Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Hellblazer Holes

I dunno if you know this but there are plenty of books that I read, which I do not end up immediately writing about. I have a large stack of books which are older that I missed during release while some are actually re-reads. I decided last month that I would re-read all of Hellblazer...from the beginning. That's a lot of Hellblazer. Vertigo has been re-releasing all of the books but this time with as numbered volumes. Something which did not exist previously. I have some of the original TP's but missed a few here and there. I also have more issues than I can count including the complete Peter Milligan run. Anyway, 2015 sounded like a great year filling in the holes in my Hellblazer collection.

Holes you say? Well it's going to be difficult. There are specific issues/specials and otherwise that never made it into collected editions. When you make it up to Volume 11, you start to see some publication holes. The first hole is 10 issues deep starting with issue 118 to 128. That brings us up to August 1998. What do you miss down this hole? Well a birth, a pub crawl, a trip to America, a familiar face back from the dead, The First's question, a succubus and a whole lot of Constantine family drama involving Hell. It's actually a lot to miss considering it's almost an entire year of Hellblazer. While some of these issues do not fall under a named story arc, the last fall under Paul Jenkins "How to Play With Fire".
Issue 118

 With Vertigo's steady release of additional Hellblazer volumes, I hope to see the holes close up. Andy Diggle and Peter Milligan's runs look fairly intact in trade history. There are bits and pieces scattered around from other Hellblazer contributors including one I don't have have from Paul Jenkins and Paul Pope's "Tell Me" story. That one is of particular interest to me and I doubt I'm likely to find it in my little city on the water.

I was pretty upset at Vertigo's decision to axe Hellblazer and pull Constantine into the tripe known as the New 52. He belonged with Vertigo and he belonged walking through other series like Sandman, Swamp Thing and the like. He has no business in that universe in my opinion. My contempt for Ray Fawkes grew with every issue and then Future's End happened...I realized it was all over. I figured it was best to remember my dead John Constantine in his best days with Milligan, Ennis, Carey and Morrison. The Constantine arc in the New 52 universe is just a figment of someone's lack luster imagination.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Royal Jelly: Top Picks for December 31st

Well this is going to be a cheap week for me which is good because I spent a mint on xmas presents this year. So my wallet will be happy at least. There's only one issue that I'm really looking forward to and that's the All New Miracleman Annual #1. Did you see the line-up in this issue?? Grant Morrison, Joe Quesada, Peter Milligan and Mike Allred. I mean, are you salivating yet?  Marvel also claims that this is Morrison's long lost Miracleman story written over 20 years ago and never before printed.

There are two epic covers for this issue, I just might try to grab them both. That all depends of course on whether they are available to me. I think I've done my fair share of bitching on the subject of variant covers. You know, how some shops keep them aside and then sell them at inflated costs a week later? Yeah. I get it, a shops gotta make money but a frog queen's gotta get the covers she wants. 
Jeff Smith Variant Cover

There's something to be said about customer appreciation and loyalty. You really don't want to know what I throw down a month on comics not to mention the manga, Humanoids hard backs and well, you know.. everything. It really shouldn't be too much to ask to get a lousy variant cover once in a while. Luckily for me there's very few artists who's variant covers I even want to collect so that makes it easier. Anyway rant end. That's what I'm grabbing this week. Save some cash for the new year!

The Black Paradox by Junji Ito

My holiday is over and it's back to the same old. I actually really like my "same old". It includes lots of comics, cooking, a bit of beer now and then, not to mention a sexy man to come home to at the end of a long day at the office. Not bad really. This holiday I got a bit of reading done which I wasn't altogether sure I'd be able to do. As it happens, I found a few translated Junji Ito stories online that I hadn't already read. Love it when that happens. Only a fraction of Ito's work has been translated into English and made it into to print. Mostly by the good people at Darkhorse who have a knack for choosing manga to release in North America. They are also responsible for bringing us Eden: It's An Endless World by Hiroki Endo.

Sadly I've only seen this book translated into French but The Black Paradox is outstanding and I'd love to get my hands on a copy in English. Until then, I'm stuck reading all new Ito online and coincidentally, so are you. There are plenty of decent places to find it though so I thought I'd be sweet and share with you openawesome's link.

The Black Paradox centers around a group of four who meet online and form a suicide pact. Each suffering from their own condition, they share their stories and choose to end it all when things go horribly wrong. As with most Ito stories, one character remains firmly gripped to reality and horrified at the events which unfold while others are sucked into the nightmare, accepting the horror. Paranoia is one of Ito's greatest tools. As the only sane character struggles to make other's see what is wrong in the situation, they also suffer from paranoia and wonder if they have gone mad with the whole world. 

This story differs from many of Ito's work in the end. I won't spoil it but simply state that it doesn't end on quite the doom and gloom that things normally end on. As this is a much longer story comprised of six chapters, you can compare it more easily to that of Gyo and Uzemaki. Yet the ending didn't leave me filled with dread or hopelessness. 

Ito has utilized many of his favorite eerie tools in this story. As typical, the master of body gore manages to creep us out with horrifying exploding bodies and disunited jaws. He also includes a bit of familiar mechanical horror as well not unlike Gyo. Some of my favorite Ito includes the mad scientist routine. 

This story was originally released with two bonus stories. The Licking Woman and The Mystery Pavilion. The first being very typical Ito and the second is a sort of surprise. I really do hope this is released in the near future as I'd love to add it to my very small Ito collection which comprises only of Uzemaki and Gyo due to the fact that no one ever releases anything here. 

The other day I found a picture of Ito on tumblr where he was at a book signing. I had a day dream that I got to meet him and ask how he imagines all these stories and how horror makes him feel. For me, horror is essential to keeping myself balanced. The supernatural and existentialism in Ito's inspires me to think outside of the box when I'm writing where anything can be horrific. Think I'll have to do some writing tonight.

Friday, December 26, 2014

They're Not Like Us #1 *Spoilers*

The holidays are making me slack with my writing but that's not my fault. As most people, I'm busy with friends and family. Finding a quiet moment to type out a review hasn't been easy. I got a few minutes so let me just bang this out.

I was really excited for this release. They're Not Like Us being a new collaboration between Simon Gane and Eric Stephenson. Gane being once called the king of "punk" comics aesthetic. Stephenson was nominated for an Eisner Award for writing Nowhere Men. They two have begun an on-going series with Image and it's beautiful. Although I have the distinct feeling that this story runs along the lines of "Xaviers School for Gifted Children", and so far doesn't appear to be completely unique. I could probably even read something Ellis wrote is it was illustrated by Gane.

The story starts right at the first depiction and speech bubble on the cover "That girl is going to jump". Well, she wants to jump but that's not exactly what happens. She wakes up in a hospital being torn busted out by a stranger who takes her to... well a special club for people with special abilities. They don't reveal much but show off a nice record collection.

So far, I can't say much for the story but I love the artwork. It's so very hip and indie. It's exactly what you'd expect. The colors done by Jordie Bellaire really makes the ink pop. There's a vintage feel hiding in those rusty colors. Even the blue feels rusty. The book certainly stands out against a lot of what's hot in comics right now. Lined up to bright pinks and purples of many indie comics and then the dramatically colored action comics of Marvel and DC. Although I'm not blown away by the story, I'm certainly in tune with this artwork. I'm excited to see more.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Graveyard Shift #1

Image is calling this a Fright Night style thriller" while also claiming is has Castle-like detective stories. I don't deny that this is an accurate description but that doesn't mean I'm entertained. I read the issue last night while laying in bed after wrapping several trades for some awesome kids I know.

As far as vampires stories go it's quite average. Although Jay manages to hold my attention with a flow of conversation between characters that feels quite natural, the plot is ultimately quite dull. Do you like your vampires with a side of hipster art gallery? No I don't either. My favorite vampire stories are still ones like Buffy. Something with some humor because lets face it, modern vampire stories are pretty cheesy. I'm still a fan of some of the early Anne Rice books books but ultimately when it comes to comics, the artwork needs to be just so to pull off that kind of story. In other words, Manara has to illustrate it or it comes out looking like the Bushido mess Image put out a couple weeks ago. Let's talk about artwork for a moment:

It's not exactly the actual pencil I have a distaste for in this book, but the coloring. I'm not a fan of this kind of edging/shading. So many much blurry tool.. I think we all know the kind of stuff I go for by now and this isn't it. I think they would have done well to find a colorist.

Image has released some amazing stuff in 2014. This for me, is a miss.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Royal Jelly: Top Picks for December 24th

Just because it's Christmas eve, doesn't mean the comic book world is going to hold the printing press. There are tons of amazing titles out on December 24th! So many in fact that it was really difficult for me to compile my personal list. I have already read a few of these titles so you should check back tomorrow for the advanced reviews!

Saviors #1
Nightbreed #8
Colder: Badseed #3
Bodies #6
Arkham Manor #3
Rasputin #3
They're Not Like Us #1

Lucifer TP Vol 5
Dark Engine Vol 1

Mentionables: She-Hulk #11, All New X-Men Annual, Logan's Legacy #7 (of 7), Black Science #11

In case you were wondering, Mentionables are items that I mention but am not necessarily going to purchase myself at the moment. Generally this is because I started late in the series and got into the trades (which I don't do often, and I have a HUGE problem with not having a complete set of singles in one series). Although I really wish I had started reading She-Hulk from day one, I sadly did not. It's taken me a long time to warm up to any Marvel comics again... besides Silver Surfer which took no thought at all and was a must.

Keep your eyes peeled for reviews tomorrow! That's all folks! Happy Holidays!

Exclusive Interview with Paolo Rivera on The Valiant

Smashing through the Valiant Universe with the promise to cause much crucial change for 2015, is a new four part mini series The Valiant. After reading issue one (now available) I wanted to talk to the artist Paolo Rivera. 
You will recognize his work if you are a Daredevil fan at all.  His work on Daredevil earned him two Eisner Awards in 2012. When looking over the titles he's covered in his career it's incredibly difficult for me to believe he's actually less than two years older than I am! In the last twelve years he has worked on titles that most artist only dream of. He was kind enough to chat about The Valiant and a little about what the future holds for him.

TFQ: The reception to the first issue of The Valiant has been outstanding. As first issues go it's been an absolute success. Can you tell me a little bit about how you got onto this project? 

Paolo: Warren Simons, E-i-C of Valiant, had been asking me to come aboard since they relaunched in 2012. This just seemed like the perfect project with great writers, a complete story, and no need to read a ton of other books to enjoy it.

TFQ: Your blog details a bit about your process. It showed some reference pictures you took of yourself standing in the pose of the figure on the cover. Is that something you do often? What other references or inspiration do you draw from?

Paolo: I take reference all the time. Just depends what I need and if I can draw it from memory. If I can't, I turn on the web cam. Otherwise, I just get everything I need online. Don't know what I'd do without Google image search.

TFQ: I have often wondered if there is a large difference between illustrating work for labels like Marvel and then illustrating something for a smaller label. Are there any drawbacks? Challenges? 

Paolo: I've heard Valiant referred to as "indie," and I guess they qualify on some level, but the process seems to be pretty much the same as Marvel and DC. I even have some of the same editors from Marvel. I wasn't as familiar with the characters, but a little research is always necessary.

TFQ: This is one of my favorite questions to ask: What is on your comic book bucket list? What stories are you dying to illustrate!?

Paolo: I've been lucky enough to draw some of my favorites already. But there are still many out there, including tons of 80s properties that I grew up with: TMNT, Ghostbusters, Transformers, ThunderCats. I'd love to draw the Tick. Hellboy. The list never really ends.

TFQ: In conjunction with that bucket list, who would you kill to work with?(okay not KILL but you know, maybe hack off a few limbs)

Paolo: Same deal as with the characters. I've worked with so many great people. Unfortunately, I've had several opportunities to work with my favorites, but I had to turn them down due to scheduling. That's probably the only frustrating thing about my career.

TFQ: Can you tell us about upcoming projects we can look forward to after The Valiant? Which btw, is too short a run for some of us!

Paolo: After The Valiant, the plan is to get back to work on my own book. I've been writing it on and off for a couple years now, so I'm getting pretty anxious to start drawing. I'm also hoping to do a short story with Ryan Browne for God Hates Astronauts. It's gonna be awesome.


Friday, December 19, 2014

The Kitchen #2

I guess it's my week for Vertigo items, along with Sandman Overture this week we got the second issue of The Kitchen. Let's get right into it shall we? I loved the shit out of the first issue. I raved about it actually. Told a lot of friends that they were mental to not pick up a copy. The second issue is just as good. I love these women!

There's something about women not taking shit that makes me feel better about myself. Too often people are quick to judge the opinionated, passionate female who can stand up against ridicule and misogynistic scrutiny. They call her a bitch. I get called a bitch. Happened yesterday, it happens a lot actually. Generally just online and no one comes to my defense when it happens. It's easily assumed that they are too fearful of receiving the abuse as well, like two of the ladies in the first issue. It's not often people stand up for a lady who's not scared to defend herself. Where I defend myself with words, the ladies of The Kitchen defend themselves with weapons and sometimes random objects laying around. Like ashtrays...

This book may end up being labeled as a pro-feminist book but does having strong, realistic female characters in a story really make it feminist writing? It's strange to me how one book can be labeled feminist while another is not. A book that is written by a woman and containing female characters doesn't automatically qualify as feminist literature. A lot of critics have made this mistake and in their haste to declare something "girl power of the year" they have neglected to notice that the story is completely devoid of feminist issues. (Ollie Masters, author of The Kitchen is a man but I'm referring to some recent activity about some other series this month) We shouldn't have to label books that contain positive female roles feminist simply because we don't see enough of them. That's almost offensive. When will it be the norm to have real female characters? Ones that don't serve merely as plot devices and things for the male characters to have sex with?

Due to the fact that this story takes place in a time when women were only just finding their place in the workforce and the world, this story is much more fitting of the title "feminist" literature than a lot of things receiving the title lately. That's not to say that some books receiving the title are not pro-woman but that they are mislabeled as feminist because they center around female characters. They contain no real content that addresses feminist ideology. It's a great time in comics. More and more women are creators! This is amazing! To be sure, they've been there all along, it's just that most people haven't acknowledged them until recently. Yet critics should realize that their work isn't automatically feminist in nature. So stop calling everything feminist when you clearly have no idea what a feminist even is! (still talking to the critics/journalists/bloggers) And if you were confused about what a feminist looks and sounds like, it looks and sounds like me. I'm a feminist.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sandman Overture #4 *SPOILERS*

This issue is suppose to see Morpheus facing his greatest foe! There's not real battle as you would image. There aren't swords or lasers, although disintegration people sort of happen.. It's a heated debate of the wits. Defending ones existences by debating the very thing; existence. It doesn't end well for the dream lord's travelling partner, the little girl Hope.  She gets wiped and deleted. This creature isn't simply hell bent on destroying Morpheus and his companions, he wants to wipe the universe. This is the first story ever where the identity of Morpheus' Father (and the father of the Endless) is revealed.

Sandman Overture is intended to be a 6 part mini series. It was also intended to be released bi-monthly but ended up being released on the schedule of  "whenever we got it ready people".

 Of course you probably know that it's on Vertigo (DC) as the title has been since it's creation. I'm shocked at just how few reviews I have found for this book actually. Entertainment Weekly tends to pick up the larger things in comics like anything Gaiman or Millar touches. Even EW didn't bother with it until the day before release. They got an interview with both Gaiman and Williams III (and added some typos, I know I'm a picky lady). There Gaiman admits that he's known who the father of the Endless was for 20 odd years. Which I imagine if he's anything like I am, is meticulous when creating stories even if all the characters are not included in the first go.

It's really very difficult for me to appreciate Morpheus drawn by anyone other than Sam Kieth. I'm a die hard that way. However Williams III's depiction is much more gaunt and true to that Morpheus character than the many more pop-culture-goth-inspired incarnations of the mid 90's. There's also the fact that Williams III's work is beautiful. Drop dead gorgeous. If the Sandman Overture was a person it'd be the guy or girl in high school that everyone wanted to take to the prom- exceptionally beautiful.

I'll leave you with Gainman's comment to EW which is in reference to the artwork for the final issue of Overture:

 "In the script I talked to him a lot about Escher and Steranko, about pop art, about ways of treating the comic as a physical object and about making something more beautiful than anything we had done before.

And then he took all that and went off and did something completely new, completely original, and utterly striking." -Neil Gaiman

That last bit is going to keep me guessing. Can't wait.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Q&A with John Arcudi & James Harren on Rumble!

 Today marks the release of Rumble #1. This new series is brought to you by Image comics and contains the most interesting story of 2014. That's really saying something considering 2014 is almost over and I've read MOST of it. ;) Rumble is exceptional in the field of action-packed, supernatural comics! Combining comedy seamlessly into the fold. 

The cover is what called to me before even reading the press release. Consequently, many of my friends who don't even read comics said they were going to pick up the book based solely on this amazing cover. Many of my friends who are comic book junkies said the same thing. I assured them they wouldn't be disappointed.

I was so happy about the birth of Rumble that I decided to go bother the creators. Both of which are very pleasant people who didn't seem to mind me bothering them! Always nice to not get told that you're annoying and unimportant. (For the record only one person has ever done that in the history of my of trying to cover releases). 

So without further blabbering from me, here's the questions I posed to writer John Arcudi and illustrator James Harren. 

TFQ: This story is so mysterious. I really do feel like the main character of the story who's shocked at the events taking place. I'm just as clueless as he is! How did you come up with this story?

John: Thanks, Amy. This was an idea that’d been kicking around in my head for years, actually. It’s gone through different iterations, but it really only came together (in the way you see it in print) when I started talking to James. As to where it all started, though – long ago I saw this odd drawing that just got me thinking. And thinking. Kinda like the little snowball on a hill, it ended up being something much bigger down the line.

TFQ: How did you come to work with James Harren on this book? I keep thinking it must have been Hellboy: Weird Tales?

John: I stumbled across James’s work years back online and contacted him about working on BPRD related material. We did an “Abe Sapien” series together, and then worked on the BPRD book. After that, it became apparent that to me he was right for a story about a scarecrow warrior god.

TFQ: You've written so much B.P.R.D, how does this story compare to the process of writing that?

John: I’m just trying to tell good stories. I don’t think much about process, really. If I don’t have a good story to tell, I don’t, and if I do, I try to figure out the best way to tell it. I know that’s not what you’re looking for, but what can I tell you? It’s so hard to tell a good story that really, that’s all I can worry about.

TFQ: What inspires you to write these sort of horrific stories and how do you manage to make them so comedic in the process?

John: I don’t know why I do this, honestly. Maybe all the “Frankenstein” movies I saw as a kid – but as to why I sometimes take a comedic approach to them, I sorta feel like I’m continuing a tradition there. I mean, it goes back, and back, and back. “Evil Dead,” old DC “House of Mystery” stories, and John Kendrick Bangs. I love all that stuff and I hope I can somehow produce work that measures up in small way.

Variant Cover by Jamie McKelvie
TFQ: Is the mysterious, sword-wielding creature on the cover really a Scarecrow?

John: Yes… and no. Don’t worry, if you keep reading the book, you’ll have your answer in two months.

TFQ: How far do you see this story going? How many story arcs do you have written so far?

John: I don't have a set number in mind, really. We have one large overarching story to tell, but I haven't sat down and worked out the number of smaller arcs that will translate to. We think it's better to leave that open to a kind of organic process. But we do hope to be around for a good while.

TFQ: James, what mediums did you use to create this book? What sort of process did you use to create the characters? What inspirations and sources did you draw from?

James: For media I used ink and paper. I'm partial to quill, sable brush and microns. As for the process in creating the characters; John had a pretty good idea what he wanted for these guy's personalities. I remember thinking about people in my life that came close or I felt represented them. Bobby's sort of that classic stalled out beta male that we've all come across so much. You'll see more of Del in the next issues and he was probably the easiest to design. Perhaps you'll see why. The scarecrow Rath went through a lot of incarnations. It was tough to strike a balance with him. I'm learning a lot about how to draw these characters as I produce the book. It's really organic. I don't always practice that animation technique where you have complete color character designs that are essentially dragged and dropped into the book. I like the process of growing and changing with them, letting the story change me and ultimately how I draw them. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Bushido TP

I thought a story about Samurai and vampires would be a winning combination but you know... I was wrong. Instead the whole story turned into another one of those "white guy in foreign land wants to be martial arts master..." UGH. He sure showed all those mean Japanese people. I feel kinda sick to my stomach when I read stuff like this. It reminds me of that awful Tom Cruise movie The Last Samurai... only with vampires. It really does feel like white English people appropriating another culture... like we do. Writer Rob Levin doesn't appear to be Japanese. Not that it's necessarily wrong to write stories like this, I just get this twisted feeling in my stomach. It's a thing Hollywood does. It generally sells, but I'm not a fan of it.

In case you were wondering Bushido is a Japanese word that translates literally to mean "way of the warrior". Akuma means "great demon", which they are using to describe the vampires. Originally released as a five part mini series from Top Cow, Images comics has now published this as a collected trade paper. I'm sure this appeals to someone. It really doesn't appeal to me. It was so predictable and the "evil" characters lacked logical responses. Everyone acted as a pawn to drive the story forward for the main character. They didn't feel like characters themselves. They felt like pawns.

I'm trying to understand why anyone would illustrate this script. So I did some digging. Studio Hive is credited with providing the artwork. Who is Studio Hive? It's a studio for hire which was founded by Skan Srisuwan. The studio works in more video games than comics from what I can tell doing some basic research. When you look at the artwork it's easy to make that assumption as well.

I really dislike saying bad things about comics. I hate that I hate this comic. Seriously, it makes me feel bad because I know how much hard work goes into producing them. BUT GOD DAMN I REALLY DON'T LIKE THIS BOOK. 140 pages and I was bored after a quarter of it. If you would like to read this book because you generally disagree with me and don't think there's any sort of cultural appropriation, then you can pick it up this Wednesday at your local comic shop. That's release day folks.

Royal Jelly: Top Picks for Dec 17th

Rumble #1
Manifest Destiny #12
Wytches #3
The Kitchen #2
Sandman Overture #4
Annihilator #4

Dream Logic  (David Mack)

Saga Vol #4

My pull list is a little small this week but everything on it is fantastic! I've been dying to read the next chapter in The Kitchen and it's been months since we've seen a Sandman issue! The sale date was apparently back in July!

From Image we have a fantastic new series called Rumble, the full details of which are just below this post. You can read my full review spoiler free! If by now you haven't picked up Manifest Destiny then you're probably absolutely boring and we shouldn't be friends...  just kidding! But in all seriousness, have you read Manifest Destiny yet? Issue 12 is out this week. It's the most adventurous, silly monster fun out there. I absolutely love it. Go grab the trade and catch up on the series will you! Wytches comes at us with issue #3 which has been slightly delayed, only by a week. I'll be grabbing that one.

Image Comics also releases two trades tomorrow. You can finally get your hands on Krampus! Just in time for Christmas. You can read my exclusive interview with writer Brian Joines RIGHT HERE!

As well for all you trade waiters, Saga Vol 4 is finally hitting the stands. I of course collect the trades and the singles because... "I'm crazy".  I sort of wish that had chosen a different cover for this trade. It wasn't my favorite issue cover.

You may have noticed that I've listed only one hard cover. It's a collection of new original stories from the Dream Logic series by David Mack. Some interesting images in that one for certain. If you are a fan Gaiman at all you'll probably recognize the artwork. There is also a lovely gallery in the book as well as "making of" bit on the Tarot Card set. In my opinion this would make a great xmas gift for the difficult to buy for graphic novel nerd.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Rumble #1

Image comics steadily publishes great comics. Is it any wonder that they have so many titles taking up the bulk of list entitle "Best of 2014"?! I've been checking out other bloggers and comic related news sites "Best of" lists for the New Year. I simply haven't put mine out yet (although constantly thinking and making notes) because I wanted to allow and consider any new comics that happen to appear in the remaining weeks. Rumble is an amazing comics that's illustrated in a way which appeals particularly to me personally. If I had put my Best of list out like everyone else, I wouldn't have got to consider this at all! I think it might be my new personal favorite. Written by John Arcudi who you probably know best from B.P.R.D and Hellboy: Weird Tales, this story is both comedic and strangely remarkably weird..

"Okay, so a scarecrow walks into a bar...and proceeds to wreak havoc across two worlds! After a long absence, Rathraq, Scarecrow Warrior God, is back—and very unhappy. Bad news for his old enemies, yes, but worse news for everybody else! JOHN ARCUDI and JAMES HARREN bring you a modern day action/adventure fantasy thriller where rundown dive bars, undead kitty cats, psycho skinheads, and giant mummies all play a part. It's Louis C.K. meets Robert E. Howard in a David Fincher universe." -
Taken from Image Comics Website

Are you intrigued yet? And to amplify matters, this new ongoing series is illustrated by the talented James Harren who you also probably will recognize due to his work on B.P.R.D. This is the kind of stuff my dreams are made out of. Seriously, I dream about comics all the time. It happens when you read stacks of them daily. I'm just absolutely thrilled that this is ongoing. I really have no idea what this story is going to end up like but I'm going to read all of it. Rumble #1 hits the stands this Wednesday, Dec 17th!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Valiant #1

I grabbed this yesterday of course due to the fact that it was written by Jeff Lemire. Long time fan raising her hand over in this corner. Although most people are more familiar with his work on Animal Man, I know him best from his own works: Sweet Tooth, Essex County, Trillium, The Nobody, Underwater Welder, etc. The list really is quite long. So it's only natural I grab this. Although unfortunately not illustrated by Lemire, Paolo Rivera is exceptional and is the perfect fit for the tone in book.

These floppies come out with a card stock front and back. Much sturdier than your average floppy. Can you call a floppy deluxe? I will. It's deluxe. I believe it's referred to as prestige actually, I'm calling it deluxe. Dare to be different. Please excuse my inner dialogue. I dunno why I let it run rampant all over my reviews.

So the story, that's what you are probably wondering about. It's about a battle that has gone on for centuries between a dark force and the Geomancers. Sadly the Geomancers don't protect themselves. It's up to a lone immortal warrior to ensure their safety. He also hasn't been that successful in the past and every time that the evil takes the life of another Geomancer, a dark age plagues humanity. Eventually the light returns and the cycle repeats itself. In a hyper-technological age, our warrior prepares once again to protect the new Geomancer from destruction. Oh and this time the Geomancer is a woman. So that's kind of interesting right?

As far as first issues go, this one is all set-up. That's not a bad thing. We even get a little insight into the character who is burdened with the role of Geomancer. This is something Lemire is always good at. Letting us know a bit about the inner workings of his characters. I can always trust that I'm going to receive good character background when reading one of his stories. It's like a sure thing for me. This series is intended to be limited to four issues. I wonder what surprises are in store. It can't just be a simple good wins over evil story here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Q&A with Brian Joines on Krampus!

KRAMPUS. The demonic looking holiday creature sent to punish wicked children during the Christmas season has his own comic book. Did you know that? Last year Image released a mini series about the horned beasts release from captivity (by a collection of Santas) for a very special mission - to retrieve the Santa's power source. Krampus' popularity as of late can be noted among shared facebook meme's from your metal band loving friends. He's also been talked much about to this authors nausea, by Kevin Smith. Who kinda killed the whole Krampus phenomena for me until I got to read this little gem written by Brian Joines. I got to talk to him about the trade paper release, which was sadly delayed in hitting the shelves due to some greedy shippers I'm told, picked the perfect time to strike- Christmas. (Joking about the whole greedy part, I suspect they have very good reason to strike, like the bag boys strike of 2001 in The Simpsons episode "whose ineptness and greed were the inspiration for the episode".)

Moving on, here's my conversation with Brian on the book and a little about what he's got in the works for the future!

TFQ: Why Krampus?!

Brian:Years ago, during a particularly aggravating holiday season, a friend of mine told me about the legend of the Krampus. The idea of a demonic creature that went around punishing naughty kids was too good to let go. I knew I wanted to do something with it someday, but it was a matter of finding the right idea.

TFQ: The whole story is such a humorous take on a grim character, how did you develop it? 

Brian: I grew up with a lot of strong comedy influences and, as a result, I’ve always been attracted to darker comedy and those who can mine a situation for humor where it might not otherwise exist. I was actually developing another story idea but it wasn’t coming together, then I remembered the Krampus legend in my back pocket and, once I married the two, it started to write itself. I filled in the spaces with folks from various holiday lore or the odd original character, but the spine of the story was already in place the second I realized my story idea was perfect for the Krampus.

TFQ: How did this book get of the ground and how did you come to work with the artists?

Brian: I pitched the idea of the story to Image in late 2012 and they liked it. Then Jay Faerber, with whom I’m co-writing the upcoming SECRET IDENTITIES, sent me a link to Dean Kotz’s DeviantArt page. What I saw there was perfect for the look I had in mind for the story…the ability to go dark but punctuate that with some lightness. I contacted Dean, explained the story, and he liked it. Then I contacted Ron Riley for colors and Charles Pritchett for letters, and it all just came together.

TFQ: What can you tell me about Secret Identities? (Out this February from Image Comics)

Brian: SECRET IDENTITIES is about a team of superheroes who admit a new member onto their team, not realizing he’s a mole working for an enemy of the team looking to learn their secrets and rip them apart. And the team has a LOT of secrets to expose.

TFQ: What's it like creating a holiday oriented comic book? What are some of the challenges you encountered?

Brian: It was a lot of fun because, given the nature of this story, I got to delve into a lot more holiday lore than just your basic “Santa/elves/reindeer” set-up and learn a lot about various characters/customs from other cultures. There is still a LOT of stuff I didn’t use that I would love to put into a sequel someday, if we wind up doing one…one holiday figure in particular is so ludicrous that I wish I’d thought to use him in this series, but I didn’t really stumble onto him until the perfect scene was already written and drawn. And that’s one of the challenges, for certain…having to pare down all of these legends and stories and figure out what to keep and what to cut to streamline the story. I will say that, given a chance, I could do another three or four Krampus series, easy, based on various things I learned and connections I started to form between various legends.

The other challenge, honestly, was doing a holiday-themed book that ran past the holiday. We started in December, then still had a Christmas-centric book going on well into April. I think people just got “over” Christmas once it passed and I think the book suffered a bit because of that. If we ever do another one, we’ll probably do it as a one-shot or leading into and out of the holiday, so we’re not four months out from December and still doing a book with Santa figures in it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Royal Jelly: Top Picks for Dec 10th

Batgirl #37  (Bengal Variant)
Bitch Planet #1
Copperhead #4
Deadpools Art of War #3
Empty Man #6
Eternal #1 (Boom Studios!)
Guardians of the Galaxy Annual (Frank Cho reg cover)
Thor #3
Sinergy #2 (Mike & Laura Allred 2nd cover)
Spiderman and The X-Men (Bengal Variant)
Shutter #7 (Frank Cho variant)
Valiant #1 (Of 4)(Jeff Lemire & Matt Kindt Interlocking Variant Cover),
Walking Dead #135

Enigma TP
Attack on Titan: Before the Fall Vol 3 

Ditko's Shorts

Well I pre-ordered my copy of Engima from Amazon. Generally I would buy this locally but Amazon
took ten bucks off the cover price and it's xmas time. I'm going broke and I didn't want to wait till after xmas to get this. Pretty much everyone who follows me MUST be aware by now that I have had a hard on for Peter Milligan's work for years now.

So let's look at my list of floppies. You may have noticed that I have a decent amount of variant covers on there. I would normally except for the fact that so many of my favorite artists are doing these this month. I have to grab them if I can. Not always easy. Local shops like to tuck these covers away and put them out for sale at inflated prices the following week. So sometimes I just don't get a copy. However, I requested specifically the Batgirl #37 Bengal variant because it's awesome. So fingers crossed that is sitting in my subscription box on Wednesday. He also did a variant for Spiderman and the X-men. New Marvel series featuring the work of East Coast local Nick Bradshaw on the covers. All covers look amazing so I am probably going to have to buy Nick's cover and the Bengal variant (if I can get my hands on it).

In case you missed it, my review of Bitch Planet #1 is up! Written by the amazing Kelly Sue DeConnik. You can read that RIGHT HERE BITCHES. This one comes from Image Comics and it's another amazing contribution to the comic book world. Exactly what we need to follow the success of Pretty Deadly. In other Image releases we have finally, the next chapter in Shutter with issue #7. There are five separate covers for this one, including the beautiful Frank Cho cover which I'm going to be grabbing.

The Empty Man ends this week with the release of #6. What will be the conclusion!? I actually have yet to read the ending! Where one mini series ends, another one begins, we got a new one from Boom Studios this week. A dystopean story of immortality gone awry called Eternal. This four part mini series will get you pondering the tangibility of human consciousness. Read my interview with the artist Giovanni Valetta RIGHT HERE.

So December is looking pretty insane for releases. Last week I picked up loads of stuff and it looks like I'll be grabbing double this week. You know, I get that Variant covers exist purely as a money grab but it's really hard not to pick up the ones by my favorite artists. I'm not a completionist by any means. I don't need EVERY cover in a series to be happy. There are artists however, who's work I'll pick up regardless of what it is. In that way, I suppose I can be seen as a completionists but my loyalties lie with particular creators rather than characters. I think that's pretty obvious considering I'm a huge Hellblazer fan who couldn't bear to read Constantine.

One last goodie, IDW is releasing a collection of Steve Ditko's shorts. The book is 112 pages, hardcover and essential for any Ditko fan. Good xmas idea actually. If only I had more people in my life who knew who Ditko was. These stories are taken from his rarities which existed among various publishers. Included is an introduction by comic book historian Fester Faceplant and Eisner Award Winner Craig Yoe. (Yoe having written quite extensively on Ditko and his work in the past). 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Q&A with Giovanni Valletta on Eternal #1

This Wednesday from Boom Studios, comes a new original mini series from artist Giovanni Valleta (Darkhorse Presents) and writer William Harms (Wolverine, InFamous). This new science fiction story speaks from voice not unlike Philip K. Dick, bringing us into the future where people kill themselves for sport. No I'm not talking about Survivor. In this story humans have perfected the art of cloning and can transfer human conciousness from one clone to another. With an unlimited life-span, death has become a media joke as teenagers engage in murder parties, knowing they have another clone's empty brain waiting for their intellect. I got to chat to artist Giovanni about this exciting new series. 

TFQ: How did you get involved with this project? 

Giovanni: Well boom had approached me a couple of times in the past so I had been talking to them before. It seemed like I had some fans over there at boom! Studios and Ian brill approached me with the project wen it was already laid out to be a 4 issue mini series.

TFQ: What sort of mediums did you use to create this book? 

Giovanni: I got in to digital penciling from a while back since I got a cintiq tablet, so I used to do digital pencils and print them out in blue lines and ink them traditionally. I love traditional inking and I like the idea of being able to sell originals. But I started using manga studio and my time was very limited in order to be able to turn in the pages, so I switched to doing everything digital and I think people wouldn't be too interested in getting originals from me right now anyways. So as long as I can keep pumping out pages and they look good in order for me to be able to get more work then it's all good to me.

TFQ: What did you draw on for inspiration? 

Giovanni: I think for this project in particular I thought a lot about Bladerunner. I really like the feel of that movie and the tech in that as well.

TFQ: Were you influenced by other science fiction books while working on Eternal? 

Giovanni: Sometimes I'll look at some Katsuhiro Otomo for inspiration but in all honesty, I see stuff every day from artists that I love and I just want to try to do the best I can with the pages that I do. Sometimes I justs have to get it done so whatever comes out comes out or I'll ask my fellow artists what they think or they give me cool ideas I can put in to the work.

TFQ: Are there any particular artists that inspire your work?

Giovanni: I'm a huge fan of IP Leon, Kevin Nolan, Ryan Sook, Stuart Immonen, Sean Murphy, David Mazzuchelli and the list goes on and on.

Giovanni was kind enough to send me some of his pre-colored pages from the issue. You can get your copy of Eternal #1 from your local comic book shop this Wednesday, December 10th. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Bitch Planet #1

"Girl Gangs...Caged and Enraged" is the tagline to Kelly Sue DeConnicks latest Image Series Bitch Planet. This highly anticipated series hits the stands this Wednesday and ladies like me couldn't be more excited. With a real Grindhouse type feel here, DeConnick takes us to a new world, literally. A woman's penitentiary on a new planet where the rules aren't exactly fair. I'm quite pleased with this art. It has a certain Mignola quality to it that has really forced a place into my heart after the first few pages. Valentine De Landro creates sympathetic faces and imposing holograms.

DeConnik has really brought out the big gun with this one. She's developed an awesome set of characters and played a little game of misdirection. As far as first issues go, this one is the kind that makes you immediately call your local shop and add the series to your subscription box. This is what I'm always talking about that so few people can actually deliver.

Everyone knows how I prefer to escape into a horror or science fiction book rather than dwindle in less fictional stories. Yet as a female it's hard to connect with many of the characters. Sure, there are plenty of female characters in horror and science fiction but many of them are written as plot devices, or are there to allow an artist the chance to draw some voluptuous siren for the male audience to wack off too. It's not too often that you get well defined female characters. It's certainly not that often that they are in the forefront so I'm really excited about Bitch Planet. I've already set my favor to a few characters.

Check out the variant cover from Wicked + Divine artist Jamie McKelvie.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Borgias by Jodorowsky & Manara

Conspired and conceived by industry giants Alejandro Jodorowsky and Milo Manara, The Borgias is now collected for the first time in a beautiful hard cover edition put out by Darkhorse. Italian film maker Jodorowsky is no stranger to graphic novels although you may know him best for his work with French artist Moebius on their prolific science fiction series The Incal.

Although Jodorowsky's work is often brought to the English speaking world by Humanoids, Manara's work is always released by Darkhorse in these tremendous collected editions. Although on a personal note, I have to state that I much prefer the book binding produced by Humanoids. They have printed hard covers rather than slip covers over blank books. However, in Manara's case the slip cover does come in handy if for instance, you are worried about displaying the titles of Manara's many erotic collections in your library, You can simply remove the slip cover and fool everyone with a wordless and image-less binding. I however proudly display my Manara collection despite what's on the cover or spine. One other upside to the Darkhorse binding is that the hardcover is deceptively light. It's easily held up in bed as you recline and read above your head. Something I'm quite fond of and a task not so easily repeated with the Humanoids books.

Enough about packaging, I want to talk about this beautiful edition. Darkhorse lovingly included a bio on each of the creators as well as a mini history lesson of the Borgias. For those who may not know, the Borgias were a family back in the 1400's who's patriarch rose to status of Pope by bribery. The story focus begins on Rodrigo Lanzol Borgia's ascension as Pope Alexander VI and on his family. The story tells of political corruption, incest, murder and more. Basically everything that makes history horrible and yet terribly interesting. It's no wonder that the historic tale has become so popular in film and on television. It's since been turned into a TV series running on it's fourth season. I haven't watched it.. I'd much rather read this book.

Due to content of course this book is not for children. You may also find yourself put off by some of the explicit sexual content. In case you were not aware, as aforementioned, Manara is most famous for his erotic graphic novels. So you know, try not to shrink up your nose and go on some tangent about degradation. Please remember as well that homosexuality was not exactly accepted in Rome, although of course, regularly practiced. You may feel pretty disgusted by some of the characters reactions. It's a story, not a hate crime people. I've noticed that many of our less educated social justice warriors have been rallying around the banning of books with homophobic acts and violence in them. To me, that's just as stupid as banning To Kill A Mocking Bird. I just don't think it's right. We need to see this stuff to realize how far we have come and just how far we have yet to go since much of this shit still happens today! Now that's an eye opener.

Anyway, this book is way up on my favorite list because a) brilliant retelling and b) beautiful all the way through. Manara is such an amazing artist and I've been a fan of all his work. This one entirely in full color where much of his erotica is in black ink. You won't be disappointed with this one. I promise you it's well worth the price tag.

Created and

 by Italian film maker Alejandro Jodorowsky and I

Friday, December 5, 2014

Hellboy and The B.P.R.D #1

It's about bloody time! That's kind of rude.. what I mean to say is... it's about bloody time! I haven't read a new Hellboy story in quite some time. This story takes us back to the beginning of Hellboy's life. It's about his very first mission in a Brazilian village.

The 8 part series is drawn by Alex Maleev (Daredevil) and colored by Dave Stewart. The duo's art if perfect in the Hellboy universe. John Arcudi and Mike Mignola are both credited with writing the mini series.

How do you feel about prequels? I personally really like them if they are written by the original author. However, I think we're going to have to dismiss Star Wars episode 1-3 in that analogy. Or we could disqualify them as prequels since they are supposed to be the beginning of the series.... let's just hope the continuation is better. #GeorgeLucasRuinedStarWars

Does this qualify as a prequel? Already critics have been describing it as such but Hellboy's early days have been detailed in the flashbacks and memories. This comes at us to celebrate Hellboy's 20th anniversary. Mike Mignola commented to (yeah I know I don't like them either), that it was perfect for the anniversary and I have to agree although you will hear more from the supporting characters than Hellboy in this opening issue. Regardless, if you're even a little bit of a Hellboy fan, you must be picking this up. It's available now. Thumbs up!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Wolf Moon #1

I really wonder about Vertigo lately. I am absolutely lost on how they make their choices publishing wise. Why did they choose this? Okay let me argue my point here since it's my blog and I can do, say whatever I like. Here's my opinion of this issue/story: Mediocre.

Before you jump down my throat let me remind you that mediocre is not bad. It's just not what I consider worth reading on a regular basis. When you follow as many titles as I do, you need to start drawing the line somewhere. Mediocre falls to the wayside.

When you are trying to attract the attention of avid comic book fans, you need to stand out. You need to offer us something that MAKES us NEED more. You see, this is a much harder task than the less comic-obsessed people of the world understand. It's not a one time commitment like purchasing a novel. It's a monthly commitment. Creators have to makes us want to either call up our local shop and immediately add it to the subscription box or at the very least make enough of an impression that we grab the next issue from the shelf when it arrives. That sounds easy in theory but it's not. In 2014 I have added only a eighth of the new series I have read to my monthly subscription (and that has to be an overstatement. I probably add much less in retrospect). I most likely read more new and original material than anyone not paid to read comics. I just eat that shit for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sometimes I make love to it. Okay well... not that last part. You get the idea.

Getting back to my point here, Wolf Moon DID NOT leave a lasting impression. I did not care about the main character and the fact that he left his plot-device-of-a-wife, at home while he went to go hunt werewolves. I was kinda hoping he was going to die. He didn't.. like I said, he turned out to be the main character. I'm a horror fan people. I love werewolves, heck I wish I was one. This ? This was boring. As far as esthetically pleasing, I really only liked the art of the last two pages. Something about seeing a dissected person flayed open on a mattress... OMG I'M JOKING!

What can I say, thank god it's just a mini series? Jae Lee is responsible for the awesome cover by the way. That's probably the best part.You know, it's too bad because I really liked Jeremy Haun's work on Darkness. I'm just not into it here. Cullen Bunn's work on Empty Man I had issues with but I still enjoy the overall story because it's dark and twisted. This doesn't feel dark and twisted. SIGH. It's not awful. It's just mediocre and I won't be grabbing issue two.

Humans #2

As promised at the end of the first issue, a lost member of The Humans finds his way back to them. But what did he bring back with him from the war in Vietnam? That's right I said Vietnam.

Firstly, I need to come right out and say that I love the coloring in this issue just as much as the first. Kristina Collantes has really made this book pop. The cover really caught my eyes again on the comic book shelf and with spread like this :

Who can complain? The blue and orange here? Fricken awesome. Of course I cannot spend my time talking up Collantes part here. Tom Neely has really impressed me (as usual) with the unique facial expressions developed for the apes in this one. As I've been told by many an artist, emotion can be difficult to convey when drawing animals, even anthropomorphic ones. Of course one could argue it's far easier to pull off with apes than say dogs...but I don't feel like arguing. There is a range of complex emotions drawn on the faces of the apes in this issue. Johnny's expression range from stoic to absolute rage. It's clear from his expressions that more came home with him from the war than we yet know. This is of course hinted on the last page in a closing message... and a big ass monkey porno picture. It kinda make me spit. I dunno it's just something about Monkey porn, it's just gets me giggling. I kinda wish it could be the cover. You will have to pick up the issue to check it out.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

POP #4

POP is over and I'm kind of sad. Issue four hit the stands on Wednesday and that the end. A fitting end for my rockstar looking hitman couple. They find the best ending in a blaze of glory. Sexy glory. Blazing sex glory! I would love to see a "where were they before POP" mini series which focused only on my favorite hitmen. Can that happen?! Oh please? It can only happen if Copland is the illustrator. Some sort of awesome prequel. Yes. Gimme that.

Despite the fact that any prequel is to be determined, one thing for certain is that this won't be the last we see of Copland. Currently he is busy working away on new projects for the future. A yet to be revealed one off for Marvel and pages for Kill All Monsters soon to be released from Darkhorse. Gone for now, but not for long.

If you haven't already, please check out my interview from September with Jason Copland. We talk about the series conception and what it's like being a Canadian graphic artist. Get it right here on TheFrogQueen.

As for where POP stands after everything is all said and done. It stands out in my memory as one of my favorite mini series of the year. Which is why I'm writing about it again. The shocking part for me, is that it's not an Image mini series because those things were taking over my condo. I'll leave you with one final piece of good news, POP is going to print as a trade in March! :D Lucky ducks.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Royal Jelly: Top Picks for Dec 3rd

Weapon X Program #3
Tooth & Claw #2
Dark Gods #2
Hellboy & B.P.R.D #1 (Mike Mignola Variant Cover)
Gotham Academy #3
Wolf Moon #1
Humans #2
Names #4
Low #5
Secret Six #1

Draw Beautiful Women the Frank Cho Method
Just the Tips

A couple things to mention: This will probably be the very last Gotham Academy issue I pick up. I am failing to be absorbed by the series due to it's intended audience. Tweens. I fail to be captivated thought I appreciate the series existence as I do think it's an excellent choice for young readers. Sorry to Beck Cloonan although it really is a fantastic series, it's not going to be in my giant reading pool. Must stop spreading myself so thinly.

Although where I stop with one series, I grab another. Gail Simon has a new series you've no doubt heard of called Secret Six. I dunno how she finds that time to do so much. Despite my fore and regularly mentioned hatred of most things 52, I will be grabbing this one and you should too. Great cover as a side note.

Image Comics continues to lead my heart on adventures with the fifth issue of Low. If you haven't been keeping up, now's your chance to run and grab it all before the first story arc ends. Remender's underwater post-apocalypse opera is going your heart pumping. I hope they turn this into a movie. Spare me the Waterworld remarks. By the way, I love Waterworld.

Also from Image this week is Tooth & Claw #2! After their explosive double first issue which sold out, I guess they thought we might want some more. I had an interview last month with artist Benjamin Dewey about this anthropomorphic animal adventure. Check that out RIGHT HERE BITCHES. It's also worth checking out the Image Firsts that are hitting the shelf leading up to Christmas. You can get your chance to check out the latest popular Image series from the beginning for a mere $1.

There's a new Hellboy series finally hitting the stand with a variant cover by the very man, Mike Mignola. This one is Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. It's one of five issue in the series. I'll be grabbing this for sure. I've been going through a small Hellboy withdrawal. 

That about wraps up my mentionables for the week. On a slightly different topic, Frank Cho is releasing a book on how to draw sexy women. You might want to take a look in that. I know I will. I like drawing sexy women and I like Frank Cho. Seems like a win, win.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Q&A with Federico Bertolucci on "Love:The Tiger"

Love:The Tiger is a beautiful wordless book depicting the life of a tiger. It is an all-ages book which carries itself as a documentary. Often compared to Disney, Italian illustrator Federico Bertolucci had actually worked for Disney studios in Milan in 1998. His expertise and professionalism made Love:The Tiger an award winning graphic novel. Thanks for Magnetic Press, Love:The Tiger will be available for the first time in North America as a Deluxe Hardcover this January 2015. I was so taken with this bubbleless book that I contacted Federico with a few questions. Here's our conversation translated from Italian.

TFQ: How did this project get off the ground? How did you come to work on this project?

Federico: I started to do this job by drawing comic strips for Disney; I've been sketching Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and other more contemporary characters for about 10 years. This has given me the necessary expertise to propose my projects to the print market in France, as well: there graphic novels are sold in book shops as collectibles. This project, Love, was created thanks to an idea by Frédéric Brémaud, the scriptwriter I've been collaborating with for about 10 years. We had already worked together on 4/5 books, when one night he saw me sketching an elephant on a piece of paper, and he realized that drawing animals came quite easily to me. From that very first moment I think he probably started searching for a way to use this skill of mine, so one day, drinking a Martini on the beach, he asked me to make a comic strip set in a jungle, with a tiger as the main character, and, of course, with no dialogs, as animals don't need them.

TFQ: In Europe, there are other books in this wildlife series Love (The Fox, The Lion). Are there any plans for those to be printed for the North American audience?

Federico: Yes, three books in the LOVE series have already been printed, and all of them will be published by Magnetic Press between 2015 and 2016.

TFQ: These books are without words making them easily enjoyable across the planet. How does illustrating a book without words differ from the average graphic novel?

Federico: Graphic novels usually have lots of dialog, readers love them because they can spend some time reading their pages. But in our case we ran the risk that readers might finish the entire book in five minutes and then put it back on its shelf in the book shop, without buying it.
That's why I chose a very detailed style, halfway between a pencil drawing and painting,
in other words, something not only quick to draw but also easy on the eyes.
Therefore, each cartoon is a real illustration; the lack of balloons has some advantages. For example it has enabled me to use cinema-like framing and this is, I believe, the reason why it turned out to be more similar to a storyboard than to a comic strip.

TFQ: How did you research and prepare for this book?

Federico: I used my memories, as I have always enjoyed televised nature documentaries, but of course I had to research the anatomical details of quite a few animals. I often used the Google images search, as well as an excellent scientific website, which offers a lot of nice pictures and videos.

TFQ: What are currently working on and can we hope to see it available in print within North America?

Federico: We're actually working on the fourth book, which is about dinosaurs. It's supposed to be published in France by Christmas 2015 and, hopefully, Magnetic Press will print it in North America, as well. At the same time, I'm working on another project, a series called “Little Stories”, where a comic strip and an illustration are blended together on each page, so that they tell both kids and adults the story of animals and their environments. In France two books have already been published, “The Forest” and “The Savannah”, as will be two more books at the beginning of 2015, “The Sea” and “The Jungle”. . I hope this series will soon be available in North America, too.