The sixteenth collection of the astounding graphic novel series The Walking Dead, A Larger World, is recently published, and the creators continue to vindicate my decision to follow this one for years and years and years. As I wrote of the 15th volume, The Walking Dead has sucked me in through several narrative techniques: it opened with the action-packed violence of the zombie outbreak; settled into a long run of stories in which hope dwindled away by a thousand cuts, leaving me in a kind of eternal misery for the plucky, flawed heroes I'd come to love; and has finally moved into a kind of twisted glimmer of hope, though there's still no guarantee that hope won't be cruelly snatched away.
Kirkman has spent his years of zombie storytelling to go to a place where few writers have dared -- a story of a kind of zombie cold war, where zombies move from being "problems" to being "facts." These books are populated by scarred and wildly imperfect people who are trying very, very hard to do the right thing, and even when the reader can foresee their upcoming disaster, it's easy to understand why an intelligent person in the characters' shoes would take the awful course of action. This is horror without the idiot plots, without the "let's split up and run to different secluded places" tropes, in which bad guys and good guys are all all-to-believable. It's the only kind of horror that can really sustain itself at this length, and it's a marvel. Read the rest
Cartoonist Donna Barstow often broaches political themes.
Paging Charles Carreon! Someone on the internet wants money from mocking critics, but may need a hand with the legal not-so-niceties.
Slate cartoonist Donna Barstow railed on Monday at online forum Something Awful, whose denizens often repost her work and subject it to withering ridicule. Though one of many artists to find their work attacked online, Barstow is fighting back, demanding payment and accusing the site of copyright infringement. Read the rest
Bird and Moon comics offers this helpful illustration of how evolution screwed over the parakeet.
See the full comic, "Evolution Sucks"
Via David Ng Read the rest
Philip Harris's beautiful illustrated alphabet, From A to B and through to Z is a grotesque wonder of animals acting out different trades, and each drawing is more fabulous than the last. Mr Harris has graciously provided us with five of these, at a high enough resolution that you can really see the awesomeness:
D is for Docks
M is for Market
P is for Performance
U is for Underground
W is for Worship
Philip Harris Comic "From A to B and through to Z"
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I had no idea that the great Gilbert Hernandez released a new comic book mini-series today. It's available on iTunes and Android, and at your local comic book shop.
Comics luminary Gilbert Hernandez envisions his strangest, most thrilling future yet! A drug called "spin" offers the wildest trip imaginable, followed by its users' inevitable, rapid deterioration into undead flesh eaters. Despite the side effect, the drug is so popular that the human population is dying out! With no cure to be found, the beautiful, lovesick Fatima may be the only thing standing between the survivors and the apocalypse. Get ready for four issues of zombies, drug lords, and gorgeous women! Read the rest
King City collects Brandon Graham's magnificent Tokyo Pop comic serial in one mammoth, $11 (cheap!) trade paperback edition, and man, is that a deal.
Take the sprawling, weird, perverse cityscape of Transmetropolitan, mix in the goofy, punny humor of Tank Girl, add ultraviolent gang warfare, the impending resurrection of a death-god, and a secret society of cat-masters whose feline familiars can serve as super-weapons and tactical material, and you're getting in the neighbourhood of King City.
Graham's black-and-white line drawings have the detail of a two-page spread in MAD Magazine and a little bit of Sergio Argones in their style, if Argones was more interested in drawing the battle-scarred veterans of a Korean xombie war who consume each others' powdered bones to drive away the madness.
Despite the fact that this is a very, very funny story, it manages to be more than a comedy. Joe the cat-master's lost love, Pete the bagman's moral crisis, and Max the veteran's trauma are all real enough to tug at your heart-strings, even as you read the goofy puns off the fine-print labels on the fetishistically detailed illustrations showing King City and its weird and wonderful inhabitants.
JWZ wrote "It's the best comic-book-type thing I've read in quite some time. The trade is a huge phonebook-sized thing and it's awesome." He's right.
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Zita the Space Girl is Ben Hatke's 2011 kids' science fiction graphic novel about a young girl's adventures on a distant world that she is transported to after clicking a mysterious button that she finds in the center of a meteor crater. It's a pure delight. Zita's friend Joseph is sucked through the portal first, and she bravely pursues him, and finds herself on a world that's half Vaughn Bode, half Mos Eisley Cantina, populated by the motleyest assortment of robots, aliens, and beasts you could ever hope to meet. She quickly collects some powerful enemies -- primarily a tentacle-beast assassin in the employ of the Scriptorians, the planet's indigenous death-cultists, who engineered the kidnap of Joseph so that they could sacrifice him, fulfill an ancient prophecy and divert the doomsday asteroid that's set to destroy their world in a matter of days.
But Zita also finds allies: the immensely strong, none-too-bright steveadore Strong Strong; a rascally rogue of a showman called Piper (he can lull his enemies to sleep with his high-tech tin whistle); a vengeance-minded flying battledroid called One; a giant mouse with a printer around its neck called Pizzicato, and a shaky, neurotic robot called Randy. Together, they must penetrate the badlands, fight off the minions of the Scriptorians, and rescue Joseph, and either avert or escape the asteroid that is hurtling toward them.
Creator Ben Hatke's story fires on all cylinders -- Zita's adventures are funny, exciting, well-paced, and suspenseful. The art is fabulous, expressive and imaginative, and the characters are delightful. Read the rest
St Colin and the Dragon is a perfectly great 27-page kids' comic about a dragon that hatches in a faraway kingdom and the dumb things that the residents of the kingdom try to get rid of it. They give it an endless parade of sheep to eat, in the hopes that it will mature, grow wings and fly away. But no such thing happens. So Colin, the king's disgraced ex-squire, decides to join the knights who ride out to challenge it. All the big, tough guys are defeated, but Colin figures out what the dragon really wants and saves the kingdom. And then things get weird. In a good way.
St Colin was created by Philippa Rice, whose long-running My Cardboard Life comic (more aimed at grownups) uses the same torn-paper style that makes St Colin such a treat.
I read St Colin to my four-and-a-half-year-old at bedtime earlier this week, and it's had two re-reruns since, because she loves it. There's also plenty of grown up fun in the humorous and sometimes wry dialogue.
You can buy St Colin on its own for £6.50, or together with the massive, perfect-bound My Cardboard Life book for £15.00, should you want one book for the kid(s) and another for the grownup(s). I certainly recommend both to you.
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After six years and 72 issues, Brian Wood has finally finished his epic graphic novel DMZ, and the final issues are collected in a collection, entitled The Five Nations of New York.
There is practically nothing I can tell you about this installment that isn't a spoiler. So, without going into detail, let me say that this is the kind of ending you really want for a story you've followed, been moved by, and lived in for half a decade. Wood has nailed the dismount here, pulled off an ending that literally made the hair on the back of my neck stand up as I read the final pages, and after I closed the cover, it left me with my eyes closed, holding the book against my body, as I absorbed the impact.
If you're just tuning in, DMZ is the story of an America caught in the midst of so many "elective" overseas military adventures that the nation itself crumbles and is gripped in a civil war between a guerrilla force of the "Free United States" and the military-industrial complex, mostly in the form of vicious, private military contractors. NYC is the place where the two forces clash, the "DMZ" where there are many civilians, but no innocents. Matty Roth, the story's hero, is a helper with a news crew for Liberty News, the hyper-patriotic, semi-state-owned propaganda news service. As he arrives in New York, his helicopter is shot down, and he finds himself catapulted into a new role as a boy reporter. Read the rest
"X-Men Guernica" -- a marvellous reworking of the Picasso by DeviantArt's Theamat, who was participating in an "Alternate Reality Character Designs" contest on The Line it is Drawn!. I've grabbed a thumbnail here, click through for the full-size (including a massive high-rez suitable for desktop wallpaper).
(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)
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Matt sez, "The School of Library and Inoformation Management at Emporia State University (Kansas, USA) unveiled a comic book aimed at generating newfound excitement for librarianship and increasing the awareness of the many opportunities that an MLS/MLIS degree can provide. From the same team that created Library of the Living Dead and Monster Clash, Supreme Librarians in Metaspace is a promotional comic that highlights the many facets of librarianship in a quirky, tongue-in-cheek manner. This resource encourages librarians around the world to take a look at the profession in a new light. And maybe have a laugh or two while doing it."
Supreme Librarians in Metaspace
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Back when I worked at mental_floss magazine, I wrote up a short article on the life of Cheng I Sao, a 19th-century Chinese woman who rose from prostitution to became one of the most successful pirates of all time, commanding a fleet of thousands.
It's a great tale, though I'd almost forgotten about it until writer Natalie Kim twittered at me recently to tell me about a project that mental_floss story had inspired. Working with artist Robin Ha, Kim has turned the story of Cheng I Sao (also known as Cheng Shih) into a short comic in Secret Identities Volume 2, an upcoming anthology of Asian-American superhero stories. Here's what Kim wrote about why the story of Cheng I Sao/Cheng Shih was interesting to her:
To summarize, Ching Shih was an actual woman who lived in the 19th century and worked as a prostitute. Eventually she married a pirate and when he died, she took over and was one of the most successful pirates of her time. (To add to her badassery, after her husband died she married her adopted step son!) The British tried to get rid of her but she proved elusive and ended up living a very long and prosperous life.
The story struck me as so unusual because most stories about Asian women are how they had been physically abused but remained ultra loyal to an elusive man and their reward is that they sprout into a beautiful blossom flower.
You can see a small preview page on Natalie Kim's website. Read the rest
JOIN Tom the Dancing Bug's elite INNER HIVE and receive untold BENEFITS and PRIVILEGES! Read the rest
In a series called Hagiographies, an Italian artist called Igor Scalisi Palminteri reinterprets the pantheon of saints by repainting religious statuettes as superheroes. They're really very well done.
Igor Scalisi Palminteri: Superhero Saints
(via Super Punch)
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Jonathan Fetter-Vorm's Trinity is a nonfiction book-length comic for adults about the birth of nuclear weapons. It covers the wartime events that spawned the idea of a nuclear weapons program, the intense period of wrangling that gave rise to the Manhattan Project, the strange scientific town in the New Mexico desert that created the A-bomb, the tactical and political decision-making process that led to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the unspeakable horror experienced by the people in those cities and the existential crises the Nuclear Age triggered for scientists, politicians, and the world at large. Though this is primarily a history book, Trinity is also a pretty good nuclear physics primer, making good use of the graphic novel form to literally illustrate the violence of atoms tearing themselves apart, and the weird, ingenious, improvised mechanisms for triggering and controlling that violence.
I think Trinity is a very good book. It manages to be short and straightforward without being crude or lacking nuance. Fetter-Vorm does a great job of bringing the personalities involved in the bomb's creation to life, and to show the way that human relationships -- as much as physics -- resulted in the bomb's invention and use. He walks a fine, non-partisan line on the need to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki, opting instead to lay out the facts in a (to my eye) fair and neutral way that neither argues that the bombing was a necessity, nor that it was a callous whim from a military apparatus that wanted to test out its latest gadget. Read the rest
Chris Sims, Laura Hudson and Colleen Coover have executed as series of "Great Comics That Never Happened" for Comics Alliance, and they're fabulous. Exhibits A and B: Great Comics that Never Happened: Batman and Jay-Z Solve 99 Problems! (Chris Sims), and Great Comics That Never Happened #21: Jack Kirby's 'My Little Pony' (also Chris Sims) (Hudson has a good line on Christmas-themed work).
Great Comics That Never Happened
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