Suspended Animation comes to

Thursday, August 17th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Editor's Note: Today is the premiere of a new feature on the Entertainment section known as "Suspended Animation." Written by Tulsan Michael Vance, the column will be a review of current comic strips and comic books.

Lazarus: The Many Reincarnations

Review by Michael Vance

The difference between an amateur and an Olympic athlete is often a fraction of a second.

The difference between an amateur and a master cartoonist is often just as small.

As proof, Lazarus: The Many Reincarnations is a new comic book series by an exciting new talent who just barely misses the mark. If such awards existed, Zak Hennessey would be a strong contender for Most Promising Newcomer of the Year.

Lazarus is an epic adventure set firmly in the storytelling tradition of novelist J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and cartoonist Jeff Smith's Bone.

The Lords of the Dead rise up to overthrow the human warriors of earth. In a last ditch attempt to escape annihilation, a dead champion is literally resurrected as muscle, skin and blood clothe the skeleton of Lazarus, the reluctant but last hope of mankind.

That isn't wildly original, but does offer some nice concepts. So, the fault lies not in the plot of Lazarus. It lies in the telling.

Zak Henley's prose occasion-ally reads like an outline.

"Everywhere she runs, there are more [monsters]. Their undead fingers tear at her. Yet she manages to elude them. She breaks through some trees and suddenly sees hope!"

Just as unsettling, Hennessey's dialog occasionally sounds stilted and melodramatic.

But, for comic fans who wrongly value art above all else, it is its art that is most troublesome.

It is flat.

Although the artist's visual storytelling is clear, his pacing crisp, and his characters well staged, the width of his line never seems to vary. That weakens the illusion of depth, perspective and movement, and the ability of readers to suspended disbelief and live inside the story.

Then the difference between this artist and a master cartoonist is the width of a line?

That and a polish and personal viewpoint that will come with time, practice and life experience.

Lazarus: The Many Reincarnations #1 is priced at $2.95 and is 21 pages. It is printed by Lodestone Publishing and is sold in comic shops, by mail, and on the internet.

Questions? Comments? A comic you wish reviewed? Write: 1427 S. Delaware Ave., Tulsa, OK, 74104. Or email Michael Vance at

Vance Bio

Michael Vance was first published in The Professor's Story Hour chapbook at the age of eleven and became a professional freelance writer in 1977. Vance has been published in dozens of regional magazines and as a syndicated columnist and cartoonist in over 500 newspapers. His history book, "Forbidden Adventure: The History of the American Comics Group," has been called a "benchmark in comics history".

His magazine work has been published in seven countries, and includes articles for "Starlog," "Jack & Jill" and "Star Trek: The Next Generation".

He briefly wrote the comic strip, "Alley Oop" and his own strip for five years called "Holiday Out," that was reprinted as a comic book. Vance also wrote comic book titles including "Straw Men," "Angel of Death," "The Adventures of Captain Nemo," and "Bloodtide". His work has appeared in several comic book anthologies, and he is listed in the "Who's Who of American Comic Books" and "Comic Book Superstars".

His short stories about a fictional town called Light's End have been published in "Media Scene," "Holiday Out Comics," "Dreams and Visions", "Maelstrom Speculative Fiction" and "Infinity Press."

With novelists Mel Odom and R.A. Jones, he co-wrote "Global Star" a tabloid in a world where werewolves and babies born with bowling balls in their stomachs are reality, and the New York Times and Washington Post are "trash journalism".

In addition, he worked in newspapers for twenty-two years as an editor, writer and advertising manager, creating three successful newspaper magazines.

Michael Vance is currently communications director of a nonprofit agency, the Tulsa Boys' Home, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is a Christian and Presbyterian.