Dinosaurs, Naked Women, and Sci-Fi, Oh My!

drawing of a naked woman wearing a sci-fi astronaut helmet and shooting a lazer gun while wrapped around the neck of a dinosaurOne of my students, one of those self-proclaimed artists, wrote an essay about their identity in which they proclaimed what it is to be an artist. Part of this identity includes a love of dinosaurs, naked women, and sci-fi. I imagine this student would have flourished during the age of ten-cent pulp fiction of the early 1900s. The point of the assignment was to explain a piece of their identity and explain it in a way to try to create an understanding in the reader about a way of being the reader may not be familiar with. Said student concluded their essay and then drew a few things in back of the infamous "blue book."

In response, I drew this rather quickly, desperately needing sleep, but unable to not respond to the artist in kind. It probably beats a few comments about commas and semicolons.

See you at the next zine/mini comics fest!

Practice with QT KaBoom @ Dr. Sketchy's

I wasn't feeling terribly there this day and after some initial distraction of having a beautiful woman naked before me (and a room full of mostly male artists) I was able to eventually capture some shapes and lines, but am displeased by most of it. I didn't know where to begin a bunch of the time. I think the one thing I may have done well was capture the model's expression a few times. She had a serenity I liked and seemed to focus on. Otherwise proportions are a mess. Perspective is a mess. I've just got to keep trying is all and some day it may just all work out. Cej, when is the next one?

Comic Book Quick Review: Superior Spider-Man Team-Up 1 and Digital Comic Redemption Codes

I don't often read Marvel Comics, but when I do... It's probably because I got it for free.

And in this case the preview copy was borrowed from Escape Pod Comics. Superior Spider-Man Team-Up officially comes out this Wednesday.

To Rant and Rave This comic is a fun, neat read, but I cannot support Marvel's $3.99 price tag, even if that means it comes with a redemption code for a digital copy of the comic that will expire in a year.

Rant the First Why the fuck does the code need to expire? If someone buys this comic twenty years from now and the code sticker was never peeled back and the code used, why can't it be used in the future? OK, why not even two or five years of twenty is too ridiculous?

Rant the Second The sticker over the code... What are anal collectors going to think if they're paying beyond cover price for these hot collectibles? Does that half the resale value? Quarter it? I mean, if a near mint copy of this comic sells for $100.00 two years from now, what will be its official grade if the sticker is missing or even mostly peeled back?

The Actual Review The appeal of this comic, aside from the free read, is that it features a Spider-Man, the Superior one to be exact, not that I've read any of the previous stories. All I know is that Doctor Otto Octavius has switched bodies with Peter Parker and now slings webs as the Superior Spider-Man.  Why is he superior? This is awesome: because Doc Ock is kind of a know-it-all douche who now has Spider-Man's physical abilities along with Ock's genius intellect and is apparently, with lots of ass hattery, being a better superhero Spider-Man than Parker ever was. Yep, an arrogant prick Spider-Man, but one who kind of has the brains to get away with it apparently.

"Team-up" is part of the title, so in addition to a team-up with Earth's Mightiest Heroes, the Avengers, Spidey tours a bunch of the Marvel Universe beating the shit out of various heroes. If I were eleven years old, I'd eat this up because Spider-Man would be mysterious and bad ass to me, and I'd want to know more about all these people whose asses he's kicking and why he's kicking the asses. ...Though at eleven, how many comics could I afford at $3.99?

Christopher Yost is a writer whose work I have been attracted to, especially since his run on X-Force, co-written with Craig Kyle, in the mid-2000s, which was incredibly awesome and paid a lot of tribute to X-history. I'd expect no less fun and reverence from him in Superior Spider-Man Team-Up, though if I do ever follow-up, it'll be via trade paperback from the library.

Comics Picks of the Week of 1 May 2013

Welcome to another installment of Comic Picks of the Week. It seems nothing of interest to me comes out one or two or three weeks each month, piling my purchases into two or three Thursdays a month.  Not enough interests me, especially from the big two. Even Dark Horse hasn't offered much since Resident Alien, and the conclusion of that series was lackluster, feeling rushed after such terrific buildup. Speaking of lackluster, rushed conclusions, the last issue of Planetoid, the series I raved about last installment of this series, really dropped the ball. I think the auteur of the book, Ken Garing, didn't want to leave fans hanging and so wrapped up the brief series that I thought was going to be around for years. I would've preferred to let my imagination run wild with the idea of what might happen next...

Shopping on a very limited income means making very specific choices in reads, considering what it is I might easily find at the library, but balancing that with supporting series that might never make it to trade paperback collections if readers don't support the individual comics.

I don't know if I'm buying anything this week either, but there are some series from Image Comics I've been buying that have Trade Paperbacks coming out at the low, low price of $9.99. This price is so hard to beat for some awesome comics reading.

BEDLAM TP VOL 01 - I'll admit I only read the first, extra-sized issue and found it fascinating and really creepy and I enjoyed the ideas presented within. Velocity Comics' Tom Batten describes the series by asking readers to consider what it would be like if the Joker decided to fight crime instead of causing them. My reading experience with the first issue brought me to lots of craziness and murder, but it all seems like it's there for a purpose and not merely cheap thrills. Writer Nick Spencer creates an engaging world vaguely touching on the genre of the post-modern superhero with visuals by the uber-prolific Riley Rossmo. I do own the first five or six issues and plan to read them soon, finally catching up on many months of back-reading.

BLACKACRE TP VOL 01 - I recently read the first two issues, having found the first for free on Comixology. The world presented in the first issue was enough to pull me in to buy the print comic and then also the second issue. I'm not entirely sure I want to continue buying this series. While the first issue presents a story that's always engaging to me, one in which some kind of law enforcement official is sent to track down another such agent who has gone "missing," but in actually has switched sides, I don't feel like enough happened with the protagonist in the second issue, and without that, I'm not sure I care what happens to him, so this may be a library read, if they get it.

GREAT PACIFIC TP VOL 01 TRASHED - I have read the first six issues and I truly enjoy this series. I was given the first two issues for free, as a push, by Collector's Kingdom's proprietor Mike Bradley. Of course, only the first hit or two is free, but that's OK. This was  a series I'd seen the promo ads for and had a slight interest in it and I'm glad to have gotten that extra shove from the pusher-man. Imagine a landmass forming in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, made up of plastic and other debris. OK, you don't actually have to imagine it, if Wikipedia is accurate, and that is the basis of this story. An oil baron descendent declares this landmass "New Texas" and plans to make it a sovereign nation while somehow profiting from cleaning up trash by somehow transmuting it into useable materials. On this island are some bow & arrow and spear-tossing Pacific islanders, underneath it is a giant octopus they revere as their creator, and many other mysteries lay in wait on this man-made mass that we've yet to discover, and oh oh oh, Uncle Sam is not happy about the young sovereign's bid for internationally-sanctioned nationhood. And there be pirates and downed Soviet weapons satellites and pissed off relatives and cute girls. What more could a boy ask for? Hmmm... How does this series read for various types of women? Is this another male power-fantasy or something more engaging that will reveal a strong female protagonist with motivations of her own and who just may help this series someday pass the Bechdel Test?

 

Comics Picks of the Week of 27 March 2013

My impoverished ass doesn't buy many comics these days. In fact it has a small folder bursting (well--not bursting as much as mildly swelling) with comics from the past few weeks at the comic book store because I am poor for I am a river to my people--my people being the student loan bastards and also the credit card lords. Ah, the glorious life of an adjunct.

I figure I might let you all know what I plan to buy each week, which isn't much, and is almost exclusively from Image Comics these days as I'm so fucking sick of most superhero books, which is 95% of Marvel and DC.

Why might you want to know what I'm going to buy? Because maybe you're sick of Marvel and DC and want to try something new and you know I have impeccably peculiar tastes that match your own.

Since I only buy about eight comics a month, this is a fairly typical week.

DIA DE LOS MUERTOS #2 (OF 3) - 4.99 -- I like Rossmo's art and found the final story, about a mariachi who lost his love, in the first issue to be beautiful and heart-rending. Rossmo is so damn prolific and his style(s) work with a lot of writers' stories and this series is written by some of Image's best current writers!

 

PLANETOID #5 - 2.99 - Holy shit! It's been since maybe November since the fourth issue came out! I didn't find the first two issues super-engaging, but by the third issue I was hooked and wanted more and more. It was getting better and better like some intensely intimate and playful mind-blowing sex... and then...nothing! Hopefully the wait will have been worth it.

Honorable Mentions or  Stuff I Might Buy if I Could Afford It:

DOOM 2099 COMPLETE COLLECTION BY WARREN

ELLIS TP - 39.99 - Warren Ellis and Doom. 'nuff said.

LEGEND OF LUTHER STRODE #4 (OF 6) - 3.50 - I've heard good things about Mr. Strode

 

 

 

¡Run, Carly, Run!: Reading ElECTRONiC Issues 1-3

electronic 1 front cover I’m hooked.

My friend Bullseye Joe is concocting his first foray into comics writing and was loaned the first three issues ElECTRONiC by writer and creator Joe Corallo, a local patron of Collectors Kingdom. I plan to purchase these three comics from Corallo in support of the work he and his art team are creating. Don’t let my response to issue one discourage you; the story and content only get better issue-by-issue and number three really knocks it out of the park with its wow-factor.

Reading Issue 1

Synopsis: On the run from Elec 3.0, (cyborg or robot—not yet sure) Carly, aka Elec 2.9, is in danger of being replaced by the latest upgrade in software and hardware. She must use all her cunning and skills to avoid a similar fate to that of her predecessor.

Think Ghost in the Shell mates with Blade Runner while holding hands with Pinocchio who is watching A.I. We’ve got artificially intelligent robots (or cyborgs, not sure), creator/father figures, and corporate heads interested in only power and influence.

The art: The coloring and effects by Andrew Prichinello and Steve Bonge color are often appealing. They help make up for the interior art that often resembles 1980s’ indie comic art that makes me think of static anime (I do not consider manga to be static anime). It might be an issue of polishing the pencil work a bit, some artistic growth when it comes to portraying motion, or perhaps the inking is what gives it a sort of flat feel at times. Flat, that’s what I often think of when it comes to ‘80s B&W indie comics. Then again it might be a combination of the inking (assuming the book is inked at all by artist Danny Luckert) and coloring that often work, but at times fall flat.

The art does have merit though, especially in panel where protagonist Carly receives a data upload and her eyes are mostly rolled into the top of her head while still open is fantastic and conveys a sort of para-consciousness that very much fits the action of the panel (see image below).

The writing and art combined: The text boxes representing background dialogue are off-putting at times. Unattributed word balloons would work better for such dialogue. In places the dialogue exchanges between characters doesn’t flow logically from left-to-right, top-to-bottom, as a reader would expect. It might be beneficial to the reader for the writer and artist to consider the placement of characters in a setting, specifically each panel, so the flow of dialogue reads as the one would expect, right to left, top to bottom, without what I’d call backflow, making reading the dialogue unnecessary brainwork at times.

ElECTRONiC has a bit of a Ghost in the Shell dystopian future feel, which is often a good way to hook a fan of sci-fi. Corporations are nations in this future and Rand Nation seems to make assassin robots (or are they cyborgs?) that must kill their predecessor as each upgraded model is completed and somehow this is how they assert their dominance over other nations. I’m not yet psyched, but I am curious what happens in the next issues…

Reading Issues 2 and 3

electronic 2 front cover

And then I read issues two and three back-to-back and I’m wondering how long I’m going to have to wait for issue four. Like I wrote, it gets better—damn better.

Possible Influences: While I can probably name a number of influences on the creation of the premise and probably what are sort of archetypal characters in these futuristic, corpratacracy cyborg/robot stories, Corallo manages to give readers a really fascinating look at the mysterious facility/world in issue three. Artist Danny Luckert, along with colorist Alexandra Zambetti absolutely astonish as protagonist Carly frees herself from captivity and meanders about the facility that isn’t static, but changes a la The Matrix from one setting into another. It reminds me a but of the silent “‘Nuff Said” issue of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s New X-Men in which Jean Grey and Emma Frost wander around the ever-changing mindscape of Professor X, whose head is also occupied by the mind if his genocidal twin sister. It’s an amazing issue and for me to compare ElECTRONiC 3 to it is definite praise. Regardless of the influences, this issue is its own piece of artistic astonishment.

Character design: While Carly explores the facility, a sort of gestating, skinless cyborg awakens and escapes his “womb,” which includes mind-fuck moments where the cyborg declares Carly his “mother” and this is beautifully rendered by the art team. The facial expressions are strong in this issue, especially on baby ‘borg, who just looks creepy with no skin, with muscle and tendons on bone and metal, so close to human, yet so monstrous. Fantastic character design (see image below).

electronic 3 interior sample

I’m also in love with the design of whoever is in charge of the facility, with white-garbed and possibly masked humanoid figure, perhaps a freed cyborg, perhaps a human, with her creepy sort of Joker-ized face. I also love the plain white uniforms on the baton guards who beat the baby ‘borg into submission during his initial “birth.” Something about the wrinkles in their uniforms remind me of a sort of thick, heavy vinyl that is probably appropriate for working in a sterile facility with biological and electronic components (see above image).

There are still moments where the art feels ‘80s indie, but that is greatly overshadowed by the awesomeness of the concepts masterfully portrayed on the pages that are sort of like Alice in Wonderland, during which we learn that a supposed benefactor of Carly seems to have a hidden agenda.

electronic 2 color sample (color sample from issue 2)

On a minor note regarding the lettering by Steve Bonge (and in issue one, also Justin Lindsey), it’s not as crisp as it could be, though this may be from the printing done by www.comicbookprinting.com. There are occasional spelling and grammar mistakes and the commas sometimes look more like periods and impede a smooth reading of dialogue in places. I’m not sure how the book is being lettered, but if digitally, is there not a spell check option available if a program is being used?

electronic 3 front cover

I don’t want to end the review on the downer, so I’ll refer you to issue 3’s cover. It’s simple and yet awesome. I love this colorful little bird appearing in this black and white labyrinth, likely representing Carly’s foray into the rabbit hole.

I anxiously await the next issue and hope all of these great comic shops that awesomely carry small press and indie books, Atomic Books in Baltimore, Locust Moon in Philly, Velocity Comics in Richmond, and Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find in Charlotte, will carry this excellent title. I can’t wait to see how the story and the creators evolve in the coming months and years.

Prismacolor Markers and Fleshtones Practice

Richmond Zine Fest itself, specifically talking with talented folks such as Cody Pickrodt, energized me into getting back into making comics. I realize this is one of the few ways I'll be able to create the worlds I would like to see. What I can express is limited only by my abilities or lack thereof. What I don't know, I imagine I can learn. I've been playing around with my Prismacolor markers and some old drawings instead of making actual new comics for Philly Zine Fest-- which is in a week-and-a-half (silly me)--and thought I'd try someone who is not Caucasian with the limited markers I had, so I created a simple new drawing and began coloring. This is the result.

I couldn't figure out if I could put down a base and then layer colors to see if I could get new tones as I tried to lay down a salmon pink base (generic white people color) to come up with a lighter brown tone and then added terra cotta. This didn't seem to make a difference when I went straight for laying down terra cotta sans salmon pink base. Looked the same to me.

I tried dark umber on the right hand side and then thought details might not show up with solid coloring. I know some artists use white or sort of negative space to indicate light reflecting off of dark objects and people, so perhaps learning how to simulate that in my drawing is a new challenge I'll have to face. Bring it.

The other new thing I tried was the sort of stippling on the edges of things one might see on Jean 'Moebius' Giraud's beautiful work. I know there are other artists who do this and I cannot name them, so I'll give props to the creator of Airtight Garage. Those tiny lines look awesome on his work, so I thought I'd try it in mine and plan to continue to play with that idea.

In the end I ended up going to Riebe's art supply store and spending another $40 in Prismacolor markers of various shades of peach, link, and brown. I even bought a shade of black of one of their "brush" style markers to try some fluid-looking inking .

Brief Reviews: Godzilla Legends 3

http://comicbookdb.com/graphics/comic_graphics/1/486/241221_20120104173935_large.jpg If you're a fan of Godzilla, Godzilla Legends (2011) 3 is probably pretty damn cool. Writer Raicht makes the protagonist a likable kid, even if there isn't too much time to develop him as a character, who I imagine appears in some ongoing series from publisher IDW. The art time provides some attractive art, especially when the reader is taken off-world to some alien world I may vaguely remember from one of the movies.

I haven't much followed the movie franchise since I was a kid and think I may have read a single issue published by Marvel from the late '70s. I got this as part of a reward for contributing to the Kickstarter for Mike Raicht's Wild Blue Yonder series. I'm not even sure how that works given the comic will be published by IDW, which I guess they want some of the costs paid up front, which I hope means the series is creator-owned by Raicht and his two co-creators.

I'd met Mike at the Philadelphia Comic Con in 2011, shortly after reading his Marvel MAX Zombie series, which provided an interesting angle on what could otherwise have been a typically overdone zombie genre story. Mike's a likable guy and a fellow adjunct instructor of English, so how could I not support his work when finances allow, on our meager adjunct pay rates? His originality makes his writing work.

An Evening with Dean Haspiel

Dean Haspiel 2 On Thursday 4 October 2012, the Cinema Arts Centre of Huntington, New York will host An Evening with Dean Haspiel.

I've only read two works to which "Dino" has contributed artwork to and have enjoyed them both, The Alcoholic with author Jonathan Ames, and some American Splendor stories with the late infamous curmudgeon Harvey Pekar.

Wikipedia's Dean Haspiel entry is chock full of information.

More can be learned about his body of work via the creator page for Dino on Comic Book Database.

While I highly recommend your local comic book retailer as a place to purchase some of Mr. Haspiel's work, especially for out-of-print items, Amazon's Dean Haspiel author page has a listing of some of his available books for purchase. Your local comics shop may even be able to offer better discounts than Amazon, especially on pre-orders--just ask kindly!

If you're a Long Island local and enjoy independent cinema, a membership at the Cinema Arts Centre is highly recommended, with benefits such as discounted tickets and discounts at the shops and eateries of local merchants.

Spider-Man--Menace! or Reading Jackpot (2010) Issue 2

http://comicbookdb.com/graphics/comic_graphics/1/380/191599_20100210094625_large.jpg While I've probably enjoyed some of Guggenheim's writing on Amazing Spider-Man, and I cannot say for sure due to the rotating team of writers on the title and me being two years behind in my reading, I would not have sought out Amazing Spider-Man Presents: Jackpot. Issues 2 and 3 were a part of a flea market collection of many Marvel comics from 2010. I read issue 2 yesterday and I was like, Wow, Spider-Man is such a dick!

Why is Spider-Man a dick? Apparently he encouraged Jackpot to put the costume back on after she retired from superheroing. The result: A now deadly Boomerang figures out who she is, comes to her Brooklyn home and eviscerates her husband and the issue concludes with a deadly metal boomerang flying at her young daughter. While I doubt daughter of Jackpot will be killed, all of this tragedy could have been avoided had Spider-Man left Jackpot alone. It's not like her powers are even that great that she could do so much good on the streets.

Good job, Spidey! Uncle Ben was right, but did he forget to mention that with great credibility there must also come great responsibility? Spider-Man--menace!

This image was borrowed from the Comic Book Database for review purposes.

Buy This Comic Now: Debris #1

http://comicbookdb.com/graphics/comic_graphics/1/509/254165_20120725163504_large.jpg I won't try to sell you on how some #1 Image Comics have become hot, high $$$ potatoes these past few years, oh no, though I'd like to believe this may become one of them because I enjoyed it so damn much. Welcome to Debris, a sweet sci-fi action comic.

Why this comic book rocks!: It's a wonderful synergy of the writing and the art. Like any well-done sci-fi, this book takes the audience into a new and believable world. It has a feel to it like Dune and Vampire Hunter D, but is deliciously its own world filled with bio-mechanoid giant roadrunners and a cybernetic worm creature that has never been defeated by this last community of humans just trying to survive in a mean, ugly world lacking in resources.

The Artwork: I don't know how closely writer Kurtis J Wiebe worked with artist/inker/cover artist Riley Rossomo and colorist Owen Gieni, but the mood and action flow wonderfully off the page, as if they were all one artist of a singular vision, creating epic battles and doomed futures in my imagination. I've been brought to humanity's brink--will you join me?

You all know I've bitched and moaned about many comics costing more than $2.99, but this is $3.50 that was worth spending. I've already told my local comics retailer, Collectors Kingdom (yes, I used to work there, so I'm gonna promote them), to hold the remaining 3 issues in this 4-issue miniseries when they are published. If you're not yet sold, check out the Image Comics Debris web page featuring the covers of the upcoming issues. I plan to pick up more work from these creators! Check out a list of their works on the ComicBook Database!

Thanks again to the ComicBook Database for use of their cover image, whether they know it or not. Hey, it's free advertising for them!

Kiss My Chaos!

http://comicbookdb.com/graphics/comic_graphics/1/169/85472_20070219090822_large.jpg I remember that I bought Kissing Chaos at MoCCA Art Fest 2007 but don't recall why. It might have been browser's guilt, that I'd been looking at what was available on the tables, possibly trying to avoid eye contact with creators (something I dislike as a tabler) so I wouldn't feel obligated to buy something from them. Eye contact must have been made between me and auteur Arthur Dela Cruz because my edition is signed and I think I even have a lobby card with the cover image on it that he gave me with the book. Maybe he's an awesome guy, but awesome is not my memory.

Five years later and having transported this book around various parts of the country I pulled it off the shelf today and read it in two brief sittings. Brief is the operative word. After reading the first chapter (re: issue), I counted the pages as it had seemed like very little had happened other than to set the plot for the remainder of the book (collecting 8 issues and more) and introduce the three main characters and maybe tidbits about who they are. These are some good first steps for a first issues, but not enough to really engage an satisfy me, but I'd dropped probably at least $15 on it (retail price of $17.95 from Oni Press) and wanted to try to get my money's worth.

Hell, if it wasn't for some beautiful looking women in the book I don't know that I'd have too much positive to state about it, not that it's a bad book. The artwork is fluid and pretty and serves to tell the story. I enjoy the depth Dela Cruz gives each page with the way he uses gray tones. Definite plus here.

With the remainder of the book, not too much happened with the plot, though it is sort of interesting how a guy, Damien, a young girl, Angela, and a sexy thief, Raevyn, end up on the run together, with tension between the guy, the young girl obsessed with him, and the sexy thief. It's noticed by Angela that there is sexual tension between her protector and hero Damien, who doesn't seem to pay her much attention, and Raevyn, who seemingly has the option to leave the trio after being kidnapped at gunpoint for use of the car she was hotwiring when the police showed up to nab Damien for a murder he's accused of.

The dialogue...is OK. I'm not sure how old Damien and Raevyn are supposed to be, maybe early 20s while Angela may be underage and we only learn of what goes on in her head by reading her thought captions that read like a dear diary. Raevyn never shuts up and Angelia dislikes her for all of the nothing she says and Damien seems to be a somewhat overly typical guy once in this situation, with not much interesting to say or add to the plot.

There are some subplots that probably continue in later story arcs, but I don't think I'm likely to take the time to locate or read them, even if available through the library. Ultimately it's all nice to look at, but otherwise not terribly engaging. I'd like to see more happen in less time. Should anyone let me know the later issues get better, I may change my mind as I don't think Dela Cruz's writing is hopeless.

Check out the Kissing Chaos website for more information about the comic, its creator, and other work he's done.

For the image used in this review, I again give my thanks to the ComicBook Database.

Buy This Comic Now: Resident Alien 0-2

http://comicbookdb.com/graphics/comic_graphics/1/497/247290_20120419160005_large.jpg I cannot praise this comic book enough and I want you to buy it and support these creators, but only if you love or even only like murder mysteries and stories about benign aliens who have fallen to earth and are await rescue while having a deep impact on the people around them, a la The Man Who Fell to Earth or Starman. Maybe even if you don't like those sorts of stories you'll enjoy Resident Alien, published by Dark Horse Comics.

I'd stopped buying new comics regularly during summer of 2010 and only recently decided to buy three or four comics a month at a mere $9-14 total. A brief plot synopsis and the cover and skimming the interior of Resident Alien 0 fascinated me enough to buy it for $3.50 (I usually won't pay more than $2.99 out of disgust at Marvel and DC) and it sat in a short box for two months as I watched issue 1 come out and then 2 and I thought to myself, Let me read issue 0 before it's too late to get these later issues. I am so glad I read the zero issue, which collects three chapters from Dark Horse Presents and drew me into the seemingly simple world created by Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse, veterans of comics such as England's 2000 AD.

http://comicbookdb.com/graphics/comic_graphics/1/501/249019_20120523202713_large.jpg

Our protagonist, who goes by the moniker of a an MD, Dr. Harry Vanderspiegel, is a humanoid alien who has seemingly limited telepathic powers that allow him the ability to cloud his appearance to those around him, thereby appearing human. Flipping through the comic before buying it, I'd thought everyone knew he was an alien, which created an even more fascinating world to me, yet when I learned the truth, I wasn't disappointed because everything in this comic works so far in issues 0-2.

Whether through these powers or his incredibly powers of observation, he's able to read the truth and feelings in the people around him. His chosen last name is Vanderspeigel, which roughly translates into "of the looking glass," giving readers a chance to see ourselves through the eyes of this otherworldly visitor as he tried to figure out who murdered the town doctor. About one in a million humans have the ability to see through his disguise, so with living in a small mountain town, what are the odds of meeting someone with that ability?

When you live in the Pacific Northwest you're bound to live near people

http://comicbookdb.com/graphics/comic_graphics/1/505/251031_20120627192849_large.jpg

of indigenous origins and whether Hogan is knowledgeable about First Nations folklore or merely using that "Indian" trope of "greater than normal abilities," one of the magazine's supporting cast sees Dr. Vanderspiegel's face as a blur, for now.

When the town's only general practitioner us murdered, our protagonist, who'd lived as a recluse on a lake in the woods for three years reluctantly fills the doctor's role at the request of the slick-tongued mayor (think Jaws). Our resident alien is absolutely fascinated by humans and the murder mystery he's taken upon himself to solve as a serial killer may be loose and the mayor and chief of police are definitely hiding something, yet he can't seem to pick up on this.

The artwork and coloring contribute wonderfully to the telling of this tale and the pacing is well done, easing readers into this world and helping us like the protagonist even more than the revelation of his thoughts and actions alone. Good pacing like this is difficult to find.

Flashbacks show men in black locating Harry's crashed ship, so will they be a part of the stunning conclusion to this series or are they dealt with in more flashback pages? I'm so curious to find out and how the night nurse will react when her vision finally clears and she sees this visitor for who he truly is, as if his appearance is more important than his actions and reason for being.

I absolutely cannot wait for the third issue and conclusion to this series and pray it will not disappoint! Ask your local comics retailer to ask Diamond Comics Distributor for these awesome comics and reserve your copy of the final act!

I'd like to thank the inimitable Comic Book Database for cover images for 0-2 and the Dark Horse Comics website for the issue 3 cover images.

The Theatre Bizarre: A Mixed Bag Horror Film Anthology

Anthologies are always a crap shoot, even low-budget indie film anthologies in which the directors have free reign to create the characters and worlds they want. This one is no different. There are a range of films, some lame, some decent, and one I would actually recommend to people, maybe two.

There is a framing sequence loosely connecting each story as part of an overall performance starring the illustrious Udo Kier, which is part of what helped sell me on this library find. Jeremy Kasten directs these scenes, titled "Theatre Guignol," featuring Kier and many actors playing these sort of papier-mâché automatons with creepy, gear-grinding movements. I'm not sure what happened at the end of this sequence, but it was somewhat cool to watch for the creepiness of the robotic movements of the actors as they foreshadowed each entry.

The second best entry is Karim Hussain's "Vision Stains," in which a woman murders female drug addicts and injects the fluid from their eyes into her own to give witness to the lives of these lost and forgotten women. She records their lives in notebooks, of which there are hundreds, if not thousands, thinking she's preserving their otherwise lost stories. To her, men's lives are not nearly as meaningful or fulfilling.

Apparently some viewers passed out, unable to handle the hypodermic needle piercing eyeballs. Dr. Frederic Wertham and the Comics Code Authority are probably rolling in their graves. When the protagonist sees an obviously pregnant crackhead walking down the street I thought I was going to be witness to something especially horrific, but the scene wasn't as graphic as I would have done it (think Prometheus medical-pod scene). People would've passed out then. The film almost lost me then because the result wasn't what I was expecting and it turns out maybe the protagonist is merely crazy and could not actually see the lives of these forgotten women.

The best entry in this anthology is "The Accident"' which has an art film quality and isn't terribly bizarre as it takes a straightforward approach to the concept of death as the little girl witnesses the results of a highway accident and simply asks her mother why people die. It's soft and sweet and made me cry. Something sorely lacking in many films is emotional resonance. If there's a WOW! factor in "The Accident," it's in that it can achieve a connection with the audience's hearts and minds as there aren't necessarily any satisfying answers to this question, but we've all wondered this at some time. I absolutely have to comment on the biker in this film as his face has such character etched in every line and wrinkle and on top of that he emotes so well in his silence, which is what brought me to tears. I plan to check out more of writer/director Douglas Buck's work.

It's mostly downhill from here. The first and weakest film is Richard Stanley's "The Mother of Toads," which was only good in that the male lead is a hot bearded guy and it also stars a porn star with a stacked body and the two have a hot sex scene, otherwise, the story and tone were incredibly weak and felt like the usual SyFy Channel schlock, but with nudity.

Tom Savini, of original Dawn of the Dead fame, directs "Wet Dreams," about an asshole who beats his wife and cheats on her and ends up subject to her torturous "wet dreams," the result familiar to something out of Warren or EC horror comics of the 1950s. Gruesome special effects and torture ideas, but I didn't much care for it otherwise. I wasn't truly brought into that world.

"I Love You," directed by Buddy Giovainazzo wasn't bad, but wasn't good. I felt a little like I was watching clips of Tommy Wiseau's The Room, only better made and acted, but still not very engaging, featuring something of a shock ending a la The Sixth Sense, only not original.

"Sweets" is the final entry, directed by David Gregory. Like "I Love You," it features a pathetic boyfriend who doesn't have a sense of self and is therefore subject to the whims of his significant other who, in this case, is merely fattening him up for a foodie's gory feast. This film is mostly gross and doesn't offer much else but some pretty fetish model moments.

The DVD also includes interviews with three of the directors, a really weak behind-the-scenes feature, which spends what felt like three meaningless minutes a piece on each of the entries, and a director's commentary I don't care to hear more of than I listened to half-heatedly for 40 minutes, especially because the director of the best film did not contribute to this special feature.

Ultimately, give the two good films and the framing sequence a shot and roll the die on the other four.

Coming Soon: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Beasts of the Southern Wild may be one of those indie films somehow missed by the mass public. I will do my best to not let that happen. This film looks magical and full of hope and emotional resonance and beautiful cinematography and storytelling. Only time will tell, but I will now tell you I am excited and anticipate its arrival in theatres.

There's a US release date of 27 June 2012, according to IMDB.

Visit the movie's official site.

Beasts of the Southern Wild from Sydney Film Festival on Vimeo.

I want to know if his first name is Herman: A Mermin #4 Review

I dig this cover. What I dig is the whale. The sperm whale. I think it's a sperm whale and no, it's not just because it has the word "sperm" in it. There's something about the shape of it's big round head (I'm seriously not trying to be perverted here) and it's baleen-filled mouth (see, that's not dirty--right?). It just looks cool and sort of fierce and cute all at once, with its angry eyes looking up at the little marine iguana-looking green humanoid from the deep. It may be hard to tell, but the cover is a sort of silver glittery paper, with Mermin, the green fishboy, a sticker. Rad idea. Excellent presentation and I dunno if this is a signed edition, but the author's first name and a little headshot of Memin appear on the inside back cover, in gold ink, which looks fantastic on the silver paper.

The series seems to be about a fishboy, Mermin, who has fled his father and the life aquatic and is pursued by his father's mercenary minions. In this issue, Mermin must face his fears and confront said minions, ending with a cliffhanger as it's revealed that Mermin may have some crazy-insane powers. Or it's a cheap trick from the creator to get us to buy the next issue, but cool nonetheless.

The interior art is simple and cartoony, like the cover, and Weiser tells the story clearly and effectively, though for me, this sort of story is overdone and this aquatic twist doesn't grab me, despite my liking the whale guy's appearance.

Cost: This one's got a $2.00 price on it for 20 pages, plus cover. Mermin 4 was a part of my huge bargain buy from Adhouse, that I keep referring to in my 2011 Richmond Zine Fest After Action Report, the endless box of goodies and just OKs, so far.

Publication: 2010

Contact: Joey Weiser can be reached via the Tragic-Planet website where you can see and buy a plethora of work from this creator.

Recommendation: While this comic is cute, it's not for me, like most all-ages, kid-friendly books.

While I'm adding it to my virtual lending library (you know, send postage and return when done or pass on to someone who will enjoy it), I have a feeling I'm going to be putting this one aside for Mark! as he expressed interested in Weiser's other comic, Monster Isle, I reviewed recently, and he creates his own aquatic-theme comics, like this here stingray episode.