Le Monde de Milo

Since the newsletter is going on a summer break, I wanted to highlight a series that gives off a bit of a summer vacation vibe (at least at the start). Le Monde de Milo is a fantasy series – but think along the lines of a Ghibli film – written by Richard Marazano with art by Christophe Ferreira. The latter has worked for years in the animation industry in Japan (working on the fantastic film Napping Princess — read an interview with him here), and so it’s no surprise that his style feels very animated/anime, with a setting and world that ends up looking like a beautiful melding of European and Japanese styles.

The story follows the adventures of a young boy who finds himself teleported to another dimension, discovering the truth of his lineage, presented in 2-volume arcs. Five books have been released so far, so we’re halfway through the third story arc, with the latest book having come out a couple of months ago. I like it especially for the art style, but the vibe is fun too, with the kind of characters you’d expect to see in a Ghibli film.

Les mondes d’Aldébaran

Today I highlight a series that I just started reading last week, and I’m already incredibly addicted and on the way to binging everything in the series. The overarching series by Leo (the pen name used by Brazilian Luis Eduardo de Oliveira) is called Les mondes d’Aldébaran (The Worlds of Aldebaran), and it’s made up of a series of “cycles” that follow the colonization efforts of Earth on other planets. The first series, Aldébaran, released in the 90s and made up of five books, tells the intriguing story of colonists on the planet Aldebaran who have lost contact with Earth for over 100 years. An authoritarian government has taken hold, and so we follow the story of a group of resistants – not a group at first – who over the series deal with the fantastic dangers of the planet they inhabit, while trying to uncover a mystery that will eventually lead to some major societal changes. It’s fantastic stuff, with characters that age (there are occasional jumps between albums of a few years), and that you end up caring for quite a bit. I binged that first series over a weekend (you can read it in a collected tome), and I can’t wait to read the follow-up series: Bételgeuse, Antarès, Survivants – Anomalies quantiques, and Retour sur Aldébaran.

Murena

When it comes to reading stories set in Roman times, my touchstone growing up was the wacky adventures of Astérix the Gaul, but a series I’ve quite enjoyed reading in recent months is Murena, written by Jean Dufaux with art by Philippe Delaby. Set during the reign of Nero, we’re presented with a highly detailed – and heavily researched, as the addendums suggest – look at life in the Roman capital, but with a healthy dose of intrigue, violence, and political maneuvering. There are ten books in the series so far (I’ve read the first nine so far), divided in cycles of four books. It’s great stuff, and if you want even more Roman reading, I can also recommend Alix Senator, which is a modern series (seven books out so far) that takes the young hero of Jacque Martin’s classic Alix series (that started back in the 50s), and revisits him at an older age, now a senator in Rome.

Servitude

When I recommended Thorgal a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I’m not a big fan of fantasy when it comes to BD, but I did discover another great fantasy series this year, called Servitude. Written by Fabrice David and Éric Bourgier, with gorgeous art by the latter, it’s basically Game of Thrones in feel and atmosphere, with the same kind of political manoeuvering between the various factions – and same goes for the violence as well.

Each book does a great job of not only telling the story we’re following, but also devotes extra pages to give a lot of background on the world and its history, and to explain what makes the world tick – think of a resource book for a traditional tabletop RPG. The series was supposed to span five books, but following the release of the 5th book last year, the creators announced that they will need one more book to finish their story. I look forward to reading how it all ends.

Stern

The world of BD loves to use a western setting, and there’s currently a boom in books set in the Wild West – I myself have just started reading one of the classics though, Jean-Michel Charlier and Jean (Moebius) Giraud’s Blueberry. But this week I’d like to highlight a new series I’m really enjoying called Stern, written and drawn by brothers Frédéric and Julien Maffre. Set in 1880 in Kansas, it follows an undertaker called Elijah Stern – who just so happens to love literature — who sets up shop in a small town. It’s slightly comical, but not in a joke-y way, with a dry humoristic tone. There are two books out, and they’re both great.

Mickey

I wouldn’t say that I’m a particularly big Disney fan, but I do have fond memories of reading Disney comics when I was a kid – especially the Donald Duck/Scrooge McDuck ones with the Beagle Boys – and I really like the recent Mickey Mouse animated shorts the company has produced (watch the first 10 shorts here). On the BD side, I’ve been enjoying a fantastic anthology series published by Glénat that sees a variety of BD creators, like Lewis Trondheim and Tebo, offer up takes on Mickey. These are gorgeous books, and they all have a retro feel to them that seeps nostalgia through and through – in fact, the Mickey’s Craziest Adventures book is presented as if it was made up of long lost pages (like the one below) from an original Mickey comic. Each book in the series has its own distinct personality – there’s even one that imagines Mickey as the one and only Corto Maltese – and I’ve loved reading all of them so far.

Damien: Omen II

I’m a pretty big fan of the Omen trilogy, and so it was fun to revisit this for the first time in quite a while. I think it’s maybe the weakest of the three (I’ll need to revisit the third one though to confirm), but it’s still a good time to see Damien hit puberty and start realizing his power — all while discovering the people who are supporting him (I’d forgotten about the twist at the end). I find that it’s a shame that they don’t make horror films like this anymore — now it’s all slasher/torture porn, and the films that we do get that are supernatural are still more concerned with the violence and gore than the suspense.

Game of Death

I was actually angry while watching this movie. I’d completely forgotten that his was the “last” Bruce Lee film, using up a bit of footage (an entire 11 minutes) that was shot before his death, and then building this insanely dumb movie around it, using doubles to clumsily (with a beard, in shadows, wearing shades, from the back — with a fucking photo stuck on a mirror) replace Lee. It’s a horrible, horrible film, and I couldn’t believe what I was watching (I guess I was more forgiving as a kid)… and then I got to the fight scene at the end that does feature the real Lee, and it’s fucking magic. That sequence in particular where he’s fighting with yellow nunchucks in his yellow jumpsuit is just so fantastic, and gave me goosebumps while watching it. It doesn’t forgive the rest of this lousy movie, but that short sequence was enough to remind me of the genius that was Bruce Lee, and I think I’ll need to revisit his “real” movies now.

To Catch a Thief

This is definitely the lightest of the Hitchcock films I’ve re-watched so far, more on the comedic/romantic side, but with a slight dose of mystery (who is this thief everyone is trying to catch). The star here though is the amazing scenery of Nice and its surroundings, beautifully captures in “Panavision.” It wasn’t one of my favorites, but still fun to watch.

Train to Busan

I’ve grown pretty tired of the zombie trope — both in film and games — and so it took me quite a while to find the desire to watch this, even though I had heard (and been told) it was really good. I finally decided to watch it last week, and must say it’s a fantastic film. Using the train as a cramped environment to deal with works incredibly well, and the film as a whole is just really well done, with great character moments — and that includes the incredible hate I felt for that CEO guy. I know there are a lot of good Korean movies I still haven’t gotten around to watching, and this put me in a mood to do this sooner than later.