Dec 112014
 

If you missed it, Roc Upchurch was removed from the Image Comics family following domestic abuse charges against his wife. Kurtis Wiebe (writer for Rat Queens) announced shortly after the news broke that Rat Queens would continue and that they were looking for a new artist to take over for Roc. This morning, Image broke the news that Stjepan Sejic will be taking over illustrating our favorite ladies of mischief and their wonderful escapades.

Stjepan previously worked on Sunstone, an Amazon #1 bestseller.

Welcome to Rat Queens, Stjepan Sejic

Welcome to Rat Queens, Stjepan Sejic

Though I loved Roc’s art style for Rat Queens, I think that Image and Kurtis made the right choice and I am very excited to see what Stjepan does with Violet, Hannah, Dee and Betty. Just keep them each their unique, kick-ass style and I will get behind it.

Image’s Announcement can be found here: https://imagecomics.com/content/view/image-comics-shadowline-welcomes-new-artist-on-rat-queens

May 112014
 

I have had the cosplay itch for several weeks now and someone *cough*Joe*cough* is having a hard time narrowing down our next Cosplay, so I decided to do something a little different….

COMIC BOOK COVERED SHOES!

shoe toes

What about that is not enticing? You create one-of-a-kind shoes that fit you and showcase something you love.

This is how I did it:

Step 1: Purchase secondary copies of comics you enjoy. I mean, who is gonna cut up their regular copy?

comics

Step 2: Pick some old shoes (or buy some new ones) that have a smooth surface to adhere the comics to. Luckily, I had some heels that I couldn’t wear anymore after my cat, Leonidas, thought the toes would be a good chew toy….

shoes

Step 3: Cut out pages that are the color scheme you want and cut out special images you want to showcase on the shoes.

comics pieces

cut outs

Step 4: Use ModPodge to stick the colored background pieces to the shoe. Wet the surface of the shoe and wet both sides of the comic piece using a paint brush. Press the piece down and stick with more ModPodge, pressing the comic piece flat onto the surface of the shoe.

eyes

partly done

Step 5: Cover both shoes completely with the background images and allow to dry for 2-3 hours.

shoessss

Step 6: Use the “featured” images and spread them around on the shoes to your liking.

pieces

Step 7: Allow the shoes to dry for 24 hours. Apply a final coat of ModPodge, let dry and WEAR THEM, YOU FABULOUS HUMAN.

Apr 082014
 

CyclesWell, I have finally finished the second paperback of Y: The Last Man, and there is certainly a lot to catch up on since we left our dear Yorick and his companions with several paths ahead of themselves at the end of Unmanned. We begin book two still in Boston, with Yorick bartering for passage on a freight train, though the group’s destination is still not immediately clear to the reader. After some “resourcefulness,” all are safely on board, and quickly discover that they will be sharing the space with a fully-stocked pigpen. And yes, don’t worry, fabulous puns ensue.

We soon learn that the chosen destination is Dr. Mann’s lab in California, which Yorick is none too happy about. Agent 355 seems concerned, too, and apparently rightfully so: after a short interlude (in which we find out that Yorick’s sister Hero has gone a bit off the rails [ha, my own pun!]), a pair of armed and apparently racist thieves show up. Caught off guard, Yorick is not wearing his disguise, and the thieves immediately discover that at least one male has survived the plague. The thought seems to barely register, however, before Yorick takes action despite (yet again) Agent 355’s warnings to stay back. He tackles one of the thieves, but it doesn’t go well: the thief quickly judo-rolls and throws both Yorick and shoulder-perched Ampersand through the open boxcar door and into the night. Worse yet, Agent 355 bashes her head when she dives after him.

Yorick is discovered, unconscious, on the side of the train tracks and given safe haven by Sonia, a woman from nearby Marrisville. After waking up, the two instantly bond, and Yorick finds himself describing his relationship with Beth as “complicated.” It is a surprising turn of events, given his fixation with traveling to Australia thus far. Still, he quickly recognizes the need to find Agent 355 and Dr. Mann, and prepares to leave. Before he is able to depart, however, he runs into the other sixty-six women of the town, who represent yet another important group of women that we have not yet seen in Vaughan’s post-apocalyptic universe: a no nonsense faction that rationally tends to their own basic needs. Sure, in the first book, Vaughan introduced us to the congresswomen searching for the next President, but here in book two he also acknowledges the distinct likelihood that a group of individuals would be able to overcome their differences in order to react to the distinct and immediate needs of a day-to-day order. It is an impressive feat considering we find out that the group is made up of convicts who escaped from a nearby prison, but it is not unrealistic.

Despite this positive note, a rather unfortunate development comes to pass, as Yorick’s love life becomes exponentially more “complicated.” First, he kisses Sonia in the woods, and second, in a concussed haze, Agent 355 weakly mutters, “I want you…Yorick.” While I was angry that Vaughan has contradicted his main character’s previous statements, and I personally hate Yorick’s decision, I am simultaneously impressed by the statement Vaughan is making: Yorick is the last man on Earth, but that doesn’t make him the smartest or best one. A similar idea applies to Agent 355, as I see it. She is one of the smartest women on Earth, but that doesn’t mean she can’t (mistakenly?) fall for the imperfect eponymous character.

Speaking of heroes (More puns! I regret nothing!), Yorick’s sister has now discovered that her brother is the man they have been following, and thanks to a tip from the woman who got him and the group onto the train at the beginning of book two, she knows just where he is. You might not consider a sister finding her long lost brother a bad thing, but unfortunately for Yorick, Hero is just as complicated as the rest of the cast. Brainwashed, she and the rest of the Daughters of the Amazon show up just as Yorick is having self-righteously berating the residents of Marrisville for their colorful past. Luckily, they are not as petty, and refuse to allow the Daughters to take the last man in the world into custody. Again, however, Yorick puts himself in extreme danger by turning himself over to them (Agent 355 is a bit too unconscious to disagree with his decision this time), and he is rewarded with a gun to his head, held by the leader of the Daughters, Victoria. In a tremendous show of violence, Sonia steps outside and deftly launches an ax into Victoria’s head, only to receive an arrow from Hero’s bow in her chest. After Sonia dies in his arms, it is Yorick’s turn to be angry, and he stops just short of executing his sister, demanding instead that the residents of Marrisville lock up the Daughters in the old prison.

The real fireworks come just before the end of the book, however. Hero reveals that it wasn’t the Daughters of the Amazon that attacked Dr. Mann’s lab. Cut to the Daughters of Israel, stealing a Blackhawk helicopter and receiving intel from a shadowed individual in a Secret Service office: “The boy is in a small town in northern Ohio called Marrisville.” We further learn that Hero is already on her way to escaping from prison, and, not that it’s a big deal or anything, there are at least two men other than Yorick alive. They’re just on the International Space Station!

Overall, I was less fond of the second book than the first. While I understand the literary need for it, after being presented with a fantastic and imaginative post-apocalyptic, nearly all-female future in the first book, the complications presented in the second made it more difficult to love it quite as wholeheartedly. Still, in my opinion, the work is probably quite a realistic view of such a future, and I would be doing a disservice to our readers to say that you shouldn’t pick up a copy.

Mar 012014
 

Y UnmannedI knew very little about Y: The Last Man before I began reading it, other than the fact that it is written by the same author, Brian K. Vaughan, that wrote Ex Machina (and, of course, currently writes Saga). My very limited knowledge did not even include much about the plot itself. But the comic had come highly recommended, and this past Christmas, my lovely wife and our very own talented author Ben purchased the first four trade paperbacks for me as gifts.

I dove in immediately, and a difficulty I have grappled with since I began reading comics last year set in right away: I wanted to read the whole work all at once. Indeed, just the first page of Y was enough to get me hooked, and made me glad that I knew next to nothing about the work, as my ignorance lent even more power to the revelation that “All the men are dead.” Similarly, I was immediately drawn to Yorick’s character (despite the dramatic name), who is simultaneously obviously very intelligent and charming, but impulsive and, perhaps, even reckless in his decisionmaking processes. Although I have not yet begun reading the second paperback, it seems clear that Vaughan intends to continue developing these traits of Yorick’s, as evidenced by some of his more rash actions later in the first paperback, which is aptly titled Unmanned.

Quite a bit takes place throughout Unmanned, making it difficult to cover every aspect of its plot as well as the introduction of the main characters. But Vaughan’s treatment of the time leading up to the sudden onset of the plague is worth mentioning, as it provides a dearth of backstory for our characters in only 29 minutes of comic-time without feeling at all contrived. Even the final five seconds of the countdown – each of which is given its own panel – is riveting, and in no way does the artistic treatment by Pia Guerra (penciller) and Jose Marzan (inker) take away from that. In fact, they reproduce the effect you feel when frantically flipping through pages at a particularly gripping moment, but without actually requiring you to do so. This is a real achievement in my mind, made all the more special to me because of my unfamiliarity with comic books as a medium more generally.

However, it isn’t just the treatment of the plague’s onset in Unmanned that makes me glad I received several paperbacks for Christmas. Although one of the more obvious characteristics of the work is that there are only (mostly) women left in the world, Vaughan stays away from old, tired, stereotypical treatments of a post-male society, repeatedly demonstrating that women are not fragile beings and would be more than capable of caring for themselves after such an apocalyptic event. Indeed, it is Yorick’s mother, a congresswoman, who tricks him by luring him into the panic room so that he will be safe, not the other way around. Even more refreshing is the group of GOP widows, who take up the political mantles of their dead husbands, and are literally up in arms in an attempt to defend their beliefs amidst the chaos. Just in case readers didn’t get the message, though, Vaughan erases any doubt that his intention to write Y‘s female characters realistically was anything but purposeful. Just before Yorick’s mother heads out to deal with the GOP widows, our eponymous last man, who is shocked that these women have so brashly attacked the White House, asks, “When the hell did women get so petty and…and power hungry?” Yorick’s mother replies, cleverly, “Didn’t you vote for Hillary?” A hilarious joke, yes, but it is more than just that; Vaughan isn’t telling us that the plague made women petty and power hungry. He’s telling us that some of them already were.

Regular old intrigue sucked me in as well, though, with the fast-traveling Daughters of Israel chasing down Yorick’s trail. And, naturally, at the end of book one, I was dying to know where Agent 355 would take us next. I’ll leave that much for next time, though! Let us know what you thought of Y‘s first book if you’ve read it. If not, pick up a copy soon!

Jan 012014
 

Best New Comic

Rat Queens

This was a fairly tough choice between Rat Queens and East of West, but Rat Queens is just too much damn fun to be denied. The blend of dark humor, booze, and dungeons and dragons is a perfect mixture that very much brings to mind late-night tabletop sessions. Sure, there is adventure and fighting and loot, but much like those tabletop sessions, often the temptation to engage in shenanigans trumps all. And so it is with Rat Queens, with the party engaging in excessive booze, drugs, candy, and violence, sometimes all at the same time. Very much a fun read even if you have never touched a d20 in your life, but if you have, there is plenty here that will have you going “Yep… that looks familiar.” 
— Ben

Rat Queens

Anything that makes you laugh as soon as you open it is gonna be good, and Rat Queens was no exception. With an interesting mix of mercenaries in the Rat Queens guild, you get a little of everything and each character is a new spin on an old RPG classic: the mage, the paladin, the rogue and the priestess. In this new comic from Image, you get a refreshing and updated feel for the classics, without taking anything away from them. And it doesn’t hurt that the humor is a little crude and the quips from the guild will have you holding your sides.
— Mystie

Best Ongoing Comic

Saga
Saga is a prime example of what comics are all about, and just what they can bring to the storytelling table. Brian Vaughan has been one of the most consistently fantastic writers in comic books over the past decade, and thankfully that is fully evident in Saga, with a stable of likeable and complex characters, and some of the best dialogue you can find in any medium. Every single character has their own motivations, dreams, fears, and life. I truly cannot find a character I actively root against, even those at odds with our lovestruck heroes, which in my opinion is a marvelous accomplishment.

This is paired perfectly with the glorious artwork of Fiona Staples, which brings to life this incredible universe. Her illustrations are unbelievably dynamic, the facial expressions in every scene especially are terrific, and bring an added element of realism and provide a deeper connection between the characters and reader. This is really where the comic medium shines, when you can bring together the art and writing and form something that is more than the sum of its parts.If you have even a passing interest in seeing what is possible with comics, this is a must-read book.
— Ben

Saga
I only started reading Saga in November after Mystie and I picked up the first two graphic novels at Comikaze in LA, but it’s been hard to put down ever since. Fiona Staples’ art is beautiful, fantastic, and occasionally comically disgusting, while Brian K. Vaughan’s storyline and dialogue make waiting for next month’s release incredibly hard. The characters are probably my favorite part of the work, and Alana’s combination of badassery, sarcasm, humor, and ferocious motherhood is refreshing. She is easily my favorite character, though Lying Cat has his moments, too…
— Joe