Tag Archives: graphic novel

Review: Heretics: The Wondrous (and Dangerous) Beginnings of Modern Philosophy

Heretics: The Wondrous (and Dangerous) Beginnings of Modern PhilosophyThe world is consumed by philosophy in one way or the other. Every world leader and leader of industry has either read, studied, and modeled their leadership approach after some “school of thought”. A lot of these concepts came from some thinkers were often ahead of their time. Many of these philosophers were not thought of as geniuses until after their time on this earth.

New Ideas are encouraged and even celebrated now, but it has ot always been this way. Names like Galileo and Descartes, have lead the way in how we view the human condition, especially Descartes and the “duality of man.”. What many people fail to realize or forget to remember, is that their way of thinking was so far ahead of their time that it was not only unpopular but often meant misfortune for most these brilliant minds. In Steven and Ben Nadler’s Heretics, they venture to tell the stories of these brave minds.

Their book starts off with one of the most controversial concepts, by Giordano Bruno, who was the first to devise that the Earth was not the center of the universe. Then it delves into every controversial concept throughout the 17th century crisscrossing all over Europe, enlightening the world to different men, who introduced controversial and different concepts that were often deemed dangerous. The introduction of these ideas often excommunication, and even death, and yet every one of these men stood tall, despite knowing the possible consequences. By Book’s end the reader has a full understanding of each of these philosophers, some relying on divine providence, and others, faith in their beliefs

Overall, an excellent book which gives the reader a concise and chronological history of philosophy from the 17th century. The story by Seven Nadler, is definitely written with passion, as his love for these subjects shine through every panel. The art by Ben Nadler, is vibrant and gorgeous. Altogethe,r an great book, that even if you don’t like philosophy, will still feel the subjects of this book.

Story: Steven Nadler Art: Ben Nadler
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Food Porn Anthology

Food Porn AnthologyWhen it comes to erotica and comics, most readers are too shy to venture into this realm, because of the subject matter. Sex Criminals, from Image, has been successful throughout the mainstream audience because sex is used as a plot device versus being the narrative. Sex, from Image as well, is more direct, as it tackles some sex and lifestyle related questions to versions of some well-known characters. Both examples, still never quite “puts their foot” totally in the water, but the recent anthology, Food Porn, doesn’t always only not shy away, from the subject matter it full on embraces it, sensuality and all intermixed with the insatiability of food.

Food Porn Anthology, the sizable tome is divided into “savory,” ” sweet” and “sweet and savory” sections, signaling the reader of just what type of food to expect from each tale. In the first story “Following Directions,” a couple tries a new recipe, which unexpectedly gives way to a demon who unlocks all their secret desires, for sex and food. In “Safe Harbor,” a local fisherman, finds a merman and a merwoman, and has quite a ravenous time with them both.  In “Food Talk,” a couple where one is new to a transition, renew their love through food and ultimately through sex. In ‘Quick Distraction,” one half of a couple struggles to cook dinner by themselves for the first time, while the other watches on and criticizes, until the other decides to turn the tables and turn the other one on. In “The Lion and The Lamb,” a couple hilariously describes a recipe while making love.

In “Knead and Rise,” an elvish couple decides to some morning fun when the local delivery woman stops by their bakery earlier than expected, and joins in the fun. In” Breakfast In Bed,” two chefs, who just so happen to be a couple, one half decides to make breakfast for them every morning, until the other stops and tells her boyfriend that she wants something just as much, sex in the morning. In “Complex Spice,” A girlfriend comes home from a trip, terribly missing her boyfriend and his cooking, which turns into an orgy of food ad sex between them. In “Overload,” a demon stops an intruder which turns into a wild sex romp which involves a whole lot of chocolate.

In “A La Mode,” a woman and her robot boyfriend, recreate their own version of that infamous scene from When Harry Met Sally. In “Raspberry Heart,” a man must have sex to fight gelatinous chocolate mousse monster, in this funny story. In “A Little Different,” a couple while enjoying food, decides to switch roles in their sex life for one night, leading to unbridled passion being unleashed. In “Nectar,” a demon couple indulges in some nectar and in a threesome. In “Crumble,” a couple who engages in S&M, decides to engage in some breakfast and some role play. In “Seaside Sweethearts,” a couple having a picnic for breakfast enjoy their food and each other. In “Red Summer,” a crush at an open-air market turns from a love of pomegranates to a love for each other. In “Red Bean Buns,” while working on a recipe, endlessly tease other, before finally indulging into sex. In the last story “The Munchies,” an intense craving for food lead a couple to having some afternoon delight.

Overall, a fun and amatory book that does not shy away of voracious appetites people have for food and sex, as it a true celebration of sex positivity. The stories contained are all funny, sexy, and relatable. The art by al the artists, each beautiful and complement the stories well. Altogether, an excellent tribute to food and sex in all its glory.

Story: Aero Zero, Apollo Pop, Ariel Vittori, Aud Koch, Blue Delliquanti, Boltplum, Crystal Jayme, Dechanique, Dumpling Heart, Gina Biggs, Jamie Jennings, Jess Fink, Kickingshoes, Kori Michele, Megan Gedris, Molly Ostertag, Niki Smith, S.W. Searle, Tessa Woodis, Tsukiyono
Art: Aero Zero, Apollo Pop, Ariel Vittori, Aud Koch, Blue Delliquanti, Boltplum, Crystal Jayme, Dechanique, Dumpling Heart, Gina Biggs, Jamie Jennings, Jess Fink, Kickingshoes, Kori Michele, Megan Gedris, Molly Ostertag, Niki Smith, S.W. Searle, Tessa Woodis, Tsukiyono
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Metabarons Volume 2 Aghnar & Oda

Metabarons Volume 2 Aghnar & OdaFollowing in your family’s footsteps can be hard. Throughout history, men either live up to family name or don’t. The legacy John Adams, left his son, John Quincy Adams, is probably one of the most interesting to have been realized. Being of our first presidents, John Adams, had to blaze his own trail and disprove his detractors.

His son, John Quincy Adams, years later, would do the same, but also surpass his father’s legacy. The Bushes would be of a different pedigree and caliber than the Adams family. Nonetheless, also in that relationship, the son surpassed the father. IN the second volume of Metabarons, we meet Aghnar, the s of the first Metabaron, a man very must formidable and even more powerful than his father.

In the opening pages of Metabarons Volume 2 Aghnar & Oda, we meet Aghnar, already battle tested and for the first time, meeting someone who can possibly destroy him, the Witches of Shabda-Oud. As his mother gets destroyed by the Witches, they as have cursed his father, and Aghnar must kill him, to save the empire. Soon after, he must marry a princess to rule effectively, where he fights to win the hand of Oda The Capricious, a princess who is said to be a sort of prophet, by killing the suitor she was promised.  By book’s end, the empire is in trouble, but his love is saved and someone from his past miraculously returns.

Overall; Metabarons Volume 2 Aghnar & Oda is a great story, this book is the defining  installment in this series, as it not only solidified it as a space opera, but an epic. The story by Alejandro Jodorowsky is tormenting, beautiful and but ultimately satisfying. The art by Juan Gimenez proves he is one fo the artists who gets space operas right. Altogether, a fine installment which proves that this series was ahead of its time.

Story: Alejandro Jodorowsky  Art: Juan Gimenez
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: My Pretty Vampire

Vampire movies are its own sub-genre, as it has may different takes on the mythology. There is ever popular Blade movie series, where they act more like an underground club scene. There is the Underworld movie series, which shows it as them a hidden aristocracy. There is also Lost Boys, which encapsulated 80s teenage angst in a supernatural world.

My favorite takes on the genre, tend to be the ones that challenged perceptions, the brilliant What We Do In The Shadows which riotously tackles all the well-traveled tropes within the genre. Then there is the under watched Let the Right One In, a dark tale about a young vampire. I always wondered how this tale would be if it was more lighthearted, which Katie Skelley, does so vividly in My Pretty Vampire.

We meet a young vampire by the name of Clover, and just like every young girl, is, lovely and full of energy, but unlike most young girls, is a vampire. She is kept home by her brother, Marcel, ever since she was bit and became a vampire, until one night when she escapes their house. Marcel hires a vampire hunter to track her down, as dozens of bodies lay in her wake, By book’s end, Clover experience life itself for the first time but also finds herself, and ultimately get a sweet revenge on her brother.

Overall, a story that takes me back those European Vampire movies form the 1970s, but better. The story by Katie Skelly is dark, funny, and intuitive. The art by Skelly is incandescent and the way she draws is quite gorgeous. Altogether, more than an enjoyable tale of vampires, but a stimulating nostalgia trip.

Story: Katie Skelly Art: Katie Skelly
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: BUY NOW

The Forbidden Chamber: An Interview with Sarah Searle About Gothic Tales of Haunted Love

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cover art by Leslie Doyle, logo by Dylan Todd

Sarah Searle brings a new twist to the gothic genre and an old tale in her story for Bedside Pressanthology Gothic Tales of Haunted Love. A fundraising campaign is currently running on Kickstarter and you can read more about it in this previous article.

Searle’s story, “Ladies of the Lake”, is Searle’s “spin on the classic Bluebeard tale, incorporating some Arthurian themes over a setting of spooky 1920s Wales.”

The new themes and setting is one twist Searle gives this source material, but this story is even a slight departure for Searle herself. “I’ve done a good amount of historical fiction at this point, but I’m allowing myself to stylize it and go a bit darker this time, which sets it apart from my past works that focus more on research.”

Although Searle hasn’t “read anything from that time period [the 1970s gothic romance comics that inspired this anthology]”, she is “a great lover of gothic literature and romance comics, so it was a natural fit!”

It was such a good fit, in fact, that she “had this story already written, just waiting for the perfect home. ‘Ladies of the Lake’ references some of [her] favorite books, including Northanger Abbey, so [she pays] homage to [her] own inspirations as well.”

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“Ladies of the Lake” by Searle

Searle elaborates on her love of Northanger Abbey: “Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey is a delightful play on the gothic romance genre back when it was much fresher, which is an enjoyable read.”

But Northanger Abbey isn’t her only gothic inspiration, as Searle explains: “I also love Terry Pratchett’s Carpe Jugulum for a healthy dose of vampire romance. I suppose I’m drawn more toward humorous, satirical approaches these days, but I can’t help but love taking it seriously sometimes, too.”

And Searle doesn’t just create and read gothic stories–she plays them too, as she explains: “My D&D group recently finished the Curse of Strahd campaign and I really enjoyed seeing the romance and drama unfold amongst the NPCs.”  

When discussing Hope Nicholson and Sam Beiko, the two editors in charge of the anthology, Searle had nothing but good things to say: “I haven’t worked directly with Sam before but she’s had great feedback for my script, and Hope is always super on top of the business side.”

Having worked with NIcholson on The Secret Loves of Geek Girls, Searle had already experienced Nicholson’s business acumen.  In particular, she commented on how “everyone in publishing is so busy all the time, which often means (understandably) long waits on emails, so [she] extra appreciate[s] how quick they’ve been with communication.”

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The Secret Loves of Geek Girls Kickstarter Edition Art by Gisele Lagace and Shouri

Searle offers one last word on the Gothic Tales anthology itself: “I’m especially excited for the comic my friend Hien Pham is working on, about a man who gets help from a friendly ghost during the Vietnam War”, a comic covered in this interview with Pham.

But this anthology isn’t the only place to see Searle’s work.  Much of her work can be seen on her website, www.swinsea.com.  Searle is passionate about her site, putting in the same effort in designing it as she would her comics, saying, “I started it back when I was a new media major learning coding and web design, and I don’t know if I could ever leave it behind. It’s like I’ve built this time capsule that tracks my whole career.”

She continues to express her passion for her site: “I keep it mostly for myself, but I do see that it gets regular traffic, and I like knowing people can get a taste of my work even while I’m toiling away on books that won’t see the light of day for years to come. Plus the accessibility of webcomics has been so important to me, I try to put as much out there as possible.

As seen in the images above, both the anthology piece and the pieces posted on her website, Searle avoids extensive cross hatching and weighing her work down with unnecessary details.  

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Searle’s “Ruined” from Oni Press/Rosy Press’s Fresh Romance

Part of this comes from her many inspirations.  While “it changes all the time,” Searle lately has “been studying the works of Hayao Miyazaki and Jillian Tamaki in particular”, artists known for conveying much emotion and story in few lines.

As Searle herself says, “’I’m very story-focused so my art ends up on the minimalist side, and I want to learn from artists like [Miyazaki and Tamaki] who seem to really understand just how much detail is needed in a character design or environment to convey meaningful nuance.”

Reflecting on “Ladies of Lake” and her other work Searle concludes, “I’m proud of all the comics I’ve made for various reasons, but I’m also generally pretty happy to leave them in the past. I learn so much from every project I do, even the small ones. Even if I don’t feel confident about the quality of story or art anymore, I’m proud of myself from making them so I could grow into the better storyteller that I am today –– and still growing, I hope!”

Anyone interested in more of Searle’s work can follow her on Twitter and study her online portfolio while waiting for Gothic Tales to release!


CJ Standal is no stranger to Kickstarter, having run a successful Kickstarter for his comic Rebirth of the Gangster, for sale as a print copy or an ebook now!  Find out more about him at cjstandalproductions.com.

Z2 Comics’ Murder Ballads Gets a Single and a Preview

Z2 Comics has published the eagerly anticipated Murder Ballads original soundtrack by bluesman Robert Finley and Grammy-Award winner Dan Auerbach and the graphic novel by writer Gabe Soria and artists Paul Reinwand and Chris Hunt, now on sale wherever books are sold. The Murder Ballads Original Soundtrack includes Finley and Auerbach’s cover of the classic Leadbelly song “In the Pines” and four original songs—“Bang Bang,”“Butter Sandwich”, “The Empty Arms” and “Three Jumpers”—created specifically by Finley and Auerbach to accompany the Murder Ballads graphic novel about the music industry and redemption. The standard edition Murder Ballads graphic novel includes downloadable codes to the original soundtrack.

Z2 Comics has released the single “Bang Bang” from the Murder Ballads original soundtrack, which is only available with the purchase of the graphic novel and will not be sold separately:

A meditation on music, obsession and how far someone will go to see their vision become real, MURDER BALLADS follows the fall and reinvention of Nate Theodore, the dead-broke and deadbeat owner of a failing record label who is on a cross-country drive in the dead of winter, fleeing the wreckage of his business and trying to save his crumbling marriage. Nate is given an unexpected chance to reverse his fortunes when, during a stop in a desolate rust belt town, he “discovers” Donny and Marvell Fontweathers, two African-American brothers who play a raucous brand of doom-laden country blues.

Later this fall, Mondo will also release a Limited Edition Murder Ballads Original Vinyl Soundtrack and Graphic Novel which will retail for $200, featuring original album cover art by Jon Langford. Langford’s the acclaimed visual artist by and large best known for his striking portraits of country and rock music icons including Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley. In addition limited edition prints by Tyler Boss will be released.

BOOM!, Wet Hot American Summer Gets a Graphic Novel

BOOM! Studios, Enter These Dark Woods, and Creative Licensing have announced the Wet Hot American Summer original graphic novel, arriving in stores June 2018. Set in between the eponymous film and Netflix prequel series, your favorite characters from Camp Firewood return for an all-new story in this first-ever graphic fiction tie-in to the franchise.

Wet Hot American Summer is the renowned 2001 cult comedy classic starring Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, Molly Shannon, and many others. Written by Michael Showalter, and David Wain, and directed by Wain, this iconic film was the launching pad for many comedy greats. The Netflix series, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, was released in Summer 2015, and a follow-up Netflix series, Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years Later, was released this summer.

Neil Gaiman’s Only the End of the World Again in January

Dark Horse will release a new deluxe hardcover edition of Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed Lovecraftian tale, Only the End of the World Again. The graphic novel blends the worlds of H.P. Lovecraft and Roger Zelazny.

The book follows a claims adjuster who sets up shop in Innsmouth, Massachusetts only to discover that the world may be ending and that the instrument of destruction is a werewolf… which he also happens to be.

Based on a short story written by Gaiman, the new edition is adapted by P. Craig Russell, illustrated by Troy Nixey, and colored for the collection by Matthew Hollingsworth. Russell is no stranger to creating faithful adaptations of Gaiman’s work as he’s also adapting his American Gods.

This new hardcover edition features a brand new cover by Troy Nixey and Matthew Hollingsworth with bonus material including high resolution scans of the inks and layouts. This is the another offering from the expanding Neil Gaiman Library at Dark Horse, which also includes Forbidden Brides, Troll Bridge, and How to Talk to Girls at Parties (soon to be a motion picture).

Only the End of the World Again is available January 24, 2018.

Review: The Not-So Secret Society

Matthew and Arlene Daley’s Not-So Secret Society promises an adventure appropriate of all ages, crafted by its creators’ background as parents and educators. In my initial review of the preview material I expressed tentative optimism toward the work, an engaging and original story about five friends and a machine that can bring candy to life; my only hesitation was born not from the comic itself but from the promises made by others like it. Educator-made comics, I noted then, often sacrifice quality for instructional relevance.

Having had the chance to read the full volume, I’m relieved to say that The Not-So Secret Society is not guilty of the crimes of its peers. The Daleys have crafted a story that integrates a healthy enthusiasm for the principles and curricula of S.T.E.M. (that’s fancy teacherspeak for “science, technology, engineering, and math”) while keeping true to the core of the world they’ve crafted.

In talking about what The Not-So Secret Society does right as an educator’s comic, it’s ironically most important to discuss the parts of the comic that don’t explicitly deal with educational material. We first meet Ava, Aiden, Madison, Dylan, and Emma – the titular “Not-So Secret Society – as they attempt to crack open a doorway to a mystical world in a subway station. From the outset, it becomes clear that this is a work that is not so overly concerned with its educational aims that it will forgo making a little mischief along the way. What’s more, the fleeting glimpse of something closing the mystical portal from the other side suggests what the Society might find itself exploring next, or it might be a clever sight gag: either way, it’s a promise that this story is not so enamored with the hard sciences that it forgets the crucial role that imagination plays in any kind of learning.

As I read on, it became clear that the Daleys were driving toward that exact point with their story. The Society’s involvement in a city-wide science fair, a rivalry with fellow scientist team The 5Zs, and the revelation that their “living candy” experiment all quickly swerves the work toward science fiction rather than science fact, and left me wondering about the classroom application of the work as a whole – that is, until I stopped reading the work as a testament to the joys of hard science and started to appreciate it for what it was: an extremely well-crafted work about the importance of ethics and morality in the S.T.E.M. fields.  While there is a little light science mixed in here and there, the bulk of the narrative seems far more interested in the why and how rather than the what – a unique angle that’s both far more essential and much more engaging.

When the results of the Society’s science fair endeavors come to light, so do questions about why science-minded kids like them might go into the field to begin with. Is it for fame and adoration, as seems to be the case with their rivals in the 5Zs, or is it, as Aiden puts it, to invent things for themselves? It is after all when the Society stops focusing on trying to upstage their peers that their work gets the most traction: though they miss out on the big prize, their work gains them the respect of a visiting scientist and an open invitation to visit her at a neighboring museum.  The message is one of collaboration over commercialism, functionality over publicity, ethics over ego. It’s a monumentally timely message for students leaning toward the fast-paced and results-focused field of applied science.

Taken as a comic book, The Not-So Secret Society does a great deal to make itself visually as well as conceptually appealing. Wook Jin Clark’s art style is reminiscent of the Saturday morning cartoons I grew up on with a bit of a manga flare thrown in for good measure (note the exaggerated “shock” lines when a character is taken by surprise, or the phantom limbs that mark where arms and legs were when a character makes a quick gesture). The paneling that makes up most pages is clean and easy to follow, frequently broken up by splash pages that do a wonderful job of setting the tone and scope of the Society’s world while making exceptional use of Elonora Bruni’s immensely varied color palette. The world of the Society looks expansive, vibrant, and alive, the perfect mix for the enthusiasm that the Society (and the Daleys) bring to the story.

Following the main work are a dozen-plus short comics using the central Society characters and showcasing their further exploits in school, around town, and elsewhere. Each is put together by a slightly different creative team and all do a nice job fleshing out the main characters – which, if I’m being fair, is the one area that the main story fell a little flat.  The backup stories do a nice job of expanding on the Society members’ personal quirks, something the central did in passing whenever it could but never had the time to which to devote a great deal of exposition. Also of note is a series of reading guide questions following the story, which I will go into in more detail in an upcoming review.

Suffice to say that The Not-So Secret Society avoids all of pratfalls of other educator-comics by being original enough to be a work all its own. NS3 is a comic that is not concerned with educational content but educational practice, and thereby becomes something of a uniqueness amid the myriad of S.T.E.M. works already on the market. From an educator’s standpoint, The Not-So Secret Society certainly has a place in elementary- and middle-grade classrooms, both as a way to introduce an interest in the potential for the future of hard sciences and to act as a sort of ethical calibrator.  The Daley’s work serves to expose students to not only what they can do with a background in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, but why and how they ought to do it.

Nilah Magruder’s Award Winning M.F.K. Comes to Insight Comics

Insight Comics has announced the debut of its first original graphic novel M.F.K. written and illustrated by cartoonist Nilah Magruder. Magurder is the recipient of the 2015 inaugural Dwayne McDuffie Diversity Award. M.F.K. is a YA, fantasy and adventure story, that is destined to become another classic.

M.F.K. is a watershed in offering stories of diverse bodies and abilities. Centering on an adventurous, deaf young hero named Abbie, M.F.K. introduces readers to a desert planet full of sandstorms, mythical beasts, and villains at every turn. Injured in her travels, Abbie befriends some locals who nurse her back to health. When those friends are besieged by outsiders, Abbie is forced to reveal her true self and use her gifts on a quest for solace despite having lost the things most dear to her.

The series was originally released as a webcomic in 2012. Its generated a loyal and dedicated following. It comes to shelves September 26, 2017. Running 128 pages, the graphic novel will retail for $24.99.

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