Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 10/31/2014

(Sung to the tune of Stellastarr’s “Sweet Troubled Soul”)

I’m a comics fan
Oooo new books, can’t wait
Saga’s The Will, dang
Oooo Tensions inflate
But Southern Bastards’s tops
Rachel Rising is too
So just open your mind
And let’s take a good look
To Black Science and awesome Low
Sweet comics, bro

Hello and welcome back to Donist World. I’m joined as ever by our CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / spooktacular superpuppy Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). It is Halloween, which means candy, scary movies, scary comics, and pumpkin flavored everything. I love this time of year. In true Halloween spirit, the dogs have dressed up with Tulip wearing her mom’s old, pink blanket as a hooded cape (see the cover image of my soon-to-be-released book Kibbles ’N’ Bots near the bottom of the page to get the idea), while Obie is dressed in a Hamburglar outfit — although he thinks it’s a prisoner costume. Obie isn’t just getting into the groove of things, he is also making a statement regarding his innocence in the recent destruction of my friends’ two-year-old’s astronaut toys. Of course Obie is as guilty as they come, but he says until there is photographic / video evidence of him chewing up the toys, then there is reasonable doubt to his guilt…yeah right.

Anyhow, before we head into the reviews and the mini-announcement regarding my book, I encourage you to get some pumpkin beer (Dogfish Head or Rogue has nice ones) or a non-alcoholic pumpkin cider, watch a groovy horror movie like Dolls, or Evil Dead 2, and then read a great horror comic like The Upturned Stonewhich I wrote about last year, and just re-read this past Tuesday evening (You can still buy it for $5.00 MUST READ! MUST OWN!). Anyhow, Happy Halloween, and on with the show…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Saga #24
Saga #24 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettered and designed by Fonografiks, published by Image Comics. There you have it, chapter four concludes and thus begins the hiatus until chapter five kicks off sometime in 2015. With this knowledge, do I decide to finally switch to trades and extend the break a little longer? Heck NO, denizens! I will be marking off the days on my calendar in anticipation of issue 25. With Saga, even if we only had a week’s wait between issues, it would be too darn long. It’s like being a kid all over again: November rolls around and you know you have a couple painful weeks of waiting for the holiday vacation to begin, and then yet another wait for X-Mas to roll around where you hope to get the new Micronauts “Force Commander” toy you saw in the Sears-Roebuck Winter Catalog. As much as you say you hate the wait, somewhere inside you secretly love it…the process makes the end result so much sweeter. But that’s all about what is to come. How about what actually is?

The Brand is trying to find who hurt his/her brother, The Will, who is in a coma and slowly dying. Little does The Brand know that Gwendolyn, Sophie, and Lying Cat are trying to gather the components of a powerful healing elixir, and could really use her/his help…if he/she doen’t kill them first. Finally, Ghüs the seal boy has some unexpected visitors.

Criminy, I love this comic. Usually, when you open an issue of Saga to the first page, you are slammed with a shocking splash page, and this installment does the same, but not in the manner expected. Yes, you are smacked in the face, only this time it is with the velvet-wrapped glove of cuteness. I loved the cheerful seal boy, Ghüs, and his bright yellow overalls the moment I saw him, and to see a full-page splash of him carrying a particularly wicked-looking battle axe, his “chopper,” and saying those four words (I ain’t spoiling), how could anyone not turn the page? We then see more of The Brand and the awesome Sweet Boy in some simply wonderful character interactions, as well as a Friendo (FRIENDO!!!) mention.

They say the Devil is in the details, but with Staples, it is more along the lines of “all things heavenly are in her details.” For example, the page two photograph of The Will that The Brand presents to Ghüs perfectly encapsulates the dying bounty hunter: sitting in the bar, a bottle of booze to his left, a glass to his right, an actual head of hair, and the surliest look at being bothered one could ever give. We have not seen or heard from The Will for many issues, but this one photograph captures him completely, and it is awesome.

This scene with Ghüs and The Brand is all of four-pages long and I adored every bit of imagery and dialogue, but there is so much more to the rest of this issue. The scene with Gwendolyn, Sopie, and Lying Cat is creepy and scary as they attempt to find the ingredients that will cure The Will. The three evil, Nazi, pig creatures they encounter practically leap from the page against the gorgeous green background, and stylistically they remind me of a mixture of Pink Floyd’s The Wall and characters from a Ralph Bakshi animated movie. Basically, they’re kind of horrifying, but the creators are only too happy to lighten the mood with a laugh-out-loud Lying Cat moment (I’m glad she didn’t lose her eye, btw). But as awesome and worthy of mention as every moment of this comic is, it is the bookend final full-page splash that made me positively crazy for more more more.

I love this comic series. You probably love it, too. If you aren’t reading the best book on the stands, then you can easily catch up with the first three trades (a fourth is on the way in December), or you can pick up the MUST OWN hardcover coming November 19 that contains issues 1–18 plus loads of extra stuff that will make me triple dip on this comic that is near and dear to my heart. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Southern Bastards #5
Southern Bastards #5 - Written by Jason Aaron, illustrated by Jason Latour, lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Once upon a time, Coach Boss was a young aspiring football player by the name of Euless Boss. He was scrawny, couldn’t catch or throw or run or tackle worth a damn, but what he did have was a determination to get what he wanted. Now, after having put Earl Tubb in the ground, Coach Boss will go on to show just how tight a grip he has on Craw County, and how he can not only murder a man in broad daylight, with half the town watching, but get away with it as well.

<phew> This issue is gnarly. Okay, Coach Boss is a grade-A dick, but DON’T ever let the man know I said that…frankly, he terrifies me. Here’s the deal: the creators don’t need a supervillain with powers, or an alien monster, or a demon of old, or a futuristic robotic killing machine to make a scary-as-all-heck villain. Not at all. Coach Boss is a plain ol’ human being, but by the time you finish this issue you might be doubting his humanity. The character is as real as they come, and the Jasons instill him with so much evil coursing through his veins that every page turn of this book made me wince at just how wicked this man is. In lesser hands, Boss would be an overkill joke of himself, highly unrealistic, but with Aaron’s perfectly timed words and Latour’s brilliant storytelling, Boss comes across as a lifetime’s worth of bad news delivered all at once. All you need to really send the chills down your spine is the second-to-last-page splash to see what I mean. <brrrrrrrrr>

All of the above love of this man’s evil aside, I have a confession about this issue after reading the previous issue’s epilogue: I wanted to jump right in with Tubb’s daughter’s story, not Coach Boss. I know, I know, but issue four left me so upset about Tubb, and the reveal of his daughter had my heart pumping for some righteous payback, that I just wanted Boss to pay. Thankfully, the creators did not give me what I was looking for. Sure it will come, but this look into Boss’s past and present is so eyeopening about this character, that I gained a sliver of sympathy for him…just a sliver. Take for instance Boss’s multi-bedroom house, void of most furniture and decor, the king-sized bed with only one side slept in, the walk-in closet emptied of all but a handful of men’s clothes tells you what this man’s ambition has cost him, and for a brief instant I caught myself saying, “oh.” Don’t get me wrong, I hate this a_hole, but at the same time, I love my hatred of this character, and I desperately want to know more of Coach Boss’s history.

Now, I don’t like sports. In fact, I kind of hate them, this is especially true of football. The only positive I find with the sport is the beer, nachos, buffalo wings, and assortment of chip dips and salsas that accompany most high-profile games. To be honest, it takes a lot for a movie or television show to make me give a fig about any sport, let alone a comic book, but every so often the unthinkable happens. Things like MoneyballFriday Night Lightsand now Southern Bastards give me good reason to adjust my preconceptions.

Yes, Southern Bastards is so much more than just a “football” comic. It is a crime story,  a statement of politics, of economics, of character, of racism, you name it. I have never read anything like Southern Bastards, which is probably part of the reason I am loving this book so much, but mostly it is Aaron and Latour’s phenomenal story that makes me desperate to see what comes next. You can easily catch up with one trade ($9.99 retail!) and this issue for yet another fantastic offering from Image Comics. Must read material, denizens. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Rachel Rising #29
Rachel Rising #29 - Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. “Young” Zoe confronts the “woman” who watched her stab a “priest” to death, and things get rough. Meanwhile, Rachel begins the hunt for the person who killed her and in turn makes a friend before enacting extreme measures to unlock her memories.

Yet another great issue of Rachel Rising. Although there is a noticeable absence of about 70% of the word balloons and dialogue compared to most issues of this series, Moore uses the many silent panels to do the heavy lifting of the storytelling without resorting to exposition-laden caption boxes. He does this beautifully. I can also say that this issue has the best action scenes of someone being tossed onto the trunk of a moving car that I have ever seen, which I realize is a shade specific, but the four panel progression is stunning nonetheless.

Moore also draws some fantastic rain sequences and the added touch of his extreme sound effects, although not something you see all that often in Rachel Rising, are the perfect level of jarring to get your heart pumping…“Ba-Bum! Ba-Bum!” I love the scene of Rachel commiserating with the hardware store employee, as well as Zoe’s oh-so-clever game-changing moment, but it is the cliffhanger ending that makes me want to see what happens next.

It’s Halloween. You need to be reading something scary, so why not pick up this wonderful series via the currently available four trade paperbacks? If you haven’t read Rachel Rising, then you are missing out on one of the best horror comics on the stand, by one of the best writer-artists in the business. Gore hounds need not apply, but fans of intelligent, slow-burn horror tales…this one’s for you. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Black Science #10
Black Science #10 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Matteo Scalera, painted by Dean White, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Nate and Pia have been captured by the fanatical sentient centipedes who want to know the location of the pillar that is steadily ticking away until the next jump. Along with a goblin child, the children make a daring escape and rush to warn their friends of the menace that threatens to take the only means they have of returning home.

I want to own the double page splash on pages 8–9. Holy moly, denizens, is this piece freaking amazing. You have Pia, Nate, and the goblin child riding a blue flame breathing, green skinned, hippo-bug-bat monster away from the menace of the centipede stronghold amidst the orange sky. It’s almost like a Yes or Asia album cover, only better…you just need to see this dang-fine piece of art. Of course the rest of the pages in this issue are everything you would expect to see in a Scalera and White collaboration…pure beauty.

The story kicks back into its whirlwind pacing as we get caught up in Pia and Nate’s thrilling escape, but I will say I’m not totally getting the parallel world with Grant McKay and Gahiji Makalani (who?), but I’m sure all will be made clear down the line. Still, Remender hits some intense emotional beats with Pia’s anger with her deceased father, and Nate’s reminding Pia that she was not the best of daughters to their mother.

Black Science is the sci-fi Indiana Jones of the comic book world, only with a much larger cast of characters, each of whom can buy the farm (i.e. die) at a moment’s notice. You can catch up with the first trade and the last four issues, which if you are a fan of beautiful art and thrilling stories is something I encourage you to do at your earliest convenience. I’m off to see if I can find a good wallpaper image of pages 8–9! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Low #4
Low #4 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Greg Tocchini, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. Stel and her son, Marik, are traveling through the ocean and each of their suits are nearly out of air. They’re dying, but Stel has hope that they will reach the Third City, a place of pirates, mutants, and cut-throats, but a place with air. Now, all Stel and Marik need to do is locate the probe which tells of a new world capable of sustaining life, but when Stel sees that Roln, the pirate who killed her husband and stole her children, is alive and well, vengeance is all she can see.

Low is my favorite of Remender’s current three creator-owned titles (the other two being Black Science and Deadly Class, of course). I love underwater adventures, but mix in the post-apocalyptic world with a cast of characters like Stel and Marik, and crazy-looking sea monsters, and you have a series that was practically created for me.

The story and painted art of this issue are as stunning as ever, but with that said, I have to admit I have very little idea of what happened over pages 3–5 and part of 6. I can tell which character is Stel, and that she is weaponizing her awesome wetsuit, but I don’t get what happens after she slashes the rock. The two panel, double-page spread is cool, but I still have no idea of what it is I am looking at, or how it relates to the slashed rock. This kind of bummed me out, but once I turned the page, I was right back in the flow of things and grooving to Roln’s evil ways and the surprise awaiting Stel and Marik in the heart of Third City. Most importantly, I’m more than eager for the next issue.

Aside from a couple of confusing pages, this comic is yet another magnificent issue in a series that has me 100%. Getting ahold of the first three issues might be a tad difficult at this point, but a second printing of the first issue was recently made available, so you might be in luck on that front. I highly encourage all denizens of a more mature persuasion to pick up this dang fine aquatic sci-fi tale that has no problem throwing its readers for a loop as it prepares to kick into high gear. I love this comic. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

I’m Uploading My All-Ages Novel Kibbles ’N’ Bots to Amazon’s KDP Program Today
Okay, this is the cover to my ebook. I started Kibbles ’N’ Bots way back in January 2011, while finishing my first novel (Kibbles ’N’ Bots is actually my second novel). I wrote two drafts, put it away for a while, returned to it a bunch of times, and then really got serious about finishing it late last year.

With the exception of hiring Rob Anderson (writer of the awesome Rex Zombie Killer, the soon-to-be-released Creature Cops from IDW, and much more) as my story editor — one of the best decisions of my life — and guilting my wife into reading the book at a stage far before it was ready, everything is me. I created the cover, I did all of the epub / mobi formatting, table of contents creation, design for the book, and of course all of the writing. It is as professionally built as they come, as I wanted to eradicate any of the “self-published” look.

I opted not to approach any agents or managers, and I chose to not go the route of traditional publishers, as I wanted to retain all rights to my book, and I wanted to get it out quick. I also have plans to write three more novels in the series and to create a comic book mini-series in between each installment. I will probably try the traditional route on my first novel, but that’s something else entirely.

I’m sure there are grammatical errors — a few, in fact — but hiring a copy editor was…outside of my scope of reality for the time being (i.e. money)…but what errors there might be, they should not remove any reader from the story and I will fix what pops up; I find errors in traditionally published bestsellers all the time. Still, this is a concern as I am a perfectionist, but thankfully I did have my secret weapon (a seventh grade English teacher as a wife) go through the book a while back — I still owe her for that.

I’ll write up something when the book appears for sale on Amazon, and I am considering creating a tutorial on how to take a Word .doc file all the way through to the .epub and .mobi (Kindle) formats, as the process was pretty dang brutal at first. I am immensely proud of my book, I had a blast writing it, and I hope others enjoy it as well…I will definitely need some positive reviews once it appears. Most of all, I look forward to starting the followup novel in the next couple of weeks, as I am eager to start something new. I hope you all check out Kibbles ’N’ Bots, it’s inexpensive, and I sincerely hope you enjoy reading my all-ages book as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Slice Into the Woods

Nervous - Deep breaths…okay, this has been a crazy week for me. I published my exceedingly personal experiences with bullying here in an effort to raise awareness for the RISE: Comics Against Bullying Kickstarter, which is now only…HOLY GUACAMOLE! IT’S FUNDED! What a fantastic surprise. There are still 64 hours to go, and every dollar added to that amount guarantees more comics for more schools, not to mention increased awareness about the the terrible problem of bullying. If you contributed to the Kickstarter, I thank you with all my heart. Man, what a surprise.

Also, as I mentioned above, I will be submitting my novel Kibbles ’N’ Bots to the KDP program at some point today. This is exciting and terrifying, but mostly exciting…no, now it’s terrifying again…wait, now it’s exciting. My guess is once I submit, then around Monday / Tuesday my book will be available for everyone to read. Now I’m nervous again. Deep breaths…deep breaths…

Monday, October 27, 2014


“Sunny Side” To Appear In RISE: Comics Against Bullying

It has been a while since I have written anything other than a “Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods” post, but with the good news of my story “Sunny Side” set to appear in the RISE: Comics Against Bullying anthology, pending a successful Kickstarter campaign (we need your help!), I thought I would talk about my own experiences with bullying. First things first: Over the past couple years, I have mostly cleaned up my use of bad words on Donist World, but for this post there will probably be some words that others find offensive. If you do find any portion of this post offensive, then just remember that this is all true, these were things that were actually said to me, or things I felt. I also fully understand I got off easy compared to most other bullying victims. All names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Bullying began in junior high school, eighth grade to be exact. When I arrived that first day of school in September, I knew the year was going to be different. My best friend Bruce had moved away during the summer. My other friend Jason had also moved away, and my third friend, Carl, had started down a path of drugs (pot and cocaine…yes, we are talking about thirteen and fourteen-year-olds) which made it clear we would not be hanging out like we used to. All of a sudden and most unexpectedly, I was alone. I was sad, but there were other kids I was kind of friends with, and I figured things would work out.

There were some other things going on with me, however. You know, puberty things. The world of shaving, deodorant, hormones, skin problems, weight gain — you name it — also came crashing down. To further add to the mix, my home was quite financially…well, let’s just say there was very little money to go around. Eighth grade, as well as life, had brought many changes, including new roles and expectations attributable to the status of being an eighth grader. We were supposed to be at top of the food chain, at least that is what I believed until something about me caught the attention of Bob and Piz.

I was always a shy, soft-spoken kid growing up, and now without my friends around I wasn’t sure where I fit in. I had no idea where to sit at lunchtime, and it was probably painfully obvious that I was not comfortable in my own skin, or my own clothes for that matter; I attempted to cover the increasing fat on my body by wearing the same black coat day in, day out. My clothes did not match what was in style, my hair lacked style altogether, and I thought it best to just keep my head down and hope things would improve throughout the year. Then, a few weeks into the school year, it rained and PE was to held in the gym. That is when Bob and Piz began their long, steady regiment of continual degradation and harassment.

I sucked at sports and fitness back then, and I was happy to be indoors, but I didn’t anticipate having to do the peg wall in front of my fellow classmates. The peg wall was essentially a wood board wall with holes in it that you were to climb using two pegs that you held, one in each hand, and you would thus climb the wall by removing one peg to move it up to the next hole. I failed miserably at this, many kids did, but for some reason Bob and Piz singled me out and began poking me in the sides and saying I was “chunky” and that I “just couldn’t get it in the hole.” I was mortified, confused, embarrassed. Some of the other kids laughed, but I blew it off believing that was the end of it. It wasn’t. Unfortunately, the three of us had PE, History, English, and Math together as well and the harassment and teasing only escalated from there through to the very end of what was to be a very long school year.

I’m not going to go into a day-by-day rundown of what happened, just know the teasing focused with laser-like precision on my weight, the fact that I could not afford clothes like what they wore, my hair, the lunches I brought, my refusal to do the drugs or alcohol they frequently offered me (usually pot or cocaine, I’m still not sure they even had drugs), and sex with girls. One of their favorite topics was was how my “titties” were bigger than Sally’s followed by Bob and Piz giggling with amusement. Sally joined the giggling as well, although she did seem uncomfortable about what was being said. The first week of this was traumatizing, but I would go home and be fine, but they had planted the seed; I had begun to hate myself. When no one was looking, I’d pinch my stomach or sometimes punch it thinking my hatred of the fat would somehow make me skinnier, which I realized was completely stupid and only succeeded in making me feel worse.

Bob and Piz alternated being “boyfriends” to Sally throughout the year (I couldn’t keep it straight as to who was with her on a given day) but Sally said nothing when Bob and Piz talked about the details of the sex they had with her. Now that I think of it, they were probably lying out of their asses, but some of the graphic things they said to me about what they did with her as she sat there giggling, must have been just as harmful to Sally as it was to me…who really knows. Still, I would see Sally making out with one or the other between classes and at lunch, so she must not have been too torn up over what they were saying.

At first some of the other kids, kids who were once friends of mine, would laugh, but after a couple weeks of incessant teasing from Bob and Piz, even the other kids stopped laughing as I watched them cringe and refuse to make eye contact with me; they were relieved it wasn’t them. Like I said, it was mostly verbal and emotional abuse, and constant “titty twisters” and pokes to the fat on my sides, but it did turn to punches a couple times when I had finally had enough and shoved one of their hands away or told them to “leave me the fuck alone.” In response, they laughed and then the pokes to my sides turned to punch after punch to my arm or chest and my brief rebellion died faster than it had started.

And so it went for nine months.

Yes, I could have told, but I did not want to be a snitch. I calculated that nothing would happen, and that my harassment would become worse. My hope for a teacher to notice what was going on vanished after the first month, as Bob and Piz were exceedingly good at timing their bullying to when the teacher had their back turned or was otherwise distracted. I thought about telling my mom, but, again, the calculated risk was not in my favor, plus her reaction to what another bully had done (I’ll get to that in a sec) made me think it was best not to tell her. I also gave strong, very strong, consideration to getting one of them alone and hurting them…and I mean hurting them in a very bad manner…but I did not want to upset my mom by shattering her opinion of me or getting into any sort of legal trouble; I considered myself one of the good guys, and good people don’t harm others — let’s just leave it at that. A couple time I thought about harming myself, but deep down I knew that was not an option: I did not want to hurt my family, and there was so very much I wanted to see and do with my life.

I’m wrapping up, but here is the side note. There was one other kid, Denny, who was also in our PE class, and NO ONE messed with him. You could just sense the animosity oozing from Denny’s pores. The kid was psychotic, but he thankfully kept to himself. One day, after a couple of months of being torn down by Bob and Piz, I decided I needed a quick break and went into the locker room where I thought I would be alone for a moment, but Denny was there walking toward me. He said, “What’s up…Don?” and punched me hard in the arm. Being at my wits end with the other two assholes, I tried to push his arm away, but this upset him. He laughed, then punched me again, and again, and again in the same exact spot. If this had been Bob or Piz, I might have snapped and gone crazy, and given them back the pain I so desperately wanted to unleash upon them. But this was Denny; he completely terrified me. After a few more blows while chanting, “What? You gonna fight back, Don? Huh? Huh?” he left me shaking and alone in the locker room. The point of this part of the story is that a few days later, my mom caught sight of the massive black, blue, red, and yellow bruising covering my arm and chest. Her fury with whoever had done this to her child would have carried her out the door and to the school had I not begged her to stay out of it. It took a lot of pleading, and promising it was a one off occurrence to get her not to go to the school, but I never mentioned Bob or Piz, who were causing far more damage than Denny had…maybe I should have told her. For better or worse, she listened, and did not get involved, but Denny never messed with me again, and in fact stopped showing up to school all together; thank goodness.

The year finally ended. I graduated. I got a year book FILLED with kids who wrote things like “I’m so sorry for what Bob and Piz did to you. Next year will be better!!! Have a bitchin’ summer!!!” It’s crazy, but almost every single kid who had witnessed my torment  had written some sort of apology to me…nearly everyone, and I had a bunch of kids sign my yearbook. The thing is, they did feel sorry for me, I knew that, and it helped after spending the past school year blaming myself for being fat, for being poor, for being a loser. Now, I know Bob and Piz were total assholes. Had they singled out some other unlucky kid, I wish I could say I would have acted like one of my heroes from the comic books and spoken up for the kid in trouble. But the truth is, I probably would not have not done a damn thing to help them for fear of being targeted myself; this bums me out to no end.

So, what happened after that? Needless to say, I was thrilled to have the summer and I resolved to not let what happened in junior high happen in high school. This was a new year, a new beginning, and I was thankful for it. As it turned out, Bob was never in another one of my classes; I guess he didn’t do so well in the grade department and got moved to lower-level classes. Piz was in many of the same classes as me, and the very first day of school, fifth period English, once class ended, Piz walked up to me, smiled, and laughed as he said, “So, Don…what if Bob and I treat you like we did last year?” He followed with that giggle I hated so very much, but stopped when I looked him in the eyes and replied, “I would love to see you try. I fucking dare you to try.” I meant it. I would have torn him apart with my bare hands if he had pressed the matter, but he didn’t. Oddly enough, Piz and I were on good terms, friendly even, for the rest of high school. I don’t know what happened to him, and I honestly don’t care. I did see Bob years later, however. He looked miserable, working somewhere he was ashamed to be seen, and I could have said something cruel, heartless, or judging by the look of sadness emanating from him, I could have probably decimated him with but a smug look; he seemed to be waiting for me to do something hurtful. I didn’t, though. I could have fractured his tiny world, and I chose not to. I like to think that his knowing this fact caused him at least some degree of anguish for quite some time.

Thankfully, times are changing, and I know things can be different. Now, I would speak up. I would never wish the self-loathing, insecurity, and decimated self-confidence Bob and Piz forced upon me, on anyone just trying to make their way in life. It took me years to rebuild myself, and become happy with who I am, but I did it, and I learned from the terrible experiences of that year. What happened to me was no one’s fault but that of Bob and Piz. Now, I would go to the teacher, tell them what was happening, and ask to be moved far across the class from the bullies. If that didn’t help, then I would go to the school counselor, or even the principal, and ask to have my schedule changed to remove me from the constant harassment. Even if it happened to be some other poor kid being targeted, then telling someone anonymously might be the way to go. If things were really bad, maybe police involvement could help, or maybe a unified front of one’s peers could aid an individual singled out for no reason other than being different. Unfortunately, there’s currently little most schools can do in many bullying situations, but there are ways to make things better, including the realization that this time is temporary. Junior high can be incredibly awkward, but it needn’t be a time of hell for anyone. If you or someone you know is being bullied, then let someone know. You are not alone. It will get better.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 10/24/2014

(Sung to the tune of Foreigner’s “Urgent”)

Wonderin’ why, few books around
You wanna read, cool sci-fi stuff how’s that sound?
Slow Wednesday, it brings me down
You gotta see, there’s still lots ta go ’round

Got fire in you veins
Burnin’ need for more it’s insane
Lazarus will heal your pain
Forever and gang representing again

But sometimes I wonder as I look with wide eyes
One book in my pull? I’m tellin’ you, guys
But I know, yes I know, Hellblazer’s old, alright
It and Thanos Imperative are still out of sight

Read ’em their urgent

“Hi folks! I look like something out
of the film ALIEN got ahold on me!”
Hi Denizens. I’m only joined this week by my marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / bail bond specialist Tulip (my Boston terrier) as our CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier, Tulip’s brother) has been thrown into what he calls the slammer. You see, last week he chewed up — sorry, allegedly chewed up — the two-year-old’s red astronaut toy. This week, however, he isn’t doing the case brought against him by his owners much good, as a new astronaut murder victim has been found over on the side of the leather couch. Obie is of course claiming he is innocent, and that he is still being framed. When I conferenced him in on a business meeting this morning, I flat out asked him if he did it, why he did it, and told him to knock it off. He in turn accused me of “being in on it” and claimed that I had definitely rolled a low charisma score and failed yet another savings throw — a callback to his patented leadership style of Management by Dungeon Mastering, or MbDM — so I guess his spirits are up. While I try to convince Obie’s owners to allow him to continue working until such time charges are actually brought against him, have a look at this very slim new comic week with…

Oh! Before I forget…the Kickstarter for RISE: Comics Against Bullying (which includes my story “Sunny Side”) has only nine days left, and is just over 53% funded. We need your help! Please have a look and show your support by pledging whatever you can to help raise awareness of this terrible problem and potentially help some kids going through a particularly rough time in their lives. I will post my own junior high school experience with bullying here on Donist World in the next day or two, which ain’t pretty, but I figure if someone else can connect with what I went through and see that they are not alone, then I’m happy to open up about this deeply personal time in my life. With that…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Lazarus #12
Lazarus #12 - Written by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Michael Lark with Tyler Boss, colored by Santi Arcas, lettered by Jodi Wynne, published by Image Comics. With only one book in my pull this week, I was kind of hoping for Lazarus to give me some sort of crazy revelation, or a massive betrayal within families, or maybe a ruthless battle of some magnitude to get my heart pumping and my head filled with worrisome concerns about the state of the real world. But that is not the case this month. That’s fine. Yes, this issue slows the pace from the last, and we are afforded some time to catch our breathe, but rest assured, denizens, it ain’t going to last…and the waiting is a different kind of tension all together.

After mounting an unsuccessful coup against his own family, Jonah Carlyle has finally surfaced, but he is being held for ransom by The Family Hock, enemies of the Family Carlyle. To hear the demands, the sixteen families have gathered at Triton One, a luxury resort that is considered neutral territory. Formality is everything, as the opening ball begins and the heads of the families form alliances and plot. Meanwhile, the Lazari have some free time.

Like I mentioned above: no pulse-pounding action, no terrifyingly realistic situations, no one being shish kabobbed by a Lazarus, and no down-to-the-wire decisions. Yet, even without those things, this issue is a triumph. Be warned, however, if you have not been reading Lazarus (shame on you, btw), then this is not where you can safely jump in. You need to start at the beginning so you can see Forever Carlyle as she moves through this world. Rucka and Lark have given this amazing character two distinct personalities: the all-business, I-will-annihilate-all-who-oppose-my-family Forever; and the relaxed, innocent, at times child-like Forever, who smiles and enjoys spending time with some of her fellow Lazari. The same can be said of Sonja, Joacquim, and new character Xolani.

Last issue we were introduced to Sonja as an emotionless, cold-blooded killing machine ready to take on all of the family Carlyle; she was dang scary. Now, we see her other personality in the training room scene with Forever and Xolani. She is cheerful, polite to a fault, but once Xolani joins them, she is blushing, awkward, shy, and unsure of how to deal with the flirtatious Lazarus of her family’s mortal enemies. Rucka’s dialogue reinforces this shared fondness between these three, but it is Lark’s talent at depicting the drama of the scene through subtle body language shifts, the tilt of the head, a smile, the expressiveness in the characters eyes that make this scene so amazing. It’s the same skill he used last issue with Sonja, only in that instance the character acting was brilliantly used to depict the menace that Sonja posed; it is both shocking and refreshing to see Sonja show her vulnerable side, her true side. I also love that the Lazari acknowledge that their family members fear them, which leads me to wonder what will happen if they ever break their conditioning and begin working together. Hmmm...a Lazarus workforce unionized?

The training room sequence is only five pages long, but I also enjoyed the ballroom dance scene, both of which showcase Lark’s choreography skills. The rest of the book consists of the family leaders figuring out how to playout this meeting and the final scene with the aging Doctor Hock left me curious as to what was going on with him and his newfound mobility.

This issue might not be the most action-packed issue to date, but the lead into what is coming next on this awesome series makes me excited, anxious, hesitant even to see what happens next. As I mentioned above, you can’t just jump into this series, but you are in luck. You can easily pick up the first two trades (issues 1–10) and then issues 11 and 12, to be fully caught up on yet another one of Image Comics’s powerhouse titles. The next issue cannot come fast enough. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Thanos Imperative TPB
The Thanos Imperative TPB - Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, illustrated by Brad Walker and Miguel Sepulveda, inked by Andrew Hennesey, colored by Wil Quintana and Jay David Ramos and Rain Beredo, published by Marvel Comics. All righty then…we all know I’ve been on a Marvel cosmic kick for the past month or so, and how could any sane cosmic comic book lover who just watched The Guardians of the Galaxy movie not be clamoring for more of that stuff? Check out my recent looks at Avengers Versus Thanos (must own, must read on an annual basis) and Infinity (great story that proves good event books can happen!).

Drax the Destroyer finally fulfilled his role back in the Annihilation series by killing Thanos, but you just can’t keep a mad Titan down. Thanos is back and is nearly a mindless death machine, and the Guardians of the Galaxy want to know why. Joined by Nova and Quasar, who are hunting down Adam Magus (the twisted, evil persona of their former comrade Adam Warlock…yay, Adam Warlock) and a mysterious dark version of Quasar…things do not go well. Magus and Dark Quasar open a portal to another dimension, one of eternal life known as the Cancerverse, and the reason for the dreaded Thanos’s return becomes clear: only an emissary of Death can kill those who cannot be killed.

I’ve already gone into the nitty gritty of each issue back in the day, but I can say that Abnett and Lanning’s story flows even better in one sitting versus nearly a year for the individual issues. I loved seeing the bad guys’ leader, especially when he has to face Thanos, but the best part is seeing their roles reversed from those Jim Starlin tales I love so dang much. I will say that I am still irked by the fact that Magus went out like a sucka near the beginning of the book, as I felt he too could have played an awesome role in this story, but alas it was not meant to be. <sigh>

The art is heavy on the shadows and dark color tones, but when you are fighting things from a realm known as the ”Cancerverse,” you kinda have to lean toward the darker side of things with the visuals. It is thrilling to see this other world’s perverted versions of our heroes and how they are a mixture of the classic look and something out of an H.P. Lovecraft novel. The name Revengers is almost silly, but just go with it and you’ll be fine; just be glad they didn’t call them the Cthulvengers or somethin’. I also have to give props the Galactus Engine, which so weird it’s awesome. The only negative (aside from Warlock/Magus going out like a punk) is the final issue, the lead-in to The Annihilators, lost me a little bit as being a bit too dream-teamy and felt forced, but it was still entertaining.

At this rate I might have to ignore the Leaning Tower of Unread Comics and jump the dang-fine Infinity Gauntlet to the front of the line — and probably everything else that followed, too…even the yucky Infinity Crusade. As for this book, I like it a little more now than I did the first time through, and at roughly $16.00 for the eight issues contained within —the retail was originally $35 and dropped to $20 recently — you simply cannot go wrong with this cosmically mad storyline. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Hellblazer TPB Vol. 2
Hellblazer TPB Volumes 2 and 3 - Written by Jamie Delano; illustrated by David Lloyd, Richard Piers Rayner, Mark Buckingham, Bryan Talbot, Mike Hoffman, Alfredo Alcala, and Dean Motter; colored by Lovern Kindzierski and Dean Motter; lettered by Elitta Fell, Todd Klein, and Dean Motter; published by Vertigo Comics, an imprint of DC Comics. That there is a mighty impressive list of the talent involved on these two trades, but what do you expect when you are covering fourteen issues, an annual, and two prestige-format issues across two trades? I picked up the first three trades out of my remembered fondness for the beginning of the series and for something to hammer through during summer vacation. Nowhere in my mind did it register that the Constantine television show would be premiering in October on…well what do you know…Constantine airs tonight at 10 PM on NBC.

Constantine learns the true name of the demon tormenting him, as he revisits the horrors of the “Newcastle” incident that haunts his past. A ghostly woman with the ability to share the world’s horrors roams the countryside wrecking havoc. John joins a pagan group that happens to have psychic abilities of interest to a morally-bankrupt corporation.

With but three sentences to cover such thick books, I am definitely leaving much out, and if you are a fan of the character, or of the Alan Moore Swamp Thing (which is one of my all-time favorite comic series), or of slow-burn horror stories, then this is the book for you. You will need to start with the first volume though. The art on these volumes, primarily from Buckingham and Rayner is fantastic and something I recall fondly from when I was a wee Donist picking up the individual issues back in the ’80s. The Talbot art on the annual is freaking amazing and joins well with the weird story, which I totally loved. The colors on the regular series are predominantly flat, which is consistent with the style of the time, but this title works fine without over-rendering and is brought to life through Kindzierski’s color palette. Finally, of note is Lloyd’s gorgeous, painted art on “The Horrorist,” which showcases the artist’s mastery of storytelling, and helps elevate the lengthy, but decent story; it’s beautiful to behold.

Vertigo/DC really outdid themselves with these massive collections, of which nine have released thus far. The paper stock is the same as what was used on the original issues, and each book is priced at a retail price of $19.99, but you can get them for much cheaper at or if you act fast, you can hit up Comixology for the first eight volumes at the ridonkulously low price of $5.99 each through 10/28/2014! I picked up the digital volumes 4–6, which includes the beginning of the Garth Ennis run that I have never read…I can’t wait. As for volumes 2 and 3, they were a mixed bag of stories that ranged from good to great. I loved the first half of volume two, especially the “Newcastle” issue and the stuff with Nergal, but The Horrorist chapters didn’t really do it for me, and the third volume dragged a little, but on a whole these collections come RECOMMENDED with the first half of volume 2 being HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Slow New Comics Week - One comic in my pull is disappointing, especially when I know I’m going to get bombarded in the next week or two.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 10/17/2014

(Sung to the tune of Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”)

So you’re wonderin’ ’bout which books you gotta read tonight
Your LCS has tons of stuff, but your wallet hurts, amiright?
Now, I won’t be glib, this here Donist don’t fib, Deadly Class is out of sight.
Though the truth I must tell ya, Trees sure rocks
but I guess I gotta say

Supreme: Blue Rose…I don’t know
Just like…what the heck’s goin’ on?
Just like…the art’s gorgeous, I’d never steer you wrong
Supreme: Blue Rose’s still strong, yeah it is

Death of the
Red Cosmonaut
Welcome back to Donist World! I’m sort of joined as ever by CFO Obie (my friends’s Boston terrier) and by marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / cool weather aficionado Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). The reason I say “sort of” for Obie is that he is “working remotely” from his home and is not at the Donist World corporate office (my mom’s basement). You see, Obie is in lockdown and being punished by his owners for trashing yet another one of the toddler’s toys (see the image of the mangled figure). Now, Obie, of course, claims he is innocent and that the kid chewed up his own toy, but to be honest, I’ve never seen a two-year-old with incisors that can do that level of damage. He further says he is not suffering from jealousy or any of the, as he puts it, “weaker emotions,” and that he was indeed framed. <sigh> Although, on our live chat this morning, I did get him to state that if he ever did chew up a red spaceman toy, it would be because it symbolized a communist cosmonaut, which goes against him being a blue-blooded American businessman. Yeah, I ain’t buying it either. Regardless, Obie’s actions have consequences, and if his extracurricular destructive activities further degrade his job performance, then I might have to consider my options…Speaking of which, do any of you denizens know of any high-level executives who will work for kibble? Donist World also offers a robust benefit package including leftover scrambled egg bits, tummy rubs, and the occasional game of fetch. Just putting my feelers out there. Anyhow, here comes Tulip with my morning coffee, so have a look at this week’s…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Deadly Class #8
Deadly Class #8 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, colored by Lee Loughridge, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. *WARNING, this is not a book for kids, mature readers only, denizens.* Rick Remender has been on a creator-owned roll for a while now. With his fantastic comics Black Science and Low demanding sci-fi lover’s attention, Deadly Class is the most grounded in “reality” of his three titles and is one I have greatly enjoyed, but…I’m predominantly a sci-fi / horror / fantasy guy and Low is his book that grabs me the most. This issue, however, dang…just dang! It’s a rough read, but so very, very good.

Chester Wilson. That’s the name of the psychopath linked to Marcus’s past, the very same psychopath who took Chico’s dead body. Knowing his past cannot be kept secret any longer, Marcus reveals the darkest corner of his past to someone other than his girlfriend.

I loved the first issue of this series, and really liked everything that came after, but this issue completely grabbed me. Deadly Class #8 is messed up, denizens…utterly messed up, and I was transfixed from page two through to the end. Remender finally lets us into Marcus’s past, and it is abhorrently not pretty. We also gain the name of the psychopath, Chester Wilson, and learn what exactly happened to his face, and how Marcus was at the center of it all. Everything from the orphanage / sweatshop, to the treatment of the children by the guards (armed with bats and guns no less), to the treatment of the children by the other children, to the hypocrisy of this being a religious institution, to the portrait of Ronald Reagan set near Jesus and presiding over all the abused kids is heartbreaking and a shade terrifying. In a way it makes sense that Marcus decides to take the route he does, which further disturbs me to no end. This issue fills the gap of what happened at the orphanage, as we see the extensive abuse and humiliation Marcus endured at the hands of those in charge, as well as a hint of the torment Chester routinely unleashed upon him; all in all, nine years of daily suffering. The entire flashback of this issue offers critical insight into Marcus’s character, and is one that left me startled, angry, horrified, happy that Marcus found a way out, and then horrified again that I was cheering the protagonist’s solution, the only way out he could find.

The art on this book is my favorite to date. Not because of Craig’s gorgeous line work, or Loughridge’s limited-rendering-yet-powerfully-presented colors, but because of the combined impact of both. This issue is mostly flashback, with the first three and final two pages being set in a drab, desaturated cool color scheme that conveys the dark mood of the lead character. Every page of the flashback is handled in monochromatic yellows, or greens, or oranges, with the exception of two panels that receive a striking complementary color scheme to shock the reader. Loughridge brilliantly uses the value change of what is essentially one color to draw the eye where it is most needed, while simultaneously enveloping the reader in the mood of the scene. To add to this effect, all of Craig’s linework — some of his best to date — is knocked out and replaced with a darkest value of the dominant color possible; the only black to be found in the flashback is on the balloons, tails, and text. Although what we see is actually deeply disturbing, the art presented is utterly gorgeous.

Just to be clear, I had no intention of dropping Deadly Class from my pull. I merely liked Remender’s other two creator-owned books more, but with the beautifully presented and emotionally charged nature of this month’s offering, it is safe to say I am liking this title every bit as much as Low and Black Science. You can easily catch up with the first trade (issues 1–6 at $9.99 retail!) and the two issues that follow. Again, this is definitely on the “For Mature Readers” spectrum, but if you are a “Mature Reader” and you want to read a comic about a messed up teen (and rightfully so) who is invited to join a school for assassins, then what are you waiting for? This book is for you. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Trees #6
Trees #6 - Written by Warren Ellis, art by Jason Howard, lettered by Fonografiks, published by Image Comics. Eligia’s distaste for Tito grows once she learns how he makes ends meet. Far, far away, in the artists’ world of Shu, Chenglei is reeling from the previous night spent with the trans woman, Zhen, as the military continues its surveillance. The mysterious flowers continue to take root, only in the oddest of places.

Not much happens in this issue regarding the Trees, and what we do see is relegated to but a page or two. Instead, Ellis delves into the characters of Eligia, and Chenglei. I’m uncertain as to what Eligia has planned, but the Chenglei side of the story is so heartfelt, so touching, that I cannot help but feel he is doomed as evidenced by the military presence and the appearance of the drone flying through Shu. The story is building to…something…but I don’t know if it is human against human death and destruction, or if the Trees are actually going to wake up; I have a feeling it will be the former.

Howard’s art is all about the character acting, drama, and mood in this issue and it is one of his strongest to date. This can be seen in the panel with the three military men filming Shu, and the sheer malevolence of the one’s face, or on Eligia’s expressions that tell you what she thinks of Tito’s source of revenue. As fantastic as Howard is at drama, I do, however, love the full-page splash of the little vehicle covered in black flowers out on the ice near the Trees. This is another beautiful issue.

We are no closer to seeing the Trees do anything than we were in the first issue, but that’s okay. This comic isn’t about the “alien invasion,” but rather about humanity and the struggles of some to find acceptance, and for others to take every damn thing they can from whoever they wish. If you want superheroes punching each other in the face, or aliens tearing each other apart, then this is not the book for you. If you want a smartly written look at the state of the world after alien life arrives, and how that really does not change humanity’s actions all that much, then you should definitely check this one out. RECOMMENDED!

Supreme: Blue Rose #4
Supreme: Blue Rose #4 - Written by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Tula Lotay, lettered by Richard Starkings, designed by John Roshell, published by Image Comics. Diana Dane meets Doc Rocket, an Albert Einstein looking chap with pink paint covering his face and spacesuit, and who has a taste for rye whiskey (don’t we all, denizens?). He turns out to be a speedster who runs off to the weird bar where the super-hot redhead with cleavage molecules talks to him about other dimensions and times and Supremes happening, but not necessarily needed…and wait, what?!…and pizza…beer…puppies…puppies…puppies…herp derp?

Ugh…okay, sorry about that. I was attempting to read Supreme: Blue Rose and made it right to the end and the next thing I know I wake up on the floor, two hours later, with a Taco Bell Nacho Supreme tray resting on my chest. I think that is my id / ego / superego telling me that synthetic-cheese-covered stale chips is the extent of anything “Supreme” I am capable of understanding. Criminy. Okay, I’m mostly kidding, I was able to actually follow more of this issue than last month’s, but dang if I did not have to dump some ginko bilboa into my coffee to get to even that level of comprehension. Basically, to quote Doc Rocket as he holds a lowball of rye, “I don’t understand. I suspect I’m going to need this.” Indeed, Doc Rocket…indeed.

Tula Lotay’s art is beyond gorgeous in this issue. I LOVED the scenes of Doc Rocket running at supersonic speed through the world and the bending of light as he travels; it simply must be seen to be appreciated. Then we get more of the lovely Zayla (molecule cleavage lady), who is very easy to look at, even when she is holding up a writhing eyeball — don’t ask. Lotay’s art alone is enough to warrant checking out this title.

So, yes. Only a step or two closer to understanding what the heck is going on in this book, and so very many, many more steps to enlightenment ahead of me. I’m sticking around, though. I want to understand what is going on, and I definitely want to see more of Lotay’s work. This is a complex series, denizens, but Supreme: Blue Rose is still worth checking out. RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Anita Sarkeesian Cancels Speaking Engagement In Utah — Are you kidding? Sarkeesian just had to cancel her speaking engagement in Utah after a very specific death threat was issued to both her and any who would have attended the event. Why? All because Sarkeesian would like to see better depictions of women in video games and she is brave enough to say as much.

Death threats for a critic? How absolutely insane is that? Want to know what is equally insane? Utah has conceal-carry laws in effect that would prevent  any type of security screening for weapons to protect attendees. So, a critic can’t speak their mind because they are a woman? Not only that, a nutjob (like the one at UCSB who killed people all but three miles away from my house) would be allowed to walk into an event, fully armed, with the intent to kill, while having their “right” to conceal-carry maintained? This is so very wrong on so many levels.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 10/10/2014

(Sung to the tune of Tony Toni Toné’s “If I Had No Loot”)

If the book rocks, I want you to read it
and read it good
ah-ah, ah-ah-yeah, ah-ah-hah

Groovin’ on Sex Crims, a comic I adore
A title not to be shorted by my local store
But also awaits cool Wytches and Black Science
Chills and thrills and not a fleeting dalliance

And so you can call on this Donist for books to add to your list
They’re there, y’see, a kick in the pants to boot,
You gotta read ’em
I’m just glad to tell some truth
That Infinity’s a deal
I just want to do what’s right by you

Another night of little sleep (see “Slice Into the Woods”), so let’s get right to it. I’m Donist and I’m joined as ever by CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / neighbor disturbance specialist Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Even though I am massively sleep deprived, I see no reason why I should not belatedly cut into this cake that Obie prepared for my 19th 26th birthday. I know he and Tulip are excited about it, because they are circling me like a couple of starved hyaenas eager for a piece. Even though it says “Happy Berfday Donut!” I’m pretty sure he meant “birthday” and “Donist” — he is a dog after all — let’s give him a pass. So it…gawd…ugh…this cake is abysmal. I should have remembered that dogs cannot eat chocolate and instead of cake, Obie ground up his duck-flavored kibble and baked it into a bread like substance…that he then covered in vanilla frosting. Man, while I tell myself it’s the thought that counts and go to gargle some mouthwash for the next couple of hours, have a look at the below announcement, and all the groovy books in this week’s…

Friday Slice of Heaven

The image in the top left corner
is from my story “Sunny Side”
My Story “Sunny Side” To Appear In Rise: Comics Against Bullying - I will get into it a bit more in a separate post in the next couple of days, but my story “Sunny Side” will appear in an issue of the anthology Rise: Comics Against Bullying which has just seen a Kickstarter pop up, and it is currently at 25% of goal with 23 days to go! Bullying is a terrible problem of which I am unfortunately all too familiar with (I got off lucky compared to many kids, though), and is something that needs to be better addressed and understood by kids, parents, teachers, and administrators alike. The books will be distributed by GLAAD, Stand For the Silent, and Prism Comics, and contains stories and art by new creators like me and “Sunny Side” artist Brian Gilman, and by superpros such as Howard Chaykin, Marc Guggenheim, Chris Roberson, and many others. I am thrilled to be contributing my story to a worthy cause, and hope you can make a pledge, no matter what size, to help bring this incredible project to life. Please have a look at the Kickstarter page to see what it is all about!

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Sex Criminals #8
Sex Criminals #8 - Written by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Chip Zdarsky, color flats by Becka Kinzie, edited by Thomas K, produced by Drew Gill, published by Image Comics. *FYI…this title is not for the kiddies. Mature readers only* I can’t begin to tell you how brimping happy I am when this title appears in my pull, denizens. The thing is, I watch my pull like a brimping hawk and barring any publisher / distributor last-minute changes / brimp-ups, I look ahead to know what’s coming for the next couple of weeks. I knew Sex Criminals was set to drop on Wednesday. Still…even though I know when the book is due, I get all giddy each time I flip through my potential purchases and find it there. Imagine my surprise when this issue wasn’t in my brimping pull this week. I had two of the three expected books, and four other things my LCS slipped in there that I didn’t want, but the key book — the hot brimper for which I went all the way downtown to buy — was not there. I was brimping brimped! I’m not sure what happened, but when I expressed my outrage (aka…openly sobbing at the cash register in front of the Magic the Gathering card purchasers and that one guy who carries around his copy of the Overstreet Price Guide to verify the LCS prices for deals / price gouging), the owner magically produced a copy of the book. He basically took it from someone else’s pull, which is fairly brimped up…amirite? But you know what? No one brimps the Donist! This goes doubly so when it comes to the brimping fantastic Sex Criminals comic. The Donist is a 24-year-long customer who was at the LCS the day the store opened. The Donist speaks in the third person and has no brimping problem making anyone uncomfortable by turning on the brimping waterworks. All that said, did I like it? You bet your bottom dollar I did. It was brimptastic!

Taking a bit of a relationship break, Suzie meets the world’s sexiest and most-put-together gynecologist, Robert Rainbow, as John has an informative meeting at the food court. Three-wheelin’ (or is it four-wheelin’?) is awkward. Suzie receives a devastating blow.

C’mon, the vagueness of the above synopsis has to spike your curiosity about this book somewhat…right? Anyways, Fraction and Zdarsky continue to deliver one heck of a beautiful and fun book. The dialogue expertly defines each individual character, oftentimes traversing into the uncomfortable in how true, how brutally honest some moments might be. Yet, even when such intense topics as depression, medication, possible sexual incompatibility, or love arise you don’t find yourself becoming sad or down, because you are either laughing the next moment at Fraction’s words, or Zdarsky’s art reveals something completely ridiculous. The prime example from this issue is when Robert Rainbow informs Suzie in wonderful detail about the different methods of birth control (including some statistics and science, denizens). But Zdarsky creates some powerful imagery in both Suzie’s actual facial expressions, and through Suzie’s imagining Robert stripping as he delivers the info; the awesome analogous color scheme of the pictograph running in the background is simply gorgeous…and a crackup to boot. The amazing thing about this issue, alongside the humor, is how in a limited space the creators handle a highly informative look at both birth control and depression; again it is truthful, it is honest. To further add to the wonderful character acting, the differently colored thought captions pertaining to each character is a nice touch that deepens my love of this book. On a side note, I think I need a couple “Running is Bullshit” shirts for when I’m out there huffing and puffing and staving off the blahs myself — love it.

All of the The Smurfs-type talking in the intro above, and the idea that the creators should create a cartoon show called The Brimps (Fraction and Zdarsky, contact Obie for the details on The Brimps! cartoon) aside, Sex Criminals continues to be one of my top three comics hitting the shelves. I absolutely love this series and I will be rereading the first trade ahead of the mountains of other reading material I have teetering menacingly nearby; I simply NEED to experience everything all over again. If you have not read this book, and you are mature enough to handle it, then you can’t go wrong with TIME Magazine’s #1 graphic novel of 2013. The one caveat I have had to buying this book in trade form has been the omission of the hilarious / earnest / informative letters column “Letter Daddies,” but thankfully that problem has been solved with the December hardcover release of Just the Tips that I now have to order. I love this brimping funny book, and I kind of suspect you will, too. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Wytches #1
Wytches #1 - Written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Jock, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Clem Robins, edited by David Brothers, published by Image Comics. Witches used to be green-skinned hags with large noses, cackling, stirring up a cauldron of potions, and generally getting up to mischief. Now, witches are cute, or sexy, or fun-loving. Wytches are neither of those things, yet so much more. The Cray family learned this, and now it looks like the Rooks family is set discover the same thing, as a horrifying event from young Sailor Rooks’s past comes back to haunt her.

Oh my goodness, denizens, I dug this first issue. Snyder’s roots lie deep in the horror genre, and he reminds us of this within the first four pages. Having spent the first ten years of my life in Akron, OH, and knowing full well the thrills and scares residing within the woods, Snyder immediately taps into the strongest, creepiest elements country living has to offer, and then begins the story of the Rooks family. We quickly meet Sailor and her illustrator father, followed by Sailor’s mother, who is confined to a wheelchair for reasons as yet unrevealed. Through cleverly concealed exposition and natural dialogue we learn how this family works and some traumatic event(s) had happened in the past. Snyder then reveals exactly what happened to Sailor back in their old hometown, and the events are chilling and in turn open up many more questions. Things only get crazier from there.

I’m used to seeing Jock’s art on the superhero titles or the crime titles, but this is the first I’ve seen of his horror work. If the cold shiver coursing through my body at the glimpse of the tree, the woman, the look on the boy’s face, the man in the woods, the bully in the woods, the deer, another woman in the tree, the teeth…basically every dang thing in this issue is unnerving; I love it. The character acting is fantastic as we see Sailor’s father, Reg, being a goofball for his daughter’s benefit one moment, and then once she leaves on the bus a silent panel shows us exactly how this man feels.

Adding to the mood of every moment of this book are Hollingsworth’s dark colors and background textures, with the key scenes of Sailor and her bully meeting in the woods. This is also true of the creepy first four pages. With this issue of Wytches we get an awesome bonus for process junkies like myself, in that the creators provide the script for the fourth page, then the inked art for that page, and finally the colors-only page four. Both the inked page and the colored page are gorgeous in their gruesomeness, especially when you see the impact both art forms add separately, and more so on the finished page. I would actually love to see a black and white version of the rest of this book, and one that is colors only (no line art), but whatchagonnado?

Aside from being impeccably-written, beautifully illustrated and colored, and scary-as-all-get-out, the first issue of Wytches clocks in at 28 pages and a $2.99 price point that the Big Two could learn a thing or two from. The funny thing is that I flew through this book, and when I came to the end, I wished I had another 28 pages to curl up with, while I shivered under the covers as I read with my flashlight. This is creepy stuff, denizens, and if you like that sort of thing, like I do, then you simply must pick this up…if you can find a copy. Wytches #1 is a fantastic start and comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Black Science #9
Black Science #9 - Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Matteo Scalera, painted by Dean White, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics. As we catch a glimpse of Rebecca’s tragic past, Grant McCay’s (possibly-not-long) surviving children, Nate and Pia, are on the run alone on a deadly world. Sword-wielding goblins, sentient and well-spoken centipede creatures bearing the “onion” coat of arms, and the return — sort of — of a lost colleague await.

Without even reaching page two, I have to say I would PROUDLY hang both the cover and page one on any wall in my home if the creators (hint-hint) decided to release them as posters. Anyhow, this issue slows things down a bit — if you can call trolls and giant bugs slowing things down — but is still highly entertaining, if not a tad confusing. I believe this is by design, and things will become as clear as the creators wish to make them come the next couple of issues.

Black Science continues to be a fantastic series, and although this issue did not grab me as much as the previous issues, that does not mean it was in any way bad. Quite the opposite actually, and I cannot wait to see what happens next on this tremendous series. If you have not been reading yet another of Image Comics’s amazing success stories by these amazing creators, you can catch up with the first trade ($9.99 retail for six issues!) and then just pick up issues 7–9, which I strongly encourage you to do. Treat yo’ self! RECOMMENDED!

Infinity TPB
Infinity TPB - Written by Jonathan Hickman with Nick Spencer; illustrated by Mike Deodato, Stefano Caselli, Marco Rudy, Marco Checchetto, Jim Cheung, Jerome Opeña, Dustin Weaver, Leinil Francis Yu, Mark Morales, Guillermo Ortego, Dave Meikis; colored and lettered by too many exceptionally talented folks to list; published by Marvel Comics. As half of the Avengers head off to distant galaxies to combat the threat of the deadly “Builders,” the remaining Earth-stuck members find themselves fighting back the threat of Thanos the Mad Titan’s murderous “Black Order.” Interstellar alliances are built and shattered in this taut thriller of political intrigue and secrets coming to light.

Remember last week when I was freaking out (in the best of ways) about Avengers Versus Thanos TPB beast of a book? Well, coming off the high of that mixed with a frustrating bout of insomnia — no more late-night coffee yogurt with chocolate chips for me, boy howdy — I hammered through the monstrous Infinity TPB over the course of four days. This tome is stuffed to the gills with Marvel cosmic superhero goodness with the following issues contained within: Infinity 1–6, New Avengers 7–12, and Avengers 14–23. At a $49.99 price point, it is a hefty chunk of cash, but if you click on the cover / title above, you will save roughly $15, which is definitely the way to go.

As for the book itself, I loved it, but I will say that there are a bunch of areas that left me a tad bewildered and struggling to catch up as a result of having not read the Avengers 1–13 and New Avengers 1–6.  I had no idea of who Black Swan, or Smasher (the woman version), or Eden, or Abyss, or Nightmask, or Ex Nihilo are, or what the deal is with the tons of other Ex Nihili (Ex Nihilii, Ex Sleepy, Ex Grumpy, Ex Bashful, Ex Donaldo Trumpo…just kidding on the last four). Instead or fretting about it, I just allowed the story to take me away, and I ended up being fine, although with a marked interest in reading the first two Avengers trades, and the first New Avengers trade as well.

As for the flow of the story, or rather the order in which the individual issues are presented, I could not begin to tell you as there are multiple chapter breaks. Each utilizes Hickman’s graphic design sensibilities with a predominant use of white space, but no indication of issue covers or numbers to clarify what book you are actually reading. This is awesome, in that reading this book gives you the feeling of reading a standalone graphic novel as opposed to a mere compilation of comic book issues that had been written for the trade; not an easy thing to do. This is further aided by the seamless flow of the myriad of artists showcased within, whose styles are indeed different and recognizable, yet not once was I removed from the story by jarring art shifts.

As for the story itself, it is what you can expect from Hickman; brilliantly-plotted, massive, and unapologetically complex, but ultimately rewarding. I loved seeing the space team of Avengers joining up with the various alien races, many of whom were previously enemies, in an effort to stop the very real threat posed by the grotesque Builders. I equally enjoyed the more earthbound story dealing with Thanos, and although my favorite Mad Titan really only appears in about a third of this book, his “Black Order” fanatics were cool enough to keep me enthralled. I will also admit to a bit confusion by much of the stuff going on with Black Bolt and the Inhumans, but I suppose reading the trades mentioned above will clarify things. Then there is the “Infinity: Prelude” stuff, with a character called Superia who works with A.I.M. and sends some robotic creature thing in between two dead universes, which never gets another mention (at least I don’t think so). All my enjoyment of this book aside, I’m left wondering how you can have an “Infinity” book with out my main man, Adam Warlock, but I’m certain Marvel has plans for him in the near future. Time will tell.

So, yes, I enjoyed reading this book quite a bit. If you are a fan of the Marvel cosmic side of things, then this is a must-own book, but be warned, if you love the Guardians of the Galaxy movie and its sharp wit and humor, don’t expect to be laughing at any point through Infinity — it just ain’t that kind of book. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

Neighbors - One of my goals in life is to not have neighbors either above or below, or connected on either side, or less than twenty feet across from us. Now, I don’t want to be unneighborly or anything, but as I mentioned in the Wytches review above, I grew up in the country with loads of space. You know, space enough to where the college girls on the adjoining right of our unit can’t wake us up as they drunkenly(?) pound on their sliding glass door (bad idea) for over an hour beginning at 12:15 AM. Yes, Santa Barbara is a college town, but our complex is off-the-beaten path and is relatively quiet…even the infrequent sketchy people coming off the railroad tracks and who stumble across our area keep to themselves. But these dang girls…

After angrily throwing on some clothes, stomping downstairs, flipping on the outdoor light, and heading out to see what the problem was, I peer over the low fence to see one girl, clearly out of it (alcohol? drugs? there was a case of beer I could see inside her unit) smacking the bejesus out of the glass door to get someone’s attention to let her in.

I say, “What’s going on?” as I wonder why none of the other neighbors have called the cops on her.

She mumbles in a near whisper, “Sorry, sir,” not even looking in my direction.

“Do you need me to call someone?” I say, irritated.

“No, sir,” she mutters again, still refusing to look at me.

At first I thought there was only one of them out there, causing this calamity, but then a second girl materializes from the shadows — had she been sleeping out there? — says something to the first girl, and they both turn to fade away, allowing the darkness of the night to claim them.

Unsure of what to do, I stood out there as moths descended upon me, but the girls stayed hidden, so I went back inside. We heard them rap on the glass a couple more times, but I guess their passed out friend finally woke up enough to let their creepy, messed-up carcasses back inside.

No sleep for us after that. Ugh. Morons. Hey…she called me “sir”…twice! As if I was a police officer or an old man or something. Ugh. Morons.