July 20, 2018

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SDCC News: Black Mask Calexit Special Issue Benefits Immigrants

Black Mask announced that they have a special, San Diego themed issue of Calexit available at the con, and that proceeds will benefit immigrants trapped in the nightmare of the current administration's policies.

From the press release:

As the lines between fictional dystopias and our actual reality continue to blur, critically acclaimed comic book CALEXIT is making a difference for real families at the Mexican border. Profits from the brand new CALEXIT: ALL SYSTEMS SAN DIEGO #1 will be donated to San Diego Rapid Response Network, an organization dedicated to aiding immigrants and their families in the San Diego border region. Writer Matteo Pizzolo teamed with artist Carlos Granda (Pirouette, Grant Morrison’s upcoming Sinatoro), colorist Lauren Affe(upcoming Stranger Things), and cover artists Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night) and Tyler Boss (4 Kids Walk Into A Bank, upcoming Mr. Robot) to create the new CALEXIT story, which goes on sale this week at San Diego Comic Con. The comic book, a story within the CALEXIT world, features all new characters in a San Diego-based adventure.

“CALEXIT is an optimistic dystopia. It’s about people living in a world gone mad who still struggle through the chaos to try to do the right thing, to try to help one another,” said Pizzolo. “Our job is to tell the most entertaining story we can, but we’re also blessed with such a supportive readership that we can use the book’s earnings to help people in our own world gone mad.”

July 19, 2018

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An Interview with Matt Kindt about the MIND MGMT Kickstarter

We're big fans of Matt Kindt's work here at Panel Patter. Matt's a fantastic, imaginative writer and artist of a number of complex, reality-bending, engaging stories. In particular, I'm a huge fan of his series MIND MGMT. So, when Matt announced a MIND MGMT Kickstarter for a comic and record, not only was I thrilled to support this effort, but I jumped at the chance to interview Matt via email about the project.   

JK: Matt, thanks for taking the time to connect with me. I’m sure this is a busy time, with your MIND MGMT Kickstarter going live this week. The project hit its goal within the first few hours! You must feel pretty gratified about that level of support.

Yeah – I can’t tell you. I woke up at 6am the day of launch – super worried. It kind of snuck up on me. Only because it’s a very public way to fail miserably. I was completely surprised by the amount of response. It was super humbling – very gratifying. And everyone that’s backing seems super engaged. And the excitement about the project to me is placed in just the right spot. Everyone’s excited about the content. The story. Not any superficial stuff. What I really love about the Kickstarter platform is that it is a really great direct way to connect with readers. I’m not a faceless corporation pumping out product. I’m just a dude trying to make some mind-bending comics (and record). Ha ha!

It’s a lot like performing live, you know? I’m feeding off of all of this energy that everyone is giving me every day – and I’m pouring it right into this project. The story and art is done – but there are a lot of extra layers that I’m really excited to start adding in. It’s going to be a lot bigger than I initially planned. We still have nearly 30 days before it’s over!

JK: Your description of the project on Kickstarter referenced your love of read-along books and records as a kid, and a desire to create that sort of project for adults. I loved the one I had for Return of the Jedi! Would this be something you’d consider further pursuing, either with another record, or as a podcast, or in some other form?

I’m not sure. I really haven’t thought past this project. Each project I do is dependent on the story. This story specifically – only works as a comic book and record. If I did continue, I’d have to think of a story that would justify that treatment. So right now – it’s a one-off unique art-object kind of thing. But I’ve always loved radio plays – so I could see writing audio plays in the future. I think that’d be fun. I’ve always wanted to adapt my first book (Pistolwhip) into an audio play. And Super Spy would lend itself to some great audio shorts. But the combination of a comic book with audio – it’s tricky. If you just illustrate the audio story then it kind of seems pointless to me. You’re not milking either medium to their full effect put together. This comic/record combo was a real challenge. It needed to be this way – but figuring out a story that needed to be told this way was super tricky.

JK: The combined book-and-record approach for MIND MGMT feels like a logical extension of the structural nature of the comic, where you were already using the idea of concurrent related (and sometimes contradictory) stories moving at the same time. Were there any additional creative challenges involved in pacing a record to be read along with a comic?

The technical aspects of it all. Without Clint McElroy there was NO way this was going to happen. I needed a great voice actor and I don’t really know that many. And finding one that’s a huge MIND MGMT fan? Even harder to find. So he took care of the hardest part. The other challenges were learning how to edit and layer audio. I’ve done a lot of video and music editing (for fun) so it wasn’t much different than that. It was really fun to set the mood with soundscapes and ambient sounds and music. There are SO many layers to this project. I had to just break it down into pieces and work on it a little at a time…the final project is really nuts. Because you’ve got this comic that goes with it that has just as many layers. Side text and subtle textures and subliminal messages in the art as well as the many meanings of text and pictures combined that all comics have. It’s probably going to take 4 or 5 times through this thing to really decipher all that there is in it.

JK: MIND MGMT was filled with subliminal messages and instructions embedded in advertising, music and other media, which feels prescient in this era of “fake news” and outrage from fake bot accounts. When you were first thinking about the role of disinformation in MIND MGMT, did you have the impact of modern technology and media (and its potential for disinformation) in mind?

It’s an interesting time to be alive for sure. Who could have predicted that? I honestly don’t hold myself up as some kind of prognosticator or futurist. But I think you really can’t go wrong as a writer if you just tap into basic human nature. Just telling someone a story is a way of shading the truth or bending “reality.” Every living human being is a filter that truth goes through and filters…filter. Ha ha! The mind is the ultimate filter – and most of them are pretty dirty.

JK: What, in particular, inspired your choice to have 10% of proceeds go to Hispanic Federation? Beyond just wanting to support Puerto Rican reconstruction, an extremely worthy cause.

Clint volunteered his time on this project and he spent many many hours in the studio recording this. And I wasn’t going to NOT compensate him. But he wouldn’t take it. So I asked him to name a charity and I’d donate to that and match his donation. The Hispanic Federation was his choice and I’m so happy to be a part of helping them out and actually doing some real concrete good in the world with comic books.

JK: Thank you for your time! I can’t wait to read and listen to the story.

Thanks for having me! Stay tuned! We’re going to be announcing some surprises during the Kickstarter this month – a lot of stuff being added as a kind of “thank you” to everyone that’s backing it!

[Thanks to David Hyde of Superfan Promotions for arranging the interview, and to Rob (my very smart editor) for suggesting it!].

July 18, 2018

July 17, 2018

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Catch It at the Comic Shop July 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...

James' Picks:

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SDCC Preview: Boom! Has Comics, Conversation, and Creators for You

Usually, when I get ready to go to a con, I tell you why you should go. Well, that's a little silly when it comes to San Diego Comic-Con. So Instead, we'll just get right to previewing what some of our favorite publishers are up to.

Here's what's going on for Boom! Studios...

July 16, 2018

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SDCC Preview: Where to Find Panel Patter at San Diego Comic-Con

We on the Panel Patter team are super-excited to be once again joining 200,000 of our closest friends (they're ALL followers of the site, of course) in San Diego for a show unlike any other.

Last year, I went for the first time and I was just blown away by how awesome it was. I'm super happy to be back again this year as press (and I hope for many years to come). This time around, I'll be joined by my WWE tag team partner my friend and newest site member, Kirk FM, doing various press things. Kirk and I will both be focused on finding new creators and publishers to introduce you to, which is some of the best fun of going to any con, but especially this one.

In terms of show coverage, I'll be doing as many interviews as I can manage while Kirk probably handles more of the panel side of things, since I'm pretty tied up most of the time. We may attempt to send reports back to the Mothership (aka Scott and James, our Contributing Editors Extraordinaire), but no promises on if we'll be able to do that until after the Con is over.

For the best in breaking news at San Diego, we recommend our friends at The Beat, CBR, Comicbook, and Newsarama, who will be all-hands-on-deck to make sure you know what's happening in the comics world at the show, alongside the media work they also feature that we do not.

Additionally, if you ever wanted to hear me speak on comics, you'll have two chances at panels this year! I'll be doing the following two, plus presenting a Prism award on Saturday night, when I'll have a few brief words on why I love anthologies, and queer ones in particular. Here's the complete rundown:

Thursday July 19, 2018 7:00pm - 8:00pm 
Room 23ABC
The Annual Comics Journalism Panel: Chronicling the New Comics Canon
Panelists look at reviewing, whether journalists need a canon, and how to cover the vast world of not only print comics but webcomics, Kickstarters, and more. With Heidi MacDonald (The Beat), Valerie Complex (Braxton), Rob McMonigal (Panel Pater), Kat Overland (Women Write About Comics), and Fred Van Lente (The Comic Book History of Comics).

I'm gonna be on a panel with Fred Van Lente! Holy crap! 

Friday July 20, 2018 6:00pm - 7:00pm 
Room 4
Best and Worst Manga of 2018
There's a lot of manga available in English now, but what's really worth reading? A panel of opinionated manga bloggers and comics curmudgeons spotlight the best new manga that hit the shelves in the past year. In rapid-fire rounds, see them rave about their favorite continuing series! Watch them rant about the excruciatingly mediocre manga that they were forced to read (so you won't have to)! Find out what Brigid Alverson (SmashPages, School Library Journal), Zac Bertschy (Anime News Network), Christopher Butcher (Toronto Comic Arts Festival), Megan Peters (ComicBook.com), Rob McMonigal (PanelPatter.com), and Deb Aoki (Publishers Weekly) loved and loathed to read in the past year. Hear about their picks for the most anticipated upcoming releases for fall 2018 and beyond, and discover their favorite underappreciated manga gems that are worth picking up.

Warning you in advance that I may or may not spend too much time talking about Viz...

Saturday July 21, 2018 8:00pm - 9:00pm 
Room 29AB
Prism Awards: Diversity and Recognition in Comics
The winners of the Second Annual Prism Awards will be revealed in this new awards ceremony. Founders Ted Abenheim (Prism Comics) and Nina L. Taylor Kester (Cartoon Art Museum/QCE), Prism Awards chairperson Maia Kobabe (Gender Queer: A Memoir), judges Ajuan Mance (1001 Black Men, Gender Studies), William O. Tyler (WoT's Cinephilia), Heidi McDonald (The Comics Beat), Mey Rude (Autostraddle), and Rob McMonigal (Panel Patter) will discuss the origins of the awards and their emerging role in recognizing, promoting, and celebrating diversity and excellence in the field of queer comics as they present the handcrafted Prism Awards to the winning creators to celebrate their contributions.

I'm super-excited to be a part of the Prism awards for the second consecutive year. 

We'll see you at the show! Please make sure you say hello if you see either Kirk or I!
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I've Got Issues - Mike's Favorite Comics from July 11, 2018

The second Wednesday in July didn't feature as much fanfare as the previous week, between a holiday release date, the hoopla (and subsequent fallout) surrounding the now infamous Batman #50 wedding issue, and the debut of Ta-Nehisi Coates's Captain America. Outside of the new Amazing Spider-Man #1, there weren't any major blockbusters. That doesn't mean, though, that this week is of lower quality. Quite the contrary - on weeks like this, it's often easier to find the stronger books, and this week offered quite a few. Below are some quick reviews of my favorite single issues from July 11.

*Book of the week*

Relay # 1
(W) Zac Thompson
(A) Andy Clarke, 
(C) Dan Brown & Jose Villarubia
(L) Charles Pritchett
(Story) Eric Bromberg, Zac Thompson, and Donny Cates
Published by Aftershock Comics

Relay is part Blade Runner, part Starship Troopers. Near-future dystopias are by no means new, and the recent spike in their proliferation over the past decade certainly indicates a generalized anxiety surrounding the environment and the worldwide political right turn. Relay is a story conceived by recent Marvel phenom Donny Cates alongside Eric Bromberg and series writer Zac Thompson.

July 15, 2018

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Sunday News Desk- July 15th, 2018


From Dork #5 by Evan Dorkin

Previously on Panel Patter

Cover of the Next Week

I've got a couple of the old Slave Labor collections of Evan Dorkin's appropriately titled Dork comics but looking forward to adding this to Dark Horse's collections of The Eltingsville Comic Club and Milk and Cheese.  Dorkin is a cartoonist who did fairly broad comedy about the nerd subculture of (mostly) the 1990s and hasn't really gotten the credit he's due.  I see a lot of Dorkin in Ed Piskor's comics as well as in other places.  Dork was Dorkin's anthology series that was home to whatever target that Dorkin released his invective wit on.  

This and That

*** Vertigo Writer Receives Veiled Death Threats Ahead of SDCC Appearance (CBR)-- Eric M. Esquivel, the writer of a new Vertigo comic called Border Towns, has been getting death threats leading up to next week's SDCC.
“I woke up to death threats (‘We’re not sending I.C.E. to Comic Con, we’re sending exterminators’),” Esquivel’s tweet reads. Even in the face of verbal assault, though, the writer remained positive, instead choosing to focus on the joy of holding the first issue of his and artist Ramon Villalobos’ soon-to-be-released Border Town in his hands.

*** Hi, we’re The A.V. Club, and we’re for sale (The A.V. Club)-- Univision, which owns last year's Eisner Best Journalism winner The AV Club, is looking to put a lot of their on-line ventures up for sale.

Univision—which purchased a controlling stake in Onion Inc. back in January 2016—sent an all-staff email and issued a press release about the potential sale this afternoon, announcing that it was “initiating a process to explore the sale” of the Gizmodo Media Group and Onion Inc. sites, which include Gizmodo, Jezebel, Deadspin, Lifehacker, Splinter, The Root, Kotaku, Earther, and Jalopnik, plus The Onion, ClickHole, The Takeout, and the words that you’re reading on your screen right now. The news comes shortly after a number of consultant-dictated budget (and personnel)-reducing buyouts at the GMG sites, and reports fromThe Daily Beast that a similar process was happening at Onion Inc. Which is to say, potential digital media moguls: We’re lean, mean, and ready to knowingly skewer and analyze the pop culture landscape… for you.

** What It Means that We’re Leaving Amazon (Microcosm Publishing)-- Earlier this month, small press publisher Microcosm announced that they were leaving their distributor to self-distribute their publications.  As part of this announcement, they announced that they were also no longer selling their books to Amazon.  In a follow-up to that announcement, they posted an article on their site about what it means for them, their creators, and their audience to not be selling to Amazon.  It's not that their books won't be available through Amazon, it's that they'll set themselves up as a 3rd party seller, where they can control the prices.  
First, we’ll be selling the books at prices we set. Our current relationship with Amazon is mediated through our trade distributor. We are contractually required to allow them to sell Amazon our books at the terms they negotiate. And the terms Amazon demands are the worst of any retailer in the industry. Amazon made sure that there’s a nondisclosure of these details, but they essentially get the same terms that a wholesale company would. The difference: instead of passing part of this large discount on to independent bookstores or other retailers, they sell directly to consumers, often at a huge price cut. This is how Amazon offers new books at such low prices, undercutting the prices of both independent booksellers and publishers who sell direct. Allegedly, they refer to their suppliers as their prey. This practice serves their goal, often described as predatory, of cornering the market on both publishing and bookselling. And it hurts authors, publishers, and booksellers alike—and ultimately, readers, who are trading in a few dollars in discounts for an unhealthy ecosystem where more books are being published every day but it’s harder and harder to find the ones you actually want to read.

*** ShortBox Partnering with US-Based White Squirrel for North American Distribution (The Beat)-- The Beat covers Zainab Ahktar's announcement that she will be using Andrea Demonakos White Squirrel to distribute her fantastic curated comic boxes to North America.
The good news here is that this partnership will essentially reduce the cost of Shortbox since domestic shipping rates would be applied rather international shipping rates from the UK. White Squirrel is a company focusing on helping increase revenue for creators and artists and their partnership makes a lot of sense. Their main business consists of online store management and bulk fulfillment. This partnership make complete sense and should hopefully increase the reach of ShortBox in North America. White Squirrel was founded by Andrea Demonakos, the current festival director of the Vancouver Comics Art Festival (VanCAF), the West Coast sister festival of TCAF.

Your Moment of... ?

*** Managing editor Albert Ching leaves CBR (The Beat)-- This is from almost a month ago but the Beat notes that Albert Ching, longtime comic journalist, and editor, is leaving his post as the managing editor of CBR.  It sounds like Albert is going on to something different than comic journalism and has moved into a creative agency according to his Twitter profile.  Albert was one of the good guys in comic journalism and we'll all miss having him guide the good ship CBR.  His tenure there was a rocky one, coming after the sale of the site to Valnet and a still questionable site redesign that was done while he was there, but he was always a good writer and had a solid eye directing the content of sites like CBR and Newsarama. 

Current Mood

July 12, 2018

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All That Was Good Was Killed In Front of a BBQ Shack- a review of Southern Bastards Volume 4: Gut Check

In 2014 when Jason Aaron and Jason Latour started Southern Bastards, it was still easy to read those comics as being about an American redneck subculture. A southern football crime drama (that’s a lot to try to cross-pollinate in a story but Aaron and Latour are up for the challenge,) Southern Bastards looked like it was going to be the story of Earl Tubb, a military man returning to his childhood home and finding that the cliche of you can’t go home again was quite true. He was going to be the hero of the series but then (spoiler alert!,) Tubb was brutally beaten and killed by the true main character of the series, high school football coach Euless Boss. Southern Bastards wasn’t going to be a story about heroes. It was Coach Boss’ story and it was about the villain.

In 2014, it was a bit hard to think that the bad guy could possibly win.

A lot has happened in real life since 2014 but Southern Bastards has stuck to its course. The fourth volume, Gut Check, continues to use high school football as a metaphor for the rural crime. Murder and drug running may be illegal in Alabama but the true crime in Craw County is losing football games on Friday nights. And since the suicide of his defensive coordinator, Coach Boss’s Runnin’ Rebs have been on a losing streak that’s putting a target on Coach Boss’ back. When his team is winning, Boss is the true power of not just his school but of Craw County. Even Alabama’s other crime bosses give him room as long as it looks like Boss is going to run over every other state rival on the gridiron. But now that he’s vulnerable on Friday night, he looks vulnerable every other way as well and his enemies begin to see their chance to take Coach Boss down.

Latour, who is joined on the art by Chris Brunner for one chapter, continues to create art that makes you feel the heat of those Alabama high school football nights. Bathed in ever-present shades of red, Latour’s pages show a town that is ready to explode. If football was the only thing holding everything in check, it’s football that’s going to destroy everything as well. With its thin and charged lines, Latour’s art carries the weight of the fragile detente in Craw County. This is a football program and a town that’s being held together by the thread of imagined power. His lines, while tough and rugged, show the seams holding everything together breaking down.

The power of Southern Bastards is in Latour’s lines but the passion of the book is found in Latour’s colors. The reds that are on nearly every page highlights the violence that exists in his images. Sometimes that red is bold and large, expressing the power of a defensive back slamming into a running back. Other times, it’s almost hidden and muted, highlighting the simmering violence that is just waiting to break free of Boss, his coaches, and his players. It’s interesting to note that all of their football adversaries wear mostly cool or neutral colors both on and off the field. So even when the images aren’t violent (which is hardly ever) or when the threats are more unspoken, there’s a danger simmering in the background that can be found in a red shirt or the red haze of the sky.

Since the killing of Earl Tubb and the following suicide of Boss’ possibly only friend Big, Aaron and Latour are telling the story of a man who’s only getting more and more desperate to hold onto the glory of his past. His enemies are just looking for the right moment to strike down Coach Boss. His problem is that they’re now coming at him from all sides. There’s the townsfolk who see this as an opportunity to seize the power. There’s his crime boss rival, the Burt Reynolds-looking Colonel McKlusky who wants to humiliate Boss before he destroys him. And then there are the wildcards Roberta Tubb and religious zealot/survivalist Boone who both pick the same moment quite literally to take their shot at Boss. In his days of invulnerability, Boss surrounded himself with former football players and sycophants, more muscle than brains. Now that he needs to strategize to regain his position of power, his muscle isn’t up to the task of guiding or counseling him.

Any morality in this book could basically be summed up by “don’t be Coach Boss” but that’s probably too simple of a lesson in the end. Aaron and Latour’s story operates in a realm where the good book is only pulled out by most people on Sunday morning and then put away and forgotten about for the rest of the week. After Sunday, the only book that matters is the game book. Boone, who comes from a church that practices snake handling (as seen in the previous volume,) and Roberta may be the closest people to “good” in the book but their actions show how slippery that morality is. Even if they’re the “good guys,” they’re still dealing with their problems with automatic rifles and compound bows. Any redemption in their actions is their opposition to Coach Boss for all of the pain and corruption he’s infested Craw County with.

Yes, Aaron and Latour still tell the story with Boss as the protagonist. He’s set up as the underdog as everyone circles around him looking for their moment to strike. As the villain but still the main character of this story, Aaron and Latour set up this conflict in the reader of waiting for a true hero to show up but still wanting to rally behind Coach Boss the same way that his players do. It’s the same way in the first two books that Big wanted to believe the best about his friend and his coach but eventually Big saw the truth and just couldn’t take it anymore. That’s what Aaron and Latour are setting us up for. Somehow if we’ve stuck with the book this long, seen Coach do everything he’s done and still keep on coming back to read it, maybe Coach Boss hasn’t broken us enough yet so that we could see the truth. He killed our hero, Earl Tubb, and we’re still following him out there on these Friday nights wanting to see if the Runnin’ Rebs can still get it together and win state this year.

Southern Bastards Volume 4: Gut Check explores a world of good and evil where good was beaten to death outside of a barbecue shack. In Jason Aaron and Jason Latour’s book, what’s left is just conflicting sides of evil with some of those sides praying that they’re doing the right thing. Coach Boss still believes that he’s the victim in this southern football noir. It’s much the same way that politicians who believe that they’re the voice of the people are brutally dismantling democracy but it’s everyone else who’s the bad actors and hombres. Back a few years ago, Southern Bastards seemed like a distant warning system, pointing us down one possible path that was before us. In 2018, it reads as a metaphor for what the American Dream has become, an existence where everyone has given into their own base desires and instincts.

Southern Bastards Volume 4: Gut Check
Written by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour
Drawn by Jason Latour and Chris Brunner
Published by Image Comics

July 11, 2018

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Relay #1

Relay #1
Writer: Zac Thompson
Artist: Andy Clarke
Colorist: Dan Brown
Letterer: Charles Pritchett
Story: Zac Thompson & Donny Cates
Published by Aftershock Comics

I love different kinds of science fiction for different reasons. Some stories I enjoy just because they have a great sense of fun and adventure, spaceships, time travel, and you know, maybe some lightsabers. But there’s another kind of science fiction story I also love, that’s about more than just itself and telling a fun story. It’s usually about about some Big Ideas--a great way to both tell a story and say something about society right now. 

July 10, 2018

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Catch It at the Comic Shop July 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...

James' Picks:

Transformers Unicron #1 by James Roberts and Alex Milne, published by IDW Publishing.
I have almost no experience reading IDW Transformers comics, other than Tom Scioli's and John Barber's insane Transformers vs. G.I. Joe.  However, I've always heard good things about them over the years. But when Unicron was presented as the ultimate big bad of the IDW Transformers universe, I had to check it out. When I was 10 I saw Transformers: The Movie in the theater and it totally blew my mind. It was a pretty milestone moment for me, not the least of which because of the death of Optimus Prime (I had lost a lot of older relatives in the time around then, and I think the death stuck with me more than it might have otherwise). And I've watched the movie in the last few years. There are some parts that don't hold up as well, but overall it's still great and I still love it. And Unicron is still the ultimate threat. So, anyway, I'm excited to read this.  

July 9, 2018

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An Interview with Tom Peyer of AHOY Comics

A little while back, I posted about a new comics publisher getting ready to open up, AHOY Comics. As I mentioned at the time, I am pretty excited about what AHOY brings to the table, and I'm very happy to share this interview with Tom Peyer, the Editor in Chief of AHOY. Tom and I did this via email recently, and I will tell you right now, this is one of the funniest interviews I've ever conducted!

Rob McMonigal: For those who may not be familiar with you, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your comics past?

Tom Peyer: I always loved comics. I broke in as a writer in the late '80s, through the good works of writer Roger Stern and, later, editor Mike Carlin. That led to a job at DC Comics, working for editor Karen Berger before and during the launch of the mature readers' line VERTIGO. I went freelance after a few years and enjoyed a long run writing Legion of Super-Heroes and a fun time on Hourman. More recently I wrote stories for Batman '66 and an AfterShock series with my buddy Mark Waid, Captain Kid.

Rob: How did you get involved with the founding of AHOY Comics?

Tom: Our publisher, Hart Seely, is one of my oldest and dearest friends. After a long, bruising career in daily journalism, he was looking for a way to turn his retirement years into one long stressful ordeal (my theory). I don't think he thought, "comics!" and then pictured me and our co-founder, the cartoonist Frank Cammuso; I think he looked at Frank and me and thought, "comics!"

Rob: Part of what interests me so much about AHOY is the idea of a larger reading experience, incorporating prose, poetry, backup stories, and other things that haven't been seen much since what, the Marvel horror mags? What led AHOY to the idea of broadening the contents of their single issues?

Tom: It started simply. We were thinking about old & new comics and what worked and what didn't. Before the dawn of letter columns, they used to run these little prose stories, for a business reason: they needed text to fit the Post Office's definition of a periodical and thus qualify for cheap mailing rates. In fact, Stan Lee's first published story was a text piece, "Captain America Foils the Traitor's Revenge!" Most of these stories, of course, were written very quickly by writers who were paid peanuts. So we thought, what if we had these, and what if they were good?

From there it kind of took on a life of its own. Some really excellent writers sent us stories, but also poems, and snatches of memoir, and non-fiction humor pieces. We didn't ask for that, but we loved it. Grant Morrison contributed a few of what William Burroughs used to call "routines," these over-the-top sketches that would kind of kick the reader in the crotch and run. Cartoonist Carol Lay wrote some very short, punchy and effective stories; 2000 AD writer Kek-w sent some hilarious stuff; and on and on. Pieces are rolling in all the time, and it's a delight.

Rob: Along those lines, do you think the blended format could expand interest to readers who might not normally be interested in a standard comic book?

Tom: We'll see, I guess! We'd love that, obviously. But as Hart is fond of pointing out, nobody loves stories more than comic readers do. And nobody supports them better.

Rob: Though there have always alternatives to the Big Two, there are more publishers than ever within the direct market. What, beyond the additional material, will make AHOY stand out on the rack?

Tom: On the rack? I think the covers by Richard Williams, Jamal Igle, June Brigman and Roy Richardson are all arresting and very well done. I'm proud to say that the great Todd Klein designed all of our logos. John J. Hill designed the line, so the trade dress looks beautiful. And I think the series concepts are clear and fun and pull people in quickly. Cats in space! Loser in Heaven! Mixed-up hero universes! Poe is drunk again! So I feel pretty good about the rack right now.

Rob: Tell us a little bit about the launch titles. How did you come up with these books to begin the line?

WRONG EARTH: It makes me laugh that comic book heroes change so much from decade to decade, but keep the same trademarks. Think of a chest-symbol; it stands for one set of values or another, depending on the age of the person looking at it. Wouldn't it be funny to mix it up? I had this idea in my head for a year or so before AHOY came along. I'm glad I waited, because there could not be a more perfect artist for this than Jamal Igle.

HIGH HEAVEN: My partner Mary Siau and I had a series of jokey conversations where we cooked up the idea of a cheap, disappointing heaven. It was fun, so we kept going and sketched in a lot of details. So many, in fact, that a comic had to be written because so much of the writing was already done. Alas, nothing could save artist Greg Scott from the challenges we threw his way. He defeated all of them.

CAPTAIN GINGER: Stuart Moore says that he cooked it up after working on a previous job with artist June Brigman where she filled a background with a zillion lovingly drawn cats. Stuart, in his genius way, looked at it and thought, "There's something here..."

EDGAR ALLAN POE'S SNIFTER OF TERROR: Who is famous that we don't have to pay?

Rob: The upcoming creator list is really phenomenal: Ann Nocenti, Roger Stern, Ryan Kelly, Mariah McCourt, Peter Milligan, and Linda Medley are all favorites of mine and very familiar to Panel Patter readers. What drew you to these creators and how did their collaborations with AHOY come together?

Tom: They're all very good at what they do, and very different from each other. I understand the appeal of a house style, and why some companies bind themselves to one, but as a reader I always preferred the possibility of surprise over consistency.

Rob: On a personal level, I really appreciate Mr. Seely's comment that the goal is to make comics and not movies. It's great to see a comic book movie, but the two are not one and the same or interchangeable. Over time, I can spot a failed movie or TV pitch when I'm reading. What makes comics-as-comics something different from comic-I-hope-to-get-adapted that makes it so easy to notice the difference?

Tom: I think a reader can tell when the creators love a story for itself and not what it can do for them. And we can tell when they're just not into it. I think, too, that if you plan out every last detail of a story before you write it, you're going to get bored when you do the writing and your boredom will show.

Rob: Wrapping up: If someone were to ask you for one reason to add AHOY comics to
their pull list, what would it be?

Tom: It's 2018; couldn't you use a laugh?​

AHOY Comics launches this fall. If their stories are as much fun as this interview (and their FAQ), we as readers are in for a treat! Keep your eyes peeled!

July 8, 2018

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Dare to Disappoint Growing Up in Turkey by Ozge Samanci

By Ozge Samanci
Published by Farrar Straus

Creator Ozge Samanci uses a blended art style to tell the story of her life growing up in Turkey, a nation that doesn't get huge attention in the United States. An independent thinker, Ozge sometimes runs afoul of both her family and accepted norms in this engaging memoir that portrays life for a young woman in a country with different pressures from the usual, American coming-of-age story we're used to seeing in comics.

July 5, 2018

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DC's Retirement Plan is Botched!
A look at Dark Nights: Metal and DC/Young Animal: Milk Wars

Steve Orlando, Gerard Way and Dale Eaglesham unveil DC's new publishing plan.

From the first chapter of Dark Nights: Metal, when another shadowy agent of another shadowy organization flips over a paper map of the multiverse to reveal an uncharted map of “a dark multiverse,” Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo practice the time-honored method of comic creation as they mine the past in the name of IP manipulation. Building off of their New 52 Batman run and digging into the bones of Grant Morrison’s years-long Batman epic, Metal recontextualizes old concepts, digs up characters that have been barely seen in years to give them a springboard for new series and creates a series of alternative, evil versions of Batman who get to haunt the DCU for years now. That’s the nature of these events. But it’s funny that at the same time Snyder and Capullo were doing that in Metal, Steve Orlando, Gerard Way and a host of other creators were doing the same thing in DC/Young Animal: Milk Wars but were poking at the great beast of these events, showing just how silly and manipulative these things really are.

Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with Snyder and Capullo’s approach to their story. You can honestly believe that they’re making the most metal (as in the adjective version of the word, related to being like heavy metal music) story that they can. In Snyder’s work from Batman to his new Justice League series, he’s continued to show his unapologetic love for the comics he’s read and that he creates. As a bit of IP restoration, he makes Neil Gaiman’s Dream an ally for Batman and Superman, their guide through the stories that will help them defeat the evil batgod Barbatos. Dream has appeared before in DC’s comics but here he’s a key part of an event comic, right before DC is set to do another revitalization of their Vertigo line. Snyder’s Dream is less a character than Gaiman’s was and more like Cain or Abel, one of the hosts of DC’s House of Mystery and House of Secrets comics. Dream here is a signpost for the superheroes more than an actual character himself and a signpost to new Sandman comics, coming soon to a comic shop near you.

What's scarier?  A Jokerized Batman or a Neighborhood Community Patrol Lobo?

Likewise, Milk Wars is a co-mingling of DC and Vertigo; Swamp Thing, Shade the Changing Girl and the Doom Patrol all fight alongside the Justice League. But Orlando and Way steer Milk Wars so that it’s about merging to the distinct tones of the various imprints and not absorbing and homogenizing it. Their story is about a company called Retcon (not meta at all) trying to repackage everything and taking the edge off. Wonder Woman becomes Wonder Wife, a domesticate heroine who hugs her portable vacuum to her breast as if it was her child. Batman becomes Father Bruce, a man who instead of being inspired by a bat finds his life calling in a glass of milk and becomes a priest to share it with the world. Instead of Superman, we get Milkman Man, an agent of Retcon whose duty it is to enforce the status quo. It’s Retcon’s ways of rebooting the world and these heroes to make their stories more palatable to a wider audience.

In some ways, both Milk Wars and Metal are exploring the same questions about who all of these heroes are, exploring them by creating versions of what they’re not. Whether it’s twisted versions of Batman, showing how close he is to both hero and villain, or watered down versions which make Batman ‘66 look daring and risqué, the center of these stories is the stories of the characters themselves and how mutable and malleable they are. One does it in a way that’s totally into the mythology of these characters and the other realizes the silliness of trying to hold all of these characters to a consistent form in decades worth of stories.

Morpheus Ex Machina in Metal by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

Snyder and Capullo’s Metal is a Batman story about other Batman stories. Like many of DC’s event comics, Metal pursues the past of this fictional universe, trying to organize a continuity that’s been gloriously broken since Crisis on Infinite Earths. So many of these semi-annual crossovers attempt to provide an order to characters that practically defy order. Carter Hall, DC’s Hawkman, is the poster child for this non-continuous continuity. Like so many before them, Snyder and Capullo take their shot at “fixing” Hawkman, a character who was supposedly fixed by the New 52 continuity by basically wiping out everything that came before and rebooting the character and the universe. But that particular move in the past (Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, Hawkworld, etc…) had only done more to break the character and Metal continues that fine tradition of making a superhero with hawk wings an even more confusing character than he’s ever been.

As Milk Wars practices the same type of character retroactive continuity fixes (retcons, get it?) the writers of that series know just how silly that practice is. Jody Houser, Ty Templeton, Cecil Castellucci, and Miriam Andolfo, the creators of the Batman and Wonder Woman chapters, are bringing those characters down to the level of the Young Animal books. The Young Animal line really just had fun with superheroes while creating some good comics in Shade the Changing Woman and Mother Panic. By cross-pollinating the mainstream DC line with the Young Animal line, the oh-so-serious Justice League characters get to let their hair down a bit as they hang and fight crime with the freaks and geeks. Even Swamp Thing gets in on the fun with a crossover with Cave Carson by Jon Rivera and Langdon Foss; Cave has to toke up Swamp Thing to get his final enlightenment on what’s happening.

Magdalene Visaggio and Sonny Liew's Eternity Girl knows really knows what's up

For each chapter of Milk War, Magdalene Visaggio and Sonny Liew tell the tale of a golden age comic book character, The Formless Girl. In these 2-page stories, which also lead into Milk Wars' followup Eternity Girl, they show her going from a golden age hero to a modern day mess, completely screwed up by the creators of her comics as they tried to figure out ways to keep her relevant. It’s the story that Orlando and Way are telling in the main story but focused on a virtual blank slate. In Metal, Snyder and Capullo use Hawkman much the same way without ever providing a true vision of who Hawkman is. Sometimes he’s the narrator, sometimes he’s the villain. He turns out to be the character who gets redeemed simply because he fits into a new publishing schedule and they need the character to be a blank slate. At least the Formless Girl gets to escape her comic pages and endless revisions. And she gets what’s going on. “What I am is intellectual property they keep trying to find ways to exploit, even as the creative teams guiding me conspire to push me further and further up my own ass.” Good luck to Robert Venditti and Bryan Hitch with that Hawkman spinoff from Metal.

Greg Capullo and inker Jonathan Glapion never seem to get a strong handle on what’s going on in Metal. They follow Snyder’s script beat for beat but those beats are drowned out by the general fuzziness of the story. It’s turned up so loud, that the distortion from the overworked speakers is taking over the beauty of the notes. In his Batman run, Capullo had a skill on bringing the big hero moments to reality through the buildup of the story. But here, there is no buildup; it’s just one overpowering page after another until as a reader, you get lost in it and not in a good way. It’s just a mess of superheroes being loud and noisy.

Never a break in the action in Metal

In Milk Wars, there are seven different artists credited; Aco, Ty Templeton, Mirka Andolfo, Langdon Foss, Dale Eaglesham, Nick Derington, and Sonny Liew. Hugo Petrus also throws in a page or two. Eaglesham is the most traditional superhero artists, practically a modern day John Buscema. While that many different artists could easily clash operating within one book (see the Metal tie-in Dark Knights Rising collection, with its fourteen credited artists,) the art in Milk Wars works together and doesn’t fight with the stories for your attention. Everything in Metal, down to the foil cover, demands your attention. Milk Wars earns your attention as the story and art support each other but more importantly, work to guide you through the story rather than just assuming that you’ve paid your $19.99 and that its work is done.

Both series end with the confirmation that our regulars versions of Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman are the best versions of those characters while lesser tiered characters like Hawkman, Hawkgirl, the Doom Patrol and Mother Panic could use some tweaking to make them more… well to make them more something other than what they were. Worlds lived. Worlds died. And characters were updated in the hopes that this time it will work. But while Metal tried to pin the guilt of these changes on the evil Barbatos, a bat god from the Multiverse’s seedy underside, Milk Wars knows exactly who the true villains here are; middle management. The bad guys of Milk War are the shirt sleeves and tie wearing management of Retcon (and for one of them, I can't get the picture of Paul Levitz out of my head,) using the “creative types” to make a buck. In the Cave Carson/Swamp Thing chapter, Jon Rivera reveals the truth to Cave, his daughter, and Wild Dog. Retcon is using the “authors, poets, artists… Using them. Using their creativity to fuel the process of homogenization. Art killing art.”

Metal and Milk Wars bend and twist their characters and their concepts. One blames the characters themselves while the other accuses the custodians of performing the deforming acts and of trying to make a buck in the process. And maybe both books are correct in where they place the blame. These stories don’t happen without the men and women who write, draw, color, letter, and edit these comics but these are also characters who have existed for almost 80 years. 1938 is very different than 2018 so maybe it makes sense that these characters would themselves push against the narrow boundaries of their early days. We still picture Tarzan in a loincloth swinging through jungles or Sherlock Holmes sitting in a Victorian study, smoking on a pipe and solving mysteries. Those are the natural states of those characters. Maybe the natural states of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are being heroes that reflect their times. That time is moving forward so maybe books like Metal, as it tries to establish a new status quo for the DC Universe, is evidence of the characters trying to move forward a bit as well.

In that way, Metal is more hopeful for these characters while the end of Milk Wars feels a bit more resigned to its victory. Any character changes in Orlando and Way’s story isn’t so much moving the characters in new directions but it resets some of them, particularly the Doom Patrol and the other Young Animal casts. While its effect on the Justice League is nominal (they all get to go back to their own stories ultimately unscathed,) Milk Wars upends the Young Animal casts, giving them a hopeful jumpstart that could boost future sales. As Retcon promises on the first page of the book, “In light of recent events, we’ve moved our business model away from broadcast to reality estate. We’ve specially conditioned this world. You’ll find it’s appeal broad and unassailable.” And that must have been DC’s hope for the Young Animal line after crossing over with the likes of Batman and the Justice League. By hiring popular and edgy creators to craft stories that team some characters who need exposure with characters who get their own multi-million dollar movies made on a regular basis, those less popular characters appeal to a general audience would be “broad and unassailable.”

Dark Nights: Metal
Written by Scott Snyder
Drawn by Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion
Colored by FCO Plascencia
Published by DC Comics

DC/Young Animal: Milk Wars
Written by: Steve Orlando, Gerard Way, Jody Houser, Cecil Castellucci, Jon Rivera, Magdalene Visaggio
Drawn by: Aco, Ty Templeton, Mirka Andolfo, Langdon Foss, Dale Eaglesham, Nick Derington, Sonny Liew
Colored by: Tamra Bonvillain, Marissa Louise, Keiren Smith, Nick Filardi
Published by: DC Comics

July 3, 2018

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Catch It at the Comic Shop July 4th, 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 here! Before we do, please welcome newest Panel Patter-er, Kirk FM! Kirk is a cool guy I had the pleasure of meeting at San Diego Comic Con last year, and I used extortion finally got him on board, starting with our preview column today!

Kirk, tell us a little about yourself!
In 1994, Kirk thought comic books, rock n’ roll, hockey, and Kelly Kapowski were the greatest forms of art. Nothing has changed since then. He’s obsessed with the creative process and firmly believes collaborative art can heal the world. So please, fix your hearts or die. He makes his home in Los Angeles working in the music industry and spends his time mainly asking how he got so lucky. He lives with his dog, Tesla. She is a good dog. Twitter: @KirkLikesStuff

Kirk's Picks:

Vagrant Queen #2 by Magdaline Visaggio, Jason Smith, Hank Saxon, and Zack Saan, Published by Vault
The first issue of this sci-fi series ticked off a lot of boxes for me. Issue 2 picks up the story as we follow Elida on her mission to save her thought-dead mother who is (maybe) being held well behind the enemy lines of deep space. With a no-BS attitude and flying an oddly shaped ship, she shoots first and doesn’t care about how bad the odds are stacked against her. It’s familiar and welcomed territory. Trying to entice new readers with the Star Wars-rich comparisons may be admittedly a cheap trick, but there’s swagger here that you don’t typically feel in a space adventure comic like this. Visaggio has a knack for writing unsuspectingly complex female characters whose layers are revealed in part due to the situations she puts her protagonists in. It creates the awesome phenomenon of watching our author write from a reactionary point of view. Couple this with an art team that feels heavily influenced by the more European school of comic art without taking itself too seriously, this title would fit comfortably well in something like Heavy Metal magazine. Luckily for us, it’s a story that’s larger in scope that gets its own monthly  series.

Paradiso #5 by  Ram V, Devmalya Pramanik, Alba Cardona Gil, and Aditya Bidikar, Published by Image
Issue 5 of this series kicks off the second arc of the story. Trying to explain the plot in a single-sentence pitch would almost do this book a disservice. What I can tell you is that it is the sum of its influences and every cog of it has been salvaged from one of your favorite genres. A far future where the inhabitants of a place called Paradiso survive in an apocalyptic future among a sentient megalopolis in decay. Ravagers, traders, and black market smugglers forming alliances based on mutual needs and survival.  Sometimes that trust is put in a stranger with a mysterious techno artifact and a past they themselves are not entirely sure of. But where’s the fun if you already have all the answers? Paradiso is equal parts Mad Max resource hunting and Ghost in the Shell waxing poetic meets killer androids whose designs are taken from some of your favorite dystopian manga, all filtered through multiple reads of China Mieville works. Though what I’m describing may seem very anime-esque, the art in this book is doing it’s own reinterpretation of it through beautiful color pencils that are under delicate inking. It’s enough of a reason to pick up this book in the first place.

James' Picks:
Scales & Scoundrels vol. 2 by Sebastian Girner and Galaad, published by Image Comics.
I just read vol. 1 of this series recently at it was an excellent read. Full of fun and life and humor. I was completely unfamiliar with Galaad's work previously, but it's excellent art. Animated and expressive and really engaging. Girner is a strong writer as well. I'm excited to read more.

From the World of Black Hammer: The Quantum Age #1 by Jeff Lemire, Wilfredo Torres, and Dave Stewart, published by Dark Horse Comics.
I'll pick up anything Jeff Lemire does in his Black Hammer universe. The main series is excellent, and the two prior spin-off minis have been great as well. So this one takes a trip into the future, illustrated by the terrific Wilfredo Torres. I'm excited to read this and t see what clues it holds for the heroes in their current plight.

The Immortal Hulk #2 by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett, published by Marvel Comics.
This is a really interesting story. Ewing is a fantastic writer and Bennett brings Hulk to life as a monster to be truly feared. This isn't a mindless rage-Hulk, or a Banner-Professor Hulk. This is something else - full of dark thoughts and bringing brutal, monstrous justice. I'm really interested to read more.

Catwoman #1 by Joelle Jones, published by DC Comics.
So, this is really a recommendation to read both Batman #50 (which, I might be one of the only people in America who doesn't know the spoilers yet) and see the fallout from the Bruce-Selina wedding, and then see how that goes over into Selina's own new book. I had a chance to meet Joelle Jones recently and she was terrific, and I had a chance to buy a page from Lady Killer, her fantastic creator-owned book that I recommend you go read right now.  If she brngs the same level of wicked energy to Catwoman as she has brought to Lady Killer, it should be a fantastic read.

Captain America #1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leinil Yu, published by Marvel Comics.
Oh, I am excited for this one. I had mixed feelings about Coates' initial run on Black Panther, but I've been super excited about his current run. Coates' work was always bursting with ideas, but he's getting better at the pacing of comic books. And Yu is one of my very favorite artists, I think he does amazing work. So, I'm excited to see what they do together, and I loved the Free Comic Book Day preview. Captain America is great when it's a book about big ideas, and big ideas are something Coates excels at.

Mike’s Picks:

Submerged 1 by Vita Ayala, Lisa Sterle, Jen Bartel, Stelladia, and Rachel Deering, published by Vault Comics
Vault Comics has a pair of issues arriving on Wednesday featuring two rising star LGBTQ writers (the other being Vagrant Queen 2). While Vault’s support of a wide array of diverse creators is reason enough to support their projects on face, the upstart publisher’s releases have become must buys for many fans because they are consistently on point and original (probably because they’ve tapped unique voices). I’ve said before that Vault comics are usually the best looking comics on the stands, and Sterle’s pen and ink previews certainly keep with this trend. And, let’s be honest, it’s a retelling of the story of Orpheus in the New York City subway. 

Project Superpowers 0 by Rob Williams, Sergio Davila, and Francesco Mattina, published by Dynamite Entertainment
I follow a general rule that most books, especially those of original content, offered for less than a dollar are worth picking up. Dynamite has a good history of handling the pulp and public domain Golden Age heroes, and they manage that by maintaining a reasonably retro tone and narrative style for these books. The original Project Superpowers was certainly a little ham-fisted, and it probably included twice as many heroes as it should have, but it was still well-executed overall. I’m excited for another run with these characters.

The Kurdles Adventure Magazine 1 by Robert Goodin, published by Fantagraphics
Yes! More all-ages serials please! While I’m sure this series won’t be monthly, and while the $10 price tag connotes more of a graphic novel feel than a traditional floppy, I still like the overall conceit of this series. The solicit contends that The Kurdles is the best kids comic mag since the demise of Nickelodeon Magazine. I think I was more of a Disney Adventures kids, and I also think this particular claim refers to the recently reincarnated and even more recently re-canceled Papercutz version. Nonetheless, I’m excited.

New Lietenants of Metal 1 by Joe Casey, Ulises Farinas, Melody Often, Sonia Harris, and Rus Wooten, published by Image Comics
What I like most about Joe Casey is that he doesn’t pin himself in a particular genre or style corner. Casey lets his personality flow into this book, as it’s chock full of direct 80s metal references. If you have even an ironic affinity for hard rock and its purer derivations, the issue will be a treat. But what sells this book is the line art of Farinas and the colors of Often. The duo combine to create a style that’s a perfect amalgamation of Keith Giffen, River City Ransom*, and Bob’s Burgers. This issue feels like a cartoon, and I mean that entirely complimentary. It feels like the kind of series Adventure Time or Regular Show fans would read as they grow up. 

Rob's Picks:

Elvira Mistress of the Dark #1 by David Avallone, Dave Acosta, Andrew Covalt, and Taylor Esposito, published by Dynamite
Everyone's favorite B-movie hostess with the most-est may have retired in real life, but now she's moved into the comics and right into a mysterious coffin that lands her into some of the greatest horror writers of all time in this new series that's got quite a few winks and nods and innuendo aplenty. Anyone who knows me know that cheesy horror is right up my alley and while sometimes that tongue in cheek style doesn't work when moved to comics, Avallone handles it brilliantly. Elvira quips constantly, confusing everyone around her, and the story beats works extremely well. Acosta and Covalt balance the comedic work with keeping the action clear, and they do a great job of drawing the characters in a way that highlights the jokes without stepping on them. I had no idea what to expect from this one, and what I got was some great laughs and a little innuendo to boot. An unlikely hit for that shouldn't go under your radar.

Brother Nash #2 by Bridgit Connell, published by Titan Comics
Nash has immense power, but the people out to hurt his friends are no slouch, either. Will his abilities be enough to stop those going after him? I'm certainly excited to find out. This webcomic moved to print is spectacular, and was hand-sold to me by Katie at Books with Pictures. It's supernatural, lighthearted, and amazingly drawn and I can't wait to see what happens in this issue. 

Cosmic Ghost Rider #1 by Donnie Cates, Dylan Burnett, Antonio Fabela, and Clayton Cowles, published by Marvel Comics
I have no idea how or why, but the best thing to happen since Frankencastle is happening. The Punisher is dead and cosmic, and really, who the hell cares beyond that, right? Apparently, Frank has a plan to make things better, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. It's weird not knowing how this happened, but I'm game to take a peek and see what I think. This is my week for oddball picks, apparently.

Batman 50 by Tom King and others, published by DC Comics
I was not planning on list this one, but it's here because I want to point something out. You may be aware that the New York Times decided to post an extensive reveal of the issue's contents--on Sunday. You may also be aware that this thing was marketed to the hilt, with tons of covers and a lot of shops doing midnight openings. And now you may either be thinking, "I'm no longer interested," having heard the spoiler or "I don't care" because this was admittedly over-hyped. Well, your local shop likely went big on this thing. I didn't pre-order, and I don't know that I'll buy one, but I do plan to give it a chance and let the story shine on its own merits as I take a peek at the shop. I'm making this my last pick for the week to encourage you to do the same, even if you know what happens. Especially if you asked your shop to hold a copy. Who knows, maybe Tom King and his collaborators have a strong story to tell. Or maybe it's awful. But either way, let's all decide for ourselves and not let the paper of record do it for us, ok?

*Is this an obscure reference? Did everyone spend hours on consecutive Friday nights playing a perpetually re-rented copy from West Coast Video with their friends John and Kenny? Would Ranma ½ have been a better reference point?