Thursday, April 30, 2009

Comic Book Day (04/29/2009)

Ultimate Wolverine VS Hulk #5 was the only pull for me this week. I was happily able to pull a few other things together in addition to that, but there were a number of titles I thought I would pick up off the shelf, but I wasn't able to get to my LCS early enough to get them I guess. I sure wish I lived in a fantasy world where there was a comic shop that could remain viable and still have a huge variety on the wall.

Ultimate Wolverine VS Hulk #5 - I loved this issue. This comic is really loose. It's filled with humor and although it is telling a story that isn't really a comedy, it doesn't take itself too seriously, and isn't so smarmy as to annoy me. Scratch that, this is a comedy. I'm not sure what i was thinking a minute ago. Wolverine is a pop culture smorgasbord with Goonies and MacGuyver references. Yu's art continues to be terriffic, there is a lot of great stuff done with the page layouts, and even the giant panda looks great.

Dark Avengers #4 - One thing that's happening now as a result of this series, is that I am absolutely loving Moonstone now. She comes across really well in this. I like the contrast of characters in this. You really get a feel that each of the members has their own distinct motivation in what they are doing, and some of them are predictably dark, but others come across as genuinely heroic at least it seems that way to me.

Mysterius The Unfathomable #1 - I have a feeling this was ordered for me, and got shelved instead of being put in my box. Fortunately for me, no-one had snagged it. My LCS is good about getting what you ask for, but their system consists solely on index cards, and possibly in people's heads, so it isn't perfect. I already had issue #2, as I previously posted. Issue #1 is just as great as I assumed it would be. between this and Agents of Atlas, Parker just continues to wow me.

I also picked up Previews and Wizard. I know you are all too cool to read Wizard, but um... I'm the opposite of cool. They have a 100 best graphic novels of the wizard era... thing I agree with a bunch of it, and given the timeframe, I think I understand why certain books aren't included. My problem is that I don't recall when things came out. I will probably post about this stuff later in more detail.

Monday, April 27, 2009

My Marvel Year (4/27/2009)

Here's what I have been reading lately on Marvel Digital Comics & a little lip service on the experience.

  • Beyond #1-4 - Dwayne McDuffie, Scott Kolins -You need to note right away that this mini series is longer than four issues. It actually runs six issues, but only four are online. I still think there is a conspiracy to make you have to buy everything, rather than to allow you to finish things online, even though it's a pay service... (I like to say that, but I may not really believe it). This isn't a bad series so far, for being one that uses a 'beyonder' premise. I have a certain nostalgia for the contest of champions, secret wars style stories that throw a bunch of different folks together. This one does it, and you get Gravity and Firebrand and Medusa... Deathlok shows up, so does Dragon Man and Space Phantom, among others. It really isn't bad, and manages to be a bit of fun. I wish the rest was online.
  • Ghost Rider #1-6 - Garth Ennis, Stan Lee, Clayton Crain - This comic is one I balked at a long time ago because I thought it was the type of comic that needs to have an angel force a child to poke his eye out with a pencil to show how edgy it was. I still think that part of the first issue is unnecessary and cheapens the thing, but upon reading the entire six issue mini, I pretty much love the thing now (minus that scene) It is funny and cool, it is over the top in a way that a Marvel Knights Ghost Rider title maybe should be, and the art justifies everything. Every scene with demons or fire or indeed Ghost Rider himself is the best one ever done. Every Ghost Rider panel should be a giant poster on the walls and ceilings of my dream office. I don't love the art when it is not being used to show fire and Ghost Rider, etc. Regular figures and scenes done in the style really aren't my favorite things, but holy crap can Clayton Crain draw/paint? the most awesome spirit of vengeance on the most awesome chopper with flaming wheels (yes, the flaming wheels are the most awesome.) His art captures everything I ever thought was cool about that character, in a way that no-one else has.
  • New Avengers #37 - 44 - This run has the breakup of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones in it. It also has the scenes where the Skrulls are testing out clones of Mr. Fantastic in what seem like realistic scenarios. There is some pretty great stuff in these. My favorite bit in everything I read of this is when Spider-Man is convinced that Ka-Zar and Shanna are Skrulls and keeps calling her Sheena. I laughed a lot.
  • She Hulk - I read some issues of She Hulk from around the time she slept with Hercules. I didn't note the specific issues I read, but I haven't read any modern She Hulk, and I kind of enjoyed what I read. I will need to make an effort to read more stuff, hopefully that predates civil war and secret invasion, etc.
Marvel Digital Comics - My issue this time is that it seems to forget that I am logged in more than seems reasonable. I have to log back in a good bit. It also has semi-annoying popup adds that tell you where to find the print version of what you are reading, and sometimes they sort of stay in the way. Otherwise, no real issues

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Comic Book Day (04/22/2009)

Just a couple things this week, and one used book store purchase on Monday.

Amazing Spider-Man #592 - I have canceled this title. I like it, but I had to make way for some other things I am more excited about at the moment. I enjoyed the run of it I read though. I thought some bits of this title since One More Day were pretty perfect, and others were average. I am sure I will still pick up Spider-Man from time to time. Hopefully when I do there will be even more Aunt May sex... because... presumably... you... or I... asked for it?

Detective Comics #853 - Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader 2 of 2 - I really liked this. The cool thing about DC more so than Marvel is that there is a real mythology feel to their main stable of iconic characters. That really is true in my opinion. The nice thing about this comic is that it captures who and what Batman is. It's sort of like... Batman with a thousand faces... He exists in every mind in a slightly different form, not just willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, but MAKING the ultimate sacrifice over and over again, in a constant cycle of death and rebirth.

Incredible Hercules #128 - Seriously... How many times can you read me going on and on about how much I love this title. Pak & Van Lente certainly know how to write comics that I will love and go crazy for. In this issue, whatever else happened, I took away this... Hercules throws Sentry around like a rag doll, AND PUNCHES HIM WITH VENOM. Venom is eating Herc's hand and Herc punches Sentry with him. It makes me happy. I honestly believe that every comic should have a scene like that. Tiny Titans, Blankets, Uncle Scrooge... all of them.

Kick-Ass #6 - Of all the comics I have read this year featuring covers of little girls covered in blood, this is probably my favorite. This comic is exactly what it looks like. It pretends to be nothing else, and advertises itself for what it is. I am liking this a good bit. The developments in this issue have worked to get me more interested than I was, and it ends on a good cliff-hanger. This comic isn't for everyone, and doesn't really need to be.

The DC Comics Guide to COLORING and LETTERING Comics - Had this not been 10 bucks at my local used bookstore, I probably wouldn't have picked it up. It is written by Mark Chiarello and Todd Klein. It isn't a super heavy volume or anything, but I have a bunch of books on writing, and a numberer on drawing for comics, so I thought this would help give me at least a bit of insight into aspects I have only recently really started appreciating in comics. If nothing else, it at least works on that level. After reading a good bit of it I at least grasp some of the concepts involved. That makes it worth having in my opinion.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Comics People

I recommend that everyone watch Comedians of Comedy(Movie). Brian Posehn & Patton Oswalt have a moment over comics. This is a film about the concert tour with Oswalt, Posehn, Zach Galifianakis, Maria Bamford. No matter if this is your sort of comedy or not, this movie is worth watching for the brief segment where Posehn and Oswalt seek out a comic shop because it's Wednesday.

There is a neat little follow up where they talk about how weird it is to talk about the comics they get because of how sort of personal it is. That there is almost a sense of shame about being nearly 40 and being into comics (almost).

Over all, Brian Posehn is the star of this for me. Early on in the film they briefly show his office. It's filled with comic boxes and Simpsons figures, and I think Buffy dvd sets, etc. It is very similar to what I would have in my office if I had an office I could do that with.

The good news about this... Is that it is available to watch instantly on Netflix!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Happy belated Library Week

Yesterday was the last day of National Library Week. I meant to make a Library week post before this, but I decided to stay true to form and just forget to do it instead.

Had I posted such a thing, it may have been very similar to this one... but I didn't, so here is something exactly like what I posted in November of 2008... EXACTLY like it. Feel free to also click on the label to see more Library related posts I have done.

741.5 ... It's the geek four-twenty

I have wanted to do a post like this for a while. Previously I have posted bits and pieces that refer to the fact that the public library system is a resource that no serious comic lover should overlook. I have probably mentioned it before, but here is a great post on comics in libraries. I was thinking of trying to wait until National Library Week, but that is so far off and I am incapable of waiting for anything.

I try to get to the library every week or so, and I try to get to a second branch that is just a bit farther away, but has a different selection than the one closest to me. Something i have found in my local library system is that you can't just walk in and hope to stumble into the place with the comics. Some amount of effort is required to truly make the most of your experience. I can't think of another interest that really requires you to work as much as comics do, in order to see the full extent of the libraries collection.

Here are some reasons for that:
1. Comics are a medium, and not a genre unto themselves.
2. Lots of different VOLUNTEERS shelve books in a library
3. Many folks don't realize item 1. in my list.
4. 741.5 exists in three different places in the library(as most classifications do). People often assume the target age of specific comics incorrectly
5. Lots of good comics that would be of interest to readers of all ages may be in the children's section, or young adult section, or the 'adult' non-fiction section, or all three (see #2 in this list)

When I go into the library now I look in probably 6 different places. They are as follows:
1. Two sides of a column next to the children's section. This is where Card Captor Sakura is, as well as a lot of Marvel Age single issues in hardcover, Baby Mouse, Owly, Asterix and Some Tin Tin.
2. Spinner racks not far away, between the young reader section and the children's non-fiction. The bulk of the manga is here. Fruits Basket, Sgt Frog, Prince of Tennis, Ranma 1/2, etc.
3. A separate 'end cap' shelf unit near the spinner racks, but closer to the Young Adult section. This is where the 4 or five Minx titles I have checked out were shelved, Age of Bronze, ElfQuest, Chiggers, Castle Waiting, Invincible, and a ton of other good stuff that ranges from children to Adult, but is mostly appropriate for a YA section.
4. The Young Adult section itself. More items are shelved here. It isn't all overflow, I think some people just didn't get the memo. If you don't check here, you may miss titles, or volumes from titles found elsewhere.
5. 'Adult' Non-fiction 741.5. This is where The Buddha Manga series was, as well as I shall destroy all civilised planets, Shadow of No Towers, Marvels, Planet Hulk, Heroes, as well as collections of comic strips from throughout the ages, and most books about the industry, or the medium and the art. Eisner is here, McCloud, Ten Cent Plague, etc.
6. Maybe it was just 5, but I strongly recommend doing a full recon mission on all the sections and displays in your local library.

If you aren't already familiar with all the libraries within twenty minutes or so of where you live, you should be. There is a vast amount of stuff out there. No-one is hurt by being well read. If you can't find something in your library, you should look it up and consider asking a Librarian about doing an interlibrary loan for it. Even if it isn't in your system, they may have privileges with local universities, or other systems outside of your immediate area. Libraries are buying graphic novels and books on comics, the industry, and creating comics. Let them know how much you appreciate their awesomeness by borrowing this stuff from them (and returning it on time... be responsible, people).

Bengo and Pug

A while back I posted one of my sort of usual Zuda related posts. I got a response asking me if I considered reading other webcomics in addition to Zuda offerings. In response to that, I did a 'Webcomics that aren't zuda' post, and plan to do more of those.

The person that responded to my post, and really got me thinking about the vast range of webcomics, and my relative tunnel vision with regard to it, was Bengo, of Bengo & Pug, a Husband and wife team that seems to live and breathe webcomics.

I immediately read Scratchin Post and Li'l Nyet, Webcomics the couple produces, and sought out to learn a bit more about them, and then... true to form... got distracted by some other things, and decided there were a few other posts I needed to make before doing a post specifically about those strips. I have revisited this a few times, and I really think that links are going to be our friend in this case.

Scratchin PostLi'l Nyet:
I sincerely enjoy both of these comics a great deal. I appreciate them more after continued reading, but it is easy to appreciate them immediately on at least some level. Read either one long enough, and you will involuntarily be speaking with a Russian accent in no time. The character design and the art are perfect comic strip fare. The art is clean, the colors are bright, and the characters are simple but distinctive. Expressions are rendered nicely. It's good stuff.

The writing is well done, and smart. It is very possible that at any moment, a statement is being made. It's also possible that just a joke is being made. These aren't heavy strips on the surface, but they are not without substance. Li'l Nyet takes place in Soviet Russia, but it has a feel that is very much in keeping with strips like Dilbert on some level. Li'l Nyet is, In my opinion, a spiritual cousin to Catbert or even Dogbert from that strip. Scratchin Post is filled with a nice variety of main and supporting characters, but the obvious stars are The Grimyko sisters, Katrinka and Natasha (Russian Blue cats) and Trixie Schwartz (a Labrador). Go here to read more about the characters.

One really nice thing about the setup of Scratchin Post, is that there are cohesive storylines to it. These arcs have their own link buttons on the main page so you can go to a specific storyline if you want to. I am sure there are other webcomics that do this, but I haven't encountered them yet. It's a feature I find kind of useful. It also speaks to the fact that there even ARE multi-strip storylines, which is nice as well.

I love comics and comics people. I love people who take the thing they love and really commit themselves to it. These folks really seem like that. In addition to the previously mentioned webcomics, Between them they run The Floating Lightbulb, which exists to cover 'Webcomics as an evolving art and serious profession', and Psychadelic Treehouse, a Webcomics resource site. Some or all of these are facing impending renovations to make them better in all ways, but they are certainly all worth looking at.

When I was trying to figure out exactly what to say, I saw this Interview posted on The Webcomic Overlook from December of 2008 in their 'Who Are You' feature. I had never seen that site before (as I have not really been seeking out webcomics reporting and sites, but it also looks pretty good. Comics can be as much of a journey as you want it to be. I only recently (last year) dipped my toes into looking at mini comics and the like, and now, thanks to Bengo, I am a bit more resolved to pay attention to webcomics. It never hurts to make people aware of something you think they might be missing out on. Sometimes it takes a degree of advocacy to get people to take notice of things that are awesome. Nice job folks, keep up the good work!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Comic Book Day (4/15/2009)

Tiny Titans (#15) continues to make me happier than all other comics combined! - Zatara makes lots of bunnies, Marvel Bunny makes an appearance, Rose babysits the Tiny Terror Titans. Alfred sits in on a Pet Club meeting. Tiny Titans Supergirl is my favorite supergirl ever. There is nothing wrong with sweet and cute and nice.

Incognito #3 - This is another series that makes me happy. It isn't sweet or cute or nice. It has the feel of being populated by real people, which is a pretty standard thing for Brubaker, which is part of why he is as awesome as he is. Sean Phillips is just Perfect at providing exactly the right pictures for the words. When a contract killer comes looking for me I want them to have an ethereal smile like Ava Destruction does. I am liking this a lot, and it has a good balance of action and character development. Val Staples does the colors on this, and they really just make the art. I say this a lot, but when did I start noticing what really good color does for a piece?

Amazing Spider-Man #591 - This really was a neat little end to the two issue dimension hopping story with the FF ( assume that ends that bit?). It provided a sort of direct examination of some loopholes to the bizarre pact made in the whole Spider-Man reset button thing. It's done pretty well, although a bit of it feels like Slott is trying to get out from under some of the nonsense, but maybe I am wrong. I enjoyed it. I'm not sure how much I want to keep getting this series, but it really isn't bad stuff.

Vigilante #1(I realize this isn't brand new) - I picked this up out of nostalgia. I have a run of the original that I picked up as it was coming out, and I remember liking it ok. I figured with Marv Wolfman writing, I should pick it up. I liked this issue. I may pick up more. It has crime and plots and a cool character with good vigilante action, as well as name dropping a lot of standard DC characters to give it a real place in the grand scheme of things. I mean a place and time more than relevance, but I still enjoyed it.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I make no secret of the fact that if something is put in front of me, I will probably read it. I was asked via email to consider reading the graphic novel Dusk. I read it in PDF format, and was mostly impressed by it.

The Author/creator of this comic is David Doub. He has a good site that has lots of cool stuff on it with regard to the comic (Chapter, short story, evolution of a page, etc.) You should be able to go there and get a good feel for the comic. Here is the First Chapter, and here is where it Can be purchased online.

Dusk is a series of related stories featuring Eve, an abused spouse who is kidnapped by a Vampire, only to be subsequently saved by another vampire, and take up with him as a sort of Ward/enforcer. She is addicted to his blood, which gives her heightened abilities, but which she also seems to abuse to some degree, and she is also proficient with some sort of magic. She acts as a sort of problem solver. Sometimes being tasked to fix supernatural issues, sometimes to capture evil doers and deliver them to the proper authorities.

We get some interesting depth in this. Her ex-husband is still around. She seems to be in love with Ash, her benefactor, but he (probably because he cares for her) doesn't want her living the life she is living and certainly not living HIS life. The 4 chapters in this book are all different stories that convey bits of those elements, as well as being stories on their own.

I read it start to finish this evening, and had the following thoughts on it:
The writing is really better than average. The layout, in my opinion, is pretty brilliant in places as well. I enjoyed this comic a good bit.

There are some negatives, but I don't feel they are huge. The Art is handled by Three different people on Pencils and two different Inkers. Maki Naro does Chapters 1 & 2, Jerry Gonzales Pencils and Inks Chapter 3, and Frank Czuba pencilled Chapter 4. Chris Scott inked Chapters 1,2 & 4. The art even within each chapter is a bit inconsistent, but is really not bad for a 'small press' or first self published work sort of thing. Each of the three artists on Pencils really do have flashes of brilliance in this, but also some fairly rough patches. The inking in some places is pretty heavy handed, but that may not be completely the fault of the inker, I imagine it is the direction that was given, but some parts of the book are almost too dark to make sense of the panels.

The writing is not perfect, but really has a good feel to it, not too many things that should have been caught in editing, and a nice amount of depth. We are given a lot of insight into Eve's character, from a number of different angles, and we see all of the recurring characters in a couple different settings.

I recommend that you click all the links I have included, look at the several images I am including here, and make your own decision with regard to purchasing it (Since I know normally everyone just blindly buys everything I mention). I don't know how else to say this, but if I had picked this sort of thing up at SPX for 10 bucks(the price being asked) I would feel pretty good about it.

Actually, as I look at this from more of a thumbnail sized view of multiple pages together, I really love the layout. There are more than a few panels that have really interesting layouts, some of them very subtle, but there is a definite eye for layout shown a lot in this book.

There is also some humor. Maybe not a ton of humor, but there certainly is some. My favorite being this panel that shows EXACTLY what you are in for if you happen to get a boner at school...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Marvel Year (4/14/2009)

I took a bit of a break from reading Marvel Digital Comics. No reason, really, I am just lazy about maintaining 'features' I start.

Here is what i have read recently, as well as a comment here and there on the service itself, etc.

X-Force #1-4 - Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost(w), Clayton Crain(a) - I really don't like the art in this comic. It just isn't something that works for me. I think the art is kind of cool for a cover or a poster, perhaps, and am not suggesting that the art is bad, just that it is not a style that works for me with this comic. The four issues I read, while not perfect, were WAY better than I thought they would be. I really enjoyed this book, and especially like the team dynamic and the character portrayal we get in it. Wolverine being protective of his teammates with regard to their relative humanity and innocence compared to his. It was really good in that regard. The plot is pretty cool as well. There are a lot of surprising developments in it. I look forward to reading more.

Cable & Deadpool #1 - 7 - Fabian Nicieza & Mark Brooks(#1,2), Patrick Zircher (#3-7) Covers mostly by Rob Liefeld. - I liked this more than I thought I would. I have made no secret of the fact that I just have no love for a certain stable of characters in the Marvel Universe. In fact I plan to say that again in a minute. Neither Cable nor Deadpool have ever done anything for me until recently. I liked Deadpool in the Hulk vs Wolverine animated feature that was released recently. That made me want to read more with him in it. At least Deadpool is sort of funny. Cable is one of those very 90's type creations that seems to have every power, and a design that seems to include everything any 10 year old might consider 'bitchin' Glowy eye, metal arm, big guns, tk, telepathy, teleportation(maybe) just lots of powers and lots of stuff that doesn't seem to go along with anything. Granted, he doesn't have Blood or Dead or Death... in his name, but he does have a name (maybe 8 names) that doesn't seem related to anything either. This was a fairly fun, not entirely mindless run of issues. The story is about a church that wants to use a virus to turn everyone blue... yeah... but regardless, there is something unabashedly comic book about that, and there is lots of action and banter and interesting twists and turns, and a sort of buddy dynamic, if your idea of buddy dynamics is trying to shoot each other constantly. It mostly works, and I enjoyed it and will read more to see if it develops.

X-Calibre #3-4 - I read the first two, and posted about them in a previous post . These next two were OK, and while again, it wasn't terrible, and I imagine people that dig the setting probably liked this a lot. After reading this, and thinking about it a lot, I really just can't love Age of Apocalypse, Apocalypse, or anything even related to Apocalypse. It turns me off and shuts me down. It all looks the same to me, generally has a self-indulgent feel to it, and is all about edginess and enormous hair. The edginess isn't real edginess, either... It's generally more of that ten year old boy stuff I mentioned earlier.
X-Men Omega #1 - I read this because X-Calibre #4 told me to read this for the conclusion. I am not saying it is impossible to write really good stories that make these characters compelling, I'm just saying it must be really difficult with how little of this stuff actually pulls it off.

Astonishing Tales: One Shots (SpiderWoman) - I thought I covered this previously, but who knows. Jonathon Greene, Fiona Staples - I liked this a LOT. It's a nice little story about Jessica Drew on the job in LA, and it reads well. It moves quickly, and most importantly!!! the art is BRILLIANT. For the record, I thought the art was brilliant before I saw the artist's profile picture. She is absolutely stunning, but while there are lots of pretty people out there, there are way less who are really talented artists, and she certainly qualifies. Here is my favorite SpiderWoman pic possibly ever. The art makes this in my opinion, and I don't know why she isn't drawing every comic on the shelf right now. There is a great style to her work, but also some realism. SpiderWoman's costume actually bunches up in places an actual garment might bunch or wrinkle... There is humanity in her Jessica Drew. It's just perfect stuff in my opinion. The picture to the left is cut to not show dialog or spoil anything, but to get the full effect of the image it is best to see the whole panel I think.

Marvel Digital Comics
- Smart panel can still be pretty wonky. It is not uncommon for it to take you to the next page without showing you the rest of the page you are on.

No real new issues or problems with anything. It does at least seem like they are working everyday to get more stuff online, so that's good.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Fistfull of Comics

Remember that comic shop I wrote about not so long ago... Well... I had picked up a handful of comics that I don't think ever touched the shelves of my LCS. That's what I like about that shop. He has a giant wall of kind of cool stuff that is pretty deep in regard to stuff that isn't all super-mainstream. He commented before when I bought some Glamourpuss and other things like that, that he wished he had more customers like me. I guess I could have told him how... but in reality I think his customer base may be pretty mainstream. I imagine he will drive himself out of business if he spends too much buying things he can't sell. (That's what killed the dinosaurs, I'm pretty sure.)

This shop is near my parents house, and about an hour and a half from where I live. I only go when I am visiting my parents... So of course I left the comics at my parents house accidentally. I was crushed, but I lived through it. I knew that we would be back there at Easter, and i was, and now I sit with a nice little stack of stuff I haven't read before now... Enough with the intro.

Mysterious the Unfathomable #2 (Of course they didn't have #1, but in this case it didn't get in the way of enjoying or understanding the comic). Jeff Parker is the writer, and Tom Fowler is the artist. I will go ahead and assume that this series will be as good as this one issue. Jeff Parker is one of those writers that just seems to 'get' how to make well written, funny and interesting comics. His Agents of Atlas Mini series, was just fantastic, and this has that feel to it. It's very funny without being 'jokey' The premise is cool and the story moves really well. There is a good bit of dialog, but not so much that it gets in the way, or takes away from the job the art needs to do. Tom Fowlers art is just perfect for this title. Pot bellies and bulbous noses are the order of the day, and it's more than just a little bit of awesome. Mysterious is a Magician for hire, and has a long and interesting history under his belt. This issue has him working on two different cases at the same time. One involves a bothersome curse that tattoos the victim with the names of all the call-girls he has visited, and the other involves a vicious book that has murdered at least one person so far. I look forward to reading more of this.

I love Parker's writing. I also love that There is an increasing stable of writers out there that are just cranking out funny and fun and cool comics on a pretty regular basis.

Johnny Monster #1 - Joshua Williamson & J.C. Grande - The art isn't bad, and the story is kind of neat. This is a three issue mini, and the first issue works pretty well. The setting appears to be present day + monster Isle style Monsters running amok, and Monster Hunters as well. Johnny Monster is the answer to the blood thirsty over-zealous monster-killers for hire that are running rampant as a byproduct of the monster problem. Johnny is different, thanks to his secret... He was raised by monsters from the time he was a baby. Not the greatest comic, but by no means a bad comic. I enjoyed it, and was excited to see the teaser for the second issue with Firebreather on it.

Killer of Demons #1 - Christopher Yost, Scott Wegener - This is another first issue of a three issue mini. I had wanted to see this, since I think Scott Wegener is pretty great (based on his extremely awesome work on Atomic Robo), and Christopher Yost, whose run on New X-Men I loved, and who is also responsible for the well received new X-Force series. How could this not be great?

The answer is... There is just no way this could be anything but great. Dave Sloan is a killer of demons. Demons are all over the place, convincing people to smoke and kill and lead lives of debauchery, and only Dave Sloan can see them. To the rest of the world they look like... the rest of the world. This is a great first issue. I hope I can pick up the rest.

Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead #1 & 2 - This is credited to Steve Pugh and Warren Ellis. Steve Pugh is listed as the writer and artist, and this is based on a story by Warren Ellis. The good news is the idea is cool as heck. The character design is pretty awesome, and the story is well written and cool. Detective Exorcist Hotwire. There is a lot of photorealism in this comic, which I am not the biggest fan of in comics... There is a lot more than that, though. The art is pretty spectacular. Blue-Lights are ghosts, but ghosts are really just a sort of cohesive set of electrical impulses, and can be fought and dispatched or contained in all the ways one might deal with electricity that wasn't supernatural in origin somehow. This is good stuff. I have only skimmed the second issue, but it only seems to ramp up everything started in the first issue. I love the character. She may be my current comic book girlfriend.

Popgun Bullets: Popgun Volume One, part six - No mas, no mas

Back! Because no-one demanded it! Popgun 3 is in stores now. It is also languishing in a warehouse at Amazon, waiting to be paired with another book I ordered at the same time, but was trying to save money by getting as few shipments as possible. It may be ... May before I get it. In theory, I like going through Popgun this way. In practice it is kind of a LOT like work. I do enjoy getting to see the work of a ton of different writers and artists, and there are plenty of great things in each volume so far, so here is installment #6 in my 6 part series... Better Know a Popgun Volume 1

If you have never glanced at the other installments, feel free not to start now, but here are links, just in case (also if you click on the Popgun Keyword, you will see all of both volumes so far):
Part One Part Two Part Three Part Four Part Five

  • p263 Gamma Rae - Derek Hunter - The art in this is good, but not Hunter's best. It is cute and colorful with lots of dynamic scenes. It is just short of being all ages, but as it is right in the middle of an anthology that is not at all kid friendly, and doesn't want or need to be, it is fine. It's generic to some degree, but uses that as a joke in the intro to some degree. I enjoyed it, and could see this being expanded and tweaked for a youth audience. Super Heroine Gamma Rae is on Earth fighting monsters. She takes her orders from the President of the Moon. There is more mucus than I care for, but there are some pretty funny panels.
  • p278 -Dan Hipp - Amazing Joy Buzzards interior page - As this is art, I can't really cite it as just another Mark Andrew Smith thing thrown in for? vanity maybe. I really do like Hipp's art on AJB, and I really like AJB for that matter, but this doesn't need to be in a comics anthology... but now I remember... it's not an anthology, it's a graphic mixtape...
  • p279 Deadeye - Old Habits Die Hard - Leah Moore, John Reppion & Matt Timson - This is a cool, honest to goodness noir piece. It works pretty well for me, it drops us right into a gritty and grim landscape with mobsters and sort of gangster warrior nuns, and cops that look like zombies. The story is not really ground breaking, but like I said, the nun aspect is kind of cool. The art is really good, but it really looks in places like the people are zombies and demons. I don't care for that aspect so much, but overall it is a good anthology piece, and one you could certainly read more stories in that world with that character (main character detective).
  • p287 Jenny Greenteeth - This is a prime scary book story. It is a good anthology piece, as well as the sort of thing that could easily find a home in a Creepy, or similar such comic/magazine. Lake house, superstitions from youth, a twist that makes you a bit cold in the spine... I am already creeped out by lakes and such. This comic sure doesn't help with that.
  • p295 Rocket Racers - Michael Woods, Kevin Myers - This has a bit too much of a 'computer graphics' feel to it for me. I like the crisp, animation style graphics to some degree, Actually, the art itself is good, but I really hate blur effects, and this comic might not have any art at all if you removed every panel that had at least a good portion of it blurred. This is a nice little piece that reads like the setup to a standard racer story. We see the kid who wants only to fly, then we see him at the big race, his lady letting him know how much she fears for his safety when he races, etc. In long form this could be a good story. In short, it doesn't feel like a complete piece.
  • p306 Triple Scoop - Chris French, Graham Corcoran - This is a strange piece start to finish. The art is distinctive and pretty different, and the story is just strange, but kind of awesome and joyous in a way as well. It succeeds in being child-like, which may have been it's goal.
  • p315 Rex Onazuka, The Japanese Wasp, in: The Liberators - Mark Andrew Smith, John Ulcer Leroux. - Anthologies sure bring out the long titles, don't they? This comic has credits for colors, AND additional colors... The good news here, is that I will not make a dumb comment about that, as the art is pretty great, and the colors are absolutely perfect. The story, again, looks more like a setup for something else. I think that sort of thing makes this more like a previews catalog than an anthology... or um... mixtape as it were. I like the story, it's decent stuff. The art is great as I said, and there is a lot of mostly wordless action that works well, as well as some narrative and exposition that rounds it out.
  • p329 Ellie Saves the World - Adrian Dominguez, Matthew Weldon - I LOVE the art in this. Matthew Weldon is brilliant. This is a big ol' 27 page story (that also isn't a complete story, but I really like this, and you get a ton of set up and characterization, so it doesn't feel like just an ad. The 'cover page' is absolutely terrific, and is by Khary Randolph, just a great piece. The story is intriguing, and the main character has a good natural 'teen' feel about her. She isn't Peter Parker, but it is a pretty decent character. Ellie is a loser at school, and a teen super hero at the same time. Our story opens with a ten year old turning into a giant monster, and ends with Ellie going to take him on. I would love to read more of this.
  • p357 Soulless, Man Without a Soul - DJ Kirkbride, Anjin Anhut - This is a decent piece with very cool and pretty different art. I like it a good bit for the art and the style of it. The story is decent. It's about a literally soulless contract killer. We get more of this in Volume 2, and it continues to be pretty good there as well.
  • p365 The Engineer in Eggcentric - Brian Churilla & Jeremy Shepherd(w), Brian Churilla(a) - This is a well drawn and well written humour piece featuring a difficult to please mad scientist and his robotic assistant and a giant chicken . It's very funny, fast moving, and looks great. I think this is another nice anthology piece.
  • p375 Jazz - Moritat - Interesting piece. It's about an under-appreciated jazz artist, or an artist under-appreciated in his time and place. It's the usual sad story of the self destructive artist, or maybe the artist destroyed by the realities of their craft versus the possibilities of their genius. It is a well illustrated piece, a good anthology piece, and I like it, despite seeing this story too many times in reality and fiction both.
  • p385 La Llorna - Marcus White, Ed Tadem - This is a haunting ghost story told with very few words. It is very deliberate and atmospheric. Most of the story is colored in blue washes, with other colors brought in to maximum effect when it makes sense in the story. This is another that I think is a pretty great anthology piece.
  • p394 Conqueror Pinup - Carlos Lerma - It's a pinup, but the art is pretty awesome.
  • p395 One Checkered Flag - Zachary Sherman, Aleksander Sotirovski - Not a bad piece. Unfortunately, when you read it now, it reads similar to the Ghost Rider movie. Not even close to the same thing, but similar. It is also similar to Rocket Racer in this volume. Similar, but not even close to the same thing. This would be a good fit in a horror anthology, and is a standard deal with the devil tale, only sometimes the devil collects way faster than you expect. It's drawn well, and is a decent enough read.
  • p413 Kiss Of Death - Richard Starkings, Phil Yeh - I love this. It is stylish, the art is good, but if you buy into the style of the piece, it's awesome. The story is a very interesting
  • p421 The Blind Monkey Style: Smoke & Mirrors - Robert Love & David Walker(w), Robert Love(a) - Supernatural Kung Fu in an urban landscape. It has an authentic feel to it for the genre. Blind Master out to avenge his father. Multi part quest is set up, and the first obstacle is encountered in the form of a little green woman, the jade dragon. Again, it is the lead in to something bigger, rather than a complete story, but It's pretty cool anyway.
  • p436 The New Brighton Archeological Society In Souls In A Jar - Mark Andrew Smith, Matthew Weldon, Jacob Baake - Great art, great color, really cute story, actually fits nicely as an anthology piece. The kids relocate the ghosts they displaced when they moved into their headquarters.
There you go! Now we just wait until I get my copy of Volume Three in my hands to start this process all over again.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Zuda - April Competition

I really think of Zuda as a community and a lifestyle, as much as it is a contest site and a great place to go for great free comics. The April contest is on, and there are some really good entries this time, as always. Go, Read, Vote.

Go read all of the entries and judge for yourself, but my favorites this time around are:

Intergalactic Law: Grey Squad
Intergalactic Law: Grey Squadron - I think I will go with my favorite descriptor for this comic. It's like an intergalactic Barney Miller. Grey Squadron may have been good cops at one point, but they have been underutilized to the point of complacency at the very least. Add to a precinct a by the book cop used to real action, and suddenly the fact that the captain's mother is a drug dealer seems like a negative thing. The art is great, the humor is... funny, and it seems to be a pretty neat take on the police precinct genre. I will probably talk about this more in the future, but this one is getting my vote this time around.

Eathbuilders - This looks to me like a sort of Aliens dynamic to me, only instead of Space Marines, you have Terra Formers sent in to fix issues in terra-formed environments.. It's a pretty great idea. I wish I could vote for three or four entries this time, as there are plenty I would like to see go further. There are a lot of interesting ideas in this, There are some compelling characters as well, for example, It is hard not to like Tor Mortensen, a sort of human satellite uplink with no people skills.

Mecha-Simian - This rounds out my three favorites for this round. It's exactly what it looks like. It's a monkey in a robot version of his old body who is a space hero. It's (almost) perfect all ages , tongue in cheek fun. It's got that sort of look of Dragon's Lair / Space Ace kitsch, with buttons surrounded by large arrows pointing to them, and space ships shaped like the enemy's head. It's not deep, but it is fast and fun.

Comic Book Day (04/08/2009)

Just 4 things for me this week, and only one of them is an impulse buy. I resisted the urge to pick up a couple of number ones I was interested in, but knew I didn't really need to get as I wouldn't want to follow them. That's what we call willpower... don't worry, it can't last.

Ultimate Wolverine VS Hulk #4 - Enjoying this a lot, despite some really dumb stuff in this issue. It's a great issue, just... a few dumb things. I think I have said this before, but I really like Leinil Yu's art on this. I think it works perfectly. Good stuff, we get more She Hulk, and more backstory for her with a little 'Ultimate' twist on it. Most of the little dumb stuff is purposefully so, and adds some humor to things. I don't think I will spoil this, but if you read it, you will exclaim something along the lines of 'oh that's stupid' when you get to the part I am referring to.

Green Lantern #39 - I continue to pick this up when I see it. I didn't think it was something I would even consider reading, Yep, I say that every time too. This is a big story, but right now it is appealing to me. Big sweeping Lanterns out in space, lots of interesting developments and cool art... It is catching me at just the right time.

Echo #11 - I am loving this, and still debating with myself that trades might be the best way for me to go. Some very cool advances were made in this issue, and it ends on a good cliffhanger. I like that we see more of Annie in this issue, and see that she is still at least somewhat 'alive' through her psychic imprint on Julie's shiny bikini.

Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures In The Eight Grade #5 - I am running out of ways to communicate the two primary emotions that this series is bringing out in me. Those are of course Joy... Honestly, better every issue, great characters, fun twists, funny as can be, and Streaky is back!! I love the character design more and more with each issue. Lena Luthor in battle armor is a joy to behold. The other emotion is sadness. Six issues? They are just trying to hurt us... toy with our emotions. Hopefully we follow her into the ninth grade, or any other series with the same creative team. I know this feature on this blog is just me repeating the same superlatives about the same comics, but this really is the one that my youngest looks forward to reading the most of all the kids/all ages books we get. Six issues isn't enough.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Webcomics that aren't Zuda

Not too long ago I was given an opportunity to think about why I only seem to post about Zuda when it comes to comics on the web. The point was made very nicely, and gently, but it did make me think about it. There is something to the structure, and the one stop shopping model of Zuda that makes it easier for me to dive into than trying to find webcomics out there in the wine dark sea of the Internet, and then remembering to go back.

This doesn't mean that I have never read other comics online. There are a handful that I have enjoyed reading on a continued basis in the past. Before I start trying to detail my more recent reads, I figured I could do this post to cover my old favorites.

Noses Optional - This started as a senior project, and continued for a good while after that. It was initially co-written and co-drawn by Kristy Bourgeois & Sara-Fred Rickert. Eventually it became a solo endeavor for Kristy. It was a drawn from life sort of fun strip with fun commentary, by nice people. It had forums associated with it that were a nice place to chat. Kristy and her friends were super nice and fun and accommodating when my daughter and I visited their booth in Pittsburgh. Almost everything in it was a recap of something that happened in real life. I know that this sort of strip gets panned sometimes, but it was good and funny. It was drawn well, very cute, and was done by a genuinely nice and talented person.

It is now updated very infrequently, which is a shame. I sure hope Kristy does more of something, as I really like her work. Here are a few examples:

Girls With Slingshots - Danielle Corsetto - Speaking of really talented and nice women who make webcomics... GWS was suggested to me as a good example of a strip that was funny but had running storylines and good characters, etc. It's definitely a strip for adults, but that isn't a negative thing. It is funny and smart and sometimes funny and not smart... It's like... People you may know in your own life. It is not a real life strip, there is a talking cactus named McPedro, for example. The characters are all distinct in design and in personalities. I have seen comics about groups of friends done poorly, and this one is an example of how to do it right. It focuses on drinking a bit much, but other than making you periodically worry for their fictional health and well being. Since there is a great illustrated cast list, I will just link to it. I met Danielle at Heroes in NC last year and thought she was just awesome. I stopped by her booth at SPX and she was very busy and called me sir, which depressed me for a few minutes, until I decided that there was nothing wrong with being polite, and that I actually AM old. Here are some example strips

I first read Pictures For Sad Children because people smarter and cooler than I am were talking about it. I met John Campbell at SPX last year and happily bought some minis from him. He seemed like a real nice guy, and was fun to chat briefly with. I am not sure if he called me 'sir' or not. I don't love every single strip he does, but I bet you there is someone out there for every strip he does. There is a great deal of humor here, most of it bleak, and it is a perfect example of how well fairly minimalist art can come off when done right. He has a blog that is worth keeping up with, and I will post it's link here too.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Comics my girls like

I was recently asked about what my girls like to read, so here is a list of some things they enjoy/have enjoyed. My girls are aged nine and fifteen at the moment:

Perhapanauts (15)
Proof (on my iphone) (15)
Oz: The Manga (on my iphone)
Supergirl: Cosmic adventures in the eighth grade (9)
Tiny Titans
Sonic the hedgehog (various series) (9)
Various DC titles (Krypto, Justice League Teen Titans Go, etc.) (9)
Courtney Crumrin
Polly and the pirates
Arana (15)
Emma Frost (15)
Spider-Man loves Mary Jane (15)
Sardine in outer space (9)
Scott Pilgrim (15)
Celadore (Zuda) (15)

MegaMan (15)
Inu Yasha (9)
Pokemon (9)
Death Note
Black Cat
Happy Hustle High
Naruto (9)
Full Moon(15)
Planet Ladder(15)
Shaman King(15)
Tokyo Mew Mew (9)
Vampire Doll(15)
Chibi Vampire(15)
Fruits Basket(15)
Miki Falls (15)
R.O.D. (Read or Dream)

My oldest reads a lot of mango online as well (tons of it), but those are a portion of the series she has in hard copy. There are probably a LOT of other comics they have read and enjoyed, but those were the ones we could recall on the spot

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Oh comic shops...

Not trying to make all of my posts links to the same blogs, but I had an experience this morning that made me think of a post I read recently at Comicsgirl.

If you have read more than 2 posts here, you probably know that I have 2 daughters who love comics, and that I happily take them with me to shops and conventions anytime I am able. Today I took my oldest (15yo) to a comic shop near my parents house that looks good, has a nice selection, and an owner that is sort of quiet, but when directly addressed has seemed pretty decent. I am not suggesting he is anything but decent, but here is some stuff that leaped out at me in my visit today.

Tarot is on the shelf... the main wall... sort of at toddler level. If I had a store, and could not avoid having that comic in it... I might keep it behind the counter, or higher up on a wall, or maybe bagged with the word adult on it. I realize it is printed with the words 'Mature Readers', but still, that isn't enough in my opinion.

I'm not sure if the owner was just listening to something, or if he was watching something on the monitor in front of him, but it was playing loudly enough to be heard throughout the store. There was probably ten minutes of Sam Kinison routine about hating rap music that feature a good bit of profanity and er... graphic sexual language. It was just the two of us in the store at the time, and my oldest can handle language just fine, so I didn't say anything. It was still inappropriate, even if it was just random adults in the store. I am not offended by the language myself, but that isn't the point either.

When I got to the counter to pay, the guy was asleep. It wasn't a deep sleep, and my putting my comics on the counter woke him up. He's a nice guy, I just wish more stores were mindful and respectful of customers. Had my 9 year old been there, I would have been bothered by the language, but had she been there, it might not have been on. At some point while we were there, two or three other groups of people came in. The kind of cool part was that all of them were parents with young teen girls! Seeing that, makes me wonder if maybe the owner was just really tired and not paying attention to what was on when we went in. I paid attention to what was being played the whole time, and by the time others came in, it was fairly clean comedy.

I just don't know if there is ever a time that a retail store should think it's a good idea to have something playing that features the phrase 'suck my dick' about a hundred times. (Maybe unless it's a porn shop, which probably wouldn't make me feel obliged to post about it.)

Maybe this was just an isolated thing. It still bugs me a bit.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Girl Scout Comics Badge

Eden at Comicsgirl posted a really great piece about the Comics Badge, and the scout leader that created it.

I really hope to do more with this. I have ideas, but I am trying to figure the best way to go about things.

I was really happy to read what she wrote about it. I feel good about the activities we did, I think they were very true to the intent of the badge's originator.

What I want to see now is some sort of Girl Scouts & Friends of Lulu collaboration with regard to this type of activity, and getting it to be designated an official GSUSA badge somehow.

The other thing I am excited about encouraging, is some sort of program on a larger scale. My first step is to try and organize a workshop in our service unit that would be open to as many troops as are interested. It is my goal that we could find local or relatively local women who do some sort of work in comics to participate as well.

So many ideas are sloshing around, I will post more if anything starts to solidify.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Comic Book Day (04/01/2009)

Comic book day

You know what didn't just come out today... Phonogram: Rue Britannia - I bought it, because I have been wanting to read it, and because it leapt out at me when I was flipping through the trade bin at my LCS. I am weak, and I am sure I will write something about this book at some later date.

Previews - I love Previews. I wish it was given to me for free, but I still love it.
Wizard - I don't love it, but I have difficulty not buying it, because it is what is available to me.

Astonishing Tales # 3 - I like this, but I am pretty sure I can stop picking it up now. I have said in the past that I am just crazy about the covers, and about Kenneth Rocafort's art on Wolverine and Punisher inside the book as well. This issue has the Spider-Woman story that I read online recently, and it's pretty great, but I think I will read what I can online and use the money to get something else I am more excited about.

Dr. Doom and the Masters of Evil - I quote - "He's a complicated man, and nobody understands him but his snake woman..." This series is still great. It's funny, but not JUST funny. It's good comics. This issue features Blastaar! I love Blastaar.

Amazing Spider-Man #590 - This issue seems sort of convoluted to me. It isn't bad, it's just sort of contrived. HOWEVER... I kind of like what it builds up to. Effectively it throws out a loophole in the whole One more day... Brand new day... reset thing. On a completely embarrassing note for me... The Fantastic Four are in this issue, and I love Sue's hair up like that... Yeah.. I said it... Invisible Woman has perhaps her cutest hairstyle ever in this issue.

Destroyer #1 - This is a Marvel Max mini series. It is certainly violent and bloody enough to merit its explicit content warning. It's also a pretty compelling comic so far. The art is great, and so is the writing. Kirkman and Walker know how to make comics I think. I have a feeling these kids may go places some day. I am an absolute sucker for the hero at the end of his lifecycle type story. Our badass main character has a loving wife of many years. There is obviously a lot between them. The relationship is sweet and compelling (see how much I like that word). I am looking forward to the next issue.

Agents of Atlas #3 - No less awesome in its third issue than in its first, and that's pretty awesome. I really like the 'humanity' we see in the characters. I also think it continues to carry the 'then and now' story lines really well. both the past and present are good interesting reads.
Having different artists on the two different aspects really works well.

Billy Batson And The Magic Of Shazam #4 - Great art, Great all ages kid friendly writing, and more content crammed into a single comic than all the other comics i read this week, I swear. That may be a slight exaggeration, but not by much. Mike Kunkel seems to be all about filling each page past capacity. It looks like something a kid would do, or like it is written the way a child might think. The characters are stylish and fun, and they are dynamic as all get out. He has a way of showing movement that is just perfect. It isn't a fast read, but I think that's a good thing. It's 2.50, and there's no way you can suggest you aren't getting your money's worth.