FLUKE 2015: A Review in Words and Pictures

Where does the time go? I thought we were going to do a FLUKE 2015 review podcast, but we never did. When FLUKE 2016 rolled around I was going to do an article reviewing the books we got, but I never finished it. So here it is, 2017 and FLUKE is around the corner. I am finally going to finish my review of FLUKE 2015! Better late than never?

Here is a list of the awesome things I picked up!

Heart Attack and Hulk Retired! and Strabismus by Jordan Fitch Mooney
Three Monsters, Defanged by J. Chris Campbell, Isaac Cates, and Mike Wenthe
F&$#wizards by Eleanor Davis
Dead Sexy by David Mack
Watercolor painting by Michele Chidester
Big Caramel by Jason Horn – Adam found Jason Horn’s first mini at Bizarro Wuxtry. We have been in there numerous times but for whatever reason neglected to pick it up. But we did this time and it was a fun read! Also, we picked up Aw Yeah! Comics #9 which has a Ninjasaur story in it.
“Be Quiet” fox print by Erin Gladstone
Atomic Elbow #13 with cover Sean Wars and back cover by The Hand of Beaver – Speaking of Atomic Elbow, I am a contributor on issue #11! You should pick it up and listen to me express my love of Dolph Ziggler.
How To Ignore People By Pretending To Read A Book by Lee Gatlin
FLUKE Souvenir Comic featuring Joey Weiser, Max Clotfelter, Rich Tommaso, Scott Stripling, Lee Gatlin, Patrick Dean, Sammy Herring, Michele Chidester, Justin Colussy Estes, and Judson Culver
Ghost Rider by various contributors
One-Eyed Dragon by Maggie Venable
Also we picked up a few things from Josh Nickerson who was our table buddy.

We bought some solid books and art this year. This was also the year I wore a shiny blue dress for some reason! I hate that it has taken me so long to post about the awesome stuff we bought! 2015 was a bit of a rough year for me health-wise. I’m so glad that I am better now than I was then. Adam and I are looking forward to FLUKE 2017. It will be April 29 and is held at the 40 Watt Club this year. Hope to see you there!

Special thank you to Heather Peagler she borrowed my camera and took pictures for me all day.

Episode 359: Halloween Special 2016 Lost Footage

Screen Shot 2016-11-02 at 11.21.00 PM.png

Last week on the Dollar Bin podcast, the feed was interrupted by a mysterious 1962 radio drama. This caused out listeners to miss out on a portion of our Halloween book recommendations.  We have gathered the missing footage and return you to your regularly scheduled program.

Runtime 32 minutes 40 seconds

Episode 359: Halloween Special 2016

Welcome to another episode of the Dollar Bin.  This week, to rev up for Halloween and Comicsfest, Adam, Shawn, and special guest Josh, discuss some of their favorite horror, scary, spooky comics that they are reading.  Did someone say Comicsfest?  We will be at Richard's Comics and Collectables helping out, along with many guest artists, including Dollar Bin participants, J Chris Campbell, Duane Ballenger, Wes, Brooks, and Joey Weiser.

Books discussed in this episode include:  Swamp Thing, Nail Biter, Harrow County, Sixth Gun, Baltimore, Joe Golem, Fatale, Dagon, She Wolf, October Faction, Broken Moon, Wytches, Ghosts, Manifest Destiny, Cemetery Blues, Trees, and Clean Room

Runtime 1 hour 2 minutes 24 seconds

Dollar Bin Reviews: GUY GARDNER WARRIOR No. 29

As Reviewed by John Astin

Publisher: DC Comics March 1995
Writer: Beau Smith
Pencils: Phil Jimenez
Inks: John Stokes, Dan Davis

What is this: This issue takes place more than a year after the Green Lantern Corps collectively is killed and/or disbanded again (as is the cyclical nature of the franchise). At one point, Guy Gardner used to be one of Sector 2814’s many space cops (Earth is an interstellar trailer park, y’know) but after DC whacked the Green Lanterns by a rouge Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner was too popular to throw away but not enough to keep around. As a result, Guy is booted from the Corps, has his replacement gold ring removed from his days as an independent ring-slinger and, now, his human DNA by revealing him to be a member of the alien Vuldarin race who shape-shift their hands into melee weapons and have tattoos designed by finger-painting toddlers. DC editorial did manage to keep Guy Gardner's love-to-hate jackass demeanor, though.

So what happens: Guy Gardner is opening Warrior’s, his Planet Hollywood-esque restaurant and bar, with a smorgasbord of DC’s intellectual properties in attendance. And like most parties where more than five meta-human meatheads who are being served alcohol, all hell breaks loose. There’s a bar fight, penis jokes and running gags galore.

What’d you think: It’s a fun issue. Phil Jimenez, who would later jump to Wonder Woman, is spot-on in this issue. Like most guys from School of Detail (the George Perez wing, in Jimenez’s case), the coloring technology and printing capabilities hurt the art. There is a ton of detailed work and variety of characters popping up to include appearances by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis. Series writer Beau Smith did a decent job capturing the chaotic energy of a large event frequently jumping scenes but connecting them all with running gags such as the longer Tiger-Man's insistence people "pet his fur." The only beef is that I didn’t know the significance of Guy Gardner being Vuldarin, which is a big deal since Darkseid himself is spying on Warrior’s grand opening via Apokolips.

Comic book movies rule, will I like this: Probably not. If you’re a fan of the Green Lantern cartoons or film, this is very far removed from it and a bit heavy in at-the-time DC continuity with its myriad of inside jokes.

Is this online: There are a few issues of Guy Gardner: Warrior available on Comixology, but not this particular issue. Weird. This is an online or brick-and-mortar store purchase, but it’s likely to be in a quarter bin at a show.

On a side note: This issue has a special cover allowing you to open the doors to Warrior’s to see the chaos inside.

Episode 358: SPX 2016 Reviews

Episode 358:  SPX 2016 Reviews

Adam and Shawn survived another Small Press Expo (not that it was a challenge) and it was a great experience.  In this episode of the Dollar Bin (we call it a review show, but it's not like a "this was good/this was bad review, it's more of a "going over things" type review) they discuss the books they picked up.

For a list of all of the books we review, click the episode to read more.

Runtime 1 hour 39 minutes 35 seconds

Episode 358:  SPX 2016 Reviews

Read More

Dollar Bin Reviews: Longshot Number 1

As Reviewed by John Aston
Publisher: Marvel Comics Sept. 1985
Writer: Ann Nocenti
Pencils: Art Adams
Inks: Bill Anderson, Whilce Portacio

What is this: Longshot No. 1 debuts one of Marvel’s "third-generation" of new mutants with equally vague powers similar to the probability-shifting Scarlett Witch: he changes luck. Longshot, a 6-issue mini-series published ten years out from Giant-Size X-Men and two years after the New Mutants debuted expand the mutant menace known as the X-Men continuity.

So what happens: Longshot, primarily known as the three-fingered hero from the Mojoverse, appears in New York City on the run from enemies unknown and with a severe case of amnesia as he embarks of a fairy-tale like quest searching for a kidnapped infant taking the company of a paranoid survivalist, a mysterious anamorphic dog-like being only the main character encounters and a the missing child's single-mother. Their trek leads them to a clan of demons in their stronghold outside the city.

What’d you think: I’m actually not a fan of Longshot or the whole Mojo thing; having a reality-show themed murder world was extremely ahead of its time in the mid-80s, which is when I first began reading X-Men at the ripe old age of 9-years-old. The biting commentary regarding television network practices was lost on me at the time and nowadays been-there, heard that.

Ann Nocenti, whose comic career revived in DC’s New 52 reboot and authored an extremely underrated and overlooked Daredevil run in the 80s, seemingly cuts the book’s tether to reality. New York didn’t feel grounded in reality and as the issue progresses causing a loss of bearings as to where I am. Longshot has an intentional vagueness of a fable with general settings: city, the woods, demon world. You know you are in New York City but it doesn't feel that way.

Arthur Adams' art is a work-in-progress. He’s not the artist known for slick and beautifully rendered line work he produces today, but the pages drawn in 1985 do show a man evolving from traditional comic figures to an Americanized anime. The hyper detail is there, and at the time, rivaled George Perez. It should be noted the coloring process and technology 30 years ago was stone age quality and takes away from the visuals.

Comic book movies rule, will I like this: Longshot doesn’t seem to be involved in the X-Men films, yet. He’s not really a prominent X-Man either hitting his stride in X-Men writer and creative godfather Chris Claremont’s run during the late 80s and early, early 90s. Longshot sporadically makes appearances here and there but, really, his time was up by the time the X-Men cartoon first aired on Fox. Fans who only partake of comic-related TV and film may want to skip over this one.

Is this online: This particular Longshot mini-series (there are others) at the time of this writing is not available via legal digital download. However the mini-series was collected in a 2008 hardcover and later in 2013 in softcover. The single issues and collections are available at online comic stores and many brick-and-mortar shops.

On a side note: When I look at the 1985 Longshot art, I can see where Rob Liefeld could have been influenced visually. Also, Art Adams will be at the 2015 HeroesCon in Charlotte, N.C.

Episode 342: SPX 2014 Reviews Part 2

Continuing their annual SPX pick-up book review, Shawn and Adam talk about many more of the fantastic books they each picked up at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda Maryland.

Reviewed creators include:

Kate Lacour - sharkbrains.com
Jensine Eckwell - jensineeckwall.com
Lily Padula - lilypadula.com
Melissa Mendes - mmmendes.com
Katie Omberg - fancy-graphics.blogspot.com
Melanie Gillman - melaniegillman.com
Michael DeForge - kingtrash.com
Jaime Willems - jaimewillems.com
Roger Langridge - hotelfred.com
Claire Connelly - claireconnellycomics.com
Farel Dalrymple - fareldalrymple.com
Ian Sampson - ianesampson.com
Noah Van Sciver - noahvansciver.tumblr.com
Sean Ford - onlyskincomics.com
Corinne Mucha - maidenhousefly.com
Holli Mintzer - tesseractcomics.tumblr.com
Kali Ciesemier - kalidraws.tumblr.com
Sarah Dill - distillum.com
Kelly Phillips - kellyphillips.net
David Plankert - davidplunkert.com
Monica Gallagher - eatyourlipstick.com

Runtime:  45 minutes 49 seconds

Episode 342: SPX 2014 Reviews Part 1

Once again the Dollar Bin traversed the states between to join the small press goodness congregation in Bethesda, MD at SPX (Small Press Expo 2014).  While there, not only did they hang out with some great folks which will be covered later, they also, bought a lot of great books and such, half of which will be covered, here, in part one of the SPX 2014 reviews show.

Reviewed Creators Include:

Joshua Cotter - jwcotter.tumblr.com
J Chris Campbell - jchriscampbell.com
Robert Ullman - rkullman.blogspot.com
Jason Horn - ninjasaur.com
Sam Bosma - sbosma.tumblr.com
Sam Alden - samaldencomics.tumblr.com
Box Brown - boxbrown.com
Benjamin Marra - www.benjaminmarra.com
C Frakes - tragicrelief.blogspot.com
Laura Terry - lauraterry.com
JP Coovert - www.jpcoovert.com
Leah Riley - www.etsy.com/shop/futuregirl
David Mack - www.flagpole.com/comics/a-round-town
Drew Weing - www.drewweing.com
Sara L Turner - tinyghoststories.com
Alexis Ziritt - www.aziritt.com
Jared Cullum - www.jaredlovestodraw.com
Greg Kletsel - gregkletsel.com
Jason Shiga - www.shigabooks.com
Tugboat Press - www.tugboatpress.com

Runtime 52:46

Comic Reviews: A Grab Bag of Stuff


Betty Blues

    Renaud Dilles serves up this auburn-hued, smoky-shaded story of a hot-headed, jazz playing duck named Little Rice Duck.  And while his trumpet playing may be hot his dedication to playing has left his (literal) chick Betty ice cold.  Betty wants more from life than a jazz club trumpeter can give her and when you add in Duck’s inattention she is primed to leave with a fat cat who promises her the good life of champagne every day she leaves him.  Giving up the life of music Little Duck becomes a wanderer to find himself again.  Dilles has written a wonderful tale of self-realization but the stand out here is the artwork.  Each panel is draped in gold and dim orange hues that lend a heaviness to the story.  If you are looking for something a little different I recommend you give this a shot.

I Think I Am in Friend-Love With You

    Go back in your mind and try to think of that special someone in your life.  I’m not talking about your current wife or girlfriend of boyfriend or whoever (but it can be).  I mean that one person you touched you in that special way.  That one person who, even though you knew you could never have, still gave your life meaning.  That one person who you just enjoyed sitting and talking with, sharing corny jokes with, and looked forward to getting calls from.  We all have that someone and this book by Yumi Sakugawa is dedicated to them and she uses odd, alien creatures of a non-specific gender and race so all readers can identify with them.
    The only word for this book is "cute".  If you happen to find a picture online of a baby kitten and rabbit cuddled up asleep on a fuzzy blanket in a meadow of yellow dandelions that MIGHT be cuter than this book but I doubt it.  If you are lucky enough to still have that person in your life you just want to be with and not “be with” buy this and share with them.


Madison Square Tragedy

    Rick Geary has found his niche and he works it like no one else.  What Ken Burns does for PBS documentaries Rick does for historical comics.  Rick has a talent for picking juicy, salacious tales of murder and mystery from history and presenting them in a documentary format that I love. 
    Older men love being around young, beautiful women.  That was true today and it was true 100 years ago.  Stanford White is one of New York City’s most famous architects and he loves his women young and beautiful and there is no girl more beautiful than Evelyn Nesbit.  She is a young aspiring actress and the first true supermodel.  Her face was a muse to men, capturing both a youthful innocence and a pouty sexiness that could not be ignored and Stanford White had to have her, and if that meant getting her drunk and drugging her in his private apartment (home of the now famous red velvet swing) then so be it.
    Unfortunately for Stanford White, Evelyn soon married a man named Harry K Thaw who was both insane and rich.  Harry Thaw for some unknown reason saw Stanford White and the very embodiment of everything that was wrong in the world and had for a long time.  And when he found out that his one evening that his wife had been taken advantage of by that very man something completely snapped in Harry and when the opportunity presented itself he shot Stanford in the face multiple times in public, in front of dozens of witnesses and was found not guilty.  If you love history as well as comics track down anything by Rick Geary but start with Madison Square Tragedy.


Little Fish

    People change.  The person you were is not who you are and who you are is not who you are going to be.  When you leave high school for college you get the chance, if you wish, to reinvent yourself.  Who can be whoever you want.  If you were the social outcast in high school nobody at college needs to know that you weren’t the homecoming queen and voted most popular.  The dark side of this freedom is that you will inevitably leave behind not only the life you had but those who were a part of it.  Sure, you promise to keep in touch and initially you do.  But as you begin to grow in one direction your friends grow in others and the calls become less frequent and more superficial.  
    Little Fish by Ramsey Beyer does a very good job of being written at a level for high school kids and hopefully preparing them for the upheaval that is about to come.  The problem I have is with the gimmick she uses.  You see, Ramsey likes to make lists.  She makes lists of everything, favorite rock bands, things that scare her, whatever happens to cross her mind and the book is constantly interrupted by these lists.  I counted them up and 42% of this graphic novel are pages of these lists.  I’m not sure what the official text page percentage is when a graphic novel turns into a regular book but it’s got to be around 42%.
    If this had been used less and less as the book went on to show Ramsey becoming more confident and needing the security and structure that these lists gave her than I would have applauded her creativity.  What story is there is well-told, but I am going to spend $16.00 I don’t want to just read lists.

Comic Reveiws: Anomaly


I can just imagine what it must have been like to pick up a copy of The Fantastic Four #1 off the stands or The Watchmen or The Dark Knight Returns.  To sit there and read them and just know that the game has changed.  That from that moment on the art form of comics had just taken a giant leap forward and could never go back.  That is the feeling I had reading Anomaly, the original graphic novel written by Skip Brittenham and Brian Haberlin with art by Brian Haberlin and Geirrod Van Dyke.


If Avatar and The Lord of the Rings had a love child it would be named Anomaly.  The year is 2717.  Having stripped the Earth of it’s resources a handful of power companies under the banner of The Conglomerate have banded together to exploit distant planets.  The Conglomerate controls a powerful army lead by Enforcers and the best of them is Jon, at least he was the best until an accident on a planet leaves many of his men dead.  Years later he is given the opportunity to redeem himself by accompanying a group determined to try to peacefully contact another planet.  A betrayal by the Conglomerate leaves this group of humans stranded on a planet controlled by dangerous mutants and it is up to Jon to figure out how to gather the free “people” of the planet together to battle the mutants.

If the story seems a little bit basic and “been there read that” it is.  The idea of the outsider coming in and leading the natives has been in used in so many books and movies by now (the latest being Avatar) that it is almost a cliché and that’s not a bad thing.  If the formula works why change it?  The story is there only to serve as the hooks to hang all of this beautiful artwork on and after 7 or 8 pages I stopped actually reading the story and just experienced it.  It was like watching a big screen epic play out in front of me and I just had to hang on for the ride.


When you buy the book you get a free UAR (Ultimate Augmented Reality) app to download.  Just point it at certain pages and the creatures pop off the pages and perform some basic animation.  Since we are on an alien world the UAR segments didn’t feel out of place but instead kind of functioned as a moving encyclopedic guide to the strange creatures on the planet.  Click on THIS LINK for a demo to get a taste of what I’m talking about.  If you don’t have the ability to use the app don’t worry as this will not affect your enjoyment one bit.

While the book might set you back $75.00 every bit of this 12 x 16.5”, 6 pound, 370 page book is worth the price you pay.  And even though it is the longest original graphic novel ever published when it ends it STILL feels like it ended too soon.  This is easily the best graphic novel of the year hands down, period, end of sentence.  If you love comics you owe it to yourself to make sure this is at the top of your Christmas list.  

Episode 321: Top Graphic Novels of 2013

Episode 321: Top Graphic Novels of 2013

Join Adam, Shawn and Tee as they discuss their top graphic novels of this year! Sparked by The Washington Post article about the Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2013, the gang agrees with a few of the choices but is surprised by some of the titles that were omitted. Their favorites include The Fifth Beatle, Hip Hop Family Tree, Battling Boy, and March. Jump in and join the fun. And, if you don’t get it, you don’t get it.

Runtime 58 minutes 54 seconds

Read More

Episode 315: SPX 2013 Reviews

Episode 315: SPX 2013 Reviews

Oh boy, did we buy a lot of books! Oh boy, did we read a lot of books! Oh boy, did we review a lot of books! Oh boy! Here is a hopefully comprehensive list of creators we discussed from our pickups at SPX. Included are links so you can check them out and find out how awesome they are!

Runtime 1 hour 3 minutes 12 seconds

Episode 315:  SPX 2013 Reviews


Read More

Review: Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer Vol 1 TP

Review: Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer Vol 1 TP

Leave your preconceptions at the door. All of them. This isn’t a gimmicky re-imagining of the Pinocchio story like those mash-up novels, nor is it like the “happily ever after” Disney animated feature. Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer is a well-told continuation of the original Carlo Collodi tale. Van Jensen and Dusty Higgins make this clear right away. Don’t skip over the forward or the summary of the original, it is essential to the basic framework of the story about to unfold.

Read More

Comic Reviews: The Case of Charles Dexter Ward & Gettysburg: The Graphic History

Comic Reviews: The Case of Charles Dexter Ward & Gettysburg: The Graphic History

The parents of Charles Dexter Ward are very worried.  You see, the Wards have tried very hard to hide that they are the descendents of an evil New England necromancer from hundreds of years ago, and Charles has found out about the family’s little secret.  And what’s more, his appearance bears more than a passing resemblance to that ancestor Joseph Curwen, now since long dead and feels a connection urging him forward to learn more of how his ancestor achieved his power over the dead.  

Read More

Comic Reviews: Hair Shirt & Black Paths

Hair Shirt

There is a saying that “no one gets out of life alive”.  I have long believed that there is a corollary to that saying and that would be “no one grows up without getting messed up.”   We all come out of our teenage years with emotional baggage that needs to be dealt with in our early twenties before we are ready to pass on to adult hood.  Hair Shirt is a new graphic novel by Eisner Award-winning artist Patrick McEown that follows the course of two young college students as they try to reconnect and rekindle a childhood romance.

John is a college art student coming to grips with a bad break up who is plagued by terrible dreams (mostly involving a dog with a human face) that are a manifestation of his long-ignored personal problems.  Naomi, on the other hand, at first seems to have shed the emotional baggage thrust on her by an abusive, alcoholic father and a brother who can only be described as sexually abusive but as the story progresses both we and her come realize that even though she has seemly pushed through her experiences the past will not let go of her that easily and are causing her to almost subconsciously sabotage relationships to protect her from further hurt.

Reading this book my mind kept thinking that if this were a movie instead of a graphic novel the only words to describe it would be “indy” and “bleak”.  There is no happiness in these characters’ lives, there is no joy, there is no light; there is only the business of living hopeless lives.  Despite the darkness, McEown gives us and the characters a faint, silvery ray of hope off in the distance in that both characters realize that they need to confront their past before they can move forward.

Can John and Naomi face their past and come back together, or at least move forward with their lives?  The book never says but I don’t think that is what McEown is striving for.  Life rarely has nice, neat, happy endings and like this book sometimes all we can do is recognize we need help and that can be victory enough for us for now.

Over a year ago our webmaster Adam’s love of indy comics inspired me to take my own journey on seldom-travelled roads and this book makes me glad I did.  Books like Hair Shirt are the reason I read comics now.

Black Paths

Time for a quick history lesson.  During WWI Italy signed the Treaty of London which promised to give them the Austrian Littoral (which now forms parts of Italy, Croatia, and Slovenia) but NOT the city of Fiume.  Italian writer Gabriele D’Annunzio marched into the city with 2600 Italian troops in late 1919 and in 1920 he declared the city of Fiume an independent state with himself as the dictator.  This independent state lasted for four very uncertain years until D’Annunzio was ousted from power and the city was annexed into Italy and it is during this period of history that writer/artist David B sets his latest work Black Paths.

The set up for the story is very simple: writer/soldier Lauriano and his band of soldiers are hanging out in ravaged port city of Fiume and one day he meets and falls in love with a beautiful singer named Mina.  Sensing that he has finally found what he is looking for in life he decides to “get the band back together” and stage an art heist that will set him up for the new life he hopes to have with her.  But how can he succeed when everywhere he turns there are people driven mad by war?  I can’t really say whether he succeeds or not without spoiling it for you but let’s just say that there are some books where the ride to the end is so good who cares what the ending is?

French small press artist David B has taken story elements from World War 2-set spy thrillers such as Casablanca, The Third Man, and mixed it with a kind of pulp-art/primitive wood carving style that gives the story a setting and sense of time all its own and the two mesh wonderfully.  The only problem I have with this book is I am going to now have the find the money to purchase the English translations of his other works.

Book Review: Superman Is Jewish?

Tell me if this story sounds familiar: in order to save their child’s life desperate parents put their infant son into a small craft and him adrift.  That child is then found and raised by a loving couple as their own and this child will one day grow up to be a protector of people.  Did I just give a brief summary of the story of Moses or Superman?  Harry Brod’s new book “Superman is Jewish?” poses such questions in an attempt to answer the question of not only if Superman is Jewish but what makes a character Jewish.  How about if I throw in that his creators were both Jewish?  How about if Kal-El is very similar to the Hebrew words for “voice of God”?  How about if you look at the character as the wish fulfillment of displaced European, Jewish boys in the 1930’s and 40’s?  Clark Kent is a first-generation outsider who appears as a weak and book-worm like figure who in all reality sheds this image to become a fountain of power.  NOW is Superman Jewish?  Or is he not Jewish because it’s never specifically stated in the comics?

Mr Brod’s book starts focused like a laser and then slowly diffuses outwards becoming more and more broad as you continue to read.  After discussing Superman specifically he moves on to such characters as The Thing (what is The Thing if not a retelling of the Jewish story of the Golem a creature of mud to protects his people), and Spider-man (a character who is driven by a guilt because his inaction caused the death of his Uncle Ben, who lives in Forest Hills a mainly Jewish area of NYC in the 1960’s, and is a glasses-wearing, nerd-like social outsider who was created by Jewish Stan Lee with possible input by a Jewish Jack Kirby).  He then takes a tour of a few of the most prominent Jewish creator’s works such as Will Eisner and Art Spiegelman, and finally finishes up discussing Jewish comics in general.

Let’s be honest here, books such as these are in essence very long, (hopefully) well-researched, thesis papers so in my mind there has to be a compelling reason to read a book like this.  So, is the book worth reading?  I believe it is.  I suppose the casual reader might be happy just reading their comics and taking them at face value.  But for a group of people who claim to be passionate about an art form as most comics readers proclaim to be, to not want to dig deeper and find a possible hidden influence on some of comics’ most popular characters strikes me as wrong.

I enjoyed this book.  It was never dry but instead came across as almost conversational in tone which always makes it easier to read a book of this type.  The author does an excellent job of exposing the bedrock upon which comics has been founded and this book is worth reading just for the chapter on Art Spiegelman’s Maus alone.  The analysis in that chapter and the details in story structure, panel layout, and background details will give any reader of that seminal work a reason to go back and reread.  I can recommend this book to any reader who wants to gain a deeper understanding of this art form we all claim to love so much.

Comic Review: Once Upon a Time Machine

I love a good anthology but the problem is publishers rarely do them these days.  The idea of bringing together a variety of writers and artists to contribute variations on a central theme guided by the singular vision of a central editor means that there will always be something for everyone and if you don’t like one story don’t worry; another story by a different writer/artist combination will be coming up shortly.  The newest 400+ page anthology by Dark Horse is that rare book where you won’t be skipping over certain stories as each one of the over 25 different tales is a wonderful little reading experience all on its own.  I firmly believe that this collection of stories will help to solidify Dark Horse Comic’s reputation as one of the most important producers of comics literature today.

The original intent of fairy tales was to impart values or lessons upon young children in a way that is entertaining for them by using characters the young listeners can relate to.  Why else are the main characters all so young in the stories?  What is the story of Pinocchio if not a way to remind young boys of the importance of being good wrapped in an entertaining package?  That version might have been fine 200 years ago but what child now has ever seen a wooden toy much less played with one?  What if, instead of a wooden boy, Pinocchio were a computer program learning how to interact with He wants to be a real little boy.humans and what would he need to learn to be a good son to his “father”?  Now THAT is a version of Pinocchio that children today can read and enjoy.  These are the types of questions editor Andrew Carl and producer Chris Stevens have charged this gathering of over 90+ writers and artists to answer.

 Some of these stories are just plain silly while others will leave you pondering what it means to be human.  Some will cause you to put down the book and think about how hard it can be to go forward another day for someone else despite your own pain or how your story might not be about you at all.  The majority of the stories are just too short and I wanted more, but that’s a good problem to have.  When you leave the reader wanting more that means you’ve done something right.

Unfortunately I do have two major problems with the book.  First off a lot of the entries are singleCome on, just TELL me you don’t want to know more about this story. page splashes that are incredibly cool but that’s all we get.  How can you tease me with something as awesome as a Humpty Dumpty pin up by Ryan Ottley and leave me hanging?  I can only hope that if there is a volume two these pin ups serve as a spring board for the next round of tales.  

My second problem with this collection is that there is no back story.  And by that I mean:  How were the writers and artists chosen?  How were the assignments handed out?  What was the genesis of the project?  If you do an anthology like this I think the back story, the in between, and the thoughts of the editors is every bit as vital as the stories themselves and without it this volume only feels mostly completed.

Should you buy this then?  Well it is $25.00 but for that price you get over 400 pages of story none of which wear out their welcome and in my opinion comics needs a break from the endless parade of meaningless mega crossovers that happen every other year and need to get back to doing what they can do better than any other medium: give adult and children both a wonderful reading experience.  And if the promotional video found here doesn’t make you want to read it nothing I say can change your mind



Ranting Out A Review: Bedlam

The Price:

I don’t normally buy the floppies anymore but decided to give this debut issue a look. The $3.50 cover price might give you a moment of pause, but that price is a steal considering that you get 48 pages of story and Marvel and DC routinely charge $3.99 for 20 something pages. Not to mention that all 48 pages are story with zero ads!


The Format:

I don’t consider myself any sort of expert in paper quality, but this seemed like better quality than your standard DC or Marvel release as well. But after consulting with myself, I seem to be of the opinion that most of the Image books I read could also make that claim. The exterior and interior pages are of the slick finish variety with the cover being just a bit thicker than the pages. Bonus points for no ink smudges on the book or my fingers when I was finished reading.

Read More

Ranting Out A Review: Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe

The Price:

As usual I used store credit at my local comic shop (and former employer) to purchase this book so the cover price of $14.99 wasn’t a big issue for me. However, considering that the cover price on the original issues was $2.99, this collection of a 4 issue mini-series is actually more expensive than the single issues. So much for waiting for the trade to save a few bucks…


The Format:

This is just the standard Marvel series trade release. There are no frills and only a few pages of covers, layouts and scripts to pass for special features. And did I mention that it is actually more expensive than the single issues?

Read More