Over the past 40 years, Tom Batiuk’s Funky Winkerbean has transitioned from a gag-a-day comic strip about a high school to an ongoing chronicle of pure, abject misery. Thanks to the commentary on Josh Fruhlinger’s Comics Curmudgeon, I am now completely obsessed with it, which is why I spend a little time every month rounding up its finest examples of crushing despair.
After last month hit rock bottom with the worst Funky Winkerbean strips on record, I was dreading diving into September's offerings even more than usual. That said, it seems like Batiuk has decided to take the month off from pure despair, instead taking a hard left turn into a set of comics that make absolutely no sense. Unless you count the one where an elderly woman is so frustrated with her neighbors that she literally renounces God, I mean. That one could really go either way.
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.”
Shing Yin Khor is a comics creator who, while primarily a writer, does a little of everything. She publishes many of her comics like Marie and Jeanne through her own small press, Sawdust Press, in addition to being an editor there, and also does comics on The Toast and Bitch.
If you're picking up Thor #1 this week, by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman, to see the much-hyped new Thor in action, you're going to be a little disappointed. While it's a very good comic that promises great stories to come, the new Thor only appears in two pages that you might already have seen floating around online.
Rather than launch straight in to the new Thor's adventures, this first issue teases her arrival, leaving the action for next month -- presumably in an effort to hold as much of the first issue readership as possible. As a result this issue feels more like the end of the last Thor title than the start of a new one.
When you consider the entire history of Magneto, it's pretty ridiculous. He's been assumed dead at least half-a-dozen times; he's probably flip-flopped from villain to hero more times than that; and he's been resurrected as both a Nelson-haired clone (millennials: Google "Nelson band" to get how funny that is) and a star-headed Taoist. Mistakes have been made with the character; mistakes so big that the character's retcons and course-corrections have diminished his stature, leaving readers to wonder; Just who the hell is Magneto?
In Marvel's Magneto, by Cullen Bunn, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Javier Fernandez, and Jordie Bellaire, that question is finally getting a good answer.
It's always the way isn't it? The very day I put in my order for a Spanish edition of Belgian artist Olivier Schrauwen's Mowgli's Mirror, Retrofit announce they'll be publishing it in English next year, as part of their 2015 line-up. That's a really nice acquisition for Retrofit, who have been going from strength to strength since their inception, with their slate for next year looking especially strong with books from Andrew Lorenzi, Kate Leth, Laura Knetzger, Laura Lannes, Maré Odomo, Matt Madden, Sophie Franz, Yumi Sakugawa, and Steven Weissmann.
Q: Just re-read Gotham Central and it got me wondering, what's the deal with the Spectre? -- @BatIssues
A: The Spectre was originally created in 1940 by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Baily, but it's worth noting that some sources -- including legendary editor Roy Thomas, who's about as big a fan of DC's Golden Age titles as you're likely to find -- give Siegel full credit for the whole concept, and that's the first interesting point. After all, Siegel is, as you may have heard, the co-creator of arguably the most enduring and significant character in comics history, who's known for his incredible physical strength: Slam Bradley.
Welcome back to Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men, a weekly podcast in which X-Perts Rachel Edidin and Miles Stokes explore the ins, outs, and retcons of fifty years of Marvel’s greatest superhero soap opera!
This week: Professor X is (canonically!) a jerk, Miles has Sidrian Hunter feelings, Kitty Pryde is Clarissa Darling with a dragon, we introduce a drinking game, the X-Men do Barbarella, Rachel has a ‘shipper moment, Rogue joins the team, Storm gets a haircut, Mastermind is still the worst, and Madelyne Pryor is underrated.
Censorship is a serious issue. It's one of the reasons that we here at ComicsAlliance always show our support to organizations like the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and rally behind creators who have been subjected to governmental restrictions on their work.
Occasionally, though, there are incidents of people pushing to get books banned that slide right past concerning and directly into the world of hilarious ineptitude.
Such is the case with Reverend Phillip Missick of Texas's amazingly named King of Saints Tabernacle Church, who pushed for the Cleveland, TX public library to remove manga like Matsuri Hino's Vampire Knight from its library, owing, of course, to it being a demonic product of Satan that would drag otherwise saintly children directly into the gaping maw of Hell itself. That, of course, is nothing new. What makes it amazing is that he didn't stop there, going so far as to declare pretty much everything around the manga to be the product of Satan, including a few Harry Potter toys, a bouquet of dried roses, and the actual room itself to be "occultic and demonic."
Listen: Michel Fiffe's Copra is great. If you've been reading ComicsAlliance for any significant amount of time -- or even if you've just been listening to the Every Story Ever segments on the War Rocket Ajax podcast where we've ranked it above stuff like "Robin Dies At Dawn," JLA: Year One and Grant Morrison's first arc on New X-Men -- then you already know that.
But at the same time, you could be forgiven for thinking that maybe, after that first run of twelve amazing DIY comics, Fiffe might've slipped a bit. After all, it's pretty rare for something to stay that good forever, and now that Fiffe's picking up mainstream work from Marvel in the pages of All New Ultimates and Dynamite with Captain Victory, you'd have a good reason to think that Copra would be on the back burner. But if you did, you would be wrong.
If, for whatever reason, you haven't been reading the second act of Copra, where Fiffe turns his attention to spotlighting individual members of the team, then you're missing out on some of the most amazing comics of the year -- and the latest issue, where Fiffe drops a treatise on and rejection of Randian objectivisim in the form of a story about a superhero sent to an interdimensional prison, is the best of the bunch by far.
As a man who reads superhero comics, I confess that I share a commonly-held prurient interest in big-chested, long-legged heroes in skin-baring costumes that barely cover their naughty bits -- or as I like to call him, Namor.
Sadly, Namor is pretty much alone in his category. Contrary to the perception that male heroes in comics are frequently sexually objectified, it's my experience that even Namor is only rarely presented as someone to lust over. Yet I'm fortunate that my tastes run towards the Hemsworth end of the scale. Like many straight men, I admire the kind of buff dudes that are the staple of superhero comics, even though they are rarely sexualized. If I shared the tastes of most of the women I know, I think I'd find superhero comics an even more frustratingly sexless wasteland.
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