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Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History

Wednesdays (and now Tuesdays) 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

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this week.

American Vampire 1976 #4 (DC Comics/DC Black Label) – The series has been a lot of fun so far. Though it leans a bit towards those who have previously read the series, new readers should be able to enjoy it for the great action.

Ascencia #1 (Wake Entertainment) – The drummer of System of a Down brings his talents to comics in a story about what one would do to become immortal.

The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History (Ten Speed Press) – The retelling of the group and its key figures

DC Future State (DC Comics) – DC Future State has been a pretty solid event so far. There’s only been a few clunkers but overall, it’s been a pretty solid “gimmick”. This week’s releases include Future State: Dark Detective #1, Future State: Green Lantern #1, Future State: Justice League #1, Future State: Kara Zor-El, Superwoman #1, Future State: Robin Eternal #1, Future State: Superman/Wonder Woman #1, Future State: Teen Titans #1.

HaHa #1 (Image Comics) – The new miniseries features a rotating group of artists joining W. Maxwell Prince to explore the world of clowns.

Home Sick Pilots #2 (Image Comics) – The debut issue was a creepy start of a haunted house story. We’re still not 100% sure of what’s going on but we really want to find out.

League of Super Feminists (Drawn & Quarterly) – A graphic novel guide to some of the central tenets of feminism.

Manns World #1 (AWA Studios) – A tale of survival when four individuals on a resort anger the planet’s working class. Could be very interesting.

Serial #1 (Abstract Studios) – A young girl has been stuck being 10 for 50 years due to the demon inside. Now the demon is free and killing and Zoe must stop it.

Soulstream #1 (Scout Comics) – Marie and Markus discover an alternate dimension known as the Mirror World where their entire city has been destroyed and replaced by a volcanic wasteland.

Space Bastards #1 (Humanoids) – An unemployed accountant joins the Intergalactic Postal Service. Delivery is mercenary where payment goes to whoever delivers the package.

Underrated: Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics by Tom Scioli

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics by Tom Scioli.

Biographies aren’t always the first thing you think  of when you think of graphic novels, and vice versa. But the thing is a graphic novel is a fantastic way to tell a person’s life story, or a portion there of, that isn’t often used as much as it could be. Graphic novel biographies are a wonderfully unique way of telling a story that you really can’t capture the same way with a prose book. By utilizing the graphic novel format, the creative team have the opportunity to bring the story to life with picture, or temper  the harshness of what the biography’s subject went through so that the reader can take more of the story in (seriously, imagine the first entry with realistic artwork). Or the artwork can tell give you a subtlety that’s missing in other mediums as you’re more readily able to spend time pouring over the images in front of you. Yeah, I think it’s safe to say that I think graphic novels are an underrated method of telling a biographical story.

Biographies told in the graphic novel format have been around for awhile, and I’ve found are often my preferred way to read story about a person’s life. Maus for example would be a much harder book to read in prose, and part of Spiegleman’s genius is in how he still conveys the horror of his father’s story with the art that’s never cute or adorable, but wouldn’t look out of place next to Andy Capp in your Sunday supplement (this isn’t a knock against the book – it remains one of my favourite graphic novels because of exactly this; the balance of the art to the horror is perfect and frequently left me questioning how I would be reacting if the art was realistic or had the story been told in prose with vivid descriptions).

But when it comes to reading a graphic novel, even a near 200 page one, to learn about the rich history of a subject, then there is an obvious trade off with the amount of information you can fit into a graphic novel verses a text book – sometimes that matters, and others it doesn’t.

I’ve read a few biographies of Kirby over the years (Mark Evanier’s Kirby: King Of Comics is probably my favourite), but this is the first biography of Kirby I’ve read in the graphic form. Other than some minor details, Scioli doesn’t tell me anything that I wasn’t already at least partly aware of, though that’s not because he doesn’t have a well researched book (he really does), but rather because this isn’t the first Kirby biography I have ever read – Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics, published by Ten Speed Press, is a thoroughly engaging read, and Scioli’s dedication to the presentation of the book shines through early with a scene of young Kirby reading comics for one of the first times.

This is told from Kirby’s perspective, which does lead to him being portrayed in a very flattering light, but given the author’s well documented reverence for Kirby, I’m genuinely impressed that Scioli is somewhat restrained at the same time; he never crosses into a full worship of the comics legend (which is very easy to do given how much respect Kirby is due and how much he often gets outside of the comics community).

Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics is a really good book; it’s often overlooked in a lot of the circles I run in because it’s both a graphic novel and a biography – the combination of which never seems to excite people as much as a fictional graphic novel (or comic). It’s a shame, because this book is an ideal start to learning about Jack Kirby, and will propel you into reading the comics he so loved to create.

In the meantime, Underrated will return to highlight more comic book related stuff  that either gets ignored despite it’s high quality, or maybe isn’t quite as bad as we tend to think it is.

Review: Jack Kirby – The Epic Life of the King of Comics

Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics

Coming off his work on Fantastic Four Grand Design as judging by his art style and themes in comics like Super Powers, Godland, and American Barbarian, cartoonist Tom Scioli is an excellent choice to write, draw, color, and letter a graphic biography of Jack Kirby, who co-created Captain America, Hulk, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, New Gods, and characters too numerous to mention. In Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics, Scioli tells the story of Kirby’s life using a first-person narrative device drawing on a backlog of interviews and magazine articles about him while occasionally shifting the narrator to his beloved wife, Roz Kirby, and his collaborator/rival/general pain in the ass, Stan Lee to show their sides of Kirby’s life.

The main takeaway I got from Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics was that his life and vivid imagination were almost always linked, and Scioli shows this by drawing Kirby wide-eyed, almost like Astro Boy compared to his more realistic portrayals of the characters around him. There ends up being a big, emotional payoff to this technique, and it’s interesting to see Scioli’s art style shift with the time that Kirby was living in from the classic adventure and humor strips that took him away from gloomy New York to the power and pain of his war days where he escaped death so many times. This is followed up by the chameleon days of the 1950s where Kirby and Joe Simon tried to keep up with the latest trends in the industry like crime and Westerns and even invented a new one: romance, the 1960s where Kirby turned monsters into superheroes and created pop culture icons, the 1970s where he was freed from dialogue balloon fillers-in and could create a new mythology that was both epic and personal.

Finally, the story concludes in Kirby’s twilight years where he finally got things like health insurance and paid days off to take a trip to Israel with Roz and spend more time with his family while working in animation, getting royalties for his New Gods characters, and getting his greatest paycheck yet when the Image Comics founders inked some of his old, unpublished art to create Phantom Force. After Kirby’s death, Scioli does away with his usual six panel grid and uses smaller screens with photorealistic drawings of everything from Frank Miller eulogizing him to photorealistic style panels of stills from movies from 2000’s X-Men to the upcoming Eternals and New Gods, which draw almost solely from his vision.

But for every great idea or creation, there’s a reversal with Jack Kirby spending as much time in heated arguments in offices and occasionally court rooms as at the drawing board creating stories and worlds. However, Tom Scioli spends plenty of time showing Jack Kirby in the act of penciling or plotting comics drawing on everything from a documentary about Easter Island to the personality differences between conniving Stan Lee and affable Larry Lieber (Who was huge fan of Kirby’s Captain America as a kid) to develop the first bad guys in Journey into Mystery (And later, Thor.) as well as the relationship between Thor, Loki, and Odin. From early pages where Kirby is sprawled out with the full color Sunday comics section on his building’s fire escape, Scioli portrays him as sponge for stories and pop culture of all kinds, especially mythology and speculative fiction.

Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics

Instead of being a nerd and hoarding comics or toys in his room, Kirby combined these rich stories with his experiences as a member of a youth gang in New York or as a soldier in World War II to create stories that are both relatable and full of wonder even if a few like Stuntman and True Divorce Stories didn’t get made or got less hype than Captain America or Fantastic Four. Every movie, conversation, or story told to him became fodder for Kirby’s own work, and those around him realize this before him. For example, in the 1970s, DC Comics wanted him to do a horror story in the vein of Swamp Thing, which wasn’t his favorite genre, so after a pep talk from his assistants Mark Evanier and Steve Sherman, he created Etrigan the Demon by riffing off a scene in Prince Valiant where the protagonist disguises himself as one. Scioli’s grid darts from inspiration or conversation to penciled page and then success. (Or sometimes failure) However, that success is undercut by the exploitation that is a running theme throughout the comic, and it’s almost cathartic when the Ruby-Spears animators treat Kirby reverently as he works on the Thundarr the Barbarian cartoon.

Tom Scioli’s most visually compelling sequences in Jack Kirby are the portrayal of his war days where he acted as a scout going through enemy territory and using his talents that he previously lent to Captain America or Boy Commandos to maps of Nazi positions. There’s the uncertainty of the early days of training in Georgia and hiding out in buildings in France before being immediately drawn into combat during the heady post D-Day battles. Scioli’s bright or neutral palette goes dark or red as he realizes that his unit is basically on a suicide mission, and this tension continues to Kirby’s days as a scout with lots of lots of scarlet when he kills Nazis with a knife taken from an SS officer. It’s not dynamic and powerful like Jack Kirby’s superhero action stories; it’s just war. Kirby was just fighting to stay alive for another day and get home to see his wife, Roz. The most searing scene of all is when Kirby helps liberate a concentration camp, and Scioli draws a survivor like a living skeleton.

Kirby’s resistance towards fascism from basically telling the German American Bund that he would beat their asses if they showed up at Timely’s (Later Marvel) offices before World War II to his actions during the war and finally through some of his comics like Nick Fury and The Losers, which were based on his military service and the Fourth World saga, which was about freedom and resisting tyranny on a larger more epic level that would influence later creators like George Lucas. (Jack and Roz Kirby watching Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back together in theaters is one of the comic’s most smile inducing moments.) These Star Wars sequences are one of many ways that Tom Scioli looks at the bigger picture of the comics industry, pop culture, and current events to add background color and context to Jack Kirby’s life and work. For example, a depiction of JFK’s assassination immediately bleeds into Mr. Fantastic lying as if dead on the ground as part of Kirby’s big Hulk vs Thing epic in Fantastic Four. He immediately turned his emotions about this tragic event into great art.

Look Inside The Epic Life of the King of Comics and See the Early ...

In a more of an inside baseball way (And honestly, the comics industry of the Golden and Silver Ages is begging to be turned into a Mad Men-esque prestige TV show.), Tom Scioli traces the relationships between Jack Kirby and various comics industry figures over the years. Obviously, Stan Lee takes up most of the space, but there are also some smaller moments like Kirby having a friendly relationship with Bob Kane as yet another freelancer for the Eisner/Iger studio to seeing him as arrogant and obnoxious or the tension between him and his various inkers like Vince Colletta (Who showed his DC pages to Marvel staffers), Mike Royer (Who drew Big Barda like Cher and got chewed out), and Joe Sinnott (Who shows up for one panel with Kirby and a Thing cosplayer). Tom Scioli is interested in both the art and commerce side of making comics, and it shines through the loving touches he gives to both Kirby at his drawing table and Kirby in a shouting match with Stan Lee about credits on their books. His prose is zippy, and Jack Kirby’s dry as a bone humor comes out in his dialogue.

Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics is a carefully crafted, appreciative feast of a biographical comic. Tom Scioli cites his sources in the back but focuses more on trying to get in the mind of Jack Kirby and think about how he would react to everything from his parents’ deaths to another guy trying to date Roz or even Stan Lee trying to slyly steal his Mister Miracle concept art to use in Fantastic Four. With Kirby’s expressive eyes as a kind of spirit guide, the book is a heartbreaking, yet empowering experience, and by the end of the book, I thought that not only would this website not exist without Jack Kirby, that I probably wouldn’t either. And now I’m off to actually finish his Fourth World saga!

Story: Tom Scioli Art: Tom Scioli
Story: 9.0 Art: 10.0 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Purchase: AmazonKindle

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Ash & Thorn #2

Wednesdays (and now Tuesdays) 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!

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this week.

Ash & Thorn #2 (AHOY Comics) – The first issue introduced us to an unlikely champion of Earth. The series seems to be having fun with expectations and tropes from that genre with a nice mix of humor to it.

DCeased: Dead Planet #1 (DC Comics) – DC has been doing some top-notch work when it comes to this pocket of stories and this return to the world is full of dread and heartbreak… and that’s just the first issue!

Eat and Love Yourself (BOOM! Studios) – Magic chocolate allows a young woman to revisit her past. The concept sounds really intriguing and creative.

Eight-Lane Runaways (Fantagraphics) – A new graphic novel about the world of running with a magical twist. We’re still not quite sure what this one’s about but the cover and description text has us wanting to find out more.

Empyre: Fantastic Four #0 (Marvel) – The first zero issue to come out of this anticipated event was solid and we’re excited to see what else is to come. What went from a shrug is now very intriguing.

Ginseng Roots #5 (Uncivilized Books) – One of the best comics out right now, Craig Thompson explores growing up in the world of ginseng.

Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics (Ten Speed Press) – Tom Scioli’s biography of the great Jack Kirby.

Join the Future #3 (AfterShock) – This future western explores the idea of modernization and the exploitation that comes with it.

Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys: The Death of Nancy Drew #2 (Dynamite Entertainment) – The twist of the first issue was predictable but we really want to see where this noir/mystery goes.

Quantum & Woody #4 (Valiant) – The first three issues have been a whole lot of fun and we’re expecting the same from this finale.

Strange Academy #2 (Marvel) – The first issue was a lot of fun and we’ve been looking forward to seeing more of the series. Think young magic users at a school set in the Marvel universe.

Around the Tubes


It’s a new day of comics! Well, DC and digital comics at least. We’ll have a rundown of what you can get today as well as tomorrow later in the day. While you wait for that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Publisher’s Weekly – Ten Speed to Publish Graphic History of Black Panther Part – We’re there for this!

The Beat – A Year of Free Comics: Beware of your doppelganger in PARALLEL CITY – Free comics!

The Hollywood Reporter – ‘Vagrant Queen’ Canceled at Syfy – Not surprising since it’s SyFy but disappointing.

CBLDF – Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Board Update – A new update with numerous individuals retiring or resigning.

How to Love Comics – Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files Comics Reading Order Guide – For those who’ve been wondering.


The Beat – Love Me For Who I Am
CBR – RWBY: The Official Manga Vol. 1

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Wednesdays 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!

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Bad Weekend (Image Comics) – If you missed this story arc from Criminal in individual issues, now’s your chance to get it… plus extras!

Criminal #6 (Image Comics) – One of the best comics out today. Each issue is amazing and a must for folks who enjoy crime/noir comics or just quality.

Black Hammer/Justice League #1 (Dark Horse/DC Comics) – Jeff Lemire’s brilliant deconstruction of superheroes meets some of the original heroes.

Care Bears #1 (IDW Publishing) – The classic property get a comic series and we’re always excited to see classic kids properties see new life. More comics geared towards young kids is a good thing.

Fallen World #3 (Valiant) – Valiant consistently knocks it out of the park and this is a series that’s well worth checking out as to see why the publisher is known for quality.

Giant-Size X-Statix #1 (Marvel) – The X-Statix are back and you don’t need to know the past to enjoy this giant-size comic. Filled with humor and well worth checking out.

Ghosted in L.A. #1 (BOOM! Studios) – Sina Grace and Siobhan Keenan’s new series about a girl with undead roommates. The premise sounds fun.

Lola XOXO Vol. 3 #1 (Aspen Comics) – We’ve been fans of this series since the first volume. It’s a post-apocalyptic world that has a nice “western” feel to it.

The Magicians: Alice’s Story (BOOM! Studios) – The popular series comes to comics.

Naomi #6 (DC Comics) – The end of the “first season” of the series and if you’ve missed it, you’re missing one of the best superhero comics out there. It’s nailed the set-up and delivered on reveals. Naomi is a breakout star in the making. Don’t miss out on this entire series. Amazing writing and even better art.

Reaver #1 (Image Comics) – A new series from Justin Jordan and Rebekah Isaacs, that creative team alone has us excited. Six horrible individuals are assembled to help stop the end of the new world. It sounds like the Dirty Dozen (in half) but this creative combo has us excited to see the insanity is coming.

Second Coming #1 (AHOY Comics) – The delayed (and publisher switched) controversial series is finally out and we want to see what the buzz is all about and if it deserves the notoriaty and protests, it has.

Strangelands #1 (Humanoids/H1 Comics) – The latest entry in the Humanoids “H1” superhero comics line is an interesting concept of two individuals who cause mass destruction when they’re separated.

Unearth #1 (Image Comics) – Cullen Bunn, Kyle Strahm, and Baldemar Rivas’ new series that seems to mix horror and science for a subterranean nightmare. Bunn is a master of horror and a new series from him in that genre is one to always check out.

Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle (Ten Speed Press) – The classic protest novel gets a graphic novel adaptation. The story brings to life harsh conditions and exploited existences of immigrants in Chicago’s meatpacking industry in the early twentieth century.

Review: The Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling

Think you know the history of professional wrestling? Aubrey Sitterson and Chris Moreno take us through the complete history from its beginnings at carnivals to the big budget spectacular we watch today in The Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling.

This graphic novel has a lot packed into it taking readers around the world and covering the major events in wrestling that have shaped it to what it’s today.

Get your copy in comic shops today and in book stores on October 9. To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.



Ten Speed Press provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
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Review: Cook Korean

Food is the one thing that connect people from all over the world. There are a ton of books, that either describe a recipe or how food has impacted a culture. There are blogs dedicated to where one can find the best taco or the best Pho, as the pursuit of exceptionalism is usually the goal of these bloggers. Instagram, is probably, the best example of how the internet, as you can usually get on there, and will find more than few pictures on anyone’s account, dedicated to food.

Food, also at its most basic level, is sustenance, not only for our nutrition but for our soul. When I think of all the times, have ever traveled to another country, the one thing that people can understand is food, as the smile followed by the nod, means delicious and is universal and transcends language barriers. Food is also history, family history at its core and what is passed down to us and what we pass on to future generations. This family history is exactly what is conjured up in Robin Ha’s entertaining Cook Korean!

In the first few panels, the reader finds out how she went from consumer to producer and to be a food anthropologist. She guides the reader, with a narrator, we know as Dengki, as she gives the reader, the basics of Korean food. The fun part is the recipes, as Ha describes meticulously the ingredients and the steps and beings each chapter with a personal story connected to the food within the chapter. By book’s end, the reader will be both entertained and hungry.

Overall, a great book, that will give the reader an education about Korean food and in, general, Korean culture. The stories by Ha are funny and relatable. The art by Ha is beautiful. Altogether, an excellent book, that defies description, part graphic novel and part cookbook, making something special all its own.

Story: Robin Ha Art: Robin Ha
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

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