Archive for February, 2012
In this special episode I interview writer Thomas Hall of Blacklist Studios. We discuss the current Kickstarter campaign for Robot 13, the international success of the comic, and our love of Greek mythology.
Written & Illustrated by Gerry Alanguilan
144 Pages, $12.95
When I was a young lad, my family used to take trips up the California coast to visit my cousins in Petaluma. At one point the city of Petaluma was known as the Chicken Capital of the World, and sure enough my aunt & uncle owned a few chickens for producing unfertilized eggs. Different species produced different eggs, and every morning someone had to go out to their coop and fetch them. My cousins were excited at first for owning such an unusual ‘pet’, that the awe quickly dissipated when collecting eggs became a daily burden. The smells, the conditions of the coop, and the sometimes confrontational behavior of the chickens made this experience an unwanted chore. Except when I was visiting for the week, I was the official egg collector.
I loved getting up early every morning to go fraternize with the chickens. Each bird was different, and along with appearance came different personalities as well. The majority of the birds were very timid, so they would let you remove the roof of the coop and go about your day picking eggs from their nests. One or two of them would give you the stink-eye, and their motherly instincts would kick-in as they tried to protect their unborn young. The point I’m trying to make is while chickens, as animals, are quite dim in their corner of the bird family, they can be rather entertaining to watch and try to imagine what might be going through their tiny birdbrains.
When I first was contacted by Gerry Alanguilan to review ELMER for Indie Comics Episode Vol. 2 back in 2009, only the first issue was out at that point. I reviewed it, loved what I saw, and anxiously awaited the next few issues. Such as things go in the world of comics, projects get delayed, new series come out, and slowly but surely you eventually lose track of titles you thoroughly once enjoyed, wondering what might have happened to them. That’s what happened to me with ELMER. It was the girlfriend from high school I lost touch with, only to look-up at a billboard one day to see her posing in an action movie that’s due out this summer. When I saw posters of ELMER at the SLG booth during Comic-Con a few years ago, my first thought was “Good for Gerry! He’s earned it!”, followed by “Oh. I don’t have any more space in my bag, or money, to buy it. Awkward”.
Alas, this podcasting gig has finally started paying for itself, and I have the luxury of purchasing any graphic novel whenever I want, wherever I want. All kidding aside, I finally picked-up the graphic novel and fell in love with it all over again.
ELMER tells the story of a chicken by the name of Jake Gallo as he’s called back home to say his last good-byes to his dying father, Elmer. Nothing weird or strange about that, I’m sure we’ve all experienced something similar regarding a loved one. The twist with this graphic novel is that chickens are classified as people, for they have acquired intelligence after years of evolution. So chickens, or the species Gallus Gallus are considered the newest members of the Human Race, and are integrated into society after The Great Awakening. Jake used to write all the time, but for some reason lost the passion for it. After inheriting his father’s personal diary, the flames of creativity are reignited and Jake feels it’s necessary to share his father’s harrowing tale of survival while living a strange new world.
In some ways, I find myself comparing Alanguilan’s ELMER to Spiegelman’s MAUS, only for chickens. Alanguilan brings up some wonderful and thought-provoking concepts of what the world would be like if chickens had gained intelligence and the means to speak. First of all, it would be illegal to eat chicken. Duck on the other hand, is still fair game. Secondly, what was once considered beastiality is now perfectly fine in the eyes of the law, and state troopers can carry-on with the derogatory insults. Finally, there will always be tension between the species, despite what happened in the past. While Jake doesn’t come around to the idea until later, he cannot believe that his sister is marrying a human; the same species that enslaved, murdered, and devoured millions of their kind for centuries.
This graphic novel is a fine example that artists are much more than just pretty faces. Most of you may know Alanguilan for his beautiful inks on Lenil Francis Yu’s work, plus several other Marvel projects. This graphic novel was a personal project for him, taking several years to put together. Throughout the story he’s able to hook you with a wonderful tale of life through the eyes of one chicken, struggling to adapt to his place in the world. There’s humor, grand ideas, and of course beautiful artwork from the Philippines best known comics superstar. If you’re looking for a good read that’s truly thought-provoking, I cannot recommend highly enough that you check-out ELMER. If you don’t, things just might get fowl.
Episode 200! Damn it feels good to be a gangsta! The Pick Of The Week for this momentous episode goes to John Layman & Rob Guillory for CHEW #24 (Image)! Fast Five picks include American Vampire #24 (Vertigo), Wolverine & The X-Men #6 (Marvel), Prophet #22 (Image), All-Star Western #6 (DC), and Fantastic Four #603 (Marvel). Spoilers!
Big thanks to all the fans and creators for 200 amazing episodes! I feel like the prettiest belle at the ball!
All Star Western #6 by Ladrönn
Rarely do we see any expression of shock or fright from Jonah Hex, but if you were to put yourself in his current situation, chances are you would crap yourself. Multiple times. I’ve fallen in love with the details Ladrönn puts into the giant bat, right down to every strand of hair. That bat face is just pure terrifying, for if the fright from the size alone didn’t kill you, those sharp teeth certainly would. Next thing you know, you’re a human Capri-Sun. Absolutely stunning cover by Ladrönn, and it’s definitely my favorite cover of the week.
Dark Horse Presents #9 by Mike Mignola
Want to easily have your way with me and my money? Simply have Lobster Johnson on the cover. Doesn’t need to be action-packed or anything like that, just the simple menacing pose will suffice. It works so well to have anything but black as the background, because then you can really hone-in and appreciate the beauty of both characters. This cover once again proves that Mignola remains one of the best cover artists in the business.
Incorruptible #27 by Garry Brown
The colors and loud images just screams “PUNK ROCK!” to me, and here I am moshing away to another Garry Brown cover. It almost feels like I dropped some acid, stared at this cover for a few minutes, and suddenly the dose hit me I could hear what the soundtrack was to this cover. I was transported back to the CBGB in the mid-70’s, and the Sex Pistols and the Ramones formed a Punk Rock Super Group, and the New York Dolls provided the colors. In my opinion, jagged lightning bolts make everything better. Oi! This cover is wicked! Oi Oi Oi!
Jennifer Blood #9 by Tim Bradstreet
“Shot through the heart, and you’re too blame, darling you give love, a bad name…” – Bon Jovi
Prophet #22 by Simon Roy
At first glace I feel much like the main character; I was just dropped into this cover, and have no idea what’s going on. I find myself drawn to the beautiful muted coloring of this illustration, and the intense action between the two foes. Plus it’s a well-known fact that automatically any cover is improved by 46% when you include prehistoric flying reptiles. The gripping of the slimy tongue, the dagger sticking out of it’s neck, and the human ready to swing again with his machete; all beautiful details, which make this cover so damn awesome.
Secret Avengers #23 by Arthur Adams
Finally we get a sneak-peek of that Kevlar outfit that was sewn together with threads from goat’s milk. You know the goat I’m talking about; the one that was spliced with arachnid DNA. It makes perfect sense for Venom to receive the first prototype.
In this episode I compare, contrast, and review two original graphic novels from the DC & Marvel. First, Superman: Earth One (DC), followed by Fantastic Four: Season One (Marvel), then suggestions for better origin stories. Spoilers!
No Pick Of The Week, but we do have a very strong female filled Fast Five. Picks include Wonder Woman #6 (DC), Glory #23 (Image), Batman #6 (DC), Daredevil #9 (Marvel), and Catwoman #6 (DC). Spoilers!
Episode 200 is next week! That’s like AroundComics-type numbers!
Book Of The Month – February 2012
Baltimore: The Plague Ships
Art by Ben Stenbeck
When the name Mike Mignola comes to mind, one automatically associates him with the Hellboy / B.P.R.D. universe that he brought to life over at Dark Horse. Just upon reading a Mignola-penned comic, you’re transported to a gloomier cesspit of a world where monstrous machinations roam wild and free, and Armageddon is constantly creeping up around every corner. Mignola sets a certain tone with his stories, that even if two different works of his aren’t connected in the same universe, somehow in the back of your mind you know they are. It doesn’t hurt that Mignola has access to the best artists in the business, with each of them bringing their own style paired with that natural Mignola-feel to the characters. Throw in colorist Dave Stewart on every project, and it’s a comic book hit waiting to happen.
When I first heard of the character Lord Henry Baltimore, it was at Comic-Con International a few years ago. There was a poster of the first issue at the Dark Horse booth, and I instantly recognized Mignola as the artist. While everyone would love to see more Mignola art on his own stories, the man is obviously extremely busy building universes that he simply wouldn’t be able to keep to a schedule if he were illustrating as well. So the next best thing for us comic fans is to have him at least produce the covers of the comics he’s writing, and that’s the natural conclusion I came to when looking at the cover to Baltimore: The Plague Ships. Sure enough, he and Christopher Golden were the authors, and this guy I wasn’t that familiar with, Ben Stenbeck, was on art. It’s Mignola, it looks creepy, what have I got to lose?
Upon further research of this series, I discovered that Mignola and Golden originally wrote an illustrated novel about Lord Baltimore a few years earlier called Baltimore, or The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire. While I still have not read it to this day, it’s not considered required reading if you were to dive-in to Baltimore: The Plague Ships, for the authors give his entire history within the miniseries. Lobster Johnson has a similar type of novel (The Satan Factory), so perhaps it’s just a thing for some comic writers to explore and experiment with their characters in different mediums.
In a nutshell, Lord Henry Baltimore is a veteran of World War I and was gravely wounded in battle. His entire company was slaughtered on the field, and when he awakes he discovers monstrous bat creatures feeding on his fallen brothers. Lashing out with a bayonet, he strikes and wounds one of the bats in the right eye, blinding him for the rest of its days. For that, the bat infects Baltimore’s wounded leg with gangrene and releases a plague onto all of Europe. Turns out these bats are actually ancient vampires, and the one that Baltimore wounded was an older and more powerful one named Haigus. Haigus has his revenge as he destroys everything Baltimore has ever loved, and after having his fun continues to plunder and kill across Europe. Losing the leg and replacing it with a wooden peg leg, Baltimore’s only mission in life is to get even with Haigus, and only then will he be able to rest.
Already finishing a second miniseries (The Curse Bells), this first volume really examines the effects of the plague across Europe, and shows Baltimore going to the extremes to hunt down and kill his winged foe. He gets sidetracked onto an island in this volume, filled with sunken plague ships and German submarines. The plague and vampires are connected, and whatever dead beings the plague touches can be brought back to life. This hardcover has page after page of action sequences, weapons galore (Baltimore is a one-man armory), and gruesome creatures aplenty. Even if not directly connected to the Mignolaverse, it certainly is a nice pairing for any horror comic fan.
Before Baltimore, I recognized the art team of Ben Stenbeck and Dave Stewart from another Mignola miniseries Sir Edward Grey: Witchfinder. Instantly I was hooked by Stenbeck’s smooth finishes, and uniquely dark and gloomy style. Stewart’s coloring choices were superb as well; setting the tone with dated, muted colors to fit the feel of that period. I was so happy to see both gentlemen back for the second volume The Curse Bells, for I cannot imagine a different art team for Baltimore now.
So if you like Hellboy and want something in that same vein from Mignola, I highly recommend checking out Baltimore: The Plague Ships. You’ll worship the art, fall head-over-heels in love with the story, and quickly choose Lord Henry Baltimore as the subject of your next commission at a convention.
Batman #6 by Greg Capullo
“I’m a monster!” -Buster Bluth, Arrested Development
The New Avengers #21 by Mike Deodato & Rain Beredo
While Mike Deodato isn’t one of those old school, legendary comic book artists, he can sure make a cover look like it stepped out from an era gone-by. To me, the coloring really gives it that dated look and feel, but the shading keeps it current. The style reminds me slightly of of Walt Simonson, Barry Windsor-Smith, and even a little Gene Colon thrown in there. Very beautiful stuff.
Star Trek / Legion Of Super-Heroes #5 by Mike Allred
Look how dreamy Kirk looks right there; worth the price of admission alone! Allred definitely delivers the goods with this cover, adding a groovy ingredient to this sci-fi stew. Everyone’s uniform looks superb, and the layering of the characters fills out the cover quite nicely. Makes me want to go back and re-watch some Star Trek: The Original Series ASAP!
Wonder Woman #6 by Cliff Chiang
Myself being a big fan of Greek mythology growing up, I always loved the beasts of legend the most. Cerberus was always a favorite of mine, and I was slightly disappointed with the interpretation of him in the first Harry Potter film (to be honest, the CGI wasn’t the best at the time). This cover however, does my dawg justice; vicious pointy teeth, evil red eyes, and such a lovely gray coat. Doesn’t look like he’s in complete control though, seeing how Wonder Woman’s lasso is dancing around the cover. Great illustration by Chiang, and I’d love to eventually own a poster or print of it.
X-Factor #232 by David Yardin
“…And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you’re going to fall
Tell ’em a hookah smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call
To call Alice, when she was just small…“
–White Rabbit, Jefferson Airplane
In this episode I’m joined once again by Nic Fury to watch and discuss more bad movies. In this episode we talk about Tremors, Tremors 2: Aftershocks, Tremors 3: Back To Perfection, and Tremors 4: The Legend Begins. So sit back, grab a beer or five, and get ready to laugh at some Graboid goodness! Spoilers!
And IIIIIIII-EEE-IIIIIIIII-EEEE-IIIIIIIII, will always love COMICS! Pick Of The Week goes to Jason Aaron & Steve Dillon for PunisherMAX #22 (Marvel). Fast Five picks include Batwoman #6 (DC), Conan The Barbarian #1 (Dark Horse), Severed #7 (Image), Wolverine & The X-Men #5 (Marvel), and Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE #6 (DC). Spoilers!
Conan The Barbarian #1 by Massimo Carnevale
He may appear a little younger and less scarred from decades of battle, but it’s still definitely our Conan. With Carnevale’s instantly recognizable style from his wonderful Northlanders covers, it seems that this new gig on Conan is a perfect match for him. Highlighting the different attire (armor?) and setting (on a boat?) immediately conveys to us that this isn’t your grandfather’s Conan, but something a little bit more new and exciting. Anyone else craving that skull belt buckle?
Penguin: Pain and Prejudice #5 by Szymon Kudranski
What platform is that; Sega? It appears from this cover that the re-runs of Battlebots have finally hit Gotham airwaves, and Penguin is obviously a big fan. I just love how gigantic this Batman/Bane/Cyborg hybrid is in comparison to Oswald with his first generation XBOX controller (that’s an sick-burn if you’re a video gamer). I’m really a fan of the black and white motif, with threatening red lights abound in the armor and mask. I can almost hear the mechanical thumps and grinds come to life over the Penguins guttural squawks of delight when staring at this cover, and that’s a great compliment to the illustration.
Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #6 by J.G. Jones
While it’s great we get this image of the whole Commandos team together, what freaks me out is that there’s a being out there capable of scooping-up Franky with one hand (a giant red hand, no less)! The color fading from the rest of the team is a neat touch, focusing all color and attention on the center characters. I’m also digging Franky’s old school pistols blasting away at the beast, but something tells me the turnout may be more in his favor with the inclusion of his claymore. Great use of space nonetheless.
Thief of Thieves #1 by Shawn Martinbrough & Felix Serrano
While I do appreciate the entire cast of characters in the painting being stolen by presumably the main character, the real reason I love this cover so much is because of the great homage to graphic design legend Saul Bass with the logo. I know that reasoning sounds weird, but I’m a sucker for the classics. Do yourself a favor and Google The Man With The Golden Arm to see what I’m rambling about.
In this episode I’m joined once again by Art (Fourth Wall Comics Podcast) and Matt (Duke of Douche) to discuss more The Walking Dead goodness just in time for the second half of season 2. We discuss The Walking Dead: Rise Of The Governor (Skybound), the Torn Apart webisodes, and casting rumors for season 3. Major spoilers!
Super Bowl weekend, and no superheroes in sight! Pick Of The Week goes to Jeff Lemire for Sweet Tooth #30 (Vertigo)! Fast Five picks include O.M.A.C. #6 (DC), Locke & Key: Clockworks #4 (IDW), Animal Man #6 (DC), The Strange Talent of Luther Strode #5 (Image), and Swamp Thing #6 (DC).
Let’s go Giants!
Dark Horse Presents #8 by Duncan Fegredo & Dave Stewart
Admit it, you shed a tear too when you learned what happened to Hellboy. I’ve said it before on the podcast and I’ll say it again in writing now; Mike Mignola doesn’t have to illustrate a Hellboy story ever again, as long as he keeps giving art duties to Duncan Fegredo. I realize it sounds crazy, but Fegredo has out-Mignola’d Mignola! Don’t get me wrong; Mignola is a wonderful artist, but Fegredo has somehow taken his baby and improved it beautifully. While Fegredo really impressed me, it’s Dave Stewart’s colors that really put twenty-three cherries on top; look at all that pretty dabbing and texture! This cover is absolute eye-candy.
X-Club #3 by Rodin Esquejo
Let it fly in the breeze
And get caught in the trees
Give a home to the fleas in my hair
A home for fleas
A hive for bees
A nest for birds
There ain’t no words
For the beauty, the splendor, the wonder
Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
–Hair, Hair the Musical
Sweet Tooth #30 by Jeff Lemire & Jose Villarrubia
My favorite cover of the week, hands-down! I’ve seen some ‘gangsta’ tattoos in my day (I watched Oz, I know what’s up), and this design is practically the standard. However, with the tattoos I’ve seen it’s usually a dead child or relative that’s being highlighted, and if the person puts on a few pounds, it then becomes all distorted looking. Pretty soon after one cheeseburger too many, it looks like you’re mourning the Elephant Man. The shading and shaping of the body looks fantastic (Jepperd looks great for his age), and I especially like the images of Bobby and Wendy on the arms, along with his loved ones of past and present underneath. If you consider yourself a hardcore Jeff Lemire fan, get these tattoos and show Jeff at the next convention you see him at. I can guarantee you he won’t be expecting it.