Tagged: Vertigo

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Creative Conversation: Ibrahim Moustafa

Welcome to a Creative Conversation with creator Ibrahim Moustafa. Here we give you a chance to get inside the mind, learn some in depth background, and discuss the creative process of some of comics’ best writers and artists. In our first Creative Conversation I had the opportunity to speak with the artist behind Vertigo’s smashingly good new series, “Savage Things.” If the Bourne franchise went down the horror route, you have an inkling of what’s in store for you with this book. Ibrahim gives a better sum up a little further down. We talked about first comics, must reads, stories that stick with us as young comic fans, how this new series came about and who would be on Ibrahim’s own personal Mount Rushmore of comic book artists. Agree? Disagree? Find out!

MK: So let’s start with a little background because in all our conversations I’m not sure I know this: How did your journey lead you to working in comics?

IM: I was always drawing as a kid, and some of my earliest memories are of watching the Christopher Reeve “Superman” movies. Not long after that I discovered the Ninja Turtles and Batman 66 TV shows, and was obsessed with them all. I had and read a few comics as a kid and was always drawing the aforementioned. I got much more into collecting and reading comics when I discovered the X-Men cartoon in the early 90s, and I would hoard those Fleer Ultra 93 and 94 X-Men cards sets as a kid.

I fell out of comics for a long time as I got into sports a bit. And then in high school I was heavily into drawing graffiti art and breakdancing. When I was a Junior, “Smallville” had come out and rekindled my love of Superman. Someone gave me a book called “The Complete History Of Superman” and it had a few Alex Ross paintings in it, which completely blew my mind. I had no idea you could do *that* with superheroes.

That sent me down the rabbit hole of “Who is this guy? How is he doing this? What is he painting with? What else has he done?” From there I found “Kingdome Come” and started going to the comic shop, and that ignited my interest in drawing superheroes again. After a short while I realized that people were drawing comics for a living, and I began a very disciplined, regimented plan to make that my reality as well.

It worked (laughs)!

MK: That’s epic! What was your local comic shop when you were getting heavily into it?

IM:The first one I wandered into was a small one-off called Hidden Treasures or something to that effect, but they closed down shortly after. Then a friend that I worked with told me that there was a place called Things From Another World that was literally blocks away from our job. And they became my regular supplier in the formative era of my comics addiction, haha.

MK:They’re a great operation out in the Portland area. Other than Alex Ross, who were some other artists that got you jazzed into drawing superheroes and comics again?

IM: There have been SO many, but the ones that have stayed an influence/inspiration regardless of my changing interests are probably Stuart Immonen, David Mazzucchelli, and Lee Bermejo. As I’ve burrowed deeper into comics and it’s artistic masters, I’d say my Mount Rushmore consists Alex Ross, Stuart Immonen, Alex Toth, and Jorge Zaffino.

MK: That’s an eclectic looking Mount Rushmore.

IM: It is!

MK:I dig it. Before we go too far off topic: Favorite X-Men character?

IM: Cyclops (I know), Wolverine is a close second, though. You?

MK: I feel like Wolverine is everybody’s top one or two but personally, especially since Grant Morrison brought her into the mix I’m an Emma Frost man. Which doesn’t make me a “real” X-Men fan in most folks’ eyes but it is what it is. What is it about Cyclops for you?

IM: 1) You can like whichever X-Person you want and damn anyone who tells you otherwise!

MK: Thank you!

IM: 2) Honestly, I think Cyclops was the most like Superman, aesthetically, and that really appealed to seven year-old me when I discovered the show; he was the do-good leader, he had red blasts from his eyes, and he wore all blue with yellow and red (laughs).

But there was something about the idea that he was encumbered by his power that really hit me as a kid. The fact that this thing he could do made him an outcast and made his life difficult, but he used it to help people anyway…That always got me.

Also, his mutation didn’t cause him to have a drastically different outward appearance, but it was enough to make him an other. And growing up half-Egyptian, I experienced a lot of cultural differences from the kids around me. Questions like, “Why can’t you eat pork?” are a lot like, “Why are you always wearing sunglasses?” So, I think that appealed to me about Cyclops as well.

MK: Take that Cyclops haters! That’s really inspiring how you were able to have that relation to Cyclops. For you, do you think comics has a special place as far as storytelling in a way that movies, TV, theatre, or other mediums don’t quite?

IM: I do, absolutely. I think that there are more opportunities to play with the passage of time visually on a comics page than with other mediums. In comics, for example, you can have a splash page of a scene that is split into four different panels across a single image of say, a park. And each panel can represent the four seasons in a year.

Comics also allow for opportunities to echo imagery from one page or one sequence to another. So let’s say you have a page where a character is a child, and they’re playing, and they fall down and scrape up their knee. Then, you cut to them as an adult in a few chapters and they’re in a completely different scenario, but they go through a similar accident, and you’re establishing that they’re prone to this kind of thing in their life.

In comics, seeing all of those panels in one page as a whole creates a different experience than film or TV where you would see that happen one shot at a time. You’re taking in the gestalt of the moment on a page rather than the disparate parts that make the whole. Symbolism, the efficiency afforded by narration paired with a parallel image to the text, the pacing of a page-turn into a splash. There are tons of cool ways to deliver a moment in a comics page that are unique to the medium, and that’s probably what I love about it the most.

MK: That’s an amazing answer. Thank you for that. To switch gears a little, let’s talk about your new series out which I think definitely displays some of those elements you’ve so eloquently discussed. “Savage Things” which you draw, and is written by the one and only Justin Jordan, hit shelves on March 1st. Did you and Justin know each other much prior to working on the book? Was it an arranged marriage by Vertigo? How did your collaboration come about?

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Savage Things #1

IM: Justin and I had met here in Portland back in 2012 or so at a great indy comics show we used to have here called Stumptown. We’ve bumped into each other a few times since then on Twitter, and I’ve been a fan of his work since I first read “Luthor Strode” but when our editor Jamie S. Rich reached out to me to draw the book he facilitated a wonderful reunion for the two of us. So, pretty much an arranged marriage and the dowry was a super-dope book that I get to draw

MK: I love it when an arranged marriage blossoms into true love and kick ass action sequences.

IM: (Laughs)

MK: If someone asks you to describe “Savage Things,” what’s been your favorite answer to give?

IM: “Savage Things” is what you get when a bunch of Dexters are kidnapped and raised by the government to be Jason Bourne.

MK: That’s maybe the most badass way of summing up a book I’ve ever heard. Here’s a two-parter: What’s been one of the most challenging and what’s been your favorite thing to draw so far for the series?

IM: The book is full of excellent opportunities to create cool action sequences, and I think that’s been my favorite part so far. There have also been a few types of locations I’ve never never drawn before (a hospital, a power plant, a few others) so that’s been a fun challenge.

The most difficult thing has been figuring out how to draw expressive faces on sociopaths (laughs).

MK: That seems like a challenge on several levels (laughs). Can you perhaps tease us about something readers should be super excited to discover in issue two and beyond?

IM: Yes! The next few issues pitt our lead character, Abel, against six of the other sociopathic, trained murderers that he grew up with. So as you can imagine, issue one was just a tease at some of the brutality that these guys are capable of, especially toward each other. By the end of issue three, we pull back the lens and broaden the scope of the battle quite a bit. I’m very excited!

MK: Man, I can’t wait to see how you and Justin up the ante! Final two questions before our time’s up:

1) For someone new to comics, what are five essential must reads you’d recommend?

2) For all things Ibrahim Moustafa, “Savage Things,” and your ridiculously amazing James Bond posters, where can fans keep up with you on social media and the web? (Seriously, his James Bond posters kind of cray cray. Don’t believe me, click here!)

IM: 1) This is a tough one! These are certainly slanted toward things that I love, so your mileage may certainly vary.

Scalped” is my favorite book of all-time. It’s a crime drama a la “Breaking Bad” or “The Wire.” Anyone can dive right into it.

“Kingdom Come”: I read this pretty early on and loved it. There are a ton of references and characters in it, but as long as you know who Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Shazaam are, the rest falls into place.

The Losers” is a great book if you love action movies with fun characters, a cool story/lots of intrigue.

Old Man Logan” is almost a companion piece to “Kingdom Come” in that it’s a look at a possible future, full of cool stuff and references but mainly if you know the X-Men and the Avengers, you’re solid.

Batman: Year One.” One of the greatest comics ever made and a perfect primer for Batman fans looking to give the comics a try.

2) I’m on twitter at: @Ibrahim_M_ and my official site is http://theartofibrahimmoustafa.blogspot.com/

MK: Ibrahim, you’re a class act, thank you for being so generous and gracious with your time in joining me in our first Creative Conversation.

Check out “Savage Things #1” now and get ready for “Savage Things #2,” on shelves Wednesday, April 5th, 2017. Stay tuned for our next…Creative Conversation.

Please send love/hate messages to Matthew via Twitter @matthewklein316 and on Instagram. Matthew loves all things Batman, Valiant, and pro-wrestling related. He’s also pretty sure that it’s not recommended to spend more waking hours watching reruns of “Chuck” than sleeping but hasn’t been able to prove this theory.

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Savaeg_Things_1

Prepare To Witness Savage Things #1

They trained him to be a monster. Now, they need him to protect them from monsters.

Savage Things #1 is a heart-stopping ride! If you want gripping action and intriguing characters with a greater threat to tease you back for the next issue then look no further. Savage Things comes from the pen of Justin Jordan (The Legacy of Luther Strode, Shadowman) and the pencils of Ibrahim Moustafa (High Crimes). For fans of Sheriff of Babylon, Nailbiter, Velvet, or Greg Rucka’s Queen & Country series, congratulations you just found your next must-read series.

The story is centered around a secret government organization who kidnaps and trains children they believe have the markings to become serial killers. Instead of just ignoring these potential threats to society, they decide to train them to be chaos agents. As agents of chaos they were sent in to certain hotspots to engage and execute enemies of the state with extreme prejudice. When the monsters they created became too tough to control, the organization decided to eliminate their kill squad. The result: Epic fail.

Now a rogue group of these savage killers has begun to cut a swath of terror all over the United States threatening to expose secrets the organization will do anything to keep from being revealed. Their solution? His code name is Abel and he’s perfectly happy with getting his hands bloody. Put it this way, Jason Bourne ain’t got $@&% on Abel.

Don’t miss this exciting first chapter of an eight-issue limited series that has all the potential to be at the top of your pull-list.

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May 7th Mega Signing

The-Woods-Mega-SigningMay 7th had so many awesome releases we couldn’t decided who to have a signing with, so we’re doing everybody. Come down to Forbidden Planet and get you copy of Vertigo’s  CMYK Anthology and In the Dark signed by a slew of amazing creators.and James Tynion IV (Batman Eternal) will also be on hand to sign his brand new series The Woods. And if that wasn’t enough the man, the legend Larry Hama will also be here in the flesh. Don’t miss out folks.

 

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Late to the Party: Chris reads “The Wake: Volume 1”

WKE_Cv1_SOLICIT_DThe Wake Volume 1

Scott Snyder/Sean Murphy/Matt Hollingsworth

Vertigo/DC, Collects issue 1-5

Hey look, I’m starting the year off looking at a DC book not called Sandman, this really is a brave new world!

In my defense, look at this creative team, for it is shiny and very talented!  Back when I was buying New 52 DC, Scott Snyder’s Batman was the only DC  book I bought for over a year on a monthly basis. He’s an insanely talented writer, and seems like a good dude judging by the quality of his tweets (obviously a very important tool in measuring one’s worth). On the art side of things, Sean Murphy is another creator I really dig, being a fan of his since his Hellblazer fill-in days, and following him onto Joe the Barbarian and Punk Rock Jesus. And with Hawkeye’s Matt Hollingsworth coloring the book, even I had to cave in, despite my heavy Marvel/Image bias.

The Wake is arguably one of the best sci-fi-horror comic I’ve read in quite some time. The creators really did their research when it came to this building this world, because a lot of the science involved seems plausible, or at least to my undereducated ass. The plot, which I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers, us marine biologist Lee Archer is offered a once in a lifetime job to go out to the Arctic to do some research on some odd noises the government has stumbled upon….or so she thinks! ( Gasp here please)  Then the HORRIBLE AND SPOOKY truth is revealed, and the more stuff happen and ultimately it leads to into some world altering stuff. Actual world altering, not the for 6 months then everything is back to normal world altering you seen in Marvel event. Also there may be some wackiness that goes down in mankind’s earliest days, and the far future. No more details, but yeah, this books is nuts in the best kind of ways.

The-Wake-001-Interior-Art-01-600x344Snyder and Murphy have a working relationship going back to Snyder’s American Vampire series, and The Wake is a testament of how in-sync these 2 are. There’s some REALLY brutal stuff that goes down in this first volume, and some real nightmare inducing imagery as well. And like I said earlier it’s also incredibly smart, and you can tell Snyder did his research, who I believe does some teaching in addition to comics. The best type of horror is the believeable type, and Snyder does a nice job of tying marine biology and various culture’s folklores together in this story.

Sean Murphy remains one of the best artists out there. His style is rough, sketchy, and heavy on the dark inks, and that’s fine with me. I’m not sure if The Wake would have worked as well with photo realistic art, but it definitely does with Snyder’s rough, jagged art. It’s always super detailed, and characters all look great without looking like super heroes or super models. And again, with Snyder’s help, they’re all very believable, fleshed out, and rarely, if ever a cliche.  And with Hollingsworth’s colors, Snyder scenes look amazing. I prefer black and white Murphy art most of the time, but Hollingsworth’s one of the best colorists in the biz, so his stuff only makes Murphy’s art better in the end.

The first act of this series ends on great cliffhanger, and I’m eager to see what volume 2 brings. The lead for the next volume and their world look super interesting, and I like what I’m reading and hearing from Snyder and Murphy. With Image currently owning the creator owned crowd, it’s nice to see a Vertigo book bring it, especially with the future of the imprint in question these days.

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Anna Reviews Stuff

Holy moly. This time next week I’ll be back in my beloved second city, New York City. For NYCC! I’m going to hug everyone at Forbidden Planet so hard they won’t know what hit them. I might just actually hit people instead. Either way, there’s a solid amount of talent going to NYCC that don’t normally make it to very many conventions, like: Joe Mad! Paul Pope, David Lloyd, and Ramona Fradon (whaaat?!). Personally, I’ll be holding it down with the awesome ladies and gents of Oni Press (booth 1844!), so you should come and say, “Heeeeey”, just like that.

I’m super pumped! Also pumped about comics this week (and every week)!

(I should cut back on parentheses)

 

Shaolin Cowboy #1

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Shaolin Cowboy; Geoff Darrow; ongoing. Three awesome things to read in tandem. The classic, and fan-favorite, kung-fu fighting cowboy returns to Dark Horse this week with a new and on-going story. It’s an easy spot to drop in if it’s your first time venturing into the wild, chainsaw-wielding West, but it also has everything the tried and true fans of Darrow’s hyper violence want out of the series. In case you missed that, yes, chainsaw-wielding. I read an interview in which someone asked Darrow about why he liked to draw them so much, and he replied by saying he wasn’t sure where the fascination came from, he just liked to draw them, oh but wait, my uncle did sever his leg with a chainsaw when I was younger.  Regardless of the chainsaw origin, there’s never been anything more right than an outlawed Shaolin monk who fights badies that are after the bounty placed on his head. Am I sufficiently making it clear to you how awesome this series is? So good to have you back old friend.

 

Popeye Classics #15

Oh, you thought I only like to talk about super violent action books? I have a soft spot for the classics, and feel it pertinent that people know your parents/grandparents/self(?) had a few things right with these timeless comics. And thanks to the publishers at IDW, cartoonist Bug Sagendorf is finally being recognized for his work, and held up alongside the greats like Carl Barks (Donald Duck), and John Stanley (Little Lulu). Sagendorf did Popeye comics for almost 20 years, and in that time developed a comedy style that still makes me laugh every time I read them. If this is the first time you’re picking up a Popeye Classic, you don’t really have to worry about a plot of who’s good, who’s evil, what interstellar space race is trying to destroy the planet, you just have to try to get this into the hands of youngsters to set them straight on a long and happy life of comics reading/appreciating/loving.

This sentiment translates to all the classic, all-ages comics that are being published right now: Nancy, Peanuts, Little Lulu, Donald Duck. They’re all fantastically funny, heartfelt, and surprisingly relevant.

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Rocket Girl #1

If I had a pick of the week, this would be my pick of the week. The plot line itself might make your head explode, so take precautions while reading this: a teenage girl who fights for space police in a high-tech version of 2013 travels back in time to gritty 1986 New York City to investigate the conglomerate, Quintum Mechanics for time crime. Along the way she discovers alternate realities! Utopias v. rampant crime! Landline phones! This uber-successful Kickstarter project from writer Brandon Montclare and fan-favorite artist Amy Reeder, turned Image project, has been teasing fans for months with back page ads that look like they’re ripped from 1986. If you’re a fan of the tough ‘80s action movie female characters that used to be so prevalent in classics like Predator 2, Robocop, and Terminator, then Rocket Girl will not disappoint. Amy Reeder’s world building, highly saturated colors, and eye for detail (particularly for fashion, especially if you remember their Halloween special last year, Halloween Eve), is essential in telling this period piece story. A teenage police officer, who travels time, and wears a jetpack is pretty essential too.

 

Archer and Armstrong #14

A Valiant reboot of a solid buddy-team comics appears to be their strong suit, and I for one am not complaining. If you’re unaware of the basic plot, let me catch you up: Archer was raised to respect and love his family, who in turned trained him to fight a great evil that threatens his family and their beliefs. That evil turns out to be the constantly old, and constantly drunk, Armstrong. But instead of killing him, Archer realizes that he may have been lied to his entire life, and that his parents are really a part of an age-old organization called the Sect, that has its claws in every religious and government body in the world. This new arc is a solid jumping on point as the various factions that make up the Sect are tired of each other, and a massive civil war is about to be unleashed. It’s no surprise who the only two people are that can stop them are, but we have no idea how! These books are easy to read, easy to get into, and never disappointing in action or comedy. Valiant really tries to remember that comics really are the best medium for one-liners, and they don’t hold back.

 

There’s fortunately, a ton of other stuff I want to pimp this week, but for the sake of my laziness, I’m going to condense them into a Halloween/Fall package of awesome:

Coffin Hill #1 is the newest addition to the Vertigo family. There’s something about New England that makes authors want to write truly F’d up novels and comics, and novelist Caitlin Kittredge upholds that maker with a story about a cop, Eve Coffin, forced into early retirement who makes her way back to her hometown. Only to discover that a night of drugs, drinking, witchcraft, and murder 10 years ago has left a lingering impression in the woods, and her dark past is seeking revenge. Art by Inaki Miranda (Fables!)! Creepy Comics #14 Good gravy there are so many people working on this issue: Ray Fawkes, Dan Braun, Peter Bagge, Matthew Southworth, Tomm Coker, Tim Seeley, David Palumbo. My job is done, you’re probably already reading this now, aren’t you? More convincing? It’s only $3.99 and 40 pages long! Lucifer TP Vol 2 I don’t talk about collections that often, but if you didn’t get a chance to read the Sandman spinoff, Lucifer, before it went out of print, then there is little to zero time to waste when it comes to picking this up. The Satan that people love to hate is building his own Garden of Eden, and playing, well, God? This is some of Mike Carey’s best work, and the density of these books makes them worth every penny, and every page.

 

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Mobile Suit Gundam The Origin Activation review

With the exception of Gundam Unicorn, new Gundam merchandise in the US has been kind of rare these days, to say the least. Ever since Bandai Entertainment kicked the bucket, all DVD sales have pretty much ceased, with Turn A Gundam’s highly anticipated release getting canned and the aftermarket prices for the Mobile Suit Gundam boxsets now reaching absurd prices on the aftermarket. With no plans to show Gundam AGE in the US, it seemed like Gundam was pretty much dead out here.

Thankfully, a little publishing company called Vertigo decided to step up to the plate and give us a new English reprinting of Gundam: The Origin.

For those unfamiliar, Gundam: The Origin is a manga adaptation of Mobile Suit Gundam written and drawn by character designer Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, better known by his fans as “Yas”. Unlike his mecha-designing counterpart Kunio Okawara, Yas hasn’t lost his touch at all. The art for the mecha and characters alike are fantastic, and the updated mobile suit designs are fantastic as well. I especially like how it’s clear where the Zaku’s cockpit is located in this version, unlike the original design which seemed to change depending on which piece of media you were watching.

Origin is a very faithful adaptation of the TV series, but it still does a few things differently. Unlike most manga adaptations which compress many events down and even omits some others, Origin actually has MORE to it than the TV series did. For example, instead of three Zakus attacking Side 7 at the start of the story, six do, and three of which are destroyed while taking down the RX-78-1 Prototype Gundam in combat. It takes over 150 pages just to tell the events of the first episode.

Some story events are different as well, and characterizations stronger. Amuro learns how to pilot the Gundam by hacking into his dad’s classified military files instead of just picking up a book that got dropped, and Sayla’s personality is much stronger and less passive. Also of note is Captain Bright, who is far less confident than his anime counterpart; essentially putting on a face during combat to avoid seeming insecure.

The first book covers the events of the first episode through the White Base first breaking through the Earth’s atmosphere. Essentially, this book is equal to the first disk of the DVDs.

I do, however, take some issues with the localization of the story. While the transfers art-wise are much better than the old Viz release, there are some issues with the dialogue. Many of the translations differ from the ones we have become so used to over the past 12 years, namely the opening narration. Character names are all correct, as are mobile suits, but the slang terms for Federation and Zeon (“Feddie” and “Zeek”) aren’t used at all, and instead we only see “Fed” used. These names have been used by the fanbase so much, they were canonized in several official works.

Additionally, some character ranks are odd. Bright is always referred to as “Lieutenant Junior Grade” instead of just “Lieutenant”. While an accurate translation for sure, it’s odd and clunky, as LTJGs are usually just referred to as “Lieutenants”. Hopefully this is just a learning curve that will improve with time.

Despite a few bumps, I find the new release of Gundam: The Origin to be an incredibly welcome addition to any manga library. You can pick it up for $30 at FPNYC, and the second volume should be out in June!

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TRY SOMETHING NEW CHAPTER 6: Have Won Their First Victory.

So one of my co-workers today told me that they have no idea what it means when I write “RIYL” in my column. I guess I just thought that was something everyone knew. Seems not to be the case. This is like when I try and talk to my friends about… most of the things I try and talk to my friends about really. Blank stares. A sea of blank stares. An endless, bottomless, oppressive ocean of blank stares. Now I put my actual readership of this column at about 8 people split between the blog and the newsletter. One of those people is my dad for some reason. One is Forbidden Planet’s tech-wizard/dancing machine Tyler, who gently informed me “I only read it because I have to.” Then he thoughtfully added, “Stop mentioning me in your column.” No. Anyway, I now wonder if any of my 6 other readers have understood why every book recommendation ends with a series of letters and a list of other books. Is my writing that disjointed that when I lapse into code and nonsense nobody bats an eye? Either way RIYL stands for “Recommended If You Like.” It’s an acronym. TRY SOMETHING NEW has just taken it’s first step towards becoming educationalish.

Fun Fact: The word “acronym” is, in fact, an acronym. What is a.c.r.o.n.y.m. an a.c.r.o.n.y.m. for? Well you will have to use g.o.o.g.l.e. to find out the answer to that one. On with the show!

Bionic Man Vs Bionic Woman #1

BIONIC MAN VS. BIONIC WOMAN #1. I don’t know anything about this book. Didn’t read it. Didn’t read the BIONIC WOMAN comics that came before it. Didn’t read the BIONIC MAN comics that came before it. Never watched the TV shows those comics are based on. So why am I recommending this book? It was written by a man named Keith Champagne. That is the best, most badass name in all of comics. This guy must get invited to every party in the world. People probably offer him money to sleep with them. I bet Keith Champagne could kill a man on live tv and never be arrested. I bet he owns a submarine. He probably wouldn’t need a spacesuit on the moon. I feel like I got pregnant just talking about him. You know, I used to think Dennis Hopeless was the best name in comics. Boy was I wrong. Go buy Keith Champagne’s book so he gets more writing gigs and we can talk about him more.

R.I.Y.L: I have no idea. Running in slow motion? Track suits? People with robot parts? Men and women fighting each other? No. Recommended if you like Keith Champagne. R.I.Y.L.K.C.

Black Beetle #1 (of 4)

BLACK BEETLE: NO WAY OUT #1 is out this week. Why are there two different comics with color coded beetles as the main character? Because humans as a species are all really close to running out of ideas. That doesn’t change the fact that Black Beetle is a very fun new series from superstar artist and sometimes writer Francesco Francavilla. With an art style that is most at home doing stylish and action packed noir stores, Mr. Francavilla has written a character that easily plays to his strengths. This pulp detective/superhero character has appeared in a few short stories in DARK HORSE PRESENTS that were collected as BLACK BEETLE #0, but now he heads out on his first longer case. If you have no exposure to this Black Beetle yet No Way Out #1 is a great place to jump on. Keith Champagne would want you to.

RIYL: Pulp stuff like THE SHADOW, THE ROCKETEER, or THE SPIDER, new superheroes who feel like old superheroes.

Harbinger (Ongoing) TP VOL 01 Omega Rising

HARBINGER vol 1. OMEGA RISING. I am a big supporter of Valiant. They took a bunch of dead properties that only a few diehard fans cared about and brought them back to life in a big way last year. Rather than going out and spending a ton of money on big names who would do rush jobs on their properties, Valiant spent wisely. They got not the biggest names, but some of the best names, to thoughtfully and carefully bring their books to life. ARCHER & ARMSTRONG, X-O MANOWAR, & BLOODSHOT were some of the best superhero titles released last year, with writers like Fred Van Lente (HERCULES, COMIC BOOK HISTORY OF COMICS), Robert Venditti (SURROGATES, THE HOMELAND DIRECTIVE), Duane Swierczynski (PUNISHER, CABLE), (if they were smart they would hire Keith Champagne) making a smart and coherent universe for these characters. Fun, nice looking, and a good starting points without alienating old fans, the relaunch was well planned across the board. But the book that got me most excited, the book that shot my interest through the roof, was HARBINGER. Like a dark and cynical, yet compassionate take on the X-Men, Harbinger is the story of a superpowered teen who must learn to control his powers while others seek to use him for their own gains. This idea should be intriguing for any fan of capes comics, but I cared because Valiant went out and hired Joshua Dysart. Far from a household name but he should be, Mr. Dysart is probably best known for his run on SWAMP THING or writing the Neil Young comic that I didn’t read. But Mr. Dysart also wrote my favorite comic of the last 5 years, one of my favorite stories of all time actually, UNKNOWN SOLDIER. If you haven’t read UNKNOWN SOLDIER you are missing out on one of the great graphic narratives of our lifetime. I use a lot of hyperbole in this column but I kind of think that last sentence was true. It is hard for me to put into words how compelling and beautiful UNKNOWN SOLDIER is. HARBINGER, while no UNKNOWN SOLIDER, is however one of the best superhero setups we have seen in a long time and a reason to visit comic shops every month. Valiant are continuing their wonderful commitment to get people excited about their books by making this collection of the first 5 issues only $10. They are challenging you not to read it, daring you to continue to read the same old stuff when there is newer, better, and cheaper. Don’t let Valiant make you look like an idiot. Buy HARBINGER vol. 1 today. Or this week at least.

RIYL: The more personal X-MEN stories, MORNING GLORIES, or RISING STARS.

One Trick Rip Off Deep Cuts HC

ONE TRICK RIP-OFF. Paul Pope is one of those artists who has reached a level of success which means he doesn’t have to put out a lot of work and it only increases peoples excitement. There are a few folks operating in this class now; Geoff Darrow, Ashley Wood, Darwyn Cooke, Charles Burns, folks like that. Paul Pope definitely leads the pack though. Sure they do things here and there from time to time, a shirt, a magazine cover, a short story, but a new book is a cause for serious celebration and excitement. Well Paul Pope has a new book this week. ONE TRICK RIP-OFF. And here’s the thing. It’s not even a new book and I am disturbingly excited. Originally it was published as short stories in DARK HORSE PRESENTS and later collected in the mid 90’s, but this is the first time this story has been printed in color, and the first time it has been available at an affordable price in more than a decade. Containing the whole story, plus over 150 pages of other shorts, art, and rarities from Mr. Pope, this book is a no-brainer for people who want to study the work of one of the pioneers of modern comic visuals. Mr. Pope is a true badass in the comics world today and he rarely sticks his head out long enough for us to get work from him. Also, not as cool a name as Keith Champagne, but Paul Pope is a pretty awesome guy name. Grab this one while you can.

R.I.Y.L: Great art that is also really cool. Cooler than you or me.

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TRY SOMETHING NEW Chapter 4: It Is a Period of Civil War

It’s a new year. What better time to set new resolutions, try new things, and, most importantly read new comics. That’s where I come in. Other holidays have their mascosts; Santas and bunnies and…turkeys… and cherubs I guess… And now me. I am the Ghost of Good Comics That Will Be Canceled if You Don’t Read Them. I am your Jacob Marley. I am your conscience. Now I am going to bully you into trying a new comic you will love. You’re welcome.

Let’s start it off with the basics. You probably like comics because they are great. You probably like Spider-Man because he is amazing (or superior). You probably should be trying a new book because that is a moral imperative. While Dan Slott and co. make you wait for the debut of their new SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN, Marvel newcomer Joe Keatinge gives one of Spidey’s most fun pseudo-villains a series of his own. MORBIUS THE LIVING VAMPIRE #1 comes out today. Mr. Keatinge has been working on comics for years but has really made a name for himself in the past year with Image books like HELL YEAH! and GLORY. Morbius on the other hand has been kicking around the Marvel Universe for decades while rarely getting his proper due. He is an interesting character and Mr. Keatinge is an interesting writer, making this one a no brainer for the superhero set. These last 10 years have seen the big 2 companies face a nearly impossible battle of trying to diversify their titles. Great characters like Guardians of the Galaxy, Secret Six, Sentry, OMAC, and tons more have withered on shelves because readers won’t branch out. If you have ever been in a comic shop and said to yourself “why does every book have “BAT” or “SUPER” or “X” or “AVENGERS” in the title?” the answer is that you won’t buy books like Morbius. Do us all a favor and give an interesting book a chance. Or wait patiently for Marvel to make a book called X-Avengers. RIYL: SPIDER-MAN, GLORY, or any new characters ever getting books at the big 2.

Blackacre #2

BLACK ACRE #1 was an interesting idea. Private, walled-off cities that weathered an apocalypse and now stand on the brink of collapse in the wastelands of America. Well, BLACK ACRE #2 hits this week. Comics is a difficult medium because it is episodic so it requires a series to open with a bang and really grab you. Some of the classic ones can do it on page one. Some of the others take a full 22 pages. Here’s the thing, BLACK ACRE never grabbed me like that at all. It is smart, well written, has a great setting, and nice art. It doesn’t have that hook though. It feels a lot like a movie, a whole lot of setup that seems like it is building towards something, but it isn’t there in the opening. It is hard to quantify why though. I put down issue #1 fully entertained and satisfied, but not at all curious. Now a month has passed and I find myself pretty excited for #2. And I think that is what BLACK ACRE has and why it shines. It isn’t playing a lot of the games other books are playing. It does it’s own thing and it’s clever enough to know that should be enough to keep you coming back. And here is the book I thought I had forgotten, worming it’s way to the top of my pile. RIYL: Smart dystopian sci-fi like JUDGE DREDD or WASTELAND, or near future action stuff like DMZ, or films like ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK.

Fatale TP VOL 02 Devils BusinessFATALE vol. 2: THE DEVIL’S BUSINESS comes out this week. Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have spent a few years chipping away at the title of best creative team in comics. They pretty much have it in the bag but they want to put a bunch of FATALE out to make everyone else look stupid. In the realm of crime writers Brubaker now stands nearly alone in terms of quality. And in the realm of noir-ish cartoonists Phillips has very few challengers. After SLEEPER, and CRIMINAL, and INCOGNITO, these two have done some of the best crime comics ever made. FATALE is their crime comic cum Lovecraft. It’s Cthulu noir. It is better than everything else and if you didn’t buy the first one you made a horrible mistake. Buy the second one with the first one now. This book gets all the recommendations I have to give. RIYL: Crime. Horror. Good things.

47 Ronin #2 of (5)47 RONIN #2 is also out now. Mike Richardson is the founder of Dark Horse comics and has done more to raise the quality of comics than everybody but a very select few. Stan Sakai has been drawing and writing USAGI YOJIMBO for 2+ decades. The legend of the 47 Ronin is one of the most beloved and badass legends in all of human existence. Richardson & Sakai are teaming up to do a very authentic and faithful retelling of this story and it is really entertaining. Most importantly they are taking a hundreds of years old legend and making it feel relevant and fresh. Unless you read a lot of manga a book like this will be like a slap in the face, in the best possible way. Best part of all, it looks like USAGI YOJIMBO with humans… and that is just weird fun. RIYL: USAGI YOJIMBO, manga like LONE WOLF & CUB, BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL, or SAMURAI EXECUTIONER, and classic tales on the level of Homer or Brother’s Grimm.

Red Ten #1 (of 10)

RED TEN #1. A new take on Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, this is a superhero revenge and murder mystery from the folks at upstart publisher Comixtribe. The big guys in superhero comics like to borrow liberally from the great stories of western culture and act like it’s theirs, and here Tyler James and Cesar Feliciano do the same only these guys believe in their work enough to site their influences openly and know that RED TEN still stands up on it’s own. Basically self published, put together because they care and believe the story is good and matters, and fought and hustled all the way on to comic shop shelves, this book is nothing if not a product of pure passion. Reward the creators who are fighting hard to get their stories out there for you. Pick up RED TEN and let them know that you appreciate it. RIYL: Whodunnit style superhero mysteries like BATMAN: HUSH, high stakes superhero events like SECRET WARS, or fans of BATTLE ROYALE style mayhem.

Country Ass Whuppin Tornado Relief One ShotCOUNTRY ASS-WHUPPIN’ is an awesomely named new anthology from the usually quite good folks at 12-Gauge Comics. This single issue is full of a variety of weird and fun tales by some of the better southern gentlemen & lady creators in comics. Jason Aaron (SCALPED, WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN, THE HULK), Cully Hamner (R.E.D., DETECTIVE COMICS, GREEN LANTERN), Rebekah Isaacs (ANGEL & FAITH, DV8, HACK/SLASH), and a bunch more all throw down solid stories. Best part of the whole thing? Proceeds are donated to the Red Cross tornado relief fund. You get good comics by great creators and help people in the process. It is quite possible if that doesn’t interest you that you may be a bad person. Think about it. RIYL: DARK HORSE PRESENTS, the Vertigo anthology books, helping people in need.

And that’s it for me. I am sure there is a lot of other good stuff worth grabbing this week, just make sure you get something. Happy new year. Love, GGCTWBCYDRT

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The Weekly Pulse – Apparellax View

Comics and t-shirts! T-shirts and comics! DC has a new Batgirl, Batman and Robin, Batman, and Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E., plus the collected Batman Volume 1: The Court of Owls.

Also, a slew of new #1s, including Dark Horse’s Alabastar Wolves, Boom’s Higher Earth, Image’s Mind the Gap, and DC Vertiogo’s Mystery in Space!

All that, and a visit from a special guest! Check it out, Forbiddenites!

Henry and Glenn Forever and Ever

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Vertigo Resurrected Jonny Double #1

Hey all you 100 Bullets fans!!!

Make sure to grab a copy of Vertigo’s classic Jonny Double.

In a story by the creators of 100 Bullets (Brian Azarello, Eduardo Risso) San Francisco P.I. Jonny Double is hired to watch over a rich man’s rebellious daughter. But after being seduced by the girl, Jonny finds himself mixed up in a scheme to plunder an old bank account that belonged to Al Capone.

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Department of Redundancy Dept

Three DC books out this week can sum up where the comic book industry started, where it went and where it is going. To whit: Justice League of America #58, Brightest Day Aftermath #1 of 3, and Flashpoint: Kid Flash #1 of 3.

Superhero comics became the driving genre because they were amazingly ungrounded power plays starring glorious yet identifiable gods and goddesses.  Justice League of America #58 has a bunch of highly attractive lads and lasses in skin-tight costumes fighting celestial powers to save the entire universe. Dang! That sure beats reading about Prince Valiant or Mary Worth, now doesn’t it?

Every party has a pooper, and the Silver/Golden age of comics had a big one: repetition. It’s hard to evoke suspense about saving the Universe when you know the comic is solicited for monthly books from now till kingdom come. I think Superman is going to save the day…without a Universe what will they put in the next issue?

Enter Alan Moore, the genius behind Watchmen who figured out that the enemy within is always more compelling than the enemy without, and that truth is ALWAYS stranger than fiction. Continue reading

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Y THE LAST MAN FAN FILM

Check out this fan film for Vertigo’s wildly popular comic series Y the Last Man.

This is a fan film adaptation of the Vertigo Comic Book series “Y The Last Man.” The film was shot in spring of 2010 on a Canon 7d for less than $1,000.

For more info check out www.ryanolearyfilms.com

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Flex Mentallo to Return in Hardcover

It’s official! DC Vertigo is finally set to to reprint FLEX MENTALLO, one of the greatest comic miniseries ever, in deluxe hardcover format later this year.

Long held back due to legal wrangling with Charles Atlas Ltd. DC has boldly announced Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s masterpiece will finally get the ISBN treatment after nearly a decade and a half of anticipation.

Much discussed in the recent Morrison documentary Talking with Gods (which is back in stock, by the way), Flex Mentallo is one of the writer’s most personal (albeit trippy and bizarre) works, and showcases some of the best storytelling Quitely’s ever produced.  It truly is one of the most astounding/outstanding collaborative efforts you’ll find in contemporary comics.

This is especially fantastic news for me as I’m wary of lending out my copies of the four-issue series any longer.  In fact, in light of the news I’m now putting a moratorium on such sharing; one of these days they were bound to not make their way back to me and there are few comics I cherish as much.

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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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New Comics from a New Venue

The good news is I’m no longer being held prisoner by Mermen. The bad news is I’m now being held prisoner by Magma Monsters.

See, I started tunneling out of my barnacled cell using a spoon from the Titanic they gave me for my “Disgusting human digestion” as they called it, only to discover what I had forgotten: tunneling down from the bottom of the ocean only brings you close to the molten core of the Earth, and the horribly jabbering magma-men and women who dwell in the lava caves therein.

YES, I’m stuck in a stalag made of ACTUAL stalagmites and stalactites, but have no fear. I’ve seen the wonderful cinematic masterpiece “2012”. I know it will only be a few short years before the surface of the Earth crumbles like an orange peal and all prisoners beneath the rocky mantle shall be released.

DC

Kudos to DC this week for putting out some decent stories with interesting artists, most notably Batman and Robin #15, Brightest Day #12, and the DC Halloween Special #1 2010. Probably the DC book I’m most excited about is the Vertigo Resurrected #1, a reprint issue re-releasing rare Vertigo material from Brian Azzarello, Warren Ellis, Jim Lee and more!

And what’s going on over at the increasingly misnamed “House of Ideas?” The silver lining is new issues of Astonishing X-Men Xenogenesis #4 of 5, Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall #1 and Avengers #6. The touch of gray? Continue reading

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