Friday, October 31, 2014

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang

I was excited to read this story because the artwork is so adorably beautiful and it's about gaming. There's a nice little thought from Felicia Day across the top of the cover (you might remember her as star and writer of the hit series The Guild).

I've read some of Cory Doctorow's work previously and now that I've read this I'm wondering if Doctorow can write about anything other than Gold Farming. That's what this story is about although he's got a little intro in the beginning of the book to explain to you what the story is actually about. It's about GOLD FARMING and sure, yeah economics, yeah.

The plot begins with a young teenage girl Ada, who was never really into online games, plays D&D with her friends at school and that's about it. One day their class has a guest speaker who works on this online game and offers the best kids a place on her elite guild. I don't really get this part... and it actually stuck me as sort of creepy that an adult would do something like that, but sure... after school program or something? Anyway, Ada convinces her mom to purchase some online gaming time in this particular platform called Coarsegold. Doctorow even explains responsibly in the script how to do this: by asking you mom with sugar, sugar and cherries on top if she would please put the subscription amount on her credit card and accept cash to pay for it. We are now reminded of who the intended audience of this book is.

This brings me to an interesting point actually, do authors believe that since they are pandering to a new audience that they can simply recycle plots and ideas? As in, normally someone who writes novels, or scripts moving into the world of comics and graphic novels, re-writing stories with different characters and targeting a specific gender? Doctorow sought out the female audience here and even tries to type in the stereotypical handsome face at the end of the story with a royal fancy GALA! Ada's warrior self is in a fancy dress being asked by a "handsome man dressed in white" to dance. It ends like a Disney movie with dancing, celebration, a prince and princess. Even worse is that you read the whole thing thinking that Ada is a kick ass character fighting for equality and justice, in her game (and the world), only to be led down the path to this rather rudimentary conclusion. I felt ripped off after I reached the ending. I  was kinda pissed.

One major redeeming quality of this book is Jen Wang's charming artwork. She manages to show Ada as she is in real life, an average a girl with an average frame and then this avatar. The avatar created by Ada is slim and idealistic as is generally the case with games. Her coloring is so lovely and it really is completely uncontroversial while appealing to readers of different age groups.

End of day, I think the story feels mostly condescending despite trying to talk about how not everyone has healthcare in the world, and address workers rights (as did his novel For the Win). The way it's directed at girls and women, and the ending... it does feel like a let down. Thankfully Wang is able to make beautiful panels throughout that can help us see past this plot failures.

Saga #24 *SPOILERS*

Finally! I was dying to see what was happening with The Will and his crew. His crew has basically ended up as Gwendolyn's (Marko's former fiance) and her crew now that The Will resides in a 24 hour care facility as a "zucchini" (that's a vegetable). It's about bloody time we saw what was going on with these guys.

There were some great panels in this issue. Mainly a stab at a would-be rapist and pedophile alien who was apparently guarding a secret that could help The Will out of his useless state. This all takes place in the first few pages. I read a horrible review on saying "Staples’ opening pages have developed a reputation for being impactful." Um.. well if you mean that it's full of impact then yeah I agree but you can't be impactful. You can't be impactful because impactful is not a fucking word. ARGH. I read this argument that it's not a word in most dictionaries because most modern dictionaries have no caught up to the creativity of modern speakers. BULLSHIT. It doesn't even roll off the tongue properly. It sounds like shit... anyway... back to Fiona Staples...

I wouldn't say she's known to shock. I would say that Brian K. Vaughan is known for his use of a sort of "misdirection" in his writing. He skillfully draws ones attention in and you think that the story is going there but then BAM! He throw in a good witty line to throw everything for a loop. Appropriately he pans away to another piece of the story. He's done this through Saga many, many times. He's done it in Ex Machina, Y The Last Man, and basically everything he's written. He's famous for leaving you wanting more desperately at the end of every issue.  Staples? She makes it real. She brings it all to life. Let me be clear, I'm not trying to downplay her role as the artist of this story. I just disagree with this awful review on I feel as though a lot of people reviewing Staples work are actually quite ignorant of the work she's done BESIDES Saga. The reviewer from should really go back and refresh himself with her work...

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Q&A with Marguerite Sauvage: Wonder Woman & Hinterkind

I was chatting with the amazing Alison Sampson on facebook after she posted this amazing artwork. It wasn't her own though. It was the cover of Hinterkind #11 and it blew me away. She tagged me saying "Amy, you gotta interview Marguerite" and of course she was right. This woman has amazing work. On top of that she had just finished an amazing piece for Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #3 (now available at comic book store near you). That absolutely through me for a loop. It's this powerful piece which included all kinds of relevant issues that women everywhere deal with on a daily basis. Slut-shaming, street harassment, etc. It details articulate, assertive Diana dealing with these situations. It's progressive and it's beautiful. So I asked the wonderful Marguerite what it was like to work on this and her other works. Here's the interview:
FQ: Hinterkind #12, has to be the most beautiful cover I've seen for the series yet and that's saying something because all those covers are epic. How did you get involved in the Hinterkind project?

Marguerite: First of all thank you so much, I'm happy you love the covers for Hinterkind ! How I got contacted was kind of a huge and delightful surprise. It was via Twitter by Vertigo's editors Will Dennis and Greg Lockard to relay the great Greg Tocchini that used to work on Hinterkind covers before me. The thing was at this time I was a beginner on Twitter so it was totally mind blowing to get feedback so quickly. I fell in love with the series when Will and Greg presented it through the previous issues, and so happy to work for Vertigo ! So that's how the adventure has begun.

FQ: I feel as though drawing major characters must be a little exciting and nerve wracking at

the same time. How can you describe your experience drawing Wonder Woman? Were there any challenges?
Marguerite: Yes, exciting and nerve wracking are the terms. When I got the e-mail from DC with the title « Want to draw a Wonder Woman story ? » I was unable to stay quiet. « Is it for real ? » was my first thought. With then after a huge shot of happiness and excitement ! It was a enormous challenge, my really first professional sequential work since I stopped fanzining as a teen and on one of my favorite character, so you can imagine! I had to learn everything : how to have efficient and dynamic layouts, how to have an interesting inking process, how to keep a graphic composition in each pages through color choices, etc...And how to draw Diana on stage as a Rock Star !

FQ: In Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #3, there are some pretty big important moments where Wonder Woman is asserting herself in a fashion that all women have felt the need to do so. Wonder Woman shows a new generation of women how to handle criticism on their fashion choices and even how to deal with street harassment and cat calling.  What was it like to draw something important like this? What are your thoughts on these topics?

Marguerite: It was a total resonance with my own life, of course. First I'm a woman, second I lived in Paris 15 years. Street harassment, insults, touching and cat callings are young women everyday struggle in the city of « romance » (Paris has a lot of qualities but not on this subject). As a woman you get « used » to it, no choice, but you develop strategies that are unnatural, and even unconscious, like not wearing skirts, avoiding some part of the city, etc. So you do as much as you can to avoid being verbally or physically attacked in the public space, which is definitely not the same for men or for women. Street harassment is not good for men as well, a lot of boys or men are totally upset by the behaviors of this minority of stalkers that deepen the moat between men and women. 
So, then after these 15 years, I moved to live 2 years in Sydney, Australia, and then to MontrĂ©al, these cities there is NO street harassment. It's like living again ! That's the way public space should be in a modern and civilized society. Why do they succeed and not us ? So I was very happy to work on this subject through comics, through a model character like Wonder Woman and through a story written by Sean E Williams, who is...a man !

FQ: What's in store for your future? What projects are you going to be working on and my favorite question to ask people is : What projects would you most like to work on?

Marguerite: I hope I will have more covers and shorts or one-shots to work on ! There's some that will be published in the upcoming months and I will communicate on my blog and on the social medias about it. I'm always amazed when I get new job offers. I'll be happy to keep on working on strong female characters and/or super heroines, sci-fi and thriller, or for a teenaged audience. So anything with a good story, I think that's the point !

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Royal Jelly: Top Picks for October 29th

As usual with Royal Jelly, I try to point out titles of particular interest to me or things that I think are important to highlight for various reasons. Of course, I'm going to omit titles because the release list is lengthy! No one aside from shop owners can pick up every weeks release and most people aren't even going to bother riffling through the titles. It's nice to have a pull list from readers you side with in taste. So if you like my taste this is your pull list for the week :D

Rasputin #1
Harley Quinn Annual
Low #4
Saga #24
Logan Legacy #3
Little Nemo Return to Slumberland #2
Death Of Wolverine Deadpool And Captain America #1
San Hannibal #4 
Vertigo Quarterly Yellow #1
And Then Emily Was Gone #4

Set to Sea by Drew Weing (Fantagraphics)
Sock Monkey: Into the Deep Woods by Tony Millionaire and Matt Danner (Fantagraphics)
Attack on Titan: No Regrets Vol 2

Heavy Metal Magazine #271 

Mentionables: Umbral #10 , Deathlok #1

Deadpool & Captain America #1
So obviously we got a lot going on here. First, let's get the obvious stuff out of the way - Death of Logan's Legacy, we now have Death of Wolverine Deadpool & Captain America. Gerry Duggan's got this ones so its worth a looksey. Then from DC we got another Harley Quinn Annual. Doesn't annual means yearly? Didn't we just have one of these in June? I must be thinking of something else right??? DC is also calling this Harley Quin 2013 #1 so how confused am I right now. BLAH!
Wolverine stories continue as mutants and heroes everywhere deal with the death of the once living legend.  Besides

Let's skip ahead to Image! We have the next installment of Saga and Low which you best be picking up and the debut title from the talented Riley Rossmo entitled Rasputin! I got to talking with Rossmo about this series recently. Check out the interview!

There are a few interesting looking titles from Fantagraphics. Original graphic novel Set to Sea is an odd tale about an aspiring poet who leads a life on the sea and apparently drinks too much. Really interesting ink work in this book. Fully illustrated in black ink.

And we got the second installment of Attack on Titan spin-off series No Regrets which follows the story of Levi from the original series. It's a prequel to the main series.

Colder: The Bad Seed #1

Another chapter in the life of Declan Thomas. Colder #1 came out in Nov 2012 with a cripplingly horrific cover. The team has done so again with the debut of Colder: Bad Seed. Declan Thomas has the strange ability to cure madness in others. This madness is attributed to demons and darkness that creeps into peoples lives and corrupting their minds. In Bad Seed he comes into contact with this phalanges loving fiend!

I've been saying it for a while, we need more excellent titles on Darkhorse. I'm always down for more horror so it's nice to see this story resurface and continue! The cover is what caught my attention initially and although I didn't read the initial debut of Declan with Colder #1, I do remember pondering the cover for quite some time. Artist Ferreyra is clearly talented and currently working on another prolific title Aliens: Fire and Ice. Although I'm not immediately attracted to the interior artwork, it simply doesn't call out to me as so many pieces do, it is suitable for the subject matter. It does contain a certain dark and gloomy haze that is appropriate given the tone! I've added this to my subscription list despite it being a mini-series of four issues.

The nice thing about this story is that you don't have to read the first story arc to enjoy it however it has made a convert out of me. I plan to go pick up the original story based on how well put together this issue was. It's important to note that this story is absolutely not for children. I mean, if the cover doesn't terrify the shit out of them immediately, you will be shortly answering a lot of questions along the lines of "mommy, why is that woman sitting naked in that mans lap?". So best keep this one out of the reach of children.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Logan Legacy #2 : X-23 Dealing with Death

Wow, I actually didn't hate it. HA! Tim Seeley, excellent artist took on comic book role of writer for this one and manages to entertain me with a character I don't even particularly like. Best known to me for his work on Revival (which I'm actually a very big fan of despite waiting on trades), flexes his fingers over this short story and shows X-23 clubbing it in Toronto. Gotta love the Canadian influence. Well, I suppose I'm biased. BUT we do get to see a member of Alpha Flight. I won't spoil it for you.

I am actually happy that this series has changed up the artist. Color artist Oback remains but that wasn't my problem with issue one. If you had read my review, I was pretty disgusted with the work and whatever was going on with Sabertooth's head. That's not to say that I'm in love with the artwork from Kristantina, I'm not. It's not the type of artwork that impresses me but she clearly has talent. The cover of issue 2 is a VAST improvement from issue one. I mean, comparing the two, what were they thinking??? Issue two is quite lovely and I enjoy the coloring.

All in all, I was shocked that this issue was actually readable for me. I can't stand X-23 although she did praddle on a few times about her past, teh, Seeley did manage to get a few giggles out of me through some of her dialog. I wonder what's in store for next week's issue 3.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Arkham Manor #1

Immediately when I had begun to write the title to this article, I wrote Arkham Asylum. I guess I'm going to be calling it that every time I write about the series which I intend to cover pretty extensively. I received my copy in the mail yesterday and decided I'd wait till today to post my review since it officially hits the shelves this morning here in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

Last night I was super excited to finally take a look at Shawn Crystal's inside artwork for this new on-going Batman series. I contact Shawn last week because after seeing the cover that was just it for me. I know I had to read the series. I loved the released artwork. I have to say I found it sort of funny when I tweeted him to ask for an interview as I was blown away with the cover. He said that he guessed I was looking at Eric Canete's variant cover. I had seen that cover. It's cool, I'm a fan of Eric's work but that's not the cover I was talking about. I was talking about the perfectly timed October release. I felt more dark and Halloween-ey every time I looked at it. I guess Shawn is a bit on the humble side! I was so happy he agreed to talk to me. You can read the interview right here.

There were subtleties throughout the issue that I enjoyed. One such subtlety was the bat silhouette in the narration boxes whenever Batman was speaking. I think it's important to take a look at Batman himself. Shawn Crystal has given him an extremely gaunt look. How old is Batman right now anyway? I don't know. He's certainly Year 100 old but he does appear to be more warn in this depiction.

This issue sets up the story and all the excitement to come. Batman is no longer welcome in Wayne Manor. He lives with Alfred in an apartment in Gotham, but he must go back and investigate now that the inmates have moved into his beloved family home. There's been a murder. I'll leave the spoiler out of this article. I have to give this issue some hands together and maybe a fist pound because its going in a direction that is not simply Batman on the streets. I think it'll force Batman to use more of his cunning and wit. It might force him to use more brute force and not to rely on the typical Batman gadgets we all know and love. Maybe this is a sort of Batman outside of the box.

You should probably just go get a copy and read it right now before I spoil it for you.