Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 12/28/2012

(Sung to the tune of The Sound of Music's "These Are a Few Of My Favorite Things")

Sexy-time robots and Rot creeps that sicken
Cool purple archers and plots that do thicken
Six guns that dangle the world's fate on thin strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Toys that get brutal and deer boy animals
Dark caped crusaders and FDA cannibals
Men with ram horns who love chicks with sweet wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Plant based avengers and Red Kingdom action
Horn headed blind guys and once dead who've risen
Haunted house keys that unlock nightmares and dreams
These are a few of my favorite things

Diamond misships
Then my beer spills
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

Howdy Donist World readers. I'm pretty sure no one else has done this before--heck, I might even be the first--but I've gone ahead and put together a list of some heavenly stuff for the 2012 year. Obie (my friends' Boston terrier and Donist World CFO) is sacked out on the couch from too much food and drink. I think he hit the eggnog pretty hard, which he denies, but since I really don't like that gross crap and there's an empty carton in the recycle bin...well, you do the math. Tulip (Obie's sister and Donist World Marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/christmas cookie judge) is sitting on her pillow and watching the leaves blow while we listen to some Vince Guaraldi. It's calm. It's nice. But we've got a lot to talk about. So here we go...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Probably NOT Spoilers Below***

Fare thee well, 2012. It's kinda hard to believe 2012 is just about done and over. Stick a dang fork in it. The crazy thing is that I feel as if I'm stuck in a weird time vortex. By no means does it feel as if Christmas just happened. Isn't Halloween next week? Don't we still have a month until Thanksgiving? Dang, I need to start coming up with Christmas travel plans and gift ideas and...never mind. Amy just reminded me that Christmas was indeed this past Tuesday and that I did indeed get her Adventure Time underwear (What time is it folks?! It's ADVEN--<owww> I've been informed to get on with it) and she gave me a beer making kit, which I am anxious to try out, but...time really does go by fast.

Regardless, we're here to talk about comics and a few other things that make Donist, Tulip and Obie all smile. Or cry. Or be filled with fury...if done properly. The things that bring our psychotically busy little lives and our myriad of problems to a halt for a moment, where we can become lost in superheroics, or lost in a house with a host of sinister magical keys, or to fight alongside your toys against that which lurks in the dark, or travel through space while eluding sexy-time robots in your living tree rocket and staying away from "Fard." Hell, we might just find ourselves riding across the wild west in the company of a mummy in search of six doomsday guns, or taking a terrifying glimpse into the Green, the Red, or the Rot.

These books, these "funny" books, can also dance the edges of reality to a point where we sympathize with characters experiencing losses all too relatable. How about Gus and Jepperd, or Earl and Jet? A loved character can be more hopelessly lost than we ever hope to be, but we can sympathize and be glad it is not us in their shoes: Rachel might be alive again, but things aren't necessarily hunky dory in her world by any means. We can walk a mile in Batman's shoes, but after what the Court put him through, he's welcome to those shoes by golly (what size is he anyways?...I do like those bat boots). Who wants to be Daredevil or  Hawkeye? Okay, well maybe just a little bit, but man do I ever want to follow these guys wherever they go. What about Wonder Woman? I guess goddesses have problems too; talk about the family ties that bind and gag. Just writing this little introduction and reflecting on the books that made 2012 so wonderful, I've managed to pull myself out of my post-holiday malaise, my back-to-life-back-to-reality haze in the wake of an obligation craze. Those were the daze (Intentional misspelling for dramatic purposes, because I'm a poet and didn't know it).

Enough navel-gazing, dammit, on with all kinds of lists and stuff, most of which centering around the number "12" for some reason.

Donist World 12 Favorite Comic Series of 2012 (In no particular order)

1) Saga - Written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples, published by Image comics. I know I said "no particular order," but that's not entirely true. Saga is the comic that made me sigh after reading the first issue. Not in shock, and not in annoyance. It was more a feeling of being completely satisfied with what I just experienced. Moments behind the calm ease of finishing the first issue came the tense excitement of anticipating the next issue. Saga has everything I could ever want. Beautifully developed characters, a grand story, lovely art, moments that have you peeking between your fingers, and moments you wish you could unsee. With no question, Saga is the Donist World darling of 2012.

2) Hawkeye - Written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by David Aja, published by Marvel Comics. I initially wasn't going to bother with this book. Then I started thinking...Fraction and Aja made one of my favorite superhero comics ever with the Immortal Iron Fist, so why not give it a shot? Thank goodness I did. With six STRONG issues in 2012 (possibly all released in a three or four month span), Hawkeye got me with the great portrayal of how Clint Barton deals with life outside of the Avengers and how he is every bit the hero whether or not he's in costume. You also get Kate, Lucky the "Pizza Dog," the tracksuit dracula bunch, and guest stars who are non-intrusive. Aja provides an amazing style and layouts unlike anything I have ever seen before. It was a close second to Saga and so much fun.

3) Animal Man - Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Steve Pugh (and others), published by DC Comics. Red/Green/Rot as told by one of my favorite writers with links to one of my other favorite writers, with a hero I used to love in the '80s, Animal Man was a safe bet for me. We're neck deep in "Rot World" and I have no idea how this creepy story is going to play out, which is a great place to be. Although there was a change in artist midway through the book, each was great in their own right, and Pugh is currently delivering some beautifully icky stuff. I'm hoping to see Animal Man at least punch Anton Arcane in the ol' kisser (man, blind dates for that guy, beware!) just once...just once.

4) Batman - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Greg Capullo, published by DC Comics. I hadn't bought a Bat-book for ages. That was until I heard about Snyder's work on Detective Comics, which left me freaked out of my gourd, yet desperate to see what happened next. Then we get the fantastically spooky "Court of Owls" with a followup of a Joker unlike anything I have seen before. Capullo is a machine of an illustrator who can go emotional one moment to jaw-dropping action the next and end with nightmarish imagery to keep you awake at night, all as if it were easy. This book makes me nervous in all the best ways.

5) Chew - Written by John Layman and illustrated by Rob Guillory, published by Image Comics. Years ago, I had to scramble to find the first three issues of the most unique comic on the stands and I have been loving each consistently awesome issue ever since. Gross, disgusting, crazy, creative, mysterious, touching, tender, compelling, and heart wrenching (December's issue). We're half way through the series, which is great, but also leaves me with dread that the end of this great series is in sight. Now I'm waiting for my "Omnivore" hard cover editions to ship and deliver so I can feature Chew on my bookshelf of comic book treasures.

6) Daredevil - Written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Chris Samnee, published by Marvel Comics. I've mentioned before that when Daredevil came along, I was not buying a single Marvel comic book. I listened to the comic podcasts from the internets and the ituneses and everyone (yeah, everyone dagnabbit) was talking about Daredevil. It just so happened I had a gift certificate from a comic store up north, so I got caught up with all of the issues and second printings on hand and hammered through all of them. Now I understand all of the hype and consider myself a Daredevil believer. I was a fan of the Miller, Bendis and Brubaker runs, which all put ol' Hornhead through the emotional ringer, but this change of pace is refreshing for one of my favorite Marvel characters.

7) Locke and Key - Written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez, published by IDW Comics. I was late to the party on this one, too. I bought "Welcome to Lovecraft" in digital version for $.99 each and the deal was done. The good thing about being late is that I had three hardcovers of material that I promptly ordered and the fourth was only a couple months out after that. This book is all about world building and characters dealing with life in the aftermath of seemingly random tragedies. The final storyline is currently happening in issues and I might just have to buy them before the hardcover is released as waiting for this magnificently scary series is painful. I still want to see the television pilot for this. This is horror done right.

8) Rachel Rising - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. Speaking of horror done right...first we had the beautiful character relationship drama of Strangers in Paradise, then we had the sci-fi mystery of Echo,  and now we get horror as told by Moore. This isn't a blood, boobs and guts type of Saw torture-pr0n. No, this is the slow burn, gentle pulling back of the covers to reveal more and more of something sinister writhing underneath only to have the lights go out just before the full reveal. This book is like Twin Peaks in tone, but with witches and demons and curses and characters you can't help but love. Besides getting a smart, scary story, you get stunning art as well. Finding this book in my pull always makes me smile...followed by some chills.

9) The Sixth Gun - Written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Brian Hurtt, published by Oni Press. Everyone who loves comics should be reading this book. You get a Western, horror, the supernatural and an adventure unlike any you would ever expect. It's Lord of the Rings with cowboys, only instead of one ring to rule them all, you have six guns set to bring about the end of the world. Cool characters who you do not necessarily trust (Drake Sinclair) and really, really, REALLY bad things (General Hume) looming on the horizon, make this comic one of my favorite books period. Not enough people are reading this intense series, but you best catch up before the television adaption comes to light.

10) The Stuff of Legend - Written by Mike Raicht and Brian Smith with illustrations by Charles Paul Wilson III, published by Th3rd World Studios. This is what I'm talking about. When I read the first volume I was completely blown away. That wonderful feeling has not subsided with each subsequent release. Take one part childhood fear (Boogeyman and the dark), add one part childhood wish (your toys come to life) and mix well until both are fully realized and you have what makes this amazing series so darn great. The Stuff of Legend has an ever-growing cast of characters (each with their own distinct personality, mind you) that Raicht and Smith handle beautifully and Wilson III delivers the gorgeous visuals. Of equal importance is the unique production and design on this Donist World much-loved favorite. So very, very good.

11) Sweet Tooth - Everythinged by Jeff Lemire, published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics Imprint. Never has being made miserable been such a dang good time. Seriously. A comic has to be something special if it can beat the crud out of my emotions and leave me wanting more. Fantastic characters, a mystery of terrible consequences, and an imaginatively bizarre premise that has worked since issue one. I tried to buy this book in trades, but after the brutal wait looming before me for volume three, I went to the monthlies to avoid the terrible burden of waiting for each installment. With only one issue left in this tremendous success of gripping storytelling, I will be sad to see this series go, but Lemire has made Sweet Tooth exactly the way he wanted: on his own terms and with the ending he wanted. It was a grand ride, and Sweet Tooth is destined to be remembered as one of Vertigo's best offerings.

12) Swamp Thing - Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Yanick Paquette, published by DC Comics. If I absolutely had to pick a side, I would be Team Green, but mostly because of my lifelong love of the character of Swamp Thing and the Alan Moore run that I still hold near and dear to my heart. When I first heard of the New 52 reboot thing, I was apprehensive, then I learned Snyder would be writing and gave a sigh of relief. This title was creepy to the extreme with the introduction of the Rot, but then Snyder brought back Anton Arcane and the book dripped with menace. Couple one of my favorite writers with Paquette's imaginative style and layouts, there is no way you can go wrong. Swamp Thing is my favorite New 52 book hands down, and I'm saddened to know the creators' run is coming to an end. It's been a heck of a ride.

12.1) Wonder Woman - Written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Cliff Chiang, published by DC Comics. I've always liked Wonder Woman. I was there, glued to the TV every time Linda Carter was set to grace the screen and the Super Friends cartoons called to me like nobody's business, yet I have never bought a Wonder Woman comic. Azzarello and Chiang changed that. Here was a Princess of Power that really spoke to me with her history set in myth and with her less-than-moral Amazonian people, and even more sinister divine family. Putting the machinations of the ancient Greek gods into a modern world setting with the strongest female character there is as she attempts to do what's right, there was no way I could not buy this comic.

Donist World 12 (times two) Heavenly Things (In Alphabetical Order)

  1. Adventure Time (Cartoon/Comic) - Yeah, I love this show. I have the first season DVD and the "Jake vs. Me-Mow" DVD (it came with a Finn hat) and although sometimes it makes little sense, or manages to freak me out, I love it. Pendleton Ward's personal story is an inspiration. I wish I could work on this series. Now, why won't Cartoon Network release the damn second season on DVD. That's NOT mathematical.
  2. The Amulet (Graphic Novel) - Everythinged by Kazu Kabuishi, published by Graphix, a Scholastic Imprint. This book reminds me of a Studio Ghibli work of art. Beautifully illustrated, a compelling story and a host of relatable characters. Volume six cannot come soon enough. This is the kind of graphic novel I hope to create someday soon (2013).
  3. The Avengers (Movie/Blu-Ray) - Yup, saw it twice in the theater and bought the Blu-Ray the day it was released. Great character development, stunning visuals, a tight story. This is the movie I never thought possible and it surpassed all of my expectations. I kinda want to call in sick and watch it again. Joss Whedon is my self-adopted father.
  4. Breaking Bad (Television) - Amy and I usually end up chitchatting through most shows. Not Breaking Bad. Sure it took about four episodes to get completely hooked, but once it happens, you will not be free until the end coming in 2013. Hell, I'm nervous just thinking about how this series will wrap up. One of the best dramas I have ever seen.
  5. Cabin in the Woods (Movie/Blu-Ray) - With Amy out of town, I think I know what I will be watching again tonight. Written by Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon (aka...Dad...he had me when he was six) this movie went through a special kind of development hell and I'm thrilled it actually made it to the screen. It loves/mocks horror films and kept us thrilled for the entire movie. A hell of a good time. 
  6. Creepy Presents: Richard Corben HC (Graphic Novel) - Published by Dark Horse and...well, yeah...sometimes written and sometimes illustrated by Richard Corben. I wrote a lengthy review of this prized hardcover here. His work has scared, thrilled and titillated for most of my life and is a massive inspiration for short form comic storytelling. Must own material for the fans of the old Warren Mags.
  7. Django Django "Django Django" (Music) - Before I say anything, this album is available for $5.00 as an Amazon MP3 and probably will not be for much longer. I just heard this album at The Mercury Lounge (home of Beer School!) on the day after Christmas. I was hooked on the first song and bought the album the moment I got home. Really good and worth checking out. It's currently on my This Is My Jam
  8. The Drops of God (Manga) - Aside from Berserk this is the only manga I am currently buying, although I might just pick up Bakuman soon. The Drops of God is a manga about wine. I know...I know..."Are you kidding me?" No, I am not. I'm a fan of wine, Amy's family makes the stuff (it's darn good, too), but this series is dramatic, informative and a fun ride every time.
  9. Game of Thrones (Blu-Ray) - I'm preparing to rewatch the first season in anticipation of the second season release in 2013. Great characters who are all deeply, DEEPLY flawed and an engrossing story. I also need to read the second and third book as well. How about that Daenerys? And how cool is Sean Bean!
  10. Halloween Eve (Comic Kickstarter) - Written by Brandon Montclare and illustrated by Amy Reeder, published by Image Comics. A charming book that I contributed to for Kickstarter and that succeeded in being picked up by Image comics. Fun and beautiful.
  11. The Hobbit (Movie) - What the hell is wrong with reviewers? I LOVED this film. Yes, it is not as dark or menacing as the Lord of the Rings films, but it is not supposed to be. The book is also more lighthearted. The effects were amazing. I hope an "Extended" version of this film is released so I can watch it all over again. Part two cannot come soon enough. 
  12. Hollister Brewing Company (Brewery) - This is my place. Great beers that are always changing and evolving and good food. I'm usually there on a weekly basis.
  13. Homeland (DVD) - A fantastically paced and tense spy thriller with stunning performances from Claire Danes and Damian Lewis. Holy guacamole! I can't wait for the release of the second season.
  14. Kingdom Rush for iPad (Video Game) - Speaking of calling in sick to play games...this is the game to use up that sick time burning a hole in your pocket. Tower defense at its best, but it is so much more. I cannot wait for the KR2 to show up in the (hopefully) near future.
  15. Looper (Movie/Blu-Ray) - I need to get the Blu-Ray for this film so can rewatch it. The most fantastic sci-fi film of the year and one of the best ever. Still blown away by this one.
  16. Madmen (Television/Blu-Ray) - Still one of my all-time favorite dramas that keeps getting better and better. Only this show can have such fantastic characters, most of whom you don't even end up liking. Season six needs to get here, by golly.
  17. Rex Zombie Killer (Comic) - Written by Rob Anderson and illustrated by Dafu Yu, published by  Big Dog Ink. Yup, Rob's a friend of mine, but he put together an action adventure book for animal lovers and zombie enthusiasts (weird that there is such a thing) alike. Each character has their own distinct voice and the action can be tense, but underneath there are some incredible moments that tug at the heartstrings. So very, very good and I hope to see more some day soon.
  18. Sculpin IPA by Ballast Point (Beer) - A guy at Whole Foods recommended this delicious IPA and the store actually scored it 100 points. One taste and I knew exactly why. A little pricey for a 22oz bottle, but once you try it...stars, baby, stars!
  19. Sublimely Self-Rightous by Stone Brewery (Beer) - Man, I love Stone's beers. I have a couple Vertical Epics (10-10-10, 11-11-11, 12-12-12) waiting in the fridge, but the the Sublimely Self-Rightous Black IPA is probably my favorite beer period. This is special occasion know, special occasions like Friday.
  20. Tales of Sand HC (Graphic Novel) - Written by Jim Hensen and Jerry Juhl, illustrated by Ramon Perez, published by Archaia. A jewel shining on my favorite book shelf. Yes, I know this was released in 2011, but I did not read it until 2012. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! There are few words in this beauty and to be honest it does not need them. Very surreal and something I plan to reread ASAP.
  21. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Micro Series #8 - Fugitoid (Comic) - Written by Paul Allor and illustrated by Paul McAffrey, published by IDW. Another close friend of mine showcasing his work with a major publisher no less! TMNT was a huge part of growing up and I'm glad that they are still around. Paul's take on the Fugitoid is both smart and engaging and a welcome reintroduction to the world of TMNT.
  22. 12 Angry Men (Blu-Ray) - I rented this through Netflix, but dang if I need to own this emotionally gripping film. The phrase, "They don't make movies like this anymore" cannot be more true. A wonder of characterization and dialogue that holds you fast for the entirety of the film and it is primarily shot in one small room. Fantastic. 
  23. Underwater Welder SC (Graphic Novel) - Everythinged by Jeff Lemire, published by Top Cow. Okay, to be honest, I have not yet finished reading this fantastic book, but at the halfway point it is safe to say it is a work of sad beauty. If you like Lemire's work (primarily Essex County) then there's no reason to not have this book in your home. 
  24. The Walking Dead (Television) - We're at the halfway point for the third season, their at the prison, you have the Governor, you have Michonne and they're off the farm. This season kicked it up a notch and I can't wait for it to return in 2013.

The "Pending" Reading List

1) Blacksad: A Silent Hell
2) Daisy Kutter
3) Dancer
4) Drops of God V.4
5) Girls Night Out
6) Infinite Horizon
7) Metabarons
8) Parker "The Score"
9) A Bunch of Kickstarter and Digital Stuff (Cerebus, Deluge, Rasl, and more)
10) Comics recently excavated from the "Closet of Doom":

  • Hawkeye 1-6
  • Doctor Strange: The Oath #1-5
  • The Micronauts #the whole dang thing
  • Pride and Joy #1-4
  • Superman #712
  • Who Is Jake Ellis? #1-5

If there is anything that you think I should be reading (or beer I should be drinking) then let me know either here or on twitter (@TheDonMcMillan). Thanks for reading Donist World and all the best for you all in 2013!


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