Archive for the 'brief bits' Category

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Space Brothers: Maybe Next Time

April 17th, 2014 Posted by david brothers

chuya koyama - space bros - nope

Created by Chuya Koyama, translated by William Flanagan, serialized on Crunchyroll. Space Brothers.

Not even humans can defeat the weather.

I like Space Brothers a lot. I’m ninety-some chapters in at this point and it’s managed to be funny, thrilling, sad, poignant, and good without really being anything but a low stakes slow motion kind of comic. There may be death or failure or tragedy, but it’s not really a comic that trades on those. Koyama is telling a story about triumph more than tragedy, so any setback is put into a greater context that ameliorates it some.

Space Bros is good because its two lead characters are a remarkably motivated and successful astronaut and his unlucky older brother, who is attempting to become an astronaut. He’s a dummy, but he’s not dumb, like an adult version of a shonen protagonist, so the series is constantly walking this line between comedy, motivational speaking, and amazing and meaningful coincidences from the past reflecting in the present day. It’s all very unbelievable, but it makes me feel good/sad/good, so I’m into it.

It’s facile, but it reminds me a lot of Twin Spica, one of my favorite comics from a few years back. Twin Spica had a cast of mostly underdogs knocking down obstacles left and right on their way to the top. It was sweet, it was earnest, it was very good. Space Brothers is very similar, though with sibling rivalry and friendship at its core instead of cute stubbornness. Space Brothers is astronomically less melancholy than Twin Spica, but they both share a certain amount of bittersweet sentiment, which in turns makes the triumphs better.

Or the jokes, like this one, where the dummy older brother gets ready to train to become an astronaut, sees the weather, and thinks twice.

(Vertical’s begun releasing Twin Spica in ebook format. You should read it. I wrote about it a little.)

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Three Comics Kickstarters

April 16th, 2014 Posted by david brothers

Some people I like a lot are doing Kickstarters that make me feel good about where comics as an industry are going. Check it out:

-Smut Peddler 2014: LADYPORN CONQUERS EARTH is masterminded by Spike Trotman. I interviewed Spike back in February as part of Inkstuds Spotlight. Spike’s a great interview, funny, free, and most importantly, she knows how to talk about biz in a way that makes it easy for newbies like me to understand. I came away even more impressed and entertained than I already was, and it’s a delight to see Smut Peddler 2014, a sequel to the porn anthology she Kickstartered years ago, to blow up so huge. She asked for twenty grand, so far she’s up to one hundred five with eighteen days to go, and that means that all of the wonderful pornographers involved in this project are getting a fat stack of extra money on top of their page rate.

It’s 1) an anthology project 2) focused on lady-friendly pornography 3) with a page rate for the creative teams and 4) bonus cash for the creative teams, scaled according to how much money the project earns. Any one of these four things is a pretty wild idea according to common comics sense, but here are all four and it’s already a raging success. I think that speaks to something about comics as we know it right now, that there is an audience for this stuff that is not just being underserved, but not served at all.

But more than that, on a basic “Comics Needs To Be Better” front: artists are getting paid. And as the money coming in rises, they’re getting paid more. This is good. This is what comics shoulda been doing all along. Pay attention to Spike and her gang. Learn something.

-I’ve known Jason McNamara and Greg Hinkle pretty much since I moved out west, and I was glad to see them put up THE RATTLER a 96-page graphic novel thriller. Greg’s an artist that people are gonna dig once he breaks out, and Jason’s a mean writer in the best sense of the word, a real blood-in-the-unrepentant-grin kinda guy. They’ve been cranking away at this book for ages, and the Kickstarter is to publish it, rather than complete it. The book is done, so this is more like a pre-order than anything else. I’m stoked, personally, both because it’s great to see these guys succeed, but also because it’s sorta representative of what I think Kickstarter can be great at, which is connecting creators and readers without a middleman or marketing team getting in the way. “Here is my book. If you like it, buy it?” It’s basic, but Kickstarter can enable a lot of people who had exceedingly limited options beforehand, and I think The Rattler is a good example.

-There are a ton of comics out there that aren’t Marvel & DC, and I’ve been slowly figuring that out and dipping my toe into those waters over the past however many years. It’s tough to know where to start, but I’m glad Zack Soto and crew put Study Group Comic Books out there. It’s a webcomics site with a bunch of indie comics from a wide variety of creators, with a few print books on the side. Study Group Comics: 2014 Spring Pre-Order Fest is the Kickstarter for Study Group’s books this year, including new Farel Dalrymple and Sam Alden. A big part of figuring out this side of comics for me has been being able to check out Study Group and following the breadcrumbs. Sometimes finding new dope stuff is as easy as clicking on whatever looks cool.

I like all three of these projects and the folks involved. On top of that, all of them have a digital-only tier with PDFs. That’s my favorite kind of Kickstarter. DRM-free is the way to go, and if you’re looking for a few new books, any of these should be enough. They all have about ten days left and they’ve all met their goals, but it’s still worth backing any or all of ‘em.

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Nisekoi: Love Hurts

April 14th, 2014 Posted by david brothers

nisekoi - jokes 01

nisekoi - jokes 02
Written and drawn by Naoshi Komi, translated by Camellia Nieh, edited by John Bae. Nisekoi: False Love, 2014.

On the one hand, Naoshi Komi’s Nisekoi: False Love, currently being serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump is not my type of comic. It stars a Polite Loser who has girls of various types of specific fetishes chasing after him or aggressively ignoring him, depending on the lady. He’s pretty clueless and he secretly likes someone, but he’s in a fake relationship with another girl to bring peace to their respective Yakuza/mafia clans, so soap opera hijinks result…blah blah blah. It’s a hijinks romcom manga, not a crime manga, which is basically my entire problem. “This comic isn’t like an entirely different comic.” There’s a lot to like about it, anyway, though.

Nisekoi is drawn pretty well, despite not being my bag, so I like to flip through it when Jump comes out to see if anything catches my eye. While it isn’t entirely my type of comics, the joke in the middle tier of the first image and the entirety of the (nonconsecutive) second page have a sense of humor that are definitely my type of humor. I didn’t know comedy suplexes were a thing until I read GTO, and now I get a kick out of it every single time.

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Emerald City Comicon 2014: The Videos

April 11th, 2014 Posted by david brothers

I went to Emerald City Comicon, did six panels, and now you can see or hear most of them.

Image Comics Presents Comedy in Comics
Sometimes the best comics are the funny ones, but getting jokes across in print while simultaneously telling an engaging story can be tough. Luckily, we have a panel of experts who can tell you their secrets, tips, and a few really good jokes.

Panelists: Rob Guillory (Chew), Kurtis Wiebe (Rat Queens), Roc Upchurch (Rat Queens), Matt Fraction (Sex Criminals), Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals), Jim Zub (Skullkickers), Brandon Graham (Prophet)

Image Comics Presents Crime, Adventure, & Fantasy!
Gunfights, heists, cowboys, hoodlums, magicians, adventurers, aliens, and more: are you not entertained? Image Comics’ varied publishing line has something for everybody. Settle in and listen to the experts discuss creating entertaining stories.

Panelists: Kelly Sue DeConnick (Pretty Deadly), Jason Latour (Southern Bastards), Jason Aaron (Southern Bastards), Joe Keatinge (Shutter), Leila Del Duca (Shutter), Frank Barbiere (Five Ghosts), Joshua Williamson (Ghosted)

Image Comics Presents Building A Better Dystopia
No matter how good we have it, a future where we have nothing has its own thrill. These creators know their way around a dystopia, whether it’s due to mad science, economic factors, or nightmarish alternate dimensions.

Panelists: Nick Pitarra (Manhattan Projects), Greg Rucka (Lazarus), Simon Roy (Prophet), Ed Brisson (Sheltered), Johnnie Christmas (Sheltered)

I was also a surprise guest on Patrick A Reed’s “Hip-Hop & Comics: Cultures Combining” panel. It was a lot of fun. Some details for you:

Hip-Hop & Comics: Cultures Combining
Emerald City Comicon, Seattle WA, March 28, 2014
Presented by Depth Of Field Magazine

Featuring:
Patrick A. Reed
179 and Hops of Few & Far
David Brothers
Matthew Rosenberg
Jim Mahfood

The panel I did with Adam Warren and Brandon Graham was recorded, too, but the video hasn’t surfaced yet. Might end up being a once-in-a-lifetime experience…

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Freak-out Comix: East of West 09

April 1st, 2014 Posted by david brothers

East of West 09 - vizier

Drawn by Nick Dragotta, written by Jonathan Hickman, colored by Frank Martin, lettered by Rus Wooton. East of West 09, 2014. I work for Image.

This panel here is my desktop at work. It’s the Vizier from Dragotta & Hickman’s East of West, a character that has only appeared on a few pages of the series. I sat up and started paying attention as soon as I saw this panel, and it still makes me freak out a little. Black women in comics are rare enough, but ones drawn as well as this…well, Storm never had it so good, you know?

I spend a lot of time chasing that feeling. A comic that makes you freak out over some big move (“Now it’s my turn,” “’tis on,” the end of Top Ten, “thirty-five minutes ago,” “Me? I’m magic,” and so on) is cool, but lately I’ve been getting that feeling more from the little things, like a single panel of a comic that’s just perfect, or the way a character moves across a page. That feeling leads me directly to the feeling you get when you want to talk about something with someone else just to share the joy.

This one made me freak out because it’s drawn so well and perfectly staged. East of West is a good comic, I’m into it, but this felt over and beyond what I was expecting, like finding a hundred dollar bill in a roll of twenties. I like finding things that make me feel stupid, like I don’t even know how to explain why it works as well as it does.

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Emerald City Comicon 2014, 4thletter! Edition

March 24th, 2014 Posted by david brothers

Pardon my promo, but Emerald City Comicon is this weekend, and I’m headed up to Seattle to work it for Image. It’s gonna be pretty busy for me, I think. I’m running the signings at the Image booth and doing the panels, so I figure I’ll be at the con from open to close, running laps around the booth and to the panel rooms and back.

Here’s what I’m moderating and who I’m talking to. You can find a signing schedule here. The booth’s 212.

Image Comics Presents Comedy in Comics
Sometimes the best comics are the funny ones, but getting jokes across in print while simultaneously telling an engaging story can be tough. Luckily, we have a panel of experts who can tell you their secrets, tips, and a few really good jokes.

Program date and time: Friday, March 28, 3:00 p.m. in Room TCC 301

Panelists: Rob Guillory (Chew), Kurtis Wiebe (Rat Queens), Roc Upchurch (Rat Queens), Matt Fraction (Sex Criminals), Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals), Jim Zub (Skullkickers), Brandon Graham (Prophet)

Image Comics Presents Sex Criminals
Sex Criminals debuted in 2013 and quickly became the book of the year. Now, a few months into 2014, the same looks to be true! Sit down with creators Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky and bare your soul, fetishes, and anecdotes with the Sex Criminals.

Program date and time: Saturday, March 29, 2:00 p.m. in Room 3AB

Panelists: Matt Fraction (Sex Criminals), Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals)

Image Comics Presents Crime, Adventure, & Fantasy!
Gunfights, heists, cowboys, hoodlums, magicians, adventurers, aliens, and more: are you not entertained? Image Comics’ varied publishing line has something for everybody. Settle in and listen to the experts discuss creating entertaining stories.

Program date and time: Saturday, March 29, 5:00 p.m. in TCC 301

Panelists: Kelly Sue DeConnick (Pretty Deadly), Jason Latour (Southern Bastards), Jason Aaron (Southern Bastards), Joe Keatinge (Shutter), Leila Del Duca (Shutter), Frank Barbiere (Five Ghosts), Joshua Williamson (Ghosted)

Image Comics Presents Building A Better Dystopia
No matter how good we have it, a future where we have nothing has its own thrill. These creators know their way around a dystopia, whether it’s due to mad science, economic factors, or nightmarish alternate dimensions.

Program date and time: Sunday, March 30, 3:00 p.m. in Room TCC 301

Panelists: Nick Pitarra (Manhattan Projects), Greg Rucka (Lazarus), Richard Starkings (Elephantmen), Simon Roy (Prophet), Ed Brisson (Sheltered), Johnnie Christmas (Sheltered)

On top of that, I’ve got a non-Image panel I’m running on Sunday featuring a couple of cool cats:

Harsh Realm: Adam Warren and Brandon Graham
Room: HALL D (602-603)
Time: 1:40PM – 2:30PM

Adam Warren (Empowered) and Brandon Graham (Prophet) are two creators at the top of their game. The two gather to discuss how they incorporate their influences in their work, creating comics that don’t look like any other comics on the racks, & more!

This is probably my biggest con weekend ever, at least in terms of responsibilities. I should probably quit trying to figure out what I’m gonna wear and start thinking about what I’m going to ask, huh?

Holler if you see me, forgive me when I’m busy.

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My Grandpa’s Stories Can’t Be This Weird

March 18th, 2014 Posted by david brothers

Kazuhiro Urata - Grandpa 01

Kazuhiro Urata - Grandpa 02

Written and drawn by Kazuhiro Urata, adapted by Tania Fukuda, translated by Abby Lehrke. My Grandpa’s Stories Can’t Be This Weird, 2014.

Kazuhiro Urata’s My Grandpa’s Stories Can’t Be This Weird, which runs in the free Manga Box app, is dumb. It’s the same kind of dumb that made Akira Toriyama’s Dr Slump one of my favorite comics. It’s aggressively-but-knowingly dumb, a shaggy dog joke with digressions that are actual jokes instead of distractions.

The hook is almost always the same. There’s a boy who just wants to go to sleep, a grandfather hellbent on reading a story to his grandson, and a storybook that is a wacky version of an established story. The kid reacts to each absurd new element with disbelief until the end, when the story kinda-sorta comes together.

There’s just one main joke here, and the fun is seeing how the joke is twisted into a new form with each new strip. Everything about this excerpt makes me laugh, and it’s just the first three pages. There was one a while back where he replaced all the characters in a fairy tale with murderers, good and bad, that has me ready to cry laughing by the end of page one, and the Red Riding Hood story is a new twist on an old joke with several utterly incredible bits.

There are a few other comics that have that one-joke framework that I like. I was an avid reader of Ryan North’s Dinosaur Comics for years, and ONE & Yusuke Murata’s One-Punch Man has a surprising number of gags based around one punch. (My favorite is a background gag, a bear that got knocked out in the woods.) My Grandpa’s Stories is more steeped in anti-humor than any of those series, but I’m really into it. Reading it is kind of like waiting for the point where a balloon tips over from inflated to burst.

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World Trigger: Teen Teams vs Aliens

March 17th, 2014 Posted by david brothers

daisuke ashihara - world trigger

Created by Daisuke Ashihara, translated by Lillian Olsen, edited by Hope Donovan. World Trigger, 2014.

Daisuke Ashihara’s World Trigger is one of my favorite strips in Weekly Shonen Jump. It’s about teens fighting aliens from a neighboring dimension, and while I thought it was going to be a weirdo analogy for illegal immigration (the organization is BORDER, the aliens are Neighbors), it is actually a great teen team comic. It’s cool like Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game was cool, but with a boys’ manga swagger—swords made of lasers, customizable weapons that fit your temperament, teams of people with diverse interests and personalitys, coolguys saying cool things right before or while things explode, and heroes thinking of their friendships while effortlessly carving up aliens. There’s a sense of danger, but it’s lessened by the fact that the characters are using fake host bodies made of energy, so if you need to—for example—cut off your own leg to kill a monster, then you can do that, and it’s cool instead of horrific. When they ramp up the carnage, it’s like a video game character booping out instead of wall-to-wall gore and viscera.

It’s not Screaming Shonen like Seraph of the End or Attack on Titan, where uncontrollable and annoying levels of rage power the main characters. It’s…Steady Shonen? It has a lot in common with sports manga, where that lone wolf nonsense only goes so far. World Trigger feels very safe, both in style and in plot, but it has a lot of good stuff within that safeness. It feels good, and that’s because the character work is very strong and the jokes are good.

A good example is this page from a recent chapter, where a nerdy girl who belongs to BORDER wears her fandom on her sleeve. Sometimes you don’t need a laser sword to slash a monster…

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“I think I might be pregnant.”

March 13th, 2014 Posted by david brothers

katusuhiro otomo - akira - nurse 01

katusuhiro otomo - akira - nurse 02
Written and drawn by Katsuhiro Otomo, adapted by Jo Duffy, colored by Steve Oliff, lettered by Mike Higgins. Akira, 1988.

I say I like to re-read Akira a few times a year, but the truth is I do that in addition to reading random passages out of it whenever they come to mind. I get something out of it every time I go back to it, and this latest round, spurred by a couple friends reading the book for the first time, is no different.

This scene and its followup are among my favorite bits in the book and a good illustration of both how callous and awful Kaneda is and how good Otomo is at making comics. This time around, I’m looking at the table the school nurse is holding onto for dear life. I like how the table is the only thing keeping her from floating into the air on the first page. She’s into Kaneda and feeling good, until the second page rolls around and the table is the only thing keeping her from collapsing to the ground.

Otomo does a lot with a little.

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Luke Cage, keeping it realer than most

March 12th, 2014 Posted by david brothers

Richard Corben - Cage - fence

Richard Corben, Brian Azzarello, Jose Villarubia. CAGE, 2002.

I re-read this one the other week. It’s one of the comics I got way back when I was getting back into comics, and was probably one of my first Corben comics, too. I hadn’t read it in years, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot since I re-read it. It looks like the last edition debuted in 2002, and the series hasn’t been re-packaged since, which is a shame. The intro to the hardcover, written by Darius Jones, is called “Straight-up Real Nigga,” something I can’t imagine Marvel ever associating with Cage in the here-and-now, but also an idea I’d love to see the character actually be able to deal with in the comics themselves.

Corben and colorist Villarubia put in work on this page, and it’s probably my favorite image of the character. There’s no tiara, no yellow shirt, nothing that screams “This is Luke Cage!”, but it’s still signifying nonetheless. You get the sense that he’s dangerous, he’s mad, and he’s invincible. You can hurt him, you can knock him down, but you don’t get to win. That background Villarubia threw behind him in panel 4 is great, a bloody sunset that follows in Cage’s wake.

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