Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Review - THB: Comics From Mars 1

By Paul Pope
Published by AdHouse Books, July 2007. $4.95

An SDCC exclusive, this is the first THB comic in … I dunno. Years. It coincides with the release of AdHouse’s Pulp Hope, an absolutely gorgeous art book by Paul Pope, one of the best artists working in comics. Also announced at San Diego was the release of THB in a complete four-volume series from FirstSecond, but in the meantime: if there’s any way you can get your hands on this beautiful, scratchy, black and white comic, do so but quick.

THB is the comic Paul Pope has been returning to again and again for more than ten years now, chronicling the adventures of HR Watson and her bodyguard mek (that’s the Tri-Hydro-Bioxygenate of the title), but it’s also more than that -- Paul Pope’s Mars is so fully realized that it’s possible to dip in and out and feel engrossed without getting lost. COMICS FROM MARS offers four short stories that 1) offer a glimpse of a zooball game, 2) give a crash course on Martian history, 3) convey the work day of mek/comics mechanics, and 4) show HR in the course of her normal day, seeking out only the fat-bubbliest of bubble hipshakes.

I think my favorite thing about this issue of THB -- more than the inky black inks, the energy of new comics being told, or the hope of more THB to come -- are Paul Pope’s letters. Hand-lettering is beautiful and slipping away into memory, and I treasure every glimpse of it I can still catch. I don’t know if Eddie Campbell is still hand-lettering or not, but I know for a fact that his letters on FROM HELL made the book just as much as Alan Moore’s words and Eddie’s own art. Paul Pope’s letters in COMICS FROM MARS are another piece to an exquisite puzzle, and for all the fun I had at San Diego this year, one of the best things to come from the con was the news that THB will soon be collected and complete.

Tell me more: Paul Pope, AdHouse Books.

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