Tuesday, March 31, 2009

There can be only One!

I first discovered Highlander when I saw the MTV video of the title sequence with Queen playing their killer track behind Connor MacLeod and the Kurgan battling atop that building with the Silvercup neon sign in the background.Once I saw that I knew that I had to see the film. Unfortunately I missed the film in the theater, but I did catch it on Cable. Years later I caught the horrible sequel and panned it unmercifully in my film column. When the third film came out, it returned the series to being totally watchable (needless to say, I have own the first and third DVDs but not #2).

When it hit TV, I started watching that (yes,even the animated series) the fourth film and the fifth TV film were also watchable, as was the spin-off The Raven. When Highlander became a comicbook over at Dynamite, I was equally excited as well, I really love this stuff. They have already published a few different series featuring the various characters from the films and TV shows with a varying degree of success (for whatever reason, I personally don’t think that the time changes from present to past top the present work as well in print as they do in the films and TV shows, but again, that could be just be me.

Anyway, Dynamite has just issued a two-part history of the Kurgan that was quite good. However, after reading it I did have one problem with the story. In the first part, in 880 B.C.E. The Kurgan finds himself in Israel only that is so completely not possible, because, as we all know, the land known as Palestine did not become the nation we now know as Israel until 1948. When writing historical fiction it is always good to know something about history.

Still, you should not let this one little flaw to dissuade you from reading an otherwise engaging comic series.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Love and Capes Rocks the House!

I first discovered Thom Zahler’s wonderful comic Love and Capes a few years back on Free Comic Book Day. I immediately fell in love with the comic and have done what I can to acquire the back issues. (currently I have issues #’s 2, 4, 7, 8 & 9 — Issues 2, 8 & 9 are autographed by Zahler).

What makes this superhero comic different than virtually all other superhero comics that I have ever read, is that this one is actually a romance comic that is disguised as a superhero comic.

That’s right, it really is a lighthearted take on the whole Superman & Lois Lane love story (and no, not simply a re-do of Lois & Clark). No, Zahler’s delightful series relates the engaging story of Mark Spencer and Abby Tennyson, the gal of his dreams. They are in love, and this is the story of their courtship, only Mark is secretly the Crusader, a superhero who has been protecting Deco City for the past 10 years.

In issues 8 & 9, we have Abby’s sister, Charlotte moves to Paris to study art (courtesy of millionaire Paul LaCrox — secretly Darkblade, and Crusader’s best friend) with Mark temporarily filling in at Abby’s bookstore until she can find full-time replacement for Abby. On the superhero front the Liberty League is kidnapped by a super-powerful alien who wants them to fight a group of super-baddies in a “winner-take-all” Secret Wars, kind of bout).

The interesting twist to this episode is that (unknown to the heroes) Psi-Clone bests Crusader, and takes his place among the heroes (and in Abby’s life) disguised as Crusader. As can be expected, this plays hob with not only the public’s perception of Crusader, but Mark and Abby’s romance as well. To be sure Crusader does come back to Earth (albeit after a few weeks of having to fly back on his own from the planet where he was left), still the sheer enjoyment of the tale is how Zahler goes about telling the story.

If you are looking for either straight romance or full-blown super heroics, you will ultimately be sorely disappointed, but, truth to tell, if you are here already, you are not so much looking for one or the other, but the rich combination of both that Zahler so expertly delivers.In fact it is Zahler’s rich understanding of superhero dynamics that so expertly enriches this saga of a modern superhero love story. This is neither “Chick-Lit” superheroics, or a watered-down superhero comic that is spiced up with romance for the gals. this is an honest-to-goodness adult comic written for adults who have grown past the need for busty babes in spandex and over-testosteroned guys in spandex that solve things by hitting them.

* * * UPDATE! * * * UPDATE!* * * UPDATE! * * *

This is the superhero comicbook for the rest of us. Thom tells me that issue #10 is due out for Free Comic Book Day ‘09, with issue #11 due out in July. Then there is a double-sized wedding issue due in November. Thom also informs me that folks can even buy a space on the cover and attend the wedding.

I can hardly wait!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

More Indies you should be reading

I know that I’ve been saying that quite a bit these days but man do I have a couple of books that you should be reading now. Both of the stories that I am going to be discussing occurred in Mysterious Visions (#s 7 & 15) from Spa Comics.

The first one is from issue #7, and cover-features Shawnti Therrien’s Am I Immortal I’ve been a fan of Shawnti’s sings I first saw her work (Meth) in Psychosis! #1. Shawnti has, over the course of a number of years, and the span of a number publishers has been build quite an impressive universe. Her Gothic vampire lore is both erotic and compelling as she interweaves her story it simply draws you into the mythos and makes you believe that it is all possible.

Hey, forget that vampire-lite teen whinny angst of Twilight, all the really cool vampire stuff is happening here.

This issue of Visions is rounded out by Ill (Ryan Cox & Al Ullman) and The History Collective (Terry Montimore). Ill is the story of someone who seems to have voices going off in his head, while The History Collective is part one of a story that involves time travel and the space-time continuum. Both deliver solid art and intriguing premises.

Issue #15 gives us the debut work of Liz Ortiz’s Rasgal who place high in last years Comicbook Idol thus ensuring her this stand-alone issue of her work. The Manga-style story involves other-worldly creatures, swordplay, and high adventure. It marks an impressive debut of an obviously talented individual who is certainly worth watching.

I do, however have one (smallish) nit to pick about this issue, in that I totally didn’t like the lettering on this story, which was (for some inexplicable reason) was rendered in Times Roman (a serif font) rather than in a tradition comicbook-style (sans-serif) font.This proved to be the most jarring element of this otherwise wonderful comic. After over 40 years of reading comics it just didn’t look right to me.

Still, this is a small point, and I still recommend acquiring this comic.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Apparently the IS such a thing as a Free Lunch!

Well, Free Lunch Comics, that is. Yep, Free Lunch comics is the publishing company of my good buddies Matt Ryan and Steve Kanaras. Matt (as you already know, was the kickoff artist on my own Wülf Girls feature that debuted in Guild Works Productions horror anthology Psychosis!). Well Free Lunch is the home of Matt’s Bigger, Steve’s Only in Whispers, and well a whole bunch of other very cool comics, including Mark Tarrant’s The Blood Rider.

The Blood Rider is a vampire western story that tells the tale of Ezekiel Carson who is cursed to roam the untamed west as an undead blood-sucking creature of the night who was once a devoted man of God. now Ezekiel is haunted by his past as he attempts to deal with what he has become. He does this by feeding on bandits and spending his nights satisfying his endless lusts, he has found his life is empty. The very nature of this story (vampires in the old west) make it stand out from among most of what is being published these days.

As long as I’m discussing one of my favorite artists, I wanted to also mention Unhappy Grandma (Radbu Productions). Now Radbu has no connection to Free Lunch save that the guys at Radbu (Tom Van Zandt & Markellus Ragans) hired Matt Ryan to illustrate the comic. This story is about a world where many folk have extraordinary powers. One of those folks is this one rather irritated grandmother, who is simply put bone tired of these hooligans ruining her once peaceful Boston Neighborhood.

Not to be taken entirely seriously, it is an entertaining respite from all of the comics being published these days that feel that they have to be dark and gritty to garner an audience. it is light, humorous, and quite entertaining. I suggest you give it a try.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Indie comics everywhere you look!

A while back I brought your collective attentions to the most-excellent work of my good buddy Carl Herring, Jr. and his very enjoyable comic The Enforcers. Well, Wouldn’t you know it but Carl has brought out a sequel in the form of Crime Wave. A shoot-em-up cop story. I have to tell you that I am totally jealous of Carl, as not only has he produced a very readable crime comic, but he has managed to attract some extremely talented people to illustrate it for him. (including a Norm Breyfogle cover, Scott Ambruson, Chris Torres, and Ed Traquino on the interior art).

I’m telling you that this stuff is fun as it tells us the stories of a group of cops as they do the job for which they are paid. This issue contains three stories, giving us a fairly decent range of stories and characterization. I especially love, Safe House, but I’ll admit that I’m biased towards the fabulous painted work of my pal Chris Torres (who wonderfully rendered my own Agent Unknown story about Springload & Renegade in CAG #7, and is — as I understand it — currently working on the follow-up S&L story which is slated to appear under the newly-formed Atlas Unleashed logo).

But this review is about Carl’s comic, not mine, and from the look of things, Carl is going to have some more very interesting product coming out in the coming months. Personally, I can hardly wait.

As long as I’m talking about friends of mine, and promorting their comics, I figure I’ll give mention to The other Son by Trevor Saxon and my pal Paul London. Paul passed this over to me at the NYC Comic Con and the full-sized promo comic delivers some very detailed pencils of the upcoming comic. Delivering on some religious themes this story relates the tale of angels and demons as they struggle with their other-worldly heritage. The comic offers us a brief glimpse of the story itself along with several pages of character illustrations and bios.

From what I saw in this comic it looks very interesting, and leaves me wanting more. So Paul, when do we get to see the rest?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It’s All Going to Hell’s (Blood) Today

Today I want to talk about a very cool Indie comic produced by one of my all-time favorite Indie publishers, Guild Works Productions (GWP). Of course I’m talking about my good buddy Hector Rodriguez’s Hell’s Blood. this comic tells the story of a young kid named Hector (no relation) who lives in Holyoke, MA and inadvertently gets involved in occult activities after mystic forces attack his grandmother, Angela, one evening.

Angela is on her way home when she is attacked by a daemonic insect. Summoning her own arcane abilities, she fights back with tragic results, and eventually her grandson is drawn into this epic battle between the forces of the mystic darkness and the flesh-and-blood world. This story shows off Hector’s fine pencil work along with the able-bodied assist by the rest of his crew, Keith Murphey (art assist), Scott Scheaffer (script), Jet Amago (grayscales), Johnny Lowe (Letters).

We understand that Hector is already working on the next issue, and we can hardly wait to see where he takes this story, as it has us intrigued with the possibilities.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spidey @ Mickey D’s Part Duce

So, a short while ago I posted that Spidey has made a return visit to McDonald’s, well, this after noon I made a quick circuit of the local McDs an managed to score the entire set of eight.

Now I’m a happy guy, and can go back to work.

However, if you are interested, I’d advise hurrying, I think they have been out for a little bit, and I don’t know how much longer they will be here.

Spider-Man at McDonald’s

I just learned from my daughter (who bought me one) last night that Spider-Man toys are currently at McD’s (apparently my lovely wife drove her there for dinner, and, spotting the toys, they acquired me the one that was available). I’m not sure how long they have been there (someone told me that it is possible they have been there all month long). I’m currently busy, but as soon as I wrap up with my client, I’m going to run out to a McD’s near me that usually has all the toys. I’ll let you know what that brings as soon as I’m back.

I think that there are eight toys. The site also offers up AIM Icons, a screen saver, wallpaper, and a B&W coloring page.

Another pull from the Indie pile!

I’d like to talk a bit about a friend of mine, named Rusty Haller.

Rusty is a damn-fine cartoonist with quite an impressive history. His first published work was back in the late ‘80s for a small CT-based publisher named Spotlight Comics. Rusty did work on a Deputy Dog comic and Mighty Mouse Christmas Special as well as Terry Tunes (an assignment he landed though Jim Main at Main Enterprises). Soon after getting published at Spotlight, Rusty was able to score a very gig at Marvel’s line of Star Comics working on such titles as Danger Mouse, Count Duckla, Heathclif, and Alf. Rusty also produced some illustrations for Marvel Age (a title that I myself worked on back in the day). Over at DC he worked on Tiny Tune Adventures, Looney Tunes, and Animaniacks. In addition to this, he worked on various Flintstones and Harvey titles for Archie Comics. As well as book and magazine illustrations.

Not content wit working other people’s products, Rusty went on to create his own characters; Ace and Queenie an anthropomorphic action/adventure spy series that he has been producing for Furrlough Comics for over four years (generating over 150 pages of printed art). About 2 years ago, a little dissatisfied with his own progress on Ace & Queenie, Rusty brought his unique creation to the web, where fans can now not only read the new web adventure, but purchase print editions of Furrlough and other comics containing Rusty’s work. Rusty also posts his art at Deviantart and Furafininity.

Now I like Rusty a whole lot, he is a very knowledgeable and affable fellow, with a huge amount of talent, so I was extremely please when he give me a copy of The Licensable Bear(tm) Big Book of Fun!. This book is a collection of The Licensable Bear’s(tm) comicbook.

To be sure there are other cartoonist's art filling up the pages of the book, and the Bear himself is created and written by Nat Gertler, but I was there for Rusty’s work. To be fair to Nat and his Bear buddy, the book is a long joke, not several jokes, but a single joke. You see, the premise of the book is that Bear wants folks to license his image to put on stuff or promote their pet cause, and every single story is about the same exact thing.

You might wonder how many variations you can do on a single theme, and bless Nat’s dark little heart, he has found them all. Some of the stories are ordinary, and some are quite entertaining. Reading them all in one sitting is probably impossible (it took me a couple of months of going back to it over and over to finish it off), it is worth the endeavor.

In addition to all of the above, Rusty has contributed to CAGDog, the online comic produced for the web by several of the members of that group. He has also contributed to my buddies over at Free Lunch Comics.

Then, as stated, there is Rusty’s work on the very entertaining, and very sexy Ace and Queenie. If you are a fan of action/adventure, anthropomorphic comics, very exotic-looking characters (yes, they are quite attractive), or simply well-drawn, and well-written comics, then you owe it to yourself to run (don’t walk) over to Ace and Queenie and check out what Rusty has in store for you. The while you’re there, you should blow your entire allowance on as many back issues as you can afford.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

New Indies I have read: Harijan

I have been reading comics since before recorded history began, before the Dawn of Time. (To be sure, I mark the beginning of recorded history with FF #1 and Dawn of Time with Amazing Fantasy #15). I love funnybooks, they are my favorite form of entertainment. Nothing beats a full day of reading comics, excepts perhaps spending the day with my funnybook friends.

Most of what I’ve read over the years have been mainstream, newsstand-level comics. However I have read more than my fair share of underground, ground-level, self-published, and independent comics. Whenever possible, I try to support and sample Indie comics because well, not everyone is going to be able to work for Marvel or DC (point in fact, not everyone even wants to work for Marvel or DC). Needless to say, over the years I have acquired some very cool contacts in the Indie comics world, and have thus acquired quite a number of Indie comics.

A short time back a fellow comics creator sent me the first three issues of his self-published comic, Harijan. According to writer/artist, Nicholas P. Myers, Harijan is a noun that is of Indian origin.

Harijan [children of God], in India, individuals who are at the bottom of or outside the Hindu caste system. They were traditionally sweepers, washers of clothes, leather workers, and those whose occupation it was to kill animals. The term is also sometimes applied to the hill tribes of India, who are considered unclean by some because they eat beef. Originally called untouchables or pariahs, they were given the name Harijans by the Indian political and religious leader Mahatma Gandhi, who worked for many years to improve their lives.

Well, Nicholas has adapted that term for the individuals who populate his world. they are a group of outcasts who live below the radar of the futuristic society in which they exist. The story of his comic follows the lives of these discarded individuals as they attempt to eke out their meager existence in a world that has no use for them other than cannon fodder. These first three issues follow David, Virgil, Samme, and Abendig.

As we are introduces to the Harijan, they are testing their mettle against some sort of creature that is stalking them in the low-lying parts of the city. It is there that they meet up with some unnamed girl that they rescue from the creature and bring with them back to their place. Unfortunately the girl has some sort of psionic powers and when she is unconscious it activates by animating objects around her to attack the Harijan. When she eventually wakes she realizes that they were attempting to help her. it is at this point that and Virgil’s sister Tansy shows up and attempts to kill them all. We learn a little bit about Virgil and Tansy’s past as well as a bit about the people who own the creature that was stalking Virgil.

I have to say that right off the bat the story is interesting, and the art is improving every issue. The lettering is interesting and I mention that up front because — for the most part — all comicbook lettering looks the same, and this style is just so eclectic that it immediately caught my attention and helped set the tone for the story. I'm intrigued by the concept of the Harijan themselves who live outside the norms of the greater society (either by choice or as cast-offs), and I especially like the fact that Nicholas has gone out of his way to craft his story out of an existing societal structure.

He gives us an interesting family structure of a group of individuals who chose to live with each other rather than are required to live with each other, and in the space of three short issues has made us care about them. His pacing and story structure are fine, and it looks as if he is actually going someplace with all of this. Personally, I’m willing to go along for the ride, as he has demonstrated that he is interested in using the medium to tell me a story that I haven’t already read someplace else or isn’t merely a knockoff of some other mainstream comic.

Yes, Harijan looks interesting, and I hope that Nicholas gets to tell the tale that he has started.

Nicholas is part of a group of creators called Cadre Corners who publish some other comics. I suggest that you contack Nicholas and tell him that you want to see what cool stuff he is doing.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Heroes it is!

Hey, I'm not so much a big Heroes fan, but I’ve watched it enough to know that this MAD-TV clip is dead on, and I wanted to share it with all of you:

Oh yeah, I really don’t watch MAD-TV either, but again, I came across this clip,and it was very funny.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The REAL Miss March!

Forget that silly movie of the same name. The Real Miss March is my good friend and talented artist Michele St. Martin, who’s always stunning artwork appears this month on the Novastar Studios Fantasy Art Calendar featuring the always lovely Belkis. If you want to know more about this month’s talented artist:

Michele was born in New York City, Michele was initiated into a strange family that weaned her on not on Dr. Seuss, and Dick & Jane books, but on a steady diet of Famous Monsters, Eerie, Creepy, Heavy Metal magazine, stoner-rock, Kung-Fu movies, really bad horror & exploitation films, and great books & art. Later on, she attended Manhattan’s High School of Art and Design, graduating with honors & a penchant for drawing truly naughty images.

After attending Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute for a spell, she figured she’d be making more money freelancing than actually going to class, which she did with relish & has been doing ever since, illustrating for various companies, publications, and private clients. Currently, Michele is pursuing various projects, including a collaboration slated to appear in an original horror comic entitled MUTATIA.

She now divides her time between New York City and Seattle, WA. You can also check her out on Comicspace, on Deviantart, and her brand new gallery.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Superhero Blast from the Laughing Past

I was tooling around the ‘Net today and happened on this great clip from the Daily Show

Jon Stewart has been nailing it on the head for a decade, and he hasn’t slowed down one bit.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

John Carbonaro is dead (miss, him, miss him)

It is with a heavy heart and with much regret that I relate that a good friend of mine, John (“Yes, I still own The THUNDER Agents, you can call my lawyer and ask him”) Carbonaro died on February 25. I met John back at the beginning of my comicbook career and we remained friendly throughout the intervening three decades.

When I met John, he had just purchased the Agents, and shortly thereafter got involved in a protracted legal battle as someone he had hired to work for him attempted to leverage his position of trust into stealing the Agents from John. Leave it say that the individual in question did not succeed, but the legal battle put a great strain on both John and his financial resources.

For a time, John was living in Texas with a friend of his, and I flew out to spend a week with them (one day have me tell you the story of Captain One-Eye). It was through John that I met and befriended Walt Stone, who manages the THUNDER Web page.

To say that I am distraught over the death of my friend is something of an understatement. Even though John spent more time apart then together (He lived in TX and CA while I lived in CT), we really were good friends (He came over my place once and bought my son a Ninja Turtle ride-in Jeep — to be sure, John offered to buy the kid a Batmobile, but Dylan knew more about the Turtles than Batman, and well, I was dealing with a 5 year-old, so he won out).

Anyway, John is gone, but (hopefully) the THUNDER Agents will live on to fight another day.

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Watchmen are here!

Well, not so much here, as well, here. Yeah yeah they are out this weekend (and I will be seeing it, but this is not that post), This is more of the Watchmen frenzy that is surrounding the release.

To Wit:

Meanwhile everyone from The Wall St. Journal to The New York Times have already published reviews.

While the Journal shouts “Pow! Bam! 'Watchmen' Batters Public” and tells us:

...watching "Watchmen" is the spiritual equivalent of being whacked on the skull for 163 minutes.

The Times states:

Indeed, the ideal viewer — or reviewer, as the case may be — of the “Watchmen” movie would probably be a mid-’80s college sophomore with a smattering of Nietzsche, an extensive record collection and a comic-book nerd for a roommate. The film’s carefully preserved themes of apocalypse and decay might have proved powerfully unsettling to that anxious undergraduate sitting in his dorm room, listening to “99 Luftballons” and waiting for the world to end or the Berlin Wall to come down.

Me? Well I’ll tell you what I think after I've seen it.

In there mean time there is still this...

And, well, this:

DVD Focus

Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic (2009)

It's fascinating to watch this animated version after the live-action sensory assault on the big screen. The tone is solemn, the figures move slowly -- they're panel-for-panel reproductions of the book in extremely limited animation -- and one actor, Tom Stechschulte, does all the voices, male and female, in an unaffected, almost uninflected style. Yet the colors are dazzling, at least on the Blu-ray disk that arrived a few days ago, and the effect is hypnotic. You not only see clearly but feel strongly, since those colors, words and images all carry emotion, and there's ample time to process it.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Watchmen are everywhere

Apparently the Skrulls weren't the only folk turned into Cows...

Then there is this from PVP Online...

You seriously have to love this stuff.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Its the Spidey version of the Brass Monkey Alert!

...And no, I’m not going to ‘splain the Brass Monkey Alert, but, well it is snowing here, and has been since sometime last night. Further, it doesn't look like it is going to stop any time soon. The photo at which you are looking, is the Spidey head antenna topper that sits atop the antenna of my car (yes, I drive the Spider-Mobile, what did you expect?).

SO you have a clear idea of how much snow we have here. I’m going to be staying inside for the rest of the day and work on my entries for The Official Index to the Marvel Universe.