Page from the graphic novel, DOPE, by Trina Robbins
IT’S ALIVE! is an imprint that specializes in bringing great comics, many out of print for decades, to new readers. IT’S ALIVE! has partnered with IDW Publishing to make these wonderful books available to you. However, the imprint’s founder and editor, Drew Ford, is still responsible to come up with the funds to publish each book. Right now, a Kickstarter campaign is going on in support of the first ever collection of a comic book adaptation by Trina Robbins of Sax Rohmer’s 1919 novel, DOPE. The Kickstarter campaign runs thru August 19th and you can support it right here.
If this Kickstarter campaign is successful, IT’S ALIVE! will publish the first ever collection of Trina Robbin’s comic book adaptation of Sax Rohmer’s sensational 1919 novel, DOPE. The story centers around a talented young actress, who becomes fatally ensnared in London’s mysterious and glittery drug culture of the early 20th century. DOPE was both the first novel to speak openly about the world’s international drug trade, and the first story to center around the death of a celebrity by drug overdose. Robbin’s comic book adaptation was first published in 1981, serialized within the pages of ECLIPSE MAGAZINE (and later, ECLIPSE MONTHLY). The story started out in a black and white magazine, and finished up in color comic book. Since its initial publication, it has never been collected in any form.
Trina Robbins is one of the best cartoonists in a long history of great comics art. DOPE exemplifies her distinctive vision. The campaign ends soon, August 19th. Jump on board here.
Wendy Darling gets the jitters about attending a new high school.
There is plenty to like about NVRLND, an exciting new comic involving wild teens and magic, published by 451 MEDIA GROUP. I’ve always said that a comic with a sexy element to it does best if it does not leave its brains at the door. This is a whipsmart sexy comic plus a lot more. It’s easy enough for a new publisher to fall into churning out exploitation content. 451 takes a different approach. Here goes: NVRLND is the sort of comic that promises and delivers a wild and interesting ride. It has a priceless scenario to kick off with: Set amid the underground music scene, kids are dropping like flies when they get hooked on the new designer drug, Pixie Dust, which makes them think they can fly.
Even if you really believe you can fly, is that enough to save you from sure death when you jump off a building? No, most likely you are going to die. That is exactly what is happening to kids in present-day Hollywood. Alexis, the mayor’s daughter, jumped to her death high on Pixie Dust. And so our story begins. Alexis had hooked up with Peter, the handsome young owner to the nightclub, Neverland. Peter had just taken the stage to perform in his band, The Lost Boys, when Alexis jumped from high above. Pixie Dust. Peter knows it is Hook, this mysterious tattoo artist, who is behind the Pixie Dust epidemic. It’s only a matter of time before the two have it out.
Leila Leiz’s artwork is quite stunning, full of life. The script by Dylan Mulick and Stephanie Salyers is genuinely clever and authentic. The whole creative team paints you an intriguing picture of the dark side of Hollywood! Yes, if this sounds oddly familiar, this is a brash and original “retelling” of the Peter Pan tale. As this first issue demonstrates, Hollywood, the land where you never have to grow up, is the perfect setting for this engaging story. For those who enjoy a narrative that faithfully uses local flavor, readers will enjoy the strong Hollywood connection. Overall, a fun and smart ride. It will be fun to see how things develop in this four-issue series.
“Weed: The User’s Guide: A 21st Century Handbook for Enjoying Marijuana” by David Schmader
With cannabis, you have a loaded subject, so to speak. Bringing up marijuana can often elicit nervous giggles. And people usually don’t know what they are giggling about. It’s time for all of us, especially government, to grow up. As cannabis continues to go mainstream, all of us, users and nonusers, need to get better educated on a very misunderstood plant. Over time, the general public will come to accept the many medical benefits derived from cannabis. What is more challenging is for everyone to enter a parallel universe where cannabis is accepted, integrated into our lives, and its use is common knowledge. To that end, one of the very best cannabis books as of late is “Weed: The User’s Guide: A 21st Century Handbook for Enjoying Marijuana” by David Schmader, published by Sasquatch Books.
The good news is that, for responsible folks, easy accessibility to weed should be a relatively easy transition. Retail sales of cannabis in Washington state, for example, are already geared to an older, and supposedly wiser, demographic. These are going to be, by and large, people who have a stake in the community and are basically going to do the right thing, so to speak. They will buy some weed and treat it in the way they would having a glass of wine on the weekend. Well, that is one ideal scenario. Schmader’s book covers not only this neat and tidy group but all of us. People can overdo it. People can go blindly into something. You know, all of us.
What I really love about this book is that, along with being entertaining, it is so honest in its approach. Hey, if weed it not for you, well then, that’s totally valid. Here is a great example of Mr. Schmader’s accessible and natural tone running throughout this essential book:
“Weed’s pleasurable effects are brought on by cannabinoids’s disruption of the brain’s neural messaging–but “disrupting neural messaging” is an imprecise art, and different strains in different brains can create effects that cross the line from pleasant and fascinating to itchy and weird. For example, the neuron-disruption that some users experience as expanded consciousness can trap others in a cul-de-sac of hypercritical introspection, and one person’s THC-driven explosion of creative ideas can be another person’s panic attack. The truth is that a good number of people who try weed experience predominately unpleasant effects, from intense anxiety to racing heart rates to crippling self-consciousness, and if you are one of these people, it is your right to never try weed again, no matter how persuasively it’s pitched to you. Think of it like coffee: Some love it and can’t imagine life without it, while others drink it and become insomniacs with diarrhea.”
The above quote is part of the sensible approach that is much needed as the discussion on cannabis moves forward. It is insightful to use the coffee analogy. If a person picks that apart, it might prove to be a useful reference point. The consumption of cannabis can be a challenge to compare to something else or describe in an objective way. Supporters will cite that no one has died from overusing it. However, misuse of it will mess you up just like beer, wine, or even coffee, can trash you in their own unique ways.
As a connoisseur, Schmader is good at not mincing words and getting to the point. Among numerous insightful factoids, you’ll learn one of the best weed hacks is to eat a mango before getting high. Both cannabis and mangoes have the chemical compound, myrcene, which speeds the delivery of THC to the brain. Schmader provides straightforward instruction on everything from how to use a bong to how to turn an apple into a pipe. You’ll get acquainted with a “green hit,” the first draw from a freshly packed bowl. You’ll get helpful suggestions on dose levels. And you’ll get cut-above recipes like his instructions on how to make your own tinctures.
Given the chance, some people would eat a whole chocolate cake. Thanks to David Schmader’s book, you can see how you can avoid eating the whole cake and still have a fun party.
“Weed: The User’s Guide: A 21st Century Handbook for Enjoying Marijuana” is a 208-page paperback. For more details, visit Sasquatch Books right here.
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, in Seattle, celebrates its 9th anniversary in wild style with the Cheech Wizard Show, Mark Bodé, Laura Knetzger, and more! A festive holiday gala takes place Saturday, December 12, from 6:00 to 9:00 PM marking the debut of Cheech Wizard’s Book of Me featuring a fabulous show of tributes to the alluring art of the late Vaughn Bodé and a rare reunion of his extended family.
The very first comic strip of Cheech the Wizard was drawn by Vaughn Bodé on a series of notebook pages in 1957. As the legend goes, the famous underground character came to Bodé as he contemplated a can of chee-chee nuts. Cheech the Wizard would go on to become a big player in underground comix celebrating sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. He was a Pogo for a mature audience with a similar whimsical quality masking a subversive humor. Which leads us to Cheech Wizard’s Book of Me which collects the best work of Vaughn Bodé along with a cavalcade of extras. The forward is by his son, Mark, who has carried on the tradition with his own take on Cheech and his pals.
And if the holiday gala weren’t enough on Saturday, you are welcome to return on Sunday for a book release party for Laura Knetzger’s Bug Boys Volume I. That takes place from 1:00 to 3:00 PM.
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is located in Georgetown at 1201 S. Vale St. For more details, visit our friends at Fantagraphics right here.
A war zone that may not be on your radar: the border state of Chihuahua and its city of Juarez. It is the site of more murders than war-torn Afghanistan. And ninety-seven percent of these killings remain unsolved. This is thanks to the inextricable link between drug cartels and official corruption. But thanks to human rights activists, these crimes will not fade away. Leaders like Chihuahua lawyer and organizer Lucha Castro won’t allow that to happen. “La Lucha,” published by Verso Books, is their story.
Edited by Adam Shapiro, head of campaigns at the human rights organization Front Line Defenders, the goal of the book is to put a face to a crisis. Written and drawn by Jon Sack, you have here a series of profiles and reportage that have the urgency of dispatches from the scene. And the art adds to the immediacy of each story.
Chihuahua lawyer and organizer Lucha Castro
There are all compelling stories to be found here. One example is the story of Marisela Escobedo Ortiz and her daughter, Rubi Marisol. Rubi was murdered by her boyfriend, Sergio Barraza. It was a clear-cut case. However, Sergio Barraza would never be found guilty simply for the fact that he was a member of the Zetas drug ring and that made him instantly untouchable. Rubi’s mother, Marisela Escobedo Ortiz, led a fight to bring Sergio Barraza to justice. She was able to repeatedly track him down when authorities were not. Sergio Barraza was eventually slain in a shoot-out in 2012 with the Mexican Army. But during Marisela’s struggle for justice, the Mexican authorities, from the local level to the federal level, would not get involved. In the end, Marisela was killed for her efforts. This is quite an involved story. An excellent examination of it from Borderland Beat is right here.
If Americans are sensitive to Iraq and Afghanistan, then they should surely take notice of Mexico. Yes, if you’re looking for the most bloody war zone, all you have to do is look south of the U.S. border. Marisela Escobedo Ortiz’s murder was captured on video (starts at 1:05). Trust me, you don’t need to know a word of Spanish to appreciate the above video. “Él le disparó en la cabeza.” translates to “He shot her in the head.” Just in case, you need that clarity. Cultural and language barriers should never be an excuse for not understanding. That is what this book breaks free from in a very compelling read.
In memory of Marisela Escobedo Ortiz
“La Lucha” is an exemplary example of the comics medium. A book like this one proves how complex issues can be presented in a clear and concise manner that can benefit people in a myriad of ways. It can jump start conversations that require a number of facts that are not always easy to follow. It can make a difference. It can even save lives.
“La Lucha: The Story of Lucha Castro and Human Rights in Mexico” is published by Verso Books and is available as of March 31, 2015. You can find it here, here, here, and here.
It was a glorious childhood moment: just two boys creating their own solar system of planets, pretending to be Captain Galaxy and his trusty sidekick, Neverboy. All the beautiful colorful planets were hanging off branches in the backyard. And then that bully came along and trashed it. Sounds like something out of dream. “Neverboy,” a new comic from Dark Horse Comics, has a very intoxicating feel to it. This is one very dreamy comic!
Those two boys got over that incident with the bully. They had a sleepover and that took away some of the sting of having their worlds destroyed. This is what an all-grown-up Neverboy tells his son to console him after a bad day at school. The son responds well to that. Neverboy’s wife appreciates his effort. And then things start to slip away. It turns out that Neverboy, the boy and the man, may not really exist.
The story by Shaun Simon is very intriguing. You’ve got a character who appears to possibly be from some other world or is having difficulty maintaining his place in reality. His greatest wish appears to be to have a normal life. The art by Tyler Jenkins feels very much alive with a freshness right out of a sketchbook. Colors by Kelly Fitzpatrick are fittingly bold and vibrant.
What has been set in motion in this first issue is very promising. It’s not only Neverboy who is struggling. Apparently, his wife is having problems with being acknowledged too, maybe far worse–and spooky. It looks like people literally can’t see her. All signs point to this being more than just a story about a fractured family and one really good read.
“Neverboy #1” is available as of March 4. For more details, visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics right here.