Tue 24th Dec | NEW COMICS DAY
10:30am – 5pm
Wed 25th Dec | Christmas Day
Thu 26th Dec | Boxing Day
Fri 27th Dec
10:30am – 7pm
Sat 28th Dec
10:30am – 7pm
Sun 29th Dec
11:30am – 5pm
Mon 30th Dec
10:30am – 7pm
Tue 31st Dec | New Years Eve | NEW COMICS DAY
10:30am – 5pm
Wed 1st Jan | New Years Day
Thu 2nd Jan | As normal
10:30am – 7:30pm
Once again, we were very fortunate to hold a conversation between 2 great comics authors, and this time we are proud to present Julie Morah in Conversation with Nicola Streeten, moderated by the store’s own Chris Thompson.
With the recent English language release of Blue Is the Warmest Colour, and the near simultaneous release of the film adaptation starring Lea Seydoux, topics of discussion include writing “what you know”, the move from biography to fiction, and the notion of control over your art.
It must be almost 2014, because everyone wants to help you spend money. Tom Spurgeon offers his excellent “holiday shopping guide“; Robot 6 wants to help you go straight to the source and buy from artists; TIME magazine’s top 10 comics and graphic novels is a shopping guide in all but title; and the excellently named Locust Moon Comics has a terrific list that’ll take you deeper down the rabbit hole of indy comics. And best of all, Multiversity are doing their usual job of rounding up creators to pick the best of 2013, across a bunch of categories. Find out who the stars’ stars are.
This, though, is the most important list. Comics Alliance name and shame the worst presents for comics readers. Circulate it widely, and lets all spare ourselves the grief. Or you could just make it a Love & Rockets Christmas?
Is it too early to look ahead to 2014? To new Alan Moore comics? To Goran Parlov breaking out as the next big thing (with a Millar assist)? To Box Brown doing an Andre the Giant bio comic? The return of Strangehaven (wait, what?)? The DiCaprio Watterson biopic?
It’s not all good news though. Last week we lost Picturebox, in an interesting contrast with Fantagraphics’ crowdfunding success. Robot 6 bid Picturebox farewell, and The Comics Reporter wrote the definitive obituary, so if you don’t know why it’s sad, you can learn. And then be sad too. And if that doesn’t move you, Six-Gun Gorilla has ended. Sad face.
Do you ever wonder what happens when superheroes overdo the Christmas pudding?
And finally, even DC is getting festive, this is a kind of funny blog post from them! About Superman! Yay!
By Ian Edginton (w), Francesco Trifogli (a)
Taylor says: Magic and fairy tale creatures are massive turn-offs for me. However, verdant post-apocalyptic futures featuring overgrown cities? Humans surviving through a mix of solar panels, lo-fi, and bow and arrow level tech? I’m there. Because of these mixed feelings, I’ve been on the fence with Hinterkind, but this was the issue that made me go back and pick up #1 & #2. I’m on board now.
Edginton is packing a lot into this story, with themes involving prejudice, fear, humanity’s legacy, and strategic versus long-term thinking. More than that, there’s a cast of compelling characters, from the elf bounty hunter who cut off his pointy ear-tips to “pass” as human, and is now reviled by his kind; through Prosper, the brave but naïve human girl who is our primary guide; to her friend Angus, who is both gay and growing a tail which no one must find out about. Throw in the remains of NORAD, a Buffy-style secret militia that keeps hinterkind in glass cells, and the Sidhe, a supreme mythical tribe who are trying to keep peace despite internal rivalries, and it’s a rewardingly rich tapestry.
Thankfully, Trifogli’s art is both bright and animated, so despite Edginton’s layers and intrigues this always feels like an adventure book. Prosper’s “acting” in particular is good, the character designs are distinct, and while Trifogli’s art lacks the flair of a Fiona Staples, I think his storytelling is actually better. A denser aesthetic could have sunk this book under its own weight, so this writer/artist pairing is near perfect.
All in all, it’s heartening to see Vertigo putting out good comics again! Especially ones that don’t depend on big-name creators or decades old properties.
Burn The Orphanage #2: Demons
By Daniel Freedman & Sina Grace (w), Sina Grace (a)
Chris says: Not everyone is going to ‘get’ Burn The Orphanage – and of those who get it, not everyone is going to enjoy it – but for those who do it’s a real treat that doesn’t come out nearly often enough. I could read monthly adventures starring Rock, Bear & Lex, but they probably wouldn’t pack the same punch these over-sized irregular issues provide. Freedman & Grace deftly mash-up video game and film references to create something that’s part Mortal Kombat and part Bloodsport, with liberal splashings of American Ninja and maybe even a little Argento & Bava thrown in for good measure. In short it’s a love letter to certain aspects of pop-culture that forms its own unique brand of fun. Grace’s art continues to improve every time I see it, and he manages to achieve a subtlety that lends itself to multiple kinds of storytelling. I can only hope when this three-issue mini is complete that they decide to tell further stories featuring our hapless heroes – I’m keen to see where they take them and what other references they can pack in along the way. As I said, it’s not for everyone, but I’d say it’s well worth the risk to find out if it’s for you. Keep an eye out for the awesome Tradd Moore variant cover of this issue!
Letter 44 #2
By Charles Soule (w), Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque (a)
Liz says: The setup is this: A new President enters the White House only to discover that the world is on the verge of an alien invasion. Deep in space a covert team of astronauts have been dispatched to investigate the unidentified spacecraft hovering within ‘astronomical spitting distance’ of earth- and they’re harboring a secret of their own.
My impression of Letter 44 is that it’s sort of The X-Files meets The West Wing. Writer Charles Soule has created a likeable protagonist in new President Blades, who gets a load of information dumped on him in tandem with the reader and grapples to do the best he can with it. We’re also given a stirring reason to care about the astronauts. The aliens themselves loom large but for the moment remain shrouded in mystery. There are many different directions the book could take at this point, and thanks to intelligent writing and a strong premise, I’m sufficiently interested to find out.
Avengers Annual #1
By Kathryn Immonen (w), David Lafuente (a)
Ryan says: Annuals are great. They give creative teams a chance to either enrich a title with a cool one-shot story, or give us something fresh with the same cast of characters. This issue certainly does the latter, and after the events of Infinity, a little touch of light-hearted humour sounds like just what the doctor ordered. Lafuente’s art (which strikes me as a mix between Luthor Strode’s Tradd Moore and Invincible’s Ryan Ottley) does a great job of accenting the comedic tones of Immonen’s words. I’d actually like to see what it would be like if the main series itself went in this direction! Obviously it’s not tied into the main Avengers story arc, but this has been a hugely fun change of pace, and might be the first book of the month that welcomes us to this year’s holiday season.
Black is the color
By Julia Gfrörer
Camila says: For me, one of the things that always gives a book or movie extra brownie points is when it lingers. Taking in consideration how much I read every week, if a particular story keeps coming back to my mind, I take it there must be something pretty special about it. Julia Gfrörer’s tale of mermaids, lost hope and yearning sure did. Preview it here.
Hooo boy! It’s a big one. Let’s lead off with the elephant in the room. Holiday season, and the gifts people will want. Have you tried anything by Youth In Decline, because their 2014 subscriptions look hot? Copra #12, the last issue of the first volume, is almost here, so maybe catch someone up on this year’s most exciting book? Crowd-source presents can be great, maybe pay tribute to the Spider King? The New York Times has Christmas recommendations for comics lovers and their puzzled gift-givers, or you could get all avant garde and be guided by the Angouleme selections, or the Fnac longlist, to give your gifting that continental BD flavour. Playing it safer, you could track down any of these 100 greatest comics storylines ever. The Holidays are about giving, though, so maybe you could extend some needed charity to Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai. Its also about people… Christmas zine social, anyone?
Maybe you’re super-organised and have your gifts all wrapped up? Treat yourself with a few peeks into the future, courtesy of Paul Gravett’s February picks, Alison Sampson’s Think of a City project (you should totally track Sampson down online and follow her, she has great taste) which is ongoing and doubtless will only get richer, the badass Tradd Moore Ghost Rider coming in 2014, Douglas Wolk and Ulises Farinas’ Judge Dredd: Mega City Two, or the enchanting and great-looking Monsters. Next year is shaping up nicely, we may even get an Offset Comics release!
If your idea of Holidays is learning, then you’re probably in the minority, but don’t let that put you off! Instead, learn speed-comicking, or familiarise yourself with Thrillbent’s storytelling grammar, get to know just who this Rube Goldberg dude was, and experience Curt Swan’s X-rated Superman comic. You’ll likely learn a thing or two about the artistic collaboration of colourist and penciller from Matteo Scalera, while you may not be aware that there are, in fact, two Silver Surfers. Oh, and Captain Kirk will teach you how to fight. Of course, Leon Beyond will teach you more than all of these people put together, but how much of that teaching can you trust? Finally, Marvel can teach you how to market with lies.
Couple of milestones this past week. The Phoenix hit 100 (and we stock it now)! Aaand Infinity ended. Was it great? Plus, if you missed out on Letter 44 #1, you can read it here. You may prefer a beautiful trip to the long-awaited Firelight Isle, or to just binge on art and more art (check the Punisher’s tee). Maybe you’d prefer something shorter? Whatever, you should totally trust your Gut Feelings, and trust your judgment around Bad Houses.
Is this you? Because it doesn’t have to be.
Since it’s inception 3 years ago, the crew of the Orbital Comics podcast, The Orbiting Pod, have wrapped up each year with a look back at the major events, books & creators who have made an impact in the world of comics. Last year, they each chose their own favourites from a number of different categories relating to the world of comics, from production, to final product. This year, they want your help.
We are pleased to announced the first ever Orbiting Pod Satellite Awards (or Satellites, for short). We’ve narrowed it down to 12 categories from best writer to best comics thing! You can fill in the survey right over here, or in the next few days, fill in a form in store!
But wait, there’s more! For taking the time to contribute, one lucky responder will win a copy of the lovely David Mazzuchelli Daredevil Artist’s Edition.
Published by IDW, Artist’s Editions are scans of the original comics pages by the artists, reproduced at original size, with everything intact (coffee stains, white out etc). This Daredevil Artist’s edition collects the complete Born Again storyline from issues #277-#233 of the comic by Frank Miller & David Mazzuchelli.
So, dig through your long boxes, make your picks, vote, and you could be in with a chance of winning this very cool prize! Closing date is 21st December, so the sooner, the better!
Black Science #1
By Rick Remender (w), Matteo Scalera and Dean White (a)
Ryan says: Like most comic readers, there’s a handful of books that I know I’m going to grab when I see them on the shelves, and something about Black Science just called out to me. I’ve read and enjoyed Remender’s Captain America work, and I really dig Scalera’s very quirky and dynamic art style, but I wasn’t sure what to expect with this title. Truth be told, I really enjoyed it! I can’t say it’s a fresh concept, in fact it kind of reminds me of Dark Horse’s BPRD series (which I happen to love), but the principle cast of characters are brilliantly flawed, there’s a healthy supply of action and peril, and the writing is creative and engaging. And if the idea of being chased by a cluster of irritable frog-men doesn’t catch your attention, perhaps the next issue will, as it looks like we’ll be visiting many different worlds as the series continues. I’d recommend picking up the first issue before it’s gone, it’s definitely worth a peek.
The Black Feather Falls: Book One
By Ellen Lindner
Soaring Penguin Press
Camila says: I had been looking forward to the first issue of Ellen Lindner’s four-part murder mystery for some time now, and it’s great to finally see it on the shelves. Set in 1920s London, The Black Feather Falls is a detective novel as told by our protagonist Tina Swift, a young woman newly arrived from the States, who just can’t turn a blind eye to a murder the police is trying to ignore. Check out a little taster here.
Best of Comix Book: When Marvel Comics Went Underground
Kitchen Sink / Dark Horse
Karl says: This is an interesting artyfact. In the early 70s Kitchen Sink head honcho Denis Kitchen hooked up with Mr. Marvel Stan ‘The Man’ Lee to produce a genuine underground comic which would come out under the Mighty Marvel banner. In the end, Comix Book did not actually surface as a Marvel – this fact, along with many other nuggets about this unlikely team-up is revealed in the extensive introductions.
The roster for this short-lived anthology reads like a who’s who of the underground at the time – S.Clay Wilson, Trina Robbins, Kim Dietch and Harvey Pekar all show up. Despite the large print run (200 thousand), original copies are hard to find, so it’s a real treat to see some of these strips for the first time and there are plenty of pieces that weren’t used in the original comics. Very nice production values here too, the aforementioned introductions are on glossy pages with many photos, hi-res scans of pencilled pages and lots of letters chronicling the negotiations between Dennis and Stan as they brought forth what even Stan refers to as a compromise. The re-prints of the strips themselves are on nice matte, almost newsprint-type paper which works a lot better than if they had stuck with the glossy paper.
I realise this publication has been dismissed by purists of the underground scene as a cash-in by ‘The Man’. However, I think it represents an interesting and important point where the independent underground met mainstream publishing. A couple of highlights would be the first publication of Art Spiegelman’s Maus, a good five or six years before RAW, and Denis’ wrangling with Stan over copyright and owenership of artwork for the creators – a first at Marvel.
This week, we laugh it up with Harley Quinn #0, blast our way out with Raygun Roads, and make the rocking world go round with Sex Criminals #3. We also have a report from this year’s Thought Bubble festival from Robin, who brings us interviews with Benjamin Read & Christian Wildgoose (Porcelain, Briar), Martin Kirby (Freelancers), Matthew Gibbs & Bevis Musson (Knight & Dragon) and Warwick J Cadwell & Robert M Ball (Dangeritis)