Monday, October 20, 2008

1001 Arabian Nights: The Adventures of Sinbad

So we're three issues in and I absolutely love the story Dan Wickline is telling in his Sinbad comic. It's only fair to tell you that Wickline's a pal of mine, but if I didn't like Sinbad, I just wouldn't post about it. I'm telling you about Sinbad because I think you're missing out on an awesome story if you're not reading it.

It strikes all the right notes that I'm looking for in a Sinbad story: mystic artifacts, strange creatures, a diverse crew with various supernatural powers, a roguish hero, double-crosses, hidden islands, and lots of beautiful women.

I'm not as fond of the art on the first couple of issues as I am of the writing though. Paolo Pantalena has an angular, stylized look that I'm not sure was right for the story. As soon as I type this I'll think of an exception, but my favorite fantasy comics are usually ones that ground the wildness of the setting in a straightforward style. That's not to say that every fantasy comic should be drawn like Cary Nord - art doesn't have to be realistic to be grounded - but Pantalena's work is unsettling in its exoticness. I was never able to sit back and just enjoy the story. I always felt like I was interpreting his pictures.

Still, the man draws some awesome action sequences. He's dynamic as hell.

But back in the negative column, Pantalena's Sinbad sometimes looks malevolent when I think he's supposed to be cocksure. I saw this same expression on Sinbad a lot in Pantalena's issues.

Sinbad looks like his ideas may have as much to do with carving her up and dressing in her skin as they do with fooling around with her. Rest assured though, he's thinking about fooling around.

As you might expect from a Zenescope comic, the series is pretty bawdy. There are lots of barely dressed women and plenty of leering and groping from the fellas. That's not a complaint - it is what it is and the women give as good as they get in the series - but since most of the stuff I talk about here is fairly kid-friendly, I thought I should mention that this isn't. But even though I wouldn't read it to my six-year-old, it's great fun for me.

I mentioned the diverse crew with supernatural abilities. One of the main ones is Wilhelm, a cursed sailor whom Pantalena draws beautifully. Witness this entrance:

That's a great design. I'd buy a Wilhelm series if Pantalena drew it.

For the most part though, I prefer Tone Rodriguez's art in the third issue. He's got a more realistic style and he also gets Sinbad's grin right.

There's still some danger to that smile, but it doesn't look like he's about to cook and eat you.

Some of my fondness for the third issue may also have to do with the action's really picking up in it. There's nothing wrong with the pacing of the first two, but Sinbad and his crew do spend a lot of time sneaking around and gathering information. It's necessary and Wickline makes it interesting with lots of sword-play and intrigue and secret passages and whatnot; it's just especially nice when the dragons and flying lions show up in #3.

All-in-all it's a cool series. There are more artistic changes coming in future issues and I'd like to see Zenescope get that settled quickly, but Wickline's story is awesome. I'll be sticking with it.

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