June 15, 2018

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AHOY There! New Comics Publisher Sets Sail This Fall

Our friends at Newsarama and The Beat already had strong articles on this, but I wanted to talk a little bit about it as well. Yesterday, a new comics publisher was announced, called AHOY, and while I am disappointed this is not a Lucy Bellwood pop-up imprint, I am really excited to see how this publisher works out within the direct market. As you'll see (or as you may already know from the earlier articles), AHOY isn't just going for new comics with successful industry names--they're taking a more old-school, pulp magazine led by comics approach.

June 12, 2018

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Catch It at the Comic Shop June 13, 2018

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to five items due out this week, with a little bit about why we like them. (NOTE: We use solicitation material for this, so if we miss creators, please talk to your publisher!) Sometimes we might only have a few items to share, other weeks, keeping it to five will make for hard choices. Here's what the team wanted to highlight this week...

June 11, 2018

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Rob's Single-Minded for June 6, 2018

Here's little old me, talking about what I read from the weekly comics stack this past week. Looks like I'm back on the horse of talking about single issues again. Let's see how long I can keep it up!

Dazzler: X-Song #1
Written by Mags Visaggio
Line Art by Laura Braga
Color Art by Rachelle Rosenberg
Letters by VC's Joe Sabino
Published by Marvel Comics

Alison Blaire never wants to be a hero, as the intro text points out, but her sense of responsibility keeps drawing her back in. When her attempts to bring Mutants and Inhumans together leads to conflict between two ostracized groups, Dazzler must once again fight for those who can't help themselves in this one-shot that absolutely nails the heart of Alison's character--and the queer community.

For someone who is queer, it's impossible read this comic any other way than a metaphor for the fact that despite being marginalized as a whole by society, especially in the United States, we can still find ways to divide ourselves instead of uniting together. I'm not going to get further into that, but when I see the mutant bigot trying to say that inhumans don't get to be marginalized like mutants do, I see the same discussions within the queer community about who is and is not one of us. Mags is taking the use of mutants to stand in for oppressed people in the world world to a new height here, with one of my favorite heroes of all time standing up for all of us and I fully admit, I was crying by the end.

Laura Braga's art really works well for this, even if her mutants/inhumans in this comic aren't as, well, mutated as I would have liked. She captures Dazz's energy and powers well, and the expression of freedom and love in the music scenes really shines. In the few action scenes, not quite so much. As per usual, Rosenberg's coloring is top-notch. This was a really amazing comic and I'd love to see Mags take a run at Alison in a full-on limited series, conflicted between her needs and those of the mutant/inhuman community. Maybe someday...

Brother Nash #1
Entirely by Bridgit Connell
Published by Titan Comics

A trucker named Nash with some mysterious secrets works to get his cargo to its destination safely, but when he's attacked, all bets are off, as we learn there are more than human monsters roaming the lonely interstates. Meanwhile, the trucker's friends are in danger from a land squeeze, but not even Nash's skills may be enough in this webcomic receiving a print debut in double-sized issues from Titan.

Katie from Books with Pictures put this in my hands, and of course she knew I'd be immediately hooked. A supernatural story with creatures, mystical dreams, and a weirdo loner who isn't all he seems to be? Yup, just go ahead and mainline that right into my comic veins. I'l forgive a lot if that's your premise, but there's no need here, as Connell's linework is perfect for her story, full of great facial reactions, haunted things that look otherworldly but still recognizable, and a color scheme that switches between being "normal" and "not-normal" without effort. (It reminds me of Marissa Louise, especially in the use of pinks, purples, and oranges.) A few times the action is a bit on the stiff side, but I was impressed by how the page and panel breakdown switches easily from webcomic to the printed page. Connell's got quite a lot of talent, and I can't wait to see where this goes.

If you aren't hooked yet, let me add one last thing: Evil Telephone Poles.  Come on, now!

Red Sonja/Tarzan #2 
Written by Gail Simone
Line Art by Walter Geovani
Color Art by Adriano Augusto, 
Letters by Simon Bowland
Published by Dynamite

Sonja and Tarzan race to face their tormentor, only to learn that it's not going to be as easy as they thought. Underlings are one thing, but Duul may be more powerful than either of them can stop, even working together. Worse, if an old friend of Tarzan is right, their actions may be causing the entire world to fracture. It's a breakneck plot ramped up to 11 in this second issue of one of my surprise series favorites of the year so far.

The first issue of this series was brutal and often difficult to read, but it set the stakes extremely high for the characters. Now we see there's more than personal issues facing the pair, who aren't exactly jumping for joy at working together. Gail's threading some really strange stuff here, in a good way, taking these characters and putting them into a plot that I for one didn't expect. And given she's one of the best-ever at writing Sonja, this has been a blast. I still don't want to reveal who Tarzan's friend is, but we'll leave it "time period-appropriate futurist" and leave it you to guess!

Walter Giovani's linework here feels like he's hitting his stride again--the first issue was good, but didn't have the dynamic, Romita-like feel to it that drew me to him initially. The layouts are especially strong, highlighting action in smaller panels while still keeping a feel of scope and scale. I'm not too keen on this is being colored, though. Some of why I'm not seeing the clean linework is due to the flesh tones being too heavily applied to the characters, I think. Regardless, this series is well worth picking up if you, like me, enjoy comics that revel in their pulp roots.

Sherlock Holmes The Vanishing Man #2 
Written by Leah Moore and John Reppion
Line Art by Julius Ohta
Color Art by Ellie Wright
Letters by Simon Bowland
Published by Dynamite

The game is afoot, but so far, it looks like Sherlock is still one step behind as the attempts to locate Michael Williams continues, even as other plots involving an old foe for Holmes and Watson heat up in this second issue of yet another strong series featuring these characters by Moore, aided this time by John Reppion.

I haven't read all of the Dynamite Sherlock Holmes books, but if I notice that Leah Moore is writing it, I'm always on board. She really has a handle on what makes the character so fascinating, including showing some of his darker impulses and their consequences, which in this story have put at least one innocent person in deadly danger. I read a LOT of Holmes material not by Doyle, and I've grown quite picky. Moore's version of the character is very close to the source in my opinion, arrogant but not cruel, five steps ahead but never expecting anyone else to match him. I think I know the solution to this series' mystery, but Moore has successfully fooled me before. We'll see!

As mentioned when I previewed the issue, Ohta's depiction of Holmes is a little off-model to my eyes. It's more of a generic gentleman instead of the razor-sharp profile of Rathbone and Jeremy Brett, but it's also not a copy of Cumberbatch or, God help us, Downey Junior. He's made the character his own, and I have to respect that from a creative perspective. (Oddly, Watson and Lestrade feel very much as I'm used to seeing them. Weird.) Regardless, his panel layouts are spectacular, such as Lestrade ascending a staircase, Holmes peering in a window, or the look of shock at seeing so many children in one home. It's really solid work that aid the story and keeps the pace. I'll have to keep an eye on him as a creator.

Death or Glory #2
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Bengal
Letters by Rus Wooten
Published by Image

The fallout from Glory's attempt at crime continues as this bloody series continues and involves extremely unpleasant things that I don't want to list in detail.

Lots of folks like Rick Remender. I am not one of them, but I keep trying to see if maybe I just missed something, and his next creator-owned series will click with me. No such luck here. Yet again, we have foul characters, torture porn, and violence everywhere. Bengal's artwork captures exactly what Remender is going for, but it's not anything I want to spend time reading. I included it here in this roundup because I really don't think people talk enough about this link that flows from this work to Black Science to Deadly Class, just to list three of his Image books. It's one thing to be dark, it's another to be attempting to out-Kirkman Robert Kirkman. We can recognize a creator's talent while also wondering why he needs to go to this level. (For example, this series ended for me at the point of gratuitous sexual abuse, included only to make a rotten character even more rotten. I find that lazy.)

Still, if you need a good artist, these books are always well-drawn. I just wish I'd like the story for once. Maybe next time.

Demi-God #2
Written by Ron Marz
Line Art by Andy Smith
Color Art by Michael Atiyeh
Letters by Steve Dutro
Published by IDW

The loser who gets the power of Hercules continues to narrate his story in some really clever opening and closing panel work, fighting off evil minions and running afoul of the police and some mysterious people in this second issue of a series picked up from a creation by Bart Sears.

If I was still asked to give a number to this comic, it would be your classic 4 or 5. It's trying really hard to be clever, but the problem is that Marz is overdoing it here. Demi-God is just too obnoxious to work as a feature character, and if there is a humanizing side to him, we aren't seeing it here. He can't even remember that his friend died a few moments ago, and his creepy obsession with a co-worker doesn't play to a modern reader very well. The villains are played for a laugh, but it's not broad enough farce, and Smith's linework is too standard hero stuff to give Ron a hand. There's nothing wrong with what Smith is doing, but he can't seem to get Demi-God to mug enough for the reader to wink at the joke, leaving us with a big, beefy buffoon who isn't nearly as funny as other send-ups.

Heck, I'm not even sure if this is meant as a send up, and that's part of the problem. I'll likely try another issue, because I like Marz as a writer, but I think this one is a swing and a miss, which is ironic given the origin of Demi-God's club.

Well, that was my last week. How about you? Let's chat on twitter, where you can always find me at @rob_mcmonigal or on the site's @panelpatter.

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The Graceful Aging of Punk- A Review of Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez's Love and Rockets #5

There’s an odd sense of “you can’t go home again” in Love and Rockets #5. It’s odd because both Gilbert and Jaime are telling stories about going home. Whether it’s a tale of Fritz’s daughter Rosy house sitting or the story of Maggie and Hopey returning to the scene of many of their youthful crimes and finding their old stomping grounds not quite as welcoming as they remembered, Los Bros Hernandez’s latest issue is about looking back more than it is about moving forward. As they approach 4 decades of comics (2022 will be the 40th year of L&R comics,) Love and Rockets finds itself wanting to remain the bastion of punk comics but more and more resigning itself to being the survivor of a bygone day of comics, music, and life.

Gilbert, who outside of Love and Rockets is still pushing the boundaries of taste (see his Blubber and his Garden of Flesh, a retelling of Genesis,) seems almost restrained in this new version of the series. For quite a number of years, his stories have focused on Fritz and her family who have ties to the old Palomar but are quite a bit removed from it. Fritz has two jobs; she was a psychologist but that seems to have taken a sideline to her acting career, particularly her porn acting career. One of her daughters have followed in her acting footsteps but her other daughter, Rosy, seems to want nothing to do with that career. So when she has to stay at her mother’s house, surrounded by the artifacts of that career, she’s forced to see herself as her mother’s daughter.

Rosy in her mother's house (art by G. Hernandez)

Exploring the third or fourth generation of this family, Gilbert’s latest characters feel groundless and disconnected from anything that’s come before. Rosy is not Palomar, she’s not Luba or Maria. She’s not even Fritz, with her complicated work history. If anything, this story shows almost just how unformed Rosy is and that’s refreshing in Gilbert’s work. Here’s a character who is trying not to be defined by who her family is. Other of his characters have tried to achieve that but Rosy feels like she may be the one to break away from the ghosts of her ancestors. Images of Fritz are interspersed throughout this story, either pages showing scenes from one of her movies or giant postered walls that depict mostly topless Fritzes (though interestingly Gilbert leaves any images of Fritz’s breasts undrawn.) Rosy watches the movies and stares and the wall-sized images but it’s a detached viewing-- not of her mother but like that of a work of art. Maybe Rosy can appreciate what’s been created but there’s no connection to it as she tries to figure out what her mother’s past means for her future.

June 8, 2018

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Lucy Bellwood Launches 100 Demon Dialogues Book Tour

Monday night I had the distinct pleasure of attending the official book launch of Panel Pal Lucy Bellwood's 100 Demon Dialogues book tour, held at Ford Food and Drink in SE Portland. I arrived a little after the party started and after speaking briefly with Lucy, I watched her signing line grow and grow, and it was like that the whole time she was available.

What impressed me most was that there were a sizable number of kids at the reading. And they clutched their books and plush demons just as hard as the adults. Lucy's expression of her fears and insecurities don't have an age barrier.

The book party itself was extremely cool. Lucy had custom name tags that allowed everyone to share what their own demon says and a table set up for people to draw a demon. Those pictures then went into a traveling guest book. Here's mine, with its dialogue to me adapted due to being in the presence of so many great artists, like Steve Lieber, Erika Moen, Lucy of course, and several others from the Helioscope studio.

There were also decorated balloons, which indicated what was where. Hard to get a perfect photo, but here's an example:

Lucy enlisted the help of Katie from Books with Pictures for the merch table, which I thought was extremely smart. It was nice to stop and talk with her a bit about things. and this is a good reminder that Portland comics lovers should make sure they go to her store on a regular basis. I also talked to Steve and Erika, and several times found myself taking pictures at the same time as Steve, who I think was doing the Helioscope coverage that night.

After a bit, Lucy was interviewed about the book, her career path, and several other questions. She is very open and honest, and one of the things I thought was really compelling was when she shared that since so much of her creative work comes from her life, it feels like she can only do something if it can be made into a comic later. That's a pressure I never really thought about. Lucy also spoke about the history of her demon, who began with a drawing in 2008, if I heard her correctly.

I've had the pleasure of watching Lucy's career grow over the years and this feels like a real moment in time where an audience beyond comics can tap into her work. 100 Demon Dialogues may focus on the life of an adventure cartoonist, but it's also relevant to anyone whose inner voices often tell them either they can't do things or that anything they do will be wrong. It's a powerful expression of sharing--one that I don't think I could ever do in the way that Lucy has--and a way to remind us that we are not alone in our fears. Given the world we live in right now, I think that's extremely important.

When the interview was over, Lucy returned to her chair to sign more copies of her book, and the line kept right on going, ranging in age from about 7 to 70. I left feeling like there was a sense of community between all of us, a sense of sharing that happened in a coffee shop, even though most of us were strangers to each other.

It was such a great experience, one of the best I've had with a comics debut outing like this. And best of all, Lucy may be sailing her way into a city near you! Here's her current scheduled events:

  • June 8th: 7:00PM Brick & Mortar Books, Redmond, WA
  • June 9th: 2:00PM Outsider Comics, Seattle, WA
  • June 12th: 7:00PM Magers & Quinn Booksellers, Minneapolis, MN
  • June 14th: 6:30PM Secret Chicago Illinois Show, Chicago, IL (!!)
  • June 16th: 11:00AM Ann Arbor Comic Arts Festival, Ann Arbor, MI
  • June 20th: 1:00PM Escape Pod COmics with Joshua Hixson, Huntington, NY
  • June 23rd: 7:00PM Eight Cousins Books, Falmouth, MA
  • June 24th: 4:00PM McNally Jackson Books, New York, NY
  • June 29th: 6:30PM East City Bookshop, Washington, DC
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HeroesCon Highlight: Matt Kindt

HeroesCon is one of our favorite shows, and we wanted to highlight some of the terrific comics creators that will be there. You can find all of our HeroesCon coverage here.

Matt Kindt is one of my favorite creators in all of comics. He's created a lot of terrific stories, whether as writer, artist, or both.  I first encountered Kindt's work in the terrific graphic novel Revolver, which played with time and reality in fascinating ways. But where I really fell in love with his work was in his Dark Horse series Mind MGMTMind MGMT stands out, for its gorgeous watercolor artwork, unusual layouts, complex plot, and general sense of existential unease one gets when reading the book. It's an engrossing, dense read (this is not a book you can skim or half-read while watching TV, and I also wouldn't recommend trying to read it when you're tired, trust me) all about a secret organization, people with incredible abilities, and the ways in which we are all being manipulated. 

What's interesting about the series starts with Kindt's overall look and design for his creation.  Kindt illustrated the book using watercolors, and it's hard to imagine the story being told in any other way. Additionally, nearly every page of Mind MGMT appears to be a report page on official stationery to the Mind Management organization (as it contains bureaucratic instructions at the top of each form), so the book reads as if it is prepared by an agent of the organization.

June 7, 2018

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HeroesCon Highlight: Joelle Jones

HeroesCon is one of our favorite shows, and we wanted to highlight some of the terrific comics creators that will be there. You can find all of our HeroesCon coverage here.

I first became aware of artist Joelle Jones' work as a result of her Dark Horse series Lady Killer (written with Jamie Rich, and colors by Laura Allred).  If you haven't read Lady Killer, it's a terrific series with a killer (pun intended) hook - ideal early 60's housewife is actually a paid killer-for-hire.  Jones' art (colored by Laura Allred in the first arc, and by Jones herself in the sequel) really brings the story to life in a way that acknowledges the dark humor in the premise, but takes the main character quite seriously.

June 6, 2018

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HeroesCon Highlight: Andrew MacLean

HeroesCon is one of our favorite shows, and we wanted to highlight some of the terrific comics creators that will be there. You can find all of our HeroesCon coverage here.

I first met Andrew MacLean a few years ago at the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (MassMICE, an excellent event, you should go) where he was promoting his self-published book, Head Lopper and other works such as Department O. More recent years have seen the publication of his graphic novel ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria for the End Times at Dark Horse and the publication of two volumes of Head Lopper at Image Comics. 

Head Lopper is a very fun, violent, entertaining fantasy adventure read. If you like stories with magic and intrigue, and with heroic warriors beheading monsters as they trade barbs with the decapitated head of a witch, then this is the perfect book for you. MacLean's skill as a visual artist are obvious, but Head Lopper is also a great showcase for his skills as a storyteller of wit and humor.  

Because I've been following MacLean's progress on the story of Head Lopper over the course of several years, it's been great to see his evolution as an artist and storyteller during that time. From the very beginning, his line was very strong and he had a very clearly defined style. However, just reading the first to the second to the third part of Head Lopper it's clear that MacLean is evolving and even improving as an artist, as you can see his line get further refined and see his style crystallize more into itself.
The evolution of MacLean as a visual artist and storyteller is on full display in ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria for the End Times (my full review here).  MacLean still excels at the big, dramatic moments of action and violence, but he's also bringing a lighter touch to his work that's on display in ApocalyptiGirl, in addition to a very different sort of character.  ApocalyptiGirl is a book that's full of quieter, subtle moments and interactions, in addition to displaying a sweetness and optimism that's not present in Head Lopper.  Not to worry though, there's still plenty of exciting action in a richly illustrated world.  MacLean's a great talent, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he does next.

June 5, 2018

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HeroesCon Highlight: Vanesa Del Rey and Jordie Bellaire

HeroesCon is one of our favorite shows, and we wanted to highlight some of the terrific comics creators that will be there. You can find all of our HeroesCon coverage here.

One of my favorite comics of the last 5 years or so was Zero (from Image comics), written by Ales Kot. It's a fantastic, cynical espionage series that goes off in all sorts of directions. One of the things that made Zero such a special, interesting read, was that each issue was illustrated by a different (excellent) artist (but each was also colored by the incomparable Jordie Bellaire). Issue #6 of Zero was my first contact with the work of Vanesa Del Rey, and I definitely thought "this is definitely an artist whose work I want to follow".

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Catch It at the Comic Shop June 6, 2018

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to five items due out this week, with a little bit about why we like them. (NOTE: We use solicitation material for this, so if we miss creators, please talk to your publisher!) Sometimes we might only have a few items to share, other weeks, keeping it to five will make for hard choices. Here's what the team wanted to highlight this week...

James' Picks:

Cold War #5 by Christopher Sebela and Hayden Sherman, published by AfterShock Comics.
This is a terrific book. Sebela and Sherman are telling a weird, disorienting science fiction tale of a cryogenic freeze gone terribly wrong. It's dramatic, action-packed, and full of emotion and humor. Sebela knows how to tell an engaging story, and Sherman is a serious artistic talent (his miniseries The Few was one of my favorite books last year).

Ant-Man and the Wasp #1 by Mark Waid and Javier Garron, published by Marvel Comics.
This looks like a lot of fun. It's not exactly the same characters as the upcoming movie, but it looks like an entertaining story all the same. Javi Garron is a strong artist, and Mark Waid knows how to tell an engaging superhero adventure better than just about anyone.

The Immortal Hulk #1 by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett, published by Marvel Comics.
I love the twist of this story, to tell a story about the Hulk as a horror comic, and just lean into the fact that the Hulk is a "monster" (even though he's aso a hero who's saved the world many times over. But they're leaning into his "lonely monster" roots, and embracing the scary nature of the character. Al Ewing is a fantastic writer, I loved his Ultimates book so much. So I am absolutely on board to give this a chance.

Paper Girls #21 by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson and Jared Fletcher, published by Image Comics.
I'm not really here to tell you to pick up Paper Girls #21. I'm here to tell you that Paper Girls is one of my favorite comics in years, and that you should absolutely go read it from the beginning. Brian K. Vaughn is (as you probably know) a master storyteller, with tons of heart and humor and crazy plot twists. Cliff Chiang is at super-boss level as an artist, as every page of this book is a delight. That's also due to the bold, bright, wonderful colors rom Matt Wilson, and the great letter and design work from Jared Fletcher.  This is a story of friendship and time travel and a fight for the future, and a great story of 4 tween girls just trying to figure out hat the hell is going on. It's a must-read. 

Rob's Picks:

Red Sonja/Tarzan #2 by Gail Simone, Walter Geovani, Adriano Augusto, and Simon bowland, published by Dynamite
If issue one set up an interesting if mysterious premise for Sonja meeting Tarzan, this issue ramps it up to 11, as our heroes realize there's a lot more than person honor at stake and only a surprise guest star can help them. Gail is having one hell of year between this and domino. Her Sonja spits verbal acid and Tarzan's emotions are perfect, even as our villain is one of her cruelest, which is saying something. Geovani lays out great fight scenes and his pacing is perfect for each reveal. If you are on the fence, jump off now and pick up this series. You won't regret it.

Hack/Slash vs Vampirella TP by Shawn Aldridge, Rapha Lobosco, Chris O'Halloran, and Crank!, published by Dynamite

One of my favorite series in 2017 gets collected, as Vampirella meets Cassie Hack. Shawn does a great job keeping these characters feeling like their familiar selves while retaining an irreverent air to the whole thing and a reminder that Vampi is more complex than Cassie's usual creatures. Rapha Lobosco on art hits on how to keep the slightly sexy themes visual but not exploitative. Really fun horror series that I recommend.

Sherlock Holmes The Vanishing Man #2 by Leah Moore and John Reppion, Julius Ohta, Ellie Wright, and Simon Bowland, published by Dynamite
Dynamite had one heck of a week to start off June! Leah Moore's return to Sherlock Holmes has been excellent, as she and co-writer Reppion capture the iconic character's quirks well, while building a mystery that's only starting to be revealed. There's a definite sense of menace as the plots begin to weave together. Ohta's depiction of Holmes is a little off-model to my eyes, but I like how he captures movement and the pacing of the mystery works well from a visual perspective, so I'll forgive that Holmes doesn't look like he has, even within other Dynamite stories. If you're a fan of the characters, give this a go.

Dazzler X Song by Mags Visaggio and Laura Braga, published by Marvel Comics
Dazzler as a punk rocker. This is not a drill.
I've been waiting for this one-shot since it was announced. I absolutely love Allison and have since I first encountered here in an old Amazing Spider-Man comic. Based on the preview text, Mags gets the concept of Allison just wanting to sing, but finding it impossible to not to help others. And with Braga on art, this should be spectacular. Is it Wednesday yet?

June 4, 2018

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HeroesCon Highlight: Ryan Bodenheim and Michael Garland

HeroesCon is one of our favorite shows, and we wanted to highlight some of the terrific comics creators that will be there.  You can find all of our HeroesCon coverage here.

You know how peanut butter is great, and chocolate is great, but when you put them together it's just magic?  Well, the same is true for the work of illustrator Ryan Bodenheim and colorist Michael Garland. I'm a huge fan of each of their work independently. Garland is terrific colorist with a diverse skill set, such as on The Black Monday Murders where he seamlessly moves between "gritty procedural" and "insane dark magic".  Bodenheim is the artist on the terrific, darkly clever superhero story Halcyon, another one of my all-time favorites. And together, they're the art team on some really special comics, and their work complements each others strengths.  

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Being True, an LGBTQ Comics Anthology, Now Live on Kickstarter

Being True, the anthology its editors describe as “an uplifting celebration of LGBTQ life and identity,” is currently live on Kickstarter and looking for support. This latest anthology from the Boston Comics Roundtable (BCR) aims to highlight the beauty and strength you can find by being true to yourself. The goal of the book is to tell about 85 pages worth of joyful, loving stories from the LGBTQ community, printed in black and white with a color cover.

The anthology is edited by BCR members Renie Jesanis, Steph Glass, and Kyri Lorenz. Jesanis came up with the idea after attending FlameCon in 2017. 

“I thought ‘gee, we have enough LGBTQ people in the Boston Comics Roundtable, why don’t we do a queer anthology?’ As always happens when you suggest an idea, the first reply was ‘That’s a great idea! You should totally do it!’” said Jesanis. “So I took up the process of gathering a team and getting the ball rolling with the rough idea of a theme of ‘What does being true mean to you?’”

While a good chunk of the book’s over twenty contributors are from the Boston area, they also reach as far as Poland and Brazil. See the full list of contributors below:

  • Sistrum: Monika Rak, Beata Sosnowska, Voyk, Magda Wielgolaska
  • Beth Barnett
  • Sushi D.
  • Echo
  • Jen Epervary
  • Steph Glass
  • Renie Jesanis
  • Skylar Kardon
  • Barbara Kochman
  • Zuu Kochman
  • Ali L.
  • Kyri Lorenz
  • Patrícia Loupee
  • Margaret Love
  • Khale McHurst
  • Aiden Moore
  • Catalina Rufín
  • Jamie Sherman
  • Scarlett Shiloh
  • Liz Young
  • Rook Zheng
“Our creators range from seasoned veterans to First-Time-Publishers and rookies looking to get their start.  We really think that the strength of this anthology is the variety of skill and genre,” mentioned Jesanis.

Cover artist LB Lee is well-known for their mental health comics as well as their memoir series All in the Family and book The Homeless Year. Catalina Rufin is known for their Fairy Warriors series as well as their stunning travelogue A Passion for Scotland. Editor Kyri Lorenz, Rufin, and Beth Barnett were all included in the most recent BCR anthology Spellbound Vol. 2. Khale McHurst is known for the comics projects I Do Not Have An Eating Disorder and the ongoing Polyamory Isn’t For Everyone. For many, this will be some of their first formal publications.

According to the editors, the stories in the anthology span a broad range of genres, both fiction and nonfiction, including slice of life, fantasy, science fiction, and more. The editors mention a goal of the project is to represent LGBTQ people in as many genres as they can.

“There's a piece talking about finding a label that feels right. A piece about being trans and not conforming to society's expectations of your gender, and the validity of expressing yourself even if people don't understand it. There's a superhero story about finding allies in unexpected places. I could talk about each of them because we've got such a great spread, but I'll leave it at that,” said Lorenz.

One of Glass’s favorite pieces comes from the Polish creative team Sistrum: “There are four of them - Monika, Magda, Beata, and Voyk. Their submission is technically three stories, from different members about their experiences with lesbianism and their gender and what have you, but illustrated all by Beata, so the style ties them together. I think they're really great, I was so excited when they submitted.”

The editors have also dedicated themselves to curating a book that is appropriate for a younger audience, keeping the material PG-13.

“We decided midway through the process of gathering our contributors that this was not going to be a book about how terrible it is to be gay or trans. There's already way too much media like that, about how our lives end in tragedy. Of course there is some discussion of homophobia - it is an inextricable part of LGBTQ life - but our contributors oppose that, and fight against it by taking pride in their identities. The idea that being LGBTQ is good and that being true to yourself will make things better is a message that kids need to hear, whether they're LGBTQ or not,” Glass explained.

In Being True, the editors are striving to present a positive and invigorating collection of stories about LGBTQ life.

“When we got the pitches, we noticed that unintentionally they were overwhelmingly uplifting, positive stories with happy endings. So much of queer media follows the whole ‘bury your gays’ theme, so we are all really excited to buck that trend and start to change the conversation from LGBTQ characters being overwhelmingly tragic figures to heroes and victors,” said Jesanis.

The initial goal of the Kickstarter is $5,000, which will cover the printing costs for 300 books, paying their cover artist LB Lee, and paying contributors a wage of $30 per page, as well as any Kickstarter fees and taxes. Any additional funds raised will increase the payment for contributors. The Kickstarter discusses the editorial team’s admirable desire to make sure the artists are not only paid but paid well. 

“LGBTQ creators struggle oftentimes to find paid work. ‘Exposure’ doesn’t pay rent or medical bills, so for this anthology to be considered a success in our minds, the contributors need to be paid for their time and effort. This is where the Kickstarter comes in and really helps move us in the right direction and, if we are fully funded, pay our creators for their work,” said Jesanis.

For $5, you can back the project and get a sticker as well as acknowledgment in the book. For $15, you can get a physical copy of the book, a sticker, as well as an in-book acknowledgment. There are two special retailer tiers at $30 and $50. Also, there are higher tiers that grant a copy of the anthology as well as advertising space in the book with a quarter page ad at the $100 level and a half page ad at the $200 level.

The Boston Comics Roundtable is the oldest and largest community of independent cartoonists in the Boston area. They meet weekly in Cambridge to discuss members’ work and any relevant comics news. The group has over a decade of collective publishing experience and has successfully published many past anthologies, with over a dozen anthologies credited to the organization.

“I'm really just excited that we were able to promote the voices of LGBTQ independent artists,” said Glass. “It can be hard to find a publication or project that will take a chance on you when you're not a big-name artist, and these pieces are really so beautiful and cool.” 

While there are only a few art samples to currently browse, the video is thorough and the ideas behind the anthology are thoughtful and passionate. The examples that are provided show a varying range of different styles that look intriguing. I’d encourage you to check it out!

June 2, 2018

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A Visit to the IDW Portland Office

Last night, I had the pleasure of stopping by the IDW Portland office for the first time, as part of an open house they set up to recognize Full Bleed (IDW's massive comics-related journalistic foray) and also the release of IDW's new Judge Dredd: Under Siege. Writer Mark Russell was on hand to sign copies of the first issue:

Mark Russel, seated, in conversation, while Dirk of IDW (plain shirt) talks to guests)

June 1, 2018

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HeroesCon Highlight: Kyle Starks

HeroesCon is one of our favorite shows, and we wanted to highlight some of the terrific comics creators that will be there.  You can find all of our HeroesCon coverage here.

If you're not familiar with the work of comics creator Kyle Starks, you're really missing out on hilarious, dramatic and affecting comics. I first became aware of Starks' a few years ago when he was running a Kickstarter for his comic Sexcastle (later published by Image Comics). Sexcastle (a sample page is below) is a fantastic homage to 80's action films like Cobra and Commando. Starks combines outrageous humor, occasionally absurdly graphic violence, and furious action into a terrific, high-energy read. Starks' style is deceptively simple and relatively minimalist in most scenes (not a lot of time spent designing detailed backgrounds). Starks' style may be deceptively simple and spare, but don't let that give you any misconceptions about Starks' skill as a storyteller. He focuses on the main action and what matters to the story, and as a result he engages in crisp, economical storytelling.  Starks is also a fantastic storyteller when it comes to action and fight sequences - while some of the action is hyperviolent in an exaggerated, comic way, Starks' storytelling is always clear and easy to follow.   

May 31, 2018

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Heroes Con Highlight: Chuck Forsman and Automa 1 and 2

HeroesCon is one of our favorite shows, and we wanted to highlight some of the terrific comics creators that will be there.  You can find all of our HeroesCon coverage here.

What's Heroes, you ask? Well, James Kaplan was along earlier to tell you about one of the best comic shows around!

Chuck will be at Heroes Con, where he may have a few of these on hand to sell, I'm not sure. He'll definitely have Revenger and maybe even some End of the Fucking World and I Am Not Okay with This. Chuck's a multi-talented guy we've covered often over the years, and for our Con spotlight I picked out one of his new projects, Automa...

Written and Illustrated by Charles Forsman
Self-Published via Patreon

A man who speaks with his fists picks up an orphan from the hospital for mysterious reasons while another figure tries to stop him in the first two issues of a new series from the author of Revenger and The End of the Fucking World.

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You Should Head To Heroes Con

HeroesCon is coming up in Charlotte, NC from June 15-17, and if you're in the area or can make it down, I strongly recommend it.  I attended two years ago, and am looking forward to attending again this year.  HeroesCon is probably my favorite large convention I've attended, because more than any other (at least that I've personally experienced), HeroesCon is squarely focused on comics.  I know that TV and movie stars are a big draw for many conventions, and I'm happy people enjoy those interactions, but it's never really been of much interest to me. My interests squarely lie with comics, and the people who create them. If you feel the same way, then HeroesCon is a perfect convention for you. In addition to a very impressive lineup of comics creators, HeroesCon also typically runs a very strong lineup of panel discussions; in particular I remember attending a strong panel on Hip-Hop and Comics.

Charlotte Convention Center
As far as comics creators, there's going to be a big selection that runs the gamut, from legendary and veteran creators (like Jim Steranko, Don Rosa, Brian Stelfreeze and Tony Harris), to prominent current writers, artists and writer-artists (Jason Latour, Joelle Jones, Declan Shalvey, Babs Tarr) to up-and-coming creators and a huge artists alley.  There is also typically a very strong vendor presence. One of the highlights I recall from a few years ago was the Saturday night art auction, a really fun event which took place at the Westin next door.

Over the next few weeks, we will be highlighting a number of terrific comics creators who will be in attendance, please stay tuned for those.

HeroesCon is a great show - large enough to attract many interesting comics professionals, and small enough not to be overwhelming. I look forward to seeing you there! 

May 30, 2018

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Rob's Single-Minded for May 30th, 2018

Awhile back, I created the idea of Single Minded to talk briefly about the books of the week. As we continue to build the site here in 2018, we're working to bring it back. Here's my thoughts on some of the things I read that came out on May 30th, 2018. Let's see if we agree!

Hack/Slash Resurrection 7
Written by Tini Howard
Line Art by Celor
Color Art by K. Michael Russell
Letters by Crank!
Published by Image Comics

Cassie and Vlad get recruited by the investigators Cat and Dog to ride shotgun on a haunted house investigation led by a strange husband and wife team. When things go inevitably south, Cassie and company face a different kind of horror from the usual murders they deal with in a comic that was the highlight of my reading week.

May 29, 2018

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Catch It at the Comic Shop May 30, 2018

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to five items due out this week, with a little bit about why we like them. (NOTE: We use solicitation material for this, so if we miss creators, please talk to your publisher!) Sometimes we might only have a few items to share, other weeks, keeping it to five will make for hard choices. Here's what the team wanted to highlight this week...

May 28, 2018

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You Should Go to a Where We Live Signing

In a better world, we wouldn't need this comic. But we don't. We live in an America that prefers unrestricted guns to human lives. As we continue to work for gun reform, projects such as this one--an all-star benefit comic--do what they can for the families torn apart by gun violence.

For those who may have missed the announcements, Where We Live was created in response to the Las Vegas shooting from this past October. (I personally found out about it as the first thing I learned after stepping off a plane from London to America, and the contrast wasn't lost on me.) 100 percent of the proceeds are being donated to the survivors, and the anthology itself contains 70 stories from 150 creators, clocking in at a whopping 300 pages.

I haven't seen something this big as a tribute since the 9/11 comics. And the creators involved, ranging from the biggest names (J.M. DeMatteis, the Allreds, Mike Mignola, Gail Simone, Greg Pak, Amy Chu, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Cliff Chiang, just to name a few) to Panel Pals (Aaron Duran, Monica Gallagher, Lela Gwenn, and Marissa Louise, for example). You can see the whole list here at Image's site. It's a really powerful group of creators and I couldn't be happier to see so many names I respect doing something positive like this.

Over the course of this week and next, there will be several signings across the country. Here are the ones I know about, posted via Twitter. I'm going to try and make the one in Portland, if at all possible. For a full list of the creators at each location, please see this tweet.


5:00pm to 8:00pm: Fallout Shelter, Highland Park, NJ

6:00pm to 9:00pm: Golden Apple Comics, Los Angeles, CA


12:00pm to 4:00pm: The Comic Book Shop, Wilmington, DE

2:00pm to 6:00pm: Alternate Realities, Las Vegas, NV


6:00pm to 8:00pm: Books with Pictures, Portland, OR


6:00pm: Barnes and Noble Tribeca, New York, NY

Even if you can't make one of these events, I urge you to pick up this comic. Beyond the talent involved, we need to show that as comics fans, we will not tolerate gun violence and will do all we can to help those who suffer from it.

May 27, 2018

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There's Still Time to Nominate for the 2018 Ringo Awards

Last year marked the debut of a new award at the Baltimore Comic Con (a show I used to attend regularly when I lived in the city), the Ringo Awards, named for the popular late creator, Mike Wieringo. They're coming back for 2018, and until May 30th, anyone, fan or pro, has the opportunity to nominate for the awards.

The rules for the award can be found here, and they're a bit lengthy due to being a hybrid nomination system. The short version is that the top two picks in open nomination and the top three picks in juried nomination make it to the final ballot, which is voted on by pros only. This reduces, at least in theory, ballot stuffing. All nominations must be based on the prior calendar year (so in this case, 2017).

Here are the categories:
  • Best Cartoonist (Writer/Artist)
  • Best Writer
  • Best Artist or Penciller
  • Best Inker
  • Best Letterer
  • Best Colorist
  • Best Cover Artist
  • Best Series
  • Best Single Issue or Story
  • Best Original Graphic Novel
  • Best Kids Comic or Graphic Novel
  • Best Anthology
  • Best Humor Comic
  • Best Comic Strip or Panel
  • Best Webcomic
  • Best Non-fiction Comic Work
  • Best Presentation in Design
Last year's winners are listed here, and I hope they improve the presentation a bit for the future. I found trying to see who the winners were rather difficult. They include creators such as Tom King, Fiona Staples, Todd Klein, and more, alongside titles such as March Book 3, the Love is Love anthology, and Bloom County.

People's opinions on awards vary, but it's always fun to get nominated for something (just how fun I learned when we got nommed for an Eisner), so it's cool to see this continue into a second year. Remember that nominations close on May 30th, so if you want to participate, head on over to the Ringo Awards site soon. May your favorites make the final list!
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Queer Comics Database Debuts

Here at Panel Patter, we are proud to give attention to books featuring queer representation and work by queer creators. I'm always excited when additional resources that help shout out great work by and about queer people are created, such as Mari Naomi's excellent Queer Creators Database.

Yesterday, I was delighted to see that a new site opened up dedicated to finding queer-centric comics, called, appropriately enough, the Queer Comics Database.  Co-created by Aydin Kwan and Le Button as a capstone project for school, the site's tag line is "Discover your next queer read."

Opening with a page that gives you a random comic to read (currently for me the comic suggested is "Oh Human Star" by Panel Pal Blue Delliquanti--excellent choice!), the site's set-up is pretty straightforward and easy to navigate, with sections such as "Browse Creator," "Browse Series," and also a ton of tags at the bottom of the page that break things down into categories. You can also use a filter program on the left. It's pretty nifty.

The creators' goal isn't to be a gatekeeper. They aren't judging the quality of the comic, how "queer" the work or the creator is, and so on. It's designed to point you in the direction of queer comics, not to tell you which ones to read. They leave that to sites like, well like this one. :)

Here's their statement on the site's purpose:


Our mission is to facilitate access to comics that contain queer representation. This includes:
  • Comics published in print and on the web.
  • Comics from major publishers, independent publishers, and self-published comics.
  • Comics for children, teens, and adults, as well as all-ages comics.
  • Representation from across the LGBTQIA spectrum, as well as intersectional representation.


Our focus is on the content of the work, rather than on the creators. Whether a work is “own voices” is beyond the scope of this site. If you are looking for a database of queer-identified creators, we recommend the Queer Cartoonists Database.
Although we strive for accuracy, our focus is on substantive representation. The site is not intended to be comprehensive, and there may be partial or incomplete information, especially regarding content warnings. This is not a recommendations site, and inclusion in the database does not represent an endorsement of any creators or content.
While probably not something I would personally use on a regular basis--I'm buried up to my neck in comics--I'm really glad to see a resource like this exists. I think it will be extremely helpful for school libraries and other places wishing to increase their queer content. They encourage people to submit additional works to the database as well, so if you're so inclined--or have a comic of your own to share--there's a way to do that, too.

You can visit the database here, and I highly recommend that you do!

May 25, 2018

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Babyfat by M. Dean

Created by M. Dean
Published by M. Dean

Babyfat by M. Dean begins with a wedding: Roberta’s whirlwind Las Vegas betrothal and marriage to Pepe, a young man trying to avoid Vietnam through marriage deferment. We’re sucked into Roberta’s dreamlike fantasy, examining what she wants her life to be as she figures out who she is and where she’s going versus the cracks in the facade of her desires.

At its core, the 20-page, full-color comic is a story about the struggle between wanting to grow up and what growing up actually entails. Roberta is ready to take the next steps in her life: get married, move out of her parents house, get a job, start her life. But nothing is what she had expected or quite what she wants it to be. The piece is an examination of playing at adulthood.

The interiors are composed of a grid of panels: delicate and thoughtful linework and seductive color choices depicted in detail at 8.5 x 11. Dean’s palette of pastels are eye-catching, splashes of red, blue, and green. A number of motifs are emphasized through color, alternatively highlighting naive hopes and sexuality, the harshness of reality, personal growth, modernism, and the steadfast grip of the past. The grid helps the story breathe and sets the pace. It reflects mirrors, a kitchen floor, the vast expanse of the desert, a torn letter. It illustrates the passage of time as well as no time passing at all, forcing the reader to luxuriate in the moment shown. In its use, the grid nearly becomes a character itself.

The story is told in looping cursive, narrated by our protagonist’s inner thoughts and musings. It alternates between this inner dialogue and short vignettes with her would-be husband, coworkers, friends, and family, each scene displaying the difference between what Roberta expects and the solidness of her reality. 

I believe Dean’s greatest achievement in this piece is the absolute sense of time and place. She taps into the feeling of the decade, as if she’s reached through time and pulled you into the sixties. The advertisements, the clothing, the music, and all the small background details put you right where Dean wants you to be. The clothing choices are a lovely touch, marking not just the time period but also the passage of time.

The story Babyfat tells is small in scope and beautifully quiet. It’s internal and fleeting, but it’s also deeply familiar. It’s a striking, compelling piece that captured my attention entirely since the first time I’ve read it and every time since. I’m eagerly anticipating Dean’s first collection of short stories titled I Am Young from Fantagraphics this fall. Keep an eye out!