Sam Kieth The Sketch Books Vol. 1 Review

I first became aware of Sam Kieth’s curious artistry when the animated series of his The Maxx comic was shown late at night on TV during my teens. I’ve followed him on and off ever since, most recently with his 2 issue Lobo: Highway to Hell series for DC. He’s also worked on The Sandman, as well as with Batman and Wolverine over the years. I guess he’s more known for the offbeat works that suit his unique sketchy style however, such as Epicurus the Sage and Zero Girl.

Unfortunately his website is inactive, so this attractive hard cover sampling of his work is a great place to start. IDW do have it in them to make well presented, stylish art books like this, as their Sparrow series of books (the latest one is centred on artist/designer Pushead) and their handsome tome covering the first decade of their own publishing history prove. ┬áTheir quirky series such as ZVR Aventure (no, that’s not a spelling mistake) show that the decision makers behind IDW are indeed brave enough to produce non-standard comics. So, a book on Sam Kieth then seems like a logical step. Whether this is part of a series as the Vol. 1 subtitle indicates remains to be seen, but if so, it’s off to a good start.

Sure, it’s only 48 pages, but the oversized format and replications of Kieth’s sketchbook, (with dirt, scribbles, and all) works well. One look at Kieth’s artwork is all you’ll need to know if you’re a fan. There’s much diversity in these pages, and some minor comments from Kieth on the odd page. There’s a few pages dedicated to fashion, some to Japanese inspiration and several visual ideas on a film called Four Women he was once going to direct.

The different media used include paint, watercolours and pen and ink. Busy pages are sandwiched by superb examples of minimalist landscapes and flowing lines. This is $10, sure, but it’s a book you’ll certainly look at more than once.

United Moon Destination

Time for 3 quick movie reviews.

The Damned United tells the true (though embellished here) tale of manager Brian Clough’s disastrously short tenure leading hugely successful English football team, Leeds United. Taking over from much loved manager Don Revie, Blough’s non-nonsense, honest approach to playing made him no fans, or won his team any matches. Now, I’m certainly not a huge fan of soccer in the ’70s, but this is a riveting and dramatic film. Michael Sheen, after proving he has playing real life characters down pat in the excellent Frost/Nixon, does so again here. He’s confident, charismatic and unavoidably sympathetic. The closing credits and extras reveal what a great manager and showman Clough really was. This is what a sports film should be like – not the endless ‘uplifting’ gridiron fluff America trots out, but engrossing, surprising and real.

An indie sci-fi film directed by David Bowie’s son does not scream potential. However, ignore that doubtful voice. Moon is a revelation. First-time director Duncan Jones shows he can stretch a thrifty budget and expand upon concepts often visited in this genre. Sam Rockwell carries the film as its protagonist and solo performer, for the most part. He is brilliant and allows the film’s surprising narrative to hang on his shoulders with great skill. He acts besides himself, unravels a conspiracy and talks to his computer GERTY, as voiced by Kevin Spacey. This is the kind of film that science fiction can do so well, but rarely does.

The Final Destination is the last entry in this series that began in 2000. The 3 previous films are superior to this one, as they welcomed the dark comedy and grisly deaths. This film (in useless 3D) tries hard but doesn’t reach the same horror heights. The subtlety of death as an invisible character is gone here too. Objects move on their own, not seemingly affected by gravity and bad accidents. There’s the usual cookie cutter teens who get picked off one by one, but none of them are really worth caring about.