Tagged: Concrete

TRY SOMETHING NEW Chapter 11: The Death Star!

Hello loyal readers. How was your week? Not that anyone asked but I had a good one. Well it was good until Forbidden Planet’s Tech Wizard/6th member of Modest Mouse, Tyler, threatened me. It turns out that some of the links I use on the blog weren’t up to his liking. I think he didn’t like the one linking to him singing a song he wrote about me, but that is conjecture. He is my editor though (ironic since his grasp of grammar is even worse than mine) and that comes with a certain amount of power. Mostly the power to make me look like an idiot… more of an idiot. I, of course, can write stuff that makes him look bad as well. I OBVIOUSLY never ever would , but I could. And that keeps him up at night, sweating through the sheets in his tiny little crib. And thus we have invented the concept of mutually assured blogging destruction. I am Forbidden Planet’s Dr. Strangelove. Tyler is my Dimitri.

In good news I’m not apologizing for anything in this week’s column. I pitched a perfect game with my last column. I’m hoping to keep my streak going and have some great comic recommendations for you all. And yes, all you Unkie Dev fans (or Dev-iants as we call them), I do not consider having my column run long so that Unkie Dev gets bumped a mistake. I consider it good strategy. There’s a plan at work here people. You won’t understand that until it’s too late for you.

I talk a lot about Dark Horse Presents here. Partially it’s because I think it is a great venue for some of the best storytelling in comics and you readers would love it. Mostly it’s because I like it a lot and don’t want it to get canceled. I never claimed this wasn’t self serving. DARK HORSE PRESENTS #21 has more stuff from comic greats like Shannon Wheeler, Duane Swierczynski, and Michael Avon Oeming. I am really excited to see new stuff from the great Simon Roy, artist on the always great Prophet. But the real reason you are probably buying this, and the real reason I don’t have to think of more stuff to say is this- a new story from Paul Chadwick (Concrete) and Neil Gaiman (Neil Gaiman stuff). If that doesn’t mean anything to you there isn’t much more I can say other than you need to read more comics. Start with Concrete and Sandman. Also read Dark Horse Presents.

The point of this column is to suggest (read: pressure) new books for you all to buy. Well I feel like an idiot for suggesting you pick up HELLBLAZER #300, but as the foremost comic journalist in the world I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it. As it stands right now Hellblazer is the longest running sequentially numbered book at DC. That might seem like a minor distinction but it feels important. Hellblazer may only “technically” be the longest running book at DC, but it is arguably the best. And now all of that comes to an end with issue #300. DC has canceled the book in favor of a “younger, hipper” book in the regular DCU called Constantine. Apparently young hip people don’t like unique characters with rich history. Either way, buy issue #300 and put it on your nightstand for later while you work your way through the collected editions. (I know you don’t have a nightstand, you just use a bunch of old pizza boxes as furniture.) Hellblazer vol. 1 is about as good as a comic gets and it rarely lets up for the next 290ish issues.

Dynamite has done a real interesting thing the past few years. In their quiet corner of the comics universe they have taken a bunch of old pulp characters most people don’t care about and they started making fresh and exciting books out of them. The Shadow has been one of their flagships in this re-imagining. Well comics never let’s a good thing simply be, so this week sees the release of a new Shadow book, THE SHADOW: YEAR ONE #1. Willfredo Torres does some beautiful pencil work that has both a classic cartoon feel and modern styles all at the same time. And Matt Wagner does a great job of slowly leaking the origin of this 70+ year old character and keeping you guessing. This is a book that is good enough to get you excited about the whole Dynamite line. Get into it.

Remember- Don’t talk about a perfect game while it’s happening. You will jinx it.

HOW DO I KNOW WHO I AM IF I FORGET? is the new self published mini comic from writer/artist Luis Echavarria Uribe. As beautiful as it is disturbing, HDIKWIAIIF? is the story of an obsessive girl trying to figure out who she is and how she relates to the world. Her obsessions are both uncomfortable and somehow comforting all at once. Equal parts outsider art comic story and EC horror book, Mr. Echavarria Uribe crafts a story that twists and turns under you in uncomfortable and exciting ways.  His art can be quite beautiful and, unlike so many self published creators, he has learned to write to his art strengths and draw to his writing strengths. Obviously for most of the people who read this column a self published mini-comic may be far outside their wheelhouse, but this book would be write at home in the collection of anyone who likes reading good comics, regardless of genre or format. Pick it up, support someone who is doing it on their own, and you will be rewarded with one of the best books out so far this year.

I was going to write a bunch more stuff but I am tired and for some reason my girlfriend just put Glengarry Glen Ross on so I sort of stopped caring about my job here. Other good stuff out this week includes the long awaited return of Kill Shakespeare. Fans of Fables, League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and trying to look more literate than you actually are would do well to pick up KILL SHAKESPEARE: THE TIDE OF BLOOD #1. A mash-up of many of The Bard’s most famous characters, the Kill Shakespeare series is always good fun if you get the references and really odd but still enjoyable I am sure if you don’t. Also worth grabbing is the strange early 90’s British sci-fi series TALES FROM BEYOND SCIENCE, which is finally collected into one hardcover. 8 tales all drawn by British artist and graphic designer Rian Hughes and written by a bevy of great Brit sci-fi scribes including Mark Millar (Kick-Ass). These bizarre short stories explain seemingly unexplainable phenomenon in ways that will make you laugh and feel like someone dosed you. If you like stuff like stuff like Madman or anything zany at all this book should be going home with you. Now go spend your money wisely. And remember kids, Always Be Closing.

How about that. It was funny. It was smart. It used commas in interesting ways. Good books were recommended. A flawless column. And that means back to back perfect games. Give me the Cy Young right now. (1% of you have any idea what I am talking about.)

Post to Twitter

TRY SOMETHING NEW Chapter 5: Rebel Spaceships, Striking From a Hidden Base

I feel like I have been doing this column long enough now that you all must be dying for a behind the scenes peek at how the magic happens. It all starts around 1:30 AM on Sunday night/Monday morning. That’s around 4 hours after I am supposed to have emailed this in to Tyler, our lovely wizard/graphic designer. I sit down in a chair and make up a bunch of stuff about new comics. I then send it to Tyler’s cauldron of spells/email account. He then does some process I don’t understand, blah blah blah, now it looks nice to look at. Then someone does something so that some internet nerds make it a blog post and someone else or maybe the same person does something so that printing nerds make it a newsletter. Viola! And that’s how it works. Same as the New York Times. It’s like Arthur C. Clarke once said to me, “Any sufficiently advanced low level comics journalism/sales pitch is indistinguishable from magic.” Anyway, there is a surprisingly good amount of new stuff on shelves this week and I have wasted a lot of space making jokes that only I will find funny, so let’s get on with it.

First, a moment of sadness and thanks to the great Jeff Lemire who wraps up his brilliant post apocalyptic coming of age story Sweet Tooth this week in SWEET TOOTH #40. If you haven’t ever read Mr. Lemire’s work you should be ashamed. SWEET TOOTH vol.1 is one of the true great joys of comics in the twenty first century. RIYL: SANDMAN, THE ROAD, or Children Of Men.

Also well worth reading no matter your feeling on superhero books, or anything else really, is WONDER WOMAN. Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang are quietly sitting in their own corner of the DC universe taking one of the most beloved characters in comics history and telling new stories for her that feel exciting, fresh, and look about as good as a comic can look. Matthew Wilson’s coloring on this book will be studied for years to come as the correct way to have coloring not just serve the pencil art, but to make coloring it’s own art. You don’t have to know anything going in, nor do you have to care about the rest of the DC universe. You just have to like good comics. DC is finally putting out WONDER WOMAN vol. 1 & vol. 2 this week. This is about as good as superhero comics get so you should get them. RIYL: Wonder Woman stories on any level, Clash Of The Titans or any modern takes on mythology

DEVIL IS DUE IN DREARY #2 is also out this week. I really loved issue #1 of this series that felt like a perfect cross between the modern western elements of PREACHER and the foreboding tone of A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE. Add to that art that looks like a smoother Howard Chaykin and you have a really well made book. I know this is a book that will fly under most folks radars but that is a real shame. It has just enough uniqueness to make it stand out, just enough familiarity to be relatable, and is good enough to be a classic if people gave it a chance. RIYL: JONAH HEX or any modern westerns, FELL, PREACHER.

EERIE #2 hits shelves as well. I don’t hide my love for anthology comics and EERIE is a classic. Dark Horse’s relaunch of the series is off to a great start with weird short stories from Mike Allred (MADMAN, iZOMBIE, FF), Brian Clevinger (ATOMIC ROBO), and others. If you just want to read some fun & unusual stuff this is a no-brainer. Don’t be the guy or girl in your local comic shop who has to admit “I just like unfun & usual stuff.” RIYL: Old EERIE comics or other EC stuff, TWILIGHT ZONES, feeding your short attention span.

Peter Bagge is one of the modern legends of indie comics for his brilliant series HATE. When there is that much love and respect heaped on ones work it becomes easy for a lot of creators to shrink away from ever doing something substantial again. Fear of the followup or what have you. But Mr. Bagge has dived headfirst into new and brilliant projects one after another. From APOCALPSE NERD to YEAH! to OTHER LIVES his post HATE work has been varied and fun. It’s a different time for comics and it’s hard to get people as excited about a new book as it once was, but Mr. Bagge’s latest series, RESET, is maybe his best work since HATE and, if it were a different time, would be loved and talked about in much the same way. RESET is the story of a man who enters into an experiment that allows him to relive and change choices he’s made from his past. Weirdo stuff ensues. RIYL: Older Bagge stuff like HATE, the modern indie masters like Daniel Clowes or Charles Burns, or the idea of going back in time and messing things up like a creepy Marty McFly.

I don’t have much of an interest in Conan. Never did really. Some things aren’t for everyone. I know why people like it, I get that, it just wasn’t for me. Then Brian Wood wrote the excellent NORTHLANDERS series about badass vikings axing each other and whatnot and I immediately got the appeal. Apparently someone at Dark Horse did too because they snatched Mr. Wood up and put him on their CONAN book. I don’t know if that worked to bring new readers into the fold but it damn well should have. Mr. Wood is great at huge epics (DMZ, NORTHLANDERS), great at telling stories smarter than they need to be (COURIERS, CHANNEL ZERO), and great at working with amazing artists. For the beginning of his run, collected as CONAN vol 13: QUEEN OF THE BLACK COAST he continues these trends. A smart Conan story that feels epic and has beautiful work by two of the more consistently interesting artists working today; BECKY CLOONAN (AMERICAN VIRGIN, DEMO vol II) and JAMES HARREN (B.P.R.D.). For those of you who have ever loved Conan and forgotten about it, this is the time to jump back on. And for those of you like me, who never saw the appeal, this is the comic that will make you fall in love with a barbarian with an ax. That’s a good thing.

RIYL: NORTHLANDERS, people using swords and stuff on each other, old pulp stories made relevant again.

END TIMES OF BRAM & BEN #1 is out this week. A buddy comedy set around the rapture. Image pumped out more good series debuts in 2012 than most people can afford to read and ETOBAB is their hope for their first big hit of 2013. This book is clearly gunning for the bookshelves of fans of smart and snarky comics and is definitely worth checking out if that is you. Co-writer James Asmus is a rising star over at Marvel but is also doing his time at Image on THIEF OF THIEVES with some nobody named Robert Kirkman. If you look for comics that have some action but really want to make you smirk this should fully be on your radar by now. RIYL: BATTLE POPE, CHEW, or the film Dogma.

My last recommendation is BETA TESTING THE APOCALYPSE. 10ish short stories from Tom Kaczynski that all play with the idea of exploring modern intangible concepts like capitalism or utopia and breaking them down into very tangible and very human stories. These are big ideas made very small and personal. Kaczynki’s style makes all the heavy stuff feel very immersive with out ever feeling oppressive. It is a delicate balancing act, and one that clearly he is comfortable with. BETA TESTING THE APOCALYPSE, like a lot of the Fantagraphics stuff from the last decade, is definitely one of those books that’ll please almost everybody who has the interest to pick it up and for a select few it will become a most cherished and prized possession. RIYL: J.G. Ballard, the more esoteric but personal stuff Fantagraphics puts out, CONCRETE.

Ok. I’m done.

Post to Twitter

Concrete is back baby!

Fact: Paul Chadwick’s Concrete is one of my favorite comics.

Fiction: Buying Dark Horse Presents #1 (which features an all new COLOR Concrete story) will make you as cool as me.

O.K. so it may not make you as cool as me, but it is packed from cover to cover with amazing comicy stuff by Richard Corben, Frank Miller, Harlan Ellison, Howard Chaykin, Neal Adams, and more.

Oh Lordy! Just buy it already…

Post to Twitter