Monday, July 6, 2015

New Comics For Wednesday 8th of July


It's a big week in comics this time of year because this weekend San Diego Comic Con is taking place. We might be half a world away but that doesn't mean we can't get excited for all the comic news coming up this week. In fact Mitch is going to be All Star representative on the Con floor, so hopefully he'll be getting the best news first hand! But before all that we've got this week's latest releases!  

More new multiple universe action from Marvel's Secret War mini's like, the wild west Marvel frontier in 1872 #1, a return to where it is survival of the fittest in AGE OF APOCALYPSE #1 and the heads of the Marvel U still fighting over registration in CIVIL WAR #1. The galaxy's number two scoundrel and number one sweet talker gets his own mini with STAR WARS LANDO #1. MAD MAX FURY ROAD MAD MAX #1 gives us more quality time with the Road Warrior. Local creator from the ACT, Ryan Lindsay unleashes his latest outing on us with NEGATIVE SPACE #1. The week Mitch is at SDCC read all about the whole area dropping into the ocean in the classic AQUAMAN SUB DIEGO TP. How To Train Your Dragon for adults with the awesome re-release, FOUR EYES TP VOL 01 FORGED IN FLAMES REMASTERED. Murder mysteries at high altitude in the internet hit, HIGH CRIMES HC. Finally back in print, one of Image's great sleeper hits, NOWHERE MEN TP VOL 01 FATES WORSE THAN DEATH. Along with that a new series from the same writer and head of Image Comics, Eric Stephenson is THEYRE NOT LIKE US TP VOL 01 BLACK HOLES FOR THE YOUNG. The mystery behind who is worthy to wield this hammer is revealed in THOR PREM HC VOL 02 WHO HOLDS HAMMER. And maybe the biggest re-releasing we didn't know we wanted but now can't do without, Mark Waid and Fiona Staples on ARCHIE #1.

Of course see something else you are after, let us know and we'll get it sorted!

MARVEL
1872 #1 SWA
AGE OF APOCALYPSE #1 SWA
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN RENEW YOUR VOWS #2 SWA
CIVIL WAR #1 SWA
GHOST RACERS #2 SWA
INFERNO #3 SWA
MARVEL UNIVERSE AVENGERS ASSEMBLE SEASON TWO #9
MASTER OF KUNG FU #3 (OF 4) SWA
MAX RIDE FIRST FLIGHT #4 (OF 5)
MRS DEADPOOL AND HOWLING COMMANDOS #2 SWA
RUNAWAYS #2 SWA
SECRET WARS 2099 #3 (OF 5) SWA
SPIDER-ISLAND #1 (OF 5) SWA
SPIDER-VERSE #3 SWA
SQUADRON SINISTER #2 SWA
STAR WARS LANDO #1 (OF 5)

DC COMICS
ALL STAR SECTION 8 #2 (OF 6)
ARROW SEASON 2.5 #10
BATMAN #42 TEEN TITANS GO VAR ED
BATMAN SUPERMAN #22 TEEN TITANS GO  VAR ED
CATWOMAN #42 TEEN TITANS GO VAR ED
CONSTANTINE THE HELLBLAZER #2
EARTH 2 SOCIETY #2
GOTHAM ACADEMY #8 TEEN TITANS GO VAR ED
INJUSTICE GODS AMONG US YEAR FOUR #5
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #2 TEEN TITANS GO VAR ED
JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED #11
NEW SUICIDE SQUAD #10 TEEN TITANS GO VAR ED
RED HOOD ARSENAL #2
SCOOBY DOO WHERE ARE YOU #59
STARFIRE #2

VERTIGO
COFFIN HILL #20
FABLES THE WOLF AMONG US #7
MAD MAX FURY ROAD MAD MAX #1 (OF 2)

BOOM
ADVENTURE TIME MARCELINE GONE ADRIFT #5
BILL & TED MOST TRIUMPHANT RETURN #5 (OF 6)
BRAVEST WARRIORS #34
GEORGE PEREZ SIRENS #4
LANTERN CITY #3 (OF 12)
REGULAR SHOW #25
STRANGE FRUIT #1

DARK HORSE
ABE SAPIEN #24
HARROW COUNTY #3
NEGATIVE SPACE #1 (OF 4)
REBELS #4
TOMORROWS #1 (OF 6)

DYNAMITE
SWORDS OF SORROW #3 (OF 6)
VAMPIRELLA ARMY OF DARKNESS #1 (OF 4)

IDW
DIRK GENTLYS HOLISTIC DETECTIVE AGENCY #2 (OF 5)
DRONES #4 (OF 5)
LONG DISTANCE #2 (OF 4)
MAXX MAXXIMIZED #21
STAR TREK GREEN LANTERN #1 (OF 6)

IMAGE
BIG MAN PLANS #4 (OF 4)
BLACK SCIENCE #16
BLOODSTRIKE #1
COVENANT #2
DESCENDER #5
INJECTION #3
ODDLY NORMAL #8
PISCES #3
SAGA #30
SAVIOR #4
SHUTTER #13
SPREAD #8
STARVE #2
TITHE #3
WALKING DEAD #144

MISC
21ST CENTURY TANK GIRL #2 (OF 3)
ARCHIE #1
BLOODSHOT REBORN #4
CHEER UP ONE SHOT
CRICKETS #4
DOCTOR WHO 11TH #14
FOX (DARK CIRCLE) #4
HOME #1 (OF 4)
MINIONS #2 (OF 4)
PRINCELESS RAVEN PIRATE PRINCESS #1
PROVIDENCE #2 (OF 12)
SPONGEBOB COMICS #46
TRANSFERENCE #1
UNITY #20

TRADES
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN TP VOL 03 SPIDER-VERSE
AQUAMAN AND THE OTHERS TP VOL 02 ALIGNMENT EARTH
AQUAMAN SUB DIEGO TP
BACCHUS OMNIBUS ED GN
BALTIMORE STEADFAST TIN SOLDIER & VAMPIRE SC NOVEL
BATMAN ARKHAM KNIGHT HC VOL 01
BATMAN ETERNAL TP VOL 02
BATMAN THE JIRO KUWATA BATMANGA TP VOL 02 (OF 3)
BOOGER BEARD HC
CREEPY PRESENTS ALEX TOTH HC
CROSSED TP VOL 13
EAST OF WEST THE APOCALYPSE YEAR ONE HC
EPOCHALYPSE TP VOL 01
FANTASY SPORTS GN VOL 01
FLASH GORDON OMNIBUS TP VOL 01 MAN FROM EARTH
FOUR EYES TP VOL 01 FORGED IN FLAMES REMASTERED
GEORGE RR MARTIN IN THE HOUSE O/T WORM TP
GODZILLA HC HALF CENTURY WAR
GRONK A MONSTERS STORY GN VOL 04
HIGH CRIMES HC
HINTERKIND TP VOL 03 THE HOT ZONE
IMAGE GIANT SIZED CREATOR PROOF BLACK SCIENCE #1
IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME SWANNS WAY GN
IRON FIST EPIC COLLECTION TP FURY OF IRON FIST
JUNIOR BRAVES OF THE APOCALYPSE HC VOL 01
JUSTICE LEAGUE HC VOL 06 INJUSTICE LEAGUE (N52)
KABUKI LIBRARY HC VOL 01
MARVEL UNIVERSE GUARDIANS OF GALAXY DIGEST TP
MOOSE GN
MOWGLIS MIRROR GN
NEW AVENGERS TP VOL 04 PERFECT WORLD
NOWHERE MEN TP VOL 01 FATES WORSE THAN DEATH
PANDORA OF THE CRIMSON SHELL GHOST URN GN VOL 01
POKEMON ADV BLACK & WHITE GN VOL 08
POKEMON ADVENTURES GN VOL 29
REYN TP VOL 01 WARDEN OF FATE
SHADOW SHOW TP
SHUTTER TP VOL 02 WAY OF THE WORLD
SINESTRO TP VOL 02 SACRIFICE
SOLAR MAN OF ATOM TP VOL 02 INTERGALACTIC
STORM TP VOL 02 BRING THUNDER
TALES OF TMNT TP VOL 07
THEYRE NOT LIKE US TP VOL 01 BLACK HOLES FOR THE YOUNG
THOR PREM HC VOL 02 WHO HOLDS HAMMER
VALIANT ZEROES & ORIGINS TP VOL 01
X-FILES CLASSICS SEASON ONE HC VOL 02
ZOMBILLENIUM HC VOL 01 GRETCHEN

MERCH
POP BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA JACK BURTON VINYL

BACK IN STOCK
AIRBOY #2 (OF 4)
APOCALYPTIGIRL AN ARIA FOR THE END TIMES TP
E IS FOR EXTINCTION #1 SWA

JUSTICE LEAGUE 3001 #1

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

ANT-MAN DOUBLE PASS GIVEAWAY!


The next evolution of the Marvel Cinematic Universe brings a founding member of The Avengers to the big screen for the first time with Marvel Studios’ “Ant-Man.” Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, master thief Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world….

Thanks to those tiny, yet heroic folks at Marvel Australia & New Zealand and ANT-MAN in cinemas July 16th, we have 10 Double In Season Passes to give away!

To go into the draw for your chance to win all you need to do is tell us, "What is the best part of being small?"

Terms and Conditions:
Only entries made via the the comments on the Facebook post will be included in the draw.
All entries will go into the All Star Barrel and winners will be drawn at random.
Entries close 6pm Monday the 6th of July and winners will be announced Tuesday the 7th.
Tickets will only be available to pick up from the store and winner must produce photo ID upon pick up. Tickets MUST be picked up no later than a week after the draw. Any remaining tickets after this date will be given away at our discretion to make sure they don't go to waste.

A huge thanks again to Marvel Australia & New Zealand and ANT-MAN in cinemas July 16th.

ALL STAR RECOMMENDS FOR JUNE 30TH


Hey, hey…

Let’s talk book-books for a moment. Skip ahead to the sequentials if you like. 

Here’s a hot tip for all writerly, left-leaning, philosophically-inclined comics readers out there: the most important and creatively-influential non-fiction books you should be reading are published by Semiotext(e). Their catalogue has influenced the recent work of writers like Warren Ellis, Ales Kot and novelist Jeff VanderMeer, whose Area X trilogy of books, all released last year, need to be smashed into your brain ASAP. With Semiotext(e), start with The Coming Insurrection, head into The Administration of Fear and then pick at random as you will (The Soul At Work or Where Art Belongs would be my choice). Your mind will split open like a flowering 
orchid.

I shouldn’t drink and write these intros….



Onward!


COMIC OF THE WEEK : SEX
By Joe Casey & Piotr Kowalski
Published by Image Comics

I can’t remember where I read this, but during his 2000-2002 run writing Detective Comics, Greg Rucka commented that the biggest problem he had in plotting the series was coming up with things for Batman to actually do. Bruce Wayne was never a problem for the writer, which likely explains the “Bruce Wayne: Fugitive” storyline of the period. Joe Casey and Piotr Kowlaski’s Sex takes this idea of featuring the man behind the mask (or the mask behind the man, depending on your view of which is which) and runs with it, giving us The Armored Saint, a superhero who has swapped his costumed adventures for corporate drudgery and, as a result, is forced to come to terms with both his own sexual repression and the very nature of his masculinity and identity. It’s very much, at least in its beginnings, a kinky Bruce Wayne in retirement book.

Despite Sex featuring a Batman-analogue of sorts, it’s perhaps worth noting that obviously Batman himself is not sexless. Whether he’s portrayed as the “hairy chest love god” as Grant Morrison once proclaimed, or the monogamous, but still very sexual, “Boyfriend Bruce” or being forced to conceive a child with the daughter of one of his most dangerous enemies, or being accused by real-world psychiatrists of inappropriate relations with his teen sidekick, or hilariously getting it on with Catwoman in cringe worthy early New 52 books, Bruce’s/Batman’s sexuality has always been apparent, if widely debated and largely off-panel. The bottom line, however, is that Batman doesn’t need to exclusively unbuckle his utility belt to have a good time. Bruce Wayne has long served as a strong sexual outlet for both personas.

Armoured Saint is a different story. He is the ‘80s revisionist superhero as dysfunctional celibate, his relationship with Sex’s Catwoman stand-in, Shadow Lynx, contextualised by intimacy of their rooftop chases and endless duels. His sexuality is expressed solely through the costumed adventures his alter ego had neither the time nor the inclination for.

Fittingly, Saturn City rises around our repressed hero in tight gleaming skyscraper-clusters of steel and glass, blatantly and obviously phallic (yet I can’t find any mention of this in other reviews I’ve read: Calling Dr Freud!), stretching off until the horizon and frequently framed in a worms-eye shot thrusting up to the sky. Seemingly an entire territory of high-rises, Simon, glum and completely unsure of his next step, has stripped himself of his own context within the city and is crisply dawn by Kowlaski in his designer suits struggling to find his new outlet amongst all the rigid towers surrounding him. Initially he appears completely unarousable, moping around high class restaurants, brothels and clubs, at one point watching two female sex workers go at it with such aloofness, one of the offended performers curtly asks if he’s going to start wanking any time soon.

The characters themselves are wonderfully brought to life by Kowalski, whose grounded art features slender, long-limbed characters coated with a slick porn sheen, groomed and proportioned like youthful adult film stars. It’s all luridly coloured by Brad Simpson who gives an ‘80s comic palette a strikingly sleazy overhaul, making images pop off the page like an dirty mag photographed in the overexposed “Vibra-tone” so fetishised by collectors of old filth rags. If that description makes little sense to you, think of Sexassomething like a Nicholas Wendig-Refn film (like Drive) paired with the overly dialogued verbosity of an ‘80s Marvel comic.

Casey is adept at tailoring his stories to their particularly tweaked eras – he’s as at home recreating the alliterative hyperbole of ‘60s-‘70s cosmic comics (seen most notably in his and Tom Scioli’sexcellent Godland) as he is in Sex, where characters are unaware that that the medium has moved on from 1987 without them and word balloons of under thirty-five words are now the norm. If the eighties was the grim ‘n gritty revisionist hero party, Casey makes Sex the grubby, mid-week bad-ecstasy comedown.

Despite the screwing on display, however, it’s hard to imagine anyone actually finding the book arousing. Characters screw as though frozen in time, clinical and posed, voyeuristically photo-snapped, the acts unappealing in their sculptured porniness. Contrast this with, say, the sex in a Gilbert Hernandez comic (whose work is an admitted, if surprising, influence on Casey’s creation of Sex), where generously proportioned characters have at it in all manner of combinations with passion, gusto and, most importantly, motion. Despite the cartooniness of Herdandez’s art in contrast to Kowalski’s, his depictions of sex appear far more human. Kowlaski’s characters, for the most part (there are notable exceptions -- Shadow Lynx and the Robin-esque ex-sidekick Keenan being the most prominent), do it with all the energy, spontaneity and authenticity of Kim Kardashian’s famously dull tape. I suspect this is likely the point. Either way, happy stylistic accident or aesthetic choice, it’s genius.

Clearly, there’s a lot going on in Sex. I’ve barely mentioned any plot at all, of which there is ample, and subtextually it doesn’t end with the revisionist super-sexual exploration. All the characters, heroes and villains alike, are attempting to move on in a seemingly post-superhero world, each with their own kinks and proclivities and each with their own plans. Different readings of the book seem bottomless – the end of heroes in the current rise of Indie SF. The struggles of corporate comics to remain relevant and diverse whilst meeting the most basic needs of monetary survival, it’s all here and for an excellent reading of Sex as Casey’s exploration of his own possible mid-career crisis, check out Luke Geddes’ excellent review at tcj.com.

Sex is a dense, fascinating and lurid read, a comic that doesn’t get anywhere near the attention it deserves. Don’t be fooled by its titillating title, eye-catching and sales-driven in its upfront salaciousness, because Sex is truly a complex piece of comic book business. Three collected editions are currently out, and the world-building and ever-expanding plotlines consistently surprise. To put it bluntly, Sex is good. Really good. Go have some.


WEBCOMIC OF THE WEEK : NONNA
By Frank Candiloro

Melbourne comics creator Frank Candiloro’s Nonna is coming to print next month but, lucky us, he’s put the whole thing up online first. Huzzah. Over the space of 23 silent pages, Candiloro creates a very real relationship between a little girl and her grandmother and then quite neatly and compassionately explores the grieving process after Nonna’s sudden passing. There are some lovely, clever little visual beats and repeating panels that emphasise just how much Nonna’s absence weighs on the girl as well as the importance of the time they spent together and Candiloro makes the absolute most of the room he’s allowed himself for this project.

Candiloro’s cartooning is simple but detail-filled (his depiction of Brunswick is just spot on) and his adorable characterisation may well cause you to overlook just how skillfully he’s created a narrative about grief. While it may be a little odd to call a story about death “heart-warming,” Nonna is exactly that. Thematically resonant, structurally perfect, super nice to look at and, yes, heart-warming, I look forward to seeing what Nonna looks like once printed. Great stuff, Frank.




COMICS VIDEO OF THE WEEK : THE KING OF COMICS: JACK KIRBY

“He didn’t even want to ink his own work because that wasn’t involved with storytelling,” says Mark Evanier in the first minute of this short little documentary on the titan that was Jack Kirby. What a shame. So many pages marred by sub-par inking, slapdash, let’s-just-erase-this-detail by many who could simply not keep up with the Kirby’s energy, craft and desire to hit that deadline (Joe Sinnott and Mike Royer being notable exceptions to this).

This is a wonderful little two-parter but, like anything on Kirby, it breaks my heart a little.



See you next week. Love your comics.


Cameron Ashley spends a lot of time writing comics and other things you’ll likely never read. He’s the chief editor and co-publisher of Crime Factory (www.thecrimefactory.com). You can reach him @cjamesashley on Twitter.

Monday, June 29, 2015

New Comics For Wednesday 1st of July



Another Convention weekend comes and goes and we hope everyone had a great time at this year's OZ Comic Con. We had a fantastic time ourselves playing host to a team of local creators as part of our first ALL STAR ARTIST ASSEMBLY. Thank you to all that made it along to join in on the day and special thanks to all the creators, who at such short notice still managed to rally together and help support another one of our ideas. On top of that there was the most recent All Star Women's Comic Book Club meet up, which as always was amazing, while tonight sees the second meet of  The Melbourne LGBT Comic Book Group happening at the Hares and Hyenas in Fitzroy from 6:30, perfectly timed for the little bit of good news from the US the other day. :)

Phew! And we haven't even started on this week's books! Well here you go!

With the cliffhanger of #3, SECRET WARS #4 promises to be a massive smackdown! If ROM Space Knight was kinda your thing back in the day, ONYX #1 IDW's new armoured astrally adventurer is totally for you! Brian K Vaughn's latest outing, WE STAND ON GUARD #1 about a war torn Canada, under siege from US forces drawn by Steve Skroce will have you running for cover once the action starts! AUTUMNLANDS TP VOL 01 TOOTH & CLAW is Kurt Busiek written, stunningly drawn by Ben Dewey,  anthropomorphic magical wielding creature looking to for a savior in the form of a savage human? The last and possible the best of the new printings of Brubaker and Phillips' love song to noir, CRIMINAL TP VOL 06 LAST OF THE INNOCENT hits shelves. While of season break catch up with the further adventures of Marvel Agents by Mark Waid in SHIELD TP VOL 01 PERFECT BULLETS. Musically gifted, rich and famous, beautiful and powerful is all pretty swell until someone's head explodes, the deicide mystery continues in WICKED & DIVINE TP VOL 02 FANDEMONIUM. Gritty murder cases, racial racial inequalities, all in a fantasy world setting of BOOM's latest, SPIRE #1. Following suit on the fantasy front but mixing it with a solid dose of sci fi space opera from the mind of Brandon Graham is 8HOUSE ARCLIGHT #1. SUPREME BLUE ROSE TP will do your head in dealing with the woes of travelling between multiple realities from Warren Ellis and the alluring art Tula Lotay.

Find something else here you just gotta have, let us know and we'll get it sorted.

MARVEL
A-FORCE #2 SWA
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #19.1
DARTH VADER #7
DARTH VADER DIRECTORS CUT #1
FUTURE IMPERFECT #2 SWA
GIANT SIZE LITTLE MARVEL AVX #2 SWA
GROOT #2
GUARDIANS TEAM-UP #7
PRINCESS LEIA #5 (OF 5)
RED SKULL #1 (OF 3) SWA
SECRET WARS #4 (OF 8)
SECRET WARS JOURNAL #3 (OF 5) SWA
ULTIMATE END #3 (OF 5) SWA
UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #7
X-TINCTION AGENDA #2 SWA
YEARS OF FUTURE PAST #2 SWA

DC COMICS
ACTION COMICS #42 TEEN TITANS GO VAR ED
BAT MITE #2 (OF 6)
BATMAN ARKHAM KNIGHT #6
BATMAN BEYOND #2
BIZARRO #2 (OF 6)
DETECTIVE COMICS #42 TEEN TITANS GO VAR ED
FLASH SEASON ZERO #10
GREEN ARROW #42 TEEN TITANS GO VAR ED
GREEN LANTERN #42 TEEN TITANS GO VAR ED
HE MAN THE ETERNITY WAR #7
LOBO #8
MIDNIGHTER #2
MORTAL KOMBAT X #8
OMEGA MEN #2

VERTIGO
AMERICAN VAMPIRE SECOND CYCLE #8
FBP FEDERAL BUREAU OF PHYSICS #22
VERTIGO QUARTERLY SFX #2

BOOM
ADVENTURE TIME #41
ARCADIA #3
BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA #12
BROKEN WORLD #2 (OF 4)
CLUSTER #5
GIANT DAYS #4
HELP US GREAT WARRIOR #5
SPIRE #1 (OF 8)
UNCLE GRANDPA PIZZA STEVE SPECIAL #1
WOODS #14

DARK HORSE
AGE OF REPTILES ANCIENT EGYPTIANS #2 (OF 4)
ANGEL AND FAITH SEASON 10 #16
BALTIMORE CULT OF THE RED KING #3 (OF 5)
BARB WIRE #1
NEVERBOY #5 (OF 6)
WITCHER FOX CHILDREN #4 (OF 5)

DYNAMITE
BOBS BURGERS ONGOING #1
WILL EISNER SPIRIT #1

IDW
MIAMI VICE REMIX #5 (OF 5)
MICKEY MOUSE #1
MY LITTLE PONY FRIENDS FOREVER #18
ONYX #1 (OF 4)
TMNT NEW ANIMATED ADVENTURES #24
TMNT ONGOING #47
X-FILES SEASON 10 #25
ZOMBIES VS ROBOTS #7

IMAGE
8HOUSE ARCLIGHT #1
AIRBOY #2 (OF 4)
ATHENA IX ONE SHOT
CHEW #50
DEADLY CLASS #14
HUMANS #6
JUPITERS CIRCLE #4
MINIMUM WAGE SO MANY BAD DECISIONS #3 (OF 6)
NAILBITER #14
NO MERCY #4
ODDLY NORMAL #8
OUTCAST BY KIRKMAN & AZACETA #10
PUNKS THE COMIC CBLDF SPEC
SATELLITE SAM #15
VALHALLA MAD #2
WE STAND ON GUARD #1
WICKED & DIVINE #12
ZERO #18

MISC
BERLIN #19
BUNKER #12
CAPTAIN CANUCK 2015 ONGOING #2
DOCTOR WHO 12TH #9
FUTURAMA COMICS #75
GRANT MORRISONS 18 DAYS #1
IMPERIUM #6
PLUME V2 #4 (OF 4)
PUPPET MASTER #4
UBER #26
WAR STORIES #10
X-O MANOWAR #38

MAGAZINES
HEAVY METAL #275

TRADES
ABSOLUTE Y THE LAST MAN HC VOL 01
ADVENTURE TIME BANANA GUARD ACADEMY TP VOL 01
AQUAMAN HC VOL 06 MAELSTROM (N52)
AQUAMAN TP VOL 05 SEA OF STORMS
AUTUMNLANDS TP VOL 01 TOOTH & CLAW
AVENGERS TP VOL 06 INFINITE AVENGERS
BATMAN ARKHAM ORIGINS TP
CRIMINAL TP VOL 06 LAST OF THE INNOCENT
DAMOCLES GN VOL 01 BODYGUARDS
DMZ DELUXE EDITION HC BOOK 04
GFT WONDERLAND TP VOL 07
GUARDIANS OF GALAXY AND X-MEN HC BLACK VORTEX
LAST MAN GN VOL 02 ROYAL CUP
LONE WOLF & CUB OMNIBUS TP VOL 09
MONSTER MOTORS TP
REGULAR SHOW TP VOL 04
RUNAWAYS COMPLETE COLLECTION TP VOL 04
SAVED BY THE BELL TP VOL 01
SHIELD TP VOL 01 PERFECT BULLETS
STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION TP VOL 01 OLD REPUBLIC
SUPREME BLUE ROSE TP
THOR GOD OF THUNDER HC VOL 02
TRANSFORMERS TP DRIFT EMPIRE OF STONE
WICKED & DIVINE TP VOL 02 FANDEMONIUM

BACK IN STOCK
A-FORCE #1 SWA
BLACK CANARY #1
DEADPOOLS SECRET SECRET WARS #2 (OF 4) SWA
DR FATE #1
MARTIAN MANHUNTER #1
OLD MAN LOGAN #1 SWA
OLD MAN LOGAN #2 SWA
SECRET WARS BATTLEWORLD #1 (OF 4)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

ALL STAR RECOMMENDS FOR JUNE 23RD



Hi. My dog is on my lap.  It is very difficult to type like this…

If I have my dates right, this coming weekend should be Oz Comic Con Melbourne, and if you click that link and scroll down past the actors and voice actors and cosplay guests, you will find real life actual comics people attending a comics convention. Astounding, I know. Anyway, one of those comics-related-at-comic-con attendees will be Melbourne’s own Tristan Jones, who enjoyed a major milestone last week with the release of Mad Max: Fury Road: Furiosa (so: many: colons!)  in which he drew the adventures of everyone’s favourite Imperator. As there will likely be no pop culture figure as prominent this year as Furiosa you should go say hi and congratulate him on this massive achievement.

Also, as briefly mentioned last week, We Are Going To Bremen To Be Musicians rounded out my TCAF reading.  Written by Geoff Berner and illustrated and published by Tin Can Forest (Canadians Pat Shewchuk and Marek Colek) …Musicians is a beautiful retelling of the Grimm Brothers folktale, The Town Musicians of Bremen, in which an ageing donkey, dog, cat and rooster flee murder at the hands of their respective owners and, on a whim and with no prior experience, head to Bremen with the goal of becoming professional musicians. “Where did the idea come from?” the narration asks us, “No one knows. Where do donkeys usually get their ideas?”

…Musicians is a gorgeous looking and designed book, a hybrid of illustrated storybook and comics, with Tin Can Forest’s sumptuous art, inspired by “forests of Canada, Slavic art, and occult folklore,” difficult to pull your eyes away from. Keen not to be left behind by his collaborators, Berner’s writing bouncily carries the tale along, with plenty of whimsy and a fair bit of sass and the overall effect is one of total dreaminess – perfect for such a story. It’s available through the Tin Can Forest site and, really, I can’t say enough good things about it.


COMIC OF THE WEEK : TRASH MARKET
By Tadao Tsuge
Published by Drawn & Quarterly

From the darkest, most unlikely corners of post-war Japan, various pieces of lost, discarded, broken and destructive humanity have a light shone on their daily struggles in Tadao Tsuge’s Trash Market.  Edited and translated by Ryan Holmberg, Tsuge’s work gets its first, long overdue, English language collection. For six stories created between 1968 and 1972, Trash Market feels remarkably modern, exemplifying the seriousness and artistic progressiveness of much Gekiga (or “dramatic pictures”) of the period which, finally, western audiences can enjoy in ever increasing quantities thanks largely to publisher Drawn and Quarterly’s efforts.

Encountering early Gekiga is like cracking open a particularly evocative time capsule, enabling readers to transport themselves to a Japan struggling to reshape itself into something new, wrestling inter-generationally as westernisation creeps in and the strange split-personality (existing to this day) of a country existing in both past and present became readily apparent. As such, the book is high on melancholy and real-world darkness. In Tsuge’s work, Holmberg writes, “one finds male characters beset by anomie, festering resentment, traumatic memories and unspeakable guilt of the war.” They are the trash of the new Japan, these men, the waste of the old, as bombed down and destroyed as the streets of Tokyo’s “low city” (shitamachi) in which they are forced to live.

The thoroughly contemporary feel to Tsuge’s story structure would seem to spring from his process as much as the modern translation. As described by Holmberg: “He begins drawing with only a rough beginning, middle and end in mind, with no script or breakdowns.” This method of comics creation, likely terrifying to any western comic book editor, lends Tsuge’s work a highly literary short story structure, presenting snippets of lives dependant not necessarily on plot or action but simply on existence itself.  The work of Tsuge and his contemporaries (particularly that of Yoshihiro Tatsumi – please do seek out his Abandon The Old in Tokyo, The Push Cart Man and Other Stories and Good-Bye) have the feel of Dirty Realism about them, easily thirty years before this term was created to define a style of American writing. For Tsuge’s characters, there is no escape from this world, no pivot points in their stories, no respite. There is simply daily existence, a fraction of which we are invited to witness and much of it Tsuge himself experienced in his surprisingly colourful life.

In “Song of Showa,” young Tomeo (based on Tsuge if the essays at book’s end are any indication) witnesses frequent domestic violence and family turmoil. Crammed into a tiny abode, Tomeo’s mother struggles to keep the family together amidst poverty (Tomeo’s two brothers are not being paid for their work), mental illness (Tomeo’s father is violent, traumatised and receives the best of the family’s meals) and the values of old Japan (Tomeo’s Grandfather is violent and cruel, resenting his daughter, his son in law and grandsons). The streets are filled with criminals and prostitutes, yet young Tomeo is still able to snatch some joy from the activity and colour surrounding him despite the misery of his daily life. “Song of Showa” is both a heartbreaking story, refusing to allow Tomeo any respite, and an evocative portrait of “low city” existence.

The titular “Trash Market” is the longest story in the volume and is also clearly drawn from Tsuge’s life. One of numerous odd jobs Tsuge took to support himself during lean times was at a blood bank, where cash was paid to blood donors and hygiene appears to have not been an utmost priority to staff. In fact, Tsuge contracted hepatitis during his stint working at the blood bank, for which he’s treated for to this very day.

“Trash Market” finds a group of petty criminals, Navy vets, former tutors, labourers and burn-outs of all sorts queuing at a blood bank to donate their blood for cash. They pass the time and attempt to ignore the stifling heat by swapping lewd tales of sexual encounters that may or may not be factual, insulting one another and generally keeping each other amused any way they can. Many of these characters have clearly made an occupation out of their visits to the bank, becoming, in essence, professional donors.The interactions of those awaiting their turn is the sole focus of the story and, aside from a brief sequence inside the blood bank itself where a donor flirts with a nurse, the exterior is the story’s sole location.

“Trash Market” is a portrait of those brought low by circumstance and poverty, yet who are able to find humour and warmth in each other’s company. You’ll probably feel like you’re there amongst them, cringing at their jokes and wincing at their actions. All are equal at the blood bank – the tutor, the labourer and everyone in between. A camaraderie borne of equality at the lowest rung of the class ladder exists amongst this misfit crew, and each ekes out as much very literal blood money as health and regulation will allow.

With four more stories of equal merit and fascinating supplementary material included,Trash Market is highly recommended for readers with an interest not just in Japan, but also for those interested in structure and the thoroughly Literary possibilities of the form. It’s also a powerful depiction of a fascinating time in a most fascinating country. Hopefully, further volumes compiling the work of Tsuge’s offbeat social realist are forthcoming. His work does not make for the most superficially enjoyable trip to Comics Japan you’ll ever take, but definitely one of the more eye opening.


WEBCOMIC OF THE WEEK : FORMAL SWEATPANTS
By Josh Mecouch


For a weekly webcomic featuring short, standalone gag strips, the “funny ha-ha” strike rate of Formal Sweatpants is remarkably high. Mad contributor Josh Mecouch has a warped sense of humour and a healthy streak of goofiness that populates his comics along with thickly-lined, frequently grotesque animal, vegetable and human characters.

Highlights include “Gerard,”“Little Baby Carrot,” “Halloween Party” and “Spider Web” but really, you can’t go too far wrong here. Start with Popular Pants, work your way through and then hit Random. You’ll find it pretty easy to tear through the site’s content and even at its worst it’s still odds on you’ll at least get a smile. As I’ve mentioned before, gag strips are incredibly difficult to pull off regularly but Mecouch may well disagree – there’s an amazing amount of humour packed into Formal Sweatpants and, all in all, he makes it look pretty easy.




COMICS VIDEO OF THE WEEK : INKSTUDS WITH BRANDON GRAHAM

Brandon Graham draws a raccoon in a car. I think that’s all you need to know.



See you next week. Love your comics.


Cameron Ashley spends a lot of time writing comics and other things you’ll likely never read. He’s the chief editor and co-publisher of Crime Factory (www.thecrimefactory.com). You can reach him @cjamesashley on Twitter.