Rex Libris Vol. 1: I, Librarian (SLG Publishing)

rex-header.jpgColdly dorky art and a hyper-literate script are the highlights of this knockout tale of a badass super librarian.

 

 

184 pgs. B&W; $14.95

(W / A: James Turner)

 

Those familiar with computerized graphic design know about the Bezier pen tool, which draws straight lines and curves from one point to another with the artist choosing the sharpness of the curve. In the epilogue to this collection of the first five issues of the ongoing, quarterly Rex Libris series, writer/artist James Turner says all of the drawings were done using the Bezier pen tool and a mouse. Anyone who’s ever used the Bezier knows the frustration it can cause. You either master it or it masters you. Turner has not only made the wily digital tool do his bidding, but he’s managed to use perfect, computerized curves and lines to create expressive, human characters and worlds.

 

The cover to Rex Libris Vol. 1 by James Turner.While the digital art and multiple shades of gray give everything a fairly cold look, Turner warms up and humanizes the illustrations with crooked lines, imperfect shapes and a top-notch story. The tale of Rex — a 2000+ year old super-librarian who not only mans the circulation desk but also uses magic to travel through space to find overdue books, all the while kicking ass and making literary references — lends itself to a certain, cold, dorky sterility, but that’s what makes this comic so great. Hyper-literate comics fans will likely find this book hilarious. The overabundance of philosophical jabs alone is worth the cover price for literati, while the generally ridiculous action and magic scenes.

 

This is also a wordy book, and verbosity can sometimes kill great comics. But, while a book about intellectual preservation would naturally be wordy, Turner quickens the pace with more artistic quality. The pages are rarely divided into panels. One action flows into the next, unhindered by gutters and strict divisions. The dialogue (and there is a lot of dialogue) rests comfortably on top of the pictures, in between swinging fists and blazing guns.

 

This is a very well-planned comic. Everything, each line, letter and shape is expertly placed for maximum enjoyment. The book flows nicely, but it could be a challenging read for anyone not familiar with Greek Mythology or political philosophy. For those who aren’t up on their ancient gods or modern thinkers, the art is great to look at, and it makes the story comprehensible and enjoyable.

 

With great humor and even greater art, Rex Libris is a knockout of a comic. If it does have a downfall, it’s that the audience who will get the most from it are probably literary snobs who don’t bother reading comics, or ‘funnybooks’ as they might call them. But, if a sci-fi fantasy comic about a near-immortal gun-toting librarian and his magical friends doesn’t garner a lot of fans, who could really say they’re surprised? | Gabe Bullard

 

To learn more, visit James Turner’s Rex Libris website at http://www.jtillustration.com/rex/  

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