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Comic-Booktoberfest!

October is right around the corner (I’m as surprised by that as you are! If you are.) which means HALLOWEEN is coming! Actually, according to my supermarket, Halloween has been coming since September 1st. But since they now make Cadbury Crème Eggs for Halloween, I’m not complaining.

ANYWAY.  Halloween time means it’s time to read some creepy stuff! The nights are getting longer, the shadows are getting scarier, it’s all chilly out, which means you need to be curled up in your house with the jitters.

To that end, here are some kind-of-creepy things to read to get you in the mood.

–Walking Dead is super famous and has a popular TV show, so maybe you’ve read it already, but if not, it’s worth checking out. I should say here that I hate zombies (I have terrible zombie-related nightmares) and also think this series is kind of terrible — BUT I still read the first twelve volumes because I HAD TO KNOW what awful thing would happen next. It is a soap opera of gore. The TV show is terrible and compelling in an entirely different way. Both are perfect for your October media consumption. 

–Pretty much anything by Mike Mignola. Mignola is probably most famous for writing Hellboy (also a major motion picture), but for my money, Hellboy spinoff BPRD is where it’s at — BPRD stands for Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, and the squad consists of humans and not-quite-humans. The art is super atmospheric and kind of dark and spooky, and the stories involve all sorts of demons and ghosts and Nazis.

–I have mentioned Beasts of Burden before, but COME ON, an amazing book about dogs fighting evil supernatural forces is perfect for October! And the art, like BPRD’s, has a really spooky feel.  Still one of my favorites.

–Finally, you should check out whichever Richard Sala books you can find.  They’re mostly all horror/mystery stories, with plucky girl detectives and/or reporters, sinister and mysterious men, etc. But it’s all kind of weird and funny, too.  I also really like his art–his girls are super cute, his horrifying creatures pretty horrific looking. (Check out his blog to see examples!).

–And of course, you can’t talk about creepy comics without talking about the crazy old EC Comics from the ‘50s. Luckily, the awesome Fantagraphics is reissuing a lot of the EC stuff just in time for Halloween, and if you’ll be in Seattle in later October, you can see an exhibit at their bookstore/gallery.

Plus, I know at least one local comic book store (Chapel Hill Comics) will be giving away special trick-or-treat comics to kids in costume around Halloween, so keep an eye peeled for that news.

Happy Halloween, and happy comics reading!

http://chapelboro.com/columns/graphic-novelties/comic-booktoberfest/

We'll Miss You All! (Except for you, Liefeld)

Guys, ohmygod, Doctor Who is finally back with new episodes on Saturday! And BBC has put out a bunch of minisodes called Pond Life!

I am pretty excited about the new season, and not just because of the Doctor, Amy, Rory, and supposedly scary Daleks, but because there will apparently be dinosaurs in spaceships. Oh, Doctor, Who, you’re so silly. I’ve finally finished rewatching seasons 5 and 6 in preparation (it counts as a rewatch even if you skip the boring episodes about flesh clones and the very creepy peg doll one, right?). I still think the episode with baby Stormageddon is my favorite, even if the end is a little bit cloying.

Another TV show I am getting excited about way too far in advance is the recently announced Joss Whedon pilot about SHIELD
 (the organization Nick Fury works for—you know, all those dapperly dressed individuals in the background of the Avengers movie).  I’d love to see Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill in a starring role, but she has at least one more year on the increasingly drawn-out How I Met Your Mother. She’s so much more fun as a bad-ass, though! (Speaking of badass ladies, have you all seen the BAMF Girls Club? Hilarious.) And here’s an interview with Whedon about all sorts of Marvel stuff!

And two kind of important pieces of comic book news—Ed Brubaker (who’s written Captain America for a long time, and whose Winter Soldier seems like it’ll play a big part of the Captain America movie sequel) is leaving Marvel, presumably to focus on his independent series like Incognito and Criminal (both of which I have recommended here several times).

And in similar news, Judd Winick is leaving DC. I have never actually read any Judd Winick DC comics, but I did like Barry Ween (about a foul-mouthed boy genius—pretty funny) and the book he did about being on the Real World. No, seriously, he was on the Real World in like season 3, the one with Puck and the peanut butter. Winick wrote a book about his friendship with AIDS educator/HIV-positive housemate Pedro Zamora, Pedro and Me, which totally made me cry. So I’m hopeful that he’s moving on to something more interesting. 

And Rob Liefeld is also leaving DC, but I’ll let this article speak to whether or not we should be upset about that.

And finally, it’s been a long time since I brought you any Archie news (which means something crazy is probably right around the corner), so read this hilarious takedown of the short-lived 80s comic (and cartoon) The New Archies. I am pretty sure I read this in the 80s and loved it, but I was a little kid, so what did I know?

Anyway, hope you all have a great long weekend and spend at least some of it reading comics!

http://chapelboro.com/columns/graphic-novelties/well-miss-you-all-except-for-you-liefeld/

Faulty Power Coupling

So the big news in the comic book world this week is that Superman and Wonder Woman are becoming a couple and will be a couple in every relevant DC book (and probably some irrelevant ones, to sell more copies). For someone who ostensibly doesn’t care about superheroes — and definitely has little-to-no interest in Superman specifically — this is really bugging me, and I am going to try and tell you why.

–First of all, I’m not at all into the cover, which falls way into overly sexy/sexist territory (don’t get me wrong, Superman looks terrible too). I just don’t think Wonder Woman’s barely-clothed butt should be right smack in the center, you know? Not to mention, getting it on while flying has totally been done before, in the Buffy Season 8 comics (spoiler? Sorry).

–I’m also not into these characters as a couple. Wonder Woman’s new series has been pretty interesting, even if they have changed a lot of her backstory/parentage. Why does any major storyline worthy of getting media attention have to involve romance? And what about romance with Steve Trevor, who’s historically been her love interest, or even with a new character? Or why can’t she keep exploring her roots and her powers, and not date anyone? (Let alone have sky-sex.) io9 has some good analysis of her character and lovelife in light of this editorial decision.

–What about Lois Lane? OK, they aren’t married in this version of the DC Universe (and I guess they aren’t dating?), but I’m always going to root for the scrappy girl reporter.

(From Superman Annual 11 / Scans Daily)

–OK, the REAL reason I’m up in arms about this: the Justice League cartoon. I know it stopped running years ago, but it’s still one of my all-time favorite shows (WHYYYYY isn’t it on Netflix Instant?), and the DC Animated Universe sometimes gets these characters a lot better than the comic book writers do (plus, I love the way they look!). And do you know who Wonder Woman’s love interest was? Not boring Superman, but intellectual and tormented Batman! They played off each other so nicely — Wonder Woman is sometimes seen as basically a female version of Superman with the super strength and the flying (though as a lady, she also has magical accessories like her lasso, bracelets, and invisible airplane), so having her involved with the only human member of the team really worked. And it’s a LOT more interesting. Batman + Wonder Woman 4-eva!

–Now for some comedy about this pairing — NPR has Superman and Wonder Woman’s texts from the morning after, and EW has Lois Lane’s reaction.
 
And don’t forget, Tuesday the 28th is Read a Comic in Public Day! I hope to see lots of people sharing their comic book love!

http://chapelboro.com/columns/graphic-novelties/faulty-power-coupling/

It's The Remix To Ignatz Wins

I’ve talked about comic book awards here before — specifically, the Eisners, which I likened to the Oscars of comics. But this week the Ignatz nominees were announced, and I’ll confess that I often like Ignatz Award winners/nominees more.  They’re aimed at awarding independent comics (more or less — in any case, you won’t see DC or Marvel superheroes on the list) and tend to have a lot more variety than the Eisners. — and the winners will be announced at SPX (the Small Press Expo, a convention aimed at small/independent comics and publishers.  So, for those of you who aren’t really into superheroes and other mainstream stuff, all of these titles are worth checking out. I”ll talk about a few that I particularly like and recommend.

–My very favorite Jaime Hernandez received THREE nominations! Especially awesome since he was snubbed at the Eisners. Seriously, read Love and Rockets, how many times do I have to tell you. He’s up for Outstanding Artist, Outstanding Story (for a story that made me straight-up sob), and Love and Rockets is up for Outstanding Series.

–I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about Kate Beaton and Hark a Vagrant before, but it’s up for outstanding collection. You can read it all online too, but it is a great little package of a book, and Kate Beaton for sure deserves all of our money. She does hilarious comics mainly about history and literature, and her art is GREAT.

–Big Questions by Anders Nilsen is a collection of his Big Questions minicomics, but works really well as one volume (one big volume). Nilsen is the author of the comic/sketchbook/travelogue Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow, which has maybe made me cry harder than any other comic. And I have honestly cried about a lot of comics (see above).

–Kevin Huizenga’s Ganges is up for outstanding series and it really is. I like his art a lot, and everyman character Glenn Ganges is weird and wonderful, dealing with everyday issues like insomnia and talking to his neighbors.

–I like the webcomic category a lot this year, but SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki is seriously one of my favorite ongoing comics. It’s about weirdly gifted teenagers at an even weirder school, and it’s weirdly full of pathos.

Those are just the few I want to highlight as being especially great—but like I said, everything nominated is interesting and worth looking into.

In more mainstream news, this week Joe Kubert died. He worked for DC for years, particularly on Sergeant Rock, but also wrote the graphic novel Yossi, where he imagined his life if his family hadn’t moved from Europe to America during the Holocaust. Riveting stuff. So any and all of his work is recommended this week as well.

http://chapelboro.com/columns/graphic-novelties/its-the-remix-to-ignatz-wins/

I'm Playing The Whedon Game

I know, I know: just last week I was trying to stay away from getting all excited about superhero movie news. But with the whole Joss Whedon being officially on board not just for Avengers 2 but for an Avengers TV show, I couldn’t contain myself!

First of all, it’s hard to go wrong with a Joss Whedon TV show, especially one about people with powers. Second of all, I’m with TV critic Alan Sepinwall in hoping to finally see that Jessica Jones series. Seriously, a PI with a superheroine past and ties to the Avengers is a goldmine, and I would watch the heck out of that show with Whedon behind it. (Also, if you haven’t read Alias yet, get on it! It’s available in two handy volumes now, and it’s great.)
 
And in non-superhero news, check out Matt Madden on the evolution of comics in 6 panels.
 
And in only barely comic-book-related news (there is actually a tie-in to comics!), I am getting super excited about the new season of Doctor Who. Current head writer/showrunner Steven Moffatt is occasionally heavy-handed and likes to re-use tropes (The Doctor meeting women at various times throughout their childhoods/adulthoods, disembodied voices of the dead, etc), but I still love the show and am especially excited about a few teases from the upcoming season, particularly this one (SPOILERS, as River Song would say!)

And, in case you were wondering, there are currently no plans for a Doctor Who movie.
 
Just to tie all this together –Doctor Who, movies and the Avengers– the original Doctor from the modern era, Christopher Eccleston, is going to play the villain in the next Thor movie. I love the sci-fi universe!

http://chapelboro.com/columns/graphic-novelties/im-playing-the-whedon-game/