November 25, 2020

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Department of Truth Issues 1-3 by James Tynion IV and Martin Simmonds

Department of Truth
Written by James Tynion IV
Illustrated by Martin Simmonds
Lettered by Aditya Bidikar
Designed by Dylan Todd
Edited by Steve Foxe
Published by Image Comics

Department of Truth is a comic that I wish didn’t exist.  Well, that’s not quite right. Department of Truth is a fantastic comic that I very much enjoyed and highly recommend to anyone looking for a dark, smart commentary on our current times. What I mean to say is, I wish that the current circumstances in our country/world were such that a book like Department of Truth didn’t need to exist. In order to really dive deep into Department of Truth, I need to discuss spoilers. So, consider yourself warned. But honestly, knowing spoilers for Department of Truth will not make that much of a difference for your enjoyment. A lot of this book is so philosophical and high-concept that knowing that certain things happen doesn’t actually make a difference.

November 24, 2020

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Catch It at the Comic Shop November 25th, 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...

Beth's Picks:

Justice League Dark #28, by Ram V., Amancay Nahuelpan, June Chung, Rob Leigh and Kyle Hotz, published by DC Comics
I won’t spoil it for those who aren’t caught up, but the last panel of Justice League Dark #27 was a gruesome moment of superhero horror “yikes.” It made me genuinely worried for one of the Leaguers. Yes, yes, this is still a mainstream superhero comic, so it all might be okay in the end. But it was definitely a horrifying image, and in a book like this, that’s a good thing. Ram V. has a great team dynamic going and Amancay Nahuelpan draws one supremely grotesque Upside-Down Man. The combination is one made in heaven—or perhaps more accurately in an apocalyptic hell dimension—but in a good way. 

November 18, 2020

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This Looks Good: Boom! Shines with Amazing Artist Maria Llovet's Luna in February


Whether it's been the extremely creepy erotic Faithless (with Brian Azarrello) or her own work on books like Heartbeat or Loud. Maria Llovet's work is absolutely stunning. I immediately became a fan as soon as I saw her work on Faithless, and I've been so happy that Boom! and other publishers have been bringing more of her work to your local comic shop or digital device.

On Monday, Boom! announced their latest work from Llovet, called Luna, which is scheduled for February 2021. Here's their description of the story, which is very much in line with Llovet's other creative work:

In this darkly erotic series, an innocent young woman finds herself drawn to a mysterious commune where the search for immortality and the true power of enduring love collide, available in February 2021.

When Teresa fatefully crosses paths with the Family of the Sun, she believes them to be exactly what anyone else in the late ‘60s would expect - a hippie cult whose leader claims to have met the divine. But secret blood rituals, powerful drugs and sex runneth amok will bring Teresa face-to-face with the truth about the Family, herself and the dark secret behind her dreams.

November 17, 2020

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Catch It at the Comic Shop November 18th, 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...

Mike's Picks:

Paper Girls Deluxe Edition Volume 3  by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson, and Jared Fletcher, published by Image Comics

Towards the end of the summer, I began a re-read of this series that I attempted to document issue-by-issue on Twitter. I didn't make it to the end, a consequence of the start of the school year, but I'm excited to complete the re-read with this hardcover collection. I consider this series to be an absolute masterpiece, one that manages to do more in it's thirty-issue run than other books do in twice that amount. Every creator on this book works in unison with each other. Everything in this book just feels right. I often have a hard time explaining why - but this book just clicks.

November 16, 2020

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Dreaming of a Family in Gipi’s One Story

One Story by Gipi

The title of this book, One Story, is a lie. It is not one story. It’s probably not even two stories but a multitude of them. Gipi sculpts a story around two men’s memories, around their shared history that is tied together by the name Landi and by the blood that makes them family. Gipi opens the book with a monologue about age and memory. It’s a monologue that we later find out that Silvano Landi has bored and frustrated his daughter with and you almost can’t blame her. Like her, for the reader, it’s a frustrating start to the book that you need to come back to once you have finished the book. His daughter is angry because she’s heard it before and she knows she’ll hear it again from her father. But for us, the monologue lays out in front of us every concern that Gipi wants to explore in this book but it’s coded, and the pages that follow it hold the key to the code.

The monologue tells us about two people, one of them eighteen-year-old and waking up suddenly to find that they aged 32 years overnight while the other person wakes up every day of those 32 years, one day at a time, to gradually grow into their 50-year-old face, Gipi lays out everything about the book but we can’t see that yet until we read the rest of it. There’s a mystery about what this book is going to be and what journey it is going to take us on. It follows two people with two different paths but ultimately, there are connections between them that bring their paths together. It is incredible the confidence Gipi has, essentially explaining the story in the first few pages without ever giving anything away about what we’re going to experience in the rest of the book. These first few pages spark our thoughts about how we experience life and how those experiences change over time and then we get to put those thoughts into practice reading Mauro and Silvano’s stories.

One Story by Gipi

An even more puzzling interlude follows the monologue. Two men take a drive in an old Maserati, the driver telling the other man to stop thinking about life, death, and turning fifty. So after the opening monologue but before the story begins (unless it already has and we just missed it,) Gipi inserts a story beat that tries to brush off the heady musings of the previous pages but the book and the cartoonist can never fully shake those thoughts. From this brief encounter, we follow these two men, Mauro Landi and Silvano Landi- great grandfather and great-grandson, as one fights desperately to survive the trenches of World War I while the other struggles in a psych ward, alone after an emotional breakdown. Gipi’s unconventional entry into his story provides a tension of uncertainty that we carry with us through the whole book.

Mauro and Silvano are separated by 100 years and a couple of generations. Silvano knows about Mauro from stories handed down and letters that his great grandfather sent to his great grandmother back home, dreaming of a future for their family even while he was in Europe with death all around him. These are two men living two different lives in incredibly different times. They would hardly recognize the life that the one man is experiencing. Everything in Gipi’s story tries to trick us into thinking that Mauro and Silvano’s stories are two separate and different stories.

Gipi’s artwork adds to the mysterious air of the book. At times, he uses watercolors and gray washes to tell the store. At other times, it’s just a scratchy pen, drawing the raw nerves of the characters. Creating different pictorial planes through the tools he has, Gipi’s ever-shifting technique just adds to the unsteadiness of the characters and the readers. Mauro’s time in the trenches is largely told through color or washes, creating an atmosphere of both the warfare that’s being fought all around him but also the inner turmoil of being trapped and fearing for his life. It’s a different type of turmoil that Silvano is living through but the painted colors of his sequences create an experiential synergy between the two men across the years and across the pages.

One Story by Gipi

When Gipi drops to the color to use only his rough pen line, an odd sense of stepping outside of the story occurs. These moments are happening but seem somehow apart from the actual events of the story. They’re almost metatextual elements of the trauma of these men’s lives and times. By dropping the color, it’s almost like Gipi is dropping out the world around his characters, giving them an existence that’s narrowed down to just these stark moments of time.

So for this story of two generations, both men’s lives circle around thoughts of a family— of their individual and ultimately their shared families. Mauro, a young man at war, writes letters to his wife back home, trying to find the words that would encourage him as much as they would comfort his wife and young son. On one page, Gipi shows us these letters through Mauro’s discarded drafts, words and whole thoughts scribbled out because they were not the right words. Decades later, Silvano, a writer himself, will find boxes of the letters that made it to his great grandmother and he would marvel at the words of his great grandfather. For Mauro, the letters are a lifeline but for Silvano, they’re a revelation of people he knows just from family stories.

Mauro’s family is just starting but Silvano’s has already fallen apart, separated from his wife and a burden for his daughter. In the hospital, the healing he needs is for reconciliation, if not to be together with his family but at least for some kind of peace and understanding with them. It’s heavily implied that the dissolution of his family is somehow his fault as if he lost the ability to relate to his wife and daughter at some point in their lives together. The one thing that seems to keep Mauro going 100 years earlier is his desire to be again with his wife and child; that’s the need that will make him survive this brutal and deadly war.

So maybe the title of the book isn’t a lie. Maybe this is truly one story just told over the span of a century. This family was forged in war as Mauro, scarred and desperate, commits acts of war that will haunt him for the rest of his life. And maybe those acts spoiled something in this family, something that simmered for generations until it found a catalyst in Silvano’s life. It is the beginning and the end of a family and of love but it courses over years and over generations of people.

Gipi first published this comic when he was 50 years old and there’s a feeling of both looking backwards and forwards in this book and in these lives. So much can have already happened in the first 50 years of a life as we witness in the lives of Mauro and Silvano. Lives are lived in that span of time with the promise of so much more after that. Gipi approaches this book at a point of taking stock of a life, trying to determine its worth and how to move forward from there. Whether it’s the trenches of war or the psych ward, these two men are in a moment of time where they are trying to find a way forward. The future for both men seems like one of Gipi’s gray night skies, dark and heavy but with the slightest hint of light in the distance. But how do you get there? Gipi doesn’t seem to have that part figured out yet.

One Story by Gipi
One Story
Written and Drawn by Gipi
Translated by Jamie Richards
Published by Fantagraphic Books

November 12, 2020

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Panel Patter Tober 2020: Recap

We did something new this year and jumped on the inktober train. Daily sketch prompts out there ranged from #batober to #jacktober and the always entertaining #kayfabetober. So we decided to put our own spin on the tradition with our very 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:

The Catch It column is published each Tuesday. By choosing seven characters from those titles for our daily word prompts we had plenty of material to sketch each week, all within our own recommendations. Daily sketches for you all to enjoy in various forms of pure Panel Patter tradition.

To recap our month long journey here is what became result from our October daily drawing exercise..
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Does Bionic Enhance the Coming of Age Story? An Analysis of Koren Shadmi's Latest Graphic Novel


From the fledgling sub-genre of cyberpunk adolescent romance comes Bionic, a graphic novel that aims to pose a series of hyper-relevant questions to the reader about the nature of technology in our near future. Koren Shadmi attempts to answer big questions about how our relationship with technology will change our relationship with each other. 

November 10, 2020

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Catch It at the Comic Shop November 11th, 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...

Sean's Picks:

Terminal Punks #1 by Matthew Erman, Shelby Criswell and Micah Myers, published by Mad Cave Studios
A rich man collecting animals. A group of four friends traveling by plane to NYC. Orangutans, snakes, and elephants running amuck while in transport.. by plane.. to NYC. Two planes, two worlds, two stories collide. Not literally, but figuratively. Four punks, Sway, Burton, D’arby and Kee are the eyes, ears and voice to the story as we navigate darks corridors of a terminal. This is a bizarre story. It’s modestly dense with narrative, but it works, and it works well. Visually this is perfect. The tastefully grotesque images are spaced out well and give it the edge needed to stand out above other small press indie books. This is a title that will remain on my radar. First issue is out this week and it is a strong one!

November 5, 2020

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Smile, or Else! Ahoy Comics' Happy Hour #1 Outlaws Unhappiness


I am going to take a moment here and be transparent. Life is hard. Really, really hard. Bad things happen and, sometimes, nothing ever goes as planned. Pessimism has taken hold of me over the course of the last several months with no real end in sight. Sure, I have a fair amount of things I could channel focus toward which would probably revert my attitude so that my unapologetically optimistic mother would be proud. “Give it to God”, “don’t sweat the small stuff”, “better luck next time”, “keep your chin up”, or the always-annoying “other people have it worse”; these are a few examples of how the painfully optimistic prefer to deal with the suffering that come their way.

The world is full of the glass-is-half-full type, and then there are people like me. Periodically I struggle with negative fleeting thoughts not cooperating with being fleeting at all. Myself, along with many others, find solace in our doomed self-destructive habits and can’t quite understand why bad things continue happening regardless of how many times we try, or how sincere we meant the prayer whispered last night before going to bed. Truth is, life kind of sucks sometimes and for many people it feels hopeless and minimizing such circumstance of ours only makes things worse.

Ok. Enough about me. (Don’t worry… I’ll... be… fine). Let’s transition a bit and look at the well-suited and timely new title from Ahoy Comics called Happy Hour. This new series from Peter Milligan, Michael Montenat, Felipe Sobreiro and Rob Steen jumps headfirst into a fictional world that has outlawed unhappiness and couldn't have come at a more ironically painful time as now. Sounds awful doesn’t it? The constant smiling I mean. Who in their right mind would be able to find happiness in awful things like Covid, or American politics, or Big 2 mega-events.. you get the idea. This story begins and as things progress you learn that the moment referred to as Happy Hour was when the permanent smile became law punishable by a type of medical procedure of which I'd prefer go without.

Starting things off in this satirical interpretation of our today we witness the Happy Police violently engage with a small group of Stanford college students as they philosophically discuss the relative meanings of happiness. The humor found in this immediate interaction of the comic is as on-point for the cliché college student as it is to imagine a scenario that would require an authority figure to enforce such thing. Events progress rapidly and the insightful group of students become the latest victims to the smile-by-force initiative. This scene-setting moment happens suddenly on the first couple pages of the story, quickly fades, and then gives way for a fast forward to ten years later.

After having a stage set such as this it allows the following pages to make more sense. Laughing at the pronunciation of a loved ones traumatic medical diagnosis, or finding endless and unabashed humor in self-deprecation, this is where society has found itself. But why? But how? We find ourselves following Jerry, the unfortunate lead character who suffers a head injury as soon as we settle in to this new time period. Somehow he has knocked the happy right out of his skull. He wiped the silly smirk clean off his face. He had a blow to the head so hard that all cognitive functioning beyond his solitary smile has suddenly been reintroduced to his frontal lobe. What comes to follow in the remaining pages of this side-splitting (you better be laughing!) debut are what make this such a strong first issue. Jerry gets institutionalized. Jerry finds new friends. Jerry discovers a conspiracy. This is such a fun little premise that I cannot help but be enthusiastic about its existence. 

Milligan and crew seem to have a good grasp on how to create a hook and cast it quick while not building a world that a mini-series cannot contain within itself. Packed all in this first issue are what feels to be an obvious antagonist, an apparent protagonist, a few innocent bystanders that could easily serve purpose, and a small supporting cast that will obviously take over as becoming the lead role. This has all the ingredients for a satirical story with an intent and a purpose; a story that makes you self-reflect and examine society on the macro level once said story is unraveled, revealing parts and pieces of what was hidden beneath all the ha-ha’s. (You better still be smiling!)

Choice of illustration style can have many different effects to a story. There is an artistic choice to simply draw what is happening while you let the narrative tell the story. Consequently, you also have the opposing option of telling the same story as the coinciding narrative, but told in ways the artist chooses to layout or illustrate the pages. Then there are the many different possibilities in between. A part of me wishes that Happy Hour had a secondary scratchier illustration style to provide reader a comparative contrast to the realistic cartoon-like quality that Montenat and Sobreiro bring to the story. Make no mistake, we have an incredibly strong artistic vision with them bringing to life the Milligan story. The eerie gaze seen with every meaningless smile would be lost having no impact to the narrative if it did not come with a style such as theirs. I just wish that there was an element of contrast to build a different dynamic and help grow the story. But.. I’m not credited on the title page, and I did not help create the story. And, the story that I seem to be scripting in my head is probably not the same one that they are going to tell. That said, this is a gorgeous book to look at. It has the level of artistic quality that we have come to expect from Ahoy Comics, not to mention the additional added extras after the main story. (Please, read those too. They are always equally as enjoyable as the cover story and will help maintain your own perpetual smiling.)

Let's get one thing straight and circle back to the fact that unflinching optimists bug the shit out of me. Knowing this, if I were a character in this comic then I’d be institutionalized long before the sunlit part of the day was done. But I'm not, so all is fine. Peter Milligan seems to always have a new satirical trick up his sleeve and Happy Hour is no exception. He has, with help from the rest of the creative team, brought us a comic that not only mocks our societal desire to remain hopelessly optimistic but also paints a dystopian picture of what it would look like if our utopian desire for perfection by way of constant happiness were somehow achieved.

Happy Hour #1
writer: Peter Milligan
line artist: Michael Montenat
color artist: Felipe Sobreiro
letterer: Rob Steen

November 4, 2020

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Review - Crossover #1 by Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw

Crossover #1
Written by Donny Cates
Illustrated by Geoff Shaw
Colors by Dee Cunniffe
Letters by John J. Hill
Published by Image Comics

Crossover (the new comic from the creative team behind the extraordinary God Country) is an absolute home run and one of the best debut issues (really, one of the best single issues generally) that I've read all year.  If you're wondering whether the quality of this comic meets the hype? My answer is an enthusiastic "hell yeah".  Crossover is an absolute popcorn thrill ride of a comic. It's a meditation on the significance of fiction and on our relationship to fictional characters. And it's also...a story about love and hope and community?  Above all of that, it's a stunning work of art that you can stare at slack-jawed all day. Crossover is off to a fantastic start.

Crossover begins by asking an interesting question. Who is more real, Superman? Or you (the reader)? Over the course of the first few pages, the narrator makes the case that the answer is in fact “not you”. But this is just preamble, to introduce you to the main premise of the comic, and it’s a hell of a premise. On January 11, 2017, a futuristic city filled with superheroes and villains from every different company appear inside of (or, on top of) Denver, Colorado, in the midst of a giant crossover event-style battle (think, Infinite Crisis, War of the Realms, etc.). This causes mass death and chaos which begins to spread. One of the superheroes eventually creates a giant force field around all of Colorado in order to contain the damage and chaos, and after that happens, everyone outside of the bubble loses all contact with anyone inside.  

The story picks up some number of years later as we see Ellipsis (or Ellie) Howell walking to her job at a local comic shop in Provo, Utah. This isn't a riskless proposition, as Ellie is wearing superhero cosplay on her way to a job at a comic shop. Both of these things mark her as participating in activities that are now shunned by many in society (given the very real damage and chaos that these "fictional" characters have caused). The comic shop is a busy and chaotic place, and things take a turn for the even more chaotic. I don't want to say any more; this story is full of surprises that are worth your discovering for yourself. Suffice to say, the end of the first issue of Crossover sets up some really exciting and fun ideas. 

My first experience with the art of Geoff Shaw was in reading the wonderful God Country (my review here). There, I thought Shaw did terrific work (paired with talented colorist Jason Wordie) bringing to life the dual worlds of rural Texas, and the world of cosmic space gods, and somehow making all of that work seamlessly. Well, all of that time spent drawing the clash of two completely different worlds was time well spent, given that the central plot point of Crossover is that the shiny, bright, crackling world of superheroes and supervillains has spilled over into our world and is wreaking havoc.  Rest assured, Shaw (now joined by colorist Dee Cunniffe) is more than up to the challenge; not only is this a great, original, and memorable-looking comic, the debut of Crossover may be the most striking single issue of art I've seen this entire year (other than maybe Decorum). You will really want to linger on the art here.

To tell a story like Crossover, you need to be able to do both “big and bombastic” but also find ways to capture smaller human moments. Shaw excels at both, and everything in between. He’s got a distinctive line that reminds me generally of a few other artists (Matteo Scalera, Sean Murphy) but he’s got very much his own style. He’s got a way of drawing people that is exaggerated and elongated but never feels anything other than real and true. I'm particularly a fan of the heavy inks that surround his characters; the thick lines make the characters really pop off of the page.  His work feels very grounded in reality but also able to capture the extraordinary. Such as in the below double-page spread (which I'll refer back to a number of times). In order to convince the reader that the superhero world has exploded into the everyday world, you need to be able to clearly draw both and distinguish them from one another. 

Shaw’s cities and landscapes and buildings all feel completely real and true to me. They look accurate, if perfectly ordinary, which is how they’re supposed to look in comparison to the larger buildings and bizarre structures that appear in Denver. Those are very clearly from another world, and the contrast is clearly sold by Shaw. Both his “mundane world” and “superhero world” have a high degree of verisimilitude. Later on in the story when we meet Elle and see her on her way to the comic shop, and we see all of the action and the protesters surrounding the evil, immoral comic shop, all aspects of that part of the story feel very much grounded in the real world. Not photo-realism (which I’m not really a huge fan of), but a world that feels real enough that it makes sense to us.  

Throughout the issue, the pacing, the layout, all of the storytelling flows perfectly. Shaw moves the story from epic bombast to quiet introspection, and again to crowds and tension, with skillful and engaging layouts and storytelling. And every page is (as I mentioned above) full of great details, such as the world of the comic book inside the comic book, and all of the other details along the way.

But Dee Cunniffe is as much the star of Crossover as Geoff Shaw is. I’ve read a number of excellent comics colored by Cunniffe, but honestly I’m not sure any of them prepared me for the work that Cunniffe does in this issue. Shaw clearly distinguishes between the regular world and the superhero world, but it's Cunniffe's colors that really make all of this happen. In the everyday world, Cunniffe uses a somewhat muted color palate. It's fully colored, but there's nothing too bright. But when the crossover event happens, well, you can see for yourself. The "blinding light" effect below is just stunning and really captures the awe and terror of what is effectively an atomic bomb going off. And the effect of someone being vaporized is just terrifying. 

Once the superhero bubble finally does appear (in the above spread), the color contrast is just staggering. About 5 years ago I was in Seattle (for Emerald City Comic Con, a great convention) and I went to the top of the Space Needle. Seattle is a beautiful city, and it's surrounded by stunning vistas - Puget Sound, and gorgeous mountains. But then there's Mount Rainier. So, the mountains near Seattle are already huge and impressive, but Rainier dwarfs them. From what I recall, there was a color change and a layer of cloud near the top of Rainier. The total effect of it was staggering - I felt like I was looking at Mount Olympus floating above the other mountains, or just something that should not exist in reality. Something that your mind can't really fathom and struggles to make sense of.  I mention this story because the effect of the colors by Cunniffe in the above double-page spread brings to mind that same sense that I'm looking first at reality, and then at something that has made it's way into our reality that should not be there. That is masterful coloring work. 

Not every page of the issue is quite so dramatic, but every page is full of amazing attention to detail in the colors. In the scenes that show something from the world of superheroes, the art team makes great use of pixellation and other comic effects to really emphasize the colliding worlds. And Elle really stands out as well. In a sea of muted colors, her coat and domino mask and hair all stand out as being something that doesn't quite fit in the world.  Every aspect of the comic is filled with thoughtful details, from the strong lettering to the overall look and feel and design of the book. It's all excellent and feels cohesive.

There's so much happening in this debut issue of Crossover, and the comic is just bursting with ideas (in the same way that the extraordinary artwork from Shaw and Cunniffe burst off of the page).  First, let me reassure you and tell you what I do not think this comic is about: I don't think this is intended to be any sort of Watchmen-style deconstruction of the superhero genre. This isn't a story about the world of superheroes; this is a story about us. Our relationship to fiction, our relationship to problems and fear, and ultimately our relationship to each other.  But, you know, there's also superheroes involved. 

The first thing that jumped out at me in reading Crossover was the giant metaphor that's staring the reader in the face (see the incredible double-page spread above).  In Crossover, the world of superheroes literally explodes into our own world, attempting to overwrite our own world to some extent, and obliterating anything in its path. This crossover bubble is a seemingly unstoppable force with existential ramifications for our world.  As metaphors go, it's not a subtle one. Superheroes (and more broadly, corporate intellectual property like Star Wars) are inescapable. At least back when one could go to the movies safely, superhero movies completely dominated the box office (Avengers: Endgame made $2 billion, and I personally saw it like 6 times in the theater, so I contributed to that). I can't speak to the details, but you don't have to be a film industry insider to know that there have been more big franchise movies in recent years, because those are the only movies that seem to reliably do well at the box office. The popularity and critical acclaim of Watchmen and The Boys seem to indicate people continue to have an appetite for these stories, whether your story is a deep-dive into racism in America, or a cynical look at our own society through the lens of superheroes-as-celebrities. Genre IP reigns supreme, and has bulldozed right over the sorts of movies they don't make anymore. 

But the inciting incident in Crossover isn't just a benign occurrence. As the comic itself suggests, these fictional characters are more real and lasting than we are. The appearance of superheroes in Crossover does a tremendous amount of damage and harm in the world of the story.  I think this is a pretty clever idea and metaphor, as the event in this comic serves as a very striking metaphor for the ways in which people's feelings about fictional character and stories has a very real impact on all of our lives. I think about the levels of devotion that fans of a particular TV show or movie or superhero have for those characters.  Doctor Who and Star Wars may be fictional, but the feelings that people for those stories and the impact those stories have on people's lives is very real. Fandom in popular culture seems to have taken over the place that religion used to occupy for many people. There are still plenty of people who are members of various religious groups, but for a lot of people, the question of "What Would Batman Do" is a lot more relevant than however Jesus or Moses might handle a particular situation. 

So fandom for various corporate IP franchises has seemingly overtaken our society. But again, in Crossover the appearance of superheroes is *not* a benign occurrence. I think the creative team is very much saying something about real-world fans and fandom by this event. Much like religion, ethnicity, and other differences have inspired devotion and loyalty, they've also inspired equally strong negative feelings.  Towards those who don't share your love for something, and for those who feel like their opinion on that franchise (whether it's Star Wars, Superman, or something else) is the one and only true way to love and appreciate that that particular thing. I'm of course talking about how very easily fandom turns into toxic fandom.  

People love video games and comics, but the love of those things very easily and quickly turns into movements of people who harass and do and say terrible things to anyone who doesn't think how they think, or doesn't fit those people's idea of what a fan should be.  Or people become so entrenched in arguments that they can't see past their own narrow point of view, and they decide that their interpretation of a character is the one and only true interpretation. Whether it's the #SnyderCut people, or the astronomical levels of vitriol going in all sorts of directions in Star Wars fandom, people's feelings about fictional characters have real-world, tangible, harmful consequences.  Honestly, I've loved Star Wars since I was a kid, and the past few years of Star Wars fandom have made me occasionally feel like not only do I kind of hate Star Wars, but I might also come to hate the entire idea of fandom generally.  I can't even begin to list the number of times that I've seen people act in horrific, cruel, harassing behavior towards the creators of comic books and other media, or actors or other people involved in the creation of corporate IP.  I've thought about a quote people share, about how some fans treat fictional people like they're real and real people like they're fictional.  So the Crossover team is very much on to something. 

But I think the story in Crossover isn't just a critique of fandom. It's also a metaphor for crises and disasters generally, and the ways in which people respond to them. It seems like in the world of Crossover, people (like Ellie) who like and embrace superheroes are vilified and identified as dangerous and subversive.  It's pretty similar to the ways in which Americans reacted after the events of 9/11. Those terrorist actions were carried out by radical fanatics, but Muslims (or anyone who happened to look or seem like they might be Muslim) were targeted in our country. Here, Ellie clearly isn't an actual superhero from another universe, but she happens to love and believe in them (in the ways that most practitioners of religion simply love and believe in their religion and get something out of it), but someone calls her a traitor and throws a bottle at her, because she's dressed in cosplay.  They aren't subtle metaphors, but they're very effective. 

But this is the natural consequence when something terrible and unpredictable happens, right? Some people look for answers, and some people look for a larger meaning, and other people look for someone to blame. Thus far, Crossover has given us no hint at all as to what caused all of the various fictional characters to explode into our reality.  Random accident?  Or did our obsession with these characters somehow will them all into existence?  Perhaps future issues will shed some light on these questions. But what I take from this is the various ways that people try to make sense of a world that doesn't make sense.  This feels very true for the moment we are living in (except for the fact that the current state of our country and its reaction to COVID was not inexplicable and unpredictable).

But in the world of Crossover, Ellie is undaunted, and in her we can see one of the ways that people respond when who they are or what they believe in is vilified or punished. She hasn't given up on superheroes (even though she was separated from her parents inside the crossover event and presumably hasn't seen them in years). In fact, it seems like the crossover event has only strengthened her love for those stories - perhaps not so much for the heroes themselves, but for what she gets out of them, and also for the sense of community and belonging that she gets from being part of a group, regardless of whether it's a marginalized group. The terrible things that have happened to her and others has not dimmed her faith, but rather have inspired her to seek comfort and belonging in community with those who love the things she loves. Her sense of identity and self is still very much wrapped up in superheroes; wearing their clothes and reading their books still seems to bring her some amount of meaning and comfort. In fact, she refers to her cosplay as armor. So for her, regardless of tragedy, the things that superheroes stand for continue to serve as symbols of strength and hope (certainly an apt metaphor for the ways that people find hope and meaning in troubled times).

Crossover immediately sets the scale and scope of this story. It's a meta-story about our relationship to fiction, but it's also the story of a giant cataclysm and the way that our society responds to terrible things happening. And it's also a personal story about people on different sides of a divide and the ways in which huge events have consequences from the macro (i.e., society) down to the micro (i.e., people's jobs and livelihoods and interpersonal relationships).  The story of Noah is just the story of a guy who builds a boat but is also a tale of the destruction and rebirth of humanity; similarly, Crossover, from the very beginning, feels like it has the heft of a story that's at once intimate and vast. The end of the first issue teases some exciting developments, and I'm so looking forward to seeing where this story goes. With stunning, explosive art, and a story that's full of huge ideas, the possibility and potential for Crossover feels huge.

November 3, 2020

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Separating Non-Fiction From Fiction in The Recount #1


It somehow seems immoral to hype up a comic that glorifies a premise centering around complete chaos, but then I look around and realize we are pretty much already there and any reservation for morality was gone a long time ago. Any self-righteous aspiration toward complete morality through by way of partisan power hasn’t exactly gone to the full extent that writer, Jonathan Hedrick, artist Gabriel Ibarra and the rest of the creative team sum up our country to be. Though they do so in an equally as unsettling place nonetheless. 

Scout Comics will be debuting The Recount one week after an election during the most devastatingly divided period America has seen since the Civil War. Reasons for being on one side or the other range as far apart as they possibly could, with only their unwillingness to consider an opposing perspective serving as the lonely commonality. Regardless of however true your personal place in this debate may be, it remains true that sometimes we humans do suffer from periodic moments of disenfranchised superiority. But then there are also people that are just inherently evil. Those people are the kindling. Those people are the fire starters. Those people have found solace in the leadership that our country has had during the last four years. The incumbent president once infamously said that there are good people on both sides, but what Hedrick and company seem to be exploring in The Recount is that those of which we so carelessly derided as good people are some small part in a large process that could bring upon the fall of the system of democracy as we know it. This is done in exact precision with blatant, and unreserved stereotypes within the who’s-who in the battle between good and evil as the system of American democracy begins to have its final fall.

The story begins in The Recount with a President standing before a large crowd. He is carefully, and directly addressing them with a speech with what seems to be shortly after an impeachment process brought upon him. Moments later, without getting past the first couple pages, an assassination attempt proves successful and chaos ensues. These frightful moments of entry into a story reminded me quite quickly of the first 3 minutes of the fifth season of Twenty-Four as President Palmer was assassinated without warning which led to immediate, and loud “WTF’s” as my watch party from 2006 all looked at each other in disbelief. Just as those moments were brief but suddenly traumatic, so were these first pages of The Recount. The remainder of the issue continues a narrative with the as-to-be-expected protocols that would be when Vice President is sworn into office after such events. 

Since a member of the Secret Service just assassinated the President and now a group of conspirators who call themselves THE MASSES have sworn to kill anyone who helped elect him, the Vice President suddenly has a lot to worry about. Without giving away too much of what happens thereafter, and without understanding exactly how the creative team will be able to keep the distinction of fiction recognizable from the non-fiction, I will assure you that if you happen to be the type who hoists a flag (..or 3) from the back of your pickup truck as you find yourself part of a pack of a hyper-patriotic type surrounding the campaign bus of a presidential challenger then this comic is probably going to piss you right off. And, frankly, I kind of think that is the point. That said, as soon as the Vice President is sworn into office she (yes.. SHE!) begins her rounds of justifiable outrage toward the situation. Why did this happen? How did this happen? Who can she trust? Is she going to be next? Members of the Secret Service and associates surround her with reassurance but nothing will prepare reader for what comes next before the final pages of this spine-shivering first issue.

Division in America, division in community, and division in family; all of this is happening in our current non-fiction. The Recount uses non-fiction to drive a fictional story about division as a movement. To a certain extent it feels irresponsible to tell a story like this and entertain such awful events, but on the other hand it heeds warning to what is to come next if we don’t act now. Some people tweet their frustrations, others spread awareness with sharing articles, then there are those who head to the streets and take part in protests to get their voice heard. Art and the creative outlet of storytelling is also a tool used to bring change. The Recount may not seem like a protest comic because it literally gives value to the movement that is hatred and division, but beneath all of that is the warning that this fiction can be avoided so long as we try.

Now, let’s take moment and talk about art here. Gabriel Ibarra does an incredible job in making this lived in world feel real. He builds the world so that we as readers blur the line between what we are reading and what we are living. Writing that sentence reminds me how awful things have become to even be considered as being confused with this story. Colorist, Sunil Ghargre, adds to the depth in the world that Ibarra brings to life. The layouts and the sequencing of story that these two create add an element here that brings horror to an already scary situation. This is a horror story that barely missed Halloween but is just in time for the climax of the election season. 

Many things can be said about lettering in a comic book. As mundane and trivial as that statement might seem, I urge you to find me offline and I’ll give you some recommendations of some wretchedly awful lettering designs that make a comic near impossible to read. Not only does Cristian Docolomansky make this uncomfortable subject matter easy to read, but he also nearly gives words a sense of character themselves. The art of lettering is one that often gets overlooked but should definitely get more attention when discussing what works and what doesn’t. Here in The Recount it feels we have a creative team who understands the importance of a complete package and the resulting presentation is one to take notice of.

I can already hear many of you tapping your toes looking for the next moment to exit this recommendation. I sense that you are questioning why I would waste my time hyping a comic that forces us to reflect on the worst aspects of society. I also remember my telling you that it was my questioning of my own morals when I felt the need to spend time with this book at all. The reason is very simple actually. Our non-fictional lives have become so enthralled in our own existence that if not careful we will ultimately find ourselves in a future version of ourselves that is not far off from the fictional story here in The Recount. On the surface this is a gripping political thriller in all aspects of the sub-genre, but beneath it all I really do believe that this book is a warning; a red flag hoisted high in the air, not from the back of our pick-ups, but instead from the pages of this comic. Engage. React. Vote. But above all else, be kind.

The Recount #1
(Out November 11th)
writer: Jonathan Hedrick
line artist: Gabriel Elias Ibarra Nunez
color artist: Sunil Ghagre
letterer: Cristian Docolomansky
publisher: Scout Comics
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Catch It at the Comic Shop November 4th, 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:

Undone by Blood: The Shadow of a Wanted Man vol. 1, by Lonnie Nadler, Zac Thompson, Sami Kivela, Jason Wordie, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, published by Aftershock Comics

October 30, 2020

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Dracula Motherf**ker

Dracula, Motherf**ker!
Written by Alex De Campi
Illustrated by Erica Henderson
Published by Image Comics

“All things must end”, so says the narrative in the beginning moments of Erica Henderson and Alex de Campi’s Dracula story put out by Image Comics earlier this month officially titled Dracula, Motherf**ker! The year is 1889, the place is Vienna, Austria and Dracula is seemingly being put to rest, buried, amidst a coffin so that the death that precedes him could be brought to an end. Turn the page, fast forward, and it is 1974 Los Angeles. Somehow I no longer think the end to the proverbial thing that was just mentioned will be so easy to nail down. 

October 29, 2020

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Building A Hellblazer For Today— a review of John Constantine Hellblazer Volume 1: Marks of Woe

Art by Aaron Campbell

John Constantine walks between worlds. That has always been his gift and his curse but it’s also been a burden placed on the fictional character, especially when you just take a moment to think that he had a peripheral role in Crisis on Infinite Earths before Vertigo was a twinkle in anyone’s eyes. That’s just a weird thing that is a part of this character’s history. And then he was a Vertigo mainstay for nearly 30 years and now has fit uneasily into the current DCU, fulfilling the role of that universe’s foolish mage for a while now, a role that the character himself has never felt that comfortable with as he rubs shoulders with Superman and Wonder Woman. Sure, his roots go back to existing side by side with Swamp Thing and Batman but in the Vertigo years, Jamie Delano, Garth Ennis, Peter Milligan, and so many other writers and artists worked to divorce Constantine from those roots, allowing the character to stand on his own. So seeing him pal around with the Justice League just feels wrong, like he’s living his own worst nightmares.

In John Constantine: Hellblazer Volume 1: Marks of Woe, writer Simon Spurrier’s John Constantine continues to walk between the various worlds. But rather than trying to reject one meta-narrative or another, Spurrier synthesizes the many roles of John Constantine, turning that bridging of worlds into a part of the character, almost like one of Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champions. Why shouldn’t Constantine be a multiversal figure, fighting alongside Detective Chimp one day and then trying to soothe a troubled soul in a London hospital the next? In the opening chapters of this book that tie into DC’s attempt to wring a few more dollars out of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and related properties, among them Vertigo and Constantine himself, Spurrier finds that bridge for this character. Call it a superpower or call it a “sensorially” disassociation” as they do in the psychiatric hospital that he wakes up in after the most strange of mystical encounters, it’s probably all the same thing in the end.

Art by Aaron Campbell

The worlds that Constantine travels through are full of all kinds of things that live in the shadows. Powerful evil mages, angels that prey on junkies looking for a fix, shit sprites, and ghosts that walk through hospital corridors, these are just things that go bump in the night. Once this book moves past the rigamarole of re-orienting the character in a post-Vertigo/New 52 world, Spurrier and artists Aaron Campbell and Matías Bergara embrace those shadows and dark things. Like the best Hellblazer creators of the past, they guide us to these corners of the world that the civilized folk don’t like to talk about, let alone acknowledge exist. It’s that punk characteristics behind the character, that anger at the world as it is, that is so dangerous.

So this version of Hellblazer embraces the title’s original roots set by Jamie Delano and John Ridgway, creating urban noir horror with Constantine filling the role as a reluctant detective. Spurrier’s Constantine lives this life not because he chooses to or that he feels it’s his duty to but because it’s the only thing he’s ever known. He’s been missing from this London for a bit, whether it’s because of the whole multiverse thing or because he’s been in the hospital (probably a bit of both,) but he slides back into his life a bit too comfortably for what it is. Before too long, he’s pulled into a mystery about drug dealers who imagine themselves as some kind of mystical shaman, deadly angels, William Blake, and a Brexit-era London. Spurrier and Campbell bring Constantine into an all-too-real world where you believe that these kinds of horrors could exist. It’s easy to acknowledge the ugliness of souls that look at people from other backgrounds as lesser beings so why not believe in the angels and demons that exist at night.

Art by Matías Bergara

But Constantine is not some kind of creature only of the night so it’s fun to see how Aaron Campbell and Matías Bergara play off of each. Campbell draws the chapters where the night appears to hold many secrets while Bergara depicts the daytime when Constantine can attempt to wear a proper suit and blend in with the normal people as much as he can (that is until the shit sprites show up.) There is almost nothing stylistically that ties these two artists together as even colorist Jordie Bellaire adapts different methods of applying her hues over their work. Campbell calls back to those original Ridgway stories from the earliest Hellblazer comics, with his dark and moody art that hides much more than it shows. Bergara is much more open and broad in his drawings, capturing a psychological drama as opposed to Campbell’s horror that’s pulled out of the environment. They are so different but Spurrier gives both artists stories that allow them to craft their own kind of shadows and horrors.

Those horrors come together in the background as Spurrier, Campbell, and Bergara lay the groundwork for the big bad of this story. As Constantine has already made deals with devils and demons, there’s only one creature left that he shouldn’t trust but has to barter his soul with to save his life. Telling anymore of that creature's identity would be giving too much of it away but let’s just say that it plays around a bit with the idea of Constantine being a multiversal constant in this chaotic existence. For a rogue like Constantine, he now has to deal with someone who knows all of his tricks and schemes, setting him always a few steps behind his enemy. It’s a puzzle Spurrier sets up, a meta riddle that envelops these other narrative riddles happening in London.

The best John Constantine stories are a reflection of their times and that’s a challenge that Spurrier takes on. There are three levels to these stories that should send shivers down your spine. On the surface, there’s the obvious horror, again those things that go bump in the night. These are the more obvious (but no less terrifying) frights that make you look under your bed at night or throw salt over your shoulder to stave off the monsters. Then there’s Constantine himself, a man you maybe could picture sharing a pint with but don’t let him get you into a situation where he needs to use you. Good things don’t happen to the people that Constantine uses. Seeing the fates (yes, plural) of Chas, his longtime friend and driver, are painful reminders of the ways that Constantine uses people without regard for them. He may raise a glass to you afterward but there will be reasons that you’re not there to share them with him.

And then there are the ways that Spurrier sneaks in these ugly reminders of the hatred that exists in people that lead them to do terrible things. These things hide behind and drive the monsters and demons. Confronting this real-world bigotry, racism, and hatred has Constantine fighting a different kind of evil. It’s an evil that exists in mankind that fancy magic and parlor tricks are powerless against. There’s always been that kind of tension in Hellblazer, finding a balance between the corruption of reality and the corruption of the human condition playing off of contemporary events. Spurrier recontextualizes that conflict to reflect current racial and national tensions. It sets up these stories against a background that resonates with what we’re dealing with in the here and now.

John Constantine: Hellblazer Volume One- Marks of Woe
Written by Simon Spurrier (with Kat Howard
Drawn by Aaron Campbell, Matías Bergara, Marcia Takara, Tom Fowler, Craig Taillefer
Colored by Jordie Bellaire, Cris Peter, Jordan Boyd
Lettered by Aditya Bidikar, Todd Klein
Published by DC Comics Black Label

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Quick Hit: The Dollhouse Family by M.R. Carey and Peter Gross

The Dollhouse Family
Written by M.R. Carey
Art by Peter Gross with finishes by Vince Locke
Colors by Cris Peter
Published by DC Comics/Black Label/Hill House

Dolls are creepy and terrifying. So, if a story is called The Dollhouse Family, I'm already freaked out before I've even read the book. But the great news is, this is a good creepy read, but it's also about a lot more than just scares. It's scary and unsettling, but also funny (at points), dramatic, and sweet (from time to time). M.R. Carey and Peter Gross are master storytellers, and they bring a weird and wonderfully creepy story to life. If you've been missing classic DC Vertigo stories, you'll absolutely love The Dollhouse Family

October 28, 2020

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There Is Music Even in Torment - A Look at Blue in Green


Blue in Green is the latest offering from the core creative team that brought us Grafity's Wall - Ram V, Anand RK, and Aditya Bidikar. Set with the New York jazz scene as a backdrop, Blue in Green is an exploration of specific type of loss, namely the loss of the unknown and the mysteries of the past. 

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Mecha-Worship in Giga 1 by Alex Paknadel and John Le

I truly enjoy books that are about what they’re about, i.e. pieces of metafiction that examine their genre or archetypes. Giga, consequently, is a mecha book that is about mecha books, a meta-mecha as it were. Recently, Vault announced that they would be filling 28,000 pre-orders for the first issue. Since I wasn’t able to write about the debut issue before the FOC, I thought it would be interesting to explore it in light of that awesome pre-sale number. 

October 27, 2020

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The Sleep Stories of Michael Walsh



'Tis the season for goblins, ghouls, bats, and scarecrows. 


The time of year where nightmares are brought to life as they imitate the waking life so closely so that the snores become indistinguishable from the screams.


There is a small space on the internet bookmarked for the nightmares brought to life from the multi-talented, Eisner-winning comic book writer and illustrator, Michael Walsh. 


That corner is full of hauntingly nightmarish short stories that are disturbing, yet beautifully drawn. 


Stories of the inner monster, or of the closet dweller, and the one who lurks in the shadows, in addition to the faint noises you hear in the distance just soft enough to make you question it's noise at all.


With an awful lot to be afraid of in real life these days, follow me as I give Walsh the keys to the car and let him steer our thoughts for a moment. 


For in the spirit of the season it makes no less sense to put ourselves on a fictitious path toward an ominous last breath than it does to set the stage to do the same for others. 


String those lights. Tangle that web. Stake down that zombie. Pour out the candy. Queue up the tunes. Dim down those lights. When all is said and done, you have one last person to ensure gets a good scream this year. 


Michael Walsh and his prodigiously eerie sleep stories have us all more than covered. Log in. Start your dream. Freak the eff out. Then, if able, or are inclined to, consider providing donations to keep the nightmares rolling.

Start your dream here >>> ZZzzzZZ


            TAK! TAK!
                                                                TAK! TAK!

                                                                                                                                TAK TAK!




Sleep Stories
by Michael Walsh

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Catch It at the Comic Shop October 28th, 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:


Blue in Green OGN by Ram V, Anand RK, John Pearson & Aditya Bidikar, published by Image Comics

Blue in Green is one of the best, most engaging things I've read all year, full stop. It's storytelling at the highest level. It’s a stunning, freaky, fantastic story of pain, loss, legacy and generational trauma. The creative team weaves a story here that exists in a dreamlike space where you don't know if some of the things in the story are actually happening, and that's ok. We are all just along for the ride. Every aspect of the story is top notch. Ram V has an ear for dialogue and narration. He knows how to keep things moving, and the dialogue feels true to life. And Anand RK is an incredible illustrator. This is weird, scratchy, mesmerizing work. I very much enjoyed his prior collaboration with Ram in Grafity's Wall, but there's nothing in that book that would have prepared me for the work here. He and colorist John Pearson combine for an explosive, weird, incredibly powerful story with work that reminds me of classic Bill Sienkiewicz, but still very much its own thing. And talented letterer Aditya Bidikar brings his A-game to this story as well, as the lettering here is hand-lettered, and detailed and sometimes scary or unsettling or sad, but incredibly additive and very much part of the story. Lastly, this book is brought together by the impeccable design sensibilities of Tom Muller, who brings a 60's Jazz feel to the book (which is entirely appropriate), and makes the book feel both new and old at the same time. It's impeccable design work from the very best (and whose involvement in a project is usually an indicator of high quality). Basically, I'm saying you need to pick up Blue in Green. It's weird and scary and emotional and a must-read.

October 26, 2020

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The Existential Horror of the Vacuum Decay

I don’t care if the better part of the last several months has been a dumpster fire embodiment of a living calendar year, I will not allow it to ruin the holidays — and the holidays start with a scream. It is now time for the skeletons to come out of our closet and put out on display so that the neighbors’ kids can shake hands with them when time comes to knock on our door for handfuls of candy after dusk on the day that is the eventual all hallow’s eve. What better way to attempt to scare those passersby as they entertain the irony of skeletons hanging in vertical fashion symbolizing suburban secrets and disguised as home decor.

October 22, 2020

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"There Is No Difference Between Plagiarism and Art" - A Look at A Dark Interlude 1

Ryan O’Sullivan and Andrea Mutti return to the world of the Fearscape with A Dark Interlude to further explore the implications and events of the first series. Fundamentally an examination of the role of literature within our society, A Dark Interlude expands upon the themes of the original series and seizes upon some of the deeper metaphysical implications of its predecessor title. If you've yet to encounter Fearscape, I'm offering a spoiler warning now. I'll try to avoid specific spoilers, but we can't talk about A Dark Interlude without some broader assessment of Fearscape as the first step on this journey.

October 21, 2020

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Review - Something Is Killing The Children by James Tynion IV and Werther Dell'Edera

Something Is Killing The Children
Written by James Tynion IV
Illustrated by Werther Dell'Edera
Colors by Miquel Muerto
Letters by Andworld Design
Published by Boom! Studios
Something Is Killing The Children (SIKTC for short) is a great, terrifying read that works on a number of different levels and feels especially suited for the world we're living in right now. That's not intended to make you run in the other direction, but simply an acknowledgement that SIKTC is not a light, easy read.  It's about fear and terror and abandonment, and feeling alone and misunderstood, and it's also about the feeling that no one's in charge and there's no one to keep us safe. But it's also about giant monsters and an incredibly badass monster-hunter! And, told skillfully by writer James Tynion IV, artist Werther Dell'Edera and colorist Miquel Muerto, SIKTC is a stunning, freaky read. It does what great speculative or genre fiction can do, which is to shine a light on our world with enough distance to give us an enjoyable story, but close enough to our lives to make us feel uncomfortable (in a good way). SIKTC is a must-read for horror fans.