Tagged: Seconds

Graphic Spotlight – SNOTGIRL VOL. 1: GREEN HAIR DON’T CARE

Bryan Lee O’Malley‘s new series is #BuyMeNow

It’s finally here! Let’s face it, we’ve all kind of been spoiled with Bryan Lee O’Malley’s previous cult hits that include the never duplicated Scott Pilgrim series and his masterful OGN Seconds. Here’s a creator where we’re used to getting a big chunk of awesomeness at once but this time, O’Malley opted to do his first monthly series. At long last, the first volume if this #addictedtofabulous tale of Lottie Person is available in trade paperback form.

For those of you living in a superhero bubble, you’re probably wondering, “Who is Lottie Person?” That’s a rather complicated and, thus far, very fun question to answer. Lottie Person is an influential fashion blogger. She has a “[redacted] number of followers and is always on forefront of what’s hot and what’s not. As far as the digital world’s concerned, she’s the epitome of a fun-loving celebrity social media star. Every pic of her is fierce and fabulous. All of her [redacted] followers hang on her every post. Except the reality might be a little less glam-tastic. What the world doesn’t see is that Lottie suffers from ridiculously severe allergies. Which is what makes her the eponymous #Snotgirl. It’s a world of snot, blood, tears, and where nothing is exactly as it appears.

Mr. O’Malley’s brought on a newcomer for art duties in Leslie Hung. While some were at first a little disappointed that he wouldn’t be the one behind the pencils and inks, there’s no denying he’s picked a perfect collaborator to capture the complex and duplicitous world of Lottie Person.

Collects Snotgirl 1-5 for only $9.99!

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What I dug in 2014 finale: Creator Owned Comics

This is me saving the best for last. While both Marvel and DC had solid years creatively (and sales wise I imagine, but I don’t have those numbers at my hands), the number of quality creator owned comics that dropped this past year was astonishing. Today will be the day I focus on those quality books, which is why I’ve titled this article as such.

comics-the-wicked-and-the-divine-2-coverImage Comics had arguably it’s bet year to date in 2014. Aside from “older” on-goings like The Walking Dead, Saga, Invincible, Umbral, Rat Queens, and Sex Criminals (as well as the end of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips Fatale), we saw the debut of  a number of excellent new comics. Such books like the often discussed The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson, Fuse ( Antony Johnston, Justin Greenwood) Shutter ( Joe Keatinge, Leila Del Duca, Owen Gieni, Ed Brisson), Bitch Planet ( Kelly Sue Deconnick, Valentine Del Landro) among a dozen others all debuted within the last 12 months, which is impressive to say the least. Image continues to be the premiere comics company for creator owned books, luring some of the top creators from Marvel and DC (see Scott Snyder, Mark Millar, Rick Remender) to put out some of their best work of their careers without having to use corporate owned IPs. Image put out some of my favorite comics of the past year, all without having to resort to crossovers and $5 gimmick books.

boombox_lumberjanes_002_aBut Image wasn’t the only comic company to have a good year with creator owned comics. BOOM Studios produced some top notched horror comics with James Tylion IV with The Woods and Memetic. Their BOOM BOX! imprint also had the debut of the excellent Lumberjanes comics, arguably one of the best all ages comics on the stands The book by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen and Maarta Laiho was originally announced as a 8 issue mini series, but it’s well deserved popularity got it bumped up to an on-going and is constantly delightful and visually stunning. Oni Press published Charles Soule & Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque’s sci-fi drama Letter 44, a book that deserves more hype and discussion, and the books Charles Bunn’s put out through the company has been nothing short of great.  And while not exactly creator owned, Valiant Comics continues to impress, with some best under the radar super hero/action books being put out on a monthly basis.

51kMcl9F-rL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_And finally, two of 2014’s biggest releases, creator owned or otherwise, weren’t even from traditional comics publishers. Seconds, by Scott Pilgrim‘s Bryan Lee O Malley, Through the Woods by Emily Carroll saw print this year, and both are must reads in my opinion. While Seconds may  not be made into a movie by Edgar Wright any time soon, it’s a phenomenal comic that feels like a Miyazaki movie meant for the Scott Pilgrim crowd. Through the Woods is by far the creepiest comic I’ve read in years, as Emily Carroll delivers some genuine terror with her work, which blends horror with folk tales. I can’t recommend either enough.

2014 was a terrific year for comic. There may have been some dumb stuff that went down with some professionals and publishers, but the amount of good that came from the industry easily triumphs the bad. I’m eager to see what 2015 offers, what with us being a few short days from Image Expo, the release of Squirrel Girl, and whatever DC has up their sleeves once the company is united in California.

 

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Seconds

“Seconds” is the third comic from creator Bryan Lee O’Malley.

“Seconds” follows Katie, the chef/auteur creator of the best restaurant in the city, Seconds. She started the restaurant with all her friends, who have all since moved onto other ventures while Katie remained. With all her friends gone, she dreams of opening a new restaurant called “Katie’s,” with the excuses that the name fits on the pre-existing marquee of Lucky’s, the dilapidated building she bought to house her new endeavors.

Alright enough synopses, let’s talk formally. Second’s is by far the most well-crafted comic O’Malley has ever put out. The quality of cartooning and world building is top notch, something clearly O’Malley has a knack for as he’s shown us over the course of his career. The inclusion of color at the onset of this project (as opposed to the post coloring of Scott Pilgrim (which is colored by Nathan Fairbairn the same fella who colors this book)) keeps the work from being disconnected, or rather that one of the balls could drop in the perpetual juggling act that is making comics. That formalism aside, Fairbairn is a truly incredible colorist who fits O’Malley’s work like you’re dad’s old flannel you stole from his closet.

The most impressive thing (from a cartoonist’s point of view possibly…) may be how well O’Malley pulls off collaboration with three different creators on a book sold by his name alone. Having the drawing assistance of Jason Fischer and letters by the great Dustin Harbin is inspired. All too often, comics fall apart simple because the people collaborating on the project don’t completely synchronize into one vision. Writing can be great, drawing superb, but for whatever reason the people working together just don’t (man motions with both hands coming together with his finger’s interlaced). “Seconds” however does not suffer from this in the slightest. The “O’Malley Studio” syncs up without a stich to be shown despite being able to see the difference in drawing styles of Fischer and O’Malley, or the craftsmanship of Harbin versus the looser brush style of O’Malley.

The characters carry three dimensions though interestingly are not characters we all know. That is to say, they aren’t caricatures, you may know people in your life that are say a “Max or Katie Type,” but they have some many affects to their personality you would forever need to temper the phrase “Oh you’re toooootallly a Katie” with “Except you don’t yadayadayadayada.”

 

One issue I have with this book, that many disagree with me on, is an inherent issue I find with every comic that is attempting to be “novelistic.” O’Malley has said that he wanted this comic to be more like a book, hence I’m assuming the choice to have it put out by a book publisher as opposed to a comic publisher, though I’m sure distribution and money always play a heavy role. The issue I’m writing about is the extreme use of narration and exposition. The use of text is heavy, with little use of simple pictures being used to tell parts of the story. It falls into a category of comics that almost come off as “Learn How to Read Comics” or “Comics For Normal People.” An example being Alison Bechdel comics, where in the text is so heavy that the pictures rarely have a chance to shine. This argument is not to discredit the amazing and forward thinking work Bechdel and O’Malley both create or the moot argument of “Why Not Just Make It A Prose Book?” These people are cartoonist and they are telling the stories they want to tell in their medium, that’s not the issue. The issue is why not use the pictures More? There is scarcely an action that isn’t also accompanied by text describing what is happening. I can understand O’Malley’s want to be more novelistic in his approach to comics making but find it a lost opportunity to push the his own story-telling style where-in there is not just the surface quality of the picture making and the interesting story he threads for you, but also a more personalized vision of digestion. For the intricate Groundhog’s Day story that “Seconds” is there is little in the way of interesting Visual Story-Telling.

 

That very personal critique aside, (sorry everyone) Seconds is well worth your time. O’Malley is a supremely talented individual whose work remains consistently strong and consistently gets stronger. Go get Seconds so you cannot wait for his next book.

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Review: Seconds

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Bryan Lee O’Malley

Ballantine Books, $25

 

Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Seconds is a difficult book to review. As a dude who gets paid to review comics, it’s sometimes hard to be critical and fair of the material from creators that you really dig. You have to separate the fan from the professional, and all that junk, or risk losing whatever credibility with have.

It’s also difficult to review Seconds because it’s really friggin good, and now I have to stretch that point out for 500 words without the end result sounding like an ad for the book.

Seconds is the Hayao Miyazaki movie for adults that I’ve always wanted. And note, I don’t mean it’s mature in the sense of violence, adult language and sexy time stuffs (although there is some of the cursing and sexy times). It’s very much a story that someone like myself who in his early 30s can appreciate and relate to.

secondsupdateThe story of Seconds is this, and I apologize in advance for some of the brief but potential light spoilers brought up ONLY in this paragraph. Our lead Kate Bish is a talented young chef on the cusp of 30. She has plans to open a new restaurant, but her world and plans are quickly rocked  by several different problems that spring up all at once. Kate’s offered a chance to fix these problems with access to time travel via a strange mushroom offered by a even stranger woman, but is given some rules to follow. Kate also immediately breaks these rules and that’s going to be a problem obviously.

10546680_488378454642240_696561942_nLet’s talk about O’Malley’s art first. Assisted by Jason Fischer and colored by Nathan Fairbairn, O’Malley’s style reminds me of a Super Nintendo era Japanese Role Playing game set in the world of Scott Pilgrim. That’s like several levels of references, I understand that, but honestly that’s the best way to describe it. That being said, the end results are beautiful, especially when O’Malley tries something different and goes full Miyazaki. There’s also some really strong horror manga moments to this book, which really work thanks to Fairbairn’s colors. This is my first time experiencing O’Malley’s interior work in color ( long side note: he’s done some Kieron Gillen/Jamie McKelvie comic covers in color that I’m aware of, but I’m skipping over the colored versions of Scott Pilgrim because $$$) and I’m really digging it. There’s a lot of use of the color red in this book, which I think is intentional and may have some deeper meaning, but I’m still trying to figure that out. Luckily, Seconds is the type of book that encourages re-reads, despite the plot being relatively straight forward and easy to understand.

seconds-preview2In terms of plot and dialogue, Seconds is also pretty great. The story, according to O’Malley on a Nerdist podcast, is heavily influenced by the film Inception, but it definitely stands on it own. The dialogue is also very natural, not unlike Scott Pilgrim before it, and is incredibly charming. Watching Kate development relationships with her cast is as delightful as her time traveling/altering misadventures, and ultimately makes her a more relatable lead.

Seconds is arguably one of the most, if not the most important comics released in 2014, and it’s something you can’t afford to miss. Bryan Lee O’Malley is easily one of the most talented people working in the medium today, and Seconds a fantastic read. I cannot recommend you reading this book soon enough.

 

 

 

 

 

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We Gotta keep moving

We’ve got no time to waste with silly introductions about how I rule and you drool, because there are WAY too many things to enjoy this week. My reading pile is about to join the mile high club; a blessing and a curse.

Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley– Let’s start with a big kahuna: the first original graphic novel from O’Malley since Scott Pilgrim, Seconds! He may have been sheltering himself from Hollywood in his LA fortress since his greatly deserved success with the empire Scott Pilgrim built, but he’s been far from lazy working on his new (I’ll go ahead and say it) masterpiece. Seconds follows Katie as she’s offered a mysterious second chance at fixing what she thinks were past mistakes. With themes similar to his other great work, Lost at Sea, we get a look at those adult self-doubts of life and love, where we’ve been, and just where the f we’re going. What makes his work so great is that it makes a statement, without being overstated.

Cap’n Dinosaur One-Shot by Kek-W and Shaky Kane– Strange with a side of weird. Get all your 3-D glasses, sea-horses, and ray-guns together because Kek-W and Shaky Kane are taking you on an adventure through the classic back page ads of mid century comics, and leaving all reality behind. Follow Cap’n Dinosaur and Honey Moon to a deserted amusement park, with your master tour guides of surreal. And you don’t have to wait 5-7 weeks for the mailman to delivery these good times.

 

She-Hulk #6– If you’re inclined to read She-Hulk, you’re probably already reading it. But I picked up my first issue last week because Ron Wimberly was doing art, and I fell in love. This book is so cool. I have no history with this character, felt no loyalty to keeping up with long-held story lines, just picked it up, read it, loved it. My hope is that I can convince you that if a superhero book is done really well, you don’t need to have a 1200 single issue library of Hulk books to feel like this is accessible. You can be reading it RIGHT NOW! Which I recommend you start doing.

 

Lady Zorro #1– I’ve been supremely entertained by Alex Di Campi’s work on Dark Horse’s Grindhouse series. Bloody, violent, and powerful characters and stories that are consistently told in new ways, even if the stories have classic vibes. Nothing is more classic that Zorro, lady or otherwise. As a weirdo, I grew up watching reruns of the old black and white Zorro TV show, and the silliness of the premise was not lost on me. So I’m excited to see someone with a champion level grasp on the classics, spin a tale of a bad-ass heroine.

The Devilers #1– Joshua Hale Fialkov is on a god damn role this year. The Bunker, The Ultimates, and his latest greatest, The Life After, have been dominating the critics lists, and this creator-owned batch of work coming from Dynamite has a lot of talent behind it. For all you cult-obsessed readers, we meet a group of exorcists fighting against satan’s army, and presumably fighting for our souls. The first issue gives a lot of exposition because there’s a huge cast to meet, but it’s dark from the get go. All of this is supported by the juicy noir art of Matt Triano that looks like a classic Prince Valiant with less castles and more demons. Fialkov must be on “great beyond” streak between this and The Life After, but it’s working for him! (And Jock is doing covers)

 

Black Market #1-Because I will sing the eternal praises of Frank Barbiere, I can’t miss an opportunity to talk about his new Boom! series, Black Market. Handling superheroes with organic beauty and simplicity, we’re introduced to a genius that toils and wastes his day among the dead. But he’s given the chance to save lives by curing all diseases…with the DNA of superheroes. Sticking his writer nose further into the science/super genre, Barbiere is really exploring the evil for a greater good premise with unexpected consequences. Victor Santos, who did that amaaaaazing book, Polar, is providing shadowy relief artwork to compliment the literal shadows in which this new story exists.

The Auteur #5– Now that you’ve bought all these other fantastic comics, you can burn them, and pee on their ashes, because you now have a new issue of the Auteur.

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New Bryan Lee O’Malley Graphic Novel This Week

Seconds, the new stand alone full color graphic novel from Bryan Lee O’Malley, best-selling author of the Scott Pilgrim series, is available at Forbidden Planet NYC this coming Tuesday.

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Katie’s got it pretty good. She’s a talented young chef, she runs a successful restaurant, and she has big plans to open an even better one. Then, all at once, progress on the new location bogs down, her charming ex-boyfriend pops up, her fling with another chef goes sour, and her best waitress gets badly hurt. And just like that, Katie’s life goes from pretty good to not so much. What she needs is a second chance. Everybody deserves one, after all—but they don’t come easy. Luckily for Katie, a mysterious girl appears in the middle of the night with simple instructions for a do-it-yourself do-over:

1. Write your mistake
2. Ingest one mushroom
3. Go to sleep
4. Wake anew

And just like that, all the bad stuff never happened, and Katie is given another chance to get things right. She’s also got a dresser drawer full of magical mushrooms—and an irresistible urge to make her life not just good, but perfect. Too bad it’s against the rules. But Katie doesn’t care about the rules—and she’s about to discover the unintended consequences of the best intentions.

From the mind and pen behind the acclaimed Scott Pilgrim series comes a madcap new tale of existential angst, everyday obstacles, young love, and ancient spirits that’s sharp-witted and tenderhearted, whimsical and wise.

Advance praise for Seconds:

“In Seconds, Bryan Lee O’Malley plays the angst of youth against the fabric of a larger epic. In doing so, he enriches both. A great ride!”—Guillermo del Toro

“Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Seconds is adorable, haunting, funny, and beautiful. A perfect recipe for a great graphic novel.”—Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics

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