December 2, 2013

Say goodbye to Picturebox!

8:20 pm in art,cartoons,comics,design,product,zines dustin hostetler

Picturebox publisher Dan Nadel¬†has announced he is getting out of the publishing industry. While it’s a sad day for comic book, zine & art collectors, Dan is significantly discounting everything on the web store. Support your collecting habit, and help Dan unload some of his back catalog.


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 If you don’t think your vision works as a floppy, do not publish it as a floppy.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.


.@matthunsberger

10:06 pm in art,design,illustration dustin hostetler

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More work can be found here: matthunsberger.com


The day Barney the dinosaur was killed

9:14 pm in cartoons,dreaming,video,weird dustin hostetler

November 27, 1997


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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