Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Quantum Teens Are Go! (BLACK MASK STUDIOS)

(W) Magdalene Visaggio, Eryk Donovan (CA) Eryk Donovan

So here's something you might not be expecting. A series that really came out of left field. As in, I wasn't expecting this. Sure, it's impossible to expect anything specifically from BLACK MASK STUDIOS. They keep me on my toes when it comes to original content. Are you ready for this review? You're probably going to get mad.

So I was initially pretty excited to read this book. I liked the covers. Yes that is often how I judge a series. When you get a press release from a publisher it generally only has a couple cover images of the series. Occasionally, you'll get some preview pages but generally it's just the covers so I make a lot of assumptions RIGHT THERE and then I read the synopsis.

The synopsis of QUANTUM TEENS ARE GO is explained in a two pager at the beginning of the book which also gives two creatively written bio's on the creators. At any rate this is what Black Mask Studios had to say:

"Mad science is the punkest s*** there is. Teenage sweethearts Nat & Sumesh spend their nights breaking into abandoned superlabs to steal the parts they need to build a time machine - and they've just found the most important part. But mysterious entities keep trying to stop them turning it on. Now all they've gotta do is hang on long enough to figure out why. Magdalene Visaggio (Kim & Kim) and Eryk Donovan (Memetic) bring you a high-octane adventure full of robots, muscle cars, and queer-a** skater punks."
So I'm reading through the first issue and then I hit my ---first issue with the book. The main character is apparently trans which is great, at least I thought so because hey, diversity in comics is still a thing that needs to be addressed. In my opinion there isn't much diversity in comics at all. Sure we're starting to get characters who are people of color, gay, trans and other marginalized people but they're generally written by white men. At least this has been the current trend with the BIG TWO. I wanna see more diverse characters written by people who actually come from those diverse backgrounds. I wanna see more writers of color in comics, more gay people of comics, more trans people in comics, more women in comics. That to me is true diversity.

Anyway I got a little off track so lets get back to the review shall we? Here's my beef: There is absolutely no reason that the main character being trans in this story even matters. Maybe that's on purpose. Maybe merely throwing in there that she's trans is fine. Yet the way it's thrown in the first issue makes it feel horribly token-esque. It almost made me a little angry. It goes down like this:

There is this awkward exchange between the main character and her mother where he mother gives her some shit for being a rebellious teen. The mother uses her dead name and blames the rebellious behavior on being trans - she's obviously not winning the mom of the year award. Let's be frank here, I'm not saying that the fact that the character is trans is wrong, it's just that this is pretty much the only time it comes up and it's pretty damn stereotypical. I had this discussion with one of my friends the other day about how the focus on trans characters is so blatantly always about transitioning which is basically a very small part of ones life as a trans person. That being said I'm sure there are people out there that want to know a character is trans so they can feel some sort camaraderie with the character yet also not make the fact that someone is trans, the main plot line.

I'm not purposely trying to be nit-picky about how one fights for diversity in comics, but as a journalist I do think that it is within my right to address certain grievances. That's the point of reviews right? I dunno if Mags is a trans woman. It's really none of my business whether she is or not. It's not anyone's business but she does seem passionate about the rights of trans people which is a solid plus.

In fact her twitter is full of retweets making fun of SJW and referring to something off-putting about how trans women can not be lesbians because they don't date other trans women... which I know for a fact is just a sad and erroneous opinion since my ex is a trans woman who identifies as a lesbian and I have trans lesbian friends that are currently in long term relationships with other trans women. Perhaps Mags is retweeting these things to call attention to the silliness. I can only make assumptions and that's not something I like to do because you know what they say about assumptions...

So now that all that stuff, I actually got pretty bored throughout the book. Although I felt the ending of the trade as a whole was very good, I found myself rushing through the book because I wasn't really enjoying it. I didn't find the actual action and events of the story were terribly interesting and perhaps that's because I expected something else in a science fiction type book. I felt the world itself was too close to our current world to incorporate the time machine technology. It just didn't make a lot of sense. I'm generally the last person to have a problem suspending my disbelief but I just didn't there in this book.

That all said, I think it's definitely worth a read and I would like to hear what you thought of this book! 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Interview with RICH TOMMASO on DRY COUNTY (Image Comics)

  Today I'm talking to Comic Book Creator Rich Tommaso on his upcoming Image Comics Series DRY COUNTY out March 14th. You can pre-order using Diamond ID: JAN180605. Don't forget to subscribe to my Youtube channel!

Amazon Wish List

Occasionally people ask me if I have an amazon wishlist because they want to send me books. Well in fact I do but it's never been made public until now. If you are itching to send me books, here's how you can do it. Got a review request? Feel free to send the book my way and I'll review it for YouTube.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

How Boring was SEX CRIMINALS?

So I do this thing from time to time where I completely ignore books that have too much hype. That's what I did Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky's SEX CRIMINALS. When the series initially debuted, I completely ignored it. I saw the hype of course, that was difficult to ignore. I saw the very special amounts of money Image Comics was dedicating to advertising and special edition floppies. I saw rave review after rave review. So here we are 21 issues later and I still haven't read a single issue...

Until the other day I found a copy of the first trade for 5 Canadian dollars at my local comic book shop and said "Okay, let's do this". "DO THIS" I tried.... and failed. I didn't completely finish the first trade. I was so..... BORED! I WAS FUCKING BORED! I sat down looking for a time travelling, sex fueled heist and got a stereotypical take on a teenage girl discovering her body (in a bathtub) written by a dude and a lot of really boring exchange between two people talking about masturbating and sex. By boring I mean, there wasn't one line that made me laugh.

I heard the book was clever and funny. I am the type of person who laughs out loud while reading comedic stories. You can ask my fiance about that one because he makes fun of me on the regular about it. Not once, in fact while laying next to him in bed I slammed the book down and looked over at him and said, "this book is totally overrated". I immediately went on facebook and asked everybody about what they thought of the book and then I picked up volume 1 of Ranma 1/2 and began giggling. Mood improved 100%.

So after a day I got a shitload of replies about SEX CRIMINALS. I wasn't the only one who thought it was boring or mediocre. In fact, a bunch of other comic book Youtubers, reviewers and journalist replied with the same reaction. I had several comic book creators chime in with their two cents agreeing and comic shop owners also confused about how the book gained so much hype. So WHY did it get so popular? My immediate thought is that after the success of Matt Fraction's Hawkeye run  in 2012 (which I really did enjoy btw), apparently Fraction was the golden boy and everything that spun out from under him was a golden egg rather than a golden shit. I think they might have been wrong about this one... I'm really leaning toward a rather mediocre, plain egg. I can't really call the book shit, it's not. It is in my opinion, just so mediocre that if anyone else had conceived it, I believe it would be universally ignored.

But I'm not trying to make a big dig at the writing. I have opinions on the artwork as well. I would have been very happy if the entire book looked like that cover. See that cover I posted at the beginning of this article!? THAT ONE. That cover is brilliant. The inside of the comic, not so much.

I really didn't like the artwork. I tried to envision it without color and thought "Oh there it is. There is Chip doing that thing I've appreciated in him, in the past". But why does this particular book look so awful? I remember looking at the artwork when issue one dropped and my instinct said: NOT THIS BOOK. (I feel like I'm using a lot of capitals in this article which isn't terribly typical of me but lets just go with it shall we?)

So what is it that I don't like about the artwork in this book? The coloring. I am still NOT a huge fan of the way the book is drawn. I've seen Chips work other places and really enjoyed it but not here. I went to the inside cover of the book. I saw two credits, Becka Kinzie and Christopher Sebela (side note: Christopher being a writer I've enjoyed many books from in the past) are credited with Color Flatting. That doesn't really explain the issue here.

Flatting, if you're unfamiliar, is a job to speed up the coloring process by separating the elements on the pages into colors. The colorist can then select those colors with the Magic Wand Tool in Photoshop to quickly change and edit the colors. This suggests of course that Chip colored the book himself. So another strike against Chip I guess. Damn, I love supporting Canadian Comic Artists but damn. I've never had a fondness for the Photoshop look  anyway, which is screaming from the pages of this book. If only this book was colored in a moebie-esque pallet but not everything can look so lovely.

So I attempted to do a bit of research about this series and all I could really find was a lot of rave reviews from comic book media sites and a lot of mediocre reviews from actual readers on Amazon and some bizarrely 4 star rated reviews that were actually just full of criticism.

Yes I did find a couple pleased people and of course, people are more likely to write a review about a book if they had an extreme reaction to it one way or the other. I wouldn't normally post other peoples reviews in a way to back up my own but I really find this interesting. For an Image series, I normally don't see this sort of anomaly which leads me to wonder...why is Image backing this series so hard? Yes I realize that favoritism happens at the publishers house, but without an insider view I can't accuse them of blind favoritism. I don't see the sales stats so I can't see how well the book is selling. It could be selling very well and therefore Image sees fit to back the series harder. 

At any rate the series continues to be published leaving many of us apparently, very confused. I dunno know about you but I'm going to go read some more comedic manga.