Founded in 1993 to publish comics based on The Simpsons, Bongo Comics celebrates its 20th Anniversary this year at this past San Diego Comic Con. On hand to talk about their success were Bongo’s Creative Director Nathan Kane, as well as Terry Delegeane, writer Ian Boothby. and Bill Morrison. Joining them was Chip Duffy, who oversees the Sponge Bob Comics through United Plankton Pictures, to check in with everybody’s favorite damp yellow rectangle. Bongo’s current roster of titles has expanded to include the Simpsons books, Futurama, Sponge Bob Squarepants, Sergio Aragone’s Funnies and Mylo Xyloto. Bongo is a fascinating company. Outside of MAD Magazine, no other publisher is employing such a wide variety of talents. Cartoonists as varied as Jill Thompson, Geoff Darrow, and Gary Gianni have all had a go at either Simpsons or Sponge Bob.
The reviews are in! I was told this week that my column is mostly me “talking about yourself for 2 pages and then recommending a book.” While technically that is more of a synopsis than a review, the point still stands. I talk a lot about myself in this thing. There is a good reason for that though. I am a weirdo recluse who reads too many comics and can’t relate well to other people. I tend to wall off my emotions for fear of burdening others with my problems and I put on a big, farcical parody show of my own existence so that people will like me. I do this by talking about myself too much. My only real friend in life is Forbidden Planet’s Tech Wizard/Fresh Eater, Tyler, who I think hates me. I don’t value my own ideas and opinions so I try and build myself up into this larger than life character that is always trying to keep people entertained. This is why I have and how I rationalize having a column when I feel this deep rooted personal inadequacy. It’s a shell game, a distraction, using humor and long-winded anecdotes to keep people at arms length so they can’t realize that I don’t really have anything of substance to offer them. Thanks for bringing that up. Your criticism (synopsis) has been taken to heart. So this week we are going to TRY SOMETHING NEW. I am just going to write about some comics and remove myself from the dialogue entirely. I am bringing the integrity back to this column, this store, and comics journalism everywhere. I apologize for all the minutes of your life I have wasted with my sad, self aggrandizing charade and I hope you, my loyal-ish readers, will appreciate the new format.
First review: FIVE WEAPONS is a new 5 issue monthly comic book mini-series. FIVE WEAPONS is published by Image Comics Inc. FIVE WEAPONS is written by Jimmie Robinson. FIVE WEAPONS is pencilled by Jimmie Robinson. FIVE WEAPONS is colored by Paul Little. FIVE WEAPONS is lettered by Jimmie Robinson. FIVE WEAPONS is 32 pages, including ad materials. FIVE WEAPONS is full color, printed on 70 lb. low gloss stock with self cover. FIVE WEAPONS is rated T for Teen. FIVE WEAPONS is the story of a boy who is not properly equipped yet still attends a school for deadly assassins. FIVE WEAPONS is a spinoff of Jimmie Robinson’s semi-popular BOMB QUEEN series. In recent years Image Comics Inc., the publisher of FIVE WEAPONS, has had a higher than average success, rated against other independent comic publishers over the same period, of launching new intellectual property. Often times first printings of Image Comics Inc. #1 issues sell out at the distribution level and yield an average appreciation of 221% on the secondary market within a fiscal year. It is speculated that Image Comics Inc.’s sellout issues and surrounding media attention are, in part, based on the companies refusal to print overstock beyond the initial orders placed by Diamond Comics Distribution LLC at time of F.O.C. This leads to what some analysts deem to be an artificial scarcity that could be creating a “false” appreciation in value. The sustainability of that appreciation outside of the “speculation bubble” is based, in large part, on the intellectual properties options being picked up for development in a secondary medium. At the time of this writing FIVE WEAPONS has not been announced to have been optioned. Image Comics Inc. has recently stated that they are changing their policies in regards to overstock printing. How this will affect the secondary market for upcoming titles remains to be seen. Consumers looking to purchase a new story about superpowered assassins or looking to invest in a new property with sizable fiscal growth potential would do well to purchase FIVE WEAPONS #1 on or near Wednesday, February 27th.
Blaaaaaah. Barf. Snooze. The new format sucks. Integrity be damned. Actually just talking about books is boring. Sorry. We are going back to the old format of me talking about me talking about books. Sorry if it bums you out anonymous reader, but I don’t get paid to do this so I am beholden to no one but myself. Say it with me crust punks on St. Marks Place who only come to Forbidden Planet to try to charge their cell phones- “No gods! No Masters!” I might up the ante here and talk about me talking about me talking about books. I may already be doing that. We are getting meta here. I might pull a Grant Morrison and start making appearances in the comics in my columns. I might start lying about what the comics are about. I might start reviewing books that only exist in my head. Next week’s column is going to be called TRY SOMETHING THAT DOES NOT NOW NOR EVER WILL EXIST. It will serve no purpose other than to amuse me and abuse you, disloyal reader. And when I see you stop reading it in disgust in the store I will match your disgust with my own and I will follow you home and read it out loud to you until you beg me to stop, until you vomit. Who is the narcissistic self obsessed weirdo now, huh? Ok. Now let’s get back to sort of talking about comics.
Alan Moore has two new books out this week. The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen spinoff NEMO and the re-release of photo/literary biography of famed occultist/comic writer Steve Moore, UNEARTHING. Buy both of them or don’t tell people you like comics.
I am going to cram a three-fer of Marvel books into one paragraph. Why? 2 reasons. 1. When I post my reviews of Marvel books Marvel staff don’t ever tweet or post about it. They are too busy “complaining” about Bleeding Cool talking about their books to bother to support small blogs of large comic book stores (not bitter). 2. But these books are something new from Marvel though so I should be covering them and you should be giving them a chance. The compromise? Less column space. First up- GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #0.1 (Oh WTF Marvel?!? What the Holy #&<@ is that? Use whole numbers!). Guardians is a funny one. A few years ago Marvel couldn’t pay you to give a $#!% about their “cosmic” books even though they were, for the most part, very good. Then they decided to make a Guardians Of The Galaxy movie so they pumped a lot of money into telling you you like Guardians Of The Galaxy and you believed them. Lucky of all of us the new book is really good. Successful cultural brainwashing! 2. ULTIMATE X-MEN #23 (A whole number! Yay!) Ultimate X-Men has been a Bermuda triangle for brilliant comic writers for years. Bendis, Millar, Vaughan, Kirkman, Carey, etc have all done some of their worst work there. For some reason Brian Wood didn’t notice this and launches his brand new arc this week. It isn’t just the best Ultimate X-Men has been, this is some of the smartest stuff Marvel has published in years. Read it. 3. X-TREME X-MEN Vol. 1: XAVIER MUST DIE. Marvel’s EXILES book was a brilliant and fun way to turn nobody characters into compelling leads. It worked well because the throw-away nature of the characters meant that the stakes always felt higher and the characters and writing reflected that. Marvel basically relaunched EXILES but wanted a much worse name that reminded us of awful 90′s comics, Mountain Dew, and rollerblading. Hence; X-TREME X-Men. Despite their best efforts to make something unappealing this book is quite fun. If it goes on long enough and writer Greg Pak is allowed to cut loose and chart his own course this book could be something worth really cherishing. It is off to a great start.
BART SIMPSON #80. The shocking “The Death of Bart” storyline wraps up in this issue with a brutal and heartbreaking conclusion. Bongo has done a great job of making Bart’s descent into the murky underworld of Springfield’s drug and human trafficking rings feel visceral, frightening, and most of all compelling. Bart is a real character pushed too far and the things he has had to do, while not morally acceptable, are understandable to the reader. He has made himself a pariah, but he has also made himself the last honest man. Much like Hamlet, when you started reading The Death of Bart arc you knew it had to end with his murder, but it doesn’t make it any less harrowing. When Bart finally meets his end the tragedy of the moment comes with something else, a palpable sense of relief that a life lived too hard can finally come to rest. Like the gun barrel he slowly puts in his mouth, we as readers are now participants in a crime that is equal parts heinous and catharticly beautiful. And, in Bart’s passing, Springfield itself dies a little too. When his limp body, battered, broken, and abused, is pulled from the river, for the first time in years we see Bart as the child he always should have been but never could be. And as the stonefaced residents watch Marge breaking down and clawing at her own skin, each resident of Springfield knows their role in the death of a boy who never stood a chance. Bart has always worked well as a metaphor for the working classes struggle to define itself and for America’s ability to cannibalize it’s own young for the sake of some poorly defined idea of progress. In that, the death of the last boy in Springfield, USA is the death of us all. A beautiful and tragic conclusion to one of the great cartoons of all time. Ay Caramba, Bart. Ay Caramba.
Valiant‘s stunningly good relaunch continues with BLOODSHOT Vol. 1: SETTING THE WORLD ON FIRE. An inverse of Captain America, Bloodshot is the story of a government super soldier program gone horribly wrong. The Valiant books are as smart and pretty as almost anything at the Big 2, but the fresh characters give the stories a chance to cut loose and provide twists and turns you won’t see coming. X-O Manowar and Harbinger have already released their first trades and are fast becoming fan favorites for the superhero set and I expect Bloodshot to follow suit. For anyone who feels like some of their “people punching people” books have started to become stale, Valiant is trying really hard to give you a fresh alternative. And at $9.99 for the collection why wouldn’t you buy it?
I love Chris Ware. Bit redundant to say so this holiday season with everyone and their sister buying Building Stories, but with so much comic awesomeness that happened in 2012; between Charles Burn’s second installment to his X’ed Out trilogy, The Hive, and Brian K. Vaughn’s Saga…SAGA… It’s too easy for amazing comics to get lost in the stacks, so I’m here to give my somewhere around the number 10 best comics of 2012 that nobody told you about…
Michael DeForge might be the most prolific cartoonist working right now. He pumps more work and at a higher quality that would make any other cartoonist want to quit, or work harder…..no quit thats the correct response. On top of Lose #4 this year you can also see his work in the pages of Adventure Time comics, where he does the backgrounds,variant covers, anthology stories in Nobrow 7 (more on that in a bit) and the newest KUS, not to mention his on going serial Ant Comics, oh and his porn comic that he designs that features work by Johnny Negron, Brandon Graham, and Jillian Tamaki….more on all of them latter too…Bottom line, DeForge has a hand in everything and you’re probably a fan of his already, so read Lose, or Ant comics, or KUS, or Nobrow, or one of the million other things he worked on this year. King of comics 2012 goes to DeForge, no contest.
The Underwater Welder
Did I mention that DeForge is Canadian? Canadians….must be a universal sigh when cartoonist’s who aren’t Canadian talk about them. Jeff Lemire is another cartoonist hailing from The Great White North. Lemire had a full year of releases with Sweet Tooth Volume 4 and 5, the reprinting of his Xeric grant book Lost Dogs and Underwater Welder. Underwater Welder is for lovers of well paced, clear story telling, and the Twilight Zone. Lemire has an economy to his comics, the art is quick yet purposeful in the same manner as the writing, which rewards the reader with a world that they can envelope themselves in. Lemire is an odd school of cartooning, he’s not so deep into independent styled comics as DeForge, but he isn’t mainstream either (though he does write the only two books at DC still worth reading Animal Man, & Frankenstein Agent of Shade ). He’s a cartoonist in love with genre but doesn’t mistake comics to be only that.
Nipper Volume 3
Nipper Volume 3 finally came out! WOOOOOOO! I might be the only American to love Nipper so go buy it and prove my gross presumption wrong. Keeping in theme with brilliant Canadian cartoonists, Nipper volume 3 is the Canadian version of Family Circus, if Family Circus was anything like a real family and not so adorable that even your grandmother finds it lame. Always silent, black and white line work with one beautiful saturation of red dropped into each panel, Doug Wright creates multi-layered story telling, in the most simple yet still incredible complicated drawing. Just go look already, and then come meet me for coffee to talk about it, I’ll be here till next year trying to describe why it’s so effffffing smart.
Diary Comics 4
Dustin Harbin is yet another broken hearted cartoonist, upset that his nationality isn’t Canadian. Diary Comics 4 starts with Dustin talking about how amazing it is to be in attendance at the Doug Wright rewards (the Canadian version of the Eisners), and how he wishes we as American could take comics as seriously as they do. Why can’t we folks? Dustin’s beautifully minimalist drawings deceive readers with their simplicity, when they are really just the right amount of information needed, each mark done with purpose in mind and simply decroative. Go read em’ they’re good. And if your not a fan of memoir, you just like the punching and kicking comics, he did letter Casanova sooo…..I don’t know Matt Fraction wrote Iron Man for like a century right? See the full picture of creators not just the characters you like….
Pope Hat #3
Pope Hat #3 by Ethan Rilly. Rilly is surprise surprise, another Canadian. Pope Hats is technically 3 issues deep but you really only need/want two and three. In Pope Hats Rilly tells the story of Franny, a young law clerk at a massive law firm, picture Wall Street with less Charlie Sheen….okay no Charlie Sheen, just that one part where he gets punched in the face by Michael Douglas… Rilly drawings show traces of his influences but they don’t unhinge the story. You can see traces of Doug Wright’s drapery in the clothing, and bits of Shultz popping up in the rendering of grass and clouds. It’s like a love letter to days past when cartooning was a profession and getting a weekly strip in a newspaper was the dream. Pope Hats narrative shares a similar tone of nostalgia with its drawing, that bitter sweet pain, from an old wound.
Thats the end of Part 1. Part 2 on Sunday 12/23/12.
Two days before humanity faces the Rapture or enters The Supercontext or, most likely, just plain wakes up to another Friday morning (EST, Greenwich Mean Time +2:00 if you’re in Botswana… your results may vary) we face another New Comic Wednesday!!!
Here’s the full list of what Forbidden Planet NYC will be offering. Highlights include Saga #8, All New X-Men #4, Avengers #2, Captain America #2, Django Unchained #1, FF #2, Happy #3, and a whole slew of other worthy works.
While I’m at it, why not link to my Graphic Novel pick of the week… The new Archaia printing of Jeremy Bastain’s suh-weeeeeet Cursed Pirate Girl.
This could be your last New Comic Day on this plane of existence. Or not. Either way, enjoy the hell out of it!
Boy, do I feel like a complete Zero…would really hit the spot right about now! HA HA! See, DC is putting out multiple “Number 0” issues of their comics this week, so I was doing a word play on “zero” meaning both “nothing” and as a digit for numeration.
Geez, Spider-Man makes zingers look easy. Comedy is hard. Sometimes you go to the joke crib in your mind to find the dang thing empty.
Action Comics #0, Detective Comics #0, Earth 2 #0, Animal Man #0, Swamp Thing #0, the list goes on and on. “#0” comics were a fad started in the 90’s for finding a special way to tell prequel tales to comics which had been running for decades. Some of these DC books haven’t even hit a years worth of publishing, and already they’re getting prequel stories.
“Dial H For Hero” is getting a special #0 comic this week, too?! I’m used to zombies, gamma-radiated super beings and alien invasions, but this is just plain weird.
I suppose it makes a certain kind of sense. All of these titles are reboots, so the prequels will set up how their origins may have been reshaped and reformed. MAYBE, for example, we will learn that Batman’s parents weren’t gunned down in an alley by a criminal, spiraling his life off into a trajectory of revenge on crime. Maybe this time he’s just a violent jerk who likes punching people in weird, fetishistic costumes.
The first issue of Extermination slipped by me, but Extermination #2 hits the shelves this week and I’ll have a chance to pick up on what I missed. The premise is groovy; Aliens have taken over the world and the superheroes and the super villains must put aside their differences to try and win the Earth back. This would have made a swell DC Elseworlds story, if all of current DC continuity wasn’t already one long running, though fun, Elseworlds story.
Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos are a two-fisted dervish of hard hitting awesome on Amazing Spider-Man, and they’re introducing a new character to the Marvel U in this week’s Amazing Spider-Man #693! Continue reading
Forbidden Planet NYC will be giving away bags containing one of each Free Comic Book Day comic that we receive, as well as a coupon for purchases both in-store and online! These are on a first come, first served basis, so ARRIVE EARLY! All-Ages bags will also be provided so that comics fans young and old can enjoy Free Comic Book Day. Once we give out all complete bags we will then distribute any remaining FCBD comics at our discretion. PLUS, we may also have some unannounced stuffs to give away as well.
These goodie bags go fast, so once again: ARRIVE EARLY!
This week we will be taking a look at comic books and comic book related pieces of paper, stapled together, with colored inks depicting serial adventures featuring words and pictures.
Ya’ can’t do better this week than the Empowered Deluxe Edition from Dark Horse! Empowered is smart, sexy, funny, and sensationally well drawn. Conceived as a one-off ‘Damsel in Distress” character for convention sketches, Empowered is a super heroine Polly-Anna who refuses to give up no matter how little she wears nor how little respect she gets doing it.
Adam Warren, the brilliant writer/artist is one of the Granddaddies of the American Manga style. EVERY panel in this book is a text on “How To Draw Manga Better than Anyone you Know.”
“ WHAT’S THAT,” you say? You HATE funny, clever comics that stand sexism on the ear while simultaneously serving more cheesecake than a Sara Lee baker?
Well let me ask YOU a question…do ya’ like damn dirty apes?
Terror on the Planet of the Apes #1 is a reprint comic from BOOM!, originally published by Marvel in 1974, with art by Moon Knight big wig Doug Moench and one of my FAVORITE Ghost Rider artists, Mike Ploog! Retro fun featuring talking monkeys being positively rude, crude, and Post-Apocalyptically-Screwed. Win, lose or draw, this book is going to feature gun totting primates hating humans with .45 caliber vengeance!
OR: how about some fun indie books? Image’s Orc Stain #7 is always a good time, Ralph Wiggum Comics #1 from Bongo promises to have Ralph Wiggum, and Sergio Aragone’s Funnies #8 will be more fun than the EPA will allow. Also on sale this week at the Forbidden Planet is the latest issue of Buckaroo Bonsai #1 from Moonstone.
IF you’ve never seen the beloved cult film “Buckaroo Bonsai: Across the 8th Dimension” then go do it RIGHT NOW. I can wait.
DONE. NOW, wouldn’t it be awesome if there were MORE crazy cool adventures featuring those characters. Well there are, and they’re on sale this week. You are welcome.
SMELLS LIKE TEAM SPIRIT
THAT’S RIGHT; they’re all fantastic team books available this week from the top publishers in the biz. Coincidentally, if you take the first word on the first page of ever comic I mentioned above IN THE ORDER I mentioned above, then continue on doing the same thing with the rest of the pages you will have an incantation that will summon a powerful demon named Adremelech, who will roast the children of your enemies on the pyres of Sepharviam as revenge for their misdeeds!
Now THAT’S what I call a crossover!
NEXT WEEK: Comics about puppies, rainbows and froggies.
More musings from Unkiedev, Earth’s own sidekick, can be read at unkiedev.blogspot.com
Coming next Wednesday, February 29th (helloooo Leap Year): Ralph Wiggum Comics #1!!!
In the first of Bongo Comics’ soon to be legendary Simpson Comics One-Shot Wonders, Ralph Wiggum takes center stage. In his first solo outing, Ralph has a day off of school, is left home alone, and becomes a role model to a new kid in town. Add in some short features by Sergio Aragonés and watch the chaos ensue!
A comic so good even crusty old Super Nintendo Chalmers would approve.
You are in luck, my friend, as there are so many AMAZING comic books out this week that you could probably buy one at random and still get somethin’ snazzy! Still, my job as a Forbidden Planet columnist is to provide you with some professional perspective to guide the dart of your paycheck towards that big red bulls-eye of a great read. Please consider the following:
Too Much Coffee Man Omnibus, Shannon Wheeler (W/A), Dark Horse
Back in my day “Hipster” was called “Grunge” and there were several great comics out detailing the finer points of Grunge anthropology. Peter Bagge’s brilliant “Buddy” and “Hate” comics spring to mind, as does Shannon Wheeler’s Too Much Coffee Man.
Too Much Coffee Man is the café culture’s zeitgeist, an armchair super hero who worries about the universe’s gestalt while sipping mocha with his friends Too Much Expresso Man and Too Much German White Chocolate With Almonds Girl. Yes, really.
They don’t fight much crime, but they do ponder their place in the vast quandary that is human existence…and it’s really flippin’ funny! The TMCM Omnibus from Dark Horse collects a snot load of this good stuff for a cheap-oh price! Pick this book up and drop it on your lavatory cistern for easy retro-cool credibility.
Secret Society of Super Villains HC, Various (W/A), DC
When you’re done feeling all erudite and superior after that last book, bring it back to basics with this collection of Super-villains punching brightly colored dufi in their collected bread baskets!
Secret Society of Super Villains HC is a gorgeous, full color reprint edition of silver age comics featuring silly DC villains trying their darndest to get the upper hand on their good-guy foils. It will be weird, it will be stupid, it will be silly…but it sure won’t be boring!
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Continue reading