Monday, December 30, 2013

Image Comics' Manifest Destiny: The wild, the fearsome, and not-so innocent

Manifest Destiny: The wild, the fearsome, and not-so innocent
by rick olivares

“I fear that birds, small game and Indians will be the only creatures we will come across.”

Captain Meriwether Lewis penciled in that entry in a diary after Second Lieutenant William Clark shot a wild heron to document and study as part of the objectives of the Corps of Discovery that was commissioned by American President Thomas Jefferson.

That isn’t a true to life entry. That is a line written by Chris Dingess, an admitted fan of the horror genre, who has come up with a clever reimagining of some of America’s pioneers in Lewis and Clark.

In the real life expedition, Lewis and Clark crossed what is now the western portion of the United States, departing St. Louis via the Mississippi River and making their way through the continental divide to the Pacific coast.

It was a select group of US Army volunteers under the command of Lewis and Clark that undertook a perilous journey last from May of 1804 up to September 1806. The party only took one casualty and that was due to appendicitis more than any Indian arrow.

In this Image Comics series by Dingess and artist Matthew Roberts, it’s the latest in the current phenomenon of placing real life and historical figures and placing them in different if not supernatural situations (see Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer among others). And it wasn’t only native American Indians that Lewis and Clark encountered but also the weird and unexplainable.

During the ages of discovery, men left the safety of their homes for flag and country (and the promise of eternal youth and gold among many others) to seek new frontiers across land and sea. In essence it was to claim new territory. They came back with tales of terrifying monsters and creatures. Anything new to them was a monster.

The original expedition wasn’t only some scientific expedition, they were sent out to map the undiscovered country and to declare these lands as property of the United States of America before the European powers could claim them for themselves.

Dingess keeps that premise but from the very beginning inserts some tension with the expedition party by including convicts who have been conscripted into this journey in exchange for a pardon. So there’s danger from outward and from within. Jensen, a convicted murderer is like having The Walking Dead’s Shane for company. In the very first issue, he murders one of the soldiers who accidentally discovered his plans to desert the expedition party at the first possible opportunity.

And there’s his diary entry about small game and Indians being their only encounters. You know that is not going to be the case or else, there wouldn’t be this comic book.

On their way to La Charrette (populated by moss-covered zombies), the last European-American settlement on the Missouri River (the boundary between their known world and the unknown), the Corps of Discovery comes across an arch that looks like a gateway (and one I suspect should provide an inspiration for the St. Louis Gateway Arch later on although that was constructed in 1963 and not in 19th century America). While Lewis wonders what to make of the arch, they are attacked by a Minotaur-like creature that wounds Sergeant Parker who will be murdered by Jensen. As someone who has extensively read American history, I only have a passing knowledge of the mythology of Native Americans. I do know that in Blackfoot and Cheyenne beliefs, there is a Buffalo monster that haunts them. Could this be that creature?

In the second issue, there’s this female elemental who jumps from a cliff to the ground below that somewhat reminds me of the Swamp Thing. It’s also a matter of time when this creature is revealed.

The first two issues were a perfect blend of characterization and action. In the space of a few panels and pages, Dingess reveals the motivations of the characters. In some pre-release interviews, the author says that his lead characters will not always be heroic. Their frailties will be on display in issues to come and all I can say it, it cannot come soon enough. As for the rest of the expedition party? They are there to ratchet up the body count.

Matthew Roberts’ detailed and expressive art is a treat and perfect for bring to life this strange old yet new world. His monsters are frightening. His facial expressions are very expressive. Roberts brings to life the expedition and the mythological creatures of Native American culture.

If you thought that the Sasquatch was the only “mythological creature” in American culture then be prepared for a “history” lesson.

Furthermore, the cover to the second issue alone showing a tomahawk embedded in a human skull is alone worth the cover price.

I can’t wait for them to introduce Sacagawea, the Shoshone Indian who in real life accompanied the Corps of Discovery as their guide and interpreter. But judging by the cover art for the fourth issue of Manifest Destiny, she’s some monster slayer too.

It’s only been two issues but I’ve been hooked by Manifest Destiny. Was the wild and untamed West the final frontier? Nope. It’s comics like these that push the boundaries of great storytelling.

That’s how much I have been hooked by this new series that has television series option written all over it.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Trese: The Case of the Book of Diabolical Delights.

Trese: The Case of the Book of Diabolical Delights.
by rick olivares

Reviewing Trese: Book of Murders
358 pages compiling Cases #1-13
Published by Visprint

Why is being the sixth so important?
-       From The Baptism of Alexandra Trese

The sixth child of Anton Trese, the former guardian of Metro Manila against supernatural beings such as the tikbalang, aswang, and wicked elementals, has the capacity to bring about a great age for the underworld or to become their scourge.

From the earliest of superhero comics, the stories have always been the reimagining of mythical characters in a heroic and modern setting. Jerry Siegel’s and Joe Shuster’s Superman was inspired by Samson and Hercules. Soon after, fans were treated to Wonder Woman, an Amazon; and Flash, a character created with a nod towards the Greek god Mercury. And it has been pretty much the same formula since.

There have been many similar stories through the years in popular media where gods or mythical creatures live amongst modern man – Sandman, Aria, Fables, Neverwhere, Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, Underworld, are but a few.

For Budjette Tan’s and KaJo Baldisimo’s Trese, the writer-artist team bring together the mythical creatures from Philippine culture and place them in a modern setting. Not just in a modern urban setting but in Crime Scene Investigation manner.

So with Trese, think Kolchak The Night Stalker (probably granddaddy of this particular genre as it ran on television from 1974-75 and is a show I keenly followed) and Joss Whedon’s Angel.

When I first read Trese during its initial release in late 2005, what first jumped into my mind was James Robinson’s and Paul Smith’s excellent “Leave It To Chance” where the daughter of Lucas Falconer, Chance, becomes Devil’s Echo’s protector against the supernatural.

“Leave It To Chance” produced 13 issues that were published irregularly by Image Comics from September of 1996 up to July 2002. It was discontinued after the 13th issue despite winning several awards including the Harvey Award for Best New Series and Eisner Awards for Best New Series and Best Title for Young Readers in 1997. A re-print collection of the first four issues was the top vote getter for Comic Buyer’s Guide Fan Award for 1998.

Ironically, Trese is about Alexandra Trese, who takes over from her father Anton, as the protector of Manila from the weird and supernatural.

But maybe because Paul Smith’s bright and sunny artwork is intended for a younger audience; Leave It To Chance is like Nancy Drew.

Trese isn’t at all like that. It’s dark, moody, and terrifying. It is a creepier Night Stalker/Angel* because what Filipino did not grow up hearing about all these supernatural beings? Even if you didn’t believe the nuno sa punso when you passed by one, you always said, ‘Tabi tabi po’ just to be sure.

Trese isn’t for the weak. It’s violent yet the blood and gore never goes overboard just like every good horror story. The idea isn’t to make one squeamish but to feel the hair on your arms stand up.

Tan’s writing isn’t long and winded. In fact, the backstories of all the characters are seamlessly worked in without you realizing it.

And that’s the hallmark of a good story.


Why is Trese important?
-       My question

Trese mines our rich culture for a terrific storyline that although owes its inspirations from our Western counterparts yet is at once our very own. I have to admit I was a little skeptical at first. But as a kid, I loved reading those reprinted Tales of Lola Basyang and that kid called “Kangkong” who fought supernatural creatures and I’ve seen Budjette’s previous work so who am I not to give this a chance.

And the black and white artwork of Baldisimo fits the story just fine. It adds to the noir feel of the story. The line work isn’t too heavy and dark. Excellent use of white and dark spaces so you never feel like it’s muddled. Overall, the story has the feel of Mike Mignola’s ‘Hellboy’ and ‘Blood: The Last Vampire” that means it keeps you on the edge as you know something wicked this way comes.

You’re engrossed not only in the story but you find yourself investing in the characters. You want to know more about Alexandra Trese, the Kambal (who certainly demand a story of their own), Captain Guerrero who is this book’s Commissioner Gordon, and all the supernatural beings that become a part of the book. The nuno sa manhole is frigging brilliant. Oscar the Grouch is officially out of business!

Trese unfolds like a casebook of crimes that takes the reader through different parts of Metro Manila with each issue introducing us to the spirits living in the material world and how they have integrated into society. You’ll have fun identifying names and how their lives have intertwined with urban legends from Balete Drive to the serpent that allegedly haunts the malls of a Taipan.

I am not going to give away plotlines in this review. That is for you to find out. I am just telling you why Trese deserves your time and attention because I wouldn’t be surprised one day is this is optioned for a film or even a television series like The Walking Dead.

You see Trese is that diabolically good.

Now don’t you dare make a wrong turn and end up in that dimly lit side of the metro.

* Kolchak was an investigative reporter while Angel was a vampire with a soul who worked as a private detective dedicated to “helping the helpless” while battling demons and humans allied with these supernatural beings.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Peter Pan story for the new millennium -- Image Comics' Peter Panzerfaust

As a war buff and fan of history, I picked up two "war" comics books with a revisionist bent -- Avatar Comics' Uber and Image Comics' Peter Panzerfaust. 

I picked up the first issue of Peter Panzerfaust on a whim. I had a little extra money to spend and with my shift to more indie comics, I took a chance on the title despite not knowing anything about it all.

By the first issue's end, I was... er, forgive the word... hooked. Imagine Peter Pan and all the characters from the story set in France during World War II. All I can say is -- it's a brave new world. 

I never read J.M. Barrie's writings and believed the character to be a Disney creation until I was in my college years. And I have to admit that I still haven't read it to this day. I saw the movies and the plays. And aside from the original Disney cartoon, my other image of Peter Pan was in Steven Speilberg's HOOK that I loved. 

Doing my research about J.M. Barrie's character, it turns out that the Scottish writer never fully described Peter. All he wrote was he had his first teeth and he is a beautiful boy with a beautiful smile, "clad in skeleton leaves and the juices that flow from trees".

So that virtually leaves Peter to the imagination of those who read the book that first came out in 1902.

On to Peter Panzerfaust. 

Peter is an American boy in France helping some orphans (the Lost Boys) fight against the invading Nazis. Just as Bill Willingham mined popular Fairy Tales for Fables, so does the creative team of writer Kurtis J. Wiebe and artist Tyler Jenkins do for Barrie's set of characters. Everyone is here -- Wendy Darling, Tiger Lily, the Indians. I can't wait for Tinkerbelle's actual appearance. 

As for Captain Hook? His villainy will hound Peter and the Lost Boys all the more. In his Nazi character, he could be like Malcolm McDowell's sadistic Nazi officer role, Captain Von Berkow, in the 1979 film The Passage. Maybe even more and that leads to more explosive confrontation between him and Pan.

After the first issue, I didn't pick up another as I decided to wait for the trade version. And boy, I am glad I did because the Deluxe Edition (collecting the first 10 issues in hardcover format) that came out today Wednesday all over the world contains the notes of Wiebe and sketches of Jenkins. Wiebe's notes made me appreciate the book more as he imputed Barrie's words and various Peter Pan-isms in all the story (and the artwork). If you ask me, the Deluxe Edition makes for a much better read for all.   

I cannot honestly say where the creative team is taking this story and I think that is great. While it is quite obvious that Europe and France will be liberated from the Nazis, Peter and the Lost Boys' role in all -- as part of the underground resistance -- has to be told. 

Now I am in a quandary -- do I get the individual issues to satisfy my Peter Panzerfaust fix or do I wait a few more months for the second volume? And furthermore, I have to get a copy of Barrie's book now so I can even appreciate more what Wiebe and Jenkins are doing. 

But isn't that the purpose of a comic book -- to get you thinking some? 

It's a great read folks.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Art with Heart at FullyBooked November 16

Last Saturday, November 16, my fave comic book specialty store, Comic Odyssey, and my favorite book specialty store, Fully Booked, held a charity event for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda (international code name: Haiyan). Top Filipino comic book artists and rising indie illustrators got together to provide sketches for fans. I haven't attended anything like this since 2004 (and that was in New York) and it was a whole lot of fun. Tepai Pascual, who drew Maktan, sketched for me one of my fave Marvel heroes in Cyclops! Cool.

Old friend Ariel Atienza drew one of my favorite comic book characters of all time -- the late Dave Stevens' The Rocketeer.

Got to have a Batgirl print signed by superstar artist Jay Anacleto as well. His Aria series with writer Brian Holguin for Image Comics remain a favorite to this day.

Stephen Segovia signed a Batman print for me! The dude has amazing art!

The pictures above and below are from the art auction. The one on top is a gorgeous illustration of Tony Stark while below, these are artworks from an Indonesian artist.

Friday, November 1, 2013

An Uber-cool comic: Kieron Gillen & Caanan White's UBER

Uber Vol. 1 Enhanced Edition (Avatar US $34.99) 366 pages

The idea of superhumans during wartime is nothing new. Captain America is living testament to that idea and various creative teams have played with that through the years. There was also the Justice Society of America and the Invaders to name a few others.

So what makes Uber different? Well, it is not a superhero story. It’s a war story with superhumans. Uber is set during the last days of World War II with real characters like Adolf Hitler; German general Heinz Guderian, the architect tank warfare; British Prime Minister Winston Churchill; and Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery.

With the Russians advancing towards Berlin and German resistance crumbling, the “Panzermensch” are deployed to devastating effect. With the Russians pushed back and Romania “liberated” from the communists, it looks like the war will go on as opposed to ending.

One of the scientists working on the uber project is actually a British spy. The spy sabotages the uber testing grounds and escapes to the west where with her stolen chemicals is able to create Allied super soldiers. And you can imagine what kind of explosive encounter that will turn out to be when the German and Allied forces collide.

But don’t think that these super soldiers are indestructible. They have their weak points too and it would be interesting to see how this plays out in the end and where this “technology” will take the post-World War II world of Kieron Gillen and Caanan White.

As a war buff who has read, watched, and collected a variety of material on all things military, I had to get this. With scripts by Gillen (Phonogram, Thor, X-Men) and artwork by new find White, Uber is a further testament to the adage that “war is hell”. If you like the Japanese cyberpunk film Akira then the energy bolts thrown about by Battleship Sieglinde will remind you of energy waves that were used by Tetsuo to devastating effect in that anime classic.

There are three “Battleship” class German super soldiers – Siegfried, Siegmund, and Sieglinde. Of the three, I find Sieglinde fascinating. It’s this Wonder Woman gone wrong feel about Sieglinde who not only strikes a statuesque pose but also looks every bit as dangerous. Just when you think that they are nothing more than monsters with an appetite for destruction, during one moment of downtime, it is almost as if Siegfried and Sieglinde have reverted to the people they once more. But only the short exchange that borders on the psychopathic when they discuss where their next offensives are. Clearly, whatever has transformed them from human to post-human has also made them demented. And that opens up the story to more interesting sub-plots (the authors have said that Uber will last up to 60 issues and to date there have been six not counting the zero issue).

White’s art has this raw feel to it that with all the blood, gore, and the body parts and entrails (yes, I have to mention that) spilling all over the place, I wonder if he is auditioning for The Walking Dead should Charlie Adlard decide to give up the penciling chores.

The Enhanced Collection includes issues #0-5 and are essentially the stories from the Western front (beginning issue #6, the story moves to the Pacific Theater). Also included are several interviews with the book’s creators, notes, sketches, and all the various cover art and promotional material used for Uber.

There are only 5,000 copies of this Enhanced edition (the softcover trades will be out in 2014). If you haven’t read this and aren’t into indie stuff then this is a perfect jumping on point.

Saying goodbye to the mainstream; hello, Indie.

Saying goodbye to the mainstream; hello, Indie.
by rick olivares

This year, 2013, is probably the first year since the explosion of Image Comics where I began to buy a lot more independent comic book titles.

When Image first came out, I picked up all their titles (Youngblood, Spawn, Wildcats, Wetworks, Cyberforce, Savage Dragon and Shadowhawk) along with stuff coming out from Dark Horse (Sin City, Nexus, X, Ghost, and Alien vs. Predator), Valiant (X-O Manowar and Turok). There was Pacific Comics’ The Rocketeer when I could find it.

But I soon dropped many of them as they lacked substance with most opting to present flashy art that were nothing but Jim Lee clones. So I reverted back to the traditional Marvel and DC books that I read.

The one indie title I kept was Nexus. On a rack teeming with superheroes, he was the anti-hero. The covers screamed super-heroes but it was more than that. It was a space opera/science fiction/Dr. Seuss/dark comedy about a cosmic assassin haunted by dreams that instructed him to put the kibosh on the bad guys. And I loved it and still do. If I were to name my favorite comic book of all time it would be Nexus.

That was supposed to be Uncanny X-Men. That title is singularly responsible for my loving this four-colored medium. It is the one title that I have collected for the longest time. But my love for the X-Men, Spider-Man and Daredevil has waned over the years. And I can say that after having read everything that has been put out in the last 42 years.

I feel that the majority of DC and Marvel comics published today are all spawns of Frank Miller’s Born Again saga in Daredevil (where they put the heroes through hell and back) and Chris Claremont’s X-Men tome Days of Future Past (where the heroes’ end of days is chronicled), and Alan Moore’s The Watchmen (heroes gone mad and bad).

You might wonder where is The Dark Knight Returns? Sorry, but if there is any apocalyptic future that inspired a lot then it is Days of Future Past and it came out way ahead of The Dark Knight that isn’t technically part of any Batman future. In fact, it paved the way for DC’s Elseworlds line.

In the last 20 years, comics have become events with supposed death stories, paper versions of Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, and revisionist yarns. The latter especially rankles me. How many times has DC tried to reboot its Universe? And then they trumpet their new storylines and number one issues. Ah, all designed to get more money out of the fans’ pockets.

What every happened to good old storytelling? The render moot Peter Parker’s marriage, send the young X-Men into the present, or even create a new universe with 52 titles.

I remember reading an interview with Marv Wolfman and George Perez about what went wrong with post-Crisis on Infinite Earths – that DC did not reboot all the titles from issue #1. This time they did it but rather than start with an origin story for its characters they had all this backstory where you aren’t sure what from the old universe is real and what isn’t?

I am displeased with the direction the X-Men titles have taken. It’s all Wolverine this and Wolverine that. I hate what Marvel has done trying to foist the character upon all that he is in almost every team out there that’s it’s become a joke. He is not an Avenger. When there’s a cry of “Avengers Assemble” you see him charging out there with his claws extracted. Why are you popping your claws if you aren’t going to disembowel foes? What was the whole point of the recent Battle of the Atom storyline? You expect me to believe that a Trojan gambit in the Infinity War was going to work?

The recent Joker story – The Death of the Family – left me angry. This is what it has come to – racking up body counts where it is a joke to try and throw the Joker in jail and try and rehabilitate him. Osama Bin Laden had his men blow up the World Trade Center and he got Navy Seals shoving lead up his ass for his trouble.

What was the point of the Trinity War? Another chance for superhero to fight one another? Then it’s followed by Villains Forever. Hello, Civil War-DC style.

The Big Two has been pretty much short on vision and terrific storytelling and large on gimmicks and tried and tested storylines. The basis for a Big Two story is – make each her go through hell and comeback.

The two terrific and must-read books that Marvel put out with solid storytelling and artwork – Mark Waid’s Daredevil and Ed Brubaker’s Captain America – and they reboot the issue all over again but it’s not the same.

And sad to say it, but I am pretty much done with DC and Marvel. I can say that with finality after reading and collecting their books for about 42 years now. I feel bad because it’s like losing an old friend but at the same time I am happy because there are a lot of alternatives out there.

Not since 1992 have I have purchased more indie comics. Unlike that wave of creampuff releases (Youngblood looked like it was conceived, written and drawn by a third grader), there’s a lot to like today.

Dark Horse
I collect the two titles that I first read back in those early 1990s – Nexus and Mike Mignola’s Hellboy. I love how Dark Horse has collected all the old Nexus material into Omnibus volumes; it’s cheaper and it gives new readers a jumping on point. Although I hope they do the same for the issues from the past 10 years or so. Hellboy, since it’s inception, I have collected and read eagerly.

The three new titles I picked up are Godzilla (Seriously! I kinda enjoy all this monster/Kaiju stuff), Shaolin Cowboy (Geoff Darrow at his finest) and The Massive (about a post-Global Warming earth).

After many of the original founders left taking with them their excuses to get geeks’ hormones raging, the company was turned over to Jim Valentino who proceeded to bring in a lot of independent creators with an emphasis on quality and innovative storytelling.

That second phase proved successful and it was followed by his successors as editors-in-chiefs Erik Larsen and Eric Stephenson.

In fact, Image has cemented its name as the indie outfits with some really groundbreaking stories. Here is what I read now: The Walking Dead, Saga (a space opera set against a backdrop of an interstellar war between two races), The Manhattan Projects (an alternate future where the creators of the atomic bomb are a think tank for mad scientists), Peter Panzerfaust (a retelling of the Peter Pan fairytale set in World War II France), Rat Queens (a fantasy story about a band of assassins), Rocket Girl (about a teenage cop sent back into the past to investigate a corporation’s crimes against time), Sidekick (about a superhero who never quite made it; it has the feel of James Robinson’s excellent Elseworlds story from DC - The Golden Age), and Velvet (a spy story). 

I have loved and enjoyed the late Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer ever since I discovered the old books at a bargain bin. I have his collected editions but have been mostly disappointed in IDW’s new books where they come up with short arcs that really do not amount to much. The recent team up with The Spirit is actually the best one that has come out since Cliff’s New York Adventure, the last that Stevens’ wrote and drew.

Danger Girl. Came out initially as an Image title but has since moved to IDW. The Charlie’s Angles of the four-color print medium.

Kurt Busiek’s Astro City has long been a favorite of mine. It has moved houses from Image to Vertigo. One of the initial offerings from Homage Comics (along with the excellent Leave It To Chance), expect a monthly dose of solid storytelling that takes the superhero genre to a whole new level.

Bill Willingham’s Fables is pure genius. It is amazing how he has kept at this for 11 years now (and still going strong).

The one book I get is Uber, a story set in World War II where a Nazi Germany in its death throes unleashes a cadre of supermen on the advancing Allied and Russian forces. The result is catastrophic and the Allies have to come up with their solution to counteract these weapons of mass destruction. The art could really use some work but I still enjoy it.

Oni Press
It was only recently that I began to pick up Oni Press’ books and I have picked them up a chunk of their titles.

It started out with The Mysterious Strangers, a book with retro kitsch in mind that harkens back to the old Avengers of Emma Peel and company. It’s not heavy but it reminds me of why I read comics in the first place – they were supposed to be fun.

I love Greg Rucka’s Stumptown, a detective story where its heroine every bit mortal and real. At times I feel like I am reading Frank Miller’s and David Mazzuchelli’s Batman: Year One mashed with old television show The Rockford Files.

I also picked up the one-shot Toy Story-inspired Wars in Toyland although it’s a one-shot graphic novel. I tried out The Avalon Chronicles that will remind one of The Chronicles of Narnia. It has a nice feel to it but I am not really crazy about the black and white line art that is actually weak.

The one Oni Press book that has become a must read and collect is The Sixth Gun. It’s a Western horror story that is written and drawn in a manner that evokes the great Paul Smith.

Think Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider meets Hellboy. The result is a lushly drawn and wonderfully written book that shoots up to the top of my list of five favorite books right now (alongside) Astro City, Fables, Saga, and Sidekick.

It also should be noted that since 1992, there have been at least 21 indie comics that have adapted in film or television with some to great success – 30 Days of Night, 300, The Adventures of Tintin, Alien vs. Predator, The Crow, Dick Tracy, Hellboy, Judge Dredd, Kick Ass, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Red, Road to Perdition, The Rocketeer, Scott Pilgrim, Sin City, Spawn, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, The Walking Dead, and Wanted.

If you’re not really a comic book reader, I’ll bet you’re surprised that many of these films owe their inspiration and start to indie comic books.

Having said that, here are some books that should be adapted into film or television:
The Sixth Gun (there was the failed pilot episode)
Y The Last Man
Daytripper. Yes, Daytripper that I will swear fealty to until the day I die (and that is fitting given the story).

If you’re looking to get into indie comics here are some titles that have a beginning and an end so it isn’t too pricey for you to pick up:
Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba’s Daytripper (Vertigo)
Cairo by G. Willow Wilson and M.K. Perker (Vertigo)
Bill Willingham’s Fables (oops this is on-going but pick up the first volume of the collected editions; you’ll thank me for this one fine day). (Vertigo)
Habibi by Craig Thompson (Pantheon)
Frank Miller’s 300. (Dark Horse)
The Cackle of the Frost (Fantagraphics)

Other stuff that I have enjoyed but have ceased publication: Tom Strong, Promethea, Leave It To Chance, and Aria. 

It’s a tough decision to give up on the old stuff I used to read from Marvel and DC but the alternatives are just as good if not better. Besides, if I want to read some great Spidey stuff, I’ll just pull out my Lee-Ditko, Stern-Romita Jr. comics or the old Claremont-Byrne and Claremont-Lee X-Men.


Some people have asked me why I still read comic books at my age. My answer is, I grew up on them. I grew up on baseball, Sports Illustrated, paperback novels, CDs, and football jerseys. I still am very much in touch with my hobbies to this day. So that’s your answer.

In fact, I am voracious reader who reads a lot from the New York Times, Time, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, World Soccer, Four Four Two, Reader’s Digest, and Bleeding Cool.