It probably won't surprise anyone if I say that Archie Comics has published a lot of Christmas stories over the past 60 years, but you have to understand that when I say "a lot of Christmas comics," I mean a truly ridiculous amount. Just to give you an idea, there are two separate characters in the Archie universe -- Jingles and Sugarplum -- who are magical Christmas imps who use their powers to give the gang a hard time during the holidays. They have done stories like that so many times that they actually needed a spare.
And as you might imagine from the fact that I just used the phrase "magical Christmas imps," Archie's holiday stories tend to be a little weird. But none of them -- and I say this as someone with two paperbacks' worth of Archie Christmas comics -- skew quite as far into madness as the one where Little Archie meets the alien Santa Claus from Planet Peewee.
Outside of David Uzumeri, who spent a good portion of last week learning about Spiral Dynamics just so he could talk about Pax Americana in excruciating detail, I'm as big a fan of Grant Morrison as you're likely to find. For me, JLA, New X-Men, his seven year run on Batman and even the 11 issues of Aztek that he co-wrote with Mark Millar are easily on my list of the all-time greats. That said, if we're being completely honest with each other, I'm not that keen on his work outside of mainstream superheroes. I can take or leave The Invisibles and The Filth didn't do much for me, and while I like Joe the Barbarian a lot, that book basically has Snake-Eyes from G.I. Joe in it, so it barely even counts.
As a result, I wasn't really paying attention to Annihilator, the book Morrison and Frazer Irving are doing through Legendary, until the aforementioned Uzumeri was singing its praises. Curiosity got the better of me, so today I sat down with the first four issues to see if it was worth all the hubbub, and the result was that I liked it a lot. It's a bizarre and compelling sci-fi epic where Irving is doing some of the best work of his considerably impressive career -- and on top of that, it is quite possibly the most Grant Morrison comic of all time.
Noelle Stevenson is the future. Nimona, her celebrated and fantastical webcomic about a villain's shapeshifting sidekick, will be published as a graphic novel by HarperCollins in 2015; Lumberjanes, the Boom Studios series about a group of girl adventurers that she co-writes with Grace Ellis, has been promoted from miniseries to ongoing; Marvel has just announced that she's writing a story for the upcoming Thor Annual #1; and she's a writer on Disney’s Wander Over Yonder cartoon.
You're going to see a lot of Noelle Stevenson in the coming year. She's an outspoken, accomplished, and driven talent, and it's no surprise that everyone is suddenly taking notice. To better understand one of the industry’s most promising talents, ComicsAlliance sat down with Stevenson to talk about the indie scene, going legit, and the trials of a changing industry.
Q: What's the best modern comics run that not enough people have read or talk about? -- @talestoenrage
A: It's a sad fact of the comics industry, but there are a ton of great stories out there that never really get the recognition that they deserve, to the point where every time something new and exciting comes out, I always end up thinking something along the lines of "they better not Thor: The Mighty Avenger this one up." But while there are comics that get canceled too soon and long-running epics like Usagi Yojimbo that never seem to hog the spotlight, there's only one that really comes to mind when I start thinking about the truly buried treasures.
If you want to talk about the absolute best of the best of the under-appreciated comics, then you want to talk about Paul Grist's Jack Staff.
The Humble Bundle continues to be one of the best values in comic books, and as you might expect, this week they've turned their attention to the morespoooooky side of things. And by that, I mainly mean comics where Pinocchio uses his endless wooden nose to stab vampires.
In addition to several books without pictures -- which I find strange and frightening -- the current Horror Book bundle added a bunch of horror comics today, including The Mocking Dead by Fred Van Lente and Max Dunbar, a volume of Valiant's Shadowman by Peter Milligan and Roberto de la Torre, the first omnibus of Dark Horse's Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics, the first two issues of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla's Afterlife With Archie, and more.
The Dirty Diamonds booth at this year’s Small Press Expo was impossible to miss, both because of its bright signage and because of its eye-catching display of tote bags, zines about Weird Al Yankovic, and, of course, the Dirty Diamonds all-woman anthology.
Brighter still are its co-editors, Claire Folkman and Kelly Phillips, who were among the most ardent lovers of comics in the room -- and with good reason. The Dirty Diamonds anthology series is their passion project, collecting semi-autobiographical comics by women since 2011, and it's enjoyed particular success of late. Their recent Kickstarter was a hit; the Library of Congress singled Dirty Diamonds out for inclusion in its permanent collection; and the contributor list for the latest volume reads like an Ignatz Award nominations list from 2020.
Eager to learn more, ComicsAlliance hunkered down behind their bustling booth to talk the future of crowdfunding, apartments full of books, and just how rad the women of comics really are.
Being a subscriber to Youth in Decline's excellent Frontier series of monographs by artists such as Hellen Jo, Sam Alden, Emily Carroll, and more, doesn't make me any less excited whenever the publisher shares sneak peeks and information about upcoming books. The sixth (and final for 2014) installment of Frontier is a new, original comic work by the amazing Emily Carroll titled 'Ann by the Bed,' and once again promises to be another perfectly executed slice of eerie horror from the cartoonist.
Grant Morrison has been talking about his film passion project, a psychedelic Western called Sinatoro, since at least 2010. It was even promoted with a poster. But the writer's screenplay has ended up taking the route so many projects take on the way to becoming movies: It will be a comic first.
Morrison will work with artist Vanesa Del Rey on the series, which will come out some time next year from Black Mask Studios, the comics and transmedia company launched last year by comics artist Ben Templesmith, writer Steve Niles, Bad Religion guitarist/songwriter Brett Gurewitz and Matt Pizzolo of Occupy Comics. It's one piece of a big and not too shabby slate of new comics coming from the publisher in the next year, the highlights of which you can check out below.
Back when Disney acquired Marvel in 2010, people wondered how long it would be before the publisher became Mickey Mouse Comics.That quite clearly hasn't happened --the publisher putting out most of the Mickey Mouse comics coming out right now is Fantagraphics -- but that doesn't mean that Disney isn't ripe for some sharp satire in the pages of some independent comics.
Enter Rickey Rouse Has a Gun, the new graphic novel by writer/director Jörg Tittel and artist John Aggs. In it, the title character (who is definitely a Rouse, not a mouse; the guy inside the costume is named Rick Rouse) deserts the U.S. Army and goes to work at a Fengxian Amusement Park, a Chinese theme park populated by such classic characters as "Ratman" and "Bumbo." But then terrorists attack and Ricky has to take charge.
It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët's Beautiful Darkness has been one of the undisputed standouts in the not unglorious year of comics 2014. Originating from the mind and sketch/notebooks of Marie Pommepuy (she, and partner Sébastien Cosset collaborate under the pen-name Kerascoët), the story of a group of tiny people springing from the body of a dead girl in the woods and the vicious lengths and efforts they go to to survive is appreciable on several, complex levels. One of the facets of great art is that it lingers in the mind, burrows and shifts, dredging up thought and questions, analyses, re-evaluation, and Beautiful Darkness is no different. And so, to accompany my original review, I've compiled a deconstruction of sorts presented here as various questions (answered and unanswered) and theories that dig further into the text and its potential readings.
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