Showing posts with label independent comics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label independent comics. Show all posts

Monday, November 13, 2017

Minky Woodcock: The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini -- A Review [NSFW]

There are currently few purveyors of the hardboiled noir school of pulp fiction that are as good as the Hard Case Crime imprint from Titan Books. When I want a new crime fiction book to read, I go through the crime section of the book store, looking for the familiar white and orange spine with that Hard Crime logo. I am never disappointed. When Titan Comics announced a few years ago that they would be adding a Hard Case Crime comics line, I was over the moon. There have been some great comics since: Peepland, Normandy Gold and their adaptation of the Millennium Trilogy have been some of the best crime comics of recent time. Now, add to this list the awesomely named Minky Woodcock: The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

CALEXIT Creator Pizzolo To Fund "Become The Government" SuperPAC With Comic's Profits

Superheroes are synonymous with comic books, while SuperPACs are ingrained in the current political landscape, and now there’s an unlikely crossover between the two worlds in the works. Matteo Pizzolo, the writer of the acclaimed comic book series CALEXIT and the co-founder of Black Mask Studios, is starting a SuperPAC called Become The Government to support first-time candidates from non-partisan backgrounds in the 2018 midterm elections. Pizzolo will contribute his writing royalties from the acclaimed ongoing CALEXIT comic book series to support Become The Government. Last week the first issue of the series by Pizzolo and artist Amancay Nahuelpan was released with a print run of 25,000. Within 24 hours, the book had sold out at the distribution level and at most major comic book retailers, prompting publisher Black Mask Studios to immediately initiate a second printing.

“Our intention in creating CALEXIT was to tell a story that celebrates the spirit of resistance. We want it to ultimately be optimistic, if not inspirational,” said Pizzolo. “Our job is first and foremost to serve our characters and tell an entertaining story. We’re not preaching at our audience.

“But at the same time, we have the opportunity to engage with readers on another level in a conversation about the state of the country. Each issue of CALEXIT has interviews with people like political activist Amanda Weaver, director Lexi Alexander and author Bill Ayers and I’ll be documenting the formation of the SuperPAC in the back matter of the upcoming comics.

“For me, forming the SuperPAC is an incredibly educational experience in how our government works, and I hope that by documenting my process in the backmatter of CALEXIT I can share what I’m learning about this strange and fascinating part of American politics, “ said Pizzolo. “With the Become The Government SuperPac, I’ll be putting my money where my ideals are by taking a more active role in the 2018 midterm elections, just like I hope CALEXIT might inspire some readers to take a more active role in their local communities.”

In CALEXIT, the citizens of California struggle to seize power back from an autocratic government. The ongoing series tells the story of Jamil, a 25-year old courier (aka smuggler), and Zora, a 27-year old leader in the Pacific Coast Sister Cities Resistance, who escape together from a prison camp in Occupied Los Angeles, where martial law has been in place for the past year —  ever since America’s demagogue President signed an executive order to deport all immigrants, and California responded by proclaiming itself a Sanctuary State. Each issue of CALEXIT will also include non-fiction material about local sustainability and grassroots campaigning for 2018 elections.

“When I started researching and speaking with people who are doing real-world political work, it really struck me how important midterm and local elections are, and how the smaller elections that aren't as glamorous as the Presidency have an outsized influence on people's everyday lives. And I became very inspired to join the process and support new candidates in smaller elections who can effect change on a local level in the short and medium term while also rising with grassroots support to become national leaders over the long term.

“Not all of our readers share my personal values and this isn’t an official position of the book, my co-creators, or the company, it is simply what I personally am opting to do with money I earn from my work writing the book. And I hope that by being open and honest about that it will continue the conversation between writer and readers. I’m hoping my experiences here will inspire our readers to participate more directly in their local communities, and I would hope it might encourage readers of all political points of view toward greater and more constructive participation. If there’s one thing I’m trying to say with the book it’s that we don’t have to agree on everything in order to work together.”

Become The Government will be an independent-expenditure-only political action committee focused on supporting first-time candidates in the 2018 midterm elections. The group, which will select candidates to support but will not donate directly to them nor coordinate directly with their campaigns, intends to advocate for candidates who bring fresh new ideas, perspectives, and experiences to the position.

Black Mask Studios will be exhibiting at San Diego Comic Con this week at Booth 2104 and selling a San Diego Comic Con exclusive cover by Winston Smith. the iconic artist whose work graced the album covers of The Dead Kennedys. The Los Angeles based indie publisher has arranged the “CALEXIT: Change The World Tour” of comic stores to promote the new series this summer.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Be Careful What You Wish For Because You Could Get A CALEXIT

I wouldn't have thought a year ago that this would be the world that I would be finding myself in. So many things have turned upside down, and inside out. I have said for a while that politics have been a part of comics since Superman threw a corrupt politician over the capitol building and Captain America punched Hitler. The medium has provided voices for the disenfranchised and work for people who had a hard time finding work because of their ethnicity, or their religion. Many readers have dumbed down the definition of comics to be their lowest common denominator, the so-called escapism of super-hero comics. But the medium is so much more than just that, and sometimes it takes a comic publisher willing to be more to remind us of that.

I've known about Black Mask Studios for a while, but I have only really seriously been getting into their books over the last year or so. I've been playing catch up, going back and finding these comics because they are some of the best that I have seen in a long time. The creative energy behind this publisher and the comics that they publish is something that I haven't felt since the months leading up to the foundation of DC Comics' Vertigo Comics imprint, or the early days of the comics that Milestone published. What Black Mask Studios is doing is lightning in a bottle.

As good as those imprints were in their respective days, I don't think that we would have seen comics like Kim & Kim or Quantum Teens Are Go! from a publisher like Milestone. We certainly wouldn't have seen such raw and open political commentary as Calexit coming from a mainstream publisher. These aren't just the comics that we should want as comic fans, they are the comics that we need. I think that we have forgotten that what we now call popular culture was meant to be the voice of the disenfranchises, the discontent and the outsiders.

I have a few friends in California. I visited the state for the first time as an adult a couple of years ago. I live in the South. I grew up in the Midwest. California was almost like visiting another country for me, but in a very, very good way. It was also very much like coming home. It isn't a surprise that there has been talk from people in California about succession. We're in a time of unrest unlike any I've personally seen since our country's turmoil of the 1960s. It also isn't a surprise that this unrest would create a work like the Calexit comic.

We are a country that is built upon protest, even though the powers that be would like to simultaneously call back to those bucolic days while simultaneously glossing over the parts about revolution and protest. Reading the first issue of the Calexit comic hit me in a way similar to when I first heard Public Enemy, hearing that mix of intellectual discourse with pure, raw anger at how the world ended up the way that it did. That is a tone that I am hearing more and more from friends (and strangers) as the current political environment continues to grow and build like a psychological mushroom cloud, poisoning everything that it touches as it grows and sweeps across the world.

The is always a need for dissenting voices in our country, in our world. I won't lie, Calexit is a scary ass comic. This sort of story isn't new, you could argue that Brian Wood went over similar ground with his DMZ comic, but compared to Calexit Wood's work feels toothless, tamed. This comic is an angry, confused and sometimes disconsolate voice howling out into the world, not unlike that of the protagonist of the seminal American poem Howl by Allen Ginsberg. Calexit and Howl are not dissimilar in that they both represent voices of an impetus for change in an age when societal forces are trying to keep change from happening. If you consider Art to be the harbinger of change as I do, then Calexit is the voice of "best minds of my generation destroyed by madness."

Calexit also has one of the best back matters in comics right now. Writer Pizzolo has interviewed activists and film maker Lexi Alexander to get their perspectives on politics, art and their intersections. It is some pretty powerful stuff, and I think that the interviews add depth and a stunning reality to the fiction of the comic. I hope that Calexit spawns more overt and mature political commentary in comics, across the political spectrum. Calexit is a powerful book and you need to read it with an open mind, regardless of where you are politically. I hope that it can open some eyes and wake up some people as it gives a voice to the completely warranted fears and frustrations of a good part of America.

I will say this: Calexit isn't for everyone. It took me a couple of reads before I became comfortable enough to find a way to talk about the book like I am now. This is why my review is coming out after the release of the book, rather than leading into it. I too had to find my voice to talk about this comic. If you think that comics can be more than just two guys in spandex punching each other in the name of conflict, then you need to read this comic. If you think that we need political discourse and dissent in our country, and our world, then you need to read Calexit. It is an uncomfortable and unflinching comic, but it is also a necessary one. Howl at the world and read this comic.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Catalyst Prime: The Event [Review]

With the Free Comic Book Day comic of Catalyst Prime: The Event, we get to witness the launching of a new comic universe. Catalyst Prime: The Event has echoes of past comics stories like the birth of The Fantastic Four, the White Event in the original New Universe published by Marvel Comics, and the Milestone books published by Milestone Media and published by DC Comics. Each of these comics stories was not only an exploration of "what would happen if?..." but each attempted to look at what could happen if super-powered beings became manifest in worlds that were reflections of the worlds outside of the windows of the comics creators.

This may not have been intentional when Jack Kirby and Stan Lee put together that first Fantastic Four comic, but they created a world that was a reflection of the world that they lived in, complete with people with personal issues and problems. These people lived in a much more complex world than those of previous comic book characters because the world of the Fantastic Four, the worlds of Marvel Comics, dealt with things like politics and coming to terms with their "otherness" in ways that readers who were people of color, or the LGBTQ+ could identify with. Often the creators of these comics could only deal with these issues of otherness in a metaphorical manner, like the mutant X-Men or characters like The Thing that felt like their "monsterness" made them an outsider to the polite society of the rest of the world.

Even when comics like Marvel Comics' New Universe titles had more diverse casts of characters, they would still only deal with a lot of issues in a metaphorical manner. Too much injection of the so-called "real world" would make those who were used to the spotlight of comics characters looking like them feel excluded, as if the representation of characters was a zero sum game. Things like mutants were "okay" as long as they were a metaphor for queer identity, or being a person of color, but too much meant that the people who identified as the core audience for comics felt that they weren't represented.

The debut of the Milestone comics changed a lot of that. Books like Icon or Static or Blood Syndicate or Shadow Cabinet featured character who were African-American, Hispanic or Latinx, Asian and other ethnic groups. Previously there would be non-white characters who would be part of the super group, or who would be the side kick to the white guy super-hero, but now they were getting to be the stars of the books: the headlining heroes and villains of their comic stories. A lot of us take representation in comics for granted because most of the lead characters in the books look like us, but seeing that change, seeing the joy from queer and Hispanic friends as they read comics with characters who looked and loved like they did was a bit of an epiphany for me. And it isn't just that being able to see people who look like you do in comics, for those of us whose ethnicity is on the whiter side of things we get exposed to thoughts and ideas that we wouldn't normally get to see, and this enriches our lives.

So, that is a lot of words about comics that aren't Catalyst Prime: The Event. Written by Christopher Priest and Joseph Illidge, and with art by Marco Turini and Will Rosado, in Catalyst Prime: The Event we get the zero event that launches this new universe. Like with that first Fantastic Four comic, it starts with astronauts going up into space, but instead of it being the space race that impels these astronauts it is instead a potential extinction event. A meteor is coming at Earth, with the potential to destroy it.

This is a story that we've heard before in countless disaster movies of the last few episodes. But is this meteor really as dangerous as it seems? Loreena Payan, the Mexican scientist and business woman who discovered the meteor seems to be manipulating the facts to play things out to her advantage. Is she the hero, or the villain, of our story? It is too early to tell, but whichever path she ends up going down she already has complicated motivations that could make her either, or both, depending upon the story in question. The character of Loreena is obviously going to be the instigator of the Catalyst Prime stories for a while.

The astronauts are believed to be dead, due to the impact with the meteor, but to anyone who has read comics for any period of time it is obvious that, much like the Fantastic Four, the various heroes that we will see debuting in Catalyst Prime books over the next few months will be the astronauts, changed by their encounter with whatever was in space. I would be willing to bet that the debris from the meteor that rained down on the Earth will likely be the trigger event for other super-powered beings within the setting.

I live in one of the seemingly shrinking parts of this country that is an ethnic melting pot. I can turn on the radio, and the television, and hear Spanish voices. I don't have to travel far before billboards and street signs are in Spanish (or at the very least bi-lingual). The trouble is that I don't get to see this world portrayed in the comics that I read very often. I can't imagine what it must be like for the Hispanic people I know, and I wouldn't presume to talk for them. Since it appears that Milestone 2.0 isn't going to happen for a while yet, Catalyst Prime is going to be a window into a world that is like the one that I see every day, outside of my windows and when I go out into it. Is that enough of a reason to call a comic good? I think it is, and I would go a step further and say that comics like this are needed in our comic stores.

Catalyst Prime: The Event is a great comic adventure story. It is entertaining and engaging, and it did exactly what an introductory book is supposed to do: it made me want to read more. It made me want to explore more of this world, and to see the stories of its inhabitants unfold. If your local comic store has a copy of Catalyst Prime: The Event left over from Free Comic Book Day you really need to grab a copy. Then you need to read Noble, the first Catalyst Prime ongoing comic. We really need more comics that are not just diverse, but well-crafted. Catalyst Prime: The Event manages to out Fantastic Four even the Fantastic Four.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Barbarella Comes To America

With the New York Comic Con this weekend, announcements from the comic publishers are starting to come in fast and furious. All of the comic sites will be full of interesting (and maybe not so interesting) announcements from publishers.

Something that I'm surprised that I'm not seeing more of is the announcement from Dynamite that they will be doing an original American, English language version of the classic French comic. Many American comic fans may only know of the comic via the movie adaptation staring Jane Fonda, made years ago (or perhaps through being fans of the vintage New Wave band Duran Duran). I think that this is a pretty big deal, second only to when IDW started doing original Judge Dredd comics. Just, I know that DC Comics did Judge Dredd for a bit, but never to this extent.

From Dynamite's press release:
The character was introduced at the heart of the sexual revolution of the 1960's, and is forever ingrained in pop culture after Jane Fonda's unforgettable portrayal in the 1968 film. She was a key figure in the fertile battleground of French comic books and the struggle for sexual freedom in the medium, and has not appeared in a new series since her last appearance in the legendary science fiction publication, Heavy Metal.

French comics have always been a little less, shall we say, restrained than their American counterparts. Typically to see the sort of sexuality that you would see in Barbarella in American comics you would have to go to underground, alternative or small press comics. Mainstream publishers like DC Comics would dabble in more "adult" fare through imprints like Vertigo Comics, but due to the cultural differences between America and Europe you didn't often see explorations of sex and sexuality often.

Also from the press release:
The new comics will be supervised by Jean-Marc Lofficier, who worked in the mid-90s with Jean-Claude Forest, the character's creator, on a sequel project.
"This is the first step in a multimedia approach designed to herald the return of Barbarella," says Jean-Claude's son, Julien Forest. "We are particularly happy and proud to take that step together with Dynamite, which has showed great respect for so many other classic characters."

Dynamite has take flack in the past for portrayals of characters like Vampirella and Red Sonja, so it should be interesting to see how American comic fans take to Barbarella.

The Dynamite book won't be out until some undisclosed time in 2017. While I think that the company's licensed work can be hit or miss, they have put out some spectacular work in their pulp lines, particularly with their Shadow and Green Hornet books. Their Vampirella, Red Sonja and Mars lines have been the spottiest, but there was an uptick with the Swords of Sorrows crossover. Regardless, I am interested in seeing how an American publisher tackles the property.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Classic Elric Comics Return From Titan Comics

Some of you may remember when the now sadly defunct comic company Eclipse Comics had the rights to do Elric in comic form. If you don't remember this, then you are lucky because you are going to get to experience them for the first time through an upcoming reprint series from Titan Comics.

"Unforgettable action and intrigue...a must-read for any fans of science fiction, sorcery or sword-and-sorcery epics!" - Comics Bulletin

"Richly deserves to be back in print...Can’t wait to return to the Dreaming City!" - SFX

"A terrific book." - Jeff Vaughn, Scoop

Collecting the first volume of the classic adaptation of Michael Moorcock’s bestselling fantasy saga, Elric of Melnibon√© marks the perfect introduction to the series’ iconic antihero, his fabled blade, Stormbringer, and his harrowing adventures across the Dragon Isle.

Adapted by former Marvel Comics editor, Roy Thomas, and beautifully rendered by longtime comics illustrator,Michael T. Gilbert, and the multiple Harvey and Eisner award-winning P. Craig Russell, this definitive collection marks an essential read for all fans of sword and sorcery and brings the Moorcock’s epic tales to life with luxuriant imagination.

The Michael Moorcock Library - Volume 1: Elric Of Melnibone hits comic stores February 18, 2015 and is available to order now from your local comic store using Diamond code NOV141648.

Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: P. Craig Russell, Michael T. Gilbert
Format: 176pp – HC - FC
Volumes In Series: 1 (of 15)
Publisher: Titan Comics
Price: $22.99/$25.95 CAN /£18.99 UK
ISBN: 9781782762881
Release Date: February 18, 2015
Diamond Order Code: NOV141648

To pre-order via Amazon visit:

For more information visit:

Connect with Titan Comics

Friday, March 28, 2014

March Book One By John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

While at MegaCon last weekend I inadvertently stumbled upon the Top Shelf Productions booth and found what is one of the most powerful comic book stores that I have encountered in a long time.

March Book One is a biographical comic, based on the life of U.S. Representative John Lewis, and written by his aide Andrew Aydin with art by Nate Powell.

One of the great things about picking up a book for the first time at a comic convention is that you often get to meet the creators. Aydin's enthusiasm for his writing on the book and Lewis' life was infectious and got me to pick up the book. I don't think that a comic creator's direct enthusiasm has influenced me as much since I met David Mack back in the 90s, and he sold me on his Kabuki comic. Of course, these two have little in common outside of an emotional impact.

This first book in a trilogy talks about Lewis' early life as the child of Alabama sharecroppers, up through his college years and early involvement in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Early on, Lewis' empathy is shown, in his treatment of the farm's chickens when he was a child. This sets the stage for what would become his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.

Don't think that is is a dry recital of facts and dates, like some high school history course. Through Aydin's talent as a writer, Lewis and the people in his life are vivid and engaging as you follow them through their fight for equality. Powell's art beautifully compliments the writing and helps to bring the writing to life.

It is amazing how much you think that you know about a subject, until someone who was actually there shows how little that you really know. This book is like that. Not in a "trying to teach a lesson" kind of way, but with the methods that can only come from natural storytellers like Lewis and Aydin. It is obvious from the writing that Aydin has a great deal of respect for Lewis and his accomplishments, and after reading this first book it is a respect that we all have as well.

I don't think that I can speak highly enough of this book. This comic is something that I am going to stick into the faces of friends for years to come, telling them that they need to read this book. In fact the point of this review is that you need to read this book. One of the things that I talked about with Aydin, while he signed my copy of the book, was that comic, and really all forms of geek media from games to movies, need to expand beyond the power fantasies that you often find and explore new territories with emotional maturity. This comic shows how you can do that.

If it isn't obvious yet, you need to pick up this book (and the next two parts when they come out).

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Gary Reed Talks About The Return of Caliber Comics

Since I've been talking about DeadWorld (and I have a feeling that I am going to eventually be moving into talking about other Caliber books as I go through my comic long boxes), I should include a link to Gary Reed's blog talking about their "return." It is an interesting article and I think it really gets to the core of what Caliber Comics was as a company that published creator owned comics, and what that means in a contemporary comic market where comic publishers have been relegated to the role of creating and maintaining IP for the purposes of making movies and TV shows.

Go over, read Gary's blog and see what you think. Hopefully you'll want to support the company, too.
Gary Reed: The Return of Caliber: "Last week, I announced that Caliber Comics was returning.  The idea of the announcement wasn't to issue some proclamation of big..."

DeadWorld Monday: Mississipi Queen

The third issue of DeadWorld is called Mississippi Queen, after the song from Mountain. I'm going to assume that you haven't haven't heard it before.

In the beginning of the issue the characters are listening to the song on the bus (I'm assuming on a tape player, since there aren't radio stations anymore and now CDs will never be invented).

This issue picks up almost immediately after the last, with the characters on the run after getting out of Slaughter, and filling up the bus with gas again.

I think that we get more hints that there is more to what is going on in DeadWorld than just zombies. Like the scene from last issue (with the character who I said would be important), the cover hints at magical creatures who aren't zombies. These impish creatures are definitely something weird and different.

The reason that this issue is entitled Mississippi Queen has to do with the characters finding a riverboat. It makes sense to hide out on a boat, right? Zombies can't swim after all. Right? Obviously nothing will go wrong with this plan.

One of the things that happens, once the characters get onto the boat, is that we get reminded that despite everything that is happening, these are just kids. We get one of the rare glimpses into seeing them be kids, rather than zombie killers.

The respite is a short one because King Zombie has found them again. I need to look a bit more closely at the first two issue now, because I'm not sure if he has been called anything other than "the motorcycle riding geek" by the characters. We know his name, as readers, but that might have just been because he was answering the letter column. Silly, I know, but still fun.

Zombies don't have to be able to swim.

When Dan encounters King Zombie, this might be where the characters first discover that he can talk, as well. These talking zombies are also able to exert control over the less intelligent zombies as well, calling the zombies to them and forcing them to act. The shore is swarming with zombies as King Zombie forces the boat back to the shore, surprising the characters with an attack of zombies that they have to fight off.

We get another interlude in this issue as well, and this time the "crazy" character who might have been hallucinating those fantastic creatures is given a name. We're still not sure if what he sees are hallucinations or reality, but the continuation of the combined with this issues cover hints that these may not be hallucinations.

Once again I am amazed at what Vince Locke is able to convey with his art. Yes, it is very cartoony in places (particularly this part where he is trying to cast doubt on the reality of the scene), but his art is just as instrumental in creating the new reality of the DeadWorld as is the writing.

Something is growing with these interludes. Were the zombies somehow intentional? It appears that this Deake (and people he knew) is somehow behind the zombie influx...but this seems to be saying that he might have been manipulated by outside forces into doing whatever happened that brought the dead back.

We still have a lot to find out.

The issue ends with zombies swarming onto the riverboat, the characters trapped. Dan is unconscious, perhaps incapacitated, and the characters face overwhelming odds while down their best fighter. What is going to happen next?
Let's see what happens next Monday.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Deadworld Monday: It's A Slaughter

In issue two of DeadWorld we get a lot of violence and combat. It really isn't that much different from the violence and combat in the first issue, but much of this issue hits us with the fact that this is a story about survival. Not just this issue, but the DeadWorld comic in general.

The schoolbus runs out of gas after the "gang" flees the onslaught of zombies from the last issue. They have a plan, sort of, to get somewhere out West where there are fewer people and hopefully fewer zombies. Mike, the erstwhile leader of the group, goes into the closest town for gasoline and maybe a spare vehicle.

The characters not only need a plan, they need to be able to get along better with each other. This isn't because of worry over someone's feelings...this is a matter of survival. Keep in mind that, as far as the characters know, the group of them are the only survivors of this zombie invasion. They haven't seen any other living people yet. This is why Mike takes Dan with him into town. He knows that, as the leader, he has to find a way to get everyone cooperating and working together. If they can't trust each other, they are not going to survive.

The closest town? Slaughter, Louisiana, and (of course there are zombies).

There is also an interlude, a very psychedelic interlude where we are introduced to a character who is running through the woods and seeing things that may (or may not) be there. This is going to be an important character to the story, but I'm not going to give that away here. Not just yet. There is also a page that shows why Vince Locke is a great artist, even at this early stage in his career. If you really need a reason to pick up this issue of DeadWorld, this page will probably be that reason. This page also hints that there is something more to all of this than zombies. We will get to that as well.

The man from the interlude may (or may not) be being chased by these creatures. You aren't going to find monsters this weird in even the weirdest of the weird fantasy RPGs. This page is a bestiary all on its own.

However, this interlude is going to be very important to the overall story of DeadWorld. Just not yet.

After the interlude we go back to Mike and Dan in the town. Like any plan, theirs starts off working well...and then zombies. There are a lot of zombies in this town, more probably than could be accounted for by the dead rising. It is almost starting to look as if a lot of people have been transformed into zombies as well. Is this a plague of some sort?

The violence is cartoony at times in these early issues, but that's intentional. It seems to me that it is trying to make the situation of zombies being all over more "real" by notching up the violence to suit the surreality of the situation. I could also be talking out of my ass.

The boys make it out, and head back to the bus with a new truck and a bunch of gasoline. That mission is accomplished without any harm to Mike and Dan. Back at the bus we have the relationships developing more as the kid tells Chris that John (who has been unconscious since the last zombie attack) loves her.

Once again we get the blend of zombies, violence and relationships that will be a hallmark of the DeadWorld comics. There is going to be interesting development to our characters as they explore their new world and the people (living and non-living in it. Honestly, I think that is one of my favorite things about this comic, is that there is a story that is unfolding. It isn't an accidental either, as we'll see in these posts there is a plan to this book. We also haven't seen the last of the intelligent zombies either. They are very important to this story.

Next week we will see what happens next, in issue three.

If you like this post, click on the link at the beginning of it and buy the issue in electronic form from from DriveThruComics. It is an affiliate link, so it will help out the blog and you're making a purchase from the that helps them out as well. It's only .99 cents, and for that you get the incredible Vince Locke page earlier in this post. That alone is worth almost a dollar.

More SuperFAE: Big Bang Comics

A favorite comic of mine for a long time was Big Bang Comics. A part of the independent comics boom of the 80s and 90s, Big Bang Comics grew out of Gary Carlson's Megaton comic. Carlson and partner Chris Ecker, were part of the Detroit scene that also brought us Caliber Comics and Kevin Siembieda of Palladium Games. While there were original characters like The Sphinx or Doctor Weird, many of the Big Bang Comics characters were homages to Golden and Silver Age comics characters like Batman or Superman. True, characters like Ultiman and Knight Watchman did have enough twists to them to make them into unique characters, it was easy to differentiate them from their inspirations.

Big Bang Comics ran for a while as a mini-series done in conjunction with Caliber Comics (where I first encountered the comic by finding it in a bagged set in a K-Mart), and then as a full color series published through Image Comics. The character of Knight Watchman first appeared in Carlson's Berzerker, a post apocalyptic comic published by Caliber Comics that (to me) bridged the universes of the Megaton comic with that of Big Bang Comics.

Today I needed to do something a little uplifting today, so I decided to revisit my SuperFAE rules hack for the Fate Accelerated and talk about some of the characters from Big Bang Comics, and how I would address them under these rules. The SuperFAE stuff is still a work in progress, so this post may contradict or add to what I had previously posted. In all cases, stick to the most current rules implementations, as they supersede previous writings.

In case you missed my first SuperFAE past, you can read it here.

Because of its freeform nature, SuperFAE fits well with the freeform nature of the comics. Not familiar with Big Bang Comics? Click here for more information about them.

Knight Watchman is Reid Randall, a fashion designer and wealthy owner of the family clothing business. Yes, that's right the "Batman" of the Big Bang Comics Universe is a fashion designer. While Reid was still in college, training to compete in the Olympics, mobsters attempted a hostile takeover of the family clothing business, killing his older brother Ted (who currently ran the family business) and Ted's wife with a car bomb.

Using his athletic prowess, and garment making skills, he fashioned himself a simple costume to hide his identity, allowing him to track down the gangsters who killed his brother. After finding and defeating the gangsters, he dressed them up in women's clothing and left them to be found by the police. Sadly, this did not become his M.O. for apprehending criminals after he decided to become a costumed hero.

Realizing that there were others in need of help, oppressed by crime, in his hometown of Midway City, Reid took the identity of Knight Watchman and became the Twilight Paladin of Midway City.

These would be the aspects that I would use for Knight Watchman in a game:

High Concept: Twilight Paladin of Midway City
Origin: Using His Training For The Good Of Those Around Him
Trouble: Must Keep His True Identity A Secret!

For his other aspects, being that Knight Watchman is a fairly black and white character, in terms of morality, I would probably use Must Do The Right Thing! and Square-Jawed Hero. Those give him a certain Silver Age charm, without hamstringing the character at the same time.

For Knight Watchman's approaches I would do this:

Fighting +3
Agility +4
Strength +0
Endurance +1
Reason +3
Intuition +2
Psyche +1

While Knight Watchman is a fighter, he is also a thinking super-hero. Some may think that the +0 for the Strength approach isn't going to be enough, but rather than thinking of it as Mediocre (like the +0 ranking in Fate) I prefer to think of it as being human normal. A good way around this would be to give the character a stunt that would let them give damage with their Agility, instead of their strength:

Because I am a trained Olympic athlete, I can use my Agility to attack and damage people when I spend a Fate Point.

Ultiman is the Ultimate Human Being, and as former astronaut Christopher Kelly is the stand in for Superman in the Big Bang Comics universe. When Kelly was an astronaut on one of the Gemini space missions, his rocket was struck by a mysterious meteor. The radioactive rock bathed Kelly in its strange rays, making him faster, stronger, invulnerable to most harm, and able to fly. The radioactive energies supercharged his cells, turning him into a superhuman power battery.

Later in his career, this would turn on Kelly, as his energies dwindled and he looked for ways to reclaim his glories as America's foremost super-hero.

Concept: America's Super-Hero
Origin: Changed By A Radioactive Meteor Into The Ultimate Human Being
Trouble: Living Battery Of Supercharged Power

The nice thing about the trouble is that it can be Invoked or Compelled to represent Kelly's powers when they start to ebb, as well as when they are at peak capacity. This was, after all, how we first saw Ultiman, later in his life, when he appeared in Megaton Comics.

Fighting +3
Agility +2
Strength +4
Endurance +3
Reason +0
Intuition +1
Psyche +1

While super-powerful physically, Kelly is mostly unchanged mentally by the radiation that gave him his superpowers. When his powers are at his peak, I would give the following Power Stunt:

Because I am supercharged with energies, I can have a +2 to one of my approaches, when I spend a Fate Point.

The nice thing about the Fate Point economy is that it can be used to represent things like a super-hero whose powers ebb and flow. Without a Fate Point, Ultiman is just his "normal" self. While all of this is good for representing a Silver Age version of the character, if you want a modern version of the character just fill out his aspects with Must Find More Energy! or Hungry For That Recharge to simulate the fact that the radioactive energies in Kelly's cells is dwindling. Powerful electrical charges, or other intense energy discharges can also power up Kelly, for situations when Ultiman needs to be even more ultimate.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for the Big Bang Comics universe, but it gives you two characters that can be used as examples for creating your own SuperFAE characters. I know that there's interest in more posts about the SuperFAE rules, and this is trying to fulfill that. If you also want to see me talk more about the Big Bang Comics characters, let me know and I can do that too.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Deadworld Monday: The Original Walking Dead Comic

Today I start my series of commentary and criticism on the DeadWorld comic. I am going to be focusing mostly on the original run of the series, published originally through Arrow Comics and eventually finding its home with Caliber Comics. If you want to read along, you can pick up this issue of DeadWorld through DriveThruComics for only 99 cents in electronic form. Yes, that is an affiliate link, I hope that you will support both the original creators and the blog.

Warning, there are spoilers.

As a disclosure, I really wasn't a fan of DeadWorld at the time that it came out. I was a late comer to the comic. A few years ago, when I was part of another RPG publisher, I approached Caliber publisher Gary Reed about the rights to Baker Street for role-playing, unfortunately they weren't available but as we talked about his other properties we came to DeadWorld. We talked and made a deal to bring DeadWorld to role-playing, but (as with many things in this business) it did not work out. Caliber Comics published some incredibly rich world, and hopefully one day they will end up in a role-playing game from someone.

The short version of this story is that, while researching the book for the writing of the RPG, I came to be a big fan of DeadWorld. While I am going to be talking about the classic run, the book is still out today through IDW and you can probably still find the Image Comics edition trades in comic stores.

What made DeadWorld so cool, right out of the gate? Two words:Vince Locke. The cover from the first issue of the comic almost lets you know what what you are getting in for with this comic. Zombies, of course.

The story starts in Louisiana. We don't know why, and this is mostly because the main characters don't know either, but the dead have risen and the world is in chaos. Fans of the original Night of the Living Dead will recognize this set up. In fact, this first issue has George Romero's finger prints all over it. The characters are fighting for survival. The geography is very limited. Characters get hurt. However, it manages to keep above being a pastiche and rapidly becomes its own thing.

Right off the bat you start to get an idea of who the characters are, and some of their social relationships. While some of these people were friends before the zombies came, some of them were also thrown together out of a need for survival.
In this page we have the introductions of Dan, Donna, Mickey, Joey (Spud), and Dan. In just a few panels Stuart Kerr, the writer, gives each character a personality and starts to set up the interpersonal dynamics of their relationships. We know that the dead rising didn't just happen, but it is still recent enough that no one really knows yet what to do about things.

One of the things that fascinated me about this, coming to DeadWorld after the fact, was the fact that this is a world where the internet did not yet exist and where the media was not as ubiquitous as it is nowadays. This actually adds a layer of authenticity to the comic for me, and helps support why people don't really know what happened. There were no embedded reporters going down to the zombie onslaught on live television, or streaming internet video. This makes DeadWorld almost an alternate past of what the world could have turned into, if zombies had destroyed civilization 30-some years ago.

And then, of course, zombies attack:

For many, this is going to be the meat of the comic. The thing is that it isn't. To be honest, particularly in hindsight, a horde of attacking zombies isn't any big deal. The really important part of the story, the thing that was scary and intriguing for me, came a few pages before the zombie attack.

That's right. These zombies are organized, and their leaders cannot only talk...but they cane think as well. These panels gives us our first look at King Zombie, an important character who will come up in future issues (and posts). And not only can they talk and think...they can ride motorcycles.

How metal is that?

Of course, the motorcycle-riding zombies scare the hell out of the characters, who have never seen or heard of such things. This is also, for me, what sets DeadWorld apart from other zombie comics out there. They weren't afraid to do things that you wouldn't expect. Over the course of these posts we will see more of these intelligent zombies, their plans and their actions.

Kerr and Locke hit the ground running with this first issue of DeadWorld. We already have an idea of what the world is like (the characters are forced to scavenge and forage for food and materials, zombies are pretty prevalent in the world, society's infrastructure has collapsed) and then they pull the rug out from under the readers and the characters by showing that there might be an intelligent force behind all of this, guiding things.

So, this is our first DeadWorld Monday post. I may periodically supplement these with gaming related posts as well, but mostly I am going to talk about the comic, what makes it cool and why I think you should find it for yourself. Go back up to the top of the post and click on the link and buy your own copy of the comic.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Dynamite Brings Back Classic Characters From Gold Key And Chaos Comics

Dynamite Entertainment proudly announces the return of four fan-favorite comic series -- Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, Solar: Man of the Atom, Magnus: Robot Fighter, and Doctor Spektor -- through a new licensing agreement with DreamWorks Classics.  The publishing company has signed four of today's most sought-after writers: Greg Pak on Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, Frank Barbiere on Solar: Man of the Atom, Fred Van Lente on Magnus: Robot Fighter, and Mark Waid on the long-lost hero Doctor Spektor.  Contributing artists will include Mirko Colak, Cory Smith, and more to be announced.  Dynamite will launch the bold new universe of name-brand titles beginning in February 2014.

"These are super-bold, all-new takes on awesome characters by some of the best creators working in comics today," says Nate Cosby, editor of the new line.  "I couldn't be more jazzed to oversee the revamping and re-imagining of the Gold Key line, especially when the incredible stories are coming from Greg, Fred, Mark, and Frank, with beautiful art by Mirko, Cory, and more.  It's a treat to work with these guys to dig down and find the core of each character, what makes them tick and why they've lasted for so many decades.  We can't wait to show you what we've been cooking up!"

Originally published throughout the 1950s and 1960s as part of the Gold Key Comics imprint and followed by the monumentally successful run from Valiant Comics in the early 1990s, the titles Turok, Solar, and Magnus: Robot Fighter are immediately recognizable to the modern comic-reading audience.  Doktor Spektor, a title launched in the 1970s, rejoins its contemporaries for the first time in decades as part of Dynamite's reimagined line.

Each contributing writer has shared their thoughts on the bold initiative:

Greg Pak, whose innovating writing style has propelled Batman/Superman to the top of sales charts, says, "When Nate Cosby told me the character he had in mind for me, I couldn't stop grinning.  The original Turok, Son of Stone series featured a Native American warrior fighting for survival in a lost valley populated by dinosaurs.  I'm just going to go on the record and say that every single element in that description is solid gold.  I want to write stories with a Native American hero. I want to write stories about fighting for survival. And you bet your boots I want to write stories about a world populated by dinosaurs.  And now you're telling me I get to do all three?  For sheer thrills and adventure, this book is going to be a blast to work on.  And I'm always drawn to stories that feature diverse casts, so I love that a Native American hero headlines the book.  I'm also loving the worldbuilding we're doing. We're exploring the reasons why dinosaurs walk the earth and all of the social, historical, ecological, and political ramifications that follow.  This is huge adventure combined with mind-bending alternate history, and I couldn't be happier."

Fred Van Lente, a New York Times bestselling author and fan-favorite writer of Marvel Zombies, says, "I'm thrilled and honored to be reviving such a beloved series.  I loved the original Russ Manning book as a kid, and am looking forward to bringing science fiction action to the new series in a thought-provoking way.  The very nature of robotics questions what it means to be human -- that's ultimately what Magnus: Robot Fighter will be about.  That, and punching robots until they explode.  There will be a lot that old-time fans will find familiar, but the science of robotics and cybernetics has advanced considerably even since the last time Magnus had a title, and you'll be seeing a lot of those reflected here."

Frank Barbiere, a rising star whose work includes Blackout and Five Ghosts, says, "Dynamite has lined up some of the top talent in the business for the new universe of books, and I am both excited and flattered to be part of it.  I think fans are going to be thrilled by the new directions we're taking with many of the properties, Solar included.  I'm a huge fan of the character and will be putting a unique spin on the mythology with an emphasis on family and character.  I'm hoping my take will resonate strongly across the readership, new and old alike, and I'll certainly be bringing a lot of new and exciting things to the table."

Mark Waid, one of the most celebrated comic writers of the modern era thanks to bestselling titles like Kingdom Come, Daredevil, Amazing Spider-Man, and Indestructible Hulk, says, "Launching a publishing event like this is an exciting opportunity to show how it can be done well, stylishly, and cohesively. The key (no pun intended), as far as I'm concerned, is to get to the core of these characters so we can, with dynamism and confidence, tell the readers who they are, what they want, and why fans will invest in that. For Doctor Spektor, the challenge comes in figuring out how a professional skeptic, a famous investigator who debunks and exposes the extra-normal and keeps himself grounded, can function in a world that suddenly hosts superheroes and supervillains. What do you choose to believe in when your lifelong belief system is swept away?"

And the Chaos! Comics announcement!

Dynamite proudly announces the return of Chaos! Comics, an expansive universe of fan-favorite horror characters including Evil Ernie, Purgatori, and Chastity.  Superstar creator Tim Seeley (Hack/Slash, G.I. Joe) will write an epic six-issue Event Series reintroducing the entire cast, bolstered by the gorgeous and gruesome illustrations of artist Mirka Andolfo.  Scheduled for release in early 2014, the Chaos! Comics resurrection will revel in all the attitude, sex appeal, and pure unadulterated mayhem that longtime fans and fun-loving newcomers crave.

"Evil Ernie came out when I was a teenager, when I was looking for something dangerous, scary, and sexy to read, and I loved it," says Tim Seeley, referring to the original Chaos! Comics publishing era which took the industry by storm in the 1990s.  "It was like punk music, late night horror movies, and a lingerie catalog rolled into one perfect creation. To say it had an effect on my work as a comics professional is a bit of an understatement!"

Evil Ernie, the undead serial killer.  Chastity, the vampiric punk-rock assassin.  Purgatori, the goddess of bloodsuckers.  The Omen, a band of supernatural misfits.  When each of these terrifying figures witnesses a vision of the world's impending doom, they rush headlong into conflict with one another.  Some try desperately to avert the nuclear holocaust, out of altruism or self-interest, while others... just want to raise some hell!  It's the return of the Chaos! universe on a grand scale, the resurrection of fan-favorite boogeymen and femme fatales amidst a violent, apocalyptic upheaval.

"The Chaos! universe gave rise to the kind of comics that would, depending on your age, make you hide them under your bed, tattoo the characters across your body, or paint them on the side of your van.  Their characters inspired such intense reactions from readers.  I want to be part of that.  I want to really harness what made characters like Purgatori, Chastity, Evil Ernie, and The Omen so unique and special both for existing fans... and a whole new generation with room under their beds."

Tim Seeley is a prolific comic book writer and artist, having contributed to a wealth of name-brand creative properties including G.I.Joe, Forgotten Realms, New Exiles, Weapon X: First Class, and G.I.Joe Vs. Transformers.  He has developed his own comic book series, including the wildly popular Hack/Slash horror series and the controversial, groundbreaking Loaded Bible.  Recently, Seeley partnered with Dynamite on the wildly madcap Army of Darkness Vs. Hack/Slash comic book series, teaming his tough-as-nails heroine Cassie Hack with MGM's resident square-jawed champion, Ash Williams.

"With Halloween right around the corner, it's the perfect time to announce the full-scale Chaos! Comics revival," says Nick Barrucci, CEO and Publisher of Dynamite Entertainment.  "Whenever you flipped the pages of an Evil Ernie, Cremator, or Bad Kitty comic, it was like your own private All Hallows Eve party.  Skulls and gore, vicious attitudes and zombie hordes, buxom beauties and malevolent metalheads -- Chaos! Comics reveled in the rebel spirit of its hardcore audience.  We launched an Evil Ernie miniseries last year to universal fan and critical acclaim, and we are proud to expand the Chaos! line to its full glory with Tim Seeley, a modern master of terror, at the helm.  And I'm ecstatic to report, Mirka Andolfo's art blows us away with every new page she turns in.  Watch out, Chaos! fans -- this will be a book to kill for!"

The Chaos! Comics revival is slated for release in early 2014, and will be solicited in Diamond Comic Distributors' Previews catalog, the premiere source of merchandise for the comic book specialty market.  As always, Dynamite encourages comic book fans to reserve copies with their local comic book shop or hobby specialty store.  Chaos! Comics will also be available for individual customer purchase through digital platforms courtesy of Comixology, iVerse, and Dark Horse Digital.