Monday, April 30, 2012

Zegas: Excellence expands

Zegas #2
By Michel Fiffe

Michel Fiffe is a relentlessly creative artist, constantly coming up with fascinating new visual ideas for communicating emotion, thought, music, motion, and all manner of happenings, both "realistic" and "magical". But with this second issue of his self-published series (which comes in a beautiful magazine-size presentation, vivid colors popping off the pages, and a thickness that makes for a satisfyingly hefty "pamphlet"), he continues to reveal a flair for interpersonal moments and subtle emotions to balance out the eye-popping visuals that he does so well. The series continues to follow brother and sister Emily and Boston Zegas, as the former searches for a job that will allow for some artistic self-expression, and the latter meddles in others' relationships without being able to sort out his own. It's a nice, low-key drama, with smaller moments transitioning into brightly-colored spreads of energy and life, bursts of color and exaggerated cityscapes emphasizing the teeming, bustling metropolis full of life just outside the window, right alongside this small slice of humanity that we're privileged to witness.

Fiffe manages to capture the best of both worlds here, with the most gripping moments consisting of small moments and conversations (a scene between Boston and a paramour of Emily's especially stands out on this front, with the page splitting into myriad small "talking head" panels, making for a fast-paced back-and-forth), and visual delights worked into and in between these scenes, an exciting energy and creativity always present on the page. Thoughts shoot out of characters' heads like lightning bolts, music bursts from speakers in multicolored torrents of energetic constructs representing pure sound, dancing nightclub-goers dissolve into neon lines jittering across crowded scenery, a musical act blasts across a two-page spread in eye-searing pinks and barely-comprehensible slashes of color, and another conversational scene winds its way across an impeccably-designed pair of pages in a beautiful Frank King/Chris Ware homage:

It's a lovely comic for both the eyes and the mind, but perhaps even better is "Habana '76", the short story that fits between the bookended parts of the issue's main story. It stands out by being rendered in stark black and white, and it seems to be inspired by Love and Rockets, following a young man in a Latin American country as he searches for cigarettes, flirts with a girl, clashes with her father, and then stumbles into a scene of seemingly greater significance. It's a beautifully human story, full of realistically-posed figures moving in relation to each other, their gestures captured in Fiffe's flowing brushstrokes, with the lines devolving into harsh scratchiness for a physical confrontation, then snapping back into clarity once the moment has passed, while still seeming on the verge of chaos, the characters' energy barely contained within the panels. It's a gorgeously human story, pulsing with life in a way that manages to be unique even next to the brilliant gleam of the rest of the issue surrounding it.

With this series, Fiffe is continuing to display a boundless excitement for comics and the infinite possibilities for communication that the medium provides. It's exciting to watch him continue to grow and develop as a storyteller and artist, so hopefully this will continue for as long as he wants to keep producing it. I know I'll be reading it as long as it does.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Art what I like: Sometimes it's all in the eyes

The most recent (and, sadly, penultimate) collection of Brian Wood's Northlanders features the good stories one would expect, but I found one in particular to be especially nice, at least from an art-based perspective. That would be issue #40, "The Hunt". Illustrated by Matthew Woodson, it's a simple story about a hunter tracking a deer across the frozen wastelands in the north of Sweden. Wood's story sells the life-and-death struggle of the lonely man who is motivated by the need for survival, but goes beyond the normal effort out of some extra, human impulse (Pride? Anger? Desperation?). But what I found especially striking about the story is Woodson's art. He details the snowy forests in a lovely manner, but goes someplace extra when depicting the emotions that cross the hunter's face, especially his eyes. There's something fascinating about how much he is able to convey through silent expressions, with information gathering around the hunter's piercing blue orbs. His look of tired determination near the beginning of the story is an immediate signal of the humanity of his situation:

And when he misses a key shot, the look of anguished defeat he gives is all too relatable, even to those of us who aren't experienced with needing to succeed in our efforts or starve:

Near the end of the story, things get grimmer and grimmer, the hunter's eyes eventually communicating a resigned acceptance of his fate, but with a determination to keep going to the end:

And on the other side of the coin, Woodson even manages to wrangle heartwrenching expression out of the prey:

It's beautiful work, and while I'm not sure I fully understand the ending of the story, it struck me as one that really exemplifies this series at its best, in that it brought the past to life in a way that emphasized the humanity of these characters, real people struggling for survival in a world that's completely different from anything in our modern experience, yet rendered comprehensible through the connection we all share. I'm really going to miss it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Art what I like: Fiona Staples is a hell of an "actor"

There's a panel in the second issue of the new Brian K. Vaughan-written series Saga that kind of blew me away in how effectively the artist, Fiona Staples, conveyed emotion in a character's face. It's a key moment in which one of the main characters threatens to kill her own newborn child to keep it from falling into the hands of an enemy (oh yeah, spoilers, I guess), and while that might be a bit melodramatic, Staples sells it by somehow capturing the complex tangle of unbearable sadness and angry defiance that must be going through the character's head:

It's a pretty amazing feat, something that would be near-impossible for a flesh-and-blood actress to believably pull off, but there's something about the set of the mouth and the lines around the eyes that lets us know exactly what's going through her head, sucking us right into the scene as if we're there on the alien planet, caught up in the high-stakes drama.

Staples isn't limited to subtle emotion either, which is good when it comes to a crazy interplanetary adventure like this one. There's some great world-building scenery and exciting action, but the other thing that I found particularly striking about this issue is something that I won't share here, since it's so much more effective on the page: a character design that's creepy, disturbing, and threatening, something alien that combines human sexiness with insectile nastiness in a way that's truly memorable. It's another great example of the well-thought-out quality of this series, and a sign that it will continue to be a comic to enjoy for some time to come.

Monday, April 23, 2012

C2E2 2012: Let's read comics

Here are a few of the comics I acquired at C2E2, and what I think of them:

Thomas Vs. the Monsters #1
Fear Is the Mind-Killer: A 24-Hour Comic
By Jp Pollard


It's always exciting to find an interesting new voice on the comics scene, and that's exactly what Jp Pollard is, having recently quit his job as a graphic designer to pursue his dream of making comics. He details the journey to that point in his 24-hour comic Fear Is the Mind-Killer, making for a nice self-examination as he describes his pitfalls and successes as he struggled with self-doubt and the fear of...failure? Success? Uncertainty? The answers, as much as Pollard manages to formulate them, are interesting and relatable, mostly due to the visually interesting way in which they are presented, with panels often formed of and connected by machinery and cables, and the revelation of Henry Rollins as a sort of spirit animal for Pollard. It's bracingly honest work, and it's a great way to get one interested in the results of all the word detailed within.

And luckily, that comic, Thomas Vs. the Monsters, turns out to be pretty good, an enjoyably odd adventure story about an odd kid who, yes, fights monsters. We actually get introduced to him through the point of view of Andy Anderson, a college student who stumbles across Thomas, a grumpy young man who wears what appears to be a newsboy cap with a raccoon tail attached and bears the no-nonsense demeanor and thousand-yard-stare of a soldier in a war hidden from the sight of most of humanity. Andy gets dragged along on a trip into supernatural craziness, the pair discovering something that even surprises Thomas, and gives Pollard a chance to draw all sorts of weirdness. In fact, as goofily interesting as the plot is, the visuals are where the comic really shines, with characters sporting cartoonily simplistic designs and bizarre proportions (the forced perspective seen on the cover seems to have permanently disfigured Thomas into a big-handed, long-armed, small-footed mutant, an appearance that, perhaps, gives him a kinship with the very beasts he is sworn to destroy?), monsters alternating between Jack Kirby angularity and Cronenbergian body horror, and crazy Steranko effects taking over when it's time for a psychic freak-out. It's a weird, cool comic, and Pollard really seems to be enjoying himself. I can't wait to see where it goes next. Fortunately, I won't have to wait, since new issues are being posted online (in color!) as they are finished. Give this comic a look, if you dare.


Girls Night Out
Written by Amy Chu
Art by Cabbral, Louie Chin, Silvio dB, Craig Yeung, Juri H C, and Chris Sotomayor
Published by Alpha Girl Comics

This is a small anthology of comics written by Amy Chu, an ambitious writer trying to transition into comics from the film industry who is new to comics, and she seems to be working hard to improve her craft, figuring out the ins and outs of comics storytelling. The stories here span a variety of genres: a short slice-of-life contrasting the lives of two women in 1958 and 2011, a mysterious look at a soldier reminiscing on terrorism after the death of Osama Bin Laden, a cute story about a man connecting with his son via online gaming, a sci-fi tale with a twist in which a bounty hunter tracks down a kidnapping victim, and a fable about an emperor trying to cheat death with dire consequences. They're all pretty short stories, ranging from three to six pages, but they're a good demonstration of Chu's skills at different plots, settings, and character types. The artists are all pretty competent as well, with the standouts being Craig Yeung's soft-focus realism and Cabbral's angular cartooniness. There's definitely talent on display here, and hopefully we'll be seeing more of it in the future.


Meridien City #1-2
Written by Georgia Lee
Art by Silvio dB and Cabbral
Published by Alpha Girl Comics

With this series, Amy Chu's partner Georgia Lee is taking a different approach to breaking into comics, spinning a long-form sci-fi story set on a planet which, due to the same side always facing the sun, is only inhabitable in a strip of land that circles the globe, a single circumferential city nestled between extreme heat and cold. It starts out as a murder mystery, with a police investigator searching the hot zone for a serial killer, but the plot soon derails, turning into a story about the rich and powerful preying on the weak, the heroine discovering that she plays a key role in the future of the planet. It's interesting, if fairly rote, with some neat ideas and sci-fi designs, and competent art that conveys the action and emotions clearly. It's not exactly a barn-burner, but it's well-done for what it is, and it's good enough to raise interest in the conclusion of the story, which hopefully won't be too long in coming. There's a mild recommendation if I ever heard one.


Funrama #2
By Ryan Kelly

When I bought this comic from him, Ryan Kelly asked that it not be reviewed, since it's something he's just doing for fun in between his professional projects. So while I won't comment on the story, which works well enough as a fun superhero story about a teen girl who fights crime and faces a possibly sinister stranger, I will say that the art is excellent, a great example of how good Kelly is at what he does, from character design to believable settings to dynamic action. It's never less than lovely, full of cute girls, cool villains, and beautiful  backgrounds that ground the goings-on in realistic suburban settings. It's not exactly a secret that Kelly is a hell of a talent, and this series is a good chance to see him unfettered, just throwing comics onto the page for the fun of it without having to follow the orders of corporate masters. This might not be a life-changing work of genius, but it's obviously fun for Kelly to do, and that makes it fun to read as well. Don't miss out.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Infinite Kung Fu: Or at least too high to mathematically calculate

Infinite Kung Fu
By Kagan McLeod
Published by Top Shelf

As a connoisseur of martial arts cinema, I think I can definitively state that Kagan McLeod gets it. He's a true fan, and he's demonstrated as much by not just endlessly talking about how cool the various Bruce Lee/Gordon Liu/Jet Li/etc. movies he's seen are, but by creating his own kung-fu epic from whole cloth, and setting it down in awesome detail in this thick volume. The love of the genre shines through on every page, with clear, well-choreographed action bursting from the panel borders, imaginative names for badass moves and techniques, colorful characters that fall into well-known archetypes but still vibrate with life, and an epic story involving the fate of the "martial world", with all these aspects working together and expanding to fill the numerous pages and none of the space wasted. He uses the limitless budget of comics art to dream up ever-cooler ideas, from armies of zombies attacking the living due to an afterlife that is full-to-bursting with souls waiting to be reincarnated and mystical figures looming over conflicts from other planes of existence, to diverse settings like ornate palaces, deserted wastelands, modern cities, and Shaolin temples and imaginative fights that involve robots, animals, body-switching, and the removal and regrowth of limbs. It's pure awesome from start to finish.

It can often seem that plots don't really matter in martial arts films (or rather, if the action is good enough, a poor-to-nonexistent plot can be forgiven), but McLeod still crafts a pretty compelling story here, following a young man named Lei Kung as he gets drawn into a conflict between a group of immortals and their wayward protégés, who have fallen under the spell of an evil, undead emperor that is trying to reunite the pieces of his cursed armor in order to be reborn, an event which will surely lead to the world's destruction. Lei Kung trains and discovers new skills throughout his journeys until he's ready for the final, epic conflict, spending time in a prison learning techniques by battling deadly animals, at the venerable Shaolin Temple gaining wisdom and inner peace, and consulting with immortals to discover the very secrets of life and death. We also take occasional breaks to watch other players in the grand conflict, including the badass Moog Joogular, another student of the immortals who, in an especially awesome sequence, ends up in a fight against the emperor's centuries-old queen, both of them using their own severed arms as weapons.

McLeod's deep knowledge and obvious love of the genre is evident, but the whole thing is really brought to life by his gorgeous art. Images flow across the pages in beautifully inky brushstrokes (along with perfectly textured graytones and thin-lined flashbacks that have a spooky, ghostly atmosphere), the characters cleanly defined and clearly delineated, figures making spatial sense as they interact physically, and everything moving dynamically in a gracefully violent dance. It's something to marvel at, but the action moves so propulsively, it's hard to stop turning pages long enough to take it all in.

But occasionally, one has to stop and stare at the imagery McLeod creates, especially the meticulously detailed settings like a marshy wasteland that resembles a skeletal arm and hand from above, or a giant Buddha statue that is the scene of a massive battle, with hundreds of combatants swarming from the statue's base to its head. There's always something new to see here, and more exciting action to be had. Characters live and die, new fighting styles are discovered and developed, all manner of weapons are used to draw blood, and quests of personal fulfillment and world-affecting import are waged. This is an amazing comic, full of just about everything one could ask for in a martial arts adventure story. McLeod has raised the bar for kung fu on the page, such that this is now the standard anyone hoping to follow in his footsteps is going to have to live up to. If we're lucky, many will attempt the task. Let the new age of kung fu comics begin!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Drops of God: Ridiculously sublime

The Drops of God, volume 3
Written by Tadashi Agi
Art by Shu Okimoto
Published by Vertical

This manga manages to walk a pretty fine line, maintaining an obviously heightened reality while hewing closely to a real-world subject, and going a bit overboard on flowery descriptions of amazing wines, while still managing to convey their appeal and even educate the reader on the seemingly impenetrable aspects of wine culture. It's pretty amazing to watch how well the creators navigate this terrain, but they do it so well that one can simply enjoy the fun story as it plays out.

When it comes to the former aspect, the exaggerated drama and sometimes goofy plots make for some really fun reading, as one never knows what to expect, only that it will involve Shizuku Kanzaki displaying his amazing wine-tasting abilities at some point. For instance, the main plot of this volume sees him searching for a wine his father described, a description that happens to match a painting by a woman who is an amnesiac, the taste of said wine the only thing she can remember. Can Shizuku find the wine that will unlock her lost memories (and use said wine to win the eponymous contest)? It's kind of silly, but some real emotion manages to shine through, with Shizuku insisting that "the past is the earth where a person's present is rooted...a life without roots in the earth can't bear fruit", and using the maturation of wine as it ages as a metaphor for the necessity of memory in people's lives.

As for the wildly descriptive imagery used to explain what it's like to taste the various wines drunk in the stories, Shizuku can go a bit over the top with how totally and deeply he is transported when sampling a great vintage. One memorable scene has him give the following narration of his experience:
"A virgin has all the layers of stillness and clarity of Chambolle-Musigny. I see it. The crystal stream...wild roses block my path. The whispering stream is right in front of me, yet I'm barred from its thirst-quenching bounty. Ah, I can't scoop up the water and soothe my throat? Am I not to reach that stream in this wondrous scene laden with wild fruits and flowers? I know. If my hands can't reach, I'll spread the wings of imagination. Tell me bird, how is the stream? Ah, such a happy twitter. Just by watching, I'm filled with euphoria myself. What?! I to drink it? I'm allowed?" 
Yes, all that from a single sip. It's kind of ridiculous, but the rapturous experiences Shizuku describes almost always get translated into language that's more understandable and relatable, whether he's explicating the luxurious appeal of the "Big Five" Bordeaux wines or enumerating the differences between vintages of the same vineyard, but especially in a big showdown with his rival where he gets to demonstrate how well he understands his father's philosophy about wine as a union of "Heaven, Earth, and Man", valuing the ability of vintners to overcome flaws and imperfections over the sterility of flawlessness. It's wonderfully expressive writing, and a credit to the translators that the message comes through as well in English as is presumably did in its native Japanese. This is great stuff, and incredibly fun comics. On to the other eleven Apostles, I say.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

C2E2 2012: Talents deserving of further consideration

One of my favorite aspects of comics conventions is that no matter what else happens, I always discover creators and comics that I didn't know about before and want to learn more about. Here's just some of what was to be had at C2E2 this year, and I'm sure there was plenty more that I completely missed.

Katie Shanahan has a wonderfully cartoony style, full of energy and humor. I really need to check out her book Silly Kingdom, as well as her contributions to the anthologies Cautionary Fables and Fairy Tales and Womanthology: Heroic.

The work of Outland Entertainment looks pretty cool, including the series Windfall (pictured above) and Ithaca. I talked to Jeremy Mohler, who does layouts, lettering, and coloring, working alongside other artists in the "collective" on what looks to be quality comics. He and I share a lot of opinions about webcomics, and comics in general, so it should be really interesting to see this work develop. I expect great things.

Scott Brown and Enrique Rivera's Bananas and Binary seems like a fairly standard webcomic (it stars a monkey and a robot, of course), but I do like Rivera's cartoony art style, and he had some pages of a proposed graphic novel on hand that were pretty great. I'd love to see that finished at some point, but this series looks pretty entertaining for now.

I liked what I saw of Blunderbuss Wanderlust, an educational book about the adventures of the time-traveling Coloner Victor Von Vector by David Shapiro and Christopher Herndon, who also have several other nice-looking books out under their Craigmore Creations label.

Surreality, a new webcomic by Caleb King, Carla Wyzgala, and Andy Evans, also looks really gorgeous. It appears to be a slice-of-life story with a lot of nerdy references, and maybe some magic or something? It launches on May 8, so check it out.

And for other stuff I thought was interesting, but might or might not turn out to be ready for prime time:

Mike Roll's art on the Apooka series of books, which star "The World's Most Adorable Zombie", is really cute, with a color palette that reminds me of Frank Espinosa, but I'm not sold on the stories themselves, and I've been over the various iterations of zombies for a few years now. Still, it's worth a look

I like the style of Dave Wheeler and Samir Barrett at Mindwave Comics, although I don't know if their actual comics are really up my alley.

The Vescell series from Image sounds pretty cool, a sci-fi concept involving the transfer of people's minds/consciousnesses between bodies. The art seems like it might be a bit computery, but I'll check it out, given the chance.

I don't know if the webcomic Keeper, by Geoffrey D. Wessel and Jeff Simpson, is any good, but it's about a soccer goalkeeper who is also a serial killer, and it has some nice painted coloring.

I kind of like the art of Michael Arthur, even if it seems like it might sink into the bog furry-oriented perviness. He's got an expressive style that's just a bit weird, in a good way. Oh, and it looks like he also contributes to my friend Noah Berlatsky's site The Hooded Utilitarian!

I wouldn't mind checking out more of Modern Tales of the Future, from Dread Arts Company.

Antonio Romero has kind of a cool style, combining dense cross-hatching and scribbly shading with stark, woodcut-style imagery. I'm not sure if I really get what's going on in his comics, but they certainly look unique and worthy of further investigation.

Ryan Dow's Introspective Comics looks to be a cute autobiographical webcomic in which he regularly converses with a little apparition of Buddha. That's nice.

Gavin Smith has a really polished, realist style that could turn into something amazing, given practice. I'm not so sure his comic Human City, which is some sort of post-apocalyptic, mutant-fighting thing, is for me, but there's some cool stuff going on in the art nonetheless. He's one to keep an eye on.

Nidhi Chanani apparently just does illustration, rather than comics, but her art is gorgeous, well-composed images featuring simple characters and beautiful coloring. I could look at it for hours.

That's far from everything I saw, but even this taste is a lot to process. I look forward to following these creators and seeing what they do next.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

C2E2 2012: Groo-some images

As always, whenever I go to a convention, I try to get some artists that I like to add to my Groo-themed sketchbook, which continues to increase in awesomeness with each new year. For this C2E2, I obtained the following:

Katie Shanahan, who turned out to be a Groo fan herself, did an awesome coloring job on this lively contribution:

Jeremy Bastian, after looking at Becky Cloonan's drawing of Arba (which you can see here), did his own version of the character:

I love the expression and the thick brushwork Paul Azaceta put into this sketch:

Gabriel Hardman liked the cape Groo was wearing on the cover of issue number 75, so he drew one in his sketch since it made for a nice composition and added some cool shadows:

And Eric Powell whipped out this quick grimacing face, sketching lightly in pencils and then, rather than inking, just going over the drawing in dark pencils as a finish. Check out those confident lines in the hair. The whole thing probably took him two minutes, and it looks awesome:

That's all for this year, but I'm always looking to add more cool mendicants to the collection.

Monday, April 16, 2012

C2E2 2012: Swag report

Here's a picture of all the stuff I brought home from C2E2:

This pile contains, starting in the back row:
I've got plenty of reading ahead of me, it seems. Life is good.

C2E2 2012: Hopefully it's here to stay

Upon first entering the convention floor at the third annual Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo, I was feeling a bit depressed about comics, possibly due to the prominence of the uglier side of the industry, the massive booths from DC and Marvel plastered with gigantic banners hawking their tiresome, derivative projects like Before Watchmen and Avengers Vs. X-Men, the prevalence of gross material from publishers like Zenescope, the "comics = superheroes" mentality on display from other-media hangers-on, the emphasis on celebrity guests (John Cusack and Val Kilmer were the big names, but names like Anthony Daniels and Sean Astin were also prominent), and so on. But once I got beyond that first impression, there was tons to be positive about. Smaller publishers really demonstrated their drive to produce good material: Archaia's growing library of quality work like Jim Henson's Tale of Sand, Old City Blues, Miranda Mercury, and other excellent books; Top Shelf's table full of comics to meet all tastes, including new books like Harvey Pekar's Cleveland, Blue, and The Pterodactyl Hunters; and the return of old-school indie publisher First Comics with a combination of reprints of material like Zen: Intergalactic Ninja or Shatter and new comics like Necessary Monsters and Frickin' Butt-Kickin' Zombie Ants. Artist Alley was the highlight of the convention for me, as ever, offering a chance to connect or reconnect with creators whose work I enjoy, and especially to discover new talents from the boundless well of creativity that is modern comics (stay tuned for another post in which I talk about all the new stuff I found).

And there's always the experiences that can only be had at a comics convention, from the always-entertaining practice of gawking at costumed weirdos to the various discussions and sights that can be seen at panels. One particular highlight for me was a Joe Kubert panel in which attendees could ask questions about the Kubert School or query him about his methods, while watching him draw a picture to be raffled in support of the Hero Initiative. He's a legend, having been in the comics industry for around 70 years, and getting to watch him methodically construct a picture (of Watchmen's Nite Owl, who he described as "a character my son Andy is working on"), stopping occasionally to discuss art tools, anatomy, reference, inking, and myriad other topics about his art and career. For me, attending the con was worth it for this experience alone.

And then on Sunday, I got to experience an entire new perspective on comics conventions by bringing along my family. My wife Sarah, and my daughters Magnolia (age 4) and Dahlia (age 1) seemed a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing, but they had a really great time. The girls were awed by all that they got to see, especially the costumes and big pictures, but for Sarah, the big highlight was meeting David Newell, who played Mr. McFeely, the mailman on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. They also enjoyed watching the kids' costume contest, which was a parade of incredible cuteness. All in all, it made for a great time, with me able to hang out with people as something of an "insider", and them getting a taste of the experience. It's something we'll have to do again, which is a demonstration that no matter how positive or negative I feel about the comics industry, I'll be able to find things to be excited about, and people to share them with. Luckily, that won't be going away anytime soon.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

C2E2 2012: What to do, what to do...

This weekend sees the third annual Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo, which I plan to attend, roaming the halls of McCormick Place with my Groo sketchbook and whatever goods I can't keep from sacrificing my hard-earned money for, staring in amusement and/or horror at all the weirdness on display. As has become something of a yearly tradition on the blog, here's a roundup of programming and events that I'm at least interested in attending or checking out, although I'll likely only make it to a fraction of them. If you're looking for a complete list of all the "official" programming, The Beat has a handy all-in-one guide.

Thursday, April 12

3:45-5:15 PM - Neal Adams signing at Graham Crackers Comics: Neal Adams is a guest at C2E2, but he's also doing this signing before the show, in case you want to get more up close and personal and see if he's as crazy as his comics make him seem like he must be.

6:00-7:00 PM - Comic Art and Fine Art: Connecting the Dots: A panel/mini-tour (of the Roy Lichtenstein exhibit?) at the Art Institute of Chicago featuring Geof Darrow, Neal Adams, and Ivan Brunetti, all about comics and fine art. Neat.

8:00-11:00 PM - Magic Show with Jon Armstrong at Challengers Comics: As a pre-show event, Challengers Comics is doing this neat get-together in support of the IDW series Smoke & Mirrors, which is written by Mike Costa and illustrated by my buddy Ryan Browne, the creator of God Hates Astronauts and Blast Furnace. I bet it'll be fun.

Friday, April 13

2:45-3:45 PM -  Archaia Presents: Coming Soon from Archaia Entertainment: This is one of those publisher announcement panels that can sometimes be interesting (or, alternately, a repetition of "and we've also got this coming out, and it's awesome!"), so I could see checking it out, since I do like a lot of what I've seen from Archaia. There's a bunch of their artists on the panel too, like David "Mouse Guard" Peterson and Jeremy "Cursed Pirate Girl" Bastian.

3:45-4:45 PM - Dark Horse Spring Fever!: Another announcement panel, but with no artists, just Dark Horse's Director of Public Relations. I bet they're saving the stars for another thing later in the show.

3:45-4:45 PM - Food and Comics: I guess this is a discussion of where the two subjects meet? Comics don't really have many examples of the kind of "food porn" that you see in movies like Big Night or Eat Drink Man Woman (outside of manga, that is), so I'm not sure if they plan to talk about doing that kind of comic or what. Jill Thompson and Brian Azzarello are on the panel, as is noted fatty foodie C.B. Cebulski, so maybe this could be something. Maybe?

5:15-6:15 PM - ComiXology Open Discussion: Everything Digital!: I met David Steinberger a few years ago, when Comixology was still pretty new, and since then, they've risen to prominence as the top format for digital comics, which is pretty cool. This could be an interesting discussion about the future of digital and whatnot, depending on the identity of the mysterious "special guests".

6:30-7:30 PM - Comics and Pop Music: Another discussion of comics and some other bit of pop culture; possibly interesting? I'm surprised Jamie McKelvie (the artist of Phonogram) isn't on the panel, but Jen Van Meter (creator of Hopeless Savages) is.

6:45-7:45 PM - CSC-3: Black Comix Lounge: There was a good panel on "black comics" last year, and while this one seems to have more of an educational bent, being part of the CSC series of panels/lectures, it will contain information on an event held during the weekend called the "Sci-Fi Spacetastic Ball", which could be fun. I just may check it out.

7:30-8:30 PM - The Geek Girl and the Artist: Women’s Perspectives on Geek Culture, Gender Identity and Art/Media: This one could be hit or miss, considering that these feminist discussions can range from fascinating (talking about women as a part of comics culture, opportunities, sexism, how actual issues affect people) to tiresome (endless blather about how Wonder Woman or other female superheroes are being "disrespected" this week). I don't think I've ever heard of any of the panelists, so that doesn't really get me excited, but who knows, maybe I just need to expand my horizons.

7:45-8:45 PM - Mark Waid’s Digital Comics: Mark Waid has been talking about digital comics lately, and he's apparently launching a new comics site, so maybe this will be the place to learn all about his plans for new motion comics that unnecessarily mess with the way people read. 

9:00 PM - CBLDF/Threadless C2E2 Fashion Show Welcome Party: I guess Threadless is doing one of their lines of "comics-on-tees" shirts designed by Jeffrey Brown, with art by Brown, Paul Hornschemeier, Anders Nilsen, and Jeff Lemire, and this is a sort of release party featuring music, drinks, an auction, live art, and various comics "celebrities". Sounds like fun, probably.

Saturday, April 14

11:00AM-12:00 PM - The Ladies of Womanthology: This book has gotten a lot of attention, both positive and negative, so this could be an interesting discussion about women in comics, the merits of crowd-funding, charity work vs. paying the artists, and so on. Or it could be an opportunity for weirdos to talk about hawt ladies making superhero comics and how much the creators love Batgirl. It's a toss-up.

11:00AM-12:30 PM - Kubert School Spotlight and Art Demo with Joe Kubert: Ooh, this sounds like a treat. How often do you get to watch Joe Kubert draw? I'm sure the school stuff will be nice too, but I don't think I can pass up that opportunity.

11:15AM-12:15 PM -  The Future Of Superheroes: The title of this panel wants me to run screaming, but it's actually a bunch of AV Club critics talking about superheroes in comics and movies, which only slightly gives me hives rather than full on heebie-jeebies. I like the AV Club enough to give it a chance, and maybe I'll get lucky and they'll declare the future of superheroes to be obsolescence (at least more so than they are already, that is).

1:30-2:30 PM - Art of Frank Cho: This appears to be another live-drawing panel, maybe. Frank Cho has less appeal than Joe Kubert, what with his puerile emphasis on the female form, but hey, that is something that has inspired artists throughout history, so who's to say what does and doesn't constitute a worthy pursuit? I do think he's generally a pretty good artist, so it could be worth checking out depending on one's mood and how skeeved out the convention atmosphere already feels at that point.

1:30-2:30 PM - The Big IDW Panel: More publisher announcements, with the promise of "magic", which probably means the magician from that event a Challengers on Thursday is sticking around for the rest of the weekend.

1:45-2:45 PM - The First Comics Panel (30 year Anniversary): Ooh, neat, a celebration of First Comics, one of those indie publishers from the 80s who are apparently coming back. That could be interesting, even if they aren't publishing Lone Wolf and Cub anymore.

2:00-3:00 PM - DC All Access – Special Edition: Before Watchmen: Here's a chance to level accusations of repulsive behavior toward Brian Azzarello, Amanda Conner, Adam Hughes, Len Wein, J. Michael Straczynski, and anyone associated with this clusterfuck. Good times!

4:00-5:00 PM - Webcomics Roundtable With Blind Ferret and Explosm!: I don't know what "Blind Ferret" and "Explosm" are, but I do like webcomics, and at least some of the representatives on this panel (Least I Could Do, Looking for Group) don't have terrible reputations (The Gutters, on the other hand...). That's...something, I guess.

4:00-5:00 PM - Occupy Comics: I guess this is all about the anthology inspired by the Occupy movement. It looks pretty good, but I have no idea who will actually be on this panel to talk about it. If I ever find out, I might go.

4:30-5:30 PM - Vertigo: New Blood: I'm less into Vertigo these days than I have been in the past, so I'm not all that excited about checking this panel out, but I am curious about Sean Murphy's Punk Rock Jesus, so that's at least one thing worth checking out. Maybe there will be others, who knows.

6:45-7:45 PM - Video Game Characters Reborn! NAMCO BANDAI Games’ ShiftyLook: I was just checking out this site the other day; it's got some good creators (Dean Haspiel, Jim Zubkavich, and Mike Norton, among others) doing webcomics inspired by old video games (Xevious, Sky Kid, etc.). Pretty fun; I bet this will be worth a look.

7:15-9:15 PM - C2E2 Charity Auction: I don't know if I would want to attend the actual auction, but I would like to check out the art being sold, from people like Tim Sale, Bill Sienkiewicz, Tony Moore, Gene Ha, Geof Darrow, Eric Canete, and Skottie Young. Hopefully it'll be on display somewhere...

Saturday, April 15

10:45-11:45 AM - CBLDF: The History (and Future) of Comics Censorship: It's always good to keep up with how the man is keeping us down.

10:45-11:45 AM - Ban ‘em, Burn ‘em, Steal ‘em! A Fan’s Guide to Graphic Novel Censorship: Is this different than the previous panel? If not, well, I guess you have to choose between two different censorship-related panels at the same time.

10:45-11:45 AM - Archaia Presents: How to Tell a Better Story Through World-Building: This sounds like a discussion of worldbuilding with David Petersen and Jeremy Bastian, which will probably be really interesting. I've chatted with Petersen about the subject, which was fun, and I'd love to see him talk it over with other creators. That's what conventions are all about, right?

10:45-11:45 AM - Neal Adams Q&A: Ooh, another chance to ask about his geological theories! Or, to keep it related to comics, what the hell is going on in Batman: Odyssey and Blood?

12:00-1:00PM - Chicks Dig Comics: I hate the title of the panel, but it's got Jill Thompson, Amanda Conner, and Jen Van Meter talking about women and comics, hopefully with intelligence instead of rah-rah nonsense about girls being nerds too.

12:00-1:00PM - DC Comics for Kids!: I assume this is just an empty room for an hour. Zing! No, it's actually Art Baltazar and Franco talking about their new Superman Family Adventures series, because DC has exactly one comic for kids. Way to build an audience, guys. But seriously, those guys are pretty good; I bet this will be enjoyable.

2:45-3:45PM - Chicago Creators’ Spotlight: There's lots of good comics talent in Chicago, so it's cool to have a panel spotlighting them. This is Jill Thompson, Tim Seeley, Mike Norton, and Jenny Frison talking about the subject. Yep, that's a good hometown crew.

I think that's everything that I deem worthy of mentioning, as far as I know. If you know of any other events, either at the convention or elsewhere in the city, let me know. If you want to get in touch with me, the best way to get in touch is probably Twitter. Or just shouting my name loudly in the convention hall, that might work. See you there!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Neverending Fray: Index

Pacific Comics

Groo the Wanderer #1
Groo the Wanderer #2
Groo the Wanderer #3
Groo the Wanderer #4
Groo the Wanderer #5
Groo the Wanderer #6
Groo the Wanderer #7
Groo the Wanderer #8

Eclipse Comics

Groo the Wanderer Special #1

Marvel/Epic Comics

Groo the Wanderer #1
Groo the Wanderer #2
Groo the Wanderer #3
Groo the Wanderer #4
Groo the Wanderer #5
Groo the Wanderer #6
Groo the Wanderer #7
Groo the Wanderer #8
Groo the Wanderer #9
Groo the Wanderer #10
Groo the Wanderer #11
Groo the Wanderer #12
Groo the Wanderer #13
Groo the Wanderer #14
Groo the Wanderer #15
Groo the Wanderer #16
Groo the Wanderer #17
Groo the Wanderer #18
Groo the Wanderer #19
Groo the Wanderer #20
Groo the Wanderer #21
Groo the Wanderer #22
Groo the Wanderer #23
Groo the Wanderer #24
Groo the Wanderer #25
Groo the Wanderer #26
Groo the Wanderer #27
Groo the Wanderer #28
Groo the Wanderer #29
Groo the Wanderer #30
Groo the Wanderer #31
Groo the Wanderer #32
Groo the Wanderer #33
Groo the Wanderer #34
Groo the Wanderer #35
Groo the Wanderer #36
Groo the Wanderer #37
Groo the Wanderer #38
Groo the Wanderer #39
Groo the Wanderer #40
Groo the Wanderer #41
Groo the Wanderer #42
Groo the Wanderer #43
Groo the Wanderer #44
Groo the Wanderer #45
Groo the Wanderer #46
Groo the Wanderer #47
Groo the Wanderer #48
Groo the Wanderer #49
Groo the Wanderer #50
Groo the Wanderer #51
Groo the Wanderer #52
Groo the Wanderer #53
Groo the Wanderer #54
Groo the Wanderer #55
Groo the Wanderer #56
Groo the Wanderer #57
Groo the Wanderer #58
Groo the Wanderer #59
Groo the Wanderer #60
Groo the Wanderer #61
Groo the Wanderer #62
Groo the Wanderer #63
Groo the Wanderer #64
Groo the Wanderer #65
Groo the Wanderer #66
Groo the Wanderer #67
Groo the Wanderer #68
Groo the Wanderer #69
Groo the Wanderer #70
Groo the Wanderer #71
Groo the Wanderer #72
Groo the Wanderer #73
Groo the Wanderer #74
Groo the Wanderer #75
Groo the Wanderer #76
Groo the Wanderer #77
Groo the Wanderer #78
Groo the Wanderer #79
Groo the Wanderer #80
Groo the Wanderer #81
Groo the Wanderer #82
Groo the Wanderer #83
Groo the Wanderer #84
Groo the Wanderer #85
Groo the Wanderer #86
Groo the Wanderer #87
Groo the Wanderer #88
Groo the Wanderer #89
Groo the Wanderer #90
Groo the Wanderer #91
Groo the Wanderer #92
Groo the Wanderer #93
Groo the Wanderer #94
Groo the Wanderer #95
Groo the Wanderer #96
Groo the Wanderer #97
Groo the Wanderer #98
Groo the Wanderer #99
Groo the Wanderer #100
Groo the Wanderer #101
Groo the Wanderer #102
Groo the Wanderer #103
Groo the Wanderer #104
Groo the Wanderer #105
Groo the Wanderer #106
Groo the Wanderer #107
Groo the Wanderer #108
Groo the Wanderer #109
Groo the Wanderer #110
Groo the Wanderer #111
Groo the Wanderer #112
Groo the Wanderer #113
Groo the Wanderer #114
Groo the Wanderer #115
Groo the Wanderer #116
Groo the Wanderer #117
Groo the Wanderer #118
Groo the Wanderer #119
Groo the Wanderer #120

The Death of Groo
The Life of Groo

Image Comics

Groo #1
Groo #2
Groo #3
Groo #4
Groo #5
Groo #6
Groo #7
Groo #8
Groo #9
Groo #10
Groo #11
Groo #12

Dark Horse Comics

Groo: The Most Intelligent Man in the World #1
Groo: The Most Intelligent Man in the World #2
Groo: The Most Intelligent Man in the World #3
Groo: The Most Intelligent Man in the World #4
Groo & Rufferto #1
Groo & Rufferto #2
Groo & Rufferto #3
Groo & Rufferto #4
Groo: Death & Taxes #1
Groo: Death & Taxes #2
Groo: Death & Taxes #3
Groo: Death & Taxes #4
Groo: Mightier Than the Sword #1
Groo: Mightier Than the Sword #2
Groo: Mightier Than the Sword #3
Groo: Mightier Than the Sword #4
Groo 25th Anniversary Special
Groo: Hell on Earth #1
Groo: Hell on Earth #2
Groo: Hell on Earth #3
Groo: Hell on Earth #4
Groo: The Hogs of Horder #1
Groo: The Hogs of Horder #2
Groo: The Hogs of Horder #3
Groo: The Hogs of Horder #4