Tagged: rosenberg

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 9: Rebel Spies Managed To Steal Secret Plans…

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?

New Deadwardians TP

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.

Dia De Los Muertos #1

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.

Snapshot #1

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.

Zed A Cosmic Tale TP

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.

Harbinger #0

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.

$$$

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TRY SOMETHING NEW Chapter 8: During The Battle…

Greetings from Ice Station Zebra. For all you people out there who check the spines of your comics to make sure they don’t have creases or whatever it is you are looking for please note that Forbidden Planet is now refrigerated to ensure that your books stay extra fresh. No more rotten book smell! Anyway, about my column this week; I don’t know how many of you have peaked early in life but it is a terrible feeling. I’m pretty sure that last week’s column is as good as this column is ever going to get. I don’t know if you saw it but it was pretty great. There was a whole Choose Your Own Adventure type thing and I made lots of jokes about killing you. I don’t think I can top it and I am coming to terms with that. This is my Godfather III. I am just going through the motions here. But there is a ray of hope in this trainwreck of a column.

TODAY IS MY BIRTHDAY!

Well, that’s not necessarily true. Wednesday January 30th is my birthday. If you are reading this on another day then today is not, in fact, my birthday. But if you are reading this on Wednesday then HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! Feel free to order yourself a piece of cake at dinner, sing me a song, and then eat it (the cake, not the song). So while I clearly have nothing to talk about in this column I thought, “I have done enough for my readers so far. Maybe too much. It’s time they do something for me.” So that is the theme of this week’s column. Stuff you can get me. A birthday wish list. Just so you know what you are up against, Forbidden Planet’s Tech Wizard/Actual Wizard Tyler got me a self portrait he painted. It’s 10’x10′, based on Botticelli’s “The Birth Of Venus”, and creepy as hell. I am hanging it above my bed so I remember to never sleep. But you should feel free to get me stuff that isn’t nightmare stuff.

MY BIRTHDAY WISH LIST:

For starters I always like cash. Any amount is fine, but if it’s under $10 it’s kind of rude. Feel free to stop by Forbidden Planet and leave cash with any of the register jockeys for me. There is a 50/50 shot I will get it. They aren’t the most trustworthy lot. I would also take Forbidden Planet gift cards. That isn’t going to pay my rent or buy me chocolate milk but it doesn’t hurt. RIYL: Capitalism. Buying stuff. Goods and services.

Global Frequency TP

You know what you could get me? GLOBAL FREQUENCY. Warren Ellis & a team of great artists come together to do single issue standalone sci-fi spy stories. A 21st century reimagining of stuff like Bond or Mission: Impossible, these stories focus more on fast paced and sometimes socially conscious thriller than they do on things like character. Originally released by Wildstorm in 2004, this book is finally back in print now. Ellis is a comic writing genius, but if you have never read his stuff this isn’t where I would start. Luckily for us, I already read Transmetropolitan, The Authority, & Nextwave so feel free to buy me this. RIYL: Queen & Country, Channel Zero, or 80’s and 90’s Bond films.

Hawkeye #7

I don’t think I would be causing much controversy among those paying attention if I pointed out that Matt Fraction & David Aja‘s HAWKEYE is the best book at Marvel right now. Sure Thor, and All New X-Men, and Punisher War Zone, Ultimate Spider-Man, and Daredevil are all putting up a good fight, but it’s sort of hopeless. Hawkguy feels fresh and relevant, smart and fun in a way that most comics don’t begin to approach. It is style AND substance. I hope every single person at Marvel (and DC) is noticing the bar is being raised each month. Issue #7 gives it an extra nudge. With 2 short stories about a massive hurricane hitting the Northeast, Hawkeye #7 manages to be topical while still being a book about everybody’s 6th favorite Avenger. On top of all this, Mr. Fraction is donating his salary from this issue to hurricane Sandy relief efforts. If you don’t know how comics tend to work, his salary is based on royalties from sales. Meaning that each issue you buy helps Sandy victims who are still desperately in need. So yes, by all means go give money to Occupy Sandy, but reward yourself with a copy of this book and keep the charity going. (And while you are at it, reward Mr. Fraction for being a class act by picking up his other series like Casanova or Five Fists Of Science.) And since it’s my birthday go ahead and buy me an issue as well. RIYL: helping people in need, near perfect superhero comics, Immortal Iron Fist, the idea of a Bryan Lee O’Malley and Chris Ware teaming up on an action book.

Tales Designed To Thrizzle HC Vol 02

First an anecdote. At a comic convention last year I bought an issue of TALES DESIGNED TO THRIZZLE from Michael Kupperman and he signed it to me. I later gave the issue to my lovely ladyfriend, Alethea, as a gift. Giving someone else your stuff and acting like you got it for them is considered “not proper gift giving etiquette” by squares, teachers, and cops. Now, Matthew and Alethea contain some of the same letters but she can recognize that they are not the same name. It took her a whole 6+ months to notice that the book was inscribed to me instead of her but when she did… whoo boy was that fun. Anyway, in terms of funny comics going on right now there are not a ton of great options. Even if there were though, TALES DESIGNED TO THRIZZLE Vol. 2 would stand head and shoulders above the competition. Volume 1 of TDTR was among the funniest things I have ever read. I easily put it alongside works like The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy or Calvin & Hobbes in terms of books I can revisit and still completely lose myself in over and over again. Michael Kupperman’s absurdest strips that range from the adventures of historical figures Twain & Einstein, to buddy cop duo Snake N’ Bacon, and the history of sex blimps, all peppered with old timey fake comic ads for odd products are nothing if not bafflingly weird and compelling. If you are at all a fan of the absurd in any form I would urge you to read this book. And since I only have volume 1 you can get me this as a great gift. RIYL: The anything goes spirit of old Mad Magazine, the fast paced boundary pushing humor of stuff like Monty Python, Kids In The Hall, Airplane! or Amazon Women On The Moon.

7 Miles a Second HC

7 MILES A SECOND. Painter, musician, photographer, filmmaker, writer, and activist, David Wojnarowicz was a key figure in the underground New York City art scene of the 1980’s. Often times having strong homo-erotic subtext, his work pushed cultural boundaries, continues to inspire new generations of artists today, and invoked the wrath of the christian right. After a lengthy court case, Mr. Wojnarawicz earned a hard fought victory against the loathsome Donald Wildmon and the American Family Association who sought to defund the National Endowment for the Arts. This single legal struggle did more for artists and artist rights in this country than most people can comprehend. By 1992 Mr. Wojnarowicz sadly lost his battle with AIDS. 7 Miles A Second was completed by his collaborator on the book, James Romberger, and published by Vertigo posthumously in 1996. Now it is back in print for the first time and is well worth your attention. Wojnarowicz autobiographical tales start you with his life as a child prostitute, onto his teenage years on the street, through his time has an HIV+ man, and onto his inevitable (at the time) conclusion. The stories serve as beautiful and brutal snapshots of a brilliant life lived too hard and extinguished too soon. It is not too much to say that we all owe a great cultural debt to Mr. Wojnarowicz and picking up this book and trying to understanding his life is a good first step toward understanding that debt. RIYL: Maus, American Splendor, or artists having the right and the ability to make a living in this country.

Well, that was a super depressing note to end on. Sorry about that. Anyway, I’m going to go because there are a lot of good books to read this week and you are still freaking out from all that sugar in the birthday cake. Even if you don’t want to buy me these or any other books you can still get me a present; you can go look at the comics on the shelves and promise to try something new.

Awww. What a sweet moment. Now if you excuse me I am going to go warm up by Tauntaun-ing one of Forbidden Planet’s managers and sleeping nestled in their gross guts.

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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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TRY SOMETHING NEW Chapter 2: A Long Time Ago

So here we are at my second column of TRY SOMETHING NEW! already. Wasn’t too pleased with how the the first one came out, 20/20 hindsight and all, but we press on. New comics wait for no man or woman and so this column where I berate you for not buying enough new comics waits for no man or woman. Let’s get right into the berating, shall we?

Geoff Darrow

DARK HORSE PRESENTS #19 comes out this week. Is it stupid to call a series that is on issue #19 “something new?” Sort of. But I did it anyway. DARK HORSE PRESENTS is a monthly anthology of short comics, sometimes stand alones and sometimes serialized stories, from a mix of the best creators in comics and the most exciting newcomers. Each month Dark Horse Presents offers you something new, hence it’s inclusion in this column. Ranging from one page absurdity pieces to stunning series beginnings, DHP has something for literally every type of comic fan. Lately anthology books have had trouble finding an audience which is a shame unto itself, but the level of talent and great comics in DHP turns that shame into a tragedy. This month alone features a new story from Matt Kindt’s excellent MIND MGMT, Duane Swierczynski and Eric Nguyen bring back X, and Gabriel Hardman and Corrina Bechko start a giant monster story called STATION TO STATION.

A bunch of issues back DARK HORSE PRESENTS premiered a new series by writer Frank Barbiere called THE WHITE SUITS. I thought it was one of the best introductions to a series I had read in years. Equal parts SIN CITY, 100 BULLETS, & WINTER MEN, that first chapter filled a void in comics that badly needed filling- smart and stylish crime books with a healthy amount of conspiracy. Now THE WHITE SUITS is returning and I couldn’t be more excited. Even if the other stuff in DHP doesn’t interest you, I promise this story is worth the price of admission alone. RIYL: Short stories, great things in small doses, being into cool stuff before everyone else.

Nowhere Men #2

NOWHERE MEN #2 Eric Stephenson, Nate Bellegarde, & Jordie Bellaire have crafted a really interesting book in NOWHERE MEN. The simple tagline/premise of “What if scientists were our rockstars?” opens the door just enough to make one curious without revealing anything at all. The first issue firmly established Stephenson’s remarkable ability to build interesting worlds and characters all while using some clever narrative tricks. Bellegarde turns in the work of his career so far making pages that are both very effective and visually unique without being hindered by being too “sylized.” And Bellaire is simply one of the best colorists in comics. The book has all the “sciencey” feel of a Jonathan Hickman book, without all of the actual “science.” Other than that is was hard for me to say what the book was about… which I loved.

Since it is a medium that relies on people coming back and paying every month, comics tends to rely on playing it’s cards early and then twisting and turning every month after to keep you interested. It’s feeding the reader just enough so they feel like they paid for a meal, but not enough to that they won’t need to eat again very soon. This works (moderately) well for the industry, but is a terrible hindrance to storytelling as a whole. The NOWHERE MEN team seems to have decided to not care if you “get it” in favor of building a smarter story that unfolds at the pace they want it to. I tend to love comics that are willing to take chances to do better work and that is why I bothered to write this recommendation. If you are a reader who prefers the safe and predictable there are plenty of other books you might want to grab instead. Don’t mind us. We’ll be over in the corner eating weird food, playing with switchblades, getting bad tattoos from sketchy dudes, and reading unpredictable comics. And laughing at you. RIYL: MANHATTAN PROJECTS or TRANSHUMAN, mid-70’s KRAFTWERK, or a weird movie that I am imagining that is a cross between 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE and DR. STRANGELOVE.

Iron or the Waar After

IRON OR THE WAR AFTER Archaia does a great job of finding comics that are truly breathtaking and original and wouldn’t fit in at any other publisher. IRON OR THE WAR AFTER is the newest example of this. Shane-Michael Vidaurri writes and illustrates this surreal tale about anthropomorphized animals engaging in espionage during a literal Cold War. The subtle, slow pacing and beautiful and delicate watercolors almost guarantee that this book will fly under a lot of people’s radars this year. They also guarantee that those who pick it up will have a new favorite book. RIYL: Watership Down, Beasts Of Burden, or Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Comeback #2

COMEBACK #2 I’ll say it right now. Note the time. Ed Brisson is the next superstar writer in comics. If the Big 2 publishers are not already scouting him then their editors are sleeping on the job. His self published series MURDER BOOK is on par with the best comics published in the last 10 years.

COMEBACK is his new book at Image/Shadowline and the first issue made quite an impression on everyone who was lucky enough to find a copy. Gritty crime noir meets slick sci-fi in a “time travel gone wrong” story. Michael Walsh does stunning work in the wheelhouse of folks like Sean Philips or Alex Maleev. That should be all you need to know.

LOOPER, THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU, MINORITY REPORT, INCEPTION, I am sure that Mr. Brisson is already tiring of the comparisons, but there is something inherently cinematic in the way he tells a story. It’s crime for people who are bored with crime, sci-fi for people who are sick of sci-fi. COMEBACK would easily make my Top 10 comics of the year list if I didn’t think Top 10 lists were demeaning and obnoxious. You should go ahead and buy this book now so that when it inevitably becomes a hit movie you can say “the book was way better” and other annoying but true things. RIYL: CRIMINAL, INCOGNITO, or other stuff by Ed Brubaker, Movies by Christopher Nolan that don’t involve a growling dude dressed like a huge flying rodent, Philip K. Dick.

That’s all the room I have. Thanks for taking the time to read this stuff. Please don’t hold it against these great books that I am sort of obnoxious and don’t take this very seriously. Even if none of this stuff grabbed you, remember to try something new. It’s good for you. Stay tuned for my “Top 10 Best Comics of ’12” next week.

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TRY SOMETHING NEW Chapter 1: A New Hope

Galactus
I have been asked a few times in the past if I wanted to write something for the Weekly Planet or the Forbidden Planet blog. I always politely or at least semi-politely declined. But now here I am with my first installment of TRY SOMETHING NEW! What changed? Hard to say. I didn’t have anything to say before? I was too busy before? I didn’t want to bother fixing my weird grammar and punctuation before (that hasn’t changed, I just stopped caring)? All of that is partially true, but moreover I found a purpose. Every week comic publishers, editors, artists, writers, and the whole industry pump out a bunch of brilliant new comics. And then the tiny community that is comic readership passes these books over in favor of what is familiar and safe. That is the antithesis of art, the opposite of the human nature we should all strive for, and it’s boring. You wouldn’t watch the same movie over and over again. You wouldn’t eat the same meal every single day. Stop feeding your brain the same food week after week. There are an awful lot of people out there doing their part to make great comics for you to enjoy. I decided to chip in and yell at you to go try them. This is my small contribution. You don’t have to take my advice, but do yourself a favor and pick up something you haven’t tried before this week. Your brain and the comics industry will thank you.
On to my suggestions.
FEAR AGENT Library Vol. 1. Before he was Marvel’s rising star and writer on their flagship book UNCANNY AVENGERS, young Rick Remender was toiling away in the trenches of small work for hire and creator owned comics as both a penciler, inker, and writer. FEAR AGENT is really the book that put him on the map as a writer for a lot of people though. A wild sci-fi story about one of the last humans in the universe, this book showcases Remender’s amazing ability to go from insane humor to wild action to brutal heartbreak at the drop of a hat. Fear Agent readers will also notice Remender’s ability to find and work with some of the best in the business before they are household names. This volume alone contains art from Tony Moore, Francesco Francavilla, and Jerome Opena among others. Collecting the first half of FEAR AGENT in one nice hardcover, this volume is long overdue. Personally I loved the individual trade paperbacks which were all named after classic hardcore albums, but since those are mostly out of print you should just go ahead and buy this version. RIYL: UNCANNY X-FORCE, PROPHET, GALAXY QUEST.Image

CHANGE #1. Earlier this year Ales Kot debuted as a comic writer worth noticing with his bizarre tale of drugs and school shootings, Wild Children. Change is his follow up title and has created a lot curiosity of what he is capable of. Following a struggling screenwriter, a millionaire rapper, and maybe an alien, Change seems to be both a love letter and a condemnation of the city of Los Angeles. Morgan Jeske’s art is beautiful and fits in with this new breed of rising indie comic stars like Brandon Graham, James Stokoe, and Giannis Milogiannis.A lot of people have been comparing Kot’s work to early Grant Morrison. It is way too early to make that comparison in some ways, but Kot is definitely following a path Morrison laid out. It should be fun to see where he takes it. RIYL: THE INVISIBLES, The work of Alejandro Jodorowsky, the films of Greg Araki.Tim Seeley

REVIVAL Vol.1 You’re Among Friends. The have been calling Revival a horror-noir for a while. It isn’t . I don’t know why they were doing that. I guess it sounds cool. Regardless, this book is a great small town murder mystery that involves the dead coming back to life. Anything else I will tell you will probably ruin the book for you. Tim Seeley makes a book called HACK SLASH that you may have heard of. Mike Norton has drawn awesome stuff like THE RUNAWAYS, QUEEN & COUNTRY, BATTLEPUG, and IT GIRL & THE ATOMICS. It’s full of weird twists and nasty moments. If that’s your thing buy this now and see why comic shops can’t keep the book on shelves. RIYL: CRIMINAL MACABRE, FARGO, FATALE. ValientAlso worth noting this month is the incredibly good X-O MANOWAR series from Valiant Comics that was just published in a $10 paperback, and almost all of the MARVEL NOW titles. Marvel’s editors have done an amazing job of lining up great creative teams with fresh stories and characters who fit them well. It is the best stuff Marvel has done in years almost across the board. Show them some love.
That’s it for my suggestions. Thanks for taking the time and I hope you enjoyed reading them. I feel like I should tell you to get in touch with feedback but that isn’t actually something I want. I recommend good books and you take them or leave them. This isn’t a two way street. If you are cool with that I will be here next week trying to get you entertained again. If not, I am sure Unkie Dev would love for you to call him up at all hours and chat about comics.

— Matthew R

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