August 22, 2007

Review: Mouse Guard Volume 1

Mouse Guard Volume 1: Fall 1152 is a treasure.

This book is published by Archaia Studios Press, which has a plethora of talented comic book writer/artists doing stuff outside the superhero vein. David Peterson does not disappoint either.

If I were pitching this as a movie I would say it's, "An American Tail meets Lord of the Rings." This is a story about mice in the year 1152. They have tiny little cities, and wear tiny little cloaks, and have tiny little swords. It's really all very cute, but is great because it's not cute in that Hello Kitty kind of way. The mice are all very serious and have real problems like predators who want to eat them.

But this story is about a threat from within their own ranks which is set to overthrow one of their cities. The main mice are part of the Mouse Guard, which guard the cities and towns from bad things. They also patrol the borders, chaperone "commonmice" and research wrongdoings. They are truly the adventurers of the mouse world. We follow mostly the three main mice, Saxon, Kenzie, & Lieam in this adventure.

The artwork in this book is phenomenal. This is a hardcover book (the paperback is due out spring 2008) and it would really make a great gift for anyone who likes LOTR type stories. Each panel is a work of art that you can study for details. The mice are very cute and stoic at the same time. There is also blood and stabbing and fighting (not in a Happy Tree Friends way, very minimal but effective).

Really I would recommend this book for men and women and boys and girls, and I look forward to the next one: Winter 1152.

August 17, 2007

Furries Scare Me

This chart reminded me of the above mentioned fact just by virtue of printing the word, "furries." *shiver*

I need a shower.

A funny chart though.

Digg: Books Not Newsworthy

Where the @#!! do you file a comic book story on Digg?

So I was browsing Digg, looking for any comic book or regular book news, and I noticed something odd: Digg doesn't list "books" anywhere. Not "reading material", or "newspapers", or even "things you check out of a library."

Here's a list of their categories:

Industry News
Tech Deals
World & Business
Business & Finance
Political News
2008 U.S. Elections
Political Opinion
World News
Offbeat News
Football - US/Canada
Other Sports
General Sciences
Industry News
Playable Web Games
PC Games
Nintendo Wii
PlayStation 3
Xbox 360

Are we so advanced now as a society that we no longer have any use for news about those ancient relics called "books"? Do books just get filed under "celebrity" or... I don't even know what else, "other sports". Doing a search on Digg for "comic book" heeds lots of results under a plethora of categories; movies, celebrity, general sciences, gaming industry news, offbeat news... but no books.

Digg isn't really all about news anyway. It's mostly just human interest stories. I mean "A Cat's Map of the Bed" is very cute, but is it news? Is it more newsworthy than "Killer Babies Infiltrate the Comicon!"? Possibly, but I digress.

I don't know, I'd like to think that if "motorsport" deserves it's own category that maybe books do as well?

No? Okay, I'll just be in offbeat news....

August 16, 2007

Reading Comics for Beginners Part 1: A Superpowered Glossary of Terms

Reading comic books can be somewhat scary for someone that's never done it before. It seems like some sort of secret society with capes and spandex and thought bubbles to an outsider. It's all very imposing.

There is a whole glossary of terms that people in the industry use. These are some of the commonly used terms you, as a reader, should know. Of course this is not an exhaustive list.

Colorist - the artist that applies color to the pen drawing
Comic Book Bag - a clear plastic bag used for comic book storage and protection
Comic Book Board / Backing Board - a (usually white) rectangular cardboard used in the comic book bag to keep the book from bending
Con - comic book convention
Fanboy - an obsessive male comic book collector that knows every detail about a particular comic (think "Comic Book Guy" from The Simpsons)
Fangirl - same as "fanboy" but female
Free Comic Book Day - an annual event when comic book distributors and retailers give away comics at local shops, usually in May
Golden Age - "the period of comics beginning June, 1938 with Action #1 and ending in 1945 with the end of World War II."
Graphic Novel - a bound book of either collected comic books or a standalone book that is thicker than a "floppy" comic book single issue
Inker - the artist that applies the ink to the pencil drawing
Letterer - the artist that applies the letters / words and captions to the artwork
Manga - a japanese comic book
Metaseries - "includes series of stories which include references to each other and some overall similar chronological or cast backdrop, but are not similar enough to be considered direct sequels."
Miniseries - a.k.a. Limited Series. a story contained in a limited number of issues, usually 2 to 12 issues
One Shot - "when only a single issue is produced of a title, or when the title is changed with each issue."
Ongoing Series - a series intended to continue indefinitely
Origin - the story of a character's beginning or creation
Panel - a box on the written page which contains a scene
Penciller - the artist that draws the original artwork with a pencil
Silver Age - "the period that begins in 1956 with the publishing of Showcase #4 and ends in 1969."
Splash Page or Panel - a large illustration or panel on the first page
Story Arc - a continuing storyline over a series of comic books
Superhero - character with mutant or super powers that uses those powers to do good and save the world
Supervillain - same as a superhero, but uses powers for evil or to destroy the world
TPB - trade paperback. A collected set of comic books reprinted and bound into a single book
Variant Cover - a comic book issued with multiple covers, each with different art, intended for collectors

I welcome corrections, etc., and look forward to adding to this "beginners" series.

References: books; Comic Book Dictionary; Wikipedia

August 15, 2007

Review: Those Left Behind (Serenity)


This is the TPB (trade paperback), Those Left Behind (Serenity)which takes place chronologically after Firefly the TV series and before Serenity the movie. All take place in the "Firefly" universe created by Joss Whedon of Buffy fame.

I wanted to like this more than I did. To me it felt more like a means to an end (the end being connecting the dots of what happened before the movie) than a well-thought out story on it's own merit.

Of course, Whedon and Mathews insert their humor into the writing, but not enough to make up for the lackluster story. There are no revelations here. It feels like a mediocre episode of Firefly.

The artwork really saved this book from being a complete failure. All the variant covers from the single issues are featured in between the stories, and they are really wonderful. Will Conrad's pencilling is right on, and Laura Martin is really my favorite colorist. I first got to know her work in Ruse; she does the best fabric I've seen in a comic book.

In all, I wouldn't miss this being a fan of Firefly/Serenity just to "complete" the story. But if I weren't I'd skip it.

August 14, 2007

Women Buy Comics Now Live

My new Amazon store, Women Buy Comics is now live. I'd like to use this store as a way of listing my recommended reads for sale at a discounted price. Or at least a way to look at the other customer and editor reviews.

I'll be adding more items to it in the near future and appreciate any feedback. Thanks for checking it out!

August 13, 2007

Stardust is a Fairy Tale for 2007

I saw Neil Gaiman's Stardust this weekend, and I really, really liked it. No, I didn't read the book (blasphemy!), so here's my take based on not reading the book, and not how they left this in and left this out, etc..

Stardust is an all-out fantasy fairy tale. It has a hero, a heroine in distress (or two), a wicked witch, pirates, and a unicorn thrown in for good measure. It's the perfect summer movie to watch if you want to feel good and not think too much. That may lead you to believe that it's for kids - well it is. But it's also for adults. And the silliness is truly kept in check with smart dialogue and funny exchanges.

Charlie Cox was solid and likeable, Michelle Pfeiffer was nice and evil (I don't know how you make this look sexy, but she did), and Claire Danes got better and more relatable over the course of the movie. Robert DeNiro's pirate captain Shakespeare could have been over the top and silly, but the director and the rest of the cast kept the character within the context of the movie.

Really the only bad part was the (too long) commercials and trailers before the movie. Some movie with Robin Williams (blech), Spiderwick Chronicles, Seeker (actually looked good to me). The best thing was the commercial for Journey Man on TV this fall.

In all, this movie's comparisons to The Princess Bride are apt, if in genre alone. Stardust isn't quite as comedic as Princess Bride, but has a lot more pretty special effects (and the special effects are nice and do further the story). This is great summer fare, and a perfect movie to see with the parents or relatives.

August 10, 2007

Review: She-Hulk Volume 1: Single Green Female


I have to say, this is the first time I've read a She-Hulk comic book (being a beginner - see blog description) and I'm impressed.

She-Hulk Vol. 1: Single Green Female is a compilation of Issues #1-6 of the latest She-Hulk incarnation. This storyline features the green goddess' alter ego, Jen Walters. Jen is a mousy lawyer that is nothing like the loud and boisterous She-Hulk. This is really the story of a woman dealing with the inconsistencies between her outer self and her real self.

That sounds very deep and depressing, but it's not. Dan Slott writes it tongue-in-cheek which makes me happy. There are a lot of references to other Marvel superheroes and supervillains which you may or may not understand if just starting out. But that will happen with any "universe" story.

I love Juan Bobillo's artwork (#1-4); it's very cartoon-y. His She-Hulk is nice and curvy, not just all scary muscles, yet very imposing at the same time. He has a nice way of adding humor to the pages too. Once you see his panels of Jen turning into She-Hulk I think you will be converted. I couldn't find any links to his artwork in this, but you can just go to the store and see!

Scott Kolins did the pencilling for #5 and 6. It's not that it's bad, it's just not my favorite. He has a more common style for She-Hulk. But in my opinion, it didn't match the writing as well.

I will be picking up the next volumes of She-Hulk which are already out. She-Hulk Volume 1 definitely lived up to my expectations and beyond.

August 9, 2007

Warner Bros., Whedon, and Wonder Woman

Just got this on Occasional Superheroine - Joss Whedon's take on his fall-out with the Wonder Woman movie project.

I think its more than just WB being "gunshy". They are stuck in the status quo, as are most entertainment executives. Whedon wanted to write a different take on Wonder Woman (not your cookie-cutter superhero movie), that's why they hired him, and that's why they fired him. It happens all the time in Hollywood, "hey kid, we hear you're doing cutting-edge things, you're hired!" Then, "hey kid, you're cutting-edginess doesn't jibe with our vision, sorry."

That combined with Whedon's lack of enthusiasm for writing at that point spelled disaster for the project.

I have to say, if you haven't noticed, I'm a Joss Whedon fan. I look forward to his new projects and I was looking forward to this movie. It's too bad Wonder Woman didn't happen.

Off Topic: I Heart L.A.

This earthquake woke me up at 1:00 in the morning. I was not a happy camper. Especially since I was having some sort of vivid dream and it interrupted my REM or something. It was only a 4.5, but enough to wake me up, not my dog, not my boyfriend (I woke him up anyway, hehe).

For those of you that have not experienced an earthquake before; It feels sort of like an 18-wheeler is barelling down the street, and then an invisible boogey-man proceeds to shake your bed violently for what seems like half an hour, but is more like five seconds.

Anyway, its very disconcerting having something you think is stable and shouldn't move (like, the ground) rattling and rolling like Katherine Hepburn's neck. So I'll try and "shake off" that unrestful night.

August 8, 2007

Off Topic: 100 Calorie Packs are the Devil!

Does this look healthy to you?

Oh the marketing person that came up with this one must be set for life. Working in an office I can tell you - these things are everywhere. They are like Invasion of the Snack-Snatchers. They are a horrible nightmare virus of 100-calorie goodness. People are buying these things like they are going out of style, which they might be.

What's the attraction? Are they healthier than their larger-portioned big brothers and sisters? No. But they come in tiny overpackaged...packages so you don't have the horrifying duty of actually portioning enough Nilla Wafers for yourself.

Chips Ahoy, Oreos (which are nothing like actual Oreos), Jell-O, Teddy Grahams, Hostess Cupcakes (WTF?).

Here's a clue: Just because it comes in a 100-calorie pack does not mean its healthy! There, I said it.

Now I'm just going to have one more pack....

What am I doing?

I'm in the midst of reading She-Hulk Vol. 1: Single Green Female and will hopefully have a review by the end of the week.

I am enjoying the read so far - it's funny, witty, and smart. I can see why this series has been getting somewhat of a buzz. Even though I have to ask the boyfriend about some of the background with her and the other superheroes, it can stand on it's own so far. We'll see how the last half pans out.

Interview with Sandra Hope, Nice Read

This is a nice interview with an inker, Sandra Hope, on Pink Raygun, that I found through WFA.

I'm all for supporting women in comics, and actively look for female writers and artists. Hope talks about some of the ups and downs of women in the comic book industry. It's frustrating to learn how stifled it still is, especially by other women. I really thought it wasn't that bad anymore (based on what - I'm not sure).

Anyway I found this interview informative, hope you do too.

August 7, 2007

Please God, No Sanjaya in Tights

Comic Book Resources just announced the third installment of "Comic Book Idol".

Now this is something I can readily relate to. I love watching American Idol's early rounds. The wincing and the jaw-dropping horridity (new word?) of it all is just so satisfying. Isn't that why people watch American Idol? Really who watches the final rounds?

So how does this translate to comic book art? Hm, not sure. Maybe we will see people embarrass themselves drawing strangely proportioned superheroes, or using the wrong color green for The Hulk.

On the other hand, this could be an actual uplifting and positive interpretation of the "Idol" genre resulting in the discovery and publication of real artistic talent. Hmph. I guess that's okay.

August 6, 2007

Dark Horse Signs Monk Creator to Pen Long Lost

Here is the press release.

USA's hit show Monk lends Dark Horse their creator Andy Breckman. Paired with legendary artist Peter Gross, the team delivers Long Lost, a drama full of loss, suspense, and mystery.

I love Monk, the show on USA Network, not the profession. You would be hard-pressed to find more than only a few shows that are smarter, wittier, more character-driven. No, I don't watch every episode but when I see it on, I'll watch it. Just the fact that the creator is going to be involved in a new comic for Dark Horse makes me happy.

I've been craving a good drama/mystery comic and haven't found any recently. I started to get hooked on comics by reading Ruse, published by the now defunct Crossgen (sad). It was a victorian mystery / superhero drama with a touch of comedy. I loved it - so girly. Long Lost seems like it will be a lot darker than that, but still with a sense of humor. So here's hoping that Long Lost will be a new favorite.

August 5, 2007

Review: Metal Men #1 (of 8)

I just read this first issue of an eight issue series, Metal Men, from DC. This is a spinoff miniseries from an ongoing series, 52. It's nice to read these miniseries comics because:

  • They are short and confined, so easy to swallow (with your eyes?). Also good for those of us with commitment issues.
  • They usually feature new and upcoming writers and artists trying new things.
  • The backstory isn't as important and you can jump right in.
This is the story of an inventor, and his "metal men" robot inventions (which include two metal "women"). These robots are really superheroes, and fight evil and all that. They also each have their own personalities similar to the metal they are made of (Lead is dense, Mercury is high-strung, etc).

While telling the story within the DC universe, Duncan Rouleau injects a sense of humor into this comic - in his writing and in his drawings. The art has a crisp and jaunty quality that lends itself to his amusing story of Metal Men.

This first issue has me interested, especially because of the art. I'm not sure if I'd continue if not for that. The story is a background for the next issues; it's pleasing, if not addicting. I would recommend picking this up if you are looking for a light superhero comic to read.

August 1, 2007

This Woman Will Play Tabula Rasa

Okay, okay, it's not a comic book... but I really really want to love this game. After kicking the habit of World of Warcraft (WoW), Tabula Rasa looks like just the thing to scratch that itch.

I want to be that kickass chick in the picture and blast all the monster aliens to Kingdom Come. I want to be a sniper perched on a hill and off the Bane one by one - is that weird?

This mmorpg (massively multiplayer online role playing game) should be out by holiday 2007, and is brought to you by Richard Garriott a.k.a. "Lord British". It's got quite a buzz and I had the chance to play a bit at Comic-con. The shooting aspect is just my style - sticky targeting (meaning I don't have to hold my breath so I don't accidentally move the mouse one micron and miss the target).

Tabula Rasa is in closed beta now (you can sign up here) which means they are still working out the release version. It looks like NCSoft, the publisher, is going for an easy play style. That means I can play the game for an hour at a time if I want to which is nice because I don't need an addiction right now (read: WoW). Let's cross our fingers and hope this one lives up to the hype.