June 23, 2014

Summer Time Reading

9:04 pm in comics,illustration,reviews,zines Ulises Farinas

I’ve been reading some crazy good stuff lately. When i go to a comic book store nowadays, i think “Hey, if i’ve been this harsh with comics for so long, maybe i should just give up on comics like how some dads give up on their other family.” Like a sick part of my brain, wants to buy comics just to hate on some shit, but like a lot of comics don’t even inspire hate. You ever hear something described as so ‘meh’ its ‘meh’? That’s what’s mostly everything, you don’t even wanna review it, you just want your time back. But you can’t ever get that time back, and why waste time not being passionate. I love haters, i love lovers, i even respect a motherfucker who tells me that they LOVED Man of Steel. Shit, i can’t take that away from you, no matter how many times i tell you you’re wrong. You are wrong, you should not like that movie. But even myself, i’ve watched Man of Steel like 3 times now, and it’s fun to hate. It is inspiring. It is inspiring in the same way as Shia LaBeouf’s face is inspiring to punch.

So i’ve changed my approach. I’m no longer getting random comics from Floating World, i’m no longer even really caring what the words on the page say. Truth to be told, the writing is usually the weakest part of a comic. Writers are like grilled cheese instructors. Some dudes need instructions to make a grilled cheese. Do you put the butter on the pan first or on the bread? How many slices of cheese? But the artist is the one who brings the ingredients and puts them together. I’m not saying all writers are this lame (i’m not contractually obligated to say NOT MY WRITERS, but i’m gonna say NOT MY WRITERS, cause i really like working with Douglas Wolk, Joe Casey, and Erick Freitas – shout outs), but a lot of writers could use a refresher course on not being lamer than the end of a horse racing movie. I only go looking for that high level, pure shit. Art that makes me regret leaving it in the store. Art that makes me feel small, makes me feel stupid, makes me feel like if they ever dated a girlfriend of mine, i’d know i couldn’t measure up. So this is the stuff i’ve been pretty happy to read.

I’ll start with the floppies, which i mostly avoid.

Star Slammers by Walt Simonson

So who doesn’t like some Walt Simonson. I found the story nearly incomprehensible, these are like a race of mercenaries, the BEST mercenaries, and they can just beat up everyone. I read this nearly at the same time i read the Metabarons, and they are almost identical in the way they approach this race of bad-asses. I don’t know if its a swipe or whatever, probably someone who reads a lot more comics can nerd me out on this, but its basically a whole race of perfect superdudes. Kind of if you liked Thor, Superman, etc. but thought they needed more guns and klingon style dialogue. But the art is pretty star slamming. Something about those fat lines, the little ink scratches on the edges of armor, the stippling and kirby krackle, you can understand how this style evolved into the “put scratches on all textures and faces to look cool” style of the 90’s.

This is your fault Simonson – just kidding, i love Liefeld

So the whole thing has got that retro appeal, with ridiculous costumes that don’t look ridiculously bad. Its strange, you see all the weird knee pads, shoulder pads, gauntlets and helmets, and you just think “That works.” I don’t know why even Kirby’s giant Galactus Helmet works, but they are so outlandish that they just read as “legendary”. With superheroes, there’s like an uncanny valley with costumes. Very close to something we can make/buy ourselves, we accept it. Something that goes to the other extreme, that’s cool too. But that weird spot in the middle, just looks like bizarro pajamas. Compare movie Thor to movie Superman –

Magic Science Armor

Magic Science Onesie

The most impressive part of the art is some truly innovative panel layouts. The scene where all the warriors are trying to mind link, is done with these fractured layered panel grids, some of which are full-white out until they finally unify as one connected mind, on this perfect grid. It looks like it would inspire a hundred imitators to do poor imitations of this sublimely simple device. Remember, everything you love about comics, you’ll eventually see a shitty version of. Star Slammers was fun, even with its goofy story, and i love the proto-Warhammer 4o,000 designs.

The next floppy i picked up was that latest She Hulk #5 by Charles Soule and Ron Wimberly.

The cover alone is worth the price of admission, by Kevin Wada

I’ve read the previous issue, and Soule’s got some light elegant writing. I ain’t mad if i keep reading this, but i’m not reading cheap tricks to try to force drama or write so little story i have to buy the next issue. Half these comics nowadays feel like they are asking you to deposit 50 more cents to finish your phone call with a sex line. You’re always just so close to being satisfied before the writer starts acting coy again. Just giving me the damn story in 22 pages or less, is that so hard? Last issue of She Hulk, she’s rumbling with Dr. Doom, and it was funny and She Hulk brings more than just punch punch pow to every situation. Same here with #5, which is illustrated by the ever-kinetic Ron Wimberly.  I don’t know why everything is done with a fish eye lens, but i like it, and it makes you feel like you’re watching the dopest Busta Rhymes video featuring Marvel Superheroes. Even a scene of She Hulk and the Shocker having some chinese food is infused with a cool energy.

He’s got that head nod shit, that makes you break your neck. Woo-Hah! He’s got you all in check

On to the next one – Batman Incorporated #13 by Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham

It took me awhile to actually finish reading this one, even though its a year old. There was some shit about Talia Al-Ghul, their son, blowing up Gotham Tower, tearing up Gotham City, blah blah blah, It wasn’t actually very interesting. It almost felt like Morrison was tired of writing this story, cause it wasn’t so much an epic conclusion than just a “I’m gonna leave the bathroom cause i can’t shit anymore, but i still feel like i have to shit”. But don’t let this get you down, cause i got this for Burnham.

Lately i’ve been seeing a lot of Mike Allred, and it’s like i’ve hit an over saturation point with his work. It’s not that i think he’s a bad artist, i think his stuff is great, but it feels like it’s gone as far as it can go. If i’ve seen one faux-retro Allred piece i’ve seen them all. The colors, the lines, every human face. Why am i talking about this? Because i remember when i first saw Chris Burnham’s work, and my first thought was to dismiss him as a Quitely clone. I wasn’t into it, like someone switched my mayo for miracle whip. But he’s an artist that i think has more ahead of them than behind them. I really like his work now, and part of that is that it keeps looking fresh. For a Batman comic, which is always so deadly serious, its nice to see a sense of fun. Here’s a world where a dude has made a whole gang of Bat-dudes. It’s like watching that Warriors movie. The faces are gnarly, and that scene above, feels closer to the tone of the sixties Batman show, than any of the Batman ’66 comics i’ve read.  Chris Burnham is more Allred than Allred at this point, and it’s only because Burnham isn’t getting comfortable. Below is a variant cover for Aquaman, in which Allred simply swiped images for underwater creatures from google imaes. Go ahead, google “megamouth shark” “frilled shark” and “hydrothermal worm”, its like he copied and pasted them on to the page. This is still a cool cover, but you can see that the least amount of effort has gone into it. Swiping is only cool if it says something about what you just swiped or you transform it enough, otherwise you’re just being lazy. I hate lazy artists. I really like Chris Burnham. Since its a year old this comic, i should see where he’s at now.

Swampson by Bjorn Daniel Miner

Bjorn gave me this comic at a signing. It is a pretty little package, thin and hefty. When i see work like this, it makes me proud of all the artists who are striving to make comics. Most of the time, all i feel is anger at going to a small press show, and table after table has identical looking work. They’ve all figured out that most of their currency will be in trades, so everyone’s trying to get rid of their hyper-inflated currency. Its three short stories, all of which have some pretty funny moments, without having to resort to drug and/or genital references to get its edgy laughs. Its refreshing to read an indie humor comic that’s not trying to fulfill all of Vice Magazine’s editorial mandates (Please add someone on the toilet, please add crude sexual antics, please write something that will be offensive on tumblr).

The best story is the one about the jerkwad kid trying to get into the main characters’ tree house. The Jerkwad isn’t entirely unsympathetic, but he goes to pretty disturbing extremes to get what he wants. I remember when my brother and I were kids, we had a neighbor who was our enemy. We never walked past each other without yelling at him, and vice versa. But we could never understand why the kid would pull his penis out at us. The kid would drop his pants and swing his dick around, and we’d be disgusted and tell him that he’s gross. This is how the stories in Swampson feel, you don’t know why they are doing this, and kids often have the most mysterious motivations, but it all makes sense to them. Bjorn ties it all up though, and it never feels like he’s just writing stream of consciousness comics. The stories are dreamy and strange, but the writing is on point.

Adventures of a Japanese Businessman by Jose Domingo

This is probably the best comic i’ve read in months. A static panel layout, and within there’s the craziest adventures of a static character. If you’ve ever played the videogame Katamari Damacy, you’ll know the joy of turning a corner and finding some strange scene playing out that you could not imagine. The colors are so vivid, and the movement through the world is so animated, it made me want to stop what i’m doing and draw a comic in this same format. I want this to be a genre of comics in itself, something everyone tries their hand at, just to see what they come up with when they only impose the fewest rules on themselves, but follow them strictly. The book, published by NoBrow, is also a beautiful object in itself, with a hard cover and spot gloss. Really, you should have this in your collection, because it’s a book you’ll keep coming back to for inspiration.

Metabarons by Jodorowsky & Jimenez

Steelhead with a new head

This is one of those comics that i’ve been meaning to read for a long time. You know, one of those things you’re embarrassed to say you haven’t read? This is it. I finally got a chance to pick it up, and it is as beautiful as everyone says. Its like if Star Slammers started working out one summer, lost all its baby fat, and the next time you saw him, you’re all like “Daaaaayum!” But the story leaves something to be desired. It’s mostly repetitive like the bible. This dude begot that dude, this person slept with this person and begot this person. There’s incest, father-son rivalries, and the women are there to just keep the genes going. I didn’t care that the story wasn’t mind-blowing, because the art often was. Alien vistas, strange civilizations and awesome mega-violence that never lets up for hundreds of pages. The sheer size of the thing is impressive alone, and i wouldn’t be surprised if this didn’t have its own religion in 100 years. At least it wouldn’t result in wimpy Jedi-faith followers cosplaying in bathrobes.

Finally, the last great book i got, wasn’t a comic, but a book of Maps by by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski

I always say that my biggest influence in my life, when i started out drawing, were children’s books. Children’s books have an efficiency to them. It becomes impossible to find what you’re looking for on wikipedia or google, because you’re not allowed to browse or aimlessly explore. Children’s books provide an entry way to a billion concepts, without being overwhelming. Perfect clarity is necessary for a simple understanding, and simplicity encourages further exploration. Combining maps with hundreds of adorable illustrations related to each place is the perfect introduction to a new world. A world that we live in and never know enough about. For seasoned pros or new creators, this book is a must have for anyone who loves maps, world building, and history.

All of these comics and books i was happy to have read, because each one has planted seeds in my head for my own art. What if i draw maps more like the Mizielinskas, or how do i refine my work to Juan Gimenez’s level? The energy of Wimberly, or the playfulness of Burnham? I never review comics for other people, those reviews are always in my head. My harsh approach is universal, because it must inform my own work. A lot of conversations about criticism are always demanding GOOD CRITICISM, and i’ve read more effective criticism about criticism than i’ve read of actual criticism. It’s all pretty circle-jerky. But what is criticism for me? It’s just a way of putting in words, not what i want from the comics medium, but what i want from myself. All the hate and harshness, all the praise and pleasure – Its just a letter from my future self. People get the impression that i think i’m the best there is, but doing most creative work, often feels isolating and depressing. You’re doing all this work, for what? Because there’s an 85 year old man, somewhere in the future, who is everything i want to be. I’ll never become that man if i don’t believe that he’s better than i’ll ever be, or that comics can be better than we ever expected.

Thanks for reading.

previously appeared on The Idol Box 


April 18, 2014

Punching a Woman in the Face

5:14 am in comics,community,conversations,reviews Ulises Farinas

And then she rapes you.

Recently, there’s been another outrage outburst in the comics community. A woman criticized a sorta shitty comic cover, and naturally, she was threatened with rape. It feels pretty disgusting to write ‘naturally’, but sadly, that’s where we are at as a society. But just as naturally as guys throw around rape threats on the internet, then came the tweets, the blogs, the facebook comments. It seems now is the time, i’m serious guys! Lets start calling out when dudes we know do this! No quarter will be given to the sexists, the douchebags, the white cis male comic reader mouth breather! NOW IS THE TIME!

Give me a fucking break.

This shit is happening on the regular. And you know why it’s happening, cause it goes all the way to the top. We aren’t passive participants, we aren’t victims of rape culture, the comics industry is a manufacturer of rape culture. We’re expected to call out some losers on our news feed, with the naive hope that this will be the change that is needed. But this is what is what we sell, who pays our bills, who we give interviews for, watch his shows:

invincible026
The explanations, the accomodations, the rationalization has already poured in. This is a rape of A MAN, so it’s turning the whole “Superhero Rape” cliche on his head. Nice Try. This is why men yell rape. Because it isn’t real to them.

Invincible #110 begins with some superboy coming back from being presumed dead, and his girlfriend is pregnant, and she’s breaking up with him, cause his superhero life is TOO MUCH for her. Single tears are drawn, hands being pulled away, a pretty white girl is pregnant and her life might be hard! And Superboy type dude just. can’t. handle. it. Then he flies away to cry, cause THIS IS A SERIOUS STORY! Please ignore the spandex, they are REAL CONSEQUENCES IN INVINCIBLE. And a super hot sexy superwoman decides to have sex with him, and so she rapes him.

You see, a steady stream of garbage like this, is what a man is fed from day one. Rape doesn’t happen to nice girls, to pretty girls, to your best friend, to your family, in your family. According to TV, and movies, and comics, men have been taught their whole lives that rape doesn’t really happen at all. Men don’t know what rape is, even when they are raping a woman.

.. I say “Kiss it a little,” she says “No, all the massage oil is on it” and I take the back of her head and I push it down on my d**k and she doesn’t do it. And I say “Open your mouth, open your mouth,” and she does it and I start facef**king her.”

That is David Choe describing consensual oral sex from a masseuse. That is just another dude, some artist, who painted murals at the Facebook offices, living his life, 100% believing that holding the back of a woman’s head, in a private situation, and forcing his penis in her mouth, is not rape. If that’s what we’re dealing with, what do you think legions of comics fans think of rape, when it’s simply another plot point?

“Why should murder be so over-represented in our popular fiction, and crimes of a sexual nature so under-represented? Surely it cannot be because rape is worse than murder, and is thus deserving of a special unmentionable status. Surely, the last people to suggest that rape was worse than murder were the sensitively reared classes of the Victorian era … And yet, while it is perfectly acceptable (not to say almost mandatory) to depict violent and lethal incidents in lurid and gloating high-definition detail, this is somehow regarded as healthy and perfectly normal, and it is the considered depiction of sexual crimes that will inevitably attract uproars of the current variety.” – Alan Moore


Alan Moore, despite his cantankerous perceived personality, is still considered one of the greats in comics. And who’s calling him out? Last book he had published, was by what? Top Shelf right? His career is where he wants it to be. Yet, for him, rape is just another plot point.

When you’ve learned all your moral lessons from spandex-clad ubermensches, who never die, who are always resurrected, you can’t honestly say that “murder” is what we are seeing when we read comic book deaths. We are simply seeing a character take a break for awhile. But when you draw a person being raped, you can’t say it’s just another crime. People don’t live with murder. Although it may seem strange, when real people are raped, they have to live with it for the rest of their lives. You don’t just get to pull a Jean Grey and come back as a new character after a couple months.

But we want our cake and eat it too. Comics blogs want their interviews with Robert Kirkman, they want their sound bites from Alan Moore, aspiring artists want their chance at the next hit image book, and aspiring writers need that pull quote. Yeah, go ahead, and call out the 14 year old loser on your news feed. That ain’t gonna change shit. You spend 10 minutes at the next convention, and you tell me how many maxim magazine style pin ups you see. But you can’t call that out, dude just loves the female form. You read about “cosplay is not consent” but these barely clothed superheroines were manufactured without consent. It’s only a matter of time before they become just another sexual object in the comic, to be punched, to be ogled, to be sexualized, then victimized, then forgotten. How can we have a conversation about how dudes act at conventions, when every comic they read teaches them that women are simply tits & ass and if they aren’t asking for it, they didn’t say no either. A convention is akin to a strip club, but strip clubs at least have a very strict hands-off policy. But we can’t admit that we’ve created a strip club, so we won’t admit we need a hands off policy. There’s no bouncers at conventions, only creators and their fanboys who’ve carved out one of the last few bastions of pure male power. Don’t you dare challenge it.

The indie scene is much better, simply because its independence has allowed it to exist apart from the parasitic environment where one denounces rape culture, while giving interviews to Scott Lobdell, Brian Wood, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Robert Kirkman, Geoff Johns, Mark Millar the next week. When an argument about whether wonder woman wears pants or not is considered ‘feminist’, and where artists argue whether highly stylized figure drawings are anatomically correct. Who gives a fuck about the boob size of a teenager, when criticizing anatomy totally misses the god damn point. The titanic is sinking, but we’re talking about a cracked window and not the giant gash pouring ice water into the ship. Teenagers have large breasts, and small breasts, and some have breast implants too – the problem is the comics industry is controlled by large dudes, and small dudes, and right now, its women, that are the breast implants. That is, they are the odd man out. They are the thing that we say we love, we love our “strong female characters” which are all pretty, skinny, white, sassy, Scarlett Johanssons with no muscle definition, sexy, sex symbols, but OMG, SHE IS SO EMPOWERING.


Its like breast implants. We pretend to love them, but actual breasts, the ones that come in weird shapes and sizes. The a-symmetrical breasts, the areolas that are too dark, the stretch marks, or the blue veins, the breasts that aren’t the same since i lost weight. Ain’t no one wanna see that. We congratulate our male writers, editors, artists for giving us just enough, while they can still masturbate all the way to the bank, secure in the fact that they are still attracted to the women they write.

And that’s the rub. Women aren’t human to comics creators, to comics fans, to most men. Women are this subspecies of man. And the man’s gotta be in charge, gotta be on top. Why are we so surprised, that men who read these male-power fantasies, completely lose their shit when their power is threatened? What’s the thing that most dudes are most insecure about? Their goddamn dick size. And what’s the thing that men use to prove their power over others? Their goddamn dick size. The powerless man is a subspecies of man – a woman. A powerless man is a sissy, a bitch, a fag, a cocksucker, a queer. So when a man loses his power, all he’s got is the only thing he’s ever known. He better fuck something.

A man tells a woman he’ll rape her because its the only thing left where he can still have power. You ain’t gonna shame no dude into stop doing that. Shame is exactly why he does it. Dude knows exactly how offensive he is being. And if it offends his dude friends? They think, “That’s cause they’re little bitches too, so fuck them. I bet they can’t get laid, so they just pretend to be feminists to hang out with chicks.” Teach men not to rape is one of the most useless ideas, not because it’s not true, but because your target audience has learned just the opposite. The modern man is at an impasse. They don’t know what rape is, except from what they’ve learned from TV, comics and movies. They know that its extremely shocking, and so they can always rely on it to end the conversation. And they know they are losing their future.

Teach men not to rape? Too late. A rapist is a friend, a brother, a father, a cousin, a step dad. They truly believe they have never raped anyone. Those steubenville kids? Remember that they began crying only after they were put on trial. It was all fun and games before then. Call out your friends, fans, who make rape threats? No, call out the creators that keep making rape stories cause they figured out it gets them on the front page of comic book resources, bleeding cool, etc. etc.

These fans do not exist as an anomaly. They like what we make. We write stories that make them believe that rape is just no big deal. Dude, its a comic, don’t take it so seriously.

Invincible punches a woman in a face, then gets an erection, then is raped. Yeah, it’s the fans that are the problem.

previously published on the Idol Box


February 27, 2014

Non-Review Review – February 2014

10:32 am in comics,community,conversations,reviews,Uncategorized Ulises Farinas

In case anyone is wondering where the comic reviews have been. It took me about 2 months to get exhausted reading comics. Its exhausting to sift through so much coal, and find that you’re trying to make diamonds yourself, trying so hard to find the good in all of them. I’d read about 5 comics at a time, maybe finish a trade paper back, and i’d find myself struggling to not be thoroughly MEH on everything. Like i’ve found a basket of oranges, but they are so old, they’ve dried out, and are hard as rock. The surface that is facing me is a bright orange, but you turn one over and find a forest of fuzzy mold in their shadow.

It’s pretty exhausting to get recommendation after recommendation, only to find that people have become so used to, so invested into believing that their cherished medium is so valuable, that the only reason its still floating is on the hot air of praise of an entire comics structure that is incapable of self-reflection.

The comics journalists, they need to maintain good relations with the comics publishers. The comics artists need to keep good relations with each other. The comics editors need to justify their existence. The comics writers need to assert their ability. Its not that the Emperor has no clothes, its Adam and Eve, ignorant of their own nakedness. Meanwhile, the shelves are lined with colored paper, no more worth while than colored paper.

What’s their to review? I’m not sure if i’m gonna stop 100%, or if i’ll stop at all. But I remember times, where i had a girlfriend, and of course, you want to share your interests. They’d make an honest effort, pick up a few comics, read them fairly regularly. All the while, i could see, that they were mostly just doing it for me. I’ve never made much of an effort to read comics regularly, but now i feel like i have more of a reason not to read comics regularly.  Pretending i was a new reader of comics, only ended the illusion that i actually am a fan of comics.  I like comics, i love comics – specific comics, particular comics. But saying i love comics, all comics, is like saying i love chinese food when all i ever order is General Tso’s. American Comics are the takeout equivalent of chinese cuisine. I pick up a book made by anyone outside of america, and i might not like it, but the things i don’t like about it don’t start at the bottom of the barrel.

I review comics like i’m working on the railroad, and i’m hammering all the live long day. But i’m not hammering hard nails into hard wood, sturdy and strong, ready to carry some Story Trains to gold paradise. I’m insane, i’m a crazy motherfucker punching a muddy floor. There’s no nails, no wood, no steel. Just slop and shit and dying things, and i want to believe that i can build something out of that slop. It can’t be built. I can dry those shit cakes in the sun, and make a shit castle, but the majority of what i have read, was like seeing a piece of glass in a pile of garbage and pretending i found diamonds.

Mediocrity is rewarded in comics. No, not rewarded. Mediocrity is incredibly sustained. Whether its writer’s getting exclusive contracts, to make any kinda shit they want. Or its editors who provide no insight, no comments, nothing but their name on the book and a paycheck from your work. Or its artists who get no credit, shit pay, and no time. Its a system that isn’t doomed to fail, and i wish it would, but it’s better described as Homer’s bobbing bird:

Do nothing, add nothing, take no chances, keep the wheels turning, keep the bird bobbing. I can’t read book after book, that has no inspiration. Where every fucking convention announcement is treated like Moses coming down from Mt.Sinai. These aren’t the stone tablets, we ain’t got no Moses. What we do have, is the golden fucking calf.

All our comics, we’ve built up into an empty idol, and i go and read other reviews. After i review a comic, i go and see what other dudes and dudettes are saying, just so i can get some kind of context for what i’ve just experienced. I don’t really care to see if someone liked or didn’t like what i liked or didn’t like. Cause honestly, a lot of this is subjective taste. The reason i read other reviews, is because critical thinking should operate from a certain standpoint. We all gotta be speaking the same language, understanding how a story works, characterization, that kinda shit. And when i go and read other reviews, it quickly becomes clear that IT JUST DOESN’T HAPPEN. There are no ten commandments. There’s no one talking about story, why Batman is doing something Batman-ish. Just because we all understand the archetype doesn’t mean you get to get away with brooding for 172 pages cause THATS JUST HOW HE IS. Do you know how many superhero comics have basically just skipped any kind of character development? How many comics have basically abandoned any kind of narrative structure and called it ‘serialization’ and ‘decompression?’

How many reviews are unwritten right now? Already preformed, just looking for the right moment to burst forth. You don’t have to wait, i can write them for you. “TREES by ELLIS IS A SCIENCE FICTION TOUR DE FORCE,” You see, I’m not even saying that Trees will be a bad book, or a good book, or a great book, or any kind of book. But i can guaran-damn-tee it, that it doesn’t matter, there won’t be any reviewer, journalist, comics blog, podcast, that doesn’t hedge their bets, that doesn’t watch their tone, that doesn’t say flat out “Yeah, this doesn’t work” Every word in comics journalism has to pay for itself, and every comics professional only talks to the comics journalists that will help them pay their bills. The interests of the two parties are so inextricably linked, the persons involved so codependent, that we should just give up the facade and just make a central comics news node, we can call it “PRESS RELEASE DROPBOX”

So i’m just tired. I’ve read a lot of times, “Don’t be so negative. Its better to spend your energy on your own work,” In a way, they are right. But it’s not that it takes energy to be negative. That shit is automatic. A negative feeling is an automatic reaction to trying your best, to find the best in a medium you’re supposed to love. It takes energy to TRY to love something. It takes energy to pretend that you like comics like everyone else does. It takes energy to explain that you’re not just trolling, you’re not just hating. I went and saw that movie Robocop. The Remake. Yes, that one. I saw a lot of hubbub about how “It shouldn’t even have been made!” And it takes energy to pretend that this movie, this by-the-numbers action flick, isn’t just as good as that Rocket Girl comic. I’m not knocking that Rocket Girl comic. It’s one of the last comics i read in the last month. But let’s not sit on our high horses, and believe that some B-movie remake into another B-movie is somehow at a lower level than our B-comics. Cool Special Fx – Check. Some moments of good dialogue – Check. Light Social Commentary – Check. Which story am i talking about? You decide!

It takes energy to be disappointed.

I’m not gonna make comics better by bathing in mud. Comics aren’t gonna get better. I don’t want to read any work of my peers, i only read to learn and i ain’t got nothing to learn from them. Bunch of 30 year olds who had better ideas when they were 12. 50 year old who act like they are 25. 60 year olds who aint got shit to offer. 20 year olds with dreams ready to be crushed. Infinite Blandness.

A desert of corn flakes. A dessert of corn flakes.

I leave you with some words taken from Tupac,

Dying inside, but outside you’re looking fearless
While tears, is rollin down your cheeks
Ya steady hopin things don’t all down this week
Cause if it did, you couldn’t take it, and don’t blame me
I was given this world I didn’t make it

 


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 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.


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