October 16, 2020

, ,   |  

Riot of Your Own - My Riot by Rick Spears and Emmett Helen



I had a certain serendipity as I waited for My Riot to load on my computer, humming The Clash’s White Riot and half-singing along in my head, replacing the titular chorus line with “my riot,” only to finally open the graphic novel and see that Rick Spears and Emmet Helen were quietly literally on the same page as me.

October 13, 2020

  |  

PanelPatterTober: Week 2 Recap



We did something new this year and jumped on the inktober train. With daily sketch prompts ranging from #batober to #jacktober to the always entertaining #kayfabetober, we decided to put our own spin on the tradition with our own #PanelPatterTober. Our weekly Catch It at the Comic Shop column seemed like a logical place to exploit our desire to dive in. 

Rules were developed as follows. 

Our Catch It column comes out on Tuesday. We chose seven characters from those titles for the daily word prompts, and for the following seven days we revel in our own recommendations for you all to enjoy. 

There’s an endless amount of inktober hashtags going right now, but the one that simultaneously gets you excited for new issues at the comic shop down the street is none other than our own. Hashtag, PanelPatterTober. 

Without further ado, the PanelPatterTober week 2 recap.

Swamp Thing




Ultraman






Optimus Prime & Marty McFly








Penultiman





Eartheater 



Kamala Khan & Miles Morales 



Skinner Sweet


Feel free to sketch alongside us and post/share yours with ours. Head on over to twitter to see what’s upcoming. We’d love to see your renditions of the characters we find most exciting out on the shelves. 

Week 3:




, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |  

Catch It at the Comic Shop October 14th, 2020

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

Neil's Picks:

The Devil’s Red Bride #1 by Sebastian Girner, John Bivens, Iris Monahan and Jeff Powell, published by Vault Comics
If you’re a lover of movies/stories based on Samurai, feudal Japan or Japanese mythology, then The Devil’s Red Bride is for you. This is my most anticipated comic of 2020, one that I wrote about here, and it does not disappoint. A solid first issue that is packed with all of the above as well as being a monumental homage to grindhouse samurai movies of the 60s - 70s. Violence, bloodshed and vengeance whilst at the same time taking inspiration from a real-life Onna-bugeisha story set in the 12th century. Bring me issue 2 asap!

October 12, 2020

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |  

L.A. Stories: A look at 3 Satirical Scifi Comics


Last year I was reading Crowded, Friendo and The New World all around the same time, and I noticed some plot and thematic similarities. Each is a distinctive story, but they are all near-future social satire stories set in Los Angeles. They are all skewering different modern phenomena like the invasiveness of marketing, the gig economy, and reality TV. And they are all stories where the messy overlap between business and government is pushed (in varying ways) to its logical conclusions. 

October 7, 2020

, , , , ,   |  

Review - We Only Find Them When They're Dead by Al Ewing and Simone Di Meo


We Only Find Them When They're Dead
Written by Al Ewing
Illustrated by Simone Di Meo
Published by Boom! Studios

We Only Find Them When They're Dead (WOFTWTD, for short) is only two issues in as a series, but it's already one of my favorite comics of 2020. It's got a recipe for comics that I can't resist - heady, thought-provoking ideas, a compelling plot, interesting characters, and absolutely astounding, gorgeous artwork. Like some of the very best science fiction stories set in the distant future or on a far-off world, it's got imaginative and original ideas that also serve as perfect allegory for the world we're living in right now. So, come for the intriguing ideas and stunning visuals, and stay for the trenchant critique of late-stage capitalism. 

October 6, 2020

  |  

Panel Patter Tober 2020: Week 1 Recap



We did something new this year and jumped on the inktober train. With daily sketch prompts ranging from #batober to #jacktober to the always entertaining #kayfabetober, we decided to put our own spin on the tradition with our own #PanelPatterTober. Our weekly Catch It at the Comic Shop column seemed like a logical place to exploit our desire to dive in.

Rules were developed as follows.

Our Catch It column comes out on Tuesday. We chose seven characters from those titles for the daily word prompts, and for the following seven days we revel in our own recommendations for you all to enjoy. 

There’s an endless amount of inktober hashtags going right now, but the one that simultaneously gets you excited for new issues at the comic shop down the street is none other than our own. Hashtag, PanelPatterTober.

Without further ado, the Panel Patter Tober week 1 recap.


Hulk






Shang-Chi





Eva from Heartbeat




Jacques from Gunning for Ramirez




Harley Quinn








Moriarty the Patriot





Max Wilding from X-ray Robot






Feel free to sketch alongside us and post/share yours with ours. Head on over to twitter to see what’s upcoming. We’d love to see your renditions of the characters we find most exciting out on the shelves.

Week 2:




, , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |  

Catch It at the Comic Shop October 7th, 2020

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

James' Picks:

Adventureman #4 by Matt Fraction, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson and Clayton Cowles, published by Image Comics

Adventureman has been a true delight. Matt Fraction and the Dodson's have created something really fun and special. This is a pulpy adventure comic set in the modern day. It's a delight to see fantastical concepts make their way into our mundane world, and watch our main character learn more and more what she's capable of. Terry and Rachel Dodson really do stunning, detailed, vibrant work in bringing this book to life. The people are beautiful without feeling overly sexualized, and the decor is fun and intricate and this book just keeps getting better.

October 5, 2020

, , , , , ,   |  

Review - The Devil's Red Bride by Sebastian Girner and John Bivens

 


The Devil's Red Bride
Written by Sebastian Girner
Illustrated by John Bivens
Colours by Iris Monahan
Lettering by Jeff Powell
Published by Vault Comics
In stores October 14

From the beautiful opening panels of war decorated on a traditional 6-panel byōbu or shoji screen to the intricate details of life depicted in 16th-century Japan, The Devil’s Red Bride is a wonder to gaze upon and a comic I have been anticipating since it’s announcement back in July.

October 2, 2020

, , , , ,   |  

Quick Hit: Shang-Chi 1


Shang-Chi returns ahead of an upcoming featured film adaptation. While all of what comes out of Marvel Studios seems to turn to gold, Shang-Chi will definitely represent a different type of adaptation. Though not necessarily an obscure character, Shang-Chi is not exactly a household name, even within Marvel fandom. To that extent, Gene Luen Yang and company have their work cut out for them. There is precious little time to waste with only five issues to re-introduce and contextualize a character while also providing a complete adventure. Fortunately, Yang has emerged as one of our best graphic storytellers, whether as a writer as in this role or as a cartoonist in his OGN work. 

Consequently, a book like this is tailor-made for Yang, a cartoonist who knows how to layer narrative while incorporating established mythological backstory with original concepts. Certainly, such a notion is at the heart of two of Yang’s most renowned creations, American Born Chinese and Boxers & Saints. But it’s also his experience with licensed properties that serves him here. Yang’s foray into superhero books following years of success as a indie/YA cartoonist brings him from DC to Marvel, and specifically to a character tailor-made for a Yang narrative. At DC, Yang assumed writer responsibilities for The Terrifics, and has written different iterations of Superman, including his own creation, the Chinese New Super-Man, Kong Kenan. Yang’s work at DC helped to both stretch his skills and help him hone in on the thematic undercurrents that define all his work. Between his time at DC and his time scripting Dark Horse’s Avatar: The Last Airbender series, Yang has learned how to manage licensed properties without sacrificing his voice. 

And that voice is important for Shang-Chi. It’s commendable that Marvel has launched this new title with an Asian creative team, three of whom possess Chinese ethnicity. Yang, along with art duo Philip Tan and Dike Ruan, and colorist Sebastian Cheng, certainly have a task ahead of them as they bring Shang-Chi back to the forefront with a high profile book. Shang-Chi has been incorporated into a few team books over the years, and has graced a handful of mini-series, but he hasn’t had this high a profile in decades.

Tan functions as the flashback artist, opening the book and giving readers a crash course in some of the Marvel history in Shang-Chi’s backstory. The use of flashback was a nice touch, and I hope the mini-series continues with this concept. It’s a smart way to provide weight to Shang-Chi’s character, and Tan handles it with both speed and precision. Honestly, I stepped into this book with very little knowledge of Shang-Chi, but I came away intrigued. Yang has a way of using the past to make the present more relevant, and Tan executes that vision well. His style differs just enough from Ruan’s that his sections of the book feel a tad “older.” Cheng picks up on that and allows for some of Tan’s darker shades to flow. Ruan’s art feels shinier if not newer. He handles some bombastic fight scenes with just enough comic exaggeration. 

I mentioned above that I didn’t know much about Shang-Chi prior to picking up this book, and I feel that I left with both the requisite amount of backstory and intrigue. Packing this amount of info and story into a first issue is usually a recipe for disaster. It would be easy for such an issue to feel overloaded, burdened by its content, if not ambition. But Tan, Ruan, and Cheng bring a cinematic quality to Yang’s multilayered narrative, allowing it to truly excel. Shang-Chi #1 is exactly what a debut issue should be.

Shang Chi 1 (of 5) written by Gene Luen Yang, with art by Dike Ruan, Philip Tan, and Sebastian Cheng, and letters by Travis Lanham.


October 1, 2020

, , ,   |  

Joe Sacco Finds a People’s Voice in Paying the Land



Stories are important in Joe Sacco’s Paying the Land. The book itself is the story of the First Nation people, the Dené, who live in Western Canada on oil-rich land. With the indigenous people who originally settled the Northwest Territories, Sacco’s book opens by telling us about a free people who live off of the land, hunting, fishing, and trapping. The big thing that stands out in these peoples’ history is the sense of community that exists among them. This is the story of the past generations of these people, told to Sacco by their children and grandchildren. The story starts years ago, firmly planted in traditions of family, community, and heritage. The man who tells Sacco about this history, Paul Andrews, is one of the many Dené men and women whose face and story we encounter in this book. Through Andrews and many other people, we hear the stories that are important to the Dené and we hear about what the Dené have lost over generations in the name of progress, in the name of colonialism, and in the name of capitalism.

We currently live in a time where we are being asked to listen to other people’s stories. I have one set of experiences and you have another set, that is completely different for a variety of reasons. But if there’s anything that we can take away from 2020, it’s that we need to listen to other people and understand their experiences politically, socially, economically, racially, and sexually. Sure, there are people who think their view of the world is THE ONE AND ONLY VIEW OF THE WORLD and that’s the struggle that many of us are fighting both in ourselves and in the people around us. Joe Sacco's brand of journalism is about expanding that view of the world, uncentering it from our myopic world views into a broader and truer picture. He’s gone to war zones to show us a bigger world than most of us know or can imagine. Paying the Land is a quieter book than his other work; there are no bombs being dropped and no one is shooting at their fellow human being. But in a lot of ways, the story of the Dené is one of the cruelest stories that Sacco has told.



Among so many other things that are happening in the world right now, Sacco finds a story that is buried so far beneath the headlines and talk show news that we cannot believe that things like this happen in the world today. Among the many revolutionary movements highlighting the stories of people that we all need to hear, the Dené are a people who have a rich heritage that’s been systematically assaulted over the past 200 years by a Canadian government that wants to exploit the resources that the Dené have, the land that they have lived on for generations. Starting with an actually easy to understand (relatively speaking) struggle over oil rights, fracking, and questions of who has the right to say how those resources are or are not used. As the Dené fight to protect what is theirs, Sacco shows that they are no more united in these questions than we are when it comes to questions of how do we use the land that we own. Some want to continue with fracking but on their own terms; some disavow the practice altogether believing it will set off an ecological disaster; some seek a compromised solution. Their struggle over this is the same as ours when it comes to these debates of what we should do with these natural opportunities that we have.

That in itself could probably fill the whole book with Sacco exploring the voices and politics of those leading these discussions but a focus just on natural resources would barely even touch on the spirit and the cultural attacks these people have faced since the mid-1850s when Canada started the practice of tearing the children away from the indigenous people, in the name of education and of civilization. This is the true history of the Dené, dealing with over 150 years of an attack against their culture and heritage by the European descendants who governed Canada and its territories. The practice of these residential schools, basically boarding schools where these children were taught how not to be Dené, how not to be “savages” as Canada’s first Prime Minister called them. 


The discussion of oil and who has the right to use it leads Sacco into an exploration of the damage that generations have experienced due to this practice of residential schools, which was happening up to just 25 years ago. This isn’t ancient history; many of the people that Sacco talked to experienced the residential schools where they were emotionally and physically abused. This marginalization of who they are has worn on these people over the years and the decades. Their story is of the attempt to eradicate them as a tribe to incorporate them into the “civilized” Canada. The term “colonization” is used by the Dené over and over again and it’s never in a positive way. They were manipulated by a government that had no idea who they were.

Capturing the individuality and the personhood of his subjects, Sacco doesn’t show them as one, monocultural people but as a complicated organism that is trying to redefine themselves after years of these actions of colonizing them. His art and storytelling express these people’s dignity. Their ability to tell of their struggles at these schools, the PTSD and alcoholism that they’ve dealt with, the loss of the connection to their history and traditions shows us people who are struggling to be healed after they’ve been torn apart.



Sacco presents these people as they are. In his interviews and discussions with them, he wants to find out who they are so that we may see them through his cartooning. This is what’s always driven his work, this need to tell the stories of people who we otherwise wouldn’t hear from. By getting them to tell him (and by extension us) their stories, Sacco practices an oral tradition of storytelling, something that the Dené believes that they’ve lost in their own traditions. They lament how they no longer know the stories of their grandparents and great grandparents. But this book captures these current generations’ stories in their own words. Giving a face and a voice to these people, Sacco focuses on their humanity, tracing them through their years and their stories.

Thanks to Sacco, these stories get to live and exist beyond the Northern Territories. This regional history gets to become part of our history, part of our story, no matter where we are from. At many points in this book, the Dené people ponder what they’ve lost because of the ways that they were forced to assimilate into the larger Canadian nation. For as optimistic as the book is that there is a future for the Dené, so much of their past is already forgotten. Paying the Land becomes a fascinating document for the Dené as well as us as it helps document some of the past for them but it’s not nearly enough. No book could fully restore to these people everything that they’ve lost.