February 5, 2014

LIMERENCE second edition by @pendledon

10:02 pm in art,books,design dustin hostetler

1654130_10202541777857108_1734011659_n

Available now


January 11, 2014

Comics Review – Mid January 2013

10:03 pm in books,comics,product,reviews Ulises Farinas

It’s been longer than i planned to write this review, but 2014 started off with a wimper. There was not one book that i was crazy about, and i found most of them all pretty  boring. Like, I don’t even want to write about this-boring. But hey, the comics were read, and now i will write about them. I’m also way behind on some graphic novels i have to read.

East of West #8 – Hickman & Dragotta – Good

Probably the best of the batch. I’m jumping right in, and it hits heavy with an honestly scary evil President, some nasty brain creature thing, and really great cityscapes and world building. There are mini-chapter breaks of sorts, which are all white pages with off-white lettering. On first read, i missed them, but they add nice little beats and a subtle bit of dread to the entire comic. As a whole, the story feels like Blade Runner with bits of manga horror, but Dragotta’s artwork has a pretty classy robust feel. He knows how to move a camera about a scene, when to go super close, when to stand back and show us more. Like he really learned Wally Wood’s 22 panel’s that always work:

The colors by Martin are really great as well. The entire issue is oranges, blues and greys, and as much as orange/blue has been done to death in movie posters, but where those posters appear to be the result of lazy copycatting, in East of West, it looks new again. A lot of time you hear about how colorists are ignored in comics news, but honestly, most colorists should be ignored. Its rare that i see a colorist who’s work not only stands out but also seamlessly supports the linework. Its often too much or not enough, too literal or too audacious.

Pretty Deadly #3 – DeConnick & Rios – Good

So i bought another issue of this comic, and i might have enjoyed Rios’ work even more in this issue.  The river of blood, the horse-skull man, the hella’ creepy multi-arms thing bursting out of the river of blood. But as you can tell, this comic is really grooving in it’s dream logic narrative. I still have no clue what’s going on, who wants what, what is the conflict. There’s mini narratives within the larger narrative that makes sense, but on a whole, it’s like when you’re dreaming you’re in your kitchen, and then the scene transforms to your kitchen in an airplane, and your mom is played by a woman you’ve never seen before, but you know it’s your mom for some reason. I wonder if that same phenomenon is connected to Capgras delusion? But anyway, not sure how satisfying a read it was, but the art is still stunning, so maybe i’ll continue to see where this goes.

Fairest #21 – Andreyko & McManus – Crappy as fuck

You know what i hate in comics? Dudes writing about rape. You know what i hate about dudes who write about rape? How fucking sanitized it is. So one of the major scenes in this comic, is “Cin” – short for Cinderella, is tied to a chair, in sexy lingerie, Black Widow in Avengers-style, by sex traders. This is sex slavery:

“She was kept there for three days, raped by three to six men a day. When she returned home, her mother sent her away for stints in two other brothels, including one 400 kilometers away on the Thai border. When she learned her mother was planning to sell her again, this time for a six-month stretch, she realized she needed to flee her home.”

I find it kind of irresponsible to use sex slavery as just another plot point where the sexy little white girl saves the day by opening up a trailer and telling them they are free. Fat chance. I wonder how a comic like this gets approved? And the art was pitiful. Simple mistakes like a character remarking on an open-toed high heel, and the artist has drawn a closed-toe high heel! THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING. It’s just sloppy, a bit amateur, and completely disposable.

I’ve never read Fables before, but if this is a taste of the larger universe, folk tales with a shitty veneer of maturity by placing them in a modern context, no thanks. Cinderella owns a shoe store now, WOW – SO CLEVER. Corny garbage.

Red Sonja #6 – Simone & Geovani – Crappy

How many stories are there about an evil king who’s hurting his own people and must be stopped by a destined hero? Thousands? I guess it’s now an original story if you make it a destined heroine. I’ve never read Simone before, and this doesn’t make me wanna read anything else of hers. There was not one original idea in this comic, it could’ve been created by a dungeons & dragon campaign generator. There’s a poison that everyone has believed is a plague. I’m not really sure how that would work, i didn’t really see any symptoms besides “Feels intense pain and dies” Why it was necessary to distinguish between a poison and a plague in this pre-medieval society, and not just some weird hex on people, i couldn’t tell you. Could people spread the fake-plague by being in proximity with each other? I don’t know. It’s just fucking stupid.

Also, Red Sonja is wearing her chainmail bikini on the cover, which is a gorgeous illustration by Jill Thompson, but is in full body armor in the interiors. Can we just accept that chainmail bikini is really dumb and give her a dope ass suit of armor? Because her armor was so dull and cliche and boring and nothing about it, made me think “HERO”. It just looked like the same clothes everyone else was wearing. Take a lesson from Thor, Red Sonja. That dude knows how to look distinctive. With or without clothing on…

Rat Queens – Wiebe & Upchurch – WTF COMICS? WHY SO SHITTY?

This was maybe the worst of the week. Another D&D campaign as a comic. I don’t want to read about the shitty adventures your Dungeon Master cribbed from a sourcebook in 1995. I guess the idea is “I have this cliche adventuring story, i guess i can make it less cliche by making all the adventurers into sassy women” NO. Don’t do that. I’m tired of the brain dead way we write women. God forbid we see a STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER who isn’t also FANBOY PORN FANTASY. You’re not challenging anything by drawing skinny, pretty, flawless mary-sues. I wanna see a woman who’s as ugly as the Thing in Fantastic Four, or who’s as diesel as Glory by Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell. I just am tired of having to believe that a woman built like a prepubescent boy can wield a broadsword with enough force to shatter another man’s sword ( this happens in the comic )

What we do get is a dwarf/halfling type lady, who gets a passionate kiss from another woman, and it really just looks like we’re looking at some pedo-fantasy or some shit. It’s bizarre. Its like everyone bought the ‘How to write women, for DUMMIES! by Joss Whedon” handbook. Whatever, if you see Rat Queen in your local comic shop, burn down the shop. Find the publisher, burn down the publisher. Go to comic cons, burn them down. Just kidding, i don’t hate it that much. But it is terrible.

Check out that creepy shit:

Amazing Xmen #2 -  Jason Aaron & Ed McGuinness – Not Amazing

I have never been a fan of Xmen. The whole ‘lets make them mutants so we dont need to have an origin for every character” always was boring to me. But i guess lots of people love them. In this comic, the Xmen don’t die, but they go to hell and they go to heaven. Somehow, this made sense to the writer and the editors and everyone else that got this to the shelves. To me, it basically just comes off as dangerous as their danger room. That is, not dangerous at all. Even though Storm is in hell, ‘where there’s no weather’, which is fucking stupid, because a hell would be much cooler with hell weather than with none. What a missed opportunity for thunderstorms of virgin’s blood and snow storms of children’s regrets! No. We get red dirt and red skies and red brick work. I’m constantly disappointed at how little imagination goes into comics, when you can draw whatever you want. It’s not hell if its bearable. But Storm doesn’t have any problem fighting hoards of demons. Because she’s a strong female character, of course a depowered Storm can fight just as effectively as Wolverine. Iceman? He keeps complaining how hot it is. Not painfully hot, just like summer day hot it seems. Dude doesn’t melt, he just gets icier. Wolverine is fighting in heaven, and its all pink clouds. And somehow, there’s an up and down in heaven, even though i’d imagine its an astral plane that you couldn’t simply fall from. Basically, don’t go to philosophical concepts of eternal pleasure and eternal pain and have it just be as artificial as a sound stage. Barely even finished this comic. Watch Event Horizon instead

Saviors – James Robinson & J.Bone – OK

This is a very OKAY comic. Like, so OKAY, i don’t have much to say. Its main character is a pothead, which i always hate, because its like a pothead’s pot dream that he really sees the real world when he’s smoking, and its not just pot fueled fantasizing. But potheads are always like “This would make such a good comic! What if like reptoids actually exist!” after watching one to many youtube videos. These people always sort of believe their own bullshit, and so it gets a bit tiresome. So this comic is about a dude who smokes a lot, who doesn’t have any ambitions, and discovers that there’s aliens impersonating people in his small town. For unexplained reasons, rather than letting everyone think he’s even more of a loser than he already is, the aliens chase him down and kill his best friend. You’d think the main alien, who is impersonating the Sheriff, could’ve just had him arrested on possession charges, if he really wanted to get rid of him. But intergalactic shape-shifting extra terrestials can’t think of a better plan than running after him.

The art is pretty nice in some pages, in that kind of lazy webcomic style. A bit generic, but i can see his art getting really great with some effort. Double page spreads was a nice touch. But it’s a better comic for free comic book day, the time of the year where comics publishers give away comics you wouldn’t buy in the futile attempt to convince you that they are selling comics that you wouldn’t buy.

That’s all for the week. A weak week.


December 23, 2013

Comics Review – Late December 2013

Technically, i read all these comics at once, like a week and a half ago, but hey, let me try my best to remember what was what. While it’s still fresh in my mind, let us get straight to it.

Velvet #2- Brubaker & Epting – Ok

Sometimes i wonder how successful writers/artists pitch work to publishers. Do they step in an office, greet their contacts warmly, and say “Hey i wanna do the same thing i’ve always done, again, will you publish it?” Do the publishers then respond “I dunno buddy, i’m not sure anyone will buy it..” and then they both laugh hysterically, “I’m just fucking with you. Sure, lets publish it. Nah, i don’t even need to see a script. I’m sure you can handle this. You’ve been doing it as long as I am,” There’s nothing wrong with Velvet. There really isn’t. Any critiques i’d have, would be pretty nitpicky (like the lettering of ZZZZZZZZ over a sleeping man’s body, in multiple panels), but overall, it was just a matter of boredom. What need is there for another generic, cat-suited super spy against generic FBI?CIA?WTF?LOL? goons? What need is there for gruff men with secrets, and sexy ladies who are gruff too, and gruff men who live on boats; by this point, i’ve seen it done by Angelina Jolie like at least seven times, and Velvet isn’t adding anything new.

There’s also the problem of almost every fucking floppy, is just this constant in-media res story telling. I understand the economic necessities of making a floppy, but these are writers who have been writing for years, and every year, i find less and less books that actually function as single issues. People wait for the trade, but what you end up with, are a bunch of single issues that didn’t work alone, but have so much padding, that the whole shitty story could’ve been told in a single issue. I guess that’s what job security in comics is, pull as many pages out of an idea as possible, and you can’t jump the shark, because careers don’t get canceled in comics, they just get promoted.

Should you read Velvet? I dunno. Did you watch that movie Salt? No? Well, i’d say don’t worry about it. The Conversation with Gene Hackman, much better espionage-ish type film. I’m so meh on Velvet i don’t even wanna curse. And that makes me sad.

Pretty Deadly #2 – DeConnick & Rios & Bellaire & Cowles – Art – Great, Words – Good/Ok

I ragged on DeConnick for Captain Marvel before, in November, and a book like Pretty Deadly is the far opposite of that Marvel series. I wouldn’t really know where a writer’s passions are, but something about Pretty Deadly, even though i didn’t really understand what was happening, felt like she REALLY REALLY cared about this book. You have some ideas, when you’re an artist/writer, that just sit in your heart like children that haven’t been born. You can see their features, hear how they’ll laugh, and even see how they’ll die. Then you get a chance to make those stories, and you don’t care what people say or if they like it or don’t, its yours and thats all that matters.

I really enjoyed it, and the art, the sequential story telling, the ladies that be lookin’ fierce, was really excellent. Sometimes i watch Beyonce videos, and all i can think is how she’s really gotten down every one of her moves and the whole look. Its just on point. Emma Rios, is on point. This is a book that i’d see young cats try to emulate and fail at. There’s panel layouts going on in this book that stretch your muscles til they might pop. Personally, i’m fairly conservative with my panel layouts, so seeing something like this makes me think about what i can do with my own game.

The story is kind of dreamy, and at times, i had trouble figuring out who was talking to who, and what the hell they were talking about. But rather than feeling frustrated with it, it really just made me want to keep reading more, so i could figure it out. If you can make me care, even though i feel disoriented, i’d say you’ve just pulled off a nice hat trick. High five, there’s passion in this book, and this is new. So i think this might be the first book from my reviews, where i’ll actually go and buy #3 (and #1)

Viking’s End – Rich Tommaso - Great

This is my favorite of the week. Have y’all ever listened to Hardcore History? That podcast right there, its the real deal. You guys need to put down your lame ass comics, for a second, and learn something real, something substantial, or something like Viking’s End. History was really fucked up. People spend a lot of time thinking about today’s every day cruelties. In the last day alone, i saw Paul Walker’s crushed face and burnt body, i’ve seen a black kid bleeding out on a San Francisco street, I’ve read about Scott Lobdell getting his dick all hard like a 5th grade poindexter and not knowing how to deal. 

A bit of a tangent here, but i think about sex pretty god damn often, like shit, human procreation is really fucking mind-bending, but i ain’t once ever been on a panel and looked at a person next to me and thought ‘Time to get some. Yes. right now. This will work. Lets do this.” Come on man. Every time i read about harassment in comics, I think this, in this order: 1. AGAIN!? REALLY!? AGAIN!? WHAT ARE YOU, TWELVE??! 2. You should get punched in the face 3. These motherfuckers ain’t got no fucking game. Here’s a bit of advice, for anyone who’s trying to get laid. Treat the person you wanna see naked with respect. At best, you get laid and at worst, you’ve treated a human humanely. You don’t ever have to worry about being a creep, if you respect people’s boundaries, respect their work, and respect when they aren’t interested.

Apologizing for some person ‘not getting your humor’ is such bullshit. Sometimes, i wonder how male cartoonists would feel, if i kept implying that they got nice dick-sucking lips during a panel. Then i’d say “BRO, I’m JUST JOKING!” I’m not gonna pretend to be some noble post-masculine feminist, cause i’m as much of a meathead chauvinist as any other dude from Jersey (i’m working on it), but any time i’ve done some fucked up shit, i didn’t wait til i read about it on xojane.com to respond. The time for apologies, isn’t years later. Straight dudes live in a bubble of knowing they can get away with anything, but there’s a god damn reckoning coming. Scott Lobdell apologized with the quickness, cause the internet hate machine does not have patience for your sluggish reply. I recently replied to a post about this, asking “why don’t people just name names” and got a schooling from Laura Hudson. I got my own bubble of being an aggressive straight dude, where honestly, i’m not gonna come up against many situations where i can’t solve with more aggression. In some ways, i can’t see beyond my own bubble. But i can see, that if you’re gonna be a creep in comics, you’ve just about used up all your get-out-of-jail free cards.  Its been hard out there for a lot of people, and now, straight white dudes, you can join the rest of us in the gravel pit.

Okay okay…speaking of white dudes, let’s get back to that Viking comic. I’m sorry Rich Tommaso, cause your comic was both historically enlightening and also wonderfully drawn. It’s got a bit of a chris ware feel? I’m not sure, but you know, little square boxes and geometric humans, that kind of stuff. And the story is about some little brat, who goes straight gangsta, and kills a man’s daughter, after getting her drunk. No victim blaming here, but i know better than to hang out with murderous barbarians who’s family has been at war with my family. It’s actually kind of hilarious, even though its just a cruel trick to get the father to join the battle. It works, the Father is pissed and smarter than the little shit, and the the little shit gets 86′d. Justice was swift on the battlefield, and i’m always aghast at how much blood we used to shed on the regular. I’ve cried thinking about 9/11, but human history would place that event in a thimble, compared to the buckets of guts that other massacres have been. The ending was a sweet surprise, so i won’t spoil it, but everything in this book is delightful. Sorry about the tangent again.

In Pace Requiescat – Sean T. Collins & Julia Gfrorer – Art – Good , Words – ???

Who wants to read a comic about glory holes? Who likes Edgar Allen Poe? This comic is for you. Good Art, but the rest? Personally, and this i’m admitting is a bit more biased, more just my tastes, i felt this was just an artsy indie idea that didnt amount to much to me. Like any time you’ve gone to an art gallery, and you’re with friends, and they are watching a video of a dead fox slowly decomposing, and you don’t wanna be the first dude to be like ‘i don’t get it’ or leave, so you watch the whole thing too. But then you watch it like 3 times, and realize your friend has been waiting for you to leave, but neither of you know when this thing properly ends, so you are just kinda waiting for some kind of interruption. Then a complete stranger gets up and leaves, so you leave too. Man, that shit is so awkward.

Keep Fresh – Zejian ShenArt – Ok, Words – ???

Real creepy, and if you want to read this in english, good luck, because all the english text is crammed in the bottom of each page haphazardly. In a way, it kinda adds to the creepy effect, but by the end of the comic, i missed something and didn’t know what, so i could not figure out the conclusion. Sometimes, i just feel straight up stupid. I think “Is it me? Do i just not have the reading comprehension necessary for this comic?” My high self esteem quickly discards that question, and replaces it with “WHY CAN’T I READ THIS SHIT!?” But nah, this isn’t shit. I actually enjoyed it, because i like reading sorta-horror comic about motorcycle dude smashing the brains out of a pervert with a hammer.

I wonder why that image would appeal to me? I wonder….

On Your Marks, Short Run Anthology #1 – Various ArtistsGood!

There was some not so good comics in this, but some very good comics too. And it was mostly very good. Most of the time i read anthologies, and i just think “great, inaccessible toilet paper” But this was a quick read of enjoyable short comics. Notable stand outs -

Spirit Hand by Gfrorer – Real creepy and unsettling

Tuesday by Aidan – pitch perfect description of depression in six panels

This Magic Ring & Crab story by JFish – would love to read more adventures of these characters, and probably has the most possibility for expansion.

That’s it y’all. Mostly a good week. Besides some boring comic and some inscrutable comics, everything else was really enjoyable. Cheers to you!


December 22, 2013

Write A House / SUPPORT THIS

12:25 am in art,books,lifestyle,web dustin hostetler

Write A House is a twist on the “Writer’s Residency.”
In this case, the writer is simply given the house, forever.

APPLY FOR RESIDENCY


December 16, 2013

Comics Review – Mid December 2013

10:50 am in books,comics,reviews,weird,zines Ulises Farinas

I decided i’m not gonna write the artists names and stuff in the title anymore, just cause sometimes there’s way too many artists to be writing in that small title line. And date seems more relevant for me. It’s been a long time since my last write up, which was the wrap up of November. December has started off on fire though, really enjoyed most of the last two week’s comics. I never know what i’m gonna get, and i don’t care if it’s #2 or #1 or #343 of a series, i just read it and leave it, on to the next one. As always, my rating system is: Horrible, Crappy, OK, Good, Great, AMAZING. I realize right now, that sometimes i say something is terrible instead of horrible. Probably not the most reliable system, but hey, nobody’s perfect. And if there’s a significant difference in the quality of art vs. writing, that’ll be indicated.

FINAL CRISIS – Grant Morrison & J.G.Jones – Art – Good, Words – ALL OVER THE PLACE

Morrison will never be as good as he wants to be. I suspect that Morrison thinks he’s better than he’s ever been. This comic is 5 years old at this point, and it’s interesting to see that for all the wordage, Morrison’s ‘love letter to the superhero genre,’ has led to a point in his career where the relationship is as stale as a middle aged wife’s sweatpants that she purchased in her big plan to get fit again. If you look at the new 52 and you read Final Crisis, you can see how big their dreams were, and there are points in the story where you believe, that this shit can really make you believe in spandex. The whole segment of Superman in the omniverse or whatever, is Morrison really running at full speed towards the galactic barrier, his muscles all sinewy and the beads of sweat falling off his brow like diamond stars. But oh fuck, motherfucker got a cramp, and he just shit his pants. Constantly, the story reaches high, and then it hits a ceiling. That ceiling is SUPERHERO COMICS ARE MADE BY AND FOR IDIOTS. Yes, there’s really great stuff out there, but as long as this narrative of Final Crisis has to come back down to the world of mortals, it is slave to a story that will ultimately CHANGE nothing, and as a result, SAY nothing. Beyond Superman 3D on it’s own, would have benefited immensely if it really was JUST ALONE. But its place in the complete story, just doesn’t make much sense, even if on its own its the strongest story (and sorta about story).

Darkseid is the big evil. But there’s a bigger evil, its this vampire guy. Why are they evil? What do they want beyond just “I SHALL END THE UNIVERSE?” Nothing. You know what kinda story that is? Its the same exact story my six year old self made up when i played with toys. Morrison wants to be a great writer, but at the end of the day, he’s constrained by the fact that he has just written a really complex plastic Skeletor action figure plot, and that all his notions of story and character, all the conflicts he’s set up, he’s solved by having them punch each other. Grant Morrison has written some of my favorite stories, and his All-Star Superman is my definitive Superman. But event books don’t do the very thing that they should do. Instead, they wimper along like a bitch ass, insisting that you read this comic and that comic, and that this is all real important, and i’m saying something really big here, but its like a limp dick in a magnum condom: All intention, no erection.

Overall, if you wanna see batman get written out of a comic in a sloppier fashion than Richie Cunningham’s brother, then this comics is for you. It’s got chunks of story that work, but overall, this love letter to superheroes is marked ‘return to sender’. Its enjoyable fluff thats weighed down by meta-pretensions that amount to nothing.

Final Verdict – Read Superman Beyond 3D, don’t go beyond the robot superman part. And there’s some beautiful comic covers in this series.

Deep Frito – Matt FurieArt – BAD Words – Sometimes sorta funny? Eh. Read it in the store.

Ugly is popular. This story has got ugly subject matter, ugly drawings, and its got way too much Dude-ogling for my comfort. I get it, that that’s the point, taking a kind of indifferent look at some carnival kids being losers, but for fuck’s sake, is that all we get sometimes? As a writer, i don’t want to take an indifferent look, i want to actually say something. This reminds me of St.Owl’s Bay, which was in the same vein. I lived this life, i went to carnivals and said stupid things about girls. I grew up, being a pervert, i had friends who were juggalos, and i treated girls like they were just things to put my dick in. You know why i don’t write a comic about it? Because i don’t need to get praised for being a little snot nosed shithead. But all these comics, in a way, are just masturbatory ruminations on being a gross person. They don’t provide any insight, and its basically bathroom graffiti as a genre. I’m not gonna say this doesn’t deserve to exist, but i won’t think it would look out of place next to a shit smear.

Inhumanity – Matt Fraction & Coipel and some other artists randomly, OK

Speaking of EVENT comics, this is Marvel’s next event. And it’s really hard to care. Like i wanna believe, “Fraction’s ’bout to do a slick freestyle, bust some heads and spill some blood like an OG” but i don’t believe it. I know that this comic is gonna be a long long long adventure that won’t end, just sorta of transition to a new event. Perhaps, Ironman will have a new outfit by the end of the book. Who knows. Still, there’s some good moments, but it’s really just a huge exposition issue. It also commits the unforgiveable sin of switching artists mid story and then switching back. Fuck that noise. Marvel, you and your artists and your writers are all professionals. Your only job is drawing funny books, month after month after month. Unless i read that the artist cut his thumb open, midway through the book, there’s no excuse for it. Its simply shitty. Leinil Yu provides like 3 pages, and it’s nice, but still, just don’t do it. This is a minor distraction in this book, but i’ve seen comics that had like 4 different artists. Just scrap that shit and start over. Anyway, Light-bulb head is speaking wise on some inhuman history, which is cool and all, and then the first issue ends with a predictable C-level type hero dying. You don’t get event comics without sending one of your characters into comic book limbo.

Gray City – Ryan Dirks – Ok/Good

Don’t got much to say about this, its pretty trippy, has got grey aliens on grey paper, and the mood itself is pretty grey. I prefer to spell grey with an E by the way. Even though the art isn’t really polished, i found myself enjoying this surreal noirish little diddy. He’s set up a weird scenario, got the dude with amnesia figuring it out along with the reader, and who doesn’t like black eyed Greys staring at you from a page. I was speaking to Brandon Graham recently, about the quality of art and how the soul of a comic is somehow tied to that, and ‘nicer’ art would somehow diminish the entire work. This might be a good example of that. The wonkiness kinda adds to the atmosphere.

Black Science – Remender & Scalera & Dean White – Art – Good, Words – OK

I mentioned earlier this evening, that i can’t fucking stand human breasts on ALIEN species. Like, do dudes not even think twice about making some frog creatures look like Beyonce? Is that the only way we can understand why the main hero decides to save the frog-damsel in distress. Its not that looking at sexy women or drawing them or any of that shit is bad, its that its so boring. Here, they’ve drawn a world of giant tortoise islands, with tribal frogs living on them, and skies of lightning, and their imagination got short-circuited when they got to Frog-lady. The story on the whole moves fast, and the inner monologue of the hero is a bit whiney. I’m not sure if his wife is already, or might die, but he’s gotta save his kids, he keeps talking about, and then his female partner gets killed, she must not die in vain, then he saves the frog lady, and frog-dude saves him in return from other frog dudes. Males just don’t think for a second, how corny and redundant their story choices are, but if this comic was called SUPER MARIO DIMENSION, it wouldn’t seem out of place. I think if it was a bit fresher than George Lucas’ rhyme book from the 1970s, it could be a great comic. The art was top notch, and i did like the hustle of the story, but how many times do i gotta read about a dude who’s motivation is some dead ladies. Remender should’ve killed the kids, that’d take balls. No one ever shoots the kids in the face.

Hawkeye #14 – Matt Fraction & Annie Wu & Matt Hollingsworth – GREAT

Now this is what a Superhero comic should be. I haven’t read a floppy comic, that was this simple, this fun, this well drawn, this well colored, this well written, since when comics were in bodegas. You remember those comics, that had the hostess cake ads in them, the rough paper, and when you were a kid, you knew you probably wouldnt be able to buy the next issue, cause your pops wasn’t always so generous. This reminded me of that feeling. Its got a hook for the next issue, but it just STANDS ALONE. Why is this unique? Why don’t all floppies aim for being a good read, in the here and now, rather than craft some soap-opera garbage for emotionally stunted manboys. I gotta make a special mention for Matt Hollingsworth, cause that man is a samurai slicing flower petals. Colorists are like when you hear a rapper throw a producer’s name into a song, cause you know that song would fall apart without the man behind the curtain. He’s got a style thats unique, subtle and completely inspiring. If i was a colorist, i’d turn off the photoshop filters, open this book and listen like moses did to the burning bush. This is your education. This was the best read, and it wasn’t nothing complex or trying to be transformative. It just looked at its medium, look at it’s genre, took all those ingredients and made a perfect meal.

Also, why aren’t comics on  magazine stands. WWE magazine is on magazine stands? US Weekly serves up garbage every week. Why hasn’t any major publisher decided to venture back out there? I really don’t know, i’m not too wise on that side of things, so anyone care to enlighten me, just let me know on facebook or the comments. (here’s the discussion!)

Conditions on the Ground – Kevin Hooyman - Good!

I liked this. Its navel-gazey, but its doing it in the right way. If you’re gonna be philosophical, actually ask a question thats actually kinda intelligent. Not something like “I wonder if god exists” Who gives a shit anymore? But even more importantly, your answer to the unanswerable is the very craft of your comic. The answer in this comic is a big ol’ Big Foot, that doesn’t really seem annoyed or disinterested, but just having it’s own questions. The Bigfoot is quiet though, sometimes you just listen, sometimes listening is what gives us the most comfort. A lot of the short stories feel like that, with an end that is comfortable with just having been able to verbalize what we sorta day dream about. These aren’t any big questions, and the back cover ends the book with the words, “Easy does it” Easy does it is exactly how this comic feels. I would give this to someone who was having some weird days.

I got a like six more to go, Pretty Deadly and Velvet and some other things, but i’m tired. So I’ll review those later! Seeya later!

 


December 1, 2013

Mega Comics Review Part 2 – November 2013

Man, i’ve been reading comics like they are going out of style. This is part 2 of the End of November review of reviews. Of all the comics i’ve reviewed this month, i have rated more comics “GOOD” than anything else. Second to that were “OK” comics, and after that, about 4 crappy comics.

But my pick of the month is…

POOR THING – DREW MILLERAll around great comic

This comic. THIS COMIC. It made me laugh, the art was boss, and the story was hilarious. A lot of times, people confuse complexity with quality, and that’s not the true at all. The quality of something is best measured by it’s own merits. You wouldn’t get upset with a pig, cause it tasted like a cow, but you would feel ripped off if you got ham instead of bacon on your BLT. What i mean is, a comic should be the result of the artist/writer putting their best work out there. Most comics are content to either have good writing or good art, and that’s enough to call that comic GREAT. That’s why so many of my reviews just say something is okay, cause the whole package falls apart.

But Poor Thing, is a complete package, from the cover design, to the inside cover, to the sequentials, to the humor. I could see if someone doesn’t find it funny, like i do, but that wouldn’t take away from the quality, as it is still very well drawn and the story hits all the beats at the right time. There are other comics that try so hard to seem effortless, but often can’t shed their ‘Am i being edgy? In the right way?” self consciousness. This comic is weird, kinda gross, made me laugh, and made me want to draw. Great all the way.

Sex Criminals #2 & #3 – Fraction & Zdarsky – Good

I missed the first issue, but i think any comic, any where, if presented in a floppy format, is REQUIRED to stand on its own. I don’t want to wait for the trade. If you don’t think your vision works as a floppy, do not publish it as a floppy. But this comic, i really much enjoyed. Fraction’s writing can sometimes get a little carried away with itself, and its a symptom of all the good writers in this industry. They simply believe their own hype too much. But unlike Casanova, which i found to be incomprehensible at times, once this got going, i was really going with it too. I was afraid that a comic about sex, would be plagued with a lot of the same heteronormative bullshit that straight dudes never think twice about, fearful that their dicks will get too excited at homoeroticism and run away without them. But nah, this comic is actually very sweet. A boy meets girl, girl meets boy, both of them fuck and STOP TIME AND ROB BANKS AND THEM SOME SCIFI PRISONERS OF THE PHANTOM ZONE TYPES ARE AFTER THEM. But it’s all very sweet, the whole “waiting on someone to text you” bit was nice, and for once, i believe that a comic book writer isn’t a fat piece of shit who hasn’t seen his dick in 12 years, so he must stare at comic pinups so he imagine a swelling in his sweatpants. The writing was slick, the art was mostly good, the coloring was shitty at times. But, good! I liked it! November is ending on a good note. Also, IMAGE on a whole, has the best graphic design for its publications. This applies to Zero, below, too.

Zero #3 – Ales Kot & Mateus Santolouco & More – Good

I don’t know about you, but when i read Wild Children, i thought this was a writer sucking his own literary cock so hard, that he’s already came a million times and is now a skeletal ouroboros of footnotes and bad meta-fiction. You know, you can’t believe your own hype when it’s your first comic, but then again, i’m all about bragging and thinking you’re the shit, so i can’t really hate on a brother for thinking he’s god’s gift to grant morrisson. But Zero, it seems he’s hit his sweet spot. I can see why the dude is gonna be writing some Avengers, cause i’m starting on issue 3, and i thought it hit hard, when the Lady he’s sweet with gets her arm detached. The science fiction elements are fresh, and “kickstarter of terrorism” is admittedly, kinda hokey, but also, something i figure would exist. Ales Kot is writing a 30 seconds into the future spy game, and it benefits the story by sticking to more conventional plotting.

I don’t hold a grudge in comics, i never believe that if you wrote or drew a bad comic once before, that you can’t pick yourself up and make a great comic the next time. I also don’t think that means, the one after that is gonna be any good either. Each according to it’s own merits. Like i’ve said before, i want a comic to IMPRESS me. Zero #3 did. Good Job Ales.

Adventure Time #22 – North & Paroline & Lamb – Good

Adventure Time is like the Wolverine of kids comics. Its the best at what it does, and what it does is pretty cool. Cool points go to the costume design of the two princesses in the comic, i thought that was sweet. If i was a girl, i’d wanna cosplay as them, and also wear them on a date, cause i’d look good. The humor is easy, breezy, but maybe likes to say “Real Talk” a bit too often. But there’s funny moments, and i always think Adventure Time is the model that comics should look at. Good art that can be AMAZING, and fun short stories that you can take or leave. No reason to reboot, no reason to take itself so seriously, just make a good fucking comic, and the masses will come. Who knew, that quality sells?

The Golem of Gabirol – Olga Volozova - Bad Art – UNREADABLE WRITING

What the fuck Sparkplug? Did you print this shit up at kinkos? Not only is this comic printed way too dark at times, its FUCKING UNREADABLE. Lettering that fades to scribbles, art that looks like mashed potatoes and spilled ink and white out. Characters that are indistinguishable from one another, words coming from nowhere, saying things about Jewish mysticism that would be pretty enjoyable to read, if this was a comic that understood that I HAVE TO BE ABLE TO READ IT. I don’t think this comic’s story is bad, i don’t know if this story is good, i tried to read the whole thing, but by the end, i was just skipping pages. Sparkplug says its “A gorgeous tale from Olga Volozova, based on the legends of poet and scholar Solomon Ibn Gabirol. Crowded pages filled with breathlessly light linework and a touching, dreamlike narrative.”

Crowded: yes. BREATHLESSLY LIGHT? FUCK NO. No control whatsoever of her tools. And DREAMLIKE: YES, if you think dreams are a superior substitute to clear writing. Shit like this is what makes me so fucking angry at comics. There’s absolutely no standard. You can read Vortex which is also dream-like, and then read THIS, and somehow they both warrant publication? It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that a comic can’t be read. This book is a failure. It should be pulped. The artist should discover what one of her tools does, and then just use that one. Simply put, if you can’t draw, but can write, write a novel. If you can’t write, and can draw, draw artbooks. If you can’t do either, don’t make comics.

Part One! No more GTA! MOM! NOOO! – Unknown Seattle Based Artist, approx. 11 years old.

This comic, could teach Golem of Gabirol a thing or two. This creator is a little kid. I spoke to the kid for a few minutes, asked him what was the best thing he made. He recommended this dollar comic, that he folded himself. It’s simply an account of a bratty kid screaming about playing GTA V with his mother. And it is funny. Its mostly a lot of “BUT MOMMMMMM!!!!!!” that is pitch-perfect. “I WANNA KILL HOOKERZ!!!” When i see a kid, making comics, wanting to tell stories, this young, i know he’s got that fire. The fire that’s inside of us, that drives us to create. It’s wonderful, and i hope he never burns out. I hope he burns so bright, that one day, one day, i’ll tell him “The art sucks in this comic. Why was this even published?!” And he’ll burn that much brighter. Also, if anyone knows the artist, let me know. He didn’t sign his name. Total AMATEUR (just kidding. Stay Gold, Pony Boy)

That’s all for November. I’ve probably read more in this past month, than in the past six months. And overall, my opinion of comics, is that we strive to hit mediocrity so much, that we’ve become exhausted by our own laziness. Like when you’re laying in bed so long, you’re not even tired, its just you’ve atrophied all over. I believe in destruction, terror, and violence, because nothing motivates someone more than trying to prove another person wrong. Continue to prove me wrong. Only a few comics this month could be said to hit my ideals. So these are the best of NOVEMBER:

  1. FATA MORGANA – a beautiful Nemo in Slumberland hyperbright dream sequence artbook
  2. COPRA – More Kirby than Kirby imitators anyday
  3. POOR THING – Ren & Stimpy grossout evolution
  4. SEX CRIMINALS – mainstream style comic that is fun and sexy (rare)
  5. THE BOY IN QUESTION – simple story with good art, would love to read a more complex plot though

And the worst:

  1. BATMAN: BLACK & WHITE “Manbat” – Lose your job
  2. HARLEY QUINN #0 – Should be ashamed of yourself, but are probably really proud
  3. THE GOLEM OF GABIROL – Go back to school. No, not art school. This is where you learned this shit
  4. ST. OWL’s BAY – If all your peers are writing the same shit about getting high, why read this? Good art that is wasted on stupid juvenile writing. You’d have more fun getting high yourself.

Let’s see what December has in store.


Mega Comics Review pt 1. – November 2013

11:20 am in art,books,comics,conversations,reviews,Uncategorized Ulises Farinas

I went to this small press comics convention today, called SHORT RUN. I went with a friend, we had plans to do some other things, and was asking me how long we’d be in there. We stayed an hour and i saw too much. If you’ve been to one small press convention, you’ll see about a hundred cats that all got the same spots. I think a lot of people would at least say that they want EVERYONE to read comics, but when it looks like a cool kids club where your uniform is bad body odor, cat-eyed glasses for the ladies and stupid little hats for the boys, then you think they’d be satisfied with their friends reading it in the bathroom later that night.

Independent comics, self published comics, have the BEST opportunity to not only stand out from the crowd, but to appeal to a whole new crowd, and attempt to get them there. But the art is almost laughably identical. The artists look up at you with hungry eyes, soft-sells to buy their overpriced xerox comic, and all i can think was “Your shit looks like everything else here”

A few highlights of the show. It’s always good to see that the indie scene is almost 50% split on the gender front. Race-wise? Its whiter than the back of a map. It was free to get in, which is smart, and the size of the convention provided a good crowd to table ratio. Would i recommend going to it? No. Don’t table at any conventions, it’s a trap. But if you wanna buy a lot of self published comics that have shitty art and shittier writing, you can’t do any worse than that one. However, the comics i did buy, had a better ratio of things i liked than when browsing at a comic store. What does that say? I believe the best ideas will come from the self published crowd, if they could stop their daisy chain for a minute and actually care about increasing their skills. On to the comics reviews.

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This is one month of me doing comics reviews. After today’s review, i will see what the average rating of the lot of them was, partially as a snapshot into the quality of comics each month, and also as a snapshot of my own mood towards comics. It’s not scientific at all, because i can barely do math, so bear with me.

The end of the month was a big haul, so big, that some had to be left for next week. I’m changing the rating system slightly. It will still be TERRIBLE – CRAPPY – OK – GOOD – GREAT – AMAZING, but if there’s a significant quality difference between the art and the writing, i’ll indicate that. First off this week is

CAPTAIN AMERICA – WINTER SOLDIER vol 1 & 2. - Brubaker & Various Artists – OK

This was one of those comics that was a recommendation. Upon making one of my sweeping statements that there hasn’t been anything amazing in the last 20 years, this was offered as a possible candidate. Recommendations are awkward, because as much as you wanna believe that a person really thinks this is “AMAZING”, it’s very hard to ask them for another book recommendation when their definition of amazing basically amounts to “Decent art and a story that is cohesive and mildly entertaining” My bigger criticism though, is what i call PRAISE INFLATION. I think it’s a result of 1. an overly friendly professional community 2. no one actually is looking outside of comics for quality. I just came home from 12 years a slave, and that movie made me cry like a little bitch, really powerful, expertly acted and expertly filmed. EXPERT. Not DECENT. The distinction is important, and i guess when you’re eating so much shit, when you get a mouthful of froot loops, you’d believe it was fruit from the Garden of Eden.

Look upon that scene, and tell me that you can say that’s AMAZING in the same breath as you speak of CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER. Maybe i’m comparing apples to oranges, or maybe i’m comparing apples to froot loops. I got a simple barometer of taste “Did this provoke an emotion?” Was i excited? Saddened? Elated? Inspired? Or did i close the book, and think “meh”.

Brubaker really crafts a serious superhero action story, but most of it’s energy is spent trying its damndest to craft a slick thriller. It doesn’t work. You’re never in any doubt who is the assassin (Spoilers – IT’S BUCKY!), and you never are shown any real reason why this assassin is fucking with Captain America. And let me be clear, he really just fucks with him. Doesn’t kill him, doesn’t kill his friends, and all the mysterious mysteries don’t ever illuminate what the grand scheme of it all is. The nature of endless serialized superhero stories means that the writers NEVER have any balls. This comic has written on the back cover, “THE STATUS QUO SHATTERING SAGA”. Such bullshit. Not only is it not a saga, since it takes place within about a couple week’s time in-story, it’s not status quo shattering in the least. Everything remains the same as it began. The only people who get killed, you’ve only seen for one page or two. Any important characters are spared, uninjured, and continue the fight the next day. The solution to years and years of brain washing and war trauma, is Captain America makes a wish, and the Winter Soldier is Bucky again. It’s a bullshit solution to what was trying to be a smart comic. Brubaker REALLY tries to sell you on the idea that Captain America would put a 16 year old kid in harm’s way, specifically to do the dirty deeds in war. But you can’t have it both ways, you can’t present a realistic world with moral consequences, where the Captain is this paragon of virtue, and then have him easily convinced that “Yeah, sending a kid to do black ops is totally fine”

Its very clear here, where Marvel Movies get things right, because the idea of a sidekick is so outdated and frankly – STUPID, that they aged up Bucky in the films, so that you wouldn’t think “WTF CAPTAIN AMERICA” Honestly, if he didn’t want to be haunted by war crimes, he shouldn’t have enlisted child soldiers. That’s not a question Brubaker deals with, because fanboy nostalgia means you break your back to include the things you love, instead of trying to just write a damned good book. Its OKAY. If you want to see all the different ways that you and the Captain can make it happen, it’ll be a good read. If you actually want someone to change your mind on what is a great comic, this won’t be it.

SAGA vol. 1 – Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona StaplesGood Writing / Ok Art

I got mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, the pacing and character interactions are really sweet, and it was really brisk and easy to read. On the other hand, it started off pretty rough, and there were tons of characters that i could not care less about. Basically, any time one of those computer head characters were around, i just wanted to skip ahead. That, along with some pretty shitty world building, made me want to stop reading it. Little things like winged characters that live in a world with stairs and ladders. All of the science fiction elements were window dressing, and it probably would’ve been better served reducing a lot of those details. There’s this cliche galactic-wide war in the background, and i really didn’t care about any of it. The art can get reeeeally weak when it comes to the backgrounds, and i wish they hired another artist for that cause there’s not one background that’s more rendered than a few colorful brush strokes.

That being said, once the bounty hunters and forest Ghosts got involved, and the story was chugging along, those details could fade away and allow the character interactions to shine. This story actually seems to be much more like a fantasy, that happens to have science fiction elements; think Star Wars with more visible genitals and written/drawn by a creative team thats actually gotten laid a few times. The last 20 pages is what changed my mind on this comic, so hey, go check it out and see how you feel. I might even go actively follow where this story goes. I wouldn’t be surprised if this got adapted into a miniseries, because the dialogue is sharp like dat.

One nitpick – but i like to point it out, in every comic i see. There are two sex scenes in this comic, and one of them is an orgy. In this orgy, they are like five different couplings of female on female. You know how many depictions of male on male there are? None. In a galaxy far away, with sexy spider woman with bared breasts, and caterpillar whores, there’s not one dude who wants to suck dick. No. But lesbians aplenty. It’s really annoying that science fiction writers gotta be so fucking hetero all the time.*

*ASTONISHING DEVELOPMENT – So when looking for images for this article, i read that in a later issue of Saga, there is a scene of gay sex, but it’s on a tiny screen. I guess that’s better. Hip hip Hooray! Blowjobs equality!

Cartozia Tales – Various Writers & Artists - Good for Kids

You know how easy it is to get a good rating from me? Just throw in a good ol’ fashioned fantasy map. I go nuts for that kinda thing, and when i was a kid, i’d pour over the details of them. Anyway, this is an anthology, and so it’s hit or miss in some stories, but the tone is pretty consistent, and if i was a kid, i’d be inspired to draw my own Cartozia Tales. So good job Team Cartozia.

Island of Memory – T Edward Bak - OK writing / Good Art

I got this today at the Short Run comics thing, and honestly, i haven’t finished it. The art was pretty nice sometimes, like looking through a frosted glass, which compliments the icy setting it takes place in. But often times the writing was very stilted, but more so, i just felt kind of bored 3/4 of the way through. I kind of feel its a bit of the fault of the subject matter, which has a lot of period piece conversations and bunch of dudes lost up in the wintry wilderness. Boredom is maybe the worst enemy of any story, and i don’t fight it. There’s only so many hours in a day, and if i wanted to take a nap, i’d get in bed and close my eyes. Maybe i’ll finish this later, but i doubt it. I think i’d prefer to see another book by the artist, because i don’t doubt he could write something captivating, this just wasn’t it.

Thunder in the Building #2 – Margaret Ashford-Trotter - Ok to Bad Writing / Ok Art

This was the biggest disappointment of the entire haul. It read like you were walking in on the middle of conversations, catching glimpses of someone’s photo albums, and completely disconnected from “WHY SHOULD I CARE.” It’s not that the writing was bad, it just was in service of nothing. Some girl and boy hit a dude by accident once, and then she got cheated on? or Did that happen first? Then she reports the crime? Or was that in the past? There’s so much time jumping, with no indication of what time has passed, that its extremely chaotic and just leaves you feeling lost. The art is really plain. Like plain like that movie She’s All That. It could be beautiful, but its just so obnoxiously plain, you feel it had to be intentional. It doesn’t do the story any favors, the whole thing is like receiving a box of broken crackers. They are plain, they taste the same as normal crackers, but i don’t fucking want broken crackers. This won a xeric grant. My reaction to this comic is best summed up with an emoticon. :-/

Harley Quinn #0 – Various Crap – Terrible Writing / Useless Art

You shouldn’t write meta fiction if you’re an idiot. I don’t even got much to say, besides the usual DC diatribes. But this comic, each page is a new artist. Perhaps, with all these different artists, and 22 pages, the writer could think of a better idea than “OH I GOT IT! ON THIS PAGE, SHE SHOOTS EVERYONE!” But that’s almost every page. Every joke. Every wink at the audience. It’s like watching a bad impersonation of George W. Bush. You know the president was an idiot to begin with, but someone poorly impersonating an idiot, is somehow even more pathetic. If they wanted to be meta, here’s a good idea for Harley Quinn #0: Don’t print any art, simply apply the cover to a roll of toilet paper, and never wipe your ass with it. You wouldn’t want to give DC any of your best ideas.

The Reach of the Mind – Sam BellNonexistent Writing / Good Art

I’ve been considering writing separate reviews for Artbooks. So many comics i read, especially indie comics, are so devoid of story, as to be simply sequential art books. This doesn’t really bother me, if the art is really interesting. And this comic was pretty satisfying. Gorey as all hell, but some rendering that is sometimes gloriously incomprehensible. I wonder what it’d look like with color. Anyway, if you like gnarly skateboard deck crazy shit, read this comic.

Vortex – William Cardini - GOOD (same as above)

Taking a different approach, definitely more digital dot-matrix, but equally bizarre and black & white as The Reach of the Mind. This comic also, enjoyable art, but music-video level story telling. Which one did i like better? Probably Vortex, mostly cause it was cleaner and the artist seemed much more confident of the images he was making. That panel above was the bees knees, and just a nice little moment. Little still moments like that are where comics prevail, and this comic has lots of cool brain bending spots, so i’d definitely keep reading this series, i think its up to #4 now.

Okay, there’s a few more, but i’m tired and running out of space, stay tuned for my PICK OF THE MONTH : POOR THING by DREW MILLER

 

 


 


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