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This Week in Panels: Week 265

October 19th, 2014 Posted by | Tags: , ,

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TGIThWIP!

You’d think that with Comic Con behind us, things would be back to normal. Unfortunately, you’d be wrong. Gavok wanted to join us again this week, but his computer tried to launch a rebellion against mankind this week so he had to spend his free time trying to put a stop to that before it turned the world into a post apocalyptic wasteland.

You know, priorities and all.

Even with Gavok busy trying to save the world, I’m still joined by Gaijin Dan, Matlock, and AnarChris, so things are still a lot closer to normal all the same.

I think my own computer may be thinking of joining Gavok’s in rising up against me, so how about I get on to panels so I can take care of that before my own week is eaten up, too.

Avengers X-Men Axis 2 [Matlock]

Avengers & X-Men: AXIS #2

(Rick Remender and Adam Kubert)

Batman and Robin 35 [Matlock]

Batman and Robin #35

(Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason)

Batwoman 35 [Matlock]

Batwoman #35

(Marc Andreyko and Georges Jeanty)

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Spawn #1: Todd McFarlane on Respect

October 15th, 2014 Posted by | Tags: ,

Before I worked at Image, I grew up a fan of stuff like Spawn and Wildcats. I found this essay while re-reading old Spawns and liked it enough to transcribe, since apparently that’s where I’m at in my life right now. It’s from the end of Spawn #1, by Todd McFarlane. Any typos are mine. I added the date to his sign-off, but otherwise, I believe I transcribed this correctly.

Spawn-Letter

Why Image?

This is a question that will be asked a hundred times over the next few months. The answer will be as varied as the creative people involved in this somewhat historical undertaking. Though I wouldn’t profess to speak for any other creator, I can give you some insight as to why I stand with Image.

The entire reason that I am here doing what I am, can be summed up in one word: RESPECT. Or, more appropriately, the lack of it.

Traditionally, comics companies have been the moving force in this industry. They had the name, financial backing, creative pool and characters. Because of this combination, it was almost suicidal to try to ply your trade outside of the company boundaries. (This fear started in the ’30s.) As time went by and options became fewer, the creative pool became more convinced that we couldn’t survive without the big corporation backing us. Luckily there were a few shining lights along the way. The biggest of them, for me, was Jack Kirby.

I was born in 1961 and was too young to be there when Mr. Kirby seemed to be electrifying the industry with his literally thousands of creations. By the time I started collecting at age seventeen his legend had grown to almost mythical proportions. Here was a man who had created, co-created, or at least had a hand in the conception of nearly every character I had ever heard of. In almost any other occupation, a person of his esteem would command respect from both the people he worked for and from those who follow his work. Unfortunately, as far as I could tell, this wasn’t true.

By the mid ’70s, I had heard and read about some of the struggles Mr. Kirby had endured. It was this rude awakening that was always in the back of my mind during my entire career working for Marvel and DC Comics. I mean, if Jack Kirby could be shuffled to the sideline and generally ignored, what chance did I have? The answer was none. Armed with this reality, I kept a close eye on the further advancements of the comic industry as a whole.

New companies seemed to spring up at the end of the seventies, such as Eclipse, Pacific and First. All of them had their time in the sun and all of them ran into a few obstacles too. One of the things they accomplished for the creators was to offer a choice, offer ownership and more importantly, offer the acknowledgement that we mattered. People like Kirby, Mike Grell, Frank Brunner, Jan and Dean Mullaney and a host of other talented people helped to pave the way for a much needed change in the industry. It is these people, along with others such as Steve Ditko, Don Heck and Curt Swan who put in years of service, with Marvel and DC, to whom I owe a debt of gratitude. Their work affords me the luxury of having creative control and a royalty payment on my work and it is my hope to acknowledge that what they did mattered to me.

Sadly, I do not think Marvel and DC feel the same way. They insist that their characters are always more important in the creative process than the creators. Almost all of us would probably agree that the characters are very important, but not at the expense of forgetting those whose visions led to the popularity of those characters. Somewhere along the process the companies seem to have lost sight that actual human flesh created every one of the characters that they now own. I think you will find that rarely do the companies make mention of the people who initially created the characters. I am not looking for them to go out of their way to give the life history of the creator. However, I have read ten page articles with information on characters given by the companies, without ever a mention of the creator.

As the years went by, my heroes turned into the likes of Alan Moore, Frank Miller, John Byrne and George Perez. I got more enjoyment from these four people than I thought I would at an age when comic books are usually the furthest thing from a young man’s mind. But again, I stood by and watched as one by one they built up enormous popularity and readership for the companies that changed the rules half way through the ball game. Suddenly the company had all the answers as to why the books were selling, with no credit to the creative team that brought the books to the attention of the public. None of these four men are currently working full-time for the “big two.” Frank Miller, in the beginnings of his career—his passions, his visions, his opinions and his convictions—turned out to be the things that the companies couldn’t deal with, or were actually negative factors as the process continued. If he wanted to change the look and feel of a bad selling comic book ten years ago, why didn’t those same things count eight years later? What it amounts to is, when a book isn’t selling it doesn’t matter what you do on it and when the book is a success new ideas are squelched and suddenly a status quo with a bag full of rules is attached to it. Mentally, I wasn’t willing to accept these conditions any longer. Whether that is a lack of character on my part or seeing that there were other options available is irrelevant. I made my decision.

I thank Marvel and DC Comics for giving me the opportunity to provide my family with a living and a large forum to expose my talent. But the fun had gone out of it for me. It didn’t matter that they were paying good money. My mind was wondering: In most other occupations the foreman will ask the workers how to improve the working conditions. That has never happened in comics. And why should it when the creators didn’t count as much as the characters? I can honestly say that in the six or so years I’ve been in this business, other than Jim Salicrup, no one at the office ever solicited my opinion on anything. Not that I had any great vision, but given that I experienced some success, it seems reasonable that they might have wanted to tap into some of my ideas.

What I am trying to say is why wouldn’t comic companies ask Ditko in 1963 why he thought his books sold? And Kirby in ’64? Buscema in ’65? Starlin in ’72? Byrne in ’75? Claremont in ’78? Miller in ’82? Moore in ’85, etc. etc.? Every year, heck, every few months, there is a new hot guy. Why not tap into those people? Because, as far as the companies are concerned, it really doesn’t seem to matter what we think.

Am I being a bit harsh on the big companies? Probably. Were there not any good times? A thousand of them. Then why couldn’t I turn my cheek a few more times? To tell you the truth, it would have been far easier to stick with Spider-Man, collect a big check, fly to conventions and act like a big shot. Instead i am turning my back on a sure thing for some, perhaps, unattainable goal. My wife and I have a new daughter and I know that because I am following my heart I will be a better husband and father. No amount of money could buy me that. Also, I’d like to present a nice atmosphere that I work in to my daughter so that she isn’t turned off by the whole comic process. Some day I hope she will be proud of me instead of thinking that I’m getting the shaft.

Now is the time for me to sink or swim. No one to blame but myself. The future has never excited me more. I can draw cool characters, monsters, silent issues, wordy issues, as a matter of fact no issues if I don’t want to, and better than all that I don’t have to answer to anyone. Sound egotistical? Call it what you will. Doing what I want, when I want, where I want. I call it exciting as hell.

In the future I hope to do a Spawn/Spider-Man crossover. An Image Comics team-up with Dark Horse, DC, Marvel, Tundra, Valiant or whomever. Different characters. Different companies. Different creators. The list is almost endless. I’m excited at the possibilities and I hope that you are, too. It’s time for us in this business to all play together and not divide the ranks. We at Image are not out to burn anyone, quite the opposite. Given that we feel so excited about our work, it should show through on the printed page.

With people working at different companies, such as Liefeld, Lee, Silvestri, Larsen, Portacio, Valentino, Claremont, Miller, Moore, Simonson, Keown, Byrne, Baron, Gaiman, Romita, Breyfogle, Gerber, Layton, Perez, Grell and on and on and on, topped off by the “King” himself, Jack Kirby, we now have the potential to have all of us play in the same playground with the same rules…1) Don’t screw your neighbor and 2) Turno ut the best damn comics that have ever been on the stands.

You out there now have the most important job. Let us, the creators and the companies know what you want and hopefully we’ll be able to pull off a few of them.

In closing, let me leave you with a thought:

If someone gave you something that helped you grow in your life, would you think them for their concern or figure that you would have done it eventually.

I’d let them know they helped. That’s good. That’s honest. That’s respect.
—Todd McFarlane, May, 1992

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Color Cosplay

October 14th, 2014 Posted by | Tags:

I’ve been trawling tumblr here and there for the past few days, looking for people talking about me the panels I ran at NYCC this year (I need the feedback), and also cosplayers who were at the con (cosplay is dope). A side effect is I’ve seen a fair number of essays or statements kinda policing cosplay, drawing lines in the sand in the name of diversity and respect.

A sentiment I’ve seen that rubbed me the wrong way was the idea that white people shouldn’t cosplay characters of color because it’s disrespectful to take those characters from the culture they belong to. Which has something of a point, but technically most of those characters were invented by white men, at least as far as comics go, so the culture point is on shaky ground to begin with.

But I understand where the sentiment comes from. It’s fundamentally coming from a place of good intentions. Our culture is a white supremacist one, and a side effect of that is that fans and characters of color tend to get short shrift. It’s a protective position—”This is yours, it is for you, and I do not want to do anything to take that from you.” I respect that a great deal, but I think a hard-line position here with regard to who does what is ultimately harmful.

Part of the reason that characters of color don’t often get shine is they don’t get market support, and they don’t get market support because they’re viewed as being aimed directly and only at one particular audience, or even worse, the (adjective) version of something else, like the Black Avengers, the Lady Thors, and so on. They’re treated as a niche instead of fitting into the greater spectrum of things like everything else does.

There are no Cosplay Cops to enforce the rules, I’m no dummy, but by suggesting that white people should avoid cosplaying characters of color, you’re reinforcing the idea that these characters are not for everyone, that you must pass some test before you’re allowed to do anything with them.

And that’s silly, because pure, honest enthusiasm knows no boundaries. I met a black female Space Dandy at NYCC who was PSYCHED somebody recognized her. She loved the show but not a lot of people caught her cosplay. I took a selfie with a white female Space Dandy at SDCC. There were two black ladies cosplaying the best versions of Rogue and Gambit at NYCC. Though none of these people were the canonical versions of these characters, they wore the costumes because they loved the stories and characters. It didn’t matter they weren’t the right demographic. They threw their own spin on it and came out looking fresh to death. And I want everyone to have that experience, no matter how much melanin they may or may not have.

Obviously, white cosplayers should be respectful when cosplaying non-white characters. Don’t paint your face, don’t lean into a stereotype…don’t be a weirdo. Don’t be a jerk. But if you love Blade, if you love whoever, you should be allowed to do your thing, because then others will look and realize that hey, maybe this thing isn’t just for the colored folks after all.

I get where people who believe this are coming from, and I empathize. But I honestly think this belief is down to inexperience and a lack of examination. They’re trying very hard to be good people, to be people who love others despite or because of their differences, but they’re going absolute with it when real life requires fluidity. Not to mention that it’s an incredibly reductive position since it pits whites against everyone else, which prioritizes whiteness over non-whiteness in and of itself.

It’s a complex situation to be sure, and no one is technically at fault, if you dig me. It’s all good intentions and cultural quagmires. But if it’s love that’s making you do something, and you’re doing it in a way that you aren’t inadvertently spreading hateful messages, why shouldn’t you do it? It’s the respect that makes the difference. Culture vultures swoop in and steal what was created by others, claiming it for their own and icing the originators out of the equation. True fans pay homage to the originals and represent out of love. I was a casual Lupin the 3rd at SDCC this year, despite being neither French nor Japanese. But I love that dumb guy and wanted to do my part to spread the word.

We’re in this together. Fundamentally, objectively, realistically: we’re in this together. It’s easy to go way overboard and land on Condescension Square instead of Supportive Place when trying to better yourself and provide an example for others. If something ends with you putting up a wall between you and someone else, and it’s not for self-protection? Rethink it. Walls aren’t the answer. Walls are how we got here in the first place.

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This Week in Panels: Week 264

October 12th, 2014 Posted by | Tags: ,

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Greetings, ThWIP readers one and all, and welcome back to just that – This Week in Panels!

This week I’m joined by…actually, it’s just me and Gaijin Dan this week. Gavok actively bowed out on account of Comic Con eating up all his time and while I didn’t receive word from Matlock I’m assuming it’s the same unless/until I hear otherwise.

Considering the number of panels I usually bring to the table you could almost call it “This Week in Manga”.

Amazing Spider-Man 7

The Amazing Spider-Man #7

(Dan Slott, Christos Gage, and Giuseppe Camuncoli)

Bleach 599 [Dan]

Bleach #599

(Tite Kubo)

Blue Ex 61 [Dan]

Blue Exorcist #61

(Kazue Kato)

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Comic Cons: Work vs Play

October 8th, 2014 Posted by |

I went to my first convention as a fan, though I was ostensibly there to cover it on behalf of Hardcore Gamer Magazine, in 2007. It was a nice time—I finally met Gavin after years of knowing and writing with him online, I put a couple other faces to names, and I had a good time. I went to one panel where a company announced its next crossover and its dozens of tie-ins mere days after they finished their last crossover and the audience audibly groaned. Not just one loudmouth in the back, either, a large enough portion of the audience was so dissatisfied with the news that they straight groaned in disappointment. Even people who are on the hook don’t like being blatantly sold to. I laughed, and then I never went to one of those panels for fun again.

I learned a lot that first year, and I’ve been to a couple of cons a year since. SF-era Wondercon, San Diego, New York, and Emerald City—those are my shows. I worked NYCC and SDCC to make up for the travel costs, but I generally went to ECCC and WC for fun. But even “working” the cons as press means, at most, four-to-eight hours of actively doing things that aren’t for you, with a lot of free time in those hours. You’re essentially free to do whatever you like as long as you hit those meager marks and turn in copy. I took advantage—swims in the hotel pool, posting up at a bar’s patio for hours because the sun’s out, and sometimes even going into the show to see people.

I’m doing cons for Image now, which means I’m working-working, not press-working. Between sales and signings at the booth, panels at shows, and needing to keep up with my day job duties, I don’t know how to do cons any more, at least the hanging with friends and having independent fun part. It’s a whole different animal, going to a con to work versus play, and I’ve been having a hard time with it since I got started at Image last year.

It’s not that it’s difficult or annoying, though I suppose it is both of those—it’s just different. It’s new, it’s unfamiliar, and I’m still feeling my way through it. I’m distracted and unfocused when trying to have fun with friends, and I could tell. They could, too. It sucks, but it’s my row to hoe.

I’m finding a balance. I usually have a bad time at comics parties/events, so I focus on what I know works for me instead of the event-oriented nightlife. Finding a dark corner somewhere, leaving the con, walking and talking, whatever whatever. Talking about comics with strangers. I’ve taken to doing quiet, small-scale dinners with close friends instead of the sprawling comics dinners. Starting the show off on a good foot with a no-pressure thing. It works. It’s working.

I don’t really get stressed out at shows, but I do get anxious. Instead of being able to do nothing, I’m representing a company and have responsibilities. I want to make sure that I meet that need, so my down home work ethic says “All work, no play, son.” Which doesn’t work. It’ll burn you out. You gotta find things that work for you. I dress up, too. Nothing too wild, I’m not Dapper Dan over here, but I like to put a little extra effort out there to look nice.

I like doing panels, too. I’m doing four for Image at NYCC:

Thursday, 5 – 5:45PM
Location: 1A21
IMAGE COMICS: I IS FOR IMMERSIVE
Comics can contain entire universes between their covers, and panelists Kelly Sue DeConnick (PRETTY DEADLY), Jason Latour (SOUTHERN BASTARDS), Jamie McKelvie (THE WICKED + THE DIVINE), Brandon Montclare (ROCKET GIRL), Kyle Higgins (C.O.W.L.), Tim Seeley (REVIVAL), and Ben Blacker and Ben Acker (THRILLING ADVENTURE HOUR PRESENTS… SPARKS NEVADA: MARSHAL ON MARS, THE THRILLING ADVENTURE HOUR PRESENTS… BEYOND BELIEF) excel at creating worlds that you can simply fall into from page one. Anything goes in comics, and now’s your chance to pick the brains of some of the most creative minds around.

Friday, 12:15 – 1PM
Location: 1A14
IMAGE COMICS: I IS FOR INFINITE
Comics are much bigger than superheroes. Kieron Gillen (THE WICKED + THE DIVINE), Antony Johnston (THE FUSE), Megan Levens (MADAME FRANKENSTEIN), Amy Reeder (ROCKET GIRL), Scott Snyder (WYTCHES), and Joshua Williamson (NAILBITER) create comics that range from sci-fi/crime to historical romance to horror and far, far beyond. Whether you’re here to broaden your horizons or check out a new work by your favorite author, these creators demonstrate the potential of comics.

Saturday, 2:15 – 3PM
Location: 1A06
IMAGE COMICS: I IS FOR IMPACT
No matter how weird of an idea you may have, if you can hook someone, they’ll be a reader for life. Wes Craig (DEADLY CLASS), Matt Fraction (SEX CRIMINALS), Steve Orlando (UNDERTOW), James Robinson (THE SAVIORS), Roc Upchurch (RAT QUEENS), Frank Quitely (JUPITER’S LEGACY), and Brian K. Vaughan (SAGA) take strange ideas and turn them into intensely relatable and entertaining comics. Now, they’re going to share their secrets and talk about how fun it is to make the unreal real.

Sunday, 2 – 2:45PM
Location: 1A10
IMAGE COMICS: I IS FOR INVENTIVE
All-ages comics are crucial to the longevity of the comics industry, and can be an incredible tool in entertaining and education children. Bring your family and come listen to panelists Nick Dragotta (HOWTOONS), Otis Frampton (ODDLY NORMAL), Chris Giarrusso (G-MAN), Sina Grace (PENNY DORA), and Fred Van Lente (HOWTOONS) speak on creating kids’ comics and the importance of libraries in spreading awareness.

A cool thing about my job is that I get an alarming degree of freedom when it comes to coming up with these panels. They all get approved by the mothership, but the rosters, the ideas, the descriptions, all of that is easily 90% my fault. Image does big announcements around Image Expo, which means I’m free to make the panels exactly what I want out of comics panels: an interesting discussion between people who know their stuff. I’m only there to help keep it moving and to involve the audience.

Here’s my approach: “What do I want to know?” That’s it! I’ll prep notes before the panel, and if I’m doing a Powerpoint presentation I’ll have a cheat sheet in there too. I only come in with a few specific things to ask, because I’ve found that if you start the conversation off right and then let it flow from that foundation instead of reading from a list, you’ll end up with a good time that ends up tying back into the theme of the panel. It’s like magic. So I’m up there to fire the starting gun, ask follow-up questions when people say interesting things in passing, and involve the audience. It’s a chance to satisfy my curiosity, and to create and satisfy curiosity in the audience.

The truth of comics panels is that the audience in the room is already on the hook and engaged. They may be the most engaged of all your fans, at least by a certain metric. So selling to them, letting them know it’s going to be X issues and come out on Y day and its ISBN is Z, is a bad tactic. They already know, and if they don’t know, they will know soon enough. So my choice is to engage them. Give them what they want and give them something they’ll remember. I’ve been blessed to have panelists that are gregarious and hilarious. I lose it laughing on-stage at least once a show, oftentimes more. The audience seems into it, too. People dig my approach. We may not have much for breaking news, but I’d put my panels up against anybody else’s for sheer quality.

I’m still finding my balance, though. New York Comic Con is my last show of the year, just a few weeks after a rough one, so I’m hoping I can have a good time and do my job well, too. I could be nervous or afraid, but honestly? I either will or I won’t. None of this is new to me, and I know what I’m doing, so I’m not going to sweat it. I’m just going to do it, and things will work out in the end.

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Tumblr Mailbag: All the Anime Fit To Watch

October 7th, 2014 Posted by |

People on Tumblr ask me questions, I give them answers. It’s a good system.

letao said: got any solid anime recs that’re on streaming services? i’m falling back into it. so far (in the past 2.5 weeks) i’ve watched Ouran (4 times), Psycho Pass, the first two episodes of GitS: Arise, and Kill la Kill, for some context

I saw the first two eps of Arise, too, and I’m…super skeptical about the third! I haven’t tried Ouran but I have friends who swear by it. Psycho Pass and KLK are dope. I keep meaning to rewatch Psycho Pass now that there’s a new (extended?) series or whatever new in the franchise.

But yeah, let’s do this. These are probably pretty flippant but I enjoyed the time I spent with all of these:

Ga-Rei Zero: I just saw that this is not only dubbed, but streaming on Hulu now. I watched it on Netflix a couple years ago and liked it a lot. The first ep is pret-ty dang good, and the story that follows is pretty good, too. It’s about two girls who grow up like sisters in a family of exorcists. The sword-wielding, “spirit beast”-summoning kind of exorcists, not the Power of Christ Compels You kind. This one’s melancholy overall, I think. I might rewatch it now that it’s dubbed. (update: I watched the first two eps while writing this, I still like it)

Knights of Sidonia: The manga is better, but the anime is cool. A young guy returns to civilization after being raised by his grandfather on their own, like Goku. Only civilization is a floating space ark a long ways into the future and monsters called the Gauna are trying to eradicate human life. Luckily, the space ark has a fleet of Real Robot mecha…and this guy computer-trained on an older version so he’s super dope! And so on, but a weird mix of creepy, funny, half-hearted fan service-y, and violent. The manga’s up to volume 11, the show ends considerably earlier.

The Devil Is A Part-Timer: This show is seriously stupid but also pretty funny, like the cartoon equivalent of comfort food? It’s not challenging in the least. The title kind of explains the entire show. There’s the devil, in the video game sense, and he works a part-time job.

Blood Lad: This is about a prince of hell who is an otaku on the low. A living girl comes to hell, accidentally gets killed, and he brings her back to life as a ghost while working to bring her back to life-life. It’s funny and the fan-service is so weirdly inert that it doesn’t register as real service. But the character designs are cool, like if Jamie Hewlett designed characters who wear polos.

Tokyo Ghoul: Ghouls are vampire-zombies, but they’re not so monstrous they can’t like…run a swank coffee shop slash hideout for ghouls and wear butler outfits in-between eviscerating their foes. This one’s pretty grim and ugly, like if Madoka Magica got to the turn earlier and leaned way into it. A lot of scenes are censored due to gore, including my new favorite way to censor things, which is to turn the image negative while still showing multiple impalements. This makes me sound horrible, this makes the show sound evil, but it’s honestly entertaining like Gantz, but with more to say than “Like…boobs…y’know…?”

Future Diary: I think hate-watching or watching so-bad-it’s-good is a crap move. Life is short and I got things to do. But I gotta say, I hated this show and loved every minute I spent watching it. It is vicious and gruesome and it goes a lot of places that I feel like were incredibly bad storytelling choices. But there are also bonkers plot twists, clever violence, and cool ideas. It’s a survival game show—the hero gets a cell phone that tells him what’s going on around him, his stalker gets a phone that tells her exactly what he’s doing, someone else gets a phone that helps him do murders, others get phones that reflect their true love, etc. If you kill everybody else with these special x-men phones, you get to be Deus next but whoops ha ha somebody is sabotaging the game and things aren’t going as expected, I wonder why??? Also there’s a Home Alone episode only the toddler is the villain and the main character is the least palatable since the worst stereotype of Shinji Ikari you can think of. I cussed out my TV at great length probably a dozen times over the course of the series. This show is infuriatingly entertaining, like an exploitation movie written by a bunch of unforgivable marks and busters and filmed by someone pretty good. Honestly, though, by the end of it I was more exasperated than entertained and just wanted to see how poorly everything went. They didn’t even go a third as far as a bunch of people surrounding Shinji Ikari and clapping like a TRUE HERO would have. All killer, some filler here. Personally, it caught me with the cross counter.

Golgo 13: Don’t stand behind him.

Nobunagun: I like that Nobunaga, only (weird adjective) is a genre now. In this one, Nobunaga’s legendary soul or whatever has been reincarnated into this young girl, who then goes off and basically joins The League of Extraordinary Super Sentai Gentlemen, including Bishonen Jack the Ripper (who has a RIDICULOUS origin story, the most PREPOSTEROUS thing anyone has ever said about Jack the Ripper, I love it), Playboy Gandhi (he has a barrier ability), Professor Charles Xavier Robert Capa, Errand Boy Gaudi, :3 Galileo :3 Galilei :3, and New God Barbara Gordon Francois Vidocq. I was pretty into this show when it was new. It’s goofy and stupid but willing to be exactly what it says on the box, but not in a way that’s like “turn off your brain ha ha that will make it better.” It’s just a straight-up “Yo, here are historical figures with science powers versus aliens.” The first ep does a cool thing where all the black shadows (I believe) were replaced with this kind of glowing, moving floral print. It was immediately visually striking, and the rest of the show has a tone I dig a whole lot. It’s gleeful.

Beyond the Boundary: For some reason “half-monster dudes and the violent ladies who love them” is a genre, too, and I think this is the best I saw in that lane. The girl kinda sucks at first, but her power is controlling blood as a weapon, so that’s already interesting to me. it goes a lot of interesting places and is pretty nice to look at, too. All the episode titles are colors—I liked that.

Samurai Flamenco: It’s like Kick-Ass, only about a model who decides to become Kamen Rider and not mean or anything. Then they added a little of Sailor Moon with some Go Nagai attitude to back him up down the line, and then it turned into full-on Power Rangers, and then…look, it’s Kick-Ass, only it keeps doubling down on its earnestness and dedication to and respect for all the different types of tights & fights entertainment until it lands on a rousing ending. It’s superhero as heck, is what I’m saying here, but it is also a love letter to and critique of the genre. Dudes get kicked in the dick by the lead singer of a trio of superheroes who make cash as a girl group, the hero rides around on a bike with a helmet that matches his uniform, many speeches about the necessity of heroism are made.

Gargantia on the Verduous Planet: A guy who pilots a mech crash lands on a ship (think Waterworld)…and the army he belongs to is nowhere to be found in the solar system. So he just like…chills? This show is incredibly well-animated for what it is. If Hajime no Ippo looked like this I would die. This show had the nerve to have either two or three beach episodes in a row—either way, there was a lot of cavorting and bbqing toward the middle bits, way more than most other series dare. It’s charming, has nice designs, and is pretty fun. I like A Boy and His Robot stories. This one’s pretty fan-servicey though.

Straight Title Robot Anime: Three robot girls post-Skynet, post-Judgment Day, post-extinction try to figure out humor! The entire show is explaining jokes using crude computer graphics, but the writing is so unbelievably good. “Here’s how a pun works” sounds dumb as heck but the way they choose to do it is A+, and then there are Super Robot jokes alongside. The running gags are second-to-one.

gdgd Fairies: I don’t know how to recommend this show without hyperbole, but it’s the one STRA is second to. If Eric Andre did an anime, and that anime was so ugly it was aesthetically pleasing because it looks like 1998 and that was a good year, and it starred three voice actresses who mostly stayed in character, and those three actresses had a whole segment where they have to make up dialogue for brief video clips…they might as well have stopped making anime after this, and probably outlawed jokes, too. Nothing will be as gdgd. Here are some clips I reblogged a while back.

DD Fist of the North Star: The Devil Is A Part-Timer for FotNS fans, only Ken is the part-timer, Jagi lives in a box, Ryuken owns the convenience store, and Yuria is a cardboard cut-out. It is almost exactly as funny as gdgd Fairies, but probably not funny at all if you’re square and don’t like Fist of the North Star. (You’re already dead inside.)

The Eccentric Family: This one is a heart-warming tale of a family of cute Japanese monsters who exist in a community of cute Japanese monsters and the sort of trials and travails they go through. It is very warm and melancholy on occasion. Totally worth the time.

Champion Joe 2: It’s a boxing anime with a hero who accidentally killed his main squeeze’s brother in the ring in the prior series and talks a lot of long walks in dramatic rain in between knocking fools out accordingly. This was made for me.

Aldnoah Zero: I kept expecting this to be Encyclopedia Brown Pilots A Robot, but it continually defied my expectations. Mars has tense relations with Earth (Martians are just regular humans only they have the feudal system??) and then things erupt into war. Luckily, there’s a whip-smart kid on the ground who gets swept up into things through sheer chance. There’s a whole lot more going on and this ended up being a very interesting and tight show. It ended recently; I loved it.

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun: A high school girl confesses her love to her crush. He takes her back to his apartment, they settle in, and she begins helping him ink his manga. He writes a very popular girls’ comic, you see, and she confessed her love by saying she’s “a fan.” These things happen, and more things like this keep happening, thanks to a freakish and wonderful cast of characters. This show is basically that manga subplot from Nichijou (the only thing that’s as gdgd as gdgd) only with less violence. It’s real funny.

From the New World: Tomorrow, a bunch of kids go full Akira and telekinesis is outlawed. In the far future, there’s a village in a pseudo-feudal future Japan where children learn to control their powers. It’s basically full-on fantasy, but surprisingly down and kinda…1984 about some things. The world-building is good, the revelations are horrifying, and this is a good “serious” anime. It’s not very flashy, but it’s good. I like the opening theme.

Kyousougiga: Probably the best-looking thing I’ve seen in a long while. It reminds me of The Eccentric Family, I think because they both share the same family thing at the center of it, but this is like…if Cowboy Bebop became a genre unto itself, then this is what happens when FLCL is a genre, and someone does a story about belonging and feelings on a Michael Bay budget, definitely fool cool, but not fully fooly cooly. So much fun, too. I’d recommend this to anybody but it can get saccharine. Swear all I like are cusswords and violence cartoons and heart-warming friendship smiley face stuff.

It’s not on streaming any more but I would pay tens of dollars for a boxed set of Nichijou/My Ordinary Life. I remember when anime was new and mind-blowingly realistic compared to American stuff, and Nichijou somehow manages to evoke that feeling and tell some unbelievably good jokes. I think it went off streaming this month or last.

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This Week in Panels: Week 263

October 6th, 2014 Posted by | Tags: , , , ,

263 Header

GREETINGS ALL and welcome back to Week in Panels!

As always, it’s another week full of panel goodness thanks to the help of Gaijin Dan Man, AnarChris Man, Matlock Man, and Gavok Man. We’re still trying to figure out who’s weak to whose power.

If you’re wondering just what Spider-Man is talking about, I’ll provide the answer after the panels below.

And now Panels: START!

Action Comics 35

Action Comics #35

(Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder)

aquaman others 6 [Gavok]

Aquaman and the Others #6

(Dan Jurgens and Lan Medina)

Black Widow 11 [Matlock]

Black Widow #11 (Matlock’s Pick)

(Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto)

black widow 11 [Gavok]

Black Widow #11 (Gavok’s Pick)

(Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto)

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This Week in Panels: Week 262

September 28th, 2014 Posted by | Tags: , , ,

262 Header

It’s that time of week again – This Week in Panels time!

This week I’m joined by Gaijin Dan, The AnarChris, and Gavok. Matlock, meanwhile, was recruited to help ensure that the future doesn’t end in the near future. That kind of thing tends to eat up a lot of free time.

In a shameless bit of self-promotion where I abuse my power as Week in Panels host to write about any intro I’d like, I launched my own webcomic this week.

I call it Beat Stuff Up Man. It’s pretty high concept, pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s about a guy who gets in fights with stuff and beats them up. So far he’s beat up an angry Badgerine and is just about to get in a fight with some weird shark thingies that look an awful lot like piranhas.

It’s a side project I’ve started up for kicks and giggles to provide some more immediate gratification alongside my larger, long-term projects. So yeah, feel free to go check that out if you’d like. I’d certainly appreciate if you did.

Now that I’ve finished promoting my own selfish aims, let’s get on with what other people have put out this week.

ROLL THOSE PANELS!

all new ghost rider 7 [Gavok]

All-New Ghost Rider #7

(Felipe Smith and Damion Scott)

batman 66 meet green hornet 10 [Gavok]

Batman ’66 Meets the Green Lantern #10

(Kevin Smith, Ralph Garman, and Jon Bogdanove)

Bleach 597 [Dan]

Bleach #597

(Tite Kubo)

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This Week in Panels: Week 261

September 21st, 2014 Posted by | Tags: , , , , , ,

261 Header

Know what time it is? Of course you do, because it says what time it is right up THERE!

It’s WEEK IN PANELS TIME!

Joining me this week, as always, are Gaijin Dan, Gavok, and Matlock. Oh, and AnarChris. We have some panels from him this week, too.

Big week for my picks. I actually managed to beat out Gavok with the number of panels I have. Though that’s partially because he didn’t manage to get to Multiversity this week. Which is a shame, because it’s a really good issue.

However, he did have something else he wanted me to share, an article he wrote that’s basically a readers guide to Deadpool where he’s sorted through and picked out the good stuff.

Side note – while I recognize that Gavok’s read WAY more Deadpool than me (frankly, he’s probably read more of just about anything than me), I do feel inclined to say that while I agree with him that Deadpool Corps was a bad joke to be avoided, I think the Deadpool Corps prologue issues were actually pretty decent.

As it so happens, it’s also a surprisingly timely article as well, but as for why, I’ll tell you once we get through this week’s panels…

avengers 35 [Gavok]

Avengers #35 (Gavok’s Pick)

(Jonathan Hickman, Jim Cheung, Paco Medina, Nick Bradshaw, and Dustin Weaver)

Avengers 35 [Matlock]

Avengers #35 (Matlock’s Pick)

(Jonathan Hickman, Jim Cheung, Paco Medina, Nick Bradshaw, and Dustin Weaver)

Batman and Robin FE 1 [Matlock]

Batman and Robin: Futures End #1

(Ray Fawkes and Dustin Nguyen)

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Do These Things At Rose City Comic Con

September 17th, 2014 Posted by |

The best panels in comics are going on the road to sunny (?), vibrant (??) Portland, Oregon for Rose City Comic Con this weekend. I’m moderating four panels at the show, two for the check writer and two for the con itself.

SATURDAY, I’m talking to a few of the people making comics in the mainstream that connect with people in a way that mainstream books often don’t. We’re talking stories that are human and humane, that reach past the glitter and spectacle and put the big squeeze on your heart, that something something your something something, clever ending that ties it all together.

Image Comics Presents I is for Immediate
Room: Panel Room 2
Time: 12:00PM – 12:50PM
Separately, Kelly Sue DeConnick (Pretty Deadly), Matt Fraction (Sex Criminals), and Greg Rucka (Lazarus) have written some of the most compelling and intensely relatable comics on the stands. Together, these three writers are part of a wave of creators creating stories that reflect life as live it and the world as we know it. Join them as they discuss writing comics and striving for more.

SUNDAY, I have a packed schedule. First, I’m talking to Sloane Leong, Leila Del Duca, and Ben Dewey about creativity and storytelling and their approach to comics and so on. Second, I’m talking to Dynamic Dustin Nguyen, an artist whose work I’ve dug since I first discovered Wildcats 3.0. He’s got a unique style, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it came from. Third… Parker/Brothers, son. And immediately after that? I’m on a plane, but baby don’t forget me, I’m a travellin’ man.

Image Comics Presents I is for Irresistible
Room: Panel Room 2
Time: 11:00AM – 11:50AM
Comics art is better than ever and reaching new heights on a daily basis. Sloane Leong (From Under Mountains), Leila Del Duca (Shutter), and Ben Dewey (Tooth & Claw) share the secret to making great comics, sustaining creativity, and just how important artists are when it comes to storytelling in comics.

Spotlight: Dustin Nguyen
Room: Panel Room 7
Time: 12:00PM – 12:50PM
Dustin is one of the most prolific and hard working artists in the comics industry. He has worked on numerous Batman titles including, The Authority, American Vampire, and now the critically acclaimed digital first title Batman: Li’l Gotham, Dustin has truly shown he’s a force to be reckoned with.

Spotlight: Jeff Parker
Room: Panel Room 7
Time: 2:00PM – 2:50PM
From the humble beginnings as a comic artist to being one of the most sought after writer’s in the industry, Jeff Parker has shown that his unique take and sense of humor adds a level of depth to his characters rarely seen in the industry. Come step into the mind of the man currently behind Aquaman, Batman ‘66, X-Men: First Class, and so much more.

If you’ve never been to a panel I’ve run, here’s how it goes: I introduce everybody, I pick their brains a bit to set the foundation for the chat to come, and then audience Q&A is integrated into the discussion. If you ask a question, you get a free comic. If you ask a really good question, I’ll give you a handful of comics. It’s a good deal for everyone.

On top of that, my friend Marissa Louise is putting on a Ladies Mixer at Rose City. It happens before the con opens to the general public, so you need to be either on a panel or tabling. She tells me some wonderful women have already chosen to attend, so if you fit the bill, you should check it out and have a bite to eat. Marissa is cool people, very smart and fiercely protective of her folks. You can tweet her if you need more info.

Saturday September 20th, Rose City Comic Con (Portland Convention Center)
9:00 am to 9:45 am Panel Room 5
Fruit & Donuts

On top of all that, Caleb Goellner, one of the top two stand-up guys in comics, teamed up with Dark Horse editor Jim Gibbons to drop Birch Squatch: The Last Bigfoot this week. I like Caleb, I like Caleb’s comics, you should read Caleb’s comics. He also does Mermaid Evolution solo and Task Force Rad Squad with Buster Moody. All his comics are pay-what-you-want, so throw him a few bucks and have a good time.

Finally, If you see me at the show, and you can do it without being weird, I’ll show you cool comics (American and Japanese) stuff you’ve possibly never seen before on my iPad.

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