Strange superhero Flaming Carrot goes digital

The 1980s had many surreal and outré comic-book stars. I recall particularly following The Tick, Concrete, and Nexus. They were respectively a nigh-invulnerable, possibly mentally ill superhero with a chubby accountant sidekick in a moth-themed flying suit; a writer whose brain was transplanted by aliens (themselves possibly escaped slaves) into a nearly invulnerable rock-like body often performing missions of mercy; and a man (later others, including men, women, and children) picked by a nearly omnipotent being residing in the center of a planet to atone the genocide of his father by being forced to be an almost indestructible and thoroughly powerful superhero, lest he face disabling pain.

You catch the theme here, right? Omnipotence, invulnerability, superhero—all but the Tick reluctant. Into that mix, Flaming Carrot was something altogether different.

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Legends of Zita the Space Girl: a worthy followup to the most excellent kids' science fiction graphic novel

Back in June, I reviewed the delightful science fiction kids' comic Zita the Spacegirl and mentioned that the sequel would be out in September. That sequel, Legends of Zita the Spacegirl, comes out today, and is a most worthy follow-on to a most excellent kids' comic.

The first volume of Zita introduced us to Zita, a regular girl from Earth, throws herself through a transdimensional portal to rescue a friend, and comes to ally herself with a motley band of robots, aliens, a giant mouse, and a rogueish showman named Piper, fighting off a death-cult that is determined to perform a human sacrifice to avert a deadly asteroid impact.

In Legend, Zita is now a celebrity, travelling from world to world with Piper and her friends, being exhibited to gawkers who want a glimpse of the hero who saved Scriptorium. On one nameless space-station -- a worldlet every bit as weird and hilarious as the setting in book one -- Zita meets a very special admirer amidst the throng. Her new friend is a discontinued doppelganger robot with the power to assume the likeness of anyone it meets. The poor robot has been literally doomed to the scrapheap, the last of its kind, and when it meets Zita, they swap identities, and Zita gets a moment of much-needed respite from the crowds.

This seems like a great deal to Zita (and her giant mouse friend, Pizzicato) until the robot decides to make the switch permanent, and takes off with Piper and Zita's friends to attempt the rescue of yet another world from an invasion of bloodthirsty Star Hearts. Read the rest

Help DC comics writer Karl Kesel pay for his baby's medical treatment

Comics writer Karl Kesel and his wife recently adopted a baby whose parents were addicted to heroin. This is the sort of backstory that would normally land a kid in the foster-care system, which does not, statistically speaking, offer much hope at a full and happy life. The Kesels have seriously done some good here, but it's cost them. Their son Isaac racked up $67,000 in medical bills during his first few months of life (it's not clear yet how much of that will be covered by Myrna Kesel's insurance), and it cost another $25,000 to adopt him. Karl Kesel is selling off his collection of comic books to pay the bills, but some Redditors have set up a crowd-funding campaign to help out. You can donate for the next two days. Read the rest

Happy Women Reading Comics in Public Day!

When I was about 10, I developed an obsessive love for The X-Men. It started with the Saturday morning cartoon show, but quickly became about comic books, as well. To this day, long-overwritten plot points from the Marvel universe take up a significant portion of my memory space (as my husband can attest). In my marriage, I am the one who is called upon to flesh out the backstory and conflicts with source material after my husband and I have seen an action-hero movie.

But I didn't own a single comic book until I was 19.

In fact, I'm not sure my parents or friends even knew I liked comic books. All my reading, for nine years, was done in secret. I'd slip into the comic book aisle at the bookstore when nobody was around to see, grab an anthology off the shelf, and spend the next two hours nestled in a corner somewhere — with the comics safely hidden behind a magazine or large book. I did the same thing at the public library. Never even checked one out. If I couldn't finish a library comic anthology in one afternoon, I'd hide it in a seldom-used section and come back the next day. (My apologies to the librarians of the world for that.)

Partly, that shame and fear came was about being labeled a nerd, in general. But there was, for me, also a pretty heavy gender component. Tall, clumsy, nerdy, ignorant of fashion or makeup, and definitely not "attractive" in the way that sheltered pre-teen and teenage society defines it, I spent a good chunk of my adolescence paranoid about my identity as a female. Read the rest

Uninsured comic artist with cancer draws the moment she opens first big medical bill

[larger size.] Chicago-based comic artist Laura Park (@llaurappark) was recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She underwent surgery in June, and illustrated the moment she opened the first big bill in July.

I know that feel, bro. I know that feel.

(via Emma Smith) Read the rest

Batman Earth One: rebooting the bat

Batman: Earth One is a reboot of the Batman story written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Gary Frank. It's a timely book, coinciding with the conclusion of the trilogy of Christopher Nolan Batman films, and it offers a very good entry to the series for people who haven't followed it closely until now.

We've seen a lot of remixes and retellings of the Batman origin story, and I think this is my favorite to date. Johns dispenses with some of the less plausible aspects of the Batman myth, and presents us with a Gotham that is out of control, corrupt, dark and glorious. There's a haunted house, there are serial killers, Hollywood phonies, and a mayor named Oswald Cobblepot.

The book moves swiftly, hits all the right emotional notes, and is beautifully made and illustrated. I picked my copy up at Secret Headquarters on a recent trip to LA, on staff recommendation (I've never gotten a bum steer from SHQ). It's got me excited about Batman comics for the first time in 20 years.

Batman: Earth One Read the rest

Last Dandy comic to roll off press

The Dandy, Britain's long-running childrens' comic, is to end after 75 years. Publisher DC Thomson promises that plans are afoot for its popular characters; sister comic The Beano will remain in print. [BBC] Read the rest

Kickstarting a fun card-battling game

Darren sez, "Obsidian Abnormal is the creator of Commissioned, a madcap webcomic with zombies, gnomes, ninjas, cats and nerds. So Obsidian and I made a card game that pits them against each other - 3v3: Commissioned. It's a unique spin on deck-building. While every card has the normal attack values, defense values and special abilities on it, you can only use a third of three different cards to cobble together a hand."

Premiums for this Kickstarter include a ride in an airship! Darren's also the guy who did Monster Alphabet, another great Kickstarter project.

3v3 is a unique battling card game. Every hand you draw three cards. Each card has an attack, a defense and a special ability, but you have to pick which card is your attack, which is your defense and which is your ability. Then you play your three cards against your opponent's three cards.

You can score up to three points in a hand, and the first one to 10 points wins the round. But every time your opponent scores a point, you have to remove a card from your deck. This creates a fast-paced and fun gaming environment, with quick thinking needed to pick which cards to send to the scoreboard.

3v3: The Commissioned Comic Card Game Read the rest

XKCD with a very boingy punchline

Daww, that was nice of him: Randall Monroe's made me the punchline of another XKCD!

Update: Hey, this is from 2008! I missed it then. No matter -- it was funny then, it's funny now.

Starwatching Read the rest

Mom makes painted Batman Converse

A redditor called zacch asked his mom to paint him a pair of Batman Converse. She came through with flying (and suitably gloomy) colors.

I couldn't afford a pair of Batman Converse that I wanted so my talented mom said she would paint on some existing shoes. She did not disappoint. (x-post r/batman) (imgur.com) Read the rest

Down in Smoke: through comics, Susie Cagle chronicles the DEA raids on medical marijuana facilities in California

At Cartoon Movement, "graphic journalist" Susie Cagle (Twitter) surveys the impact of recent DEA raids of medical marijuana centers, and legal attacks against Harborside and the like, in 'Down In Smoke'. The work includes sound clips, which is brilliant.

Oakland, California. Ground zero for a medical marijuana fight between states and the federal government that has only been heating up. Incorporating real audio from activists, Cagle portrays what "feels like class war" as local growers, patients and city officials fight against losing their jobs, medicine, and tax revenue.

The whole thing is here, and it's fantastic. Susie has done some of the best reporting I've seen of the Occupy movement and related protests in America—she's been jailed and injured for it. The fact that her reporting is focused through the medium of comics is just so innovative and cool. She takes true risks for her reporting, and what comes out of it is insightful, informative, and funny. I just love her work.

 My Dinner with Marijuana: chemo, cannabis, and haute cuisine ... A rant on marijuana dispensaries, and the quest for a living wage in ... Pot legalization is on the ballot in three US states. What happens ... Osama bin Smokin'? Marijuana found at Abbottabad compound ... Read the rest

Four comics panels that never work

Here's Mark Waid's fitting tribute to Wally Wood's "Twenty-Two Panels That Always Work" -- four panels that don't. Also available as a handsome print, suitable for framing and display near to one's drafting table.

Mark Waid's Four Panels That Never Work (via Making Light) Read the rest

Patrick Farley reboots Cloverfield

The great (and maddeningly erratic) Patrick Farley has a typically awesome new comic up: "Cloverfield Rebooted," in which the monster's true nature is revealed.

Cloverfield Rebooted (via JWZ) Read the rest

Comic legend Mark Waid on the medium's future

Turnstyle's Noah Nelson interviewed comic book great Mark Waid, longtime creator of adventures for Superman, Batman, Spider-man and The Incredibles. He's now mastering the format's transition to digital media such as the iPad.

“That doesn’t change the image but it completely changes the context of what the story is.”

Take the comic Waid wrote for Marvel’s new “Infinite Comics” line. A hero hurtles through space, a red-orange blur behind him. When the reader swipes the screen, the page doesn’t turn. Instead the image shifts focus. The blur becomes the fiery cosmic Phoenix, the X-Men’s most deadly foe.

“I got news for you, I’ve been doing this for 25 years and this is the hardest writing I’ve ever had to do,” Waid said.

Be sure to play the audio at Noah's article: it's fantastically produced. Read the rest

Doonesbury has a new protagonist

Doonesbury has an official new lead character: Alex Doonesbury, the daughter of Mike Doonesbury, who has been the comic's protagonist for more than 40 years. Writing for ThinkProgress, Alyssa Rosenberg does a great job of summing up Alex's appeal, and what it means to have a new generation at the fore of one of the most significant, long-running comic-strips in America:

Daily cartoon strips may not get as much credit as they ought to for shaping the cultural zeitgeist, but throughout her life, and mine, Alex Doonesbury’s been one of the best female characters, of any age, in any medium. She’s a child of divorced parents with a complicated relationship with her mother that made her mature and self-protective rather than the victim of cliche trauma, and loving, collaborative tie to her stepmother, a Vietnamese refugee adopted by American Jews. In addition to both of these women, Alex has a father who spars with her on politics, works with her on business projects, and treats her like a mature person with worthy ideas. She’s been a full member of the cast almost from her birth because she was that important in Mike’s life, and she became so in ours. Alex is a computer genius without falling into sexy hacker tropes, and her skills brought her closer to her parents and all the way to MIT, a point of pride so fierce that MIT students rigged the voting to win her as a fictional fellow student. And her love story with Toggle, a disabled veteran with less education and a decidedly different family background from Alex’s own, has been part of Doonesbury’s transition into a more expansive portrait of American life.

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Comics Rack: The Hypo, Snake Oil #7, Drama and Turtie Needs Work

Happy Read Comics in Public month! In honor of the world's fourth favorite made-up geek holiday (August 28th -- happy early birthday, Jack Kirby!) here are some picks to help you get started on your outdoor sequential art consuming skills. This time out, we've got something for the history buffs, something for the kids, something for the metal heads and, of course, something for the unemployed turtles.

The Hypo: The Melancholic Young Lincoln By Noah Van Sciver Fantagraphics Books

That’s short for “hypomania,” Lincoln’s self-prescribed melancholy, a lifelong battle with depression that hit like a ton of bricks in the young lawyer’s mid-20s. For those who have had some trouble accessing one of the most mythologized figures in American history (a category I'd imagine applies to most of us), Noah Van Sciver offers a pretty good place to start -- a young Lincoln moving to a new city, confused and awkward in love and life, given to bouts of darkness and moody poetry. It’s a short small snapshot of the future president’s life -- and it’s in this limited scope that the book finds its success, not beholden to the birth to death summations that often entrap graphic biographers. Instead, The Hypo's relatively limited scope afford the cartoonist the ability to approach the historical giant as a human, offering an empathetic examination of a troubled individual destined for greatness. Read the rest

Music industry, in sum

In three four short panels, the Oatmeal does a fine job of capturing the problem and promise of the music industry in the 21st century.

The state of the music industry - The Oatmeal (via Reddit) Read the rest

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