Thursday, December 31, 2009

Late on Christmas Day

It’s official, Christmas is over. It was fun while it lasted, but I’m also glad it’s done. Christmas Day was an exhausting event. The kids rushed down stairs and attacked the presents like a pack of rabid dogs. With Santa’s gifts, four sets of Grandparent gifts, and too many aunts, uncles, cousins and other assorted relatives to mention, there was no shortage of gifts which only added to the mess.

Even though he’s a year older, Boy hasn’t changed at all. For him, it’s still about the video games, electronics, and, of course, toys. But I noticed a subtle shift in the girls’ attitudes. Tiny is still about the dolls and games, but periodically she would lean over and inspect the clothes Girl was getting. Girl, much to my surprise, spent as much time admiring her new clothes as she did her new doll accessories.

Boy barely managed to hide his disinterest in the clothes he did receive.And, it only got worse as the day progressed. By the time Wife decided to start seeing what did and did not fit in the afternoon, I’m not sure he even remembered he’d opened boxes of clothes.

Boy approached trying on clothes with the same zeal that he opened the clothes boxes. “It’s clothes. Do I have to open it?”Undeterred, Wife started with pants. He had the first half of his first leg in when he asked for the first of many, many times “Are we done yet?”

“No,” Wife hissed, “and the more you complain the longer this will take!” Well, that didn’t stop the complaining, and it did take longer than ever.

Then Wife started with the girls. Tiny and Girl were in their natural element! In a fraction of a second we went from Boy’s incessant whining to a Vogue fashion show.I swear disco lights popped out of the ceiling and the whump-whump-whump of the bass started.

As Dad, my job was to sit and watch the fashion show. And, while I sat with a big smile on my face, I couldn’t help but whine to myself, “Are we done yet?”

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Indies Preview Review for February Part 3 of 3

Fantagraphics Books
Scream Queen: Sand & Fury SC by (W/A) Ho Che Anderson
An original horror graphic novel from the creator of King, Scream Queen is a story of blood, of sex, of death - of sound and retribution. It opens as a girl by the side of a desert road accepts a ride from a stranger. How could she know that behind that wheel sits the angel of death? Of course, even the angel of death once had a life. During that life, death was a successful business woman, with a great career and an even greater future. It's true she could be a little cavalier with her innate gifts; she had, after all, broken the heart of everyone who had ever loved her. And then, one day - the monster entered the woman's life and changed everything forever. $16.99
Lee: I’m a huge fan of Anderson’s work. His art style is perfectly suited for this type of story. He’s also the accomplished author of King. With that kind of pedigree, it’s not like I’m taking all that much of a chance.
Jim: I have hit a limit on certain genres and unless I get a review or two from trusted sources telling me this is a great book I will pass.

Image Comics
Choker #1 by (W) Ben McCool (A) Ben Templesmith
Pain Industry superstar Ben Templesmith teams up with writer BEN McCool for this deliciously skewed tale of hardboiled noir. Johnny Choker Jackson, once one of Shotgun City's most promising police officers, is a bitter private detective with a terrible case of Alien Hand Syndrome. But he's unexpectedly been offered a job back on the force: provided he can nail a twisted drug dealer selling a very exclusive product, that is. $3.99
Lee: This is an easy pick because Templesmith is the artist. He’s been associated with some of the best horror of the past decade and this appears to be more of the same. The only real question is do I read the single issues or wait for the trade?
Jim: Ben Templesmith is one of those rare artist whose work I will try on almost any project. Now I prefer seeing his work with Steve Niles or Templesmith himself as writer, but I will be getting issue #1 for sure.

Kiss & Tell GN by (W) Jeff Amano (A) Craig Rousseau
Betrayed by all legs and even more curves, Sam Swede finds himself alone and in-between the mob and dirty cops. Having immense strength never gave Sam a reason to use his noggin much, not even as a private dick. So no one was surprised that Sam got taken to the bank when he met a dame with the upstairs to match her downstairs. The real surprise was how Sam came back and made the whole stinkin town pay. The critically acclaimed film noir take on the Samson & Delilah classic in one complete volume! $19.99
Lee: This isn’t even close to a new release considering it was originally published in 2006! But, it’s new to me so it’s worth mentioning. Rousseau is solid artist so I know the art is good. The story sounds strong and it’s based upon some classic literature. Not new, but it could be worth investigating.
Jim: Wow, this is not that easy of a sell job for me, I need to see some reviews and a few preview pages wouldn't hurt. Publisher need to learn how to really push their product and embedded links in their solicitation would be a good place to start.

On the Odd Hours GN by (W/A) Eric Liberge
The highly successful series of graphic novels co-published with the Louvre museum in Paris continues. Liberge invites us on a guided tour of the museum by night, when the works of art come alive. Our guide: a deaf night watchman who somehow manages to communicate with the souls of those ethereal and timeless works of art. A visual tour de force of the frighteningly fantastic. $14.95 Liberge’s site in French here or an English site with short bio and image here and of course preview here
Lee: While the description reads “Night at the Museum,” I have a feeling this is so much more. I really, really like the idea of being able to ‘see’ the Louvre through the eyes of an artist. And, NBM is one of the better publishers of Euro material so I’m betting this is good.
Jim: Since not everything gets translated and not everything is published over here you have to trust a little that NBM is picking the cream of the crop and for the most part I think they get it right. At $15 it is hard to go wrong in taking a chance on something that has a good premise.

Glacial Period GN (3rd printing) by (W/A) Nicolas De Crecy
De Crecy, at the sight of the incredible richness of the museum's collection, was overwhelmed and felt small and ignorant. The result is a story set thousands of years hence in a glacial period where all human history has been forgotten and a small group of archeologists fall upon the Louvre, buried in age-old snow. They cannot begin to explain all the artifacts they see. What could they have meant? Their interpretations are nonsense, absurd, and farcical. $14.95 A short bio and image here and previews here
Lee: This sounds even better than the first book. Because I’m sure the characters ‘interpretations’ of art in the Louvre probably isn’t all that different from mine. Between the beautiful looking pages and interesting storyline, I’m sold.
Jim: And this is a 3rd priniting which shows that the demand has been their for this book. TAKE A CHANCE PEOPLE. Try something new, no Tiger I was not talking to you.

Oni Press Inc.
Lost at Sea GN (new ed.) by (W/A) Bryan Lee O’Malley The critically lauded debut graphic novel from Bryan Lee O’Malley (Scott Pilgrim) returns to print! Raleigh doesn't have a soul. A cat stole it - or at least that's what she tells people - or at least that's what she would tell people if she told people anything. But that would mean talking to people, and to her, the mere thought of social interaction is terrifying. How did such a shy teenage girl end up in a car with three of her hooligan classmates on a cross-country road trip? Being forced to interact with kids her own age is a new and alarming proposition for Raleigh, but maybe it's just what she needs - or maybe it can help her find what she needs - or maybe it can help her to realize that what she needs has been with her all along... $11.95
Lee: I know people love Scott Pilgrim but I haven’t heard much about this story. Or at least, I haven’t heard the fervent chants of how good it is. But, this is probably a good way for me to see if I like OMalley.
Jim: I agree, but the Scotty Pilgrim set is the 20 something crowd and you and I are not, so it may still be a miss.

Top Shelf Productions
Complete Essex County SC by (W/A) By Jeff Lemire
THE COMPLETE ESSEX COUNTY collects Jeff Lemire's critically-acclaimed and award-winning trilogy -- TALES FROM THE FARM, GHOST STORIES, and THE COUNTRY NURSE -- into one deluxe softcover volume. Also included are over 50 pages of previously unpublished material (including two new stories). . Set in an imaginary version of Jeff Lemire's hometown, ESSEX COUNTY is an intimate study of an eccentric farming community, and a tender meditation on family, memory, grief, secrets, and reconciliation. With the lush, expressive inking of a cartoonist at the height of his powers, Lemire draws us in and sets us free. $29.95
Lee: I already have this and I sent my copy of ‘Tales from the Farm’ to Jim. So this is as much to tell the world about this as it is to tell Jim about it. It’s a huge collection and well worth it. There’s a hc version too but that’s $50.
Jim: The first part of this story in Tales from the Farm was fantastic and I will be getting this as I sent the Tales From the Farm off to Gwen.

Lee: This is another great month. It's hard to keep saying each month is good but there really are a ton of non-superhero books to enjoy every month.
Jim: Okay just remember you have to try something new away from Marvel or DC this month or I will send Lee pictures of your collections and he will mock them, no seriously he could, he might do it, I can't stop him!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Indies Preview Review for February Part 2 of 3

Bluewater Productions
Rock N Roll Comics Vol. 02: Hard Rock Heroes SC
What goes together better than comics and rock music? Hard Rock Heroes goes way beyond Behind the Music, to tell the real life, behind-the-scenes stories of rock's most heavy hitters. Creators include Stuart Immonen, Ken Landgraf, Jay Allen Sanford, Todd Loren, Scott Pentzer, Mike Sagara, and many others. Covering bands like Guns N Roses, Metallica, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Van Halen, Motley Crue, Poison, Megadeth, Pantera, Anthrax, Motorhead, Sammy Hagar, and more. $17.99
Lee: This has got to be a collection of the books published by Revolutionary Comics. RC was a small publisher between 1989 and 1994 that, to my knowledge, only published R-n-R comics. They were fun and were “Behind the Music” before there was a “Behind the Music.” I’m not sure I care about the bands but I like the pen-ink artists so I might try this.
Jim: ----News Alert-----News Alert-----Lee not sure about a comic that combines music and graphic story telling. Next you will be telling me that we have a black President and that Meridith Baxter is gay! I can't believe it!

Boom! Studios
Walt Disney's Valentines Classics Vol. 01 HC
Love is in the air for Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and the rest of the Mouseton/Duckburg gang this February from BOOM Kids! But will Cupid's arrows cause happiness or heartache in this collection of classic stories from Carl Barks, Floyd Gottfredson, Daan Jippes, and Romano Scarpa featuring all your most beloved characters from the magical world of Walt Disney! $24.99
Lee: I really, really like that Boom! has started producing hc’s of all the Disney material. With all the reprint material out there, it has taken far too long to get high quality collections of Disney books. This is great for kids and adults alike.
Jim: Lee picking a Disney book about the ducks, no shocker here. Hey I like my Boom buddies and glad to see that the Disney material found a good home.
Lee: On a side note, I wonder if Boom isn’t getting to heavy into kiddie books. Granted, the Disney market comes with a HUGE established fanbase which could support the company for years to come. But, in terms of the direct market, will Boom! become associated with kiddie books only hurting whatever other books they may produce. I’m just wondering.
Jim: I don't think it is a problem because the vast majority (and I'm totally guessing here) of the distribution and outlets for the kids books is not the comic shops. Plus many companies have diverse lines and not only survive but thrive. From a business viewpoint it makes a lot of sense to not have all of your eggs in one basket (love the homilies).

Anchor Vol. 01 SC by (W) Phil Hester (A) Brian Churilla
Holy warrior, unholy war. Freak of nature, beast of burden, hulking outcast, medieval prize fighter, Viking raider, God's own leg-breaker. Seeking refuge in the crumbling ruins of an ancient monastery, a hulking brute is transformed into an immortal warrior monk standing at the gates of Hell itself to keep our world free from its invading armies. This holy warrior arises to battle all the unholy monsters unleashed during his slumber. Cataclysmic action, quirky humor, and profound pathos for fans of Hellboy and The Goon. Collects the first 4 issues of the surprise hit of the season! $9.99
Lee: Speaking of Boom!'s non-Duck related material, we have Anchor. The series that Boom! has published have been very good. Two proven creators and a low price point make this worth investigating.
Jim: I skipped the floppies, but will be getting the trade. I love that publishers are letting us try out stuff for a reasonable price and then jacking it up once we are hooked - just kiddin'

Del Rey Manga
Wolverine: Prodigal Son Vol. 01 GN by (W) Antony Johnston (A) Wilson Tortosa
Marvel Comics clawed mutant hero is given a martial-arts manga twist in this action-packed tale for the fans that have made Naruto a genuine, pop-culture phenomenon! Arriving just in time for the theatrical debut of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the Marvel mutant is about to face new challenges and new dangers! $12.99
Lee: Because what the world needs is another newer-differenter-more specialer Wolverine comic. And, I heard this was a huge seller in Japan! On another note, for anyone hoping to break into comics… please note how much work Antony Johnston (Bleeding Cool) is doing to break into the industry and has yet to get on with Marvel/DC.
Jim: The hype is a little frelled up as it says arriving just in time for the theatrical debut of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Also regarding breaking into comics I have been writing this blog for over three years and yet no one has come knocking at my door.

Drawn & Quarterly
John Stanley: Library Melvin Monster Vol. 02 HC by (W/A) John Stanley
Continuing Drawn & Quarterly's John Stanley archival series, Melvin Monster Volume 2 is about the oddball monster boy who just wants to be good, go to school, and do as he is told. A satirical and funny sendup of the monster craze of the 1960s, Melvin Monster is a classic kids comic of the Silver Age. Designed by Seth. $19.95
Lee: The first Melvin Monster was awesome and I loved every page of it. Actually the kids and I both loved it. The only comment, there really should be some type of commentary about Stanley and his work to put this book in perspective. Other than that, this is really good stuff.
Jim: On this not, I want a Sugar and Spike collection - in color, but this I'm skipping.
Lee: For the record, I'm typing this before Jim responds to my comment. I'm guessing that Jim say "Thanks but no Thanks." I know I'm right so I'll just recomment right now... You're missing out and you should try it. You will like it. All the cool kids (remember when you were a cool kid?) are trying it. So you should try it!
Jim: I'm now the cool guy and I still rock! I'm sure the material is good, but again it is still a pass.

Fantagraphics Books
Best American Comics Criticism of the 21st Century SC
Conventional wisdom states that cartooning and graphic novels exist in a golden age of creativity, popularity, and critical acceptance. But why? Today, the signal is stronger than ever, but so is the noise. New York Times, Vanity Fair, and Bookforum critic Ben Schwartz assembles the greatest lineup of comics critics the world has yet seen to testify on behalf of this increasingly vital medium. Best American Comics Writing is the first attempt to collate the best criticism to date of the graphic novel boom in a way that contextualizes and codifies one of the most important literary movements of the last 60 years. This collection begins in 2000, the game changing year that Pantheon released the graphic novels Jimmy Corrigan and David Boring. Originally serialized as alternative comics, they went on to confirm the critical and commercial viability of graphic literature. Via its various authors, this collection functions as a valuable readers guide for fans, academics, and librarians, tracing the current comics renaissance from its beginnings and creative growth to the cutting edge of today's artists. This volume includes Daniel Clowes (Ghost World) in conversation with novelist Jonathan Lethem (Fortress of Solitude), Chris Ware, Jonathan Franzen (The Corrections), John Hodgman (The Daily Show, The Areas of My Expertise, The New York Times Book Review), David Hajdu (The 10-Cent Plague), Douglas Wolk (Publishers Weekly, author of the Eisner award-winning Reading Comics), Frank Miller (Sin City and The Spirit film director) in conversation with Will Eisner (The Spirit's creator), Gerard Jones (Men of Tomorrow), Brian Doherty (author Radicals of Capitalism, This is Burning Man) and critics Ken Parille (Comic Art), Jeet Heer (The National Post), R.C. Harvey (biographer of Milton Caniff), and Donald Phelps (author of the landmark book of comics criticism, Reading the Funnies). Best American Comics Writing also features a cover by nationally known satirist Drew Friedman (The New York Observer, Old Jewish Comedians) in which Friedman asks, tongue-in-cheek, if cartoonists are the new literati, what must their critics look like? $19.99
Lee: I’m not sure I would be really interesting in this book if it weren’t for the blog. But both of us, Jim to a greater extant than I, use the blog to both praise and criticize comics. I wouldn’t mind reading other criticism to see how to write it better. If only to improve my own meager writing skills. Besides that, this looks like an awesome oral history of comics in the past decade.
Jim: I agree with Lee. My writing skills are not all I would like and when writing the blog often you are publishing with very little chance to edit your own work. Plus it sounds like a great review of the last few years.

Percy Gloom HC by (W/A) Cathy Malkasian
Cathy Malkasian has made the jump from animation to the printed page with a graceful, delicate leap. Humorous and bewitching at the same time, Percy Gloom is a unique gem of a story. Occupying an unreal world of secret societies, benevolent families, and bureaucratic security, lazy-eyed Percy Gloom fights to overcome the loss of his wife, Lila, to a truth-pointing, lotharian, cult-leader. Approached by his doctor to help protect some special people and given advice by some talking goats, Percy comes to terms with his place in the gloomy world and finds himself reaching enlightenment (literally). $18.95 Visit the previews here
Lee: This book has actually been out for awhile but I’m just finding it now. It has great reviews and the art has a very surreal feel to it. Fantagraphics is one of the best when it comes to Indy books so I’m ordering it.
Jim: Lee brings up a point which is very important in ordering stuff with limited information, which is what you often have to do with indie material and that is the publisher. Once you know a publisher and you understand at least a little what they do and how they do stuff, you can take a bigger chance by trying stuff trusting they will not put their name on a sub standard product and Fantagraphics has a long and proud tradition of publishing quality products.

Tomorrow... the conclusion

Monday, December 28, 2009

Indies Preview Review for February Part 1 of 3

Lee: Another month, another slew of Indies. The best part about February is the fact that Marvel/DC don’t announce to many new things. This allows people to try new things from the indies list. Well, hopefully, allows people to try new things.
Jim: It forces them to try things not from Marvel of DC. Darn it I'm tired of the soft sell. If you don't buy at least one of these picks over the next three days Lee will come to your house and mock your collection of comics. I'm not kidding he might maybe possibly do it. It could happen.

Aardwolf Publishing
Whorehouse Madrigals SC by (W) Hank Magitz (A) Mike Henderson
Hank Magitz (aka Clifford Meth, author of IDW's controversial Snaked) presents his most outrageous collection to date, a wild ride through the dark corridors of ill repute where you'll meet not only erotic ladies of the night but a variety of bad men you'll never forget. Features an introduction by rock-and-roll legend Handsome Dick Manitoba and the last cover ever created by Kelly Freas. (NOTE: This is a Mature Readers item.) $14.99 Visit Mike and some previews here
Lee: Here’s a shocker. A book with the word “Whorehouse” in the title is considered mature readers. Go figure! But, on to the book… This should be very good. Hank, or Clifford Meth, has written a ton of stuff and most of it was very good. Mike worked on the series Smuggling Spirits and was a good artist then. From his recent postings, it looks like he’s improved since then. Two creators who been around for awhile makes this a low risk, high reward item. I’m sold.
Jim: Gosh so Lee is sold on a Whorehouse. Personally I need to see the whores before I'm putting down my hard earned money and before I --- well you know.
Lee: Ok, enough about the book, let’s get to the obvious question.. Who the funhouse is Dick Manitoba???? Ok. Since no one knows, I looked it up. He’s the singer for a band called ‘The Dictators’ that were part of the early punk movement. Now that I know, I’m impressed but what does he know about comics?
Jim: Well he obviously knows about dicks, and without that how much fun can you have at a whorehouse.

AC Comics
Crypt of Horror #8
Classic reprints of the grisliest 1950's pre-Code comic book stories, including River of Blood, The Vampire Legion, The Painted Beast, The Last Man, and a dozen more, from masters of the macabre including Bob Powell, Wally Wood, Harry Harrison, Dick Ayers, Steve Ditko, Jack Kamen, and more! $29.95
Lee: I can’t believe this series of reprints has made it to volume 8. They are very, very good and contain some of the best pre-code horror out there. The stories still hold up and there is a ton of great art to be seen. It’s $30 for a b&w collection but it has a lot of pages. Highly recommended if you have some Christmas money left over.
Jim: I'm not disagreeing, but I have so much of this stuff in my collection I do not need anymore. I have all of the EC Archives they managed to produce, tons of the Atlas era and the Ditko archive and more and more.

Necessary Monsters GN by (W) Daniel Merlin Goodbrey (A) Sean Azzopardi
There exists a world of horrors beneath the one we know. Where the creatures of our nightmares stalk amongst humanity and play their games of vengeance, murder and intrigue. To police this world there is The Chain; a covert agency of monsters and killers, charged with keeping the human herd from ever growing too thin. But now a new threat to The Chains status quo has risen. The creature known as Harps Bane has gone rogue and its up to four of The Chains best agents - Gravehouse, Creeping Tuesday, Charlotte Hatred and Cowboy 13 to stop him. The stage is set for a terrifying chase across a hidden America as old grudges and older secrets come bubbling to the surface. Ancient terrors ride in black helicopters, psychotic cowboys walk the land and dead girls with killer smiles hide in the shadows. In this world of horrors there are no heroes and no villains; only monsters. Some more necessary than others. $12.95 Visit Azzopardi here
Lee: This is a tough call because I really like the cover and I really like the idea but I’m really not sold on Azzopaardi’s art. Then again, Goodbrey did write the Iron Man 2020 piece in the latest Astonishing Tales and is writing for Marvel’s Digital Comics so maybe the story will carry the whole package. I just can’t decide.
Jim: Here I am threatening people to buy your picks and you are hemming and hawing over this one. When in doubt throw the pick out. Seriously Lee and I buy so much that it should at least make us warm and fuzzy in the solicitation phase of the courtship.

Alterna Comics Inc
Big Bad Book GN by (W) Nikola Jajic (A) Giardo, Hershey, Cram & Kurowski
Why would Thor and Loki disguise themselves as a monkey and a clown? Why would an ordinary guy be tormented by other worldly forces and his perverted best friend? Why would the most beautiful woman in the world work as a receptionist? The answer is simple: they all do it because of The Big Bad Book! $11.99 Previews can be found here
Lee: I like the fact that other companies are using Thor and Loki in their books. It’s not like Marvel has ownership of the characters but it certainly seems like it. As for the book, it sounds intriguing. And the art in the previews is better than I expected. Be warned, the third preview page has a monkey shooting poop out its butt like a super soaker. So, if you like monkeys shooting poop this book is perfect for you!
Jim: Ewweee, thanks for that picture I can't get out of head. Not a strong sales job for me. I love monkeys and all, but you have to draw the line at poop shooting.

Amaze Ink/Slave Labor Graphics
Birdhouse GN by (W/A) Vernon White
A servant attempts to poison the aged and despised King, and the King's only daughter despairs of life in the castle. She longs to return to a town she once visited, but she is forbidden to step outside of the castle walls. Her only hope falls on an absent-minded servant hired to do construction. With his help, she hopes to recapture the freedom she so briefly felt. With a fairy-tale-like setting, combined with modern themes of isolation, obligation, and longing, Birdhouse is a magical debut graphic novel from Vernon White. $10.95 There’s a video (?) trailer here. Thanks to Vernon for hooking us up with page previews. Go here to see
Lee: A video trailer??? Seriously? I know that comics can be considered movies on paper but this is ridiculous. Are we so short of imagination that we now require mini-movies to make our comic books more interesting? I understand this was made for the iphone generation but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. Now, on to the book itself… it does sound good. And, the art… as it moved across my screen… looked nice. I still wish I had seen a static page so I could determine if the artist knew how to structure a page. Sorry, that’s just me complaining again. Oh well, it looks interesting enough to chance.
Jim: See the whole motion comic thing has many many problems. When you take a comic and try to make it into an animation you have to remember it is a different medium and you need to adjust to make it work. I watched Spider-Woman on Hulu and now I almost don't want to get the book anymore because the dialogue that reads so cool, sounded so stupid as to be something only a comic book character would say.

Ape Entertainment
A Second Chance at Sarah GN by (W) Neil Druckmann (A) Joysuke Wong
Johnny stares at his newborn son, a dying wife, and a demon's talisman and agrees to a macabre deal. Now he must relive a day from his teenage years before he met his wife. Can he uncover her secret past and prevent the selling of her soul in only 24 hours? $12.95 Visit Wong here and a 24 page preview here
Lee: Ape Entertainment is definitely a third tier publisher but they always seem to be have good offerings and this is no exception. The story sounds very good and Wong’s art is fairly strong. This could be worth investigating.
Jim: The problem with third (and that is being generous with Ape) is that they will never be a comic that is put on the rack of a store unless they give away five copies per store. Therefore their ability to actually publish what they solicit is suspect as they can't generate any impulse sales to make enough money to publish the next issue and rely on pre-orders.

Avatar Press Inc
Captain Swing #1 by (W) Warren Ellis (A) Raulo Caceres
From the sparking-mad mind of Warren Ellis comes an electrical romance of a pirate utopia thwarted: CAPTAIN SWING & THE ELECTRICAL PIRATES OF CINDERY ISLAND. This crackling new mini-series is illustrated in Raulo Caceres stunning woodcut style, and presented in full color. London, 1830: newly-minted copper Charlie Gravel keeps seeing things he's not supposed to. A crooked Bow Street Runner with a flintlock revolver, flying things that are not supposed to fly, and the violent Scientific Phantasmagoria that is christened Spring-Heeled Jack, but is known by other names. It is the time of Captain Swing and his Electrical Pirates, and history will never be the same. #1 of 4, $3.99
Lee: Is there ever a month that we don’t talk about an Ellis book from Avatar? Anyway, this sounds interesting. The art by Caceres will definitely be good. He was the artist on Ellis’ other was book, Crecy. Interestingly enough, Garth Ennis does war stories on the side. I wonder if Ellis will now start doing all the pirate stories?
Jim: Hey Ellis trying out a pirate story, what is not to love. I'm glad to see Ellis is playing around in different genres, he now needs to do a romance comic. An Avatar Romance comic. What would that be like? Lots of naked women and gyrating bodies with swords and entrails!

Continued tomorrow...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Continuity be Damned

This is why continuity can be bad. If you're focussed on the cannon of Marvel, you'll have no interest in Elektra Lives Again from 1990, even though it's another Frank Miller, Lynn Varley work. Of course, the same outlook in the DCU would keep you from reading The Dark Knight Returns by the same duo (and Klaus Jansen), and that would be a more egregious failing in a person's reading lexicon.

Elektra Lives Again was one of Miller's more obscure writings. Not in terms of trying to find it, which is easy enough, but with regard to the method of story telling. A man best known for 300 and Sin City, to those unfamiliar with the comic book world of literature, readers of this Miller work would be very surprised by how many unstated elements there are to this story.

As with all Miller works, especially those on which he is also the artist, the art is not simply something to glance at as you read along. Miller's art is integral to the story and conveys such mood and ambiance that merely reading the text and glancing at the pictures will deprive a reader of too much of what's happening. These aren't simply pretty pictures. They are the story almost more than the words. I could page through Elektra Lives Again without reading a word and get the feeling of what Miller's conveying.

Which is a good thing because in this story, even reading the text I'm not sure what happened. Set two years after the climactic battle between Daredevil, Elektra and Bullseye, it's obvioulsy ignoring all the crap that came after with the character, even by 199o. All that's gone before is that Bullseye killed Elektra, the Hand tried to revive her and failed, and Daredevil tried to do the same, with Stick's disciple, Stone, taking Elektra's body. Daredevil never actually makes an appearance in this story, which is an interesting choice by Miller. Instead, it's all Matt Murdock.

Murdock is having nightmares of the return of Elektra, only for her to be killed again by all those she killed as an assassin. Something of a Marvel zombies before Kirkman. In any case, Murdock continues to have the nightmares, night after night. He tries to distract himself with a hook-up with one time girlfriend, Karen, but she's not in NYC (apparently working on porno films in LA). He ends up in the dubious position of sleeping with a client who's as lonely and depressed as he is. This is a marginally better course of action than my much despised female student sleeping with her professor, but at least this is portrayed as an empty relationship that lasts no more than the one encounter.

In the meantime, the Hand is plotting to defeat a revived Elektra by killing Bullseye (who's in prison) and reviving him as a super assassin, much as they had once planned with Elektra. I really like the entire sequence of the Hand gleaning its course of action through the sacrifice of one of its own and, even more so, the Hand assassin coming into the prison to kill Bullseye with a ball point pen to the back of the head. It was reminiscent of some of the Joker sequences in The Dark Knight Returns, with the utter and complete sociopathic nature of Bullseye and his arresting shock of blonde hair, never seen when he's in his costume.

The story ends with another climactic battle between Daredevil, Bullseye and Elektra, though in a sort of mirror image to the original story, none of them are in costume this time.

I'll say one more thing about the art before I get to my one problem with the story. It has an incredible lusciousness to it. Where Sin City employs absolutely stark black and white with occasional splashes of color for emphasis, or The Dark Knight Returns is frenetic and garish, Elektra Lives Again uses a mostly muted pallet with many really detailed and colorful works, especially in the stained glass church window details. Even in the dark recesses of a corrupted church, set as a place of the revival of Bullseye, there are eye catching colors. This, of course, is Varley's work, and it's exemplary of the profession.

So, my one criticism? I can't for the life of me figure out how Elektra was brought back to life, within the four corners of this story. If I check out the convoluted history of the character in other sources, it seems that she was revived in what Murdock had thought was a failed attempt, but then those sources don't account for her fate at the end of this story. Regardless, as an otherwise self contained story, I would like to know just how Elektra returned to life. Murdock dreaming about her seems woefully inadequate as an explanation. I'm close to calling this a great story for its seemly interplay between art and writing, but for this one element.

On the other hand, it's one of the few superhero stories that employs nudity without cutesie tricks to disguise the naughty bits. Even more rarely, it has both male and female full frontal nudity. Most of the naked are dead, revived attackers of Elektra, including Bullseye, but there is the uppper body female nudity of Murdock's one night stand partner, so its not all ghoulish nudity, though given the nature of the sexual encounter, it's nearly as desperate.

In the end, I'd highly rcommend purchasing this story. Its succinct and economical.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Soul Of A Zombie

Earlier this year Jim wrote an 8 page comic book story but it never got published. As my Christmas present to Jim I hired a friend of mine, Corey Beahon, to illustrate Jim's comic (please check out Corey's website here). Now that Jim's received his copy I thought it'd be nice to share Jim's first "published" work with all of our readers here at Comics And... Enjoy! Please click on the image to see the larger format :)

This will eventually be set up in a webcomic format at a separate web location. Just as soon as I manage to work out some bugs :) I hope everyone's enjoying the winter holiday season!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

So… after all that waiting Christmas is finally here.

From all of us at Comics And… we wish you




And associated non-denominational greetings during the holiday season.

Offer available for limited time only. Certain restrictions apply. Void in Canada, New Jersey, and other places we consider third world countries… just because.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Christmas Holiday

While the Christmas holiday is a time filled with joy and happiness, it also comes with a fair amount of stress. One of the main sources of Christmas stress comes from the combining of holiday traditions. Wife and I both grew up with very strong Christmas traditions, and we both want to see those traditions passed on to the kids. In case you haven't noticed, Wife and I are both fairly strong willed, so we've inched towards mutual agreement as to what "our" traditions would be over the years.

We've had discussions about how to string the lights on the tree. For awhile, this was an annual battle. I would put the lights in straight lines on the tree, and Wife would follow behind me adding more lights and wrapping them around branches. Now, I untangle all the lights, and walk behind her while she strings. In exchange, I’m allowed to pack the suitcases when we go on vacation without interference. It is a fair trade.

We've had discussions about whether the top of the tree should be an angel or a star. I always had the star, and I liked the star. However, I was trumped by “this was my Grandma’s angel. She gave it to me out of all the grandchildren.” I can’t compete with that so we have an angel.

But, the biggest discussion has always been whether there should be presents under the tree prior to Christmas. I always had presents under the tree, and Wife never did. Wife had a good point... the nagging is greatly reduced if there aren’t any presents. And while that's true, the tree just doesn't look complete to me without presents. Every year, I nag, whine, and cajole until Wife caves and puts presents under the tree. And, every year she hates doing it.

So, the other night before dinner, we put out the presents. It was only a few days before Christmas, the kids are getting older, and I assured Wife that nothing could go wrong. It would be fine. Nothing could possibly go wrong. Right?

The kids descended upon the tree like a pack of rabid dogs. There was a flurry of activity while every box was examined and scrutinized. I noticed Girl closely examining one box in particular. Suddenly, Boy darted off into the other room and came back with a box. There were comparisons and many hushed whispers until Girl walked over to Wife. She stood there, holding a small box, and announced, "This box is the same size as the one Boy got last Christmas. That means I'm getting a Nintendo for Christmas!" and ran off excited as could be.

Yup, you know what happened next. I looked over at Wife, and she was staring at me with her arms crossed. I think her foot was tapping, too. I, of course, couldn’t believe it. Just 10 minutes before, I had said to her, “Nothing can happen! It’s a bunch of boxes with paper on them. What could possibly happen? It’s not like they can guess what’s in the presents!” That’s all it was. 10 minutes. I don’t think I’ve ever been proven wrong that quickly before.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Marvel Preview Review for February Part 3 of 3

Today, the conclusion...

Covers by BOB HALL
Collecting WEST COAST AVENGERS (1984) #1-4, IRON MAN ANNUAL #7 and AVENGERS #250 -- plus material from AVENGERS #239, #243-244 and #246; and AVENGERS WEST COAST #100. 208 PGS./ $29.99
Lee: This book poses a unique problem for me. On one hand, I liked the WCA mini-series and first year or so of the series. It isn’t great by any stretch but it is light and fluffy superhero action. But this collection isn’t all WCA. It’s stuff collected from all over the place including bits and pieces of issues. It makes no sense. Why Marvel just couldn’t collect this as the mini-series and the first 6 or so issues of the regular series is beyond me.
Jim: I have no clue. I can only assume the storyline they are piecing together is being used in an upcoming arc in current continuity.

Collecting AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1962) #394; SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN (1976) #217; SPIDER-MAN (1990) #51-53; SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED (1993) #7; WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #117-119 and SPIDER-MAN: THE LOST YEARS #0-3.432 PGS./Rated T+ …$34.99
Collecting CABLE & DEADPOOL #1-18. 440 PGS./$39.99
Lee: And, now that Marvel is producing massive hc’s on a regular basis, they can start producing massive tpb’s too! These are both huge books collection a whole lot of issues all at once. Now, if they would reprint a series that I cared about more I might actually buy them.
Jim: Marvel is trying all sorts of different formats. As a collector I prefer some level of consistency. As for stuff you actually want to read Marvel is running out of that material.

The Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort, or H.A.T.E. (a subsidiary of the Beyond Corporation©) put NEXTWAVE together to fight Bizarre Weapons of Mass Destruction. When NEXTWAVE discovers that H.A.T.E. and Beyond© are terrorist cells themselves, and that the BWMDs were intended to kill them, they are less than pleased. In fact, they are rather angry. So they make things explode. Lots of things. Starring Monica Rambeau (formerly Captain Marvel and Photon), Aaron Stack (Machine Man), Tabitha Smith (X-Force’s Meltdown), monster-hunter Elsa Bloodstone and The Captain! If you like anything, you will LOVE NEXTWAVE! BOOM! This new collection also includes all the hilarious letters pages! 312 PGS./$34.99
Lee: I already have this in hc but if you haven’t read Nextwave before then you need this. It was an excellent series that was just great. And unlike a many of Ellis’s other series actually had an ending. Well worth the $35.
Jim: But this is the first time the entire series is being collected, which is what I was waiting for.

Written, Penciled, Cover by HOWARD CHAYKIN
This volume also includes stories from Fortune’s earliest days in the Marvel U and Howard Chaykin’s Dominic Fortune digital comic, for the first time in print! Collecting DOMINIC FORTUNE #1-4, DOMINIC FORTUNE DIGITAL COMIC #1-6, MARVEL PREMIERE #56 and material from MARVEL PREVIEW #2.
Lee: Ok, this is a classic mis-pick that’s morphing into something else. First, the only reason I picked this was because I thought it was the early, early Chaykin DF material. It’s not, it’s just two very old issues and stuff from last month. I’m sure it’s fine. But the Digital Comic is something else entirely. It’s written by Dean Motter with art by Greg Scott! That’s ‘conveniently’ forgotten in the ad copy. I would not be happy to find out this wasn’t all Chaykin when I got the book. And, as a topic for another day…a digital comic subscription is $5/month. Seriously???? That’s $60 a year (I’m a math genius). That’s a rip off.
Jim: I believe the digital comic subscription gives you access to thousand of old Marvel titles and multiple current books and digital exclusives. It is not for one comic.

Written by DAN JURGENS
Collecting THOR (1998) #9-13 and THOR ANNUAL 1999.184 PGS./$24.99.
Lee: This is one of the classic runs on Thor and Marvel is just putting it out in paperback. This seriously needs a hardcover! Maybe a big hc like Iron Man is getting this month. That would be cool.
Jim: I never read Jurgens run on Thor. If it was good this might be something for me to pick up.

Collecting DAREDEVIL (1964) #101-125 and MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #3.488 PGS./$19.99
Lee: This was an interesting time for Daredevil. He was still good but quickly sliding into mediocrity. This is ok and worth reading if you can find it cheap. But, very soon, Marvel will get to the Miller DD run and I’m excited to see Miller’s work in b&w.
Jim: Not in an Essential format I'm not. If you want Marvel to do Miller in B&W, they need to do it right. This period was more crappy then good.

Lee: Same old, same old for new issues but a banner month for trades. Between the Avengers Masterworks and Death of Captain Marvel, I'm loving it.
Jim: Still too much of what we are happy about is stuff we read years ago and not enough of it is excitement about new books.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Marvel Preview Review for February Part 2 of 3

Continued from Yesterday...

Written by SCOTT REED
Meet a new monster for a new age, and a challenger to the warring Kings of the Cosmos...he is Hiro-Kala, SON OF HULK, and this young apocalyptic visionary has a destructive destiny: obliterate the Universe! This monsterous Son of Hulk has been abducted to Jarella’s sub-atomic world deep in the Microverse, where his father once found love and acceptance. Now he must battle an invasion force of murderous aliens…even if it means unlocking a new, horrifying power within him that can never be controlled. Book one of “THE CONQUEST OF JARELLA’S WORLD”, a mind-breaking adventure from critically acclaimed writer, Scott Reed.32 PGS./$3.99
Jim: So my friend Rusty has been singing the praises of this book and as it joins the Realm of Kings story line I will try out issue #1 of this series. The Hulk for a long term character used to have one of the cleaner histories in comics. Now with multiple colored hulks (ripping off what Johns was doing) and various children running around the Hulk is now mired in continuity hell.
Lee: I'm not sure the colored Hulks are ripping off Johns. That's really stretching it. But, I do agree that the Hulk line is getting stretched thin. And, why do we have Hulk children floating around? It still seems like a silly idea to me.

Written by MARK MILLAR
Pencil/Covers by JOHN ROMITA JR.
The greatest super hero comic of all-time is finally here! Have you ever wanted to be a super hero? Dreamed of donning a mask and just heading outside to some kick-ass? Well, this is the book for you--the comic that starts where other super hero books draw the line. KICK-ASS is realistic super heroes taken to the next level. Miss out and you're an idiot! Collecting KICK-ASS #1-8.
Lee: The movie has already been made and trailers abound on the internet so I’m surprised it’s taken this long for the hc to see print. Normally I would avoid something as over the top violent as this is, but I think I’m caving to the hype. Somewhere this went from being just violent to being cool violent.
Jim: Well any reader of this site knows I think this missed cool and went to pornographic violence, but there is a part of me that understands the appeal. I think the hard cover had to wait until the comic was completed.

Collecting INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #1-19.344 PGS./Rated A …$39.99
Lee: Now isn’t this interesting, a 300 page $40 hc. This makes the already expensive Masterworks look even more expensive by comparison. I know this is only being done for the movie but I like this size collection, less than omnibus but more than Masterworks. Very cool.
Jim: This is a very cool format and makes you wonder why more books can't be done this way.

Collecting X-FORCE #1-11. 264 PGS./$29.99
Lee: Not that I care about X-Force but between Iron Man and this, there appears to be a trend towards longer more complete collections. It will be very interesting to see if this replaces the premier 6 issue hc’s.
Jim: I hate the 6 issue hardcover and love the oversized 12 issue formats that have usually been done, so if this is that, then I'm all for it. Not this book itself, but the format.

Written by ROY THOMAS
Collecting THE AVENGERS #89-100
Lee: One of the best runs on Avengers ever! The Kree-Skull war really started here and was been mined by future writers for a million other stories. Add a rare super hero Windsor-Smith story in issue #100 and this is great. If you only buy one masterwork this year, you should get this one.
Jim: Agreed, agreed, agreed.

overs by JIM STARLIN
Lee: Another one of the seminal moments in Marvel history. This is a great collection and I am absolutely getting it!
Jim: It is hard when I agree whole heartily with something. It was some of Jim Starlin's best work and Captain Marvel has actually remained dead.

The conclusion tomorrow

Monday, December 21, 2009

Marvel Preview Review for February Part 1 of 3

Lee: Another month, another wonderful selection of books by Marvel. Actually, quite a lot of cool reprint books.
Jim: It is said somehow that we both seem to look forward more to reprints then the new stuff. Somehow that seems wrong or we are just old.

Pencils & Cover by MIKE DEODATO JR.
SIEGE BLOCKBUSTER TIE-IN!! The secrets of the Sentry are revealed but is it too late? Is this a hero reborn or a eulogy? The most pivotal moment in this controversial character’s life yet is here, and how it affects the siege on Asgard will leave you breathless. 32 PGS./$3.99
Lee: Seriously, does anyone care about the Sentry anymore? Somehow, in his short existence, Marvel has managed to make his origin even more convoluted and complicated than 90% of the heroes that first appeared in the 1960’s.
Jim: I enjoyed Paul Jenkins mini-series about the Sentry. It was a cool exploration about a Superman type character, but it was good as a one shot. Marvel started using him for real when Thor was gone and now it is a hot mess.

Written by ANGE Adapted by PAUL BENJAMIN
Art and Covers by ALBERTO VARANDA
No one knows why dragons have appeared in this word of heroes, but their very presence is re-shaping reality. Their influence destroys everything, transforming men and beasts into monsters: a curse known as the Veill. Only virgin women are free of this curse and can get close enough to these terrors to kill them. And so, the Order of the Dragon Knights was created. Trained from childhood, they fight against all odds, including a world that refuses to accept them as women of power, the very same society they swore to protect. They fight to the death, because if they don't, their entire world is doomed. 48 PGS./Mature - $5.99
Lee: When it comes to costume design no one can beat the Europeans. Why bother with extra metal protecting your parts when you can just have them hanging out. So, the plot is half naked women must battle dragons. This is awesome!
Jim: Half naked women fighting dragon is an awesome concept. Of course if they are half naked won't they lose their virginity faster and then they can't fight the terrors.

Written by DANIEL WAY
“The Legend of Hitman Monkey”You’re digging him in this month’s issue of DEADPOOL and you want to know more about him? How about his origin story? A troubled soul, set upon a path of vengeance he does not understand. An assassin without equal, trained in the most secret of killing techniques. A flesh and blood specter, haunting the killers of the world. A monkey…with a gun. Bear witness as the legend is born. Hitman Monkey.32 PGS./$3.99
Jim: Even for a big monkey fan like myself this just seems too absurd to be real. Plus Deadpool as great comedy has never clicked for me.
Lee: This is definitely targeting towards one very narrow market segment. I don't see the humor either but I'm not a regular reader of Deadpool.

Written by JEPH LOEB
Pencils & Cover by ART ADAMS
Who—or what—is Ultimate X? The answers and even more secrets arrive in the all new ULTIMATE X ongoing bi-monthly series from the superstar dream team of JEPH LOEB and ART ADAMS. Wolverine is dead. Captain America is a fugitive. The Fantastic Four disbanded. Lives have been destroyed and nothing can ever be the same—is there any hope left? It all begins with a search for a brand new character whose identity will leave jaws on the floor and change the Ultimate Universe forever. 32 PGS./$3.99
Lee: I’m not in high school anymore but aren’t the kids with the hoodies pulled all the way up and all dressed in black the ones that blow up schools???? This doesn’t make Wolverine(?) look cool. It makes him down right creepy.
Jim: Hoodie fever still seems to have some families in its grasp. Why I went to a Thanksgiving dinner (a day late) this year and everyone but me had a hoodie on.

DOOMWAR #1 (of 5)
Wakanda has been conquered, its Vibranium reserves plundered. Storm faces execution in the next 48 hours. And Dr. Doom stands triumphant. It will take the combined forces of the X-Men, the Fantastic Four and the two Black Panthers to stand against him. A war has begun that will pit the world's most relentless super-villain against a collection of the world's most powerful super heroes -- one that will span the globe, offering twists and turns and surprise players (hello, Deadpool!) that neither side will see coming.40 PGS./$3.99
Lee: And so begins the next generation of events. Marvel is not doing ‘mega-events’ anymore, instead they are doing ‘family events.’ Potato, Potatoe if you ask me. You are still being forced to buy more than one title to get a single story.
Jim: Is this a mini-event or just a mini-series. It maybe just a mini-series.

This Valentine’s Day, drop that box of chocolates and satisfy the inner romantic with an oversized helping of heartache! In these four spandex-ripping tales, the fabulous femmes of Marvel discover that there’s no such thing as love without tears…and that super powers won’t protect them from Cupid’s arrow! Will it be MJ Watson or Gwen Stacy that charges Peter Parker’s electrons? Can the girls of Nextwave survive a visit from the ghosts of boyfriends past? Is Snowbird in danger of letting her animal passions get the best of her? And must Dazzler choose between the stage and a certain fuzzy mutant hunk? Find out in this special filled with passion, power, and pain!40 PGS./Rated T+…$3.99
Jim: Okay I know comics have gotten a larger female fanbase then they used to have, but will this type of book be successful?
Lee: I think you need to redefine 'successful' for this type of book. It's not being produced to sell a 100k copies. It's definitely to attract readers. Or better yet, to get the fanboys to buy a book for their girlfriends who might then be converted to regular readers.

They saved the world in LOCKJAW & THE PET AVENGERS…what’ve they been doing since? Find out in this super-sized special featuring Lockjaw, Redwing, and the rest of your favorite Pet Avengers take center-stage in their own spotlight adventures! Featuring an all-new, NEVER before seen savage tale of ZABU and a FROG THOR prequel leading into the team's triumphant return in PET AVENGERS, onsale next month!40 PGS./$3.99
Lee: I don’t mind these stories in one shots. In fact, they’re quite fun. But the solicitation implies there’s going to be an ongoing series starting next month. Are you kidding me? And who does Marvel think is going to support that?
Jim: I would hope it is just another mini-series. Marvel is the king of if it sold once, let's do it again and again and again and again. Remember the Marvel Zombie series?