The Comic Queen

Zip ribbons and word balloons, Wednesday bliss and Previews dreams. If these phrases mean anything to you, then you're in the right place. But if they don't -- hey stick around anyway. You might just like what you see.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

2004 Will Eisner Award Winners

Of the many, many news items out of the San Diego Comic Con is the announcement of the Eisner Award winners.  

Here are a list of the winners.

And here are a list of the nominations.

The accolades keep pouring in for Craig Thompson and his work Blankets. Have to say I'm a bit sad to see Rucka not come out a winner for Best Writer. 

One of my favorite series, Gotham Central, racked up a win for best serialized series. Of course this had to be for issues 6-10 -- ones I haven't bought yet!! Ah, they've just jumped up a few rungs on my ebay list.

Would have been nice to see Losers win for best new series, but I can't speak much to that since I haven't read Plastic Man, which won.

Any opinions on the results?

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Egg Story GN Review

My review of the new graphic novel Egg Story published by SLG is now up on the Paperback Reader site. Long story short, I give it an A-. As for the long story, well you'll just have to click here now won't you?

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

August Previews Highlights

Just browsing through this month’s Previews, I didn’t notice as many “oh wows” as usual. Nothing really spectacular jumped out at me. Though, I do have some recommended reads and will be checking out a few titles I’ve been meaning to get around to.

Speaking of which, one thing I noticed was the number of TPBs from the smaller publishers this month. There seemed to be more trades out than usual, so if you’ve been wanting to try a series from a smaller publisher—SLG’s Bear (now in TPB for $14.95) for instance—now’s the time.

Here are my highlights of the August issue of Previews for items mostly released in the month of October.

Pick of the Month:
My Faith in Frankie TPB

Vertigo – page 115; $6.95; 112 pgs.
If you didn’t check out this four-issue limited series by Vertigo when it originally came out, I highly recommend picking this up in trade format. The story is fun and irreverent with snappy writing and exceptional art. Give it a whirl for only $6.95. My only concern with this edition is its digest size—I think this would have been better offered in its original size format.

Featured items:
Solo #1

DC; $3.95
The DC solicit says: “What happens when some of the most talented artists in comics are free to unleash their creative vision across 48 pages? The answer is SOLO, a unique bimonthly series that showcases the best of the best of the biz!” This is an intriguing experiment that I’m looking forward to. It will be interesting to see just how “free” the artists are allowed to be with time-honored DC characters. This first issue is written by Tim Sale, Brian Azzarello, Jeph Loeb, Darwyn Cooke, and Diana Schutz.

Hard Time TPB
DC (Focus line); $9.95; 144 pgs.
This trade collects issues 1–6 of the newer comic Hard Time in DC’s faltering Focus line. I’ve heard lots of good things about this series, so I’m going to pick up this trade and take a look for myself. I really hope they do the same thing with Kinetic (also in the Focus line), as this series’ pacing lends itself to the trade.

Astro City: A Visitor’s Guide
Wildstorm; $5.95; 48 pgs.
Good ol’ Astro City. I bought the entire run of the series and one shots a few months ago, and although I haven’t read them all, I’ve yet to be disappointed. Kurt Busiek writes great stories about this city of superheroes and the people who live there from many different perspectives. If you liked Superman: Secret Identity, you’ll want to read Astro City. The latest offering is a step off the beaten track. The solicit says, “This cleverly designed guide features all the info you need about Astro City: neighborhood guides, restaurant recommendations, highlights, local interests, ads for local businesses, and even a guide to the who’s who of the hero elite …” Nothing like further blurring the line between fiction and reality!

Ocean #1 (of 6)
Wildstorm – page 102; $2.95; 32 pgs.
This science fiction miniseries written by Warren Ellis looks fascinating. It features art from Chris Spouse and Karl Story, has to do with Jupiter’s moon Europa, the key to life on Earth, “and quite possibly its extinction.” Need I say more? I mean really.

Bright Elegy GN
By Leland Myrick; Adept Books; $12.95; 112 pgs.
Winner of a Xeric Foundation Grant, “Bright Elegy tells the story of mystery, violence, and love – the story of one man’s conflicted journey – a man trying to flee his past while at the same time sinking into childhood memories of succor and comfort.” This has a lot of potential and looks to be worth a read.

Bighead GN
By Jeffrey Brown; Top Shelf – page 348; $12.95; 128 pgs.
While I’ve only read a little of Brown’s work, I do like what I’ve read. There is a lot of bare honesty that comes out in his work. Bighead is billed as a irreverent and clever superhero parody centered around the hero “Bighead.” Should be a kick.

Non-Comics Pick of the Month:
In the T-shirts section, page 428, there is a great Simpson’s shirt featuring “Homer’s” image from the Mr. Sparkle box.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Y: The Last Man #24 Review

O.k., didn't get as much done this weekend as I would have liked, so no reviews here quite yet. But, check out my reveiw of Y: The Last Man #24 at Paperback Reader. I'll be doing some reviewing for them, so make sure to check out their site. Three times each week they post reviews from several different people, i.e. perspectives, and feature other articles of interest. It's a good site, make sure to bookmark it for sure. I'll direct y'all over there whenever I've got a new review up.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Alternative Comics Needs Your Help

Via the Comic Book Resources website, the publisher of Alternative Comics is sending out a plea for orders. According to the open letter by publisher Jeff Mason, they are in "serious financial difficulty" and need help in their "time of financial crisis."

These hard times are mostly due to cash flow problems stemming from the bankruptcy of their distributor who filed for Chapter 11 owing Alternative Comics a significant amount of money. After exhausting all his resources, Mason is asking for your help now.

It's time to dig deep people -- let's keep a small publisher alive. Especially a publisher with such a nice catalog of good books, including titles by James Kochalka, the 9-11: Emergency Relief anthology, and Sweaterweather by Sara Varon.

I'll be ordering Quit Your Job by Kochalka and Salmon Doubts by Adam Sacks. Whatchyou gonna get? Oh, and if you've read any titles you think deserve a shout out, post here and tell us what you liked.

Check out the Alternative Comics website for titles that might appeal to you, and then call your local comic book store to order them. Oh, and there's always Amazon.com if you don't have a comic store nearby (horror of horrors!).

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Single-Panel Reviews for 6/30/04 & 7/7/04

Here’s a quick rundown of some comics I’ve read in the past two weeks.

Batman: Harley and Ivy #3 of 3
DC $2.50
Writers/Artists: Paul Dini and Bruce Timm; Colorist: Lee Loughridge; Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
I love Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, so this short series was fun for me. The three comics aren’t really a three-issue plotline, but rather three vignettes centering around two characters and their antics. In this case that’s Harley and Ivy. In fact wish this would have been set up a bit differently. Perhaps instead of three stories loosely tied together, they could have done a 4 to 6 issue series of distinctly separate one-shots. Anyhoo it is what it is and that’s a fun romp with two unique characters.
Bottom line: B+

DC Comics Presents: Batman #1
DC $2.50
First story:
Writer: Geoff Johns; Penciller: Carmine Infantino; Inker: Joe Giella; Colorist: Sno Cone
Second story:
Writer: Len Wein; Artist: Andy Kuhn; Letterer: Kurt Hathaway; Colorist: Bill Crabtree
These DC Comics Presents titles are the best tribute DC could have given Julie Schwartz. Kudos to DC for this project. Schwartz was famous for (among many other things) inspiring writers by conceiving cover ideas as jumping off points. So, in these tributes, artists are reworking Julie’s original covers and inspiring two new stories. The two contained in Batman #1 are both lighthearted in their own way and definitely reminiscent of the Silver Age of comics.
Bottom line: A

Sleeper Season Two #1
Wildstorm $2.95
Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
I’ve never read any other Sleeper issues, but thought I’d better pick this one up since I’ve heard such great things about the title in general. And I guess it just isn’t my bag, baby. O.k., first off, just to be really picky, who the heck is the chick in the car on the cover? I’ll buy that Carver is the one shooting on the cover instead of driving as he was in the actual issue—artistic license and all that. But really? Who’s the chick? Anyway, I’ve immensely enjoyed Brubaker’s work on Gotham Central, and I think that’s where I’ll stay for now. I appreciate the internal emotional conflict Brubaker is going for with Carver, but there really wasn’t much else I liked in the comic. I don’t shy away from language at all, but the profanities in this issue (not to mention the poop story by Blackwolf or the sex scene) just seem thrown in there for no real purpose. I just didn’t feel invested in any of the characters at the end of the book. I think I’ll save my money for something else next month.
Bottom line: C+

Fantastic Four #515
Marvel $2.25
Writers: Mark Waid and Karl Kesel; Penciller: Paco Medina; Inker: Juan Vlasco; Colorist: Paul Mounts
This isn’t my favorite storyline of this title in recent memory. I just can’t get into it. This “Dysfunctional” storyline has focused rather cheesily on the “Frightful Four” battling the Fantastic Four. It’s alright I guess, I think I’m just spoiled by Ultimate Fantastic Four right now.
Bottom line: B-

Ultimate Fantastic Four #8
Marvel $2.25
Writer: Warren Ellis; Penciller: Stuart Immonen; Inker: Wade von Grawbadger; Colorist: Dave Stewart
Originally I just thought I’d give this title a try since I usually enjoy a good origin retelling, and I like the characters that make up the Fantastic Four. This “Doom” storyline has exceeded all of my expectations and is more than I expected from any mainstream superhero story even. Right now the group is trying to figure out exactly how their bodies work and what their limitations and “powers” are. It’s just great storytelling folks. And the colors are INCREDIBLE. Do yourself a favor, pick up this title. Now.
Bottom line: A

Monday, July 12, 2004

New York Times on Graphic Novels

The New York Times Magazine tackles the subject of graphic novels in an article titled “Not Funnies” by Charles McGrath (free registration required).

I realize I may be harder on this article than many people because I write and edit for a living.

I have to say, though, I have mixed feelings about this article. First off, what a huge topic to try to take on even in such a lengthy article as this. I get the feeling the New York Times felt it should cover graphic novels since they’ve been getting more and more mainstream press lately. To me, it is sloppy journalism to not have a focused subject or idea going into researching an article.

And I get the distinct feeling that McGrath doesn’t have as much experience with the medium as he’s letting on. Now, I could be wrong, but there’s just this cockiness he exudes in his writing, but not a lot of substance to back it up.

Some things he writes just completely rub me the wrong way. “In fact, the genre's greatest strength and greatest weakness is that no matter how far the graphic novel verges toward realism, its basic idiom is always a little, well, cartoonish. Sacco's example notwithstanding, this is a medium probably not well suited to lyricism or strong emotion, and (again, Sacco excepted) the very best graphic novels don't take themselves entirely seriously,” writes McGrath. Sorry McGrath, but Sacco is not the only person who can elicit strong emotion or express lyricism in his work.

I also have problems with someone who when presenting a quick overview of the history of comics neglects to mention their incredible, and unmatched since, popularity in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. McGrath uses the favorites of sloppy journalism: only using facts convenient to his/her point and presenting his/her opinion as unqualified facts.

Ooooh, and the typo on Scott McCloud’s name (or McLoud as the article says) is just bad. That may not be McGrath’s fault, but still, it just detracts from the article.

However, he does make some good points and accurate statements about the nature of graphic novels for the masses: “First of all, the graphic novel is not just like the old Classics Illustrated series, an illustrated version of something else. It is its own thing: an integrated whole, of words and images both, where the pictures don't just depict the story; they're part of the telling.”

McGrath has me back and forth in his camp on whether or not this is a well-written, well-put-together article. But ultimately, I don’t think it is; and I think it does a disservice to the medium.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Temporary Hiatus

Hey folks. Sorry about the no posting during the last week. I've been in the middle of moving and now finally have Internet access (and my computer out of a box). So, expect a review or two by the end of the week. Now where did I put those new comics ... ?