Thee Comic Column #60 – Joe Hill’s Wraith: Welcome to Christmasland

image courtesy of comicbookrealm.com

Welcome to Christmasland indeed my friends! I don’t know how many of you have read Joe Hill‘s wonderful novel NOS4A2 (which I reviewed earlier in the year here) but if you haven’t and you’re a fan of horror, the supernatural or just gritty, fantastically-tinted adventure it will please your palette to no end. It’s the kind of book that sets up people, places and things that beg to be expanded upon, and now it has!

Thee Comic Column #59: Guns A’ Blazin’!

image courtesy of the examiner

I’m way behind on this one, but when Mike Wellman and Rafael Navarro’s Guns A’ Blazin’! #1 came out at the end of the summer it made a big impression on me and promised to be the first issue in a seriously intriguing story. This book has it all – we start with cowboys, dinosaurs, monsters, and then at some point transition into what appears to be Kirby-esque space epic concepts, but all in a very inoccuous and slow burn kind of set-up that had me seriously asking “What the hell is going on around here?” and if there’s one thing I dig in comics, it’s that feeling – when it’s balanced on the edge of a massive story undertaking like I believe Guns A’ Blazin’! is. But don’t take my word for it – writer Mike Wellman also happens to be co-owner of my favorite Southern California comic shop, The Comic Bug, and recently he allowed me to pick his grey matter about all things blazin’!

Thee Comic Column #58: The Return of Geof Darrow’s Shaolin Cowboy

image courtesy of geek-news.mtv.com

This book is f$%kin’ crazy!!!

Seriously, I was wandering around the best comic shop in Southern California last week, The Comic Bug, and asked co-owner Mike if there was anything new he would recommend. Well, Mike casually put Geof Darrow’s The Shaolin Cowboy No. 1 from Dark Horse in my hands and after glancing through it and falling IN LOVE with the art (something I almost never buy a book based on) I added  it to my pile for check out. Several hours later, after I’d gotten home and clocked through my required reading list (and lately that IDW TMNT has risen almost to the top of that list – but that’s a story for another column) I picked up Shaolin and opened the front cover only to fall head-long into the most insane two-page story prelude f text I’ve ever encountered. I’m not even going to try and describe it here – you’re simply going to have to seek this one out for yourself, it’s that insane.

Thee Comic Column #57: Sandman Overture

image courtesy of www.thecwaustin.com

Last year when Neil Gaiman first announced that he would be returning to Vertigo to pen a new story about The Lord of Dreams I was instantly elated. While it’s true that in 2013 most everyone is a bit burned out on sequels, prequels, spin-offs and the like, Mr. Gaiman’s classic series Sandman – which ran for approximately eight years from 1989 to 1996 –  is a complete epic that, in my mind at least, retains all of the power that it had over me from the first time I read it and remains unsullied by time – a remarkable story that effortlessly weaves the nuances of the beauty, tragedy and triumphs of life into a fable for the ages. Sandman has remained pretty much pure as the driven snow for many of those that have carried it through two subsequent decades since its realization, two decades that have given it time to live and breathe in our hearts and minds.

Thee Comic Column #56: Punisher Fan Film Needs Our Help!

image courtesy of TDCBDMovie.com

A few weeks ago Joup’s Chester Whelks sent me a link to a story that dealt with the ongoing struggle of Mike Pecci’s Punisher fan film titled The Dead Can’t Be Distracted. The deal is basically this: In spite of the fact that we live in an age where fan films can go gone viral and pick up fan acclaim without infringing on property claims – in some cases even influencing the big name companies that own the characters – Marvel has issued a cease a desist order on Mr. Pecci’s film, which by way of the trailer looks just absolutely amazing.

Record Review: Midlake – Antiphon

image courtesy of Midlake.net

The first time I heard Midlake was 2007’s The Trials of Van Occupanther. There was something about the way it so effortless evoked the tone of music from the seventies that both unnerved and impressed me. And let me clarify – it wasn’t simply that songs like Young Bride, Roscoe and Branches emulated the instrumentation or affectations of what I’ve heard on the radio my entire life from that era, it was more the sense that all of those nameless, hazy musical backdrops of my early life – rides in the car, parties at relatives’ houses, grainy television themes – had created this kind of archetypal residue in the foundations of my memories for those early, developmental years and these guys were somehow able to tap directly into those experiences by their choice of chord progressions, vocal melodies and arrangements.

Independent Business Interview Spotlight: The Book Frog’s Indiegogo

Being that I worked as a supervisor/manager in the book retail business for the final five years of a certain ineptly-run major franchise that is now two years out of business (run by clowns. Literally…) I know a thing or two about the way the retail business – especially the book business – has suffered at the hands of online shopping, specifically Amazon.com. That’s a whole different discussion though, so let’s just say that for the purposes of this article I feel it would be wrong to lay all of the blame on the online-mega retailer, even though some of their more aggressive tactics show no mercy, no sportsmanship and dare I say it no interest in maintaining common human decency. The blame does not lay solely on one pair of shoulders. In fact, I believe it’s not entirely a blame-game at all. Technology has changed our lives, our brains and our physical relationship with the world around us. We spend so much of our time submerged to varying degrees in a virtual world that mirrors exactly our physical one (Google maps anyone?) that we are increasingly capable of neglecting even our own minds and bodies. So then is it really any wonder that we have fallen into the habit of neglecting our communities as well? And I’m not just talking about the fact that it seems almost alien to say hello to the people you pass as you walk down the street or to the new neighbors in the apartment across the way. No, here I’m speaking specifically about the institutions that make up the cultural underpinning of our interactions with one another. And when I think of “cultural underpinnings” I immediately think of the bookshop as an almost archetypal facet in that greater tapestry of human culture. Books inform, inspire and entertain us. They educate and mesmerize us. And they help us learn better ways to communicate (notice the root there is the same in community – there’s a reason for that) and share our experiences with one another. This in turn helps the overall human organism grow and thrive.

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