Columnist Wayne Rée shares his discovery of comic books, from his start as a super-hero fan to his evolution into a believer of the power of the art form of comics.
There’s a declaration, almost a mantra, that I recite seemingly every couple of months. For some reason, I never seem to fulfill it.
I need to read more crime fiction.
Whether in comics or prose, it doesn’t matter. I never feel like I’m getting enough crime fiction in my life. But this site’s called The Comics Observer for a reason; so in logic’s name, let’s just stick to graphic literature for now.
The Hard Hello
The first crime comic I read was Frank Miller’s Sin City (later retitled Sin City: The Hard Goodbye) – but I guess you could say the same for a lot of people my age. I was probably about 16 or 17, and was naturally floored. But then again, when you’re that age, a bad guy murdering a bunch of worse guys because they killed the woman he loves was almost definitely going to be on my list of favourites.
Don’t get me wrong—I’m not taking anything away from Sin City. Visually, it’s Miller at the top of his game, if you ask me. There’s a brutal poetry to his use of light and shadow that few can match. And the story was gorgeous in its simplicity. But it was that same simplicity that got me craving for something more.
Judd Winick: Boy Criminal
In the late ’90s (I swear, I use that phrase way too much in this column, don’t I?), Judd Winick was the guy who created the incredibly funny and heartwarming Frumpy the Clown strips, as well as the rude and equally hilarious Barry Ween: Boy Genius comics.
So when he became the guy behind Caper from DC in the early 2000s, I was obviously curious. The book basically followed three generations of a… well, not a crime family, but a family with ties to crime. The series, especially the initial story-arc (illustrated by Farel Dalrymple), was phenomenal and my first exposure to crime comics that were a little more character-driven.
The two protagonists (if you could call them that) from the first arc, Jacob and Izzy, aren’t hard-asses. They’re just normal guys—brothers—who happen to be criminals. They had their own personalities and were fully formed individuals. Which, I know, seems like a no-brainer and the kind of thing you expect from a good comic, but it felt like a revelation to me at the time.
Till this day, I think it’s a shame that DC hasn’t collected all 12 issues as trade paperbacks because it’s a book that definitely deserves a wider audience.
Partners in crime
After Caper, I was craving more full-bodied crime comics—so, find out that there was one titled Criminal seemed like the most obvious next step.
It’s been ten years since I picked up the first issue of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ series and, till this day, it’s still one of, if not my favorite crime comic. It’s brutal, but not in the way Sin City was. It’s more subtle; even more poetic, but in a different, grittier way than Miller’s subdued flashiness (I swear, this is a thing).
I’ve pretty much devoured almost anything with Brubaker and Phillips’ names attached to it since then. Incognito, their pulp/crime comic was interesting, but their current run on Fatale—a book that mixes Lovecraftian horror and noir—has been a treat.
Just when I thought I was out…
There have been other books, certainly. Comics like Gotham Central, Powers, Blacksad, Alias, Scene of the Crime, and Brian Michael Bendis’ indie stuff. In fact, there are probably too many to talk about in just one edition. And that’s still only just barely scratching the surface of it. Why?
Because I need to read more crime fiction.
Wayne Rée’s been writing professionally for about ten years. He’s worked in everything from advertising to publishing, and was even part of the team that created Singapore’s very first tattoo magazine. He dabbles in screenwriting and photography, travels way too much, and is currently putting together his very first short story collection. He blogs about his upcoming book, storytelling and other things at http://waynereewrites.tumblr.com.
Wednesday is New Comics Day! Each week, The Comics Observer spotlights three brand new releases worth checking out that should be suitable for someone who has never read comic books, graphic novels or manga before.
These are out today! If you like what you see here, click the links to see previews and learn more about them. Then head to your local comic book store, or check out online retailers like Things From Another World and Amazon. Let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook.
(Disclaimer: These aren’t reviews. Recommendations are based on pre-release press, previews, and The Comics Observer‘s patented crystal ball. Product descriptions provided by publisher.)
A monster hunter is suddenly out of a job when a religious sect supposedly rids the world of them, but is the sect’s noble deed too good to be true?
Monster hunter Irro is perhaps the only person in Kevala making a good living. The city pays him and his tailed assistant, Hari, a bounty for each monster carcass they bring in. But one day a religious sect called The Way of the Sacred Peace comes to Kevala to solve the monster problem by capping the city’s Spirit Fountain. Out of a job with all the monsters gone, Irro and Hari are determined to prove that there is a more sinister plot behind the Sacred Peace’s plan.
From the co-creators of Gotham Central and Fatale comes a lost crime noir masterpiece. Long out of print, and presented here for the first time in an oversized hardback edition, Scene of the Crime was the first time Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark worked together – before their acclaimed runs on Daredevil and Gotham Central – and it was inked by Sean Phillips, who also designed this deluxe edition.
This is where it all began, with a hard-hitting mystery story, a modern day “Chinatown” that garnered nominations for Best Miniseries and Best Writer in the 2000 Eisner Awards. Also included in this new collection are behind the scenes art and stories, a new foreword by Brubaker, and many other extras. This is the book you’ll want on your shelves.
Aron’s Absurd Armada Volume 1
Written and illustrated by MiSun Kim
Published by Yen Press
We are pirates…
Yup, we are totally pirates…
Whatever anyone may think, we are definitely pirates…
We have a captain, a crew (?), and even Robin, so we are absolutely pirates…
Captain Aron is a brainless idiot, and Robin only loves money, but we are still pirates…
Sailing in search of treasure (or not), we are unquestionably pirates…
So, in conclusion, we are pirates…!
On a whim, Aron Cornwall decides he wants to live a pirate’s life of thrills, sailing on the high seas in search of distant lands and buried treasure. And when you are the son of a duke, you generally get what you want. Accompanied by his reluctant manservant, Robin, Aron scrounges up a crew — including a cook who cannot cook, a transvestite assassin, and a boy (girl?) genius — and sets off on the craziest pirate adventure you’ve ever seen!
Columnist Miguel Cima, director/host of the award-winning documentary Dig Comics, looks at what makes comics so great, and what’s holding them back.
If you know me, you know I don’t read a lot of superhero comics these days. Of course, I used to read ONLY superhero comics. Most of us who grew up on comics in the last few decades probably know what I mean. I was strictly a “Make Mine Marvel” guy for most of my childhood, only getting deep into DC post-Crisis. It was an important and magical experience, to know a full pantheon of heroes, gods, monsters, strange worlds, other realms, quests, visions…it was a unique opportunity for the 20th century. Sure, every culture ever had its religions, filled with all of its figures, places and events. But none which were created so recently, so freshly and relevantly. Modern printing allowed for tales to be disseminated as never before, not only textually but graphically, giving us perhaps as many far-out tales of battles and adventures in a few years as all the carved hieroglyphics of an entire dynasty. And there we all were, common people able to read, with easy access to experience vast mythology. I always feel pity when I think of those who passed by the so-called “universes” of the Superman or Fantastic Four variety. It’s a very special thing.
Often I consider that so many comics fans in America are really just fans of a particular mythology, or perhaps a few mythologies (think titles like Hellboy or Savage Dragon). For me, being a true comics devotee means not limiting yourself to one type of comic book experience – in fact, not limiting yourself at all, at least from overall genres and styles (naturally, within each, there will be varying degrees of quality). So why do I limit myself from superhero comics? I mean, if I take my own advice, then surely, I should be giving the current titles more of my time, right?
I can tell you why I don’t read MOST superhero comics that I used to read. The obvious: how many decent stories does any character really have? What can you possibly read that has not been written so many thousands of times over the past seven plus decades? Of course the answer is: not much. At least, not much if you stick to continuity. The absurdity of trying to pretend that figures like Batman and Spider-Man are not both well over the hill is evident in the industry practices of rehashed gimmickry and slight variations. One hero is dead (but always comes back to life). Another has some experience which “changes everything” even if it’s only a slight variation on a storyline from thirty years ago. And on top of that, somebody has to manage an ever more complex, more populated mythos which requires the preservation of all concurrent storylines, across dozens of monthly publications, for endless years, and all to meet the demands of shareholders. Gone are the days when these legacy characters were the product of visionaries, hungry not just for expression, but for money to put food on the table. The commercial product has been fully pried from the risk-taking art form that started it all. Yes, of course, there are the exceptions to the rule, but I don’t know how much I care to seek them. They are too few, too meager. I don’t put any blame on the creators working in the genre right now. First of all, it’s by far the most lucrative. And by and large, the folks behind the work are true fans. Getting the chance to write and draw that character you grew up with and getting the chance to add your stamp to the legacy must be very appealing indeed. But it’s not working for me, and I often wonder why it works for anybody. How many “reboots” before you finally get sick of reboots? How many perfectly predictable resurrections before you realize, continuity has lost all meaning?
Fortunately, I have found some remedies for myself to fill these needs. First of all, I use the time machine. I’ve been jumping into all of the old stuff I never read. DC has an excellent line of affordable trade collections of the original comics from their core pantheon called DC Chronicles. Way cheaper than the hardback DC Archives collections (and printed on pulp, which I find far cooler), I have been digging in to Superman, Batman and Green Lantern, all in the order they appeared in titles like Action and Detective and DC Showcase. Sure, I’ve read a lot of this stuff, one-offs in reprints and such, but this completist line allows me to see ALL of it from the start, a real history project where you can see the more unfettered creators lay down the genesis of the legacy titles. Marvel Masterworks is another great option, but their trade paperbacks are not as competitively priced, and never on pulp (damn!). But that’s all you’ve got for right now, and all that awesome history is there too, from Fantastic Four to Iron Fist and just about everything from Marvel’s Silver Age. And I’ll sometimes nibble at “alternate reality” stories, tales of the characters outside of the continuity like Warren Ellis’ Old Man Logan storyline or DC’s retired Elseworlds imprint. Unfortunately, entire reboots like the Ultimate universe in Marvel or The New 52 are subject to the same robust brand management interference which those other examples of limited series are put through. And as such, are plagued by the same afflictions.
And so I seek superheroes in other places besides DC and Marvel. Recently, I burned through Mark Waid’s Irredeemable series with great relish. Waid took the 20th century archetypes, offering instant recognizability (but with no TM infringement), and ran with a tale that brand managers at the big corporate publishers could never allow, including closure. (It helps that besides having an original story, Waid also has his own publishing house, BOOM! to be as free as he wants to be.) Marvel uber-author Ed Brubaker played his own games with his Incognito series (limited though it was, and on Marvel’s Icon imprint, to their credit). The aforementioned Savage Dragon by Erik Larsen is another excellent example of a guy giving us old-fashioned superhero fun without the expense of convoluted continuity (even though the title is getting long in the tooth itself!). I could mention more and more, but you get the idea – it’s not superheroes I have a problem with, it’s just the idea of a market dominated by this single genre (Marvel and DC run 70% of the North American market) and the idea that despite the inherent quality control issues when churning out so much pulp (or whatever slick paper is) carrying such intense corporate pressure (the far more profitable movie, video game, and toy branches of Time Warner and Disney depend on the publishing arms), the audience pushes most of its money on this heavily trod-upon ground. I wish more of you would venture out to discover humor, history, horror, high art, human dramas and so on, just like you do on TV and at the movies. But that’s just a dreamer’s lament. And I’ll be honest with you. I want to keep getting new stories from the same old characters. And I do. Just not entirely in comics.
Sadly, I nowadays get most of my Marvel/DC superhero action not through comics, but on TV. For the last twenty odd years or so, DC in particular has offered wonderful superhero mythology, starting with Batman: The Animated Series followed closely by Superman: The Animated Series which, following this continuity strictly or not, smoothly transitioned into Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. Here you could feel the freedom of the creators. They were given far more leeway with the legacy characters. And even after a series ended, new series could create a new vision with its own angle. You can see this in such diverse shows as The Batman, Batman: Brave and the Bold, Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series. I don’t love and watch ALL of these shows, but EVERY superhero fan is bound to love one or more of them. Marvel doesn’t have quite as long of a track record with high-quality shows, but of late, we’ve seen outstanding efforts with shows like Wolverine and the X-Men, Iron Man Armored Adventures, Spectacular Spider-Man, The Super Hero Squad Show, Ultimate Spider-Man, and particularly with Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. This show, like the Justice League run and the current Young Justice offers just the right blend of childish escapism, adult themes (but not TOO adult), long episodic tales, fights and violence (but not TOO violent) mixed with healthy, respectful nods to works new and old from the source material. It is ironic that in animation – a far more expensive process than comic book publishing, requiring teams of dozens rather than perhaps 10 people (sometimes just ONE) – there seems to be a lot more room to move for talented storytellers to play with the standard bearers of the legacy books. And it’s not just freedom for them, its freedom for me, the audience, who can enjoy new tales of old friends without getting bored, still surprised from time to time, able to see these tales in fresh places where you can feel a far more steady creative control, for good or ill (again, I do NOT love all of those animated shows, but I sure do love more than a few).
Which brings me to this final bummer: I don’t like writing about TV in this column. I want to write about comics. And that means writing about something other than superheroes. But at least now you know why. And maybe somebody in the right place will take it to heart. I interviewed Stephen Christy, editor-in-chief of Archaia Entertainment, at Comic-Con a few years back for the Dig Comics project. I asked him the same thing I asked all the publishers I talked to: if you were god and could run DC and Marvel, what would you do? His answer stuck with me, and I paraphrase: “I would kill all the titles, except about 12-15 of the core books, assign top creators to those and limit the output.” He may have a point. After all, there’s a hell of a lot to pretend you can manage in one continuity without a lot of not so awesome comics. I would combine that effort with killing all continuity periodically and maybe give some creators a chance to take the characters for their own ride, rather than tack their decisions to a committee. And if you try to make your new continuity too close to your old one, you’ll lose. If you are keen on continuing to publish 50 or more titles, how about letting multiple continuities run at once? Let the market decide which one it likes. And if one falls out of favor, save the space for a new subset of creators. But do something besides the same old tricks, at least if you want to see my money again.
Argentinean-born New Yorker and NYU film school graduate Miguel Cima is a veteran of film, television and music. He has worked for such companies as Warner Bros., Dreamworks and MTV. An avid comic book collector since he could read, Miguel began writing stories in 4th grade and has not slowed down since. He is a world traveler, accomplished writer, filmmaker, and comics creator. He is the writer, director and host of the award-winning documentary Dig Comics. Follow Dig Comics on Facebook. Read more of Miguel’s comic book recommendations.
Wednesday is New Comics Day! Each week, The Comics Observer picks brand new releases worth checking out that should be suitable for someone who has never read comic books, graphic novels or manga before.
These are out today! If you like what you see here, click the links to see previews and learn more about them. Then head to your local comic book store, or check out online retailers like Things From Another World and Amazon. Let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook.
Secrets, lies, horror, lust, and monsters from the time before time all collide in Fatale: Death Chases Me.
In present day, a man meets a woman who he becomes instantly obsessed with, and in the 1950s, this same woman destroys the lives of all those who cross her path, on a quest for… what?
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ bestselling series will leave you craving more! The first arc of Image’s surprise hit is collected just in time for new readers to jump on board with issue 6!
Collects Fatale #1-5
A not-so-classic yarn about a mysterious stranger in a small Midwestern town.
It’s a story line we know all too well: “A mysterious stranger comes to town.” Only the town is not really a town and the stranger is a gigantic cell-phone tower. The town is Birdseye Bristoe — a portmanteau created from an interstate sign that points to two real towns — and it has only one real permanent resident, an old-timer known only as Uncle. A confirmed bachelor and World War II veteran, he owns most of the real estate in town. His teenaged great-niece and -nephew visit occasionally, though the town doesn’t have much to offer apart from an adult superstore, a gas station, and a tackle shop.
Uncle reluctantly agrees to lease his land to a conglomerate of telecommunications carriers, and sets the somewhat random condition that the tower be built with a huge crossbar set horizontally into the mast, making it also the world’s largest cross. Birdseye Bristoe begins with the destruction of the cell tower and works backward to unravel the story of its fall.
Money makes the world go round, as they say. And around. And around.
Eddie Campbell is an award-winning graphic novelist (Alec, From Hell) whose work defies categorization. His latest book is a dizzying autobiographical investigation into MONEY. It’s a voyage that takes him all the way from the imaginary wealth of Ponzi schemes to the real hard stuff on an obscure South Sea tropical island where he investigates the history of the stone money. This is no dry and dusty treatise on finance; any complexities are pleasingly reduced to the level of bubblegum trading cards. In here you will hear about the corporation that Campbell keeps under his bed; you will meet colorful historical characters and be taken on dangerous shark-infested sea adventures; and after that, we will all plunge to the depths to retrieve our loose change.
Campbell’s wry eye and vivid full-color artwork imbue the proceedings with real humanity, making The Lovely Horrible Stuff an investment that’s worth every penny.
One of the biggest days in comics is happening tomorrow – Free Comic Book Day! This is an annual event where free comics are given away to anyone who walks into a comic book store, and many stores have special sales and events, as well as artists on hand for free sketches, and lots more. Check out FreeComicBookDay.com for more details and to find participating stores near you.
The LA comedy quartet Jawiin put together this video to explain how Free Comic Book Day works (while addressing some confusion about the day):
Golden Apple Comics is opening at 10 am with free Gamma Labs and Hubert’s Lemonade drinks and a Cinco de Mayo taco bar with purchase. Our own Scott Shaw! will be doing Simpsons sketches, plus there’s a sidewalk sale, $5 grab bags, a kids play area, a bounce house, and more. Plus signings by Felicia Day and the cast of The Guild, Andrew Chambliss (Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9), Scott Davis (Wrath of the Titans), Marc Andreyko (Manhunter), David B. Schwartz (Idolized), Peter Calloway (Anti), and Geoffrey Thorne (Prodigal: Egg of First Light).
Meltdown Comics will hold their Free Comic Book Day festivities from 11 am to 9 pm. As if giving away free comics wasn’t enough, they’ll also give you a 20% discount on any Marvel Comics products if you show your Avengers movie ticket stub. Plus a 50% off sale from 11 am to noon, 30% off all back issues, sidewalk comics by the pound ($3/lbs.), a Marvel Comics grab bag of 10 comics for $10, and more. Greg Weisman (Gargoyles), Victor Cook (Mecha-Nation), Caleb Monroe (The Remnant), Brandon Easton (Shadow Law), Scott Lobdell (Teen Titans) and creators from Archaia Entertainment (writers Tim Beedle [Fraggle Rock], Mike Kennedy [Bleedout] and Heather Nuhfer [Fraggle Rock]) will all be signing throughout the day.
Collector’s Paradise in Winnetka and Pasadena wasn’t content just having Free Comic Book Day. They’re expanding it to Free Comic Book Month with special events, signings and sales throughout May. But for tomorrow, there’s a 3-for-1 sale, and appearances by writers Ed Brubaker (Fatale), Steve Niles (30 Days of Night), Joshua Fialkov (I, Vampire), writer Corinna Bechko and writer/artist Gabriel Hardman (Planet of the Apes), writer Kyle Higgins (Nightwing), the Mind the Gap team of writer Jim McCann and artists Rodin Esquejo and Sonia Oback, Shane and Chris Houghton (Reed Gunther), and Matt Whitlock (Peanuts).
The Comic Bug in Manhattan Beach has so many creators, like Richard Starkings (Elephantmen), Joshua Dysart (Harbinger), and Jeff Stokely (Fraggle Rock) and fun stuff to give away, they made a 20-minute preview video (special password at the end of the video gives you a 25% discount!):
The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books has announced the program schedule for the event’s weekend of April 21 and 22. Most of the panels and presentations related to comics and graphic novels are front-loaded on Saturday, with some competing against each other in the early afternoon. While the scheduling congestion is unfortunate, it’s indicative of the growing star power of comics at the Festival to get such premium placement.
Highlights include a moderated conversation with Robert Kirkman, writer and co-creator of The Walking Dead comic book series, and an appearance by Jeff Kinney of Diary of a Wimpy Kid fame on the Children’s Stage. DC Entertainment will also hold a panel with co-publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee to talk up their controversial prequel comics to the acclaimed Watchmen graphic novel, followed by a screening of the movie adaptation. Almost simultaneously there is a discussion panel called Drawing Outside the Lines, featuring acclaimed graphic novel writers and artists Joseph Lambert (I Will Bite You!), Carla Speed McNeil (Finder), and Jim Woodring (Weathercraft), a trio of unique creators who write and draw their own work on their own terms. That panel is moderated by the LA Times’ Deborah Vankin who also wrote the graphic novel Poseurs. The last event for Saturday is a panel on Mythic Stories that features writers Ed Brubaker (Criminal), Adam Mansbach (Go the F**k to Sleep, Nature of the Beast) and Douglas McGowan (Nature of the Beast), with moderator Leslie S. Klinger (The Annotated Sandman). A fourth writer is TBD. The weekend ends with two screenings of the feature-length documentary, With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story.
While admission to the Festival is free, the limited seating of indoor panels requires the necessity of tickets, which go on sale April 15 at 9:00 am. A limited number of tickets will also be for sale during the Festival at booth #463. Panel passes, which reserve 8 tickets per pass, can be purchased now for $30. Tickets for the 32nd Annual LA Times Book Prizes Ceremony, happening the Friday night before the Festival, are also now on sale for $10.
10:30 am – Robert Kirkman in Conversation with Geoff Boucher (Panel 1121)
Ronald Tutor Campus Center
12:55 pm – Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever
Target Children’s Stage
1:00 pm – DC Entertainment Presents: Watchmen — It’s Not the End, It’s the Beginning.
A Conversation with Jim Lee and Dan Didio, moderated by Geoff Boucher
2:00 pm – Watchmen Screening
School for Cinematic Arts
1:30 pm – Graphic Novel: Drawing outside the Lines (Panel 1113)
Carla Speed McNeil
Moderator: Deborah Vankin
Taper Hall (THH 101)
3:30 pm – Graphic Novel: Mythic Stories (Panel 1044)
Moderator: Leslie S. Klinger
Salvatori Computer Science Center (SAL 101)
11:00 am & 3:00 pm – “With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story” screening, presented by EPIX
Located in the Ray Stark Theater
School for Cinematic Arts
Never read a graphic novel before? Haven’t read a comic book in years?
Here’s some brand new stuff that came out the week of November 25 that I think is worth a look-see for someone with little to no history with comics. That means you should be able to pick any of these up cold without having read anything else. So take a look and see if something doesn’t grab your fancy. If so, follow the publisher links or Amazon.com links to buy yourself a copy. Or, head to your local friendly comic book shop.
Disclaimer: For the most part, I have not read these yet, so I can’t vouch for their quality. But, from what I’ve heard and seen, odds are good they just might appeal to you.
The Devil’s Handshake: A Basil and Moebius Adventure – $5.95
By Ryan Schifrin, Larry Hama & Adam Archer
48 pages; published by Archaia Comics; available at Amazon.com
Larry Hama, the legendary mastermind behind G.I. Joe, makes his debut at Archaia!
Renowned treasure hunters Alaric Moebius and Basil Fox embark on an adventure that takes them from the deepest jungles of New Guinea to the deserts of Libya in search of a mysterious hidden pyramid that contains the power to end the world! This unforgettable one-shot introduces readers to a terrifying, exciting new world created by Ryan Schifrin!
Publisher Archaia’s official site(s) is a mess right now, so I couldn’t find any listing for this. But, this looks like a fun Indiana Jones-esque adventure comic. Here’s a 7-page preview, along with an interview with the creators.
The Dead: Kingdom of Flies – $15.00
By Alan Grant & Simon Bisley
96 pages; published by Berserker Comics
Britain has fallen prey to a mysterious plague of flesh-crazed zombies. Corpses litter the streets. As far as Derek Wall and his team of firefighters know, their Oxford HQ might be the last bastion of unaffected humanity in the entire country.
But with every day that passes, Derek’s men get weaker, while the zombies grow in ferocity and numbers. It’s only a matter of time before the zombies break in – or the humans break out! Collects issues #1-4 of the smash hit series.
For mature readers, this comic is a pretty hardcore zombie romp. Might be a little tricky getting it in the States. I couldn’t find it on Amazon, but it looks like you should be able to buy it directly from them on their site at the link above, which also has lots of previews.
In the now-collapsed Soviet Union, the subjects of a Super Hero experiment must pick up the shattered pieces of their lives and carry on. But who – or what – is the deadly threat that’s stalking them all? Collecting THE WINTER MEN #1-5 and the WINTER MEN WINTER SPECIAL.
John Paul Leon is a great artist. This comic has had a long life but it’s won a lot of praise. Be warned, though: It’s not a simple, straightforward super-hero yarn. Here’s a preview to give you a taste.
From the award-winning team that brought you SLEEPER and CRIMINAL comes their strangest and most twisted tale yet — INCOGNITO. Zack is a file clerk in a dead end job… or is he really a super-villain hiding in Witness Protection? As his powers begin to return, our anti-hero’s life begins to unravel in a dark and explosive fashion. INCOGNITO is sexy black comic pulp tale that you’ll never forget! Mature Content.
I like Marvel. I really do. But they don’t make including them in this list very easy. It’s a bit too rare when they release something that truly requires no prior knowledge. Fortunately, this is one of them. Fortunately it’s quite good. Unfortunately it’s not for kids. But the next one fixes that. But, first, here’s a great big preview of Incognito.
Star Comics: All-Star Collection – $19.99
216 pages; published by Marvel Comics; available at Amazon.com
This collection for kids of all ages not only gets four stars, it has Four Stars: Planet Terry! Wally the Wizard! Royal Roy! Top Dog! Space opera, Arthurian-era fantasy, sovereign secrets and canine crimefighting – collected for the first time! Aliens, demons, ghosts, spies and more! Collects Planet Terry #1-2, Top Dog #1-3, Wally the Wizard #1-2, and Royal Roy #1-2.
Marvel delivers again this week with something for kids. These are comics from the ’80s when the publisher had an entire imprint devoted to little tykes. (I’m going to assume it’s some kind of technical glitch that there doesn’t seem to be a listing on Marvel’s site for this release. Marvel’s new release list for the week points here, which is blank. And no mention of it on MarvelKids.com. Great job, everyone. Keep bringing in the new readers. But all is not lost. A second volume is planned for a January release.)
Celebrate the holiday season with Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang by displaying your very own Christmas tree! Complete with a shiny ornament to dangle from its branches and Linus’s blanket to wrap around the base, this little tree and storybook will inspire all to remember the true meaning of Christmas.
Not quite comics, but this is too cute to pass up. This storybook supposedly comes with a pathetic Christmas tree as seen in the classic Peanuts animated special. We’re probably going to buy one to add to our annual holiday decorations.
Never read a graphic novel before? Haven’t read a comic book in years?
Here’s some brand new stuff coming out this week that I think is worth a look-see for someone with little to no history with comics. That means you should be able to pick any of these up cold without having read anything else. So take a look and see if something doesn’t grab your fancy. If so, follow the publisher links or Amazon.com links to buy yourself a copy. Or, head to your local friendly comic book shop.
Disclaimer: While it may seem like it, I do not live in the future. For the most part, I have not read these yet, so I can’t vouch for their quality. But, from what I’ve heard and seen, odds are good they just might appeal to you.
Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?, the long-awaited follow-up to Mom’s Cancer, is a unique graphic novel that tells the story of a young boy and his relationship with his father.
Spanning the period from the 1939 New York World’s Fair to the last Apollo space mission in 1975, it is told through the eyes of a boy as he grows up in an era that was optimistic and ambitious, fueled by industry, engines, electricity, rockets, and the atom bomb. An insightful look at relationships and the promise of the future, award-winning author Brian Fies presents his story in a way that only comics and graphic novels can.
Interspersed with the comic book adventures of Commander Cap Crater (created by Fies to mirror the styles of the comics and the time periods he is depicting), and mixing art and historical photographs, this groundbreaking graphic novel is a lively trip through a half century of technological evolution. It is also a perceptive look at the changing moods of our nation-and the enduring promise of the future.
Father’s Day gift? Of course, you might want to get a copy for yourself, too. I know I do. There’s an 8-page preview at the publisher link above.
“SLEEPER could hold its own against any noir, from any medium…Brubaker is without a doubt the best crime fiction writer in comics today. ” – Ain’t It Cool News.com
From the award-winning Criminal team of writer Ed Brubaker and artist Ed Brubaker comes SLEEPER, the story of Holden Carver and the secret criminal organization he must infiltrate, now back in a new edition collecting SLEEPER SEASON 1 #1-12. With his contact at the agency in a coma, Carver must live one day at a time in a deadly game of cat and mouse he plays with its leader, Tao.
This has been praised up in down in comics circles. I haven’t gotten a good chance to read it, but it looks like I just got one. And so did you. Here’s a 5-page preview in fantastically inconvenient PDF form.
Succinctly stated and punctuated with a sharp-edged visual style, Prayer Requested presents a narrative of illustrations and collages, each one accompanied by a found or scavenged prayer. First excerpted in Nicolas Robel’s B.u.L.B Comix, the works of Prayer Requested are equal parts inspiring, amusing, enlightening, and in some cases entirely peculiar, each marrying heartfelt intent with frank unflattering interpretation.
With a roster of clients that include The New York Times, Playboy, and Rolling Stone, Christian Northeast’s illustrations are honest and without reservation. They represent a creativity and freedom of thought and form, cleverly depicting the intimacy, urgency, and absurdity of these found prayers with a sense of explicit surrealism.
Really funny yet just not right. Here’s an 11-page preview again in annoying PDF-o-vision (because I don’t have enough random files on my computer that I only looked at once).
Legacy – $14.95
By Jack Katz and Charlie Novinskie
100 pages; published by Hero Initiative
Jack Katz, creator of the epic, independent series, The First Kingdom, has teamed with The Hero Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to helping out comic creators in need, to bring you Katz’ new graphic novel Legacy. Following the death of Gavin LeClare, the family fortune – $70 billion dollars – is bequeathed not to the family, but to one Silvia Alogo, an unknown Hispanic woman that doesn’t speak English.
Enter Barney Barrett, insurance investigator, brought in to unravel the mystery of the LeClare estate. What Barrett discovers could make or break the LeClare family fortune – and the evidence he uncovers could have deadly consequences! A tale of corporate greed, family betrayal, love lost, and love found, Legacy is told in the classic style of Hogarth, Eisner, and Foster.
I had to really dig around to find good info on this. Jack Katz’s own website doesn’t even mention this book. Neither does the Hero Initiative. No previews available. No one bothered to get it listed on Amazon. One major comic book retailer has this listed as coming out next month, and another retailer thinks it’s coming out next week. Is this an experiment to see how badly a book will sell with absolutely no marketing efforts whatsoever?
Anyway, Jack Katz is a mostly overlooked pillar of the industry who toiled away for years at Archie Comics and Marvel Comics starting in the 1940s. In the ’70s, he dropped off the map to create and release over a 12-year period one of the early “indie” fantasy comics and among the first graphic novels, The First Kingdom. This looks to be a much more down-to-earth tale. This should be a big deal. The return of a lost master of the art form. If you can find it, consider yourself lucky.
Before their fall, the Templar preserved the order of the natural world, maintaining the balance of life and death for all creatures. But an ideological dispute pitted the noble brotherhood against itself, where they destroyed themselves in a vicious civil war. Chaos descended in their wake, where predatory and scavenger creatures now reign supreme bringing anarchy to the night world of the Shadow Time.
Yet the young mouse Karic receives visions from the gods that their creator Wotan has chosen him to challenge the imbalance and restore the order of the fallen Templar. But before he can even comprehend his supernatural calling, his home is destroyed by vicious rat marauders, and his family is taken into slavery. Karic soon learns of an ancient prophecy that one mouse will be chosen to recreate the heroic exploits of the past, and thereby save his family and his people. But Karic’s calling soon makes him both a target of his enemies, and a tool to be exploited by those seeking to use the savior of all for their own schemes.
And thus begins the first chapter in an extraordinary adventure of magic and wonder, faith and valor, and of one small mouse whose destiny might change the entire world.
This is an oft-praised anthropomorphic fantasy adventure. It’s like The Secret of NIMH but probably better. (And yes, the artist’s middle name is the same as a perfume company. Don’t hold it against him.)
That’s it for this week. Now go get yourself some funny books!