Friday, December 27, 2013

The Strange Tale of Panorama Island by Suehiro Maruo

This manga is sold in a large, hardcover edition with beautiful gold foil letter in the cover. The whole book is like one of my dreams. It's beautiful and collects a wide variety of different cultural architectures and eras. It debuted in July of 2013 and immediately caught my attention. Many of the reviews and write-ups were devoid of plot description but pictures of the artwork could be found splattered around the internet and the artist's blog. They gripped my curiosity as did the title!

The Strange Tale of Panorama Island is based on the novella by the famous Edogawa Rampo. Rampo was one of Japan's most famous pulp mystery writers. The story centers around a failing writer named Hitomi who steals the identity of a wealthy and deceased university comrade who happens to share a very similar appearance. No one suspects the deception. He takes his friend's fortune and dedicates it to the construction of a massive amusement park on a remote island. He converts the ilse into his mind's fantasy. An island of wonder; a colossal living panorama that resembles the Grecian decadence of Dionysian proportions. i.e. lots of orgies. 
This tale includes, murder and deception. Although it's beautiful and captivating, this book is not suitable for people under 18 years of age. I highly suggest you read it. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Monster: Volume 4 by Naoki Urasawa

This is probably my favorite volume thus far in the series. It was full of action and amazing developments including the reappearance of Johan's sister Nina. It's in this book that I grew really attached to Dr Tenma's now little sidekick Dieter. He's a brave little boy who has become fiercely loyal to Tenma and anyone who aims to protect the doctor.

The book is full of the usual unique looking characters and once again there is more Tezuka inspired appearances. Some of the characters look straight of books like the Phoenix Saga. Others resemble Astro Boy which of course must have been a favorite of Naoki.

Finishing this volume made me immediately read the next 2 in the series but I regret that I have run out volumes to read for now. More in the future.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sweet Tooth Vol 6: Wild Game by Jeff Lemire

I bought this as soon as it was released but was terribly swamped with homework and the like. Now that school is done for the semester, I get to read all kinds of awesomeness so I read this last night.

Sweet Tooth is one of my favorite series. Although I never got into the singles during it's initial release (mostly due to the fact that I was super impoverished) I use to stare at the covers and flip through the pages. It seemed to be such an odd story. A boy with antlers.

Jeff Lemire wraps everything up in a neat package with the final installment of the series. Although I can't be sure I believe that the hybrids actually caused the plague, I am certain that they were cloned from an earlier living set of animal-humans. Our heroes found the bunker with all the ancient sarcophagi and the cloning tubes. I will accept that as the truth. The final chapter shows us a brief summary of the rest of Gus' life. Complete with family, children, a wife and a community of hybrids. We even get to see where Buddy ends up as well as Gus' death where Lemire represents his passing as he being reunited with "the Big Man". It's very sad as Lemire's stories often are. At least this time, death seems less final and less of a punishment. Instead it's a positive passing and just a part of the cycle of life.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Darkness Issue 116

Story by David Hine
Art by Jeremy Haun

Image Comics latest installment of Darkness came out on Wednesday. I like this book. I just jumped in really. They had a great review page to catch you up to speed on the plot so it was easy to jump in. I wish more comics included a page like this. Sometimes it's hard to remember what was happening in a single you read 4 weeks ago.

This plot centers around a virus that seems to be paranormal in nature, known as the Darkness virus. I love the supernatural. After my disappointment with the Buffy series, I hadn't been reading a whole lot of Supernatural books besides my manga series. This is quite refreshing for me although obviously, I'm late getting into this book. Check out Jeremy Haun's beautiful work: 
There is an awesome creepy development with this little child who appears to hold some significant role with these odd "fate-like" characters. They're all hooded and monstery! Yeay!! I'm actually going to order the trader papers for this series because I think I need to go back to the beginning ;)

Dead Body Road Issue 1 by Justin Jordan

It's not my kind of story. I actually skimmed the last few pages because the story was not holding my attention but the artwork is awesome. This is another duo artistic duo. Penciller and colorist. I much prefer art done by one person but this duo obviously have chemistry. I mean check this out:
There are a whole bunch of these action panels. It's some of the damn best action I've ever seen in a comic. I love it!! I really don't have much to say about the story. It's not my kind of thing really. All gangsters, bad guys vs well.. kinda other bad guys. I was a bit bored. Thankfully the artwork rocks.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Monster: Vol 3 by Naoki Urasawa

So I've had a chance to dive back into Monster. This time around however, I started to see great parallels between this and Tezuka's famous Black Jack series. Urasawa, an obvious fan of Tezuka's work. Some parallel's being that there is a rogue doctor, a child involved and greedy hospitals and doctors in abundance.

At this point in Monster, Dr. Tennma has become a fugitive suspected of having a spit personality which is a killer. This is not the case, and he remains on the run while trying to hunt down the real killer: a child soldier all grown up name Johann. Tenma has got himself a little travelling buddy now however. A child named Dieter who was almost destined to completed the child soldier training suffered by Johann, our serial killer who's where about's remains unknown and who's existence is still questioned. The book has become a series of events where Tenma is forced to perform surgeries on various patients while being held under duress or other hostile circumstances.

While it is easy to see some inspiration being drawn from Tezuka's famous series, it's not a direct retelling. Tezuka's Black Jack was a collection of un-related stories while Monster does not suffer from "monster of the week serial" syndrome and has an over-all plot focused around one killer. Black Jack was intended to be released as little short stories in magazines so for me, even reading it in volume form was somewhat odd, kinda boring, if not a little challenging. I could read 10 volumes of Monster in a row if I had the time.. and less to read in general. I highly recommend this series already and with book 3, I'm becoming more intrigued by the history of Johann which is beginning to unravel.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Hinterkind Issue #1 by Ian Edginton

Written by Ian Edginton
Art by Francesco Trifogli

I was excited about this after I read the premise. Post-apocalyptic Earth, humans forced to hide from the dominant species...monsters, faerie, giants..etc. I liked the idea of humans running around central park hunting zebras (That's what happens in the first scene). I'm not completely impressed. The artwork is a little mediocre. It's not awful, it;s just a little lack-luster.

What will probably make me purchase issue 2, is that one of human heroes has suddenly grown a tail! That's Angus, poor guy. It's a mystery that our heroes intend to solve. To be honest I dunno what the lead female characters' name is. I kept looking for it but I couldn't find it lol. Maybe I'm just crazy but I couldn't even google it.

Little highlight: weird-ass unicorn that speaks and also has blood all over it's mouth. I laughed!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Manifest Destiny Issue 1 & 2 by Chris Dingess

Written by Chris Dingess


Out today was issues two of Manifest Destiny. This is a new title on Image Comics that caught my attention due to.. ahem.. the cover. I like so many assholes, still judge a book by it's cover. Give me a little credit, it's logical to do this with comics (most of the time, you can't count variant covers among a few other things). Look at the cover art? It's the pic to the left. How could you not buy this beautiful metal-esq monstrosity?? I didn't even care what the story was about, I just kept having Heavy Metal flash-backs.

Luckily for me the story is actually pretty interesting. The story takes place during an expedition in the beginning of the 1800's during Jefferson's presidential reign. A few naval members joined by a few dudes from the stockade, are travelling the Atlantic. They're looking for new species; off the record they are looking for monsters. OOO and they run into some!! Minotaur's!! Well, they are more like buffalo beasts with arms, but they are metal as fuck. Not to mention the whole naked lady jumping off a cliff (I think she's a plant species or something, maybe a siren). The end?? I think we've got zombies.....

I'm really happy with where this is going. It make white colonial assholes look like racist white colonial assholes AND you get to see some of them die. :D


Claymore: Vol 1 by Norihiro Yagi

I wasn't totally sure about this one. It came recommended by several anonymous forum maniacs. I call them manics purely because of the sheer amount of topics they see fit to comment on. You know those people, the ones that have something to say about "eveerrythiiing". *giant eye roll* It's like that awful sales man who works at your local comic shop who asks you if you need help finding something and then immediately begins to berate you for your request. It's like that except sometimes they have something positive to say about a comic. Anyway, it came up while I was looking for something that may be as awesome as Berserk.

This is a story about demons. Half-demons taking out full-demons known as Yoma. This is not new to Manga, we've read this book often. What is more interesting is that so far, it does not appear to be a love story. Furthermore, the main character is female. Unlike some of our demon-cursed manga heroes like Inuyasha. Sure, there is some fan service. The first volume has at least 4 bum shots and plenty of suggested nudity, but you can't get too upset about it. It's manga... if it's targeted at 14 and older, there is going to be nudity. Deal or ditch.

As for the artwork, it's quite clean and uncluttered. I do enjoy the smaller eyes which make everyone look a little sinister. I will be checking out volume 2.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sandman: Overture 1 by Neil Gaiman

Written by Neil Gaiman
Art by J.H. Williams III

I was skeptical at first. I just wasn’t sure I wanted to see another Sandman book but I got sucked in by the cover. Then I got sucked in by the fact that it is written by Neil Gaiman. Finally, I was sucked into the artwork inside.  J.H. Williams III has really out-done himself and it’s the perfect mix of whimsy that I always wanted all the Sandman comics to embody. No one will ever beat Sam Kieth’s Sandman for me personally but I can actually enjoy Williams’ version.


The story begins with our dear Dream being thrust into another planet far away. It is implied that he is dead as it was Death who pushed him to this far-away place.. or so she alludes to. Fate cannot foresee what will happen and Dream himself is unaware of this chaos that he is drawn into. It happens just as he was about to un-create a familiar face (or lack of face character) The Corinthian. He who was created to show humanity it’s true face (unfortunately he started eating them). Morphius, aka Dream, has been meaning to un-make The Corinthian for some time now. Yet again, The Corinthian makes a narrow escape as Dream is summoned away for the moment. 

With stunning artwork like this, I can't wait to read the next installment although it was rumored to be delayed. I wish all my dreams looked like this book. 

Coffin Hill Issue #1

Written by Caitlin Kittredge
Art by Inaki Miranda

I never considered myself absurdly hard on comics (teehee, I just said hard-on) but after reading Coffin Hill I started thinking, maybe I'm kinda picky. Let me try and focus on the good stuff... the art is pretty decent. In my opinion, it's very fitting for the time although not at all my style. It's super clean and crisp which attracts the Marvel readers for the most part. It's not UBER realistic looking but the characters are proportional in body making them somewhat less "cartooney". Spanish artist Inaki Miranda is talented, there is no doubt but his style just isn't for me. We all know where I dabble in terms of art.

Caitlin Kittredge isn't exactly writing something entirely new. Secret, teenage seance's have lost their appeal on my generation (must of been the movie The Craft). The story centers around lead character Eve Coffin who apparently gains some evil powers she wields of her own accord. The story starts in the present, diverts to the past for a little re-cap on how she got to be this doomed vixen, then meets you in the present for the final pages of the issue where Eve is a cop. She had just caught this apparently famous serial killer known for dumping the bodies of women in a frozen river. Eve Coffin is a rich gal with super powers. Her family has some claim to fame as being multi-millionaires and in possession of ancestors who were hanged for witchcraft.

The witchcraft card is hard to carry off. It's pretty cliche, (like the rebellious teenager dressing up in devil horns and running off into the woods with her friends after ruining her parents party). You know what though? As re-hashed and over-done as the elements of this story are, I might actually pick up the second issue. The third to be released this Wednesday. It wasn't an awful story. It just wasn't terribly new. The pacing was alright and who knows, there could be some surprises! Right now, one can't really tell where the story is off to.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Trillium Issue # 5 by Jeff Lemire

Jeff Lemire must have a real appreciation for paper as a medium for comics because I can't see this layout working well for digital copies of the issue. What has he done? He has placed the first half of the comic on the top 50% of each page of the comic. Once you reach the end, you flip it upside down and read backwards to the beginning on other 50% of the page. It's kind of charming really, but only if you have a paper copy. I can see this being more annoying than cute in digital format.

Medium and impractical layout aside, this was a really interesting issue. For all the flipping of the physical book that one must go through, our dear characters have flipped lives. They have been swapped through time! Each of them realized something is amiss and struggles to figure it out.

This issue seemed awfully short. I really can't figure out what shall happen next but time-travel is one of my favorite devices.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hawkeye, Vol 1: My Life as a Weapon

I'm in love. Yah yah, I know you know. Did you know I was in love with David Aja's art in the latest Hawkeye series? It's one of the only Marvel comics I've picked up in the last three years. It's the only series, I'm actually going to continue to read.

I have to say the first and last chapters of the book are my favorite. Maybe because they center around Arrow the dog. I mean, the first story is so adorable! All about how Barton runs into this awesome doggie.

The second story is told without so much script as it's just what Arrow sees and hears. Of course he doesn't understand English as he's a dog. Most of the scripting is nonsense. I love it.

I absolutely love THIS Hawkeye. His down-to-earth attitude and pretty much everything he says is makes him the coolest Hawkeye ever. Fraction reminds the reader through repetition that Barton is just a regular guy who happens to be a pretty good shot. Oh and of course he did that whole thing with Avengers ;)

I like how this book feels like a complete book. Too often trade papers and hard covered editions of our favorite monthly series are released without any thought to being in that medium - a whole, complete book. A beginning and an end, even if the story is left to continue on. Sometimes you get the book and it just ends in the middle of a story arc without tying anything together, without anything to pull it together and make it feel whole. It's just a collection of singles. Might as well be an f'n "Best of" release. Fractions use of the dog Arrow, to open and close the book, ties everything back in a neat package while allowing the story to continue in another season of singles. It's brilliant and heart warming. Who doesn't love a doggie side-kick? ;)


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

King of the Flies: 2. The Origin of the World By Mezzo & Pirus

I had to wait nearly 6 months to get this from the local library. Some dude had it for about that long... I don't wanna know the late charges. Anyway, this is the sequel to book 1 which was subtitled Hallorave. Great book. You can find the review for that one in the archives. Anyway, this one kind of flips back and forth through time and slips a little more into the morose and macabre with our skeleton-dressed, raver friend narrating most of the story... from the dead. Some of the story is told from different points of view about the same event.

Most of the plot revolves once again around Eric, who is a selfish little pretty boy with a big chip on his shoulders and a blatant disregard for... well everyone. He reminds me of a few people. His more introspective self reminds me of me. Only because sometimes he gets too involved in dissecting his own discomfort that he misses things that happen around him. I do that a lot. Eric should try to push the focus out-ward. I'm working on it.

I feel like most of this book is about missed opportunity, the dangers of focusing inward and lack of focus on the present. Very rarely do the characters actually get into trouble for making poor decisions as a reaction to the present. They pretty much just react to their feelings that re-surface whenever they re-visit the past in their heads. Unfortunately, it's their present that suffers every time. Not to mention that they can't stop abusing substances. Even Marie's mom ends up walking out into her neighbors BBQ wearing nothing but an Astro Boy mask and an open shower robe. She was popping tranquilizers and sipping wine in the bathtub until her husband walked in and took a piss. You see where all this is going. Pretty depressing and great actually. It was a really good book. Now I gotta track down the third installment.

A lot of people have compared this to Black Hole by Charles Burns and although I see where they are coming from.... my two cents?? Fuck Black Hole. Read this book.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Walking Dead Issue #116

Awe man. I'm really getting sick of this Negan bullshit. How many more issues am I suppose to suffer through? With Stumpy McStumperson trying to be all bad-ass and Negan just threatening people every second speech bubble, sigh, I'm really losing faith in the direction of this book. I have always loved The Walking Dead and I want to continue to love it but MAN we need a new story arc. This just has to go. When I look at the big picture, I'm not attached to any of the newly introduced characters. The only remotely interesting development to come out of this whole Negan shit, was Carl's experiences in Negan's compound. Other than that, I can't say I was all that interested. Plus man, they killed off the Troy. I actually liked him. Negan bashed his head in with his spiked club Lucielle like, I dunno, eight issues ago?

I wish I could give a synopsis on what happened in this issue but nothing really happened. Some people fought each other and Negan wasn't expecting Rick to have so many people helping him. He also didn't realize he was being double crossed. That's about it...

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Saga Issue #16

I'll say it again - I love Saga. Lucky for me, most people agree. It's not very often people agree with me, or so my facebook recently tells me (I'm waiting for the result of that pole). When it comes to Brian K. Vaughan, seven time Eisner Award winner, most people agree that his stories are as amazing as his politics timely. Although I'm not forgiving him for working on television series Lost anytime soon- six seasons and not a single fucking dinosaur! SHAME! Anyway...

Issue #16 starts off with our gargoyle-esq reporters (see image) attempting an impromptu interview with a member our winged heroine's race. He attempts to rectify the situation by claiming that Alana is simply a spy who is merely acting as a turncoat soldier and moonie lover (I'm not buying it).  Meanwhile on Quietus, our cyclops author and horned mother figure attempt to trick the happy couple into accepting a livelihood in acting. There's is a great scene that looks a lot like Maury Povich. On a side note, not many people know that I was a HUGE fan of Maury growing up including watching it every lunch hour (we use to live across from the elementary school so we came home for lunch and shitty day time talk shows).

Finally, The Will is saved from slave girl who is infected by this mind-suggestive organism that tries to convince non-terrestrials to stay on the planet. That's the quick run-down. I don't want to give too much away. As always, this issue is full of vibrant colors and action packed panels. It makes me feel bad that there isn't an issue more than once a month.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Trillium Issue #3 & 4 by Jeff Lemire

Look at me slowly catching up on things! Sadly I suppose I'm sinking into a little of the winter blues less affectionately known as depression. Winter is coming, fire and ice.. yadda yadda. Without making reference to long-winded novels and bastadized television productions of such sagas, I will attempt to bang out a little blurb about Trillium.

I can't help but get a little depressed when I read an issue, as the characters have so much hope yet their situation is all so hopeless. Genocide tends to win. In addition, for something so full of sci-fi awesomeness, which generally implies more technology than spirituality, this story is awfully spiritual. I don't want to say this is like Avatar because it's not. It's not Pocahontas in space. There is an alien race being threatened. There is a love story between two different cultures, two different languages, but they are not trying to wipe each other out. Instead an entire other race is facing annihilation at the hands of humanity who faces annihilation at the hands of Caul. Yet two people falling for each other are separated by time. You could make a parallel to the above stories mentioned, that the female love interest is in a technologically advanced age compared to the male.. so that makes it the opposite of Avatar (and Pocahontas). Ah damn, look what I did!? I said I was not going to compare and I did anyway. Well I said I did not want to compare… so technically I did not lie.


Normally I don’t read other people’s reviews of the material I decide to write about. In this case I might take a look because I have a sneaking suspicion that people are just going to dismiss Trillium as Avatar-fan-fodder. I really hope that is not that case. I’ll check in about it at a later date. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Berserk Volume 8-10 by Kentaro Miura

I've been slowly making my way through Berserk. It's got to be my favorite manga ever but I'm slow to get through it considering it's nearly 50 volumes long now. I really feel like I know and understand the characters in the story. I find it the easiest story to get lost in. At this point in the story a lot has happened. Guts and Caska have grown close and both have acknowledged (to some extent) their feelings for one another. At least, they've had sex a few times and made little attempts to hide their emotional connection from their comrades.

I think the most interesting plot development was the imprisonment of Griffith and his subsequent mutilation. The idea of this beautiful man being torn up and tortured for a year... well apparently most of the skin was removed from his face although, the author has not allowed the reader to see it at all! Instead he wears the Hawk helmet/mask...(thing???) Not to mention the fact that his tongue has been removed. For whatever reason Princess Charlotte (moron that she is) thinks that Griffith is a good person and wants to save him. Everyone wants to save him but ultimately, Griffith's true nature has yet to be revealed to them. This is the past remember. The first 4 books take place in the present, following that it's the Golden Ages for Gutts and the Hawks which is a retelling of past events.

I'm anxious to see how Caska deals with the situation and just exactly how Griffith gets his creepy necklace back. There was a few hints that the Godhand have already contacted Griffith but we don't know how much. So many questions.. I love it when an author chooses to tell you parts of the ending but leaves out all the details and how it all came to pass. The mystery is killing me.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Saga Issue #15 *spoilers*

Delay, delay! Usually my favorite comics are delayed in release but no, this time it's me having issues (get it?) getting my work done! I read this the day it came out but was steadily drowning in software manuals and thesis papers. Let me start this little blurb by saying that I absolutely love the cyclops novelist! I love his character even though cyclops of past comic books made me wanna yack (Scott Summers)! However I really like this alcoholic novelist.

The Will is of course, my favorite character. He's rough and tumble but still possesses a soft spot. The end of the issue is really fantastic. We knew something strange was going on because Will was seeing his spidery, dead ex-girlfriend everywhere. She was telling him to abandon bounty hunting and settle down on this random planet he crashed on. Turns out that was the result of a parasite that likes to convince foreign organisms to settle into the ecosystem. Guess they can't properly reproduce or something, I dunno! Maybe they just like diversity, you know it's like aggressive immigration!! ....or something. God, what a concept.

Anyway, I'm dying for the next issue. I'm also dying to finish this semester of school and get some heavy comic reading/blogging done. Not to mention the fact that I need to start drawing again. Till tomorrow.. I swear! I'll update tomorrow! Don't hit me!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Hal-con Implosion of 2013

In Theory:

I always want to say positive things about independent local events. I think it's important to be a supporter of your city and anyone in it who is trying to make things happen which are new, different, culturally diverse or hell, just plain fun. Nova Scotia itself is a province sitting on the poorer end of the Canadian money train (not that there really is a Canadian money train..but we'd be sitting on the end if it existed). If we were on the Titanic, we would be sitting in the bottom of the ship in steerage. Unfortunately when it comes to creating a successful comic-con, we are a lot like the Titanic. We ran out of life boats so people ended up wading in the Atlantic Ocean (okay not literally but people were turned away!). I truly want to support Hal-con and  I was really excited to be granted a press pass. I had requested interviews with two guest speakers. Neither of those happened. After several attempts on my part to contact coordinators and have the interviews set up, I finally threw in the towel. It was becoming clear that there simply was no interview schedule, at least none that considered independent journalist such as myself. I suspect the local news got their interviews scheduled although I suspect it was with some degree of difficulty.

Yet this is a simple gripe that I am willing to over-look and does not make or un-make a successful comic-con. However inconvenienced I was, a lot more people were inconvenienced in a very big way on Saturday at Hal-con 2013. It was clear to me early on that the Con wasn't executed properly. With Eastlink being Hal-cons largest sponsor, advertising hit all over the Maritimes. This meant more people from PEI, NB and surrounding areas were now aware of Hal-con. People booked hotels, arranged accommodations with friends and family in the city to be a part of Hal-con. Attendance of course was at an all time high.

At the Con:

When I reached the Con on Saturday morning around 11 am, the line was all the way around the Metro Centre and down to The Palace. My first reaction was: wow, they've come so very far in such a short time. My second reaction was: this isn't good. Although it was fairly simple for me to get my press pass despite the lack of signage within the building, everyone else suffered the massive line-up of registration. It was when we finally got up to the second level that the real problems showed. The space in the WTCC was misused to such a point that the hallways suffered from bottleneck behind every corner (and sometimes straight ahead). Proper consideration had not been made for the disabled in wheelchairs. Additionally, someone had the great idea of allowing strollers into the convention. I counted at least five double strollers. I know what it's like carting children around, I always used a sling so that I wasn't running people down with my baby SUV. But even this can be over looked. What needed to be addressed was the placement of information tables and advertising. Placing Eastlink's advertising table at the base of the escalators was the first big mistake.

After fighting my way out of the convention for some air, we were told that people were not being readmitted and that the Fire Marshall had done away with the line. I can only imagine the disappointed people. In addition, I over-heard the worries and concerns of volunteers who were mistreated by the angry Con-goers. I suspect the only really happy people were my friends up in the game room who had planned to spend the day with the board game library.

Possible Solutions:

Perhaps I could offer some possible solutions, if I may be so bold. I made sure to see my friend Patrick, owner of Quantum Frontier Games & Comics on Robie St in Halifax. When talking about the line-ups he mentioned a possible solution that I think would solve most of the problem. Selling Con tickets at a lower rate as day passes for Friday and Sunday. By doing this it encourages people to go on the lesser attended days rather than everyone trying to pile in at noon on Saturday. We'll just skip the part about market research, understanding advertising and event planning 101.

Obviously I mentioned the poorly laid out floor plan. A lot of major issues could have been solved by taking more time to evaluate the space. Placing tables near the escalators showed poor judgement.

Vendors:

So, in the end I didn't get an interview and I didn't get to see a single presenter. I decided to make the best of it by speaking with the vendors. Down on the first floor you could find all the vendors. It was also open to the public, after all, who wants to pay money to go spend money.

I had a great conversation with Jay Paulin with Ink'd Well Comics. He told me all about their comic Infantasy drawn by Ariel Marsh which looks fantastic. It is a comic told from the eyes of an infant. You can check it out at Inkdwellcomics.com ! Dominic Marco was present with his awesome pin-ups and wicked Dr. Who art! You can check out his artwork at DominicMarco.com. I also got to look at some amazing fantasy art work displayed by Shawn Orne! He had two tables of beautiful pieces and prints. There were plenty of local handmade costume boutiques including Indigo Lily Designs and Romantica Nocturnis.

All in all, I think artist Ben Jeddrie said it best when he suggested coining the word Hal-controversy. Although, I think the real controversy is between the people waiting in line for hours hoping to get into Hal-con on Saturday and Sunday and those waiting for hours in parade square for their tickets to be refunded. In the end, I'd like to speak to someone about the financial impact the event had on the Hal-con and it's future. Maybe it's true that any press is good press.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Wolves by Becky Cloonan

My good friend Jesse Hanlon passed this to me when he came back from a stint of living in Montreal. Cloonan, is an American comic book artist who produced a series of one-off stories in a smaller than traditional format. They are beautifully produced. A lot of love has gone into these and they have been re-printed several times due to demand and sales. I of course have a great respect for females in the comic book industry and a tremendous amount of respect for Cloonan. She was the first female artist to write for DC's main Batman title (issue #12).

Wolves was one of her self published works from 2011. It is a haunting story narrated in reflection to past events and embittered with the after taste of regret. The dark and sometime provocative images are especially appealing to me personally. It is not a long tale but it is a complete tale with a poignant ending that will be remembered. If you see this in any shop, pick it up without a second thought.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

New Stuff to Come!

So sorry all my lovely comic book readers! In light of Halloween, I have been noticeably, well... backed up in the writing department. As I write both for a living, for Blue Raven and write for school (I'm an English Major), I have found myself with very little time this past week. But, reviews to come this week are Trillium #4 (out tomorrow) and Saga which actually came out last week.. that's how busy I've been. I haven't even had a chance to look at Saga!! sigh.  Also, hoping to get a few interview responses back so I can post those! So much to do and Hal-con is this Friday !! I will be taking pictures and posting an article all about Hal-con for The Frog Queen & Blue Raven Comics. :D Until then, here's a little piece from Jeff Lemire!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Reason for Dragons by Chris Northrop & Jeff Stokely

When I took a look at the cover of this book, I knew I had to read it. Sometimes you can judge a book by it's cover and this artwork made my heart melt the moment I saw it. A touching story to follow, I had pretty much made up my mind up about the book in the first 10 pages: Classic. It's the type of story that anyone can appreciate no matter how old or young you may be. Archaia picked this one right. Jeff Stokely is brilliant with illustrations that carry a timelessness equated to some of the world's most cherished children's books. Although some of the language is more adult, the book can easily be cherished by all ages. The story contains little to no violence so I approve it for children's reading. The illustrations are awe inspiring.

The story involved a 16 year old boy named Wendell who is taunted by his peers and dared into retrieving a pamphlet from a supposedly haunted, abandoned renaissance fair. He must prove himself! There he meets a knight! Or rather a crazy person in a knights costume who explains that there is a dragon lurking in the woods which he must destroy.

I think it is the sentiment that is timely most of all with this story; You have nothing to prove to anyone but yourself. At times everyone feels that they must prove their worth to those who would look down on them. Wendell tries this by charging towards the abandoned theme park, braving this haunted place. Of course it gets him into trouble and a bit of an adventure as well. It's here he meets the knight who imparts the value and importance of having self worth. Wendell must have confidence in himself to help this very odd stranger.

There is a lot of effort in the last 5 years to prevent bullying in play grounds and online. Bullying is an unfortunate part of life but technology has made it easier for people to be unfair. The comforting perspective offered by this book makes it a great story for children, most of which feel bullied at some point or another in life. Get this book, get it.. I dare you.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Attack on Titan Volume 2 by Hajime Isayama *some spoilers*

We all knew Eren wasn't dead so I don't feel I'm spoiling anything by stating this right here and now. Killing off main characters is more a Song of Ice and Fire thing or a Walking Dead thing.I can't say I agree with the quote on the back of the book from i09 stating that Attack on Titan is "Japan's equivalent of The Walking Dead". I don't see anything that really gives me that impression, the script for one, lacks the deep character development that the Walking Dead books have in spades. However, this is only the second volume so maybe it's all going to blow me away in the next few volumes.

At this point, the titans are all over-run the outer city and have HQ surrounded. The military crew made up of teenagers varying in age are running out of fuel for their maneuver equipment (depicted in the cover image) and you guessed it, all the fuel is in HQ. Mikasa has received news that Eren is dead and starts behaving erratically. It's this volume where we learn Mikasa's back story and her connection to Eren. If you weren't totally convinced by the illustration, the author makes it known that Mikasa is apparently of Asian decent. Her entire family was killed by three men intending to sell the last living Asian women into the sex trade industry. Poor Mikasa really. She is saved by Eren who somehow defeats two adults as his 10 year old self (I'm guessing he's about 10).

Something strange has happened which allows all the surviving warriors to narrowly escape death. There is a rogue titan gone berserk killing other titans. Oh wait and he for some odd reason has Eren's trademark disheveled hair..... right. In the end we see Eren emerge from the spine around the neck of the titan, utterly exhausted. I guess humans can control titans by crawling into their spines! Sometimes I wonder why I still read so much manga.  That's the end! There is no more. The series is over. Alright, alright I kid. That is where volume 2 ends and yeah, it's not so awful that I won't continue reading volume 3. I do like the creepy imagery of these huge lumbering humanoid giants. They have these elongated mouths that smile while they devour you. It's appropriately creepazoid. Sort of body gore-esq. I can dig it. I dunno how much longer I can suspend my disbelief unless there is a really good explanation for the whole spinal-tapping thing (see what I did there?).

Friday, October 18, 2013

Exclusive Interview with Kevin Zeigler and Jeremy Holt on the new series After Houdini


This interview is going to be released in parts. My conversation with artist Kevin Ziegler (pictured left) and writer Jeremy Holt (pictured left) was originally captured in video on Google Hangouts. Due to the fact that this interview is transcribed from an actual conversation, some of the questions and answers have been edited for readability.

The Frog Queen: First of all, thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview.I was immediately impressed with how refined this comic presents itself. The comic being After Houdini, I understand that the first issue has already been released. There’s a level of sophistication under all this adventure. I feel as though the writing and the artwork are a perfect fit for each other. How did you come to collaborate on this project?

Jeremy: I met Kevin through a mutual friend of ours, Trad Moore. I met Trad at 2010 Near Comicon and I was looking for a collaborator and Trad recommended Kevin. Trad and Kevin went to school together, they were roommates at one point. I looked at Kevins site and his work and obviously he’s very good. That’s how we met but how we got to Houdini was kind of a long work in progress.

Kevin: That pretty much sums it up. We started to work together when Jeremy had a book which was pretty cool. He had already tried a couple facets to get it published and he thought my art was very cool so he contacted me to do it. We tried working on it for a little while but then it ended up not working out. So then he kind of graciously said “okay what do you like to do? What do you like to draw?” At that time I had just come up with this crazy notion. I really loved anime and any kind of story where they took a historical figure and bump up the facts x100 so it’s no longer this biography. It becomes this action and adventure tale involving this historical character and that was Houdini. So Jeremy started to write. 

Jeremy: The original idea was to do a Houdini story focusing on Houdini. So we wrestled around with that for a while and we originally decided not to do a biography because that’s a lot of research and it can be quite boring and we wanted to add something that was fun. Especially for people who don’t know anything about Houdini. So we wanted to introduce some historical facts about the person but infuse that into a new story, with new characters, a whole new plot and try to get people interested. So we created Joseph, who is a fictional character because Houdini did not have any kids. We thought it would be easier for someone to jump on board  with the story if you take it from someone who travelling along in the story with you. Joseph is figuring out what and he's trying to figure it out, as the reader is figuring it out.

The Frog Queen: When I was reading this, I had so many questions, I had to go online and start researching Houdini. I immediately was asking myself if Houdini had a son? Come to find out of course, no he didn't have a son. But I had to really research this stuff. How long have you two been collaborating on this? Is this a year long process or a couple years in the making?

Jeremy: 2 years. As Kevin said, we were working on another project. It was something that I had already written. It wasn't something that we were co-creating. So when he pitched Houdini to me about 2 years ago, I think we had a couple false starts and there were timing issues.  I read this book which Kevin recommended called The Secret Life of Houdini, which is this biography that poses this idea that Houdini was a spy for American &  British intelligence in the  lead up to WW1. So I really liked the book and I pulled some of the ideas for the story. I would send Kevin a draft of ideas and then it was back and forth for a while.

Kevin: Houdini as a character is so rich. He has 4 or 5 different careers that are all interesting. He was a pilot, a magician, a movie star, a carnival act for a while in his early years. and he was a scholar. He had one of the largest libraries of his time. He had an entire staff just to look after his library. He was this man of all different kinds of faces. Our story takes this idea that magic is real, that it exists. Which, if you met Houdini he says "magic is not real, I am a performer, this is all part of an act" But I kind of think that in using that magic is real, we can give Houdini a different perspective while remaining true to him. Being the guy that debunked fraudulent and spiritualism and things like that. 


The Frog Queen: Why Houdini?

Kevin: I think I was really into some article online that I was reading. It was talking about "the biggest bad-asses in history". and I think they brought up Houdini, the man that performed who performed until his last dying breath. He died on stage. His death is still this weird mystery that nobody really knows about. Why this guy, who could pick locks with his toes, he fashioned his entire body to be this perfect weapon. What kind of stories can you create with that guy? He's like a living Batman. I think that is a really interesting start to a character and that's where I think it all came from. The fact that he knew so many important people in his time also contributed to that. He knew Ted Roosevelt, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle..

Jeremy: He was friends with people at Scotland Yard; he spoke multiple languages and he did these world tours where he traveled across the globe. He made for the perfect spy because he couldn't be captures and contained. It's just ripe for a fun action and adventure story.

Please visit in the future for Part 2 of this interview with the creators of After Houdini!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Delphine by Richard Sala

Originally serialized as a four-issue miniseries between 2006 and 2009, Delphine has finally been released in a collected hardcover edition by Fantagraphics Books as of January 2013. I finally got a copy at the library.

As usual, the library  description was inaccurate and described this book as a horror. Although other sources have described Sala in the past as a horror novelist, I feel this is somewhat unfitting for this title.

I found the beginning of Delphine to be humorous and lighthearted but my feelings changed towards the last two thirds of the book. What began as a simple journey to find a girl, turned into a shocking display of internal misogyny and self loathing. This adult fairy tale takes a spin on the traditional by giving us the male perspective. Unfortunately this male lacks the ability to view his love interests with sympathy, often turning to blame her for the misfortune he experiences in his quest to locate her. He reflects on a rant in which he asserts that women hold the power in the affairs of love. What bothers me isn't that he believes she is powerful, it's HOW he believes that she is powerful. As if being pigeonholed into an eternity of victim-hood can be interpreted as lazy in the affairs of love. A quote from our Mr. Charming:

"Men are supposed to be direct about these things, while women just drop hints or give certain looks that men are supposed to interpret. If you can't decipher the signs properly, if you can't read between the lines~ then you've failed. Even if you merely hesitate, due to uncertainty or tact~ you've failed." 

I suppose if this were a fairly tale set in the 1600's then maybe you could sympathize with our protagonist considering he had been fed a life-time of stories revolving around one specific gender role. Yet, this is a modern day fairy tale! This kind of BS isn't acceptable behavior/opinion. Then with the next portion of monologue, it gets worse:

"She told me she'd been with a lot of guys. That made me jealous. I know it's crazy to be jealous of ex-bfs or whatever. And women can't bear men who get caught up in that kind of self-doubt. Men are supposed to be cavalier about relationships. That apparently makes them more desirable to women."

I'm sorry, are we supposed to like this character?

While my attempt to stay impartial to the female characters of the story may not be completely successful, it still contains more effort than that of the author to remain impartial to his male protagonist. The author vilifies women just as traditional fairy tales so often have. It shoves them in the same roles letting women be nothing more than victims or villains all the while being critical of their position. At one point it is almost as if Sala tries to appeal to the female reader by insisting that Delphine is an independent lady and not a victim at all. Yet he vilifies her when she acts of her own will, insisting that she is merely toying with the young man and ultimately punishing her with rape and death.

I am reminded of the fairy tale Bluebeard in which the moral of the story urges women to "listen to your husband" rather than conveying a message to men not to "murder their wives". Heaven forbid the message be "Hey lady, you're husband is a murderer, run for your life! It was a good idea you inspected that closet!"

Although I don't think the hero or Prince Charming of any fairy tale has the best role in the story, he certainly does not have to make himself look more sympathetic by vilifying the heroine. In the end our Delphine is reduced to two things: 1) a siren because Mr. Charming felt compelled to follow her. It's her fault he fell into misfortune. 2) a victim. She is found as if asleep on a bed like so many princesses in fairy tales (But really, she's probably unconscious from being raped with a crucifix as her step-mother describes).  Like fairy tales, Delphine has a wicked step mother who is the typical looking gaunt, silhouetted witch. It's all so very fairy-tale esq.

In the end I have no idea what the author was attempting to accomplish. Was Sala trying to make us understand Mr. Charming? Was he trying to depict him to be contemptuous and unlovable? Or was he trying to make us feel pity for him rather than envying the dashing Prince Charming of fairy tales? It all leaves off on a rather sullen note with a last look at a frightening woman leading men off into the night.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Three by Kieron Gillen

A few things, firstly I found the script really dry. I get that Sparta was full of slaves but come on. Do we need to focus on rape here? I get so tired of stories set in ancient times just so the authors can depict rape 100 different ways. I get it. It happened. Stop glorifying ancient "insert random culture here" rape. Where's the damn story.

Secondly, the artwork keeps reminding me of 1980's Dungeons and Dragons comic books. I think it has to do with the color scheme. Obviously the artwork in 3 is superior and more detailed. Yet I find myself flashing back to my childhood comics.

Thirdly, I detest telling vs showing. I don't want big bold letters labeling the characters. I want to learn who the characters are by reading the damn story. Show me the story, don't explain it as if this is some didactic lesson.

And finally, I do not like stories about the 300 Spartans. They just consistently end up being awful. Violent, boring and exploitative. Ring any bells? Yes? Look, I want an actual story to go along with this legend. Why can't someone tell a truly interesting Sparta story that isn't full of rape, female oppression and random male show-boatery? sigh. Yuck.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Battling Boy Vol 1 by Paul Pope

Wednesday, October 9th 2013 I ran out and grabbed the hardcover edition of Paul Pope's newest graphic novel Battling Boy. Then I hugged it, and hugged it.. and it hurt my arms because it's hard....

I have been anticipating this release since my friend TomorrowBoy did a video interview with Paul Pope at a Library Symposium in Chicago (the bastard). All that aside, I opened the book up as soon my day ended! Oo so much fun!

Clearly, Pope has taken some inspiration from Norse mythology (or Marvel's Thor, however you wanna look at it). In no way does he name this lightening god as Thor. It is clear where he's come up with this story.

The whole plot begins with a monster over-run city called Acropolis which is suspiciously Earth-like despite the monsters. This inter-dimensional Thunder master send his only son down to Acropolis to help the humans wipe out the monsters. Battling Boy attracts some attention to himself in a fight with a giant monster and gets his own PR crew. The mayor of Acropolis and the military are really big on public appearances.They want to make Battling Boy the new hero of the city, in place of one they recently lost. However, Aurora West daughter of the late hero, is not thrilled by Battling Boy's sudden fame.


The artwork is unmistakably Pope yet somewhat different. I feel as though the panels are somewhat minimalist in comparison to say 100% or Heavy Liquid. With the exception of busy Monster hide-out scenes, Pope takes advantage of sprawling skylines. I feel as though this is the kind of project Pope has wanted to do for a while so that he can have the opportunity to create the strangest monsters any of us has dreamed of. I get these flashbacks to 1980's children's cartoons every time I look at the creatures in this book.


Battling Boy is an all-ages adventure to be released in two parts. Volume one can presently be purchased in trade paper or hard cover editions in a smaller than average format. It is approximately the size of a thick Archie comic which I quite like although it now looks better on the shelf with my Manga than my other collected volumes.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

After Houdini Issue #1 by Jeremy Holt & Kevin Zeigler

written by Jeremy Holt
art by Kevin Zeigler

Jeremy Holt described this story to me as "A semi-biographical action/adventure that follows the estranged son of Harry Houdini, who— besides being the world’s most famous magician—is a covert spy for American and British Intelligence in the lead up to WWI." I cannot put it more succinctly than that so allow me to expand...

Frightening forces are at work in the political world and begin to center around Josef Houdini. Possessing some magical talents of his own, he escapes the confines of prison only to be pulled into the realms of mysticism. I get the feeling that the very fabric of reality is being pulled away around Houdini as some part of his father’s powerful past begins to wrap itself around him. In the story, we get to see an ominous, skeletal form which imparts cryptic information to our hero. I absolutely love this scene.

I think my favorite part about this premiering issue, is the fact that I actually WANT to read the next installment. I WANT to know where this is going. The mystery Holt cultivates through his script has gripped me. Zeigler creates the perfect backdrop for the story. I instantly felt at home in the macabre environment. The dark panels develop an eerie atmosphere that suits the story precisely. Whenever I think of 19th Century magicians, I imagine this gothic ambiance. I can’t help but be reminded of one of my favorite French graphic novels “Miss Don’t Touch Me” when I look at Zeigler’s work. The backdrop mirrors that French style of illustration which exaggerates differences in human form. As a result, each of the characters drawn are distinctly unique in appearance. 

Please check back for my two-part interview with Jeremy Holt and Kevin Zeigler this month as we discuss the development of After Houdini both past and present.





Revival: Volume 2 by Tim Seely and Mike Norton

Initially, I was unsure where Revival was heading as a series. I knew it had gained enough popularity to continue with a second year of releases yet I did not know what to expect from the future of the story. I really liked the premise. It was full of mystery (and continues to hold a great deal) allowing the reader to develop all kinds of ideas about what caused Revival Day, the day the dead came back to life.

Revival is not a zombie apocalypse story. It's a story about people being unable to pass-over. It's also a story about some folks coming back to life and trying to continue on with their normal routine. It just so happens that everything does not exactly continue normally and that some of the people who come back to life, well... they might be having some issues dealing with their second coming.

What caused Revival Day? There is still a bit of mystery around that. I was going with the aliens theory while characters in the story jumped to religious conclusions. It appears that religious conclusions are running toward the um... the conclusion. I have faith (no pun intended) that this story is less about demons and more about aliens. I think it's because I wanted Stephen King's Dreamcatcher to be less awful. With all the snow and the blood (and the crazy, let's not forget the crazy), I kept being reminded of that awful, awful story that actually had some potential. If only King had left out that stupid childhood bonding BS. Yet Revival seems to be heavily about demons thus far. I am anxiously awaiting further explanation! Really loving this series! Religious nuts make for good conflict.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Nobody by Jeff Lemire

Published in 2009, The Nobody is Jeff Lemire's first graphic novel. Although it is obvious that Lemire was inspired by H.G. Wells' classic story of the invisible man, I feel there an almost Steinbeckian feel to this tragic tale. A man, believing himself invisible commits heinous acts. Yet did he really hurt anyone but himself and was he in fact invisible? A lot of Lemire's later work echoes this distorted sense of reality.

The reader experiences The Nobody largely through the eyes of Vicky, a sixteen year old student and diner attendant. Her narrative explains the curiosity and cruelty of a small town's reaction to a bandage-covered stranger. Jon Griffin is dressed head to toe in bandages and wears strange, completely circular spectacles. He arrives at Wide Mouth (home of the worlds largest bass) and books a room at the local motel where he conducts odd experiments.

The book is unquestionably Lemire and carries the artistic style which has made him both successful and celebrated. It would be interesting to know how he came to choose the coloring for the book. To me, the sky blue exists in the illustrations to give you the feeling of a cold, and isolated little town, much how I could imagine Griffin feeling as he hides alone behind his bandages.


As with most of Lemire's work, the ending tastes of bitter sweet, yet leaves on a soft note that makes you smile. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Walking Dead: All Out War Issue #115 ~ 10th Year Anniversary Special *SPOILERS*

FINALLY! The war we have all been waiting for is about to go down! This is just the beginning and there is no way of telling which of your favorite characters are going to die. Prediction: Michone's new love interest, Ezekiel.. yeah that's right we all know Michone is not going to get to be happy. Who should they really kill off?? ANDREA! I have rarely been a fan of Andrea from the beginning. I am guessing she is most likely safe because she's staying on the Hilltop with Carl who for some reason has been put in charge of organizing the Hilltop. Carl is looking more like a teenager and less like the child we've known him to be.

So what is Rick's plan? He takes all the people who are willing to tag along, up to the gates and calls to Negan with a message for surrender. It's more of a plea to the peaceful inhabitants of Negans compound. Surrender Negan & his forces and you will all live on peacefully with the Hilltop & The Kingdom. However, Negan's reaction is to kill off all the defenseless people inside his own walls. We all knew Negan was ruthless.

Most of this comic is about our heroes parting ways and preparing for the worst although they are all so optimistic. I have a feeling that Rick's plan has not been completely revealed to the reader. How are they going to get out this one?

Flesh-Colored Horror: Dying Young by Junji Ito

 Flesh-Colored Horror is a collection of short manga stories by Junji Ito. I would like to talk about one particular story in this book called Dying Young. This story originally appeared in Monthly Magazine Halloween in 1991.

This story begins with the miraculous transformation of school girl Ayako's best friend. For no foreseeable reason, she begins to change slowly, day by day, until she takes on the appearance of a completely different person, however now beautiful. The gradual change in her appearance was apparently accompanied by a gradual change in her health, as the young girl one day falls down dead. It appears her body expired. No one understands the cause of her death. After some time, other girls in the school begin to undergo these changes causing onlookers to believe a strange new plague is over-taking the population of girls. Rumors start to circulate around the halls. If you eat the heart of another girl you won't be overtaken by death and can remain beautiful and most importantly~alive.

My interpretation of this story: It servers as a cautionary tale about the dangers of being vain. Ito warns the female reader that being yourself is more important than being beautiful and aims to nearly vilify those who gain beauty by unnatural means. I think it is also important to note that the story contains strong allegory for feminine puberty, using the changes young women undergo to terrify and scare the reader. As Ayako notices the changes in her best friend, she eventually sees the same changes in the other girls as she looks about her class. There is that sense of being left behind maturity-wise as she remains the same and her classmates grow to become more beautiful young ladies with breasts and curves.

All in all, it's pretty awesomely disturbing yet containing kind of the opposite of body gore. Different for Ito.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Pulp the New One-Shot by Jeremy Holt & Chris Peterson! NOW AVAILABLE!

You can now get your digital copy of Pulp written by Jeremy Holt and Chris Peterson!  Check out https://gum.co/pulp to get it now!

North 40 by Aaron Williams & Fiona Staples

North 40 brings a whole lot of wonderfully, sinless characters together on a harrowing journey to save their town from being engulfed by demonic powers...is what I would say if all of the characters in this story were flat, fairy-tale like characters typecast into sad gender roles. North 40 gives us a diverse and imaginative world with men and women who aren't wholly evil or good. I could give you the full run down on the events, but I'd rather give you a brief summary. As brief as possible as I typically do :

Teenagers in a library, being stupid and reading restricted books; unleashing terrifying, ancient "evil dead-esq" powers on small town America. Some towns folk are transformed into grotesque beasts while some towns folk transform other town folk into grotesque - man-eating - giant - automobile monsters. Some reasonably good forces band together to stop the slaughter. THE END (kind of).

That is the shortest summary I could come up with. The plot isn't really what I want to talk about. As far a synopsis goes, it's pretty average. Honestly, this has happened before. Opening up gates of demons, magic, other dimensional beings and general chaos is a pretty common theme in horror movies, books and graphic novels alike. Let's not forget about pen and pencil RPG's! A little Rifts anyone?

That being said, it doesn't take a fantastic synopsis to make a great graphic novel. It takes a talented artist to interpret masterful storytelling and make it real for all of us. As previously stated, I'm not awed by the plot. I am awed by the artwork and the hilarious world both writer and artist have cultivated. We've got some interesting characters. A lot of them actually. The twisted things that happen to them, well that just makes it more fun. Again, I don't want to spoil the ride but for anyone currently engaged in Fiona Staples work in Saga, it might be worth my saying so that this book is some of Staples' most finest work. Of course I am personally in love with Saga, but the detail in North 40 makes Saga look flat and rushed in comparison. Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to criticize Saga, I am merely stating that Staples' work in North 40 is far more detailed. However this could be due a difference in art mediums; an observation that I am making based entirely on conjecture. I am not afraid to admit that I do not have any information to back up that hunch. If you are a fan of Staples work, you need to take a look at North 40. You would be missing out if passed over this gem.




Saga: Issue # 13 & 14 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

I am slightly behind in my reading due to travel so I'm lumping the review of these together so..... WOW..... wow.... WOW!

So as if I wasn't thrilled enough by the giant tree spaceship, bone bugs made me smile during a particularly rough afternoon. Most of the comic book world has been enamored with the world of Saga. The Eisner Award winning series has readers suspending disbelief all over the globe. It's no wonder that I am just as thrilled every time I read an issue, as everyone else. The fantasy is so highly outrageous that I want to hug it. However considering I've ruined enough of my singles by kissing them on the cover (oh you sexy cover) over the years (I'm looking at you Spike), I'll try my best not to hug them tightly and ruin the paper.

In issue 14, Gwendolyn, Slave Girl (Sophia) and The Will await a rescue team with Liar Cat. The Will starts having dreams about his long dead lover The Stalk in which she persuades him to give up the life of a mercenary and settle down. Slave Girl, who now goes by the name of Sophia has a sweet little self asserting talk with Liar Cat which was particularly heart warming to me. She calmly states that she is dirty on the inside because of what she has done and Liar Cat lets her know she's being dishonest to herself and she gives her a big fat hug.

Saga is as usual, one of those series that has you barely holding your bladder in anticipation and I am constantly bopping from one foot to another waiting for the next release.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Exclusive Interview with Peter Wartman, author of "Over the Wall"

Peter Wartman, a Self Portrait.
I anxiously awaited the release of this graphic novel after I logged onto UncivilizedBooks.com and saw the cover. I flipped through a few photos and my brain told me that I needed to read this book. I just NEEDED it. So, I pre-ordered myself a signed copy as Peter most generously agree to do for the pre-orders. Here is my exclusive interview with Peter Wartman regarding his first graphic novel Over the Wall.

Froggie: First of all, allow me to say thank you for agreeing to do this interview.  I have a few questions mostly related to the plot but please tell me how you developed the world in "Over the Wall" and what your primary inspirations were in it’s creation?

Peter: Thanks for setting up the interview!
The world in the comic developed as I was drawing the story, mostly to serve the needs of the plot. The first image I had of the comic was a girl standing on top of a wall, looking into a huge, abandoned metropolis, and all I did was start asking questions about what was going on. Why was the city abandoned? Why did she need to go into it?
The look of the city developed at the same time: my objective was to create a maze-like place you could easily get lost in, hopefully reflecting some of the themes of the story.



FQ: I love the tribal  themes in the world you created. Can you tell me what specific cultural influences (if any) that you were drawing from?

 P: It's a bit of a polyglot mix. There's a bunch of Mesoamerican stuff in there, but also quite a lot of Roman influence (all those domes, for example). I wasn't really trying to invoke any one culture, and, hopefully, I was able to build something with its own flavor.


F: I  personally have a great appreciation for black and white comics. Over the Wall ‘s artwork reminded me of Frank Miller’s Sin City due to the use and absence of color. Was there a reason you decided to present the world to the reader highlighted in purple?

P: Using pure black and white forces you to focus on lighting and composition, which has always been what I've been most interested in. Comics like Mignola's Hellboy (or Miller's work) are great examples of this, Mignola especially can evoke complex scenes with just a few well-placed areas of white in a sea of black. It feels like getting down to the core elements behind what makes an image work (contrast, value, composition) and I really enjoy that.
The purple color is maybe a bit of a cheat, given these influences—it gives me another layer to indicate lighting and texture with—but I think it gives the comic a bit more weight. The purple color itself came about by mistake: I'm partially colorblind, and my attempt to pick a blue hue ended up with a lot of red sneaking in. My publisher liked the color I picked, however, so we ran with it.



FQ: Throughout history in humanities myths and legends, names hold power over good and evil alike. What is the significance of names in your story? Why does the main character remain nameless?

P: Names are the way we make the world comprehensible, the way we compartmentalize and control it (or try to, anyway). When you give something a name you pin it down and assign all kinds of attributes to it. Calling the monsters in the comic “demons”, for example, brings with it all sorts of cultural baggage and prepares the reader to think about them in a certain way. Names are powerful things.
I left the characters nameless for most of the story partially due to the rules of the world they inhabitgiving your name to a 'demon' is a bad idea—and partially because the story is about searching for identity. Giving the characters a chance to show who they are before I saddle them with names seemed to fit.


F: I am terrible for trying to predict the end of stories while I’m reading them. I had immediately decided that our main character did not locate her brother when she ran into the boy in the city. What is the truth about this plot point? Is the boy she found actually her brother?

P: Leaving that question open was intentional. I think the question holds even if the person she found really was her brother at one point: if he has no memories, is he really the same person?
I like it when stories leave a lot of lingering questions and don't tie things up neatly at the end (although I hope it feels like the comic did have a clear ending). I also think that stories are always a collaboration between the writer and the reader, and whatever interpretation the reader brings to the table is as valid as my own. 
 

F: Did you write this story with the intention of it being readable for an audience of all ages?

P: In a way it just sort of happened. This is the kind of story I like to tell, so I just tried to write something that would keep me interested. I'm happy to be put in the all-ages category though!
 

F: What are the chances of a sequel to Over the Wall?

P: Pretty high! 


F: As this is your first graphic novel, what are your plans for the future? Are you currently working on or developing any new stories?

P: I'm not quite ready to announce it yet, but my next comic is in the works. I'll be posting updates on my site (www.shipwreckplanet.com), so if you want to keep up to date I'd check there.



Thursday, September 19, 2013

Revival #1 by Tim Seeley & Mike Norton

This issue was recommended to me by Mr. Dominic Marco and yesterday I found a free copy which is kind of coincidental really. Anyway, I read it last night AND... WHOLEY HELL! What a great way to open a series! I mean, dear god! The creepiness! The killing! MURDER!!!

I'm sorry, I get this way when I start reading a lot of horror/thriller comics, especially good ones! Here we go, now bear with me, TOP TEN THINGS I LOVE ABOUT THIS ISSUE:

1) The creepy-ass grandmother speaking cryptically and referencing biblical passages out in a barn while pulling out her own teeth with pliers! 
2) The fact that said creepy grandmother mentions that she's pulling out her teeth so she can wear her dentures!! Oh! The fact that she says her teeth keep growing the fuck in! What on Earth does that mean? She says she can FEEL them moving!
3) I think that aliens are involved...
4) The aliens are awesome tall, white, creepy stick figures!
5) The dead rise and they are not immediately crazy!
6) People seem to have accepted that the dead are rising and walking around like everything is normal.
7) This town has been quarantined! I mean, that right there, is the best setting for a horror story. Not to mention that we step into the story right in the middle of the action! The town has been quarantined before the reader even starts reading.
8)  There's a chick holding a scythe. 
9)  The day the dead started walking around was called "Revival Day".
10) Some stupid hill billies claim that you can cure impotence by having sex with a "reviver". (How do you have sex if you're impotent?)

There you have it. I love this issue. I flippin love it. I'm going out today and buying the two trade papers. I'll be all caught up and ready for the next preview. Thank you Image Comics :)