I am writing this column a day earlier than I usually do in hopes that with more time it will be better written and better researched. Weird thing is I didn’t do any more research and I am not sure why I would be a better writer at 3AM on a Saturday than I am at 3AM on a Sunday. Let’s chalk this one up to pointless planning and once again celebrate procrastination.
The one exciting thing about this week’s column is it’s my 9th. My final single digits column. So sad. To celebrate I will be rewarding 9 lucky readers with a no expenses paid date with Forbidden Planet’s resident Shipping Monster/Skinny Pants-Wearer, Ben. You thought I was going to offer up Tech Wizard/Baby Eagle, Tyler, didn’t you? Here’s the thing. Tyler reads this column. He has to. Hi Tyler. He would edit this part out before you all ever got close to hand feeding him the baby shrimp he eats for every meal. I am pretty sure Ben does not read this and I am very sure he can’t stop it before it comes out, hence my contest offering him up as a prize. Good luck everyone. May the best 9 men or women win. Anyway, there are a lot of good books out this week and I ran out of jokes in mid January so let’s get on with the show, shall we?
There are a few publishers in the world that have such an amazing vision, such a unique and well cultivated sensibility, that their brand can be trusted without question, their logo on a book jacket is basically a greenlight for smart readers. Vertigo has always been at the forefront of those publishers. Sandman, Swamp Thing, Hellblazer, Preacher, V For Vendetta, 100 Bullets, Transmetropolitan, Invisibles, Scalped, Y The Last Man, DMZ, Sweet Tooth, Fables, Unknown Soldier, and tons more. That list alone is sort of breathtaking. Unfortunately for everyone who likes good stuff, Vertigo has fallen on a bit of hard times. Long running books are being moved to DC, books that traditionally would be Vertigo titles are being lost to other publishers, and worst of all, books are being overlooked. NEW DEADWARDIANS is one of those titles. Smart, fun, social commentary on gender and class struggle as told through a society of zombies, vampires, and humans, trying to survive together in post-Victorian England, New Deadwardians is the kind of book that would have been a must have for savvy comic fans 10 years ago. I miss those days of great books getting attention.
RIYL: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the works of Jonathan Swift, the Buffy-verse.
It’s always an exciting thing when you find an artist you can fall in love with and watch their work grow over time. Riley Rossmo is one of those artists for me. Falling stylistically between folks like Ashley Wood, Ben Templesmith, and Fiona Staples, Rossmo’s work is both unique and somehow familiar. Having honed his craft on books like Cowboy Ninja Viking, Green Wake, Proof, and Bedlam, Rossmo has once again put together a new project that looks like it may be his best work yet. DIA DE LOS MUERTOS is a short anthology series with a great concept, 9 good writers contribute horror stories about the Mexican Day Of The Dead for Rossmo to illustrate. Greatness ensues. The 1st issue of this 3 issue series is out this week and well worth the attention of anyone looking for the next great comic artist.
RIYL: The old Vertigo Anthologies, Creepy or Eerie, artists putting on a workshop for you.
Andy Diggle has written a lot of comics. Jock has drawn a lot of comics. Together they made brilliant comics like Green Arrow: Year One and The Losers. This week they are finally brought together again for the first issue of their “wrong time, wrong place” crime thriller SNAPSHOT. It came out in Judge Dredd Megazine in the UK but British people don’t always share their stuff with us well so Image is re-releasing it for us stateside. Man, I’m so happy we had that revolution. If you have never read any of their stuff get ready for fast paced, gritty, clever, and beautiful. If you have then I’m sure you’re already buying this one.
RIYL: Criminal, Rear Window, Stray Bullets.
I guess the story that everybody talks about with ZED is that it was Michael Gagne’s labor of love for 11 years. That is an awfully long time to work on a book. It would be heartbreaking if it was bad. Luckily for all of us ZED is pretty brilliant. This seemingly whimsical tale of an adorable alien turns very dark and brutal when the fate of his planet is thrust upon him. When I was young the stuff for kids that I actually cared about was upsetting, traumatic, and wonderful. Bambi, The Seventh Seal, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Pinocchio, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, Beetlejuice, The Witches, Lord Of The Flies, and on and on forever. That is something kids and YA entertainment has lost these days, the idea that it’s ok to be harrowing and terrifying. ZED has that perfect mix of innocence and brutality that makes it feel substantial enough for kids and adults to fall in love with. This is how classics are made.
RIYL: Bone, Wall-E, Lilo & Stitch.
I suppose a journalist should be impartial and have objectivity. I get that. Luckily, what I do is pretty far from journalism in most regards. Mostly I just tell you to buy stuff and you ignore me and buy Green Lantern. So with that first test failed I can move past and journalistic aspirations and put it out there that I have very little objectivity. There are comic creators who I like. I value their work and I pull for it to be successful. Luckily 99% of the time (maybe more like 87%) I am pulling for these creators because they are good and deserve to have readers. Joshua Dysart is one of those creators. I buy everything the guy writes. Remember a few weeks ago when I got real weird and preachy on how good Unknown Soldier is and how good his Harbinger vol. 1 is? Well now I am doing it again because I can. HARBINGER #0 is out this week. An origin story following the rise of the mysterious Toyo Harada, this issue is a great jumping on point for anyone who wants to read one of the best superhero books on shelves today. It’s nice looking, smart, and it isn’t something you have read 100 times before. Just do it.
RIYL: Morning Glories, Rising Stars, old X-Men books.
Well that concludes our 9th column together. Here’s to the next 9, may they be as sweet as our tears and as bitter as our dreams. Now to pick the 9 winners of the 1st ever weekly “Take Ben To Eat And See Where It Goes” contest. If you see a big $$$ at the bottom of this page it means you are a winner! Drop by Forbidden Planet with donuts, lamb & rice (no salad), or Dos Toros to collect your prize.