September 22, 2017

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You're Yul Brenner Westworld, Reporting from the field. (Weekend Pattering for Friday, September 22nd, 2017)

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Thought Bubble 2017 Interview - Rebecca Burgess

Thought Bubble is the premiere indie comic book festival in the UK. It runs annually from the thriving city of Leeds, bringing together people from all walks of life to celebrate the one thing that so many other conventions tend to forget: the comics.

Check out all of our Thought Bubble 2017 content here

Rebecca Burgess has taken a difficult subject matter and, as all great storytellers do, wrapped it within the confines of something disparate in order to emphasise the effect of both. With a tale of mistrust and racial bigotry intertwined with British and Indian folklore, Strangers and Friends tells the story of the naive paranormal investigator Hemu as he gets carried away by an adventure far greater than him.

Mark Dickson: When did the story of Strangers and Friends begin?

I started writing it in late 2010, after watching a documentary about the history of horror movies and I became really inspired by Victorian-style horror. I like how it isn’t especially gory, but instead uses a lot of exaggerated situations as metaphors for social issues, so I wanted to try that out for myself.

The story deals remarkably well with the expression of racial bigotry and how quickly supposedly well-meaning people can jump to conclusions. What made you want to tell this story and why did you choose to contextualise that with the theme of mythical succession?

I wanted to talk about this specifically because at the time, the small town of Wootton Bassett where I grew up (incidentally where the comic is set) had recently become famous in the news - soldiers who died in the Afghanistan war were being flown back and got driven through our town; everyone would stand out in the streets to pay their respects. I noticed after this sudden fame that a lot of people I knew suddenly become more patriotic, but at the same time more hostile towards Asian people.

At the time my family were good friends with a guy who owned a restaurant down the road from us and, as he was Muslim, he was the victim of a lot of severe racism. In the end he was even told that he wasn’t welcome in our local pub and my family was told that we shouldn’t be friends with him.

The comic ended up being pretty much directly about that experience: the mythical theme tied in with the horror inspiration as I wanted to use it to exaggerate some of the themes.

You begin the story in with textured colours transition into black and white for the next chunk of the story and then intersperse the colours back in.  What significance do you assign to colour and how do you choose to make that transition?

In all honesty, I just wanted to get the comic done more quickly, but by the second chapter I decided it would be nice to add colour to help separate the fantasy aspects, which ended up helping to emphasise Hemu’s secret identity.

Your little coloured stories have roots in at Hindu and Welsh mythology and legend (as well as many others). What makes you want to draw from these cultures?

Hemu deals quite a lot with a clash of two cultures that he identifies with, so the stories were purposefully a mix of Hindu and British themed stories (and the personal story introducing his family that mixes both). I specifically went to mythology style stories to link in with Hemu’s geeky interests in folklore.

One of the strongest relationships that we see is between Hemu and his grandfather. How has this relationship shaped Hemu before the story begins?

Because of their job, Hemu and his Gramps are always moving around, so there's never any chance for Hemu for root down and make friends. So with Grandpa being the only stability in Hemu's life, they’re really close!

Unfortunately, this has definitely made Hemu more shy/awkward around people, and lacking in confidence to tackle things without his Grandpa around.

As you've already mentioned, there’s a strong undercurrent of Hemu’s social anxiety that prevents him from fully connecting with any of his new neighbours. What are you drawing from for this component of the story?

Definitely personal experience!

I was a lot like Hemu when I was a bit younger - not really used to talking to people and really shy. The only time I could talk was when it was about whatever obscure thing I was intensely interested in at the time, so I put a lot of real life experiences into Hemu.

There are little notes and annotations that imply some kind of British comic influence. What comics (both contemporary and classic) do you draw influence from?

I’m not influenced by Beano or Dandy, even though I’ve worked for both of those comics. My cartoony style is mostly influenced by Osamu Tezuka. I really enjoy fusing exaggerated expressions with more serious stories.

I’m also very influenced by Posy Simmonds and Craig Thompson - especially their nice balance between inventive and cinematic panel layouts.

Do you see Strangers and Friends as complete in its current format? Where can people go to read it?

Yes! It was intended to be a self contained story, so I’m happy that its all finished!

I’m currently updating it online on Tapastic, so people can read it for free at: they can buy the books, which are split into two volumes! I’m currently only selling the books at conventions, but they’ll be online for sale soon!

Everyone has the story of the comic that got them hooked on the medium? What’s yours?

Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball! I’m from that generation of people who got into comics via the boom in Japanese comics.

At the time, there weren't many Western comics that had an appeal for me as a teenage girl, so Japanese comics were great at offering stories with female main characters and a wider range of art styles. Akira Toriyama specifically is amazing with panel layouts! Everything is so spacious and quick/easy to read! This style of storytelling really got me hooked, then as time went by I discovered more and more comics from all over the world doing similar things :)

You can find Rebecca (a.k.a. Theorah) in the Comixology Marquee at Table #127.

If you're exhibiting at Thought Bubble 2017 and want to flail enthusiastically about it with me, drop me an email ( Even if you're just attending, let me know what you're looking forward to this year on Twitter.

September 21, 2017

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Thought Bubble 2017 Interview - Robert Luckett

Thought Bubble is the premiere indie comic book festival in the UK. It runs annually from the thriving city of Leeds, bringing together people from all walks of life to celebrate the one thing that so many other conventions tend to forget: the comics.

Check out all of our Thought Bubble 2017 content here

Robert Luckett is a name that you might know from his extended work on BOOM! Studios' series of graphic novels based in the world of the much-loved Cartoon Network series Regular Show. His creator-owned series BUMSTORM follows the story of the young boy, Guff, in a world where weaponised farting is the norm. Quickly forming a tag-team with the competitive eater, Chu, the duo head off into this world that proves that any project that you dream is not only possible, but can be a absolute riot from start to finish. 

Mark Dickson: What have you done to make this series truly all-ages?

Robert Luckett: Working on the Regular Show graphic novels and through the fine editors at Boom!, I sort of learned what level of jokes would and wouldn’t be acceptable for an all-ages audience. Its inspirations, such as Dragon Ball and Pokémon, also straddle that space of appealing to kids and adults alike.

Kids seem to get absolutely hyped up about the superhero side of this farting adventure while parents and other adult readers seem to still, like me, find fart humour eternal.

What makes this story about a Farting Warrior deserving of your creative energies?

Luckett: It is my stupidest idea - and that is why it won’t let go of my mind! 

I’d been out of the drawing game for a very long time, but I found the resurgence in UK Small Press comics so utterly inspiring that I wanted to get back on the horse. I pushed myself to make a mini-comic to self-pub at Thought Bubble 2015 with the lowest stakes, and so it was BUMSTORM’s time to shine. 

I have a tendency to overdevelop projects and now I have enough story material noted down for Guff and Chu’s adventures that there’d be 300 issues if I only had the time! Probably going to be letting another of my comic ideas out of the cage next year so I don’t solely get known as “that fart guy”.

What have been some of the most memorable reactions to the series been?

Luckett: When I first told some of the local Leeds comic book shop owners about what I was working on, they were incredibly surprised it came out as this elaborate adventure comic and not just pages of bad fart puns.

Last year I was away from my table at Thought Bubble and my partner, Rachel Connor, was manning the stall. While I was stuck in a pitch panel that ran out of time and I didn’t even get to pitch at, upon seeing BUMSTORM a young boy unleashed the most hype that she’d ever seen a human being express for a comic book. 

I am sorry to this day I wasn’t there to meet this kid! Won’t be making that mistake twice.

How do you see the relationship between Chu and Guff evolving over time?

Luckett: Chu is Guff’s ticket to the globetrotting adventure he’s always dreamed of but at some point he’s going to have to come clean about him previously having a home at an orphanage. There’s a little moment of that in issue #3 (A Snake Amongst The Wind Farm) where he’s a bit overwhelmed over everything Chu has done for him.

In turn, Chu is hoping that being in such close proximity to the stinkiest creature on Earth is going to automatically help her over her smell sensitivity that plays havoc with her appetite. A competitor in the Hot Dog Eating World Championship is known to use dirty tricks to win, and she wants to steel herself completely against them.

Outside of the cartoons that you contribute to (i.e. Regular Show), which inspire you?

Luckett: Every week, everything that’s in Shonen Jump amazes me. What the creators in that magazine push themselves to create is awe inspiring but also a little bit terrifying? 

One Piece is the absolute gold standard of long running comics in my opinion. 20 years on and a boy with rubber limb powers story has continually spiralled out into this world of intrigue, suspense, and unparalleled creativity that goes from strength to strength. 

Right now My Hero Academia is scratching the X-Men itch for me and then some. I particularly like that its anime is on a season model, getting around the pacing issues that a weekly all-year-long cartoon has to face. 

I think what I look for most in comics and cartoons these days is their world building and continuity.  

What makes you want to bring Issue #3 to launch at Thought Bubble?

Luckett: Leeds is where I live so I am hugely proud and thankful that the UK’s greatest comic convention takes place here every year. When the comic community descends upon the city I lurk within all year round anyway, it is this electric feeling that I can’t quite describe. The hype pushes me to create and I’ll never forget the feeling I had tabling for the first time in 2015 and selling my comics directly to other people. 

If I won the lottery, luxury yachts can shove it. It’d all just go back into making cool stuff.

What else will you be offering to entice potential patrons?

Luckett: I’ve got three of these here BUMSTORM comics now, so it was well past time for a super special looking bundle pack. The BUMSTORM MEGA PACK will include issues #1, #2, & #3 as well as some original art and all wrapped up nice like. 

I wrote BUMSTORM: A Snake Amongst The Wind Farm to be more of a standalone adventure too so anyone wanting to jump on board for a one-off experience can enjoy it by itself. My partner and I, Rachel Connor, will also have some limited stock of the Regular Show graphic novels we co-wrote. 

The ol’ licensed property, original property pitch one two punch. (No actual punching involved).

Is there an upcoming combat-usage of farting that you’re most excited to show?

Luckett: Every issue has a double spread where I go out of my way to impress with one of Guff’s big new techniques. The tournament he’s seeking to enter has strict rules about no punching or kicking, so all of his techniques rely upon his wind power. There’s also a medical reason he’s able to generate such explosive farts as well that’s yet to be revealed. However, he’s going to need to meet one of the great Flatulords and study under them to upgrade all of his techniques.

Beaney, a boy who can conjure burp-beasts depending on animals he’s eaten before, is also a whole new creative avenue to explore later on in the story.

I’ve also sketched these demon like creatures that live underground with butts on their heads called Sulfurians that’ll turn up at some point.

It’s probably about time someone diagnosed me really isn’t it.

Everyone has the story of the comic that got them hooked on the medium? What’s yours?

Luckett: Sonic the Comic (UK Version). I guess in a way that primed me for the Shonen Jump format years later as every fortnight it wasn’t just the blue hedgehog’s adventures inside but Streets of Rage, Wonder Boy, Sparkster, and more. I’m a big videogame nut as well, so the faithful adaptations the comic did of the Sonic games were some truly incredible stuff. Every Saturday morning I’d pour through that comic, draw my own panels, the works.

I got into the American comics side years later just as Spider-Man was going through the Clone Saga in the UK collections, so I have a strangely special place in my heart for the Scarlet Spider and all that madness. The first X-Men comic I picked up was a UK republish of Uncanny X-Men 275. These crazy colourful cosmic adventures pencilled by Jim Lee. What a time to be alive!

Robert Luckett and his vapourific volumes can be found in the Leeds Town Hall Marquee at Table #36. Head on down and tell him your best fart stories - he's looking for inspiration for his next issues of BUMSTORM (not actually, but you should do it anyway).

If you're exhibiting at Thought Bubble 2017 and want to flail enthusiastically about it with me, drop me an email ( Even if you're just attending, let me know what you're looking forward to this year on Twitter.

September 20, 2017

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Catch It at the Comic Shop September 20th, 2017

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 three single issues and one trade for your consideration, with a little bit about why we like it.

James' Picks:

Black Hammer #13 by Jeff Lemire and David Rubin, Published by Dark Horse.
Black Hammer is simply one of the very best comics I'm reading these days. It's a riff on classic superhero types, but it's so much more than that. It's sad and lovely and weird and emotionally haunting, and each issue is a real treat. The art from David Rubin is just wonderful and dynamic and engaging.

Dept. H #18 by Matt and Sharlene Kindt, Published by Dark Horse.
Matt and Sharlene Kindt have succeeded in telling a terrific and very different follow-up to Matt's amazing Mind MGMT.  Dept. H is claustrophobic and weird and really dives (pun intended) into the lives of the group of characters that are stranded in an undersea base that turns into something of a deathtrap. The Kindts really convey the alien nature of the world down there, and the alienation that all of the characters are feeling for various reasons.

Angelic #1 by Simon Spurrier and Casper Wijngaard, Published by Image Comics.
This one is exciting and really out-there. This is a future world where there are no more people and the animals have evolved in some unusual ways. This is one of the more original, interesting comics I've read in a while. I'm not 100% sure what to make of it yet, and that's a good thing. Spurrier's story and the terrific art from Casper Wijngaard make this unlike most other books you might read this week.

Generation Gone #3 by Ales Kot and Andre Araujo, Published by Image Comics.
I'd drifted away from Ales Kot comics for a while, but I've been drawn back with Generation Gone, which is a compelling take on the story of millennial hackers getting super powers, and where the story goes from there. It's got great art and a compelling hook, and Kot remains a talented writer and storyteller.

[Editor's note: Welcome to Mike, one of our new writers, making his debut with this entry!]

Mike’s Picks:
Amazing Age #3 (of 5) by Matthew David Smith and Jeremy Massie, published by Alterna Comics.
I have loved everything I’ve read in the Alterna Comics family since they launched their “bringing back newsprint” campaign roughly six months ago. Amazing Age is my favorite. It bleeds just enough nostalgia, and reminds us of the simpler days when we imagined we were the superheroes in our favorite books. And, it’s only $1.50. Right?
Bug: The Adventures of Forager by The Allreds, published by DC Comics/Young Animal
The Allred Family Kirby homage is easily the zaniest book on the stands. I’ve been re-reading the set of published issues the day each new book arrives in stories because of the cavernous narrative Lee Allred has built. This series has been heavy on reference, and certainly stands as a testament to the forgotten creations of Kirby’s Silver Age DC runs. More than anything else, though, it exists as a meditation on the nature of creation and the afterlife, the revolving door of death, and most notably, the ability to construct one’s own reality.

Super Sons # 8 by Peter Tomasi and Jorge Jiminez, published by DC Comics
Grant Morrison may have created Damian Wayne, but Peter Tomasi has defined the character for years. Super Sons has been one of my favorite reads since it debuted. Tomasi knows how to strike a balance in tone that is absolutely crucial to a serious book starring somewhat goofy kids. Jiminez also possesses a somewhat more intricate take on “cartoon” style art that allows the reader to slide into the proper visual setup. Tomasi is ultimately a character writer, and this series has been wonderful for the development of both Damian and Jonathan.

DC Meets Hanna Barbara TPB, by Marc AndreykoSteve LieberAriel Olivetti, et. al., published by DC Comics

My recommendations this week are as heavy on the DC side as they are on overt nostalgia. While Rebirth has been a remarkable success, DC’s reimagined series and crossover work with other Warner properties has shown that the company all too synonymous with dark, gritty storylines (many of those absolute classics) has discovered the benefits of a more lighthearted approach. This collection brings together such charming mash ups as The Suicide Squad/Banana Splits, and my personal favorite, James Tynion and Ariel Olivetti’s Space Ghost/Green Lantern story that should have already served as a launching pad for an ongoing series or at least a mini-series by now I mean come on DC are you listening to the people or not?! Whew – things got weird there for a minute.

September 17, 2017

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Thought Bubble 2017 Interview - Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou

Thought Bubble is the premiere indie comic book festival in the UK. It runs annually from the thriving city of Leeds, bringing together people from all walks of life to celebrate the one thing that so many other conventions tend to forget: the comics.

Check out all of our Thought Bubble 2017 content here

Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou is attending the festival primarily as an attendee, but has a very special live version of his beloved YouTube video series Strip Panel Naked. With a star-studded line-up of guests, Hassan is bringing his unique and in-demand analytical eye to tell you exactly what to buy at the country's premiere comic festival.

Mark Dickson: Where might people know you online?

Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou: If people know me at all it’s probably through my YouTube channel, Strip Panel Naked. I used to write under that title for the now-defunct ComicsAlliance website, too. Oh, and maybe through PanelxPanel magazine! 

Or just spouting off about comics on Twitter, I guess.

With a background in filmmaking, what made you want to make the jump to comic analysis?

Otsmane-Elhaou: I’ve always been a big fan of comics, in between bouts of taking time off from reading them when life got busy, but I always gravitated back towards them. Analysing comics in the way I do through the magazine and YouTube show is something I’ve always done, ever since I started doing it with films, but I just never had a good outlet for it before! I find the process of storytelling through this medium absolutely fascinating, and it was something where I was really struggling to find anyone who was writing about it in the way that really interested me., so I figured I may as well do it.

I do think there are a lot of translatable elements between storytelling in film and comics, both of them being predominantly visual mediums, so a lot of the education I got through filmmaking ends up informing a lot of what I talk about with comics. The jump wasn’t too difficult, but the challenge of adapting what I’d learned for film and seeing how that actually works with comics, and what works differently, was a really fun challenge.

Beyond comic criticism, do you have any creator-owned projects that you’re working on?

I have an all-ages book called The Unlikely Story of Felix and Macabber that we’re probably going to be announcing something about soon. I was in touch with an artist called Juni Ba, and the moment I saw his work I just needed to work with him on something, so we came up with this idea about monsters and wrestling and masculinity, and that’s our book. Sometimes you just see some greatness and want to be involved in it somehow, and that was me with Juni!

What can people expect from you at this year’s Thought Bubble?

Awkward conversation, a bald head, bright shirts? 

Beyond that, I’m doing a live version of Strip Panel Naked on the Sunday morning at 11am, on the Victoria Hall stage. As part of the show on YouTube, I often get creators on there and we break down some of the visual storytelling in their work. So at Thought Bubble I’ve got Jordie Bellaire, Christian Ward, Declan Shalvey and Aditya Bidikar doing the same. 

We’re going to be bouncing around through some of their pages, and talking individually how they attacked certain moments, and how that contrasts or correlates with what the others did. Hopefully it’s going to be a fun deep-dive into some craft.

Really chuffed that I could get some of my favourite people in comics today to be on the panel, too, and it means we can cover all aspects from writing, art, colouring and lettering. Aditya even travelled all the way from India to be on the panel (that was definitely his only reason).

I’ve also got a small amount of print copies of PanelxPanel magazine with me that I’ll be flogging after the panel, or just around if you see me, so there’s a bit of a rareity there.

What perspective do you hope each of the creators on your Thought Bubble panel will bring?

Well I wanted to make sure we can talk a little about everything. 

With Shalvey and Bellaire you’ve got two people who just had writing credits on new Image books and Bellaire is just one of the best colourists in the game, with Shalvey also being a fantastic artist. Chirstian Ward is doing some of my favourite superhero work in Black Bolt every month, and Bidikar is one of the best letterers you’ll find in comics. 

So between the four of them, we can cover most bases of creating a comic, and talk about how each part adds, changes, or improves the storytelling in some way.

Interior page for The Unlikely Story of Felix
and Macabber
by Juni Ba
What’s one comic that you’ve been waiting for the opportunity to talk about, but haven’t quite found the angle yet?

Well I really want to cover Chris Ware’s Building Stories

I know what I want to say about it (mostly) but for that it’s more about figuring out the way I need to go about filming it! It’s so much about the physical experience that I don’t think I could do it in the way I traditionally present episodes of Strip Panel Naked, so that’s one to figure out...

Is there one “Must Read” graphic novel/comic series that people won’t believe that you haven’t read?
Most manga series! I’m pretty behind with a lot of those, but it’s the kind of thing I get requested most often so there's not much that I haven’t read at least a little of. 

Beyond that, I haven’t read a whole tonnes of classic superhero stuff generally, so there’s so many runs I’m way, way behind on. The classic X-Men Chris Claremont run came up earlier this week for the new issue of PanelxPanel, and that’s one I don’t think I’ve read any issues of at all that is now on my Marvel Unlimited queue!

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Thought Bubble?
I’m really looking forward to meeting Chris Brunner. I’m in awe of the work he did on Loose Ends, and his guest issue from Southern Bastards, but he’s a guy that really knows what he’s doing. So I hope he’s got a spare few minutes for me to get excited near him. 

Chris Ward is a guy I’ve chatted to a bunch but have yet to meet in person, so that’s always good/weird to do that. Of course Alex Paknadel gives a wonderful hug, so that’s always a highlight.

Everyone’s got the story of the comic that got them hooked on the medium. What’s yours?

It’s a boring one to say, but Watchmen was the book that cemented comics were brilliant. I’d read very few comics before that, a small handful really, but it was Watchmen that told me comics could be something really, really great. 

That was cemented reading things afterwards like Maus and Blankets and Essex County Trilogy, but Watchmen was the one.

If you're exhibiting at Thought Bubble 2017 and want to flail enthusiastically about it with me, drop me an email ( Even if you're just attending, let me know what you're looking forward to this year on Twitter.

September 16, 2017

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SPX Spotlight 2017: The Nib Lines Up as Great Comics

It's another entry in Panel Patter's not Patented SPX Spotlight feature! We're ready to provide you with some great pre-show coverage for one of the best comic shows in the United States! In a show with nearly 700 exhibitors, we'll help you find some of the best! You can read all our SPX Spotlights from 2017 and prior shows here.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be in this political hell we live in without The Nib, and I shudder. Sure, there are plenty of places to help me learn about politics, but The Nib is one of the best out there, because it blends facts with figures--drawn figures that is.

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SPX Spotlight 2017: Fantagraphics Set the Pace, As Usual

It's another entry in Panel Patter's not Patented SPX Spotlight feature! We're ready to provide you with some great pre-show coverage for one of the best comic shows in the United States! In a show with nearly 700 exhibitors, we'll help you find some of the best! You can read all our SPX Spotlights from 2017 and prior shows here.

As usual, Fantagraphics, one of the oldest publishers of small press comics, will have a huge presence at SPX this year. We've written extensively about Fantagraphics over the years, and it's no surprise, given the wide variety of diverse, quality books they put out on a yearly basis. They're one of the best at reprinting classics, like Steve Ditko's horror work, Charles Schulz's complete Peanuts run, or spotlights on specific EC creators. You'll also find them as the primary home of such noted creators as the Hernandez Brothers and Dan Clowes. They've published histories of comics by Trina Robbins. Newer stars like Noah Van Sciver, Richard Sala, Simon Hanselmann, and so many others also call Fantagraphics home for a good portion of their work. It's basically one-stop shopping for great comics, and no trip to SPX is complete without stopping there and spending money.

Fanta has a great set of new books out for the fall, such as:

September 15, 2017

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Thought Bubble 2017 Interview - Michael Sambrook, Rosie Packwood

Thought Bubble is the premiere indie comic book festival in the UK. It runs annually from the thriving city of Leeds, bringing together people from all walks of life to celebrate the one thing that so many other conventions tend to forget: the comics.

Check out all of our Thought Bubble 2017 content here

Mike Sambrook is attending the festival with his cohorts from Madius Comics, overflowing from their two tables with their shimmering sweet-potato line of comics. Teaming up with artist Rosie Packwood (a.k.a. PocketM0use) to compound the energy with her bright and bubbly art, their new all-ages series Bun has a hell of a lot to offer the world.

Mark Dickson: Tell me the origin story of Bun and his world.

Rosie Packwood: Bun started life as an answer to the question ‘what if a bunny was big enough to fight?’. Expecting some kind of energetic kickboxer, the big paws and chunky eyebrows of Bun was a pleasant surprise. From that moment on, the purpose of Bun and his world was to flip as many expectations on their head as possible.

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SPX Spotlight 2017: An Interview with Rachel Dukes

It's another entry in Panel Patter's not Patented SPX Spotlight feature! We're ready to provide you with some great pre-show coverage for one of the best comic shows in the United States! In a show with nearly 700 exhibitors, we'll help you find some of the best! You can read all our SPX Spotlights from 2017 and prior shows here.

We at Panel Patter love Rachel Dukes, the prolific anthology contributor and creator of Frankie Comics. Rachel's style works great for telling the story of Frankie, her stray cat, with its ability to capture emotion in a few lines. At the same time, she can use that same emotion to explain the dangers of the American health system or a loving couple tied to a space program that's using them both. She's graciously agreed to many an interview over the past few years, and I had a chance to ask her a few questions in advance of the Small Press Expo about re-starting Frankie Comics, her varying comics projects, and why politics and comics are so intricately linked.

Rachel Dukes and Fankie, in her own lines.

September 13, 2017

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Catch it at the Comic Shop September 13th, 2017

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 three single issues and one trade for your consideration, with a little bit about why we like it.

James' Picks:

Retcon #1 by Matt Nixon, Toby Cypress and Matt Kroetzer, Published by Image Comics.
This looks like a weird series delving into the realm of mind-control, crazy supernatural phenomena, and the fact that everything we see and experience may be a retcon of a previous version of reality.  I've read the first issue and I can tell you it's terrific. Toby Cypress is the perfect artist for this sort of story; his art is psychedelic and grimy and weird but somehow also grounded. If you're looking for a series delving into the mystical, the supernatural and science fiction, this first issue is definitely worth a look.

Black Science #31 by Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera, Published by Image Comics.
Black Science is a series that started out with a great premise (Sliders meets Fantastic Four meets angst and dysfunction and punk rock) but it's turned out to be something more, something different than that. It's all of those things, but it's also a story about loss and regret and about living with our choices. It's also got some the wildest, most out-there exciting art of the past few years thanks to the amazing Matteo Scalera and a few different very talented colorists. His art is kinetic and fun and dramamtic, and always worth a look. Black Science is a terrific, emotionally affecting, science fiction series.

Dark Nights: Metal #2 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, Published by DC Comics.
Not the typical sort of pick for us, but I just recently read the 2 prequels to this series and the first issue of this series and I'm excited for this next issue.  This series is legitimately bonkers.  It feels a little like writer Scott Snyder channeling his inner Grant Morrison.  It's pulling in story aspects from decades of DC continuity, and feels like it's attempting to create a grand unified theory that ties these disparate aspects together. In doing so, it's bringing back classic DC characters and teams that haven't been seen for a while.  Greg Capullo (and the rest of the art team) provide terrific, dynamic art - this really is a fun read. I honestly don't know what's precisely going on in this story, but I'm excited to read it, hoping the creative team can pull it off.

Rob's Picks:

Harrow County #25 by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook, Published by Dark Horse Comics.
I just had the pleasure of talking briefly with Tyler Crook about this series, and telling him just how much I love it. A pitch-perfect gothic horror story set in the South without falling into stereotypes, Crook is a big reason the series works so well, from his Eisner-like title sequences to being able to get the maximum scare value out of each image. Crook can use the gore or the gotcha with equal skill, and never overdoes it. Bunn is stellar as usual, with plotting and pacing that will surprise you. And oh yeah, did I mention this is the story of the daughter of a witch who has to fight the other magical forces in her home town, which is building to an explosion as we hit this issue? No, okay, now I just did. Check this out, then go back and catch up.

Hellboy and the BPRD: 1955 - Occult Intelligence #1 by Mike Mignola, Chris Roberson, Brian Churilla, and Dave Stewart, Published by Dark Horse Comics.
Going to the Dark Horse well a second time here, and really, kinda unintentionally doing a horror-themed week, I guess. (What can I say? I love horror comics of all kinds.) These stories are from early in Hellboy's career, where he has little knowledge of what's to come and the people around him may not be so sure about working with this demon-like figure, given he's kinda the other side of the coin they protect against. Add the excellent Chris Roberson to the mix along with Brian Churilla, who's no stranger to bulky-looking characters, and you're off the the races as Hellboy and his team visit a mysterious island. A great starting point if you haven't read Hellboy in awhile.

Rocky and Bullwinkle Show #1 by Todd Livingston, Jacob Greewalt, and S. L. Gallant, published by American Mythology Productions.
Okay, I admit this one's a reach--I know nothing about this comic or its creators. What I do know is that Rocky and Bullwinkle has great potential for working well in comics, ala the Simpsons. And with Russia in the news lately, there's a really good ground for using the evil henchpeople to send up some current events without coming on too strong. Unlike the others I've done, this isn't a "you must buy it" but I wanted to call attention to it, so that you can get moose and squirrel, too, and see what you think.

Halloween Tales by  Olivier Boiscommun and Denis-Pierre Filippi, published by Humanoids.
Is it too early to start repping Halloween books? Silly question! This gorgeous-looking book features three short stories that intertwine Halloween with human emotion. I've admittedly only read the preview pages so far, but they look spectacular, with detailed characters and backgrounds that look painted based on what I can see. This isn't the same horror as Harrow County, but it's definitely something I'm looking forward to reading.

September 11, 2017

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SPX Spotlight 2017- Ben Passmore's Your Black Friend

It's another entry in Panel Patter's not Patented SPX Spotlight feature! We're ready to provide you with some great pre-show coverage for one of the best comic shows in the United States! In a show with nearly 700 exhibitors, we'll help you find some of the best! You can read all our SPX Spotlights from 2017 and prior shows here.

Ben Passmore wants you to know that your black friend isn’t who or what you think he is. In his comic Your Black Friend, Passmore pokes holes in the idea that you can think you know someone just by his or her appearance and skin color. But it’s more than just a black vs. white comic book as Passmore writes more about experience than about conflict. Starting with an encounter of a black man hearing a white woman crow about calling the cops on a (to her) suspicious man, Passmore traces the expectations that this black man faces daily from both white and black people. Your Black Friend shows how someone who exists as an individual becomes a different symbol to different people.

While the central conceit of this comic is around a black vs. white encounter, Passmore is far more interested in exploring how it’s impossible for a black man to live up to the expectations and fears that the world, made up of both black and white people, has for him. He’s a criminal, a warrior, a thug, an ambassador and a symbol. Your Black Friend is expected to be every black man. Passmore shows how this is really just a guy, trying to have a drink and just live his own life, not defined by color but defined by his own personhood. Even the title Your Black Friend is accusatory because Passmore introduces the idea that this man isn’t just your friend but that he ticks off some box about quotas or requirements you may have for friends.

I really wanted to read Your Black Friend and say “but that’s not me.” It’s not just that Passmore is telling a story about a black man’s experience but he puts you, the reader, into the book with that title. Passmore puts you into the position of being the one who has made these stereotypical assumptions about this man that’s supposedly your friend. On a very basic level, it’s easy to read Passmore’s story as just a “don’t judge a book by its cover” type of story that is very incomplete ways could be told of Muslims, Indian, Chinese or nearly any people and there are elements of truth to that. But Passmore is speaking from a very specific racial point of view and also a very American point of view so that his comic

As Passmore uses this comic to describe the mind frame of a young, black man, he shows a man who’s ultimately confused because he’s not what his white friends or his black think he is or should be. Your Black Friend is about the horrible weaknesses of trying to define anyone by things like appearance or generalities and no one is spared from Passmore’s critical eye. Reading this book and thinking “that’s not me” causes all kinds of confusion (“but maybe it is me” being the most troubling one) and that’s probably what Passmore wants. Through that confusion, Passmore is asking us to not judge or draw conclusions on something that should be as inconsequential as skin color and appearance.

September 9, 2017

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Jem: A Love Letter (Jem: The Misfits Volume 1 by Kelly Thompson, Jenn St-Onge, M. Victoria Robado and Shawn Lee)

Written by Kelly Thompson
Art by Jenn St-Onge
Colours & Lyrics Lettering by M. Victoria Robado
Letters & Design by Shawn Lee

The “retcon” (retroactive continuity) has been inherent to the comics medium ever since the first creator decided that they needed a superhero, be they the absentee Captain America or the actively deceased Professor Xavier, back in the fold. The medium swallowed the concept with relish and it soon became one of the core concepts that the mainstream would keep returning to; the revolving door of death depreciates the impact of mortal peril because readers know that it will always be undone at a later date.

September 8, 2017

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I Miss The Old-School Comic Squabbles
(Weekend Pattering for Friday, Sept 8th, 2018)


For more information and help about what Trump's ending of DACA means, visit

Previously on Panel Patter

Cover of the Next Week

I don't think we'll ever get tired of singing the praises of Francesco Francavilla around here. 

This and That

*** Little Red and Big Bad (The Paris Review)-- I somehow missed that Gabrielle Bell was doing the true biography of Little Red Riding Hood as a comic for The Paris Review.  

*** Dark Horse announces Hellboy Omnibus editions with new Mike Mignola covers (Entertainment Weekly)--  EW has news that Dark Horse is going to be republishing Hellboy as a series of four Omnibus volumes and will be publishing Mike Mignola's Hellboy series in chronological order.  That actually has me debating double/triple dipping on this series but I'm concerned about what version of DH's omnibuses these will be?  Will these be the slightly-larger-than-digest-size omnibuses (omnibii?) that they've repackages so much old-school independent comics in or will these be at least full size (if not slightly larger) format books?
Fortunately for such fans, Dark Horse’s new Omnibus editions will collect the Hellboy saga in chronological order. The main story is now split into four big volumes (Seed of Destruction, Strange Places, The Wild Hunt, and Hellboy In Hell) with two additional volumes covering The Complete Short Stories. Best of all, these volumes all come with brand-new Mignola artwork for covers. The first volumes will be available in summer 2018, with the remainder to follow in the following fall and winter.

Your Moment of old school TCJ

*** Yoe Books: A Disservice to Comics History (The Comics Journal)--  So RJ Casey went after Craig Yoe and the books he produces in classic The Comics Journal Style.  Gary Groth and Kim Thompson must be proud of Casey.
All of these choices are unintentionally comical, sure, but they point to something deeper and depressing. With all these goofy, throwaway intentions comes contempt for the creators. Comics are art—that battle has been fought and won—but Yoe fumbles with this idea as much as he does with a high-res scanner. He has published books (albeit lesser works) by the upper echelon of cartoonists. People like Dick Briefer, Steve Ditko, and Frank Frazetta deserve the appreciation they’ve rightly garnered, but when published by Yoe Books, they are always second on the call sheet. That’s because Craig Yoe values the collector over the artist. For him, the wistful idea of a rolled-up comic book stuffed into the pocket of his dungarees trumps the tangible fact that these cartoonists unceremoniously toiled away years of their lives to create all this “dumb fun.”
I honestly don't know if Casey's criticisms of Yoe's books are accurate or not because I really haven't read much of what Yoe has repackaged.  I guess I can see a bit of Casey's concerns about Yoe's books but Casey's writing feels more full of emotion than reason.  It's vitriolic but I don't know if it really makes the argument that way.

But this is a post that's worth wading into the comments for because some of the commenters provide more evidence of possibly shady business dealings-- nothing that seems illegal but just kind of morally iffy.  Again, I don't have any idea what's the truth here and what's just fiction but there's some stuff about Yoe that I would like to see followed up on one way or another.

And that tweet above is just Yoe trolling Fantagraphics, isn't it?

Current Mood

September 7, 2017

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Spx Spotlight 2017/Rose City Comic Con Preview: Interview with Kel McDonald

It's another entry in Panel Patter's not Patented SPX Spotlight feature! We're ready to provide you with some great pre-show coverage for one of the best comic shows in the United States! In a show with nearly 700 exhibitors, we'll help you find some of the best! You can read all our SPX Spotlights from 2017 and prior shows here.

Kel McDonald, hard at work

September 6, 2017

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Rose City Preview: Image Comics Goes All Out in "First" Hometown Show

The Rose City Comic Con is this weekend, September 8-10, at the Oregon Convention Center just on the other side of the river from Downtown Portland, Oregon. While Image Comics has always had a presence at the show in the form of creators, this is their first year with RCCC as their home show and their first time exhibiting there as an entire publisher.

It's also their 25th anniversary, so Image is planning some really cool things for the show. You can see the entire details at this link, but I'm borrowing from it liberally along with some notes.

Con exclusives are a big part of Image's thing when they table at shows. I got a Kate Leth variant at SDCC, which I paid extra for, but I really wanted. Here's a few exclusives that are likely to be of interest to Panel Patter readers:
  • MAGE #1 by Matt Wagner, cover by Wagner  
    • A.D.: AFTER DEATH hardcover by Scott Snyder & Jeff Lemire, cover by Lemire, $40
    • GOD COUNTRY hardcover by Donny Cates & Geoff Shaw, cover by Shaw, $35
    • KILL OR BE KILLED, VOL. 1 hardcover by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips & Elizabeth Breitweiser, $35
    • MONSTRESS, VOL. 2 hardcover by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda, cover by Takeda, $35
Image is also hosting three panels, and they aren't shy about giving them some Stan Lee-worthy names:
Image Comics: The Future of Adventure
Friday, 6:30 pm, Room 6

Decades ago, comics captured the hearts of millions thanks to the creative and never-before-seen adventures on the printed page. Now, the tradition continues, thanks to creators like Steve Lieber (THE FIX), Meredith Finch (ROSE), Valentine de Landro (BITCH PLANET), Kelly Sue DeConnick (BITCH PLANET), and two very special and unexpected guests. Join these creators as they discuss the art of the thrill, and balancing free-wheeling adventure tales against their real life counterparts.

Image Comics: The Future of Storytelling
Saturday, 2:30 pm, Room 6

Image Comics is home to some of the best storytellers in the comics business. The trick isn't using the same pencil or ink as your hero—it's thinking about comics in new and exciting ways. Emma Ríos (PRETTY DEADLY), Daniel Warren Johnson (EXTREMITY), Nick Dragotta (EAST OF WEST), Leila del Duca(AFAR), and Matt Wilson (THE WICKED + THE DIVINE) co-create some of the most beautiful comics on the shelves, and are going to give you the most valuable art lesson you'll get all year.

Image Comics: The Future of Genre
Sunday, 10:30 am, Room 6

The Future of Comics is in stories for everyone. In comics, any genre can be a smash hit or connect with readers. Do you like romance, horror, autobio, action, comedy, slice-of-life, or something else entirely? Greg Rucka (BLACK MAGICK), Michael Lark (LAZARUS), Megan Hutchison (ROCKSTARS), Joe Harris (ROCKSTARS), Brenden Fletcher (MOTOR CRUSH), and Matt Fraction (SEX CRIMINALS) create works that run the gamut and may just capture your heart.
Sadly, I don't know that I'll be able to make any of these, but all three sound very interesting. If you go, please tweet about them so I can follow along later!

Here are the special signings that Panel Patter followers are likely to dig:

*wristbands will be available for fans to pick as soon as doors open, first come, first served, at the Image booth on the day of the desired ticketed signing.

3-3:45 PM Kelly Sue DeConnick & Valentine de Landro (wristbands req.)
5-5:45 PM Greg Rucka (wristbands req.)
6-6:45 PM Matt Wagner

12-12:45 PM Greg Rucka & Michael Lark (wristbands req.)
2-2:45 PM Matt Wagner
3-3:45 PM Donny Cates (wristbands req.)
4-4:45 PM Kelly Sue DeConnick & Emma Ríos (wristbands req.)

12-12:45 PM Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky (wristbands req.)
1-1:45 PM Nick Dragotta
Image also has a complete list of their associated creators who will be at the show. A selected list appears below:


Cates, Donny II-10
Dalrymple, Farel AA-02
DeConnick, Kelly Sue U-09
De Landro, Valentine U-08
Del Duca, Leila 611 
Dewey, Benjamin 611
Dragotta, Nick L-07
Fraction, Matt U-10
Gibbons, Dave 718
Harris, Joe F-01
Kaplan, Zack G-07
Lark, Michael B-02
Lenox, Emi T-01
Lieber, Steve 611
Mooneyham, Chris L-10
Nguyen, Dustin U-01
Parker, Tony N-09
Pitarra, Nick L-08
Ríos, Emma T-12
Roberson, Chris Y-01
Rucka, Greg B-01
Sebela, Christopher M-07
Wagner, Matt GG-01
Ward, Malachi Y-10
Williamson, Joshua II-01
Zdarsky, Chip U-11

Whew! That's a ton of people. If you're a fan of Image Comics, this is a great show for you to attend. I hope you'll visit these folks and buy some of their comics. Gotta pay for overpriced con food somehow, right?