March 23, 2018

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"Done With Earth"- a review of Gabriel Hardman, Corinna Bechko & Jordan Boyd's Green Lantern: Earth One Volume One


For a large chunk of Green Lantern: Earth One Volume One, Harold Jordan is a passive participant in his own adventures. Hardman and Bechko begin with a Harold Jordan (“Harold” or “Jordan,” never “Hal”) who has already had his chance to be a hero but was used by the system instead. Now he’s running from his problems. Once part of an idealistic NASA, Jordan now spends his days on dead worlds as a scavenger, avoiding the world of life and people for rock and vacuum. There are hints of a greater story here and Hardman and Bechko use those hints sparingly, just enough to keep Jordan’s trials interesting without making Jordan himself an interesting character. While Hardman and Bechko craft an excellently told story, it’s almost in spite of their main character rather than because of him. Instead of focusing on the character of Harold Jordan, exploring any kind of inner turmoil he may face, they concentrate on the universe that’s being opened up to him and his own diminishing numbness to it.

Hardman has a movie director’s eye when it comes to laying out a story. With Jordan Boyd on colors, Hardman and Boyd work to establish each panel and scene as the moment it occurs in. Hardman’s instinctive sense of finding these moments weaves them together in a textured way. From the coldness of space to the verdant heat of the power of the Lanterns, Hardman's cinematic eye finds the moments of introspection and spectacle that gives the book its heart. Hardman and Bechko explore the question of what does it mean to have power. The ring is one kind of power but others are influence, subjugation, and deception. Those types of power are what Jordan struggles against and the story is laid out to give each kind its moment of display without ever having to come out and explicitly set up the villains as influential, overpowering, or deceptive.

This book is full of all kinds of wonders as mankind, in the form of Jordan, makes multiple first contacts but in a lot of ways, the creators tone down the sense of wonder as they make the story more about survival. The massive Kilowog is introduced in these pages, partly as a sidekick and partly as a guide for Jordan. But Kilowog himself is a Green Lantern who’s merely just tolerated on his planet. He’s practically humored to imagine himself a hero while his planet’s military does the real work of protecting their world against the robotic Manhunters. These Green Lanterns aren’t the heroes of the galaxy; they’re the crazy men and women of it who think their barely functioning rings are the badges of hope.

That’s the story of the Green Lanterns but it’s barely Jordan’s story. As the newbie, he has no idealism about his place in the galaxy. While they establish that Jordan is running from something and slowly reveal what throughout the book, Hardman and Bechko subtly form this portrait of their Harold Jordan, a man who’s been betrayed by one organization so he’s more willing to isolate himself from mankind rather than engage with a system that’s treated him so wrong. Becoming a Green Lantern isn’t an origin story for Jordan but it’s more of an awakening as he discovers something else to believe in.

Hardman and Bechko slowly build up Jordan panel after panel, page after page. Jordan’s story works on many levels, some obvious and others less so. Going back to Hardman’s directorial eye, he and Bechko create the kind of science fiction superhero movie that it seems like we’re never going to actually see on the big screen. Their shaping of the story owes as much to Ridley Scott and Christopher Nolan as it does to John Broome and Gil Kane. And they do it in a way that’s faithful to their version of Jordan. This isn’t the cocky flyboy Green Lantern who’s always ready to tell you how great he is. This is a man who has preferred to run from his problems, hiding from himself as much as he is the circumstances of his life. In that way, Hardman and Bechko allow the story to reveal the character rather than letting him tell us who he is.

Green Lantern: Earth One Volume One is a tale of hope in believing in something, maybe of believing in anything. Jordan is lost at the start of this book and it takes little green men and magical power rings to snap him out of it. Carrying around the baggage of his past, discovering the universe provides a change of scope and priority for Jordan. Hardman and Bechko give us a story of a man who was used to believing in something once upon a time and now he discovers something else to put his faith into. Unfortunately, he may be substituting one betrayal for another but that seems to be a story for another time.

Green Lantern: Earth One Volume One
Written by Gabriel Hardman & Corinna Bechko
Drawn by Gabriel Hardman
Colored by Jordan Boyd
Lettered by Simon Bowland
Published by DC Comics

March 21, 2018

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Catch It at the Comic Shop March 21, 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...

Scott's Picks:

Aliens: Dead Orbit by James Stokoe, published by Dark Horse.
Stokoe's Alien story heavily homages the 1979 Ridley Scott film, creating a haunted-house-in-space story where the xenomorph is a force of nature.  Stokoe's maddening artwork captures the claustrophobic dread of the original film, reminding us of why we fell in love with this creature in the first place.

March 19, 2018

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An Interview with Ron Randall of Trekker

Ron at Emerald City Comic Con
Ron Randall is a longtime friend of the site, and there's a good chance he's worked on one of your favorite Marvel or DC characters, even if you didn't realize it at the time. A member of Helioscope, a collective of some of the best creators in all of comics, Ron was among the first to do creator-owned work at Dark Horse Comics, with a series called Trekker.

Before we get to the interview, a few things to note. Trekker is the story of Mercy St. Clair, a bounty hunter in a sci-fi world that's spread out across worlds and has the feel of the same kind of noir that you think of when you envision Cowboy Bepop or Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. There's battles and gunplay and plenty of action, as Mercy tries to keep herself upright--and in enough bounties to survive. It's a very fun romp, but as you move deeper into the series, there's things you notice that take the world in some moral gray areas. Mercy may want to stay out of the fray, but as you'll see (or maybe you know already!), she'll be forced to re-examine her world view.

March 16, 2018

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Respect, Dignity and Keeping the Barbarians at the Gate- a review of Grass Kings Volume One by Kindt & Jenkins

At first glance, Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins’ book Grass Kings Volume One appears to be a simple anti-establishment story about a group of people trying to protect their home and their family from the outside world. The us-versus-them mentality almost seems like a noble pursuit in the current political and social climate where the establishment is becoming twisted and malformed. This collective, the Grass Kingdom, is made up of a small group of isolationists living on the shores of a lake. They don’t align themselves in any way with the town around them, its leaders or their laws. The three brothers who represent the law, the leadership and the optimistic spirit of the Grass Kingdom are Bruce, Robert, and Ashur. Trying to hold this ramshackle society together, these brothers have to struggle with their own ghosts as well as the outside world that’s trying to claim the kingdom as its own.

In creating this Grass Kingdom, Kindt and Jenkins have created a commune that’s potentially somewhere on the spectrum along with Ruby Ridge and Waco. Call the people who follow Robert’s lead cultists, survivalists, or even Americans, their struggle is about how this little kingdom survives when its own leaders have lost their way. Robert sits in his shack, mourning a daughter who is either missing or dead. Bruce is the village’s sheriff but that seems more self-appointed than anything official and he’s the one who is holding the collective together. These two older brothers seem to realize who and what they are while Ashur is still rather young and may still reflect some of the innocence and idealism of this group.

While Ashur may be innocent, the land around him is far from that. Kindt and Jenkins show how this land has held its inhabitants in a violent sway for centuries. Since the time of the Native Americans, the creators show the spirit of the land through the ugly nature of the people who live on it. While Bruce, Robert, and Ashur’s story is very contemporary, Kindt and Jenkins show centuries of ugliness, violence, and sin that has pervaded the atmosphere of this area. This ugly spirit of the area is historical and while they do anything but demonize their main characters, Kindt and Jenkins don’t want you to forget that there’s a malevolent spirit that hangs over the characters of this story. As if the threat of outside forces taking their way of life away from them wasn’t enough, there’s the lingering notion that the Grass Kingdom may be knowingly or unknowingly harboring a serial killer. The threats against this small collective are both external and internal.

Similar to Kindt’s work in Dept. H or Mind MGMT, there’s an imprecision in Jenkins’ artwork that helps define the story. Coloring it with watercolors, Jenkins illuminates the story in a natural sun or moonlight. There’s a naturalism achieved in the artwork, both in the settings and the characters. This rustic, natural art creates a romantic dreaminess that runs tonally contrarian to the story that Jenkins is actually drawing. It’s this narrative struggle that exists both in the artwork and the writing, where you want to like these characters and their stories but there’s really this text of a moral ugliness that seems inescapable. Jenkins’ artwork is impressionistic enough to allow clarity in the plot but ambiguity in the motivations of his characters.

The push and pull of the moral high ground in this book paints a picture not of good versus evil but of egos and desires clashing. Kindt and Jenkins obviously hold Robert, Bruce, and Ashur up as the protagonists of this book but they’re anything but heroes. They’re men but so are the people that they’re fighting. It’s an honesty in the storytelling that Kindt and Jenkins are doing that everyone is conflicted and compromised in some way. These compromises are made every day and threaten to undo everything that’s been built in this lakeside community.  Grass Kings Volume One shows the cracks in this kingdom and in our own views of our lives, turning our solid foundations into unsteady rocks.

Written by Matt Kindt
Drawn by Tyler Jenkins
Lettered by Jim Campbell
Published by Boom Studios

March 13, 2018

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Catch It at the Comic Shop March 14, 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:

Cold War #2 by Chris Sebela and Hayden Sherman, published by Aftershock
I picked up issue one from Chris at ECCC and I liked it a lot, but that's no surprise given how much I like Sebela's work, especially his indie stuff. This one involves people who were (are?) frozen, only to be revived and dumped in the middle of a strange war, with no idea of anything other than survival. It's all very mysterious, which is cool, and Sherman's linework fits the theme perfectly, with a little bit of a Miller-Janson vibe in terms of being angular and flat, but still able to tell a story. His varied, muddied colors also keep everything feeling off-beat and not quite real. I don't know what's going on, but I'm looking forward to reading more this week.

March 7, 2018

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Kickstarter Interview - Kugali

Kugali are a collective that specialise in African comics. By selecting creators from all over the continent, they aim to show the rest of the world the diversity and the culture that so many people remain unaware of. Beginning as a site that aims to collate existing comics from the continent, co-creators Ziki Nelson and Tolu Olowofoyeku are taking to Kickstarter to fundraise for the first issue of their eponymously named book: The Kugali Anthology. We were lucky enough to sit down with them and they told us exactly why you what they're doing is worth your money.

Panel Patter: We are a site that primarily reviews and discusses Western comics. For readers who primarily consume Western entertainment, what would be your pitch to draw them into Kugali?

Ziki: In the US and in the UK, even though people are used to reading DC and Marvel - your Dark Horse and your Image and even get some indie comics - there is also a lot of interest in Japanese manga which is very different to what we have in the West. In the East there’s Manga, in the West there’s American comics and so in Africa we have Kugali.

Tolu: African storytelling is very different to anything else out there. The same way that right now - I don’t know if you guys watch Indian movies over there - but Indian movies have a very different feel from Hollywood movies. In that same way, Nollywood movies have a different feel from Chinese movies, so it’s not like it’s "like this one but better"; we aren't saying that it’s like American comics but better. It’s just so different that it’s a totally unique experience for people that are only used to one particular kind of comic.

Panel Patter: So you’re saying that it will give them some variation and different approaches to storytelling that they’ve not seen before. 

Ziki: Exactly. However, I will also say that a lot of the comics featured in the anthology do draw some inspiration from both Japanese manga and Western comics so it’s a combination of what’s familiar combined with a touch of African culture to create something new.

Panel Patter: Do you have any examples of which parts of it come from which culture?

Ziki: For example, Kayin & Abeni drew a lot of inspiration from Hellboy in terms of the art style, by Mike Mignola, so if you’re a Mignola fan then you’ll see a clear influence there. 

Mumu Juju draws a lot of inspiration from Japanese manga in terms of the storytelling structure - it doesn't take itself too seriously. There are a lot of really cleanly illustrated panels, but then others are really simply drawn and it mimics that Japanese Chibi illustration technique.

Panel Patter: So you’ve said that you draw inspiration from cultures outside of Africa. Do all of the characters in this anthology draw from existing African mythologies or are some original creations?

Ziki: It’s a mixture. Off the top of my head, more or less all of the stories are at least inspired by various African cultures. 

For example, Under a Jovian Sun is set in Morocco and it’s essentially just thinking about what modern day Morocco looks like and then extrapolating that as to what it will look like 1000 years in the future. Morocco is a bit of a melting pot for different cultures because it’s where people go to when they’re trying to get to Europe - so you have a lot of people from Sub-Saharan Africa there - and you also have a lot of Europeans coming into Africa there so this is the kind of diversity that transposes onto the comics.

That’s taking a very contemporary influence, but some of them have taken influences from ancient kingdoms - it kind of varies.

Panel Patter: In that respect, did you have to do any adapting in terms of dialogue, aphorisms or content to account for the fact that the comic would be viewed outside of Africa?

Tolu: Between the two of us, I’m the one who has actually spent more time in Nigeria. With the vernacular, I would say out of the all of the comics Mumu Juju probably has the most.

We know that outside of Nigeria we have to make an allowance because Mumu Juju has a lot of humour in it which is only natural when it’s in the natural vernacular of the creator. He has to write certain things and there’s no way to directly translate them into regular English, so he has to put them in Pidgin English and then later on have a page where he explains all of the phrases. We actually have a reward on our Kickstarter where we give out Pidgin English flashcards that show you small version of the Mumu Juju characters explaining the various phrases. 

In Oro they speak regular English, they barely use Pidgin, but then sometimes characters will speak Yoruba. When they speak Yoruba, we usually have to put subtitles somewhere else on the page -there’s always that allowance - because when Nigerian creatives or African creatives in general are creating something, it only feels natural to you if it’s the way that you would speak in real life - a joke you would crack or an expression.

This is a very common joke in Nigeria: they say if a non-Nigerian gets suddenly hit they’re going to say “ouch”, but in Nigerian if you say “ouch” then they know that the thing didn’t really hurt you - you’re pretending when you say “ouch”. If it really hurt you and the exclamation came from your soul, then you’re going to say “yaay”. So it’s like, why would you be writing a comic and your character is saying “ouch” - it’s not natural.

Panel Patter: The point of the anthology is to showcase people from Africa telling stories that themselves, in the first issue at least, are very influenced African culture. Is it an anthology that in the future could have stories that were more directly influenced by Western stories, or would that not fit with the intention of the comic?

Ziki: In the short term, I don’t envision us publishing any Superman-esque stories only because DC and Marvel already do that so well, so why do that in the first place. However, for us we don’t necessarily want to impinge on the creative process that our artists and writers engage in, so our criteria is actually based on three things.

Our questions are: is the creative team from an African country, have they ever lived in an African country and are their stories set in an African country or African context? As long as they can tick two of those boxes, then we’re happy to work with those creators. However, if someone ticked two of those boxes and they wanted to essentially write Spider-Man, we’d be very unlikely to pick up that project because we don’t think we’d be able to do anything with it.

Tolu: Have you seen manga that wasn’t created by Japanese people? There’s always that conversation about if a non-Japanese person creates a comic in the Japanese style, is it manga or is it not? The fact that you can immediately look at something and instantly recognise that this style is Japanese - that says a lot about what they’ve done for their culture with their comics.

Panel Patter: So you want to do a similar thing where you’re trying to create a tone and an aesthetic for African cultures?

Tolu: Even though we’re not necessarily creating the guidelines for the aesthetic, we think the aesthetic already is out there and we’re just trying to pull it all in one place unit people start to see the similarities. We want to get to the point where someone can see something and immediately know: "Hey, that’s Kugali - that’s African".

Panel Patter: Does that mean that all of the stories came to you fully formed?

Tolu: Most of them had a pilot or maybe two issues out by the time we approached them, but when we see it and we think “this looks good enough” then we speak with them. So they usually already have it all planned out, but they are not done creating all of the issues.

Ziki: The other thing I would say as well is that for me personally, I’ve been developing my story over the course of running Kugali and I did enlist the help of embers of the team to help me refine certain concepts. We want to do more of that going forwards, looking at the next volume of the anthology in particular.

For this particular round of stories, most of them either had one or two issues out and then we helped them expand it to maybe, say, five issues. But for the next generation of stories, we’re more or less looking at building these stories from scratch.

Panel Patter: So does that mean that for this first volume, all of the entries are exsiting books that people can then go and buy?

Ziki: No, because some of them, the creators might have done the first 20 pages and they didn’t have the means to more; we helped the creators get all of the stories to completion. There are one or two that were already fully completed, but the vast majority were only partially completed by the time the creative teams joined Kugali.

Panel Patter: Do you plan to carry on working with them and launch them into their own spin-off books from this anthology?

Ziki: 100%. One of the key facts I’ve gotten from comic conventions is that people love the anthology. But there are some people who just like sci-fi and that’s all they want to read, and there are some people who love fantasy and that’s all they want to read. So we do want to give the comics an opportunity to connect with their own fan-base, so, while the anthology is a great idea, at the same time we want to give these stories the opportunity to grow on their own so we will eventually publish individual issues of most of the stories that will be featured in the anthology.

For example, the first Raki anthology will have Oro, Kayin and Abeni and Iku, but after the anthology is over, if people want to continue exploring these world then they’ll be able to buy the individual graphic novels related to this titles. That is the plan that we’re going with at the moment.

Panel Patter: So you mentioned there, the "Raki" edition. What are the differences between the two versions that you have on the Kickstarter?

Tolu: It’s very simple - the "Regular" edition of the magazine is designed for all-ages - it’s designed for everyone. Parents should be able to buy it for their kids, read it with their kids or whatever. The "Raki" edition is designed for people who want more mature themes in their comics and things that may not necessarily be child friendly. It’s not like every comic in the "Raki" edition is blood and gore every time - it’s just that there are certain things where we can’t tell the parents to buy this for their ten year old kids.

Panel Patter: Are they distinct books then? Should you buy both if you want everything or is there an overlap?

Tolu: There’s no overlap at all.

Ziki: If you want to experience the full spectrum of what Kugali has to offer then you definitely want to pick up both the "Raki" and the "Regular" edition.

Panel Patter: I’m going to force a false binary here: if you had to choose a favourite sequence of panels or a page from the first issue, what would it be and why?

Ziki: This is a bit hard for me because my comic is featured in "Raki" and there’s a particular sequence I really like in the first couple of pages, but at the same time I admit that there is a bias there. Do you know what? I generally tend to put the spotlight on the other artists, so I’m going to be a bit greedy here.

My favourite sequence in my comic actually is the first couple of pages because it starts off with a child just crying on a beach and there’s three panels at the bottom of the first page that show the water behind him then you see something, maybe it's a head, but we're not sure what it is and then you see this shadowy figure emerge from the water. Why I like that page is because it has zero dialogue and so you’re not really sure what’s going on; it forces the reader to build their own interpretation and the visuals are so strong that you get a perfect idea, or you think you get a perfect idea, and then everything flips on its head eventually.

Tolu: I think the very first two pages in Mumu Juju: they’re fighting these zombies, but the zombies are so comical - it’s different from any zombie I’ve seen anywhere else. Remember Plants vs Zombies? It’s goofy zombies like that with glowing body parts. The two characters are just kicking the zombies asses and that whole page just looks awesome.

Panel Patter: The reasoin that I brought this question up is that there’s a sequence in Kayin and Abeni and it’s when Kayin jumps out of the ship and then transforms in midair and then lands on the ground with a huge crash.

Tolu: we thought that sequence that was so coll that we made a motion comic with that one sequence!

Ziki: To be honest that is the best one - I was just being a bit biased to be honest. [laughs]

Panel Patter: My final question is probably quite a broad one: from your experience working directly with people from African cultures who make comics, what would you say is the one thing that makes African comics so different and worthwhile?

Ziki: When I went to the Lagos comic-con in 2012, I picked up this anthology called Taboo which was a collection of horror folktales set in Nigeria and it was so different to anything I’d seen before. When you watch enough films and read enough comics, you get used to the standard Western - and even Eastern - horror tropes, but these were new tropes that I hadn’t come across before and that made it actually scary. I don’t scare very easily but, for a horror comic, it was pretty striking.

That opened my mind to the possibilities in the sense that there was an opportunity to tell new stories, to enrich the genre and tell stories that people actually haven't seen before and certainly the specific elements that are unique or that are more prevalent in African culture.

It’s hard to pinpoint because it’s kind of a combination of various things. The fact is that our mythology, our art style and our storytelling techniques are different so the stories are inherently different. In African storytelling, there’s a lot of absurdism. For example, in the Yoruba Earth creation myth, the world was created because the Earth was one massive continent and there was also a chicken. You know how chickens scratch the earth and spread dirt? A chicken did that to a super massive continent and that’s how the world was created, which sounds pretty absurd.

Tolu: You missed out the fact that the chicken was sent by a deity.

Ziki: Yeah, yeah. So that’s the kind of absurdism that you see in a lot of our stories. It’s weird because one of the things that opened my mind to it is a book called Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman . He's obviously an English author, but he gets the storytelling spot on.

Tolu: When it comes to African creators, I’ve found that there are two main types: there are those who are so heavily influenced by what we’ve been seeing out of the West that they end up creating clones of their favourite Western cartoons and Western comics. They literally clone Superman and then instead of someone who looks European, the character looks African instead.

By the way, don’t you find it weird that every superhero who is an alien who ever came to Earth only happens to look like one race on Earth? Anyway.

We tend to ignore those because that’s generally a thing that you do when you are 14/15 - I used to clone Digimon and rewrite it with my own characters - that’s not really creative. When you get older and more enlightened, you create unique stuff that is based off of things people have not seen too much of in the media. When we see creators do that, that’s when we approach them and is how we found most of the people on our team.

The one thing that they all have in common is they are tapping into something from their own culture. We have people from Zimbabwe, Senegal, Nigeria - some of which I’ve never even been to - but those creators put out something different from everything that I’ve seen elsewhere. That’s the one thing that they have in common. That’s the one thing that we look out for.

Kugali have already reached their fundraising goal, but with such a culturally rich creative venture, they deserve so much more. The Kugali Anthology Kickstarter is running until March 28th.

Go and check it out.

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Catch It at the Comic Shop March 7, 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...

March 4, 2018

Emerald City Quick Report

I’m sitting in a Starbucks waiting for my Bolt Bus, so I wanted to get some thoughts down on my Emerald City Experience. This is going to skip around a bit on purpose—it’s a reflection, not a news article.

TLDR Version: It was great!

Longer version: It’s always great when I walk around and see that people in Artist Alley are selling out of their comics. Though there’s plenty of media tie-ins relating to Emerald City, it still does a great job of holding to the spirit of being a show about comics, too. There were plenty of comics panels, several of which I attended (and hope to write up over the course of this week). An overwhelming amount of Artist Alley was devoted to people who actually had comics for sale, or were long-time comics veterans such as Jae Lee or Mike Allred, who had limited items for sale but were available to talk and sign things.

And personally, it’s an amazing show when you get to stand in an escalator with Stan Sakai and tell him that putting up with Sergio and Mark means he deserves his own private way out of cons.

But back to the people buying stuff and having quality items to potentially buy. One of the things I hate is when I go to a con, see a ton of people, and then...they’re walking out empty handed. There’s a disconnect. Somehow, the people aren’t finding what they thought they would. That’s not their fault, nor is it the fault of the people tabling. But it really needs addressed when it happens. Cons are expensive for creators, and to a lesser extend, for those like me who travel to them. If they end up not being worthwhile, they can’t sustain themselves.

Trust me, Emerald City in its new configuration that concentrated art with art and merchansdise with merchandise, did not have this problem. I snagged the last copy of some things, and others I was one of the last, and in a few cases, what I had planned to grab was sold out even by Saturday. That’s amazing for the people in Artist Alley. 

And yes, I did my usual buying. I’ll have pictures when I get home. So many good things I can’t wait to read! Especially looking forward to the items I got from Vault Comics, who impressed me with their panel.

Backing up a bit: This show is really big, and while I admit that 4 days is a grind for me (and if that’s way for me, I can’t imagine being at a table for 36+ hours), it really kinda needs to be long in order to accommodate all the people who want to be there. I thought the Con did a great job with crowd management, bering firm but polite when people blocked the flow, handling a downed escalator like a pro, and never acting like power-hungry goons, at least that I could see. There’s nothing worse than a con person being a jerk to an attendee. I hope that my observation and experience was the same for everyone else, especially those with special needs and people of color.

The show floor was broken up extremely cleverly, I think. Gaming got its own floor, and I wish I’d had more time there, but comics has to be my focus. I did walk around though and saw lots of people playing CCGs, some folks demoing new games, and of course, game vendors. Another floor was dedicated to rest, meet-ups, and one of the best things of all time—A CLOAK ROOM! Holy shit, game changer, make it mandatory in my Con Contract. Not joking. The 4th level had the people selling Funko Pops, jewelry, clothing, celebrity photos, etc., along with some of the larger names in comics, like Dark Horse (whose booth always looks great), Oni, Boom! and their Skybridge sprawl, Vault, First Second, and many others. I don’t know what they keep on the 5th floor (and maybe I don’t want to know...), but then the 6th was all Artist Alley and panels relating to them, except for a misplaced Filk stage. Whether you like filk or not, it needs to be somewhere that isn’t going to echo into where creators are trying to talk about their books.

The other area of the show floor I spent time on was on the oppposite side, where a lot of panels, including mine, were held It’s a little hard to find, but once you do, I like having the extra space. I’ll talk more about the panels later, but the highlights for me were Vault, Black Crown (from IDW), and Vertigo, all of whom had great presentations and a tightly run show.

Of course, for me, one of the biggest things is just getting to stop and speak to the many wonderful people I’ve met over the course of the past 10 years running this site. It was so good to see Rafer Roberts of Plastic Farm, Archer and Armstrong, and more, one of the first to really believe in what I do here from a creator’s perspective, in a rare West Coast appearance. Other folks I rarely see included Blue from Oh Human Star, Mel Gillman of As the Crow Flies, and of course Spike Trotman from Iron Circus, plus Robert Wilson IV of Heartthrob, Jim Zub (who I hear is Avenging these days), and finally meeting Tamra Bonvillan. That’s to say nothing of the Portland crew, who I’m always happy to see, even if I wish I saw them more often in our own city, hahaha!

The costumes also were top notch. I even cosplayed officially at a con. For the first time, and I had a blast. I have some plans to do more of this, even if it’s a bit silly when I meet a publisher dressed as Eddie Nigma. My favorite was probably the pair done up as Janet and Bad Janet from the Good Place, my favorite TV show. 

This is going a bit longer than I’d planned, so I’ll close out by saying that if you were afraid to go to ECCC because its too big, or worried that maybe a Panel Patter type fan of comics would not have enough to do, I can heartily say that neither is true. The size is large, but doable, and there’s so many great comics, just waiting for you. If you can make it to ECCC next year, March 14th-17th, I hope to see you there!

March 2, 2018

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The Magic's Vanished (Weekend Pattering for March 2nd, 2018)


from The Beatles Story by Angus Allan and Arthur Ranson

Previously on Panel Patter

Cover of the Next Week

Kelley Thompson and Leonardo Romero's Hawkeye series has been a fantastic book.  Kate is just such a fun character.  I think it says something about her that a number of writers have had their take on Kate and most of them have turned out some pretty great stories.  I hope with all of the Fresh Start announcements Marvel's making that next week we'll find out what books these two creators are working on next.

Julian Totino Tedesco's covers have been a huge part of the character of this book, with his painted, southern-California moody covers.  The colors in his artwork just capture the mood of the stories that Thompson and Romero are riffing on.  That hazy yellow sunset is just so resigned to the fate of the characters and, more importantly, the fate of the series.


*** Sarah Horrocks Talks GORO, the Creative Process, and More! (Comicverse)-- I haven't had a chance to read any of Horrocks comics yet but I'm always interested to see what she has to say about the art of comics.
I think a lot of the composition of GORO owes a lot to Fassbinder and then like Italian films from the late 60s and 70s. Pasolini, Fellini, Pietrangeli, Bellochio, Antonioni (Brooke’s apartment is literally the apartment Mirella Ricciardi in L’Eclisse.), etc. Also, I like to look at film for set design stuff. It tends to be more innate than what people use in comics. And I think part of balancing my pages properly is occasionally drawing a good room for characters to move around in.

This and That

*** Diamond adds digital pull list service, revamps Previews and sees DC leave the catalog (The Beat)--  Out of Comics Pro last week, Diamond announced a digital pull list service that comic shops and their customers can use.  I'm actually pretty excited about this as I think it's a good idea for the shops' customers but I wonder how much how much big data is going to be in there that could be used to market and sell directly to the audience.  Not that I think that Diamond is going to do that or that the Direct Market is big enough for there to be that much usable data.

Developed from the ground up to help customers place orders with their local comic shop, PULLBOX handles monthly comic subscriptions, preorders for upcoming titles and products, and special orders all from Diamond’s consumer pop-culture website,, while also providing comic shop retailers with the back-end tools necessary to manage their pull-and-hold customer base.

From Justin Ponsor's Blarg blog.

*** Fundraiser Seeks to Aid Marvel Colorist Justin Ponsor’s Cancer Treatment (CBR)-- The prolific Marvel colorist Justin Ponsor is having to have surgery for a brain tumor.  CBR has the details on a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to help Ponsor get through this surgery, treatment, and recovery.  The fund is currently just over $35,000 on a goal of #$50,000.
The colorist last detailed his cancer treatment on Feb. 18 on his blog, keeping his spirits up with some humor, as he indicated that he will indeed be needing surgery to remove a brain tumor. This surgery will require a metal plate to then be inserted into his head afterwards. “Guess who’s got two thumbs, one kidney and is getting a plate in their head,” he said, referring to his past and current treatment.
Ponsor is blogging about his treatment here.

*** Taniguchi Jirō’s World of Manga (Nippon)--  I want to read a manga called Hunting Dog Detective (above image.)  What do I need to do to get that translated and published over here?  Nippon has a nice but brief overview of Taniguchi Jiro's career.
When manga creator Taniguchi Jirō died in February 2017, the majority of the Japanese media described him as the artist of Kodoku no gurume (The Solitary Gourmet), the series he was best known for in his home nation. In France, however, detailed coverage in Le Monde and other press outlets primarily paid tribute to his solo works Aruku hito (trans. The Walking Man) and Haruka na machi e (trans. A Distant Neighborhood), which won acclaim in the country. Taniguchi may well be more highly regarded in Europe than he is in Japan. He took inspiration from Franco-Belgian comic artists like Mœbius and François Schuiten, and most of his works are available in French. His standing in France is apparent from his being one of just three mangaka to receive the Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, alongside Akira creator Ōtomo Katsuhiro and Matsumoto Leiji of Ginga tetsudō 999 (Galaxy Express 999) fame.
*** February 2018’s Harpy Agenda recipient is Priya Huq, writing at Women Write About Comics (Harpy Agenda)-- I hadn't heard of this microgrant before but I think it's a great idea.  Congrats to Riya Huq for being the most recent recipient of it.
Second, we are awarding February 2018’s microgrant to Priya Huq, for her article “CB CEBULSKI’S ASIAN MASK: WHY THE ANGER?” published on Women Write About Comics. It was a deep analysis of the issues surrounding the Marvel Editor in Chief’s masquerade as a Japanese writer in 2004, addressing the systemic bias against acknowledging marginalization in the comics industry, and providing a platform for several other PoC voices on the issue.

Current Mood

March 1, 2018

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The Shape and Form of Connections in Roman Muradov's Resident Lover (mini kuš! #66)

There are few comics which could pull off lines like, “I’ve never met my former lover’s lover’s lover, and neither had my lover. I’ve heard they’re good at bocce, my lover heard they have no limbs.” Roman Muradov’s minicomic Resident Lover explores the geometry of relationships, beginning with one path and finding many branches to veer off into. Muradov lets his story breath and expand to fill a great space, crafting a story about these connections that we call “love,” but are probably something altogether different.

There is a movement in Muradov’s tales that seems random at first and you can’t say that it all comes together in the end to form a satisfying narrative but it creates an experience of following an idea or an emotion through different iterations. The story is about how we love but viewed through different kinds and levels of relationships. Muradov’s story starts with one person describing a trip to a store but grows in complexity and characters to fill the space of the pages that he has to work with.

With this store in the Columbian Valle del Cauca department at the center of this book, an odd transactional tone hangs over Muradov’s tales. The element of commerce in these relationships isn’t lurid or tawdry but it is strangely businesslike. Part of that is the fairly forthright and staid demeanor of the narrator, a character herself in the first part of the book who disappears as an actor in the second half as she relates the story of two women, similar enough to be mistaken as the same woman by their lover.

As Muradov writes this measured narrative, his artwork helps frame the structure of the story, told in simple, flat shapes that contain an amazing amount of warmth and depth. Using color and form in a very clean, stylistic design, Resident Lover emphasizes its world as an orderly place. As these people live, breath, love and suffer heartbreak, his visualization of these stories create a well-ordered and designed world that masks a sense of whimsy and chaos. It sets up a tension that’s echoed in the final pages of the book as Muradov’s narrator talks about the two women, the heiresses of the department store, and the ways that their lives play almost carelessly with the people around them.

With a deft and intimate touch, Roman Muradov’s Resident Lover tells a story about the forms of these connections we make with people and places. These vignettes of characters and situations merge together in a compelling way, all linked together by this store. The store touches these moments and bonds. Without ever selling us something like a store should, it acts as the center of this universe, forming bonds between all of these characters that help sculpt the emotional tone of the bonds explored in this comic.

Resident Lover (mini kuš! #66)
Written and drawn by Roman Muradov
published by kuš!

February 28, 2018

ECCC Preview: Boom! And Oni Explode on the Scene

Back with another show preview! This time, it’s twice as nice as we look at Boom! and Oni Press...

BOOM! Studios loves its spot at ECCC, covering the Skybridge. I agree; it’s really cool. As with most publishers, they’ll have some exclusive covers, including a gorgeous variant for the latest Jim Henson’s Labrinth series by Panel Pal Ben Dewey. I’m not the variant cover type, but...this one might have to come home with me. If I can get there in time.

They’ll also have signings. Here’s a few that I think out readers will be most interested in:

Thursday at 2:00 pm, Ryan North, Braden Lamb, and Shelli Paroline, the original Adventure Time team, will be together again
Friday at 11:00am, Matt Kindt of Grass Kings and many, many other things stops by
Saturday at 4:00pm, Matt Kindt returns
Sunday at 3:00, Josh Trujillo and Cara McGee will sign as well

Boom! also has a few panels:

Thursday at 3:15, Boom! goes to the Seattle Public Library to discuss their lines for educators and librarians.
Friday at 4:00 in room TCC L3-R1, the focus is on the amazing Lumberjanes series, which is heading for its 50th issue soon. Wow! I can’t believe it’s been that long.
Saturday at 1:30pm in room TCC L3- R1, Boom! gives its linewide overview to a general audience.
Sunday at 1:30pm in room WSCC604, the focus will be on the long running Mouse Guard series.

Moving on to Oni Press, who will be at booth 216, if you are a Rick and Morty fan, they have a ton of variants for you. But the exclusive I have my eye on is the first Volume of Kim Reaper, one of my favorite books of 2017.

Oni has these signings that I think you should check out:


10:00 Yehudi Mercado of Sci-Fu
12:30 Chris Sebela and Robert Wilson IV of Heartthrob
03:00 Jen Bartel
04:00 Tess Stone, Ananth Hirsh, Yuko Ota of Not Drunk Enough and Our Cats are More Famous thann Us
05:00 Kyle Starks and Gabo


11:00 Ted Naifeh of Night’s Dominion, Princess Ugg, and others
12:00 Terry Blas, Molly Muldoon, and Matthew Seeley
03:00 Cat Ferris of My Boyfriend is a bear
04:00 Tini Howard, Kyle Starks, and Sarah Graley
05:00 Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan of Oh Joy Sex Toy


11:00 Ted Naifeh
12:00 Yehudi Mercado
01:00 Terry Blas, Molly Muldoon, and Matthew Seeley
02:00 Sarah Graley

ECCC Preview: Image Intrigues Readers all Weekend

Another in our ECCC previews. This time it’s about Image!

Fresh off the Image Expo, where creators named their new projects, Image heads up the interstate and offers some cool things for Emerald City. Here’s a few things of note:

Image likes to do Con exclusives. Be aware they go extremely fast, however, so if you want any of these, make a beeline for their booth, which is #316.

VS #1 Variant, by Ivan Brandon and Esad Ribic
AD: After Death hardcover by Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder
Kill or Be Killed Vol 1 Hardcover by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Elizabeth Breitweiser
Black Science Statue
I Believe in Comics T-shirt and Tote Bag

They also will have signings. A few people of note:


12:00 Tee Franklin of Bingo Love
12:00 Joseph Keatinge, James Asmus, and Chris Sebela
2:00 Charles  Soule and Ryan Browne
3:00 Farel Dalrymple


1:00 Tee Franklin
2:00 Donnie Cates
3:00 Anthony Del Col
3:00 Joseph Keatinge, James Asmus, and Chris Sebela


1:00 Kyle Starks

Image is also sponsoring one panel per day:

Thursday 4pm, TCC L3-R3 We Believe in Vision
Friday 4pm, TCC L3-R5 We Believe in Imagination
Saturday 4pm, TCC L3-R5 We Believe in Creativity
Sunday 2:30pm, TCC L3-R5 We Believe in Storytelling

Image also always brings a ton of trades and some cool pins and things to the show with them, but the most popular items always sell out fast. As the largest of the non Big 2 Publishers, it’s always a good idea to stop by their table and pick up some of the best comics out there for readers looking to branch out from their superhero diet.

ECCC Preview: Dark Horse Will Keep You Busy!

Welcome to the first of sevreal pre-show previews we’ll be running today (and maybe tomorrow) about Emerald City Comic Con. They’re also my first try at mobile blogging, so excuse the typos!

First up is Dark Horse, who has a ton of things going on at the show.

First off, if you haven’t already done so, make sure you check out the Berger Books line. They’re spectacular, and I’m sure Dark Horse will be happy to sell you copies at the show. I rarely pre-order comics sight unseen, but I did so for Karen’s line and I couldn’t be happier with what I read.

Second, they have a bunch of great people appearing at the show, ready to speak with you, sell you their books and sign items. Here’s a few of the people involved:


1:00 Patrick Reyonds of Joe Golem Occult Detective
2:00 Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin, of Bandette, Small Favors, I was the Cat, Colder, and so much more!
3:00 Wendy and Richard Pini of Elfquest
5:00 Chris Roberson of Hellboy, Edison Rex and more


12:00 Rafer Roberts and Kristen Gudsnuk of Modern Fantasy, Henchgirl, Plastic Farm, Archer and Armstrong and more!
1:00 Adam P. Knave and D.K. Kirkbride of Once and Future Queen, Amelia Cole, and more!
2:00 Matt and Sharlene Kindt of Department H, Mind MGMT and more!
4:00 David Mack of Kabuki and more!
6:00 Secret Love of Geeks medley—Hope Nicholson, Amy Chu, Patrick Rothffuss, and Vita Ayala


11:00 Matt and Sharlene Kindt
12:00 Wendy and Richard Pini
2:00 Ron Randall of Trekker, Future Quest, and more!
3:00 Johnnie Christmas and Tamra Bonvillan of Angel Catbird
4:00 Rafer Roberts and Kristen Gudsnuk


12:00 Stan Sakai of Usabi Yojimbo
1:00 Paul Tobin and Ron Chan of Plants vs Zombies and more!

And here are several of their panels that look pretty cool:

Saturday 12:15 WSCC 604: Geeking out on Secret Loves, about the anthology
Saturday 4:45 TCC L3-R2: Elfquest - 40 Years of Pointy Ears
Sunday 10:45 TCC L3-R1: Dark Horse Manga

Dark Horse’s booth is at 1708, and they always have freebie, ranging from posters to pins to some random comics. It’s a great company that does great work to make your con experience the best it can be, Go check them out!

February 27, 2018

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Catch It at the Comic Shop February 28, 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:

Days of Hate #2 by Ales Kot, Daniel Zezelj and Jordie Bellaire, published by Image Comics.
Ales Kot is one of those comics creators that's always up to something interesting and personal but also very topical.  In Days of Hate he's going there, with a near-future America that feels like not much of a reach from where we are right now.  I think he's got a valuable perspective, and I'm a huge fan of Daniel Zezelj's art, so I'm very interested to see where this book goes.

Royal City #10 by Jeff Lemire, published by Image Comics.
Royal City is great comics. I don't know if enough people realize what a terrific comic Royal City is. It's wistful and tragic and funny and acerbic, and Lemire's art has really never been better. I love his style, and he gives each of the characters a ton of personality. The book has been in a flashback to the early 90's and I'm just loving the styles and the music. There aren't too many issues, you should definitely pick this one up and give it a chance.

The Terrifics #1 from Jeff Lemire, Joe Prado and Ivan Reis, published by DC Comics.
So there's a monstrous guy, a woman who can become invisible, a really stretchy guy, and a guy who's a super genius.  I'm speaking, of course, of...The Terrifics, the new series to come out of DC's Dark Nights: Metal.  I'm just really, really curious about this comic. I mean, I can't imagine a more obvious homage to The Fantastic Four, but I'm sure that Lemire will have his own spin on the team.  If you've been reading Black Hammer, then you know what great ideas Lemire has about taking superhero tropes and turning them on their head. So, I'm very interested to see what exactly this is.

Scott's Picks:
Bettie Page #8 by David Avallone and Esau Figueroa, published by Dynamite Entertainment.  
Honestly, I really just love this cover by Scott Chantler.  It reminds me of something that Darwyn Cooke would have done.  I haven't actually checked out any of the Bettie Page comics but if I see this issue on the comics racks, I'll definitely check out the series.

Lone Sloane Gail by Phillipe Druillet, published by Titan Comics.
The Druillet comics that Titan has been republishing the last year or so are just crazy.  They're mad.  Druillet's artwork is just full of cosmic detail that we haven't seen in American comics since the 1970s.  

Doom Patrol/Justice League America Special #1 by Steve Orlando, Gerard Way, Dale Eaglesham, Nick Derington, Tamra Bonvillain and Marissa Louise, published by DC Comics.
 If this crossover event has suffered from anything, it's the lateness of the last couple of issues of Doom Patrol.  That aside, this event has been bonkers since the first issue.  It'll be fascinating to see how Dale Eaglesham and Nick Derington's artwork mesh together in this comic. This crossover came at a good time because it's re-invigorated my desire to keep on reading the Young Animal comics.

The One #1 by Rick Veitch, published by IDW.
Comics as consumption.  I'm glad to see Rick Veitch's work back in print and but we'll have to see how well it connects with a 2018 audience.  His own brand of superhero deconstruction made a lot of sense in the 1980s and 1990s but will it still feel relevant in todays superhero landscape where their movies are the most pop of pop art?

Rob's Picks:

Glitterbomb Vol. 2 by Jim Zub, K. Michael Russell and Djibril Morissette-Phan, published by Image Comics.
Jim Zub goes dark again, looking at the ways in which we exploit tragedy and adding a supernatural element to the mix. Picking up from vol 1, we follow the babysitter as they try to make her famous. The mysterious force that spawns violence is back, too, but gets a different spin this time. The art keeps a good balance between realistic and horror. It's not quite as good at first volume but I enjoy seeing Zub explore concepts that have real world implications where he isn't tied down by licensed characters.

The Beef #1 by Shaky Kane and Richard Starkings, published by Image Comics.
Shaky Kane! Shaky Kane! Shaky Kane! (I have to say more? Okay...)
Kane teams up with Richard Starkings and Tyler Shainline to get really, really weird. From the amazing spam like cover to the idea that killing cattle and then eating nothing but processed food makes a worker drone loser snap is exactly the kind of story Kane's oddly colored, oddly blocky art is perfect for. My book of the week.