Tuesday, August 4, 2015

ALL STAR RECOMMENDS FOR AUGUST 4TH




Hi there, readers of my inane waffle…

Due to international houseguests, encroaching illness, the death of my beloved Samsung Q330 laptop and his hastily purchased replacement turning out to be a lump of useless plastic and circuitry, this week’s column is a bit of a roughly cobbled together effort. Sorry, I’ll be back in full swing next week.


COMIC OF THE WEEK : QUEUE
By Dilraj Mann
Self-published

Well, phew. If there’s one thing it’s nice to not have to worry about anymore, it’s a lack of fashion in comics. This might sound incredibly superficial and not at all important, but I would disagree – for far too long, comics (specifically mainstream comics) have suffered a drought of artists who actually drew people (specifically teenaged people) who looked cool, relevant, and up-to-the-minute with their couture instead of pleated-pants wearing weirdos who tend to emulate the fashions of their talented but not particularly worldly middle-aged artists.

A bit harsh, perhaps, but open up Ultimate Spider-Man #1, as Exhibit A. No, this was not the product of 1985, it was actually the year 2000 not that you’d know it from Mark Bagley’s costuming of all his characters, most egregiously Harry Osborne. Poor Harry looked, even on the day of publication, like he just came off a stint as an extra in Less Than Zero.

This welcome turn-around in comics fashion largely has to do with the influx of younger and notably female creators to the medium, like the Lumberjanes crew and Babs Tarr and Jillian Tamaki and so many others. Not to be outdone, guys like Jamie McKelvie, Simon Gane and again many more have demonstrated a serious level of care and attention to what their characters actually wear and how they style themselves. And here’s another male artist to watch, England’s Dilraj Mann.

Mann’s zine, Queue arrived in my mail this week and it is a wonder of both style and substance wrapped up in sexy risographed printing. Four characters wait in line outside to meet a club. They are strangers. However, each of them is connected in some way to Delilah, a fleshy, sexy but very confused girl burying the pain of a break-up through all manner of partying and their accoutrements.

It’s worth noting that Mann clearly celebrates the female form the way Crumb does – he’s all curves and asses and flesh; these are seriously embodied chicks, not the waifish stick-figures of the catwalk world. Full figured, even fuller-lipped, gap-toothed and cat-eyed, Mann’s characters are yet packed with a bizarre sensuousness.

Although resembling something like Brandon Graham and Dave Cooper drawing Nightclubbing kids, Queue is more than just cute characters and their marvelous wardrobes – structurally ambitious, it constantly cuts between Friday night at the club and earlier in the week to show us a glimpse of each character’s interactions with Delilah. Mann’s page layouts are superb, confident and ambitious. Of particular note are three club-set pages where Delilah pops some pills and dances. Mann slows things down and speeds them up amazingly, chopping his panels up like coke lines, forcing his readers to scan through as if viewing the sequence through a strobe light, while at the same time moving events of the night around like chess pieces.

Here’s but one of them:


You can pick Queue up at Mann’s site and while you’re there, take a look at some of his prints and original art – it’s gorgeous, striking stuff.


WEBCOMIC OF THE WEEK : WARREN ELLIS: “READ COMICS. ALL THE COMICS. THEN CUT THEM OPEN…”

No webcomic this week, see poor-me intro, but I might just have something better. Thanks to Tom Spurgeon’s The Comics Reporter, I stumbled upon this excerpt from a recent Orbital Operations newsletter from Warren Ellis and posted at Down the Tubes. I read Operations religiously, like it’s a personal letter just to me which I know is ridiculous but I’m not feeling well so go away.

Here’s Ellis describing the importance of conducting your own creative autopsy on comics. All comics. Not just the ones on your pull list.




COUNTDOWN TO MOZ METAL: HEAVY METAL, JUNE 1977

“They were made of metal and hate. On the gigantic planet Gail they raised their arrogant architecture toward heaven and their eyes, as brilliant as those of wild beasts, towards the night.”

All hail Philippe Druillet, who kicks of this third issue of Heavy Metal with part one of “Gail,” a tale about an off-world prison colony called Saint Mary of The Angels,” where criminals and political prisoners alike find themselves shipped daily. Druillet’s ridiculously spiky space ships and generally bleak industrial-gothic SF designs are on full display here as a prisoner named Christmas the Stranger is transported to “the prison in the stars.” Magnificent stuff.

“Conquering Armies” by Jean-Pierre Dionnet and Jean-Claude Gal continues yet again with what is, for my money, its strongest chapter yet, with its sentry protagonist eating cockroaches amidst the field of the slaughtered dead. “Rockblitz” by Sergio Macedo brings us a super cool grey toned airbrush effect, future gangs, robots, rock and roll and a majestic three-horned saxophone. The mighty Richard Corben pulls double duty as first, Den rescues a damsel, then he and Frank Frazetta provide splash illustrations to accompany several pages of Robert E. Howard verse. Amazing. Tardi is back again with his cracking post-colonial SF short, “Fear of The Blue-Eyed Sloane!” (Seriously will somebody please collect Tardi’s shorts?) and Moebius’ “Arzack” (Arzach) continues in all its wordless majesty. Two noteworthy additions are “Vengeance” by Dominique Vallet, an elegantly-illustrated piece about a man carrying out his justly-sought revenge against a sorcerous, somewhat sentient wall and “Shells” by Francois and Luc Schuiten, a pretty sensuous and striking piece with an almost EC-like twist about an armoured man and woman deciding to cast off their exoskeletons to satiate their fleshy desires.

Another killer issue.


COMICS VIDEO OF THE WEEK : HEROESCON: MILKFED CRIMINAL MASTERMINDS PANEL

Got two hours free? Love DeConnick, Fraction and their assembled crew? Boy, do I have the video for you. Enjoy.



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 3, 2015

New Comics For Wednesday 5th of August


First week of August and it's a looking to be a good one! Let's take a peek over some of this week's reads.

Another week of Secret Wars event books with plenty to choose from. THIS DAMNED BAND #1 from Dark Horse and billed as Spinal Tap meets Ghostbusters almost sounds too good to pass up. Keen to sink your teeth into some new crime series? Image has you covered with DARK CORRIDOR #1. POWER MAN AND IRON FIST EPIC COLLECTION TP HEROES FOR HIRE because Iron Fist...well and Luke Cage is cool too. Are you a fans of Ellis' never completed Desolation Jones might enjoy the new Private Eye series from BOOM, JOHN FLOOD #1. Not getting enough Tom Sciolo madness in your life with Transformers VS GIJOE? You should definitely take a look at the new collection of his older series, AMERICAN BARBARIAN COMP SERIES HC in that case! Follow that up with another oddball in the latest JOJOS BIZARRE ADV PHANTOM BLOOD HC VOL 03. Valiant's latest mini is collected with the deep space, existential thoughts of Matt Kindt in DIVINITY TP.

Need our help putting something aside for you, just let us know!



MARVEL
AGE OF APOCALYPSE #2 SWA
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN RENEW YOUR VOWS #3 SWA
BIG THUNDER MOUNTAIN RAILROAD #5 (OF 5)
BUCKY BARNES WINTER SOLDIER #10
CIVIL WAR #2 SWA
DARTH VADER #8
FUTURE IMPERFECT #4 SWA
GIANT SIZE LITTLE MARVEL AVX #3 SWA
GROOT #3
GUARDIANS OF KNOWHERE #2 SWA
GUARDIANS TEAM-UP #9
INFINITY GAUNTLET #3 SWA
MARVEL UNIVERSE AVENGERS ASSEMBLE SEASON TWO #10
MS MARVEL #17 SWA
RED SKULL #2 (OF 3) SWA
SIEGE #2 SWA
SPIDER-ISLAND #2 (OF 5) SWA
ULTIMATE END #4 (OF 5) SWA

DC COMICS
BAT MITE #3 (OF 6)
BATMAN BEYOND #3
DETECTIVE COMICS #43 BOMBSHELLS VAR ED
FLASH SEASON ZERO #11
GREEN LANTERN #43 BOMBSHELLS VAR ED
INJUSTICE GODS AMONG US YEAR FOUR #7
JLA GODS AND MONSTERS WONDER WOMAN #1
LOBO #9
MIDNIGHTER #3
OMEGA MEN #3

VERTIGO
AMERICAN VAMPIRE SECOND CYCLE #9
FBP FEDERAL BUREAU OF PHYSICS #23
MAD MAX FURY ROAD MAX #2

BOOM
ADVENTURE TIME #42
BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA #14
BROKEN WORLD #3 (OF 4)
CLUSTER #6
JOHN FLOOD #1
SPIRE #2 (OF 8)
WOODS #15

DARK HORSE
AGE OF REPTILES ANCIENT EGYPTIANS #3 (OF 4)
ANGEL AND FAITH SEASON 10 #17
BALTIMORE CULT OF THE RED KING #4 (OF 5)
BARB WIRE #2
NEVERBOY #6 (OF 6)
THIS DAMNED BAND #1 (OF 6)
WITCHER FOX CHILDREN #5 (OF 5)

DYNAMITE
BOBS BURGERS ONGOING #2
PATHFINDER ORIGINS #6 (OF 6)
PS BLACKCROSS #5 (OF 6)
RED SONJA CONAN #1 (OF 4)
SHADOW VOL 2 #1
SWORDS OF SORROW THORIS ADLER #3 (OF 3)
WILL EISNER SPIRIT #2

IDW
DRONES #5 (OF 5)
FLY OUTBREAK #5 (OF 5)
INSUFFERABLE #4
LONG DISTANCE #3 (OF 4)
MY LITTLE PONY FRIENDS FOREVER #19
STAR TREK ONGOING #48
TRANSFORMERS #44
ZOMBIES VS ROBOTS #8

IMAGE
8HOUSE ARCLIGHT #2
AIRBOY #3 (OF 4)
DARK CORRIDOR #1
DEADLY CLASS #15
HUMANS #7
JUPITERS CIRCLE #5
KAPTARA #4
MORNING GLORIES #47
NAILBITER #15
OUTCAST BY KIRKMAN & AZACETA #11
SEX #23
WE STAND ON GUARD #2
WICKED & DIVINE #13

MISC
BUNKER #13
FOX (DARK CIRCLE) #5
LADY MECHANIKA TABLET OF DESTINIES #4 (OF 6)
STUDY GROUP MAGAZINE 3D
WAR STORIES #11

TRADES
AMAZING FANTASTIC INCREDIBLE MARVELOUS MEMOIR BLAD
AMERICAN BARBARIAN COMP SERIES HC
ANGELA ASGARDS ASSASSIN TP VOL 01 PRICELESS
BABA YAGAS ASSISTANT YR GN
BOWERY BOYS OUR FATHERS HC
CONAN TP VOL 17 SHADOWS OVER KUSH
DEADPOOL PAWS PROSE NOVEL HC
DIVINITY TP
DRAGONLANCE CHRONICLES TP VOL 02 NIGHT DRAGONS OF WINTER
EXECUTIVE OUTCOMES GN
FRANK MILLERS DAREDEVIL ARTIFACT ED HC
GANTZ TP VOL 36
GIRL GENIUS SECOND JOURNEY TP VOL 01 BEAST OF THE
INFINITE CRISIS FIGHT FOR THE MULTIVERSE TP
JAMES PATTERSON ZOO TP
JOJOS BIZARRE ADV PHANTOM BLOOD HC VOL 03
LION OF RORA GN
MIGHTY SKULLBOY ARMY 2ND ED TP VOL 01
POWER MAN AND IRON FIST EPIC COLLECTION TP HEROES FOR HIRE
SUPERMAN TP VOL 05 UNDER FIRE
TEEN TITANS TP VOL 01 BLINDED BY THE LIGHT
THE INCAL HC NEW PTG
VEDA ASSEMBLY REQUIRED TP
VENOM BY REMENDER COMPLETE COLLECTION TP VOL 02

BACK IN STOCK
HAWKEYE #22

ISLAND #1

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

ALL STAR RECOMMENDS FOR JULY 28TH



Konban Wa! Hisashiburi desu ne?

Who reads comics and has an obsessively detailed G1 Climax 25 spreadsheet printed out to handily tally points? This dork!

No time for talk. It’s night four as I type this.


COMIC OF THE WEEK : BORB
By Jason Little
Published by Uncivilized Books

So as you may know, All Star co-owner Mitch is overseas being an Eisner-winning big shot and posting pics of himself with Mike Allred and Ed Piskor on Twitter. I know, I know, I want to hate him too. The thing is he’s just way too nice to even get so much as annoyed at. Here’s proof in the form of a slice from one of his emails to me, upon arriving in San Francisco:

“…the way the homeless have to live is terrible. There is like a horrible, unspoken understanding between them and everyone else, where for the most part neither party acknowledges each other's existence. It's a horrible sense of making them invisible, I can't imagine how it must make them feel.”

We’ve all likely felt this way at some point. The conflicting unease, sympathy, mistrust, disgust and heartbreaking sadness of the plight and appearance of the much less fortunate can take some digesting, particularly if you experience all of these reactions simultaneously which can happen. This unease is even heightened when visiting foreign countries where the circumstances of the homeless are frequently far worse and way more in your face than they are here. And maybe you look a round, see a guy with a cardboard sign and a fresh pack of cigarettes and sometimes think do they really even have it that bad? With some shame I must admit that in my lowest moments I’ve actually had a slight pang of envy at the homeless in Japan, many of whom live a seemingly peaceful existence in tight little social clusters in blue-tarp covered domiciles that quite often look really cosy.

Even here in Melbourne, things can’t be that bad, right? I see Bianca, Shane and Boof at least several times a week. That beautiful dog is virtually a celebrity at this point. They’ve tapped into electricity and can “lock out intruders,” so how bad can their lives be?

This envisioning of homelessness as some sort of romantic, off-the-grid, vagabond lifestyle is remarkably insensitive, offensive, completely absurd and likely makes me sound like a total asshole. I’m just trying to be honest here though, because Borb, by two-time Ignatz-winning and Eisner- nominated creator Jason Little, will make you have a good hard look at yourself, your level of empathetic capability, your aloofness and the degree to which you’ll completely separate your reality from that of those around you.

Formatted as a four-panel newspaper strip, Borb tells the tale of a homeless man whose train wreck of a life spirals ever downward in humorous gag-strip fashion. Humiliated, debased and mistreated at virtually every turn, poor Borb highlights the problem of the homeless and our reactions to this problem and simultaneously, mercilessly makes fun of both.

Resembling something like a Captain Haddock gone completely to seed and off the rails, Borb perfectly embodies the horror of not being able to either afford or have access to the things we can and frequently do take for granted. Suffering broken limbs, destroyed teeth, lack of hygiene, zero affection and never being treated by anyone at any time with anything resembling common decency, poor Borb is of a class so far below us he’s, as Mitch noted, virtually invisible. Even when he is cared for, his treatment is frequently superficial, little more than a Band-Aid on the problem. The “temporary housing” he’s granted at one point is little better than some flophouse that should be earmarked for demolition. Its broken windows make it impossible to heat and once Borb cuddles up to his dodgy space heater, he accidentally burns the place to the ground.

This is one example of many “Oh Borb, you goof…whatever mischief will you get up to next?” moments as Borb splits his pants, shits in bags, accidentally drinks perfume and takes tumbles down subway staircases. Alcoholic, dyslexic and broke, Borb is frequently the object of both ridicule and mistrust. He embodies all the stereotypes of the homeless – including their unfortunate, yet understandable tendencies toward self-destruction – to reveal just how cruel our opinions, ignorance and ambivalence toward their plight actually is. He’s the “bum” as total caricature, but as you chuckle along, ever-sad as you do so, the joke slowly turns as Borb’s gags and pratfalls increase in severity and hopelessness and the despair ramps up.

What’s truly special about Borb, which is created partly in homage to Depression-era newspaper strips, is how the “comedy vagabond” archetype of such material slips away to reveal the horror and complete futility at the very heart of this character’s existence. He’s “Just some homes guy,” says an EMT tending to him says at one point and this is a refrain that echoes all the way through the work right up until its conclusion, when you realise there never is or has been humour in any of this.

Ultimately, Borb must himself bear some responsibility for his existence just as we all do. Jason Little squeezes in enough of his backstory to make this apparent. How you, as both human and reader (the best kind of human), react to this is perhaps the core of Little’s book. How big is your heart? When comes the point where you write a person off? Or damn them for their errors? Well, prepare to find out if you read this brilliant, relevant and utterly necessary piece of comics.


WEBCOMIC OF THE WEEK : HAUNTER
By Sam Alden

Sam Alden drops readers right into Haunter, a beautiful and exciting two-part webcomic published at the always top notch Study Group Comics site, giving us what ultimately amounts to little more than extended chase scene. But what a chase scene it is. A raggedly-clad female survivor of some disaster or other (one presumes) is on the hunt for a boar with nothing more than a simple bow and arrow, but ends up being stalked through the landscape by something seemingly ancient and supernatural.

Completely silent, Haunter is all about the landscapes – bizarre forests, odd temples, underwater caverns – the ever-versatile Alden’s remarkable linework and lush palate and the chase itself which reads like some uncommonly lovely backwoods survivalist horror movie gone quite surreal. Haunter is brisk, constantly moving and full of visual surprises. Devoid of backstory, much plot or any dialogue, Haunter is all about forward motion. Thrillingly climactic, it’s remarkable how much Alden will make you care for a protagonist you know little or nothing about other than the fact that she’s clearly quite the survivor.

While you’re there at Study Group Comics, have a virtual rummage around the place. The site is a complete embarrassment of riches.


COUNTDOWN TO MOZ METAL: HEAVY METAL, MAY 1977

Did you know that not every man can handle Metaxa? I didn’t, but considering I had no idea what Metaxa is that’s probably to be expected. Clearly I am not man enough to imbibe this liquid, advertised in the second ever issue of Heavy Metal with a full pager featuring a spiked, gauntleted fist clutching a bottle of the stuff and thrusting it our faces, but a quick Google search reveals that Metaxa is a honey-flavoured Greek “amber spirit” (now drunk not by warriors but by handsome stubbly men, clearly not tested in battle, and their blonde sun-drenched women according to the website). Still, the fine print of this amazing ad tells me that it’s “84 proof Greek Specialty Liqueur,” so perhaps I’m writing it off to quickly. “Drunk by Gods and Warriors. And men who can handle it.” I’m up for the test…

Metaxa! The official hooch of Heavy Metal May ’77!


It’s quite the ad, but far from the most remarkable thing about this issue, which opens with my hero Jacques Tardi’s “MEAOBbBIN MECRU” (that is not a typo), a tale of sexy Russian cosmonauts that almost resembles a team-up between Gilbert Hernandez at his most absurdist and Guy Peellaert of Adventures of Jodelle fame. Remarkable.

Philippe Druillet’s astonishing “Agorn” follows, a stunningly weird slice of black and white dark fantasy in which the titular character, plagued by nightmares, has the love of his life cast to “the demons of the dark” by his family and their magician so he slaughters them all ruthlessly, in the process becoming damned “for thousands and thousands of years” by his actions, forever woken from sleep and forced to relive it all over again. Beautifully circular in structure and complex in layout, “Agorn” should be read several times in a loop to best appreciate the hell its doomed protagonist is trapped in.

“Den” and “Conquering Armies” continue masterfully, along with “Harzach” (Arzach) by Moebius, but it’s “Roger,” a Fumetti by Locquet and Souchu, that will likely turn the most heads for the new reader with its male action figure protagonist raging against Roger, the god-like being who plays with them as though they were “mass-produced dolls”.  Strikingly quirky and odd, “Roger” thankfully continues in several months time. Roll on August ’77!

As the intro to the issue says, “Other tales complete their time/space existence here before yr [yes, it says “yr”] very eyes,” but I’m out of room so let’s just say that the hallucinatory “Virgo” by Philippe "Caza" Cazamayou, featuring a naked woman partaking of the…um…seed…of a reptilian fruit that looks more like the head of Killer Croc’s appendage than something from the Garden of Eden and subsequently ends up pregnant with some sort of Godly planetoid, is worthy not for just its strangeness and stunning detail, but also as it could potentially be read as Lilith’s sexual encounter with Samael…

Heavy Metal! Not just stoner T&A but theology lessons as well!



COMICS VIDEO OF THE WEEK : A CONTRACT WITH GOD: WILL EISNER

A million miles away from Borb in tone, style and intent are Will Eisner’s tenement stories, yet their depiction of the lower class packed into these classically New York buildings is no less striking. Incidentally, I’ve always felt that Eisner’s more “personal” works cast him in the role of something like comics’ Dickens, which upon reading the below once more is fairly fitting.

Anyway, here’s a really nicely made video of “A Contract With God”, one of Eisner’s most famous pieces. This 1978 story of a how the death of a loved one changes a once kindly Jewish man is perhaps a little heavy on the melodrama, but Eisner’s characters exhibit all the wonderful facial expression and body language that made him a master and just look at his architecture…*swoon.*



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, July 27, 2015

New Comics For Wednesday 29th of July




It's a fifth week shipping list which means it's a light one but still filled with great reads! Let's see what is up for grabs.

Sorry to see this series wrap up but it's nice to be able to pick up the last of Fraction and Aja's tremendous run with HAWKEYE TP VOL 04 RIO BRAVO. Ales Kot continues to twist our minds with his existensenual assassin tale in ZERO TP VOL 04 WHO BY FIRE. Being a fifth week that means we get treated to a series of DC Annuals, the pick of which is seeing Babs and Grayson working together in BATGIRL ANNUAL #3. Revisit some happy 80's TV memories with PUNKY BREWSTER TP VOL 01.
Like we said it's a small shipment but still a bunch for great titles to get buzzed about. Anything else you need just let us know.


MARVEL
1602 WITCH HUNTER ANGELA #2 SWA
AGE OF ULTRON VS MARVEL ZOMBIES #2 SWA
BLACK WIDOW #20 SWA
DAREDEVIL #17
DEADPOOLS SECRET SECRET WARS #3 (OF 4) SWA
DEATHLOK #10
GUARDIANS TEAM-UP #8
MARVEL UNIVERSE ULT SPIDER-MAN WEB WARRIORS #9
MODOK ASSASSIN #3 (OF 5) SWA
POWERS #4
SHIELD #8
STAR WARS #7
THORS #2 SWA
X-MEN 92 #2 SWA


DC COMICS
BATGIRL #42
BATGIRL ANNUAL #3
DEATHSTROKE ANNUAL #1
FLASH ANNUAL #4
GOTHAM BY MIDNIGHT ANNUAL #1
HE MAN THE ETERNITY WAR #8
JLA GODS AND MONSTERS SUPERMAN #1
LOBO ANNUAL #1
SUPERMAN #42 TEEN TITANS GO VAR ED

VERTIGO
SANDMAN OVERTURE #5 SPECIAL EDITION

BOOM
ADVENTURE TIME #42
DEEP STATE #8
ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK #8
HACKTIVIST VOL 2 #1 (OF 6)
HELP US GREAT WARRIOR #6 (OF 6)
MUNCHKIN #7


DARK HORSE
CONAN THE AVENGER #16
GRINDHOUSE DRIVE IN BLEED OUT #7 (A)
HALO ESCALATION #20
LOBSTER JOHNSON A CHAIN FORGED IN LIFE ONE SHOT
MULAN REVELATIONS #2 (OF 4)
PASTAWAYS #5
RESIDENT ALIEN SAM HAIN MYSTERY #3 (OF 3)
TOMB RAIDER #18


DYNAMITE
JUNGLE GIRL SEASON 3 #4 (OF 4)
RED SONJA #17

IDW
DONALD DUCK #3
GHOSTBUSTERS GET REAL #2 (OF 4)
JEM & THE HOLOGRAMS #5
SHRINKING MAN #1 (OF 4)
SKYLANDERS #11 LIGHT IN THE DARK
TMNT ONGOING #48
TRANSFORMERS COMBINER HUNTERS SPEC (ONE SHOT)
TRANSFORMERS MORE THAN MEETS EYE #43
TRANSFORMERS VS GI JOE #8
TRANSFORMERS WINDBLADE #5
WEIRD LOVE #8
X-FILES ANNUAL 2015

IMAGE
CASANOVA ACEDIA #3
COPPERHEAD #9
GOD HATES ASTRONAUTS #10
INVISIBLE REPUBLIC #5
LAZARUS #18
LOW #8
MANHATTAN PROJECTS SUN BEYOND THE STARS #2
MATERIAL #3
MYTHIC #3
RASPUTIN #7
SEX CRIMINALS #11 BRYAN LEE OMALLY XXX VAR
SOUTHERN BASTARDS #10
SPARKS NEVADA MARSHAL ON MARS #4 (OF 4)
SPAWN #254
TITHE #4
WAYWARD #10

MISC
AUTEUR SISTER BAMBI #3
CAPTAIN CANUCK 2015 ONGOING #3
DOCTOR WHO 10TH #13
DOCTOR WHO 12TH #10
DOCTOR WHO 9TH #3 (OF 5)
MEANWHILE #3
NINJAK #5 (NEXT)
PRINCELESS BE YOURSELF #2 (OF 4)
RICK & MORTY #4
SABRINA #4
SCARLETT COUTURE #4 (OF 4)
SQUARRIORS #3 (OF 4)

TRADES
AEIOU GN (NEW PTG)
ALONE FOREVER GN
CATWOMAN TP VOL 06 KEEPER OF THE CASTLE
CONAN RED SONJA HC
CONDITIONS ON THE GROUND HC
DENGUE HC
DEVLIN WAUGH RED TIDE TP
EVIL ERNIE TP VOL 02 RISE OF EVIL
FAIRY QUEST TP VOL 02
GEORGE PEREZS SIRENS PEN & INK #1
GOODBYE CHUNKY RICE PANTHEON ED NEW PTG
GRINDHOUSE MIDNIGHT TP VOL 03 SLAY RIDE & BLOOD LAGOON
HAWKEYE TP VOL 04 RIO BRAVO
IMPERIUM TP VOL 01 COLLECTING MONSTERS
INHUMAN TP VOL 03 LINEAGE
JASON SSHHHH GN
LAST ONES HC
LEVEL UP GN NEW PTG
MAGNETO TP VOL 03 SHADOW GAMES
MAXX MAXXIMIZED HC VOL 04
MILES MORALES ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN ULTIMATE COLL TP BOOK 01
PHOEBE GLOECKNER DIARY OF TEENAGE GIRL GN REVISED
PUNKY BREWSTER TP VOL 01
RED LANTERNS TP VOL 06 FORGED IN BLOOD
STAR WARS LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
STAR WARS LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK NEW HOPE
STAR WARS LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK RETURN OF JEDI
SWAMP THING THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL TP
TMNT ANIMATED TP VOL 06 VENGEANCE IS MINE
UNCANNY AVENGERS TP VOL 05 AXIS PRELUDE
WASTELAND TP VOL 11 FLOODLAND
ZERO TP VOL 04 WHO BY FIRE


BACK IN STOCK
MAD MAX FURY ROAD FURIOSA #1 2ND PTG

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

ALL STAR RECOMMENDS FOR JULY 21ST



Good day you, fine reader. I hope you’re escaping from the cold by snuggling up with loved ones and reading a few funny books. There were a number of truly excellent comics published last week, so there’s really no excuse.

Did you know there’s a launch on in-store this week? Well there is! Comicsmas in July is this Saturday, July 25th with Frank Candiloro, Ashley Ronning, David Blumenstein and Alisha Jade all launching new books. With Frank and Ashley both having appeared in this column before, you bet I’ll be there at some point. Should be fun. 



COMIC OF THE WEEK : THE DIVINE
By Asuf Hanuka, Tomer Hanuka and Boaz Lavie
Published by First Second

Although inspired by the true story of Johnny and Luther Htoo, twin boys who led a collective of refugees named God’s Army, The Divine is far from a real world slice of war-torn drama. Instead this 150 page book is a surreal slice of the fantastic that grows ever more nightmarish as its pages turn, morphing into something like Akira meets Apocalypse Now. It’s a strange but compelling beast, with simply gorgeous artwork bursting out from its white-bordered pages.

Created by illustrators and comics artists Asuf and Tomer Hanuka and writer Boaz Lavie, The Divine is set in the fictional Southeast Asian country of Quanlom. Exploited by the West for its rich mining potential, the land is being torn apart and its peoples displaced. Explosives expert Mark is freshly-married, has a baby on the way and is denied a big promotion. When an old friend, a military contractor named Jason, comes calling with a big, quick, high-paying job “lava tube denuding” (or “blowing up mountains” as Mark puts it), he reluctantly agrees, not knowing that both the spirts of this ancient land and a particularly brave, young  and violent section of its people will stand in his way.

It’s The Divine’s slow descent into weirdness, darkness and the supernatural that, narratively, makes this thing work. There’s some great foreshadowing in the form of a simple shaving nick that signals the ominousness ahead and some wonderfully oddball dreams, normally a real peeve of mine, are included and are just too well realised to dismiss as simple filler.

It’s not perfect, unfortunately.  Jason is far too obvious and one-note as the Ugly American, spouting lines like, “Maybe you didn’t notice but the job is done. We’re not getting paid to babysit locals.” However once The Divine, gifted sibling child soldiers who lead the resistance against the destruction, deforestation and displacement happening in their country, enters the picture you’ll forget all about this caricature of a villain.

And the art. Oh, the art. From its sweaty nightmare-born techno-womb to the mountainous Quanlom terrain, to its boy soldiers, to its dragons (yes, dragons), to its frozen moments of explosive violence, The Divine is simply a gorgeous piece of work. Again I wish First Second would reconsider their formatting as Tomer and Asuf Hanuka’s work is screaming out for a larger presentation. It’s a testament to just how good the Hanukas are that I was able to get lost in their sumptuously coloured pages given how reduced they are in finished presentation.

If you’re curious, my advice is don’t even flip through The Divine. Just get it home, read it and get sucked right in to the magenta overload of its pages. You’ll likely have some story quibbles, but that’s alright – you can’t argue with its art or its heart or the coolness of its mythology.



WEBCOMIC OF THE WEEK : STRANGE TRIP: A BOOMER ODYSSEY
By Paul Kirchner

How timely! Heavy Metal vet, sober psychedelic artist and advertising industry survivor, Paul Kirchner takes us through his entire life and artistic career in just four pages in Strange Trip: A Boomer Odyssey for The Boston Globe.

A reminder that it’s not just in the current comics economic market that talented creators struggle, Kirchner’s resignation to a career in advertising to make ends meet even after giving the world the Kafkaesque commuter journeys of The Bus for Heavy Metal and Dope Rider for High Times is sad indeed. Fret not though, for art wins in the end. As it always should.

Strange Trip is a brisk, witty and compact read, perfectly paced and full of nice little period details as Kirchner rips through the decades to arrive right back where he started, drawing his two most famous creations once more.  Vintage episodes of The Bus are also linked to in the Globe article and come highly recommended also. The Bus is superbly dreamy and may make you feel slightly better about your own journeys across the slowly-choking PT system of wherever it is you actually are. Check it out.




COUNTDOWN TO MOZ METAL : HEAVY METAL, APRIL 1977

“From the people who bring you National Lampoon,” says the top left corner of the cover to Heavy Metal’s debut issue from April of 1977, a publishing arrangement which would not last anywhere near as long as the brand’s influence or legacy. The cover of this first issue of “the adult illustrated fantasy magazine” featured a painting by Jean-Michel Nicolette in which an enraged, big-boobed, stiletto wearing robot of death beats an asexual droid into scrap metal with a gigantic wrench.  A fine summation of this periodical’s glory days indeed.

In the editorial, the good folk from National Lampoon say of France’s Metal Hurlant, or Screaming Metal, the source material for much of their product: “The magazine appears to be the work of an alien intelligence, as indeed it is. It is French.”

Um. Okay, then.

Still as strange as that is you can’t fault the early US editors of the magazine for their taste. They recognised the potency of the European material they had on their hands and also the opportunity cut the product with liberal doses of comics by off-kilter American creators, diluting the Euro-madness somewhat and adding perhaps a slightly more comprehensible, palatable strain of American fantasy to their pages.

It’s a heady brew, this debut issue, chock full of now-legendary creators and profoundly influential comics. There’s literally too much good, eclectic stuff for me to cover in this space – including an excerpt from Terry Brooks’ The Sword of Shannara and the incredibly strange collaging at play in Age of Ages by Norman Rubington, but special mention must be made of two features.

Den by Richard Corben, a psychedelic examination of male power fantasies and sexy riff on John Carter, opens the proceedings, as the titular character, giant and nude, makes his way across a strangely alien desert landscape and encounters a crocodile beast and a typically stacked Corben bombshell of a woman who has the power to stir “phantasmic forces” in his head and “erotic ones” in his body. Corben’s colours are acid-soaked; lurid pinks clashing against greens and yellows, and it’s frankly astonishing to me that the artist remains as prolific and sharp almost forty years later.

Arzach by Moebius also makes its English-language publication debut here, not that language is an issue as the comic itself is silent.  Arzach the warrior soundlessly sails through the landscape of the subconscious on a giant albino pterodactyl-type creature and, in the process, blew more comic book reading minds than likely anything preceding him. Profoundly important and influential, Arzach is still glorious.

There’s so much more to love here, Conquering Armies, Space Punks and even Sunpot by Vaughn Bode (whose work I’m forever ambivalent about, to be honest) raise the underground comix cred considerably.  An all-time classic debut.



COMICS VIDEO OF THE WEEK : THE ART OF HEAVY METAL MAGAZINE

Yep, to celebrate me insanely writing about as many issues of Heavy Metal as possible until the Grant Morrison era begins, here’s a cool little video sampling what you’re in for.  Man, I hope Morrison gets Corben back. That would blow my puny little mind.


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.