Category: Looking Back

Somewhere Around The Number Ten Best Comics That Nobody Told You About

Part 1:

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 SagaSAGA… 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…

LOSE #4

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.

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Superman Don’t Need No Seat Belt

I’ve just spent a day processing, reading, and generally fondling this week’s new release comic books, GNs, and art books.  Though there’s a ton of great stuff hitting our shelves here’s my highest recommendation for the 10th of November, 2010.

Superman vs Muhammad Ali DcC ComicsSuperman vs. Muhammad Ali Deluxe HC- Oh, happy day.  One of my most coveted comics of all time is finally reprinted!  No hyperbole there- I’ve literally yearned for a copy of this since it first landed on my comic-loving radar nearly 25 years ago.  Scarcity, lack of timely funds, and other circumstances have led me to a frustrating wait for this lovely day when DC Comics finally reprints this historic work by Dennis O’Neil (writer) and Neal Adams (artist).

In 1978, an alien race called the Scrubb demands that Earth’s greatest champion battle their world’s own greatest fighter. Both Superman and Muhammad Ali step forward – and to determine who is truly Earth’s greatest fighter, Superman temporarily loses his powers and faces Ali in the ring. Ultimately, the duo must work together to defeat the Scrubb, with Ali taking on their champion while Superman battles their space-armada.

As an added bonus, DC is republishing the comic in two hardcovers.  Retailing at twenty bucks, the deluxe edition has a trim size of 7.0625″ x 10.875″ and features a new cover by Neal Adams, previously unpublished artwork and various other extras.  At forty bucks, the facsimile edition features the original, iconic cover, and is reprinted in the classic’s 10″ wide by 13.25″ high trim.

Decisions, decisions.  I may just have to go with both.

On a very tangential note, by the time I was old enough to grasp the cultural significance of Ali he was hawking roach motels all over television.  Around about the same time (maybe a few years later)  Billy Dee Williams was schilling for Colt 45 malt liquor in commercials as well.

Do you solely associate Ali with roach motels to this day?  Not at all.  He was one of the most charismatic and inspirational figures of the 20th Century.  Billy Dee Williams played Lando Calrissian for the love of Pete!!!  Yes, he was smooth, but why the hell are we still lumping the man with the booze he pushed?  Surely we can respectfully retire the “Works Every Time” refrain in deference to Mr. Williams’ acting geek-cred as surely as Mr. Ali will be remembered for his achievements outside of bustin’ up household pests.

Right?  Please?

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LOOKEE! for the 14th of October, 2010

Unca Grant as one angry, frilly-shirted badass vs. My Chemical Romance

Redemption:  The sequel to one of the most ambitious SF cinema flops of all time is expected to become one of the biggest films of all time.

What’s happening to my special purpose?  Action Flick Chick as The Baroness NYCC

Vanity: Jeff Ayers on Jeff Ayers’ job. 26 minutes of me pontificating upon the vagaries of NYC comic retail on the hottest day in recorded NYC history. In reality I know the difference between Detective Comics #27 and #37 and tensile and tactile.  Saw a doctor and got rid of it.

Lord loves a workin’ man:  Grant Morrison on Twitter.

When you’re rich and famous you’ll send me a postcard:  Thank you, Messrs. Gaiman and McKean for all the conversation pieces you’ve provided me throughout the years.  Thank you DC for changing The Sandman’s trade dress all old-timey and shit.

Don’t trust whitey:  Comics cover price = $2.99?

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Four Years of The Weekly Planet

The Weekly Planet, FPNYC’s newsletter for in-store customers, celebrated its four year anniversary last week.  Since that first sweltering summer night we hand-copied and stapled a coupla hundred 8×11 sheets of copy paper on which I wrote an impassioned letter to members of our comic book subscription program back in 2006, to that sweltering summer night in 2010 when we brought a file over to our local printer for them to put together, the WP’s been through the rigors of geek retail without missing a week and lived to tell the tale.

That being said I’d like to quickly thank all past and current contributors (especially Devin T. Quin, Mat Kerwin, Matt Desiderio, and Mark Denardo), the various FP staffers who helped lay out issue after issue (esp. Lindsay Johnson and Alice Meichi Li) and all guest contributors (esp. Shannon Wheeler and Julia Wertz).

Though I was remiss in celebrating this anniversary upon issue #208′s publication I’ll be making amends in the coming weeks by posting some of the WP’s best articles and tidbits to Forbidden Planet NYC’s other blog (which, I encourage you to check out regardless).

Here’s to many more years of The Weekly Planet.

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LOOKING BACK: Spy vs. Spy.

spy-vs-spy_tofu_prv_2

On Monday, Master of all that is Forbidden Planet, Jeff Ayers and I went out for a drink post Eli Roth signing. Jeff had the three volumes of some original Antonio Prohias works from his 26-year run on “Spy vs Spy,” the strip featured in Mad Magazine.  We began reminiscing about the strip.

Looking back, I don’t remember what it was that I liked about the magazine, but I do remember that I was quite mad for this strip. The strips were always silent, and I remember filling in little captions, thought bubbles and sound effects.  I remember my mother criticizing my hand writing in a Chinese restaurant in North Bergen, saying something about how if I was going to write in comics bubbles my hand writing should be much neater. I figure I was probably around ten when I was really into the strips. So, I endeavored to do just that. Somewhere, in some bin in my parent’s garage, is a crop of Mad Magazines with written in Spy vs Spy dialogue.

Now this is probably dating me, but I think Jeff and I are the only ones who remember the original Nintendo video game.  I remember it being extremely difficult.  I remember huddling in front of a small Panasonic where I played against my little brother and planted traps against each other.  Then again most of those original Nintendo video games are ten times harder than any game put out today.

Most of all, what I enjoyed about this volume was the background  given on the birth of what must be one of my favorite childhood memories. From John Ficarra’s introduction to my volume:

It was July 12, 1960 when a political cartoonist from Cuba named Antonio Prohias arrived at the offices of MAD magazine. He had come to America two months earlier after death threats were directed at him and his family by the new Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro.  Accompanying Prohias on that fateful day was his daughter, Marta, who acted as interpreter (Though her English at the time was only marginally better than her father’s–which was nonexistent!) Also with Prohias were his drawings of two pointy-nosed characters he had created especially for MAD–one black, one white, both silent. Forever locked in a see-saw battle of destruction and mayhem, the conflict between the two was a metaphor for the futility of the Cold War.

You see, I never looked into the genesis of this strip. Being that kind of person who loves thinking about where creator’s lives intersect with their work I was quite happy to read this.  Upon reading this introduction, I figure that I never read any of Prohias’ work during my younger days. I probably began reading it when Peter Kuper was beginning his tenure–so now, especially, I get to read the classic stuff.  The classic stuff that ended when Prohias retired somewhere around 1986, I figure, and before my time.

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Comic Book Guy

“This will not do!”

Hank Azaria Comic book guy Simpsons jeff

It always amazes me peoples’ varied perceptions of our cumulative geekiness as comic and SF fans.  And were you in my position you, too, would struggle with the connotations people in “the real world” associate with my work in a store that sells comics.

I was at my friend’s birthday party this past weekend when it was remarked to me, “Oh, you’re comic book Jeff.”  While I was fully aware that this was an allusion to the birthday girl having at least two friends with the name “Jeff,” and that I’d been designated by my occupation and not my general demeanor, the horrible- yet funny and occasionally true- stigma that Matt Groening, Hank Azaria, the Simpsons’ writers, and dozens of dweeby comic store employees have attributed to people such as myself  crept in my mind faster than the indigenous brain slugs of Seti-Alpha 5, and I found myself, once again, become much too defensive.

Like now.

For those of not in the know: the Simpson’s character Comic Book Guy is also named Jeff.  It was revealed in Season 16, episode 8, and has been a source of consternation for me since.  Kinda hard to shake off those associations when you share a name with them.  Y’know, that image of a lazy, obsessive dweeb whose adolescent fantasies and inability to deal with the real world plant him firmly on a stool behind the counter of The Android’s Dungeon spewing sarcasm, insults, the kind of platitudes that come with an overly-compensatory  superiority complex?

Well that just ain’t me.  And to many a stranger I meet, I find myself having to demonstrate that all too often.

We should embrace that which we are, though. Gnothi Seauton. Know thyself.  I supposed I am “comic book Jeff,” however much I wish certain associated pre-conceived notions didn’t come with the moniker.  And I realize that’s a bit of  a flip-flop of I am Not Spock/I am Spock proportions, but so be it. I am large, contain multitudes, and am versed in Klingon to boot.

6/25 Releases on Comic Book Guy’s shopping list:

Get Lost- by Ross Andru & Mike Esposito.  The publisher (Hermes) solicitation for this book is spot on, so it shall be reprinted here: “Love Harvey Kurtzman’s original MAD? [I do! -j] Then you will have to have Andru and Esposito’s historic satire and parody magazine, Get Lost. Originally released in 1953, Get Lost delivered three groundbreaking, laugh-filled issues before Bill Gaines sued the magazine’s distributor, shutting down production of the magazine. Even though Gaines lost the lawsuit, Andru and Esposito never produced more Get Lost. Hermes Press’ historic reprint collects all three issues of the magazine on heavy coated matte paper together with an introductory essay by noted pop-culture historian Ron Goulart, an interview with Mike Esposito, and tons of documentary material in one volume. For this archival edition Hermes Press has painstakingly reconstructed Get Lost’s artwork using the original black-and-white line art and recoloring it from scratch. Mike Esposito says it ‘looks better than the original.’ MAD’s most noteworthy competitor is a treasure to behold for fans of Alfred E. Newman as well as comic book collectors, fans, and anyone looking for a good laugh.”

Final Crisis #2- by Grant Morrison and JG Jones.  So much to say so little room.  Not overly feeling this new mega-seriesso far, but hope you are.

Science Fiction Stuph

I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this to you cats before, but I’m a big, big fan of the SF and essays of writer Cory Doctorow.  While perusing the phenomenally interesting blog/webzine he contributes to (BoingBoing.net) the other day I learned he’d just won a Locus Award (his fourth in four years) for his novella “After the Siege,” which was collected in his short story collection Overclocked (available now at FP) and graphically adapted in comic format in Cory Doctorow’s Future Tales (also available).  Congrats to Cory, and all the winners of this years Locus Magazine Awards, reprinted here:

SF NOVEL The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Michael Chabon
FANTASY NOVEL Making Money, Terry Pratchett
YA BOOK Un Lun Dun, China Miéville
FIRST NOVEL Heart-Shaped Box, Joe Hill
NOVELETTE “The Witch’s Headstone”, Neil Gaiman
SHORT STORY “A Small Room in Koboldtown”, Michael Swanwick
COLLECTION The Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories, Connie Willis
ANTHOLOGY The New Space Opera, Gardner Dozois ed.
NON-FICTION Breakfast in the Ruins, Barry N. Malzberg
ART BOOK The Arrival, Shaun Tan
EDITOR Ellen Datlow
MAGAZINE Fantasy&ScienceFiction
PUBLISHER Tor
ARTIST Charles Vess

Finally, I highly suggest you seek out, procure, watch, and enjoy a little documentary film titled Tilt, The Battle to Save Pinball” from producer/director  Greg Maletic. Every bit as good as last year’s “King of Kong” this film “tells an account that any follower of technology, design, or business will find fascinating.” A pinball fan myself (my trip to the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas is in a scant 3 weeks) I found it doubly so!

Toodle-ooo.

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