Thursday, April 24, 2014
Review: Art Bee
People as a whole are more interested in their own existences than others, so writing your own story in such a manner as to create interest in your life and experiences is the hurdle to clear. For a few this hurdle is only knee high and easy to get over. Presidents, royalty, professional sport stars, and other celebrities are already interesting to many, so creating interest about their journey to their status is mostly done by merely placing the letters of their name on the cover of the tome. For insignificant people such as myself, the hurdle can be much higher.
The Hammond Comics Blog founder, William R. Davis Jr., suggested the graphic novel Epileptic by David B. for me to read and review. At just over 360 pages, this was a decently sized task to undertake. I must admit that my interest struggled to stay afloat while reading this autobiography, but about the middle of the novel, the story clicked and became much more interesting.
The story of David's life in Epilepsy is braided page by page with history, artwork, family tales, and characters. David's life cannot be told without focusing on his brother's condition, which caused up to three grand mal seizures a day.
As he progresses through his story, David uses his rich interest in French history, particularly the wars in which France took part, to propel the story of him and his brother. On pages 22 – 28, David B recalls the actions of his grandfather in World War I and delivers a fantastic and unique position on the trench warfare that was so dominant of that war. David's other grandfather fought in World War II, and it was quite humorous to learn that his squad was commanded to defend a bridge that was already seized by the enemy.
Pierre-François and Jean-Christophe are described as “full of rage”. David's rage spills into his stories and drawings of medieval battles featuring Ganghis Khan and other great warriors, while Jean-Christophe's rage explodes into seizures.
Along with the French history presented, David B. also describes his families struggles with epilepsy as his parents lead their family around looking for a cure or a successful method of treatment for Jean-Christophe's disease. Their quest takes them from medical research to new age medicine and holistic treatments. As I read these parts, the family almost seemed ridiculous in their efforts, but as a father myself, I can't be too harsh. A parent’s love for their child will lead them to do some very ineffable things in the attempt to help their child.
The artwork of Epileptic is very different from anything I have read before. It is black and white utilizing thick black lines and black shading, and even though the art felt bland and unattractive at the start, my appreciation for it grew as progressed through the novel. There is real genius in David B's work.
My favorite artwork in Epileptic is located on page 277. The page features Pierre-François (below) laying on a desk and drawing with a collage of his artwork layered throughout the image. It is a fantastic piece, and I am going to add it to my collection of background images on my laptop (a very high honor I must say).
It was a great circumstance for Mr. Davis Jr. to suggest Epileptic for this review. As I stated earlier, this graphic novel was hard for me to read at first, because history and biographies have never really interested me. Fortunately, with dedication and persistence, the story opened my interest and became a wonderful read. I have already read this novel twice and am looking forward to reading it again.
Sunday, April 20, 2014
Writer: Dan Slott
Script: Christos Gage
Pencils: Givseppe Cumuncoli
Inks: John Dell and Terry Pallot
Color: Antonio Fabela
Review: Cody "Madman" Miller
So yeah, here it is . . . in the immortal words of Jim Morrison, “This is the end . . . beautiful friend.” It’s been a great run, but like most things (I say most things because you always have to consider the Rolling Stones and their seemingly uncanny ability to continue living long after their bodily fluids have dried up), it has to end. Peter Parker has to be Spider-Man.
Any Spidey fan can tell you that Superior Spider-Man has been the most exciting thing to happen in the Spiderverse since . . . well . . . probably ever. Dan Slott and company did a really good job all around.
Don’t get me wrong, there were parts I hated too; I’ll get to that but all in all I felt it was worth buying the ticket and at the end of the day; that’s all that really matters. I’m sure I’ll forget a few but I figure I’ll hit on a few of the highlights from the series and go kinda light on the details from the final issue. I don’t want to spoil the goods for those of you who haven’t had the chance to read it yet.
Just after "Dying Wish Ended", issue one of Superior Spider-man hit shelves way back in January of 2013. Sixteen months is a pretty long run for any bi-monthly book these days, 31 issues and 2 annuals to be exact.
In the first couple issues we get to witness Otto defeat the Sinister Six and we also get to see that Peter is still “alive”, trapped in Octavius’ consciousness. Otto battles the Vulture at one point and puts a beating on him, ultimately ending with Vulture being blinded. Spidey then tracks down the escaped killer Massacre and proceeds to publicly execute him. The word gets out that Spider-Man is playing for keeps. These first few issues were probably my favorite issues of the entire series.
That’s when the thousands of Spidey bots hit the scene. Otto unleashes his homeland security spider spy came to NYC. I thought this was pretty ridiculous from panel one, but in the end they turned out to play a pretty pivotal roll in the final issues, and I admit maybe I was quick to judge.
Somewhere around issues 6 or 7, is when Otto beats the hell out of a couple of young pranksters called Jester and Screwball. This begins to draw the attention of the Avengers.
In the same time frame, Peter begins to “mind battle” Ock for control, but Ock defeats Peter. Octavius erases all of Peter’s memories, in theory ending him for good. I hated ghost Peter at first and, at the time, was glad they had finally made him disappear.
As if things weren’t crazy enough already, all of a sudden, we have Spider-Man blackmailing Jameson into giving him the Raft to use as his new headquarters, requiting an army of “soldiers for hire types” to be his “Spider-lings”, and last, but not least, full blown assaulting Shadowland, the Kingpin’s headquarters.
Spider-Man 2099 Miguel shows up on the scene. He’s just dropping into the past to save the future. It all makes sense at the end.
But we ain’t done yet . . .
Enter: The Goblin King, the Tinkerer, the Goblin Knight, Cardiac, Menace Hobgoblin, Venom, Superior Venom, and Charlie getting injected with goblin formula, transforming her into Monster. It gets good . . . really good.
The facts are simple. If you haven’t read this series especially the final issue, buy the second printing or buy the trades. This is a must read, even for a non-Spider-Man kinda fellow.
Here’s to the disappointment The Amazing Spider-Man #1 is sure to be. Cheers.
Friday, April 11, 2014
I originally thought comics were kind of stupid as I grew older. I read them when I was young, knew about the superhero characters in general, but the mythologies, the creators, the shit I really salivate about now, I had no idea what it was really about at the time and wrote comics off completely. Went to Uni. Studied English. They make you read all of these high handed, terrible books, and the professors are mostly assholes. It's like a secret club for assholes. "Academics" if you will, I hate most of them.
There's a lot of mental masturbation going on at some Universities, and a ton of it happens in the English departments at their respective schools. There were other students that felt the same way. Naturally we all found our way to the back of the classroom. I was talking with this guy who was a huge comic fan, I can't even remember his name anymore.
I was like: "C'mon man. Mutants. Aliens. Superheroes. I like this stuff, but it's kids stuff."
He said: "I'll prove you wrong."
He gave me Maus to borrow. I read it, then I read it again, and again, and again, and again. Finally it clicked, and I realized the power of sequential art, and the limitless potential of words and pictures and comics. Comic books can do so many things that other art forms can't do. Maus is maybe one of the best books I've ever read; definitely my favorite.
Slowly found my way into Eisner, Ware, Moore; some of the other fringe independents. And then I found American Splendor. It hit me like a ton of bricks. It just spoke to me. I had to work full time during school at a student loan company called Sallie Mae. The majority of my job was trying to get people to pay their loans that were late over the phone, so they gave us this software to find people who didn't want to be found. One day I said:"Fuck it", and looked up Harvey Pekar's number (creator of American Splendor).
It's a rare name so he wasn't very to hard to find. Although doing this is pretty unethical because it had nothing to do with my job, it was the best decision I've ever made. I called Harvey, and he was the nicest guy in the world: humble, smart, interesting, and willing to take my calls! I talked to him many, many times. He would even listen to my problems; give me advice, a true mentor! I even contacted the English department and got him to speak at Ball State University. He even wrote a couple of comics about his visit. Regretfully I couldn't physically be there because I was in Asia at the time. Either why, I had added a small chapter to the Pekar mythos, and that made me proud.
One unceremonious day when I was in Korea he died, and I woke up to a text about it from my friend, a TEXT! It was fucking terrible, one of the worst moments of my life. My hero was dead and I read about it in a text message almost as soon as I opened my eyes.
After Maus I found out more about comics as American mythology, the stories behind companies and creators, the history of sequential art, and all of that other stuff that keeps fanboys like me awake at night.
Maus started me back into comics, American Splendor and Harvey Pekar cemented my lifelong love of comics, and then I bought a bunch of superhero books off of my buddy for barely any money at all and started to re-read them in a different way. The rest is history.
The medium today suffers from a stigma that's been attached to it for years. People who only read one Wolverine book or see some sub-par cartoon might go: "This sucks." And just not look at it again. It is, and was, for many years marketed to children, so a lot of people just haven't seen the good stuff yet. I truly think I could get anyone to like comics, they just have to choose the right ones. Take a book like the aforementioned Maus, it's a holocaust survivor's tale, also a book about family, and a perfect use of the strengths of sequential art (Cats/ Nazis and Mice/Jews). It won the Pulitzer Prize! There are comics about every subject and genre, therefore there are comics for everyone.
It's all about what you like. People might only know Spider-man or Captain America, but even this is starting to change. Acceptance is slowly growing. I've read a ton of comics at this point. Reviewing and interviewing makes that a necessity in my life. I can almost tell how deep a person's got within the first couple sentences. They start with something like Maus or superhero books and then maybe pick up Watchmen, then they segue into something else. Everyone's path is a little different.
Have you ever seen High Fidelity? There's that scene where John Cusak is organizing his records and his worker comes in and says: "How are you doing it?" Cusak smugly answers: "Autobiographically. I can tell you how I got from Deep Purple to Howling Wolf in seven steps." Comics are like that as well. Real fanboys are really quick to call a person out and are very proud of knowing minutia. It's not an easy hobby to get into. As much as "Comic Book Guy" from the Simpsons is a stereotype, he's a very hilarious one because there's a lot of truth to the character. I hated my professors so much. They were so arrogant. I remember one smug asshole: "I know a ton about comics. I read Persepolis." Great book, but I found myself thinking: "What a fucking douche bag." I think at least part of that has to do with, I'm one of those comic book guys!
Thanks for taking a minute to stroll down memory lane with me faithful readers. Starting from nothing and growing the HCB into the most polarizing comic book related website on the internet has been one wild ride. Our critics are many, but so are our supporters. Protecting the medium of sequential art is a duty that we have all sworn to undertake. The hacks and hackettes out there will ruin it for profit , strangle everything we love about it, and leave it to die if we refuse to confront companies that are trying to feed us sub-par content on a weekly basis. At the same time, there are so many creators out there doing wonderful things that are going largely unnoticed. We're going to make sure they get credit for their amazing contributions.
At the end of the day it is all about integrity, creativity, and fun at The Hammond Comics Blog. We take what we do here seriously. What some have called in the past "fan boy rage", I call passion. How can you truly say you love something and be void of passion? We're still having a blast writing and talking about comic books, so keep yourself tuned in to The Hammond Comics Blog for weekly reviews and interviews by writers who are here to protect and defend one of the last great American art forms. Here's to many more years of angry comments and emails. We couldn't be happier to receive your feedback and keep the conversation going.
Friday, April 4, 2014
Then change yourself first.” - Sri Chinmoy
|Sri Chakra represents the holographic nature of you and the world.|