Dark Night – Paul Dini's chilling autobiographical Batman tale

dark-night

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Dark Night: A True Batman Story by Paul Dini (author) and Eduardo Risso (illustrator) Vertigo 2016, 128 pages, 6.9 x 10.4 x 0.5 inches $14 Buy a copy on Amazon

Batman the Animated Series was perhaps the cartoon of my childhood. I remember watching it when it premiered, and followed it through its entire run. While I’ve loved the movies, and the comics, Batman for me will always be the voice of Kevin Conroy, and the Joker will always be Mark Hamill. I owe my love for Batman to this wonderful show that Paul Dini helped create, which is why I was so struck to read his chilling autobiographical Batman tale.

Like myself and many others, Dini too was hugely influenced by Batman through his childhood. The beginning of the book establishes how comics became a coping mechanism for Dini as he navigated through the world with social anxiety. His lonely but successful life is thrown upside down one night when he was mugged and beaten within an inch of his life.

Dini’s story is all about coming to grips with a world that can be cruel, dealing with demons, and finding a way to overcome. It’s a Batman story that doesn’t take place in the Batman universe. I found it tremendously moving, the artwork beautiful, and I highty recommend it. – JP LeRoux Read the rest

The Collector follows an 1880's rogue and dandy as he travels in search of treasures

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See sample images from this book at Wink.

The Collector by Sergio Toppi Archaia 2014, 252 pages, 8.5 x 11 x 1 inches $23 Buy a copy on Amazon

I was delighted to discover this terrific collection of comics by Italian artist Sergio Toppi. Although I’d never seen his work before, it instantly got my attention and seemed familiar. It combines a flat graphic art style, a swashbuckling sensibility and witty writing that I found irresistible.

Sergio Toppi (1932-2012) was an artist and illustrator from Italy, whose books have been published for decades in Europe but only recently translated and available in the U.S. through Archaia, a division of Boom Entertainment. The Collector won the Soleil D’Or prize for Best Series at the Soliès-Ville Festival. It’s easy to see why.

The book follows the exciting exploits of an 1880’s rogue and dandy, known as “The Collector,” as he travels the globe in search of treasures. Not a seeker of gold or jewels, he collects only artifacts with historical significance. This sets the stage for adventures featuring Hopi Indians in the American Southwest, camel-riding Ethiopians, Mongol tribesmen, warring Irish clans, Maori chieftains and more. Although the artwork is in black and white, it’s most highly folkloric and historically colorful. The separate wide-ranging episodes and characters are knitted back together into a satisfying finale.

Each page is laid out in dramatic fashion with bold layouts. Some pages have conventional multiple comic panels, while others feature free-wheeling compositions, along with other full-page designs, more fine line illustration than comic book. Read the rest

Mean Girls Club – satirical social commentary or just flat out bonkers?

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Mean Girls Club by Ryan Heshka Nobrow Press 2016, 24 pages, 6.8 x 9.1 x 0.1 inches $6 Buy a copy on Amazon

If your understanding of what a Mean Girls Club consists of is defined by the 2004 Lindsay Lohan film, then Ryan Heshka’s new release from Nobrow Press (as part of their wonderful 17 x 23 series) is going to blow your mind. In Mean Girls Club, Pinky, Sweets, Blackie, McQualude, Wendy, and Wanda aren’t the popular girls in an Illinois high school, rather they are a gang of sociopaths who revel in murder, mayhem, pill popping, and depraved dereliction. Heshka’s 1950s bombshells start their day with ceremonial insect venom transfusions, snake worship, a pill buffet, and a fish slap fight, then go on to wreck havoc in a hospital, movie theater, boutiques, and the streets, only to finish off by jacking a lingerie truck, kidnapping patients and nurses along the way.

In a nod to the pulps and pin-ups of the past and rendered in fluorescent pinks and inky blacks, Heskha upends the conventional idea of the B-movie Vixen by adding a layer of such over-the-top brutality and vehemence that it transcends the possible, bringing the trope into the post-ironic age where we have lost the ability to discern what we are meant to take seriously.

Is Mean Girls Club to be read as satirical social commentary? Is it just flat out bonkers? Or is it a combination of both? Read the rest

Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir by Stan Lee

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

It's only right that Stan Lee's memoirs arrive in comic book form. The 93-year-old ambassador/mascot of Marvel Comics has been in the funnybook business since 1939 - back when they still were called funnybooks. Back then, the medium was seen as silly at best, vile at worst. But today, comics, or graphic novels as some highfalutin folks call them, have attained a status of near respectability. People of all ages read and love them, and their characters generate billions of dollars via their appearances on TV and in films. Lee, along with other key figures, has been at the forefront of this evolution. And though he's interviewed almost daily, it's interesting to hear what he has to say about his career and all the changes he's seen.

Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir by Stan Lee, penned with the help of veteran comics writer Peter David and zippily illustrated by Colleen Doran, does a fine job of charting Lee's trajectory to the top of his field. We see how the stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle seized Lee's early imagination, making him want to become a writer. And we observe him in his early years at Atlas Comics, the company that became Marvel, and how he, in collaboration with artists such as Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, helped create the Marvel Universe.

Lee is often criticized for stealing the spotlight and not giving due credit to Kirby, who co-created the Fantastic Four, Avengers, X-Men, Thor, Captain America and many others, and Steve Ditko, who co-created Spider-Man, Doctor Strange and more. Read the rest

Weird Love – The warm blanket of history has swaddled these romance comics in ludicrousness

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

I’m willing to bet that your relationships with significant others aren’t as convoluted or mind-boggling as the ones you will find in Weird Love, a collection of love comics from decades past. I know that because I’m also willing to bet that you are more culturally evolved than your ancestral fictional characters that populated these four-color pages culled from the heyday of making women feel bad about pretty much everything. That’s what makes this collection so ridiculous. Weird Love gives us a glimpse into a time when the needle on the social gauge floated somewhere between “rampant sexism encouraged” and “casual sexism customary.”

While these stories probably weren’t intended to be comedic at the time, the warm blanket of history has swaddled them in ludicrousness. We have no analog for the petty, unflappable dickishness of the men, nor of the frank, almost callous lack of agency of the women depicted in the pages of Weird Love. Soap opera seems only a vague comparison, for soap opera tends to be at least a little self-aware. Nor can you compare it fairly to modern prose romance, for I would have to assume that modern romance writers likely enjoy what they do. The most important thing to remember about Weird Love is that literally all of these comics were written and drawn by middle-aged white men. They were either guys who typically wrote western, crime, horror, sci-fi, and superhero comics and liked doing those, or guys for whom creating comics was just kind of a job. Read the rest

Watch: Daniel Clowes Complete Eightball release party at Meltdown Comics

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I had a great time interviewing cartoonist Daniel Clowes at Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles about his Complete Eightball anthology. This video was shot in glorious VHS by filmmaker Rocio Mesa and was produced by Gaston Dominguez-Letelier.

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Psychedelic art inspired by 1960s Jack Kirby

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Featuring hallucinatory, psychedelic art inspired by the classic 1960s comic art of Jack Kirby, Space Riders is boldly drawn and beautifully inked in vibrant ultramarine, fuchsia, chartreuse, and the inky blackness of space. Every panel leaps from the page in a dynamic shock of color. Referencing psychedelic rock posters, motorcycle culture, Dia De Los Muertos, and hindu iconography, and presented within the framework of an outer space road odyssey, Space Riders is a pulpy, gritty adventure in intergalactic chaos.

The first four issues of the rare, sold-out, and pricey Space Riders from Black Mask Studios are combined in this hardcover anthology for Local Comic Book Shop Day. Capitan Peligro, pilot of the skull-shaped spacecraft Santa Muerte, has been recently relieved of his duty with the E.I.S.F. and must complete three missions before being reinstated. He's accompanied by Mono, his monk-like baboon first mate, and Yara, a female robotic warrior. They're being pursued by the Vikers, armored viking space bikers, when the crew is inexorably dragged toward a haunted planetoid, ruled by the sultry wizard Dona Barbara. Afterward, they encounter the galactic behemoth An-Anu Gigantus, the Space Whale.

Recalling a more naive time in the Silver Age of comic books, long before the current state of multi-title event crossovers in graphic novels, Space Riders is an archetypical story told and presented simply, wherein lies its appeal. Adventurers travel through space, fight villains, and save the day. Biff, bang, pow! – S. Deathrage

Space Riders Volume 1: Vengeful Universe by Fabian Rangel (author) and Alexis Ziritt (illustrator) Black Mask Studios 2015, 96 pages, 6.4 x 10.1 x 0.4 inches (softcover) $12 Buy a copy on Amazon Read the rest

Josie and the Pussycats meet Satan in 1973

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Issue #72 of Josie and the Pussycats, published in October of 1973 ran a story in which bikini-wearing Josie becomes possessed by Satan, and has to be exorcised by her bikini-wearing bandmates.

Dangerous Minds has the complete story on its site, along with a synopsis:

In the weirdness that is issue #72, The Pussycats (along with mean-o-nasty non-Pussycat member, Alexandra) ditch their guitars and amps, and head off to pay their respects to Alexandra’s recently departed grandfather at the local mausoleum. For some reason Josie wanders off to some bizarre lower chamber of the mausoleum and is enveloped by an “invisible malignant presence.” After that, Josie goes on a punk-rock style rampage smashing stuff up. When Josie has a psychotic reaction after coming in contact with a copy of the Bible that the clean-cut gang just happened to have lying around, things get really fucking weird (if they weren’t weird enough already).

The art is by Stan Goldberg, one of the better Dan DeCarlo imitators.

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Sub-Mariner beats up a bunch of tiny, pink-helmeted Nazi soldiers

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There's nothing like an Alex Schomburg Golden Age comic book cover. Feast your eyes on Sub-Mariner #12, Winter 1943. I'm not a WWII historian, but I don't recall the Germans having pink helmets, pink rifles, or pink and green swastika flags.

Stan Lee on Schomburg: "Alex Schomburg was to comic books what Norman Rockwell was to The Saturday Evening Post...When it came to illustrating covers, there simply was no one else in Alex's league." [via] Read the rest

X-Men line-up decade-by-decade

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Ed Piskor drew this cool pin-up of an X-Men family tree (abridged). Each row represents a decade of the X-Men from 1963-1992. [Download] Read the rest

40 Days in the Desert - timeless, eternal mythical tale by Moebius

When you are trying to imagine the details of an alternative world, try Moebius. Moebius (one of the pseudonyms for the French artist Jean Giraud) practically invented the now-common idea of a well worn future – that place far ahead that is gritty, patched up, organic, and old and new at the same time. Think Star Wars, cyberpunk, Blade Runner. Moebius is a fabulist. His strange drawings, designs and comics have shaped movies such as The Fifth Element and Alien, and influenced directors such as Fellini and Miyazaki. Moebius was a prolific artist, starring in his own series Heavy Metal, and appeared in many other publications, yet little of his work remains in print in English. Out of all Moebius’ (Giraud’s) work, I suggest this book, 40 Days in the Desert. Long out of print, and rare even when first published, this is an extended visual poem. The version of the book that I have is Japanese, but that is okay because there are no words in this story. It is timeless and eternal and other-worldly. With thin sure lines, this wordless sequence tells a mythical story in some alien place. There are about 100 drawings depicting surreal worlds with an ominous tension. Something is about to happen, or just happened, but you are not sure what. All you know is that you have never seen anything like this, and that maybe it is true. It makes me want to unleash my imagination.

40 Days in the Desert by Moebius Asukashin-Sha 2009, 152 pages, 6.5 x 10.5 x 0.8 inches $49 Buy one on Amazon Read the rest

Interview with 10-year-old cartoonist Sasha Matthews, author of "Sitting Bull" and "Pompeii"

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I loved this interview with 6th-grader cartoonist Sasha Matthews, creator of two historical comic books: Sitting Bull (which we ran on Boing Boing) and Pompeii: Lost and Found. You can buy copies of her comics here.

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The Garden of Eden reimagined by artists Charles Burns and Killoffer

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My friend Alvin Buenaventura is the proprietor of Pigeon Press, which publishes excellent comic books and books. He has just released In the Garden of Evil, a book that combines the talents of Charles Burns, Killoffer, and Will Oldham (Bonnie 'Prince' Billie). He gave me a copy and it is a gorgeous artifact. Check out the sample pages below.

This limited-edition artist book features a series of drawings inspired by the classic biblical story The Garden of Eden as well a song written in response to the images. All of the of the artwork for this book was created in collaboration by artists Charles Burns and Killoffer. Every book is hand-bound, individually numbered, and signed by both artists. Musician Will Oldham (aka Bonnie 'Prince' Billy") wrote an exclusive song for this project inspired by the series of drawings. The song is included on a 7” vinyl flexi-disc, as well an MP3 which you can download from the code provided with each book.

Specs:

In the Garden of Evil by Charles Burns & Killoffer ($50) Song by Will Oldham Dimensions: 7.25" x 7.25" Pages: 28 Cover: Self-cover with french flaps (each embossed, one of which is a custom insignia designed by Charles Burns) offset printed on premium heavyweight art paper Interior: Offset printed on premuim heavyweight art paper Binding: Each copy hand-sewn with black 100% linen 50grm binding thread Production date: July 2015 Publisher: Pigeon Press Limited edition of 1000 copies available for direct retail sale from the publisher, each signed & numbered by both cartoonists, includes black flexi-disc. Read the rest

This poster for the Cincy Comicon pays homage to old comic book ads

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Cartoonist Tony Moore (co-creator of The Walking Dead comic book series) designed this very fun poster for the Cincy Comicon (September 12-13), which pays homages to the old comic book ads for novelties and practical jokes. He did such a good job that I asked him to write a bit about it. Read the rest

Alien creature hunt (1963)

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House of Mystery (No.130, Jan 1963)

Cover art by George Roussos

[via] [via] Read the rest

Ant-Man, the Physics of Shrinking, and the Higgs Boson

It's simply a cross-interaction between the Higgs field and the Pym field!

10 Comic-Con announcements that are actually about comics

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The sun has set on San Diego, and we've put together the most interesting news that fans of comics -- you know, the books -- shouldn't miss.

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