Review: The Goddamned #1 – Before the Flood Part One


And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagining of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

–Genesis 6:5-6

THE GODDAMNED is a bold comic indeed, a Biblical noir series from the creative team that brought you SCALPED, writer Jason Aaron and artist R. M. Guéra, with the addition of artist Giulia Brusco.

It is 1600 years after Eden and the world has gone the way of Mad Max. An Adonis emerges, nude and unmarked, from a pond of shit. A little maundering boy peppers him with questions about why he has no scars and how he could survive violent torture. The young man, who turns out to be Cain, just keeps walking, all the way back to his tormentors, the Bone Boys. Off to a very good start.

The artwork is eye-poppingly good, all gritty Western noir. What happens next is that we find that Cain makes for a great, maybe even better, Conan. Although I can imagine Biblical devotees perhaps scratching their heads and waiting to see if things go too far. Well all these things considered, this looks to be a refreshing tale that no one should seriously have a problem with. It may be set in a Biblical landscape, but from there it takes off into its own world.

True to all the promotion for this comic, THE GODDAMNED delivers a satisfying read. There’s a good portion of it that is wordless and that makes for some perfect extended scenes. You’ll find some of the best compositions depicting action here. And I put it mildly when I say, action. Cain knows how to kick ass.

THE GODDAMNED is available as of November 11th. For more details, visit our friends at Image Comics right here.

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Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Image Comics

Review and Interview: Koren Shadmi, creator of THE ABADDON

THE ABADDON by Koren Shadmi

THE ABADDON by Koren Shadmi


“I’m going to smile, and my smile will sink down into your pupils, and heaven knows what it will become.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit

THE ABADDON is a very popular webcomic and is due out as a collected work on November 12th from Z2 Comics. It’s my pleasure to share with you some observations on the work and to share with you an interview with its creator, Koren Shadmi.

You’re this young guy in a new city who is desperately looking for a room to rent. You just happen to find what looks like the best deal you could hope for: cool roomies, one a potential romantic interest, a spacious loft, and you can pay what you want on rent. Huh? How does that work? Before Ter can ask too many questions, he’s voted into the group. Little does he realize he forgot to check if he hasn’t just made the worst mistake of his life. And so begins Koren Shadmi’s very quirky graphic novel, THE ABADDON. It is loosely based on Jean-Paul Sartre’s play, NO EXIT, and is due out November 12th from Z2 Comics.


I took notice of Koren Shadmi’s artwork with the recent graphic novel, MIKE’s PLACE: A TRUE STORY OF LOVE, BLUES AND TERROR IN TEL AVIV, published by First Second Books. You can read my review here. Shadmi has a very appealing style that truly brings each character to life. In the case of the character-driven THE ABADDON, he runs the spectrum of personalities, all of which are quite dysfunctional. Poor Ter never had a chance, although he may beg to differ. Shadmi does a masterful job of taking us on Ter’s surreal journey. Even if he were to escape his roomies, does he seriously think he can escape The Abaddon?


Shadmi is the sort of artist/writer who is at home with asking the big questions. With a cartoonist’s instinct for concise and precise communication, he distills those big ideas into accessible and entertaining content. He’s not taking anything away from the integrity of the subject at hand; even existential matters are fair game for comics. In fact, what better subject to tackle in the comics medium that questions of why and how we exist? The Abaddon proves to be a highly satisfying read.


In our interview, we touch upon existential matters, what led to the creation of The Abaddon, and what lies ahead for this up and coming illustrator and cartoonist.

GOD by Koren Shadmi

GOD by Koren Shadmi

I begin by asking him about one of his most compelling illustrations: a museum exhibit with a display for God. It’s one of the illustrations that you can purchase through his website right here. Click below to listen to the podcast interview below:

THE ABADDON is available starting November 12th from Z2 Comics. You can also find it at Amazon right here.


Filed under Cartooning, Comics, Existentialism, Illustration, Koren Shadmi, School of Visual Arts, Webcomics, Z2 Comics

Review: THE MAGICIAN’S WIFE by François Boucq and Jerome Charyn

Velvet Verbone warms up to the case.

Velvet Verbone warms up to the case.

Ever since its publication in 1986, it has developed a cult following. It’s been out-of-print in English for 30 years. And THE MAGICIAN’S WIFE has not lost any of its magic. This is a prime example of what is possible in comics in the graphic novel format. Thanks to Drew Ford and Dover Publications, it is back! As your guide through comics, I strongly recommend that you put aside everything, your morning coffee, your late-night rendezvous, whatever, and seek this book out. It will change your life.

THE MAGICIAN'S WIFE by François Boucq and Jerome Charyn

THE MAGICIAN’S WIFE by François Boucq and Jerome Charyn

All these French masters who took an American art form, the comic strip, and transformed it into the graphic novel: Bilal, Boucq, Blutch, Tardi, Masse, Liberatore, and Loustal. I was in Paris in that heady time, circa 1988, and I most vividly recall as a very young aspiring cartoonist and writer that something very different and exciting was happening. In that same year, Drew Ford, as a youth, would stumble upon a copy of “The Magician’s Wife” in a secondhand shop in upstate New York. Drew Ford would go on to see that book get a proper reprint at Dover Publications after being out-of-print in English for oh too long. So, what is so exciting, and magical, about this particular comic? Well, it speaks to that desire for a truly ideal and satisfying entertainment. It manages to actually realize that dream of a comic that is perfect down to each and every panel. A fantastical story that strikes you with its poetry and poignancy. And there’s supernatural things going on to boot. Rita, the magician’s wife, could quite possibly be a werewolf.

Our story makes its way to New York City.

Our story makes its way to New York City.

Much in the irreverent and artistic French spirit, this is a story that simply is. In some sense, is it both a complex and straightforward visual treat. It is also a splendid work of surreal, absurd, whimsy. And, in the end, it is a very well-structured, undeniably tightly-knit story. It feels like a dream that goes on forever and yet you sense that it is also quite a lean and determined piece. Silly, fun, but also deadly serious. Full of symbolic impact. With a squarely-in-the-eyes shot to the deepest recesses of your mind. Graphic novels come from the city and this is very much an urban story full of gritty elements. Yes, this definitely has mature content. But, like in the best work of this kind, there is a certain level of restraint that makes this suitable for young teens and up.

Verbone continues to track down clues.

Verbone continues to track down clues.

Edmund, the magician in this story, is a cross between an amazing wizard and a cowardly ne’er-do-well. It is a struggle that will consume him and those that come into his orbit. Things move at a relatively steady clip in a work of comics. However, there a number of reasons to slow down the pacing: to convey a mood, to reinforce an idea, to thoroughly establish a setting. This comic manages to keep things moving while seeming to have all day to do it and all in a tidy 82 pages. I maintain that a comic need not run longer than 80 or 100 pages. You find your sweet spot and you don’t need to pad things up.

Edmund futilely attempts to show everyone who is boss.

Edmund futilely attempts to show everyone who is boss.

Consider the above page. Not too much obvious movement but you can quickly sense a rapid energy at work as well. This is a pivotal moment for Edmund: he is momentarily in full control and in the process of consolidating his position, and then he must confront a huge setback and a taste of what’s to come. We first find him emerging from a restful pose; then a full-figure attentive pose; followed by arm raised in confrontation; right in the center, an indignant look; his former lover defies him; he escalates the situation; finally, his new lover puts him in his place.

Edmund. Rita, Detective Verbone. Ah, all the misbegotten jockeys from Saratoga Springs. The gals at the diner. The regular group of cops too concerned with hamburgers. And the hoodlums from the Lower Eastside led by the monstrous Ross. And, for an added literary touch, Dolores, a name that keeps floating in and out of the narrative. At varying times, it belongs to someone’s sweetheart, an animal, and a maid. If only Dolores could be pinned down for just a moment, she might have something quite insightful to reveal. But, not to worry, perhaps the jockeys will carve up another horse. And everything rendered in this glorious semi-realistic style that floats along perfectly with great distinction–and such vivid color. Yes, this is it. This is the graphic novel you’ve been waiting for all your life. Get it at our friends at Dover Publications right here.


Filed under Bande Dessinée, Comics, Dover Publications, François Boucq, France


The zombie book of the season!

The zombie book of the season!

It is ingrained in our DNA to thirst for bloody horror. Oh, wait, I think I just used that opening line recently. Well, it’s a good one and it certainly applies to The Walking Dead. I firmly believe that, when you strike the right balance of evenly spaced blood splatters and evenly paced plotting, it will resonate with an audience. It’s the next phase a horror creator wants to get to and fast just like Robert Kirkman has succeeded in doing. In tribute to horror done right, behold “The Walking Dead: The Pop-Up Book,” published by Insight Editions.

Lots of details and hidden goodies

Lots of details and hidden goodies!

This is no mere pop-up book! Look it over form every angle, there is plenty to look at and marvel over. This masterful work is created by paper engineers David Hawcock (Journal of Inventions: Leonardo Da Vinci) and Becca Zerkin, with text by Stephani Danelle Perry, and illustrated by Sally Elizabeth Jackson.

AMC Walking Dead Insight Editions

Zombie Surprise!

Zombie Surprise!

Based on AMC’s hit television series, “The Walking Dead,” this has got to be the ultimate gift idea for many a friend and loved one into zombies, horror movies, or pop culture in general. It’s big but also compact enough to fit comfortably on your coffee table or wherever you like to keep groovy ghoulies.

THE WALKING DEAD: THE POP-UP BOOK is a hardcover featuring five glorious page spreads and over 20 pop-ups. For more details, visit our friends at Insight Editions right here.


Filed under Books, Gifts, Holidays, Insight Editions, Television, The Walking Dead

Review: WILDFLOWER by Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore Wildflower

When writing a book about your life, it’s easy to fall into having the last laugh. With her book, “Wildflower,” Drew Barrymore has chosen to write a book full of laughter, joy, and wise observations. If a book like this seems too idealistic, all one needs to do is dive in and read it and find an authentic voice.

Ever since spending many hours basking in the glow of the last days of a bookstore that focused on cinema, I gained a fuller appreciation of the celebrity autobiography. After you’ve taken the time to study a number of these titles, you just can’t make generalizations. Often, these works are remarkably insightful. You can only take them one at a time. In the case of Drew Barrymore, she consistently writes honestly and vividly. You can hear her unique voice on every page and it’s a story you’ll find refreshingly modest.

There are a number of fascinating moments that come to mind: Drew’s experience in Africa and how she connected that to learning how to heal her relationship with childhood and children.; her frankness about her relationship with her parents and how she learned to create boundaries; and her recollections of growing up in West Hollywood and how she cherished the little touches of nature, especially the bougainvilleas, amid urban life.

With a great sense of irreverence, coupled with a natural spirituality, this is one book by a celebrity, one very unconventional celebrity, that will win you over.

“Wildflower” is a 288-page hardcover published by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

If you are in Seattle this weekend, Drew Barrymore will be reading from “Wildflower” at the Center for Spiritual Living as part of the Seattle Arts & Lectures series.


Filed under Books

Interview: Chris Hunt and CARVER



This is a really fun interview. I feel that I do a very good job of keeping things in play but it ultimately comes down to my subject. Well, Chris Hunt is an excellent subject. With a wonderfully self-effacing sense of humor, Hunt provides a behind-the-scenes look at a young man making it in New York City. He’s tried his hand at acting. He’s gotten to learn at the side of master cartoonist Paul Pope. He’s living the dream. That NYC energy has made its way into his new crime noir adventure, the comic book series, CARVER: A PARIS STORY. Check out my review right here.

So, the main character is Carver, a guy who looks like he just stepped out of a Ernest Hemingway novel. And Carver is up to his eyeballs in trouble and adventure in the same spirit as the comics of masters like Milton Caniff, Hugo Pratt, and Paul Pope. Now, check this out, our cartoonist friend here, Chris Hunt, looks like he just stepped out of a Ernest Hemingway novel too!

Just click below for my interview with Chris Hunt:

“Carver: A Paris Story #1” is published by Z2 Comics and available as of November 11, 2015. For more details, visit our friends at Z2 Comics right here.

And be sure to visit Chris Hunt right here.


Filed under Chris Hunt, Comics, Interviews, Z2 Comics

Review: PUNCH TO KILL #1


It is ingrained in our DNA to thirst for bloody horror. But we generally know when we’re close to crossing the line. I think the comic, PUNCH TO KILL, does an interesting job of going back and forth with teetering towards a bit too much. If you love blood and guts, then no problem. That said, I give a lot of credit to cartoonist Marc Palm for carrying out his dance with death.

There is much said on the subject of horror, particularly movie horror. I don’t claim to really care more than I do. I like what I like. If it has wings, I’ll most likely applaud its flight. If it’s merely sick and disgusting, what can I tell you? This comic really tries my patience but it’s supposed to. In the end, I applaud its quirky humor. It is visually arresting. It’s a solid piece of work.

This is a collaboration between writers Kevin Clarke, Will Long, and writer/artist Marc Palm. I can see that they’re having a lot of fun with various horror and action movie tropes. There’s the tough guy being held prisoner in some dank office. Then, suddenly, he’s had enough, and he goes on a bloody rampage. Now, he’s like an armored tank plowing through one henchman after another. You think you fooled me, the tough dude thinks. Well, think again, sucker! Insert blood splatters on the wall, the floor, wherever you like.

What’s good about this comic is that, despite all the blood and guts, it’s got a good head on its shoulders–all the way up to when it gets blown clean off. Seriously folks, this is what you can file under “highly spirited good fun.”

PUNCH TO KILL #1 is published by Pizza Party Comix. You can find these bloody fiends right here.


Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Horror, Marc Palm

Review: A WIND FROM NOWHERE by Kara Queen

Harper and Madelyn

Harper and Madelyn

From the first page of Kara Queen’s new comic, “A Wind From Nowhere,” I felt as if I had been invited into a quiet space where secrets were revealed through whispers. There is 11-year-old Madelyn sitting on the rooftop of her apartment building talking to Ichabod, a one-legged crow. Then, one day at school, her world is rocked by a boy named, Harper.

Kara Queen has a solid way of evoking the vulnerability of youth. She takes her two main characters, inevitably lacking in self-awareness, and places them on a treacherous journey that both are unlikely to survive. This is a study of a crisis that just keeps getting further out of control. Perhaps Madelyn and Harper should never have met but, despite the cloud that hangs over them, they seem to be meant for each other.



The ill-fated relationship has everything to do with their instability. Neither one has much of a foothold on reality. At least Madelyn’s offbeat perspective leans to the whimsical. Harper’s view of the world veers towards homicidal.

Madelyn, Harper, and the crows

Madelyn, Harper, and the crows

There’s a lot of heart to this comic. You really believe in the characters and their struggles. Queen has an energetic and compassionate drawing style. As you might have suspected, there isn’t much in the way of healthy parental support for these kids. But Queen is careful not to paint them as monsters. Instead, she manages to evoke that murky world of dysfunction where things just aren’t working the way they should be.

“A Wind from Nowhere” is a 50-page full-color comic, priced at $12, and available right here. And be sure to visit Kara Queen right here.

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Independent Comics, Indie, Kara Queen, Short Run, Short Run Comix & Arts Festival


You are NOT your thoughts.

You are NOT your thoughts.

Do you like to write lists of goals you’ve set for yourself or give yourself little private pep talks? Of course, you do! We have plenty of bad energy out there to navigate through. A lot of us out there have already picked up on the benefits of self-help, particularly meditation. Yumi Sakugawa has a new book, “There is No Right Way to Meditate and Other Lessons,” published by Adams Media. Here, she provides a highly accessible, and quite invigorating, look at a peaceful world full of peaceful people.


It all began with an epiphany that Yumi had when she was 23-years-old and feeling very blue. She came to the realization that she was NOT her thoughts. She certainly wasn’t her negative thoughts. It is a simple enough concept and yet it is also a very powerful concept. This is a book that gently, and soothingly, offers observations on how to avoid negativity and gain a better sense of balance.

Yumi maintains a lighthearted tone throughout with her prose and whimsical artwork. For instance, she suggests that you get lost in the woods so your bad mood doesn’t know where to find you. It’s not too lighthearted. It’s just right. These are mind over mind exercises. So, the humor needs to ring true. The inner world won’t respond to a mere joke.

There’s such a genuine expression of joy and reassurance here that you’ll find it irresistible. No right nor wrong. No irony. Just a goal of self-love. Perchance to dream. Ah, dreams are a serious business. The mind demands convincing. Yumi will do this by presenting the reader with a rock. The rock is heavy. Anxiety is heavy. However, once you start to feel the rock’s ridges, it begins to feel less heavy. Yumi invites you to desire a better life without thinking too hard about it. Enjoy the now. That is exactly where you need to be.

“There is No Right Way to Meditate and Other Lessons” is a 160-page hardcover and is published by Adams Media. You can also find it at Amazon right here.


Filed under Adams Media, Comics, Health, Wellness, Yumi Sakugawa

Review: TRASHED by Derf Backderf


We think a lot about garbage here in Seattle. We’ve been ahead of the curve for many years. We separate our garbage from common garbage (non-food), compost (food), and recycling (very specific categories). I know that some Seattleites find utter joy in thoroughly washing their recyclables. And, lately, the City of Seattle has demanded more by showing no mercy and fining homeowners who dare to mix food in with their common everyday garbage!

To read TRASHED, the new graphic novel by Derf Backderf, this whole business of garbage is not so complicated. The real solution would be to use less! But I get ahead of myself. In this book, you see the very human element to garbage from the viewpoint of a bunch of young guys just starting out in life…as garbage collectors.


Derf Backderf has a style and tone to his storytelling that brings you right in. You might not necessarily want to be brought in to some of the content he’s involved with but, all the same, there you are. From his comic strip that examined Cleveland urban life to his previous recollections of Jeffrey Dahmer, Backderf presents the grim, the gritty, and the unvarnished truth. For his new graphic novel, he does something that may inspire other cartoonists to follow suit in their own way.

He revisits some experiences from his youth and brings these old characters up to present day with contemporary commentary. Backderf created comics based upon his year (1979-80) as a sanitation worker. In 2010, he took those old characters and, like ageless Archie comics characters, placed them in a present day setting for a webcomic. That project evolved into this current graphic novel.


Backderf gently nudges along the idea that we’re all such disgusting slobs. Maybe not all of the time but no one gets completely away. And there are plenty of oddball characters that Backderf observes on his rounds who shouldn’t get away with anything like the unscrupulous dog catcher that terrorizes all the neighborhood pets. And then there’s all the people leaving out inappropriate items like a stove and a car engine block. Seriously? Yes, people have no shame.


Knee-deep, and sometimes up to his eyeballs, in garbage, our main character prevails. He survives his year as a garbage collector. And, now, all these years later, we get the complete story in this funny, insightful, and beautifully rendered book.

TRASHED is a 256-page hardcover, published by Abrams ComicArts, available as of November 3, 2015. You can find it at Amazon right here.


Filed under Abrams ComicArts, Comics, Derf Backderf, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels