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Great Beast Comics
Great Beast Comics

The Most Interesting Comics of the Week

Great Beast Comics
Great Beast Comics

Every Wednesday, I preview the most interesting new comics hitting comic shops, Comixology, Kickstarter and the web. Feel free to comment below if there's a comic you've read recently that you want to talk about.

1. Tall Tales And Outrageous Adventures: The Snow Queen and Other Stories

By Isabel Greenberg
Great Beast Comics

The first issue of Isabel Greenberg’s new series Tall Tales And Outrageous Adventures was released by Great Beast Comics late last year but just came out on Comixology’s digital comics app this past week. The showcase story in this first issue is a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen. Disney's own version of the story – Frozen – has been been immensely popular, so now's a good time for Greenberg's comic to reach a wider audience.

Whereas Frozen is quite different from The Snow Queen, Greenberg's adaptation is pretty faithful to the original. What makes this comic so appealing, however, is the way she adds her own modern touch to it, particularly in the cute and nonchalant contemporary dialogue. There's a little bit of Kate Beaton in the way Greenberg mixes a faithful approach to the original material with a fresh sense of humor.

Isabel Greenberg's debut graphic novel The Encyclopedia Of Early Earth was nominated for a Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Graphic Novel of the Year. At 25, she's quickly become a cartoonist to watch out for. 

Greenberg sells the comic in print and digital formats through the Great Beast website. If you prefer Comixology, you can buy it for only 99¢ there. In addition to The Snow Queen, this issue also contains her version of The Emperor's New Clothes.

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2. On Loving Women

By Diane Obomsawin
Drawn & Quarterly

The newest graphic novel from Montreal-based cartoonist Diane Obomsawin, On Loving Women, is comprised of a series of vignettes culled together from interviews with friends and acquaintances about their coming-of-age discovery of their attraction to other women.

The stories are universal, even though they are all specifically about gay women. Most of us at an early age, regardless of sexual orientation, have dealt with first crushes and trying to understand unfamiliar sexual urges. To make the women in this story even more relatable, Obomsawin draws them in an elongated, anthropomorphic style. There are many explicit bedroom scenes but her clean lines and animal figures make the depicted sex more elegant and representational; simple and innocent rather than titillating.

These women came of age in a slightly less enlightened time than we are entering right now, so their stories deal with a certain amount of secrecy, shame, and prejudice. That said, these are generally positive accounts told by confident and comfortable women, and they make for an encouraging and delightful reading experience for everyone.

You can read a preview of On Loving Women in PDF form on Drawn & Quarterly's website.

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3. At Work Inside Our Detention Centres: A Guard's Story

Based on interviews conducted by Nick Olle; art by Sam Wallman
The Global Mail

The Global Mail is an Australian-based non-profit that publishes long form journalism. Recently, they hired cartoonist Sam Wallman to illustrate an interview with a former employee of an immigration detention center about his experiences there and the effect it has had on his life. The interviewee was employed by a large multinational corporation called Serco that runs all the immigration detention centers in the Australian mainland. While working in the center he felt so much empathy for the plight of the prisoners and the unknown agonies they had previously faced escaping their homelands that he began to have an emotional breakdown.

The interview itself is gripping, but the way Wallman interprets the man's words into visuals makes this interesting from both an artistic and journalistic perspective. Wallman's conceptual illustration skills are on full display. The format of the comic is without any panel borders, seemingly countering the concept of illustrating a story about being imprisoned. The expanse of white space surrounding each of Wallman's individual drawings feels heavier and more confining than simple panel borders ever could convey.

You can read the entire piece here on the Global Mail website.

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4. White Suits #1

Written by Frank J. Barbiere; art by Toby Cypress
Dark Horse Comics

An amnesiac, an FBI agent, the Russian mob, and a mysterious group of assassins dressed in white suits.

Those are the pieces of a puzzle that begins in the first issue of the new crime noir series, White Suits by Frank J. Barbiere and Toby Cypress. Barbieri is known for his recent surprise hit series Five Ghosts for Image Comics.

Toby Cypress works in a splotchy, energetic style that will probably remind you of artists like Bill Sienkiewicz or Ralph Steadman. In this particular book he uses only red and black washes splattered across the white page, evoking a Sin City flavor of noir storytelling.

Barbiere and Cypress produced a couple of short prequels for White Suits that were published in the Dark Horse Presents anthology. You can read one of them in its entirety here.

Read a short preview here.

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Stradivarius Violins Get Their Distinctive Sound By Mimicking the Human Voice
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Italian violinist Francesco Geminiani once wrote that a violin's tone should "rival the most perfect human voice." Nearly three centuries later, scientists have confirmed that some of the world's oldest violins do in fact mimic aspects of the human singing voice, a finding which scientists believe proves "the characteristic brilliance of Stradivari violins."

Using speech analysis software, scientists in Taiwan compared the sound produced by 15 antique instruments with recordings of 16 male and female vocalists singing English vowel sounds, The Guardian reports. They discovered that violins made by Andrea Amati and Antonio Stradivari, the pioneers of the instrument, produce similar "formant features" as the singers. The resonance frequencies were similar between Amati violins and bass and baritone singers, while the higher-frequency tones produced by Stradivari instruments were comparable to tenors and contraltos.

Andrea Amati, born in 1505, was the first known violin maker. His design was improved over 100 years later by Antonio Stradivari, whose instruments now sell for several million dollars. "Some Stradivari violins clearly possess female singing qualities, which may contribute to their perceived sweetness and brilliance," Hwan-Ching Tai, an author of the study, told The Guardian.

Their findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. A 2013 study by Dr. Joseph Nagyvary, a professor emeritus at Texas A&M University, also pointed to a link between the sounds produced by 250-year-old violins and those of a female soprano singer.

According to Vox, a blind test revealed that professional violinists couldn't reliably tell the difference between old violins like "Strads" and modern ones, with most even expressing a preference for the newer instruments. However, the value of these antique instruments can be chalked up to their rarity and history, and many violinists still swear by their exceptional quality.

[h/t The Guardian]

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