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Quick thoughts on some of the old comics I picked up at Wizard World Chicago:
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Apr. 21st, 2013 11:16 pm
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I don't think I've mentioned it here, but I'm signed up on Goodreads:


Feel free to add me or friend me or whatever they call it over there.
A couple of recent reviews: )
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Robert Sodaro over at Examiner.com gives a shout-out to Fantasy Theater in his comics column:

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Steven Myers (creator of the minicomic F.E.D.s) gave Lady Spectra a nice shout-out in his latest blog:


Thanks, Steven!
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I was at Mid-Ohio Con back in October, and ended up picking up a pile of early-70s comics for dirt cheap. Bronze Age DC comics are my "comfort food" -- even the ones that aren't so great fill me with a warm, nostalgic glow. A quick run-down of my purchases:
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Steve Keeter reviews the latest Fantasy Theater! (starts around the 3:40 mark)


Thanks, Steve!
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Jim Main's magazine COMIC FAN #6 is out. One of the features is a lengthy history of the Justice League, which I drew one of the illustrations for. Other articles include an appreciation of Mike Sekowsky's "radical" reinventions of Wonder Woman and Supergirl, a look at the short-lived '40s hero Wonderman, and a profile of pioneering collector, publisher and convention organizer Captain George Henderson. One of my favorite pieces is a reprint of a little-seen John Byrne interview from 1976...he was a curmudgeon even back then! It's a great-looking mag -- squarebound, color cover, slick paper, full of fan and pro art and lots of interesting reading. Check it out:

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Saw Watchmen yesterday afternoon. The short version: Recommended, with some reservations.
Spoilers below the cut )
I'll be seeing it again next weekend with another group of friends (hi, Karen!), so we'll see if my opinions change with a second viewing.
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Dramacon Vol.1
Svetlana Chmakova

High schooler and aspiring writer Christie attends her first anime convention, hoping to sell her new comic. But she's ill-equipped to handle the high-stress atmosphere, and it seems to exacerbate her troubles with her obnoxious boyfriend, Derek. And then she (literally) bumps into the handsome, mysterious Matt...

Ok, I can see you rolling your eyes already. And it's true, the story does hit a lot of the expected romance tropes, as Christie scrambles to get around the various roadblocks (both external and self-imposed) that are keeping her from her One True Love. It's practically "Jane Eyre: The Otaku Edition". But it's done with such charm, and frequently laugh-out-loud humor, that I couldn't help but get carried along. Perhaps my favorite aspect of the story is the keen observations on "convention culture"; if you've ever attended a con, on either side of the table, you will be nodding your head in recognition at the various personalities and neuroses on display.

The story does take a dark turn at one point, which kind of threw me for a loop (and I was put off by the relative lack of consequences for Derek; a punch in the snoot and a stern talking-to are in no way sufficient). But it is dramatically effective, and Christie comes out the other side stronger and on-course for her happy (or at least hopeful) ending. Add in the adorable cartoony artwork, and you've got an addictive, engaging read. Now I've got to track down the other volumes...


Paradigm Shift, Part One: Equilibrium
Dirk Tiede

There's a lot to like about this police drama: The art is slick and appealing, with lushly detailed backgrounds. The pages are densely packed with lots of dialogue and some dramatic, well-staged action. But ultimately, the story failed to hook me. The lead characters are pretty stereotypical "buddy cops": Michael is the cool & methodical one, Kathryn is the loose cannon, yadda yadda yadda. Tiede dangles a number of plot threads (including vague hints of something supernatural going on), but by the end of the volume none of them have been developed to any great extent. Rather than being intrigued, I just felt unsatisfied by what amounts to an extended prologue.

I will admit, straight-up crime drama is not my favorite genre, so cop fans may find something here that I'm missing. I recommend going to the website and sampling some pages for yourself to see if it's something you might be into.


Vogelein: Old Ghosts
Jane Irwin

I loved the first Vogelein story, and this sequel continues in the same vein, further developing the characters and themes. No longer dependent on a single caretaker, the titular clockwork faerie has grown bolder and is more keen to explore and experience the modern world. She also has more time for reflection, and the memory of an unfulfilled promise to an old friend gnaws at her conscience. Her struggle to reconcile the past with the future is echoed in the other characters as well; many of them have secrets or regrets they have to get past in order to move forward.

As a writer, Jane Irwin doesn't have a mean bone in her body -- the characters are almost painfully sincere and heartfelt in everything they do, and even the faerie-obsessed woman who "stalks" Vogelein is more pathetic than menacing. There are a couple of brief bits of conventional action, but for the most part the drama is internal, beautifully conveyed by Irwin's expressive artwork. There's an interesting contrast seeing a gritty, grubby modern city done up in her traditional painterly style -- a mix of old and new that's appropriate to the story of a living antique trying to find her way in the 21st century. Well worth seeking out (and be sure to get the first volume, too!).
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Joss Whedon & John Cassaday
Wow, what a great issue! Intense action, twisty plot, witty dialogue, and lots of "Hell Yeah!" moments -- pretty much everything I could want in a mainstream spandex book. We always hear about Cyclops being such a great leader, tactician, etc. but for once we really get to see it. "What other lies have you told?!!" followed by 4 pages of Optic Pwnage. Love it. Really going to miss this when it's over.

Grant Morrison & J.H. Williams III
Morrison and Williams on Batman sounds like a dream team, but this just didn't work for me at all. A feeble murder mystery, corny old superheroes gettting grimly 'n grittily "deconstructed", and Batman running around in circles for 3 issues. Williams usually does a good job balancing "arty" layouts with readability, but I was frequently lost here. Major disappointment.

Grant Morrison & Tony Daniel
Better, but still kind of underwhelming. Lots of fannish trivia gets referenced (I Ching! rofl!) -- Ra's wanting to use Deadman-style mind transfer in order to get a new body is actually pretty clever. Batman comes off as kind of a dope: "Gasp! The villain who's whole shtick is based on coming back from the dead can't possibly be back from the dead!" If the storyline were going to be confined to this one book, I'd probably keep up with it, but "To be continued in ROBIN #168"? Fuck that noise.

Evan Dorkin
Slave Labor Graphics
Dorkin lets his wacky, all-ages side out to play, and the results are a blast. Characters like One-Punch Goldberg, Nutsy Monkey, and Kid Blastoff are full of charm and the gags come fast and furious. Tremendously fun.

Brian Wood & Ryan Kelly
Oni Press
We get some insight into Megan's brother Matthew, which in a roundabout way sheds some light on why Megan is the way she is. Some pretty brutal stuff here, but compelling. Kelly's B&W work is really lush and beautiful. He does an interesting trick here: the "current day" scenes are inked with a lot of tone and texture, while the flashbacks are more clean and open. It's a subtle distinction, but very effective in setting them apart. Nice work all around.

Mike Allred
I tend to like "wacky fun Madman" more than "serious philosophical Madman" (admittedly, both have been a part of the character since day one). Here we basically have a whole issue of Frank scratching his head and going "Huh?" while various characters go around making vague prouncements about "something big" that's going to happen. It's not awful (and the surreal visuals are neat), but I do kind of wish he'd quit vamping and get on with it already.

Geoff Darrow
Burlyman Entertainment
What's going on here? Damned if I know, but it's sure weird and disturbing and drawn in obsessive detail. Works for me! Gotta love that John Severin cover -- dude hasn't lost a step since the glory days of EC.

Jaime McKelvie
Off to a nice start. Paints a vivid portrait of bored & frustrated teenagers, itching for their adult lives to begin, but not sure what they want to do with themselves. I knew it was coming, but I was actually a little put off by the inevitable supernatural element, just because I was enjoying the story as a straight-up slice of life thing. We'll see where it goes. The art's gorgeous, and I love the simple coloring and the bold, graphic cover design.

Jeff Parker, Roger Cruz, & Colleen Coover
Heroes fighting to a contrived stalemate is kind of a Marvel tradition, but this is a particularly creaky iteration. The fight itself just isn't very interesting -- The Hulk and the X-men toss each other around a lot, but never seem to have any strategy or goal in mind (well, you don't expect much strategy from the Hulk, but the X-Men are supposed to be all about teamwork, clever application of powers, etc.). Eventually they decide that Hulk is just a misunderstood misfit like them, and let him go. Pretty pointless overall. I did like the bit where Prof. X can't concentrate to use his uber mind power because Thunderbolt Ross won't shut the hell up. Cruz draws a great Hulk, but I don't really care for his rendition of the X-Men (Hank McCoy is a tall, skinny guy? WTF?). Colleen Coover's 2-pager is adorable and awesome. I know it would never fly with the fans, but I really wish she could just draw the whole book.
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THE AVENGERS Vol. 1, No. 14
March, 1965
"Even Avengers Can Die!"
Plot and Editing by Stan Lee
Script by Paul Laiken and Larry Lieber
Layouts by Jack Kirby
Pencils by Don Heck
Inking by Chic Stone
Lettering by S. Rosen
Read more... )
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Haven't done one of these in a while. I've been trying to cut back a bit on my comics purchases, and also trying to transition from singles to trades. But today I was in the mood for some funnybooks, so I indulged myself:
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Apr. 24th, 2007 05:55 pm
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A list of all the books I bought/got/traded for at the SPACE show, with relevant links. Reviews to come later.
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Posted a few comments on recent superhero books over at The Engine:

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Avengers Vol. 1 No. 13
February, 1965
"Trapped in... The Castle of Count Nefaria!"
Rather exceptional story by: Stan Lee
Somewhat distinctive art by: Don Heck
Fairly compelling inking by: Dick Ayers
Moderately clear lettering by: Artie Simek
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Warren Ellis has opened up a section of The Engine where anyone can post comics reviews, so I tossed in my thoughts on FIDGET #16, WALKING MAN COMICS #64 & 65, MUSICOMICS #23, and TALES OF FANTASY #36:

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At last! But then it ends on another agonizing cliffhanger! Argh!

The transition from the previous storyline is a bit awkward, but the sparkling dialogue carries it along.

Warm, fuzzy, and charming, with no apologies for being so.

Great interviews with two of my all-time favorites: Frank Thorne and Carla Speed McNeil.

Interesting take on the Ventriloquist, but I think I prefer the original.

I never read much Iron Fist, so I don't know if the characterization of Danny Rand as a sort of amiable dunce is something new, but I'm enjoying it.

I always enjoy seeing Mack's sketches and works-in-progress.

Generally I prefer Jaime's work to Gilbert's, but both brothers deliver outstanding strips this time out.

The much-talked-about cover image sets the tone for the entire issue -- it's bizarre and hilarious throughout.

Love the "side-scrolling videogame" layout in the back half of the book, with its succession of freaky monsters: Robot Stephen Hawking! Infant Terrible! Snake on a Plane!

The main story is fun, but the backup steals the show - brilliantly taking the piss out of the interminable CIVIL WAR.

Cooke is taking some (well thought-out) liberties here with the classic formula, developing a genuine relationship between the Spirit and Ellen, and adding some surprising depth to P'Gell.

Story's kind of slight, but great Chynna Clugston artwork.
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THE AVENGERS Vol. 1 No. 12
January 1965
"This Hostage Earth!"
Written in the Marvel manner by Smilin' Stan Lee
Illustrated in the Marvel tradition by Dazzlin' Don Heck
Delineated in the Marvel style by Darlin' Dick Ayers
Lettered in the nick of time by Swingin' Sam Rosen
Read more... )


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