comicbookGRRRL Do not offend the chair leg of truth; it is wise and terrible.

2Jul/153

Airboy: Comics, Transphobia, and Deafening Silence

Of late, I've kept my comics coverage pretty positive. Because comics are pretty darn awesome. But sometimes comics do in fact break your heart. And sometimes you have to take a stand and say, "this is not okay".

The second issue of Airboy by James Robinson and Greg Hinkle hit the shelves yesterday. I really enjoyed the first issue - I have a weakness for stories about writers struggling to write, and the author-insert technique was interesting - so naturally I read the second issue. Here's where I messed up: I didn't see anything wrong with this very transmisogynistic comic, despite it using slurs that I abhor.

Thankfully, I was pointed in the right direction. Hopefully I can help point others towards that direction as well.

[Warning: contains quotes and images of transphobic slurs]

Airboy

2Jul/150

Vector: Sequentials #2 – The Beauty of Webcomics

Originally published in issue 278 of the British Science Fiction Association's critical journal, Vector, earlier this year, my second column offers a crash course in science fiction webcomics.

Featuring FreakAngels, Gunnerkrigg Court, Ava's DemonThunderpaw: In the Ashes of Fire Mountain, Destructor, Titan, Terra, Dicebox, and I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space, hit the jump for the full article!

Destructor

Destructor

1Jul/150

First Look: ‘Dressing’ for Success with Michael DeForge

Panel Mania is back with an exclusive preview from the indie king!

Panel Mania is now called First Look, and continuing with that name.

It’s rare that an award winning alternative comics creator also finds great book market success, but that is exactly what Canadian artist Michael DeForge has achieved in recent years. Since the publication of Lose #1 in 2009 with Koyama Press, the designer for Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time has gone on to win a clutch of awards at home and in the US, as well as repeatedly breaking into the New York Times best seller lists.

Ant Colony, originally serialised on DeForge’s website and published in early 2014 earned wide critical acclaim, while his on-going Lose series continues to revel in the experimental and eccentric.

Dressing then is a collection of short stories, curated from his prolific portfolio of mini comics, webcomics and both anthology and zine contributions. It is a spiritual successor to the award winning collection Very Casual in 2013, as DeForge continues to balance longer-form work alongside the short strips he revels in.

A series of structureless, but far from pointless, stories are contained within; a myriad of tangents and detours that take the reader on a most unexpectedly boundary-pushing journey. At 120 pages, Dressing holds its own on the DeForge shelf, a thick slice of feverish dreams and fantastic worlds.
There is much to be said about DeForge’s work, from the ever evolving color palettes to his ability to cross into the mainstream while retaining his singularly alternative aesthetic, but what really sets his comics apart is their ability to connect with the reader on a very visceral, instinctive level. Their commentary, often quite subtle, on the human condition – told through descriptive colors and sometimes without words – provoke and soothe in equal measure.

Frequently compared to Chris Ware, Dan Clowes, Charles Burns and Marc Bell amongst many others, and with the chafing label of “critical darling” attached, DeForge continues to defy both convention and comparison with all his many layers of work.

Read the full preview here: 'Dressing' for Success with Michael DeForge

Dressing

Dressing

2Jun/150

Panel Mania: Return to Carcosa in Culbard’s ‘The King in Yellow’

It's weird fiction time at Publisher's Weekly this month with a comics adaptation of the infamous The King in Yellow by the magnificent Culbard.

Two masters of horror combine to bring forth the graphic adaptation of the infamous The King in Yellow, a classic piece of weird fiction that promises madness and delivers genuine chills.

Robert W Chambers is the author of the original collection of short stories, and it is the first of these, the tales connected by the titular play, The King in Yellow, that INJ Culbard has brought to life within these pages.

The reputation of The King in Yellow precedes it, influencing such fellow cult creators as HP Lovecraft and Raymond Chandler, and even making ripples last year by frequent reference in HBO’s True Detective. The book within the book, the play at the heart of it all, is hinted at and teased, the book as object never before as dangerous as when rendered fully upon these pages, sat in innocent hands.

Culbard is no stranger to the weird and wonderful, adapting several Lovecraftian tales from At the Mountains of Madness to The Shadow Out of Time, both to great acclaim. Two science fiction highlights of 2014 had Culbard collaborating with writers: the magnificent War of the Worlds inspired Wild’s End at Boom! Studios with Dan Abnett; and the uniquely brilliant Brass Sun at 2000 AD with Ian Edginton.

The artist’s star is rising fast indeed, with last year also seeing his first original graphic novel, Celeste, hitting the shelves to rave reviews. He remains one of the UK’s greatest comic artists with a prolific output – always guaranteeing an intelligent and instantly recognisable graphic read.

Clean lines, bold colors, and characters that wriggle right into the readers’ brain are Culbard’s trademark. Here, in the realm of The King in Yellow, those skills are put to dastardly use as what begins in intrigue ends in poisonous insanity and palpable fright.

Do you dare read it? Do you dare not?!

The shadows lengthen… in Carcosa.

Read the full preview here: Return to Carcosa in Culbard’s ‘The King in Yellow’

The King in Yellow

The King in Yellow

31May/150

The Independent on Sunday: Cameron Stewart Discusses Fight Club 2

Earlier this month I travelled through to Glasgow to sit down with the ridiculously talented Cameron Stewart, writer of Batgirl, creator of Sin Titulo, and artist of the highly anticipated Fight Club 2.

"I have to be the one to do this," Stewart recalls thinking, when he heard that Fight Club 2 was moving ahead with Dark Horse Comics. "I ended up doing a three-page adaptation of one of the closing chapters of the novel..."

Read the full interview here - Fight Club 2: Cameron Stewart discusses drawing the comic book sequel to Chuck Palahniuk's iconic book

Cameron Stewart

23May/150

Top of the Shops: May 2015

There are a lot of great new comics out this month and I'll dig back a little into April too so we're fully up to date. 

Here then are my picks of the new comics you should have a look at this month, including one graphic novel, two collections, and an art book amongst the fabulous new series.

Bucky BarnesBucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier Volume 1: The Man on the Wall
(W) Ales Kot, (A/C) Marco Rudy, Michael Walsh, Langdon Foss, (L) Clayton Cowles
Marvel
Paperback
£12.99/$16.99
26 May 2015

In a tweet: Fluid and grand, standing for change and absolution, beautiful in its communication of empathy - a brand new level for superhero comics.

Full disclosure - I've never read a Bucky Barnes comic before. In fact I've only really read old school Captain America. So this was the least likely comic for me to read, pretty much ever. Until I saw some preview pages. Featuring Marco Rudy's art. And was BLOWN AWAY. And then I realised it was by Kot, oops! So of course it was something I was going to try, but damn if it ain't one of the most fun and beautiful comics I've read this year.

Now I have come across Rudy's work before, and been really impressed, but this is a whole new level of amazing and something that makes getting the trade collections a real joy. From the full page spreads to the lavish panel design, I'm struck by how easy it is for newcomers to still follow Rudy's more experimental layouts.

Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier - Marco Rudy Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier - Marco Rudy

On the one hand, Bucky is sexy as sin here. On the other, he's dealing with an incredibly traumatic history, a life governed by war, and the realisation that his survival instincts and protective walls are no longer quite as necessary. He's operating on a galactic scale, seeing his story reflected in the cosmos but also seeing new ways of living; new ways of being.

It's fluid and it's grand, it's about change and absolution, and it's beautiful in its communication of empathy. Oh, and it also mentions polyamory as a valid relationship choice - hurrah!