Sunday, January 30, 2005

Ex Machina TPB Thought

I just read the first trade of this sophisticated superhero tale by Brian K. Vaughan & Tony Harris. This is a take on a man with superhero powers and backgrounds, who is now trying to change the world as the mayor of NYC.

It is an interesting tale that I enjoyed for the most part, but after the first "issue" I grew annoyed by something in it that I couldn't quite place until the end of the volume.

The book's characters and world are too cynical, which homogenizes them both too much for me. From the very top characters to the lowest one time appearance ones, everyone has an attitude. Which wouldn't be bad if they weren't all the same "cynical, snapping a joke" one which made me feel too apart from everything.

Usually in stories there is a cynical voice there to be the voice of reason and/or there for comic effect. Yet when everyone fills that role it loses its appeal. By the end I wanted to see at least one character who was both sensible, and had a positive outlook towards the world.

Human Target: Living in Amerika TPB
Peter Milligan & Cliff Chiang
DC Comics, $14.85, 128 Pages

The strength of this series for me is how it questions the notions of identity. Chance, the lead character, is a master of disguise who has taken on the various roles to such extents that he no longer even knows who he really is. Evidenced by how even when he tries to be himself, he must put on a disguise in order to do so.

A lot of people don't really know themselves, which keeps them from knowing anyone else. Chance's job is to become others, so he has to have unique insights into the individuals in order to become them. Yet he seems unable to train the same keen eye on himself.

In this volume Chance takes on the role of a preacher whose life is being threatened, himself in a three parter in a small city with people with secrets, and a prisoner who is a ladies man looking for one last big adventure.

The stories range from thought provoking looks at the low points of humanity, to action packed adventure and finally light comedy. The book made an impact on me as a reader because it has a diverse feel to each story, staying true to the basic concept while keeping it fresh and relevant to the world today. In fact the feel of many stories being prompted by today's headlines, reminds me a little of the CSI television which does similar things.

The art by Cliff Chiang, is good at building a unique world that fits together while giving the individual cities a sense of atmosphere. With a star that's look changes from issue to issue, it must be hard to keep coming up with distinctive looking characters each time.

Yet it does that masterfully, and showcases a good sense of understanding of an individuals body stances. Especially on the scenes where Chance reveals himself while in his roles, that clearly comes through the art wordlessly showing who he is to the reader.

It is a shame that the series didn't find a bigger audience, as it is very intelligent and different from any other series out there. Which of course is probably why it didn't work in today's comic market place.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Top 5 Manga

Stemming from Johanna's idea my top five current manga series:

1. Hot Gimmick - Fun and insightful soap opera drama dealing with teens living in a corporate housing unit.

2. Kindaichi Case Files - Outstanding mystery series with teen leads that are as interesting as the mysteries they solve.

3. The Malay Mysteries Books - Hauntingly detailed horror stories centered in Asia.

4. Othello - Fun series about a teen girl with split personalities, one of whom is a real heroic figure.

5. Planetes - Great sci-fi series that though the series is based a lot in outerspace, has real down to Earth emotional stories.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Halting Pre-Ordering

Finally tonight, I've decided to stop pre-ordering once again. While the deals at the Discount Comic Book Services site are really nice. I'm just no longer interested enough in pamphlet comics, as they don't offer a substantial enough reading experience to be worth my limited time to read.

Nor do they at least give me something to write about, as just as I am preparing to read issue #1 of a series I receive. I look around and most are already talking about issue 2 and sometimes 3 or more if my comics are particularly late. (like they were last month when DCBS sent them to the wrong customer)

I'll still use them for the super special deals, but ordering every month just is no longer worth it for me. Not when I have so many other options for comic reading that will get me what I want to read in a more timely fashion and in formats I prefer.

Two Manga Series Comments

I did get some catch up reading done today though. The second volume of the X-Day series, volume 1 of which I briefly covered on Friday, has to be one of the worst endings to a series I've seen in years.

Not only does it not wrap up any of the plotlines from the first manga volume. It barely even spends any times on those characters and situations, before going into a crappy unconnected story on some fantasy world where the people all have elves ears.

I've heard of creators losing interest in stories or characters and ending them quickly. Yet to do so in this short of a series, then to go in a completely opposite tact with no warning, and to have a publisher like Tokyopop still publish it.

Well it makes me want to support their competitors products more when I have to decide on what new series to try in the future.

On the plus side the third volume of the Case Closed series may have been the best volume yet. From a family politics charged murder mystery on a cruise ship, to the mystery of a doctor receiving huge amounts of toys and money from a mysterious "benefactor." These stories were intriguing and left me anxious to see what all was going on.

Flu Bug

This is the first time I've had a chance since Friday to post on the blog. I've been in bed with an incredible case of the flu that hit me like a sledge hammer.

It is amazing to see how easily one's life can be completely put on hold so fast. Yet from Saturday until the middle part of yesterday the outside world pretty much ceased to exist for me.

I know one of the common origins for how comic fans became fans was reading them as sickly children. Yet I wonder how sick they must have been, as I couldn't stand to even have a light on let alone a book with a story to digest.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Quick Comic Takes

Sabrina the Teenage Witch #63

Tania Del Rio continues to breath fresh life into the Sabrina world. This time with Sabrina and her friends, including her male pursuers Harvey and Shinji, on a skiing vacation.

Harvey and Shinji wind up trapped together in a heavy snow storm. The two learn more about each other during their ordeal, and I as a reader got to see sides of them that I hadn't known about before.

For the first time I could see why Sabrina likes the two guys. Harvey's selfless caring behavior towards others, and Shinji showing some unexpected self consciousness as he sees more to Harvey than he had before.

I'm really surprised by how much I've enjoyed this series, as it really has brought these characters to life in fun entertaining stories that work for all ages.

X-Day Book 1

I wasn't sure what to expect from a manga about people at a school planning to blow it up. Yes this first volume was pretty interesting, as it explores these peoples lives that would lead them to want to do this.

One of the really interesting aspects is that they first meet online in a chat room. So when they finally meet in person later, the differences between what they expect the others to be like and the reality is surprising, but often what I've gone through as well in life.

This is especially evident when one of the participants turns out to be of an unexpected age, that adds a new dimension to the story. I'm surprised to know that this series is only 2 volumes long, and wonder how they'll wrap this up in the second volume.

Peach Fuzz Book 1

This book about a precocious 9 year old girl who gets a ferret with a princess complex, could have been horribly saccharine filled cheese.

Yet it is a surprisingly fun little comedy story that manages to balance both the lives of the humans as the girl struggles to keep her pet's faults (biting and repeated escape attempts) secret from her mom. Along with her pet's strange fantasy filled interpretation of the (as she perceives them) horrors the young girl innocently does to her pet.

It certainly made me see the ways pets might see the world they live in from a different light. The young girl isn't really mature enough to understand that what she sees as playful fun, like having her stuffed toys wrestle with her ferret, is a torture to the pet. Yet it is done in such a way that while you feel sorry for the pet, you understand that the child doesn't mean anything evil about it.

This is just a fun comedy series with a lot of heart, that has one of the most fun cover gimmicks in a while. A Scratch & Sniff sticker that smells like peaches!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Bone: Out From Boneville
Jeff Smith
GRAPHIX, $9.99, 144 pages, Full Color

I'd never read the Bone series before, I never had anything personal against it but its press just didn't attract my interest. Yet I was given the first volume by a friend who bought it at Wal-Mart, so I decided to give it a look.

The series follows Fone Bone, and his two cousins, Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone, who have been kicked out of their homeland of Boneville. The book starts with them having narrowly escaped a mob, only to become separated from each other when attacked by a swarm of locusts.

Fone Bone wanders heroically through this strange new land in search of his cousins. Where he makes new friends in a talking bug, three weasel children and a cute young woman named Thorn who lives with her cow racing grandmother on a farm.

There are also dangers there, as he encounters a race of rat creatures who attempt to eat him. Yet the creatures are very stupid, and through wit and the help of a dragon he is able to escape them and eventually meet up with his cousins.

This volume is mostly about introducing the characters to readers, along with a few mysteries, with nothing really being resolved. I hope in later volumes that the characters become a little more than the one note they are here. Fone Bone is the heroic do gooder, who always does his chores and helps those in need. Phoney is greedy and self centered, Smiley is the careless free spirit and Rose is well pretty and kind.

It all has a real old Saturday morning cartoon feel to its story structure and style. In that there is a lightness both in tone and in the attention to detail. That keeps the dangers from being too dark, but also kept me from becoming too involved with the story.

There is a complete volume of the series available in b&w and at a better price than all 9 volumes of the series will be. Yet I really enjoyed the coloring on this book that gave the world a bit of a brighter feel to it. Which given its cartoonish nature of tone and art style helps give the book a bit more impact.

Given that I'm not really blown away so far I haven't decided whether to give volume 2 a try or not. I can see why this gained the popularity it did with its clear art, and story and characters that are easy to grasp. Yet it just doesn't hit my buttons enough, and it seems to be heading in an even more fantasy (I don't care for fantasy stories) oriented direction in future volumes. Leaving me doubtful of picking up more.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Street Angel Contest

Comic Book Galaxy, Slave Labor Graphics and the Street Angel team have joined together for a great contest. Giving away complete, autographed sets of Street Angel #1-5 plus the rare, original Street Angel mini-comic to readers and their comic shops!

One lucky winner will receive both the comics and an original piece of Street Angel art from the creative team, as will their comic retailer.

Rules and further details for the contest can be found at

So act quick, and enter today!

Monday, January 17, 2005

Owly: The Way Home Minicomic
Created by Andy Runton

Won from Johanna's contest I was very excited about taking my first look at this series which seems to have won so many hearts.

It is a wordless tell of a young owl just looking for a friend, who helps a lost young worm find his way home after a bad rain storm washed him far from home.

Wordless comics usually have an uphill battle for me, because so many artists are unable to convey what they want the reader to get using visuals only.

This book had none of those problems, as though the characters are very simply designed with few visual characteristics. The emotions portrayed with them is nicely done, and comes clearly through the art. Such as Owly's feeling of sadness over being alone, shown with downcast eyes and body posture.

I was so impressed by how smoothly this read, and how despite its wordless nature how long it took to read. (more than the average word filled superhero comic) That after finishing it, I went back to reread the book again to just admire the craft that made me care about these characters so quickly.

I'll definitely be seeking out more books in this series as soon as possible.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Wal-Mart Sells Comics?

I went to the Wal-Mart website tonight, to look up info on an exclusive Archie movie set that they had just released a CD containing 6 of the best Archie songs to promote.

When I type in to search for Archie I find numerous Archie trades and collections for sale. So I decided to type in other names, and from manga like Hot Gimmick to Maison Ikkoku and such, to indy titles like the works of Andi Watson and trades, hard covers and archives from Marvel and DC.

They carry a wide variety of stuff at some fairly nice discount prices. Which really surprised me, as I had no idea something like Wal-Mart would carry such stuff, even online only.

More Comic Quickies

She-Hulk #10 - This story might have been fine in any other series, or perhaps even in this series if it wasn't 2 issues from stopping.

Yet an entire issue focusing on the Titania character, with Jen barely even appearing, who I knew nothing about before and still don't care for after this. Especially having it be a darker more morose take , when this series has usually been fun and positive. Made this just a disappointment of an issue for me.

The quality of work isn't any less, I just was not interested by their choice of subject matter.

Blade of Kumori #2 - Only the second issue and the focus has shifted to another character. A superhero named Great White, made me pause too but his last name is White and the media labeled him that, who foils a bank robbery. When he gets back to his HQ he gets reamed out by his very cool female inventor partner for damaging the cool tech she designed.

Then the star of the book, teenage samurai warrior gal Kumori, shows up to fulfill her mission of killing him as ordered by her father. The two sort of battle over the streets, before coming to land on top of a building where we learn Kumori can't bring herself to kill without a better reason than being ordered to.

This would have worked better for me if I'd learned more about Kumori first, and not have to be sort of told how conflicted she was about her duties. The Great White character and his partners have more personality to them in the one issue, than Kumori has been given in her two issues so far.

It is still a quality production though, with nice art that has some great action scenes and a nice sense of movement. Still I hope we learn more about the star of the book in future issues, as she's a fairly cool kick butt young woman from appearances so far.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Quick Comic Comments

The New Avengers #1 - Okay I'm officially worried about my tastes right now, as despite many reviews hammering this series for me the first issue doesn't suck.

Yeah I know damning with faint praise there, but (full on geek mode) I LOVE seeing the Jessica (Spider-Woman) Drew again after loving her cartoon show as a kid and didn't even know she was still alive in comic form. The Peter and MJ moments were nice and the art was fun to look at.

Other than that, then yeah the plot is too slow, it doesn't make sense if you think too hard (government plans for every contingency except an electrical powered guy?), has allusions to conflicts I have no idea on (Luke Cage and some purple guy) and the last page shocker made me go "Who?".

Yet hey, considering that I thought this book would make great birdcage liner it is a surprise and I may actually look at #2.

Samurai: Heaven and Earth #1 - Ron Marz takes a lot of crap sometimes, but one of his real strengths sometimes is knowing when to "shut the hell up" as a writer and let the art speak for itself.

That's the case here, as artist Luke Ross makes a big forward leap in his work in this lushly detailed period epic set in ancient Japan.

That's not to say the story isn't good as well. The setting of a young samurai of the time and his love for his duty and his woman is very well told. Despite it being most readers first glimpse of the characters and world, everything is setup quickly so the story can get started.

Legion of Super-Heroes #1 - Finally a readable LSH comic after years something that seemed to only pretend to be Legion comic.

There is a sense of detachment through the first half of the book that bothered me a little at first. I want to get to know these characters and be swept up in their adventures like I was when I first encountered the series a decade ago.

I hope that the detachment was only a story telling device meant to introduce us to the world the Legion find themselves in. Which the second half that had the team members debating with each other over tactics and direction they were going to go as a group showed promise of realizing.

I do like the positive spirit I see though, and have hopes that I'll get to learn and love these characters and their world as time goes on. In the end I'm hopeful, which for me has always been the big appeal of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Comics First Impressions

I've found myself with a ton of comics coming into the house all at once over the last 24 hour period.

From the fine folks at Discount Comic Book Services have sent me:

The New Avengers #1 - Everyone I know of hated this book, yet I ordered it because it was only 75 cents to try. I've never been a fan of the series, though the idea of Marvel aping DC's JLA by putting their "big guns" in one title is strangely intriguing.

I wonder if this might turn out to be the opposite of "everyone praises something so much it can't live up to the furor." To be "everyone panned it so bad that when I tried it, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.' Probably not, but it never hurts to be optimistic!

temporary - Damon Huard's story about office politics looks interesting. For some odd reason DCBS sent me two copies of the book though.

She-Hulk #10 - Yay, Marvel's best series!

Legion of Super-Heroes #1 - Please be a readable LSH comic, please be a readable LSH comic.

Samuari: Heaven and Earth #1 - Ooh pretty art!

Blade of Kumori #2 - A superhero named "The Great White Man"? Wow.... no wonder the "hero" of this series is sent out to kill him.

Little Lulu TPB - Wow this book is a lot thicker and better looking than I expected.

Human Target 2nd TPB - Cliff Chiang art is as wonderful as ever. Why isn't this man's art better known?

Gift from a friend who was out shopping, is the Bone : Out From Boneville color GN from Scholastic, bought at Wal-Mart of all places for under $7. I never read any of Bone before, and likely would have passed on it if I'd seen it myself. Yet it is here so I might as well give it a shot I suppose.

Add in a box of stuff from a friend that I have yet to even sort out. Along with multiple volumes of manga bought at a closeout discount at a closing Waldensbooks store. Which means I will be buried under comics for quite a while. Which is a good thing.... I think.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Why Comics?

I had an interesting question asked me today by a non-comic reading friend who'd recently learned about my blog and postings to comic related forums. "Why comics?" or more specifically "Why do I spend so much of my online time talking about comics?"

I must admit that I didn't have an answer off the top of my head. I love comics, but then I love movies, music, TV shows and novels as well. Yet I don't have blogs discussing them or go to forums or news sites for them like I do with comics.

One answer I came up with is because this is the only place I have to discuss my interest in comics. Even with the most obscure TV show or CD, I can generally find a common reference point to discuss them with someone else. Yet in comics, despite a great deal of growth in acceptance in recent years, that just isn't so.

Also, when taking into account my fairly weird tastes in comics, at least in comparison to what popularly sells on the industry's top 300 sellers every month. Discussing what I like online, on this blog and other forums, can at times be my only hope to know about other projects I might like.

Whether it is an obscure band or little known author, there are magazines and other outlets that will offer me the coverage I need to have an idea what to try. With comics I really must work to find things that will be of interest to me which means spending more time online concentrating on comics than the other things require.

So thanks Brandi, if you're reading this, for giving me a reason to look at why I do this for. It was certainly something I hadn't thought about before.

Lost My "Collector's Gene?"

When I first started buying things at even a very young age I tried my best to keep them for as long as possible. Be it comics, toys, books and later movies, I just wanted the stuff on hand.

I can remember as a kid coming home some days and being shocked that my mom had given away/thrown away the pile of comics I'd had for 6 months. Even though I hadn't touched the books in a couple of months it still made me mad that she saw them as unnecessary clutter.

This collecting trend continued long into my adulthood. I had at one point boxes and boxes of comics. When DVDs made their debut I started collecting as many of those as possible, and my bookshelves for novels was incredibly stuffed volumes with novels I'd gotten when I was 6 to now.

Then one day I woke up one day and found myself wondering "What on Earth am I keeping all of this stuff for?" I'd realized that no matter how much I try I was never going to get everything I wanted. When I realized that it started a real change, because that feeling of "I got it all!" was never going to be realized.

Still I had all of this stuff and I had to make myself think on why or if I was going to keep them. Was I planning to someday rereading/rewatching all of these books/movies? W

Well maybe some of them, but with so much new stuff that looks interesting coming out every week it seems. The likely hood of ever making my way through the sheer volume of stuff I had was doubtful. Not to mention fast approaching the point where if I wanted to then I better stop getting new stuff now, as I had enough to last me for decades.

So I started taking hard looks at my own collections, selling/giving away DVDs I was never going to watch again. Trading and/or donating books to friends and libraries and the like. Oh I still have my own collections so to speak, I'll never part with my Zot! books (and some others) which are just ones I pick off the shelf even now to read. Plus DVDs like the Buffy Season sets and the like will also never leave.

Yet I've changed my buying habits a great deal. I've learned that the experience of reading and/or watching something was what I'm after not the items themselves. I've signed up with things like Netflix which allows me to meet that in videos. Libraries help me out in the novel department.

Comics are a bit more troublesome in some respects, because I live in a small area so they don't carry many comics in the libraries. Yet that just means my buying habits trend towards only trades or manga books, some that I know friends might be interested in later. Then I can enjoy the experience and then trade with these friends for more stuff, that I can then trade off to others for more.

I do feel a little envious still of those who do have the time, space and income to maintain their huge collections. Yet breaking myself of it has certainly freed up my time a great deal not having to maintain all of the various collections I had. Not to mention saved me a great deal of money and clutter in the house, and allowed me to enjoy everything more since I don't have to worry where to put it afterwards.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Tramps Like Us Volume 2

The lead of this book Sumire Iwaya is one of the better rounded characters I've seen in manga so far. She is incredibly smart, beautiful,and capable at her job, but all the things that make her so great also make her life a rough one.

Her looks and ability means she has no friends at work, as out of jealousy her coworkers gossip about her. They have to try and cut her down to their level, since she is so different from them because of what she's accomplished in her life.

Her home life isn't much better, as her fiancé dumped her because he's intimidated by her; since she makes more money than he does and is much smarter than he is. He doesn't think he can measure up to her successes, despite her attempts to show he doesn't have to, so dumps her for someone more at his perceived level.

This leave Sumire lonely and insecure about herself, wondering why she doesn't seem to fit in. One night Sumire finds a young man sleeping in a box in front of her building. He's been kicked out of his apartment and has no place to go. So she takes him in as a sort of pet, naming him "Momo" after a dog she had when she was a teenager.

He needs a place to stay and is fascinated by her, so will take any role to be close to her. The second volume is shown from his perspective a lot, and we start to see why he accepted this seemingly demeaning role as a pet.

He has feelings for her that might even be love. Right now it is just a need to be something he sees Sumire needs, someone to talk to and care for so she knows that she's appreciated.

In this volume Sumire attempts to stop smoking at work among other things. Which has the usual wacky moments of frustration and irritation that these stories tend to. Yet the funniest part is the end where she quits quitting, because her coworkers jump to the wrong conclusions for why she s quitting smoking which leads to more personal problems.

When I read the first volume I thought the whole Momo and relationship stuff took away from the incredible work based story. Yet as I've read more that stuff has grown on me, while still having the incredible work based stuff as well.

The things Sumire experience were things I'd seen some of my female friends go through. Those who because they were so different than the stereotypical thought of role as women, were alienated (by both men and women) for only trying to be, and do the best, for themselves.

This was the first time I could really see things directly from their viewpoint, rather than just try and be as supportive as possible for them during it. Which allowed me to see things I hadn't exactly understood before.

I'm anxious to read volume 3 now to see where it goes from here, as the two continue to lean on each other to deal with a world where they don't quite fit.

Stuff of Interest

>Charles LePage wrote:

> ComicList: New Comic Book Releases List for Wednesday, January 12, 2005,
> © 2004 by Charles LePage with information from Sun Coast Comics.

Thanks Charles!

> Hero Squared Xtra Sized Sp #1 Px Cvr, $3.99
> Hero Squared Xtra Sized Special #1, $3.99

The 1980s Giffen Era Justice League creative team create their own series in that vein. I can't wait to see it!

> She Hulk #11, $2.99

Next to last issue right?

> Love Fights Vol 2 TPB, $14.95

Looking forward to seeing this. It also is supposed to have an piece from Johanna Draper Carlson talking about the series I believe.

> Imadoki Vol 4 GN, $9.95

I really need to sit down and read Vol.3 soon.

> Rurouni Kenshin Vol 10 TPB, $7.95

Is this just now coming out in shops? I saw it at least a week or more ago in book chain stores.

> W Juliet Vol 2 GN, $9.99

Anyone know anything about this series?

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Writing is Hard

Here I sit on a day off from work, feeling a bit too tired to go out and do much. I feel as though I should be doing some writing for my blog. Yet what do I write about?

I suppose I should read some of the ever growing pile of comics I have. Yet the house has been filled with people in and out making noise all day. So I'm a bit too distracted to give anything I would read the deserved attention.

Perhaps I should do some link blogging?

Well Johanna has covered the second volume of Othello. Which is one of my current favorite manga series, so that's pretty cool.

Graeme over at his blog about writer Mark Millar being upset that there are no superhero books on Time's 2004 10 best comics list. To me Mr. Millar seems to be getting "what's popular" and "what's the best" confused.

David Welsh has a scary realization, wondering what someone may think of his comic collection in the future.

All of which are great things I could fill a blog entry about. Yet I don't want to...

So what am I going to write about? Hmm maybe I'll just fill a blog entry talking about how hard it is to find something to want to write about? Nah that'll never work!

Friday, January 07, 2005

Recent Manga Purchases

I was talking yesterday about the local Waldenbooks store closing, which is offering a discount giving me a chance to try some more manga. Some of the stuff I picked up were:

Tramps Like Us Volumes 2 & 3 - Yayoi Ogawa's series is about a young woman trying to make sense out of life in both the business world and her social life.

I loved the first chapter of the first volume a lot because it dealt so well with the business world and the struggles an intelligent woman can have there. I liked it so much that I couldn't get into the other parts dealing with her getting a young man as a pet (like a dog or cat would be) and the shift of focus on her love life.

Looking back on it I can now see the story for what it is and not what I wanted it to be. I admire the series a lot now because of its intricacies and lovely are, and can't wait to finish these volumes.

Ruroni Kenshin Volumes 9 & 10 - I honestly have no idea why after reading the first couple of volumes, I didn't keep picking up the series. Yet when a friend sent me volume 8 recently my interest was resparked and I was thrilled to see these two volumes there on sale.

Now if I can only find some of the earlier volumes too...

Things I want to get

Peach Fuzz Volume 1 Lindsay Cibos and Jared Hodges won the chance to make this series through the Tokyopop Rising Stars of Manga competition. The art looks really cute and a story about a nine year old girl and a prissy ferret could be either the height of humor or crap on a stick. Perhaps I'll take a chance on it soon.

Sgt. Frog Volume 6 is apparently out in comic shops according to Johanna and David Welsh which makes me insanely jealous of them.

Case Closed Volume 3 it was supposed to ship this week to shops but no one has seen a copy yet that I've seen anyway. I like the quirky comedy of a young man trapped in a kid's body, but still trying to be a detective.

Angel 13 I liked the first volume, though I'm not sure if I'll enjoy the fantasy elements that much if there is more of a focus on them in later volumes.

Other books I'm considering trying are Kare Kano, IWGP - Ikebukuro West Gate Park, Paradise Kiss and Maison Ikkoku.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Sort of Sad

I learned today that the Waldenbooks store in my local mall is closing up. The store has been there for 30 years, and I've been going to it since I was a little kid to buy books.

The store was small, but it always had a fairly good selection of things to buy. Yet in recent years the area has gained Books a Million and Barnes & Nobles stores, which the smaller Waldens size was just unable to keep up with. Especially given that the others had space for coffee shops, benches for reading and the like.

The only thing the Waldens store had going for it was the more intimate size, and ease of access to the employees who were friendly and helpful. Even getting to know their customers interests and knowing what to suggest, which the huge stores lack.

So it is sort of sad, though on the plus side they have 15% off their entire stock, so I'm buying as much as I can. To help me feel better you know.:)

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Today's Quick Link Blog

Frank Miller to Write all Star Batman & Robin - I must admit to being really interested in trying this book.

The Complete Frank Miller HC I picked up over a decade ago changed my opinion completely on the character. Having never read the comics before, I went from thinking of him as the goofy TV version to this serious and scary interpretation that was just very cool.

Frank is who I think of when I think the ultimate Batman writer, and I wonder what he will do, and how I will react (given how much I and my tastes have changed) to it.

I didn't think it was possible, yet I'm looking forward to reading both a Batman and Superman (Grant Morrison one) comic this year. Something I haven't been in over a decade now.

Mark Waid explains "confusing" sequence in his Legion of Super-Heroes #1 - I haven't read the issue yet, though from the images shown here it seems to show what he describes well.

Yet I have to wonder at the wiseness of taking any reader to task for not understanding it if did. I'm sure it is frustrating creatively, but I think you must take who your audience is into account, and sadly many comic readers aren't used to anything done as different as this was.

A friend of mine is a teacher and came home mad the other day. Her class was constantly asking her all day what she meant about a piece she sent home talking about "strategies to improve reading and test taking" and how she was going to take points off for not following her strategies in their work.

Her second grade class had no idea what the word strategies meant, sadly most of their parents didn't either, and thus she didn't understand her audience's needs.

Egg Story
J. Marc Schmidt
Slave Labor Graphics Publishing (July 2004) $3.95
Preview Pages

I have to admit that when I first heard about this book from Johanna's Review that I thought her shell must have finally cracked. A story about eggs just seemed oh so weird and strange, that I just had to give the book a look for a laugh.

Well once again she turns out to have been right, as this book was quite a surprise. Thus leaving me with, wait for it, egg on my face from all the jokes I did when she first reviewed the book.

The story follows the Feather and his sister Five-Spots, as they journey through life as eggs. They learn early that life is a harsh mistress when only minutes after being born they have their deformed brother thrown to the farmer's dog to eat.

There are some nice metaphors to life in general here, as simple things in life like shopping and dinner are given new light from being seen from the egg's perspective. The humor, like Feather becoming a ninja or the eggs screaming at finding a frozen chicken, are just light enough to keep things from becoming too morose.

Eggs are still such an odd choice to tell a story about, yet it works as the artist is able to bring them to distinctive life with only a few lines. That left me thoughtfully amused for a while after finishing it. Plus put off from eating scrambled eggs for a while.:)

Monday, January 03, 2005

Two Recent Comics

Adam Strange #4 - The action adventure continues with Adam escaping his own execution, only to wind up neck deep in trouble on a space station with a group of terrorists/freedom fighters known as the Omega Men.

This series is fun in single issue form because it epitomizes the fun of the old adventure serials exactly. The talent weaves such an engrossing story that pulls the reader along from beginning to end, leaving cliffhanger endings that make me want to see what happens next.

I'm not sure if that level of pacing would hold up long term, but in a miniseries it is working quite well so far. I guess because what helps it to be fun, is that I know the ride ends eventually. Which makes the emotional rollercoaster something I can just sit back and enjoy.

I'm guessing that the Omega Men are older characters, though oddly some members are women, but they work as new characters too since I'm told all I need to about them.

My one complaint for the book this time, is that the coloring is a bit too dark in places. Which adds to some of the spookiness this issue's story required, but made it hard to see some of the action.

Warlock #4 - Now this is how you should end a series brought to a hastened end by market forces. With the series underpinnings turned on its end, yet logistically makes sense. The ending making the early issues with Janie's dream sequences more nuanced that they seemed.

Even using the original version of the character in an intelligent fashion that makes him relevant to readers like myself who don't know him. While perhaps adding an additional level of interest for readers who perhaps feared this version was besmirching the previous one's history.

It is a true shame that the new possibilities introduced here will likely never be seen or followed up on again. Yet this series was a pleasant surprise, and will make me seek more work by the creators in the future.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Today's Reads

I'm taking a lazy day, just sitting on the couch reading the comics I've had piling up for a while.

Scandalous - J. Torres and Scott Chantler's original graphic novel about gossip columnists in 1950s Hollywood, at the height of McCartthy's communist hunt was an intriguing read.

I'm not really that up on the history of what went on during those times, but it certainly seems like the creators did work to make it seem believable. With fodder for the columns being nods to famous people and situations of the era, like Rock Hudson and Lucille Ball.

Whether the story is historical accurate or not, the things the characters go through are still very relevant today. With groups and individuals trying to ban anything and anyone they see as Un-American, which amounts to anyone who disagrees with them.

Which isn't too far different from what our country today is dealing with still in the wake of 9/11. Where if you disagree with certain choices the government has made/is making, you can be quickly hammered using the same terms.

Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga - While it goes off into awkward tangents that aren't nearly as funny as the creators behind them think they are. With a bit too much time spent laughing at themselves and disgusting humor about bodily waste.

It does have some intriguing insights into some of the nuances behind drawing that I hadn't seen attention show before. Such as drawing panel borders, which seem like something so simple. Yet in manga the design of which can say a lot about what type of work you're doing.

The art of swiping from others work is covered as well in some detail, and talking about how different it is thought of in Japan than here.

Yet most interesting is the breakdown of some of the various genres manga covers. Especially the look at how the "hero" of the Shojo (girls manga) has evolved over time. As well as a brief discussion of the differences between manga for girls and manga for women.

The book didn't really teach me how to draw anything, but it was certainly an interesting read to see some insights that I'm still new to manga to have realized yet.

Boys Over Flowers #8 & 9 - The poor girl who goes to a rich kids school, Tsukushi Makino, faces even further challenges in these volumes. When Tsukasa, the rich boy "bully", who has fallen in love with her finds her with his friend Rui.

Tsukasa tries to have them both expelled from school, only to encounter interference from his older sister who doesn't want to see him throw a friendship and potential relationship away.

It is sort of hard to really figure out why I enjoy this series. It has some pretty wacky themes that go fairly far a field, and the characters all do things that can be unlikeable. Yet the romantic triangles, fights, clothes designs and all just come together to make it work.

The closest I can come to describing this would be, that it reminds me of what Archie Comics would be like if the center was on Betty. Yet the school she goes to is compromised completely of Reggies and Veronicas, though her influence slowly starts to change things.

Othello #2 - Yaya is a shy girl, who always went along and never spoke/stood up for herself no matter how badly her so called friends treated her. She has a secret from even herself though, because in her is another personality known as Nana.

Nana doesn't take crap from anyone, and she doesn't have to as she can beat up anyone who threatens her. Plus she has no fear or embarrassment about herself, summed up perfectly by herself in this volume with "I don't hold myself back. If I want to do something, I do it."

Which allows her to do things that many other people can only dream about, though in this volume we learn that she hasn't really thought much on what exactly she wants to do.

I thought I had this series figured out after volume one, with Yaya being kept in the dark about her own secret life. Along with her personalities being so different that few others in the book could see they were one and the same as well. Surely that would be enough fodder to fill up multiple volumes.

Yet this volume moved all of those themes forward in gigantic leaps that surprised me. Not so fast that they seem forced or too rapid, just surprising because I'm so used to ideas being milked until they have very little appeal left.

Yet this volume kept some of the heart of what makes the book so intriguing, the Nana personality is very much an empowering almost superhero level vigilante fantasy figure, but has moved them forward in order to open up other story possibilities. While also making me wonder where the story will go from here.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Blog Panel

Ian Brill would like to see a comic blogging panel at a convention. Johanna Draper Carlson has been thinking about doing one, but wonders ""What do you think such a panel should cover, or how should it be focused?"

For me an interesting focus would be on the strengths and weaknesses of comic blogging.

Especially talking about the individuality a blog can give you, and both the upside and downside that can bring. Because blogging is about one person's opinion alone, with no one telling you what to and not to write. Which can be a plus because of the freedom that brings, but a possible minus if no one cares about what you are saying.

Of course whether it matters as long as something inside you is being filled by writing is a topic in itself as well.

Discussing how it differs from other options like message boards, official news and review sites and the like. Is another good topic, especially in terms of the many link blogging sites which would bring up questions of originality.

I think a discussion panel, with many bloggers discussing these and other issues, with a short Q&A at the end would be a nifty to attend.