Friday, February 5, 2016

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice into the Woods 2/5/2016

Friday Slice of Heaven

This week: Paper Girls and Universe!

Welcome back, Donist World Denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie* (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / It’s Saul Good consultant Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). The intro’s gonna be a tad short (again) as it has been a roller coaster of a week (again), and we don’t know if we’re coming or going. So as my puppy executive team and I take a deep breath, center ourselves, and prepare for some more nuttiness, allow us to suggest ordering up some tasty tacos and a nice ginger brew, put on some ’80s retro synth music, and most of all read some great comics. Take care. Thank you for reading!

*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magics mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Paper Girls #5
Paper Girls #5 - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, colored by Matt Wilson, lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, published by Image Comics. The conclusion to the first arc is here, but is it the conclusion of Erin, Mac, Tiffany, and K.J.’s story — and possibly their lives — or just the beginning?

It’s 6:30 a.m., the sun is rising, I got Mitch Murder’s “Interceptor” album playing (’80s retro synthpop awesomeness!), and a sense of calm has pervaded my being; the paper girls have long since delivered their bounty to all homes current on their newspaper subscription payments. I’m also kind of stoked — jazzed even — after reading yet another issue of the phenomenal Paper Girls series.

As I’ve said before, Paper Girls is the story of four young girls in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio in 1988, in the early morning hours after Halloween. Each girl heads out to deliver the paper only to find the world fallen to chaos with butt-ugly weirdos, monsters, and vanishing people; it is here that they meet each other. Thanks to the immense talent of Vaughan and Chiang, it is at this first meeting where we fall in love with the characters, the setting, and the eerie situation in which they find themselves; this is roughly five or six pages into the first issue, and things only get better from there. Each issue is riddled with new and old questions as the reader only receives small bits of knowledge beyond what the girls know. We learn alongside Erin, Mac, Tiffany, and K.J. as they figure things out, and although we do get some answers, we are left with many dangling questions by the end of the first arc. This is fine because the issue does its job perfectly: it makes darn sure we’ll be back to see what happens next…in June (that long?!?).


Four months is going to be a painfully long wait, especially after the crazy cliffhanger the creators dropped in our laps, but great comics transcend time, and this Donist will gladly wait to continue getting stories and art of this caliber. And what great art it is. Chiang completely outdoes his already heavenly work with not just his beautiful storytelling,  character acting, and character design, but with the futuristic backgrounds and technology that are so bizarre you can’t help but linger on the page. Left at the black and white stage of the process, this comic series would still be great, but Wilson’s colors bring it all to an otherworldly level of life. I have cheered Wilson’s use of color knockouts on the lines of characters’ faces to soften their expressions, and I’m still nutty over the analogous color palette of blues, purples, and pinks that so throughly set the mood of this strange, altered world. It has to be seen to be believed.

You need to be reading this book. It’s Vaughan. It’s Chiang. It’s Wilson. It’s really good. Sure you won’t be getting all of the answers to the myriad questions raised over the course of the five issues, but this isn’t a done-in-one story, Denizens. Nope. If you are looking for easy reading and easy answers, then gag me with a spoon, you can find that kind of stuff easy enough. No, this is a rad story that’s set to run for a good while. It’s best that you hop on your bike and book on over to the newsstand (your local comic shop) and get to reading. Be sure to grab a cola ICEE on the way home, throw on some “Devil Inside” by INXS, and sit back and enjoy the Paper Girls ride…just be sure to lay off the Arkanoid a bit. The first trade is available around the end of March, but I’m sure you can scare up the floppies with little trouble. If you don’t give this awesome comic a chance…well…barf me out. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Universe! #4
Universe! - Everythinged by Albert Monteys, published by Panel Syndicate. “Join the New World! Join the Light! Join the Light! Join the Light!”

I absolutely LOVE this humorous, cynical, serious, rich sci-fi series from Monteys. In case you are not familiar with Panel Syndicate, it was created by Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin as a digital-only experiment where the creators would post their comic books on a semi-monthly basis, and charge a “whatever you want to pay, including nothing” fee for the right to download a pdf, cbr, or cbz file in either English, Spanish, or Catalan. Doing this means only the creators (discounting hosting costs and Paypal fees) receive the money for their hard work. There are no publishers, retailers, or monopoly-based distributors in the mix, and the creators have full control and ownership over their creation(s). The Private Eye (mandatory and exciting reading by the way) was the first offering, Barrier was the third, with Albert Montey’s sci-fi tales being the second. He is thus far the only other creator showcasing his work through Panel Syndicate, and after having read four amazing issues of Universe! I can see why. Honestly, I was hooked midway through the first issue.

Universe! is solicited as stand alone tales, but now that we are four issues in, it is clear that the stories are interconnected in slight and potentially major ways. This issue focuses on a pair of aliens who have a bizarre, yet mutually beneficial parasitic relationship as they struggle to remain themselves amidst a drive to “join the Light.” It is in this fourth issue that Monteys has begun to reintroduce characters and events from previous issues that have given me that “Ahhhhh…it does all tie together” realization. But here’s the thing…even if the issue were truly little islands of self-contained stories and worlds, I would love this series, but now that facets are beginning to connect, I can safely describe this lovely work as brilliant.

Each installment requires a couple readings to fully understand what is happening and to see clues that have led up to the twist of the issue. In fact, a second read through is certain to uncover little sight gags or detailed intricacies tucked away in a background. At the very least, a quick reread will give you the opportunity to simply enjoy Montey’s beautiful character designs and the intricacy and attention spent on each and every panel. The gorgeous, vibrant colors of his cartooning are worth lingering over to fully appreciate what you are seeing.

Again, I love…no, I adore Universe! I guess if I had to narrow down a specific comic genre that I gravitate toward the most, it would have to be sci-fi, and this comic knocks it outta the park. Fantastic, seemingly simple stories that offer a complete and immersive escape from reality that will at times make you laugh (not so much with this issue, though), but will definitely leave you thinking about the story for long after you shut down the computer / tablet. It’s a beautiful book and although Universe! does not come out all that regularly, each issue is well worth the wait. Please please please give this one a try. Heck, you can check out all four issues for free, and by “free” I mean “legally for free.” Do it. Grab the first issue, read it, and you will see just how great this comic is. Then go back and throw Montey’s $3 or $4 (or more if you got the scratch) so we can continue sliding into the Universe! experience for many years to come. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice into the Woods

I Also Picked Up the Third Trade of Manifest Destiny But Have Not Had Time to Read it!!! - Manifest Destiny is freakin’ fantastic! I have been counting the months to when this third trade would be released and I got it on Wednesday, but have had no time to read it yet. This is upsetting. This is not right. This is something I MUST remedy over the weekend. The first two trades (the first of which is $9.99 retail) are both Donist World Darlings that come VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, and I have no doubt the third will impress as well. Argh…I can’t wait to pour a special beer and see what madness, mayhem, and monsters the creators have in store for poor Lewis and Clark. This series is beyond great. Check it out.

(Sung to the tune of Pet Shop Boy’s “West End Girls”)

Sometimes you need books with some cred
Not just the ushe, but somethin’ else instead
But don’t get mad, bang the table
Kick it right here and park in this stable
Check ’em out today, they won’t make you frown
They’re a blast to read, won’t let you down
Let’s run down, the best in town of these comics
They’re the best around

They’re the best around, shout to the world
Oh Universe! and Paper Girls


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