Archive for January, 2012
Backwood Folk Volume 1: Greenville Is Forever
Written & Illustrated by Gustav Carlson
164 Pages, $24.99
When my friend Gustav Carlson and I were growing up on several different webcomic forums, he was the artsy type who would constantly be illustrating and posting his creations in his own art threads. Page after page of different drawings, sketches, and paintings could be viewed, and slowly over the years you would notice the change in his style and character designs. This guy lives to create, for you could definitely see his genius in its infant stages, slowly evolving over time.
Then comes along his baby, Backwood Folk, a new webcomic updating every Tuesday and Thursday, providing a plethora of new material for the internets to enjoy. The man had a plan, and was slowly building an audience who would appreciate his many talents. Things obviously have been working out well for Gus, for last December came the release of Backwood Folk Volume 1: Greenville Is Forever, a nifty little trade paperback collecting 164 pages of material, all colored, and HTML-free.
While the main character, Benedict Carpenter, may somewhat slightly resemble Gustav when it comes to appearance, he assures you it isn’t the case, but a mere fluke. That may be enough for the rest of the audience to brush-off and move along, but not this reviewer. I propose it was all planned from the very start, that Gustav Carlson is the type of mad genius with an ego bigger than Kanye West’s to allow this sort of thing to happen by mere coincidence. It wasn’t enough for him to create this whimsical watercolored wonderland, but he had to star in it as well! The nerve of this rapscallion.
Moving on, the story follows Benedict as he escapes life in the big city to take care of some land that was left to him in his hometown of Po’Dunk, Arkansas. Upon arriving in his Prius, he’s reunited with childhood friends, and feels somewhat out of place in his once familiar surroundings. Things change, people change, but Greenville is forever. Some beings, once thought of as mere myths, slowly creep their way into Ben’s reality, making him realize that perhaps he has been away for too long. Impromptu concerts being erected on his property, offers for the purchase of his land, and near-death experiences start to become apart of his new life in the Ozarks, and the first volume leaves us questioning what will Ben decide to do in regards to these new challenges.
I’ve obviously conveyed my appreciation of Gustav’s art in the first paragraph, but I almost feel that words cannot do this first collection justice. His style is very reminiscent of Jeff Lemire, and the beautiful watercolors just explode off the pages and bathe the readers eyes in a concoction of liquid happiness and pure joy. The characters are spectacularly brought to life, and the Pink Eye monsters will make you want to keep a light on at night (just in case). The panel layouts also impressed me immensely, for Gus isn’t going with the traditional format throughout, but rather having fun creating his own borders when deemed appropriate. One of my favorite parts in the book is when a character is subjected to toxic chemicals, which causes his experience to transform into a psychedelic one, completely blowing your mind with the color schemes.
So if you’re looking for something new to enjoy (and support with your monies), I highly recommend you give Backwood Folk Volume 1: Greenville Is Forever a try. You’ll become captivated by the art and story, and who knows; maybe it’ll convince you to move to Arkansas and herd goats for the rest of your life. Or just follow the webcomic every Tuesday and Thursday. Or perhaps both!
In this intoxicating episode we have no Pick Of The Week, however we do have a Fast Five selection. Picks include All-Star Western #5 (DC), B.P.R.D.: Hell On Earth – Russia #5 (Dark Horse), American Vampire #23 (Vertigo), Fantastic Four #602 (Marvel), and The Walking Dead #93 (Image). Spoilers!
The Unwritten #33.5 by Yuko Shimizu
Quick, someone call Spider-Man! I hear this happens to him all the time! Once again we have another beautifully illustrated cover from Shimizu, in her unique and elegantly detailed style. I just love following the tangled strings as they seem to gently entangle the poor girl. The ruffles in her dress and hat are a great final touch, and the pink and white decor give it a wonderful old-timey feel.
King Conan: The Phoenix On The Sword #1 by Andrew Robinson
It has a very classic Frazetta look and feel to it, and really that’s what every Conan cover should strive to be. The splatter of blood on weaponry, the torn and tattered cape, the dark and brooding features; all reeks of a barbarian king to me! A really superb cover, and I can tell that Robinson put a lot of time and heart into making this image iconic.
Incorruptible #26 by Garry Brown
The colors reign supreme in this cover, with the jagged highlighting for each character. The primary colors always work well together when arranged accordingly, and the halo effect beaming from the Plutonian is a nice touch. Great job as usual by Brown, and I can definitely see this cover in particular as the cover for the eventual collection.
Creepy #7 by Sanjulian
“Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y’awl’s neighborhood
And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpse’s shell
The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom
And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller!“
-Vincent Price, Thriller
The Walking Dead #93 by Charlie Adlard
I don’t know about the rest of you, but this cover is completely mind-blowing to me. I won’t spoil anything about what the reveal was last issue, but if you’ve been reading the series monthly like I have, you know how exciting (and beautiful) this cover really is.
In this special episode I interview webcomic superstar Gustav Carlson (Backwood Folk). Join us as we fondly discuss growing up on internet message boards, raising goats in Arkansas, and the release of his first volume of Backwood Folk.
Interested in bidding on either audio show for the entire month of February? The month of February will include FIVE shows (one every Wednesday) for Geeky Talky, and FOUR shows for the Weekly Audio Show (one every Sunday).
For the winner, your business / product / comic book / company will be highlighted at the beginning of the episode, and at the end of the episode. You would submit a script for me to read from as I talk about your business / product / comic book / company. Please have script ready to send me after the auction is over.
Also, on the Cammy’s Comic Corner website, a 160×600 banner will be displayed for the entire month of February 2012. Please have banner image ready to send me after auction is over.
About the audio episodes; the audio podcasts are available on iTunes, Stitcher, and is embedded on several different websites including Twitter (@CamComicCorner).
So if you win the auction, know that there will be an audience learning about your business / product / comic book / company.
Feel free to email me at CammysComicCorner@gmail.com if you have any questions!
How much do I love thee, comics? Allow me to count the ways…Pick Of The Week goes to John Layman and Rob Guillory for CHEW #23 (Image). Fast Five picks include Batman #5 (DC), Daredevil #8 (Marvel), Wonder Woman #5 (DC), Moon Knight #9 (Marvel) and Catwoman #5 (DC). Spoilers!
Wonder Woman #5 by Cliff Chiang
Don’t kill it! It’s just a misunderstood freak of nature! The thing I enjoy the most about this cover is the creature itself; it’s such a beautiful amalgamation of walrus, octopus, whale and what appears to be a rooster with a crown. However, with the tentacles wrapped around the leg, images of hentai-tentacle-rape do come to mind, but not in any major way. The colors work well together, the outlines are soft on the eye, it’s a great cover!
Ghostbusters #5 by Jose Holder
This looks like one New Year’s Eve party I’d love attend! Having seen the ball drop in Times Square a few times (on television, mind you), it always looks chaotic and quite messy. To pretend for a second that all the people there suddenly became the walking dead would certainly make the call to the Ghostbusters ASAP! I love the frantic, colorful style by Holder with this cover. It portrays the typical dynamic; everyone but Venkman taking the mission at hand seriously. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for Holder in the future, because his is a style I enjoy.
Avengers #21 by Daniel Acuña
Storm is one of those characters who doesn’t get the spotlight very so often. But when she does, especially with a great artist like Acuña, I feel like it’s my birthday. The soft light on her sexy figure, with blue lightning shooting from her hands; it’s enough to get any heterosexual male aroused. That outfit of hers should be the swimwear of this summer, and I could totally pull it off. One might even go so far as to claim that this cover is really shocking. Add the rest of the Avengers in the background, and it’s a very tasteful cover overall.
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents Vol. 2 #3 by Dustin Nguyen
One of the things I enjoy about highlighting a cover from a series I know nothing about, is I have no references to base my criticisms on! Therefore, I look at a striking cover such as this one, and just take it all in without having to worry about if the Cloak/Spectre character would actually scream in such a fashion. I love the floating coding zooming by, the holographic faces, and the serpent-like cables. Dustin Nguyen is always a favorite of mine, so it’s great to see him continuing strong with the covers in this new year.
In this episode, I discuss the controversial graphic novel Holy Terror (Legendary Comics) by Frank Miller. It’s sad to see Frank Miller lose his sanity. Spoilers!
Huzzah, I say! Huzzah! Pick Of The Week goes to Jason Aaron & Steve Dillon for PunisherMAX #21 (Marvel). Fast Five picks include Heart #3 (Image), Orchid #4 (Dark Horse), Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE #5 (DC), Amazing Spider-Man #677 (Marvel), and Scalped #55 (Vertigo). Spoilers!
My nose is stuffy. Send me citrus?
Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season 9 #5 by Steve Morris
Coming soon to Broadway, the Dark Horse Players present; Buffy The Vampire Slayer & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat! All kidding aside, I would totally wear that outfit. Not only am I easily entranced by the bright happy colors, but I love the images and faces melting in and out of it. My eyes are having fun darting all around the cover, but then grow a little sad when Buffy looking worry comes into focus. She’s a tough gal though, so I’m not going to worry too much about her. So back to the pretty colors!
Batwoman #5 by J.H. Williams III
Hey look, it’s the movie poster for the sequel The Ladies In The Water (only, you know; better than the original). That’s the thing about vengeful spirits; they come in several different forms, and sometimes all at once. I enjoyed observing each different face, trying to make sense of it all. The way the four faces slowly converge into one is chilling and suspenseful, and the inclusion of Alice is a nice eerie cherry on top. There are seven different faces in total on this cover; can you spot them all?
Doctor Who #13 by Mark Buckingham
“Of all the TARDISes, in all the worlds, in all the galaxies, they walk into mine.” –The Doctor
Dark Matter #1 by Garry Brown
I enjoy the sense of unity in this cover, with everyone holding hands. I think hand-holding is a slowly dying act of chivalry, and I’m glad to see it alive and-What’s that? They’re just posing? Oh. Well of course I knew that! Can’t a guy just rant about the good old days when people could hold hands without being whispered about behind their backs?! Moving on, I love the sense of sci-fi action you get at first glance of this cover. Garry Brown does a superb job with the background colors and textures, and the ship blasting-off and through the shards of the universe. I also enjoy the sketchy look of yellow lines around the figures, giving them a movement of sorts. Very visually stimulating, but then again, Garry Brown is synonymous with that.
The Shade #4 Variant by Darwyn Cooke
Darwyn Cooke continues to captivate me with the simple-yet-stylized covers. Immediately I can make out Vigilante, but the rest of it is like a fine painting that you can’t simply take-in all at once. You need to swish the image around in your brain for a few minutes, slowly deciphering its secrets and the underlying themes. Cities, people, tobacco, it all becomes abundantly clear what’s going on in the cover, and makes you feel more appreciative to Darwyn for not spoon-feeding you the overall image. ‘Times Past’ indeed, and Cooke’s notorious old-timey feel is just what the doctor ordered.
PunisherMAX #21 by Dave Johnson
Dave Johnson knows how to tell a story with only a few objects on the cover. Blood splatter, emptied gun, picture of family. A + B + C = I dunno, I failed at algebra in high school. What I do know is this; this is my favorite cover of the week. It’s intense, eye-opening, and makes you utter to yourself “Holy shit!” just looking at it. This wasn’t a game of Russian Roulette gone awry; this was intentional, and a last ditch effort. To assume from the picture and glove that it’s Frank Castle who just offed himself, that makes it even more shocking. Yes, both Hemingway and Thompson went out by their own accord, but they were accomplished authors! Why go the pussy route like Kurt Cobain?! No clue what the motivation is, but this cover has me freaked out about what I might read inside. Well played, Johnson, I now have to read this comic first just so I can move on with a clear head.
Book Of The Month – January 2012
Infinite Kung Fu
Created by Kagan McLeod
Although you may have never heard the name Kagan McLeod before, no doubt that you’ve seen his art somewhere. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was in love with his style before I ever discovered who he truly was, or the things he was capable of illustrating. If you read magazines such as Entertainment Weekly or the Hollywood Reporter, chances are you’ve stumbled across his work without even realizing it, for he’s frequently found in several different periodicals of that sort. What if you were to allow him to illustrate a story of his own? Well, then you would get the astounding story of Infinite Kung Fu from the fine people at Top Shelf.
Me personally, I’ve only seen a few of the classic martial arts movies (Enter The Dragon, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) compared to my friends, who are ga-ga for the genre. I know enough to get by, and recognize some of the standard archetypes and familiar storytelling that have been around for generations. Infinite Kung Fu on the other hand, hooked me from page one and kept me entranced all the way to page four hundred and sixty-four. Immediately afterward I wanted more; movies, books, comics, anything that would quench my thirst for martial arts and flying fists of fury. That’s the testament of a great graphic novel in my opinion; when I want to know more about the genre / universe / creator as soon as I’m done basking in all its glory. Thankfully, after the story is told, McLeod has a very handy illustrated history of kung fu in the final pages, and it helps the average schmuck like me figure out what movies or actors to check out. Because of this back-matter, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to watch more kung fu movies with friends, the more ridiculous they are the better! Do yourself a favor and checkout Jackie Chan in The Drunken Master if you haven’t already; it will be your new favorite movie.
Taking almost a decade to produce, you can instantly tell that McLeod loves all things martial arts and kung fu (as if the title alone didn’t tip you off). The entire collection is in black and white with beautiful greytone washes throughout, and for those who know me well, I’m an absolute sucker of washes done right. However it’s not all washes, for McLeod has two styles he plays with; washes, and then a kind of loose-yet-intense sketching of sorts. They mix together beautifully, and it reminds me a little of a similar style that J.H. Williams III plays with on Batwoman. I frantically looked for pieces of original art from the series after I had finished reading it, but alas, I was way too late to the party.
Every fighting style imaginable is thrown into this graphic novel, with a large helping of zombies, blacksploitation, and the supernatural thrown in for that hearty taste. McLeod was obviously that kid in high school who would rather stay at home on a Friday night watching old Hong Kong action flicks, than throwing-up cheap beer at the house party down the block with all the jocks and popular kids. He studied every pose, every killing strike, and even memorized the taste of kung fu (little-known fact; kung fu does have a flavor (the flavor is PAIN!)). Working feverishly on this graphic novel, he captured the pure essence of the genre, and made it an instant classic that people will be talking about for many a millennia. It would make for a fantastically whimsical Hollywood blockbuster, but I don’t think they would ever be able to transfer that same style and flavor that you get when reading this collection. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
If you were looking for me to spoil the story (as usual in these reviews) or tell you about the characters, I do apologize but I’m going to let you discover its beauty on your own accord. I was in a state of ecstasy after reading it, and it’s one of those feelings you don’t even want to attempt to try and describe in fear of tarnishing the memory. Reading Infinite Kung Fu is certainly an experience, and one you won’t soon forget. There’s a reason this was my Best / Favorite Graphic Novel of 2011, and it’s because of this; it’s an epic and beautifully crafted story that does great justice to both comic books and kung fu, while remaining completely accessible to every demographic of readers. Simple as that. I don’t know what masterpiece Kagan McLeod has lined-up for us comic fans next, but I’m perfectly willing to wait another decade for him to complete it.
Still not convinced? Go read the first 15 pages online for free, you cheap bastard.
In this episode I’m joined by Haley Manbat as we discuss Hunter S. Thompson in cinema. We cover Where The Buffalo Roam, Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, and The Rum Diary. Spoilers!
I’m baaack! With 2012 here, I return with the audio format until something I deem worthy of a video episode comes along. Pick Of The Week goes to Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips for Fatale #1 (Image). Fast Five picks include Animal Man #5 (DC), Swamp Thing #5 (DC), Sweet Tooth #29 (Vertigo), O.M.A.C. #5 (DC), and Justice League International #5 (DC). Spoilers!
Can I just say how great it feels to be back?
iZombie #21 by Michael Allred
Why communist ghouls want our purple-skinned protagonist to drink-up the brain coffee, I haven’t a clue. What I do know is that this unique cover intrigues me enough to keep on reading, and question if Starbucks has such a flavor of coffee. Would brain coffee be a bold, or a medium blend? Would you get smarter after consuming a pot, or would you gag after the first sip because you aren’t undead? Now I’m thinking of what you would name the brand; Exotic Einstein? Abby Normal Noche? Quick, someone get me Mr. Starbucks on the phone! Oh, and the cover looks great.
FATALE #1 by Sean Phillips
The latest pulp noir series from Brubaker and Phillips, and OH MY RAPTOR JESUS WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?! Did Al Capone have his way with a Beholder one night, skip town, and not pay child support? I’ve seen nudibrachs that were cuter than that…thing. Back to the cover, Phillips does an extraordinary job with this variant, really giving the viewer a better idea of what to expect inside. You thought you saw the crazier side of Brubaker and Phillips with Incognito, but this cover alone ensures you that you’re sailing into uncharted (yet exciting) waters. If the bullets in that gun don’t kill you, that face certainly will!
Penguin: Pain and Prejudice #4 by Szymon Kudranski
“He’s more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil.” – Ben ‘Obi-Wan’ Kenobi
Graveyard of Empires #3 by Paul Azaceta
Why anyone would want to try and grow human skulls as a viable crop is beyond me, but crops are crops, and you must constantly spray them with pesticides to keep the locusts away. What I really like about this cover is the striking use of white on the black and red background. The nice little touch is the glowing red eyes of the skulls, which seem to follow me no matter where I walk around the room. As soon as I heard issue three was coming out this week, I instantly knew I’d be in store for treat; a Paul Azaceta cover (plus interior art!).
Rachel Rising #4 by Terry Moore
It’s the simplicity of this cover that really makes me smile; red background, and charcoal pencils (I’m assuming). While red eyes usually symbolize evil, green eyes can have the same effect…if you’re a GINGER! If those jade eyes aren’t selling you on the whole ‘sinister’ vibe, then perhaps the cattle skull mask she’s wearing will seal the deal. Comic book cover, or metal album cover; this image can work both ways.
The First Annual Prestigious Cammy Awards! I present you with the winners in the following categories: Best Writer, Best Artist, Best Cover Artist, Best Series, Best Miniseries, Best Single Issue, and Best Graphic Novel.
Congratulations to all the winners!
Best Writer – Scott Snyder: 2011 was the rise of (much needed) new talent in comics, and Scott Snyder definitely led the way. Writing multiple series ranging from Detective Comics to American Vampire, he not only kept every title he was working on consistently good, but he also managed to find some time to help make the 52 Reboot a raging success with titles such as Batman and Swamp Thing. Did I mention he also had his own book Severed debut over at Image while all this was going on? I cannot wait to see what extraordinary things this man has planned for us in 2012.
Best Artist – Francesco Francavilla: It truly was love at first sight when I was first exposed to Francesco Francavilla’s art in the pages of Black Panther: The Man Without Fear. I recall my initial thoughts comparing his style as a looser, pulpier Jack Kirby. It was a style that I definitely was not used to, and yet it entranced me enough to seek out other titles he was illustrating at the time. I became the biggest Francavilla fanboy this year, that it was a dream come true meeting the man at Comic-Con this past summer, and thanking him for giving me multiple eyegasms. Francavilla isn’t going anywhere but up in 2012, and I plan on being right at his side and supporting him any way I can.
Best Cover Artist – Francesco Francavilla: Hey, I warned you that I fell in love with his art this year! The dynamic covers he produced week after week was just the cherry on top. Francavilla’s covers are constantly highlighted in my Cammy’s Favorite Covers segment every week because each one is a work of art, and he’s bringing back the notion that the cover should get you excited for the comic book itself. Every week when I go through my stack, I get so tired of the bland covers with the heroes in the same old action poses, bringing nothing new to the table. Then comes along Francesco Francavilla to restore my faith in humanity (well, comics anyway).
Best Series – Sweet Tooth (Vertigo): This category was a tough one; originally I had twelve titles selected, and I couldn’t even whittle it down to five, I just had to do six without feeling guilty. Alas though, Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth stole my heart month after month with its fantastic ongoing adventure. We’re still not 100% positive of Gus’ origins, but we have a much better understanding of this post-apocalyptic world that it’s set in. Lemire’s story and art are the perfect combination, being the reason Sweet Tooth is the series I recommend the most to friends who ask me what’s good to read. It feels like it could go up to sixty issues, and I’ll be there every step of the way.
Best Miniseries – American Vampire: Survival Of The Fittest (Vertigo): As if the ongoing American Vampire series wasn’t entertaining enough, here comes Snyder bumping it up a notch to ‘epic’ with this miniseries. Set during World War II with a pair of familiar faces, this miniseries was created to show a much more in-depth look at the vampires of this world that Snyder has created. Ranging from ancient vampires to Nazi vampires, artist Sean Murphy does such a spectacular job illustrating every action-packed issue, that my mouth was watering month after month upon waiting for the stunning conclusion. With another American Vampire miniseries debuting this year by the same creative team, it’ll be very interesting to see if they can out-do themselves (which I have no doubts that they can).
Best Single Issue – Detective Comics #881 (DC): I believe that there are only a handful of good Batman stories that have come out in the past decade, the majority being written by Grant Morrison. Then comes along Snyder from out of the blue to tell an ongoing story throughout the pages of Detective Comics, then suddenly wrapping every loose-end up in a pretty little bow in issue #881. Add artists Jock and Francesco Francavilla into the mix, and their dueling styles dance and blend beautifully together in this series finale of sorts. It was such a suspenseful and majestic read from start to finish, that at the time I immediately went back to re-read it all over again. This issue proves that good storytelling isn’t dead in this industry that heavily relies on comic book events nowadays.
Best Graphic Novel – Infinite Kung Fu (Top Shelf): When I first heard about Infinite Kung Fu earlier this year, the description was short and sweet; “It’s long, but totally mind-blowing!” Consider me sold. The graphic novel itself took creator Kagan McLeod almost a decade to complete, and the love he puts into it can be seen throughout every page in this martial arts masterpiece. It’s the perfect blend of those old kung fu action flicks, blacksploitation and horror for the craziest comic book concoction you could ever dream of. I’ll go into more detail in my written review later this month, when I crown it my Book Of The Month selection for January.