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Showing posts from August, 2007

Chickenhare: The House of Klaus

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Chris Grine

This all-ages graphic novel features an unlikely hero who happens to be half-chicken, half-hare. Together with a couple of other strange misfit friends, he does his best to outwit the exotic animal collector, Mr. Klaus (an eccentric taxidermist), and escape from his clutches into the cold winter night. This is a fun chase story with likeable characters and fluid storytelling. Grine demonstrates a superior cartooning ability as he folds his well-designed characters into the brisk sequence of events. I would be surprised if Grine weren't influenced by Jeff Smith, as this certainly had a certain flavor that I got from the great Bone saga that I didn't necessarily feel when I read similar titles like, say, Castle Waiting. Although the story isn't as dense as these other works, there's enough there to keep you entertained all the way through. It's a quick read. It's a simple little story. But I think that kids everywhere will eat this sort of thing…

White Picket Fences #1 (of 3)

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Matt Anderson, Eric Hutchins & Micah Farritor

The mini-series White Picket Fences from Ape Entertainment takes place in the small town of Greenview in the Midwest during "the good ol' days" that would make the Cleavers proud. But during this era of patriotism and bunkers in suburban backyards, the military has a secret that they are hiding in this out-of-the-way town. And one day, little Charlie Hobson stumbles upon this secret that will inevitably lead to the military versus an alien menace. That cover pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the comic before you pick it up, in the end. White Picket Fences features some stunning art from Micah Farritor in a story that plays with the reader's expectations (particularly with the opening sequence) and offers up an instantly compelling story. The creators do a great job of injecting this book with atmosphere. It's a little haunting and odd, and quite fun, with images of breadboxes and pitcher…

The Mice Templar #1

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Bryan J.L. Glass & Michael Avon Oeming

The first issue of The Mice Templar from Image Comics is a 56-page introduction to a blood-soaked, dark mirror of David Petersen's popular Mouse Guard from Archaia Studios Press. And frankly, it doesn't hold a candle to the previously established title featuring cute mice with swords. While Michael Avon Oeming's pencils are beautifully wrought over the pages of this comic, it's kind of a disjointed mess in the end. The characters are hardly distinctive from one another in scenes that aren't very fluid, particularly in light of reading the gorgeous, seamless Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 #1 that was released just one week ago. But really, this is not the same sort of all-ages tale. Oeming and Glass are going for your typical superhero-loving comic buyer, with violent arms-hacked-off battles and literal rivers of blood. Instead of trying to find the next Mouse Guard phenomenon, they're capitalizing on the recent success of a s…

Picks of the Week: 8/29

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It's time once again for Patrick and I to choose what we think are the best bets to put your money toward at the local comic store this week... . Dave's Pick:
Squirrelly Gray SC - James Kochalka's children's book comes out to comic shops in soft cover this week, featuring a cute little squirrel who lives in a gray world, whose only source of entertainment is TV. But that all changes one night when he meets some fun characters - the tooth fairy, a fox and others. Forty pages of good, clean fun mixing verse and "comic-inspired" illustration. Barnes & Noble suggests it for kids aged 5 - 7. . Patrick's Pick: . Chance In Hell - I’m very much looking forward to this new, original graphic novel from Gilbert Hernandez because, well, It’s a new, original graphic novel from Gilbert Hernandez. Also, it’s gotten some terrific advance reviews. And Sloth was awesome.
Like Speak of the Devil, currently serialized in comic book form from Dark Horse, Chance In Hell is an “ad…

Manga Monday 43: Honey & Clover

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Honey & CloverChica Umino
I've only read the first two chapters of the newest serial joining Shojo Beat this month, filling the big shoes left by Ai Yazawa's Nana, and so far, so good. I like series creator Chica Umino's art style - very different than anything else we've seen in the magazine so far. The story centers around a group of students attending an art school in Tokyo, particularly Yuta Takemoto and his wacky friends. Very quickly, the group meets one of their professor's cousins, a shy girl with anxiety issues named Hagumi Hanamoto. She's a prodigy of sorts whom Yuta, among others, falls for upon first sight. This is an instantly likeable cast of characters in a fun, whimsical type of narrative. It's unfair to compare it to Nana, but I was expecting a bit more from what I've heard is the next best thing to Ai Yazawa's masterpiece. However, it is early on in the series and the complexity of relationships and story in general have yet to …

Brief Thoughts on Recent Comics

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1-800-Mice: There’s really no point in describing the semi-coherent short stories contained in this second issue of Matthew Thurber’s new comic book, except to say that Thurber employs an art style and sense of humor you’re either going to be on board with or not. I might call it a mixture of David Lynch and Michael Kupperman filtered through the Fort Thunder aesthetic? It’s the kind of thing I enjoy to the point that I’m very much looking forward to more new work by the artist, although it’s not the sort of material that creates a lasting impression, and probably doesn’t demand revisiting.

Also, this series is an example of an “alternative” cartoonist bucking the graphic novel trend in favor of a good old-fashioned comic book series. This is a trend I appreciate.

Astonishing X-Men #22: Joss Whedon’s and John Cassaday’s run on this series is nearing its conclusion. Here, the X-Men reunite to take on Kruun, ruler of the Breakworld that Colossus is prophesied to destroy. There’s an import…

Strugglers

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Tim Fish

Strugglers is a great little graphic novel from Tim Fish, creator of Cavalcade of Boys, the series of gay romance graphic novels that the author is primarily known for. Strugglers is, in fact, a prequel of sorts to the series, as one of the characters from this book (Tighe) actually moves on to become a part of the antics of that series. This particular tale, however, is self-contained, telling his story before he moves on to California, when he moves in with two female roommates in Saint Louis, Missouri, where things are a little foreign and everyone seems to be in a band. In fact, both of his roommates join bands before too long and compete with one another while Tighe struggles with his conflicting emotions about the boy next door. This is a really great book from Tim Fish. While some of his other projects are aggressively gay, this one has less emphasis on it, focusing instead on three individuals with different degrees of aspiration, struggling to find out where they fit …

Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 #1

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David Petersen

I really, really enjoyed the first Mouse Guard mini-series from David Petersen, published by Archaia Studios Press. The latest mini-series from the Mouse Guard universe follows up on the Fall 1152 story with the next season, where the Mouse Guard attempt to secure supplies for Lockhaven from neighboring towns during a particularly harsh winter. Gone are the bright leaves and beautiful plant and beach scenes that Petersen established with the previous storyarc. In its place is a desolate landscape that Petersen yet again manages to capture the full beauty of via the guards' trek through the baren, blanketed wilderness. The fully-rendered world that is portrayed in Mouse Guard is one that makes me want to read the pages slowly, as to totally immerse myself in the atmosphere conveyed. It's a treat to walk alongside the Mouse Guard as they encounter predators and interact with one another as they struggle to carry out their daring missions. From the first page to the…

Black Cat Crossing

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Richard Sala

Black Cat Crossing is an earlier work from one of my favorite creators - Richard Sala. It's out of print, so you may have to do a little digging to find this book from Kitchen Sink Press, but it's worth the effort for the great art and strange, creepy tales. Sala is a master of noir, and while these stories of madmen, dames and murder plots are shorter than the crazy, winding stories we usually get from this particular creator, they're still brimming with that atmosphere that fans love. For the most part, this book is black and white, but a few color pages are tucked in the middle of the volume, making the pages prettier, although they do tend to lose some of the darkness of the tales with the pastels and rosy cheeks. And sure, some of the stories aren't as good as others. "Psychorama" is actually really, really weak. It's a poem that describes different patients of a psychiatrist, from A to Z. Very cheesy. But other stories like "The Fel…

Toronto Comic Art Festival 2007!

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This was Patrick and I's first year attending the Toronto Comic Art Festival at the Old Victoria College building on the University of Toronto campus. The festival, held every other year, boasted appearances from top-notch creators such as Bryan Lee O'Malley (Scott Pilgrim), Hope Larson (Salamander Dreams), Stuart Immonen (Nextwave), Paul Pope (100%), James Jean (Fables covers) and Darwyn Cooke (DC: The New Frontier), among many, many others. Toronto is a beautiful city and I urge anybody with the opportunity to visit its streets. There were plenty of bookstores along the popular Bloor Street where we stayed, including a newer comic book store, The Labyrinth, which had walls of art books and plenty of graphic novels and manga, but no floppies, which was a nice concept. Of course, Toronto is also the home of the world-famous TheBeguiling, which was crammed floor to ceiling with pretty much every conceivable comic or graphic novel that you could ever want to get your hands on, w…

Picks of the Week: 8/22

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It's weeks like this that make narrowing comics down to one title hard to do. So, as you'll see below, we both sort of cheated...

Patrick's Pick:

Classic Comic Strip Reprints - There is a ridiculous amount of books collecting classic comic strips out this week. If I had to choose just one as my pick of the week, it would be The Kat Who Walked In Beauty: Panoramic Dailies of 1920 HC, a kind of best-of collection of George Herriman's daily strips published by Fantagraphics, who are also responsible for the complete Krazy Kat Sunday strips reprint effort. Fortunately, I don't have to choose just one, so I'm also going to point you towards The Complete Terry & the Pirates (Volume 1): 1934-1936 HC and The Complete Peanuts: 1965-1966 HC. All are well worth your time and money.

Dave's Pick:

Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 #1 - The first of another Mouse Guard six issue mini-series debuts this week from the talented David Petersen. A follow-up to the acclaimed Mouse Guard…

300

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Frank Miller

I'm sure that this work has been analyzed to death, so I'm not going to try to do anyone better. I'm not sure how people feel about the work, or if it's any different of an experience having read the graphic novel before or after seeing the film, but I like to look at this as a graphic novel without comparing it to the movie, despite the echoes of catch phrases that have been done to death in trailers and advertisements. And anyway, I think it works much better as a graphic novel where it doesn't fall into such obvious monotony. But that all being said, the graphic novel is good. The stand of the three hundred Spartans against Xerxes and his new world order is a fascinating tale, as told by Frank Miller, and his art does the bloody battle and harsh world justice, with captivating scenes of violence and resilience. Miller says all he needs to say about Sparta, about the wives and families left behind, to make the reader feel for what he's leavin…

The Walking Dead (Volume 6)

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This Sorrowful Life

Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard

The sixth volume of Kirkman's popular The Walking Dead does not disappoint. In fact, it's probably the best of the entire series thus far. If you can get over that little hitch in storytelling back in volume four, then it's going to be well worth the wait. The interesting thing is that the zombie stuff isn't what made this volume so great. It's still action-packed, but it's really become a story about what people do in a world devastated by such events, and the action is focused on getting out of the way of people like that, who feel that laws are forfeit and that every man for himself is rule of thumb. I'm not even so interested in how the survivors deal with things when it comes to the main cast of people in the book. It's much better when it's broader and we get to see an entire village of people who behave in ridiculous ways that somehow seem very likely given the scenario. It's an intere…

Picks of the Week: 8/15

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And once again, we take a stab at the best bets to spend you money on this week at the local comic store…
Dave’s Pick:
Undertown (Volume 1) - It’s not too exciting of a week for comics unfortunately, but I did notice this new manga coming out from Tokyopop that looked kind of neat. I noticed it at my Barnes & Noble the other day and it has some pretty nice art inside. It’s from Jim Pascoe and Jake Myler, about a boy who escapes the tragedy of his life with his teddy bear into a world beneath his bed. Very much like Lions, Tigers and Bears and Lullaby and plenty of other new all-ages books with little children and cutesy animals. I can’t really vouch that this is much different, not having read it, but it’s worth a look at least.
Patrick’s Pick:
Dogs and Water Definitive Edition HC
This graphic novel from the talented cartoonist Anders Nilsen has been on my “to read” list for quite some time now. I’m not sure what the difference is between this and the previously released soft cover ed…

Manga Monday 42: Apollo's Song

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Apollo’s Song
OsamaTezuka
The complete 500+ page story from the master “godfather” of manga comes in a beautiful package from Vertical, a similar treatment to the fantastic Ode To Kirihito released last year. And while Apollo’s Song is a strange tale, it’s nothing compared to the oddities of Ode To Kirihito, but similarly exemplifies Tezuka’s attempts to grapple with larger issues. Apollo’s Song is much more straight forward, but only comparatively, and not as epic in tone. This book focuses on love. We see love through the eyes of a boy, Shojo, who may be beyond it. He grew up in horrendous conditions and exhibits homicidal tendencies when confronted with animals procreating, etc. But the boy is cursed to feel love through several lifetimes, whereupon he or his love will die, so that it eludes him. And so in a remote cabin in the woods where he trains to be a marathon runner, on an island where he is stranded alongside a troublesome reporter, and in the far future where he attempts to …

Double Take: Wizard World Chicago

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This is another Double Take. Patrick and I both weigh in on our thoughts on this year's Chicago Wizard World convention...
Dave says:
Despite a disappointing Saturday convention day that saw gaping floor space where exhibitors used to park their wares in years past, panels that drove attendees out to the floor en masse due to lack of any interesting content, and a completely disappointing lineup (or lack thereof) of celebrities (which consisted of "that girl" from Battlestar Galactica as the headliner) and creative talent, there were a few bright spots including the last minute addition of footage from The Dark Knight presented by director Christopher Nolan, and the abundance of merchandise slashed to 40% and 50% off at retailers across the floor (my guess: due to poor sales on Friday). I enjoyed the shopping aspect more this year than last probably due to the fact that I merely attended the convention for one day instead of three (or two, since last year I didn't eve…

Awakening #1 (of 10)

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Nick Tapalansky & Alex Eckman-Lawn

The new mini-series Awakening, from Archaia Studios Press, was my pick a few weeks back for the best bet of all releases to put your money on. And now that I've finally gotten my hands on a copy, I can breathe a sigh of relief that I haven't steered anybody wrong. I put my faith in the publishing company a little blindly, but my luck held out. At Wizard World Chicago of all places, I tracked this issue down in artist alley and got it autographed to boot. Awakening follows the sleepy town of Park Falls as a series of disappearances and grisly murders grip the community. The police are horrified by the viciousness of the acts, and no one believes the crazy conspiracy-theorist until they absolutely have to when the slow build of events lead to the conclusion that she provided: that there are indeed zombies walking amongst them. This comic is a dark thriller that reminded me quite a bit of Warren Ellis' Fell, and frankly, I think that this…

Sarah Mensinga

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I found this creator Sarah Mensinga online when I was taking a gander at the Flight Volume 4preview. I really enjoyed the art from the preview of her contribution and found a site featuring her illustrations, character designs and art from films she's worked on (The Ant Bully). But the real treat was her blog, Sarah's Sketches, where Sarah posts drawings and paintings and talks about them. It was really fun to peruse - I found the illustration on the left there. I think she's definitely a creator to watch and love a lot of the cute animals and strips she has up, not to mention the great character designs in there.

Picks of the Week: 8/8

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Dave’s Pick:
Essential Dazzler (Volume 1) - Collecting the earliest solo exploits from X-Men Allison Blaire, this collection boasts the talent of Chris Claremont, John Byrne, John Romita Jr., Walt Simonson, and more. Sure, it’s probably bad, but a lot of these “essentials” are…in a good way. And come on, this book has Dazzler versus Galactus! It’s bound to be a better battle than Jessica Alba versus a cloud…
Patrick's Pick:
Batman #667 - This issue reunites Grant Morrison with artist J.H. Williams III for a new storyline. I really liked the last issue.

Manga Monday 41: Gon!

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I'm getting pretty behind on my manga. I have an unwieldy pile waiting for me to sift through and I'm barely making small dents in it before more new stuff comes out. Sigh. With Wizard World Chicago coming up this next weekend and The Toronto Comic Arts Festival the next (both of which I'm attending), I may not get much reading in, but you can bet that reviews of Osama Tezuka's Apollo's Song and MPD Psycho are forthcoming, as well as plenty more of my favorites... Up this week, Gon and the newest Hana-Kimi!

Gon (Volume 1)
Masashi Tanaka

Gon is an adorable all-ages manga, one that's been printed before in the US, but not in its entirety. DC is providing American readers with a chance to experience the series from beginning to end in their relaunch of the title through their CMX line. The manga follows the last dinosaur as he strives to survive in the wilderness and make sense of his surroundings. Quite often, the little guy can be seen imitating animals around h…

The Astounding Wolf-Man #1

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Robert Kirkman & Jason Howard

Yes, I'm a little late on my review of this book, but at least I'm getting to it... During Free Comic Book Day, I had to work, so my usual comic book store had "sold out" of this book by the time I got around to perusing the leftover selection. A visit to a new, closer and overall better store (Neptune Comics) led to my picking up this book months after its launch (the second issue is already on comic book shelves). After reading the debut issue of the Robert Kirkman title, I can say that there's nothing too new and inventive about the title thus far. It's your basic attacked-and-discovering-you're-a-werewolf story. Nothing shocking and inventive about it whatsoever. We've seen this type of thing dozens of times before. But I believe this character turns into a superhero of sorts in subsequent issues, so past the obligatory origin, we may get something worth a closer inspection. But as is, it's very by-the-numbers,…