Tuesday, April 29, 2008

May is Free Comic Book Month 4 at YACB!

May is rapidly approaching, so you know what that means: Free Comic Book Month!

May 3 is Free Comic Book Day, but here at YACB one day isn't good enough. For the fourth straight year, we'll be giving away free comics every day of May!

That's right, free comics! Each day of May I'll pick someone to receive a free comic, taken from my personal collection: duplicates, things I have in trades, and other stuff. My goal is to match up people with a comic that they haven't read but that they may like. My tastes are wide and varied, so chances are I've got a comic for you.

And by free I mean free. Really. No cost, no shipping & handling, all free.

Here's what you need to do to enter:

By email (superman@umich.edu), send me the following:

* Your name
* Your postal address
* Titles of five comics that you like
* Please include 'FCBM' in the subject line

That's it! For every day of May I'll choose at least one entry and try to match up that person with a comic, then I'll mail the comic to him or her. It's easy, and it's free!

Last year I gave away 111 comics to 49 different people!

Of course, there are a few restrictions:

* You must be 18 or older
* You must live in the United States
* You may enter at any point during May, but only one entry per person.

And a little bit of fine print:

* Persons receiving comics are chosen by me, based on whether I feel I can provide a comic to you
* Even if you've entered in previous years, you're welcome to enter again
* I'll try my best, but there's no guarantee you'll actually like the comic I send
* All winners will be announced here on Yet Another Comics Blog (please let me know if you don't want your real name used)
* At least one winner will be selected each day, but it may take me a few days to get to the post office, so please be patient
* I will not use your address to spam you, nor sell or give your information to others

But wait, there's more!

Each person who has a free comic chosen for him/her will also receive a copy of the 2007 Halloween ashcan edition of either Marvel Adventure Iron Man #1 or Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge (featuring a classic story by the legendary Carl Barks). (Let me know if you have a preference, though no guarantees; and if I go overboard again his year and run out I may substitute something else.)

That's right, two free comics! How could you ask for anything more?

So what are you waiting for? Send in your entry today!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Three to Read for Monday, April 28

* Steve Duin: The Beanworld, Resurrected (via Dirk)

* All the Comics in the World: The Boys of Shojo Manga (also via Dirk)

* Mindless Ones: Candyfloss Horizons Forever! (via Brian Cronin)

Monday Morning Music

My favorite new album is Through These Walls by Hilary McRae. She's the first developing artist signed to Starbucks' Hear Music label (but don't hold that against her!) Imagine that Joss Stone found a bunch of previously unknown early-Chicago charts in a drawer somewhere and decided to record them, and you'll have a sense of what McRae's music is like.

Here's her first video, for the album's opening track "Every Day (When Will You Be Mine)":

You can listen to the entire album by streaming it from Last.fm

If you like what you hear, you can purchase the album from iTunes and Amazon.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Night Fights: Conan vs. Guys with Swords

From The Savage Sword of Conan #13. Story by Roy Thomas. Art by Gil Kane, Ralph Reese & Dan Adkins. (click pic for larger)

A classic? By Crom!

Upcoming Interview with Paul Hornschemeier

On Saturday, March 17, as part of the 2008 Ann Arbor Book Festival, I'll be conducting a live on-stage interview with cartoonist & graphic novelist Paul Hornschemeier, creator of such works as Mother, Come Home & The Three Paradoxes. I've read some of Hornschemeier's work and liked what I've read, so I'm looking forward to spending the next couple of weeks boning-up on the rest of his oeuvre in anticipation of what should be an interesting interview. The interview will be at 3:30pm in the Kalamazoo Room in the Michigan League (on the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan).

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Late Shipping Hall of Shame, Part 2: The Readers Strike Back!

There was overwhelming response to my first Late Shipping Hall of Shame post, not only here on this blog but elsewhere as well. As promised, I'm compiling some of your suggestions here, selecting several more comics to be added to the Late Shipping Hall of Shame.

Okay, here we go:

Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do - Kevin Smith is always high in demand as one of the first big-name movie writers to dabble in comics, with his work on Daredevil & Green Arrow breathing new life into second-string characters that many had thought past their prime. So teaming him with fan-favorite artists Terry & Rachel Dodson on a Spider-Man project seemed like a great idea. Sure, the project might run a little late; while both the writer and artists didn't have a sterling track record, up to that point they hadn't seen some of the obscene delays that had plagued others. But putting them on a mini-series meant that Marvel could be a bit more tolerant of delays. Heck, Smith even went on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to plug the book! But did anyone foresee a delay of over three years between issues three and four? I wonder if Smith wishes he'd kept on comics instead of shooting Jersey Girl? At least Smith came back to finish it, even if he set a record for a gap in a mini-series; a record that is in danger of being broken by:

Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk - A tale as old as time: Hollywood writer with a love of comics gets a chance to write a mini-series featuring his favorite super-heroes. He gets started, then better-paying Hollywood gigs get in the way and the next thing you know your comic is over two years late... and counting. Marvel and Lost impressario Damon Lindelof swear that the series will eventually be completed, and we believe them. Really...

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Yeah, we forgive Moore for Watchmen, as it wasn't nearly as late as our collective memory thinks it was. But LXG, after three monthly issues, took another another sixteen months to finish up its final three issues. Many people still admire Moore as a writer, but with the delays on this comic and others in the America's Best Comics line, Moore's ability to sell floppies has atrophied, with fans preferring to wait for the trade instead of dealing with long delays in the middle of his intricate plots.

Rising Stars - J. Michael Straczynski's super-powered magnum opus for Top Cow suffered a nearly two-year delay near the end, between issues #21 & 22, but it wasn't the same old Hollywood writer story. Instead, JMS was protesting being cut out of film-rights negotiations for his property and delayed his scripts. Communications broke down between the parties, but once Top Cow issued an apology (along with a transfer of some minor intellectual property) the final three issues of the series were completed.

Astro City - Kurt Busiek & Brent Anderson's fan-favorite street-level view of super-heroes never maintained a perfect monthly record, but one of the more unusual episodes in the annals of late shipping books occured when writer Busiek came down with mercury poisoning and book was delayed for nearly a year as he was unable to concentrate enough to write the intricate scripts. Thankfully Busiek recovered, and DC have enough confidence in him to give him the job writing the lead story in their upcoming weekly Trinity series. But Astro City never really recovered, and after transitioning to a series of mini-series and one-shots its sales have never recovered.

Ministry of Space - Artist Chris Weston showed up in the comments of the original Hall of Shame post to nominate his and Warren Ellis's retro-future space series for the long delay between its second and final issues. We forgive you, Chris!

No, this isn't the end of the Late Shipping Hall of Shame; there's still plenty more to come. Look for part three at some point probably next week. In the meantime, please keep your nominations coming!

Monday, April 21, 2008

New Library Comics: Week of April 14, 2008

Here's a list of the comics we added to our library collection last week:

Di Gregorio, Giovanni. Brancaccio : storie di mafia quotidiana / Levada di Ponte di Piave, Treviso : BeccoGiallo, 2006.

Kannemeyer, Anton. The big bad bitterkomix handbook / Johannesburg : Jacana, 2006.

Kryttre, Krystine. The [pound squiggle spiral star] coloring book / San Francisco : Last Gasp, c2001.

Marx, Christy. Writing for animation, comics & games / Amsterdam ; Boston : Focal Press, c2007.

This listing is available as an RSS Feed!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

This just might be the greatest thing ever...

You can keep your All Star Batman & Robin. Now we've got what just might be the greatest comic ever:

Armageddon Now: World War 3

Rob Liefeld adapts the Book of Revelation.

What is it?
a new, original 120-page graphic novel planned for release this summer as part one of an eventual 5-part book series.

Sayeth Rob:
I've already heard how violent it is and I'm like, "Have you ever read the Bible before?" You’re not likely to find a more violent, sexual, treacherous book.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Review: Ganges #2

Ganges #2
by Kevin Huizenga
Fantagraphics, $7.95

I loved the first issue of Ganges, Kevin Huizenga's title in Fantagraphics & Coconino's Ignatz line of high quality oversized comics, and honestly didn't know if he would ever be able to meet or exceed the quality in future issues. Oh, how wrong I was (and delightfully so!)

The second issue of Ganges–which like the first centers around Huizenga's everyman character Glann Ganges–consists of two loosely-linked stories. The first is nothing less than a head-trip that somehow combines the aesthetics of Larry Marder's Beanworld with a Japanese fighting video game (a la Mortal Kombat). It's a tour-de-force that on its own would make this a comic worth our attention, but that's only the first third of this comic. It segues into the second story, "Pulverize," which begins by revealing that the game is one that the titular Glenn Ganges has been playing late at night. Glenn then falls into one of his frequent reveries in which he remembers his time spent working at a turn-of-the-century Internet start-up, and the frequent after-hours sessions the employees there spent playing a multi-player first-person shooter, Pulverize. Any further plot summary wouldn't do justice to the story, but suffice to say that Huizenga deftly interweaves his narrative, playing with the interaction between the real and virtual in a way that appears much more effortless than it is.

If there was any question as to Huizenga's role as one of the top cartoonists of the decade, Ganges #2 safely puts those questions to rest. There's no doubt that this comic will appear on my eventual best of 2008 list.

Rating: 4.5 (of 5)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Late Shipping Hall of Shame Update

Thanks to everyone for your comments and suggestions on the Late Shipping Hall of Shame, and to Mike & Johanna for their helpful linkage and commentary. I've been going over your suggestions both here and elsewhere in anticipation of adding more titles to the Hall of Shame in a post later this week; in the meantime, keep those suggestions coming!

I'm thinking that I will most likely add a couple of sub-categories: Unfinished Business, for series that disappear and are never finished; and Vaporware, for titles which are announced but never materialize.

Five to Read (or Hear) for Monday, April 14

* Marketplace Money: Work Life: Comic store manager (audio)

* Redhead Fangirl: Redhead Fangirl's tips for attending a big comicon

* Comics Should Be Good: Saturday's Literary License (via Tegan)

* TangognaT: Toshokan Sensō - Library War Episode 1 and More Library War

* Panels & Pixels: Graphic Lit: An interview with Françoise Mouly (via JK Parkin)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Review: A People's History of American Empire

A People's History of American Empire
By Howard Zinn, Mike Konopacki, & Paul Buhle
$17.00/$30.00, Metropolitan Books

This graphic historical narrative is an adaptation of sorts of ideas from Zinn's classic A People's History of the United States. Those familiar with Zinn's works will not be surprised to know that American History in this work is viewed through the lenses of class and race conflict domestically and imperialism internationally.

Any historical graphic narrative labors in the shadows of the work of Larry Gonick. Unfortunately, Zinn, Konopacki & Buhle fall short in this comparison. Gonick is an accomplished cartoonist and entertaining storyteller who makes ample use of (often irreverent) humor while presenting his sometimes out-of-the-mainstream histories; A People's History of American Empire (APHoAE) features adequate but by no means exemplary cartooning and is a consitantly serious and humorless affair.

As Gonick does with his comics, Zinn is used as a narrative character within APHoAE--a technique that force comparisons with superior works. However, Zinn also appears in some chapters as a viewpoint character. This serves to muddy the waters as to whether APHoAE is meant to be a historical memoir or an objective view of history.

Another curious decision is to make liberal use of historical photographs within the work, often in place of regular drawn panels. There seems to be little rhyme or reason for what has been chosen to be drawn and what is represented by a photograph. Also, the reproduction of most of the photographs is quite poor and tends to downgrade the visual quality of the book.* Konopacki is a good enough artist that these photograph panels could have been drawn, and doing so would have given the work better visual cohesion.

Whether or not one agrees with Zinn's political and/or historical views, A People's History of American Empire is a less-than-compelling work of graphic narrative.

Rating: 2 (of 5)

* (This review is based on an advance reading copy provided by the publisher. As an uncorrected proof, there is a statement that reads 'some illustrations are not final,' which seems like a very odd thing to do for review copies of a comic-format work.)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Quick Review: Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four #34

This comics has:

Sue Storm vs. the Bwindi Gorilla cult

Ben Grimm vs. a fake Hulk

Johnny Storm vs. a kissing booth

Reed Richards vs. The Mad Thinker & His Awesome Android

And that's just the tip of the iceberg in this issue by Paul (Banana Sunday) Tobin and David (Private Beach) Hahn. You'll be hard-pressed to find a more enjoyable Fantastic Four comic this year (at least until their next issue!)

Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

The Late Shipping Hall of Shame

These days, comics are late all the time. But some late-shipping titles stand out, due to their extreme lateness, frequncy of lateness, or their impact. For those titles, we are creating the Late Shipping Hall of Shame!

Here are our nominees:

Camelot 3000 - The granddaddy of them all. Back in the days of newsstand distribution, comics just weren't late. If a story wasn't ready to go in time, the editor would pull an inventory story from the drawer and run it instead. Because the newsstand distribution wasn't going to wait for the next issue of X-Men or Batman. But Camelot 3000 was one of DC's first direct-only titles, so the newsstand rules didn't apply. Brian Bolland is a wonderful artist, but these days editors know that to give the man a monthly book would be crazy talk. A number of delays plagued the book, with the result that the final isuse of the twelve-issue series came out more than a year later than originally planned. Not the worst delay ever, but certainly a harbinger of things to come...

Action Comics, Superman & Wonder Woman ca. late 2006/early 2007 - 2006 was to be a big year for Superman & Wonder Woman, with high-profile creative teams coming on board to give these stalwarts a needed boost. But small delays became longer delays, resulting in issues being published out-of-order and causing much embarassment for DC editorial.

All-Star Batman & Robin - Hey, let's get Frank Miller and Jim Lee to do a Batman comic together! Of course, Frank is busy becoming the latest darling of Hollywood, and Jim is also a VP in the company. Sure they'll sell a lot of Batman comics, but what made the powers-that-be think that this would come out monthly? The result was a comic that shipped just one issue during all of 2006, and saw a sixteen-month gap between issues #4 & 5.

Civil War - The delays weren't super terrible during Marvel's Civil War; but with so many other spin-off books tieing in tightly to the plot, delays of a few weeks in the core title saw a ripple effect that devestated a large chunk of Marvel's line-up. Sure Civil War sold like gangbusters, but how much money was lost because issues of Amazing Spider-Man or Captain America didn't ship?

Spider-Man "One More Day" - Remember how the big ending to JMS's Spider-Man was to come out weekly? But rewrites and other delays meant that it came out less-than-monthly, and pushed back the debut of the thrice-monthly Amazing Spider-Man, leaving one of Marvel's best-selling books on the sidelines for several months.

The Ultimates - The first Ultimates series saw many long delays, but they were going to not have that problem with Ultimates 2, as artist Brian Hitch would work far enough ahead that it wouldn't be a problem. Right? But series 2 saw the same type of delays in the back half that plagued series 1. But all would be well with series 3, as the delays on series 2 meant that the new creative team would have plenty of lead time to get issues in the can. Oops...

Powers - It seems like not a week goes by when the Diamond Shipping Updates don't include a shift of one or two weeks on a Powers comic. And yet, they still pretend that this will be a monthly, and even recently decided to increase the page count! It's time for Marvel to get real and admit that Powers will always be a bi-monthly-at-best book.

Astonishing X-Men - Debuting in 2004, this seemed like a match in heaven, with Joss Whedon & John Cassady taking on everyone's favorite mutants. Sure, a decompressed story lasting 24-issues might seem to take a bit long, but that would also mean a new top-selling trade collection every six months for those who prefer to wait for the trade. Alas, Whedon has Hollywood fish to fry, and Cassady, while a superb artist, has never been known for his speed. As a result, this slow-moving story has dragged on and on, and any surprises from the final (double-sized--wait twice as long!) issue are pretty much moot as the rest of the X-Men line has decided to move along without it. Theoretically this means that the new creative team of Ellis & Bianchi have plenty of time to work ahead, but we saw how well that worked with Ultimates...

Planetary - A comic that gets written whenever Warren Ellis gets around to it, and then John Cassady tries to squeeze in drawing it if he's waiting for an X-Men script from Whedon. Fine, we know what we're getting into. But there's just one issue remaining in the series, which means that the final trade collection is being held up as well. One might think that the potential paycheck for finishing just one more issue would spur the creators to finish the darn thing.

American Flagg hardcover collections - Image announced these way back in 2004, but they still haven't seen the light of day. They promise a Summer 2008 release for the first volume at the San Diego Comic Con; Howard Chaykin has reportedly said that he won't believe it until someone actually hands him one to sign.

Those are my choices for the Late Shipping Hall of Shame. Agree? Disagree? What other comics would you add?

Four to Read for Wednesday, April 9

* Doodles & Dailies: From the Desk of Jim Ottaviani: How I Write Non-Fiction Comics (via Dirk)

* The Visual Linguist: New Essay: Navigating Comics

* Every Day Is Like Wednesday: The Other Secret Invasion: Millennium #1 (via Tom)

* Blog@Newsarama: Superman of Two Worlds

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

PHD #1000

Piled Higher & Deeper, Jorge Cham's fantastically fun Webcomic strip about life in grad school, has reached its milestone 1000th strip, featuring a milestone (of sorts) for long-running character Mike Slackenerny.

Congratulations to Jorge, and here's hoping for at least 1000 more!

Monday, April 07, 2008

New Library Comics: Week of March 31, 2008

Here's a list of the comics we added to our library collection last week:

Allison, John. Heavy metal hearts and flowers : a Scary go round story / Cresbard, SD : Keenspot, 2004.

"Antico-mix" : Antike in Comics : Skulpturhalle Basel, 31. März - 26. September 1999 / Basel : Skulpturhalle, 1999.

Avery, Fiona. Araña vol. 1 : the heart of the spider / New York : Marvel Comics, 2005-

Benjamin, Paul, 1970- Pantheon High vol. 1 : demigods & debutantes / Hamburg ; Los Angeles, CA : Tokyopop, c2006-

Fukui, Harutoshi, 1968- Samurai commando : mission 1549 vol. 1 / La Jolla, Calif. : CMX, 2007-

Hayashi, Fumino. Neon genesis evangelion : Angelic days vol. 5. / Houston, Tex. : ADV Manga, 2006-

Izumi, Kaneyoshi. Doubt!! vols. 1-6 / San Francisco, Calif. : Viz, LLC, 2005-

Kishi, Daimuro. Time Guardian vol. 1 / La Jolla, CA : WildStorm Productions, an imprint of DC Comics, c2007-

Mazzotta, Antony. Bombaby the screen goddess / San Jose, CA : SLG Pub., 2004.

Mikimoto, Haruhiko, 1952- Marionette generation vols. 1-2 / San Francisco, Calif. : Viz Communications, 2001-

Prime cuts no. 4. / Agoura, CA : Fantagraphics Books, 1987-

Shanower, Eric. Age of bronze vol. 3A : betrayal, part one / Orange, CA : Image, c2001-

Sorachi, Hideaki. Gin Tama vol. 1 / San Francisco : VIZ Media, [2007]-

Yoshiki, Hidaka. The first president of Japan = Nihonkoku shodai daitōryō, Sakuragi Ken'ichirō vols. 1-4 / Torrance, CA : Gutsoon! Entertainment, 2003-

This listing is available as an RSS Feed!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Borders Educators' Sale

Through April 8, your local Borders store is offering all educators—including librarians—25% off all books, CDs & DVDs. This of course includes graphic novels and manga, so if you're looking to pick something up and you're an educator, this would be a good weekend to do so!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen: Mr. Todd Snider

BTW, if you ever get a chance to see Todd Snider live, do so: he does a great show.

Light Children Preview

Kyle T. Webster, artist and co-creator of the upcoming self-published graphic novel Light Children, dropped me an email and asked me to stop by their Website to give a look at the sample chapters they've made available. I don't as a rule review incomplete samples, but I will say that the art is very attractive and the story looks interesting. I'll be keeping an eye out for it when it comes out.

Variant Covers

I don't normally mind the fact that there are variant covers on comics; as long as I get one issue to read, that's fine. I order most of my comics from DCBS, and sometimes they'll throw in a variant cover edition—which is usually good except when it's a photo cover; I'd rather have a nice piece of comic art than a re-used stock photograph.

Recently I loaned some of my Buffy season 8 & Angel season 6 comics to some friends who are only occasional comic readers but are fans of the shows. They had previously borrowed some of the Buffy comics from another friend. In looking through mine to see which issues they needed they got a bit confused due to the fact that some of mine had different covers from the ones they had seen. I explained about the multiple covers which they then grokked easily enough but thought was kind of strange.

I wonder what sort of general effect multiple covers have for those not used to the hobby aspect of comics? Do Buffy fans coming into comic stores looking for the latest issue try to buy a variant cover of a comic they already have?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Webcomic Product Placement

One of my favorite Webcomics, the library-themed Unshelved, is doing something that I don't particularly like. This week's entire run of strips is basically a running ad for a sponsor, with the characters extolling the virtues of the sponsor's service.

Unshelved has long had weekly sponsors, with ads running in the feed above the strips, but until now the editorial content of the strips has seemed to be independent.

I understand that it's a tough world out there, and that when creators are trying to make a living at producing a free Webcomic it must be tempting to grab at any source of revenue that comes along. Advertising, merchandise, and personal appearances are all accepted ways of keeping the cash-flow coming; but selling out the actual content of the strip seems like, well, selling out.

Worse, it calls into question the integrity of the rest of the strip. One of Unshelved's most popular features is the Sunday "Book Club" strips, wherein one of the characters of the strip will "book talk" a recommended book. How long until these "Book Club" strips become paid-for by publishers?

Hopefully the Unshelved creators will see that the long-term negatives for doing such a deal outweigh any short-term financial gain.