Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Indies Preview Review Part 1 of 3

Lee: Just when I think that things are getting light, a month like this comes along. There is sooo much good stuff to chose from it's unbelievable.
Jim: See I hate that. I'm so addicited to getting good stuff, I'm never caught up with my reading.

A.L. Publishing
Arsenic Lullaby Pulp ed. Omega by (W/A) Douglas Paszkiewicz
Fresh off its Eisner Award nomination, Arsenic Lullaby returns to prove it has not lost its edge and that it remains the king of dark humor. Two fat loser vampires sink to the level of attacking the handicapped rather than struggle to get blood out of heathly adults capable of defending themselves, a voodoo witch doctor is being attacked by zombie fetuses, and an alcoholic cereal mascot accidentally combats Cuban communism. $9.00 CBR recently did a great interview with preview pages here. The original site with all sorts of sneak peaks, etc here

Lee: Black humor at its blackest. This book skates the very thin line between gross and tasteless and really funny. If you like your humor cutting edge then this is for you.
Jim: Joyously (or sadly) this type of humor sounds to be right up my alley. I grew up with Gahan Wilson, so dark humor is something I enjoy.

Abrams Comicarts
Toon Treasury of Classic Children's Comics HC
This treasury created for young readers focuses on comic books, not strips, and contains humorous stories that range from a single-page to eight or even twenty-two pages, each complete and self-contained. The comics have been culled from the Golden Age of comic books, roughly the 1940s through the early 1960s, and feature the best examples of works by such renowned artists and writers as Carl Barks, John Stanley, Sheldon Mayer, Walt Kelly, Basil Wolverton, and George Carlson, among many others. $40.00

Lee: THIS IS EXCELLENT! From the hey day of comics (the Golden Age) comes a collection of humor stories! Storywise, superhero stories from the 50’s don’t read very well compared to today’s books. But stories like pre-code horror and humor always hold up well. Some stories are better told than others, but they are almost always entertaining. This will be a collection of outstanding art and laugh out loud stories. I am really looking forward to this.
Jim: This does sound like an excellent collection. I just hope in their picks they left all the material unedited. I also hope the reproduction is done with care.

Archaia Studios Press
Killer Vol. 02 HC by (W) Matz (A) Luc Jacamon
While trying to avoid the kinds of personal entanglements that make the life of a professional assassin all the more difficult, our Killer exacts what he hopes will be his revenge on those that have sent his life and career into its long and downward spiral back into humanity. Collects issues #5-10. $21.95

Lee: This was an excellent, excellent series. Sadly, Archaia’s financial troubles put the whole story in jeopardy. Even though there’s a good chance that I won’t get an ending I’m still going along for the ride. It’s that good.
Jim: Issue #10 shoud be the end of the story. So far singe issues #1 - #8 have been released and the first collection has been released. This is an excellent story and great artwork. If you like the premise, you will enjoy this comic.

Mouse Guard Vol. 02: Winter 1152 HC by (W/A) David Petersen
In the Winter of 1152, the Guard face a food and supply shortage threatening the lives of many through a cold and icy season. Saxon, Kenzie, Lieam, and Sadie, led by Celanawe, traverse the snow-blanketed territories acting as diplomats to improve relations between the mouse cities and the Guard. This is a winter that not every Guard may survive! Collects the second Eisner-Award winnning series with an all-new epilogue and bonus content. $24.95

Lee: The first Mouse Guard was good and I really enjoyed it. It’s way more than the kiddie book that mice are normally in and I’m looking forward to this too.
Jim: This is one of the best all ages and modern fairy tales being produced today. Too often children’s books are so water down and happy/happy, joy/joy type gobbledygook that I think even five years olds must be bored after ten pages. The stories I grew up on and my kids were read had an edge to them that made them exciting and memorable, but still age appropriate. That’s what this is, just being produced today.
Lee: Wha the? Who? Did we read the same book? I read this to my kids. It was well past edgy. It’s young adult fare disguised as a kiddie book.
Jim: See Lee thinks that way because he grew up reading sanitized crap to his kids. Look back at even the early Disney movies and you will see that children's stories had some danger and excitement in them. It was not always rainbows and puffy white clouds in a world where the worst thing that happens is a skinned knee or a hurt feeling.

Archie Comics
Archie #600 by (W) Michael Uslan (A) Stan Goldberg
Archie Marries Veronica Part 1: The Proposal. It's the milestone 600th issue and we're serving up the Archie story of the century as Archie marries Veronica! Could it be true? Has Archie finally decided to take the plunge and propose to comics' favorite rich girl? Make way for this special story that takes a look at Archie and his friends after they graduate college. Will the friends stay in Riverdale or disperse? What would lead Archie to have marriage on his mind? And why would he choose Veronica over Betty? How will Betty react? Two things are certain: with the Lodges as hosts, this will be the biggest wedding Riverdale has ever seen - and the biggest Archie Comics story since the famous Love Showdown! $2.50

Jim: I love this type of book. All the non-comic book people will be all over this thinking it is an Earth shattering game changer, when in fact it is a six issue stunt of Archie going to the future and seeing him get married to Veronica. Who wants to bet that at the end of the sixth issue Archie is back in high school after the trip to the future and wonders what would happen if he married Betty. That does not mean this will not be a fun read, but it is akin to the old DC “Imaginary Tales” material – which were usually great stories.
Lee: I find it very amusing that you picked this. I purposely avoided picking because of the impending hype and brouhaha about the issue. I’m with you, I don’t think there will be any lasting change.

Aspen MLT Inc
Aspen Splash 2009 Swimsuit Spectacular by Michael Turner ; Ale Garza ; Micah Gunnell ; Marcus To ; Peter Steigerwald ; Francisco Herrera ; Scott Clark ; Various - Art (A) Michael Turner, Ale Garza, Micah Gunnell, Marcus To, Peter Steigerwald, Francisco Herrera, Scott Clark, Various Aspen's top artists unite with several surprise guests in this year's hottest issue! It's that time of the year again, and the 2009 edition of the ASPEN SPLASH SWIMSUIT SPECTACULAR is here! Filled cover to cover with some of the most amazing illustrations by your favorite Aspen artists including Michael Turner, Ale Garza, Micah Gunnell, Marcus To, Peter Steigerwald, and featuring a ton of surprise guest artists the likes of Talent Caldwell, Francisco Herrera, Scott Clark, and many more, you won't want to miss out!! Featuring a brand-new stunning cover by Michael Turner and Peter Steigerwald, make sure to mark your calendars for the arrival of 2009s ASPEN SPLASH SWIMSUIT SPECTACULAR!! In stores July, 29th 2009! $2.99

Jim: This always disturbs me on some level. Why not buy the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition or look up bikini models online instead of looking at pencil and ink drawings of “hot” girls. Lee: I don’t see what disturbs you about this? What do you think they did in the middle ages for entertainment? They drew pictures of women in bear skins (because the bikini was invented yet). This is nothing new. In fact, remember the 90’s when every publisher came out with a swimsuit issue? Heck, even Amazing Heroes (The Wizard Magazine of the 80’s) did a swimsuit issue. You’re being prudy.
Jim: Not prudy, concerned about the people who find this more titillating then the real thing.

Avatar Press Inc
Absolution #1 by (W) Christos Gage (A) Roberto Viacava Cover: Jacen Burrows
You’ve seen Christos Gage's work for Marvel, WildStorm, IDW and others, but you’ve never seen his imagination unleashed with absolutely no restrictions...until now. ABSOLUTION introduces John Dusk, a superhero in a world where they're a sanctioned arm of law enforcement. But this veteran hero has been scarred by his exposure to man's infinite capacity for evil, and he's seen one too many perpetrators escape justice. One day he crosses the line...lets a murderer die...and discovers it feels good. Surrounded by sociopaths, both human and superhuman, who he knows will prey on others if they're not stopped--permanently--how far will he go, knowing every step he takes puts him further on a collision course with his teammates Alpha and The Servant, not to mention his homicide detective girlfriend? $3.99, #1 of 6

Jim: I want to see this, but the damn Zero issue was hyped months ago and we saw Nada. I hate what I got all hot and bothered for something and then she has a headache --- I mean then the comic never shows up.
Lee: I can’t believe you’re letting one late book get to you. Everything is late these days. Nothing has a set schedule! I’m still excited to see it.
UPDATE - Issue #0 finally hit the stands and it was a good opening.

Birdcage Bottom Books
Old Man Winter & Other Sordid Tales GN by (W/A) J.T. Yost
J.T. Yost's first collection of comics is alternately humorous and quietly devastating, but is consistently brutally honest. Story themes include animal abuse, a widower's internal struggle, and a bizarre junior high-school prank. Winner of a 2009 Xeric Award. 56 pgs, $6.95 Visit JT here

Lee: As always, I love proven commodities and this appears to be one. Even if Jim doesn’t agree, winning the Xeric award is no small feat, and the winning writers/artists/books typically are a cut above the rest of the comic world. The previews are pretty sparse but I liked what I saw. I’m looking forward to this book.
Jim: Sometimes award books are good and sometimes they are bad. I'd rather take a personal recommendation or from a reviewer I follow. With many good reviewers you know whether you will like something even if you opinion differes from the reviewer.

Boom! Studios
Die Hard: Year One #1 by (W) Howard Chaykin (A) Stephen Thompson America's greatest action hero is translated into the sequential art form for the first time! Every great action hero got started somewhere. Batman Began. Bond had his Casino Royale. And for John McClane, more than a decade before the first Die Hard movie, he's just another rookie cop, an East Coast guy working on earning his badge in New York City during 1976's Bicentennial celebration... and the Summer of Sam. Too bad for John McClane, nothing's ever that easy. Join legendary industry creator Howard Chaykin on a thrill ride that's rung up over 1 billion in box office worldwide and become the gold standard for classic action! Yippee Ki Yay! Covers by Dave Johnson, Jock, and John Paul Leon. $3.99 Visit Stephan’s blog here.

Jim: I love most of BOOM studios offerings, but this one I think is a concept whose success as a comic is a huge question mark. I mean I enjoyed Die Hard IV, but this book is not stirring any interest in me.
Lee: These days everything’s success is a question mark. Who would have thought that the Muppets would be a sell out? Anyway, this fits nicely into the crime fiction genre. And, with an established name like John McClane as a lead character it should help draw readers. Chaykin’s latest superhero stuff has been weak but he’s always does crime well. I bet this is a winner. Plus Thompson’s art looks cool.

Jennifer's Body HC by (W) Rick Spears (A) Tim Seeley, Jim Mahfood, Nikki Cook, Ming Doyle
The movie event of the fall is the comic book event of the summer! Juno's award-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody brings you Jennifer's Body, starring Megan Fox as a demonically-possessed cheerleader with a taste for killing teenage boys! In this original graphic novel that ties into the movie and expands on its universe, Black Metal's Rick Spears brings you even more hellish Jennifer stories with art by Hack/Slash's Tim Seeley, Kick Drum Comix Jim Mahfood, DMZ's Nikki Cook, and Popgun's Ming Doyle. $24.99

Lee: “The Movie Event of the Fall”? I haven’t even heard of this movie and it’s already an event? Anyway, Diablo Cody, the screen writer, isn’t even involved but we still get this story. I think it’s interesting. It has potential to be good but $25 for a hc tying into a movie I probably won’t see. That’s asking too much.
Jim: I agree. Feels too pricey.



  1. Mouse Guard is a great all ages book. According to Arielle her oldest loves it. I'll end up getting her a copy of this one at some point too.

  2. I got the singles of Mouse Guard. It's another great chapter in the tale. Really not for the littler kids, though, unless you're frank with them about violence and they have a more sophisticated appreciation of life and philosophy than you're likely to find in the sub 7 year old set. Not that its offensive. It's just over their heads.

  3. I agree with Thomm, it's not sub for the sub 7 set. Maybe there needs to be a definition of "Little Kids" somewhere.

  4. I disagree (sort of) with Lee and Thomm (shock).

    I think if a parent reads it first they can judge and it depends on the child to some degree. I would have read it to my daughters when they were under the age of seven.

    I would not have read it to Lee under seven, Thomm probably could have handled it :)

  5. My oldest is five. I have no problem with the violence in Mouseguard. I grew up on fairy tales, and not the modern scrubbed-clean versions. They were quite violent but I seem to be okay...

    Ignore the bodies in my cellar... crawl space... bah, I guess they're all just buried in the back yard.

  6. Yeah - A current parent (Arielle) who agrees a little fantasy violence will not warp you. Look how Gwen and Jamie turned out - besides that one month of a cross country crime and killing spree they were unaffected.

  7. Like I said in e-mails yesterday, the violence isn't really the main concern. I'm just saying it's not a blanket, all ages book because you're not letting parents know there is some violence. Some parents might not want their kids exposed to any violence. I'm not one of them, but to be accurate, and fair to parents with a different POV, it should be noted that there is some violence in the story, including an owl with a weapon stuck in its eye.

    What I think primarily makes it not an all ages book is that the stories just go over the heads of younger kids. Too much history (why aren't they armed with guns? where are their cell phones?) to explain and a detailed story involving complex emotions and motivations that are outside the understanding of most sub 7 kids. Not to say that some of them won't love it, even if they don't understand all of it, but I think it's only fair to warn a parent that the story has some complex characteristics that make it better suited to slightly older kids. Dostoyevsky is great stuff, but I wouldn't want to try to have my 10 year old read him.

  8. I would assume the "all ages" description means that even children too young to appreciate the story will still have pictures to look at. Which is true, my younger son is two and he likes to look at the pictures.

    And you're correct, it doesn't hurt to point out that there is some violence because some parents do care about that. I wouldn't make a blanket statement about it not being for children under seven though, simply point out that there is violence.