Friday, December 19, 2014

The Kitchen #2

I guess it's my week for Vertigo items, along with Sandman Overture this week we got the second issue of The Kitchen. Let's get right into it shall we? I loved the shit out of the first issue. I raved about it actually. Told a lot of friends that they were mental to not pick up a copy. The second issue is just as good. I love these women!

There's something about women not taking shit that makes me feel better about myself. Too often people are quick to judge the opinionated, passionate female who can stand up against ridicule and misogynistic scrutiny. They call her a bitch. I get called a bitch. Happened yesterday, it happens a lot actually. Generally just online and no one comes to my defense when it happens. It's easily assumed that they are too fearful of receiving the abuse as well, like two of the ladies in the first issue. It's not often people stand up for a lady who's not scared to defend herself. Where I defend myself with words, the ladies of The Kitchen defend themselves with weapons and sometimes random objects laying around. Like ashtrays...

This book may end up being labeled as a pro-feminist book but does having strong, realistic female characters in a story really make it feminist writing? It's strange to me how one book can be labeled feminist while another is not. A book that is written by a woman and containing female characters doesn't automatically qualify as feminist literature. A lot of critics have made this mistake and in their haste to declare something "girl power of the year" they have neglected to notice that the story is completely devoid of feminist issues. (Ollie Masters, author of The Kitchen is a man but I'm referring to some recent activity about some other series this month) We shouldn't have to label books that contain positive female roles feminist simply because we don't see enough of them. That's almost offensive. When will it be the norm to have real female characters? Ones that don't serve merely as plot devices and things for the male characters to have sex with?

Due to the fact that this story takes place in a time when women were only just finding their place in the workforce and the world, this story is much more fitting of the title "feminist" literature than a lot of things receiving the title lately. That's not to say that some books receiving the title are not pro-woman but that they are mislabeled as feminist because they center around female characters. They contain no real content that addresses feminist ideology. It's a great time in comics. More and more women are creators! This is amazing! To be sure, they've been there all along, it's just that most people haven't acknowledged them until recently. Yet critics should realize that their work isn't automatically feminist in nature. So stop calling everything feminist when you clearly have no idea what a feminist even is! (still talking to the critics/journalists/bloggers) And if you were confused about what a feminist looks and sounds like, it looks and sounds like me. I'm a feminist.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sandman Overture #4 *SPOILERS*

This issue is suppose to see Morpheus facing his greatest foe! There's not real battle as you would image. There aren't swords or lasers, although disintegration people sort of happen.. It's a heated debate of the wits. Defending ones existences by debating the very thing; existence. It doesn't end well for the dream lord's travelling partner, the little girl Hope.  She gets wiped and deleted. This creature isn't simply hell bent on destroying Morpheus and his companions, he wants to wipe the universe. This is the first story ever where the identity of Morpheus' Father (and the father of the Endless) is revealed.

Sandman Overture is intended to be a 6 part mini series. It was also intended to be released bi-monthly but ended up being released on the schedule of  "whenever we got it ready people".

 Of course you probably know that it's on Vertigo (DC) as the title has been since it's creation. I'm shocked at just how few reviews I have found for this book actually. Entertainment Weekly tends to pick up the larger things in comics like anything Gaiman or Millar touches. Even EW didn't bother with it until the day before release. They got an interview with both Gaiman and Williams III (and added some typos, I know I'm a picky lady). There Gaiman admits that he's known who the father of the Endless was for 20 odd years. Which I imagine if he's anything like I am, is meticulous when creating stories even if all the characters are not included in the first go.

It's really very difficult for me to appreciate Morpheus drawn by anyone other than Sam Kieth. I'm a die hard that way. However Williams III's depiction is much more gaunt and true to that Morpheus character than the many more pop-culture-goth-inspired incarnations of the mid 90's. There's also the fact that Williams III's work is beautiful. Drop dead gorgeous. If the Sandman Overture was a person it'd be the guy or girl in high school that everyone wanted to take to the prom- exceptionally beautiful.

I'll leave you with Gainman's comment to EW which is in reference to the artwork for the final issue of Overture:

 "In the script I talked to him a lot about Escher and Steranko, about pop art, about ways of treating the comic as a physical object and about making something more beautiful than anything we had done before.

And then he took all that and went off and did something completely new, completely original, and utterly striking." -Neil Gaiman

That last bit is going to keep me guessing. Can't wait.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Q&A with John Arcudi & James Harren on Rumble!

 Today marks the release of Rumble #1. This new series is brought to you by Image comics and contains the most interesting story of 2014. That's really saying something considering 2014 is almost over and I've read MOST of it. ;) Rumble is exceptional in the field of action-packed, supernatural comics! Combining comedy seamlessly into the fold. 

The cover is what called to me before even reading the press release. Consequently, many of my friends who don't even read comics said they were going to pick up the book based solely on this amazing cover. Many of my friends who are comic book junkies said the same thing. I assured them they wouldn't be disappointed.

I was so happy about the birth of Rumble that I decided to go bother the creators. Both of which are very pleasant people who didn't seem to mind me bothering them! Always nice to not get told that you're annoying and unimportant. (For the record only one person has ever done that in the history of my of trying to cover releases). 

So without further blabbering from me, here's the questions I posed to writer John Arcudi and illustrator James Harren. 

TFQ: This story is so mysterious. I really do feel like the main character of the story who's shocked at the events taking place. I'm just as clueless as he is! How did you come up with this story?

John: Thanks, Amy. This was an idea that’d been kicking around in my head for years, actually. It’s gone through different iterations, but it really only came together (in the way you see it in print) when I started talking to James. As to where it all started, though – long ago I saw this odd drawing that just got me thinking. And thinking. Kinda like the little snowball on a hill, it ended up being something much bigger down the line.

TFQ: How did you come to work with James Harren on this book? I keep thinking it must have been Hellboy: Weird Tales?

John: I stumbled across James’s work years back online and contacted him about working on BPRD related material. We did an “Abe Sapien” series together, and then worked on the BPRD book. After that, it became apparent that to me he was right for a story about a scarecrow warrior god.

TFQ: You've written so much B.P.R.D, how does this story compare to the process of writing that?

John: I’m just trying to tell good stories. I don’t think much about process, really. If I don’t have a good story to tell, I don’t, and if I do, I try to figure out the best way to tell it. I know that’s not what you’re looking for, but what can I tell you? It’s so hard to tell a good story that really, that’s all I can worry about.

TFQ: What inspires you to write these sort of horrific stories and how do you manage to make them so comedic in the process?

John: I don’t know why I do this, honestly. Maybe all the “Frankenstein” movies I saw as a kid – but as to why I sometimes take a comedic approach to them, I sorta feel like I’m continuing a tradition there. I mean, it goes back, and back, and back. “Evil Dead,” old DC “House of Mystery” stories, and John Kendrick Bangs. I love all that stuff and I hope I can somehow produce work that measures up in small way.

Variant Cover by Jamie McKelvie
TFQ: Is the mysterious, sword-wielding creature on the cover really a Scarecrow?

John: Yes… and no. Don’t worry, if you keep reading the book, you’ll have your answer in two months.

TFQ: How far do you see this story going? How many story arcs do you have written so far?

John: I don't have a set number in mind, really. We have one large overarching story to tell, but I haven't sat down and worked out the number of smaller arcs that will translate to. We think it's better to leave that open to a kind of organic process. But we do hope to be around for a good while.

TFQ: James, what mediums did you use to create this book? What sort of process did you use to create the characters? What inspirations and sources did you draw from?

James: For media I used ink and paper. I'm partial to quill, sable brush and microns. As for the process in creating the characters; John had a pretty good idea what he wanted for these guy's personalities. I remember thinking about people in my life that came close or I felt represented them. Bobby's sort of that classic stalled out beta male that we've all come across so much. You'll see more of Del in the next issues and he was probably the easiest to design. Perhaps you'll see why. The scarecrow Rath went through a lot of incarnations. It was tough to strike a balance with him. I'm learning a lot about how to draw these characters as I produce the book. It's really organic. I don't always practice that animation technique where you have complete color character designs that are essentially dragged and dropped into the book. I like the process of growing and changing with them, letting the story change me and ultimately how I draw them. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Bushido TP

I thought a story about Samurai and vampires would be a winning combination but you know... I was wrong. Instead the whole story turned into another one of those "white guy in foreign land wants to be martial arts master..." UGH. He sure showed all those mean Japanese people. I feel kinda sick to my stomach when I read stuff like this. It reminds me of that awful Tom Cruise movie The Last Samurai... only with vampires. It really does feel like white English people appropriating another culture... like we do. Writer Rob Levin doesn't appear to be Japanese. Not that it's necessarily wrong to write stories like this, I just get this twisted feeling in my stomach. It's a thing Hollywood does. It generally sells, but I'm not a fan of it.

In case you were wondering Bushido is a Japanese word that translates literally to mean "way of the warrior". Akuma means "great demon", which they are using to describe the vampires. Originally released as a five part mini series from Top Cow, Images comics has now published this as a collected trade paper. I'm sure this appeals to someone. It really doesn't appeal to me. It was so predictable and the "evil" characters lacked logical responses. Everyone acted as a pawn to drive the story forward for the main character. They didn't feel like characters themselves. They felt like pawns.

I'm trying to understand why anyone would illustrate this script. So I did some digging. Studio Hive is credited with providing the artwork. Who is Studio Hive? It's a studio for hire which was founded by Skan Srisuwan. The studio works in more video games than comics from what I can tell doing some basic research. When you look at the artwork it's easy to make that assumption as well.

I really dislike saying bad things about comics. I hate that I hate this comic. Seriously, it makes me feel bad because I know how much hard work goes into producing them. BUT GOD DAMN I REALLY DON'T LIKE THIS BOOK. 140 pages and I was bored after a quarter of it. If you would like to read this book because you generally disagree with me and don't think there's any sort of cultural appropriation, then you can pick it up this Wednesday at your local comic shop. That's release day folks.

Royal Jelly: Top Picks for Dec 17th

Rumble #1
Manifest Destiny #12
Wytches #3
The Kitchen #2
Sandman Overture #4
Annihilator #4

Dream Logic  (David Mack)

Saga Vol #4

My pull list is a little small this week but everything on it is fantastic! I've been dying to read the next chapter in The Kitchen and it's been months since we've seen a Sandman issue! The sale date was apparently back in July!

From Image we have a fantastic new series called Rumble, the full details of which are just below this post. You can read my full review spoiler free! If by now you haven't picked up Manifest Destiny then you're probably absolutely boring and we shouldn't be friends...  just kidding! But in all seriousness, have you read Manifest Destiny yet? Issue 12 is out this week. It's the most adventurous, silly monster fun out there. I absolutely love it. Go grab the trade and catch up on the series will you! Wytches comes at us with issue #3 which has been slightly delayed, only by a week. I'll be grabbing that one.

Image Comics also releases two trades tomorrow. You can finally get your hands on Krampus! Just in time for Christmas. You can read my exclusive interview with writer Brian Joines RIGHT HERE!

As well for all you trade waiters, Saga Vol 4 is finally hitting the stands. I of course collect the trades and the singles because... "I'm crazy".  I sort of wish that had chosen a different cover for this trade. It wasn't my favorite issue cover.

You may have noticed that I've listed only one hard cover. It's a collection of new original stories from the Dream Logic series by David Mack. Some interesting images in that one for certain. If you are a fan Gaiman at all you'll probably recognize the artwork. There is also a lovely gallery in the book as well as "making of" bit on the Tarot Card set. In my opinion this would make a great xmas gift for the difficult to buy for graphic novel nerd.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Rumble #1

Image comics steadily publishes great comics. Is it any wonder that they have so many titles taking up the bulk of list entitle "Best of 2014"?! I've been checking out other bloggers and comic related news sites "Best of" lists for the New Year. I simply haven't put mine out yet (although constantly thinking and making notes) because I wanted to allow and consider any new comics that happen to appear in the remaining weeks. Rumble is an amazing comics that's illustrated in a way which appeals particularly to me personally. If I had put my Best of list out like everyone else, I wouldn't have got to consider this at all! I think it might be my new personal favorite. Written by John Arcudi who you probably know best from B.P.R.D and Hellboy: Weird Tales, this story is both comedic and strangely remarkably weird..

"Okay, so a scarecrow walks into a bar...and proceeds to wreak havoc across two worlds! After a long absence, Rathraq, Scarecrow Warrior God, is back—and very unhappy. Bad news for his old enemies, yes, but worse news for everybody else! JOHN ARCUDI and JAMES HARREN bring you a modern day action/adventure fantasy thriller where rundown dive bars, undead kitty cats, psycho skinheads, and giant mummies all play a part. It's Louis C.K. meets Robert E. Howard in a David Fincher universe." -
Taken from Image Comics Website

Are you intrigued yet? And to amplify matters, this new ongoing series is illustrated by the talented James Harren who you also probably will recognize due to his work on B.P.R.D. This is the kind of stuff my dreams are made out of. Seriously, I dream about comics all the time. It happens when you read stacks of them daily. I'm just absolutely thrilled that this is ongoing. I really have no idea what this story is going to end up like but I'm going to read all of it. Rumble #1 hits the stands this Wednesday, Dec 17th!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Valiant #1

I grabbed this yesterday of course due to the fact that it was written by Jeff Lemire. Long time fan raising her hand over in this corner. Although most people are more familiar with his work on Animal Man, I know him best from his own works: Sweet Tooth, Essex County, Trillium, The Nobody, Underwater Welder, etc. The list really is quite long. So it's only natural I grab this. Although unfortunately not illustrated by Lemire, Paolo Rivera is exceptional and is the perfect fit for the tone in book.

These floppies come out with a card stock front and back. Much sturdier than your average floppy. Can you call a floppy deluxe? I will. It's deluxe. I believe it's referred to as prestige actually, I'm calling it deluxe. Dare to be different. Please excuse my inner dialogue. I dunno why I let it run rampant all over my reviews.

So the story, that's what you are probably wondering about. It's about a battle that has gone on for centuries between a dark force and the Geomancers. Sadly the Geomancers don't protect themselves. It's up to a lone immortal warrior to ensure their safety. He also hasn't been that successful in the past and every time that the evil takes the life of another Geomancer, a dark age plagues humanity. Eventually the light returns and the cycle repeats itself. In a hyper-technological age, our warrior prepares once again to protect the new Geomancer from destruction. Oh and this time the Geomancer is a woman. So that's kind of interesting right?

As far as first issues go, this one is all set-up. That's not a bad thing. We even get a little insight into the character who is burdened with the role of Geomancer. This is something Lemire is always good at. Letting us know a bit about the inner workings of his characters. I can always trust that I'm going to receive good character background when reading one of his stories. It's like a sure thing for me. This series is intended to be limited to four issues. I wonder what surprises are in store. It can't just be a simple good wins over evil story here.