Thursday, October 10, 2019

Frogcatchers by Jeff Lemire

Here's my video review and if you would rather just read my thoughts then please read the full review article below!


Get ready for a deeply personal and sentimental graphic novel when you pick up Jeff Lemire's latest book FROGCATCHERS. This book leads you on as a pictorial story and then abruptly changes into a journey that is not quite what you would expect. I knew absolutely nothing about Frogcatchers going into for my first read through. The book was sent to me by Simon and Schuster Canada and attached was a 1 page letter from Jeff Lemire about the books creation.  I saved this letter until after I read the book. Otherwise, how might I go into this book and thinking what exactly? I wanted to go into the book without any expectations, or as little as I could possibly control as we all know I am a fan of Lemire's past work. That being said I certainly haven't read EVERYTHING he's done. When I did read the letter included with the book I was surprised to read that Jeff feels FROGCATCHERS marks the beginning of a new stage of work for him as a cartoonist. I have to say I agree and I think Scott MacLeod would as well.

The story starts out with what you would expect given the title. It quickly departs into a surreal quest  the point of which is definitely lost on our main character. It's not too long before intrigue brings on nightmarish characters and the true reality of what is happening begins to be known to the reader. It all feels very mysterious for the larger part of the book.

So here's your spoiler warning: This is the story of a man's journey as he quite literally journey's within himself. We realize that our main character is actually a man dying in a hospital bed and everything he encounters appears to be a metaphor for obstacles and regrets from his life. At least that's my interpretation. What's interesting is that FROGCATCHERS manages to be a journey of reconcilliation within oneself rater than what you see of most soul searching type stories where often the focus is on religious and spiritual progression outside of ones own psyche. I really enjoy that this story refreshingly focuses on self reflection rather than forgiveness from a higher power for instance.

It's also interesting how the art changes throughout the book. Starting out as what feels very much like a sketchbook penciled comics, and truly even Lemire admits this how the book came together, that it poured out of him quickly. Color is reserved for end panels, everything feels extremely organic and fluid. This is the way you tell this type of story, with raw and simplistic organic mediums. With attention to what's happening in a panel and not overly detailed looking settings and characters.

Frogcatchers is one of the most touching, poignant and jarring stories. Through the main character, Jeff Lemire has crafted the perfect vessel for any reader to fit comfortably in. Through his eyes, the reader is forced to face the reality of our own mortality, and all the tribulations that go along with that such as the complexity of regret and the simplicity of mourning ones youth. This is the pen-ultimate of story telling, when you can slide into a character, and become that character without realizing it.

I've talked about this type of story telling in many other articles. The simplicity behind Lemire's character design is important for just how easily we can use that character as a representation of ourselves. His features and yes even the information we received about the character is generic enough to be the perfect vessel for any of us to inhabit to experience this story. Frogcatching itself, is a pretty relate-able childhood passtime and yes something I had spent hours and hours doing every summer with my sisters and a couple kids in the neighborhood. We had a great catch and release program.

You can get FROGCATCHERS right now on Amazon or from your local comic shop !


Monday, September 23, 2019

Something is Killing the Children #1

I feel as though SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN has been out long enough for me to be able to talk about it in detail. It was one of those books that was so hyped (with 5 printings after the initial run), that spoiling the story might get you stabbed or worse, doxed. Maybe I shouldn't joke about that but oddly, it isn't really a joke. I mean fandom has never been more dangerous... for creators and commentators.

SIKTC is written by the amazing James Tynion IV who's work has been celebrated throughout the industry. Not to be an elitist (cause I hate that shit) but if you're a big comic book fan, I'd be a little surprised to hear that you hadn't heard of him. However in case you haven't heard of him, he's best known for his work on Batman:Detective Comics. Artist on the series is Werther Dell’Edera who is no newbie either. You should check out their tumblr and I think you'll find some familiar images. 
Colorist Miquel Muerto brings Werther's illustration to life and defines the mood for the entire book.

The story opens with some kids playing Truth or Dare. It ends, you guess it, real bad. The whole story cuts to one of the children being interrogated by law enforcement. He's a suspect and of course the police do not believe his story. SOMETHING killed his friends. Ripped them apart. So far none of the characters seem that interesting but this is just the first few pages. It's when we're introduced to two young girls, one missing an arm, an eye and legs, moving around in a little red wagon... THAT is when things getting interesting and that's when you are hit over the head with what I like to refer to as expert character design. Honestly I dunno what else to call it. These characters look B-A-D-A-S-S (pictured on the right).

These brave and mangled girls are travelling around hunting whatever it is killing the kids. That is pretty much the mystery here. I like a concise story. So our characters meet each other and by the end of the issue they've decided to work together to go monster hunting. And... that's kind of it. It's a simple plot and the comic itself look pretty unique. I'm a big fan of this type of artwork that looks more pencil than ink. It actually manages to feel dreamy and creepy like much of the work of say.. Vanesa R Del Rey (Redlands, The Empty Man).

This book was sooo hyped to the point where my local comic shop employees were annoyed at how often it was requested and how irritating it was to try and order with it's 5 printings (and still being on back order). That's the main reason why I went digital. I didn't want to wait or go through the hassle. What motivates you to choose digital over paper? Is it simply the fact that comics don't really appreciate in value much anymore, or is it a physical space issue? Or maybe it's just the inconvenience perceived in trying to get the titles you want? Let me know how you feel about it and hey, let me know what you thought of SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN #1. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

First Look at SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN #2

"GLAAD Award-winning author James Tynion IV (The Woods, Justice League) and artist Werther Dell’Edera (Briggs Land) about a close-knit community rocked by a series of murders and the appearance of Erica Slaughter, the mysterious figure who rides into town claiming she can stop the brutal attacks turning their lives upside down."





Monday, September 16, 2019

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Midnight Vista #1 (Aftershock Comics)

Interesting cover, lets look inside... hmm okay... Not what I was expecting. How about you? I totally understand the regular practice of hiring a cover artist. I know you can't judge a book by it's cover. Really I do know this I just think that most of the time, yes you can in fact judge a book based on the cover and you probably should. That's what marketing is all about. Maybe I'm a little bit cutthroat. Anyway, this cover gave me the impression that something a lot more modern would be contained in the pages. That's not the artwork we got. Hey it's very lovely and skilled work. It just doesn't make any sense to me with the cover image.

But does any of that really make a book worth passing over? For me, ya again, it kinda does. I'm not a big fan of the interior art here. It's just not for me. It's a little dated looking for me. Particularly about 10 pages in. But did you see the cover of issue 2? Looks awesome! Well Juan Doe has a fuck ton of awesome cover art literally scattered all over the internet. And then, look up interior artist Clara Meath's work. There's a lot less which isn't anything really, but it does look distinctly different and feels just MILES different. Her artwork elsewhere feels really different than this book as well and I think that can be largely attributed to the colorist (no offense meant). I think the first few pages look alright and everything after is a disorganized mess color-wise.

Look at Clara Meaths other work. It feels more modern. Her cover image for her kickstarter book, the comic adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's The Conqueror Worm, it's gorgeous. I found an image of Liz Sherman she did, and one of Sarah from The Labyrinth also beautiful. This is one of those instances where I as an editor would have said "this just isn't the right colorist". But hey I'm not really an editor in that way, so...I guess my opinion isn't worth THAT much. It's just my opinion.

So where does that put me with this series? In short, not reading it. That sounds terrible and I'm usually really into almost everything I read. This was a big miss for me which is too bad because I really do feel there is a lot of talent here, it just really didn't come together for me. If you've been reading this blog for a while then you know how much I really love the books Aftershock Comics chooses to publish but this one was a miss I'm sorry to say.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Buffy Chosen Ones #1

CHOSEN ONES #1 is the stories never told about the first great slayers of history. Boom Studios is really trying to reinvent the Slayer universe. They've made this an extended issue and given it the price to match, $7.99 USD. I was hoping such price tags might be a thing of the past but I guess Boom has the same idea Marvel has...ANYWAY... Ever wonder how the Hellmouth ever started in Sunnydale? Was it just a natural doorway or did someone create it? Well Hellmouths are the topic of the first story.

The first story titled The Mission takes us a ways back in history when the Spaniards crossed the seas and enslaved the native peoples of the Americas. It's in this story that we meet a Slayer who's been killing Spaniards which also just happen to mostly be vampires. Some Spaniards have crossed the sea and they're from The Watchers Council of course. Perez is the watcher sent to wait for the next chosen one. The two aren't getting along... and for good reason.

By Ornella Sacarese from The Mission
It stands to reason in a world filled with vampires that the Spaniards would bring more than small pox with them when they invaded the shores of the Americas. Artwork wise there are some interesting action panels. I was particularly fond of this jump shot. Definitely check out the work of Ornella Sacarese.

The artwork between the two series couldn't be more different. Coloring on top of that included. The second story takes place in 14th century Bologna illustrated by Celia Lowenthal. Her character design has a real Tilly Walden feel to them. The story is entitled THE EATING OF MEN. I do really like that title and I do happen to be a fan of the artwork.
By Celia Lowenthal from The Eating of Men

I'm not really sold on how the vampires behave in these stories. They have way too much humanity for the vampires of the Buffy universe. They still care about certain things and people and that just doesn't hold up. You can make that silly argument that Spike fell in love with Buffy but that's not really it. Spike was soulless and therefore just in lust after Buffy which is  why he also tried to rape her in season 6. It's season 7 when he gets his soul back that he's actually REALLY in love with Buffy. Just thought I should clarify that. But there's some points in these stories where the vampires, like I said, display some signs of unexplained humanity.

By Alexa Sharpe from Behind the Mask
The Third story BEHIND THE MASK, takes place in Paris in 1820 and beautifully illustrated. Definitely check out the work of Alexa Sharpe. Some really gorgeous work. The final story lacks mostly in story. It's a beautiful, if not quick look at a slayer in 18th Century Paris.

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER:CHOSEN ONES #1 is available in stores now. It actually came out LAST WEEK and it took me a little time to get to. Hey, when you have THIS MANY comics to read, sometimes you just don't get to everything right away. I thought I would just go on with the coverage of the new Buffy series though so you all know what you're getting into.