Archive for July, 2008

Video of webcomics talk/presentation at Google

July 31st, 2008 by Martin

Webcomics authors Richard Stevens (of Diesel Sweeties) and Meredith Gran (of Octopus Pie) gave an hour long presentation at Google sometime back in June. I don’t remember how I stumbled onto it, but found this originally over at Major Spoilers.

Update: This should be required viewing (I mostly just listened) for anyone wanting to start out and make a webcomic. Some of the names dropped were Scott Pilgrim (not a webcomic, unfortunately), Kate Beaton (interesting, I’ll have to look at this more), jonathan rosenberg (who does Goats which is AWESOME), MC Frontalot, Scott McCloud and Ryan North who does Dinosaur Comics. This was part of the Authors@Google series, and there are hundreds of these videos, including one of David Hajdu (who, as you may recall, wrote Ten Cent Plague).

Dr. Horrible panel at Comic-Con

July 31st, 2008 by Martin

As someone stuck up here in Minnesota rather than in California for San Diego’s Comic-Con, I basically just have to sit back and watch the news roll in from everybody else. But this report about the panel on Dr. Horrible is just too good not to share. Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, Felicia Day, Simon Helberg and of course Joss Whedon himself were all present.

There was much banter — repartee even! — at the expense of scoopage. After an audience member playfully accused Whedon of liking to kill off his female characters, Harris deadpanned, “You do kill a lot of chicks.” Retorted Whedon, “I have two tricks. You’re either out, or your dead.” Fillion, meanwhile, cracked some choice phallic “Captain Hammer” jokes, then claimed that Harris, vis-a-vis Doogie Howser, invented the blog. And Harris? He claimed he didn’t recall said show, referring to that time in his life as his “heroin years.”

But there were a few revelations among the revelry. On the ever-enduring Buffy front, we learned:
• Joyce Summers had Whedon’s favorite death on Buffy. Said Whedon: It was “the most time I got to spend with something that close to me.” Awww.
• Oz will return to Dark Horse’s most-excellent Buffy comic(!).
• Willow was basically outed only because Oz left the show.
• And, no, Whedon was never going make Xander gay.

And in Dr. Horrible news:
• Harris did some of his own MTV Cribs-like choreography in the musical, including that beloved shoulder shimmy in the second act.
• While filming, Whedon sang as Hammer to Felicia’s character. And cowriter Maurissa Tancharoen has it on tape.
• They’re hosting a contest for “Evil League of Evil” video submissions that are no longer than three minutes. The top 10 will be on the Dr. Horrible DVD.
• The Dr. Horrible soundtrack will be available for download in a couple of weeks.
• Lastly, if you want to be an agent of doom, and rock an iPhone, you too can log onto the very same interface Doc Horrible used in the film at

Pretty cool, huh? Here is more coverage of the panel including a video, and confirmation that Whedon said there will be more Dr. Horrible.

More comic-con news: EW’s Popwatch, Wizard’s SDCC news central, and finally Newsarama’s coverage guide. There’s tons more where that came from, but who has time to read it all?

Top 10: The Forty-Niners

July 30th, 2008 by Martin

This was every bit as good as the original Top Ten, maybe even better.

I absolutely loved this book. At heart, it is a story about outsiders and racism, about culture clash, and a melting-pot society. It’s maybe also about coming of age and coming out. At face value, it’s the story of how the city of Neopolis is formed. Neopolis is the main setting for Top 10, and this is a prequel that takes place in the city’s early days.

I’m finding it hard to say anything because I don’t want to give anything away. It’s such a great story, and of course Gene Ha’s artwork is phenomenal as well. The whole thing is given a sort of sepia toned color pallet–subdued, which lends a sort of old-timey feel to the whole thing, like watching an old black and white movie or something. But the art is no less spectacular for it.

Read this book! Read the original Top 10 first, but don’t stop there, or you’ll be missing out.

Jim Lee Signing THIS Saturday

July 29th, 2008 by Martin

The Source Comics and Games is having Jim Lee sign this Saturday. Here is info from their email:

  • It will be a ticketed event that does not require a ticket! Let us explain. All current Source & Uncle Sven’s comic book subscribers have already been given numbered VIP tickets. Numbered tickets will go first in numerical order and when they are finished, the general public will have access.
  • Jim will be signing from 1PM to 4PM. Door open at 10AM.
  • Jim will be signing a maximum of two items per person. The reason for this is we want to give as many people as possible a chance.
  • There will be other Super Star Comic Book Artists in the house as well. They will be announced one week before the event.
  • Special storewide sale beginning at 10AM going until Jim hits the trail!
  • An ocean of cool Jim Lee comic book stuff will be available!
  • We will be collecting donations on behalf of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

Just FYI, I have not seen an email with a list of the other creators who will be there.

Also, for those of you who are inclined to video games, Jim Lee is the Executive Creative Director of the new DC Universe Online game. Here is a video of Jim Lee introducing the “first look” at that new MMORPG.

ElfQuest goes online

July 29th, 2008 by Martin

ElfQuest, to celebrate their 30th anniversary, is putting the entire catalog of ElfQuest comics online.

They appear to be going up at a rate of about five comics a week, but the entire first 21 issue series is already available. The quality of the scans is very nice from what I’ve seen, and I intend to read them all… someday.

All this via a rather old post on boingboing. But some more recent news is that there is a movie in the works, to be directed by Rawson Thurber (who directed Dodgeball). I think it’s a bit early to be announcing this, frankly, as a script hasn’t been written yet, and the format is also yet to be determined.

I’ve only just read the first issue so far, so if you’re at all knowledgeable about ElfQuest, please forgive my inadequate summary, but from that first issue, it seems that the premise is essentially that elves are descended from an ancient civilized alien race who somehow found themselves on earth. (That first issue isn’t terribly clear on whether they close Earth as their home, or whether it was a magical appearance, or what.) Anyway, these descendants are in constant in fear of destruction from the evil humans.

I’m sure some of this will become clearer as I read more, since there is a handy ElfQuest Timeline, and those first issues are somewhere in the middle of it. Enjoy!

Tech Jacket, written by Robert Kirkman

July 28th, 2008 by Martin

When I found this entire series (issues 1-6) packaged together (and on sale) at Dreamhaven, I was intrigued enough by the cool robotech style artwork to give a second look. And in that second look I saw something that made this an immediate must-have for me: Robert Kirkman’s writing credit. Those of you who have listened to the podcast know that Florence and I recently saw Kirkman hold court at his very own panel at Wizard World in Chicago, and were immediately enamored enough to want to buy everything he’s ever written.

Well, as much as I love Battle Pope (which came out by Kirkman at least two years before Tech Jacket), the writing in Tech Jacket feels a bit amateurish in comparison. I can only explain it by assuming that this was written for a much younger audience, because Invincible started coming out around the same time as this (a few months later), and Invincible is totally awesome right from the beginning.

As Kirkman is aware (he sort of apologizes for this in one of the letter columns), Tech Jacket shares a lot in common with Invincible. They are both about teenagers who come into great power. They both prominently feature aliens. However, Invincible is still around, and Tech Jacket appears to have been canceled after only six issues. The series seems to “tie up” many loose ends in that final sixth issue, and apparently in the TPB, Kirkman says he chose to tie everything up quickly because sales were declining. Yet in the letter column of the sixth issue, Kirkman refers to the seventh issue, and there is even a preview of the seventh issue’s cover! I don’t know how to explain this, I’m just pointing it out.

E.J. Su’s art in this really shines when there are sprawling space battles. The rest of the art is okay too, but the space scenes, and in particular the level of detail given to the tech jacket itself and to the space ships is really impressive. As you can see from the first and sixth covers posted here, his art really seems to have progressed, or more likely, he just got more comfortable drawing the tech jacket over time.

All in all, this was only moderately satisfying, but well worth a read for those of us obsessed with Kirkman, or for anyone who loves a good space battle.

Spiderman: Reign

July 27th, 2008 by Susie

I have been meaning to talk about about this one for a while.  I picked it up at a $5 trades table at Wizard World.  I recognized it a s something I had been intrigued by when it first came out, but not enough to buy. I did not quite remember what is was about.  Looking it over I surmised that it was the Dark Wallcrawler Returns.  After reading it, I was not wrong.  It has an awful lot in common with Frank Miller’s classic Batman tale.  It takes place in a dark possible future where an aged and haunted Spiderman returns from a long absence.  It even features a spunky young girl leading an army of children.  The scratchy art, and color pallet is similar as well.  However all that does is for me is to underscore some fundamental differences between the characters.  Even a scarred and suicidal  Peter parker is saner than Batman.  Because in the suit or out Peter is always Peter.  Where as Batman is always Batman.  Not that I believe Bruce Wayne no longer exists inside the Bat, he just is deeply buried.  Peter is just under the mask, and he is always aware of how crazy his dual identity can be.  Perspective is not Batman’s strong suit.  This story is not as original as the Dark Knight Returns was, but is still a well told Spiderman story.  And certainly worth the five bucks.

Astro City: The Dark Age, Book Two (issues 1-4)

July 27th, 2008 by Martin

Astro City holds a lot of responsibility for my getting “into” comics. That having been said, The Dark Age has not really been my favorite plot line. There are certainly aspects of it that I’ve enjoyed, but the two brothers, the main lenses through which we are viewing Astro City this time around, they are not really protagonists. They are not really characters that I can empathize with. They have less of the “every day people” quality than many of the other Astro City main characters have had.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still quite enjoying the story, and it doesn’t even feel like I’m slogging through this, it’s just that I sort of wish Busiek would focus his efforts a bit differently. He’s made it clear (in the letters columns) that there are two more Dark Age books still to come out. Probably with one-off issues to be released between them. He also plugs the Astro City website (which is probably not so new anymore), but which does seem to have all kinds of interesting stuff on it.

Astro City is still one of my favorite comics. But if you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you start at the beginning. There is a lot of Astro City to love.

Sky-Doll, #1-3

July 26th, 2008 by Martin

Sky-Doll issue #3 hit the shelves sometime in the last couple of weeks, (update: it’s now available as a Trade Paperback.) and I finally got around to reading the entire series. For those not familiar, this is a reprint of a french comic from 2003, translated and put out as part of a joint venture between Marvel and Soleil, a french publisher. It’s about a couple of space-faring “emissaries” who take on a stow-away female android who is more than she at first appears. The government they represent is a sort of tyrannical matriarchy, whose slutty female dictator/queen/goddess took over by ousting her sister and co-leader, who still has legions of ardent followers. It’s all pretty silly, but was surprisingly not annoying to me. (I usually can’t often stand stories with religious themes.)

I probably can’t say much that hasn’t already been said about this. A couple of observations I had: I probably liked this more than I would have otherwise due to the relatively “adult” art and themes. Marvel’s cover of issue #3 (the image in this post) “airbrushes” out the nipples on the android lead. (You can see the original without too much trouble by searching over at the comic book db.) The art really is amazing, and more of his sexy art can be found on Alessandro Barbucci’s blog, which is maybe a third or fourth in english. While we’re on the subject of blogs you can’t read, there are other interesting tidbits to be found on Barbara Canepa’s blog, the author of the series. She does post (rarely) in english, but as I said, there are visual tidbits to be found as well.

Sky-Doll really left me wanting more. I can’t help but wonder when the rest of the series will be translated into English, and maybe what I can do to speed along that process.

Young Avengers: Sidekicks [TPB]

July 25th, 2008 by Stephanie


Young Avengers: Sidekicks by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung.

I wasn’t a reader of the Avengers, but I understand the basic makeup of their team– Iron Man, Thor, Captain America… So when, in Young Avengers, we meet a groups of teens who seemingly model themselves after the Avengers, well, it’s hard not to see it as a combination wish-fulfillment fantasy for a bunch of fanboys and a nod to the Golden Age while forging a new story.

Maybe it’s because I’m reading too many of similar-themed comics at the same time, but Young Avengers isn’t doing it for me. I suspect that’s because, frankly, I have no reason to care about the young superheroes, or the Avengers with whom they interact almost constantly from page 2 onward. Perhaps I wouldn’t feel that way if I were already an Avengers fangirl, but, well, I’m not.

Even with the introduction of smart, sassy, capable superheroines, I still can’t bring myself to think “yeah, these guys resonate!” They’ve laid down a mystery to solve, but even over the course of the trade volume, the mystery doesn’t grab my attention and make me want to follow up.

When put beside Runaways, there’s really no comparison, which is why I can’t imagine that the crossover could be any good. I may pick it up just to see, but it would be like slowing down on a country road to watch a train wreck.

ReadComics Podcast #012

July 24th, 2008 by Martin

We’re back! We wrangled Jason, Mike, Marty and Florence back into Marty and Florence’s dining room for podcast number twelve, in which we talk about: Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, musicals in general, comic book musicals, Batman, Ultimate Comics, What if..?, Superman: Red Son, Ant Man’s Big Christmas, Lobo/Authority: Holiday Hell, The Underburbs, Hereville, Castle Waiting: The Curse of the Brambly Hedge, Warren Ellis, Black Summer, Valerian, Soleil, Sky-Doll, Watchmen Motion Comics, the Watchmen movie preview, The Spirit movie preview, Neuromancer, Snow Crash, and comic adaptations versus movie adaptations versus any other sort of adaptation ever made.

Listen to Podcast Episode #012 (34 MB, 73 minutes)

Black Summer, Issues 0-7

July 24th, 2008 by Martin

Well, the new Black Summer came out today, and it’s time I finally wrote some kind of review about the series.

When I first read issue #0, it really floored me. I’d never been that surprised and excited about a comic, I don’t think. At least, not right off the bat. What happens in that first issue is something I consider to be the stuff of legend. Honestly, I have no idea if other comic books have done it before. Hell, maybe it’s commonplace for comics to be this anti-government, but this was the first I’d seen of it. Anyway, as you can probably see from the Issue 0 wrap-around cover shown here, in that first issue, we see the President of the United States of America, killed by a superhero.

And at first, the premise alone was enough to get me to read the comic. But, as the story wore on, honestly, I started to lose interest. Yes, it’s still good, but in comparison with that one first deliberate act of insane marketing prowess, the rest of the comic honestly just fails to live up to it for me. And that was never more true for me than in this final issue.

Read on for continued discussion of Black Summer, including spoilers. (more…)

The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, Vol 1 & 2

July 23rd, 2008 by Martin

I really thought I was going to think this was just stupid. I’m one of those people who laughed once at real ultimate power, but then deemed it ridiculous and stupid. Similarly, I have never even watched a single episode of ask a ninja. But while, ok, yes Dr. McNinja started out as a webcomic, and the author Chris Hasting does admit to having started drawing Dr. McNinja over in the forums at Something Awful, Dr. McNinja actually transcends all of that internet idiocy. It’s actually quite funny, and while not drawn in a style that’s going to win any awards, the art doesn’t detract from the main focus of the comic, which I would consider to be hilariously situational. I might have a hard time arguing you’ll like it even if you’ve never watched a kung fu movie in your life, and honestly it’s probably not as enjoyable if you don’t enjoy a mindless action movie now and then, but there is a lot more than sophomoric humor here!

For instance, one of the main stories in this first TPB is about Dr. McNinja returning home (to the cave he was raised in) where his family of ninjas are all a bit disappointed that he’s a doctor. His mother leaves him pamphlets for what she considers to be more acceptable jobs where he can see them. Oh, my retelling really isn’t doing the story justice. Just go over and read the page I’m talking about. Then, after you’ve chuckled a bit, go back to the archive, and start reading at the beginning, with Dr. McNinja Vs. McDonalds, (which didn’t even appear in that first TPB, perhaps due to fear of legal repercussion).

It’s really funny stuff, and you can tell that a lot of thought went into these comics. I actually poured through the second TPB, Surgical Strike yesterday on a break at work, so I can attest that they’re fast and compelling reading material. Plus, who wouldn’t enjoy a story about banditos who ride velociraptors chasing after a guy they know only from a photo of his abdomen posted to myspace? C’mon, seriously.

Superman: Red Son

July 22nd, 2008 by Martin

Originally a three-issue miniseries, this TPB was a bit more dark and foreboding than what I normally think of as a Superman comic.

The premise is simple: let’s assume Superman’s cradle/spaceship landed in Russia rather than the U.S.A., and that he was raised on a Russian farming commune. The concept that he would also embrace and adopt the principals of communism is not terribly difficult to accept. After all, it doesn’t seem like that far a leap from saving humanity to giving everyone basic human needs and treating everyone as equals. But, like communism, the implementation doesn’t quite match up with the theory, and in the end of this book, Superman’s ideals are twisted and corrupted.

Read on for more analysis and discussion, along with some pretty major spoilers. (more…)

BlankIt Webcomic

July 22nd, 2008 by Martin

A guy I knew in grade school (and high school, I suppose) has started a new webcomic called BlankIt. I knew him as Lem Pew, but he’s going by Lemmo now, and he’s joined up with Aric McKeown to update this new venture twice a week.

I think the comic’s two characters (the first comic, pictured above, is the only one with just one) are based on the two creators/artists. So far not much has happened, but I’ll definitely be watching to see where they take it.

Bomb Queen: The Divine Comedy #3 & TPB #1

July 21st, 2008 by Martin

I picked up the new Bomb Queen (issue #3 of 6) last week, having been pretty well sucked in by the first two issues in the recent series, and I have to admit that I am sort of grudgingly liking it for reasons other than the T&A, (which is certainly present, and more realistically why I like it). Normally I don’t really enjoy when the bad guys are the focus of a story, but for some reason when you dress that bad guy up in next to nothing and make sure it gets ripped off of her every once in a while… well, lets just say it changes the tone quite a bit.

Bomb Queen is essentially a really hot female super-villian who runs her own town somewhere in middle america. Apparently the authorities (ie, federal and state government) are willing to let this one town be governed by a supervillian because… it’s good for profits or something. Essentially Bomb Queen has a puppet Mayor who does whatever she asks, and she creates zones of the city that are lawless, and where the police can’t actually charge you for committing a crime. It sounds horrific, and honestly is even more horrific in the comic (rape and pedophilia are both referenced relatively frequently, if not, thankfully, shown), but it’s all done in a relatively humorous style that glosses over the horror and focuses on the hyper-sexualized Bomb Queen herself.

To be honest, Bomb Queen is a completely guilty pleasure. So much so that I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I picked up the first four TPBs of Bomb Queen at Wizard World a few weekends ago. So after reading the latest individual issue, I went ahead and read the first TPB, Bomb Queen: Woman of Mass Destruction. In it, we are introduced to Bomb Queen, given a bit of back story, and then we get to the guts of the story where her reign is being threatened by a politician running for mayor against her puppet the incumbent. The whole thing is pretty ridiculous, and pretty much neither more or less than exactly what I expected. The TPB has some fun extras at the end of the book, including a B&W comic that all takes place from Bomb Queen’s cat’s perspective called Ashe’s Day Out.

Sidebar Love

July 20th, 2008 by Martin

Three changes to the sidebar today:

  1. The latest podcast title is now displayed, with a link to the podcast category archive.
  2. The latest book club data book/time is now displayed — This uses the excerpt, so when you’re creating a new Book Club entry, you’ll want to keep that in mind.
  3. We now list all our authors, with links to the author archives for each person.

Have any thoughts or suggestions about our sidebar? Leave a comment!

Comic Book Script Archive

July 20th, 2008 by Martin

I went googling a few comic book scripts (more to see how they’re formatted than for any other reason), and found this interesting site: The Comic Book Script Archive. There’s no real design to speak of (it’s all created with Google Pages), and most of the links are to external sites that host the scripts, but I think this site is a worthy addition to our sidebar, of interest to burgeoning comic book writers and artists alike.

Comic Book Book Club #2 – Omega the Unknown

July 20th, 2008 by Martin

The next Comic Book Book Club will be held Thursday, August 14th, at 7:30 pm. We’ll be discussing Omega the Unknown, the entire new series written by Sci-fi author Jonathan Lethem (Issues 1-10). You get extra credit for reading the original series from 1976, written by Steve Gerber. (Also 10 issues, but it’s been reprinted in a recent TPB.)

Right now we’re thinking we’ll probably just meet at Florence and Marty’s apartment, so please leave a comment if you’re a lurker planning on attending, and we might move to a more neutral location. Of course, the Book Club will be podcasted for posterity.

Wizard World Chicago photos

July 19th, 2008 by Martin

Comic Book PodcastersWe’ve talked a bit about Wizard World on the podcast, and I’ve mentioned it some in the various blog entries since then, but I wanted to just post this photo of us with some of the other Comic Book podcasters we met in Chicago.

From left to right this is Florence, Myself (Marty), Sean Whelan (from Raging Bullets), Chris Neseman (from Around Comics), Jim Segulin (also from Raging Bullets), Matt Kramer’s wife, Matt Kramer (from Shade’s Journal), Mike, Jason (poking his head up over Mike’s shoulder), and Susie.

There are some other photos from the trip posted on flickr.

Cthulhu Tales 2

July 19th, 2008 by Stephanie

cthulhutales.jpgCthulhu Tales is exactly what fans of the Old Ones can expect from a comic dedicated to the Lovecraft mythos. It’s dark, creepy, a little funny, and it offers only glimpses into the eldritch horrors.

Cthulhu Tales 2 is told in three storylines, each written and drawn by different creators. “The Hiding Place,” by Steve Niles and Shane Oakly is the dark “reveal” story, culminating years of detective work, trying to prove that the mysterious Solomon King had, in fact, been a serial killer. The art is stark, almost noir, and is inked in black and white with only a yellow wash for highlighting, giving it that a very retro feel.

“Katrina,” written by Eric Calderon and drawn by Jon Schnepp, is a short bit with a post-Katrina cleanup crew of prison labor. One of the laborers finds a hand-written journal from the storm and reads it. As all lovers of Cthulhu tales know, one should never read mysterious hand-written journals. Ever.

The issue ends with “How to Get Ahead in the Occult,” by Christine Boylan, art by Chee. Here we have a wonderful college dorm room situation with a budding witch and her poetry-major roommate. This sweet coming of age story has it all– drunken frat parties, angst over growing up, jealousy, and of course Elder Gods from the Deep.

I can’t say unequivocally that I’ll pick up issue 1 or any future issues. I like the Cthulhu stories, but I can only take so many of them before my brain starts leaking out of my ears (and I start locking all the doors and windows in a futile attempt at escaping the horror…. oh, the horror! ahem). And one thing that always bugs me about Cthulhu: you don’t get the continuity of characters to bond with (unless you find protagonist sympathy with scaly monsters bent on eating the world). But I will say this was a great example of “hit ’em hard, hit ’em fast.” Each short story is about 8 pages long, so they get to the point, hit you with the punch, and get out of there like a band of mugging swamp things.

Omega: The Unknown

July 18th, 2008 by Stephanie

OmegaUnknown2.jpgI went into the local comic book shop in Norwood, Massachusetts and said “teenaged superheroes.” After shoving copies of Runaways and a few other interesting series in my hands, one of the customers there suggested Omega: the Unknown by Jonathan Lethem, with art by Farel Dalrymple. I’m coming in at the second issue (2 of 10), so I feel a little bit like I’ve missed some Very Important Stuff (involving robots, trauma, and a hospital bed), but I caught the gist of it about halfway through.

This poor geeky kid Alex, with the burns on his hands and the trauma in his face is having his whole life tossed upside down. Robots fight in the street outside his new home, and there’s this weird dressed-in-cape “blue guy” who keeps hovering nearby (and getting the snot kicked out of him, I might add).

Meanwhile, the local superhero legend The Mink is so full of his own celebrity, it’s impossible not to detest him a little. As soon as he starts pounding on mute guy, of course, we really hate him.

Our mute hero (who may or may not be Omega– it’s unknown!) reminds me of a borderline autistic adult. In addition to the muteness, he seems overall not to connect with other people, and he behaves in those strange ways that I recognize in folks in the spectrum. And yet, he does not seem to be a robot– after all, there are robots in this episode, and he’s not like them. He’s drawn intelligently– there’s no doubt he can put up a fight, but he is helpless in the realm of interacting with people. I like my comics to teach me something about being human, and this hero does that by the nature of his outsidedness.

In summary: robots. Autistic superheroes. Jerks we can’t stand. A very confused and traumatized teen. I realize the series is over (ha! I don’t have to wait!) and will be collected and published this October. I think I’ll go along for that ride.

Captain Hammer: Be Like Me!

July 17th, 2008 by Martin

If you’re not already watching Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, then get your butt on over there, and check it out. Acts I and II are already available, and Act III is set to be released on Saturday. Susie posted about Dr. Horrible quite a while ago, but now it’s finally here, and by all reports it’s AWESOME.

It was so great, in fact, that the site went down due to high traffic the first night, and they had to switch servers to get it back up and running.

Anyway, Captain Hammer, who is Dr. Horrible’s arch nemesis, (played by Nathan Fillion of Firefly fame) has his own comic, which you can read on Dark Horse’s myspace page. It’s pretty awesome, and I actually really dig the art, drawn by Eric Canete, which is almost crayon-like at times.

You can also buy some Dr. Horrible swag, but the Captain Hammer shirts aren’t nearly as cool as the style he wears in the comic. (I’d totally buy a shirt if it looked more like the comic.)

Dreamhaven Books Relocating

July 15th, 2008 by Martin

Dreamhaven Books has been one of the staples of the twin cities comic book (and sci-fi fandom) scene(s) for as long as I can remember. They have had a shop in Uptown (prime retail real estate) for a long time, and I never go into that shop without finding something new and interesting. Anyway, they are moving their location and it sounds like scaling back their operation quite a bit. From the website:

Saturday, August 30th
Grand opening at 2301 East 38th Street.

The new store is somewhat smaller than the current store. Greg is planning to run it as a one-man operation. It will be open Tuesday through Saturday, noon-7pm.

In the mean time, they are also having a sale:

  • Used hardcovers 50% off the marked price
  • Used trade paperbacks 50% off the marked price
  • Bagged collectible used paperbacks 50% off the marked price
  • Regular used paperbacks 75% off the cover price, 75-cent minimum
  • Bargain comics – thousands of titles, new titles added weekly 5/$1.00
  • Bagged and boarded back-issue comics 50% off the marked price
  • Comic book package deals 50% off the marked price
  • All regular-priced manga books 50% off the cover price
  • All sale-priced manga books now just $2.00

Mike and I went down there today, and the sale seems pretty low key, but there are definitely deals to be had, and I’ll be going back to pour through all the unsorted old comics sometime in the near future.

Garfield Minus Garfield

July 14th, 2008 by Martin

Without Garfield, Jon Arbuckle is a sad, sad man. And surprisingly, Garfield Minus Garfield takes on an entirely new and powerful poignancy. From the site:

Who would have guessed that when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life? Friends, meet Jon Arbuckle. Let’s laugh and learn with him on a journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness in a quiet American suburb.

The comic was called “an inspired thing to do” by original Garfield creator Jim Davis in an interview with the Washington Post. Enjoy.

Hellboy 2 (I apologize for all the run on sentences)

July 13th, 2008 by Susie

I just got back from seeing Hellboy: the Golden Army.  I had been planning to see it because I had liked (but not loved) the first one and because director Gulliermo Del Toro had truly impressed me with Pan’s Labyrinth.  But of the summer movies I had put on my to see list (such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Iron Man, Wall-E, Hancock, and Dark Knight) I was not anticipating it the way I was some of the others.  Which is why I was so pleasantly surprised to have loved it.  I mean really loved it!  I mean gasping with shock, laughing hysterically, wishing for a pause button to get a look at all the cool creatures stuffed in a scene, and bouncing giddily waiting for whatever it threw at me, loved it!  It was so geared to my sensibilities, reminding me at times of Star Wars, the Princess Bride, the Muppets, Crouching Tiger, LOTR; that I don’t know if people who don’t share my tastes would love it as much.  In fact of the thirty or so other people in the theater only a man a few seats away from me (who happened to have a fidgety, but enthusiastic, six year old with him) was not just the only one laughing and ooing at the same places I was, but also the only one displaying any kind of reaction at all.  Perhaps it was just a subdued crowd, I certainly did not hear any one complaining or dissing the film on the way out, but nobody was praising it either.  I am sure it will not beat Hancock at the box office, which is sad in it’s own right because it is a far superior film.  I think it is more sad that most six year olds will be seeing Wall-E (which I did think was excellent) for the second or third time instead of Hellboy 2.  Because it was seeing similar movies at that tender age that had me grow up to be the kind of person who loves them at this  advanced and tender age.  I definitely recommend it, if only to gage what people who are not me thought of it.  Also I now am very glad that Del Toro has signed on to direct the Hobbit.  I am only sorry that Peter Jackson’s team did such a good job of establishing the look of Middle Earth, because I would have loved to see what Del Toro would have come up with from scratch.

Global Frequency, Vol. 1 & 2

July 12th, 2008 by Martin

A couple of observations: 1) These felt like multiple stories, rather than one cohesive thing, and 2) I liked the first TPB much better than the second. I think there were just more interesting ideas in it. Don’t get me wrong, they were both good, just the second not as much. I’ll admit that story where Miranda Zero gets abducted had me pretty tense though.

Basically, the Global Frequency is a benevolent organization that is called upon when circumstances are particularly dire. There are 1001 members located throughout the world, and they are called upon when their specialized talents are needed. Most of the members we see are special ops type people. People who kick ass in a special way. Anyway, there are some really interesting things that happen here, but again, no real plot to speak of.

Wonder Woman by Gail Simone

July 10th, 2008 by florence

I missed my chance to get her to sign anything for me, but I did catch a couple of starry-eyed glimpses of Gail Simone at Wizard World. I have genuinely enjoyed her writing in Birds of Prey, Secret Six, and most of all in Welcome to Tranquility, but I have to admit that my enthusiasm is even greater because she is a girl. I love that she is a force to be reckoned with in such a boy-centric industry, and the fact that she was articulate and charming on a Wonder Woman panel clinched my admiration.

I have never read Wonder Woman before, although (brace yourselves), I actually was Wonder Woman when I was ages 6-8. I had the underoos, and I could spin like nobody’s business. Needless to say, I was awesome. I could whip those powers back out anytime I want, I just choose to live the lazy life of an engineer. For now.

I have fond memories of the tv show, I love the character, but I’ve always been afraid to look at what the myriad of past writers and artists have done to her over the years. Since I heard that Gail was taking over the title this year, my interest has been peaked, but these quotes from the panel clinched it for me:

“Now [that Gail is writing it] I can show Wonder Woman to my 10 year old daughter.”- guy on panel

“When I was growing up, I thought the fairy tales I was told were bullshit. Then I discovered Wonder Woman; now there was a princess I could get behind.”- Gail Simone

That’s my princess, I recognized her when Gail spoke. She is tall and booby and gorgeous, yes, but she is also a warrior. Her rules are different than ours, she lives in truth and honor but she takes fighting very seriously, and she is good at it. After the panel, I scoured the many many booths and only found one with Gail’s WW issues on sale, which filled my head with rants about the zillions of crap titles everywhere and no respect for women customers, but they did have plenty of Buffy and Fables issues on display, so… I don’t know. The panel also made it sound like a low seller, despite the huge brand recognition.

When I got home, I devoured the comics I had found (issues 14-20), and came across another wonderful quote; “Avoid fights when possible, but if you have to fight, fight to win.” This is a Diana who can tame genetically-modified warrior apes through a show of respect and regal authority, but who admittedly gets off on fighting. It is her thing, what she was raised for. I know that I’ve denounced graphic dumbass violence in comics before, but when she does it, I want to clap my hands with glee. Don’t get me wrong, there is way more in this arc than fighting, there is also the introduction of amazon courting rituals, which is hilarious and intriguing. When the boy in question comes out of his daze at being chosen, he manages to ask “Wait, if these are Amazon courting rituals, can they be applied to a man?” Diana replies, “We’ll have to muddle through.” Badass fighting, witty dialogue, and an allusion to ancient lesbian mating rituals all in one comic? How could I not be charmed?!

*Disclaimer- all quotes are probably wildly inaccurate.

Planetary: Trades 1-3

July 7th, 2008 by florence

While we were at Wizard World, we saw Warren Ellis speak at his ‘late night Q&A’ as the guest of honor for the convention. My first exposure to him was through the Authority years ago. I really liked it, but it wasn’t until Marty started reading his work that I began to encounter to more and more Ellis comics piling up in our household. I’ve liked some, and loathed others (Gravel just struck me as uninspired violence).

I may have heard the name before, but until Wizard hadn’t put any thought into Ellis’s Planetary book. At the Q&A, a drunken young man in the audience repeatedly begged for discussion of Planetary. He was rebuffed first by Ellis at the beginning of the evening, and then again later, when he had drunk enough whiskey to match the boy’s blood alcohol levels. I was not won over by Ellis’s persona, which was grandiose and rude in a very cultivated manner. The most amusing portions of the evening included imitations of other famous people and their craziness (name-dropping included Alan Moore, Patrick Stewart, and Tom Baker, it’s possible that only certain geeky audiences would be star-struck by this line-up, but it was hilarious). Other portions included an excruciating reading from his novel with open glee at the squirming he caused in the audience with his endless descriptions of godzilla bukake and testicles forceably engorged with salt water. I really don’t recommend indiscriminate reading of everything he puts to paper, especially since he brags that he has bullied every editor in the industry with into submission and no longer has any limits on what he wishes to publish.

On the subject of Planetary, Ellis would only say that he has written a new issue, and he expects Cassaday to create the art sometime before 2009. I think. Other than that, he said that he was totally burned out after an interview on the subject earlier that day. At the time, I couldn’t have cared less, but now that I have devoured the first 3 trade paperbacks (purchased by Marty at the convention), plus a Planetary/Authority/Trinity crossover, I have joined the ranks of fans waiting impatiently for more. There seem to be enough single issues to warrant another trade soon, but the pace has slowed, and Ellis does not have a good track record for sticking with a particular title once his initial creative outlet has been fulfilled, and he wants to continue with Cassaday, who is booked with other projects these days.

Planetary is perfect for those who love the Authority comics. It takes place in the same universe, and follows the Planetary organization, which includes long-lived super-powered people of questionable reputations and lofty goals, but this lot prefers to stay in the shadows rather than using their powers openly. The first trade was interesting, but it seemed to follow more of an episodic rhythm with stand-alone mysteries being investigated by the three Planetary field agents. The second TPB starts to thread things together, introducing a Big Bad and hinting at future answers. Then all of a sudden, a big answer is revealed and things really start moving fast. I was giddy at having so much to read at once, and so much satisfaction at the way the story progressed. I have a few more issues to look forward to (preferably after the trade comes out, if I can wait that long), but then I will be bereft and begging with Ellis’s other fans. And having met him, I expect no mercy.

ReadComics Podcast #011 – From Convergence

July 6th, 2008 by Martin

The eleventh ReadComics podcast was recorded from the consuite at Convergence science fiction convention. We had Jen with us, for the first time, along with your regular podcasters Jason, Florence and Marty.

Topics included: Convergence, Wizard World, other comic book podcasters we met at Wizard World, Planetary, Robert Kirkman, Walking Dead, Sandman, Neil Gaiman, Mark Evanier, Jason’s panel appearances at Convergence, Jen’s crafting at the Renaissance Festival, the comic book code (and David Hajdu’s appearance THIS Tuesday), Jack Kirby, Marv Wolfman, Jennie Breeden and her webcomic The Devil’s Panties.

Listen to Podcast Episode #011 (25 MB, 55 minutes)