Archive for the 'brief bits' Category

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That’s a wrap.

November 17th, 2014 Posted by david brothers

4thletter! turns ten next year; this post is the last post on the site for the foreseeable future. It’s been limping along for a couple of years, and it’s always better to call it than stick around after you fall off.

Over the course of 4l!’s run, I got to write alongside Thomas Wilde, DB “Hoatzin” Cooper, and Esther Inglis-Arkell. I got to have fun with the Funnybook Babylon gang, Chris Eckert and Pedro Tejeda and Joe Mastantuano and Jamaal Thomas. I got to terrorize comic conventions with Cheryl Lynn Eaton. Tucker Stone and Sean Witzke are fellow members of the Class of ’05, and they’re two of the best folks around. Graeme McMillan & Jeff Lester, Joe McCulloch, Los Mindless Ones, the Blog@/Robot6/Great Curve crew, Brigid Alverson & Deb Aoki bka the dynamic duo of manga blogging, Tom Spurgeon…

4thletter! got me blogger beef, creator beef, editor beef, publisher beef, marketer beef, and, of all things, rapper beef.

I did what I wanted to do, how I wanted to do it, and folk seemed to feel it. I did it alongside friends.

This dumb site gave me a chance to write alongside Gavin Jasper, the funniest guy on the internet, continuing a friendship that started because of video games and fanfic. I love that guy. I can see site stats on our dashboard—he’s got the top 19 posts on the site for all-time. He owns the top 50. He runs 4thletter!. Gavin’s one of the best writers and guys around. You’re a fool if you’re sleeping on him.

Gavin: thank you.

Thanks for reading.
davidb.


Well. I guess the writing was on the wall.

I still remember when David asked me to join his site. We had known each other for a few years online and one of the forums we frequented was Higher Voltage, a now-defunct site dedicated to fighting games. There was a comics thread and around that time, I was getting back into comics for the first time in six or seven years. I had a soft spot for the 90’s Venom anti-hero comics and I decided to read through the entire run. I remember there being a website called “Life of Reilly” that was dedicated to the history of the Scarlet Spider and going through the whole Clone Saga in great detail. To go with that, I started writing posts called “Life of Brock,” which was about talking up the various Venom issues as I went through them. I got about halfway through before losing steam, but people seemed to dig it.

David was moving his “guerilla_grodd” Livejournal into a blog and recruited me to help out, saying I could use it as a home for Life of Brock and write about whatever. I took him up on the offer because I grew to absolutely love writing. I had no plans to be a writer or anything. I was just a dude in college with a lot of time on his hands who really, really loved giving himself massive writing assignments. I wrote a 200-page Word document about the plot of the Mortal Kombat for GameFAQs at one point. Just because!

I mainly just fucked around on the old site. I seem to remember one of my earliest posts was about writing a weird fan-fiction-y thing about trying to make narrative sense of all the Marvel vs. Capcom games. Like explaining Akuma showing up in X-Men: Children of the Atom and why Anita from DarkStalkers was in the Saturn version of Marvel Super Heroes. Really, most of my stuff was garbage.

It was my love for self-imposed writing projects that led to me doing the Top 100 What If Countdown back in 2007. Seemed like a fun diversion. Then it changed when I saw the traffic. I always figured we got maybe a couple dozen people visiting 4thletter a day. Instead, it was in the hundreds. People actually gave a damn about what I was writing. That gave me a real shot in the arm and I started putting more effort in my writings. We started going from hundreds to thousands and it was a major thrill, causing me to compete against myself to see what kind of harebrained article idea I could do next.

But of course, it’s all about David. While my articles are high-concept clickbait, David’s always been the heart of the site, even if it wasn’t already his and wasn’t named after him. David was quality and I could never compete with that no matter how funny my jokes supposedly are (note: I have to add “supposedly” so I don’t sound like a dick). One of the things that always irked me is when he would do some thoughtful post on race and people in the comments or on another site would misread his tone and label him as some kind of angry black man, constantly looking to find stuff to be angry black about. Nothing can be further from the truth. I know David. I love David. David is — and will ALWAYS be — my friend. He may be passionate, but he is far from being just some angry dude. I’ve known him for well over a decade and the maddest he ever got at me was, I shit you not, me telling him that the actor who played Mad Dog in Raid: Redemption shows up in the sequel in a different role. He got annoyed because he didn’t want any spoilers and that counted.

David’s given me a stage to showcase my creativity and for that I will always be thankful to him. I’ve offered to help chip in for the site and he’s never taken me up on it. Instead, he’s just let me do my thing, never censoring me or telling me what I couldn’t write. Over the past ten years, I’ve written a lot of stuff that I’m incredibly proud of. The What If Countdown, Ultimate Edit (and thanks to Nick Zachariasen for making that happen), This Week in Panels, the Top 200 Fighting Game Endings, We Care a Lot, Darkseid Minus New Gods and so many other things. Maybe I’m a poor man’s [insert popular internet comedy writer here], but I made people laugh and put people in a good mood now and then. That’s all I could ask for.

It could only last so long, I suppose. The articles I’ve written here have led to my hiring at Den of Geek US and that’s where my focus is. As much as I hated to discover, when it comes down to writing something that will get me paid and writing something similar that will just be for fun, I need to go with the dollars. My 4thletter writing has dwindled to nothing and when David suggested pulling the plug, I didn’t even blink. Still, thanks to Michael Stangeland for helping keep This Week in Panels afloat in these final months.

While I’m thanking the revolving door of “third guys” at 4thletter, I’d like to thank the original third guy, Thomas Wilde. I’ve known him longer than even David and he was really the first dude to ever see any potential in my writing. He gave me a lot of good advice over the years and I don’t think I’d be here if it weren’t for him. Thanks to Hoatzin, who was always the raddest, most awesome dude and Esther, who… okay, I honestly didn’t know Esther all that well. But she did get me a Christmas present one time and David vouches for her, so she’s good people.

Follow me on Twitter if you don’t already and if you can stand it. You’ll see me constantly posting links to my new home at Den of Geek. Other than that, it’s been a blast and I thank every single one of you who read anything we’ve written and enjoyed it. I did something right.

Been real, Brothers. Been real.

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Me, on the internet.

November 7th, 2014 Posted by david brothers

I’m on the internet!

-You can see me on Independent Sources: Diversity in Comics, about 21:40 in.
-You can listen to me moderate I Is For Infinite at New York Comic Con 2014, featuring Kieron Gillen, Amy Reeder, Scott Snyder, Megan Levens, Josh Williamson, Antony Johnston, and Chip Zdarsky.
-You can listen to Grave-vid Smothers celebrate HELLOWEEN SPOOKTACULAR 3: SPECIAL TREEHOUSE OF ENGINEER DENNIS MEMORIAL 666 SPECIAL with Truckasaurus Stone, Season of the Witzke, Wet Donut In Aliens Jeske, Satanic Horror-ocks, The (understandably) Unretrieved Cremains of John K.O., and Jared the Atomic Space Ape Lewis. It’s a good time.

More soon.

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Tite Kubo’s Bleach 601: violence comix

October 23rd, 2014 Posted by david brothers

tite kubo - bleach 601

Look at that chapter page. Bleach, chapter 601. Tite Kubo on the wheels of steel.

This is Oh-etsu Nimaiya, originator of the magic soul swords Soul Reapers use in Bleach:

tite kubo - bleach 601 - 01

tite kubo - bleach 601 - 02

tite kubo - bleach 601 - 03

I like animation-like action storytelling the best, where you can chart every move as the character progresses from one to the next. Fluid continuity, maybe. Akira Toriyama does it well. But this stuff is great too, this sorta Jim Lee and Jack Kirby approach to storytelling moments, where it’s the pose and pause that matter more than the flow. Action scenes that still make sense, but function differently than giving you every slice of information.

Here, Kubo’s playing with chanbara blood spray, held poses, and the illusion of speed. Nimaiya’s blade appears in another character’s head before his partner even notices. By the time the partner notices, the blade is out and sliding across his throat. The speed lines help the sense of motion some, particularly the payoff of the zoom on the hooded figure’s face on the next page, but these images generally feel “static.” They’re discrete moments in time.

It’s all in the staging here. That long shot of Nimaiya walking away after taking a man’s arm from him, already so far away after having swung his sword. Nimaiya with his foot on the hooded figure’s chest, ready to pull the sword out (it’s hilt-deep!) and swing simultaneously brings to mind iaido, though it’s a little different. But every panel here builds Nimaiya up as a threat, as a murder machine.

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Stuff I Like, 10.21.14

October 21st, 2014 Posted by david brothers

I like Zainab Akhtar’s look at the Lakes International Comics Art Festival. Con reportage in comics tends to be of the “I went here and got this” or “a publisher or creator said this on a panel” varieties, which are good, but not holistic the way Zainab’s report is. The vibe of the area, the prejudices, the interests, all of that makes sense to include in a trip report. New York Comic Con has more aggressive crowds than San Diego Comic-con, the nightlife at Emerald City Comicon is more focused than New York Comic Con, and so on. The area and culture around the con matters, and if, as Zainab saw, that culture is hostile to certain groups of people…it’s well worth discussing. I saw on Twitter that Zainab received pushback for including comments about how the town treated her…embarrassing. Better to listen and learn to recognize truth. We can do better. It’s never “just” comics.


Kate Dacey joins Brigid Alverson at MangaBlog, securing that blog’s status as one of the best comics blogs in the land. Kate & Brigid are absolute powerhouses at sifting for good information, and I’m glad to see Kate back on the manga internet. Brigid’s interview with Takeshi Obata (Death Note, All You Need Is Kill, etc) is good, too.


My friend Katie Longua released a new comic recently, Munchies. She’s running a contest (which ends on Monday) to celebrate the release of her book, which was an APE debut. Entering is easy and highly recommended.

Munchies is the story of a young lady with a killer case of the munchies. It’s short and sweet, with an ending I didn’t see coming. A cool thing about being around comics but not making comics myself is that I get to sit on the sidelines and watch as my friends make comics and just get better and better. Katie’s got a cool cartoony style that lends itself well to eruptions of heavy detail, like the popcorn in a bowl, stacked junk food shelves, and wolf monsters erupting from bellies. Here’s some promo art from her tumblr:

munchies-00 munchies-01

munchies-02 munchies-03

Katie’s style feels “cartoon-ready” to me, like if someone picked it up and animated it it’d look just as good. She does simple designs very well, like the Munchie Lady’s halter top and shorts, but she’ll also throw in real-life fabric folds or weathering into the mix for added detail. Each character is distinct, with unique designs even when they share similar aspects…Katie makes good comics.

You can buy Munchies and her other works in print at her Storenvy, or you can buy any of her comics digitally for just a dollar or more. She did a whole risograph thing for Munchies—it looks good. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

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Do These Things At Rose City Comic Con

September 17th, 2014 Posted by david brothers

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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Help Kids Learn and Become Superheroes With 826NYC

August 21st, 2014 Posted by david brothers

My friend Chris Eckert, also known as Kenny Bloggins and of Funnybook Babylon fame, volunteers at 826NYC. I’ve talked to him more days than not over the past however long we’ve known each other, and that means I’ve heard anecdotes like the one below here and there. They’re always hilarious and heart-warming, Kids Say The Darnedest Things-type material, but genuinely funny.

He’s raising money for 826, and I’m a believer. He shared this story, which you can reblog on tumblr by clicking his name, to sweeten the pot and jedi mind trick you into donating. It worked on me, and I hope it’ll work on you.

ihopeyourehappyinternet:

Hello Internet Friends and Acquaintances!

If we’ve spoken for more than ten minutes over the past decade, I’ve probably mentioned 826NYC and/or the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co. They’re celebrating their tenth year of providing free educational programs and cape testing to folks in the five boroughs, and I’ve volunteered for them for very close to that entire time. You can check out our site for more information about all of the programs: drop-in homework help, creative writing workshops, field trips and publishing projects produced in conjunction with local schools, and even an annual student-made film festival (on August 26th, naturally) where kids get to see their efforts on the big screen at BAM. All of these programs are 100% free for the students and their families, which means that periodically we have to bust out the proverbial-or-literal donation bucket. I’ve never pushed this on my friends and acquaintances because come on, I am a product of public schools and state universities, and I don’t think I’ve even met a hedge fund manager. But this year they’re trying out something called $826 for 826 and how could I turn down participating in something with such a symmetrical hook?

Beyond all of the great stuff 826 does that I listed above — and it is great stuff, I’ve worked on all of it — I thought I would share one of the most incredible things I’ve ever witnessed in the confines of volunteering at 826NYC. 

It was after drop-in tutoring  and two kids around ten years old hadn’t yet been fetched by their parents. One was an 826 lifer who’s been involved with countless workshops and projects. The other was dragged in sporadically by his parents for maybe a year before his sullen eye-rolling brought an end to the experiment. Maybe it’s not important which was which.

The first kid mentions his hopes of getting a dog for his birthday. Or maybe a cat. Definitely a pet. He would LOVE a pet and turns to the second to ask if he has any pets. Second Kid says no, and when pressed on the issue explains because his mother is allergic to dogs.

The first kid is gobstruck. “WHAT? She’s allergic to DOGS? I’m sorry, but that is STUPID. Dogs are awesome. What kind of messed up person would be ALLERGIC to something so awesome? I don’t know man, your mom is DUMB.”

Second kid has absolutely no response to this, and looks at me pleadingly. I attempt to intervene: “Look First Kid, being allergic to dogs has nothing to do with liking dogs. My mother loves all animals, but she’s allergic to cats and a lot of dogs. She can’t help it, it’s just something that happens.”

First kid is deep in thought. “So like you’re born with allergies?”

“Exactly!”

First kid pauses, and busts out an incredible turn of phrase: “Look, what I am about to say MAY BE CONSIDERED CONTROVERSIAL. But I should NOT GET IN TROUBLE FOR IT.” The exact phrasing has obviously stuck with me to this day, and given the gesticulation accompanying I imagine he picked this up from a comedian or something. I still don’t know. For the first time I’m somewhat concerned about being left alone with minors, but I let him continue.

“There are people in our community who are… I don’t want to say the word… it’s like when a boy likes a boy or a girl likes a girl.”

“You mean people who are gay?”

“YES! Now… I know that being G-A-Y isn’t a big deal, it’s just how some people are born, and it’s not weird, and no one should ever make fun of them for it. I shouldn’t get in trouble for saying this!”

“You haven’t said anything that will get you in trouble, First Kid. And if you’re just stating a fact it’s okay to say gay.”

“I don’t want to get in trouble. But like… Second Kid’s mom was just BORN allergic to dogs?”

“Right.”

“Okay, so being allergic to dogs is the same thing as being gay?”

“I mean… yes?”

“Second Kid, I’m sorry I made fun of your Mom for being allergic to dogs. It’s just like she’s gay or something, she’s not stupid.”

Second kid begrudgingly accepted the apology, and seconds later his mother came in to pick him up. First kid felt a little bad for being prejudiced against allergic people, but I told him he’s fine. And he is.

Beyond watching sullen eight year olds who hate homework growing into high-achieving teenagers who will patiently walk a second grader they barely know through multiplication even if it interrupts their own studies, beyond watching kids discover their hidden love of acting, poetry, claymation, or fashion design, beyond even getting to walk through A SECRET PASSAGE HIDDEN BEHIND A BOOKSHELF multiple times a week, this is why I volunteer at 826NYC and want it to continue to flourish. It’s a safe space for people to ask questions, explore topics, and learn tolerance for people with dog allergies. 

If you can, please donate whatever amount you feel appropriate to support 826NYC. And regardless, if you are ever in the need of a cape and are in Brooklyn, I can hook you up.

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Good Reading On The Internet

August 7th, 2014 Posted by david brothers

Here’s what’s up:

-Everything We Love About Ultraviolence: I like the Strawberry Fields Whatever gang, and when Liz Barker goes “hey, wanna write about Lana Del Rey with me?” the only right answer is “yes, let’s do it.” So we did.

-Inkstuds on the Road – Part 12 Rob Liefeld: I loved Liefeld as a kid, hated on him as an adult, and now I’ve come back around to getting it. He’s a beast and this interview is pretty good. He talks a bit about his influences and how he works. He also talks about the influence Masamune Shirow’s Appleseed had on his work, proving yet again that Shirow is one of the best secret pass-phrases to find exciting people in comics.

-I got a tumblr question about nourishing future creators, and the short version of the answer is “Marvel and DC should be secondary or tertiary in that conversation at best.”

-The Garfunkel & Oates pilot is great:

-I only watched 9 movies in July, and only one of them was as good as Tranformers 4.

-Bauer Hour: the 24CAST.: I sit down with three of the best dudes in comics to talk about the best show on TV, the almighty 24, featuring Kiefer Sutherland, king of this counter-terror ish.

-Here’s Why Comic Con 2014 Was Actually Great For Comics: I donated 1300 words to io9 to talk about SDCC this year and why it was great. It’s bad business to donate anything to Gawker, but they’d run a pretty poor piece on the same subject and I got gassed up. It’s probably good reading, though. I like “That sounds like a Marvel & DC problem.” I might have to use that again.

-Diversity in Geekdom: I did an interview the Monday after SDCC about diversity and comics. I ended up getting cut for space reasons, but some of what I said are available as b-sides, sorta. Probably nothing you haven’t heard before, though!

More soon!

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The Seven Most Important Panels at SDCC 2014

July 23rd, 2014 Posted by david brothers

THURSDAY, 2:00, Room 23ABC: I IS FOR INFINITY, featuring Nick Dragotta, Rick Remender, Richard Starkings, Jason Latour, Stuart Moore, Ryan Burton, and a few special guests I can’t name yet! This is about the infinite genres comics can do.

THURSDAY, 7:00, Room 23ABC: Hip-Hop & Comics: Cultures Combining, featuring Murs, Mix Master Mike, Kenny Keil, and a few others. It’s about…it’s bout it bout it.

FRIDAY, 11:00, Room 23ABC: I IS FOR INCEPTION, featuring Fiona Staples, Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky, Kelly Sue DeConnick, John Layman, Steve Seagle, and a couple of special guests who do dope work. This one’s about collaboration, and there’s a cover reveal in here. Whose? SHOW UP.

SATURDAY, 1:00, Room 7AB: SAGA, featuring Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples. I’m not moderating this one, but I’ll probably be present or on A/V duty.

SATURDAY, 4:30, Room 6DE: I IS FOR IDEAS, featuring Scott Snyder, Josh Williamson, Kyle Higgins, Joe Kelly, Brian K Vaughan, and a few special guests. There’s a cool announcement at this one, so come through.

SATURDAY, 7:00, Room 23ABC: Best and Worst Manga of 2014, featuring Deb Aoki, Brigid Alverson, and Chris Butcher. I love this panel—I respect these folks so much. This is the one where I tell you your favorite manga sucks and my favorite manga rules.

SUNDAY, 2:00, Room 7AB: I IS FOR INNOVATION, featuring Amy Reeder, Chris Burnham, Tula Lotay, and some Expo guests who are particularly ferocious storytellers are on deck. This one’s about being an artist in comics, storytelling, and making some good comics.

When I’m not at these, I’ll be at booth 2729, putting out fires and busting heads.

For the Image panels—I brought some random #1s with me. Ask a question, get a free comic, probably of my choosing. I’ve got some Shaky Kanes in here, so stay woke. It’s a random selection of books, but you might get lucky. I’ll have digital codes for a free comic on imagecomics.com falling out my pockets, too. I’ll be the dressed up black dude. Come say hey.

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Genius: Renegades, Never Slaves

July 11th, 2014 Posted by david brothers



Way back in the bad old days of 2008, I read a comic called Genius. It was part of Top Cow’s Pilot Season program, an initiative meant to bring new blood into the industry and to the company, and it was created by Marc Bernardin, Adam Freeman, and Afua Richardson. Now, it’s 2014, I work at Image Comics, and Genius is on the way back this August as a weekly miniseries.

The concept of Genius struck me first. There have been several incredible military leaders throughout the years, and the latest is Destiny Ajaye, a young woman from South Central. Rather than becoming a kingpin or joining the military, she takes another route: armed insurrection. She unites the gangs and goes to war against the LAPD.

I’m an ’80s baby whose life was changed by Spike Lee’s Malcolm X and has spent a lot of time writing about the intersection of black culture and comics. The concept alone spoke to me, it reminded me of conversations and boasts that felt familiar and real. Bernardin and Freeman’s dialogue was on point and natural, authentically “black” without tipping over into parody or offensiveness. Richardson’s art was the bomb, inventive and kinetic and off-beat in all the right ways.

Genius hit me in my heart. There aren’t a lot of comics coming out of mainstream houses aimed at people like me, much less specifically me, but this one? It’s a comic that’s tailor-made for me, it feels like. The concept, the art, the focus on a majority-black and brown cast…there is something about Genius that other mainstream comics are lacking. It’s something different, something outside of the usual Direct Market experience.

It’s a familiar story, a Hero versus the enemy with an army at her back, but the twist is in the character work and the artwork. The characters feel familiar and honest, and Richardson’s artwork ranges from staging natural moments in a surreal manner to perfectly-emotive conversations. The creative team clicks for me.

A side effect of my job at Image is that I got issues 1-4 early as part of the production process. It’s work, but I read them while I was on vacation instead of waiting until I got back. I read them because I believe in Genius and Bernardin and Richardson and Freeman and I’m excited for this comic.

Final Order Cut-off for the comic is Monday. It’s shipping weekly in August, with two issues hitting on the last Wednesday of the month. If you shop at comic shops, tell them you want it. The Diamond Code for #1 is JUN140478, if you need it. Pre-ordering helps comics a lot, and for a book like this that’s sitting left-of-center with what’s prevalent, you’re going to need a little extra legwork to get what you need. You don’t have to pre-order it, it’ll presumably be available in a digital edition, but if you’re the pre-ordering type and you trust my taste, please call your shop and hook it up. I’m a fan, and I hope you will be, too.

I wrote about Afua Richardson for Black History Month 2011 and about Genius for ComicsAlliance in 2010.

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Tsutomu Nihei’s Knights of Sidonia: death

May 20th, 2014 Posted by david brothers

Knights of Sidonia, created by Tsutomu Nihei, translated by Kumar Sivasubramanian, published by Vertical. This is volume 2, there are several others, including ebooks on your preferred digital platform.

Set in a far-flung future after the destruction of Earth, Knights of Sidonia takes place in and around a spacecraft that contains the entirety—maybe so, maybe no—of humanity. They’re being hunted by powerful and utterly alien beings. One day, things go wrong and the ship must change course. Imagine being in a car taking a turn at 60mph. Now multiply it by several thousand orders of magnitude.

This happens:

Knights of Sidonia - death - 01

None of these people are named. They aren’t characters, just bodies that transition from human to smears. They’re indicators of scale and trauma instead of people. Imagine you, your best friend, and your circle. Now imagine what happens when they hit God’s windshield at eighty thousand miles an hour.

This follows:

Knights of Sidonia - death - 02

Nihei’s got a killer sense of scale and perspective. It made Blame! claustrophobic despite being full of open spaces and it made Biomega creepier than sin. Here, he goes from a long-distance shot to a close-up one, adding the remnants of human remains to the smears.

I keyed on the couple the first time I read this. They might not even be a couple—they might be two people caught by surprise in the moment. But under Nihei’s pen, they’re here and then they’re gone and that is the entirety of their existence.

The impersonal nature of these deaths, and this scene as a whole, struck me. These deaths happen because someone makes a decision to save the many at the expense of the…well, not few, as you can see. At the expense of those unfortunate enough to be away from safe areas at that specific moment in time.

Despite these deaths being utterly impersonal, they’re far from bloodless. Something about the way Nihei draws the splatters, the choice of sound effect, and the sheer number of them make the scene feel like one final upset and insult before the victims are sent on their way. It feels like a chill, an Act of God.

There was a person here. There’s not now.

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