If you’re interested in finding out more about comic books and graphic novels, a great way to discover new stories is to check out a local comics event. There’s a vibrant comics community here in Los Angeles, where you can meet artists, writers, publishers, and other readers who are ready and willing to turn you on to some amazing material.
Here are some local Los Angeles events coming up that celebrate the sequential art form.
Wednesday, February 23, 6 PM – 9 PM: ReggiesWorld.com launch party and signing with writer/director Reginald Hudlin (Black Panther) and special guests writer Dwayne McDuffie (JLA, Static), artist Denys Cowan (Black Panther, The Question), writers Mike Benson and Adam Glass (Luke Cage Noir), musician/comics creator Ziggy Marley (Marijuana Man), actors/comics creators Eriq La Salle (25 to Life) and Rashida Jones (Frenemy of the State), and sci-fi authors Tananarive Due (My Soul to Keep) and Steven Barnes (Lion’s Blood) at Golden Apple, 7018 Melrose Avel, Los Angeles 90038. Tickets: $0.
Never read a graphic novel before? Haven’t read a comic book in years?
Here’s some brand new stuff that came out last week that I think is worth a look-see for someone with little to no history with comics. That means you should be able to pick any of these up cold without having read anything else. So take a look and see if something doesn’t grab your fancy. If so, follow the publisher links or Amazon.com links to buy yourself a copy. Or, head to your local friendly comic book shop.
Disclaimer: For the most part, I have not read these yet, so I can’t vouch for their quality. But, from what I’ve heard and seen, odds are good they just might appeal to you.
From out of the deep woods and the mind of acclaimed indie cartoonist Jeff Lemire (THE NOBODY, The Essex County Trilogy) comes a new Vertigo monthly ongoing series like no other! After being raised in total isolation, Gus – a boy born with deer-like antlers – is left to survive in an American landscape devastated a decade earlier by an inexplicable pandemic. Even more remarkable is that Gus is part of a rare new breed of human/animal hybrid children who have emerged in its wake, all apparently immune to the infection.
Enter Jepperd, a violent, hulking drifter who soon takes in Gus and promises to lead him to “The Preserve,” a fabled safe-haven for hybrid children. Along the way they’ll have to contend with science militias, deadly scavengers, rival bounty hunters, and hybrid worshipping cultists as they fight to make it to safety and solve the mysteries of this deadly new frontier.
This bizarre and haunting new series is boldly written and illustrated by Eisner-nominated creator Jeff Lemire and elegantly colored by fellow Eisner nominee Jose Villarubia. A little boy with antlers, a big man with guns, a world without hope – SWEET TOOTH #1 ships in September for only $1.00!
Yes, only $1! Jeff Lemire is very talented. You can risk a buck to check this comic out. Come on, do it already! OK, fine since you’re being so demanding, here’s a 7-page preview to twist your arm.
Three bounty hunter siblings blaze a path of death and destruction across the old west. Traveling by moonlight they rip criminals screaming for mercy from their hiding places, but none is ever given. Each bounty is torn, broken, and bled dry before they are delivered dead and payment collected in gold – no silver. The Irons are the most feared bounty hunting killers in the west, but that fear isn’t based on them being the fastest with a pistol or rifle. It’s because they’re the Walking Dead.
A lone tortured soul tracks them with vengeance and salvation driving him to end the curse upon his family. Those who he rescues call him savior but those who look upon his twisted and scarred face call him monster. Silas Irons is the only hope his brothers and sister have of salvation from the abominations they’ve become. But even the purity of his heart can’t stop the unnatural rage and bloodlust building in his diseased soul.
A black curse turned these siblings into monsters but deep rooted and twisted family history made them into the worst kind of horrors. This year’s biggest supernatural western tale is collected here for the very first time! Written by James Kuhoric (Freddy vs Jason vs Ash), illustrated by Jason Alexander (BPRD), and based on character designs and covers by Jae Lee (The Dark Tower).
Dead Irons – 99 innocent souls – 6 undead monsters – 1 shot to save the world.
If you like your comics a little bit eery and frightening, check the 12-page preview out at the publisher’s link above. Jason Shawn Alexander must be a scary man in person.
When K. Westree arrives at Bellsong Academy, she thinks she’s left her cat-burgling past behind her. But K. soon discovers the school has a mystery of its own, a hidden treasure left behind by its founder, and she’s the only one who has a hope of finding it. As she resumes her cat-burgling in an attempt to discover the school’s secrets, K. begins to question if a normal life is really what she wants.
I have unsuccessfully petitioned Richard Sala to mate with me several times. Yes, I realize this is scientifically impossible and inappropriate. You have your dreams, I’ll have mine, thank you very much. Publisher’s Weekly has an 8-page preview for you to drool at. Wipe your keyboards.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – $29.99
By L. Frank Baum, Eric Shanower & Skottie Young
192 pages; published by Marvel Comics; available at Amazon.com
The premiere American fantasy adventure gets the Merry Marvel treatment! Eisner Award-winning writer/artist Eric Shanower (Age of Bronze) teams up with fan-favorite artist Skottie Young (New X-Men) to bring L. Frank Baum’s beloved classic to life! When Kansas farm girl Dorothy flies away to the magical Land of Oz, she fatally flattens a Wicked Witch, liberates a living Scarecrow and is hailed by the Munchkin people as a great sorceress…but all she really wants to know is: how does she get home?
This high-end hardcover is on the pricy side (and if it feels excessive, keep your eye out for the inevitable softcover edition later in the year) but this is so charming. Skottie Young seemed to resurrect himself as a new artist completely out of nowhere and his new style is so captivating. And writer Eric Shanower is a devout Oz disciple who has released his own Oz-inspired books. L. Frank Baum would be proud. Here’s a 5-page preview along with an interview with Shanower from last November.
Studs Terkel’s Working: A Graphic Adaptation – $22.95
By Harvey Pekar
208 pages; published by The New Press; available at Amazon.com
“Working has been a book, a radio drama, a Broadway musical, and now a gripping graphic novel. I can’t speak for Studs, but I suspect he would have been tickled to see it adapted by a former government file clerk and wage slave, who knows all about working.” –Roger EbertIn the thirty-five years since Pulitzer Prize-winner Studs Terkel’s Working was first published, it has captivated millions of readers with lyrical and heartbreaking accounts of how their fellow citizens earn a living. Widely regarded as a masterpiece of words, it is now adapted into comic book form by comics legend Harvey Pekar, the blue-collar antihero of his American Book Award-winning comics series American Splendor.
In Studs Terkel’s Working, Pekar offers a brilliant visual adaptation of Terkel’s verbatim interviews, collaborating with both established comics veterans and some of the comic underground’s brightest new talent. Here are riveting accounts of the lives of ordinary Americans–farmers, miners, barbers, hookers, box boys, stockbrokers–depicted with unsurpassed dignity and frankness. A visual treat with a visceral impact, Studs Terkel’s Working will delight Terkel fans everywhere, and introduce his most powerful work to a new generation.
As the economy continues to threaten the middle-class, this is a great way to take an unfiltered look at the middle-class of 1974, to see how far we have (and haven’t) come. Includes contributions by Pablo Callejo, Gary Dumm, Danny Fingeroth, Peter Gullerud, Bob Hall, Ryan Inzana, Sabrina Jones, Peter Kuper, Terry Laban, Dylan Miner, Pat Moriarity, Emily Nemens, Joan Reilly, Sharon Rudahl, Nick Thorkelson, Anne Timmons, and Lance Tooks. Edited by Paul Buhle.
Sadly I can’t find a preview of this book online. If anyone knows of one, post a link in the comments or email me.
So to give you something to look at, and because I’m a pathetic JT freak, this gives me an excuse to post a video from YouTube. James Taylor wrote the beautiful song “Millworker” for the Broadway musical adaptation of Working. Here’s a cathartic rendition by Bruce Springsteen (if you want, skip to about 2:00 to get past the intro):
Spy vs. Spy: Danger! Intrigue! Stupidity! – $11.99
By Antonio Prohias
192 pages; published by Random House; available at Amazon.com
Don’t Go Stir Crazy!
Break Out the Duldrums!
Danger! Intrigue! Stupidity! locks up a collection of crazy clashes between those two bumbling MAD Spies!
“Spy vs. Spy” was the brainchild of Cuban-born political cartoonist Antonio Prohias, who fled his country after receiving death threats from Fidel Castro. Prohias settled in America, and in 1960 he began a 26-year run of Spy misadventures in MAD Magazine. This book by Prohias, long out of print, showcases his genius as an artist, storyteller, and graphic designer.
Classic fun and great for kids! If you enjoy this, there are two other books that have also been released, and have similar cover designs.
Stitches: A Memoir – $24.95
By David Small
336 pages; published by WW Norton; available at Amazon.com
The prize-winning children’s author depicts a childhood from hell in this searing yet redemptive graphic memoir.
One day David Small awoke from a supposedly harmless operation to discover that he had been transformed into a virtual mute. A vocal cord removed, his throat slashed and stitched together like a bloody boot, the fourteen-year-old boy had not been told that he had throat cancer and was expected to die. Small, a prize-winning children’s author, re-creates a life story that might have been imagined by Kafka. Readers will be riveted by his journey from speechless victim, subjected to X-rays by his radiologist father and scolded by his withholding and tormented mother, to his decision to flee his home at sixteen with nothing more than dreams of becoming an artist. Recalling Running with Scissors with its ability to evoke the trauma of a childhood lost, Stitches will transform adolescent and adult readers alike with its deeply liberating vision.
David Small has a site up to help promote the book, which has a slideshow of pages from the book, reviews, and other buzz and media. Now isn’t that convenient! What else could you need to entice you to check this out? A trailer, you say? OK:
Never read a graphic novel before? Haven’t read a comic book in years?
Here’s some brand new stuff coming out this week that I think is worth a look-see for someone with little to no history with comics. That means you should be able to pick any of these up cold without having read anything else. So take a look and see if something doesn’t grab your fancy. If so, follow the publisher links or Amazon.com links to buy yourself a copy. Or, head to your local friendly comic book shop.
Disclaimer: While it may seem like it, I do not live in the future. For the most part, I have not read these yet, so I can’t vouch for their quality. But, from what I’ve heard and seen, odds are good they just might appeal to you.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep #1 – $3.99
By Philip K. Dick & Tony Parker
32 pages; published by Boom! Studios
THE BOOK THAT INSPIRED THE FILM BLADE RUNNER COMES TO BOOM with backmatter by Warren Ellis!
Worldwide best-selling sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick’s award-winning DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? has been called “a masterpiece ahead of its time, even today” and served as the basis for the film BLADE RUNNER. BOOM! Studios is honored to present the complete novel transplanted into the comic book medium, mixing all new panel-to-panel continuity with the actual text from the novel in an innovative, ground-breaking 24-issue maxi-series experiment!
San Francisco lies under a cloud of radioactive dust. The World War has killed millions, driving entire species to extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remained coveted any living creature, and for people who couldn’t afford one, companies built incredibly realistic fakes: horses, birds, cats, sheep… even humans. Rick Deckard is an officially sanctioned bounty hunter tasked to find six rogue androids — they’re machines, but look, sound, and think like humans – clever, and most of all, dangerous humans. Rick Deckard, Pris, The Voight-Kampff Test, Nexus 6 androids, the Tyrell Corporation: join us for the publishing event of the year!
Oh and the by the way, this story inspired the movie Blade Runner.
Interesting idea. Usually when something is adapted to comic book, there’s a writer to re-work the source material. But this comic is apparently taking the original novel word-for-word and having an artist illustrate it out. Here’s a preview, so you can get a feel of what this will be like in execution. I’m not completely sold on the concept but I like that it’s something different, and it’s worth noting. And I’m sure sci-fi fans will want to check this out.
Creepy Comics #1 – $4.99
By a bunch of people
48 pages; published by Dark Horse Comics
What’s black and white and clawing its way onto your reading list? It’s the newly resurrected Creepy, of course! Now, don’t fret, my putrid pets — these new terror tales are cut from the same cursed cloth as the outlandish originals, telling contemporary horror stories with gorgeously ghoulish art from a lineup that’ll make you lose your head!
Original Creepy artist Angelo Torres teams up with devilish Dan Braun on “Hell Hound Blues”; Michael Woods and artist Saskia Gutekunst serve up a dose of “Chemical 13”; Neil Kleid and Brian Churilla provide “All the Help You Need” at a weird weight-loss camp; and jaundiced Jason Shawn Alexander brings his phenomenal painting skills to Joe Harris’s “The Curse”! Plus Bernie Wrightson, the return of “Loathsome Lore,” and more. All this, plus one classic story from Uncle Creepy’s dank dungeon, and you’ve got 48 freakish pages of terror to bring home to mummy!
In 1964, Creepy magazine resurrected the horror genre (huge in the ’50s) using a massively talented collection of artists and writers. Dark Horse is now resurrecting that resurrection. A bit derivative? Maybe. But modern comics have a host of very talented individuals who have injected new life into today’s horror stories in comics. Here’s a preview.
The Hunter, the first book in the Parker series, is the story of a man who hits New York head-on like a shotgun blast to the chest. Betrayed by the woman he loved and double-crossed by his partner in crime, Parker makes his way cross-country with only one thought burning in his mind—to coldly exact his revenge and reclaim what was taken from him!
Darwyn Cooke, the Eisner-Award-winning writer/artist of such classics as DC: The New Frontier, Selina’s Big Score, and The Spirit, now sets his artistic sights on bringing to life one of the true classics of crime fiction: Richard Stark’s Parker. Stark was a pseudonym used by the revered and multi-award-winning author, Donald Westlake.
Darwyn Cooke is fantastic. Here’s a preview. Classic hard-boiled crime. I can’t wait to get this.
Franklin Richards: School’s Out – $3.99
By Chris Eliopoulos
32 pages; published by Marvel Comics
Enough of the pencils, enough of the books, enough of teacher’s dirty looks! It’s summertime and school is out of session which gives Franklin more time to get into trouble. Join Franklin, his robot nanny, H.E.R.B.I.E., his teleporting dog, Puppy, in more adventures and laughs. Put on your shorts and come out and play!
This fun all-ages read is like if Calvin & Hobbes took place in the super-hero filled Marvel Universe. Lots of fun yet smart enough for older readers too.