Paper Girls 4: duelling invisible megabots, time travel and the prime directive, now with more Hugo nominations!
In Paper Girls, the celebrated comics creator Brian K Vaughan (Saga, Y: The Last Man, etc) teams up with Cliff Chiang to tell a story that's like an all-girl Stranger Things, with time-travel. Read the rest
Tara Shultz, 20, of Yucaipa, CA along with her parents and friends are protesting the inclusion of four award-winning graphic novels that are taught in an English class at Crafton Hills College because they feel they are too violent and pornographic to be read by college students. On Thursday they assembled outside the campus administration building to express their outrage. The four graphic novels are Fun Home by Alison Bechdel; Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1 by Brian Vaughan; The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll’s House by Neil Gaiman; and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.
I expected Batman and Robin, not pornography,” Shultz told the Redland Daily Facts Newspaper. But Shultz was provided with complete information about which books would be covered in the class. Because Shultz did not pay attention to the syllabus, she and her parents and their friends now want to prohibit everyone from reading the books at the college.
From the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund:
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Shultz, who is working towards an Associate of Arts in English at the public community college, signed up for English 250: Fiction because it fulfills one part of her degree requirements. She was apparently aware that the specific focus of the class was graphic novels, but she told the newspaper that “I expected Batman and Robin, not pornography.” Shultz says that Associate Professor Ryan Bartlett, who has taught the course for three terms without any other complaints, failed to adequately warn students about the books’ content. Her father Greg Shultz said that “if they (had) put a disclaimer on this, we wouldn’t have taken the course.”
The latest Humble Bundle teams up with DRM-free indie comics leader Image Comics, offering nine digital titles from Image on a name-your-price basis. You can also divert some or all of your payment to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a vital free speech organization that helps comics publishers, creators and sellers who face censorship and even jail for daring to create cutting-edge media.
The bundle includes some of my favorite comics, including the comics version of The Walking Dead (even better than the TV show); the spectacular Saga (a delightfully unhinged effort from Brian Vaughan, who also created Y: The Last Man); and the genuinely demented Chew.
As with all the Humble Bundles, the Image Bundle is an object lesson in the trustworthiness of audiences, and the value of giving people what they want at an unarguably fair price (since you get to name your own) with a creator-friendly deal that lets readers and creators connect more directly than ever before in publishing history. I just bought in!
One year ago today
Sink that looks like a gap-toothed jaw: the mustardy tiles, and the ornate, gilt-framed mirror.
Five years ago today
Buy a full-size T. Rex replica: $100,000 gets you a STAN museum-grade T-Rex replica, a whopping 40' long and 12' high.
Ten years ago today
Brian K Vaughan is best known for creating the wonderful apocalyptic adventure-comic Y: The Last Man. His new project, Saga, is a significant departure from Y in setting and tone, but it is every bit as great -- and a little bit better, if you ask me.
The setup is that two posthuman species -- a moon-dwelling tribe of horned magic-users and a planet-based race of high-tech winged people -- are locked in an endless war that spills out across the galaxy, embroiling all the races of all the planets in a series of vicious, permanent proxy-wars. In the midst of this, Marko and Alana, soldiers from opposite sides of the war, fall in love, desert and have a baby, and kick off a sprawling space-opera as they flee from their respective armies and the bounty hunters they hire.
Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples let their imaginations run wild with this story, giving us a galaxy populated by creature-shop aliens that are somewhere between Duchamp and Disney, a Mos Eisley Cantina times a million. Vaughan weaves a splendid romantic adventure around this, with sweet Nick-and-Nora dialog that never feels forced. But the story transcends mere pace-pounding, and manages moments of sweetness, sorrow, and sentiment that will have you daubing your eyes between laughing and gasping over audacious battles. It's like The Incal, but with a more straightforward (and more self-disciplined) storyline, and it's a reminder that as a visual medium, science fiction has tricks that are just stupendous. Read the rest
Jeff Lemire's Sweet Tooth Vol. 1: Out of the Woods is a great post-apocalyptic graphic novel in the tradition of The Walking Dead and Y: The Last Man, featuring likable innocents walking a blasted, ruined America, helped and hindered by good people gone bad, and bad people gone worse.
In Sweet Tooth, we meet Gus, a 9-year-old boy living in a shack in the woods with his dying, deeply (and crazily) religious father. Gus isn't like other boys: he lives in the woods and has never seen a living soul apart from his father (and his mother, who died when he was an infant).
Oh, and Gus has antlers.
Some sort of plague has destroyed the world; a plague that made some children born part animal, a plague that is killing Gus's father. All Gus's father wants from his boy is for him to stay hidden once he is alone, to stay in the woods and avoid the fires of hell that burn outside their woods. But when his father finally dies, Gus is hunted by evil men from beyond, and then rescued by a strange, dour fellow who promises to take him to The Reservation, where other children like Gus are kept.
So begins the road trip, spattered with violence and slow revelations about the hell that has been visited on the earth. This first volume only gets the story started, gets us to a place of extreme and intense suspense, and then cuts off. If you can't wait to find out what happened next, you can try your local comic-shop for the singles that follow, but I'm going to wait for next December, and volume 2 of the bound graphic novels. Read the rest
It's a measure of how far behind I am in my reading that I've only just gotten to read the final volume of Brian K Vaughan and Pia Guerra's graphic novel "Y: The Last Man," which I've been following for years now, eagerly awaiting the resolution of the series' many storylines and subplots (for those of you who have the good fortune to be discovering this for the first time -- here's the first issue -- I'll sum up quickly: a mysterious event simultaneously kills every man on earth except for Yorick Brown, a down-on-his-luck escape artist whose fiancee, Beth, is on the other side of the world in Australia; he spends the next five years touring the planet's many brave and terrible places looking for her, while he is pursued by geopolitical powers of varying types and character).
Endings are hard. Vaughan and Guerra nailed it.
After six years of following this story, there were times when I despaired for it. The world of Y was so broken, the storylines so convoluted, and some of the hints at resolution were so off-kilter (particularly the last volume, which hinted at a quasi-mystical direction that really left me cold) that I seriously doubted that the creators would be able to end it all in a way that made it all come together with dignity, credibility and real love for the principle characters.
This last volume, called "Whys and Wherefores," does it all. It opens with a rocketing storyline that tears towards a massive and gripping climax, and then moves into a denouement that is one of the best I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Read the rest
I've just finished DMZ: Friendly Fire, the fourth collection for Brian Wood's incredible, next-gen war comic that is busily redefining the genre as something more relevant and important than it ever was before. In the DMZ storyline, America is plunged into civil war, a war between the redneck Free States movement and the authoritarian, Iraq-shocked US military. The two armies meet in New York, turning Manhattan into a giant, rent-asunder demilitarized zone, where only one reporter, the unlikely young Matty Roth, tells the real story of what goes on in the latest, endless war.
The DMZ stories manage to combine the tough, thrilling character of golden age war comics with sharp and complex analysis of the big questions underpinning the modern age of politicized, commercialized warfare.
In Friendly Fire, Matty is charged with covering the military tribunal for the squad who conducted the Day 204 Massacre in which nearly 200 peaceful protesters were gunned down by a hair-trigger force who thought they saw a gun (or did see a gun, or planted a gun). Wood's tight, super-focused storytelling never tells us what exactly happened on Day 204, and manages to make heroes out of the worst villains and villains out of the biggest heroes.
See also: DMZ: graphic novel, a worthy successor to Transmetropolitan DMZ Public Works: New collection of moving, thrilling graphic novel Cory and DMZ's Brian Wood interviewed on iFanBoy DMZ comic t-shirt Read the rest
Once in a long while, a new comic book series comes along that just kicks the hell out of you, melding words and pictures in a way that is impossible in any other medium, telling a story that you can't put down, one that changes the way you see the world.
I've just finished the first two collections from Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli's DMZ, and its really, really goddamned great.
DMZ is set in a near-future America torn apart by a new civil war. The "Free State" army is a band of redneck insurgents, sick of an America in decline, who've brought Iraq-style asymmetric warfare to the streets of America. Starting in small towns and sweeping across the country, they are fought to a standstill in Manhattan, the DMZ, where they face off against the US military.
Matty Roth is a kid journalist in Manhattan, the sole survivor of an abortive attempt to drop a Geraldo-like journalist into the DMZ to get the "real story" for Liberty, a politicized TV network with the ethics of Rupert Murdoch's FOX. Matty is the intern, but he's got the gear, and the guts, and he sets about telling the stories of a Manhattan under siege, where all the rich people have gotten out, leaving the poor behind for target practice by both armies.
DMZ has the guts and verve of Transmetropolitan, and a similar structure, too -- episodic slice-of-life views into a city in glorious, self-devouring ruin, shot through with an overarching plot about the fight of average people and brave journalists to expose official corruption. Read the rest
Mike has created a treatment for a video-game adaptation of the kick-ass graphic novel Y: The Last Man. It's clear that somewhere in reading the series, a thunderclap sounded in Mike's head, and this whole game thing appeared as if in a vision. It's got the vibe of a bolt out of the blue.
GAMEPLAY: As much as YTLM is a story about Yorrick's struggle to survive, get to the bottom of the plague mystery and re-unite with his girlfriend, he is always surrounded by others vital to his quest, most importantly Agent 355, Ampersand and Dr. Mann. This lends itself beautifully to squad-based gameplay with the user able to control in realtime which character they control (more on this in a minute). To do justice to both those times when the story develops more deliberately as well as those when split-second action dominates, we see an Action/RTS hybrid.
The new collected volume of the Y: The Last Man graphic novel series is out and it has left me on exquisite tenterhooks. This is one of my favorite graphic novel serials, about the travails of the last man left on earth after a mysterious plague wipes out every male animal on the planet save for Yorick Brown (the slacker magician son of a minor politico) and his pet monkey, Ampersand.
As civilization rebuilds itself after the death of 48 percent of the world's population, it confronts the possibility that the last generation of humans is alive today. Some turn to acts of heroism, others to barbarism, and Yorick sees them all as he travels incognito with a secret agent who has been charged with getting him to a lab where the secret of his survival can be uncovered.
In the new edition, Kimono Dragons, Yorick and Ampersand end up in Tokyo, which is miraculously unscathed -- or at least, so it seems. As they explore further, it becomes apparent that the Yakuza has been taken over by ruthless Japanese subculture teenagers -- Harajuku Bridge meets the Sopranos -- and that the vice industry continues to thrive.
The storytelling in Y is perfect for a serial -- tight, intense, and riddled with cliff-hangers. This installment is no exception. I am dying to read the next one!