Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 11/21/2014

(Sung to the tune of Prince’s “When You Were Mine”)

Read Deadly Class
It’s worth a bit of your money
It is sublime
You can’t go wrong

She-Hulk’s a scream
Tell all your friends that it is a treat
The Technopriests’s so strange
Jodorowsky sci-fi awesomeness that’s sure neat

Oh girl, comics so fine
Tons of good books only heaven knows
Give ’em your time
Maybe that’s the reason
Gotta tell you so

Hi there denizens! Welcome back to Donist World. I am joined by CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / Kindle expert Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). I have to admit to you all that we are collectively feeling a bit surly this week, so we’ll keep this brief, lest we snap at anyone. As it is, none of us are really talking all that much to each other, instead we are working away at maintaining our status as a Fortune 320,000 company and truth be told…doing the I’m-so-tired-I-could-pass-out head bob at our respective desks here at the corporate office (my mom’s basement). The unfortunate thing is our tower of unread comic books are teetering in the corner and we are too exhausted to read them right now, yet the coffee (the second attempt after the first spilled everywhere…grrrrrrr) has jacked us up beyond being able to sleep. We call this state of being “the void of irritability,” which does not make sense, since a void encapsulates absolute nothingness, but just go with this being a void that contains nothing other than irritability. Dang, now I’m confusing myself.

Anyways, before we get to all things heavenly, I need to clarify something about the all-ages book I just released through for the Kindle. I ran into a friend at the store and in catching up told her about my new book Kibbles ’N’ Bots. She was excited to read it, but when she learned that it is thus far only available digitally on the Kindle, she was sad to say that she could not read it because she does not own a Kindle. Here’s the thing: you don’t need to own a Kindle device to read my book. If you have a Smartphone (iPhone, Android, Google phone, etc.), or you own a tablet (iPad, Surface, Nexus, etc.), or own a personal computer, then you are set. All you have to do is install the FREE Kindle App for your Smartphones or tablets, or download the free Kindle Reader on your computer. You can read the details here. It’s as simple as that! If you can, help me out and buy my $2.99 ebook (or free from Kindle Unlimited and Lending Library), and get a fun read about a comic-book-inspired Boston terrier puppy with superpowers fighting off a robot menace. In short, the book stars none other than Tulip and Obie as puppies! I hope you give it a chance. And now…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Deadly Class #9
Deadly Class #9 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, Colored by Lee Loughridge, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Even if Deadly Class was not the only comic in my pull this week, it is pretty safe to say it would have been one of my favorite new books of the week. Remender has been on a creator-owned tear over the past year with this title, Black Science, and my favorite of the exceptional bunch, Low. All three comic series are showcases in compelling storytelling, exceptional visuals, and top-notch production. All three series are works of art worthy of displaying on your best book shelf, not to mention using as possible entry points into the world of comics for your more mature friends — these titles are not for the kiddies. The thing is…if you’ve been reading Deadly Class, then you have most likely already read this issue and loved it. Heck, it was probably the first comic you read from this week’s comics haul.

A flashback of Maria’s past. A modern display of her prowess as a ruthless assassin. A glimpse of a young woman falling apart at the seams. Marcus has tried to be a caring boyfriend, but a few other things weigh heavily on his mind: finding Chester and putting him permanently in the dirt; the mysterious-but-beautiful Saya. If Maria finds out about her boyfriend's wandering eye things will get ugly fast.

We have been back at the King’s Dominion High School for the Deadly Arts for a couple of issues now, and little has progressed in the hunt for Marcus’s nemesis, Chester. This is fine. Instead, we have spent issues 7–9 discovering more about Marcus’s messed up past, learned a little about Maria’s brutal history, and were introduced to a new student while being reintroduced to a few of the personalities on campus. That said, Marcus and his gang are poised to take all the skills they possess and descend upon Chester and his group of inbred murderers, and hopefully gain control of the long-dead Chico’s body. The way Remender has set up the emotional entanglements among Marcus, Maria, and Saya, I have a strong feeling the assault will become…complicated, which is part of the allure of this title.

The Craig and Loughridge art and color team are as visually strong as ever with this issue, but it is the Maria flashback sequence from the first seven pages that are the most stunning. I paused on each panel and went back twice to see the progression from one to the next and the emotional power given through the weight of the colors. It’s all rather phenomenal and simply needs to be seen. There are also some great character designs at work: the old man dressed all in white who throws fire, the mountainous preacher, the boy, and El Alma del Diablo (or “The Soul of the Devil”) are all striking characters I hope to see back some day. There are some fantastic knockout panels with the fire effects, but it is pages six and seven where we see what happened to Maria’s father and we catch a glimpse into Maria’s terrible fate where the artists truly shine. Loughridge throws down a primarily monochromatic orange coloring scheme with the complementary purple of the sky being the exception that thrusts the imagery off the page. Craig adds to the effect of his already stunning line work by intermixing standard background gutters and roughly painted gutters that partially break up what we are seeing. The final three panels on page seven call back to the beauty of issue six’s concluding full-page splash. Again, you really need to see each page to believe it.

There are other stunning moments in the book like when Maria takes down Viktor, and when Marcus and Saya are slam dancing at the club (beautiful analogous color schemes, btw), but having striking art throughout the book comes standard in an issue of Deadly Class, as does the engrossing story. But, again, if you read this comic, you already know all of this. If not, then by golly, what is the hold up?! You can easily catch up with the first Deadly Class TPB, which is only $9.99 retail and contains the first six issues, meaning you only have three issues after that to be fully caught up. Then, denizens, you will be in the sad/joyous boat the rest of us are in…eagerly anticipating the next heavenly issue. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

She-Hulk #1
She-Hulk #1–3 - Written by Charles Soule, illustrated by Javier Pulido, colored by Muntsa Vicente, lettered by Clayton Cowles (Hey! I know this guy!), published by Marvel Comics. Here’s the deal, denizens: I am only buying one comic apiece from the Big Two these days. For Marvel, that comic is Hawkeye (can you really count this one as buying given the massive delays?) from Marvel and Swamp Thing from DC. Now, this is not a statement that I hate either of these publishers — nothing is further from the truth — I just needed a break from the tights and punching and crazy superhero stuff that’s been going on for a while now. My tastes are currently geared more toward the sci-fi, the drama, the horror, and the fantasy versus the “Zounds!” and the “never fear…I’ll save you!” and the events. The thing is, sometimes great books happen at the Big Two when you aren’t looking. There are titles out there greatly deserving of your attention that might get obscured by the razzle dazzle of the multitudes of other titles. This is true of Avengers Arena, Superior Foes of Spider-Man, and now the awesome She-Hulk. 

Jennifer Walters is known to the world as She-Hulk: beautiful, strong, fierce. To a lesser degree, she is an attorney, and a dang-fine attorney at that. But when the law firm that employs her threatens to fire her if she does not bring in any of her rich superhero friends on as clients, she does what anyone who has been insulted to the core of their being does: she quits. Now with her own law firm and a fresh start, she has no clients, that is until a woman shows up with a grievance against none other than Tony Stark. Then, with friends like Patsy Walker (a superhero) and another new client who happens to be the son of one of the world’s most dastardly villains, it will take the soul and determination of a hero to enact the letter of the law.

A good friend of mine sent me these three issues out of the blue and I was in love with the series after the first couple pages of the first issue. As I said, I was a little tired of straight-up superheroics and heroes and villains wailing on each other, and to be honest, there is a bit of that in each of the three issues, but those instances are an afterthought to show the ridiculous nature of a particular situation. What I mean by this is that you have Jennifer Walters, aka the She-Hulk, professionally dressed, trying to do good by utilizing the law. She is gorgeous, green, something like seven-feet tall, and can toss a car across the city, but she is there to help in ways beyond her fists and it shows in Soule’s writing and Pulido’s art. From what I’ve read and heard through interviews, Soule’s secret identity is that of a practicing attorney, thus bringing a level of authenticity and expertise to this title. I, on the other hand, have just come off a summer-long, binge fest of the first five seasons of the phenomenal The Good Wife, a series about a woman who returns to practicing law after more than a decade-long absence following a scandal that landed her husband in prison — btw, every episode of this series, and I mean every episodeis expertly crafted. So, coming off The Good Wife and its look at the world of law, I was left hungry for additional intelligent legal dramas, which made She-Hulk a complete no-brainer for me.

This series knows what it is talking about concerning the the legal system, with cases that could potentially happen in a world where superheroes exist. It also does not take itself too seriously as evidenced by Walters leaving her house dressed for work, only to return home with her expensive clothing shredded after getting into a fight with some robots. Practicing law and protecting citizens physically merge beautifully in this series, leaving me with many words to describe this title, of which I will center on one. It is a word I so rarely use when referring to modern comic books, but dagnabbit, denizens, I’m a gonna say it. Fun. She-Hulk is positively fun, and the only disappointment is that I only have these three issues and not the rest, which I anticipate seeking out this week if I can swing by a comic shop Ventura.

Actually, I lied. There is one other disappointing thing about She-Hulk. This comic is not like Marvel’s other titles, and that probably has something to do with why I enjoyed it so much. Unfortunately, it is probably why it is being cancelled after issue 12 (I believe that is the last issue). This is a bummer, but do not let that dissuade you from seeking out the first trade or the individual issues on this one. If you like legal dramas, superheroes, and/or having a good time, then She-Hulk is something you need to check out. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Technopriests:
Supreme Collection HC
The Technopriests: Supreme Collection HC - Written by Alexandro Jodorowsky, illustrated by Zoran Janjatov, colored by Fred Beltran, designed by Jerry Frissen, edited by Alex Donoghue, published by Humanoids, Inc. I just realized that I never wrote a followup to the first half of the review for The Metabarons: Ultimate Collection (which I believe is unfortunately out of print for a little while) that I wrote about here earlier this year in February. I have three words for both the final half of the book and the book as a whole: VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! The strength of that book coupled with my viewing of the brilliant Jodorowsky’s Dune documentary (MUST viewing for all sci-fi fans, and doggonit I wish his movie had been made, what a spectacle it would have been) left me scrambling to get The Technopriests: Supreme Collection HC in my hands before it too went temporarily out of print. Let me tell you, I made the right decision. Oh yeah, neither of these books are for the kiddies and should be for mature readers only.

Supreme Technopriest Albino has led his 500,000 young technopriests across many galaxies and through scores of deadly situations in the hopes of founding a “new society in which healthy human relationships will be valued more highly than scientific advances”; he is nearly there. As he travels, he recounts to his trusted friend, Tinigrifi, a highly intelligent mouse-like creature, the story of his life. It is a story about the terrible raping of his mother, Panepha, and the three children born from that violation: the white-skinned Albino (brilliant, but ignored by Panepha), the grey-skinned Almagro (cruel and doted upon by his mother), and Onyx (a red-skinned girl with four arms despised by Panepha). When Albino pleads with his mother to send him off to become an exalted video game creator for the Technoguild, Panepha is only too happy to be rid of the boy. Thus begins a long history of learning, living, overcoming great adversity, revenge, forgiveness, life, death, and enlightenment with Albino existing at the center of it all.

Jodorowsky is quite possibly insane. That said, I will have seconds, thirds, and most assuredly dessert of whatever the man happens to be serving. Holy moly! This book is almost as wild as The Metabarons, and I mean that to be the highest of praise. I thoroughly enjoyed this epic sci-fi that spans countless years and sets our protagonists against giant snakes, one-eyed horrors, terrifying religi-corporations, techno-assassins, misunderstood aliens, woman-faced cat monsters, and even themselves, which barely scratches the surface of all that transpires within the pages of this 406-page tome. I also believe that portions of the story contain bits and pieces of Jodorowsky’s original vision for his unmade Dune film, with some of the main themes of the book originating from his frustrating dealings with Hollywood, coupled with his thoughts on the video game industry; thus the mantra of a “new society in which healthy human relationships will be valued more highly than scientific advances.”

For the visual elements of the story, Janjatov’s line work coupled with Beltran’s ridiculously gorgeous painted imagery deliver stunning visuals that make every page…no…every panel of this book a work of art. Just have a look at the profile of the aged Albino on the cover and see every wrinkle and hard line of his face, the upturned collar of his coat, and the floating glass helmet topping his head to see what I mean. Yet there is so much more. The fascinating character designs, the intricate backgrounds, the drama, and the storytelling all scream creativity, uniqueness, and one heck of a captivating read.

The Technopriests originally appeared in a French comics magazine, and unlike most American comics, which can be plagued by deadlines requiring noticeable shortcuts (many artists, many inkers, etc.), an inhuman amount of detail was spent on every portion of this great comic mini-series. Topping off the amazing amounts of time and energy the creators clearly bled into every step of The Technopriests, Humanoids continues the process by releasing yet another impeccably designed book. Everything from the glossy cover, to the matte title block, to the typography on the cover and the spine, to color choice, to the introduction, to the greatly-appreciated black ribbon marker, to the tiny matter of the page numeration make this book worthy of display. Knowing what is contained between the front and back cover of this phenomenal work of art demands that this graphic novel be on your best book shelf of literary and comic treasures. Now I need to finally get ahold of The Incal, and Before the Incal and I should be all set. The Technopriests is exactly the sci-fi fix I needed, and is something both comic fans and comic creators need to experience for themselves. Another masterpiece. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Keeping Positive - An week-long lack of proper sleep, closing in on finishing up my Graphic Design I and Digital Imagery classes, preparing to promote Kibbles ’N’ Bots, celebrating Amy’s birthday, preparing for Thanksgiving holiday, and preparing to reenter the work force has all left me with not enough time to worry about things that upset me (outside of She-Hulk getting canceled). Let’s take a deep breath, chill out with the awesome new Kingdom Rush: Origins game, and maybe catch a nap. Have a great weekend and week, denizens.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 11/14/2014

(Sung to the tune of Prince’s “You Got the Look”) (Whoa! Sheena Easton’s hair rocks!)

Here we are folks, the books we all dream of
Wytch versus girl, in the middle of nowhere
Tell me, have you read the book?

You walk in, to your store
You’re tired of the normal stuff, it’s a bore
Baby, you need these books

The Fade Out’s got your back
Wytches’ll take you aback
Crucial, I think ya need ’em

Check out these books, they’ve got the hooks
Sho’nuff do be cookin’, have a look
Crime noir is jammin’, this horror’s heck-a-slammin’
Comics so good, let’s get to readin’
You need these books, you need these books

Hello there, Donist World denizens, and welcome back to Donist World. I am joined as ever by CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / panic-mode negotiator Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). We are rushing like maniacs this week for many reasons. Papa Donist, Step-Momma Donist, Uncle Donist (x2), Aunt Donist, and Significant-Other-of-the-Uncle-of-the-Donist all came to town to visit, and I was unable to get my comic books until late yesterday. Thankfully there were only two books this week, but what great books they are!

Anyhow, Tulip and Obie just noticed a decrease in Donist World readership over the last month and a half, and they are worried about maintaining our status as a Fortune 320,000 company. A valid concern. Obie has even gone so far as to upgrade his patented Management By Dungeon Mastering system to version 2.0, and he has invested our limited Donist World cash into the development of a special set of three-sided dice, and issued a new set of character/employee sheets with additional attributes such as “interestingness,” “manipulatability,” and “trick-em-outta-their-cashedness.” I don’t agree with Obie’s methods, and there is no way in heck I’m going to allow him to write up a character sheet for me — I am his boss, after all — but I need to stop him before he sinks any money into DW dice bags or SIGG bottles or what have you. Ugh…anyhow, I know people are busy, and I’m kinda guessing the drop in readers has to do with my drop in interest and coverage of the Big Two offerings…that or those weird foreign spamming sites have figured out I’m not going to go to their links.

Shameless Plug Time – Also, please please please, support me by picking up my all-ages novel Kibbles ’N’ Bots, which is available on the Kindle for at most $2.99, or at the least for FREE through Kindle Unlimited, or FREE through the Amazon Prime Lending Library program. I’m proud of my book, and think you would all like it. Hey! Who doesn’t want to read a book about a superpowered Boston terrier puppy, and her know-it-all brother, who are inspired by comic books to fight a robot menace plaguing the city. Think of it this way: it’s like Angela’s Ashes only with Boston terrier puppies, robots, bad guys, joy, fun, adventure, action, comic books, and battles in outer space. See? Just like Angela’s Ashes. Anyways, on with the show…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Wytches #1
Wytches #2 - Written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Jock, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Clem Robins, edited by David Brothers, published by Image Comics. The first issue of Wytches was a trip and a half. It was frightening in both imagery and the progression of the reveals, wherein what we didn’t know was where the scares were to be found. The creators gave us scant glimpses into the old history of the woods, Sailor and her family’s past, and most creepy of all, what waits out in the trees. Having grown up in rural Ohio, this horror tale might as well have been written for me. I know all too well the feeling of playing in the woods, wading in the creek, with only the bullfrogs to keep me company. That is when you hear a twig snap, and spin to find…nothing there, nothing but the the sudden feeling that all eyes are upon you as the bullfrogs suddenly silence their barking croaks. This deep-seeded remembrance came crashing back decades later after reading that first issue. Now with the latest installment, Snyder and Jock show us what it is like when the twig snaps, you turn, and for the first time see a chittering shape lurking behind the nearby tree, before realizing the thing, whatever it might be, is not alone. That sense of being watched, of being stalked is exactly what reading an issue of Wytches is all about, and the creeping unease tingling through you with each turn of the page is too grand to risk putting the book down.

Something odd happened to Sailor Rooks the other night. She claims she was attacked by the girl, Annie, who vanished some while ago. Not even the doctors could explain the scratches and puncture marks on Sailor’s neck, and Sailor’s father, Charlie, and her uncle, Reg, are at a loss for what to do. But Sailor will not be the only one who believes there are terrible things lurking in the woods as a family member becomes all too aware.

This is horror, denizens! At least this is the type of horror I love. I don’t care for that splatter-gore nonsense, as it’s just gross, merely relying on cheap scares to make you jump or putting a character through something physically grotesque to make the audience wince — “Run, Suzie! Run! Argh! Oh no! My dingus in caught in this here bear trap set by the Riverbed Killer! Oh no!” Nah…that stuff is uninspired, weak. Real horror for me is not knowing what is happening, or why. When your senses are not quite fast enough to keep up with what is going on around you. Snyder and Jock know this, especially when you reach the full-page splash towards the end…<brrrrrrrrrr>. *You want scary? Try to locate the (sadly) hard-to-find movie Eyes of Fire (1983) and you will see what I mean. Super creepy.*

Aside from the scary nature of this title, there is also far more at play here. What is the deal with Charlie’s tattoo, and what happened to him years ago? How did Lucy become paralyzed, and what was it she saw lying in the road that night. What is going on with Dylan? Why is Sailor being targeted by Annie, or the wytches? But after reading this issue, the most important question that will linger in the back of your mind will be how long do I have to wait until issue three comes out?

Snyder continues to draw the reader into the story and despite a lot going on panel to panel, there are 25 pages of comics goodness (more than you typically get with the Big Two), this book was over way too fast. It felt like there were only five pages in this issue, which is not a knock on the creators or a statement accusing them of decompressed storytelling, but rather the reality that I was so thoroughly absorbed in the story that even if it were 100 pages, it would have been too short.

The art and colors are as strong as last issue, with brilliant character acting and storytelling, but it is the scenes in the pool and the woods that will give you pause. Hollingsworth’s colors are mesmerizing on the eerie, other-worldly pool scene when the demonic eye opens on Sailor’s neck, and Jock’s full-page splash of the woods, where the wytches peer from behind the scattered trees, is something I will forever imagine each time I look into a forest. C-R-E-E-P-Y in the best of ways.

If you like horror stories, good horror stories, then you simply must pick up these two issues as soon as possible, but with one warning: expect to be disappointed. I do not mean to say you will be disappointed with any aspect of the book itself — art, colors, story, characters, etc. — but by the fact you will desperately want more more more. Sorry, you’ll just have to wait like me, but what a grand wait it will be. Must reading. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Fade Out #3
The Fade Out #3 - Written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Sean Phillips, colored by Elizabeth Breitweiser, edited by David Brothers, published by Image Comics. Most everyone in Hollywood has a secret. One might be longing to return someplace long gone and forbidden by the authorities. Another might have a past best forgotten as they traversed their way to stand in for a dead starlet. Others are followed by past wrongs, one walks the hidden corridors linked to various dressing rooms, and another is happy as a clam knowing their ex will soon suffer great pains. Secrets…Hollywood is filthy with them.

In the first two issues, the creators introduced us to a host of players in this story and have thus far focused on a starlet who everyone thinks committed suicide, but in reality was murdered. In this issue, however, we steer mostly away from Charlie and Valeria Sommers to focus on both new characters and those who have skated mostly on the periphery of the story. What this means for the reader is that The Fade Out is not merely about the coverup surrounding the murder of a movie star, but equally so about each of the players at the movie studio, regardless of whether or not they were directly involved in Valeria Sommers’s death.

Brubaker and Phillips continue to introduce their readers to their world at a slow, deliberate pace, allowing the reader to settle into both the time period and the environment of the studio. We gain snippets of information about each character who comes our way, and although little is said about Valeria’s “suicide,” it is clear that each person has a possible motive to kill her. Brubaker lays out the past and the present, as Phillips either confirms what is written with his brilliant character acting, or completely contradicts what one character tells themselves through that same character acting — a character bites their lip, or their eyes narrow, or they look off to the side. What this means for the reader is that we can’t even trust what a particular character might be saying, and that the truth will rest in what we see.

The Fade Out is not one for the kiddies. It is pure adult, noir, crime drama fun, that is well-paced and beautifully portrayed. If you are a fan of Brubaker and Phillips’s other work, then this is a complete no brainer. If you like crime/noir/true Hollywood stories, this is also something you should seek out. If you are fan of Satellite Sam (TV studio drama from Matt Fraction and Howard Chaykin…a Donist World favorite, btw) then you must seek this comic out. Yes, the story is a slow burn, but with this genre, I wouldn’t have it any other way. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

TIME Magazine’s Misleading/Misinformed Cover Story Concerning Teachers - I am referring to TIME’s story as corrected by the Washington Post’s article here and also by the Nancy F. Chewning’s beautifully-written and truthful response here. The cover story from TIME is yet another fictional and sensationalistic attempt to paint the myth that there scores of “Bad Apples” in teaching and that this is a rampant epidemic plaguing the nation and threatening to unravel the fabric of what makes ’Merica great, and that these “Bad Apples” are out to get your children by golly. This is not the reality of the situation.

Yes, there are some bad teachers out there, honestly, I have had a few, but you want to know something, denizens? That one teacher who bored me to tears for half a year did not have any degree of a lasting effect on me. You know what I did? First I remember complaining to my mom, who told me “Too bad, you still have to do your school work, turn in your assignments, and do well.” So, in spite of this dreadfully uninspiring teacher, who was honestly a very nice person, I studied and did well because of the support I had at home.

You want to know what kinds of “Bad Apples” actually negatively impacted me? Easy, there are many. The Wall Street white-collar sociopaths who tanked the world economy — none of whom have yet gone to prison, where they belong — destroyed our home equity, put us underwater, closed our “emergency fund” HELOC, damaged our retirement accounts, shuttered a business I worked for (to be honest, the owner was a egotistical moron who would have done that anyways), drove up food prices, drove up gas prices, and kept our wages relatively stagnant because of their actions. Then there’s that one “Bad Apple” doctor who performed the routine procedure that almost killed my ass, but, hey, who’s counting. Comparatively, that one boring teacher did very little.

And, no, the unions/tenure are not to blame. They protect ALL teachers, and there is room for improvement or revision, but without unions/tenure, those stellar teachers who REALLY DO AFFECT THEIR STUDENTS would be canned first. How could they not be? Every time there was a budget crisis — when isn’t there a budget crisis…another topic — the teachers who had been there the longest, the experts, would be let go first as they are the most expensive.

The reason teachers get such a bad rap is because they are one of the safest political areas of blame out there. “What about our children! The teachers are failing our children!” Nonsense. Wall Street criminals and those trying to privatize education so they can make tons of cash-money are the biggest threats to your children. Thank you Washington Post and Ms Chewning for shining a little light on the reality of the situation.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 11/7/2014

(Sung to the tune of  Olivia Newton-John’s “Have You Never Been Mellow”)

Got little time? Here are some comics that’ll take you far
Let me tell you
Got little dough? Here’s a little list to help you through
Let me show you
Now, it’s been said I kid around
But good comics don’t make you frown

Have you ever read The Sixth Gun?
Have you ever tried, the groovy new book Tooth & Claw?
Have you ever checked Swamp Thing or the awesome Chew?
God Hates Astronauts’s mental, I'm tellin’ you

Welcome Donist World denizens! Before we get started with the regularly scheduled programming, it’s shameless plug time. You see that image at the top right of this screen (although maybe not on a mobile device)? Yup, that there is for Kibbles ’N’ Bots an all-ages novel I wrote about Tulip as a superhero, and her know-it-all brother, Obie, as they take on a robot menace terrorizing the West Coast. It only cost $2.99 (free through Lending Library if you’re an Prime member, and also free if you signed up for Kindle Unlimited) and you can read the prelude through to most of chapter four by clicking on the image or the link above to take you to the product page. If you would like to support Donist World, please check it out and give Kibbles ’N’ Bots a read, and if you enjoy it, then please please please give me a glowing review on Amazon; I can’t tell you how much it would be appreciated. Anyways…

This week, I am joined as every by our CFO, Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier), and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / robot crusher, Tulip. I would say that we are hard at work solidifying our strategic position as a Fortune 320,000 company, but unfortunately that is not the case. Obie is sitting out front of the corporate offices (my mom’s basement) at a table with a line of seven Sharpies meticulously placed on the table (I think he actually evenly aligned them using a ruler) and a placard (that must have cost a pretty penny) that reads “Obie — Co-Star of Kibbles ’N’ Bots”. He also has four or five water bottles (NOT environmentally friendly) to his right, and he is wearing a pair of shades that look rather of expensive. All I can gather from this is that he is waiting to do a signing, but what he fails to realize is that my novel is currently only available electronically for the Kindle, so I have no idea what he could possibly sign. I will admit that it is rather nice in the office, but…oh no! It’s those shady finance guys from Healdsburg trying to get Obie to sign what looks like a contract of some type. Ack…I need to stop this! Please enjoy this week’s…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Chew #44
Chew #44 - Written and lettered by John Layman, illustrated and colored by Rob Guillory, color assists by Taylor Wells, published by Image Comics. <sigh> <an even bigger sigh> Criminy, denizens, I was not expecting this. After 40+ issues in this phenomenal series, I should have known it was about time for some major stuff to go down, and let me tell you, it…goes…down…hard. Geez Louise! As much as I want to spoil each and ever terrible event that happens in this issue, I won’t. You will need to read it for yourself. What I will tell you are my reactions as I hit each major moment. “Ah, makes sense.” “Whoa! D-d-did I miss an issue? Nah, must be an arrive late, leave early kind of plotting thing, but DANG!” “Whoa, again!” “Wait…slow down, I…awwww no way!” “You’re in for it, now…crud.” “NO WAY! Oh my gawd, that is gnarly.” “I-I-I…this is so sad.” “Okay, this time you’ve…dang! No!” Take from all of that what you will, just know I need to watch some happy cartoons after what I just read, but the main takeaway is that this issue is heavy, yet great, if not a tad short.

Mason, Caesar, Applebee, Savoy, Vorhees, Olive, and Babycakes move on the Collector. Things don’t go well.

Usually when I talk about Layman and Guillory’s most-unique-comic-book-on-the-stands, I repeatedly mention how much fun the series is, and how I laugh almost the whole way through. Not so much this month. Yes, I still smiled and laughed a couple times, but then the action kicks in, moving wicked fast as Mason’s task force is decimated by the Collector in the most horrific of ways — things go downhill for our heroes from there. Yes, we get a brief respite through a two-page dark-yet-humorous moment with Babycakes — not to mention a guest appearance of some comic characters from another series — but then the unthinkable happens. It is harsh, it is shocking, it is entirely unexpected, and ultimately touching. ALL of these moments are beautifully choreographed by Guillory whose both subtle and not-so-subtle facial expressions ramp up the intensity as each of Layman’s vital word balloons deliver a gut punch to the reader. Dang, denizens, I'm still reeling from this read.

Guillory’s colors are stronger than ever, but each of the tense moments of this issue — and there are many for this 20-page comic — are ratcheted up primarily through the use of deliberate background colors. When moments heat up, that is when the background details of a scene vanish and are replaced by solid red or white, or through orange-appearing halftones, and in one particular moment a watercolor splash that flows alongside the blood being spilled in the panel. As always, I also love when a cibopath uses their ability and the monochromatic tiles fall neatly into place. As jarring and gruesome as moments of this issue are, it cannot be said that Chew is not beautiful in even its most grotesque moments.

I love this comic. I have been buying the floppies  and I have picked up all four of the Omnivore Editions (ten plus issues each) which I anticipate re-reading in the very near future, but if you are more inclined to read the trades, then there are eight of those out in the wild thus far.  What I am trying to get at here is there are multiple ways to read this awesome comic, and you should pick at least one of them. Yes Chew is mostly fun and games, but every so often, an issue drops that reminds you that the stakes are high in this highly bizarre and vastly entertaining comic that I am certain is unlike anything you have ever read. One final thing: because of the lower page count, the creators toss in the first half of the script and roughs for this issue, which provides a fascinating look at what goes on under the hood of this great series. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Tooth & Claw
Tooth & Claw #1 -Written by Kurt Busiek, illustrated by Benjamin Dewey, colored by Jordie Bellaire, lettering and design by John Roshell & Jimmy Betancourt of Comicraft, published by Image Comics. The time of magic is passing from this life, but the upperclass citizenry who hold the magic will not let it fade from existence without a struggle. Gharta the Seeker, an old warthog woman, has devised a dangerous plan to once again open the font of magic, but things don’t quite work out as planned. Meanwhile, Durstan, a young bull terrier boy, begins to learn of the divide between those who dwell above and those who dwell below, and Gharta’s plan looks to drive those lessons home.

Dagnabbit…Image, denizens, Image. I tell you, I’m trying (and failing completely) to cut down on clutter in my life, but I see a book like this on the shelves, and I just could not say no; thank dawg for that. Even before you get to the freakin’ gorgeous art, or the epic story, or the glorious colors, you have a phenomenal cover of Gharta floating above the devastation, using her dwindling magics, with plenty of white space below (a trend in cover creation I love), and a beautiful title design with credits perfectly spaced across that title. Then you pick up the book and immediately notice its sizable heft — and the Kurt Busiek name attached to it — turn it over to see “48 pages, no ads, $2.99.” Even without flipping through the issue, I knew this book was coming home with me. *Note to other much, much larger comic book companies: this is how you release a number one. Yes it is potentially a loss leader to pull us in, which it did, but when you compare Tooth & Claw to one of your more popular titles (which starts at $3.99 for maybe 30 pages of story riddled with ads), and then have an “event” or “storyline finale!” that ups the price to $4.99 or even $5.99, you hammer your loyal readers, and leave a bad taste in our collective mouths…you know?*

Anyways, A+ design and marketing aside, this book is brilliant from the moment you crack the cover until closing it at the very end. The creators are world building here, as well as introducing a host of characters, and being that this is a fantasy series, there are rules at play that require us to be brought up to speed. Busiek’s narration at no point seems expository, but rather an integral part of the overall piece, much like a fireside storyteller’s voice guiding you from one end of the tale to the other. This story is also a comment on the haves and the have-nots, and how one of the haves, Durstan, innocently has no idea of how his actions affect those who live below, as he empties his chamber pot over the side of his floating city. Innocent actions such as this, and the intentional actions of Durstan’s father look to drive what happens next issue, and it will not be pretty.

The art is…whoa, Nelly…the interior art is beyond amazing. Whether you are admiring the anthropomorphic animal characters, or absorbing the sights of the lush backgrounds of inspiring architecture or the multitudes of airships and floating cities, you will be captivated by what you see. Then you have to admire Dewey’s costuming, character designs, and his magical ability to render disarmingly real expressions and emotions to a myriad of animal types. Speaking of magical, Bellaire’s colors are great throughout the issue, but it is during Gharta’s spell casting session where she brings in a rainbow of colors that both complements Dewey’s black lines, and also knocks out other blacks to a visually stunning effect — having some experience with comic coloring, this hurts my head to think about how she actually pulled this off.

Image continues kicking butt and taking names, as well as pulling in a larger share of my (sadly) finite comic book budget, and for good reason. Tooth & Claw is a ridiculous bargain no matter how you look at it, and if you are a fantasy fan, then you simply cannot pass up this title. However, I won’t lie to you, this is a very dense read, but if you are fan of fantasy stories, you will not notice how many words are on the page, rather you will be dreading the fact that each page read brings you that much closer to the end. If you are one of those people who hate fantasy — which admittedly I cannot comprehend in the slightest — then maybe this is not the book for you…although given the creators involved, the 48 pages, and $2.99 price point, maybe dipping your toe in the magic pool is something worth giving another shot. Tooth & Claw is a gorgeous book that looks to take us on one heck of a magical ride, and I cannot wait to see where that might be. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Sixth Gun #44
The Sixth Gun #44 - Written by Cullen Bunn, illustrated by Brian Hurtt, colored by Bill Crabtree, lettered by Crank!, designed by Keith Wood, edited by Charlie Chu, published by Oni Press. Becky, Drake, and Screaming Crow are taking the war to Griselda the Grey Witch, and they have the fury of the ancient thunderbirds to back them up. Griselda, however, has been on the Earth — many versions of it actually — for a very long time; she comes with fierce power. Little do our heroes know what awaits them in the town with no name.

The first review above should clue you in that Chew had left my heart pumping and my nerves on end as one terrible thing after another progressed throughout the story. The Sixth Gun gave me the same exact accelerated heart rate, only for very different reasons. This issue is a pure adrenaline rush as the action hastens and builds, and has you flipping through panels and pages with every fantastic moment of the thunderbirds’s carnage, until midway through the issue the escalation peaks, slows, and halts at the last-page splash. The creators build this momentum thorough many techniques, but namely it is the page-by-page panel count that carries you through the issue. What I mean by this is that we start with three panels, then a double-page splash, then a few four panel pages, then eight panels, then twelve, then sixteen, to twelve, to eight, to four, and finally the full-page splash shocker. It would seem that increasing panels per page would have the opposite effect of slowing things down, but Bunn and Hurtt, opted to have no word balloons this issue with only brief captions, and the panels progress much like movie stills, pausing on each intense moment. They pull it off beautifully and the end result is something you simply have to behold.

The tradeoff with using many panels per page is that each panel becomes smaller and thus fits fewer details, but Hurtt does not allow the smaller panels to diminish his storytelling, and with Crabtree’s signature Sixth Gun coloring palette each moment flows perfectly. Not even the concise captions slow the pacing, and even if they were to be omitted altogether, you would have no problem following what was happening thanks to Hurtt’s storytelling skills…that said, the captions are great for providing background information and history, and are of vital importance to this issue.  Not only that, it’s just frickin’ cool as heck to see multiple snake-men take a lightning bolt to the chest.

Not even counting the deft style the creators utilized to tell this chapter of the tale, this issue was a blast and did exactly what it was supposed to do…leave me desperate for the next issue. I am not sure if The Sixth Gun is actually ending as of issue 50 or not, but it is still not too late to get caught up on this Donist World darling. You can easily pick up the all seven trades of this awesome supernatural Western that has been thrilling readers for the past five or six years, and that will hopefully get the television series it so richly deserves. So much fun. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Swamp Thing# 36
Swamp Thing #36 - Written by Charles Soule, illustrated by Jesus Saiz, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Travis Lanham, published by DC Comics. The Machine makes its move, but they underestimated the Green’s avatar, the Swamp Thing. Now that Alec knows this young kingdom is making a play for dominance, he decides he must warn the Rot’s avatar, his love, Abigail Arcane.

With the previous two comics above, we had heart-pounding terrible events, high-stakes action, and now we have yet more action, but more importantly to this series, we have true love. One of my favorite parts of the Alan Moore Swamp Thing series is the love between Abigail and Alec, and it bummed me out — in the best of ways — when Scott Snyder tore them apart by making Abby an avatar of the Rot. Now, after far too long, we see them together again, and Soule handles the moment perfectly with heartbreaking, yet realistic, dialogue.

The rest of the book is just as well-written, especially with the Capucine and Jonah scene, and the very cool A, B, C, and Omega Calculus units discussing not just how to proceed, but their ultimate decision, which left me wishing for more pages. One complaint I have falls back on the whole “Futures End” event that spoiled where the book is (supposedly) going and dampened the impact of part of Alec and Abby’s conversation. I also rolled my eyes at the mention of a “white ring,” but whatchagonnado; the book is unfortunately part of DC proper, and not with Vertigo.

Saiz’s art is great as ever, with some cool touches added to the Green version of Capucine (wood shoulder pad, anyone?) and I am still grooving on A Calculus’s design and that of the Rot’s Abby. Hollingsworth is also a champion this issue with each page taking on surreal background lighting ranging from purples (real world), to greens (the Green…duh), to blues (the Rot), to stark white (the Machine). In short the book looks great as ever, which is what bums me out now that Soule is set to leave the series to become exclusive with Marvel.

<sigh> Just when the book begins to hit its stride, the creative team changes. Hopefully Swamp Thing will continue to move closer to the horror title it is meant to be — like Soule has been doing — while the rest of the DCU, the “events,” and whatnot stay out of the mix. This issue is one heck of a good read, and with that final splash page…dang, denizens, I can’t wait to see what happens next. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

God Hates Astronauts #3
God Hates Astronauts #3 - written and illustrated by Ryan Browne, colored by Jordan Boyd, lettered by Crank! and Ryan Browne, edited by Jordan Browne, designed by Thomas Quinn, published by Image Comics. Okay, what this comic book is about. Yes…ummm…well, there's like anthropomorphic animal-people like King Tiger Eating a Cheeseburger, Queen Tiger Holding a Baby, Sir Hippothesis, Time Giraffe, Seal Armstrong (astronaut…duh), Buzz Owldrin (another astronaut…double duh), Dr. Professor (a rhino guy with a mustache), and that’s just the beginning. You also have Star Grass, who was once a star hero, whose head exploded and was replaced by the head of a cybernetic ghost cow, his wife Starrior, a guy with robot arms who is haunted by an old flame, a deformed cowboy, and…a ton of other characters who make absolutely zero sense. Anyhow, the story is about…ummm…some kind of invasion by King Tiger Eating a Cheeseburger, because some crabs got whacked by golf clubs (oh geez, help me with this), and there’s a like a 3D Ghost, and…forget it.

Yeah, I have no idea what this comic is really about, and that is part of the charm of God Hates Astronauts; you don’t have to understand what the heck is going on to have a blast reading this book. Browne’s dialogue is crazy and his sound effects alone (“apology ax-cepted”…classic) are worth the price of the book. Despite the madness going down on every panel of every page, you can easily discern that Browne has his storytelling chops down tight. The same goes for his character acting. As strong as each of the components is in this comic are, the sum total of the insane, obscenity-ridden dialogue, the laugh-out-loud SFX, and the absolutely psychotic imagery will either put readers off (like those who dislike fun and stuff) or create lifelong fans like myself who absolutely love whatever the heck this is I am actually reading.

I am still missing the first issue of this series, which is steadily driving me insane, but I hope to get a copy in the near future. Be warned though: there is a trade paperback that you need to read — consider it to be volume 1, with these three issues making up volume 2. Of course you don’t have to read the trade, but if God Hates Astronauts is the type of madness that you enjoy, then it is imperative that you read the trade that started it all. I think I’ll read this issue again right now. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

“Stay Gold Ponyboy, Stay Gold” - Let’s stay positive this week. Hey, I released my all-ages novel about Tulip as a superhero on (Kibbles ’N’ Botsplease please please check it out. Only $2.99 for a whole fun-filled story with surprises abound!), my story “Sunnyside” will now appear in RISE: Comics Against Bullying thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, I created a cool fake magazine cover for my media design class (I’ll showcase the stuff I’ve been working on in the near future), and I’m going to see Big Hero 6 later this afternoon after lunch at the Holllister Brewing Company. Not only that, I’m really jazzed about the comics I read and talked about this week, so go forth and be merry!


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

KIBBLES ’N’ BOTS Now Available For the Kindle!!!

Kibbles ’N’ Bots: Tulip the Superpowered Boston Terrier (Book 1)

Hello there, Donist World denizens! I’m both proud and thrilled to announce that my novel Kibbles ’N’ Bots is now available for the Kindle at Actually, it was available yesterday, but I had to create my author profile, which I could not do without my book first showing up on Amazon. I also had some other author, who shares my last name, somehow linked to my book, so I had to remove KnB from their listing of novels, have his name removed from my product page, and then have my information added where it should be. Thankfully, all it took was a quick email to Amazon and they were on it quick as the Flash. 

Anyhow, here are the specifics, most of which will appear in the one sheet I build over the next day or two:

Title: Kibbles ’N’ Bots

Subtitle: Tulip the Superpowered Boston Terrier: Book 1
Author: Don McMillan
Story Editor: Robert E. Anderson (Rex Zombie Killer, Creature Cops: Special Varmints Unit, and more)
Formats: Kindle (print edition in the future)
ISBN: 978-0-9909847-1-9
Pages: ? I believe this would be around 210–220 pages if printed
Age Level: 7–13 but I prefer to say ALL AGES, Boston terrier lovers, and dog lovers
Grade Level: 2–8
Price: $2.99 to buy (free via Kindle Unlimited, free via Lending Library with Amazon Prime)

Short Tagline:
A superpowered Boston terrier puppy versus evil robots. 

After a scary experience at the park, a Boston terrier puppy named Tulip gains incredible powers as evil robots begin to cause all sorts or mischief about town.


Tulip, a tiny Boston terrier puppy, always thought she was adventurous and brave; at least she did until the scary incident at the park. Now, feeling smaller and more vulnerable than ever, Tulip discovers her owner’s comic books, and her dreams of becoming a superhero help her cope with her fear. But when a mysterious comet appears in the sky, giving her incredible powers, she no longer feels weak and small, that is until evil robots begin robbing banks. With the help of Obie, her know-it-all brother, Tulip decides to play the hero and stop the robots once and for all, but it will take more than fantastic powers to beat the mechanized menaces, especially when their enigmatic leader, Bad Boss, makes his true plans known.

About the Author ( 
Don McMillan is a writer, graphic artist, and lover of comic books. He spent the first ten years of his life in Akron, OH, and moved to California in 1980. Don lives in Santa Barbara with his wife, Amy, and their Boston terrier, Tulip.

About the Author (From the Book): 
DON McMILLAN lives in Santa Barbara, California with his wife, Amy, and their Boston terrier, Tulip. He is working on the second Tulip book, writing comic books, writing his blog, and learning graphic design. Follow him on Twitter @TheDonMcMillan.
Or visit him online at

TULIP and OBIE live in Santa Barbara, California, where they scrounge food, chase crows, and chew up plush toys. They both dream of being much bigger dogs than they actually are, and are hard at work lying on the big pillow in the sunny part of the house. Tulip does not have a social media presence as of yet, and Obie refuses to establish one, saying that it is but a tool used by megacorporations to track his every waking moment. 

There you have it. I’ve done a bit of research on the marketing of books, release campaigns, and such and decided to go in reverse order of what most suggest, as — let’s face it — no one knows who the heck I am aside from my small microcosm of readers, friends, and family. Plus, composing a promotional campaign before releasing Kibbles ’N’ Bots would have only created further delays in getting it out there, and I figure the best promotion for this book will be releasing the second volume, then the third, and finally the fourth. We’ll see. 

That said, I can use your help. If you like my book, by all means tell some one. If you really like my book, then please write a glowing review. If you hate it, then you are only out $2.99, or nothing if you used Kindle Unlimited or Lending Library, so no skin off your back, Jack. 

My future plans with this…if enough people like the book and buzz is positive, then I will add chapter illustrations and bring the book to print. The plan is to start the followup book next week, and then once that draft is finished, I will lock it away for six weeks, and begin planning for roughly four issues of a comic book mini-series that will feature short stories centered around Tulip, another centered around Obie, and a third that tells a Mightor the Majestic (when you read the book this will make sense) story. I already know the major beats of the next three books, as well as how the series ends, and each will every bit, if not more, wacky, weird, and fun as Kibbles ’N’ Bots. 

I’ve grown immensely as a writer since starting KnB and I am as excited for its release, as I am to get started on the followup. I sincerely hope you like it, so please tell you friends, your family, your dog, your mail carrier, and that weirdo who hangs out at the end of your block who you should really call the cops on, about Kibbles ’N’ Bots.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 10/31/2014

(Sung to the tune of Stellastarr’s “Sweet Troubled Soul”)

I’m a comics fan
Oooo new books, can’t wait
Saga’s The Will, dang
Oooo Tensions inflate
But Southern Bastards’s tops
Rachel Rising is too
So just open your mind
And let’s take a good look
To Black Science and awesome Low
Sweet comics, bro

Hello and welcome back to Donist World. I’m joined as ever by our CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / spooktacular superpuppy Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). It is Halloween, which means candy, scary movies, scary comics, and pumpkin flavored everything. I love this time of year. In true Halloween spirit, the dogs have dressed up with Tulip wearing her mom’s old, pink blanket as a hooded cape (see the cover image of my soon-to-be-released book Kibbles ’N’ Bots near the bottom of the page to get the idea), while Obie is dressed in a Hamburglar outfit — although he thinks it’s a prisoner costume. Obie isn’t just getting into the groove of things, he is also making a statement regarding his innocence in the recent destruction of my friends’ two-year-old’s astronaut toys. Of course Obie is as guilty as they come, but he says until there is photographic / video evidence of him chewing up the toys, then there is reasonable doubt to his guilt…yeah right.

Anyhow, before we head into the reviews and the mini-announcement regarding my book, I encourage you to get some pumpkin beer (Dogfish Head or Rogue has nice ones) or a non-alcoholic pumpkin cider, watch a groovy horror movie like Dolls, or Evil Dead 2, and then read a great horror comic like The Upturned Stonewhich I wrote about last year, and just re-read this past Tuesday evening (You can still buy it for $5.00 MUST READ! MUST OWN!). Anyhow, Happy Halloween, and on with the show…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Saga #24
Saga #24 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettered and designed by Fonografiks, published by Image Comics. There you have it, chapter four concludes and thus begins the hiatus until chapter five kicks off sometime in 2015. With this knowledge, do I decide to finally switch to trades and extend the break a little longer? Heck NO, denizens! I will be marking off the days on my calendar in anticipation of issue 25. With Saga, even if we only had a week’s wait between issues, it would be too darn long. It’s like being a kid all over again: November rolls around and you know you have a couple painful weeks of waiting for the holiday vacation to begin, and then yet another wait for X-Mas to roll around where you hope to get the new Micronauts “Force Commander” toy you saw in the Sears-Roebuck Winter Catalog. As much as you say you hate the wait, somewhere inside you secretly love it…the process makes the end result so much sweeter. But that’s all about what is to come. How about what actually is?

The Brand is trying to find who hurt his/her brother, The Will, who is in a coma and slowly dying. Little does The Brand know that Gwendolyn, Sophie, and Lying Cat are trying to gather the components of a powerful healing elixir, and could really use her/his help…if he/she doen’t kill them first. Finally, Ghüs the seal boy has some unexpected visitors.

Criminy, I love this comic. Usually, when you open an issue of Saga to the first page, you are slammed with a shocking splash page, and this installment does the same, but not in the manner expected. Yes, you are smacked in the face, only this time it is with the velvet-wrapped glove of cuteness. I loved the cheerful seal boy, Ghüs, and his bright yellow overalls the moment I saw him, and to see a full-page splash of him carrying a particularly wicked-looking battle axe, his “chopper,” and saying those four words (I ain’t spoiling), how could anyone not turn the page? We then see more of The Brand and the awesome Sweet Boy in some simply wonderful character interactions, as well as a Friendo (FRIENDO!!!) mention.

They say the Devil is in the details, but with Staples, it is more along the lines of “all things heavenly are in her details.” For example, the page two photograph of The Will that The Brand presents to Ghüs perfectly encapsulates the dying bounty hunter: sitting in the bar, a bottle of booze to his left, a glass to his right, an actual head of hair, and the surliest look at being bothered one could ever give. We have not seen or heard from The Will for many issues, but this one photograph captures him completely, and it is awesome.

This scene with Ghüs and The Brand is all of four-pages long and I adored every bit of imagery and dialogue, but there is so much more to the rest of this issue. The scene with Gwendolyn, Sopie, and Lying Cat is creepy and scary as they attempt to find the ingredients that will cure The Will. The three evil, Nazi, pig creatures they encounter practically leap from the page against the gorgeous green background, and stylistically they remind me of a mixture of Pink Floyd’s The Wall and characters from a Ralph Bakshi animated movie. Basically, they’re kind of horrifying, but the creators are only too happy to lighten the mood with a laugh-out-loud Lying Cat moment (I’m glad she didn’t lose her eye, btw). But as awesome and worthy of mention as every moment of this comic is, it is the bookend final full-page splash that made me positively crazy for more more more.

I love this comic series. You probably love it, too. If you aren’t reading the best book on the stands, then you can easily catch up with the first three trades (a fourth is on the way in December), or you can pick up the MUST OWN hardcover coming November 19 that contains issues 1–18 plus loads of extra stuff that will make me triple dip on this comic that is near and dear to my heart. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Southern Bastards #5
Southern Bastards #5 - Written by Jason Aaron, illustrated by Jason Latour, lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Once upon a time, Coach Boss was a young aspiring football player by the name of Euless Boss. He was scrawny, couldn’t catch or throw or run or tackle worth a damn, but what he did have was a determination to get what he wanted. Now, after having put Earl Tubb in the ground, Coach Boss will go on to show just how tight a grip he has on Craw County, and how he can not only murder a man in broad daylight, with half the town watching, but get away with it as well.

<phew> This issue is gnarly. Okay, Coach Boss is a grade-A dick, but DON’T ever let the man know I said that…frankly, he terrifies me. Here’s the deal: the creators don’t need a supervillain with powers, or an alien monster, or a demon of old, or a futuristic robotic killing machine to make a scary-as-all-heck villain. Not at all. Coach Boss is a plain ol’ human being, but by the time you finish this issue you might be doubting his humanity. The character is as real as they come, and the Jasons instill him with so much evil coursing through his veins that every page turn of this book made me wince at just how wicked this man is. In lesser hands, Boss would be an overkill joke of himself, highly unrealistic, but with Aaron’s perfectly timed words and Latour’s brilliant storytelling, Boss comes across as a lifetime’s worth of bad news delivered all at once. All you need to really send the chills down your spine is the second-to-last-page splash to see what I mean. <brrrrrrrrr>

All of the above love of this man’s evil aside, I have a confession about this issue after reading the previous issue’s epilogue: I wanted to jump right in with Tubb’s daughter’s story, not Coach Boss. I know, I know, but issue four left me so upset about Tubb, and the reveal of his daughter had my heart pumping for some righteous payback, that I just wanted Boss to pay. Thankfully, the creators did not give me what I was looking for. Sure it will come, but this look into Boss’s past and present is so eyeopening about this character, that I gained a sliver of sympathy for him…just a sliver. Take for instance Boss’s multi-bedroom house, void of most furniture and decor, the king-sized bed with only one side slept in, the walk-in closet emptied of all but a handful of men’s clothes tells you what this man’s ambition has cost him, and for a brief instant I caught myself saying, “oh.” Don’t get me wrong, I hate this a_hole, but at the same time, I love my hatred of this character, and I desperately want to know more of Coach Boss’s history.

Now, I don’t like sports. In fact, I kind of hate them, this is especially true of football. The only positive I find with the sport is the beer, nachos, buffalo wings, and assortment of chip dips and salsas that accompany most high-profile games. To be honest, it takes a lot for a movie or television show to make me give a fig about any sport, let alone a comic book, but every so often the unthinkable happens. Things like MoneyballFriday Night Lightsand now Southern Bastards give me good reason to adjust my preconceptions.

Yes, Southern Bastards is so much more than just a “football” comic. It is a crime story,  a statement of politics, of economics, of character, of racism, you name it. I have never read anything like Southern Bastards, which is probably part of the reason I am loving this book so much, but mostly it is Aaron and Latour’s phenomenal story that makes me desperate to see what comes next. You can easily catch up with one trade ($9.99 retail!) and this issue for yet another fantastic offering from Image Comics. Must read material, denizens. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Rachel Rising #29
Rachel Rising #29 - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. “Young” Zoe confronts the “woman” who watched her stab a “priest” to death, and things get rough. Meanwhile, Rachel begins the hunt for the person who killed her and in turn makes a friend before enacting extreme measures to unlock her memories.

Yet another great issue of Rachel Rising. Although there is a noticeable absence of about 70% of the word balloons and dialogue compared to most issues of this series, Moore uses the many silent panels to do the heavy lifting of the storytelling without resorting to exposition-laden caption boxes. He does this beautifully. I can also say that this issue has the best action scenes of someone being tossed onto the trunk of a moving car that I have ever seen, which I realize is a shade specific, but the four panel progression is stunning nonetheless.

Moore also draws some fantastic rain sequences and the added touch of his extreme sound effects, although not something you see all that often in Rachel Rising, are the perfect level of jarring to get your heart pumping…“Ba-Bum! Ba-Bum!” I love the scene of Rachel commiserating with the hardware store employee, as well as Zoe’s oh-so-clever game-changing moment, but it is the cliffhanger ending that makes me want to see what happens next.

It’s Halloween. You need to be reading something scary, so why not pick up this wonderful series via the currently available four trade paperbacks? If you haven’t read Rachel Rising, then you are missing out on one of the best horror comics on the stand, by one of the best writer-artists in the business. Gore hounds need not apply, but fans of intelligent, slow-burn horror tales…this one’s for you. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Black Science #10
Black Science #10 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Matteo Scalera, painted by Dean White, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Nate and Pia have been captured by the fanatical sentient centipedes who want to know the location of the pillar that is steadily ticking away until the next jump. Along with a goblin child, the children make a daring escape and rush to warn their friends of the menace that threatens to take the only means they have of returning home.

I want to own the double page splash on pages 8–9. Holy moly, denizens, is this piece freaking amazing. You have Pia, Nate, and the goblin child riding a blue flame breathing, green skinned, hippo-bug-bat monster away from the menace of the centipede stronghold amidst the orange sky. It’s almost like a Yes or Asia album cover, only better…you just need to see this dang-fine piece of art. Of course the rest of the pages in this issue are everything you would expect to see in a Scalera and White collaboration…pure beauty.

The story kicks back into its whirlwind pacing as we get caught up in Pia and Nate’s thrilling escape, but I will say I’m not totally getting the parallel world with Grant McKay and Gahiji Makalani (who?), but I’m sure all will be made clear down the line. Still, Remender hits some intense emotional beats with Pia’s anger with her deceased father, and Nate’s reminding Pia that she was not the best of daughters to their mother.

Black Science is the sci-fi Indiana Jones of the comic book world, only with a much larger cast of characters, each of whom can buy the farm (i.e. die) at a moment’s notice. You can catch up with the first trade and the last four issues, which if you are a fan of beautiful art and thrilling stories is something I encourage you to do at your earliest convenience. I’m off to see if I can find a good wallpaper image of pages 8–9! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Low #4
Low #4 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Greg Tocchini, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Stel and her son, Marik, are traveling through the ocean and each of their suits are nearly out of air. They’re dying, but Stel has hope that they will reach the Third City, a place of pirates, mutants, and cut-throats, but a place with air. Now, all Stel and Marik need to do is locate the probe which tells of a new world capable of sustaining life, but when Stel sees that Roln, the pirate who killed her husband and stole her children, is alive and well, vengeance is all she can see.

Low is my favorite of Remender’s current three creator-owned titles (the other two being Black Science and Deadly Class, of course). I love underwater adventures, but mix in the post-apocalyptic world with a cast of characters like Stel and Marik, and crazy-looking sea monsters, and you have a series that was practically created for me.

The story and painted art of this issue are as stunning as ever, but with that said, I have to admit I have very little idea of what happened over pages 3–5 and part of 6. I can tell which character is Stel, and that she is weaponizing her awesome wetsuit, but I don’t get what happens after she slashes the rock. The two panel, double-page spread is cool, but I still have no idea of what it is I am looking at, or how it relates to the slashed rock. This kind of bummed me out, but once I turned the page, I was right back in the flow of things and grooving to Roln’s evil ways and the surprise awaiting Stel and Marik in the heart of Third City. Most importantly, I’m more than eager for the next issue.

Aside from a couple of confusing pages, this comic is yet another magnificent issue in a series that has me 100%. Getting ahold of the first three issues might be a tad difficult at this point, but a second printing of the first issue was recently made available, so you might be in luck on that front. I highly encourage all denizens of a more mature persuasion to pick up this dang fine aquatic sci-fi tale that has no problem throwing its readers for a loop as it prepares to kick into high gear. I love this comic. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

I’m Uploading My All-Ages Novel Kibbles ’N’ Bots to Amazon’s KDP Program Today
Okay, this is the cover to my ebook. I started Kibbles ’N’ Bots way back in January 2011, while finishing my first novel (Kibbles ’N’ Bots is actually my second novel). I wrote two drafts, put it away for a while, returned to it a bunch of times, and then really got serious about finishing it late last year.

With the exception of hiring Rob Anderson (writer of the awesome Rex Zombie Killer, the soon-to-be-released Creature Cops from IDW, and much more) as my story editor — one of the best decisions of my life — and guilting my wife into reading the book at a stage far before it was ready, everything is me. I created the cover, I did all of the epub / mobi formatting, table of contents creation, design for the book, and of course all of the writing. It is as professionally built as they come, as I wanted to eradicate any of the “self-published” look.

I opted not to approach any agents or managers, and I chose to not go the route of traditional publishers, as I wanted to retain all rights to my book, and I wanted to get it out quick. I also have plans to write three more novels in the series and to create a comic book mini-series in between each installment. I will probably try the traditional route on my first novel, but that’s something else entirely.

I’m sure there are grammatical errors — a few, in fact — but hiring a copy editor was…outside of my scope of reality for the time being (i.e. money)…but what errors there might be, they should not remove any reader from the story and I will fix what pops up; I find errors in traditionally published bestsellers all the time. Still, this is a concern as I am a perfectionist, but thankfully I did have my secret weapon (a seventh grade English teacher as a wife) go through the book a while back — I still owe her for that.

I’ll write up something when the book appears for sale on Amazon, and I am considering creating a tutorial on how to take a Word .doc file all the way through to the .epub and .mobi (Kindle) formats, as the process was pretty dang brutal at first. I am immensely proud of my book, I had a blast writing it, and I hope others enjoy it as well…I will definitely need some positive reviews once it appears. Most of all, I look forward to starting the followup novel in the next couple of weeks, as I am eager to start something new. I hope you all check out Kibbles ’N’ Bots, it’s inexpensive, and I sincerely hope you enjoy reading my all-ages book as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Slice Into the Woods

Nervous - Deep breaths…okay, this has been a crazy week for me. I published my exceedingly personal experiences with bullying here in an effort to raise awareness for the RISE: Comics Against Bullying Kickstarter, which is now only…HOLY GUACAMOLE! IT’S FUNDED! What a fantastic surprise. There are still 64 hours to go, and every dollar added to that amount guarantees more comics for more schools, not to mention increased awareness about the the terrible problem of bullying. If you contributed to the Kickstarter, I thank you with all my heart. Man, what a surprise.

Also, as I mentioned above, I will be submitting my novel Kibbles ’N’ Bots to the KDP program at some point today. This is exciting and terrifying, but mostly exciting…no, now it’s terrifying again…wait, now it’s exciting. My guess is once I submit, then around Monday / Tuesday my book will be available for everyone to read. Now I’m nervous again. Deep breaths…deep breaths…