Tagged: Anders Nilsen

TRY SOMETHING NEW Chapter 22: This Is Madness!

Sometimes weird stuff happens in your life. Like, for example, you decide you want to write comics for a living and then someone hires you to do that. That is a really weird and wonderful and stressful and anxiety producing thing. Also, weirdly, that exact thing happened to me. I got hired to write a comic and, as anxious as it makes me to tell you all this, it comes out this week. The book is called TWELVE REASONS TO DIE and I was lucky enough to work on it with RZA and Ghostface Killah from the Wu-Tang Clan. It’s an insane mashup of Giallo crime stories and all sorts of horror elements. As truly awesome as getting hired by those guys for this book is, I feel just as lucky to be getting to work with over 20 of my favorite artists in comics. Ron Wimberly, Tim Seeley, Paolo Rivera, Ramon Perez, Shaky Kane, Anders Nilsen, Phil Noto, Joe Infurnari, Tony Moore, Ben Templesmith, Jim Mahfood, Johnny Ryan, Chris Mitten, Riley Rossmo, Nate Powell, Tyler Crook, and a ton more awesome folks are all contributing to the book. I should probably say something snarky and obnoxious about this but mostly I just get kind of sickly feeling when I have to think about it for too long so I will just ask, if you like my column here, maybe pick my book up off the shelf and see if you might like it. And if you put it back, please put it back in the right place. It’s super #@%*!^& annoying when you don’t do that.

Since my book only costs $3.50 and this store can’t operate without money I am now going to encourage you to buy some other stuff too. I don’t make these recommendations with any less enthusiasm then I did the previous one, it will just feel that way. CHIN MUSIC #1. At this point I shouldn’t have to explain this drill to you. Image launches a new series. Not too many people buy it. Then 3 months pass. The book is a hit at some convention or some tv producer buys the rights. Everybody on earth falls in love with it. It has become tv hot. Or con hot. You all come back begging for copies of issue #1. We laugh at you. Let’s cut out some of the steps. Chin Music is the new book from horror icon Steve Niles (30 DAYS OF NIGHT) and Tony Harris (EX MACHINA) and it’s a mystical crime story set around prohibition. It is beautiful and, I don’t say this lightly, intriguing. This book could legitimately be the best work of Steve Niles’ very impressive career. Buy it now and get intrigued.

This is a personal note for Dan DiDio and Axel Alonso. Guys. How’s it going? You guys have a lot of books to put out each month. That must be hard. That is a lot of writers to try and find to write your books. I mean, Scott Snyder and Brian Bendis can each only write what? 10, maybe 20 comics a month. Well I am here to make your lives a little easier today. Buy COMEBACK, then email Ed Brisson and tell him you want him to write… well, anything. It isn’t often that I come across a new writer who blows me away. The same is probably true for you. Who was the last writer whose work you absolutely fell in love with? Who you knew was going to be a career worth following. For me it was Ed Brisson as I got 5 pages into COMEBACK. Equal parts crime noir and sci-fi time travel head#*$&, Comeback is one of those books you want everyone you know to read so you can all discuss it. It’s as smart as it is cool, it tells a time travel story that both makes sense and will mess you up for days, and it looks amazing. I can safely say Comeback is the best book I read so far this year and I don’t see much on the horizon to come after it. This is just one of those books that will stick with you. So thanks Ed Brisson. Remember all the nice stuff I said here when you become a comic superstar.

SPIDER-MEN was the gimmicky crossover event Marvel did where regular Peter Parker met ultimate Miles Morales. Here’s the thing. The scene where a grown up Peter Parker meets the alternate universe teenage Gwen Stacy is one of the best moments I have ever read in comics. It draws upon 40 years of Spider-Man history, 13 years of Ultimate Spider-Man history, and produces one of the best, most human moments I have ever read in a superhero comic. This book is beautiful, fun, and has one of my favorite comic scenes of all time. You should probably just buy it.

It’s nice to see Matt Kindt getting the recognition he deserves. Marvel and DC are fighting over him, his book MIND MGMT has taken off, and he seems like a really nice dude. It’s funny though because I fell in love with Kindt’s work because I thought he could do small and personal better than most, yet here he is getting noticed for this big bombastic stuff. Well, now he is releasing a new OGN that is more a return to his earlier form. RED HANDED- THE FINE ART OF STRANGE CRIMES is an amazingly fun detective story about a small town dick has become so good at his job that crime no longer exists. Imagine his surprise when new and bizarre crimes begin taking over the town. Equal parts human interest story and absurdist mystery, Red Handed is an early frontrunner for underappreciated book of the year.

I love a book that comes out of left field and just floors you. For me that was MUMBAI CONFIDENTIAL. A gritty cop story that doesn’t look like anything else on shelves, Mumbai Confidential is a stunningly good book. Based on a true story, MC follows 2 cops who are tasked with cleaning up the streets of Mumbai after they have been taken over by organized crime. The Indian government gave these officers carte blanche to use lethal force as they saw fit. That’s the set up for Judge Dredd too, only this one is true and much more terrifying. Equal parts Hong Kong action flick and crime noir comic, MC is well worth your time.

I also wanted to briefly take a minute to say thanks to a bunch of the FP staff. This isn’t really the right forum for this but I am pretty awkward and comics don’t usually have a thank you page so I just want to wholeheartedly thank Jeff and the anthropomorphic business that is FP for being supportive and dealing with me being pretty sleep deprived and crazed most of the time. A huge thanks to Tyler, Ben, Javier, and Vita for going above and beyond always. My sincerest thanks and apologies to the rest of the staff for having to listen to me talk about this all the time and still being nice to me. I am awful but you all are pretty good so it balances out in the end. And special thanks to Carly for always being a great friend and being more supportive than I deserve. It all means more than you know. Now if you’ll excuse me I am going to go be all awkward and weird and watch people not buy my comic.

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TRY SOMETHING NEW Chapter 3: In A Galaxy Far, Far Away…

Third column. I am coming out of my sophomoric slump with an all star one this week. The only problem is that the comic industry basically takes the last week of December off meaning that there are less than 10 mainstream comics releasing. I’m not going to resort to recommending comics that I don’t believe in 100% (actually like 80% but you get the point) just to fill space so I’m going to resort to recommending books that don’t really fit the “TRY SOMETHING NEW” criteria. That’s called integrity folks. It’s not just a great metal band from Cleveland.

Before I move on to books that need your attention I would like to give a nod to Dan Slott and the Spider-Man team for wrapping up Amazing Spider-Man this week in an interesting and different direction. Mr. Slott and the Spider-Man crew have put out a really great book for a few years, consistently among the best superhero books on the shelf. Every time they try and push the story forward, evolve the character, or even just do something compelling they meet with a great deal of resistance from folks who want their superhero books to be a never changing constant in their lives. I am not sure what drives a person to want to read the same thing year in and year out, but my thanks to the Spider-Man team for not giving in to them. These are stories not security blankets. The curtain goes up, we meet a character, the curtain goes down and that character is somehow different. That is how stortytelling is supposed to work. Anyway, buy SPIDER-MAN #700 and celebrate the end of an era.

Of the handful of new titles this week, the only thing that really caught my eye as “try something new” material is Brian Wood & Ming Doyle’s MARA #1 from Image. Brian Wood has long been a favorite of mine for, at worst doing interesting and unique books (COURIERS, NEW YORK 4), and at his best being among the top writers in comics (DMZ, NORTHLANDERS, LOCAL). With his new series from Dark Horse, THE MASSIVE, easily making the best books of the year list, and his work on ULTIMATE X-MEN quickly becoming one of the best runs that book has ever had, I was very excited for MARA. Mr. Wood is good for nothing if not keeping you guessing, and MARA certainly does that in spades. A dystopian tale about the world’s most famous female volleyball player. I don’t think I need to really say anything else. Either that interests you or it doesn’t. Personally I love reading something I have never read before and this easily falls into that category. In a year of weird premised comic books, a 20+ year old story by Alan Moore takes the cake (FASHION BEAST) but MARA certainly gave it a run for it’s money. RIYL: Brian Wood’s more “out there” dystopian work, the volleyball scenes in Top Gun, or sci-fi that doesn’t “feel” sci-fi.

On to things that didn’t come out this week but you should pick up. Anders Nilsen is one of the great indie comic creators to emerge in the last decade. Everything he touches has a deeply personal and intimate feel and this allows the stories he choose to tell to be both wildly unique and relatable. His epic BIG QUESTIONS is a must read for the “lit” comics set and deserves it’s place on shelves alongside other modern classics that start with “B” like BLANKETS, BLACK HOLE, BUILDING STORIES, and BORING, DAVID. But Mr. Nilsen’s most personal work has also been the one that was the hardest to get for years, DON’T GO WHERE I CAN’T FOLLOW. Finally back in print, DGWICF is bar none one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking stories I have ever read. Using journal entries, photos, postcards, and comics, Mr. Nilsen recounts the love he shared with his fiancee, Cheryl Weaver. You follow their tale through vacations and young love, her getting sick with cancer, her hospitalization, and, heartbreakingly, through her memorial. This book is an amazing tribute to the love shared between two people and the fragility of the human experience. RIYL: Crying.

SAUCER COUNTRY is the new ongoing series by a couple of the more interesting creators in comics from one of the best publishers. Paul Cornell (Dr. Who tv show, BATMAN & ROBIN, CAPTAIN BRITAIN & MI-13, etc)), Ryan Kelly (BOOKS OF MAGIC, DMZ, etc) have put together a great political alien abduction series that is as smart as it is fun. Equal parts X-Files, EX MACHINA, and The Manchurian Candidate, this book is worth picking up if you are a fan of any of that stuff. RIYL: All the stuff I just mentioned. Come on, pay attention.

My final recommendation of recent stuff that is worth grabbing is MARK TWAIN WAS RIGHT. The always excellent Microcosm Publishing releases this collection of comic journalism about the 2001 Cincinnati riots. Dan P. Moore recounts through personal experience and interviews the days leading up to and after the police shooting of Timothy Thomas, an unarmed black teenager. MTWR tells the story of the riots and civil disobedience from a perspective we are rarely are offered, the community itself. The Cincinnati riots are a major moment in recent American history and the roots and causes of the anger and sadness that took over that city for days deserve your attention as much as anything on a comic store shelf. It’s one of those rare instances where comics aren’t just telling this important story better than other media, comics is the only one telling it. Support a unique voice, support a worthwhile book, and get yourself a great book all at the same time. RIYL: Comics journalism by folks like Joe Sacco, Ted Rall, or Guy Delisle.

That’s it for my my third column. Can you tell I wrote this one when I was extra tired? I can. As always, thanks for reading. And to those of you who do, thanks for supporting new books and new ideas in comics.

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