Friday, December 31, 2010

The Peanuts Collection: Treasury From The Worlds Most Beloved Comic Strip

I’m lucky enough to have the week between Christmas and New Year’s off which allows me to catch up on all my chores around the house. My favorite chore involves reading, and reviewing, the stack of books that has grown next to the bed. The first book I read was The Peanuts Collection: Treasury From The Worlds Most Beloved Comic Strip by Nat Gertler.

What drew me to this book was the fact that it was going to talk about all the “stuff” of Peanuts. Let’s not kid ourselves, if you read comics there is a high chance you have all sorts of ancillary stuff related to comics whether it be action figures, t-shirts, or even a poster or two. The Peanuts gang has been present in American culture for so long that a chance to see Peanuts “stuff” was just too much for me to resist.

Books like this are hard to do because it requires the author to place the significance of the ‘stuff’ in time, but not bog the reader down with to much information about the source material. Personally, I really wanted to see all the marketing gimmicks, games, t-shirts, toys, and what nots without getting into the minutia of Peanuts lore.

This book succeeds in making Peanuts 'stuff' interesting and exciting. It is brief, and concise, in the best of all possible ways. It is broken into chapters dealing with a theme, such as Christmas, Halloween, or Sports, and the primary characters such as Charlie Brown, Linus, and Lucy. This allows Gertler to present some interesting trivia about the subject and showcase how the character, or theme, was marketed. For example, everyone knows that for years, Snoopy was the spokesman for Metlife Insurance but did you know that the Peanuts gang was used in an advertising campaign for the Ford Mustang.

Another great aspect about this book is the fact that it is a giant pop up book with pop ups that actually fall out of the book… in a good way. The book contains many examples of materials that Schultz produced. There are reproductions of Schultz’s Christmas cards, book covers, little league schedules, and my personal favorite, the cover of a 45 entitled Jazz Impressions of “A Boy Named Charlie Brown” by Vince Guaraldi.

This is a slip cased, coffee table book that will appeal to both the casual and diehard Peanuts fan. It is full of large photos of Schultz and the strip, along with all the memorabilia. As an art lover, I really appreciated the examples of the art of Peanuts, both full strips and strips in draft.

The casual Peanuts lover will enjoy this book because of the bright pictures and the simplicity of the presentation. It's the perfect way to enjoy Peanuts without having to buy 10 different books on the subject. The die hard Peanuts collector can enjoy this because it’s a wonderful oversized coffee table book that can be left out to show visitors. It isn’t overwhelming but the perfect way to showcase a collection that likely includes an entire room dedicated to Snoopy.

In summary, this book isn’t an indepth analysis of the form of Schultz’s art and how the characters, and strip, was developed. It isn’t even an breakdown of what made the strip so appealing. This is an unadorned love letter to the Peanuts gang and all the stuff they were attached too.

You can visit Nat Gertler's website about Peanuts books here and read his blog about everything else Peanuts here. Both are highly recommended.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

The New Year is a time for renewal and self improvement! Join Comics and ... as we take a look at the New Year’s Resolutions of some of our favorite superheroes!

Green Lantern (John Stewart): Avoid being killed in the launch of a new title or creative team.

Robin (Damian Wayne): Ask father about this talk about “the birds and the bees,” eliminate birds and bees.

Green Lantern (Hal Jordan): Prove I’m the Greatest Green Lantern Ever by being the best Red, Blue, Orange, and White Lantern I can be.

Captain America (Bucky Barnes): Live up to Steve’s legacy, figure out why everyone keeps asking if I’m from Puerto Rico.

Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner): Look at art on more planets, stop snickering when people call Hal the Greatest Green Lantern Ever.

The Flash (Barry Allen): Do something interesting.

Green Lantern (Guy Gardner): Drink 52 new beers, prove Barack HUSSEIN Obama’s REAL place of birth, get the Guardians out of my Health Care.

Steve Rogers: Start a Myspace page that all these whippersnappers keep going on about.

Elektra: Find more practical weapons.

Dr. Light (Kimiyo Hoshi): Avoid being killed in the launch of a new title or creative team.

Daredevil (Matt Murdock): Start drinking.

Vixen: Avoid being killed in the launch of a new title or creative team.

Green Arrow (Oliver Queen): Have only one bold, new creative direction for the year once this forest thing fails.

Batman (Bruce Wayne): Continue to maximize corporate synergy opportuities while utilizing brand identity to exploit vulnerabilities in crime’s organizational framework

Steel: Avoid being killed in the launch of a new title or creative team. ...uh oh.

Volstagg: Verily, make my presence known at the gymnasiums of Midgard to mold mine body to delight all those in my voluptuous presence.

Hank Pym: It’s a long list.

Superman: Stop sulking. Throw away hoodies.

Thor: Appear in only one book?! I say thee nay!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Top Ten in 2010

I have been writing this column in my head for quite some time. As I got closer to year end I keep thinking what series are going to make my best of list. There are no rules for this top ten, it is the books, one shots, mini-series, whatever that I think are the best that the comic book industry had to offer in 2010 and I chose 10 of them. In no particular order I will give a list and my rational for why they made it.

American Vampire – This was an easy choice, Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuqueque have sold me on a genre that I would have told you was impossible for me to care about. Something about the whole Twilight and True Blood phenomena had turned me off on the whole Vampire thing. Going in I thought I was not going to like this and I was dead or perhaps undead wrong. Scott Snyder with Stephen King (yes that Stephen King) each did a separate story. King conveying the origin of the first American Vampire Skinner Sweet and Scott doing his creation proud telling the story of Pearl who is our second American Vampire. King did a great job, but Scott shows a passion and intelligence in writing comics like very few writers I have seen. Scott seems to have been waiting all his life for a shot at writing comics and he is a true rising star and a talent in this field that is one to watch. The marriage between word and pictures has been outstanding. It has exposition where needed, letting the artist convey the message when needed and everything in-between. Rafael has gone from being the Blue Beetle artist to showing off how much he could do in a book that calls for more realism and a darker mood. Each issue Rafael has been growing as an artist and I can’t wait to see what he can do next. I went from a doubting Thomas to a true believer. Now often I might call this a seminal piece of work, but I suspect (and Detective Comics is my proof) that Scott has a lot of great stories for us in the months and years to come and should have many seminal runs on series of his own and company owned. Bottom line this book is one that should be on your list.

Killer Modus Vivendi – Matz and Luc Jacamon’s follow up to one of the best books from a couple of years ago. Since this is a translated edition we know it is completed, but I can’t wait for the second half of this book. The Killer is a morally ambiguous person who after retiring has gotten bored and got back into the game. Where the first volume was a narrative that gave us a non-judgmental look at an assassin this book has dived into all sorts of politics. In many ways it is still giving us a picture of a morally ambiguous set of values, it is just that we get to see countries as well as the Killer have them in spades. Matz shows us all sorts of situations between countries and how each side may view the other and it reinforces the idea that history is a story told by the winners. Too often atrocities committed by nations are sweep under the carpet for various reasons both right and wrong. At the same time Matz is espousing this via the Killer we can often see the wheels turning in his head as he now has a son to care about. The book manages to do all of this and keep up the action at the same time. Jacamon’s art work is deceptive in that you almost don’t notice it. I know that sounds odd, but it has such a strong narrative flow to it that you have to stop and look at the work to appreciate all the camera angles and page design that makes this book come alive. Go buy the collected editions of the first series and you may have to wait for a collection of the first part of this series, but when you are caught up you can wait with me for the next part of the story.

Echo – Hard to say enough good things about this book. Terry Moore who has Strangers in Paradise already under his belt is producing a series that could easily be considered one of the best graphic novels of all time. Moore is creating illustrated literature. The story of Julie Martin and Anna Trotter is a science fiction novel in the best tradition of putting us just a little bit into the future and then running with some very interesting and cool ideas. I think what strikes me the most is how real he makes his characters. I feel like I could meet Julie, Dillon and Ivy and immediately know them. This is seminal work and one that I believe will stand the test of time. A lot of writers would do well to look at this and remember the most powerful stories have a beginning, middle and an end. I hate that it is ending, but love that it has an ending.

Parker The Outfit – Darwyn Cooke blew me away with his first adaptation, but I think this one was even better. I’d rather get one full novel a year from Cooke then see him do six or eight issues of a regular comic. Cooke is a master story teller. His animated style of art works surprisingly well considering the source material he is adapting is a noir type action story. In this adaptation when Parker calls in his friends to hit the Outfit each job that they pull is done in a different story telling style. The true brilliance of this book is that if someone wants to make a movie of the Parker books the entire screenplay and storyboards are already completed. You could literally shot a movie from this adaptation shot by shot straight from the book and it would be a winning movie. I have personally cast Vince Vaughn as Parker as long as I can get him to pull off the tough guy bit and actually act as opposed to walking through his movies being Vince Vaughn. I was heartbroken when I saw in the back of this book that it will be 2012 before the next one. I know Darwyn will be putting forth his best effort, so I can wait.

Walking Dead – It is hard to know what else to say about this long running series. It has been a book that is a great character study of how people may react in an impossible situation of dealing with a world after an apocalypse. A book that continues to garner fans as the series lives on. Now with the advent of a successful TV series being made about the series its popularity has soared. It is nice to see a creator owned project do so well and a creator who could have just as easily ended up on the scrap heap of comics has become a minor celebrity outside the world of comics. Robert Kirkman has worked for all the success he has garnered. It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving person from where I’m sitting. All that being said he still pours his heart and soul into Walking Dead and Invincible giving comic fans great entertainment each and every month.

Scalped – Jason Aaron’s seminal work and it was his first series. Scalped was good when it started and it has just continued to get better and better and better. One thing this year that blew me away was the fantastic single issue about an older couple who lived on the reservation. In the span of 22 pages we learned who this people were and come to care about them, one hell of an accomplishment. Dash and all of his problems, Red Crow and all that he tries to do and all the rest that goes on in-between makes this series an emotional roller coaster that you can’t wait to get back on each and every month. The raw emotional power that Jason puts forth is an almost physical force that you feel as you read the chapters. Dead Mothers was a very emotional and powerful arc. This book would be a hit TV series on AMC or HBO if they just stay true to the source material. The main artist RM Guerra deserves a ton of credit as all of that powerful script and raw emotion would not be half as palatable without his beautiful artwork. If you aren’t reading Scalped you are doing yourself a disservice as this book is going down as one of the best of all time.

Locke & Key – Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriquez are crafting a wonderful tale of fantasy, horror and childhood in a 36 issue masterpiece. Fox has green lighted a pilot episode for a TV series based on the book, but I’m not sure they can do this series the justice it deserves. Joe Hill has crafted a series that I put into the graphic literature category (along with many others on this list). It was a revelation as when I started this book I had no idea how much I would love it. Bode and his older siblings are characters that I’m constantly rooting for and hope they can beat the darkness and evil of the main bad guy/girl. One of the best things about this book while there is an overall story almost every issue manages to stand on its own. The magic of the keys keeps this book steeped in both the fantasy and horror genre, but never overpower that the story is about the Locke family.

Daytrippers – The best story and best philosophy about life and death I have read in a long time. The story of Bras and his many deaths is one that will stay with me for a long time. One thing this book did is made me sit down and actually contemplate my own life and brought into sharp relief my own views on life and death. It is especially poignant as I have never had to deal with the death of anyone close to me. Three of my grandparents died when I was very young and I was never close to my other grandmother and she died while I lived out of town. My parents are both very old (88 and 91) and I will eventually have to deal with their deaths and this book made me think of those type of things and many others. Not always the most pleasant of thoughts, but a book that made me think and made life sweeter. It defined life though death and makes one value life all the more.

Grant Morrison’s Batman – Since Grant’s work winds through Batman, Batman and Robin, Batman The Return of Bruce Wayne and Batman Inc. it has to be called Grant’s Batman. What I find so appealing about what Grant has done is that he has put Bruce Wayne through some personal crisis that has really impacted him. In Batman Inc. this is a different Brue Wayne whose journey through time has caused him to have an epiphany. It is great to see that the storyline was not one to just create an adventure, but one that had a fundamental impact on the character. In the midst of that he has also given us the most dynamic duo of all with Dick Grayson as Gotham’s Batman and Damian as a great Robin to Dick’s Batman. In many ways it has reinvigorated the entire Batman line and at this moment I’m enjoying almost every book under the Bat banner. The downside is the way DC is handling Grant’s work. In Grant’s book some things happen that have no impact on the other books. We also have DC doing Battle for the Cowl and Bruce Wayne the Return as mini-events that in hindsight show limited coordination with what Grant is doing, it almost gets an Elseworld feel to it. Finally DC has forced me to buy all of Grant’s work on Batman as a series of smallish (six issue hardcover collections) where Marvel does a great job collecting runs like Aaron on Ghost Rider in nice complete collections or multiple volumes if the run is too long. None of that diminishes that Grant has made Batman a character that we are constantly talking about as fans and that was not the case before Grant. I hope Grant stays on Batman for years to come.

Doom Patrol – I love this series. I almost dropped the book and skipped an issue or two and then read about the Rita Farr issue and picked it up. It took some time for Giffen to get this book firing on all cylinders but it is. Giffen has created the next great run on these characters that is holding up to the original and Grant’s fantastic run on the book. I think it took me awhile to catch on because we have super hero style art with an almost Vertigo type take on the characters. Rita has been retro-conned into being as big of a freak as any of the characters, Mento’s creepiness is now off the charts, Larry is great as comic relief and a real character, the Chief is a egomaniacal manipulator of the worse sort and Cliff a robot with a human brain is the soul of the team. This book is one that I can’t wait to read every month.
Honorable Mention and Runner Up – If none of the top ten can accept the role or have a fall from Grace - Thor The Mighty will serve in their place. It only got eight issues, but it was the best interpretation of the character I have seen in a long time and made Thor more relatable than ever before. It was a lyrical series that will go down as a classic.

So it was a top eleven instead of a top ten, but if you remember I said there were no rules. Tons of other great stuff and series that I enjoy and love but these are the ten that rose to the top in my mind. I like to thank all the creators behind these books and their publishers for providing some truly outstanding entertainment in 2010. Can’t wait for 2011.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Random Thoughts

Bagley going back to Marvel just seems right. I know that logically creators can work for either of the Big Two but certain creators thrive better in certain companies. Bagley seems to be forever linked to Marvel and his run on Ultimate Spider-Man will be hard to beat. Bagely in my mind fits better at Marvel. Now that he was gone he will probably be appreciated a little more at Marvel and he can also be satisfied that the grass is not always greener.

Marvel, please stop making so many damn mini-series just because a movie is coming out and you want to put a bunch of trades in bookstores. I understand the marketing ploy, just stop breaking the backs of the average comic fan and the local retailer who is ordering stuff to be full service and it will not sell. On a personal note a refuse to buy any of the series and I understand a lot of retailers have wised up and are only ordering what customers had ordered.

The economy is in the tank and we are in a depression regardless of what the phony government numbers are calling it. In order to survive the retailers and publishers have to smarter, so how about we just build the series on strong stories and stop all the stunts and events. The event thing makes a regular series seem pointless after every issue is suppose to have a big impact. Heck I start thinking why am I reading Gotham City Sirens or any such book since there is no point to it. Leading me to that type of thinking drives me out of reading most comics. I rather be back in the mindset of reading a series because it is a good story, Scott Sndyer’s first Detective issue is a great recent example of just telling a good story.

Stan Lee’s time has passed. I loved Stan Lee’s stuff when I was a kid and it was great for many years. Now the stuff reads like dated tripe and his corny hyperbole is an anachronism. I can’t believe these companies think that an eighty plus year old is a draw for a book. Eventually time passes all of us by and Stan’s time is past. Better to be remembered for what you did that was great instead of cranking out pabulum. Reminds me of sports stars who don’t know when t quit.

What has happened to Geoff Johns? Two years ago this guy was one of my favorite writers, now it feels like he is phoning it in. I know he has got a busy schedule and his name is now on every DC book, but didn’t he make his bones by being a great writer. Too much of his work is dragged out and playing into a bigger canvas down the road. I want him to get back to just telling us stories and occasionally remembering the super heroes used to have secret identities which gave a fan something relatable. I can imagine being a newspaper reporter I can’t imagine flying in space under my own power. See Power Girl by Palmiotti and Gray for the way to allow someone to have a “real life” outside of being a hero.

The Red Circle characters by DC were badly mishandled this time. JMS doing an issue to start things off was okay, but there should have been a co-writer with JMS so that each first issue was the start of a series and each series should have been $3. Heck the better way would have been to introduce the characters inside the DCU and let the characters build up a natural following. The Thunder Agents launch is conceptually a better idea, doing just one comic and letting the creator run with it. If the series is successful maybe do some mini-series on the individual characters. DC only needs to look at the Charlton characters to understand how long it takes to make them a natural part of the DCU.

IDW’s infestation has zombies causing a cross-over between GI Joe, Star Trek and Transformers. It has to be one of the worst ideas I have ever heard. Even with DnA doing the writing I can’t believe this series will be any good. I’m sure as heck not going to lay out $4 for an issue involving this. IDW is better than this.

The only TV I watch in “real time” is football so most of the ads I see are during football games and since we are near Christmas I have learned that women only really want jewelry or expensive cars. Jewelry is the big winner with women apparently willing to do almost anything and/or really love us guys if we just buy them pretty and expensive stones. After growing up in a time where women have started to take the reins of power in more and more places and I have had female bosses quite often, it is nice to know they are all still shallow and just want pretty things.

Why can’t DC publish collections of all their great and oddball science fiction stuff from the sixties and fifties? I need a Captain Comet and the Space Ranger collection in my library.

How often can DC announce something and then change it up. Nick Spencer was announced as the Supergirl writer and almost immediately pulled off. If Bob Harras can at least fix all of the crazy announcements and rapid change of plans under Didio’s reign he will have done something.

Memo to creators a limited series concept is often a good idea. See Irredeemable as a good concept of a limited nature mucked up by making it unlimited. See Echo as a great example of doing a complete story. Let’s hope Halcyon understands it is a limited scope story.

What is it that every New Year goes by faster then the one before. Personally I believe it is a percentage thing. When I was four years old a year was 25% of my life at 50 it is 2% of my life.

Happy Holidays

Sorry to disappoint but as much as I have tried to find time to read of late I haven't managed to squeeze it in and thus have nothing of interest to review. On top of it I'm fighting off some sort of stomach virus and honestly don't have it in me to come up with a filler post. Many apologies and I hope everyone had a very nice holiday weekend.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Week of Dec 22 in Review

When I read about Marvel’s next event I was fearful. I was scared it was going to drive me off the Marvel books I like right now by involving them in some convoluted mega cross-over. This event will change everything like every other event changed everything. I’m so tired of this it just drives me more and more to other companies and Vertigo material. Of course I read where DC is relooking their Vertigo contracts and they could impact that line. Comic sales are down, companies are hunkering down in some aspects and the outlook looks a little bleak. As a society we are going to have to learn to live within our means and that means some dramatic shifts in what we do and buy. Heck I’m contemplating bailing on most comics and Marvel is one target to drop the entire line based on this type of events, especially when they interrupt storylines I’m enjoying. Of course my other choice is to cut out all hard covers and trades and I would be spending less. Tough choices are ahead for me and our country as we have to decide what our true priorities are.

Legion of Super Heroes #8 – Writer Paul Levitz, Pencils Yilidray Cibar and Daniel HDR, Inks Wayne Faucher & Bob Wiacek

What I Liked – The Legion election. I have always enjoyed the aspect that the readers pick the leader and the writer has to deal with it. I have a strong feeling Levitz was not expecting who won and now he has to make some adjustments to what he was planning. It is the one book that actually accepted fan input and the election often drove plotlines in unexpected ways.

What I Didn’t Like – I’m still not back into this book yet and if it was not for my undying love for these characters I would have abandoned this series awhile ago. Slowly I’m starting to accept what is being done, but this is not going down as a great run at this point. At least this is a Legion I can live with and feel I know them a little.

Power Girl #19 - Writer Judd Winick, Art Sami Basri

What I Liked – I like Power Girl, I enjoyed her reminiscing about the JLI and thought her running the JSA was great. Basri’s art work is well done and is a plus for this book.

What I Didn’t Like – I dropped this book and jumped back in two months later. I’m still not onboard with this series either, but Winick is winning me over bit by bit. I’m not happy with the Max Lord game where they remember him and then forget him all over again. It is getting old and being dragged out way too long.

Fantastic Four #586 – Writer Jonathan Hickman, Pencils Steve Epting, Inks Rick Maygar

What I Liked – It feels like the long payoff is coming home soon. The idea that one of the FF is going to die adds a great element of the unknown and danger to this series where none has existed before. I’m guessing my favorite the Human Torch bites the dust as Hickman has not used him that often and he seems to have the least potential for future story lines. Working against that theory is Jonny has the most potential for growth and is the biggest blank slate, which could be appealing for a writer.

What I Didn’t Like – Epting’s art looked rushed and was not his best job, I’m guessing he is rushing to give himself extra time for next’s month big death issue. The use of Nu-Earth is annoying as I did not follow Millar’s run on the FF and skipped part of Hickman’s run so I’m a little lost on that part.

Cyclops #1 – Writer Matz, Art Luc Jacamon

What I Liked – The creators behind Killer, I will try anything with their names on it. A good start to a fantastic new series that explores what our world may look like in 2054. It focuses on how Wars and entertainment lines may blur, but there is a lot more to this series. Underneath the tag line there is ideas regarding nationality, education, employment, corporations and more. I’m all in on this book and can’t wait to read more.

What I Didn’t Like – The futuristic airplane was a little over the top, but it is a very minor quibble.

Secret Avengers #8 – Writer Ed Brubaker, Art Mike Deodato

What I Liked – I’m enjoying see Shang-Chi front and center in the MU again. I know there are issues with copyrights over Fu Manchu and this issue Ed cleverly renamed the Shang’s father to avoid that in the future. I just wish we could get a nice high quality reprint of the old Master of Kung Fu series. The overall story is a good one setting the Secret Avengers versus the Shadow Council and the art by Deodato is brilliant. I love his stuff and his camera angles and layouts are extremely dynamic, Mike is at the top of his game.

What I Didn’t Like – Sharon Carter as the typical damsel in distress. This is such an overused element in comics and Sharon is supposed to be a capable person but in the span of eight issues we have already seen her as more of a liability than anything else.

Invincible #76 – Writer Robert Kirkman, Pencils Ryan Ottley, Inks Cliff Rathburn

What I Liked – I’m enjoying the battle scenes in this book. Kirkman never forgets the young fan in me that still enjoys a neat out and out super hero fight. He plays to the adult in me by showing the violence has repercussion either due to gore or a character dying. Ryan Ottley always does a great job with page after page of great art, he is not a Neal Adam’s realist and he is not too cartoony and at this point he is the artist for Invincible. I loved the twist of Thragg deciding to leave Mark and his Dad alive.

What I Didn’t Like – Zilch.

Larfreeze Christmas Special – Writer Geoff Johns, Art Brett Booth

What I Liked – The story, the art, the fun, the joy, the bizarreness. I loved it as a true special and playing with the Christmas themes with Larfreeze was excellent. This is the type of one shot that is worth it as the creative team pulled out all the stops with plenty of extras including Larfreeze’s Christmas cookie recipe. I have given up on getting the 80 page anthology Christmas specials as often they have one good story and a lot of other stuff which is forgettable. This hit the mark.

What I Didn’t Like – Nada.

Batman Inc #2 – Writer Grant Morrison, Pencils Yanick Paquette, Inks Michael Lacombe

What I Liked – The pace of the story is perfect. Each one of these recruiting trips could have taken a six issue arc and we would be waiting for years to see the group Batman is gathering. Instead in the span of two issues we already have a Japanese Batman starting the program. The portrayal of Catwoman is also done well as she was still trying to steal things while helping out Bruce.

What I Didn’t Like – The art is not working for me. The art is done well, but either the inking is too heavy or the coloring is off but it feels like one or the other is detracting from what is otherwise a great penciling job.

American Vampire #10 – Writer Scott Snyder, Art Mateus Santolouco

What I Liked – I love getting a focus on Pearl. I fell in love with this character in the first arc and have no qualms about wanting to see more of her story. In fact Scott keeps adding great characters and you want to know their stories as well as follow Skinner. That is a sign of a great series and one that has the foundation to last as long as Fables. It was a nice surprise to see Hattie back and being used as an experiment by a European Vampire. Hattie is rock solid as a scary bad guy. Pearl’s story gets interesting this issue also as I love seeing her being at times the demure girl friend but more than willing to show that she can kick ass with the best of them. The art was a revelation also as adding another artist to a book is always scary but Mateus did a fantastic job and is similar enough to Rafael to keep the feel of the book the same. His one scene of Hattie burning down the gas station was great.

What I Didn’t Like – Nothing. In fact it just leaves me wanting more. Heck Scott should spin off some one-shots or three part mini-series so we can see what is happening with Cash and other characters already. Maybe Scott could do story outlines and let other writers help do more stories on these characters.

Side Note: In the span of 10 issues Scott has already developed enough of a cast that cannot only maintain a core series but has great potential to expand the world he has created. It just shows the depth of his storytelling.

Chew #16 – Writer John Layman, Art Rob Guillory

What I Liked – The whole concept is fun and outlandish and yet we continue to get great stories and twists you never expected. I mean the alien flaming letters in the sky was out of left field, but in this series it works. The cartoon style artwork is also a blessing as scenes of Mother Cluckers changing over the years were just flat out funny.

What I Didn’t Like – It is all good.

Stuff of Legend Volume II – The Jungle Part 3 – Writers Mike Raicht & Brian Smith, Art Charles Paul Wilson III

What I Liked – I love this series. The story has the quality of being a fairy tale or a great children’s story, but has the edge of scariness that most sanitized children’s books no longer have. At the same time the scope of this story has an almost Homeresque quality to it. The quest that the toys are on is taking more twist and turns that I ever imagined. The art by Charles Paul Wilson continues to be astounding. Not only is the actual drawing great stuff, but the book reads great.

What I Don’t Like – I just need the publishing frequency to be faster. If I was rich I would sponsor this book.

A few quick notes, Uncanny X-Men failed in their limited try out. This issue too much of caption Fraction’s cuteness and Land’s opened mouth screaming people and oh so cute smiles. Outsiders was back to its horrible stuff, but I will hang in as Giffen was off this issue. Note to self, only buy Outsiders with Giffen drawing and co-plotting the book.

That wraps another week and next week look light in terms of number of books so maybe I will have a chance to make remarks on every book I read.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


I was a government major and history minor in college, and I'm from Pennsylvania, so it should be no surprise to anyone that Timothy Truman's Wilderness: The True Story of Simon Girty, Renegade has been on my shelves since it came out in 1989 and 1990. Throw in my great affinity for Truman's Scout books and this was an easy pick for me.

When I was in high school I started reading Allan W Eckert's books about the US frontier of the 1700s, as well as books on Tecumseh, Black Hawk, and Blue Jacket. There was some mention of Simon Girty during the course of those books but nothing that stuck with me. Girty's story is engaging and complicated. To most of the early Americans, he was a traitor but his motivations were complex.

As a son of an Irish immigrant in 1750 his family was burned out of its settlement that was deemed by colonial authorities to be too far west and in Indian territory. Not long after, his father was killed by a drunken comrade, leaving his mother with 4 boys. She would re-marry and have another son, but her second husband was also killed, this time after the family was captured by Delaware Indians allied with the French. Rough times.

Simon Girty was 16 by this time. He was made to run a guantlet, which he survived. He was adopted by the tribe and lived as one of them for the next 4 years. From that point onward he would consider the tribes of Western Pennsylvania and Ohio his family, though he remained in touch with his brothers and often allied with colonists, British or both in various conflicts that never seemed to end in that area.

Anyone who thinks that American history is a straightforward tale of European settlement, conflict with Indians, independence from the UK, and more conflict with Indians is only partially correct. There were constantly shifting alliances. In Girty's early years the French were more often allied with the native tribes, especially during the French and Indian Wars. However, when the colonists rebelled, it was the English who became the closest allies of most of the tribes. But, not all. Some allied with the colonists. Add to that the conflicts among the colonies prior to and after the Revolutionary War and you have miasma.

In this life story the colonial conflict was between the Virginia and Pennsylvania factions as they fought for control of what's now Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. Both colonies claimed the area, and Girty was aligned with the Virginia faction, which eventually lost out. In fact, Girty had a propensity for choosing the loosing side. When the Revolution broke out he started with the colonists but many of the former Virginia faction ended up switching to the British side, in part because many of them were allied with the native tribes, either as adopted members or traders.

Of course, the Revolution ended after the surrender at Yorktown, but the war between the Americans and the tribes did not. Really, there was no respite at all.

Because he was on the wrong side of history, there were many attrocities attributed to Simon Girty. Truman goes to great length, and backs it up with a lot of documented evidence, to show that Simon Girty actually went out of his way to save many captives from being tortured and executed by the tribes. He also shows that the attrocities attributed to Girty are not well supported. Girty often wasn't even in the area when the attrocities occurred. Some of the attacks were actually the work of one of his brothers, an evidently vindictive and unstable man.

Girty ended up living a surprisingly long time, not only for that era but also for someone living on the frontier, where death was likely to crop up at any time. He died in 1818 at the age of 77. By then he'd fled to Canada and lived on a pension from the British. He was blind and cared for by a daughter.

These two books contain a lot of information. Truman stays away from dialog in favor of captions narrating what happened. When he does use dialog it tends to be either documented conversations people had or reasonable suppositions from the available evidence.

This is history as entertainment. It's a little known corner of American history. Violence, disease, and exposure were constant threats. Those who fought against the encroachment of "civilization" on another civilization were appalled by the felling of trees for farming, wholesale slaughter of game, and building of dirt roads. They'd probably think they were on another planet if they visited the area now. I wonder if they'd appreciate the irony of today's efforts to preserve the family farm when 200 years ago the family farm was the encroaching threat?

If you have any interest in history, or just a good story, this is an easy pick. Truman's art is wonderful, as always, and is heavy on historical accuracy. No anachronistic weaponry here.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Somethin' for Christmas

A long time ago, while at my Grandmother's house in Kansas, I remember playing the "Nuttin' for Christmas" song on an old 45. It was also at that house (in 1978) where I received one of my favorite Christmas presents, the Kenner Star Wars Death Star! Well, there's a line from that song, which I wanted to share with you:

I'm getting nuttin' for Christmas
'Cause I ain't been nuttin' but bad [1]

If you click the link (totally voluntary by the way), you'll understand why I brought it up. See, it ties into what I think makes Christmas really, really special. A few years ago we had a Holiday pod decorating contest at work and for it I created a simple star with the first verse of the song listed below on one side and the Peanuts quote on the other side. The song is actually an Easter song, but for me it summarizes Christmas perfectly (again, the links give even more explanation). No matter how "bad" you are, there's "somethin' for Christmas" for everyone.

God sent His Son -- they called Him Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive.
He lived and died to buy my pardon;
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.

Because He lives I can face tomorrow;
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because He lives. [2]

"That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown." [3]


1. Nuttin' For Christmas (S. Tepper, R. Bennett, 1955)

2. Because He Lives (Gloria and William J. Gaither, 1971)
3. Linus Van Pelt from A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Indies Preview Review for February 2011 Part 3 of 3

the final day...

Hill & Wang
Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth HC by (W) Jay Hosler (A) Kevin Cannon, Zander Cannon
Evolution, the most accessible graphic work on this universally studied subject, takes the reader from earth's primordial soup to the vestigial structures, like the coccyx and the male nipple, of modern humans. Once again, the award-winning illustrations of the Cannons render the complex clear and everything cleverly comedic. 160 pgs. $18.95 I highly recommend visiting Jay Hosler’s science blog here. He’s currently discussing photo synthesis…. And it’s actually interesting!
Lee: And for those with an interest in learning, or with children, this book is for you. This is a clear, concise cliff notes version of evolution. Informative and entertaining at the same time, what more can a person ask for? And, in case you didn't I highly recommend the science blog because that's cool too.
Gwen: THIS IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I may, of course, be biased as my degree is in anthropology.

Humanoids Inc
Legend of the Scarlet Blades HC by (W/A) Saverio Tenuta
Artist Saverio Tenuta writes and paints a twisted tale of a masterless Samurai named Raido searching for clues to his bloody past in a feudal Japan ruled by spirits and beasts. Highly recommended for fans of Samura's Blade of the Immortal, Koike/Kojima's Lone Wolf & Cub, and Heavy Metal magazine. 192 pgs. $29.95
Lee: I know the art in this will be amazing because Tenuta is a master of the medium. But, as an added bonus, I've read the story is good too. Humanoids is releasing some of the best Euro comic collections out there these days. If you haven't tried any of it yet, this is a good place to start.
Gwen: I agree with Lee, this looks to be excellent. Shiny art and feudal Japanese ghost stories - sounds like the perfect book (for me).

Sky: Over the Louvre HC by (W) Bernard Yslaire (A) Jean-Claude Carriere
In this volume co-created with the Louvre museum, we go back to the very origins of the Louvre as a museum: the tumultuous years of the French revolution. It's the story of a painting of the Supreme Being, ordered by Robespierre from the famous painter David. Yslaire, one the great stars of French comics, delivers a stunning masterwork in an epic and disturbing graphic novel seeped in a dramatic and fascinating period of history. $19.99. See a preview here.
Lee: This interests me beyond the obvious reason that I live in France. The Louvre is one of the world's most renown museums with an amazing collection of art. This is a chance to learn more about it, and see some great art in the process. These books are excellent and a great addition to any collection.
Gwen: I get to visit the Louvre on my trip coming up next spring so this looks like a great way to learn more about this amazing place before hand.

Rebellion / 2000AD
Lenny Zero & the Perps of Mega City One SC by (W) Andy Diggle (A) Jock, Steve Dillon
It takes a special kind of criminal to survive the mean streets of Mega-City One. Meet Lenny Zero, an ex-undercover Judge who's always one step ahead of the game, playing mobsters and the mob alike. Slick Dickens, master criminal and style trendsetter is always ahead of the pack. In the Big Meg's Barrio Blocks, they call Carlito Agarra the Bato Loco. Carlito is just trying to make a few dishonest creds, but that's not so easy when both the mob and the Judges are always on your back! $17.99
Lee: This book kills me! A couple of years ago there was a book, MegaCity Undercover, which reprinted much of the same material... I think. I have the other book but this solicit is so vague I can't tell if I already have it. For those that haven't read this, it is very good and worth the investment.
Gwen: I don't know Lee... your comments there just make me think that these guys are reprinting some of the same material over again. Not that the concept doesn't sound... adventurous.

Teachers College Press
To Teach Journey in Comics GN by (W) William Ayers, Ryan Alexander-Tanner (A) Ryan Alexander-Tanner
A vivid, honest portrayal of the everyday magic of teaching, and what it means to be a good teacher-debunking myths perpetuated on film and other starry-eyed hero/teacher fictions; iIlluminated by the evocative and wry drawings of Alexander-Tanner, this graphic version of Ayers' bestselling education text engages while it instructs. $15.95. The artists website here with previews.
Lee: I'm not a teacher but I've always been interested in the profession. A comic book that lets me see the 'behind the scenes' of teaching is perfect for me.
Gwen: This is neat - especially as I'd like to teach one day myself. It's hard to be a good teacher - and hard to find good teachers as well. I'd be interested in reading this.

United Plankton Pictures
Spongebob Comics #1 by (W/A) Kochalka, Barta, Sikoryak, Various
Are you ready for the comic book premiere of the world's most popular fry-cooking sponge?! This first issue is a whale of a collection of comics by talented indy, mainstream, and animation cartoonists - James Kochalka (Johnny Boo, American Elf), Hilary Barta (Fear Agent), Graham Annable (Grickle), Gregg Schigiel (X-Babies), Jacob Chabot (Mighty Skullboy Army, X-Babies), and more! In this issue: SpongeBob has a recurring nightmare about his favorite cereal; Squidward introduces music to the Krusty Krab; and Mermaid Man is freaked out by a fan who wont... stop... staring! Also: Patrick and SpongeBob team up for the most idiotic joke ever; SpongeBob learns to glow; and readers are invited to draw the absorbing one's new hairdo! All this, plus a page of SpongeFunnies by James Kochalka and a cover pinup, equals a ship-shape maiden voyage! $2.99
Lee: I am shocked there hasn't been a SpongeBob comic before now. With all the marketing associated with him I just assumed there was a comic. Outside of that, I am impressed with the names associated with the project. All have experience with kids books so the jokes should be plentiful and humorous. I see one of these coming to France.
Gwen: Ugh, Spongebob. I don't understand the attraction.

Vanguard Productions
Vanguard Frazetta Classics Vol. 01: Johnny Comet HC by (W/A) Frank Frazetta Frank Frazetta's famous newspaper-strip masterpiece Johnny Comet is back in a hardcover for the first time in 20 years! But, for the first time in any collection, it is being shot from Frank's personal artist's proofs making this the best reproduction ever! This is the definitive, official edition authorized by Frank Frazetta. Relist, Previous Orders are Canceled $49.99
Lee: GAH! Lordie knows how long ago the original solicit for this book was. I thought I heard there were issues surrounding Vanguard's legal rights to publish the material. I guess it's all been worked out. I'm ordering it because I can't resist Frazetta art but I don't expect to actually see it before next Christmas.
Gwen: I love Frank Frazetta's art but I have no idea what 'Johnny Comet' is.

Lee: This didn't turn out to be nearly as boy heavy as I thought it would be, even though the first day was bad. There's lots of new and interesting stuff out there but Humanoids and NBM have me excited about February.
Gwen: I like the educational books. School would have been more fun if they'd use comic book text books.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Earlier this year, DC Comics revolutionized comic books with J. Michael Straczynski’s Superman: Earth One. The first in a series of graphic novels broke sales records and launched DC’s innovative Earth One line. Now, DC Comics is expanding on that line just in time for the holiday season with their newest title: Santa: Earth One.

Over the years, Santa Claus has evolved from a 4th century Greek Bishop to one of the most revered figures in popular culture.

“You can’t deny the eternal appeal of a character like Santa Claus, but I think the modern audience has trouble relating to him sometimes. I think its long past time that we boil him down to his essence and get back to what really makes the character work.”

Written by J. Michael Straczynski, Santa: Earth One promises to reexamine Santa Claus and reinterpret him for a modern audience.

“I feel one of my biggest gifts is my ability to analyze and reexamine whatever art form I’m working in.” said Straczynski. “I mean look at my record! I totally reinvented Thor by putting Asgard in Oklahoma, I gave people a Superman they never saw before by making him not smile, and let’s not forget how I redefined the Fantastic Four by having them argue with each other. So with Santa Claus, we need to really take a look at the character and ask what makes him work. We have to ask why. Why does he need to deliver these gifts? That’s what I’m interested in. What makes him tick and what does he look like in a hoodie?”

“This is going to be huge.” Said DC Co Publisher Chief Dan Didio. “No one has ever seen a Santa Claus story like this before. We’re really stripping everything away from him but the core of what makes him work.”

“We’ve taken away his beard, his reindeer, and made him a young man just starting off in life,” Straczynski added. “He has the ability to deliver gifts to every boy and girl, but is that really what he wants to do with his life? What if he wants to be an Olympic sprinter or a race car driver? I think that’s a side of Santa we haven’t seen before. And don’t forget, he knows if you’ve been naughty or nice. I’m interested in seeing what that does to his mind and what kind of sulking Christ imagery I can wring out of it.”

“Joe redefined Superman for a modern audience,” said DC Co Publisher Jim Lee. “And I know he can do the same with Santa Claus. Our readers will really enjoy reading about this new young, hip Santa in a red hoodie, who looks like he could be friends with any of our readers.”

Santa: Earth One will be available in all major bookstores in time for Christmas.

Indies Preview Review for February 2011 Part 2 of 3

Continued from yesterday....

Boundless Comics
Lady Death Origins Vol. 01 SC by (W) Brian Pulido (A) Ron Adrian, Richard Ortiz (C) Javier Barreno
For the first time ever, Lady Death's previous tales are being collected in this new series of graphic novels, Lady Death: Origins! With tons of breathtaking adventures that are, until now, out of print, the Lady Death: Origins series is a perfect way for fans to see what has come before the new Boundless monthly series! This first volume collects the epic five-issue Abandon All Hope series, which not only tells Lady Death's origin story, but introduces a whole cast of characters, with art from Ron Adrian. Also contained within is the two-issue Wicked series with art by Richard Ortiz. This volume is available in Paperback with a cover by Javier (Crossed) Barreno, a Hardcover by Juan Jose Ryp that is limited to 2,500 copies, and a special Signed Hardcover with a new cover from Richard Ortiz and featuring a signature plate from creator and writer Brian Pulido, which is limited to just 1,250 copies! $19.99
Lee: Not new, but still, a whole generation of young boys grew up with this material. I'm sure that Greg, and comic store buddy Shawn, will be eagerly anticipating this so they can relive their amazingly exciting high school years.
Gwen: Joy... naked covers. Was there any actual story to these or was it just purchased for the art?

Drawn & Quarterly
Mid-Life GN by (W/A) Joe Ollman
Mid-Life is the story of John, who at 40 becomes a father again with his much younger second wife, which results in a slow, painful attack by flowered baby bags and front-facing baby carriers on his former virility and self-identity. John always believed that age is a state of mind; however, his adult daughters, baby son, energetic wife, stressful job, house full of cats, and flabby body - complete with bloated stomach and sagging bosom - all lead John reluctantly to admit that he is having a mid-life crisis. The crisis drives John to yell at his wife, pick fights with his daughters, and miss deadlines at work that put his job on the line. He takes solace from the stress of everyday life with a seemingly harmless infatuation with the pretty children's performer, Sherry Smalls, who sings adoringly to him directly from his son's DVD. As their lives snowball, John's infatuation turns into obsession and a haphazard, fateful e-mail leads to a necessary reality check that neither John nor Sherry may have wanted, but that both will surprisingly welcome... $19.95 Visit Ollman and see a preview here.
Lee: Somehow, this sounds good but really creepy all at the same time. In summary, man has midlife crisis and devolves into a stalker. Somewhere along the way I missed the humor in the title. Not to mention, once you throw the stalker word out there, it's hard to see redemption, or even sympathy in such characters. The one saving grace is the preview. I was ready to completely dismiss this until that... which was really good. It showed some of the real painful moments of parenting in a very realistic way. For now, I'm undecided.
Gwen: I think I'm leading towards really creepy.

D. E./Dynamite Entertainment
Bullet to the Head SC by (W) Matz (A/C) Colin WilsonT
wo cops. Two killers. A political scandal. One beautiful corpse. And a city gripped with fear. Dynamite Entertainment proudly presents Bullet to the Head - a classic crime noir tale of violence and revenge from writer Matz (Killer) and artist Colin Wilson! $19.99
Lee: Matz is an outstanding writer and this series has gotten rave reviews. Well, maybe not rave but very good. The story is very complex with a ton of characters doing all sorts of bad things to one another. The knock is that it was almost too complex to follow as a monthly book. But that won't bother me because I'm going to read the trade.
Gwen: I love crime solving books. This sounds like it will be good and as Lee said it should be great in trade format.

Garth Ennis' Jennifer Blood #1 by (W) Garth Ennis (A) Adriano Batista
Jennifer Blood is a suburban wife and mom by day, and a ruthless vigilante by night! Every day she makes breakfast, takes the kids to school, cleans the house, naps for an hour or two, makes dinner, puts the kids to bed, and kisses her husband goodnight. This suburban punisher is ready to be unleashed in a story that can only be told by the legendary Garth Ennis! $3.99
Lee: I love Ennis's concepts but I always worry about the level of violence that is going to come with it. Ennis's Crossed was over the top and not in a good way, but Ennis's Punisher was ok. If this is Punisher without the constraints of Marvel (if there were any) then it should be really good. If it's brutality for the sake of brutality then I'll pass.
Gwen: As Lee said, great concept but Garth Ennis can be hit or miss depending on whether or not he takes things from the good story edge to the mindless violence side of the fence. Still the concept looks entertaining enough to give it a shot.

Evil Twin Comics
Comic Book Comics #5 by (W) Fred Van Lente (A) Ryan Dunlavey
Get ready for non-stop action, action, action - legal action, that is! The incredible, insane true story of the American comic book industry continues with the All-Lawsuit Issue! DC vs. Fawcett! Disney vs. the Air Pirates! Jack Kirby vs. Marvel over his stolen artwork! Steve Gerber over Howard the Duck! Don DeCarlo over Josie and the Pussycats! And that pales next to the all-out war over the rights to Miracleman! Relist, Previous Orders are Canceled $3.95
Lee: This is sooooo ridiculously late it's sad. Granted, it's late because Van Lente has gone to bigger and better things, but I still miss this book. This is really the "History of Comics for Dummies" and it's awesome. The place to start if you've never studied the medium.
Gwen: I really like this work. Action Philosophers was also amazing.

Fantagraphics Books
Arctic Marauder HC by (W/A) Jacques Tardi
In its ongoing quest to showcase the wide range of Jacques Tardi's bibliography, Fantagraphics reaches all the way back to one of his earliest, and most distinctive graphic novels: A satirical, Jules Vernes-esque retro-sci-fi yarn executed on scratchboard in a stunningly detailed faux-woodcut style perfectly chosen to render the Edwardian-era mechanical marvels on display. In 1899, LAnjou, a ship navigating the Arctic Ocean from Murmansk, Russia, to Le Havre, France comes across a stunning sight: A ghostly, abandoned vessel perched high atop an iceberg. But exploring this strange apparition is the last thing the sailors will ever do, as their own ship is soon dispatched to Davy Jones' locker via a mysterious explosion. Enter Jérôme Plumier, whose search for his missing uncle, the inventor Louis-Ferdinand Chapoutier, brings him into contact with the sinister, frigid forces behind this - and soon he too is headed towards the North Pole, where he will content with mad scientists, monsters of the deep, and futuristic submarines and flying machines. Told with brio in hilarious slabs of vintage purple prose, The Arctic Marauder works both as ripping good adventure story and parody of same, and, predating as it does the later and not dissimilar Adèle Blanc-Sec series, is a keystone in Tardi's oeuvre in his fantastical mode. $16.99
Lee: I loves me some Tradi!!!! Excellent art, excellent stories, this is a can't miss winner. The other books that Fantagraphics reprinted were outstanding and I expect no less from this. Well worth your time and investment.
Gwen: I'll take Lee's word on the art side but the stories look awesome. I love sea style adventure stories.

Dungeon Quest Vol. 01 GN by (W/A) Joe Daly
A SURREAL SUBURBAN ROLE PLAYING GAME YARN FROM THE CREATOR OF THE RED MONKEY DOUBLE HAPPINESS BOOK One day Millenium sic Boy decided to grab his hobo stick, his bandana, and his Swiss Army knife, bid his mom goodbye, and head off on a quest for adventure. Joined by his best friend Steve (weapon: baseball bat; clothing: wife beater, cargo pants and sandals), they soon find themselves in a violent altercation with two other adventure seekers. It ends badly for their antagonists (Whoa, check it out, dude! You actually knocked this dude's brain right out of his cranium!) and Millenium Boy and Steve become the proud owners of fancy weapons upgrades (a crowbar and a steel chain). So on they trek, and the next inductee to their group is the muscle-bound Lash Penis. And then things start getting weird! Readers of 2009's Red Monkey Double Happiness Book will recognize Joe Daly's delightfully unique stoner/philosopher dialogue and distinctive character designs, but the hilarious over-the-top Role Playing Game action (complete with periodic updates for each character's status in ten criteria, including dexterity, intelligence, and money) propel this new story into a heretofore unachieved action-comedy realm. By the end of this book (the first chapter of a projected four-part epic), the trio has been joined by Nerdgirl the Archer, Lash Penis has nearly had his arm cut off, they've acquired a whole new nifty bag of tricks, and the menaces have become increasingly surreal and lethal. Where will it end? Stay tuned for Dungeon Quest Book Two in six months! 136 pgs. $12.99 Go here, scroll to the bottom and see the 12 pg preview.
Lee: SO, what did I get from the preview? With a character named Lash Penis, it's easy to say this book is crude, vulgar, and it got more so as the pages went on.... and it was hilarous! I enjoyed the heck out of Daly's other book 'Red Monkey Double Happiness Book' so I'm sold on this. Please note, I picked Vol 01, not new, but Vol 2 WAS solicited this month so you can read the first half of the story in rapid succession.
Gwen: While I'm somewhat integrated in the gamer culture I have to say this is a little too far into the realm of creepy gamer boys to appeal to me.

Fiery Studios Inc
Little White Mouse Omnibus Edition by (W/A) Paul Sizer
In deep space, a young girl's survival will depend upon the strength of her heart. Loo, a 16-year-old girl stranded on an automated satellite in deep space, and her coming-of-age story in a harsh and unyielding environment became a fan-favorite book around the world. Now, the entire critically-acclaimed Little White Mouse series is collected into this 448 page Omnibus Edition, including a new 4-page framing story by series creator Paul Sizer. Available Again, Not a New Release $24.95 Visit Sizer here and see the webcomic here.
Lee: And my small press love of the month is Little Mouse. I think the Omnibus is a great format for this type of material because I can get a huge chunk of it all at once. Not to mention the story sounds interesting and the art looks good. This could be a winner.
Gwen: This is a little bit more up my alley. I'd actually be very interested in picking this book up.

Concluded tomorrow....

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Indies Preview Review for February 2011 Part 1 of 3

Lee: May as well apologize up front and get it out of the way. Sorry to the fans because this month I picked a bunch of re-releases and re-solicits. I’m pretty sure I haven’t talked about most of it, but February is so slow that I can now talk about it. Also, big sorry to Gwen because it’s a boy heavy month. There wasn’t a lot of tender, touchy-feely stuff out there…. Unless you count the covers with huge tracks of land. Those were definitely touchable.
Gwen: Yeah because we know how, being a girl, I only like touchy-feely stuff. *rolls eyes*

Amaze Ink/Slave Labor Graphics
Replacement God SC by (W/A) Zander Cannon
This big trade paperback collects the eight Amaze Ink issues of The Replacement God. Series creator Zander Cannon garnered a Harvey Award nomination for his work on this series, and has since gone on to become an Eisner Award-winning artist on a variety of different titles. The Replacement God represents some of Zander's earliest, and perhaps most innovative, work! $19.95 Visit Cannon's website here.
Lee: The lead off book isn't new, but it's still interesting. Cannon has gone on to big things such as Top 10 with Alan Moore but this is where he started. I’ve heard a lot about this and it is supposed to be very highly regarded. It’s time for me to make the investment.
Gwen: I'm unfamiliar with this work so I'll wait on a review from Lee.

Vesha Valentine Story GN by (W/A) Des Taylor
Caberet or burlesque, movie or musical, Vesha Valentine came from the tough backstreets of Paris to become the world's greatest entertainer. Success for Vesha comes at a price though as she is caught up in the hype, temptation and glamour of 1950's Hollywood. Follow all the details of Vesha Valentine's career in a story book packed with amazing full-color art and imagery that mimics a bygone age of the silver screen. Vesha Valentine is a great gift for all fans of pin-up art, vintage musicals and buxom bombshells of classic cinema. $12.95 Visit Des Taylor here and his other creation, Katie Rogers, here for a idea of his art style.
Lee: Ok, I admit this looks bad but I don't think it is. I believe it is more SiTC than pin up stuff. Correction, Katie Rogers Taylor's other creation is SiTC. Anyway, he has a great, animation influenced style, and established an "appeals to all" character once before so I'm thinking this will be good. Unfortunately the cover panders to the lowest common denominator.
Gwen: In Lee's favor on this one it actually does look like an interesting read. And I'm definately not drawn in by the 'pin up' appeal.

Ape Entertainment
Black Dynamite: Slave Island GN by (W) Brian Ash (A) Jun Lofamia
Black Dynamite: Slave Island follows everyone's favorite blaxploitation sensation as he brings his bad-ass brand of kung-fu to the sequential page! Based on the eponymous film starring Michael Jai White, Black Dynamite uses his fists of fury to shut down a mysterious island of slavers! 48 pgs, FC, $5.95 See a preview here and see samples of LoFamia’s work here.
Lee: Last year I read Afrodisiac, another blaxploitation book, and loved it. Go figure but blaxploitation lends itself to the comic book medium. This sotry sounds like a hoot and Lofamia is a great artist so it’s worth taking a chance.
Gwen: This looks terrible. I mean... seriously.

Tales of a Hippy Kid: Road Trippin & Skinny Dippin GN by (W) Jon Kroll (A/C) Dave Bohn Tales of a Hippy Kid is a collection of funny, revealing and occasionally true stories of a bygone era. The weed was always pure, the tub was always hot, and lots of people walked around naked. This is the story of a bunch of those people. 108 pgs, FC, $14.95 See Bohn’s artwork, and some preview pages, here and visit the official site here.
Lee: These experiences seem closer to Jim’s life than mine so it might provide some insight into his warped thought process. Not to mention that it appears really funny.
Gwen: Um... since when was my Dad a hippie? I'm mean I'm sure the book is amusing but I have a hard time picturing my Jim as a hippie...

Arcana Studio
Harbor Moon GN by (W) Ryan Colucci, Dikran Ornekian (A) Pawel Sambor
When Timothy Vance receives a call from a man claiming to be his long-lost father, he takes a trip to out-of-the-way Harbor Moon, Maine. But the man is nowhere to be found and, unfortunately for Tim, the town doesn't take very kindly to strangers. As he struggles to stay alive and learn the truth about his father, Tim discovers that Harbor Moon is protecting an incredible secret and it turns out that Tim may have more in common with its residents than he could ever imagine! $19.95. Well, Sambor is Polish…. And here’s his website in Polish. I recommend just looking at the pictures…. and the official site is here complete with 23 pg preview.
Lee: And here we have the obligatory horror book of the month. The art in the previews look good and the story appears suitably creepy. What can I say, I'm always looking for a good horror story. My only complaint, I wish all the covers wouldn't look like Ben Templesmith imitations.
Gwen: Okay, this book looks intriguing. Of course it also looks like the opening to the new Tron movie but I have a feeling this one goes more of a vampire path if the cover is any indication.

Harry Walton, Henchman for Hire GN by (W) Zak Sherman Tom Martinek (A) Matt Webb
Harry Walton, a disenfranchised ex-super-hero sidekick, finds himself having to work with every B-List schmuck in town to work up the ranks of the Henchman's Union towards his ultimate goal: Super-Villain status. Smarter than most of the bosses he works for, Harry is stuck as a second banana once again. But when an opportunity to take revenge against his old Super-Hero partner arises, Henchman for Hire Harry Walton takes an initiative and launches a plan that catches the eyes of Super-Villains everywhere! 60 pgs, $9.95 See the art in process here.
Lee: And my other weakness, humor books. The previews aren't lettered so I can't comment on the dialogue but the visuals look good. Cartoony, in an appropriate way, for the subject matter.
Gwen: Maybe Lee is right - so far this is a mostly boy comic month. This type of genre doesn't really appeal to me.

Psychiatric Tales: 11 Stories of Mental Illness HC by (W/A) Darryl Cunningham
Psychiatric Tales draws on Darryl Cunningham's time working in a psychiatric ward to give a reasoned and sympathetic look into the world of mental illness. In each chapter, Cunningham explores a different mental health problem, using evocative imagery to describe the experience of mental illness, both from the point of view of those beset by illness and their friends and relatives. Concluding with a reflection on how mental illness has affected his own life, Darryl Cunningham's Psychiatric Tales is a moving, engaging examination of what is, at its root, the human condition. $15.00 Visit the blog here.
Lee: I recently read Seth's mini biographical tale in the back of Palookaville Vol 20 which was 10 pages of self loathing so intense, and so real, and so painful, that I could only read it in 5 page increments. I'm not comparing Cunningham to Seth but the topic is very real for a lot of people. At some point, I think everyone has known someone with some type of mental problem... heck I dated a couple of them, but I digress... I think this is a good chance to explore a topic that is far more present in society than we wish to admit. Art looks awesome too!
Gwen: Oh wow, now this looks fascinating. I love the idea of a book that tries to really get into the heads of people who think so differently. Mental illness isn't often examined from the perspective of the person afflicted by that illness.

Bluewater Productions
Judo Girl: So You Wanna Revolution? #1 by (W) Chad Rebman (A) Gregg Paulsen (C) Paulsen, Nex
Everyone's favorite groovy super heroine is back in all new four-issue mini-series! After being reawakened in our era, Judo Girl finds herself more isolated than ever. And after a tragic battle with a former nemesis, Judo Girl decides to hang up her go-go boots forever! Judo Girl reluctantly dons her super-hero guise, but as she works undercover with the Revolution, she discovers their anarchist beliefs jive with her 60s sensibilities. Now, Judo Girl must decide which side she's really on. #1 of 4, $3.99 You can see a preview here.
Lee: And my other weakness, princess Leia slave outfits. Not that this is Princess Leia, but she is wearing the bagels on the side of her head like Leia did. But she does look like Chun Li from Street Fighter.... WHAT? It's not impossible for me to know some random video game trivia. Anyway, it's a good girl comic with art that reminds me a whole lot of Ed McGuinness.
Gwen: I have no idea what to make of this. Go go boots, time travel and judo. Well it sounds humorous if nothing else.

Continued tomorrow...