April 20, 2018

April 18, 2018

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"All for an Idea"- a review of Frank Miller's Xerxes #1

A new Frank Miller comic can be a time of paralyzing dread or child-like anticipation. And let’s be honest, a lot of Miller’s 21st-century work has favored the dread more than the anticipation. Holy Terror is still an ambitiously drawn abomination of a story. Maybe the last time that the creator met anything like universal acclaim was the first Sin City story in Dark Horse Presents or maybe it goes all the way back to Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One. Among all of his work, his 300, a story of the ancient Spartans originally released in 1998, remains maybe one of the least explored works of his, even if it did inspire two movies. That comic feels more like the ancestor of Miller’s 1983 samurai science fiction epic Ronin more than it ever did a predecessor of its more contemporary work like The Dark Knight Strikes Again or All-Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder.

300's new sequel series (or is it a prequel?) Xerxes: The Fall of the House of Darius and the Rise of Alexander #1 (henceforth referred to here just as Xerxes #1) is the work of a seasoned professional who knows all of the visual shortcuts to use without it ever feeling like he’s skimping on the work. Centered on two battles between the ancient Athenians and Persians, Miller’s story focuses on the strategies of war circa 490 B.C. when war was up close and fought with spears and swords. The nobility and skills of the Athenians are on display, as is their pride. Only three characters really get explored in this story; the captain Themistokles, the warrior Aeskylos, and the strategist Miltiades (a “fop” according to Themistokles.). Their enemies, the Persians and the Ethiopians, are nameless as they are merely armies and not people in Miller’s story.

While things like “justice” and “honor” may be implied in the apparent heroism of the Athenians, the questions of why this war and what is it about remain largely unanswered until the very end. Xerxes #1 is a war comic as Themistokles, Aeskylos and their own largely faceless armies hack at their enemies. The war is the story of this first issue but not the reasons for war. As Miller draws these very different armies, either the fully clothed Persians and Ethiopians or the loinclothed and helmeted Athenians, there’s very little else other than their appearances to tell them apart. At this stage of the war, there is no right and wrong, no good and evil; there is just the us-versus-them that’s part of every battle in history.

The important thing to remember is that this is not the Frank Miller of 1983, 1986, 1996 or even 2011. The artwork in Xerxes #1 is by a Miller who has the time and inclination to lay down only the marks that advance his story. From the nearly identically detailed uniforms of the Persians to the repeated battle formations of the Athenians, Miller creates with pen and brush the repetition that other artists would use Photoshop for, creating a sense of uniformity and even steadiness in these forces without every reducing them to being just another body. Sure they may not get names or even faces, but the skill spent in drawing and defining them establishes them men and soldiers on the battlefield.

The recent reunion of Miller and Klaus Janson on DC’s Dark Knight III: The Master Race demonstrated just how far apart these once totally in sync collaborators have grown apart. If anything, Janson’s inks over Miller took a necessary edge off of Miller’s artwork. There was a polish to it but it lacked the precision of tone that Janson so perfectly complemented in those older comics. On his own in this comic, Miller’s final inked marks are terse and taut, being as minimalistic or as haphazard and chaotic as required. It’s still exciting to see Miller drawing comics because he has been an artist that’s never been satisfied with finding a style and sticking to it. While his art is almost instantly recognizable, he is an artist that lets his story define how he’s going to tell it rather than trying to fit a story into an established and commoditized formula.

It’s fascinating to see how Miller uses patterns and repetition in this comic, mostly when drawing the armies. As much as it’s just easy to tell the sides apart thanks to the repeating visual motifs, it also creates the sense of the size of these armies. Except for a few really large spreads, there are few pages or panels that are just filled with Geoff Darrow levels of characters or details. But the use of the repeated poses creates the sense of large numbers of soldiers fighting. But it also generates this amazing sense of movement and clashing in these pages. One page features just three horizontal panels of characters lined up side by side or single file but the way that Miller knows that we’ll read these figures from left to right captures movement, time and momentum in these images.

Sadly missing this time around is Lynn Varley. Instead of Varley, Alex Sinclair colors Miller’s work here. Far more a traditionalist than Varley ever was, Sinclair’s colors at best don’t get in the way of Miller’s artwork and, at their worst, feel overwrought and emotionally flat. The handmade tone of Miller’s rough-hewn artwork and traditional hand-lettering is undone by computerized and colors that rarely has the same organic feel as the rest of the issue does. It’s highfalutin to say that Sinclair colors Frank Miller’s work while Varley paints it but that’s the difference in this series from Miller’s earlier comics.

Xerxes: The Fall of Darius and the Rise of Alexander #1 is from a different Frank Miller than the one who did 300, Ronin, Sin City or The Dark Knight Returns. Building on the lessons of all of those earlier works, Miller has found a way to simplify this artwork while trying to wring as much narrative momentum out of it. While it may be a bit early to declare this a classic or that Frank Miller’s back! (whatever that may mean,) Xerxes #1 is a confident comic that shows that Miller may still have something to prove to himself and his readers.

Xerxes: The Fall of Darius and the Rise of Alexander #1
Written and Drawn by Frank Miller
Colored by Alex Sinclair 

April 17, 2018

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Catch It at the Comic Shop April 18, 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...

Rob's Picks:

Action Comics 1000 by Just About Everyone, Published by DC Comics
Do I even need to explain why this is a comic that even those of us who don't follow the main superhero books on the same day they come out should be interested in? Superman is one of the most iconic figures in all of comics, and now Brian Michael Bendis, love him or hate him, is going to start writing his adventures. This is one to watch, and despite the fact that I tend to avoid single issues in print, I'm planning to pick up a copy. You should, too, if only to see what's going on first hand, not through the infinite commentary we're about to see. (Including this site, because yeah, this is a biggie.)

April 15, 2018

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The Untitled Sunday Link Post- April 15th, 2018

The Strip

art by Cark Barks

Previously on Panel Patter

Cover of the Next Week

Action Comics #1000 by Jim Sterano (1970s variant)

The visuals of Jim Steranko's story in Superman #400 are forever burned in my mind.  The boldness of this cover shows that Steranko hasn't lost a lick of drawing ability over the years.  Never the most productive artist, the sheer presence of his figures has always been just enough to capture the imagination and the iconic pose here, the Man of Steal with the American flag, captures the essense of the character in a way that we just don't see that much of anymore.  Heroic and patriotic, Steranko's cover is a throwback to the time when Superman was clearly linked to "truth, justice, and the American way."


*** Iron Circus Comics brings diversity to the comic book market (The Chicago Tribune)-- Cheryl V. Jackson talked to C. Spike Trotman about her publishing empire.

“When I was getting into comics, there was absolutely no room for people like me — people of color who wanted to tell their own stories, or women who wanted to tell their own stories,” said 39-year-old Trotman. “Comics had a very firm idea of what would sell or what qualified as niche. Anything a white, heterosexual man would make would be interpreted to having universal appeal, but anything I would make would automatically be classified as difficult to relate to or niche.”

This and That

*** Can This Man Save Superman? (The New York Times)-- The NYTs spotlights the upcoming Bendis run on the Superman titles but the headline seems to be a bit flawed.  Does Superman really need to be saved?  Anyone who approaches the future of Superman as if the character was broken hasn't been checking out the Superman comic by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason.

“When you strip everything away on Superman you’re basically stripping away all the ridiculous stuff and getting to the real truths,” Mr. Bendis said. “It’s about making your own family versus the family you’re born with, about finding out who you are versus where you were put."

***The first page of X-Men: Grand Design, with author and artist Ed Piskor's commentary (Boing Boing)-- At the site that serialized his Hip Hop Family Tree, Ed Piskor is running a commentary on the opening pages of his X-Men: Grand Design.
Panels 1 & 2 are silent because I want the reader to decide the exact amount of time that Uatu has been standing on that rock observing the happenings on Earth. The time that transpires between panel 1, 2, and 3 can be seconds, minutes, years, decades, centuries, millennia, etc. Your call. This illusion would have been destroyed if I had any dialogue in those panels as it would imply that the image exists as a moment that lasts only as long as it takes to read the text within.

Current Mood

April 13, 2018

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beds! Beds! BEDS! by RJ Casey and Ben Horak

Written by RJ Casey
Illustrated by Ben Horak
Published by Yeti Press

A young family, inexplicably oblivious to danger, go looking for a bed for their baby, leading to exaggerated hijinks in this farce dedicated by the creators to Josh Simmons.

I've been pulling out things to read or re-read from my boxes as I re-organize stuff, making painful choices about what to keep, but this wasn't even a question, as it's written by my friend RJ and features a loving homage/parody to Josh Simmons, whose horror comics are really creepy. Here, the creepiness is retained but there's humor, not horror, as no one dies (a clear sign Josh did not do the comic!).

The family clearly is odd, as we see from the opening, where they share a disgusting kiss and then barely care as their car crashes into a pole. Once inside, they talk about the need for a bed for the baby, who gets into some misadventures that should upset them, but of course they just find it extremely exciting. In the end, it's not yet time for baby to move on, leaving the shopkeeper to assure the bed it's not its fault they rejected the sale.

The whole thing is silly as hell, as you can see from these scans I made (apologies, because they're not the best, but I wanted you to see the visuals):

As you can see, Casey and Horak do a wonderful job sending up the horror elements, such as the wrecked car (who cares) and the creepy salesman, who is first feared, then hated, then just taken along for the ride. Though these are short panels, they pack a lot in, covering quickly the tropes that are so enjoyable in Simmons' hands but are also good fodder for comedy.

I particularly love the tons of lines that Horak draws. While some working on a brief mini would have just sketched the outline of a store, you can see even in my bad scans that there are extra markings on the pillars, each bed gets some detailing, and so on. Casey, meanwhile, gives him the space to work, not trying to fill the pages with too much dialog. There's also some great exaggeration work, such in the eyes on the third panel of the second page.

Here's a second scan, towards the end:

Again, though it's played for laughs, look at how grotesque the shopkeeper is in that first panel! It's a little terrifying, isn't it? I also love the laughter words filling all the space in the roof hole in the last panel (and check out that hatching--like I said, the comic has a ton of detail). I'm not sure if the idea of the "perfect" bed being a horror show of lumps was RJ or Ben's idea (or perhaps both), but it adds to the fun here.

I did this quick review because a) I can, that's the fun part of having a non-monetized site b) it's a lot of fun and c) it's a really good example of how much can be done with such a short space. Casey and Horak don't take up a lot of time extending the jokes beyond their expiration date, and the characters themselves don't get huge back stories. Instead, we just learn that they're a normal-looking Addams Family, where the strange is ordinary to them, and the reader benefits from seeing how much comedy can come from it.

I highly doubt you can find this mini anywhere, but if you do, snap it up. It's pretty typical of the cool stuff Yeti was doing before the line was retired a few years back.

April 11, 2018

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Places that Exist in Our Minds-- a review of John Porcellino's From Lone Mountain

John Porcellino’s mini-comics contain essays, cartoons, letters, memories, poems and ultimately a portrait of a cartoonist trying to find his place in the world. From Lone Mountain, collecting issues of King Cat Comics and Stories from 2003 through 2007, find Porcellino, his wife, and his cat moving cross country and from city to city a couple of times during only a few years. This new compilation of his mini-comics has some big events in it, the many moves, but Porcellino’s King Kat Comics aren’t about the grand movements and gestures of his life. If you want some in-depth exploration of his life, find his The Hospital Suite from a couple of years ago where the cartoonist spends a good deal of time exploring his own physical and mental health. The comics in this book hone in on the smaller or tender moments of life such as finding a stray kitten or an aimless road trip but he does also deal with the passing of his father in one of the comics. In these events of a life, Porcellino uncovers these small, reflective moments of life that many of us just take for granted and gloss over.

Reduced to simple, defining lines, Porcellino draws these stories with little decorative embellishment. He uses the basic visual language of cartoons to practically take the focus off of his artwork. A few well-placed lines are all he needs to show a person, a cat, a car, or a house. If it were any simpler, his artwork would practically be abstract because that’s how few marks he uses in his drawings. But every line and mark creates a huge world around and beyond him. With as few ink strokes as possible, he creates a visual and comprehensible order to his worldview.

“Freeman Kame,” a piece in the middle of the book, tells the story of an impulsive visit to one of the many forest preserves in northern Illinois. Large parts of this story are wordless as Porcellino let’s the images tell the story. “It’s beautiful,” he writes about the road and the sky on the way to Freeman Kame. You could imagine other artists pulling out all of their tricks to create a grand and splendid picture but Porcellino puts down just a few lines to suggest the road or a fence and a puffy cloud up in the sky. It’s almost an insane amount of trust that Porcellino has in his readers as he’s confident that they can imagine the beauty that he’s barely suggesting with his drawings but it’s all there on the page.

That clear visual element opens up his ability to explore some complexly human moments in his comics. Some pieces are recountings of events, some are poems and there are some straight text pieces in these pages. In all of these pieces, Porcellino manages to find a memory, an experience, or some tidbit of knowledge that helps define him. His comics read like he’s a man who is trying to order his life. One strip is just him on the phone with his future wife, asking her the important questions of life; does she like The Smiths and how does she prefer toilet paper to be oriented on the roll- with the end of it hanging in front or behind the roll.

These aren’t the capital “I” important questions of life but that Porcellino has captured this important moment of courtship shows how important that time and memory was to him. For the two pages of the book that he devotes to this memory, it becomes the capital “I” Important question of his life so it becomes that for us as we’re reading the comic. Just as he trusts his readers to understand the images he’s suggesting, he also trusts them to understand the importance of these small, tender moments of life. Some of the stories he tells in this book are experiences he just had right before he committed them to paper and others stretch back to his youth as he finds these instances that all mean something to him.

This trust that Porcellino has with his audience lets him play with the form of his stories. It allows him to have pages of text recounting his days in Dekalb, IL and the co-workers he had back in those days. It also gives him the opening to create these little comic poems that have the same focus as his more narrative comics. There’s even these strange little diversions into philosophy. Porcellino has a gift for making his comics about the things that interest him without them being so self-centered and closed off that they’re only about the artist and not the people, places and events around him.

In the comics in From Lone Mountain, John Porcellino wants to share his life with you. But his comics aren’t just observations or recountins of the days events. In his stories and short pieces, he is trying to capture the spirit of the moment, that sensation of experiencing something in a new, unique, and personal way. Most of these events aren’t some spectacular or earth shattering moment in and of themselves but they become these because of the ways that Porcellino relates the experience of the moment or event. And for the reader seeing these events through Porcellino’s pages, his capturing of it creates a new experience for the readers who now get to relate the experiences to their own lives and worldviews.

April 10, 2018

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Catch It at the Comic Shop April 11, 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...

April 9, 2018

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Hello Old Friend: Some Thoughts on Girl Genius Omnibus Vol 1 by the Foglios

Written and Illustrated by Phil and Kaja Foglio (with Brian Snoddy, Cheyenne Wright, Mark McNabb, and Laurie E. Smith)
Collection Published by Tor, originally a webcomic

Agatha is a young woman who wants to build things, but her brain won't cooperate. Living in the shadow of a world where the best leaders have disappeared and machines loom over all, Agatha makes the best of her situation at the University. When the ruler shows up and things go very wrong, she's spun into current events, whether she likes it or not, and learns a very important secret about herself--she's a Spark.

And that's when the trouble *really* begins...

April 6, 2018

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(Weekend Pattering for April 6th, 2018)


A Fat Freddy's Cat strip by Gilbert Shelton

Previously on Panel Patter

Cover of the Next Week

Marvel: 'Infinity War is the most ambitious crossover event in history'

To borrow from a recent meme. (Cover to Archies #6, art by Greg Smallwood)


*** Q&A: Audrey Niffenegger and Eddie Campbell’s ‘Bizarre Romance’ (Smash Pages)-- This new collection of comics by Audrey Niffenegger and Eddie Campbell is a fun, little thing.  Over at Smash Pages, Alex Dueben talked to the creators about their unique collaboration.
Eddie Campbell: Comics are a sociable medium, a great thing for two artistic people to get together on. Seeing another artist take your idea and run with it can be an exciting process, like acting in a play, taking on a different personality and seeing what happens. What if I were a completely different person from this chump Eddie Campbell, how might things work out? And it’s good to sometimes draw a story written by somebody else because it’s like jumping into the middle with all the logistical things already worked out and you just have to sit down and draw away.

This and That

I'm just going to put these two related articles here.  Both are very important views of comics and fandom right now.
Comicsgaters recently turned to blacklists and hashtag campaigns in an attempt to show their power within the industry. In early February, several members of the group made a “blacklist” including creators and other industry members who spoke out against Comicsgate trolls — such as Sitterson and Jamal Igle — and people who openly pushed for diversity. The latter includes Kelly Sue DeConnick — creator of Bitch Planet, a comic set in a dystopian future in which “noncompliant” women are sent to prisons — and Heather Antos, one of the women in the milkshake photo.
***#Comicsgate: How an Anti-Diversity Harassment Campaign in Comics Got Ugly—and Profitable (The Daily Beast)
Trans creators, including Visaggio and Tamra Bonvillain, a colorist on DC’s Doom Patrol, are also recurring targets. “[Meyer’s] the least subtle about his hatred of trans people, and that goes for many of his followers engaging in harassment. They misgender us and call us mentally ill in no uncertain terms,” Bonvillain told The Daily Beast. Worse, she says, they keep circling back, egged on by Meyer. “I tried to change my Twitter to private for a short while during one occurrence, but they just got screen-grabs from other people and bragged about it... At its worst, it would be all day, for several days at a time. I manually blocked several hundred people before I ran a blockchain.”

Current Mood

April 3, 2018

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Catch It at the Comic Shop April 4, 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:

Isola #1 by Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl, Msassyk and Aditya Bidikar, published by Image Comics.
Isola is a lushly beautiful comic. I've read the first issue and I can tell you it's one of the loveliest comics I've seen in a while - you'll really want to linger on the illustration from Karl Kerschl and gorgeous, rich colors from Msassyk. This is an entertaining fantasy comic, and the premise is straightforward: a woman and a tiger (yup, a tiger) a traveling through the forest.  They need to get to a certain (possibly mythical) destination, and face danger and all sorts of obstacles along the way. After the first issue I'm not totally sure what's going on, but I'm definitely intrigued enough to want to know more.

March 29, 2018

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Nix Comics Rocks and Rolls into 2018 Kickstarter

It seems like all of the Panel Pals in the micro press world are doing Kickstarters or subscription sales right now, but I want to bring attention to as many of them as possible, because a) they're really cool b) they are the backbone of indie comics and c) each brings their own take to the comics medium, so every reader has a chance to get what they like.

Nix Comics is the brainchild of Ken Eppstein, who I've known for a long time now, going back to the first issues of his rock and roll horror anthology, Nix Comics, now headed for issue 10 if this project funds. There's also Nix Western, there was Nix Kids, and of course also his various one off projects.

Here's the main list of comics for this Kickstarter:

I'm very much looking forward to new Nix Quarterly and Nix Western, and Tales from the Crate, about Ken's adventures in records, appeals to me given my newfound love of vinyl. Belligerent Kitties is just a fun romp, too.

What's a typical Nix comic? Well, it's certainly not particularly typical, but usually, what you'll find are characters getting themselves into situations they have to fight their way out of, usually involving death and mayhem and music, not necessarily in that order, combined with some oddball reoccurring things, like Bus Stop Ned, the guy you don't really want to talk to on mass transit. The art is pretty typical for a mini-comic anthology, ranging from some really amazing work to people who are just getting their feet wet in comics illustration. Ken has a several regulars and it's been fun watching them evolve over time.

The rewards vary, ranging from getting a single issue to the core package for $25 plus shipping to a larger package that includes records with two of the comics (fitting, given Ken's themes). You can also go further up the line to pick up original art.

If you dig records, music, horror (especially B-movie grade) and anthologies, then you really need to be reading Nix Comics. This is a great way to start. You can back the Nix Comics Kickstarter here.

March 28, 2018

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Still Time to Grab Quality Books from Kilgore for 2018

March hasn't found me with a lot of free time, but I couldn't let the month end without pointing you towards the Kilgore Books 2018 Kickstarter, which is set to bring you up to and over 800 pages of comic goodness, depending on the level to which you pledge.

I've been reading Kilgore books for ages now, starting with their longtime staple Noah Van Sciver, and moving into other creators as time went on. It's great to see them be able to continue to thrive using Kickstarter as an engine, which is one of the things it's best at--being a platform for micropublishers.

March 27, 2018

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Catch It at the Comic Shop March 28, 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...

Rob's Picks:

Goosebumps Download and Die! by Jen Vaughn, Michelle Wong, Triona Tree Farrell, and Christa Miesner, published by IDW
Rob's back on their IDW licensed comic kick, having been revamped by IDW's excellent panel at ECCC. This one helps by being written by Panel Pal Jen Vaughn, who updates an older Goosebumps story by giving it the cell phone game treatment, which is a really cool idea. A trio of girls dealing with growing up find out that sometimes gifts are better left unopened. I don't really know the Goosebumps world--believe it or not, I never read a single one growing up!--but I do know good creepy, all-ages horror, and Jen plots it well. Wong and Farrell's art does a great job of taking a really talk-heavy set-up issue and keep it varied. I can't wait to see what they do now that things are ramping up!

Breathless #1 by Pat Shand, Renzo Rodriguez, Mara Jayne Carpenter, and Jim Campbell, published by Black Mask
Scout is your average medical researcher, looking into captured and killed crypids, as one does. She also has asthma and a somewhat flighty assistant. When Scout's medical condition creates a workplace accident, it could change the pharmaceutical landscape forever. If anyone's left alive to tell the tale, that is! This mixture of a real-world issue--the way drugs are manipulated for profit--mixed with some good blood and guts work from Rodriguez and Carpenter looks to be yet another great series from Black Mask. I'm really impressed with their willingness to tackle social issues within their comics, not all of which are awesome, but this one looks good. Go get it!

Shadowman #1 by Andy Diggle, Stephen Segovia, Ulises Arreloa, and Simon Bowland, published by Valiant
Shadowman wasn't one of the comics I followed closely when it first launched with Valiant, but I dig Punk Mambo, so I'm a little familiar with the set-up. I might have passed on this, but it's Andy Diggle, whose Losers series is still one of my all-time favorites, so I gave it a shot. It's not a perfect comic--it feels like Shadowman should just be left to rot, but Constantine-like, people keep trying to help him--but Diggle handles the mystical horror aspects well, and the idea that he's possessed by a loa who is an outcast from the rest is intriguing. I especially want to call out Arreloa's coloring, which does such a great job of making things look mystical. I'm intrigued by where this one's going.

James' Picks:

Saga #50 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, published by Image Comics
I probably don't ned to tell you that Saga is a terrific comic. It's been up and down over the years, but has never failed to be a compelling stry full of interesting characters, a ton of imagination, and consistently stunning (and sometimes shocking) art from Fiona Staples. I'm really enjoying the book these days, and Vaughan and Staples reaching their 50th issue is a milestone worth celebrating.  

Jessica Jones #18 by Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos and David Mack, published by Marvel Comics
I'm pretty sure this is Brian Michae Bendis' very last Marvel comic before he heads on over to DC Comics. I still can't quite believe it; there's really no one more closely identified with Marvel comics in the 21st century than Bendis - certainly, I doubt there's anyone more prolific at Marvel during that time period and I assume it's not even close. I haven't loved everything Bendis wrote at Marvel, but I've really loved a lot of it - New Avengers, House of M, Secret Invasion, Ultimate Spider-Man, Siege, and of course Alias/Jessica Jones

Dark Nights Metal #6 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, published by DC Comics
So...this series is nearly done and I'm still not quite sure what to make of it. It's been fun but also weird and sometimes more weird than fun. But I know there's a method to the madness, and I'm really curious to see how Snyder and Capullo bring it all together.  I think I need to reread everything that came before, just so I can have a slightly better handle on the story.

Mike's Picks:

Dark Nights Metal # 6 by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, and FCO Plascencia, published by DC Comics
Let’s not lament the delay, nor the subsequent lull in momentum about Metal. To be fair, the series should have wrapped two and a half months ago. It’s frustrating. I get it. Let’s instead celebrate what Metal has given us: a payoff on ten years of Bat stories, a new DC mythos that breathes fresh life into the universe, and a zany-meets dark storyline that is some sort of Silver Age post-modern mutation of insanity.

Walt Disney's Donald Duck: "The Lost Peg Leg Mine" (The Complete Carl Barks Disney Library Vol. 18) by Carl Barks, published by Fantagraphics
It’s easy to take these gorgeous collections for granted since Fantagraphics has published a half-dozen-plus editions of the Carl Barks and Don Rosa libraries. However, each offering in this series is not only a tribute to the genius of Carl Barks, but is a reminder of a bygone era when quality comics existed for all-ages audiences without compromising on either end of the spectrum, and when cartoonists created mainstream comics for mass audiences. Seriously, one guy did all of this. Look at how many names there are on Metal #6.

Factory # 1 by Yacine Elghorri and Simon Bisley, published by Titan Comics
Both Titan and Lion Forge have done great work bringing more Euro-comics to American Comic Shops. I love the sci-fi heavy aesthetic and far out artwork that tends to accompany British and Continental comics. These books usually provide a nice break from the typical American book without straying from the central conceits of genre books. Plus, Elghorri worked with Moebius and Jodorowsky. 

March 25, 2018

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Ley Lines Draws into 2018 with Whit Taylor, L Nichols and More

As they have in past years, Kevin Czap and L Nichols have teamed up to bring another year of Ley Lines to life, this time highlighted by Panel Patter alum Whit Taylor and once again featuring 4 books examining things that might not get covered elsewhere among the mini-comic world.

From the press release:

Grindstone Comics and Czap Books are proud to announce that subscriptions are now available (for a limited time) for the 2018 lineup of our acclaimed comics series Ley Lines. The title of the series refers to “the supposed alignments of numerous places of geographical and historical interest…," drawing connections between comics and other disciplines of art-making. Published on a quarterly basis, Ley Lines is a platform for cartoonists to directly engage with influences beyond the realm of comics.

Praised for being “gorgeous… flawlessly curated” (- Nick Francis Potter), Ley Lines titles have been included among the Notable Comics in Best American Comics 2016 and 2017. Our slate for 2018 will continue to push comics’ boundaries and include new work from the following artists:
  • Jia Sung on Madame White Snake and Belkis AyĆ³n – February 2018
  • Oliver East on “Langweile” (Boredom) – May 2018
  • L Nichols on Beethoven – August 2018
  • Whit Taylor on Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa – November 2018
I'd be excited about L Nichols' book regardless, as Flocks is such a wonderful comic that hews close to my personal feelings, but Beethoven to boot? The person modern music owes so much to? The dude who started to compose a symphony to Napoleon, then changed his mind as he saw the truth behind the lies? A guy who could conduct music he'd never hear? The guy is phenomenal and I can't wait to see how L explores one of the most complex figures in classical music.

And then there's Whit's contribution. What will she have to say about the Mona Lisa? Will it be about the woman who sat for the painting? How it fits into Da Vinci's overall omnivore-style of creation? About how his shadow looms over creators today? Or a total feminist critique? I don't know! But I can't wait to find out!

March 23, 2018

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"Done With Earth"- a review of Gabriel Hardman, Corinna Bechko & Jordan Boyd's Green Lantern: Earth One Volume One


For a large chunk of Green Lantern: Earth One Volume One, Harold Jordan is a passive participant in his own adventures. Hardman and Bechko begin with a Harold Jordan (“Harold” or “Jordan,” never “Hal”) who has already had his chance to be a hero but was used by the system instead. Now he’s running from his problems. Once part of an idealistic NASA, Jordan now spends his days on dead worlds as a scavenger, avoiding the world of life and people for rock and vacuum. There are hints of a greater story here and Hardman and Bechko use those hints sparingly, just enough to keep Jordan’s trials interesting without making Jordan himself an interesting character. While Hardman and Bechko craft an excellently told story, it’s almost in spite of their main character rather than because of him. Instead of focusing on the character of Harold Jordan, exploring any kind of inner turmoil he may face, they concentrate on the universe that’s being opened up to him and his own diminishing numbness to it.

Hardman has a movie director’s eye when it comes to laying out a story. With Jordan Boyd on colors, Hardman and Boyd work to establish each panel and scene as the moment it occurs in. Hardman’s instinctive sense of finding these moments weaves them together in a textured way. From the coldness of space to the verdant heat of the power of the Lanterns, Hardman's cinematic eye finds the moments of introspection and spectacle that gives the book its heart. Hardman and Bechko explore the question of what does it mean to have power. The ring is one kind of power but others are influence, subjugation, and deception. Those types of power are what Jordan struggles against and the story is laid out to give each kind its moment of display without ever having to come out and explicitly set up the villains as influential, overpowering, or deceptive.

This book is full of all kinds of wonders as mankind, in the form of Jordan, makes multiple first contacts but in a lot of ways, the creators tone down the sense of wonder as they make the story more about survival. The massive Kilowog is introduced in these pages, partly as a sidekick and partly as a guide for Jordan. But Kilowog himself is a Green Lantern who’s merely just tolerated on his planet. He’s practically humored to imagine himself a hero while his planet’s military does the real work of protecting their world against the robotic Manhunters. These Green Lanterns aren’t the heroes of the galaxy; they’re the crazy men and women of it who think their barely functioning rings are the badges of hope.

That’s the story of the Green Lanterns but it’s barely Jordan’s story. As the newbie, he has no idealism about his place in the galaxy. While they establish that Jordan is running from something and slowly reveal what throughout the book, Hardman and Bechko subtly form this portrait of their Harold Jordan, a man who’s been betrayed by one organization so he’s more willing to isolate himself from mankind rather than engage with a system that’s treated him so wrong. Becoming a Green Lantern isn’t an origin story for Jordan but it’s more of an awakening as he discovers something else to believe in.

Hardman and Bechko slowly build up Jordan panel after panel, page after page. Jordan’s story works on many levels, some obvious and others less so. Going back to Hardman’s directorial eye, he and Bechko create the kind of science fiction superhero movie that it seems like we’re never going to actually see on the big screen. Their shaping of the story owes as much to Ridley Scott and Christopher Nolan as it does to John Broome and Gil Kane. And they do it in a way that’s faithful to their version of Jordan. This isn’t the cocky flyboy Green Lantern who’s always ready to tell you how great he is. This is a man who has preferred to run from his problems, hiding from himself as much as he is the circumstances of his life. In that way, Hardman and Bechko allow the story to reveal the character rather than letting him tell us who he is.

Green Lantern: Earth One Volume One is a tale of hope in believing in something, maybe of believing in anything. Jordan is lost at the start of this book and it takes little green men and magical power rings to snap him out of it. Carrying around the baggage of his past, discovering the universe provides a change of scope and priority for Jordan. Hardman and Bechko give us a story of a man who was used to believing in something once upon a time and now he discovers something else to put his faith into. Unfortunately, he may be substituting one betrayal for another but that seems to be a story for another time.

Green Lantern: Earth One Volume One
Written by Gabriel Hardman & Corinna Bechko
Drawn by Gabriel Hardman
Colored by Jordan Boyd
Lettered by Simon Bowland
Published by DC Comics

March 21, 2018

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Catch It at the Comic Shop March 21, 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...

Scott's Picks:

Aliens: Dead Orbit by James Stokoe, published by Dark Horse.
Stokoe's Alien story heavily homages the 1979 Ridley Scott film, creating a haunted-house-in-space story where the xenomorph is a force of nature.  Stokoe's maddening artwork captures the claustrophobic dread of the original film, reminding us of why we fell in love with this creature in the first place.

March 19, 2018

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An Interview with Ron Randall of Trekker

Ron at Emerald City Comic Con
Ron Randall is a longtime friend of the site, and there's a good chance he's worked on one of your favorite Marvel or DC characters, even if you didn't realize it at the time. A member of Helioscope, a collective of some of the best creators in all of comics, Ron was among the first to do creator-owned work at Dark Horse Comics, with a series called Trekker.

Before we get to the interview, a few things to note. Trekker is the story of Mercy St. Clair, a bounty hunter in a sci-fi world that's spread out across worlds and has the feel of the same kind of noir that you think of when you envision Cowboy Bepop or Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. There's battles and gunplay and plenty of action, as Mercy tries to keep herself upright--and in enough bounties to survive. It's a very fun romp, but as you move deeper into the series, there's things you notice that take the world in some moral gray areas. Mercy may want to stay out of the fray, but as you'll see (or maybe you know already!), she'll be forced to re-examine her world view.

March 16, 2018

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Respect, Dignity and Keeping the Barbarians at the Gate- a review of Grass Kings Volume One by Kindt & Jenkins

At first glance, Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins’ book Grass Kings Volume One appears to be a simple anti-establishment story about a group of people trying to protect their home and their family from the outside world. The us-versus-them mentality almost seems like a noble pursuit in the current political and social climate where the establishment is becoming twisted and malformed. This collective, the Grass Kingdom, is made up of a small group of isolationists living on the shores of a lake. They don’t align themselves in any way with the town around them, its leaders or their laws. The three brothers who represent the law, the leadership and the optimistic spirit of the Grass Kingdom are Bruce, Robert, and Ashur. Trying to hold this ramshackle society together, these brothers have to struggle with their own ghosts as well as the outside world that’s trying to claim the kingdom as its own.

In creating this Grass Kingdom, Kindt and Jenkins have created a commune that’s potentially somewhere on the spectrum along with Ruby Ridge and Waco. Call the people who follow Robert’s lead cultists, survivalists, or even Americans, their struggle is about how this little kingdom survives when its own leaders have lost their way. Robert sits in his shack, mourning a daughter who is either missing or dead. Bruce is the village’s sheriff but that seems more self-appointed than anything official and he’s the one who is holding the collective together. These two older brothers seem to realize who and what they are while Ashur is still rather young and may still reflect some of the innocence and idealism of this group.

While Ashur may be innocent, the land around him is far from that. Kindt and Jenkins show how this land has held its inhabitants in a violent sway for centuries. Since the time of the Native Americans, the creators show the spirit of the land through the ugly nature of the people who live on it. While Bruce, Robert, and Ashur’s story is very contemporary, Kindt and Jenkins show centuries of ugliness, violence, and sin that has pervaded the atmosphere of this area. This ugly spirit of the area is historical and while they do anything but demonize their main characters, Kindt and Jenkins don’t want you to forget that there’s a malevolent spirit that hangs over the characters of this story. As if the threat of outside forces taking their way of life away from them wasn’t enough, there’s the lingering notion that the Grass Kingdom may be knowingly or unknowingly harboring a serial killer. The threats against this small collective are both external and internal.

Similar to Kindt’s work in Dept. H or Mind MGMT, there’s an imprecision in Jenkins’ artwork that helps define the story. Coloring it with watercolors, Jenkins illuminates the story in a natural sun or moonlight. There’s a naturalism achieved in the artwork, both in the settings and the characters. This rustic, natural art creates a romantic dreaminess that runs tonally contrarian to the story that Jenkins is actually drawing. It’s this narrative struggle that exists both in the artwork and the writing, where you want to like these characters and their stories but there’s really this text of a moral ugliness that seems inescapable. Jenkins’ artwork is impressionistic enough to allow clarity in the plot but ambiguity in the motivations of his characters.

The push and pull of the moral high ground in this book paints a picture not of good versus evil but of egos and desires clashing. Kindt and Jenkins obviously hold Robert, Bruce, and Ashur up as the protagonists of this book but they’re anything but heroes. They’re men but so are the people that they’re fighting. It’s an honesty in the storytelling that Kindt and Jenkins are doing that everyone is conflicted and compromised in some way. These compromises are made every day and threaten to undo everything that’s been built in this lakeside community.  Grass Kings Volume One shows the cracks in this kingdom and in our own views of our lives, turning our solid foundations into unsteady rocks.

Written by Matt Kindt
Drawn by Tyler Jenkins
Lettered by Jim Campbell
Published by Boom Studios

March 13, 2018

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Catch It at the Comic Shop March 14, 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...

Rob's Picks:

Cold War #2 by Chris Sebela and Hayden Sherman, published by Aftershock
I picked up issue one from Chris at ECCC and I liked it a lot, but that's no surprise given how much I like Sebela's work, especially his indie stuff. This one involves people who were (are?) frozen, only to be revived and dumped in the middle of a strange war, with no idea of anything other than survival. It's all very mysterious, which is cool, and Sherman's linework fits the theme perfectly, with a little bit of a Miller-Janson vibe in terms of being angular and flat, but still able to tell a story. His varied, muddied colors also keep everything feeling off-beat and not quite real. I don't know what's going on, but I'm looking forward to reading more this week.

March 7, 2018

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Kickstarter Interview - Kugali

Kugali are a collective that specialise in African comics. By selecting creators from all over the continent, they aim to show the rest of the world the diversity and the culture that so many people remain unaware of. Beginning as a site that aims to collate existing comics from the continent, co-creators Ziki Nelson and Tolu Olowofoyeku are taking to Kickstarter to fundraise for the first issue of their eponymously named book: The Kugali Anthology. We were lucky enough to sit down with them and they told us exactly why you what they're doing is worth your money.

Panel Patter: We are a site that primarily reviews and discusses Western comics. For readers who primarily consume Western entertainment, what would be your pitch to draw them into Kugali?

Ziki: In the US and in the UK, even though people are used to reading DC and Marvel - your Dark Horse and your Image and even get some indie comics - there is also a lot of interest in Japanese manga which is very different to what we have in the West. In the East there’s Manga, in the West there’s American comics and so in Africa we have Kugali.

Tolu: African storytelling is very different to anything else out there. The same way that right now - I don’t know if you guys watch Indian movies over there - but Indian movies have a very different feel from Hollywood movies. In that same way, Nollywood movies have a different feel from Chinese movies, so it’s not like it’s "like this one but better"; we aren't saying that it’s like American comics but better. It’s just so different that it’s a totally unique experience for people that are only used to one particular kind of comic.

Panel Patter: So you’re saying that it will give them some variation and different approaches to storytelling that they’ve not seen before. 

Ziki: Exactly. However, I will also say that a lot of the comics featured in the anthology do draw some inspiration from both Japanese manga and Western comics so it’s a combination of what’s familiar combined with a touch of African culture to create something new.

Panel Patter: Do you have any examples of which parts of it come from which culture?

Ziki: For example, Kayin & Abeni drew a lot of inspiration from Hellboy in terms of the art style, by Mike Mignola, so if you’re a Mignola fan then you’ll see a clear influence there. 

Mumu Juju draws a lot of inspiration from Japanese manga in terms of the storytelling structure - it doesn't take itself too seriously. There are a lot of really cleanly illustrated panels, but then others are really simply drawn and it mimics that Japanese Chibi illustration technique.

Panel Patter: So you’ve said that you draw inspiration from cultures outside of Africa. Do all of the characters in this anthology draw from existing African mythologies or are some original creations?

Ziki: It’s a mixture. Off the top of my head, more or less all of the stories are at least inspired by various African cultures. 

For example, Under a Jovian Sun is set in Morocco and it’s essentially just thinking about what modern day Morocco looks like and then extrapolating that as to what it will look like 1000 years in the future. Morocco is a bit of a melting pot for different cultures because it’s where people go to when they’re trying to get to Europe - so you have a lot of people from Sub-Saharan Africa there - and you also have a lot of Europeans coming into Africa there so this is the kind of diversity that transposes onto the comics.

That’s taking a very contemporary influence, but some of them have taken influences from ancient kingdoms - it kind of varies.

Panel Patter: In that respect, did you have to do any adapting in terms of dialogue, aphorisms or content to account for the fact that the comic would be viewed outside of Africa?

Tolu: Between the two of us, I’m the one who has actually spent more time in Nigeria. With the vernacular, I would say out of the all of the comics Mumu Juju probably has the most.

We know that outside of Nigeria we have to make an allowance because Mumu Juju has a lot of humour in it which is only natural when it’s in the natural vernacular of the creator. He has to write certain things and there’s no way to directly translate them into regular English, so he has to put them in Pidgin English and then later on have a page where he explains all of the phrases. We actually have a reward on our Kickstarter where we give out Pidgin English flashcards that show you small version of the Mumu Juju characters explaining the various phrases. 

In Oro they speak regular English, they barely use Pidgin, but then sometimes characters will speak Yoruba. When they speak Yoruba, we usually have to put subtitles somewhere else on the page -there’s always that allowance - because when Nigerian creatives or African creatives in general are creating something, it only feels natural to you if it’s the way that you would speak in real life - a joke you would crack or an expression.

This is a very common joke in Nigeria: they say if a non-Nigerian gets suddenly hit they’re going to say “ouch”, but in Nigerian if you say “ouch” then they know that the thing didn’t really hurt you - you’re pretending when you say “ouch”. If it really hurt you and the exclamation came from your soul, then you’re going to say “yaay”. So it’s like, why would you be writing a comic and your character is saying “ouch” - it’s not natural.

Panel Patter: The point of the anthology is to showcase people from Africa telling stories that themselves, in the first issue at least, are very influenced African culture. Is it an anthology that in the future could have stories that were more directly influenced by Western stories, or would that not fit with the intention of the comic?

Ziki: In the short term, I don’t envision us publishing any Superman-esque stories only because DC and Marvel already do that so well, so why do that in the first place. However, for us we don’t necessarily want to impinge on the creative process that our artists and writers engage in, so our criteria is actually based on three things.

Our questions are: is the creative team from an African country, have they ever lived in an African country and are their stories set in an African country or African context? As long as they can tick two of those boxes, then we’re happy to work with those creators. However, if someone ticked two of those boxes and they wanted to essentially write Spider-Man, we’d be very unlikely to pick up that project because we don’t think we’d be able to do anything with it.

Tolu: Have you seen manga that wasn’t created by Japanese people? There’s always that conversation about if a non-Japanese person creates a comic in the Japanese style, is it manga or is it not? The fact that you can immediately look at something and instantly recognise that this style is Japanese - that says a lot about what they’ve done for their culture with their comics.

Panel Patter: So you want to do a similar thing where you’re trying to create a tone and an aesthetic for African cultures?

Tolu: Even though we’re not necessarily creating the guidelines for the aesthetic, we think the aesthetic already is out there and we’re just trying to pull it all in one place unit people start to see the similarities. We want to get to the point where someone can see something and immediately know: "Hey, that’s Kugali - that’s African".

Panel Patter: Does that mean that all of the stories came to you fully formed?

Tolu: Most of them had a pilot or maybe two issues out by the time we approached them, but when we see it and we think “this looks good enough” then we speak with them. So they usually already have it all planned out, but they are not done creating all of the issues.

Ziki: The other thing I would say as well is that for me personally, I’ve been developing my story over the course of running Kugali and I did enlist the help of embers of the team to help me refine certain concepts. We want to do more of that going forwards, looking at the next volume of the anthology in particular.

For this particular round of stories, most of them either had one or two issues out and then we helped them expand it to maybe, say, five issues. But for the next generation of stories, we’re more or less looking at building these stories from scratch.

Panel Patter: So does that mean that for this first volume, all of the entries are exsiting books that people can then go and buy?

Ziki: No, because some of them, the creators might have done the first 20 pages and they didn’t have the means to more; we helped the creators get all of the stories to completion. There are one or two that were already fully completed, but the vast majority were only partially completed by the time the creative teams joined Kugali.

Panel Patter: Do you plan to carry on working with them and launch them into their own spin-off books from this anthology?

Ziki: 100%. One of the key facts I’ve gotten from comic conventions is that people love the anthology. But there are some people who just like sci-fi and that’s all they want to read, and there are some people who love fantasy and that’s all they want to read. So we do want to give the comics an opportunity to connect with their own fan-base, so, while the anthology is a great idea, at the same time we want to give these stories the opportunity to grow on their own so we will eventually publish individual issues of most of the stories that will be featured in the anthology.

For example, the first Raki anthology will have Oro, Kayin and Abeni and Iku, but after the anthology is over, if people want to continue exploring these world then they’ll be able to buy the individual graphic novels related to this titles. That is the plan that we’re going with at the moment.

Panel Patter: So you mentioned there, the "Raki" edition. What are the differences between the two versions that you have on the Kickstarter?

Tolu: It’s very simple - the "Regular" edition of the magazine is designed for all-ages - it’s designed for everyone. Parents should be able to buy it for their kids, read it with their kids or whatever. The "Raki" edition is designed for people who want more mature themes in their comics and things that may not necessarily be child friendly. It’s not like every comic in the "Raki" edition is blood and gore every time - it’s just that there are certain things where we can’t tell the parents to buy this for their ten year old kids.

Panel Patter: Are they distinct books then? Should you buy both if you want everything or is there an overlap?

Tolu: There’s no overlap at all.

Ziki: If you want to experience the full spectrum of what Kugali has to offer then you definitely want to pick up both the "Raki" and the "Regular" edition.

Panel Patter: I’m going to force a false binary here: if you had to choose a favourite sequence of panels or a page from the first issue, what would it be and why?

Ziki: This is a bit hard for me because my comic is featured in "Raki" and there’s a particular sequence I really like in the first couple of pages, but at the same time I admit that there is a bias there. Do you know what? I generally tend to put the spotlight on the other artists, so I’m going to be a bit greedy here.

My favourite sequence in my comic actually is the first couple of pages because it starts off with a child just crying on a beach and there’s three panels at the bottom of the first page that show the water behind him then you see something, maybe it's a head, but we're not sure what it is and then you see this shadowy figure emerge from the water. Why I like that page is because it has zero dialogue and so you’re not really sure what’s going on; it forces the reader to build their own interpretation and the visuals are so strong that you get a perfect idea, or you think you get a perfect idea, and then everything flips on its head eventually.

Tolu: I think the very first two pages in Mumu Juju: they’re fighting these zombies, but the zombies are so comical - it’s different from any zombie I’ve seen anywhere else. Remember Plants vs Zombies? It’s goofy zombies like that with glowing body parts. The two characters are just kicking the zombies asses and that whole page just looks awesome.

Panel Patter: The reasoin that I brought this question up is that there’s a sequence in Kayin and Abeni and it’s when Kayin jumps out of the ship and then transforms in midair and then lands on the ground with a huge crash.

Tolu: we thought that sequence that was so coll that we made a motion comic with that one sequence!

Ziki: To be honest that is the best one - I was just being a bit biased to be honest. [laughs]

Panel Patter: My final question is probably quite a broad one: from your experience working directly with people from African cultures who make comics, what would you say is the one thing that makes African comics so different and worthwhile?

Ziki: When I went to the Lagos comic-con in 2012, I picked up this anthology called Taboo which was a collection of horror folktales set in Nigeria and it was so different to anything I’d seen before. When you watch enough films and read enough comics, you get used to the standard Western - and even Eastern - horror tropes, but these were new tropes that I hadn’t come across before and that made it actually scary. I don’t scare very easily but, for a horror comic, it was pretty striking.

That opened my mind to the possibilities in the sense that there was an opportunity to tell new stories, to enrich the genre and tell stories that people actually haven't seen before and certainly the specific elements that are unique or that are more prevalent in African culture.

It’s hard to pinpoint because it’s kind of a combination of various things. The fact is that our mythology, our art style and our storytelling techniques are different so the stories are inherently different. In African storytelling, there’s a lot of absurdism. For example, in the Yoruba Earth creation myth, the world was created because the Earth was one massive continent and there was also a chicken. You know how chickens scratch the earth and spread dirt? A chicken did that to a super massive continent and that’s how the world was created, which sounds pretty absurd.

Tolu: You missed out the fact that the chicken was sent by a deity.

Ziki: Yeah, yeah. So that’s the kind of absurdism that you see in a lot of our stories. It’s weird because one of the things that opened my mind to it is a book called Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman . He's obviously an English author, but he gets the storytelling spot on.

Tolu: When it comes to African creators, I’ve found that there are two main types: there are those who are so heavily influenced by what we’ve been seeing out of the West that they end up creating clones of their favourite Western cartoons and Western comics. They literally clone Superman and then instead of someone who looks European, the character looks African instead.

By the way, don’t you find it weird that every superhero who is an alien who ever came to Earth only happens to look like one race on Earth? Anyway.

We tend to ignore those because that’s generally a thing that you do when you are 14/15 - I used to clone Digimon and rewrite it with my own characters - that’s not really creative. When you get older and more enlightened, you create unique stuff that is based off of things people have not seen too much of in the media. When we see creators do that, that’s when we approach them and is how we found most of the people on our team.

The one thing that they all have in common is they are tapping into something from their own culture. We have people from Zimbabwe, Senegal, Nigeria - some of which I’ve never even been to - but those creators put out something different from everything that I’ve seen elsewhere. That’s the one thing that they have in common. That’s the one thing that we look out for.

Kugali have already reached their fundraising goal, but with such a culturally rich creative venture, they deserve so much more. The Kugali Anthology Kickstarter is running until March 28th.

Go and check it out.