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I Love Led Zeppelin
posted June 29, 2006
Fantagraphics, oversized, 112 pages, July 2006, $19.95
I like Ellen Forney's comics, and both the cover illustration and oversized presentation on her latest, I Love Led Zeppelin
, prove quite handsome. It's a shock then, that I Love Led Zeppelin
ends up being such a poor showcase for her best work. It's a thin volume, somewhere around 90 pages of actual comics. Despite this relatively small number of pages, the work is scattered among several presentation styles and themes, roughly gathered under four sub-heads: Forney's how-to comics, some recent short stories, some older comics and a suite of her collaborations. Forney has never been one of those cartoonists whose every work contains something of interest; that definitely holds true here. Many of the stories simply aren't as good as the others and as such feel like padding; at the very least they give the impression that the book was assembled without a discriminating eye. When compared to Forney's more crisply executed, more clearly conceived works in that first section, half of the collaborations feel gassy and self-indulgent. The fictional stories fail to come together; at their best they're standard 1990s-style autobio, nothing that would make you want to see her go down that specific creative path again.
In the end, there simply aren't enough comics that work as well as the funny "How to Smoke Pot and Stay Out of Jail," or comics like "How to Be a Fabulous Fag Hag" where Forney displays a tasteful eye for color, to clear the palate after taking in so much uneven material. There was a potentially wonderful how-to book to be had some years down the line, or even, if illustration had been used perhaps, a book built around the theme of naughty misbehavior that could have lived up to the phrase in the sub-title of "panty-dropping comics." This, however, is a far too trusting showcase for an artist that should have been better protected.
(as a side note, isn't the use of band logos what screwed those 1980s/1990s rock comics?; I'd hate to see the use here confused with that kind of nonsense)