Tag Archives: fantagraphics

Fantagraphics to publish BTTM FDRS by Ezra Claytan Daniels & Ben Passmore

Fantagraphics hasannounced the acquisition of BTTM FDRS by writer Ezra Claytan Daniels and artist Ben Passmore. Out in Summer 2019, this shocking satire explores a world where gentrification and body horror collide in a rapidly changing Chicago.

Once a thriving working-class neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, The “Bottomyards” is now the definition of urban blight. When an aspiring fashion designer, Darla, and her image-obsessed BFF, Cynthia, descend upon the neighborhood in search of cheap rent, they discover something far more seductive… and deadly.

At its core, BTTM FDRS is an allegory for cultural appropriation, which first fears, then desires, then takes, then nullifies the object of appropriation without suffering personal consequence. Diverse, dynamic, and thought-provoking, BTTM FDRS aims to appeal to an audience that encompasses anyone who enjoys smart writing with thrilling visuals

Amazon Isn’t Indie and Small Press’ Enemy, It’s Another Platform to Sell

If you read The Comics Journal, it might seem like one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse was descending on Small Press Expo which takes place in Bethesda, Maryland this weekend. In an article entitled “A Plague Comes to SPX” RJ Casey makes the case that Amazon and comiXology‘s involvement in the show is an “affront” to those who attend and exhibit at the show.

comiXology is a digital platform that acts as a storefront for digital comics and was purchased by Amazon some years ago. Since then, the company has expanded allowing individual creators to upload their comics to sell through comiXology Submit and more recently launched a line of original comics called comiXology Originals.

Amazon and comiXology are bringing one of those originals, Hit Reblog, to SPX along with some of the creative team behind it and giving away printed copies to attendees. They’re also sponsoring portions of the convention.

Some feared when comiXology was acquired Amazon they would flex their market dominance putting pressure on publishers and brick and mortar stores. In the years since the focus has been more on experimentation and slowly integrating the service into the Amazon family such as Amazon Prime and Kindle. Even before Amazon, comiXology was the 800lb gorilla in the digital comics market and at any time could have easily become a tyrant with their exclusive contracts and market dominance. Though there were alternatives earlier and after, they remain the gold standard service by which all others will be measured. None have come close to matching what comiXology delivers.

While it is understandable to be nervous about Amazon’s entrance into the comics market and apprehensive due to their questionable treatment of employees, reality is their store had already been in the comic market for years selling individual comics and graphic novels and accounting for an unknown, but vital, amount of sales. Well before comiXology, Amazon had a section dedicated to comics with regular promotion and since the acquisition, those promotions have become better focused and better curated running appropriate sales during events such as San Diego Comic-Con and Small Press Expo raising awareness. ComiXology Originals are free to read for Amazon Prime a service millions are already paying for.

While the TCJ article spends a decent amount of time advocating for the rights of Amazon employees, its actual focus on the comics aspect seems to fall short in both facts and conclusions.

The fear seems to be, Amazon sponsorship of Small Press Expo is a trojan horse to take over independent comics as if there is one publisher by which that can be accomplished. The article and those concerned supporting it make indie and small press comics out to be both on the edge of collapse, easily broken, and also so lucrative that Amazon of course would want to snatch it up. It’s Schroedinger’s business. Both fragile and also immensely successful as is.

What the article fails to mention is that Amazon is already in the small press comic game and has been for years as both a platform and a publisher. Not only can creators self publish through their many services but the company also has Jet City Comics launched in 2013. They were already in the original comics publishing game well before the comiXology acquisition and that included distribution through comic stores. For a behemoth that is portrayed as so focused on closing brick and mortar stores, it’s strange that in their business model of their own comic line would include brick and mortar stores.

The article claims that Amazon wants to be “your printer, distributor, and most likely, publisher and editor.” As stated by Bedside Press‘ founder Hope Nicholson, Hit Reblog is published and owned by Bedside Press, not comiXology and not Amazon. An attack on the comic is an attack on a small press comic company. Similarly, Savage Game, the first comiXology Original comic to be printed, is owned by Cryptozoic.

Amazon and comiXology are the distributor and printer at most, very different than other comic publishers and more akin to a combination of Diamond Comic Distributors, the monopoly that currently is the major comic distribution service, and a possible printing company. Honestly in a way they’re like Image, a brand that comes with some benefits but in the end are creator owned. comiXology Originals sound more like paid for exclusives, a value added for comiXology and Amazon Prime customers and subscribers. They’re also willing to sink money into promoting comic projects featuring varied subjects and different creative voices that we don’t normally hear from other publishers.

The article also mentions a hit on “artistic freedom and intent” with a focus on the paper on which the comics are printed. While different printings can create a different reading experience, the focus on this, much as the article as a whole, screams of elitist gatekeeping as if there is one way to print a comic. ComiXology is providing these creators, and all of those that participate in comiXology Submit, a creator owned platform and the ability to do as they please with a possible visibility that can’t be replicated by any current comic publisher or distribution system. Amazon for years has provided print on demand services and it’s only natural that this be incorporated into this latest experiment of theirs.

As C. Spike Trotman emphasized in the comiXology Originals San Diego Comic-Con announcement panel, the ability to work with comiXology and Amazon is a value added and provides an opportunity to open doors. These are opportunities that might not exist to her as an already successful independent comic publisher (one who has been a regular at SPX for years). This is a comic creator who has raised over $1 million on Kickstarter. Trotman pointed out despite that success some doors are still closed to her. Amazon and comiXology are partners to possibly help open some and explore others neither have ever imagined.

With those incorrect conclusions and facts, the TCJ article warns of dire times when Amazon will force indie creators to print through them and undercuts creators through their platform. As if there’s not other on demand printing options and also downplays the do-it-youself nature of indie comics.

The reality is, a sale on Amazon because an individual saw the comic at a convention is still a sale. Yes, the creator will make less, but they’re still making money that most likely will have never been made otherwise. Conventions like SPX are as much about visibility and advertising as they’re about direct sales to the consumer. Conventions are about raising awareness and getting on attendees’ radars. That fee for the table, that’s the advertising fee. What you make there is some of which you make back immediately from that advertising. And Amazon’s cut of the sales through their platform? That’s no different than selling through Diamond or to comic shops directly or through Kickstarter or Etsy or Indiegogo which all take their piece of the pie. Amazon and comiXology are the technology platform through which these individuals can sell their wares globally and if done right get their creations before an audience that might not otherwise see them. That’s something TCJ’s parent Fantagraphics should be well aware as they use both Amazon and comiXology as two of their sales channels. It’s not an either or, it’s an all of the above to sell comics.

But where the article absolutely fails is its advocacy for attendees to throw copies of Hit Reblog in the trash. As if that comic is less worthy to be at the show than any other. TCJ seems to forget that the beauty of small press and indie comics is that anyone can make them. The paper it’s printed on, the format it comes in, and the ability of the creators are varied. Indie comics and small press are all an experiment. None of it is right, none of it is wrong. No one can “own” small press and indie comics because anyone can create them. Walk up and down the aisles at Small Press Expo and you can see that from the high quality books published by the likes of Fantagraphics, Drawn & Quarterly, and Top Shelf, to the comics xeroxed, stapled, and folded by the attendees themselves. RJ Casey, TCJ, and Fantagraphics has seem to have forgotten this and are becoming the gatekeepers they themselves would have decried years ago.

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 7/1

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews.


Batman50CoverMr H

Batman #50 (DC) Not many times does a comic bring out such emotion but wow. I feel like this could be Tom King’s masterpiece. This was fantastic from beginning panel to end. The way countless artists and creators were woven in, was so fitting considering how they have had such an impact on Batman’s history. The simple elegance of a secret rooftop wedding was genius. In a medium where most fictional weddings are over the top fiascos this was so nice and refreshing. I loved the double story narration throughout from both Bruce and Selina. Having doubted their true connection, Tom King has made a believer out of me. If Batman is to marry anyone, it has to be Catwoman. I believe that now. There was no over the top villain showdown but a definite surprise ending. This book had me mulling and contemplating true love. Rarely does a comic bring this kind of emotion out of me. There were a couple beats that did it though. I cannot say enough good about this book. It lived up to all the hype and I am so happy it did. Overall: Incredible. Tom King pulled another miracle out of his hat and it had nothing to do with Scot Free. This was all aces from me. Still astonished how well it was done. Score: 10/10 I’d give a 20/20 If I could.

Ryan C

Dark Ark #8 (Aftershock)** – Continuing the recent and highly successful storytelling trope of alternating between “past” and “present” that this series has settled comfortably into, Cullen Bunn deepens the mystery considerably in this issue while offering some tasty, if not exactly surprising, revelations to balance things out while Juan Doe, for his part, offers one stunning, eye-popping image after another, including a couple of double-page spreads that will absolutely knock your socks off. One of the best books that no one is talking about. Overall: 8. Recommendation: Buy.

dark ark 8.jpgThe Man Of Steel #6 (DC)** – Ho-hum. Brian Michael Bendis “ends” the “threat” of Rogol Zaar with predictable Deus Ex Machina nonsense, the dangling subplot of the arson fires is left that way, and Lois and Jon are temporarily ushered out the door by means you’ve seen coming for at least a couple of issues now. Jason Fabok’s art is perfectly competent in a “New 52”-esque sort of way, but all I can say about this at the end of the day is “thank Rao it’s over with.” Overall: 3. Recommendation: Pass.

Cosmic Ghost Rider #1 (Marvel)** – Kinda dumb, kinda fun, but probably leaning more toward the dumb, Donny Cates goes the pure set-up route with his script here, which is fine, but the fireworks — assuming any are to be had — will probably kick in next issue when the Immortal-Spirit-Of-Vengeance version of Frank Castle starts tooling around the cosmos with Baby Thanos. Dylan Burnett’s art is fine, but in fairness he’s no Geoff Shaw. Overall: 6. Recommendation: Read.

The Grave Diggers Union #8 (Image)** – With one issue left to go, Wes Craig kicks things into high gear story-wise with pathos and family drama necessarily overshadowing the comedic elements for this installment, while Toby Cypress matches the mood with some great, horrifying, highly idiosyncratic artwork. If you’ve been enjoying the series so far you’ll find a lot to like with this one — and I’ve been enjoying it quite a bit. Overall: 7.5. Recommendation: Buy.


cosmic_ghost_rider_cover_1Cosmic Ghost Rider #1 (Marvel)– Cool concept of Frank Castle being brought back from the dead by Odin to become the Ghost Rider in outer space, pretty funny overall. The story feels like if Bruce Campbell played Groo The Barbarian met Hells Angels in outer space . Was expecting a more serious take , but hopefully the 2nd issue fulfills the promise of the premise. As far as how good this first issue is, it’s mainly alright, not great.
Overall: 6 Recommendation: Borrow


I Hate Fairyland #20 (Image)** – The final issue of Skottie Young’s rampage through this muffin hugger. Gert faces off against Dark Cloudia with the Hearts of the Council – then faces off against the Council. Not a bad way to go out – but not great, either. If I had had my heart’s desire, it would have been that Young had used his last arc to really dig into what makes Fairyland fun and Gert’s wishes to escape. Still, I look forward to the possibility of seeing more of the adventures of Larry, Duncan Dragon, and company, and I’ll miss Fairyland. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Buy. 

The Kurdles Adventure Magazine 1The Kurdles Adventure Magazine #1 (Fantagraphics)** – This is the brainchild of artist Robert Goodin, intended to be a “kid-friendly comic magazine”. Featuring the adventures of a grumpy unicorn, a concerned teddy bear, and the star of the show, a kindly pentapus named Phineas, Goodin’s work is charming and funny – though I think my 6-year-old would find it a bit dull (so many words!). His one-page stuff is great. Guest artists include Cesar Spinoza (Pacho Clokey, a b&w cartoon in a photographed world), Andrew Brandou (with a take on Paul Bunyan and Babe that’s kind of fun), and Cathy Malkasian (the brilliant “No-Body Likes You, Greta Grump”). The book is almost worth the price of admission just for the 5-page “Forbidden to Love Him!”, starring Phineas Pentapus, an absolutely pitch-perfect 50’s romance comic. And I mean perfect on every level: the plot, the dialogue, the art, colouring, lettering, and print effects. This is a little masterpiece. Do I really have to wait a whole year for the next issue? Overall: 8 but Goodin’s material is a solid 9. Recommendation: Buy.


Catwoman #1 (DC) In one issue, Catwoman shows that it’s one of DC’s most beautiful books with art that is both grotesque and well-rendered by Joelle Jones and a palette from Laura Allred that stays in the shadows. Jones’ story isn’t too bad either as Selina is trying to reinvent herself in Villa Hermosa, Mexico, but her peace of high stakes gambling is broken up by copycats in Catwoman costumes killing cops. The initial villain is pretty freaky: kind of like a female Peter Thiel, and I look forward to more rooftop chases and gorgeous architecture and fashions from Jones and Allred. Overall: 9.0 Verdict: Buy

Assassinistas01Assassinistas #6 (IDW/Black Crown) Sure, the final issue of Tini Howard, Gilbert Hernandez, and Rob Davis’ mini has daring escapes, sniper shots, and even retro flashbacks. But it’s also the forging of a family as it’s revealed that Dominic does have a relationship with his father, and that Octavia is still coming to terms with coming out as gay. However, by the time, the finale rolls about, his boyfriend Taylor is outwitting the series’ villain Blood Diamond, and the day is saved by an unexpected source. Assassinistas #6 has it all: a quirky family dynamic, retro aesthetic, and lively cartooning from Hernandez. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: Buy

Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!

Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).

Around the Tubes

It’s new comic book day tomorrow! What’s everyone getting? What do you look forward to? Sound off in the comments below! While you contemplate that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.

The Beat – We Need To Do Better: Accessibility and BEA/BookCon – It goes beyond panelists. Conventions need to do better across the board to meet accessibility and health needs of attendees.

The Outhouse – Fantagraphics Associate Publisher Slams Comixology Originals As Blatant Grab – Thoughts?

Holy Cross News – Mark Nevins ’86 Donates Large Graphic Novel Collection to College – Cool to see these donations happening.



ICv2 – The Beautiful Death

Comic Attack – Man of Steel #1

Newsarama – Superfreaks

Talking Comics – We Are the Danger #1

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 6/2

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews.

Mr. H

amazing-spider-man-800-covers-mark-bagley-1112230Man of Steel #1 (DC Comics) So here it is folks, BMB takes on Big Blue and its……. ok. Yeah just okay. I figured he’d start with something more world burning but all we get is more on the conspiracy to eliminate Krypton and introduced to a new female face in Malorie Moore who is the Metropolis Fire Chief. Ivan Reis does a great job on pencils as does Jason Fabok on fill ins but there isn’t a lot to work with here. Also where the hell is Lois and Jon?? I am not interested in a non family Superman at this point in my collecting career. I hope they pop up soon. I know Bendis can start out slow and build something magnificent, but I hope this doesn’t turn out to be some uninspired Jenga piece of work. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Read

Amazing Spider-Man #800 (Marvel Comics) If you read one Spidey story this year make this be it. It is not just a tagline, to not do it would be a miss. Dan “the man” Slott brings us to the crescendo here. Norman Osborn vs Peter Parker for all the marbles. Norman mixed with Carnage symbiote is more deadly than ever and way more ruthless. He goes right for the heart and threatens all of Peter’s nearest and closest. There are many good scenes in this one and everyone of the characters get facetime. There is a death in here that was beautifully written and very touching. Even though this character is gone. They get an amazing sendoff. There are many pencils all over this one, too many too name but not enough to complain. All I know is when ever I see Mark Bagley draw Spidey it makes my heart happy. This one had action, heart, and consequence. With great power comes great responsibility and everyone who touched this proves it. It was definitely make mine Marvel. I’m going to miss Dan Slott for sure. Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Ryan C

Man-Of-Steel-1-2018.jpgThe Man Of Steel #1 (DC)** – So, this is it, huh? The “new era” of Superman begins with Brian Michael Bendis retconning some shit vis a vis the destruction of Krypton, there’s something about a rash of arson fires, and we don’t know where Lois and Jon are. The issue ends on flashback cliffhanger, never a smart idea since what’s happened has already happened, and Ivan Reis’ art is pretty generic, “New 52”-esque stuff. Bendis has a pretty solid immediate handle on how to write Superman, but beyond getting the overall tone right, there’s nothing much on offer here. Overall: 4. Recommendation: Pass

Grass Kings #15 (Boom! Studios)** – I was expecting a great finale to this series, and Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins definitely deliver with an extra-sized issue that wraps up the main mystery, sends off every character with an appropriately oblique coda, and even includes some last-second surprises that make for a truly memorable conclusion. Both creators put a lot of heart into this title, and I’m really going to miss it. Take a bow, gents, for a job very well done indeed. Overall: 9. Recommendation: Buy

Harrow County #31 (Dark Horse)** – From ultimate issues to penultimate ones, Cullen Bunn and Tyler Jenkins set the stage for what promises to be an epic wrap-up to Emmy’s story with an action-packed installment that ramps up the tension until we hit a cliffhanger that will leave you wondering how you can possibly wait 30 days to find out how everything ends. Crisply written, gorgeously illustrated, and atmospheric as hell, this has been a wild ride from the get-go, and I’ll be bummed out when it’s gone. Alas, all good things must come to an end, and this book has been a very good thing, indeed. Overall: 8.5. Recommendation: Buy

Abbott #5 (Boom! Studios)** – Saladin Ahmed and Sami Kivela put their terrific little 1970s Detroit period-piece to bed, but never fear — there’s sure to be more. Yes, they spend a bit too much time setting up their inevitable sequel, but the main narrative wraps up nicely, the characters are all left in situations that are begging to be explored further, and the smart social commentary adds a tremendous amount of depth an nuance to the proceedings. I’m very much looking forward to what comes next. Overall: 8. Recommendation: Buy.


The Last Siege #1 (Image) A stormy night, a weather beaten stranger, a city at its TheLastSiege_01-1darkest hour. Landry Q. Walker and Justin Greenwood craft a lean, gritty medieval fantasy tale in The Last Siege #1 and spend the initial issue showing how much a badass their main character, who should be played by Keanu Reeves in a film adaptation, is. Walker doesn’t overdo it on the dialogue and lets Greenwood put their protagonist through his paces showing the determination on his face and the leverage he creates as he outlasts the hordes of the power hungry Feist, who want to exploit the young ruler, Kathryn. Colorist Eric Jones adds to the grim atmosphere, and I’m really excited to learn more about our unnamed protagonist and his leadership/fighting/survival style. Overall: 9 Verdict: Buy

Hong Kong Phooey/Black Lightning Special #1 (DC) Bryan Edward Hill, Denys Cowan, and Bill Sienkiewicz serve up a jive talking, kung fu punching throwback spectacular in Hong Kong Phooey/Black Lightning. Sienkiewicz’s scratchy inks give the fights a loose, chaotic feel, and Hill creates a fantastic buddy chemistry between Phooey and Jefferson playing everything straight until the very end. The story has a bit of a moral backbone to it and explore the corrupting nature of power through the lens of a grindhouse kung fu flick. Jeff Parker and Scott Kolins’ Funky Phantom backup story is a funny, yet sobering bit of political satire as the Phantom makes jokes about Hamilton and is appalled by some “patriots'” take on the Second Amendment. Overall: 9.5 Verdict: Buy

Judge Dredd: Siege #1 (IDW) Mark Russell and Max Dunbar borrow a little bit from the excellent 2012 Dredd film by taking Judge Dredd off the streets of Mega City One and in an enclosed space: a block apartments that were created as affordable housing and were abandoned by the city. But whereas Dredd had a clean, minimalist plot, Russell thrives in the complexities of Mega City One’s society by having the inflexible Dredd team up with the gangs he thinks he’s going against versus the mutants who have taken over the apartments. Russell’s plot is an ever tightening noose as things go from bad to worst, and Dunbar’s art has some of the ultraviolence and darkly humorous background gigs of the original 2000 AD comic to break up the unrelenting action. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: Buy

Blackwood #1 (Dark Horse)– What if freshman orientation other than being awkward as hell featured Lovecraftian nightmares too? That’s the premise of Blackwood #1 from writer Evan Dorkin and artists Veronica and Andy Fish. Fish is known for her stylish characters in Archie and Spider-Woman, but Blackwood really proves her horror chops as Blackwood features tentacles, monsters, and lots of icky fluids. In the early going, Dorkin makes all the characters hate each other and only creates a grudging, not even camaraderie through the strange phenomena they see. It’s nice to see a college/school story where everyone isn’t BFFs from day one. Overall: 7.7 Verdict: Read


conceptual heist.jpgConceptual Heist #1 (self-published)** – In three words: sci-fi art heist. Hooked yet? Writer Jay D’Ici and artist Matt G. Gagnon have been putting this out as strips online for a couple of years now in black and white and blue, and now (thanks to Kickstarter) they’ve collected the first cycle into a full-color comic. Briefly: Jemma is a cool-as-cucumber-in-gin-and-tonic thief looking to steal art from the rich, specifically Picasso’s “The Old Guitarist”. Now that the entire plot is out of the way, let’s talk about how much fun this is. First, Jay D’Ici is clearly having a ball putting all of these sci-fi security toys into the cat-and-mouse game, and Jemma is a main character in classic sympathetic cat burglar style. No baggage to drag us down, this is all about action and style. And what style! Matt G. Gagnon brings a 1920’s flapper vibe that is a perfect visual language to talk about the hyper-rich. His characters’ acting and body language is great, and the sci-fi setting never gets in the way of the action, it’s just the nano-particle-charged air they breathe. This is as good as anything being published by Black Mask, and that’s high praise coming from me. Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: buy – or at least follow them here: https://www.facebook.com/conceptualheist/

Love And Rockets #5 (Fantagraphics)** – On the Jaime side, “I This How You See Me?” concludes (and provides the title to) Maggie & Hopey’s Hoppers punk rock reunion. Having spent nearly 30 years with these two (I’m a latecomer, I know), I’d like to single out Jaime’s writing here – going back and forth between 1980 and now, it’s a treat to watch how both of these women have both changed and not changed since their teens, how the world has both toughened and softened them, how their relationships to other lovers and significant others have both given them anchors and dragged them out to sea. And Ape Sex is playing in the supermarket. Over to Gilbert, and Rosy-not-Rosie, wandering through Fritz’s massive, empty house, watching the massive, empty sky or looking at the massive portraits of Fritz’s massive (censored) or lying in a massive, empty bed, or standing in a massive, empty soundstage. Gilbert is an expert at depicting this kind of loneliness, a void that no amount of B science fiction can fill. In their alien and arid Hollywood, only the passage of time and the turning of pages can change the hearts of Gilbert’s characters these days. Overall: 8 Recommendation: buy 

Blackwood #1 (Dark Horse)** – Evan Dorkin and Veronica & Andy Fish bring us their magickal school story, in this case the clearly cursed and haunted Blackwood College. Nothing earth-shattering here, unfortunately – it seems that all you can do with this trope is either embrace it or destroy it, and I have enough class prejudice against private schools that I’m firmly on the side of “destroy” and was hoping for the same from Dorkin. It’s certainly well-done, and for my money best when it focuses on the archness of main character Wren. Veronica Fish’s art is clear and lovely, just cartoony enough to let us in, but not enough to be a commentary on the Lovecraftian proceedings – which, I suppose, is my real complaint. It’s a very professional and competently done take, neither hot nor cold nor just right. Overall: 7 Recommendation: skip. 

Kill Or Be Killed #19 (Image)** – In this penultimate issue, detective Lily Sharpe makes her way through a blizzard to Bellevue to ask Dylan a question. What she gets – once Dylan realizes that the case is actually closed – is a full confession. And then the power goes out and the Russians show up. Brubaker, Phillips, and Breitweiser bring the usual excellence, and I have to single out Phillips’ depiction of Lily here – her expressions, somewhere between hangdog and guard dog, are absolutely priceless, and when she gets swept up in way more action than she had ever bargained for, the way she just bites her lip and slogs her way through is great. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: buy.

Stray Bullets #35 (Image/El Capitàn)** – Well, didn’t Vic Kretchmeyer just sneak up and steal the story. Sweating out withdrawal in a bad science fiction movie in his head and dragging Rose through that swamp, trying to ignore what the flowers are telling him while trying to protect the inside of his skull from Annie and the outside of Rose’s skull from Kretch, running off into the night through the parking lot of the Space Lodge motel with tinfoil hats… Another great issue from David Lapham. Could this story really be closing in on 1000 pages? Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: buy

Lazarus #28 (Image)** – From the letters page, Greg Rucka: “… the only response I can offer is the one that Michael [Lark] has said time and again – when we started Lazarus we were writing science fiction; now we’re writing a documentary.” Jonah Carlyle escaped the war and started a little life and a little family in a remote Danish fishing village, but now the war closes in on him in the most heartbreaking way possible. Rucka and Lark give us a place that is cold and grey and totally alive, a place that is centuries in the past and years in the future, where the Russians invade your screens with porn as a vector for propaganda delivery and suddenly everything around you is… well, is the year X+67. Next up: Fracture. Overall: 9 Recommendation: buy

Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!

Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).

Review: Why Art?

When I went to high school I went to what was considered a “magnet school.” This concept which was pushed all throughout New York City was where you had a public high school devoted a certain field of study. There was Bronx Science dedicated to students who would be pursuing degrees and careers in Science. There was Aviation High in Queens, where I am from, which pushed towards degrees and careers in Aviation.

There was also one dedicated to the arts, but it was in Manhattan. The appreciation of art is something that I would not get to know until I joined the military and got to go museums I would not normally be able to go. Art is something I believe everybody should be able to experience, even if you don’t quite understand the artists’ intention. In Eleanor Davis’ Why Art? she examines how the world looks at art in all its glory.

From the onset she starts out with the basics. Readers are given the terminology one would use when describing certain works. She gives the reader a very good example of performance artwork, through four different individuals. Unfortunately for our protagonists, an “act of god” destroys their big debut at an art gallery as they find a shelter within a piece of art. By book’s end, they find inspiration in a shadowbox art piece as the eventual lesson here becomes art is a state of mind that can exist in any medium.

Overall, a book which explores art in all its meanings while solidifying why artists thrive despite convention and criticism. The story by Davis is smart, beautiful, and engaging. The art by Davis is elegant, intellectual and glowing. Altogether, a great book which only endears the reader to art, as the great Winston Churchill once said:

Leave it to the Master of Art trained by a lifetime of devotion the wonderful process of picture-building and picture creation. Go out into the sunlight and be happy with what you see.

Story: Eleanor Davis Art: Eleanor Davis
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy

Review: The Bloody Cardinal

As far back as I can remember popular culture has always been obsessed with murder mysteries. This is the exact reason Sherlock Holmes has been such a pivotal figure in law enforcement even though he is completely fictional. This obsession also is why the world has been somewhat fascinated with Jack the Ripper.  AS this murder mystery has been the subject of several books, tv shows, comics and movies.

Even the world-renowned crime author, Patricia Cornwell, did her own research into the subject which she turned into a true crime book. This very fascination explains a lot about humans and our obsessions with people who explore the darker recesses of the mind. Al Capone and John Dillinger are considered legendary and why these subjects continue to be explored. This obsession spills over into comics as Richard Sala explores a similar fictional figure in The Bloody Cardinal.

In the opening pages, we meet a young lady, Clara Clarette, who is looking for a rare book, but something about the book shop and the mysterious details that booksellers give her, leaves her suspicious. This leads to her being killed by knife, which introduces us to Inspector Coronet and Doctor Sun, who is investigating her murder and Bill Beaker, the “Bloody Cardinal” would be his number one suspect, if he wasn’t dead himself. We also meet Trini Toledo, who was the last person Clara spoke to. By book’s end, we find out who was possibly using Beaker’s identity but as all good mysteries do, it ends with a twist that no one saw coming.

Overall, an excellent book which proves Sala is one the premiere crime noir writers of our time. The story by Sala is frightening, unnerving, and suspense filled. The art by Sala is entrancing. Altogether, a spooky thriller which will have readers second guessing their instincts about who the killer is until the end.

Story: Richard Sala Art: Richard Sala
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 2/3

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews.




MotherlandsCoverKill the Minotaur TPB (Image): This revisionist re-telling of the Greek legend of Theseus managed to hold my interest but I doubt that I’ll remember much about it next week. Co-writers Chris Pasetto and Christian Cantamesa show they can craft a good plot and artist Lukas Ketner graces his pages with a nice blend of Ray Harryhausen and H.R. Giger but the characters are largely trope ridden cliches and the team never manages between themselves to do anything that lifts this treatment above any of the hundreds of times you’ve heard this story before. It’s worth it if you find the single issues in the dollar bin or catch a sale on ComiXology or you find it on the shelf at your local library. Rating: 6 Recommendation: Pass

Motherlands #1 (DC/Vertigo): Tabitha Tubach is a bounty hunter trolling a surreal multiverse for wanted criminals and the daughter of “The Scarlet Sylph”, once one of the most renowned stars of the golden age of “huntertainment”, now disabled and retired. When Tabitha brings in a perp with information regarding one of the most wanted people in existence mother and child must team up to bring them in. Motherlands is far from writer Si Spurrier’s best work. The pacing didn’t feel quite right to me and I saw the last page cliffhanger coming about ten pages in advance. That said I’ve enjoyed enough of his other work (his Legion run was fantastic) to give this one at least one more issue to hook me. The characters are strong, there’s a lot of potential in the concept and the art by Rachael Stott is very good. Stott’s elegant style keeps things detailed without being cluttered and her sense of design provides us with a few weird visions that aren’t quite like anything we’ve seen before. There’s also a nifty bit where letterer Simon Bowland uses the shape of the word balloons to help indicate movement between worlds in the chase scene. Rating: 7 Verdict: Buy.

Eternal (Black Mask): Haunted by ghosts both literal and metaphorical shield maiden Vif must make a stand. This is a gorgeous book. Artist Eric Zawadski has a spare style that recalls Becky Cloonan and he adds lots of flourishes to his layout that enhance the story and draw you into the world of medieval Viking village. Colorist Dee Cunniffe assists the illusion with a muted a muted palette that brilliantly recall the spectres of cold and frost. Ryan K Lindsay’s story is good but it suffers from the constant leaps from past to present. This makes it hard to comprehend on a first read. Still it’s rich enough that you’ll want to read it twice. Rating: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

Phoenix Resurrection Jean Grey #5 (Marvel) Even coming up with enough to say for a short review is a challenge. The art by Leinil Francis Yu is up to his usual high standard and Joe Bennett’s is adequate I guess. As to Matthew Rosenberg’s story… well, one mutant character I like is back and another is dead (for now) and yet I felt absolutely nothing after reading this. Maybe I would have a different response had I been reading the series straight along from issue#1, but if you can’t manage to eke out some emotion from the climactic moment in your story then you’ve failed in whatever it was you set out to do as a storyteller. The first part of Dark Phoenix Saga I read was the last and that inspired me to go back and read the whole thing from the beginning. This doesn’t do that at all. I’m hoping X-Men Red#1 will rekindle my love for mighty Marvel’s merry mutants because this issue left me cold. Rating: 5 (and that’s mostly because I like Yu’s art). Recommendation: Pass



animosity 12Animosity #12 (Aftershock)** – I wanna keep loving Sandor, but Marguerite Bennett is making it tough, as the secrets around everyone’s favorite over-protective dog continue to grow. Unfortunately, the suspense surrounding the current main plot — a humans vs. bees war — has been constructed in a bit more slipshod manner. It still makes for okay reading, but only that — okay reading. Fortunately, while the writing on this frankly over-franchised series has been slipping lately, Rafael De Latorre’s art continues to both shine and consistently improve. Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read. 

Punisher Max: The Platoon #5 (Marvel/Max)** – The penultimate issue of Garth Ennis and Goran Parlov’s “Punisher In Vietnam” mini-series continues to ramp up the high-wire tension without letting up on either the razor-sharp characterization or the pitch-pitch combat writing. Frank’s left in a real pickle at the end of this one, and how it’s all going to play out is anyone’s guess — quite a feat considering that we all know our protagonist and most of the other principal players are sure to get out alive. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Underwinter: A Field Of Feathers #4 (Image)** – Speaking of penultimate issues, there’s just one more to go in Ray Fawkes’ impressionistic horror series, and he sets the stage for what should probably be a terrific finale by giving away just enough of his hand in this admittedly heavily-expository installment — but not too much. The lush and atmospheric art seals the deal, and all in all I have to say that I’m missing this comic before it’s even over with. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Ark #5 (Aftershock)** – Cullen Bunn and Juan Doe put their first arc on this series to bed with an installment that sees an accidental (and frightening) visit to the Ark by a gaggle on angels that ends with our protagonist seeing his mission changing in abrupt, and sure-to-be-fascinating, fashion. Good as the scripting is, though, for my money Doe’s stylish and darkly atmospheric art and colors are the real star of this book. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy


JEAN_GREY_CVR_011Jean Grey #11 (Marvel) Dennis Hopeless and company’s solo story of time displaced Jean Grey and a major chapter in the ongoing “Phoenix saga” comes to a close as Jean battles the cosmic firebird in a kind of limbo between life and death. This purgatory-esque framing narrative provides a great opportunity for Victor Ibanez and Alberto Albuquerque to show Jean fighting in various cool locations like Limbo, the Savage Land, and best of all, the fiery pits of the Days of Future Past reality featuring the hound, Rachel Grey. But the comic isn’t just a fight for time, but young Jean coming to terms with who she is as a woman and X-Man without the Phoenix’s interference. Corresponding to the main story in Phoenix Resurrection, Hopeless finishes out his story by creating a reality where two Jeans can interact and learn from each other and not continually have to fight back and forth for the whims of a flaming avian plot device. I look forward to seeing what future writers do with them. Overall: 8 Verdict: Read


Big Trouble in Little China: Old Man Jack #5 (Boom!)** – In the latest issue of this romp through the apocalyptic future that Jack Burton caused, we throw down with the Three Storms. “There will be no popping! This time will be much weirder!” This series is a hoot: John Carpenter & Anthony Burch’s script has a breakneck pace and Jorge Corona’s art is energetic and expressive, with a cartoony style that still really delivers on the action. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

now 2.jpgNOW #2 (Fantagraphics)** – I am so, so very happy that this anthology exists! Not only does it give me the chance to regularly see work by artists I know like Dash Shaw and Sammy Harkham, but I get to discover even more work. At 120 pages it’s the perfect size, too, for a week of bite-sized reading. Highlights this time around for me: Tommi Musturi’s “Samuel”, with colourful landscapes that reminded me of a more formally-precise Peter Max, Anuj Streatha’s “National Bird” (with an absolutely brilliant image at the centre of it that I can’t get out of my head), James Turek’s “Saved” (“Let’s remember/Those throw away days/When going nowhere meant so much”) and Ariel Lopez V.’s hipster Twilight Zone piece “A Perfect Triangle” (and now that I’ve said “hipster Twilight Zone” I just want this artist to do more of them). Go give these people your money so they can make more art. Overall: 7.5 (because, after all, anthology) Recommendation:  Buy


Star Wars DJ Most Wanted (Marvel)– Having watched the Last Jedi, honestly it was djmostwanted.jpghard to find a reason to care about Benicio Del Toro’s mysterious character. So when I found out they were doing a prequel story,I wanted to give the character another chance, in hopes of finding out what would happen in the next movie.Unfortunately, that potential was never realized in this story. Sad to say, but fans of Star Wars, should keep moving, nothing worth your time here. Overall: 4 Recommendation: Pass

Punisher Platoon #5 (Marvel)**– We catch up with the Platoon soon after they get deployed into another high visibility area, one which leaves them more open then they know. Ly Quan, Frank’s “mirror” female version, finds her opportunity to pounce and that’s exactly what she does. This quagmire leaves Frank and the boys, in a position where they can neither retreat nor surrender, as Ly Quan has a taste for blood. By book’s end, it seems the Platoon is as good as dead, but as everyone who has read the Punisher knows, Castle has no quit in him. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy


Moon Knight #191 (Marvel) – After the wackiness of the last few but fun Moon Knight runs, I wondered where Bemis would take this run. I am happy to report that it is so far so good for Mr. Spector and his friends. The art is great, the plot is crazy fun, and the jokes are funny. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Old Man Logan #34 (Marvel) – Marvel has continued it’s Legacy branded nostalgic trend of tapping into past storylines across their titles, as Old Man Logan digs deep into Madripoor, Silver Samurai, and The Hand. This was a fun issue, and I have enjoyed every issue of Old Man Logan, with this being no different. Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!

Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).

Review: TEOTFW

The Secret life of Walter Mitty is one of those movies that no matter what walk of life you come form, you can relate to. His fantasies throughout the movie speaks to anyone and everyone who felt something towards someone. His fantasies with his object of desire is any boy who falls in love with a girl. His fights with the new boss, is anyone who has had a bad relationship with their supervisor. The movie made the viewer assured that every fantasy was too fantastical to be true.

Eventually, Mitty goes on his own real-life adventures, in the movie, ones which if you had a bucket list, these would be the places you ventured. Not once did he get the girl or hit his boss in the face, as his justice was assuredly passive aggressive. Therefore, when these impossible feats happen in real life, we all wish we could be in their shoes. So, when I heard about TEOTFW (The End of the F*$king World), where one of the main characters becomes nihilistic, and act upon these fantasies.

We meet James, a young adult, who goes through life, not caring about himself and is nonchalant about hi relationships and surroundings. This change when he meets Alyssa, his girlfriend, who despite his abuses, and violent behavior, is like a puppy dog in love. Eventually, James starts killing people, leaving a ton of bodies in his wake, and with the police on his trial, but James and Alyssa’s bond becomes even stronger. By book’s end, James and Alyssa got caught, but everyone who they across including the police officer hunting them, becomes affected this murderous duo.

Overall, a hard-hitting, frightening look at inhumanity and the darkness that occupies all of us, as it this is an exercise in restraint, and those without it. The story By Charles Forsman was scary, suspenseful, and disturbing. The art by Forsman reminds of Garry Trudeau’s work on Doonesbury. Altogether, a crazy ride, which will make the reader understand, that everyone is one bad choice from ruining their lives.

Story: Charles Forsman Art: Charles Forsman
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

10 Spooky Comics for this Halloween

If you, like the rest of the internet, have been celebrating Halloween since before Labor Day, or have gotten swept up in the pumpkin spice frenzy, or are riding the high of those spooky seasonal vibes, hey. You’re not alone.

Though this year has been widely deemed a dumpster fire, 2017 has provided some excellent seasonal reads for readers who like their comics with a side of horror and mystery. Here are ten comics perfect for setting the Halloween mood.

Donny Cates, Garry Brown, and Mark Englert (AfterShock Comics)

Being a teenager can feel like hell. For pregnant sixteen year old Sadie, it might literally be hell. The first volume explores the strength of familial relationships, navigating the world as a teen mom, and how to deal when a powerful underground group of assassins tries to kill your baby, who is the antichrist.

Goldie Vance
Hope Larson, Jackie Ball, Brittney Williams, Noah Hayes (BOOM! Studios)

Goldie Vance is a teenage detective story appropriate for all ages. Join Goldie as she takes on the mysteries at the Florida resort where she and her dad work. The series is no longer published as single issues and will instead be published in the future in a series of graphic novels, and each arc is an excellent jumping-on point for the series.

Goosebumps_01_CoverA copyGoosebumps: Monsters at Midnight
Jeremy Lambert and Chris Fenoglio (IDW Publishing)

Goosebumps: Monsters at Midnight was released by IDW earlier this month. While it’s definitely geared toward a younger demographic, the first issue is full of references to the original books and stays true to their voice.

HellraiserOmnibus_v1_SC_PRESS_1Hellraiser Omnibus Volume 1
Clive Barker, Tom Garcia, various (BOOM! Studios)

The Hellraiser Omnibus isn’t for the squeamish. The book collects issues 1-20 of Clive Barker’s 2011-2012 Hellraiser series, as well as Hellraiser Annual #1. As part of Hellraiser canon, the comic explores the fate of Kirsty Cotton and the Cenobite realm–and changes them forever.

Mina Elwell, Eli Powell, and Tristan Elwell (Scout Comics)

The first issue of this Lovecraft-inspired horror comic from Scout Comics was released earlier this month. The story follows Sam, who is trying to save her town (and the people in it) from vicious monster attacks while keeping her grip on sanity.

Marguerite Bennett, Ariela Kristantina, and Jessica Kholine (AfterShock Comics)

The second collected volume of Insexts will be released in late November, but this comic is well worth reading. The first volume followed Lady Bertram and her lover Mariah as they come to grips with their insect powers and go up against the monsters terrorizing Victorian England. The second volume deals with the aftermath in the same beautiful, erotic, and horrific style as the first volume.

Nancy-Hardy-001-Cov-A-DaltonNancy Drew and the Hardy Boys: The Big Lie
Anthony Del Col, Werther Dell’Edera (Dynamite Entertainment)

Fans of the original series or previous Drew-Hardy team-ups will likely appreciate this series, which brings the gang back together to figure out who killed Fenton Hardy. This is something of a dark departure from the original series (which never featured murder) but is an interesting update appropriate for teens and adults alike.

Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda (Image Comics)

Though Monstress is currently on hiatus, this comic remains one of the most visually and narratively interesting comics published this year. The second volume, released in July, develops each character as they process the consequences of the Monstrum living inside main character Maika.

anc_lit-my_favorite_thing_is_monsters-900My Favorite Thing is Monsters
Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics)

My Favorite Thing is Monsters is a gorgeous book with an incredible amount of narrative depth. Though the fact that the main character, Karen Reyes, believes herself a monster makes this read Halloween-appropriate, readers will likely find plenty to relate to in Karen’s interests and search for identity.

My-Pretty-Vampire-coverMy Pretty Vampire
Katie Skelly (Fantagraphics)

Katie Skelly’s My Pretty Vampire combines comics with vintage horror in a gorgeous and compelling color palette. The book follows vampire Clover, who escapes from an oppressive ruled by her brother. Clover’s newfound freedom leads her on a town-wide murder spree, with a shadowy organization not far behind.

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