Scott Allie

New Graphic Novels, Comic Books for You – 10/7/09

Never read a graphic novel before? Haven’t read a comic book in years?

Here’s some brand new stuff that came out the week of October 7 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.

Exurbia – $9.95
By Scott Allie & Kevin McGovern
112 pages; published by Dark Horse Comics; available at Amazon.com

Gage Wallace’s day seemingly couldn’t get any worse. After breaking up with his girlfriend, he finds himself framed for blowing up his apartment building — the latest in a string of deadly bombings in this doomed suburb. After the neighboring Fat City fell into the river during an earthquake, these hapless exurbanites have been waiting for their own town to sink. The only glimmer of hope is a talking rat, whose drunken ramblings are taken as the prophecy of a better time ahead.

Now Gage finds himself being pursued by well-intentioned friends, bored cops, and the bloodthirsty Bald Suzie, a local firearms enthusiast whose brother was killed in a recent explosion.

Scott Allie is the senior managing editor of Dark Horse Comics, the publisher of this graphic novel. So, it always kind of feels like he cheated by getting his work published by the company that employees him to select things to get published. (A similar thing happens every time Dark Horse releases something written by their president Mike Richardson.) Scott Allie typically leans toward horror, but this looks like a refreshingly weird departure. Here’s a preview to prepare you for the insanity.

Grandville – $17.95
By Bryan Talbot
108 pages; published by Dark Horse Comics; available at Amazon.com

Two hundred years ago, Britain lost the Napoleonic War and fell under the thumb of French domination. Gaining independence after decades of civil disobedience and anarchist bombings, the Socialist Republic of Britain is now a small, unimportant backwater connected by a railway bridge, steam-powered dirigible, and mutual suspicion to France. When a British diplomat’s murder is made to look like suicide, ferocious Detective-Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard stalks a ruthless murder squad through the heart of a Belle Epoque Paris, the center of the greatest empire in a world of steam-driven hansom cabs, automatons, and flying machines. LeBrock’s relentless quest can lead only to death, truth… or war.

* Following on the heels of his internationally acclaimed graphic novels The Tale of One Bad Rat and Alice in SunderlandGrandville is a fantastical and audacious roller-coaster ride, visually stunning and rich in memorable detail.

Dark Horse Comics put out another worthy publication this week: an anthropomorphic steampunk mystery set in an alternate history England. Here’s an all-too-short preview but it’s enough to convince me.

Masterpiece Comics – $19.95
By R. Sikoryak
64 pages; published by Drawn & Quarterly; available at Amazon.com

“A provocative collision.” –Entertainment Weekly

“A brilliant parable about literature, history and what telling stories tells us about ourselves.” –Toronto Star

“Disconcerting and fascinating… a canny fusion of overlapping fictional legacies” –Globe and Mail

HILARIOUS PARODIES OF CLASSIC LITERATURE REIMAGINED WITH CLASSIC COMICS

Masterpiece Comics adapts a variety of classic literary works with the most iconic visual idioms of twentieth-century comics. Dense with exclamation marks and lurid colors, R. Sikoryak’s parodies remind us of the sensational excesses of the canon, or, if you prefer, of the economical expressiveness of classic comics from Batman to Garfield. In “Blond Eve,” Dagwood and Blondie are ejected from the Garden of Eden into their archetypal suburban home; Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray is reimagined as a foppish Little Nemo; and Camus’s Stranger becomes a brooding, chain-smoking Golden Age Superman. Other source material includes Dante, Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, bubblegum wrappers, superhero comics, kid cartoons, and more.

Sikoryak’s classics have appeared in landmark anthologies such as RAW and Drawn & Quarterly, all of which are collected in Masterpiece Comics, along with brilliant new graphic literary satires. His drawings have appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, as well as in The New YorkerThe Onion, Mad, and Nickelodeon Magazine.

Some of the references might be missed but this is a lot of fun. If you or someone you know are particularly well read in classic literature, you or that someone will get a huge kick out of this. All of the parodies are extremely well done. Very funny. For a bit more information, here’s Sikoryak’s Masterpiece Comics page on his site.

Bloom County: Complete Library Vol. 1 – $39.99
By Berkeley Breathed
288 pages; published by IDW Publishing; available at Amazon.com

Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County was one of the most popular and critically acclaimed newspaper strips of all time. Bloom County ran from December 8th, 1980 to August 6th, 1989 and was published in an astounding 1200 newspapers on a daily basis. The huge popularity of Bloom County spawned a merchandizing bonanza, as well as two spin-off strips, Outland and Opus. The Bloom County Library Volume 1 highlights the first time the entire run of the immensely popular Bloom County strip has been collected in beautifully designed hard cover books with exceptional reproduction.

If you didn’t live through the 1980s with some kind of conscious awareness of current events, this might not resonate with you much but for those of us that did, this might be required reading. (There are occasional “context pages” that help clear up some of the references.) My parents still have a Bill the Cat stuffed animal that I gave to them for Christmas one year. A planned 5 volumes will collect the entire strip’s published life. Volume 2 is already out. Here’s Berkeley’s site with more info and the publisher link above has a preview.

Desperate Times – $14.99
By Chris Eliopoulos
128 pages; published by IDW Publishing; available at Amazon.com

Chris Eliopoulos’ Desperate Times is a comic strip-style humor series about two twenty-something guys, their pet drunken sloth, and their journey from early adulthood lives into a married life for one, and continuing single life for the other.

Considering the quality of today’s comic strip pages, I’m kind of surprised this strip was never picked up. Maybe Chris Eliopoulous never submitted it to the syndicates for consideration. It’s a fun strip that flew completely under the radar. Check it out! The artist has a new web-strip running now called Misery Loves Sherman.

Joe and Azat – $10.95
By Jesse Lonergan
104 pages; published by NBM ComicsLit; available at Amazon.com

Joe is an American in the strange land of Turkmenistan who finds a good friend in Azat, a Turkmen dreamer whose optimism knows no bounds. With tales of doomed desert cab rides, nights of endless vodka shots, unlikely Turkmen business schemes, and secret girlfriends, Lonergan captures not only the bizarreness of living in a country where the president for life launches copies of his poetry books into space, outlaws gold teeth and renames the months and days, but also reveals that there is hope in seemingly hopeless situations. Based loosely on Lonergan’s Peace Corps experience in the former Soviet republic.

Looks like a fascinating look at a country’s culture through the eyes of an American. Here’s a preview with a great scene of Joe freaking out while Turkmen deal with an overheated car. Here’s the artist’s blog.

That’s it for this week. Will try to post the week for October 14th soon now that I’m back from my vacation.

New to Comics? New Comics for You! 7/1/09

(Little late this week, with all of the excitement.)

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.

Finding Nemo: Reef Rescue #1 – $2.99
By Marie Croall & Erica Leigh Currey
32 pages (?); published by Boom! Studios

The biggest selling DVD of all time comes to comics! Nemo, Dory and Marlin have become local heroes, and are recruited to embark on an all-new adventure. Their reef is mysteriously dying and no one knows why! Facing dangerous waters and incredible odds, Nemo travels the great blue sea to save the one thing that matters most of all–home.

Yay, comics for kids! They really DO exist… sometimes… sporadically.

Boom! Studios (yes, the exclamation point is really supposed to be there) has begun putting out comics based on the Pixar movies and the Muppets. The Muppets one in particular has been getting great reviews. They’ll soon be putting out comics starring the classic Disney characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.

Solomon Kane Volume 1: The Castle of the Devil – $15.95
By Scott Allie & Mario Guevara
128 pages; published by Dark Horse Books; available at Amazon.com

Robert E. Howard’s vengeance-obsessed puritan begins his supernatural adventures in the haunted Black Forest of Germany in this adaptation of Howard’s “The Castle of the Devil.” When Solomon Kane stumbles upon the body of a boy hanged from a rickety gallows, he goes after the man responsible — a baron feared by the peasants from miles around. Something far worse than the devilish baron or the terrible, intelligent wolf that prowls the woods lies hidden in the ruined monastery beneath the baron’s castle, where a devil-worshiping priest died in chains centuries ago.

* This team’s debut Kane story is available for free at myspace.com/darkhorsepresents.

* “Solomon Kane is one of the toughest Robert E. Howard heroes to adapt to the comics page, but Scott Allie and Mario Guevara have done a stunning job. Unsettling, moody and eerily beautiful, their Kane is absolutely worthy of his creator.” -Kurt Busiek

* Collects the Solomon Kane five-issue miniseries.

Those wacky puritans. Always gunning people down in vengeance. OK, not really wacky, but pretty cool art, and classic pulp-style adventure comics. In case you don’t know, Robert E. Howard is the guy that created and wrote Conan the Barbarian, to give you an idea of what to expect. For an even better idea of what to expect, click on that MySpace link.

Greek Street #1 – $1.00
By Peter Milligan & Davide Gianfelice
40 pages; published by DC Comics’ Vertigo

“Sex, death, ambition, revenge and a reminder that some stories are too true and too dangerous to ever die. GREEK STREET crackles with Promethean fire.” — Grant Morrison

You’re a boy from the hood. You’re brought up rough in a children’s home, trying to stay out of trouble but usually failing. Then at 18 you decide to track down your mother. Within hours of finding her, she’s lying naked and dead at your feet. So you run to Greek Street. And that’s when your troubles really begin…

Boasting a cast of sexy strippers, murderous gangsters, body-snatching mad women and a disturbed young girl who can see the future, GREEK STREET is Peter Milligan’s reimagining of those brutal and visceral tragedies that graced the Theater of Dionysus in Ancient Greece – bloody tales about incest, homicide, beautiful oracles, all-knowing choruses, kings, monsters and gods – played out on the mean streets of modern-day Red-Light London.

Milligan – best known for his super-smart Vertigo work like SHADE THE CHANGING MAN, HUMAN TARGET and now HELLBLAZER– joins forces with illustrator Davide Gianfelice (NORTHLANDERS) to create an epic ongoing series that’s both familiar yet completely new and always with the bloody, visceral edge that makes it a Vertigo book. Take a trip to GREEK STREET where the old stories are not through with us yet.

Come on, a brand new comic by two great creators for $1? That’s worth the risk. Easy. Remixing Ancient Greek plays? OK, you’ve got my attention. This PDF preview runs down the cast of characters and their Ancient Greece analogues.

Existence 2.0 #1 – $3.50
By Nick Spencer & Ronald Salas
32 pages; published by Image Comics

Self-absorbed physicist Sylvester Baladine finds his consciousness transferred into the body of the hitman who just killed him! Things don’t seem too bad until his daughter is kidnapped by the same people who “killed” him. Now, he’s forced to dig up his past and solve his own murder… inadvertently making himself a target once more.

I really enjoy the voice of the main character, despite him being rather unlikeable. 5-page preview.

This is one of those great weeks where there are actual comic books that I can recommend. Usually I have to stick to graphic novels for something accessible. Yay for that!

Far Arden – $19.95
By Kevin Cannon
400 pages; published by Top Shelf Productions; available at Amazon.com

Meet Army Shanks — crusty old sea dog and legendary brawler of the high Arctic seas! He’s got just one mission: to find the mythical island paradise known as Far Arden, which lies hidden (so they say) in the wintry oceans of the far North. But there’s more than just water standing between Shanks and his goal: he’ll have to contend with circus performers, adorable orphans, heinous villains, bitter ex-lovers, well-meaning undergraduates, and the full might of the Royal Canadian Arctic Navy! Not to mention he’s not so sure how to get to Far Arden in the first place…

In his first solo graphic novel, Kevin Cannon (THE STUFF OF LIFET-MINUS) proves himself a master spinner of yarns. FAR ARDEN is an epic journey through a world not quite our own, written and drawn with strokes bold and swift. As readers hurtle toward the stunning conclusion, Cannon assembles countless details, characters, and relentless plot twists into an astonishing whole far greater than the sum of its parts. Thrilling, eccentric, lusty, genuinely moving, and often hilarious (with sound effects that alone are worth the price of admission), FAR ARDEN may be the best adventure comic you’ll read all year.

Here’s a 7-page preview. This looks really funny!

Nelson Mandela: The Authorized Comic Book – $27.95
By the Nelson Mandela Foundation & Umlando Wezithombe
204 pages; published by W.W. Norton; available at Amazon.com

The fantastic, heroic life of Nelson Mandela, brought to life in this landmark graphic work.

Nelson Mandela’s memoir, Long Road to Freedom, electrified the world in 1994 with the story of a solitary man who, despite unbelievable hardships, brought down one of the most-despised regimes in the world. Fifteen years after the publication of that classic work comes this fully authorized graphic biography, which relays in picture form the life story of the world’s greatest moral and political hero—from his boyhood in a small South African village to his growing political activism with the ANC, his twenty-seven-year incarceration as prisoner 46664 on Robbens Island, his dramatic release, and his triumphant years as president of South Africa. With new interviews, firsthand accounts, and archival material that has only recently been uncovered, this visually dramatic biography promises to introduce Mandela’s gripping story to a whole new generation of readers.

“You know that you’ve become really famous the day that you discover that you have become a comic character.” —Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela will be 91 years old on July 18th. This might be the first authorized biography in comic book form of someone still living. If not, it’s certainly notable that this will contain information not present in previous non-comic biographies of Mandela. Here’s an interview by Publisher’s Weekly with Verne Harris of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Sure to be inspiring. And I love that quote.