British comics creator Isabel Greenberg's Encyclopedia of Early Earth is a deceptively simple, lyrically told set of interlocking stories of creation, hubris, magic and destiny. It's pieced together from bits of the Old Testament, a little Greek mythology, and some of this and that, told as a series of stories that nest and dovetail with one another in a way that is at once unpretentious and straightforward, but also complex, meaty, and ultimately very satisfying.
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The rise of
Marvel's Comixology has meant that DRM -- Digital Rights Management -- has become the norm for comics, meaning that your collection is forever locked to Comixology's platform, and it is illegal for anyone except Comixology (and not the artists and writers who created the comics!) to unlock them so that they can be viewed on non-Comixology players.
It's as though Comixology had come up with a scheme to get us to buy our comics in a form that could only be put into special longboxes that they alone can sell -- longboxes that can only be stacked on the shelves they choose, and comics that can only be read under the lightbulbs they authorize, in the chair they approve. Every penny you spend on Comixology increases the cost of your switching away from it -- and increases the extent to which a single company
(now owned by Disney) controls and sets the rules for making, publishing, retailing and reading comics.
Some comics creators are pushing back. Image Comics, publishers of The Walking Dead, announced its DRM-free comics store in July (Image is also noteworthy for its creator-friendly contracts, which are among the best in the industry). Last week, Image put on a one-day comics expo in San Francisco where it featured the new DRM-free titles coming to its store, and Wired rounded up seven amazing-looking stories that you'll be able to buy without selling your soul.
Image's creator-friendly policies have attracted some pretty amazing talent, like Grant Morrison, Jamie McKelvie, Michael Chabon, and many others. But the one I'm most intrigued by is Bitch Planet, from Kelly Sue Deconnick:
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When Brian Wood's brilliant America-at-war comic DMZ completed its six-year run in 2012, I wished for Vertigo to bring out a single edition collecting the whole series. They haven't quite gotten there, but with tomorrow's release of DMZ: The Deluxe Edition Book One, they're getting close. The large, beautifully produced, gorgeous hardcover collects the first 12 issues of the comic -- the equivalent of the first two trade paperback collections. A followup collection, due in June, picks up issues 13-28. At this rate, the whole thing will end up in four-to-six books, suitable to being drunk down in one long, engrossing, chilling, thrilling draft.
Here's my synopsis of the setup from my review of the final volume (which was nothing less than brilliant -- Wood really nailed the ending):
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. From those beginnings, the story unrolls, as Roth discovers the truth of war, becomes the story he is reporting on, and finally falls too deep.
If you're looking for a perfect way to tune into one of the best comics of the 21st century, this volume is it.
DMZ: The Deluxe Edition Book One
In today's Diesel Sweeties strip, R. Stevens nails the social role of Google Glass in the 21st century.
Wearable computing is the new Bluetooth headset
We've had the first four volumes of Sardine in Space on our bookshelf since Poesy was born, five years ago, but we've only just started reading them at bed-time (it's great to have wonderful books on the shelves for the kid to pull down and discover on her own!) and the books have captivated both parents and daughter.
Sardine tells the story of a little witch girl (Sardine, who has a cat on her hat), her best friend (Little Louie), and her uncle, a gruff, bluff space pirate named Uncle Yellow. They are locked in eternal combat with Supermuscleman, egotistical chief executive dictator of the universe, and his sidekick, the sinister Doc Kroc -- a horrible toady with a fiendishly inventive mind.
The Sardine stories -- all seven volumes' worth! -- are short, silly comics in which improbable creatures, silly inventions, and comeuppances for hapless and bossy and cruel adults feature heavily. There's never any real danger, just purely anarchic mayhem and humor. We read two stories every night at bedtime (I do the voices), and it takes about 15 minutes. Just perfect. The stories are simple enough that Poesy -- who can sound out a few words but isn't a fluent reader yet -- can enjoy them on a purely visual level, but the dialog is snappy enough that it's even more fun when we read them together. There's no need to read them in any order, either -- you can dip in or out as you want.
Sardine in Outer Space
was created by Emmanuel Guibert and Joann Sfar, and published by FirstSecond books, who were kind enough to provide us with the complete "Sardine Under the Bed" story for this review, after the jump.
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Osvaldo Oyola: "Oglaf uses humor and fantasy to throw off the banality of typical sexual fantasy by taking it to its absurd ends. If there is one recurring theme it is how our desires, when allowed to become wishes in a world where wishes can be granted, lead to the most bizarre consequences. And while some of those consequences would be as undesirable as a horn growing out of the back of your head, the humor and openness of the series reminds the reader of the very queer possibilities of all sex.
" — Rob
It's been 14 years since MAD Magazine's Don Martin passed away, and if there's one way you can be sure he'd want to be remembered, it's with this alphabetical listing of all the weird noises that ever appeared in a Don Martin cartoon.
One of the best things about living in the 21st century is that you can own a giant, boxed, two-volume edition of the complete collection of Don Martin's work for MAD -- all 33 years' worth of it. It is my sure-fire cure for the blues.
Back in October, I predicted that I would love the long-awaited Hyperbole and a Half book, adapted from Allie Brosh's absolute treasure of a webcomic. One of the highlights of my winter holiday so far has been gobbling up this book as quick as I could cram it into my eyeballs, a task complicated by being frequently convulsed with laughter -- at least when my heart wasn't being torn out.
Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened
Legendary underground artist Paul Mavrides, part of the ZAP Comix axis, a collaborator with Gilbert Shelton on The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, and a founder of the Church of the SubGenius (praise Bob!), is holding his first gallery show in a decade. Mavrides' new painting exhibit, titled "Art Work Makes You Free," opens this Saturday (1/4) at San Francisco's Steven Wolf Fine Arts gallery. The new series features oil paintings scavenged from thrift stores and dumpsters that Mavrides has emblazoned with short, provocative, acerbic, cutting, biting, scathing, caustic, bitter, acrimonious, abrasive, harsh, terse, and critical phrases. Paul Mavrides: "Art Work Makes You Free"
It's a hefty $299, but it's moulded leather (rrrr), and it's the Batman backpack. A senior toy industry person said to me recently, "Do you know why Batman is such a killer toy, an evergreen seller, and yet Superman is not? No? Externalities. Batman is you - with externalities, like the car, the belt, the cape. (The backpack). Superman's power comes from within, you can never replicate it, but Batman's is all without. You can't be Superman, but you can be the Batman."
Go be the Batman.
Fashion Beast was a ten-issue comic created by Alan Moore and Malcolm McLaren -- the impresario behind the Sex Pistols, who "invented Punk as a Situationist prank." The project began as a screenplay written at the time that Moore was writing Watchmen, and was never produced. Thirty years later,
Moore Antony Johnston re-adapted the work for comics, and last September all ten issues were collected in an amazing graphic novel, which I have just inhaled.
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Recommended if You Like is Boing Boing's weekly podcast of Brian Heater's cafe conversations with musicians, cartoonists, writers, and other creative types. - Mark
Marie Javins is known for hating houseguests. She's also known for writing, editing, and coloring comic books. She started as a (paid!) intern at Marvel comics in the late 1980s and has gone on to color over 2,000 pages. In this interview, she discusses living in Australia, Barcelona, Uganda, Namibia, New Jersey, Kuwait, and Cairo, and how the comics business has changed over the years.
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I read Alison Bechdel's Dykes to Watch Out For in various alternative weeklies and online for about 15 years. I always found it enjoyable, sometimes very funny, sometimes a bit raunchy, always very political. Really my kind of thing. But I've just read The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For, a massive, nearly-400-page tome collecting nearly (see below) every single DTWOF strip from its 20+ year run that wound up in 2008, and I've come to realize just how flat-out brilliant the strip was, ranking with Bloom County and Doonesbury in blending incisive editorial with charm and humor.
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Joseph Gordon-Levitt announced via Twitter that he will adapt Neil Gaiman's Sandman graphic novel (recently reprinted in a leatherbound, two-volume omnibus edition) for feature film. Tor.com reports that he will also star in the film. This is very promising news indeed!
Joseph Gordon-Levitt to Direct and Star in Sandman Movie
Comics creator Paul Dini did a guest appearance on Kevin Smith's podcast "Fatman on Batman" podcast, and talked, in part, about the gender considerations of execs in new animation/superhero kids' show design, Vi transcribed the relevant piece, in which Dini recounts conversations he's had with execs who insist that they don't want any girl fans of their shows, because girls don't buy toys. And to keep girls from watching the shows, they make sure that girls are always presented as sidekicks, "one step behind the boys." It's absolutely infuriating.
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