Monday, January 31, 2005

Quick Comic Reviews

We3 #3
by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely
It is possible at this point to heap more suprelatives on Morrison & Quitely's masterpiece? Probably not. But over the course of 96 pages, they have managed to redefine comic book action, proving that you can be exciting and thought-provoking and innovative all at the same time. Heck, just look at the way Quitely uses foreground shadows to blead into the panel borders, for instance. I predict that this comic is one that will be analyzed and dissected for years to come. I only gave the first two installments of this mini a 4 out of 5, but that was because it was an incomplete at the time. Taken together, these three issues add up to more than the sum of their parts. So a 4.5 for the tale, and I reserve to right to raise that higher at some point.
Rating: 4.5 (of 5)

Termporary #1: "Cubes and Ladders"
by Damon Hurd & Rick Smith
Temporary promises to tell the adventures of Envy Saint-Claire, twenty-seomthing temp worker who likes her life as an itenerant; she enjoys spending a day sitting in someone else's life (sort of a Christopher Chance for the boring office-drone set). This first issue finds Envy in a strange cube farm where the employees all seem to be genuinely crazy. It's a nice commentary on the drudgery of middle-corporate America. As for the art by Smith, it's not his strongest effort: the characters are often stiff and the backgrounds are scant. It gets the story across, but that's about it. His art on his own Baraka and Black Magic in Morocco was much better. But in all this looks to be a promising series.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Pigtale #1
by Ovi Nedelcu
I've never heard of Nedelcu before, but based on the style and confidence of his art (not to mention the testimonials in lieu of a letters page) I'm assuming that he's the latest animator dipping his toes into comic books. Though it's all set-up so far, this first issue introduces us to Boston Booth, nebbish twenty-seomthing who wants to be a private investigator, and the talking pig who looks to be his partner. As the pig isn't introduced until the last page it's hard to tell how successful the pairing will be, but based on the strong characterizations and storytelling ability that Nedelcu shows (especially in the exciting chase scene) I'm looking forward to seeing how it all develops. It's a good start--I just hope that the origin tale doesn't drag out too long...
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Sunday, January 30, 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.

From 1958's Action Comics #238, artists Curt Swan & Stan Kaye give us Superman vs. King Krypton, the Super-Gorilla. So, you're a talking super-powered gorilla from Krypton, and he best you can do is to hit Superman over the head with a log? How lame! Man, even Beppo could kick your hairy butt. (And how is it that the log doesn't just shatter on hitting Superman's super-hard skull?)

(standard disclaimer about gorillas not really being monkeys applies)

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

Friday, January 28, 2005

Lost in Translation

Back in March 2002, I had the opportunity to visit Japan as a guest of the University of Library and Information Science in Tsukuba Science City (yes, that's right: "Tsukuba Science City"!) to make a presentation at one of their Digital Library Workshops. (If you're interested, the paper based on my presentation can be found here.)

Like most American comic book fans, I had this image of Japan as some sort of Paradise of comics. It was a place where manga was available on every street corner, where men, women and children all sat in the park or on the subway reading comics, where comic creators were exaulted like sports heroes or rock stars.

As it turned out, the truth was far different. I only once saw manga anthologies on sale at a newsstand, and I never saw anyone reading manga in public.

Granted, I only spent a little over four days in Japan--three days in Tsukuba and one day in Tokyo--and I didn't have much time to go wandering off on my own. So it is possible that I just completely missed all the manga, though it was fairly obvious that comics weren't as all-pervasive as we are often led to believe.

It wasn't a completely comic-free visit though. On my trip into Tokyo my guides were two female Korean graduate students of my host professor's, and on the bus ride back I got into a discussion about manga with one of the women (a discussion somewhat hampered by my not knowing the original Japanese titles of many of the things I had read in English). The impression that I got from her was that comic reading wasn't at all unusual, that just about everyone read manga occasionally.

The one other time I did see manga was in a rental store; alongside videos and music cds one could also rent books, including some manga collections.

Other interesting pop culture observations from that trip:

At a dinner with two of the Professors from the University, we got off into a discussion about television. They asked which if any Japanese programs made it onto American television. I said that back in my youth we got Ultraman, Johnny Socko and the like, and that we got a good deal of anime. BUt that the only other Japanese show that was on American tv was Iron Chef--they were horrified.

Speaking of television, my hotel room (very small!) only got two stations with any English-language programming: one was BBC News, and the other had various American TV shows which could be listened to either in English or dubbed into Japanese (chosen by a switch on the remote). But no matter which option you chose, all the the promotional advertising was in Japanese, and some of the ads were very odd. The spots for Babylon 5 in particular made the show look very unlike the show I was familiar with, and more like an anime space opera with an almost fetishistic attention paid to the various spacecraft.

At one point one of the non-English stations was showing a press event from the promotinoal tour of on of the Lord of the Rings movies. They would show the questions by the press being asked in Japanese, edit out the translation of the questions into English, then show the responses in English and the translation back into Japanese. So essentially I could only understand the responses by the cast without knowing what questions precipitated the responses, which sometimes made things a bit baffling.

(I was inspired to finally write this post after reading a post by Shawn Fumo.)

Quick DC GN Reviews

Superman: Secret Identity
by Kurt Busiek & Stuart Immonen
Chance are you've already read several glowing reviews of this story, so I'll just say that those reviews are right: this is one of the best Superman stories in many years. Inspired by a nearly two-decades old story from DC Comics Presents about the Superboy of Earth-Prime, Busiek spins the tale of a real-world Clark Kent. Young Kent is teased about his name, but is surprised when he unexpectedly develops the super powers of his namesake. But instead of going public, Clark keeps his powers a secret, even as his life follows a vaguely parallel path as that of the fictional Clark Kent. Each chapter in the story shows us Clark at a different point in his life, and we follow his attempt to live a normal life while trying to help others in secret. Art-wise, Immonen turns in one of the best outings of his career, and the realism he brings to a story about a guy with super-powers fits the story perfectly. All told, it's an uplifting story that celebrates the triumph of living a good fulfilling life.
Rating: 4 (of 5)

Batman: Hong Kong
by Doug Moench & Tony Wong
After a series of death-by-snake-bite events are broadcast over the Internet, originating from both Gotham City and Hong Kong, Batman travels to the former British colony to uncover the mastermind, and ends up inspiring the birth of the Night Dragon, an armor-clad vigilante. The main attraction here is the art of superstar Hong Kong artist Tony Wong, and he certainly gets the chance to show his stuff. It's an odd combination of quasi-painted art and highly detailed pen-and-ink, usually on the same page, where some panels are painted and others are traditionally drawn. It's a method that emphasizes some panels over the others and makes for an interesting reading experience. The story by Moench is pretty much by-the-numbers. It takes little advantage of the opportunities that could be provided by setting the story in one of the most unique cities in the world, and the mystery of who is behind the killings is painfully obvious. Still, the purpose of the story was to give Wong cool things to draw, and in that is succeeds.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Thursday, January 27, 2005

"Hamlet Covered in Snot"

The Alan Moore BBC radio 4 interview can be heard online here. It's about half an hour long and contains many wonderful quotables, such as: "If I'm going to react, I may as well overreact."

(link via Fanboy Rampage.)

Help a Marvel Zombie

Over at his new blog Hey Grown Ups - Comics!, Phil Parr is looking for suggestions for indy comics that he might enjoy: retailer doesn't carry independent titles and I don't have the dough to spend blindly out of Previews.

I so remember the joys of small press books. Please... save me! Tell me what I should be reading that doesn't come from the top five or six. More importantly... tell me why.

So how about it, comics blog-o-sphere--save Phil from Marvel Zombiedom!

The Five Manga Meme

From Sean (via Johanna, among others) all the cool kids are doing it: Here are my Top Five currently published manga in translation:

1. Planetes
2. Imadoki!
3. Blue Inferior
4. Hikaru-no Go
5. Negima

And as a bonus, because it's a completely different list, here are my Top Five all-time manga in translation:

1. Lone Wolf & Cub
2. Nausicaa
3. 2001 Nights
4. Maison Ikkoku
5. Sanctuary

(with honorable mention to Akira, Eagle, Uzumaki, Gon, Mai, and Paradise Kiss.)

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Jeff Smith Interview

Public library book distributor BWI has an interview with Bone creator Jeff Smith on the occasion of the release of the colorized Bone from Schoolastic.

Not much new in the interview, but it's interesting to see how Smith and Bone are being positioned to the mainstream market, especially in light of responses like this:

Nowadays, I'm still very much into comics. I like Paul Pope, who does graphic novels. His work just flows. There's a cartoonist from Canada by the name of Seth, who just had a piece in the New Yorker, and he's designing the Charles Schulz Complete Peanuts books. There's Jim Woodring. Fantagraphic [sic] just published The Frank Book. Those are just transcendent comics.

I now have visions of public librarians buying The Frank Book for their collections and twisting the minds of tweens across the country...

Quick Mini Comic Reviews

Obsessive Crush
by Pat Lewis
Gina is a pretty folk singer who plays sets at the local college coffee house. Doug is a grad student in science! who creates a potion that will transform him into 'the coolest guy on campus'. Sharon is Doug's robot assistant, who is tired of being ignored so hse creates for herself the body of a giant killer robot. In other words, it's your typical comic book love triangle :) Lewis's comic is fast-moving, funny, and a wee bit insightful, and his cartooning fits the story perfectly
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

Thankless Job
by Pat Lewis
The evil mastermind Iron Marauder has defeated his arch-nemesis, the heroic Retrobutionator, and now nothing can stand in his way of taking over the city. Except that is for a clueless temp who manages to accidentally delete the Marauder's entire ill-gotten fortune. Now Abe (the temp) is a hero, but has incurred the wrath of the now-penniless Iron Marauder. It's another fun outting from Lewis that makes fun of both the conventions of super-heroes and the cult of instant celebrity.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Horus #1-3
by Johane Matte
Nofret is a typical teenage girl: adults, especially her parents, dont' understand her, and she hates kids, especially her brat of a younger bother. Of course, she lives in ancient Egypt, where finding a kid with the head of a falcon abandoned by a river bank is, while not a normal occurance, not cause for immediate alarm either. That is until two talking hippos kidnap the hawk-headed kid and Nofret's little brother, and she has to save them both. I love Matte's art; it's cartoony and full of dynamic action, and fits the story perfectly. The story mostly holds together, though at times take s acouple of jumps and delves off into a couple of unnecesary sub-plots. It's an odd thing to say in this day and age, but this comic seems awfully compressed. Horus might work a little better if Matte slowed the pace down a bit and allowed for the laughs and drama to develop a bit more, instead of rushing headlong to a conclusion.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Distribution of mini comics can be very spotty, but all of these comics can be purchased online from the creators: Pat Lewis's books can be found at Lunch Break Comics, and Johana Matte's at Ruff Toon.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

New This Week: January 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 tomorrow:

The pick of the week is We3 #3 by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely, from DC/Vertigo. I thought that the first two issues were two of the best of 2004, so that should tell you how stoked I am about the final issue coming out. If you haven't been reading We3, don't wait for the trade--see if your LCS has the first two issues in stock and grab the complete story.

In other comics:

Abstract has the fourth Strangers in Paradise pocket edition. I have the first three volumes, even though I own all the original comics; they're a rather smart package, and very handy to keep on your bookshelf.

Antarctic has the Gold Digger Adventures Stand Alone Special, which I believe focuses on the Diggers sisters in their younger days. Gold Digger is one of my guilty pleasure comics...

Arcana has the third issue of 100 Girls.

Dark Horse has the third volume of Samurai Executioner and the sixth volume of Shadow Star (I've only read the first two--I need to catch up!)

Besides We#3, DC has more Morrison goodness with the final installment in his JLA Classified story (#3); as well as new issues of the revamped Legion of Super-Heroes (#2), Planetary (#22), The Losers (#20), Sleeper Season Two (#8), and Y: The Last Man (#30).

Del Rey has the fourth volumes in three of their launch series: Negima, Tsubasa, and Xxxholic.

Fantagraphics has a new printing of Dan Clowes' Like a Velvet Glove Cast In Iron.

Image has the third Noble Causes collection.

Marvel has the penultimate issue of the latest Black Widow mini (#5) and a new issue of Fantastic Four (#522).

Monkeysuit has the Rex Steele: Nazi Smasher graohic novel (which is sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read...)

NBM has the first issue of Cryptozoo Crew.

This will be, alas, my last regular trip to my LCS, as starting next month I'm switching over to DCBS for my regular comic buying. It'll be a somewhat sad day.

Quick Manga Reviews

Benkei in New York
by Jinpachi Mori & Jiro Taniguchi
Benkei is a Japanese ex-pat living in the Big Apple. He's a painter, but uses his skills only for creating forgeries; he expresses his artistry through his second profession, as an assassin. Following a professional code that only makes sense to him, Benkei takes on jobs in both of his professions, sometimes for money, other times for more personal reasons. Each chapter in this volume is its own simple noir story, ably told by Mori and drawn with great detail by Taniguchi. Like all good noir, the action isn't all permeating but nearly always in brief, explosive sequences. Taniguchi excels at these action scenes, with the best being an extended series of chases and hand-to-hand combats in a snowcovered Central Park and The Museum of Natual History. This is smart noir for adults; we need to see more manga like this in translation.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

Hikaru-no Go, vol. 1
by Yumi Hotta & Takeshi Obata
The premise for this series, in which a sixth-grade boy is haunted by the spirit of a centuries-old Go master, may seem like the set-up for a standard shonen manga wherein a boy gets extraordinary skills and faces down all comers. However, the execution is definitely a cut above. While Fukiwara-no-Sai, the haunting spirit in question, guides Hikaru in his Go playing, the aim of the plot is more than just a boy living out a fantasy. Hikaru's journey will be to learn the game of Go himself and, in so doing, mature in the other areas of his life as well. I've only played Go a handful of times well over a decade ago, but even though my interest in the game is slight, Hotta & Obata make it an unusally exciting subject for a comic. Obata's art is particularly engaging, very strong in characters, backgrounds and storytelling, while managing somehow to make the playing of a boardgame visually interesting. My only complaint about this volume is that it ends in the middle of a story--something that should be a no-no in a 200 page comic, but that just means that I'm anxious to read the next volume.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

Monday, January 24, 2005

Big Fat Royalty Check

I received a royalty check from my publisher today--the first in two years, in fact. Now while most people would be pleased to get a royalty check, I find it to be a bit annoying. Why? The check is for only $11.

You see, the check is for a book I co-wrote back in 1999. While the book sold well for the first couple of years, sales have now dropped off to a trickle. Since I split the royalties with my five other co-authors, there really isn't that much to go around at this point.

Still, I suppose that the publisher has to pay out even small amounts, so as to make the books balance and all. I don't really blame them (they're good people, and I wouldn't hesitate to work with them again).

The annoying part is that for my 2005 taxes, this $11 means that I have to file a whole extra form to declare my whopping eleven dollars in book royalties. (I get a reprieve this time, since they didn't send me a royalty in 2004.)

Of course, I've heard of other writers and artists getting royalty checks for just pennies, so I guess I shouldn't complain too much, right?

Sunday, January 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.

From 1981's The Unexpected #210, artists Rich Buckler & Dick Giordano illustrate the feature story "Vampire of the Apes" (script by George Kashdan).

(standard disclaimer about apes not really being monkeys applies)

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

Hidden post

If anyone is wondering where my post from earlier this morning is, I've hidden it for the time being, as a cooler head is prevailing now...

After all, it's a Sunday morning, and you were all expecting to see monkeys, not a rant against spam, right?

Friday, January 21, 2005


So this is interesting:

Kat Kan writes the "Graphically Speaking" column for VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates, a magazine for librarians who serve young adults (i.e. teens, to regular folk). In each quarterly column she reviews several (typically four to eight) graphic novels that would be appropriate for a young adult library collection (e.g. in a pulbic library or a high school library). For example, in the December column she reviews Owly, Emily and the Intergalactic Lemonade Stand, Amelia Rules! What Makes You Happy, and The Land of Sokmunster; in the October column she reviewed several manga volumes, including Azumanga Daioh, Blue Inferior, Fruits Basket, and Sgt. Frog.

Okay, that's kind of interesting, but it's no great surprise that libraries are keen on the Graphic Novel these days, and it's only fit that the library review literature is featuring GNs.

The really interesting thing I recently learned is that BWI, one of the leading distributors of children's and young adult books to public libraries, now offers an option for libraries to set up a standing order for all the titles that Kat reviews in her VOYA column.

Standing Order = Guaranteed Sales

We librarians really like standing orders; it's one of those things that makes our work much more managable. I should imagine that soon just about every library that deals with BWI and has a GN collection will sign up for this service (as Kat is generally seen as a very knowledgeable reviewer).

Publishers interesting in submitting their GNs for review by Kat in VOYA should see the information here.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Contest Linkblogging

Polite Dissent is giving away three copies of Nikolai Dante: The Romanov Dynasty.

Comic Book Galaxy is giving away Street Angel comics and art.

And remember, Blogity-Blog-Blog-Blog's Colonia Contest ends tonight, so get your entries in now.

And not a contest, but comics.212 has the info about Dave Sim & Jeff Smith Auctions For Tsunami Relief. (Which are already way beyond my price range...)

Origin Stories

Origin stories are boring.

Okay, that's not entirely true. The Secret Origin story is a staple of comics, and as a kid I remember learning the origin stories of super-heroes that I liked and being totally stoked. The difference is that these were origins for characters I already knew. But starting off with a long, involved origin for a previously unknown character is a sure way to boring the readers.

A perfect example of this is in the first Araña collection from Marvel, which I just read a couple of days ago. It tells the origin of the titular hero, and takes an entire six issues in which to do it. She doesn't even appear in her super-heroine outfit until the final page of the collection.

This is the kiss of death for a monthly serial. The origin is not the interesting story; it's background information. If the information in the origin is important to the story you're telling, then you can go back later and fill in for the reader. But don't start with an issues-long origin.

The original appearance of Superman disposed of the origin story in a couple of panels. It was only later, after Superman became an icon, that his origin was fleshed out (and out and out, ad absurdum).

Or take for example the modern-day classic, Watchmen. Alan Moore created a rich background mythology for the characters, but he starts out the story with the investigation of a murder; in other words, he starts the story at the begining of the actual story; all the background was filled in later, as needed.

But you don't have to be Alan Moore to do this right. Brian K. Vaughan understood this with his recent series Ex Machina (now in an inexpensive trade collection--go buy...) It's the story of a former super-hero who becomes mayor of New York, so the first issue starts with Mayor Hundred in his job. We are slowly being given the origin (both how he became a super-hero and how he became mayor) through flashbacks. Same with Vaughan's Runaways--by the end of the first issue, the kids have learned that their parents are evil super-villains and are on the run.

Super-hero movies are just as guilty as comics. I love the first Superman movie to death, but it takes well over an hour of Krypton and Smallville and the Fortress of Solitude before Chris Reeve dons the familiar red-and-blue tights and takes to flight. The first Spider-Man movie was good, but the second was even better, because the producers didn't have the need to show us the origin again. It took too long for the Green Goliath to appear in the Hulk movie, when let's face it, most people were there to see a big green CGI guy throw tanks around.

The super-hero movie that got it just right was Tim Burton's first Batman. We quickly learn that there's a guy who dresses up like a Bat and roams the city at night, beating up on criminals, and that in the daytime he's Billionare Bruce Wayne. Sure, later on we learn that he became Batman to avenge the deaths of his parents, but even then the movie doesn't dwell on it.

In contrast, the upcoming Batman Begins looks as though it's going to dwell on the Batman origin, which doesn't look too promising. Same with the Fantastic Four movie.

Think of all the good genre movies you've ever seen. How many begin with a long origin sequence? Did Raiders of the Lost Ark start with 45 minutes of young Indiana Jones getting his PhD in archaeology? Did Star Wars begin with the origin of Darth Vader?

Origin stories are not the point; they're background and should be treated as such. It should not take six issues to give us the origin of a character. An interested reader wants to read stories about a teenage girl with spider-powers, not a long drawn-out story about how said girl gets her spider-powers.

Because origin stories are boring.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Quick Comic Reviews

Detective Comics #802
by David Lapham, Ramon Bachs & Nathan Massengill
Last issue saw Lapham placing his stamp on the series, giving us an overview of his vision of Gotham as a methaphorically disease infested "City of Crime" and of Batman as the immune agent. While that issue set the foundation and brushed over many stories, this second issue focuses down on one, starting with a harrowing building fire that leads to the discovery of an illegal baby ring. This is Batman as noir, with a detective fighting against a corrupt system that allows the city's sickness to fester, and slowly realizing that the problem may be even deeper than it first appeared. It's not all unrelenting darkness though, as Lapham brings in Robin, who, though named Tim Drake, seems to be more in character with a young Dick Grayson. This final scene, with Batman meeting the mother of a victim he had come to know personally, shows us a Batman who can be dark and brooding yet still human, unlike the asshole Batman that seems to be in vogue in the other Bat-titles. If you like your Batman grim and gritty, Lapham shows the proper way to do it.
Rating: 4 (of 5)

Marvel Team-Up #4
by Robert Kirkman & Scott Kolins
After the enjoyable first three issues, the series heads off the rails with this installment. The cover promises a team-up between Iron Man and The Hulk, but the Green Goliath barely appears, and the 'Iron Man' in question is some sort of alternate-reailty Tony Stark as a Dr. Doom analogue; there's just as much of the Fantastic Four and Dr. Strange in this story as there is of the two top-billed characters. It would be okay if there was a point, but this issue just seems to be filler for the inevitable trade collection. The art by Kolins is just as good as ever though, with its dynamism matching well with the action-packed story.
Rating: 2 (of 5)

Concrete: The Human Dilema #1
by Paul Chadwick
Back in the late 80s, Paul Chadwick's Concrete was one of the first 'independent' (i.e. non-big two) comics I read regularly. The teeneger I was identified well with Concrete's literal alienation and constant introspection, and it was somewhat unique to encounter a comic that contained an element of adventure yet dealt with real-worl concerns. Reading The Human Dilema takes me back to those days, as Chadwick's Concrete has remained pretty much the same. Still focusing on environmental issues, Concrete is approached by a pizza magnate who wants Concrete to be the spokesperson for his radical population control campaign. Meanwhile, his assistant Larry pops the questio to his girlfriend, and while all seems to be well on that front, since this is Larry you just know that it's going to head in a bad direction.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

New This Week: January 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 tomorrow:

The pick of the week is Patty Cake & Friends #13 from Slave Labor/Amaze Ink. Scott Roberts' comic only comes out quarterly, but it's 48 pages of pure fun. Patty Cake and her friends are kind of like Peanuts is the kids acted more like real kids (and the stories were longer than four panels). It's good clean fun with a slab of sass on the side.

In other comics:

Dark Horse has the third issue of BPRD: The Dead.

DC has the collection of the first five issues of Ex Machina for their usual low introductory price of just $9.95, which makes it the perfect opportunity to catch up on one of the few books that's actually growing its audience. They also have new issues of Birds of Prey (#78); Human Target (#18)--who cares if it's cancelled, it's still good comics!; Lucifer (#58); Terra Obscura (v. 2 #5); and Plastic Man (#14)--buy it before it's too late!

Image has the first issue of Pigtale and the long-delayed final issue of The Secret Soc..., er, Wanted (#6).

Marvel has Hulk Visionaries: Peter David, vol. 1 as well as the final issue of David's entertaining Madrox (#5). Lots of Bendis, with new issues of Daredevil (#69), Powers (#8) and Ultimate Spider-Man (#71); and Peter Milligan's first issue of X-Men (#166), so we know he won't go without a roof over his head with Human target getting the axe.

Decent-sized weeks from the Big Two, but scant else of interest from the rest of the publishers. Must not be the last week of the month yet...

Oh, wait, there's the Stargate SG1 Fall of Rome Royal Blue Foil Cvr #1 (Of 3) for only $75 from Avatar--see my post last week about having too damn much money.

Fred Julsing

Over at The Comics Reporter, Tom Spugeon reports that Dutch comics creator Fred Julsing has passed away.

The sad thing is that, despite what was apparently a long and illustrious career, I'd never even heard of Julsing.

A quick visit over to this fansite shows me what I've been missing. Even though the site is in Dutch, I can look around enough to see that I would in all probability really like Julsing's work. It's, well, charming. A bit Miyazaki-esque at times, by way of Dr. Seuss, but with a charm all its own.

Sadly, a quick check for Dulsing in & shows nothing, which would seem to indicate that nothing by Julsing has ever been translated into English. Which is a shame, because Dulsing seems like a talent who should have had some exposure over here.

So, which publisher will step up to the plate and get us some translated Dulsing? Please?

Levitating Frogs

This may be the most important scientific paper ever written:

Berry, M. V. & Geim, A. K. (1997). "Of flying frogs and levitrons." European Journal of Physics 18: 307-313.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Fame and Fortune are Mine!

Well, okay, at least fleeting fame...

Yes, tis I who managed to upload the 75,000th cover to the Grand Comic Book Database over the weekend. The cover in question was The Agents #6; not the most exciting cover in the world, but you take your fame where you can get it.

I've actually only been uploading covers to GCD for a couple of weeks. Near the end of the holiday break I hauled my old (8+ years) scanner out of the closet and set to work getting it running. It's a SCSI scanner, so I had to take a SCSI card out of my old Mac and put it in the new one, find all the proper cables, and it worked! The more difficult part was getting driver software, as the manufacturer (UMAX) no longer supports this model on the Mac. I tried a couple of free, open source solutions but nothing worked terribly well, and I wasn't willing to put in the time it would take to figure out how to get things working. So I ended up paying a chunk of money for a thrid-party scanning solution which has way more features than I need and is a bit pricy, but worked on the first go and cost less than getting a whole new scanner.

So after a period of trial and error I've finally got it down to a system for getting decent scans of covers. I've been going through my boxes of recent comics (and by recent I mean within in the past 5 years), filling in holes in the GCD cover galleries. I contributed about 500 covers so far--here are a few of the more interesting ones:

Amelia Rules #3
Aquaman #8
Blue Monday: Absolute Beginners #3
The Books of Magick #3
Box Office Poison #20
Buffy, the Vampire Slayer: Spike & Dru #3
Eightball #21
Ex Machina #3
Fallen Angel #4
Galaxion #11
Girl Genius #8
Hawkman #21
Iron Man #59
JSA: All-Stars #4
Kabuki Agents: Scarab #3
Legion Lost #4
Liberty Meadows #7
Palooka-Ville #14
Patty Cake & Friends #2
Strangers in Paradise #44
Starman #73
Superman Adventures #58
Superman: The Man of Steel #112

More to come, I'm sure!

2004 Reading Lists

Yes, I keep track of everything I read. Isn't that sad?

Here then are all of the prose and graphic novels I read in 2004:

Books Read, Winter 2004
Books Read, Summer 2004
Books Read, Fall 2004

Graphic Novels Read, Winter 2004 (part 1)
Graphic Novels Read, Winter 2004 (part 2)
Graphic Novels Read, Winter 2004 (part 3)
Graphic Novels Read, Winter 2004 (part 4)

Graphic Novels Read, Summer 2004 (part 1)
Graphic Novels Read, Summer 2004 (part 2)
Graphic Novels Read, Summer 2004 (part 3)
Graphic Novels Read, Summer 2004 (part 4)

Graphic Novels Read, Fall 2004 (part 1)
Graphic Novels Read, Fall 2004 (part 2)
Graphic Novels Read, Fall 2004 (part 3)
Graphic Novels Read, Fall 2004 (part 4)
Graphic Novels Read, Fall 2004 (part 5)

The best book I read in all of 2004 was probably The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon, which turns the detective novel on its ear and uses the structure of a mystery novel to explore life with autism.

Sunday, January 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.

Who is that on the shoulder of Bizarro Brainiac 5 on the cover of Legion of Super-Heroes #114? It's Bizarro Koko! This cover by Alan Davis & Mark Farmer is our second (of two) Bizarro Monkey covers, following Bizarro Titano from the week before last..

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

Friday, January 14, 2005

Quick DC Comic Reviews

Action Comics #823
by Chuck Austen, Ivan Reis & Marc Campos
Part two of "Repo-Man" is better than most of the recent issues of Action, though that's not really saying much. The bulk of the issue is a fight scene between Superman & the titular bad guy (whose motivation is, um, being bad?) with the aid of Superboy. Fortunately Reis & Campos excel at fight scenes, so while the comic is slight, at least it looks good. The remainder of the issue is filled out by two pages of the Preus subplot, one page of Doomsday 'Thoom'ing around Metropolis (yet still undetected!) and Lois and Lana acting like bratty high schoolers. I do like the cover though, which seems a throwback to something that would've come from the title in the 60s or 70s.
Rating: 2 (of 5)

Majestic #1
by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Neil Googe & Trevor Scott
Speaking of slight, not much happens in the first issue of the ongoing Majestic series either. Superman & The Eradicator return with Majestic to the WildStorm universe, only to find itempty of all animal life (including humans) yet otherwise intact. The many one- and two-panel pages give us ample opportunity to gaze at Googe & Scott's rather good skill at drawing cityscapes and backgrounds, and the battle against the giant alien robots iw well-handled as well. But a $3 introductory issue needs to take more than 4 minutes to read, don't you think?
Rating: 2.5 (of 5)

Breach #1
by Bob Harras, Marcos Martin & Alvaro Lopez
Ex-Marvel E-i-C Bob Harras comes to DC to essentially re-tell Cary Bates's Captain Atom #1 from 1987. He's joined by artists Martin & Lopez, for whom I predict great things someday, but this probably won't be it. Still, there are several great scenes to gaze upon, incluing the opening sequence and the shot fo the supercolider that it's certainly worth a look-through. But the story, while mostly competent, does not present a compelling main character.
Rating: 2.5 (of 5)

Green Arrow #46
by Judd Winick, Tom Fowler & Rodney Ramos
As the cover suggests, GA sponsors the new Speedy into the Teen Titans. It's a good change-of-pace issue, keeping the ongoing narrative going while taking a breather from the seriousness by lightening things up a bit. The new art team of Fowler & Ramos is a mixed bag; the opening scenes are quite nice, with animated character and great flow, while the later scenes with the Titans seem stiff and awkward. Chalk it up to growing pains, as I expect that we'll see the new guys settle in nicely within a couple of issues.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Prof. Gloeckner

I finally got the chance to meet Phoebe Gloeckner in person on Tuesday. We didn't have a chance to talk for long, but she was very personable and intelligent. One of the courses she's teaching here is Art & Design 419: "ILLUSTRATION: Comics & Other Visual Narratives":

This course focuses on how words and pictures are used together in narrative expression, examining various genres of art and literature. A historical survey of historical and contemporary examples from literature and the visual arts and everything in between, from The Bayeux Tapestry and William Hogarth through William Blake and Robert Crumb. Students will be asked to create their own narrative pieces incorporating words and pictures; for example, a multi-page comic story or a series of paintings.

Anyway, this also gives me a good excuse to link to Prof. Gloeckner's recent photo essay. (Link via The Comics Reporter, among others.)

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Quick Comic Reviews

Batman/Danger Girl
by Andy Hartnell, Leinil Yu & Gerry Alanguilan
This comic provides everything its title suggests, i.e. Abby Chase and the Danger Girl crew running around Gotham City for some MacGuffin-esque reason while running into Bruce Wayne, Batman, The Joker, Catwoman, etc. It's no deep-meaning work of art, but c-mon: it's Batman/Danger Girl for crying out loud! I've noticed over the past few years that Yu's art has become more and more stylized and that trend continues here, though he still maintains his excellent ability to present an action scene with aplomb. IT all makes for a fun, light-hearted read.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Youngblood: Imperial #1
by Robert Kirkman & Marat Mychaels
In this issue, poor Doc Rocket is suffering from severe back trauma which causes her to bend over unnatually as she races against time to find a chiropractor to fix her ailments before she is sidelined for good. Okay, that's not actually the plot, just what is suggested by that horrible pose on Rob Liefeld's cover. In fact, Doc Rocket barely appears in this comics at all, just showing up in the crowd shots on a couple of splash panels. The real plot of this book is, um, oh heck, I have no idea. It's all just seems to be pointless fight scenes and random posing. This comic is so poorly written and illustrated that I wonder if the creators are purposely parodying early 90s Image comics. Alas, probably not.
Rating: 1.5 (of 5)

B.P.R.D.: The Dead #2
by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, & Guy Davis
While Abe Sapien confronts his mysterious past in an old New England house, the rest of the B.P.R.D. crew moves into their new headquarters and tries to adjust to their new boss and surroundings. Not a lot actually happens here, but what does occur is tension-filled and moody and so nicely drawn that the slow pace of the plot doesn't bother me much at all. I continue to be along for the ride.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

New This Week: January 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 tomorrow:

The pick of the week is Jason Lutes's Berlin, book 1 trade collection from Drawn & Quarterly. This is actually a reissue, but it's definitely worth picking up if you haven't yet encountered it. Lutes's drafting and drawing is exquisite, deceptively simple but actually dense and detailed. The art would be enough for me to recommend Berlin, but there's also a fascinating story of love and politics set in the Weimar Republic-era.

In other comics:

Atomeka has Hero Squared Xtra Sized Special #1, from the crew that brought us Formerly Known as the Justice League.

Avatar has the final two of Warren Ellis's Apparat books, Angel Stomp Future & Simon Spector.

Beckett has the seventh issue of Ruule: Kiss and Tell.

DC has the collection of Gail Simone's first Birds of Prey stories in the Sensei & Student collection, as well as Rucka & Johnson's Wonder Woman in the Bitter Rivals collection. The start of Dixon, Beatty & McDaniel's "Nightwing: Year One" is in Nightwing #101, and Mr. Majestic returns to the WildStorm universe in yet another Majestic #1. Also from DC are new issues of Fables (#33), Gotham Central (#27), JLA (#110) & JSA (#69).

Image has the first issue of Darkness/Superman, and something called Two Bits, which I couldn't tell you anything about, but it's only a quarter.

Marvel has the first Araña digest and the first District X trade, a second Marvel Knights 4 trade, the first issue of Stormbreaker: The Saga of Beta Ray Bill, and new issues of Captain America & The Falcon (#11), New Thunderbolts (#4), Pulse (#7), She-Hulk (#11), The Punisher (#16), and Ultimates 2 (#2).

Oni has the second Love Fights collection.

Finally, if for some reason you were considering buying the Youngblood Imperial Premium Signed Edition for $24.99, please for the love of all that's right and good take that money and instead donate it to a worthy cause. You have too much damn money.

Quick GN Reviews

She-Hulk, vol. 1; Single Green Female
by Dan Slott, Juan Bobillo, Paul Pellitier, Marcelo Sosa, Roland Paris, Tom Simmons & Don Hillsman
Sometimes you can believe the hype. She-Hulk turns out to be one of the most interesting and fun titles that Marvel has put out recently, and this trade colelcts the first six issues. After She-Hulk's partying lifestyle causes her to get kicked out of Avengers Mansion and her super-hero doings cause her to lose her job as a prosecuting attorney, she finds heself approached to work for the prestigious law firm of Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg & Holliway. The catch is that the firm wants Jennifer Walters, not her alter ego She-Hulk, so Jen has to spend her time in court de-powered, a state that she is not used to living in. Thus begins the fun as Jen adjusts to her new life and takes on cases with a non-traditional bent, such as a ghost testifying at his own murder, or Spider-Man suing J. Jonah Jameson for libel. The art in the first four chapters is by Bobillo, whose clean line and slightly cartoony style and really shines in the many non-action scenes. The final two-part story is more of a traditional super-hero story, and Pellitier's more action-oriented art serves it well. If depressing super-hero mega-events are getting you down, try She-Hulk for a dose of old fashioned fun with a modern twist.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

Human Target, book 2: Living in America
by Peter Milligan & Cliff Chiang
In this second collection of the regular Vertigo series, Milligan continues to explore the concepts of identity and American nationality in ways both interesting and thought-provoking. The opening chapter is a story of Christopher Chance taking on the identity of a priest who has been targeted by an assassin, and while you won't be surprised by where the plot goes, it does offer an intriguing look at the nature of faith and forgiveness. The longest story in the collection is the three-part "Which Way the Wind Blows," which finds Chance entangled in a web of violence and deceit involving ex-60's radicals, modern-day anarchists, and the Feds, and interoduces what may be a long-term antagonist for Chance. The book closes with another one-shot, in which Chance takes on the identity of an escaped convict who wants the chance to live free for just five days so he can live life to the fullest. Throughout the book Milligan's writing skills are at the top of their form, and the art by Chiang looks great and moves the stories forward with seeming effortlessness (though as we can see by Chiang's bonus materials, it does require a good deal of effort!) Anyone looking for intelligent action comics should give Human Target a look.
Rating: 4 (of 5)

Monday, January 10, 2005

Very Quick What If... Reviews

I don't feel like doing even my normal quick reviews for these, so here are some very quick reviews:

The best of the lot was the Fantastic Four (What If Doctor Doom Had Become The Thing?), but then I've always liked Karl Kesel's FF, and it's always a treat to see art by Paul Smith. Peter David & Pat Olliffe's Hulk (What If General Ross Had Become The Hulk?) was good too. The Spider-Man one (What If Aunt May Had Died Instead of Uncle Ben?) was okay, even if it took a few jumps in logic.

The two by Bendis (What If Jessica Jones Had Joined The Avengers? & What If Karen Page Had Lived?) were pretty bad. The worst offense they both made was to spend half of the issue recapping what happened in the 'real' Marvel Universe, which only left a few pages for the actual story, which was told in summary fashion rather than as an actual story. The worst of the lot was the Daredevil (...Karen Page...), wherein Matt Murdock's actions really made no sense at all, and weren't compelled by the change in history, just DD deciding to do something different.

Sunday, January 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.

In honor of Will Eisner, here's his cover from 1990's The Spirit #70, as The Spirit gets tangled up with a freaked-out gorilla in a cargo net.

(Standard disclaimer about gorillas not really being monkeys applies.)

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

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Quick Post

Not much to say today, as I'm trying to finish Tim Powers' Declare in time for a discussion group on Tuesday; I"m only halfway through and I tend to be a rather slow reader of prose at times, especially when it's dense like this book is.

I picked up the Comic Zone issue of Disney Adventures at the grocery store today--there's a two page strip by Matt Feazell. Yes, that Matt Feazell! In a Disney comic.

Yesterday I stopped by Jim O's office in between meetings and he showed me the 'rough' cover art by Mark Schultz for his next GN, the one with cowboys and dinosaurs (I forget the exact name) (and yes, it's non-fiction) (Zander Cannon is doing the interior art). I put 'rough' in quotes because it really wasn't rough at all, it's tight pencils and very cool. I also learned what Steve Lieber's next project is going to be, but I'm not sure if it's supposed to be public knowledge or not so I shan't say anything, other than it'll be a creator-owned thing.

Friday, January 07, 2005

No Previews-o-Rama This Month

Around this time each month I would normally post my lengthy two-part Previews-o-Rama, wherein I would hilite things of interest in the current Previews. Alas there will be no Previews-o-Rama this month because I do not have a copy of Previews.

You see, my Local Comic Shop (LCS) came under new management a few months ago--they're now part of a chain of some sort--and one of the many changes they've instituted in that they're no longer giving away Previews to customers.

This is just the latest in a number of unfortuante changes that the new management has made to the LCS. Others include:

Much less shelf space devoted to graphic novels. Formerly there were 8 ranges of manga, which has now been lowered to 3. Those 3 ranges of manga have taken the place of 3 ranges of the independent GNs, which are now down to 4 (from 7). Shelf space devoted to DC, Marvel, Image & Dark Horse GNs has also decreased.

Less shelf space devoted to independent comics, down from 4 racks to 3.

New comics each week are now racked all together (instead of interspersed with the rest of the comics) and shelved way in the back of the store, in a place with very little room to stand--basically causes a big traffic jam on Wednesday.

Elimination of the subscriber discount (as of February), from 20% to 0%.

No more female employees. The store has always had at least a couple of female employees; there is always a turnover rate at a store like this, but those that have left have been replaced with white males. This may be just a coincidence, and I have nothing against white males (being one myself), but it does make one wonder.

There has also been a general decrease in the level of customer service over the past few months. I might be able to live with some of the changes (after all, with the Internet, I don't need a free copy of Previews) but taken all together it's just too much. It seems that the new management is intent on de-emphasizing comics at the store--it's also a gaming store; they used to be big on manga and anime too, although that aspect of the business has curiously decreased down to almost nil at this point*. And instead of a diverse store that handled 'mainstream', manga and indy comics with equal emphasis, it's moving towards being one of those 'front-of-the-catalog' stores.

Fortunately for me, I saw the writing on the wall last month and decided to switch all of my comic buying over to DCBS, starting with comics scheduled to ship in February. It won't be the same as going to the shop every Wednesday for the new comics, but with weekly shipping from DCBS I'll get my comics on the following Monday or Tuesday anyway. Plus, the discount will be much greater. The downside is that I have to pre-order a couple of months in advance (and pay in advance as well).

(BTW, the only reason I know that the subscriber discount is going away is because I overheard another customer ask one of the employees about a rumor he had heard that the discount was going away, and I subsequently asked about it myself and it was confirmed--so far there has been no notification or announcement of any kind.)

I've been a loyal, weekly customer at LCS for over ten years, spending over $200 per month, but no longer. I was willing to support a local business that was dedicated to being a quality comic store, but now that they're part of a chain and seem to no longer want to be a good store they've lost me as a customer.

It's really all kind of sad.

(Oh, if you're looking for a good Previews round up, I'd suggest Tegan's Flipping Through Previews over at Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog.)

* There is an entire store in town devoted to manga & anime though, as well as a B&N and 2 Borders with huge manga sections

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Annoying Post About the Sidebar

I spent some time this morning on the links in the sidebar. I've added in several that I've been reading lately, removed a couple of dead blogs, and organized them somewhat. They're now divided into three categories: Comics Blogs, Creator Blogs, and Publisher Blogs, and within each category they're now organized by an obscure system I learned back in library school called 'The Alphabet.'

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Library Comics List

I've finished compiling my recommended purchases for our initial comics and graphic novel collection here at the library. If you're interested, you can take a look at it here (I apologize in advance for the crappy M$ Excel output).

You'll notice that it's a fairly broad list, as I was tring to represent a wide range of the world of comics. If you don't see something obvious on the list, it's probably because we already have it, or else I know that we're getting it through some other means and/or it's already in the pipeline.

Thanks to everyone who helped out by offering suggestions.

(To save you from having to count, the list is 400 titles long...)

NPR & NYT on Eisner

Morning Edition's Renee Montagne has a very brief (1:13) segment on Will Eisner's passing, which you can listen to here.

And for the New York Times' obit, could they have possibly picked a worse The Spirit illustration to accompany it?

A New Year, A New Contest

Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag at Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog starts off the new year with a contest, where you can win a copy of Jeff Nicholson's Colonia: Islands and Anomolies collection. I've been a fan of Nicholson's since coming across his Lost Laughter many years ago, and his Through the Habitrails is rightfully considered a classic. Colonia is his most recent and one of his best, so if you haven't read it I encourage you to enter Laura's contest (deadline: January 20).

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Big Box o' Comics

Another big box of comics from DCBS today. Let's open it up and see what's inside:

Samurai Executioner, vol. 2
ElfQuest; the Grand Quest, vol. 6
Remote, vol. 4
Peach Fuzz, vol. 1
DearS, vol. 1
Strangers in Paradise Pocket Book 2
Little Lulu, vol. 1: Lulu Goes Shopping
Global Frequency, vol. 2: Detonation Radio
The Courageous Princess
Transgenesis 2029 #1: Fides
The White Lama, book 2: Road to Redemption
Astonishing X-Men, vol. 1: Gifted
New X-Men - Academy X, vol. 1: Choosing Sides
Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne, vol. 3
Manga Mover #1
Warren Ellis' Quit City
Batman / Danger Girl
The Hardy Boys #2
Temporary #1
Hunter-Killer #0
All of last week's What If... one-shots.
Comics Buyer's Guide #1601

Lots more reading to be done. Where will I find the time???

New This Week: January 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 tomorrow:

The Pick of the Week is Larry Young's Proof of Concept from AiT/PlanetLAR, in which Larry 'pitches' a bunch of high concept comics concepts at you, the reader, with the aid of artists Kieron Dwyer, Damian Coucerio, Steven Sanders, Jeff Johns, Paul Tucker, John Flynn & John Heebink.

In other comics:

Abstract and Terry Moore's Strangers in Paradise #70, hits the stores, just in time for its special Christmas-themed cover.

Antarctic's Gold Digger #59 starts a new storyline.

DC has the second issue of Davad Lapham's Detective Comics arc (#802); the first issue of Breach (in today's current comics climate, I give it ten issues, max); the first issue of Scott McLoud's Superman: Strength (I'll be waiting for the trade); and new issues of Firestorm (#9), The Intimates (#3), and The Question (#3).

Image has the return of Flaming Carrot (#1), a new Noble Causes (#6), and a second Liberty Meadows trade collection.

Marvel has the first issue of Peter David's return to the Incredible Hulk (#77), and Ed Brubaker's second issue of Captain America (#2). They also have the second issue of New Avengers, but if you're interested in this you know that they're going to release it in a trade, where you'll be able to read a more-or-less complete story at once, with no ads, for less money.

It's a very light week (as the first week of the month typically is). So if you've got a little extra money in your pocket, why not try something by Will Eisner? There's no finer tribute to a creator than enjoying that person's work, and your local comic shop should have plenty of Eisner on their GN shelves to choose from. (And if your LCS doesn't carry any Eisner, you need to find a better comic shop.)

Quick Political GN Reviews

Warning: The following post contains half-assed political analysis and rhetoric which may not agree with your own views, may or may not agree with those of the writer of this blog, or even be particularly accurate.

The Walking Dead, vol. 2: Miles Behind Us
by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn
Wouldn't it be great if there were no rules, if people could do what they wanted without the interference of government? After all, people are basically good, and it's hierarchy and imposed authority that are responsible for society's ills. In this anarchist dystopa, Kirkman explores this notion, ultimately rejecting it. The characters in The Walking Dead, finding themselves in a world without rules and where it's every man for his or herself, yearn for the reimposition of governmental authority. With no social structre to rely on they are at the whims of the malignant other, both ignorant and evil. Is it because they were raised in an authoritative state and are thus unable to cope with authority is removed, or does mankind need hierarchy and authority to function as a society? Oh yeah, there are zombies eating people and getting blown away too. The zombies represent the ultimate threat to an anarchist society, creatures motivated solely by their own id, the thoughtless mass that threatens the rational man. But it's the so-called rational man that is the true enemy, as human desires and petty jealousies can cause even the best intensioned to act out in manner contrary to the group, and even a temporary lapse in judgment can have devastating results. The art by Adlard & Rathburn ably illustrates the quiet, talky scenes along with the zombie brain-eating scenes. It's all subtext, baby.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

Everyman, vol. 1: Be the People
by The Brothers Goldman & Joe Bucco
In this political thriller, a group of politically-minded gen-x'ers form an Internet site, One Love, which seeks to galvanize people into political action in the run-up to the 2004 election. When a White House staffer uncovers a plot by the 'Birch' administration to steal the election by rigging electronic voting machines across the country, the group moves into action and exposes the treachery after the election. It is at this point that the story veers off into a progressive political fantasy, as the people of the United States rise up and demand a re-vote. Alas, as the real election just showed us, most people in this country are content to believe whatever spills out of their television set and cannot be moved to political action, or even worse be moved to support a candidate whose election would be counter to their own best interests as long as that candidate says that they share your 'values' are agrees with you on one key issue. Reading Everyman, you may come to believe that it's possible for truth to win out in the end and for The People to take back this country from the corporations and their political lackys, but it's a hollow, empty fantasy. In the real world, the forces of ignorance and apathy will always win out over a handful of idealists. Still, The Goldmans tell an exciting political thriller, and Bucco's layouts are storytelling are pretty good, even if his figure-drawing needs some work to be effective.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Monday, January 03, 2005

No Matter Where You Go, There You Are

One of the greatest movies of all time is coming to a comic book store near you.

Johanna at Cognitave Dissonance has the news that Moonstone Books will be doing a comic based on Buckaroo Bonzai, the copiously quotable 1984 film. The all-new stories will be written by the film's writer Earl Mac Rauch and the film's director will be involved as well. Moonstone published the very good Cyclone Bill & The Tall Tales so in all it looks like this should be a very enjoyable comic.

I've been waiting 20 years for Buckaroo Banzai vs The World Crime League!

Quick Manga Reviews

Negima! vol. 2
by Ken Akamatsu
How can you not like a comic in which the first half is devoted to a saga called "The Baka Rangers and the Secret Library Island"? Negi and several of his students infiltrate the school's huge library (which, as the title suggests, takes up an entire small island in the bay) in order to access a magic book that will help the students ace the year-end exams and thus prevent the class from being split up and Negi from losing his job. But the library turns out to be riddled with traps, and with Negi's magic powers blocked they all must survive Indiana Jones style until they reach the tropical island study room deep in the bowels of the library (which of course provides plenty of opportunity for the girls to lose their clothes...) With the premise of the series established, Akamatsu starts to flesh out the large cast. His art is leps and bounds ahead of his work on Love Hina, with strong, consistant characters, excelent action and storytelling, and some lush, detailed backgrounds. Yes, there is a copious amount of fan service, but with the protagonist being a ten-year-old boy it all comes off as mostly playful and teasing, rather than creepy and perverted. The translation by Peter & Kathleen David remains one of the best manga translating jobs being done today.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Crayon Shichan, vol. 1
by Yoshito Usui
This collection of three-page strips feature Shichan, a five-year-old with a penchant for getting into trouble and annoying the adults around him. If you've spent any time around kids this age, you know that they have (in Freudian terms) massively developed egos and not much in the way of superegos. Shichan is no exception, and while he's not a bad kid, he can be humorously exasperating. As with most collections of this type, it is best enjoyed in small doses, as a certain amount of sameness can creep in if read all at once.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Sunday, January 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.

The first Monkey Cover of 2005 is 1962's Adventure Comics #295. John Forte's cover illustrates Jerry Siegel's "Tales of the Bizarro World" story: "The Kookie Super-Ape." That's right, a Bizarro version of Titano, with Blue Kryptonite vision. I tell ya, they just don't make comics like this any more (but we're holding out hope for Morrison & Quitely's upcoming All-Star Superman...)

(Standard disclaimer about apes not really being monkeys applies.)

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

Saturday, January 01, 2005


Happy New Year!

(Cover of Action Comics #810 by David Bullock. Courtesy of GCD. Click for larger-size image.)