Graphic Novel Of The Month

Wasteland: Book 04: Dog Tribe (Oni Press): Book 04 of Wasteland reaches a creative pinnacle associated with the notion of world building. Antony Johnston and Christopher Mitten make us feel, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that The Big Wet Universe expands far beyond the confines of the printed page. This effect is best evidenced by the wonderful bonus material that explains how thoroughly thought out the Dog Tribe arc was; look how much work and preparation was behind it all that never even ended up on the printed page. Whether it was the original town of Providens, the city of Newbegin and its inhabitants, Artisians or Sunners, the people of Sultan Ameer’s Caravan, The Dog Tribes, Ruin Runners like Michael, or the in-between issues about the children and the founding of Newbegin, or the fleshing out of relatively minor characters in Carla Speed McNeil’s issue, Johnston is methodically building a world and its various people. And it’s not just their simple introduction, but the presentations of their languages, looks, customs, and social hierarchy. These amazing detours are established and explored momentarily, while the overall story still progresses forward. And what to say about Christopher Mitten that hasn't already been confessed dozens of times? He’s capable of rendering anything thrown at him in the scripts with quiet confidence. His pencils are not just convincing shots of people and their emotion or the clarity of the rousing action sequences, but joyous there in the little detailed flourishes found in the clothing, weapons, backgrounds, jewelry, and baubles. Simply put, I’m brimming with excitement about the impending 25th issue and hardcover Apocalyptic Edition, hoping for more discovery of the universe and more special behind the scenes material. Wasteland began as an exciting mash up of some accepted genre conventions which quickly coalesced into something greater than the sum of its parts, it then grew to be a cautionary tale that allowed us to examine ourselves like all great art does, and has now added the ongoing seminar in writing and art that both those in the field, and those hoping to be, can aspire to. The word that springs to mind with this book is commitment to craft. Perhaps the most heartfelt compliment I can pay is that Antony Johnston is the kind of writer I want to be; not what he writes per se, but how he writes it, how he approaches his craft. Here it is folks... the best book you're not reading. Grade A+.


At 7:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First let me say thank you for the great writing. Wasteland is awesome and Ive been telling everyone about it. I dont read very many comics but I read the first issue of Wasteland on thier site and it got me hooked. Now I want to purchase all the issues. I dont know if I should buy them individualy or in the book forms. Is thier alot of bonus material in the book collections?

At 9:40 AM, Blogger Justin Giampaoli said...

Thanks for the feedback!

To answer your question, there actually isn't much bonus material in the softcover trade paperbacks. However, the benefit of the trades is that they offer the best value in terms of price per page vs. the single issues. I also think they'll be easier to track down at this point than all of the single issues (depending on the quality of your LCS of course).

The only downside of the trades so far has been that they haven't collected the prose short stories from Ankya Ofsteen's journal, nor have they included the interstitial issues between story arcs, like those featuring the art of Carla Speed McNeil, Chuck BB, or Joe Infurnari. These two features were designed to reward regular monthly readers who purchased the single issues and didn't "trade-wait" the series.

Yet another option is to pick up the recently announced "Apocalyptic Edition," which will collect the first 13 issues (including the prose pieces and interstitial issues) in a nice oversized hardcover format (think DC's Absolute Edition to the best of my knowledge). Depending on your LCS though, this may be limited and difficult to track down.

So... if you're looking for best value and to get the main thrust of the story, I'd say pick up the trades.

If you're a completist and want to ensure Wasteland sticks around, you can support the effort by picking up the single issues and getting all of the "bonus" material in the process.

Or if you're completely demented like me, you can pick up the single issues, then the trades, and then the Apocalyptic Edition too. ;-)


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