by Doug Smith
Welcome to the first (not at all) regular installment of “Under Your Radar”, which will shine a spotlight on a book we feel is worthy of your attention.
We kick things off with WONDERLOST (Book Two), from Image Comics and writer C.B. Cebulski. Cebulski is a former Marvel editor who still contributes frequent freelance work to that struggling little indie publisher. Don’t be fooled into thinking that WONDERLOST is about mutants and spandex though. This series contains autobiographical short stories from Cebulski’s misspent youth, illustrated by a variety of talented artists, and focusing mostly on his misadventures with the fairer sex.
Book two (Image published the first volume last year) contains eight stories, and anybody who lived through those awkward teenage years can find something to relate to here. “Ceeb” and I are about the same age, so the soundtrack of his life (yes, he includes a soundtrack listing) definitely brought back memories for this reader. Cebulski certainly had more luck (both good and, sometimes, bad…very, very hilariously bad) with the ladies than I, but a few of these stories also deal with that other great teenage tradition: drinking! When I read the story about Cebulski waking up, soaking wet, practically naked, on his parents’ front porch, after a night of drinking that resulted in a total memory loss (and an unbelievable missed opportunity with not one, but two members of that fairer sex), I nodded and said “Yep. Been there.” I even had a father with the same bemused reaction as Mr. Cebulski; it sure is nice to have parents who laugh at you instead of yelling at you.
Cebulski does a fine job of having these stories flow into each other, each building on the previous one, so that the book hangs together as a cohesive whole with a strong narrative flow. He is definitely courageous to lay bare so many embarrassing stories and the honesty of his tales results in heartfelt humor. I certainly wouldn’t have had the stones to share stories like his “Jaws” escapade.
The book’s artwork is handled by several artists, most of whom were unknown to me: Mat Santolouco, Ethan Young, Tony Fleecs, John Amor, Jason Meek, Rafael Albuquerque, Seth Frail, and Alina Urosov. Of these, only Albuquerque’s name was immediately familiar, as he is the current artist on DC’s “Blue Beetle” series. If he hasn’t already done so, Cebulski should be pimping Santolouco for the “Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane” penciling gig, because he would be a natural fit.
All of the art in this book ranges from good to very good, which is always a pleasant surprise when dealing with what is basically an indie anthology. At first glance, I wasn’t impressed with Alina Urosov’s contribution, but the pencils are actually very strong; the problem is that the greytones look faded and make the artwork appear a bit washed out and dull. This is a story that would have looked much better in full color, where I’m sure the artwork would have popped right off of the page.
WONDERLOST should be available now at finer comic shops everywhere. It is 64 B&W pages for $5.99, and sports a cover by Steve McNiven.
by Doug Smith