Monday, October 31, 2005

Review: Peculia and the Groon Grove Vampires

Peculia and the Groon Grove VampiresPeculia and the Groon Grove Vampires
by Richard Sala
Fantagraphics, $9.95

Richard Sala has a wonderful way of combining spooky and fun, and in no place is this tendency on better display than with his stories staring Peculia.

In Peculia and the Groon Grove Vampires, the title character falls in with a bunch of other teenage girls who are off to babysit for a family. But of course the family are vampires! What follows are a series of escapades of blood sucking and narrow escapes.

It's a testament to how well Sala develops Peculia's character that I didn't notice on a first read-through just how little dialogue she has. It's all in the reactions she has to the other characters.

How many times have I said 'spooky' and 'fun' in this review? Plenty of times, but here's one more: Peculia and the Groon Grove Vampires is spooky fun, and an enjoyable read!

Rating: 4 (of 5)

SNAP! Pics

Phoebe Gloeckner has a photo set of pics she took at SNAP! on Satuday.

(No captions though, so except for a couple of pics I'm unsure as to who is who...)

New Library Comics: Week of October 24, 2005

Here are the comics we got in for our library collection last week:

Hernandez, Jaime. Locas : the Maggie and Hopey stories. /Seattle, WA : Fantagraphics Books, 2004.

Kim, Derek Kirk. Same difference and other stories /Marietta, GA : Top Shelf Productions, 2004.

Kochalka, James. The cute manifesto /Gainesville, Fla. : Alternative Comics ; London : Diamond [distributor], 2005.

Pictures and words : new comic art and narrative illustration /London : Laurence King, 2005.

Rosenkranz, Patrick. Rebel visions : the underground comix revolution, 1963-1975 /Seattle, WA : Fantagraphics Books, 2002.

Sabisch, Ingrid. Albrecht Durer : vom Handwerker zum Kunstler und Gelehrten /Heroldsberg : Verlag die Heldin, 2003.

Tezuka, Osamu, 1928-1989. Buddha /New York, NY : Vertical, 2003- v. 5-6

Tomorrow, Tom, 1961- Penguin soup for the soul /New York : St. Martin's Griffin, 1998.

Tomorrow, Tom, 1961- Tune in Tomorrow /New York : St. Martin's Press, 1994.

Tomorrow, Tom, 1961- When penguins attack! /New York : St. Martin's Griffin, 2000.

Tomorrow, Tom, 1961- The wrath of Sparky /New York : St. Martin's Griffin, 1996.

Vescovo, Matthew. The life and death of bling bling : a story of innovation, proliferation, regurgitation, commercialization and bastardization /[New York, NY : Instructoart Book Associates, c2004.]

Woodring, Jim. Seeing things /Seattle, WA : Fantagraphics Books, 2005.

SNAP! Day 2: Halloween

Continuing my week-long look at comics I picked up at Saturday's SNAP! With Halloween just a couple of days away, I couldn't resist picking up a few related minis:

S.N.A.P. DecisionWhen technical difficulties prevented Ben T. Steckler (aka BenT) from debuting a new mini-comic at the show, he came up with a new idea: he put together three quickie spooky-themed one-page fold-overs and packaged them into a Halloween treat bag as S.N.A.P. Decision. Short fun is to be had in Dead Man Walkin', Halloween Stinks!, and Bat Jam (excerpt below).

Small Feather BatI already sang the praises of Pam Bliss yesterday, so it should be no surprised that her mini-comic Small Feather Bat was a lot of fun. It has dogs, cute little bats, and a werewolf librarian.

A Yearly TreatFinally, Sean Frost & Wendi Strang-Frost's A Yearly Treat is a six-page color chapbook ghost story of trick-or-treaters and that one house that no one goes up to, unless it's on a dare... Not only does the story do a good job at getting in and setting the mood and telling a story, but the art is quite accomplished too. This Hula Cat Comics production is a winner.

That's it for the Halloween-themed comics. More SNAP! finds tomorrow!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

SNAP! Day 1: Monkey Covers

Over the next several days I'll be going over the various comics I picked up at SNAP!, which was held yesterday in Dearborn, MI.

Since it's Sunday, I thought I'd kick things off with comics with monkeys on the cover. Because there's nothing better than a comic with a monkey on the cover!

Jungle LoveFirst up we have Jungle Love, a chapbook by Joanna Estep. Monkeys don't play a prominent role in this adorable tale, but they hang around the edges and add a bit of metaphorical flavor. Estep's take is light on dialogue, but she is able to tell her story through largely through the visuals. She's providing the art for the upcoming TokyoPop OEL title Roadsong; the first volume is out in January (and in Previews now, so tell your LCS you want it!)

Purple GorillaNext is Pam Bliss's Purple Gorilla. This 48-page mini-comic is chock full of fun, including the title story which is printed on purple paper in the middle. Bliss is one of the all-time greats in the mini-comic world, and Purple Gorilla continues the fun that she is known for. If you've never read anything by Pam Bliss, you owe it to yourself to do so immediately. (Her Dog & Pony Show collection is a good place to start.)

From the Desk of Business Chimp
Finally there's From the Desk of Business Chimp, which is actually a tip-in comic by Sean Bieri included with his Jape vol. 2 #1 mini-comic. It's a short series of one-panel gags which are both funny and melancholy, and will be appreciated knowlingly by anyone who has worked in an office. Sean has been doing mini-comics for about fifteen years now, and is another creator with whom you should acquaint yourself.

(standard disclaimer about gorillas & chimps not really being monkeys applies)

Okay, that wraps things up for today. I'll be back tomorrow with more of my finds from the first ever SNAP!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Quick OEL Manga Reviews

War on Flesh, vol. 1
by Justin Boring, Greg Hildebrandy, & Tim Smith 3

The opening chapter of this GN--in which martial-arts monks take on a bunch of zombies--sounds like great high concept fun, but instead comes off as a pointless, confusing mess. Fortunately it gets a bit better in the later (mostly unrelated) chapters, as a desperate father make a deal with Evil Forces to bring his son back from the dead. The son, it turns out, is destined to become a key player in the enigmatic War on Flesh. It turns out to be a more-or-less competant story of voodoo zombies, and if that's your thing you may find War on Flesh enjoyable. But with other, better zombie comics out there, you can probably get your zombie fix elsewhere.

Rating: 2 (of 5)

I Luv Halloween, vol. 1
by Keith Giffen & Benjamin Roman

I Luv Halloween has a warped, twisted and dark sense of humor, centering around kids going trick-or-treating on Halloween and doing some Very Bad Things. There's Moochie, the young girl who dresses up as the Tooth Fairy, who finds a discarded brassiere and uses it as a slingshot and a garrote to kill two neighborhood bullies. She and her brother Finch live seemingly unsupervised in an abandoned house, with only the decaying corpses of the former occupants to keep them company. There's also Devil Boy, the kid who only shows up every Halloween to go trick-or-treating. And a zombie dog. Events spiral out of control into an evening of violence and blood and death. It's all rather well done, with appropriately twisted art from Roman and Giffen in his Lobo-esque ultrviolent humor mode, applied to kids who aren't quite old enough to understand the lack of morality of their actions. This book will definitely appeal to a certain type of reader, and if any of the events I described here sound interesting, then that type of reader is probably you. Conversely, if you're not that type of reader, you'll probably be best off staying far away.

Rating: 3 (of 5)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

SNAP! is Saturday

A reminder that we in Southeast Michigan get our very own mini/indy/small press comic show this Saturday: SNAP! The Comic Arts Festival.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

YAFL: Week 7 Results

Here are the results from week 7 of Yet Another Fantasy League:

The Maxx Squad 69
Kickers Inc. 75

Tomorrow Syndicate 48
The Inferior Five 60

Power Pack 63 37

B.P.R.D. 69
Moon Knights 68

Nine Pound Hammers 40
Secret Six 65

Inferior 5 plus 6 48
Danger Limited 62

Current Standings:

Team W-L-T Pct Pts Streak
------------------- ----- ---- --- ------
1. Inferior 5 plus 6 6-1-0 .857 491 L-1
2. Power Pack 6-1-0 .857 447 W-5
3. B.P.R.D. 5-2-0 .714 475 W-3
4. Kickers Inc. 5-2-0 .714 418 W-2
5. Secret Six 4-3-0 .571 490 W-2
6. Nine Pound Hammers 4-3-0 .571 383 L-1
7. Tomorrow Syndicate 3-4-0 .429 450 L-2
8. The Maxx Squad 2-5-0 .286 407 L-2
9. Moon Knights 2-5-0 .286 362 L-3
10.The Inferior Five 2-5-0 .286 353 W-1 2-5-0 .286 317 L-2
12.Danger Limited 1-6-0 .143 384 W-1

Week 8 Games:

Secret Six (4-3-0)
Kickers Inc. (5-2-0)

The Maxx Squad (2-5-0)
The Inferior Five (2-5-0)

Tomorrow Syndicate (3-4-0)
vs. (2-5-0)

Power Pack (6-1-0)
Moon Knights (2-5-0)

Inferior 5 plus 6 (6-1-0)
B.P.R.D. (5-2-0)

Nine Pound Hammers (4-3-0)
Danger Limited (1-6-0)

Good luck to all!

In my other Fantasy Leagues, I was thrashed 121-65 in my friends & family league (2-4-1, eighth place); won a 69-68 squeaker in my public league (3-4-0, still eighth place); and scored a disappointing 260.95 points in my Pass & Kick league, which dropped me down to fouth place.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

New This Week: October 26, 2005

Based on the NCRL list for this week's comics shipping from Diamond, here are a few things to look for at the local comic shop later today:

The pick of the week is the first collection of Illusive Arts' Dorothy, a fascinating photo-art retelling of the Oz story in a modern (and not-for-kids) vein. Yes, it's vastly decompressed, but it sure looks pretty while getting along the Yellow Brick Road.

In other comics:

About Comics have their 24 Hour Comics Day Highlights 2005 collection.

Abstract Studios have another issue of Strangers in Paradise (#77).

Amaze Ink debut their Disney license Haunted Mansion just in time for Halloween; and also the first issue of Andi Watson's Paris.

Antarctic Press have a new issue of Gold Digger (#68).

Dark Horse have the second Conan collection in paperback, and new issues of BPRD: The Black Flame (#3) and Usagi Yojimbo (#88).

DC weigh in with the debut of the Azzarello & Frusin's western Loveless; and new issues of JLA Classified (#13), JSA Classified (#4), Jack Cross (#3), Legion of Super-Heroes (#11), The Losers (#29), and Solo (#7--Mike Allred!).

Fantagraphics have Richard Sala's Mad Night Featuring Judy Drood Girl Detective, more spooky fun for your Halloween weekend.

iBooks have the long-delayed second Mister X collection.

IDW have the final issue of Angel: The Curse (#5).

Image have new issues of Age of Bronze (#21), Ferro City (#3), Noble Causes (#14), and Stardust Kid (#3).

Kenzer & Co. have a new issue of Knights of the Dinner Table (#108).

Mavel debut JMS & Colleen Doran's Book of Lost Souls, and heft up new issues of Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her (#2), Captain America (#11), Daredevil (#78), Defenders (#4), Drax the Destroyer (#2), Kabuki (#5), and New Thunderbolts (#14).

Oni have the penultimate issue of Andi Watson's Little Star (#5).

Radio Comix have a collection fo the furry comic Ebin & May.

Speakeasy have the second issue of Hero at Large (#2).

TokyoPop have the second volume of Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad, and the debuts of the OEL titles A Midnight Opera and Mark of the Succubus.

And finally, stuck way down in the Books sections is The Life of Groo as 'available again'--if this shows up at your LCS, grab it, because there are few things better than the Sergio Aragonés funny.

Review: John Constantine Hellblazer: All His Engines

John Constantine Hellblazer: All His Engines
by Mike Carey & Leonardo Manco
DC/Vertigo, $24.95

In the quintessential Hellblazer story, John Constatine encounters, stumbles across, or is brought into a situation of evil nefariousness. Constatine starts to tackle the problem with much of a plan, developing his strategy has he goes, which ultimately backfires. He then regroups, and through a combination of luck, skill and deviousness, triumphs, although often a hefty price must be paid by someone close to him.

All His Engines is pretty much a quintessential Hellblazer story: When his long-suffering friend Chas's granddaughter goes mysteriously ill, the family reluctantly brings John in to help. Of course there's some otherworldly cause, one that leads he and Chas to Los Angeles, where a hellspawn has brought a bit of Hell to Earth, and is looking to franchise. The demon blackmails John into helping his get rid of his rivals, and John complies, all the while looking for the angle that will successfully get Chas's granddaughter back.

Carey and Manco, currently the creative team on the regular Hellblazer comic, bring their A-Game to the table here. Carey crafts the story tightly, and keeps the familiar characters true to their past depictions while telling a big story with personal stakes. I've always appreciated Manco's art for its grittiness, but here he seems to add a touch of well-needed control and discipline, while at the same time pulling out some interesting visuals. This is a good, solid Hellblazer story, and if you like the character you'll probably like this.

The questions remains however as to why this perfectly good Hellblazer story needed the deluxe hardcover OGN treatment. Surely this story would have fit just fine within the normal comic? Undoubtedly it was created to tie into the perceived excitement around the Constantine movie, both to cash in to the potential windfall and to reward the creators. Is it a life-changing event in John Constatine's life that no true fan will want to go without reading? No; it's just solid entertainment. You'll have to decide if that's worth the deluxe treatment to you.

Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

Monday, October 24, 2005

New Library Comics: Week of October 17, 2005

Here are the comics we got in for our library collection last week:

Bertozzi, Nick. The masochists /Gainesville, FL : Alternative Comics, 2001.

Brown, Jeffrey (Jeffrey David), 1975- Be a man : the 'Clumsy' you wanted to see! : a novella /Deerfield, Ill. : Jeffrey Brown, [2002]

Brown, Jeffrey (Jeffrey David), 1975- Jeffrey Brown loves you but he is not 'in' love with you /[S.l.] : Jeffrey Brown, 2002.

Brown, Jeffrey (Jeffrey David), 1975- Maybe we could just lie here naked holding each other for a while but not have sex /[Deerfield, Ill.] : Jeffrey Brown, 2003.

Gilbert, Eve. Tits, ass & real estate : an autobiographical road trip through the other America /Seattle, WA : Fantagraphics Books, 2003.

Greenberger, David. Bern and Edwina /Marietta, GA : Top Shelf Productions, 2001.

Hurd, Damon. The white elephant /Gainesville, FL : Alternative Comics, c2004.

Insidious tales #2 /Valley Stream, N. Y. : CFD Productions, 1995.

Kochalka, James. Fantastic butterflies /Brooklyn, NY : Highwater Books ; Gainsville, FL : Alternative Comics, c2002.

Koshi, Rikdo. Excel saga. 04 /San Francisco, CA : Viz, c2003.

Marcel, Swen. David : der Sexpertenbericht /Koln : Mattei Medien, 2003.

McKenney, Craig. The Brontes : infernal Angria Volume I : the great escape / Seattle : Headless Shakespeare Press, c1997.

Stromberg, Fredrik, 1968- Black images in the comics : a visual history /[Seattle, Wash.] : Fantagraphics, c2003.

Ueda, Hajime. FLCL /Los Angeles, Calif. : Tokyopop, c2003- v. 1

Willmarth, Susan. Prisoners of a hard life : women & their children /Northampton, MA : The Real Cost of Prisons Project, c2005.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Monkey Covers

Sunday is Monkey Covers day here at YACB. Because there's nothing better than a comic with a monkey on the cover.

"Welcome to buried Las Vegas! Once a playground for men—Now a sinister hunting ground for GORILLAS!"

God bless Jack Kirby, for giving us the cover of Kamandi #3 in 1978.

(standard disclaimer about gorillas not really being monkeys applies)

Image courtesy of the GCD. Click on the image for a larger version.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

This Week on YAMB

Yes, after a long absence, I finally returned to posting on my other blog, Yet Another Media Blog. Here's what I was up to:

I discoverd what type of humor I have.

I looked at Time Magazine's Top 100 Novels list to see which of them I've read.

I found out about the Woodsongs Website, where there's lots of great free acoustic folk and Americana live performances to be viewed.

And I updated Yet Another Music Radio to a playlist especially for Halloween. Lots of good music to be heard, running over a large range of styles. Pop in sometime in the next week and give it a listen!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Linkblogging: Blogs That Love Comics

A handful of blogs I visit when I want a comic book blog pick-me-up:

Zilla and the Comics Junkies, where Zilla and the boys, recently returned to comics after a several-year absence, discover with amazement some of the things that we long-time comics readers take for granted.

Dial B for Blog, where everyday is a celebration of the joys of comics (with a strong emphasis on DC's Silver Age), like today's Ghost of the Giant Hand!

Redhead Fangirl, which is exactly as the title implies. She's a librarian too, so you know there's a lot of Batgirl/Oracle love.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Steve & Sara in Spain / Manga TP

Steve Lieber is not only known for being a great cartoonist and a fine gentleman, but also for his highly entertaining convention write-ups.

Steve has now posted on the Mercury Studios blog a summary of the trip that he and Sara Ryan took to the Salón Internacional Del Comic Del Principado De Asturias in Gijon, Spain.

Although the text of the write-up is relatively short, Steve makes up for it by including a host of entertaining photos, including this one of toilet paper with manga-inspired packaging:

Which inspires us to suggest a new slogan for an up-and-coming U.S. Manga Publisher:

Manga: It's The Sh!t

YAFL: Week 6 Results

Here are the results from week 6 of Yet Another Fantasy League:

Tomorrow Syndicate 60
Kickers Inc. 75

Power Pack 44
The Inferior Five 43

B.P.R.D. 57 52

Inferior 5 plus 6 70
Moon Knights 55

Nine Pound Hammers 70
The Maxx Squad 57

Danger Limited 60
Secret Six 86

Current Standings:

Team W-L-T Pct Pts Streak
------------------- ----- ----- --- ------
1. Inferior 5 plus 6 6-0-0 1.000 443 W-6
2. Power Pack 5-1-0 .833 384 W-4
3. B.P.R.D. 4-2-0 .667 406 W-2
4. Kickers Inc. 4-2-0 .667 343 W-1
5. Nine Pound Hammers 4-2-0 .667 343 W-1
6. Secret Six 3-3-0 .500 425 W-1
7. Tomorrow Syndicate 3-3-0 .500 402 L-1
8. The Maxx Squad 2-4-0 .333 338 L-1
9. Moon Knights 2-4-0 .333 294 L-2 2-4-0 .333 280 L-1
11.The Inferior Five 1-5-0 .167 293 L-3
12.Danger Limited 0-6-0 .000 322 L-6

Week 7 Games:

The Maxx Squad (2-4-0)
Kickers Inc. (4-2-0)

Tomorrow Syndicate (3-3-0)
The Inferior Five (1-5-0)

Power Pack (5-1-0)
vs. (2-4-0)

B.P.R.D. (4-2-0)
Moon Knights (2-4-0)

Nine Pound Hammers (4-2-0)
Secret Six (3-3-0)

Inferior 5 plus 6 (6-0-0)
Danger Limited (0-6-0)

Good luck to all!

In my other Fantasy Leagues, I tied 68-68 in my friends & family league (2-3-1, seventh place); lost 82-48 in my public league (2-4-0, eighth place); and scored 221.45 points in my Pass & Kick league, remaining in third place but falling further behind the lead.

Castle Waiting Returns

Great news for those who like good comics: Linda Medley's Castle Waiting will be returning in 2006, coutesy of the fine folks at Fantagraphics. Both trade collections of the past issues, and a new series too. Heidi has the news over at The Beat (as well as correcting the mistakes in the PW story), and you'll surely be able to keep up with future news on Linda's own Website/Blog (where she clears up some other misunderstandings in the Fanta press release).

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

New This Week: October 19, 2005

Based on the NCRL list for this week's comics shipping from Diamond, here are a few things to look for at the local comic shop later today:

The Pick of the Week is the hardcover collection of Charles Burns's Black Hole from Pantheon. Years in the making, this is a superb and creepy horror story of sex and transformation and teenage angst set in a middle-American suberb in the 70s. Few comics are worthy of a hardcover collection, but Black Hole definitely is.

In other comics:

Alias have the second issues of David: Shepherd's Song and the colorized reprint of Opposite Forces.

AP Comics finally release the first issue of Abiding Perdition (read the solicitation copy for the fifth issue in the current Previews--it's unintentionally very funny!)

Dark Horse have a new issue of Conan (#21).

DC have the debut of Captain Atom: Armageddon, bringing the shiny ex-Quality super-hero into the WildStorm universe (remember how well that worked when Marvel was mixing up the Marvel U with the Ultraverse?); the final issues of Authority: Revolution (#12), The Intimates (#12) and Seven Soldiers: Klarion the Witch Boy (#4); and new issues of Astro City: The Dark Age (#4), Birds of Prey (#87), Green Lantern Corps: Recharge (#2), Hellblazer (#213), Lucifer (#67), Manhunter (#15), and Top Ten: The Farthest Precinct (#3).

Dork Storm have a new issue of Dork Tower (#32).

IDW have a 99 cent #0 issue of their new Transformers.

Image have a new issue of The Walking Dead (#22) and a collection of the Beckett series Ruule: Ganglords of Chinatown.

Marvel have the relaunches of two series you really should be reading: She Hulk 2 and X-Men and Power Pack--look, not enough of you bought the first Power Pack mini, so now they've had to go and add in the X-Men. See what you've done! Buy this before they cross-over again! They also have a collections of Daredevil, vol. 12: Decalogue and Supreme Power, vol. 3: High Command; and new issues of Runaways (#9), Supreme Power: Hyperion (#2), and Ultimate Spider-Man (#84).

Oni have the joyous third issue of the sublimely funny Banana Sunday. Buy this comic!

Top Shelf have the second issue of The Surrogates. Buy this one too!

That'll do it for this week. Enjoy!

Monday, October 17, 2005

New Library Comics: Week of October 10, 2005

Here are the comics we got in for our library collection last week:

B., David, 1959- Epileptic 1 /Paris, France : L'Association, c2002.

B., David, 1959- L'ascension du haut mal /Paris : L'Association, 1996-2000. v. 1-5

Blab! No. 11 /Seattle, WA : Fantagraphics Books, c2000.

Empty pockets. /Ann Arbor, Mich. : Wooden Book Press, 2005.

Fingerman, Bob, 1964- White like she /Seattle : Fantagraphics Books, 1998.

Funny cuts : cartoons and comics in contemporary art /Bielefeld : Kerber ; New York : Distributed Art Publishers, 2004.

Gruenwald, Mark. The official handbook of the Marvel universe /New York, New York : Marvel Comics Group, 1986- v. 1

Henderson, Sam. Magic whistle No. 9, Bigger, larger, and bigger! / Gainesville, FL : Alternative Comics, c2004.

Lapiz japones. /[Argentina : Comuna del Lapiz Japones, 1993?]

Lawrence, Don. The Trigan empire /Secaucus, N.J. : Chartwell Books, c1978.

Martin, George R. R. Sandkings /New York, NY : DC Comics, c1987.

Martin, Sean, 1955- Incredibily lifelike : the second anthology of Doc & Raider cartoons /Toronto : Queer Press, 1996.

Michelinie, David. Avengers : Emperor Doom /New York, NY : Marvel Comics, 1990, c1987.

Mind riot : coming of age in comix /New York : Aladdin Paperbacks, 1997.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Monkey Covers

Sunday is Monkey Covers day here at YACB. Because there's nothing better than a comic with a monkey on the cover.

It's Ape vs. Ape, with Jungel Kid caught in the middle, on Mazel's cover for Jungel Kid #3 from 1981.

(standard disclaimer about apes not really being monkeys applies)

Image courtesy of the GCD. Click on the image for a larger version.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


So far we've only got a couple of covers and a blurb description, but I'm already in love with Supermarket by Brian Wood and Kristian Donaldson:
Supermarket #1
(w) Brian Wood
(a) Kristian Donaldson
IDW Publishing

"Cash Rules Everything Around Me". In the future world of SUPERMARKET, it's the literal truth. Legitimate and black market economies rule the City, overseen by the vying factions of the Yakuza and Porno Swede crime families. Convenience store clerkette and 16-yo suburban wise-ass Pella Suzuki suddenly finds herself in the middle of it all, heir to an empire she couldn't possibly inherit, but hitmen on both sides aren't taking any chances. Co-created and written by Brian Wood (Demo, DMZ, The Couriers), SUPERMARKET is street level anti-consumerism with a healthy dose of violence and humor. Kristian provides lush, powerful artwork and makes this future world as real as if it were now.
Even though it's from IDW, and thus will cost $1 more than it should (although hopefully it'll be in color), I think I'll be getting this!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Fantasy and Science Fiction/Theory Reading Group

Earlier this year I started attending a local book group for Science Fiction and Fantasy that focus on theory and literary aspects and whatnot. I've found that it's a good way to give my reading some direction and I really enjoy the discussions that we have once a month.

Last night was the annual book selection meeting, where we chose the books we'll be reading for the coming year. Basically everyone brings suggestions and then we discuss and fight it out until something resembling a consensus is reached and 10 selections have been made.

Most of my suggestions didn't make it to the end, but the one that did was that we do a double-bill of two recent Grant Morrison GNs: Seaguy and We3. (The group tends more often than not to pick one GN each year--this past year we did The Dark Knight Returns). Most of the group are not heavy comics readers, so it'll be interesting to see what discussions develop.

The other books chosen by the group are:

Neil Gaiman, American Gods
Charles Stross, Accelerando
Connie Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog
Cornelia Funke, Inkheart
Max Barry, Jennifer Government
Robert McKinley, Sunshine
Midori Snyder, Innamorati
Clifford Simack, Way Station
George R. Stuart, Earth Abides

Of which I've already read American Gods and Jennifer Government.

Yet Another Fantasy League: Week 5 Results

Here are the results from week 5 of Yet Another Fantasy League:

Power Pack 77
Kickers Inc. 39

B.P.R.D. 67
The Inferior Five 50

Moon Knights 38 52

Nine Pound Hammers 28
Tomorrow Syndicate 64

Danger Limited 54
The Maxx Squad 55

Inferior 5 plus 6 114
Secret Six 73

Current Standings:

Team W-L-T Pct Pts Streak
------------------- ----- ----- --- ------
1. Inferior 5 plus 6 5-0-0 1.000 373 W-5
2. Power Pack 4-1-0 .800 340 W-3
3. B.P.R.D. 3-2-0 .600 349 W-1
4. Tomorrow Syndicate 3-2-0 .600 342 W-3
5. Nine Pound Hammers 3-2-0 .600 273 L-2
6. Kickers Inc. 3-2-0 .600 268 L-1
7. Secret Six 2-3-0 .400 339 L-1
8. The Maxx Squad 2-3-0 .400 281 W-1
9. Moon Knights 2-3-0 .400 239 L-1 2-3-0 .400 228 W-1
11.The Inferior Five 1-4-0 .200 250 L-2
12.Danger Limited 0-5-0 .000 262 L-5

Week 6 Games:

Tomorrow Syndicate (3-2-0)
Kickers Inc. (3-2-0)

Power Pack (4-1-0)
The Inferior Five (1-4-0)

B.P.R.D. (3-2-0)
vs. (2-3-0)

Inferior 5 plus 6 (5-0-0)
Moon Knights (2-3-0)

Nine Pound Hammers (2-3-0)
The Maxx Squad (2-3-0)

Danger Limited (0-5-0)
Secret Six (2-3-0)

Good luck to all!

In my other Fantasy Leagues, I lost 71-40 in my friends & family league (2-3-0, seventh place); won 40-37 in my public league (2-3-0, eighth place); and scored a pathetic 190.45 points in my Pass & Kick league, dropping me down to third place.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

New This Week: October 12, 2005

Based on the NCRL list for this week's comics shipping from Diamond, here are a few things to look for at the local comic shop later today:

The Pick of the Week is Doom Patrol, vol. 3: Down Paradise Way, crazy insane surreal super-heroes from the mind of Grant Morrison and the hands of Richard Case, Kim DeMulder, Kelley Jones and others. Featuring the first appearances of Danny the Street and Flex Mentallo.

In other comics:

AAA Pop Have the long-delayed third issue of Mike Allred's Golden Plates.

Antarctic debut The Science Fair and Metadocs: The Super ER, and have a new issue of Ninja High School (#132).

Dark Horse have a special 24 cent edition of the first issue of The Goon, as well as a Goon hardcover collection.

DC Comics have a collection of Astro City: Local Heroes; new issues of 100 Bullets (#65), Ex Machina (#15), Fables (#42), Villains United (#6), and Y, the Last Man; plus the first issue of some obscure mini series I haven't heard anything about: Infinite Crisis.

Fantagraphics have the latest issue of The Comics Journal (#271).

I Box have a new issue of the now-seemingly-bi-annual Thieves & Kings (#47).

Image have a new issue of Gødland (#4).

Lightspeed have the final print issue of Finder (#38).

Marvel have digest-sized collections of Spellbinders and Livewires, the final issue of Gravity (#5), and the debut of Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.

Renaissance Press have the latest Amelia Rules (#15).

Viper have the penultimate issue of The Middleman (#3).

Viz have a new issue of Shojo Beat #5.

All in all, it looks to be a much saner pile of stuff (quantity-wise) than the past two weeks!

Review: Yotsuba&!, vol. 1

Yotsuba&!, vol. 1
by Kiyohiko Azuma
ADV Manga, $9.99

Truth be told, I had been reluctant to read Yotsuba&!, for a couple of reasons: first, much has been made from all the promotion that Yotsuba&! is by the creator of Azumanga Daioh, a comic that I had a lukewarm at best reaction to; and second, so much praise has been heaped on Yotsuba&! that it couldn't possibly live up to the hype, could it?

As it turns out, yes it can. Yotsuba&! is a delightful, charming series that can be enjoyed by all. It's also at times very, very funny.

The premise is simple: Yotsuba and her dad move in to a new neighborhood and interact, mostly with the family next door. What makes this comic a winner is the personality of Yotsuba herself: bubbly and fearless, and often wrong, and scarily like a real four-year-old. (In fact, there were frequntly things that Yotsuba would say or do that I could see my own nephew doing.) Yotsuba is exploring her world and her boundaries, trying to make sense of it all. Yotsuba hasn't yet developed a self-censoring mechanism (in Freudian terms, she's all ego & id, without a superego) and says exactly what's on her mind, although mostly her heart is in the right place.

Azuma has a gift for deft characterization, and that extends to the supporting cast as well: Yotsuba's dad, a single parent trying to keep everything together; the older neighbor girls, who take an immediate liking to this strange girl who moves in next door; and Jumbo, the family friend, who is also at a stage of arrested development, showing how what is charming in a four-year-old girl can be disconcerting in a grown man.

Have I mentioned yet how charming Yotsuba&! is? Yes, I have, but I probably can't say it enough. Reading Yotsuba&! will keep you smiling from cover to cover, and help you to rediscover your comic book soul.

Rating: 4.5 (of 5)

Monday, October 10, 2005

New Library Comics: Week of October 3, 2005

Here are the comics we got in for our library collection last week:

Atagawa, Fumihiro. Furupawa monkey /Tokyo : Shueisha, 1998- v. 1

Jones, Sabrina. Prisoners of the war on drugs /Northampton, MA : The Real Cost of Prisons Project, c2005.

Pyle, Kevin. Prison town : paying the price /Northampton, MA : The Real Cost of Prisons Project, c2005.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Monkey Covers

Sunday is Monkey Covers day here at YACB. Because there's nothing better than a comic with a monkey on the cover.

Back to the jungle this week, and George Wilson paints the cover to 1967's Tarzan #172, as Tarzan faces off against a big ol' gorilla with a spear and a loincloth!

(standard disclaimer about apes not really being monkeys applies)

Image courtesy of the GCD. Click on the image for a larger version.

Friday, October 07, 2005

YAMR: Soundtrack Songs

Playing this week on Yet Another Music Radio: Soundtrack Songs, over three hours of songs from movie soundtracks.

Songs from: Batman Forever; Blue Crush; Bubba Ho-Tep; Cold Mountain; Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen; Cruel Intensions; D.E.B.S.; Die Another Day; Donnie Darko; Ella Enchanted; Freaky Friday; Herbie: Fully Loaded; Hitch; Ice Princess; Josie and the Pussycats; Kill Bill, vol. 1; Kill Bill, vol. 2; The Lizzie McGuire Movie; The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; Mallrats; Me, Myself & Irene; Mean Girls; Men with Brooms; Napoleon Dynamite; The Perfect Man; The Princess Diaries 2; Shanghai Knights; Shark Tale; Shrek 2; The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants; Starsky & Hutch; Sweet Home Alabama; A Walk to Remember.

With songs by: The 5, 6, 7, 8's; Abra Moore; Alana Grace; Alison Krauss; Aly & A.J.; Amerie; Anne Hathaway; Annie Lennox; Atomic Kitten; Ben Folds Five; Beulah; Bowling for Soup; Brian Tyler; Chantal Kreviazuk; Charlotte Martin; Christy Carlson Romano; Disposal Unit; The Donnas; Eddie Murphy & Antonio Banderas; The Faders; Fatboy Slim; Frou Frou; Gary Jules; The Goops; Ivy; Jessica Harp; Jewel; Josie and the Pussycats; Kari Kimmel; Katy Rose; Lillix; Lindsay Lohan; Lipps Inc.; Nancy Sinatra; Paul Oakenfold; Pink; Placebo; Plumb; Pussycat Dolls; Rogue Wave; Sarah Harmer with The Tragically Hip; Seal; Shannon McNally; Shivaree; Simple Plan; Superchic[k]; Tom Scott; Tomoyasu Hotei; Toploader; U2; The Weekend; Zero 7.

The makes for over 50 songs of rockin'/poppin' soundtrack goodness. Get 'em while they're hot!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na

I am so glad that I live in a world that can produce this:

"Dolphins sing 'Batman' theme"
Scientists have taught dolphins to combine both rhythm and vocalisations to produce music, resulting in an extremely high-pitched, short version of the Batman theme song.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Yet Another Fantasy League: Week 4 Results

Here are the results from week 4 of Yet Another Fantasy League:

B.P.R.D. 62
Kickers Inc. 82

Moon Knights 48
The Inferior Five 40

Inferior 5 plus 6 58 36

Nine Pound Hammers 61
Power Pack 74

Danger Unlimited 55
Tomorrow Syndicate 81

Secret Six 77
The Maxx Squad 74

Current Standings:

Team W-L-T Pct Pts Streak
------------------- ----- ----- --- ------
1. Inferior 5 plus 6 4-0-0 1.000 259 W-4
2. Power Pack 3-1-0 .750 263 W-2
3. Nine Pound Hammers 3-1-0 .750 245 L-1
4. Kickers Inc. 3-1-0 .750 229 W-2
5. B.P.R.D. 2-2-0 .500 282 L-2
6. Tomorrow Syndicate 2-2-0 .500 278 W-2
7. Secret Six 2-2-0 .500 266 W-1
8. Moon Knights 2-2-0 .500 201 W-1
9. The Maxx Squad 1-3-0 .250 226 L-2
10.The Inferior Five 1-3-0 .250 200 L-1 1-3-0 .250 176 L-2
12.Danger Unlimited 0-4-0 .000 208 L-4

Week 5 Games:

Power Pack
Kickers Inc.

The Inferior Five

Moon Knights

Nine Pound Hammers
Tomorrow Syndicate

Danger Unlimited
The Maxx Squad

Inferior 5 plus 6
Secret Six

Good luck to all!

In my other Fantasy Leagues, I lost 70-59 in my friends & family league (2-4-0, fourth place); finally won, 80-52, in my public league (1-3-0, ninth place); and only scored 271.70 points in my Pass & Kick league, but still remain in first place. In the finals of my fantasy basebell league I ended up losing 7-3 and thus finish as the runner-up (although on the morning of the last day I was winning 7-3--I guess my team just decided to sleep through the final day!)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Flash comes to DVD has the news that The Flash is coming to DVD on January 10, 2006.

IMHO one of the better super-hero-based television shows, The Flash starred John Wesley Shipp as Barry Allen and Amanda Pays as Dr. Christina McGee. Mark Hamill appeared on several episodes as The Trickster, and Howard Chaykin & John Francis Moore co-wrote several episodes. It ran just one season on CBS from 1990-1991, but is fondly remembered by the five of us who were watching.

New This Week: October 5, 2005

Based on the NCRL list for this week's comics shipping from Diamond, here are a few things to look for at the local comic shop later today:

The pick of the week should be no surprise to those of you who read this blog regularly: Bone Sharps, Cowboys and Thunder Lizards, a story from the wild west days of paleantology, by Jim Ottaviani & Big Time Attic. You read the FCBD preview, so I'm sure you're all excited to read the whole thing, right?

In other comics:

Amazing Aaron Productions has the second collection A College Girl Named Joe strips.

Antarctic has the Gold Digger Halloween Special and the fourth issue of Oz: The Manga.

Boom Studios has the collection of Keith Giffen's Trencher.

DC has Dean Haspiel illustrating Harvey Pekar's The Quitter; another huge Showcase Presents volume, this time spotlighting Metamorpho; the final issues of Infinity Crisis prologue minis DC Special: The Return of Donna Troy (#4) and Rann/Thanagar War (#6); new issues of Albion (#3), Detective Comics (#812), Gotham Central (#36), JSA (#78), Superman/Shazam (#2), Swamp Thing (#20), and Wonder Woman (#221); and new editions of collections of Arkham Asylum, V for Vendetta, and Watchmen (in a deluxe hardcover).

Drawn & Quarterly have three hardcovers: Bagdad Journal: An Artist In Occupied Iraq, Push Man and Other Stories, and Pyongyang: A Journey In North Korea.

Fantagraphics have the 16th volume of Blab.

iBooks finally release their new Magnus: Robot Fighter comic.

Image have the long-delayed Rising Stars hardcover, and new issues of Fell (#2) and Freshmen (#3).

Marvel have Marvel Monsters: Devil Dinosaur (with art by The Goon's Eric Powell); a digest-sized collection of the second Mary Jane mini; and new issues of Incredible Hulk (#87), Marvel Team-Up (#13), New Thunderbolts (#13), Powers (#13) (Hmmm, three #13s on the same day...), The Punisher (#26), and Supreme Power: Nighthawk (#2).

Speakeasy have a collected edition of the first three issues of Elk's Run.

Top Shelf have Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed.

Viz have a new volume of Banana Fish (vol. 10).

There are a slew of hardcovers out this week, so take care that you don't pull your back as you're bringing you loot home from the comic shop this week!

Monday, October 03, 2005

New Library Comics: Week of September 26, 2005

Here are the comics we got in for our library collection last week:

Alltagsspionage : Comicreportagen aus Berlin /Berlin : Monogatari, 2001.

Flix. Sag was /Hamburg : Carlsen Verlag, 2004.

Hickee /Gainesville, FL : Alternative Comics, [2003]-

Hornschemeier, Paul. Forlorn funnies /Lincoln, Calif. : Absence of Ink, 2003. no. 2-3

Lutes, Jason. Berlin : steinerne Stadt /Hamburg : Carlsen Verlag, 2003.

Mawil. Berg Hasi : ein steiles downhill-comic /Berlin : Monogatari, 2001.

Mawil. Geschichten aus dem Comicgarten / Mawil, Michalke, Kleist ... [et al.].Berlin : Berlin Comix, 2002.

Messner-Loebs, William. Amazonia : a tale of the Wonder Woman /New York, NY : DC Comics, c1997.

Munoz. Joe's Bar /New York : Catalan Communications, c1987.

Munoz. Le poete /Wissous, France : Amok, 1999.

Ngui, Marc, 1972- Enter Avariz : [a story /Montreal : Conundrum Press, c2002.

Project: Telstar : a spacial robotic anthology /Richmond, VA : AdHouse Books, c2003.

Rennert, Itzik. Speaking of the Devil /Tel Aviv : Actus Tragicus, 2000.

Ruijters, Marcel. Troglodytes /Atlanta : Top Shelf Productions ; Amsterdam : Oog & Blik, 2004.

Sacks, Adam. Salmon doubts /Gainesville, Fla. : Alternative Comics, c2004.

Zaugg, Judith. Bruno Orso fliegt ins Weltall /Augsburg : Maroverlag, in Zusammenarbeit mit Edition Solitude, 1997.

Review: Dramacon, vol. 1

Dramacon, vol. 1
by Svetlana Chmakova
TokyoPop, $9.99

At her first anime convention, young writer Christie is sharing a booth in artist alley with her artist/boyfriend Derek, but Derek seems to be more interested in flirting with the other girls who come by the table than in paying any attention at all to Christie. Christie is upset, but then she runs into Matt, a cool sunglasses-indoors type who pushes her to confront the reality of her situation.

Dramacon certainly lives up to its name, presenting the kinds of intense, compressed emotional experiences that these events can foster. In Christie, Chmakova has created a flawed but likable character, with emotions that can spin on a dime and the inner life of a teenager that is both simple and complex in a way that only teenagers can be. There are also some witty moments, and Chmakova takes the opportunity to poke fun at her characters when they start taking themselves too seriously. Her art is dynamic and tells the story well, although she employs that shifting SB-type representation that, while common to this sort of manga, I personally find annoying; but it's such a genre convention that I suppose its a given that it will be employed. Most everything works well here, although there's an event near the end that moves the story in a dark direction where it is not prepared to go. It is certainly dramatic, but is ultimately not necessary and the story would have worked just fine without it.

Still, absent that one misstep, this is a highly enjoyable story; it's complete in this one volume, although the next volume will catch up with the same characters a year later at the next convention, hopefully with them all a little older and a little wiser.

Rating: 3 (of 5)

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Monkey Covers

Sunday is Monkey Covers day here at YACB. Because there's nothing better than a comic with a monkey on the cover.

After a month of Jungle Girls vs. Apes, we're returning to regular monkey covers. But of course there's nothing 'regular' at all about any monkey cover, and what better way to kick off the month of October than with Titano putting the hurt on Superman on the cover of 1959's Superman #127, drawn by the man himself, Curt Swan, with Stan Kaye on inks. A giant ape with Kryptonite vision--that's still one of the 10 coolest concpets in comics books of all time!

BTW, this story is reprinted in the recently-released Showcase Presents: Superman, vol. 1, along with hundreds of other pages of silver age Superman madness.

(standard disclaimer about apes not really being monkeys applies)

Image courtesy of the GCD. Click on the image for a larger version.