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Clint McElroy Talks the Adventure Zone and Mind MGMT

Matt Kindt‘s Mind MGMT was a trippy comic series that begins as a journalist attempting to discover the truth and turns into a globe-trotting mystery series about espionage, super spies, and psychic abilities. Originally published by Dark Horse, Kindt has released a special limited edition one-shot and has returned via Kickstarter for an unusual spin.

Mind MGMT is returning as a stand-alone comic and a read-along 7″ vinyl record by Kindt and Clint McElroy.

Not only can you get a brand new comic but also a record to go along with it. There’s also new offerings like a Jack Chick-style tract formant mini-comic, a miniature painting, and even a set of four prints by Jeff Lemire, David Rubin, Jim Rugg, and amother surprise artist that will be revealed at the end of the Kickstarter.

In Mind MGMT, a former secret agent, the mysterious Henry Lyme, has gone rogue and is working to dismantle the organization he once worked for. There’s a mysterious airline flight and a secret government agency of super spies. This story spans from the 1920’s to the present day—and things get weird.

The new Mind MGMT comic book is a full color, 24 page comic with a gatefold in the back that will hold the record in place. The Mind MGMT 7″ 33 1/3 RPM record will be pressed by United Record Pressing, the company which printed the Beatles’ first 7″.

Joining Kindt is Clint McElroy, a voice actor and the writer of comic books including King of the USAand co-writer of The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins, who does all the voice acting for the audio track. Kindt and McElroy will be donating 10% of the profits to the Hispanic Federation, the nation’s premier Latino nonprofit membership organization which is aiding Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Irma. Founded in 1990, Hispanic Federation seeks to support Hispanic families and strengthen Latino institutions through work in the areas of education, health, immigration, civic engagement, economic empowerment, and the environment.

With a little over two days to go for the Kickstarter, I got a chance to ask Clint McElroy some questions about Mind MGMT as well as The Adventure Zone!

Graphic Policy: I wanted to start by congratulating you on the release of The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins graphic novel, which is based off of the D&D and Fantasy podcast of the same name from yourself, and your sons, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, and Travis McElroy.

With how successful My Brother, My Brother, and Me, and The Adventure Zone podcasts have been, it’s only natural that you advance the brands in other mediums. What about comic books and graphic novels attracted you guys?

Clint McElroy: I have been a comic book reader for more than half a century (as my two over-flowing storage buildings will prove). I think it is an extremely evocative form of story-telling that can involve a reader in a powerful way. I also like capes.

GP: Your character on the show and in the book is Merle Highchurch, a Dwarf Cleric. What were the inspirations behind coming up with this character?

CM: I played a lot of World of Warcraft and could always find groups needed healers, so I was drawn to the cleric. I chose Dwarf because I am 5’11 & 3/4” tall. I never quite made it to six feet, so I have height issues.

GP: What was it like working with artist Carey Piestch on the book?

CM: Carey is remarkable. She loves these characters even more than we do…(and some of them, she may love more).

GP: Did you play D&D before The Adventure Zone?

CM: It seems impossible to some people, but until I recorded that first episode with Justin, Travis, and Griffin, I had never picked up a 20-sided dice.

GP: Didn’t you meet Gary Gygax, the famed co-creator of D&D?

CM: I have a vague recollection, but to be fair I’m 62. I don’t remember what I had for breakfast this morning.

GP: What are some of your favorite comics, or heroes?

CM: I was crazy about the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents from Tower Comics. Super-powered secret agents in costumes?! Drawn by Wally Wood, Gil Kane and Steve Ditko?! GET OUTTA TOWN!! It was the best. (So whoever has the rights: Let’s take a meeting!)

GP: Do you plan on doing more volumes of The Adventure Zone graphic novel based on the other campaigns you’ve done on the podcast?

CM: The Guys and I are working on the second graphic novel based on our second Balance Arc, Murder on the Rockport Limited.

GP: I’m a father of two young children. I would love to know, how does it feel to be able to spend so much time with your sons making comedy?

CM: With my hand up, it’s the best aspect of this whole thing. Not only do I get to hang out with them, and talk to them, but I get to CREATE things with them. I’m the luckiest bastiche on the planet.

GP: You’re also working on a Kickstarter version of the MIND MGMT comic by Matt Kindt which is accompanied by a read along 7” vinyl record where you will be providing the narration. What was it like working on the project?

CM: The Mind MGMT project was MIND-blowing (see what I did there?) I am a fairly rabid Matt Kindt fan, and couldn’t wait to record this. Then I started doing it and got so caught up in Matt’s story, I actually would get thrown off the rails. I would have to back up and right myself, trying not to be so engaged in the story as a reader that I stopped being a performer. It’s that good. I must have done okay because he didn’t fire me.

GP: Thank you for your time, Clint! I look forward to many more of your adventures.

Matt Kindt’s Mind MGMT Returns as an Original Read-Along Comic Book

Matt Kindt‘s Mind MGMT was a trippy comic series that begins as a journalist attempting to discover the truth and turns into a globe-trotting mystery series about espionage, super spies, and psychic abilities. Originally published by Dark Horse, Kindt has released a special limited edition one-shot and is now heading to Kickstarter for an unusual spin.

Mind MGMT is returning as a stand-alone comic and a read-along 7″ vinyl record by Kindt and Clint McElroy.

In Mind MGMT, a former secret agent, the mysterious Henry Lyme, has gone rogue and is working to dismantle the organization he once worked for. There’s a mysterious airline flight and a secret government agency of super spies. This story spans from the 1920’s to the present day—and things get weird.

The new Mind MGMT comic book is a full color, 24 page comic with a gatefold in the back that will hold the record in place. The Mind MGMT 7″ 33 1/3 RPM record will be pressed by United Record Pressing, the company which printed the Beatles’ first 7″.

Joining Kindt is Clint McElroy, a voice actor and the writer of comic books including King of the USA and co-writer of The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins, who does all the voice acting for the audio track. Kindt and McElroy will be donating 10% of the profits to the Hispanic Federation, the nation’s premier Latino nonprofit membership organization which is aiding Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Irma. Founded in 1990, Hispanic Federation seeks to support Hispanic families and strengthen Latino institutions through work in the areas of education, health, immigration, civic engagement, economic empowerment, and the environment.

The project is live as of July 10th and runs for 30 days.

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Trees01_CoverWednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in. Below are ten suggestions of comics, graphic novels, or trade paperbacks you should spend some extra time checking out.

Top Pick: Trees #1 (Image Comics) – Ten years after they landed. All over the world. And they did nothing, standing on the surface of the Earth like trees, exerting their silent pressure on the world, as if there were no-one here and nothing under foot. Ten years since we learned that there is intelligent life in the universe, but that they did not recognize us as intelligent or alive. Beginning a new science fiction series by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard.

Ten years after they landed. All over the world. And they did nothing, standing on the surface of the Earth like trees, exerting their silent pressure on the world, as if there were no-one here and nothing under foot. Ten years since we learned that there is intelligent life in the universe, but that they did not recognize us as intelligent or alive. Beginning a new science fiction graphic novel by WARREN ELLIS and JASON HOWARD – See more at: http://imagecomics.com/comics/releases/trees-1#sthash.WWkb1Y5K.dpuf
Ten years after they landed. All over the world. And they did nothing, standing on the surface of the Earth like trees, exerting their silent pressure on the world, as if there were no-one here and nothing under foot. Ten years since we learned that there is intelligent life in the universe, but that they did not recognize us as intelligent or alive. Beginning a new science fiction graphic novel by WARREN ELLIS and JASON HOWARD – See more at: http://imagecomics.com/comics/releases/trees-1#sthash.WWkb1Y5K.dpuf

Black Science Vol. 1: Hot to Fall Forever (Image Comics) – Collecting the first six issues of the series, Black Science is a trippy sci-fi filled adventure series that’s one of the most exciting on the market.

Chew/Revival #1 (Image Comics) – The two comic series come together for a fun story that shows it from both series’ perspectives. It shouldn’t work, but it does!

Doctor Spektor #1 (Dynamite) – Another Gold Key release from Dynamite, this one has Mark Waid writing!

The Fuse #4 (Image Comics) – Take a detective series and put it on a space station. So good.

Ms. Marvel #4 (Marvel) – The Marvel series has been a breath of fresh air, introducing us to a new heroine, diverse cast, and some amazing art.

The Midas Flesh #6 (BOOM! Studios/BOOM! Box) – This series is out of this world, but a fun cast, action packed story, and awesome art as well. One of our favorites!

Mind MGMT #22 (Dark Horse) – One of the best comics on the market. Matt Kindt‘s series is moving along and shows what can be done with the long game when it comes to storytelling. So many layers, so freaking good.

Skullkickers #27 (Image Comics) – Comics can be fun and writer Jim Zub‘s off the rails fantasy adventure is a perfect example of that.

Star Wars: Rebel Heist #2 (Dark Horse) – Another Matt Kindt entry. The talented writer has been knocking it out of the park when it comes to this series so far.

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

The Bunker #2There are lots of choices each week to choose from as far as comics hitting the shelves. We go through the releases and let you know what we think are your best bets for comics to read.

This week’s top pick is The Bunker. What’s this issue about? Check it out:

Each of the friends must decide their fates, as they’re faced with the first day of the rest of their lives. By the end, lines are drawn between the Believers and the Skeptics, while another shadowy figure from the future is watching them to make sure they all decide ‘correctly.’

Check out what else we think you should give a shot this Wednesday!

Top Pick: The Bunker #2 (Oni Press) – The first issue was a sell-out and had folks buzzing. Oni has announced this book has already sold out at the distributor level. Make sure to grab a copy if you can find one, and if you haven’t, get the first issue too!

Furious #3 (Dark Horse) – The series that looks at fame with a superhero twist continues. This issue just dives in to take on the issue of misogyny.

Hacktivist #3 (BOOM! Studios) – BOOM!’s take on modern activism is entertaining and gets people to think with every issue.

Mind MGMT #20 (Dark Horse) – A great starting spot for the excellent Matt Kindt series.

Pariah #2 (Dark Horse) – This story of genetically modified children has been impressive so far. Where it goes has got be very interested, and at the edge of my seat.

Silver Surfer #1 (Marvel) – Dan Slott’s take on Marvel’s classic character begins here!

Skullkickers #25 (Image Comics) – Jim Zub’s off the rails fantasy adventure continues after a bit of a hiatus.

Transformers: Dark Cybertron Finale (IDW Publishing) – The end to what has been an epic event that has given us so much awesome.

The Walking Dead #124 (Image Comics) – The battle with Negan continues and I expect more fireworks!

The Wake #7 (Vertigo) – Scott Snyder and Sean Phillips’ series has shifted for it’s second volume catapulting us into the future to see what the Earth is like now that the undersea creatures have attacked. It’s a different series, with a different tone, but works so well as a continuation.

Graphic Novel/Trade Paperback Top Pick: The Red Team Vol. 1 (Dynamite Entertainment) – Garth Ennis’ crooked cop series is gathered together for this first volume. If you’re a fan of cop tales, this is a must read.

Around the Tubes

It’s new comic day tomorrow! What’s everyone excited for? Check out some comic news you might have missed below.

Around the Tubes

CBR – “Mind MGMT” Screenwriter Will Pen “The Wolverine” Sequel – Interesting.

Kotaku – Crimea’s New Attorney General Reacts to Her Internet Fandom – So weird.

Kotaku – Future Batman Glows In The Dark (And Is Really Old) – Some cool art.

CBR – Allison Types: Is Competition Always Good? – A good read and good ideas.

Around the Tubes Reviews

CBR – Ms. Marvel #2

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Hacktivist_001_rev_Page_1It’s new comic book day tomorrow and while there’s a lot of fantastic releases, particularly not by the big two, we’ve slimmed down the massive list to 10 comics for you to check out. This week, I’m flying solo for the top choices, so here’s what I look forward to this week.

Top Pick: Hacktivist #1 (Archaia/BOOM! Studios) – I’ve been looking forward to this series debut since it was announced at last year’s San Diego Comic-Con. Two of the world’s top tech industry leaders are also hacktivists during their free time. This look at politics in a technology age should be interesting.

All-New Invaders #1 (Marvel) – Marvel’s original super hero team is back to deal with a danger in the modern age.

Bo Plushy Gangsta #1 (Action Lab) – The images I’ve seen for this new series puts it on the list. A foul mouthed teddy bear is just too awesome to not check out and I recommend you do too.

Deadly Class #1 (Image Comics) – Rick Remender’s name is on this series. That alone makes it a pick for me. This deadliest school where the next generation of assassins sounds a lot like another Image series, Five Weapons, Remender’s name on it will make it stand out.

Hawkeye #16 (Marvel) – The fact this series topped numerous “best of” lists last year should be reason enough for you to check it out.

Henry and Glenn Forever and Ever #3 – From Microcosm Publishing, I found out about this series at last year’s SPX. Subversive and awesome, the series has two guys who look a lot like Glenn Danzig and Henry Rollins and they’re much closer than band mates.

Jack Hammer #1 (Action Lab) – Great detective action from a solid independent publisher.

Mind MGMT #18 (Dark Horse) – Another series that was on a lot of “best of” lists last year. This is a series you’re probably best starting from the beginning and it is worth it.

Scribblenauts Unmasked: Crisis of Imagination #1 (DC Comics) – I love the Scribblenauts video game series. The fact this mixes that with DC characters makes it more awesome.

The X-Files: Conspiracy: Ghostbusters #1 (IDW Publishing) – The first issue of this series which has the Lone Gunmen looking at the various phenomenon in the IDW universe is amazing.

Best Comics of 2013

It’s the first day of a new year and so that means we’re doing our “best of” listing of the top comic books for 2013. Generally these are comic books that came out in 2013, though some are from earlier times and I got around to reading them, or limited series that continued. Keep in mind, this is what I have read. If it’s not on here, I just might not have read it.

Best Super Hero Comic – Hawkeye

Hawkeye_2_CoverHawkeye, Marvel Comics’ least likely hit is as cool as the minimalist covers by David Aja. Written by Matt Fraction with art by Aja among others, Hawkeye follows the Avenger and shows him not as his cockiest (as portrayed elsewhere), but instead as a character who isn’t totally sure of himself. The series is a deconstruction of this hero, putting him at the street level, as likely to take on Hydra as his is some petty street thugs who say “Bro” a lot. For that, among many reasons, the comic repeats as the best super hero series out there.

The series has a pulp sense about it, but there’s something with Hawkeye’s simple story telling that makes it stand above the rest. The art, the story, the covers, it’s all there blending perfectly. It doesn’t hurt the series also boasted some of the best single issues this year.

There’s a fantastic mix of action, humor and simple human interaction that pulls together to make it the best super hero comic I’m reading. While last year it got recognition, that seems to have grown this year, with the series earning a devoted following and it’s place on not just this list, but many others.

Runners Up:

  • All-New X-Men – This series seriously shouldn’t work, but somehow it did. Writer Brian Michael Bendis has take an idea, pulling the original X-Men to the present, and gave us a solid series that actually spun into Marvel’s best event of this year.
  • Daredevil – A strong contender for this year’s top spot, and past winner, this series is still one of the best comics on the market. Mark Waid’s writing is fantastic as he took Matt Murdock down further holes (literally and metaphorically), and gave him the struggle of dealing with a real life situation, his best friend’s fight with cancer. Next year will shake up the series, here’s hoping it doesn’t suffer.
  • FF – The art, the writing, this series is one of the craziest superhero comics out there and one with amazing heart.  Not shockingly it’s also written by Hawkeye‘s Matt Fraction.
  • The Superior Spider-Man – Much like All-New X-Men above, this series is a concept that shouldn’t work. Dan Slott has switched Peter Parker with Doc Ock and given us the struggle of a villain trying to be a hero. We all know it won’t last, but it’s been one hell of a fun ride so far.

Best Non-Super Hero Comic – Saga

saga15_coverIt shouldn’t be shocking this Image series by writer Brian K. Vaughan with art by Fiona Staples is in this spot. It’s one of the most decorated comics both this year and last, dominating “best of” lists and it’s well deserved.

The comic is a mix of science fiction and fantasy, following two individuals from opposite warring sides who fall in love, have a kid, and go on the run, pursued by both those sides.

The writing and art are just superb with characters and settings so creative no description does it justice. This is the series I’d hand non-comic readers to show them how amazing the medium can be.

Runners Ups:

  • Imagine Agents – Take Ghostbusters and mix it with Men in Black and you get this series of agents dealing with imaginary friends. The series has been fantastic and I can only want more of it! A feather in the cap for publisher BOOM! Studios’ stellar year.
  • Mind MGMT- Matt Kindt is an amazing writer and this series involving mind controlling secret agents is trippy and exciting as they come. The art is his usual water color like style, unique and recognizable in today’s comics. The comic feels like Ah-Ha’s Take On Me music video, with psychics and world traveling, aka, it’s awesome and the best comic you’re most likely not reading.
  • Revival- Did you hear zombies are still big in entertainment? This new series follows a town locked down by the CDC after the dead come back to life. What’s the cause? What exactly is going on? Little by little we’re finding out, but the focus is really the realistic characters dealing with this strange world.
  • Think Tank – This series deserves more attention. Published by Top Cow and written by Matt Hawkins with art by Rashan Ekedel, it’s real world take and well thought out scenarios and technology make it eerily prescient and a reflection of what the world might really be like when it comes to war in the near future.

Best Limited Series or One Shot – The Wake

The Wake #4 coverScott Snyder is a hell of a writer and the first part of this maxi-series wrapped up recently, leaving me with my jaw on the floor. A story that spans centuries, to say more would be to ruin the shock.

What I can say is the series’ first part evokes classic horror movies and spins out into something completely different by the end. It’s just so good and I don’t want to ruin it.

Snyder is backed up with art by Sean Murphy whose gritty pencils add to Snyder’s scary (good) scripts. Catch up on it now before the next volume begins.

Runners Up:

  • The Black Beetle – Francesco Francavilla, he alone is the reason this series is on this list. The Black Beetle is a return to fun pulp comics of the past, and Francavilla’s writing and his amazing artist (my favorite of the year) make this an amazing read. Can’t wait to see, and read, more.
  • Buzzkill – Don’t know this one? This limited series deals with a hero who only gets his powers through drugs. The problem is, he’s trying to get clean. A solid series full of ultra violence. I’m hoping for a second volume, which would be interesting considering how this one ended.
  • Demeter – The final release of Becky Cloonan’s indie comic trilogy, it’s just creepy. I’d include The Mire and Wolves which round out the set, but those came out before this year. This shows how many of the best comics are independent comics.
  • Trillium – A max-series from Vertigo covers love across time and space. It’s trippy in ways I can’t describe. The series mixes heart and sci-fi in awesome ways. Luckily we have many issues to go over the next year.

Best Graphic Novel/Trade Paperback – March Book One

March-cover-100dpi.105340March is a brilliant accounting of Congressman John Lewis’ story for new generations and those with similar struggles around the world. This amazing biographical graphic novel is written by Cong. Lewis in collaboration with co-writer Andrew Aydin and New York Times best-selling artist Nate Powell. The result is one of the best graphic novels in recent memory and an amazing depiction of history that’s accessible to all.

This graphic novel is a piece of history, capturing the Congressman’s experiences testifying to a movement whose echoes will be heard for generations. This isn’t just a graphic novel for folks to pick up and enjoy, it’s a work of art and history that should be in every school teaching about our country’s modern struggles.

Seeing as it’s only the first book in a trilogy, expect it to be on a few more lists to come.

Runners Up:

  • Battling Boy – Comics should be fun and Paul Pope’s throwback series featuring a hero sent to Earth as a test is modern Jack Kirby. Just an amazing read with fantastic art, it was a pleasant surprise. The worst part was, I wanted to read more than just this first volume.
  • Boxers & Saints – Covering the Boxer Rebellion, this dual graphic novels take the perspective of the Chinese rebels and the Christian missionaries. Again, an excellent look at history, it’s two books that can be read apart or together.
  • The Fifth Beatle – The only book so far to look at the life of Beatle’s manager Brian Epstein, it’s writing is terrific and art amazing. It was a tough decision as to which would be the top graphic novel, and this one was a close second. Just a fantastic read for comic fans, history fans, music fans and Beatle fans. It’s both uplifting and touching. It’s being made into a movie, so expect buzz about this for many more years.
  • Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes – Matt Kindt’s graphic novel follows a series of crimes and the detective who deals with them. There’s a twist at the end that makes this amazing. Add in Kindt’s unique and beautiful art, and it’s easy to see why this makes the list.

Best New Series – The Superior Foes of Spider-Man

SuperiorFoesOfSpiderMan_1_CoverMarvel’s “superior” line of comics has been just that and stands out as Marvel’s best line of comics and this series is a challenger for the best one of the line. Following Spider-Man’s C-list (ok maybe D-list) villains, we get to see things from their perspective.

The series so far has been amazing with writing that’s entertaining, fun, funny and witty. These are bad guys, and for some reason, each issue, I come out rooting for them to succeed. I also feel bad for them, because they’re just not all that good at their jobs.

Eventually Spider-Man will stop being superior, and I hope when that time comes, we don’t see the end of this, because the comics stands out as one that lives up to it’s title, it truly is superior.

  • Afterlife With Archie – I live an Archie comic! In fairness I dig Mega Man, but this is the first that features the Riverdale cast. That cast is now dealing with a zombie outbreak, but this adult Archie Comic has shown the publisher is willing to try things and the series is boosted by the art of Francesco Francavilla.
  • The Bunker – I had to include this digital series which comes to print next year. It’s apocalypse meets Lost story is beyond amazing and art is fantastic. More individuals will hopefully see what the buzz is all about when it comes to print next year, published by Oni.
  • The Fox – The second “Archie” comic in the list is a throwback character that’s fun and entertaining. This is a superhero comic that’s great for the family.
  • Letter 44 – Charles Soule is the hardest working many in comics, writing so far 7 comics a month in 2014. This is his creator owned series that mixes politics and science fiction. Two issues in, I want more!

Best Single Issue – Hawkeye #11

hawkeye #11 coverHawkeye is the top superhero comic of the year, and this issue alone would qualify it to be on any “best of” list.

The issue is told from the perspective of Hawkeye’s dog Lucky, who is now also known as Pizza Dog. The issue is from the dog’s perspective using iconography and muffled dialogue instead of the normal dialogue we’d expect.

I like the fact the comic is original and switches it up from the main character as quite a few issues in this series did this year. But, it’s a pretty high profile comic series focused on a dog! Gutsy and fun at the same time how can you not like that? To say the issue was unique this year is an understatement.

Overall, it’s a brilliant issue on so many levels, it’s just an amazing comic and one of the best for many years. The fact that it spun out a fanbase for the dog says enough.

This was a top issue of a series that had many stand-outs.

Worst Single Issue of the Year – Avengers: Endless Wartime

Avengers_Endless_Wartime_Vol_1_1Marvel announced it was releasing new original graphic novels and this was the much-hyped first release from the creative team of Warren Ellis and Mike McKone. If it’s goal was to gain new readers, boy did it fail.

While the comic has an interesting start, the set-up is much more impressive than the follow through. Underneath the shallow exterior, there’s a greater debate about modern war, both the outsourcing of the battles fought and the pressing a button to kill your enemies thousands of miles away through drones. Overall, the disconnect and dissociation of modern war is a recurring theme throughout the comic. That’s great, if it was discussed more than some glancing dialogue here and there. Unfortunately, that very important discussion and worthwhile exploration is presented with bad guys that seem like something out of a kids cartoon and in a narrative that at times doesn’t make much sense.

The art is average, matching a blah story. I think the character designs are a bit off from what we’ve seen and not always consistent throughout the book and the monsters that are battled aren’t quite clear as to what they are.

It’s the only purchase this year I’ve wanted my money back.

Best Event of the Year – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: City Fall

180px-TMNT_25AI’ll admit I generally ignored TMNT for much of the year, but this event made quite a few lists and I sat down and read it all over the holiday and holy crap did I miss out. The series follows Shredder’s power grab of New York City and the Turtle’s attempt to stop them.

But the best thing was all of the moments that just made it awesome for long tim TMNT fans. With the appearance of Bebop and Rocksteady, Leonardo turning evil, and so much more, this was the culmination of a long time build up.

This has drawn me back in and has me reading the series now each month to make sure I don’t miss out.

Runners Up:

  • Battle of the Atom – Marvel has been not doing it for me when it comes to events so this one which brought X-Men from the future to deal with the X-Men from the past was a pleasant surprise.
  • Forever Evil – DC has been hit and miss, but this event has been pretty solid. Especially when you look at it as commentary between the dark and gritty villains of modern times versus the cleaner villains of yesteryear
  • Harbinger Wars – Valiant’s major event was full of damage, destruction and set the universe off in a whole new direction. this is how you do an event right.
  • Transformers: Dark Cybertron – IDW’s Transformers series have been awesome and this is the culmination of long going stories. Thankfully we have much to go to enjoy.

Best Genre of the Year – Indie Comics

Is it a “genre”? We can argue about that, but lets face it, 2012 was a year we saw major creators shrug off the big two, instead launching creator owned series at other publishers, digitally or through Kickstarter. We saw more comics, in more varieties, on more subjects and more ways to consume them, than any time before. It really wasn’t the year of the Big Two, this was a year that we as consumers could continue to find something that’d fit our tastes.

With more channels for distribution and more ways to produce comics, we’re in a golden age where the old ways of publishing no longer hold back the creativity that abounds.

Runners Up:

  • Zombies – Zombies have become a cultural phenomenon, lead marching shuffling along by The Walking Dead. Revival changed the genre a bit, with so many releases giving us so many other spins and perspectives. The genre has crossed over in to movies, television, books, toys and more. We’ll see how soon before it all comes grinding to a halt and rots away.
  • Digital Comics – Digital first. Digital exclusive. Web comics. This was the year digital comics began to break through. Lead by the platform comiXology, we also saw some creativity in how to sell digitally by Viz and Archie. This distribution method will only grow in 2014 as more ways to gain revenue from it are explored.

Best Surprise of the Year – Image’s continued come back

image comicsImage celebrated it’s 20th anniversary in 2012, and it came back in 2013 and kicked even more ass. It continued to do so this year, adding to the previous year’s hits with even more hot new series. Each release seemed to create bigger and bigger buzz with constant sell-outs. And should it be any shock this was the case?

Image drew some of the biggest talent in the comic industry as creators continued to throw off the shackles of the big two and instead released quality indie comic after indie comic. Pretty Deadly, Manifest Destiny, East of West, Black Science and more debuted in 2013 and that’s on top of The Walking Dead, Saga and many more of the hit comics they already published. It’s truly impressive how much quality and buzz the publisher generated with each release.

They also pushed the distribution envelope selling DRM free comics directly to fans, though questions do remain about that whole announcement.

There was something for everyone this past year from Image, and they continued to move beyond their reputation of big guns and pecks comics, instead bringing us varied titles that at times pushed the medium.

Biggest Disappointment of the Year – Kickstarter

KickstarterLast year’s “publisher of the year” showed its issues as projects were delayed, vapor ware, or not as advertised. Also add in issues on the creator end of folks pledging high amounts and then disputing the charges, at times getting the goods. Add in the platform’s unwillingness to step in to deal with either situation and you get a tech company showing off it’s greed. What was once the toast of the town has shown its cracks which will only get worse.

The crowdfunding platform became a way for creators to raise funds for projects, only to get picked up by publishers, at times delaying projects and leaving bad tastes in the mouths of fans. If all creators were held to the standards of some of the best users of the system, there’d be no issue, but over 90% of the projects I’ve pledged to have been delayed or non-existence only creating angry backers and fans.

These issues have lead this site to rethink what we promote and how we do so.

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Publisher of the Year – BOOM! Studios

comics-boom-studios-logoA lot of thought has gone into this one and we discussed much of this on this week’s radio show. To me, the publisher of the year is BOOM! Studios and its imprints, KaBOOM!, BOOM! Box and Archaia.

For me a publisher should be more than just the comics it produces, and this one is, but lets start there. BOOM! has show diversity with it’s various lines, with interesting and fun series that span many genres and comics that are good for adults and kids. The publisher has licensed comics and original series that’s something for everyone.

Then there’s the fact they’ve expanded their market. The publisher merged with Archaia, adding to their impressive line-up and talent. Then there was the release of 2 Guns in theaters, a success for the first time movie maker. Then there’s the deal with 20th Century Fox that sees the comic creator as an IP generator for the movie studio. All solid moves that would be impressive to themselves.

Finally there’s the diversity of staff. The company has show diversity works. The amount of women working for the publisher in numerous positions is amazing and in an industry that has a bad reputation when it comes to inclusion, this was the publisher that showed it’s possible and leads to success.

It’d be hard not to applaud the company and they deserve recognition for their hard work that’s paid off.

Runners Up:

  • IDW Publishing – IDW is a publisher that thinks outside of the box when it comes to building it’s readership and that’s why they’re on this list. Not only did they make a fantastic move in including their comics in Transformers toys, an event first issue even, but they also used QR codes to get those toy collectors to check out their app. Also they’ve repackaged their My Little Pony comics to better sell in big box retailers, again something new and interesting as far as marketing. With this, plus some other moves when it comes to partnerships, expansion into tv and movies and games, the publisher is thinking bigger than the comic market.
  • Dark Horse – Conan, The Massive, The Strain, the Goon, Dark Horse Presents, Mind MGMT, Ghost, Buzzkill and I could go on and on. Dark Horse gave us some amazing monthly series, but also collections of modern comics as well as classic comic archives. Consistently some of the best comics out each week and some fantastic gems.
  • Monkeybrain Comics – The digital comic publisher is showing digital works and their move to collect series and get them into print second is a fantastic model I expect many others to try out. Add on top of that an expansive library with enough different titles to appeal to anyone, it’s not a surprise they’re getting accolades across the industry.
  • Titan Books – While none of their books made this list, this publisher would easily fill the 5-10 slots for most of these categories with amazing comics such as A1 (my top anthology), Death Sentence, Chronos Commandos, Tomorrowland and more. They have a second wave of books announced for 2014 that sounds like they’ll be competing for publisher next year and challenging for many of these categories.
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Pick(s) of the Week: Infinity #6 and so many more.

Infinity_6_Kubert_CoverThis week sees the release of Marvel‘s Infinity #6, the final chapter in their galaxy spanning event written by Jonathan Hickman. While at times the event seemed too big and involving too many moving parts, it’s been overall one of the better events Marvel has released.

While the heroes were away, Thanos has been laying siege to Earth, and now with the Builders defeated, all of Earth’s heroes, and some of the galaxy’s, can focus on the mad tyrant. It’s everyone versus Thanos in what’s likely to be one hell of a drag out fight in this over-sized issue.

Marvel failed in the ending to their last major event, Age of Ultron, turning it into a series of long ads for new comics coming out of it. We’ll see if they correct that last mistake here. But, no matter, this event has changed the Marvel Universe, and it’ll be key to see where it goes next.

Check out below for the rest of our picks.

Brett:

Top Pick: Black Science #1 (Image) – Image has had a string of hits with their new series and writer Rick Remender is a favorite of mine, so a new series by him, released by Image is a given as a top pick.

Hawkeye #14 (Marvel) – One of my favorite comics out there, and one of the best Marvel releases. Just shows not all super hero comics have to have you fighting over the top villains.

Infinity #6 (Marvel) – Check out the reasons I gave above.

Letter 44 #2 (Oni Press) – Charles Soule’s mix of politics and science fiction is awesome and this second issue is one I’ve been waiting for since the series debut.

Mind MGMT #17 (Dark Horse) – Probably the best series you’re not reading.

Powerpuff Girls #3 (IDW Publishing) – I never really watched the cartoon series, but this comic so far has me beyond entertained with each issue.

Sean:

Top Pick: Saga #16 (Image Comics) – It’d be a damn shame not to have this at the top of my list. Is there any reason I need to be telling you this?

Infinity #6 (Marvel) – Marvel has been slamming Infinity out of the park, and they’ve ultimately shown me that they have what it takes to incorporate a magnificently vast science-fictional universe into their comics. This is basically Star Wars with superheroes.

Larfleeze #5 (DC Comics) – Keith Giffen is one of my all-time favorite comics writers (albeit, he mostly just does stories while DeMatteis writes), and his Larfleeze is a hilarious, Douglas-Adamsesque take on the weirdest corner of the Green Lantern-verse.

The Goon #44 (Dark Horse) – It’s been a few years since the Goon was around, and this issue is sure to promise a ton of bastardized Spanish grammar. I’m sure there’s a heavy critique of racism and linguistic power there somewhere…

Sledgehammer ’44: Lightning War #1 (Dark Horse) – Mignola’s Sledgehammer is one of the cooler additions to the Mignolaverse, so this shouldn’t be ignored!

Robert E. Howard’s Savage Sword #6 (Dark Horse) – I’ve chosen this in lieu of a TPB, because it’s a heftier and pricier comic, at $7.99. A collection of stories from and inspired by R.E. Howard’s fantasy world.

 

Review: Itty Bitty Hellboy #1, King Conan: Hour of the Dragon #4, Mind MGMT #14, The Massive #15

Itty Bitty Hellboy #1

23936A ghost named Rasputin has been spotted! And Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. are going to find out what he’s up to.

Who is Hellboy anyway? Why does he have such a big hand and what is it used for? Who’s weirder, him or his friends? What is the B.P.R.D.? And what does chicken soup have to do with all of it? This and more answered in the debut issue, where BIG things happen to itty bitty Hellboy!

You know what I haven’t been thinking? That Hellboy needs a version for the kiddies. But, Art Baltazar and Franco bring their magic to this five issue mini-series and make the case that this is in fact exactly what we needed in this first issue that brings humor and fun for the whole family to the horror franchise.

You might know this dynamic creative duo from Tiny Titans, Superman Family Adventures, and Aw Yeah Comics, but they’re taking their talents and much like they spun previous DC characters, re-imagining Mike Mignola‘s creations with a younger bent.

Made up of a few short comics, the stories are funny, cut and quite entertaining. I’ve never read their previous work of this type, so I had no idea what to expect when I dove in, but I was pleasantly surprised. The characters are distilled to their basic selves, exaggerating their interests and motivations. Battles over forts is broken up by other shorts that usually spotlight some feature of a character.

Overall, this is a great all-ages comic, fantastic for both adults and kids. There’s great humor which is matched by awesome artwork.

When your child that’s too young demands to start reading your Hellboy comics, put this in front of them instead, they’ll probably leave you alone at that point and choose this instead.

Story: Art Baltazar, Franco Art: Art Baltazar
Story: 8 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

King Conan: Hour of the Dragon #4

22194Betrayed, deposed, and in hiding, Conan rides for his old capital of Tarantia with bloody vengeance in his heart—but the devious wizard Xaltotun has spies in the sky and soldiers on the ground. The solitary barbarian is forced to seek counsel from an unlikely ally . . . who has a few beastly servants of her own!

I’m fairly new to the whole Conan universe. I’ve watched the cheesy 80s movies, but have never read a book with the character or a comic until Brian Wood took over. So, with my enjoying Wood’s series, I dove into this mini-series also by Dark Horse and four issues in, I can only say “holy crap is it good” and I’m quickly becoming a Conan fan.

This series has an old and tired Conan reflecting on his great adventure where he lost and had to fight back to regain his crown. Yes, this Conan is a king, settled down with a land of people of his own, and ones he feels responsible for. Its fantastic writing with the voice of the young and old Conan being slightly different as you’d expect with the gain of wisdom through age.

The action is fierce and pacing fantastic as Conan battles the onslaught thrown at him, and even the quietest moments are filled with tension and suspense. And with two more issues to go, I have no idea how the series will wrap up in the end.

On top of the fantastic writing by Timothy Truman, there’s the art by Tomás Giorello which is breathtaking, but he has help by colorist José Villarrubia whose use of colors matches the pencils they’re laid over. The comic story wise is exciting, and it’s matched in that excitement by the art. It’s a fantastic pairing of writer and artists.

While I consider myself still new to Conan, between this and Dark Horse’s ongoing series, I’m quickly becoming a fan. So much so, I’m deciding where to start when it comes to finding out what I’ve been missing.

Story: Timothy Truman Art: Tomás Giorello
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Mind MGMT #14

23542What you don’t know about Meru could just about fit in this issue!

Are you reading Mind MGMT? The bigger question is, if you’re not why aren’t you? Matt Kindt continues to show off why he’s one of the best writer/artists out there right now, pulling double duty with each issue.

The series gets back to focus on Meru and the mystery of her past and what happened in Zanzibar. And that’s part of the enjoyment of the series, you don’t know what’s real and what’s not. This is an ever twisting mystery full of crazy characters with amazing powers, each more unique than the next. At this point, I’m not even sure who really is a good guy and who is the bad guy. Kindt has kept us on the edge giving us twists and turns with each issue that makes you question what comes before.

This is more than a comic, it’s a mind bending tale where you don’t know what’s real and what’s not.

Kindt’s art is amazing with his beautiful water-color like style. It evokes something I’d expect out of the 60s or 70s, and is unique and a signature of his. It reminds me of Aha’s Take on Me Video, and that’s a massive compliment.

This issue dives right back into the our main storyline barreling towards something, I’m not sure what. As a reader I’m constantly evaluating every detail, from words chosen, the art on the page, to the details around the pages in the margins. I feel like everything has a hint as to what’s real and what’s not in this series. It really engages me as a reader.

Overall Mind MGMT is one of the crown jewels in Dark Horse’s cap and a maxi-series unlike any other. This should be on everyone’s list to read and I fully expect it to top numerous best of lists when the year ends.

Story: Matt Kindt Art: Matt Kindt
Story: 8.75 Art: 8.75 Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

The Massive #15

22507Ninth Wave’s presence within the United States’ now-sunken borders has caused a disruption that a rogue US Navy battle group plans to end. Mismatched and outnumbered by a fleet of larger ships, the crew of Kapital must rely on the unexpected aid of a rogue member of Ninth Wave in the explosive conclusion to Brian Wood’s comic book return to New York City.

Americana has given us a glimpse of just a bit of what’s happened to America post collapse and all of that was wrapped in a tale involving nuclear brinkmanship in a game of cat and mouse.

I’ll admit, I’m still sorting through that ending, but the build up to it, I had no idea what was going to happen in a world already in meltdown. I’m pretty sure Wood was willing to drive it further into chaos the way this chapter was going. But even with that focus on the tense stand-off between the US’s rogue Navy battle group, Ninth Wave and a nuclear sub, the focus is still on the crew of the Kaptial.

Throughout this entire series so far, the most amazing thing is the myriad and unique characters Wood has come up with. His series has shown us motivation, drive, ambition, interactions really do differ with every character, especially when they have such a varied background. And when it’s all over, the machinations and maneuvering that’s been leading up to this issue are only going to get worse. Everyone seems to have a secret here and willing to hold those over each other.

The ending of this issue is a little muddled and confusing, but everything leading up to it was absolutely amazing and intense. This continues to be one of the best comics out there by any publisher.

Story: Brian Wood Art: Garry Brown
Story: 8 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review

Get Drawn Into Matt Kindt’s MIND MGMT!

The recent release of MIND MGMT #13 kicked off an all-new arc of this critically acclaimed series, currently in its second year at Dark Horse. To celebrate, Dark Horse and series creator Matt Kindt are offering fans a very special opportunity.

By simply Liking the official MIND MGMT Facebook page, you will be entered into a drawing to, well, “enter a drawing.” That’s right: One lucky fan will actually be drawn into the seventeenth issue of the ongoing series! If you are one of the readers who were ahead of the curve on this and have already liked this page, you are already eligible!

MIND MGMT follows a young journalist who stumbles onto a much bigger story than she bargained for while investigating a bizarre case of memory loss on a commercial flight. Her ensuing journey involves weaponized psychics, hypnotic advertising, talking dolphins, and seemingly immortal pursuers, as she attempts to find the flight’s missing passenger, the man who was MIND MGMT’s greatest success—and its most devastating failure. But in a world where people can rewrite reality itself, can she trust anything she sees?

2950 MMGMT FB

Almost American
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