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.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Broken Frontier Fundraiser

Just a quick post tonight. I received an email recently about a fundraiser for the site Broken Frontier and wanted to pass the word along. If you enjoy the site, you may consider donating or if you have a relevant business or product, check out their inexpensive ad rates as another way to support the site. Not only are they taking donations, but they are also selling donated original art on ebay. In addition, if you donate via Paypal, you will be entered in a drawing for comics. Check it out below or on their website.

Broken Frontier Fundraiser
After covering the comic book industry for over two and a half years, Broken Frontier still lacks a major sponsor to provide us with some financial backing and to help us cover the costs of running this website. Even our sales of individual banners and buttons have been sparse at best.

Since the site was launched, BF has always enjoyed a steady growth, indicated by our switch to a larger server in January 2004 and our upgrade to a fully database-driven system last November. As our audience continued to expand, so has our focus on daily, useful and intelligent comic book coverage. Our staff keeps on garnering critical acclaim for its solid articles, reflected by the fact that BF quotes continue to grace comic covers and interiors.

In reality though, BF needs to find a way to cover its expenses in order to get by. Without a premier sponsor, the only means to do that is by holding a fundraiser. The goal of this donation drive is to raise a total of $3000, which will helps us get close to a break-even point.

Of the proceeds, Broken Frontier will be donating 20% to UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, in support of children in need around the world. Should total proceeds earned exceed $3000, 50% of the extra amount earned will be donated to the organization, while the other 50% will be saved for future expenses.

If you wish to support BF through our Fundraiser, you can do so by making a Paypal donation or by bidding on one of our art auctions.

Art Auctions
To help BF raise the needed $3000, several artists where kind enough to donate a total of 11 original art pages, which are up for auction on eBay as of today. Three artists were even kind enough to create a piece especially for this fundraiser!

Here's an overview of the artists, the original art they donated and the respective links to the eBay auctions:

Andy Runton -- Owly Pinup
Juan E. Ferreyra -- Small Gods #3 pg. 14, 20
Kazu Kibuishi -- Daisy Kutter #3 pg. 16, 17K
eu Cha -- Rising Stars #1, pg. 17, 18, 19
Luke Ross -- Scion #40 cover
Nicc Balce -- Random Encounter Pinup
Paul Harmon -- Mora Pinup

Paypal Donations
A second option for you to support the Broken Frontier Fundraiser is by making a Paypal donation through the Paypal buttons you find at the bottom of the message boards or below the left navigation menu on each page of the main site.

After the BF Fundraiser has been completed, 10 lucky donators will be randomly selected from the entire list of people who supported the donation drive (winners will be contacted by email). Eight of them will get a copy of The Art Of Greg Horn (Image), while two others will each get two TPB collections compiled from the following books:

Witchblade: Revelations (Top Cow)
Batgirl: Year One (DC)
Xenozoic Tales: The New World (Dark Horse)
Negative Burn: The Best From 1993-1998 (Image)

Remarks
All donations will be listed in the BF Fundraiser - Donations thread in the Announcements forum. Every donator's name as well as the winning bidders on the art auctions will be added to the list no later than 24 hours after the donation took place. At the same time, the total amount earned listed at the top of the thread will be updated, so everyone knows the status of the BF Fundraiser at all times.

When you've made a donation, please enter your name under "Note" at the Paypal donation page (if applicable). If you do not wish your name to be added to the donations list, please enter "anonymous" instead.

If you have any questions, e-mail BF head honcho Frederik Hautain at frederik@brokenfrontier.com or send me a private message through the BF message boards.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

May Previews Highlights: Erin's Picks

I love Previews, but I gotta say between all the Infinite Crisis drama and the House of M hype, I just didn’t find as much interesting this month. I do enjoy “superhero” comics, and normally my reaction to crossover-type action isn’t to be automatically horrified. This time, however, there seems to be so much crossover action involving continuity I’m clueless about that my eyes glaze over and frankly turns me off of most of the big two’s main offerings. I’ve been reading comics off and on for more than 15 years, but I’m lost when it comes to many of the storylines going on right now. So much for accessibility.

Pick of the Month:
Monkey in a Wagon Vs. Lemur on a Big Wheel #1

Check out the website.
Alias – pg. 235; $2.99; 32 pgs. FC
By Ken Lillie-Paetz & Chris Moreno
You’re probably reading this title and saying something like “who on a what? vs. whaaaa???” Yeah, well, it’s definitely some silly stuff … delightfully silly in fact. A five-page MIAW vs. LOABW story was one of the many comics in the “Even More Fund Comics” TP last year, and in my opinion was one of the very funniest. In fact I instantly wanted more. It’s got some Street Angel sensibility but a little more on the all-ages side of things. And now it’s a full-color comic – nice!

Featured Comics:

Grounded #1 (of 6)
Image – pg. 140; $2.95; 32 pgs. FC
Writer: Mark Sable; Artist: Paul Azaceta
This comic reverses the common kid-discovers-he-has-superpowers storyline. This time the main character is sent to a special school for kids with powers, but discovers he’s the only one without them. The preview pages looked very promising, so I’ll be giving this a try.

I Never Liked You
Drawn & Quarterly – pg. 287; $15.95
By Chester Brown
The solicit describes Chester Brown’s newest offering as “a harrowing memoir about the struggle to connect told with spare, poetic elegance. A self-absorbed teenager strays into the difficult territory of early love, while at home there is a slowly building crisis over his mother’s mental health.”

Rica ’tte Kanji!? GN
ALC Publishing – pg. 226; $15; 96 pgs.
By Rica Takashima
Don’t know why I haven’t noticed this publisher before. Not only do they have this book about college student Rica and her search for friendship and love in Tokyo’s gay district (story described as “sweet and funny, realistic and a little wacky”), but they also have a compilation titled “Yuri Monogatari” featuring seven stories from creators around the world and in a range of styles about different aspects of lesbian relationships.

Quick Picks:

An “all-new saga of Batman and Robin” is peddled by DC, which they warn “DO NOT MISS THIS ISSUE!” Alright, already, I’ll buy your stinkin’ book that “reinvents” these “classic characters.” But seriously, All Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder is written by Frank Miller so that’s good enough for me (pg. 62; $2.99; 32 pgs.).

If you’ve enjoyed Andy Diggle’s work on Adam Strange or The Losers, you might want to check out Silent Dragon #1 (of 6), a futuristic Japanese gangster comic, from Wildstorm (pg. 104; $2.99; 32 pgs.).

The cover art for all-ages Bumberboy Loses His Marbles by Debbie Huey looks extremely cute. This seems like a good book to pick up for the young comic fan of the house (Adhouse Books; pg. 212; $7.95; 96 pgs.).

AiT/Planet Lar’s newest GN looks to be an action-packed treat. Zack Sherman and Roberto de la Torre are the talent on Seal Team Seven involving the CIA, a SEAL team, and “a string of mystifying terrorist attacks” (pg. 226; $12.95; 128 pgs.).

Mark Newgarden, the cartoonist behind the “Garbage Pail Kids,” has his syndicated comics and other anthology work collected into this new hardcover book -- We All Die Alone (Fantagraphics; pg. 292; $28.95; 224 pgs.).

Trade Treatment

The Incredibles TPB
Dark Horse – page 29; $12.95; 96 pgs.

Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith TPB
Dark Horse – page 45; $12.95; 96 pgs.

Nightwing: Year One TP
DC – page 69; $14.99; 144 pgs.

Kinetic TP
DC – page 85; $9.99; 192 pgs.

100 Bullets Vol. 8: The Hard Way TP
Vertigo – page 112; $14.99; 224 pgs.

Y: The Last Man Vol. 5—Ring of Truth TP
Vertigo – page 120; $14.95; 144 pgs.

Bad Ideas: Collected TP (Wayne Chinsang, Jim Mahfood, & Dave Crosland)
Image – page 150; $12.95; 128 pgs.

Sea of Red, Vol. 1: No Grave But the Sea TP
Image – page 162; $8.95; 104 pgs.

Lions, Tigers, & Bears TP
Alias – page 235; $9.99; 112 pgs.

New Avengers Vol. 1: Breakout
Marvel – page 78; $19.99; 160 pgs.

New Captain America Vol. 1: Out of Time
Marvel – page 77; $21.99; 176 pgs.

The Pulse Vol. 2: Secret War TPB
Marvel – page 80; $11.99; 128 pgs.

Monday, April 25, 2005

May Preview Highlights: Kerry's Picks

Pick of the Month:

Serenity #1 (of 3)

Dark Horse; page 22; $2.99; 32 pgs.

I missed the original TV run of Joss Whedon’s Firefly, but have since rented and have become addicted to the show. I wait with eager anticipation for Septembers Serenity movie. This comic, written by Joss Whedon and about the Serenity crew, shows promise and I hope it can live up to the show.

Other Cool Books:

Emily The Strange #1: The Boring Issue
Dark Horse: page 32; $7.95; 48 pgs.

Emily the Strange has adorned t-shirts, note cards, and stickers for years. Now she finally comes to her own comic book. The book has a one page preview in Previews and it is beautifully drawn. The script looks funny as well. I’m not sold on the price yet though. Dark Horse might be using Emily’s fame to bring in a few extra books. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just that I’d like to see if the book lives up to the hype before laying down $8 for 48 pages.

The Dead Boy Detectives Digest

Vertigo; page 113; $9.99; 144 pgs.

Like Death: At Death’s Door before it, Dead Boy Detectives are straight from the pages of the Sandman: Season of Mists. This Manga volume written and drawn by Jill Thompson looks to capture both the Sandman and Manga styles. In this book dead boys Charles and Edwin flee Britain and arrive in the US to try to solve a missing person’s case. The plot is intriguing and the 3-page preview enticing.

Bumperboy Loses His Marbles GN
Adhouse Books; page 212; $7.95; 96 pgs.

The adorable cover pulled me in to this book’s description. The story sounds just as cute as the art looks. Bumperboy has lost all his marbles and must find them before the upcoming marble tournament.

Dead Eyes Open #1
Slave Labor Graphics; page 236; $2.95; 24 pgs.

This regular guy Zombie yarn from SLG sounds pretty good. Therapist John Requin has died. Death doesn’t stop him from working though. He goes back to his practice as a member of the undead. He has to learn to deal with his own death in addition to other people’s problems. Throw in a government conspiracy and you’ve got yourself an exciting new story.

Ninja High School Pocket Manga 5-pack Special
Antarctic Press; page 243; $30.00; 5 digest size volumes

Holy Crap! This is quite a deal. If you’ve missed Ninja High School so far, you can catch up very quickly and cheaply with this set. To celebrate the release of volume 6 in the series, Antarctic offers the first five volumes for the price of three. Now would be the best time to jump on board.

Grenuord #1
Fantagraphics Books; page 291; $4.95; 32 pgs.

I always examine Fantagraphics section of Previews closely. This month the first of the six-part story Grenuord looks the most interesting. The cover art looks surreal, but the story sounds normal enough at first. George Henderson leaves his job, girl-friend, and town to start life anew. What he finds in his new home is the most surprising.

Banana Sunday #1 (of 4)
Oni Press; page 322; $2.99; 24 pgs.

What can I say? It’s about monkeys. I love it already.

Ebay Comic Watch 04/25/05

Here’s the latest installment of Ebay Comic Watch. You can find these particular auctions by pasting the item number in ebay’s search box. Note that the ending times are in PST, so calculate accordingly.

Small Press Expo SPX 98, 99, 00, 01, 02
Bidding starts at $14.99, with BIN at $24.99, shipping is $10
Item number: 6527045784
Ends Apr-27-05 14:05:02 PDT

Complete Run of Indiana Jones Comics – 44 Total
Bidding was at $36 a bit ago, shipping is $5
Item number: 6527101610
Ends Apr-27-05 19:25:13 PDT

1977-85 Star Wars Lot: 49 Comics
(An auction that brings back fond memories)
Bidding was at $11.50 a bit ago, shipping varies
Item number: 6527538356
Ends Apr-29-05 16:24:32 PDT

Original Dave Gibbons Page of Dr. Who Artwork
Bidding was at GBP 34.33 a bit ago, contact seller for shipping
Item number: 6527881940
Ends May-01-05 11:23:03 PDT

11 TPBs: Jinx (signed), Planetary, Fables, Batman: Year One, etc.
Bidding starts at $0.99, shipping varies
Item number: 6528166465
May-02-05 14:16:56 PDT

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Single-Panel Reviews 04/19/05

Miniature Sulk
Top Shelf $8
By Jeffrey Brown
This latest offering by Jeffrey Brown is a mix of styles and stories—a Brown sampler, if you will. There are one-page nuggets, a mini-comic, and even random one-panel funnies, however, most of the stories are two or three pages long. In all of these, Brown presents anywhere from present-day-in-the-life tales to stories from childhood and wish fulfillment day dreams. I’ve enjoy Brown’s humor work the most, and many of the stories contain his wink-and-a-nudge humor, so this book was a real treat. If you haven’t read any of Brown’s books before, this would definitely be a good one to try.
Bottom line: A-

Mnemovore #1 (of 6)
Vertigo $2.95
Writer: Hans Rodionoff and Ray Fawkes; Artist: Mike Huddleston; Colorist: Jeromy Cox
The sample art in Previews first attracted me to this book, and the great art spills right out onto the cover, which is absolutely gorgeous. The story is about Olympic hopeful snowboarder Kaley Markowic who is just coming out of a coma due to a serious snowboarding accident. Kaley is dealing with life with partial amnesia from brain damage—and it seems there is more than just damage in her noggin to worry about. This science-fiction/mild horror plot just gets off the ground in this issue, but what I found to be unique was the wonderful job of pacing the writer and artist create together, especially during the last 11 pages. This first taste of the horror is controlled like few comics seem to manage. I think this first issue bodes for well for the mini-series.
Bottom line: B+

Hoax #1
Mental Note Press $2.95
By Eleanor Davis, Karl Kressboch, Nate Neal, Lydia Gregg, and Mitch Hess
Touted as “an all new anthology by all new artists,” the book is impressive for a first outing, and really is a solid anthology in its own right. It contains five stories by five different creators, of which my favorite was “Yolk” by Eleanor Davis. The different stories do share common elements, most overtly is the disturbing nature of the comics. Though disturbing to different degrees, and in different ways, each of the stories contained a point to the “horror” – this wasn’t just mindless shock-value writing or art. While not all the stories were my cup of tea, I do appreciate the high level of skill displayed. If you have enjoyed anthologies put out by publishers like Fantagraphics or Drawn & Quarterly, you will want to check this book out.
Bottom line: B+

True Story, Swear to God: 100 Stories
AiT/Planet Lar $9.95
By Tom Beland
*Sigh* Tom Beland’s work is sooo dreamy. This is what I might as well write, because reviewing Beland’s work is basically a gush-fest. He’s just so damn good at what he does, I seriously can’t find anything to complain about. I hate that. This collection of Beland’s work contains 100 of his daily strips broken out into themes such as “Life,” “Family,” and “Food.” He follows a similar formula in each strip, and delivers like very few other humor cartoonists can. The strip formula he follows isn’t particularly earth shattering, it’s how he tells the “microstory” that is an extra-bases line drive each strip. (You know, I really shouldn’t have baseball on while I’m writing reviews.) I highly recommend both this book and the True Story, Swear to God comic series as well. Great writing, awesome cartooning: what more could a reader want?
Bottom line: A

Monday, April 18, 2005

Comic News Update 04/18/05

Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics
James Sime talks up the newest winner of the Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics, one Daniel Merlin Goodbrey for his mini-comic “The Last Sane Cowboy.” In the column on CBR, Sime posts sample pages from the book (that look amazing) and gives some background on Goodbrey and his work. Knowing the quality of the past two winners of this award—Rob Osborne and Josh Cotter—expect some great stuff from Goodbrey.

Street Angel Ends
Another article I noticed on CBR was an interview with Jim Rugg about Street Angel. Apparently issue five was the last one of the series. Huh? Yep, that’s all folks. I enjoyed the first three issues of the series, but the last two seemed so different I couldn’t get into them nearly as much, especially issue five. I had no idea that was it for the series, which just kind of leaves me with a big question mark over my head. It’s really too bad such a short series with so much fun potential sputtered out after just a few issues. Well, I’m looking forward to seeing what else Rugg and Brian Maruca might do in the future, but I’m disappointed with this development in the Street Angel series.

Kleid Begins New Humor Column
Neil Kleid has a new monthly humor column titled “Take That Ratzis!” over at Buzzscope. In the column Kleid says, “I offer an, ah... unique... take on the ins, outs, backs and forths of the comic book industry. This week, I intercept an old email to Marvel's editor-in-chief from someone who's been making headlines these days.” That’d be none other than the Blue Beetle himself. Kleid’s tagline for the column is “The enemy never sleeps. Neither does the comics industry. Let's get some licks in.” This should be a very entertaining read to look forward to each month.

Eisner Nominations Announced
Well, it’s Eisner time again. This press release includes the master list of nominations and breaks down the most nominated creators and publishers. Of note is the new category “Best Digital Comic.” As is the case with just about any awards program, some of the nominations are spot on and others leave me wondering: what were they thinking? Eh, like my grandma likes to say “different strokes for different folks.”

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Ebay Comic Watch 04/17/05

Here’s the latest installment of Ebay Comic Watch. You can find these particular auctions by pasting the item number in ebay’s search box. Note that the ending times are in PST, so calculate accordingly.

Queen & Country #1-26 & Declassified I #1-3
Bidding was at $3.25 a bit ago, shipping is $6
Item number: 6525184633
Ends Apr-19-05 19:45:00 PDT

AWESOME DEAL ALERT: Berlin #1-11 + graphic novels
Bidding starts at $10, with BIN at $15, shipping is $6.50
Item number: 6526334531
Ends Apr-20-05 11:02:40 PDT

Sin City: Set of Six Graphic Novels
Bidding was at $0.01 a bit ago, shipping is $15
Item number: 6526415443
Ends Apr-20-05 16:34:52 PDT

(The Original Kirby) OMAC #1-8 (full run)
Bidding was at $5 a bit ago, shipping’s $3
Item number: 6525807672
Ends Apr-21-05 19:36:26 PDT

Ballad of Sleeping Beauty #1-8
Bidding starts at $0.99, shipping’s $3.99
Item number: 6526297192
Ends Apr-24-05 08:47:28 PDT

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Single-Panel Reviews: Top Shelf Sale (Part 2)

Here is a second and final group of reviews of books I purchased in the big Top Shelf sale. I also bought Master Plan by Scott Mills by one of my non-comics reading friends absconded with it before I had the chance to read it. I’m hoping to get it back in the near future

Bughouse
By Steve Lafler

Bughouse, the story of jazz insects living in a bug universe, is a lot more serious than one would expect. How deep could a story about instrument playing grasshoppers really be? Much more than one might think apparently. The musicians in Bughouse, Jimmy Watts, Slim, and the rest live with many of the same demons that haunt popular human musicians. They are heavy drug users, womanizers, and have violent tendencies. Despite all this, they manage to make great music and play for their fans. Bughouse is the story of this bug band trying to make it on the jazz scene and through the serious issues in their lives.

When I purchased Bughouse, I expected a fun little story about happy go lucky jazz musicians who happened to be bugs. Instead, I got an insightful look at the pitfalls of trying to survive a drug addiction while trying to become a successful band. Sure, the musicians in the story also happen to be bugs, but that doesn’t matter. Lafler treats the characters like humans and tells a touching story. The script isn’t all serious though. It has just as many funny moments as difficult.

Bughouse served as my introduction to Lafler’s work and I am very pleased with the result.

Bottom Line: A-

Baja (Bughouse Vol. 2)
By Steve Lafler

Baja, the sequel to Bughouse, is lighter both in length and substance than the first book. In this story, the band goes on a short hiatus while Bones flees to Mexico to escape false charges. While in Mexico, Bones starts up another band and meets a beautiful woman. He starts like anew while waiting for everything to calm down at home.

This story is what I was expecting when I picked up the first volume. While it does have its serious moments, it is a much lighter and breezier story over all. Lafler loosens up a bit and lets the characters have a little more fun and a little less tragedy. The script still has its fair share of laughs and is very enjoyable.

Maybe it is just the change in scenery, but it feels like Lafler’s drawing style has lightened up a bit as well. The backgrounds have fewer lines and many feel much bigger. Just as Bones is broadening his world view in Mexico, Lafler does the same with his art. I look forward to picking up more of his books.

Bottom Line: A-

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Single-Panel Reviews 04/12/05

Star Wars: General Grievous #1 (of 4)
Dark Horse Comics $2 .99
Writer: Chuck Dixon; Penciller: Rick Leonardi; Inker: Mark Pennington; Colorist: Lucas Marangon
It’s been quite awhile since I’ve read any Star Wars comics, so I thought I’d give this one a go. Overall, I was pleased. Other than a bloated, creepy Yodi, the art was well done—between the colors and inks, it felt like a mix of the “Clone Wars” cartoon look and a more realistic character treatment. It complemented the story very well, and speaking of the story, this was stronger than I thought it might be. It follows the Jedi as they come up against a new force—General Grevious, a machine creature who leaves a wake of dead Jedi in his path. The story centers around Padawan Flynn Kybo who proposes to the Jedi council an assassination of General Grevious. This is a good setup and solid writing—worth a look for sure (especially if you need a pre-Episode III fix).
Bottom line: B

The Expatriate #1
Image $2.95
Writer: B. Clay Moore; Artist: Jason Latour
Moore raises many more questions than reveals answers in this first issue of a promising ongoing of intrigue and mystery. Jack Dexter, although he seems to be escaping from something, doesn’t seem particularly “on the run” at the beginning of the issue. Nonetheless, he’s got two CIA agents hunting him down in what seems to be a Caribbean country—doing-his-job Murphy and hard-ass Conrad. By the end of this issue not only is the U.S. government looking for Murphy, so is local politico Eduardo Lobo, since Dexter has managed to get “involved” with Lobo’s wife, Maria. Moore writes in an afterword that this is “a story that will head into uncharted waters at the drop of a hat. We don’t think you’ll see where we’re headed, and if you do, we doubt you’ll see where we’re headed after that.” Sounds like a ride for which I’m willing to buy a ticket.
Bottom line: B+

Temporary #2
Origin Comics $2.95
Writer: Damon Hurd; Artist: Rick Smith
Envy Saint-Claire takes her next temp job, this time with the police department cataloging evidence. Detective Jimmy works at the 31st Precint and happens to be a very good and edgy interrogator mainly because he’s got five different personalities, though these personalities look to be struggling to determine who’s in charge. Envy and Jimmy’s paths cross (not to Envy’s advantage) at the end of this two-parter. Although the art is a little too Rocky & Bullwinkle meets Beavis and Butthead, I’m intrigued by Jimmy’s character and curious to see where this storyline will go, as well as to see Envy’s imaginary friend play into the storyline in a more prominent way.
Bottom line: B

Jane’s World #18
Girl Twirl Comics $5.95
By Paige Braddock
Another fun issue of Jane’s World – probably the best of the issues I’ve read, actually. Lots of laugh-out-loud moments—mostly related to Jane and Ethan’s new digs and a new character we’re introduced to—Skye. Jane meets her at a restaurant she’s never been to before, Garden of Vegan, where Skye is a waitress, and this seems to be the start of a new relationship for Jane. In other news, Chelle and Jill butt heads over Jill letting Chelle’s mom know where she is, which is a big no-no. Jane and Dorothy also awkwardly try to avoid each other. Plus there are big changes in store for the newspaper Jane works at, and we get some more back story on Jane and Chelle’s past relationship. Whew, there’s a lot going on this issue, and it’s an all-around kick-in-the pants.
Bottom line: A-

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Ebay Comic Watch 04/10/05

Here’s the latest installment of Ebay Comic Watch. You can find these particular auctions by pasting the item number in ebay’s search box. Note that the ending times are in PST, so calculate accordingly.

Superman 1941 Newspaper Comic
Bidding starts at $15, shipping varies
Item number: 6523553936
Ends Apr-11-05 15:29:43 PDT

Wonder Woman lot including The Hiketia HC
Bidding was at $5.32 a bit ago, shipping is $5.00
Item number: 6523813322
Ends Apr-12-05 15:58:00 PDT

Preacher 1-66 + extras
Bidding was at $33.50 a bit ago, shipping’s $1
Item number: 6524024924
Ends Apr-13-05 17:16:45 PDT

3 GNs: Bright Elegy, The Castaways, Last Exit Before Toll
Bidding starts at $1.99, shipping is $5
Item number: 6524685271
Ends Apr-16-05 19:13:55 PDT

Bear 1-6 (from SLG)
Bidding starts at $5.95, shipping varies
Item number: 6524899724
Ends Apr-17-05 16:39:34 PDT

2 GNs: 5 Is the Perfect Number & Like a River
Bidding starts at $1.99, shipping is $5
Item number: Item number: 6524949059
Ends Apr-17-05 20:03:20 PDT
Note: This and the other GN auction are by the same seller, who also has several other interesting auctions worth checking out.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Single-Panel Reviews: 04/07/05

The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty #8
Beckett Comics $1.99
Writer: Gabriel Benson; Penciller & Inker: Mike Hawthorne; Colorist: Michael Atiyeh
This marks the last issue of the series, and my feelings for this issue match those I’ve had for the rest of the series. I really dug the art, and the plot was alright, but had some trouble with the storytelling. My biggest criticism of this issue was that while other issues seemed to take their time with the plot, this wrapped up way too swiftly. The last several pages just went by too quickly in relation to the rest of the series.
Bottom line: B for this issue and the series as a whole

Angeltown #5 (of 5)
DC $2.99
Writer: Gary Phillips; Artist: Shawn Martinbrough; Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Another last issue of a mini-series here. I really wanted to like this series – and I can’t say I categorically disliked it – but the book just didn’t have all the elements it needed to succeed. Phillips offered up a strong and interesting lead character in Nate Hollis, but with so many other minor and inconsequential characters, the story surrounding Hollis was diluted and ultimately drained of personality and drama. It’s one thing to introduce extra characters as red herrings, but another to introduce so many that the reader loses interest in most of them. I’d like to see Hollis in another story, his character explored more, but with the storytelling streamlined and a meatier plot. The art was solid, but just wasn’t enough to save the book.
Bottom line: C+

Street Angel #5
SLG $2.95
Writer: Jim Rugg; Artist: Brian Maruca
This was another “different” issue of Street Angel, and I’m honestly not sure what I think about it. This time the book starts out with Street Angel hiding out in a warehouse with a has-been hero, Afrodisiac. They seem to be at their last stand against a fight we’re dropped into midway. Afrodisiac reveals his backstory, then there’s a Street Angel against the world scene where, of course, she prevails … and that’s about it. There are a couple very nice two-page fighting scene spreads, and the silver-age comic book treatment of Afrodisiac’s backstory is great. It just felt like it needed some more substance. I’m starting to think the best part of the book are the two covers, which are consistently superb.
Bottom line: B-

Or Else #2
Drawn & Quarterly $5.95
By Kevin Huizenga
This issue includes five short tales of varying brevity, most of which follow the character Glenn Ganges. Huizenga’s clean lines and sense of architecture are what consistently stand out in his work. The pacing and tone of the stories let you know right away that Huizenga is in control of the telling and the reader needs to let go and just go along for the ride. This is especially true for the story “The Sunset.” It would be easy to separate yourself from the story and wonder what the heck is going on, but if you let yourself be taken in by the visuals and just go with it, the resolution is entirely satisfying. The other standout story was “The Moon Rose” a simple story about the observation of the moonrise that turns into a wonderful scientific explanation of what Glenn and his neighbors are observing. My only criticisms are that being a reprint of prior material, I’d like to see some new things of Huizenga in “Or Else” and also for a small book (although surprisingly dense) the price seemed a little high. I will admit, though, that it was worth it … so I should probably quit my bitchin’.
Bottom line: B+

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Single-Panel Reviews: Top Shelf Sale Edition (Part 1)

Erin and I took part in Top Shelf Productions recent giant sale by ordering a crate full of books. We got about 10 books for $30, an amazing deal any way you look at it. Today’s edition of Single-Panel Reviews covers the first two books I devoured when our shipment arrived.

All Flee!
Written by Gavin Burrow; Drawn by Simon Gane

This little edition is about Godzilla-esque lizard monsters living a regular life in our world. Three stories are printed in the book: “A Finishing School for Monsters,” “All Flee,” and “Crusin’ with the Dorks.” The first two star the monsters and the last is about a nerdy rock band.

In Finishing School an old time monster tries to teach young monsters how to incite terror with old school methods. The youngsters aren’t interested in these antiquated ways and want to cuss and use semi-automatic weapons instead. This story is spectacular. It had me laughing from start to finish. The grumpy senior citizen lizard has some great dialogue.

The title story stars a female monster taking a vacation around the world and visiting all the major metropolitan areas. It too was spectacular and kept me laughing. Gane’s portrayal of the female lizard monster, complete with mini-skirt and lipstick, is genius.

It’s nice to finally get a story from the monster’s point of view. Who didn’t want Godzilla to eat Matthew Broderick or King Kong to break off the tip of the Empire State Building and shove it down Fay Wray’s throat? I know I did. Burrows and Gane offer as a look at how those stories should have ended.

I’m not entirely sure why the third story “Cruisin’ with the Dorks” is included. It doesn’t star the monsters, but instead stars a group of nerdy rockers. I was looking forward to another awesome monster story when I turned to this one. It just doesn’t fit in the book and isn’t nearly as funny or clever as the first story. I would have enjoyed it more if it was in a different book. Finishing an otherwise great book with this story was a huge downer.

Bottom Line: B- as a whole, but an A with the Dork story omitted.

Magic Boy and the Robot Elf
By James Kochalka

I’m not quite sure how to describe this book, Kochalka’s first graphic novel. It is about a lonely senior citizen that builds a robot of himself. The robot soon travels back in time, kills his now young creator and goes about living his life. Soon though, it all gets confusing and time becomes all mixed up.

I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I like the rest of Kochalka’s work. The story was confusing and hard for me to follow. It almost seems like two separate stories shoved together. A few times I had to flip back a few pages to see if I missed a panel.

My favorite thing about Kochalka’s work is his drawing style. I love his characters’ look. They seem simple and complex at the same time. Their expressions convey their emotions despite the limited number of lines that make up their face.

This book is worth a look simply to take a look back at Kochalka’s earlier work. It is an interesting, albeit confusing story.

Bottom Line: B-

Monday, April 04, 2005

Love Fights Volume 2 TPB Review

By Andi Watson
Oni Press, $14.95

Love Fights, the story of a regular Joe seeking romance in a world filled with super-heroes, wraps up in this digest-sized trade. Issues 7-12 are contained here and the book includes a few extras, such as sketch pages and an afterword.

This book starts with a broken-hearted Jack looking to patch things up with Nora. Nora isn't too interested at first as she is busy working on a sex-scandal story with the help of the Fader.

If I've said it before, I'll say it one million times; I love Andi Watson's work. Love Fights if my favorite of all his books. His writing style is sharp and his art is clean. He doesn't let copious details weigh down the story or the panels. They are clear and fresh.

While I enjoyed the digest size for volume one, I felt volume two could have used the extra breathing room that the full-size would have provided. Some pages were full with too many panels.

That being said, Love Fights is a fun story in any form. Watson proves he can write about the common man in a universe filled with superheroes and still make them seem extraordinary.

Bottom Line: A-

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Buddy Does Seattle Review

Buddy from http://www.fantagraphics.com/Buddy Does Seattle
The Complete Buddy Bradley Stories from “Hate” Comics Vol. 1 (1990-94)
Fantagraphics; $14.95; 336 pgs.
By Peter Bagge

What I’d heard before reading this volume is that it is a unique look into the lives of Seattle twenty-somethings in the early 1990s along with some concern that the material might seem dated. Although I’m a handful of years older than Buddy and live about 90 miles north of Seattle, I’d have to say things are frighteningly similar. Sure, the music has changed, the slacker attitude has waned a bit, and there’s less of the whining “hate,” but that’s about it. Regardless, I think just about anyone from any geographic location will have met a Buddy Bradley or two in their day.

Buddy Bradley is a slacker in his early 20s, a transplant to Seattle from New Jersey. He’s a little crude, a little immature, and a little unmotivated, with a fairly malleable conscience to boot. For all Buddy’s flaws and inadequacies, though, he really is a good guy with a good head on his shoulders. It’s whether or not he decides to use that head that makes a good story. And, boy, does he get himself into some stories.

Buddy, and all of his friends, find themselves in insane situations that are nonetheless believable, however crazy. (And I say “find themselves” because most have no idea that they are responsible for what they’ve gotten themselves into.) His friends include roommates Leonard (or Stinky), a more extreme slacker version of Buddy with “rockstar” tendencies, and George, an African-American recluse. Other cohorts are his ex-girlfriend Lisa, a completely off-her-rocker obsessive personality, and current girlfriend (albeit on again, off again), Valerie, who is preppy and of a higher tax bracket, but still crazy.

Of all these people in Buddy’s life, Buddy is definitely the most grounded one. The other characters seem to have no conception of “a line” and therefore no ability to judge if they’ve gone over it or are too far away from it. I guess what I’m saying is Buddy may be a lot of things, but stupid and crazy he’s not. He’s endearing in his own way, and that’s what makes reading his wild adventures fun.

These adventures include becoming the manager of a popular, but bad, grunge band that even Buddy doesn’t like, consistently keeping Lisa from going off the deep end, stopping a crazy store owner, Yahtzi, from killing him, … and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

If you haven’t read anything by Bagge before, his style is to capture the thoughts of his characters – all of them – so no “decompressed” storytelling here. Just an honest look at what goes through the minds of people and comes out in their actions. The characters are all drawn in exaggerated styles, even better exemplifying their mood through illustration.

Fantagraphics was generous with the price, as well -- $15 for such a large amount of material is quite a bargain these days. So, if you’re longing for the “good old days” of the grunge scene, or just want to read some wild tales of slackers past, Buddy Does Seattle is a good place to start.

Bottom Line: B+