Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Monkey vs Robot x2

My last trip to the library was like striking gold. Two more books I picked up while I was there are James Kochalka's Monkey vs Robot and Monkey vs Robot and the Crystal of Power. Prior to writing this I went to his website for American Elf. It's a really cute strip. Like Monkey vs Robot, American Elf isn't written for children. Kochalka is also the Author of Johnny Boo, which is geared toward kids, and his seemingly simple style would be at home in a children's title, just as it would in a newspaper comics section. I say seemingly, because his art is pretty great, and on closer scrutiny isn't all that simple in the first place.

American Elf is something I will go back and read now, and have some commentary on in the future, but for right now, it's all about the Monkeys (and Robots). This book is mostly free of dialog, and completely free of written narrative. It is overflowing with sound effects however. The second book has more talking in it, and the monkeys have picked up some english by that point, but most of the actual words come from the Robots in both books. Each book is done entirely in one color. The first is green, and the second is purple. The art is extremely good. I don't know at what point in my life I became enlightened and started appreciating the wide range of art in comics. There was a time when I was so put off by art in comics that was anything other than 100% mainstream that, for instance I stopped reading New Mutants when Bill Sienkiewicz made everyone all tall and skinny and strange looking.

These books chronicle some of the struggles between two very different groups existing in the same jungle. This is violent stuff. They seem cute, but there is plenty of crushing and breaking and burning and destruction. Are these books making a point of some sort? They sure could be. I think the reader can pick the struggle they want it to embody, such as nature vs technology, and have it mean what they want it to, or they can just read it as an account, and enjoy it either way. 

These are exceptionally quick reads, but I have found myself going frequently back through both of them and focusing on a lot of the pages individually.There are a lot of patterns and a lot of design in the pages. Panels with rain and mist in them are some of my favorites. I enjoyed both books, but the first is my favorite. 

Monday, September 29, 2008

Minx - Twofer 2... Two-ferther

This is another Minx post from me, but not yet THAT Minx post from me. That post will come soon, but not yet. This is the post where I talk about the two Minx books I just borrowed from the library and read. These were both even better than the other two I read.

The Plain Janes - Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg. I am a big Jim Rugg fan, and have wanted to read this since it came out.  I was not familiar with Cecil Castellucci prior to this, but will check out her other stuff based on the strength of this one. I am a big fan of Teen Movies. I can't help it, it's my secret shame, or would be if I was actually ashamed of it. 10 things I hate about you, Can't hardly wait, etc. etc. etc. I generally like them. I thought this book read like what a good teen movie should be, and a bit more.

This story has pretty great depth without seeming deep or coming across heavy handed. It's about friendship and finding your place and free expression and art and the desire to be a part of something bigger and the need to be true to yourself, and the sense of helplessness we can feel in post '9-11' America. The fun part to me is how The main character Jane (MainJane) arrives at her new school and snubs the pretty and popular table to sit with the 'rejects' that she sees as her tribe. She isn't immediately embraced by them either, and at no point in the story does she betray them or act in a way that is untrue to her self.

The Re-Gifters - Mike Carey, Sonny Liew and Marc Hempel
I love the art in this book, and the story even moreso. This story is a bit simpler than Plain Janes, but that doesn't make it shallow. It's a pretty standard sort of story with some unexpected bits and some nice twists in it. It is a believable and understandable story. That's not to say that it is fully realistic, but it's... real.

The nice thing about this story is that the main character is a Korean girl, and while we get a good feeling for that in her narration and references to culture and such, the cast of this story is wildly diverse, and none of it feels forced or fake. It is a story about a kid in LA, post-Rodney King riots, but still feeling the repercussions of that event to some degree. Those things just flow naturally around the story, and again, as the story is well written, it only adds to the total piece, making it feel like it is a real place and time with real people in it.

Both of these books are excellent and I recommend them to anyone who likes things that are nice and anyone who likes well written and well drawn comics. I made my 14 year old daughter at least try to read these books, as well as the two I had previously talked about, and she mostly read them, and liked them. I say mostly, because I think she skimmed parts of them. We talked about the books and the imprint going under as well as her tastes in comics and fiction and what mattered and didn't to her.  Some of that, however, will have to wait until I post THAT post about Minx.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Identity Crisis

One item in the giant pile of comics I borrowed from the library last time I was there is the Brad Meltzer, Rags Morales Identity Crisis. I remember when this came out originally, and I didn't pay any attention to it. The only thing I recall from that time was that Marvel did that Identity Disk thing seemingly just to create name confusion, and that Identity Crisis was regarded better than the other one.

There are a number of things in this book that I knew about already, but did not realize that this was the storyline where it happened. This is the storyline in which Sue Dibney is raped (via flashbacks). This is the storyline where she is killed and then burned and then shown horribly burned in the comic. This is the storyline where the Zatanna Mind-wipe technique is brought out. This is the story with Captain Boomerang's son appearing and taking the mantle and showing the super-speed.

I like the premise of this storyline. I like the thought behind the effects of the various awful things on the heroes and their families, as well as a lot of the issues that are brought up. It raises a number of questions that are pretty good ones to raise. It is also a bit excessive and grisly. I don't love the excessiveness. I don't love the tendency to kill and maim heroes and loved ones every time you need a plot starter. I think this could have been done and presented a little differently and still have been good and gotten it's point across.

That being said... I thought the story was pretty well done. I thought the rainbow of narrative boxes was a bit heavy handed and sometimes confusing for a minute or two while reading. The art is solid. The Joss Whedon Introduction is sort of light and throw-away, but the whole volume is a pretty good read. There are a number of plot points, there are a lot of characters that go under the microscope here, and it is interesting and worth talking about.

I never liked the elongated man. I never paid any attention to him at all really. He was one of those eighth tier characters I wasn't even sure why he existed. I think I missed out on something in being so dismissive. This sets up the major problem I have with this series and the stuff done in 52, etc. I hate it when underutilized characters are spotlighted and developed and built up so that we care about them so that they can be torn down and destroyed and have us care that it happened. I never realized how present Sue Dibney had been in Ralph's career. I didn't know that they were a constant stable happy couple that worked as a team. That's great stuff. I hate that... Wait, we have a happily married couple in our stable? let's rape murder and burn the wife, then tear down and destroy the husband... (high fives all around). That doesn't EVER HAVE TO HAPPEN. The whole story could have hinged upon something horrible that wasn't quite so horrible as that. Final doesn't mean a lot in comics. Companies and readers are always interested in seeing something else, and all that big impact that your story had when it came out loses it's meaning and ends up just seeming distasteful.

I think this is a problem that crops up in the medium a lot, and has for a while. It isn't by any means unique to DC, although they do it a lot. I think this storyline contributes a lot to the ongoing discussion of comics. I thought it was good, but can't say I fully 'enjoyed it'

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Comic Book Day x2

I missed Comic Book Day last week. I picked up my stuff, but I didn't write about it. I am now faced with a backlog. I will try to make this even quicker and less useful than normal.

The Age of The Sentry #1 - I hate the Sentry. I sort of hate everything about everything about him. HOWEVER. This was pretty cute. It is funny but still a bit reverential to golden age comics.

All Star Superman #12 - Funny, Fun and more. Well written and endearing stories, an over-arcing storyline, good stuff and now it's done. Comics can be like this. Any Comic with All-star in the name should be expected to be this good.

Amazing Spider-Man #572 - ba dot dot dot daa... I'm lovin it.

The Incredible Hercules #121 - This is my favorite Suydam cover of all time. This title is a romp and I am still enjoying it a lot.

Greatest Hits #1 - British Superheroes done like a Beatles documentary. It's not bad, but I am not sure if I will get any more issues. I might just check back in when it is a trade.

Atomic Robo, Dogs of War #2 - Good writing, great art, amazing color! good stuff!

Tiny Titans #8 - More good stuff. Cutest thing ever, and fun. Highlights are Pink Beetle and lots of super pets. Tiny Barda makes a cameo and is cute as heck.

Billy Batson and the Magic of SHAZAM #2 - How awesome is Mike Kunkel? Pretty awesome I'd say. This book is another all ages that is better than most other books out there (so far anyway.) It is a book geared toward kids, but without pandering. It is also really dense. A lot is crammed into each issue. Good stuff!

Kick Drum Comix #1 - I am uncertain of my feelings on Jim Mahfood's work in general, or his genre, or... something. I want to like it less than I do. I loved grrl scouts, though. I really like the stories in this issue as well. I am not sure I love the oversized format, but I think I got 6 bucks of enjoyment out of it. The art and the attitude are different from other stuff I get, and I like to mix things up and make sure that I put a variety of styles in front of my face. I don't like the hard to read lettering, but I enjoyed the first story and really was impressed by the second one. (Coltrane's Reed)

Hulk #6 - This comic is just ok I guess, but may not even be ok. I no longer really care about the payoff. There is a lot of hulk style baby talk, and some jumping to earth from the moon and all, but even that may not keep this on my pull list.

Runaways #2 - Enjoying so far. I thought this issue was better than the first. I like Moore's writing and LOVE Ramos's art.

All Star Batman #10 - Remember what I said up above about All Star Superman... Well this title does not meet that standard. Frank Miller Wrote Year One and the Dark Knight books. Year one is the best Batman ever. The Dark Knight is the best future Batman. All Star Batman... Just isn't up to those standards. Despite a crazy amount of blacked out cussing, this issue is better than most have been, by at least a bit. I thought the cussing segment was a bit like trying to watch the censored version of Kat Williams on comedy central last night. I still haven't cancelled this.

Madame Xanadu #4 - Still liking this. Still loving the art.

Skaar One Shot - Accidentally bought this. I will read it soon.

Ambush Bug #3 - Funny stuff. I am still enjoying this.

Daredevil #111 - Lady Bullseye part 1 - I may start getting Daredevil for at least a while. I have loved DD in the past, and picking up this issue makes me think that maybe I waited longer than I should have to start getting it again.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Comics in the moving pictures

Within the past several months I have wached several things based on comic books. I want to briefly cover them here, and if anyone has any thoughts on them, please chime in as always.

Wanted - I read Mark Millar's 'Wanted' and liked it, but didn't love just how ugly it was. I commented on this before, and will only partially cover here. I thought the negativity was overdone and I thought it was heavy handed in unnecessary ways. Yes, I think it IS possible to have lots of gun play and even lots of killing without having everything just feel ugly and overwrought.

I thought the movie was pretty brilliant. It took some core themes, twisted them around perhaps a lot, and made a movie that was many times more enjoyable than the comic book. They kept some of the 'big twist' mechanics in place and created whole levels that didn't exist at all in the original. I would say the movie is more than a few steps removed from being 'based on the title of a Mark Millar comic' but it isn't an adaptation of that book either. It is a different thing, and I thought it worked really well (I went in thinking I would love the book and hate the movie).

Amazing Screw-On Head - This is a perfect comic made into a perfect pilot for a tv series based on a comic which I assume will never be made. The voice acting is great, the script is hilarious. The whole thing builds upon the basic idea of the comic and changes just enough stuff to make it go from being a one-shot to being something that shows even more potential for as a show. There were ideas and effects that were fleshed out on screen in ways that couldn't have been done as effectively in print, such as a portrait of lincoln that uses the old style digital mechanism to make his mouth appear to move when he is communicating with Mr. Head. The extra bits about his butlers adds depth, and the lost love interest works, It is just awesome. The art is the same as the comic, the tone is the same, but a greater potential is shown. I nearly cried when I realized that all I would be able to see was one 22 minute episode. It has been shown on Sci-Fi network, and I know it is available through netflix as well. You really should see it.

Death Note (Live Action) - I probably won't review a lot of manga related stuff here, but that is not because I have anything inherently against comic books that are called manga or anything. Death Note happens to be a series that I have read the bulk of the manga(but not all of it) and really liked. It's good twisted stuff with a lot of out-thinking and out-foxing going on in it. My favorite character is Ryuk the Shinigami, and he is my favorite in the manga as well as the film. The premise is that there is a notebook out there that belongs to a death god(shinigami) if a person touches it they can see the shinigami whose book it is. If they write a persons name in the book while having their image in their mind, that person will die. The notebook is found by a genius kid who is a bit bored with life and finds a way to really put excitement back into the world while exploring his inner megalomaniac. The live action movie is basically a 'part one' , part two is supposed to be making it's way here to the states sometime after October of this year. It picks a good place to end, and although unresolved, could be enjoyed without seeing the second part.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Reading Watchmen again

I bought the original run of Watchmen as it was coming out. I don't think I missed any issues of it. My best friend and I were both getting it, and both loved it. A year or so ago I picked up a copy of the trade for a very reasonable price at a used book store, but I had never gone back and re-read the whole thing.

I just finished reading the Watchmen again. This time, I read every word. This time I understood things I didn't understand before. This time it was about fifty times better than the first time. The world doesn't need me to tell it that Watchmen is a brilliantly written, genre defining masterpiece... But it IS, and I am. Consider yourself told, World.

What was difficult about it that my 18 year old self had trouble with? Why is it better now than it was then? I guess there are a couple reasons for both of those, and one is certainly maturity and a broader worldview that comes with it, but another would have to be a greater ability to focus, or perhaps more patience. I don't know for certain, but I do know that it still wasn't an easy read, even as an older guy. I say this a lot about comics that throw in giant blocks of text along with the pictures and little word balloons. Any comic that does this has to earn my respect by proving it is better off with the text added. Watchmen certainly is. There is nothing in the volume that doesn't add value or give a better understanding of the personalities and backstory and overall setting that makes the whole thing work. I am pretty sure that on my first read through over twenty years ago I skipped a good bit of the prose.

Another piece that made it hard for me was the comic within the comic. I am pretty sure I skipped a lot of the pages centered around the newsstand and the boy reading the pirate comic because I got overwhelmed by trying to follow two things at one. I have a bit of ADD in me, especially when I was younger, and focusing like that seemed hard for whatever reason. I found the best way to read it this time was to separate the two parts and read all of the Black Freighter on the page and then go back and re-read the page for the dialog, etc.  I missed an awful lot by having skipped those things. Even this time I had to think about it to fully appreciate why we should care about all of those disparate parts.

I have a more profound respect for this comic now. It's art and writing both are just perfect in my opinion. I have been thinking about the idea of a movie, and have been flip flopping a good bit. Yes I want to see action figures and such. Yes I want to see very cool live action photos of characters. No, I am not sure how it will be made into a film that won't suck. I watched the trailer again, and I think that it could probably be done. It may be possible to make it decent. I have thought about how parts of it might translate to the pacing of a film, and worried over the guts of it being messed with too much and it's spirit and message being lost. I think that ultimately it may be best to never have it be a movie, but I doubt that's an option, lawsuit or no.

That's all I've got for right now, but feel free to give your opinions. I have a few other thoughts that will go into another post, but that's another post.

Friday, September 12, 2008

MINX - a two-fer

I read my first two minx titles tonight. You know me, I like everything. I have been wanting to read these things since the imprint started, but I haven't ever found myself without something else I wanted more. My most recent trip to the library yielded two books from the line, Blabbermouth and Clubbing.

Clubbing is the story of a London goth who makes a fake ID and gets picked up by the police, and subsequently sent to live with her grandparents way out in the country. The story is weird, but not without some nice elements. I am generally in love with Josh Howards art. This book is no real exception, and it pretty much looks decent start to finish, but doesn't knock my socks off.

The story is ok,  but seems a bit hurried.  It also has a plot twist that sort of makes me long for the movie Hot Fuzz. Sadly, I don't think it does quite enough of any of the things it touches on, and our female lead isn't particularly endearing, while not really edgy enough or strong enough to pull off the main character role.  Over all, I think it's just ok.

Blabbermouth is another story set in England (with a vacation to the US in the middle of it). The story is credited to Mike Carey and his daughter Louise. I am a fan of his work on Lucifer, and I have not read the Re-Gifters, his other book for minx. It is fantastically illustrated by Aaron Alexovich.

We get characters with flaws, but none of whom are irredeemable(well not our main cast at least). It's a little bit like an after school special, but not annoyingly so. It is actually a bit like parts of several after school specials rolled into one, but not quite. Ultimately, girl empowerment and standing up for yourself and your friends are showcased and things end up much better than how they started.

The thing I don't love about these books is the Vanity Fair quote that they both carry which proclaims 'You don't have to be a comic book geek to dig... MINX' I just hate that sort of thing. 

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Josh Blaylock's Penguin Bros

Penguin Bros -  Josh Blaylock ($10.95, Devil's Due Digest)
I went to the library today and got a nice little haul of things I wasn't real familiar with. The first one I chose to read was this one.

Penguin Bros is cute and fun and funny. The art is decent. The digest format is a little small for all the text that is crammed onto some of the pages. The stories are filled with music movie and comic book references. There is a group of ska loving Penguins living in antarctica. They get super powers and do heroic things as well as day dreaming in school and going to concerts at night.

There is a bunch of editorializing in the form of a tiny penguin holding up signs at various points, and the whole thing works just fine.  I am not sure how young an audience could actually be and still get most of the references and things, but it could be enjoyed even without that. It is very wordy though, so the 12+ suggested age is probably reasonable, although there is no content inapropriate for younger kids.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Comic Book Day

Today was a light comic book day for me. My only pull was Amazing Spider-Man, and it was good, so that's a good thing. Unfortunately I am incapable of just buying one book, so I scrounged around for more and then bought an extremely reduced price trade of Generation X. I kind of hate Generation X, I hate the characters, I hate the art, the whole works. In fairness, I don't know how much of it I have read, and being a fair guy, I am up for trying something at half price and at least giving it a chance to redeem itself.

The Trade is The Origin of Generation X. It will get its own post when I am done.

Amazing Spider-Man #571 - I am enjoying the heck out of this right now. I guess I will need to come up with new ways of saying that, since it comes out so frequently. It's good stuff. I like anti-venom almost as much as I have disliked regular venom in the past. The Thunderbolts have been fun in this, and Bullseye has been a favorite of mine when done right since way back when.

Big Hero 6 #1 - This is not without it's issues I guess, but I enjoyed it. I didn't read the original Sunfire & Big Hero 6 back in the 1990's . This is sort of tongue in cheek but fun. It has a bit of that goofy manga vibe in a good way. Four dollars got me a 22 page story I enjoyed well enough, and 'official guide' style entries for the main characters and some extra goodies. I am not sure if I will keep getting it, but I enjoyed it enough to justify having gotten it.

NYX: No Way Home #2 - I may stick with this.I LOVE the covers, but that would be a weak reason for buying a mini series I think. The story is growing on me, and the art is decent. There are a lot of what I consider to be well designed panels if nothing else.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Popgun Bullets: Popgun Volume Two - Part Three, The Third Hundred Pages

Here we are at the third batch of micro reviews of the contents of Popgun v2. If you haven't already read them, here are parts one and two. It feels like I've had my hands in this thing's guts forever and am only just now passing the halfway point. As you'll see, I like an awful lot of it, but trying to take this thing all at once would make anyone walk funny for a while(so to speak).

We resume our reviews with Sucky Sucky on Page 207 by Jonathan David Hanh and Vu Hill.

  • Sucky sucky was great. Vampire babies!
  • Out of focus is another great piece. It is a terrific little surprise ending affair and is well done with a distinctive art style. Good Job Connor Willumsen
  • Billy Dogma in Sex Planet by Dean Haspiel is ok. The art is cool, it seems pretty funny to me, but it loses me a little somewhere.
  • Leaf and Augustus by Ulises Farinas is great. I really like the art. I like the near wordless storytelling method. For something that starts out looking like it might go good with Owly, it gets a little dark and bloody, but it's a nicely done piece.
  • I really like Paul Maybury's Prey On You. Again, it's the art that does it for me. I really like the art on this. The story is cute, but the art and cleverness carry it.
  • Mr. Universe is sort of like an extended Calvin and Hobbes bit. It's ok, but I don't love it. That is not to say that isn't well done.
  • Another Boffo Yocko one pager. Bacon Mummy!
  • 2 copper pieces isn't really my thing. It's a bit overly slick for me, but the writing is ok. It's pretty funny, and would make a terrific piece in the back of Dragon Magazine or some such.
  • Bird on a Wire by David Brennan and Joe Flood is decent. I like the art and the characters and the action, but it doesn't feel like enough to me. I would read more with these folks in it, but I would like more to it.
  • Bloom by Paul Conrad was pretty decent. I like the art and the character. There's a cute little twist at the end, but this is again, more of snapshot than a real story in my opinion.
  • Little Known Fact is an extremely cute 2 page piece by Benito Cereno and Paul Mabury. It's cute, did I mention cute?
  • I didn't want to like Bastard Road, but it has grown on me. It's funny stuff with a very distinctive style.
  • King And No King just left me shrugging. There's nothing awful about it I guess, but there's not much to it . It's 4 pages and is mostly about climbing stairs then falling to your death, and it's dedicated to Mike Wieringo. The art is Ryan Ottley, so it's pretty great art. It looks good, but I just don't think it does much.
That puts us at page 302. I promise there will only be another one or two of these to go. If you bought Popgun v2, or have an opinion about any of the stories or any of my little comments, let me know! Change my mind on something, I love different perspectives!

Monday, September 8, 2008

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

I will pick up here from what I started in this post. I am just going with bullet points, but I am covering Popgun cover to cover. We reume our effort here with Loner on page 101.

  • I am just shy of liking Loner by Tim Daniel and Ming Doyle. This is another sort of anthology thing that isn't really a story. It's another thing that feels like a snippet, a vignette I guess. I like the setup, but there could be more, couldn't there?
  • I like Promontory by Matty Field and Chuck Knigge. The art is good, there's a story there. It's introduced and wrapped up nicely and you have a feeling for what went on and a sense of completion as far as the story is concerned.
  • I love Brandon Graham's art and writing. Sputz is cute and funny.
  • I didn't care for Grant Alter and Ronald Salas's 'The Wager'. I think they could have done better. It was a bit lazy and tired in my opinion.
  • I like the fake ad for the 'institute of the dying arts' It's not brilliant but there is certainly some funny in there
  • I kind of love 'Scummy' by Marley Zarcone. I love the art, and the story and dialog are great. It isn't exactly anything new, but there is a nice combination of good stuff that makes it better than average. I would love to see more work by her.
  • I love Hexbreakers, Inc. (Freelance) by the Atomic Robo team of Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener. It is perfect in every way to me, including the fact that it seems like an ad for continuing stories . I would buy it as a series, but according to Scott Wegener's blog, it may only ever be short stories, which would still be cool.
  • I thought The New Job was funny. Not the biggest fan of the art, but that is just personal preference. Bigfoots love s'mores... FACT.
  • Amo Jamon by Gabriel Bautista is awesome. It's an animal comic. The art is great, the dialog and story are really good.
  • Boffo Yocks Lotta Malarkey - Erik Larsen There are several funny pages bits by Larsen throughout the book. They are pretty funny for what they are.
  • Survival of the festive is pretty hilarious. Never heard of Sheldon Vella, but this was funny and the art was good and apropriate for the story.
  • Val Nunez's Dr. Bears PHDs is a cute one pager.
  • I liked 'Nixon's the One' It's a short fictionalized account of a late night trip around town that Nixon made in May of 1970. It's the second appearance of Nixon in this volume.
  • Stopping here at the end of the second hundred pages of Popgun v2

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Popgun Bullets: Popgun Volume Two - Part One, The first Hundred Pages.

Popgun volume 2, edited by Joe Keatinge and Mark Andrew Smith ($29.99, Image)

This is the second volume of the self proclaimed 'Graphic Mix Tape'. It's a nice chunky 472 page volume. It's glossy and pretty and contains a good deal of stuff I enjoyed a lot. I have a number of names of artists I hadn't heard of who I will definitely seek out more by. There was a decent amount of really good material. There were a good variety of styles represented.

In a minute I will go through the whole shebang in bullet format with brief comments. I didn't love this 30 dollars worth. for thirty bucks I could have gotten two good trades of continuous stories by artists and writers I would probably have enjoyed more than this volume as a whole. I recently bought two Patrick the Wolf Boy Collections for 15 dollars each, and not only did I love every bit of them, but I can give them to my 14 year old daughter and my 9 year old daughter, and I can pretty much assure you that they will love them as well. I am not condemning the anthology in any way, but it does tie in to something we all probably think about from time to time, and that is how you apply relative value to the comics you buy in order to maximize your whole comic buying experience. I'm not made of money, I tend to be made of credit, and some day that will bite me in the butt. I buy Popgun because several people whose material I respect and whose careers I want to follow and support to some degree have material in it (any other enjoyment I get is a bonus!). If it comes out too regularly I may not be able to keep up. I will certainly need to keep buying it from Amazon if I do keep getting it (19.99 vs 29.99)

  • Love the Paul Pope cover
  • Love the Dan Hipp front pages
  • Like the Joy Ang illustration of the girl flying on a cloud
  • indifferent to Derek Yu's very nicely illustrated Manjuu story thing. It's like a field guide entry on a sort of mandrake root kinda thing. I liked the art and the thing was fine but didn't do much for me otherwise.
  • Loved 'Red' by Yeray Gil Hernandez. Love the art, the story was neat, and the extreme take on little red riding hood was clever, even though we may some day become immune to clever takes.
  • Liked Frank Espinozas The Belukha a lot. The art was cool and the story was fun and well done.
  • Almost loved Anthony Go Wu's Kid Revolver. I loved the art, and thought the fight scenes were exceptionally dynamic and cool. It also contains a handgun so large it could have almost come from Frank Miller's Elektra Assassin... almost. There were just a few things about it that left me short of loving it. Another day maybe...
  • Liked James Kochalka's Glorkian Warrior. I like his work, and this is exactly what living inside an old side scroller video game would be like.
  • Liked Sanz Pantz: All you can eat beatdown a lot. Sometimes we all get sushi madness... it's as simple as that.
  • indifferent on Post Zero Hour. It is drawn fine, the action plays out like the final showdown between the hero and the primary villain in a lot of action movies. It's like a bite sized morsel of decent action movie, but it's only a bite and not a complete thing.
  • I loved She Came From Venus, the Rugg and Maruca Afrodesiac story. This is where Nixon first appears in the anthology. It's a good story, it's funny, it's Afrodesiac, and I am in love with the blue alien now.
  • Liked I'll Buy Freedom a lot. It features the Aardvark Brothers by Grant Bond, and is very well done. It is a 'Funny Animal' comic, and has bi-plane on tri-plane action.
  • I can't say I understand Barnaby Ward's The Forest. I like the art a lot. For some reason I feel like this could be used as a jeans commercial like the Levi's I walk the line commercials. I don't know what I am supposed to get from this, but it's pretty.
  • I will stop there for now. I will add more in another post

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Comic Book Day (observed)

I have a bit of a backlog right now of things I have read and need to give some lip service to. I will continue working through them, but as you can see, it is Saturday and I am getting to Thursday.

Here is what I picked up in brief. I will either tone down the volume of my purchases, or I think I will be blogging on comics from a box in an alley(after I blog about my Wife dumping me for my inability to stop spending money I don't have)

Savage Dragon #137, Erik Larson ($2.99, Image)
I have never gotten into Savage Dragon. That is not to say that I wouldn't like it if I read it, but it happens to be one of the things I just haven't really read enough to have much of an opinion on. I picked this one up because both Madman AND The Amazing Joy Buzzards are featured on the cover and promised to be inside! and they are! I haven't been reading this title, so I don't know how this issue compares to any others, but the whole thing seemed... blurry to me. Other than it being blurry, and my not caring too much for the coloring of all things, I enjoyed the book. It has guest stars I love, it has a lot of humor and a quick pace, and Savage Dragon Explicitly endorses Barack Obama in it.  I am not suggesting that every comic needs to have a presidential endorsement in it, but it makes sense that some would. If characters exist in the world, they can be affected by events and have opinions.

Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #1 (& #2), Terry Moore and Craig Rousseau ($2.99, Marvel)
I like this so far. It is sort of sweet. It has a nice young teen/tween vibe to it. The characters come across as fairly realistic while still being nice and sweet. Moore's writing on this is decent. I really like Rousseau's art. I am a big Perhapanaut's fan, and I think his style works great for a book like this. His teens are teen looking and I like all of them except for Peter. I am not a fan of the manga haired Peter Parker. Other than that, good stuff, we'll keep getting this. (this is also a title that my daughters read).

Kick-Ass #4, Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. ($2.99, Icon)
I liked this a little bit at the beginning, and I don't really like it at all now. I don't think I will get anymore issues. JRJR's art is good, and I really like the style of it, but I don't like anything else about it. I have started souring to Millar, and I can't fully pin it down. I will certainly expand upon that when I figure it out, but for now I will be happier without the rest of this movie ad.

Fringe #1 of 6, Zach Whedon, Julia Cho and Tom Mandrake ($2.99, WildStorm)
Speaking of ads... I bought this pretty much solely because I am excited about the show that will be coming on soon. I have no idea how this may or may not relate to the show, but they at least got me to buy one issue. The art is decent. The story is a bit of a twilight zone affair, and reads fine. I am interested enough to want to see the next issue at least.

Marvel Apes #1, Karl Kesel and Ramon Bachs ($3.99, Marvel)
This is not really my cup of tea. It's not badly done, but it isn't something I had even wanted to buy until I was faced with it. I read it, the art was fine, I thought the writing was better than expected, but the 'heroes as apes' thing does little for me. 

Secret Six #1, Gail Simone and Nicola Scott ($2.99, DC)
"She's gonna kill us all..." "Not me, I brought the ice cream" That is a bit of dialog between CatMan and DeadShot. I really liked parts of this. Other parts got my interest, but there are a few things in here that I am not sure I will love.  I am prepared to get another few issues and see how it develops. The entire storyline with Catman and DeadShot is a fun read. If it can keep that feel throughout, then I will enjoy reading it.

Amazing Spider-Man #570, Dan Slott and John Romita Jr.
Still enjoying this. I like the way things are going, and really liked how the two Venoms only stopped beating each other up when Spider-Man was nearby, and then they would break long enough to fling him out of the area so they could keep going. It was pretty funny.

Patrick The Wolf Boy - Giant Size Collection Volumes 1&2 and 3&4, Baltazar and Aureliana ($15, BlindWolf)
Tiny Titans started me on my current Art Baltazar kick. The recent Ninjatown comic intensified that, and I have finally picked up Patrick the Wolf Boy. It's awesome. When he isn't trying to eat Squirrels and hamsters, he is conspiring with them, or giving inappropriate gifts to his teacher, building snowmen, taking bites out of things, or generally being adorable. I loved these start to finish. They were fun and cute, and there is nothing wrong with either of those things.

Love & Rockets: New Stories No. 1, Hernandez Brothers ($14.99, Fantagraphics)
Ok, I haven't read this yet. I will need a bit of extra time to read all of the stories, and once I have done that I will post it's own review.

Zot! 1987-1991: The Complete Black And White Collection

Zot! - The Complete Black And White Collection, Scott McCloud (Harper) $24.95

If you ever wondered why you might want to care what Scott McCloud had to say about Understanding, Reinventing, and Making Comics, this collection will help clear things up for you.  At 24.95 (even less through Amazon) There is no reason not to pick up this book and get to feel smart about a purchase.

I am having trouble writing about this book. I have written and re-written several reviews of it already. I am having some trouble pinning down exactly what I want to say and how I want to say it. I think I will go with bullet points or I will end up jumping off of something before I actually get this done.

  • Getting this book does NOT get you all the Zot! you'll ever need. There was a 10 issue color run that is not included in this. There are also some issues that McCloud didn't do. The absence of those issues doesn't diminish anything.
  • McCloud's commentary at the end of each story arc is worth the price of the book. You get insight and a really enjoyable autobiography of an artist and his creative and personal journey with comics as a central theme.
  • Zot looks like it is a superhero comic, but really it's about its characters, one of whom happens to be a superhero in his home dimension. 
  • The travel between dimensions and the differences in the dimensions, the allure of a utopia to escape to, etc. are more the point than super-heroics. 
  • The last 9 stories take place in the ordinary world. Each focuses primarily on a different character. These stories are pretty beautiful. The are lovely snapshots of ordinary people.
  • McCloud seems overly critical of himself and his work in a lot of places. I didn't really see what he was talking about in most of the cases. I understand what he is saying, I just don't see much of it as anything that needs to be apologised for.
  • I wish I had read this in its original run. I graduated High School in 1987 and this would have been perfect for me at that time. The characters are very real kids, skewing toward the geeky side, just like my friends and I did.
  • I don't love every single bit of every single story, but I don't think I would change anything.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Best Web Browser Related Comic Ever

I am certain everyone has seen this already.  Scott McCloud,  Creator of numerous comic books on comic book craft and philosophy as well as the extremely awesome (and long overlooked by me) series Zot!, has put out this gem regarding the Google Chrome browser.

There is no sarcasm intended there, it is a gem, and I think he proves his own point in the execution of this project. It is lovely, and really gets it's information across in a slick and enjoyable format. It wasn't a fast or easy read for me. I had to actually work through the thirty some pages. This is a pretty technical look at the workings of and the processes and plans behind a ground up (open source) browser project from a major player.

In his books he talks about how comics can convey things that other media can't, or communicate and connect in ways that are on equal footing at least with the formats you would expect to see those things in. There is humor here, there are people and personalities, and there are vast amounts of graphic data on the ideas behind the project.  I liked it better than watching something, as I could put it down and pick it up, reread, mull over, etc. I also liked it infinitely better than trying to slog through straight technical data. Good Job Scott (and others who worked on this.) Nicely done, Smartly done and likable.

On an irrelevant note... I am using Chrome now, and I like it. I already use a lot of google related things, and the browser seems certainly worth giving a go if you like to do that sort of thing. I do, and now I use IE, Firefox, and Chrome.  I have to use IE because I do Netflix and to watch movies and things online you have to use IE with the rights management components that it has. I have a lot of things in Firefox, and Chrome is a curiosity to me, so... three browsers it is.