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Samurai Jack Volume 1 Paperback – June 17, 2014
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About the Author
Jim Zub is a writer, artist and art instructor based in Toronto, Canada. Over the past fifteen years he’s worked for a diverse array of publishing, movie and video game clients including Marvel, DC Comics, Capcom, Hasbro, Cartoon Network, and Bandai-Namco. He juggles his time between being a freelance comic writer and Program Coordinator for Seneca College‘s award-winning Animation program. His current comic projects include Dungeons & Dragons, a new series celebrating 40 years of the classic tabletop RPG, Thunderbolts, the return of Marvel’s villainous superhero team, and Wayward, a modern supernatural story about teens fighting Japanese mythological monsters.
Originally docked in Detroit, Michigan, Andy Suriano hooked up with a circus-type, comedy/magic show when he was 18. He traveled the world performing for the next 7 years, sometimes on crazy European TV Variety shows, other times in historic Vaudevillian theatres, occasionally in front of ten thousand people, royal families, that sort of thing. The group even did a couple Fox specials here in the states way back in ’95 called The Rudy Coby Show. Andy’s specialty: walking on his hands as a two foot tall Elvis.
An accomplished graphic artist and illustrator, Andy’s worked both in comics and animation—winning an Annie Award for his work on Samurai Jack. He has also designed on other Emmy Award winning shows like Fairly Oddparents, Star Wars: Clone Wars and a bunch of others. He has also had a few pilots in production at Cartoon Network, Warner Bros., BET and Disney respectively.
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The product itself is very well made, the 135+ pages (where about 105 of them deal with the main story and the rest have commissioned/concept art) are well bound and have the typical satin "sheen" present in almost all manufactured books of this nature. The colors are perfectly printed with no glaring mistakes like uneven color layers or blatant omissions of ink. Every text box and word bubble are easy to read. This is a high quality product.
As for the quality of the art and story itself, such may depend on the individual tastes of the reader. What I can tell you is if you have doubts about the art style, look up the main artist (Andy Suriano) and see his blog and tumbler. His style has a very "messy" style in my opinion and at times I found it difficult to see distinctions between characters in the foreground and objects in the background. That's not to say that his style is horrible mind you, the problems I had with the art are few and far between and it's still very well designed. There were many panels that I wished I owned ans a stand alone picture in a frame on my wall. It's that well stylized.
I think the main problem I had with this product was the story. Without giving too much away Jack must acquire all parts to an artifact of power that will return him home. He goes on another journey to find all the parts culminating in a confrontation with Aku. The discouragement I experienced was the overly simple way the story ends. Nothing satisfying, not "fair" in my opinion, and almost lazy in the thought put behind it. I feel as though the ending was put in place to open the way for more comics in the future. This in no way comes as a surprise, this comic series was made to make money after all, I just wish more thought in the ending's explanation was put in to at least satisfy fans of the old show. These gripes are an issue with the writing (Jim Zub) and as for an old fan of the 2001 series, this is what stays with me longer that the art or the page bindings. I want to see the wandering samurai return home or at least find an ending to his story.
As good as the construction and art of this volume is, I can't give it a perfect score because of the story alone. That's why I gave this 3/5 stars, because I can't input half stars and I have to round down from where I decided upon. This is a good read, but maybe only a hardcore fan would be able to ignore the shortcomings and enjoy fully.
The illustration usually borders anywhere from passable to embarrassingly bad. Being a professional Illustrator myself, it was very hard to look past. Especially when illustrations by Genndy Tartakovsky are sandwiched between the pages you can clearly see the difference in quality. The original aesthetic of Samurai Jack is one of its strongest points and what sets it apart a work of art ( Some episodes one prime-time Emmy awards) but the art style here just falls flat. The likeness is there, as well as an extremely loose and thick ink job, lack of detal, geometry, color palette. It is also really clear which panels (and sometimes pages in sequence) were rushed. The finale of Vol.1 one ends with an encounter with Aku. Aku looks absolutely dreadful! I mean.......bad. Combine all of this with hard to follow action sequences that break motion in opposite directions and quick cuts that seem to come out of nowhere and you have a very "okay" graphic novel. That being said, it was great to have Jack adventures again and the Genndy illustrations (and even the guest illustrations) are worth having. Too bad the same level of polish couldnt be applied to the rest of this.