Saturday, February 25, 2006

Crazy Comic Covers #4



Oh look, another kooky Superman cover.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Internet Comic Sees Print as Holdable Comic

One of my favourite online comics ever (no, not Teenboat) has finally seen printing press', shop shelves and hopefully, your book shelf.

Yes, the Eisner Award Winning "Mom's Cancer" by Brian Fies, which started life out as a somewhat cathartic internet comic has been printed by Abrams Image Press.
The comic, which once again proves the versatility of the comic book medium and it's viability as a source of important literary material, is a graphic novel showing one family's true life struggle against metastatic lung cancer.


This is truly one of my favourite online comics, and breaks the mold as most online comics to print success stories are comical strip series such as "PVP" or "Penny Arcade". Whilst this novel should be available in all good comic stores, (priced £8 / $13), it probably won't be despite the fact it is available from their comic distributor.
Still, the good news is this book will be available from book stores everywhere in the world, and they tend to have a greater readership and catchment audience than your average comic-shop, so hopefully this book will far outsell the pithy 30,000 copies most comics sell on a monthly basis.

Of course, my shop Comic Connections will keep the book in stock for the remainder of its print run. But if you can't get to us, won't use our mail-order service or plain hate myself and Glyn, do yourself a favour and grab a copy from Amazon.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Thoughts and Homework

Although I have not been posting much the last week, rest assurred my head is absolutely swimming in comic theory and supposition at the moment. Too much in fact, my head is moving faster than the ideas can be written. I would imagine sometime next week we will see a series of column entrys, but for me, the rest of the weekend is taken.
My weekend is full. Tonight I am trying to squeeze the Ultimate Avengers movie in before heading out to Oxford, for the awesome "Mighty Boosh" live. Tomorrow is wrestling day, with the biggest BAWA show to date planned with me taking part in 3 of the 6 matchs. If I get through all that in one piece I am off to Nottingham to visit the excellent Page 45 (the most important, pioneering comic shop in the country) as a precursor to seeing the Darkness live.
Yeah, I know: Darkness are hardly my idea of a great band either, but my best mate loves them and if you can't support a mate what can you do, besides, the posse going pretty much guarantee's a bloody good laugh.

But comics are going great at the minute, the May Previews releases are all up now at www.comicbookresources.com, and except for the usual run of the mill Marvel / DC stuff, we have the forthcoming "Civil War" crossover, a brainchild of Mark Millar, not to mention the all important 52 from DC Comics.
For those of you not familiar with 52, stay tuned. I have been meaning to post an essay about why DC kick ass at the moment for the last few weeks which will showcase 52 in all its glory.

If any of you out there in comic reading land have a PS2 in your house, do yourself a favour and pick up a copy of "Shadow of the Collossus", its an amazing game visually and a delight to play. I would mention its by the people who made "Ico", but most people ignored that upon release. Still, Ico has been re-released as a budget title (£20) to conincide with the release of Collossus, which is way cheaper than the £70 the original goes for on eBay.

And starting this week, I am setting you all homework. Read (or re-read) "V for Vendetta", I will open a post in two weeks time (the 3rd of March to be precise) for people to discuss their thoughts and feelings on the book and forthcoming film.
Of course, I will probably end up deleting the post after peoples lack of comments, but its worth a try.
So what's your incentive to read "V for Vendetta"? Howsabout a money-back guarantee? Yeah, you heard me. If you buy V for Vendetta in the next 2 weeks from Comic Connections, Banbury any unsatisfied customers can return the book for a full refund, providing the book has not been damaged in any way.

And to conclude, I am rapidly heading towards 100 posts on this website, which is quite a milestone, as most people cannot rack up 12 posts on their blogs without running out of things to say or posting a picture of their cat.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Free Comic Book Day is 87 days away!



--------------------
FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2006 IS SATURDAY, MAY 6th!
--------------------

For the fifth consecutive year, comic shops worldwide are joining with
publishers to promote the comic medium and stores everywhere by giving
away FREE COMICS!

This annual event gives you the perfect opportunity to sample the worlds
of wonder available at your local comic book store. From super-heroes to
slice-of-life to action/adventure and beyond, Free Comic Book Day has a
comic book for everyone!

***** FREE? WHAT COMIC BOOKS ARE FREE?

There is a vast array of great comic books this year--something for all
tastes and ages! Visit our website at www.FreeComicBookDay.com to see the
complete list of free books offered on May 6th. Make sure that you
bookmark the website and check it regularly. In the coming weeks, we’ll
keep you updated on who is promoting Free Comic Book Day and how.

***** SO WHERE DO I GET THESE FREE COMIC BOOKS?

COMIC CONNECTIONS
4a PARSONS STREET
BANBURY
OXON
01295 268989
Comicconnections@aol.com

--------------------
SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT FREE COMIC BOOK DAY!
--------------------

Show your enthusiasm for Free Comic Book Day with baseball caps, polo
shirts, t-shirts, baby doll T-shirts, wristbands, and Free Comic Book Day
postage stamps! Order at your favorite comics shop!

Want to link to us on your own website? Click on
http://www.freecomicbookday.com/links.asp to find nifty Free Comic Book
Day logos.

There are lots of ways to become a Free Comic Book Day evangelist. You can
mention Free Comic Book Day in your e-mail signature. Feature the FCBD
logo at the bottom of eBay auctions. Give the www.FreeComicBookDay.com
address to sites looking for cool links.

Additionally, feel free to download the Free Comic Book Day mini-poster
from our site at http://www.freecomicbookday.com/download/FCBDposter.pdf.

Print it out and hang it on grocery store bulletin boards, college
campuses, and anywhere else you see fit. Tell your friends. Tell your
family. Tell your loved ones. Tell your only-know-by-a-first-name
acquaintances.

--------------------
Remember: Saturday, May 6th is Free Comic Book Day!
--------------------

Please check out the Free Comic Book Day website regularly for updated
information at http://www.FreeComicBookDay.com and if you have any
questions please feel free to contact info@freecomicbookday.com.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Which Superhero Are You?

Your results:
You are Green Lantern
Green Lantern
80%
Iron Man
70%
The Flash
70%
Spider-Man
65%
Catwoman
60%
Wonder Woman
55%
Supergirl
55%
Robin
50%
Hulk
50%
Batman
45%
Superman
40%
Hot-headed. You have strong
will power and a good imagination.
Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz


But I hate Hal Jordan??? Classic self-loathing, I'm living in denial and suppressing rage.

Crazy Comic Covers #3

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Something about Superman and Trickster always makes me laugh.

A Harsh Contrast

As part of my recent excessive reading, I have been going through a load of old school sci-fi novels. One that really stuck out in my mind was "I am Legend" by Richard Matheson, the interesting thing about the book is that it makes the list on most Top 100 horror novels, as well as the Top 100 Sci-fi novels.
It's a very cleverly thought out look at the Vampire mythos, taking a scientific approach to the blood disease that causes vampirism. As well as that, its a very visual novel with lot's of nice imagery which should translate well to film, and has some interesting social commentary laced into it.

So what went wrong with the 1970's movie adaptation "The Omega Man"?

Well, for a start it would have helped if they have used the source material in the film. The opening credits hint towards disaster, citing the film as being adapted from "A novel by Richard Matheson" not, "The Novel" or "The Novel: I am Legend by...", nope, just "a novel".
And then of course there is the second problem...Charlton Heston.
Regardless of whether or not you think the man can act, the man is an arse. he play's Charlton heston in everything I have ever seen and I place him next to Marlon "Cadaver" Brando in my list of over-rated actors. (And while we're on the subject, who want's to start a deadpool on Charlton Heston? C'mon, surely he has to go this year).

So with CH in the lead role, we forego the pistol for survival purposes and replace it with a semi-automatic machine gun (I don't know what type, nor do I care), which he is quick to use at the drop of the hat, for he is after all a full, card carrying member and (president?) spokesperson for the NRA.
They also forget a few more points.
Like Vampires.
And the fact that he is the last man alive (apparently this Greek alhabet goes up to P).
And a plot.
And the fact that the love interest isn't suppose to be a gun-weilding Blaxploitation cast-off.
The movie reaches the forty minute mark and manages to reach the end of the novel whilst deftly avoiding all the points that made the novel so good, like issolation, mans struggles to survive against insurmountable odds - you know what they say about the little things.

So the next 50 minutes is a free-for-all, unexplored territory, the undiscovered country, the final frontier, a blank slate, anything can happen.
Yet nothing does, the movie plods on at its lacklustre pace until it's seemingly made up on the fly ending, which is ultimately meaningless because he isn't the last person alive and it leaves you with the feeling that, somehow, someway, mankind will perservere and reclaim the day.

Great.

So what does all this have to do with you, the comic reader?

V for Vendetta is but a couple of months away, and to be fair, it could go either way. We have been spoiled of late with the amount of reverence shown to comic book adaptations: Sin City; Batman Begins; Spider-man and X-Men. But this was not always the case: Batman and Robin; Nick Fury; the original Fantastic Four.
Before we remember, remember the fifth of November, we better hope they remember, remember the source material.

-Sid Beckett

Also, I think adaptation is a shit word. Adaption is a much better word, and will be used hereforth. Say it a few times, Comic book adaption - sounds better doesn't it?
Newspeak here we come.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

SPIDER-MAN: THE OTHER More whinging

The Other Part 9: Amazing Spider-Man #527

Well, there's less adverts in these issues, so that's a start.

The first half of this issue recaps the last issue and then goes into a well-executed, but ultimately superfluous dream sequence, where absolutely nothing is seen or realised that hasn't been said or done before. It gets better though, with a very JMS diatribe: "We take that which is inside...and move it outside...and then it is safe", meaning that Peter dressed himself up as Spider-man, because that way he can undress the Spider to be Peter, instead of fully embracing his Spider powers. Got that? No? Oh.

It does make sense if you reread it, it's just a little contrived.

So to summarise, the Spider has refused to die where the Man accepted death, therefore Spider-man is reborn with an even more dominant spider aspect. A slight scientific explanation is given as to the rebirth of the spider, apparently once in a spiders life cycle they can shed their skin and be figuratively reborn, but obviously there is a very mystical quality to the whole totemistic theme to Spider-mans powers. Which is an interesting route to take with a character very much born of science in the nuclear age.

So yeah, Peter is reborn, and Tony and Cap reveal they thought he might be regenerating but didn't want to say anything in front of MJ or Aunt May in case they were wrong, which is great, because all the shit they've seen over the years you would have thought they could make the leap upon finding his withered corpse (the one from last issue which was drawn badly).
But what does the future hold for a man who may be more Spider now than man. keep reading.

The Other Part 10: Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-man #4

I love Mike Wieringo's artwork, check out his blog here for some awesome sketches.
It's a health check for the recently reborn. A veritable cornucopia of the brainiacs of the Marvel universe: Tony Stark, Reed Richards (does he ever change his clothes?, Wife Beater (Hank Pym), all we really need is hank Mccoy to complete the set. It's nice to see this, Spidey has always been a bit detached from the core of the MU and since joining the New Avengers he has been able to make use of other peoples talents.

We take a break from the Spider-man The Other story-arc to come back to an old Paul Jenkins plot-thread, Eugene "Flash" Thompson. Apparently out of his dribbling vegetative state and applying for a job at his old high-school as Gym teacher, he seems undamaged from the coma until the last panel, where it appears he is pulling a "Memento", having no memories of Peter Parker since they were at high School together (so he's just glossing over the whole Vietnamese bride / hobgoblin debacle - we all should).
Back to Avengers tower, we see Peter's spider-sense is even more heightened as he instinctually overreacts to a friendly gesture from Tony Stark, before Peter and his wife go out for a night on the town (who would have thought they were Swingers?*).

Not a bad issue in all, we have a JJJ cameo, a handbag theft scuppered and then Peter's spider sense goes off big time and he fall's out of the air, coming to moments before impact, he realises there is something wrong at Avengers tower.
Avengers mansion is covered in webs, and after Spidey has investigated he finds that cannibal spiders have eaten his body (sounds like an emo band). Upon facing his feminine-esque arachnid-powered spare reanimated corpse (again, sounds like an emo band), the thing I was hoping wouldn't happen happened. He produces his stingers. His foe - hereafter known as The Other - runs off out of the mansion, hoping to fight again another day.

I hate the stingers.

The Other Part 11: Marvel Knights Spider-man #22

It's contrast time again. From the smooth, fluid grace of Wieringo's subtle pencils to the studio finished, computer enhanced balls imagery of Pat Lee. Oh well, let's get on with it.

Chase time, annoying villain, clich├ęd dialogue, and that's the first three pages. It seems the body has come back to life because Spidey has, with a very limited, primitive brain. A sparse explanation of the Stingers fobs them off as "In the future, spider's will have stingers, you are the future", it's all a bit self-perpetuating really, but on with the show.
Oh look, the Spiders have dissolved and gone down the drain, along with my interest in the issue.
You see, the thing that really pisses me off with this character is that Garth Ennis already did it in "Tangled web #1-3", and it wasn't good then, so why bother again? (Available in back issue if you want it?).

On with the issue. Ooh, Jarvis with a strop on (I said strop, not strap, this is the Avengers not the Ultimates remember), nothing happens for three or four pages and then it's revealed that Peter doesn't remember eating Morlun's head and MJ decides to let it go for a while (got to have the hanging plot thread).
In another interesting use of his extended contacts, Spidey goes to see one Doctor he hasn't seen yet. The Sorcerer Supreme, Dr. Strange. He explains to Peter that "The Other" is a cosmic corrective response to the disturbance in the force that Pete made by coming back from the dead. And that his eye has grown back. See, 6 years of schooling wasn't wasted on Stevie.
We all know that Spider-man and Peter Parker are driven by guilt, so it seems only
fitting that he is feeling survivors guilt over coming back from the dead, but a good old chit chat with Aunt May pulls him out of his funk. In a way I miss the good ol' days where Peter and Aunt May would have exactly the save conversation, but without her knowing he is Spider-man, and she would still say exactly what he needed to hear.

And then we see another fucking cocoon.

The Other Part 12: Amazing Spider-Man #528

More test's with Tony Stark greet us on the first few pages, I suppose they wish they'd done all this with the symbiote way back in the day, so it's best to be safe, and Tony isn't completely convinced that it is Peter back from the dead.
After seeing an image of "The Spider" in a mirror, Spidey goes out webslinging to ponder, as he does. JMS throws in a few nice pages of comic relief, which is one of my favourite thing's about his writing on Spidey, he is good at balancing the character with comedy.

The comic really kicks after this, with a minor scale emergency for the super-hero which can really help showcase his new-found abilities, because apparently spider-man didn't have enough strength, speed and ability before.
A building has fallen down and Spidey ventures into the rubble to look for survivors, it is here that his first new power is made clear: his ability to see in the dark. I hate this power, it is utterly redundant. His spider-sense is more than sufficient to help Spidey through any situation, I remember an awesome Avengers annual in the '70's or '80's where Black Panther and Spidey are getting their respective asses handed to them, and then they take out the lights, what with Black Panthers heightened senses and the spider-sense, they work effortlessly in silent communion to beat the shit out of the foe that was troubling them mere moments before.
Still, his other newly acquired power is very cool. For those of you not in the know, Spidey now produces his webbing organically (no, not like Tesco organic cucumbers, he make's it himself), but with his new power he can now sense vibrations through the webs, like a spider can with trapped prey. so in a search attempt for an injured girl in a collapsed building say, he can fill the area with webs and then follow any vibrations to there source (although, who's to say that Spidey couldn't have done this before anyway, it all depends on how sensitive the respective writer makes his spider-sense).
Of course, Spidey finds the injured girl in question and escapes moments before the building collapses, happy ending...of sorts.

As "The Other" draws to a close, we then get an introspective monologue from Peter to MJ, explaining when he got his powers he never looked at them too closely for fear of finding something he didn't like "The child never asked and the man never returned to the question: what happens when you merge a man with a spider".
Of course, we then get a shot of Tony working on that new bloody costume.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So all in all, was "Spider-man: The Other" any good?
You know, some of it was inoffensive, but for the most part I could have lived without it. Some superfluous changes have been made to his powers, it's set the stage for a new costume and introduced a new villain who seems to offer nothing unique to Spider-mans excellent rogues gallery. But this is all from a crossover which got more press attention for its variant covers than it did its storyline.
Thankfully, I don't work for a magazine so I don't have to rate this story line. Read the descriptions of the issues, if you think it sounds good, it might do it for you. But for me; if the choice is "Evolve or Die", I'll pick the latter.

*So sorry.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Missing Hellblazer



Do you remember when Hellblazer used to be good? I do.

It was 1999, and we were all getting ready for the promising new millenium. Hellblazer was coasting along just fine with Warren Ellis as new ongoing writer, the book was set in England and selling reasonably well without any thoughts of Keanu Reeve's or American.

And then suddenly, Ellis was gone.
Then came the dark times, then came Azzarello.

60 issues later and Hellblazer has still yet to recover, admitadly the Mike Carey run wasn't as poor as the Azzarello, but it was no where near the heights of Ennis or Ellis.

So what prompted Ellis to leave?

The Columbine Shootings.

The story created for Hellblazer #141 I am about to show you. It was due for release just a few weeks after the Columbine Highschool Shootings but DC got cold feet (understandably so) and pulled it.

It is one of the single best issues of a comic I have ever read, it is a cautionary tale for all generations and could stand tall as one of the best pieces of modern literature the comic medium has ever produced, yet it has never been released.

CLICK HERE FOR "SHOOT"

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Comedy Comic Panel #2



Words? Where we're going we don't need words.

Metal Gear Solid Digital Comic


Check it out here.













Devised and created by Kojima Productions, Metal Gear Solid Digital Comic is based on the existing IDW Metal Gear Solid comic book drawn by Ashely Wood, but has been digitally edited into a 3D medium and now features sound effects, animations and music to bring it to life. This innovative title uses the new medium to tell the full story of the first Metal Gear Solid adventure.

As viewers progress through the story, they can zoom in and out of the images using the analogue stick and scan specific points of interest. These scanned images are then stored in a library of 100s of similarly noteworthy elements, adding replay value to the story.

But will the format catch on? And will it sell more than the comic? Only time will tell.