Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 7/17/2014

(Sung to the tune of Lou Reed’s “Satellite of Love”)

Satellite Sam
Delayed to me
Things like that drive me
Out of my mind

It’s all good I got it now
Along with The Bunker times three

Satellite Sam love
Satellite Sam love
Satellite Sam love
Satellite Sam

Quick introductions…Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) is our CFO. Tulip (my Boston terrier, Obie’s sister) is our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / anger management liaison. I, of course, am Donist, CEO and general manager of Donist World, and we are so mad we could spit. In fact, Obie is so mad he barfed in the corner of our corporate office (my mom’s basement), but then again that might be the carne asada tacos coming back up…they’re way too spicy for dogs. Anyhow, we had our childhood and our puppyhood annihilated this week by the news that Thor will soon become a woman in Marvel continuity. Can you believe that, denizens!? CAN YOU!? Oh my stars and garters this is devastating news even though we have not read this book, nor have we been buying any Thor books since the amazing “God Butcher” storyline, but still…Thor a dang woman?!?! Noooooo. Why would we ever accept a publisher mixing things up to give us something we have not seen before, something new, something surprising that might end up being cool?! I mean, without taking chances in the past, we would never have seen the likes of Beta Ray Bill, or Frog-Thor, or Loki as a kid, or the death of Odin, or old-man Odin, or…or…or… oh, I see. It’s like Sir Ken Robinson said, “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” Obie and Tulip are now nodding their heads in agreement. We have actually been chased away from series and characters who merely kept repeating the same adventures time and time again. Heck, it was Beta Ray Bill taking up the hammer of Thor (thanks, Walt Simonson) that ended up bringing me back to the character decades ago. Not only that, this is a Big Two book that just so happens to have a certain high-profile movie coming out next year that features Thor, so I have zero doubt that the thunder god I grew up with will be returning in the not so distant future. My guess is the new “Thor” will be one of his three daughters, but regardless of who it is, we might just get something awesome. Now that our rage-filled hearts are a cool pool of tranquility, Tulip is excited that she can make believe she is the new god(dess) of thunder, and we’re happy to look at some cool stuff.

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Satellite Sam #9
Satellite Sam #9 - Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Howard Chaykin, lettered by Ken Bruzenak, digital production by Jed Dougherty, cover colored by Jesus Aburtov, designed by Drew Gil, edited by Thomas K, published by Image Comics. There’s a reason I was so filled with nerd rage a couple weeks ago when my LCS told me that they had been shorted (once again) on their Satellite Sam order from the monopoly distributor: it’s a darn fine comic. You see, when I received the bad news, I was so enraged I let loose a cacophonous whisper of “Oh, okay, two weeks then?” and went out of the store with a “thank you, see you next week” — I told them, denizens, boy howdy did I tell them. Then, once the book finally arrived this past Wednesday, I politely laid into my LCS owner with a “Oh cool, it came in!” and let him know my two weeks of displeasure by chatting about weddings and trips to Mexico, and how cool our dogs are…I think he got the hint: NO ONE messes with the Donist’s comic books, even if it is the monopoly’s distributor’s fault. Anyhow, after nearly having my childhood murdered by the lack of a book that was never even available during my childhood, I am happy to say the wait was well worth it. 

Guy Roth, writer of the mega-hit television show Satellite Sam, has written an epic teleplay about a homosexual on Wall Street and he also has an ultimatum: either the show airs, or he quits. This does not go over well with Satellite Sam director/producer Dick Danning, who is blindsided by the demand, but little does Dick know that Guy’s teleplay is somewhat autobiographical, and a response to some nasty blackmail pictures that could take down the show and possibly the station. Unfortunately for Dick, he has more pressing matters. Meanwhile, Michael White, the star of Satellite Sam, gets closer to understanding his father’s mysterious death after he talks to the owner of LeMonde Network’s wife.

I love this series. Fraction and Chaykin are not a team I ever envisioned putting out a book, which is part of the magic of Satellite Sam. We have Fraction stretching his writing skills to make a mystery, period piece, drama with an enormous cast of characters who speak appropriate for the time and who each have their own distinct voice. The impressive thing Fraction has done with this series is take all these players — none of whom are actual “good guys” by any means, with the possible exception of secondary character Libby Meyers — and make each one compelling to the point the reader can’t help but bear witness to the train wreck of their lives. Although, come to think of it, I might classify Guy Roth as a “good guy,” especially after his brave and admirable ultimatum from this issue that he uses as a means to end his little blackmailing problem. 

As for Chaykin’s art on this tremendous series, there’s a two step process to reading an issue of Satellite Sam you need to be aware of: first, you read the comic straight through so you don’t miss a beat of the exceptional dialogue and drama; second, you immediately go back through to further appreciate Chaykin’s phenomenal character acting, storytelling, and amazing background settings. Yes the book is in black and white, but through the use of greys and textured patterns, you soon get past the lack of C, M, and Y, and cling to the wonderful story being told. Also on the visuals, I have to commend letterer Bruzenak on the use of grey blotches on Dick’s word balloons to suggest just how advanced Dick’s cancer has become, and the effect is startling, harsh, yet serves to enhance the reading experience.

If you’ve been reading Satellite Sam, then I’m sure you understand my incredibly polite, boiling rage at having to wait to read this great series, but it all worked out as I had nothing else in my pull this week. If you have not been reading this fine comic that stands firm among Image Comics’s onslaught of greatness, then you can read the first five issues in trade for only $9.99, which is a great way to experience this content-rich, dense, smart read. Keep in mind though, this is not for the kiddies in any way, shape, or form, but solely for us adults who enjoy television shows like Madmen or who loved American Flagg back in the day. You cannot go wrong with Satellite Sam. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Bunker  #1
The Bunker #1–3 - Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov, illustrated and colored and lettered by Joe Infurnari, edited by James Lucas Jones and Robin Herrera, published by Oni Press. Before we even get to The Bunker I want to state how much I like Fialkov as a writer. I have covered his wickedly thought-provoking Echoes in the past, as well as following I, Vampire through to it its end — I still wish we could have seen I, Vampire without all of the crossovers and “events,” y’know, the story that Fialkov wanted to tell had he been allowed to do so. On top of his past work, he graciously dropped by Comics Experience one night a couple years back to discuss Echoes, where someone asked How do you stay motivated? He replied with the following advice that I have since taken to heart: 

“I don’t need an artificial way to stay motivated…for people who aren’t writing full-time, that should be your motivation. Your motivation should be writing full-time. Because I know what it is like to have the heart of a writer and to be stuck behind a desk doing a job you hate. That’ll kill you. That’ll kill you, it’ll destroy you. Because…I know, I spent years doing that. Finding a way to actually turn your passion into a way of making a living should be your motivation. And honestly, if it is not, then being a writer is not your passion.”

How about that? So, I typed out and printed his quote, and stuck it under the glass of my desk so that I see it every day. With summer classes ending this week, it looks like it’s time to double down on my writing, but that has nothing to do with the awesome new creator-owned series The Bunker.

Five longtime friends are celebrating their college graduation by hiking into the woods to bury a time capsule, which they intend to retrieve 20 years from this day. The shovel strikes shallow dirt, along with something else: steel. What they find is a monstrous bunker exactly where they had intended to bury their capsule, but the most startling thing of all is that four of the five have their full names printed on the hatch. Perplexed, they enter the bunker to find a history of how in the future they will bring about the end of the world. What is most terrifying is that they each — except for Billy — have a note supposedly written to them by their older selves. What do you do when you know you play a part in humanity’s downfall? And where is Billy’s note?

I warned you that there would be spoilers up top, but don’t worry, denizens, this is just the first third of issue one, and trust me when I say that things get real weird as you go along through to issue three. Fialkov lays out an intense mystery as to what happened while providing a hard look at each of the five characters as we learn what their ultimate fates will be if they don't change things. Unfortunately, some of the advice from their future selves causes them much grief. How the heck do you justify staying the course at the behest of your future self, knowing full well that the death of humanity is nigh? How do you know when to deviate from that course? How do you even know you can trust yourself? What the heck happened to Billy and his note? Fialkov smacks you with all of these questions, and given that there is a bunker in the ground, you might think of the television show Lost where there ended up being far more questions than answers. The creators are aware of this, and even have the characters joke about the similarity of their plight to that of the fictional show. Unlike Lost, I trust the creators to carry us through this story in a manner that will satisfy us adoring readers in the end. I am hooked.

Infurnari’s art is perfect for this story. It is dark and rough, and his use of drama and body language pulls you immediately into the thick of things. His incredible storytelling coupled with his nearly invisible lettering (this is a good thing, and is not easy to pull off) keeps your eyes trained firmly on the page as you glide from panel to panel through to the end of the book. Then there is the striking, mood provided by Infurnari’s colors, which brings me to the early version of The Bunker. This comic originally was Fialkov and Infurnari’s digital-only creation that lasted two (?) issues, before they decided to actually do an official release through Oni Press. Now with a publisher, the creators tweaked the format and colored the comic for a physical, floppy release. This was a great decision, as the colors add much to the impact of this compelling story.

I’ve been sitting on these first three issues — the first two Fialkov kindly signed for me at Wondercon back in April — for far too long, but I'm glad I read them this week. Actually, I couldn’t put the dang things down. Not only that, I missed issue four and I am now on an urgent mission to find a copy when I head up north in the next couple weeks; I MUST know what’s going to happen next. If you missed out on these first four issues, then never fear, you can pick up the trade in August, which I strongly suggest you do. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Slice Into the Woods

You Get It From the Intro - Yeah, nerd rage…so stupid. Ease up. Nothing ever lasts in the Big Two — Phoenix, Bucky, Frog-Thor, etc. — so sit back, relax, and you might just get something awesome. If not, well, It’ll all go back to normal soon enough anyways.


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