STAFF PICKS :: HAWKEYE 22 :: WEDNESDAY, JULY 15, 2015

July 10, 2015 By: Seth Peagler Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

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seth_staff_picksSETH’S PICK :: HAWKEYE 22: Okay…this looks bad. I’m not entirely sure why Marvel supposedly held up the publication of the Matt Fraction/David Aja finale, or why they decided to start a new (or rather, All New) Hawkeye series before the acclaimed previous run finished. Whatever the reasons, this week we finally get the opportunity to celebrate the work of Fraction and Aja on this the last issue of their impressive series.

Heroes customers and readers of this blog know well that I’ve long championed Hawkeye. Until the Fraction/Aja run, the character was mostly a laughable everyman with seemingly little narrative or aesthetic value. For the past three years, that assumption has been proven wrong time and time again. Both creators exhibited a range of narrative and visual deft. Fraction wove non-linear plot lines, callbacks and deep character studies through Aja’s Mazzuchellian visual motifs and panel layouts. The pair took a fairly bland archetypal concept and elevated it to high comic art. They reminded us of the potential of comics, superhero or otherwise. hawkcvrs

I could write endlessly about why this series is so impressive, but this is, after all, simply a Staff Pick. If you want to enjoy a thorough and critical reading of this series, I’d encourage you to link HERE to the brilliant article on The Comics Journal by our friend and HeroesCon panelist, Craig Fischer. Craig digs into close detail about the many highs and occasional lows of this epic series, and will give you an even greater appreciation for just how unique a work it has been. Thanks, Matt and David, for a remarkable series. Hopefully we’ll see the two of you team up again before too long.

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STAFF PICKS :: SEX CRIMINALS #5 :: MARCH 19, 2014

March 18, 2014 By: Craig Fischer Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

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craig_smlCRAIG’S PICK :: SEX CRIMINALS #5: In 1970s fandom, we used the term “groundlevels” to describe comics that combined fan genres like science fiction and fantasy with adult visuals and subject matter(s). “Groundlevel” refers to the middle position these comics occupied between the DC-Marvel “mainstream” and the excesses of Crumbian undergrounds. Dave Sim’s Cerebus was one early groundlevel comic, Wendy and Richard Pini’s Elfquest another, and nowadays, when I look at the artistic and commercial renaissance at Image Comics, I see the rebirth of the groundlevel aesthetic. Saga gives us adult science fiction–adult enough to precipitate an iPhone and iPad ban on the images of gay sex in Saga #12–while Pretty Deadly splices the Western to hallucinogenic storytelling à la Alejandro Jodorowsky’s cult movie El Topo (1970). These comics are weird and adventurous, but the genres are familiar.

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A big part of the adult content of the groundlevels was sex. I bought Star*Reach #1, my first groundlevel, in 1975, when I was twelve years old and too young to know what sex was. Star*Reach #1 was edited by Mike Friedrich, the man who coined the word “groundlevel” and who convinced Howard Chaykin, Walt Simonson, Steve Skeates, and other pros to contribute to his comic and exercise creative freedoms mostly not available at the Big Two. One artist who ran with the freedoms Friedrich offered was Jim Starlin. His contribution to that first issue of Star*Reach have a lot in common with his trippy work on Captain Marvel (both feature Death as an actual character in their stories), but Starlin drew his green-skinned Star*Reach girls topless, something Stan “the Man” Lee never brought to the pages of the Fantastic Four. I paid a pricey 75 cents for Star*Reach #1, took my dirty book home, read it, and immediately grew hair where there wasn’t hair before.

The Image comic that would seem to carry forward that “dirty” groundlevel tradition is writer Matt Fraction and artist Chip Zdarsky’s Sex Criminals, a book with a highly-publicized high concept: it’s about a couple (Suzie and Jon) whose orgasms freeze time. The book gets funky quickly–the second interior page of Sex Criminals #1 is a full-page splash of our protagonists bangin’ in a public bathroom–but sex actually isn’t what this book is about. After the bathroom scene, Sex Criminals #1 shifts abruptly to a direct-address monologue by Suzie, who tells us about her troubled past (her father’s murder, her mother’s grief), her oddball adolescent school days, her early sex life, and her meet-cute with Jon. She also talks about masturbation, and her discovery of the magic properties of her orgasm, but even that deepens our sense of her as a character, as in the scene where Suzie  pauses reality so she can scream at her mother about all the emotions they repress and leave unsaid during the normal flow of time. Sex Criminals incorporates elements from many genres–pornography, crime, a cadre of “Sex Police” out of a Norman Spinrad science fiction novel–but the twin hearts of the book are its characterization and its focus on the emerging intimacy between Suzie and Jon. Sex Criminals is more a rom-com than any other genre.

(If you’re at least 18 years old, and want a more rough trade Fraction, read Satellite Sam, Fraction’s collaboration with Howard Chaykin. For me, Chaykin was there at the beginning, with his hard-R “Cody Starbuck” story in Star*Reach #1, and I’ll probably be ogling a Chaykin drawing of a woman in lingerie and garters when that anvil falls from the sky and pulverizes me. There are worse ways to live and die.)

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One element that unites Sex Criminals, Satellite Sam, and almost all of Fraction’s writing is autobiographical passion. In “Avaritia,” the last (so far) volume of Casanova, Fraction’s ambivalence about his status as a star scripter/caretaker of the Marvel Universe inspired Cass’ horrible job as the guilt-ridden destroyer of a dozen universes and continuities. (Every time Cass eliminates a timeline, Fraction repeats like a mantra a hyperbolic, Stan Lee-esque phrase–“sound of spatiotemporal holocaust”–decorated at the panel margins with Kirby Krackle.) The pseudo-autobiography in Sex Criminals is less angst-y, and played more for comedy, with Fraction confessing (in the letter pages) that Jon’s sexual history in issue #2 “is verrry close to my own,” and that a Halloween egg attack came from an incident in his own life. Even as Fraction cannibalizes various genres for the Ballad of Suzie and Jon, he anchors his stories in personal experience.

In the visuals, Zdarsky likewise balances reality and fantasy. On his tumblr site recently, Zdarsky posted pictures of his real-life models for Suzie and Jon, and the resemblance between the models and the drawings is remarkable. The realism of Zdarsky’s figure drawing extends to subtle, highly communicative changes in body language, as in this sequence of panels from issue #3 where Suzie waits for Jon to text or call:

CriminalsYet Sex Criminals isn’t a kitchen-sink drama, and Zdarsky makes his pictures bizarre and funny too. The soft, colorful, swirling Photoshop effects that represent Suzie and Jon’s orgasms (and their transition to the frozen world that Suzie calls “The Quiet”) are lovely to look at, as are Zdarsky’s bold, monochromatic, almost-abstract covers. (More info from Zdarsky’s tumblr: each of the original covers for Sex Criminals #1-4 is designed around a single color from the CMYK model, and this week’s #5 incorporates all the CMYK colors: cyan, magenta, yellow and key/black.) Maybe my favorite element of Zdarsky’s art, though, is the incidental detail (or in comics slang, “chicken fat”) he sneaks into his picture backgrounds. When a teenaged Jon stops time to sneak into a sex shop in #2, Zdarsky packs his panels with all kinds of sight gags–one of which is an unexpectedly poignant poster for an X-rated video titled “Not the Life I Anticipated,” subtitled “But Here I Am I Guess” and featuring a topless, frowning woman half-turned away from the camera, shyly covering her breasts with her arms. In Star*Reach #1, Jim Starlin put his green-skinned Servants of Death on display for a uncomplicated voyeuristic gaze, and my 12-year-old self was (and is) grateful, but these days I prefer Sex Criminal‘s ironic, witty raunch.

So: viva the new groundlevels, and viva la Sex Criminals. If you haven’t read the comic before, you should know that the first trade, collecting #1-5, is priced at $9.99 and set to drop in a month or so. I prefer the single issues, because though the trade will feature a process section (titled, ahem, “Making Sausage”) with sketches and commentary, it probably won’t include “Letter Daddies,” Sex Criminal ‘s hilarious letters column, and I need to read Fraction and Zdarsky’s “Sex Tips.” (One example: “Sex is a wonderful and natural way to discover if your partner is a lousy lay or not.” Thanks, fellas!) These days, an active comics letters page is almost quaint and old-fashioned, and maybe Sex Criminals as a whole is old-fashioned too: despite the book’s playfully crude sense of humor, Fraction and Zdarsky insist on humanizing Suzie and Jon and using their fantastic premise as a pretext to explore the thrilling, terrifying experience of falling in love and starting a relationship. Works for me, baby.

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STAFF PICKS :: HAWKEYE HC VOL. 1 :: NOVEMBER 6, 2013

November 04, 2013 By: Seth Peagler Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

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seth_smlSETH’S PICK :: HAWKEYE HC VOL. 1: It’s true, I’m writing about Hawkeye again, but for good reason.  This week you can pick up a large format hardcover collecting the first eleven issues of the acclaimed series.  There are several reasons why I think this is a worthwhile idea.  First is the oversized format, which allows you to enjoy David Aja’s work on a larger scale.  Secondly, you get all of Matt Fraction’s best Hawkeye stories (Pizza Dog, Hurricane Sandy) in a single volume.  And thirdly, this is a mainstream comic that manages to not only deserve all its critical acclaim, but  still understand the importance of being entertaining.  After writing about this book for this blog several times in the past year, moderating the Hawkeye panel at this past year’s Heroes Convention, and talking about the title’s merits to anyone who would listen, maybe it’s time I stopped my unabashed promotion of it.  Then again, it’s hard to not write or talk about good comics.  Ultimately, this hardcover is an expansive way to enjoy one of the year’s best series.

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HEROESCON 2014 :: GUEST LIST ANNOUNCEMENT!

July 12, 2013 By: Rico Renzi Category: DISCUSS, Feast Your Eyes, Guest List, HeroesCon

HeroesCon 2013 was amazing. Thanks to everyone on both sides of the table who attended. Dates for HeroesCon 2014 are set, we’ll be back in the same space at the Charlotte Convention Center on June 20-22, 2014. Let’s start things off with a bang for HeroesCon 2014 with our first Guest List Announcement!

It’s been a few years since legendary comic artist ARTHUR ADAMS has graced HeroesCon with his presence but he will be back in 2014! Arthur is known for his ability to pack a page with detail without making it look cluttered. He’s been a huge influence on a few generations of artists now while he’s still going strong and improving his craft!

STEPHANIE BUSCEMA is taking a few days off from her busy schedule of illustrating books and painting comic covers to join us too! Stephanie’s classic precision painting style is in demand and we’re excited to welcome her back to the show next year!

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If you’ve never met SCOTT C. don’t miss this opportunity! He’s truly one of the most charming creators you’ll meet and that character really comes through in his art. We love Scott!

KELLY SUE DECONNICK and the Carol Corps were in full force at HeroesCon 2013. Let’s see if we can make this celebration an annual event! Also, be on the lookout for Kelly Sue’s new book, Pretty Deadly, it looks killer!!kellysuedeconnick

We’re pleased to announce KEVIN EASTMAN’s first appearance at HeroesCon! Kevin is the co-creator of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the head honcho at Heavy Metal Magazine. Don’t miss this opportunity to say hello to a modern comics legend!kevin_eastman

MATT FRACTION has a long list of accomplishments in comics but maybe the most impressive is taking a B-list superhero like Hawkeye and making him the star of a book people can’t wait to read each month. From serious to super silly, Matt is a writer who has shown a great range and we’re always happy to have him at HeroesCon!fox_mfraction

One of our neighbors just happens to be a great at making comics. JASON LATOUR just finished a run as the writer of Winter Soldier and the artist on Sledgehammer ’44. He’s got a bunch of soon-to-be-announced things cooking and we’re really looking forward to the just-announced at the Image Expo, Southern Bastards which Jason will be drawing!

RYAN OTTLEY makes you feel the pain when things get hyper violent in Invincible but he’s just as good at the quiet stuff and superheroics too! Make sure you get a sketch from him at HeroesCon, the crazier your request, the better!

RICK REMENDER is coming back to HeroesCon for the first time in years. After several succesful runs on creator-owned books like Fear Agent and Strange Girl Rick took his talents to Marvel for an acclaimed run as the writer of Uncanny X-Force. Now, aside from strong work on Captain America and Uncanny Avengers, Remender is coming back with two great looking books from Image, Black Science and Deadly Class!

Tickets will be on sale soon and of course we’ll have many more guest list announcements and other HeroesCon news coming your way throughout the year!

 

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STAFF PICKS :: SATELLITE SAM #1 :: JULY 3, 2013

July 01, 2013 By: Seth Peagler Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

SETH’S PICK :: SATELLITE SAM #1: I contemplated picking the glorious Mickey Mouse Color Sundays vol. 1, but figured Andy Mansell would do a much better job of churning up excitement for it.  Then I realized that Satellite Sam debuts from Image this week, and thought it best to remind our readers of that.  It’s a collaboration between Matt Fraction and Howard Chaykin, and is set in the Golden Age of television. Fraction’s something of a film and T.V. history buff, so this makes me think it’ll be tonally closer to Casanova than his Marvel work.  Toss in the fact that he’s working with a legend like Chaykin, and you too might see the potential of this new book.  To summarize, we have two versatile creators telling a story about a murder mystery set against the backdrop of fifties era entertainment.  At the very least, that should warrant a thorough read.  Don’t forget it on your trip to Heroes this week!

 

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STAFF PICKS :: HAWKEYE #11 :: JUNE 26, 2013

June 21, 2013 By: Seth Peagler Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

SETH’S PICK :: HAWKEYE #11: I’ve long extolled the virtues of Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye on this blog, in the store, and just about anywhere else I get the chance.  If any of you caught the Hawkeye panel at HeroesCon, you probably saw why I (and so many others) enjoy this book.  There’s something unabashedly joyous about how these two creators continue to push each other’s creativity.  That iron-sharpens-iron mentality is on full display in this week’s issue #11. [Here’s a condensed version of all you need to know to appreciate this issue.  Hawkeye is about the avenging archer Clint Barton on his days off, when he’s away from his world-saving exploits.  In the first issue, Clint fed a dog some pizza.  That dog later saved his life, and was nearly killed in the process.  Clint then saves the dog’s life, and adopts him.  The dog’s collar showed that his name was Arrow, but Clint thought that was a little hokey, so he changed it to Lucky.  Still, Clint and just about everyone else know Lucky as Pizza Dog.] Getting back to that display of creativity that I alluded to earlier, this issue is told entirely from the perspective of Pizza Dog.  That means all the language in the book will be seen as a dog hears it, with only words he commonly hears highlighted.  This issue also deals more with scent thanks to Pizza Dog’s status as – you know – a dog.  All these things alone should pique your interest for this particular issue, but even more, David Aja’s work on this one suggests he not only read Chris Ware’s acclaimed Building Stories, but decided to channel it into a Marvel comic.  Needless to say, this is not only entertaining, but maybe even a little envelope-pushing.  With storytelling like this, it’s no wonder Hawkeye received 5 Eisner Award nominations this year.  I’m betting they’ll bring at least a couple home. 

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HEROES FOR HURRICANE SANDY RELIEF :: FRACTION SIGNS HAWKEYE #7

January 30, 2013 By: Seth Peagler Category: Charlotte Minicon, Comics Industry, DISCUSS, EVENTS, Guest List, Heroes Aren't Hard To Find, HeroesCon, NEWS, Special Offers, Store Signings

In case you missed hearing about this at our recent Charlotte MiniCon, Heroes is teaming with writer Matt Fraction for a special offer benefiting the American Red Cross and their Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.  Fraction wrote a special stand alone issue for Hawkeye #7 that directly deals with the hurricane.  In addition to writing the story, Fraction is donating all of his royalties from the issue to the Red Cross.  That means the more copies people buy, the more money the Red Cross will make.

In conjunction with Fraction and the Red Cross, Heroes is offering a special signed copy of Hawkeye #7 for $10.  As of this writing, there are less than 100 copies still available.  You can stop by the store and reserve your copy today.  All of the money we receive for this book will go entirely to the Red Cross, and each transaction will be kept separate from other store purchases.  Our costs for the book, shipping, and Matt’s time are all being handled by us and aren’t included in the $10 price of the book.  That means all of the money will go straight to the Red Cross and their relief efforts.  We’d also encourage you to donate more than $10 for the book if you’re able.

We applaud Fraction and his work to maintain awareness of the Red Cross and their work helping those afflicted by Hurricane Sandy.  Reserve your copy of Hawkeye #7 today and help us raise money for those who desperately need it.  

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STAFF PICKS :: HAWKEYE #7 :: JANUARY 30, 2013

January 25, 2013 By: Seth Peagler Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

SETH’S PICK :: HAWKEYE #7: Aside from being one of the more unique superhero comics on the shelves, this week you have another, even better reason to give Hawkeye a try.  In the immediate aftermath of of Hurricane Sandy, writer Matt Fraction was moved to pen a story about the everyman Avenger dealing with those affected by the storm.  This makes perfect sense, as the book is very much grounded in the actions of an ordinary man facing down big obstacles.  If that’s not enough of a reason to check it out, it’s worth noting that Fraction is donating all of his royalties from this issue to the Red Cross.  That means the more copies of the book that sell, the more money the Red Cross will get to help those in need.  You can buy this book and know that you’ll be making a small difference in the lives of others.  The other nice thing about this issue is that it’s kind of a jumping on point, so if you missed Hawkeye #1-6, you can still read this book and be on the ground floor.  Hawkeye has become a regular sell-out for us, and for good reason.  Pick this one up, read one of comics’ best superhero books, and help raise money for the Red Cross all at the same time.

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CHARLOTTE MINCON :: Give a little, get A LOT.

January 18, 2013 By: Karla Marsh Category: Charlotte Minicon, EVENTS


Charlotte Mini-Con is fast approaching, and with all the “AMAZING” things we have in store for you, we’d also like to direct your attention to some of the wonderful charities that we will be hosting at Sunday’s show.

Here’s a direct link for a FREE pass!

The Charlotte Chapter of the American Red Cross will be on site raising funds for Hurricane Sandy Relief as well as for various other disaster relief causes. For a minimum donation of $10.00 to the American Red Cross attendees can reserve a copy of Hawkeye #7 signed by writer Matt Fraction. (more…)

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STAFF PICKS :: 2012 FAVORITES :: RICO RENZI

December 26, 2012 By: Rico Renzi Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

RICO’S FAVORITES OF 2012:

Favorite Superhero Book of 2012: I admit I am in the tank for Matt Fraction, David Aja, Javier Pulido and Matt Hollingsworth’s new Hawkeye comic series. It’s more 70’s action movie comic than superhero book so I kind of feel like I’m cheating by picking it in the superhero category. It’s a great book though and it stars an Avenger that everyone knows from comics and movies so I think it’s fair. Also, I just heard Jesse Hamm is drawing an issue or two in 2013 and that guy kills too so grab Hawkeye before it goes away like all things this good do. (more…)

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