Archive for June, 2012
The City Troll
180 pages, $15.00
So it’s no secret that I enjoy backing projects on Kickstarter, especially if the project is something comic book oriented. Sure, not every project I’ve backed was successful, but when it comes to the ones that do achieve victory at the end of the day, I personally feel proud that I not only helped back that person’s project, but I helped make their dreams come true as well.
Back in January I had some cash to spend, so I searched for comic book projects and browsed the results for a good twenty minutes. I don’t tend to search for single issues, but rather graphic novels and other thicker collections. One project in particular caught my eye from its colorful cover and intriguing character design, and that’s how I came to fund The City Troll by Aaron Whitaker. A few months later after it was successfully funded, the graphic novel and several other goodies arrived at my doorstep, and reading the final product made me so grateful that I took a chance and judged the book by its cover alone.
The story follows Paul, a young man in his mid-twenties who isn’t all that confident about himself, especially when it comes to looks, talking to girls, and comparing himself to his best friend Ian. You see, Ian is well-liked by everyone, ridiculously good-looking, and has no problem talking to women, let alone sweeping them off their feet. In Paul’s mind, he’s the being known as The City Troll, who was created by God as a punishment to The Perfect Man (Ian), and both beings were destined to be paired with one another for all eternity, just so The Perfect Man would have a difficult time attracting women so easily.
Of course, The City Troll is the alter-ego Paul has created for himself, and his troll avatar is easily recognizable by the audience whenever Paul is feeling down or pathetic throughout the story. He’s about to turn twenty-six, and yet he still finds himself stuck in the same old rut, not getting any younger, and still single. It’s a feeling most of us can relate to, but keep in mind this graphic novel is not an autobiography of any sort.
Paul has always felt the need to keep potential girlfriends away from Ian, because in the past the women become so smitten with Ian they just can’t control themselves around him, and another one bites the dust for poor Paul. When the mysterious Emily enters into their lives, a love-triangle starts to form, but this time Paul doesn’t feel like backing down. Emily makes him feel good about himself, and slowly he starts to emerge out of his City Troll shell, and starts enjoying life for a change. Of course, not everything lasts forever, and friendships are tested and hearts are broken by the end of the story.
When trying to describe Whitaker’s art style, it reminds me of a mixture of Jeffrey Brown and Kolbeinn Karlsson, with a little Bryan Lee O’Malley thrown in for good measure. The City Troll character is a beautifully rendered and jagged being, and I especially loved every time Paul would switch back and forth between himself and the Troll, flawlessly bringing the scene together every time.
This is Whitaker’s first graphic novel, and it definitely left me feeling astonished and impressed by the hard work he put into it. This came together over the years in his spare time, so with the final product being collected and finally released onto the masses, you can definitely see the passion and elbow grease he’s put into every page.
Along with the graphic novel, I also received some floppies of his earlier work, a colored print (which currently hangs in my room, awaiting a proper frame), and a sketch card featuring myself as a troll. I requested myself with a microphone and headphones, and he definitely delivered!
So if you’re looking for something on the other side of the superhero spectrum and enjoy independent works and slice-of-life stories, I highly recommend you check out The City Troll by Aaron Whitaker. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next, but whatever it is, I’ll definitely back it if it’s on Kickstarter.
Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation² #2 by J.K. Woodward
Resistance is futile. You must buy this series. Favorite cover of the week.
Batman, Incorporated #2 by Chris Burnham & Nathan Fairbairn
A beautiful feeling of both Dungeons & Dragons and Medusa from the Greek myths of old, Burnham & Fairbairn continue to kick serious amount of ass with these Batman, Incorporated covers. Batman looks like Indiana Jones a little bit, with the whole “I hate snakes!” look he’s sporting. The coloring throughout the snakes is fantastic, and the scaly details are superb to look at. With the inclusion of the rest of the characters at the bottom there, it almost feels like one of the trippiest movie posters you’ve ever seen.
B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth: Exorcism #1 by Viktor Kalvachev
I would love to be a fly on the wall of Kalvachev’s studio, and see what techniques he uses lighting-wise to help better improve his illustrations. First of all, the ribcage cage is ingenious, as are the glowing eyes of the creature it contains. Including Mignola’s 2D flame to a very realistic looking painted style is also a great choice, because the mixed media is playing with really flows well together. I also love the freckles on Liz, because often I forget she’s such a cute redhead, so big props to Kalvachev on his interpretation of her. Great cover!
The Hypernaturals #1 by Francesco Mattina
I’m pretty sure this trio are supposed to be the good guys, but in all honesty I’m kinda nervous to be rescued by any of them. They come off as creepy, and Mattina does an excellent job conveying that. The violets and darker tones explode off the page, completely captivating your imagination, and making your curiosity approach with caution. The long fingers and elongated logo on the center guy fascinates me the most, and I can definitely see myself buying a poster of this cover and hanging this on my wall. This cover reeks of ‘cosmic,’ just as Mattina intended.
In this special episode it’s an Archaia Publishing extravaganza! I review several of their titles (that you must pick up, they’re so wonderful), including Mouse Guard, Labyrinth and Other Stories, Cow Boy, Spera, Black Fire, and Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand. Just think; this is merely a handful of amazing titles that Archaia has to offer!
Aww yeah, it’s another episode of my comic book shiz-ow! Pick Of The Week goes to Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples for Saga #4 (Image)! Fast Five picks include Baltimore: Dr. Leskovar’s Remedy #1 (Dark Horse), Daredevil #14 (Marvel), Glory #27 (Image), Fables #118 (Vertigo), and Dark Avengers #117 (Marvel). Spoilers!
B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth: The Devil’s Engine #2 by Duncan Fegredo
I don’t think the B.P.R.D. Vermin Extermination Unit were prepared for a menace like this one. One of the things I love about Fegredo’s painted style is the amount of detail he commits to every aspect of the image. The shading, the divots, the broken glass flying everywhere, and oh yeah, that gigantic hideous monster chewing his way through the roof. Very beautiful cover, as usual.
Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child #4 by Rafael Grampá
I gave the first issue of this series a try, and decided it probably wasn’t for me. Then after seeing this cover, Grampá is the master of intrigue, and I may just have to start reading again. I just get lost in an ecstasy-like state when looking at all the hair, and think of how long that must have taken him to sketch and ink. If that wasn’t beautiful enough, there’s the beautiful beaded dragon upon high, watching over all. I’m hypnotized by it’s glowing eyes.
Hellblazer #292 by Simon Bisley
Man, this newest season of True Blood is getting a lot more intense! Seriously though, how badass does Constantine look in this get-up? He should take a walk on the wild side a lot more often! The punk rock / intense style Bisley is best known for works beautifully here, and the color choices are phenomenal as well! This is just a wicked cover, plain and simple.
Journey Into Mystery #640 by Stephanie Hans
Oh look, it’s the things my nightmares are made of! A walking spider castle with burning red eyes. Great, I’ll never sleep again! Even after Gandalf there is done giving the “You shall not pass!” monologue, Loki & Co. are still pretty royally screwed. I love the details in the castle, and the Gothic style of the residence itself. If the Wild Wild West and House of Mystery had a baby, you’re looking at the creepy result.
CHEW #27 by Rob Guillory
I smile every single time when looking at this cover. The bright and happy colors, the weirdness surrounding Toni, and imagery of past and present issues strewn all around. The thing that makes me laugh the hardest is the tiny Tony Chew in the hospital bed, with little X’s over his eyes. Just wild, silly stuff!
Wonder Woman #10 by Cliff Chiang
First things first, I like the toned-down colors reflecting the setting both ferryman and heroine are entering. The tone is a darker one, and you almost can feel a small chill run up your spine. It’s very creepy to have a skull replacing Wonder Woman’s face, while the rest of her body appears to be fine. What happened to her face? Who is she going to see, with her guns drawn? Is she trying to save-face, because that might be a little hard to do right now. Either way, this is a very pretty cover, and Chiang should never stop producing them.
In this special episode I’m joined by Art (TV Division), Dommy (The House-Dwarf) and Matt (Duke of Douche) to discuss the last five episodes of Game of Thrones season two. We cover The Old Gods and the New, A Man Without Honor, The Prince of Winterfell, Blackwater, and Valar Morghulis. We also discuss the differences in George RR Martin’s novel A Clash Of Kings (and some A Storm of Swords), so spoilers abound!
I’m back and slightly more beautiful! Pick Of The Week goes to Dan Slott & Stefano Caselli for Amazing Spider-Man #687 (Marvel)! Fast Five picks include Planetoid #1 (Image), American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares #1 (Vertigo), Avengers #27 (Marvel), Batman #10 (DC), and Dancer #2 (Image). Spoilers!
The Book of the Month for June 2012 is none other than Phonogram: The Singles Club (Image) written by Kieron Gillen and illustrated by Jamie McKelvie.
Music is magic, and we’re all Phonomancers in our own right!
Animal Man #10 by Travel Foreman
While they may be the cavalry, they ain’t no cavalry I’d want to be rescued by! As usual with Foreman, you get that great disturbing and gritty look with his art, and with this cover in particular, a very detailed final product. Everything from each individual feather on the wings, to the sea of skulls down below, this cover captivates you, and demands your undivided attention. After seeing legions of hybrid dog-angels, one must ask themselves, “Where is your god now?!” They almost remind me of a creepier army of flying monkeys, with Buddy as Dorothy and his goat friend as Toto. A much bigger Toto. Definitely my favorite cover of the week.
Extermination #1 (Cover C) by Michael Gaydos
At first I thought this cover (cover ‘C’ of ‘Z’ for this issue alone, mind you) was done by Alex Maleev. I can see similarities in the painted style. But then upon closer inspection, while it does have some Maleev feel to it, it’s definitely it’s own beast. There’s a lot of great stuff happening with this cover; the parasitic looking creature, the ruins of a city seen in the costume, all of these events surrounding this one lone individual. Who is this mystery man, and why is he being plagued by these situations? The muddled reds and yellows blend beautifully, and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for more of Mr. Gaydos’ work in the future.
G.I. Combat #2 by Viktor Kalvachev
If you’re a longtime reader of MAD Magazine like yours truly, then you may be familiar with a once-regular feature by Sergio Aragones called The Shadow Knows, where you’d get the real scoop of what the individual thought of or saw themselves as. While that feature was funny, this cover takes a slightly more menacing turn. I really crave the almost patchy look of the Grim Reaper shadow, because it really makes me study the design more carefully. The shadow almost mimics this Black Flag-fan-and-commando’s bandages with the criss-cross lines going on. Lots of tension in this cover, but in the end I’d just take notice of the shadow, and perhaps abort the mission.
Sweet Tooth #34 by Jeff Lemire
The most dangerous man in the Sweet Tooth series gets his own cover? Then some major shit is about to go down in this issue. First of all, we only see his sinister red glasses staring right into our souls. Secondly, ghostly skulls are emanating from his cranium, which is never a good sign. Add the beautiful watercolors, and as a whole this cover is poster worthy, if not TPB worthy for an upcoming volume. Perhaps replace Jeppard and Gus in his lenses instead of the childhood brothers starring in this issue. Wonderful stuff.
In this special episode I’m joined by Freddie and Art of the Fourth Wall Comics Podcast, and we discuss the 2012 Eisner Nominees. We don’t cover every category, but we do talk about what we liked, what should have been nominated, and we enjoy watching each other suffer when trying to pronounce certain names.
Another week, another Fast Five! Picks include Animal Man Annual #1 (DC), Wolverine and the X-Men #11 (Marvel), American Vampire #27 (Vertigo), B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth: The Transformation of J.H. O’Donnell #1 (Dark Horse), and Batman Annual #1 (DC). Spoilers!
Diablo #4 by Joseph Lacroix
After this miniseries comes to a close, I’m definitely going to follow Lacroix to his next project. I’ve become smitten over the past year with his art style, and it’s the simple-yet-intense look of his that really does it for me. The executioner dressed in all red with matching axe is particularly menacing, but the one detail that sent chills down my spine was the hot blood at the bottom, melting through the snow like a river through a countryside. If the Diablo video game looked anything like this cover, I’d be playing it every day.
American Vampire #27 by Rafael Albuquerque
While Albuquerque continues with the beautiful multicolored washes with these covers, that wasn’t what sold me. It was definitely the icing on the cake, but not quite the cherry on top. Now I’m hungry for cake. It’s a very small detail, perhaps slightly overlooked by those who didn’t observe it after a quick glance. It’s the yellow in Pearl’s eyes. That’s what makes this cover eerie; there’s a smiling gunman thinking he has the advantage over this poor defenseless wandering dame in the rain, when in fact, Pearl is the most dangerous of the two. The guy doesn’t even realize it, but he’s the one who should be scared. I got all that from her yellow eyes.
Rachel Rising #8 by Terry Moore
That’s one way to convert someone to the vegetarian lifestyle! But seriously, let us stop this silly banter for a moment to observe how creepy this cover really is. You’re trying to stay above the surface, but the tree is the root of all your problems. You’re struggling tooth and nail against these powerful wooden appendages, and it doesn’t seem to be getting you anywhere. What helps sell the horror in this cover is the dirty blood-red colors overtaking the lighter forest floor ones. The panic in her eye as she realizes how helpless her situation is; I can almost see this as the poster to the next Sam Raimi movie.
Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2 #1 by J.K. Woodward
Nerdgasm to the extreme. Make it so, IDW. Make it so. Favorite cover of the week, hands-down.