Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 4/25/2014

(Sung to the tune of ABBA’s “Waterloo”)

My my, that Lazarus book, by Rucka and Lark’s a treasure
Oh yeah, predicting our world’s destiny in quite a terrible way

It’s one of the best on the shelf
Read it, you owe it to yourself

Scary, but it is still great for us
Promise to love it because I must

Predicting a world I do not trust
Eve is so cool she is hazardous
Whoa whoa whoa whoa
Hauntingly awesome my Lazarus

This week has been crazy, so let’s get to it. I'm joined as ever by our CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/convention specialist Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Obie is currently hopped up on pain pills and taking it easy as he has two injured back knees, but he is still lying around and putting in 110% here at the Donist World corporate office (my mom’s basement). I’m going to attribute the fact that Obie keeps bringing up replacing me as CEO and replacing me with a more “controllable puppet” to the puppy pain killers he is on. Tulip, on the other hand, is ignoring both of us as she is upset that she did not go with me to Wondercon this year. If we are to maintain our status as a Fortune 320,000 company, then some of us have to stay on-site to keep the show running, but little Miss Tulip isn’t having it. Oh well, I’m used to these guys being annoyed with me—it’s the plight of being boss—so, whatever. Anyhow, while I go to tell Obie to stop ringing the dang bell, I'm not a bellhop who will pick up lunch for him, have a look at this week’s mini…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Lazarus #8
Lazarus #8 - Written by Greg Rucka, art and letters by Michael Lark with Brian Level, colors by Santi Arcas, design and additional content by Eric Trautmann, edited by David Brothers, published by Image Comics. I only had one book in my pull this week—which means I’ll be pummeled in the weeks to come—but, thankfully, any week that sees a release of Rucka and Lark’s Lazarus is a bound to be a good one. The thing with this this title is that I never have that warm fuzzy feeling I get after reading some of my other books. No. Instead, after reading this comic I get this sinking sense of dread as I think about our world’s current state of affairs: massive disparity of wealth, large corporations effectively writing state and federal laws, GMO, war, climate change, rising rent prices, and the list goes on and on. So, if the book upsets me, then why read it? Simple. It’s one of the most thought-provoking titles on the stand, but more than that it’s a showcase for comic book storytelling at its finest. It’s also just plain cool.
In flashback, it’s Forever "Eve" Carlyle’s twelfth birthday, and what better way to celebrate than participating in a VR simulation based on storming a compound and killing as many guards as necessary until she finds her target and extracts that target. Little does she know, her father is in the background watching, but he will not see her; today is not the day little Eve will fight and kill her trainer, Marisol. In the present, the Free, a group deemed as terrorist by the Carlyle Family, have a bomb, and it is up to Forever to prevent them from detonating that bomb at the Lift. The Lift is a sort of job fare in Denver that looks to “lift” those designated as Waste to the status of Serf. Unfortunately for the Barrets, a Waste family who recently lost one of their own, they have yet to realize that trying to not starve to death might actually get them all killed.
<phew> If you have read this issue, then you know what I mean. It’s that feeling you get after you sigh and shut your eyes as you process what you just read. The thing is…if there were more pages, I would have kept reading; I would not be able to help myself. As gnarly as the situations become in Lazarus the strength of the creators’ storytelling grabs hold and refuses to let you go. Equally so are the fantastic characters of Forever, sadly doomed Marisol, and the Barret family, who I fear are in for even more hardship. Again, though, you can’t look away. More than wanting to see what happens next, you have to see what happens next. 
Lazarus is one of my favorites in Image Comics’s long line of tremendous new series and is one everyone should be reading. It has incredible action-filled moments, gorgeously dramatic art embellished by Arcas’s incredible color palette, sci-fi that is just a step or two ahead of where we currently are, and although some of the horrible events hit close to home, every component is just so damn well thought out that you cannot avert your gaze. You can pick up the first four issues in trade form at a retail price of $9.99, and you can even find it for less if on sale, so there’s no reason to not pick up this amazing series (heck, currently has a “Very Good” condition TPB available for $3.10!). Lazarus is a remarkable achievement that you should be reading. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

View from our hotel room.
Wondercon 2014 - Yup indeedy. After suffering through three years of intense con-withdrawl, Amy the Donist World intern (my wife) and I went to Wondercon in Anaheim. We predicted that traffic through LA would be simply stooooooopid, so we instead took the train down on Thursday night. We hopped a quick cab ride to the hotel—getting gouged by the driver for an extra $4…a_hole—and arrived at the hotel around 9:00 PM. We dumped our bags in the room and went to the nice bar/lounge for a late dinner and drinks (dang, denizens, they serve 22 oz. bottles of Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale). 
FRIDAY: The next day, after a short elevator ride with Sergio Aragones, I got in line at 9:00 AM to pick up our badges, at 10:30 AM got the badges, and at noon we hit the showroom floor. Amy and I first happened upon the Oni Press booth where we chatted for a while with an employee about all that is happening, and we found out that Joshua Hale Fialkov was going to be signing copies of The Bunker and of his as-yet-unreleased The Life After. We then sought out one of my all-time favorite creators, Terry Moore, and we double dipped on all four trades and a SiP t-shirt, and chatted with Mr. Moore for a while, who is incredibly kind; I wish I could afford his stunning original art. We then went upstairs for a panel titled “What’s Hot In Young Adult Fiction” for some good information on the industry and how the creators got into writing. We then stuck around in the room for Disney/ABC’s “The Art of the Pitch: The Writer. The Director. The Story” which was highly informative. What they look for in a pitch is more about what the writer has to say about themselves, and not so much a story pitch at first. In their eyes, they want to see an individual who can tell a brief and engaging story about themselves, and not one that is stacked with the usual corporate responses: self-starter, meets deadlines, dependable, willing to put in 200%! type rubbish. They want to know the writer. Basically, if you can relay a snippet of your life in a compelling manner, then you can bring that to potential stories. They also want to see if you are someone they can work with. We then hit the showroom floor again, and ran out to the long line of incredibly expensive, yet tasty, food trucks stationed out front. Amy went to a panel called “The New Wave Graphic Novel” which I wish I went to, but I instead wandered the floor before going to the incredibly funny “Oddball Comics Live” panel where they looked at messed up comic book covers through the ages, like this one:
Do I really need to say
anything about this one?
Needless to say, the above cover could have been the whole presentation and rightly so. Amy and I then went back to the floor where we met Steve Lieber and chatted with him for a while. Lieber is an incredibly kind and equally talented person, and he even took time to talk to us about his process on the freakin' amazing Underground graphic novel from Image. I’ve always loved Lieber’s work, but it’s great to know he’s a genuinely nice guy. After some more searching about the floor, we were destroyed-tired and went back to the hotel for dinner, where we were greeted with a “new” menu that saw meal prices that jumped by $4 and wines and the largest beers jumped by $3…blah. At dinner, I saw a woman having drinks who I recognized from somewhere; later I realized she was a porn star who was doing some sort of comic book thing. Also, while getting ready for bed, I heard a saxophone blaring out front of the Convention Center and realized the person was playing none other than George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” with as much heart and enthusiasm as one could hope for. Overall, a great day.
SATURDAY: The doors opened earlier than Friday, so we rushed over to hit the floor, but quickly ran upstairs to attend “Spotlight on Gail Simone” which was a great and inspiring way to start the day. Afterwards we wandered for a bit and went back for a price-jacked lunch at the hotel and then back to the con to try to meet Gail Simone, but the line was ridonkulous and we were denied. Blah. Upstairs we attended a panel on “SFF for Kids: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” where we saw a host of authors including Frank Beddor (The Looking Glass Wars, Hatter M), which was an informative and interesting look at how these writers got started. After the panel, we walked around on the floor one last time, and met authors from the previous panel, including Frank Beddor who was incredibly cool. Finally, it was upstairs for “Kelly Sue DeConnick on Writing” which went into her process for comic book writing that was a fast-paced, hour-long workshop that was all kinds of helpful and cool; I wish it had been the full six-hour or so workshop she usually does. With that, we went out for dinner, but ended up back at the hotel since everything in the area was ultra-expensive or gross…or both. Goodbye Wondercon! Next time, I will be attending as a professional and probably being ignored by the attendees, but gosh darn it, it’s on!
Here’s a list of the mountains of stuff we picked up in no real order:
  1. The Bunker #1 & 2 (signed by Joshua Hale Fialkov. Oni Press) I’m excited to read.
  2. The Life After (signed by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Gabo. Oni Press) I’m excited to read. Sorry, it’s not available yet. 
  3. Avengers Arena (Marvel) Just started reading, it’s great!
  4. Rachel Rising TPB V. 1–4 (signed by Terry Moore. Abstract Studio) Time to reread from the beginning
  5. Batgirl TPB V. 1–2 (DC, New 52) The first one is awesome!
  6. Underground (Image), Whiteout (Oni), Superior Foes of Spider-Man (Marvel) All signed by Steve Lieber. ALL are worth your time. I read Superior Foes while there, and it is every bit as great as everyone says. 
  7. Beware the Creeper (DC) I’m excited to read this.
  8. Legends #1–6 (DC) Found a bundle, and excited to revisit.
  9. Hatter M V. 1–2 (Automatic Pictures) So much awesomeness to read!
  10. A t-shirt from that I love (the penguin one).
  11. I wished I bought every print available from, primarily this.
Not counting the loads of Kickstarter books I have (including many by good friends of mine…sorry, I’ll get to them!) I also received a bulky order from that included the following:
  1. Rat Queens TPB (Image Comics)
  2. The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story HC (Dark Horse) I wish I brought this copy with me to Wondercon as the writer was there signing. I'm VERY excited to check this out. 
  3. Stray Bullets: Uber Alles Edition TPB (Image) It’s currently propping up the side of our house that is sagging, but I am so stoked to get to this! I can’t believe I completely missed this series back in the day. Only one printing…get it before it is gone!
  4. Cannon HC (Fantagraphics) I actually ordered this from and thought I should mention it. Wallace Wood awesomeness that I am about 20% done reading. Supposedly only one printing on this one, so pick it up while you can. After reading some of this gorgeous book, however, I think <gasp> I got a defective copy. Why do I say this? Because I found about three or four pages thus far that DO NOT have nudity on them. Seeing as how there is TONS of nudity, this must have been an oversight of some kind. 
End of Wondercon report.

Slice Into the Woods

Both Of Obie’s Back Knees Are Injured - All joking and fictitious storytelling about Obie aside, on a serious note, the poor little guy has two injured back knees. According to the vet, Obie has a problem that is common in some of the smaller dog breed, and that he should heal, but this is going to be a recurring issue, and she recommends that he no longer run or chase tennis balls. I'm glad he’s going to heal, but he loved playing ball more than anything, and he was quite a speed demon when it came to running around the park. It breaks my heart that he will not be able to do what he loves or run like that anymore. Poor little buddy.

Undertow Was Missed Yet Again - This is getting ridiculous. I probably will not see issue three for another two to three weeks. <barf>



  1. Nice write-up, Don. Bullet points:

    - THE BUNKER is the best new comics I've read in a looooong time. Fialkov & Infurnari kick all kinds of @$$ in that first issue (haven't read #2 yet)

    - Attending as a pro next time - good for you. Assuming that will be your first con behind the table? Tug my ear if you want to know how to be ignored properly. I have some experience there.

    - LEGENDS. Love it, love it, love it! Ostrander! Byrne (good Byrne)! Kesel! Wein! Even though it suffers from having a number of plot points executed outside the main 6 issues, I still love this book. Look forward to hearing your thoughts on it.
    - STRAY BULLETS. You, my friend, have some good reading ahead of you. Lapham's book should be a blueprint for how to write comics, in my opinion. Each issue is pretty much self-contained, but it all feeds into the overarcing narrative, and if you read them in a big chunk, like you'll be able to do, the connections will be more obvious and just make it all the more satisfying. I recently finished a big re-read of my issues in anticipation of the new series. It still holds up, brilliantly. I envy you.


  2. Thanks for the comment and for reading, Chris! Yes, I’ve read the first couple of issues of THE BUNKER back before Oni scooped it up, and it is a gnarly series; love it. I forgot to mention that by the time I got to the Oni booth, Fialkov was leaving, but he saw that I was about ready to cry, and stuck around to sign my books anyways. He’s a great guy.

    I remember LEGENDS from way back in the day. I think the COSMIC BOY mini was somehow linked to this series, but I did not find those issues on the showroom floor.

    Oh man, STRAY BULLETS...I picked up the first four issues when Comixology gave them away for free a while back and they blew me away. I also heard the awesome guys at 11 O’Clock Comics talk about their love of the series, so there was no way I was going to not pick up the UBER ALES edition. I cannot BELIEVE I completely missed out on this one back in the day. I’m glad to be fixing my mistake now. Given the size of this beast, I might need someone to spot me as I attempt to lift the dang thing.

    Thank you so much for reading!