In Eternal Memory
(31 August 1938 – 29 August 1963)
by Wes Dodson
Fifty years ago today my uncle, Leo Simpson, was employed by Titus Paint Company in Houston. He was 24 years old, recently married, and a resident of Pasadena, Texas. Leo and his co-worker, Dallis S. Nobley, were tasked with painting an air conditioning duct outside the Chamber of Commerce building in downtown Houston. They set about their task on the 22nd floor. By 11:15 AM, they had made their way down to the 10th floor of the building when their hoist suddenly collapsed. Both men fell seven stories to their deaths, landing on the roof of the three-story Woolworth’s building next door. Both men were laid to rest in Pasadena two days later on what would have been Leo’s 25th birthday.
The day before, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have A Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I have often wondered if Leo and Mr. Nobley were listening to that speech on a little transistor radio as they worked. The Beatles had released “She Loves You” the week prior. Could they perhaps have had a fleeting glimpse into what would become Beatlemania before they departed this world?
Sadly, not one solitary member of my family present at the time survives today to answer any questions.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of his death, I have collected some data to help paint a picture of 1963, with a particular emphasis on the last month of Leo Simpson’s life.
In retrospect, 1963 was a fascinating, historic year of triumph and tragedy. Politics, music, innovation, and civil rights each left long standing impacts on modern culture. Fifty years ago, the coins in your pocket were made of 90% silver. Today, the dollar bill isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. A half century later, we have DOJ investigations into rodeo clowns, movies about flying sharks, and a reduced-sodium fast food menu that can’t kill you fast enough. The George Wallace racism of 1963 has now been replaced with an equally disgusting reverse-racism. This cannot possibly be what Dr. King had in mind! In many regards, 1963 was the height (and death) of a golden age of accomplishment, self-reliance, social reform… and dignity.
The average cost of a new house was $12,650
The average income was $5,807
The average cost of a new car was $3,233
A loaf of bread was 22 cents.
A bedroom air conditioner was $149.95
Debuts in 1963:
Audio Cassettes (Philips)
Lava Lamp (or The Astro Lamp) launched by Edward Craven Walker
AT&T introduced touch tone phones
Pull top can used for soda by the Alcoa Company
The first prototype Learjet took flight
First US State Lottery (New Hampshire)
American Express introduced credit cards in the UK
Kodak introduced the Instamatic camera
Mississippi physician, James D. Hardy, performed the first successful lung transplant
Elizabeth Taylor became the first actress to earn $1,000,000 for a single film – ‘Cleopatra’.
SELECTED HIGHLIGHTS FROM 1963
11 – The Beatles released their second UK single, “Please Please Me”, which reached #1.
14 – Alabama Governor, George Wallace, vows “segregation now, segregation forever” in his inaugural speech.
29 – Died: Robert Frost (poet)
17 – Born: Michael Jordan
21 – Medicare submitted to Congress by President Kennedy (passed under President Johnson).
25 – The Beatles released their second US single, “Please Please Me”, with no impact on US Charts.
5 – Died: Patsy Cline (singer)
18 – The Supreme Court ruled in “Gideon v. Wainwright” that a fair trial “cannot be realized if the poor man charged with [the] crime has to face his accusers without a lawyer to assist him”.
18 – Construction of the Astrodome began and was completed six weeks ahead of schedule in 1965.
21 – Alcatraz prison, off San Francisco, CA, closed its doors.
22 – The Beatles released their debut album, “Please Please Me”, in the UK
Harvard Professor, Timothy Leary, lost his teaching post after providing students with LSD.
3 – Died: Pope John XXIII
6 – Born: Johnny Depp
U.S. “Zone Improvement Plan”, or ZIP codes, initiated.
3 – The Beatles performed at The Cavern Club in Liverpool for the 275th and final time.
3 – Born: Metallica front man, James Hetfield
7 – Born: Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, son of President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy, five and a half weeks early. He died 39 hours later.
8 – Kingsmen released “Louie Louie” which radio stations labeled obscene.
9 – Born: Whitney Houston
15 – Eddie Mays, 34, was the last person to be executed in the state of New York in the electric chair at Sing Sing prison.
21 – Martial law was declared in South Vietnam.
23 – The Beatles released “She Loves You” in the UK, where it went to #1 for four weeks.
25 – Paul McCartney was fined £31 and given a 1 year suspended license for speeding.
28 – “I Have A Dream” speech was delivered by Martin Luther King, Jr.
30 – Hot Line communications link between Moscow and Washington DC installed.
Billboard Number One Song:
August 31 – September 20th: “My Boyfriend’s Back” by The Angels
22 – John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th President of the United States, assassinated in Dallas, Texas
22 – “With The Beatles” released.
29 – The Beatles released “I Want To Hold Your Hand” single, charting at #1 in the US Hot 100.
U.S. Congress authorized JFK half-dollar coin.
8 – Frank Sinatra, Jr., was kidnapped in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. Released unhurt three days later.
20 – Studebaker ended production.
While recently reviewing the book When the Evil Came (check it out here), I exchanged emails with the artist of that book, Cody Schibi. I asked him some questions, and he provided some answers. I want to again thank Cody for taking part.
How long have you been doing pencils and inks?
I’ve been drawing pretty much my whole life. If you’re asking specifically about comic book sequentials, then the answer is completely different. When The Evil Came was my very first attempt at penciling/inking comic book pages, so that’s still very, very new to me.
How do you create your art? Strictly paper and pencil, or do you make use of software, tablets, etc?
I’m a pen & ink & paper guy. I do own a Wacom tablet & I use it a lot, but everything I draw starts on paper. I still sketch everything out or mostly the ideas start in my sketchbooks. Once a design is determined I either transfer it to a canvas or detail it up on watercolor paper, depending on what I’m working on. I usually scan everything into my computer just to have a high res copy of all my work and if I’m coloring it digitally, that’s when I pick up my tablet & clean it up/color the bastard.
Your art seems very suited to horror, very detailed, original and sometimes disturbing! Have you done any other comics, and how can we check those out if you have?
Thank you for those kind words! As I mentioned before, this was the first comic I ever completed. I’ve since completed a two-page comic for God Hates Astronauts. It’s an insanely hilarious book written by Ryan Browne and I was super lucky to be included in a complete, hardcover edition featuring some of my personal comic creator friends and other big wigs in the industry. I’m currently working on another comic called BULLMOOSE. It’s written by my twin brother and it’s a really cool, alternate history story with a hint of horror. It’s been super fun, but keeps getting pushed back since I take on other paying gigs. The first issue should definitely be out next year.
Who or what has influenced your style?
My family and friends are my main inspiration/influence. Growing up with them, seeing them work on their own rad projects, be it illustrations, music, food, etc drives me to continue to step it up and always evolve. I of course was consumed by horror films at an early age (still am!)and all those films/images have been stored in my brain and influence what i draw, especially the horror films from the 1980s. I was addicted to magazines like Fangoria, MAD & different comics, so copying things out of those books as a kid also built the style you’re seeing today.
Are there any artists that you’re a fan of and would like to tell us about?
Wow…where to start. I have a massive list of artists that I continue to follow. The Zero Friends crew in California is a group that blows my mind with their talent & creativity: Alex Pardee, Dave Correia, Skinner, Jon Wayshak, Matt Ritchie, etc. Comic artists whose work I’ll always pick up: Geof Darrow, R. Grampa, Frank Quietly, Bernie Wrightson. I’ve always been a fan of Robert Crumb and of course, Moebius is the MASTER, PERIOD. Illustrators in the poster world that rule my eyeballs would be Aaron Horkey, Ken Taylor and Godmachine…they are BEASTS! I can go on & on…SO much great art out there.
Do you have any upcoming projects or appearances you’d like to tell us about?
I have a few upcoming group shows I’m a part of in California and here in Austin. I’ll be doing some live painting at ARTSLAM!’s upcoming shows in San Antonio (definitely check these events out…still my favorite shows to do!). My only convention remaining for the year is Austin Comic Con in November as I’m devoting most of my time for my first solo art exhibit in October called “Something in the Water”. It’ll open Friday, October 4th in Harlingen, TX (my hometown) and it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m planning a lot of interactive, horrific stuff on opening night, so I hope some of you will make the trek down to the arse of Texas to check it out. We can all head to south padre island for some cold beers & jellyfish stings afterwards too!
In the course of working on my review of When the Evil Came/Stinky (which you can check out here), I asked the author, Fabian Rangel, Jr. a few questions via email. I want to again thank Fabian for taking time out of his schedule to answer a few questions.
How long have you been writing comics, and do you do any other writing you’d like to tell us about?
I have been writing comics for three years. I self published my first comic, Extinct, in October 2010. It’s about a small Texas town that gets taken over by werewolves and the group of teenagers who have to save the day. I’ve also written a kid’s book that is complete, just need to send it to publishers and see what happens. I’m currently writing a horror prose novel, hoping to be done with that this year.
I enjoyed “When the Evil Came”, and I also notice that you write more “traditional” comics as well, such as “Doc Unknown”. Do you have a preference for one genre or the other, or just lots of stories to tell?
I definitely prefer horror when I’m writing, mostly because I’m so strongly drawn to the supernatural. I think horror is the most visually arresting genre, monsters are cool! But even Doc Unknown isn’t just a straight up superhero action comic. It has supernatural leanings.
Where did the ideas for When the Evil Came and Stinky come from? Were there events that inspired those tales, stories you heard or things like that?
Stinky was just a play on the whole “raised by wolves” thing. Except the main character is raised by monsters. The story of When The Evil Came is a little closer to home, and that’s all I can really say about that, unfortunately.
Who are some of your favorite writers or artists, and how have they influenced your work?
I think it would be impossible not to list Stephen King as an influence if you’re creating horror these days. But as far as comics my influences are people like Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, the guys behind Hellboy/BPRD. Guillermo del Toro is also a huge influence. The last three novels I’ve read were by Christopher Golden, I really enjoy his stuff.
What comics are you reading right now, or what would you recommend checking out?
Anything with Mike Mignola’s name on it (Hellboy/BPRD/Abe Sapian/Lobster Johnson/Baltimore etc), The Goon, Breath Of Bones, Black Beetle, Saga, Prophet, Manhattan Projects, Five Ghosts, Chin Music, Mouse Guard, TMNT, The Sixth Gun, Six Gun Gorilla, Theremin, Head Lopper. I’m also really digging Becky Cloonan’s self published stuff (The Mire, Wolves, and Demeter).
When the Evil Came/Stinky is a two for one flip comic from Challenger Comics. Both stories are written by Fabian Rangel, Jr. and are a throwback to the classic horror stories that you might find in old Tales from the Crypt comics. Short, disturbing, get in and get out kinda stories, and they’re a joy to read, if you dig those kinda stories (and I do!).
When the Evil Came features artwork by Cody Schibi, and his art is the perfect match for this first tale of horror. Highly detailed in all the right ways, featuring panels that literally jump out and grab you (there’s a creepy caterpillar in that witch doctor’s nose! That little girl has four eyes and nasty boils on her face!). It reminded me of when you’re watching a horror movie and the camera jumps to a full shot of the creepy deformed bad guy zombie or something. It makes you sit up, it gets your attention, and that’s what Schibi’s art does here page after page.
The art is the perfect accompaniment for Rangel’s tale of a haunted family, a woman and her two daughters, who’s husband has just left her. As the haunting gets more and more eerie with each page (spiders, voices, missing cats, deformities, demons, witchcraft), the truth comes out, but the damage has already been done. Twenty years later, Abigail, the oldest of the sisters, feels responsible for the events and seeks counseling as a result. The events of the last few pages leave the reader to ponder if Abigail is a paranoid schizophrenic (as her mother may have been before her), or if she has finally succumbed to the demons she had unwittingly unleashed upon her family all those years ago.
And once you’re finished with When the Evil Came, flip the book over and there’s Stinky, a classic tale of the weird smelly outcast kid at school, written by Rangel with art by Valentin Ramon Menendez. Who didn’t go to school with a kid like that? Who didn’t wonder what was up with him or her? And who doesn’t remember that there were those assholes who picked on that kid. What if that kid didn’t have parents, but was being raised by. . . .something else?
Shawn is known as Stinky to most of the kids of his high school, and every day begins for him like the last, with the bus picking him up in front of his house and the cruelty beginning anew. One day, things change. John and Ricky, two bullies with bad haircuts, decide to give Stinky a bath by swirly, but are punished with detention and decide to get even. So that night, they ride their bikes out to Stinky’s place, and discover the truth about Shawn. There’s a reason no one sees his parents, and there’s a reason he’s so smelly. Turns out he’s not all alone in his house outside of town after all.
Menendez’s art here is awesome. You don’t need the word balloons to know what is going on here. Every panel tells the story, and some of those panels are just crazy good. The swirly panel, of Stinky’s head in the toilet, is shown from the bottom of the toilet, air bubbles escaping from his nose and mouth. The look of terror on the faces of John and Ricky when they sneak into Stinky’s house and discover his secret. An ominous jawbone at the feet of the bullies as they creep through the house. The three panel progression as Ricky realizes his fate and comes to terms with his impending doom. This half of the book is just as terrifying, but in a big-reveal ending kind of way, which I won’t spoil here. It’s a slow, suspenseful build to a solid ending.
So you get two undeniably twisted tales of horror, one a creepy, suspenseful story of a haunting, and one a tale of a weird kid and how two bullies come to discover his secret. I recommend the book very highly, and encourage you to grab yourself a copy here! And check out a Q&A with Fabian Rangel, Jr. here and When the Evil Came artist Cody Schibi here!
Earlier this week, I exchanged a few emails with Matt Gordon and Marty Whitmore, the writer and artist of The Apprentice’s Folly. Matt has been writing for about 5 years, and Marty has been an artist for the better part of twenty years. Both were kind enough to answer a few questions for me. . . .
Matt Gordon Q&A
How long have you been writing, and what other projects have you written besides Apprentices Folly?
I have been writing off-and-on since the end of high school, back in the summer of ’08. I spent most of my high school deeply ingrained in theater, but decided not to pursue it in college. Writing helped fill that creative void. I’ve written several other projects, one of which is currently being drawn by the lovely and talented Jessi Jordan. She’s a supremely awesome up-and-coming artist, and I just happened to befriend her early enough in what I’m sure will be a stalwart career to trick her into thinking collaborating on a comic together was a good idea. I’m hesitant to divulge too much too early, but the first issue will be a twenty-two page, fully colored story you can expect later this summer.
What inspired you to write Apprentices Folly? Any plans to revisit it the characters or setting in the story?
Originally, Apprentice’s Folly was a simple short story I wrote for a friend’s birthday. In that form, the story was more about Jacsun’s entrancement and subsequent entrapment by the Demon’s supernatural beauty than the cautionary tale of adolescent pride you can read today. The change in theme mostly came about out of necessity, since the short story left so much physical description to the reader’s imagination–something that’s inherently hard to capture in a short-form visual medium. For the comic I was instead inspired to make it more about Jacsun than the demon, and wanted to take the common trope of, “Teenagers leaping before he looks.” And place it in a more fantasy setting.
I don’t have any plans at the moment to revisit this world or it’s characters, but I do think the door was left open wide enough that more stories in this setting could definitely be told. I imagine Jacsun’s gristly fate was used fairly often to scare other apprentices away from the idea of practicing magick on their own.
Who are some of your favorite writers, and how have they influenced you?
Oh man. That’s an absolutely huge question, but I’ll attempt to narrow it down. I greatly admire Patrick Rothfuss’ worldbuiding, Neal Stephenson’s attention to detail and commitment to research, Joss Whedon’s characterizations, and Niel Gaiman’s…pithiness seems like too derogatory a term for some reason. His ability to use only the barest minimum of words to communicate the absolute maximum of ideas. I attempt to channel these guys when writing as much as possible, but short of resorting to voodoo dolls and ouija boards I’m not sure if it ever shows through in any of my actual work.
Do you read comics regularly? What are you reading, or what would you recommend?
Okay. Another huge question. I’m a voracious comics reader, especially since its the medium I’m most avidly pursuing professionally. Right now in print I would recommend Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga for its fantastic worldbuilding and design, Brandon Gram and Simon Roy’s Prophet for a truly stunning story, and finally Mark Waid’s Daredevil and Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye. Both of those last two are everything modern cape comics should be. Period.
In the world of webcomics, I can’t give a strong enough recommendation for my friend Victoria Eliott’s Balderdash and Zack Morrison’s Paranatural. Both are absolutely mindbogglingly good, with stylized art bursting from every panel. And if digital comics are your thing, definitely check out D.J. Kirkbride and Adam P. Knave’s Amelia Cole. Or anything from monkeybrain comics, really. They’re killing it over there.
How long did it take to complete Apprentices Folly from concept to physical book?
The first email to Marty about collaborating on a book together was sent September fourteenth of last year. We had our book for sale at Austin Comic-Con that October 26th. Considering all the fantastic artwork he did, it still amazes me we managed to finish so quickly. I vividly remember staying up till dawn two days before the Con, downloading the last finished page before taking it to print the next day.
You can find out more about Matt and his work at his website.
Marty Whitmore Q&A
Who or what has influenced your art and style? I get a video game kinda vibe, but was wondering if you’d like to elaborate a bit.
As far as consuming media goes, I’m pretty omnivorous – comics, webcomics, animation, pinup illustration, video games… I pick up little bits and pieces of everything I like. Kinda like the Borg.
Any artists you’re a huge fan of, comics, design, or otherwise?
I really love Trudy Cooper’s work (Oglaf, Platinum Grit), and Serge Birault is one of my favorite pinup artists. Tatsuya Ishida (Sinfest) is a genius when it comes to line economy, style, and expression.
How do you create your art? Paper and pencil, software, tablet, or a combo of all that stuff?
I do all my pencils and inks practically, in a big drawing pad. Then I scan it, clean it up, and add color digitally in Photoshop. I sometimes use Illustrator for bits and pieces, too – it comes in handy!
How long have you been drawing?
…since I could hold a crayon, really. I’ve been a full-time self-employed illustrator for about six years now, and I’m loving it.
You can check out more of Marty’s work at ideaschema.net.
Thanks guys for your valuable time, and make sure you check out the review of The Apprentice’s Folly!
The Apprentice’s Folly is a work of short comic fiction written by Matt Gordon with art by Marty Whitmore. It is a classic cautionary tale of pride and ambition gone horribly awry.
Jacsun is our protagonist, and is a teenaged apprentice of magick. He is considered at most an average practitioner of the arts by his master and his peers, and it is this alleged mediocrity that leads him down the most dark path that will ultimately seal his fate. To prove his worth (admittedly to everyone else, but also to himself), he decides to summon and master a demon. I mean, who wouldn’t be impressed by such a feat of magick prowess? Instant respect could only follow.
Unfortunately for Jacsun, that’s not how it goes down. He successfully summons a demon, but his adolescent mind is no match for the cunning of the devil. It takes the form of a beautiful woman (did I mention she’s naked? Cause she is. I mean, she’s just been summoned from hell or wherever, where she was eating a heart of some sort. Besides, everyone knows demons don’t wear clothes), and Jacsun is enthrall by its beauty. He fails to contain the demon in time as she continues to seduce him, and in the end he loses his life to the fruits of his ambition.
Gordon spins this yarn with the greatest of ease, and the panels really come to life when combined with Whitmore’s pencils. Like any good story, you’re pulled along, panel by panel to the inevitable conclusion. There’s building suspense as Jacsun prepares to put his magick to the test. After successfully summoning the demon, the reader is right there inside Jacsun’s head as his pride gets the better of him and he entertains thoughts of fame and power when he should be ensuring the demon isn’t free to destroy him, as he is overcome by the demon’s beauty and cunning, and finally in his final moments when his fate becomes clear. As the reader, you experience a host of emotions through Jacsun: fear of the unknown, pride, confusion, and finally the dread and fear of accepting ones fate, all over the course of six pages.
And over the course of those six pages you’ll find Whitmore’s fantastic artwork. Whitmore’s characters are cartoony yet detailed, and easy on the eyes. No line is wasted, and the result is clean, sleek pages of art. His attention to detail in the backgrounds of panels (candles, doors, smoke) adds an additional dimension to the pages. Plus, he also draws a smoking hot naked demon chick that you’ve gotta see to believe. The artwork is black lines with splashes of red (eyes, blood, demon word balloons) and is printed upon a parchment colored stock, which gives the book a remarkable style and feel. The brownish yellow of the page works better with Whitmore’s lines and the colors than simple white pages would have, and goes hand in hand with the fantasy genre here.
All in all, “The Apprentice’s Folly” is a fine work of comic art, totally self produced from concept to completion by Matt Gordon and Marty Whitmore. You should check it out. And for more with the creators, check out some q&a with the creators here.
Thursday I exchanged a few emails with Kim Scoulios, creator of Nancy Nebula and other fine works of art that you can find at her website, theksgallery.com. I asked a few questions and she provided me a few answers. . . .
What inspired you to create “Nancy Nebula”?
When I was a teenager I would look out into the sky and imagine the aliens could hear me and I would ask them to take me away with them. I was more cynical at that time, and I honestly thought the aliens might understand me more than humans. When I became older, I found it was easier to make fun of my dark humored habits – then began sketching the idea.
How did you do the artwork? What tools or software did you use?
The drawings are made with graphite and ink on paper. The layout was arranged in Comic Life.
How long did it take you to complete “Nancy Nebula”?
I thought of the idea 15 years ago. The comic book alone took one year. Nancy was this character that would show up repeatedly in my sketchbook. I have been thinking about alien related stories since childhood.
Do you have any upcoming projects?
My art will be on the next DWLB (Donny Who Loved Bowling) album. I am also working on the next Nancy Nebula comic books and projects.
How long have you been making comics?
I have been designing comic characters since I could hold a pen. Nancy Nebula is my first comic book. Before that, I illustrated a cover and 12 black and white illustrations in the sci-fi novel Doris Daring: Star Captain of the Spaceways with Chris Wichtendahl.
Are there any writers, artists, etc. that you’re especially a fan of and that inspire you?
There are so many…Nell Brinkley, Garth Williams, Edward Gory, H.R. Giger, Joann Sfar, and Alphonse Mucha. All of these artists have displayed such a unique style with intricate line-work.
Thanks for your time Kim! Make sure you check out the review of Nancy Nebula, and look for more Q&A with more comics creators in future posts!
Nancy Nebula is a book about a young woman named Nancy. She finds herself in dead end job, enduring a rather mundane existence handling customer accounts at Digital Fossils, an android manufacturing corporation. Like most of us who have been fed up with what seems to pass for life these days (boring jobs, bad relationships, the grind), she goes home every day and dreams of something more. One night, those dreams come true, and she finds herself working for The Greys, alien beings who seek to breed themselves with humans to save their dying race.
The creation of Kim Scoulios, Nancy Nebula is a great story of desperately wanting something more and of what happens when you actually get it. Nancy is troubled by the questions that have mystified the human race for millennia: why are we here, what does it mean, the big existential questions that we’ve all pondered at some point in our lives. And as Nancy’s story progresses, you get the feeling she’s going to find those answers sooner or later, for better or worse. Nancy makes a great protagonist, guiding the reader through her mundane day to day, her dreams of the stars and of other planes of existence, and finally her experiences with The Greys and their leader, Aza.
Scoulios art is cartoony and delicate, pairs effectively with the story being told, and draws you into Nancy’s world without really trying to. The lines and shades are very easy on the eyes, the focus of individual panels is never in question, and there’s just enough detail to really flesh out the scenes. The dreamscapes, the existential atmospheres and landscapes throughout the book are rendered in great detail, beautifully contrasting shades of black and gray and white that you can get lost in studying. I mean, check out the cover up there and you’ll see what I mean. The panels tell the story and allow it to flow, so much so that you could follow the narrative without needing to read the words (a defining characteristic of good comic craft).
But you should read the words! There’s a helluva story being told here, as Nancy goes from essentially working for one corporation that deals in androids to another that deals in humans to be experimented upon (but she likes this job, and if you’re going to work a job, to totally buy in to the corporate line, it helps if you really enjoy it). The irony is not lost to her, however, and she reconciles here actions by only recruiting humans that she feels deserve to be the subject of alien experiments (starting with her struggling musician ex-boyfriend, who totally deserves to be probed and prodded by alien beings). But it’s her questions that really keep her in the employee of The Greys, and as she spends more time with Aza, she begins to get hints that those answers exist, and if she sticks around, her questions will be answered. The promise of knowledge is a powerful motivator, but it can also cause you to miss things, to be blinded to some realities that should be obvious to you, and Nancy comes to this realization at the end of this first issue. She is left to question her trust in her new employers, and to ponder the decision that brought her to that moment. It’s a great ending for this first issue of Nancy Nebula, leaving you with a few burning questions as every serialized story should.
All in all, Nancy Nebula is highly recommended. It’s obviously a labor of love from Kim Scoulios, entirely self published in that great artistic tradition. Check out her other work and learn a bit more about Kim at her website. There you’ll find her blog, galleries of her work, and make sure you order yourself a copy of Nancy Nebula while you’re there.
The whole concept of my comic book reviews in this space will be changing in the coming months. Instead of reviewing “Big 2″ books (those reviews are a dime a dozen!), I’m gonna focus more on indie books. This includes things my friends Old Man and Bitter Girl bring me back from cons, indie books that I come across on comixology, and other stuff that I just happen to pick up along the way. I’d like to try and introduce you to some new stuff, and hopefully you’ll go check some of it out and help support comic artists that are creating their art on their terms.
So, with that being said, check back every so often for some new reviews. I’m going to try to put myself on somewhat of a regular schedule (I promised OM & BG!), though I’m not sure what that might be yet. Maybe once a month, maybe twice a week, we’ll see. I’ll let you know when I know! I’m also going to include some Q&A with the creators of the books when I can, so that way you can learn a little more about the people that make these works of art and what makes them tick.
But look for the first review of this new era later this week. I can at least guarantee that much! I’ve got quite a stack of books to work through as you can see!
As I sit here and welcome 2013 by watching what is shaping up to be an awesomely exciting football contest between Georgia and Nebraska, I find myself thinking about the good comics I read this past year. Well, I think about the bad ones too, but not as much. I’ve been thinking about what to talk about here since I promised Bitter Girl I would find time to do this over my break, and this being the last real day of that break, procrastination seems to have paid off. So, without further ado, my favorite series this year. . .
Honorable Mention :: Avengers vs. X-Men
I had to at least mention this book, cause it was everything my Marvel fanboy heart could have wanted in a mega Avengers vs. X-Men kinda crossover. I remember that Marvel tackled this same subject matter years back, though in a much less world-shaking manner. And lets face it, you put Bendis in charge, things are gonna get shaken up. This was the groundwork for the Marvel NOW initiative, which has been pretty enjoyable thus far, and given us lots of cool books (and some not so cool, but you’ll have that), and also served to wrap up loose ends that had been dangling around since House of M, which seems like it was 10 years ago. So, it did everything that something like Avengers vs. X-Men should do: lots of fun to read, shakes things up, and plus Scott killed Xavier. Tell me you saw that coming.
If I hadn’t picked up Revival just a few days ago, then AvX would be in this spot. This new book from Image has been very fresh and unlike anything I’ve read this year, and that’s important to me. I like to read stuff that makes me sit up and say “Holy Shit!”, and the first issue of Revival had a few of those moments (such as an old lady pulling her teeth out with a pair of pliers). The idea here is that this is a zombie book, but it has a crazy twist in that they aren’t zombies, they’re just like they used to be, like you remember them, except that they’re probably inherently evil, and you just don’t know it until it’s too late. The book reminds me of a TV show in the way it is written, lots of different stories and characters to keep track of, and they all find ways to interact cuz it’s told in a small town. I’ve enjoyed it because it surprises me, and that’s what I read comics for.
Speaking of surprises, here’s Happy, brought to you by Grant Morrison. A washed up ex-cop who sees a cartoon unicorn hallucination and sets out to save the daughter he never knew he had from sadistic kiddie porn mobsters. What else do I need to say?
Now admittedly, I’ve always been a Batman fanboy at heart. He’s the only character that DC has that I really give two shits about. Year One, Dark Knight Returns, No Man’s Land, there’s all these great stories that you can tell with Batman cuz he’s such a fucked-up character to begin with. I could never really get into what Morrison did with Batman during his run, but the New 52 brought a new creative team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo (it’s so cool to see this guy drawing a monthly book again!). I read issue one, it was cool, but then I laid off for a while. But along comes the Death of the Family story, and here comes the Joker, and it’s great. It’s a Joker heavily influenced by Heath Ledger’s version, but taken to a whole other level, mostly cuz his face is gone and he wears what used to be his face as a mask. So, yeah, he’s that crazy. Plus, he’s out to kill the family, and he’s crazy smart, and the feeling of dread and tension in this book month after month just makes it so much fun to read. Every month, you’re asking yourself “What’s this crazy villain gonna do next?”, and then you read about it, and it blows your mind, cause your mind doesn’t work that way.
Dude. This book is just fantastic. Brian K. Vaughn’s space opera with a dash of Romeo and Juliet and some breathtaking art that Fiona Staples does on her computer consistently blows me away. You could spend days looking at these pages, and weeks trying to decide what might happen next (you should just stop that and just enjoy it. . . ). It’s really unlike nothing you’ve ever seen/read/experienced before, and Staples is a big part of creating this awesome experience every month. I can’t say enough about her art. It’s ridiculous. It’s gonna be a helluva ride, and it’s something I plan to be a part of for the duration.
Damnit, I’m in love with this book. I look forward to it every single month, and in the end, that’s what comics is about. It used to be the trip to the comic shop, on a weekly basis, but there was that one book that you looked forward to more than the others, that made that trip worth it, and this is that book. Except I download it now. Matt Fraction and David Aja tell street level comics stories, with humor and intrigue and suspense. Billed as ”what Hawkeye does when he’s not being an Avenger”, it usually involves getting into some sort of trouble with gangsters that want the apartment building he lives in, or with helping some damsel in distress, but also trying to set up his home theater system, and above all making things right. And Kate Bishop is always along for the ride, usually bailing his ass out of some sort of peril, helping out whether Hawkeye wants her to or not (so far, it’s a good thing she does). But most of all, here’s a hero that is relatable, that is just a normal dude who happens to be an excellent marksman and has an Avengers membership card. He’s got problems like you and I have. It’s the superhero book for people who hate superhero books, and that’s what makes it good my favorite book of 2012.
So, there you have it. My best of 2012. 2013 looks like it’s shaping up to be a pretty exciting year for comics. The two big comic book films of the last year have turned more people onto comics than ever, and the creators have stepped up their game in turn. Here are some things I’m keeping in mind as the calendar rolls over to 2013. . .
- Superior Spider-Man, which is going to be interesting to say the least . . .
- I keep finding more and more Image Comics in my queue month after month . . .
- I need to give Mark Waid’s Daredevil run a solid chance to impress me . . .
- I also need to check out the new Captain Marvel book. Heard lots of good things . . .
- Neil Gaiman is doing Sandman again . . .
- I really want Uncanny Avengers to be good . . .
- Bendis and Chris Bachalo are doing Uncanny X-Men . . .
- Scott Snyder and Jim Lee are doing a Superman book? Go ahead and sign me up . . .
It looks like 2013 is going to be a good year!