Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 4/29/2011

Some old, some new in this week's Donist World FSoH/SitW entry.  I know I said that I was going to be picking up the fourth volume of Echo, but I ended up dropping so much cash-money at my LCS that I thought it best to allocate that purchase to a lighter week.  No little introductory stories this week; sorry Mom and thanks for refriending me on Facebook.  No jokey lead-ins of marginal-at-best cleverness; sorry Obie, I got you some kibble to make it up to you later.  Let's do this.


Friday Slice of Heaven

The Sixth Gun #11
The Sixth Gun #11 - Written by Cullen Bunn, illustrated by Brian Hurtt and published by Oni Press.  I've made it no secret that I am a huge fan of Bunn and Hurtt's wonderful The Sixth Gun series and for the first time since I have been collecting the comics, I actually got an issue the week it was released and not weeks later.  Win.
This installment wraps up the current storyline and sees the corpse of the evil butler possessed by the loa, Marinette of the Dry Arms, and wrecking all manner of havoc on the nearby town as she searches for five of the six guns.  New allies join the scene, most of whom meet an untimely death, Kirby gets an unwelcome surprise, the golem of Billjohn O'Henry makes a stand, and a train out of town holds a very unwelcome passenger.
I cannot give this book enough praise and waiting each month for the next issue is torturous, but worth the wait once you actually get it in your hands.  Look for this story arc to be collected in June.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Prodigal Sons #1
The Damned: Prodigal Sons #1 - 3 - Written by Cullen Bunn, illustrated by Brian Hurtt and published by Oni Press.  Let's keep the praise of Bunn and Hurtt going with their The Damned series.  Prodigal Sons is a three-issue mini continuing where the five-issue The Damned left off.
Eddie has far too many ties to the demon mobs in his city, but even something as useful as a curse can't keep a demonic mob boss from putting a hit on Eddie that threatens to put him in the ground...permanently.  You see, every time Eddie is killed he returns to life at the touch of the man/woman/demon who touches him, leaving them dead in his place.  
Enter Eddie's estranged brother, Morgan, who agrees to help Eddie in his quest to bring their mother back from the underworld, but to do that, Eddie has to die first.  Secrets are revealed and new questions arise in this serious supernatural, noir, crime story.  I spoke with Hurtt about this series at Wondercon and although he and Bunn intend to pick up this story again, it will be a while before they do.  The Damned: Prodigal Sons has not been collected in trade as it is only three-issues long, but finding them is well worth the effort; definitely read The Damned Volume 1: Three Days Dead before seeking out the rest of this awesome series that hopefully continues some day soon.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Xombi #2
Xombi #2 - Written by John Rozum, illustrated by Frazer Irving and published by DC Comics.  Xombi is mental, nuts, fun.  I'm still not entirely sure what the hell is going on, but that's okay, this book is awesome.
David Kim (Xombi) has nanites coursing through his body that keep in peak physical condition at all times to such an extent that he is effectively immortal, or as Alphaville would say, "Forever Young." Together with Catholic Girl, Nun of the Above and Nun the Lesser, Xombi attempted to prevent the release of James Church, and failed.  Xombi and a rustling husk (a monstrosity made from the ghosts of swarms of yellowjackets and wasps that died on a windowsill...I'm not kidding) follow the prisoner's abductors only to discover that the prisoner is the dreaded Maranatha.  Of course there are coins that make excellent surveillance equipment, Sargon the Sorcerer shows up in a panel, and some other mystery characters appear, but I have to say that I am 100% along for the ride on this amazingly bizarre series.  I'm still a little confused as to who is who, but I really want to track down the original run.  Do you hear me Comixology?!
Again worthy of mention is the stellar art and captivating and vibrant coloring of Fraser Irving, who I hope has prints somewhere out in the jungle of the interwebs.    VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Morning Glories #9
Morning Glories #9 - Written by Nick Spencer, illustrated by Joe Eisma, published by Image Comics.  Morning Glories continues to be one of my most highly anticipated monthly comics.  This issue focuses solely on Jun's and Hisao's backstories and their acceptance to the Morning Glories Academy.  The wicked Miss Daramount and Mr. Gribbs arrive at the twin boys' mother's house to take them away for schooling, but a previously unknown truth arises that complicates matters beyond what anyone would ever suspect (how's that for vague?).  Abraham also reappears, and has me wanting to reread this series from the beginning to see if this mysterious character has appeared in the book more often than the past couple of issues.
Still an enticing story that has me hooked and consistently wanting more, Morning Glories is a must read for those who want more than capes and underpants outside of clothing, and the same old, same old characters and comics.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Am I the only one who finds Mrs Daramount hot?

Echoes #5 of 5
Echoes #5 - Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov, illustrated by Rahsan Ekedal, published by Minotaur, a Top Cow imprint.  Echoes might be a...challenge...for some people due to the dark subject matter and lack of any sort of light at the end of the tunnel, but that's okay.  Well-told and an ending that I was not at all expecting, I was initially unsure if I even liked the concluding issue of Echoes.  "Liked" is probably not the fairest word to use for this series, where more aptly "resonated" would suffice.  I went to sleep thinking about this book and woke up this morning still thinking about this book.
All I can summarize is that Brian Cohn's father, a schizophrenic Alzheimer's patient, dies in a hospital but confesses to Brian that he was a serial killer, leaving Brian to wonder if he too has the serial killer gene as he also suffers from schizophrenia.  When a child that Brian sees in a school yard goes missing, the disturbed man begins to wonder if he too is a killer of children, or is someone setting him up for a fall.  I really can't say more than that.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED but be ready for this one.

Slice Into the Woods

Missing the CGS Super Show - This weekend in Pennsylvania many of my comic creator friends and colleagues from Comics Experience are attending and/or exhibiting their creations, and the more I think about it, the more I wish I was going.  *sigh* Stupid money, plus I don't really have anything to show quite yet, but that doesn't mean it won't be loads of fun.  Please tip an ounce to ol' Don "Donist" McMillan at the show and I want hear me?  Pictures!  Have fun all, and see you in the forums.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 4/22/2011

Good morning.  This week is going to be a no show week on the new release front as I have not had a chance to make it to the comic store and I will probably (I better!) have a copy of the Sixth Gun #11 waiting for me.  Next Wednesday I think I have something around the order of eight books due, so I should have plenty to talk about next Friday.  Thankfully, I am still working through the Wondercon pile and I ordered some random comics I was missing so there is still plenty to talk about.  But before we get into the stars of today's show, let's hear a word from our sponsor.
Today's episode of of FSoH/SItW is brought to you by Donist World Instant Grub in a Sack.  Just rip open the larger than necessary package, pullout a larger than necessary packet, tear off the top, pull out the inner pouch, tear off the top and just add water for instant grub in a sack.  Donist World, the cure for the common breakfast, brunch, lunch, mid-afternoon snack, dinner, pub crawl and late-night cookie gorging.

POSSIBLE SLIGHT SPOILERS WARNING...Consider yourself warned.

Friday Slice of Heaven

Echo Volume 2: Atomic Dreams
Echo Vol. 2:
Atomic Dreams
Echo Volume 2: Atomic Dreams - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio.  Julie and Dillon are on the run from the government, an insidious corporation and a homicidal bum in possession of a liquid metal hand that is all too similar o the plate permanently attached to Julie's chest.  Ivy continues to hunt the missing pair and Annie, the original possessor of the suit, may not be as completely dead and gone as Dillon and Julie believed.  The cliffhanger ending would have been far too painful if it were not for the fact that I had volume three on hand.
The action ratcheted up to a nail-biting, stressful level leaving me to hammer through the book in a day; I couldn't help myself.
I fell further in love with the characters including the intimidatingly-tough biker, Dan, who even as a secondary character with a currently small role, left me wanting more.  Of course there are the main characters of Julie, Dillon and Ivy who with every peek into their past and their actions in the present have me sympathizing with them and praying for their safety.  The psychotic bum with the deadly hand is unrelenting and honestly...terrifying.  On to volume three!  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Echo Volume 3: Desert Run
Echo Vol. 3:
Desert Run
Echo Volume 3: Desert Run - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio.  If there is someone who has made it through the first two volumes of this wonderfully exciting series and NOT picked up the next volume, I would suggest they have a sanity check (unless they happen to write TV reviews for the New York Times...see here).
The homicidal, atomic-powered and religinutty bum continues menacing Julie and Dillon as they run for their lives from the deranged man.  An innocent bystander gets gooped and Dillon is injured in the ensuing battle between the two liquid metal bearers.  Julie's emotionally damaged sister begins to take a more prominent role in the story, tragedy strikes Ivy, Dan decides to pay the evil contractor, HeNRI, a visit and an ally appears when needed most.
Moore's characters continue to shine in this well-paced sci-fi story.  After reading this volume, I flipped through again, intentionally not reading any of the dialogue and was amazed by how Moore's illustrations alone can tell the basics of the story through the character's expressions, through body language and the use of sensible action.  Void of word, Echo tells a better story than a good portion of the comics on the stands, but with Moore's text providing the necessary depth, this book is one of the best I have ever read.  I need to get volume four this weekend.  Since the series wraps up in the next month, I would not be surprised to see a compilation of the entire run in a beautiful hardcover someday soon; I might just have to double dip for this one.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Cyclops #4 of 8
Cyclops #4 - Written by Matz and illustrated by Luc Jacamon, published by Archaia.   Cyclops #4 wraps up the first half of the eight issue series and I have been loving every bit of it.  I was all too lucky to pick up the first three issues for free at the Archaia booth at Wondercon, but having read the first half of this engaging and somewhat scary-in-its-realism series I would have happily paid full price for everything.
As Douglas Pistoia begins to question private military contracting firm, Multicorp Security, and its more shadier dealings, his very public relationship with he wife Tatiana begins to feel the strain of Doug's new found media celebrity.  Pistoia's doubts in his employers escalate due to gaps in his memory and he renews contact with journalist Fuente, who then goes missing.
Another intelligent, expertly-told tale with some truly compelling sequentials.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Xombi #1 (2011)
Xombi #1 - Written by John Rozum, illustrated by Fraser Irving and published by DC Comics.  I have been reading quite a bit of news on Xombi and how it is some reviewers' favorite book.  Now that I have actually read it I can understand why.  David Kim is Xombi, a man infused with nanomachines that grant him both immortality and a body that maintains peak physical condition.  He also has the ability to manipulate the tiny machines into constructing items at the molecular level from the molecules of other items.  Xombi has some connection to a secret group (don't we all) and is called upon to prevent the escape of a prisoner whose release would not be a good thing.  Even with the aid of Catholic Girl, Nun of the above (seriously) and Nun the Lesser (seriously-er) the situation turns bad with an eerie and entirely beautiful last page splash.  I'm not completely certain what the hell is going on, but I honestly don't care; I'm in all the way.
Beside Rozum's well-told, intriguing story, I really need to point out Irving's gorgeous art and mind-blowing coloring, which is unlike anything I have ever seen.   The mood he creates with his choice of colors and lighting is strikingly vibrant and moving.  I would love to see the methodology involved in the creation of each page, as the end product is amazing.
I never read the original series from back in the '90s, but now I'm hoping that Comixology/DC will put those old issues out at some point soon so I can delve even further into the past of this interesting and odd series.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and with a little more insight into the character and history, I will gladly toss in a "VERY" to my recommendation.

Axe Cop:
Bad Guy Earth #2
Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth #2 - Written by Malachai Nicolle and illustrated by Ethan Nicolle, published by Dark Horse Comics.  Axe Cop is a book that begs to be read after having a really bad day at work--I will most likely be rereading this issue this coming Monday.  As I mentioned in the review of issue one, there is no real way to summarize what the hell goes on in an Axe Cop comic.  It's pure six-year-old boy madness beyond explanation.  Here are some examples: Wexter, a T-Rex with shades and machine gun arms, travels back in time and meets his father, his friend named Waxta Tutu and his other friend Lavasaurus and one panel shows Wexter hugging his father; a lion is chasing a pig, gets hit by Axe Cop's monster truck and dies, but then the pig eats the lion and turns into Super Lion Pig; vikings wage battle evil baseball players; and Super Lion Pig instructs the heroes to go back in time to the year zero thousand and zero when defeat threatens them all.  What does all this mean?  I have no idea, but regardless of the degree of whatever wicked mood I happen to be in, I will always be smiling after finishing this bizarre, fun book.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Slice Into the Woods

Slow New Comics Week for Me - This was a slow week for new comics.  I'm hoping to make it down to my LCS later this afternoon and should only expect to find the highly anticipated Sixth Gun #11, which will conclude that particular storyline.  I will also probably pick up Echo Volume 4: Collider since the wait to read the next chapter is driving me insane.
This coming Wednesday will be a different matter.  I will picking up Brightest Day #24 (Finally it's over...not too thrilled), Chew #19 (Yay!), Echoes #5 (I'm scared...yay!), Morning Glories #9 (Yay! Can't wait), Ruse #2 (Yay!), Secret Avengers #12 (Hopeful), Secret Avengers #12.1 (Hopeful), Xombi #2 (Hells yes!).  All that and my looming stack of trades and I will hopefully need to do another two installments to cover all the goodness.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 4/15/2011

Shhhhh...hush now.  Let's not spoil what we have with needless, idle chitter chatter.  That's right, that's better.  Just lay back and relax.  I have something important to share with you, but first, I must say...I look tremendous in this moon light.  Don't I?  See how the light hits the guns just right, accentuating every muscle?  It's not easy sculpting a body like  Oh look, there's a little wine left.  Don't mind if I do.  Speaking of which, are you going to finish your dessert?  Thanks, really, I mean it, baby.  Let me just get this Kenny G bumping...yeahhhhhhhh...that's the ticket, that's what Donist World is all about.  Smoothness.  Now that we're in the mood, let me tell you about...

Friday Slice of Heaven

What I started with.  Criminy!
My brain hurts looking at this.
Comics Experience Intro to Coloring Course - I just finished the sixth and final week of Comics Experience's Intro to Coloring course as taught by Chris Sotomayor, colorist of Avengers, Captain Marvel, Batman, and one of my favorites Supreme Power.  The class was fantastic, difficult for someone who has never considered coloring comics before, but well worth the time and money.  Chris Sotomayor was an outstanding teacher, not just in explaining the technical processes, but also touching on color theory and the  properties of color.  Classes met once a week on Mondays for six weeks at two hours a session, but sessions usually went on well past the two hours for additional instruction for those who wished to stick around.  
The learning curve is steep and I would recommend that someone not overly familiar with Photoshop buy some instruction books and put in some time using the tool before signing up for the class.  Expect to hit the ground not so much running but sprinting.  Thankfully I have quite a bit of experience with Photoshop, so I only had to focus on the multitude of things to consider when pushing the storytelling of a page further than the writer and artist can do alone.  
My final coloring page.  Still
needs some work...
One good/bad aspect of the class is that I now not only look at comics differently, but at the world in general as well.  Just sitting here at my desk I've noticed how the light of the lamp reflects off of the glass surface of the desk, and how it behaves differently when it strikes the couch, the floor and the dog.  The negative aspect of this is that while walking the dog I nearly walked into a sign post as I was focusing on the effect that the coloring of some bushes had on some flowers that were intermixed in front of them.  
Lastly, the community of the other students was nice to have around as some of the students are working comic book colorists who wanted to brush up their skills.  It was admittedly somewhat daunting when comparing my project to some of their beautiful works of art, but that just meant I had to step up my efforts.  
Now I'm considering completing some of the other Batman pages and I will definitely be coloring one of the scripts that I recently had illustrated.  An informative and fun class, but one that is not for the feint of heart.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED...but only if you are serious about comics, their processes and improving your storytelling capabilities through the use of color.

Echo Volume 1: Moon Lake
Echo Vol 1 - Moon Lake
Echo - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio.  After an explosion in the sky over Moon Lake, mysterious metallic droplets rain down upon estranged photographer, Julie Martin, both the government and a local contracting company send the confused woman on the run.  Dillon Murphy is a park ranger whose girlfriend has gone missing and he discovers that her disappearance has something to do with the explosion at Moon Lake.  He meets Julie who now has a dangerous metal plate affixed to her chest that has formed from the liquid metal and cannot removed.  It seems as if everyone wants them both dead.
I have to say that I am absolutely loving this book and regret not buying it in issues, but then again there is only one more issue left before the series finale, so I should be able to read the entire run in short order.  I am a big fan of Strangers in Paradise and this drastic change in direction towards science fiction is every bit as worthy of attention as Moore's original masterpiece.  I immediately sympathized with all of the main characters with the exception of agent Ivy Raven, but only because she is currently supposed to be an unknown.  The main strength of the series thus far is the incredibly well-paced and realistic interactions of all of the characters and their behavior when they are alone.  Sure there are some action sequences--they are exciting to say the least--but the steady build of the story coupled with the wonderful characters is where this story shines.  
I'm already almost through the second volume and have the third queued next; I need to order volumes four and five immediately.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

THUNDER Agents #6
Thunder Agents #6 - Written by Nick Spencer and illustrated by Cafu, published by DC Comics.  Extracting Raven from the clutches of SPIDER (I know, sounds kind of silly, but trust me on this) was no easy task.  Everyone is shellshocked after the battle and for some, like Toby, the future does not look that bright.  Also making an appearance in this issue is The Iron Maiden, and it's not the one that sings "Two Minutes to Midnight."
Another great issue that draws the first arc to a conclusion and one that firmly cements this book as my current favorite offering from DC Comics.  Spencer writes another smart, inventive and complex book that begs rereading now that the first arc has completed due to the many intricate twists and turns in this exemplary spy/superhero series.  Cafu, the sole artist on this issue, continues to deliver beautiful, crisp art that kept the story flowing at a quick pace. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Infinite Vacation #2
Infinite Vacation - Written by Nick Spencer and illustrated by Christian Ward, published by Image comics.  Mark continues to search for the truth as to why versions of himself in the Infinite Vacation are being murdered left and right and in this issue he comes into contact with three alternate reality versions of himself that have managed to make it through the bloodbath.  When the beautiful deadender Claire Reynolds shows up on his doorstep, things become even more confused.
Another great issue in this rich, complex series that goes to show why Spencer is such a hot commodity in the comics world.  Also worthy of much praise is Christian Ward's beautifully unique watercolored art, with the double page splash being one I would love to have blown up and framed on the wall.  Also of note is the intentionally jarring, live photo interview portions that interrupt the flow of the story in a way that shows the "real life" marketing portion as being soulless and...well...fake.  I loved this.
I hope that despite signing an exclusive with Marvel, that Spencer continues work on his great creator-owned properties (Infinite Vacation, Morning Glories) and also his out-of-Big-Two-superhero-continuity title (Thunder Agents)...with the exception of the phenomenal Jimmy Olsen one-shot, which I could stand to see more of.  If you are not reading this series you should pick it up and stretch out them 'ol brain muscles on something that is unique, different and worthy of your attention.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Superboy #6
Superboy #6 - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Marco Rudy, published by DC Comics.  First of all, this is going to be brief, but I like how Superboy has stayed out of the crossover craze going through DC...up until now.  I hate to see the words "To be continued in"and the remainder of the plug not having the word "Superboy" following thereafter.  Why not put out a mini for this "Reign of Doomsday" storyline and avoid the risk of losing readers who are uninterested in crossovers and purchasing issues of books they intentionally do not purchase (nothing against Action Comics).  I know, I know, marketing and sales research generally shows bumps in sales for events, but I make sure I am outside of those numbers.  Hopefully issue 7 goes back to form.  


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 4/08/2011 - Part II

Obie starring in "Operation
Pancakes for Mercy"
Alright, time for the second half of this week' FSoH/SItW, which is not a normal occurrence here at Donist World but seeing as how there were so many amazing comics that I read this week, I had to keep going.  Not just that, but my loyal reader, Obie, just so happens be here this morning and is watching over my shoulder as I type...dutifully correcting my spelling, grammar, manner of dress, hairstyle, food choices, belief systems and personal hygiene.  Yeah...thanks a lot, Obie.  Besides the pancakes I fed him--against my friends' wishes--will hopefully help him ease up off of me a little once he reads about...

Friday Slice of Heaven - The Continuing Saga...

Beware of Spoilers

Chew #18
Chew #18 - Written by John Layman and illustrated by Rob Guillory, published by Image Comics.  Chew continues to be one of my most highly anticipated monthly books and this month continues the trend of greatness.  This issue finds Tony and Colby being assigned deadlier and deadlier assignments as Applebee gleefully sends the pair off on what he hopes will end in their deaths; maybe Colby should not have flaked on him from the past Thanksgiving.  
They are assigned to assist the USDA and its team of versatile female operatives and their gang of deadly animal partners (not joking about this, see the parachuting squirrel with the cybernetic eye) to remove the threat of General Jontongjoo who is said to be developing a deadly bio-weapon.  Tony and Colby, who are looked upon as being a couple of worthless, pain-in-the-ass FDA officials, are tasked with using the mysterious ultimate weapon of last resort, the nature of which is highly classified.  When the mission goes completely tits-up, Tony is forced to engage the weapon and unleashes...forget it, just go read it.  All I will say is that it is awesome and left me laughing and cheering.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Who Is Jake Ellis #3
Who is Jake Ellis #3 - Written by Nathan Edmondson, illustrated by Tonci Zonjic, published by Image Comics.  My LCS finally pulled through on this one and I was able to read it on the day of release...weird, but cool beans in my book.  This issue finds Jake convincing Jon to regain control of his life by finding the "Facility" which had supposedly experimented on him.  After securing some cash and a minimal disguise, Jon picks up some necessary supplies and speaks a language that neither he nor Jake remember having known, deepening the mystery of both characters.  The pair abduct one of John's abductors and begin to formulate a secret plan of their own.  Who is Jake Ellis, the invisible man who seems to exist solely in Jon's head?  And for that matter, who is Jon Moore and what happened to him before and at the facility?  Two more issues to go, and supposedly WIJE has been extended to a monthly comic as opposed to just a mini, so hopefully there will be some answers and hopefully we will have more of this excellent story for years to come.  One thing to note in this issue is the beautifully colored pages of the nightclub when Jon walks across the dance floor to get his mark, which provide a stark contrast to the secluded corner where he and Jake were talking.  I just felt I had to mention those pages.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Cyclops #1 - 3 - Written by Matz and illustrated by Luc Jacamon, published by Archaia.  I have been meaning to check out Cyclops for some time now and was pleasantly surprised when Archaia handed out issues one through three at their Wondercon booth; I now need to pick up issue four as soon as possible and get this title on my pull list. 
In the year 2054, the U.N. has outsourced its military missions to Multicorps Security, Inc., the private security firm that won the first round of bidding on the contract.  Multicorps in turn equips all of its soldiers in the most up-to-date equipment with the main component being a single microcam attached inside the soldiers' helmets that provide recordings that are then broadcast to the world at large.  With both ratings and share price dictating the players and the focus of the war, where does this leave ex-soccer star Doug Pistoia, who only wanted a job, but now finds himself on the frontlines of both the war and many highly-rated television programs.  
Echoing the current state of warfare and depths of greed found in corporate interests in today's world, this series hit far too close to home.  The art is beautiful and the story intense, but I also found that it took a couple issues for me to fully sympathize with Doug Pistoia, but by the end of issue three I was hopelessly hooked.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Nobody
The Nobody TPB
The Nobody - Written and Illustrated by Jeff Lemire, published by Vertigo Comics a DC Comics imprint.  I know, if Jeff Lemire is involved, it is fairly safe to say that I will like the book, and this continues to be the case with The Nobody.  
When a stranger bandaged head-to-toe comes to the small town of Large Mouth, the residents have never experienced so much excitement.  Vickie, a teenager from the diner down the street, befriends the man, John Griffen, who opens up to her about the accident that left him permanently disfigured, but he continues to hide a terrible secret.  Fear and paranoia begin to set in when a local woman goes missing and some of the more bored townsfolk begin to suspect the stranger in her disappearance.
The Nobody is an incredibly well-told look at the nature of fear and mistrust and how the two can forever alter a town and the lives of everyone living there.  Lemire keeps to a black, white and blue color palette and fully utilizes his unique character designs and large paneled layouts.  Not for those who wish to be left smiling afterwards, but that is the case of most of Lemire's work.  A beautiful study of mood and the darkness hidden in our society.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  

Slice Into the Woods

 My Particular Copy of The Nobody - Damnit!  I picked up this book at Wondercon and was thrilled to find a vendor selling tons of TPBs for 50% off and hidden in the Marvel section I came across a copy of this amazing book.  I nearly danced with joy as I paid my $6.00 and skipped off into the mobs of people toward the next booth.  
Back home, after a particular grueling day at the jobby-job, I skipped exercise and decided to alleviate my bad mood by reading the work of one of my favorite creators, Jeff Lemire.  I consumed the pages in one sitting, with the climax of the story looming before me, everything came to a screeching halt as the story ended abruptly.  What?  Did Lemire plan to continue this in a second volume?  What the what?!  I later located another copy (and read it) and found that the one I read at home was missing the last seven pages.  Now everything made sense, but I was pissed that the now-long-gone booth sold me a defective copy, but you get what you paid for.  I will rebuy this book at a later date, one that is hopefully in tact.  The Nobody minus the last seven pages is still good, but with all of the pages intact...VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Grrrrrrr...annoying.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 4/08/2011

Usually I start this weekly entry with some sort of barely humorous joke about how I only have two readers--actually, my mom unfriended me, so I'm afraid it's just my friends' dog, Obie, as my sole reader now--but today we have to cut right to the chase and I will probably have to have two installments for this week. Never mind that there was no entry last week, I was at Wondercon and even if I had posted, there was so much fantastic stuff that I read that this post was destined to be huge.  Not a bad problem to have.  THERE WILL BE SOME MINOR SPOILERS.

Friday Slice of Heaven

The Cloud Searchers (Amulet)The Amulet Volume 3: The Cloud Searchers - Written and illustrated by Kazu Kibuishi, published by Graphix, a Scholastic imprint.  Volume three continues the wonderful all-ages tale with Emily (the young Stonekeeper who has been tasked with saving the world of Alledia), her brother Navin (a talented pilot), their recently healed  mother, a motley assortment of robots and Leon a wise foxlike warrior.  This installment they embark on a journey to locate the lost city of Cielis which holds the key to saving the magical world.  The group hire an airship pilot to aid in their quest, old enemies become allies, new enemies seek to thwart their every move.  Now that I am caught up on this amazing series, the long wait until volume four's release in September will be far too long.  The artwork and character designs look as beautiful as ever and the story sucked me in even further.  Robotic bunnies, deadly foxes and wyverns, oh my!  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Jimmy Olsen - One Shot - Written by Nick Spencer and illustrated by RB Silva, published by DC Comics.  I never in my life entertained the thought of reading a book about Superman's best pal, Jimmy Olsen, but with all of the raving about this book I thought that I would give it a try; thank goodness I did.  This comic was funny, clever, and engaging in a way that had me not wanting to put the book down until I had finished reading it.
I was instantly reminded of the more lighthearted '70s comics that I grew up reading and loving from the days before Miller and Moore brought the dreary.  Don't get me wrong, I like the dreary, but Jimmy Olsen made me remember a style of comics that I had forgotten about.  Spencer infuses the comic with witty and hip dialogue that worked for the story (ala Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as opposed to putting people off by trying too hard to be cute and failing (ala the last season of The Gilmore Girls...the one without the original creators).
Understandably, this one might tick off some of those who bought the original issues of Superman in which this story was serialized and I believe left unfinished, but seeing as how I usually do not care about Superman--with the exception of the phenomenal All-Star Superman--and did not buy those issues, I was fine with purchase.  The art fit the story perfectly and I hope to see more of the talented RB Silva.  Keep an eye out for all the visual cues...that's all I'm going to say.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Nonplayer - Everythinged by Nate Simpson, published by Image Comics.  For this one, let's ignore the fact that I just met Nate Simpson at Wondercon last week and that he is one of the nicest creators I have ever met; let's talk about the book itself.  Nonplayer is one of the most beautiful books I have ever seen with each page deserving a framed place on the wall, but this comic is not just a visual show stopper, it has an equally intriguing and well thought out story that hooked me within a couple of pages.
In the online fantasy game world of Jarvanth, Dana Stevens escapes the depressing real world and her humdrum life, but when she and a friend kill a NPC (NonPlayer Character...get it) and the other NPCs go berserk, something has possibly gone awry.   Thankfully, Dana can also escape her surrounding real world of blight and poverty by turning on her LifeSkin.  Even reality can be altered to the players wishes.
I know the next issue is going to take a while to release--quality demands time--and that is fine.  Even if this series draws the wait out to Bad Dog length's, this series has every indication of being worth it.  I also need to mention the gorgeous color palette Simpson uses to great effect with each page.  If you can find it, buy it!  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Sixth Gun #10 - Written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Brian Hurtt, published by Oni Press.  About frickin' time I got this book in my hands.  Why is getting a hold of each issue of The Sixth Gun such a traumatic journey.  Geez Louise, my LCS did not have it at release, nowhere in San Francisco--including the amazing Isotope Comics--had it in stock and even the Oni Press booth at Wondercon did not bring it to the show.  Hell, even Brian Hurtt, who was signing at the booth did not yet have his copy.  Thankfully the latest installment of one of my favorite comics was waiting for me on Wednesday at my LCS.
In this issue, Becky Montcrief continues regretting her decision concerning Kirby Hale, the bad butler gets ugly, Drake Sinclair learns another clue towards the nature of the guns, a golem knocks the bejesus out of someone and Becky gets in over her head.  Another tightly-written killer issue with more lovely art from Brian Hurtt.  My only slight confusion was a decision Becky makes, but I think it will be explained in the next issue.  Still VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Sweet Tooth #20 - Written and illustrated by Jeff Lemire, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint.  Two of my favorite books in the same read...all I needed was a new Stuff of Legend and I would be a happy camper.  In this issue Jepperd and a reluctant Gus go in search of the women only to find a new form of danger.  Meanwhile the missing women are seemingly rescued by the odd, lone, new character of Walter Fish, who reminds me slightly of Huell Howser when he announces, "Isn't It Amazing!" at a unexpected reveal moment.  Also Bobby gets deep on Singh and Johnny, while Singh reveals a little more of who Gus actually is...then again, he might just be balls nutty.  Lemire continues to convey raw emotion with each panel and a delivers solid story that keeps me begging for more.
Quite frankly, I'm getting tired of saying it, but you need to buy this book!  Even my wife liked it, although she said it was so heavy that she needed to take a break after the first trade and this is indeed a dark series, but one of the best I have ever read.  Still VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

To be continued with even more great comics!

Slice Into the Woods

Boring Personal Crap That Only Applies To a Whiner Like Donist - Seriously, you don't want to hear it.  Let's just say that I am (and have been) working to change things.  Time will tell.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Wondercon - Day Two

Day one of Wondercon was a total hoot.  We all had a blast and I was excited for day two, which might have had something to do with me waking at 2:00 AM...that and the allergy attack that was making me sneeze nonstop.  I ended up tossing and turning for about two or three hours until I finally slept for the final hours until Amy woke up at 7:00 AM and we began to pull ourselves together.

Once out the door and away from the air conditioned room, I started to feel better and we went to The Grove Yerba Buena for breakfast, where I ordered the monstrous, titanic-sized breakfast burrito that had been consuming my thoughts from the day before.  It was pretty damn good, but honestly could have stood to have some bacon or sausage in it, but that would have probably been too much of a good thing.  If you are thinking of going to Wondercon or any event at the Moscone Center, I highly recommend The Grove as a nearby place to get some good food at decent prices; plus the fresh-squeezed orange juice is amazing.  Whole Foods is also a great place for a healthy choice of pre-made sandwiches and drinks that you can smuggle into the event, sit in a corner and wolf it all down with out leaving the comfort of the event center.

From here, I pressured Amy to walk with me to Isotope Comics, probably the best comic book store I have EVER visited, but more on that in a moment.  The walk was...interesting... and the store was about two miles away, but I was dead set on going.  It is odd how one moment we were in the business section, which is fairly well maintained, and within a few blocks we found ourselves in total blight.  Far too many boarded up businesses, garbage and people acting less than appropriate.  Then with a quick turn to the right and up two blocks, we found ourselves at a small dog park, children playing, people talking and many cute locally owned cafes and restaurants.  What the hell?  Did we step into a transporter?  Totally weird.  Anyhow, we picked up sandwiches for the convention center and stopped at a Blue Bottle Coffee stand (heaven) to stall some time until Isotope opened at 11:00 AM.

I found this at Isotope!

When we found the fabled comic store, it was much more than the webpage, or the great iFanboy folks could ever convey.  First, go check out the website to get a view of what you see when you walk into the joint. They have a freaking Doctor Strange cloak for god's sake!  You don't get more magical than that.  The owner, James Sime--who you will never fail to recognize with his trademark suit, hair and moustache--was the kindest and most passionate of comic book store owners.  He loved what he did and his pride in his amazing store were evident.  He happily searched for some things that I was looking for, explained the deal with the toilet seats lining the vaulted ceilings (you have to see them) and talked with us about the Frank Quitely signing that was occurring at the store that evening between the hours of 8:00 PM and 2:00 AM.  Okay, you read that correctly.  Mr. Sime holds special events at a comic store that involves high-profile artists/writers, a staffer serves cocktails from the little bar and he has DJs spinning music into the wee hours of the morning.  Comics, booze, music and one can only assume hot girls...where the hell was this place when I was in my twenties?!?  Sime also let us have a sneak peak at some of the original art that would be on sale at the event and more than anything I wished to be rich so I could afford all of the artwork, but alas it was not meant to be.  Anyhow, Isotope Comics.  Go there.  Give Mr. Sime loads of business.  I very much wish this was my LCS.

Legion of Super-Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga (Deluxe Edition)
LoSH: The Great
Darkness Saga.  One of
the best.
Enough gushing about Isotope (so cool).  Amy and I then walked the long distance back to Wondercon where we split off so she could attend some panels and I could comb the floor until a few signings began.  Where Friday had been empty and manageable, Saturday was a zoo.  Mobs of people were everywhere and getting around the floor was more difficult.  What the hell happened?  Jeff arrived but was soon lost and surfing the waves of humanity, but it was 1:00 PM, which meant that Paul Levitz and Len Wein were signing at the DC booth.  First up was Mr. Levitz who signed my Legion of Superheroes: The Great Darkness Saga HC.  I told Levitz that my brother and I both worshiped this particular storyline and that we still love it to this day.  I also mentioned that I own whupped floppies of this run at home, but that I was embarrassed to have him sign such damaged copies.  He graciously told me that he actually prefered to sign books in that condition, because it showed love and appreciation in each damaged crease.  Huh.  Good point.  Next was Len Wein who signed my Roots of the Swamp Thing HC.  I started to tell him, "Hello, I"  He did not even look at me as he signed my book and only talked to the DC staffer that stood off to the side.  Okay...yeah, love your book and it was a huge inspiration to me as a child and as an aspiring writer.  Thank you I guess...bummer.

Wondercon Security photoOp
After having my books signed, I finally found Jeff again and we stalled some time until 2:00 PM when Jason Aaron was signing at the DC booth.  Mr. Aaron is a champion in my eyes as a huge success in a relatively small amount of time and as a highly accessible creator.  Over at Comics Experience (check it out), the Book Club met Jason Aaron and listened to him talk about his book Scalped and what it took for him to break into comics, which was probably the second most inspiring event for me as a writer; the first you can read about at The Brutal Circle.  When it was my turn to have Mr. Aaron sign my Scalped V.1, Scalped V.2 and The Otherside I thanked him for appearing at the Comics Experience and told him that it was a great experience.  He was surprised that I had been in attendance and that I was there to see him, but said that he had enjoyed chatting with everyone.  I also thanked him for critiquing a short script that I had written--also at the Comics Experience--and that his feedback on the use of silent panels had been immensely helpful to me.  This prompted another weird look but he recalled the story and he actually relayed some of it back to me.  He was genuinely happy that I had entered the story in the Eagles Initiative--which I have still not heard back on--and we shook hands; I was thrilled to have met him.

Chicks, Beer, Comics...

Jeff and I then went to the Oni Press booth where Brian Hurtt was signing copies of The Sixth Gun (one of my favorite books on the shelf) and The Damned (another great book).  I convinced Jeff to buy one and we each had him to sign our The Sixth Gun TPBs.  We talked with Mr. Hurtt, who is a very down to earth and genuine person, for a while and I wish I had thought to ask if he was taking commissions for drawings...oh well, it was great to meet the guy.  Later on Amy and I would return to Oni Press to buy the Stumptown HC and were able to have Greg Rucka sign it for us and you know what?  He too is an incredibly cool guy.  Is everyone at Oni Press really that nice?  It kind of seems that way. 

Speaking of Comics Experience, I then found the founder (huh...sounds like the title of a fantasy novel) Andy Schmidt at the IDW booth, where he was looking a little shellshocked by the sheer volume of people crowding around.   I was lucky to have a couple minutes to introduce myself in person as opposed to a computer screen and relayed my thanks for all the inspiration and opportunities that his amazing courses and workshops had afforded me.  Before his classes I never even considered comic book creation a possibility, and now it is a goal of mine.  It was nice to put a non-computer generated face to the person.

After meeting Mr. Schmidt, I split from Jeff to check out the "Creator Rights" panel with Mike Friedrich, Marv Wolfman, Joe Field and Michael Lovitz, and moderated by Mark Evanier.  Another fine panel which needed twice the time alotted to get all of the information across, but you make due with what you are given.  The main point I took away from talk was that no matter what you do, someone out there is trying to screw you; I am only partially joking.    Here is a rundown of key points:

  • (Jack) Kirby had once told Mark Evanier, "I've done about as well as you can do in comics and it isn't that great."  Ouch.
  • Beware of vanity presses
  • Visit for stories of exploitive presses.  I have not yet had a chance to visit the site, but will sometime soon.
  • Publish your work for free on the internet before giving it away to someone for free (meaning the rights to the work).  Don't give away the rights out of an act of desperation.
  • Michael Lovitz has a comic book on copyright and trademarks from Sirius.
  • They mentioned that there is a group of volunteer lawyers for the arts in many big cities and to look them up for inexpensive consultations.
  • Also read Coleen Doran's weblog for some of the horrendous nonsense various assholes have put her through over the years.
  • Some of the bad small press companies will insist that in order to publish they will need 100% of the rights to your work...they do not.  Watch what you sign and KEEP YOUR RIGHTS.
  • If work for hire, go over your contract with a fine-toothed comb.  Work for hire can be a good living, but you give up some/most of the rights with the focus being on royalty payments.
  • "Nothing protects ideas other than silence"
  • Google is your friend.  Look up EVERYONE you intend to do business with.
  • Always have a lawyer go over your contracts and keep in mind that you can negotiate with your lawyer by giving them a percentage of royalties for their help...almost like an agent.
  • Mark Evanier said, "When you put your work into the world, someone will hate it and someone will steal it."  Good to know going into this business and something to prepare for mentally, emotionally and legally from the beginning.  
  • "Working for people can be great, but when working for a company the people within the company can change."  Make sure you have a solid contract in the event that your greatest champion at the company leaves and is replaced by a scumbag.

Okay, now I'm good and scared, but this was a highly informative panel with information that all creators should take to heart.

Martinis and love, the
cure for the common
allergy attack.
Right around this point, I began to fall apart.  I was sneezing, coughing, and dizzy becauase of what I could only assume were allergies.  Jeff, Amy and I looked at the throngs of people and realized that we were all in the poor house at that point, I was a mess, and happy hour at the Marriott Marquis SkyView Lounge was sounding better and better, so we said goodbye to Wondercon and split.

After a couple of drinks and a slight reprieve from the allergies, Amy and Jeff decided that we hop in Jeff's car and drive to Cha-Cha-Cha; I did not like this plan.  Here's the thing and a wee look into brain of the curmudgeon that is Donist.  I can tolerate any big city up until the point that I have to hop in a car, drive somewhere, then spend 20+ minutes driving around, praying to come across the holy grail...a parking space.  After eventually finding a spot way out in the middle of nowhere, we made our way to Cha-Cha-Cha, only to be told there was a wait of at least one hour.  I was sneezing uncontrollably, the Wal-Dryl (Walgreens's Benedryl knockoff), had not yet kicked in, we drove around for 20 minutes trying to find a parking space, I was hungry, then were told we had a one hour wait and I was not a happy camper.  We then went to a Mexican food place with a one hour thirty minute wait...Arrrggh.  Son of a bitch, I was becoming pissed.  Thankfully we lucked out when we found a place called Bissap Baobab that served Senegalese food that had three seats at the bar.  The food was outstanding and the ginger drink was heavenly.  I calmed significantly at that point, but we were soon back in the car.  Jeff dropped us off at the hotel and Amy and I were asleep in seconds, especially after a couple more Wal-Dryls.

Next, a brief rundown on the loot we brought home...

Let me know if you went to Wondercon and what your favorite moment was, I would love to hear.