Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 10/26/2012

(Sung to the tune of Judas Priest's "You Got Another Thing Comin'")

Comic books, I'm gonna snatch 'em up
Halloween Eve, Kickstarter gold I can't get enough
Eve's hot, but her 'tude is way too loud
Cut loose, chick, dress-up holiday love's allowed

I've been reading Wrightson as the years went by
It never gets old, his sweet artwork'll make you cry
Creepy holds a fortune waitin' to be read
You think you'll pass 'em up you're mad
These comic books are really somethin'

That's right, here's where the action is
Mary's human, I, Vampire evil not spent
Read hard, let Donist call the shots
Captain Marvel time travel this story rocks

Halloween's a comin', I'm tellin' you friend,
Read some scary comics that'll thrill you to no end
Eve and Bernie got love, listen to what we've said
You think you'll pass 'em up you're mad
These comic books are really somethin'

"Obie is the night, the beast that hunts the dark. Let evil beware his..." I'm sorry. I can't read this, Obie. I seriously haven't had enough to drink yet; it is only 7:30 AM after all. Hi everybody. I'm Donist and I'm here with my friend's Boston terrier, Donist World CEO, Obie. I'm also here with Obie's sister, my dog Tulip, who is marketing director / executive assistant / party planner / queen of blood...hold it. Tulip, who paid to have these business cards printed with this nonsense on it? These are customer-facing, dammit. Ugh.
Anyways, with Halloween rapidly approaching and the dogs stealing from the Donist World petty cash fund to buy themselves costumes--Obie's silhouette already makes him look like Batman, he didn't need to buy a toddler's superhero costume--we happen to have a couple of timely comics to bring the holiday spirit (see what I did there? Spirit...get it? Ugh). So, grab yourself a pumpkin ale (served in a cinnamon-lined glass), watch a couple scary movies (I recommend the original Halloween, Dolls, and maybe Alien) then have a read below. Trick or Treat!

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Halloween Eve
Halloween Eve - Written by Brandon Montclare and illustrated by Amy Reeder, published by Image Comics, but received via Kickstarter contribution. I've been really loving the whole Kickstarter thing for the past few months. Just this Tuesday I contributed to an anthology project and hope to have the physical book in my hands some time in February. The Kickstarter for Halloween Eve was started back in late June and more than doubled its goal and three and a half months later I'm holding a beautifully delightful comic signed by both creators, an "insider" book (notes, script, layouts, and character designs) and a signed/numbered card. Midway through the Kickstarter, Image Comics even took note and agreed to release the book with distribution through Diamond. With the loot in hand and the knowledge that I helped make this book possible when traditional publishing routes might have foolishly been all roadblocks, I couldn't be happier with every aspect of this fantastic comic. Christmas Eve? Huh? Huh? C'mon...
Eve works at the Halloween Land store, but she's none too thrilled about it. She hates Halloween, she hates people, she's a regular Scrooge only two months early. There's also no way in hell she's going to dress-up like all of the other dopes working the floor. But when Eve's boss "volunteers" her for overtime duty to put the ravaged store back together, devils, mannequins, and Salvador-Dali-style Gorillas come to life to take the holiday-spirit denier on a magical adventure. The rest you have to read for yourself.
Within the first three pages of this comic, my first reaction was, "what the hell is Eve's problem? She's a total jerk to her coworkers and the customers. Why all the hate?" At first glance the character seemed overly exaggerated, but then it dawned on me...crap, it's retail, of course she feels that way. My six and a half years working for a music store chain (blarg) left me feeling exactly the same as she does. Heck, if I wore earrings, I would have probably worn the big "no" symbols as well back then. Once I established how relatable Eve is, the idea of taking a risk, of letting go and finding the joy in life pulled me in and held me through to the end.
Montclare touches on each type of person you're likely to encounter in not just retail life, but everyday life. Whether they are the Halloween Land employees, management or the customers on the all-to-real nine-panel, page six; for better or worse you've met these people before. Then there's Reeder's simply stunning illustrations. Each scene is lovely, even more so once Eve enters her fantasyland of crazy creatures with the patchwork gorilla taking the cake. Every character is expressive, especially Eve, with an insane amount of detail to every costume and creature; my favorite's the sexy witch costume that Eve tries on, but, hey, I'm that kind of Donist. Writing or art, every aspect of this book works.
Disclaimer--if you are set on continually reading comics about Captain Super Guy punching Evilton McVillain in the nads, then this probably isn't a book for you. But, if you want to read a beautifully illustrated, well-written slice-of-life/fantasy story that is charming and fun, then Halloween Eve should not be missed. I simply loved this comic. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Creepy Presents
Bernie Wrightson HC
Creepy Presents Bernie Wrightson HC - Written by various writers (yay Bruce Jones!) including Bernie Wrightson and illustrated (primarily) by Bernie Wrightson, published by Dark Horse Books. A couple of weeks ago, I talked about the phenomenal Creepy Presents Richard Corben HCthe point in my life (and the exact place) I first discovered his masterful works, and how pleased I was to have that book in my collection. The same holds true for Wrightson's Warren Magazine work, but I can actually go earlier with my exposure to Wrightson's beautifully detailed art. I discovered Wrightson in the pages of DC Comic's Swamp Thing back when I was but a wee seven-years-old Donist. For some reason, my parents had a copy of 1972's Swamp Thing issue #1 and #10 that they had sitting around. I was fascinated by the detail on my favorite swamp creature and also by the terrifying horror that Wrightson displayed with Anton Arcane and the grotesque Un-Men. I couldn't get enough of it. I no longer have copies of those comics as I marveled at them and read them (once I could actually read the big words) to the point that they practically disintegrated (<sniffle>). Now, decades later, I have those early Swamp Thing issues in hardcover form (signed by Len Wein) and this must-own amazing compilation of Wrightson's Warren Magazine work.
Although I only recognized about half of the stories in this beautifully-made hard cover, I ended up loving all but one, and that story was fine, the writing was just not as strong as the art; not Wrightson's fault. One difference between this book and the Corben book, is that Wrightson had about half the body of work with Warren, and because of that, the cover price is a measly $19.99...retail! You can't go wrong at that price for this level of production and for what is contained within. My favorite stories of the bunch are:
1) "Black Cat" - This one I definitely remember reading. As an animal lover, I was appalled and could not help but zip through the panels to the end. When an overly affectionate black cat drives a man to malice, the man learns that cruelty to animals can come back to bite you. Wrightson wrote and illustrated.
2) "Jenifer" - Holy cow! This I definitely read as a kid and decades later I think I'm still messed up from the experience. When a hunter rescues a hideously deformed Jenifer from being killed by a crazy man in the woods, the hunter sees no alternative but to bring Jenifer into his home. Things get disturbing quick. Written by Bruce Jones and illustrated by Bernie Wrightson.
3) "Country Pie" - The twist in this one blew my teeny-weenie Donist mind, and still manages to wow me today. A man picks up a lost sister and brother, and he likes the sister a bit too much. Bruce Jones wrote, Carmine Infantino illustrated and Wrightson inked.
4) "The Laughing Man" - Written by Bruce Jones and illustrated by Bernie Wrightson. Boy howdy, do I remember that second-to-last panel. A pair of explorers seek to find the mythical man-apes of the jungle, but maybe finding them is not the best of ideas.
5) "The Pepper Lake Monster" - Everythinged by Bernie Wrightson. A search for a killer sea monster, brings a journalist to the realization that he just might be the creature's next victim.
6) "Cool Air" - Written by H.P. Lovecraft and illustrated by Bernie Wrightson. Just knowing the writer is H.P. Lovecraft should be enough to spark your interest in this story, but add Wrightson's stellar grasp of anatomy and lighting and this is one creepy story. Why does the man upstairs live in a virtual freezer?
7) "The Muck Monster - Everythinged by Bernie Wrightson. A Frankenstein's monster-esque story of a reanimated creature who comes into being and questions its maker's decision to bring him to life. Wrightson writing and drawing a Frankenstein influenced story? Yes, please.
As I said, there's a few more stories, but these are the ones that really stood out and a couple of those I read for the first time. Also notice that aside from the Bruce Jones stories, some of the better ones were written by Bernie Wrightson and showcase the many talents of this gifted creator. Wrightson is THE artist that made me truly appreciate comic book art and three decades later I am just as in love with his work--old and new--as I was as a kid. I'm a sucker for the short horror comic story format, but when those stories are illustrated by a master creator, you're left with something that should be treasured. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

I, Vampire #13
Arrow New TV Series Wed 8/7c CW TV Now 
I, Vampire #13 - Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov and illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, published by DC Comics. Sorry. I couldn't resist the knock on the Arrow show, but those banners are getting a bit old. I haven't watched the show yet, and I want to see it, but those banners have got to go. Anywhoooo...yeah, how about that I, Vampire funny book, huh?! Personally, I'm loving this change in direction, despite not quite wanting Andrew and Mary's initial dysfunctional romance situation to not be over with already, but making Andrew ultra-evil and Mary a human? Sure, why not.
Mary Queen of Blood takes the center stage, but now that she is human, she might as well be called Mary Queen of Sulking. Hell, now that Andrew has become more evil than she ever was, Mary is going to have to play nice with Andrew's old friend, John Troughton if she is to have any chance of saving her one love. Here's the thing, Mary has a secret. Shhhh, don't tell, but just because she's now human, doesn't mean that she is necessarily good. She may not be a vampire anymore, but decades of evil wears off on you, and she is every bit as vicious now as she was then. Meanwhile, Andrew and his vampire bride, Tig, track down an old friend (think original series from the eighties).
As I have said since around issue three or four, I feel like the pace of this book was hastened (not by Fialkov's wishes) to accommodate multiple guest appearances and a mini-event or two. I would have liked to have seen at least six issues of material before any of the guest stars dropped by, but whatchagonnado? Honestly, I was close to dropping the title, but this unexpected change to focus on Mary and turn Andrew evil was an interesting move. Fialkov's great dialogue and the intense moment of the shocking mugging-gone-wrong leave me desperate to see what comes next and to see what Andrew's friends will do to try to save him. Sorrentino continues to be stunning and Marcelo Maiolo provides some of my favorite colors of all the books I a currently reading. With any luck, all guest appearances/events/crossovers will take a vacation so Fialkov can continue reeling me back into the story I am once again excited to read. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Captain Marvel #5
Captain Marvel #5 - Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick and illustrated by Emma Rios, published by Marvel Comics. Okay, that wasn't so bad. A one week delay is not ideal, but it's better than waiting a month. I'm glad I got my copy. Carol Danvers is time traveling and she finds herself in the company of her good friend, pilot Helen Cobb. The problem is that this Cobb is much younger than the woman Carol used to love and respect, and this Cobb suspects Carol isn't who she says she is. Time is running out for Captain Marvel to determine what is happening before the next time jump.
DeConnick continues to draw me in to the character of Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel as well as the mystery of what the heck is going on with the time traveling. The dialogue is great as are the action scenes, and stand-in artist, Emma Rios provides some nice sequentials. With next issue bringing in Yon-Rogg, another "Captain" can't be far behind...of course you can also just look at next month's cover to see who I'm talking about. RECOMMENDED!

My Friend and Doctoral Candidate Paul Hirsch's Presentation "Comic Books and the Cold War" - I was never one to be overly obsessed with history, but if comic books had entered into the equation of my grade school curriculum, I might have taken a much deeper interest in my classes. My friend and doctoral candidate Paul Hirsch gave an informative and fascinating lecture on pre-code comics, the US government's love/hate relationship with them, and the use of comics as wartime propaganda. You can listen to a pre-talk podcast with Paul here, or read the press release here. With any luck--and my ungodly levels of persistence--I can convince Paul to turn his research and dissertation into a novel that everyone can one day read. No pressure, Paul, but give the people what they want...I'll be checking for your name to be listed there.

Slice Into the Woods

Running Out of Time - Working on way to much stuff, but it's good to be slammed with projects that actually matter to me. But for quick gripes: $2.99+ price for digital comics you don't own, voter suppression, non-funding of education, ballooning class sizes, the misinformation by studies that say smaller class sizes do not matter...they ONLY survey classes with 25 or fewer students; my wife has 35+ students per class and that number could increase, the joke that was Donald Trump's "news," and finally koala good, lousy, thieving koala bears; they'll never take me alive.

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