Author Archive

STAFF PICKS :: DISNEY MICKEY MOUSE HC VOL 05 PHANTOM BLOT :: JULY 16, 2014

July 16, 2014 By: Justin Crouse Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

staff_picksjustin_staff_picksJUSTIN’S PICK :: DISNEY MICKEY MOUSE HC VOL 05 OUTWITS THE PHANTOM BLOT: Here’s a comic nerd SAT analogy for you: Carl Barks : Donald Duck :: Floyd Gottfredson : Mickey Mouse. Fantagraphics continues their handsome reprints of Gottfredson’s definitive work on Disney’s beloved mascot with this fifth volume. Before he was a ubiquitous shill, Mickey was an adventurer through and through, as these strips testify. Volume five pits Mickey against (arguably) his greatest villain: the Phantom Blot. Actually the creation of Gottfredson himself, the Blot is a brilliant example of minimalist design, evoking menace and mystery, making him a compelling villain indeed. And just wait ‘til you see his unmasking…no spoilers! Great for fans young and young-at-heart, these books are also a keen reminder of the tactile pleasures print media offers.

phantomblot

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STAFF PICKS :: DKW DITKO KIRBY WOOD ONE SHOT :: JULY 02 2014

July 01, 2014 By: Justin Crouse Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

staff_picksjustin_staff_picksJUSTIN’S PICK :: DKW DITKO KIRBY WOOD ONE SHOT: Hello, Staff Picks, how have you been? Sorry, I’ve been a real jerk. I haven’t called, I didn’t write. HeroesCon had us all hopping…I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. Maybe if I offer you this awesome Fantagraphics one shot? Would that help? Cartoonist Sergio Ponchione draws three different stories in the signature styles of those titular titans Steve, Jack, and Wally. It’s a gorgeously designed book, as well, tastefully toned and wrapped in a masterful cover. I know I’ve neglected you, Staff Picks, but can’t we put that all behind us now, and just be together again? Aw, you’re the best. I knew you’d understand.

dkw

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STAFF PICKS :: SOUTHERN BASTARDS #2 :: MAY 28 2014

May 28, 2014 By: Justin Crouse Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

staff_picksjustin_staff_picksJUSTIN’S PICK :: SOUTHERN BASTARDS #2: When I see the word “southern” in anything, I am immediately skeptical. I’m all too accustomed to our region and citizenry being unfairly pigeonholed as a bunch of unthinking bigot morons. Thankfully, Jasons Aaron and Latour sidestep all that, and craft a tale that’s somewhere between pulp and spiritual. I’m sure nearly every one of you read #1; this is a gentle reminder that #2 needs your attention, as well. Aaron is working the spaces between genres like he did in his acclaimed Vertigo series Scalped, and Latour’s art is a blend of darkness and whimsy in the grand EC tradition (don’t let those colors fool you, I see Kurtzman and Davis both lurking in that line work).

sthbsts

 

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STAFF PICKS :: ANDRE THE GIANT LIFE & LEGEND GN :: MAY 14, 2014

May 13, 2014 By: Justin Crouse Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

staff_picksjustin_staff_picksJUSTIN’S PICK :: ANDRE THE GIANT LIFE & LEGEND GN: Fellow 80s kids will understand the childhood affinity for professional wrestling. It’s a cult that runs right up to today, but it found its footing and gathered its momentum in those halcyon days of Reaganomics and bad newsman toupees. The sport has its detractors; personally, I just enjoyed it for what it was: a good show. And we must remember, for all its highfalutin pretension and staggering gallery listings, art is, at its core, show business. It would seem that’s the point Box Brown is underlining in his biography of pro wrestling icon Andre the Giant. Once we start to gauge art by assumed intentions or monetary gain, we must evaluate ALL art by the same criteria, and that, my friends, is a slippery slope. Art is in the heart of the artist, and I believe this tender portrait of Mr. Roussimoff will illustrate that point quite well. Brown dove into some exhaustive research for this project, and his style – somewhere at the intersection of Tezuka and Pendleton Ward – is perfectly suited for the subject matter. Expect this one to show up on plenty of best-of-the-year lists, come December.

andregiant

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STAFF PICKS :: APRIL 23, 2014

April 21, 2014 By: Justin Crouse Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

staff_picksjustin_staff_picksJUSTIN’S PICK :: Some weeks, doing a staff pick can be pretty tough. I mean, I know there are homeless and starving people in the world, but do THEY have to sift a SINGLE comic book – out of hundreds – to highlight on a weekly basis? NO. Clearly, my plight is underrated. Taking a cue from our man Phil, I’m just going to babble about a few things that’ve struck my fancy of late. We’ll call this the Southern Variation, since that’s an appropriately nerdy in-joke one out of ten of you will understand.

First of all, Uncanny Avengers. This is my favorite Marvel comic going right now (but it better watch its back, She-Hulk’s creeping up fast). Rick Remender packs more into a single issue than most writers manage to squeeze into a trade paperback. The pacing can be pretty glacial, and he wanders off on a lot of tangents, but man, are they good tangents. Remender is one of those guys that really understands the synthesis of plot and characterization, and how crucial that alchemy is to comics. Too many of his contemporaries seem to sacrifice one for the other, and it makes for some pretty boring and/or predictable comics. Of course, having Daniel Acuña illustrate your scripts is never collateral damage, and this guy’s stuff just gets better and better. I liken his artistic development to whittling: the more he shaves off, the more beauty is revealed. Uncanny Avengers #16 is part two of a big denouement for the series – Avenge the Earth – and even though the involvement of Kang makes any incident inherently undoable, it’s about the trip, not the destination.

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If you’d like to take a different trip, why not visit the fantastical land featured in Chris Roberson and Paul Maybury’s new Image sword and sorcery series, Sovereign? Issue two is out this week; #1 teased just enough to really whet the imagination.  Understandably, it concerned itself more with exposition and conceptualizing, but hinted at broad enough conflicts to fuel this title for some time. The focus is split between a few different classes: religious, royal, and warrior, and an underlying sense of dread informs the whole issue. This is an obvious choice for fans of Saga or Game of Thrones, and the art! Paul Maybury is consistently overlooked as a reliable and deft storyteller. The guy deserves more eyes on his stuff. Provide a pair, won’t you?

sov2

Lastly, my generation will not permit the publication of a Simpsons one-shot without at least a passing remark. After the likes of Mr. Burns, Professor Frink, and even Lisa Simpson have proven to be shining solo stars, who could warrant the treatment next? Moe Szyslak? Bumblebee Man? The Captial City Goofball? Close, but no cigar! It’s the one, the only…DUFFMAN! That’s right, Springfield’s resident swill shill is ready for Spring Break with an issue of his very own comics magazine! What shenanigans may ensue are anyone’s guess, but here’s hoping the Seven Duffs show up (“Surly only looks after one guy: Surly.”). I suppose for this particular issue, we’ll have to move back to the former genre rack residency…but then again, what 80s kid didn’t adore Spuds MacKenzie? Alas, those were different, heady times.

duffman

Welp, that’s the top of the heap for me this week. Good night, and good luck. See you in the funnypages. Etc.

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STAFF PICKS :: BOHEMIANS GN :: APRIL 16, 2014

April 14, 2014 By: Justin Crouse Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

staff_picksjustin_staff_picksJUSTIN’S PICK :: BOHEMIANS GN: Being sequestered in the sticks as a teenager, and being something of an inherent weirdo, I took some solace in my creative side, and also developed a healthy fascination with the Beats (i.e. Kerouac, Ginsberg, and my personal favorite, William S. Burroughs). Bohemians promises to chronicle the predecessors of America’s original counter-pop-cultural movement. If this is an area that interests you, I’d also heartily recommend the late Harvey Pekar’s Beats Graphic History (mostly illustrated by Hip Hop Family Tree’s Ed Piskor, among others, but happy hunting…it’s out of print!). Hopefully, Bohemians will take a similar tack to Pekar’s examination, and dispose with the glamorizing of its subject matter. The lives lived under the radar, by their own rules, are easily romanticized with the benefit of hindsight. In all honesty, it’s a lot more squalid than that. Either way, I’m reading.

BOHO

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STAFF PICKS :: FLASH GORDON #1 :: APRIL 9, 2014

April 04, 2014 By: Justin Crouse Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

staff_picksjustin_staff_picksJUSTIN’S PICK :: FLASH GORDON #1: Fortunately for you, it’s tough to translate singing to type, so you’re spared a lousy, off-key reprise of the Flash Gordon theme song. But rest assured, it will resound throughout the store on Wednesday. Batman 66 scribe Jeff Parker joins forces with Evan Shaner (who drew one of the best one shots ever, last year’s Buddy Cops) to celebrate the 80th anniversary of one of sci-fi’s most enduring icons. It’s not Flash fandom that draws me to this book; rather, I like Parker’s unobtrusive scripting, and Shaner’s clean, crisp art is highly enjoyable in its own right. I expect these gentlemen to turn in a fine adventure of the Man from Earth. Now, off to practice that falsetto…

flash

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STAFF PICKS :: 47 RONIN HC :: MARCH 12, 2014

March 07, 2014 By: Justin Crouse Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

staff_picksjustin_staff_picksJUSTIN’S PICK :: 47 RONIN HC: No, this isn’t a movie adaptation; rather, it’s yet another variation on Japan’s “national legend”, which has actual, historical basis. Dark Horse publisher Mike Richardson – who has a healthy, long-running fascination with the Land of the Rising Sun and its culture – pens this particular take, with the art deftly handled by Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai.

Currently the Comic Art Professional Society auctioning some great art donated by many industry giants and friends of Stan to help offset health care costs for his ailing wife Sharon. Stan is well-respected in the industry for his dedication to and consistency of craft (he also letters Groo; if that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is). If you’ve never picked up an Usagi book, well, there’s one solid recommendation. 47 Ronin is another. Help a brother out.

47ronin

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STAFF PICKS :: THE AUTEUR #1 :: MARCH 5, 2014

March 05, 2014 By: Justin Crouse Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

staff_picksjustin_staff_picksJUSTIN’S PICK :: THE AUTEUR #1: If you’re one of those people who loves comics but loathes their self-imposed limitations, this is a book for you. An unclassifiable offering, writer Rick Spears weaves a mesmerizingly slimy portrayal of La-La Land, while James Callahan crafts art that’s somewhere between John Waters and Geof Darrow. Both Spears and Callahan will be guests at this year’s Heroes Con; pick up The Auteur so you can tell these fine gents what a bang-up job they did.

auteur

 

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STAFF PICKS :: BOJEFFRIES SAGA & INSECT BATH #1 :: FEBRUARY 12, 2014

February 11, 2014 By: Justin Crouse Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

staff_picksjustin_staff_picksJUSTIN’S PICK :: THE BOJEFFRIES SAGA GN: Alan Moore is a pretty divisive presence in the funnybook sphere nowadays; the only people more vociferous than his fans seem to be his detractors. So I – fish nor foul – often feel a little lonely, being a moderate fan of the guy (i.e. I love his work, could care less about his personality). This book collects some old Warrior strips with Steve Parkhouse (plus a new installment to bring the family’s exploits into the present day). The Bojeffries Saga is billed as a mash-up of the Addams Family and Coronation Street, creepy, quintessentially British, all at once. Anglophiles note.

BOJEFFRIES

BONUS PICK :: INSECT BATH #1: This Fantagraphics anthology had me at the word “insect”. Ever since childhood, bugs have been a consistent fount of fascination. Combined with a healthy appreciation for the horror genre, well, it’s easy to see why I’m losing four bucks to this one. Dig that nutso cover.

INSECTBATH

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