I like a good crime story now and then, especially in graphic novel format. Brubaker and Rucka have done some great ones, and I dug a lot of the entries in Vertigo’s line of crime books. This book – which started out as a Xeric award winning webcomic – is about 4 teenagers who murder another teen, for no real reason. I picked it up for cheap at Half Price Books, based solely on the interesting looking artwork and nice packaging. Well, the gamble didn’t pay off.
I really, really disliked this book.
The main problem I had with the story is that the characters are all unlikable. No, strike that, they’re plain detestable. And there’s not much else to it than that. A bunch of vile assholes committing a horrific crime. The end.
There’s no depth to the events surrounding the crime. No exploration of the “why” of the crime. No insightful look at the lives of the perpetrators, other than a few pages of lip service paid to the broken domestic situation of a couple of them. And I do mean a couple pages out of over a 100. It’s not enough to make you have even a sliver of empathy or sympathy for the characters. Oh, and the sole female in the group is the most messed-up, manipulative, evil one of them all, even though you’re never shown what in her upbringing led to that. So basically you’re presented with a series of gruesome images of a hateful crime, as narrated by a bunch of unrepentant, despicable teens. The end.
The artwork is definitely the stronger craft shown here. It’s fairly solid, though at times it’s hard to distinguish between some of the characters. I did like the aesthetic of the art presentation, done in monochromatic yellow. But that’s about it.
There is skill in Colden’s storytelling, but the story itself is vile, nihilistic, and in my opinion, pointless.
Next Saturday, November 2, I will be a guest of the 26th Annual Buckeye Book Fair in Wooster, Ohio (near Cleveland). I’ll be joined by my Persia Blues artist partner in crime, Brent Bowman. You can find us at table #33.
The annual Buckeye Book Fair is a full day event featuring nearly 100 Ohio authors and illustrators who meet with readers and autograph copies of their latest works. Thousands of attendees from all over Ohio come to mingle, shop for books, and celebrate the joys of reading and writing.
The fair runs from 9:30 – 4:00 pm, and we’ll be signing copies of Persia Blues, as well a few of my other graphic novels. Hope to see some of you there!
Spinning out of the pages of Eagle from Crystal Comics was the character of Death’s Head (not to be confused with the Marvel UK character, more on that in a second):
Cover art by Eagle artists Neil D. Vokes. Published in 1987.
If I remember correctly, this is the only issue published. The character appeared in some backup stories in the monthly Eagle series, and after a cease and desist letter from marvel UK’s lawyers, the creators were forced to change the character’s name to Death’s Dark Angel.
Available today at fine comic book shops everywhere is Dark Horse Presents #29 (free preview here), featuring a 1-page Brainbot, Jr. strip by yours truly and the incomparable Tom Williams. Look for this cover by comics legend Neal Adams:
Of course, it would be silly for you to pick up an 80-page book just for our single page contribution, so here’s a partial list of the other talented writers and artists featured in this issue: David Lapham, Andrew MacLean, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Mike Baron, Ron Randall, Steve Niles, Michael T. Gilbert, Patrick Alexander, Steve Lieber, Steve Rude, menton3, and Richard Corben. Not too shabby, eh?
By the way, here’s our Brainbot strip, sans dialogue:
Hey, that’s the best I can do for a preview, without giving the whole thing away. Pick up the book to see where the funny goes!
With issue #17, the black and white futuristic martial arts series Eagle moved to a new publisher, Apple Comics:
Cover and interior art by co-creator Neal D. Vokes.
Next: an Eagle spin off mini-series…
This week, I’m going to spotlight another one of my favorite 80s black-and-white comic book series, Eagle:
Published by Crystal Comics in 1987, this sci-fi/martial arts series followed the adventures of mystic warrior Richard Eagle, and featured the artwork of Neil Vokes. The book lasted for 16 issues, after which it was acquired by Apple Comics and finally ended with issue #23.
The cool thing about this series is that it would often sport pin-ups by other up and coming indie artists of the time, such as Matt Wagner, Tim Truman, and more.
I loves me some Bizarro comics by Dan Piraro.
And to close out the week, here’s the cover to the original Spanish language edition of The Mercenary, volume 4:
Next week: back to some of my favorite 80s black-and-white indie comics.
Continuing our look at Vicente Segrelles’ series The Mercenary…
This is volume 6, published by NBM in 1988.
I’m thrilled and proud to announce that Persia Blues, my graphic novel with Brent Bowman, has been nominated for the “Great Graphic Novels for Teens – 2014″ award, as presented by Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA):
The list presents graphic novels published in the past 16 months that are recommended reading for teens aged twelve to eighteen. It is a general list of graphic novels, both fiction and nonfiction, selected for proven or potential appeal to the personal reading tastes of teens.
The final list will be presented in January 2014. Here’s the current list of nominations. As you can see, we’re in great company, with the likes of Gilbert Hernandez, Faith Erin Hicks, Mike Carey, Nate Powell, Paul Pope, Louis Trondheim, and even Senator John Lewis. And the wonderful Margreet De Heer, a fellow author at NBM Publishing, is also nominated for her graphic novel Science: A Discovery in Comics.
Needless to say, Brent and I are humbled and ecstatic.
The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) is a national association of librarians, library workers and advocates whose mission is to expand and strengthen library services for teens, aged 12-18. Through its member-driven advocacy, research, and professional development initiatives, YALSA builds the capacity of libraries and librarians to engage, serve and empower teens.
About the ALA:
The American Library Association (ALA) is the oldest and largest library association in the world, providing association information, news, events, and advocacy resources for members, librarians, and library users.
Founded on October 6, 1876 during the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, the mission of ALA is to provide leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.
This week I’m going to spotlight several graphic novels in The Mercenary series, by spanish creator Vicente Segrelles. The English editions were published by NBM back in the mid-80s. Here’s the cover to volume one:
A fantasy adventure set in the “Land of Eternal Clouds,” this multi-volume graphic novel series was fully painted using oils! Here’s a sample page:
You can find out more about this series at its official website.
This blog post by writer (and editor, and publisher) Mark Waid has been making the rounds, but I wanted to link to it as well because it’s essential reading for anyone thinking of a career as a freelancer in the comics biz. or, really, any creative medium.
Don’t let anyone scare you. Don’t let anyone bully you, ever. Some will if they think they can, but you teach people how to treat you. You can be confident and show integrity without being argumentative. And for God’s sake, don’t be so afraid to explore your options that you keep turning in work that makes you wince; no good decision was ever made primarily out of fear. You can always walk away from any monkey house if you have drive and talent. There are still plenty of places in comics to do work-for-hire without being poorly treated, and there are huge opportunities to self-publish and build a faithful paying audience through the web. It’s hard work, but it’ll be better work, and it’ll be the work you’re remembered by.
There’s really not much to add to this. Right now is one of the lowest points in creative/editorial relationships at the Big Two, especially DC Comics. And while there are a lot more opportunities available at indie publishers and as self-publishers, the money is obviously scarce. It take serious cajones to make it as a freelancer, and my hats off to those folks. It takes a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and luck. But obviously you can increase your odds of success by going into it with your eyes open to all the pitfalls and challenges.
By the way, Bleeding Cool has a roundup of various comics industry professionals’ reaction to Waid’s editorial here and more here. Here are a couple of examples:
“I’ve had the special joy of opening a comic to find the editor made changes to suit random whims. Whee.” — Sean McKeever
“If I hadn’t already quit Marvel and DC years ago, I’d quit again. There are so many other, better opportunities for creative people out here today.” — Kyle baker