Jun 192013
 

Love and Capes: What to Expect #4I thought I’d post an update (from the February entry) on noteworthy comics I’ve been reading lately. While I’m still reading the same books from February, here’s a few others to add…

DC digital comics

While I bailed on the “New 52″ a long time ago, I do still read DC’s non-canonical comics, including their digital line. Titles I’m reading include:

  • Adventures of Superman: Stories featuring Superman in an anthology format with rotating writers. No “emo” Clark, Lois is present and a story focus, and Clark has his “real” costume, complete with shorts. While Orson Scott Card almost derailed this series, he ultimately was given the heave-ho before it began. If you’re dissatisfied with the “New 52″ (or “Man of Steel“) and want the “real” Superman back, this is the current DC title you want. “Smallville: Season 11,” another digital title, fits too. However, since I’m not a “Smallville” fan, I haven’t read it. Others online have praised “Season 11,” though, so fans of the show might want to look at this comic.
  • Batman: Li’l Gotham: All-ages stories featuring the adventures of various members of the Batman family, particularly Damian (still alive here). Other members appearing range from Nightwing to Barbara Gordon (as Oracle, complete with wheelchair). The stories tend toward being light-hearted—not quite “Tiny Titans,” but moreso than even the DC Animated Universe material, though the latter seems to influence this series’ cast (Roxy Rocket appeared in one story). Each issue also revolves around a specific holiday. The most recent issue focused on Father’s Day, where an attempt by Barbara and Commissioner Gordon to go out for dinner goes wrong…but not as wrong as the Bat-family trying to cook for Alfred.

Vertigo

  • Astro City: Kurt Busiek’s “Astro City” is back in a new series, released under the Vertigo banner.

Marvel

  • Big Hero 6: Brave New Heroes: A trade paperback of a late 2000s miniseries featuring Big Hero 6, a Japanese superhero team. The story was fun, if somewhat weird.

Archie

Archie titles I’ve mostly been reading include:

  • Jughead Double Digest
  • Betty and Veronica Double Digest: Sabrina the Teenage Witch stories are usually reprinted here.
  • Life With Archie
  • Kevin Keller
  • Sabrina, the Magic Within: A black-and-white manga paperback-sized compilation of the manga “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” run. Now up to volume two (of four). A fun read; the series also eventually puts Sabrina into more dramatic than usual storylines.
  • New Crusaders: While the ongoing series was scaled back to a six-issue run, the revival of Archie’s “Red Circle” superheroes was enjoyable. A new follow-up series is due in 2014.

Independents/Other

  • Love and Capes: What to Expect: The trade paperback compiling the most recent “Love and Capes” miniseries, as Mark and Abby prepare for the birth of their first child. A fun storyline, as some of the aspects of superheroes having kids are dealt with (or parodied).
  • Comic Book: History of Comics: A miniseries collected into a trade paperback, covering various aspects of the history of American comic books: “Seduction of the Innocent,” the rise of Marvel (and its treatment of Jack Kirby), the development of Superman by Siegel and Shuster, etc. There’s even a section on Japanese manga. An excellent book! My only nitpick is the final few pages on comics’ future options including the direct market. As far as print trade paperbacks are concerned, the book doesn’t seem to mention the options of  merely ordering them from Amazon.com, or even buying them at a “real” bookstore (locally owned or Barnes and Noble). Said sources are much more convenient or easier to find (or even cheaper) for many than specialty comic book shops. No disregard meant toward the better-run comic book stores, of course. For single-issue paper comics, on the other hand, physical comic shops are the best place to buy them, of course.
  • Atomic Robo: A series of comics about the “action science” adventures of Atomic Robo, a sentient robot built by Tesla in the 1920s. Robo tends to find himself dealing with all manner of bizarre threats, including some that make no sense scientifically (as Robo will often criticize). One such example is one recurring villain, the unscientific-sounding-but-hilarious “Dr. Dinosaur,” a sentient featherless velociraptor of some sort (yes, Robo rips into Dr. Dinosaur’s lack of plumage, etc. too).

 

Apr 282013
 
Burt Ward at C2E2 2013

Burt Ward, at the 60s Batman TV show panel.

I’ve finished attending yet another C2E2 comic-con in Chicago. Here’s a summary of my experiences at this year’s show:

The line this year to get in was long as usual. For some reason, I didn’t see a ton of costumes while in line, though two guys near me were dressed as (in their words) “Batman cosplaying as Superman” and “Spider-Man cosplaying as Captain America.” The Batman/Superman guy had apparently heard of the Composite Superman when I mentioned to him that minor villain.

Of course, once in the show there were a lot more costumes; among the others:

  • The X-Men
  • Quail-Man (from the 90s Nickelodeon cartoon “Doug”)
  • A headless woman in a wedding dress (complete with fake blood)
  • Some warriors in costumes made entirely out of old beer cans and beer carton boxes
  • Captain Marvel (the Marvel/Carol Danvers version)
  • The Scarlet Witch
  • Starro
  • Captain Marvel (the “real” one, though given DC’s current treatment of “Shazam,” I’d argue otherwise…)
  • Black Adam
  • Captain America
  • Aquaman
  • Cable
  • Iron Fist
  • Green Arrow
  • Superman
  • The main cast of the TV “Young Justice” cartoon
  • A man dressed as Black Canary
  • Jesus Christ (two of them!)
  • Multiple people dressed as the Doctor from Doctor Who, including the modern version of the Doctor (lots of bow ties at the show), as well as the Fifth Doctor (whose actor was appearing at C2E2).

The only panel I really got to attend was seeing part of the 60s Batman TV show panel. Burt Ward and Julie Newmar were there, describing their experiences on the show to the audience. However, Adam West due to an injury wasn’t able to attend. I also tried to go to the Marvel panel, but I got turned away; the panel room was completely full. So full they also had to turn away others that were still waiting in line…

While I didn’t get to see Svengoolie, I did get to see some writers/artists in Artists’ Alley. I spoke with Thom Zahler (of “Love and Capes“), who I asked a few questions about his most recent trade paperback, “What to Expect.” While I’m not a “brony,” I also asked a few questions about his work on the current “My Little Pony” comic. I also congratulated him on his recent engagement announcement.

Another artist I got to see was Joe Staton, a long-time artist who drew one of my favorite superhero stories, the origin of the Justice Society in 1977′s “DC Special” #29. However, I left my copy of such at home, so instead I bought from him a recent Archie trade paperback that he’d drawn (which he also signed).

I also met Yale Stewart, the writer/artist of the webcomic “JL8,” about the Justice Leaguers as grade-schoolers. I asked him about the name change for his strip; originally it was called “Little League,” but changed due to the baseball organization’s protesting.

Finally, I bought the usual comic-con knick-knacks, including a bobblehead of Darth Vader. I did buy some comics as well, including: the first black-and-white reprint volume of the “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” manga run;  a few issues of “Aw Yeah” comics (an independent effort from the creators of “Tiny Titans”); and a volume of the indie series “Princeless” (praised on the blog Comics Worth Reading). However, I haven’t bought as big a pile of comics as usual. Reasons why include: having filled in many of my desired back issues or not finding what I wanted; a switch to buying mostly digital comics; and that C2E2 for some reason seems to have way fewer DC trade paperbacks for sale versus Marvel material.

Speaking of DC/Marvel, DC didn’t have a booth at this year’s show, for unexplained reasons (DC apparently refuses to state why). I’ve seen some suggest the cost of renting floor space at McCormick Place as why the no-show. (Bleeding Cool suggests a lack of a booth might also be to either save on set-up and take-down costs or to avoid people asking too many questions about DC’s embarrassing spate of recent decisions.) However, if said rumors are true, it’d sound quite odd for one of the two dominant comic companies to skip one of the midwest’s biggest comic-cons. DC did still hold panels at least, but that’s not fully the same as actual floor space, which Marvel’s booth took up plenty of (and prominently featured near the entrance). Since marketing’s a reason for comic creators appearing at comic-cons, and since DC supposedly wants to promote the “New 52″ and all its current New 52-ness (Superman/Wonder Woman pairings, Clark Kent “fighting the power” as a blogger, and all), not having a floor booth at a major midwestern show sounds odd from a marketing standpoint. With a major Superman movie due out in a few months that parent company Time-Warner’s hanging all its future movie hopes on, I’m not sure any cost-savings (even at McCormick Place prices) is worthwhile. Meanwhile, Marvel definitely hyped up “Iron Man 3″ at its booth, and even offered promotional material tying into “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which isn’t due until 2015.

However, given my dislike of the “New 52,” I guess I can’t say I’m too disappointed. Despite being a fan of DC’s characters, most of what I was interested in at this year’s show were from smaller-press companies, Marvel, or independents…

Overall, I had fun at this year’s show, even if I only went down for one day. Staying overnight in Chicago instead of going straight back to Milwaukee, however, lessened feeling “rushed” like I did last year.

Finally, here’s the photos I took of this year’s show:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mechanikat/sets/72157633373465090/with/8690559456/

Mar 052013
 

As those of you who’ve followed me on Twitter might recall, I’ve won a Twitter contest held by “Love and Capes” cartoonist Thom Zahler. The prize? A free T-shirt featuring the comic’s stars, plus a drawing of one of the characters (Mark as the Crusader)! Thanks, Mr. Zahler…

Here’s a shot of each:

Despite having bought plenty of comics, this is the first comic artwork I’ve ever owned. I might consider obtaining more in the future; my current apartment decor could use the improvement.

Dec 302012
 

Life With Archie #16Since it’s time for “end of 2012″ lists aplenty, I thought I’d get in as well. And since everything seems to be couched in “best of”/”worst of” lists, I’ll go that route as well. So let’s start off with a look back at the best and the worst of comics over the past year.

Best

  • The wedding of the adult Kevin Keller in “Life With Archie” selling out, as well as One Million Mom’s boycott of “Toys R Us” for carrying the issue backfiring hard. 
  • Similarly, the wedding of Northstar in the “X-Men” comics.
  • “Batwoman” winning a GLAAD award.
  • The present-day Kevin Keller’s own comic, which continued to be entertaining.
  • “Reed Gunther,” a fun Western/light-horror comic. Unfortunately, it’s been canceled.
  • DC Comics selling same-day digital comics through the Nook and Kindle stores. A move away from Comixology’s digital monopoly and their heavily DRMed comics model is a good thing. (Yes, the Nook/Kindle books are still DRMed, but at least they’re actual files one can remove the DRM on and back up…)
  • The 2012 C2E2 show in Chicago. Still fun, even if I could only spend a single day there.
  • Another “Love and Capes” series!
  • “Superman Family Adventures,” the one DC book I’m still reading (unless waiting for the trade paperback for Morrison’s “Action” run counts).
  • Archie’s “New Crusaders” has been enjoyable.
  • Dan Slott’s run on “Amazing Spider-Man,” and Brian Michael Bendis’ run on Miles Morales’ title.

Worst

  • The “Star Trek/Legion of Superheroes” miniseries. Dragged out plotline + my existing dislike of Q (even if he apparently got rather easily captured by Fred Flintstone’s evil cousin, a.k.a. Vandal Savage) + the predictable “reset button” ending rendering it all even more pointless = “hoped that Star Trek/Dr. Who crossover did better with Who fans.” Still, at least this series acknowledged the Kal-El Superboy was a Legionnaire.
  • The shutdown of Graphicly, with the promise of keeping their comics servers up for those that bought books through them…for now, anyway. A big reason I don’t like the Comixology digital model of (basically) paying full price for what amounts to renting comics long-term, as long as the company stays in business/with files tied strongly to a proprietary app. I can only hope the recent move by DC to sell their books as actual digital files via Kindle and Nook stores means Comixology’s glorified-rental model won’t last, and that some changes are in store.
  • The Meaning of Lila” ended its newspaper run. I’m currently reading the strip’s reruns on GoComics.com.
  • DC Comics overall is definitely on this list. Long story short, the “New 52″ reboot bites, and I still wish DC had different, more progressive-minded leadership as a company. To wit:
    • The cancellations of Mister Terrific and Static’s books. As troubled as they were, they could’ve at least tried to keep them around a bit longer, or clear up their writing/editing situations. Instead, they’re both axed to make room for Yet Another Batman-related Book, among other things.
    • DC’s ugly new “Peel” logo.
    • Captain Marvel is now called “Shazam“… and Billy Batson’s been turned into some obnoxious, rude brat.
    • “Watchmen” prequels nobody wanted or needed, despite the otherwise excellent staff involved in producing them.
    • Re-introducing the “New 52″ Earth-2 Alan Scott as gay is OK, albeit at the expense of his now-nonexistent gay son Obsidian, since they’ve also de-aged Alan into his 20s like the rest of the characters in “New 52″ line. (Even Bronze Age DC’s timeline with Superman being 29 wasn’t as extreme as the take in the “New 52″—the JSAers were allowed to age!) However, what happened to Alan’s better half—being killed off right after being introduced—puts this on the “worst” list.
    • Superman being written out-of-character. Clark Kent should never say the words “booty call,” DC. And the “Little Abner” “early days” costume is still dumb.
    • Lois’ treatment in the “New 52″ is still lousy. Given they have a major movie coming out starring, among others, Lois, can’t see DC keeping this up through 2013 (Superman’s 75th anniversary)… then again, this is DC…
    • The Superman-Wonder Woman romance. Bad fanfic/fanboy fantasy ideas given the “green light?” Um, no. Again, “major Superman movie out in 2013″ (see Lois above)…
    • Plenty more I’ve probably missed, but it’s probably easier to read this blogger’s post about DC this year, which sums things up pretty well.

As lousy as the worst of the above could be, the best of comics this year, as always, will leave a much better impression of the medium. I look forward to seeing what 2013 has in store for comics!

 

Dec 162012
 

Love and Capes: What to Expect TPBHere’s what’s of interest from various comics companies for March 2013.

IDW

Full solicitations available here.

  • Popeye #11, $4
  • Popeye TPB, vol. 2, $N/A
  • Love and Capes: What to Expect TPB, $N/A

Boom Studios

Full solicitations available here.

  • Garfield #11, $4
  • Garfield vol. 2 TPB, $14
  • Peanuts #7, $4

Comic strips

None.

Comments

“Love and Capes: What to Expect” finally comes out with its trade paperback this month! Since my local comic shop didn’t carry the miniseries (plus I’m shifting to trade paperbacks—preferably digital, though paper’s also acceptable), I’m looking forward to this volume.

Cartoonist Fred Hembeck’s done the cover to this month’s “Garfield,” whose story is a superhero parody (based on the “Pet Force” direct-to-DVD movie).

Also of interest are the covers to this month’s “Peanuts,” both of which feature Franklin. I like the sight gag with Franklin and Linus!

 

Apr 172012
 

Not had anything new to add to the “cartoon collectibles” series of posts in quite awhile, but I thought I’d add photos of some of the merchandise I bought at this year’s C2E2.

"Love and Capes" pin

The above is a “Love and Capes” pin bought from Thom Zahler at his artists’ alley booth. Zahler also offers L&C lanyards, but didn’t have any with him at the time. (Would’ve made for interesting neckwear for my work ID badge…)

Superman vinyl figurine (front)

The above’s a photo of a Superman vinyl figurine (made by Funko, the people that made the Star Wars bobbleheads I also own). For some reason, while Funko’s Marvel figures are bobbleheads, their DC line are ordinary non-bobble figures. Go…figure.

Android figurine (front)

And finally, this is the Android robot figurine I also obtained. Cute, plus the arms are adjustable!

Feb 142012
 

For the updated version of this post, see here.

Once again, it’s Valentine’s Day.

On topic for the blog, I don’t have much to delve into, but I’ll give it a go:

Animated specials

Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown

There’s no one “definitive” Valentine’s Day special, but an entertaining one is “Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown,” the 1975 “Peanuts” special about how Valentine’s Day equals (in true “Peanuts” fashion) unrequited love for everyone in the cast.

On TV: ABC since the early 2000s has rerun this special each year, usually paired up with a more recent Valentine’s Day special to fill out an hour, 2002′s “A Charlie Brown Valentine.”

On DVD: This special’s on several DVD releases, including a stand-alone release (coupled with late 60s special “You’re In Love, Charlie Brown” and 70s special “It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown”) and on the “Peanuts: 1970s Collection, Volume 2″ DVD set. For the former, you’ll be getting two strong specials and one weak one (“It’s Your First Kiss”), while the latter includes “It’s Your First Kiss” and several other specials typical of the mid-to-late 70s run.

Here Comes Peter Cottontail

I wrote about this one in a 2008 Valentine’s Day post. While an Easter special, this Rankin-Bass classic involves time-travel to other holidays, including a scene (and song number) set on Valentine’s Day. I appreciate that Rankin-Bass remembered that February 14 is very much cold weather (snow, etc.) in a good chunk of the country, versus most media (probably a result of Hollywood’s southern California influence) treating it like it’s a warm spring day.

The Simpsons

(Update: 2/14/13) Yes, I should’ve included this one a long time ago. The fourth season episode “I Love Lisa” centers around Valentine’s Day, Simpsons-style, from KBBL playing “Monster Mash” by mistake to Bart triggering a Valentine’s-themed Vietnam flashback for Principal Skinner (“cool, I broke his brain!”). For good measure, we also get President’s Day (and another playing of “Monster Mash” by KBBL… “doggone it!”). And of course, probably the best episode featuring Ralph Wiggum, who has a crush on Lisa after she’s the only one in the class to give him a valentine out of pity.

Comics

Love and Capes” creator Thom Zahler has a special mini-comic available as a downloadable PDF for free for this year’s Valentine’s Day. (Update (2/13/13): no free comic at the link, but a nice 2012 interview with Zahler anyway.)

Technology

Google has a special “Google Doodle” for today that’s a cute animated short (with or without Tony Bennett’s music). It also manages to be gay-inclusive (as part of a brief montage).

Jul 072011
 

TDarkbladehis week’s entry comes from the world of independent comics, though still involves the superhero genre. Darkblade (real name: Paul LaCroix) is an African-American superhero who appears in Thom Zahler’s “Love and Capes,” a “romantic comedy”-styled superhero series. Darkblade first appeared in “Love and Capes” #1. (Some SPOILERS below…)

Darkblade acts as the series’ Batman-analogue, occupying the same non-superpowered-but-highly-skilled “creature of the night” niche that Bats does. Also like Batman, Darkblade’s alter-ego is a millionaire playboy/corporate executive named Paul LeCroix. Similar to Batman and Superman’s friendship, Paul’s best friend is Mark, a.k.a. “the Crusader,” the series’ Superman-analogue. Paul’s also friends with Abby’s younger sister (and Mark’s sister-in-law) Charlotte.

Over the course of the original series, as well as in the recent “Love and Capes: Ever After” miniseries, we learn more about Paul’s past. Paul apparently once had a Tony Stark-like out-of-control playboy nature, prompting his father to have Paul kidnapped by warrior monks (yep, you read that correctly) and put through training/reform, causing some consternation between the two. Paul’s also apparently a legacy hero, as he’s not the first Darkblade.

Paul shares the same dedication to superheroics as his friend Mark; he also has a sarcastic sense of humor. Paul’s moneyed background also seems to influence some of  his actions and views, such as giving Mark and Abby an “inexpensive” housewarming present of a fancy home entertainment system.

Darkblade, along with the Crusader, is a member of the “Liberty League” (read: Justice League of America) alongside Amazonia. Amazonia is the series’ Wonder Woman stand-in and former girlfriend of Mark. Later in the series’ run, Amazonia begins to date Darkblade, leading to some humorous (and character developing) moments for both.

While the recent miniseries has ended, I’ll assume we’ve not seen the last of Darkblade (nor his friends Mark and Abby).

Jun 262011
 

Love and Capes: Ever After #5Love and Capes: Ever After #4Love and Capes: Ever After #4, #5

Written by: Thom Zahler
Art by: Thom Zahler

Yes, I’m a bit late reviewing this one versus the first three installments, but better late than never (yes, SPOILERS)…

These two issues wrap up the miniseries (and, for now, this cast of characters) in the same enjoyable manner as the other books. Issue #4 sees two stressful moments for our heroes: Amazonia meeting Darkblade’s parents, and Mark and Abby dealing with tax time. We get to see more characterization and backstory given for Paul, who apparently behaved more like Tony Stark than Bruce Wayne in his youth (plus his father’s way of resolving such being a plot point). Mark, meanwhile, is particularly stressed out by tax time this year, which cues some amusing moments, most of them involving the upsides and downsides of super-speed.

Issue #5, although it has some comedic moments, is much more serious in tone, as the cast deals with the death of a fellow hero, Windstar. The usual cliches about superhero deaths are addressed (such as a scene where the heroes examine Windstar’s body to ensure he’s not a robot, clone, alternate-universe counterpart, etc.). In a change from the previous issues’ focus on Darkblade, Windstar gets more focus, as we learn about his background and family, both in the present and through flashbacks. Other characters get some focus as well, as we see Charlotte’s graduation from art school and Jason’s plans to make a student film. Finally, the story ends with Mark and Abby in a surprising (but for these two, logical) development.

And that’s all for now. When I talked to Mr. Zahler at his booth at this year’s C2E2, he noted he was working on ideas for a possible new series. I look forward to seeing what he comes up with…

Apr 112011
 

Love and Capes: Ever After #3Love and Capes: Ever After #3 (of 5)

Written by: Thom Zahler
Art by: Thom Zahler

In the third installment of this five-issue miniseries, we see Abby and Mark attend Abby’s high school reunion. Meanwhile, Amazonia, Darkblade and Charlotte all reconcile their current (and former) relationship and friendship statuses with each other.

Another enjoyable issue. Like the previous issue, this issue contains more development of Darkblade’s background, including a few revelations about his past (apparently he was more Tony Stark than Bruce Wayne). I also thought it was amusing to see what “housewarming gifts” Darkblade and Amazonia gave Mark and Abby.

Yes, the two main stars of the book got their moments as well… “life-affirming epiphany,” heh. (Between that and the 90s references, I assume Abby’s 28 or 33?). I might’ve related more to a few of the high school reunion moments if I’d ever been to one (my high school class hasn’t held one yet, as far as I know of), or if I had more about high school to be nostalgic about…

Finally, I wonder if what’s written on Mark’s t-shirt (“Martini Ranch”?) is a reference to something in particular?