Denis Bodart is known for his toon-style artwork, while not compromising the seriousness related to the base plot.  Refer the Sample Artwork below, to see for yourself.  With this distinction, we could safely term Green Manor as a “Comics” Graphic Novel, for the fact that the Toon-styled comic artwork is used to depict a plot-work aimed for mature audience.

n an interview with Character Design, Bodart quotes about the difficulty associated with the artwork of Green Manor, which is typically a series of stories all spanning 7 pages each, as follows:

Green Manor Sample Artwork“I am most proud of the character designs I did for all the characters in the three volumes of Green Manor. The main difficulty resided in the very form of the série ( 16 short stories of 7 pages). In this framework, giving enough consistency to the characters so they get credible since the very first boxes was a real challenge… especially when you known that none would live more than 7 pages. A constraint that generates much frustration as you can easily guess. In the other hand, it also allowed me to explore several graphic possibilities.”

If you are interested to read the complete interview click here.

The 1st volume of Green Manor: Assassins and Gentleman contains 7 short stories, which are narrated as if they were told by a psychotic prisoner, who was an inmate at Green Manor, to a visiting doctor.  This gives us a first-hand accounting of the events as they occur, which reveals the blackness lurking in the minds of people rated as the top cream of Victoria’s England. 

Green Manor Original French Album 1Despite the subject matter, Green Manor is murder-lite; all the killings are offstage, and there is little gore as witnessed in the stories. But that's not all, the ending strongly suggests that Green Manor is all inside the patient’s head, which puts a different spin on all the stories you have read so far.

This English translation for this French album has been done by Elaine Kemp for CineBook.  The translator has taken enough care in maintaining the core storyline to retain its context. The Original French album was released back in 2001 by publishers Dupius titled “Assassins et gentlemen”.  Look at the cover art of the original edition, which shows how much rework it has gone through before finding its place as part of the CineBook stable. 

CineBook’s professionalism on display.

The duo of Vehlmann & Bodart have totally worked on 3 albums of Green Manor, which all have been released  by CineBook in US/UK.  With the reception it has garnered with Volume 1, they would be a collectors item, when Volume 2 and 3 finally makes their way to India.

Dec 10, 2008

CineBook - Largo Winch #1 | IR$ #1 | 2008

West Land | Price: INR 350 | Two-Volume Books | Color | Pages: 48+48 | Size: B5 | Laminated/HardCover

I am back with another set of CineBook reviews, which were part of the back-issues set distributed by Westland this year in India.  The topic of discussion for this post, is about the two new series, which were never published so far in India.

First up the order, is Largo Winch, which is a Belgian Comic series created by the legendary comic creator Jean Van Hamme, who is credited with works like Thorgal and XIII (a series slated to be the Lion Comics Jumbo Special).  As usual, let's look at the background of the creators before we zoom in to this series.

Largo Winch 1: The Heir
ISBN: 978-1-905460-48-9
Largo Winch 01 c1
Largo Winch 1: The W Group (Vol.2)
Published: Mar 2008
Largo Winch 01 ic

Just like his works, Jean Van Hamme (Born 1939 in Brussels), need no introduction, as he is often remarked as the Master of Comics Field.  But, can you believe that Hamme wasn't destined to be in this profession initially?  His initial career was on the Marketing field, but had the interest to write few comic stories in between starting from 1968.  As with other Brussels school writer/artists, Van Hamme eventually joined TinTin magazine in 1970, and started writing regular series.  Slowly he found his real interest in the comics biz, and left his marketing career to concentrate full time on comics writing in 1976.

LargoWinchThe Creation of Thorgal in 1977, was Van Hamme's first super hit.   In 1984, Van Hamme scored another big hit with his XIII series.  The South Indian Comic fans don't need any introduction for this series, which garnered huge attention towards the all work of Hamme.  But what many don't know is that the Largo Winch character was thought by Van Hamme even before his first hit series, Thorgal.

As early as in the late 1970's, Hamme started creating a series of novels with the lead character named as Largo Winch.  But the abysmal sales and his other prominent work on Thorgal and XIII, pushed this to back-burner.

BJean Van Hamme & Philippe Francq ut, when Hamme, met Belgian artist Philippe Francq in 1988, Largo Winch was re-born in Graphic Novel format, and first series debuted on 1990, through publisher Dupius.

The series was about a young carefree guy, who suddenly inherits amazing fortunes through a long lost relation, and his subsequent fight to reclaim the empire left behind, in the process battling through all forms of defiance.

Phillippe Francq's earlier stint at Hergé Studios, where he had a chance to collaborate with the likes of Bob De Groot (Clifton) and Bob De Moor, gave him an uncanny style of artwork, in expressing the moods and feelings with vibrant colors in an unique artistic style (See an example in the panel below, where the breathtaking scenario is expressed in a way in which the main character's importance is not spoilt).  These qualities coupled wtih Van Hamme's own intriguing plots, helped Largo Winch, become a huge success, paving way for a "Hat-Trick of Super Hits" from Hamme's stable.

Largo Winch Sample Artwork The success of series has made Francq concentrate solely on this venture, and currently the duo are on a release rate of one album per year.  So far, 16 albums have been released as of date.  It is said that the initial sales per album in French alone were around 600,000 copies each.  With CineBook's English translations they are only going to be made more famous.

As in the case of CineBook releases, this is also a two-volume edition, and perfectly fits the bill on this occasion.  Because Largo Winch stories are told over two volumes each, where the first one being the one putting Largo in an impossible situation, and the second one letting him get out of it. In addition, both volumes share the same background colour on the cover (as pointed out in Dr.Satish's blog too).  Isn't this a cool new idea to be utilised in the Graphic Novel Biz ?  Hope other comic players take note of it.

The two volumes in CineBook's first Largo Winch edition are:

1. The Heir (Originally published in French as "L'Héritier", in Nov 1990)

2. The W Group (Originally published in French as "Le Groupe W", in Sep 1991)

The plot starts with an introduction of Nerio Winch, chief patron of the business empire W Group, in his last days.  He wants to find a successor, and knowing that he has a secret adopted son, he is brutally killed by his own allies.

Largo Winch 1: BackCover Now, the focus shifts on Largo Winczlav, who suddenly is identified as the successor. A mad hunt is on with assassins trying to kill him, and the plot unravels at the second volume, where he goes through betrayal, treachery, with a final showdown set in an uninhabited island.  Francq's artwork does all the talking, and Hamme introduces preludes and twists in the plot as and when necessary.  Overall, a comics extravaganza, which you should not miss from grabbing.

Cinebook's tradition of editing the sexual interludes, for its targeted audience of English speaking countries, is shown in this release too.  There are some forums, where the angry purists are against this effort, as they believe it as tampering with the originality of the series.  Well, different people, different perceptions.  It should be said that the editing, does blend well with our culture, so there are no qualms.

Cinebook have also released the second album of Largo Winch in UK, titled TakeOver Bid, which encompasses the original albums 3 and 4, in one book.  Blue is the theme for the covers this time around.  I was told that they would be available in India with the next batch of CineBook early next year.

Lover of Dreams Shankar had pointed out in his post about a Largo Winch movie in production in French language. I am eager to hear his review comments, once he watches the new venture. Hopefully, the movie franchise will live up to the expectation set by the Graphic Novels.

The next new series from CineBook is from an relatively unknown Franco-Belgian duo of Stephen Desberg (scenario) and Bernard Vrancken (artist).  The series is titled "I.R.$", which refers to the all powerful tax collection office of United States, the Internal Revenue Service (an actual organisation in US).  The federal law states that the agency is empowered to collect taxes, and enforce the revenue laws within US.  Taking a tab out of this little known agency to the outer world, Desberg and Vrancken thought about a character, who would do a federal agent kind of a role, with the key emphasize being on the Taxing irregularities.  It's a whole new setting which let's the creative duo to break new ground on the Graphic Novels.

Stephen Desberg, born 1954 in Belgium, initially worked for TinTin and Spirou magazines assisting in their script-work.  While at Spirou, he got a chance to work with the legendary creator Maurice Tillieux, who is the author of Gil Jourdan, a Belgian Detective Comic series, considered as an Masterpiece of European genre.  Tillieux also has done some uncredited work on Yoko Tsuno (a series covered in Comicology earlier).

I.R.$. 1: Taxing Trails
ISBN: 978-1-905460-51-9
IR$ 01 c1
I.R.$. 1: The Hagen Strategy (Vol.2)
InnerCover | Published: Apr 2008
IR$ 01 InnerCover

Working with Tilleux gave Desberg, his first experience of managing a character plot, and he soon went on to create many series of his own, finally bumping with Bernard Vrancken (Born 1965 in Belgium) in 1996.  Initially they worked together for some short stories, before they started the political-financial thriller series 'I.R.$.' in 1999. The series centres around Larry B. Max, a fictional IRS secret agent, who is considered to be a specialist on Taxing.  (Much like, our IT Officers portrayed in Indian Movies, who are normally shown raiding the Big B's :))

As it is highlighted in the character biography, "Reading Tax-evasion and Money-launderings rings like a virtuoso pianist would read a sheet of Mozart".  Larry Max, Armed with a License to Kill and Thrill, like James Bond; Desberg and Vrancken take us to different themes of irregularities surrounding the Big Shots, through the adventures ranging all over the world.

In this CineBook release, we have two inter-connected volumes:

I.R.$. 1: BackCover 1. Taxing Trails (Originally published in French as "La Voie fiscale", in Feb 2000)

In this first album, Max must look into a particularly delicate file belonging to a rich Jewish-American, Moshe Geldhof, known for his involvement in recovering items that were confiscated by the Nazis. Dissecting this billionaire's accounts, Max embarks on a dangerous journey to find the mysterious origins of the man's immense fortune.

2. The Hagen Strategy (Originally published in French as "La Stratégie Hagen", in Mar 2000)

In this second album, Max continues to explore the billionaire's origin by visiting the Swiss Banks, to unravel the mystery behind the assassination of the former employee of the Union of Banks.

In German mythology, Hagen embodies the traitor. One who infiltrates the ranks of his enemies to destroy them better.  This idea has been incorporated very well in these two albums, as Max unravels the mystery and the black secrets behind the Nazi war and its cold after-effects.

IR$ Sample Artwork On final call, I would rate this attempt by Desberg and Vrancken as fresh and new.  But it fails on some account, as the plot seems to be dragged in certain sections.  A silent and moot agent, who has some secret mobile conversation with a call-girl to open up his mind, as portrayed by Max, may not get that well with a larger audience, who expect the lead character to be more dynamic in nature. 

Eventhough, Vrancken tried his artistic hand to show Max in better light with acrobatic skills in action sequences, and romantic interludes with the leading ladies (in line with CineBook's Sexual edit policy), it need to be admitted that the art style he followed doesn't boast well to the already suffering series with a dry subject of taxing.

Nevertheless, the authors have continued to publish this series so far, with the latest original French album #10 getting released in Mar 2008.  A clear sign that there is a fan following for this relatively unknown series.  Look at the covers of the remaining issues, released by Le Lombard.

On their part, CineBook have planned to release their next two-volume edition of IR$, in Jan 2009, which will combine the original volumes 3 & 4.

irs3 irs4 irs5 irs6
irs7 irs8 irs9 irs10

Hopefully, they will be better than the first two albums, to put some spice to the series.

With tax bells ringing over head, as we approach the financial year end, this might be a good series for you to get acclaimed on (no pun intended).  If you want to experience a different plot-work from the regular cop-catch-convict issues, grab the copy at your nearest store, before it runs out of stock.

Whatever be the case of the artist, the scenarist Stephen Desberg is going great guns with his another adventure "The Scorpion", an historic-adventure series, filled with incredible artwork of Marini.  CineBook have started releasing this series also in UK with English translations, and I am looking forward for their debut in India.


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