Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 3/30/2012

(Sung to the tune of Wall of Voodoo's "Mexican Radio")

Slim pickings in my comic pull, dear
My heart feels just a slight twinge of fear
But Matt Murdoch's a winning number
Mole Man's got some stiffs with which to encumber
Fighting underground you best bring it
Popping monster tongues make me feel sick
Defeated Molely will have to pay
Black Cat, Felicia, why don't you stay

I read the Daredevil comic book
I read the Daredevil whoa-oh comic book

Shhhhhhh, be vewy, vewy quiet. We're hunting comics. Huh huh huh huh. Hello there Donist World readers (mom), and welcome to Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods. I'm here with my trusted companion and main critic, Obie, my friends' Boston terrier. We are on a search for new comics this week and although we found three, only one is providing the proper clues to the mystery of that which thrills the Donist. Obie is decked out in his finest Sherlock Holmes hat, coat, pipe and magnifying glass--minus the opium addiction of course--as we searched the comic racks this week and turned up a particularly intriguing comic. Elementary my dear Obie, it's...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Daredevil #10
Daredevil #10 - Written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Paolo Rivera, published by Marvel Comics. Whoa now, wait a minute. How'd this here Marvel book get onto Donist World's FSoH/SitW, let alone my pull? Oh, I see, it's Daredevil, that explains everything. Here we have a title not mired (yet) in multi-issue crossovers or monstrous "events" that manages to be a blast each month.
In the previous issue, Matt Murdoch, Daredevil, traveled below the ground in search of a grave robber, who was stealing the coffins of the dead...all of the dead. Daredevil follows and finds that the Mole Man, Harvey Elder, and his moloids were behind the dastardly deed and it seems that the Mole Man was after one body in particular; that of a woman he loved from afar. This issue we find Matt plummeting into the mouth of one of the Mole Man's "pets," requiring Horn Head to do something disgusting to get free. Harvey and Matt end up fighting, but Daredevil wins in the end taking the dead woman's body as well as some reparations--some of which he keeps...uh-oh--and he sets things right at the cemetery. Back at home he discovers that Felicia, the Black Cat, had stolen a hard drive possessing information worth killing for, but then put it back and is now on the run. Felicia is in hiding, and who's the stranger keeping an eye on Matt Murdoch's every move?
Another great issue of Daredevil and I will definitely be back for the next. Waid continues to bring excitement to a series that had been drowning in bleak despair for many years and here we have a fight with the Mole Man that has every opportunity to be cheesy and standard superhero fare. It's not. Instead the reader is left sympathizing to some degree with Harvey Elder and his screwed up life. His abhorrent crime is still wrong, but his reasons for stealing the bodies from the cemetery make sense and even Daredevil feels bad for the guy. Waid also shows with this issue that even a superhero is not infallible as Daredevil keeps some of the diamonds for himself. Paolo Rivera continues to provide some fantastic interior art and the cover alone is beyond lovely. I know there are a few other Marvel titles that I should be reading such as Uncanny X-Force and Wolverine and the X-Men, but for now Daredevil is the offering from the House of Ideas that I look forward to the most each month. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Otherly Heavenly Things - As quiet a week as it was for new comics, there was still plenty to keep me happy and overjoyed in the meantime. for instance...
I Finished the Second Draft of My All-Ages Novel - Here, here! I started the book back in January 2011 and began work on the second draft a year later. I'm excited for what I've written, but I still want to run it by my in-house editor ( English Teacher wife. If you're a writer, you should get one of those), and will be doing god-only-knows what sorts of chores in order to repay her for her invaluable time. Still, I'm proud of not just the fact that I have written my second novel, but also the fact that I'm excited by my story and hope that others some day soon will enjoy it as well.
I Watched the Scott Snyder Recorded Critique of My Short Comic Script - I should clarify. The vast amount of encouraging and helpful information that Mr. Snyder provided was priceless. Seeing my weird, twitchy self on the monitor...not so much so. Anyhow, I watched through the nearly two hours of footage, took many notes and will begin expanding "Down By the Pond" from a five-page story out to a full twenty-two-page comic starting this weekend. I'm still reeling from just how kind Mr. Snyder was with his advice and his time. Hopefully I can improve the story and give it the space to breathe that it deserves.
Beer Tasting at the Mercury Room - I went to a beer tasting this past Saturday and it was an informatively awesome event. If I wasn't having so much fun, I would have been taking notes. We tasted six beers under the instruction of a licensed cicerone (the sommelier of the beer world): pilsner, a false-hefeweizen (I forget what it was called), a hefeweizen, a Belgian beer, an IPA and an Imperial Stout. Now I'm thinking that I want to not only write for a  living, but also become a cicerone. Sounds like a plan, Stan. Afterwards we met more friends at the Hollister Brewing Company for more (better than what was tasted) beer and good food.
The Hunger Games Movie - Joy of joys. My friends and I went to the Hollister Brewing Company two days in a row and that's a good thing. Lunch and pints of IPA followed by a movie...what's not to love? As for the movie itself, I loved it too. All three of us did. I had devoured the Suzanne Collins three books in short order and was not disappointed by the movie at all. The horror and building tension of the Reaping was powerful as was the District 11 riot after the death of Rue. Scenes of the stark poverty of the districts intermixed the excesses of the Capitol infuriated me, but then tempered my reaction through the introduction of characters sympathetic to the tributes such as Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) and former Hunger Games winner Haymitch Abernath (Woody Harrelson). Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) were exactly how I pictured them in the book and they were spot on in their rolls. Overall a great movie based on an excellent series of books. Bring on Catching Fire! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Archie the Married Life: Volume 1 - Written by Micael Uslan and Paul Kupperberg, illustrated by Norm Breyfogle, Andrew Pepoy and Joe Rubenstein, published by Archie Comics. The only reason this is not up above and getting its own mini review is that I'm only about a third of the way through the comic, but it is worthy of mention because I am loving this book more than I ever thought I would. Basically, after the whole Archie Marries Veronica and Archie Marries Betty hoopla--which I have not read--Archie Comics decided to push the matter and show what the title character's life would be like with each woman. I'm going to say's fascinating, well-written and so realistic, that I could see aspects of myself within each character...with the exception of Veronica's father. The writers immediately grab hold of the reader, leaving them no choice but to sympathize with each character as they attempt to make their way through an increasingly difficult and oftentimes disappointing world. Don't get me wrong, this is not to say that there are not cheerful and uplifting moments, it's just that the protective shell of the old Archieverse has been removed and with that gone, well, life is not all that easy. Again, so very well done and I hope to have time to finish reading the very book 10-year-old Donist would have turned his nose up at. Archie The Married Life: Volume 1 is incredibly moving and a joy to read thus far. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Holdfast Rifle Company and One More Food Thing - Last night Amy and I went with our friends to hear our other friends perform in their old-timey country band Holdfast Rifle Company at the Santa Barbara Brewhouse. You can hear a podcast with an older performance here and see a video here. Another great show and I'm not just saying that because I love these guys. The Brew House in addition to having great music and...well...brews, has some great food as well. How's fillet mignon and mushroom enchiladas grab ya? Oh, that's not enough? How's about raspberry chipotle cheesecake? I don't even like cheesecake and this was out of this world.

Slice Into the Woods

Three Comics Enter, One Comic Leaves - It was a light week for Donist World with only three comics purchased, but of those three, only one really wowed me, which is kind of a bummer. Here's hoping things turnaround next month.

Why Can't I Eat and Drink What I Want Without Gaining Weight - Yeah, that's it. Read the above entries about beer bonanzas, fillet mignon and mushroom enchiladas, and raspberry chipotle cheesecake. Damnit. Oh well, back to the Wii Fit to undo the damage of my forced inactivity towards the tail end of 2011 and my lack of self-control. Damnit.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 03/24/2012

(Sung to the tune of Bow Wow Wow's version of "I Want Candy")

This Batman guy just got his ass beat
Fighting Owls ain't all that sweet.
Becky Montcrief's in Penance under fire.
Drake Sinclair's position's dire

I want comics, I want comics

Wonder Woman beats a hellspawn down
Despite Hephaestus's toothy frown
Donist World, just what the doctor ordered
Sweet books to make your mouth water

Yeah, that's right! *pht-buzzzzzz* (that's a party blower folks...I have no idea how to write that, just know it's a party blower). Obie, my friends' Boston terrier and most ardent Donist World reader--and critic--and I just realized that we hit the two year mark here at Donist World. Yup, 10,774 views over 213...oops, make that 214...posts over two years. Sure, more popular blogs add a couple zeroes onto their daily view, but heck, I ain't complaining. Hold on, let me light up Obie's cigar, and don't worry, he's nearly 3-years old and it's almost 7:00 AM, which is the perfect time for dogs to smoke cigars. I'm going to pour us some Cristal to celebrate this momentous occasion, but the funny thing is that I always thought Cristal was champagne and was kept in a bottle, not a crystal skull that says "Vodka" on it. Anyhow, while we celebrate, pour yourself an early morning...errr...something and have a look at...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

The Sixth Gun #20
The Sixth Gun # 20 - Written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Brian Hurtt, published by Oni Press. The Sixth Gun never fails to surprise or remind the reader that although this comic is indeed a Western, it also travels in the supernatural and the weird. Mixing genres is a potentially dangerous affair if not handled carefully and can pull the reader out of a story soon after they jump in, but Bunn and Hurtt's fantastic comic--one of my favorites on the stand--has nothing to worry about in this regard. The bizarre and the mystical weave in and out of The Sixth Gun beautifully, yet the creators still manage to deliver unexpected shocks that are far removed from reality while fitting into this fictional world in the most believable way.
Becky Montcrief's life keeps going from bad to worse in her quest to find her missing friend, Drake Sinclair. Cutoff from the Sixth Gun and pinned down behind the very well that has poisoned and addicted the inhabitants of two warring towns, Becky, a local boy from New Penance and Carlyle, the leader of Old Penance, the same man who just tried to kill her, have to work together to survive. Thankfully, Carlyle gains the upper hand(s) in an unexpected way. Meanwhile Drake is not having the best of days as he is tortured by an agent of the Knights of Solomon who has to keep Drake alive, yet does not have to make the man comfortable. Drake gets the worst pedicure ever and the reason for Penance's--both of them--existence becomes clear. One of the most horrific torture devices I can imagine is introduced and Becky taps into the power of the gun, but it is the sacrifice of an unlikely hero that saves Becky, freeing her to rescue Drake.
Bunn and Hurtt successfully deliver a gun fight, a standoff and its resolution all in one comic, while also bringing the chills and willies from the pages where Drake is being tortured. Criminy that's going to give me nightmares. Brrrrr. The Sixth Gun continues to be one of the most unique titles on the stand and at twenty issues in, I am just as engaged as the day I first discovered this fantastic comic book, if not more so. This issue is a tense, well-written and thought out tale driven by beautiful art with flowing action scenes that had me whipping through the pages. As always, I have to mention Bill Crabtree's striking colors that set the tone for every panel. The Sixth Gun is a book more people should be reading. There's a television show coming and a third trade on the way, so it's not too late to jump in. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Batman #7
Batman #7 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Greg Capullo, published by DC Comics. I've mentioned before that Batman was one of those characters who I loved as a kid and through the Dark Knight and Year One stages, but ultimately was a character I gave up on more than a decade ago. Enter Scott Snyder. Snyder's fantastic and oftentimes terrifying run on Detective Comics not only brought me back to reading a Batman title--even though that character was Dick Grayson at the time--he turned me into a fan again which continues with Bruce Wayne in the current Batman title. Now with a fearsome collective of villains in the Court of Owls, Batman has me eager for every new issue coming out.
A nearly broken, and momentarily dead, Batman's life is jumpstarted by a Suicide Girl named Harper, who I've never heard of before (Note to self: look into who this character is). As Batman literally crawls back home, the brief look at the Court of Owl's Talon creation process is revealed. Alfred brings Batman back to the Bat Cave and we see just how close the Owls came to crushing Gotham's protector. Bruce begins to examine a "dead" Talon and reveals a startling secret to Nightwing about the identity of the thing strapped to the table before them. Finally, the Owls begin their official introduction to Gotham City and a dark time looms for all who cross their path.
This issue ratcheted back the tension of the previous issues to prepare for what looks to be an even more intense ride. Snyder and Capullo have done a wonderful job showing us a Batman who is fighting to regain control after being systematically torn down. The lovely yet disturbing introductory pages hint that Bruce is not doing so well at it. Although this issue was missing the action of last issue it did serve to provide a nice breather to reconnect with both Bruce and Dick, while providing a glimpse into the Court of Owls and their Talons that will probably give me nightmares; those owl masks are horrific in their simplicity. Capullo delivers some of his most stunning pages to date and FCO's colors push those pages to intense heights. For a lead in to a (semi)event I couldn't be more excited to see what outlandish things come next. Bring on the Court of Owls! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Wonder Woman #7
Wonder Woman #7 - Written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Cliff Chiang, published by DC Comics. For the past decade I have been considering picking up a Wonder Woman graphic novel or two, but there have been so many runs with so many creators that choosing one just seemed a Herculean a task. So I never picked up a single one. Then came the new 52, with a refreshed continuity and a brand spanking new start to a character I have always loved. I couldn't resist...thank goodness.
Two more gods are introduced this issue: The trigger happy Eros as a beautiful man with twin golden guns and Hephaestus the forger, a hairless, sharp-toothed beast with smoldering hands. Eros agrees to lead Wonder Woman and the gang to Hephaestus in an effort to arm them as they prepare to venture to Hell to rescue the abducted Zola. Unfortunately Hell will not have that and sends a monster to deal with them. For Diana, defeating a giant smoldering salamander is a simple matter, but accepting the truth about Hephaestus's many workers proves to be a more difficult matter. Armed with limited information Wonder Woman jumps to a wrong conclusion that leaves her questioning her resolve and ashamed at her actions on the eve of her descent into Hell.
Gods be praised! I loved this issue. Azzarello delivers some fantastic character moments with Wonder Woman, Eros and Hephaestus as well as dropping in tidbits of the Amazon's history and methods for keeping the population going that I was not expecting and found startling in the best of ways. Cliff Chiang is back and as good as fill-in artist Tony Akins was on the past couple of issues, Chiangs touch on this series makes this book visually stunning; just have a look at the Hephaestus splash and at Diana's expressions throughout. Colorist Matthew Wilson plays up the emotions of each scene by cleverly changing up the color palette in interesting ways depending on the light sources or action in each panel. The whole book was beautiful in look and story and Wonder Woman continues to be one of the best books to come out of the 52. If you are a fan of greek mythology and want a book with a strong female lead that has thus far stayed out of the tights and capes rigamarole, then you must pick up this great series. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items - I was really pleased with the high quality of the three titles mentioned above, but there were really no other comics or graphic novels that I read this week as I have been hammering through the novel Game of Thrones, which I hope to finish this weekend. I will mention that I downloaded the Archie: The Married Life graphic novel through the iPad Archie app and I hope to begin reading it this coming week. It strikes me as a bizarro world-like twist that I am excited to read an Archie book, but after reading the first issue of the Archie Marries Veronica storyline, I was incredibly moved by the situations and the harsh reality all of the character's had grown into. It was striking, sad, and entirely relatable and I have not stopped thinking about that story since January when I first read it. Make mine Archie! After decades of superheroes, I have finally seen the light for something I never fully understood.
Mixed berry scones. Every Friday, while I tighten up what will be the "Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods" blog post, my wife makes me something she calls special breakfast. Why she does this for me I will never understand, but it is truly a perfect way to end what consistently manages to be a stressful jobby-job week. I feel like Homer Simpson drooling on my keyboard just thinking about these scones...screw it, I'm going to have another.
I'm looking forward to this weekend as I will be going to a beer tasting with friends on Saturday and finally going to see John Carter--after a stop at the Hollister Brewing Company of course. I would love to see The Hunger Games, but I figure I will let the teens filter out over the next few weeks so I can actually enjoy the movie instead of wanting to throttle children texting and chatting during the movie.

Slice Into the Woods

K12 Schools - I'm going to be brief here as I need to do a little more research on this company...keyword "company." Amy informed me the other night that there is a company called K12 (Stock code: LRN) that is a virtual school that parents can opt to have their children enroll in as opposed to going to a regular public school. My initial problems with this are:
1) For-profit education screams conflicts of interest and not necessarily what is best for most of the kids enrolled.
2) Severely underfunded public schools opting to go a less costly route and loosing face-to-face educators to a software based school model.
3) Public funding funneling into a private, for-profit company.
Again, I need to look further into this, but everything about these "schools" screams bad idea.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 3/16/2012

(Sung to the tune of Nine Inch Nails's "Bite the Hand that Feeds")

You read Frankenstein, it's dang fine
Dude's wrecking havoc on humanid spine
Kate Kane is getting bold
As Batwoman, son, she's so hot and she's deadly and she's cold

Donist needs you to believe
Saga sure as hell did please
Great characters are bees knees
Taboo love, baby makes three
Whoa! Robot on her knees?
You just have to read it

Space Cadet Obie, my friends' Boston terrier and my main Donist World reader outside of my mom, and I are in a sci-fi kind of mood this week. Not only did I spend some time lettering a comic short I wrote a while back that was recently illustrated by the immensely talented artist Sara Calzada, Space Cadet Obie and I also read the fantastic new comic from Brian K. Vaughan, Saga. So, while Obie tries to figure out how to eat his kibble through the makeshift fishbowl he is wearing as a helmet, I'm going to watch some Firefly and eat a healthy heaping stack of churros. Then...crud...I too am wearing a fishbowl for a helmet and I just got cinnamon and sugar all over the damn...anyhow, here's this weeks...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Saga #1
Saga #1 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples, published by Image Comics. It's been three or four years since Brian K. Vaughan released his last comic book, the excellent Ex Machinabut has his absence from the field for so long dulled his senses as to what makes a great comic book? If you've read any of his other works, you already know the answer to that question. Of course it has not. I will say that this comic deserves a couple of reads through as it starts off great and only gets better with each read.
The story begins with the past. Alana, a native of the planet Landfall, gives birth to Saga's narrator, a horned and winged baby named Hazel. The problem is that the father, Marko, is from the satellite moon of Wreath and Landfall and Wreath have been at war for generations. The fact that Alana and Marko are in love and have married is not the most popular of notions anywhere in the galaxy, but the birth of the baby Hazel is a crime that could have ramifications to the wars being waged. Almost immediately after the baby's birth, Alana's more technologically advanced people show up with a television-headed robot leader that threatens to kill the couple and their child, but Marko's people also arrive with magic blaring that leaves everyone dead...everyone except, Marko, Alana and Hazel. Elsewhere, a couple of television-headed robot lovebirds attempt to get busy, but are interrupted with news of the dead Landfallians. But unfortunately, Wreath has also set plans in motion to capture the new family whose main goal is to find a rocket that will allow them to escape the distant planet of Cleave and raise their child away from constant war.
Wow. Only one issue in and I am completely signed up for the ride. Saga introduces wonderful characters who you quickly understand and whose plight you sympathize with. Yes Romeo and Juliet has been done many times before, but the story and characters revitalize the tale and add many a new twist. Fiona Staples's art fits the book beautifully, providing expressive emotion to the characters and costumes that separate the people just as well as their differing physical attributes. The first issue is priced at $2.99 with forty-four pages of content, so giving this new, creator-owned series a try should be an easy decision. Saga looks to be something amazing with its blend of sci-fi and sorcery, and a grand tale of interplanetary forbidden love that I hope to be reading for years to come. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Batwoman #7
Batwoman #7 - Written by J. H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman and illustrated by Amy Reeder, published by DC Comics. Last issue was a bit jarring between the jumps from one character's story to another and the moving backwards and forwards in time with each character. Couple the new storytelling decision with new artist Amy Reeder and Batwoman is a changed book, but not in a bad way. In this issue Reeder's art looks even better than last issue and the chaotic progression of the story flowed more easily than last issue as Kate's life becomes even more bizarre. Batwoman continues to be one of the best of DC's new 52 even absent J. H. Williams III's much-loved art.
Kate Kane, Batwoman, is beating the snot out of the hooked horror who nearly eviscerated her cousin, Bette, a few issues ago, but Kate learns a spooky lesson over who is controlling the man with the hooked hand. But Hooky is not the only enemy standing between Kate and the missing children. The Weeping Woman, Killer Croc, newcomer (?) Bloody Mary and their leader Falchion await to sacrifice her to "the mother." Jacob Kane stands watch over his comatose niece, Bette, while Kate--from two weeks earlier--confronts an old "colleague" to learn that Medusa is muscling it's way into Gotham, starting with the more supernatural threats. Maro, Falchion's second-in-command, summons Bloody Mary and makes good on her promise to help Killer Croc to change his turning him into something far worse. Finally Maro's sister is caught by the police and Cameron Chase wants Kate to extract her.
Despite jumping back and forth within the story like the previous issue, this month's installment flowed better, providing an easier, more engaging read. It also did not feel like a 22-page comic book (or rather a 24-page one) forced into the confines of a 20-page comic book. Each of the characters received additional time and the dialogue seemed more natural. Whatever the kinks were before, they were diminished with this issue to the reader's benefit. As for the art, if there has to be a stand-in artist for J. H. Williams III, Amy Reeder is a fantastic choice for the duty and her illustrations are even better than last issue, which was impressive in its own right. I have read that she will be leaving the book after only three or four issues, which is disappointing, but hopefully we'll see more of her soon. Batwoman jumps into the deep end of the supernatural pool with a new cast of villains who are heavy in the realm of myth and urban legend and I like it. The sequences with Bloody Mary are beyond disturbing not just visually, but also because I semi-remember the old tales from when I was a kid. I also really want to know more about the creepy-as-all-get-out hook...brrrrrrrr. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Frankenstein Agent
of S.H.A.D.E.
Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #7 - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Alberto Ponticelli. I imagine that Jeff Lemire is having a blast with this series and that the anything-goes structure of the book is a nice break from his more serious Animal Man and Sweet Tooth comics that I also love. Now that he will be departing the book to tackle Justice League Dark, I have to admit that I will be sad to see him go, but I am hopeful that his replacement, Matt Kindt, will continue to let the weirdness run rampant and that the creepiness will continue to thrill and chill.
Things are not looking good for Nina and Lady Frankenstein as the pair face down the original and certifiably insane Creature Commandos, and unfortunately for them Frankenstein and the rest of the current team are smack in the middle of a Humanid revolt. Velcoro and Griffith break off from the battle to grab some extra weapons from the secret armory, choosing the coolest weapons known to man. Ray Palmer and Father get in on the Humanid ass-kicking action while Khalis, the mummy, suffers a temporary setback. The good guys think they've saved the day until Father tells them the identity of the most dangerous of the prisoners, the one who managed to escape.
Dang, this series is just a kick in the pants. It has everything that young Donist and not-as-young-Donist could ever want in a comic: Frankenstein's monster, vampires, werewolves, mummies, sea creatures and other classic monsters mixed with more modern, sci-fi elements all in the confines of one book. Frankenstein continues to bring a retro-horror-mag-from-the-'70s vibe while providing plenty of Weird Science in the same comic. One thing that struck me as particularly odd was the change in Alberto Ponticelli's art style from last issue to this one. Where his line work had a particularly rough style to it, this issue saw more distinct and deliberate shapes and characters. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but the shift was readily apparent. Still, Frankenstein is a fun as hell (there's that "f-word" again) comic book and one the I hope to be reading for some time to come. RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly items - Also this week, I picked up Demon Knights #7 - Written by Paul Cornell and illustrated by Diogenes Neves & Robson Rocha, published by DC Comics. Lots of blood and guts, and fighting with Etrigan and the gang. Shining Knight is injured, Xanadu restored, Savage returned and what looks like the heroes departing the camp in the next issue. I am still enjoying this series and I'm anxious to see where it goes to next. RECOMMENDED!
The Shade #6 - Written by James Robinson and illustrated by Javier Pulido, published by DC Comics. This issue continues the story of the Barcelona, Spain-based vampire "La Sangre"--the Shade's self-adopted daughter--and her fight with the apparently immortal Inquisitor. Richard Swift takes a more background roll in this latest chapter, but as the final caption hints, this will not continue to be the case next month. I can't wait. RECOMMENDED!
I Received a Script Critique from Scott Snyder - It's no secret that I love Scott Snyder's work from Swamp Thing to Detective Comics to Severed to Batman and this past Tuesday was amazing. Last month I had submitted a short 5-page script titled "Down by the Pond" to the Comics Experience Creators Workshop forum and it was chosen to be live critiqued by Mr. Snyder, who was kind enough to stay up very late to work through my script with me. The critique was even better than I anticipated as Snyder recommended not just looking at my script as it was, but in the context of fleshing it out into a full 22-page comic. What followed was two hours and fifteen minutes of some of the most valuable advice and encouragement I have received in my short writing career. I will be reviewing the recording this weekend to jot down notes and prepare to expand out the story and give it the space it deserves. I cannot begin to express how kind and helpful Mr. Snyder was and the advice that I received was amazing, but I dread seeing myself on the recording as I was pretty shell-shocked by all of the information and feedback I received. Hopefully I didn't sound to obnoxious, but I'm excited to get to revising. The even more startling thing is that Mr. Snyder agreed to revisit my script once it I expand it out to the full 22 page length; his willingness to help goes beyond anything I had hoped to receive that night. There are MANY amazing opportunities like this in the Comics Experience Creators Workshop, so if you are interested in making comics, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

Slice Into the Woods

Ender's Game is Pr0n - Speaking of sci-fi...oh my goodness gracious. Oh my stars and garters. A parent in Aiken, SC has succeeded in getting their son's teacher put on academic suspension as a result of the teacher reading the Orson Scott Card novel Ender's Game to the class. This lascivious piece of clearly filthy reading material is a book just oozing with sex and foul language...wait a minute. No it is not. It is the story of boy who is chosen to save the planet, while attempting to keep himself alive from threats of the human kind. I have read this book four or five times in my life and I would have had my mind blown to have been taught this book in junior high school. Come to think of it, if my class had read any books remotely like Ender's Game I would have probably taken up writing decades sooner. So, now some asshole parent is not only attempting to ban this book and two others (one of which is an Agatha Christie novel) from the school, this parent called the police on the teacher in addition to complaining to the school, who did not stand behind their instructor and instead let a psycho parent dictate what books the school will carry and as a result let that parent have say over the curriculum. Now, maybe this teacher was not the best and perhaps the school was looking to get rid of them, but being placed on administrative leave because of a book that is routinely taught in MANY schools across the country is unacceptable. Shame on the cowards at the school and shame on the parent for being a hobbyless nut job. My only word of advice to the student, who now has a big "kick me" sign on their back for the rest of their secondary school career, is to study hard, read the rest of the Ender's Game series (Ender's Shadow is good too) and do what you can to go away to college and get out from under the insanity of their parent. C'mon South Carolina, get out of the stone age and support your educators. Stop the assault on literature. What's next, a good ol' timey book burning? How about that Harry Potter? It's evil. How about Catcher in the Rye? It has a whole couple of swear words in it. LANDS SAKE ALIVE!

Here's an article.  And here's the news coverage


Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 3/9/2012

(Sung to the tune of Missing Persons's "Words")

Do you read 'em
Donist cares
Do you read 'em
Donist cares

Swamp Thing is scary, those trees are kind of cruel
Alec must save Abbey from Sethe's rotten rule
But Green, Red, Rot they're messin' with plans
Animal Man is plagued by cats and dogs
It's kind of gross, but there's also rotten hogs
Moore's Rachel Rising counts Donist World as fans

Comic books can scare the pants off of you, man
Comic books can
Comic books can be so darn scary, you best keep the lights on tonight

Shhhhh, be very, very quiet. Obie, my friends' Boston terrier and my main Donist World reader after my mom, and I are not hunting rabbits. No. We are hiding under my piercing-blue Snuggy and shivering with fear after reading this week's comic book offerings. Oh man, there's some creepy stuff in there, but try as we might, we just can't look away. Brrrr. Did you feel that?! That cold breeze coursing through the house. Oh man, that does not bode well. Not at all. Could it be ghosts? Could it me animals infected with the Rot? Maybe it's a pack of wild invunche come to get us. Oh me, oh my maybe it's...Oh. Amy left the sliding door open again after watering the plants. We're still too scared to move, so let's stay right here and check out...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Swamp Thing #7
Swamp Thing #7 - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Yanick Paquette, published by DC Comics. For a book titled Swamp Thing, the fact that the agent of the Green had not yet appeared could have signaled the doom of this series, but that is not the case. The past six issues have focused on Alec Holland, the human, and his reunion with Abigail as they attempt to thwart the efforts of the Rot. Six issues of no swamp thingees--not counting the Parliament of Trees's agent--and the series only becomes better and more intense with each passing issue. Issue seven changes the dynamic in a shocking, yet anticipated (or do I mean hoped for?) way.
Alec Holland is slowly dying in a most horrific manner, and the Parliament of Trees--especially Jesus Swamp Thing--are desperate to see that the man suffers for as long as possible while they burn in the jungles of South America. As they die, the Parliament tells Alec of what is in store for Abigail as she transforms into the Rot's queen, and despite his pleading the Parliament no longer has the power to transform Holland. All seems lost until the very item at the center of Alec's first transformation looks to provide the hope needed and the Green's champion is reborn and ready for war.
This issue is what I've been waiting for. Alec Holland sacrifices his recently returned humanity in a hope to rescue Abigail from the abomination Sethe. Snyder has successfully revitalized characters I had written off long ago,  and made them once again matter. As the main character dies, the reader feels for him and understands his disdain of the Green as something no better than the Rot or even the Red. Throughout Alec's ordeal Snyder continues to drop hints at what looks to be some interesting stories in the coming years. Yanick Paquette's art is more beautiful than ever, but there were a couple of pages that took me a few minutes to figure out the reading order of the panels; not a big deal. Still, the art was stunning, the story even more so and the skepticism I had at the announcement of this series is long gone. I cannot wait to experience what comes next, and I am filled with an anticipation that I have not felt since the end of Alan Moore's run from many years ago. This issue is by far the best of Snyder's run to date, hitting every character moment and suspenseful turn with exact precision; I will be reading this issue again this evening. The beginning of the month is a great time for the scary comics enthusiast. It doesn't get better than this! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Animal Man #7
Animal Man #7 - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Steve Pugh & Travel Foreman, published by DC Comics. After last month's step back from the action to provide a well-written and fascinating look at Buddy Baker's earlier career as an actor, Lemire eases the reader back to the tension of the story. The situation looks to be about as bad as it can get, but with some clever bits of humor and some touching family moments to soften the transition, life for the Bakers is about to become even more terrifying. Bring it on.
Buddy Baker, aka Animal Man, is stuck in an RV with his wife, son, mother-in-law, and fated-to-be-the-savior-of-the-red daughter. They're not only lost on the road, but lost over how to deal with the threat of the Rot-infested animals pursuing them. Buddy heads into town with his son, who is jealous of his sister's abilities and all of the attention his father is giving her. Buddy helps his son impress a couple of local girls and repairs some of his bond that had been steadily cracking. A foreboding dream of the future features an adult Animal Woman (Maxine), Swamp Thing, an aged Constantine and Abigail (?) engaging in a losing battle against Sethe and the agents of the Rot. Upon waking, Buddy has little time to ponder the dream as the Rot beasts appear at his doorstep.
Where Animal Man's sister book Swamp Thing saw stressful, horrific action and a startling transformation leading toward the grand battle, Buddy's story is just beginning to ramp up again. This is fine. My first reaction to finishing this issue was "let's get this thing started already," but then it occurred to me that Animal Man is more about the relationship between Buddy and his family. The Rot needs to be dealt with, but to the protagonist his family is what comes first and Lemire holds true to his character and the book is better for it. I am sad to see Foreman leave the book as he has done an amazing job, but Steve Pugh stepped into the series without missing a beat. The one constant I hope to always see is Lovern Kindzierski on the title as colorist, which helped ease the transition between artist and keep the feel of the book the same. Animal Man continues to be a fantastic read that prepares to take off in the coming issues. I can't wait. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Rachel Rising #6
Rachel Rising #6 - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. A dark, mysterious story steeped in horror, Rachel Rising has been a fascinating book since the first issue. At times a mishmash of Twin Peaks and Lost, Moore instills the wonderful characterization and beautiful art he is known for and adds a deliberately paced story that lets the reader stay ahead of the protagonist, Rachel, but just barely. For his first creator-owned foray into the realm of horror, this comic provides just the right amount of chills and thrills to keep me desperate to read the next issue.
Dr. Wesley Siemen is a rather peculiar friend of Rachel's Aunt Johnny, but then again, who isn't odd in Rachel's life, or is it actually her death? Dr. Siemen seems to know a bit more about what is happening than he is letting on, plus he has a few secrets of his own. Another person who should be dead, stumbles out of the woods to deal with a "kindly" pervert, revealing the disturbing force that animates her. Rachel, Jet and Aunt Johnny visit the site of Rachel's second death and discover the murderous little girl from earlier in the series. Rachel also sees her "sister"and has a less-than-revealing conversation with the woman who has been following her since the beginning. Oddly enough, only Rachel and the little girl can see the woman who portends a tragedy that will affect everyone. Finally, someone else rises from the dead.
Dammit! Every issue of this series leaves dying for the next installment despite--or perhaps because of--not knowing what is going on. As with all of his books, Moore does a masterful job of keeping the reader engaged while leading them into loving the characters of his world. It broke my heart when a character is injured in an accident to the point that I actually muttered "No" before the tragic page turn. Then there's the death of another character and I was actually upset at what happened, but with the final four panel reveal I gave a sigh of relief and then a feeling of dread settled in my stomach. It's the moments like this that make reading comics such a joy even though the creator has managed to make you so agitated and worried for the well-being of these characters who they tricked you into caring about. Issue seven cannot come soon enough. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Tid Bits - If I had the time to write a full review of a fourth title, Sweet Tooth #31 - Everythinged by Jeff Lemire, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint, would have been right up there with the rest. Gus abducted by Singh, Jepperd captured by a mysterious man who is convinced he knows him from somewhere, Haggarty becomes even more creepy and cruel, and Gus might be the only one who can save the day. Always a great read and this issue was actually--dare I say it?--slightly uplifting. RECOMMENDED! 
Tale of Sand HC
Last week I mentioned that I bought Tale of Sand and I went on to describe how wonderfully constructed the book was and how nice it would look prominently featured on the book shelf. Then I read it. I honestly have no way of adequately describing what this book is about other than it is one man's journey from here to there and it is a gorgeously rendered one at that. What I can say is that this is one of the most visually stunning books in my collection. Tale of Sand has an ever-morphing style of art and color unlike anything I have ever read. Each page is worthy of being framed and mounted to the wall of a house that would need to be much bigger than my own. This work of art is one that needs to be experienced repeatedly as you tag along with Mac on each read, spotting something new each time. You may not know where you're going, or understand what exactly happened by the end, but it won't matter as it is the journey and the lush uncertainty that makes it all worth it. You will finish reading Tale of Sand in an evening, there is little in the way of dialogue, but as I mentioned above, you will return to the story time and time again. This book is available digitally, but buying a physical copy is a must for this graphic novel that every comic lover should have in their collection. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Game of Thrones on Blu-Ray - Okay, simmer down you fantasy lovers, simmer down. The ONLY reason I am putting this in SItW is because I am dying to watch it, but I have to finish the killer book before I can allow myself to power through it. Trust me, I'm tossing around the idea of calling in sick just to finish the first novel. Between working on my own novel, writing this blog, lettering some of my own recently illustrated comic stories, scary doctor's visits and life have been preventing me from doing the reading that needs to be done. This weekend dammit...this weekend I'm going to hammer into the book and finish it so I can watch this show that I know I will love.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 3/2/2012

(sung to the tune of Bangles version of "Hazy Shade of Winter")

One, one, one
Books in the pull for me
I then looked around
For more possibilites
Donist is hard to please

I looked around
There's a frown
Comic guy
It's no lie the Shade's a winner!

Shhhhh...quiet please. Obie, my friends' Boston terrier and my main reader, and I are pouring through the traffic information for the Donist World blog as provided by Google. Now you might ask, "why are you doing this Donist?" The answer: It was a light week for us, with only one comic book purchased and a beautiful looking hard cover that we'll mention later. The point is that we had time to take a look and see what posts people have been reading this week and we saw that the first in a series called "To All the Concerts I Loved Before" was in the bottom of the top ten.
We went back and read the post and...there he goes, Obie is shaking his head in disappointment again. The problem is that the post is riddled with grammatical errors (probably similar to this post) and there are a couple of points that I don't even understand what it is I'm trying to say. Ugh. Brutal.
Was I drunk when I wrote that post? (Obie nods his head. Yes.)
Was it a first draft that I forgot to revise? (Obie nods his head. Yes.)
Did I curse too much? (Obie pauses. Nods his head again. Yes.)
Should I revise? (Obie shakes his head. No.)
There you have it. We'll let the horridness stand as a testament of growth, plus, despite the glaring errors, it was funny to revisit my old concert-going days and some of the more oddball experiences of the time. This reminds me that I have one final installment of "To All the Concerts I Loved Before" to post, so I should do that soon.
Hold on a second, Obie is shaking his head in disappointment again. He's looking at...oh, man. I wrote that one too? Crud. Anyhow, have a look at...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Shade #5
The Shade #5 - Written by James Robinson and illustrated by Javier Pulido, published by DC Comics. We are back to Mr. Robinson's regularly scheduled programming after a brief and amazing interlude with last month's "Times Past" segment. The Shade is a welcome return of a character who looked to have been lost in the cracks (again) over the past decade and thank goodness that is no longer the case as Richard "Dickie" Swift is tied to the DC Dark line with a single word balloon.
The story opens on a Little Red Riding Hoodesque vampire "girl" annihilating some ninjas, but just as a ninja is about to get the drop on the "creature of the dark" The Shade appears to save his old friend who goes by the name La Sangre. The Shade confronts his dying great-grandson who turns out not to be the one who put a hit out on his life, but someone else within the family company did. So, it's off to Barcelona, Spain, where Dickie is in search of a vial of his own blood from the days before it turned completely dark. A new, terrible villain called the Inquisitor wants the heroic La Sangre's heart staked and The Shade reminisces on the night he first met La Sangre on a ship besieged by vampiric pirates. Finally a slightly different spin is added to the nature of The Shade's powers and the hunt for the Inquisitor is on.
The Shade #5 is my favorite of the series thus far. Robinson has a great knack of not only reconstructing old, underutilized characters--like The Shade--and making them his own, but also creating new and exciting characters such as La Sangre and The Inquisitor as he does in this issue. He then sets the stage in Barcelona, Spain--a place I hold dear to my heart--and then places the known vampire, La Sangre, as the hero of the city and through clever characterization convinces the reader that such a thing is possible. There is one twist to the background of The Shade's powers, which came out of nowhere, and although my first reaction to the reveal was not favorable, the more I considered the matter, the more comfortable I became with the updated information. La Sangre is a great new character (she is new, right?) and hopefully she survives the next few issues to go on to appear in other books...I, Vampire (hint, hint). Also new this issue is artist Javier Pulido who is a brilliant choice to continue the next few issues of this arc and the perfect followup from Cully Hamner and Darwyn Cooke. Colorist Hilary Sycamore provides an effective "flats" style of coloring giving a beautiful less-is-more appeal to the book. For a sparse comic week--for me anyways--The Shade #5 filled the void by being something exceptional. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Items of Heavenliness - Man, oh man, this was a sparse week for comics for me. Thankfully next week looks to have at least five books and you can bet that Animal Man and Swamp Thing will be appearing here at Donist World. As I mentioned above, The Shade had the emotional impact of about two or three books, so it more than made up for the lack of quantity this week.

A Tale of Sand
Since it was a a slower week for my LCS, they had a 20% off sale on graphic novels and I decided to take the plunge and buy A Tale of Sand - Written by Jim Hensen and Jerry Juhl with illustrations by Ramon Perez, published by Archaia. I had been hearing much buzz about this book from various podcasts that I listen to, and some friends of mine had mentioned loving it as well, but all it took was cracking the book open and looking at three or four random pages and I knew this was a "Must Own" book. I have not read it yet--probably this weekend--but the physical book itself is a thing of beauty. Rounded edges at the corners, striking yellow on the indented cover with a fantastic font and an elastic band threaded through the back for use as a marker, this graphic novel is constructed with an attention to detail and much pride. I cannot wait to crack this one open, but I feel it is not something that you just sit down and read. For A Tale of Sand, I will be sure the dog is sleeping, calm music is playing (Ahmad Jamal Trio - Awakening) and I will be sipping a nice wine. I know I won't be disappointed.

The Drops of God #2
Speaking of wine...I'm halfway through with the second volume of The Drops of God and I am still loving the series. It is the story of Shizuku Kanzaki, the son of the most renowned, and recently deceased, wine critic, Yutaka Kanzaki. After growing up around wine as a child and his father's obsession with teaching him about taste and smell and proper decanting techniques, Shizuku turned his back on his father's world and had never even tasted wine before. At the reading of his father's will, Shizuku stands to inherit a priceless wine collection and his father's beautiful home, but there is a slight problem. Before his death, Yutaka had adopted a young (and snobby) wine critic, Issei Tomine, and has paired the two against each other to find 13 wines known as "The Twelve Apostles" and the heavenly "Drops of God." The first volume saw Shizuku lose his father's home to Tomine, and the hunt is on to find the 13 precious wines.
Thus far, this volume finds Shizuku Kanzaki helping a restaurant owner whose business was decimated by an unfavorable review from Tomine, restore not just his livelihood, but also the man's relationship with his daughter after the loss of his wife. Also a mysterious woman who leaves a by-the-glass wine bar, gives Kanzaki an incredibly expensive bottle of wine before she drives off in a stretch limousine. The Drops of God name drops wines often and discusses the marriage of food and wine for the first half of the manga. But, instead of being off-putting and the stuff of supreme snobbery, the manga manages to be touching and informative. I will be finishing this book this weekend and looking to buy volume three when it is released later this month. Thus far, Donist World says this book is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Briefly...I was sick early this week--when am I not sick?--and took some time to rewatch the film Hanna on blu-ray. It was even better than the first time. A "special" child raised in an isolated frozen land by Eric Banna and trained to be the ultimate assassin, sets off on her own to take out her father's old handler. Beautifully filmed, an engaging story, great Crystal Method soundtrack and an all around cool movie, this is one to own.
On the television front, Justified Season 3 continues to be one of the best shows on televison...actually, it is THE best show on television. It is midway through the season. I have also been enjoying Burn Notice Season 3 with Amy and I have been cracking up while watching Archer Season 2 which is new to Netflix.
Finally, I was thrilled this week to have my 5-page comic script titled "Down By the Pond" chosen to be live critiqued by the amazing Scott Snyder, author of American Vampire, Severed, Swamp Thing, Detective Comics, Batman, and others. This critique will happen over Adobe Connect and will be available only to members of the Comics Experience. This news is much appreciated and unexpected as there are some phenomenal stories submitted by some creators you will definitely be hearing about in the near future. Speaking of Comics Experience, I never would have thought making comics was a possibility, more that it was something people were born into, but through Andy Schmidt's wonderful site and classes this dream is now a possibility. Someday soon (summer?) people will be able to see my stories in print and digitally, including "Down By the Pond." This made my week.
Oh, another finally, congratulations to Archie's Kevin Keller and Clay Walker on their recent marriage! All the best and don't pay attention to the, maybe they will get lives or find a happy marriage for themselves as the two of you did. Also congratulations on selling out of the initial print run.

Slice Into the Woods

Dreams - I woke up this morning at 4:20 AM (I know, laugh it up. 4:20!!!) from a jobby-related dream. Are you kidding me? Not only do I get put through crazy stuff nine hours a day, I have to deal with it in my sleep as well? No way. I forced the thoughts out of my mind and turned the worries toward story and what I needed to do for this post, my novel, and my comics. That got me back to reality and I woke up an hour later happier for it.