Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Genesis by Nathan Edmundson & Alison Sampson

Writer Nathan Edmundson
Artist Alison Sampson

Adam is involved in a terrible accident which leaves him with the ability to manifest his thoughts into form. Whatever Adam thinks WILL happen. His world changes with the slightest passing thought. People clamber over themselves to visit the man who ended world hunger, but not everything is a blessing. Not every thought is positive.

Genesis was released this month as a one-shot deal with Image Comics. Artist Alison Sampson's work is full of whimsy and movement. The images practically move about the page. The 65 page book feels like a dream. The illustrations remain beautiful throughout, despite the destruction of Adam's world. I was luck enough to chat with Alison Sampson yesterday and I hope to have some feedback on a few questions so please stay tuned for that! I personally, only picked this book up because of the artwork. I didn't care what the story was about. The artwork spoke to me. I wish that happened more often. It called to me like the work of Paul Pope or Nicolas Nemiri. I had to get it.

For $6.99 this trade paper can be yours and at this price, it's a steal.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Q&A with Jeremy Holt & Tim Daniel on Skinned Issue #1

Last week Skinned #1 was released on Monkeybrain Comics and after reading my copy, I of course had a few questions. Lucky me, writers Jeremy Holt and Tim Daniel had answers for me. Here's how our little Q&A about the comic went: 

The Frog Queen : How did you all come up with the ideas behind Skinned?

TD: The idea first started forming up in 2010 as something far more sinister and mainly influenced by Phillip K. Dick’s, Scanner Darkly, but didn’t really crystalize until Ernest Cline published his totally rad novel, Ready Player One. If readers are not familiar with his sci-fi gaming novel, then get right to it. In a nutshell, Ready Player One involves an immersive virtual reality technology that allows users to inhabit a world chock full of pop-culture touchstones mainly from the 1980’s – particularly early gaming console games of that era. Skinned takes that notion one step further and brings the virtual to reality.

I’m also inexplicably preoccupied with the constructs of Disney “Princess” films -- how the heroine is typically depicted and how science fiction has been virtually shunned in those stories…

JH: What Tim said. I was a late addition to the project. I will say that his original pitch to me was much more streamlined and I was immediately sold on the concept of the Occup-Eye/Iris system. He let me wrestle with the idea a bit, and I ended up pitching him the idea of Buoy as a computer hacker, which I thought complimented everything Tim had already established with the story.

The Frog Queen : How did you all meet and decide to collaborate?

TD: Jeremy and I met at Image Expo in 2011 and I loved his work on Southern Dog and Cobble Hill. We kept in touch trading our projects back and forth.

JH: I actually have Kurtis Wiebe to thank for the introduction. I was a big fan of Tim’s design work ever since I read Existence 2.0/3.0. I happen to have the cover art for Cobble Hill on my phone, and once I showed him that, the rest is history.

The Frog Queen: What’s the role of the royalty in this story & their involvement with Occupeye?

TD: Titles are great, especially when you bestow them upon yourself…let’s just say this – trust nothing and no one. We’ve taken careful measures to fully explore the well-worn axiom of “seeing is believing”.

Now, Aldair’s parents, Mallerie and Darek – especially Mallerie, are the top programmers for the Occupeye system and in a society that puts the highest value on one’s ability to conjure powerful illusions, they are in a sense royalty.

JH: I think this clear societal class system allows us to explore our characters from very specific perspectives. I personally love the idea of mixing old world beliefs with new age technology. It’s all very steampunk in a way, which I think elevates it from your atypical star-crossed lovers storyline.

The Frog Queen: Does Occupeye merely project the images of the individual wearer? So when Buoy changes the surrounding of the Bazaar, is he affecting everyone else's lenses? 

TD: The Occupeye lenses were originally intended to be character-POV based.  Aldair is a rebellious teen for instance, so through her lenses we see the world as she does – Road Warrior-like. When she’s heartbroken, we see her reacting in a Victorian Era period drama, with a lot of tears and anguish.

But fully articulating that proved to be a massive amount of work for series artist Joshua Gowdy and equally ambitious in terms of structuring the script. We both feel, whole-heartedly that Josh did an amazing job of executing the Occupeye effect strongly enough that the reader can easily follow the action and still experience the idea of the system.

Now, when Buoy hacks the system in the first issue, he’s re-skinning all of reality and later in issues 2-4 we’re going to see the ramifications of that hack. Subsequently, there are times when Iris is stepping in and providing a skin to match or mitigate the tone of a scene. She’s a super-Siri, designed to think on behalf of all users, gently guiding the appearance of their reality.

JH: I have to also give Josh a tremendous amount of credit to be able to take the high concept aspects of the script, and fully realize them through his art. He makes it look fairly effortless-what with all the quick all encompassing scene changes.

As for how Tim and I were going to execute this rather ambitious concept, again I support what he has said. I think we’ve done our very best to expose readers to this very new and maybe a little disorienting world, while also maintaining a level of clarity and intriguing characterization that maintains the reader’s attention. With subsequent issues everything will become more familiar regarding the skin-flipping. It’s certainly an adjustment. [smiles]

The Frog Queen: Do you see Skinned as a limitless world with many stories to tell? Do you think there will be more to come after the initial series is finished?

TD: Honestly, I don’t see anything more for Aldair and Buoy beyond the six issue series. I appreciate stories that know when to end.

JH: We discussed the ending very early on during development, and I share Tim’s penchant for self contained stories in a limited arc. We can tell the story exactly as we see it, beginning-middle-end.

The Frog Queen: Can you tell us how to can get our hands on a copy of Skinned?
Skinned can be purchased through Comixology as a digital download for a mere .99 cents:

Our facebook page is an excellent resource for teasers and sneaks:

Monday, April 21, 2014

Buddha Book 1 by Osamu Tezuka

This one of the very few Tezuka series that I have not read. I decided to begin to remedy that folly. Last week I got myself the first volume of the 8 book series. The long weekend gave me an opportunity to actually read it on Saturday. Similar to most Tezuka sagas, Buddha centers around the young who are persecuted and tested by the world. Tata, a young boy who is of the lowest caste- a  pariah, has the incredible power of being able to possess animals. He helps many people in book 1 but the birth of Siddhartha appears to be the largest advent of this volume. 

Buddha is Tezuka's imagined life of Gautama Buddha. First published in 1972, it finally finished a decade later in December of '83. It remains one of Tezuka's most acclaimed series of his career and one of his last epic manga series. 

There are plenty of breaks in the drama for humor and even a cameo by Astro boy scientist Professor Ochanomizu. I am hoping that Tezuka puts himself into this series for a cameo. He does that from time to time and it's so cute. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Attack on Titan : Before the Fall

Art by Satoshi Shiki
Story by Ryo Suzukaze

I suppose I got my wish, an Attack on Titan with prolific artwork. Before the Fall has been written and illustrated by two new people. Hajime Isayama is out of the picture. Don't get me wrong, the artwork is perfection. It's beautiful, detailed and each face is full of expression. Yet, the titan doesn't hold the same creep factor as the original books.

I like the story line so far. Remember how I told you that the titans can't full digest their prey? They just spew it all back up, half corroded by stomach acid. So this story is about a pregnant lady who's child survived the ordeal and comes out of his mother's womb alive. Now that back of the book says that Kuklo is cut from his mothers womb after she is spewed forth from the titans belly. That is incorrect. Kuklo was actually found delivered. Not 100% sure how that's possible but no the soldiers that find him, don't cut him out of his mother. This discrepancy could be due to the fact that the trailer released was publicized before the entire story was sorted out. It was not completely accurate either. Maybe the had the cover set in stone before they finished the story as well heh.

The biggest difference is how this story conforms to regular mainstream manga, unlike the original series. The one and only female character thus far, is a young, blond, doe-eyed girl.  She is of course a damsel in distress, waiting to be married off but apparently plans to run away. Yet the idea only occurred to her as this "son of the titan" offers. Maybe it'll turn around but so far not impressed. Maybe there will be a strong female lead? I won't hold my breath. Also, I only saw 1 person get eaten. That's disappointing.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

San Hannibal # 1 by Dan Schkade, JD Faith & Jesse Snavlin

Pop! Goes the Icon just yesterday, released issue one of San Hannibal. A noir mystery story about a missing persons search conducted by private investigator Ira. The search for missing photojournalist Savannah Loy brings him to a punk rock bar. He immediately encounters some odd characters.

San Hannibal is beautifully drawn and colored in two tones. Black and a fuchsia hue (check it out on the cover). I'm absolutely in love with this edgy artwork and it was my whole reason for picking up the single yesterday. The cover immediately caught my eye and as I slipped through the body of the book in the comic book store I said "not another noir story". Despite what might lay in the story, I felt the artwork over-all could probably carry even the worst writer. I was pleasantly surprised when I began to read the book.

The story itself gripped me. Even though it is just another missing persons mystery, the writer clearly has a unique voice. The story is narrated by Ira and written in such a way that you are able to get a good sense of who he is without fumbling to include arbitrary details. Ira's narration does set up the atmosphere of his surroundings descriptively but they are colored by his own personal outlook on life.

San Hannibal is intended to be a five part mini-series. I am really happy that I picked this issue up. I recommend it whether you like mystery noir stories or not. It has already sucked me in.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Skinned #1

Written by Tim Daniel & Jeremy Holt
Art by Joshua Gowdy

I got a digital copy of this today from Jeremy Holt and was most excited to read it simply because of the cover. By now you must know that covers tend to pull me in, however they don't make me stay (*cough* the buffy comics *cough*).

Mostly, this story is fits into the cyberpunk genre which is probably my favorite genre. After reading Jeff Noon's Vurt some time ago, I began writing my own cyberpunk story. So far that gives Skinned my attention.

The story takes place in a world where humans are given new lenses (literally) through which to view the world. A physical device invoking the old adage of rose colored glasses so to speak. They allow the viewer to see things as they choose and project your imagination visually. The company or agency responsible is called Occup-eye. Apart from that I haven't 100% learned their uses except that there appears to be a hacker afoot. Note to self - Must probe Mr. Holt for more details.

Due to what I can only imagine is the constantly shifting thoughts of a human being, the appearance of the world shifts from panel to panel. Although I like the changing architecture and fashion of the Occup-eye world, I'm not sure where this entire plot is going. "Reality is a disease" according to the agency responsible for Occup-eye. Makes sense to me but wouldn't there be all kinds of side effects? For instance, disorientation? Maybe something sort of like the bends or vertigo. If your world is constantly changing, even in appearance, does it not create an inability eventually to adapt to ones surroundings? I suppose this is another question for the writers as I still have yet to understand if people are actually projecting what they see in their minds to other people, or if that is in fact private.

I'm curious how the royalty fits into this story. I am unsure if they are responsible for Occup-eye or actually enslaved by it.

Well, I think I'll write a couple emails and find some answers! Stay tuned! ;)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Starlight #2 by Mark Millar

I had it all wrong when I was typing up what I thought about Mark Millar's Starlight. A friend pointed out to me that the story is inspired by Edgar Rice Burroughs and is a sort of fan-fiction in a way for John Carter of Mars. I have not read many of those novels so it didn't immediately jump out at me as such. Not to mention that fact that I didn't watch that awful movie adaptation (it looked just terrible). My friend however is a big fan of Burroughs and has read MOST of his novels. If not all.

Anyway, issue 2 opens up with a small child-like, purple haired person stepping out pleading for his life. He's only 86, so don't shoot! He's from the same planet that Captain McQueen saved 40 years ago when his air force jet flew through a rift in time and space. Here he is being asked to go back and save the planet from a new threat. This one is an alien race, there to pick off all the resources and most likely enslave the entire race. At first McQueen is reluctant, assuring the boy-man that he is too old, but of course he gives in because there would be no story otherwise.

So far, the story is fun. The artwork appeals to me and my love of a retro look and feel. It's an easy read, not heavy and there's really not much hiding in the motives of any of the characters (at least not yet). You can pretty much take them all at face value, which is perhaps because Starlight is intended for a younger audience? I'm use to Millar's gory side. I don't really see that happening here, but it's Millar... it could happen.

Before I write an article on any book or single, I keep myself from reading other peoples opinions on it. I don't want it to influence how I naturally perceive a story. Therefore, I know very little about the intentions of Millar with this story. I didn't  even want to read his interview with CBR. I'm really excited to see where this story goes without all the spoilers. ;)