Friday, January 30, 2015

Meka by JD Morvan & Bengal

I thought I would do something a little different today and post a book that was released in North America a few months back. This just happens to be another book by one of my favorite illustrators Bengal. If you've read this blog before at all, you've heard me go on and on about his work. Books like Naja and Luminae live in a world that is very much like how my dreams look.

Meka is a futuristic struggle between a corporal and her superior as they attempt to retreat from civilian territory. They encounter hostility and violence as they try to leave the scene of a massive explosion caused accidentally by their own equipment. The locals are abusive and moved to violence despite the fact that the military's presence is required to defend against alien invaders.

A vast range of emotions are experienced by the two soldiers as they push through the hostile territory of those they are sworn to protect. So many stories focus on soldiers as plot devices and cannon fodder without ever giving you much insight into the individuals themselves. Writer JD Morvan  is gives you an intensely close look at two soldiers. You see how training can alter behavior and opinions of some while others maintain their convictions regardless. I really enjoyed the moral struggles between the two soldiers and this is what ultimately makes the story.

Meka was released by Magnetic Press for distribution September 2014 for the first time in English. It's no secret that Bengal is one of my favorite artists. With sprawling urban settings turned battlefield, Meka shows a side of Bengal's artwork you have not been previously able to experience.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Wolverines #4

I know, why am I reading this?? Even this fourth issue is written by Fawkes who I think we all know I've been pretty unhappy with across all labels. From his vaguely illustrated Intersect on Image which who's impression was made even more vague by the script accompanying it, to his work on DC with Constantine and Futures End, I've been severely unhappy with him. Matter of fact, the only things he's put out in the last year that I even remotely liked was his more independently released book The People Inside. Fawkes aside, lets talk about the appearance of new character Fantomelle.

Fantomelle joins the Wolverines as a fellow escape of Paradise where she was created to be the perfect thief. She is now caught in the fold, with her little psychic fox (yes that's right, psychic fox), to help recover Wolverines' body from Sinister and maybe even save the lives of the rapidly declining Weapon X escapees. There you have it that's the plot. Now I wanted to talk about this Fantomelle character. See, I'm not overly impressed. For one, the fox is super cute but um... why is it a fox? On top of being gimicky, what does the fox say? Well it says a who lot of super intelligent non-fox things but only to Fantomelle. Why the hell would someone telepathically link anyone else to a fox? Why not something a bit more sneaky? Like a rat ? OOo, suddenly I want someone to link me to a giraffe... maybe then I can truly understand what it's like to be tall!

Fantomelle actually showed in the issue #3 while trying to acquire The Punisher's t-shirt for a specific client. It was fairly interesting...mostly because I like The Punisher. It was a quarky issue, better than issue #4 but I guess I'm bias. It's just that, not a whole lot happens in issue #4. It's a lot of set up and of course, Fawkes' usual vague allusions.

I wish Nick Bradshaw was still illustrating this but you know, the world is imperfect.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

They're Not Like Us #2

Man, I still don't know how I feel about this story. On one hand, I love the artwork. It's sooo down to earth, indie-tastic and well timed. The story however seems to rehashed to me. It really does feel like Professor Xavier's School for the criminally gifted rather than just gifted. We are talking some serious vigilante justice and it doesn't appear that their form of justice is even... well it doesn't fall under the category of justice. These people look like low-lives so far and the main character doesn't disagree. Yet, Simon Gane's art is so awesome that I don't want to stop reading it despite how I dislike the whiny main character and I'm not all for the plot. It's kinda boring and pretentious. I also can't tell if the writer is pretentious or if he's just trying to make all the characters appear that way.

One of the only characters I like in the book is a complete ass known as The Voice. Brian K. Vaughan's Saga has a pretty broad reach and appears to have left a little influence here. Characters like The Will and The Stalk have perhaps influenced a new wave of character titles. The Voice, is the dictator of the superhuman group in They're Not Like Us. He's kind of arrogant prick really who believes in retribution and revenge. Lots of other colorful "R" words. He's the actually the one I hate the least because he fully admits he's a jackass. I can sort of respect that... in a way.

I can't decide how far I should take this series. How deep into it should I bother to read? I think I'll give it a full story arc but I just hope it goes somewhere new and exciting. Issue two officially hits the stands today! If you're in London for instance, you may be staring at it on comic book display in store right now...

Exclusive Interview with Ryan Bodenheim on The Dying and The Dead

Image is known for great new series and The Dying and The Dead is no exception. It hits the shelves running today with a whopping 60 page debut issue!  New York Times Best Selling author Jonathan Hickman pulls us into a world of science fiction mystery where a man must make a decision on what he is willing to do to save his dying wife. This issue will take you places you've never been and Ryan Bodenheim is the one leading the way. I got the chance to ask him a few questions for you (and for me of course). 

TFQ: How did this project get started? How does it differ from the stories you've done in the past?

It started at Heroes Con over either dinner or lunch with Jon and we just started talking about what we wanted to do next, and then many, many hours on the phone going over story and characters. This book differs from my past work only in the sense that I feel like I know what I'm doing now. Working on this book has made me look back on books like Red Mass and Secret and I just see them as warm-up swings in comparison to what Jon and I are doing now.

TFQ: What is your process for character design?

Ryan: My process for most of my character designs involve questions, constantly asking questions. Questions about who the characters are, where are they from, who are the people they love, what drives them in life. I just keep asking myself questions and usually the answers provide the design right down to what kind of shoes they wear. I find doing it this way means I can find the look of the character much more efficiently than if I just sat down and started drawing multiple versions of the same character. The nice thing about working with Jon is he will always let me know if I didn't get it right.

TFQ: The vast cityscapes really sucked me into this world. Some of the mountain rages reminded me very much of Moebius. What was your inspiration for the look of the land and the architecture of the city?

I've always looked at backgrounds and settings as another character in the scene and another opportunity to tell more story. Jonathan told me once that out of everyone he ever worked with I ask about settings and locations more than anyone else, even when he describes a setting or scene with a ton of detail I always have more questions. The "City" was really more just a mix of Jon's ideas and then me running with it and trying to make it feel like a real place that people lived in. The city plays a big part in the story and especially in the first issue because it's the moment where the reader will realize what the scope of The Dying & The Dead will be.

TFQ: The first issue is very large, nearly 60 pages. Is there an added challenge to putting out such a large initial issue?

Ryan: It's a challenge in the sense that it's basically 3 issues worth of art and labor, but it's also a very liberating way of making a comic because we can let scenes breath if they need to and not worry about a page count and I think it ends up being much more satisfying for the reader as well.     

The Dying and The Dead is AVAILABLE TODAY at your local comic book retailer!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Exclusive Interview with Nicole Virella on Return of the Living Deadpool

The Return of the Living Deadpool is imminent on February 4th with a new four part limited series written by Cullen Bunn. Marvel welcomes the talent of Nicole Virella as illustrator for this series. I really loved the preview pictures Marvel released in anticipation for this series. I was able to ask Nicole about the series!

TFQ: How did you get involved with Return of the Living Deadpool?

Nicole: Jordan D. White, the current Deadpool editor, contacted me after a colleague of his showed him some samples of my work. That is how I got to work with writer, Cullen Bunn on this amazing series!

TFQ: How does the experience of working on "superhero" titles compare to some of the other illustration work you've done in the past?

Nicole: Well, this is the first comic project I've worked on that involves me penciling, inking, and coloring. It's great having that kind of control over my work, but it also means that I have to adhere to a much tighter schedule. But I don't think working on superhero or adventure titles differ from any other project I work on. I'm a storyteller; everything I do tells a story and I try to communicate that the best way I can.

TFQ: What can we expect from Return of the Living Deadpool? Any show stoppers or hints you can give us about the story?

Nicole: The story sort of picks up from where the last series left off. In the first issue, Deadpool befriends a teenage girl named Liz and they get into and out of all kinds of trouble throughout the four issues. Think The Professional meets The Last of Us. Also there are a ton of really cool looking Deadpools I got to design, which I hope people dig!

TFQ: There's a lot about your character design that reminded me personally of Paul Pope. For instance when I saw your work on Enslaved: Birthright. What artists do you draw inspiration from (if any) ?

Nicole: Thank you, that is extremely kind because Paul's work is amazing. It's funny, everyone seems to be drawn to that particular piece of mine. Those original characters are from Enslaved: Birthright, a fanfic my friend, Em Dash, wrote based on the videogame Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. The game's ending was left open-ended and sadly there won't be a sequel, which is what led us to create our subsequent fan pieces. Personally I'm inspired by a variety of artists, but as far as comics are concerned, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez is my favorite. He is a master storyteller and draftsman with such a keen sense of drama and emotion. I had the pleasure of meeting him two years ago at New York Comic Con and he was so lovely and encouraging, which meant a lot to me.

TFQ: Much of your work looks whimsical and based in fantasy. Truly beautiful. What are some of the kind of projects you would like to work on in the future?

Nicole: In the future, I want to get back into painting, specifically watercolor, which I was doing for a while and of course, work on more comic projects and maybe even do some concept work for a game company.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Colder: Bad Seed #4

OH MY GOD! You know I thought the first two issue had amazing creatures and horrific slaying of fingers... but no. This issue wins. WAY better creatures and superior finger amputation! I love me some creatures. Demons rock my world... well my comic world. Obviously I don't believe in demons... (or at least you can't make me admit that). Many of my all time favorite comics are based around demons and the world that hides behind our own. In the first two issues of Bad Seed, Declan must enter the world of demons and no it's not called Hell here, it's the hungry world. The demons in this world look awesome! It almost fits appropriately in the bodygore category.

Horror in comics is pretty everywhere right now. Darkhorse has always done horror best for me. They always license the best manga, and their books are so damn deluxe. I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't read the first Colder story arc. A mistake I wish to correct asap. 

Paul Tobin, also known for Bandette, is an Eisner Award winner and it really shows because he's crafted such a consuming tale. It'll get your phalanges waving! I am really hoping that this Colder series continues. I want more after this arc. I'll petition for it ! Or maybe just complain loudly if another series isn't produced in the new year. For now, we're in luck, Issue five will be in stores February 25th. However you can grab THIS issue on Wednesday!

When you think of amazing horror, what is that pops into your mind? Comics only. Don't start talking about movies to me :P

Royal Jelly: Jan 28

Colder Badseed #4
Multiversity Guidebook
Arkham Manor #4
Bodies #7
Dying and the Dead #1
Rasputin #4
They're Not Like Us #2
Bitch Planet #2
Spiderman and the X-men #2
Thor #4
Wolverines #4
Uncanny Avengers #1

Eye of Newt Hardcover

Mentionables: Alex and Ada #12

It's a good week! This week there are actually a few DC titles for me. The Multiversity Guide book comes out and I've been pretty pumped for this. I really hope it fills in some holes for me. On top of that we've got the 4th issue of Arkham Manor. I really like this Batman story and illustrator Shawn Crystal! From Vertigo we have Bodies which is nearly coming to a close with only one more issue to follow next month. Will we get to learn whose body is travelling through time and space?

I'm actually going to grab some Marvel this week as well. With the impending ending to the current Marvel Universe  (and Ultimate Universe), I still haven't completely decided if I'm going to be grabbing the new Uncanny Avengers title but if you're a huge Avengers fan it should be on your radar. This picks of from the ashes of AXIS and written by the great Rick Remender, who I actually like. I'm actually kinda happy that Marvel decided not to employ Charles Soule and Ray Fawkes for this one. I was starting to feel like their hands were in every story.

Last year legendary fantasy illustrator Michael Hague released his first graphic novel as a four part mini series from Darkhorse. This week you can get the series collected in a beautiful hard cover edition. Darkhorse really knows how to put out a hardcover. This is really a beautiful fabric bound book.

Of course, this is a great week for Image. I'm a huge fan of Riley Rossmo and his Rasputin series is EPIC. It's dark and beautiful. A very haunting reflection on the life of Rasputin, spun into a fictional story fitting of such legend. I look forward to it's release every month!