Furry Freak Brothers coming this fall, voiced by Woody Harrelson, John Goodman, Pete Davidson, and Tiffany Haddish

Yesterday saw the online premier of a mini-episode of a new animated comic series based on the classic Gilbert Shelton underground comic, the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. As a hippie wannabe teen in the 70s, this (and Zap! Comics) was everything to me.

In 1969, life in San Francisco consists of free love, communal living, and political protest. Freewheelin’ Franklin Freek (Harrelson), Fat Freddy Freekowtski (Goodman), Phineas T. Phreakers (Davidson) and their mischievous, foul-mouthed cat, Kitty (Haddish) spend their days dodging many things —- the draft, the narcs, and steady employment -– all while searching for an altered state of bliss.

But after partaking of a genetically-mutated strain of marijuana, the Freaks wake up 50 years later to discover a much different society. Quickly feeling like fish out of water in a high-tech world of fourth-wave feminism, extreme gentrification and intense political correctness, the Freaks learn how to navigate life in 2020 -— where, surprisingly, their precious cannabis is now legal.

OK, sounds good. But is it? If the reaction to the first mini-episode is any indication, maybe the Freaks should have remained in their drug-induced coma. As one Facbooker commented: "Get yourself a collected set of the original comic and skip this drivel!" Read the rest

This "video conference call bingo" is spot on

Visit The Nib to read Gemma Correll's timely and accurate video conference call bingo comic. Read the rest

Edward Gorey's new book reviewed by Mark Dery

"The Angel, The Automobilist, and Eighteen Others" is a new collection of early drawings by eccentric illustrator and storyteller Edward Gorey (1925-2000). Over at The Comics Journal, Mark Dery, author of the Gorey biography Born to Be Posthumous, reviews the slim new volume while considering where Gorey's odd oeuvre sits (or doesn't) in the comic book tradition. Dery writes:

[Gorey's] library, at the time of his death, included anthologies of Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, Gary Larson’s Far Side, the droll caricatures of Ronald Searle, European comics like Astérix and Tintin (Hergé’s ligne claire aesthetic surely chimed, in Gorey’s mind, with the crisp line of his own hand-drawn “engravings”), 12 volumes of Hyperion’s Library of Classic American Comic Strips, Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo, and Wilhelm Busch’s classic Max and Moritz (1865), a black-comedy parody of moralizing children’s literature like Heinrich Hoffmann’s macabre Struwwelpeter (1845). Predictably, his small but carefully curated (as we’re taught to say) collection of original art included cartoons by Glen Baxter and the loopy New Yorker stalwart George Booth. Less predictably, his bookshelves were stuffed, too, with collections of superhero comics, especially Marvel titles: Batman from the 30s to the 70s, Superman Battles the Mightiest Men in the Universe, Bring on the Bad Guys: Origins of Marvel Villains, Marvel’s Greatest Superhero Battles, The Silver Surfer, The Incredible Hulk, and on and on.

Gorey’s fondness for comics and cartoons isn’t proof positive they influenced his work, but Steven Heller, a historian of design and illustration, has no doubt he has a foot in the comic-art tradition.

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Friday: the new digital-first, pay-what-you-want Lovecraftian YA detective comic from Ed Brubaker, Marcos Martin, and Muntsa Vicente

Award-winning comic creators Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin launched Panel Syndicate in 2013 as a digital-only, name-your-price publishing outlet for their near-future Internet noir The Private Eye. They've released several comics through this imprint since then — from themselves, and from other creators — that all fit under the same DRM-free, pay-what-you-want f0rmat, with horizontally-oriented pages specifically designed to be read on a computer screen or tablet.

The Panel Syndicate format was always intended to upend comic publishing, in a way. So it wasn't that surprising when they announced a new book in the wake of the temporary coronavirus pause of the entire comic book industry. 

The new book, Friday, features art by Panel Syndicate founders Martin Martin and Muntsa Vicente, with a story by acclaimed comic crime writer Ed Brubaker, creator of Criminal, The Fade Out, and the Winter Soldier from Marvel Comics. Here's a brief synopsis:

Friday Fitzhugh spent her childhood solving crimes and digging up occult secrets with her best friend Lancelot Jones, the smartest boy in the world. But that was the past, now she's in college, starting a new life on her own. Except when Friday comes home for the holidays, she's immediately pulled back into Lance's orbit and finds that something very strange and dangerous is happening in their little New England town...

This is literally the Christmas vacation from Hell and neither of them may survive to see the New Year.

In interviews and his newsletter, Brubaker has described the story as "post-YA," which isn't really a genre, but makes sense — it's about that first winter home after the first semester of college, except in this case it's riffing on the child detective archetypes of Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown, and the Hardy Boys.  Read the rest

The Mountain Goats have a new song about Marvel Comics with possibly the longest title ever

I've been writing overly-melodramatic rock n' roll bangers about comic books with long-ass titles for at least 15 years now. I had thought that I had achieved the pinnacle of this with my band's upcoming record. Tentatively titled, "A Collection of Songs About Comics Books and Mid-30s Malaise," it will include a dark synth-pop tune about Cyclops called "Every Girl Is An Apple," as well as a Cars-esque jam about Hawkeye called "My Life as a Weapon." This all of course follows up on our first not-so-big hit, "Face It, Tiger (You Just Hit The Jackpot)."

Unfortunately, my friend John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats may have beat me to the punch with (deep breath) "The Proliferation of Marvel Universe Timelines Has Made It Impossible For Me to Use Search Engines to Determine Which Issue From the 70s Had Loki Predicting the Immanence of Ragnarok In Its Final Panel But It Certainly Wasn’t #272, or, New Mountain Goats Tape Song."

That's it. That's the song title. It almost takes as long to say as the song itself takes to play.

I'm not sure which shames me more: that John has defeated me on long titles and obscurity, or that I actually don't know which Thor comic he's referencing here.

Either way, the song is a delight, and the Mountain Goats will be releasing a new lo-fi cassette tape from quarantine this Friday, the kind of hissy 4-track recordings upon which the band built its cult following in the 90s and early 00s before expanding their lineup and recording quality. Read the rest

"The Black Ghost" is a fun Latina twist on urban noir superheroes

Marvel found a lot of success with their street-level Netflix series, focusing on those less-super superheroes like Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Across town, Batman has always been one of the most beloved DC heroes, more because of his lack of powers than despite them.

Now, Comixology's original digital-only publishing line is offering their own twist on the gritty powerless superhero genre with The Black Ghost. Written by comics and crime writer (and Archie Comics co-president) Alex Segura and comic writer/artist Monica Gallagher with art by Marco Finnegan and George Kambadais, the comic follows a bitter alcoholic beat reporter named Lara Dominguez, whose obsession with a local vigilante called the Black Ghost gets her wrapped up in multilevel crime syndicate that has its eyes as much on real estate and media as it does in petty crimes. It feels like both an origin story, and a chapter in a larger story that's been going on for years — just like a good superhero comic should.

The story takes place in a city called Creighton. And while we don't know where exactly that is (the protagonist's former life in Miami has followed her to this new dying city), the grey skies and crumbling buildings could be almost any fading former factory hub along the East Coast. As I read, I kept thinking of it as the Bridgeport version of Gotham City or Metropolis — generic, but accessible, and fleshed out just enough to make it feel lived-in and real.

From the first issue, it's clear that The Black Ghost is going to shamelessly lean into the tropes of the genre — but with just enough inversions of expectations. Read the rest

Check out these new Quarantine Comix from the creator of "Ice Cream Man"

Ice Cream Man is one of the comic books I most look forward to every month. Written by W. Maxwell Prince with art by Martín Morazzo and Chris O'Halloran, it's basically a horror anthology that mines the existential depths of suburban ennui. And all of it, or some of it, may tie back to the Ice Cream Man, who might be a demon, or a God, or maybe it's all in your head. Each issue is a done-in-one, focusing on a new and different character (although there are some subtle connections between them), and many of them take hyper-stylized approaches to graphic storytelling — an entire issue written and drawn as a palindrome, for example; and another one where an incident with Neapolitan ice cream bar creates 3 splintering timelines, shaded in chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry (A Vulture review compared this issue to "Sliding Doors, but terrifying," which is accurate).

Unfortunately, the comic book industry is now indefinitely on hold thanks to the coronavirus pandemic (an invisible existential horror which would actually be right home in an issue of Ice Cream Man).

But now the creators of Ice Cream Man have launched Quarantine Comix, a digital-only collection of short comics in Ice Cream Man continuity that they'll release online once or twice a week. There's more:

Half of profits go to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (BINC), which supports struggling booksellers. This includes local Comic Book Shops, who are facing unprecedented financial hardship after the closure of many of their stores, the temporary shuttering of their distribution system, and the non-operation of pretty much every paper printer in the country.

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Read the first 10 chapters of my serialized Comic-con satire novel

In the early 2010s, I wrote a play called True Believers that was kind of a send-up and a love letter to comic-con culture. The play had a full production in Boston in 2012 (closing on the weekend of San Diego Comic-Con, when they first announced the Guardians of the Galaxy, which totally ruined the meta-level "I Am Groot" gag in the script), as well as staged readings at fringe festivals across the country, from New York to Chicago to Valdez, Alaska.

I later tried to turn that script into a novel. It was an interesting writing experience — trying to adapt your own work across mediums, from one that's explicitly external to one that's largely internal is a weird challenge, to say the least — and ultimately, nothing really came of the manuscript.

But now that we're all quarantine, and now that comic books themselves have also been quarantined for the foreseeable future, I've decided to serialize it on Medium, broken down into digestible chunks. The first 10 chapters are out now, and they each take (by Medium's calculations) about 4-9 minutes to read. I'll be adding new chapters every day through the end of the month. If you're looking for some nerdy laughs and nostalgia, it could be a delightful way to pass the time right now.

Here's a fuller synopsis of the story, in case you're not convinced:

It's the weekend of the big annual comic book convention, and Chad Mailer is a young professional comic book writer who hit his career peak five years ago with a series that he never actually finished, and he now wishes to re-ignite his career.

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xkcd's funny comic told from a coronavirus's point of view

This time, the viruses thought they'd come up with the perfect way to spread, but humans are outwitting them again. Read the rest

400 pages of Judge Dredd available for free

Rebellion has released the critically- and fan-acclaimed Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol.5 free to download and view on the 2000 AD app.

This 400-page collection includes classic Judge Dredd stories such as The Mega-Rackets, Judge Death Lives!, Diary of a Mad Citizen, The Hotdog Run, and the all-time great mega-epic Block Mania and The Apocalypse War!

Written by John Wagner (A History of Violence) and Alan Grant (Batman), it features artwork by some of the titans of comics, including Brian Bolland (Batman: The Killing Joke), Carlos Ezquerra (Preacher), Colin Wilson (Blueberry), Ian Gibson (Halo Jones), Mick McMahon (The Last American), Ron Smith (Transformers), and Steve Dillon (Preacher)!

[H/t Rodney Orpheus] Read the rest

Meet these incredible collectors of the gags and novelties sold in old comics

Stan and Mardi Timm are serious collectors of Whoopee Cushions, Joy Buzzers, X-Ray Spex, Doggie Doodit, The Ventrilo, stink bombs, squirting flowers, and the other delightful gags and novelties that you might have seen in the back pages of comic books. The Timms are true scholars of these pop culture icons and the companies that manufactured the 1,800 items in their collection that the elderly men are now trying to sell as they downsize their lives. From Lisa Hix's profile in Collectors Weekly:

“Novelties are so much more than goofy, silly things,” Mardi says. “Everything that comes on to the marketplace starts out as a novelty. They’re things that are not common, things that make you say, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen one of those before!’ or ‘What is that thing?'”

The collection documents U.S. popular culture from the mid-1910s through today, Mardi explains. Exploring the Timms’ catalog, you can identify the problems that plagued Americans over the decades—particularly in the early 20th century, when most Americans lived in more isolated rural communities—and sometimes unintentionally hilarious ways they tried to solve those problems. (Is your bath cold? How about you plug an electric heating device into the wall and then put it in your water?)

“We have the Tark Electric Razor, which is a scary thing for me,” Mardi says. “You put razor blades in it, you plug it in, and the thing vibrates. Now, would you want to put that on your face if you were a man? I don’t think so.

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The new Batmobile looks like a vintage muscle car

Matt Reeves, director of The Batman, just tweeted images of the new Batmobile and it looks like a souped-up 1970s muscle car. Less military, more Mopar. Nice ride, Bruce.

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Hellboy creator Mike Mignola talks about returning to drawing comics and more

Hellboy creator Mike Mignola talks about his 35-year career, his concept design work on Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire, and winning an Eisner Award in this interview on Inverse.

Image: Hellboy cover inset Read the rest

Year of the Rabbit: a graphic novel memoir of one family's life under the Khmer Rouge

In 1975, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge seized power in Cambodia after expelling a US puppet regime, surviving a brutal US bombing campaign despite the massive asymmetry between the Cambodian forces and the US military. Tian Veasna was born three days after the Khmer Rouge took power, and spent his formative years in forced labor camps as his family were beaten, starved, tortured and murdered. Today, Veasna is a comics creator living in France, and in Year of the Rabbit, Veasna creates a coherent story out of his family's narratives, giving us a ground-level view of the horrors of the Pol Pot regime, whose campaign of genocide led to the deaths of more than a million people.

Heartwarming comic about breast-reduction surgery

Today on Oh Joy Sex Toy (previously) guest-artist Alex P Perkins offers us a graphic memoir of her breast reduction surgery in 10th grade, and the way it put her on a journey toward "loving my body for what it is: mine." Read the rest

Enjoy "iCthulhu," a free Lovecraftian cyberpunk webcomic

My buddy Dave Ganjamie and I have been collaborating on comics for a few years now. Not all of our brainstorm-and-sketch sessions end somewhere exciting, but we did have one fun idea that came to fruition. It was the fall of 2013, and Dave half-jokingly challenged me to write him a — his words, and I quote directly from our GChat — "cyber-craftian Eldritch-punk time travel" story.

I assumed this was meant to be deliberately absurd. But I'm never one to back down from a challenge. So we pitched the idea to Grayhaven Comics for one of their sci-fi anthology collections — and much to our surprise, they gave us the greenlight. With only 3 pages to work with, we were fairly strapped with space to express our ridiculous concept. But we did the best we could, and ultimately came up with something pretty cool.

Some day we'll get around to finishing our Evil Academy concept, or dramatize that time at New York Comic-Con when we found ourselves in an Abbot-&-Costello, Who's-On-First routine at a party with Kieron Gillen and Karen Gillan. In the meantime, Dave is probably still pissed that I made him draw all those suckers on the bottom of the tentacles (even though it was technically his idea in the first place). So enjoy the fruits of our labor: "iCthulhu!"

"iCthulhu" — art by Dave Ganjamie, words by Thom Dunn. Originally published by Grayhaven Comics. Read the rest

Rare new video interview with R. Crumb

Legendary underground cartoonist R. Crumb in a rare video interview recorded a few months back during the Louisiana Literature festival at Humlebæk, Denmark's Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. From a summary of Crumb's comments:

“I was so alienated when I was young, that drawing was like my only connection to society. That was the only thing that I could see was going to save me from a really dismal fate of God knows what.” Crumb describes his social skills as a young man as being “completely nil.” At the same time, he was driven by his “fucked-up ego,” and he had to balance those two sides. Drawing became a way for him to deal with reality, and in the 1950s, where “being a comic-book artist was the lowest level of commercial art,” he pushed toward a more personal use of the medium: “At a certain point I decided I don’t want to be America’s best-loved hippie cartoonist. I don’t want that role. So I’ll just be honest about who I am, and the weirdness, and take my chances.” Consequently, Crumb alienated a lot of people with his often provocative content: “It was just too disturbing for most people, too weird.”

Crumb has an urge to question things and is acutely aware that he’s going to get hell for what he’s doing – even lose friends – but he is willing to take the heat for it. He feels that he plays with images, emphasixing the word “play.” Nowadays, he argues, there’s a tendency to take everything at face value – including his artwork: “The artwork I did that used those images and expressed those kinds of feelings, I stand by it… I still think that that’s something that needed to be said and needed to be done… It probably hurts some people’s feelings to see those images, but still, I had to put it out there.”

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