Archive for October, 2008

Blotchmen and other Watchmen Parodies

October 29th, 2008 by Martin

I’ve been meaning to write something about a whole slew of Watchmen parodies that have started cropping up all over the net in anticipation of the movie, and seeing Kevin Cannon’s Blotchmen today reminded me of this endeavor. Blotchmen was created as part of the 24 Hour Comics Day event right here in Minneapolis. (I should have at least stopped by to check it out while it was happening. Maybe next year.) I think it’s especially cool because as well as parodying Watchmen, it also pays homage to a couple of my favorite children’s books at the same time. Just go read it!

Back when I was looking for this stuff, I discovered the official watchmen movie site hosts a feature/page they call The Gunga Diner, that looks to basically just aggregate all the Watchmen parody stuff it can find. It’s cool, but what I don’t like is that there are a lot of entries that don’t cite their sources. Maybe they just had the stuff emailed to them, but the Watchmen Peanuts sketch they host can easily be found to have originated from Evan “Doc” Shaner’s DeviantArt account. (Looks like it wasn’t a totally original idea, as Jeff Parker did something similar a while back.) Likewise the Lil’ Watchmen comic Gungan Diner hosts can be found (with quite a bit more digging necessary) over at the Silver Rage Archive/TOC.

An image that Gunga Diner doesn’t actually have listed is this awesome Jay Ward’s The Watchmen sketch by Jay Fosgitt, AKA, Four Panel Hero. (Jay Ward created Rocky and Bullwinkle.)

KO Fight Club, who I have linked to before, because it is a board gaming webcomic, has a whole page devoted to how they parody Watchmen (and another page about why).

Here’s a cool illustration of Watchmen Watches.

The Watchmen Movie site also hosts a page that links to a bunch of Watchmen fan films. I haven’t really watched them all yet, so I don’t know if that page is better about sourcing its material.

And finally, if you haven’t seen it already, the Mad Magazine folks made a seven page Watchmen Parody (PDF format) in their signature style. It was apparently distributed at San Diego Comic Con earlier this year.

ReadComics Podcast #021 – Book Club #4 – The Walking Dead, Vol. 1

October 29th, 2008 by Martin

Tonight we had Jason, Mike, Florence, Marty, and a couple of new voices: Stephanie and Konrad. We talked at unusual length about The Walking Dead. Our focus was the first TPB, (Issues #1-6), but we definitely get into details from the second TPB, and even delve a bit into what’s happening in the series now (Issues #49-53). We highly recommend reading this book before you listen to this podcast unless you don’t mind spoilers.

Listen to Podcast Episode #021 (47 MB, 102 minutes)

This Week’s Pull

October 23rd, 2008 by Martin

Florence and I have decided to do reviews of new issues from our pull list as they come out each week. Beware of spoilers, as we’ll be discussing the comics in depth. So far, as you can see, we have a fairly lame and generic title. Let us know if you have any suggestions in the comments.

This week it was just two issues, the new Echo and Invincible. Enjoy.

Echo #7

Florence: Moore’s art has really developed over the years, especially on men, since I’m more used to him drawing women. I feel like he’s doing a good job creating more than one male face. I really like his style, but he does sort of tend to have one face for all women, even though he does woman’s body shapes in more variety, which I really appreciate. I’m most intrigued by the character of Ivy Raven right now. When we were first introduced to her, she was a very sweet and loving mother, and now she’s clearly very formidable. In one panel we see her anger, and it’s scary. It shows that no matter what level of calm she exhibits, she’s dangerous. The last panel of the comic was very difficult to decipher.

Martin: I agree about the last panel being confusing. I won’t describe it for fear of giving it away, but I probably couldn’t if I wanted to, since I have no idea what happened. The old guy on the cover was the only other person at the crash site where Julie got her metal breastplate. Obviously he’s got some of whatever she has stuck to his hand. We only see him for about half a page in the whole comic, which felt weird since he was so prominently featured before we opened the book. I do feel like this was consistent with the rest of the story telling in the series, but the pace seemed to slow down quite a bit here. Not as much happens in this issue, and I guess I was a little disappointed by that.

Florence: That’s really just in contrast to the pacing he’s set already with the other issues in this title. That’s not compared to any normal comic’s pacing. This one has just started big and kept going. He’s set us up to expect that from every issue.

Martin: That’s true, but I guess I did feel like there were unnecessary scenes in this comic. If it doesn’t turn out that there’s a reason for the missing dog, then her asking about it was only to further highlight the stupid pet monkey that’s chained outside their motel room. The monkey got way more panels than necessary, IMHO.

Invincible #54

Florence: It’s your turn to go first.

Martin: Ha! I’m the one typing, and it looks like you were wrong about that prediction! Seriously, WTF? Invincible has sucked for like 4 or 5 issues now. I don’t even remember the last time it was cool. What ever happened to stuff happening in this comic?

Florence: I have detected no deterioration. I think it’s nice that he’s dating Atom Eve. I could have done without the four page spread of their relationship. It seemed to be both past and present. Like a montage.

Martin: I was going to say that, damnit. It was totally a montage! Montages are lame in all their forms. Except when used to make fun of montages, like in Team America: World Police.

Florence: Really though, if this just disappeared and I got twice as many Walking Dead issues, I’d be fine.

Martin: Totally. I never thought it would get to this point. I used to love Invincible SO MUCH. I do have hope for the future though. Maybe someday they’ll get back to the plot line with that one-eyed alien, and Invincible’s dad…

Florence: Now that I think about it, I did really like the future stuff, the stuff with Immortal. It seemed like a plausible path for him.

Martin: I guess this was sort of like a one-off book. I think Kirkman should have written it as an Invincible spin-off with a different title. Maybe another Invincible Presents Atom Eve… No, that one actually had a cool story, and stuff happened in it. Maybe it should have been called Atom Eve loves Invincible.

Final Crisis and Batman R.I.P. (and annotations)

October 22nd, 2008 by jason

I’ve finally caught up on the main Final Crisis books, which shouldn’t have been hard since there are only three out right now, as well as Batman R.I.P., which is still in progress as well. Ah, Grant Morrison. You kooky, wacky Grant Morrison. I love reading you, I really do. But man, I still think you’re leaving out some of the words. Maybe some of the word balloons. Perhaps even some panels or even pages. Grant, when you read the comic, are there extra panels in your mind that we don’t see? Do you write a page, keep a page in your head, and then write another page? I mean, I understand what’s going on–for the most part–but it just seems like the story jumps a few times. Jumps like Batman jumping from rooftop to rooftop. And sometimes those jumps are really long jumps, which Batman is able to clear a lot better than I am.

Grant Morrison gets spoken about on a lot of podcasts, he gets a lot of press, and feelings about him run pretty strong. There are videos of him, including one of him speaking at Disinfocon, available to view on YouTube. I think the man is a great writer, but I have to be honest. Sometimes I’m unsure about his “storytelling” ability. I also think there’s a bit of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” going on with him. I really do think that there are a lot of people who have a difficult time following Morrison’s writing, but are afraid of admitting it for fear that they’ll be considered dumb, or at the very least, not discerning readers. And some of his stuff is easier to follow than other things. His run on X-Men seemed a bit more straight forward. I haven’t read his Animal Man or Doom Patrol in years, but I know he got a bit out there in those titles.

For Final Crisis and Batman RIP, we now live in the age of the Internet, and fortunately we have resources. Douglas Wolk and Gary Greenwood, who both have sites up annotating Final Crisis, and Timothy Callahan, who is annotating Batman RIP, do a lot of the legwork for us. All three sites go page by page and panel by panel, noting who characters are, what their historical significance is, what their relevance is to the current plotline. Readers guides for these somewhat convoluted stories, if you will. These guys have all gone above and beyond, helping us, the gentle reader, keep from pulling our hair out trying to keep track of everything, especially through delays in releases. Maybe that’s Grant’s diabolical plan–to induce baldness among comics readers around the world, and thus make his audience over in his own image. One of these days, someone is going to collect all of these annotations together into a comprehensive tome: The Annotated Grant Morrison. It’ll be a bestseller.

Justice: Alex Ross

October 20th, 2008 by florence

I just finished reading the self-contained DC Justice series #1-12.  The entire run was co-written and drawn by Alex Ross, so the art is spectacular and the characterization is spot-on.  That’s not surprising, since I associate Ross with a consistent quality and craftsmanship that I don’t expect with most comic creators.  I really appreciate the epic feel without a cascading set of companion purchases, you can get the entire story in just 12 issues.

Justice pulls together the Justice League and many of their most familiar enemies for a story set on a grand scale.  I don’t want to spoil the premise, but one thread involves the release of Batman’s secret files on his companions and foes, several of which are revealed at the end of each issue, which is a treat.  Ross managed to showcase the complex humanity in every character (including the aliens and talking gorillas), never succumbing to the bla impersonal action blowouts that can easily overwhelm some comics.  There are big action blowouts, but by using the first-person voices of several characters in turn, we’re still able to see the personal aspect of the biggest battles.

It’s tough to convey the fact that this is also full of very funny moments, grounded in iconic characters we know well.  I can’t be the only one to crack up at a well-placed Batman glare.

Understanding Comics and Superheroes: Delineated

October 19th, 2008 by Stephanie

UnderstandingComics.jpgI recently read Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, which is a meaty book in graphical layout, about the history of comic books (or, perhaps, of graphical storytelling), and some of the fundamental theories surrounding art+words=story. McCloud breaks down graphic storytelling, giving a solid foundation for understanding the artistic theories as well as the underpinnings of composition.

What he doesn’t do as well in this book is discuss the story part of the comic book, the development of story arcs, and how words play a role in the telling of a comic book story. This is because, by McCloud’s own admission, a comic book needs to be sequential, but it doesn’t need to have words to tell its story.

As a writer, I would challenge that, but I know my challenge would be hollow. In the right artist’s hands, your script doesn’t need words– the art acts as the words (my own artist sends me the un-lettered version of each page, and I can always see the story, even without the words). But, also as a writer, I know that the story still exists in word, even if it’s not expressed that way in the artwork.

As a reader of comics, I find myself focusing on the words, not the pictures, for the story. I often wonder if that’s a function of not being a very practiced comic book reader (it took me a few months to get the hang of listening to audiobooks, too), or if it’s because I’m a verbal learner, rather than visual. Or if I’m just not attentive enough to the graphic novel, and need to slow down, take my time, to savor the story.

Meanwhile, over at Fractal Hall, they’re posting a meta-analysis of some of the great icons of comic book superheroes, tagging them “delineated.” So far, they’ve delineated Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, and The Flash, with great insight and introspection.

Achewood: The Great Outdoor Fight

October 16th, 2008 by Martin

I’ll admit to having read and dismissed Achewood in the past. As webcomics go, it felt a bit too much like one of those continuing comics where you have to know the characters and have a sense of the whole story in order to “get” what’s happening in the comics. It turns out, that seems to be mostly just Chris Onstad‘s wry and absurdest sense of humor at play. When Sharyn asked if I wanted to read The Great Outdoor Fight, I remembered basically nothing about Achewood, and thought, sure I’ll give it a shot.

I’ll also admit that before I read this, but after I read the two mock non-fiction introductions about the history of The Great Outdoor Fight, I didn’t honestly know whether the event was real or not. Yes, I had to google for it. Then, I wikipedia’d for it. The answer: No. It is not a real fight. It is just a funny premise for this comic.

This physical collection is supposed to contain some material not found on the website, including the two aforementioned introductions, and some stuff in the back of the book, like a page of recipes, some fighter/character biographies, and some blog posts written by one of the characters in the comic. If I were an Achewood fan, I would be really happy to own this collection.

Even admitting that I’m not really all that much of a fan, I still enjoyed this book more than I expected to, and would probably recommend it to anyone who wants to read a silly story about a giant brawl that takes place annually over the course of three days.

Presidential Material: Barack Obama & John McCain

October 15th, 2008 by florence

This comic caught my eye this week, since I am a huge Obama fan.  I grabbed it on impulse, and only after staying at the store and waiting for Marty and Mike to finish their browsing, did I pick up the companion issue about John McCain.  Both comics seem intended to tell snippets of the life story and key political turning points of the two most prominent 2008 presidential candidates.  Like me, the creators of these comics seemed to be enamored with Obama, focusing on his childhood in Hawaii, the struggles that his mother and grandmother faced with limited incomes, his strong potential in school, and his connection to outsiders like “the Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk-rock performance artists” in college.  I nearly swooned at the idea of my president being influenced by structural feminists.  His introduction to his wife as a respected professional colleague who had grown up on Chicago’s South Side was really sweet.  They both come off as fiercely intelligent and committed to social activism, which again made me want to squee.  On the whole, I came away knowing a little bit more about Obama’s personal past, but mainly just reinforcing the positive views I already held, which was fine by me.

McCain’s comic was piled up at the comic shop, seemingly untouched.  His cover is a little bit more unsettling, and the content included both a respectful account of his wartime experience and his association with past scandals.  There was a lot in here that I didn’t know about McCain’s history, which probably reflects more on my lack of interest than on any deep reporting conducted by the writers.  There are references in the back of the comic to biographical sources, but they are very vague and could not be used to substantiate any of the details.  To me, this comic tells the story of a man who has lived a long and varied life, who has a hot temper, who has been implicated in scandal (he cheated on his first wife, and had close ties to one of the famed Savings & Loan architects as a senator back in the 80’s).  One of the other tidbits that stuck in my brain is that his great-grandfather was a slave owner who died fighting for the South in the Civil War.  I know that it’s not fair to hold that against his descendant, and we’ve had many southern presidents whose family history I have not questioned.  The comic also details several of the principled stands that McCain took during the 2000 presidential primary that he has since contradicted. This includes his opposition to tax cuts aimed at the very wealthy, campaigning with Jerry Fallwell (whom he had earlier termed as an “agent of intolerance”), and his earlier abhorrence of dirty campaigning.  I came away from this comic with a slightly dimmer, but more nuanced, view of John McCain as a person, which reinforced my desire to see him far from the highest office in the land.

I found these interesting, but not scholarly or impartial, nor likely to change anyone’s existing political convictions.

ReadComics Podcast #020 – Interview with Thom Zahler

October 14th, 2008 by Martin

Tonight we had the immense pleasure of interviewing Thom Zahler, writer artist and creator of Love and Capes. He’s the self-professed “hardest working creator you’ve never heard of”. (It does sound like he works pretty hard. He was still the acting Mayor of his town for the duration of our interview.)

We had a lot of fun talking with him about his extensive experience in the comic book industry, as well as his opinions about everything ranging from sitcoms to the state of comics today. We talked about his inspirations and aspirations for the future. We even got him to sing a little for us.

Listen to Podcast Episode #020 (26.1 MB, 57 minutes)

Comixtravaganza, part of Teen Read Week

October 14th, 2008 by Martin

It’s going to be all day comics at the St. Paul Central library this Friday, an event they’re calling Comixtravaganza. I don’t really know who organized this, but there’s going to be a whole bunch of local creators in attendance. And free food!

Here’s the schedule and location (as reported in an email from The Source):

4th floor meeting room
90 4th Street West
St. Paul, MN. 55102


  • 11:00AM – 12:00PM: Comix Panel featuring:
    • Marcus Almand
    • Becky Grutzik
    • Melissa S. Kaercher
    • Ryan Kelly
    • Aric McKeown & Lem Pew
    • Michael May
    • Shawn Van Briesen
  • 12:30PM – 1:30PM: How to Draw Manga Class
  • 2:00PM – 4:30PM: Watch a New Anime Film with the 3 P’s (pocky, pizza, & pop)

Free StarWars comics on

October 11th, 2008 by Martin

A co-worker sent me this link to a Star Wars: The Clone Wars comic in something called the Star Wars Online Reader. There are three parts to it, each one meant to segue between one of the three Clone Wars TV episodes that have been released so far, and that you can also watch on I’m assuming they’ll also be adding a new comic each week as a new TV episode comes out. Each episode also has a viewing guide (with detailed synopses), and some of them have commentary.

I didn’t actually go see the Clone Wars movie, but some of this stuff is pretty good, and I might have to watch it now.

Bonus link: has some weird stuff. Here’s an article on how to make star wars themed cat toys.

8th Annual Twin Cities Book Festival

October 9th, 2008 by sharyn

Rain Taxi returns with their annual book festival this Saturday, October 11th, at the Minneapolis Community and Technical College campus. With it they’re bringing Love and Rockets co-creator Jaime Hernandez, along with local cartoonist Zak Sally (Sammy the Mouse). They’ll be speaking at 1pm in the Spruce Room.

Co-sponsored by the Comic Art Program at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Also? Check out this Love and Rockets inspired tattoo.

Kingwood Himself

October 8th, 2008 by jason

Kingwood Himself, by Reynold Kissling

Delightfully twisted, this comic reminded me a lot of the more surreal cartoons and kid shows I watched growing up.  The main character, Emily, is very reminiscent of Little Lulu, going on trips to cities in the clouds  and undersea kingdoms.  There’s also a touch of Krofft thrown in, as I expect HR Pufnstuf to come around the corner with Jimmy and his Golden Flute in tow.

I love the solidity of the art, the characters looking like you could reach in and pick them up by their round heads.  The detail and design in the cul-de-sac, and of the various houses makes me want to try to find my way there; it could be in the wooded grove just a block over it seems like.  Guudo’s room is like the fantasies you have of shrinking down and swimming in the fishtank, with the miniature castle and diver for company.

Reynold put this together as a nice looking comic as well.  The front and back cover feature full-page color images from what look like Emily’s continuing visits to the cul-de-sac, and the inside-cover features thumbnail drawings of several of the characters.  There’s a nice little Easter Egg when you go to his website and view Kingwood Himself online:  the cover image extends further then in the hard copy.  While you’re there, check out the rest of his comics.  I particularly like Commute.

More Political Comics – Steal Back Your Vote!

October 7th, 2008 by Martin

Another political comic book is getting distributed, this one called Steal Back Your Vote!, and you can download it after you donate something via paypal (as little as a dollar). The art is by Lukas Ketner, (who also does this Witch Doctor comic), and Lloyd Dangle, (who has a pretty political comic called Troubletown).

There’s actually a lot more text inside than there is comic book, but you can see a couple of example pages on flickr: Vote Theft for Idiots: Lesson 1 and Lesson 2.

Completely coincidentally, I have been meaning to post a link to The Pain–When will it end?, which is the site for the (mostly political) cartoons of Tim Kreider. It appears to be updated more or less weekly, and the archives are very definitely worth a look. If I had a complaint though, the images are pretty damn large, and scrolling is not really an option so much as an obligation. Good stuff though.

Neil Gaiman’s Graveyard Book US Tour

October 6th, 2008 by sharyn

The Twin Cities stop of his tour is:

Wednesday, October 8th at 7:00pm
At Saint Paul’s United Church of Christ
900 Summit Avenue
St Paul, MN 55105

Hosted by Red Balloon.

This venue seats 1100, and is home to the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Event is free and open to the public, no tickets needed.

reading Neil Gaiman's latest

ReadComics Podcast #019 – Fallcon 2008

October 6th, 2008 by Martin

Florence interviews Marty and Jason who talk about their trip to Fallcon in Saint Paul, MN. (They didn’t have to go far.) Mostly we discuss who we met and talked to, but we also talked about what we bought, including New Warriors, Marvel Civil War, Don Rosa, Metal Men, Machine Man, Straczynski’s run of Dr. Strange, Wormwood, Frank Miller’s Give Me Liberty, and Blackgas written by Warren Ellis. Jason has his picture taken with an Aquaman impersonator. We also talked briefly about books in our pull this week, including No Hero and Top 10 Season Two. Get it while it’s hot.

Listen to Podcast Episode #019 (23 MB, 51 minutes)

ReadComics Book Club: The Walking Dead Vol. 1

October 5th, 2008 by florence

On Tuesday, October 21st, at 7PM CST at Florence & Marty’s apartment, we are holding our next ReadComics book club.  This month we will be discussing the first trade paperback of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, “Days Gone Bye”, which collects issues #1-6.

Warning: This is a scary and explicit zombie story, and this volume is just the beginning of a very long story, so you shouldn’t expect a tidy ending. It has gotten great reviews for writing, and has already sucked me in thoroughly.  I’m looking forward to a lively discussion with our crew of Kirkman fans and anti-zombie spokespeople.

In a slight change of plans, we’re putting off our Buffy Season 8 #12-19 ReadComics book club selection until November, in hopes that we can include Susie’s expertise and that Joss actually puts out issue #19 someday.

UPDATE: Florence is sickly, so we’re going to try and postpone this just one week to the 28th. Hope everyone can still make it!

Fallcon Reminder

October 2nd, 2008 by Martin

Don’t forget that Fallcon is this Saturday and Sunday.

There are going to be over 200 artists in attendance this time around. It’s FallCon’s 20th anniversary, and they’ve moved into the grandstand on the state fair grounds.

Those who arrive early will have a chance to get one of these limited edition sketch cards. Other highlights include panels pretty much all day both days, a wedding on Saturday, a free HeroClicks tournament, door prizes, and much, much more!

The fallcon myspace page has some additional information for those who want to know more.

October 4 & 5, 2008 – 10AM to 5PM Both Days!
Minnesota State Fairgrounds – In the Grandstand!
1265 Snelling Avenue – Saint Paul, MN 55108
20th ANNIVERSARY 1989-2008

Admission is just $11.00 per adult. Good for both days! Children 9 & under are FREE!
Get $1.00 Off Your Admission With A Canned Food Shelf Donation!

The Slide

October 1st, 2008 by jason

Random minicomic from Lutefisk Sushi Volume C (2008)

A painful childhood experience given life in drawing, The Slide, by Jesse Haller, features a young boy who is in over his head, literally.  I remember a number of similar events from my own past, although for me, it was the tornado slide that gave me a fright.  I remember the line of kids behind me, and how far down it looked.  The stricken look on the child’s face is very believable, and I feel that I probably shared his expression.

A few notable things: the first page sets up the location and season, and the slide in the title features prominently, in sort of a cross between nostalgia and loneliness.  There are a lot of little things that I caught as I read through it several times, like the detail in the background houses, and the playground equipment.  The view from the top of the slide, and then again from the bottom.  Toby’s sleeve from his hand-me-down flannel, which won’t stay tucked.  The way Toby is overwhelmed by the word balloons, and in particular the word balloon in the shape of the word GO.  His buttcrack revealed to further his embarrassment after he reaches the bottom.  And then the expression on his face in the last panel…I have to admit, I’m having a little trouble figuring this one out.  There’s something up with his mouth, maybe he got a bloody lip by sliding down on his face.  Could just be dirt.

A short, simple comic, but of such a strong shared memory.