September 23, 2020

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Batman Tales: Once Upon a Crime

Batman Tales Once Upon a Crime
Written by Derek Fridolfs
Illutrated by Dustin Nguyen
Lettered by Steve Wands
Published by DC Comics

Riddle me this: What's the best Batman book of 2020? 
Answer: It's this one!

Proving that a good set of characters can be adapted to any story, Batman's family along with the Dark Knight himself find themselves cast into famous nursery rhymes for a variety of reasons (my favorite being Alfred drinking spiked tea), including Damien as Pinocchio, Harley as a princess with a very valuable pea, Alfred in Wonderland, and Bats in a very loose adaptation of the Snow Queen.

September 22, 2020

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Catch It at the Comic Shop September 23rd, 2020

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..

Sean's Picks:

September 21, 2020

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Fighting the Debilitating Worrywart with Jenn Woodall

With everything that’s going on in the world it’s nice to know that in whatever capacity you find your mental state to be in, you are not alone. Jenn Woodall’s Marie and Woorywart is a small, and short, collection of comics that illustrate living with and coping with anxiety. When you live with someone who has, or are someone who is unfortunate enough to struggle with endless losing battles of anxiety it often feels never-ending and hopeless. Isolation at best, and self-harm at the absolute worst, sometimes may seem to be the only solutions that slowly melt away from a series of very bad ideas. With this anthology booklet, the slice-of-life panic-driven moments one feels are given a short moment of tranquility, a fraction of hope that’ll take you into tomorrow, and some realization that no matter how ridiculous your state of existence may feel there is someone else out there sharing it with you.

Feeling as though you are a singular being in a crowded room can drive you into a place somewhere between a frenzied panic or manic depression, depending on the room that it may be. The people that share this space with you (whether they are aware of your worrywart or not) are probably not equipped or able to adequately devise themselves as the person to save you from such moments. A well-intended invitation, the most sincere act of compassion, or an ill-timed act of generosity will make it seem as though the walls all around you are caving in faster than you can run from them, while those very same walls are more than likely just coming in for a warm hug. Everything hurts, and sometimes no action of empathy will feel suitable for your needs. These are the things that inflate feelings of loss, panic, anxiety, self-deprecation, and hurt. These are the things that fuel our brain for those moments it uses to convince ourselves that we aren’t worth the moment of trying, and this is where it makes us into our own worst enemy.

Jenn Woodall, self-described as diagnosed with an anxiety-disorder, captures perfectly the troubled moments one has when all they can feel is an overwhelming sense of panic; a thought that becomes a worry that then transforms into a debilitating pain that all you desire to do is avoid. With her handful of short-form comics here she tells the same story through different circumstance, and in the process it allows her readership to gain access to a momentum toward recovery, even if in just the slightest. The final pages of the pamphlet list several tools to be used to help improve one’s life who might suffer similarly with these pains. Her transparency is appreciated as honestly tells us which ones she has used and prefers, which she has used and dislikes, and which ones she has only heard of but hasn’t yet tried. As always, during moments within that deep pit of darkness that feels impossible to escape, seek professional, guided council to direct you toward recovery. Never keep loved ones at bay keeping them from knowing where your thoughts have taken you, even if you feel that they do not understand or cannot help. For a broken foundation is better than no foundation at all. The loved ones easily passed off as someone who “won’t care” or who “just won’t understand” will unmistakably be the ones who will hold you up and catch you when you fall giving you a shoulder to cry on. Why? Because they care.

No matter how painful. No matter how much you think things will never change; things will always get better if you try. Find hope. Find purpose. Go find yourself, without that pesky Worrywart. 

“You WILL get through this, but you have to be kind to yourself on the way, okay? If you do that, you’ll be okay. You are okay. YOU’VE GOT THIS you beautiful weirdo, you.”  - Laura Lee Gulledge's 'Dear Sad Me' pamphlet 

You can easily get Marie and Worrywart digitally online for free, but for the sake of supporting the conversation I’d highly recommend sparing the five bucks asked in support of her art and making the purchase from her shop on Silver Sprocket.

Created, Written, Drawn, Colored & Lettered
by Jenn Woodall

Jenn Woodall’s website, Instagram, Twitter.
Make purchases from gumroad or Silver Sprocket.

September 18, 2020

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CANKOR: Matthew Allison's Bizarre Trip Through Consciousness

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
This book is a trip. I don’t think there’s any other way to put it other than that. Matthew Allison has been doing the Cankor character for some time now; mostly featured in self-published comics, the metaphysical title character exists in a vast universe busy being.. well, a trip. This new graphic novel collects a previously self-published story told in four sequential magazines by Matt in 2016 and can finally be picked up as a collected read thanks to AdHouse Books in last March of this year. Cankor is a literal "must-read" of the year. Let this recommend come with slight caution being that I wouldn't consider it for younger readers due to all sorts of unfiltered imagery of body horror and word choices that would otherwise cause some to question your particular judgement. That said, I loved it.

Upon my own reading of the book I cannot say I knew what I was about to experience or where I was about to go, but what I can say is once in I wasn’t sure I was capable of leaving. I was trapped; trapped in the spacial confines where my only chance of remembering was with my forgetting as I navigated the surroundings in a place where I once was, just beyond my own reach of recognition. This newly constructed space attributed by the imaginative mind of Matt strangely becomes the only reason for being anywhere at all. Truly a visual experience of its own, clearly not one to be passed by.

Reading Cankor reminded me of prior mindfucks, ones of film that I absolutely adore. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich, and Ryan Reynolds’ The Nines are all on a short list of stories created with purpose none other than to mess with the mind. Those stories are examples of ones that I cannot seem to get enough. Caught in the middle of the story I experience within these stories I find certain enjoyment in following the characters in their respective, and rather messed up, journey’s again and again. Achieving such similar state of existence with a comic book is a level of storytelling that is not explored often enough. Give me more stories that rely heavily on the obscure and strange. Show me a world that takes life and turns it sideways. Bring me inside your head and when I come out I’ll tell everyone who passed on the story that they were wrong, missing out on something truly unique and moving.

In Cankor, Matt tells a very personal story, one that borrows conventional wisdoms pulled from past superhero tropes and repurposes them in this often tragic tale of human consciousness. The story begins as we follow a recluse. The recluse finds momentary reason, and courage to venture out and mingle at a rock show. This unlikely decision to explore space outside the walls of his apartment brings him into literal uncharted territory, only to be welcomed by violence and mayhem. A rather pathetic and as-to-be-expected cry for help soon follows upon his arrival and the scene transitions focus. Attention is immediately shifted to something that lifts our spacial existence beyond any preconceived supernatural understanding of things. Something named Cankor.

At this point of reading I began asking myself very specific questions. Who is this recluse and in what capacity does Cankor serve him? At that exact moment, when these questions began to surface, we are formally introduced to the title character. He is the supposed, albeit unlikely, savior for the poor recluse on the prowl as he lay on the floor, leaking from violence, surrounded by routine rockers, and underneath the towering Cankor. Legs spread and arms folded we begin initial transcendence.

Fading from one consciousness to another throughout the book, Matt does an excellent job illustrating two entirely different universes. One meant for the extreme and intricate, but gruesomely strange being, and yet another for the dull and lifeless creature who cannot seem to motivate self to do much of anything. The recluse, who seems to unknowingly rely on Cankor as his guiding soul, weaves through one transient thought after another through endless threads of self-loathing, and decisions better left on the other side of yesterday. Eventually, as pages keep turning, things become apparent that the world of the supernatural, the one of the body horror, is the alpha to the omega existence of the recluse. One does not exist in spite of, or instead of the other; rather, they depend on each other so that the one has purpose giving the other formative meaning to belong.

Drifting back and forth between consciousness, one glaring difference between them is that one is entirely spent in all shades of gray while the other is painted with flat and dull purples, blues, and grays. The flat consciousness, while anything but two-dimensional, is elaborately explored with several opportunities to get lost in the intricate delicacies of the art. I caught myself on more than a few occasions getting lost in a rather embarrassing staring contest, unknowingly, with the twisted line work of the pages waiting for something to be caught looking back at me blinking first. During these accidental one-manned games of glare, hidden messages, objects, or phrases would jump out at me. I’d be lying to you if I told you I didn’t say “damn you, Matt” out loud at least once during it all. Reading this book has so many variations where your thoughts could wander that it’s nearly criminal how intentional the approach seems. The detail, the structure, and Matt’s imaginative perspective are simply one-of-a-kind when things circle back and, by the final pages, the tone of the story gives itself such a specific and obvious message that it made my stomach drop.

Cankor is a graphic miniature of a bit more than 100 pages that will absolutely mandate multiple reads, all of which you could enjoy on many different levels. Read it slow for the story. Read it again to be uplifted, all while the unique and strange message is found in the end after all the twisted pipes and dripping flesh are permanently branded in your mind. Read it fast for the art, then read it backwards, but slowly, for the art again or for the randomly inserted bonus features. Some of my favorite moments of the book include those breaks from story as the title character is featured in full page advertisements and hilarious standalone strips. There really is no wrong way to read this book; as you go back to it again and again you will undoubtedly find a new detail, an alternate angle, or some new reason to appreciate the infinitely descriptive delicacies laid out gruesomely on the pages of this book. Come for the graphic body horror and stay for the intimacy of self-reflective purpose. If this is the way in which the comic medium is reimagined then I predict a rapid uptick in attentive readership. We are long overdue for a moment of reformatting; a hard reset of the comic book industry. Cankor could (or, should!) become that book where the illustrators and storytellers of tomorrow refer back to the pioneer in graphic storytelling of the twenty-first century with Matthew Allison and his strangely unique superhero (if that is what you would call it), Cankor.

Available now on the publisher's website, you can order your own copy from AdHouse Books, here.

Follow Matt Allison on Twitter here.
Follow Matt Allison on Instagram here.
Follow AdHouse Books on Twitter here.
Become a member of Matt's Patreon here.
Purchase Cankor Tees here.
Click here for all things Cankor.

created, written & illustrated by Matthew Allison
published by AdHouse Books (March 2020)

September 17, 2020

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Matthew Allison Interview

Recently we sat down with Matthew Allison, creator of Cankor, and discussed a few things involving his new AdHouse Books publication, and what exactly the comic book industry is going to do to survive the current sideways state that it seems to be these days. It was with great pleasure to have gotten to know Matt through the course of this conversation and we at Panel Patter are now lifelong fans of his work.

Matthew's bio: "My parents were bats. My wife, an angel. Cankor is... multi-dimensional, physically unfit, humored, flawed, searching, manipulated and manipulative, unfinished, touched and touching, obsessive, a circular reference, struggle averse.
    changing - changed - changing
As for me..."

Well, I guess that's where we come in.

Here is our conversation, and come back tomorrow for a review of Cankor, released earlier this year from AdHouse.

Sean Cohea:    Thanks for setting aside some time for this, Matt. I really appreciate it. So, I just read your new graphic novel, Cankor, and it got me thinking... how did the title character come to be who he is? Was it a slow burn or did the character have a definitive outline from the moment you thought it up?

Matthew Allison:    First off, thank you for inviting me to answer some questions for you. In terms of the creation of the Cankor character it began with his face, which is seen on the splash page that starts off the first story I drew with him in it. The only thing I knew going in was that he was going to be a wreck, both physically and mentally so I rendered his face as a mass of cuts, bruises and bumps. I had just quit drinking at the time while working in an environment that was crushing me and that's how I felt internally. My life was a bit of a mess at that time so Cankor became a way for me to work out some of that inner strife as I tried to get myself together. In that early story, Cankor quickly puts a mask on to cover up the damage he'd done to himself over the years - the symbolism isn't super deep there. I'd been covering up a lot of emotional junk that suddenly came to the surface after getting sober so it was an easy way of illustrating that.

Sean:    That is quite the origin story! Having such an intimate and personal connection like that to a character you've created does it make it easier or harder to reach back for any necessary inspiration to keep the story moving forward?

Matthew:    It makes recognizing and embellishing subtext and symbolism a little easier in that I can figure out characters' deeper motivations by applying my real life experiences to theirs.

Sean:    This new release of Cankor from AdHouse Books is the collection of self-published work on the title that you did about five years ago, correct? Did you create any new content for it, or was the publication merely meant as a catalyst for new readership?

Matthew:    There were spots in the original story that I felt could use some more narrative detail so I drew some new sequences that are peppered throughout the main story. I also did a new short story as well as some additional spot illustrations.

Sean:    Have you ever considered giving this character a more permanent publishing home with some sort of ongoing new content, or are you perfectly ok with where it’s at right now? I realize this isn’t exactly a story meant for all ages, but I’d like to think there’s a manageable market for it somewhere.

Matthew:    I'm not sure what the market would be for an on-going series at a publisher like Image but I may get back into self-publishing and try to get a few books out each year. The beauty of Cankor is that I can take it in any number of directions - from straight forward narratives to more esoteric wordless shorts so the idea of basically doing a one-person anthology book appeals to me and that's likely the route I'll take with future Cankor material.

Sean:    The possibility of a one-person anthology book sounds very exciting. Personally, I would love to see what would come from that! The Cankor story in the AdHouse Books collection is quite like no other, and the way you tell it is very unique. Do you have any personal influences that have given you you’re individual artistic style?

Matthew:    My goal is to create comics that have the same impact, or close to it, as Jim Woodring's dream-influenced comics. Woodring's comics carry you into a defined physical space with creatures and landscapes and other elements that are easily recognizable but then he contorts them suddenly with explosions of cartoonish violence and anguish. With that said I don't necessarily try to draw like him, although I admit he was a huge influence on my drawing style in the 90's before I started publishing. I met Woodring briefly at SPX a few years ago and I handed him an issue of Cankor and told him he was a major influence on what I do. He furled his brow, handed the book back to me and said "I don't see it."

Sean:    This is equal parts hilarious and degrading. How did that interaction of meeting an influencer of your artistic style effect you? Did it have any lasting effect on you?

Matthew:    Well, I honestly don't think he was trying to be mean but rather it was that he'd maybe assumed that I'd be doing something with funny animals in black & white, not superhero style characters. With that in mind, no.. no lasting effect.

Sean:    I noticed very specific nods to comic creators as well as some hidden Easter eggs in the artwork of Cankor. Do those happen intentionally or is it just part of the organic creative process?

Matthew:    Honestly, it's something I want to move further away from going forward. It's a natural thing to throw in nods to people and things you enjoy but it can be a crutch. Arguably I went overboard with it but now that it's out of my system I can just do what I do without feeling beholden to pay tribute to the artists I admire.

Sean:    The final few pages of Cankor is basically a letter to the reader sharing how you were feeling through the process of writing it. I have to be honest, I wasn’t expecting this to be autobiographical. At what point did you realize that’s what the story was becoming?

Matthew:    Making the book partly autobiographical came naturally. With Cankor I wanted to throw in every genre of comics that I'd had affection for and in the 90's autobio was a staple of indie comics. When I was reading stuff like Joe Matt's Peepshow and Chester Brown's The Playboy at the time it was coming out I was too timid to be that open with my own work. I'd considered drawing comics about my own life when I was in my 20's but knew that I wasn't capable to deftly pull off that kind of honest revelation. Even the stuff I did in Cankor is fairly veiled - I could've dug much deeper but chose not to.

Sean:    If Cankor were adopted by one of the Big 2 would he be a member of the Justice League or an Avenger? Hypothetically, of course.

Matthew:    Avengers. Cankor would work well in a Secret Wars type series, I think, although some of the stuff I do with Cankor is more in line with what happens in Crisis on Infinite Earths, keeping it in the mega event arena.

Sean:    What’s one mainstream storyline in comics you’d jump at the opportunity to be a part of?

Matthew:    I talked briefly with Gerard Way about doing a Superman short story for a book he'd proposed to DC that could've been cool. I wouldn't mind working on something mainstream although I don't have any specific stories worked out that I could pitch to the Big 2 personally.

Sean:    Ok. Cankor versus Loki. Who wins?

Matthew:    Cankor always loses no matter who you put him up against.

Sean:    What about the Immortal Hulk? I’d pay top dollar to see Cankor go up against Al Ewing’s green machine.. or even the more classic Ewing monster, Zombo.

Matthew:    Beyond some preview pages I haven't read Immortal Hulk but I'll use the same answer as with the Loki question - Cankor never wins.

Sean:    The comic book industry seems to be at sorts with itself right now. With DC doing downsizing and Marvel doing its best to hold its own while the indie publishers just try to stay afloat. Where do you see comics in five years? And more specifically, where do you see indie comics?

Matthew:    I feel like at some point in the next five years there will be an app - and I'm sure there already is one and I'm just not clued into it - for comics to be read on your phone that will include simple animation and be interactive with games and social connectivity that will be widely embraced. The content will be formatted for that and not really meant to be printed. I can see traditional monthly comics going away and something that is more of a blend of comics, animation and video games taking over.

Sean:    You sell some of your original art and facilitate commissions through your art rep, Inky Knuckles. Do you have any favorite commissions you’ve done for people over the years?

Matthew:    I've started to enjoy drawing Spawn which would be surprising to anyone who knows how much I despised all the Image content back in the 90's. I did a recreation of the Spawn no.1 cover and was very happy with how that turned out.

Sean:    I’ve seen some of your "Cankorized" takes on modern characters. What’s one you haven’t drawn yet that would be a fun draw for you?

Matthew:    I haven't really done a "Cankorized" Hulk yet, since you mentioned him earlier. Maybe a Cankor-Hulk versus Cankor-Thing.

Sean:    Oh! That would definitely be a sight, I'm sure. This is probably a good place for me to admit ownership of the recent "Cankorized" Spidey that you were commissioned. Yea.. that was me. 

Matthew:    That's fantastic! Very good to know. Spider-man is always enjoyable to work on so I was happy to see that one come in.

Sean:    Are there any new things coming? Should I mark my calendar for the follow up to 2020’s Cankor? Let me have a little bit of breaking news here. Heh!

Matthew:    Right now I have some Cankor pages that I'm working on where I have some panels worked out and I'm in the process of finding the connective tissue between them. The idea is to start putting these panels up for my Patreon subscribers, possibly in random order, then once I hit 24-32 pages putting out a short run printed edition. I'd love to have something new in print by June of 2021.

Sean:    This has been great. Thanks so much for agreeing to this. You’ve been very generous. Is there anything you’d like to say, in closing, to other illustrators out there who may be just starting out? Maybe some profound Matt Allison words of wisdom?

Matthew:    The best advice I can pass on, at least the best advice I can think of at the moment, is a bit from a list of drawing tips from one of Robert Crumb's sketchbooks which is: if it doesn't look right, draw it again. I'll amend that by adding that if you do draw it again and it still doesn't look right draw something else. Any time I get hung up on a pose or panel composition and I haven't nailed it by the second or third try I scrap it and move onto something else. Sometimes it's best to give up as long as you don't GIVE UP, ya know?

To follow all things Matt check him out on Twitter, Instagram, the Cankor Comic website, or become a member of his Patreon

Wear T-shirts designed by Matt on his teepublic page.

Cankor is available now at AdHouse Books

Check our site tomorrow for our full review of Cankor.

September 16, 2020

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Slaughter-House Five: The Graphic Novel Adaptation by Kurt Vonnegut, Ryan North and Albert Monteys

A Vonnegut graphic novel, you say? Kurt Vonnegut is undoubtedly my favorite author, and has been since my junior year of high school.* He is one of the only authors whose entire output I’ve read, and he is assuredly the author I’ve re-read the most (and re-reading is not a habit of mine). Like many people, Slaughter-House Five, by way of a tenth grade English course, was my introduction to Vonnegut’s world, but it’s never ranked as my favorite of his novels. But I still enjoy and appreciate Slaughter-House Five. My reticence to mark it top on my list likely has something to do with its required-reading status. And I’m intrigued by the adaptation of any Vonnegut work into graphic novel form, but I’m especially curious about this particular one. Will it click with me as a graphic novel?

September 15, 2020

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Catch It at the Comic Shop September 16th, 2020

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...

Sean’s Picks

Stillwater #1 by Chip Zdarsky, Ramon K Perez, Mike Spicer & Rus Wooton, published by Image Comics
Two buddies. One, a chronically unemployed hot-head, the other, a smooth talking thrill-seeker. Our story begins with the hot-head losing his job.. again, and after a night of celebration he receives a mysterious letter to claim an inheritance left him from an unknown family member in a town never seen. The town: Stillwater. Once the pair of dimwits reach their destination nothing is what it seems and the real story begins. This is pure Zdarsky and it is as clear as ever that he’s having a blast writing this. The chemistry between the two friends, the interactions with others, and the as-to-be expected Chip-charm in the dialogue make it a dead giveaway. The rest of the creative team round out a wildly accessible read with a perfect amount of mystery, humor, action, and pacing to make it a very strong debut. I read this one already and I’m hooked, and in the words of the man himself: “I’m Chip Zdarsky. I write comic books. I wrote this one. I will write again. This is a threat”.

September 14, 2020

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Finding Our Home in Owen D. Pomery’s Victory Point

Owen D. Pomery portrays a longing in the pages of Victory Point; actually, he probably portrays many different longings as each character has their own needs from the English seaside village of Victory Point. The town’s returning daughter Ellen finds that most people want (and find) safety and comfort in Victory Point. Ellen’s old schoolmate Rob, one of the few black people in town, and his white wife run the family gas station, content and happy to be following in the family's legacy. For Ellen’s father, it’s the continued connection to his late wife, who died in a storm when Ellen was just 7, protecting the village’s observatory that she was responsible for. For Ellen, it’s a longing to get out of town as quickly as she can. She may have been raised in Victory Point but you get the feeling reading this that it wasn’t a home for her. Her home was with her father but it wasn’t with the village, a probably important distinction. Pomery’s story shows us characters who want something but it doesn’t show us why they want it. He lets us experience that to have us try to figure out these people's desires ourselves.

Pomery quickly shows us that Ellen is not a local but she’s also not a tourist in this small, idyllic village. Stepping off of the train from “the city” (unnamed but close enough for a quick, overnight visit,) Ellen can’t quite remember the lay of the land. She knows that there’s a little shop near the train station but can’t quite put her finger on where it is, demonstrating the fuzziness of a memory that probably hasn’t been home for a while. She also silently scoffs at the “architourists,” people from the city out to see Victory Point as something quaint and to be ticked off of their list of places to visit. She demonstrates a possessiveness of the village that maybe she doesn’t have any right to anymore. Sure, the people in town know who she is and even invite her out for drinks later in the evening (invitations which she promptly tries to evade) to catch up. Pomery places us in what’s possibly a familiar position for us of not wanting to engage in the past but also not being one of the architourists, walking through this book without really engaging in it.

Existing in between Victory Point and the city where she works in a bookstore, Ellen is suspended in a state of uncertainty. Pomery’s clear line style creates this longing in us that we shouldn’t quite trust or believe in. Part of the initial appeal of the book is Pomery’s cover image, with Ellen standing on a landing, overlooking the village and the sea. It’s a wonderful drawing that calls you into it, to be one of the “architourists” into Pomery’s story. The simple but clear beauty of the village and the drawings look like something more out of a travelogue, of places that you would want to visit, ticking off of some vacation bucket list. But Ellen’s discomfort at being home seeps into your experience of reading the book. Why is she so uncomfortable being here when everyone else is obviously happy to see her and catch up. This disconnect between her experience and everyone else’s makes you question the apparent purity of this place.

But Pomery gives Ellen one moment of bliss in the middle of her journey to her father’s home; she goes swimming in the cove where she spent so much of her childhood. This cove is her happy place. Out of every place she could be, the cove is the one place where she feels comfortable and safe enough to strip down and be exposed to all the world because the cove is part of but separate from the town. It’s her and her father’s place, a place that they shared when she was growing up. Pomery’s drawing of this moment is a wide, bird’s eye view of the cove with Ellen floating in the clear water, looking like she’s floating between the ground and the sky. He overwrites the text following this image, explaining what’s already apparent in the drawing, but it’s a misstep that’s easy to overlook because the sequence of Ellen swimming in the cove is this lovely character moment that gives her and us a nice space of tranquility in an otherwise conflicted story.

As much as it is about a place, Victory Point isn’t a travelogue; it doesn’t focus so much on the physical place as it does on the spirit of the place. Pomery digs out of Ellen’s memories a feeling about Victory Point. What do and what should places mean to us, beyond a nostalgia for a past time? That’s the struggle that ellen faces in this short, concise, and powerful book. Pomery poses questions like this without providing definitive answers. Ellen sees Victory Point one way, her father sees it another. Who are we to say who’s right and who’s wrong in what their village means to them?

Victory Point
Written and drawn by OwenD. Pomery (website, Instagram)
Published by Avery Hill Publishing (website)

September 10, 2020

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Politics is a Dirty Business, and Democracy Just Ain't Worth It - Examining Essential Judge Dredd: America

Essential Judge Dredd: America (1): Wagner, John, Ezquerra, Carlos:  9781781088609: Books

Rebellion has been working diligently to find ways to make 2000 AD and Judge Dredd accessible to more audiences. Like any long-running superhero property, jumping into Dredd can be a little intimidating. But new collections like this provide the proper dose of backstory and relevance to make the waters equally inviting and rewarding.

September 9, 2020

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Debut Issue Quick Hit - Bill and Ted are Doomed by Evan Dorkin and Roger Langridge

I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve watched Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I won’t bore you with tales of Halloween costumes, or tracking down the original Marvel Comics adaptation years after it arrived on stands. But I just want you to know, I’m as excited for the return of Bill and Ted to my screen as I am for Evan Dorkin’s return to their comic adventures.

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Series Review - Basketful of Heads by Joe Hill, Leomacs and Dave Stewart

Basketful of Heads HC
Written by Joe Hill
Illustrated by Leomacs
Colors by Dave Stewart
Published by DC Comics/Black Label/Hill House Comics

If you're in the market for a Horror-action-drama story (with some pretty great humor along the way), then I have excellent news. Basketful of Heads is here, and it's great.  It's a very satisfying, darkly funny, slightly terrifying, hugely entertaining story written by Joe Hill (Locke & Key, NOS4A2) with art from the fantastic Leomacs (whose work was completely new to me) and the always-spectacular Dave Stewart (Hellboy, Umbrella Academy, DC: The New Frontier, many others).  For horror fans, you'll love this. For non-horror fans, there's violence here but it's never gory, and the scares come from terrifically paced action and suspense.

September 8, 2020

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Catch It at the Comic Shop September 9th, 2020

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:

September 4, 2020

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This Looks Cool: Mike Mignola's Quarantine Sketchbook

Here at Panel Patter, we don't do a lot of PR-based posts, but this is just too good not to get on everyone's radar. As announced last week, some of the sketches we've been seeing on Mike Mignola's Twitter account @artofmmignola  are getting collected by his long-time publisher, Dark Horse Comics, in March of 2021 (which should time with ECCC, should there be an in-person convention next year).

The book is set to be an oversized hardcover, and all profits will go to World Central Kitchen, a charity suggested by Mike's wife, Christine. The Kitchen says they served over 25 Million fresh meals in the USA and Spain during the pandemic, with the money from Mike's sketch auctions helping to fuel some of that number.

If you're already on Twitter, you've likely seen some of these. According to the press release copy below, here's some of what to expect:

MIKE MIGNOLA: THE QUARANTINE SKETCHBOOK features Mignola’s eclectic and unexpected interpretations of pop culture characters including:

● Batman
● Dracula
● The General Mills Cereal Monsters (Count Chocula, Franken Berry, and Boo Berry)
● HR Puffnstuff
● Masters of the Universe characters (including He-Man and Skeletor)
● Punch and Judy
● The Tin Man

MIKE MIGNOLA: THE QUARANTINE SKETCHBOOK goes on sale in comic book shops on March 3, 2021 and in bookstores on March 16, 2021.
This is a little pricier than I usually go for a sketchbook (Amazon currently lists it at $39.99) but it's well worth it for one of the best artists working today showing off his skills drawing characters he's revisiting, like Batman or Dracula, and some really interesting choices like the Cereal Monsters. He'd also shared Pokemon creations, but I don't know if those made it into the book or note.

If you like art books, make sure this is on your radar for early 2020. I know I am!

September 3, 2020

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Exploring the Cartoonist Kayfabe School of Comics in Jim Rugg’s Octobriana 1976

by Jim Rugg

Sometimes realism is simply

Jim Rugg’s Octobriana 1976 is a retro comic. It wears its backward-looking style as a badge of honor that he and his Cartoonist Kayfabe-partners-in-crime Ed Piskor and (part-timer Kayfaber) Tom Scioli proudly wear in their comic projects. Of the three of them, Rugg rarely wears his influences as blatantly on his sleeve as Scioli’s Kirby fetish or Piskor’s Image/1970’s mashup aesthetic. Rugg’s Afrodisiac is heavily dipped in the comics that Rugg was fascinated in and trying to recreate but his Street Angel doesn't look like anything else. Or look at his illustrated magazine Supermag where Rugg displays his illustrative chops, using a wide array of styles and media to create images.

Rugg is influenced (who isn’t) but his career isn’t built purely on mimicking those influences, trying to recreate them with a 21st-century flair. After a few years of finishing up The Plain Janes and telling more Street Angel stories, works almost created in an influential vacuum, Rugg’s Kickstarter project Octobriana 1976 reads more like a culmination of Cartoonist Kayfabe’s deep exploration of comics, its mediums, its genres, and its history, The book is the result of research, a master thesis on what Rugg has studied in those videos with Piskor and Scioli.

by Jim Rugg

Rugg and Piskor like to talk about “outlaw” comics and creators, including creators like Tim Vigil and Tim Truman under that umbrella. It isn't a movement but an approach to comics, an attitude about creation that frees the creator to follow their own personal directions in the comics. Attitude is a great word for it; these comics are about their attitude on a narrative level, on an artistic level, and on a freedom level. They’re the bastard children of the underground comics, channeling that counter-cultural movement’s approaches to comics into the genres that the creators love. It’s possible to love both Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Marvel as well as Robert Crumbs and Gilbert Shelton’s more untamed and raucous comics about life after the Summer of Love.

With Octobriana 1976, Rugg follows his own whims and fancies down that outlaw comics path, trying to recreate the feel of old 1970s blacklight posters, expanding what was a single image into a full comic book. Giving in to the coolness of this kind of balls-to-the-wall action, it’s a story about the Soviet Union without ever addressing the politics or beliefs of that nation. The USSR becomes just a symbol in this book, an empty one, that Rugg mines. He uses a major world political ideology the same way he uses the blacklight coloring and thick line work; it’s calling back to a history without ever feeling the need to explore or delve into that history.

And an argument in favor of the book could be that this isn’t a history book which is totally fair. Rugg has no other apparent outward purpose here other than to entertain and he does that. He has created a fun, fast paced comic that’s almost purely visceral. It’s the gut punch of the neon colors, the images, the symbols that whisk you along, taking you away into this short and quick fantasy. Octobriana 1976 is a neon colored ballet of violence. It is one act of mayhem after another, bathed in colors ripped off of a blacklight poster.

Black and White blacklightretro
3 versions of Octobriana 1976 (black and white, blacklight, and retro)

Using flourescent reds, blues, purples, yellows and greens, Rugg’s colors just add to the mayhem of the comic as color theory becomes another tool on display here as he uses complementary colors to create energy on the page. The mixtures of yellow and purple, orange and blue, red and green magnify the drawn action, adding an excitement to every page that goes beyond the mere action that’s being depicted on the page.

With all of these visual tools, Rugg creates Sturm and Drang on nearly every page. This comic is very deliberate in the use of those tools to the point of artificiality. Rugg is digging into all of these visual and narrative influences and trying to synthesize all of them. The reality is that Rugg is exceptionally good at the craft of comics. That’s what he and his cohorts pride themselves on. And you can see that craft in the two other versions of this comic; the retro colored one (think Piskor’s work on X-Men Grand Design or Hip Hop Family Tree) and a newsprint black and white edition that evokes the black and white explosion/implosion that followed the debut of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. These three editions of the comic provide a roadmap to understanding the mentality of the Cartoonist Kayfabe school of comics.

Octobriana isn’t a character and the USSR isn’t a major world power in this comic. They are nothing more than cartoon heroes and villains, symbols purely trapped in a moment that is gone as soon as you’re done reading the last page of this comic. But they don’t matter; all that matters is the aesthetic experience of Rugg’s blacklight fight comic. Octobriana 1976 isn’t a story to get lost in; it’s a menagerie of colors and actions that get you pumping your fist even as you’re digging through old drawers to try to actually find a blacklight to see what psychedelic effects there are under the right lighting.

September 1, 2020

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Catch It at the Comic Shop September 2nd, 2020

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...

Beth's Picks:

August 27, 2020

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Becoming An Artner with Laura Lee Gulledge and The Dark Matter of Mona Starr

It is 2020, and our collective knowledge of depression has advanced rapidly. While we are by no means free of stigma surrounding mental health, there is certainly more freedom of expression surrounding it. Though it's almost certain that the internet and social media contribute heavily to many of our mental health concerns, particularly depression and anxiety, it's also true that they have become supportive outlets for people to process their feelings, and they have opened up a community of sharing and support.

August 25, 2020

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Catch It at the Comic Shop August 26th, 2020

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...

Rob's Picks:

Now #9, edited by Eric Reynolds, published by Fantagraphics
Fantagraphics has a long history of publishing great anthologies, and Now is no exception. Moving into its 9th issue, the series, like any good collection, has regulars (including Noah Van Sciver, who is apparently doing a Basil Wolverton homage!!) and brings in a rotating cast. I'm not familiar with any of the new people, Hartley Lin, Ethel Wolfe, and Emil Friis Ernst, but given past issues, I am sure they will be good fits for the aesthetics of this series. There's also going to a be a 40-page feature comic by Raquelle Jac, who is said by Fanta to be "a remarkable new voice." Now is definitely the time, so to speak, to start reading if you haven't picked up an issue yet.

August 24, 2020

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Sean’s “What’d I Miss?” feat. The X-Men #1 (1963)

Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

How does the bastard
Decorated war vet
Unite the colonies through more debt?"
um... #comics!

Welcome to the inaugural edition of what could become an on-again-off-again as-regular-as-I'm-able, column to our website. Each week (err.. month-ish?) I'll select an issue, or volume of a comic from way back or the fairly current that I've managed to avoid due to intentional neglect, or pure oversight. For obvious reasons (and because my recency bias is overcoming my subconsciousness) this personal endeavor will be referred to as What'd I Miss? And having just recently watched Hamilton, coupled with the realization that I have hours of quarantine time to spend reading things I haven't yet, I've concluded that it be good reason to document and share my experiences here as I read them for the first time; those stories that I probably should have already.

First up: The X-Men #1 (1963)

Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
The Uncanny X-Men #1 (1963) - Marvel

Unsurprisingly, I get a lot of well-deserved gaffes aimed in my direction after admitting to never having read an X-Men comic. To be completely free and clear of any missed remarks, my gap here extends far beyond any ghastly and epic fail in comics to having my sole X-Men exposure from accidental and partial viewings of the first film in non-linear and broken parts. The universe itself has always felt intimidating to me, and frankly, far too established to give me any reason to exert effort in understanding why Cyclops wears a headset or what brought Professor X to be put in a wheelchair. I do, though, manage to recognize the theme song for the 90s cartoon. The one which I've never seen. 
So what is all the fuss about?

Queue self-serving with a purpose column idea for Panel Patter dot com. I immediately sign on to my comiXology account, searched for X-Men #1 and proceeded to initiate the download. I literally had no idea what I was in for.

Pummeling through all 24 pages of the 1963 "classic" debut I wasn't sure where the hook was. Did I read the right number 1? Was I not the intended audience? Answer: yes, and of course I'm not! Since this is a comic from pre-Civil Rights era it was mostly unbearable outside the fact that it housed the birthing place for some of the most iconic characters in all of the Marvel Universe. Cyclops, The Beast, Iceman, and The Angel, along with Jean Gray, Professor X, and Magneto are all here in what Stan Lee and Jack Kirby describe as the Fabulous First Issue. Was it fabulous? Sure. Did it have every stereotype imaginable coming from a book from this time period? Absolutely. Will I likely read more X-books following this? Without a doubt! That ship has sailed.

Jack and Stan did a fine job at casting, voicing, and visualizing these heroes when doing so was still considered innovative and edgy. Although I can't say I necessarily loved this first issue, and I certainly wouldn't call it fabulous by modern standards, but it did leave me wanting more. So that's saying something I guess. The dialogue was god-awful cheesy; everything you'd want from a classic. The illustrations brought me back to Saturday morning cartoon reruns on the living room floor; simply the best. When you reach this far back in comic book history intending to fill a knowledge gap you must also prepare yourself for where you will end up. Jack and Stan were doing their own thing among a pool of their peers all competing for the same thing. (Refer to Tom Scioli's new biopic, Jack Kirby, for insight). This issue of X-Men was literally being born into the foundation of an era, an industry, that hadn't yet become self-aware. These industry innovators were making "that dastardly villain" for the very first time; no fall back in reference here. Those thought bubbles existing only to over-explain an action sequence where anticipation of readership was to be otherwise confused. Magic was happening here. Magic was happening fast. Something was being born and, until now, I hadn't yet witnessed the sound.

I can now say, without reservation or hesitation, that I have read a comic featuring the Professor Xavier. Did my question get answered regarding what brought on the wheelchair? Outside the vague mention of a childhood accident: no. The mystery continues.

Something tells me that this book may have a future.
Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

The X-Men #1 (1963)
Written by Stan Lee
Drawn by Jack Kirby
Inked by Paul Reinman
Lettered by S. Rosen
Published by Marvel

August 18, 2020

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Catch It at the Comic Shop August 19th, 2020

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...

Sean's Picks:

Yasmeen #2 by Saif A. Ahmed, Fabiano Mascolo & Robin Jones, published by Scout Comics
After the first issue of Yasmeen I knew that this wasn’t going to be an easy read. I knew that we were in for a story that was going to hurt as it went along. Here we have a story of a family, told simultaneously in two separate time lines; one from their past, living in Iraq during the ISIS takeover, and the other in the “now” charting their refuge in America. This second issue gives us significant progress in compassion toward the title character. Yasmeen is a broken human. She is a person with a past she left behind but has not forgotten. The horrors of this past are felt so vividly as Saif and Fabiano leave all the gruesome details to the human imagination. I foresee this series to become one of the more sought after pieces of graphic literature to help armor and understand refugees, immigrants, Muslim culture, and the painful reality that assimilation does to people like Yasmeen.

August 17, 2020

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"I Don't Know Who's Going to Read This. I Know it Doesn't Matter." Diving into Michael DeForge's Familiar Face

I’ll admit that I wasn’t quite prepared to read Familiar Face. It is a metaphysically heavy read, one belied by its diminutive size (just longer than a CD case) and its seemingly scattered abstract figure art. But, I’ve read it twice now, and I’m convinced that with Familiar Face, Michael DeForge accomplishes a unique feat, producing a work that is a functional blend of science fiction and abstract art.

August 12, 2020

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Exploring the Path to Mortality in Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillip’s Pulp

By Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips and Jacob Phillips

“The aim of art is to prepare a person for death, to plough and harrow his soul, rendering it capable of turning to good.”

Andrei Tarkovsky- Sculpting in Time

Most stories of cowboys, desperadoes, and gunfighters end with them still living their final days as that cowboy they once were. Young cowboys just become old cowboys and the west never ends. Maybe they’re a bit sadder, worn by time but they’re still part of that wilderness that defined them in their youth. Think of Clint Eastwood’s Bill Munny in Unforgiven; he’s old and grizzled but he’s still part of that frontier world right up to the end. The man and the wilderness are inseparable. In Pulp, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips tell that same story, the last days of the gunfighter, but shift Max Winter’s experience just enough-- he’s not spending his old age on the frontier. In his 60s and living in pre-World War II New York City, Winter makes a meager living writing his story in cowboy pulps. Through his frontier tales, he tells stories of his youth as that desperado, trying to straddle what really happened and what he wished happened. In his writing, he gives himself a happy ending, retiring to the good life down in Mexico, with his best friend by his side. He’s literally the hero in his stories when, at best, he was just another man trying to survive a world that was constantly throwing obstacles in his way. Every heroes’ story needs to come to an end. Even for those of us who just want to be the hero but fall short, the end comes sooner or later. Max Winter falls more into the latter group than the former, more someone who wanted to be good rather than someone who actually was good. At least he tried.

In 1939, a few years before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Winter’s New York City could sense that the war was coming to America and that in many ways, it was already here. The Nazis weren’t just a fascist force an ocean away; they were in the city but the city was fighting their sinister influence. But Max was just a writer, trying to eke out a living telling stories that are a bit more like the west truly was even if his editor just wanted sunny tales of heroes and villains. His own body fought against him; when he tried to protect a Jewish man on a subway platform from a couple of anti-Semitic thugs, his reward was a beating and a heart attack. Trying to live up to societies’ laws and expectations, he just keeps getting reminded of what he is; a man who had made tough choices just to survive. He wasn’t not a hero or a villain, just a man who did what he needed to do to survive. And in his old age, as the pulp work was drying up, being given to younger and less experienced writers, his next choice would return to the life he once knew, having to rob and steal to be able to survive.

By Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips and Jacob Phillips

Pulp is a western, just not a western that takes place in the west. It’s a New York western, complete with its own desperados (in this case, Nazis) and it even has a Pinkerton, a staple of many a western tale. There is even the equivalent of a bank robbery and the need for revenge when the job doesn’t go as planned. So the book is a western, just set in a big metropolitan city rather than the west, but it’s no less wild or untamed. Remembering his past in sequences with hazy, dreamy colors by Jacob Phillips, Winter shows us his past and the choices that he needed to make just to survive. And those choices in 1939 and in New York aren’t that different. Brubaker pulls back on giving us too much of Winter; he writes just enough that we understand the character and his sadness but allows Max to keep things to himself. Once or twice, Max mentions a wife, a daughter and some regrets related to them but the author and the character never divulge those regrets. It’s enough that we understand that they’re there.

Brubaker and Phillips share just as much of Max as the character is willing to share with the reader. An old man who knows he’s nearer to the end of his life than he is to its heyday, Max is a well-worn character; he’s lived a couple of different lives, probably four or five of them if we read between the lines, but is only interested in talking about one or two of them, making connections to the past and the now. Max is an old man who wants to talk and wants to share his stories (they’re right there in the pulp stories that he writes and that everyone assumes are just fiction) but he doesn’t want to reveal too much about himself. There are stories and secrets that he wants to keep to himself. His current wife and his editor don’t even know how much of himself he’s putting into his writing.

Over years and years of partnership with Brubaker, Sean Phillips artwork could almost be mistaken as being rote by now, as being what it is but it’s fascinating to see how restrained he is here; his steady hand gives this story of age and aging a solid foundation. For all of the action and adventure in this story, it’s not a story about either of those. Pulp examines that time at the end, giving a man a chance to reflect even as he has final and lasting decisions to make. So Phillips gives Max room for that reflection, to be able to have those final moments before the end to set things right and proper. Sean’s work is quiet, restrained, and reflective, allowing Jacob Phillips to punctuate this story with his carefully orchestrated colors. His natural colors and lighting help ground Max’s story but these sudden bursts of red and other bright colors throughout the story tie together Max’s youth and old age. As much as the past sequences look different than the present ones, Jacob finds methods in his colors to remind us that we’re reading one story of a man’s life, not separate ones with no ties between the past and the present.

The book opens with Max telling us about the third time he almost died. The first time was when he was just a young buck, shot in the back and having to rely on some frontier doctor to heal him. The second time was only a bit after that, after his best friend and him had made it down to Mexico for a “small and human” life. He doesn’t go into too much detail there. And then the third time was years later, on that subway platform, trying to save another man from a bullyish beating. Throughout the book, Max is experiencing death, maybe not a final death but the journey towards it.

From the very first page, Max is dying. It may not look it as you’re reading the whole book but that’s the story, the death of a man and the death of an idea of the west, of the frontier, of independence, and of survival. The plains and untamed terrain of the late 1800s is replaced by the crowded New York streets and buildings. Max reaches the end of his usefulness to his publisher and is replaced with younger, cheaper writers who are just regurgitating his ideas. But there’s one thing that remains with Max up until the very end— the dream of a home. That’s what he wanted to find one the frontier and that’s the last thing that he wants for him and his wife. Brubaker and Phillips show us Max’s life at these two different ages, young and old, but find all of these fascinating ways to connect them and to show us that this man is still struggling to find fulfillment, even in his last days.

Pulp’s central concern with dying and how we live a life preparing for death give Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips a road to mortality in this book that is more authentic and present than what’s previously been in their work. Their comics have always been focused on the choices we make (see The Fade Out or My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies) but their characters before this have always had hope in the future; maybe tomorrow will be better. And that’s all the difference here; Max hopes for a future, one he knows that he probably does not have.

By Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips and Jacob Phillips
Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Sean Phillips
Colored by Jacob Phillips
Lettered by Sean Phillips
Published by Image Comics

August 11, 2020

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Catch It at the Comic Shop August 12th, 2020

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:
Big Girls #1 by Jason Howard, published by Image Comics
This a hugely (see what I did there?) entertaining first issue about giant women who are humanity's only line of defense against giant men who turn into disgusting monsters. You can read it as an allegory for toxic masculinity, and you can also appreciate it as being a fun romp of a debut from writer/artist Jason Howard. Howard's work in Trees and Cemetery Beach is fantastic, and it's great to see the sorts of stories he wants to tell when he's both writer and artist.

August 7, 2020

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"This World Can Be Whatever I Want It To Be. It Doesn't Have To Be The End." A Series Review of Canopus

by Dave Chisholm
published by Scout Comics

Sometimes a story exists for more than its space occupied. Sometimes a story captivates an audience in a way more than its individual parts could suggest. Sometimes a story gravitates toward something so much more than the fiction it is that it serves purpose to the catalyst of a perspective reborn. Canopus by Dave Chisholm is one such story.

August 6, 2020

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Review: "My Captain America: A Granddaughter’s Memoir of a Legendary Comic Book Artist”

Captain America’s Shield as the family Coat of Arms

Megan Margulies

My Captain America: A Granddaughter's Memoir of a Legendary Comic Book Artist is author Megan Margulies coming of age story, woven with the tale of her close relationship with her grandfather, artist and Captain America co-creator Joe Simon.

It is not a comprehensive history of Simon’s work in comics, but then again, it isn’t meant to be. For that, the author herself would point you to Simon’s own very entertaining autobiography Joe Simon: My Life in Comics. (Click here for an interview with Margulies.)

Rather, this is a very personal story. Readers get a glimpse into the real latter day life of the legendary artist, who Margulies affectionately calls “Daddy Joe.” She grew up 40 blocks north of him in midtown Manhattan. Visiting him was a refuge from her hectic home life in a small crowded apartment.

The narrative switches back and forth between Simon’s life journey and her own. The New York City of her youth was drastically different from when Simon was young, and Margulies draws a vivid picture of growing up in the city in the 1980s.

Margulies’s affection for her grandfather and pride in his legacy—both now and when she was a child—is apparent throughout the book. She describes Cap’s shield as “the family coat of arms,” and named her teddy bear Bucky. She sometimes traveled to events with him, including a visit to San Diego for Comic Con in 1998 where he received an Inkpot Award. On one such trip, her affection for Daddy Joe turned to a sense of protectiveness, and the one time she met Stan Lee she gave him the cold shoulder, feeling her grandfather should have gotten some of the glory heaped on Lee. (Simon himself held no such grudge and spent the evening reminiscing about the old days with his friend.)

For fans of comic book history, there’s a lot of interesting tidbits in the book. “My Captain America” brings Simon to life as a wise, spry and funny man, who loved his family and his art. Readers are treated to an affectionate portrait of a man who never tired of drawing sketches for fans or talking about the iconic characters he created. You feel for him as he gets older and fears of losing his independence, and cheer that he lives to see the opening triumph of “Captain America: The First Avenger.”

Margulies’ own story is compelling as well. The book follows her from her first memories to the birth of her children, and she is brutally honest about times both good and bad with her family. Her relationship with “Daddy Joe” serves as kind of a true north throughout her life. If you're a fan, you start this book jealous that she grew up in the presence of a comic book legend. But you finish jealous of the close bond she had with her beloved grandfather.

“My Captain America: A Granddaughter's Memoir of a Legendary Comic Book Artist” (Pegasus Books) is out now.

August 5, 2020

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Q&A: Joe Simon's Granddaughter on “Her" Captain America

Author Megan Margulies isn't exactly a hardcore fangirl, but she has quite the comic book pedigree. Her grandmother Harriet Feldman was a secretary at Harvey Comics, and her grandfather was legendary comics creator Joe Simon, who together with Jack Kirby created Captain America.

Megan Margulies

August 3, 2020

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Catch It at the Comic Shop August 5th, 2020

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...

Mike's Picks:

Coffin Bound 5 by Dan Watter, Dani, Aditya Bidikar, Brad Simpson, and Emma Price, published by Image Comics 
At the risk of hyperbole, I don’t know if there is another book like Coffin Bound on the stands. Aesthetically, it’s provocative and avant-garde. Narratively, it’s a confrontation of sorts, a head-on collision with the existential dilemma. There’s a punk rock spirit in Coffin Bound, one that wrestles with the notion of nihilism, that uses body horror to question how we treat ourselves and one another, and that attempts to channel the entropy of life to reason with the unreasonable. This is a badass book. (Check out my write up of the first collection here). EARTHEATER!!!!!

Usagi Yojimbo 11 by Stan Sakai, published by IDW Publishing
This new arc is titled The Return, and what better time to return to Usagi? The great thing about a series like Usagi Yojimbo is that there are ample jumping on points. Some of the best are these interlude arcs, usually those that involve Usagi attempting to settle back down after a big event. In this arc, Usagi returns home, but is thrust into action almost immediately as he encounters an assassination plot. No rest for Usagi, but great stories for us

All Together Now by Hope Larson, published by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux
All Together Now is billed as a sequel to All Summer Long, an absolutely delightful graphic novel that introduced us to Larson’s teenage heroine, Bina, during a particularly eventful summer in her life just before starting eighth grade. In All Summer Long, Bina struggled to understand how friendships change as we age, and it looks like she’ll encounter another development in this realm as she navigates the budding relationship between two of her bandmates. Ugh. Middle School drama! Why doesn’t everyone just want to rock out like Bina?!!?

Far Sector 7 by N.K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell, published by DC Comics 
I rarely have more fun than when I read Far Sector. Jemisin’s knack for long form storytelling is perfect for this space opera detective story. And what more can I say about Jamal Campbell? His cinematic style is perfect for such a story. Campbell is willing to experiment with how much he can fit onto a page, channeling Walt Simonson, while adding his own trademark lush hues and perfect facial expressions

Stranger Planet by Nathan Pyle, published by Morrow Gift 
Pyle, who publishes his strip on Instagram, follows up his original Strange Planet collection this week with the aptly named Stranger Planet. Pyle captures human foibles in this alien slice of life strip with a kind of tender wit that cracks me up every time. The trope of an alien able to understand Earth culture without fully becoming literate in it is indeed old and often rehashed, but Pyle’s work has a charm to it that makes his concept seem fresh and fun. Pyle’s cartoons have been a favorite of mine during the quarantine, and this edition will be a welcomed resource to return to for laughter and solace in or out of lockdown.

James' Picks:

Strange Adventures #4 by Tom King, Mitch Gerads, and Evan "Doc" Shaner
I'm really enjoying what the team in Strange Adventures is doing so far. It's weird and interesting, and very different from Mister Miracle. There's a lot that's weird and vaguely sinister. The split between Gerads and Shaner on art is masterfully done, and the focus on Mr. Terrific as the investigator is really interesting. I'm not entirely sure what's going n or where it's going, but I am all in.

Giant-Size X-Men: Fantomex #1 by Jonathan Hickman and Rod Reis
This is a great creative team. Hickman and Reis did the best part of New Mutants, and the two of them focusing on a character as fun and debonair as Fantomex should be great. Fantomex is a gentleman-thief, and a master of misdirection, and a profoundly weird character. I'm excited to see what the team does here.