Tag Archives: webcomics

Review: LOOK by Jon Nielsen

Page excerpt from LOOK

If you are looking for a fun and light all-ages graphic novel that tackles the big questions, then consider “Look,” by Jon Nielsen, published by NBM Publishing.

This is quite an engaging story told in a gentle tone with wry humor. Jon Nielsen has a fantastic track record with his webcomic, Massive Pwnage. This latest work provides a similar mix of goofy humor and thoughtful observation.

So, what goes on in this book? Well, plenty. First of all, if you can’t empathize with a sensitive robot seeking an epiphany, then I can’t help you. But, if you are, then you’re in luck. This story also includes a robot vulture sidekick!

Page excerpt from LOOK

Drawn in a very clean and spare style, Nielsen presents a comic that is easy on the eyes with a sharp style sense. If you enjoyed the misadventures of Wall-E, then you will definitely have a place in your heart for the misadventures of R-TY, or “Artie,” to his friends. And you’ll love this vulture bot, O-WN, or “Owen,” to his friends. These two don’t really know much outside of a rigorous routine they’ve been following for years until one day…the big questions have to be asked, like, “Why are we here?”

LOOK by Jon Nielsen

LOOK is a 144-page hardcover, priced at $15.99 US, available as of April 1st. For more details, visit NBM Publishing right here.

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Filed under Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, NBM, NBM Publishing, Webcomics

ECCC 2017 Interview: Daniel Warren Johnson and EXTREMITY

Daniel Warren Johnson at Emerald City Comicon 2017

Daniel Warren Johnson at Emerald City Comicon 2017

Daniel Warren Johnson is a freelance illustrator based in Chicago. Johnson’s webcomic, SPACE-MULLET, launched in 2012, got people’s attention. It is a quirky sci-fi tale following the adventures of such characters as Jonah, a stranded Space Marine from United Earth, and Alphius, a huge Zozobian who uses too much toilet paper. As Johnson told me, the whole experience of maintaining a webcomic turned out to be the perfect way to demonstrate to publishers how he navigates through a story. This process would lead him to the helm of his own comic book series, EXTREMITY, published by Skybound Entertainment, an imprint of Image Comics.

Daniel Warren Johnson's SPACE-MULLET

Daniel Warren Johnson’s SPACE-MULLET

The world of EXTREMITY, as Johnson states, is “visually stunning in keeping with the characters.” This is a barbaric and futuristic landscape. Think Mad Max. It is a world of extremes. Johnson’s writing process focuses on the characters first and builds out from there. At the forefront, is Thea, from the Roto Clan, who has been horribly wronged by the Paznina. What makes this story different from a typical revenge tale, Johnson told me, is that it is not just one person dealing with what happens next but an entire village.

ECCC variant for EXTREMITY #1

ECCC variant for EXTREMITY #1

Story is everything. Johnson’s method is to write out a script first, let that settle in, and then pursue the artwork. He says he could storyboard the whole thing out but it’s getting that script down that proves to be the most efficient.

Johnson has a very disarming personality. He has an immediate and direct way about him. As I sat in with him for a bit at Emerald City Comicon, he worked on some art while always engaging with visitors. “I invite folks to ask me anything,” he says. One thing that Johnson has become known for are his portraits where he renders his subject as a zombie. So, if you should meet up with Johnson, maybe you should ask him to draw you as a zombie.

Daniel Warren Johnson

Daniel Warren Johnson

Take a closer look at Johnson’s artwork and you’ll find that extra attention to detail. Johnson thanks an extensive art training background starting out when he was a kid and getting private lessons from a kind but determined Italian woman named, Rosetta. “I watch out for the details. If I’m going to draw a car, for instance, it is definitely going to look like a car.” But, for what finally got him where he is today, that he has to thank his wife for.

What Johnson foresees for himself, and hopes for the future of comics in general, is a focus on story, going deeper, beyond a “crafting of cool.” “You know, stories can come to and end too. The standard model is to keep characters going on forever. It can be refreshing to break that model, tell one character’s story from start to finish, and move on.”

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Filed under Comics, Daniel Warren Johnson, ECCC, Emerald City Comicon, Image Comics, Sci-Fi, science fiction, Seattle, Skybound Entertainment, Webcomics

Webcomic Review: ‘The Führer And The Tramp’

"The Fuhrer and the Tramp"

“The Führer And The Tramp”

The figure of Charlie Chaplin looms large all these many years and rightly so. If Chaplin had only taken his career as far as his Tramp character, he would richly deserve all the accolades in the world. Unlike other silent screen giants, it was after dominating the box office in what he was known for, that he pushed himself to his greatest creative heights crossing over into the sweeping changes of a new generation. Chaplin’s achievement is so singular and unique that it simply has no equal. It is all on full display with his film, 1940’s “The Great Dictator.” In honor of such talent and vision, a webcomic and graphic-novel-in-progress plays off all the dynamics involved between Chaplin’s answer to Hitler. This is a bold and whimsical fictionalization entitled, “The Führer And The Tramp,” written by Sean Luke McCard, Jon Judy and illustrated by Dexter Wee.

The Tramp on the run from the Nazis!

The Tramp on the run from the Nazis!

To see Charlie Chaplin, in full costume as the Tramp, stumbling into a Berlin movie theater and ending up sharing popcorn with Adolf Hitler is pretty wild–and a fun start to this graphic novel. This is just a taste of things to come. It’s 1938 and Chaplin just happens to be in Berlin and one thing leads to another. Once safely back in Hollywood, it seems that all can go back to normal–but not if undercover agent Hedy Lamar, and her handler Errol Flynn, have anything to do with it! If you’re a fan of alt-history, a little zany spy hijinks, mixed in with some thoughtful observations on real history, then this is something you will want to seek out.

Happier times at the Cocoanut Grove.

Happier times at the Cocoanut Grove.

The idea here is to cast a fresh light on history as well as just have some fun. The webcomic continues to upload new material so it will be interesting to see how things develop. I think the script has an overall nice handle on the humor running throughout. Given that this is fiction, the story is free to take a number of twists and turns. It’s a tricky balancing act since, in large part, this fictional Chaplin has been robbed of his self-determination. Here you have others goading and pushing him along to move beyond what he knows and create a work of art with real political power. The real Charles Chaplin did not need to be pushed into creating “The Great Dictator.” Anyway, just wanted to clear that up. That said, this is a delightful webcomic. The artwork by Dexter Wee is spot on capturing something of the pathos and integrity of Chaplin. So, Chaplin is not treated all that bad here after all.

Keep up with “The Führer And The Tramp” webcomic right here.

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Filed under Adolf Hitler, Charlie Chaplin, Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Webcomics

Review and Interview: Koren Shadmi, creator of THE ABADDON

THE ABADDON by Koren Shadmi

THE ABADDON by Koren Shadmi

Koren-Shadmi-The-Abaddon

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

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

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

The-Abaddon-Koren-Shadmi

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

The-Abaddon-Z2-Comics

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

Z2-Comics-Koren-Shadmi

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

GOD by Koren Shadmi

GOD by Koren Shadmi

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

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

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

Webcomic Review: Three Ring Samurai

Three-Ring-Samurai-webcomics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: THE REALIST by Asaf Hanuka

Hanuka-The-Realist

For the last four years, Asaf Hanuka has been doing auto-biographical webcomics about his life in Tel Aviv, Israel, entitled, “The Realist.” In many ways, this is a pretty straightforward narrative but, as in any life, things can gain, at any moment, a razor-sharp specificity and intensity. This is, after all, one of the most watched war-torn areas in the world.

So, when a morning can simply consist of a father goading his little boy to eat his toast, that already carries potentially more weight than a similar moment somewhere else. That said, Hanuka seems to carry himself like a man on a mission wherever he might live. The Realist has now been collected for the first time in English as a graphic novel, published by Archaia, an imprint of BOOM! Studios.

The-Realist-Hanuka

Comparable to the work of R. Crumb and Daniel Clowes, Hanuka has a keen sense for depictions of everyday life. What really matters is that he’s FUNNY!

I actually laughed out loud from reading his comics. He wears his version of the average Joe quite well. There’s one strip where we follow Hanuka throughout his day, as if following the daily routine of a computer from start up to sleep mode. At each point of the day, he has options to choose: engage or ignore the bus driver, the neighbor, the co-worker, his son, his wife. End. Repeat the next day. It strikes close to home, and it’s hilarious.

They say that if if you try to call attention to your merits, people will gladly ignore you. However, if you revel in self-deprecation, suddenly you have a following. Well, Hanuka definitely has a following. But it’s more than having readers relate to your problems. Hanuka has an engaging style with his artwork. It’s a crisp rendering of his life that you can’t help but want to know more about.

“The Realist” is an original 192-page hardcover graphic novel, priced at $24.99, arriving in comic shops from Archaia on April 22nd with a cover by creator Asaf Hanuka. For more details, visit our friends at Boom! Studios right here.

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Filed under Archaia Entertainment, Asaf Hanuka, Boom! Studios, Comics, Family, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Israel, Middle East, War, Webcomics

Review: MIGHTY STAR AND THE CASTLE OF THE CANCATERVATER

Mighty-Star-Koyama-Press

Alex Degen is working in a place that many cartoonists want to be working in. It’s a place of wonder and experimentation. He’s definitely someone I’d love to sit down and have a long talk with over tea, beer, whatever. What he does in this collection of comics hits close to home since it’s the sort of comics I like to create. I feel that I know a goodly amount about this as I’ve studied numerous similar work over the years and I know several cartoonists in a similar boat. That said, this is a pretty specific way of working.

Some label this type of cartooning as “dream logic” or “psychedelic.” What they mean is that the work evokes an anything-goes quality or follows a stream-of-consciousness narrative. This is seemingly loose work. But that doesn’t mean it’s a free pass to get sloppy. Instead, you want to be pretty clean and precise with your presentation in order to go to some weird places and have it read properly. All this Degen does quite well.

This book collects six parts of previous webcomics which add up to one wild journey. Each part ends with a “to be continued” and it provides an essential pause. I say this because that may help break things down a bit for you, if you’re totally new. What you’ll initially find is a world where it seems as if anything is liable to explode or melt or some such surreal craziness. Let’s get one thing straight, the definition of “cancatervater.” It means, “to heap into a pile.” Does that help? Well, does it? Okay, think of this Cancatervater as a most sinister force plotting to take over the world. Now, add Mighty Star, our superhero, to the mix.

A-Degen-Koyama-Press

What happens is, well, a little of everything. It’s science fiction, fantasy, manga, and bit of a bodice ripper. Twice, we have two pretty young women suddenly bare breasted. One is Bijoux, a typical manga type in skin-tight clothes. The other is far less obvious, an aerialist, Zoe Trala. In both cases, it seems that a certain amount of tension, made up of pent-up hormones and angst, has reached a point of no return. The women’s clothes are not ripped off of them. They simply find themselves without tops. So, needless to say, this book has mature content, more for older teens and above. In the end, this book is more cerebral than titillating.

It’s after this second incident with Zoe Trala’s missing top that more nudity is included but it has purpose. It’s always of a rather understated nature, not offensive or particularly gratuitous. And it leads us to one of the most compelling scenes in the narrative. Mighty Star’s journey leads him to a forest. And hanging from the trees are numerous naked bodies of both men and women. They aren’t hung dead bodies. No, instead, they fall from the trees just like apples. In fact, they each have a big apple stem where each head should be. This is the most explicit symbol of the forbidden knowledge that Mighty Star has been confronting all along.

Alex-Degen-comics

All the characters here are elusive and enigmatic. Moreover, the superhero motif is not obviously vigorous but mysterious. In a setting for action there is farce and ambiguity. The style here is a somewhat rougher version of King City’s Brandon Graham. Offbeat. Off–kilter. Dialed back to just the right frequency. When you expect conflict, you may end up with a muffled sedate response. Sex. Violence. Superheroes. Leave it to a cartoonist like Alex Degen to balance all that with such a wry and ironic sensibility.

Yes, Alex, I’ll be waiting with tea, beer, or whatever. I’m sure we’d have one hell of a good talk.

MIGHTY STAR AND THE CASTLE OF THE CANCATERVATER is a 172-page, black & white, trade paperback, priced at $15.00, published by Koyama Press. For more details, visit our friends at Koyama Press right here.

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Filed under Alex Degen, Brandon Graham, Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Koyama Press, Webcomics

Review: SEXCASTLE by Kyle Starks

Sexcastle-Image-Comics

“Sexcastle” is funny stuff from a dude named Kyle Starks. You may know him from his offbeat, yet sophisticated, webcomics. Sexcastle will have you laughing right from the start. It’s mature content, as you’ll notice from all the less than polite language in the first panels, but it’s totally immature goofy content too. The thing is, it only seems to be a slapdash free-for-all. This is a very well-built comic.

Sexcastle-Kyle-Starks-Image-Comics

We need more comics like this with an authentic energy about them. It looks simple and silly but simple and silly alone won’t keep your interest. Starks may not render the most complex characters and objects but he uses a keen sense of style to keep things moving along. I suspect he does his fair share of laying out and editing both on the art and the script.

Okay, Shane Sexcastle is supposed to be the ultimate professional assassin dude, like the character Bruce Willis plays in all the Die Hard action movies. Sexcastle seems to be a little more mellow, crude, and unfocused than John McClane ever was.

What makes this so funny is how in tune Sexcastle is to doing whatever he needs to do next. If a VIP pushes Sexcastle to do his bidding, Sexcastle just pushes back. If a child is crying, he swiftly confronts the kid to explain to him the only reasons anyone should be brought to tears. If a woman has been disrespected, he has no problem at all with pummeling the dirty perpetrator into submission. And the whole time, Sexcastle seems more comical than authoritative. He can’t help that. The guy is deadly serious and ready for trouble! As he puts it, “Trouble does my laundry.”

Image Comics collects the whole Sexcastle saga. Will there me more? Well, you never know. This collection should hold you for a while. In this adventure, Sexcastle is up to his neck in trouble, including a briefcase that’s a portal to the End of Days. Good thing he buried that in his friend’s backyard, right? But there’s even more trouble: The Assassin’s Union is hot on Shane Sexcastle’s trail!

“Sexcastle” is a 208-page trade paperback, published by Image Comics, priced at $15.99, for mature readers, and available now. For more details, visit our friends at Image Comics right here.

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Filed under Comics, Image Comics, Kyle Starks, Webcomics

Webcomic Review: DAWN OF THE UNREAD

Dawn-0f-the-Unread-James-Walker

DAWN OF THE UNREAD is a graphic novel webcomic exploring Nottingham’s literary history created by James Walker. Now, this is quite an impressive project in its specificity and its execution. The underlying mission here is to spark the imagination of new readers and have them rediscover the world of fiction and, most importantly, their local library! To that end, this webcomic is interactive and contains very compelling content. A new installment is published on the 8th of each month. Let’s take a closer look at some of the previous chapters.

Above: Artist Francis Lowe discusses his collaboration with Adrian Reynolds for their “Little Boxes” chapter, published on 8 June 2014.

In “Little Boxes,” you are treated to a variety of interesting facts about Batman lore with a Nottingham connection. Did you know, for instance, that Wollaton Hall was Wayne Manor in one of the Batman films? Well, the focus here is the nearby village of Gotham. And, yes, total Batman connection beginning with Washington Irving bestowing that nickname on Manhattan. We end up making a detour to H.P. Lovecraft. This is a very cleanly drawn comic with just the right touch of whimsy.

"Little Boxes,"  by Adrian Reynolds and Francis Lowe

“Little Boxes” by Adrian Reynolds and Francis Lowe

Read it here.

Above: Cartoonist Steve Larder, with Alan Gibbons, discusses bringing Geoffrey Trease back to life in “Books and Bowstrings,” published on 8 January 2015.

With “Books and Bowstrings,” you get it all. Steve Larder, author of “Rum Lad,” provides a punk aesthetic with his quirky artwork. With the help of some literary ghosts, byway of Sherwood Forest, the local libraries are on their way to regaining the old spirit.

"Books and Bowstrings" by Alan Gibbons and Steve Larder

“Books and Bowstrings” by Alan Gibbons and Steve Larder

Read it here.

Above: Illustrator Amanda Elanor Tribble discusses her collaboration with Aly Stoneman for their chapter, “Ms. Hood,” published on 8 December 2014.

“Ms. Hood,” takes up a contemporary Robin Hood theme to great effect. The artwork is bold and engaging. The story manages to fit in a lot of food for thought.

"Ms. Hood" by Aly Stoneman and Amanda Elanor Tribble

“Ms. Hood” by Aly Stoneman and Amanda Elanor Tribble

Read it here.

“Dawn of the Unread” is an interactive graphic novel for PC, Mac, iPad, tablet and mobile. Be sure to visit right here.

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Filed under Books, Comics, Education, Libraries, Literacy, Webcomics

Review: ‘Magpie, Magpie’ by Matt Huynh

Magpie-Magpie-Matt-Huynh

Can you ever force someone to love you? No, but that’s never stopped anyone from trying. This question is handled in a grand gothic manner in “Magpie, Magpie,” a webcomic now available in print, by Matt Huynh.

Magpie-Matt-Huynh-comics

Matt Huynh provides a good honest expressive line throughout this multi-tiered dreamy tale of love on the run, running towards and away from itself. This is dream logic run amok. It’s wading into a Faulknerian swampland. And it’s fun, of course. It’s best to read through a couple of times and just let yourself get lost in it. A father is frantically running to find and connect with his young daughter while he’s also hashing out his precarious relationship with his girlfriend. Meanwhile, a persistent suitor has his eyes on the same girlfriend. All of this is rendered in a vibrant gestural style evoking the madness at play.

Matt-Huynh-webcomics-2014

This is the sort of work that I most easily relate to. It’s poetic, experimental, and open-ended. The sense of spontaneity that Huynh achieves with his sumi ink is pretty solid. I think there are some awkward passages and stilted depictions but that’s alright. Overall, Huynh leads the eye to interesting sidesteps and detours. As a webcomic, he adds some fun tweaks: there are scenes that fade in and out and magpies that actually flutter in the wind. It will be interesting to see what Huynh does when he attempts a more substantial larger scale work. That, I don’t doubt, will require tightening up in places. As for this short audacious piece, it hits the mark in pleasing ways.

Be sure to visit Matt Huynh and check out his compelling illustrations and comics right here.

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Filed under Comics, Illustration, Webcomics