Sean Maher's Quality Control

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Jumping all nimbly-pimbly from tree to tree

Huh. Both of yesterday's posts seem to've gone up just fine.

So what was I so pissed off about?


Lots to talk about today. First off:

A couple weeks ago I took a look at the indie solicitations for books coming out in March. One of the books I singled out as looking pretty interesting was Toupydoops #1 (Lobrau Productions Inc, p.288, Previews order code JAN06 3131).

Creator (and Emmy Award winner?) Kevin McShane e-mailed me, then, to draw my attention to an eight-page preview of that first issue. Looks funny:

The concept here, see, is that Hollywood is the playground of the comic book industry. People don't want to be in Steven Spielberg movies; they want to be in Superman comics. So the lead characters here have a cartoony, stylized design, with some of the supporting cast looking just like normal people.

The series originated as a weekly college comic strip and each page carries that episodic feel, which should make for a nice content-to-physical-space ratio. There's a risk there of losing all forward momentum, focusing just on making the present page funny or self-contained, but if the preview here is any indication, McShane is aware of that and concentrating on balancing the greater story and the need for a humor comic to have at least one funny moment on every page.

I've got my pre-order in.


Then Jason Rodriguez, in his final week of The Moose In The Closet, points me to the new book he's editing for Elk's Run writer Josh Fialkov. The new project is called World's End.

Over at the book's official blog, Fialkov gives us the lowdown on the series--

World's End is a five-issue miniseries, a post-apocalyptic action adventure in the vein of The Road Warrior with a bit of The Princess Bride thrown in. It's action packed, got a bit of romance, and... oh yeah... mutant freaks on motorcycles and giant sea monsters. It really has something for everybody.

The sort of overall creative plan is to do this mini-series to set up our world, and then, assuming it's the smash hit we all hope it will be, come back with other mini's about other parts of this world. I already have a rough idea for stories set in the U.S., Japan, and the U.K. This one takes place in what was once Eastern Europe.

--which sounds pretty good to me. The whole "different stories in the same world" angle is one I really enjoy; it worked beautifully in Small Gods, and Sin City, for example(s).

Then artist Scott A. Keating (who's been doing some jaw-dropping work on the Elk's Run coloring) treats us to a step-by-step panel sample:

I'll be looking forward to this one for sure.


Ian Brill talks to Mark Chiarello, editor of DC's excellent artist spotlight Solo series, and gets right down to what we all want to know:

PWCW: What artists can we expect to see in the future?

MC: Coming up are Berni Wrightson, Brian Stelfreeze, Jill Thompson, Scott Hampton, Sergio Aragones, Brendan McCarthy, Kevin Nowlan, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez and George Pratt. Not a bad lineup, huh?

What I love about this series is the balance between artists I know, and whose work I'd love to see in this kind of setting, and artists I don't know at all, who get the opportunity to knock my eyes out and introduce me to their craft. Looks like it's gonna stay that way.

And of course, it's also nice to know that there's at least nine more issues of this coming.

And that one of them will be Sergio Aragones.


Blair does a hell of a column this week at All The Rage. In addition to announcing the fortuitous return of Phil Hester's Image book, The Atheist, and reminding me that Grant Morrison will be doing Wildcats and The Authority (with Jim Lee and Gene Ha, respectively), which pretty much guarantees that the two books will have a clever sort of interplay with each other, he also brings the goods with an art preview of the upcoming Small Gods two-issue mini-series.

Good one, Blair - got me all excited and happy about comics!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Shit Ass

Fucking Blogger is reaming me from fore to aft today. Just check out the final week of Moose In the Closet and come back tomorrow for a post that won't get eaten by the fucking servers (fingers crossed).

A brand new week, a tear on my cheek

Jason Rodriguez enters the final week of his blog de resistance today. Exciting, like watching the last lap in a race. Can't wait to see how he'll cap it all off.


Overheard at the bar this weekend:

"The early bird may get the worm, but it's the second mouse that gets the cheese."


Lots of cool comics coming out this week. I usually use the MillarWorld thread to find out what to expect, especially since there are fine folks like Mo and Franck pointing out stuff I might have missed otherwise. Here are some of my personal highlights:

Detective Comics #816 $2.50
Enjoying the Cliff Chiang artwork on this two-issue arc; I'd buy that guy's toilet paper if it was mass distributed. I'll be dropping the book after that, as One Year Later isn't really doing it for me.

Lucifer Vol 9 Crux TP $14.99
Goon Vol 4 My Virtue & Grim Consequences TP $16.95
Two of the very few books I like enough to buy in serial and trade format. 'Course, I'll be waiting until I find this at a local used bookstore, but nonetheless, it's gonna be hot. Lucifer in particular is completely amped up during this arc.

Noble Causes Vol 5 Betrayals TP $14.99
This'll catch me up nicely to the latest arc, which has been an unqualified success in my book. One of the very best superhero books on the market.

Fury Peacemaker #1 $3.50
This is gonna be a great book, I'm sure, but (A) it should be MAX, so Ennis and Robertson can go full tilt, and (B) I'm not paying $3.50 for a 22-age Marvel comic. It's just not gonna happen. So, right there, that's me waiting for the trade.

Hellboy Makoma #1 $2.99
This is the mini with Richard Corben art, right? Again, that's pretty much all I need.

Bluesman Vol 2 TP $8.95
The first installment of this series was fantastic. You can find some preview material at the publisher's website.

Helios In With The New #2 $2.99
Sticking with this to see what Small Gods writer Jason Rand has up his sleeve.

Anything I'm missing?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

AND more DAN SLOTT goodness!!!

Jesus, what an eventful Saturday. Not only do I learn that Brubaker and Phillips finally have their new project almost ready to announce, but a fine fellow at MillarWorld also draws my attention to a new Dan Slott project! It's called Big Max, and as usual, Slott's got the spirit of Stan Lee pumping through his promotion:

This is probably the silliest superhero project I've ever done, and for me that's saying a lot. It's about the world's greatest superhero. Who just happens to be... an Ape in a Cape. He's Big Max, the super simian, the mammal of might, or as we like to call 'im, The Primate Who Lowers Crime Rate! It's Silver Age Ape-like fun, but thumping its chest in a modern day way.

Art looks pretty damn nice, too. Check out this ad:

And this interior art, where Big Max fights a mime whose fakey mime shit IS REAL!:

I'm in. Just e-mailed the ol' LCS to pre-order a copy, 'cause that deadline is pretty immediately upon us, isn't it?


Lots of cool shit coming out of Mo's "Happy Birthday" thread for Sean Phillips over at MillarWorld.

Phillips takes the opportunity to promote his still life book, Half Life, which looks gorgeous:

But even more excitingly, after James Sime flashes his Population Control shirt from one of the Sleeper events the Isotope did, Ed Brubaker stops by to say this:

I can't wait til we have shirts for the new book. Which we should be able to announce next month, I think.

Whereupon I crap my pants in comics-loving frenzy.

Friday, January 27, 2006

My pretties...

You know what made me laugh today?

Cartoons aren't libelous, Woozy, because cartoons are clearly not real. Only an idiot would debate the plausibility of a comic book story.


Ah, turns out the Eric Powell event at Isotope will also feature DJ SamSupa. Hmm. I'll have to wear a vest or something, in case he pulls another knife on me.

Or maybe I'll just have to keep my big, drunk mouth shut about the ***s...


Whew, I know I said I wish Sam Keith would work with another writer, but I've got no fucking complaints about this kinda shit:

Y'know, I'd have thought that Kieth collaborating with someone would be a bad idea, art-wise, but his stuff with this Josh Hagler guy has been really fantastic. Ojo was Kieth's best book since The Maxx, you ask me. So My Inner Bimbo is something I'll be looking forward to.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Hold your breath, we swingin' it from right to left

You know what made me laugh today?

The Isotope's weekly reading list staff photos. James probably had to work harder on last week's installment, which was righteous as well, but this week's just cracked me up.


Oh, wait! HOLY SHIT! Eric Powell's gonna be at the Isotope!!! I just noticed that. Saturday, February 11th 2006. FUCK. I guess I know where I'm gonna be. Can't wait to meet the guy... I'm a huge fan.


After a conversation with some friends about Who The Best Rappers Are, I just recently went back and listened to a few of my Busta Rhymes albums.

Man, Busta is The Greatest. His raps aren't (usually) as emotionally powerful as, say, Tupac or DMX, and his rhymes aren't as dazzlingly complex as Eminem's, but for straight-ahead rap delivery, I don't think there's anyone better. His charisma, voice, rhythm, diction, dynamics... it's just the most amazingly dextrous rapping I've ever heard.

Weird thing is, when his career started, he was putting out about one album every year. But since his It Ain't Safe No More album in 2002, nothing. What happened, man?

Well, now I know.

Busta's new album, The Big Bang, is sounding pretty goddamn incredible.

"With the significant caliber of people that came through to support this project, in addition to me having three years to just brainstorm with [Dr. Dre], I got to learn a lot," he said. "I got to condition myself on how I'mma come at the game in a new and a different way. I think that patience was my best weapon this time around, because I was able to have some things fall in my lap."

We're looking at some guest-appearances by Stevie Wonder, Rick James (R.I.P.), Ol' Dirty Bastard (R.I.P.) and Eminem (R.I.P.), and beats from Dr. Dre, Timbaland, the Neptunes, Erick Sermon and Swizz Beatz.

For fuck's sake. I'm not usually big on guest-appearances on rap CDs - it's usually a distraction from the 'voice' of the record, and more often than not it's some second-stringer with no standout talent who just got on the record because he's somebody's friend - but these are all people I'll be glad to see on the album, and I'm excited by the idea that Busta's been working on developing his style.

If you check out his official site, you can hear advance tracks and see videos and all kinds of shit. Watch out for the forum, though - that shit is dangerous.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Carey on X-Men, Ferreyra on Rex Mundi (Redux)

Got a comment from Quality Control correspondant and Image Comics Big Wig, the inimitable, insatiable Joe Keatinge, following Monday's post about Rex Mundi. I quote:

I have it on good authority that Juan [Ferreyra]'s not going anywhere either. Expect him to be on board for a good long time.

Let the celebrations commence.


So, Mike Carey's writing "adjectiveless" X-Men, eh?


I'm a huge Mike Carey fan. Lucifer has easily been the best Vertigo book since Preacher. My Faith In Frankie was a really fun read, available now in a B&W digest. And after I'd warmed up to it, I thought his run on Hellblazer was among that title's very finest periods.

I've hated almost all of his Marvel work so far. Ultimate Elektra was boring to the point of being depressing. Spellbinders wasn't as bad, but then he did the Fantastic Four movie adaptation. A pretty lousy track record.

But wait! Somehow, like a rocket out of hell, Carey kicked my ass with his two-issue fill in story in Ultimate Fantastic Four #19-20. Frankly, I thought that was the best two issues that series has seen, and it shocked me. Carey can write super-heroes!

So, then... what to expect from his X-Men run?

Well, I guess The Big Deal is that he's putting Sabretooth "on the team". Which sounds fine to me. I guess there's some hubub about it, but here's what Carey had to say:

Okay, I knew this one would cause something of an outcry. I mean we're talking about a vicious murderer who'd have about a million unforgivable sins on his conscience except that he doesn't have a conscience in the first place. I’m aware that putting him on a hero team is not the same proposition as bringing in, say, Rogue... or even Mystique. He's got blood on his hands – lots of it – and he can't be rehabilitated. I'm not going to duck that. I want people to bear that in mind as they watch what we do. And I'm not going to sentimentalize the character or give him humanizing touches that will make you love him. That would be sick.

All I can say is keep watching: I think I know what I'm doing here. I think it will work.

Sounds cool to me.

I'll give it a shot. X-Men isn't really my tickly soft spot lately, but what the hell? I thought the same thing about Fantastic Four and since the Mark Waid run I've been unable to let them out of my reading list for more than a month.

How's Brubaker's X-Men stuff been, by the way? I've been skipping it 'cause I didn't have faith Trevor Hairsine would keep the schedule.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Blessing in Disguise

"At exactly which point do you start to realize
That life without knowledge is death in disguise?"

Talib Kweli, "K.O.S. (Determination)"


Rex Mundi got a hell of a lot of buzz when it launched, with Arvid Nelson's dense genre-blending mystery epic period piece grabbing a lot of folks by the short and curlies and Eric J's awesomely detailed artwork driving 'em all up the wall.

Eric J left, and the book seemed to fall off the radar. I didn't hear much about it, anyway, and after reading the first two trade collections, I enjoyed the book but was having some trouble reading it - I had some trouble following the plot, for reasons I can't really explain. Just seemed a tad on the unapproachable side. Something pretty cool buried in there, but I was having trouble figuring it out.

Then it was announced that Juan Ferreyra, rising star artist on Small Gods (my favorite new series of the last couple years, which sadly came to a close after issue #12), was moving to Rex Mundi as the new regular series artist. I was so impressed with Ferreyra's work (which had consistently improved throughout the Small Gods run) and eager to see him play with color that I decided to jump onto the serials with issue #16 (Ferreyra's first) and give the book my support.

So, am I just doing Ferreyra a favor? Supporting him on a less-favorable project just because I want him to keep putting out work?

As it turns out, no. This book's just plain gotten a lot more enjoyable.

First, I'm not lost at all. Nelson writes a "Story So Far" page at the beginning that sums up the two trade collections and the issues inbetween that have led us here, and then does a "major characters" page that lets us know how Ferreyra's designed his take on all the big players and gives some brief character notes for those still needing some catch-up.

Then, Ferreyra kicks ass all over every page. Facial expressions, dynamic layouts, clever panel and page bordering (a la Mark Buckingham's work on Fables), and really beautiful colors. The book's just a splendor to see.

And finally, the writing is seriously amping up. All kinds of insane crazy shit is going on in the story, but this time around I'm keeping up with it and as a result the suspense is much more visceral and felt, rather than the more intellectual, appreciated suspense I felt in the earlier run of the book.

Do I have a new favorite Image series?

Could be.

Friday, January 20, 2006

So, yesterday,

--I mentioned a guy named Chris Gumprich. If you were a fellow member of the Isotope Virtual Lounge, you might remember his series of columns called "Lessons Learned". I really enjoyed 'em, and as it turns out he managed to save the whole set after the Lounge went south of heaven.

The Internet is a treasure trove of information for the budding self-publisher. It seems that everywhere you go, you can find ten "how-to" articles explaining how to succeed in self-publishing in Five Easy Steps.

LESSONS LEARNED is not one of those columns.

Self-publishing is a difficult business. There are no shortcuts to success, and the truth is that it takes a lot of hard work. More than you can believe. This is my story, detailing my journey over the insurmountable hurdles of self-publishing. Making the dream happen.

Nicely paced, suspenseful and funny. Check 'em out.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

San Francisco owns the news

A number of exciting San Francisco announcements this week.


Over at the Isotope site, James Sime announces that the doors are swinging wide open for entries in this year's Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics. This is always really exciting - previous winners Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, Josh Cotter and especially Rob Osborne have been some of my favorites (as covered here at Quality Control [and Bookshelf Comics]), so I'm completely psyched to see who's gonna step up to the plate this year. How about you, Chris Gumprich?


Josh promised some cool shit on the AiT website when he got started, and this week has been pretty damn cool - first we got a page from the long-awaited follow-up project by Adam Beechen and Manny Bello, the gentlemen behind Hench (which remains my favorite book in the AiT catalog). The book's called Dugout. I'm pretty psyched to see it.

(Beechen, I've noticed, is writing Robin when One Year Later kicks off.)

Then Josh dropped the real bomb, just yesterday. I won't spoil it for you. Go and look for yourself.


Marvel's books are all going up to $2.99, eh? Somehow I missed that when I was reading the solicits.

Hmm. Well, the only $2.50 book I was buying anyway was Ultimate Fantastic Four, and I can just as easily drop that one.

See, just yesterday, I was saying how pricing a comic at $2.50 will make me feel a lot more forgiving and open to trying out one I might not otherwise want.

Oh fucking well, I guess. Like I also said yesterday, Marvel's gonna put out a trade anyway, and I can just get it used at Green Apple later on.


I am excited, however, to learn just a little more about J. Michael Straczynski's upcoming Silver Surfer mini: the art's gonna be by Esad Ribic! That guy did an absolutely awesome job on Loki.


So, Molly finally read Superman: Birthright. Dude, how awesome is that part where he goes after the guy who sold guns to some kids and shoots at him, then grabs the bullet out of the air?

One of the best Superman comics I've ever read, that.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

April solicits for Marvel and DC

So, my thoughts on the Marvel and DC solicits for April:


I just counted, and I'm tradewaiting about 14 Marvel series. Why? The Ultimate-line books, for example, all seem to be paced that way these days. The Fury mini-series costs $3.50 an issue, and I don't think Marvel deserves to charge me that, regardless of the talent involved. A big part of it, though, is that I know pretty much for certain the trades will come out. This is the kind of thing that drives Hibbs nuts, I know. Well, I guess it's up to Marvel to do something about it. Maybe if they give Dan Slott a few more books... 'Cause frankly, SHE-HULK #7 and THE THING #6 are at the top of my Marvel list. Dan Slott, see, writes monthly comics I can't turn down or tradewait. The guy knows there are trades coming out for pretty much every Marvel book - which makes it really easy to just leave the serial issues alone - so he throws all his weight into writing individual issues that are exciting and packed with story and character and humor, and usually has a fun cliffhanger at the end. They're monthly comics the way I want them done.

Read my buddy's copies of the recent "The Murdock Papers" arc, and I think I'm excited about Daredevil again. I'll be starting up when Brubaker and Lark take over.


Oh, okay. That's where they were going with this. Well, I can't say I give a damn about Nova or Ronan, and I don't really know the creative teams well enough to change my mind. The Silver Surfer mini is one I'll probably check out, out of fondness for the character. The Super Skrull mini looks like it has some potential as well - bad guy versus even badder guy is a hook I usually bite - so I'll try it out. I'm curious to see, though, if there's a larger story here, or if Marvel's just trying another big event to bring in some cash.

I'm not planning on buying this, but that's a hell of a funny Kyle Baker cover.

This, I've been hearing a lot of buzz about, and it's enough to get me interested in a fifteen dollar trade. Don't really know what to expect, but I'm curious to see what the fuss is all about.


Passed this over when I first looked at the solicit, but then I saw Mike Huddleston's name and stopped. It's just $2.50, and it's got an artist whose work I really enjoy, so I think I'll try it out.

I might get this just because I'm curious how the hell they got 11 writers into 40 pages.

This is where the book's gonna get really awesome in trade form, for those who're waiting. I've been enjoying the book a lot lately.

DMZ #6
So far, I'm really enjoying this. Is it the start of a great new Vertigo epic? There's certainly a beginning-middle-and-end sort of thing implied in the premise, but with enough space to make it a really big story. At any rate, I'm looking forward to seeing things ramp up.

Sounds good to me - ten bucks for five issues. I'll give it a shot, absolutely. Azzarello writes better in big chunks anyway.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Image solicitations for APRIL

Okay, so the Image solicits for April are on the internet, and here I am looking through them.

EDIT: Looks like DC and Marvel are both up now, too.

Nice coffee table sort of thing, isn't it? It's out of my casual price range, but I'm sure this'll be gorgeous.

Hmm. The solicit text is kinda dry and uninspired, as I read it, but the cover looks awfully nice. A couple hints here for solicitation writers: telling me a book is "beautifully painted" doesn't really mean anything to me. The adjective is an obvious choice, and you're trying to sell it to me so I'm not just gonna take everything you say at face value. Use that word space to tell me something specific about this book, something that makes it different from, say, the beautifully painted Kingdom Come. Y'see what I'm saying? Anyway, the cover certainly is a pretty wee thing:

Wow: this really sounds like an AiT/PlanetLar book. Even the solicit text sounds like someone who's been studying Larry's style - brings to mind the recent "If the phrase 'gorilla with a jetpack' doesn't do it for you, I don't know what we gotta do." I'll take a look at this, as it's sometimes interesting to see people bring a new take to the Jesus persona, but if this is basically straight-faced Battle Pope, I'll probably put it back down.

This book gets better all the time. Probably the best superhero team book on the market. And Faerber's been including extra story pages to offset the $3.50 price tag, so the miser in me is even happy.

*sigh* Boy, the solicits writing at Image really needs a shot in the arm. (The creators all write their own stuff, right? Maybe we could just get Robert Kirkman on the job or something, eh?) I'm supposed to drop twenty bucks because "[t]he tension can be cut with a straight-razor in this brooding tale of supernatural terror"? That's all you can tell me? Come on, guys.

Brian Wood described this a year or so back (!) as being a combination of the action-heavy style of The Couriers and the more emotional, character-based writing of Demo. Plus, that cover image has been haunting me for a while now. This is surely worth ten bucks.

Normally wouldn't give this a second look, but are all ten of the issues included here written by either Brian Michael Bendis or Steve Niles? Hmm. That would be right around the point in Bendis' career when I liked his stuff best. Might have to give this one a look.

The hardcover edition of this was too pricey for my blood, but I'll definitely give it a shot for six bucks. The solicit text for this one is pretty damn good - gives me a good idea of what the story will be like, and just enough personality in it to make me curious. Take a cue from this one, everybody.

God, I love this series. I just can't tease myself by reading it in the serials. But man, those collections are priceless treasures.

Interesting premise here, with a lot of potential. I'm waiting on the first issue to see how we get along.

I think I'm pretty close to being Ellis-ed out for a while, but this is so cool just for the format that I'm gonna hang on. Still can't wait to see the next book coming in this format, Matt Fraction and Gabriel Ba's Cassanova. That's coming in May, right?

Again, waiting on the first issue of artist Mike Hawthorne's personal baby. Fingers crossed, beecause I loved his work on Queen & Country so much.

Ah, what a wonderful book. But wait - should I have bought the Marvel Team-Up with Invincible in it? The solicit text here says this issue continues that story.

Uh, wow. This is actually finishing? I remember picking up the last issue of this when Isotope was still on Noriega, for Christ's sake. Well, it was fun reading, at any rate, so I'll be sure to get it when it comes.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Milligan, Richardson and Rand

Well, now this is more like it! Peter Milligan closes the interview with an announcement that gives me that little comics tingle:

I hope to be working with Axel Alonso on something soon, but that’s probably a little early to be going into detail about. What is firmed up is a project I am doing with Wildstorm. This is called THE PROGRAMME and is a kind of post cold-war superhero dark thriller. Kind of Noam Chomsky meets The Fantastic Four as imagined by Doctor Strangelove. It’s a twelve part maxi series and I’m excited about it.

I'm not really into Milligan's politicizing, but he tends to do his best work within that template. Can't wait for this. Hell, I might even give his X-Men run a second shot when the Apocalypse story arc is collected - I always liked that villain.


Sweet Jesus! Josh Richardson's flatting pages from The Goon? That's fucking awesome. I can't believe I know that guy.


Small Gods #12 closes out the ongoing incarnation of the series in style. While the horny chicks banging the hell out of our male heroes is getting a little old hat, the characterization of the villain (and the moral muddiness of our hero) remain razor sharp, and the interior art takes yet another leap forward - the layout that follows the insane murdering woman around town and through the hallways of her own mind, and the sequence in which she turns an entire crowd of passersby into a mob directed at Our Hero, are inventive and kinetic uses of the page.

The explanation of why The Villain (a rogue black ops assassin) is so broken is fascinating reading: "Imagine being an empath who can feel the emotions of anyone within a couple of miles. Then imagine making them all feel hate, or despair, or rage, or agony - while you feel it along with them. Imagine killing all those people... while you're wallowing in their emotions. How balanced do you think you'd be?" Rand brings his sharp ear for dialogue to a new plateau here with really imaginitive role playing and exploring new facets of the premise he's set for the book.

I'm looking hugely forward to the two-issue Small Gods mini-series debuting in March, and to more installments hopefully to come. But if this is the end, I have to say I'm glad the series came out at all, and introduced me to two important new creators in the comics industry.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Friday Madness!

Quote of the Day: "Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make angry."


San Francisco readers, here is your chance to do some public good without lifting a finger or sending anyone money. The local office of Blood Centers of the Pacific (270 Masonic Avenue, at Turk) has these rad machines called ALYX that take a double-donation of red blood while feeding you back all your plasma.

The catch? You have to let them send you two free AMC movie theater tickets.

They're in the middle of a serious blood shortage, anyway, so... you know. Come on.


Plenty of great comics to write about - Small Gods #12 in particular was awesome this week - but I'm goddamn tired.

Enjoy the weekend, everyone.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

PREVIEWS for March: The Indie Love

This list is based, for anyone who might be curious, entirely on my reading of the Previews phone book. I haven't been checking out the comics news sites a lot lately, so everything I looked at was based entirely on the impression the Previews solicit made in the printed form.

Yesterday, I looked at The Big Four. Today I'm checking out the "Comics and Graphic Novels" section. Lots of fun stuff, so let's jump right in:

METHo.d.: Mean Little Stories SC (Aardwolf Publishing, p.207)
Don't know a damn thing about this, but Steve Lieber does art for one of the stories. If I find this on the shelf at the ol' LCS, I'll be sure to pick it up and take a look.

Noble Boy One-shot (Adhouse Books, p.209)
I was mighty excited about this when it was announced in November. Hell, I'm still excited to see it. But $13 for 32 regular-sized pages? That's a ripoff no matter how you look at it.

Sky Ape: King of Girls One-shot (AiT/PlanetLar, p.215)
Lots of love for this one over at The Engine.

Warren Ellis' Blackgas #3(Avatar, p.231)
Sounds like a fun book, and I'll pick it up in trade for sure if they do one. I'm not paying $4 an issue for anything, really, but this should be a good read. Is the art still by Jacen Burrows? Who's Max Fiumara?

War of the Worlds: Second Wave #2 (Boom! Studios, p.238)
As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, this looks like a really damn promising series. Can't wait for issue #1.

The First Kingdom, Volume One TP (Century Comics, p.240)
Looks intriguing, but I'd like to know a little more about the actual content of the comic itself. The solicit text here does grab my attention - "considered by many as the first independently published graphic novel" is a nice hook, but they shouldn't assume I know anything about that. Has anyone here read this, maybe have a couple words to say about it?

Red Sonja #10 (D.E., p.244)
How the hell did they get to issue #10? I don't think I've read past issue 2 or 3. Anyway, the news here is that the series is ending with issue 11, which is cool 'cause hopefully it means we'll have one big story at the end. I wish this book would come out more regularly - I've been enjoying it.

How to Self-Publish Comics ...Not Just Create Them #2 (of 4) (Devil's Due, p.256)
Sub-titled "Building Your Creative Team", this sounds kinda neat. There's kind of a drought for material like this - the only folks who've put out successful books in this area are Larry Young and Dave Sim, to my limited knowledge, so this might be worth taking a look.

Streets of Dublin SC (Dublin Comics, p.264)
See, I don't normally think admitting your influences up-front is a good idea, but this solicit text got me pretty damn interested: "Clearly influenced by Robert Crumb and an undeniable love of Dublin, Hunt and colorist/designer Bren B. paint and irresistable tale of drugs, violence and horses!" Just too interesting a combination of elements for me to ignore.

Runaway Comics #1 (Fantagraphics Books, p. 270)
Just looks like it has promise. Can't really explain why.

Uptight #1 (Fantagraphics Books, p. 270)
Sort of a unique format - each issue of "Uptight will include two self-contained short stories plus a chapter from Crane's next graphic novel, 'Keeping Two'." Hell, that and a $2.50 price tag is good enough for me. Cover art looks kinda neat, too. I'll try it.

Toupydoops #1 (Lobrau Productions Inc, p.288)
Looks like a comedy about comic book characters becoming movie stars, or struggling actors, anyway. Art looks pretty appealing. Got a quote on their ad from Alex "Box Office Poison" Robinson. All together, that's enough for me to try issue #1.

Banana Sunday TP (Oni Press Inc., p.299)
I got the first issue of this book and didn't end up collecting the other three, being in something of a budget crunch at the time, but I remember it being really charming and fairly funny. Anyone with a soft spot for talking monkey humor would do very well to give this a look.

Queen & Country #29 (Oni Press Inc., p.299)
Fantastic. I'm glad to see Rucka's coming back to the title, and without anything corny like a new issue #1. Q&C is probably the best and most important thing Rucka's ever written, so this is cause for celebration.

Queen & Country: Declassified Volume 3 TP (Oni Press Inc., p.299)
This, I'm curious about. It's written by Antony Johnston, whose work I enjoyed on the western train-heist book "The Long Haul". Has the trade for Volume 2 been solicited or come out yet? I may have missed it.

Pariah #1 (Revolution Comics, p.304)
I'm just gonna step out of the way and let the solicit text speak for itself: "After incurring God's wrath for commiting an unpardonable transgression, angel David Howard is banished from Heaven to roam the streets of Oakland, CA." That's issue one coming my way, thank you very much. This could be pretty cool.

Death Comes to Dillinger #1 (of 2) (Silent Devil Productions, p.305)
Using Death as a character in a dark Western comic, with artwork this pretty? Yeah, that's worth the three dollar gamble to me, easily. (Thanks for the preview link, Franck.) Ooh, and it's edited by Josh Fialkov, writer of Elk's Run! Very cool.

Sawed-Off Mojo #1 (of 6) (Speakeasy Comics, p.316)
Writer Dan Jolley impressed me a lot on his short-lived Bloodhound series for DC, drawing some really powerful characters with deceptively broad strokes. I was disappointed by his subsequent project, Hell, Michigan, but the cover artwork and the premise both seem to be more up-to-snuff here. Sort of a Preacher-esque thing going on here. I'll be looking forward to it.

Hyp-No-Tech: The Insiders #1, What Are You Doing After Work? (360ep Inc., p.316)
Dude, this fucking comic costs seven cents. I'll get one. Also, isn't 360ep that new publishing house that Bill Jemas was starting? That guy got some good Marvel books printed, didn't he?

Surrogates #5 (Top Shelf Productions, p.340)
This has been an interesting alternate-future-history world-building excercise, based on the idea that the next world-transforming technology (coming next in line after the printing press and the computer) will be cyborgs that people will use to live their daily lives by proxy, sitting at home with the virtual reality helmet on. I reviewed issues #1 and #2 back when I did Top Shelf Week back in October.

And that's the Diamond Previews catalogue for comics coming in March, top to bottom as I read it. Did anyone catch something I might have missed? Anybody got something to say about the books I did mention?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

PREVIEWS for March

Here's my take on the Big Four solicitations for March. I'll be looking at the "back of the book" section tomorrow, giving the indie love with all my might.

Dark Horse

Conan: Book of Thoth #1 (of 4), p.22
Yeah, I'm on Conan as long as Busiek is, minis included. The Thoth-Amon stories in the main series have been kinda weird so far - feels like we've been thrown into the middle of the story - so I'm hoping the origin mini will fill out the character a bit.

Concrete: The Human Dilemma TPB, p.29
Just started reading Conrete a week or two ago, after some hearty efforts from good aul Franck Mars. Not sure if it's really hitting me as hard as it's hit its serious fanbase, but I'm curious to see what kind of stories Chadwick's telling recently.

Hellboy: Makoma, or... #2 (of 2), p.30
I'll follow artist Richard Corben to most projects, as long as the price is right. Corben on Hellboy? That's a big-assed Hell Yeah from me, and I'm not even much of a Hellboy fan.

The Cool Green Goon T-shirt, p.49
Ooh, I didn't know they made these. That green one looks pretty rad... might have to put it on the wish list.

DC Comics

Batman: Secrets #1 (of 5), p.61
Sam Kieth's last Batman-related mini - Scratch, which was really more about an awkward pre-adolescent werewolf - was a real disappointment for me, but how the hell can I resist Kieth drawing The Joker? I'll try this out for the eye candy and see what happens, but I really wish Kieth would work with another writer, 'cause since The Maxx it's all been pretty embarassingly immature writing.

Gotham Central: Unresolved Targets TP, p.69
The two story arcs collected here were so good I might have to double-buy. Not right away, but I'll pick this puppy up at Green Apple for sure. Those who've been tradewaiting have had a hell of a wait (and fuck you guys, anyway), but this is a mighty strong payoff.

All-Star Superman #3, p.71
Wasn't sure if I'd follow this in the serial format or tradewait. Issue #2 convinced me to stick with it.

Hard Time Season Two #4, p.84
This is a hell of a series, and the idea of an issue all about Cindy, the "girl" of the cellblock, actually intrigues me more than I thought it would.

Supergirl and the Legion of the Super-Heroes #16, p.88
Even as people have been complaining that the uber-plot is moving too slowly for their taste, I've been loving this book more and more with every issue. Which is why this marketing gimmick has me nervous. Still, there's some material there to be mined, bringing in Supergirl and all, and Waid could be the guy to do it. My fingers are crossed.

Seven Soldiers of Victory Vol. 2 TP, p.91
I was wondering how they'd handle the collections of the Seven Soldiers event, being seven four-issue minis and two "bookend" one-shots, and it looks like they're mimicking the experience of the serial - which is intriguing. Was the project designed to be read this way? At any rate, it'll be interesting to see how the whole thing holds together in the end.

American Virgin #1, p. 113
This really doesn't look like my kind of book, but Becky Cloonan was so spectacular on Demo that I'm gonna give her a shot here, too.

Image Comics

Hector Plasm: De Mortuis One-Shot, p.141
Written by Benito Cereno, who did that clever Tales From the Bully Pulpit one-shot last year. I enjoyed that one enough to try this out, even though it doesn't feature Teddy Roosevelt in the solicit.

Hysteria: One Man Gang #1, p.142
Artist Mike Hawthorne really knocked my eyes out with his Queen & Country arc, so I'll give this a shot, too.

Small Gods #1 (of 2), p.147
Fuck. Yeah.

Colossus GN, p.148
I was at the Isotope a month or two back when these guys came by to hand-sell the book. James got some copies for the store and everyone told me it was a great book, so I'll give this a second look when it hits the stands.

Marvel Comics

Annihilation: Prologue
Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos TPB
The Thanos trade finally reprints The Thanos Quest, which was basically the prologue to the Infinity Gauntlet crossover. It also reprints some Silver Surfer issues from around that time, which at the time was my favorite super-hero book on the stands. All this has me pretty excited, and I've been hearing good things about Kieth Giffen's Drax The Destroyer mini-series, so the Annihilation Prologue actually sounds good to me. I find that a little surprising, honestly, but I'm not gonna look a gift horse in the mouth. I'm just in.

Fantastic Four: First Family #1 (of 6)
Joe Casey and Chris Weston on a Fantastic Four story sounds good to me, but I'm a little burnt out on "revisiting their early days" super-hero stories lately. This'll probably be good and I'll probably get the trade, though.

X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl #3 (of 5)
James pointed this one out to me: best Marvel solicit text ever:
Of the many secrets that Doctor Strange holds in his extremely well-manicured head, perhaps the greatest is this: why do some characters return from the dead, while others continue to languish in obscurity? Is it just a question of circulation? Or is there a more mysterious, harder-to-quantify-with-an-Excel-spreadsheet force at work?

Well, the evil Pitiful One and four of his deceased cohorts are going to find out! They know that Doctor Strange holds the mystery to cold beer, warm sandwiches, and Sunday afternoon naps in his head, and they'll do anything to get that one-way ticket back to the land o' the living! Even if it means killing everyone in their path...

Good thing Doctor Strange and Dead Girl are gathering an all-star team of dead heroes to best them! Featuring Dead Ant-Man, Dead Mysterio, Dead Anarchist, Dead Mister Sensitive, and a host more!

Monday, January 09, 2006

The hits keep coming...

A while ago I got the opportunity to do one of those Advance Reviews that I love so much, this one for Neil Kleid's upcoming book, Brownsville. At the time, I said:

This isn’t a gangster I’ve seen before. He’s not flexing his muscles with Cagney flare, squinting his eyes with a sneer and a growl. He’s not the quietly masculine De Niro boss, seething with menace below his fake smile.

He’s frightening without effort.

It’s something new, to my amazement. Isn’t the gangster genre just there for stylistic exercise? I didn’t realize there was anything new to be done, not since Miller’s Crossing anyway. But Kleid and Allen appear to be challenging my expectations.

Now, about six weeks later, I've lost my exclusive! Kleid has an interview up at CBR with all the preview pages I got to see. So, hey - take a look, let me know what you think. Was I way off base? Did I miss something? Did I hit it on the nose?


A while back I did a review of a book called Slop: analecta for Bookshelf Comics. I was pretty harsh on the bulk of the book, reminding me as it did of stuff that got on my nerves in college (lots of "I hate Republicans/rich people/white people/the government" gags).

"Then there are the songs-turned-comics," I wrote, "which are some of the more striking, thoughtful moments in the collection."

That was a little inarticulate. I've just recently downloaded one of the songs they adapt, "Sad, Sad Song" by M. Ward, because the comic got me kinda interested, and... I don't know what it is, but the context of hearing the song and now going back and re-reading what Dave Crosland (and debbie?) did with it, I'm really impressed with their innovation and imaginitive interpretation of the source material.

Even if my general distaste for the collection turns you off, see if you can find a copy of this in your local shop and flip through it, if only for the "Sad, Sad Song" bit. It's really damn good. I'm gettin' all emotional about it.


Blair put together a pretty fun All The Rage this week, nabbing a huge Daredevil spoiler, an odd Garth Ennis rumor, and some spectacular John Cassaday preview pages of the next volume of I Am Legion, the project that died in the states when DC cancelled the Humanoids line. It's coming out in France, which is a bummer, but I'm sure when they see pages like this--

--there'll be somebody on this side of the pond smart enough to publish it for me to buy.


"so you want to be a writer?" by Charles Bukowski (from Sifting Through The Madness...)

if it doesn't come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don't do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don't do it.
if you have to sit there for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don't do it.
if you're doing it for money or
don't do it.
if you're doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don't do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don't do it.
if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
don't do it.
if you're trying to write like somebody
don't do it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife,
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you're not ready.

don't be like so many writers,
don't be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don't be dull and boring and
pretentious, don't be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don't add to that.
don't do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don't do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don't do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in

there is no other way.

and there never was.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Wowie Zowie

Couple shoutouts need to come first today:

Jason Rodriguez is not taking Kirkman's "You Suck" article lying down. The man behind my favorite blog and the editor of one of the best indie comics in years has a different message - "You Just Need to Work a Little Bit", so to speak. Insane goddamn gentleman he is, he's essentially offering his expertise for free. Just to help set an example for aspiring writers, he's throwing the doors open on editing and pitching and writing great stories. Fans of Larry Young's True Facts are strongly advised to take a look at this.

Speaking of AiT, Swiss-army-knife-of-comics Josh Richardson has been hooking us all up with In The Trenches entries like a maniac lately ON TOP OF taking control of the AiT-PlanetLar website, with daily updates. Josh tells me the AiT thing is gonna be a total blast, so I'm looking forward to what he does with it. Josh is, I discovered, a creative executive at AiT these days, and working The Isotope while he's at it. The man is an unstoppable juggernaut of comics power.

Boy, what a week it's been. Got my first "weekend" in like two months on Thursday and Friday last week, got to head out and see...

...which I fucking LOVED. One or two subplots that could have been cut entirely (did ANYBODY give a shit about ol' Hayes and Jimmy?), but what a story. I laughed, I marveled, I cried (just a tear or two, but what can I say?--that was an emotional goddamn ending). The Big Fight was a thrill that left me giddy and smiling. The special effects... well, words fail. They've taken the best part of the LOTR movies (which, of course, was Gollum) and made a whole movie with it, like I wanted them to do in the first place. Kong is incredible. Kong's performance is incredible. The monster design, at the bottom of the valley when the bugs all attack, especially, is unbelievable. So cherry. Basically, as a kid who grew up on the 1933 original (all time classic), I gotta give this puppy the BIG FAT TWO THUMBS UP.

You know what else gets a hearty and happy oath of approval from Quality Control? My bitchin' new Usagi Yojimbo calendar!

Man, I am loving this thing. Stan Sakai is one of our heroes.

You know what's really cool? My profession. I'm loving this whole bartending thing. Last night I was working my usual Sunday afternoon shift at Kimo's and by pure fucking chance, in walk my best work buddies from both Aziza and the City Club. Manuel, Denise, Adam and I had a blast. It's pretty cool to have your work friends in particular come check out your other scenes. I probably got in some trouble pouring the drinks for 'em heavy and free, but shit - what the hell good is a job like that one if I can't get into trouble treating my friends right once in a while? Ha!

Anyway, I'm feeling nicely rejuvenated from my holiday insanity and still can't wait for what 2006 has coming down the pike.

Life is fucking sweet.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Oh, my goodness.

I've gotta get out of the house.

Like, right now.

Oh, plus, for those who think by now that all I listen to is wimpy fiddle music (and you can suck my dick anyway, because bluegrass and folk and country are all fucking deadly music), I give you this masterpiece:

That's right.

Cryptopsy. The greatest death metal band in history.

They're back. With original vocalist Lord Worm. It's called Once Was Not.

I haven't been listening to a lot of extreme metal lately (kinda broke my heart when Nasum's Mieszko Talarczyk died in the tsunamis last year), but when I found out that Cryptopsy had returned after five years of studio silence, I had to check this out.

This music will fuck you up. Grow a pair and buy a copy.
FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from