Sunday, June 30, 2013

King City by Brandon Graham

My favorite things about Brandon Graham's writing happens to be his are puns and abuse of common English sayings. For instance instead of "shitload" he'll say "shirtload" and in the case of King City, a grifter lock-picker named Joe has a cat with special powers and needs to duplicate keys (he sells them on the black market). Want to replicate that key? The cat swallows it and spits out two- "copy cat". Lots of wonderful uses of signs : "No trespassing! Violators will be violated!" Brilliant silliness. Golden dialogue, Joe is reading headline :

"Hold up..Unfairly hung she-male." "It is a shame. I saw a man unfortunate enough to be unfairly hung. No trial, just a noose over a tree. It's a horrible thing." "No, you're not paying attention, Look!" "Krushchev's Bones! That they could have thrown over a tree!"

It's funnier if you realize that the conversation takes place between a giant sasquache and a man with a genetically enhanced cat (at least I assume that's why he's so super). It's dialogue like this that makes me smile. In case you were going to get all bent out of shape about the use of she-male, allow me to explain that Brandon Graham hasn't got an issue with transgender/bi/gay anyone and that she-male is still a popularly used term by some people who don't wish to identify as trans. At any rate, let's move on.

So our Grifter Joe (well actually he's called a Cat Master) makes his living taking odd jobs with the help of his trusty side-kick Earthling J. J. Catingsworth the Third. He's the super cat however he does need a dose of cat-juice to perform any real exciting tricks like the cat-scope. Scripting gold: "Word to the wise..." "Don't know any." Sorry had to do that.
I absolutely love Graham's detailing of items. He does this in all of his books stories including Prophet which he writes but does not illustrate. Graham loves to make up all kinds of interesting gadgets. You remember my posts on Multiple Warheads? He had some great illustrated lists in there too. He uses them often and I think they are just fantastic.

As far as the setting? Well King City is on Earth but when?? Sometime in the future? Maybe? There are aliens! Basically, Multiple Warheads is very similar but it's unclear if King City is post-apocalypse. Apparently Korea is mostly xombies (zombies but spelt with an x). There is also an interesting drug called chalk that slowly turns users into the drug itself! Nice concept. It starts with your fingers turning to chalk and falling off until eventually you're all chalked up...gone.

All in all, I loved it. But I have a exceedingly difficult time not enjoying everything Brandon Graham does. Next I'll review a coloring book he put out. It's comic book porn lol. Werewolves that are double packing lol.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

ELFQUEST: Wolfrider Volume 1 by Wendy & Richard Pini

So... this was first published in '92. When I started reading it, I assume it was from the late 70's early 80's and that was because of how it was written. It's pretty awful. Obviously the writer/artists were not reading anything actually published in the 90's, well nothing good anyway. But then, I tried to learn more about the series and found out that in fact, the story started in '78. DC started publishing the series in chronological order and not order of publication. From my understanding, the writers skipped around in the timeline, releasing stories that happened 600 years prior to the main storyline and on into the future (back to the past, then to the future... wonder how the continuity held up?). So I have to assume that this particular story arc was published in '92 as listed in the volume.

It's sooo cheesy. There is no comic relief. The names of all the characters are completely trite and unoriginal : Mantricker, Bearclaw, Joyleaf ??? WTF. I'm bored already. These elves ride wolves, speak telepathically and live in a "holt". (Holt Renfrew? Holt 45? tehehe, I know it's not called that, Steve Holt?) A holt is a woodland area. Sigh. How original. Stupid wood elves. You know what class I never play in D&D or Elder Scrolls.. Wood Elf! Never play it, don't care.. bloody lame and short. I'm short in real life. Why would I wanna be short in an RPG? I am a Glitterboy in RIFTS for a reason. IT'S GIGANTIC and you don't even have to exit the suit to piss. It has built in plumbing. Wow the french sure know how to build mecha. (For anyone who is unfamiliar with RIFTS, please Google the word with Paladium. Marvel at the quadruple XL T-shirts.)

Alright, back to this awful, boring book. The first adventure these 3 foot elves experience happens to be bartering with some subterranean trolls. Another original name here- Maggoty. Just when I'm already bored, things get more boring when some humans enter the scene. Wouldn't you know it, apparently it's all out war because the elves and humans cannot understand each others language (oh and the humans think the elves are demons).  The elves refer to the humans as "round-ears" and the humans refer to the elves as ... wait for it... nope you got it wrong! They call them "pointy-ears"! Wait, that's what you guessed the humans would use as a derogatory term for the elves? So you're saying this book is totally unoriginal and boring?

You know, I really tried to get into this because it's a cult classic, but it looks like I started out with the wrong volume. Or maybe the whole series is just shite. At any rate, I think I'll just leave this one in the spank bank... back away slowly and pick up some quality stuff by Brandon Graham to make me happy. Matthew will be happy to know I'm into King City finally. Yeay for a break from school!!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

King of the Flies: Volume 1 Hallorave by Mezzo & Pirus

Art by MEZZO
Story by PIRUS

Hallorave, I assume, gets it's name from the opening chapter of pill-popping, Halloween shenanigans. It starts out with a skeleton, a fly and a cat. These are just costumes of course. Sal is the Cat and we get to know more about her as the story progresses. Eric is the fly and sort of the main character. It's somewhat hard to say who the main character is really. Each chapter is from the perspective of a different character and they all sort of walk into each others paths. Well, stumble and covet. This one wants that one and is completely indifferent to the one they are actually with. Such is life I guess? Not my life. I couldn't are less about someone who doesn't show an interest in me. I never understood unrequited love. To me that just screams immature love. Oh what do I know.. wait no, I know lots damn it! I've been in enough different kinds of relationships and I'm very firm on one thing: I don't pine for someone who isn't pining after me. So this whole story, although familiar to others, couldn't be more unfamiliar to me. So... let's move on.

It all starts with the typical 21 year old discontent, but bleeds into the typical middle-life-crisis discontent. Sorta like American Beauty meets Ghost World. Is it no wonder that this book is on the same label as Daniel Clowes' work? What eats me up the most is just how much this story reminds me of Brett Easton Ellis. That's right, you though I only read comics. No no, I consume books from graphic novels to novels. I consume them. I eat them up and then spew out a bunch of jibberish that has little to do with the book and more to do with me and my thoughts. Get use to it, you're still reading aren't you? But in all seriousness, this reeks of Less Than Zero and The Informers. (note the italics, that's me trying to implement my tech writing regime to my blog.. I forget to do it most of the time.)

Brett Easton Ellis is one of my favorite novelists. I can't help but identify with the self-incriminating dissatisfaction of the 90's child. I was born in the early 80's but you get it. Apathy and self-loathing, hating your life, the world and your parents, the pointlessness, it  was kind of the idea. That's what this story is about. Except there are a few things that I never got. I've always had a goal, I've always had a purpose, and I've always known what I wanted out of my life. I'm a dreamer and unlike most of the 90's, well... I think Lisa Simpson said it best when she implied that feeding the 90's generation of teens grunge music, was equal to shooting fish in a barrel. Apathy. Well I'm not like that, at least not anymore. The characters in this book, well they have no goals or aspirations, no hope, no cares really... and if they do, it certainly isn't something they think about often. To these characters, existence is a plague but not one they even give a shit enough about to find a cure for. They are lost in the self-medication of the streets. They abuse prescription drugs and chase them with bourbon. They aimlessly move through time trying to solve a riddle about themselves that no one has even bothered asking.

Long-stupid-post-short, I liked it. I really liked it. Especially the ending. WTF?? It was awesome. Didn't see it coming. Now that's what I live for  :) A little excitement no?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Psyren : Volume 3 by Toshiaki Iwashiro

So it took me a few minutes to remember what happened in Volume 2, but I got this.. they are back in the Psyren wasteland which is the future of Japan! With mutants and monsters and aliens?? I'm not going to bother explaining the synopsis again. You will have to go back to the posts on Volume 1 & 2 for that.

Unfortunately, Psyren suffers from a common comic book writer pitfall “telling vs showing”. A tremendous amount of manga in the sci-fi/fantasy genre, take this route for lack (coughnoimaginationcough) of any other way  to explain the supernatural and extraordinary events/characters/etc. In the case of Psyren like so many other manga series, the characters have supernatural abilities and like so many other manga series the author has neglected to accurately show us how they work and has opted to have a character tediously explain it to the reader. By doing so, you are forcing the dialog in an unnatural direction and pushing the reader out of the current action and fantasy land (can you say "I love escapism"). It always makes me kind of pissed honestly, because I would rather figure things out with a series of subtle hints.

I do realize that at some points, some things must be explained by a character as a resolution. That's not really a horrible thing if done in an imaginative way that is true to the characters personality. Series like Eden have this covered. The author had decided early on to put their bits and pieces of special info and terms into footnotes. Not everyone likes the idea of footnotes, but I really appreciate them. It gives me the opportunity to read them after I have finished reading a particular scene and allows the author to keep the dialogue true to the characters. I'm big on characters obviously. Dialogue can be so awful in manga, especially with the language & meaning lost in translation.

Sooo what do I think of Volume 3?? Well...obviously the above issue is a problem for me. There was much more of that crap in this volume than the two previous. They introduced a new character who is kinda interesting when considering the plot opportunities, yet I have no idea if we'll ever see the character again based on the ending. That's it.. END POST. :P

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Death Ray by Daniel Clowes

Mildly ignored and overlooked Andy is our death ray wielding hero. Hero is not the word I would use, that's just what Andy thinks of himself for the most part. Andy is our 1960's anti-hero.

The book begins with the quiet narration of a middle aged Andy, mostly detailing the events of his childhood, teenage years and early 20's. Andy tells us about his only real friends and his un-timely demise in high school. He explains how both of his parent's died and how he grew up with his pappy. He also tells us that when he smokes cigarrettes he becomes abnormally strong and can defend the weak from bullies at school. He can stand up to those  he sees trampling on the soft will of others.

So there's my little summary, but I wanna talk about poor, sad Andy. See Andy gets this Death Ray from his dead father. It was left to him along with a note detailing the extraordinary powers of cigarettes combined with his DNA (or at least that's what I grasped from it, it's all a little vague). This Death Ray makes living things disappear completely. Andy finds ways to justify using his gun. Sometimes it's in defense of someone he thinks is being abused. Sometimes it's out of self defense but regardless of when he has the gun, sometimes he takes matters into his own hands after having a smoke. He attacks a bartender after he closes up shop because the bartender was cruel to a lonely customer who explained that a loved one just died. The bartenders lack of compassion got under Andy's skin. So Andy waited outside the bar and roughed him up for his terrible behavior. Andy doesn't tell us if he killed the man.

In the end, Andy thinks he's an alright guy. He knows other people will look down on him for his actions. For me, I understand assisting someone in need, defending someone, but I cannot get behind punching the shit out of someone for being verbally unsympathetic. So obviously, Andy's view of wrong doing is clearly black and white. You are either in the wrong or in the right and he will judge your punishment as he sees fit. He can't see the difference between violent indifference and passive indifference.He clearly doesn't see his own actions as criminal. Now that's interesting, since after his first human slaying, he became quite indifferent.

One of Those Update Things

I thought I’d give you a little update on what I’ll be reviewing this month! My intention is to post at least every second day, if not EVERY day. I have a few things on order from the Library and some things I purchased a few weeks back but didn’t get to read yet. The list includes Psyren Volume 4, Elfquest, Naussicaa and the Valley of the wind, Naruto, Osamu Tezuka’s Princess Knight Volume 2,  Book of Human Insects  and some Daniel Clowes. Also a few things I am currently reading :  Daniel Clowe’s The Death Ray, Psyren Volume 3, King of the Flies Volume 1 Hallorave.
It’s really kind of all over the place isn’t it? My comic book interests are almost as sporadically nonsensical as my music consumption, which is all over the place honestly. What can I say, I like to try out a little of everything! Although, just like with my music interests, I definitely know what I do and don’t like in the comic book world. There’s tons and tons of music out there that I can’t fucking stand but as far as genres go, I’m all over the place – blues, metal, post-punk, new wave, industrial, indie-rock.. indie blah blah.. classic rock, hardcore, grind, core this and that---you know how it goes with the obnoxious invention of music genres. I think that label I hate the most is Shoegaze.. not because I don’t like the actual music, I just hate that fucking word. Shoegaze?? Oh come on… it’s fucking indie rock… a bunch of hipsters who listened to too much shiny Brit pop…. Oh jesus, look I’ve gotten way off topic and started ranting. I will stop before I get too deep into it. Hmm kinda looks like I’m already a good paragraph in. Ah well. Keep reading your comics folks J

 One last thing: More Junji Ito posts to come. The picture above is of course, another one of Junji Ito's little gems.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Black Jack : Volume 2 by Osamu Tezuka

Hello all my lovely comic book fans! I am back and reading like crazy again with a stack of graphic novels and manga to get through! Finally finished school for a semester and then back at the learning table in September. For now it's comic book learning :)

I just finished reading Volume 2 of Black Jack. Somethings I wanted to point out about this volume and the first, I will address now. I realize I completely forgot to make mention of the disturbing chapter in Volume 1 where Tezuka has a black character that is drawn in a less than politically correct fashion. There are two reasons for this : one is that Japan was an isolated society for a really long time. There is a shocking amount of xenophobia to this day in Japan so image how it's been for the last 100 years. The second point is that Tezuka was largely influenced by American animation which as well all know,  was hugely ignorant and blatantly racist, especially in Osamu Tezuka's prime publishing years. The black character is essentially a black face with a clownish nose and mouth, completely pupil-less eyes downgrading the character from a person. That being said, I don't think Osamu Tezuka intentionally did this. I can't out-right be offended by his ignorance as the Americans were terrible at depicting African Americans in animation/drawings and did so BECAUSE they thought so little of the African populous. It's not as though Tezuka really stood much of a chance at being politically mid 20th Century Japan especially with his consumption of American entertainment.

So when reading Volume 2, I came across a chapter where there are Eskimo characters. Realizing of course that Inuit is the proper name but these books were translated using the word Eskimo. However, in the context, the main characters are disparaging the race/culture and shouting "Eskimo village" in a derogatory manner. This makes the use of the word appropriate. That being said the characters are drawn in a ridiculous manner that is ultimately ignorant and offensive. The characters have ridiculous large lips, almost no eyes to speak of and carry conversation in broken English. There is included a reference to a bizarre culinary experience that is inaccurate. "Raw Reindeer Fat! Fill your belly!" says the Inuit wife. She's drawn over-sized and burly.  The Inuit characters are depicted with their tongues consistently hanging out of their mouths which of course, insinuates a lack of intelligence and cultivation. I think savage was the word they were going for here. Clearly some serious ignorance and out-right insults. That being said, Japan wasn't exactly known for being understanding of foreign countries. They were isolationists and as previously mentioned, largely Xenophobic.

What's the point of me talking about this? Let's draw attention to the flaws of the past, acknowledge it and recognize that it is not acceptable. That being said, I still really like Osamu Tezuka and can over-look his ignorance in the face of a truly brilliant story teller.  This Volume was originally published in 1987 and Osamu was getting up there in years at this point with an already prolific career. Can't teach an old dog new tricks? Maybe, but I like to think if he were around and writing today, that he would see the error in his depiction of other cultures.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

D Gray-Man Volume 1 by Katsura Hoshino

Shonen Jump Advanced... blah. Usually I'm all over it but this one well... it didn't have as much to offer someone like me. First of all, why does the main character have to have a "special" hand? This happens all too often in manga and I find it really well... unoriginal. Let's go over it shall we? Vampire Hunter D has that talking hand... yeah it talks.. I haven't read past the first book mostly because of the talking hand. It wasn't even a funny talking hand. It was all demonic and deep voiced (at least I imagine it had a deep voice). What else? Inuyasha- Hoshi-sama (the monk) has a magical hand that has a void, in which it draws everything around it inward. It may one day grab the monk and suck him into his own hand. I'm not clear on whether or not this means that the void will continue to exist, sucking in the world/universe or if it'll just implode on itself. I guess it depends on who's laws of gravity/space/time that the writer was following (most likely none). Last but not least, Devon Sawa. "Dude, my hand has been possessed by a demon! and it's trying to kill all of you! Seth Green watch out!! Oh no, I killed you and you're a zombie now!! gahh! I have to learn to jerk off with my left-hand! I'm not ambidextrous !! Why is the world so cruel?!" -Yeah okay, that last one doesn't count. But seriously, enough with the special hands! Who cares? Not me. So let's carry on...

Our special hand guy in D Gray-Man, is a British kid named Allen Walker who is apparently an exorcist...with an annoying cat that serves to fill in holes that the writer can't write himself out of. I hate that. "I need a solution to this plot and since I am writing fantasy/horror, I'll just invent a supernatural and ridiculous character to write fill in the parts I can't find a reasonable and logical solution to. No one will contest it, I'm writing fiction." Try harder Katsura!! Anyway, Allen has this mummified looking hand with a crucifix laid into it. Listen to me sigh. I'm sighing soooo loud!! Oh and guess what, he meets a girl. FUCK THIS ! SERIOUSLY FUCK IT! and you know what... no more Shonen Jump for me for a while. My cat writes better stories. Seriously, she's inventing them all the time. Yesterday she told me that she had fleas so I treated her and super cleaned my house and I didn't find one flea. LIES! Never trust a cat. END BLOG POST.

Monday, June 3, 2013

American Vampire : Volume 3

I really can’t say enough good things about American Vampire. I’m a huge fan now. Despite the fact that I’ve been reading it over warm beers… well the book is the reason my beer keeps going warm because I get so totally lost in the story that my beer just sits there untouched. I know, weird for me right? Since when have I ever let a beer get warm?


I think Pearl is the best female bad-ass of all time. Mr. Sweet? The All American bad-ass. I actually really want Pearl and him to get together but it doesn’t look like it’s in the cards. I think the two of them could actually take on North American easily. Pearl is currently with a human who she watches age, as she goes on unchanged physically. I actually don’t care for his character at all. He reminds me of whiney Riley in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. “oh poor me, I’m dating a strong female who doesn’t really need me and just loves me” WTF? Fuck Riley. God I disliked that character. I had so much animosity towards the character that I wanted to send hate mail to Marc Blucas.. okay I wouldn’t do that.. but I was an angry teenager and he pissed me off. Heh.


Sorry, I went off topic there. So Skinner Sweet does a sort of disappearing act and we learn that the only thing that can kill this new rare American Vampire is –GOLD! Wait a second, gold? Why gold? Well they don’t give us a reason. I guess it’s some parallel between the fact that the sun actually makes these new Vampires stronger, so gold gets to be their Kryptonite. Wait, that doesn’t make sense does it? Okay chuck that, I really have no idea why gold is so deadly to these guys. We also know that there is another blind monster breed of vampires that can seriously injure Skinner Sweet.


I’m not going to give away the plot of this volume, that is to say, I’m too lazy to summarize it. Our heroes/villains all travel overseas and there is a deadly new group of vampire hunters who have no idea what they are getting into. That’s all you get from me. Just read the damn book, the art work is to bite people over. I love it.