Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #729

From the random stack of unread comics.

Title: Walt Disney's Comics and Stories
Issue: #729
Date: March, 2016
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Bruno Sarda, Carl Barks, Daan Jippes, Frank Jonker
Artist: Franco Valussi, Daan Jippes, Freddy Milton
Colorist: Nea Aktina A. E., Digikore Studios, Nicole Seitler, Travis Seitler, Sanoma
Letterer: Nicole Seitler, Travis Seitler
Editor:Sarah Gaydos
Cover: Massimo Asaro, Mario Perrotta

Three stories here, all reprints from foreign Disney publications, with original publication dates ranging from 1990 to 2011.

Up first is the main story of the book, part of an ongoing series that has various Disney characters searching from a set of precious zodiac-related pendants. This is the ninth of the series, and the featured pendant is for the sign of Cancer.

Mickey Mouse has just about secured the pendant, but has been enlisted to help the brother of the pendant's owner, who is being stalked by an old nemesis from his days as a spy: a master of disguise known as the Chameleon. With help from Minnie, several suspects are identified, but as it turns out, there is more than one reason why a guest at the beach resort might want to disguise themself,

This was a bit predictable, but still reasonably entertaining.

The second story is a one-page gag strip featuring Gyro Gearloose having some confusion between a couple of machines he is servicing. Not much to this one.

Gyro also figures into the third story, which was just plain goofy (well, Donald, actually) fun. Donald arrived too late to ask Daisy out on a date; she's off to have a picnic lunch with Gladstone. But Donald is ready to disrupt the space/time continuum for the sake of having his date with Daisy, and Gyro's person-switching teleporter is just the thing he needs! Too bad Gladstone catches on quickly. This was a fun slapstick bit of teleporting mayhem.

Two pretty entertaining stories, and one that was okay for a quick laugh and only took up one page.

Rating: 6.5/10

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Bullet For My Valentine: Scream Aim Fire: The Comics

This comes to me by way of Record Store Day, 2008. Normally a day to pick up some free music samples and buy special limited edition records on vinyl or CD, it can also feature a variety of promotional items and freebies, including zines and comics. The actual venue I visited from Record Store Day was one of the Newbury Comics locations.

Title: Bullet For My Valentine: Scream Aim Fire: The Comics
Publisher: Bullet For My Valentine
Date: April, 2008
Writer: Bullet For My Valentine, Tom Manning
Artist: Tom Manning

This is a promotional comic for the band Bullet For My Valentine, as part of 2008's Record Store Day.

The two stories are based on lyrics from the songs "Scream Aim Fire" and "Take It Out On Me" respectively. Of the two, "Take It Out On Me" had more story going on, with a scene from an incident of domestic violence (including some potentially disturbing images). "Scream Aim Fire" is more of a set of images rather than a story.

I wasn't familiar with the band so I looked up both songs on Youtube. I'm not a music expert, and I'm not into splitting hairs and getting into distinguishing musical
subgenres. I'd just describe their music as uptempo hard rock. Pretty catchy, actually. I may be giving more of their stuff a listen.

As for the comic, the art fits very nicely with the music and lyrics, and the book did its job of getting me interested enough to give the band a listen.

Rating: 7/10

Monday, October 24, 2016

Tales From Swafford Creek Vol. 1 #1

I attended the Cosplay Festival here in Ho Chi Minh City today, and can gladly report that geekery is alive and well in Vietnam. The vendors were largely the same as at the Manga Festival, which I attended in July, so I didn't end up buying anything this time around. I am still slowly making my way through my first Vietnamese-language manga, and I have a small stack of those waiting, so I didn't feel I should add to that stack.

The Kiddo and I did do some cosplay at this convention. We had a blast showing off our Minecraft outfits:

With no new comic purchase at the con, I turn to another minicomic from the unread comics pile. As with the previous one, the Columbus OH connection of the creator leads me to suspect that I got this at one of the SPACE (Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo) conventions that I attended in Columbus.

Title: Tales From Swafford Creek
Issue: Vol. 1, No. 1
Date: 2008
Publisher: Swafford Creek Studios
Writer: Brent Bowman
Artist: Brent Bowman

This half-sized minicomic is a collection of true (or at least, inspired-by-a-true-story) tales from the Sequatchie Valley in western Tennessee, where the artist's family is from.

The stories alternate between crime stories and love stories, with a final tale that has a bit more of a mythical feel to it.

The storytelling voice of the narration is great, and the tales all have a very authentic feel to them. The b/w artwork is nicely detailed with a flavor that matches the narration.

This was an enjoyable collection of stories that are straightforward, but pack a solid emotional punch.

Rating: 8/10

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sunday Comix Jams

Here's another book from the random stack of unread comics. This is from a Columbus OH based small press, so I am guessing I got it at one of the SPACE conventions.

Title: Sunday Comix Jams
Date: 2007
Publisher: Sequentially Speaking
Writer: Mike Lucas, Matt Wyatt, Max Ink, Michael Neno, Ray Tomczak, Ellen Wyatt, John Miller, Sheldon Gleisser, Mustafa Yasir, Jennifer Oestreicher, Frank Cvetkovik, Victor Dandridge, Kevin Rapp, Mike Carroll, Steve Galgas, Buster, Mike Haris, Kevin Scott, Jocelyn Hach, Dan Leister, Leigh Cimons, B.A. Richardson, Phonzie
Artist: Mike Lucas, Matt Wyatt, Max Ink, Michael Neno, Ray Tomczak, Ellen Wyatt, John Miller, Sheldon Gleisser, Mustafa Yasir, Jennifer Oestreicher, Frank Cvetkovik, Victor Dandridge, Kevin Rapp, Mike Carroll, Steve Galgas, Buster, Mike Haris, Kevin Scott, Jocelyn Hach, Dan Leister, Leigh Cimons, B.A. Richardson, Phonzie
Editor: Mike Lucas, Max Ink
Cover: Ray Tomczak

This half-sized 32-page b/w minicomic collects jam comics from the Sequentially Speaking group's Sunday Comix meetings. For those not familiar with the jam concept, basically someone draws a first panel and then the page gets passed around the group for people to continue the story by drawing the next panel. I've even participated in a couple of jams, and it's loads of fun.

It also tends to result in somewhat incoherent books. That's definitely the case for much of this, but once you understand that this is almost entirely improvised, coherence begins to matter a bit less.

There are some decent laughs amid the general absurdities brought about by the format, and some fun geeky references too. There were nice nods to Felix the Cat, EC Comics, and the "super-gorilla" stories of silver-age DC, along with a fair amount of Sequentially Speaking in-jokes.

Surreal and a bit uneven, as might be expected, but entertaining nonetheless.

Rating: 5.5/10

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Uncle Scrooge Halloween Ashcan 2007

From the random stack of unread comics.

Title: Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge (Uncle Scrooge Halloween Ashcan 2007)
Date: 2007
Publisher: Gemstone Publishing
Writer:Carl Barks
Artist: Carl Barks
Colorist: Colleen Winkler, Susan Daigle-Leach
Editor: Leonard (John) Clark, Sue Kolberg

Technically the title of this is simply Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge, with nothing to distinguish it from any other book featuring that character. I'm calling it "Uncle Scrooge Halloween Ashcan 2007" for clarification. This is a full-color ashcan-format Halloween-themed freebie that reprints a pair of classic Carl Barks Disney comics.

First up is "Hound of the Whiskervilles", a parody of the classic Sherlock Holmes mystery featuring Scrooge, Donald Duck, and the three nephew ducks. Scrooge is trying to get accepted in high society, so he travels to Scotland, hoping a bit of genealogy is just the trick to establish his upper-class bloodline for the aristocratic types back home. With Donald and crew in tow, he encounters the legendary hound that haunted the moors in the days of his ancestors.

There are a couple of fun plot twists in this story, and it was generally pretty entertaining.

The second story features Gyro Gearloose, who decides create his own new life form from the basic chemicals of life after being inspired by a showing of the film "Krankenstein". He creates an egg and speculates on what might hatch from it after placing it in the care of an eager chicken.

This story war more of an extended gag strip, with a lot of setup for a single punchline at the end, which was okay, but not especially satisfying. I did like Gyro's imagined creatures, though.

Rating: 6.5/10

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Deathstroke #3

We just got back from an amazing three days in Singapore. Among the awesomeness of Gardens by the Bay, hawker centers in Chinatown and Little India, the Night Safari, and the Botanic Gardens, one of the places I happened upon was the massive Kinokuniya bookstore on Orchard Road. I stopped in to buy some Singaporean literature, but they also had a small selection of American comics (plus a very extensive collection of graphic novels and manga; definitely paying them another visit if I get back to Singapore any time soon!). Since they had some of the DC Rebirth titles that I didn't have a chance to pick up over the summer, I went ahead and picked out one, somewhat at random.

Title: Deathstroke
Issue: #3
Date: November, 2016
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Christopher Priest
Penciler: Joe Bennett
Inker: Belardino Braho, Mark Morales
Colorist: Jeromy Cox
Letterer: Willie Schubert
Editor: Alex Antone, Brittany Holzherr
Cover: Romulo Fajardo Jr., ACO

The basic story here is that someone has put a hit out on Rose, and Slade Deathstroke is make sure that problem gets fixed.

This took a bit to get going, and silly plot devices involving Rose's precognitive (incorrectly described as "clairvoyant") abilities made the action sequence toward the middle of the book unnecessarily confusing.

Slade talks to his daughter with the attitude that baby-boomers are often accused of taking toward millenials, and the whole relationship comes off as a bit awkward (at least partially intentionally).

The ending contrived its way into a road trip to Gotham City, which could be interesting. But this issue was almost entirely setup, and it was shaky setup at best.

Rating: 4/10

Saturday, October 8, 2016

A Taste of Insanity

Not a comic. For the hair-splitters, I'd call this a chapbook, I guess, since it's a promotional excerpt from a novel. Anyway, I got it at some convention somewhere, and it made it's way into the unread comics stack.

Title: A Taste of Insanity
Date: 2003
Publisher: KT Pinto
Writer: KT Pinto
Cover: Chris Moreno

This is the opening segment of KT Pinto's vampire novel, Celeste (the first of the Books of Insanity novel series from Mundania Press), in zine form. Nice cover image, and all prose on the inside.

The action here covers Celeste's childhood as the illegitimate daughter of Julius Caesar, and the intrigue that immediately followed Caesar's assassination. The cover carries a warning for adult content, and there is some sexual material, but nothing that would be out of place in, say, Game of Thrones or the equivalent.

Period details aren't a strength here, but I didn't really find that to be a problem, as the characters held my interest and the story was quite entertaining.

Pinto gives her narrator a very conversational voice that's easy to relate to. The writing is engaging right from the start, and there is some good court intrigue and plenty of plot development in these initial pages. Definitely an effective tease for the full novel.

Rating: 8/10

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Amazing Cynicalman #20

From the random pile of unread comics. Probably acquired at the SPACE convention in Columbus OH.

Title: The Amazing Cynicalman
Issue: #20
Date: February, 2008
Publisher: Not Available Comics
Writer: Matt Feazell
Artist: Matt Feazell

I loved the inside cover artwork on this minicomic, depicting the World Headquarters of Not Available Comics in Hamtramck MI.

For those not familiar, Matt Feazell does stick-figure minicomics, usually quarter-sized (as this issue is) featuring a whole cast of characters including Cynicalman, Cute Girl, and in this issue, Robot Lincoln.

Robot Lincoln attempts to boost his reputation by taking up modern art. Cynicalman deals with a home warranty phone scammer. President Bush hand-delivers an economic stimulus package. And my favorite bit in this issue: a want-ad for a cartoon character.

Some of the jokes were a bit obvious, but this is part of the fun with Cynicalman. The artwork is entertaining, with a very wide range of actions and characters, despite the limitations of working with stick figures.

This was good for a few laughs.

Rating: 6/10