This week, Chris and Matt talk about how Robin Rises Omega #1 by Peter Tomasi and Andy Kubert should be great, but falls short, possibly because it's a victim of its own marketing. Then, we talk about how Life With Archie #36 by Paul Kupperberg and Pat & Tim Kennedy is really enjoyable despite some weird tics. Then, we discuss the cool new sci-fi anthology, 2299, edited by Dylan Todd.
By all indications, Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa's comic The 99 is a huge success. It has even inspired an animated series and a series of theme parks. But the series and its creator have also run into some trouble.
In addition to earning criticism from American conservatives, the series has been called blasphemous by some Islamic clerics. They say the comic's core concept of 99 young heroes who reflect the 99 attributes ascribed to Allah in the Quran mocks the Islamic religion. Now, the Iraqi militant group ISIS, which has been systematically taking over cities in the country, is calling for Mutawa to be killed, and has even offered a reward.
Internet privacy is easily one of the most confusing realities of life in the 21st century. It's the best ongoing story in collective awareness, complete with heroes, villains, victims and martyrs, turning points, and insane plot twists that regularly put The Good Wife to shame. PRISM, Wikileaks, Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, XBox One, social engineering, News International, Anonymous, and even our stupid Facebook updates are all involved. Every player and plot-line are all tangled up in a worried knot that gets bigger and more complex every year. It's all one story, and we're all living it; spectators, beneficiaries, victims, and contributors. It's one of the defining issues of our age, a still-forming zeitgeist that could be explored for years to come.
Just not in comics. Because nobody's going to top Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin, and Muntsa Vicente's The Private Eye.
Last week Meags Fitzgerald's new graphic memoir Photobooth: A Biography debuted and completely blew me away. Fitzgerald is an artist who works in a variety of mediums, including improv, comics, and photobooth photography.
Photobooth, published by Condundrum Press, is not just Fizgerald's love letter to the seemingly dying phenomenon of the chemical photobooth. The author intertwines historical information about the creation and evolution of the photobooth with stories about her interactions with them, and how they changed her life. It's a book about a woman who has come to passionately love something so much that it takes over too much of her life -- an idea that should resonate with many readers.
In the overwhelmingly male comic book industry, it has been a challenge for some editors and readers to see the ever growing number of talented women currently trying to make a name for themselves. With that in mind, ComicsAlliance offers Hire This Woman, a recurring feature designed for comics readers as well as editors and other professionals, where we shine the spotlight on a female comics pro on the ascendance. Some of these women will be at the very beginning of their careers, while others will be more experienced but not yet “household names.”
Speedster artist Claire Connelly can complete three-to-five pages per day, so it's no surprise that she's consistently busy with projects like her own webcomic The Last Outpost, Animals with writer Eric Grissom, and The Unauthorized Biography of Winston Churchill: A Documentary with writer Erica Schultz. In addition to being a penciller and inker, she's also a writer, letterer, and painter.
Each week, ComicsAlliance’s Chris Sims and Matt Wilson host the War Rocket Ajax podcast, their online audio venue for interviews with comics creators, reviews of the books of the week, and whatever else they want to talk about. ComicsAlliance is offering clips of the comics-specific segments of the show several days before the full podcast goes up at WarRocketAjax.com on Mondays.
This week, Chris and Matt talk at length about the five concurrent stories in Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke's Justice League #31, using Superman #32, by Johns and John Romita Jr., as a measuring stick for comparison. Once that examination is all over, they pivot to Michel Fiffe's Copra #15.
Last year, one of the comics I was most excited about picking up from HeroesCon was a "Flashlight Comic" by Andy Hirsch. The untitled story was a creepy little masterpiece of using the form, with black linework printed on clear plastic and superimposed over dark paper, with a flashlight-shaped piece of paper that you could slip between to "illuminate" a small circle of the page, exploring a strange and ruined house along with a stranded motorist. It was fantastic, full of tricks and surprises that made the reader an active participant in the story and conveyed a sense of fear better than almost anything I've ever read, and over the last year, I've wondered how Hirsch was going to top it, or if he was even going to bother.
Turns out that he did, and once again he's using paper comics to do things that you can only do with physical objects. The story he's telling this year is called Station 38, a journey through a deadly space station sold as a cube that you unfold as you read to form the floor plan that you're exploring along with the characters. And it's amazing.
SPX, the Small Press Expo, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and to celebrate, it's centering its entire 2014 convention on a much-read -- but not-often-discussed -- type of independent comic: strips from alt-weekly newspapers.
Late last week, organizers announced the first three major guests: Lynda Barry, the cartoonist behind Ernie Pook’s Comeek from The Chicago Reader; Jules Feiffer, the so-called godfather of the alt-weekly newspaper comic, and James Sturm, who co-founded The Onion and Seattle's The Stranger in addition to being an accomplished cartoonist and graphic novelist.
Q: Why do you think Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has survived and thrived for 30 years? -- @ballsmonkey
A: I have a whole lot of affection for the TMNT, and I don't think that's just because I was the perfect age to drag my parents to Pizza Hut so that I could get (and subsequently wear out) a VHS tape of the one where they fought the giant robot rats. Don't get me wrong, the nostalgia's a huge part of it, but it's not something that's unique to my age group. The fact is, if you've been a kid at any time in the past three decades, you've more than likely grown up loving those characters just as much as I did. And that in itself, the staying power that this strange franchise created by two dudes in a kitchen, is interesting.
The thing is, even though I tend to think of TMNT as the archetypical unlikely success, the more I think about it the less I think that it actually was all that unlikely.
Even if you don't know Jim Woodring's name, there's a decent chance you've seen his work somewhere in the past 30 years or so of comics. His character Frank was one of the pivotal indie comics characters of the mid-to-late '90s, and Woodring has written Star Wars and Aliens comics for Dark Horse.
Woodring's most personal work, however, has been in the series simply titled Jim, which ran in the late '80s and mid '90s, and which took a surreal look at the day-to-day life of Woodring (or at least a fictionalized version of him). Fantagraphics will be releasing the first-ever collection of Jim's 10 issues next month, and has released a 21-page preview, which you can check out below.