Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 7/14/2017

Welcome back, Donist World Denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie* (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / Spider-Bostie Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). Before we jump right in, I just have to mention that Amy the Intern (my wife) and I went and saw Spider-Man: Homecoming this past weekend and we loved it. Amy actually said it was hands down the best superhero movie she has ever seen, which is high praise from someone who just saw and enjoyed Wonder Woman. I will definitely be buying Spider-Man: Homecoming when it comes out on Blu-ray. Anyhow…comics. I had four comics in my pull this week, two of which I have not yet had time to read, and the new issue of Deadly Class #29 by Rick Remender and Wes Craig is very highly recommended and amazing, but it’s the new issue discussed below that rocked the socks off the Donist World executive team. So, before you dive in, grab a tasty beer or refreshing iced tea, relax, and while you’re at it check out some great comics. Thank you for reading!

*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magics mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Friday Slice of Heaven

Mage: The Hero Denied #0

Written and Illustrated by Matt Wagner, colored by Brennan Wagner, lettered by Dave Lanphear, design and production by Steven Birch, published by Image Comics. Boy howdy, Denizens, I have been waiting a good long while for this one, and when I heard the news a few months ago that Matt Wagner was going to be releasing the concluding chapter of Mage, I had to check to be sure it wasn’t April Fool’s Day or some such nonsense; it wasn’t. So, here we are in 2017, and I am super pumped to be holding a new issue #0 in my trembling hands.

This 12-page prelude is probably not necessary to jumping into next month’s 15-issue main series, but if you are a Mage fanatic like me, it is absolutely vital that you pick it up. It is also vital is that you start at the beginning of this epic hero’s journey in order to better understand, love, become frustrated with, and feel for our hero, Kevin Matchstick. The first chapter is Mage: The Hero Discovered (first half and second half), the second is Mage: The Hero Defined, with the third and final act being Mage: The Hero Denied. Again, you need to read these things in order. Trust me, you will be well-rewarded for taking the time to get to know the ragtag cast of characters and celebrate their tremendous victories as well mourn their terrible defeats.

All of that said — and there’s a whole heapin’ helpin’ more on the subject of Mage below — this brief reintroduction does not disappoint. As he waits for the big bad monster to make its appearance, Kevin meets a younger, newer hunter named Steeze, a big-talkin’, know-it-all with a ’90s-comic look and a skateboarding set of powers that work well enough, but his general lack of experience quickly puts him in harm’s way and it’s up to Kevin to save him. Kevin is older now, balding, and more confident, but still dresses in his standard black t-shirt with a white lightning bolt, jeans, sneakers, and trench coat. He also possesses some electrifying new abilities. He’s bad ass and he knows it…which has been a problem with Kevin in the past and looks to be a problem in the near future.

To put it mildly, I’m in.

Wagner’s son provides the lovely colors atop Wagner’s gorgeous art and from the very first page, I was brought back to the magical world of Mage as if the decades since the first issue had never happened. I am super excited for the emotionally-wrought final tale upon which we are about to embark. I know there’s going to be laughs and an equal amount of sorrows to follow in these final 15 issues, but I will be there, eagerly awaiting each issue as the epic tale of Kevin Matchstick finally comes to a close. I can’t wait! Magic is green, Denizens. Magic is green!


Mage: The Hero Discovered

Written and Illustrated by Matt Wagner, inks by Matt Wagner and Sam Keith, colored by Jeromy Cox and James Rochelle, published by Image Comics. I have made a HUGE mistake, Denizens. In all the years that I have been writing Donist World, with all the praise and love I have heaped on countless comics, I somehow failed to talk about the Mage series. I don’t know how I could have possibly missed mentioning this heavenly comic, but I’m positive it was originally on a curated list of comics to mention that somehow got misplaced. To be honest, when I saw Mage: The Hero Denied #0 in my poll, it popped into my head that I would definitely have to reference an early post where I gushed about this pivotal series. I did a search. It wasn’t there.

Let’s right this wrong.

I actually came to Mage a bit late. In fact, I first discovered Matt Wagner through his Grendel: Devil by the Deed collection which I received for Christmas back in the mid-eighties — I later went on to read and love Wagner’s Grendel series as well. Before that, it was an ad in the back of publisher Comico’s Elementals (written and illustrated by Bill Willingham) that initially put Wagner on my comic radar. Still, it wasn’t until my high school drafting class, after discovering a mutual love of Grendel, that my friend Billy sold me on the need to get into Mage.

Unfortunately, my LCS only had some of the back issues on hand, and they were a bit out of my price range at the time, but they did have the first (and only) two volumes of Magebook which collected issues 1–8. I devoured them with a feverish fervor and promptly read them again to tide me over until I could get back to the LCS and pick up issues 10 and 11 which were still on the shelves; it would be a while before I could get my hands on a copy of missing issue #9. The wait between new issues was painful, but Billy and I had much to talk about back in 1986, with the release of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, The Watchmen, Miracleman and Saga of the Swamp Thing blowing our minds. It was a damn good time for comics, one I doubt will ever be repeated, but Mage was there riding the waves of greatness along with the other big-time comics, yet never quite managing to garner the praise and acclaim those other books would go on to receive.

I can still picture seeing issue #14 on the new release table at Andromeda Books in Goleta, California, and the heart-skipping thrill of finding issue #15 on the stands at Andromeda Books in Santa Barabara; the story and art of each was more than I could have ever hoped for. By the end, I was a little heartbroken over the cost Kevin’s quest had taken upon him and those he loved, but his victory was still glorious, and I have reread this series every other year since it ended — come to think of it, I’m about due for another read. The best thing about the end of the final issue, though, was the “Coming Soon” page soliciting the next chapter.

11 years later, and after bugging the poor LCS workers for the first five of those years for news of Mage: The Hero Defined, it finally appeared at my current LCS, Metro Comics. Of course, there were the four, four-page installments of new Mage material in Grendel #16–19, that got me good and pumped early in those 11 years, but by the time I found an actual new zero issue sitting on the shelf, I had all but given up hope of seeing the second, let alone the third chapter.

Nearly a decade after Mage: The Hero Defined wrapped, Amy and I attended our first comic convention at the San Diego Comic Con, where I got to meet Matt Wagner and he graciously signed my Mage: The Hero Discovered #1 and 6, Grendel: Behold the Devil #0, and my hardcover Grendel Archives, inside of which he drew a quick little Grendel sketch. All of these items will be buried with me in my tomb at the time of my death when I turn 112. I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it is to meet one of your greatest heroes and find out they’re as nice of a person as they are a master of their craft.

The only negative I have to say about the current collections of Mage is that I prefer the original colors on the series, which I believe were achieved by Wagner blowing through a special type of marker to achieve an airbrushed look to the comic — it’s stunning, but whatchagonnado. At least I have all of the original issues, the two Magebooks, and the two softcover collections to fit my mood…all of which will accompany me in my aforementioned tomb.

So, that all said, what is all the fuss about Mage? What’s it all about? Well, I can’t say much other than it’s the story of Kevin Matchstick who’s down on his luck only to find that a chance encounter with a street beggar sets him on a path of heroics against the demonic forces of evil. On his journey, Kevin meets Mirth, Edsel, Sean, Joe, Kirby, and Wally and you will fall in love with them all. There is a twist to the story that occurs near the end of the first chapter, but I’m not about to spoil it for you. You MUST read this series, Denizens. It’s a Donist World Darling of the highest degree, and something ALL fans of great comics need to experience. It’s definitely one of my top 10 favorite comic series of all time and…actually, come to think of it, make that top five. You need to get on this!


Slice into the Woods

Please Just Put #45 and All of His Scum in Jail Already - Before they can commit any further damage. “Stupid Watergate” needs to end.


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 7/7/2017

Welcome back, Donist World Denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie* (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / BBQ beauty Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). Yup, I know I’m late, Denizens, but I have a good reason. You see, it was Amy the intern (my wife) and my 13-year wedding anniversary this past Thursday. We decided to do it up in style and skip out on exercising to hit up Figueroa Mountain Brewery for a beer followed by a dinner of Spanish-style tapas at Loquita, and later that evening watching some romantic television once we got home: Supernatural season 12. Now, I would have forgotten about our celebration if not for the efforts of my Boston terrier executive team greeting me at the Donist World corporate office (Mom’s basement) in matching black bowties with an already picked out anniversary card and reservations already called in. Man, my team is the best. Anyhow, sorry for being late, but I had a good reason. So, grab a tasty beer or refreshing iced tea, relax, and while you’re at it check out some great comics. Thank you for reading!

*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magics mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Friday Slice of Heaven

The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye

Everythinged by Sonny Liew, published by Pantheon Books. Yes, Denizens, as far as I can tell Liew illustrated, researched, wrote, lettered, and colored this lovely hardcover OGN (original graphic novel). He did it all. But as impressive as it is to create every aspect of a book outside of the physical printing of it, this is the least noteworthy aspect of this must-own treasure, which is saying something as the art, writing, lettering, colors, and production are all spectacular in their own right. What lofts The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye to the realm of a masterpiece is how fluidly Liew changes up his art style to mimic the popular styles of the times. He does this while simultaneously giving us an intimate look into the life of artist Charlie Chan Hock Chye as he grows from a child to an old man all while the history of Singapore unfolds around him.

The story begins in 1948 when 10-year-old Chan is working in his father’s store and devoting any and all free time to drawing anything he can find. He also has a love of manga and American and European comics which spurs him to create his own work, eventually catching the attention of Bertrand, who becomes his friend and partner in their endeavors to create their own comic book series. Bertrand writes, Chan draws, and the pair’s work shifts from giant robots to futuristic science fiction to cartoony wartime comics all the while incorporating more and more of Singapore’s political and social matters into their works: British colonialism, the formation of Malaysia, feuding political parties, extreme nationalism, and the myriad of abuses of those in power.

As we follow Chan on his nearly 70-year career as a comic book artist, we see his art style change to reflect inspirations from Osamu Tezuka, to that of “funny animal” comics that offer thinly-veiled social commentary. On his sci-fi jaunt, you see the influence of Wallace Wood, while his crime-fighting superhero, Roachman, borrows some of his design from the likes of The Shadow only with superpowers given by the bite of a mysterious cockroach, purportedly predating our own Spider-Man. There are even some Mad magazine-esque moments that dangerously parody the story of Singapore through the use of two comedians. Not only do we see yellowed pages, or taped on panels, or the halftone dots found in the comics of the time, we witness the art style also change during Chan’s interviews and when showing the interviewer (Sonny Liew). Intermixed within the pages are newspaper articles, photographs, acrylic paintings, and a whole host of other media to make this one of the most artistically diverse books by a single creator I have ever read.

The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye hooked me with the inside cover and kept me amazed all the way through to the end. It’s been some time since I’ve read an OGN that made me go “Wow! Everyone needs to experience this book.” As a historical piece, it works. As a work of art, it is a staggering display of Liew’s range and mastery of storytelling and illustration. As a biographical story of a famed artist, it is without compare…despite the fact that Charlie Chan Hock Chye is a fictional character. You read that right, Denizens. Charlie Chan Hock Chye never existed. He is entirely Liew’s creation, only he is given so much life, so much personality, and his story is told in such an authoritative manner that it is nearly impossible to believe Chan is not real. But after reading this amazing work, Chan became real to me. I love him, I love his amazing body of work which doesn't actually exist; I truly wish it did. Buy this book and experience this wonderful story as soon as you can, it desperately requires your immediate attention.


Seven to Eternity #7

Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by James Harren, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Even though Opeña is taking a break over the next few issues, when I found the newest issue of the spectacular Seven to Eternity sitting in my pull, my heartbeat increased because I knew Remender had left us in good hands with James Harren. You might remember from a few weeks ago that I gushed over Harren’s art on the incredibly fun Rumble (written by John Arcudi), where he drew some amazing monsters and brought to life one badass scarecrow god. I can think of no better title for him to follow up on than the Donist World Darling Seven to Eternity.

This month, we split from Adam Osidis and the Mud King in order to follow the rest of the Mosak crew who recently joined with Adam’s daughter, Katie, a woman with a mysterious ability to control animals. Katie has tracked her father only to find the Mosak surrounding the fallen Jevalia who is losing herself to the will of the swamp Adam left her to die in. The situation is dire.

Remender continues to do no wrong with any of his many heavenly series and Seven to Eternity has quickly become my favorite of the favorites. The story is not hurt in the slightest with guest-artist Harren, who is a great fit to this epic fantasy series. In fact, I would LOVE it if Remender and Harren created a prequel Seven to Eternity mini-series to immerse their readers in as we continue to move forward in this dire yet gorgeous world. You can catch up on this amazing series with the first trade, which will definitely leave you hungry for more more more. Dang, this series is out of this world.


Slice into the Woods

POTUS #45 Continues to Embarrass the USA - I am dreadfully late, but just wanted to point out how #45 finally got some dreamy man-on-man-on-man time with Putin and Tillerson this week in a behind-closed-doors meeting that was supposed to last 30 minutes but actually went on for more than 120 minutes. God, Stupid Watergate just continues to go on and on and on.


Friday, June 30, 2017

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 6/30/2017

Welcome back, Donist World Denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie* (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / puppy patriot Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). Awwww yeah, Denizens. We’re talkin’ about a four-day weekend, y’all. I'm all about blueberry muffins, pizza, beer, and possibly some McConnell’s mint chip ice cream. Heck, some mint iced tea might be in order if the temperature happens to creep up too much. Here at the corporate office (Mom’s basement), we’re keeping the meeting about maintaining our Fortune 320,000 status to a tight schedule so we can have a nice puppy-Donist-puppy lunch and cut out a little early before the traffic gets too bad. So, while we prepare to join the masses on the drive home, pour yourself a refreshing beer or ginger ale, put out your flag, DO NOT light fireworks (we’re still in a drought, are you insane?), sit down, strap in, and think about those comics you might have skipped all those years ago. Thank you for reading!

*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magics mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Ones that Got Away (Part 3)

“What the heck kind of doggone title is that, Donist?! Do we need to be worried about you?! Are you okay?!” Never fear, Denizens, all is well with the Donist and Donist World. I just happened to be sitting in our conference room — the area roped off by hanging sheets in Mom’s basement — and thinking about all of the comics I wanted to read throughout the years but had missed for one reason or another. As I thought about them, I realized there were tons of series that snuck by me somehow, and I’m not even counting any comics from the past two decades. So, let’s have a look and see what can be done about this now that we are in the age of the internet where online shopping and digital services can help remedy this dire situation. As I prepare to stumble into the confessional booth, I want to hear about your regrets concerning comics you missed out on over the years, so please let me know about them by posting a comment. I’m happy to lend an ear, to commiserate, to help you work through the emotions and try to find a way to move on. Together, we can set things right. (You can check out “Part 1” and “Part 2.”)

The Uncanny X-Men

Written by Chris Claremont, illustrated by Dave Cockrum, published by Marvel Comics. Okay, okay, settle down, Denizens. I know you’re fiercely typing, “How can you call yourself a comic book fan and never have read the freakin’ best run of the X-Men ever?!?!” The truth is that I have read most of the Claremont X-Men run, but I missed a bunch of the early issues and then dropped off a bit after the time John Romita, Jr. came on as artist. You see, my brother, Jeff, and I started around issue #149 and it was love at first sight. From that issue forward, in-between his obsession with Daredevil and my fanaticism over The Micronauts, we spent our summers walking down to Andromeda Book Store two to three times a week to plague the poor LCS workers’ existence with demands to haul out their back issues of The Uncanny X-Men so we could drool over all of the older issues we had missed and could not afford. Even back then, those first few issues starring the new roster including Colossus, Storm, Nightcrawler, and Wolverine were well out of our price range, but issue #140 which, although expensive, was part of our reality and would soon become the oldest issue of our collection. Still, we would make the trek to the LCS and we would dream of everything that came before.

In an effort to torment ourselves even further, we bought a black and white magazine that showed every single cover of The Uncanny X-Men ever printed (sorry, I don’t remember the magazine’s title) and we would ponder aloud about why the Proletariat looked like Colossus, or what the deal was with the Phoenix.  Thankfully, we wouldn’t have to wait too terribly long. Marvel soon realized the limitations of having a massive hit comic that tons of new fans desperately wanted to read yet they could not find the back issues needed to get the whole story. Thus, Marvel released The Dark Phoenix Saga trade in 1984. Jeff and I reread this book so many times it literally fell apart in our hands after a couple of years. Now, after all these years — and a helluva Marvel digital sale — I have X-Men Epic Collection: Second Genesis just waiting to be read.

Wanna know what’s in it? Okay, best strap in for the rundown of everything contained in this beastly 528-page beauty. Here’s what you get: Giant-Size X-Men #1, The Uncanny X-Men #94–110, Marvel Team-Up #53, 69–70, Marvel Team-Up Annual #1, Iron Fist #14–15, material from Foom #10. So, yeah, this one’s gonna keep me busy for a good long while. I honestly can’t wait to dive back into the issues I’ve already read and even more so to immerse myself in the many issues I’ve been dying to read for all these years. So exciting!


Written by Chris Claremont, mostly illustrated by Alan Davis, published by Marvel Comics. Alright, Denizens. You have full permission to get on my case about this one. You have to realize, though, that at the time, I was already behind on the whole New Mutants tip, so you gotta forgive me this one. I also have to admit that although I love Nightcrawler, the rest of the gang did little for me. I could not understand why Captain Britain had a new costume, or what the deal was with Kitty Pryde, Rachel Summers, and Meggan. Trust me, if I had a few extra bucks laying around, I would have been happy to give this title a chance, but the truth was funds were limited and there were many books calling my name.

I then started to hear more and more about Alan Davis and his gorgeous art, but it was the Captain Britain graphic novel written by Alan Moore and featuring Davis’s illustrations that showed me I had greatly underestimated ol’ Brian Braddock. At this point, I knew more of the characters and wanted to see how the UK’s heroes mixed with the US’s characters, especially when it became clear that Claremont was the one writing the stories. Unfortunately, there were a lot of books I had missed, so I just had to let it go…until now.

With the Excalibur Epic Collection: The Sword is Drawn, we have yet another behemoth of a book clocking in at 496 pages of what looks to be a heavenly series. In this collection you will find the following: Captain Britain 1–2, Excalibur 1–11, Excalibur: The Sword is Drawn, Excalibur: Mojo Mayhem, The Mighty World of Marvel #7, 14–15, Marvel Comics Presents #31–38. Hot diggity dog, I’m excited to finally check out the world of Excalibur, however, it will be a little while before I can crack into it, but when I do, the Denizens will be the first to know.

Batman: A Death in the Family

Written by Jim Starlin and Marv Wolfman, illustrated by Jim Aparo and George Perez, published by DC Comics. Ummmm...yeahhhhh. Huge Starlin fan here. I definitely love me some Wolfman, too. And that Perez guy, the one who is currently wowing me with his amazing past work on Wonder Woman…love everything he’s done. But…I. Haven’t. Read. This. Series. Daggnabbit! I know. I’ve not just disappointed all of you, Denizens, I’ve disappointed myself. This coming from the guy who worships Starlin and Perez’s (not to forget Ron Lim’s) work on The Infinity Gauntlet and still I have persisted in not reading this series. This is something I need to change.

Part of the reason for not picking up this series back in the ’80s was I remember being turned off by the notion that someone had to die in this comic, and it seemed a bit much that DC was accepting votes by telephone to determine which character would end up buying the farm. It was all kind of heartless. Despite reading some fairly brutal comics from the likes of Frank Miller and Alan Moore, I guess I was fine with Batman being a dark comic, but offing Robin — or rather, one of the Robins — seemed a bit sensationalist. But what did I know? I was just a kid.

Now it looks like I need to finally see what all the fuss was about and crawl up under the hood of this popular storyline. It’s on the “Need to Read” list, and I hope to delve into Batman: A Death in the Family before the end of the year. I’m especially curious as to what the Denizens think about the death in this issue and about the storyline as a whole. Let me know! This volume contains Batman 426–429 and 440–442, and New Teen Titans #60–61.

Slice into the Woods

POTUS #45 Continues to Embarrass the USA - I am totally not surprised that this treasonous buffoon is throwing a lie-riddled Twitter-tantrum about a couple of television news show hosts. I could go on and on about the countless other things this sociopath is doing (you know, like treason, obstruction of justice, cronyism, etc.), but I don’t want to go to bed mad. Counting the days until impeachment with the hope of an arrest being the cherry on top.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 6/23/2017

Welcome back, Donist World Denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie* (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / heat hater Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). Dang, Denizens, with the heatpocalypse going on around the country, my puppy executive team and I are ever thankful for the June gloom that has been keeping things on the cooler side, and we also appreciate the concrete flooring of the Donist World corporate office (Mom’s basement) helping things stay bearable. This week, we only had one comic in our pull and we were unable to make it down to the ol’ LCS in time for this post. So, what better time than to revisit “Keeping Up with the Trades” for a book I have been sitting on for at least the past two years. So, brew up some mint-flavored sweet tea (don’t overdo it on the sugar), put on some chill tunes, and check out some great comic books. Thank you for reading!

*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magics mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Keeping Up with the Trades

I read a lot of comic books, Denizens, and not just the Wednesday new releases. Actually, I have tons of older comics, trades, rereads, and digital comics I read every week. Unfortunately, I sometimes forget to mention some of these awesome titles, but no longer. In “Keeping Up with the Trades,” I will pick a selection of heavenly titles I recently read, love, and that you all need to know about. I hope you enjoy them.

Vampirella: The Essential Warren Years Volume One

Predominantly written by Archie Goodwin, T. Casey Brennan, Steve Englehart, and Flaxman Loew; mostly illustrated by Tom Sutton, Jose Ortiz, and José Gonzalez; published by Dynamite Entertainment. I’ve mentioned the store Click (now called Acme) a few times over the course of Donist World’s existence and how it was fundamental to nourishing not only my love of sci-fi and horror but to my love and adoration of the comic book medium as a whole. But in order to properly talk about this beautiful yet flawed (more on that later) collection of the first 37 issues of the Vampirella magazine by Warren, I need to hop in the Way-Back Machine and transport you to Akron, OH in the late '70s.

Long before Lebron James moved onto the property where I used to live (he’s still there), and during the time that a young Jeffrey Dahmer (he lived less than two miles away) might very well have crossed my brother and my paths while we played in creek across the road, I was solidifying my deep love of sequential storytelling. I had already become enchanted by Bernie Wrightson’s masterful storytelling and his uncanny understanding of anatomy and horror with Swamp Thing #10, and I would soon learn what it meant to be a comic book collector with my introduction to the heavenly The Micronauts series, but it was my first trip to Click where I first fell in love with the Warren magazines.

Now, you have to remember this was the ’70s and it was perfectly normal for my mom to drop my brother and me in the magazine section while she went off to do the days shopping. Jeff and I would then comb through the magazines for a bit, roam to the toy aisle, head upstairs near the front to the pet section to have a look at the scorpions and reptiles and wonder who it was who bought “Monkey Chow.” This is usually where Mom found us before we began begging for her to buy us one of the various treasures we had found along the way. Anyhow, we spent most of our time in the magazine section where I would move counter-clockwise from the sci-fi and horror section where I would peruse the Famous Monsters, Starlog, and somewhat unsettling Fangoria magazines before completing the rounds at the illustrated section which featured the likes of Creepy, Eerie, Heavy Metal, and — blessed be — Vampirella. These oversized, black and white comics had everything a boy could ever want: there were monsters, robots, spaceships, stunning art, battles, and mayhem as far as the eye could see. But they also had something else, something new, something my superhero comics didn’t have: beautifully illustrated and oftentimes naked women.

N-A-U-G-H-T-Y. Naughty. By golly, those magazines could be naughty. Yes, Marvel had Red Sonja in her chainmail bikini slaying marauders and demons alike, but Vampirella – and some of those other Warren mags at Click — offered even more for a young, impressionable mind to see. I was still very much interested in the monsters and aliens, but…yeah…nekkid ladies. Of course, there was no way my mom would buy the book for me given the covers, so when we moved out to California, my time with Vampirella came to an end. That is, until last year.

Vampirella tells the story of, well, Vampirella, a woman from the planet Drakulon who is forced to flee her world when the rivers of blood run dry. She comes to Earth and quickly finds herself plagued with the choice of feasting upon humans or dying of starvation. Her adventures lead her to friendship (Pendragon), to love (Adam Van Helsing), enemies (the Cult of Chaos), and the discovery of a special serum that slakes her eternal hunger for 24 hours. Most all of the chapters are done-in-ones with an overarching story running throughout. There are madmen, witches, demons, gods, and ghosts to send chills and thrills on every page. The thing about reading this 450+ page book, is that most all of it is exceptionally well-crafted, especially when it comes to the Goodwin segments. Each of his chapters, as well as that of many of the others, have that Warren tone, that unexpected twist that longtime fans of these magazines love so dearly.

The art at the beginning of the collection is fine, but when Gonzalez’s art first appears, there is a shocking, glorious shift in the visual style that forever changed the course of the book. When I think of Vampirella, it’s Gonzalez’s fine lines, character acting, and superb storytelling that comes to mind. It’s also the drop-dead sexy way he portrays not just Vampirella, but both the other women in the story and, come to think of it, some of the men as well. His use of quick, yet delicate lines for the curve of a hip, or the intricacies in the frills of a ruffled shirt, or the details found in a mansion’s decor lead me to think that Gonzalez had worked in advertising or the fashion industry to some degree before applying his skills to sequential storytelling. What affected me most were each of the introductory splash pages which I would love to blow up to triple size and frame to hang throughout the house like a movie poster. His illustrations are lovely and I am now eager to find what other work he has out there waiting for me to discover.

One thing you will not find in this collection, however, is full-on nudity. Vampi’s…ummm, battle outfit…may not leave much to the imagination, but it’s what you don’t see that makes her so sexy. I’m reminded of the joke that men used to say in regard to Playboy magazine: “I read it for the articles.” With Vampirella: The Essential Warren Years, it’s safe to say the articles, or rather the stories, are almost as great as the art and they mostly stand up to the test of time. My only two complaints are that there is no second volume, and the first printing is missing four pages in one of the stories to the point that I have no idea what happened. Despite those two quibbles, I greatly enjoyed reading this fantastic blast from the past.


Slice into the Woods

No Additional Negativity for Today, #45 - I’ve spent too much time being dismayed about #45 and his band of criminal sociopaths. As more and more revelations come to light, the hope for impeachment rises, and I ever hold out for some legitimate jail time for these monumental morons.