In case you missed last week's column, here's a brief recap: I got married last week. I'm on my honeymoon now. The podcast won't be happening tonight. Both the column and the podcast should happen next week, though the column might be a bit behind schedule.
And this column is going to be short, though Jonah might be stepping in to show you some wedding pictures.
In the meantime, here are some thoughts on the books I have read lately…
STOP THE PRESSES!
Wait, that doesn't exactly work on the Internet, does it? Jonah Weiland here and as the head honcho around these parts I thought I'd do something quite rare - provide a guest editorial. It's rare that I do such things, but I figure on the occasion of Augie's marriage it only appropriate that I step in and offer a report in the only way I think Augie would want it - as a review.
This past Friday I began my day by meeting up with Eric and Patricia, two regulars of the Pipeline Message board who made the trip north from Florida. I've met this dynamic duo before during Comic-Con International in San Diego, but outside of a brief dinner last year hadn't really had a chance to get to know either of them, so I was looking forward to getting acquainted. We met at the World Trade Center PATH station, took the train over to Jersey City and rented a car to make our way out to Wayne Township, where the festivities would take place. The Kia we rented from Hertz was a grayish/orangish thing and not nearly as bad a drive as I thought it would be. The car was comfortable, rode well and the added GPS for $10 was a damned life saver while making our way through the often times windy and confusing roads of New Jersey. Overall, I'd give the car a 7 out of 10, loosing three points simply for being a Kia.
I should add that it's a good thing I'm not here to review the Garden State because, well, what Eric, Patricia and I saw of it was unimpressive. But let's not go off on a tangent here.
Due to some traffic and an address mix up, we arrived at the church just a minute before 4:00 in the afternoon as services were to begin. The chapel was clearly a product of it's time, built sometime in the late seventies, but with some gorgeous stained glass work and an impressive pipe organ at the far end.
As the procession began, friends and family who made up the wedding party were escorted down the aisle, joining Augie and his best man, his father, August Sr.. Then came the moment we all wait for at weddings, the arrival of the bride. Michele made her way down the aisle escorted by her father in a strapless white dress and looked radiant. As her father gave away the bride, Michele took Augie's hand and they walked forward towards the priest.
The Catholic ceremony was filled with music and prayer and lasted approximately 30 minutes - just enough time. There's one thing I'm not crazy about and that's long wedding ceremonies, so in this respect Augie's wedding scores a 10.
I have to admit I got a tad choked up seeing my friend begin the next chapter in his life. No, I'm not usually one to cry at weddings, but it was a sweet site to behold. Of course that moment was interrupted during the blessing of the rings when Eric leaned over to me and recited, "In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night…" at which point Patricia gave her husband a proper slug. Of course, I found it funny and encouraged such behavior, but such is I.
After the ceremony concluded - and the kiss was respectful and held for a good four or five seconds - we were all greeted by the married couple and their respective families upon exiting the chapel. This was my first moment to say hi to Augie, which of course included a proper man hug. Augie looked excellent in his black tuxedo. It was also the first time I had the chance to meet Augie's parents, wonderful and warm people.
As Augie and his bride hopped in the stretch limo, we jumped in our car and made our way to the Tides Estate, a gorgeous and expansive facility for weddings and parties in North Haledon, New Jersey. We placed the name into the GPS, which took us through some wild back woods areas straight out of the "Blair Witch Project." I surmised that these woods were where the bodies were dropped off by the mob. When Eric and Patricia acted up, I threatened to pull over and help them get lost in the woods. They did not heed my warnings and are now dead.
No, that's not right at all. Sorry.
The three of us arrived at the Tides Estate only to discover we beat everyone there. That's embarrassing. You should never be first to a party! I knew we should have stopped off at White Castle on the way there. See, I'm from Los Angeles and we're not fully aware of how disgusting White Castle is, so it's still novel and exciting for us. While that would have delayed our trip and we could have arrived fashionably late, it also would have meant we would be full, which we'd soon learn would be a bad idea.
As we waited in the lobby of the Tides, mimosas were served and I quickly made my way to the bar. Eric, Patricia and I waited as the rest of the guests arrived and talked about our world travels and various upbringings. It was then that I discovered they had tickets to the same showing of "Avenue Q" on Broadway Sunday night as I did. Cool!
Once all the guests had arrived, it was time to go downstairs to the reception, a long room filled with four banquet tables loaded with food and a beautiful ice sculpture of what I couldn't tell you because I was far too distracted by the expansive spread. Oh, and did I mention the open bar? Open bar! A positive review of the wedding was practically sealed with those two simple words. The tequila and tonic was flowing, the food was abundant and Jonah was a happy boy. Seriously, the sheer amount of food at the reception had some people confused - is this the meal? Nope, but that didn't stop anyone from sampling the many finger foods, cheeses, calamari, shrimp, etc … I think Eric, Patricia and I all made at least three trips back to the table.
It was towards the end of the reception that letterer extraordinaire Chris Eliopolous and his lovely wife Audra arrived. They were delayed because earlier in the day as Chris was picking up his mother-in-law to play sitter to their children, he blew out two tires on his car on the obviously well kept roads of New Jersey. [Note to self, this is not a review of New Jersey.]
After an hour or so it was time to head into the dining room and enjoy the main course, which went splendidly. Eric, Patricia, the Eliopoloii and myself were seated at table 12 and had a great time chatting, whether it be about comics or business or life in general. Augie came over to visit with "the cool crowd" numerous times throughout the night, in between dances (yes, we saw Augie dance) and a variety of other married dude duties. It was fun watching Augie make his way through the room, greeting his guests and clearly having a great time of it. Each time we saw Augie we made sure he was eating as we all know how at weddings the happy couple get little time to eat and with Augie being a diabetic, this would be a very bad idea. I'm happy to report his blood sugar levels were fine all night.
The night went off without any problems, which is actually why I can give this wedding only a 9 out of 10. Where were the too drunk bride's maid? Where was the puking grooms man? Why didn't the DJ have a rubber chicken? Are you telling me nothing embarrassing happened? Maybe we missed something since we left before things had really ended, a little after 10:00. We had an hour long drive through New Jersey still to navigate (by the way, Hertz, your GPS took us through some rather questionable neighborhoods - hookers on street corners? And who does interior demolition at night?), plus a ride on the PATH train back into the city, so maybe something embarrassing happened after we left, but we didn't witness it. We even missed the cake cutting, although I'm certain Augie didn't smear cake all over his Bride's face - that's just not his style.
So, there you have it, Augie's wedding. May I present Mr. and Mrs. August De Blieck Jr.!
Augie's off on his honeymoon somewhere in the tropics, but he still managed to file a column the morning of his wedding. The man is a machine.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled Augie.
MR. STUFFINS #1 - From Boom! Studios, this mini-series is the story of a super spy in the guise of a cute and cuddly teddy bear. He's well-trained, takes his job seriously, and would torture the right stuffed animal for a clue. His job is to protect Zach, a nine year old whose parents are divorcing and who's having a rough time in school. And when Mr. Stuffins leaps to his defense, nobody will believe the boy. Don't worry, it's not Calvin and Hobbes. And it's not too cutesy.
I loved BORIS THE BEAR, which I mentioned in this column a couple of weeks ago. I just found out, too, that Boris' creator, James Dean Smith, recently finished a new comic book starting Boris, as well as a new kid-friendly comic. You can find them over at Oasis Comics.
I think the comparison between the two is inevitable, but STUFFINS will fall short, though it doesn't lack appeal. The problem is that it doesn't go far enough. The bear needs to be the star of this book. All of the humor comes from the dialogue. That works up to a point, but I want to see more of the bear. I want to see the bear in action. I want to see the bear's face as it's creating all this mayhem, but far too much of the book features the bear with his back turned towards the reader, or murky art that doesn't convey enough personality to win the reader over. The book is drawn by Lee Carter with colors from Pablo Quiligotti, and it's tough to tell where the problems are. The coloring is muddy, overall - tons of earth tones and very little separation between levels of the art. I sometimes think the extra effort in the coloring is to make up for some of the lack of detail in the art. Put this book in the hands of a Kazu Kibuishi, for example, and you can picture the extra dimensions in the story that the art might convey.
On the positive side, the book does have a very cute sense of humor in the form of a militaristic spying teddy bear. The script from Boom! Regulars Andrew Cosby and Johanna Stokes does a great job in creating plausible reasons for everything that happens in the book. Zach's character is firmly defined within moments of his introduction, and the reason a bear like Mr. Stuffins can exist might be the stuff of B-level children's fantasy books, but it's all the book needs to have a serious edge. And the bear's attitude is clear and consistent throughout. When Zach goes to bed, for example, Stuffins wants to "secure the perimeter." I liked it a lot.
And the cover is great, with the Oreos (TM and (c) some cookie maker. Nabisco?) stacked up like poker chips, the pop gun in the bear's hand, and the one raised eyebrow. It's the stuff I'd almost buy a poster of, if I had anywhere to hang such a thing.
I just hold out hope that the bear will get even more screen time next issue and that we get to see more of it, not obscured under thick lines, distant angles, and muddy colors.
TRUE STORY SWEAR TO GOD #5 is the best issue of the Image run so far. Tom Beland has outdone himself on the story of his first trip to New York City, including a visit to THE LATE SHOW, Marvel Comics HQ, and a questionable handbag dealer's back room. It's just as funny, surreal, and cute as all of that sounds. But the thing that really jumped off the page at me in this issue was the art. It would be trite to say that he had extra time to make this issue because it's so well detailed. I don't know what happened this month, exactly, but I do know that this is the most solid and the best-constructed art I've seen in the series so far. Everything looks more real, even with Beland's stylized pen.
The story stands on its own, too, and is an excellent introduction to the series for any potential new readers. Marvel characters play a prominent role in the book, too, so give it a chance. You'll find something to like in here, I think.
THE ASTOUNDING WOLF-MAN #1 is the start of Robert Kirkman's latest series, and will be given away as part of Free Comic Book Day next weekend. It fits well into his roster of series. It just feels like a Kirkman book, you know? Everything from Jason Howard's art (including colors) to Rus Wooton's lettering has the feel of a colorful, fun, and adventurous Kirkman comic.
I think the thing I appreciated most about the book was that I didn't know where it was going, and there were no easy answers. Yes, the book introduces a man who turns into a wolf. Having not read in any great detail any interviews with Kirkman about the book, I didn't have a clue what to expect past that. It's a refreshing change of pace to come into a book so new to it. With all the news outlets and blogs and whatnot out there today, it's tough to walk into a book you're interested in completely blind. I sstayed in the dark with this one, and it paid off. I didn't know -- and still don't know -- what the ramifications for this character's transformation will be. We have the introduction of a character set to take the mentor title on, but we can't tell whether that's for good or bad. The mythology is yet to take root, and it's an exciting time to be considering a series like this.
In he back of the book, there's more good news: Fresh on the heels of his trade paperback collection, BRIT is getting a new monthly series. It's written by Bruce Brown and drawn by Cliff Rathburn, and the sample pages in the back of WOLF-MAN look like fun. I'll be looking out for that one, too.
For now, be sure to snag a copy of THE ASTOUNDING WOLF-MAN this weekend at your local comics shop.
Thanks for dropping by again. Have a great week. I'll see you next Tuesday with the podcast!
More than 700 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically.