September 24, 2018

,   |  

Panel Patter Opens the Vault

It's a very special week here at Panel Patter, as we open up the site to a week of features on one of our favorite new publishers, Vault Comics.

Founded in 2016, Vault is a family-run small publisher whose production values are some of the best I've ever seen in all of comics. Their single issues are simply gorgeous, from the stunning covers by the likes of Jen Bartel and Tess Fowler to the descriptions of each comic on the back of every issue to the vibrant colors and solid paper stock, a Vault comic is a little work of sci fi or fantasy art in your hands.

The Panel Patter team really digs Vault's comics, and so when we started talking about who was going to review which books, we ended up deciding to make it a free for all, allowing each of us to provide our own perspective on their comics, whether it's their upcoming debut issues like Frendo, solid series such as Wasted Space (written by Panel Pal Mike Moreci), or the already-optioned Heathen.

It also helps that Vault's leadership team (Adrian and Damian Wassel, along with Nathan Gooden and Damian Wassel, Sr.) are a really nice group of people, as you'll see from the interview that's up on the site later today. These are the kinds of people you want to see succeed in comics, and at least among our circle of comics readers and friends, they're off to a great start.

Vault describes their comics as follows:
Vault publishes original, creator-owned science fiction and fantasy comics. Creating science fiction and fantasy is, essentially, about imagining and experiencing the new, the bizarre, the unimagined. In the realm of science fiction and fantasy, creators can break the established order, dissolve conceptions of social identity, and give voices to the silenced. They can ask hard questions, and if they are brave, venture bold answers. Inside the Vault, it's safe to be different.
You may already be familiar with Vault, but if you aren't, we hope that this week's features will give you a solid introduction to their work. If you're a fan of either fantasy or sci fi comics, you'll find a lot to like in their line. Enjoy!

September 22, 2018

, , ,   |  

Graphic Nonfiction: Maria Stoian on a Bad Bet, Ecology, and Economics

It's time for another edition of Graphic Nonfiction, where we look at a comic created to discuss a real-life issue. More and more often, the medium of comics is being used to explore hard truths without fictional context. Here's an example:

A long time ago, as a college freshman, I read a book by Julian Simon, talking about how scarcity would never be an issue, because when the costs grew higher humans would just find a better way to do things. Whether or not you agree with that hypothesis, Simon's views have been extremely influential. In today's graphic nonfiction, Maria Stoian describes a bet between Simon and Paul Ehrlich, then moves on to riff on why the bet was flawed, what the true risks of our current path are, and what happens if we side with Simon and the bet is--in the long run--wrong?

Stoian's point is not dissimilar to Pascal's Wager: If we make the planet better, what do we lose? And if Simon is wrong, how can we possibly recover?

It's funny to see Professor Simon in a life raft pondering his poor decisions, but the point is striking. That's what I really liked about Stoian's work in this comic from The Nib: She's able to keep the tone light with her visuals, but the reality is deadly serious. Here's another example of this:

Sure it's funny to see the (familiar but not quite) figures on the left act like children, but there's an underlying truth here too--these people are blocking the ability to address ecological issues and the consequences are deadly, as shown here:

I never stop feeling angry about that statistic, no matter how many times I look at it. And Stoian's decision to color three quarters of a turtle outline to slam the point home really echoes with me.

The bet itself was dumb--what would good cost in 20 years? As Stoin points out:

Though Simon was "right" in that a different commodity was substituted, the cost of that substitution haunts us, as the visual with the turtle above (and this one, with a plastic-stuffed bird), shows.

In the end, Stoin's comment here is probably true, and it haunts me:

We can't innovate our way out of everything. That's the whole point of the legend of the Tower of Babel--when man tries to put itself in the place of supremacy, we get smacked in the face. That's a warning Stoian brings to us all to think about.

September 21, 2018

, , , , , ,   |  

A Unique, Tragic Caper Story: 4 Kids Walk into a Bank

Art/Design by Tyler Boss
Flatting by Clare Dezutti
Lettering  by Thomas Mauer
Wallpaper Deisgn by Courtney Menard
Writing by Matthew Rosenberg
Published by Black Mask

Paige is a very mature eleven year old--or at least she thinks she is. Palling around with a lanky boy named Stretch, a quiet scientist-in-training called Walter, and the dumb-but-eager Berger, her life is pretty normal for being part of the school outcasts. When Paige learns that her father has links to criminals, however, everything changes as she plots a way to keep him out of trouble--by getting in over her own head in this series that blends really innovative visuals, borrows stat boxes from manga, and builds up to a tragedy instead of rolling its comedy into a forced happy ending.

September 18, 2018

, , , , , , , , , ,   |  

Catch It at the Comic Ship September 19th, 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...

Kirk's Picks:

Dick Tracy #1 by Mike Allred, Lee Allred, Rich Tommaso, Laura Allred, and Shawn Lee, published by IDW
I’m personally so exciting to finally see this come to fruition. There were a lot of questions over the last couple of years as to who had the publishing rights to Dick Tracy. It was disheartening to watch this project get announced at other publishers with different creative teams only to be abruptly pulled more than once. This 4 issue mini-series appears to be a passion project that the entire Allred family is a part of as brothers Mike and Lee co-write and Mike’s wife, Laura is the perfect choice to handle the vibrant color world that lends itself to the Dick Tracy universe. What will set this apart from any other version of the character that you’ve seen before is Rich Tommaso’s inspired art style that always distinctly sets his work apart from his contemporaries setting the precedent that this new interpretation of a legacy pulp hero could be a game changer worth the delays.

Mister Miracle #11 by Tom King and Mitch Gerards, published by DC Comics
I have something to admit. I’ve been very critical of King’s writing in this series. But I keep coming back for Mitch’s art. I feel that it’s groundbreaking. The choices he has made in order to relate mood and concepts as well as make readers question the reality our main characters exist in has just been as vital, if not more so, to the storytelling as King’s scripts. It’s the art that has had me come back every month and as we head into the penultimate issue, I want to tell you that the art so good, that even if you haven’t been following this series, you owe it to  yourself to pick it up an issue at the shop to experience it for yourself. It doesn’t even have to be this current issue. Just grab any installment of this series and see for yourself. And yes, I’m going to hang around until the end for this story in the hopes that it sticks the landing and I eat every bit of doubt that I had.

Sean's Picks:

Burnouts #1 by Dennis Culver, Geoff, and others, published by Image
When I first read the press teasers for this comic by Dennis Culver and Marvel layout artist, Geoffo, I literally LOL’d. High school teenagers fighting off a secret alien invasion that they can only see when wasted? Yep! I’ll buy that. This comic is so silly. This comic is complete nonsense. This is exactly what a comic is supposed to be after reading all those other dense, dark indie ones. (Look for an interview with Dennis Culver soon on the site!)

Ice Cream Man 7 by W. Maxwell Prince, Martin Morazzo, and others, published by Image
I recently binge read issues 1 through 6 of Ice Cream Man and I have to confess; although I did know this was a comic considered as a 2018 must-read, what I did not know was to what degree. After having read those and now with the upcoming 7 this week I can say with certainty that this will definitely become one of my more consistent favorites of the year. Stellar writing. Creepy art. This comic is intensely eerie without even seeming to try. Scripts by Prince and illustrations by Morazzo combine to illuminate each standalone story as they subtly overlap within each other. Don’t miss this one. Catch up and follow along with us.

Black Hammer: Age of Doom by Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston, Dave Stewart, and Todd Klein, published by Dark Horse
I’m a sucker for all things Lemire, and more specifically all things Black Hammer. The universe that Jeff Lemire has developed over the last couple years or so with this title and the few spin-off’s has given readers something so expansive in the industry not seen since Fables. Black Hammer arguably has an opportunity to become considered nearly as important to modern era comics as Isaac Asimov’s Foundation & Robot series were to mid 20th century science fiction. Fight me.

Skyward 6 by Joe Henderson, Antonio Fabela, and others, published by Image
The first arc of Skyward ended with us finally having the confrontation between the characters we’d been following through the skies and corridors of the first 5 issues. I really enjoy this comic. The colors, the dialogue, the characters, and all the textures of the lines, everything about this story is fun. Once a couple trades come available I may even resort to utilizing this book as a recommendation for comic readers of all ages. It’s that versatile.

Batman: Damned #1 by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo, published by DC Comics
Wasn’t it just Batman day? Maybe so.. but I’m not even sure I understand the meaning or desire to even think to need a day reserved for Batman. He’s the last fictional character needing a day reserved for marketing manipulation. Come to think of it.. do we even need another Batman comic? Allow me to set up my rapid response.. YES!! Reason: this Batman is written by the living legend Brian Azzarello. Do not sleep on this one! 

James' Picks:

Cold War vol. 1 by Christopher Sebela and Hayden Sherman, published by Aftershock Comics.
A fantastic read, Cold War tells the story about people who paid to have themselves cryogenically frozen, only to find themselves woken up in a future where they're immediately turned into cannon fodder in a war against an unknown enemy. This is such a good series, and the scratchy art from Hayden Sherman is perfect for this series where you'll be asking WTF is going on, in the best possible way.  

Skyward vol. 1 by Joe Henderson and Lee Garbett, published by Image Comics.
This is a fun, engaging read. Skyward tells the story about how people have adjusted to living on an Earth where gravity is only a fraction of what it once was. For some it's been a disaster, and for some, an opportunity. This is a really clever, intelligent series, and Lee Garbett provides gorgeous, dynamic art.

Mister Miracle #11 by Tom King and Mitch Gerads, published by DC Comics.
This is one of the very best, most ambitious, weirdest big-two books in a while. Mister Miracle is building to a conclusion, and I can't even imagine what that's going to be. This is a spectacular book that's a remarkable exploration of depression and psychosis, along with parenting. And war. Seriously, you need to be reading this, it's an important book.

Captain America Annual #1 by Tini Howard, Chris Sprouse and Ron Lim, published by Marvel Comics.
Tini Howard is a terrific up-and-coming voice in comics (Assassinistas, Euthanauts) and I'm super excited to see what she brings to a Captain America story. Thankfully for her, she's paired with the spectacular Chris Sprouse, one of the very best artists and a perfect choice for a WWII-set book. I'm looking forward to this one.

Rob's Picks:

Cold War Vol 1 TP by Chris Sebela and Hayden Sherman, published by Aftershock
Gonna cheat death by suspending yourself until the future? Ha! Nice try, if you're within the cruel, crafty, and creative mind of Sebela and Sherman. Dropped into a war with no idea what to do, these people are pawns in a game, and Sebela's ability to make that horror come through is really spectacular. Sherman's angular style is perfect for this nightmare, providing a look and feel that's off-putting because it's always "not quite right"--even when the figures or buildings or what have you are familiar. It's great work from a publisher I'm growing increasingly fond of reading. This is science horror, and I love it. You will, too.

Olivia Twist #1 by Darin Strauss, Adam Dalva, Emma Vieceli, and Lee Loughridge, published by Dark Horse Comics
I was a little leery on this one, but I need to just trust Karen Berger. As usual, this is another standout book under her editorial guidance. There's no doubt as to the book's concept as a re-imagining of Dickens, and I like that the team leans into this, instead of trying to be coy. In this world, anyone who isn't pure enough ends up as an orphan and the work camps aren't just as teens--they're pretty much set. Even the non-orphan world is pretty bad, but with the help of some clever street urchins, Olivia might just make a difference. The art is slick, very old-school Vertigo, which I mean as a complement. and I'm curious to see where this goes. 

Dick Tracy #1 by Mike Allred, Lee Allred, Rich Tommaso, Laura Allred, and Shawn Lee, published by IDW
What happens when you care more about the law than your bosses? You get tossed from city to city. That's Dick Tracy's "problem" but he's more concerned about collaring criminals than collecting a check. When there's a city so corrupt only one man can clean it up, Dick Tracy is your man in this re-imagining that puts Tracy in a retro-modern setting, which is perfect for Tommaso and Allred's art styles. There's a few moments where the dialog lags behind the art, but we're teased some classic characters and if there's a more perfect person to color the world of Dick Tracy, I can't imagine them. Laura Allred is the star of this show. If you like the character, make sure to pick this one up.

Batman: Damned #1 by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo, published by DC Comics
From Dick Tracy to Bat--well, you know.
Jokes aside, I really enjoyed Azzarello and Bermejo's non-continuity Joker story, and while I don't usually like hyper-realistic art, Bermejo's style works well for what he does. I think this is a good pair to lead off the new Black Label line, and because it's not anywhere near the main stories, I can credibly consider the idea that Bats has offed the Joker once and for all, even if that ends up not being true. Throwing John Constantine into the mix just makes it all the better. The price tag on this one makes me blanch, but for a team this good, if the comic matches up to my expectations, it's going to hit my pull list. (Also, as an aside: Props to DC for being willing to show a male character the way we often see female ones. I don't care if it's a stunt, that's long overdue.)

20th Century Boys Perfect Edition Volume 1 by Naoki Urasawa, published by Viz
Imagine what would happen if a person wanted to do a manga that had a Stephen King vibe and art that looked like John Romita, Jr. before his skills eroded and turned into bad Frank Miller. That's 20th Century Boys. Urasawa weaves between the story of kids with secrets and their adult selves who have to deal with the secrets they thought were long buried--if there's even enough time to do anything to stop what's in motion. It's a story of generations, friendship, and evil and hit every right note for me in terms of horror, art, and story. Now's your chance to pick this up in all-new editions instead of raiding used book stores, like I did.

September 16, 2018

, , , , , , , ,   |  

Sunday News Desk- September 16th, 2018


From Wimmen's Comix by Lee Marrs

Previously on Panel Patter

Cover of the Next Week

September 15, 2018

, ,   |  

SPX Spotlight 2018: Anne Thalheimer

Wanna know who to see at SPX? We've got you covered! Our SPX Spotlights will give you insight on some of the best creators at one of the best shows. You can read all our SPX Spotlights from 2018 and prior shows here.

While I don't spend a lot of time in zine culture these days, there was a time when the zine/comic line was a big part of my reading life. It's when I got to know John Porcellino and Anne Thalheimer, among many other great people.

September 14, 2018

, , ,   |  

SPX Spotlight 2018: Czap Books and an Extended Preview of Ley Lines 16

Kevin Czap runs a small publishing company called Czap Books that has some really awesome creators on their roster. The description on the website gives a good description of the label as a whole: "Czap Books publishes comics that celebrate and explore the poetic, the personal, and the weird. Our goal is to nurture and support a growing, diverse family of artists."

, ,   |  

SPX Spotlight 2018: Radiator Comics

Wanna know who to see at SPX? We've got you covered! Our SPX Spotlights will give you insight on some of the best creators at one of the best shows. You can read all our SPX Spotlights from 2018 and prior shows here.

I'm pretty sure I first met Neil Brideau at an SPX show somewhere along the line, with his own distinctive mini-comics. (I reviewed the first issues of The Plot here.) In 2014, he opened his own distro, Radiator Comics, which has since moved into the world of publishing a few comics. One of those comics, Chronicles of Fortune, made my favorites list in 2017.

Neil will be at SPX alongside several other creators who either publish with (or are distributed by) Radiator Comics:

Coco Picard (Chronicles of Fortune)
Iona Fox (Almanac, for Seven Days)
Luke Howard (Dead-End Rob)
Whit Taylor (Panel Patter alum and friend, editor, Comics for Choice)
Yewon Kwon (Pallor Pink series)

Additionally, there will be multiple folks associated with Radiator at their own tables, including Ben Passmore, Rachel Dukes, Isabella Rotman, and Keiler Roberts.

There will be three debuts at SPX from Radiator. Details on the first two are from the publisher:

Abandon Ship 3 by Luke Howard
Abandon Ship 1 was the first book I ever made/ self published. I knew I wanted to make comics, but didn't have the confidence yet. I'd been doing illustration and printmaking for years, and I really wanted to try my hand at printing and assembling a book (of any kind), so I went through my sketchbooks, pulled out a bunch of drawings I liked, and threw them together in a little zine. I was hooked on making books after that. Couple years later, I had some short comics under my belt, and I decided to make issue 2 of Abandon Ship. I'd read more self published stuff at that point (notably: You Don't Get There From Here and King Cat) and decided I wanted to include more journal comics. Abandon Ship 3 continues the tradition of putting a thick screenprinted cover on a pile of drawings/ comics, and calling it a book. It's got an illustrated essay on being black and having hair, it's got some comics I made about quitting smoking, some helpful information on what to do when you're a young artist and someone asks you to join an art collective, and more. It's a lighthearted meandering book and I wouldn't regret reading it.

Your Friends Hate You So Much by Neil Brideau
When your friends move across the country, or when they don’t appreciate all the things you do for them, or when they ridicule you for the way you dress…you start to wonder whether or not they like you at all. Your Friends Hate You So Much collect short humorous comics that Neil Brideau drew and then gave away for free. Now he’s requiring you to pay money for them. What a jerk.

Fizzle #2 by Whit Taylor
This one was just announced on Twitter by Radiator, so I don't have much details. What I do know is that Whit's ability to create a story around ordinary people is really strong, as her Mad Town High series showed. The first issue featured Claire, who wanted more out of life than her current job. Will issue two bring her satisfaction? Find out by picking one up at the table!

Radiator's original comics that I've read have been great. Their creators and associated creators are all good people, several of whom I've known for years, either personally or professionally or both. Make sure you stop by to see them at SPX this weekend. You'll be glad you did.

Can't make it to SPX? Radiator Comics can be found on the web here.
,   |  

SPX Spotlight 2018: Shing Yin Khor

Wanna know who to see at SPX? We've got you covered! Our SPX Spotlights will give you insight on some of the best creators at one of the best shows. You can read all our SPX Spotlights from 2018 and prior shows here.

Shing at SDCC 2018
Anyone who gets excited when you share Paul Bunyan statue stories is a cool person in my book, and that only scratches the surface of the cool things that Ignantz-nominated creator and Panel Pal Shing Yin Khor comes up with. Both a visual artist as well as a comic creator, Shing has done everything from art installations (most recently at Portland's XOXO festival) to work for The Nib to her really amazing short comics, one of which was on my list of favorites for 2017.

, , , , ,   |  

SPX Spotlight: Liv Strömquist's Fruit of Knowledge: The Vulva Vs. The Patriarchy

Fruit of Knowledge: The Vulva Vs. The Patriarchy
Written & Drawn by Liv Strömquist
Published by Fantagraphics

Let’s be honest, the male body and female body are different on some pretty obvious fundamental levels but there are also shades and variations to those differences. Liv Strömquist’s book Fruit of Knowledge: The Vulva vs. The Patriarchy explores many ways that society has developed over thousands of years to fear those differences and to use those differences to control women. As Strömquist charts it, female biology and its bodily functions have been weaponized against women over the centuries. Her comics in this book map out the religious, philosophical, and scientific misunderstandings about women’s bodies. And more than misunderstandings, it explores the societies that use these misunderstandings to control women and their roles as part of these societies.

Strömquist’s light and pleasing cartooning style functions as a bit of a Trojan horse. Her storytelling doesn’t take itself too seriously even as she explores some incredibly deep and troubling concepts that have become part of our everyday language about women. The playfulness of her art makes her subject easier to digest. Whether it’s caricatures of the patriarchal thinkers and leaders of their day or the way that she uses her cartooning to draw the spirit of these injustices, Strömquist’s art takes some heavy subjects and makes them surprisingly entertaining to read through. She’s not dumbing down her ideas but she is enveloping them in a wrapper that is sweeter and deceptively more welcoming for the weight of her subject.

Exploring the ways that the male-dominated societies of the last couple thousand of years have used the female body as a tool to develop systematic methods of oppression, Strömquist lays out her argument with wit and calmness. Whether it’s the lack of a penis or the presence of menstrual blood, Strömquist’s comics track a number of ways that biology has been a tool to cast women as a second-class gender. Through the language that we’ve used, the ideas we’ve generated, and even the art we’ve created, Strömquist lays out what seems to be some pretty preposterous and extremely out-dated ideas in the book until she reveals that some of these ideas have existed and been practiced in the last one hundred years or so. There are ways that we want to think that these repressive practices are a thing of the past but Strömquist wants to remind us that even though we may not be as blatant about it, the legacy of this thinking still exists in our societal DNA even today.

The biggest weapon that Strömquist has to use against these hopefully outdated ideas is her humor. Fruit of Knowledge knocks down these sexist prejudices by pointing out just how absurd they really are. From a 21st century perspective, it feels like there’s almost nothing left to do other than laugh at them but that’s also a lie we tell ourselves while reading this book. If we had really evolved so far beyond this stupidity, there would be no motivation for Strömquist to use their own rhetoric against these ideas that seem to be hardwired into our heads. The fact that this book exists shows just how little we’ve advanced beyond the thoughts and beliefs she takes aim at.

Just the idea that the female body is not a man’s body had lead to centuries of persecution and repression. Liv Strömquist picks apart the silly and plain incorrect ideas that have demonstrated either an ignorance or a willing defiance to use common sense and science to really understand these differences. Instead of embracing the differences to celebrate or even just recognize the equality of women, these historical patriarchal structures have instead used them as a means of control but Strömquist is having none of that in Fruit of Knowledge: The Vulva Vs. The Patriarchy. Instead, she uses her wit and skill to entertainingly dismantle the false premises of these supposedly wisened men.

September 13, 2018

, , , ,   |  

SPX Spotlight 2018: "I Grew Up Right Along with Them" --In Conversation with Carol Tyler on the Fab Four and Memoir

Wanna know who to see at SPX? We've got you covered! Our SPX Spotlights will give you insight on some of the best creators at one of the best shows. You can read all our SPX Spotlights from 2018 and prior shows here.

Carol Tyler, from her Twitter
Carol and my Mom are about the same age. I remember how Mom would talk about the Beatles. Even though she didn't embrace their ethos in the way that Carol did, my Mom's eyes always lit up when she'd hear them on the radio. I'll never forget the time we were driving up to an outlet mall and Mom and I perfectly harmonized along with Nowhere Man. We hadn't even planned it--the music just took hold and away we went as the countryside rolled past.

That's the Beatles for you.

Carol understands this well, and has since she was a teen. She was lucky enough to see the Beatles live, and I'd be lying if I didn't say I was jealous. Like many people her age, Carol kept a series of journals back in the day--one of which was dedicated to her trip to see the Fab 4. Carol used her notebook to create a new book for Fantagraphics, and I had the pleasure of sitting down with her at their booth during San Diego Comic-Con. Here's what we discussed:

September 12, 2018

, , , , , , ,   |  

A Great Start to "Vertigo: Rebirth": Border Town is a Must Read Comic

Border Town #1
Story: Eric M. Esquivel
Art: Ramon Villalobos
Color: Tamra Bonvillain
Lettering: Deron Bennett
Logo Design: Nessim Higson
Variant Cover: Jórge Jimenez

There's been chatter that the new batch of Vertigo comics coming late this year and early next would be some you need not sleep on, but I had no idea that the first one out of the gates would be as good as Border Town. The celebratory event of Vertigo relaunching itself through DC Comics after 25 years to a new generation of readers with seven new series has with it a bar set instantly high. When a comic is as good as this one, it's hard not to re-read it a third time and proceed to tell all your loved ones and acquaintances who don't understand comics that this is the one they need to give a shot. 

Border Town is a story of a mixed-race American teenager, Frank, who we learn pretty early in the story that he has been forced to start a new life in the small town on the U.S./Mexico border, Devil's Forks, Arizona. Frank quickly comes accustomed to his immediate acquaintances making cautious of the friendly who come around. With those are a range of characters spanning from the slow-to-speak-quick-to-embrace Quinteh, two lady skeptic bystanders, Julietta and Aimi, and the owner of the ugliest hands in all of comics, a neo-Nazi named Blake. Mix these counterparts in a crowded high school hallway and surround them with the border monsters of the Aztec underworld looking for the kill and you have one of the best new beginnings in comics in quite some time.

Being a mixed-race teenager in a new town riddled with racism, neo-Nazi high schoolers, and wild javelinas devouring corpses of the refugees who have gotten past the trigger-happy vigilante white supremacists protecting their border, you can only assume that this new beginning for Frank is nothing to stand idly by. And by idle, I mean they'd better keep it moving because the mysterious creatures from the supernatural have got plenty of teeth and tongue to lash about. Confused? To wrap it simply, it's a hybrid of Stranger Things and a first-person narrative of a misconstrued immigration policy in small town Arizona. 

Pretty sure this is gonna turn some heads when it's all said and done. 

Eric Esquivel has written the story of the year here, and has collaborated with the right person to help turn it into a cult sensation by having Ramon Villalobos on board for art. With only one issue to base complete judgement as to where exactly the art will take the story, I can confirm that there are enough layers to the art that place foundation for endless amounts of expectations. One of the more notable takeaways from the art point of view of the story is the lettering. There is an argument to be had for Deron Bennett's lettering claiming it be a character in and of itself. Tone is often lost in the textual culture we live in, but Bennett has created a style of lettering in the pages of Border Town so that you are reading in the exact emotion meant for the circumstance. No small task.

Esquivel and Villalobos have been doing months of press leading up to the release of this book, and upon it's release last week it came with no surprise that it united the comic community with mostly rave reviews scattered amongst a handful of those that justified the commentary presented within it's not-so-subtle message. It was Esquivel himself that described his desire to share a story with the world that expressed our obsession to define people by a single thing when we are all, in fact, parts of many. Esquivel, a native of the Pacfic Southwest, seems all too familiar with this topic firsthand. Border Town should be given some room so it's story can speak to us and we should allow Esquivel some time to say it. 

Make no mistake, our world, our experience, is changing constantly. When we surrender, we leave it to others to define what that change looks like. History has shown us the consequences of inaction. We can and should acknowledge the trauma that we face, but we should not accept it. Indeed, we cannot fight what we do not name, so name it we must, but we can never accept it. We will never get to the other side of freedom if we accept the trauma as a feature and not a flaw of this world.
Excerpt from On the Other Side of Freedom, by DeRay Mckesson 
I foresee this comic to be well read, but, quite possible, not always well received. This is a story that will test our perceptions of the real world as we entertain ourselves with something of the unreal, or as unreal as we are allowed to convince ourselves of it.

There is a lot to be said about this topic. In our culture we practice tolerance by expecting the worst while hoping for the best. Everyone has an opinion. No one is free from the mistake of making an assumption based on another's opinion that assumed you knew the intent to begin with. But we didn't. We never did, and without story's like this one, we may never will.

Though fiction in nature, the real people that inspire the telling of story's like this one are the force needed to change the world. Let creators create. Let victims speak out. Let this comic be read.

Thank you, Eric & Ramon & Co. This timely sensation of a perceived new cult-classic is one I hope to see in shops for a long time.

It's a done deal. Go ahead and take my money now.

September 11, 2018

, , , , , , , , , , , ,   |  

Catch It at the Comic Shop September 12th, 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...

What's this? British Fantasy Award-winning author Erica Satifka is back in the Panel Patter saddle? The author of Stay Crazy (Apex Books) and frequent contributor to Interzone (among many other sci fi and fantasy pubs) rejoins the team because of a very special book she wanted to highlight!

Erica's Pick:

Mystery Science Theater 3000 #1 by Joel Hodgson, Harold Buccholz, Matt McGinnis, Mary Robinson, Seth Robinson, Sharyl Volpe, Todd Nauck, Mike Manly, Michael Heisler, and Wes Dzioba, published by Dark Horse
The Mads of Mystery Science Theater 3000 have expanded their evil scheming beyond the movie theater, and right into the pages of a comic book! In MST3K's first foray into non-theatrical riffing, Jonah and the bots are transmuted into the Golden Age by Kinga Forrester and Max (TV's Son of TV's Frank), and make the best of a bad situation by cracking jokes at the expense of Johnny Jason, Teen Reporter. (In this issue, the plucky teen muckraker is played by Tom Servo.)

September 10, 2018

, , , , ,   |  

ADVANCE REVIEW: Cemetery Beach # 1

Written by Warren Ellis
Illustrated by Jason Howard

Warren Ellis is a comic creating mastermind, and it’s hard to believe that he is without an Eisner to say so. He has consistently been behind some of the more influential comics, and the more commercially successful ones over the last couple decades. Being responsible for comic characters such as Spider Jerusalem (Transmetropolitan), Elijah Snow (Planetary), Miranda Zero (Global Frequency), and, the cinematically-immortalized-thanks-to-Bruce-Willis, Paul Moses (Red) have easily helped list Warren Ellis as one of the greatest comic creators of all-time. 

His next project, Cemetery Beach, has him collaborating again with his Trees co-contributer, Jason Howard, which is currently being adapted for television. Ellis and Howard have a unique bonded chemistry as they tell a story and bring the pages to life. Cemetery Beach wastes zero time and spares no panels as it hits the ground running telling this story of a future not far away. 

This first issue reads like the ground level of a collapsing building on a high speed getaway from WWI purple hearts of the future. It is an intense thrill ride that follows a day in the life of a professional pathfinder and collector, Michael Blackburn. The hilarious dialogue within the opening act of the issue bares it all as Blackburn escapes a torture cell unit on pursuit of his worst collection assignment yet. His escape finds him in trouble with angry off-world eccentrics while his luck finds him a certain native guide. 

This is a fun first issue. Fast-paced, full of half and full page action spreads. The illustrations are stunning and the writing is seamless as the dialogue between our lead character and his guide are sprinkled conservatively throughout many of the pages. I really enjoyed this book, and I truly think we have another quality story from the mind of Warren Ellis with the equally as magnetic visual aids from Jason Howard.

I'm running low on cash money in the budget envelope marked "entertainment", Mr. Ellis. 
Once again.. I'll be first in line.

Cover C "Impact" variant by Howard

September 8, 2018

, ,   |  

Graphic Nonfiction/SPX Spotlight 2018: Carta Monir's Lara Croft Was My Family

Wanna know who to see at SPX? We've got you covered! Our SPX Spotlights will give you insight on some of the best creators at one of the best shows. You can read all our SPX Spotlights from 2018 and prior shows here.

Welcome to another edition of Graphic Nonfiction, where we look at a true story told in the medium of comics. Today's entry is on the Ignatz-nominated "Lara Croft Was My Family," published on Medium via the Patreon of Zeal, a project dedicated to discussing games and comics via creators who may not get as much mainstream attention.

Carta's story focuses on how they'd gather around the computer and watch their father play Lara Croft:

You can see from the figure work how serious Carta's father takes the game, how nervous it made the kids, and how his wife looks on rather stoically. Its a great way to understand the dynamics of the family in one image. There's only spot coloring, too, and it's not designed to mach the lines. (What's funny about this is I've never really gotten the idea of You Tube game watchers and here is Carta and family doing just that, analog style!)

Carta also shows how sounds from the game became a part of daily life for them:

Again, we see the father's concentration (look at the line above his glasses) and the same purple coloring, which draws the eyes but doesn't mirror any of Carta's lines. As the story proceeds, we learn that Carta's mother is sick, which makes this panel hit like a gut shot:

Look at how the purple this time looms like the cloud over the head of the mother, who will soon waste away before everyone else's eyes. It's a great use of the abstract coloring to add to the mood of the comic when you go back to re-read it.

I want to share one more panel, because this one deals both with Carta's transition and the illness. Look at how the purple now gives weight to Carta's word balloons:

Nothing about Lara Croft Was My Family is overly technical. It's all square panels, there's not a lot of action, and the designs of the people in the frames are just enough to tell who is who. Yet it's extremely powerful, because Carta picks just the right image for each scene and uses the supplemental color to provide additional power. It's a great comic, and a worthy contender for an Ignatz Award. You can read the whole thing here, and I highly encourage you to do so.