How Lee & Kirby's "Fantastic Four" Birthed the Marvel Universe, Part 1
You know him from all of his excellent contributions to The Line it is Drawn over the last couple of years, and now Joshua Gowdy has a brand-new comic book out TODAY from MonkeyBrain Comics! It is called Skinned and it is a fascinating tale about a world where optical illusions are the rule of the day and the elite get to see the world as they choose to see it. But what happens when one young heiress decides to see the world beyond? Read on to see some preview pages from the comic book, which is on sale RIGHT NOW!
Raina Telgemeier continues her impressive stretch of exemplary comic book works with her excellent original graphic novel, Sisters.
The plot of the comic is that Raina, her sister Amara and her younger brother and her mother go on a long car trip from Northern California to Colorado for a family reunion when Raina is just entering into teenhood.
This is intercut with flashbacks detailing the evolution of Raina and Amara’s relationship up until this point, from the early days when all Raina could think about is having a sister….
to when she can’t remember EVER wanting a sister!
Throughout her career, Telgemeier has been exceptional at nailing through her character work and her writing a tone that resonates as practically universal. You don’t need to have had a sister to instantly empathize with the situations that she presents to you. There is that sense of “oh, I know exactly that feeling” that most writers WANT to evoke in their readers but few can – and Telgemeier does it seemingly effortlessly (I don’t mean it comes easy to her, I mean that she can set a scene perfectly in, like, two panels).
Also, like all good autobiographical writers, Telgemeier adroitly handles the delicate balance that comes with how you depict yourself and your family when you’re telling a story. You obviously don’t want to make it look like you were always right, but by the same token, you don’t want to idealize the rest of your family either. You want to try to tell the truth as best as you can see it – and there are moments where Raina does not come off well and there are moments where her sister does not come off well. But the thing they ALWAYS come off as is realistic and human. The depiction of Raina’s older cousin was especially powerful in this regard, as Raina is willing to show the awful indifference older kids have to younger ones and the painful double-sided feeling of being angry at the older cousin for ignoring her but also searching for any drop of attention she offers. So well depicted (and you have to love the bit where we see a thirteen-year-old’s take on what adult conversations are like – it is more or less spot on, to be honest).
A couple of slight problems I had with the series were as follows:
1. Plot-wise, Sisters did not did not have as strong of a through line as the previous book in the series, Smile, did. That is natural enough, though, as Smile had an amazing framework to go with, as Telgemeier hung it around the development of her dental problems, so she had a clear spot to begin and a clear spot to end. While the trip Telgemeier chose certainly works well to spotlight the differences between Raina and Amara, the switch to the flashbacks don’t always work thematically. Sometimes they come off as almost perfunctory – “Okay, X amount of pages have passed, time for another flashback.” Both elements on their own are very good, but they’re sometimes awkwardly put together.
2. On the one hand, the fact that Amara is more in touch with the tension between Raina’s parents because Raina is so good at putting up walls to isolate herself is PERFECT. That’s such a great piece of character work. On the other hand, it almost reads as though the parents’ relationship is being set up for its own book, which is fair enough, of course, as I’d love to read more autobiographical work from Telgemeier, but as a result that plot sort of ends on a bit of an anti-climax. But hey, I guess that’s how life sometimes works, too, right? No pat endings.
Anyhow, this is an excellent comic book by one of the top comic book creators out there. Go get it, people! My wife bought a copy for her sister but her six-year-old nephew got a hold of it instead and he loved it. This book is for ALL ages, people!
I tried to do something different for this review of Eric Trautmann, Brandan Jerwa and Steve Lieber’s excellent original graphic novel, Shooters, and I just plain screwed it up. I liked the book so much that I thought it would be interesting to see what actual soldiers thought of the book. So when it came out, I bought a copy and lent it to a buddy of mine who was in the Army years ago to get his opinion. He loved it, as well, and when I was asking him about the book he gave me the exact insights I was hoping for. So that inspired me to go further and I bought another copy and asked if he could give the two copies to other friends of his from his Army days (he always tells me about how all his old Army pals ask him about comics a lot. It’s always amazing to me how many late 40 year old guys have fond memories about their comic-reading days) so I could get their reactions, as well. He agreed. But now, four months later, I still haven’t received any word from them. So my apologies to the creative team of this great comic for delaying my review of the book for something that I thought would be a clever approach and instead turned out to fail miserably.
The reason I wanted to hear from an actual member of the military is because I was absolutely fascinated by the way that Trautmann and Jerwa spotlight that unique experience military service gives people, something that separates them from civilians and as we see in Shooters, provides a tremendous obstacle in trying to recover from the trauma of combat when you return home.
A. David Lewis, the writer of last year’s best graphic novel, Some New Kind of Slaughter, has a nifty new webcomic strip running in The Boston Phoenix. It’s called Brave Play, and it’s drawn by Matt Roscetti. It takes place over the course of the 1948 baseball season (it began running just when the season began) and is about certain teams manipulating Native American spirits to benefit their clubs. So far we’ve seen a few spooky things, the introduction of the main characters, and some machinations of the plot. Lewis, presumably, chose 1948 for at least two reasons I can think of: It was the year after Jackie Robinson integrated baseball (the first few strips deal with the Negro Leagues) and 1948 was the year the Cleveland Indians won their last World Series, beating the Boston Braves. Twenty-four strips have been published as of this afternoon, but each are 3-4 panels and you can get caught up fairly quickly. Lewis is a fine writer, and there’s already a lot going on in the strip, both plot-wise and metaphysical-wise (baseball always seems to bring out the romantic nature of writers). Roscetti’s art is rough but works pretty well for the rough-and-tumble days of the late 1940s. I encourage you to go check it out!
Casanova is back, baby! And it’s at Marvel, through their Icon imprint. Whoo-bleepin’-hoo!!!!!!!!!
Sadly, it will probably sell many, many, many more copies even though the original was $1.99 per issue and this … won’t be (to be fair, the issues will be combined, so the price won’t be too prohibitive). But damn, this is a great comic book. I already own the damned issues and I may have to buy them again. Seriously – I’m so freakin’ stoked for this.
Super Martian Robot Girl is a frequent segment on the popular children’s television series, Yo Gabba Gabba.
Originally designed as a live action segment, it was reworked as a short animated story with artwork by Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer.
A sample story has the young hero called to help a group of people on the street when a monster approaches them. Super Martian Robot Girl figures out that the monster is only trying to ask them a question (about whether they like his haircut), and saves the day by letting them know that you shouldn’t judge people solely on their appearance!
Short one. Not much to say, I guess, but I am full of enthusiasm.
Honestly, I did have some trepidation when I picked these up. This series was recommended in the comments to Burgas’ Fun Comics post, and it sounded interesting enough to overcome my anti-Manga bias. Which is pretty strong. (Except for Astro Boy.) Maybe it’s that I’m too attached too rhythms and storytelling structures of America comics, maybe its’ the fact that Japanese culture scares the crap outta me* – Either way, my distaste is probaly based more in personal prejudices than the quality of the work. But it’s still going to influence my reading, even if it’s not based in logic.
Continue Reading »
1) Ya know, drawing good is kind of overrated. All that ultra-detailed George Perez crap, or that Jaime Hernandez thing where the figure drawing is note perfect every single time? “Meh,” sez I. We don’t need it.
I figure this out ’cause I’m reading Jason’s “I Killed Adolf Hitler,” and I’m doing this thing that I do whenever I read new stuff from Jason which is just freaking out because he’s so good at what he does. Continue Reading »
Today, a new book comes out from Boom! Studios called Mr. Stuffins, and I think it quite nicely demonstrates the differences between a comic book story and a film script. This is the exact sort of high concept story that, as a film, would be so dumbed down and ruined by “too many cooks in the kitchen” syndrome that it would probably be wretched. Holding it to just the creative team of the comic, though, the high concept was executed sharply enough to make this first issue enjoyable, if perhaps a bit on the cliched side. What IS the high concept? The story stars a computerized teddy bear (think Teddy Ruxpin) whose programming is switched with some sort of special government robot/cyborg/whatever soldier program – leading to a young boy’s teddy bear acting as a tough-as-nails government operative. Continue Reading »
‘Mighty Skullboy Army’ is a comic by Jacob Chabot (http://www.beetlebugcomics.com) which I first spotted in a Dark Horse anthology trade highlighting up-and-coming cartoonists.
For ages, I mourned of ever seeing more. The art was crisp, the gags funny, and hell, I have a real weakness for monkeys and I’ll be damned if Unit 2 isn’t the cutest li’l dickens!
So anyway, the upshot is that Dark Horse has finally released a digest-sized collection of ‘The Mighty Skullboy Army’ and I am a happy, happy feller. Continue Reading »
Graphic Classics has now done more than a dozen comic collections adapting the works of great writers, and each one has been highly entertaining and quite affordable ($12) for the amount of story contained in each volume. Their most recent entry, devoted to the work of Rafael Sabatini, is no exception to this trend. Continue Reading »
Ever hear the story about how the film Speed was originally intended to be a sequel of Die Hard? As it were, Die Hard, as such an interesting action film, completely changed the realm of action films in the scope of its influence, to the point where there was a cottage industry made up of films that essentially copied the structure of Die Hard. Under Siege, Speed, Air Force One, Toy Soldiers, Con Air, Passenger 57…the list goes on. Similarly, the idea of taking a well-known story and viewing it from the perspective of a character other than the usual protagonist is also an idea that was so dramatically influential that we soon saw a variety of similar approaches, with Wide Sargasso Sea being one of the more notable examples. However, the fact that the structure follows a certain pattern does not mean that the work, itself, is not notable and novel. This brings us to The Lone and Level Sands, A. David Lewis’ re-writing of the Book of Exodus from the perspective of Ramses, which, I believe, is a familar style of story, but handled with enough care and intelligence to still be a worthwhile and recommended read. Continue Reading »
As Fred Van Lente Day draws to a close for this year, after you have put out all the ceremonial Van Lente candles and cleared up all the wrapping paper from the presents, I will now explain to you why Silencers: Black Kiss, a comic from Moonstone Press, written by Fred Van Lente, and illustrated by Steve Ellis (colors by Dae Lim Yoo). Continue Reading »
It’s good. Continue Reading »
I am sure a bunch of good books came out this week, like Amazing Joy Buzzards, Astro City, Authority: Revolution and Conan, but I am confident enough in saying that, even before reading those books, that I think that Fin Fang Four was the best book of the week. Continue Reading »
Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.