Rich Rice

Dark Horse Presents 47 (January 1991)

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If it weren’t for a one page Rich Rice cartoon of an apologetic Godzilla, this issue would be really scraping bottom.

Okay, not exactly true. Buniak’s got a beautifully illustrated jungle adventure featuring Tarzan and Kong stand ins. Lovely ink washes. The story’s not strong, but the art’s the point.

Otherwise, it’s a weak one. The art from the Trumans is pretty good. While the plot has a solid finish, their writing is disastrous. The first person narration is… Ugh.

Wolfer and Warner have some future story about an earth invaded by alien dinosaurs and the Japanese building humans battle armor. It’s lame and derivative, with some occasionally okay art. I don’t think Wolfer has a single original idea.

As for Mielcarek’s story, is Dark Horse publishing mediocre eighth grade illustrators? The writing’s moronic, but the art is simply hideous. Maybe the worst art I’ve ever seen in this series.

CREDITS

Jungle of the Giants; story and art by Timothy Truman and Benjamin Truman. Burn Out; story and pencils by Mike Wolfer; inks by Chris Warner; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Desperate; story and art by Brian Buniak. Monster Island; story and art by Vince Mielcarek; lettering by Jade Moede. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 40 (May 1990)

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You know, I think Matt Wagner’s Aerialist is homophobic. Every man is forced to be gay. Anyway, it’s not at all impressive, a Rollerball knockoff. When his characters aren’t in costume, Wagner’s art is rather weak. I guess the hot air balloons look good.

Bob the Alien is absolutely amazing as a) Bob moves to a black neighborhood in Brooklyn and b) discovers God. It might be the funniest installment so far. I can’t believe this comic isn’t more appreciated.

The Argosy is a really wordy retelling of Jason and the Argonauts. It’s fantasy, introduces about forty character names in eight pages. It’s a waste of time.

Randall continues his good art on this Trekker installment. Still bad writing–some really silly developments here.

The Wacky Squirrel story’s a waste of pages, but I guess Bradrick’s art is good.

Campbell’s Bacchus features the (presumably true) store of Dom Pérignon. Fantastic.

CREDITS

Trekker; story and art by Ron Randall; lettering by David Jackson. The Aerialist, Part One; story and art by Matt Wagner; lettering by Kevin Cunningham. Bob the Alien, Bob, the alien, Learns About God; story, art and lettering by Rich Rice. The Argosy; story and art by Bruce Zick; lettering by Karen Casey-Smith. Wacky Squirrel, Diet Riot; story by Mike Richardson and Jim Bradrick; art by Bradrick; lettering by Jack Pollock. Bacchus, Gods, Monks, & Corkscrews; story and art by Eddie Campbell. Edited by Randy Stradley and Diana Schutz.

Dark Horse Presents 39 (May 1990)

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I think Davis’s Delia & Celia has definitively made me hate all fantasy, if I didn’t already dislike it enough. It’s like he sits around trying to think of how much blathering exposition he can fit in each panel, like it’s a contest to one up himself. The story’s completely incomprehensible at this point, but I’m pretty sure it’s never, ever going to end.

On the plus side, Ron Randall’s artwork has gotten fantastic on Trekker. Some of it’s the inking–maybe all of it’s the inking. It’s just gorgeous. Too bad his writing is still terrible. He spends maybe five of his eight pages rambling, trying to find a point to the story. He fails, there isn’t one.

Bob the Alien is, as usual, a delight. I don’t think I’ve mentioned how important “regular” people are to Bob‘s success. Rice has significant insight into the human condition. It’s just wonderful.

CREDITS

Trekker; story and art by Ron Randall; lettering by Steve Haynie. Bob the Alien, Bob, the alien, Schemes; story, art and lettering by Rich Rice. Delia & Celia, Drelin’s Wager; story, art and lettering by Gary Davis. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 32 (August 1989)

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Ugh, another “annual.” Sixty-four pages of Dark Horse Presents tends to be a little much.

The American is a little long here–it’s very passive and not at all dramatic. On the other hand, Peterson shows he used to be a lot more interesting of an artist.

The Wacky Squirrel strip from publisher Richardson is dumb.

Davis’s Delia & Celia is a complete bore, big shock. He manages to make a pterodactyl boring.

The longer than usual Bob the Alien just shows with more space Rice does an even better story. It’s funny and touching

The Concrete story is better than usual–Concrete’s jealous over girls–and Chadwick puts in three unanswered questions. Two are crime related, one personal. It works.

Bacchus is great. Campbell gets more into his eight pages than anyone ever has in one of these issues.

As usual, Zone is passable, Race of Scorpions is lame.

CREDITS

The American, My Dinner with the American; story by Mark Verheiden; pencils by Brandon Peterson; inks by Randy Emberlin; lettering by David Jackson. Wacky Squirrel; story by Mike Richardson; art by Jim Bradrick; lettering by David Jackson. Delia & Celia, Down, Down and Down; story, art and lettering by Gary Davis. Bob the Alien, Bob, the alien, Steppin’ Out; story, art and lettering by Rich Rice. Concrete, Visible Breath; story and art by Paul Chadwick; lettering by Bill Spicer. Bacchus, A God and His Dog; story, art and lettering by Eddie Campbell. Zone; story, art and lettering by Michael Kraiger. Race of Scorpions, The Rusty Soldier; story and art by Leopoldo Durañona; lettering by Laura Davis. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 31 (July 1989)

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It’s a banner installment of Race of Scorpions. Two things I never thought would occur do this issue… first, Duranona uses shadows to give the reader some sense of depth. Well, only for half the story, but still. Second, he comes up with an interesting detail! In this miserable future, cookbooks are bibles. I’m stunned by these developments.

The Zone story is on the low side of okay. Kraiger spends too much time on the boring Zone character (before he douses some guy in toxic waste or something, which is funny). But the art’s good and the plotting is decent. Kraiger has some sense of what he’s doing here.

Rice’s Bob the Alien story is awesome, as usual. Here Bob encounters deception, but still manages to come out ahead. Lots of laughs, great progression of narrative.

The Duckman story is only a page long and I don’t really understand it.

CREDITS

Race of Scorpions, The Alley Where Sorrows End; story and art by Leopoldo Durañona; lettering by Laura Davis. Zone; story, art and lettering by Michael Kraiger. Bob the Alien, Bob, the alien, is Swindled; story, art and lettering by Rich Rice. Duckman, Duckman’s in a Snit Today; story, art and lettering by Everett Peck. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 30 (June 1989)

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Oh, good, Race of Scorpions is back and just as incomprehensible as always. It turns out the mysterious stranger is really the brother of the evil emperor. There’s palace intrigue, an assassination attempt, machinations, it goes on. And it’s still awful. Maybe the writing’s a little better. Or it’s at least more understandable.

Luke and Norwood’s Project: Overkill is good. It’s a simple, Terminator thing, but Norwood’s art is excellent. Luke’s writing isn’t bad either, but it’s somewhat confusing. I don’t know if it’s an ongoing feature, but it might help it it is. Norwood is manga influenced, but it’s eighties manga. It’s really long too, but doesn’t feel it thanks to Norwood’s handling of action.

The Bob the Alien story is really short and amusing. Rice only has one real joke but it works out. It’s a shame Bob lost pages for more Scorpions.

Scorpions brings the book down.

CREDITS

Project: Overkill; story by Eric Luke; art by Phill Norwood; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Bob the Alien, Bob, the alien, Gets a Bike; story, art and lettering by Rich Rice. Race of Scorpions, Recollections and a Stabbing; story and art by Leopoldo Durañona; lettering by Laura Davis. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 29 (May 1989)

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I remember when Homicide started it was all right. It finishes here (I hope) and Arcudi’s dialogue is so laughably bad, I can’t believe I ever had a nice thing to say about it. While my inclination is to pause and mock it, I think I’ll move on.

Murphy’s back with another prose story with some brief illustration. He tries for potential fiction here, like Borges sometimes does. Murphy’s no Borges and the whole thing feels like some kid in high school wrote it. The art isn’t special, so I assume he knew someone at Dark Horse.

Bob the Alien is the best yet, with a constant stream of faux pas. They start minor, with Bob acclimating to living with a human girl, but then they just go crazy. Rice gets in some great lines.

The Duckman strip closing the issue is funny enough (though it can’t compare to Bob).

CREDITS

Homicide, Blood Storm; story by John Arcudi; art by Doug Mahnke; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Pressed for Time; story and art by Andrew Murphy. Bob the Alien, Bob, the alien, Moves In; story, art and lettering by Rich Rice. Duckman, The Mime Murders; story, art and lettering by Everett Peck. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 20 (August 1988)

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This issue is a sixty-four page giant–only most of the extra is filler. They could have gotten away with a lot less pages.

The Mr. Monster story is real short (and lame). Gary Davis has a short space alien story showing he’s read some Arthur C. Clarke (it’s long, wordless filler).

Rick Geary’s got a nice two page story, which is filler but really excellent filler.

Then there’s the start of a Trekker serial. It’s incomprehensible if you haven’t read the Trekker series and probably even if you have.

Doug Potter has an excellent story about homelessness.

Oh, I missed Bob Burden’s Mystery Men and Flaming Carrot two page filler.

Then a real Mask story, which seems to be wrapping up. The narrative’s a little pat dramatically, but I’m not sure Badger cared.

Bob the Alien and Mindwalk have stories. Bob‘s hilarious, Mindwalk‘s weak.

Finally, even more filler.

CREDITS

Mr. Monster, The Thing in Stiff Alley!; story by Chuck Gamble and Michael T. Gilbert; pencils by Gamble, Gilbert and Chuck Wacome; inks by Gilbert; lettering by Ken Bruzenak. Anomaly; story, art and lettering by Gary Davis. A Mother’s Tragedy; story, art and lettering by Rick Geary. Trekker, Vincent’s Share; story and art by Ron Randall; lettering by Ken Bruzenak. The Mystery Men!; story and art by Bob Burden; lettering by Roxanne Starr. The Visit; story, art and lettering by Douglas C. Potter. The Mask; story and art by Mark Badger; lettering by David Jackson. Concrete, Watching a Sunset; story and art by Paul Chadwick; lettering by Bill Spicer. Bob the Alien, Bob, the alien, Goes Birddogging; story, art and lettering by Rich Rice. Mindwalk; story by Randy Stradley; art by Randy Emberlin; lettering by Willie Schubert. Wacky Squirrel, Mixed Results; story, art and lettering by Jim Bradrick. Black Cross; story and art by Chris Warner. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 19 (July 1988)

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Finally; it only took eighteen issues, but this one is essential reading.

It’s not as simple as there not being a weak story… every single one of them is good.

I suppose, in this company, the weakest is Badger’s Mask. It’s starting to get old, with no real plot progression. He’s also doing the ink washes every other page, making it feel formulaic. Those complaints made, it’s still fine work. Though I notice the CIA’s no longer after a Cuban priest, just a South American one.

Rice’s Bob the Alien extended strip is really funny this time, not just amusing. I’m now looking forward to future entries.

But it’s all about Darrow and Geary.

Darrow’s Bourbon Thret is also an extended strip–sort of a Little Nemo without the bookends. The artwork is simply exquisite, seeing Darrow’s lines in black and white… breathtaking.

Then Geary has a great little mystery.

CREDITS

The Mask; story and art by Mark Badger; lettering by Tim Harkins. Bourbon Thret, Sead; story and art by Geof Darrow. Bob the Alien, Bob, the alien, Rides the Subway (and then gets off); story, art and lettering by Rich Rice. The Sack Murder of 1954; story, art and lettering by Rick Geary. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 18 (June 1988)

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Badger’s ink washes on The Mask are real nice, but they’re so much easier to comprehend than his regular art, I almost wish he’d done the whole thing with that process. It’d be worth the wait. With the ink washes, when he does something crazy, it just works better. Maybe because it feels realer when the Mask appears and reality splits.

Chadwick uses his Concrete spot for some more old stuff–in the letter column, the editor reveals these “Sky of Heads” stories are nothing but old Chadwick material from a drawer, which I said the first time. The story in the story in the story is all right. Chadwick’s a lot meaner than usual. It’s not as sappy as Concrete.

Bob the Alien is kind of funny. Rice’s art is a little rough even for a strip, but it’s consistently amusing.

It’s an okay issue, nothing terrible, which helps.

CREDITS

Concrete’s Sky of Heads, Quality Time; story and art by Paul Chadwick; lettering by Bill Spicer. The Mask; story and art by Mark Badger; lettering by Tim Harkins. Bob the Alien, Bob, the alien’s, First College Party; story, art and lettering by Rich Rice. Edited by Randy Stradley.