Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Royal Jelly: Top picks for October 1st

Cover of Lobo #1
This week appears to be pretty awesome for #1's. A couple new titles which includes the new Thor led by a female (OMG). There's a kick-ass Fiona Staples variant cover which I will be trying my best to pick up granted there are still copies when I get there. There's a new Lobo series! It promises to be blood soaked and shocking so I'm down. It's also an ongoing series which makes me happy.

Speaking of blood soaked there's new horror series in town from Top Cow. It will be delivered in four consecutive weeks through October. Cutter #1 comes out Wednesday and I'm liking the artwork delivered to you by Christian DiBari.

Of course from DC we have the new Gothic Academy which has been getting some decent press over the last week. I'll be lining up for the Becky Cloonan variant cover.

Gothic Academy #1(Becky Cloonan variant)
Death of Wolverine #3
Lobo #1
Names #2
Thor #1 (Fiona Staples variant)
Cutter #1
Fade Out #2
Nightworld #3
Silver Surfer #6

Then we've got some amazing returns. Names written by Peter Milligan (be hearts here) is shooting Fade Out 2 is getting most people excited but I'm a little sad there won't be a whole crazy series done in super magazine format.
out number 2 of the mini-series. That's a big title for me right now with Milligan writing the lead character who is also a bad-ass woman.

Retro pop art awesomeness returns in Nightworld #3! If you haven't checked out this series yet I suggest you order 1,2 and 3 right now because the last installment is next month with only 4 issues in the series.

Of course, I can't forget it's the new story arc of Silver Surfer starting with issue #6! You can read some secrets that Dan Slott told me right HERE.

That's about it for me! Don't forget issue 3 of Death of Wolverine!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Annihilator by Grant Morrison & Frazer Irving

I am really sad that this series is only going to be six issues long. I was really, really happy with this first issue. I've been a Morrison fan for a long while but really haven't read anything recent. I have never really gotten into Animal Man and everyone know how little Marvel and DC I venture into. Thinking back, I'm fairly certain that the last book I read from him was We3 which was outstanding of course. There are certainly no lack of amazing illustrators for Morrison to work with. I think he proves this again with Annihilator and Frazer Irving's work. I haven't ever been a devoted fan of Mr. Irving but was very happy with his work in this book.

Annihilator is about a once great writer who's life has taken a sad turn. He participates in paid orgies, does a lot of drugs, throws money around although he's going broke when really he should be working. He starts to create a new sci fi adventure and that is where things get chaotic. What does man have to say to his creator? I'm not yet certain that's the direction of this story but it's giving me some interesting thoughts.

I was trying to figure out why this Legendary? Compared to other comic book labels, Legendary is only 15 years old having been founded in 2000. Legendary does have a rather interesting history, although short. They have been co-financed by Warner Brothers for films. They have produced 32 in fact and are currently working on another 11 making this whole comic business look like an un-serious side project. It's simply a subsidiary. At any rate, I'm glad they have taste in comics to have printed this gem.

I should probably warn you that this comic is absolutely not for children. Like I mentioned before, drugs, orgies and yes there's some violence in there too. Don't let your kid pick this up even if the cover attracts their attention.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Prophet Strikefile 1

I have never properly gauged the popularity of Image series Prophet. I've been reading it for about two years now. (Let me check my memory hmm... yeah that sounds about right). I actually don't have any friends who read the series although people always comment on the covers and treat the title with some respect in conversations. However I'm mostly certainly alone when discussing the plot with anyone. I really appreciate that they finally did Strikefile. I needed some background and explanation on how the Earth Empire progressed to the present story. Graham and Roy gave me the insight required finally explaining how the Jon clones became and are varied.

This one shot is contributed by many different people but as usually is mainly written by Brandon Graham and Simon Roy who so flawless work together. I find it nearly impossible to separate their writing in the series. I was trying to figure out if this was a one-shot or a new series. It does appear to be a one-shot although no one is calling it that and then I saw that Image has plans to release Strikefile 2. It will continue the who's-who of this strange universe October 22nd.

Saga #23 - Domestic abuse eh?

And now I have to wait a whole other month. It's the only thing that makes me sad about Saga. I just hate the wait. This was an excellent issue. I had a hard time understanding the violence in the last issue. Domestic violence issues always speak loads to me and Vaughan began writing this plot point, like he often does, in areas that some would describe as gray. However I tend to agree more with our winged heroine in that a no tolerance policy is significantly better than making excuses and dismissing bad behavior. It's sometimes means the difference between getting out or getting into the most devastating position.

 It did bother me that Alana's nanny is quick to point out that it was merely Marco throwing vegetables at her, and that she was the one on drugs. In real life such excuses are made when women are injured by their partners. The tables are turned and women are made to feel as if they deserved whatever violence.Although it turns my belly, Vaughan wrote this so accurately that I have to applaud him even though I fear many people who simply side with the nanny and miss the larger conversation.

I feel that this was the main climax in the overall Saga story. This issue has brought many things to motion and thrown our characters into some real danger. I can't wait to see where it goes. I keep worrying about the purple bat girl and wondering how Alana is going to get off drugs. The best though, I'll keep to myself for now.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Butterfly #1

Written by Arash Amel, Marguerite Bennett,
Art by Antonio Fuso

Out of all my new releases from this week, I read this one first. It wasn't on my list of things to grab but after flipping through it I decided I really liked the artwork.Although CBR says that this 4 part mini series is produced by Boom Studios, it's actually published by Archaia which was acquired by Boom in Spring 2013. However, Archaia is still present on the cover and so I think it's important to make this distinction. They are different teams of people and the good people of Archaia deserve their recognition.

 Any who, Butterfly is beautifully written. It begins with an ominous atmosphere caused by this very minimalist approach to the script and narration. The deeper you get into the floppy, the more intricate the story becomes. I was drawn to the book because of the art initially however there is one thing that erks me. When you get about half way through the issue there is this strange re-occurring image that appears in the panels. It took me a while to figure out what it was. OMG it's just breath. Literally that was the artists interpretation of breath on cold air. That kinda pissed me off honestly. It bugged me that I had to even think about it. So although I was loving the artwork, this kinda felt annoying to me. It's in more than just these panels but I just took a couple shots.

I am very excited to see the next issue. Despite the whole breath problem which is probably just more my grudge than an actual problem, the story is quite lovely. I've never been a fan of special agent stories or assassins but this is intriguing to me.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Q&A with Nevs Coleman about Graphic Novels for Banned Books Week

So this week is Banned Books Week. This year the theme is Graphic Novels and Comics. I wanted to write an article but instead I decided to bring you someone with far more experience who could be more entertaining than one of my ranty-rants. 

We wanted to bring you a video with all this awesome information but sadly my computer decided to be a complete asshole and I couldn't get the recording to cooperate. Will work on that in the future. So I bring you my friend all the way from London, UK, Nevs Coleman text style.

Q: Nevs, can you start by giving us a little background about you and your experience in the comic book industry?

Nevs: Hello. I started out in comics by annoying the boys at the lovely 30th Century Comics in South London, England for a fair whack of my teenage years by hanging about for days at a time, they recommended me as a steward for the late, lamented UKCAC (A British comic convention that ran from the 80's to the 80's). Not long after that I started work at the...infamous Comic Showcase and I've been around the London Comics Scene in various roles ever since, whether behind the till at Gosh!, Orbital, and most recently 30th Century Comics or writing for Fantasy Advertiser, Comics Forum or Tripwire. 
Also, I have a fine collection of T-Shirts.
Q: Can you give us a little insight into the history of banned graphic novels and comics? Tell us a little about the Comics Code Authority?

Nevs: This is a subject that needs far more expansion than a short interview will allow, but in brief: the first thought of a need for some kind of governing body in comics to look at the material been sold on the racks came after Frederic Wertham's 1948 book 'Seduction Of The Innocent', which was written after Wertham interviewed a number of juvenile delinquents who suggested to him that they'd been led astray to a life of crime by 'Headlight Comics, violent gangster stories and such. After some study, Wertham came to some, er, odd conclusions about the subtext of a number of American comics. Not least of which was his assertion that Batman and Robin were indulging in a gay relationship. He did correctly work out, long before the general public cottoned on to the fact that Wonder Woman was essentially a Vanilla Bondage comic, though. It's fair to say at this point, that a lot of the portrayal of comics Wertham suggested was at the very least misleading and designed to heighten fear in a populace looking for any scapegoat. Nothing changes, does it Amy?
As reasonably as American crowds usually are when reacting to scaremongering, the book and subsequent campaign lead to scenes of book burning across the States until the whole thing was brought to Congress, where a number of comics professionals testified as to whether they thought their publications were harmful to children. Despite a nervous testimony from legendary E.C. Comics publisher Bill Gaines...and this is key here....Congress rejected the notion that Comics were a harmful influence on children. 
I think this is worth repeating, because the comics community has a tendency to shout 'Waahh! It's Wertham all over again! Waaah! whenever the notion of content control comes up and use him as a shorthand for a Boogeyman who wants to take away everyone's comics. 
So, again, Wertham wasn't behind the creation of the Comics Code Authority. The Senate suggested that in order to appease the public's desire for something to be done, some form of governing body be formed to control the content of comics sold on the newsstands. What has to be borne in mind is that Bill Gaines's EC books were outperforming everything else on the stands by a wide margin, and when the 1st draft containing the parameters of the Comics Code was drawn up, that document was essential a hit list to stop Bill being able to publish the books that'd kept him on the top of the pile for years. By demanding that words like 'Crime' and 'Horror' couldn't be used in titles of comics, that was two of his biggest sellers gone in the stroke of a pen. , Comics that didn't conform to the strict guidelines of the CCA weren't sold on the newsstands, which in the 1950's were the only option. This is at least twenty years before the first specialized comic shop, I think.
In case you're wondering, the bodies who made up The Comic Code Authority? Other publishers, including Archie Comics. If you want to suggest that these publishers conspired to use the CCA's power to defang Gaines's ability to sell comics for their own selfish gains, you're clearly some kind of conspiracy nut who believes in Area 51, Black Helicopters and wears tinfoil around his forehead to block the transmissions from The C.I.A. Clearly.
The long and the short of the rest of the story is as the audience for comics grew older and desire for more adult material than The Code would allow came about, it became increasingly irrelevant (especially in light of The Direct Market supplying straight to comic shops, which wasn't regulated by CCA rulings.) and of all people, Stan Lee wrote the 1st non Code issue of Amazing Spider-Man (96, dealing with Harry Osborn's LSD usage. .) After that, it was a matter of time. Frank Miller's Keynote speech at the Diamond Comic Retailers meeting in 1994 is the best summation of the whole torrid business I've seen and in 2011, DC and Archie, the last companies bothering to submit their output for CCA approval stopped caring, rendering it defunct.
Q: What is your favorite banned comic/graphic novel? How did you feel when it was banned?

Nevs: It's a toss up between either:

Brendan McCarthy & Peter Milligan's 'Skin', which is both a calamity and fuck up of such hilarious proportions (At least in terns of how I managed to finally get a copy of the Tundra printing, and I still think Kevin Eastman owes me a fiver considering how bad the binding was on that book.) that I can't go into it here. Apparently Robert Maxwell didn't see the heroic potential in a Thalidomide Skinhead the same way we did  I honestly don't know if it's legally okay to go into the details of why it was censored by The Mirror Group today, so I;ll skip that. It was reprinted in last year's 'The Best Of Milligan & McCarthy from Dark Horse, for those curious.


Alan Moore and Bill Sienkiewicz 's Brought to Light: Thirty Years of Drug Smuggling, Arms Deals, and Covert Action. It's a comic by Alan Moore about the C.I.A's involvement in The Vietnam War, the Iran-Contra affair and it's dealings with Pinochet. It's going to be a bit of a shock to those who aren't very historically minded where America is concerned.  It was printed once by Eclipse Comics. I have wondered if Todd McFarlane owns the rights to it as he bought Eclipse a few years back. Could be wrong. 
Q: Does the fact that a comic book or graphic novel is banned increase its value among collectors? Does it increase it's weight and notoriety in the literary world?

Nevs: Er, Yes, but not really. It isn't so much that the work is desirable in the same way everyone wanted to read 'Howl' or see Lenny Bruce but that a comic being unavailable due to the print run being pulped makes it incredibly scarce. The best example of this being the infamous 'Elseworlds 80 Page Giant' affair from a few years back. I'd like to think everyone going after that book just really wanted to read Kyle Baker's 'SuperBaby in a microwave' story, but sadly, I don't think that was the case. You can get a few quid for the issue of Infinite Crisis where Connor Kent nearly calls SuperBoy-Prime a motherfucker, though.

(Elseworlds 80 PG Giant was reprinted in the Bizarro Comics anthology and then as part of the DC 100 Page Spectacular series, if anyone's interested.) 
Q: How do you feel about censorship in general?

Nevs: Well Amy, you're asking me this on the day Milo Manara's variant covers for Axis have been cancelled. So I might be a bit more venomous than usual on the subject but still, I think it's a terrible, entitled notion that literally makes no sense to me. This is no such thing as an inherently offensive concept. None. It doesn't exist. There is only the perception that an idea is offensive. We aren't Alex in A Clockwork Orange, strapped down, eyes pulled open and forced to take in any number of obscene and disturbing images and sounds constantly. We don't have to take in any of it. We are always free to change the channel, to put down the book, to close the website. Anything beyond that is when we start saying 'I know better than you what you ought to be consuming.' and I reject that notion entirely. There's never been a time when history had been proven to be on the side of the censors, and 9 times out of 10, it's usually a work that says the Disney Lifestyle Status Quo is utter bullshit and that he prefab behavior patterns are nothing to do with reality.

Be it Ice-T's 'Cop Killer', Allen Ginsberg's 'Howl', The Sex Pistols's 'Never Mind The Bollocks' Grant Morrison's De Sade story in The Invisibles or such, all of these things are generally borne out to be right and accurate portrayals of the world. Every time, the would be saviors of our fragile little minds are proven to be wrong and acting in an interest less to do with morality and more inclined by money. What scares me today is that we're seeing a generation that seems incapable of understanding that not everything has to be approved by them. I'm still not sure why Ian Gibson was in the wrong for producing a topless print of Halo Jones, since it's more his character than anyone else's at this point or why Milo Manara needs to resubmit his work to a committee that seems far more vicious and censorious than anything Mary Whitehouse or Tipper Gore could have come up with on their best day.

More worryingly, they seem to be winning. The decision of Marvel to not employ Manara for these covers can probably be down to this constant thought process of 'But I don't approve of this. How dare you publish it?' I'm wondering how Johnny Cash or Nick Cave would have fared if they were new artists producing their same songs today. 

In short, no, I don't like censorship in any of it's forms. People can make decisions about what media gets consumed in their own homes all they like. I don't want them to make those decisions for me. I don't have the sheer....audacity to say to the rest of the world 'No, you cannot watch this thing. It fails my standards.', which is what I think Censorship is, in the end.

Q: Just for fun: Is there ANY graphic novel you think should be banned,for your own selfish reasons or otherwise?

Nevs: Scott Pilgrim. Fuck that cocksucker..

You can hear more from Nevs on his blog:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Royal Jelly: Top Picks for Sept 24th

There is sooo much I want this week. It's absolutely crazy so I had to really narrow down my list.

Nightbreed 5
Empty Man 4
Aliens Fire & STone
Pop 2
Bodies 3
Low 3
Saga 23
Roche Limit 1

Revival vol 4

Before the Incal
The Incal

Firstly, I feel it's important to mention that there will be a second printing release of Fade Out variant cover. Anyone who was flipping out for not getting a copy can rest assure they can get a second printing.

Next I gotta tell you how excited I am to get my hands on some Moebius. Humanoids releases another printing of The Incal & Before the Incal! No graphic novel collection is complete without this. This story is considered the essential science fiction graphic novel written by Jodorowsky and illustrated by Moebius. These two legends combined their imaginations to create a stellar world.

This week is very much an Image and Boom Studios release week for me. The only other singles standing out this week for me are from Darkhorse. They're releasing a new Aliens series Fire and Stone as well as Jason Copland's Pop #2. I had the pleasure of interviewing Jason last week. Check out what he has to say about being Canadian and the release of Pop HERE.

Also from Humanoids comes Bramble! I reviewed this steampunk inspired masterpiece two weeks ago and it's finally coming out in a beautiful hard cover edition! Check out my review HERE.

The long awaited fourth trade paper back of Revival hits the shelves! That means I can get caught up on the series. I got left behind in this one. I started in too late and then went the route of trades because I can't stand not having #1 of a series of floppies.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Eye of Newt issues 3 & 4 (and some talk about Banned Books Week)

I don't often like heavily narrated comics. There are only a handful of authors who can lead me that way. First authors that spring to mind being Neil Gaiman, Peter Milligan and Frank Miller (there are dozens more but lets keep a short list shall we?) In comics, we often think of speech and thought bubbles but narration happens almost as often. Eye of Newt is about 80% third person omnipotent narration. There is very little script otherwise. This kind of descriptive narration is so often seen in children's fantasy books which this author has been accustom to illustrating. Keeping that in mind, it is easier to appreciate this type of story telling in a graphic novel.

My only difficulty with this story is the heavy narration, but the artwork makes it all worthwhile. With over forty years of experience in illustration his first graphic novel is a masterpiece. This is a four part mini series from Darkhorse and it's loosely of based on Arthurian legend.

I regret my earlier assertion that this graphic novel was suitable for children but only because today's parents are so over protective. Everything is apparently disgraceful. Here it is, in issue 3 there is a nude scene. It's really not sexual in nature although the word virgin is used. It's really not sexual but I just know some immunization-fearing breeders will absolutely freak out that their child may have laid eyes on a drawing of a nude person. I however find the charm in it because of how non-sexualized the panel is. This part of the story references ancient myths and one that most people will recognize. So don't get your book burning torch just yet because you should actually read the story.

The reason I'm focusing on this so much is due to the upcoming banned books week (Sept 21-27). I love controversy as much as the next very boring person but I despise the banning of books. Graphic novels being no stranger to the pointing fingers and accusations of over protective parents.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Exclusive Interview with Tony Sandoval on his new book DoomBoy

I was really lucky to get an advanced copy of Doomboy from Magnetic Press. Tony lives in Germany which is not at all close to me. So I count myself lucky he was able to take the time to talk to me. Although Magnetic Press has not listed an official date for the release of Doomboy on their site, I'm told it is set for the end of September/early October. 

This fascinating journey about a lonely boy who begins to broadcast songs to his deceased girlfriend. It's difficult to describe which genre this falls under. The story is full of symbolism and magic. You truly have to read it to understand that Doomboy is in a genre of it's own. Written and illustrated by Tony Sandoval, the work has been translated into English from it's original form. Below is my interview with Tony who's first language is not English but I didn't want to adjust the sentence structure for fear of losing his original sentiments. 

Doomboy will be released in a landscape hardcover format. I know it will be on my bookshelf so make sure it's on yours.

Q: I didn't quite know what I was getting into when I first began reading Doomboy. I wasn't sure if it was going to be all fantasy. I don't even know what genre to assign the book. I just know I loved it. How would you classify this story?

Tony: It's just a kind of book I will like to read. Strange story maybe, I can't say is fantasy but it has some elements of that. It's just a little weird story if we can call it like that.

Q: I've been a doom metal fan for years, so when I saw the facebook posts by Magnetic Press I knew I had to read it. Why doom metal? 

Tony: ahh doom! Well I am fan of doom as well. Me and a friend used to make fun of fan of doom, because we thought there were not many. So a doom fan will be mostly lonelly person, so I start making little drawings of doomboy. It just happend.
Q: And can you tell me your favorite doom metal bands?

Tony: It depends of the period, but I like mournful congregation, my dying bride, forest of shadows. Well I don't know if some of those are really doom. Like swallow the sun or mar de grises for mentions some.

Q: Character D has lost his girlfriend to a possible illness. Can you expand on this? What was she sick with? Can you tell me about why you chose this sad path for D?

Tony: I though about of course, but I decide to let it unknow for readers. It fit better with the story  I think.

D is a strong guy. I think this hard time for him was to go ahead and learn. I like the mystery in him. That is why I don't say what happens to him after. If he keeps doing music or not, it was just a piece of his life to us to see.

Q: I can't figure out if D's music is creating magic or if it is all symbolism. Could you explain D's music and where it comes from?

Tony: I like to think magic is just a interpretation of nature, but of course there are different kind of interpretations, like feelings through music. In this case D believed he can do it and did. The rest was a consequences of it and interpretation of the others. I like this kind of things.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Exclusive Interview with Dan Slott & the Future of the Silver Surfer

Q: The end of the last story arc for Silver Surfer has left our heroes with endless possibilities for future adventures. Can you give us any hints on just where they are going to go?

Slott: Space! Seriously though... We're going to corners of the Marvel Universe that no one's ever seen before. Anything can happen! You're going to see a planet of "perfect" people, there's going to be robot slavers, an alien orphanage, characters from long ago making their first appearance in official continuity... And that's just in the next 3 issues!

The first three issues acted as our "pilot". The next two issues were an adventure on Earth that showed us why Dawn should go off and travel with Norrin. And now that they're out there-- now that they're off in space-- this is when the series really kicks in! We're going to live up to the promise of our tagline: "Anywhere and Everywhere! Hang On!"

Q: We got to see some of the Defenders and The Guardians of the Galaxy so far in this series. Who else might make an appearance?
Slott: There might be some cosmic characters showing up. Along with Doctor Strange, Hulk, and the Guardians, we've also seen important cosmic entities, like Eternity! And we've met all-new ones, like The Never Queen. There was a hooded character in our first 3 issues, just the fact that we had to hide him probably means he's someone Marvel fans might already know.

And, of course, you can't do a SILVER SURFER series without having a major Galactus story! I honestly think our Galactus story is one for the ages. It is epic! This one's going to be high space opera in the Mighty Marvel Manner! If I get to write one Galactus story in my career, this is going to be it! And the way Mike Allred renders Galactus blows me away! Wait till you see the covers!

Q: Dawn Greenwood is my favorite new Marvel character that completely lacks superhero powers which is pretty new for the Silver Surfer. What made you want a sort of powerless travel companion for the Surfer?

Slott: I'm not going to dodge or duck this. I am a HUGE Doctor Who fan. I've been watching the show since I was 11. And I got deeper in when my family moved to London when I was 13. This iteration of the SURFER came about when Marvel's Tom Brevoort asked me what I would do with the character. We had just been to a corporate retreat earlier that week where a number of people had pitched for a SURFER book, but nothing stuck. My schedule with Spider-Man is pretty tight, Tom knows that, so I thought we were just goofing around. I honestly was not pitching for the book.

So he asked, and I told him, "I'd do a soft reboot, like the way Russell T. Davies did with the new Doctor Who. I'd give him a human companion, an eye-level character for the reader. And by having someone like that around, it would make a stiff/alien character like the Surfer far more human and relatable. The book wouldn't just be about exploring space, it'd be about Norrin Radd exploring his own humanity."

After I said that, Tom laughed and mentioned that he said pretty much the same things to Mark Waid at the retreat. And then Tom and I just kept bouncing ideas of each other about this Surfer book-- that I wasn't going to write and that he wasn't going to edit. This went on for hours. And at one point he said, "Write it up. I WANT to edit this!" And it was out of that same original bull session that Dawn Greenwood was fleshed out.

And the moment Mike Allred turned in his first sketches of her... she was suddenly real. And the fun of it has been making her a good foil, friend, and match for Norrin Radd. I just love that one of the first things she ever says to him-- after mistaking him for a fellow alien abductee-- is "Don't worry. I'm Dawn Greenwood and I'm going to save you!"

She started out as a "Doctor Who Companion", but she's evolved into an "Allred Girl", someone we constantly refer to as a "Miyazaki Heroine" (very much in the vein of Kiki, Fio, or Sophie*), and I see a lot of my twin sisters in her too.


Q: In terms of accessibility, the Silver Surfer is in my opinion, the most easy Marvel series to jump into right now. How do you make a story so friendly for new readers while being this exciting and entertaining?

Slott: One of the things we've been hearing a lot is that it's a book that parents and their kids like reading together. Also that it's a book that readers can give to their non-comic-reading significant others to break them in. And we get that across gender and sexual orientation. Which is FANTASTIC! I couldn't be happier with that. The honest answer to this-- because I don't think it's been by design-- is that Tom, Mike & Laura Allred, and I are just putting out a book that WE want to read-- and this is very much our gestalt/hive-mind sensibility. Tom's wife busts my chops when I'm running late the most, because it's her favorite book to read, and she wants the next issue!

Q: How does the Silver Surfer differ from you're other current and past projects? What makes it special?

Slott: Honestly? It's something I write for the FUN of it. I'm a giggling idiot when I'm typing up a SURFER plot. I'm an applauding fool whenever a new page from Mike shows up in my email. It's my dessert. It's the best part of my day. It's the first comic I've written in a long time where I don't read what other people are saying about it on comic book message boards. I'm not letting one negative vibe reach me on this one. And I think that bleeds through into the work. This is a comic that isn't afraid to be joyous-- to be spirited-- to take you by the hand and say, "Let's go on an adventure!" It's Mike and my take on Norrin Radd. And, end of the day, it's one of the things I've been most proud to work on.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Northern Highlights: Q&A with artist Jason Copland

Taken From the Pages of Pop #1

Q: How long has Pop been in the works? How do you feel about the reception? 
Jason: Curt and I started talking about working together at ECCC 2013 and then shortly after that Curt sent me his pitch for POP. I loved what I read and told him I was in. The pages for the pitch were done in the summer of '13 and they were sent out with high hopes in the fall. Dark Horse picked up POP in late fall. I didn't start working on issue until Spring, once my gigs at Marvel and BOOM! were complete. So far Curt and I have been thrilled with POP's reception. Readers and retailers have shown a lot of enthusiasm for the book., which is very gratifying.

Is there any possible continuation of this story or is it complete as a mini-series?

Jason: It's a complete mini-series. Yeah, it's over at #4. But, Curt and I are brewing up a new book that will be a little longer in issue number and as equally ambitious as POP, so I'm excited to get that going.

Q: Can you tell us about what future projects you are working on? Can we expect to see anything in print soon? What's next for you?

Jason: I have a few new things in the works but nothing I can talk about just yet. Something for Marvel and then something for Dark Horse. 2015 is going to be an awesome year for me.

Q: What is your opinion on breaking into the comic world as a Canadian? Are there any hurdles to overcome that might not be similar in other countries?

Jason: With the internet, there are no real boundaries. Everything is done electronically, in terms of sending scripts/image files/etc. As long as you can get online, there really aren't any extra hurdles to overcome. Although, going to conventions can be more expensive due to travel costs and money exchange rates.

Q: If you could work with anyone in the comic book industry, who would you KILL to work with?

Jason: Joe Casey and John Arcudi are two writers that I would love a chance to work with. And I've had the chance to work with Mark Waid, but I'd love to get another chance at that, as well.

 For more information about Jason Copland and his work, please visit http://jasoncopland.com/ 


Royal Jelly: Queen's top picks for Sept 17th

This is another exciting week for me. Lots of my current favs come out today. Current favorites being Manifest Destiny and Shutter. In addition to that, the second issue of Dark Horse Presents 2014 is out this week. This issue will be released in a new 48 paged format featuring art from Steve Parkhouse, Andy Kuhn, Aaron Conley, Ryan Dunlavey, Paul Lee and stories from Peter Hogan, Brendan McCarthy, Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Damon Gentry, Fred Van Lente, Chris Roberson. The series is also being released at a new price $4.99. So here's my list:

Dark Horse Presents 2014 #2
Eye of Newt #4
Hulk Annual 2014
Manifest Destiny #10
Shutter #6

Sugar Skull by Charles Burns
2000 AD PACK AUG 2014

Most critics praise Charles Burns until they're blue in the face. This hasn't been my own attitude towards his work. Having read a good chunk of what he's put down, there have only been a few stories that appealed to me. Sometimes I found his writing so hostile towards women that it got to me.  This however contains the ending to books X'ed Out and The Hive. It's worth noting that this volume is in full color unlike his most famous work Black Hole.

It's worth mentioning that the Attack on Titan franchise has pushed out another collectors book to suck up your funds. This one is called the Guidebook Inside & Outside. I won't be grabbing that but it may interest many of the Titan fans.

Shutter #6 comes out this week! That means we'll be seeing a trade pretty soon here as this ends the first story arc of the series. I had the opportunity to speak with Leila Del Duca after the first couple issues were released. You can check out that interview HERE.

I also wanted to mention the Hulk Annual #1 hits the shelves. The cover is especially amazing. We're being told that a very close friend of the Hulk dies.. any guesses!? ;)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

MPH #3

Finally some more MPH. There have some hold ups coming from Millar's work and I was really itching to get this issue. Image says that we will have the final two issues November and December but I'm not so sure if that's a promise they'll be able to keep. The variant cover art for this issue was done by one favorite artists, Paul Pope. I was happy to find THIS one in my sub box because if not, I'd have to be all like "BUT I NEED THE POPE VARIANT!! I NEED IT!" and such displays can be embarrassing to me and the company I keep.

In this issue, Roscoe and his group start robbing banks. They also do a Robin Hood impression and start dumping ten percent of their earnings on the people of Detroit. No one has gotten caught and it appears they are living the high life, literally making a get away on raindrops at one point.

I'm still not a huge fan of the artwork in this series. It's not horrible! I'm not saying that at all but it's not my style. Now if Pope was creating all the artwork.. well, then I'd have some hefty things to say. I think I'm going to go re-read Escapo

Friday, September 12, 2014

Batman Future's End #1 *SPOILERS*


I wanted this to be awesome. I flipped through the issue in the store and thought, this artwork is pretty great. This could actually be okay. Then I got home and started reading it.

This story is set five years in the future. Apparently five years was enough to make Batman a pile of rotting flesh and bone. Wasn't he virtually fine in present day Batman? They're implying he's falling apart from battle or is he diseased?? It's really unclear.  I can't claim to know that much about the New 52 because I haven't read ALL of it. I read pieces and wasn't impressed so I moved on. That's what one does, but every now and then I try to grab a new Batman story. Sometimes I'm happy and sometimes... well sometimes you get this.

The largest problem with futuristic Batman stories that are not set in the very distant future, is that I compare it all to Pope's Year 100. Of  course Future's End is suppose to take place five years from the present New 52 plot and Year 100 takes place during Batman's 100th year alive where most of Gotham believed his to be some myth or boogieman of the streets. Yet Future's End has so much bullshit technological jargon in it, you'd think it took place in space. Fawkes and Snyder kinda got lazy with this script me thinks. It's too bad because artist Aco is brilliant here. I feel like they really let him down. You might have noticed Aco lately in the Constantine series which is also written by Fawkes. It's something I pretend just doesn't exist. I am still bitter about DC's decision to end Hellblazer and start this Constantine abomination.

Besides being over-all too much plot to shove into a one-shot, the ending just made me angry. Cloning is the #1 lamest way to push a story forward in the face of a dying character. The only time I ever really liked it was Alien Resurrection and I MUST be the only person on the planet that enjoyed that movie. Even Wheddon practically throws his hands up in the air and backs away from it claiming it merely a learning experience in his writing career. I realize this whole cloning issue isn't new to the DC universe, I just really dislike it. I can do that for serial right? Just like people who don't like the phrase "for serial" can choose to throw my opinions right out the window. FOR SERIAL.

So my end to the Future's End rant? I feel let down. Poor Aco. Your work deserves more than this.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bramble by Jean-David Morvan & Nesmo

This steampunk inspired world is fraught with the usual crime issues but one unlucky detective ends up dealing with a giant problem. Literally, the perp is a giant and a most unusual one. For one, he seems awfully obsessed with plants and most at home in the flower shop of the vast metropolis of this technology fanatical world.

With all the amazing titles being release from Humanoids this month, I was worried this gem would get lost in the mix so I wanted to cover this before talking about Barbarella and the OMG- MILLIONTH (exaggerating much yes) pressing of Moebius & Jodorowsky's The Incal.

Bramble's mystery takes root in you immediately. I was captured by the story from the beautiful opening illustrations. The first chapter of the story is a compelling and chase after a mysterious perp but you will be blown away by what follows. My favorite line "the worst part is that I can't even pray to my god anymore since you're the victim here." But that is the only hint I will give you.

Nesmo's artwork blew me away. The cityscapes are especially creative, technology vs nature, using mechanical giants that lumber through the metropolis with the burden of human inhabitants. It means I have to get my hands on more of Nesmo's work is what it means.

Bramble will be released as a hardcover deluxe edition on September 24th by Humanoids Inc. Make sure you get your copy. I know for a fact that Strange Adventures here in Halifax, always orders Humanoids' new releases. Be sure to contact them to get your copy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

An Oldie But A Goodie : Batman Secret Origins Special

I managed to get my hands on this because of my friend Ben who works at Strange Adventures in Dartmouth. He's a very knowledgeable chap and sent me a message saying I best get down to the shop. That was back when I was walking. I read this a while ago but hadn't posted anything about it. I was thinking about it today when I picked up my copy of the Batman Future's End one-shot.

Various stories have been published under the title Secret Origins over the years. The stories features the origins of various characters that in the past hadn't otherwise been much explored. Although various origin stories have been written for the characters of Gotham over the years, I like to think that the original, origin stories kind of reign supreme. The first one-shot was published in 1961 and contained re-printed stories. The title has since been recycled over a half dozen times since. The most well-known series ran from '86 to '90 for 50 issues.

In 1989 Special 1 was released containing the secret origin story of The Penguin by Alan Grant and Sam Kieth, The Riddler by Neil Gaiman, Matt Wagner and Bernie Mireault and Two-Face by Mark Verheiden and Pat Broderick. You can see how this would interest me. Anything that Sam Kieth touches immediately grabs my attention and Neil Gaiman writing The Riddler is just so perfect that Gaiman makes the Riddler appear more psychotic than ever through the eyes of Gotham reporters.

I think The Penguin story is possibly my favorite origin story in the book special. It's one of the most enduring character origin stories to this day. Alan Grant even came back post-Crisis to writer the character again. So I sort of feel that Grant is the definitive authority on all things around the character. Whether or not that's true.... lol is another story. That's just how I feel.

I have been on the subject of the best Batman comics of all time, for about a month now. This is definitely worth reading if you can get your hands on it. It's an important contribution to the world of Gotham for certain.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Names #1

I know I'm a little behind in the posts this week guys but it's been a tough week of BF4. I gained a shit-ton of levels but I have a long way to catch up to people who have been playing non stop for the last year. ANYWAY, I did get all my singles read but have been so behind in talking about them.

Everyone knows how much I love Peter Milligan. Shade, X-Statix, Hellblazer, they all made me HUGELY happy. The way he writes has always provokes a strong reaction from me. So when I heard about the new mini series on Vertigo, I got tingles. I wasn't totally sure what to think of a Milligan written revenge story. In a way, much of the end of Hellblazer can be viewed as a revenge story. However after reading The Names, I don't think there is a whole lot of supernatural involvement LOL.

The first issue managed to grab my attention right away. I put down the game controller for a whole 20 minutes as I studied the panels. I got to thinking why people weren't upset about the artwork like they were about the Manara cover but that's just it, comic fans know better. I suppose most people cannot see the difference between sexist and sexy. The main character of The Names is 25 year old Katya. From what I read in the first issue, she appears to have an interesting past that has been very much buried. She's strong and independent despite how others view her. She married an older man with money, so the people who eliminated her husband see her as a gold digger and not really an immediate threat. Until of course, they realize how lethal she is. Also, Katya is damn sexy. I'm surprised people haven't freaked out at the sexually suggestive nature of the cover like Manara's Spiderwoman cover. Katya doesn't exactly have the average female body.

I'm not trying to knock the artwork here. I actually really like  Leandro Fernandez and his work. He has a pretty extensive career with Marvel and he's pretty damn young. When I look at his character design I sometimes find myself thinking of Aeon Flux. Not that that it's all that similar but some of the odd proportions get me thinking of the show. Final thoughts, I'm very excited to read the rest of this story and I hope people don't start lashing out for no reason but I think they would have already attacked most of the comic book industry by now.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Royal Jelly: Top Picks for Sept 10th

So this is the week of Image releases for me. Most of what I'll be picking up comes from Image. A few noteable titles elsewhere however.

Death of Wolverine #2
Adventure Time Annual #1
Copperhead #1
MPH #3 (Paul Pope Variant cover)
Prophet Strikefile #1
Lazarus #11
Spread #3
Walking Dead #131
Man Who Laughs GN   

So here's the 411:
I am such a giant Paul Pope fan, how thrilled do you think I was that he's done a variant cover for this week's release of MPH!? THRILLED. In fact, if for some reason I am unable to get it, I might cry.

Copperhead is a new ongoing series from Image that Brian K.Vaughan has called the best Image release of 2014. You can read my full interview with creator Scott Godlewski HERE.

Many people are thrilled that Death of Wolverine #2 releases straight after the release of #1. We don't have to wait till October! Lucky us! my full review will be showing up this Wednesday. 

There is almost no way for one to describe Brandon Graham's latest evolution of the Prophet series so I'll give you the run down on Prophet Strikefile straight from the horses mouth "A who's who of the Prophet universe with a comic history of the Earth Empire and bio sheets-pulled from the deepest corners of the known universe-of space gods, aliens, and the distant worlds that contain them. "

Man Who Laughs is based on the 1869 publication by Victor Hugo. This is a retelling by author David Hine and artist Mark Stafford. It's hitting the shelves through Self Made Hero who always has these releases that just catch my attention. Clearly this cover is right up my alley. Right the fuck up it.

Nightbreed #4

Sometimes I dunno what to say about a comic. I'm supposed to have endless things to say because well, I write articles about comics but sometimes I just have no words. I finished Nightbreed and although I enjoyed it, I don't really know why. I have always prided myself on my ability to put my emotions to words very easily. Yet sometimes I just dunno why I liked something and I begin to dissect my reaction.  What did I feel like I after I finished reading this issue of Nightbreed. I felt like watching horror movies. I felt like writing a story about twisted religious folk. I started thinking about the villain in the last season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (show, not the comics). He's an evil Reverend, white collar and all, just evil. Lastly, I wanted to talk to the guys creating this comic. So I sent out some tweets. Hopefully will hear back soon. I usually do.

Another killer cover from Riley Rossomo. Check it. I'm so right. Rossomo is all over everything awesome lately. I got to talk to him a recently as part of my Northern Highlights series which you can read HERE. I find myself wishing I had prints of these covers.

So Amy, what do you have to say about Nightbreed?? I want more.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Nightworld #2

Every time I see a panel from Nightworld I think luchador and then I have to remind myself we're dealing with demons here. I love the artwork in this book, it's very "pop" but it has a style all it's own despite the plethora of comparisons to Kirby that I've read. It's so easy to look at a pop-art styled comic book (that contains masked crusaders) and say THAT'S KIRBY. Sometimes it just aggravates me. Moving on...

I love Hotspot. He is kind of my favorite character and the source of much comedy in the story. Plus he looks kind of like he's wearing a track suit. He looks like he's about to bust a move. He's also a teenager, so he's misguided and ridiculous. It's pretty fricken great. He's the guy in green leaping over a bullet on the cover!

This is a serious mini-series. As in, it's half over right now! As in, you should probably go grab the first two issues now.  As in, it sucks that this series isn't going to be longer but hopefully we'll see more from Paolo Leandri and Adam McGovern in the future.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Q&A with James Harvey on the Image release of Masterplasty

I wanted to get at James Harvey as soon as Image announced that Masterplasty was going to print in October. The story follows one character journey with a strange new surgical technique which changes ones appearance. A new piece of cartilage in the brain has been discovered. By manipulating this cartilage one can change their entire appearance- this has become known as Masterplasty. Yet, can a beautiful exterior really make you happy? This online cult sensation hits the shelves October 1st in an over-sized format!

Here is my exclusive interview with James Harvey.

TFQ: I gotta say I loved Masterplasty but I wonder if I didn't also love the open questions from friends at the end of the story even more. What made you tack these onto the end?

James: I wanted people to feel included on the little community of people who read my work, I guess. And since my work is new to most people, I wanted to tell people how to read my work. I know artists aren't really supposed to do that, but no-one is going to try to solve a rubik's cube if you hand it to them and tell them it's a paperweight, you know?

TFQ: One of the things I like about this story is that it is less focused on celebrity and shows zeros in on the insecurities that hide in the average person, although perhaps caused by media, etc. So many stories focus on criticizing celebrity shallowness where you're talking more about the vanity in all of us. Can you tell me a bit about what led you to make this your focus?

James: I just wrote about the insecurities held by me and the people I knew back then. I didn't really know any celebrities back then so I couldn't really speak to their experience. Of course, now I'm a major hollywood bigshot, all my stories are going to be about the famous and ultra-wealthy getting multiple plastic surgeries and the ending will be 'and everyone thought they looked better and they were happy because of it, the end'. Plastic surgery isn't always a cursed monkey's paw, you know?

Also, while I'm at it, people who take cocaine aren't bad people. This is a good new direction for me. Maybe now I'm rich I'll be the Woody Allen of comic books and write solely about the experiences of the upper-middle classes to the exclusion of all other walks of life.

Actually, in all truth, I'm broke and I live with my parents.

TFQ: In the intro the characters are in a public setting and someone remarks on how people hang out with others of equal attractiveness. Why did you want to open when this?

James: My ex said it one time. I guess we spent a lot of time in bars when I lived in New York, so that's how that came about. The bar they're in is "Led Zeppelin", based on a bar I used to go to a lot in Jeju City, South Korea. The other good bar in Jeju City was called "The Doors".

TFQ: So I saw Bartkira- that was nuts! I'm a huge Akira fan and I noticed so much manga
influence in your illustrations. What's your favorite manga? What's influenced you the most?

James: Akira. Also Toriyama's early stuff like Dr. Slump and the first volume of Dragon Ball, and the short stories of Shintaro Kago."

TFQ: After reading the ending I have to wonder, is Masterplasty ultimately telling us to reject the ideals of what is considered beautiful by modern society?

James: It's ambiguous. I'm not gonna sit here and tell you Angelina Jolie (or Taylor Swift, or whoever is the modern paradigm of contemporary beauty) isn't attractive or that being good-looking isn't going to make you more confident or happy. But that doesn't mean that pursuing beauty above all is a route to happiness, either. The story begins and ends with a question, you know? It's only a short story, but it's a book of questions rather than answers.

Remember to get your copy of Masterplasty in it's exclusive over-sized format on October 1st! Preorder with Diamond Code AUG140555.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Royal Jelly: Queens top picks for Sept 3th 2014

Death of Wolverine variant cover
Some people were celebrating Labor Day yesterday, Canadians, which means some of us won't be getting our comics tomorrow. This is due to delayed deliveries because of the Monday holiday. Although not all shops will receive late shipments of new releases, most of them in Halifax do.

Doop #5
Death of Wolverine #1
Nightbreed #4
Nightworld #2
Names #1
Oz Omibus (Marvel)  
Finder Third Word
The Wrenchies

The All-New Doop is coming to an end so you best grab #5. I'm a huge Milligan fan. HUGE.
All-New Doop #5

The highly anticipated Death of Wolverine begins this week with issue #1! There are eight variant covers and 4 Deadpool Memorial Variants! I haven't decided which ones I'll pick up. How do you choose with sooo many?!

The Names #1 struck my interest because not only is it a new Vertigo title but it's written by Peter Milligan. This is a new 8 issue mini series from one of my favorite writers of all time. Vertigo tells me this is supposed to be a "dark, contemporary thriller set in the world of Big Money". If past works are an indicator, I think it'll be more than just dark.

Now I'll buying the Oz Omnibus. I have read bits and pieces of Skottie Young's beautiful illustrations in this new rendition of Frank L. Baum's Oz series. This is a full color, hardcover edition of Marvel series. It collects the following story arc's THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ 1-8, THE MARVELOUS LAND OF OZ 1-8, OZMA OF OZ 1-8, DOROTHY & THE WIZARD IN OZ 1-8, ROAD TO OZ 1-6, THE EMERALD CITY OF OZ 1-5, MARVEL ILLUSTRATED: WIZARD OF OZ SKETCHBOOK, OZ PRIMER. I have been waiting
Oz Omnibus
for this to come out for quite sometime and have abstained from purchasing trades and collected volumes of the series. For people who have read the Oz novels, this series is great because you can jump in at any time and be familiar with the previous events as it follows the novels almost to the letter.

Finder: Third World is the first full-color collected story from the prolific award winning series. Finder is an amazing series dating back to 1996 by Carla Speed McNeil who describes it as "aboriginal science fiction". I am the proud owner of volume 1&2 of the Finder Library which I am currently reading. Since picking up the first volume I have been recommending the series to all my science fiction-fanatical-friends. I am totally in love with the characters and this world. Much of this futuristic Earth is rooted in political and social issues which are recognizable today. McNeil deals with issues concerning domestic abuse, racism, gender, eugenics, and a number of controversies and current important issues. Let me not mislead you though, it's not all serious. McNeil is really witty. I absolutely love the script and find myself twisted from laughing then being horribly upset and fearful for my new favorite characters.

The Wrenchies is a new release from First Second written and illustrated by Farel Dalrymple. Dalrymple's work is beautiful and you guessed it, right up my alley. I first discovered his work through Prophet, Brandon Garham's baby currently running on Image. The Wrenchies has been described as a Young Adult book. For some detailed info about this I'm going to simply direct you to the article on Comics Alliance because I have to read this exciting book.
Farel Dalrymple
Farel Dalrymple
Farel Dalrymple