Comic Books Archives

Ghosted: Haunted Heist

Over on the Kirkus Reviews Blog, I have a new post up on Ghosted Volume One: Haunted Heist from Image comics.

From the post:

Imagine Ocean’s Eleven if the heist was all about the supernatural, specifically, stealing a ghost.  In Ghosted: Haunted Heist (978-1607068365) by Joshua Williamson and Goran Sudzuka, Jackson T. Winters is tasked with that very mission: steal a ghost.   Continuing the Ocean’s Eleven comparison, imagine if during the middle of that movie, everyone except Clooney’s character was killed, and he ended up in prison.  Then someone broke him out of prison, dragged him to a rich, possibly insane, multi-millionaire collector of the supernatural, who offers him his freedom in exchange for the one thing that will make his collection the envy of his peers: a ghost.

Click over to the Kirkus Reviews Blog to read the rest of the post.

Greetings, dear reader.

Rick explained the origins of “Nexus Graphica” in his reboot column last month — in fact referring to our original chat where we came up with the title, I discovered that my predilection for cutting prepositions was, well, predilectin’, even back then.

Which, given my sideline as a journalist, is no surprise. I’m always trying to cut those preps when and where I can.  Though I guess “sideline” brings up its own conundrums: Am I a journalist moonlighting as a novelist, or is it the reverse? Or am I a writing teacher who does both? It probably depends which of those particular hats has last paid for a bag of groceries.
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Things I’ve written: a few novels, a few short stories, a column on this very website extolling the virtues of comics as a medium for speculative fiction. Now, for better or worse, I’ve written an actual comic too: Rogue Trooper, published by IDW, issue #1 of which is in comic book shops and digital outlets including but not limited to Comixology this very week.

So what happens when a novelist tries to write a comic? Herewith, a select few of the very many things that have occurred to me as I’ve begun to learn this new craft.
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SF Author Guy Hasson writes in to tell us that he has launched New Worlds Comics, an digital-only comics line that promises to “bring the highest level of science fiction and fantasy to comic books.”

At launch, New Worlds Comics is available for the iPad only via iTunes. Within two months, it will also be available for the iPhone, then Android, then the web.

Following is New Worlds Comics manifesto
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Top Ten Superhero-Free Dystopian Comics

The last fifteen years have seen an enormous resurgence in the popularity of comics. So much so, in fact, that some are arguing that we are living in the second golden age of comics. Everywhere you look, our culture is inundated with comics; their imagery pervades our toy shelves, our theaters, our televisions, our tablets, and our game systems. Yet, even amid skyrocketing sales and increasing cultural ubiquity, there is still an ever-present mainstream majority that looks upon comics with contempt, as though somehow, the very medium were somehow inferior to other storytelling traditions.

Sadly, the latest round of comic-shaming was recently launched by industry giant Alan Moore himself, who claims that our ongoing obsession with superheroes could prove to be “culturally catastrophic.” But I’m here to tell you, that comics aren’t always about superheroes. In fact, some the best comics ever published are completely superhero-free. And, far from “having given up on attempting to understand the reality they are actually living in,” many young adults are turning to comics not to escape, but to better understand the world that they are living in through allegory, metaphor, and satire.
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Alan Moore’s Nemo: Heart of Ice

This week on the Kirkus Reviews blog, I take a look at Alan Moore’s Nemo: Heart of Ice.

From the post:

Moore revisits the world he created in The League of Extraordinary Gentleman in a new book, Nemo: Heart of Ice, which focuses on Janni Dakkar, daughter of Captain Nemo, and her trek across Antarctica to prove herself by recreating Nemo’s own Antarctic expedition. Moore draws from several sources, including H.P. Lovercraft, to create a dark and mysterious continent full of dangers and madness. As a character, Janni feels the weight of the Nemo name and legacy set squarely on her shoulders, and struggles throughout the book to come to terms with that.

Click on over to the Kirkus Blog to read the rest of the review.

Today at Kirkus: A Review of Lazarus One

This week on the Kirkus Reviews Blog, I take a look at Lazarus One from Image Comics.

From the post:

In the future, the world is split not into countries, but fiefdoms controlled by the Families.  The human population is divided into three segments: Family, who control everything, Serfs who have the skills and intelligence necessary to serve and be useful to the Family, and the Waste, who serve no purpose at all.  Each Family has one member who is trained to be something more.  Warrior, messenger, protector, envoy – whatever the situation calls for, the Family Lazarus is there to further the Family’s ends, and protect them from all threats, internal and external.  The Lazarus can be shot, cut, beaten, blown up, take an enormous about of damage, and walk away – eventually.  Their bodies can heal themselves, bones can reset and nit, cuts close, bruises fade.  A Lazarus is nearly indestructible.

Click over to the Kirkus Reviews Blog to read the rest of the review.

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

When Mark London Williams and I decided to move our long running SF Site column Nexus Graphica to SF Signal, we decided that we needed to announce our presence with a bang. Hence, this Mind Meld was born, in which we asked our esteemed panelists this question:

Q: What graphic novels are part of your desert island collection?

The only caveat we gave the contributors that their selections could not include the obvious books such as Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, Maus, and their ilk.

I’ll return next month with the first installment of the new Nexus Graphica and Mark issues his first SF Signal contribution in March. We’ll alternated columns every other month, culminating with a special two parter in December, featuring our annual best of the year lists. But more on this in February.

For now, enjoy the confab.
(And be sure to check out Part 1!)

Joe R. Lansdale
Mojo Storyteller Joe R. Lansdale is the author of over thirty novels and numerous short stories. His work has appeared in national anthologies, magazines, and collections, as well as numerous foreign publications. He has written for comics, television, film, newspapers, and Internet sites. His work has been collected in eighteen short-story collections, and he has edited or co-edited over a dozen anthologies. He has received the Edgar Award, eight Bram Stoker Awards, the Horror Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award, the British Fantasy Award, and many others. His novella Bubba Hotep was adapted to film by Don Coscarelli, starring Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis. He is currently co-producing several films, among them The Bottoms, based on his Edgar Award-winning novel, with Bill Paxton and Brad Wyman, and The Drive-In, with Greg Nicotero.

DC archives. All of them. Dell and Gold Key archives. End of story

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[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

When Mark London Williams and I decided to move our long running SF Site column Nexus Graphica to SF Signal, we decided that we needed to announce our presence with a bang. Hence, this Mind Meld was born, in which we asked our esteemed panelists this question:

Q: What graphic novels are part of your desert island collection?

The only caveat we gave the contributors that their selections could not include the obvious books such as Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, Maus, and their ilk.

I’ll return next month with the first installment of the new Nexus Graphica and Mark issues his first SF Signal contribution in March. We’ll alternated columns every other month, culminating with a special two parter in December, featuring our annual best of the year lists. But more on this in February.

For now, enjoy the confab.
(And be sure to check out Part 2!)

Walter Simonson
Over the years, Walter Simonson has written and/or drawn a lot of comics for various companies including the NY Times bestselling Alien graphic novel, Manhunter, the Metal Men, Superman, Batman, Thor, X-Factor, Fantastic Four, RoboCop vs. the Terminator, X-Men vs. the Teen Titans, Orion, Elric: The Making of a Sorcerer written by Michael Moorcock, and The Judas Coin. Currently, Walter is writing and drawing Ragnarök, a creator-owned comic book, to be published in 2014 by IDW.

Sharaz-De by Sergio Toppi. Beautiful beautiful drawing, and at last, there’s an English version!

The Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius (as it was originally called) by Moebius. Completely wonked-out story with drawing ranging from cartoony to super-elegant by Moebius. Lovely work.

The entire Modesty Blaise run of Peter O’Donnell and Jim Holdaway. It’s not in a single volume so I’m not sure how this works for a desert island, but it’s my favorite run of a newspaper strip and very influential in my work.

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VIDEO: The History of The Joker

Is there any other villain in comics more reknowned than the Joker?

Here’s VariantComics’ excellent look at the history of the Clown Prince of Crime…

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Planetoid by Ken Garing

This week over at the Kirkus Reviews Blog, I take a look at Planetoid by Ken Garing.  Holy crap.

From the post:

In my constant search to find new and cool things for this column, I came across a cover that made me pause and stare for a bit.  I know, I know – you aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover.  But still, we do it all the time.  In this case, the cover had this vibe about it, harkening back to the pulpish covers without the usual exploitation – there was no scantily clad vixen clinging to the over-muscled hero type.  As much as the cover invoked the pulps of the past, there was also this starkness to it.  All of these things resonated with me.  I couldn’t help but pick it up.  And now, having read the book cover to cover in one sitting, I have to say – I’m certainly glad that I did.

Sounds cool, right?  Well, read the rest of the review over at the Kirkus Blog.

Friday YouTube: Batman vs. Superman (in Lego)

In case anyone was wondering how Btaman might fare against Superman, well, this Lego animation pretty much summarizes it.

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Harry Dresden is Back in Ghoul Goblin

Jim Butcher may be in between Dresden Files novels at the moment, but Harry’s adventures continue – this time in a bridge story that takes place between Fool Moon and Grave Peril – books 2 and 3.  Ghoul Goblin is that story, and the focus of my Kirkus post this week.

From the post:

I talked about the Dynamite adaptation of Butcher’s Storm Front before.  They did a great job, and followed it up with another adaptation – book 2 of The Dresden Files: Fool MoonGhoul Goblin is a new, original story set between Fool Moon and book 3, Grave Peril.  Harry is hired to help a small town in Missouri where a family has recently lost two members, both under mysterious circumstances.  The Talbot family, Harry discovers, are cursed, and have been for a long time.  Worse, creatures from the NeverNever are hunting them, and only Harry has any hope of stopping them.  But the more time he spends in Boone Mill, the more the mystery deepens.

Click on over to the Kirkus Blog to read the rest of the post.

Death Walks Among Us in Jonathon Hickman’s East of West

Over on Kirkus today, I take a look at another fantastic book from Image Comics – Jonathon Hickman’s East of West.

From the post:

Alternate histories have been a staple of science fiction for a very long time.  Some look so much like ours you can’t see the differences until they’re right up on you, while others feature drastic, sweeping changes – East of West is one of these.  The American Civil War continued on far longer than it should have.  The Indian Nations became one and threw their hats into the ring.  By the end, the continent of North America was split into the Seven Nations of America.  Fast forward hundreds of years and thee of the Four Horseman of the apocalypse, are working to bring about that end.  The fourth, Death?  Well, he’s on a more personal quest.  And the other three want him dead.

Click over to the Kirkus Reviews Blog for the rest of the post.

We’ve arrived at what’s going to be the last of these columns for a while, quite possibly for good. But we’ll get to the signing off bit at the end. First, a comic that feels kind of fitting as a coda to this whole rambling discourse about the medium.

Why fitting? Partly because it’s heroic fantasy – Conan, THE heroic fantasy some might say – and that’s a sub-genre my own prose writing has often ventured into, so it feels kind of right that I finally get around to talking about it in this here column.  Oddly, compared to horror or science fiction at least, secondary world fantasy in general is a speculative genre that hasn’t acquired really hefty traction in the comics medium.  The reasons for that aren’t entirely obvious to me, but in any case Conan is an exception, having a loooong list of comics in his history.  This volume of which we speak today is the first in a continuing run by writer Brian Wood, paired with a succession of interesting artists.

More importantly, it’s fitting because this is an adaptation of a story about a character who has been the subject (victim might be more apt) of several adaptations in the film medium. It therefore gives me a chance to parade my pro-comics bias by insisting that this is a better and more interesting adaptation than any Conan movie has been.
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Words and Pictures: An Interview with John Higgins

John Higgins was an important part of the process that turned younger me into a dedicated fan of comics. The truth is, though, that back then I probably didn’t really understand just how important he was, because his original specialty was colouring comics and my appreciation of the absolutely crucial and skilled role such folks play in the medium was, I confess, rudimentary in those early days.

John coloured Watchmen and Batman: The Killing Joke, two of the iconic and in many ways transformative comics of the 1980s, and his work on them undoubtedly broke new colouring ground. His talents don’t remotely end there, though. He’s an accomplished comics artist, with a diverse body of work that includes lots of output for 2000AD in the UK and the big US publishers.

As if that wasn’t enough, he’s also a writer, which brings us to the excuse for this interview: the publication by Titan Comics of a re-mastered collected edition of Razorjack, a character and series he created, wrote, illustrated and coloured. We talk about that, of course, but cover a lot of other ground too …
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Zack Snyder’s Super-Cool Superman 75th Anniversary Animated Video

What’s the best way to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Superman’s appearance? If you’re film director Zack Snyder, you put together this video celebrating the Man of Steel’s decades-long run.

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When I first started reading manga, I had a self-imposed rule (more of a guideline, I suppose): don’t start reading a series unless you’ve got a pretty good idea how many volumes it’s going to run to. I was trying to defend my time and budget in the face of manga’s tendency to produce series that just go on and on and on …

Well, so much for that. Two new series here that could go on forever, for all I know. I couldn’t resist trying them anyway, since one is by an artist I particularly like and the other is the hot new thing in manga, both in Japan and the West. A proper, license-to-print money kind of hit.

These two comics share the age-old manga theme of man vs monsters. In both we have Humanity at Bay! Barely Sentient Monsters on the Prowl! Elite Young Heroes Rising to Mankind’s Defence! In fact, they have an enormous number of similarities, but they still manage to be utterly and completely different. I like it when that kind of thing happens. One’s mecha sf, one’s … well, kind of hard to categorise but let’s call it a horror/sf hybrid.
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Gail Carriger’s Soulless The Manga: Volume 1

Soulless, the first book in Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, turned four years old this week, so over on the Kirkus Reviews Blog, I thought I’d take a look at the Manga version of the book.

From the post:

Miss Alexia Tarabotti lives in Victorian England.  She enjoys high tea, reading books, the company of her very best friend, Ivy Hisselpenny, and the vampire, Lord Akeldama.  Alexia’s family sees her as a spinster, too old to marry, and a bit of an oddball for not caring one-whit about it.  She lives with her mother, step-father, and two step-sisters.  When a starving vampire attacks her at a social event, he is shocked to learn that Alexia is a preternatural, a ‘soulless’ being who has the power to render the supernatural mortal through touch.  She is forced to kill the vampire, which only complicates matters.  Lord Maccon, a werewolf, a member of the Bureau of Unnatural Registry, and the Earl of Woolsey, arrives to investigate.  He and Alexia spar verbally, but she is sent home.  The next day, she is invited to visit the Countess Nadasdy, Vampire Queen of the Westminster Hive…

Click on over to Kirkus Reviews Blog to read the rest of the review.

Saga, Vol. 1

In honor of it winning the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story, I thought I’d go ahead and take a look at Saga: Volume 1 this week on the Kirkus Blog.

From the post:

From the mind of Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man) and illustrated by Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, North 40), Saga: Volume 1 (978-1607066019) tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers out to leave their past behind and start a new life together.  Alana is a winged-being from the world known as Landfall.  Her world is at war with the inhabitants of their moon, called Wreath.  Drafted to fight in that war, Alana eventually found herself working as a prison guard where she met Marko.  Born of Wreath, Marko, too, was a soldier.  His race has horns and can wield magic, whereas the people of Landfall are technologically superior.  Somehow, the two fell in love and decided to desert their respective armies and build a new life together.  That new life is complicated by the arrival of Hazel, their child, who represents something neither side of the war thought possible; genetic compatibility.

Click on over to the Kirkus Blog to read the rest of my review.

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