Monday, October 24, 2016

Cowboys and Insects

This one-shot comes from one of my favorite comic book artists Shaky Kane (also the awesome artist who created my Frog Queen Logo!). Shaky is collaborating again with David Hine. You'll likely remember them together on titles like The Bulletproof Coffin but Hine has been all over the place in comics. He's written Spider Man, The Darkness, Batman, Crossed, X-men... the titles just go on. He even had a hand in Spawn for a while.

I really wish these two could just continuously release shorts like this together. I'd be thrilled. Shaky's work is reminiscent of a better time in comics, when people used their hands and not copious amount of computer programs. Don't get me wrong, I totally appreciate TONS of digitally created comics but there's something to be said about Shaky's process which you can actually watch online!

One of my favorite parts about this one-off is the format. The cover has been printed on this oddly shaped card stock and it really stands out on the shelf. I know what you're thinking however, "if I bag it, it's going to float around messing up my comic box and creating creases". Well do like I do and have boxes specifically for non-modern aged comics. Simply due to the fact that I support a lot of indie creators and self published comics, I have a great number of uniquely shaped comics.

So the story itself of course is awesome. Everyone knows by now that I'm vegan, and this story is oh so vegan. The story centers around the retold events of a man's childhood crush. It also happens to center in a world which harvests giant insects for food and other commodities. The man explains that his family were ranches. Giant ant ranchers to be certain and his first crush, first kiss was a gothy looking young vegetarian. The boy takes direction from his family who explain that being a vegetarian goes against nature. It's corrupt thinking... and well... apparently violence towards those who think differently than you is actually NOT corrupt thinking.

So you know it has a really happy ending...actually the ending is really the best part. The cover is immensely misleading as you think that the cowboys themselves are ants but this isn't so. However, in a very fascist clan type way, the cowboys band together wearing the heads of their slain livestock to round up and deliver retribution to these veggie loving family. Remind you of anything?

The thing is, a lot of people really DO think that eating other sentient beings IS normal. Violence is violence however and that's something that our world hasn't quite grasped. This is where terms like speciesism comes from. It's the belief that your own species, humanity is superior and this thought process leads to the exploitation of animals.  But this short story really imparts the message that violence towards people and violence towards other sentient beings, come from the same place of ignorance and so, I love it.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Reborn #1

I almost feel like I have to start this review with a disclaimer. I'm a big Mark Millar fan. I really loved so many of his mini series like Starlight & MPH, I loved Jupiter's Legacy, Kick Ass and of course a bunch of his even older stuff. So when I saw the press release for Reborn, I got really excited because the main character/hero is female. The artwork of course interests me as well. At this point, Mark can pretty much work with any artist he chooses. Greg Capullo has been illustrating Batman for the last 5 years and although I don't give two shits about the New 52's iterations of Batman (besides maybe Batman '66), there's no denying that Capullo isn't ridiculously a ridiculous talented artist.  This can be particularly noted in the scenes where our heroine dies and is "reborn" in this mysterious fantastical new universe.

And here we go now all my criticisms, so the story starts out with a few LARPER looking snipers taking out some mundane looking people who are minding their own business and it's pretty clear from the scenery that the LARPING snipers and their targets don't actually share the same space. Before we know it their target practice ends and we're listening to an elderly lady reminisce about her life. She's living out her last days for a couple panels and then... she's gone. This is where the book gains it title. Our heroine dies only to awaken in the field of battle as a bodacious babe with a sword and a legion of bowing minions. Like seriously, I think these are minions (not those minions from Despicable Me). They're monstrous but apparently looking at her as their leader/savior.

So not only do I honestly feel this is a pretty bland storyline so far, I'm kinda angry that the story jumps around so much and leaves the only real interesting part at the beginning as if had no significance. I mean, don't get me wrong, I know first issues are intended to get you hooked and leave you hanging but I'm not really feeling invested enough in any of these characters to give a rats ass what happens to them.  The reason is that this first issue jumps around too much between characters AND it's too short. I know what you're thinking, "AMY it's longer than any Marvel & DC single issue!". Well, a good first issue is more about introducing characters, it's about getting you to care about them. This was too short to be able to do that and it tried too introduce us to too many people. This is why sometimes, I think that many stories need to be released as complete graphic novels instead of constantly trying to cash in on these monthly subs. Brian K Vaughan gets it. He still releases complete graphic novels fairly regularly. I assume that he knows that some things are better binge read and therefore provide a better experience to the reader, left intact.

On top of that, this story really feels like nothing new to me. This is perhaps due to the ridiculous amount of manga I've consumed over the years. Normal people being transported to a magical, fantasy land, swords and battles... well lets just say I was a HUGE Escalfowne fan (I guess I should say that I still am). There are loads of stories like this that have come out of Japan. Not to mention that this particular story has started reminding me of that Canadian series The Odyssey which aired when I was a kid. It's about a boy transported to a strange world while he's in a coma. For instance, we're made to think that the main character has died but has she? It doesn't feel fresh to me and honestly, the freshness of the story wouldn't so much be an issue if I felt more invested in the characters.

I was really hoping that this would be a new fantastical series for me, yet I'm afraid, Reborn is a miss.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Some Thoughts on Snotgirl

Snotgirl debuted from talented Canadian Writer and former East Coast dweller, Brian Lee O'Malley published by Image Comics on July 20th. It was one of the first comics I have bought since making a commitment to clear my debt up this year. I bought both the first issue and the second which released two weeks ago.

It was not only the fact that the story is written by O'Malley, but the cover which drew me in. Leslie Hung's illustrations on this book are amazing. Yet I don't recall seeing her work anywhere previously. I did a random google search and turned up nothing in graphic novel form, but her website did show a sample of her own illustrated comic so it appears to me that she's fairly new to comics. Her work reminds me in part of manga and in part of 1950's illustrated advertising and pin-ups. It's very clever and sharp. It's perfectly on time. Snotgirl and all her associates in the book are beautiful and unique. How she managed to make a girl look gorgeous and sensual while dripping green gobs of snot from her nose.. well who knows.

I should probably explain what Snotgirl is all about. I wondered the same thing when I first grabbed it. As with many things, if it's a writer I like, and I like the artwork, I grab it whether I know the plot or not (unintentional rhyme). Like most everything I've read by O'Malley,

Snotgirl is full of inner monologue and yeah, she's a pretty loathsome character. She's vapid and shallow, completely caught up in her and yet completely relatable in how she criticizes herself. At least, I can relate to that. Snotgirl is a fashion journalist- uh actually a blogger, but a blogger with her own intern. Although she's a bit of guru and has been writing for nearly a decade (I recall?), she often feels she's undeserving of her success, and constantly fears being exposed or worse - outdone. She's Snotgirl because of her horrifying allergies (which no one knows about! Alterego).

Snotgirl is undone by a chance meeting of another fashion blogger. Someone she dubs Coolgirl and that's about all I'm gonna tell you because too much more and I'll spoil all the fun. If you haven't you really should check this out. Not only has O'Malley managed to create another charming character, completely full of flaws and realistic self doubt, but Leslie Hung's artwork is stunning and I do hope she continues to work in the industry.