Welcome to “Report Card,” our week-in-review feature. If “Cheat Sheet” is your guide to the week ahead, “Report Card” is typically a look back at the top news stories of the previous week, as well as a look at the Robot 6 team’s favorite comics that we read.
So read on to find out what we thought about Daredevil, Buzzkill and more.
“I met up with Mike at San Diego Comicon for the release of COLT NOBLE at the Image Comics booth, and was really surprised to find he was suffering from MS. It had clearly not slowed him down at all artistically, and hadn’t put any kind of damper on his attitude. Via the Con Mike became friendly with all my collaborators, Steve Seeley, Mike Moreci, Mike Norton…everyone liked the dude immediately,” Tim Seeley said on Facebook. “Mike and I kept in touch, an I had him draw pages for me when he was in the mood or had time…a short H/S story, a Double Feature tale with writer James Asmus…he always made beautiful stuff. And every Christmas he sent me a card with a peanut butter and banana candy bar in the envelope. One year he sent me an ‘In N’ Out Burger” tee-shirt, because I’d mentioned how much I dig those burgers…Mike was just a cool guy that way. He was always thinking of cool things to make people smile whether it was with a partially melted gourmet candy or with his funny drawings of Dr. Who, Marvel superheroes, or Cassie Hack fighting Freddy….”
Our most sincere condolences go out to Mike’s family and friends.
George Perez, artist on The New Teen Titans, JLA/Avengers and many more wonderful comics, said on Facebook that his vision has deteriorated to the point where he is near-blind in his left eye and will require major surgery to correct.
“I need to report that my eye troubles have taken a bit of a downturn as my left eye has experienced some hemorrhaging, pretty much blinding me in that eye,” Perez said via Facebook. “This has necessitated my wearing an eyepatch in order to see a bit more clearly through my right eye. My eye doctor is continuing a combination of laser and injection surgery, but there is a possibility that I may require scalpel surgery in the near future.”
Perez added that he is still drawing and is “trying to maintain a positive, upbeat attitude.” Best wishes to Perez for a speedy recovery.
The Small Press Expo, or SPX, wrapped up last Sunday, putting the focus on alternative creators and comics. According to our own Chris Mautner, it was a really good — and really big — show.
“Like seriously, literally big,” he wrote. “Like, perhaps the biggest comic convention that didn’t have a Marvel or DC booth I’ve ever been to (and no, I’ve yet to go to San Diego). After all the problems they had with online registration this year, the show organizers decided to increase the floor show space by a third, so there were about 280 tables at the show this year. I think my jaw actually did drop when I first walked in the door. I’m not sure I realized there were that many small press cartoonists out there.”
Many of those small press cartoonists were honored in the annual Ignatz Awards, which were announced during the show. Michael DeForge took home three awards, while other winners included John Martz, Ethan Rilly and Jillian Tamaki.
Wizard World announced the addition of seven cities to its 2014 convention schedule, bringing the total to 15.
The new cities are: Atlanta; Louisville, Kentucky; Minneapolis; Richmond, Virginia; Sacramento, California; San Antonio, Texas; and Tulsa, Oklahoma. They’ll join returning shows in Portland, Oregon, New Orleans, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Chicago, Nashville, Austin, Texas, and Columbus, Ohio.
“Our mantra has been, ‘Give the fans a great experience, give the celebrities and creators a great experience, take care of our exhibitors, and everyone will want to come back,’” Wizard World Chairman and CEO John Macaluso said in a statement. “We’ve had such an overwhelmingly positive reaction to all our 2013 events, both first-year and existing shows, that it was obvious what the fans were telling us – ‘We want more!’”
Speaking of awards, several other awards and nominations were announced this week in addition to the Ignatz Awards. Gilbert Hernandez is the recipient of the 2013 PEN Center USA award for outstanding body of work in graphic literature. Gene Yang’s newest release, Boxers and Saints, is among the finalists for the 2013 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. And finally, the nominees were announced for the fourth annual Shel Dorf Awards, which will be presented at Detroit FanFare Oct. 25. Congrats to all the winners and nominees.
Storytellers: Mark Waid (writer) and Chris Samnee (artist)
Colorist: Javier Rodriguez
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramanga
Published by Marvel Comics
Daredevil #31 is a perfect collision of real-world events and superhero tropes, depicting a New York City in chaos after a George Zimmerman pastiche is found not guilty. Although Matt Murdock describes the defendant in question as “an entitled society harpy with a long and recorded history of bigotry,” Mark Waid is careful to emphasize that the verdict likely comes from the defense team’s skill and the prosecution’s failure to make its case. Waid wants the reader to know that, but for the villains of the issue, the verdict would have produced only the same kind of agitated disappointment as the result in the real Zimmerman trial. However, when the Sons of the Serpent hijack the prosecutor’s press conference to make it look like he’s encouraged all-out violence against the individual jurors, the city erupts into full-scale rioting. With a little help from Hank Pym’s ants, Daredevil manages to get things under control, but the last page sets up a doozy of a cliffhanger.
One of Waid’s more elegant touches (in terms of storytelling) is that the SOTS pretty much “plays the race card,” which is both diabolical and ironic on a number of levels. However, once the riots begin, Waid and Samnee turn their attention to action. A city angry at itself becomes another problem to solve. Accordingly, Samnee devotes a page’s worth of small-panel snapshots to the rioting, pulling back only to focus on Daredevil. The page itself is a feat of impressionistic efficiency, alternating silent images (a cop’s riot shield, slavering dogs, a bomb-throwing civilian) with more active panels featuring Daredevil’s narration. Immediately afterwards, the tone shifts from the dingy tear-gas oranges and yellows to the cool primary colors of Hank’s lab. The page with Hank then gives way to a three-page sequence of Daredevil rescuing the prosecutor, which is rendered with a steady progression of large, increasingly-crowded panels. By switching back to a more normal color palette, Rodriguez allows the situation to descend into violence while keeping the reader at an unsettling distance, as if nothing could be done to stop it.
I liked this issue because it presented a horrifyingly-believable situation in the context of a superhero-flavored world. Waid’s Irredeemable was a more explicit (and terrifying) extrapolation of a supervillain’s effect on society, but playing on current polarizations — and, in effect, letting the people do the villains’ work for them, without someone like Hate-Monger or a device like the Madbomb exerting any influence — is much more insidious. At its core Daredevil #31 is still a pretty traditional superhero story (Daredevil must stop terrorists from destroying Manhattan), but as usual, Waid, Samnee, and company have done it up in extremely-entertaining style. —Tom Bondurant
Writers: Donny Cates, Mark Reznicek
Artist: Geoff Shaw
Colorist: Lauren Affe
Cover Artist: Geoff Shaw
Published by Dark Horse Comics
For the most part, trying to create a new superhero seems like a mug’s game: It’s all been done before, and much better, by someone else. But then along comes this comic, which puts a whole set of twists on the standard superhero story. Ruben, our hero, gets his superpowers from drugs and alcohol, which means when he is strongest, he is also least in control. Thus his power is also his greatest point of vulnerability. That tension alone would make for an interesting comic, but the writers have also built an entire world around this concept that we are just beginning to glimpse in this first issue. Shaw’s spiky, sketchy art is perfect for the gritty subject matter (in one panel, the hatching on Ruben’s jeans looks like fingerprint smudges), and Affe’s coloring is versatile enough to match the changing atmosphere and mood of each scene. Overall, this is a standout debut comic and a rare truly original twist on the superhero genre. —Brigid Alverson
Written and Drawn by Gabriel Hardman
Published by Monkeybrain Comics
Considering that I initially fell in love with the art of Gabriel Hardman when I saw it in full color, I am pleasantly delighted to realize I appreciate his art even more in this format: stark black and white. The travels of a man and a stolen dog is a story that takes some additional quirky turns. I think that is likely what has hooked me to this tale, I have no idea where it will take me next and what characters the reader may run across. —Tim O’Shea
Created by Denis St. John, Joseph Lambert, Jason Lutes, Donna Almendrala, Bill Bedard, Amelia Onorato, Allie Kleber
Published by Penny Lantern
The story of how Bingo Baby was created may be as interesting as the story told in the comic, and I don’t mean that as a slight against the creators or the final comic. As noted on the Kickstarter page for the project, it’s “the first of what we hope will be a series of experiments in collaborative comics storytelling.” Each of the creators is a graduate of the Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont, and to put this book together, here’s what they did:
“For this, our first project, the five creators developed the narrative using Fiasco, a ‘story game’ by Jason Morningstar. Fiasco is a structured improvisational acting exercise which allows players to create a complete, character-driven narrative over a single 2-5 hour session. For Bingo Baby, each contributor played a single character, and scenes were acted out one at a time, creating interactions and dialog that could never have emerged from a single creator. A digital recording of the 3-hour play session was transcribed and edited into a final script, which was then adapted into comics form by the same five creators who had acted it out.”
It sounds like a recipe for potential disaster, doesn’t it? Fortunately, it isn’t; the experiment, I’m happy to say, is a success. What came out of their “story game” is a great comic, a character-driven one where each of the players has a unique voice. It’s centered around the lives of six different characters, all connected in some way or another, set around a bingo hall (hence the title). Lutes served as editor-in-chief and a background penciller, as well as played some of the “extras” in developing the script, and if you’ve enjoyed his work on books like Berlin and Jar of Fools, you’ll likely enjoy this. —JK Parkin