Tuesday, September 1, 2015

ALL STAR RECOMMENDS THE BECKY CLOONAN EDITION



Rover, wanderer, nomad, vagabond.

It’s right there in both her twitter bio and at her website, ripped from a Metallica song, all you need to know about Becky Cloonan.  Born in Italy, she’s rested her head for most of her life in parts of the US and Canada but she’s constantly on the move, firing muskets with 2000AD’s Mike Molcher in England one week, hanging out with beardy metallers in the Netherlands the next, and most recently, spotting platypi in Queensland. Clearly, this wanderlust is a vital part of her life. More than that, however, it could also sum up her approach to her work, her art and her craft.

Hauling her backpack from Gotham’s private schools, to the wilds of the Hyborian Age, to the achingly real lives of the super-powered down and out, to Castle Dracula, to a flooded future New York filled with punk rock pirates, to 12th century Iceland, to way, wayout there in the cosmos aboard haunted space vessels, to creaky old apartment buildings afflicted with supernatural terror, to Gothic fantasy realms filled with desperate, broken-hearted lovers, Cloonan’s “Where I’ve Been” genre-map is marked with so many pins you’ll barely see any terrain beneath them. There is literally no type of story that she won’t curl up in and make her own, staying there until some new idea-constellation draws her attention away and off she sails once more.

She roams many worlds, this Becky Cloonan, so let’s visit a few of her destinations. While by no means comprehensive, I’ve tried to cover as much ground as possible. If I’ve omitted your favourite Cloonan comic (and there are a number) my apologies, but at least I’ve saved something for when she returns…

COMICS OF THE WEEK : BY CHANCE OR PROVIDENCE, CONAN THE BARBARIAN, DEMO, DRACULA, EAST COAST RISING, GOTHAM ACADEMY, NORTHLANDERS: THE GIRL IN THE ICE, PIXU, SOUTHERN CROSS
By Becky Cloonan & Friends
Published By a bunch of folks

The first twelve-issue run of Demo began back in 2003, marking it in many ways as the prototype of a style of comic so very popular now in 2015. An exploration of diverse super-powered youth, stripped of costumes, archenemies and mega-crossovers, Demo went low-fi (as its title suggests) with its super-theatrics, containing its stories and all of its characters into single issues where, more often than not, powers were completely incidental to plot. Demo is about outsiders, their lives, their loves, their ordinariness and lays all this out on its black and white pages in downbeat, dramatic fashion – the gloominess, but heartfelt truth of teen angst stripped bare.

Although lacking the refinement of her later work, Demo clearly marked Cloonan as one to watch and watch closely. Cloonan, bravely for such a relatively new artist at the time, shows serious artistic dexterity, altering her artwork from story to story, sometimes subtly, sometimes radically, from shoujo-esque big-eyed manga characters, to Paul Pope-like urban waifs of thick lines and flowing hair, to characters so inky and reduced in feature they almost look like they are printed from woodcuts.

Her gift with facial expression is already on display here. Look at the below. Has there ever been a more perfect depiction of honesty in a character’s face rendered with so few lines?



Vertigo re-published the series in 2008 and it would only be a few years later that a second, six issue volume appeared from the publisher. 2011’s Demo Volume Two doesn’t skip a beat yet is, overall, far more optimistic in its story resolutions and is fuelled by much less teen angst in general tone. Cloonan again mixes it up from issue to issue and shows the refinement that the intervening years of hard work and craft provided.  Now both volumes are available in a single collection from Dark Horse, making for well over 400 pages of this highly influential gem from a period where indie and mainstream comics really began to bleed together significantly.

East Coast Rising, written and drawn by Cloonan, came and went in 2006 as a single volume from Tokyopop. It garnered an Eisner nomination for best new series and yet somehow never returned to bookshelves ever again thanks to Tokyopop cancelling the series and leaving its creator with ¾ of its second volume actually completed yet never to be printed. Fuck you very much, Tokyopop…

For my money, East Coast Rising shines as a rare, true example of westernised shonen manga done right. There is no artifice to …Rising, with Cloonan giving her natural early inclinations towards manga and Paul Pope a freer reign, yet never losing sight of her individuality in the process. It’s ridiculously fast paced, with the manga format allowing for long, expansive action sequences and multiple double-page spreads. The tones by Vasilis Lolos are superb, adding depth to the art and that extra dab of manganess complimenting Cloonan’s thick, inky lines perfectly.

Set in a future, flooded New York, …Rising is focused on a young boy named Archer who survives the destruction of his original vessel by pirates aboard the feared ship Hoboken. Rescued from the depths by the crew of the La Revancha, Archer reveals that the crew of the Hoboken also stole his map – a map leading to a legendary cache of treasure formerly belonging to a long-dead mayor. With its punk-rock pirates, snapping turtle kaiju, skull-faced death kraken, ship battles and lost treasure, …Rising rollicks along, with perhaps its only flaw being that so many characters are introduced they have a tendency to get lost in the shuffle during its sprawling, lengthy, multi-person chases and battles.

Ending on a major cliffhanger, it’s a true shame the series was never continued, as its bouncy energy, streak of adventure, gorgeous vessel design and overall sense of fun are quite contagious. My own copy is beaten and exposure-yellowed from frequent flip throughs and readings. Cloonan would soon get pretty serious with her writing, for the most part ditching the fun YA shonen aesthetic permeating …Rising. It would return, however, nearly a decade later and prove not only critically welcomed, but commercially viable.

In 2008, Cloonan, Fabio Moon, Gabriel Ba, Raphael Grampa and Vasilis Lolos won the Eisner award for Best Anthology with their self-published comic, 5. I’ve sadly never so much as even glimpsed a copy of and as such am halfway convinced it never existed in the first place, so let’s move on to the next effort by this group (sans Grampa, unfortunately), Pixu, a grey-toned horror graphic novel published by Dark Horse in 2009.

One of the more successful efforts at creating supernatural dread on the comics page, Pixu updates the old weird fiction trope of old houses and institutions as supernatural hotspots. Rather than conjuring strangeness and horror through “alien” creatures/gods of interdimensional origin, as in the work of Lovecraft and Hope Hodgson for example, in Pixu the horror is still supernatural and rooted on site but instead manifests itself in very human ways – obsessions with cleanliness, compulsive behaviours, fraying relationships, buried secrets and the hidden perversities of its cast.

Set in an old, dank mansion converted into apartments, each creator features his/her own character(s) for the most part of the story, breaking down their characters’ sanity slowly as the exterior evil, shown in inky, splotchy tendrils creeping into panel, and blotches of mould on ceilings, tries to burrow its way not just into the house, but into their souls. Character arcs begin to intertwine as the creepiness ramps up, with death, mutilation and immolation awaiting all.

A wonder of multi-person co-creation, Pixu is surprisingly subtle despite the grisliness of its last third. It becomes something of a Pinhead puzzlebox of a comic, asking readers to bring the dark parts of their own imaginations to the table to help open it up and construct narrative meaning and sense. Multiple explanations and motivations are there for the taking, all depending on just how dark you’re willing to go.

Cloonan’s character, Claire, vomiting on her boyfriend Omar right before she serves him up a bowl of soup filled with shards of her own bloodied fingernails, is just a sliver of the unnerving oddness within this black and white triumph of atmospherics over exposition.

“The Girl In The Ice,” (2011) a Cloonan-drawn, two part story from issues 35 and 36 of Brian Wood’s brilliant, much missed Viking anthology series, Northlanders, is the gloomy, downbeat tale of an old hermit whose land is caught in a turf war between warring clans. When he finds a dead girl’s body frozen in the ice beneath him, his curiosity about her demise and his genuine concern for her fate has him hacking her corpse from its frozen grave. Bringing the girl’s body home, he plays armchair coroner and quickly suspects foul play -- “a crime of empowered men in a lawless land.” When he receives news that soldiers are to be posted at his home, however, he must return the girl to the ice before they arrive, or face the inevitable accusations of his role in her death.

Cloonan’s art showcases both Iceland’s snow-capped mountains rolling ever onward in panoramic blue-tinged panels and the lines of weariness carved into our old man’s face, the marks of a life hard-lived, with equal skill and care. It’s her gift with expression that bonds us to this poor fellow so quickly, the sadness in his heavy-lidded eyes, alternating with fury at the girl’s circumstance and the soldiers’ arrogance. Becky humanises him beautifully and as the story of this “old man who only wanted to know the truth” heads towards its inevitable end, Cloonan’s art deftly, poetically reminds us that the harshness of this land is equally matched by the harshness of ourinner character.

While not comics, I’d be remiss not to mention the illustrations Cloonan provided for a 2012 Harper Collins release of Bram Stoker’s Dracula as it shows off the artist’s work at its most lavish and design-orientated. Full-page colour illustrations and spot illustrations running horizontally down the page accompany the complete text to Stoker’s classic. Cloonan’s Count is as handsome as you’d expect with her giving him life, even as his eyes are rimmed red and his white shirt blood-spattered. The sensuousness of Stoker’s story and his characters’ seductive abilities are on full display, without the cheesiness inherent to many such attempts at sexing up the story visually. I mean, just look at this:


It’s really the only version of Dracula you’ll ever need to own.

In 2012, Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan were tasked with relaunching Conan The Barbarian for Dark Horse, putting this former indie team, now bona fide mainstream stars, back together one more time. It was an inspired choice, with Wood busting out his pulp chops and Cloonan bringing the swoon to everyone’s favourite Cimmerian. With Dave Stewart’s moody colours perfectly suited to what, in my opinion, is Cloonan’s finest sequential art to date in issues 1-3, the team made quite the splash with The Queen of the Black Coast, which introduced to the Dark Horse run of Conan one of the most enduring characters of Hyborean mythos – Belit.

However, as celebrated as the book was when it launched, there were also numerous and vocal criticisms plaguing it. The vision that many a mouth-breathing Robert E. Howard obsessive had of their favourite loincloth wearing barbarian with his hyper masculine, musclebound physique, simply did not gel with Cloonan’s youthful, handsome, more realistically proportioned and sinewy warrior.

It was bizarre. I love John Buscema’s Conan probably more than a straight guy should, but Cloonan’s Conan, with his smiles, eye-glints and the enthusiasm of a man with the thrill of travel and adventure in his blood, is a complete breath of fresh air. He is very much alive, Cloonan’s Conan, and I could haggle with Howard purists all day about the “authenticity” of her depiction, but really, this Conan feels like flesh and blood to me (which is the problem for many), a man whose passion for both adventure and Belit feels real.

And it’s with Belit that things get really interesting, for Cloonan’s Belit is near spectral in appearance. She’s the myth here, not Conan, virtually translucent in skin tone, raven-haired, lithe, strong and possessed of intelligence demonstrated not only through her words but through a mere look.  It all feels far more believable to me. Conan, this titan of a young man, needs to fall for someone more striking than himself, a figure more mythical, more beautiful, someone almost post-human in physicality and femininity. Behold!



Collecting her three efforts self-published between 2011-2013, the tales in By Chance or Providence bring the seriousness to Cloonan’s writing, a real sense that sleeves were rolled up with the itch to prove something, most likely to herself rather than her readers.

“The Mire” won her an Eisner in 2012, but all three of these efforts are superb and wonderfully varied in their atmospherics.  All three stories are essentially fantastical, brooding love stories with dashes of uncensored Grimm, The Romantics, ancient myth and Shakespearean tragedy dosed into their sumptuous grey-toned pages. My personal favourite, by a hair, would be 2013’s “Demeter.”

Named after the Greek Goddess of the Harvest, “Demeter” follows Anna who toils long and hard on the land but loses her lover to the sea.  The lengths that Anna will go to in order to save her doomed romance forms the emotional core of the tale, even as she dares to “rise to meet” the waves should they intrude on her land-bound life. Wonderful stuff.

“Wolves” (2011) is the most overtly horror of the trio with it’s tale of a hunter paid to kill a werewolf who is in fact his lover. It’s all shadow and moonlight, monster and sword and the obviousness of its plot does nothing at all to diminish the power of its ultimate reveal and the subsequent transformation of the hunter into a lone wolf of the forest, naked, carrying naught but the knowledge that the coming full moon will bring not transformation but something far worse – memory and guilt and the pain of lost love.

The Eisner-winning “The Mire” is mostly set in murk and on haunted ground, with its young squire protagonist bearing a letter that unknowingly contains the details of his own origins through a stretch of swampy, supernatural land called The Withering which is haunted by a territorial, skull-faced spirit.

Cloonan’s command of short-form comics is on full display in this trio of stories. All three feel expansive and fully realised despite the relative shortness of their page count. Her pacing is on point throughout them all and, point proved, Eisner collected, she moved on yet again.

It really should not have taken this long to get a book like Gotham Academy out. It seems like such a no-brainer and there’s a part of me that’s actually a little surprised the title isn’t 100 issues old yet. However, 2014 was the year this ongoing book finally appeared, featuring a cast of multi-cultural teens and their day-to-day lives at Gotham’s premier private school. This being Gotham however, the notion of “day to day” is hardly normal.

Co-written by Cloonan and Brendan Fletcher and beautifully illustrated by Karl Kerschl, the team’s bubbly characters – Olive, Maps, Kyle, Colton and co. -bounce their way through class and after-school adventure with a manga-esque fluidity and such richness of colour that the panels actually resemble clipped animation cells pasted onto the page. These quirky characters, juxtaposed with the austere, traditional school buildings and grounds, breathe a big burst of fun back into the Batverse, something that’s been generally missing since the New 52 initiative started.

Tonally, it’s the return to East Coast Rising that I mentioned earlier with unfolding mystery in place of lengthy widescreen action sequences. There’s so much to love here – The Cobblepot family as both History Class material and engine of the mystery, an unnamed student yawning during Bruce Wayne’s speech, Aunt Harriet (!) and the academy’s never-ending secret passageways and tunnels. The comparison to Harry Potter is perhaps inevitable and somewhat apt (provided even by Cloonan herself), but with its old cemeteries, rumours of ghosts, Lovecraftian incantations and secret maps, I find it more Mystery Machine than Hogwarts. Fittingly spooky mysteries rooted in Gotham’s history, characters and mythology propel the book forward and cause its charming, “meddling” teenage detectives to frequently allow their curiosity and adventurous streaks to get the best of their common sense.

In a Bat-era where a villain like Mr Freeze has had his complexity and the tragedy of his origin stripped from him, making him just another psycho for Batman to punch, Gotham Academy even has the balls to cast Killer Croc in a sympathetic light and Batman in the role of antagonist. Packed full of Easter eggs for Batman trainspotters, the creative team do not forget that their title also needs to function as a teen drama. The creators slowly, patiently reveal more and more about their cast, their histories and their intertwined relationships, and in the process create perhaps pound for pound the single best book DC currently publishes.

Sadly, we now conclude our journey into the creative worlds of Becky Cloonan by joining Alex Braith on her five-day trip on the Southern Cross, a huge spaceship bound for the moon of Titan. Alex searches for answers to the mysterious death of her sister Amber, who worked for a shady corporation drilling for oil on Titan. Written by Cloonan and drawn by Andy Belanger, Southern Cross is four issues old as I write this, a weird-fiction tinged, deep space mystery, a fantastically oddball slice of comics SF from Image Comics. The Southern Cross itself resembles theYamato from Star Blazers gone haunted and industrial, its staff and passengers look like refugees from the grungy Euro SF pages of Jean-Marc Rochette’s Snowpiercer. It looks tremendous.

Belanger’s clearly having a blast here, with the design of the ship itself and its interiors, as well as the especially starry cosmos swirling about it, beautifully realised. His cross-sections of tube-filled hallways and various levels add extra claustrophobia to this story – a nice little cherry of anxiety on top of this narrative mound of paranoia and building insanity. Lee Loughridge’s colours deserve a mention here too, enhancing the artificiality of the ship’s light through his use of neon pinks, yellows, greens and Blade Runner blues. 

Cloonan’s well-plotted mystery ticks along, eager but in no great hurry, as all good mysteries should behave. Her cliffhangers are weird, horrific, compelling and increasingly psychedelic and Belanger’s layouts become more broken and fractal to match them.

Another mysterious death aboard the Southern Cross is revealed and Alex’s supernatural encounters increase.  All the while, the mysterious gravity drive ominously WHUMS like something lost from Kirby’s Fourth World due to malfunction, possession or omniscience…

“That’ll be fifty GCPs,” says a dodgy drug-dealer who doses Alex’s eyes with a psychedelic drug of truly cosmic, dimension-bursting properties.

“Keep it,” Alex says, handing over a stack of bills. “Where I’m going I won’t need it.”

And here we end. At a cliffhanger. With a promise that in less than thirty days, Becky Cloonan is going somewhere else. The good news is, as with most of her trips, she’s going to be taking us with her.




WEBCOMIC OF THE WEEK : COMIC ATTACK-BECKY CLOONAN

Hopefully one day, Comic Attack, Becky Cloonan’s semi-autobio…errr…kinda-autobi…errr…well her comic strips featuring herself, are put in their own dedicated spot so we can just click on over and enjoy her adventures baking zucchini bread, running from dinosaurs, forming dance posses and being romanced by Putin one after the other until the end of time. Until then, click on over to her Deviant Art page and enjoy.






COMICS VIDEO OF THE WEEK: ORBITAL COMICS PRESENTS: GOTHAM ACADEMY DIRECTOR’S COMMENTARY WITH BECKY CLOONAN

Another one for process nerds! Thanks to Orbital Comics London, here’s Becky Cloonan, in front of a charmed audience, pulling Gotham Academy #1 apart to reveal its mechanics and its super-sweet centre. A wonderful look at the collaborative spirit behind the title, this hour long video might ease the pain of those unable to attend either this Friday or Saturday when Becky holds court at All Star.





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, August 31, 2015

New Comics For Wednesday 2nd of September




So...anyone else excited to meet BECKY CLOONAN is weekend!?!? If you are anything like us, you can barely contain yourselves. For those of you have yet to hear, comic creator supreme, Becky Cloonan will be joining us in store for a Signing and Q and A session this Saturday 5th of September, 12pm to 4pm for the signing, then 4:15pm until 5pm for the Q and A. This is massive and we could not be more excited and honoured to have Becky here.

But until then, we need to calm down and address to immediate task ahead of us...this week's comics!

Celebrating 50 years of Marvel most secret, not secret peace keeping and spy agency starts this week with MOCKINGBIRD SHIELD 50TH ANNIVERSARY #1. Jeff Lemire's Stand By Me/superhero mash up starts up with PLUTONA #1. Long out of print of reasons unknown, you got to check out Mignola on Aliens with the ALIENS SALVATION HC. The runaway hit that will appeal to Long Kiss Goodnight fans, LADY KILLER TP hits the target this week. The continuing mystery of the serial killer hometown USA, NAILBITER TP VOL 03 BLOOD IN THE WATER stirs up more creepy stories. DEADPOOL VS THANOS #1, huh? ALIENS VAMPIRELLA #1, ehh, what? The three fates of the Bard's Macbeth take centre stage in this tale of sibling rivalry with TOIL & TROUBLE #1. Seen that movie Argo? Well in the real story the production art of the fake movie that was a CIA operation was drawn by JACK KIRBY, rarely seen before now reprinted in HEAVY METAL #276. Before Netflix make her a internet hit, check out the tales the new show will be based on in Bendis' JESSICA JONES TP VOL 01 ALIAS. The team behind Image's LOW, Remender and Tocchini get an new collection of their original new age crime noir tale out with LAST DAYS OF AMERICAN CRIME HC. Hit at the cinema, sell out comics, now a trade collection for MAD MAX FURY ROAD TP.

Plenty to keep us all busy until we meet Becky on Saturday. AnythingelseyouneedjustletusknowokbyeWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

  
MARVEL
AGE OF APOCALYPSE #3 SWA
AGE OF ULTRON VS MARVEL ZOMBIES #4 SWA
DAREDEVIL #18
DARK TOWER DRAWING OF THREE LADY OF SHADOWS #1 (OF 5)
DEADPOOL VS THANOS #1 (OF 4)
FIGMENT 2 #1 (OF 5)
FUTURE IMPERFECT #5 SWA
GROOT #4
HAIL HYDRA #2 SWA
HOUSE OF M #2 SWA
MIRACLEMAN BY GAIMAN AND BUCKINGHAM #1
MOCKINGBIRD SHIELD 50TH ANNIVERSARY #1
SILK #7 SWA
SILVER SURFER #14 SWA
SPIDER-ISLAND #3 (OF 5) SWA
SQUADRON SINISTER #3 SWA
STAR-LORD AND KITTY PRYDE #3 SWA
THORS #3 SWA

DC COMICS
BAT MITE #4 (OF 6)
BATMAN ARKHAM KNIGHT #8
BATMAN BEYOND #4 GREEN LANTERN 75 VAR ED
DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS #2
DETECTIVE COMICS #44 GREEN LANTERN 75 VAR ED
FLASH SEASON ZERO #12
GREEN ARROW #44 GREEN LANTERN 75 VAR ED
GREEN LANTERN #44 GREEN LANTERN 75 VAR ED
INJUSTICE GODS AMONG US YEAR FOUR #9
LOBO #10
MAD MAGAZINE #535
MIDNIGHTER #4
MORTAL KOMBAT X #10
OMEGA MEN #4

VERTIGO
FBP FEDERAL BUREAU OF PHYSICS #24

BOOM
ADVENTURE TIME #43
BROKEN WORLD #4 (OF 4)
CLUSTER #7
JOHN FLOOD #2
OVER THE GARDEN WALL #1
TOIL & TROUBLE #1 (OF 6)
WOODS #16

DARK HORSE
ADAM.3 #2 (OF 5)
AGE OF REPTILES ANCIENT EGYPTIANS #4 (OF 4)
ANGEL AND FAITH SEASON 10 #18
BALTIMORE CULT OF THE RED KING #5 (OF 5)
BARB WIRE #3
NEGATIVE SPACE #1 (OF 4)
THIS DAMNED BAND #2 (OF 6)
ZODIAC STARFORCE #1

DYNAMITE
ALIENS VAMPIRELLA #1 (OF 6)
BOBS BURGERS ONGOING #3

IDW
DANGER GIRL RENEGADE #1 (OF 4)
JEM & THE HOLOGRAMS #6
TRANSFORMERS MORE THAN MEETS EYE #44

IMAGE
8HOUSE #3 KIEM PART ONE
BEYOND BELIEF #2
CASANOVA ACEDIA #4
DARK CORRIDOR #2
DYING AND THE DEAD #3
EMPTY #6
JUPITERS CIRCLE #6
LAZARUS #19
MATERIAL #4
MINIMUM WAGE SO MANY BAD DECISIONS #5 (OF 6)
PLUTONA #1
POSEIDON IX ONE SHOT
WE STAND ON GUARD #3

MISC
ANNE BONNIE #5
DOCTOR WHO 10TH #15
DOCTOR WHO 2015 FOUR DOCTORS #4 (OF 5)
EVIL DEAD 2 #2 (OF 3) BEYOND DEAD BY DAWN
EVIL DEAD 2 TALES OF THE EXMORTIS #1
FUTURAMA COMICS #76
GRANT MORRISONS 18 DAYS #3
IMPERIUM #8
INVADER ZIM #2
JIMBO JONES #1 (ONE SHOT)
PROVIDENCE #4 (OF 12)
RACHEL RISING #36
WAR STORIES #12
X-O MANOWAR #40

MAGAZINES
HEAVY METAL #276

TRADES
ALIENS SALVATION HC
ALL NEW X-MEN HC VOL 02
AQUAMAN SUB DIEGO TP
AVENGERS BY JONATHAN HICKMAN HC VOL 02
CHICAGO HC
CONAN HC VOL 18 DAMNED HORDE
DC SUPER HEROES ORIGAMI 46 FOLDING PROJECTS SC
DISNEY ROSA DUCK LIBRARY HC VOL 03 TREASURE UNDER
DRAGONS RIDERS OF BERK GN VOL 06 UNDERWORLD
FAMILY PETS GN
FLASH TP VOL 05 HISTORY LESSONS (N52)
GIGANT HC
GROO FRIENDS AND FOES TP VOL 01
HOME TP VOL 01 (OF 2)
JESSICA JONES TP VOL 01 ALIAS
JIM BUTCHER DRESDEN FILES OMNIBUS TP VOL 01
LADY KILLER TP
LARP TP VOL 01 (C: 0-1-2)
LAST DAYS OF AMERICAN CRIME HC
LEGEND KORRA ART ANIMATED SERIES HC BOOK 04 BALANCE
MAD MAX FURY ROAD TP
MARCH GRAND PRIX COMP GN FAST & FURRIEST
NAILBITER TP VOL 03 BLOOD IN THE WATER
NEW 52 FUTURES END TP VOL 03
POKEMON XY GN VOL 04
SACRED HEART GN
SAMURAI JACK TP VOL 04 WARRIOR KING
SKYLANDERS RIFT INTO OVERDRIVE HC
SUICIDE SQUAD TP VOL 01 TRIAL BY FIRE NEW ED
SWEET TOOTH DELUXE ED HC BOOK 01
WONDER WOMAN HC VOL 07 WAR TORN
WONDER WOMAN TP VOL 06 BONES (N52)
Z WORD HC

MERCH
BATMAN BLACK & WHITE DICK GRAYSON BY JOCK 2ND ED STATUE
FLASH TV STATUE
LUMBERJANES HOLY KITTEN PLUSH
SUPERMAN MAN OF STEEL STATUE BY CULLY HAMNER

BACK IN STOCK
CIVIL WAR #1 SWA
CIVIL WAR #2 SWA
GUARDIANS OF KNOWHERE #3 SWA
INVADER ZIM #1 2ND PTG
RICK & MORTY #1 3RD PTG
SECRET WARS 2099 #3 (OF 5) SWA

Thursday, August 27, 2015

PIXELS PREVIEW SCREENING DOUBLE PASS GIVEAWAY!


In Pixels, when intergalactic aliens misinterpret video-feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war against them, they attack the Earth, using the games as models for their various assaults. President Will Cooper (James) has to call on his childhood best friend, ’80s video game champion Sam Brenner (Sandler), now a home theater installer, to lead a team of old-school arcaders (Dinklage and Gad) to defeat the aliens and save the planet. Joining them is Lt. Col. Violet Van Patten (Monaghan) a specialist supplying the arcaders with unique weapons to fight the aliens.

Thanks to those arcade wizards at Sony Pictures and Pixels, in cinemas September 10th, we have 10 Double Pass to the Preview Screening of Pixels at Hoyts Melbourne Central on Sunday 6th September at 11am.

To go into the draw for your chance to win all you need to do is tell us, "If you had to play one classic 80's/90's video game for the survival of the human race which game would you have the best chance of "clocking", hence defending the earth?"

SPECIAL NOTE: As this prize is for a specific time and date, please only enter if you can attend the screening.

Terms and Conditions:

Only entries made via 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 Tuesday the 1st of September and winners will be announced Wednesday the 2nd.
Tickets will be available to pick up from the store and with valid ID.


Again thanks to Sony Pictures and Pixels. Only at the Movies! September 10.

www.PixelsMovie.com.au
PIXELS © 2015 CTMG. Other IP TM & © 2015 of applicable property owners. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

ALL STAR RECOMMENDS FOR AUGUST 25TH



Hi there,

Lots of things to get through this week, so onward as I steal the format from old Marvel Bullpen Bulletins!

ITEM! As I’m sure you’re sadly aware, TVs Batgirl, Yvonne Craig, died last week at the age of 78. While I always found Catwoman (whomever was playing her) more appealing than Batgirl (calling Dr Freud!), Yvonne Craig’s effervescent presence on the show was always more than welcomed. As noted by news sources everywhere, she also tried to kill Kirk in Star Trek and kissed Elvis in movies, so I think we can all consider that a life pretty much full of triumph. Rest in peace, Ms Craig, thank you for your hard work and ever-enthusiastic portrayal of our beloved Babs Gordon. See this week’s Comics Video for a wee treat with Ms Craig in full Feminist Icon Batgirl mode acting in a clip you may not have ever seen…

ITEM! In honour of the mighty Becky Cloonan visiting our shores, our state and, yes, our favourite shop on September 4th and 5th, next week this particularly long-serving Cloonanite will present an all-Cloonan column. How many more times can I write “Cloonan?” We’ll all find out next week, but I’m wagering my Cloonan collection that it will be a lot. Bust out your Shiraz and get ready to go deep, brothers and sisters, into the work of this high priestess of the four-colour form…

ITEM! Your help desperately needed! Did anyone else out there read Vertigo’s collection of The Names by Peter Milligan and Leandro Fernandez last week? If so, please, please leave a comment or tweet me or write me a letter and drop it off in-store, or come over to my house with scotch and cookies and a suave therapist’s chaise lounge because I have been unable to stop thinking about it for days now. Just what the hell is this thing? Is it brilliant? Is it terrible? I honestly have no idea.

Vertigo has been described many times as the HBO of comics. Yet The Names, with its forced expository dialogue, bewildering structure, ludicrous character interactions, baffling sequences, but yet genuinely compelling cliffhangers, recalls instead the thoroughly cheeseball efforts of American network television, like The Following or 24 or CSI: Whatever. I became so convinced of Milligan’s intent to bring this cornball TV aesthetic to comics that I started Googling and actually found this interview with the writer, in which he says, “I wanted [The Names] to feel like one of those fast-moving, complex TV shows.” Indeed, even as I sat there reading it and shaking my head at how silly it was, I found myself reaching for a non-existent box of popcorn and flipping the pages ever faster, constantly unsure of which end of the good-bad spectrum this comic fell under…a state in which I tragically remain.

Fernandez is, as ever, brilliant and really carries the load here. If you were to flip through the book without reading any of it, it would probably be an instant buy for anyone who likes their comics shadowy, their characters stylised, their layouts imaginative.

Cantered around Katya Walker, a young widow obsessed with finding out the truth behind her rich husband’s alleged “suicide,” The Names sees Katya spiralling into a complex and paranoid plot featuring a group of stock market manipulators called The Names which is filled with assassins, in-fighting and transparently evil one-percenters. This would all be complex enough, but throw in the fact that the algorithms used by The Names to manipulate the markets are becoming not only sentient, but also able to infect flesh and blood humans and the comic becomes stuffed full of more “High Concept” than a two hour pitching session at Writers Victoria.

The Names is either a brilliant satire of high concept action TV shows and financial thrillers or it’s a surprisingly schlocky and amateurish work by a hugely accomplished writer. I really, truly have no idea. Either way, make no mistake, it’s totally recommended. You’ll likely either love it, or find it as bizarrely compelling as something like Neal Adams’ bonkers, so-bad-it’s-amazing Batman: Odyssey or the hilariously terrible Dexter: Down Under.

ITEM! Last week’s promised discussion of Savers-bought Diabolik fumetti is delayed due to brain poisoning by Peter Milligan and Leandro Fernandez. Come back in two weeks for discussion of that.

Spoiler – this sums up my general feelings towards said Diabolik comics:





COMIC OF THE WEEK : MOX NOX
By Juan Cornella
Published By Fantagraphics

Looking like a Little Golden Book designed by Satan, with a spine of explosions and guns and blood in place of cute Disneyfied animals and flora, the print collection of Joan Cornella’s Mox Nox arrived in store last week. 56 pages long, Mox Nox features grotesque six panel gag strips that are so hideously, hilariously wrong Mrs Ashley actually said, “Stop showing me this stuff!” even as she laughed guiltily and pretended not to be interested when I ran back up to her and shoved another page under her poor eyeballs.

Cornella’s work proves that there is no limit to human stupidity, cruelty and dysfunction, but his gift is to render all this with such undeniable humour that you’ll find yourself giggling along with the unending parade of psychopaths -- many of whom clearly believe they are doing the right thing -- populating his surreal strips and are presented with such colourfully warped glee.

The cover is a perfect example of the comics within – a cute brown bear peels its face off as if a mask, revealing a pink-skinned cartoony approximation of a bear underneath, its anthropomorphism warped, perverted, re-imagined with a madman’s off-kilter sense of what relatable adorableness actually looks like. The pages within are filled with similarly grotesque and grinning humans, animals and things in-between engaging in all manner of taboo-smashing awfulness (take that, Crossed!). Murder, maiming, death, aberrant and deviant sexuality, it’s all here, presented with absolute relish and a genuine gift for comedic timing by the author.

It’s the characters’ bizarre sense of heroism that creates the best of Cornella’s punchlines. The strips are arguably at their most potent when clean cut white men rush to the aid of someone in distress only to amplify the horror of the situation and yet still walk away, blank-eyed and grinning, with self-satisfaction at a job well done.

At once wonderfully clever and supremely gross, Mox Nox comes highly recommended for the reader who likes their comics strange and their humour with a lot of bite. 



WEBCOMIC OF THE WEEK : PHANTOM HARVEST
By Claire Connelly

Halloween comes early as we welcome Claire Connolly back to this column. Her latest, Phantom Harvest, sees a bewildered hobo out late at night encountering an agriculturalist of unusual and supernatural origin…

Silent, colourful and quirky, Phantom Harvest is short and as such is tough to talk about without spoiling. It’s good fun, however, with the whiff of lost folklore about it – one can easily imagine the startled transient character endlessly telling everyone he meets riding the rails from city to city about the apparition he once sighted in a field out in Hicksville.

Rich colours, attractive character designs and terrific shot choice highlight this little comic and a splash page of the tale’s mystery farmer, standing shovel in hand, ominously backlit by a blood red moon above, is a terrific and somehow cute nod to a million backwoods horror movies. I’m fast becoming a big fan of Claire’s work and really look forward to seeing what she’s up to next.




COUNTDOWN TO MOZ METAL: HEAVY METAL SEPTEMBER 1977

Oh, this letters column! Packed with as much sass as Yvonne Craig in this week’s video! Between the responses to the stoned-to-the-gills missives received and jaw-droppingly crafted editorials (no, really, this issue’s is incredible), I wonder if I should just stop talking about the comics this magazine printed and type these text pieces out whole and unabridged…

One baffled but eager reader, S. Gredler, complains, “Some boxes did not flow i.e. pertaining to action. Some artwork could be more intricate. Some boxes could be smaller to allow more action…”

“You got us there, S.,” comes the snarky reply from editorial. You can almost hear the guffawing from the office as this letter was passed around along with the bong, echoing through the pages almost forty years later.

Anyway, on with the show.

“Quiet. I fear some beast prowls the catacombs.” Ulp. Yes, Corben’s “Den” continues as he and his ridiculous appendage traverse landscapes composed of orange and indigo and end up on the run from subterranean beasties. A quick digression – I read most of Grant Morrison and Frazer Irving’s Annihilator today and I’m struck by how if anyone is the likely inheritor of Corben, it’s Irving. On the surface, it’s likely a weird comparison to make, as the two artists are fairly dissimilar at first, second and likely third glance. Irving has no time for the hyper-masculine men and ultra-pneumatic women that litter Corben’s terrifying, bad trip weird fiction worlds, but both artists are possessed of singular visions, similar gift with hue and a seeming ease with the utter strangeness of their work. More on this when I visit Annihilator some time shortly. But back to HM! It’s September ’77 after all and this was a real ad:


Sergio Macedo’s wonderfully rad Psychorock stories conclude with “Orcyb” in which our rockers-turned naked space hippies traverse from their utopian, Garden of Eden space station, listening to a device which turns cosmic radiation into music, to battling Orcyb—our protagonist’s “shadow in the cosmos”—in unarmed combat, to the death. The denouement has the unfortunate whiff of Buck Rogers finale about it, with the whole battle being a “dream” caused by these far-out tunes man, but despite this, Psychorock still stands tall as a pretty happening piece of ‘70s cosmic comic books.

Also of note: “Polonius” by Picaret and Tardo continues, a short story by the legendary fantasist Roger Zelazny (If you are a fan of this kind of HM craziness and have not read Lord of Light, it’s highly recommended you do so), “Is There A Demon Lover in The House?” which sees Jack The Ripper visiting a movie theatre playing a snuff film, and a double-dose of Moebius, with the full colour “It’s a Small Universe,” and the lengthy. Black and white, “Major Fatal,” which introduces the character of Major Grubert one of the stars of possibly Moebius’ most enduring solo work, The Airtight Garage, which begins in earnest next issue. It is a given that both of these pieces are dreamy, stunningly illustrated and deserving of serious re-reading. The iconic image of Grubert, having apparently trophy hunted some monstrous reptile, adorns the back cover and this alone could be pored over for hours.




COMICS VIDEO OF THE WEEK : AS BATGIRL, YVONNE CRAIG FOUGHT FOR EQUAL PAY

By 1973, the Batman TV show was long gone and well on its way to being both somehow simultaneously derided and acting as a gateway drug for the next generation of comics readers (of which I absolutely was a part). I was born a year after this amazing advertisement, made by the U.S. Department of Labour (Wage and Hour Division), aired which makes me feel really quite old. In this 30-second video, a disgruntled, fired up Batgirl rescues a tied up Batman and Robin, stops a ticking time bomb and complains about her working conditions and wages. There’s some serious sass in Craig’s voice as she delivers the line, “Same job, same employer means equal pay for men AANNDD women.”

Amazing.

Thank you again, Yvonne Craig.



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, August 24, 2015

New Comics For Wednesday 26th of August




Another big week filled to the brim with comic goodness. The first stop is making sure you are down for our next local comic launch, THE SWEET COMICS LAUNCH! The launch is happening this Saturday the 29th from 1PM-4PM will see the release of 6 different books. Truly there is something for everyone in this lot and well worth your time to check out!

The second stop. The following Saturday 5th of September, with special thanks to Sugar City Con, we'll be doing our best not to lose our minds over presenting Becky Cloonan for a instore signing and Q and A session. Ah, so good!

Third stop...well Comics! So here's the list!

Finally after what seems a loooong wait in limbo, HELLBOY IN HELL #7 sees Big Red returns to the shelves! ZODIAC STARFORCE #1 is like a smash up derby of the style of JEM and with the friendship Lumberjanes, well worth the look in! Can DRIVE #1 based on the novel that inspired that incredible film be as cool as either versions that came before it? We are willing to find out. STRINGERS #1 gives us the gritty side behind newsreporting and getting framed. Finally back in print, Ellis and Immonen's classic tale of the NQR hero squad, NEXTWAVE AGENTS OF HATE COMPLETE COLLECTION TP is here to mess up your day. Revolutions never come easy and most times there is a bloody backstory to those who pursue them as we find out in INVISIBLE REPUBLIC TP VOL 01. It must be the gloomy time of year when we all put ourselves through the heartache of Rick's survival in WALKING DEAD TP VOL 24 LIFE AND DEATH. Risque and honest, the next collection of the hit SUNSTONE OGN VOL 03 is out. Acclaimed graphic novelist, Craig Thompson takes a rest on moving slice of life work and turns in a kids tales in SPACE DUMPLINS GN VOL 01

The latest Previews is also in with the store copy available at the ground floor counter to look through. Anything else we need to put aside for you, just let us know! 


MARVEL
ANT-MAN LAST DAYS #1 SWA
CAPTAIN MARVEL AND CAROL CORPS #3 SWA
CIVIL WAR #3 SWA
DEADPOOLS SECRET SECRET WARS #4 (OF 4) SWA
E IS FOR EXTINCTION #3 SWA
HANK JOHNSON AGENT OF HYDRA #1 SWA
MAGNETO #21 SWA
MARVEL UNIVERSE ULT SPIDER-MAN WEB WARRIORS #10
MARVEL ZOMBIES #3 SWA
MODOK ASSASSIN #4 (OF 5) SWA
OLD MAN LOGAN #4 SWA
SHIELD #9
SPIDER-WOMAN #10 SWA
STAR WARS LANDO #3 (OF 5)
WHERE MONSTERS DWELL #4 (OF 5) SWA
X-MEN 92 #3 SWA

DC COMICS
AQUAMAN #43 BOMBSHELLS VAR ED
BATGIRL #43
BATMAN 66 #26
BATMAN ARKHAM KNIGHT GENESIS #1 (OF 6)
CYBORG #2
DEATHSTROKE #9 BOMBSHELLS VAR ED
FLASH #43 BOMBSHELLS VAR ED
GOTHAM BY MIDNIGHT #8
GRAYSON #11 BOMBSHELLS VAR ED
HARLEY QUINN #19 BOMBSHELLS VAR ED
HE MAN THE ETERNITY WAR #9
JLA GODS AND MONSTERS #3 (OF 3)
JUSTICE LEAGUE 3001 #3
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #3 BOMBSHELLS VAR ED
PREZ #3 (OF 6)
SINESTRO #14 BOMBSHELLS VAR ED
SUPERMAN #43 BOMBSHELLS VAR ED
TEEN TITANS #11 BOMBSHELLS VAR ED
WE ARE ROBIN #3

BOOM
ADVENTURE TIME FIONNA & CAKE CARD WARS #2 (OF 6)
BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA #15
HACKTIVIST VOL 2 #2 (OF 6)
LUMBERJANES #17
MUNCHKIN #8
SONS OF ANARCHY #24

DARK HORSE
CONAN THE AVENGER #17
FIGHT CLUB 2 #4
GRINDHOUSE DRIVE IN BLEED OUT #8 (A)
HALO ESCALATION #21 
MULAN REVELATIONS #3 (OF 4)
NEW MGMT #1
PASTAWAYS #6
TOMORROWS #2 (OF 6)
ZODIAC STARFORCE #1

DYNAMITE
SWORDS OF SORROW SONJA JUNGLE #2 (OF 3)

IDW
DIRK GENTLYS HOLISTIC DETECTIVE AGENCY #3 (OF 5)
DRIVE #1 (OF 4)
GHOSTBUSTERS GET REAL #3 (OF 4)
GODZILLA IN HELL #2 (OF 5)
MAXX MAXXIMIZED #22
MICKEY MOUSE #3
RAGNAROK #6
SHERLOCK HOLMES 7 PER-CENT SOLUTION #1 (OF 5)
SKYLANDERS #12
TMNT CASEY & APRIL #3 (OF 4)
TRANSFORMERS ROBOTS IN DISGUISE ANIMATED #2
TRANSFORMERS MORE THAN MEETS EYE #44
WALT DISNEY COMICS & STORIES #722

IMAGE
COVENANT #3
EAST OF WEST #20
ISLAND #2
LOW #9
RASPUTIN #8
ROCHE LIMIT CLANDESTINY #4
RUMBLE #6
SONS OF THE DEVIL #4
SPAWN #255
SPREAD #9
THEYRE NOT LIKE US #7
THIEF OF THIEVES #30
VALHALLA MAD #4

MISC
BOOK OF DEATH FALL OF NINJAK #1
DEAD DROP #4 (OF 4)
DOCTOR WHO 2015 FOUR DOCTORS #3 (OF 5)
LADY MECHANIKA #0 (OF 5)
NINJAK #6
PRINCELESS BE YOURSELF #3 (OF 4)
RICK & MORTY #5
SIXTH GUN VALLEY OF DEATH #3 (OF 3)
STRINGERS #1 (OF 5)
WE CAN NEVER GO HOME #4 (OF 5)

MAGAZINES
MARVEL PREVIEWS SEPTEMBER 2015
PREVIEWS #324 SEPTEMBER 2015

TRADES
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN TP VOL 04 GRAVEYARD SHIFT
ANGRY BIRDS COMICS HC VOL 03 SKY HIGH
ARMY OF DARKNESS ASH IN SPACE TP
ART OF SATOSHI KON HC
BLOOD & HONOR FOREWORLD SAGA GN VOL 01
COWL TP VOL 02 THE GREATER GOOD
CRIMSON HC VOL 01
DO-GOODERS HC
EFFIGY TP VOL 01 IDLE WORSHIP
FIVE GHOSTS TP VOL 03 MONSTERS & MEN
GI ZOMBIE A STAR SPANGLED WAR STORY TP
HERO CATS TP VOL 02
IMAGE GIANT SIZED ARTISTS PROOF ED WALKING DEAD #1
INHUMANS BY PAUL JENKINS AND JAE LEE TP NEW PTG
INVISIBLE REPUBLIC TP VOL 01
IRON FIST LIVING WEAPON TP VOL 02 REDEMPTION
IXTH GENERATION TP VOL 01
JENNIFER BLOOD BORN AGAIN TP
JOE FRANKENSTEIN HC
JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK TP VOL 06 LOST IN FOREVER
LEGENDS OF ZITA THE SPACEGIRL GN
MARVEL UNIVERSE ALL NEW AVENGERS ASSEMBLE DIGEST TP VOL 02
MY LITTLE PONY PAGEANTS & PONIES TP
NEXTWAVE AGENTS OF HATE COMPLETE COLLECTION TP NEW PTG
NURSERY RHYME COMICS 50 TIMELESS RHYMES HC
POWERPUFF GIRLS SUPER SMASH-UP TP VOL 01
PRIEST & BRIGHTS QUANTUM & WOODY TP VOL 01 KLANG
RETURN OF LIVING DEADPOOL TP
RUNLOVEKILL TP VOL 01
SCALPED HC BOOK 02 DELUXE EDITION
SPACE DUMPLINS GN VOL 01
STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION RISE OF SITH TP VOL 01
SUNDOWNERS TP VOL 02
SUNNY SIDE UP GN
SUNSTONE OGN VOL 03
TITHE TP VOL 01
TUROK DINOSAUR HUNTER TP VOL 03 RAPTOR FOREST
UNCANNY AVENGERS TP VOL 01 COUNTER EVOLUTIONARY
USAGI JANE AND THE SKULLBUNNIES GN VOL 01
USAGI YOJIMBO SAGA TP VOL 04
WALKING DEAD TP VOL 24 LIFE AND DEATH
WAYWARD TP VOL 02
WOLVERINES TP VOL 04 DESTINY
X-O MANOWAR TP VOL 09 DEAD HAND
ZOMBILLENIUM HC VOL 03 CONTROL FREAKS

MERCH
BATMAN BLACK & WHITE STATUE DARWYN COOKE 2ND ED
CHEW CASES OF THE FDA CARD GAME
DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS LOIS LANE STATUE
LOZ WIND WAKER LINK NENDOROID

BECKY CLOONAN BACK IN STOCK MENU
CHANNEL ZERO TP COMPLETE COLLECTION
CONAN TP VOL 13 QUEEN O/T BLACK COAST
DEMO TP
GOTHAM ACADEMY TP VOL 01 (N52)
TRUE LIVES OF FABULOUS KILLJOYS LTD ED HC
TRUE LIVES OF FABULOUS KILLJOYS TP

BACK IN STOCK

DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS #1