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…


  1. Congrats on "Kibbles and Bots" - looking forward to ordering my copy

  2. Congrats on "Kibbles and Bots" - looking forward to ordering my copy