Welcome once again to What Are You Reading? Today's special guest is writer and artist Dean Trippe, creator of Butterfly and co-founder of the Project: Rooftop blog, among other credits. He posts regularly on his Tumblr site Bearsharktopus-Man, where he is currently selling this nifty Doctor Who/Batman crossover print. He also has some art in the Webcomics Auction for the Gulf.
To see what Dean and the rest of the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below ...
Intrigued by the sampler of Darwyn Cooke's next Parker graphic novel that I picked up at ALA, I ordered the first book, Parker: The Hunter, from the library. Wow, is that hard boiled! Richard Stark (a pseudonym for Donald Westlake, who wrote funnier mysteries under his real name) came up with a hero who was almost superhuman (he can kill a man with his bare hands) but also resourceful, forging a driver's license and hijacking a gun shipment with equal ease. The story is incredibly dated —most of Parker's scams wouldn't fly nowadays, and his treatment of women is beyond appalling—but Cooke takes it for what it is and captures the look of the era in both the setting and the style, a gestural ink line backed with washes of dull blue that would not look out of place in a 1962 issue of Esquire. The story is very straightforward—Parker was double-crossed and left for dead in a job gone bad, and now he's looking for payback—and Parker slices through every obstacle like a hot knife through butter. The story itself isn't too intellectually demanding, but Cooke's art brings it to another level.
A bound galley of Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream and Other Stories arrived in yesterday's mail, and I'm halfway through it already. Hagio's art in some of these stories is absolutely beautiful to look at, but what's interesting to me is that these really are girls' stories. The ones I have read so far are about children and told from a child's eye view; the adults are there, but they usually make things worse. These short stories remind me very much of their British contemporaries, the ghost stories in Diana and other girls' comics that were running around the same time. I'm sure the finished book will be beautiful and expensive, but I sort of hope some girls find these stories as well, and get the same thrill I did.
Sean T. Collins
Click the links for reviews...
Werewolves of Montpellier by Jason: The Norwegian master serves up his latest mix of genre wackiness and ruminations about violence and loneliness. Every book's a winner with this guy.
Where's Waldo? The Fantastic Journey by Martin Handford: The maddening, fun search game book you remember from your childhood is also a really impressive feat of cartooning-as-worldbuilding.
FCHS by Vito Delsante & Rachel Freire: A sweet, sexy, smart summer soap set in high school circa 1990.
For no real reason whatsoever, I dived into recent Inhumans stories from Marvel's recent years this week, and got very frustrated as a result; I enjoyed Son of M a fair bit, really loved Silent War, and then felt cheated by the way that Secret Invasion: Inhumans pretty much threw away the wonderful cliffhanger that Silent War ended on - It's one thing to say "Black Bolt was replaced by a Skrull," but to ignore that War left all of the Inhumans except for Black Bolt and Quicksilver and Crystal's daughter either insane or mind-controlled by Maximus (I'm not sure which, to be honest, and that may be the point; the real answer may be somewhere in between) and suddenly launch into a much-smaller "the family that fights together stays together" dynamic was incredibly disappointing. Did I miss something that wrapped upDavid Hine's story in between the two, does anyone know?
Of the Bat-family of books, it's odd to say that Red Robin is one of the strongest--but there it is. Grant Morrison can't be bothered with character dynamics, as I doubt they've ever interested him as a writer. Fabian Nicieza constructs a great scene in this issue between Batman, Red Robin and Robin. Add to the mix that Marcus To continues to provide solid art on this book.
Having bought the initial Casanova b&w run, I almost did not get this revitalized full color version--the first issue of which came out from Marvel's Icon imprint this week. But I'm glad I did, as otherwise I would not have read the bonus new story involving the Night Nurse from that first issue. Also, you get a Matt Fraction text piece which includes his admission that Casanova ultimately grew out of a Dominic Fortune/Marvel pitch.
I hate Jim McCann for populating the second issue of Mockingbird & Hawkeye with characters I like, only to kill some of them. Seriously though, strong second issue--but to be perfectly blunt you could have miniseries called "Hawkeye Does His Laundry" and I'd just be happy to be able to buy a monthly book featuring Hawkeye.
I don't know how I missed the first issue of Peter Hogan, Chris Sprouse and Karl Story's Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom (six-issue miniseries), but I caught up this week--buying issues 1 and 2. I never tire of the way Tom shouts his dialogue and the importance of family to the series.
I'm grooving to the comedic undercurrent that Chris Roberson and Mike Allred feed throughout iZombie (this week saw the release of issue 3).
I've got a Jeff Lemire Talking Comics with Tim interview in the pipeline for the coming weeks--and while recently editing I was unsure as to whether he's more excited about his writing on Atom or his writing and drawing for the Vertigo ongoing, Sweet Tooth. It doesn't really matter which he's enthused most about, what's important is his passion for both projects shows equally. In terms of Atom, I'm just grateful that DC editorial has allowed Lemire to ignore Palmer's recent history (ex-wife as murderer, etc)--Lemire's left to tell an updated style of a Silver Age Atom science story.
Thor and the Warriors Four (the four-issue miniseries) came to a satisfying happy ending for kids and adults alike. Like a good sitcom, I enjoy the snippets of dialogue that Alex Zalben works in--case in point when Thor, Frog of Thunder; and Beta Ray Bill acknowledge each other as they head into battle (Frog: "Thorse"' Bill" "Throg"). And I can't be the only person left wanting to see a Colleen Coover sequel to this Hercules the Olympian Babysitter with the Power Pack?
Gail Simone? Thanks for taking a month off from the Secret Six and allowing John Ostrander to fill in for you. (And I agree with your comment here as I would like Ostrander to "...write an Oracle mini" one of these days). It's a simple one and done story, which I never tire of reading.
Steve Rogers, Super-Soldier is a mixture of James Bond meets Nick Fury by Ed Brubaker nicely paired with artist Dale Eaglesham. I would be okay if this were an ongoing, instead of a miniseries.
Earlier this week Mark Waid got some folks riled about his Tweets on the superhero genre. It was an unfortunate week for the dust-up to occur, as I think it diluted any attention that his actual superhero comic writing deserved this week. I stepped away from Irredeemable for a few months (there's only so many comics in a month I can read,honestly) and I'm glad I came back with Irredeemable 15. They had been building up to a few things and while you don't get any actual closure on anything, you definitely get some interesting battles and twists. I like it when Waid gets to play with the toys as a writer and they aren't the holy DC or Marvel, because people can die, things can occurand no one worries about the precious continuity status quo.
Finally with the first issue of Thor, The Mighty Avenger, writer Roger Langridge and artist Chris Samnee become my favorite all ages creative team at Marvel. I'm a sucker for a Thor who smiles. My one complaint? I have to agree with Kurt Busiek's tweet from earlier this week when he wrote: "...Lettering's too damn small, but the book is gorgeous!" One must assume that Langridge tried to fit as much dialogue in the book as he could. I don't wish either storyteller to be more economic in their storytelling terms, but it may flow better with less words.
I read two books from First Second this week -- Solomon's Thieves and Resistance Book One.
On the latter, let me just say that I agree 100 percent with Michael May's assessment of the book -- this is a slam-bang, totally engrossing, rip-roaring adventure story from start to finish. Whereas creators Jordan Mechner, LeUyen Pham and Alex Puvilland tripped over themselves in trying to create something of substance in their Prince of Persia adaptation last year, Solomon has next to no pretense (though there's a lot of info about medieval life and the Knights Templar -- it's apparent both artists and writer spent a lot of time on research). It's really just a great, smart, fun read -- the kind you'd swear people didn't make anymore. I'm actually happy for once that the story is "to be continued," because it means I have something to look forward to.
I was less enthused with Resistance, the second "kids in World War II" book FS put out this spring, though this has a more serious tone than City of Spies, as it deals with a brother and sister living in Vichy France attempting to get their Jewish friend out of the clutches of the Nazis and reunite him with his mom and dad. It's OK -- Kids will probably dig it, but I never really felt like the danger the children were in was sufficiently emphasized at all (with the exception of one incident). What's more, Leland Purvis' character art is a little on the stiff side and Carla Jablonski's dialogue is a bit TV-movieish -- everyone speaks in either dull exclamatory sentences or endless questions ("Where are you going?" "Where are you taking us?" "What's going on?" and so on -- for like every other panel). Ultimately the book just felt very rote to me. As down as I was on City of Spies the other week, I think I prefer it to Resistance.
My haul of superhero comics turned out quite well this week. Batman And Robin #13 was especially good -- suspenseful, well-paced, great art, and full of neat little bits like the "I'll just call you 'Commissioner Gordon'" exchange. I like how everyone who's really close to the original Batman isn't automatically dismissive of Dick/Batman, and I like that that group includes the Joker. I also enjoyed the first issue of Batman: Odyssey. I would call its author "the goddamn Neal Adams," but I'm sure someone has already used that joke.
I liked John Ostrander and RB Silva's issue of Secret Six -- now where's their Oracle miniseries? ;-)
Thought Great Ten #9 felt very rushed, but that's not surprising. I did like the miniseries overall and hope to see these characters again soon.
Finally (in Brightest Day #5) Aquaman does something about the big oil spill! Too bad it's DC-Earth's version, somewhere near the Bermuda Triangle. Oh well -- I'm sure the JLA cleaned up its Gulf of Mexico a while back. Seriously, I continue to believe that the Aquaman subplot is the strongest part of Brightest Day, and I'm hoping it will play a bigger part as the series rolls on.
And lastly, I liked both Fantastic Four books I bought this week. Fantastic Four Annual #32 (done up 2008-style by writer Joe Ahearne and penciller Bryan Hitch) was a nifty standalone story about Johnny Storm's child and a new version of an old villain, and Spider-Man/Fantastic Four #1 (by Christos N. Gage and Mario Alberti) was just plain fun. How can one say no to a two-page spread involving the FF, Spidey, Doctor Doom, the Sub-Mariner, the ESU quad, "It's Clobberin' Time," and "Imperius Rex!"?
The only really terrible thing about being a comics creator (besides the pay and constant fear you might've been happier or at least healthier with a menial day job of any other kind) is that you know what good looks like.
I've become insufferable as a comics fan. I don't like most writing, drawing, coloring, or lettering, and I'm sure as hell not shopping in a store that doesn't let me flip through books to see if they look interesting. I can't invest in crossovers anymore. I don't even care about characters, even though I think nearly every mainstream comics character could be interesting. I follow creators because I'm spoiled.
Because I read Tom Strong, Promethea, Planetary, The Authority, Hellboy, B.P.R.D., Robin: Year One, and All-Star and Superman, I know comics can be absolutely incredible. When my favorite creators team up, that's when I get interested. Were I President of Comics, I'd make it so every comic was amazing. Somehow. So vote for me.
What meets my impossibly high standards? Here you go:
Batman and Robin (and The Return of Bruce Wayne) by Grant Morrison and a whole host of artists. Grant Morrison's not just writing these titles. He's writing the entire DCU over the course of his lifetime. You just didn't know it. Batman and Robin is the most fun Batman's been in forever, but Grant's DCU is all one thing, joined to his JLA, Final Crisis, All-Star Superman, DC One Million, Seven Soldiers of Victory and so on. These are easily the comics that I enjoy the most. So if Morrison writes it, I'm buying it. Speaking of which...
Joe the Barbarian by Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy. Great writing, great art. Dave Stewart on colors. That's how you do it.
The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard. That is an excellent creative team, and the story is edge-of-your-seat fascinating, every month.
I, Zombie by Chris Roberson and Mike Allred is the silliest group of monsters, written and drawn so well it never seems unbelievable.
Hellboy and B.P.R.D. by Mike Mignola, Guy Davis, and a slew of awesome, awesome creators. These are the all-around best books in comics, from the writing on down the line. There are no problems. There is only win. Dave Stewart and Guy Davis make so much pretty. If the Big Two could match this level of quality, this consistently, sales would triple.
Besides those, I pretty much follow anything Mark Waid, Robert Kirkman, Mike Mignola, Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker, or Jonathan Hickman writes, and anything Cliff Chiang, Frank Quitely, Dustin Nguyen, Cameron Stewart, Chris Samnee, or J.H. Williams III draws. Those guys do it right.