A sushi comic from the sick, twisted, and food-obsessed mind of Anthony Bourdain

Like Sushi? Like hyper violent yakuza movies? Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi is a comic that could only have come from the sick, twisted, and food-obsessed mind of Anthony Bourdain. And I’m pretty sure he’d take the whole sick and twisted mind thing as the compliment it was intended to be. The latest book, Blood and Sushi is a prequel to 2013’s Get Jiro!, this time we learn the backstory of how Jiro went from Yakuza enforcer to renowned LA sushi chef.

By day, Jiro helps run his father’s crime empire along with his maniacal half-brother, but by night Jiro trains to become a master sushi chef. His two sides are on a collision course that plays out across Japan and leaves a bloody wake. The artwork is incredible. Each frame balances the futuristic Japan, the beauty of the cuisine, and the grizzly katana-induced carnage.

This comic is full bore, unhinged, Bourdain madness. If you’re familiar with his travel shows, then you’ve probably gotten a taste of his dark humor, disdain for vegetarians, and obscure cinematic references — but the Jiro series takes it to a new level. It’s violent. It’s weird. I can’t get enough.

Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi by Anthony Bourdain, Joel Rose Vertigo 2015, 160 pages, 7 x 0.5 x 10.5 inches, Hardcover $15 Buy one on Amazon

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

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Nick Offerman shares his misadventures in sawdust and workshop projects for all levels

I got into woodworking recently after buying my first house. I started building furniture not so much as a hobby, but because after buying a house I couldn’t afford furniture to fill it. My thinking was, why spend a couple hundred bucks at Ikea buying a wobbly table, when I could buy a couple tools off Craigslist, get some lumber, and build exactly what I want. My utilitarian need to create something I could eat dinner off of, turned into a deep respect for woodworkers. So I was excited to read Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Woodshop. It combines my newfound joy of gluing wood together, and my fandom for all things Nick Offerman.

If you’re not aware, Offerman is an actor, comedian, author, but throughout it all he’s been working with wood as both a hobby and way of life. While Good Clean Fun is filled with Offerman’s sense of humor, it’s very much a shop book. You will learn how to build a birdhouse whether you like it or not.

Offerman sets up the book, explaining some Shop 101 tips, then he and other members of his woodshop walk you through how to build different projects. They explain how to cut, sand, join, and finish things ranging from dining chairs to a wooden kazoo. This isn’t a joke-per-page book, well it is, but it also gets very technical. So if you have no interest in sawing, drilling, or the smell of cedar, this probably isn’t going to be your book. Read the rest

Anthony Bourdain's new cookbook is as much an artbook as it is recipes

Anthony Bourdain is an idol of mine. I read his breakout book Kitchen Confidential while I was working in a dingy Teriyaki Bar. I’ve watched as he’s eaten his way around the world. I’ve read every book he’s put out. I was first-in-line to pick up his only other cookbook released more than a decade ago — a collection of recipes from his time working at New York restaurant Les Halles. But his new one, Appetites: A Cookbook, is much more personal and really captures who I imagine Anthony Bourdain to be.

The recipes are a mishmash of cuisines taken from Bourdain’s travels and experiences, they’re what he likes to eat, and what he feeds his family. You’ll find new takes on old fare, like Mac and Cheese, Buttermilk Biscuits, and Thanksgiving Dinner. Also included, are recipes for some more worldly cuisine like Saffron Risotto, Banh Mi, and Poulet “Ev Vessie” Hommage á La Mére Brazier. Just don’t expect a chocolate tart recipe, as Bourdain’s not the biggest fan of baking sweets, or as he says, “Fuck Dessert.”

On the cover of Appetites: A Cookbook is an incredible painting done by Ralph Steadman, which sets up the elegant punk rock vibe that fills the book. The food being photographed is often gristly, squiggly, and to some people “gross,” but it’s shot in a beautiful way. There are shots of his Jiu Jitsu star wife putting someone in a headlock, friend and fellow cook Eric Ripert, and lots of vivid color, making this as much of an art book as a cookbook. Read the rest

EveryDayCook – A welcome evolution from what Alton Brown did with Good Eats

I discovered Alton Brown during the last few seasons of Good Eats, and I was instantly a fan. You’ve got to appreciate someone who can make a good martini. Brown’s Monty Python humor and Bill Nye nerdiness was right up my alley. Since the show ended, he seemed to publicly take off his apron and put on a jacket, acting as host and performer in many popular shows, a podcast, and live road show. But, if you’re like me, and missed Alton behind the stove, then get excited. EveryDayCook feels like his triumphant return as a cook.

The book’s a welcome evolution from what Brown did with Good Eats. While you won’t find yeast puppets, you will find his familiar humor and meticulous attention to detail. Each recipe is broken down with Brown explaining how to prepare the dish in a simple and clear way. It’s very apparent that this was a personal project for him, and that he had a hand in every aspect of the book, even the photography.

Each and every picture in the book was taken using an iPhone. A 6s Plus to be specific. Why? Because he uses an iPhone. But then, because he’s Alton freaking Brown he takes it a step further, and uses a top-down perspective for all of the photos. Now for non-photographers out there, just know, this is an incredibly difficult angle to shoot at. There are lighting issues, shadows can be a nightmare, you’re left wondering what kind of masochist would do this? Read the rest

Symmetry – Utopias are never perfect, are they?

Utopias are never perfect, are they? Symmetry offers some good heady sci-fi in the vein of 1984, Ender's Game, Equilibrium, or Fahrenheit 451. Imagine a world where humans are coddled and raised by machines, think Wall-E, but people haven’t become total blobs. Gender and identity are decided by the individual when they turn thirteen. And all races have been separated, so that most people will grow up not even realizing that other nationalities exist. Then one day a solar flare causes the machines to shut down and the wall between nations to break.

What follows is a great story that seems very relevant in today’s world. I think Symmetry does what sci-fi does best, it makes you think about what’s happening around you and where things might go if we aren’t careful. It’s clear that the creators spent a good deal of time thinking through these issues, and how the world in their book works. There’s actually a pretty lengthy sociological write-up included that dives further into some of the ideas that helped shape the story.

Volume 1 is satisfying, but definitely leaves you wanting more. The cel-shaded illustration feels like something out of a video game, which actually matches the story perfectly. Thankfully, Volume 2 is due out in December, so we’ll get to explore more of this world. Get caught up.

Symmetry Volume 1 by Matt Hawkins Image Comics 2016, 128 pages, 6.5 x 9.9 x 0.6 inches (softcover) $8 Buy a copy on Amazon Read the rest

Kaijumax – Like Orange is the New Black, but the prisoners are monsters straight from Godzilla

Kaijumax is a fun comic that will make you get all the feels for giant city-destroying monsters. It’s like Oz or Orange Is the New Black, only the prisoners in this case are monsters straight from your favorite Godzilla movies. The monsters are kept in check by guards who have Ultraman-like power suits, allowing them to grow to skyscraper size and lay down their own form of justice.

The story follows Electrogor, a monster and father who was apprehended for chewing on power cables in order to feed his children. As the new monster at Kaijumax, you follow him as he learns the ins and outs of how the prison works. There’s everything you could possibly hope for in a facility that houses the world’s deadliest creatures: corrupt guards, drugs, gangs, and a cult of mecha-monsters.

The artwork’s incredible. It brings a lightness to the otherwise surprisingly heavy subject matter. If you’re a fan of Godzilla, Power Rangers, Ultraman, or any other Kaiju movie or show, you’ll see some familiar characters hidden throughout. This is one of the weirdest comics that I’ve read in a while, but I loved every minute of it. Give giant monsters a chance, and check this one out.

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Kaijumax Season One by Zander Cannon Oni Press 2016, 168 pages, 6.6 x 10.1 x 0.4 inches (softcover) $8 Buy a copy on Amazon

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If you're in for Lovecraftian horror and Nazi punching, pick up B.P.R.D: 1946-1948

I can’t get enough of Mignola’s occult investigators. The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense first appeared in the Hellboy series, however the comics have spiraled off to rightfully stand on their own. This HUGE hardback collects stories from the Bureau’s early years, not long after its creation in 1944. If you’ve been following the series, this collection fills in a large gap between the organization's inception, and where the Hellboy comics pick up in the modern day.

A year after WWII ends, the Bureau is left trying to stamp out one of Hitler’s last ditch efforts to turn the war around. Professor Trevor Bruttenholm, Hellboy’s guardian, is seen here as a younger man battling the forces of evil, and trying to prevent the Reich from amassing power yet again.

There’s so much to love about this book – vampires, an evil Nazi head in a jar, sentient chimpanzees. The artwork is incredible. Mignola worked with a whole slew of illustrators all who brought a unique interpretation to the gothic style that fills out this world. Knowing a little about the Hellboy universe is helpful, but not necessary. If you’re up for some Lovecraftian horror and Nazi punching, definitely pick this one up

B.P.R.D: 1946-1948 by Mike Mignola Dark Horse Books 2015, 472 pages, 6.9 x 10.4 x 1.4 inches (hardcover) $24 Buy a copy on Amazon Read the rest

Aliens 30th Anniversary: The Original Comic Series

Aliens is one of my all-time favorite movies. A perfect mix of action, sci-fi and horror, which I would argue hasn’t been replicated. Then there’s Alien 3, and everything that came after it. I don’t like to talk about that. But, in 1988 after Aliens came and four years before the next movie would come out, this comic series ran which gave me the followup story I wanted.

The series has been published as Aliens: Book One, Aliens: Outbreak, and in novel form as Aliens: Earth Hive (a lot to keep track of), but since these publications were made after Alien 3 came out, names were changed to avoid confusion from the films continuation of the story. So Wilcks = Hicks and Billie = Newt. Thankfully this comic doesn’t do that. This printing features the comic as it was intended to be read with the characters we’re familiar with.

The story picks up a few years after the film ended. An adult Newt and aged Hicks are struggling to deal with the horrors they witnessed, and Ripley is ominously missing. The black-and-white comics really capture the gritty world that the movies take place in, expanding on it in the best way. Although the comic ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, the story is continued in Aliens: Nightmare Asylum, but you will have to deal with the name change of the main characters.

The book itself is beautiful. And black. Very black. It feels like something that was designed by H.R. Read the rest