Sean Maher's Quality Control

Friday, April 28, 2006

Happy Friday

From a press release today on Newsarama:



"Plus, there's an unprecedented opportunity for new projects that I'm sure will be announced very soon."



Recently read Coffee and Donuts: A Junkyard Cats Comic by Max Estes.

This is a nice reminder of what all ages comics can be; simple stories with characters you can read yourself into, charmingly dangerous bad guys, and a strong moral center that neither preaches nor overwhelms but simply offers us all a chance to feel good. It's the kind of thing that, when you're done reading it, makes you want to just go out and start being nice to people.

As for the story itself, it follows a pair of down-on-their-luck alley cats who decide one day to try robbing an armored truck. Two problems with this: first, they aren't criminals and have no idea what they're doing. Second, some real criminals were already planning the heist, and these amateurs have messed up their scheme. How will these crazy kids get out of this mess they've made?

Don't have a lot more to say about it, but that shouldn't reflect poorly on the book. It's just a simple, clean experience. I'm gonna try giving this to one of my young cousins and see if there's any response. It's in black-and-white, which throws up a little bit of a barrier, but *I* read some B&W stuff when I was a kid, so what the hell? Worth a shot!

(FYI: Comicon PULSE interviewed creator Max Estes here, including some discussion of his first book and his upcoming work.)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Selling Out

I try to keep this an indie-focused blog for the most part. Everyone and their mother is already out there talking about Civil War already, right? One of the things I love about Fossen, for example, is all the coverage of books I don't hear about anywhere else. I try to do the same; helping spread the buzz for Mouse Guard, letting you know about awesome books like Fragile Prophet and Burying Sandwiches that I found at APE, beating the drum for modern indie classics like Elk's Run. That's generally a big part of My Thing.

But really, My Thing is what kicks ass. Quality Control: this unit examined and approved by Inspector #1, that sort of thing. If I'm writing about it, it's cause I love it and I think you might, too.

That's the general idea.

And this week was completely owned, from my vantage point, by big-name super-hero comics. A new issue of Lucifer is always good news, of course, but on the "oh, hey, here's something I really dig" front this week are The Incredible Hulk #94 and Ultimate Fantastic Four #29.

Until now, I've been waffling a little on the Planet Hulk event. I'm a huge Hulk fan from waaaaay back, but the character hasn't been what I loved in a long goddamn time. The four-issue prelude to Planet Hulk really left me cold. The opening two issues were pretty solid, but I began to worry - the concept, the pitch for the Planet Hulk story seemed like something I've seen a bunch of times before, and not necessarily something with its hooks in me. A slave becomes a gladiator becomes a revolutionary becomes the emperor of a kinder, more powerful empire than the one that enslaved him, right?

Well, whatever. Super-heroes largely need to do familiar things. The hook is in the execution. Both the writer and the artist are there to give us big, iconic moments for the heroes, and come up with chilling, fucked-up origins for the supporting characters and villains. Stuff that's fun to read.

And part three of the "Planet Hulk: Exile" story arc brings this in spades. The Hulk takes down a big-ass "precision deathfire bomb." His teammate protests, "It's too much. Even you can't--" and Hulk interrupts, "Of course I can." Slam dunk. Pak's striking a nice balance between the limitations of "Graahhh! Hulk MAD!" and the more vague incarnations the character has had in recent years.

Then we get one-page origin stories for the brood warrior and the rock-lookin'-dude on Hulk's slave-gladiator team. Both stories are awesome ideas, squeezed down into tight little one-page vignettes, making the issue feel really dense and worth reading in this format. It's even followed up with a really excellent distillation on the Hulk/Banner relationship, the words "Puny Banner" given some real meaning within the Hulk persona's outlook on life. This is the best issue of The Incredible Hulk that I've read in probably a decade.

With Marvel putting every series it publishes into trade format these days, creators are having to really up their game to make the singles worth buying, and there's a handful of 'em rising to the challenge. Brubaker's one of 'em. Greg Pak seems to be another.

And so is Mark Millar. I'm really enjoying the hyper-dense idea pitch style he's been using in his Ultimate Fantastic Four run, but I haven't quite been grooving with his characterization of Ben Grimm. I don't like a crying Ben Grimm. Tortured, lonely, tragic Ben Grimm, sure, but crying doesn't seem like his thing to me. Which is why this issue was such a fucking explosion of cool comic book badassery.

Ben Grimm single-handedly saves the world from certain doom by being his own heroic self and making a huge personal sacrifice.

Like I said further up: it's not a new idea. It's in the execution. And the execution here is really goddamn fun to read. The big moments are huge. Grimm says "It's clobberin' time!" right as the tide turns. Usual, expected moment, right? But I wanted to jump out of my fucking chair. The build up was amazing. The rest of the issue ties in earlier stuff with some wild plotting that kinda reminds me of Superman: Red Son. A lot of people think Mark Millar is the best writer of traditional, balls-out wild super-hero action on the scene right now, and issues like this one (easily the best of his run so far) go a long way towards convincing me that's true.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Isotope Lovin'!

What I've got for you today is massive, massive love for James Sime, Kirsten Baldock and everyone at the Isotope for tracking this puppy down and hooking me up on my New Comics Day with the best gift ever:

The faithful and well-read among you will of course recognize the artwork of the brilliant Mr. David Petersen, creator of my new favorite series, Mouse Guard. This is original artwork (from the cover, no less) for the sold-out Mouse Guard sketchbook! I mean: HOLY SHIT!

Words fail me. The owner of my local comics shop noticing a new favorite book of mine, tracking down the cover art, contacting the artist, buying it and having it shipped to the store all as appreciation for my patronage? Un-fucking-believable. I guess it just goes to show that when you share the love, as I try to do every day, sometimes it comes back to you even bigger than you sent it.

This gorgeous page couldn't possibly go on my wall fast enough, save that my good pals over at AiT/Planet Lar hooked me up first with the scan and a beautiful frame.

God bless America, the Isotope, Mouse Guard, and us, everyone.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Tread Forth

Ugh. Expect a rough week of posts. I'll do my best to pick this up tonight and get some real content going, but on top of the rugged hangover yesterday I've got a manly cold slapping me around this morning. Work schedule's all fucked up, too. I'll do my best.


Daredevil #84 continued the streak last week. Brubaker seems to've remembered how to really jam it all in with every script; there's a lot going on here, as there has been in every issue of the run so far. Best book Marvel's putting out, now.


Read the reprint of Silver Surfer: The Rebirth Of Thanos last week and now I'm absolutely apeshit for more Jim Starlin's Thanos work. I then went back and re-read The Infinity War and was shocked to realize how similar I think it is, stylistically, to Infinite Crisis. Both totally full of wild, spiraling plot threads and guest appearances, many of which turn out to have little application to the story, but seem to be included anyway because (A) they're just really goddamn fun and lend a critical sense of chaos to the event, and (B) of course, they allowed a bunch of tie-ins to increase sales. I had a lot more fun with Infinity War, perhaps because I've always been more of a Marvel fan than a DC fan, in terms of the super-heros. When I see a big fight splash page with Rogue and Nova exchanging blows, it doesn't matter to me that neither of them has a single line of dialogue in the series; it's just fun to see them fight, and I already know who they are. Part of my problem in reading Infinite Crisis has been that, most of the time, I don't have the foggiest fucking idea who any of these people are. Superboy Prime coming back from the dead with the Anti-Monitor armor meant exactly zilch to me.

Anyway, my whole thing now is tracking down more Jim Starlin. Especially more Thanos.

Yo, Marvel! You've still got Silver Surfer #39 through #50 to publish in trade! Hook me up!


Been having some fun building up to the Pete Mortensen Challenge, over on Your Mom's Basement, despite Pete's desperate crap-dump in the closing days of April. May should be interesting.


And Fossen's back!


And there's a great picture of J-Rod in his post for today.

Monday, April 24, 2006


Jesus Christ, I'm in rough fucking shape today. He's usually a good buddy of mine, but yesterday that mick fucker John Jameson just kicked the holy shit out of me.

'Course, I had it coming. He's always on about how I should enjoy the great taste of Jameson responsibly, and I guess that was more important than I realized.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Wisdom of Conan (#27)

"A kingdom? Aye, I'll have one someday," he roared. "And a better one than this!

"But it'll be my own, by Crom - and on my own terms!"

And soon the howling winds rose, and he could be seen no more.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Wolverine's SHOCKING ORIGIN and more

Pete Mortensen frowned when I bought Wolverine: Origins #1 yesterday. I hadn't been planning on it, especially since writer Daniel Way's four-issue run on The Incredible Hulk was so godawful, but sometimes, as they say, the spirit catches you.

"Do you really think that's gonna be good?" he asked.

"Not really."

"Then why are you picking it up?"

"Well, because I really, really liked Wolverine comics back in the day, and I'm just wondering if I still do."

I mean, it's not like I'm destitute, Pete. I can afford three bucks to check in on an old favorite, low expectations or high. Four jobs, buddy.

Plus, Steve Dillon buys a whole lot of slack, for any book he's on.

The book's not brilliant, and it's not at all what I was expecting, but I enjoyed it.

I'd imagined - from the cover, anyway - Logan back in the Canadian wilderness, wondering from town to town, wolf pack to wolverine tribe, fishing in icy streams with his bone claws, wavering between his civilized and feral selves, bringing raw animal justice wherever he may go and wrestling with his own torn psyche.

I mean, those are cool Wolverine stories, right? Didn't you always want to see more of those?

What we get here instead is Wolverine taking down the White House, looking for answers.

Which, itself, is also a pretty cool Wolverine story, even if it's not what I wanted going in. Way's script is an Ennis-lite take on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Dugan, who does some great gruff grumbling and answer-demanding, and on a mostly silent Wolverine going around being a badass. Dillon draws pissed off men better than probably anybody else on the scene today, and there are plenty of opportunities for him to draw them.

It's a really solid first issue; I'm not sure where they're going with the series, but as far as introducing the creators' take on the character, it's entertaining and tells a full, satisfying issue's worth of story.


Heh heh heh... taking a quick look around Yelp yesterday, I discovered this review of Kimo's:

"Strange bar with even stranger bartenders and stranger still customers. I went to a private party held upstairs several months ago and that was cool, but their downstairs... Wow."

Monica L.

Ah, the places I go. She could well have been talking about me, I guess, but it's more fun to imagine which of the other nutjobs I work with was on shift that night...


Only discovered artist and creator Mike Hawthorne's comment on my review of Hysteria: One Man Gang #1, where he links us all to a page from his upcoming The Goon back-up. It goes a little something like this:


Arvid Nelson and Juan Ferreyra discuss the future of Rex Mundi - moving soon from Image to Dark Horse - with Brandon Thomas over at Silver Bullet. "No more scheduling problems," Nelson writes.

This is a recent favorite of mine, and I'm glad to see the book doing well.


Ooh, pretty! CBR's got a big preview of Flight, Volume 3 up, including pages by Kazu Kabuishi and Becky Cloonan. Fuck yeah!


Jason Latour begins releasing digital versions of the first four issues of The Expatriate on his website today, and while I'm getting pretty frustrated with B. Clay Moore books never coming out, I gotta say again how much I love Latour's work - it's work taking a look here for the aesthetic value alone.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Making the rounds...

Wow. I know I'm about a year behind the curve on this one, but Jesus, this is an awesome album:

I've listened to a little bit of Common's earlier stuff over the last couple years, having heard some buzz about his style being intelligent or sophisticated or whatever. Never really did it for me. But I kept hearing and hearing about his latest album, Be, and so I went ahead and took a copy up to the listening stations at Amoeba. The first track just completely blew me away and I had to pick the fucker up right then and there.

The present is a gift, and I just wanna be.


Keith Giffen and Mike Leib did this once before, but I missed out on it. Boom! Studios grabbed a bunch of cool old artwork from golden and silver age comics and let the writers just go nuts on the captions and word balloons; the last one looked like old war pulp, where the new book, What Were They Thinking?! - Some People Never Learn, covers a lot of different genres, opening with an alien invasion sci-fi story. This stuff is best in small doses, so most of the stories here are just wisely a few pages long, though the Giffen/Leib story - the funniest of the bunch, had me cracking up at least once per page - is a bit longer. It's cool because it makes the book more dense; you can easily pick it up and just spend a few minutes reading one or two stories (this is perfect crapper reading, and loyal readers will recall I consider myself a connoisseur of great crapper reading). There is, after all, no better place to read something that might make you laugh until you pee than right there on the can where you belong.

My other favorite from the book is Chris Ward's remix, an old comic newly titled "The Bowties That Bind", in which he somehow manages to make a surfing pun funny. Skilled stuff.

The Giffen/Leib stuff is so funny - honestly, some of my favorite Keith Giffen writing from the last few years - I'll have to go back and track down the first What Were They Thinking?! and give it a read.

This should be out next Wednesday, for those with a jones for the glory days of Mystery Science Theater 3000.


Of course, my readers are among the most intelligent and creative of the comics internet community, so I'd be hugely remiss if I didn't point you all to Jason Rodriguez' recent call for submissions over at the Postcards production blog. It's a fine bit of gauntlet throwing to us all, with a challenging concept - just the sort of thing that really works for a lot of writers, working within a box and coming up with creative ways to write themselves out of it. Check it out. Even if you're not a writer, I think it's a fun project to think about.


Anybody else wondering what happened to Mark Fossen? I don't read a lot of blogs, but Focused Totality is one of 'em, and near the top of the blog-reading-To-Do list, too.

Come back, Mark!


Ooh, check out what Josh Richardson posted!

I met this guy (the artist, not the girl-who-secretly-turns-out-to-be-a-guy in the picture) at APE and he seemed like a righteous fellow. I'm digging his art, and can't wait to see what he and Josh come up with.

EDIT: Turns out Josh wasn't happy with me spoiling his secret ending, so, sadly, it no longer turns out at the end that she's a guy. Instead - and I'm still working on convincing him this is a good idea - she should turn out to be the writer himself. I mean, I can't tell you how often I've walked in on the guy dressed just like the fierce/soft warrior-artist lady in the image above, the wig brushing down over one of his eyes while he gives me that look that makes me wonder, "Am I about to be told I'm beautiful, or killed?"

APE Decompression Wrap-Up

For those who may have missed my whirlwind of APE Decompression coverage last week, here's a quick post to link you all around:

Thoughts and responses to the convention itself:

APE Decompression, Day One
APE Decompression, Day Two
APE Decompression, Day Three
APE Decompression, Day Four (includes preview art from Gone But Not Forgotten)

Reviews of my APE stash:

APE Decompression: Cry Yourself To Sleep
APE Decompression: Gone But Not Forgotten
APE Decompression: The Nearly Infamous Zango
APE Decompression: A Late Freeze
APE Decompression: Fragile Prophet (Best In Show, books I came looking to find)
APE Decompression: Burying Sandwiches (Best In Show, books I discovered at the con)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Holy crap, that was a wild week. Hope everybody enjoyed the worm's-eye view on this year's incredible APE show...


New comics day tomorrow, yeah?

One of the books I got to pick up at APE and really loved was Jeremy Tinder's Cry Yourself To Sleep graphic novel, which is being published by Top Shelf with a perfectly reasonable cover price of seven bucks. Many of y'all might really enjoy this one.

Wait, are we really getting two Queen & Country: Declassified trades on the same day? I got a little lost vis a vis the difference between volumes two and three, but I'm glad to see them out anyway. They're gonna have to come home with me.

The second printing of Mouse Guard #1 comes out tomorrow from Archaia Studio Press. This book was a wild surprise hit and lots of folks missed out on their shot to get on board. Fortunately, I asked the Isotope to set aside a copy after finding some awesome preview art; check out my review here and, trust me, pick this up if you missed it before.

I'm psyched to see some creator-owned Dan Slott work coming tomorrow in the form of Big Max #1. I've talked about this twice before, so I'll lay off from this point until actually reading it.


July solicits are up! Hooray!

From DC, I'm almost exhausted - I keep trying to drop DCU books, and they keep making it harder. Grant Morrison's run with Andy Kubert on Batman (#655) and Paul Dini's run with J.H. Williams III on Detective Comics (#821) both begin in July, and I'm going to have to try them both, though I'm more excited about Detective. Garth Ennis has two new series launching, and while I'm a bit tired of his work with the character and will likely pass or trade-wait on A Man Called Kev, I'm always excited by his war books and will certainly be trying out Battler Briton for the promised WWII action. Bill Willingham's long-promised Fables offshoot finally begins with Jack of Fables #1, which I'm really curious to see, if mostly because I think the idea of Jack wandering about the world, jumping from community to community, opens up some interesting possibilities for a storyteller like Willingham. I'm sure to pick up the cheap Exterminators trade, after the buzz that book's been starting to grow lately, and I'm super-psyched to see another Hellblazer trade from Mike Carey's brilliant run.

Marvel's taking it a bit easier on me. I'm pretty curious about the new six-issue mini Beyond, which seems to promise some Secret War-related crossover fun - given Marvel's trade collection policies lately, I'm pretty sure I can wait it out, but it sounds fun. I'll definitely be picking up Chris Eliopoulos and Mark Sumerak's Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius - Super Summer Spectacular, though, 'cause their take on the character (Fantastic Four by way of Calvin & Hobbes) has been thoroughly entertaining. Mike Carey's run on X-Men gets running with issue #188, and I'll be checking it out despite my mixed reactions to Carey's various Marvel work; he's earned a lot of faith from me. I'm also really excited to see Dan Slott's first eight issues of The Thing collected in The Thing: Idol of Millions TPB, which will hopefully draw some attention to the book.

Dark Horse comes surprisingly strong for a month in which no issues of The Goon are coming. We finally get a trade collection of the BMW Films thing, The Hire, with stories from Busiek and Waid among others. Joe R. Lansdale's run on Conan is instead given a mini-series with artist Timothy Truman (whose work on the main series has been awesome so far) called Conan and the Songs of the Dead, which is especially good news since it opens the door to a bit more creative team solidarity oin the main book. Brian K. Vaughan's work on The Escapist is finally on my list with a $1 first issue launching "the new mini-series" (?), but that isn't even the cheapest thing they're publishing in July. That'd be Dark Horse: Twenty Years, a scant twenty-five cents for a book containing work from Eric Powell, Frank Miller, Mike Mignola, Cary Nord, Sergio Aragonés, Art Adams, and Joss Whedon. Plus a whole bunch of other people, apparently. I mean, Jesus: who the hell isn't going to buy this one?

Image comes through with a whole bunch of my pull-list titles, including Casanova (following the Fell format at 16 pages of story for two bucks), Emissary (new home of the Small Gods team), Fear Agent (Rick Remender's best book, if you ask me), Hysteria: One Man Gang, Invincible, The Walking Dead and Noble Causes, and seems to be determined to add another title to my pull list with the third issue of Negative Burn in as many months, still boasting Phil Hester stories and therefore still getting my fucking money. Johnston's already pointed out that the new issue of Savage Dragon (#128) will be a Wanted crossover, which sounds like a fucking trip and a good time to try out the book again. Umbra #2 (of 3) features Mike Hawthorne artwork and promises to ramp up the violence, which sounds cool to me given the artist's talent for fight scenes. 24seven GN is my preferred of the two 200-page anthologies Image is putting out, simply by virtue of the talent list attached (Becky Cloonan, Phil Hester, Mike Huddleston (working with Hester again, maybe?), Alex Maleev, Tony Moore, Eduardo Risso and more. Jeff Amano's The Cobbler's Monster GN sounds like a potentially fascinating take on the Pinnochio story, while Doug Tennapel's Iron West GN brings to mind Kazu Kibuishi's wonderful Daisy Kutter mini from a couple years ago (and reminds me: whatever happened to Dusty Star?), combining western scenery with robot sci-fi plotting. But what I'm most excited to see - this whole month, really - is the launch of Richard Starkings' Hip Flask monthly (please) off-shoot series, Elephantmen #1! It's been a hell of a story so far and I can't wait to see where Starkings and his various artistic collaborators go with this book. My impression is that we're looking at sort of a "Forgotten Tales of..." format, which would be pretty exciting, but I'll take whatever I can get. Looks great.


Some nice love coming my way from James Sime over at his The Comic Pimp column this week, in which he provides his own brand of post-APE wrap-up, including a bitchin' video from his incredible APE Aftermath party, and a moment taken to reflect on his love for the show: felt just like those Christmases from long ago... only it wasn't in December, and there wasn't a snowflake to be found anywhere.

It was the Alternative Press Expo. Where the Concourse Pavilion was my massive Christmas Tree and every table held gifts, folded and stapled into little packages of fascination, carefully crafted stories for me to take home and treasure.


Monday, April 17, 2006

APE Decompression: Burying Sandwiches

See, part of why I've been waiting to review Rob Sato's incredible Burying Sandwiches is because it's easily my favorite new book of APE 2006. But another part is that I've got almost no idea what to write about it. It's just really fucking good.

Burying Sandwiches is the tale of Janice Takeda, who "from the beginning... hadn't cared much for food." The story follows her from early childhood up through her early adulthood, wrestling the entire time with here intense dislike of eating.

We get snapshots of Janice's troubles throughout childhood, a tense anxiety building and building, until finally, at the age of nine, she determines a solution: she just plain won't eat anymore. She begins burying her lunches in a hole in the ground behind some old shed, alone and desperate.

It's at this point that the ghosts show up.

Fans of Sam Kieth's classic, The Maxx, will begin to recognize some similar motifs. Janice builds her own private life all around the ghosts, who through an especially chilling sequence prove to hold the solution to her problems with food. I'm reminded of The Outback and the blind little Isz creatures in Kieth's work. There's a level of fantasy and surrealness to the solution the ghosts provide, and this lends the second half of the story an incredible feeling of uncertainty and unpredictability, which is unusual for a story that reads - as this does - so much like a fairy tale.

A big draw for me - the factor that, fortunately, compelled me to buy the book when Molly picked it up and showed it to me - is the artwork. Sato's style is completely his own and it's fascinating. It also suits perfectly the story's unique combination of innocent imagination and stark, chilling consequence.

Every single page of this story stimulated my imagination, with just enough details left out that I could read some of my own interpretations into the tale. On one level, it's a fascinating take eating disorders, a subject in which I normally have little interst. On another level, it's about isolation, about being different from other people in ways we can't help, and what we'll do when that makes us desperate. The ending leaves me with a lot of questions, but mostly it just leaves me thinking.

I don't think I've put down a book with such a feeling of interest in quite a while.

Sato's website features several preview pages and information on distribution (including a direct link to the Last Gasp entry). I cannot recommend enough that you give it a look.

Friday, April 14, 2006

APE Decompression: Fragile Prophet


I didn't realize it until I went to reference my review from last year, but Fragile Prophet has been a "Best In Show" read for me twice in a row now.

I picked up an advance copy of the first issue from the Lost In The Dark Press table at APE 2005, and reviewed it on the old Zealot's Lore site (back when I somehow thought that was a good name for a blog). I said at the time that "it was my favorite "find" – oh, I picked up a lot of other stuff I loved, like a bunch of mini-comics from the good Mr. Jeremy Tinder and the big new trade collection of Arsenic Lullaby, stuff I knew going in that I would love, but this was my favorite book to discover."

This year, they've finished the book and have put together a handsome trade paperback, complete with - get this - a quote from my review printed on the back.

Well, shit, walking up to the booth and finding that just made me feel like a million bucks. It helps, of course, that not only does the first chapter hold up as well as I remembered it (better, actually, since they've retouched a lot of the lettering), but the complete story is absolutely fantastic.

It's a great book, and I realized in describing it to Manuel that it's got a fucking wicked hook, too. Dig it:

An autistic young boy begins seeing pieces of the future, and one days sees his own; he turns to his older brother - his only family in the world - and asks, "Why do you let me die?"

I mean, bam! Sold!

I said last year that artist Stephen R. Buell "has a style that reminds me a bit of the old Aeon Flux cartoons on Liquid Television; the anatomy is slightly skewed, the faces stretched out, but there remains something very viscerally human and personal about the characters he draws. It’s just stylized enough to make the reader a little bit uncomfortable, a little bit unfamiliar, but without alienating us from the characters."

That style serves the rest of the story just as well as it did the opening chapter, only in the later bits of the book Buell mixes it up and gets a little more experimental. There are some really amazing splash pages here, for the big moments, and they all pack a punch. But the real change-ups come in the final chapter of the story, right at the same time that Jeff Davidson's script begins taking its biggest risks. It's incredibly brave storytelling, and must have been a huge challenge for the creators. I've long been fond of music producer Rick Rubin's advice to Slayer in their early days, that "the perfect take is the one that feels like it's ready to fall apart, but never does." That's much like my experience reading the end of this story. It jumps the rails, for sure - heads in a direction I hadn't expected at all - but amazingly, it all feels right. It fits the characters, and it fits the story. But it wouldn't have the same crackle if it didn't feel chancey - the roll of the dice is a big part of what makes it so exciting.

These final pages pull an amazing double-act, revealing a character arc we didn't see coming before, making a drastic change to the story, and yet a necessary one, one that feels inevitable once you've read the sequence. And the final page... it's just amazing. Kind of thing that leaves you with a big, heavy sigh waiting in your chest. As I said of the first issue, "I don’t know whether to shudder or smile as I read these pages, and if I find myself doing both, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable contradiction." Davidson and Buell keep that vibe going right to the last drop, and I haven't been so emotionally taken with a comic in a long time. See, what these guys understand is that it's kinda boring to tell a story that's only sad, or only inspiring, or a story that includes the gamut of emotions but segments each one into different scenes. Here, we get it all at once; the complexity and interaction of the emotions being evoked give the reader a feeling of fullness, and a feeling of satisfaction that isn't often achieved. It's a marvelous accomplishment.

The first fourteen pages are up at the book's website, and I urge you to take a look. The book should also be available soon from the Lost In The Dark webstore. This is fantastic comics. Seriously. I want everybody to read this.

Stay tuned Monday for my favorite discovery of APE 2006!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

APE Decompression, Day Four

Whew, doing a lot of writing this week.

I've got artwork posted now for Gone But Not Forgotten, which I reviewed on Tuesday. Here's a sample; click it to check out the rest.

I'm out of ranting about the con for today, and I need to take a one-day break from the reviews.

Tomorrow, I'll be looking at my two favorite finds from APE 2006. One book, I came to the con determined to find, and it not only delivered on my hopes but brightened my day considerably more than I could have predicted. The other took me completely off guard, blind-sided me with its awesomeness, and I'd never even have found it if not for Molly.

For now, I really need to go get the new Shaolin Cowboy.

But tomorrow, the Best Of APE 2006!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

APE Decompression: A Late Freeze

A Late Freeze, written and drawn by Danica Novgorodoff, is the winner of the 2006 Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics, and should be in retail stores today*.

This mostly-mimed story reminds me of books like Kochalka's Monkey vs. Robot or some of [Norwegian] Jason's more affectionate work. It's about a family coming together in the unlikeliest of circumstances, struggling to survive in a world that won't leave them alone, suffering the consequences and ultimately keeping faith and devotion to each other.

But it just so happens, see, that the family is made up of a robot recently escaped from his factory (daddy), a bear (mommy), their baby (!!!), and an adopted frog on the run from the authorities. They all run from what haunts them and, for a while, it seems they can build their own life on their own terms, together.

Of course, living a life so free is not without its costs, and not everybody here "wins", though the book retains a hopeful, heartening feel. What really strikes me, though, is that even those whose freedom is ultimately taken from them do not give up on each other, and this point is driven home near the end in what for me is the most moving passage of the book, when Momma Bear takes up a job in the factory so she can rebuild her darling Papa Robot [characters named by me, not Novgorodoff]. Heartbreaking, but in that rare way that actually makes you feel better.

*: Edit, care of some info from the good ol' LCS; right now, most retail shops probably don't have the book. I took the listing from Midtown Comics' listing, which apparently is NOT an accurate gauge of the Diamond listing (and, I'm told, you can find copies of the book for a better price). So I'd recommend swinging by the Isotope, where I'm certain you can pick up a copy and a congratulations on your good taste, or else try shooting Danica an e-mail via the contact page on her website.

APE Decompression: The Nearly Infamous Zango

Ah, bless good aul Rob Osborne.

Long-time fans of Osborne's work will recognize some of his best thematic material in The Nearly Infamous Zango #1, which chronicles a moment of truth (and its haphazard fallout) in the life of super-villain Zango.

Being a plain old super-villain ain't enough for Zango, who is right at home in the oeuvre of a man whose first book was about his desire to conquer the earth through comics. No; Zango shouts it from the mountain tops, "I want to be the greatest villain alive!"

The book is full of naked ambition, charismatic and convincing as much as it is ill-conceived and comedic. You never know quite how seriously to take him; Osborne's got a great poker face. You find yourself rooting for his characters: kept in check as they are by their mistakes and stumbles, they never give up. You begin to hope this guy will become the greatest villain alive, though the road be long and steep.

Osborne also begins working on building an ensemble here, and I think it's a stronger book for it - watching Zango interact with his flirty and flighty daughter, or the mad scientist who's building his army, or big-dumb-and-strong Van Freako, is a big part of the fun, as each character makes him look ridiculous in a different way and helps build the challenging framework of his life. They lend a structure to the issue, and to the potentially ongoing story, that could give the series some legs if Osborne decides to make this a longer-term project.

It's a fun goddamn book, available online at Khepri (which now features a five-page preview, containing one of my favorite sequences in the book). His other books - 1000 Steps To World Domination and Sunset City - are published by AiT/Planet Lar and should be available in any discerning comics shop.

Ape Decompression, Day Three

My buddy Manuel convinced his girlfriend, Denise, to come with us to APE, after dragging her to WonderCon last month.

On the short walk towards the Concourse we began warning her.

"There's gonna be a lot of sorry sacks of shit in there, and you kinda just have to suck it up."

"It's kind of a gamble; there's cool stuff in there, but you're gonna have to wade through a bunch of shit to get to it."

"Just don't let the creepy guys get to you."

Funny thing is, she loved the show. Had a great time.

It's a gamble, yeah: but this year, everything was coming up sevens and elevens. The whole vibe was kicked off with a great start when we walked up to the Sugar Free Comics table and creator Shana Manion assaulted our senses with probably the most enthusiastic, confident, and completely insane "check out my comic" pitch I've ever seen in my life, for her 24-hour comic, Ask Miss Anthropy. It's hard to recreate - her "nerd chic" explosion of manic energy reminded me a little bit of James Sime's more insane moments of uncontrolled enthusiasm, but the comparison doesn't really do either of them justice; James is more carnival huckster where Shana was doing sort of a stand-up comic thing, all punchlines and snappy comebacks - but it sure as hell put a smile on our faces, and let me and Manuel relax: maybe this wouldn't seem so creepy to Denise after all.

She ended up telling us she liked APE a lot more than she did WonderCon, and her explanation made a lot of sense to me; at the "fanboy" cons, like WonderCon, you're always gonna see the same thing, and it's largely gonna be the comic book cliche. Jim Lee will always be there. Kevin Smith will always be there. Everyone will have their copies of Wolverine or whatever the hell it is they want signed by whoever is sitting behind a booth signing hundreds upon hundreds of books in a row. The energy is there, the excitement is there, but it's more static - not a lot of new things really going on, y'know? One major publisher shifts around some popular creators on some popular books and the machine keeps going.

APE, though, is a new beast every time, and you never have any idea what to expect. You don't even know what's at the next table because you're too caught up in where you're at right now.

I guess that vibe really came through, 'cause she had a blast.

New readers, new consumers, new blood, new comics.


Well, I'll be. Rodriguez is back.

Watch out, everyone else who has a blog. We're all about to look like idiots.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

APE Decompression: Gone But Not Forgotten

As I walked up to the Team 8 Design table, I saw a lot of cool-looking shit (art prints, t-shirts, mini-comics...), but one book caught my eye in particular. The cover was sticking up, revealing some interior artwork, and when I picked it up and started flipping through I was amazed at the quality of it.

"I'm making another one!" somebody shouted from behind the table. I looked over and saw him bent over what looked like a paper slicer. "The cover won't be fucked up!"

Well, it was a bit of last-minute work, but I had to admire the man's gumption.

And the artwork was awesome, so I waited it out. Have to give the fellow credit: he didn't shake easy. He took his time and made sure the new copy was perfect, even with me standing there in front of him. I mean, that'll plumb rattle some fellows, won't it?

Turned out it was the writer and artist of the book, Ian Sampson. He was friendly and confident, which was a relief - this was one of my first stops and I hate to start the convention off on the wrong foot with nervous, mousy types who don't even like their own work.

Anyway, the book itself: like I said, the art is a real goddamn eye-catcher. I thought at first glance I was seeing some Geof Darrow influence, but I think that was just because of the detailed inking. Sampson does great work with the black and white format here, playing with different levels of contrast and starkness to enhance the story of a sin-eater, a ritualistic holy man of some kind, who comes to a lonely mountain shack on the occaision of a death. The family seems wary but brings him into their home and lets him do his thing; but their response to him when it's finished surprised me, and made a chilling end to what I realized was a wanderer's story, about a powerful, strong, but tortured and lonely man.

It's all done in pantomime, so a lot of this is just my interpretation. These things are fun like that, when they're not trying to point out every little thing the writer wants you to notice. This is a more subtle book than that; Sampson seems to invite interpretation.

I wish I could post some images; I don't have a scanner and there doesn't seem to be much in the way of comics content on the website. But I'll throw an e-mail at 'em and see if I can't get something for you by the end of the week, 'kay?

EDIT: Done and done. Behold!

(Click images to enlarge. There are NOT in sequence, just some pages I thought you'd dig. If you'd like to check out Ian Sampson's work, the Team 8 website's a little light; try his mySpace account, or e-mail him at ian [at]

APE Decompression: Cry Yourself To Sleep

Top Shelf is calling Cry Yourself To Sleep "a stellar debut," and while I'll go with the first part, this ain't his first book. Homeboy's been making really awesome mini-comics for at least three years now - his table was my very first APE experience, way back in 2004. Which is weird, because as a result I recognize all three main characters here - but more on that later. At any rate, that's just me quibbling, like one of those kids who got a rapper's first mix-tape cassette for a couple bucks way back in the day; don't call it a comeback, I've been here for years, y'see.

This book does mark something new though, and it's really friggin' awesome - he's been picked up by Top Shelf. They're really the perfect publisher for him, and in turn he seems to have put a lot of growth and thought into this, his debut graphic novel.

I said last year that Tinder's stuff was "drawn and written in a simple, crude style that should appeal to all the folks who tell me Craig Thompson and James Kochalka are great comics artists." What a cocky little shit I was!

What's funny is that I don't really see the resemblance anymore. At a glance, Tinder's style seems to remain the same here - it's simple and iconic, with nuanced emotions coming through in clean, minimal lines. I think that may be the difference; the sketchy quality is becoming more consistent and more expressive. Faces without pupils in the eyes still radiate inner turmoil of all kinds, and the dialogue invites us to read between the lines and push ourselves into the story.

S'funny, because as I said, these are all characters I'm familiar with. There's a robot, for example, who decides over the course of this book to become a better person. My read of this was probably enhanced a bit by this mini-comics (click to enlarge)--

--which I read last year. Don't get me wrong, I think CYTS stands on its own perfectly well, but the recurring characters are a nice Easter egg of sorts for us lucky APE folks.

Anyway, the story being told here is a deceptively simple one, following three parallel character arcs that all inform and reflect each other. Everybody's got a challenge - Andy Saturday is lost in his own head, talking to himself and writing fiction that only reproduces what he sees in his own life; Jim the rabbit is angry and broke, unable to hold jobs because he just can't seem to find a boss who's not an asshole and out of rent money because he's spent it all on video games and strippers; and then there's Robot, a character who'd remind us of Data from Star Trek is Data had been a callous asswipe before deciding he wanted to become more human.

All three characters' needs are different incarnations of the same challenge; all three are struggling to connect to the world and relationships around them.

There's really no point in explaining it past that; it's a sweet story, with some heart-warming suggestions and occasional poop jokes.

I love it.

APE Decompression, Day Two

Ah, good - I'm not the only one writing about this year's stellar Alternative Press Expo:

Josh Richardson provides an insider's view (and a hearty recap of the festivities on Saturday night, both at Isotope and at Josh's "Aftermath Afterparty" [God forgive me]) from In The Trenches, including a spotlight on his swag (a comic based on "November Rain"? ...sounds good) and a shot of me goofing around with good buddy Joe Keatinge:

And Jeremy Nisen posts an excellent wrap-up over at SFist, including photos of some of the cool booths he checked in on.

Am I the only fool who doesn't take pictures of everything?

The real trip is, as we've been discussing on this MillarWorld thread, that everybody finds different stuff. Everybody has a different experience. It's a remarkably dense convention floor - you've got the usual recognizables like Top Shelf, Fantagraphics, AiT/Planet Lar and the mini-shop set up by Comic Relief, but once you spread out into the side lanes, it's impossible to guess what you'll see.

You can't even tell from a distance. Molly and I figured we'd end up a bit dry on what we dubbed "The Ghetto Side" (based largely, we realized in retrospect, on the presence of Aaron Farmer and the B-Minus guys), but I think my favorite "new" creator from the con was one I found over there.


Which brings me to another point. I've got WAY more shit here than I'm possibly going to be able to review this week, so I'm organizing. For the rest of the week, I'm going to [try to] do two reviews each day.

One review will be something totally new. Somebody I never met before the con, whose work I'd never seen. A big part of the fun of APE is exploring new territory and seeing where strangers want to take your imagination.

The second review will be of new work by folks I'm already familiar with. I had a very different experience this year than the first time I went, after all - a number of these guys are mainstays, people I rely on seeing at APE so I can catch up on all the cool shit they've been up to since the last time I saw 'em. That's another rad thing about APE, y'see - it's like a big giant wicked cool comic book store that you only get to go to once a year. It's like going to your Local Comics Shop and looking for the new X-Men book, only I'm there to find the new Jeremy Tinder, Miriam Libicki, Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, Rob Osborne or Jeff Davidson and Stephen Buell comics. Dig?


The world keeps turning, though. Blair brings the pain this week over at All The Rage, with some really bitchin' new Ghost Rider pages (wow, did Texeria always look that good?), news of a really cool-sounding new Image anthology, and the GODDAMN FUCKING BUMMER news that the second issue of the Small Gods mini is cancelled.


And James is back in full swing over at The Comic Pimp, with his trademark ten-page column this time interviewing Dave Ritchie and Dave Pifer, who run the Secret Headquarters comics shop in L.A., damn them both.

God, the way I go on you'd swear L.A. had done something terrible to me. Is there a repressed memory in there somewhere? Did I get slipped a roofie or some GHB and lose the memory? Did you date-rape me, Los Angeles?

Monday, April 10, 2006

APE Decompression, Day One

Holy shit.

Okay, I've been going to APE for - if memory serves - three years now. It's always been a mixed bag, of course. The bright-eyed, talented, professional amateurs with amazing comics to sell or fun stories to tell have, historically, been few and far inbetween; enough of them there to make the trip worthwhile, to send me home with a big fat stack of cool stuff and a smile on my face, but not enough to completely wash out the taste of all those sorry-ass sacks of shit that didn't belong there in the first place.

I laid out a lot of my thoughts on the difference last year, launching a huge discussion on the Isotope forum about how to sell comics, but this year I don't think that's going to be necessary. I have a few thoughts - folks with business cards and websites, for example, are going to get the bulk of my attention in the future, simply by virtue of practicality - but mostly I walked away this year with one thought on my mind:

Holy shit.

That was incredible

This year brought easily the strongest Alternative Press Expo I've yet attended. This stuff was so consistently good, y'see, that I didn't really have to bother with the sad fuckers - I was a bit more judgemental this time around, walking with a bit more swagger and determination. I didn't do it because I'm any hotter shit than I was then, or because I'm any meaner - I did it to protect my wallet. Just a few booths in, I realized it was a whole new ballgame, and the two hundred bucks I'd brought with me "just in case" was in very real danger.

I'm going to have to spend the bulk of this week just extolling the virtues of all the awesome books I've been reading ever since, but I'll lay it all out for you today, digest-sized, so you can check out any titles or names that catch your eye.


My APE Stash, 2006 Edition:

Cry Yourself To Sleep, and several mini-comics, by Jeremy Tinder. I was super-psyched to see this one - I've been grooving on Tinder's self-produced eight-pagers for three years now, and seeing that he'd been picked up by Top Shelf for a full length book was really exciting - like seeing a kid you played ball with in high school make the majors or something.

A Late Freeze, by Danica Novgorodoff, who won this year's Isotope Award For Excellence in Mini-Comics, and asked during her acceptance speech if she could do it wearing the Doctor Strange cloak James keeps on display. According to the Diamond shipping list, this should be in retail shops this Wednesday.

Just Another Guy With A Planet For A Head and The Nomad Church #1 by Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, who won the award last year. I'm a devotee now, having thoroughly enjoyed pretty much everything of the man's I've ever read.

The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft preview by Mac Carter, Jeff Blitz and Adam Byrne. These guys had a really gorgeous poster on sale for just a buck, but unfortunately they were also one of my first stops and I wasn't about to carry a poster all over hell. If you were one of the lucky ones to pick that sucker up, props.

Metro and Gone But Not Forgotten by Ian Sampson. Homeboy was actually folding and stapling copies as I stood there, which honestly impressed me more with its determination and moxie than it annoyed me with its unpreparedness. Plus, this guy's art was really excellent, so it was well worth hanging out for a minute to get a freshly minted copy.

The Nearly Infamous Zango by world-conqueror Rob Osborne, the first winner of the Isotope award. Osborne finds a lot of inspiration in the concept of ambition, so I'm looking forward to his take on a "mere" super-villain aiming for world domination.

Hip Flask: Unnatural Selection (issue #1) and Elephantmen (issue #2) by Richard Starkings, Joe Casey, and Ladronn, who ties with Quitely and Darrow for the Best Slow Artist In The World award. Spoke with John at ComiCraft about the upcoming Elephantmen ongoing series, and it sounds really cool - he said it should drop in July and I couldn't be more excited.

Red Chapel #1 and Paper Cuts by Caleb Monroe and Elk's Run artist Noel Tuazon. Small world, huh? I've been banging the drum for Elk's Run for, what, a year now? And just like that I meet one of Tuazon's early (and continuing) collaborators at a Con. Caleb was really cool and I'm looking forward to reading this.

Feed America's Children featuring Major Impact, from Wildcard Productions and featuring artwork by Darick Robertson, Phil Winslade, Scott Kolins, Brandon McKinney, Ron Lim, Keiron Dwyer, C.P. Smith, Paul Harmon, Norm Breyfogle, P. Craig Russell, Joe Jusko, Jimmy Palmiotti, and good ol' Rafael Navarro, who tried to slip Molly the tongue at the Isotope party after the con.

A free postcard from Joshua Ellingson, whose artwork was incredible but out of my budget.

Towards a Hot Jew: the Israeli soldier as fetish object by Miriam Libicki, whose jobnik! #4 I reviewed Friday. This one is described as a "drawn essay" and has a more photorealistic art style, so I'm curious to see how she switches it up here.

East Coast Rising, the first in a new manga series by Becky Cloonan and my first Tokyopop purchase ever. It was gonna take Becky to do it, to make me break down like that. A look at the original art she brought with her convinced me it was a must-buy.

Burying Sandwiches by Rob Sato. Rob's got a really wild, original style to his artwork (preview pages are up at the website) and the story I picked up from flipping through just a couple pages seemed accessible and unique at the same time, so eight bucks seemed a really fair price for this original graphic novel.

The Waiting Sun by Justin Madson, who had a really impressive spread: gorgeous framed art prints to grab my eye, trade collections of his Happy Town series, single issues for the tight budgets, and a "box set" including pretty much everything on the table for a mere twenty-five bucks. I got this done-in-one trade for five bucks because, again, Justin suffered from being an early stop in my travels, but this Kochalkaesque stuff looks great. My good buddy Joe Keatinge picked up the box set, so I'll be looking to pick his brain about how the rest of the stuff worked out.

Red Magic: Houdini's Secret by Ed Sams. These guys had a lot of interesting chapbooks for sale, and I went with Houdini because, well, I've been looking to read up on the guy for a while now and this seemed like just my chance.

Grizzled Comics featuring John Wayne Dixon, Gritty Tales of Espionage and Danger, and Girl Friday book one, all by Kyle Strahm. This guy had an awesome art style that reminded me of Kyle Hotz and Eduardo Risso, and he did something I thought was cool - you know how artists get all self-concious and have a hard time pimping out their shit sometimes? Kyle found a way to twist that to his advantage. "That's my earliest stuff you're looking at; I'm really excited about the new book [Girl Friday] because I think I've changed my style a lot and I'm a lot happier with it." See, what he did there? I'm not happy with this one quickly twists into You should really see this one! Much more effective salesmanship than simple self-criticism.

Break #6: Catch Me If and Break #7: Over and Over by Briana Miller. I picked up and really enjoyed Briana's Walk Like Tall Birds (Break #5, apparently) last year, which featured a touching marionette love story between an elephant and a giraffe. It was nice to see her return to the show with two new comics, and she seemed pretty excited about them, so they're at the top of my read pile.

The Homeless Channel #2 by Matt Silady, who you may remember won the Rob Osborne original art poetry contest I ran when I first got started blogging last march. Matt's a really cool guy and super-excited about his book; big smile on his face as he told me folks were comparing his progress between issues #1 (last year) and #2 (this year) as moving from Brian Bendis towards Tony Harris. I can see what they were getting at and I'm psyched to see where Matt's gonna go with this.

Other Days #1 by Brian Fukushima had a guy who looks like an old friend of mine and Molly's on the cover, which was why Molly picked it up and showed it to me. But I opened it and really liked the interior art style and the coloring, so it had to go in the haul. Damn coincidences.

Fistman #2: Fistman Fears Fish by Joseph Bergin III was a purchase that came from a big balls exhibitor move: as I walked past, glancing from several feet away at Joseph's table, he saw my glance at held out a copy of his book - "Would you like to take a look?" Could've come off desperate and sad, but instead came off gutsy and confident. It's all in the delivery, friends. Anyway, the book itself looks pretty funny, and the character design for Fistman is cute.

Diary of a Catering Whore by Sean Seamus McWhinny (Christ, you think that guy might be Chinese?), whose Head Trip I bought at my LCS months ago. I enjoyed that one - a book about his father's descent into Alzheimer’s - so I figured I'd check out this tale of terror in the service industry.

A zodiac calendar by Chris Koehler, just because his sketchbook - laying flat, front and center - was so awesome I wanted to bring some of his art home.

Death By Sexy version 1.2 by Evan Keeling was a cool find for two reasons - Evan's part of the D.C. Conspiracy with Quality Control amigo Jason Rodriguez, and he's got a really righteous (and ambitious) concept for the book. These are all concert posters for the band Death By Sexy, which have to include the time, date and ticket price of each show, and Evan's trying to connect all these posters into an ongoing story in which each poster is one full page. Pretty wild, huh? I'm looking forward to checking it out.

A really gorgeous postcard-sized art print by Jaime Zollars, whose stuff you should really look for. Lots of samples at the link; if Jaime ever does sequential work, this kind of thing would fit really nicely in one of the Flight books.

Arsenic Lullaby: The Donut Cometh by Doug Paszkiewicz was a highlight, of course, as was seeing Doug again. This book is essentially the second volume of "the complete" series (first was Year of the Fetus), which pretty well catches us all up on his current work. Arsenic Lullaby has been a bit slow to release lately, which Doug told me is because he's been picked up for some word in Mad Magazine, starting this month. Holy shit! I couldn't be more psyched for the guy. If you're not into baby killing or holocaust humor, this ain't for you (Ross), but if you are secretly a horrible, evil person, this will have you rolling.

And finally, the book I was perhaps the most excited to find was Fragile Prophet by Jeff Davidson and Stephen R. Buell of Lost In The Dark Press. I did a fairly extensive review of the advance of the first issue I picked up last year, and they quoted me on the back of their trade collection! The story's complete, the collection is printed (and it's beautiful, complete with adjustments to the lettering, which I'd criticized as being unclear in the first issue), and it really comes together as a story. This one's getting a full review for sure, but the short and fat of it is: fantastic.

Amazing year, everyone. The bar has been seriously raised. Thanks for it.


This guy did a big college report on Cameron Stewart, and specifically his work on the upcoming Vertigo series The Other Side, and got some preview art I haven't seen yet. He's blogged it to us all here.


I've told y'all to watch out for Jason McNamara - he's a dangerous conversationalist - and there's a bit of evidence now online in the form of his recent interview with Newsarama.

Clever bits like this:

Every time we want, fear or express something we shape the world. Society isn’t something prefabricated, that can be delivered to your house on top of a pizza. We’re all culpable.

And a couple really cool "how I met..." stories, including his Larry Young story:

Back in 2004 a local television show decided to spotlight the best in Bay Area Cartoonists. It featured interviews with big shots like Batman writer Judd Winick, AiT-PlanetLar publisher Larry Young and… us. We were supposed to go on before Larry Young. But Tony and I got super nervous and had to stop off for a bottle of Gentlemen’s Jack first. We showed up ninety minutes late completely hammered. I nervously called Larry Young “Larry King” like fifty times. We mumbled and cursed our way through the interview, hit on the host and then left to go to work at our day jobs.


Friday, April 07, 2006

jobnik! and APE

Wow, it's been a rough week. Did I really miss TWO days of posting? Well, you'll have to forgive me, or else beat my ass down at APE tomorrow when you see me.


Several people I'm looking forward to seeing tomorrow. One is Miriam Libicki, writer and artist of jobnik!, which I've discussed before.

Issue #4 came across my eyes recently, and I think it's the best of the series so far.

Libicki's facial expressions are really becoming a hallmark of her artwork. They lend a subtext to every scene, and tell a lot about not just her characters and their "acting" throughout the book, but also about her perspective on everything; she draws herself with bags under her eyes almost constantly, weary and nervous and self-doubting and tired. Nobody else seems to get them; relative to her, they're all a very natural, comfortable part of their own environment. It seems to suggest her unique position as an outsider, an American amidst the "real" Israelis.

Another thing Miriam's really good at is making me uncomfortable. This issue contains maybe the most uncomfortable sex scene I've ever read. It's only two pages long and not too graphic, but the awkwardness of it and the relationship it builds between the two characters - again, largely through facial expression - is really striking.

The issue ends with a nice bit of cliffhanger narration - we're not so "on the edge of our seats" that the wait for issue #5 is an irritant, but we are curious and interested. I'm looking forward to where the story continues...


So, who should I be looking for tomorrow? I've got no idea what to expect, but I'm pretty damned excited.

See you at APE, my friends, or at the Aftermath. Either way, it's gonna be a fun fucking weekend.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Speaking in Tongues

Holy shit, APE is THIS WEEKEND.

That really snuck up on me.


Oh, and check out the list of who's coming. Scott Morse, Douglas Paszkiewicz, Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, Kazu Kibuishi, Jeremy Tinder, Jim Mahfood, the Lost In The Dark guys, Rick Geary, Becky Cloonan, Alex Robinson... Jesus, what a list. There's even someone awesome enough to have the name Wena Poon.


I got a "sneak preview" of sorts of Josh Fialkov's new comic with artist Kody Chamberlain, Punks.

The thing is apeballs. I've never read a comic quite this nuts; Josh is writing a series of characters that read like brain spasms, a series that seems to be aiming more to send electricity up the spine than anything else.

There's a certain stream-of-conciousness vibe to the style here, but it works because the damn pages are dripping with fun. Chamberlain's cut-up style and Josh's meta-dialogue combine like peanut butter and nitroglycerin.

A lot of folks will be baffled, I think, but that might be part of the point. It's the kind of book that will invite us to bafflement, and then, when we're most vulnerable, stab us in the head.

The blood will look cool.


James Sime ramps up his online comics previews - after doing, what, four of 'em in the last four weeks? - with a fresh one every day this week.

One might guess he's building up to this weekend's Alternative Press Expo, the APE Aftermath party, and the award ceremony for the Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics.

Or, one might just download a bunch of cool previews for new upcoming comics.


Neil Kleid is really coming at it gangbusters these days, ain't he? Brownsville came out, he's got The Intimidators going on at Shadowline, the Call of the Wild adaptation... now he's got a new book coming from Slave Labor, called Ursa Minors.

Here's the pitch: "Tom, Richard and Harry are Bears One, Two and Three: gifted with
high-tech robotic bear suits that grant them incredible strength, night vision and razor sharp claws. While most would be tempted to use them heroically, the pop-culture raised/internet age defenders of Bigby City focus their strengths on comics, beer, and comics about beer."

Photobucket can't seem to handle the preview pages I got in my inbox from the good Mr. Kleid, but the pages remind me a bit of Kleid's "Take That" column, which you can sample here.

Monday, April 03, 2006

I'll die with a hammer in my hand, lord, lord...

Hectic posts today and, likely, again tomorrow.

Tomorrow I've got a staff meeting across town at 9:30 a.m., followed by a double shift that ends at about 3:00 a.m.


Funny thing to reference, but Amazon's got an awesome video up of Bruce Springsteen doing the old classic, "John Henry". Apparently he's got a new album coming out with a bunch of songs "associated with" Pete Seeger.

I've been of the opinion that Seeger was pretty much a douchebag, but "John Henry" predates him by, like, fifty years or more. So, it's an awesome song and Bruce does it fun.


What looks good in this week's batch of new comics? Well, I'll be checking out these:

Ex Machina Vol 3: Fact V Fiction TP
Hard Time Season 2 #5
Infinite Crisis #6
Planetary #25
Astro GN
Annihilation: Silver Surfer #1
Punisher MAX #32

Winter Men #4 - Not sure about this one. The fuckin' thing was teased in that Vertigo X book about three years ago, and the first three issues came out months ago. Issue #5 hasn't been solicited yet, right? I might have to wait this puppy out. You've gotta come a little stronger, guys - you've got to do the work and put out the book. When you're self-reliant and publishing your own stuff, I'll be a little more patient because I know how much hassle that can be. But when you're being published by DC? Just do the fucking work. Still, this has been really good.

Adhouse Books is putting out Superior Showcase #1, a mere three bucks for some crazy awesome shit. I'll be checking it out for sure.

Then there's Streets Of Dublin (SC, $11.99) from Dublin Comics. This book caught my eye in the Previews magazine - not quite enough to convince me to pre-order, but enough for me to pick it up and take a look if I see it on the shelf this week. There's a somewhat confusing review up at; a fast-paced drugs-n-debauchery thriller set in the faithfully reproduced auld architecture of Dublin town? Well, like I said, I'll take a look.


Grr. Amidst links a-plenty to overwhelmingly positive reviews, Mike Carey points out that his first novel, The Devil You Know (out this week, it seems, in the UK), will have the hardcover US version released in June 2007.

I'm really pissed about potentially having to wait that long when the fuckin' thing is out for all you limey fuckers across the pond already.

At the same time, it's really cool to hear that the book is strong - I've been excited about it for a while now.

Nice interview with Carey about the book here, by the way.


That's it for today. I'll do my best to get something up tomorrow, but I should be back in full force on Wednesday. Cheers.
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