Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our special guest today is Joey Weiser, creator of Cavemen in Space, The Ride Home and Tales of Unusual Circumstance, and a contributor to SpongeBob Comics.
To see what Joey and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
I finally finished the last of my 2011 reading with Hark! A Vagrant. The only reason it took me so long to get to it is because I’ve kept up with the webcomic and other things that I haven’t read kept jumping in front of it in line. However, none of those had me up in the middle of the night with my hand over my mouth trying to stifle my laughter in fear of waking the rest of the house.
I’m taking a break from my Women of Action reading this week to catch up on some other comics. DC Universe Presents #6 is sort of a peripheral Women of Action book because it’s retooling the Challengers of the Unknown with a female leader, but I won’t be sticking with it. It’s not bad writing, but rebooting the Challengers’ origin as a reality show turns me off. I don’t like watching whiny, self-important people and the producers who exploit them on TV; apparently I don’t like reading about them in comic books either.
I’m one issue from being caught up with Demon Knights (I just read #4), but I’m thinking about dropping the series. I’ll make up my mind once I’ve read #5, but I’m struggling to stay interested. I don’t know if this is the only problem keeping me indifferent, but there’s no one, point-of-view character to help ease me into this wild, fantasy world. I feel bounced around each issue as Paul Cornell gives me snippets of multiple characters without letting me get to know any of them very well. Not even issue #4, which tells the Shining Knight’s origin story, gives me a good sense of its main character. There are some interesting revelations and an excellent, “Ooh! Does that mean what I think it means?” moment, but I’m still waiting for something to ground this series for me and – four issues in – I’m starting to wonder if it’s coming.
This week I finished up the fourth issue of Sanctuary, one of SLG Publishing's serialized digital comics that you can download via their website or through the various digital comics providers. The comic is by Stephen Coughlin, who trained as an animator with dreams of one day working for Disney; instead he ended up working for Highlights Magazine. Eventually he ended up in the Bay Area and attended a creator's workshop at SLG's headquarters, where he pitched Sanctuary to Dan Vado.
You can read more about the back story here. I mention it because the Disney influences are worn pretty heavily in both the art and the story--it's about an animal sanctuary and most of the main characters are talking animals--at least until the panda is murdered and you start to realize things aren't quite what they seem. Coughlin captures the animals personalities very well, both in terms of the story and how he draws them; I'm trying to think of the last time I actually saw a menacing/evil giraffe, but none come to mind (maybe Toys R Us?) ... and yet Coughlin manages to make his terribly creepy giraffe look and feel terribly creepy.
This is a great little series so far, which you can get for cheap at the SLG online store--the first issue is free, the rest are 99 cents.
This is a sort of in-between time, before convention season really gets going, so I haven’t got a big stack of books and mini-comics like I will later in the year, but I’ve got a few things that I’ve been reading lately.
Astro Boy – I’ve been picking up the Dark Horse editions of Astro Boy from the early 2000’s whenever I come across them, and I happened to pick up several volumes at my hometown’s comic shop when I was visiting over the holidays. These are lighter reads than a lot of Osamu Tezuka’s other work that’s been translated so far, but they still have quite an impact when they want to. I was pretty surprised by the volume where Astro gets thrown back in time, and ends up involved with the Vietnam War! Tezuka successfully mixes crazy sci-fi slapstick and a good dose of melodrama. Plus, I love his robot designs. His cartooning is clear and completely realized, even in these early comics.
One Piece/Shonen Jump Alpha – Eiichiro Oda’s pirate manga epic One Piece is my current obsession, for sure. Definitely the best contemporary shonen manga, in my opinion, and it may be one of my favorite comics of all time. I just pre-ordered Volume 61, which is very exciting because it contains a two-year time skip, and marks the beginning of “Part 2,” according to Oda. Here’s to at least another 10 years!
Speaking of One Piece, Viz’s digital magazine Shonen Jump Alpha launched a few weeks ago, and I’m really enjoying it. It’s a great way for me to support some of the other Shonen Jump titles that I enjoy, like Bakuman, and get familiar with some titles that I haven’t read like Toriko or Nura, without having to invest a ton of money and shelf-space (both very precious to a cartoonist!). In Alpha, which is only two weeks behind Japan (unlike the print volumes, which are about a year behind) One Piece is just starting the next arc after what begins in Vol. 61. So, in both print and digital we’re at points where the characters and readers don’t know what to expect and get to discover the world of the series a little more.
SpongeBob Comics – Okay, this isn’t just a plug because this is something that I’m involved with. I really enjoy the recent SpongeBob Comics series! The exciting thing about these comics is that they are based on a specific property, but you still really do see the cartoonists’ individual voices shine through. I just read #7 has great stuff like a bonkers story by Graham Annable and some very funny comics by James Kochalka.
My Cardboard Life – I’ve enjoyed Philippa Rice’s My Cardboard Life for a long time, and I’ve been especially delighted to see it pop up in my RSS reader lately. The comic ranges from funny, silly ideas like the favorite animal/color/mode of transportation/dessert personality test to just playing around with materials in an interesting way. The current “St. Colin and the Dragon” storyline is a multi-installment storyline set in medieval fantasy that is a new and fun direction for the strip.