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.


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.




December 18, 2013 By: Justin Crouse Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

staff_picksjustin_staff_picksJUSTIN’S PICK :: WORLD WAR 3 ILLUSTRATED #45: I am fascinated by curios. I blame my grandmother, and her dragging me through area Goodwills and the antique shops of Waxhaw on a regular basis. So when a title like “World War 3 Illustrated” crops up in the week’s new offerings, my eyes perk up. The cover only reinforces that curiosity. Upon further investigation, WW3I is a sporadically published political anthology, founded by comic book artists Peter Kuper and Seth Tobocman, and painter Christof Kohlhofer. [1] #45’s theme is the afterlife, and the contributor line-up is a cornucopia of names I don’t recognize (with the exception of Mumia Abu-Jamal), but Peter Kuper’s work is always worth a look, and I won’t mind that cover haunting my coffee table for a couple months.


HONORABLE MENTION :: BUZZKILL #4: I’m aware the year isn’t over yet (at least not in practice; mentally, that’s another story), but I’m calling Buzzkill superhero book of the year. And it rounds out 2013 nicely with its fourth and final issue this month. The creative team fires with a perfect synergy, and the “high concept” doesn’t interfere with the characterization, or dictate the plot. It’s smart, it’s clever, it’s the kind of thing superhero comics need to do more of: short form, dazzling entertainment. Yes, dazzling. There. I said it.


[1] Wikipedia, yo.



July 09, 2012 By: Heather Peagler Category: DISCUSS, Reviews

Reading The Underwater Welder brought several new experiences to me.  Not only was this the first time I’ve read non-superhero  comics by Jeff Lemire, but this was also my first digital graphic novel reading experience.  While I found Lemire’s art stunning on the screen, I can’t help but think the hard copy format will provide an even more poignant experience.

The Underwater Welder is the story of Jack and Susan Joseph, parents only weeks away from welcoming their first child into the world.  Jack takes a rather unusual course in preparing for the birth of his child and heads off to an oil rig for an underwater welding job instead of remaining home with his heavily pregnant wife. A seemingly supernatural occurrence on the ocean floor ends his assignment early, but furthers his distance from his wife and unborn son as it launches him on a journey of self-discovery tied into his relationship with his own father.

Lemire takes his readers on a strange and beautiful journey that will pull at your emotions regardless of your relationships with your own parents or children.  Within the pages of The Underwater Welder a black, white and gray world is created, adding depth and weight to the relationships of the characters and their surroundings. My words cannot do justice to the beauty of Lemire’s inks.  There is literal and figurative depth here, but also subtlety when it is needed.  As I mentioned, I haven’t read Lemire’s non-superhero comics before, but I’m curious to see how he’s grown over time, and where he might go next.

I’m very much looking forward to picking this book up in hard copy so that I may appreciate the splash pages the way they are meant to be enjoyed, side by side in their full glory.  Lemire puts so much soul in a what seems like a simple panel of a diver viewed underwater from afar.  He also accomplishes seamless transitions in both time and place as he progresses the story with a well-timed pace.  One of Lemire’s more striking pages combines images from our protagonist’s past and present as air bubbles surrounding a clearly panicked diver.

It’s always exciting to discover a new comic that manages to be a moving work regardless of how much or little you might know about the subject matter.  Comics like this provide a great opportunity to introduce non-comic readers to the potential of the medium.  Here’s a story about life experiences that most anyone can relate to, moving beyond the tights and capes that many non-comic readers struggle to overcome in their feelings about this medium.  Not only will The Underwater Welder be occupying a space on my shelf in August, but Lemire’s latest novel has inspired me to go back and read his earlier tomes as well.


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