Comic Corner: Respect for the Indies

Standard

There was a time when all I read was main-universe superhero stories from Marvel and DC. The first independent comic that I can remember reading was a Concrete comic book that I found at my local library, and, let’s be honest–I didn’t like it very much. It lacked the superheroes, rich (or, what I thought to be rich at the time) story lines, and–most importantly to my young mind–the Marvel or DC logo. It wasn’t until I started reading J. Michael Straczynski’s Rising Stars that I truly started to appreciate independent comics. Over the years independent comics–those not under the DC or Marvel main banner–have become my favorite reads. The Boys, Witchblade, Rising Stars, Global Frequency, and A Man Called Kev, just to name a few. But even those are under imprints that can still have quite the impact across the comics world. Where you are really going to find the best indie comics is with the little guys, imprints that only have a few titles, or, even better, self-published titles. Here are a few indie comics that I enjoy and I think you should check out.

The Unauthorized Biography of Winston Churchill: A Documentary

Writer: Erica Schultz Art: Claire Connelly

You can tell from the name that this isn’t your grandpa’s Churchill. Time travel, English dinosaurs, H.G. Wells–yeah, this is something new. In the comic we find Churchill embroiled in the middle of World War Two, looking for anything that can help him to overcome the impending Nazi doom. And his lead scientist has something that may just be able to help him fight back against the impending blitzkrieg title wave.

The main stand-out from this comic is the art from Connelly. The black and white, straight line, comic strip style illustrations help add to the craziness of a time traveling Winston Churchill. If you are looking for a comic book which is short and fun, look no further than this book.

The RISE

Writer: Matt Wahlquist Art: Ryan Winn

The RISE, published by Tartar Sauce Comics, does one thing right: action. The comic moves in pace and tone incredibly smoothly from one frame to the next. There is no question that Wahlquist and Winn know how to create incredibly well done action-themed pacing. The first issue of the series is light on dialogue, relying instead on multiple fast moving frames to help tell the story. There’s nothing wrong with this, and I think that adding in more dialogue would hurt the overall pacing of the story.

Issue one leaves the reader with plenty of questions. Who are the characters? Where are they? What are their motivations for what they are doing? All of these questions are left out in the open. However, the issue doesn’t leave you feeling like you have been robbed. It’s more like the action-introduction of a thriller movie. Sure, there are plenty of questions, but the action keeps you tied into the story, and you know that somewhere down the line all these questions will be answered. I for one look forward to getting those answers in future issues.

Good Guys

Writer/Artist: Neil Alexander

It took me a little bit to figure out why I enjoyed Good Guys so much. There are some things it does that I immediately loved: It makes a clever play on the superhero genre–It’s set in a world where 98 percent of people have super powers (also called Su-po) and the other 2 percent (the No-po) spend their time clamoring over the super powered celebrities who fill their TV screens. The premise alone is great. And that great premise is followed up by writing and art that makes the comic enjoyable, readable, and reread-able.

I think the reason that I enjoyed the comic so much is because of how much it reminded me of other comics of its same ilk that I love to read so much. Good Guys reminds me a great deal of comics like The Boys and Promethea. The comic does not shy away form the ridiculous, and it does not shy away from subject matter and images that some may find inappropriate. It is definitely a comic that you should pick up if you enjoy stories that take the super hero genre and shake it up.

 

Comic Corner: Clearing Out

Standard

Used under Creative Commons. Original found at http://dannyfrank24.deviantart.com/art/Comic-Books-L-I-F-E-301303573

Over the years I built up quite a large comic collection. There was once a time that I would purchase nearly every Marvel monthly that I could. That would amount to about $60 worth of comics every week. Those days are long past. I no longer have the money, desire, or storage room to have that many comic books.

I’ve been working to unload myself of a great deal of my comic books lately. I’ve been using a free service called Yerdle to do much of that. I’ve talked about them before, and I just want to reinforce that they are pretty much the greatest thing ever for sustainability shopping.

There are some comics that I know I want to get rid of. My vast collection of Xmen comics? Yeah, those can go. My DC comics? Sure, most of those will go to better homes. There are those comics that I know I want to keep: The Boys, Fables, Runaways–yes, yes, and yes.

But there are those comics that are in limbo right now. What do I want to do with my Deus Ex Machina comics? Or my Y: The Last Man individual issues? I’m not quite sure. Plus there are a bunch of one-offs and short collection that I am not sure yet if I want to part with. And then there is the question of whether or not I want to build on that collection at all. Do I want to buy new comic books? Or do I want to get them in digital form? Or just rent them from the library?

Collecting anything can be a great hobby. But there can also be the questions of money vs storage vs enjoyment. Right now, I am trying to work out all of those things. We’ll have to see how it goes.

What about you? How is your comic collection? Looking to build it up, or trim it down? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!

Comic Corner: Top Three By Alan Moore

Standard

It’s been a bit since I’ve done a comic corner, and I’ve been seeing a lot of search hits for my last comic related blog post on Superman comics. So, I figured it was high time that I write another one.

When I was a kid reading comics I thought that the only thing in the comics world was Marvel, DC, and Star Trek comic adaptions. That was before I first read Watchmen. A high school teacher lent me a copy, and it changed the way that I looked at comics forever. From that point on I was reading titles outside of the main two publishing houses. Sin City, Man Called Kev, Local, Y: The Last Man — I wouldn’t have read any of these if it weren’t for the writing of Alan Moore. Moore didn’t just change the way that I look at comics, he changed the way that everyone looked at superheroes and comic books in general. The way that he put his own spin on titles like Batman and Swamp Thing and then went on to change the mythos of the superhero in Watchmen changed comics in general. And changed them for the better. If you haven’t read any of Moore’s stuff, I have listed here a short primer of three of my favorite Alan Moore titles.

The Killing Joke

In the pantheon of super villains, the Joker ranks among the most devious and brutal. Before Christopher Nolan and Heath Ledger approached the character in The Dark Knight, Alan Moore took his turn at the villain. The Killing Joke not only shows the brutality of the Joker, his disdain for Batman, but it also gives the reader a pretty good origin story. Put it all together and you have a short, one off comic, that shows you the dynamic created between two of the DC universes’ best known characters. Also, the end of the story has a pretty good easter egg that may or may not be the best ending to any comic book ever.

Watchmen

When you think about superheroes in the 21st century, Watchmen should be the first comic that comes to mind. With Watchmen, Moore broke the old stereotype of the faultless superhero. Instead of being superheroes first and people second, they were now people with flaws that showed through into their superhero identities. Watchmen showed the reader superheroes who were deeply flawed, and superheroes who were more involved with themselves than with the world that they were helping. It can be said that if Watchmen hadn’t be written then comics like Sin City, Spawn, and many others would never have existed.

V for Vendetta

Think 1984 on steroids. The world has gone to shit, and the new UK government is trying to keep everything together. Concentration camps, secret police, and state media are all common place in this post-apocolyptic tale from Moore. Everything looks like it will be status quo, with the government suppressing any dissent — then along come V. V is a champion of freedom and anarchy and a construct of Moore’s political opinions.

Interested in apocalyptic stories? Try out my newest story just published on Amazon, Tim and the Breakup of Impending Doom!

 

Comic Corner: Top Three Superman Comics

Standard

Do you love comics? I do! And why not? They are an amazing combination of two art forms. With fantastic illustrations and captivating stories, comics can trap the attention of both the young and old.

My favorite comic hero? Superman. Yeah, yeah, I know. Superman is a lousy super hero, you say. He’s super strong and can do whatever he wants, how boring. Not quite. If you are just looking at the super strength and flight and x-ray vision, you are missing a whole lot of what makes Superman an enjoyable and well developed character. Here I have three graphic novels that will show you Superman in a whole new light.

20140606-172121-62481061.jpg

Superman: Birthright

Birthright is perhaps one of my favorite Superman stories. It’s an origin story that gives an in-depth treatment to the mythos behind Superman. It does more than just explain that he is a guy from another planet who is super-strong, it also takes time to explain what his motivations are and, more importantly, why he has those motivations. Some of the scenes from Birthright were used in the newest Superman movie, but don’t let that stop you from reading it. Mark Waid, the book’s writer, much like the rest of America, wasn’t much a fan of the new movie either.

Kingdom Come

Another work from Mark Waid. This story touches on the entirety of the DC universe, but it especially focuses on the DC trinity — Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Years after the three have given up on the human race, they are once again called into action. This book has brilliant art work and a fantastic story. Well worth a thorough read through.

Superman: Red Son

A tale of alternative history, Red Son tells Superman’s story from the viewpoint that he landed in Soviet Ukraine instead of Kansas. The story is more than just a cool tale of an alternative DC universe. Red Son also visits the ideas of who Superman is, his importance to the people around him, and what motivates him to aid humanity and not just crash them under his thumb.