Monday, March 31, 2014

Review -- ETERNAL WARRIOR #7

Eternal Warrior #7

Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Robert Gill
Colors: Guy Major
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Publisher: Valiant
Rating: 4.5/5

Elkin: It was that Italian philosopher George Santayana who said, “Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. 
He also said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of knowledge.
I bring up these two quotes because Greg Pak and Robert Gill's Eternal Warrior #7 resonates with these sentiments. Once again, the 4001 A.D. adventures of Gilad Anni-Padda, the Eternal Warrior, echoes with the Luddites fear of progress, the inevitability of all technology in the hands of man being crafted to kill, and how innocence is subsumed by man's inherent capacity for cruelty.
Yea, I know, it's heavy stuff, but what would you expect in comic that revolves around an eternal WARRIOR? When I reviewed issue #6 of this series I wrote, “Pak writes weariness of character perfectly. Without having to say it, we know the Eternal Warrior has been through all of this before, knows how it will end, and would rather not be part of it.“ This weariness is even more evident in issue 7, but here, now, our hero has a clarity of cause and, though he remembers the past, he once again comes face to face with the tools necessary to repeat it. The only way to save those he loves is to start the cycle of killing again.
Pak gives his character a noble but loathsome purpose. Because of his eternal vigilance, he knows this particular form of eternal recurrence.
But Pak also sprinkles in the possibility of hope – Gilad's granddaughter Caroline. “She thinks the things we humans make can actually make the world a better place,” he ruminates. But then he punctuates it with “She hasn't seen what I've seen.”

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review -- EVERYTHINGNESS by Neil Fitzpatrick

Everythingness

(Neil Fitzpatrick)
There's a movement afoot in modern humor that has begun to use "self-awareness" in lieu of actual cleverness. My sixteen-year-old son is constantly talking about this to the point where I have finally understood, much to my horror, the concept of "the generation gap".
The next step is obviously my certain death.
Everythingness by Neil Fitzpatrick
I mean I get it, right? Humor evolves as each generation embraces their own definition of savvy. When my father would get a twinkle in his eye and giggle "Take my wife ... please," I had to suppress the urge to jam a pencil, point-first, into my ear. I'm also pretty sure that nowadays when I launch into my Kevin Meaney "Big Pants People" routine, my son begins to eye the knives.
Still, I wonder if there is a breakdown in the concept of "humor" when being an asshole to people is the banana peel upon which a generation slips. Then again, funny is as funny does and if it gets you giggling who am I to judge?
Well, I guess I'm just like everyone else, a hairy bag of water who knows exactly what is funny and what isn't.  Let me tell you something. I think a lot of the things my son finds funny just ain't.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Review -- HARBINGER: BLEEDING MONK #0

  • HARBINGER: BLEEDING MONK #0

  • Comic Writer Joshua Dysart
  • Penciller Khari Evans,Mico Suayan,Stephen Segovia,Lew LaRosa
  • Colorist Ian Hannin
  • Letterer Dave Sharpe
  • Publisher Valiant

Off and on, for the last couple of months, I've been reading the recently published biography by J. Michael Lennon, Norman Mailer: A Double Life. I am finally on the final pages, approaching Mailer's death on November 10, 2007, and I just can't finish the book. I have become saturated by the slow degeneration of this once vital, powerful, and strapping genius who, say what you will about his style or politics or moral compass, was a man who, in the parlance of Hunter Thompson, truly stomped on the terra, The penultimate pages of his biography so far have been painful to read. They have me pondering issues of mortality and time and how we spend our lives flitting from experience to experience, idea to idea, passion to passion. It's got me thinking about art and religion and love.
And I can't read the end. I can't bear witness to Mailer's death. The idea of so much energy slowly dissipating and finally falling into the void shivers my sensibilities. I don't have the strength right now to confront it.
Which brings me to, of all places, Valiant Comics' Harbinger: Bleeding Monk #0, a comic that embraces the limits of mortality by entering the mind of one who is immortal.
If you live unstuck from the linear progress of “time,” is your knowledge of the future actually “prophecy”? If you live all moments simultaneously, are you able to influence the outcome of events and become an agent of change? What does omniscience do to your sense of self? Is there even a sense of self in this situation? Without Ego, is wisdom possible? How about morality?
This is the sort of quandary I found myself immersed in while reading Harbinger: Bleeding Monk #0. This book is supposed to be one of those “all-new standalone introduction(s) into the world of Toyo Harada's Harbinger Foundation,” – which it is, don't get me wrong, but it's also a meditation on the larger issues of human existence and our relationship with our construct of time. The narrative takes the form of a third-person address that derives its source from a first-person perspective, forcing the reader to wrestle with the implications of the second-person personal pronoun “You”. The Bleeding Monk is addressing the reader directly while talking about himself, convoluting the interaction between reader and text in a fundamentally profound and electrically charged way.
Writer Joshua Dysart forces this issue further by having three narratives existing ostensibly in the past, present, and future, but indicating that all these events are occurring simultaneously, with the Monk (and the “you”) experiencing them together. Dysart forces the reader to bend his or her conceptions of the temporal and the self while “revealing” the “origin” of the main character.
In less adroit hands this conceit would bend in on itself and be rendered incomprehensible. In the hands of Dysart, though, Harbinger: Bleeding Monk #0 reads effortlessly, as if just another super-hero comic on the shelves.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Review -- UNITY #5

UNITY #5
  • Writer: Matt Kindt
  • Artist: CAFU
  • Colorist: Brian Reber
  • Letterer: Dave Sharpe
  • Publisher: Valiant Comics
  • Rating: 4/5 stars


I need you to get the …. Team together.
And we're off – Unity is Valiant's team book and writer Matt Kindt seems to be using issue five as a meditation on the team genre itself. Sure, we've got a narrative at work here, and I'll get to that in a moment, but where this book stomps hardest is within the realm of relationships and the concept of … well ... unity. Kindt understands that most human connections are based on selfish motivations – the idea of “what can this person bring to my life that otherwise I couldn't gain on my own” – and the unabashed embrace of this fundamentally self-serving reality leads to a clearer understanding of the parameters of interactions than cloy and vague abstractions such as “friendship” or “love” or “family”. When we are assured of the role we play in the synergy with others, a clarity ensues and, perhaps, a greater trust is formed.
At least you understand where everyone is coming from.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Elefante.

ELEFANTE from Pablo Larcuen on Vimeo.

Many, many years ago I started writing a children's book called Tommy Tuskface.
It was about the perfect little boy who one day woke up with tusks. I think there was a baby elephant at the zoo who had lost his tusks.
It may have been a love story.
It may have been a warning to children about being too "perfect".
Needless to say, I never finished it.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Review -- VRECKLESS VRESTLERS #0

Vreckless Vrestlers #0

(Lukasz Kowalczuk)

Rating: ALL THE STARS EVER

Vreckless Vrestlers is a cathartic explosive shit-storm of crazy-ass gibberish wah-hoolery that satisfies the lizard brain in a way that defies easy explanation.  It's like you suddenly stumbled into Wrestlemania after ingesting a sandwich bag full of blotter acid and somebody asks if you remember Chris Benoit's contributions to the American Heart Foundation while a mash-up of Hulk Hogan and Dave Batista's titan tron themes play at ear bleeding decibels and yet somehow the whole thing catapults you into a tag-team match against Heath Slater and Damien Sandow and your partner is RVD.
No wait... it's not like that at all. It's more like if that Ultimate Muscle cartoon was drawn by Alex Chiu and written by my 98 year old grandma when she was drunk on Manischewitz. It's as ugly as it is awesome and so worth your time.
According to the inside front cover scrawl, Vreckless Vrestlers is about a “professional interdimensional wrestling league with a single obliging rule – NO RULES APPLY.” Especially if those rules include narrative coherence – because that certainly doesn't apply. Which is AS IT SHOULD BE!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review -- ROBOCHUCK #1

RoboChuck #1

(Chris Callahan)

This may be a strange way to review a digital comic, but I'm more fascinated by my reaction to RoboChuck #1 then to the comic itself, and it is my reaction to it that focuses my critical eye towards it.
If that made any sense...
RoboChuck
Chris Callahan's RoboChuck is relatively unremarkable as a comic, though it has its charms as well as its moments. Where its true value lies, at least for me, is in the crossroad where intention and ability intersect.
RoboChuck is, apparently, Callahan's first comic and he came to the medium by way of having an idea too large and expensive for film, which was followed by a chance exposure to a panel at Comic-Con on Creator-Owned properties. Armed with a script and a background in Art Direction and Motion Graphics, Callahan got to work – the result beingRoboChuck. The next step was reaching an audience. With a bit of marketing savvy combined with Comixology's Submit portal, Callahan, along with any and all independent creators, has a platform to potentially reach an enormous number of people.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Docubolic Hypermentaries -- PIG BOMB

Full of tension inducing music, quick editing cuts, repeated stock footage, slow motion dramatic recreations, voiced-over rhetorical questions – these are the films of our times. The airwaves and internet are awash in these over-the-top, end-of-the-world, hyperbolic documentaries – The Docubolic Hypermentary – surely we are moments from the Apocalypse. Propped up by a steady diet of Gin Rickeys, one man tries to make sense of it all. Here is that man. This is his story.
Pig Bomb cover
Mmmmmmm ….. bacon.
2009′s Pig Bomb raises the question of whether in the not-too-distant future our planet will be overrun by a swarming army of giant, brutal, wild pigs whose sole purpose is to undermine all of mankind’s greatest achievements.
It is, in fact, a Docubolic Hypermentary, and it is a work of art. From concept to execution, this thing has it all.
Pig Bomb Big Norm
Twenty seconds into this film and geeky fan favorite voice actor Peter Jessop (whose work has been featured in animated features the likes of JLA and The Avengers, as well as popular video games such as World of Warcraft,Skyrim, and Mass Effect 2) intones in his basso profondo, languidly hyperbolic manner, “Wild Pigs, they may be the most destructive animal in America …” and BOOM, we’re off to the races. Fifteen seconds later, Jessop asks “How long will it be before we see super-sized pigs?” adding the right level of paranoia and fear-mongering to snap your attention.
Then, when only forty-three seconds of film has passed, Jessop adamantly declares, “The Pig Bomb has gone off.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Trailer -- VISITORS

VISITORS Official Trailer from Cinedigm Online Screening Room on Vimeo.

Thirty years after "Koyaanisqatsi," Godfrey Reggio—with the support of Philip Glass and Jon Kane—once again leapfrogs over earthbound filmmakers and creates another stunning, wordless portrait of modern life. Presented by Steven Soderbergh in stunning black and white 4K digital projection, "Visitors" reveals humanity's trancelike relationship with technology, which, when commandeered by extreme emotional states, produces massive effects far beyond the human species. The film is visceral, offering the audience an experience beyond information about the moment in which we live. Comprised of only seventy-four shots, "Visitors" takes viewers on a journey to the moon and back to confront them with themselves. A Cinedigm release coming soon to theaters.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Review -- QUANTUM AND WOODY: GOAT #0

Quantum and Woody: Goat #0

(James Asmus / Tom Fowler / Allen Passalaqua / Matt Milla / Dave Lanphear; Valiant)
4 stars
A better reviewer than I would probably spend the first half of a review of Quantum and Woody: Goat #0 talking about the storied history of the goat and what the return of Tom Fowler means to this series, but I'll freely admit that I'm tootired lazy uninterested  much of a professional to do the 15 minute internet search it would take to ground myself in the goat background and/or familiarize myself with who Tom Fowler is in the first place and then cleverly pass this information off as if I knew it all along.
Quantum and Woody: Goat
Rather, I'm diving into the turbulent waters of this book wearing nothing but a Speedo made of muffins and my lack of better judgment to see if I will sink or swim in what Valiant is passing off as “excitement and laughs and all that!
Wait.. did I just write “Speedo made of muffins”?  Blame it on the goat.
Because this ain't no quotidian goat.
Once again, Valiant has released a Zero Issue full of fun and creativity and great art and sweet dialogue and a fast pace and lollipops and ice-cream cones (well, maybe not the lollipops). Quantum and Woody: Goat #0 is full of one-liners and zingers and puns and visual gags and Carl Sagan. This is no thick Russian novel or grand Grecian monomyth –Goat #0 is a shaggy dog story devoid of the tediousness of such a tale, substituting a goat for the dog and leaving you with a smile on your face.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Review -- BLACK IS THE COLOR by Julia Gfrörer

Black is the Color undulates like the ocean in your nightmares – the swells providing a rhythmic back-beat to all the subconscious horrors your brain amasses during the day – telling you something you know but can't actually face, quietly reminding you of your mortality, your isolation, and the inevitable sense of loss all things eventually breed. While dragging its fingers softly across your lips to comfort, it confronts you with the stark truth that everyone and everything is eventuality subsumed into the darkness.
Black is the Color
Julia Gfrörer has been creating comics like this for awhile now, but with Black is the Color she takes her bleak sensibilities and layers them into a seafaring tale that plays with your sense of time as much as your sense of self. Ostensibly, Black is the Color is about a 17th century sailor, Warren, who is cast off by his shipmates because their voyage has gone awry, their resources dwindled, and the greater good must be thought of first. As Warren floats in the vastness of Gfrörer's cross-hatched ocean, he is tempted by and succumbs to both the romantic advances of a mermaid and warm embrace of a quiet death. As he sits in the dinghy, Warren reflects on his place in the world through the connections he has made in his life. He has abandoned both his wife on shore and his lover on the ship and, by his parting, echoes the gulf that always exists between people, even those that we love the most. In the end, Gfrörer's character is released and his essence returns to the void, black and dispersed.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

T Rex - 20th Century Boy

Oow 
 Friends say it's fine, 
friends say it's good 
Ev'rybody says it's just like Robin Hood 
I move like a cat, 
charge like a ram 
like a bee, babe 
I wanna be your man 
Well it's plain to see you were meant for me, 
yeah I'm your boy, 
your 20th century toy 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Interview: New Zealand Comics Creators THE SHEEHAN BROTHERS

The Sheehan Brothers:"I’d like for us to make the kind of work that inspires people to make their own work."

New Zealand has a vibrant comics scene. As a torchbearer, the folks at 3 Bad Monkeys Press have been publishing a bianual anthology called Faction highlighting some of the best Kiwi creators around. In issue 2, one of the comics featured was A Day at the Races by The Sheehan Brothers. It's an amazing piece of comics craft and it led me down the internet rabbit hole of wanting to know more about who The Sheehan Brothers were and what else they have created. The Brothers were kind enough to hook me up with their series The Inhabitants, the reading of which was a transformative experience for me and left me still wanting to know more. Kelly and Darren Sheehan agreed to talk we with me about their backgrounds, The Inhabitants, the power of influences, and what creating comics means to them.


Sheehan Brothers

Daniel Elkin for Comics Bulletin: Before we start getting into the themes and the processes behind The Inhabitants, let's let you introduce yourselves. Who are the Sheehan Brothers and what sparked you guys to start creating comics?
Kelly: I’m the eldest brother in a family with four siblings. Darren is just below me in the pecking order. We also have an older sister and a younger brother. We both live in Auckland, New Zealand.
I’m 44, work at the Auckland Central Library and am married to Sinead Mohally with whom I share a son, Seamus, who is six years old.
We’ve been making comics since around 1996/97. The process was sparked by Darren’s letters to me when he was traveling overseas. On most of them there were cool little psychedelic sketches which I found quite inspiring. I ended up sitting down one day and writing a script titled ‘The Long Man’ and sending it off to Darren. We have probably averaged about one comic a year since then.
Darren: I live in Auckland with my wife Fran and our son Finn. My day job is a Gallery Technician at the Auckland Art Gallery.
The Long Man title came from a tattoo in Hindi script, worn, in fact, by a long gentleman from Canada. He had acquired it on his travels. He was in residence in a backpacker's hostel I worked at in Galway Ireland for a while.
While I was traveling around, buses /trains /ferries etc, I was filling sketchbooks. So, I had some sketches worked out when I returned home and we knocked out the first issue of the Longman. The first one was published while Kelly was traveling in India and Nepal. It ended up being 5 issues, a black and white silent (as was the fashion of the time) comic. Kelly has since described it as a dub fairy tale. I have always liked that description.
Kelly: I seem to remember Darren telling me that said Canadian backpacker had ridden a motorcycle on the wall of death of an Indian circus, but maybe my memory is playing tricks on me. If it’s not true it should be.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Review -- BLOODSHOT AND H.A.R.D. CORPS #0

Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps #0

(Christos Gage / Joshua Dysart / Valentine De Landro / Joseph Cooper / John Livesay / ChrisCross, Victor Olazaba / Ian Hannin / Dave Sharpe; Valiant)
4.5 stars
This zero issue serves as a sort of exposition explaining the history of the Valiant super hero team H.A.R.D. Corps. What Gage and Dysart produce, though, is an amazingly human story. They try to explain the hero in the concept, and, by doing so, speak to the heart of what it means to be alive. It's a story of intention marred by ambition, idealism sublimated by greed, humanity warped by ego – it's a surprisingly quiet, moving, and intense read from a book I expected to be full of guns a'blazing (though there are those here too).
Bloodshot and the HARD Corps #1

The book is divided into decades as it follows the progression of the H.A.R.D. Corps program from its start during the Vietnam conflict to the 1990's when the program was decommissioned. H.A.R.D. Corps has always been military in intent, fostered by technology and patriotism – as time progressed and this story unfolds, though, the concept started to become more important than any ideals it once defined. In the process, over the course of these years, it is the human beings caught in its grasp that ultimately pay the price for being part of it.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Poets You Should Know -- Danusha Laméris

I was introduced to Danusha Lameris through the outstanding Saturday Poetry Series on the site, As It Ought To Be.

Danusha Laméris’s work has been published in Alaska Quarterly ReviewPoetry NorthwestRattleThe Sun and Crab Orchard Review as well as in a variety of other journals. Her poems have also appeared in the anthologies In a Fine Frenzy: Poets Respond to ShakespeareA Bird Black as the Sun: California Poets on Crows and Ravens, and Intimate Kisses. She was a finalist for the 2010 and 2012 New Letters Prize in poetry and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poem, “Riding Bareback,” won the 2013 Morton Marcus Memorial prize in poetry, selected by Gary Young and her first book, The Moons of August, was chosen by Naomi Shihab Nye as the winner of the Autumn House Press poetry contest. She lives in Santa Cruz, California and teaches an ongoing poetry workshop.

Check out 3 of her poems from her collection The Moons of August on As It Ought To Be by clicking --- HERE ---