Tag Archives: graphic novels

DECK THE HALLS WITH GRAPHIC NOVELS 📚🎁

Deck the Halls with Graphic Novels!

Diamond has released its Holiday Catalog and that got me thinking. Here are a few highlights from their list that jive with my own outlook. As many of you already know, I love me an eclectic mix of everything! Whatever curls my toes. Most of the time, it’s character driven, offbeat, maybe not the most obvious choices and just makes you feel something, you know? You can consider these titles some of the best for 2022.

RAIN

Joe Hill’s Rain

THE FIRST IN CHRIS RYALL & ASHLEY WOOD’S NEW SYZYGY PUBLISHING IMPRINT LINE OF TITLES AT IMAGE COMICS!

On a seemingly normal August day in Boulder, Colorado, the skies are clear, and Honeysuckle Speck couldn’t be happier. She’s finally moving in with her girlfriend Yolanda. But their world is literally torn apart when dark clouds roll in and release a downpour of nails—splinters of bright crystal that shred the skin of anyone not safely under cover. RAIN makes vivid this escalating apocalyptic event, as the deluge of nails spreads across the country and around the world, threatening everything young lovers Honeysuckle and Yolanda hold dear.

So begins a gripping 5-issue presentation of New York Times bestselling author JOE HILL’s acclaimed novella, adapted by rising stars DAVID M. BOOHER (Canto), ZOE THOROGOOD (The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott), and CHRIS O’HALLORAN (Ha-Ha).

Rain
Joe Hill, David M. Booher, Zoe Thorogood
FRONTLIST | On Sale Date: October 11, 2022
Hardcover, Image Comics, 160 pages, Ages 13 And Up
$21.99 USD, $29.50 CAD, £19.99 GBP
  • Comics & Graphic Novels / Horror

CLEMENTINE

Clementine by Tillie Walden

“TILLIE WALDEN is the future. Her boldly authentic voice brings new heights to the world of The Walking Dead.” —ROBERT KIRKMAN

“Will have you craving more when the final page turns.” —CHIP ZDARSKY

“An exquisitely drawn story about how to survive trauma and find strength in ourselves and others.” —KELLY SUE DECONNICK

Powerhouse creator TILLIE WALDEN takes on the world of ROBERT KIRKMAN’s THE WALKING DEAD in the most anticipated YA graphic novel of 2022.

The trilogy marks the graphic novel debut of Clementine, star of the massively successful Telltale Games video game.

In Book One, Clementine discovers new allies, new rivals, and new love. But as the group tries to build a walker-free settlement in an abandoned ski resort, they soon discover that the biggest threat to their survival…is each other.

Clementine Book One
Tillie Walden, Robert Kirkman
BACKLIST | On Sale Date: June 21, 2022
Paperback, Image Comics, 256 pages, Ages 13 to 16
$14.99 USD, $19.99 CAD, £13.99 GBP
  • Young Adult Fiction / Comics & Graphic Novels / Horror

SIDE EFFECTS

SIDE EFFECTS 

‘Side Effects’ is a personal story about mental health and what it takes to find yourself again.

Hannah doesn’t want to be a hero. She just wants to be well.

Hannah’s dealing with a lot in her first year of college and to make matters worse, she’s also battling her own brain, in the form of anxiety and depression. Fortunately, her therapist has put her on some meds to help, but those meds cause some unintended side effects, like sleepless nights, pounding headaches…

…or, in Hannah’s case, superpowers.

Now, on top of juggling tests and dates, Hannah has to deal with occasionally shooting lightning bolts from her fingers or reading her girlfriend’s mind. Maybe she’s supposed to be a superhero, but all she wants to do is make it through the year in one piece.

Written by Ted Anderson (My Little Pony, Adventure Time: Beginning of the End, ORPHAN AGE, MOTH AND WHISPER) and illustrated by Tara O’Connor (Fly By Night, Roots, Puddles) comes a personal story about mental health and what it takes to find yourself again.

Side Effects
Ted Anderson, Mike Marts (Edited by), Tara O’Connor
FRONTLIST | October 18, 2022
Paperback, Aftershock Comics, 112 pages, Ages 13 And Up
$17.99 USD, $23.99 CAD, £15.99 GBP
  • Young Adult Fiction / Comics & Graphic Novels / Science Fiction

EVERYDAY HERO MACHINE BOY

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…Machine Boy! When Machine Boy falls from the sky into the domed city of Mega 416, he leaves a wake of destruction behind him…until Karate Grandpa is able to turn on his heart. Now, Machine Boy wants nothing more than to become a hero! Whether he’s fighting giant bugs in the school’s basement, rescuing cats from trees, or making the perfect spaghetti sauce, Machine Boy is always looking for the best way to help others. But when his heart begins to interact dangerously with other debris from space, Machine Boy wonders if he can be a power for good after all. Rising stars TRI VUONG (LEGO NINJAGO) and IRMA KNIIVILA (Year of the Dog) present a funny and engaging adventure that asks—can you override your own programming?
Everyday Hero Machine Boy
Irma Kniivila, Tri Vuong
FRONTLIST | On Sale Date: September 13, 2022
Paperback, Image Comics, 192 pages, Ages 9 to 12
$12.99 USD, $17.50 CAD, £11.99 GBP
  • Juvenile Fiction / Comics & Graphic Novels / Action & Adventure

SEA SERPENT’S HEIR

Sea Serpent’s Heir

What if you were destined to destroy the world?

For Aella life on Kinamen Isle is completely boring. She dreams of life beyond the horizon even as she spends her days fishing and minding her aunts.

Everything changes however when she awakens an ancient evil within herself: Xir the serpent that almost destroyed the world. Worse yet a fanatical religious organization has arrived on Kinamen Isle to destroy Xir.

As Aella is forced to fight for her life she’ll discover that her entire world is not what it seems. Her aunts know more than they let on-and what exactly does the infamous Pirate Queen want with Aella anyway?

From the team of MAIRGHREAD SCOTT (Star Wars: Resistance Guardians of the Galaxy) and PABLO TUNICA (TMNT Universe) comes an extraordinary tale of growing up and changing your fate.

Sea Serpent’s Heir, Book 1
Mairghread Scott, Pablo Tunica
FRONTLIST | On Sale Date: October 18, 2022
Paperback, Image Comics, 160 pages, Ages 13 to 16
$14.99 USD, $19.99 CAD, £13.99 GBP
  • Young Adult Fiction / Comics & Graphic Novels / Fantasy

WE LIVE

WE LIVE

The year is 2084 and the world has changed

Wracked by calamities and crawling with monsters, the last remaining humans face a dangerous existence.

And now, the Earth has been sent a message from the deepest reaches of space – a dark countdown to the extinction of all humanity. But there is hope! Five thousand children will be rescued by these mysterious message-senders.

This is the journey of Hototo, one of the lucky five thousand – but only if his teenage sister, Tala, can safely deliver him to the nearest Beacon before time runs out.

WE LIVE is a world of violence and beauty, a unique tale of the apocalypse as told by Inaki Miranda (Catwoman, Batman Beyond) and Roy Miranda, that invites both dread and hope.

WE LIVE
Inaki Miranda, Roy Miranda, Mike Marts (Edited by)
BACKLIST | June 1, 2021
Paperback, Aftershock Comics, 120 pages, Ages 13 to 16
$16.99 USD, $22.99 CAD, £14.99 GBP
  • Comics & Graphic Novels / Science Fiction

Alrighty then, there’s plenty more I could add to the list but that should whet your appetite. This is plenty to feast upon for now, some of the best quirky and fun stuff out there.

2 Comments

Filed under Comics, graphic novels

Cartoonist Brian Fies Interview: THE LAST MECHANICAL MONSTER

Brian Fies in conversation with Henry Chamberlain

The Last Mechanical Monster, published by Abrams (available as of October 18, 2022), is a wonderful book for the whole family and we’ve got Brian Fies, the creator, here to chat about it. Just go over to the link and enjoy the video. First, you should know that Brian Fies is an amazing cartoonist and he has quite a gem here, a full-length story that uses a classic animated short as its jumping off point. It’s a genius move, I can tell you. The basis for this graphic novel goes back to a 1941 Fleischer Studios Superman cartoon entitled, The Mechanical Monsters. Fies builds a story around this with the premise being that the bad guy gets out of prison many years later–and the first thing he does is plot a scheme to get his revenge. Here’s where I should share an exclusive with you. The villain goes unnamed in the original animation and Fies follows suit, however, he did have a name in one version and that was Stanis Smith. Yes, you’re reading that here and Brian says he’s never mentioned it in an interview before. The joke was that the evil mad genius inventor was basically a “tinsmith.”

Let me back up a bit. Fies created a webcomic of his story, The Last Mechanical Monster, long before the release of a print version. In fact, Brian Fies is a webcomic trailblazer. He led the way in webcomics as the winner of the Eisner Award for Best Digital Comic in 2005 for Mom’s Cancer, the year that category was introduced. During our chat, he shares how the narrative for The Last Mechanical Monster took shape–and it wasn’t easy. He freely admits that the first hundred pages of completed comics pages ended up being a false start and had to be scrapped.  “When I was asked about the story I was working on, I’d tell people what the story was about, only to realize that this really wasn’t the story I was creating.” That’s a lot of completed pages but, in the long run, a necessary part of the creative process.

I’m just going to go ahead and include here a panel excerpt that features the Ballistic Arc equation. It will make total sense if you click onto the video interview podcast. That said, I’ll tell you here that this is a fine example of the Brian Fies secret sauce. It’s basically just a way to add some fun weird science kind of stuff.

As you’ll appreciate during our conversation, The Last Mechanical Monster is very much a character driven story featuring a misguided old guy who is tough, sometimes a little scary, but perhaps a Grinch just waiting for a reason for redemption.

The Last Mechanical Monster is a delight that, dare I say, would make a great animated feature in its own right. Who knows, there’s really no reason that it couldn’t be. Brian confided in me that he was more than content to have had his creation remain a webcomic. Of couse, he is overjoyed that it is now a book. And I believe you will get a kick out of it too. I’ll just emphasize here that this is one of the most enjoyable interviews I’ve done. I’m sure you’ll get a lot out of it. We really had fun doing this interview and that sense of fun, I’m confident, will pass on to you.

Be sure to visit Abrams for a world of amazing graphic novels. That is where you can find The Last Mechanical Monster.

3 Comments

Filed under Brian Fies, Comics, Interviews, pop culture

Small Press Expo 2022: Ignatz Award Winners

Outstanding Artist Reimena Yee

2022 Ignatz Awards Nominees & Winners

Follow the link and you can see all the nominees for this year’s Small Press Expo, along with links to purchase. I believe this is the first time that links have been provided for direct purchase! Scroll below for a list of this year’s winners.

2022 Ignatz Awards Nominees

SPX Ignatz Award Winners for 2022:

I See a Knight

Outstanding Comic:I See A Knight” by Xulia Vicente (Shortbox). Since childhood, Olivia has been able to see a headless knight invisible to everyone else- is it an omen, a ghost, or something much more real?

Good Boy! magazine

Outstanding Anthology:Good Boy Magazine” #1, edited by Michael Sweater and Benji Nate (Silver Sprocket). This 112-page collection features the tagline “Read comics or go to hell.” That says it all!

Outstanding Artist: Reimena Yee for “Alexander, The Servant, & The Water of Life,” a retelling of the life/legend of Alexander the Great. Yee is also the creator of numerous other comics, including the Eisner & McDuffie-nominated “The Carpet Merchant of Konstantiniyya,” “Séance Tea Party,” and the upcoming “My Aunt is a Monster.”

Mr. Boop

Outstanding Collection:Mr. Boop” by Alec Robbins (Silver Sprocket). This is the complete collection of the absurdist and romantic tale of author Alec Robbins being in love with his wife Betty Boop, the 1930s cartoon superstar, presented in a beautiful, deluxe package.

No One Else

Outstanding Graphic Novel:No One Else” by R. Kikuo Johnson (Fantagraphics). Johnson’s long-awaited second graphic novel follows Charlene, Brandon, and Robbie as they learn to navigate life day to day with their plans, fears, and desires after a death throws their life into turmoil.

Pee Pee Poo Poo #69

Outstanding Minicomic: “Pee Pee Poo Poo” #69 by Caroline Cash (self-published). A throwback to ’60s underground comics with a zesty title to boot.

Ride or Die

Outstanding Online Comic:Ride or Die” by Mars Heyward features demon cars, street racing, fumbling romance and revenge, and is described as “Christine meets Ghost Rider meets Fast and Furious but gayer!”

The Many Deaths of Laila Starr

Outstanding Series: “The Many Deaths of Laila Starr” by Ram V & Filipe Andrade with Inês Amaro and AndWorld Design (BOOM! Studios), a five-issue mini-series exploring the fine line between living and dying through the lens of magical realism.

The Lover of Everyone in the World

Outstanding Story: ‘The Lover of Everyone in the World’ by Beatrix Urkowitz (Parsifal Press). Originally drawn for Popula, ‘The Lover’ joins three other stories about being loved by everyone, and no one, in Urkowitz’s first graphic novella of the same name. The collection was possible thanks to a generous grant from Koyama Provides.

Djeliya by Juni Ba

Promising New Talent: Juni Ba. A cartoonist from Senegal and France, Ba’s recent work includes the anthology series “Monkey Meat” (Image Comics) and “Djeliya” (TKO Studios), which tells the tale of Prince Mansour and his royal storyteller Awa, as they journey to reach the mysterious Wizard Soumaoro, who guards a fearsome power that he once used to destroy the world.

Krazy Kat’s Ignatz, namesake for the SPX Ignatz Award

Small Press Expo returns next year during the weekend of September 9 and 10, 2023.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comics, Small Press Expo, SPX

☀️ NOAH VAN SCIVER | Cartoonist Interview 💬

Noah Van Sciver is one of our great cartoonists. He’s been at his drawing table for as long as he can remember–and that has resulted in some very impressive work. It takes a lot to gain any traction in the world of comics and illustration. Van Sciver is one of the brave and persistent souls.

It is my pleasure to share this interview with Noah Van Sciver. We chat about his two new books, Joseph Smith and the Mormons (see Comics Grinder review here) and As a Cartoonist (see Comics Grinder review here). I think some applause and cheers are in order every chance we can get. Along the way, we end up talking about a great deal of Van Sciver’s career as a cartoonist. A lot of dots get connected. So, I hope you’ll tune in and feel free to leave a comment or like over at ye ole YouTubes.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comics, Interviews, Noah Van Sciver

☀️ NOAH VAN SCIVER | As a Cartoonist review 💬

As a Cartoonist. Noah Van Sciver. Fantagraphics. 2022. 104 pp. $19.99

One thing you need to get straight is that a bona fide cartoonist, in the truest sense of the word, is someone with a certain way of moving about in the world. I’m a cartoonist, so I should know. Just about every word I write is somehow connected to the fact that I’m one of those people. Word choice is everything. Well, maybe it’s more like every line of thought but it can get right down to the granular level. It’s absolutely a way of life, and that’s not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing. It is what it is–and those among us who are part of this tribe, made up of so many groups and subgroups, understand that this unique ability to write and draw comes at a price. No one is born with this ability, although some people are definitely more predisposed to creating  comics than others. Sorry, but it’s a skill that demands a number of factors to fall into place if you intend to reach a certain level of excellence. You don’t see a short person agonizing over the fact that they will never be an all-star basketball player. And, yes, I know about Spud Webb, but he’s the exception to the rule. Anyway, most people don’t give a hoot about whether or not they will ever create comics of any form, let alone win awards and accolades for their effort. This is the story about someone who really cares about all those things having to do with becoming a masterful cartoonist. We’re talking about Noah Van Sciver. And he’d be the first to tell you that being a cartoonist is no walk in the park–and yet, there isn’t anything he’d rather be more.

This book is about all the peculiar things about being a cartoonist. That’s really what it all boils down to. Being a cartoonist is peculiar. That, in and of itself, is a burden and yet it is also alluring. Essentially, it’s something special that envelopes the person seeking to master it. Just like any other creative endeavor, like starting up a band. Noah Van Sciver’s story is one of struggle, persistence, and ultimate accomplishment. This book, a collection of short works in comics, adds up to a portrait of the artist, perhaps his best set of portrait pieces to date. This is, you could say, an anthology all by one creator. In the world of indie comics, cartoonists are always scrambling to jump on board and join the latest collective effort, a way to promote each other and get one’s work out into the world. It’s all about getting people to read your work. A lot of Van Sciver’s auto-bio comics are about this ongoing pursuit of readers: courting them, wanting them, wondering where they are. For all the anti-social behavior that a cartoonist may engage in, at the end of the day, it’s all about the readers. Maybe the cartoonist isn’t exactly looking to spend too much time with any particular reader, but it’s nice to know that they’re still around.

Van Sciver wins over his readers without playing up to them. Far from it. In fact, he’s more than happy to speak the unvarnished truth byway of his social satire. He has a way of evoking authenticity. A real cartoonist, especially someone like Van Sciver who uses his own life for material, is always striving to be real and avoid any false notes. So, Van Sciver’s best work comes across as totally unfiltered. Of course, it’s a balance of artifice and reality. But a reader still ends up getting caught up in the moment as when Van Sciver is juggling an interview with a prominent reporter and his uncouth brother who has just crashed upon the scene. In this specific moment, a big event at an art museum featuring Van Sciver’s work, the hierarchy is easily hijacked. No sooner has Van Sciver begun to talk to the reporter than he’s put off by her obvious remarks. He even sympathizes with his train wreck of a sibling, if only for a moment.

In another more complex scene, Van Sciver is a visiting artist on campus and must find a way to tolerate those less fortunate but still quite annoying. A relatively young man, actually thirty and not so young, who loves to wear a top hat and read teen girl manga, is prime fodder for Van Sciver’s wrath. The guy in the top hat, it turns out, is easily triggered by what he sees as Van Sciver’s micro-agressions. Nevermind that Top Hat has a lot of arrested development to deal with. Now, Top Hat’s focus is to get Van Sciver into trouble by reporting him to a school administrator. There’s no winning for Van Sciver when he’s called in to explain himself. Later, he tries to turn the other cheek and be positive. But, ultimately, Van Sciver is right back to being underwhelmed by life on campus.

A wonderful companion piece to this collection is the 2018 graphic memoir, One Dirty Tree, looking  back on a childhood with eight other siblings in a less than ideal situation. This is a closer look at a ramshackle upbringing: living in squalor, an abusive and irresponsible father who is a Mormon zealot, and a young man with a very uncertain future–a young life miraculously held together by dreams of some day becoming a famous cartoonist! By force of will and determination, Noah Van Sciver turned his dreams into a reality beginning with his series of collected comics, Blammo. That would lead to his early masterpiece, his first graphic novel, 2012’s The Hypo. And, most recently, 2022’s Joseph Smith and the Mormons. This new book, As a Cartoonist, comes full circle with a collection of short works that feature comics from Blammo, among other sources.

In 1980, Woody Allen made Stardust Memories. He had already made two of his masterworks, Annie Hall and Manhattan, and he seemed to be at a crossroads: keep making funny movies or make more serious films. Perhaps there was a bit of a struggle. Just see Interiors. Anyway, a certain Woody Allen universe had been created and he was pretty much set and would go on to create a wonderful body of work. Van Sciver pays homage to that creative turning point in a moment in the book where he recreates Allen asking space aliens for advice. It’s a perfect opportunity for Van Sciver to insert himself and provide another take on the absurdity of it all.

Van Sciver is now at a point where he can look back and see significant milestones, including Fante Bukowski, which alone would thrill any cartoonist to call their own, and which Van Sciver can say confidently he brought into this world. Having recently become a father, Van Sciver honors his son, Remy, with a dedication and the final comic in the book. I think it’s safe to say that Noah Van Sciver is on the right path.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Noah Van Sciver

Joseph Smith and the Mormons review: The Mormon Saga—in Comics!

Joseph Smith and the  Mormons. By Noah Van Sciver. New York: Abrams, 2022, 454pp, $29.99

Guest Review by Paul Buhle

This monumental work has a considerable backstory. Artist Noah van Sciver, the eighth of nine children, was born and raised in a Mormon home in New Jersey until his parents divorced when he was 12 and his mother brought him along a different path. This disjuncture, followed by others more typical of teens in the last third of the twentieth century, may have stirred his artistic impulse. No doubt he looked to the example of an older brother who went successfully into the Superhero comics big time. Experience, separation and a sort of rejoining the earlier world thorugh art: these are large themes in artists’ and writers’ lives for centuries. That Van Sciver has taken on Mormon founder Joseph Smith is no accident.

Van Sciver has a penchant for US history, especially the history of the nineteenth century, rife with religious and social contradictions, idealists, cranks, Protestant revivalists and utopians. Joseph Smith, unlike nearly all the others, was a successful institution-builder (Mary Baker Eddy with her Christian Science denomination might be another example).

The spectacular, world-wide growth of the LDS or Latter Day Saints, its weighty and deeply conservative political influence in Utah and beyond, is remarkable given the improbable origins of the Church. The extended and heavily institutional story of prophet Joseph Smith, considered by most non-Mormons a dubious self-creation, is offered here in splendid detail in remarkable color.

Van Sciver could have examined the saga from a psychological distance, and even chosen to play the iconoclast. His earlier books on U.S. history, from Lincoln to Johnny Appleseed and Eugene V. Debs, show something else: a penetrating treatment of personality within a vanished era. That he documents his study with careful explanations at the end of the book, and that he donated the original art for the book to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, is a measure of his seriousness.

Joseph Smith’s story is bizarre, a story about a discovery (he insisted) of golden tablets buried in the ground in upstate New York in the 1830s; a story about a church with outlandish views including (after a while) polygamy; a story that would not be the same in any other artist’s hands. Smith and his flock moved Westward with the great population shift of the mid-nineteenth century, and—this is crucial—they moved through natural and wondrous landscapes, which are drawn with stunning beauty and a certain strangeness by Van Sciver.

So much of the narrative has always seemed to critical observers as a magnificent case of American charlatanism, these days likely to be seen as pre-Trumpism. And yet Smith and his followers, staggering through bankruptcies, persecutions and the fatal defenestration of Smith himself, seen by Van Sciver, the observer-artist, looks like a revelatory detail of American history that seems in turn. . . a lot like the rest of American history.

Paul Buhle

1 Comment

Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Noah Van Sciver, Paul Buhle

PULP POWER: The Shadow, Doc Savage and the Art of the Street and Smith Universe review

Pulp Power: The Shadow, Doc Savage and the Art of the Street and Smith Universe. Neil McGinness. Abrams. New York. 2022. Fully illustrated, hardcover. 352pp. $58.50

Walter Gibson was the writer behind the masked hero, The Shadow. Writing under the pen name, Maxwell Grant, he developed a character that seemed to emerge on its own, out of the confluence of pop culture media, circa 1930: pulp fiction and radio. The character was a strange mix of mystery and daring, part of something bigger, and a sign of things to come. The strangeness begins with the eerie voice warning that it sees all: “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!” followed by a shrill cackle. Such an otherworldly introduction to adventure was like mana from heaven for the millions of beleaguered radio listeners across the country confronting the dire reality of the Great Depression. Stranger still, at that point, there was only the weird voice to introduce the mystery hour–but the voice had become the star! Overnight, people wanted more. Who is The Shadow? Where do I get The Shadow magazine? This would lead to perhaps the greatest scramble ever to flesh out a popular character that did not yet exist!

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!”

The Shadow went on to become the leading product of the famous Fiction Factory, founded by Francis Street, a bookkeeper, and Francis Smith, an aspiring writer in the 1850s. Street and Smith bought the New York Dispatch, a newspaper focused on news, and turned it into the New York Weekly (1858–1910), a newspaper focused on fiction, the foundation of what was to become the Street and Smith publishing empire. It was when this publishing house decided to step into creating radio shows that The Shadow emerged out of the ether. Pulp Power covers this phenomenal enterprise providing the reader with an in depth look at the origins of America’s first pop culture icons: The Shadow, Doc Savage, The Avenger, Justice Inc., the trailblazers that would inspire Batman, Superman, The Fantastic Four, even the whole ball of wax at Marvel and DC Comics. Thanks to this generously illustrated book, with engaging writing by Neil McGinness, the original glory days of American pop culture come to life for the reader in this unique collection showcasing dazzling covers from pulp fiction, comics and movies, along with assorted ephemera.

The Shadow magazine

Getting back to The Shadow, if there is just one character to represent the exuberant creative force at play in the early years, it has got to be this strange, yet beloved, fellow. It’s fascinating to consider how much this character is so much of its time, and defies being easily bounced around various media until it finally settles into what works. Ultimately, a lot is working; it’s just a matter of doing justice to the material. You won’t be seeing a major motion picture anytime soon, until maybe you do. What you can count on is The Shadow thriving in prose and in audio. Perhaps that’s simply because The Shadow is so much a creature of the night, a mysterious force not to be observed too closely. He also has his specificity. He’s a New Yorker, and don’t you forget it. Thankfully, Neil McGinness does take a close look for the sake of better understanding the attraction. Essentially, it comes down to quality storytelling, which can’t be faked; it involves so many factors coming into place; and runs best with one determined author.

The Shadow comics

The Shadow’s original author, Walter Gibson, followed a tried and true formula, a five-point plan that never failed: a main crime; a problem arising from the main crime; a secondary crime that serves to complicate matters; an attempted third crime to thwart the investigation which is foiled by the hero; and the climax which reveals the villain, the trick, the true nature of the crime. It is a ticket to endless variations and served Gibson well as he went on to write nearly 300 Shadow novels. Not only that, Gibson was sensitive to literary refinements. In fact, The Shadow is closely based upon Bram Stoker’s Dracula. This is a hero but a dark hero. A crime fighter as grim and merciless as the worst criminal. This is a complicated character shrouded under layer upon layer of ambiguity. . .while, at the same time, just a fun thrill.

Orson Welles portrait by Irving Penn, for Vogue, 1945

The Shadow radio show ran for 17 years, from 1937 to 1954. Orson Welles, then only 22 years-old, served as the first voice of the character in 1937. Welles was quite busy with his own Mercury Theater and would do the show with no rehearsals. He just did it and he proved to be one of the best of the actors to take on the role. This was around the time that Welles was at his hottest: a year later, he would make history with his War of the Worlds broadcast of 1938. It’s a nice touch to see included here in this book a photo of Welles at the height of his success, a portrait by Irving Penn, for Vogue in 1945. It’s a masterwork of a photograph, complete with all of Penn’s still life magic–and a fitting companion piece to the magic and mystery that is The Shadow.

2 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Comics, pop culture, Pulp Fiction, The Shadow

Comics: A Day at the Beach by Henry Chamberlain

Comics on the beach, right? In theory, at least, you could create comics on the beach. You could also read comics on the beach! As long as you’re not a comics collector, you don’t have much to worry about since that comic book is likely going to get trashed any number of ways: sun, wind, sand, maybe even a crab. . . or a shark. But something is going to happen. It’s the great outdoors! You’re at the beach! So, it’s going to be a challenge. As for creating a comic on the beach, well, that’s possible. Probably best to keep things simple, minimal. Anyway, here is a comic by yours truly.

6 Comments

Filed under Comics, Henry Chamberlain

Comic Art: Pile of People by Hurricane Nancy

Here is a new work entitled, Pile of People, referring to the chaos of the human experience: the betrayals, deception and deceit. Color added by Henry Chamberlain. Keep up with Hurricane Nancy.

6 Comments

Filed under Art, Comics, Hurricane Nancy

Interview: Comics Artist Brandon Lehmann

Comics artist Brandon Lehmann

First off, I invite you to read the review I wrote for The Comics Journal to the book in question, G-G-G Ghost Stories. That will add to the enjoyment of the following interview with the creator.

There are details in Brandon Lehmann‘s comics that will come back and reveal themselves upon another reading. Look closely and you’ll see, tucked away amid the backdrop of a mega-bookstore, copies of Brandon Lehmann’s new book, the recently released, G-G-G Ghost Storiesin the panels to his story, “The Werewolf Expert.” Another reading will reveal a copy of Henry Miller’s Tropic of Capicorn, in the hand of a child, a secondary player in this finely-crafted farce. The key idea here is the subject of creating such a thing as a “finely-crafted farce,” and why quality will win out in the end. Lehmann’s sense of humor is an absurdist and existential sensibility. Lehmann has been making comics for about fifteen years featuring observational and satirical work. In this new book, he focuses in on playful use of horror tropes. For this interview, we met at Seattle’s Smith Tower, a favorite haunt of erudite cartoonists and, of course, ghosts. We begin this conversation just as I sit down to join Brandon. I notice pot stickers have already been ordered. (We staged a bit of a humorous intro. You’ll see what I mean if you view the video.)

Hey, Brandon, well, I see you’ve started without me, as usual. Nice to run into you this way.

I just hang out up here in Smith Tower and read my own comics.

G-G-G Ghost Stories by Brandon Lehmann

So, what have we here (picking up a copy of Brandon’s book). Is the proper pronunciation just as it reads, G-G-G Ghost Stories?

When I named it, I was hoping for some awkward interactions at the sales counter. “I’ll take, G-G-G Ghost Stories, please.”

That would be a Scooby-Doo influence, right?

Yeah.

Interesting that we’d find ourselves in Smith Tower since, as everyone knows, this place is haunted.

Yeah, we saw a couple of ghosts on the way in. I was like, “Ahhh, it’s a g-g-g ghost.”

Page excerpt from “The Lfyt”

I think of a lot of your work, like the “The Lfyt,” as being mini-masterpieces. Do you sometimes think in those terms, “I’m going to create something that’s so spot on that everything works perfectly.” Does that make sense to say that?

Yeah, I always feel that when you’re working on a book, especially, you can get into this mode where everything you do just works. And then, when you finish a book, I have this period where I just struggle and I can’t seem to draw anything. But when I’m making a book, I can set a schedule, everything works on the first try for some reason. If that makes sense.

Page excerpt from “The Werewolf Expert” story from G-G-G Ghost Stories

It does make sense. I’m a certified cartoonist myself, as you know. Now, tell us about “The Werewolf Expert,” the longest work in the book.

There’s a trope in horror movies and TV shows where someone needs to seek an expert on the occult and it’s always someone who it doesn’t make sense would be an expert. Like, you’ll have this guy who works at the bowling alley as a mechanic and, for some reason, he’s a vampire expert. In “The Werewolf Expert,” someone consults a Barnes & Noble bookstore employee, and it’s the employee’s first day. And they shouldn’t know anything about werewolf lore but part of the B&N orientation training is that they teach all about werewolf lore. That employee knows a lot but eventually he consults his supervisor and she knows even more about werewolves to a ridiculous degree. So, it just keeps building on that premise.

Desperately seeking werewolf advice.

How would you describe your humor?

It’s absurdist and existentialist. There’s a lot of gags in the book that you can repeat with a similar premise. For the story we’re discussing, there’s a gag that I use a lot. The story is progressing from one point to another and then I’ll throw a wrench into it. And it will spin off in an insane degree. For instance, the bookstore customer seeking advice has a daughter named, Shawnda. He begins yelling at her, she’s off camera. Later, we see her and there’s more of this yelling. That sort of silly exchange is something I like to do in my work.

Panel excerpt from Brandon Lehmann’s Instagram.

There’s a beauty to your work. The humor is consistent. The art is consistent. You must go through a slew of experimentation before you hit upon what works, what’s on point.

The whole concept of the book is classic ghost stories. So, that’s the anchor. We’re dealing here with stories everyone is familiar with in one form or another. The story, “The Lfyt,” we were just talking about, is based upon a popular ghost story about picking up a hitchhiker who turns out to be a ghost. Another good example is “The Viper,” another popular children’s ghost story. The tension builds as he keeps calling and announcing when he’ll arrive. In my story, it turns out that “The Viper” is a guy with a thick German accent, who is just an innocent window wiper.

I didn’t know about that children’s ghost story. The actual one, not your satire!

Yeah, it’s real. There’s also one entitled, “Okiku,” based on a popular Japanese ghost story about a woman who was murdered because she refused to become a samurai’s mistress. She had been thrown down a well and, each night, she appears to seek her revenge. That was actually the basis for the Ringu movies. There’s the books. It was also on stage, as kabuki theater. So, yeah, I gather up all these ghost stories and given them my own spin.

Well, I’m sure this will intrigue readers. Thanks so much for sharing this with us. Where is a good place to find your work?

One good place is my own site for Bad Publisher Books. You can also find me on my Instagram: @brandon.lehmann. And you can find it at various bookstores. In Seattle, there’s Fantagraphics Bookstore, Elliot Bay Bookstore and Push/Pull. Lots of places on the net, like Birdcage Bottom Books.

Thanks, Brandon!

Thank you, Henry!

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Comics, Ghosts, Interviews, Seattle