August 16, 2018

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Crowded #1 is Contagious Fun

Writer: Christopher Sebela
Pencils: Ro Stein
Inks: Ted Brandt
Colors: Triona Farrell
Letters Cardinal Rae
Published by Image

Crowded is contagious fun. It’s easy to see after you put down the first issue why the entire creative team has been talking and tweeting about it incessantly. It’s not just easy publicity and hype to get the word out about their latest project. They are proud of it and rightfully so. Christopher Sebela and his team have crafted a very plausible reality where there is an app to literally make anything a part of the "gig economy"--even murder. In the current day where you can order a carpool ride or food delivery from complete strangers for a fee, Crowded takes this idea as far as it can. Charlotte Ellison’s world is one where you can double dip into multiple doggy walking services, loan out your finest evening wear, and rent yourself out as a best friend for a price in order to make ends meet.  She’s sassy and stylish. She appears confident because she’s been doing it forever. She’s a woman who has perfected the art of flexibility to meet the on-demand life her smartphone affords her

Charlotte is also the target of a crowd-funded online campaign that has made her the target for assassination. The enormous purse goes to the person that punches her ticket. Good thing there’s an app for that.

Charlotte hires Vita through the DEFEND app to be her bodyguard for hire and keep her alive as she’s taking fire and racing for cover in broad daylight as every granny and corporate worker bee are out to cash in on what seems like an easy payday. Vita lives by strict rules in order to keep her client’s alive and to keep her 100% success rate in tact. Her 1.4 star rating on the DEFEND app says otherwise.

Chris finds a great balance of humor and carnage in this title. As with many of his projects before that have contained high concept gun play and assassins, the script knows when to take a beat for a joke or a body to land so that it’s most effective for the story better rather than his own amusement. Originally, I was a little nervous that there was already a shotgun blast and a body count before the first page ended. I feared that it was going to be too much too quickly, but the story sticks the landing when it utilizes the Tarantino device of giving you the answers first and then asking the questions later making the exposition all the more engaging.

The amount of thought that the Crowded creative team has put a lot of thought in how these characters look and speak so you get a sense of them right out the gate is incredibly apparent. Ted’s inks over Ro’s pencil work give the comic an old-school feel that sits comfortably in its new-school world. The art team executes the difficult task of building upon Sebula’s dialogue with how the characters gesture. Charlotte’s movement compliments her attitude and Vis’ rigid demeanor keeps the reader at arm’s length in just a single panel many times over throughout the issue.

Crowded shares some DNA with another comic from years ago I loved called Scud: The Disposable Assassin, that explored the idea of paying to have someone killed off on a whim that utilized warped humor and took place in an insane world caught in a war between a hijacked Heaven and an overthrown Hell (I’m seriously underselling just how mad this title was). It had complex characters with conflicted feelings exploring how far they would go to be with the person they cared about. It’s because of some of these similarities that I was particularly fond of the issue after I was finished. Now I’m more excited to see what is at the root of Crowded as the series continues when that same type of familiar insanity is all taking place in a world that is so recognizable to our own reality today.


-KirkFM

August 15, 2018

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Advance Review- Beasts of Burden: Wise Dogs And Eldritch Men #1 by Evan Dorkin and Benjamin Dewey

Beasts of Burden: Wise Dogs And Eldritch Men #1
Written by Evan Dorkin
Drawn and Colored by Benjamin Dewey
Lettered by Nate Piekos
Published by Dark Horse

There’s really one thing that you absolutely need from the artist of a Beasts of Burden comic book: the ability to draw animals. In the previous stories, the series’ co-creator Jill Thompson drew dogs and cats with very real personalities and attitudes. Thompson’s ability to tell the stories of household pets and give them the depth of character of any human character opened up this whole new world where animals are more than domesticated pets; they’re our supernatural protectors. In this new miniseries, Beasts of Burden: Wise Dogs and Eldritch Men, the animals of Burden return but instead of Thompson drawing their tales, Autumnland’s artist Benjamin Dewey joins co-creator Evan Dorkin. Like his artistic predecessor, Dewey draws a world where we believe that schnauzers and other dogs protect us from flaming lizards and other woodland creepy monsters.

In our dogs, we often read very human expressions and emotions in their faces. We can look at a picture of a Doberman or a sheepdog or any mutt and we see happiness, sadness, anger, toughness, and friendship on them. We do the same with people all of the time to varying degrees of truth but with dogs, we project very human emotions in their canine faces whether they’re really there or not. Dewey expertly draws many different breeds of dogs and tells us who they are in this pack through these expressions that we see every day. Whether it’s the furl of a brow, the way that a dog’s hair covers its eyes or even just the way its tongues sticks out of its mouth, Dewey uses these visual cues to tell us who these dogs are and what their place within this pack is.


With this cast of four-legged creatures, Dewey draws a story where the characters are completely believable and unique. In these dogs, Dewey reveals their personalities through their faces and body language better than many artists can when drawing normal women and men. The leader of this pack, a schnauzer named Lundy, is the stoic one, rushing into a forest fire with the bravery of someone confident in their actions. Under Dewey’s pen, Lundy is a full character who has a soulful personality. Making these dogs as human-like as possible without turning them into cartoon characters, Dewey’s art takes man’s best friend and turns them into mankind’s greatest hope in these unseen battles.

Working with that artistic richness, Dorkin writes personalities that fit the many different breeds and species in this book. Beast of Burden: Wise Dogs And Eldritch Men #1 recalls an older time in comics when dogs like Lassie and Rin Tin Tin headlined their own adventure comics month after month. In those comics, the dogs were often trying to rescue humans so while the dogs would be heroic, so much of the story was told from their owners point of view. Here, Dorkin writes about a world where all of this can happen without human intervention. These aren’t simply loyal house dogs, needing their masters for food and shelter; they’re protectors of the land and are able to stand up for themselves against the supernatural forces that exist just outside of our nice little suburban existences.


With the rise of mystical creatures finding their way into our world and upsetting the natural order of things, Lundy and his ragtag band of adventurers are trying to use their own magic spells and incantations to hold back these demons and sprites. In this team of dogs, Dorkin and Dewey have assembled a team of hardened veterans and barely-trained newbies. These animals of the town of Burden are like almost any team of heroes or fighters; they all fall into roles whether it’s the stoic leader, the hardened fighter, the wise old soldier or even the green new recruit. If this story was told with actual human beings, this team would be filled with cliches but by turning the concept on its head and using a species of animal other than man, Dorkin and Dewey use the breeds and appearances of these dogs to help add some depth to the prototypical team roles that they fill.

Usually, when we think about the dogs who are parts of our families, we think we are the ones responsible for protecting them. In Beasts of Burden: Wise Dogs And Eldritch Men #1 the roles are flipped. The dogs are protecting us from the threats that we can’t even see. Evan Dorkin and Benjamin Dewey have created a comic that would seem normal and a bit mundane if these characters were men and women. But by making these protectors of our lands dogs, the creators have turned our ideas of strength and wisdom on their head. They show us heroism is not simply physical prowess or human perfection. Heroism is part of our character and personality. Here are heroes that don’t look like us for very obvious reasons so that Dorkin and Dewey can show us that a hero can come in all kinds of different shapes and forms.

Beasts of Burden: Wise Dogs And Eldritch Men #1 is out on August 22nd.

August 14, 2018

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Catch it at the Comic Shop August 15th, 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:


Crowded #1 by Chris Sebela, Ro Stein, Ted Brandt, Triona Farrell, and Cardinal Rae, published by Image Comics
I've read the first issue of Crowded and I can say that it's one of the funniest, sharpest comics I've read this year. It's without question the most "2018" comic I've read in 2018. Writer Chris Sebela has real skill for humor, human insight, and also for being able to capture the absurdities of the current zeitgeist. I really don't want to spoil the jokes for you, so I'll just say that this story takes the idea of crowdfunding and the gig economy to their natural conclusion. Like the best satire or science fiction (which I suppose this is, sort of) this feels like something that takes place right now, only pushing the envelope a little more. The art in the story is brought to terrific, engaging, fun life by the team of Ro Stein, Ted Brandt and Triona Farrell. There's great character work, as these character are exaggerated but their humanity and personalities really come through. There's excellent and creative sequential storytelling here, and it's enriched by terrific, bright, gorgeous color. Crowded is funny, insightful, dramatic, topical, weird, and really engaging. You should pick it up.

August 13, 2018

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This Looks Good: Sarah Graley Resurrects Kim Reaper in Vampire Island


The first Kim Reaper series (review here) was one of my favorite comics of 2017, and I'm super-excited to see there's a sequel coming on September 5th from Oni Press. For those who don't know, the premise is that Kim is a young, broke college student who gets a job as a part-time Grim Reaper. Small stuff, like your aging cat. She's stalked by a classmate, Becka, who finds Kim's life both appealing and horrifying. The whole thing is incredibly, amazingly cute, and I loved every minute of it.

Now we find Kim and Becka trying to make things work. From the press release:
Your favorite gothic cutie is back for more hilarious adventures! Oni Press is excited to announce that Sarah Graley’s beloved characters are hitting shelves once more in Kim Reaper: Vampire Island, the second installment of the Kim Reaper series. It launches September 5, 2018, with an issue #1 alternate cover by the talented Katy Farina (Steven Universe).
Kim and Becka are back and dealing with the troubles of supernatural dating inKim Reaper: Vampire Island! College relationships are tough for everyone, but they're EXTRA hard for Kim. Her grumpy grim reaper bosses are always mad at her, her girlfriend Becka's roommate keeps hanging around, and now everybody is super into vampires for some reason! And she accidentally let slip that she knew about an island full of them?! Oops, better pack up your scythe—we're all going on a really weird date!
I can't wait to see what happens when Becka over-reacts again, given the trouble she caused for Kim last time around. This series, which takes normal romantic issues (roommates, jobs, enthusiasm) and ramps them up to 11, is just so much fun and I can't recommend it highly enough.

Here's a few images from the first issue of the Vampire Island:



So adorable! So pink and purple! So going straight to the top of my reading list just after Labor Day! Make sure you get this set on your own pull lists right away. You'll be glad you did. Trust me.

Km Reaper: Vampire Island #1 will be available from Oni Press on September 5th, 2018.
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Image Comics and the American Frontier: Why Manifest Destiny Is Worth Your Time

Image Comics has become synonymous with it's biggest hits. With a killer line-up of titles such as The Walking Dead, Saga, Black Science, The Wicked + The Divine, and East of West, it's hard to blame them. But with a good number of these critically-acclaimed and exceptionally long-running series coming to an end over the next few years, Image faces the problem of seeking a new roster of headlining acts amidst a sea of trusty ongoings and a grab bag of clearly-meant-to-be-picked-up-as-a-live-action-adaptation new launches.

To put it succinctly: Image has an identity problem.

But beneath the Hickmans, Gillens, Vaughns, and Remenders of the Image world, adjacent to the up-and-coming creators hoping to make the next big hit, there's been a particularly interesting series, so completely unlike any others, that's managed to both stay afloat and stay under the radar.


Manifest Destiny, created in 2013 by Chris Dingess and Matthew Roberts, embodies the spirit of Image Comics, and quite similarly the American Frontier in which the series is set, more than any other title on the shelves. Launched in the same time frame as such heavy hitters as Southern Bastards, Black Science, and Sex Criminals, Manifest Destiny began its run with a promising blend of horror, fantasy, and historical realism. These traits have certainly become staples of the series, but its continued reinvention of genre and avoidance of any sign of slowing down has made it an especially fun read.


Set in the American Frontier in the early years of the Nineteenth century, Manifest Destiny tells the familiar story of Lewis and Clark's exploration of the uncharted west- but with a twist. The Expeditionary Force quickly realizes the Frontier is much different than expected when it encounters a menagerie of grotesque monsters and mysterious hints at a much more powerful force stalking the crew. Of course, these monsters aren't the only things to fear in the untamed wilderness. Rifts within the Expeditionary Force, difficulties with braving the dangerous weather, and encounters with Native Americans, including the unbelievably badass Sacagawea, all threaten to bring a grisly end to Lewis and Clark's journey.

The variety of stories Dingess and Roberts are able to tell with Manifest Destiny adds a real hint of suspense. The series, unlike its protagonists, is treading familiar ground. We know that the two-year voyage ends with the Force returning to St. Louis with a plethora of findings to report to the President. But the story still feels like it could go anywhere, adding a relentless sense of anticipation over what new might threaten the mission next.


Beyond its genuinely gripping story is an incredible sense of evolution in how Dingess and Roberts have changed their storytelling style. Roberts' art, while it's always been wonderfully kinetic and vibrant with a style that handles both action-packed monster scenes and more intimate conversations with ease, has markedly improved as the series has gone on, with a clearer sense of focus and aesthetic. The art has taken on a softer, almost textured watercolor feel, which meshes well with the journal-style narration the series has kept over the years. Roberts' and colorist Owen Gieni's sharper sense of texture and color palette have turned Manifest Destiny into a gorgeous and richly drawn book.

Similarly, Dingess' handle on the story and its characters has reached a sense of greater clarity. In the beginning of the series, other members of the Expeditionary Force beyond Lewis, Clark, and Sacagawea were often hard to keep track of, with little effort made to develop them as either supporting characters or cannon fodder. Beginning with recent arcs that made more use of the psychological horror genre, Dingess began to put more focus on the background characters that made up the rest of the Expeditionary Force. With an increasingly fully-realized cast, Manifest Destiny continues to improve upon itself in very noticeable ways. The continued evolution of the series makes for an especially rewarding reading experience, and one more than worthy of taking center stage amongst the Image line-up.

With a plethora of titles launching left and right from Image, a series surviving these relentless waves of new #1s has about as much chance as a pioneer braving the undiscovered American Frontier. But like its unprepared protagonists Lewis and Clark, Manifest Destiny is doing just that. This series, with its twists and turns and particularly niche story, is one worthy of your attention.

August 12, 2018

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Sunday News Desk-- August 12th, 2018

Panel

Darkon by Jim Starlin

Previously on Panel Patter

Cover of the Next Week


Katie Skelly's artwork is always a lot of fun.  She's got one of the sexiest lines in comics right now, able with just a few strokes to create beautiful legs for her characters. 

This and That


*** Brian Fies’ ‘A Fire Story” is coming from Abrams next spring (The Beat)--  Still fairly fresh from SDCC is news of Brian Fries' new comic about losing his home last year in the California wildfires.

The day after he discovered his loss, he went to a local Target after sneaking back home to survey the damage and began documenting his experience. The result was an 18-page webcomic. Drawn in three days, it became healing and therapeutic for him – and hugely popular. National PBS station KQED produced an animated documentary of the experience. Over three million people viewed the video, and he received an Emmy Award in June for the video. As the documentary was shown to the audience, a still visibly shaken Fies talked about the mix of surprise and emotional conflict that came with the Award.


***The Sandman: A Beginner's Guide (GQ)-- GQ pays attention to comics long enough to notice that Vertigo is giving it yet another try at prolonging the popularity profitability of the Sandman franchise, originally created by Neil Gaiman and Sam Kieth.    

It's kind of amazing how they manage to sum up a 75 issue series, a number of spin off graphic novels and series, and only ever mention one artist once in the whole thing.  

No, forget that.  It's really what was to be expected of this kind of generic overview of a seminal comic.
But much of the joy of The Sandman comes from how deftly and unexpectedly it builds out the world around Dream, in stories where he’s often just a supporting player. One volume, A Game of You, takes a minor character from a previous volume and spins her off into an elaborate, surreal fantasy narrative. Another, titled World’s End, takes place at a magical pub where visitors wait out a storm by swapping crazy one-off stories. At his cleverest, Gaiman also finds ways to weave the comic’s story through actual historical events—like the World Fantasy Award-winning issue that invents a new origin for Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. And The Sandman also ropes in plenty of fictional characters and landmarks along the way—like an early story that’s partially set in Arkham Asylum, which is also where most of Batman’s supervillains end up.

*** The Revamped “Nancy” Is the Perfect Comic Strip for 2018 (Smithsonian)-- Kelsey McKinney covers the Olivia Jaimes' Nancy strips for the Smithsonian of all places.
“Before I even got approached, I’d kind of become an old-school Nancy fanatic. It’s so clean,” Jaimes says, who was approached by the strip’s owners because of her previous comics work (done under her real name) and her known love for the history of Nancy. “It was so ahead of its time. Some of these panels were written in the 1930s and are still funny today. My affection for this old comic strip kind of leaked out of my pores.” That affection is what drew the publishers of Nancy, Andrews McMeel Syndication, to Jaimes and made her the first woman to draw Nancy. “Plenty of men have written young girl characters for a long time, and that is demonstrably fine,” Jaimes says. “But there are definitely parts of girlhood that I really haven’t seen reflected.”

Current Mood


August 11, 2018

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Graphic Nonfiction: Joris Bas Backer on the Amsterdamse Joffers

Welcome to another edition of Graphic Nonfiction, where we look for examples of using the medium of comics to investigate real things instead of demanding pictures of Spider-Man.

Today's feature comes from Drawing the Times, a site I first noticed about a year ago. This particular feature article caught my eye, because I don't think I'd ever heard of this collective of women artists before. Thankfully, Joris Bas Backer is here to provide me with some background, as well as looking at her own life within a collective of women cartoonists.

A few sample pages give you a good feel for the material:
In this opening page, you get a feel for Backer's art style, her color choices, and the plan to mix her current life with the brief biographical information. This particular site uses pages in a similar style to comic books, so there's not a lot of room for experimentation, as we often see in The Nib. That doesn't mean that Backer can't put together some fun visuals, such as the page below:

A nice use of the 9-panel grid that packs a lot in, and varies between text boxes and characters speaking. I especially love the top row, featuring a ladder, a human hamster wheel, and a see-saw, all of which relate in some way to balance. All three also have gaps in their structure, making it possible to fall off. It's a great thematic technique.

Backer's linework is loose, but also keeps a strong sense of detail and historical context. The Joffers are wearing appropriate clothing, yet it's still distinctive from one person to the other. Similarly, when we switch to the modern figures, as in panels 5 and 9, you can tell because they're dressed "normally"--we don't have to guess. Backer gives plenty of attention to details such as this, which help make the back-and-forth style work.

You can read the full essay here, which is really cool and definitely turned me on to something I was previously unaware of in the art world, so now I have a nifty thing to look for next time I'm haunting a museum. Check it out and learn something!

August 10, 2018

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Plumbing the Depths of Matt Kindt and Sharlene Kindt's Dept. H


Matt Kindt likes a good mystery. Many of his comics’ premises are built around trying to solve a puzzle. From Mind MGMT to Red Handed and to the Super Spy books, Kindt has created these mysteries that bend the narratives and realities of these books to pull the reader into them. With Dept H. his recently concluded underwater murder mystery, Kindt and colorist/wife Sharlene Kindt have created one of Kindt’s most personal stories yet. It’s the story of “murder six miles deep” as the tagline of the series reminds us. But as with so many mysteries, the case isn’t about who pulled the trigger and killed Hari Hardy, the Jacque Cousteau-like space and oceanic explore.  Instead, the heart of the story is the journey of Hari's daughter Mia, who is sent to his deep sea base to investigate the killing. In her consideration, every member of Hari’s exploration team is a suspect, including her brother Raj and childhood best friend Lily. And when shortly after she gets to the base, all of its systems start failing, threatening to kill her and all of Hari’s team, Mia has to figure out who killed her father while also trying to figure out how to get back to the surface and safety.

Over the course of 24 issues, collected into four gorgeous hardcover collections by Dark Horse, Kindt lays out the life of Hari Hardy, a complicated and driven explorer who brought out the best in people. As Mia's investigation considers everyone around Hari in his last days, she knows their darkest secrets because she grew up around these people. They are the fixtures of her childhood and early adulthood when her father took her everywhere he went. Whether it’s the former theology student Aaron, Hari’s best friend and sometimes rival Roger, the strong man with a violent past Q, or the awkward and bumbling scientist Jerome, or any of the other damaged people who Hari gave a purpose to, Kindt shows how Hari was a man who gave all of these people a second chance to be their best. None of these men or women, Hari included, was what you would call an outstanding human being but each of them had the potential to be a decent person and that’s the opportunity that Hari found for each of them.


While her brother Raj was always the faithful one to their father, Mia was the rebel who always wanted to look beyond her father’s dreams. She grew up the daughter of explorers and when her mother died, her father took his team and his children into space, wanting to escape the world where his wife no longer was. And when he returned to the ocean depths, his daughter wouldn’t go with him. Mia wanted to see space and thought that returning to exploring the ocean was a step backward. His son followed his father unquestioningly but Mia is truly her father’s daughter, exploring and questioning everything.

In the race for survival, Mia continues to explore and question her father. Investigating everyone’s relationship to Hari while looking for their potential motive to kill her father, Mia hears tales of compassion about her father that are lessons about how to live life. Even from beyond the grave, Hari has lessons for Mia about how to live a good life. Hari was a complicated and driven man who had his own personal issues that he was blind to, but he was also a man who saw good in others. Through the stories that she’s told about her father by his crew members, Mia gains an understanding of who Hari was, an understanding that’s more rounded than the paternalistic view a daughter has for her father. Even though he’s dead for the entire run of the story, he’s very much alive in the memories of all of the people whose lives he’s touched and to whom he's given a purpose. That’s not to make him a saint but it does broaden Mia’s understanding of who her father was and the example he should be for her. Those stories of compassion and mercy are hard for Mia to reconcile with the belief that one of these people murdered her father.

Dept. H is the story of exploration on both a personal and a worldwide level. Kindt creates this personal tragedy against the idea of global tragedy as an epidemic sweeps over the earth, one that Hari and his team may have found a cure for. And that cure is maybe why he and his team are the targets of some unseen killer. The stakes of this series exist both at a micro and macro level but it’s really only the personal stakes for Mia and Hari’s crew that count. Kindt solves the mystery in a way that feels like a possible fakeout, constructing a “might have happened” based off of supposition rather than concrete fact. After all of the setup, it’s a bit disappointing how sloppily the mystery itself is wrapped up until you realize that the story was never about the mystery but about Mia and Hari.





Dept. H Volume 1: Pressure (reprints issues 1-6)
Dept H Volume 2: After the Flood (reprints issues 7-12)
Dept. H Volume 3: Decompressed (reprints issues 13-18)
Dept. H. Volume 4: Lifeboat (reprints issues 19-24)
Written & Drawn by Matt Kindt
Colored by Sharlene Kindt
Lettered by Marie Enger
Published by Dark Horse

August 9, 2018

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Fan Expo Boston Preview: Chew on Rob Guillory's Comics

Rob Guillory, courtesy of Image Comics
When you head to Fan Expo Boston, make sure you stop by and see Rob Guillory, co-creator of the long-running series Chew and of the new comic, Farmhand, which I highly recommend.

Rob's art is extremely distinctive--his characters are, as I wrote about issue 1 of Farmhand--kinda smooshed together, and that will either work for you or not, depending on your taste. His lines are loose, but they hold a strong consistency from panel to panel, page in and page out. The exaggerations that we see in his work all serve a purpose, whether it's to gross out the reader or just punctuate a joke. Here's a few examples:

A page from Chew
As you can see here, the characters aren't strictly proportional, but they hold whatever shape Guillory's chosen for them from image to image. That takes time and effort, and the work shows, especially in some of the weird stuff in both Chew and Farmhand.

A page from Farmhand
In this example, from the opening sequence of Farmhand, we get a good example of the figure work in action again, along with some strong panel sequencing, with the horror building right up to that awesomely disgusting visual of the hands--well, I'm not sure what to call what they're doing in that panel, honestly!

While not an outright horror creator in the vein of, say, Kelley Jones, Guillory does a great job of shifting between things that look normal--well, as normal as his offbeat characters can be--and shifting into straight-on horror. It works well for Chew, when you learn just how the premise is going to be executed, and it works extremely well on Farmhand, where the strange but good-natured plan to grow body parts has to lead to really bad shit. (And trust me, it does!)

I'm sure Rob will have copies of Farmhand available at the show, and anyone who digs sci-fi horror should definitely check it out. Rob also does commissions in his style, though I don't know his rates. If you want more information, Rob's website is here.

August 8, 2018

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An Interview with Joe Casey about New Lieutenants of Metal, Kirby, and More

At San Diego Comic-Con, I had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with a creator I've been reading for a very long time, Joe Casey. Joe took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to talk to me about his new series, New Lieutenants of Metal and how Jack Kirby continues to influence him, among other topics. Joe was accompanied by his son, who made sure I only asked good questions!

Joe Casey, from Image's Site
For those who don't know Joe's work, he's been around the industry for quite some time. At some point, he's written the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Avengers, Hulk, and Spider-Man for Marvel, scripted Superman, Batman, and the Flash for DC, and has worked various things at Image (Godland being my personal favorite, but also Sex and Valhalla Mad), Dynamite (Captain Victory), and other publishers. Casey is probably best known to kids for the Ben 10 and Mega Man cartoons. He's a really varied creator who draws upon Kirby's idea that "anything can be a comic," as you'll see...


Rob McMonigal: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview, Joe. First of all, how the heck did you guys come up with the concept of New Lieutenants of Metal? It’s bonkers, but it’s awesome.

Joe Casey: Thank you very much. It’s one of those things, I’m in a lucky position now. The goofy things I come up with, because of how long I’ve been working at Image and the fact that because I do a lot of work in animation and television, I’m not dependent on comics to make my living. So I’m able to put out these weird, funky ideas and not be as concerned about having them pay my rent.

New Lieutenants of Metal was a weird title I came up with, probably five or six years ago. Sometimes [concepts] come out of jokes. I may be sitting around with the other Man of Action guys [a writer's collective that Joe belongs to] and we’ll be talking about whatever and a name will pop out and someone will say, "I’m going to use that." This was one of those moments--that’s my recollection, anyway. Then it was a matter of coming up with the characters and ideas and finding out what kind of comic would fit that title. I don’t usually fit the title first and put the concept second, but this was one of those times. A couple years later, I had it all together, and it went from there.

Rob: How did you get Ulises Farinas on board?

Joe: We’d worked together on something for Dark Horse called Catalyst Comix, and just I just thought he’d be good for this, because Ulises is the kind of artist who will draw anything you ask him to draw.

Rob: *laughs*

Joe: He’ll do it in his style, but he’ll do it. I talked to him about it and he seemed into it. I said, "Let me write it and once it’s done, you can draw it." It was a long stretch—this was not a project at the front of either of our plates. Eventually we had enough issues in the can and we could finally put it out.

Rob: You get to do some of the more out there concepts. It feels like a lot of your work has either of an overt or background Kirby influence. What draws you to him when you work on a comic?

Joe: Two things. For awhile, I was really working in what I call the Kirby idiom. He would work in certain genres, I guess you could say. He would do styles of story--cosmic stuff, heroic fiction, mythology. I would riff off of that that. Godland [with Tom Scioli] was obviously that. Valhalla Mad [with Paul Maybury] was obviously that. Then I would do things like Captain Victory for Dynamite, which was really in that area, obviously.

The other side of it, the second thing, his willingness to try anything, do anything--nothing was outside the bounds of comics. Anything could be a comic—that seemed to be his ethos. New Lieutenants of Metal or 1975 or anything that’s not obviously Kirby inspired has still got that, "Hey we’re gonna try this!" Anything can work in comics as long as you put the sweat equity in. I feel like I’ve burned through my direct Kirby influences. There's no more Godlands in me, but the spirit of "do anything, try anything"--that’s never going away.

A page from New Lieutenants of Metal, art by Ulises Farinas

Rob: You've worked with a ton of artists over your career. Do you have a standard approach or do you change it up?

Joe: I don't choose [the approach] so much by who I’m working with. I pick the method based on how I feel the end product will result. In other words, on New Lieutenants of Metal, we did it Marvel style. For those who don't know that's plot first, then the artist draws, and I come back in and script the dialog and text. I did that for Godland as well. I pick that method because I like the energy that comes from sitting down with all the art and just coming up with the words that [the characters are] going to say.

But there’s a pitfall to that approach because you’ve got to have your enthusiasm twice--once when you write the plot and then you have to find it again when you script the stuff. I don’t do that too often. But if I know it’s going to be a long lead time, like New Lieutenants of Metal, I do it that way because I don’t want to commit myself now to text to people are going to read four years later. I want it to be as near to the moment as I can make it. I probably scripted New Lieutenants of Metal over the Christmas holiday. That keeps it fresh--I’m working at where I’m at now as opposed to having to live with something I did four years ago. That’s tough to do.

1975, Out in September from Image

Rob: I'm not sure if you can answer this or not--of all the characters you’ve worked on, who might be a favorite?

[Joe pauses to think about this a moment, then answers.]

Joe: I’m doing this book that's coming out in September called 1975. The lead character is a cab driver named Pamela Evans. I would say she's my favorite right now because I don’t know how readers are going to react to her She’s my favorite right now because she’s still mine. Some people have read the book in prep for the release, but not the general public. I still have ownership. Once the book is out, I give that up. I let that go. I still have that now, she’s still very near and dear to me.


Rob: Last question--What other projects do you have right now, or are in the works?

Joe: 1975 with artist Ian MacEwan--that will start in September [from Image Comics]. That’s the next big project. I have something that’s going to be announced later in the fall, which is the next big project. And beyond that, I’m writing the Accell monthly for Lion Forge [with artists Damion Scott and Robert Campanella], part of their superhero universe. Beyond that, I'm doing a lot of Ben Ten and Mega Man, which is the typical stuff my company does as its business.

Rob: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview!


Joe Casey and Ulises Farinas' New Lieutenants of Metal #2 is out today from Image Comics. You can get a copy from your local comic shop or digitally at Comixology. 

August 7, 2018

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Catch It at the Comic Shop August 8th, 2018

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

Rob's Picks:


Dumb by Georgia Webber, published by Fantagraphics
I am so very happy to see this coming out in a collected edition from Fanta, as the individual issues were fantastic. I also had the pleasure of meeting Georgia on tour, at an event where we were asked to remain silent and speak only via writing on pieces of paper. It was extremely powerful. After abruptly learning that she must rest her voice, Georgia copes with changing her entire life in visuals that depict her challenges extremely well. Georgia uses the visual medium to show how hard it is to go from being able to speak freely to knowing that every syllable is precious. It's a great memoir, but also a solid example of how comics can bring a story to life in a way other mediums cannot. This one gets my highest possible recommendation.

August 6, 2018

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I've Got Issues - Week of August 1, 2018

Thanks for checking out the second installment of “I’ve Got Issues,” my weekly round-up of choice reads. I’ve tweaked the format slightly, and I’m going to try (emphasis) to produce ten short, one-to-two-paragraph reviews of what I read in a given week. In general, I follow the “Believer rule” in that I try not to write about things I don’t like. I see nothing good in contributing to the vitriol that permeates the internet. You are free to choose to read into the ten comics I pick however you wish if you’re looking to glean what I “didn’t like,” but keep in mind that I’m both on a budget and a half time trade waiter so, no, I didn’t think anything was wrong with Quantum Age, or Captain America, I just didn’t get a chance to read them. And there were books I liked that didn't make the cut, like Leviathan. Also, please notice that I’m only reviewing single issues. There are a ton of good collections and OGNs every week, too. But I read very slowly. The nuns thought I had dyslexia. But I showed them. I was an English major! Hence, budget. I digress . . .

*BOOK OF THE WEEK* (tie)


Mister Miracle #10 (of 12) (Gerads Variant)
Mister Miracle 10
Written by Tom King
Art by Mitch Gerads
Letters by Clayton Cowles
Published by DC Comics

In a perfect world, after the final issue of Mister Miracle hits the stands and we've all had a moment to digest the series as a whole, we'll read a tweet or a Newsarama update that Tom King and Mitch Gerads have signed on for a Beetle-Booster-Barda-Miracle-centric JLI relaunch.

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Hey, You! Buy 2000 AD's Summer Sci-Fi Special, Then Pick up the Progs, too!

You should buy the 2000 AD Summer Sci-fi Special. It’s Monday now, and chances are good that whatever little stock your LCS ordered has dwindled. I always advocate finding a print copy of an issue, but these are unique circumstances. You can buy the digital issue directly from 2000 AD here. If there is still a barrier to purchasing it, you can call me, and I can read the prog to you while describing each panel. 

August 5, 2018

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Sunday News Desk- August 5th, 2018

Panel

Ramona Fradon from Metamorpho #2

Previously on Panel Patter

Cover of the Next Week


When there's a new Ben Passmore book, you can't pass it up.  Well, at least I can't pass it up.  I hadn't seen his issue of Daygloahole #2 so I immediately jumped on Silver Sprocket's website and ordered both issue #1 and #2.  And now I'm checking the mailbox every day just waiting for these to show up. 

Interviews


*** The BKBF Interview: Ed Piskor (Brooklyn Book Fest)-- If you can't get enough of Ed Piskor, here's an interview he did for the upcoming Brooklyn Book Fest.  It's short and sweet but I love it just for this story.
Tell us your best book-receiving experience. Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez are two of my absolute favorite cartoonists of all time. One weekend we were sent to Memphis for a festival. I remember telling Jaime the first time I visited our mutual publisher, Fantagraphics, I had a list of things I wanted to see while at the office. One of the books on my bucket list was a self published copy of the Hernandez brosthers’ first comic, Love and Rockets. Jaime said “want a copy?” and pulled one out of his suitcase for me. I shook like a leaf.


***THE WEIRD OF WENDY PINI (Boing Boing)-- This profile/interview of Wendy Pini by Rob Beschizza covers everything from Pini's days in fandom dressing up as Red Sonja to the recent conclusion of her and her husband Richard Pini's conclusion of the decades-long Elfquest saga.  It's a good piece that covers how Pinis has been part of comics since the 1970s but for some reason, we've always looked beyond some of the oddness of their lives.  Sometimes though, I really wonder if that matters as we look at the art that these creators make.  This article draws links between the Pinis and Dave Sim and, Lord knows, I'm willing to try to forget everything I know about Dave Sim while reading Cerebus even though Sim imposes his beliefs in his comics so much more than I remember the Pinis doing.  Altogether, this is a very comprehensive look at Wendy Pini.
“One journalist decided to go after me as being an antifeminist Antichrist,” Wendy says, giggling at the memory of it. “I kept saying to her, come to the show! You’ve never seen the fucking show! Then pass judgment. But she never came. Women associated with comics, including journalists, were rare back then. If you’re a woman and you’re going to attack another woman for doing something, at least get your facts straight.”

Sonja opened doors for her, but also closed them. Paul Levitz, longtime president of DC Comics, admitted in 2014 that Wendy’s Sonja cosplay still colored the business’s perception of her success, even after she had sold millions of books.

“It limited the level of respect you received by peers”, he told her.

“That was well over 30 years ago!” Wendy replied, stunned.

“Fanboys have long memories,” he said.


*** Interview: Daniel Elkin Will Fight You Over Small Press Comics and Chicken Nuggets (Comics Bulletin)-- I really like and respect the work critic Daniel Elkin does at the fantastically named Your Chicken Enemy.

I initially started writing about small press comics around 2012 because I had discovered so many wonderful books, and I just wanted to talk about them with other people. To my dismay, I found myself having a hard time finding people with whom to have those conversations. So much around the genre is focused on superhero comics and very little bandwidth was given to these “shitty little stapled Xeroxed things” that were so intensely personal and heartfelt and beautiful. So I thought, maybe if I write about them, more people would read them, and then I could talk to people about them. I’m selfish like that.

This and That


*** Malaysia drops sedition case against political cartoonist (South China Morning Post)-- SCMP has news that sedition charges against Malaysian cartoonist Zunar have been dropped.  Zunar often drew cartoons mocking high profile politicians, such as the Malaysian ex-Prime Minister and his "luxury-loving" wife.  And he wasn't even being tried for his cartoons; he was accused of sedition due to critical Tweets of an opposition leader.

But at a hearing in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, prosecutors said the attorney general’s office had decided it does not want to pursue the case and was withdrawing the charges against him, the cartoonist confirmed.

Zunar, whose cartoons are published by leading news portal Malaysiakini, said he was happy with the decision, but would not be “absolutely happy until the government abolishes the Sedition Act”.


*** Jason Latour's Spider-Gwen Fanfiction (Latour's Twitter feed)-- Now that his and Robbi Rodriguez's run on Spider-Gwen is over, Jason Latour is either saying goodbye with one last comic or he's starting his new career as a fan-fic creator.

Your Moment of Jodorowsky



*** YOUR FIRST LOOK AT THE SONS OF EL TOPO FROM BOOM! STUDIOS (Boom Studios)-- We really don't run that may previews (if any) here at Panel Patter but I just need to sneak this one in.  Jose Ladron is one of those artists who doesn't do all that much but anytime his name is on a comic, it's work taking a look at.  I know that Jodorowsky can be a problematic storyteller at times (well, a lot of the time) but he's still a fascinating shaper of tales.
This sequel, arriving in stores December 2018, tells the story of El Topo—a bandit without limits and a man with no moral compass. But when his journey through the arid west brought him face to face with a series of rogue outcasts, he found enlightenment in the unlikeliest place and was forever transformed, becoming a holy vessel imbued with the power to perform miracles. This was a journey that took him far from his first born son, Cain, and brought about the birth of Abel.

Click on each of the images for a larger view of the page.



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