Preview: Jackie Estrada’s Comic Book People 2

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Jackie Estrada’s “Comic Book People 2,” a behind-the-scenes look at the comics industry in the 1990s, will be available at your local comics shop on September 2 and on Amazon on September 10. You can currently find the first book “Comic Book People: Photographs from the 1970s and 1980s,” right here. You can find “Comic Book People 2” scheduled for release at your LCS right here.

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“Comic Book People 2” is a high-quality hardcover coffee table book that offers a unique peek at the comics industry in the 1990s. It features some 600 candid photos of comics creators taken by Jackie Estrada at the San Diego Comic-Con, WonderCon, Chicago ComiCon, APE, SPX, and other shows during the decade, along with commentary and anecdotes about each person. The photos depict not only the big names of the period but also up-and-coming stars early in their careers as well as Golden and Silver Age comic book greats who were still with us.

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“The 1990s were a great time for new faces that are now familiar fixtures, such as Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Jeff Smith, Terry Moore, Garth Ennis, Colleen Doran, David Lapham, and Paul Pope,” says Estrada. “But even as these new creators came on the scene, a number of Golden and Silver Age greats were still with us, and I was fortunate to be able to photograph many of them.” Among the venerated artists in the book are Frank Frazetta, Carmine Infantino, Gene Colan, Al Williamson, Sheldon Moldoff, Nick Cardy, and of course Will Eisner and Jack Kirby.

The 1990s were a transitional era in comics: Image emerged, lots of other new publishers got into the mix, the direct market flourished, and the self-publishing and indie comics movements really took off. The number of comic conventions also increased all around the U.S. And Jackie Estrada was there, capturing the scene in candid images.

It was during the 1990s that Estrada and her husband Batton Lash formed Exhibit A Press to produce his comics series Wolff& Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre (aka Supernatural Law). Many of the photos in Comic Book People 2 were taken at shows where they exhibited, from the Chicago ComiCon and WonderCon to the Small Press Expo and APE, as well as the San Diego Comic-Con. The book covers the full spectrum of creators, from mainstream superhero writers and artists to small press cartoonists, as well as people behind the scenes in the industry, such as publishers, editors, retailers, and distributors. Among the events of the 1990s featured are the foundings of Milestone and Friends of Lulu and activities of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

Jackie has been both a comics fan and a photographer since the 1960s, and she has been to every San Diego Comic-Con. Her involvement in comics has included editing publications for Comic-Con, being the administrator of the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards since 1990, serving as president of Friends of Lulu, and being the co-publisher of Exhibit A Press, which has produced Comic Book People 2. Her photos of comics creators have appeared in numerous books and publications, from Paul Levitz’s 75 Years of DC Comics and Julius Schwartz’s autobiography Man of Two Worlds to Alter Ego and Comics Buyer’s Guide. Most prominently, dozens of her photos were used in Dark Horse’s Comics: Between the Panels and in Comic-Con: 40 Years of Artists, Writers, Fans, and Friends. Most recently, her photos could be seen in the PBS special, “Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle,” on the history of superheroes.

You could not ask for a better guide on the formidable world of comics than Jackie Estrada.

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Filed under Cartoonists, Comic-Con, Comics, Ellen Forney, Frank Frazetta, Jackie Estrada, Photography, pop culture, Will Eisner

Webcomic Review: Three Ring Samurai

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“What is a clown without a circus, a samurai without a master? When your character and identity are written on your skin, can you ever escape being the person you used to be?” — from Three Ring Samurai

Three Ring Samurai will not be denied! Pookie is a cross between High Plains Drifter and Billy Jack. He’s a homicidal samurai clown and sure looks the part, tattoos from head to toe, including permanent clown makeup. This is one fierce dude! We first meet Pookie as he’s reached his lowest point, lost and nearly dead. And then as luck, or misfortune, would have it, Pookie is found by some locals who crack his skull with a mighty blow and then take him home to rehabilitate him. Three Ring Samurai is an excellent webcomic, script by Ryk Brink and art by Ike Golden, that promises a lot and delivers a lot.

"Acid Rain" - Original Concept Art for Three Ring Samurai by Ike Golden

“Acid Rain” – Original Concept Art for Three Ring Samurai by Ike Golden

The above is “Acid Rain,” original concept art for Three Ring Samurai by Ike Golden. If you’d like your very own high res desktop background, go to Gumroad right here.

Ike Golden has a nice easy flowing and precise style. The violent moments are artfully dealt with and evoke a profound finality with the demise of each character. Of course, Pookie will tell you himself that he’s not trying to kill everyone in sight. There are plenty of lowlifes out to get him. He just gives back as good, or better, than he gets. For fans of dieselpunk, Fallout, Mad Max, anime, kung fu and samurai films, this one’s for you. Keep up with Three Ring Samurai right here.

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Filed under Comics, Webcomics

Book Review: WE INSTALL and Other Stories by Harry Turtledove

Miss Murple astride a caitnop.

Miss Murple astride a caitnop. Illustration by Henry Chamberlain.

“We Install and Other Stories” offers up an impressive showcase of the work of Harry Turtledove, known for his virtuoso writing of alternate history novels. Among all the gems in this 282-page collection of fiction and essays, the one that stole my heart is “Hoxbomb” for its quirky storytelling. It grabbed me right from the start like a cross between “The Wizard of Oz” and “Blade Runner.”

“Hoxbomb” is a sci-fi police procedural and a study in race relations: the Humans and the Snarre’t. We find ourselves a hundred or so years in the future with two competing species who must make nice for the sake of their own survival. Humans and Snarre’t must work together as they colonize Lacanth C, a new planet and a new lease on life for both races. Much like “In the Heat of the Night,” tensions run high but differences must be set aside for the greater good of solving the case of a heinous crime.

That’s really easier said than done since the Snarre’t are so different from Humans. Of course, that begs the question, Are they really That different? Well, yeah, they are. For one thing, there’s a huge difference in technology: Humans favor machines; Snarre’t favor biotech. There’s also a war of the senses: Humans rely upon sight and sound; Snarre’t rely upon smell. And Snarre’t ride strange animals instead of motorized vehicles and enjoy eating the excrement from these animals.

However, Snarre’t prove to be just as capable of being star-struck as Humans. They are also as gullible and prone to being manipulated by the media. When you really think about it, the Snarre’t aren’t that different from their Human counterparts. It’s something that becomes more apparent to the two detectives from opposing races during the course of this story: The Humans’ John Paul King and the Snarre’t’s Miss Murple make for very entertaining frenemies. This fiction is very much at home with other works in this book. There’s a jokey and sentimental quality tempered with just the right amount of thoughtful contemplation.

“We Install” proves to be a great introduction to Harry Turtledove, full of humor and rich in historical and philosophical musing. “We Install” is available as of August 25th and is published by Open Road Integrated Media where you’ll want to check out their Hugo Award Collection right here. You can also find “We Install” at Amazon right here.

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Filed under Amazon, Book Reviews, Books, Harry Turtledove, Hugo Award, Open Road Integrated Media, science fiction

Joshua Boulet at Exterminator City, Push/Pull Gallery, Seattle

As any card-carrying local artist and cartoonist should do, I went down to check out the indie comic show Exterminator City, part of Push/Pull Studio & Gallery here in the Phinney-Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle. Exterminator City is put together by Push/Pull member, Seth Goodkind, who is a local cartoonist and published illustrator.

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Plenty of stellar talent including Allen Gladfelter, Adam Lynn, Megan Noel, Noel Franklin, Scott Faulkner, and Eli Tripoli, to name a few. Coming off the heels of my awesome time at Hempfest last weekend, it was perfect timing to meet up with Joshua Boulet. He’s a fine example of how cannabis and comics mix quite well. In this video interview, Joshua is kind enough to share his sketchbook. BTW, I picked up his “Draw Occupy Wall Street” which I will review in a future post!

"I MET TOMMY CHONG!" by Joshua Boulet

“I MET TOMMY CHONG!” by Joshua Boulet

Here at Comics Grinder, we’ll keep exploring the interconnections between comics and cannabis as well as cannabis in general from time to time. You could say that both comics and cannabis remain somewhat misunderstood by the general public while also receiving a general thumbs up. That said, we can tackle both subjects thoughtfully and respectfully one post at a time.

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Now, let’s focus on the venue for this comics event. Exterminator City was made possible by the Push/Pull Gallery. My heart goes out to them as both an artist and a curator. For many years, I curated art shows at Glo’s Diner with an emphasis on fringe art, specifically alternative comics. Well, Pull/Pull is ready to take things to a new level as they move toward a permanent home. With your help, Push/Pull will achieve its goal through its Kickstarter campaign, which closes on September 4, 2015, that you can visit right here.

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Comic Arts Festivals, Comics, Comix, Exterminator City, Independent Comics, Indie, Joshua Boulet, mini-comics, Minicomics, Push/Pull Studio & Gallery, Seattle, Underground Comics

Review: ‘Locomotive / IDEOLO,’ published by Centrala

"Locomotive / IDEOLO," published by Centrala

“Locomotive / IDEOLO,” published by Centrala

“Locomotive / IDEOLO,” published by Centrala, is one beautiful and simple idea brought to life for all its worth: take a beloved famous Polish poem for children and then adapt it for adults. The poem is “The Locomotive,” by Julian Tuwim (September 13, 1894 – December 27, 1953) who is remembered for his satirical and subversive poetry. Listen to “The Locomotive” in Polish and, even if you don’t speak the language, it evokes the strains and struggles of the mighty steam-powered monster. What designer Małgorzata Gurowska and journalist Joanna Ruszczyk have done with this book is provide a unique format upon which to meditate on Tuwim’s poem.

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I found this book to be a great form of therapy as I lingered upon each page. Gurowska and Ruszczyk provide an intoxicating mix of light and dark content. We have animals that appear to be undergoing an organized exodus while other animals have been neatly packed as surplus. And the same goes for humans. On the train cars, as we begin, it seems that we have everything we would ever need for anything: a celebration, a riot, the next all-out war. As we proceed from train car to train car, the stakes grow higher, the urgency more crushing. Countless suitcases are stored away never to be reunited with their owners. Troops are deployed. War is imminent or already unleashed.

And amid all the mounting tension, there is a cry for change. The political commentary is sly and well-placed challenging the reader to face difficult questions about national identity, racism, anti-Semitism, and attitudes towards ecology and animals. The design is impeccable and does a great job of evoking a highly regimented state of alert. The clean and sharp silhouettes of rabbits, soccer players, and suitcases will hit you with their significance. Contemplate each page and then spread out the entire book, just like an accordion, to fully appreciate it.

From Julian Tuwim’s THE LOCOMOTIVE:

A big locomotive has pulled into town,
Heavy, humungus, with sweat rolling down,
A plump jumbo olive.
Huffing and puffing and panting and smelly.
Fire belches forth from her fat cast iron belly

“Locomotive / IDEOLO” is a 188-page hardcover and is appropriate for ages 9 and up. Visit our friends at Centrala right here.

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Filed under Centrala, Comics, Design, Graphic Design, Illustration, Poetry

DVD Review: WHILE WE’RE YOUNG

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I am inspired to share with you my thoughts on recently viewing a DVD of “While We’re Young,” a 2014 comedy-drama written, produced, and directed by Noah Baumbach starring Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver, and Amanda Seyfried. See the trailer, if you haven’t already. Okay, it looks like it’s about a middle-aged couple who wonder if life has passed them by. It’s about that but, at it’s also very much about the break down in honesty and integrity in a world where such things don’t seem to matter as much as they used to.

There’s a good chance you’ve heard about the ridiculous story of our times, the misadventure of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o who was supposedly “catfished” in a bizarre girlfriend hoax. So, hold up a bit, “catfished,” you say? If you’re not familiar, this is shorthand for being duped into believing you’re in a relationship with someone who does not really exist. The idea is that a person enters into an internet romance without ever actually meeting the person in person. You know, for reals? And then they eventually find out it was all a hoax. Crazy stuff, huh? The truly crazy thing is that, even to this day, this concept is taken for granted as being legitimate– or at least by the producers of the Catfish franchise. You see, it all began with the 2010 movie, so-called, “documentary,” “Catfish,” which went on to become, and currently still is, a show on MTV by the same goofball name. Now, I say all this to make a point: “catfished,” far from genuinely representing a duped lover is the perfect example of how far we’ve fallen from authenticity in the media. As ludicrous as both the movie and show are, as false as the premise is for both the movie and the show, the official word is that it’s all bona fide true! And this sort of hogwash is what our main character Josh (played by Ben Stiller) will not stand for!

You see, Josh is just like you and me. He’s human. He is vulnerable. He is prone to doubting himself. Then along comes what seems to be a younger and smarter version of himself, Jamie (played by Adam Driver). Both men are immersed in the world of documentaries. Well, Josh is for sure, perhaps too immersed as he’s been working on the same rather tiresome film for many years. In fact, it’s taking Josh way too long to speak the truth he so desperately seeks. Or is he lazy and complacent? Out of the fog, emerges Jamie who pops up at one of Josh’s lectures. Josh feels rejuvenated in the presence of the fresh and alive Jamie. Before Josh knows what’s hit him, he and his wife, Cornelia (played by Naomi Watts) are swept up by the youthful charisma of Jamie and his wife, Darby (played by Amanda Seyfried). If only Josh could so effortlessly create and relate to the world in the same way as Jamie, the Young Turk. Ah, but things are not always as they may seem, right?

You could say that, in a way, Josh ends up being “catfished.” I really hate using that term as it brings up that bogus movie and TV show. And I happen to love catfish as a culinary delight. That’s as far as I ever had to go with the word. However, I do dig the new definition I have come up with: catfish: “to denigrate tradition; to ignore honesty and integrity; to forget about ethics.” I think that covers it. So, Josh is not duped into an internet romance. No, but he is duped. I’m not sure that I’m getting out of this film exactly what it has to offer but it’s pretty close. Overall, the idea that it’s not only okay, but expected, that you cut corners, is well expressed here. It could have been better, and more clearly, expressed but, what can you do? We live in times where it’s okay to cut some corners. And, hey, it’s a major Hollywood motion picture. Some corners will get cut! In these cases, you need to imagine the perfect film within the big budget movie. Anyway, I had been meaning to speak on the issue of infotainment and the slippery slope we’ve been heading with faux documentaries. This review was inspired by all the attention to a recent post on Discovery Channel’s TREASURE QUEST: SNAKE ISLAND. That post struck a chord. This response, in the form of a review, will do for now.

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Filed under Documentaries, Movie Reviews, movies, MTV

Review: WELCOME BACK #1 (of 4)

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WELCOME BACK, published by Boom! Studios, is a sly philosophical action-packed comic. It is part sci-fi, part horror, and part youth against the world. Mali is an intriguing main character. She’s 26 years-old and doesn’t have her act together yet, although she has plenty of solid reasons for that. Being the step-daughter of an infamous serial killer will do that.

In the course of this first issue, we come to see that, in fact, Mali is right on track to meet her true destiny. Christopher Sebela’s script is a perfect story of a most unlikely heroine. And Jonathan Brandon Sawyer’s artwork is very fluid while also well-balanced. All the figures move about in a well-defined space. We believe in Mali right out of the gate.

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There’s a nice easy-going quality to this story which happens to also be pretty dark. Chalk it up to a hip depiction of the resilience of youth. Mali will need to be ready and able to bounce back from anything once she’s gotten a clue as to what is up ahead for her. As it turns out, she is a warrior who has lived countless other lives. Who knew? Not, Mali, not right away. But all the clues have been adding up. Meanwhile, there’s Mali’s perennial rival, Tess.

What I like most about this comic is that it is fearless. It has quite a lot going on. It’s one of those what I’d call an “umbrella comic,” one that can manage to hold anything under its title. Lookit, Mali and Tess have been battling it out since the dawn of battles. As Mali says herself, “there’s no winning. The victor takes themselves out, following the target into the next life.” Now, that’s a bold and fearless premise. This comic is up to the task.

WELCOME BACK #1 is a four-part series and is available as of August 19. For more details, visit our friends at Boom! Studios right here.

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Filed under Boom! Studios, Comics, Comics Reviews

Review: KING #1, published by Amazon Publishing’s Jet City Comics

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It’s all in a day’s work for King as he yet again searches for the “life seed” and avoids being eaten by some mutant. King is the last human survivor of the apocalypse. And that doesn’t mean he can do whatever he wants, not when the entire fate of humanity rests on his shoulders via the bureaucracy that is the Los Angeles Department of Reclamation. Funny stuff thanks to critically acclaimed comic book writer Joshua Hale Fialkov (The Bunker, Echoes, and I, Vampire). And it all jumps out vividly thanks to superstar artists Bernard Chang and Marcelo Maiolo (Green Lantern Corps, Batman Beyond). Where did this crazy good comic come from? It’s from Amazon Publishing’s Jet City Comics!

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KING is truly an exciting comic in all ways possible. It’s a trip into a wild, hilarious, and incredibly awesome world. For seasoned comics readers, and newcomers alike, this one will blow you away with its combination of wit and beauty.

I’m really impressed with the audacious irreverence to Fialkov’s script which often will evoke a spoken word authenticity with its spontaneity. Don’t we all want our hero to succeed and lead everyone to the Garden of Barbara Eden?

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Check out the above panel excerpt. King is describing the perennial quest for the life seed. And here, out of the blue, he says it can sometimes involve a sexy creature but, all too often, is more about a rock with some purple sparkleys. Who thinks like this? Very funny.

King’s journey is nonstop whipsmart action and sharp humor. It’s going to be a sheer pleasure to keep up with this series as this first issue is impeccable.

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KING #1 is a 31-page comic and is available as of August 19, 2015. The KING graphic novel is a Kindle Serial published in five issues for one price of only $5.99. This serial will run for a total of five issues, with each issue delivered monthly at no additional cost until the collected series is complete.

And, of course, you can always get the paperback when it’s available on January 20, 2016 for only $14.95. Check out the details by visiting our friends at Amazon right here.

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Filed under Amazon, Amazon Publishing, Bernard Chang, Comics, Jet City Comics, Joshua Hale Fialkov, Los Angeles

Seattle Hempfest 2015: Community, Activism, Music, and Vaping

If you want an inspiring call to action, then listen to Stephanie Viskovich, a longtime cannabis activist who has formed The Viper’s Club, a political action committee with the goal of entirely decriminalizing cannabis in the United States. The eloquence and passion of Ms. Viskovich was appreciated by her audience at this year’s Hempfest in Seattle made up from all walks of life, young and old. Hempfest took place this year from August 14th through 16th at Myrtle Edwards and Centennial Parks.

Hempfest is a great tradition here in Seattle dating back to 1991. There has been change but there’s still a long road ahead. It is less than three years since the passing of I-502 and the so-called “legalization” of recreational cannabis. But, as Ms. Viskovich points out, you can still be charged if you are found to have more than an ounce in your possession.

"Echo," by Jaume Plensa, the latest addition to the SAM sculpture garden, resides over Hempfest.

“Echo,” by Jaume Plensa, the latest addition to the SAM sculpture garden, resides over Hempfest.

It is still a long road ahead to fully ending the prohibition of cannabis in the United States. Seattle Hempfest provides a vital role of educating the public and spurring them on to action with a peace-loving gathering that is part state fair, a music festival, and an old-fashioned BYOC cannabis garden. There is so much to cover on the subject of cannabis. Where to begin? The profound health benefits of CBD? How about the fact that our military veterans are still having trouble with obtaining medical cannabis? The list grows long very quickly. For this feature, I am doing my best to touch on various aspects of cannabis and highlight some exciting items.

New ways of engaging with cannabis are taking root. For a younger generation, there are more options. Some are happy to keep it old school with dry herbs. For others, it’s oils and waxes, cannabis in a more concentrated form. Walk down among the vendors and you’ll find various rigs for dabbing. There is the intense monster, The MiniNail, from Full Tilt Technologies. Or maybe you prefer something more sleek and high tech like The Prodigy from Spry.

The Atlas vaporizer from Vuber Technologies at Seattle Hempfest 2015

The Atlas vaporizer from Vuber Technologies at Seattle Hempfest 2015

And then there’s the vapes! The popularity of vape pens, portable pen-like vaporizers, is undeniable. The Oxford Dictionary selected “vape” as its Word of the Year in 2014. Among the vape pen vendors at Hempfest this year, one that stands out is local company, Vuber Technologies. I had the opportunity to try out their Atlas vape, for wax and oil concentrates, and it totally works like a dream: very easy to use and it produces quality vape.

The vapors from the Vuber Atlas are light, smooth, and robust. A little goes a long way so all it takes it just a “dab” of wax applied near the coils. The Atlas has a dual-titanium coil heating element wrapped around a ceramic core that provides a flavorful experience. The battery is a sturdy 900 mAh solid-state. The Atlas comes with an additional atomizer, a mount for your pen, a container for wax, and a dabber. For an additional price, you can add a globe atomizer.

Tommy Chong at Seattle Hempfest 2015

Tommy Chong at Seattle Hempfest 2015

Wander around some more and KASHI hemp clothing will catch your eye. Or maybe Gogo Pipes. Or how about meeting legendary comedic talent and activist Tommy Chong. And, once at Hempfest, you’ll also want to join the cannabis community in a significant way by getting the Leafly app. It’s true that one part of Hempfest is a trade show but it’s put together with plenty of authenticity. And it’s easy to take for granted all these various interests gathered together in a safe and supportive environment.

Plenty of music to enjoy at Hempfest, for sure. From the mellow acoustics of Jessica Domingo to the headbanging heavy metal of Jahai, there is a lineup here that holds its own with Bumbershoot. Seriously, Bumbershoot, the granddaddy of music festivals, would not turn its back on any of the performers at Hempfest.

Seattle Hempfest 2015

Seattle Hempfest 2015

I end this feature where I began with thoughts on the road ahead. When Stephanie Viskovich invited her audience to visit the booth of legendary cannabis advocate Ed Rosenthal, I had to go over and pay a visit. I got Ed to autograph a card. And I promised to spread the word about The Viper’s Club. If you would like to help decriminalize cannabis, visit The Viper’s Club website right here. And, if you’re in Seattle, be sure to attend Canna Comedy Night all in support of The Viper’s Club at Laughs Comedy Spot on September 27th. Details are right here.

As Stephanie Viskovich states, the issue of cannabis comes down to a human rights issue. That simple fact is resonating with people all the more in the U.S. and around the world. So, if you’re new to all this, or if you have considered attending, be sure to visit Hempfest next year as it celebrates its 25th anniversary. Keep in mind that Hempfest costs over $1 million dollars a year to produce. Be sure to donate at the event and through annual memberships. Visit our friends at Seattle Hempfest right here.

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Filed under Cannabis, Health, Lifestyle, Marijuana, Seattle, Seattle Hempfest, Stephanie Viskovich, Trends, Vape Pens, Vapes, Vuber Technologies

Preview: HENCHGIRL #2

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October sees the return of HENCHGIRL, by Kristen Gudsnuk, published by Scout Comics.

From Diamond Previews:

Check out the comic that io9.com calls “A terribly fun read!” Mary Posa hates her job. She works long hours for little pay, no insurance, and worst of all, no respect. Her co-workers are jerks and her boss doesn’t appreciate her. He’s also a supervillain. Cursed with a conscience, Mary would give anything to be something other than a Henchgirl. Playboy billionaire Greg Gains is holding a masked ball for the elite of Crepe City; Mary and the Butterfly Gang have orchestrated an infallible heist to infiltrate and relieve Gains of his gains. What could go wrong?

HENCHGIRL #2 is listed as Diamond Previews Item Code: AUG151680, will be in your local comics shop on October 28th, and is priced at $3.99. Find it in your current Diamond Previews.

Be sure to visit the Henchgirl site right here.

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Filed under Comics, Diamond Previews, Kristen Gudsnuk, Scout Comics