<<•>> edited by Zack Soto <<•>>
It was a long time coming, but the third – and 3D! – issue of the one and only Study Group Magazine has arrived. The centerpiece of the issue is a celebration of 3D comics, and one of the form's prime progenitors, Ray Zone, who passed away in 2012. The 3D comics start out with a celebrated Kim Deitch tale, "4-D", with separations by the only and only Ray Zone. This is followed by a brief history of the 3D comics by Jason Little, who is responsible for all the 3D seps that follow on comics by Dan Zettwoch, Chris Cilla, Malachi Ward, and one drawn by Little himself. But thats only the center section! There are plenty more awesome 2D comics in full color, duo-tone and black white. The highlight has to be the stunning twelve-page full color story by Connor Willumsen, but there is plenty more to be looking forward to here, including work by Sean T Collins and Julia Gfrörer, Benjamin Urkowitz, Mia Schwartz, Trevor Alixopulos and Sophie Franz, plus engaging articles – Rob Clough on the significance of Ryan Sands, who has played a major but little recognized behind-the-scenes role in the development of 21st century comics as an editor (Electric Ant), publisher (Youth in Decline) and translator (of manga, such as Suehiro Maruo's The Strange Tale of Panorama Island); James Romberger on William Burroughs (which includes an excellent, short comics adaptation of Burroughs by Romberger himself, "Shits versus Johnsons"; and Sean Wittzke on Scud the Disposable Assassin. Plus "a conversation" between Milo George and Ronald Wimberly about Wimberly's hip hop inflected adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, which is follwed by a review of the same by Sarah Horrocks. All wrapped in an amazing cover by Jim Rugg. Bonus: 3D glasses are included with every issue!
Aptly referred to as "the B-SIde to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet", Ronald Wimberly's Prince of Cats pulls off quite a feat: successfully reimagining the world of Romeo and Juliet in an hepper-than-hep 1980s NYC where hip-hop and punk exist side-by-side and duels are settled with Samurai swords. The story here centers and pivots on the figure of Tybalt, with Romeo and Juliet as supporting cast. The art is dynamic, colorful and perfectly captures the mood while doing an amazing job of visually transcribing the throbbing soundtrack of the streets, train tracks, nightclubs, tenements, alleyways, nightclubs, bedrooms, offices, backrooms and underpasses that together weave an intricately colorful tapestry of the overarching and immortal theme of love amidst tribal conflicts. While Wimberly's art here has been justly praised, his command of the Shakespearean mode, and its adaptation to this setting is perhaps even more spectacular. His intuition of meter and measure in his translation of the streetwise lingo of Elizabethan England to the hepcat patios of 1980s New York is simply spot on every time, and a joyous wonder to read. Get this one for the jaded English major on your list.
Between the hardback covers of Black History in Its Own Words, celebrated comics creator Ron Wimberly has selected and illustrated 39 quotes "ranging from the casual to the profound, from luminaries past and present." The comics portraits assembled here range in style from Pop Art to European portraiture to manga and, of course, straight up comic book, the mode of representation in each case chosen to effectively represent the speaker and match up with the quote. Part of the fun of this collection is seeing who Wimberly chose to represent, which quote he picked and how he went about it representing it, so we're not going to spoil things by giving it all away here, but will suffice it to say that the range – from Sojourner Truth to Ice-Cube – is wide, and includes plenty of surprises, and will demonstrate to just about every reader that there's still plenty to learn about black history.