Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 6/20/2014

(Sung to the tune of Blondie’s “One Way Or Another”) *side note* want more Debbie Harry and the Muppets? Here’s “Call Me,” or check out Blondie’s “Platinum Collection.”

One book, not another, I gotta tell ya
I'm gonna buy ya, buy ya, buy ya, buy ya
One book, not another, I should remind ya
I'm gonna buy ya, buy ya, buy ya, buy ya

One book, not another, I’m gonna read ya
I'm gonna read ya, read ya, read ya, read ya
Only one book, but come next week, I’ll comic flood ya
I’ll comic flood ya, I’ll flood ya

I read Sex Criminals
It blew my mind through town
Next week I will drown

Hello and welcome to Donist World. Before I get into anything today, I want to comment on how elating it was to watch those Debbie Harry on the Muppets Show videos (see above links). I had forgotten all about them until Amy the Donist World intern reminded me of Debbie Harry’s appearance on the show. Given that I LOVE Blondie, and I loved the Muppets, combining the two is like discovering Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for the first time. Since I’m already distracted and CEO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and Donist World marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / mashup specialist Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister) are blaming me for only one comic being in the pull this week and they aren’t talking to me, let’s go off topic for a moment. Are there any songs that give you the chills? I don’t mean the I feel like someone walked over my grave chills, but the I love this with every molecule of my being chills? After watching a couple Blondie videos and settling on a song for this week’s post, I put on “Dreaming” and the chills came a flooding in. Such a great song. Anyhow, uh…comic books! Yes, I only had one comic in my pull, but this week saw the release of a trade I’ve been anxious to get ahold of that I’m fairly certain will be showing up here on ol’ FSoH/SitW. I'm not going to spoil what it is, but I will say that it sounds like Melmet by Ned Studebaker; hopefully I can read it this weekend. Since the puppies are so angry about the lack of new comics this week, I can actually get some work done without the burden of Obie’s new Management By Dungeon Master (MBDM) method of leadership and his myriad of scenarios requiring the rolling of four-sided and twenty-sided dice. So, while I sneak out the door of our corporate office (my mom’s basement) to head to a coffee shop, have a look at this week’s tremendous…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Sex Criminals
Sex Criminals #6 - Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Chip Zdarsky, color flats by Becka Kinzie, edited by Thomas K, production by Drew Gill, published by Image Comics. Here’s the thing...this was the only comic waiting for me in my pull this week, but that’s fine. Sex Criminals is my favorite comic being released on a monthly(ish) basis, and that takes into consideration a certain phenomenal, space-faring, fantasy, love series I simply adore (Saga, of course). Don’t get me wrong, the two books are neck and neck in terms of my excited desperation to get my hands on the latest issue. When that new copy arrives, I wait until the wife and the dog head up to bed, I pour myself either a beer or hot tea, I assume my position on the couch where my posterior has permanently created a Donist-sized ass indent — I should really flip the cushions — and I study the cover for a moment before turning to that first page. It’s my time to read comics, and woe unto he who interrupts my peace and happiness; this goes doubly so when Sex Criminals is in my mitts.

There is, however, a potential problem with this routine, as I am usually tired from the day that tends to begin around 5:30 am. This latest issue, the beginning of the second arc, had a few words within the pages; many a few words, in fact. I was also dog-tired and already on my way to slumberland. This was the same state I was in a few nights ago when reading an equally wordy title – one I will not name – that knocked me out at least twice during the reading…I just couldn’t get through it. But this darn Sex Criminals funny book, with its characters who I feel are part me and my wife, and part lifelong friends who we meet for barbecues or pizza or a Game of Thrones viewing on at least a weekly basis, refused to let me be tired. Two pages in, my slouched carcass, on that darn Donist-indented couch, sat up, took a sip of tea, and awakened more than I had been for most of the day. This is not in spite of the many, many words on the page, but because of the many words on the page. Not all comics are created equal, denizens, and in this case, one comic put me to sleep, while this new issue of Sex Criminals woke my a$$ up and made me want to call Jon and Suze just to say “hi” and check in. I absolutely adore this book.

Jon and Suze have eluded the Sex Police, and all is well as they settle into their home and their routines…okay, not really. After having entering the Quiet one evening, Jon discovers that the device they took from Kegelface can actually track the location of people in the Quiet; they are definitely being monitored. The sex stops, the intensity lessens, and life kicks in, but for Jon so does the paranoia, and the depression, and the rest. The honeymoon period is over and when mixed with a healthy fear of the Sex Police, can Jon and Suze’s relationship stand up to the challenge?

Criminy, denizens, this is another fantastic issue. Yes, there are tons of words in this issue, but they are in no way slap-you-in-the-face exposition, but each word is vital to the story, in understanding what it is Jon is going through. In fact, the many words are indicative of Jon’s spiraling paranoia and depression, bringing you into his out-of-control world to allow you to experience what he feels. In addition to gaining insight into Jon’s state of mind, Fraction gives us the most open, honest, and true look at what happens when the passion of early love fades as “regular life” sets in and temperatures normalize. He captures this change in all the shocking brutality of its truthfulness and it is simply beautifully told.

Zdarsky…if you’ve been reading Donist World for any length of time, you know how much I love this Applebee’s lover’s work on this series. The cartooning is phenomenal, and the colors, especially when in the Quite, are mesmerizing. On this issue, it is the character acting, the drama of the scene where his work sings. Like Fraction’s many words, Zdarsky utilizes tons of panels on nearly every page. Aside from two pages with four panels, most pages have at least seven, which contributes to pushing Jon’s frantic, panicked frame of mind onto the reader. Combine the many panels with the many words, and I found myself becoming just as nervous as John. This is not a complaint, but a huge admission of admiration for two creators at the height of their craft who can deftly steer readers to empathize with their characters.

Usually, I crack a ton of jokes while writing about this darn-fine series, as I usually feel giddy after reading each issue, but the honesty and heart poured into the making of this latest release is so powerful I’m having a hard time making with the funny. I’ve loved this book since issue one, and my wife hammered through the first trade in a single sitting; she loved it. All openminded adults, whether comic book worshipers or not, should be reading this awesome comic. Sex Criminals is worthy of every bit of praise it receives. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Manifest Destiny v.1:
Flora & Fauna TPB
Manifest Destiny Volume 1: Flora & Fauna TPB - Written by Chris Dingess, illustrated by Matthew Roberts, colored by Owen Gieni, lettered by Pat Brosseau, edited by Sean MacKiewicz, published by Image Comics. Last week I teased that I read a certain somethin’-somethin’ that kind of blew my mind, and that book is Manifest Destiny. I heard about this awesome collection of the first six issues on my favorite comic book podcast, 11 O’Clock Comics, and their enthusiastic look at this book made me seek this out; boy howdy, am I glad I did.

In 1804, Lewis and Clark set out to explore the uncharted American Frontier with a crew of enlisted men, mercenaries, and convicts. Part of their mission, the one that few others are aware, is that they were also sent to discover and hunt monsters. Their hunt has not been going well. Lewis is the one who chronicles the flora and the fauna, and Clark is the tactician, he also keeps the men in line. As boredom and unrest begins to set in, the expedition force encounters their first honest-to-God monster, and the encounter does not go well. After that first fateful encounter, dealing with monsters and the strange becomes a regular way of life that Lewis and Clark’s expeditionary force can’t hope to overcome, if not for the fierce aid of the “little Indian girl” named Sacagawea.

Holy cow! This series is a freaking blast! From page one, the creators create a building tension that creeps not just through the ranks of the enlisted men and the criminals in Lewis and Clark’s employ, but also through this reader, as I read through the first issue late one night. Geez Louise! I really, really want to spoil the monsters that appear in this book, but I’m going to bite my tongue and allow you to discover what awaits our “heroes” out in the wild as they encounter one horror after another. Dingess’s writing is fantastic — both dialogue, and journaled captions – and the characters are immediately established, including those with exceptionally short lifespans. I couldn’t put the book down.

Roberts’s art is gorgeous, occasionally reminding me of Tony Moore, and his storytelling is spot on, with his character acting driving home the creeping unease coursing throughout the book. We see the toll that exploring the unknown takes on Lewis and Clark’s “hardened” men, when they think no one is looking; the haunted look in their eyes tells us all we need to know. Then there is the attention to costuming, body language, and most important of all…the monsters. Again, no spoilers, but just know…wow!

If you like alternate history, horror, monster stories, or darn-good comic books, then there is absolutely no reason for you to pass on this awesome series. The trade retails for $9.99 — for six issues, mind you! — and you can get it for even less at Manifest Destiny is scary, exciting, and occasionally gross, but primarily it is a heck of a lot of fun…be sure to read it right before going to bed. I can’t wait to see what happens next. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Only One Book (Again) This Week?! - I know, I know. This is not an actual problem to have, but next week looks to have at least nine titles sitting in my pull. The thing is, writing FSoH/SitW takes me a long time. Writing semi-thoughtful comments / critiques does not come easy or naturally to me, which is part of the allure of writing this weekly post — that and sharing the love of the grooviest things I found that week, of course. With FSoH/SitW, I get to stretch different brainage muscles: changing the lyrics of a song to humorously reflect the comics I read that week; writing a little side story about Tulip and Obie; writing a positive critique of each work, and possibly adding my own experience(s) in life to the examination.  So, next week’s offering will probably see markedly shorter glimpses at each of the books that appear, as I have a suspicion that I am going to love them all. Again, how can reading too many awesome comic books ever be a problem?


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