Tagged: Northlanders

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.

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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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LOOKEE! for 10/26/10

Halloween on Saturn
Saturn and Titan, dolled up for Halloween

Brian Wood talks Northlanders: The Plague Widow at the DC/Vertigo blog.

Marvel is looking for interns.

Superman: Earth One profiled in The New York Post.

Eddie Campbell video from Italy in 2009, via the Forbidden Planet International blog.

Toy customizer extraordinaire John Mallamas  interviewed at MTV Geek.

The Walking Dead premieres on AMC this weekend and this morning Zombies took Manhattan.

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Davide Gianfelice Signing 3/19/10 6:30pm

Davide Gianfelice, the Italian artist whose fantastic work fills the pages of DC Vertigo’s Greek Street each month and splashed onto the American comics scene with his work on Northlanders, will be signing at FPNYC on Friday March 19th at 6:30pm.

Gianfelice_web

That’s just one week after the 1st Greek Street TP (ONLY $9.99!) releases!

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