Tag Archives: featured

Join Our Team!

Graphic Policy is always on the hunt for talented contributors. If you’re interested in becoming involved with one of the internet’s most unique, fastest-growing entertainment and pop culture websites, now’s your chance!

Please note that all of the positions offered by Graphic Policy are volunteer positions. Our staff runs this site because we love comics, politics, pop culture, games, movies, television, and geekdom.

We can not guarantee anything but your name in the writing credits (perfect for someone building a portfolio), but we will work with you to help you cover and write about the things you’re interested in.

Graphic Policy will open up its ability to obtain review copies, press passes and more for those who regularly post to the site. Your posts belong to you and you are free to post them here and other sites as well!

All applicants must be over the age of 18 years old and have excellent writing skills.

Please fill out the form below and let us know more about you, and what you’d like to write about and cover.

Review: Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe #3

“The pulse-pounding expansion of Valiant’s upcoming, live-action digital series wages its most dangerous gambit yet as Colin King – aka the international super-spy codenamed Ninjak – battles his way through his former friends and allies! Ninjak’s arch-nemesis – the deadly and cunning assassin Roku – has manipulated MI6’s most dangerous asset into turning on his former masters and stealing an object of immeasurable power. So who can MI6 send to stop him? EVERYONE! The bone-cracking showdown of a lifetime continues here as Ninjak battles X-O Manowar, Bloodshot, Livewire, Archer & Armstrong, and all of Valiant’s most formidable heroes!”

Despite the live action version of this story having been faced with multiple delays, Valiant have published Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe as an alternate universe story with no real bearing on the other comics in the publisher’s line up.  Being an adaptation, there’s a few hands in the creative pot steering the series with Eliot Rahal adapting Aaron Schoenke‘s screen story (the screenplay itself credits Aaron Schoenke, Sean Schoenke, Joe Harris and Andrew Rowe) with often mixed results; the first issue wasn’t great although the second was a step up. The third… is neither a step up nor a step back. Once again this remains the comic equivalent to a  popcorn fueled action movie, but this time the charm isn’t holding as strongly as you would hope.

The story has the unique honour of limping along in a disjointed shambles and yet moving with the speed of a track runner. Think a zombie running the hundred meters without any hint of the humour that should be present and you’ll not be far off.

Joe Bennett (pencils),  Belardino Brabo (inks) and Ulises Arreola (colours) are on art duties again, and provide a comic that is presumably close to the visual style of the web-series, but doesn’t really do anything to wow you completely. Visually the comic is solid, if unspectacular, and you won’t feel short changed by the art. But unfortunately Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe #3 is an exercise in mediocrity. It’s not bad, but it’s just not that great, either.

Ultimately, although this series isn’t going to be winning any major awards, it’s not bad as a primer for the web-series.

Story: Eliot Rahal Pencils: Joe Bennett
Inks: Belardino Brabo Colours: Ulises Arreola
Story: 6.7 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Those Two Geeks Episode Twenty: Tangents Galore!

On the docket this week: The geeks debut a new segment, have a half dozen tangents and talk about a bunch of other movie related things.

As always, the Alex and Joe can be found on twitter respectively @karcossa and @jc_hesh if you feel the need to tell them they’re wrong individually, or @those2geeks if you want to yell at them together on twitter or email ItsThose2Geeks@gmail.com.

Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week in the future!

Review: Paradox Girl #2

There is nothing better than comedy-based comics when it is done right. This is exactly what made Mad Magazine and Cracked, so popular to read for my kids in my generation. As it poked fun at everything, no holds barred, leaving everyone a victim, pointing out some of the most absurd elements of popular culture. Any child who grew up when I did, could remember Mad’s popular parody of Rocky IV and Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, two movies that some audiences find iconic now, but were critically panned by the critics and these comic magazines. The humor in these magazines shaped what my humor for years to come and I would find this absurdist sense of humor in other comics growing up.

One of those comics was Groo, which found comedy in Conan’s action adventure fantasy settings. Another one is Deadpool, which within the comics and the movie, showed the world how wisecracking killer can still exist in world where superheroes exist and many of his jokes landed with all fans, even creating a cult like following. As most of these comics are well established, rarely do you find comics which push those boundaries enough and remembers to be funny. This what sets Paradox Girl apart from most indies, as out titular hero in the second issue finds an unnecessary foe.

We find Paradox Girl, being annoyed by one of her other selves, which leads her to throw a tantrum, as her need for sleep is what she feels she most needs. As much as would like to believe it was them who was annoying her, it was an unwelcome intruder on her property that gets her riled up. What follows is her overreacting and regenerating herself bringing a bear to take out the wolverine and then a peacock with guns to take out the bear. By issue’s end, paradox gets herself caught up in a series of mishaps and misfires, leaving her even more tired and right when she thinks she can get some sleep, the chaos ensues once again.

Overall, a raucous riot of an issue, that will make  new fans of this criminally overlooked comic book, which pushes the boundaries of time and comedy. The story by Cayti Bourquin is hilarious, irrational, and just what you need at the end of a long day. The art by Yishan Li is vivid and elegant. Altogether, another excellent installment in the superior comedy series.

Story: Cayti Bourquin Art: Yishan Li
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.2 Overall: 9.1 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Black Panther: Man Without Fear – The Complete Collection

The popularity of the Black Panther movie, cannot be understated, as it being of the few movies to the cross Billion-dollar threshold, and for good reason. The movie had action, comedy, politics, history, and war. Never has a movie, come from the MCU, where it was self-contained, and fans were transported to an experience, one that fans will not forget anytime soon. In retrospect, the movie only scratched the surface on just how complex the character is, as describing as Marvel’s version of Batman, doesn’t do the character justice.

His journey in the comics also have takne T’Challa through the ringer, as he has faced series of trials and tribulations that’s has seen him get married, get his marriage annulled, become King of Wakanda and lose his crown to his sister, Shuri.  The movie briefly flirted with the idea that T’Challa can lose his crown and the mantle of Blck Panther. In David Liss and Francesco Francavilla’s Black Panther: The Man Without Fear, T’Challa ends up in New York city, more specifically Hell’s Kitchen.

We meet T’Challa,shortly after abdicating the throne, realizing he has to make a way without the mantle of Black Panther, he seeks a way to do good, as he finds his way to New York City, right after Matt Murdock , being corrupted by the Hand, leaves Hell’s Kitchen, for his own redemption. As T’Challa, looks to create a new identity and fight crime without the use of Vibranium or the Black Panther suit, he takes on the mantle of the Protector of Hell’s Kitchen, which brings the ire of the Romanian mob and its chief architect, Vlad The Impaler. As quiet as T’Challa is trying to keep his presence in NYC, he catches the attention of Spiderman and Luke Cage, who both don’t know he is secretly fighting crime, but Kraven the Hunter does, as he comes to the city to find him as  hatemongering version of himself pops up, in the American Panther,  both whom T’Challa defeats in some hard fought battles. By book’s end, Storm comes to aid him as he battles Lady Bullseye and finds out exactly where Matt Murdock has been, as he leaves city back in his hands, just a bit better.

Overall, an engaging book that reminds readers that though we love to see superheroes triumph, it’s when they suffer and struggle, is what builds character in them as it does in us. The story by Liss, is large, sweeping, adventurous, action packed and gives T’Challa a new light to see him under. The art by Francaviilla feels intimate, warm, and sparks in places where you least expect it. Altogether, an important part of his canon which would like a sin if it is overlooked, as any fan of Black Panther needs to read this book.

Story: David Liss Art: Francesco Francavilla
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Black Comix Returns

The world of comic books has always spoke to part of everyone who has picked up a comic or has been drawn to its characters through television or the movies. As children of color looks to the world and to media, for reflections of themselves, for my generation and ones before, this was a hopeless venture. This has changed for children born in the new millennia as the times have become increasingly progressive yet somewhat backwards at times.  As shows like Black Lightning, and The Runaways, gave viewers, a more realistic view of the world, this need to find images that looks like their audience has never gone way.

When I read the first Black Comix, back in 2010, I was excited to find all those new artists and follow their careers. Since I have been writing at Graphicpolicy.com, I have and many of fellow contributors devoted many of my reviews to finding artists who would otherwise not be seen by the mainstream media and that book embodied one of our goals, to highlight indie creators and publishers. In the sequel, Black Comix Returns, which was released this year, and Kickstarted last year, the reader gets a more comprehensive overview of the artists that have sprung since .One of the first creators, that caught my eye, Paris Alleyne, whose aesthetic has a serious Anime influence, and writes a book called Haven, one he works on with Kevin Parnell.

Enrique Carrion’s essay, Comics as Hip Hop, draws an interesting parallel between the evolution of hip hop music and how black comic book artists/writers, are injecting their aesthetics into mainstream comics. Shawnee & Shawnelle Gibbs‘ book, The Invention of E.J. Whitaker, mixes steampunk with alternate history and actual historical figures like Nikola Tesla into something pretty cool. In “The Room”, Joseph Illidge talks about breaking into what some consider success, and how important it is to have a minority voice in these places. The books also highlight one of my favorite creators of all time, one whose comic book series, Blackjack, rarely gets the love it deserves, but swash buckles with the best of them.

Overall, an excellent resource to find the independent black voices that comprise what is not only considered “black comics” but what is art of the ever-changing comics landscape. This helps the reader in where you have seen each artist before and where you can find them now. This books also gives fans a list of comic book conventions where you can find most of these creators gathered together in one place. Altogether, as both a fan and a comic beat writer, this book more than suffices my need to find new creators and creators that speaks to my experience.

Edited by Damian Duffy and John Jennings
Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Movie Review: The Death of Stalin

the-death-of-stalin-posterThis is a film the Russian government doesn’t want you to see. Literally.

Banned by Putin’s government and labelled as “extremist” and “propaganda,” really this is little more than a continuation of director Armando Iannucci‘s continued skewering of government apparatchiks set against the backdrop of Soviet Russia. If you loved his previous work (In the Loop, The Thick of It, and Veep), this is more of that same brand of humor– all it’s missing is Peter Capaldi swearing very loudly.

Instead, you have an all-star cast that includes Steve Buscemi as Nikita Krushchev, Jeffrey Tambor as Georgi Malenkov, and Michael Palin as Vyacheslav Molotov. Simon Russell Beale also plays the head of the NKVD (Stalin’s secret police) and Jason Isaacs tries to steal the movie when he shows up halfway through as Zhukov, head of the Red Army. And if you know those names and institutions and who they are, you will probably also love this movie. (Yes! That Russian Studies degree finally pays off!)

Based on a comic book of the same name (which we reviewed here), it’s the same sort of bureaucratic pissing contest between insecure men which Iannucci has made a career out of skewering. The basic tension is over succession following Stalin’s (spoiler alert!) eponymous passing. At the height of Stalin’s terror and paranoia, the various apparatchiks go about plotting against one another. . .  and wackiness ensues.

A darkly hilarious early scene involves an ailing Stalin unconscious on the floor, and he has soiled himself. The Soviet leadership gathers in the room and must decide by committee vote what to do. All of the good doctors have been sent to the gulags. So do we call a bad doctor? What if Stalin recovers and blames us for calling a bad doctor? And when they finally go to pick him up to take him to a bed, no one wants to kneel in the spot where Stalin peed. That’s basically the movie– and also lots of people being shot in the head for treason.

Death of Stalin US posterThe biggest problem in the film is its failure in its lack of representation. Two women have very minor roles in this, and it in no way approaches passing Bechdel or any other test. This seems to be something people noticed about the film, as the US poster released features Andrea Riseborough as Svetlana, Stalin’s daughter. But she is barely in the film. It is also as white as a Leningrad blizzard.

If I’m going to call out films like Dunkirk and Darkest Hour for choosing to tell stories only about and involving white men, I feel the need for consistency to do so here as well. Yes, yes, yes, historical accuracy and all that, but any time you choose to tell a story only involving white men — even if it viciously satirizes them as this film does — you have to ask why we chose to make this movie and not something else.

Despite that problem, it’s still a really funny movie and something that is incredibly enjoyable– and disturbing. If any of this sounds interesting to you, you’re going to love this film and its dark humor. If not, well, there’s always Tomb Raider, A Wrinkle in Time, and Black Panther out there if you want to see an adaptation that’s a little lighter. The Death of Stalin opens in limited release March 16, expanding March 23.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Creator’s Corner: Exercises In Cartooning: Week 6

I’m a writer, not an artist. But for the next 6 weeks, I’m going to be a cartoonist.

And you can join me on this journey–not only by seeing what I do, but by completing the exercises I do along with me.

*Note* To see Week 1’s adventures, click here, to see Week 2’s adventures, click here, to see Week 3’s adventures, click here, to see Week 4’s adventures, click here, and to see Week 5’s adventures, click here.

The great cartoonist Ivan Brunetti, also a teacher of comics/cartooning, has a book that publishes his course; it is a 10 week “class” that has a few exercises for each week, some of which I might even use in my own graphic novel class.

I thought it’d be fun–especially since I’m a writer and need to challenge my skills as an artist–to run myself through his course and post each of my exercise on here.  So without further ado…

Exercise 6.1

This is what Brunetti calls a “thought exercise”; while you can jot down notes, it’s not required, and it’s not like the other exercises that require drawing.  Here’s that thought exercise:

Imagine that you’re walking in a desert and you come upon a cube.  Describe (in writing or in your head) that cube.  Think about size, texture, the material the cube is made of, whether the cube does anything (or whether the desert or something else acts on the cube, etc…).

I thought of a small cube that was made of solid silver, gleaming to reflect the whole desert like a mirror.  And–it might be cheating–but because of the desert locale, I pictured a pyramid (also small and made of silver) floating above the cube.  The cube itself sat in the sand on the desert ground.

With that in mind, we move onto the next exercise–one that uses this cube in a comic.

Exercise 6.2

This exercise focuses on creating a one-page comic that tells a story about that cube.  The main focus of this exercise, though, is to break away from a rigid, uniform panel structure and create what Brunetti calls a “hierarchical structure”.

If that sounds like some fancy edubabble, rest assured that you know what he’s talking about.  He’s talking about creating a comic that uses different sized (and possibly differently shaped) panels.  The hierarchical structure implies more subjectivity, according to Brunetti, more of a chance for the creator to emphasize and downplay details, to focus on tone, or to focus on actions in a more purposeful way.

Essentially, he argues that you should use smaller panels to convey a claustrophobic tone or convey smaller actions, effectively slowing the pace.  On the flip side,  using larger panels conveys an expansive and maybe even intimidating tone and–generally speaking–creates a quicker pace to convey big actions.   I’ve made adjustments like these to panel sizes and shapes in Rebirth of the Gangster, but I’ve still mostly adhered to a uniform grid, so this exercise was a fun reminder to vary it a little more.

Here’s my comic, which focuses on panel size but also went a step further (I’m looking for some extra-credit Brunetti!): I place smaller panels inside the bigger panel (sometimes not even using panel borders for those smaller panels) to create an even bigger sense of immensity with the bigger panel and to have some more dynamic storytelling.

I use some smaller panels to slow the pace and focus on small details (the second panel focuses on footprints in the sand and the third focuses on a foot slowly moving forward to leave one of those footprints); I also use a small panel to reiterate the sun and the heat, creating an oppressive tone (which is the closest to a claustrophobic reality this comic will get, being in the desert).

However, the bottom panels create a claustrophobic effect, not in reality but in the feel of the image.  The explorer is still in wide-open desert, but he’s dwarfed by the huge pyramid, so the panels are smaller to make him feel more confined and claustrophobic in comparison to the pyramid.  (I moved away from the cube and focused on a pyramid rising out of the ground).

The biggest panel is clearly the pyramid, but it’s filled with other smaller panels (other smaller moments): The top of the pyramid is in a separate panel to convey that the explorer only sees that at first.  That panel features a “RUMBLE” sound effect which–combined with the explorer rolling down the page in mini-panels and the ground changing (the horizontal lines)–indicates that the pyramid is rising.  I like this approach in general, because it keeps setting and the pyramid alive while still moving story/character forward with small panels, but I still need to figure out how to clarify to the reader that the pyramid is rising.  (Maybe more sound effects and a true small panel on the right side that shows the pyramid rising next to the unsteady feet of the explorer).

All in all, a fun exercise and cool product, despite that area for improvement (and yes I know I don’t have, shall we say a “classical” drawing style, so that’s an area for improvement: I have resigned myself to focusing more on improving storytelling than drafting skills for the time being, which is the bigger issue in the above comic).

Well, that’s it for this week’s cartooning exercise and model.  You can see more of my work at cjstandalproductions.com. Check out previous week’s in the above links, and I’ll see you for Week 7!

Movie Review: Tomb Raider

Tomb-Raider-posterIt’s a good video game movie! Will wonders never cease?!?

Don’t set your expectations too high, but Alicia Vikander fully brings to life the character of Lara Croft. Taking its cues from the recent successful game of Rise of the Tomb Raider, it suffers from some of the tropes inherent in any hero origin story and from the source games themselves. But mostly it plays out like an updated Indiana Jones with the trappings of Tomb Raider added in, which is both a good and a bad thing.

Our story follows a young Croft, orphaned when her father disappeared on a hunt for an ancient tomb of the “Death Queen” Himiko. When Lara inherits puzzles that her father left behind, she finds his research and takes up the search for herself, convinced that her father may still be alive.

It’s this grounding in humanity, grief and sorrow Lara feels that makes this so relatable to us as an audience, even if the plot is somewhat predictable.

Vikander is also joined by Walton Goggins as the story’s antagonist. Goggins always brings a gleeful sociopathic vibe to whenever he inhabits a villain, and he does this incredibly well here as well. There’s also a brief cameo from Nick Frost, who gives the film one of its funnier moments– even in a movie with lots of humor used to cut the tension.

On top of all of that, the film is action-packed. We barely go ten minutes ever without something happening. Even more impressive is Vikander’s commitment to the role and doing her own stunts, which director Roar Uthaug uses to give us crystal clear close ups of her face during some of the film’s most harrowing moments.

So, yes, it does feel like it treads a lot of the same ground as the Indiana Jones movies. But coming from a video game franchise that has been doing that for decades, that’s not entirely unpredictable — or even a bad thing. It’s sort of like complaining a band ripped off The Beatles. Yeah, so does everybody. It still sounds good.

In a genre which includes Assassin’s Creed, Super Mario Brothers, Street Fighter, Double Dragon, Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil, Hitman, Warcraft, and the other two Tomb Raider movies starring Angelina Jolie, the question you always ask yourself is “Would I have rather spent those two hours playing the video game?” In literally every other video game movie, the answer is a profound yes, making them failures as films. This film made me want to go play Rise of the Tomb Raider. Congrats to everyone involved.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Panel To Chords: Instrumental by Dave Chisoholm

NEW EPISODE OF PANELS TO CHORDS. This time, Ben and Maddi review Instrumental by Dave Chisoholm, a comic about a struggling trumpet player wanting to become the best musician he can, but he might inadvertently bring on the apocalypse in the process. Instrumental is a unique reading experience with a concept album by the writer/artist. What better way to talk about comics and music then a comic with original music to accompany it?

Dave Chisholm’s bandcamp for the concept album:

« Older Entries