Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Comic Book Day

Zen Intergalactic Ninja #0 - 99 cents! I will totally pay 99 cents for a comic. This got my money but failed to grab my interest.  It's glossy, the art is ok, the story seems ok I guess. It' not even my least favorite thing I got today...

Amazing Spider-Man Annual 2008 - I was ready to not like this. It started out with an extreme overload of the little reference boxes saying what issue everything happened in previously.  It also had a first page with lot's of those campy dialog boxes telling us about the characters being introduced, etc. The goofiness of those things just didn't fit with the story that has a fairly serious message to it, and includes the death of a recurring character.  The nice part I guess is that it is a decent story. It makes an interesting point, opens a door or two, as well as closing one, and isn't too 'wallowy'. On the downside, if this isn't picked up on in the main title, it will be a waste of killing someone.  I am a bit tired of how often and cheaply people die in super-hero comics these days, but at least it wasn't grisly, right? It also may give us another character, so it at least could have a point to it.

Amazing Spider-Man #575 - I am not a fan of the sort of 'grotesque' art that is used a good bit in this issue. There is a bit too much of a focus on bad teeth and dental issues than I care for. I also think the art is a bit inconsistent. It picks up some as the issue goes on. I don't love how Peter and Aunt May are drawn, but other characters are great. I may be overly sensitive for no good reason here, but I don't think the opening 5 or six pages really needed to be Spider-Man making fun of the homeless woman he is saving because she smells bad, culminating with his throwing up in his mask. Ha Ha homeless are funny because they aren't people... If they were real people, they'd have homes... right?...  Fortunately, this issue gets better, and it goes on to bring us Spidey's first encounter with the new 'nigh invulnerable' Hammerhead. I ended up enjoying the issue, but it was in doubt for a while.

Incredible Hercules #122 - What's not fun about Hercules vs Namor? Nothing, that's what! It's classic Hercules, when he extends their fight even after it is made fully clear that they have nothing to fight about and are really on the same side. Namora is in this issue and gets to kick some butt too. It's good stuff. I say this with every issue, just hoping that it will continue to extend it's streak of being one of Marvel's best titles these days. It's fun and funny. It is smart, it has action and interesting plots. The art is good and the writing is great.

Madame Xanadu #5 - Madame X is in revolutionary France. . I didn't think this issue was quite as good as the previous issues. Hopefully it is setting up better things to come from a story standpoint. I am also not certain how quickly we are moving through history with her and where we plan to spend the most time. If we are just racing our way to the present, then I guess we are getting important character development and background. Mostly it just feels like a little history lesson with our main character dropped in like Sherman and Peabody only prettier and less funny. The art was also a little less spectacular this time out, and there is a run of pages in it where Madame X is startled or shocked or horrified, eyes wide on every page. It just could have been better, I think. This is a title I am sticking with for a while, so I'll let you know how it goes.

Astonishing X-Men - Ghost Boxes #1 - Am I the only person who saw this Andy Samberg /  Justin Timberlake SNL short? I am sure I'm not.  I have been cackling like crazy since I first saw the cover art for this issue. Unfortunately... Imagining Wolverine singing 'dick in a box' is really the best thing about this issue. I really didn't understand a bit about this comic. I don't get what was happening or why, or what it's relevance to anything is. I canceled all things Astonishing today. It just isn't what I wanted in an X-title anymore.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mini Comic Reviews, A Fistfull Of SPX - Part 6

Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart Four, Part Five

Nothin to it but to do it... Here is the sixth and final instalment in my seemingly 85 part series of reviews for the things I got at SPX earlier this month. Thanks for bearing with me folks. Hopefully you have at least clicked on some of the links and maybe gotten some ideas for some creators to look for in the future. This was my first time at SPX, as I have mentioned previously, and I found it to be a pretty rewarding experience. 

Addicted to Bumpers & The Divide - Falynn Koch - Both of these are a bit smaller format than the previous work of hers I wrote about.Both of these have nice covers and beautiful art inside. 'Addicted' covers the very serious topic of cereal addiction and 'Divide', which i just adore, is about people being separated by fate and then overcoming the odds in a sweet and fanciful way, in order to see each other again. Beautiful stuff. I will say again that I was very impressed by her work, and meeting the artist was a pleasure as well.

Karma Shmarma - Mark Griffin - This is a pretty sobering story about the artist's fight with cancer that he had previously seemed to have beaten. Sobering because of how unexpectedly it came back, but this is not a book about death or doom in any way. This is a story about a guy and the stuff that happens to him and the people around him. It's about a guy with a pretty amazing wife, and pretty awesome friends who loved him and cared about him. The art in this is really fantastic black and white cartooning. It doesn't attempt to be anything more than it is. There is a lot of humor in it, as well as a good bit of dazed expressions.  This is a very real story, and it strikes me as how things would be for me, or my wife, or any of our loved ones. Life wouldn't stop at learning about the recurrence, humor wouldn't stop. It's heavy stuff to think about.

A really nice thing about going to SPX, was getting to see the author's friends carrying on his memory and selling his books. Mark Griffin passed away in June of this year. I really think the best thing we can hope for, and the thing we should strive for is to surround ourselves with people we care about and who care about us... Preferably ones with a sense of humor.

The Life & Times of 'Baby' Otto Zeplin v1 - BT Livermore - This book starts with the birth of Otto Zeplin, or rather the birth of Frank Zeplin, as he didn't change his name to Otto until two days later, and ends with Otto making and eating the best sandwich ever. In between... Hilarity ensues. This is an absolutely perfect little book. The art is lovely and clean and professional, and the cover is snazzy with shiny gold lettering on red paper with a black spine. There is even a watermarked front page of a lighter stock like in old-timey books. I won't spoil the jokes in this thing. Buy it and see the funny for yourself.

Hyper Toast (1 & 2) - Justin DeCarlo - You won't believe just how much I wish I could put a link here to some place you could find lots of great info on Justin DeCarlo...  If anyone reads this and knows of a site for Hyper Toast, or for Mr. DeCarlo, please post it here, I would love to be able to share it with others. Volume one has the story 'Judas Hands', Volume 2 has 'Quentin Chase, On The Town' Both stories show a great deal of style and talent artistically, but they also show a ton of humor with an extremely smart and quirky bent (not self-consciously quirky, but slightly twisted in a good way quirky). If there is a unifying theme between the two volumes, it may be that a jar of olives appears prominently in both. Judas hands starts with a man telling his cat that he has a tumor the size of a tangelo, and ends with him suspecting that his various body parts are out to make a play for supremacy within the kingdom of his body. In Quentin Chase, our dapper and well to do main character becomes smitten with a street performer, a teller of tales who directs her actors (bugs that live in her hair) as they perform the stories she tells. I would love to see more of his work.

And there we are at the end of my SPX haul. I can't wait until next year. Hopefully I will have more money to spend and end up with an even greater amount of stuff to cover. 

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mini Comic Reviews, A Fistfull Of SPX - Part 5

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four

My Brain Hurts v1 - Liz Baillie - I should have bought all of these, but I was kind of running out of money by the time I got back around to Liz's table. If you have been following my SPX posts, you will know that this is the third work of hers I am reading, and it is also the longest. The volume I purchased collects the first five issues of the comic by the same name and weighs in at 128 pages for the bargain price of 6 bucks. Not all mini comics are this much of a bargain. I think hers were all priced very reasonably for what you are getting.

This is the story of young punks in high-school(ish) but most of the action takes place in clubs and on the street and in a hospital, homes, etc. I identify with this to some degree, but it is just outside of my experience. I never lived in a city with the sort of accessible music scene one might find in what I assume is New York, but may not be. I also, for the life of me had no knowledge of any sort of gay... anything in my area. I had one friend who was, but I won't say I knew it at the time. I never really made assumptions about people's sexuality. I have never been a particularly masculine guy, and I don't use that (often false) indicator as a way of judging sexuality, etc. I just know that I got called a 'fag' a lot by rednecks and jocks. I always took the use of that word to mean 'hi, I'm narrow minded, and you are different from me, and therefore I am threatened by your existence'

In this story, set in a city, and presumably at least 10 years after I graduated, homosexuality is something people actually think of acknowledging. Our main character Kate realizes after a spin the bottle girl on girl kiss, that she really does have feelings for girls. Her best friend Joey, who is an unbelievable 13 year old(well, I come from the past... at 13, I was not really into anything sexual). This is a pretty real look at what some people have to put up with just to be themselves. It doesn't absolve anyone of their own bad behavior, but it shows sexual preference as just another thing that people will use as an excuse to persecute, dehumanize and attack you for. Don't get me wrong, I don't really see this as a one note sort of work. It has greater depth than that. There is also a sincerity to it.

The art is raw, but it's good. It's consistent, it conveys what it needs to convey, it's detailed, and it really grew on me. The writing is good as well. It seemed authentic. I really like her work, and definitely plan to get more volumes in this series.

Local Honey (1 & 2)- No Lemon Press - That link is to a blog, but there isn't much there, and they list their website as being under construction. Here is what their sort of mission statement is (taken from the website(also printed in the volumes)
No Lemon Press, the Southeast's premiere indie GLBT comics imprint based in historic Savannah, Georgia. Founded by a Southern boy and two West Coast transplants, No Lemon Press aims to self-publish literate, queer-centered comics through a uniquely Southern lens.
Local Honey is compilation of work by Macarthur, Jon Wolfe, and Dan Valeza . Volume one is just Macarthur and Jon, Volume two adds Dan's work as well. I chatted with these guys briefly, and they were nice and funny. I enjoyed my brief stop at their table a lot. All three are top notch artists. They also all seem to have a really good handle on visual narrative. This is expressed in a variety of ways in these two volumes. They are small volumes, but each artist has at least one piece, and they are well worth picking up if you have the opportunity. I look forward to seeing more works by all three of them.

Woodland #1 - Phil Miarmi - This comic is the funny animal version of the 2000 presidential election. In addition to the story of how Walt Nutt won the election but still lost the presidency to Admiral Acorn, you get a number of educational aids included in-line such as The History of Sap, and The Voting Tree & You. It's funny, it obviously is written from a particular slant, but it works for me. I consider it a bargain at $1.

Ok, I didn't cover as much stuff here as I wanted to. I am down to just a few more things that I want to give some lipservice to, so I figure one post after this one will take care of it.

A disclaimer for the sake of fake-journalist-ic integrity... I am not going to post a review of everything I picked up at SPX. Something I decided not to do here, that I didn't have much of an issue with when reviewing the Popgun 2 anthology, is that I will not be posting negative reviews. If I bought something from a tiny press or from the creator themselves, and I thought it was awful, I am not going to mention names. My goal is not to crap on anyone who is trying to get their work out there. Hopefully they will get better with time, etc. I will say, that of the things I purchased, there were only a very few items I am leaving out.

So now I'm a Buddhist

Not too long ago I did a review of sorts for the 8 volume Buddha by Osamu Tezuka
I just finished it. If you have any interest in comics or manga on any level, I recommend that you read this. It's brilliant, epic, human and divine. It is a sweeping tale with almost too many characters to keep track of. The story starts before the main character is even born, and it continues until he dies 80? or so years later. We see charcters introduced, rise up and then fall, only to have more rise up. We follow a number of kings and princes and a large number of monks and various other people.

There is a lot of realism in this. Not everyone accepts the Buddha immediately. Not everyone accepts his motives or even believes that he is sincere in his mission. Some plot to kill him for nothing more than fame, while others try repeatedly because his existence cramps their style. Some follow him faithfully, only to fall of the wagon later to their own detriment. Some oppose him at every step, only to turn to him in their darkest of times and emerge faithful followers.

This is really a moving story. It is executed with brilliance and humor. I almost dismissed it when I was flipping through it in the library due to the strong cartoonish style. I'm glad I picked it up. Don't laugh, but I think I'm better off for having read this. I love the tenets of Buddha's philosophy. I love seeing these sorts of things expressed in fiction too. Characters who exemplefy that sort of selflessness usually appeal to me. He is a good man, but he is a man. His path to enlightenment wasn't easy, but there was no expectation that it would be. His sermons were about the interconnectivity and interdependence of all life. The commonality of the living, and about the false constructs that people have made to divide themselves, and the folly of such things.

I borrowed this from my local library. There were at least 2 full sets in my local system. I recommend everyone go out and borrow it. Don't forget interlibrary loan as an option. I would like to own this eventually, but I don't know how soon that will be able to happen.

I definitely want to read more on Buddhism now. The title is sort of a joke for me. A recurring sort of joke I make is about how easily moved I am by things I read. Usually this takes the form of my saying that I became a lesbian after reading Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown. You give me a sympathetic or compelling character and I promise you I will identify with them somehow.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mini Comic Reviews, A Fistfull Of SPX - Part 4

I know SPX was a while ago, but I still have things in my bag that I haven't read/commented on yet. I like to mix it up a little and not have all of these right on top of each other, so this may have a few more instalments trickling out over the next month or so.

*Correction* - I do have an update to something I posted previously.
Renee Lott's Festering Romance is scheduled for later next year than I had indicated. According to a comment she made to my previous post:
"the book is set to come out mid-2009, with the tentative debut being at San Diego Comic Con 2009 and a retail release following. I plan to be at SPX next year with the original art for the book"
Even cooler! So everyone knows their mission, right? Buy the book and then go meet the artist and buy some cool original art! Go put it on your calendars now... I'll wait for you.

Skyscrapers of the Midwest #1 - Josh Cotter - I paid more than the 5 dollar cover price for this book. I guess it has been unavailable for a while, but they found a copy of it and were offering it for 10 dollars. I imagine they had a pile of them under the counter and when I walked a way I like to pretend that they pulled another one out and set it on the table. I don't actually believe it, but it would be funny if it were true.

This is put out by adhouse Books. The production is really good. You get cover to cover content (nearly 60 pages) of really good stuff wrapped in a lovely full color cover. It contains a bit of everything. Long stories broken into instalments throughout the book, extremely funny ad and letter column parodies, some shorter pieces as well. I like that format a lot, as it makes for a sort of one person anthology.

The art is fantastic, and the writing is great. The book is filled with robots, anthropomorphic cat-like creatures, toys, bunnies, skull headed creatures. The art is very detailed, and a bit creepy at times, but very expressive as well. There is a sort of sadness that runs through the entire book without it being a sad book. Fantasy and imagination are huge parts of this, and that really comes through. You get a very real sense of childhood in this. There is imagination and shame and loss, but they all come through as filtered with a sort of child's eye view of the world. I am very interested in reading more from this author.

March Hare 8 - Josh Cotter - This is a sketchbook mini-comic. It has an eye catching illustrated and colored cover. This is the first sketchbook I have purchased, I think. I would buy more if it could be guaranteed that they would all be this good. It is what it says it is. The sketches are great, some of the pieces are comics, some are ideas, some are just sketches. It's a really neat small volume.

Four Stories and Stevie might be a bear maybe - John Campbell - I am listing these two together, since my review is the same for both, and the whole point of my posting this will be so that you can go to his blog and his site and read everything and love his work and pay him money for all the joy he has brought to your life. These two comics, as well as X-Ninja are linked to right on his site. You can read them for free and then buy a shirt or something from him. His work is absolutely some of the most consistently funny stuff out there. His exceptionally spare art is as effective as any comic strip art could possibly be. I like his stuff so much that I paid him money for paper copies of things I had read on the Internet, just so i could give him some money as a thank you.

Ninja's in the Breakroom - Leah Riley - The art in this is workable, and the story is funny. I am an IT guy, and this four page take on an unusual IT solution just makes me happy. I recommend their site, the strips are funny and quirky. Also, like so many people I met at SPX, Leah couldn't have been nicer. I look forward to seeing them at SPX next year if they are there.

The Coffee Story and DJWB 1.5: The Bet - Mark McMurray - Both of these comics have a very real vibe about them. They are funny, seemingly 'drawn from life' stories. Both of them have analogues in my life. The art is especially good on 'The Bet'. DJWB apparently stands for Dumb Jersey White Boy, although I didn't figure that out until i was looking at his site in order to link to it for this review. You can read at least a small portion of this story at the link above. These are more the sort of 'make you smile' variety of stories than they are the laugh out loud variety, but they are well done and were a great value for the small amount of change they cost to buy.

Bamn #1 - Troy Jefferey Allen and Jay Payne - This is a wrestling comic. This was probably the shocker of the show for me. This is not my favorite comic of the show. I bought it because I was buying a variety of things, and also because there were almost no black creators represented at SPX and I was determined to support diversity in comics. I had a preconceived notion about the content based on the cover(I was afraid it might be like 'old Image', and maybe on the design of the title character. The interior art is really good, though, and the writing is pretty great.

The very real appreciation and understanding of wrestling that the author has makes this book come across as sincere, and not as a genre book faked by people who have only a topical feel for their subject matter. The story has a jaded professional wrestler named Bamn, ending up aligned with a group of what I would call wrestling geeks. These kids are huge wrestling fans and have their own backyard productions, but aren't exactly the cool popular kids in their school. They are picked on by jocks and Bamn decides to help them. It isn't an earth shattering set up, but it is done right, and with the wrestling setting it works. I would like to read more of this.

This booth had a LOT of people at it, and in addition they had a 'booth babe' I normally hate stuff like that, but it seemed perfectly apropriate for a pro-wrestling themed venture, given the theatrical nature of that world and it's heavy use of 'hotties' to keep it's fans happy. It seemed out of place at SPX, but wouldn't have made anyone blink at any other'mainstream' comic con I have been to.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Comic Book Day

Echo #7 - Terry Moore -  I am really enjoying this comic, but it's 3.50 for 18 pages of black and white comic. So far the story isn't quite moving enough for me to not think about how short each issue seems for being 50 cents more per issue than the majority of 22 page stories I buy each month. I read the first trade, and I guess this is only my second issue getting the floppies, but it really doesn't seem to have moved much in two issues. I am happy with what was there, and I am not sure what I am expecting, but that is a sense I am left with. If it takes charging 3.50 for a relatively short book in order to be able to put out a good creater owned comic from a creator owned publishing effort, then I'm for it. I have to imagine the economics of it are different than they are for a publisher like DC or Marvel to crank something out. My real uncertainty comes from the question of do I get the floppies of something like this, or just wait for the trade. 

Tiny Titans #9 - Baltazar & Franco - It's a monkey issue! and... It is a monkey issue that unlike many monkey related things lately, it really makes sense. Beppo The Super-Monkey gets Zatara's wand and turns the tiny titans into Monkeys (or Chimpanzees, rather). Not only that, but we meet ... The Atom's family!!! It's all fun and funny and you can read it and still feel clean afterward.

Amazing Spider-Man #574 - This is a sort of contrived seeming one-off about Flash Thompson who was injurred while being heroic in combat, and is being considered for a military honor. Regardless of what I said a sentence or two ago, I thought this was a well done story. It also worked really well with the character of Flash. We know how he felt about Spider-Man, and how he was inspired by him, and here we get to see how that inspiration might further manifest itself in dark times, allowing him to not only make it out alive, but to do it with great heroism and selflessness. It's good stuff, and the story about the soldier at the end of the book is nice.

Runaways #3 - Moore and Ramos - I am liking this title with Moore's writing. I am also a big fan of Ramos and think that it is particularly suited for this title.

Daredevil #112 - Brubaker, Lark & Guadiano - I am always late to the party. I really should have been reading Brubaker long before now, and have a lot of back reading i have to do.  I haven't read Daredevil in a long time. Daredevil was always a title in the old days like Batman, where I knew if I picked up an issue I was going to like it. That stopped being the case for me... I can't even recall when, but I am happy to be reading it and enjoying it again.

Cyblade #1 - I'm really surprised I picked this up. I promise you that it wasn't because of the shower scene cover. The art isn't great, but after reading the issue, I am almost intrigued enough to buy another issue. I never read CyberForce, but the setup in this is a pretty decent one.  It has secret agent, mind control, conspiracy action in it

I am Sakaarticus

Planet Hulk - Greg Pak and a big pile of artists - I didn't read Planet Hulk when it was coming out. I read a good bit of World War Hulk, and enjoyed what I read. I have been reading Incredible Hercules since it sprouted up out of that. I am not a fan of big events, but I sort of feel like this was all done pretty well, and the story was a good one that made decent sense, and they really did something with it. 

The big brains in the Super Hero world decide that they have to deal with the Hulk. They get the Hulk to save the world again, and they repay him by sending him to a far off world that is supposedly a lush uninhabited paradise... like that farm that parents always say the family dog was sent to. Hulk actually ends up on a world with an evil emperor and slaves and gladiators and all manner of monsters and disparate creatures that would all be considered unfavorable if they were on earth.

The story that unfolds in this terrific large hardback is epic and heroic. It is the classic Warrior King story with the Hulk in the role of strange gladiator from a faraway land who may be the chosen one who delivers the slaves from bondage, etc. etc. It is seriously the perfect setting for the Hulk to be set loose in. 

My real issue with this is the whole way it is set up to end. The poor long suffering beast is finally put in a setting where he has righted wrongs, fought injustice and won, and gotten the girl, to the great benefit of an entire world. Of course that means that a few pages after he gets to realize happiness, boom, there goes the world, the woman, the unborn child, the masses he united, everything, just boom. I hate that. However, it set up a good reason for him to come to earth with his warbound buddies and kick everyone's butt all over the place, but still... He had been on a planet where his very blood could bring life to the soil.

All told, it is one of the better events (planet Hulk into World War Hulk, although only Planet Hulk is in this volume) This is a terrific story. It is fun and exciting, it's epic. I borrowed this from my public library, but I can see wanting this in my collection some day. Greg Pak has more than proven himself to be a pretty great writer.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Four for free

More goodness from the Prince William County Public Library System.

Plastic Man: On the Lam - Kyle Baker - I have never been a fan of Plastic Man. I have never hated him or anything, but I have mostly chosen to avoid him in life. I wanted to read this one because it, and Kyle Baker who wrote and illustrated it, had received some pretty favorable chatter about it. When I first started reading it I kind of wanted to just stop and declare it a wash. I didn't though, which is good. Once I started to get more invested in it I was less bothered by the things that had been bothering me. It turns out to be a fun and silly romp that is well written, and very well illustrated for the sort of look it was going for. Plastic man can be a very wacky guy. He's kind of like Jim Carrey and Robin Williams and god forbid Carrot Top all melted together and formed into a walking hyper-spastic prop-comic. The story has a murder in it, but is nothing heavier than a goof filled romp nicely worked into a funny plot. I liked it once I got past my issue with it... I am pretty sure that my main issue, even more than getting used to the style of the art, was the lettering and word ballons used. They nearly made the thing inaccessible to me. I'm not sure what I would rather see, but for me they were a barrier. I think I have only made that sort of statement in regard to near illegible writing in a Jim Mahfood comic once.

Amulet: Book One, The Stonekeeper- Kazu Kibuishi: The loss of a father, moving to the middle of nowhere, a mysterious disappearing great-grandfather, a magical amulet, a hidden world, lovable robots and evil creatures with nefarious motives. While perhaps none of those things are new, there is no sense of been there, done that in this beautifully illustrated first book in a series. Regardless of how predictable a lot of the elements seem, I was pleasantly surprised a good number of times, never more than in the end when the house they are in stands up to reaveal itself as a giant brick and mortar transformer that sets out to take our heroes to the nearest city.  This book was sweet and sad and funny. It has action and fantasy in it. The primary hero is a young girl who is tasked with saving a parallel world. She is aided in this endeavor by the robotic creations of her Great-Grandfather, and her video game loving little brother. This is a perfect comic for kids, but in my opinion is a lovely all-ages affair.

Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil - Written and drawn by Jeff Smith - I loved this. I think may be the art is a tiny bit inconsistent, but it is still pretty amazing throughout. This book covers Billy Batson becoming Captain Marvel, and his first encounters with Mr. Mind and Dr. Sivana, as well as meeting his sister Mary and her becoming Mary Marvel. One place that the art is completely consistent is in the beautifully drawn animals and Animal-Men. Talky Tawny is stunning in both tiger form and house cat form.  The story runs pretty much as you would want it too. Billy, even for living on his own in a slum, is a little kid, and acts like one. There is no great heaviness to this, Captain Marvel is fun, just like he should be. This isn't exactly the all out joy-fest that Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam is, but it's a good read for all ages and features a kick butt talking tiger.

Otto's Orange Day - Frank Cammuso & Jay Lynch: This is a TOON BOOK from the Little Lit Library, which is a Division of RAW Junior. That seems like a lot of sub-divisions. I plan to do more reading on the line soon.  The last bit of the 'About Toon' that I linked to has this to say:

TOON Books let readers everywhere know: “COMICS—They’re not just for grown-ups anymore! They’re not even just for Young Adults. Comics are once again for KIDS, even for the youngest… and they’re better than ever!”

I Think that's a pretty important goal, and judging from this title, I would say they are serious about it. Otto's Orange Day is a comic book written for kids. It reads like a kids book, but not one that has just been slapped into the comics medium, one that was written as a comic. I think the medium is used well, and it presents the material in a way, with movement and flow, that making this a straight illustrated book would not convey. Yes, kids comics have been written before, but this line has an actual mission in mind. It takes it's goal seriously and does a good job of it.  The story has Otto the cat(whose favorite color is orange) receiving a gift in the mail from his aunt Sally Lee. It is a lamp with a genie in it. The genie grants him one wish, and Otto uses it to make EVERYTHING in the world orange. The genie only grants one wish per owner, and it doesn't take Otto long to realize that, as great as it is, not all things were meant to be orange. I hope these sort of titles make it in to school libraries, and that teachers use the online resources available to them from the publisher for full effect.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Coraline and Houdini

More from the Prince William County Public Libraries.

Coraline - Adapted & Illustrated by P. Craig Russell, based on the novel by Neil Gaiman.  I have not read the book by Neil Gaiman. I enjoy his novels, I have enjoyed his comics, I imagine I should give this one a read as well. 

This is a graphic novel adaptation of the novel by the same name. The art is fantastic and creepy. This book has an extremely creepy vibe that isn't always easy to convey in comics. It is the sort of story that I love. It's a children's story where the child protagonist gets ahead and ultimately comes out on top based on their goodness and inteligence, and with the help of others they meet along their journey.

Coraline is a bored young girl living in a place where no-one seems able to get her name right, with parents that just don't seem to have enough time for her, and conditions that aren't exactly what she would have if she could choose for herself. Things change for her when she goes through a doorway that has been bricked up and despite that fact usually remains locked. She enters a world where others live. They approximate the people she knows, but are twisted versions of them. 

When she returns to her own side of the door she finds her parents missing, which necessitates a trip back to the other side. Her 'Other Mother' wants to keep her there, but with the help of a black cat that moves between the two worlds, and the spirits of three children trapped there by the other mother, she will get her freedom back, and that of her parents as well.

This was a pretty quick read, and a great story. If your child isn't easily freaked out, I would say it is a perfect story to read together.

Houdini, The Handcuff King - Jason Lutes and Nick Bertozzi - This is a children's book of a graphic novel about a very specific instance in the life and carreer of Harry Houdini. The art works well for the subject matter and the place and time. The story takes place in 1908 in a very short time span between when Houdini takes a practice jump into the charles river, and when he later does an actual handcuff and shackles escape jumping off the Harvard bridge into the Charles. It seems to highlight his skill at self promotion, his ego and his love for and partnership with his wife Bess. 

The book is put out by the Center for Cartoon Studies. The introduction by Glen David Gold is worth reading, and the 'panel discussions' at the end of the book are just brilliant. The story is a short and sweet one, but with the extra materials that are provided, a parent or teacher could use this material to cover a wide variety of issues and lessons and starting points for discussions with kids. I like this format much better than if it was just presented as an illustrated story book on the same topic.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Comic Book Day (10/15/2008)

I made up for the rash of lame weeks by picking up a few extra things this week.

The Loners: The Secret Lives of Super Heroes -  I like the set-up, which is a sort of 12 step program for people trying to get over being super heroes. It certainly would be like an addiction I imagine, which is not exactly a new theme in comics these days, but it's done pretty well here.

I bought Zombies Calling by Faith Erin Hicks, but I reviewed that in my previous post, so I won't rehash it here. It's good though... So go buy it.

Scalped v3 tpb - This series continues to be pure gold for me. It is gritty and really reads like the best sort of crime/action movie. The art is great and goes well with the grittiness of the plot and the writing. There is humanity in it as well as sort of social politics in a way, and plenty of actual action and surprises that move the story along at a quick pace. The story is about Dashiel BadHorse who returns to the reservation after time in the army and in jail to act as a cop on the reservation while also being an agent for the FBI. It's a great read. 

Atomic Robo, Dogs of War #3 - Excellent series, great art, great writing, fun... who could ask for anything more?

Justice Society of America #19 - I am still reading this because it serves as a sequel to Kingdom Come. It sure is taking a long time, but that doesn't really bother me. I am enjoying it. It has the feel of a mega event, but it only really takes place in one comic so it doesn't annoy me. It's an interesting idea, and as long as it doesn't totally stall, I will stick with it for a while longer.

Astonishing X-Men #27- Like all X-Men titles eventually do... This is sort of disappointing me. It just reads like any other X-Men title now. I like Ellis just fine, but it doesn't have any of the spark that Whedon's run had. I also am not loving the overly dark Bianchi art in this. It's great art, but it isn't doing it for me. I may soon drop this title. It isn't that it sucks... it just isn't what I want.

Amazing Spider-Man #573 - In Case you were wondering... I am still loving this title. The New Ways to Die arc finishes here, and we may not have made a TON of forward progress, but a bunch of cool stuff happened in it, regardless. I also am happy that I am enjoying a Spider-Man title again. One More Day was stupid and unnecessary, but at least they are putting out a good comic now... which they could have done without the stupid reset.

Mercy Sparks #1 - This is written by Josh Blaylock, who wrote Penguin Bros (which was for a younger crowd sort of, but was pretty great). This series is about Mercy, who is like a demon or a devil or something... who is basically contracted by heaven to go out and round up Angels that have gone rogue. So far it looks good. Apparently Angels like clubs and raves and things A LOT. The art is ok, but not mind blowing. It works and doesn't get in the way or anything. I may not buy another issue... but who knows. I picked this up because I had been intrigued by it in previews.

NYX - No Way Home #3 - I keep picking this up, even though... It doesn't do a lot for me. I really may just be buying it because the covers are pretty beautiful, and the interior art appeals to me. The story isn't bad or anything, it is just secondary to those other things, and may be a little slow? I'm not sure. I think I will keep getting this and reread the whole thing again when it's complete.

Zombies Calling

I guess if I expect to do reviews that people want to read, I am doing it wrong. I do reviews on things I buy or borrow from the library. I buy and borrow things that appeal to me. I like to like things, I enjoy... um... enjoying things. I don't like insulting people, I don't like slamming things outright. I can, I will if it seems to be merited, but those things aren't enjoyable for me. I think the model, though, is that I am supposed to cuss a lot and name call and make big giant mean spirited generalizations. I reserve the right to do that, I guess, but it isn't what I ever WANT to do.

That being said, here is what I think about Faith Erin Hicks' Zombies Calling

Zombies Calling is The story of three friends who wind up in the middle of a real life zombie attack at their university. The main character Joss is an extreme anglophile and something of a zombie film scholar, in addition to being the only one of her group that has to carry the burden of financing her own education. Joss has boiled zombie movies down to a series of rules, reminiscent of the discussions in Scream about the sort of rules of horror movies in general. These are more specific to Zombies, and cover some different ground. When the attack happens, she realizes that not only are the rules real, but they are the key to her friends making it through the attack alive.

Follow that link and look at her site. The art in this book is fantastic. I think I have Jim Rugg on the brain, because I think I have a tendancy to say that all art that I love looks sort of like his. I bet there are others I could compare it to, but I mean it as a compliment big time, so I don't need to change a word. I'm not sure it actually does look that similar to Rugg's work, I think it is just that Joss reminds me of Street Angel to some degree. 

This 104 page volume is black and white on the inside, with beautiful full color art for the cover and back, which is just lovely. As much as I love the story itself, I equally adore the 'making of' pages, just as she herself professes to love those sorts of things. I am a fan of any other value-added materials that get put into comics. I like scripts, sketches, seeing the pencils, character sketches, guest artist pinups, etc.

This is really good stuff, it's only 9.95, and I am excited to read her upcoming 'The War at Ellsmere" due out at the end of December as well. 

Friday, October 17, 2008

Buddha - Osamu Tezuka

This is another great find from my local library. I have never read anything by Tezuka before, although I have heard of him referenced as the father of Anime, and one of the early innovators of Manga who really shaped the medium into what we know it as today. He is responsible for Astro Boy, Kimba the white lion, The anime Metropolis, and tons more.

Buddha is a series of 8 books, all of them over 300 pages. It is the Story of Siddhartha on his journey to enlightenment. I have only finished the first two volumes so far, but they are the sort of compelling page turners that make you want to see what happens next at the expense of sleep or work or social interaction. I was surprised by how accessible the books are. I shouldn't have been, but as I said, this is my first Osamu Tezuka.

The great thing about this is that it is written to be enjoyed. The language is loose and funny, often making anachronistic references to things that just didn't exist in the time frame of the series. Television, cola, professional wrestling, and many more things make the trip back in time for this. The art is cartoonish and expressive, but mixed into that are beautiful sweeping detailed landscapes and nature scenes.

The writing and the scope of this are every bit as epic and literary as you might expect any several thousand page fictional account of the life of Siddhartha to be.   There are a ton of characters in this, and we see a lot of them. The books will focus on characters at one point in time, and eventually they will show up later, often in unexpected situations, many years from the last time we saw them. The themes throughout are of humanity and oneness and man's place in the world and sort of universal things that tie us together with each other, and also with nature around us. 

Based on the strength of the first two volumes alone, I fully recommend this for anyone who enjoys good stories and good writing. There is a great deal more depth there, but it all starts with a good story, doesn't it. Tezuka's art and his mastery of the form are brilliantly on display here. I recommend that everyone get out to their local library and see if they have this in their collection... If not, find out why they don't and encourage them to get it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mini Comic Reviews, A Fistfull Of SPX - Part 3

Here are the links for Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

Leon's Retreat - Falynn Koch : Another very cool small comic sold to me by a creator who was just lovely and a delight to buy from. Even better than that is the fact that in addition to having a cool cover with a sort of extra outer piece that was for decoration but added to the feel and the theme of the book, it's an extremely cute and fun story (so far). The cover and outer cover art is fantastic, but the art inside the book is even better. It is quality kid's book caliber illustration, and the premise is excellent and fun. It is about a man that inherited his father's campgrounds, which was frequented by hunters in the fall, but now is closed to humans in the fall so that the bears have a retreat to go to. It's brilliant. In Fact, don't take my word for it, here it is in her LJ

Festering Romance (Preview) - Renee Lott: This is a 14 or so page preview of a title that is being released in early 2009 through ONI Press. Renee Lott was giving these out at her table and was successful in distributing all she had, despite not being thrilled with the location they had. It is very much 'manga-styled' and is well done even in the rough pencil preview form that it is. It is about a woman who has a ghost for a roommate, although that seems to be just an incidental thing, and not what the focus is. Chapter 1 certainly reads well enough and is illustrated well enough to make me want to buy the book (plus I love to support people who make a good impression on me in person, and I adored meeting Renee... So... Good marketing idea! Again, you show people good stuff for free and they may want to pay you money for more.

The Fierce Operations #1 - Tyran Eades: This is a sort of old school image style team comic.  It is created, written and drawn by one person, and is one of the few 'Super Hero style' comics that I saw at SPX.  The art is really inconsistent, and the writing needs more editing for just small errors. This reads like an ad for the series. It is all intro, done with lots and lots of narrative. I am not crazy about this title, but that wouldn't stop me from picking up something in the future to see if it gets any better after the intros are out of the way.

A2 alien - (ett and tva) - aavrooman: These are really mini minicomics. They have blue cardstock covers and 4 single panels, one per page. If you follow the link you can see them. They are cute and kind of sweet. Not much happens in them, but they are cute, and mini and endearing.  The creator and the two other people at her table were the first people I talked to once i got past the Top Shelf table. They were all very nice.

1980 - 1985 - Robert Harvey: This is less of a standard comic, and more of an illustrated travelogue or memoir of a significant event in the authors life. It talks about his introduction to cricket in detail. It's interesting and well written. The art isn't great, but it is pretty good and has personality and works. He was at the table I mentioned in the previous review.

Layover - Liz Baillie: I think I may have already referred to something this way, but I am going to call this the perfect mini comic.  It was one dollar. It is seven very full small pages of art and story with a single page introduction that gives us a little background before we start. It is an account of the author's trip to attend her brother's wedding as part of the wedding party. This comic was drawn during layovers to and from the wedding. It is personal and funny and real and touching and indentifiable by any who have spent time in airports just waiting. It starts with a bit of an apology for the art, but I think that is misplaced self consciousness. Seriously, the art is perfect for the format and content.

I Will Feast On Your Whore Heart and Myrtle Willoughby - MK Reed : These two collections are like writing exercises, only they are brilliantly done single panel comics. I Will Feast On Your Whore Heart is a collection of one hundred cartoons based on one hundred different themes. Myrtle Willooughby is the first fifty cartoons of an even more ambitious two hundred theme project. There is a feeling of cohesiveness, without a sense that you need to see any other panel in order to enjoy any given panel. I enjoyed these a lot, and would love to see more of her work. The good news for you is that you can go to her site that I linked to and read them for yourselves, and then buy them when you see her in person. It's really good stuff.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A fistfull of SPX part 2 Mini Comic reviews

Part one of this series is here .

These aren't really all mini comics, but they are all small press offerings, and the majority of what I picked up would be considered minis.

Warrior Twenty-Seven - On The Fly Publications: This is an anthology/zine. I purchased the 05/06 and 08 issues. Each issue contains comics (mostly short pieces of just a few pages), an interview, some short fiction, etc. It is a nice mix. I am personally not crazy about it, but it shows effort and vision. Some of the stories are better than others. The art ranges from fairly poor to really good. There is no single functioning web site for this or I would post it. The 05 issue has a really beautiful cover and they gave me a nice poster of it. These are comic sized books and reasonably priced for what they are. The earliest issue was done throughComiXpress, and the others through Ka-Blam.

Toupydoops - Kevin McShane - Lobrau Productions: I saw this at the show and was a bit skeptical. I'm not sure why, but let me tell you, Being given a free issue helps take the skepticism away. I did not actually purchase anything from them at the show, but I did bring the comic home and I read it, and I was happily surprised by how good it was. The art is clean and professional, the writing is extremely funny. I am now seriously interested in buying the 15 dollar trade that collects the first five issues of the comic, so I think it was a successful marketing tactic. The website up there has a sizable free preview as well, so I recommend you go and see if it's to your liking. I think this is an example of how to do things right. If you let people see your product and give them enough to get invested in it, I think it goes a long way toward getting their business. I hope the tactic works for them.

Herman Shepherd In Gitmo Goofs - High Treason Comix: This is a small pink six page comic stapled with a sort of two page manifesto at the end of it about Bill Hicks and counter-culture and sounding like what people who have never held a job think revolutionaries sound like. Maybe it's an Andy Kaufman style high concept gag. Maybe it isn't. I put the link to the referenced web site up there, but there isn't really any content. The comic itself isn't bad. It isn't my thing, it's a bit heavy handed, but not bad as far as satire goes.

Microbes! A Life Cycle - Leah Riley and Will Woods: This is a cute as heck 8 page mini with a blue card stock cover that features microbes on it that look sort of like pac-man with teeth. It's fun and cute and deals with what microbes' role in nature is... sort of. If I recall, this was another table with folks who couldn't have been nicer. Also from the same folks, I got(see next review)

10 Things To Do With A Fake Mustache - Leah Riley and Will Woods . : This is exactly what it claims to be, and has the gimmick of actually having a fake mustache on the cover. It's very cute, and there were several styles available at the time.

Knee Deep Showcase Volume 1 - David Brennan & Joe Flood: I met Joe Flood and chatted with him briefly. I had to ask him where I saw the story in this comic before. When he said Popgun Volume 2 it made sense to me. This mini contains an extended version of the story Bird On A Wire that was in Popgun. I think he said that originally it was going to be in multiple pieces in the anthology, but ended up not being. What a great guy. He was just the nicest, and his art is amazing. I love this volume, and if you go to his site and find the picture of frankenstein's monster and the girl with a guitar, you will see the cover of this comic. It is an amazing picture on it's own. The story and the characters are just great, and the art is spectacular, the color is just brilliant as well. I hope to buy more of his work sometime.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

News Flash! - Garth Ennis can write... and water is wet.

I mentioned previously that I recently purchased the first three hardcover volumes of The Punisher (MAX) at my local used bookstore for about 45 dollars. I had not read a punisher comic intentionally since the first mini series when I was in high school. 

Garth Ennis is one of a handfull of writers who I assume is going to give me a good book to read, and I have trouble passing up a good buy on relatively cheap, beautiful hardcover. I understood the basics of the character and I had a pretty good idea what to expect going into reading the books. I have read a number of Ennis's works before, I was aware of the MAX line being a mature imprint. I expected gritty and violent with lots of  crime and lots of punishing. I say these things, just to separate comics that you go into knowing what you, as an adult, reading a comic geared toward adults, can expect and accept, versus comics that surprise you with overly violent and cruel takes on characters that you do NOT expect to see in such a light, nestled inside of titles that you don't expect to showcase such things.

The Punisher is spectacularly violent, gritty, and bloody. There is an understanding between the book and it's readers. The blood and vengeance and it's unblinking execution are really just the setting in this title. Once you start reading it, you are drawn right into the world in which the Punishers actions almost seem like the most honest and sensible things going on in the world that is portrayed there. He has a very rigid set of rules that he lives within, and within which he metes out not Judgement, not justice, but punishment. He punishes... It's in his name you know. 

The books are more than violence, though. That would get almost immediately tired. The stories that are told have many varied and real characters moving about inside them, and the Punisher is like a force of nature. He's the self appointed grim reaper for bad people that do bad things and make the world unsafe for the good people who need someone like him out there if they are to have even a remote chance of happily living out their lives. The supporting characters, and the plots that run through the various story arcs, and don't go away just because a new arc has started really make this the best sort of book. 

To me, this reads like a series of excellent 'thinking person's action movies' First Blood mixed with Unforgiven, mixed with some really good crime dramas I can't think of right now.  The art is just perfect throughout the entire run I read. It works well with the stories and doesn't get in the way.  I am now faced with a strong urge to read more. Once I started reading, I really was driven to keep going until I ran out of story. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A fistfull of SPX part 1 Mini Comic reviews

I have a bag of cool stuff that I bought at SPX. I am having a difficult time getting to it in order to do a post about all of the cool stuff I got at SPX and relate little bits of other thoughts and such about the experience there. I have decided to just blindly reach into the bag and remove a bit of the loot and read it and then write about it.

X-Ninja - John Campbell - I bought a few things from John Campbell. It was neat getting to meet him as I enjoy his work online. I figured I should buy things from him since he hasn't made any money from me laughing at his stuff on the internet.  His work is extremely funny, and the art is absolutely perfect for what he does. It is just a step or so up from stick figures but it is clean, consistant and conveys what it needs to to make everything work. The humor is dry, funny with a twist.  It can make you laugh and sigh at the same time, but mostly laugh. His webcomic is here.

Mobile Fridge - Renee Lot. I really enjoyed meeting her. She was very nice, and gave me a free button. Her web site is here. Mobile Fridge is really an awesome collection. It's like a single person variety show. It has strips and gag panels as well as slightly longer stories. The art is varied and excellent. You wouldn't guess that all of the contents were drawn by the same person. I will say that my favorite piece in the book is 'The Snack That Talks Like A Man' It is more or less about a fridge full of happy smiling food just asking (literally) to be eaten. This may be my favorite find of the show.

Sing Along Forever - A love letter to The Bouncing Souls - Liz Baillie.  This is an autobiographical comic about finding that one song, that one band that speaks to you and reaches you in a way that nothing prior to it ever has before, and then making a quest later in life to document that fact and meet the band and memorialize just what it meant to you as a way of saying thank you to them. It's really well done. The art works perfectly for the book. Is it the greatest art ever? No. Is it fitting that it has a raw and personal feel to it? You betcha. The art doesn't get in the way, and is better than average in my opinion.  I asked Liz to do a little sketch in my copy when she signed it, and she seemed a bit self conscious about having to do it on the spot like that, but it was great and I love it. I am anxious to read her other book 'My Brain Hurts' which is in my bag of loot, but didn't make it out in thes handfull. 

Spectral-Biology - Macarthur.  This is a small volume from MACARTHUR from No Lemon Press. There were three guys at the No Lemon Press table and I bought something from each I believe. This is a small volume with a cool cover that features lots of skulls. The art is trippy but good. I am not sure I fully understand this, but I liked the art and the cover a lot, and have picked it up and read back through it several times. The folks at No Lemon Press were fun to chat with and seemed nice. Yes, I like to support people who seem fun and nice.

Track Rabbit #3 - Geoff Vasile. One of the funniest exchanges of my whole time at SPX was with Geoff Vassile. It started out with him quoting Star Trek, and Me and the guy next to him pointing out that it was a Peter Pan reference, and ended with him doing a sketch of himself as a vulcan on the copy of Track Rabbit that I bought from him. He was definitely fun to meet.  Track Rabbit #3 is really good. He's no Jaime Hernandez, but his work made me think of him. It is very good black and white, in a style that is reminiscent of Love & Rockets to me. The story itself was well written. I hope to get more of his work at some point.

Girl Ninja: Book 1 - Rebecca Simms.  - I am not completely in love with the art on this, but I will say that it is consistent, and that there is a good bit of skill shown in the layout and the visual storytelling, etc. It is also very funny. I don't fully love what comes across as sort of broken english, but I don't think it is there as anything but a reference to the style of thing this is a sort of spoof of. Spoof is probably the wrong word, but this is a genuinely funny book that could be enjoyed by a pretty wide age range. It might appeal even more to the young female manga crowd, as it speaks in that language.  This is fun. I expect that my daughters will enjoy this as much as I did.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

You Sir, are no library.

I went to the used bookstore yesterday, as I often do on Mondays. My daughter takes violin lessons, and there is a used bookstore next to the music store. Normally I can get away without too much trouble, but sometimes things are dangled in front of me that I just can't pass up. I guess I could have passed it up, except for my whole crazy addiction to buying stuff. (not really an addiction, I am just weak willed and love buying things as much as I love having things.

I have never been a fan of the Punisher. What this means is that when the Punisher first arrived on the scene he just wasn't my bag. Because of that, I have always been able to avoid buying Punisher titles. I am a fan of Garth Ennis, but I came to that sort of reluctantly as well. I have a natural inclination to like things that are nice and fun and not overly acidic or dark or heavy, or whatever. There are a lot of things that I did not read when they first came out for that reason. Once I got sufficiently older and started having friends recommend things to me, I rediscovered a lot of things I had avoided initially, including Preacher. So these days, I am a fan, and I can handle almost anything if it is written well and makes sense. I have enjoyed the Ennis I have read.

Yesterday the bookstore had the Punisher(MAX) v1, v2, v3 hardcovers for 15 dollars each in perfect condition. Yes they are available new on Amazon for about twenty bucks each, but fifteen and available right now is even better. They also had trade paperbacks of The Punisher: Born, Daredevil: Marked for Death, and The Elektra Saga. I had to pick up the Two Daredevil books because they cover runs that I have always been nostalgic about. I have the floppies from when they came out, but I am happy to have the trades to keep on the shelf and read.

I read Punisher: Born, and really enjoyed it. That was my first introduction to Garth Ennis's Punisher. I know it is different from the main series, but it was very well written. It was dark like Platoon or Full Metal Jacket, but well written and an enjoyable enough read for me. War comics are not a genre I have ever really read before. I am hoping the series is good as well. All told, I spent less than 70 bucks and got 3 decent trades and 3 big hardbacks.

I kind of love having hardbacks, but I will almost never buy them. There are a few titles that merit my having them in hardback. Batman Year One is the main one. If I can get them for the price of a trade, or close to it, then I will pick up the hardcover. It makes me feel fancy...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Prince of Libraries

My latest trip to the library was every bit as fruitful as the one prior to that. I really do believe that anyone who enjoys comics on any level should get out to their local library and see what they have. Support their efforts by borrowing the books they are so generously making available. 

There are two good library branches within 15 minutes of my house, as well as a mini library and a much smaller branch that seems to get a pretty incredible mix of newer titles than the others (This could be a post about finding cd's at the library, as I used to go to three branches in one trip just to browse music, but it applies to comics as well.

There is a well written love letter to libraries as a comic book resource at I Love Rob Liefeld  

I encourage everyone who blogs about comics to read that and make a similar post about the variety of comic related materials available at their own local libraries (mine should be in the next week or so) It might also be a good thing to revisit next year when National Library Week rolls around again.

Speaking of blogs that have done things better than I do.  Every Day Is Like Wednesday has a wonderfully thorough review of the Prince of Persia graphic novel  . Within a few days of having read that review, I went to the library and found that graphic novel already on the shelf and waiting for me.

I will not attempt to cover the ground that is so completely covered in the linked review, but I will say that I loved it. The art is amazing and the story is gripping and enjoyable, and very evocative of the tradition of Arabian Nights. I highly recommend that everyone see if they can read it for free from their public library. If you do that, you may very well want to buy it for yourself as I now plan to.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Popgun Bullets: Popgun Volume Two - Part Five, The final countdown

I have decided to do some stretches, crack my knuckles and just muscle my way through the last installment of my quest to have an opinion on every bit of Popgun volume 2. If you are just joining me, here are parts one , two, three and four.
  • 'Reverberation(Doubt)' - Jamie S. Rich & Joelle Jones. This piece creates a real sense of uncertainty and confusion. The art is good, and it is well written. It also feels complete, which is nice. It leaves things unresolved in a way, but the story, the focus of the piece has a complete feel to it. It's the sweetest little comic about VD testing in the whole anthology.
  • Deadeye: Live Fast, Die Young, Be A Good Looking Corpse - Leah Moore & John Reppion - I love the art in this one. Hover cars and cyborg-type replacement parts. The story is told beautifully through the art. There's not a great deal to it, but it's decent.
  • Friggit The Frog - Gary Fields - One Page gag, not bad, not mind blowing. The character reactions are cute.
  • Wolf and Bug - Nick Thornborrow - This reads like a creepy sort of Aesop's Fable, or maybe closer to an Uncle Remus, Bre'er Rabbit sort of story. The art is distinctive and cute, the story is funny and a little creepy as I said.
  • Wide Awake: Behind The Wall Of Sleep - Brandon Jerwin, Eric S. Trautmann & David Messina - I liked this. It is a bit heavy handed, or overwrought, or something to that effect, but the art is good, the piece is interresting, and pretty well done. I like the style and design of it as much as anything, and the premise is decent if not 100 percent new.
  • Jersey Gods: Rock God - Glen Brunswick & Dan McDaid - This does very little for me, but it isn't bad. It is a one page gag more or less.
  • Yonchi - Richard Meyer, Carlos Silva & Alan Robinson - I liked this. Good art, funny idea, and well executed. In places it's pretty brilliant.
  • Sleepless - Alexei Conman & Ronald Salas - This is a single page piece and it isn't a gag or a strip. It is actually pretty well done. It's sort of like a poem, or a piece from a movie.
  • 42nd and Lex - Dan Goldman - I don't get this, but that could just be me. I don't love the style, and it doesn't speak to me on any level really.
  • Bacon Mummy vs Gorilla Mayor - Erik Larsen - It's a picture of the forementioned characters... It works on exactly that level.
  • Never Again:Until Next Time - Michel Fiffe - The art is decent. This doesn't speak to me. Not really sure I get it, but again, that may be a shortcoming of mine.
  • Don't miss the awesome picture on page 467 by Joe Flood, that features a Frankenstein Monster on Tambourine. It's awesome, and I met him today at SPX and bought a mini comic with that picture as it's cover, and that expands upon the 'bird on a wire' piece that I spoke of earlier in this anthology.
And there you have it. Good stuff, all in all, but a bit of a chore to comment on every bit of it. I am glad I did though, and will probably keep this as a thing I do.

Popgun Bullets: Popgun Volume Two - Part Four, The Fourth Hundred Pages.

Ok, I am going to try and tie up loose ends before I move on to the myriad other things I want to cover. I sit here now with Popgun v.2 at my side, ready to jump right back into my grand endeavor of reading and commenting on the entire freaking anthology. If you are just joining me, here are parts one , two and three.

  • Soulless, Man Without A Soul - DJ Kirkbride and Anjin Anhut. - The art is good, and the story is less of a story than a seeming intro to something else. It's good, but I don't see it as complete. It is a lot like the bit of a movie prior to the title coming up, or a trailer maybe. Good stuff, but I want more of it. I am not sure that I want an anthology filled with things that feel like ads for other things. Don't get me wrong, I like it a lot, just sayin'...
  • I can't say that I get 'In The Belly Of The Beast' by Jasen Lex. - I think the art is interesting, but not really my thing. It could grow on me if the writing meant something to me, which it doesn't.
  • Everybody's Hero - Erik Martinez and Ken Knudtsen - Art, or crap? I honestly am undecided on this. I sincerely either love the art in this, or I hate it. The strange part is that I don't know how to determine which it is. It is either very artistic or kind of lazy. I would probably benefit from seeing more of the artists work. There are parts that I am taken with, but otherwise I don't know.
  • Diamond Of Khadai - Lars Brown - I loved this. It is nicely drawn and colored, and there is a scene where the conflict is resolved by throwing kittens. The funniest part is how it seems to take place in the present, but the protagonists have armor and go on a quest. I enjoyed this a good bit.
  • Dream Time - Ralph Nieze - Pretty strange, but I mostly really like the art, until the very end. I like the parallell of the people from two different worlds dreaming of/longing for each other. Very short piece.
  • Lady In Space - Ancor Gil & Gisela Marraro - Very nice wordless piece. Boy meets girl encased in asteroid, Girl becomes giant monster. It's a love story. The art is great, and the story telling is solid.
  • The Story Of Evolution - Tim Hamilton - Nicely done and very funny wordless 3 page bit.
  • Boffo Yock's Joe's Jokebook - Funny and absurd.
  • Kill Audio, Time to Face The Music - Claudio Sanchez & Sheldon Vella - This didn't do much of anything for me. I don't get it, it doesn't click, or whatever. I don't really care for the art either.
  • Ogre And The Elves - Ryan O'Hara & Rod Laiz - 'I guess we ain't gonna learn a lesson 'bout life today' - This is a great piece start to finish. It's cute and funny and well done.
  • The Clockwork People - Yann Krehl & Christian Nauck - The art in this is very good. The character design is cool, as is the premise. I really like this story and would love to see more stuff in this setting with these characters. I haven't looked into it yet, but I plan to.
I am going to stop there. That puts us on page 407. If I don't get to the rest of it tonight, I will do it tomorrow so I can start going through all the goodies I got at SPX. We're in the home stretch now, only 11 more pieces and less than 70 pages to go.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Good As Lily

I went to the library today and returned the giant pile of books I had out, and left with a new giant pile of books. I picked up some really good stuff, including this book.

Good As Lily is another Minx title. It's written by Derek Kim with art by Jesse Hamm. At first I was a little put off by the art. That was my first reaction, and I am not sure exactly what about it was off-putting to me, but the feeling didn't last very long. I can't say it is my favorite style, but especially when it comes to certain characters in the story, it's perfect. I went to Jesse Hamm's web site to see if i could find other examples of his art, and his site shows a variety of pieces in a variety of styles, and all very well done.  This helps, as I believe it was a conscious style choice to draw it the way it was. The bottom line here is that although at first I wasn't sure i would like it based on the art, once I started reading it grew on me immediately and worked well.

The story is a little bit reminiscent of the Disney movie 'The Kid' where Bruce Willis finds himself taking care of himself as a little boy.  Grace, the main character, is a Korean-American girl who lost her older sister Lily when she was 8 and Grace was 6.  On Grace's 18th birthday she ends up running into three other versions of herself from different points in her life.  She finds herself housing herself as a younger child, as a twenty-nine year old, and as a very old lady. Each of them needs somethng resolved, and each of them stays with her until they are able to see resolution of their specfic issues.

This all plays out in what I assume is her senior year of High-School where she is surrounded by a cast of characters and a school play that may not get to happen unless drastic action is taken. This is a well done story. It made me cry... Don't you dare judge me! I had something in my eye, I swear... Ok, It made me cry fair and square, but I am a sort of sap and easy to tear up.  I recommend this title, and will probably buy a copy of it (and PLAIN Janes) next time I have cash in my pocket.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Make Your Own Happiness Day

Comic Book Day was a bust this week, or almost was as I posted previously. I had nothing in my box at my LCS so I did what I usually do and combed the shelves for some things I could pick up and still stay within twenty bucks and not have to go home sad. So here is what I did to make it a happier day.

I dropped two titles - Hulk and Skaar: Son of Hulk. I just am not really enjoying the Red Hulk thing. I don't have a lot of negatives to throw around, but So far it has just been a lot of Let's beat up all the tough guys with the new red Hulk. There may be more to it than this, but it isn't really playing my tune.

Skaar: Son of Hulk is actually pretty good. The writing is decent, the art is good, but it isn't really my cup of tea in the long run. If it goes on for a while, maybe I will catch up in trades later on, but for right now, I would rather free up a little room to try some other titles.

What other titles? Why Red 5 Comics' Neozoic for one. I was reading the new Atomic Robo... and saw in the back that back issues of Neozoic were still available, so I have asked for them. I guess I could have gone the trade route, assuming one will be out, but I like floppies too, so this will be fun. I also asked that they put me down for Ed Brubaker's upcoming Incognito mini that is starting in December under Marvel's Icons line.

Sadly, the new release shelves held nothing that I needed except for Previews, which I like, but doesn't fill my need for comics. I finally decided on the first issue of the new Vixen mini. I based this purchase on the love of Vixen I developed from her appearances in the Justice League Unlimited cartoon. I also liked the cover and was taken by some of the interior art. The art is a bit inconsistent, but I like it a lot. The artist is Cafu, and it sort of reminds me of Frank Quitely's art in All-Star Superman... almost. When it is good, it is great. There is a sequence where she is in a beautiful long blue dress fighting several men on motorcycles that I think is just beautiful and perfect. The writing isn't bad and I am anxious to see what issue two brings. I may not get the whole five issue series, but I will pick up the second one for certain.

The final piece of the equation to redeem the day is my purchase of Janes in Love, which I commented on earlier here. It's good stuff. If anyone has anything that made their comic book day better than mine I would love to hear it.

Janes in Love

Today was a miserable comic book day for me, so I decided to make my own happiness. In addition to Previews, and the first issue of the new Vixen Mini, I decided to pick up Janes in Love by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg. I recently talked about the Plain Janes in another post. Unlike that volume, which I borrowed from the library, I actually paid for this one with my own money and get to keep it without having to pay fines.

It was a quick read, but a good one, and certainly worth the 10 bucks I paid for it. These are good comics. Not 'Good comics for girls' or 'good comics if you are a young adult', but good comics that are also apropriate for a young adult audience and that look at the world from a young female perspective. I guess every few posts I have to say that I love Jim Rugg. He's a great artist and seems like a nice guy from the two shows I have encountered him at. I consider anyone who can stand in front of me while I am babbling on and be nice about it to be a nice guy.

We get the same characters from the first book moved forward just a bit in time to around early March. There are some tensions regarding boys, or the lack of boys, some stress about the continuing activities of P.L.A.I.N. and a bit of a sad parallel plot piece about Main Jane's Mom not leaving the house after an old friend of hers is killed in an anthrax attack. Jane hears back from the man in Poland whose life she saved, and whose sketch book she had held onto in the last book. He is a poet, and he is a friend to her from a distance. He also provides her with an idea that she uses to further the scope of P.L.A.I.N.'s mission.

During this book, feelings are hurt, Jane's are arrested, people stand up for the cause and relationships blossom while others are re-defined or re-affirmed. It's good stuff, I recommend that you buy it. It's too late for us to save Minx, but it's not too late to enjoy a good read.


I hope to be able to go to SPX on Saturday. I'm planning on it, especially since I should just be able to metro to it. We'll see how it goes. Hopefully I will be able to say hi to some of the folks whose blogs I read regularly.