Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Royal Jelly: Top picks for October 1st

Cover of Lobo #1
This week appears to be pretty awesome for #1's. A couple new titles which includes the new Thor led by a female (OMG). There's a kick-ass Fiona Staples variant cover which I will be trying my best to pick up granted there are still copies when I get there. There's a new Lobo series! It promises to be blood soaked and shocking so I'm down. It's also an ongoing series which makes me happy.

Speaking of blood soaked there's new horror series in town from Top Cow. It will be delivered in four consecutive weeks through October. Cutter #1 comes out Wednesday and I'm liking the artwork delivered to you by Christian DiBari.

Of course from DC we have the new Gothic Academy which has been getting some decent press over the last week. I'll be lining up for the Becky Cloonan variant cover.

Gothic Academy #1(Becky Cloonan variant)
Death of Wolverine #3
Lobo #1
Names #2
Thor #1 (Fiona Staples variant)
Cutter #1
Fade Out #2
Nightworld #3
Silver Surfer #6

Then we've got some amazing returns. Names written by Peter Milligan (be hearts here) is shooting Fade Out 2 is getting most people excited but I'm a little sad there won't be a whole crazy series done in super magazine format.
out number 2 of the mini-series. That's a big title for me right now with Milligan writing the lead character who is also a bad-ass woman.

Retro pop art awesomeness returns in Nightworld #3! If you haven't checked out this series yet I suggest you order 1,2 and 3 right now because the last installment is next month with only 4 issues in the series.

Of course, I can't forget it's the new story arc of Silver Surfer starting with issue #6! You can read some secrets that Dan Slott told me right HERE.

That's about it for me! Don't forget issue 3 of Death of Wolverine!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Annihilator by Grant Morrison & Frazer Irving

I am really sad that this series is only going to be six issues long. I was really, really happy with this first issue. I've been a Morrison fan for a long while but really haven't read anything recent. I have never really gotten into Animal Man and everyone know how little Marvel and DC I venture into. Thinking back, I'm fairly certain that the last book I read from him was We3 which was outstanding of course. There are certainly no lack of amazing illustrators for Morrison to work with. I think he proves this again with Annihilator and Frazer Irving's work. I haven't ever been a devoted fan of Mr. Irving but was very happy with his work in this book.

Annihilator is about a once great writer who's life has taken a sad turn. He participates in paid orgies, does a lot of drugs, throws money around although he's going broke when really he should be working. He starts to create a new sci fi adventure and that is where things get chaotic. What does man have to say to his creator? I'm not yet certain that's the direction of this story but it's giving me some interesting thoughts.

I was trying to figure out why this Legendary? Compared to other comic book labels, Legendary is only 15 years old having been founded in 2000. Legendary does have a rather interesting history, although short. They have been co-financed by Warner Brothers for films. They have produced 32 in fact and are currently working on another 11 making this whole comic business look like an un-serious side project. It's simply a subsidiary. At any rate, I'm glad they have taste in comics to have printed this gem.

I should probably warn you that this comic is absolutely not for children. Like I mentioned before, drugs, orgies and yes there's some violence in there too. Don't let your kid pick this up even if the cover attracts their attention.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Prophet Strikefile 1

I have never properly gauged the popularity of Image series Prophet. I've been reading it for about two years now. (Let me check my memory hmm... yeah that sounds about right). I actually don't have any friends who read the series although people always comment on the covers and treat the title with some respect in conversations. However I'm mostly certainly alone when discussing the plot with anyone. I really appreciate that they finally did Strikefile. I needed some background and explanation on how the Earth Empire progressed to the present story. Graham and Roy gave me the insight required finally explaining how the Jon clones became and are varied.

This one shot is contributed by many different people but as usually is mainly written by Brandon Graham and Simon Roy who so flawless work together. I find it nearly impossible to separate their writing in the series. I was trying to figure out if this was a one-shot or a new series. It does appear to be a one-shot although no one is calling it that and then I saw that Image has plans to release Strikefile 2. It will continue the who's-who of this strange universe October 22nd.

Saga #23 - Domestic abuse eh?

And now I have to wait a whole other month. It's the only thing that makes me sad about Saga. I just hate the wait. This was an excellent issue. I had a hard time understanding the violence in the last issue. Domestic violence issues always speak loads to me and Vaughan began writing this plot point, like he often does, in areas that some would describe as gray. However I tend to agree more with our winged heroine in that a no tolerance policy is significantly better than making excuses and dismissing bad behavior. It's sometimes means the difference between getting out or getting into the most devastating position.

 It did bother me that Alana's nanny is quick to point out that it was merely Marco throwing vegetables at her, and that she was the one on drugs. In real life such excuses are made when women are injured by their partners. The tables are turned and women are made to feel as if they deserved whatever violence.Although it turns my belly, Vaughan wrote this so accurately that I have to applaud him even though I fear many people who simply side with the nanny and miss the larger conversation.

I feel that this was the main climax in the overall Saga story. This issue has brought many things to motion and thrown our characters into some real danger. I can't wait to see where it goes. I keep worrying about the purple bat girl and wondering how Alana is going to get off drugs. The best though, I'll keep to myself for now.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Butterfly #1

Written by Arash Amel, Marguerite Bennett,
Art by Antonio Fuso

Out of all my new releases from this week, I read this one first. It wasn't on my list of things to grab but after flipping through it I decided I really liked the artwork.Although CBR says that this 4 part mini series is produced by Boom Studios, it's actually published by Archaia which was acquired by Boom in Spring 2013. However, Archaia is still present on the cover and so I think it's important to make this distinction. They are different teams of people and the good people of Archaia deserve their recognition.

 Any who, Butterfly is beautifully written. It begins with an ominous atmosphere caused by this very minimalist approach to the script and narration. The deeper you get into the floppy, the more intricate the story becomes. I was drawn to the book because of the art initially however there is one thing that erks me. When you get about half way through the issue there is this strange re-occurring image that appears in the panels. It took me a while to figure out what it was. OMG it's just breath. Literally that was the artists interpretation of breath on cold air. That kinda pissed me off honestly. It bugged me that I had to even think about it. So although I was loving the artwork, this kinda felt annoying to me. It's in more than just these panels but I just took a couple shots.

I am very excited to see the next issue. Despite the whole breath problem which is probably just more my grudge than an actual problem, the story is quite lovely. I've never been a fan of special agent stories or assassins but this is intriguing to me.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Q&A with Nevs Coleman about Graphic Novels for Banned Books Week

So this week is Banned Books Week. This year the theme is Graphic Novels and Comics. I wanted to write an article but instead I decided to bring you someone with far more experience who could be more entertaining than one of my ranty-rants. 

We wanted to bring you a video with all this awesome information but sadly my computer decided to be a complete asshole and I couldn't get the recording to cooperate. Will work on that in the future. So I bring you my friend all the way from London, UK, Nevs Coleman text style.

Q: Nevs, can you start by giving us a little background about you and your experience in the comic book industry?
Nevs: Hello. I started out in comics by annoying the boys at the lovely 30th Century Comics in South London, England for a fair whack of my teenage years by hanging about for days at a time, they recommended me as a steward for the late, lamented UKCAC (A British comic convention that ran from the 80's to the 80's). Not long after that I started work at the...infamous Comic Showcase and I've been around the London Comics Scene in various roles ever since, whether behind the till at Gosh!, Orbital, and most recently 30th Century Comics or writing for Fantasy Advertiser, Comics Forum or Tripwire. 
Also, I have a fine collection of T-Shirts.
Q: Can you give us a little insight into the history of banned graphic novels and comics? Tell us a little about the Comics Code Authority?

Nevs: This is a subject that needs far more expansion than a short interview will allow, but in brief: the first thought of a need for some kind of governing body in comics to look at the material been sold on the racks came after Frederic Wertham's 1948 book 'Seduction Of The Innocent', which was written after Wertham interviewed a number of juvenile delinquents who suggested to him that they'd been led astray to a life of crime by 'Headlight Comics, violent gangster stories and such. After some study, Wertham came to some, er, odd conclusions about the subtext of a number of American comics. Not least of which was his assertion that Batman and Robin were indulging in a gay relationship. He did correctly work out, long before the general public cottoned on to the fact that Wonder Woman was essentially a Vanilla Bondage comic, though. It's fair to say at this point, that a lot of the portrayal of comics Wertham suggested was at the very least misleading and designed to heighten fear in a populace looking for any scapegoat. Nothing changes, does it Amy?
As reasonably as American crowds usually are when reacting to scaremongering, the book and subsequent campaign lead to scenes of book burning across the States until the whole thing was brought to Congress, where a number of comics professionals testified as to whether they thought their publications were harmful to children. Despite a nervous testimony from legendary E.C. Comics publisher Bill Gaines...and this is key here....Congress rejected the notion that Comics were a harmful influence on children. 
I think this is worth repeating, because the comics community has a tendency to shout 'Waahh! It's Wertham all over again! Waaah! whenever the notion of content control comes up and use him as a shorthand for a Boogeyman who wants to take away everyone's comics. 
So, again, Wertham wasn't behind the creation of the Comics Code Authority. The Senate suggested that in order to appease the public's desire for something to be done, some form of governing body be formed to control the content of comics sold on the newsstands. What has to be borne in mind is that Bill Gaines's EC books were outperforming everything else on the stands by a wide margin, and when the 1st draft containing the parameters of the Comics Code was drawn up, that document was essential a hit list to stop Bill being able to publish the books that'd kept him on the top of the pile for years. By demanding that words like 'Crime' and 'Horror' couldn't be used in titles of comics, that was two of his biggest sellers gone in the stroke of a pen. , Comics that didn't conform to the strict guidelines of the CCA weren't sold on the newsstands, which in the 1950's were the only option. This is at least twenty years before the first specialized comic shop, I think.
In case you're wondering, the bodies who made up The Comic Code Authority? Other publishers, including Archie Comics. If you want to suggest that these publishers conspired to use the CCA's power to defang Gaines's ability to sell comics for their own selfish gains, you're clearly some kind of conspiracy nut who believes in Area 51, Black Helicopters and wears tinfoil around his forehead to block the transmissions from The C.I.A. Clearly.
The long and the short of the rest of the story is as the audience for comics grew older and desire for more adult material than The Code would allow came about, it became increasingly irrelevant (especially in light of The Direct Market supplying straight to comic shops, which wasn't regulated by CCA rulings.) and of all people, Stan Lee wrote the 1st non Code issue of Amazing Spider-Man (96, dealing with Harry Osborn's LSD usage. .) After that, it was a matter of time. Frank Miller's Keynote speech at the Diamond Comic Retailers meeting in 1994 is the best summation of the whole torrid business I've seen and in 2011, DC and Archie, the last companies bothering to submit their output for CCA approval stopped caring, rendering it defunct.
Q: What is your favorite banned comic/graphic novel? How did you feel when it was banned?

Nevs: It's a toss up between either:

Brendan McCarthy & Peter Milligan's 'Skin', which is both a calamity and fuck up of such hilarious proportions (At least in terns of how I managed to finally get a copy of the Tundra printing, and I still think Kevin Eastman owes me a fiver considering how bad the binding was on that book.) that I can't go into it here. Apparently Robert Maxwell didn't see the heroic potential in a Thalidomide Skinhead the same way we did  I honestly don't know if it's legally okay to go into the details of why it was censored by The Mirror Group today, so I;ll skip that. It was reprinted in last year's 'The Best Of Milligan & McCarthy from Dark Horse, for those curious.


Alan Moore and Bill Sienkiewicz 's Brought to Light: Thirty Years of Drug Smuggling, Arms Deals, and Covert Action. It's a comic by Alan Moore about the C.I.A's involvement in The Vietnam War, the Iran-Contra affair and it's dealings with Pinochet. It's going to be a bit of a shock to those who aren't very historically minded where America is concerned.  It was printed once by Eclipse Comics. I have wondered if Todd McFarlane owns the rights to it as he bought Eclipse a few years back. Could be wrong. 
Q: Does the fact that a comic book or graphic novel is banned increase its value among collectors? Does it increase it's weight and notoriety in the literary world?

Nevs: Er, Yes, but not really. It isn't so much that the work is desirable in the same way everyone wanted to read 'Howl' or see Lenny Bruce but that a comic being unavailable due to the print run being pulped makes it incredibly scarce. The best example of this being the infamous 'Elseworlds 80 Page Giant' affair from a few years back. I'd like to think everyone going after that book just really wanted to read Kyle Baker's 'SuperBaby in a microwave' story, but sadly, I don't think that was the case. You can get a few quid for the issue of Infinite Crisis where Connor Kent nearly calls SuperBoy-Prime a motherfucker, though.

(Elseworlds 80 PG Giant was reprinted in the Bizarro Comics anthology and then as part of the DC 100 Page Spectacular series, if anyone's interested.) 
Q: How do you feel about censorship in general?

Nevs: Well Amy, you're asking me this on the day Milo Manara's variant covers for Axis have been cancelled. So I might be a bit more venomous than usual on the subject but still, I think it's a terrible, entitled notion that literally makes no sense to me. This is no such thing as an inherently offensive concept. None. It doesn't exist. There is only the perception that an idea is offensive. We aren't Alex in A Clockwork Orange, strapped down, eyes pulled open and forced to take in any number of obscene and disturbing images and sounds constantly. We don't have to take in any of it. We are always free to change the channel, to put down the book, to close the website. Anything beyond that is when we start saying 'I know better than you what you ought to be consuming.' and I reject that notion entirely. There's never been a time when history had been proven to be on the side of the censors, and 9 times out of 10, it's usually a work that says the Disney Lifestyle Status Quo is utter bullshit and that he prefab behavior patterns are nothing to do with reality.

Be it Ice-T's 'Cop Killer', Allen Ginsberg's 'Howl', The Sex Pistols's 'Never Mind The Bollocks' Grant Morrison's De Sade story in The Invisibles or such, all of these things are generally borne out to be right and accurate portrayals of the world. Every time, the would be saviors of our fragile little minds are proven to be wrong and acting in an interest less to do with morality and more inclined by money. What scares me today is that we're seeing a generation that seems incapable of understanding that not everything has to be approved by them. I'm still not sure why Ian Gibson was in the wrong for producing a topless print of Halo Jones, since it's more his character than anyone else's at this point or why Milo Manara needs to resubmit his work to a committee that seems far more vicious and censorious than anything Mary Whitehouse or Tipper Gore could have come up with on their best day.

More worryingly, they seem to be winning. The decision of Marvel to not employ Manara for these covers can probably be down to this constant thought process of 'But I don't approve of this. How dare you publish it?' I'm wondering how Johnny Cash or Nick Cave would have fared if they were new artists producing their same songs today. 

In short, no, I don't like censorship in any of it's forms. People can make decisions about what media gets consumed in their own homes all they like. I don't want them to make those decisions for me. I don't have the sheer....audacity to say to the rest of the world 'No, you cannot watch this thing. It fails my standards.', which is what I think Censorship is, in the end.

Q: Just for fun: Is there ANY graphic novel you think should be banned,for your own selfish reasons or otherwise?

Nevs: Scott Pilgrim. Fuck that cocksucker..

You can hear more from Nevs on his blog:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Royal Jelly: Top Picks for Sept 24th

There is sooo much I want this week. It's absolutely crazy so I had to really narrow down my list.

Nightbreed 5
Empty Man 4
Aliens Fire & STone
Pop 2
Bodies 3
Low 3
Saga 23
Roche Limit 1

Revival vol 4

Before the Incal
The Incal

Firstly, I feel it's important to mention that there will be a second printing release of Fade Out variant cover. Anyone who was flipping out for not getting a copy can rest assure they can get a second printing.

Next I gotta tell you how excited I am to get my hands on some Moebius. Humanoids releases another printing of The Incal & Before the Incal! No graphic novel collection is complete without this. This story is considered the essential science fiction graphic novel written by Jodorowsky and illustrated by Moebius. These two legends combined their imaginations to create a stellar world.

This week is very much an Image and Boom Studios release week for me. The only other singles standing out this week for me are from Darkhorse. They're releasing a new Aliens series Fire and Stone as well as Jason Copland's Pop #2. I had the pleasure of interviewing Jason last week. Check out what he has to say about being Canadian and the release of Pop HERE.

Also from Humanoids comes Bramble! I reviewed this steampunk inspired masterpiece two weeks ago and it's finally coming out in a beautiful hard cover edition! Check out my review HERE.

The long awaited fourth trade paper back of Revival hits the shelves! That means I can get caught up on the series. I got left behind in this one. I started in too late and then went the route of trades because I can't stand not having #1 of a series of floppies.