Cold Cut Distribution's Feature Spotlight #16 - August 1996


Publisher:	Dancing Elephant Press
Story & Art:	Paul Grist	
Cvr Price:	$3.50
Frequency:	Bi-monthly


Detective Kane is not very popular. A few months ago, he shot his partner Dennis Harvey in a tense standoff when Kane discovered he was corrupt. Internal Affairs cleared him, and he is back on the New Eden Police force after a six month suspension. But the rest of the officers dislike him ("Dennis Harvey had some good friends in this station", they remind him), some of them intensely.

The Captain has teamed him with a new partner - a young woman named Kate who is gung-ho in a way Kane can't be anymore. She's new enough not to have been there when Kane shot Harvey, so the events don't sit as closely with her.

Meanwhile, the city of New Eden is constantly in trouble of one kind or another. Whether it's a mad bomber blowing up buildings for ransom money or a crazed guy in a rabbit suit insisting that you not call him Bugs Bunny, there's always an adventure or a mystery right around the corner.

Writing Review:

The best police comic being published today, bar none. With a somewhat whimsical air to it, Kane can also bring a grin, even as he goes after mob boss Oscar Darke. Like the TV show "Picket Fences", it is about serious law enforcement in unusual times - realistic cops dealing with internal issues even as they deal with a shill faking a robbery of a safe to "prove it works" on TV. Excellent pacing, scintillating dialogue, deep characterization - anyone at all interested in heartfelt emotions during screwball plot twists needs this book.

Art Review:

Paul Grist lays out the book "like Mazzuchelli", I've read. After thinking about it, I'd have to agree - thick blacks, stark whites, and incredible use of shadows lends an amazing air of painstakingly-laid-out minimalism to the art. People and faces are drawn with a minimum of lines and yet are extremely expressive and active. Panel layout is so natural you never notice it, yet so varied as to lead you into action or introspective shots without a blur.


Detective fiction about realistic detectives - the obvious connection here would be readers of the Batman books who prefer less superhero and more action, more characters, and more suspense. Readers of Stray Bullets (though this follows the law rather than the criminal), viewers of "Bakersfield P.D." and people who liked "Pulp Fiction", "Get Shorty", and the "Die Hard" films are also prime suspects - and Kane is a perfect candidate for a "try before you buy" program, as the one thing stopping Kane from selling to half of your Batman readers is that nobody knows about it. Give Kane a chance and watch it sell!

If you like Kane, take a look at:

Copybook Tales

Publisher:	Slave Labor Graphics
Story:		J. Torres
Art:		Tim Levins
Cover Price:	$2.95 
Frequency:	Bi-monthly


In the 90's, Jamie is a guy with not enough money to pay his bills, but his long-term dreams of being a comic book writer still fill his head, if not his wallet. He still remembers (and so do we, through many flashbacks) his teen years when he idolized comics and their writers. His fantasies of becoming a comic book writer and his memories of being an avid fan keep haunting him as he struggles to make it in the modern world.

Writing Review:

We all remember when we were kids, right? When reading comics was an excitement like no other - and when we discovered that back issues existed and could be purchased... wow! Did you ever save up for a mint copy of an early X-Men issue? I did, and so did J. Torres. You can tell by the tale in this book - just one of the tales adapted from his diary, his "Copybook". The nostalgia runs thick in this tale of youthful dreams and modern reality colliding, and the emotions seep through every word. Funny references are also dropped in, to everything from "Wayne's World" to The Pursuit of Happiness. The pacing is occasionally brilliant, occasionally only acceptable, and Torres needs to work on his transitions between present-day and the past, and having three characters named Mike doesn't help, but overall this is a fine work, deserving of a much wider audience than it's found so far. If you collected comics in the 80's and liked it, why aren't you reading this book?

Art Review:

Somewhat sketchy but well laid out, Levins almost manages a tricky situation: drawing the same character only ten years apart. Necessarily they look very similar, leading the reader to occasionally be confused as to which time period he is reading about; and in a story which is basically about nothing more than comics collectors reading and enjoying and attempting to buy or sell comics, there is very little action, which necessarily leads to a lot of similarly structured panels (not unlike Doonesbury before the hiatus).

Some attempts at differentiating the two eras work (having the younger Jamie in overalls helps), sometimes it's too subtle to catch (it's only on my third re-reading that I caught the panel gutters - filled with black in the 90's, filled with white in the 80's). Overall, a good job which augments the story, the driving force of the book.

Sales Overview:

The Copybook Tales is an unfortunately bland title for what is a nostalgia-filled journey through youthful comic collecting - readers of Tales From the Bog should check this puppy out, as well as anyone who spent the early 80's collecting comics for the sheer pleasure of it. Older readers and twentysomethings should get a special kick out of the blasts from the past tossed in for good measure. Hand this over to readers of Strange Attractors if they like the nostalgic aspects of that retro series, and people who watched "The Wonder Years" on TV are also a natural audience. For that matter, why don't you read it yourself? Comic shop owners and employees should love this one!

If you like The Copybook Tales, take a look at:

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