Sep 16 2014

Trouble Maker (book 1): a Barnaby and Hooker graphic novel – Janet & Alex Evanovich

Sassy blond Barney, and also sassy blond Hooker, try to rescue their sassy but not blond friend Rosa from a Voodoo cult. It is a cute story with key elements of romance, humor, adventure, a big dog, etc. with nice cartoony art by Joelle Jones, but nothing particularly ground breaking. Perhaps the authors should stick to the novel forms of this series. Good for younger readers but at $18 for a short hardcover?! 

Sep 15 2014

Cover: Sasquatch

Houston ZineFest fast approaches, and I have yet to complete a mini this year. Sasquatch is a comic that I completed over a decade ago, but never turned into a mini. So this year it’s getting a cover and will hopefully be produced in time for the show.

This cover inspiration is pretty straightforward. I wanted to use the iconic Bigfoot image and combine it with domesticity.

I was worried, because I wanted the style to be similar to the original artwork—so that the cover wouldn’t look “new” to the contents. Fortunately (I guess), my artwork hasn’t really changed that much in the last 12 years!

Et viola!

Note: this scene does not appear in this book.

Sep 15 2014

X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga – Chris Claremont

I think that for its time this was pretty amazing. Looking back, perhaps not so much so. John Byrne’s art is great, even if my tastes have changed, giving details to bodies that set a new standard for comic art. The story itself is about a group of mutant superheroes and villains that struggle against each other and to protect/conquer the world. Specifically it deals with the increasing power of Jean Grey/Marvel Girl/Phoenix/Dark Phoenix until the point that she is a threat to all life and how those who love her will fight to protect her despite what she might do. Interestingly, Dark Phoenix takes up very little of this collection; it is the events that help to initiate the dark power in Jean that are truly important. As such I really enjoyed the manipulation that the hypnotist, Mastermind, pulled and feel that such indirect actions are something more comics should consider. As for the whole “how do we stop Dark Phoenix?!” I didn’t really care that much about it. It happened too fast and such high stakes as the sudden destruction of our galaxy doesn’t seem as real to me as the subtle stab of a knife in the gut. I’d like to think that Claremont was pressured into short changing a story he wished to expand upon, if only I didn’t read a decade worth of his comics and realized he was just kind of making things up as he went (akin to modern failures like Lost and Pretty little Liars among so many other sopa opera stories). 

Sep 14 2014

Run Far, Run Fast – Timothy Decker

Decker presents some of the best illustrated stories I’ve ever seen, about a girl caught up in the horrors of the black death of mid-14th century Europe. The problem is that most young readers will not be able to follow and/or understand what is being presented and drawn. Decker is an amazing artist, and I’ve rarely seen such lovingly cross hatching details, but as an author he isn’t anything special and this could have been incredible with the help of a professional writer. 

Sep 14 2014

Studio Time 9-14-14

After a skip week (I was out of town), it’s a change of pace as I get ready for Houston ZineFest. This will be the cover for a “new” comic I did over a decade ago!

Sep 13 2014

Fargo

Not the movie, which is fine by me because that was not my favorite Coen brothers’ film, although it is shameless in its cross promotion (the show doesn’t even take place in the same state!), but the TV show of the same name is a really enjoyable crime drama. It is hard to boil down the plot but let’s just say that there are all sorts of shady characters, with strange quirks, who get involved with often pathetic characters to create a sh!t storm of absolute chaos that is gripping, frightening, and hilarious. Rounded characters, interesting plots, fine cast and directing, it is probably one of the best shows on TV right now (not that I watch too many shows–ok, I still watch too many).

Sep 12 2014

24

My father got the complete television series as a Father’s Day gift, and has been forcing our family to watch it with him. It revolves around agent Jack Bauer of the Counter Terrorism Unit out of LA. And I just want to say that if any real government CTU is as understaffed as this one we have already lost to the terrorists. (Blame the GOP for cutting government budget all the time.) All the agents are brilliant, but for no justifiable reason they are constantly infiltrated by criminals and have situations wherein “tens of millions of lives are on the line, let just send one guy to handle the problem” and thus the hundreds of terrorists who are already in our country are constantly, and easily, slipping through dragnets. The show is designed so that every hour long episode takes place over an hour in the show’s world and an entire season is 24 hours–thus the name, rather clever I admit. The show itself, unfortunately, is not so clever. Everything is over the top with lots of yelling, running, double crossing, torture, murder (with surprisingly little blood ever), explosions, and constant ridiculous situations–naturally involving terrorists. It is easy to see how people get hooked on the show (they can also get hooked on junk food), although it is largely obvious to me what is about to happen from one moment to the next.

Sep 11 2014

Berlin: City of Stone & City of Smoke (Books One-Two) – Jason Lutes

Apparently, I never did a review of the first of Lutes’ incredible tales of pre-WWII Germany, so you are going to hear about both Books One and Two now. Originally I was going to say that a problem with the second volume was that it had been so long since the first I had really lost most memory of the various characters and spent half of the second book relearning about many of them (as well as being introduced to new ones (yes, I could have reread the first book but it was elsewhere when I grabbed this from the library)). I would also say that I didn’t have this disconnect with the characters the first time around, but then again I was learning about them from scratch. Still, all that really doesn’t matter in the end. In fact, none of the characters, for all their complexities, depth, and uniqueness, matter at all. The reason is that what you are reading, in all it’s painstakingly specific art and historical care, is about the dead. No, I don’t simply mean characters who are fictional anyway, but about a country and a time period. The end is “spoiled” because we know what is to come: this cosmopolitain Berlin of a crippled Germany struggling between the forces of communists and fascists in an attempt to maintain one of the most liberal democracies the world has ever known, is doomed to be engulfed in flames and never seen again–at least never like this. And that’s what makes this an amazing read. Lutes tells the tale of a dead man, and we watch, helplessly and pathetically, as it marches off blindly into oblivion, wondering if there was anything anyone could have done to save this starving, confused, wonderfully diverse land, filled with history, culture, and dreams, before it nearly destroyed the entire world, succeeding only is annihilating itself. 

Sep 10 2014

Homeland (season 1-2)

I’ve almost watched through the second season of this show about a smart but crazy CIA officer who is trying to figure out if a POW who becomes a national hero and fast-tracked into politics is actual an active terrorist and trator. I think this show must work better as its original Israel incarnation because, despite its popularity, it is a ridiculous mess that only Bush administration officials could think is realistic. It might be worth watching the first season if only to see two of the world’s hotest women topless (sorry, that doesn’t include Claire Danes, who thinks acting is creasing your brow in different ways).

Sep 09 2014

Britten and Brulightly – Hannah Berry

Britten is a private eye–sorry, “researcher,” who is seeped in ennui due to his tendency for telling lovers bad news. Together with his, er, unusual partner, Brulightly, he gets involved in a case wherein a women questions the suicide of her fiancé. This was a very interesting mystery story, with dreary art that fit well with the tale. I do protest that there was not enough information to actually allow a reader to deduce the truth on their own, but it was still a good job and wish there were more comics like this. Worth being depressed over. 

Sep 08 2014

Thor: Godbomb – Jason Aaron

Wow, was I disappointed. Sure, this is part two of a collection, but there is nothing I “missed” here. Gorr The God Butcher wants to butcher gods and builds a bomb to kill them all. Why? Because boo-hoo Gorr didn’t have a very happy life so he has to kill all gods everywhere forever. But look! just like in the last episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, three versions of Thor come together from different timelines to stop him! Boring, and nothing of interest when it comes to characterization, dialogue, action, etc. 

Sep 07 2014

Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China – Guy Delisle

Delisle’s work has been hit and miss with me. I greatly appreciate that he is sharing his time in other countries and has an honest perspective, unfortunately, by his own admission, China–or rather the Shenzhen business zone–is very sterile and boring. With little to do and even less culture the routine is interesting only to a point. I do like his (what appears to my untrained eyes to be) pencil art and am more than willing to see what other trips he shares with us. 

Sep 07 2014

Dalton Stark’s Dinoacolypse Comics Review

 

Cover to Dalton Stark's Dinoacalypse comicWhat can I say other than that I laughed my ass off. This is the story of Maxwell, a boy with a crush, and his friend Jeremy, the last dinosaur. Hilarity ensues as Jeremy seeks a metal enough gift that can represent his love for his fiery-haired ladyfriend in a tale that crosses aspects of Henson’s The Labyrinth with an episode of…well, it would ruin the surprise, so just buy the damn book and read it.

Who: Dalton Stark (and it’s not because he’s a former student that I pimp his work, but because it’s good shit).

Online presence: Facebook, Instagram: dolphinsharky, Ink361

Where: Zine Fest Houston 2013 or contact the creator, who is tabling at Zine Fest Houston 2014 also, though he said he’s not bringing old work! Why, damn it?! Let’s make sure he gets himself to Staple 2015 too! Because…Austin.

Cost: Priceless…but contact the creator for a better deal

How: Self-published with the support of Grandma

interior art in Dinoacolypse

Sep 06 2014

Return to Perdition – Max Allan Collins

I wasn’t impressed by this crime drama that ties Collins’ earlier, more famous work into the Vietnam era. While the idea of crime evolving–for lack of a better word–from thugs with tommy guns to things much more devious is intriguing, I just didn’t think the story was well told, as it was too over the top and the art, by Terry Beatty, was too stifled. 

Sep 05 2014

Thor: Gods on Earth – Dan Jurgens, Mike Grell, & Geoff Johns

While only Jurgens gets title credit as a writer, I condemn all three of these writers for this pile of crap. Just another typical superhero story where the main character realizes “Wow, I have power, I’ll become a total dictator and ‘save’ the world from itself.” I think I may have read a part two of this but maybe that was just another lame story. Perhaps it is a rite of passage to put powerful superheroes through such nonsense or maybe the rite of passage is more of a hazing for writers. Nothing original here. 

Sep 04 2014

Welcome to Oddville! – Jay Stephens

This is a cute comic strip about a little girl who becomes the superhero Jetcat and fights annoying and silly “villains” as well as having to deal with such problems as a step-brother and missing the bus to school. I don’t have much to say about it; it is fine, just nothing that I’m particularly interested in or that stood out to me. Sorry. 

Sep 03 2014

Introducing Slavoj Zizek: A Graphic Guide – Christopher Kul-Want & Piero

Part of a series of books on deep topics that the publisher tries to make easy by calling it “introduction” and adding graphics. Often these titles are less informative or interesting than a regular text, but this one isn’t too bad with clear topic headings and not too much text. Zizek is not always the easiest philosopher to grasp (like all those other “easy” ones) and mainly draws from Lacan (who is next to impossible to understand), so it is nice to have some basics to help one understand. Didn’t care for the art; I’m not sure what the style was trying to add.

Sep 02 2014

Queen & Country (vol 1-2): Operation: Broken Ground & Morningstar – Greg Rucka

I’ve been meaning to read this series for over a year now (and by the time this review gets posted, that was probably another year ago). It tells stories about MI-6 the British version (sort of) of the CIA, and various characters within the service, their missions and personal lives/problems. Yeah, sounds good, and lots of people love it, but I’m not one of them. If it is put down in front of me, I’ll read it, but I just don’t care very much about the stories, especially considering how real life spy drama is so much more, well, dramatic (if at a much slower pace). It’s not over the top, which is good, unlike 24 or MI-5, shows I’ve reviewed here, but there isn’t enough to grip me. 

Sep 02 2014

X Marks the Spot

This page continues the Office confrontation. And once again, C leads M into a trap—making him admit something that he previously denied: that he knew Fortunato well.

The top tier (3 panels) is C once again being his bumbling self (which is what leads people to underestimate him).

Panel 4 bleeds into/falls into panel 5 as C catches M in his trap.

Panel 5 puts the “X” on M (a visual cue we’ll see a few times), and it also has some light/dark contrast between M’s and C’s shadow.

Sep 01 2014

Criminal: Coward, Lawless, & The Dead and the Dying – Ed Brubaker

Brubaker’s Criminal trilogy features distinct stories with crossover characters in an amazing display of crime noir in comics. Coward tells the story of Leo who gets sucked into a big score despite his own rules against it and the fallout from his and other’s actions. Tracy Lawless (in the aptly named work) is looking for revenge but is learning that family and vengeance are both tricky subjects, especially when mixed. In The Dead and the Dying,  (not the strongest of the set) we have three stories: first the origin of the bartender who traverses all the tales, then some family history of Lawless, and finally a side tale about Danica and how her life goes terribly wrong. The works are dark and Sean Phillips’ sketchy art works well with them. When people say comics are just stuff for kids and superheroes, show them these great works. Then punch them in the face. 

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