Friday, October 31, 2014

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang

I was excited to read this story because the artwork is so adorably beautiful and it's about gaming. There's a nice little thought from Felicia Day across the top of the cover (you might remember her as star and writer of the hit series The Guild).

I've read some of Cory Doctorow's work previously and now that I've read this I'm wondering if Doctorow can write about anything other than Gold Farming. That's what this story is about although he's got a little intro in the beginning of the book to explain to you what the story is actually about. It's about GOLD FARMING and sure, yeah economics, yeah.

The plot begins with a young teenage girl Ada, who was never really into online games, plays D&D with her friends at school and that's about it. One day their class has a guest speaker who works on this online game and offers the best kids a place on her elite guild. I don't really get this part... and it actually stuck me as sort of creepy that an adult would do something like that, but sure... after school program or something? Anyway, Ada convinces her mom to purchase some online gaming time in this particular platform called Coarsegold. Doctorow even explains responsibly in the script how to do this: by asking you mom with sugar, sugar and cherries on top if she would please put the subscription amount on her credit card and accept cash to pay for it. We are now reminded of who the intended audience of this book is.

This brings me to an interesting point actually, do authors believe that since they are pandering to a new audience that they can simply recycle plots and ideas? As in, normally someone who writes novels, or scripts moving into the world of comics and graphic novels, re-writing stories with different characters and targeting a specific gender? Doctorow sought out the female audience here and even tries to type in the stereotypical handsome face at the end of the story with a royal fancy GALA! Ada's warrior self is in a fancy dress being asked by a "handsome man dressed in white" to dance. It ends like a Disney movie with dancing, celebration, a prince and princess. Even worse is that you read the whole thing thinking that Ada is a kick ass character fighting for equality and justice, in her game (and the world), only to be led down the path to this rather rudimentary conclusion. I felt ripped off after I reached the ending. I  was kinda pissed.

One major redeeming quality of this book is Jen Wang's charming artwork. She manages to show Ada as she is in real life, an average a girl with an average frame and then this avatar. The avatar created by Ada is slim and idealistic as is generally the case with games. Her coloring is so lovely and it really is completely uncontroversial while appealing to readers of different age groups.

End of day, I think the story feels mostly condescending despite trying to talk about how not everyone has healthcare in the world, and address workers rights (as did his novel For the Win). The way it's directed at girls and women, and the ending... it does feel like a let down. Thankfully Wang is able to make beautiful panels throughout that can help us see past this plot failures.

Saga #24 *SPOILERS*

Finally! I was dying to see what was happening with The Will and his crew. His crew has basically ended up as Gwendolyn's (Marko's former fiance) and her crew now that The Will resides in a 24 hour care facility as a "zucchini" (that's a vegetable). It's about bloody time we saw what was going on with these guys.

There were some great panels in this issue. Mainly a stab at a would-be rapist and pedophile alien who was apparently guarding a secret that could help The Will out of his useless state. This all takes place in the first few pages. I read a horrible review on saying "Staples’ opening pages have developed a reputation for being impactful." Um.. well if you mean that it's full of impact then yeah I agree but you can't be impactful. You can't be impactful because impactful is not a fucking word. ARGH. I read this argument that it's not a word in most dictionaries because most modern dictionaries have no caught up to the creativity of modern speakers. BULLSHIT. It doesn't even roll off the tongue properly. It sounds like shit... anyway... back to Fiona Staples...

I wouldn't say she's known to shock. I would say that Brian K. Vaughan is known for his use of a sort of "misdirection" in his writing. He skillfully draws ones attention in and you think that the story is going there but then BAM! He throw in a good witty line to throw everything for a loop. Appropriately he pans away to another piece of the story. He's done this through Saga many, many times. He's done it in Ex Machina, Y The Last Man, and basically everything he's written. He's famous for leaving you wanting more desperately at the end of every issue.  Staples? She makes it real. She brings it all to life. Let me be clear, I'm not trying to downplay her role as the artist of this story. I just disagree with this awful review on I feel as though a lot of people reviewing Staples work are actually quite ignorant of the work she's done BESIDES Saga. The reviewer from should really go back and refresh himself with her work...

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Q&A with Marguerite Sauvage: Wonder Woman & Hinterkind

I was chatting with the amazing Alison Sampson on facebook after she posted this amazing artwork. It wasn't her own though. It was the cover of Hinterkind #11 and it blew me away. She tagged me saying "Amy, you gotta interview Marguerite" and of course she was right. This woman has amazing work. On top of that she had just finished an amazing piece for Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #3 (now available at comic book store near you). That absolutely through me for a loop. It's this powerful piece which included all kinds of relevant issues that women everywhere deal with on a daily basis. Slut-shaming, street harassment, etc. It details articulate, assertive Diana dealing with these situations. It's progressive and it's beautiful. So I asked the wonderful Marguerite what it was like to work on this and her other works. Here's the interview:
FQ: Hinterkind #12, has to be the most beautiful cover I've seen for the series yet and that's saying something because all those covers are epic. How did you get involved in the Hinterkind project?

Marguerite: First of all thank you so much, I'm happy you love the covers for Hinterkind ! How I got contacted was kind of a huge and delightful surprise. It was via Twitter by Vertigo's editors Will Dennis and Greg Lockard to relay the great Greg Tocchini that used to work on Hinterkind covers before me. The thing was at this time I was a beginner on Twitter so it was totally mind blowing to get feedback so quickly. I fell in love with the series when Will and Greg presented it through the previous issues, and so happy to work for Vertigo ! So that's how the adventure has begun.

FQ: I feel as though drawing major characters must be a little exciting and nerve wracking at

the same time. How can you describe your experience drawing Wonder Woman? Were there any challenges?
Marguerite: Yes, exciting and nerve wracking are the terms. When I got the e-mail from DC with the title « Want to draw a Wonder Woman story ? » I was unable to stay quiet. « Is it for real ? » was my first thought. With then after a huge shot of happiness and excitement ! It was a enormous challenge, my really first professional sequential work since I stopped fanzining as a teen and on one of my favorite character, so you can imagine! I had to learn everything : how to have efficient and dynamic layouts, how to have an interesting inking process, how to keep a graphic composition in each pages through color choices, etc...And how to draw Diana on stage as a Rock Star !

FQ: In Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #3, there are some pretty big important moments where Wonder Woman is asserting herself in a fashion that all women have felt the need to do so. Wonder Woman shows a new generation of women how to handle criticism on their fashion choices and even how to deal with street harassment and cat calling.  What was it like to draw something important like this? What are your thoughts on these topics?

Marguerite: It was a total resonance with my own life, of course. First I'm a woman, second I lived in Paris 15 years. Street harassment, insults, touching and cat callings are young women everyday struggle in the city of « romance » (Paris has a lot of qualities but not on this subject). As a woman you get « used » to it, no choice, but you develop strategies that are unnatural, and even unconscious, like not wearing skirts, avoiding some part of the city, etc. So you do as much as you can to avoid being verbally or physically attacked in the public space, which is definitely not the same for men or for women. Street harassment is not good for men as well, a lot of boys or men are totally upset by the behaviors of this minority of stalkers that deepen the moat between men and women. 
So, then after these 15 years, I moved to live 2 years in Sydney, Australia, and then to MontrĂ©al, these cities there is NO street harassment. It's like living again ! That's the way public space should be in a modern and civilized society. Why do they succeed and not us ? So I was very happy to work on this subject through comics, through a model character like Wonder Woman and through a story written by Sean E Williams, who is...a man !

FQ: What's in store for your future? What projects are you going to be working on and my favorite question to ask people is : What projects would you most like to work on?

Marguerite: I hope I will have more covers and shorts or one-shots to work on ! There's some that will be published in the upcoming months and I will communicate on my blog and on the social medias about it. I'm always amazed when I get new job offers. I'll be happy to keep on working on strong female characters and/or super heroines, sci-fi and thriller, or for a teenaged audience. So anything with a good story, I think that's the point !

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Royal Jelly: Top Picks for October 29th

As usual with Royal Jelly, I try to point out titles of particular interest to me or things that I think are important to highlight for various reasons. Of course, I'm going to omit titles because the release list is lengthy! No one aside from shop owners can pick up every weeks release and most people aren't even going to bother riffling through the titles. It's nice to have a pull list from readers you side with in taste. So if you like my taste this is your pull list for the week :D

Rasputin #1
Harley Quinn Annual
Low #4
Saga #24
Logan Legacy #3
Little Nemo Return to Slumberland #2
Death Of Wolverine Deadpool And Captain America #1
San Hannibal #4 
Vertigo Quarterly Yellow #1
And Then Emily Was Gone #4

Set to Sea by Drew Weing (Fantagraphics)
Sock Monkey: Into the Deep Woods by Tony Millionaire and Matt Danner (Fantagraphics)
Attack on Titan: No Regrets Vol 2

Heavy Metal Magazine #271 

Mentionables: Umbral #10 , Deathlok #1

Deadpool & Captain America #1
So obviously we got a lot going on here. First, let's get the obvious stuff out of the way - Death of Logan's Legacy, we now have Death of Wolverine Deadpool & Captain America. Gerry Duggan's got this ones so its worth a looksey. Then from DC we got another Harley Quinn Annual. Doesn't annual means yearly? Didn't we just have one of these in June? I must be thinking of something else right??? DC is also calling this Harley Quin 2013 #1 so how confused am I right now. BLAH!
Wolverine stories continue as mutants and heroes everywhere deal with the death of the once living legend.  Besides

Let's skip ahead to Image! We have the next installment of Saga and Low which you best be picking up and the debut title from the talented Riley Rossmo entitled Rasputin! I got to talking with Rossmo about this series recently. Check out the interview!

There are a few interesting looking titles from Fantagraphics. Original graphic novel Set to Sea is an odd tale about an aspiring poet who leads a life on the sea and apparently drinks too much. Really interesting ink work in this book. Fully illustrated in black ink.

And we got the second installment of Attack on Titan spin-off series No Regrets which follows the story of Levi from the original series. It's a prequel to the main series.

Colder: The Bad Seed #1

Another chapter in the life of Declan Thomas. Colder #1 came out in Nov 2012 with a cripplingly horrific cover. The team has done so again with the debut of Colder: Bad Seed. Declan Thomas has the strange ability to cure madness in others. This madness is attributed to demons and darkness that creeps into peoples lives and corrupting their minds. In Bad Seed he comes into contact with this phalanges loving fiend!

I've been saying it for a while, we need more excellent titles on Darkhorse. I'm always down for more horror so it's nice to see this story resurface and continue! The cover is what caught my attention initially and although I didn't read the initial debut of Declan with Colder #1, I do remember pondering the cover for quite some time. Artist Ferreyra is clearly talented and currently working on another prolific title Aliens: Fire and Ice. Although I'm not immediately attracted to the interior artwork, it simply doesn't call out to me as so many pieces do, it is suitable for the subject matter. It does contain a certain dark and gloomy haze that is appropriate given the tone! I've added this to my subscription list despite it being a mini-series of four issues.

The nice thing about this story is that you don't have to read the first story arc to enjoy it however it has made a convert out of me. I plan to go pick up the original story based on how well put together this issue was. It's important to note that this story is absolutely not for children. I mean, if the cover doesn't terrify the shit out of them immediately, you will be shortly answering a lot of questions along the lines of "mommy, why is that woman sitting naked in that mans lap?". So best keep this one out of the reach of children.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Logan Legacy #2 : X-23 Dealing with Death

Wow, I actually didn't hate it. HA! Tim Seeley, excellent artist took on comic book role of writer for this one and manages to entertain me with a character I don't even particularly like. Best known to me for his work on Revival (which I'm actually a very big fan of despite waiting on trades), flexes his fingers over this short story and shows X-23 clubbing it in Toronto. Gotta love the Canadian influence. Well, I suppose I'm biased. BUT we do get to see a member of Alpha Flight. I won't spoil it for you.

I am actually happy that this series has changed up the artist. Color artist Oback remains but that wasn't my problem with issue one. If you had read my review, I was pretty disgusted with the work and whatever was going on with Sabertooth's head. That's not to say that I'm in love with the artwork from Kristantina, I'm not. It's not the type of artwork that impresses me but she clearly has talent. The cover of issue 2 is a VAST improvement from issue one. I mean, comparing the two, what were they thinking??? Issue two is quite lovely and I enjoy the coloring.

All in all, I was shocked that this issue was actually readable for me. I can't stand X-23 although she did praddle on a few times about her past, teh, Seeley did manage to get a few giggles out of me through some of her dialog. I wonder what's in store for next week's issue 3.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Arkham Manor #1

Immediately when I had begun to write the title to this article, I wrote Arkham Asylum. I guess I'm going to be calling it that every time I write about the series which I intend to cover pretty extensively. I received my copy in the mail yesterday and decided I'd wait till today to post my review since it officially hits the shelves this morning here in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

Last night I was super excited to finally take a look at Shawn Crystal's inside artwork for this new on-going Batman series. I contact Shawn last week because after seeing the cover that was just it for me. I know I had to read the series. I loved the released artwork. I have to say I found it sort of funny when I tweeted him to ask for an interview as I was blown away with the cover. He said that he guessed I was looking at Eric Canete's variant cover. I had seen that cover. It's cool, I'm a fan of Eric's work but that's not the cover I was talking about. I was talking about the perfectly timed October release. I felt more dark and Halloween-ey every time I looked at it. I guess Shawn is a bit on the humble side! I was so happy he agreed to talk to me. You can read the interview right here.

There were subtleties throughout the issue that I enjoyed. One such subtlety was the bat silhouette in the narration boxes whenever Batman was speaking. I think it's important to take a look at Batman himself. Shawn Crystal has given him an extremely gaunt look. How old is Batman right now anyway? I don't know. He's certainly Year 100 old but he does appear to be more warn in this depiction.

This issue sets up the story and all the excitement to come. Batman is no longer welcome in Wayne Manor. He lives with Alfred in an apartment in Gotham, but he must go back and investigate now that the inmates have moved into his beloved family home. There's been a murder. I'll leave the spoiler out of this article. I have to give this issue some hands together and maybe a fist pound because its going in a direction that is not simply Batman on the streets. I think it'll force Batman to use more of his cunning and wit. It might force him to use more brute force and not to rely on the typical Batman gadgets we all know and love. Maybe this is a sort of Batman outside of the box.

You should probably just go get a copy and read it right now before I spoil it for you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Q&A with Shawn Crystal on DC's New Series: Arkham Manor

I was flipping through the new release lists last week when I saw this cover. This ridiculously haunting cover for a new Batman series. I've been looking for a new Batman series for some time now and I've struggled through the current runs. Really not enjoying any of them. I like my Batman dark like a lot of adults do. So I googled the title Arkham Manor #1 and found this gifted artist Shawn Crystal. I've seen his work before. It stuck me and it was time to send him a message. I had to ask him a little bit about this series that I'm so excited for. Arkham Manor #1 is a new on-going Batman series where Bruce Wayne gives up his manor temporarily to house the criminally insane of Arkham Asylum. Some sort of catastrophe has struck the hospital! This sounds like a bit of Maddness (sorry had to Dan Slott reference there), exactly what's missing from all the recent Batman I've been reading. Arkham Manor #1 hits the shelves tomorrow!
Here's my Q&A with the artist Shawn Crystal:

TFQ: How did you come to work on this project?
Shawn: Kismet. Gerry and I had been trying to get a project going together, we’re friends and wanted to jam on something creative. At the same time, Mark Doyle was looking to get something going with me. It's just coincidence that Gerry had a pitch in his office and then the cards fell into place.

TFQ: What was your inspiration for the artwork in this story?
Shawn: Years and years of aching to draw Batman. When I was finishing up Fantomex, and getting ready to leave my full time job (Running the Sequential Art dept. at SCAD Atlanta), I started to experiment with a loose/grittier style. It’s something that was boiling inside of me. Fantomex was so clean and precise, it started to feel cold to me. I had become so comfortable with the brush, I felt this yearning deep inside for me to let go, throw the brush around, let the beast loose! Batman lined up at the perfect time for this new style to evolve and grow.

TFQ: Can you compare this series to any other Batman story from the past? How does it differ?!
Shawn: We are doing more with the Batman cannon in this first six issue arc than I have ever seen done before. We’re adding new characters and playing with the mythos. It’s not far from The Killing Joke in terms of tone. Dark, haunting, gritty.

TFQ: Can you tell me your favourite Batman story and why? Hard question for many to answer.
Shawn: Ok, in order to answer this, I need to first say “The Dark Knight Returns” and “Batman: Year One”. The works of Frank Miler and David Mazzuchelli got me into comics and continually teach me how to do this thing we call comics. BUT, those are typical answers. Bruce Timm did a short story for the original Batman: Black and White mini series. It was called “Two of a kind” and it’s flawless. It's a brilliant story that uses panel to panel storytelling in extremely clear and innovative ways. I just LOVE that short. You can hand it to anyone who knows nothing of Batman and they’ll get it. 8 pages of pure awesome.

TFQ: Will this story be suitable for all ages or a mature audience?
Shawn: I'd say this book is PG -13. My kids will be reading it!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Royal Jelly: Top picks for October 22nd

This week is going to be pretty interesting to a lot of people. I'm excited to grab the third issue of POP! The plot thickens and our test-tube celebrity went on a pretty wild trip in the last issue! We also the second issue of Logan's Legacy. This series is a weekly release so grab em while you can. Try not to pay too much attention to the artwork (I can't believe I have to say that but ... you'll see what I mean.) If you were wondering about the run, read my impressions after I read issue #1 RIGHT HERE. 

POP! #3
Arkham Manor #1
Bodies #4
Colder Bad Seed #1
Starlight #6
Logan Legacy #2
The Walking Dead #133
Butterfly #2
Nightbreed #6
Memetic #1

Silver Surfer Vol 1

It's important to mention that the final issue of Starlight is being released this week. Cover by John
Cassaday and a variant by Cliff Chiang. It's a big issue so you'll be pleased with the wrap up but sad that it's over.

One of my favorite on-going series releases the first volume this week! Mike Allred and Dan Slott's Silver Surfer trade comes out featuring the first story arc of the much loved series. I have covered The Silver Surfer extensively on my blog. Here's my latest interview with Dan Slott about the series. 

As for debut issues, I'm actually interested in this Arkham Manor #1. The premise kinda wonky. Problems at Arkham Asylum force Bruce Wayne to house the convicts. That strikes me as ridiculous but it's Batman. The art is what caught my attention. Artist Shawn Crystal has something really interesting going on there. The fall colors behind that menacing faced Batman is pretty perfect for Halloween.

Boom! Has three titles out for me this week. Nightbreed #6 which I've been reading dutifully. Wonderful covers by Riley Rossmo. A debut mini-series called Memetic from James TynionIV and Eryk Donovan.There will be three over-sized post apocalyptic editions! Finally, the second issue of Butterfly about a sexy female assassin and her troubled past. I was very partial to the artwork in the first issue.

Notable Mentions: Edward Scissor Hands, Last Unicorn Trade Paper, Lazarus 12, Revival 24

These are notable mentions due to the fact that I either wait for trade, or I already have the singles. The Last Unicorn for example was put out at least two maybe three years ago and they are just NOW releasing a trade. It's sooo beautiful, I highly recommend it as it is done in the style of the original animation from 1981 which was based on the fantasy classic by Peter S. Beagle. You should probably grab that if you don't have the singles.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Starlight #6 : FINAL ISSUE !

Six issues and it's all over! Mark and Goran are off to do other things. Goran goes off to work on an origins story for the Punisher and Mark goes to further expand the Millarworld. The new Punisher which has not yet been been given a release date, sounds amazing because of Goran. Obviously I'm bias. The series is known to me as The Punisher: Platoon. I'm told it'll end up being around 5 or 6 issues. I can't wait. With Starlight over I'm without the one thing that really made the book stand out for me - Goran's amazing work.

It's those damn pink and blues. The colors pink and blue have been heavily researched by the science type crowd and found to provide comfort to the viewer. Perhaps that is why I love the works created by Parlov, Brandan Graham, Mike Allred.. people influenced by the great Moebius. For me, color has a lot to do with it all but it's not everything... OBVIOUSLY. There is also a lot more going on than color and clearly, each of these artists have a voice of their own. If you can't spot it then please, go back to comic book school. Joking..sort of.

I really wish I could spoil this ending for you but I promised no spoilers suffice it to say the final issue is long. It also pleased me to be as unspecific as possible. I do feel that the series as a whole is suitable for children and now having read it all, I think that I would allow some youngsters to read it. I will be turning over a copy to my sister when the trade comes out and she can read it to her girls if she agrees with me. Perhaps the pink hair of Duke's young friend will have a calming effect? LOL not so sure.

The final issue of Starlight will be release October 22nd at a comic book shop near you!

Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy #1

Let me start by saying I preemptively made a decision to pick up all the Death of Wolverine fall-out that was chucked on the shelves. I made this commitment by reading the damn Death of Wolverine story which is now good and done. Wolvey went out kind of like Hans Solo. Instead of being encased in carbonite though, he's encased in adamantium. I dunno why I made this decision but I'm an all or nothing kind of gal for the most part.

I didn't know how to feel about the whole Logan Legacy thing. Seven issues of what I guess are recanted stories from Sabertooth, Deathstrike, X-23 and Daken. Oh and some odd guy dressed up as Wolverine with cutlery tapped to his hands that we're told to read about in issue #3. I'm getting the idea that this is sort of a "where were you when" sort of story but instead of Princess Diana's Death or 9/11, we're talking about Wolverine going bye bye.

We're told where to look for each piece of the story. I dunno why.. presumably because some people might not be interested in say X-23's side of things. Especially if she's still into self mutilation and blood letting? In addition we also are be told to acknowledge X-23's new hair-do. She's got a yellow streak on one side of her face and a blue steak on the other. A tribute obviously but kinda... I dunno. It's kinda lame. My friend Ben explains this as "X-23 is a kid. Kids do stupid things." Fine. I guess I'll accept that...

See, I have a difficult time even talking about X-23 and being positive about her. I was really excited back in the day. The prospect of a female Wolverine character was great for me ...back then... unfortunately they fucked it up by creating fucking X-23. But I digress...Going back to my original thoughts on telling everybody what issue to grab to see which details of who's story... marketing wise, I don't think it was a great move but hey, it's been done before.

I have always been a fan of Lady Deathstrike so I'm most excited to see the issue with her story. There's something about a sword. Daken's side of the story? Meh, I'm sure it'll be... violent. I don't really care. Sabertooth should provide some decent comic relief.

Crafty Charles Soule tricked us with the appearance of Charles Xavier and stupid me almost believed him for a page. I'm easily taken in by writers and my own wishes to simply return my beloved professor to the world of the living. So I was pretty happy with the initial set up for this mini series simply because Soule managed to keep me entertained. I am upset however by the unremarkable artwork. As you can see from the attached image of the cover, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Sabertooth looks like he has spikes growing out of his face... anyway the whole book is like that. It's pretty terrible.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Q&A with Riley Rossmo on debut series Rasputin!

I'm always excited to get my hands on anything by Riley Rossmo. When I caught wind of Rasputin I had to run to Riley and beg to read it. Okay, I didn't really beg... He's a nice guy so I got to read it and ask some questions. This is one of the best debut's I've read in a long time. I didn't know what to expect from the story and it just shocked the hell out of me. It's rage on the page, completely visceral and not for the faint of heart. In these pages, Rasputin becomes this beautiful, complicated character, I think I might have fallen in love with him. Here's my conversation with Riley Rossmo:

TFQ: How was this project initiated?

Riley: Alex and I have talked on and off about doing something for a long time. After Proof he got busy writing novels and I kept making comics. Earlier this year Alex mentioned that he was interested in making comics again and pitched me Rasputin. Alex had been thinking about the story for years he showed me some old drawings he’d done for it and pitched me his idea. I was sold almost instantly.

TFQ: How did you begin to picture Rasputin in your mind and how did you come up with his appearance?

Riley: Rasputin’s often depicted as evil, menacing, or grotesque. We decided a to depict him in a positive light. I wanted our Rasptuin to be attractive, charismatic, and approachable. As the narrative progresses his appearance gets wilder. Our Rasputin is a mix of young Johnny Depp, Nick Cave, and Dr. Strange,

TFQ: What's it like to develop the appearance of a character from youth to adulthood? How do you do it?

Riley: My process developing characters usually starts with a dozen portraits experimenting with different head shapes, noses, hair styles, etc. I choose my favorite of those and do 30-40 little drawings showing the characters expressions. After that I’ll do some figure thumbnails to figure out the characters silhouette. Once I had Rasputin figured out I had to make another version of him that was still recognizable but 20 years younger. I tried to keep his head shape and hair the same and let the story fill in the blanks to connect the young Rasputin the old one.

TFQ: Rasputin is a violent story. Violence is no stranger to comics but how do you feel about telling this story with your art?

Riley: There's some violent content in Rasputin that was uncomfortable to draw in much the same Green Wake. I think in both cases they’re in the service of the story and contribute to the narrative.
way as issues 4 and 5 of

TFQ: Are there other historical characters you'd love to draw?

Riley: Joan of arc, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Jimi Hendrix, Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, Nicola Tesla, Karl Yung , and Lenora Piper. There is a ton more those are just off the top of my head.

Rasputin #1 hits the shelves on October 29th! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Rise of Aurora West

Wow, what's with the shitty publication choice? Aurora West is a spin-off of the New York Times Bestseller Battling Boy. First Second appears to have decided that it shall remain in lowly spin-off status by not allowing it to come in a lovely hardcover full edition format. Instead it's so tiny and floppy. It's basically made with newspaper print so big disappointment when I got this in the mail. Diving into the internet a little further it looks as though there was another printing which was paper over board for 5$ more. This doesn't make me any happier sadly. I really wanted it to look lovely next to my hard covered first printing of Battling Boy, proudly displayed with my many other Paul Pope books. Sadly not that case. I feel like it belongs in a comic box, in plastic so it will not wither away.

Moving on... I should explain that this book is a prequel to Battling Boy and documents the life Aurora led before the Death of Haggard West (story available as a floppy) and is part one in two-part series.

It should be noted that this was not illustrated by Paul Pope. That being the source of some sadness to me. So its seriously lacking that subtle way which Pope pulls each and every panel into a masterpiece. Instead it read like an airport book. Ah well. I had a hard time getting through it to be honest. It's also in black and white. At least my edition came that way. My eyes were wandering all over the page looking for beauty but I started having flash backs to when I read Disney Adventures when I was a kid.

All in all, I was so sad about this whole deal and let down. I kind wish I had not bothered to grab this book at all. SIGH.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Royal Jelly: Top Picks for Oct 15th

I'm late I know but here's a little of what I'm looking forward to checking out tomorrow!

The Death of Wolverine #4 (of 4)
Death of Wolverine Logan's Legacy #1(of 7)
Deadpool's Art of War #1 (of 4)
Manifest Destiny #11

The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang
The Collector by Sergio Toppi

Normally I'd have tons to say but I'm completely swamped right now in every way imaginable so I'm leaving you with a list and some nice covers :) Cheers! I'm sooo digging Deadpool's Art of War cover. How could you not right? Maniacal giggles.

Beauty by Kerascoet & Hubert

The genius behind Miss Don't Touch Me went at it again and I couldn't be happier. Beauty is another timeless treasure with all the charm of a the unabashed fairy tale. Now available in English for the first time, you have to get your hands on this beautifully bound book.

The story is about a young girl, deemed unfortunate looking and suffering through her peasant status in the country side. She's scorned by those around her for smelling of fish. However, by helping out a faerie she is granted her one true wish, to be beauty. Although there are some catches there.. I will not spoil that part for you.

I was swept away in a character who reminded me of my own feelings about growing up. How innocents can be so easily misled. Coddie was a sweet girl of pure intentions who listens to the reasoning of Faerie Mab. She unfortunately does not have the pure intentions but urges Coddie to seek riches through manipulation. She reasons that Coddie is deserves more than just to be the wife of a humble lord. She convinces her that Coddie would not be doing this gift justice. Of course the poor girl doesn't wish to disappoint the faerie. She's met with an onslaught of obstacles as she struggles to find the happiness she thought the gift of beauty would bring while also appeasing Mab.

These types of stories remind me of my initial reaction to the Cinderella story. Being four years of age and yelling at the evil step sisters for tearing Cinderella's dress.. Yelling at a screen of course. This story is more adult in the sense that there are much more serious and realistic consequences to having beauty. It shows how a woman is treated by others whether she is pretty or unattractive, showing the double edged sword quite perfectly. This problems doesn't just exist in fairy tales or feudal times making the story universally relevant.

As Coddie deals with the reaction of others to her perceived beauty and struggles to free herself of the scrutiny of others it's where she ends up that affects the story. It's the ending that ultimately makes this story stand out far from the traditional modern fairy tale and giving women a positive outlook independent of others. Bravo! I couldn't be happier with this ending.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Q&A with Steve Niles on The October Faction

Last week marked the debut for some amazing new horror series. One of those was The October Faction by Steve Niles and Damien Worm. I was really excited to see a new horror series come out of IDW, especially with this wickedly, gothic cover. I drooled over it. I do that from time to time. The story centers around.. oh hell, why don't I just let creator Steve Niles tell you. I contacted him with a few questions. Steve Niles is most famous for 30 Days of Night which has pretty much secured his place among horror royalty as far as I'm concerned.

TFQ: Steve, could you tell me a little bit about how this story came together?

Steve: For most of my career I've done mini-series, usually 4-6 issues so really I created October Faction to be something I can do for a long time (hopefully) and tell a bunch of stories. The premise is really simple; a retired monster hunter tries to keep his family together. It's a creepy world I can throw anything into.

TFQ: How did the creative team form and where did the ideas behind the October Faction come from?

Steve: I found Damien Worm on Facebook of all places. I saw some of his sketchbook stuff and I asked him if he did comics. He sent me some spectacular samples so we did Monster & Madman together at IDW as sort of a test run and I think he did great. He's the kind of artist that grounds the comic firmly in horror and I just love that.

TFQ: When I first picked up this story, I thought that it would be very accessible for young adults because of the school settings. Do you consider this story YA? Or is it targeted for an older audience?

Steve: There will be some mature themes and possibly language now and then but I am trying to keep it accessible to anyone but I wouldn't advise too young. It will still be filled with all kinds of supernatural mayhem and death. At the same time there is a central theme of family and it being okay to be different.

TFQ: Here we have this incredible gothic artwork and limitless possibilities in the supernatural world, does this story become darker or keep a humorous balance?

Steve: It will get very dark at times, but these are people who deflect horror with humor so there will always be lighter moments as well.

TFQ: Can you give us any hints on the types of monster that might find their was into this story?

Steve: Every. Single. One. :)

You can get your copy of The October Faction #1 at your local comic book store right now! 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Wytches #1 *mild spoilers*

Wytches has already sold out completely of their first issue and Image has announced a second printing for all you people who were late to the store yesterday. In case you haven't heard of Wytches because I dunno, maybe you've been living under a rock with no access to social media relating to's the dig from Image:

"Across the globe, century after century, men and women were burned, drowned, hanged, tortured, imprisoned, persecuted, and murdered for witchcraft. None of them were witches. They died protecting a terrible and hidden truth: witches—real witches—are out there. They are ancient, elusive, and deadly creatures that are rarely seen and even more rarely survived."

I love the way this story begins after the initial prologue. There's a Harry Potter reference. I know what you're thinking, this doesn't sound very horror does it? Well keep reading because it's about to get a little disturbing. Wytches lets us see bullies get their due, if you believe in revenge and retribution. I do enjoy a good horror story that involves teenagers though. Maybe that's because I felt like I was personally living in a horror story as a teenager. Maybe I just smoked too much pot... it's hard to say. 

I was pleasantly surprised by this issue. I have enjoyed stories by Snyder on and off over the years. You probably know him best for American Vampire if you're a Vertigo person. That's certainly where I remember him fondly. You may have also had the misfortune to read  Batman Future's End. (I'm going to blame that one on the other guy.)

I'm happy to report that Wytches is making it on my list of monthly subscriptions. You should make sure to order the second printing if you missed out the first time around. The issue is available in two covers, both of which are outstanding.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Dark Engine #3

I wanted to write a brief article about Dark Engine. Here's my two cents in regards to what other critics have been saying about the new series. It seems that many people find the series difficult to follow and are unsure what the plot is. I can agree to this only to a certain extent. In a sense, I do find some of the writing, particularly the narration, a little dodgey to grasp. Most of the story is shrouded in mystery and full of cryptic dialog. I don't think that this makes the story confusing.

The nature of floppies makes them somewhat difficult to follow. Picking up and dropping a story every few weeks means a more complex plot can be easily forgotten and become difficult to keep up with. A story such as Dark Engine where the main character has only just spoken for the first time, can be easily dismissed due to the effort involved to keep up. It's come to my attention that comic book readers don't often like to be challenged. Hence some of the lazier readers out there but this is a small percentage, many of crave the challenge of keeping up with 30 monthly titles (and more).

I don't feel as though Dark Engine falls directly into this "hard to follow" category of books. Not only has this series just begun to take us places, but it's only begun to show us the characters true path. Sym is a mystery and so is her journey. I feel that these critics with their need for instant gratification, clear agendas and over explained plot via script, is just taking the fun out of a good mystery. Quite frankly, if I wanted a story explained to me in detail through narration and scripting, I would read Adventure Time, or hell... I'd watch Gundam *eye roll*

John Biven's artwork as I have said in the past, takes me back to a youthful place in the hay day of Heavy Metal Magazine. I've shared these images with people all over the internet because this artwork is so on right now. Although both uniquely their own, Bivens and Riley Rossmo (Hinterkind) are two artists who's style feels perfectly timed with what I want to see in comic book illustration. I personally keep them on my radar for the future as people who's careers are only going to advance more quickly. Keep an eye on Bivens, because I think he's going to be doing some amazing projects in the future and Dark Engine is just the beginning.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Royal Jelly: Top Picks for October 8th

Oh my goodness so much good this week! SO MUCH AWESOME. My pull list is way more exciting than last week and I didn't think that was going to happen. I had completely forgotten about a few important items.

Neil Gaiman's Last Temptation
Aurora West

Annihilator #2
Copperhead #2
Fish One Shot
The October Faction #1
Dark Engine #3
Punk the Comic #1
Wytches #1

She Hulk Vol 1: Law and Disorder

My week is vastly improved by new work being released by Paul Pope. The Rise of Aurora West part 1 comes out this Wednesday! FINALLY!! I special ordered mine online so I won't get right on release date which is kind sad. So I may have a very late review on that one.

There are lot of first issues out this week. Punk the Comic, The October Faction and Wytches are the three that I'm most excited to check out. Image is also releasing Birthright #1. It's not on my list of grabs but Image has been putting out a lot of buzz on this one so you might want to keep it in your radar.

It's worth mentioning that there is a One Shot I plan to grab called Fish by Bianca Bagnarelli. I noticed a little buzz about it over the last few weeks and decided this was one I had to check out. The artwork is absolutely up my alley. It has an ethereal quality that nearly reminded me of Miyazaki. 

Most likely my favorite comic book of all time is being release in a collected hardcover. The story Miss Don't Touch Me became a favorite of mine after is was given to me by my friend Matthew before he moved away. The french duo known by their pen name Kerascoet, is released yet another amazing work on top of their earlier release in the beginning of the year Beautiful Darkness. This time they release Beauty which is being released in it's English translation this Wednesday. I'm really excited about this one. They are one of my all-time favorite illustrators in the world. You should really check this out.

I'd like to make mention of Annihilator #2 from Legendary. This is Grant Morrison's latest brilliance. I LOVED the first issue and you should really get your hands on it if you haven't. This is one of the most exciting mini series I've seen in a really long time. This is currently out ranking most of my favorite creators' works right now for me and that's really saying something. This science fiction story breaks the barriers when washed up, dying writer Ray and the crumbling walls between fiction and reality.

FINALLY SHE HULK! This is one of those series I've been waiting to join in on. Numerous times of looking at the stands and seeing these amazing covers. My friend Ben had this to say as we discussed it, "Pulido's art is like if Kirby and Ditko gave birth to the Hernandez Bros." That one made me giggle while trying to envisions it literally. 

In other news, I thought I'd mention that Batgirl debut's her new costume this Wednesday with a selfie cover. I thought it was kinda cute and maybe clever. It appeals to a generation that I'm a little ahead of. The selfie things never really made a lot of sense to me. Anyway, her costume is pretty rad and people are pretty excited about it. 

Wow this really does look like a stellar week for female characters in comics doesn't it? ;)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Gotham Academy

I was lucky enough to receive some of the original printings of Becky Cloonan's early works, some of which are now printed in a lovely edition. It puts some perspective on her work with DC. Gotham Academy is co-written with the help of Batgirl's Brenden Fletcher. Although one has a natural inclination to compare this to the Hogwarts experience, the story has found it's own charm. Main character Olive Silverlock is doomed to another year of prep-school. This year begins with the unwanted task of showing her ex boyfriends sister around the school. The school is supposedly haunted among other problems. The students have nicknames for all their less-than-favorite authority figures.

While reading Gotham Academy, it's easy to forget that you're in the DC universe until Bruce Wayne shows up to give a speech to the students. This is because he is a major financial contributor to the institution. After he's gone, you tend to forget he was even there and follow the kids on their first adventure which is finding friendships in unlikely places. It all gets tied up in the end when the Bat signal is seen within the clouds. While some still think Batman is a myth, the children come to their own conclusions and Olive becomes a hero in a place where superpowers appear to be absent.

This is a pretty different kind of experience for DC. I'm curious to see where it goes. So far I'd say this is suitable for children. Let's see where it goes.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Thor #1

Fiona Staples Variant Cover
ARGH you don't get to meet the new Thor. I mean, she shows up at then end but it doesn't have any more detail than that which is sort of disappointing. There is however, an excellent tie up of all the chaos surrounding the unworthy Thor. There's some sexist sort of bickering between Gods but I'm going to assume it's because they're old fashioned and sexist. Thor's mother however is very much standing her ground to her husband's force and she speaks freely so I'm not certain sexist is the right terms. It's a good foreshadowing for the awesome woman power that is about to come I think. Nice lead in.

What do you think of all these variant covers? I'm absolutely in love with Fiona Staples cover and of course that's the one I got my hands on! OOO it's so lovely. I am a little bias because I really love Fiona Staples work as many people have come to do since the birth of Saga.

I feel I should do a big shout out to my friend Nev's for his review on this issue. He addresses more of the reaction to this whole Thor as a woman thing that has sparked ignorant, mysoginistic comments like nothing else in the comic book world can. Read Nev's take on this HERE.

Is it wrong that I sort of felt too intelligent to entertain the trolls about why the role of Thor will be played by a woman for a while? I keep thinking back to Superman's Death. Look how long that lasted... like 2 years? Maybe my marketing background has made me callous to these types of things. Superman's Death was really successful for the franchise. I think Thor as a woman has served it's purpose as well. Hey, it's the first Thor comic I've read in about ... omg... like 5 years or something?

From a feminist standpoint, I'm elated that there's a new female hero and I hope her character is as strong and positive as us feminists all hope her to be. Maybe I'm getting too jaded to the MRA pandering and misogyny of internet trolls and comic book fans. I've had my fair share of it over the years. I didn't feel like entertaining the ridiculous accusations, theories and delusional comments that surmounted over the threat of female Thor. It actually made me laugh/cry for how ridiculous the comments on the twitter-sphere and elsewhere had become. They haven't stopped either.

 At any rate, rather than get into it further I urge you to read Nev's article and read this excellent comic. I really enjoyed this first issue and loved the artwork which I wasn't 100% sure on until I picked up the issue.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Silver Surfer #6

This is really great. I think I giggled on every page. Wait, I'm still giggling...wait... okay I'm done.

So about two weeks ago I did an interview with Dan Slott and asked him about the future of the Silver Surfer and his coming adventures with Dawn Greenwood. He explained to me how Dawn came into being for one but he hinted at future adventures. You can read all that awesomeness right HERE.

Dan gave us some damn good information and as you probably know if you've been reading the series, issue six marks the beginning of a new story arc. So what do they do first? The eat a lot. I mean a lot! The Silver Surfer hadn't really thought about the fact that humans need to eat and use the bathroom quite often. Three meals a day!? WHAT? It's food that leads them to planet Prime where super fun chaos ensues. I won't spoil it because there are plenty of cute gags throughout the whole adventure. It's also the first all-in-one contained adventure I've read in a Marvel comic in a long time. This floppy has a beginning and end so it's make it a great place for people to jump right in and get to know our characters a little before they launch into something that spans a few issues.

All joking aside, and it's difficult to see the panel through giggles sometimes, I think this is my favorite issue in terms of art. My reasoning behind this is due to the action scenes that take place on planet Prime. Again I have to commend Laura Allred for her awesome coloring. I really enjoy the colors all the way through the series. They're so vibrant. Mike Allred's talent which is always on spotlight in the series, really shows in his action scenes with the movement he creates. You'll see what I mean when the surfer runs into the mysterious character on the cover known as Warrior Prime.

I think you'll enjoy the concept created for this strange new Planet. It really does have a sort of silly Star Trek feel to it and speaking as a recovering Trekie (I'm only recovering because I'm still mourning the loss of Janeway, I know that was forever ago), this really appeals to me.

I'm highly anticipating the release of the first trade paper because I really think my nieces would like this. I don't think the perils of space are too scary for them. They're five going on 13 and deadly into superheros right now but then again, who isn't?