Wednesday, November 30, 2011
DARK HORSE COMICS
WRITER: Christos Gage
ART: Rebekah Isaacs
COLORS: Dan Jackson
LETTERS: Jimmy Betancourt
COVER: Steve Morris (alternative cover by Jo Chen and 25th anniversary cover by Georges Jeanty, Dexter Vines, and JD Mettler)
32pp, Color, $2.99 U.S.
Angel & Faith is a new comic book series that ties into Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine, and both reportedly will run for 25 issues. Angel and Faith are characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the television series created by Joss Whedon. Angel (portrayed by actor David Boreanaz) is a vampire whose soul was restored as punishment for his crimes. Faith Lehane (played by Eliza Dishku) is a Slayer, a girl endowed with supernatural abilities who battles evil creatures like vampires and demons.
Angel & Faith #1 (“Live Through This” Part One) opens after the events of Twilight, which saw Angel kill the Watcher, Rupert Giles. Now, with access to the Watcher files, Angel is picking up Giles’ old cases with rebel Slayer, Faith, along for the fun. Meanwhile, two figures from Angel’s Twilight past, Nash and Pearl, are looking for some serious payback.
You don’t have to be familiar with the recent Buffy or Angel spin-off comic book series to enjoy or understand Angel & Faith, although knowing even a little about the two characters helps. First, I should say that I enjoyed reading this… for the most part. The art by Rebekah Isaacs is well-drawn and the storytelling is good. The writing by Christos Gage is technically good. Why technically?
Like most comic books published over the last decade (and longer for some publishers), Angel & Faith #1 is the first chapter in a serialized “graphic novel” or story arc that will eventually be published in a trade paperback edition. This first issue hops around from one subplot to the next, and there are multiple points of view or narrators. There is so much exposition and dialogue that one could see this as an illustrated short story or chapter of an illustrated novel more so than it is a comic book. Still, I must emphasis that this is a good comic book, but it’s like reading a part of a story instead of being a story.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
MAY110256 ABSOLUTE BATMAN HUSH HC NEW PTG $99.99
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OCT110001 PREVIEWS #279 DECEMBER 2011 PI
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SEP110766 SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #231 $2.99
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AUG111381 SCI FI & FANTASY MODELLER VOL 23 $27.99
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AUG111418 VIDEO WATCHDOG #165 (MR) $8.95
Monday, November 28, 2011
New Novel From VIZ Media’s Haikasoru Imprint Called The Greatest Japanese Science Fiction Novel Of All Time
VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), the largest distributor and licensor of anime and manga in North America, has announced the availability of the acclaimed novel, TEN BILLION DAYS AND ONE HUNDRED BILLION NIGHTS, by author Ryu Mitsuse. The hardcover book is published by the company’s Haikasoru imprint and carries an MSRP of $25.99 U.S. / $29.99 CAN. The eBook edition is also available on the Amazon Kindle, the Nook, and Apple’s iBooks Store for $9.99.
Haikasoru publishes some of the most compelling contemporary Japanese science fiction and fantasy stories for English-speaking audiences, and is the first imprint based in the U.S. dedicated to Japanese science fiction and fantasy in translation.
In TEN BILLION DAYS AND ONE HUNDRED BILLION NIGHTS, the philosopher Plato, in his exploration of the ruins of the fabled city of Atlantis, travels through time and space to determine the secret history of the human race, encountering Christ, the Buddha, and other iconic religious figures on the way. This celebrated novel of philosophy and the future has been named the greatest Japanese science fiction novel of all time.
“TEN BILLION DAYS AND ONE HUNDRED BILLION NIGHTS won the title of the greatest Japanese science fiction title ever written in a 2006 poll by Science Fiction magazine,” says Nick Mamatas, Haikasoru’s Editor. “The novel, which comes with a striking glow-in-the-dark dust jacket, delivers a cosmic adventure in the style of Arthur C. Clarke, covering the evolution of humanity, the lives of some of history’s most iconic religious figures, a future techno-dystopia, and the very death of the universe itself. Originally published in 1967, author Ryu Mitsuse revised the novel in later years and republished it in 1973. We’re truly honored to finally release this masterpiece to North American readers.”
Born in Tokyo in 1928, Ryu Mitsuse graduated from Tokyo University of Education with a degree in the sciences, after which he took up the study of philosophy. He debuted with “Sunny Sea 1979” in 1962, and his work—which often combines Eastern philosophy and hard science fiction—includes Tasogare ni kaeru (Returns in the Twilight) and Ushinawareta toshi no kiroku (The Chronicle of a Lost City). Mitsuse made SF history when his short story “The Sunset, 2217 A.D.” was translated into English for inclusion in Best Science Fiction for 1972. With artist Keiko Takemiya, he created the manga Andromeda Stories. Ryu Mitsuse died in 1999.
For more information on TEN BILLION DAYS AND ONE HUNDRED BILLION NIGHTS and the Haikasoru imprint, please visit http://www.haikasoru.com/.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
JUSTICE LEAGUE #3
WRITER: Geoff Johns
PENCILS: Jim Lee
INKS: Scott Williams
COLORS: Alex Sinclair
LETTERS: Patrick Brosseau
COVER: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair
VARIANT COVER: Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion with FCO Plascencia
40pp, Color, $3.99 U.S.
November is the third month of “The New 52,” DC Comics’ re-launch of its superhero comic book line. I want to offer thanksgiving for the re-launch’s most popular title, Justice League #3, written by Geoff Johns, penciled by Jim Lee, inked by Scott Williams, and colored by Alex Sinclair. Yes, I am still loving this new Justice League. What can I say? I am an easy mark for anything drawn by Jim Lee – even if the overall comic book is lousy, which this Justice League is not.
Maybe, it is mediocre for all I know, but I would still love it.
Justice League #3 (“Part Three”) brings Wonder Woman into the story. Feeling imprisoned at the Pentagon, she goes out into the public, which fears her. Her outing puts her right square in the middle of an invasion of otherworldly monsters that is plaguing the planet. Is she enough to help the overwhelmed team of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and Flash turn the tide? And a new hero enters the story.
Meanwhile, at S.T.A.R. Labs in Detroit, Silas Stone injects his son, Victor, with alien technology to save his life. Whatever else it may do to him, this technology is giving Victor a unique perspective of the invasion.
I’d normally be pissed off that this story is being stretched out over several issues (probably six), but Geoff Johns is packing so much action fudge into each page that I hardly notice that, so far, $11.97 plus tax gets me only half a story. Of course, Lee, Williams, and Sinclair continue to turn out pretty pictures that make excellent comics. For extras, there are two pages of Green Lantern sketches by Cully Hammer.
Friday, November 25, 2011
New Releases For BAKUMAN｡, BLUE EXORCIST, DEATH NOTE, D. GRAY MAN, NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN, VAMPIRE KNIGHT And More Among The Best-Loved Series That Are Sure To Top Holiday Wish Lists
VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), the largest distributor and licensor of anime and manga in North America, offers a wide variety of unique art books and manga (graphic) releases – several of them brand new series – that make ideal gift selections for even the most discriminating fan this holiday season.
From the debut of Natsume Ono’s TESORO and the brand new shojo series, DAWN OF ARCANA, by Rei Toma, to a box set of the recently concluded FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST, to the latest editions of popular ongoing titles including BAKUMAN｡, BLUE EXORCIST, DEATH NOTE BLACK EDITION, NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN, and the recently launched PSYREN, there will be plenty of aspiring young manga artists, spirit bending exorcists, royal romantic intrigue, charming stories of bonds between friends & family, tales of alchemy and more to complement everyone’s holiday season this year. And for the fan that has been especially good all year, don’t miss two gorgeously illustrated art books for D.GRAY-MAN and VAMPIRE KNIGHT. Each is filled with vivid character art, concept drawings, and insightful artist commentaries and also includes a full-color poster.
BAKUMAN｡,Vol. 8 · Rated “T” for Teens · MSRP: $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN· Available December 6th
Average student Moritaka Mashiro enjoys drawing for fun. When his classmate and aspiring writer Akito Takagi discovers his talent, he begs Moritaka to team up with him as a manga-creating duo. But what exactly does it take to make it in the manga-publishing world?
BLUE EXORCIST, Vol. 5 · Rated “T+” for Older Teens · MSRP: $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN · Available December 6th
Raised by Father Fujimoto, a famous exorcist, Rin Okumura never knew his real father. One day a fateful argument with Father Fujimoto forces Rin to face a terrible truth – the blood of the demon lord Satan runs in Rin’s veins! Rin swears to defeat Satan, but doing that means entering the mysterious True Cross Academy and becoming an exorcist himself. Can Rin fight demons and keep his infernal bloodline a secret? It won't be easy, especially when drawing his father’s sword releases the demonic power within him!
D.GRAY-MAN ILLUSTRATIONS · MSRP: $21.99 U.S. / $25.99 CAN · Available December 6th
Enter the fictional 19th-century world of D. GRAY MAN with lavish color artwork from its creator, Katsura Hoshino, showcasing her graphic novel and magazine covers and more! Additionally, this book features insightful Q&As between Hoshino and two manga creators who inspire her: Takeshi Obata, the artist behind HIKARU NO GO and BAKUMAN and the smash hit DEATH NOTE; and Osamu Akimoto, the creator of Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Kōen Mae Hashutsujo. Kochira has been serialized in the best-selling boy's manga magazine in the world, Weekly Shonen Jump, for 35 years and is the magazine’s longest-running manga series. Edition also includes an exclusive, double-sided, full-color poster.
DAWN of the Arcana, Vol. 1 · Rated “T” for Teens MSRP: $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN· Available December 6th
Princess Nakaba of Senan is forced to marry Prince Caesar of the enemy country Belquat, tantamount to becoming a hostage. While Caesar is pleasing to the eye, he is also selfish and possessive, telling Nakaba outright: “You are my property.” With only her attendant Loki at her side, Nakaba must find a way to cope with her hostile surroundings, her fake marriage...and a mysterious power!
DEATH NOTE BLACK EDITION, Vol. 6 · Rated “T+” for Older Teens · MSRP: $14.99 U.S. / $16.99 CAN· Available Now!
Don’t miss the final omnibus volume of the Black Edition series collecting DEATH NOTE Volumes 11 and 12. Light Yagami is an ace student with great prospects – and he’s bored out of his mind. But all that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by rogue Shinigami death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to track down the killer. With L hot on his heels, will Light lose sight of his noble goal…or his life?
FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST MANGA BOX SET · Rated “T” for Teens · MSRP: $219.99 U.S. / CAN · Available Now!
This best-selling action series is now available in a complete manga box set! Includes volumes 1-27, plus extras such as Fullmetal Alchemist Novel: The Ties That Bind and a full-color, two-sided poster. Over a 20% savings over buying the individual volumes!
In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armor. Equipped with mechanical ""auto-mail"" limbs, Edward becomes a state alchemist, seeking the one thing that can restore his and his brother's bodies...the legendary Philosopher's Stone.
NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN, Vol. 6 · Rated “T” for Teens · MSRP: $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN · Available December 6th
While the day belongs to humans, the night belongs to yokai, supernatural creatures that thrive on human fear. Caught between these worlds is Rikuo Nura. He's three-quarters human, but his grandfather is none other than Nurarihyon, the supreme commander of the Nura clan, a powerful yokai consortium. So, Rikuo is an ordinary teenager three quarters of the time, until his yokai blood awakens. Then Rikuo transforms into the future leader of the Nura clan, leading a hundred demons.
PSYREN, Vol. 1 · Rated “T+” for Older Teens · MSRP: $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN · Available Now!
Ageha Yoshina just got transported to a warped alternate dimension where you've got to fight your way back to our world – or die trying. "Save me!" Those were Sakurako Amamiya's last words to her friend Ageha Yoshina before she mysteriously went missing. Now Ageha's on a quest to find her. He's convinced that the mythical Psyren Secret Society has something to do with the recent rash of disappearances. And now he seems to be caught up as a player in their very deadly game...
TESORO · Rated “T” for Teens · MSRP: $12.99 U.S. / $14.99 CAN · Available November 15th
TESORO is a treasure of 14 charming stories about family, friends, couples and unexpected bonds. Written by Natsume Ono over ten years, this is the long-awaited collection of her early work, including numerous illustrations and previously unpublished stories!
THE ART OF VAMPIRE KNIGHT · MSRP: $24.99 U.S. / $28.99 CAN · Available Now!
Cross over into the mysterious and deadly world of VAMPIRE KNIGHT with the lush, full-color artwork of Matsuri Hino. This hard cover edition includes an extensive gallery with author comments, a how-to tutorial, and an exclusive poster.
Cross Academy is attended by two groups of students: the Day Class and the Night Class. At twilight, when the students of the Day Class return to their dorm, they cross paths with the Night Class on their way to school. Yuki Cross and Zero Kiryu are the Guardians of the school, protecting the Day Class from the Academy's dark secret: the Night Class is full of vampires!
X 3-In-1 DELUXE Collectors Edition, Vol. 1 · Rated “T+” for Older Teens · MSRP: $19.99 U.S. / $22.99 CAN · Available Now!
X, the epic series from CLAMP, is now available in this deluxe collector’s edition. The pages have been recomposed in the original right-to-left reading order and restored to the highest quality. Each volume contains three of the original graphic novels, along with gorgeous, full-color illustrations never before published outside Japan!
Kamui Shiro is a young man followed by mystery. Taken from Tokyo by his mother when only a child, Kamui left behind his dearest friends—the gentle Kotori and her brother Fuma—in the aftermath of a terrible incident that claimed their mother's life. Returning to Tokyo following his mother's death, Kamui is a changed young man – moody and distant to his old friends, yet determined to protect them from the dark forces that swirl around him. It turns out that he is the nexus of a great cataclysm to come, and the inheritor to a strange destiny that could decide the fate of the entire world.
For more information on VIZ Media manga titles, please visit: http://www.viz.com/.
About VIZ Media, LLC
Headquartered in San Francisco, California, VIZ Media distributes, markets and licenses the best anime and manga titles direct from Japan. Owned by three of Japan's largest manga and animation companies, Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc., and Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions, Co., Ltd., VIZ Media has the most extensive library of anime and manga for English speaking audiences in North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa. With its popular monthly manga anthology SHONEN JUMP magazine and blockbuster properties like Naruto, Bleach and InuYasha, VIZ Media offers cutting-edge action, romance and family friendly properties for anime, manga, science fiction and fantasy fans of all ages. VIZ Media properties are available as graphic novels, DVDs, animated television series, feature films, downloadable and streaming video and a variety of consumer products. Learn more about VIZ Media, anime and manga at http://www.viz.com/
DAWN OF THE ARCANA, VOL. 1
CARTOONIST: Rei Toma
TRANSLATION/ENGLISH ADAPTATION: Alexander O. Smith
LETTERS: Freeman Wong
ISBN: 978-1-4215-4104-4; paperback, Rated “T” for “Teen”
192pp, B&W, $9.99 U.S. $12.99 CAN
On a small island, there are two kingdoms: fertile and prosperous Belquat on the south side and poorer Senan on the north side. Princess Nakaba of Senan is forced into an arranged marriage with Prince Caesar of Belquat in order to bring peace between the two countries. Will it work? Will this even be a real marriage?
In Dawn of the Arcana, Vol. 1, Nakaba arrives at the royal palace in Belquat and discovers that everyone is entranced by her red hair, which is not found amongst royalty in either Belquat or Senan. Also, accompanying her is her attendant, Loki, who is an Ajin. A race of demi-humans that have the ears and tails of beasts, Ajin are slaves and soldiers in both countries. Loki’s presence causes more consternation, and Nakaba is soon a prisoner in the palace, and her new husband insists that she is his property.
THE LOWDOWN: Although she includes a few subplots, creator Rei Toma is as straightforward as she can be in telling Dawn of the Arcana. If he or she had the time, an adult reader could quickly read this entire graphic novel in one sitting. Except for some mild innuendo, Dawn of the Arcana is really a comic book for preteens and younger teen readers. It does not have the dramatic heft to really grab the attention or imagination, for that matter, of adult readers. It’s not bad at all, but it is for younger readers, after all.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Young readers looking for shojo fantasy will want to try Dawn of the Arcana.
Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"
EDITED: Wednesday, January13, 2021
The text is copyright © 2021 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTIST: Sara Pichelli
COLORS: Justin Ponsor
LETTERS: VC’s Cory Petit
COVER: Kaare Andrews
32pp, Color, $3.99 U.S.
In Ultimate Spider-Man #3 (AKA Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #3), Miles Morales has decided to ignore the powers he got after the strange spider bit him, but his best friend Ganke won’t let him. Even after a heroic act, Miles chooses normal because he is happy to let Spider-Man (who is still alive at this point) be Spider-Man. As Miles settles into his new school, Brooklyn Visions Academy, fate deals him a blow.
At this point in the new Ultimate Spider-Man series, writer Brian Michael Bendis is telling a story driven by characters not living or doing the superhero thing. This is a recognizable story: a teen boy wants to go to school and be normal. Circumstances exist, however, which means that regardless of how hard he tries or works, normalcy simply is not. This issue reminds me of the early issues of The Amazing Spider-Man which featured scenes of Peter Parker finding his way in the world in which his powers placed him, but wanting to be just one of the guys.
The clean drawing style of artist Sara Pichelli deftly visualizes Bendis’ character drama-style story in a way that makes it as exciting as a depiction of super powers. Perhaps, that is why the scenes in which Miles uses his powers seem so fresh, new, and exciting. It’s as if both Miles and the readers were seeing superhero supernatural for the first time.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
WRITERS: Mark Millar, Frankie Boyle, Nathan Edmondson, and Mark Sable
PENCILS: John Romita, Jr., Mike Dowling, Tonci Zonjic, Leinil Yu, and Paul Azaceta
INKS: Tom Palmer, Mike Dowling, Tonci Zonjic, Gerry Alanguilan, and Paul Azaceta
COLORS: Dean White, Jamie Grant and Jim Devlin, Sunny Gho, and Matt Wilson
LETTERS: Chris Eliopolous, Clayton Cowles, and Thomas Maur
98pp, Color, $6.99 U.S., £4.25 UK
In 1987, a young Mark Millar wrote to comic book artist (and sometime writer) Dave Gibbons, who was ascendant with the attention of the legendary comic book series, Watchmen. In his letter, Millar suggested that he and Gibbons collaborate, and Gibbons was gracious in his reply. Both letters are reprinted in CLiNT #12 as part of an interview of both men as they tease their upcoming project, “The Secret Service.”
CLiNT is a comics and comics culture magazine edited by superstar comic book writer Mark Millar and published by Titan Magazines. Every issue of CLiNT contains actual comics and interviews related to comics, as well as the occasional piece on movies and pop culture. It is a newsstand British comic or “boys comic” magazine in the tradition of 2000AD (among others) that serializes multiple comics. However, most of the comics in CLiNT have been published in comic book form prior to their CLiNT appearance.
CLiNT #12 comes with some big news from the publisher. The magazine will now be released in the United States at the same time as it is in the United Kingdom, in this instance, November 23rd in the U.S. and November 24th in the U.K.
As with previous issues, CLiNT #12 includes a chapter of Millar and John Romita, Jr.’s Kick-Ass 2 (Chapter 12). It is deranged as ever, but Millar manages to create a poignant moment or two, basically by dropping some consequence-of-actions on the characters. The second Millar offering is Chapter 7 of Superior, which is penciled by Leinil Yu. It is a superhero fantasy drama/comedy about a crippled boy who gets to be the comic book superhero he loves. It is strange and is darker in tone than its brightly colored art would suggest.
Thanks to a summary page, I have a better idea of what is going on in Rex Royd from stand-up comic and writer Frankie Boyle. But it still seems to me like a masala of Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, and Brian Bendis post-modern superhero ideas. There is also the conclusion of writer Nathan Edmondson and artist Tonci Zonjic’s Who is Jake Ellis?, which was recently published as a comic book miniseries by Image Comics. I read it and had no idea what was going on because I had not read the earlier issues. I like Zonjic’s art, though.
My favorite comic in this issue is Graveyard of Empires from writer Mark Sable and artist Paul Azaceta, which is being published as a miniseries by Image Comics. A war comic, Graveyard of Empires is set in Afghanistan at a small American base, F.A.C. Alamo, and focuses on the servicemen, their boredom, fear, and pastimes. It’s very good, and reminds me of the Oscar-winning film, The Hurt Locker. I don’t know how I will feel about it later because it is apparently a zombie comic, although zombies don’t appear in this installment.
The issue ends with a “Badass Cinema” article by Vern (http://www.outlawvern.com/) gives readers an overview of “Arthouse Badass.”
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
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Monday, November 21, 2011
TOP SHELF PRODUCTIONS
WRITER: Paul Tobin
ARTIST: Colleen Coover
ISBN: 978-1-60309-080-3; paperback
112pp, B&W, $12.95 U.S.
Colleen Coover is a Portland, Oregon-based comic book artist, perhaps best known for her erotic comic book, Small Favors (Fantagraphics Books). She has also drawn many titles for Marvel Comics, including various comic books related to X-Men: First Class, Spider-Man, and Power Pack.
Paul Tobin is the author of the comic book, Banana Sunday (Oni Press). He is also a frequent writer for Marvel Comics’ Marvel Adventures imprint. Tobin is married to Colleen Coover.
Gingerbread Girl is an original graphic novel from writer Paul Tobin and artist Colleen Coover. It is a mystery story (of sorts) about a captivating, 20-something who has a missing twin sister… or not.
Annah Billips is a 27-year-old single girl who likes vintage fashions, piglets, massages, extra spicy food, farting and puddles (among other things). Cute and charismatic, Annah is, however, totally exasperating for the guys and (yes) girls who want to date her. Annah believes that when she was nine-years-old, her scientist father extracted a part of her brain (the Penfield Homunculus) and grew it into a twin sister. Annah called this version of herself the “Gingerbread Girl” or Ginger.
Does Annah really have such a twin sister? Or is she just insane? A host of co-narrators and commentators, including a pigeon, a bulldog, a magician, neighborhood types, a boyfriend, and girlfriend, try their best to unlock the mystery called Annah. And her best friend, Chili Brandals, also wants to date her.
While reading Gingerbread Girl, I started to wonder if Ginger was just an excuse Annah made so that she didn’t have to ever enter a long-term committed relationship. Listening to the afro-ed Chili, you might even get the idea that Annah could be the doppelganger. Sometimes, writer Paul Tobin’s story is a bit too oblique and coy for the story’s own good, but for the most part, Tobin offers an interesting character in Annah. Much of what is interesting about this story comes from the fact that readers have to seriously engage the dilemma that is Annah without the reward of easy conclusions.
Artist Colleen Coover’s storytelling is like a blend of Seth and New Yorker cartoonists with the pastoral melancholy of Charles Schulz. The art is pretty, and Coover’s clean line discloses the story in an open way that makes the frequent interjection of different narrators not be jarring, but illuminating, in a small way. Gingerbread Girl is not a great work, but it is something good for comics. It’s something delightfully different.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
JUSTICE LEAGUE #2
WRITER: Geoff Johns
PENCILS: Jim Lee
INKS: Scott Williams
COLORS: Alex Sinclair
LETTERS: Patrick Brosseau
COVER: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair
VARIANT COVER: Ivan Reis, Andy Lanning, and Rod Reis
40pp, Color, $3.99 U.S.
DC Comics re-launched its superhero comic book line with 52 #1 issues – “The New 52,” back in September. The first new #1 was Justice League #1, written by Geoff Johns, penciled by Jim Lee, and inked by Scott Williams. Now that the introductions to the new JL have been made, it is time for the long haul. Is this series good?
Justice League #2 (“Part Two”) brings together the first members of what will become the world’s greatest super team, but this is an inauspicious beginning. Batman and Green Lantern made a mistake in the way they approached Superman in order to question him. Now, Superman is stomping their asses into the ground, and Flash comes to the rescue, but will he fare better? Meanwhile, S.T.A.R. Labs scientist, Silas Stone, and his son, Victor, find their family feud interrupted by an invasion.
I didn’t expect much of Justice League #1, but was pleasantly surprised. Suddenly, I had bigger expectations for #2, which I am happy to say were exceeded. Up to this point, I have been unimpressed with Geoff Johns, but he writes a Justice League that is funny, lively, energetic and fast paced. The characters work purely as superheroes; John’s focus seems to be to make them heroes – men of action rather than men of psychoanalysis. [Oh, I’m so dark and moody because my parents were shot right in front of me, I got a Jheri curl, and went to the Far East to learn magical kung fu.]
As for the art, I think this is the best work that Jim Lee has done, both in terms of being eye-candy and storytelling, since the 1990s. Scott William’s precision inking and Alex Sinclair’s gleaming colors make it even better. For me, at least, The New 52 is about superhero comic books that are fun to read, and Justice League exemplifies that.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
WRITER/ARTIST: Sam Keith
COLORIST: Jose Villarrubia and Sam Keith
LETTERS: Sam Cipriano
32pp, Color, $2.99 U.S.
Batman Confidential was a comic book series published by DC Comics from 2006 to 2011. Like Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, Batman Confidential featured rotating creative teams, but while I read LotDK for many years, I only read a few issues of Batman Confidential.
A few months ago, I was visiting a favorite comic book haunt and the owner gave me a freebie, Batman Confidential #43. It was the final issue of a five-issue story arc from Sam Keith (Batman Confidential #40-43), and although I hadn’t read the other issues, I was able to follow the story (“Ghosts: The Conclusion”).
The story involves a young woman named Callie who is being stalked by some kind of ghost or monster or monstrous ghost. Batman is trying to protect her, but there is the added complication that Batman has feelings for Callie. Why? It is because her tragedy is like the childhood tragedy that set Bruce Wayne’s life as Batman in motion or is it just love?
Once upon a time, I was a huge Sam Keith fan. I think that I stopped following Keith’s work after his work in Marvel Comics Presents and after the first few issues of The Maxx, which debuted in 1993 from Image Comics. My favorite work of Keith’s remains I Before E, a collection of Keith’s early work, which Fantagraphics Books published in two issues back in the 1980s.
Although known for his quirky storytelling and still quirkier drawing style, Keith is capable of evocative and poignant work. Ghosts is a Batman story, but at its heart, it is about people who are like lost souls, which both Batman and Callie are, trying to find safe harbor. This is one of those last issues that makes me want to go back to the beginning of the story.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
3 New Volumes Of Hit Series Are Part Of SHONEN JUMP DIGITAL WARP To Bring U.S. Readers Up To Speed With Japanese Counterpart
VIZ Media expands its November digital manga update even more with the latest announcement of a BLEACH ‘Jump Ahead’ that will deliver 3 new volumes of the hit supernatural action saga throughout the month to users on VIZManga.com and for digital download on the VIZ MANGA App for the Apple iPad™, iPhone™ and iPod™ touch. This is part of a SHONEN JUMP DIGITAL WARP, a speed-up of selected titles to bring U.S. readers up-to-date with Japanese releases and prepare for the launch of VIZ Media’s WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA on January 30, 2012. The new outlet will be North America’s only near-simultaneous digital manga magazine.
BLEACH volumes available include (print editions forthcoming):
BLEACH, Vol. 49 – available now!
BLEACH, Vol. 50 – available November 21st
BLEACH, Vol. 51 – available November 28th
BLEACH Volume 49 jumps ahead to the latest story arc in Japan for the BLEACH series. After the big battle, Ichigo finds himself without his Soul Reaper powers. Free from the rigors of defeating Hollows, he tries to settle back into a normal and peaceful life as a high school student. But inside Ichigo still burns with the desire to protect his friends, and when new enemies appear, Ichigo is powerless. However, he is soon approached by a mysterious man who offers to help Ichigo regain his lost powers...
The popular BLEACH animated and manga series, created by Tite Kubo, follow the adventures of Ichigo, a 15-year old student with the ability to see ghosts. When his family is attacked by a Hollow — a malevolent lost soul – Ichigo encounters Rukia, a Soul Reaper, and inadvertently absorbs her powers. Now, he’s dedicating his life to protecting the innocent and helping tortured souls find peace.
BLEACH is a tremendously successful multimedia property internationally. The manga has been licensed to more than a dozen countries and has sold over 50 million copies in Japan alone. In North America, the manga has been a sales hit and the popular animated series (both rated 'T' for Teens) is viewed weekly by millions in the United States and Canada. This success has further spawned an array of related video games, apparel, action figures, trading cards and other merchandise.
VIZ Media’s digital manga platforms allow for universal access to read manga from an iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and now, VIZManga.com for desktop/laptop computers and Android-powered devices with built-in web browsers. With one account, registered users may access their purchases across even more devices than ever.
The free VIZ Manga App continues to be the top app for reading manga on iOS devices and features a rapidly growing library of the most popular manga series in the world, currently offering over 45 series and almost 500 volumes, with new additions and free Chapter 1 previews added weekly.
For more information on BLEACH please visit Bleach.viz.com.
For more information on VIZ Media digital manga, please visit VIZManga.com or www.VIZ.com/apps/.
For more information on the forthcoming WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA, please visit ShonenJump.viz.com.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
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Monday, November 14, 2011
“Kevin Avery has done something heroic here. Avery has rescued the work and the passion, the life and the meaning of the great Paul Nelson. Nelson was a deep and beautiful writer, mysterious and painstaking and brilliant. Thanks to Avery and Everything is an Afterthought, Paul Nelson’s work finally has a home.” — Cameron Crowe
What happened to legendary music critic Paul Nelson?
Fantagraphics Books Inc. invites you to find out as we present author/editor Kevin Avery on tour for the unique anthology-biography, Everything is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson – a collection that’s been called “music book of the year” by DangerousMinds.net.
In the ‘60s, Paul Nelson pioneered rock & roll criticism with a first-person style of writing that would later be popularized by the likes of Tom Wolfe and Norman Mailer as “New Journalism.” As co-founding editor of The Little Sandy Review and managing editor of Sing Out!, he’d already established himself, to use his friend Bob Dylan’s words, as “a folk-music scholar”; but when Dylan went electric in 1965, Nelson went with him.
During a five-year detour at Mercury Records in the early 1970s, Nelson signed the New York Dolls to their first recording contract, then settled back down to writing criticism at Rolling Stone as the last in a great tradition of record-review editors that included Jon Landau, Dave Marsh, and Greil Marcus. Famously championing the early careers of artists like Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Rod Stewart, Neil Young, and Warren Zevon, Nelson not only wrote about them but often befriended them. Never one to be pigeonholed, he was also one of punk rock’s first stateside mainstream proponents, embracing The Sex Pistols and The Ramones.
But in 1982, he walked away from it all – Rolling Stone, his friends, and rock & roll. By the time he died in his New York City apartment in 2006 at the age of seventy – a week passing before anybody discovered his body – almost everything he’d written had been relegated to back issues of old music magazines.
How could a man whose writing had been so highly regarded have fallen so quickly from our collective memory?
With Paul Nelson’s posthumous blessing, Kevin Avery spent four years researching and writing Everything is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson, which compiles Nelson’s best works (some of it previously unpublished) while also providing a vivid account of his private and public lives. Avery interviewed almost 100 of Paul Nelson’s friends, family, and colleagues, including several of the artists about whom he’d written.
For additional information and a preview, please visit:
Kevin Avery's Tour Dates for Everything is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson
Wednesday, November 9th at 7:00 PM
Kevin Avery will be joined on stage by Dave Marsh, a rock critic, historian, anti-censorship activist, talk show host and “Louie Louie” expert who has written more than 20 books about rock and popular music. This event will be held in the Rare Book Room on the 3rd Floor of the Strand.
828 Broadway (at 12th St.)
New York City, NY 10003
Thursday, December 1st at 7:00 PM
Join Kevin Avery for a signing and discussion.
Barnes & Noble Park Slope
267 7th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215
Saturday, December 3rd at 1:00 – 4:00 PM
Join Kevin Avery for a signing and discussion.
44 South Main Street
New Hope, PA 18938
Tuesday, December 13th at 7:00 PM
Join Kevin Avery for a signing and discussion. Avery will be joined by musician Elliott Murphy, who will play a few tunes.
163 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
For more information, visit www.fantagraphics.com/news/averytour
Sunday, November 13, 2011
THE COMPLETE RECORD COVER COLLECTION
W.W. NORTON & COMPANY
CARTOONIST: R. Crumb
ISBN: 978-0-393-08278-4; hardcover
96pp, Color, $25.95 U.S., $32.50 CAN
An American comic book artist, illustrator, and musician, R. Crumb (also known as Robert Crumb) is the famed Underground Comix creator known for his controversial work. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1943, Crumb is a founder of the Underground Comix movement and is its most prominent figure. Crumb also founded the seminal Underground Comix comic book series, Zap Comix.
Crumb is something of a satirist and social critic, and his work has frequently been called racist and sexist. But there are many sides to Crumb’s creativity and artistry, which is revealed in The Complete Record Cover Collection, a new hardcover Crumb art book from publisher, W.W. Norton & Company. Crumb is a prolific illustrator of record covers, having produced over 400 of them. Crumb apparently began drawing record covers in 1968 when Janis Joplin asked him to draw the cover for Cheap Thrills (1968), the second album from American rock band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, for which she was then the lead singer.
The publisher says that The Complete Record Cover Collection is the complete catalog of every record cover jacket Crumb has ever drawn, while also admitting that there could still be Crumb music-related art hidden away somewhere. Crumb mainly drew record covers for artists, new and forgotten, who performed jazz, country, old-time blues, roots, and Americana music of the 1920s and 30s. He also produced record cover art for his own musical act, R. Crumb and His Cheap Suit Serenaders.
The Complete Record Cover Collection also brings together other music related art from Crumb. The book reprints art for event flyers and posters, advertisements, magazine covers, silkscreen prints, and trading cards, among other things. Much of the work also reveals Crumb’s skill at lettering. I think the publisher would like reviewers to emphasize the record cover art in their reviews of The Complete Record Cover Collection, but I want to focus on something else.
What I like most about this book are the portraits of musicians – past and present. These drawings range in size from about 2.5” x 4” to a little larger. They are drawn with such power and faithfulness to the subjects that they seem larger. Crumb executed two such portraits of legendary R&B singer James Brown for The New Yorker in 2000. One depicts a young Brown that captures his likeness with a photographer’s touch. The other, a depiction of an older “hardest working man in show business,” is more of a cartoon, but it captures the spirit both of Brown’s public persona and of his stage performance. Crumb’s 1992 portrait of Frank Zappa (also for The New Yorker) is a sparkling psychedelic piece that encapsulates the eccentric Zappa.
These black and white ink drawings are rendered in such detail that Crumb’s cartoonish style has a kind of realism that is all his own. Crosshatching, fine line work, and solid brushwork bring these musicians to life in strange ways, making even what is familiar about them vibrant and new. This is exemplified in portraits of a smirking, older George Jones; a proud Bo Diddley, and a wired up Merle Haggard.
The Complete Record Cover Collection is about the record cover art of R. Crumb, and it is an excellent book in that regard. Its treasure, however, is the collection of portraits.
Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"
Saturday, November 12, 2011
W.W. NORTON & COMPANY
CARTOONIST: R. Crumb
ISBN: 978-0-393-33371-8; paperback
110pp, B&W, $17.95 U.S., $22.50 CAN
The Sweeter Side of R. Crumb is a 2010 paperback from W.W. Norton & Company that reprints various non-controversial works from the cartoonist and artist, R. Crumb (Robert Crumb). Crumb, the famed Underground Comix creator, has created comix and art that some describe as perverse, crude, cruel, nasty, vile, racist, misogynist, and just plain negative. While I would agree with those sentiments in some examples of his work, I think that American comic books would be worse off without the work of this genius.
Perhaps R. Crumb, a publicist, and/or his publisher decided it was time to show readers a less controversial, more artistic side of Crumb. The Sweeter Side of R. Crumb is a combination art book, portfolio, and sketchbook that offers an array of Crumb drawings that have nothing to do with the busty female revolutionaries, conniving funny animals, weird characters, and horny everyman’s that populate Crumb’s comic book and comix work. Also, the art here is in glorious black and white, the better to show off Crumb’s precision cross hatching and sumptuous, textured ink work.
The Sweeter Side of R. Crumb presents intimate portraits of Crumb’s family and friends as well as drawings of roots music figures – some obscure (Charlie Poole) and some fairly well known (B.B. King). This book offers marvelous landscapes from the French countryside and lovely still life drawings, and even eye-popping depictions of French alleyways and buildings. Many of these drawings may simply be work that Crumb did while quietly observing people or interior and exteriors scenes. There are even a few comic strip vignettes starring Robert and his daughter Sophie as a small child.
I look at The Sweeter Side of R. Crumb as a publication Norton is going to use to pad their R. Crumb catalog. Or maybe people who only know the controversial R. Crumb need a book like this. Even Crumb seems to suggest as much in his introduction to this book, an introduction that only seems partly tongue-in-cheek. As far as I’m concerned, I’m up for anything that will get more people to see R. Crumb’s comix and illustrations. If it means The Sweeter Side of R. Crumb, then, let’s have more.
Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"
Friday, November 11, 2011
Story and Script and Book Design: Nanase Ohkawa
Art/Cover Illustration: Mokona Apapa
Art Direction: Mick Nekoi
Art Assistance: Satsuki Igarashi
TRANSLATION: Lillian Olsen
LETTERS: Annaliese Christman
ISBN: 978-1-4215-4041-2; paperback, Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”
584pp, B&W with some color, $19.99 U.S. $22.99 CAN
CLAMP (or Clamp) is an all-female manga artist group and studio. The group began in the mid-1980s as a self-publishing collective of amateur artists. The group’s first professional work, RG Veda, apparently was started when the creators were still amateurs. Some of their best known titles are Cardcaptor Sakura, Chobits, and xxxHolic.
One of CLAMP’s most famous/infamous series is X, which is also known as X/1999. The series debuted in 1992 in the manga magazine, Monthly Asuka. X follows a young man who must deal with the fact that his destiny will determine the fate of humanity. VIZ Media is currently publishing the series as “X” in their omnibus 3-in-1 editions, which collect three volumes in one large size paperback volume.
X 3-in-1 Edition: Vol. 1 introduces the major players. After the recent death of his mother, Kamui Shiro moves back to Tokyo following a six-year absence. His dear friends, Kotori Monou and her older brother, Fuma Monou, find that Kamui is not like they remember him. Now, sullen and withdrawn, Kamui seems to have the weight of the world on his shoulders, and he actually does.
According to the blind seer, Hinoto, the fate of humanity rests on Kamui’s narrow shoulders. Meanwhile, the Seven Seals, who are Kamui’s allies, and the Seven Angels, who are to be his adversaries, gather. The year 1999 will be the year of the great battle in which Kamui will decide the outcome. Or will he? Could there be another?
I was brief in my summary of the first volume of X 3-in-1 Edition, but so much more happens and practically all of it is fun to read. X is not as polished as Clamp’s later work, and its unrefined nature shows on every page. However, there is something very alluring about this rawness. Lacking the ability or, more likely, desire to be subtle, Clamp filled X with high-strung characters whose emotions are not hidden or quiet. The conniving are really conniving. The sullen are particularly sullen. And when a young woman is in love, as Kotori is, she’s ready to stand by her man and make him soup if he won’t eat what she has already cooked.
The art emphasizes big panels which usually contain battle scenes. Those battle scenes depict energy and magic unleashed in a fast and furious display. What the art lacks in draftsmanship, composition, and figure drawing, it makes up for in sheer bravado. The characters are likeable and though the subplots are a mess, X is that kind of large scale fantasy that attracts readers – like me.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
TOP SHELF PRODUCTIONS
CARTOONIST: Chris Eliopoulos
ISBN: 978-1-60309-068-1; hardcover
48pp, Color, $9.95 U.S.
Chris Eliopoulos is a prolific and acclaimed comic book letterer and has won or been nominated for several awards for lettering comic books. He is also a cartoonist and comic book creator, producing the Calvin and Hobbes-inspired Desperate Times and, for Marvel Comics, the Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius series of backup features and comic book one-shots.
Top Shelf Productions recently released Okie Dokie Donuts: Open for Business, a graphic novel and children’s book from Eliopoulos. This full-color, 5” x 7.5,” hardcover book is the story of a portly matron who owns and operates a hugely popular donut shop.
Okie Dokie Donuts may be the best little donut shop anywhere. People line up outside the shop for its treats. Baker and owner, Big Mama, does practically everything by hand and from scratch, but she could use a little help.
In walks kitchen appliance salesman, Mr. Mayweather, who is in the employ of the “Great Cooks Cooking Corporation.” Mayweather swears that the corporation’s latest contraption, Mr. Baker (Brilliant Apparatus Kooks Every Recipe”), will help Big Mama because it can cook “over 1000 donuts in 40 seconds.” This oven-like robot may do just that, but when it is through, Big Mama and Okie Dokie Donuts may be through as well.
Okie Dokie Donuts: Open for Business opens with a musical number (or the comic book version of one), so I knew I was in for an unpleasant reading experience. But I wasn’t. Okie Dokie Donuts is not just a cute kids’ comic book, but it is also simply a funny tale. Chris Eliopoulos makes comedy out of the unappetizing idea of the mechanization of food, which is the current status of our food processing. Of course, Mayweather’s robot can work, but without the ability to “think on one’s feet” or troubleshoot the unexpected, the robot is just another thing in the way – a disruptive nuisance.
Okie Dokie Donuts slyly preaches for hard work and making things with one’s hands, but uses vibrant colors and comic book graphics to deliver an entertaining message. Okie Dokie Donuts has the manic energy and sarcastic charm of a Marx Bros. movie, so don’t sell it short. You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy this sweet treat.