Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 4/26/2013

(Sung to the tune of Astrud Gilberto's version of "Fly Me to the Moon")

Let me read good books
Like ones by Quitely and Millar
A Superhero legacy
Of Jupiter's kids in bars

Good comic books, LCS
Good comic books, sock it to me

Fill my heart with noir
Blacksad will even up the score
Great story, stunning art
Are what I worship and adore

Good comic books, Sex is true
Good comic books, I love you

Wow, man, dig on that groovy "Fly Me to the Moon" video. Spock and that space lady were totally laying down the heavy tunes and Barbarella...yup, well ain't she just a cold soda pop on a hot Sunday afternoon? Hey, while your at it and I'm in the mood, check out this Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66 video of "Mas Que Nada." Isn't that fabulous? How does that woman in the gold dress remain standing with those planet-sized earrings? How about that guy getting down with the shaker? Better times, my friends, better times. Anyhow, welcome to Donist World, folks. As always, I'm joined by our CFO Obie (my friends' Boston terrier), and by our marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/planet-themed accessory merchant, Tulip (my dog and Obie's sister). It was thankfully a slow comics week, which means we finally get to talk about a few things we read some time ago. Next week is going to be ridiculous of course and I'm sure my missing Black Beetle #3 will come in as will the latest Rachel Rising (which always manages to show up the week AFTER release), just to make the comic book avalanche larger. I am also excited to say I am FINALLY going to get the Marshal Law Omnibus I have been wanting forever on Saturday. I loved Marshal Law since the first Epic Illustrated issue came out in the '80s and I was beyond happy to learn of the release of an omnibus at the 2007 SDCC. It never came out. Now the book is coming from DC Comics, which is very weird since Marshal Law has covered the comic book publishers landscape. The character has seen books release through Epic, Marvel, Dark Horse, Image, Apocalypse, and now DC. Mind boggling, but now, according to USPS tracking, it is set to deliver tomorrow. Sure it will most likely be missing the issues with Savage Dragon (with Image), Pinhead (with Boom), and the Mask (with Dark Horse), but we'll see when it arrives. I hope to talk about the good ol' Marshal in future FSoH/SitW posts. Anyhow, Tulip and Obie have been mysteriously quite, so let me see what...oh. Oh gross. I'm gonna hurl. My faithful employees have put a heaping portion of mayonnaise in my Donist World food bowl <urp>, I think I'm <urp>...not funny...gonna dump it on your heads...have a look at...

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

A Silent Hell HC
Blacksad: A Silent Hell HC - Written by Juan Díaz Canales and illustrated by Juanjo Guarnido, published by Dark Horse Comics. If you are unfamiliar with the character of John Blacksad, then please know that this book is the second hardcover released from Dark Horse Comics. Yes you can jump right on in on this volume, but I recommend starting with the first hardcover (I talked about that gorgeous book last year here). Blacksad: A Silent Hell is a bit slimmer with only one story, some eye-openning behind-the-scenes material, and a four-page short, where the first volume had three full stories and a slightly higher price tag. After reading this installment, I will say that the first is the stronger of the two storywise, but if you've read one, there's no way you can pass up the other. This book is a gorgeous thoughtful read regardless of page count that will easily satisfy the noir/mystery lover. In short, buy both!
It's 1950s New Orleans and John Blacksad (black cat) and his pal Weekly (fox) are on a case to find missing jazz pianist Sebastian "Little Hand" Fletcher (dog). They were hired by Faust LaChapelle (goat) a terminally ill record label owner and a supposedly concerned father figure to the famed piano player. Trouble arrises when Blacksad meets the recently fired private detective hired by LaChapelle named Leeman (hippo) and who won't take the hint he is off the case; Leeman does not react well to Blacksad refusing to work together. Blacksad then meets Lachapelle's son, Thomas (ram), who has been spending much time with "Little Hand's" pregnant wife.   During his search, Blacksad discovers that Fletcher's drug dealer was paid handsomely to sell the heroin addicted musician poison in an effort to prevent him from playing a new song he had written. When one of Fletcher's old band mates is killed and an attempt made on Blacksad's life, the terrible truth comes out as to who wants Fletcher dead and why.
What I love about all of the Blacksad stories is you were to split apart each of the components of writing and art you could have an equally great experience with each. The narrative would present a fantastic mystery/noir tale of a handsome detective dealing with the corruption and dark malice of the cases he accepts. I would gladly read these tales in novel form. You have interesting, yet flawed characters whose choices in life haunt them and lead the story along as their secrets and motivations become apparent. This includes Blacksad. During the moment (indicated on the cover) and shortly afterwards, we catch an all too brief glimpse into our hero as he reverts to a child while drowning before he is rescued by an orange cat who seemingly knows Blacksad and might not actually exists; a hint of more to come. The stories deal with actual issues of the times and the murders and conspiracies are all too real and intriguing, providing a great read in and of itself.
The art component stands strong on its own as well. Each and every single panel of every page is gorgeously hand painted in watercolor and is something to behold. Most striking of all are the larger paneled pages featuring a broad look at New Orleans with the maddest piece being the Mardi Gras splash on page 38. There's so much tiny detail hidden in each and every partygoer that every time you look at the page you see something subtle and the minuscule "Where's Waldo" Blacksad losing his suspect in the crowd. Page 13 ain't all that bad either and is one I would LOVE to have displayed on my wall. Guarnido's expressions of his characters carry the emotion and action from panel to panel telling a compelling story that is easy to follow. He also draws the most beautiful animal women I have ever seen. Cheetah lady? Oh my goodness gracious.
Combine both the writing and the art in this beautifully produced book and there is no reason for this amazing graphic novel to not hold a prominent space on your best shelf. Great to read, gorgeous to look at, Blacksad is a must own for those needing a break from the capes and tights. With hints of more to come, I very much hope a fifth story is in the works and that the rumored film finds its way to production. The creators are from Spain, but their main market is France, then Spain, with us poor chumps in the US being third in line. After seeing the intense amount of panel tests and color study from the behind-the-scenes section of the book, I know we are in for a wait for a third hardcover, but for this level of beauty I am all to happy to wait. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Other Heavenly Items:
Jupiter's Legacy #1
Jupiter's Legacy #1 - Written by Mark Millar and illustrated by Frank Quitely, published by Image comics. Can you imagine what a disappointment it would be if someone who suffered through the Great Depression had to watch as nearly identical circumstances arose nearly a century later. Today corrupt bankers practically destroyed an economy as compromised politicians sat idly by. Next we are buried in war, income disparity is extreme, outsourcing and a multitude of other self-inflicted wounds threaten to bring the once great United States down. This is the situation the superheroes of Jupiter's Legacy find themselves, but they have other problems: namely their children. The children of the gods find themselves apathetic to their parents' cause, and find themselves behaving poorly, more interested in fame and fortune than doing what's right. Unfortunately, dissension also runs in the ranks of the earth's mightiest heroes as they discuss how best to fix the hole humanity has dug for itself.
Jupiter's Legacy is a very interesting look at how actual superheroes would handle watching the cycle of terrible events begin again, while also showing kids faltering under the legacy of their parents' greatness. Millar brings us quickly up to speed from past to present, while cleverly concealing the exposition in a way that is natural to the story, and leaving enough unanswered questions to carry the reader through to future issues. Quitely's style fits perfectly on this book, reminding me of his and Millar's work on The Authority from back in the day. Great drama, great action and a heck of a good start for a series that leaves me hungry for issue two. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Sex #1
Sex #1 and 2 - Written by Joe Casey and illustrated by Piotr Kowalski, published by Image Comics. "Let's talk about Sex, baby. Written by Joe Casey." Was that how that Salt N' Pepa song went? No? Whatever, I don't care. I don't care much in the way that Casey and Kowalski's Simon Cooke doesn't care. You see, Simon was once the hero known as the Armored Saint, who protected the great Saturn City, until the day his mentor, a woman named Quinn, convinced Simon to give up superheroics for a normal life. Unfortunately, now that Simon has returned, giving up what gave his life purpose has left an empty shell of a person. He now watches idly as injustice spreads across what was once his city as he spends his time poring over corporate spreadsheets and attempting to feel something...anything.
Okay, this is not one for the kiddies, folks, but judging by the title you already know this. Yes there's nudity, yes there's sex, yes there's violence, but it is all portrayed in a manner as void of spirit as the lead character, but I suspect that's the point. I'm interested in Casey's Simon and the relationship he has/had with the Catwoman analog "Shadow Lynx" and to see what happens to a city when it's protector suddenly walks off the job. Kowalski's art wonderfully tells so much about the lead character's state of mind through the hollow expressions and lack of connection to anything going on around him. The sequentials clearly tell a fluid story and Brad Simpson's colors enhance the art and the mood of each scene, especially the sex club in the first issue. All in all, I'm glad I picked these up and I look forward to seeing Simon attempt to rejoin the land of the living and what it takes to get him there. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Feelin' All Run Down and Stuff (aka...Stupid Mayonnaise) - Stupid mayonnaise. I'm pretty sure the half a chicken wrap I ate at the day job on Tuesday took me down. It had that mayonnaise crap on it and an hour after eating my brain felt as if it was swimming through...well...mayonnaise. I failed my saving throw. I was kind of a mess on Wednesday and Thursday. Thursday was also the day I wrote all of the above reviews, which I don't really remember writing, but nothing a bit of revising can't fix. Bottomline: Mayonnaise is gross, unless it is spike with a ton of tabasco sauce, then it's okay.
I've also been coloring over the past couple weeks a five-page comic I wrote, lettered and flatted (penciled and inked by the amazing Brian Gilman and you can see the art for an eight-page story called "Decision" I wrote on his page as well). Most of that time coloring has been spent researching how certain lighting and directions of lighting can cast shadows and highlights on a surface and being sure that I understand why. The face and hands are where most attention goes and where most of the time has to be spent. Thankfully, I'm down to only a couple panels left to finish and I will be done...until someone points out a shadow or color scheme is wrong, but those fixes are easy. Funny thing is that my coloring instructor, the tremendously talented and inhumanly patient Chris Sotomayor, just commented on twitter that he had a day and a half to color a 20-page comic. I've spent two and a half weeks on five pages! Of course the day job takes a lot of time out of the day, but coloring is a freaking difficult discipline to understand and master, so RESPECT to the colorists on your favorite comic books.
Anyhow, where was I? Oh yeah...stupid mayonnaise. Vote mustard!

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