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Review: The Kardashian Jewel Heist, a Graphic Novel

The Kardashian Jewel Heist, a Graphic Novel

Here is a graphic novel that many of you, especially in the States, will be intrigued by–or it might make you scratch your head: Les bijoux de la Kardashian, (loose translation, Kardashian’s Jewels) published by Glénat. Of course, this is a book focusing on the ordeal that Kim Kardashian went through in Paris back in 2016. This is a French graphic novel that just screams out for an English translation. Given that Glénat and American comics publisher, IDW, work closely together, it would be easy to see this happen. That said, just enjoying the lively artwork alone is well worth it. Would a U.S. audience not be receptive to an English translation version of this?

Talk about how anything can become content for a graphic novel! The Kim Kardashian hotel heist is actually a complicated story and comics, in fact, prove an ideal tool to sort through the details. Written by journalists François Vignolle and Julien Dumond, this graphic novel is decidedly fact-driven. The artwork is by cartoonist Gregory Mardon who does a marvelous job of bringing what amounts to a classic crime story to life. Mardon’s style is very crisp and clean, as if he were drawing wonderfully concise sketchbook drawings. It is a particular look, very French, exemplified by such legendary French cartoonists like Etienne Davodeau, Jacques de Loustal, and Blutch. So, Mardon’s artwork will evoke for the reader a reporter’s notebook come to life.

The Hôtel de Pourtalès, where Kim Kardashian West was robbed. Celebrities seeking privacy often stay there. From Vanity Fair.

It is quite an undertaking to bring this whole story together. You have two dramatically different worlds colliding: all the aspects of the crime, including the criminals and the police; and all the aspects of the glitzy lifestyle of a true American reality TV icon. The story is based upon police records and investigations into the high-profile crime that took place in an apartment in Paris’ upmarket 8th arrondissement on Oct 3, 2016. François Vignolle, one of the French journalists who co-authored the graphic novel, states: “We explored the routes the thieves and Kardashian took, we went to the places where they were, spoke to sources and took photos of the spots so that the story would be as real as possible.” And it was as if all other news took second place at the time of the media circus. “We no longer were talking about the terrorist attacks in France or Donald Trump in the United States. Everyone wanted to know about the Kim Kardashian theft.” So, all in all, a full portrait of the event and its aftermath.

An unlikely high-profile criminal.

Ultimately, a fabulous story emerges involving a most unlikely band of thieves. The time is right to take a closer look, with the initial story processed in our minds, a story that gratefully did not turn more violent than it might have. And that’s not to diminish at all the very real trauma of being robbed at gunpoint. Only after the passage of time, in hindsight, do we get a full story. The thieves were all past the age of 50, some even past 70. They had no idea who Kim Kardashian was. They initially were just after a ring but managed to stumble upon a collection of jewels worth some $10 million. And their getaway was on bicycles which they had a very hard time with. The whole thing, with respectful hindsight, brings to mind some Pink Panther caper. So, it is no surprise to find a bit of humor. There is no malice here, no ridicule. But you do get a lot of scenes of the queen of reality TV posting on social media.

Kim Kardashian back in her element.

That all brings us back to whether or  not it makes sense to have an English version to this graphic novel devoted to the Kim Kardashian jewel heist caper. Is it just too much for audiences outside of France to comprehend? Time will tell. The thieves go on trial in 2020 and there’s talk of a sequel graphic novel. Perhaps the biggest barrier is not language to this story. Perhaps something culturally would get lost in translation. And that’s a shame.

Les bijoux de la Kardashian, (loose translation, Kardashian’s Jewels) is published by Glénat.

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Review: The Invisible Empire: Madge Oberholtzer and the Unmasking of the Ku Klux Klan

The Invisible Empire

Karen Green, curator of comics at Columbia, provides a most effective forward to the new graphic novel, The Invisible Empire: Madge Oberholtzer and the Unmasking of the Ku Klux Klan. Green begins with a quote from the first premier of the People’s Republic of China. In an interview from the early 1970s, Zhou Enlai was asked for his thoughts on the French Revolution. His response: “Too early to tell.” That anecdote will stick with readers as they navigate through a book with an eerie relevance. The Invisible Empire is written by Micky Neilson and Todd Warger, illustrated by Marc Bostel, and published by Insight Comics.

History is a settling down of seemingly disparate, raw and random events. Patterns emerge. Connections and conclusions are made over time. Sometimes, the facts are so undeniable as to smack you across the face. And then the passage of time covers them up, one layer of distraction and denial upon another. And so it is with what happened across the United States in the 1920s with a reinvented Ku Klux Klan. In the big scheme of things, you may have blinked and not noticed but that Robert E. Lee statue at the forefront of the Charlottesville tragedy in 2017 was a statue erected in 1924, at the height of  the white supremacy hysteria. The story in this graphic novel focuses on events from the 1920s Ku Klux Klan in the north, specifically Indiana. A culture of hatred and violence had taken hold until a particular event broke the fever. It wasn’t until a local corrupt official was indicted with murder that citizens woke up and took back their state from the KKK and subsequently knocked it off its pedestal across the country.

Scheming with Stephenson.

That local corrupt official was D.C. Stephenson. It’s remarkable that there is no specific mention anywhere in this graphic novel of Stephenson’s title in Indiana government. But, in fact, he had no specific title beyond, perhaps, wheeler-dealer. In today’s parlance, he’d be thought of as a political operative in the same vein as Karl Rove or Steve Bannon, once known as “Trump’s brain.” Stephenson was similarly well connected, on intimate terms with Pres. Harding and Pres. Coolidge. In this graphic novel, the reader connects the dots, following Stephenson on his way to becoming a KKK Grand Wizard, and finding he was far from alone in his embrace of white supremacy.

A moment of clarity.

The trigger for change is Madge Oberholtzer, the young white woman that Stephenson raped and murdered, an event that would subsequently inspire a backlash against the KKK. The most compelling scenes in this book are devoted to simply providing some room for Madge to go about her life. Left alone to make up her own mind, she befriends a young black man, despite her segregated upbringing. Amid all the machinations depicted between Stephenson and his cronies, it is refreshing to see what a life not cut short might have been like for Madge Oberholtzer. And while it sometimes seems impossible to imagine a world free of hate, it is these upbeat moments of peace that can free the mind and encourage hope. Indeed, this book ends with an appropriate mix of defiant hope and resolve.

The Invisible Empire: Madge Oberholtzer and the Unmasking of the Ku Klux Klan is a 112-page hardcover, available as of September 17, 2019. For more details and how to purchase, visit Insight Comics right here.

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Comics Shop Focus: Brian’s Comics in Petaluma, California

Brian’s Comics in Petaluma

From time to time, Comics Grinder features a notable comics shop. If you find yourself in Petaluma, California, be sure to visit Brian’s Comics. This is what an ideal comics shop should be: organized, clean & tidy, nicely stocked with friendly and knowledgable staff. From the moment you walk in, you know that the owner, Brian himself, will do his level best to match you up with the comics you’re looking for.

Brian’s Comics in Petaluma

While I browsed through the store, I was instantly impressed with how Brian interacted with his customers, putting them at ease and attentive on every point. This is definitely a warm and inviting store. Brian’s Comics has been around now for six years and it looks like this shop has a very bright future.

Brian’s Comics in Petaluma

After a while, I asked Brian my number one question. I asked him what was currently on his radar. To be fair, he mentioned a number of items. I will stick with the one that got my attention the most. Currently, among what he’s been tracking, Brian highly recommend’s Event Leviathan, the six-issue mystery thriller from DC Comics,  written by the legendary Brian Michael Bendis with artwork by Alex Maleev.

Brian’s Comics in Petaluma

Brian’s Comics is an excellent shop. Visit them in Petaluma and on the web right here.

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Interview: Joel Meadows and MASTERS OF COMICS

MASTERS OF COMICS

Masters of Comics: Inside the Studios of the World’s Premier Graphic Storytellers is a unique behind-the-scenes look at the studios and work habits of some of the all-time great comic book artists, published by Insight Comics, with interviews by Joel Meadows. It is a pleasure to get a chance to chat with Joel Meadows, a fellow comics journalist. Mr. Meadows jumped into comics journalism in 1992 with his own Tripwire Magazine. In this interview, we’re going to unpack what that all means. There have been so many others who have joined the ranks of comics journalists, including myself, so there’s plenty to unpack!

HENRY CHAMBERLAIN: Joel, thank you for joining me for this conversation. We’re going to chat about Masters of Comics and the world of comics journalism. You begin in 1992 as a young guy who is compelled to create Tripwire, a magazine of genre culture, and that has evolved into an exciting new website presence and the publication of significant books on pop culture. I believe you really hit upon something with the original Studio Space and now the current Masters of Comics. As a jumping off point, share with us some of the thinking that led you to pursue a collection of in depth process interviews.

It started with the magazine, you mentioned Tripwire. We used to run a feature, Studio Space, where we interviewed artists and illustrators in order to get a closer look, get behind their work: the way they work and how they approach their work. We began with Tim Bradstreet, Phil Hale, and John Bolton. I found it fascinating and I thought it might be fun to pursue this further as a book. We put together a line up of artists for Image in 2008 and that was an impressive book. I was very proud of that book. That came out 11 years ago. We had the late great Joe Kubert. We had Sergio Toppi. We had Steve Dillon. We had Howard Chaykin. I can’t recall everyone. It was a pretty amazing list. I was very proud that we had managed to gather all these great artists together and get into each of their headspace and look at how they actually created work and how each studio was different from the next.

Tripwire magazine, circa 1990s

I love the fact that you have books out in the world. For me, my first loyalty is with print. We both go back to a pre-internet perspective. It used to be that to have something in print was the be all, end all. You feel secure with print. You can feel a bit uncertain about the internet: things can be completely wiped away. The whole website might blow up but you can always have a print edition somewhere. Do you feel like that sometimes?

A little bit. We switched to the web back in 2015 and it has its pros and cons. If you make a mistake you can always go back and fix it. But there’s something about the physicality of a book or a magazine. There’s the tactile nature of it. Say, if you meet someone and they ask you what you do, you can direct them to a website but, in some ways, it’s even nicer to be able to show them the book that you’ve published or the magazine that you edit. There’s something about having something physical that is hard to beat.

Exactly, that’s what I want to stress to everyone. Of course, you can go to a tutorial on Youtube but it’s so great to be able to pick up a book and pore over the pages and make discoveries. I think of someone like John Paul Leon, an amazing artist who will be new to a lot of readers. There’s one title that he worked on, The Winter Men, that really sticks with me. You’ve got such a wonderful range of talent, everyone from Frank Quitely to Bill Sienkiewicz to J.H. Williams III, and everyone has their own way of working. There’s so much to consider, of course, over creating the work physically or digitally or a combination of the two. 

Maybe it’s a generational thing. I interviewed Mike Kaluta for the book and he works physically with pen and ink. J.P. has more of a mix. Walt Simonson works physically but he does fix lines digitally. I think it was Laurence Campbell, who does work physically, who said that, with digital, he misses the idea of being able to have a happy accident. You might make a mistake but it’s a good mistake. It brings the work to life a little bit more. In some ways, it comes down to digital coming across as too precise. The idea that you can go in and fix a mistake in Photoshop can leave some artists feeling that something is missing. Obviously, other artists love digital. Sean Phillips he draws his line art digitally but he also paints physically. He went back to painting for some of his covers and some of his work for Criminal. He likes to jump between the two. It really depends upon the artist. Some like the tactile experience of physically painting. Others like the convenience of digital. So, it comes down to a case by case basis.

Sean Phillips doing digital work.

Yes, I think it does come down to a case by case basis since you can’t totally peg it as generational. You have so many young artists who enjoy doing work physically. I even wonder sometimes if using markers is really the best approach to coloring your work. But, hey, if an artist can make it work with markers, then why not.

Exactly.

Michael William Kaluta doing physical work.

I want to ask you about your own process. Maybe you can take us behind the scenes of how you got the book put together. Did you personally interview each artist in their studio or were some interviews over the phone?

It was a mix. I got to visit some of the artists personally: Mike Kaluta, Walt Simonson, Posy Simmonds, Laurence Campbell, and Sean Phillips. The rest were e-mail or telephone interviews and, for those, they supplied the photographs. I would have loved to have interviewed in person Eduardo Risso but he’s way over in Argentina. The same with Rafael Albuquerque. He’s in Brazil. I did the photography for the artists that I met with in person.

It’s a seamless presentation, how all the profiles were put together into such a compelling whole.

Insight did a great job with the design. It looks beautiful. They did a great job with the typography and the way all the images fit, the comics art and the photography. It holds together really well as a cohesive package.

There are 21 profiles here. Maybe you can tell us something more about the decision-making process in choosing artists. It is a stellar line-up of artists. Rafael Albuquerque. Tim Sale. Yumo Shimizu. The list goes.

We wanted to have a cross section of artists coming from different disciplines. For instance, Walt Simonson is very much a pen and ink guy. John Paul Leon is more of a marker artist. Dave Johnson is a cover artist, one of the best.  If we picked 20 or so artists that were all in the same style, then it would have gotten repetitive. So, we wanted to have something that was varied in terms of approach and actual work.

Share with us about the world of comics journalism. It was a whole other world when you began in 1992. The field was wide open. Back then, there were only a few outlets, like The Comics Journal. Today, it’s a relatively crowded field, especially when you add in all the various tiers of involvement.

It has changed. The Comics Journal had its moments. I used to enjoy Amazing Heroes, going back to the late ’80s. The biggest one was Speakeasy. It had a column by Grant Morrison. It was a very irreverent magazine. That was a big influence on us at Tripwire. Back in the ’90s, you also had Wizard, which really wasn’t for me. And, yeah, I never connected with The Comics Journal. Today, there are a number of good websites. There’s a digital magazine based in the UK that is doing a lot of good work called, PanexPanel, run by Hass Otsmane-Elhaou. And Forces of Geek, with Stefan Blitz, does excellent work too. A lot of sites are just running press releases. At Tripwire, we try to dig deeper. We interview the creators and the key players. We try to look at the bigger picture. It’s a challenge.

Amazing Heroes (1981-1992), published by Fantagraphics

The thing with press releases is that it’s a balancing act. You don’t want to rely on them. You have to really pick and choose. Some are quite informative and newsworthy. What is the criteria for you when it comes to content on Tripwire?

We try for variety and we try to cover people that other websites don’t. For example, we’ve recently run two interviews with Scott Dunbier from IDW. His artist collections and special projects are a great celebration of comics history. So, we try to pick people like him. We’ve interviewed Chuck Palahniuk a couple of times. We’ve interviewed Philip Pullman. We try to go beyond the boundaries of many comics websites. I want to dig a bit deeper like we did with our interview with J. M. DeMatteis. We try not to cover everything. And we try to contextualize our interviews and explain the significance of our interview subjects.

I do my best to go in depth with my interviews. And I’m always on the look out to go beyond the boundaries of a typical pop culture website. I will naturally gravitate to some novel, which may or may not have anything to do with comics. I might bring in an essay, or whatever. It just happens organically and it helps to keep things fresh and bring in a cross section of readers.

Yes, we do that too on occasion.

Speakeasy, “the organ of the comics world,” March, 1990

I wonder what your take is on alternative comics. My partner, Jennifer, and I are both cartoonists. We come from that indie alt-comics scene. I’m sure you’re familiar with the Page 45 quote.

Yes, I am.

It’s a brilliant observation by Stephen Holland, owner of the UK comics shop Page 45, about how “alternative comics are the real mainstream.”

There’s a lot of great material. I read indie comics. I’ve read the likes of Joe Matt and Daniel Clowes and Adrian Tomine back in the ’90s. I tried to keep up with their careers. There’s incredibly talented people. You have someone like Ed Brubaker who started life as an indie cartoonist and moved into the mainstream. He’s one of these guys who can straddle the two. I believe the Page 45 quote gets it right. You can give someone who doesn’t normally read comics a book like Berlin, by Jason Lutes, and they can appreciate it. But they will have a much harder time with a Batman or Teen Titan graphic novel which relies on more in depth comics knowledge.

MASTERS OF COMICS

I just need to ask you about what’s been on your pop culture radar. For instance, what was your take on how Game of Thrones on HBO resolved itself?

You have to feel sorry for the creators of the show since you can’t satisfy everyone. I remember when the Sopranos ended. I really liked how it ended but there were a lot of people who weren’t happy. A big show like that, which has been around for years, it’s almost impossible to satisfy all of your audience. I think the ending to Game of Thrones was okay. To be honest, I’m not sure how else HBO could have ended it.

There are some shows that we in the States have to wait for from across the pond. But then there’s also the reverse. For example, the new Twilight Zone on CBS All Access. Are you looking forward to that one?

I am curious. I enjoyed Get Out a lot. I think Jordan Peele is quite talented. I’m curious as to whether or not they’ve managed to keep that original flavor.

I’ve gotten a chance to view the whole season and I think it’s coming together. I think it’s going to be of those shows that will probably remain a bit uneven but can have exceptional episodes so you root for it.

There’s quite a bit of TV. I’m trying to catch up with Jessica Jones. I’m a bit ambivalent about the Marvel shows on Netflix. I enjoyed a lot of Daredevil and Luke Cage. I think the big problem is that a lot of these shows run too long. They would be much better off with shorter runs of six episodes per season. Another one, Punisher, I just couldn’t finish that.

How would you like to end our talk? Anything else you’d like to add about Tripwire or Masters of Comics?

We continue to evolve the Tripwire website. We’re hoping to organize a talk that ties in Masters of Comics at the Society of Illustrators in October during New York Comic Con. It would include Walt Simonson and Shawn Martinbrough. It would be very nice to have an event tie-in for the book. We’re also looking forward to some collections of interviews from Tripwire. This is something we’re working with another publisher on. The plan is to have the first book available in time for next year’s Comic Con in San Diego. So, that’s exciting. We’ll be returning to print after a bit of a break.

That would be so exciting to have a talk at Society of Illustrators. I hope that works out.

Well, thank you. We’re hoping to pin that down.

Thanks so much, Joel.

Thank you, Henry.

You can listen to a portion of the podcast interview by just clicking the link below:

Masters of Comics: Inside the Studios of the World’s Premier Graphic Storytellers is a 184-page full color trade paperback, with 21 profiles, with art samples and studio photographs, published by Insight Comics.

Keep up with Joel Meadows and Tripwire magazine by going right here.

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Interview: Jason Leivian, owner of Floating World Comics

Jason Leivian, owner of Floating World Comics

During a recent visit to Portland, Oregon, I interviewed Jason Leivian, who runs Floating World Comics, one of the best comic book shops you could hope for. This is a comic book shop taken up to the level of a curatorial experience with everything neatly organized in different categories.

Floating World Comics holds the distinction of being one of few comic book shops that also functions as a publisher. During this interview, my goal was to bring out all that is special about Floating World Comics, and Jason Leivian proved to be a most excellent host. I hope you enjoy the video interview below:

I’ve come back with some choice titles published by FWC and we will be taking a look at them in the coming days.

When in Portland, or whenever you wish to find something exceptional in comics online, be sure to visit Floating World Comics.

 

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Comics Grinder Video Review Recap: The Otaku Box and Current Hot Titles including Little Bird, The Wrong Earth, and Invisible Kingdom

A recap of current cool stuff, posted 13 March 2019

When people find out that I’m a cartoonist and especially that I write about comics and pop culture, the first question that is asked is, What do you recommend? Here are some answers. Over the weekend, as I escaped the heat, I decided to make a dent in my already unwieldy stack of review material. In the video below, we take a look at The Otaku Box, a new crate box service focusing on anime and manga plus a recap on some current hot comics titles: Invisible Kingdom, Little Bird, Captain America, Man and Superman, and The Wrong Earth.

I hope you enjoy this video and I invite you to like, comment, and subscribe to my evolving YouTube channel. I feel pretty good about it and any additional motivation from you folks is always appreciated. I will continue to add videos as time permits.

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Review: LAWNS by Alex Nall

LAWNS by Alex Nall

Lawns, by Alex Nall, published by Kilgore Books, is a small graphic novel that, to my reading, is essentially a parable about the consequences of turning someone into a scapegoat. No one likes Roger. Neighbors condemn him for his unkempt lawn and for his unleashed dog. It seems like a manageable problem but definitely not in this small town. Roger is the town’s Boo Radley. Nall has put together a narrative that follows the election of the town’s mayor. Chuck is running undisputed. However, Carl, a disgruntled and unsavory sort, has mounted a write-in campaign for himself. Oddly enough, Carl makes a few good points but he’s pathetically unqualified. Poor Roger falls somewhere in the middle as a convenient distraction. Overall, I think the story would have been better off had Roger, already having inspired the town’s ire, had been the sole issue in the town’s election. That said, this is an ambitious undertaking and Nall deserves credit.

Page excerpt from LAWNS

A hallmark of many a work of alt-comics is that it is all done by hand and basically retains an organic vibe. Nall is certainly aware of that and appears to revel in it. My only quibble is that the drawing, at times, falls short on clarity and consistency. I’m not saying the rendering needs to be worked over in some elaborate way. If you take a look at Charles Forsman’s Hobo Mom, this is quite a compelling short graphic novel, only 62 pages, done in a relatively simple style. Nall seems to want to vary how he depicts the main character, Roger, but the way he goes about it has the potential to lose the reader. And, towards the end, there are some scenes that are a bit rushed. This is not to say that Nall should ever consider losing his expressive line. I do prefer a more sketchy line than one that is way too polished. Sometimes, you just go where you need to go as a cartoonist and let your expressive line evolve as you evolve. I am certainly curious to see what Mr. Nall does next since he’s clearly hungry for a challenge and he’s a capable cartoonist.

Lawns is a 108-page trade paperback, b&w, published by Kilgore Books.

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Movie Review: Avengers: Endgame

It’s Endgame time!

If you’re a Marvel Comics fan, or just about anyone game for some fun entertainment, it is hard to resist heading out to see the latest, and final, Avengers movie as we’ve come to know them. Last? Hey, it isn’t called Endgame for nothing! Now, let’s be honest, the Marvel franchise’s ideal audience, those most susceptible to having a mind-blowing experience from this movie, are way younger than my average reader. It’s kids who most love and most relate to this–as well it should be. Sure, without a heck of a lot of mature and professional adults, there would be no Marvel franchise but, at its heart, this is primarily kid-friendly fare. That said, there’s no shame in being a kid at heart and I definitely found that to be the case last night. What’s more, fueled by the Disney-Marvel powerhouse of pop storytelling, what is essentially magnificent entertainment excess manages to strike enough chords to not only satisfy hard-core fans but also those looking for some humanity with their popcorn. In fact, Marvel has proven time and time again to have a golden touch when it comes to character development.

A new Hulk among the interesting tweaks in new and final Avengers flick.

Without an end, we can’t fully appreciate the whole. With a satisfying and well constructed ending, we can often forgive any shortcomings along the way and we can take a satisfying pause before the next big thing. That’s how it works for regular comic book readers as they follow a certain story arc through a series of issues to its end. And that is what regular moviegoers have come to see ever since the current Marvel Comics franchise has been in existence. This Avengers movie rounds out a ten-year reign for Marvel Comics on the big screen. Never before has a mainstream audience been provided with so much of the narrative, full of all the nerdy and arcane details, that was once the sole domain of the comic book reading experience. Even the relatively obscure animated features based on comics books did not go as deep. All that said, with this Avengers movie, a mass audience gets to experience the bittersweet sting of finality. Yes, it should be no spoiler here, some stuff happens in this movie that is very, very final.

Among the very nerdy but usually quite delightful things you find in this movie that is a staple of comic books is something that subverts your expectations. The best example of that is what happens to The Hulk. It is right in the spirit of Marvel’s traditionally dry humor. The Hulk is no longer the aggressive out-of-control brute we’re so familiar with. Nope, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) has been tinkering with his perpetual recipe for disaster and has managed to combine the best of both worlds! Now, he’s turned himself into a hybrid: the enormous strength of The Hulk has morphed with the brilliant mind of Bruce Banner! He’s now a kinder and gentler Hulk who can now discern what is the most efficient way to dispatch of a supervillain without wreaking havoc in his wake each and every time. There’s also a very funny makeover going on with Thor but I will let you find out about that on your own.

Again, the big takeaway here is that all things must come to an end–well, at least, for now. Avengers: Endgame, the fourth and final Avengers superhero movie, is the 22nd movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which launched in 2008 with Iron Man. Those films have now eclipsed $19 billion in worldwide box office. The timing to bring the Avengers leg of the franchise as we’ve known it to a close could not be any better. We’ve had some true heroes here among actors, everyone from Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Bradley Cooper to Josh Brolin. Box office records for Avengers: Endgame show a stunning $350 million in North America and $1.2 billion worldwide. It could not have been planned ahead for any better. If all the time and effort involved in getting this franchise right was used for something else, well, the results would likely be just as stunning. You can fill in the blank however you please. A cure for… Or and end to… Now, that’s a mind-blowing proposition.

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Filed under Comics, Disney, Marvel Comics, Movie Reviews

2019 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards Nominees Announced

 

Alex de Campi

Excitement is in the air as nominees are rejoicing over being part of this year’s Eisner Awards for Comics Excellence. The Eisner is the equivalent to The Oscar in the comics industry. The awards are presented every year at Comic-Con International: San Diego. This year’s ceremony is Friday, July 19, 2019. The official list has just been released and you can see it here or just look down below. A good amount of alternative comics and big publishers made the list with a big lead for Image Comics and D.C. Comics. As noted above, Alex de Campi received multiple nominations, as did Tom King.

Noah Van Sciver

Judges for this year are comics journalist Chris Arrant (Newsarama), academic/author Jared Gardner (Ohio State University), librarian Traci Glass (Multnomah County Library system in Portland, Oregon), retailer Jenn Haines (The Dragon, Guelph and Milton, Ontario, Canada), reviewer Steven Howearth (Pop Culture Maven), and comics creator Jimmie Robinson (CyberZone, Amanda & Gunn, Bomb Girl).

Nate Powell

The official SDCC statement follows:

Image and DC received the most nominations: Image with 19 (plus 11 shared), and DC with 17 (plus 7 shared). Image swept the Best New Series category, with all six nominees (including Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl’s Isola, up for 2 other categories as well). Also strong for Image are Steven Seagle’s Get Naked anthology (3 nominations), Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies (2 nominations), and the Alex de Campi–edited Twisted Romance (2 nominations plus 1 shared). For DC, Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ Mister Miracle is up for 4 nods, Eternity Girl has 2 nominations plus 1 shared, MAD and Exit Stage Left have 2, and Batman is nominated in Best Continuing Series plus several shared categories.

Other  publishers with multiple nominations include IDW (10 plus 2 shared), Lion Forge (10), First Second (9 plus 1 shared), Marvel (7 plus 5 shared), Dark Horse (7 plus 3 shared), BOOM!(5 plus 1 shared), Drawn & Quarterly (5), and Gallery 13 (3 plus 2 shared). Six companies had 3 nominees: Beehive Books, Ohio State University Press, TwoMorrows, VIZ Media, and WEBTOON. Eight companies have 2 nominations each, and another 30 companies or individuals have 1 nomination each.

In addition to Isola, Mister Miracle, and Get Naked, titles with the most nominations include two books from Lion Forge/Magnetic Press, with 3 each: Watersnakes by Tony Sandoval (Best Publication for Teens, Best Writer/Artist, Best Painter) and A Sea of Love by Wilfrid Lupano and Grégory Panaccione (Best U.S. Edition of International Material, Best Painter, and Best Publication Design).

The creator with the most nominations is Tom King with 5: Best Short Story (from DC’s Swamp Thing Winter Special), Best Continuing Series (Batman), Best Limited Series (Mister Miracle), Best Graphic Album­–Reprint (The Vision hardcover), and Best Writer. Two creators have 4 nominations each: Alex de Campi (Best Graphic Album–New: Bad Girls, Best Anthology: Twisted Romance, Best Writer, Best Letterer) and Jeff Lemire (Best Single Issue: Black Hammer: Cthu-Louise, Best Continuing Series: Black Hammer: Age of Doom, Best New Series: Gideon Falls, Best Writer). Creators with 3 nominations are Karl Kerschl (Best New Series, Best Penciller/Inker, Best Cover Artist for Isola), Grégory Panaccione (Best U.S. Edition of International Material, Best Painter, and Best Publication Design for A Sea of Love), and Tony Sandoval (Best Publication for Teens, Best Writer/Artist, Best Painter for Watersnakes).

Eleven individuals are nominated for 2 Eisners: John Allison,  Emily Carroll, Nick Drnaso, Mitch Gerads, Sonny Liew, Carolyn Nowak, Sean Phillips, Nate Powell, Mark Russell, Noah van Sciver, and Jen Wang.

Voting for the awards is held online, and the ballot will be available at www.eisnervote.com. All professionals in the comic book industry are eligible to vote. The deadline for voting is June 14. The results of the voting will be announced in a gala awards ceremony on the evening of Friday, July 19 at a gala awards ceremony at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel. Jackie Estrada is the Eisner Awards Administrator.

Best Short Story

  • “Get Naked in Barcelona,” by Steven T. Seagle and Emei Olivia Burrell, in Get Naked (Image)
  • “The Ghastlygun Tinies,” by Matt Cohen and Marc Palm, in MAD magazine #4 (DC)
  • “Here I Am,” by Shaun Tan, in I Feel Machine (SelfMadeHero)
  • “Life During Interesting Times,” by Mike Dawson (The Nib), https://thenib.com/greatest-generation-interesting-times
  • “Supply Chains,” by Peter and Maria Hoey, in Coin-Op #7 (Coin-Op Books)
  • “The Talk of the Saints,” by Tom King and Jason Fabok, in Swamp Thing Winter Special (DC)

Best Single Issue/One-Shot
  • Beneath the Dead Oak Tree, by Emily Carroll (ShortBox)
  • Black Hammer: Cthu-Louise, by Jeff Lemire and Emi Lenox (Dark Horse)
  • No Better Words, by Carolyn Nowak (Silver Sprocket)
  • Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #310, by Chip Zdarsky (Marvel)
  • The Terrible Elisabeth Dumn Against the Devils In Suits, by Arabson, translated by James Robinson (IHQ Studio/ Image)

Best Continuing Series
  • Batman, by Tom King et al. (DC)
  • Black Hammer: Age of Doom, by Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston, and Rich Tommaso (Dark Horse)
  • Gasolina, by Sean Mackiewicz and Niko Walter (Skybound/Image)
  • Giant Days, by John Allison, Max Sarin, and Julaa Madrigal (BOOM! Box)
  • The Immortal Hulk, by Al Ewing, Joe Bennett, and Ruy José (Marvel)
  • Runaways, by Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka (Marvel)

Best Limited Series
  • Batman: White Knight, by Sean Murphy (DC)
  • Eternity Girl, by Magdalene Visaggio and Sonny Liew (Vertigo/DC)
  • Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles, by Mark Russell, Mike Feehan, and Mark Morales (DC)
  • Mister Miracle, by Tom King and Mitch Gerads (DC)
  • X-Men: Grand Design: Second Genesis, by Ed Piskor (Marvel)

Best New Series
  • Bitter Root, by David Walker, Chuck Brown, and Sanford Green (Image)
  • Crowded, by Christopher Sebela, Ro Stein, and Ted Brandt (Image)
  • Gideon Falls, by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino (Image)
  • Isola, by Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl (Image)
  • Man-Eaters, by Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk (Image)
  • Skyward, by Joe Henderson and Lee Garbett (Image)

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 8)
  • Johnny Boo and the Ice Cream Computer, by James Kochalka (Top Shelf/IDW)
  • Petals, by Gustavo Borges (KaBOOM!)
  • Peter & Ernesto: A Tale of Two Sloths, by Graham Annable (First Second)
  • This Is a Taco! By Andrew Cangelose and Josh Shipley (CubHouse/Lion Forge)
  • Tiger Vs. Nightmare, by Emily Tetri (First Second)

Best Publication for Kids (ages 9–12)
  • Aquicorn Cove, by Katie O’Neill (Oni)
  • Be Prepared, by Vera Brosgol (First Second)
  • The Cardboard Kingdom, by Chad Sell (Knopf/Random House Children’s Books)
  • Crush, by Svetlana Chmakova (JY/Yen Press)
  • The Divided Earth, by Faith Erin Hicks (First Second)

Best Publication for Teens (ages 13–17)
  • All Summer Long, by Hope Larson (Farrar Straus Giroux)
  • Gumballs, by Erin Nations (Top Shelf/IDW)
  • Middlewest, by Skottie Young and Jorge Corona (Image)
  • Norroway, Book 1: The Black Bull of Norroway, by Cat Seaton and Kit Seaton (Image)
  • The Prince and the Dressmaker, by Jen Wang (First Second)
  • Watersnakes, by Tony Sandoval, translated by Lucas Marangon (Magnetic/Lion Forge)

Best Humor Publication
  • Get Naked, by Steven T. Seagle et al. (Image)
  • Giant Days, by John Allison, Max Sarin, and Julia Madrigal (BOOM! Box)
  • MAD magazine, edited by Bill Morrison (DC)
  • A Perfect Failure: Fanta Bukowski 3, by Noah Van Sciver (Fantagraphics)
  • Woman World, by Aminder Dhaliwal (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Anthology
  • Femme Magnifique: 50 Magnificent Women Who Changed the World, edited by Shelly Bond (Black Crown/IDW)
  • Puerto Rico Strong, edited by Marco Lopez, Desiree Rodriguez, Hazel Newlevant, Derek Ruiz, and Neil Schwartz (Lion Forge)
  • Twisted Romance, edited by Alex de Campi (Image)
  • Where We Live: A Benefit for the Survivors in Las Vegas, edited by Will Dennis, curated by J. H. Williams III and Wendy Wright-Williams (Image)

Best Reality-Based Work
  • All the Answers: A Graphic Memoir, by Michael Kupperman (Gallery 13)
  • All the Sad Songs, by Summer Pierre (Retrofit/Big Planet)
  • Is This Guy For Real? The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman, by Box Brown (First Second)
  • Monk! by Youssef Daoudi (First Second)
  • One Dirty Tree, by Noah Van Sciver (Uncivilized Books)

Best Graphic Album—New
  • Bad Girls, by Alex de Campi and Victor Santos (Gallery 13)
  • Come Again, by Nate Powell (Top Shelf/IDW)
  • Green Lantern: Earth One Vol. 1, by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman (DC)
  • Homunculus, by Joe Sparrow (ShortBox)
  • My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Image)
  • Sabrina, by Nick Drnaso (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Graphic Album—Reprint
  • Berlin, by Jason Lutes (Drawn & Quarterly)
  • Girl Town, by Carolyn Nowak (Top Shelf/IDW)
  • Upgrade Soul, by Ezra Claytan Daniels (Lion Forge)
  • The Vision hardcover, by Tom King, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, and Michael Walsh (Marvel)
  • Young Frances, by Hartley Lin (AdHouse Books)

Best Adaptation from Another Medium
  • Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation, adapted by Ari Folman and David Polonsky (Pantheon)
  • “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley, in Frankenstein: Junji Ito Story Collection, adapted by Junji Ito, translated by Jocelyne Allen (VIZ Media)
  • Out in the Open by Jesús Carraso, adapted by Javi Rey, translated by Lawrence Schimel (SelfMadeHero)
  • Speak: The Graphic Novel, by Laurie Halse Anderson and Emily Carroll (Farrar Straus Giroux)
  • To Build a Fire: Based on Jack London’s Classic Story, by Chabouté (Gallery 13)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material
  • About Betty’s Boobby Vero Cazot and Julie Rocheleau, translated by Edward Gauvin (Archaia/BOOM!)
  • Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World, by Pénélope Bagieu (First Second)
  • Herakles Book 1, by Edouard Cour, translated by Jeremy Melloul (Magnetic/Lion Forge)
  • Niourk, by Stefan Wul and Olivier Vatine, translated by Brandon Kander and Diana Schutz (Dark Horse)
  • A Sea of Love, by Wilfrid Lupano and Grégory Panaccione (Magnetic/Lion Forge)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia
  • Abara: Complete Deluxe Edition, by Tsutomu Nihei, translated by Sheldon Drzka (VIZ Media)
  • Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction, by Inio Asano, translated by John Werry (VIZ Media)
  • Laid-Back Camp, by Afro, translated by Amber Tamosaitis (Yen Press)
  • My Beijing: Four Stories of Everyday Wonder, by Nie Jun, translated by Edward Gauvin (Graphic Universe/Lerner)
  • Tokyo Tarareba Girls, by Akiko Higashimura (Kodansha)

Best Archival Collection/Project—Strips
  • Pogo, vol. 5: Out of This World At Home, by Walt Kelly, edited by Mark Evanier and Eric Reynolds (Fantagraphics)
  • Sky Masters of the Space Force: The Complete Sunday Strips in Color (1959–1960), by Jack Kirby, Wally Wood et al., edited by Ferran Delgado (Amigo Comics)
  • Star Wars: Classic Newspaper Strips, vol. 3, by Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson, edited by Dean Mullaney (Library of American Comics/IDW)
  • The Temple of Silence: Forgotten Words and Worlds of Herbert Crowley, by Justin Duerr (Beehive Books
  • Thimble Theatre and the Pre-Popeye Comics of E. C. Segar, edited by Peter Maresca (Sunday Press)

Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books
  • Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman Deluxe Edition, edited by Paul Levitz (DC)
  • Bill Sienkiewicz’s Mutants and Moon Knights… And Assassins… Artifact Edition, edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)
  • Dirty Plotte: The Complete Julie Doucet (Drawn & Quarterly)
  • Madman Quarter Century Shindig, by Mike Allred, edited by Chris Ryall (IDW)
  • Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise Gallery Edition, edited by Joseph Melchior and Bob Chapman (Abstract Studio/Graphitti Designs)
  • Will Eisner’s A Contract with God: Curator’s Collection, edited by John Lind (Kitchen Sink/Dark Horse)

Best Writer
  • Alex de Campi, Bad Girls (Gallery 13); Twisted Romance (Image)
  • Tom King, Batman, Mister Miracle, Heroes in Crisis, Swamp Thing Winter Special (DC)
  • Jeff Lemire, Black Hammer: Age of Doom, Doctor Star & the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows, Quantum Age (Dark Horse); Descender, Gideon Falls, Royal City (Image)
  • Mark Russell, Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles, Green Lantern/Huckleberry Hound, Lex Luthor/Porky Pig (DC); Lone Ranger (Dynamite)
  • Kelly Thompson, Nancy Drew (Dynamite); Hawkeye, Jessica Jones, Mr. & Mrs. X, Rogue & Gambit, Uncanny X-Men, West Coast Avengers (Marvel)
  • Chip Zdarsky, Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man, Marvel Two-in-One (Marvel)

Best Writer/Artist
  • Sophie Campbell, Wet Moon (Oni)
  • Nick Drnaso, Sabrina (Drawn & Quarterly)
  • David Lapham, Lodger (Black Crown/IDW); Stray Bullets (Image)
  • Nate Powell, Come Again (Top Shelf/IDW)
  • Tony Sandoval, Watersnakes (Magnetic/Lion Forge)
  • Jen Wang, The Prince and the Dressmaker (First Second)

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team
  • Matías BergaraCoda (BOOM!)
  • Mitch Gerads, Mister Miracle (DC)
  • Karl Kerschl, Isola (Image)
  • Sonny Liew, Eternity Girl (Vertigo/DC)
  • Sean Phillips, Kill or Be Killed, My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies (Image)
  • Yanick Paquette, Wonder Woman Earth One, vol. 2 (DC)

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art)
  • Lee Bermejo, Batman: Damned (DC)
  • Carita Lupatelli, Izuna Book 2 (Humanoids)
  • Dustin Nguyen, Descender (Image)
  • Gregory Panaccione, A Sea of Love (Magnetic/Lion Forge)
  • Tony Sandoval, Watersnakes (Magnetic/Lion Forge)

Best Cover Artist (for multiple covers)
  • Jen Bartel, Blackbird (Image); Submerged (Vault)
  • Nick Derington, Mister Miracle (DC)
  • Karl Kerschl, Isola (Image)
  • Joshua Middleton, Batgirl and Aquaman variants (DC)
  • Julian Tedesco, Hawkeye, Life of Captain Marvel (Marvel)

Best Coloring
  • Jordie Bellaire, Batgirl, Batman (DC); The Divided Earth (First Second); Days of Hate, Dead Hand, Head Lopper, Redlands (Image); Shuri, Doctor Strange (Marvel)
  • Tamra Bonvillain, Alien 3 (Dark Horse); Batman, Doom Patrol (DC); Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Multiple Man (Marvel)
  • Nathan Fairbairn, Batman, Batgirl, Birds of Prey, Wonder Woman Earth One, vol. 2 (DC); Die!Die!Die! (Image)
  • Matt Hollingsworth, Batman: White Knight (DC): Seven to Eternity, Wytches (Image)
  • Matt Wilson, Black Cloud, Paper Girls, The Wicked + The Divine (Image); The Mighty Thor, Runaways (Marvel)

Best Lettering
  • David Aja, Seeds (Berger Books/Dark Horse)
  • Jim Campbell, BreathlessCalexit, Gravetrancers, Snap Flash Hustle, Survival FetishThe Wilds (Black Mask); AbbottAlice: Dream to Dream, Black Badge, CluelessCodaFenceFireflyGiant DaysGrass Kings, Lumberjanes: The Infernal CompassLow Road WestSparrowhawk (BOOM); Angelic (Image); Wasted Space (Vault)
  • Alex de Campi, Bad Girls (Gallery 13); Twisted Romance (Image)
  • Jared Fletcher, Batman: Damned (DC); The Gravediggers Union, Moonshine, Paper Girls, Southern Bastards (Image)
  • Todd Klein— Black Hammer: Age of Doom, Neil Gaiman’s A Study in Emerald (Dark Horse); Batman: White Night (DC); Eternity Girl, Books of Magic (Vertigo/DC); The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Tempest (Top Shelf/IDW)

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism
  • Back Issue, edited by Michael Eury (TwoMorrows)
  • The Columbus Scribbler, edited by Brian Canini, columbusscribbler.com
  • Comicosity, edited by Aaron Long and Matt Santori,  www.comicosity.com
  • LAAB Magazine #0: Dark Matter, edited by Ronald Wimberley and Josh O’Neill (Beehive Books)
  • PanelxPanel magazine, edited by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, panelxpanel.com

Best Comics-Related Book
  • Comic Book Implosion: An Oral History of DC Comics Circa 1978, by Keith Dallas and John Wells (TwoMorrows)
  • Drawn to Purpose: American Women Illustrators and Cartoonists, by Martha H. Kennedy (University Press of Mississippi)
  • The League of Regrettable Sidekicks, by Jon Morris (Quirk Books)
  • Mike Grell: Life Is Drawing Without an Eraser, by Dewey Cassell with Jeff Messer (TwoMorrows)
  • Yoshitaka Amano: The Illustrated Biography—Beyond the Fantasy, by Florent Gorges, translated by Laure Dupont and Annie Gullion (Dark Horse)

Best Academic/Scholarly Work
  • Between Pen and Pixel: Comics, Materiality, and the Book of the Future, by Aaron Kashtan (Ohio State University Press)
  • Breaking the Frames: Populism and Prestige in Comics Studies, by Marc Singer (University of Texas Press)
  • The Goat-Getters: Jack Johnson, the Fight of the Century, and How a Bunch of Raucous Cartoonists Reinvented Comics, by Eddie Campbell (Library of American Comics/IDW/Ohio State University Press)
  • Incorrigibles and Innocents, by Lara Saguisag (Rutgers Univeristy Press)
  • Sweet Little C*nt: The Graphic Work of Julie Doucet, by Anne Elizabeth Moore (Uncivilized Books)

Best Publication Design
  • A Sea of Love, designed by Wilfrid Lupano, Grégory Panaccione, and Mike Kennedy (Magnetic/Lion Forge)
  • The Stan Lee Story Collector’s Edition, designed by Josh Baker (Taschen)
  • The Temple of Silence: Forgotten Worlds of Herbert Crowley, designed by Paul Kepple and Max Vandenberg (Beehive Books)
  • Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise Gallery Edition, designed by Josh Beatman/Brainchild Studios/NYC (Abstract Studio/Graphitti Designs)
  • Will Eisner’s A Contract with God: Curator’s Collection, designed by John Lind (Kitchen Sink/Dark Horse)

Best Digital Comic

Best Webcomic

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Review: PLANET OF THE NERDS #1

PLANET OF THE NERDS #1

We all experience bullies in one form or another–you just can’t escape them. Collectively, many of us are dealing with being bullied by the President of the United States. It is a phenomena many of us (I would really like to say ALL of us) hope will never happen again. Donald Trump has been a bully for decades. He was the model for one of pop culture’s most infamous bullies, Biff Tannen, from the Back to the Future franchise. Well, Paul Constant channels Biff Tannen in his script for a very funny and refreshing new comic book, Planet of the Nerds, published by AHOY Comics.

AHOY Comics? you may ask. I know. It’s new and it’s made a lot of promises that it has attached to its name: A is for Abundance. H is for Humor. O is for Originality. And Y is for YES! AHOY founder Hart Seely is a former newspaper man and he’s serious about wanting to provide something substantial to the comic book market. So far, it does look good for AHOY as they have hit the ground running with a nice mix of titles: The Wrong Earth finds a superhero and supervillain trading places; High Heaven gives a chronic complainer his comeuppance; Captain Ginger is an all-out cats-in-outerspace adventure; and Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Terror is sort of a revisit to Tales of the Crypt. Part of the next wave of titles is Planet of the Nerds. All these titles share a really fun format that includes the feature story, a background story, plus a surprise grab bag that can include prose and even poetry.

Chad pummels Alvin Ad Infinitum

Getting back to Planet of the Nerds, this first issue packs a wallop thanks to the upbeat script by Constant as well as the impressive work by the rest of the creative team which includes artist Alan Robinson and colorist Felipe Sobreiro. The opener finds our bully, Chad, center stage as he pummels Alvin, a hapless fellow high school student. Chad is as stereotypical a bully as you’ll ever care to find. And Alvin is as stereotypical a misfit as you’ll ever see. And perhaps therein lies a wonderful opportunity to play with some well-worn tropes. Will Chad just keep whomping on Alvin? Will Alvin just keep being a doormat? It is a pure dichotomy, a Zen-like premise, a perfect paring of yin and yang. Constant breaks things up by having Chad’s two allies, Steve and Drew, act more human than henchmen. And the initial setting for the story is the late ’80s complete with all its excess and naivete. One of the best lines in this first issue is from Jenny, Steve’s girlfriend, who sweetly mocks his naturally meek demeanor: “If a man in a brown van tries to give you candy, just say, ‘No!'” Ah, nostalgic young love! The art by Robinson and the colors by Sobreiro conspire to provide just the right retro look reminiscent of the work of Ed Piskor.

Cover artist David Nakayama

Suffice it to say, everything is set for a rollicking good adventure. It will be no spoiler to say that this is something of a time travel story. AHOY says as much in their promo copy. And there is definitely a Back to the Future vibe going on here. The future in this case is our own era, a time that would leave any kid from the ’80s doing double takes. Chad, the ultimate nerd hater must come face to face with a world where, as we’ve heard so often, the nerds have won. But have they, really? I don’t know that this comic will fully answer that question but you just never know.
Planet of the Nerds #1 is available as of April 17th, published by AHOY Comics. For more details, and how to purchase, go right here.

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Filed under AHOY Comics, Bullies, Bullying, Comics, Comics Reviews, Geeks, Nerds, Paul Constant