Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
With the upcoming release of THOR, CAPTAIN AMERICA: FIRST AVENGER, GREEN LANTERN, and a cornucopia of other films hanging in the distance, COMPLEX magazine asked your humble narrator to compile the top 50 greatest comic-book-to-film adaptations.
And so I did. That’s the entire anecdote. Here’s the link. I think it’s a pretty solid list, possibly more for the omissions than anything else. I could be wrong… I admit this.
Raina Telgemeier is a superstar. Just ask any of the kids that shop at ROCKETSHIP. All summer long, one of the most frequently asked questions was “Do you have the new BABY-SITTERS CLUB yet?” Forget SECRET INVASION; Raina’s latest book was the most anticipated book of the season. Between adapting (and bringing a new generation of readers to) that beloved series, she also draws a terrific webcomic called SMILE, which will soon be published by Scholastic. She and her husband (cartoonist Dave Roman) are a fixture at most conventions with their “Comics Bakery” booth, and her lighthearted brushwork and smooth storytelling skills have made Raina a popular attraction for children and adults alike. While preparing for an upcoming BABY-SITTERS CLUB Volume 4 Release Party, she took the time to answer a few questions…. Continue Reading »
(cross posted at rocketshipstore.com)
Fred Van Lente has been a good customer and pal since the first day we opened the doors of the store. We’ve been on the sidelines to watch him finish writing his self-published ACTION PHILOSOPHERS, become one of the cornerstone creators of the all-ages MARVEL ADVENTURES line (including the hugely popular new POWER PACK series), and witness the rise of the INCREDIBLE HERCULES under his pen. HERCULES has been a sales juggernaut, and is one of the few books to come out of the WORLD WAR HULK event that has continued to gain momentum with fans. Last year’s MODOK’S 11 was one of the year’s best mainstream superhero comics, and currently, with a stove-top full of Marvel books on every burner, Fred has recently opened the self-publishing oven again with COMIC BOOK COMICS, a history of the comic book industry as drawn by his frequent collaborator, Ryan Dunlavey.
I always enjoy talking with Fred; he’s jovial and funny, smart and insightful, and happy to talk about craft, and the process of writing for a wide range of projects. Continue Reading »
This week, I ruminate on Democracy in Comics, Osamu Tezuka, and Meth-head Batman.
Part One: You can do it!
One thing that I love about comics is the fact that anyone can do it. Anyone can sit down with a blank sheet of paper, a fresh window on their computer, a stack of magazine clippings, etc, and create a series of sequential images that tell a story. Not everyone wants to, and not everyone will be good at it, but anyone could. This democracy in the comics art form makes me really happy; it feels like the tape-trading world of high school punk bands (oh shit- did I just totally date myself?), where a guitar, three chords, some drums, and an urge to write lyrics was really all you needed. Everything else was just garnish.
In comics, most everything is garnish. All you really need is a pencil, an afternoon to draw, and the wherewithal to follow through. There’s something to be said for a storytelling art form that is simultaneously incredibly complex, yet also wide open to anyone who wants to give it a whirl. I draw comics when I’m bored. I show them to my friends, and drawing them keeps me mentally stimulated throughout the day. It’s a brain exercise that is far more satisfying to me than Sudoku or a a Rubik’s cube. My girlfriend made a mini-comic last summer to trade at MoCCA. Anyone can do it.
I’ve reached a point in my life (birthday next week, depression to follow) where I am far more excited by a hand-stitched, home-made comic made by someone who has never read WATCHMEN, than I am by yet another by-the-books, middle-selling, professionally crafted comic by people who have spent their whole lives reading NEW WARRIORS. This is not a jab at superhero comics, which I love. Just a general malaise with the Sameness of it all. If someone who spends their days teaching pottery to kids, and has only ever painted in oils, decides to make a comic, that is something I’m interested in. That comic will have a angle and a point of view that is new to me. I find the approaches and craft decisions made by these folks to be entirely fascinating, and fresh, and energizing. This is as opposed to a book that is perfectly well made, but every line and word balloon placement speaks to hours spent devouring the works of John Byrne or Jim Shooter. I also spent those same hours, devouring those same comics, and now I want to see something drawn by someone who only ever read ANNE OF GREEN GABLES. Or maybe a medical doctor who was totally influenced by the early works of Walt Disney. Which brings us to… Continue Reading »
In Which I Ruminate on Stolen Bicycles, the Goddess of War, and Taking a Trip Uptown.
Part One: Boring Lifestyle Information (okay to skip)
In this past week, I have realized something fundamental, something no doubt obvious to the rest of the world; the anaerobic lifestyle begets time to read comics. Or, in other words, sitting on your ass prevents a stack of unread books from overwhelming you like The Blob. As several of you may know, I am not only a comics retailer, world class cat burglar, and general Bon Vivant, I am also a cycling enthusiast. If I have the time, and the world has provided a sunny day, you will find me pedaling madly across the Brooklyn Bridge, up the West Side Parkway, or anywhere that either a) strikes my fancy, or b) is located in proximity to whatever errand my girlfriend has assigned me.
What this ultimately means is that when I have two hours to myself, rather than enjoying a stack of lovely comics, I am sweating and getting a sunburn while trying not to hyperventilate. It’s one of the few small joys in my life, which is otherwise a slow crawl toward black oblivion.
However, while in midtown Manhattan last week, my beloved bike was stolen. It was entirely my own fault (dirty, dirty hubris and all that), which made the whole bleak scenario all the worse. On the train ride back to Brooklyn, I pulled the first volume of the Viz-big edition of DRAGONBALL from my bag, and read the whole dang thing straight through. Like that guy on the road to Damascus, I realized that maybe, just maybe, rather than this being the summer wherein I finally burn off twenty pounds and prevent the onset of diabetes, this will be the summer that sees me reading every book that is sitting in a pile by my “reading chair”.
With a newfound, less active purpose in life, I set off to do some damage. Continue Reading »
Alex Cox was supposed to begin his column today, wherein he would speak on books of interest from week to week. He was quite excited to write a lengthy review of FREDDY AND ME by Mike Dawson, which he loved very much and speaks highly of at many given opportunities. However, he has evidently been quite busy at work [increased foot traffic due to lovely spring weather, heavy releases of fine quality books, etc…], and also quite depressed [small lump on neck that is possibly cancer, new computer desk purchased by girlfriend that he hates but cannot complain about or she will yell, sighting of neglected elderly male, etc…]. Therefore, Alex has recruited a surrogate to complete his first column. I wish to apologize for his incompetence. – BC)
Comics should be F’N Awesome!!!
Hey hey, comic fan type people! My name is Gus (Mr. Gustav to my employees) and you probably know me from the seven successful bar/restaurants I own throughout the metro NY area. I don’t want to name them, but let’s just say that cocktails are twelve to Eighteen dollars, and there’s no happy hour, if you get my drift.
My latest spot is located in yelling distance of a certain comic shop, and ever since we opened, I find myself in there quite a bit, mostly shooting the breeze and keeping up with Captain America (my main dude), but also kicking back from time to time with the brave men and women of the BPRD. (I would totally high-five Abe Sapien’s fishy paw, no shit.)
So yesterday, I noticed that Alex (the counter guy, chubby, but not too bad) was rubbing his eyes and sighing a lot more than usual. I inquired as to his troubles, and I must have hit a nerve, because the guy unloaded! (full disclosure: I have been known to tend bar in my day, so I have the vibe of a
“friendly listener” type. I also speak in warm, soft tones. It helps the troubled dude open up, and makes the single ladies want to be in intimate surroundings with me. Sexually.)
After a laundry list of troubles that included some hypochondria, and a lot of complaining about some new computer desk, Alex mentioned that he hasn’t been able to start a column he’s been meaning to write. I said “Dude! I’m pretty much the smartest guy you know! I’m successful, loaded, handsome, and I happen to have a free hour today between a manicure and a lunch date with a Brazillian model (very hot)”. I told him I would get my feet polished up, then lift some of his burdens by writing a column for him, and then proceed to have some strip steak, a bloody mary, and satisfy my date (sexually). What can I say? I’m a humanitarian, and the poor guy looked like was about to cry. I can’t stand to see a man cry, by the way. Continue Reading »
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