Monday, December 30, 2013

Another Comic Business Post

Starting to re-think that last post and I may post a follow up eventually. After all, who am I to crap on anyone's dream? Even if it is to walk into Marvel Comics and just be handed the reins to Spider-Man.

But on another comic related topic, Terry Moore recently made an appeal for people to pick up Rachel Rising periodicals as the numbers are getting to the point where it may not be worth it to keep going. Two things seem to be factors. One, people are buying trades and with the current comic business set up it's periodicals that keep a comic going (unless it gets to Walking Dead/Fables level and the trades sell like crazy). Moore makes more money on periodicals. If the periodical sale isn't there it never gets collected into trades. Second, sales have been okay but it's getting to the point where the buzz isn't there anymore. The book started with the usual Terry Moore crowd. Reviewers raved about it and it picked up some readers as the buzz grew. But now Moore says people aren't really buzzing anymore. People (reviewers/bloggers) aren't saying much because it's the same thing with each issue: "Another great issue", "You should be reading this series", etc. And since it gets old repeating yourself and these people are looking to bring in readers themselves with new stuff, people sort of stop talking about it.

Other creators have noticed this with their books too. They get a few issues in, there's a buzz created, sales go up as people check it out, but eventually sales plateau and people just stop talking about this excellent series that's still going on.

So what happens? Well, if you're Marvel or DC you make an event. You change the creative team. You say the universe will never be the same. You kill a character or bring one back from the dead. Or you shove the villain into the heroes body, essentially killing off the hero. People bitch. People complain. But people talk and people buy.

Or, you limit your series. You follow Y the Last Man, DMZ, Scalped, Sandman, and countless others and you bring your story to a close to move on to other stuff.

Or, we (meaning someone other than me) figure out how to make the comic business work. We have periodicals, we have trades, we have digital. The methods are all there to get a comic creators work out to their audience and people have shown a willingness to pay so what is the problem here?

Either way, I do hope things work out for Terry Moore and Rachel Rising is a great series that you should be reading.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Dreaming or Just Delusional

What is it about aspiring comic book artists (and writers)? Is it just this occupation and I just don't notice others or is there something that draws the delusional (or possibly dreamers). I see it online all the time, the guys who are constantly harassing Marvel editors because they think they draw the coolest Spider-Man or have a great idea for a Spider-Man story or have no concrete ideas but would make a great "idea man" (yes, I actually saw someone asking for a job where he just sits around coming up with cool ideas for Marvel). And I see it at the conventions. I just find it very, very weird.

The latest example. At Pop Expo Ottawa, as I was looking at some art they had for sale, a guy approached some of the pro artists and asked how he could get a job at Marvel (flag #1). He said he was just out of some arts school (no experience) and really wanted to work for Marvel (maybe not a full flag, flag #1.5 I suppose). He had no physical portfolio built up or anything posted online to show, he seemed to think a simple email or something would get him in (flag #2). So then it was suggested that he connect with the online community of aspiring artists and writers to try to build up some sort of portfolio and hopefully work for a small publisher, make a name for himself before going to Marvel but he had no clue where to go (seriously, can't do a bit of homework for himself? Flag #3) and did not seem all that keen on this approach. He seemed really let down that it wasn't just that easy to work for Marvel (flag #4). So the artists started naming creators that have forums and such set up just for aspiring creators to connect and sure enough, he doesn't recognize any of the names mentioned. We're talking Mark Millar, Brian Michael Bendis and other big name writers and talent (Flag #5). I was still trying not to involve myself in this conversation at this point but it was getting rather difficult. So the artists asked him what creators he's influenced by and he couldn't name one. Not one. He said he never really pays attention to creators (Flag #6).

This went on for a while and the artists were extremely polite and they gave him some very solid advice. But really, why do so many people think "Hey, I'll just be able to walk up to some Marvel guy and he'll give me a job drawing Spider-Man." Do you know how many people want to draw Spider-Man? Do you realize just how many people currently working for Marvel or other companies are working night and day hoping they can get up to drawing a top tier book like Spider-Man? This is not something they are going to give to some guy out of some art school with no portfolio and no professional experience.

This is why I avoid those "How to break into Marvel Comics" panels at cons. I feel it's mostly the same answers to the same questions. How do you get a job at Marvel? If you are asking that question then the answer is most likely "You don't."

I guess comics aren't the only thing, I do hear about people thinking they could just walk onto a sports team, step into a WWE ring, star in a big blockbuster, or make millions writing a bit of software over the weekend (even if they have no idea what that software is going to do). But I just hear it so often with comics.

And don't even get me started on what it actually takes to draw a monthly comic. One story I tell often is when someone asked for advice on drawing their characters consistently I suggested doing a character design workup, sketching the character over and over from different angles, and doing one of those "20 emotions" worksheets (where you draw your character with each of the emotions) they said "You want me to draw the same character over and over 20 times? Are you crazy?" I hate to break it to these people but do you realize how many times the Spider-Man artists has to draw Peter Parker or Mary Jane or any other supporting character? Drawing comics is not just drawing cool pinups of your favourite character whenever you feel like it. I know I have no actual experience but even I realize that.

I don't know why I felt the need to rant this. Maybe I'm just going through some crappy stuff and that's making me feel the need to destroy other people's dreams but come on people, let's be at least a little realistic here.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ending 2013 With My 500th Post

I guess I missed my recap of Ottawa Pop Expo. So, in brief, it was a fun time but not really up there with Ottawa Comiccon. The crowds were a lot smaller (which many people felt was better as Ottawa Comiccon is packed and it can be hard to do any decent shopping), there were fewer merchants (both in terms of stores and artists), the comic artist section was weak, and the celebrities were very Walking Dead oriented. They say they want to move away from comics for this con to differentiate it from Ottawa Comiccon. I don't see why they feel that need, it's not like Ottawa Comiccon is that comics heavy. But in the end, it was a fun weekend. Some friends got to participate in the cosplay masquerade (a roommate of a friend won best in show) and it will all be part of an episode of Heroes of Cosplay. My sister-in-law got to meet Tom Felton. And I ended up buying artwork from Marco Rudy and Adrian Alphona as well as grabbing the Hot Toys Hulk figure, a very expensive purchase but after the year I've had I felt like I deserved to treat myself. It'll be interesting to see what they do next year, if they go ahead with doing another year. And I wonder if they could move it up a bit to avoid the winter weather.

Anyways, in terms of comics this year I've bought a lot but haven't even had the time to read them. I'd like to do a "best of" list but I'm still making my way through some of the best of 2012. So I guess I'll focus on what I'm looking forward to reading in 2014. My reading list has gotten quite long and includes Mouse Guard, Elephantmen, Indestructible Hulk, Invincible, Sixth Gun, Atomic Robo, Rachel Rising, Hawkeye, Saga, Manhattan Projects, Chew, Astro City, Powers, Fables, and Swamp Thing. I've also been picking up Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel and Faith but will most likely be dropping those two soon. I may check out the Serenity comic coming out but I don't have high hopes. I'm also looking forward to Miracle Man, Marvel's last Wizard of Oz book, and any Dark Crystal books that happen to come along (if they do). It will be sad to see Fables come to an end but I guess it's better to end now than to drag it on too long (though some may feel that it could/should have ended after the war). I'm also still waiting on the final Locke and Key hardcover for that one to finish, the final issue has already come out (nobody spoil it for me).

But getting back to 2013, although it wasn't a great year for me personally there were highlights. Ottawa Comiccon was great. Fan Expo Canada was a fun time. Ottawa Pop Expo was a nice surprise to end the year. And I learned that I have a nephew/niece on the way for 2014. And I'm slowly making my way back to getting the Bluenoser going again.

So I hope you had a great year, are having a happy holiday season, and 2014 is even better for you.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews - Indestructible Hulk and Rachel Rising

My "to be read" piles are completely out of control. I know I've said that before but it's getting crazy. Once I'm done with "A Storm of Swords" I need to concentrate on making a dent in the pile.

The Incredible Hulk Vol. 2: Gods and Monsters - As much as I think Waid's run on the Hulk has been good this volume didn't really hit a home run with me. The Simonson/Thor story was good but some parts just didn't work all that well for me, whether it was the writing/dialogue or the art. The Daredevil story seemed a bit better to me. So overall I'm still enjoying the series, I'm just not putting it at the top of my Hulk runs just yet.

Rachel Rising Vol. 3: Cemetery Songs - It seems like it's been a while since I read Volume 2 (which was actually back in March), I had a tough time remembering what happened prior to this volume (I was a little disappointed with no recap page, I like those things). But this volume is another strong story. Again, I couldn't put it down and when I got the end, wow! Can't wait for volume 4 now. Definitely a recommended read.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Quick Comic Revews - Spike: A Dark Place

Spike: A Dark Place - I can't remember why I picked up this book, I may have just been in the store and had nothing else to pick up, but I really could have done without it. A long drawn out story that really doesn't go anywhere and okay art. Not a bad book but nothing to write home about and not really a necessary (or recommended) read in my opinion. I think the Buffy stories really lost their way when they went to comics and this one continues that trend. And that's really all I have to say.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Quick Comic Review - Chew Volume 7: Bad Apples

Chew Volume 7 -- This series seems to be moving more and more to a darker and more intense tone. It's still got much of its comedy intact but this volume focuses on the repercussions from the previous volume. And, although I prefer the lighter side of this series it's still a great book. Still recommending this series to those with a strong stomach (yeah, bad pun).

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Is it a sign?

I've been thinking a lot lately that I should probably bring the Bluenoser to a close or just flat out stop doing it (or maybe leave it on an open ended hiatus). It's extremely time consuming, the only readers I have are a few people on DrunkDuck, and I don't have the confidence/talent to really do much with it. And now with DrunkDuck down for the last week and a half nobody is reading it. So beyond personal improvement, there's really no point and with no feedback it's even harder to improve. And I really haven't had the free time as of late to work on it.

So I guess I have to figure out what I'm going to do. Continue or just bring my webcomic creating to a close. And if I do close it down, do I have wrap it up now (throwing away the story ideas I had) or just leave it unfinished.

Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

One More Fan Expo Canada 2013 Thing

One panel I forgot to mention was the webcomic one and it's understandable as I found it extremely underwhelming. I'm not sure what I was expecting, is "webcomics" really a thing that needs its own panel at comic conventions any more? And this one just felt like I was sitting in a room listening to a couple friends have a conversation about their webcomics. The panelists seemed to be a clique who all shared similar experiences and had similar opinions. And half of the questions came from the moderator. Definitely could (and should) have skipped this one.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Fan Expo 2013 Recap

I won't bother with any photos, you can find that sort of stuff on my Twitter account. But here's a bit of a recap of my weekend...

Thursday: Started off with plenty of confusion as security and volunteers admitted to having no idea what was going on. Many didn't understand that there were various forms of weekend passes (VIP, Premium, and Deluxe) that had different benefits and such. But Thursday was mostly a shopping day. Got a Hellboy hardcover (signed in person by Mike Mignola), Skullkickers volumes 1 and 2 (signed in person by Jim Zub), Astro City: The Dark Age 1 and 2, some Fan Expo exclusives (Hellboy and Firefly t-shirts and the Rocketeer/Spirit comic), and prints from Agnes Garbowska, Mike Rooth, and Christopher Uminga.

Friday: More confusion from the security and volunteers but let's move past that. Friday we had the Steve Epting/Stuart Immonen sketching duel where they (somewhat reluctantly) drew Rocket Raccoon. Both rocked their sketches. Other than that, more shopping. Picked up books from Becky Cloonan (the Mire, Wolves, Demeter) and from Steve Niles (Breath of Bones 1-3).

Saturday: Have I mentioned the confusion? But despite that, things actually ran fairly smoothly inside the con. There were delays when trying to get from one place to another (some intentional I've heard, to control crowding issues) but things seem to run fairly smoothly. Saturday was a photo-op with Nathan Fillian/Gina Torres (who were super nice and awesome as you hope they would be) as well as the sketching duel between Andy Belanger, Stephen Platt, and Yanick Paquette (Cary Nord missed it). The duel was lots of fun and each was great with the crowd, especially Belanger and Paquette. If either of those two are involved in a duel or panel at a con you can pretty much count me in.

Sunday: First up, photo op with Ron Perlman. Super nice guy. In fact, I heard so many great stories about all the celebrities there. Tim Sale couldn't make it so Tony Moore took his place in a sketching duel vs Dave Johnson. The duel quickly moved to a more adult tone in stories but whatever. The Deadpool sketches were great. Then it was a bit more shopping (I bought some Hulk buttons).

All in all, I didn't really have a lot of must see celebrities or events I felt were necessary but I really enjoyed a bit more of a relaxing Fan Expo where I could spend quite a bit more time shopping and just seeing the sights. And by the end, I wasn't nearly as worn out as I usually am by the fourth day. I'm already looking forward to next year.

Quick Comic Reviews - Astro City: Local Heroes

Astro City: Local Heroes - This volume definitely had a "Marvels" feel to it, focusing on the common man and woman living among the superheroes/villains. Every story is very well written and the art may not be flashy but is effective at telling the stories. I wish I would have tried out this series long ago, but perhaps I wouldn't have appreciated it as much back then. I definitely continue to recommend this series to everyone.

And I was fortunate to locate the Dark Age 1 and 2 at Fan Expo so now I just have to wait for the Shining Stars TPB.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews - Invincible Volume 18

My pile of books to read has grown far too large and I really need to start knocking some of them off. I was thinking of taking some to Fan Expo Canada next weekend to read while I was waiting in lines but I didn't really want to lug a bunch of books with me (an argument for digital?) and I hope to pick up some down there so I don't want to lug even more back home with me. Which reminds me, anyone else going to Fan Expo Canada?

Invincible Volume 18 - SPOILERS: The title "The Death of Everyone" turns out to be a pretty big exaggeration. Sure, a lot of people die (which makes me wonder what the other Image universe characters were up to during all this, especially the ones who appeared in earlier Invincible issues) but actual Invincible characters dying? Not very many. Having said that, this volume was pretty good. Intense, lots of emotion, complex questions, etc, etc. The downside, it wasn't exactly told in a great fashion. The splash pages? Didn't work when "Death of Superman" did it, didn't really work for me here (though the inclusion of more dialog helped a bit here). And the jumping to the side stories like Omni-Man and Angstrom Levy just felt choppy and distracting at times. My final take, a good story but not exactly executed as well as it could. A good Invincible volume, but not a great one. Still, I'm eager to see what happens next.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews: Hawkeye Volume 2

I know it's been a while since my last review. I've been spending quite a bit of my reading time trying to make my way through the "A Song of Ice and Fire"/Game of Thrones books. Not even half way through the second book, I'm a slow reader and they're pretty big books.

Hawkeye Volume 2: Little Hits - This series is pretty awesome. Amazing storytelling by everyone. Fraction deserves much of the credit but the art, the colouring, the lettering, it all comes together perfectly. I know it may be a stretch but parts of it sort of reminded me of Wil Eisner's Contract with God. How some great stories can come out of a simple apartment building settings with a quirky cast of characters, their stories intertwining just right. I saw why people put the first volume on their top books lists and I can see why this series is going to stay there for some time.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Another Year, Another Comic-Con I Didn't Go To

I keep telling myself that at this point I'm better off not going to Comic-Con. I get to sit at my computer and see the news as it comes in via Twitter/Bloggers/Comic news sites instead of having to brave the crowds for a glimpse of some nugget of info. It makes me feel a little bit better about missing all the fun/craziness.

This year didn't really seem to blow me away in terms of announcements. There seemed to be some great panels and such but they were mostly for stuff we already knew was coming (Thor 2, Cap 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, etc). The Avengers 2 announcement (titling it "Age of Ultron") surprised me but it wasn't a complete shocker. Batman appearing in Man of Steel 2? That was quite a bit of a shocker but since I didn't really care for the last couple Batman films or Man of Steel, my shock quickly turned into "expect to be disappointed again." And in terms of comics, I didn't really see much news that blew me away. The Sandman art looked awesome but I'm trying to avoid reading too much about it. I'm glad to hear a new Parker book by Darwyn Cooke is on its way. I wonder if companies are not relying on making Comic-Con announcements as they usually get spoiled days in advance anyways (even the Batman news got leaked almost a day early I believe) and more on just promoting what's already known (with small nuggets of new info).

Either way, it seems like people had a great time and that's what it's all about right? Maybe one of these years I'll get to brave the crowd just to say I've experienced it, for good or for bad.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews - Sweet Tooth Volume 6

So Sweet Tooth has come to an end and it's been a great run. There were a few times where I doubted it but it ended strong. There were some parts where I felt the page layouts were a bit off but other than that, a very solid conclusion. I wouldn't put this one up with Lemire's Essex County or Underwater Welder but it's a series that's worth checking out.

Man of Steel Review - Bad but okay? SPOILERS

I went to see Man of Steel yesterday and I came out of the theatre thinking "That movie was okay. I didn't really hate it." Yeah, there were some things that I felt were bad but all things considered, I was entertained for the most part. But I also recognized right away that it was a bad movie. It was poorly written, badly directed, and quite a bit of a mess. Yet, I was entertained.

Overall, the movie was a mess. Every scene was written and directed to force you to feel at every moment and it felt like it. It comes across as corny. Instead of building characters you feel for you're getting characters thrown at you while it feels like the writers and directors are yelling in your face to feel for what's happening. Then it switches gears to be over the top action. Again, it feels so in your face that it loses any real potential to connect. So all the things you're supposed to respond to like Pa Kent's death, Superman killing Zod, Superman's decision to bring Krypton's legacy to an end, Colonel Hardy's sacrifice, etc, etc they just get washed away as we get something else thrown at us. It gets thrown at you and then washed away with whatever you're supposed to care about in the next second.

I have to commend the actors, they actually did a decent job with the material and they still come out okay despite all the directing/editing/writing that just gets in their way. I wonder what could have been.

And I won't get into the stupidity of some parts. I'm really trying not to nitpick story parts that made no sense or were just idiotic but there was so much of that here.

So, overall, it wasn't a complete waste of 2 hours for me. But it's a very poorly written and badly directed film.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews - Road to Oz and Saga Vol. 2

Two very different books this time around.

Marvel's Road to Oz - Getting Skottie Young to draw these books was genius, he's probably the main reason I keep coming back to these books. This one felt a bit weak in terms of story, but the art makes up for some of the weaknesses. The characters and their stories are creative, and Young's art really brings it all to life. The Marvel adaptation of the Oz books are a great idea for introducing people (young or old) to the world of Oz. As someone who has never read the books, I can't say any more than that. I definitely recommend these books.

Saga Volume 2 - Includes the big controversial issue which I won't bother to talk about because I feel too much has been said already. This volume continues to introduce us to the amazing (and very unique) universe that Vaughan and Staples are building as well as the characters within. We get to see quite a lot of Marko and Alana's story, Marko a bit more so in this particular volume. The story and writing continue to amaze me and the art is gorgeous. Fiona's art not only match the incredibly unique world being built up but also tell the story quite effectively. All in all, I think this is one of the best books out there right now.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews - Manhattan Projects Vol 2

Manhattan Projects Volume 2 -- The first volume hit me so hard with all its twists and turns, I figured this one would have a tough time topping it. Granted, it didn't have quite as much "shock" to it as the first volume but this volume continued some pretty darn strong storytelling and some very interesting (and weird) twists. The art matches the craziness of the story and it all works well together. This series has quickly become a must read for me. It's probably a little too out there for many but I'm really enjoying it.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews - Buffy, Superman and RIPD

This week was hell. Just, hell.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 Volume 3 - I'm not entirely sure why I'm still buying this series. Yes, it's Buffy but it's not exactly good Buffy. This series has been better than season 8 but still not really that good. The first story just seemed to drag on and really didn't feel necessary. The second story, about the first male "slayer", just seemed to be a silly idea from the get go to me and didn't get much better when I read it. Not a bad comic, but not one I'd really recommend.

Superman Earth One Volume 1 - I went in to this one acknowledging that this is yet another Superman origin but hoping it would be an original take on it, which I knew would be tough given how many times we've gone through this. Despite some small parts that seemed original (some of which seem to mirror what I've seen of the upcoming Man of Steel film) it felt completely unnecessary and unoriginal as a story. It felt like they needed an Earth One story so they threw this together, it didn't feel like they had a great story idea and developed it into this. Definitely not on my recommended reading list.

RIPD Volume 1 - Wow, this was a pretty bad comic. Right off the bat, I don't want to say "Men in Black rip off" but there are just so many similarities. And even the differences were so cliche that I found it tough to read. The art? Okay in parts, but weak storytelling in others. Close up shots in weird places where I don't have a clue what was happening took me right out of it. All in all, a pretty big disappointment. Hopefully the movie they made is better because this one was a regrettable purchase.

So some disappointing reads as of late.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews - The Indestructible Hulk Volume 1

The Indestructible Hulk Volume 1 - Before getting into the comic itself I have to comment on the hardcover printing of this book. First up, I was a bit disappointed that this book wasn't the same quality (and increased size) of the last two Hulk hardcovers. I think Yu's art could have benefited from the size increase. But that's acceptable. Secondly, and more importantly, the binding was rather disappointing as I found it difficult to fully open the book on some pages without potentially destroying the binding. This was especially annoying given the art (and sometimes the text) went to the edge of the page and there were a few double page spreads (or least panels that spread from one page to the next) that ended up being somewhat ruined by it. I was also surprised that it was only the first 5 issues but whatever.

As for the content, I really enjoyed the writing. I really like it when the highlight the genius of Bruce Banner. I enjoyed it when Pak did it and I think Mark Waid is taking it to the next level. I wasn't as big a fan of Jason Aaron's psychotic Banner but that's another story. I think Waid's writing on this is great, I've really enjoyed much of his work and this is living up to my expectations. Leinil Yu is a bit hit or miss with me but I like his work here more than I normally do. There were a few parts that I felt were a bit messy and hard to follow/figure out but overall, it was dynamic art that really popped off the page. The page layouts were creative but flowed well for the most part. So this one definitely makes my recommended reading list and I'm incredibly happy to see a Hulk book of this quality.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews - Swamp Thing Volume 2

Some days I think about setting up an anonymous blog to rant/vent about stuff. I know a private journal would be a better idea but somehow I think it would feel better for it to be public, even if nobody actually reads it.

Swamp Thing Volume 2 -- This volume didn't feel as strong as volume 1. Part of it is that this one seems to come to a climax rather early on and then feels like it fumbles a bit to try to find its footing again, at least to me. It's still an interesting story, some solid art (even though it has some substitute artists for the last few issues) and enjoyable but I was a bit let down by it. I also felt that I was missing out not knowing who Anton Arcane was. That reminded me of an issue I've had with many of DC's 52, that despite the "reboot" they are still really written for the regular fan and new fans just feel that they aren't in on the whole story. I'm still planning to pick up volume 3, to see how Snyder's run comes to an end, but it doesn't really feel like a must read any more.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Quick Non-Comic Review -- The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury

The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury will probably be the last Walking Dead thing I read. I'll still watch the show for the time being but I'm done with the comic and the novels. This one was a little interesting, the characters were a bit more unique and it was another early zombie outbreak story which I find more interesting than the stuff going on in the comic now but overall, it just wasn't really that interesting a story. You sort of saw the Governor's slide into darkness continue for a part of this book but it just wasn't really enough to warrant a novel. The "main" characters in this book seemed mostly throw away characters and as it switched from different perspectives it seemed to do so at bad times, never really giving the full story behind a character's thoughts or actions. And in the end, none of it seemed to matter anyways. So, for me at least, it really feels more like a money grab than a story that really needed to be told. Walking Dead fans may enjoy it, but it doesn't make my recommended reading list.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ottawa Comiccon 2013 Recap

Ottawa Comiccon has come to a close today and what a convention it was (for me at least). This one had a heavy Joss Whedon feel to it with the likes of Nathan Fillion, Jewel Staite, James Marsters, Nicholas Brendon, and Felicia Day attending among others (not to mention Summer Glau who ended up cancelling at the last minute due to a passport issue, it happens but she was missed by all). But it also had a much better comic book/artist alley line up compared to last year with the likes of Chris Claremont, Neal Adams, Dale Keown, Richard Starkings, and George Perez coming out. So all in all, I had high hopes for this weekend and I really wasn't disappointed other than Herb Trimpe failing to attend again this year (not sure why).

With a slightly smaller crowd, Friday was a good day for me to knock off quite a few things. Like signing up for a commission from Dale Keown, dropping by Richard Starkings' table to get the Elephantmen print signed and talk comics with him (he's great with his fans by the way), buy a Chewbacca bathrobe (which is awesome), grabbing autographs from Jewel Staite, Felicia Day, and Nicholas Brendon, and a photo with Jewel.


Day two was so much more hectic on the floor but fortunately for me, I had a "VIP" pass that helped get me into the Nathan Fillion/Jewel Staite panel as well as the Felicia Day panel, along with front line access to Nathan Fillion's autograph and photo and the Wil Wheaton/Felicia Day photo. Then there was the Nicholas Brendon panel. Then I picked up my sketch from Dale Keown (an incredibly awesome Abomination drawing). And at some point (the day is a bit of a blur) I grabbed a sketch from Pia Guerra (who, in my humble opinion, should charge much more for her sketches).
Pia Guerra's Yorick and Ampersand

Dale Keown's Abomination

Day three was a bit easier on me. To start, I had the Nathan Fillion panel (the VIP pass helped yet again) and that panel became Nathan and Jewel part 2 (which was awesome again). Then it was shopping (grabbed a page from the Hulk/Pitt one shot from Dale Keown) and just seeing what I might have missed the first two days. My brother, Brent, decided to grab a George Perez Thor sketch and to be honest, I'll probably regret not getting one myself once I'm awake enough to really think about it. But at that point, I just couldn't bring myself to stand in another line. Then I screwed up. I asked Mike Rooth if I could buy a coaster with a Hulk sketch on it but with everything going on, my tiredness, and needing to make sure I had Mother's Day covered I completely forgot to go back and get it. I feel absolutely horrible about that and I'm hoping I can get in touch with him via Twitter so I can make amends at Fan Expo Canada or some other convention.
George Perez sketching Thor for Brent
So, all in all it was a great time for me but I am completely exhausted. One nice thing about it being in Ottawa is I get to meet up with local friends there. Friends who don't make the trip to Fan Expo Canada. And getting to see how happy they are to meet Nathan Fillion or Gillian Anderson, or just sit in on a Nicholas Brendon or James Marsters Q&A panel makes a convention so much better for me. I think the best thing about comic conventions for me is just seeing the joy you see in people when they meet their idols, whether it's an actor, a writer, an artist, or whatever else. That feeling just seems infectious (almost as infectious as the "con flu" that I'm bound to get) but seeing it in your friends' faces just amps it up a bit. So thank you to the organizers, the volunteers, exhibitors, guests, anyone else I haven't covered, and my friends/family including Brent, Carl, Michelle, Meaghan, Amy, and Sean, for making this convention so incredibly awesome. See ya next year!

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews - Angel and Faith Volume 3

Free Comic Book Day seemed to be very successful with both stores I visited having plenty of customers coming and going. Many seemed to be new to comics or at least not current customers. A lot of kids and women as well, which I feel is a very good sign.

But this weekend is Ottawa Comiccon which I was pretty excited for, I love conventions. But with Nathan Fillion added at the last minute, I'm absolutely bouncing off the walls. There are just so many people I'm excited to see but Nathan, he's been near the top of my list for a while. Joss Whedon (which I realize will never happen) tops the list, by the way.

Angel and Faith Volume 3 -- This book continues to be a huge step up from the previous Buffy/Angel books, even making those books somewhat more palatable. Still not edible, just slightly less toxic. So maybe it's that those books were just so bad but I'm still enjoying this series. It may not make my recommended reading list, even for Buffy/Angel fans, but I don't regret picking it up. Which seems like a backhanded compliment I know but it's the best I have at the moment.

And now to get back to thinking about Ottawa Comiccon. I'll be sure to post a recap at some point.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews -- Superman, Star Trek, and Hawkeye

Have I mentioned Ottawa Comiccon lately? Probably but I'll mention it again because I love attending comic conventions. And Ottawa Comiccon is looking very good this year. I'm eager to meet Jewel Staite, Summer Glau, Felicia Day (for a second time), Wil Wheaton, and Nicholas Brendon but they've also seriously upped their comic guest line up from last year with George Perez, Chris Claremont, Neal Adams, Dale Keown, Richard Starkings, Arthur Suydam, Herb Trimpe, Larry Hama, Pia Guerra, and many others coming out. It's looking to be a great (and expensive) weekend.

But as for the latest batch of comic reviews...

Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness - I had high hopes for this book as I really enjoyed the comic they put out prior to the previous movie. I felt it really flushed out parts of the backstory and set up the movie well. I didn't get that feeling so much this time. There were hints of an upcoming story but nothing as major as last time. It didn't seem really that important to the story. The writing was okay, the art was pretty good, but it was just an okay Star Trek comic. Not really a must-read, just an "if you're interested."

Superman: Secret Identity - I didn't have a lot of confidence in this one after reading the first chapter, it seemed a bit silly to me at first, but it quickly becomes an incredibly engaging story. There is some really beautiful artwork that really connects you with the story. I can see it not being for everyone, but I might put it in my top 5 Superman stories (up there with All-Star, Red Son, Kingdom Come, Whatever Happened To...). Definitely glad I picked this one up and I would definitely recommend it. Maybe not for everyone, but for many.

Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon - I now get what all the fuss was about. Was this ever a fun book or what. Great stories, had me chuckling throughout, and an edge-of-your-seat ride from start to finish, through each story. So it looks like I'll be adding another Marvel book to my reading list after all. I'd definitely recommend this book to everyone. And that's all I can really say about it.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews - Red She-Hulk, X'ed Out, and Hive

My power went out last night which meant I had time to read some comics (by candlelight no less).

Red She-Hulk Volume 1 - I had mixed feelings about this book. The main story seems just okay. The military is creating its own team of superpowers (as if that's never come up before) and the Red She-Hulk sees (through a somewhat convoluted story) that this is going to end badly. So, instead of doing something rational she decides to go it on her own (I think the Red She-Hulk and the machine that showed Betty the future) had something to do with that but it still seemed a stretch to make up some reasons for her to fight off the Avengers. And now that I'm typing that up I realize I wanted this story to be okay but I don't really think it is. But worst of all for me is that most of this volume is from Machine Man's perspective. We get glimpses of Red She-Hulk and Betty doing stuff but usually through Machine Man's eyes. So it doesn't really feel like a Red She-Hulk book until the end when she starts describing things to Machine Man. So I guess in a way, it's still really about Machine Man. So all in all, a rather disappointing book. I hope the next volume is better as I'll stick it out for a little while but it really needs to improve or I'll be dropping it.

X'ed Out and the Hive - I chalk these up to great artistic comics where I'm still wondering what the heck is going on. Things are starting to come together in the Hive but we still don't have the full picture. And it's what, two more years for the final book? Perhaps I'll avoid saying one way or another until I'm able to read the thing in full because for now, it's tough for me to recommend these books for most people. But if you're really thinking to try them out, then yeah, I'd say do so.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews - Guarding the Globe Volume 2

The last few days I've spent quite a bit of time working on "inking" a drawing that a friend did and it's completely kicking my butt, these Final Fantasy characters are crazy complicated with all the details they throw in. And it doesn't help that I've been feeling like crap and only able to keep down toast and water.

As for the review...

Guarding the Globe Volume 2: Hard to Kill -- I had my doubts going into this volume but it definitely seemed to work for me. It juggled several really big villains while giving some character moments (mostly about Brit but some others get to shine as well). And the villains are pretty unique and are quickly shown to be major threats in different ways. The art worked for the most part, there were a few panels that I thought were a bit off but nothing too major. All in all, I think this is a fairly solid side story to Invincible (although you can actually read this book without reading Invincible) and I'll stick around for a little while.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews - The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths Volume 2

Went to the dentist today for a cleaning (and X-Rays). No cavities so I guess that's a good thing.

The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths Volume 2 -- Archaia is really kicking butt with their variety of books and top notch production. This is a beautiful book with a great story. Jim Henson created such an amazing world with the Dark Crystal and this book is a worthy successor to the movie. Some may disagree with me on that point but it's how I feel. If you're a Jim Henson/Dark Crystal fan then I feel this is a must read for you. And even if you haven't seen the movie, it's just a wonderful comic. Now I can't wait for volume 3 to come out.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Random KickStarter Thoughts

I've had KickStarter on my brain as of late. Of course part of the reason for that is a certain TV show getting a movie started on there. But there's also the issue of some outstanding "rewards" that I'm having problems with. And I've noticed that I haven't contributed to a campaign in a really long time. There are some simple reasons for this like no "must need to donate to" projects seem to have come up for me lately. There are a few that I think "that doesn't look too bad" but nothing really stood out. I'm also currently "in between" jobs so it's not like I have money to spend.

But having said that, there are other issues. I've had pretty good luck in the projects I've contributed to following through with the project and rewards but there have been a few outliers and they're really bugging me. Some are keeping in touch and trying their best (even if their best isn't that great) to explain what issues have come up and what they're doing to fix them. Others have been downright horrible. They don't respond to me personally but post generic "the rewards have been shipped and you should be getting yours soon" type messages for everyone who's complaining, sometimes they've been posting these messages for many months. Clearly, taking the time to respond to each person would take time I suppose but the fact that they are having that many issues is telling. Some don't even reply with anything that positive. And spending time trying to track down what's happened to my reward, nagging people who have now moved on to other projects and getting no response? Not a great feeling. I don't like to be burned, I take it very personally, so a couple bad experiences really spoils it for me.

The other issue is the companies coming in after the fact. I know there may be weird circumstances that come up but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth when I'm putting money down to fund a project (and not just for the reward) only to have them announce right after the project is funded that some company is stepping in to take over the project. It feels like instead of companies putting up their money to make something happening they're now happily standing by while everyone else does only to scoop in when there's money to be made. Now I'm no expert on these matters, there's probably a lot more to it than what I see, but it does rub me the wrong way. And it's not the business model I want to see.

So despite the initial good feelings I had about KickStarter, it has soured a bit for me. I'm not looking to throw it out altogether, but I am going to be much more hesitant about what I put my money into.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Another Quick Update

Yes, I've gone quiet for a little while yet again. So just a quick update on what I've been reading. I started "The Casual Vacancy" but being a slow reader to start and due to the nature of the book (a lot of characters being introduced right off the start, that always slows me down as I go back and forth to keep track of who I'm reading about) it's going to take me a little while.

I also read "Terry Moore's How To Draw". Moore is a great storyteller (as you may know, I really enjoyed Strangers in Paradise and now Rachel Rising) and this book is an excellent (and pretty quick) read for aspiring artists. It's only a few lessons and doesn't go into too much detail but they are really good lessons. I'll be keeping this book close as I continue on my own comics/art.

Next up will probably be the Dark Crystal: Creation Myths Volume 2.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews - Rachel Rising Volumes 1 and 2

It's been a bit of a weird day.

Rachel Rising Volumes 1 and 2 -- When I was buying these books the woman working at the cash said it was a great series and really creepy. Since it's Terry Moore I figured it was great but I sort of brushed aside the "creepy" comment. Not that it would have changed my mind but yeah, it's creepy. And, other than some balloon placements that I felt were a bit questionable, it's darn near perfect storytelling. It's an excellent story, great characters, and well told in terms of the writing and art. Yeah, it's a little on the dark side (we're talking some violence and icky-ness, not gore for gore's sake) so maybe not for everyone but still, a really great series. I couldn't put them down and now I can't wait for volume 3. Definitely on my recommended reading list (for the fans of the slightly darker stories).

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Stupid stupid stupid me

So I've been telling myself that I really need to get the Bluenoser pages done quicker. I keep saying that I need to back off from the 9-10 panel pages, maybe simplify the artwork some more, or do something so they don't take me so long to do. Then I come up to volume 2, part 2, page 5 and I see it's only 6 panels in my script. I pat myself on the back and say let's get to drawing. But then I second guess myself, I think I need to extend the dialogue, add some more fighting, and "fix" a couple other things. But I still have it down to 9 panels so that doesn't seem so bad. Then I really get down to laying it out (just basic stick figure stuff) and... It's now 14 panels:
Fortunately, it's more action and dialogue and I can probably get away with a minimum of background work. But still, someone smack me upside the head.

I also read the digital exclusive Atomic Robo that was given out at ECCC and went on sale today. It was pretty interesting to read it online, some of the digital tricks/technique worked for me, some didn't. But I think these things need to be tried out at some point so we might as well get to it.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews - Captain Marvel Volume 1: In Pursuit of Flight

That new Iron Man 3 kicks some serious butt. Really looking forward to it and I hope it's as good as it seems. I was talking to Meaghan over on her blog about how Marvel doesn't really have the best track record when it comes to third movies (X-Men, Spider-Man, and Blade for example) but this one is looking pretty good.

Captain Marvel Volume 1: In Pursuit of Flight -- Kelly Sue DeConnick has been working hard to create something special on this book, especially in terms of connecting with fans. And she seems to have amassed a decently sized army, and I don't have any numbers to back it up but based on her tweets it has a strong female presence unlike the vast majority of other comics out there. So based on this following (and how friendly she was when my brother and I met her a couple years back at Fan Expo Canada) I decided to check it out for myself.

We'll start with the good. It's well written. It introduces Carol Danvers and establishes her currently changing status-quo to new readers while (I think) not alienating existing fans of the character. It's a classic example of a superhero story really being a character piece. And the art is very good, every page is crammed with so much great work while maintaining the readability. It's a style that may not work for some, I've read a fair amount of negativity around it that could be considered valid, but I enjoyed it.

But, as for the bad, I'd have to admit it's just not a book for me. I know this is going to sound bad, and it probably is bad (either it says something about me or whatever), but I have to be honest. Despite comics (especially "mainstream" comics) being very much a "boy's club" in many ways and despite comics needing books like this that focus on strong female characters, I just find a book that focuses as heavily on it as this one does is not for me. So maybe if I had unlimited funds or if I start to notice that there's been a shift in the story or maybe if I just don't have anything else to read at some point then I may check out volume 2 but otherwise, probably not.

I'm definitely not regretting checking this volume out though. It is still a very well done comic and a good story. It was just one of those "not really for me" type things.

Wow! Maybe I need to rethink calling these "quick" comic reviews. :)

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews - The Underwater Welder

Finally starting to make a dent in my to-be-read pile of books. I think a few more books and then it's time for my Sandman re-read.

The Underwater Welder - Jeff Lemire has a very interesting art style that may not work for everyone but his storytelling is top notch. Although there's nothing really that novel about this story he crafts an emotional page turner that keeps you engaged from start to finish. Not much else I can say, this book is definitely worth checking out.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews - Castle: Richard Castle's Storm Season

Castle: Richard Castle's Storm Season - What a lengthy title, yeesh! I have to admit that these Richard Castle comic "adaptations" really haven't blown me away. There's nothing really bad about this book (although a couple page layouts could have been improved) but as a fan of the show, I just have high hopes for it and it's not coming anywhere close. And when you're releasing a hardcover comic like this, I also get my hopes up for something a bit better. Again, they aren't bad stories, but it's just okay stories with okay (or maybe slightly better than that) execution. I probably won't be picking up any more unfortunately.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews - The Sixth Gun Volume 4

It's getting harder and harder to review the books that are consistently good so I might need to figure something out there. But here goes the Sixth Gun Volume 4.

The Sixth Gun Volume 4 -- I'm going to have to go back through my blog to see what it was that made me decide to try out this series. It doesn't seem like something I would seek out but it's been a great series so far. Volume 4 continues that trend of solid writing and artwork. There were two things that popped up for me though. First, the silent chapter. I get that it was connected to having one of the characters temporarily lose their hearing and it made sense for parts that were told from their perspective (more or less) but it also felt weird as the whole chapter wasn't from her perspective. But I guess that's an artistic choice they made, so kudos to them for trying, it just didn't work 100% for me. And sometimes I wonder if we could have a short story, a chapter or two, that wasn't so focused on the six guns. Have them go somewhere where nobody has heard of the guns and they have to do something that's not directly related to them. I don't know, I just wouldn't mind a bit of a tangent story of some sort. But that might just be me and right now the series is at such a high pace with everything going on that inserting such a story may break the narrative so I'm probably wrong to want this. But overall, a great volume. Looking forward to volume 5 now.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Digital Comics Revisited... Again

I've been trying to stay away from the whole "future of comics" discussion lately, I'm just rather tired of it. But I decided to watch Mark Waid's talk on "Reinventing Comics and Graphic Novels for Digital" (found on YouTube here: ) to see what he had to say. I won't go into it in too much detail. I will say that I admire what he is trying to do with Thrillbent. One way or another, digital is here to stay so talking about what can be done (storytelling wise as well as money wise) instead of just ignoring it (or going in blindly) makes sense.

But in terms of the storytelling, here's where I have some issues. I wouldn't call them serious issues, they may only apply to me, but I've found some of the storytelling tricks/techniques to really not work for me. One in particular that I've grown a dislike for is when you keep the page/panels almost the same when the reader goes to the next "page", only changing little things (an expression, a gesture, some dialogue, or whatever else). And sometimes it doesn't work for me when even big things change. To put it simply, when this is done I feel like I'm doing one of those "spot the 8 differences between these pictures" games. I stop focussing on what exactly is happening and focus on going back and forth trying to spot the differences. I can't seem to help it. And even when I do spot the differences, I keep looking through every background detail to see if there's something I'm missing. It completely takes me out of the story.

So maybe it's just me but I actually prefer it when the visual hits me in the face with what I need to know instead of appearing to play games with me. So if the changes are significant enough, it's less of an issue for me, but as I said there's still something in me that isn't sure. It sort of reminds me of scenes where we see two characters fighting only to have one character stab the other with a dagger that seems to appear out of the blue. I wonder where it came from and have to go back two pages to see that the character picked it up while other stuff was catching my eye. Or, other times, I can only guess the character had it hidden somewhere as its origin is never quite revealed. In my mind, unless you really want to keep it from the reader, make it clear. Slide in a quick panel showing the character's hand snatching the dagger or pulling it from their pocket. This is different than the other scenario where two characters are fighting and one retreats only to reveal to the reader later that they pick pocketed the thing they were fighting over. Basically, the scenario where you really want to surprise the reader. But think carefully over which you want to do. Surprising the reader with the dagger may work in some situations but you should really think about whether that makes sense for the story you want to tell. And  if you're thinking "Ha! I'll outsmart my readers by hiding these things from them" then you might want to rethink your approach. This isn't really what's happening in the video, just something I was thinking of about visual storytelling.

But there are tricks that Mr Waid shows that do work for me (some better than others and some I feel could use some tweaking). I think the piranha page works to some level. I think the page where two people are talking in the kitchen while the flashback panel between them has some merit but I wouldn't have minded some change in the talking characters (raising a glass to their mouths from time to time, actually moving away from filling the pot at the sink, etc).

In the end, it's an interesting talk. But of course, I almost always find comic talk interesting. :)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews - Atomic Robo: Flying She-Devils of the Pacific

I know it's been a little while since I posted a review. I've been reading "The Cartoon History of the Universe" Volumes 1-7 and it's taking me a while to get through. But I took a break from that to read the latest Atomic Robo volume so...

Atomic Robo Volume 7 -- It's getting rather difficult to review this series (among others) because I don't want to just keep saying "This series is awesome!" But really, this is series IS awesome. So I'll have to try to find a negative. Well, I wasn't really a big fan of Robo's reaction to the She-Devils in the beginning. He seemed a bit too "You're all women???"-y. But I guess this is 1951 Robo and it's not like he's always been the most progressive character (not that he's horrible, he's just not perfect). Plus, it is a group of female pirates flying around the Pacific in jetpacks so the whole thing is probably somewhat unnerving.

I know there were other complaints about this volume. Some of it was about the change in art style and I think some of it was about something else entirely. Clearly, I didn't bother reading too much of that stuff but as for the art style, I don't get it. I probably wouldn't have noticed had I not read about it, I don't often notice those changes unless there's something clearly wrong with the new style. Part of that may be due to reading the trades, it's been a while since I've read Robo drawn by Wegener. But this story read well and the characters had unique looks so I was happy with the art. But I probably would have been happy with the old style as well so who knows. And as for the writing, great as usual.

So, in the end, this series is awesome!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews - The Defenders Volume 2

Ottawa Comiccon is shaping up to be better than last year, at least in terms of the guests being invited (in my opinion of course). I'm definitely looking forward to it. But as for the review...

The Defenders Volume 2 -- I really enjoy the way Matt Fraction writes the characters in this series. He makes them all very interesting to me. My problem though is that I find when comics start going on about universal threats with Celestials, time/universe travelling, and god machines my eyes just seem to start to glaze over. And I found that this series fell into the usual "tie it up in a nice little bow so we never have to think about this again" that these sorts of events often fall into. It felt like quite a bit of a letdown for me. I'm sure if I could get past my own issues with this sort of story it might be really good, but I can't so I was pretty let down with this volume. Maybe a good series to read if you're really into Dr Strange or, to a lesser degree, Iron Fist but not something I'd really recommend to too many people. And it's too bad given how well the characters themselves read.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews -- Fables Volume 18: Cubs in Toyland

Still fighting off this cold but I seem to be getting a little better each day. Hope I didn't just jinx it.

Fables Volume 18: Cubs in Toyland - I still had the disappointment of Werewolves of the Heartland in my head going into this volume. Fortunately, this volume is so much better. It's a better story and much better told than Werewolves. It's definitely not a cheery tale but if you've been reading Fables then you'll know to expect stories like this. While some series are letting me down as they get up around the 100 issue mark, Fables seems to just keep being great (for the most part). Definitely still recommend picking this series up if you aren't already.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews - Wonder Woman Volume 2

Still battling that cold but it seems to be getting better. Hope I didn't jinx it by saying that...

Wonder Woman Volume 2: Guts -- I have to say that I wasn't as pleased with this volume as I was the first one. I thought it was a solid story but just didn't work for me as well as the first six issues did. Some parts read a little weird or choppy (not sure if it was the dialogue or the art or a combination that was the issue). I do like that they kept the mythological angle as a big part of this story, it had me looking a few things up as it's been a while since I've looked at that stuff. So having said all that, I think it's still a very solid series from the DC 52 relaunch but I don't think it's enough to hold my interest beyond these first two volumes.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews - Invincible Volume 17: What's Happening

I've sort of felt something coming on for the last few days and I think today it has revealed itself as a cold with the possibility of becoming a full on "man cold." It's mostly hitting my chest at the moment with a touch of nasal issues. But on that lovely note...

Invincible Volume 17: What's Happening -- Well, I was happy that we got to see what happened with Robot and Monster Girl in that other dimension even if it did seem to interrupt the other stuff going on. There was a fair amount of juggling going on here, jumping between the flashbacks which covered 700 years and the current ongoing invasion as well as some other stuff (like Invincible's condition after what happened in the last volume and Bulletproof's stuff). It worked okay for the most part but there were a few times I had to go back to see if I missed something or how we transitioned from one time/place to another. Maybe that was the cold but I don't think so. But we get a lot of superhero fighting, a lot of character development and emotional moments, and we eventually get back to the volume 16 stuff (but just at the end) so what more could I ask for? In the end, a pretty solid volume of Invincible and I'm eager to see what's in store for volume 18 (which will have issue 100, I hear it's a big one).

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews - Werewolves of the Heartland

Making my way through my "to read" pile that grew way too large over the Christmas holidays and continues to grow. I may have to cut myself off from buying any more books until I get it down to a manageable size... Oh, who am I kidding.

Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland -- As a side story I can see why this was put out separate from the regular Fables book. Though, a few issues dedicated to Bigby isn't really unheard of. Story wise, it's an interesting book. It's well written (for the most part) and definitely keeps your attention. But a few things seem a little out of place or just don't tie in quite as well with the rest of the story. It just could have been a bit tighter. And in terms of art, it's solid for the most part but there are a few areas where it's a little inconsistent or just not as clear in terms of storytelling as it could be. I know this will sound cruel but it sort of had the feel of a side series that you don't really put your A-team on. And considering this was a story that got released in hardcover as a special I just thought it could have been a bit more polished. If you're reading Fables already you'll (most likely) want to read this, but you could wait for a softcover at least. If you aren't reading Fables, this probably isn't the book for you.

Messy Layouts

I'm pretty sure there is only one person in the world that can make sense of my initial page layouts and I hope one day to find him/her.
I'm already thinking that this page is going to take quite a while due to several issues like:

  • Need to focus on the backgrounds a bit more to establish the scene fully. And the backgrounds are a little more complicated than I usually do and also new to me (have to design more of the house layout to make sense while still working with previous shots I've done, taking the shortcut earlier can really suck sometimes).
  • Lots of dialogue with a lot of visuals, always makes things interesting to figure out.
  • And by "visuals" I mean the combination of backgrounds, a number of characters, and emotion (facial and body language) all needing to have a presence.
Which reminds me of the time that I was having a "discussion" with a guy on a message board about how long it takes to draw a page. He was arguing every page takes the same amount of time and that anyone who can't match Jack Kirby's output (which he put at 2-3 pages per day) was just lazy. I was trying to take the other side on both counts. Of course, he was a doctor/surgeon, company CEO, and close personal friend of George Perez (it was surprising to see a surgeon and company CEO have so much time to post on every thread in a Heroclix forum, but that's beside the point) so of course I was wrong on all counts. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews - The Incredible Hulk Volume 2 (2013 edition)

Incredible Hulk Vol 2 by Jason Aaron and a host of artists -- I haven't been a huge fan of Jason Aaron's run on the Hulk. The first volume was a miss for me for the most part. The story of Doom separating the Hulk and Banner just seemed weak and silly to me and Banner's personality switch after (the idea seeming to be that he's an insane madman without the Hulk) just didn't work for me. He's been split from the Hulk before and despite being a bit of a jerk he wasn't like this (though perhaps it was how Doom split them this time that made the difference). And the art in the first volume was a bit of a mess. I'm only saying this because this volume continues this story so I didn't have high hopes. I will say the art is better, or at least more consistent in this volume (the artists tend to at least be able to complete a whole issue before someone else takes over). There were a few parts where the story seemed jumpy, I'm not sure if that was the writing or the art just not telling the story. But once I was able to put all that behind me the story did have its moments. There was a decent amount of humour and seriousness mixed in. The Doombots (whether it was Bruce blasting them away or their doubts about Doom himself) were fun to read. And Banner's comment about Doom using a chainsaw to cut his head open was a bit on the nose for me. So it was a more enjoyable read than I expected. And it had a very solid ending. Of course, with all the Marvel NOW stuff being thrown around I already knew how this situation was going to play out. I need to figure out some way to filter the comic news.

So in the end, it was a somewhat interesting run on the Hulk. I guess I have to give them props for trying. But it definitely wasn't my favourite. I'm eager to give Mark Waid's run a go though (before too much of it gets spoiled for me).

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews - Angel and Faith Volume 2: Daddy Issues

Angel and Faith Volume 2: Daddy Issues -- This series seems to work a lot more for me than the Buffy season 9 series. Overall, there's a direction, a purpose for the story and the characters that just connects with me a lot more than the Buffy series. But enough of the comparisons. On its own I'd say this series is pretty good. Not overwhelming but it has its moments. There are the usual character moments, the banter between Angel and Faith (and others), and a good flow to the story. The art isn't spectacular but it's pretty solid. Though I think there were a few times where some visual clues could have been a bit better. There were a few times where I had to flip back and search back through panels to find things I missed and that took me out of the reading a bit. But it wasn't a huge deal. While I think I'm done with the Buffy series, there's a good chance I'll be sticking with this one to see where it goes.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews - Scalped Volume 10: Trail's End

Scalped Volume 10: Trail's End -- Scalped has been an amazing series and it really ends with a bang (several in fact). Okay, bad pun. It ends really well. Aaron and Guera are on top of their game here. This series has had plenty of twists and turns, complex characters who have really grown in different ways over the 10 volumes, and some extremely tense moments. This volume has all that thrown in to a tight package. I'm so glad I decided to try out this series, it has been great from start to end. Give it a year or two and I'm definitely going to have to do a Scalped re-read.