Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Conversation About Spiders

Continuing to make my way through the stack of recent convention finds. I ran into Aya Rothwell the second day of the Boston Comic Con. She was there with Boston Comics Roundtable. I picked up her latest minicomic.

Title: A Conversation About Spiders
Date: 2012
Publisher: Aya Rothwell
Writer: Aya Rothwell
Artist: Aya Rothwell

As a fan of biodiversity in all of its many (and many-legged!) forms, I can very much relate to the poor nature geek in this minicomic. He tries so hard to describe the wonders of the arachnid world to his arachnophobic friend, but she gets more and more disturbed by each new fact. This is an amusing and informative minicomic (quarter-sized), and it contains a bonus page of spider-sketches.

Rating: 7.5/10

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Kristilyn's Burlesque Sketchbook Volume 1

Title: Kristilyn's Burlesque Sketchbook
Issue: Volume 1
Date: 2012
Publisher: Kristilyn
Writer: Kristilyn Stevenson
Artist: Kristilyn Stevenson

Twenty-page minicomic sketchbook based on Boston-area meetings of Dr. Sketchy's Anti Art school. Dr. Sketchy is a recurring event where artists get together to sketch burlesque models.The sketches have are a nice juxtaposition of the burlesque style with Kristilyn's endearing and cute sketching technique.

Good artwork and a nice bit of local flavor as it features Boston-area performers.

Rating: 7/10

Red String Volume 1

Here is another of my Anime Boston purchases.

Title: Red String
Issue: Volume 1
Date: December, 2006
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Gina Biggs
Artist: Gina Biggs
Editor: Mike Carriglitto

Red String is Gina Biggs' shojo webcomic that explores the theme of destiny in love. Set in Japan, the story centers on high school student Miharu Ogawa, who is suddenly informed by her parents that they have arranged a marriage for her.

Her first instinct is to rebel against the decision, but things get more complicated when a chance meeting with the boy she is to be engaged to leads to a real attraction.

As Miharu questions the nature of destiny and her own ability to choose her path in life, her new romance is complicated by a boyfriend-stealing cousin, school rivals, and even the arrival of a second arranged fiance.

The plot is complex but never to the point of being confusing, and the book features a really strong supporting cast with their own subplots going on. Biggs' art is lovely, and this American-made shojo contains a believable rendition of life in Japan and plenty of good details in between the story's more dramatic turns.

Rating: 8/10

Friday, April 20, 2012

Trees And Hills Anthology #10: Woods

Another comic I picked up at the Spring Zine Thing last Sunday in Somerville. I am currently going through a bunch of comics from recent shows (Spring Zine Thing, South Attleboro Collectibles Show, and Anime Boston). More show finds ahead too, and I'll be at four more shows in the coming weeks (Boston Comic Con, South Coast Comic And Toy Show, Rochester NH Free Comic Book Day Festival, and Maine Comic Arts Festival).

Title: Trees And Hills Anthology #10: Woods
Date: 2012
Publisher: Trees And Hills
Writer: Colin Tedford, Marlene O'Connor, Rio Aubrey Taylor, Bill Tulp, Sarah Margaret Frye, Elizabeth Neronski, Colleen Frakes, Matt Levin, Liam Gyori, Madsahara, Carl Mefferd, Glynnis Fawkes, Jay Goldspinner, Marek Bennett, Mike Lynch, Daniel Barlow, Randall Drew, Anne Thalheimer
Artist: Colin Tedford, Marlene O'Connor, Rio Aubrey Taylor, Bill Tulp, Sarah Margaret Frye, Elizabeth Neronski, Colleen Frakes, Matt Levin, Liam Gyori, Madsahara, Carl Mefferd, Glynnis Fawkes, Jay Goldspinner, Marek Bennett, Mike Lynch, Daniel Barlow, Randall Drew, Anne Thalheimer
Editor: Colin Tedford, Daniel Barlow
Cover: Colin Tedford

Hefty 68-page digest-sized minicomic that features seventeen stories around the theme of "woods".

This is a nice mix of autobiographical and environmentalist stories, almost all of them set in Trees & Hills' home territory of western New England. Everything here is good. Some standouts include Marlene O'Connor's story of about a young man's escape into the woods from an abusive home and his meeting with the Native American spirit Nukumi, Bill Tulp's history of the Green Man, and Marek Bennett's account of a hike gone wrong and told in an incredible linear series of tiny drawings.

Nice variety of art styles and lots of good stories and images.

Rating: 8/10

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Southpaw Volume 3

I picked this one up at the Spring Zine Thing this past Sunday in Somerville MA. This was one of several zines and comics I traded for at that event.

Title: Southpaw
Issue: Volume 3
Date: September 2011
Publisher: Kristilyn
Writer: Kristilyn Stevenson
Artist: Kristilyn Stevenson

Minicomic format sketchbook with short comics. Included in this volume is Bed Mermaid, which Kristilyn also released as a standalone minicomic.

The sketches give some nice insight into Kristilyn's art style, but the feature I really dug was a three page "personal history of zines" that detailed Kristilyn's involvement with zines from the beginning.

There is also a cute cat comic strip (of course!). And the zone ends with a handy annotated fashion sketch.

Rating: 7.5/10

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Walking Dead: The Covers

Slight change of plans. Today was going to be another item from one of the recent cons, but someone bought this book from me and so I figured I'd read it and review it before I ship it off.

By the way, if you read and appreciate my comic reviews and are wondering if there was a way to support the effort, I would point you in the direction of my own comic book small press, my books for sale on, my assorted geeky ebay auctions, or my books for trade on

Title: The Walking Dead: The Covers
Date: 2010
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard
Artist: Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard
Colorist: Tony Moore, Cliff Rathburn
Cover: Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn
Editor: Sina Grace

This hardcover edition collects the cover illustrations from the first fifty issues of The Walking Dead. Each cover gets a full-page treatment (just the art without the cover lettering), and on the facing page are notes from Robert Kirkman and from the artist along with sketches and alternate versions.

The artwork is great, and the book's format does an excellent job of showcasing it. The notes sometimes tend toward the technical side of the artwork, with some decent insights for artists into the processes involved. Tony Moore writes a lot more than Charlie Adlard does, but I thought there were some good anecdotes from both artists.

Rating: 8/10

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sandman #5

Title: Sandman
Issue: 5
Date: November 1975
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Michael Fleisher
Artist: Jack Kirby, Mike Royer
Editor: Joe Orlando

An old fisherman and his grandson are out on the ocean when a sea monster attacks. The Sandman, looking on from his Dream Dome (No,really! In case you didn't notice the date, this is not Neil Gaiman's Sandman; this is the original!), arrives in time to save apprentice fisherman Jed, but not his grandfather.

Cue the arrival of the evil family members. Jed's aunt and uncle could use some help around the farm, and Jed's bully cousins are in need of a new victim. Jed is soon living a life much like Harry Potter before the Hogwarts invitation, but when he falls asleep on the wood-chopping job, he finds himself in Sandman's dreamscape, fighting alongside his hero to defend an island of cute winged folk against an army of invading... Well, they kinda resembled bully wigs from D&D.

Jed even gets to use his fishing knowledge to help save the day.

Nothing in this story is particularly subtle, least of all Jack Kirby's artwork, but it still manages to be entertaining, with a reasonable logical flow, fun scenes at the right moments, and a sprinkle of surrealism from the King.

Rating: 7/10

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chaotic Kiss Book Three

Another Anime Boston purchase.

Title: Chaotic Kiss
Issue: Book Three
Date: 2011
Publisher: MKT Productions
Writer: Michelle Pinard
Artist: Michelle Pinard

This holiday-themed volume of Michelle Pinard's transgendered geeky romance starts out with a departure from the Boston-based nerdy fun of the previous issues. Syd is heading home for Thanksgiving to face a family who has never come to terms with her gender identity. This is a really emotional scene, and definitely the most intense and dramatic so far in this series.

When they get back to Boston, Syd and Mariko find themselves in the midst of the holiday season, complete with a cute series of tributes to favorite holiday tropes. Meanwhile, Yujiko's beginning relationship with Noah continues to grow and Lander is trying to work up to courage to confess his feelings for Syd.

There is the maid cafe, and video game action, of course, and some fun local flavor. I enjoyed seeing a glimpse of First Night Boston.

There is a lot of silliness in this volume, but my favorite moments were among the more serious: The confrontation between Syd and her father, and a really tender scene involving Yujiko and Noah.

Rating: 7.5/10

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Drifting Doom

This is the first of several reviews of books I purchased at Anime Boston 2012. I had a great time representing Dandelion Studios in artists alley, but I've been in full con-recovery mode for the last few days, which is why reviews have gone neglected. Without further ado, on to the Anime Boston finds!

Title: Drifting Doom
Date: 2010
Publisher: Emily Wing
Writer: Emily Wing
Artist: Emily Wing

Eight-page wordless minicomic.

A whale calf is on a collision course with a deadly hazard. This is a simple vignette, told elegantly and poignantly with only Emily Wing's pen-and-ink illustrations to convey the emotion of the scene.

Minimalist and beautiful.

Rating: 8/10

Saturday, April 7, 2012

New 52 Recap #4

Here is my latest recap of DC Comics' New 52 line. I'm covering the issue #3's today. My previous recaps are here and here.

Here is the list of New 52 titles I stuck with through four issues, in order of their issue #4 ratings:

Swamp Thing #4 (8.5)
Batgirl #4 (8)
Action Comics #4 (7.5)
Birds of Prey #4 (7.5)
DC Universe Presents (Deadman) #4 (7.5)
Batwoman #4 (7)
Wonder Woman #4 (7)
Superman #4 (6.5)
Animal Man #4 (6)
Batman #4 (6)
Detective Comics #4 (6)
Static Shock #4 (6)
Aquaman #4 (5.5)
Justice League #4 (5.5)
Justice League Dark #4 (5)
Batman And Robin #4 (4.5)
Batman: The Dark Knight #4 (4.5)

And here are the titles in order of their running average:

Batwoman (7.38)
Swamp Thing (7.38)
Wonder Woman (7.38)
Action Comics (7.25)
Batman (7.00)
Static Shock (7.00)
Aquaman (6.63)
Animal Man (6.50)
Birds of Prey (6.50)
Superman (6.25)
Batgirl (6.00)
DC Universe Presents (Deadman) (6.00)
Justice League (6.00)
Detective Comics (5.88)
Batman: The Dark Knight (5.38)
Justice League Dark (5.00)
Batman And Robin (4.13)

Biggest Rating Increase From Issue 1: Batgirl (+3.0)
Biggest Rating Decrease From Issue 1: Justice League: Dark (-2.5), Aquaman (-2.5)

Here is the list of titles that I have purchased a Fifth issue of:

Action Comics
Animal Man
Batman and Robin
Batman: The Dark Knight
Birds of Prey
DC Universe Presents (Deadman)
Detective Comics
Justice League Dark
Static Shock
Swamp Thing
Wonder Woman

Titles Dropped After Issue #4:

Suicide Squad


I'm still quite a bit behind the current releases of these books as far as my reading goes, so a lot of my decisions to keep or drop titles have been put off. I'm thinking of making a big cut around issue #6, and will probably be down to eight or fewer regular titles at that point.

Nightwing is not a definite drop. There was a lot I liked about the title, so I may pick it up as back issues, especially if a sale comes up (Boston Comic Con, maybe?).

Some more playing with statistics:

Average Rating Across Titles I Reviewed By Issue Number:

Issue #1: 6.250
Issue #2: 6.075
Issue #3: 5.921
Issue #4: 6.382

So issue #3's were the weakest and the #4's scored the best. Of course, the lack of Catwoman and Suicide Squad helped the #4's.

Avengers Vs. X-men #1

Title: Avengers Vs. X-Men
Date: June, 2012
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Jason Aaron, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman, Matt Fraction
Penciler: John Romita Jr.
Inker: Scott Hanna
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover: Jim Cheung, Justin Ponsor
Editor: Nick Lowe, John Denning, Lauren Sankovitch, Tom Brevoort

So, this is the "I'm With The X-Men!" variant, not particularly because I'm with the X-Men, but because the "I'm With The Avengers!" variant was sold out at my local comic shop.

It too how many writers to come up with this nonsense?

The Phoenix force is headed for Earth, and Hope has already started manifesting some Phoenix SFX.

So of course the thing to do is for Captain American to show up on X-Island (or whatever they're calling it) and demand that Hope be put into protective custody. Which would leave the X-Men hopeless. Sorry. I'll stop now.

Anyway, while Cap is being an idiot, Cyclops has turned full-on villain, to the point that Magneto and Emma Frost are even impressed.

Talking soon turns to fighting, Scott blasts Cap, and Cap orders the SHIELD Helicarrier to lower the cloaking device and arm the photon torpedoes. Oh, and to assemble the Avengers while they're at it.

None of which is actually going to help with that whole Phoenix-force-heading-for-Earth thing. But that's okay. There are five writers working on this. One of them must be handling that.

With the X-Men? With the Avengers? I think I'm going to be standing with those who demand that their comics actually make sense.

Rating: 4/10

Oh, and before I go, since when is Namor an X-Man? Never mind. Don't answer that.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Wonder Woman #5

Title: Wonder Woman
Issue: 5
Date: March 2012
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Tony Akins
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Chris Conroy, Matt Idelson
Cover: Cliff Chiang

Introduces Lennox, a new demigod character who shares a bit too many of John Constantine's mannerisms. Hopefully he will develop in his own directions as the story progresses.

The major point of action here is the arrival in London of Poseidon, presented in an absolutely awesome interpretation that absolutely steals the show.

That being said, Diana's dialogue with Zola continues to be great, and the mythological references keep coming from around every corner.

Tony Akins takes over the art here, and delivers quite well, although in a more traditional visual style than we were getting with Cliff Chiang. As mentioned, his Poseidon was so awesome that didn't mind the change, at least at this point.

Rating: 7.5/10