Tagged: Blankets

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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Rosie Psalm

Did you get some really cool comic books for free on Free Comic Books Day? Good! BECAUSE I GOT ARRESTED FOR PUBLIC NUDITY IN A CHURCH!

It’s all a big, stupid misunderstanding. There were these guys who were saying that Brandon Graham’s King City wasn’t one of the best graphic novels in the past five years, and I took great umbrage with that statement as I believe the antithesis. Go read that sentence back if you don’t believe me. NOW believe this: Brandon Graham’s King City is NOT ONLY one of the best graphic novels of the past five years, it’s also ONLY $19.99 for over 400 pages of pure comics dynamite!

KING CITY


There’s this guy with a magic cat trying to either win back his ex-girlfriend or stop the hell-beast of the Apocalypse from destroying the eponymous, sprawling, insane city he calls home. He’s on the fence because he can’t really figure out if he still loves this girl, or if it’s just his love of nostalgia, OR if this hell-beast thing could blow over without him getting involved because, really, he should probably be helping his luchador roommate rescue a water alien before she’s thrown into intergalactic sex-slavery by mobsters.

THAT is essentially the plot to King City as I loudly explained it to the two gentlemen in question right after they said that King City could “Eat it.” Now that I think about it, they may have been saying “Take this, all of you, and eat it, this is the blood of my body.” I did so many whip-its that day, it’s hard to remember. As I walked up the aisle of the bar to explain further, I rolled up my sleeves anticipating trouble, as well as taking off my shoes so I had a place to keep my glasses safe. I took my sock off so I had something to protect my other sock in, and I took my pants off to keep my socks company. It was only once I was PARTIALLY naked that I realized I wasn’t in a bar, but a church.

“Didn’t I hear you two guys about five minutes ago reading the new Image comic, Prophet?” I slurred. “EVERYBODY knows that this new Prophet reboot is amazing, and it’s drawn by Brandon Graham, too! LOOK at the difference in art styles! Graham has such a versatile pen that Prophet is the best looking sci-fi comic since Moebius, but King City is all in a fluid, funky cartoon/graphiti style…almost like Crumb drawing the Muppets!”

Now this smarmy SOB tried to take it all back, saying he was talking about “The Lord, our Prophet,” and not Image’s Prophet at all. Pfff. Like THAT’S a comic book at all.

By this time these two yutzes up at the roster where getting really pushy, and I noticed a crowd had gathered in the pews to watch the fight. First they just chased me, grabbing my shirt to try and pin me to the floor, but I escaped by wriggling out of what clothes I had left. HA! Grab THAT, Mr. Funny-Hat. Continue reading

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New Year’s Read Solutions

Welcome to the Weekly Planet, Forbidden Planet’s in-shop (and online) newsletter! The Planet is always jam-packed with fun recommendations and product highlights, and this week WOULD be no exception t’were it not New Years Week.

New Years isn’t a time for regrets, and that’s why New Years resolutions should be made in the interest of looking forward, not back! But, “Boo-hOO! I didn’t try hard enough last year!” I hear you *SOB* into your Adventure Time pillow. “I drank too much! I didn’t learn to speak Spanish like I promised myself I would. I wrapped plastic wrap around my face and wore a Tri-cornered hat, using a mop handle for a pegleg and ran around in the window displays at Bloomingdales screaming that I was the Ghost of Peter Stuyvesant!”

Here’s a New Years Resolution for you, Weepy: I, Unkiedev promise not to give two fig-newtons about yer dang cry-baby problems and antics in the new year.

INSTEAD I have a mutually beneficial plan to make resolutions that we’ll ALL profit from. Let’s resolve to read a new Graphic novel each month, ESPECIALLY books we haven’t read before.

Let’s get some serious GN out of the way.

Blankets, Craig Thompson (W/A), Top Shelf

The best coming of age graphic novel of all time. If you haven’t read it, you should. Thought provoking, sad, beautiful, haunting, and wonderfully drawn.

MAUS, Art Spiegelman, Pantheon

This is comics’ finest moment. Transcending the medium as no comic had before, Maus stands alone as a touching work of art. THINK about all of the films, poetry, and literature spun out of the tragedy of the Holocaust and MAUS is the stand out work on understanding living-survivors grief, loss, and trauma.

Many folks haven’t read this, and I understand why. It’s a doozy. We turn to comics as an escape from realism, and rarely for unique looks at historical tragedy. Spiegelman knows this. His anthropomorphic characters humanize while they make the material digestible. Continue reading

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The Thompson’s Twins

This column was going to be a huge review of Craig Thompson’s 2003 graphic novel Blankets…but there’s too many awesome comic books out this week!

For those who like titles about real life, beauty, sadness, growing-up, regret, religion, self-fulfillment, family, guilt, anger, shame, love, redemption, the redeemer, and the redeemed then here’s your review: Go Buy It.

If’n you don’t care about that stuff? You know what? YOU go buy it, too. It’s a Harvey and Eisner winner, it was picked as one of Time Magazine’s top 100 NOVELS of all time, giving it the same cache’ as a little title you might have heard of called Watchmen. It’s challenging, it’s haunting, it is a pure work of art. Continue reading

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