Friday, February 26, 2010

AXE COP - podcast Interview with Ethan Nicolle

Sarcastic Voyage podcast #51 features a great guest spot by Axe Cop's Ethan Nicolle, the artist and big brother responsible for turning play time with his little brother into an overnight sensation Web Comic with a real, dedicated, and rapidly growing following.

It's a neat conversation with a truly talented artist who caught on to a brilliant idea from the mind of a pretty awesome but not so atypical 5 year old boy, and really made something great out of it. The joy of Axe Cop is the serious presentation of absurd and frenetic stories and ideas. When you read it, you really get the feel of the thought processes that go on in little kids heads.

It's a very funny webcomic, and the website also features Ask Axe Cop, which takes questions from readers and turns each answer into a page of comics. It's well worth giving a look if you haven't already.

Sarcastic Voyage podcast, which I have mentioned recently in regard to Michael Kupperman's guest spot in episode 49, is available on ITunes, and through their website. It's well worth listening to. Of note, in addition to the comic creators that have recently been on as guests, is episode 50, a fun romp presented as a sort of 'Behind the Podcast'. It's a good time, go listen!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937 - 1938

The library I frequent has a pretty decent collection of comics, manga, graphic novels, and comics related books. It never exactly seems like it when I visit, but I am pretty sure there is a huge collection that is always circulating. It is also not uncommon to go in and find something surprising that seems to be brand new and just added to the collection.

In my last visit I borrowed the 2009 release Fantagraphics collection Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938 . I am just not someone with a lot of nostalgia for the very old comics. I don't dislike everything I read from the era these were originally made, but nothing gets a free pass either. I never read Prince Valiant, but it ran in the paper when I was little and I looked at it, but never had any interest in reading it. When I was growing up, someone in my household must have read it, as we had 2 dogs, one named Valiant, and the other named Aleta. I knew that the names came from the comic strip but beyond that they didn't mean anything to me.
One thing that impressed me about this collection was it's dimensions. The book is 120 pages at 10.5" wide by 14.25" tall. The collection is made up of color remastered copies of full page 'Sunday Comics'. When you open this book it really feels like you are starting something big. I have to admit that I had a good bit of disdain for the large format Kramer's Ergot 7 when it was being hyped, but after DC's Wednesday Comics and this volume, I have a much better appreciation of large format comics.
I am probably not surprising anyone by saying that Hal Foster's work is some of the most beautiful you will probably ever see in the medium of comics. In the interview with Foster late in his career that is included in this collection, he states his work week to produce one Sunday page at 55 hours. Looking at the pages it seems completely reasonable that such things would require that sort of investment of time. Nearly every panel could be a fine illustration in a high quality story book. The comic itself seems very much like a heavily illustrated adventure story than it does a 'proper' comic. I assume I get that due to the heavy, but never oppressive narrative. The stories move quickly, and have a great deal of action and plot and movement to them. Each page starts with a small synopsis, but doesn't seem to lose momentum for it. The colors have been reworked for this edition to better reflect the original intent of the artist, and are bright and beautiful. The people are stunning and could be movie stars of their time, and the backgrounds and settings, including fens and castles, are just stunning.
I didn't expect to read more than a few pages of this, and almost didn't pick it up due to my sort of disconnect from early works. I honestly had trouble setting it down the few times I needed to set it down while I was reading it. Things move fast, but there is still a lot going on, and all of it focuses on Prince Val. When the comic starts, Val is on the run with his family. His father is a king from the North who has been overthrown and run out of his country. They relocate to a nearly savage Britain, and after showing themselves to be fierce in battle, they are given an island in a fen to settle and live in isolation. It doesn't take long for the restless young prince to start seeing the world and having adventures on his quest to become a knight in King Arthur's court.
The stories mix fantastic and realistic elements. Magic exists but is not predominate. Giant Lizards, Turtles and 'Dragons' are around as well, and eventually Valiant becomes the owner of an enchanted sword, but mostly the stories are about Valiant and his bravery, honesty,cunning and determination, and how he uses them to get along and better himself, while making a name in the world. It is really great stuff for anyone who likes Robin Hood or King Arthur stories, or tales of Vikings and the like.
The book itself is very pretty and nicely bound. It's 30 dollars, but really stands out in my opinion. I am happily surprised by how much I enjoyed this, and hope to read volume 2 as soon as I can find it. I would eventually like this to be in my personal library, but I try to resist big purchases like this as long as I can. There is some decent value-added in the collection, with a Bio of Foster, an interview, and a page on this edition specifically. It's not a lot, but it did enhance the experience for me.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

CBD 02/17/2010

Tick: New Series, Atomic Robo, Tiny Titans

This was an awesome week for comics. I can't say what else may have come out, but this week made me about as happy as I can be made by the comics waiting for me in my box at the Comics Shop.

Tiny Titans #25 - Still my favorite take on the DC Universe that is currently running. Conner comes back and fun times ensue. We meet Match, who is Conner's genetic match, and more or less his bizzarro. We also get a story where all of the girls end up with the multi colored lantern rings titled "Brightest Day in the Afternoon" Which is cute and funny.

Atomic Robo: Revenge of the Vampire Dimension #1 - I was really thrilled to see another Robo series starting. I guess I missed hearing about this one somehow, but fortunately my LCS loves me. This series starts with two applicants showing up at the same time to interview, and some insight into the decision making process for hiring new Action Scientists. Somehow the barrier between our dimension and that of the Vampire Dimension (not classic vampires, just called that because of their basic traits) has been breached. Fortunately Jenkins is on our side. This is funny and smart, and just clicks. So far every mini series in this title has been completely different, while delivering the same great payoffs of humor and characters and story. Issue three of this promises to give us some more Dr. Dinosaur(as if it wasn't already a must-read)

The Tick, New Series #2 - I have read some Edlund Tick and enjoyed it a lot. I have watched the cartoon and the live-action series, and enjoyed them both, with a strong preference for the cartoon, but a love of both. Benito Cereno and Les McClaine are delivering a product that absolutely captures the humor and familiar style and feel that I know and love from those variations(all of them different, but all with the same sort of feel, and the same treatment of the characters and setting and tone). It also brings it's own qualities that make it way more than just a treatment of a license or some such. I laughed through the entire issue and was left with a smile on my face when it was done. It wasn't nostalgia for what has gone on previously that made me laugh. I highly recommend this for fans of any previous presentation of the Tick, as well as for anyone that like their funnybooks to be funny.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Michael Kupperman Guests on Sarcastic Voyage Podcast

Episode # 49 of the podcast: Sarcastic Voyage features Michael Kupperman, the writer/artist of the extremely awesome and very well regarded comic Tales designed to Thrizzle.
Sarcastic Voyage is available on Itunes, as well as at the Sarcastic Voyage Website. AAl and Matt are funny, and worth giving a listen to, so the addition of such a noteworthy guest only stands to make it more awesome. Go, Listen, Enjoy, tell your friends.
Also if you like slightly less awesome guests, give episode #44 a listen. Hint It's ME. My episode is surprisingly comics free, but it was certainly fun to be on the show.

Not Comics, but still worth Talkin' 'Bout

I have this charming little affliction that keeps me from doing things I know I need to do, even if I really want to do them. It doesn't keep me from doing other stuff, just the stuff I feel is most important (important is a relative term here, as no comic blogging is all that important, especially that which is done by me.) All of that aside, on with the show!!

I have been greatly enjoying a fairly new blog that two of my internet friends started recently. A quick note about my definition of Internet Friend. If I follow you on twitter or ever read your blog, you may already be my Internet Friend. If you have ever commented on one of my blogs or referenced something I posted or mentioned a reply of mine, etc., you may already be my Internet Friend. If you are a friend of an internet friend, and I like something that you post, you may have accidentally entered into internet friendship with me. Also, of course, if I have ever gotten even a form email from you on any of my accounts, then we are definitely Internet Friends (I'm talking to you Nigeria, and Marvel Comics.)

The Blog I am highly recommending is:

Girl on Book Action. It is Book and movie reviews written by two, twenty-something ladies in Canada.

Doomwench, a self-described girl Van Helsing is an extremely voracious reader, so much so that she is willing to let her readers have a say in what she reads and reviews. (I assume that eventually she will read everything), writes the book reviews. There is a definite format to the reviews on the blog, and it works for me. The book reviews start with a blurb, then an aside by the reviewer if there is one to be made, and then her thoughts. There is some humor and personality here, but the reviews are solid and well written also.

Wren (the Queen of France, and who am I to dispute that) Watches movies in the same way that Doomwench goes through books apparently. The movies run the range of types and styles, but there is a bit of a geek sensibility about the choices. All of her reviews so far are for movies I have either wanted to see or have been curious about. Her reviews are extremely funny but also make a lot of sense, and show real thought. They also tend to follow a format, in this case it is: Preconceptions, General Review, and Random Thoughts, with an aside thrown in where it is needed.

Both the book reviews, and the movie reviews come across as thoughtful, smart, and well written. I wasn't sure what to expect, as I had not ever read anything by these folks (or ever met them, or actually know them), but I have been very happy with the content. It is always nice to get other viewpoints on things, and even nicer when they are as well written and presented these are..