Thursday, May 24, 2018

Interview Time: Charles Forsman

Some Info About Charles Forsman
I have spoken a number of times about how I am a big fan of Charles Forsman and his works. "The End of the Fucking World," was a stellar comic, "Revenger," is pulpy fun, and, "Slasher," was one of my favorite mini-series of 2017 (with Forsman himself being a favorite writer-artist of last year as well). I reached-out to him back at the start of the year to inquire about doing an interview and over the months we engaged in a big back-and-forth I greatly enjoyed discussing comics, music, and life in general. You can check out the interview below!

The Interview
First off, thanks for agreeing to do an interview with me, Chuck. Would you mind telling my readers a little bit about yourself--who you are, what comics you've made?

Thanks for having me. I’m a 35 year old cartoonist from the North Eastern US. My comics include Celebrated Summer, TEOTFW, I am Not Okay With This, Revenger, Slasher and my current project AUTOMA.

At one time you had your own micro-comics publisher known as Oily Comics. You distributed some of your earliest works via that as well as other titles, correct? What made you want to be your own micro-publisher at the time?

Oily wasn’t all that thought out. I never expected it to become a thing. Oily began soon after I started releasing TEOTFW as mini comics. I was enjoying the experience of serializing and the lowered stakes of making such cheap little books so I asked some friends to join me. I soon found myself printing 5 mini comics a month for about 2 years. I burned out pretty quick. It was a lot of stapling. But really, I found myself with a choice. I really enjoy publishing, and production and shipping but I want to be a cartoonist. That is my main concern and I found my attention being pulled further and further from that. So I decided to end it. It more like faded actually.

I think the whole reason I began doing it was just that I was getting some attention for TEOTFW and I thought I could shine that light on cartoonists I liked and get them in front of new readers. That was the main goal.
"The End of the Fucking World," was the first thing by you I read back in the bygone days of 2013. I told you I haven't watched the adaptation on Netflix yet, and I apologize but my que is 100-titles deep. That said, how did the adaptation come about, and how satisfied were you with it?

Well, Jonathan Entwistle, the creator of the show picked up a few of the comics in 2012. He emailed me and said he would like to adapt it. Five or six years of ups and downs and anxiety later the thing is a show. It’s really a testament to Jon’s drive. I’m surprised he didn’t give up on it. But he made it happen along with a whole mountain of people it takes to make a TV show. I am extremely happy with it. And, look, from my end, it’s basically like winning the lottery. Just the thing actually getting made is a miracle. And then that fact that it’s genuinely a cool show and so many people have reacted to it positively is hard to fathom.

Looking at your drawing-style it seems capable of great variation. "TEOTFW," looks minimalist and almost cartoony, a stark contrast to something like, "Revenger," which is detailed in its brutality and, "Slasher," which also doesn't shy away from explicitly-rendered violence. What goes into you deciding what kind of artistic style you want to use for a book?

Yeah, I appreciate you calling me “capable.” HAHA. I actually don’t think I’m a great cartoonist. I’m okay but I don’t think I have too much natural god-given talent. I have minimal talent that I try to make work in as many different ways as possible. I used to get really hung up on not having a style to call my own. But I kind of learned to embrace that and become a bit of a chameleon. I enjoy drawing in different ways especially when I can adapt it to suit a story. Deciding on how I’m going to draw something depends on the feeling of it. Revenger was quite a shift because I wanted to do something with all these comics I was reading from the 80s and 90s. Marvel and DC stuff but also the stuff from the self-publishing “boom” from that time.

TEOTFW’s style came about as I wanted to try to strip my stuff way back so I could pump out paged quickly. I think for me that is important to move quickly. It’s harder to keep my focus if I laboring over each page.
I of course loved, "Slasher," and considered it one of my favorite mini-series of 2017, and it played a major role in your being one of my favorite writer-artists of 2017. Would you mind sharing how the idea for it came about?

Yeah, that one was spurred on by things I believe. I wanted to do a female killer story. For whatever reason female serial killers are not as prevalent as male killers. I also wanted to have a character where the violence was tied up with their sexuality. It’s a gruesome thing that some serial killers have. The other part was based on the real life case of Gypsy-May and DeeDee. There is a really great longform piece on them on Buzzfeed that I read a few years ago. If you don’t know about them, it was basically a mother and daughter living in a trailer but the mom was making her kid sick and convincing the world she had cancer and was like 10 years younger than she actually was. The story really stuck with me and I decided to put it with this other idea and see how it came out of me.

Before the killing starts in, "Slasher," I really felt bad for the main characters (or who we think they are). Christina comes across as someone desperately lonely and unsure how to handle her blood-based fetishes, and, "Josh," has an overbearing and emotionally abusive mother. Oftentimes in horror stories the focus is on the people fleeing the boogeyman, but here you actually try to really give us a sympathetic view of the, "monster," before they start acting monstrous. What made you want to flesh-out Christina so much so that we didn't just view her as a psychotic killer?

I can’t help it. It’s how I tell stories. Or at least it’s how I’ve figured out how to do it. I need to get into the character and make them feel real. So a lot of what I’m putting down it mapping out how they interact with the world. To me, that is the story. I’m not much of a plotter. I’m just more interested in depicting characters that feel true.
When I was reading, "Slasher," I felt like I could see it going in one direction before it very suddenly zigged where I thought it would zag. This is of course when (spoilers) we learn the so-called romance we've been witnessing is one big catfish. I thought the comic would have Christina meet Josh and either, A. Embark on a killing-spree as a couple or B. Have Jack be surprised she was actually acting out murders and not just doing some kind of weird role-play, resulting in his rejecting her. We of course got neither of those things and instead got a plot twist I use to describe the comic to friends when I say, "Slasher," is arguably about, "Why you should never catfish a serial killer." Did you have this big twist planned all along when you started the story or did it happen later on?

Honestly no I did not. But that’s okay. I had the whole thing mapped out in an outline but halfway through either due to boredom or anxiety I decided to make a left turn. It seemed like a good idea to me at the time and carried my enthusiasm the rest of the way. Part of me feels cowardly for doing it. Like I should have just stuck to my little poem I was working on. But it’s what I decided to do. This happens a lot to me. And it is what makes comics fun for me. Because It is just me and I’m not working with anyone else, I am free to do something like that. I enjoy it when it doesn’t go to plan and I like when it happens. With every step of the process I am tweaking and making changes. And I’m not a robot. Sometimes my mood can affect things in the story depending on how I’m feeling that day. But to me, that’s comics. It’s about setting up rules in the beginning and watching the characters try to stay within those rules and ultimately they end up breaking those rules.

You have made a number of comics featuring your character, "Revenger." I would say its tone is quite different from the disaffect youth in,  "TEOTFW," or the stark horror of, "Slasher." It reminds me of old grindhouse flicks or pulpy comics and when I read it, I feel like I'm enjoying a comic by someone who set out with the intention of having fun. You've done a number of series and one-shots with her, so am I correct in feeling like, "Revenger," is what you do when you feel a bit more like cutting-loose?

Yeah. It is me having fun. It is all of those things you’ve described but I think deep down it really is me getting out my frustrations with the world. She is the ultimate Social Justice Warrior. But she uses the tools of a fascist to kill fascists. So yeah, I’m having fun but I also want her to be a Dirty Harry for socialists.
Sometimes when I think of creators I associate them as doing much of their work with a particular publisher. That doesn't seem to apply to you, with you having done everything from your own micro-publishing, to working with indie publishers, having stuff come-out from Fantagraphics, and now you're doing a comic exclusively available to folk who back you on Patreon (which we'll discuss more in a second). What makes you choose whatever publisher (or lack thereof) that you do for certain projects, and why?

Well, I think when I was starting out I would see some cartoonists I admired jumping from publisher to publisher. I’ve never been one for being loyal to a certain house. Plus I came up self-publishing, and as you mentioned, I still do. I’m lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with different publishers. A big part of it is also because my books can be so different that I think it’s smart to have multiple publishers. There is so little money and opportunity in comics that I think it’s smarter for me to cast a wide net. That probably isn’t true for everyone but it works for me.

Like a number of talented creators you have a Patreon. Something I can't recall anyone else doing however is that you have a comic that people can only get by backing you on Patreon (or if a retailer backs you at a higher-level they can get some extra copies of the comic to sell at their store). What made you want to do this?

Well, I’ve been doing subscriptions for my comics since the Oily days. I think people like it. They like the regularity of getting a comic in the mail monthly (fingers crossed) and it keeps me motivated to hit that deadline every month. Patreon is just another way of doing a subscription. It really works for me. When I started floppies were dead for alternative comics. Fanta and D&Q had stopped printing any floppies. And the big publishers were giving book contracts for great big graphic novels. And that seemed to be the way the wind blew so I never thought much about serializing. But when I started TEOTFW I found that it was like a drug. I just love it. I love putting something out regularly and it helps when I get feedback during the process. It’s hard to be holed up in your room for years working on something. I mean, I love being alone but man I like telling a story in chapters and getting them out there.
I recently received my first issue of, "Automa," and loved it [since our starting the interview-process I've gotten issue #2 and #3 and they rocked too]! I get a really dark vibe from it like you've married a boxing movie and crime flick and thrown-in the complicated issue of our main character being an uncle to a newly-orphaned child. I had mixed feelings about the movie, "Drive," but loved certain elements of it, with your story making me think of the parts I liked in that movie, perhaps because it oozes a weird arty-and-gritty tone. It's just the first issue that has come out, but a lot is already happening. Can you tell me how many more issues you plan to make--if you have decided--and what readers can expect? Also, how can people who want to read, "Automa," get in on it?

Thanks, yeah. I am hesitant to say too much about AUTOMA in terms of the story because I want it to be a surprise. Right now, the rough plan is to have it be 18 chapters. It might be the biggest book I’ve made when it’s all said and done. It’s a much bigger story in terms of its timeline than any of my other comics. In my head, AUTOMA is my version of Manga. I want it to be breezy to read with good character iconography. But I’m limited by my abilities so it comes out not exactly how I envision it. And, jeez, first issues are hard. I second guesses so much stuff in that first issue. It’s touch because you have all these ideas in your head but once you start putting them down, you have a commitment. I always have to trick myself out of caring too much.

I am someone who loves music and sometimes, "Hear," a certain kind of music in my mind when I read books. Often when I flip-through your comics I either hear loud heavy-metal or weirdly tense electronic beats like something from Trent Reznor, depending on the title I'm enmeshed in. May I ask what kind of music you like and if you listen to music while working?

HAHA. This is great. Music has often been pretty important to me. And I have often listened to certain music when drawing comics. Celebrated Summer and TEOTFW were heavily influenced by Husker Du and I think I was listening to a lot of NIN when I started Slasher. It’s one of those things the readers can’t see or hear, but I do think it seeps into the work somehow.
This is probably as bland a question as you can get besides, “Where do your ideas come from?” but I am curious whom you would cite as an artistic influence, if anyone?

In comics, my biggest visual influences are E.C. Segar, Chester Brown, Frank Miller,
Klaus Janson, Charles Schulz, Jorge Zaffino, Paul Gulacy, George Herriman.

It seems like a decent amount of the time more independent-scene creators will do a project for a, “Big,” publisher. Do you have any interest in having a comic published with Image, or have you ever even considered dipping your toe into a superhero comic at Marvel or DC? I’ll be honest and tell you I’ve wondered what a Forsman-written Moon Knight might be like, or as fan-ficy as it might sound, what kind of scene we’d get if Frank Castle AKA the Punisher met the Revenger.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t think about it. But it’s still a weird thing. No one gets called a sell out anymore because artists need to get money where they can get it. But I think I would need to think about it long and hard. And there would have to be something that really pulls me to do it. Whether that’s working with someone I want to work with, I have a story I need to tell, maybe it’s freedom to do a book that I have control over and not something like taking on a regular series. I think there has to be a pretty good “why” for me to do something at Marvel or DC. But this changes daily. I’m sure if you ask me tomorrow I would just say, yeah, I want to do it.

As far as someone like Image, I actually did send a Revenger pitch to them through the normal submission channels. I knew it was a long shot not having and in over there. And as I expected I never heard anything back. I’m actually happy about that though. It made me do what I always do. Self publish. I’m often too impatient to wait around for someone to say ,”go.” You don’t get to draw comics waiting for someone to give you permission.
The television adaptation of, "TEOTFW.
Another cliche question, but we often read about how independent creators can struggle to, “Make it,” in regards to achieving a livable income where things like groceries, bills, etc. can be paid. How long did it take you to get to a point where you felt you could pursue comics as your main, “Job,” and not have to worry about going totally broke--or do you even feel you’re at that point?

Honestly, I still don’t feel that secure. Money is never stable when you work freelance. It comes and goes. My anxiety over it has lessened over the years. I left my last day job in 2011 and it was because I needed to move for unrelated reasons. I found myself jobless with no real prospects and that’s about the time I started doing TEOTFW. Sometimes flying without a net can be a good motivator. But I know that’s also a privileged position to hold. I don’t have kids or people relying on me or dire medical needs so it’s easier for me to to take that risk. I live fairly cheaply in a really small town. I think if I moved to New York City like I always dreamt of doing, I wouldn’t have many comics to show for it.

One thing that fascinates me besides the work a comic creator completes is the, “Graveyard,” of projects that they didn’t finish. Is your graveyard mostly barren with the majority of concepts you undertake reaching their conclusion or is it full of half-realized ideas or projects that found themselves at a dead-end? Would you be willing to tell us about some or any of these?

I have a few things like that. Teen Creeps is a series I began after TEOTFW. I did 4 chapters and gave up on it. I just had this feeling I couldn’t shake that I was doing the same thing I just did. So I ditched it. I have a book called Lena 4-ever about a girl who becomes a carnival stripper in the 1970s. I’m not sure why that one stalled out. I think I just put it aside intending to get back to it but just never have. I still like the idea so I may come back to it someday. I also did 2 issues of a comic called Luv Sucker. It was a teenage vampire book. Again, same thing. I just haven’t returned to it.
When you’re not makings comics what else do you like to do? Are you a video-gamer? Do you enjoy sports? Play any instruments?

I used to play guitar a lot but I haven’t picked it up in a few years. I always mean to because I find it relaxing.

Lately I’ve gotten back into video games. I was out of it since the Dreamcast died. But I’ve recently gotten into collecting NES games and playing them. But also a few modern games. I tend to gravitate to platformers though. Those are my favorites kinds of games. Metroid and Castlevania are just the best.

What is your favorite comic that you ever read?

Ha. This is what I call an impossible question.
Revenger fighting some homicidal clowns.
If you could adapt any other comic you’ve created so far into any other medium, which one would it be and in what form (movie, television show, cartoon)?

Revenger. I think it would just make a really cool show. When I started it, I sort of thought about it as being an ongoing thing so in my head seeing her story serialized on TV would be a good fit.

Do you have any other projects coming-up you can share some information about, or is, “Automa,” your main focus for now?

Right now, I’m all Automa all the time. I do mutter to myself that I’m going to do another issue of Snake Oil. Just a good old fashioned comic with a few random strips. I have some ideas so I might actually get that done sooner than later.

Concluding Thoughts
Thanks again to Charles Forsman for doing this big interview with me and being so open, honest, and interesting. I encourage everyone to visit his website and you can check-out his Patreon here!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

"Battlefield 5," Looks and Sounds Promising

Today the game, "Battlefield 5," was officially announced. Set during World War II it will have interesting changes to the usual gameplay and have zero loot boxes to buy for in-game advantages, instead favoring the ability to purchase cosmetic items. As someone who has always had a soft spot for the, "Battlefield," series (the awesome games as well as the weaker ones) I would say things look promising and sound good--at least on metaphorical paper. The only incidences of people seeming especially upset are the usual morons mad that women and black people happen to be in the game for so-called historical accuracy reasons (never-mind the major roles of women in front-line at times for the Soviet Union or how WWII was when America desegregated the military).

I don't play video-games nearly as much nowadays but this is a game I will for sure try to get some screen-time in with when it comes out in October. The single-player stories of, "Battlefield I," were great and hopefully we'll get more cool yarns here, and the multi-player antics of the, "Battlefield," games have always entertained me from the old days when I was playing, "Battlefield 1942," on my creaky PC to the shenanigans I got to on my ol' PS3 with the quality, "Battlefield 3." I'm assuming this will at least be a good time, if not a great one. Here's hoping!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Mike Wolfer is Running a Cool New Kickstarter!

Friend of the blog Mike Wolfer is running a new Kickstarter that looks really cool! Titled, "Fright and Delights," it is a collection of pin-up artwork that sounds fun. I reached-out to Mike to inquire what exactly made him want to do a new pin-up book and he told me:

"Frights & Delights is an all-new, full-color, pin-up book in the tradition of my previous Gallery of Terror/Horror/Monsters and Maximum Widow Exhibition books. You know how comics are these days, with all of the variant covers. And all of my books have variants, too, but unless you buy them all (and who can afford that), there's no one place where you can view all of the art in one sitting. So that's why I'm doing books like Frights & Delights. It gives everyone a chance to enjoy all of those various and sometimes obscure pieces of art, finally collected together in single volumes."

I also noticed the campaign has pledge levels/add-ons that allow folk to get goodies from all his other previous Kickstarter campaigns. I asked him if that was for folk who maybe missed previous campaigns and he responded:

"That's exactly the reason. Because of all of the recent, high-profile work I've done with American Mythology Productions, like Eternal Thirst of Dracula and The Land That Time Forgot, along with a few other projects that showcase my art, I've had a lot of new readers discovering my work and saying, "Wow- I've never seen your stuff before, but you've got a new fan." So I figured that since I have a huge body of work that's available in print, and since I don't have a website or mail order business, the easiest way to not only fund a new project but to offer all of those dozens and dozens of stories and series to people just discovering me is through Kickstarter. I also have a lot of people who are my super-backers, who back nearly everything that I crowdfund, but occasionally they'll miss one here or there. But once the campaign is over, that's it- You can't get many of the items or Stretch Goals again. So for old backers and new, I'm bringing back nearly all of the super-exclusive rewards from nearly all of my previous campaigns, including Stretch Goal items which were never offered anywhere else. It's like a great, catch-up or get-to-know-my-work kind of setting!"

I myself am always excited for new work from Mike Wolfer and will be backing the campaign for sure! You can find it on Kickstarter here.

Monday, May 21, 2018

A Cigarette Company Sent Me a Metal Mug for My Birthday-Month, So That's Weird

The mug and little card that opens to wish me a happy birthday
Not too long ago I made a post about the weird and now mostly-hidden world of cigarette advertising. I signed-up with Marlboro and was able to explore their odd website full of hyper-masculine, fetishistic love of cowboy imagery. They also started sending me coupons for packs and cartons that I give to a friend who smokes (they've tried in the past to quit, but struggle). The other day in the mail I got a little box from Marlboro and was confused as to what it could be. I opened it up to find I had been given a metal mug like the kind cowboys would have theoretically used, "On the range," in the past  plus a card wishing me a happy birthday.

The mug itself is pretty nice. A little paper about how to keep it good condition says it is dishwasher safe but shouldn't be microwaved. It just feels weird to get a present from a company that sends these to people basically saying, "Thanks for inhaling our product that kills you, enjoy this mug!" The way they made the mug look all old-timey with the metal design so that when using it I can theoretically feel like a, "Real," cowboy is another example of ingeniously twisted marketing for sure too.
The mug in its box.
I think I'll keep the mug because it'll be a good conversation piece when folk ask how I got it and I can tell them its strange history. That said, it still is bizarre and both at once a clever and insidious thing for a cigarette company such as Marlboro to do--"This big corporation cares enough about me to give me a present! I guess I'll keep smoking their brand until I develop cancer!" In all fairness though, it is a good quality mug. That doesn't make-up for the fact that cigarettes kill countless people and resulted in the eventual death of my Grandmother (who admittedly didn't smoke Marlboro, but yeah) despite her numerous attempts to quit--no matter how much big tobacco might wish it does--but yeah, the mug is nice. I'd rather have my Grandmother lived longer, though.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Rant-Reviews: All Indie Comics

Smaller Press, But Not Smaller Fun
I enjoy reading comics from the big two (Marvel and DC) as well as other larger comic-book publishers such as Image, IDW, Boom, Dyanmite--you know, all the, "Premier," publishers you find listed at the Previewsworld website or in Previews catalog. That said, I continue to have a great affinity for the smaller, "indie," comic-book publishers (and micro-press too). With that in mind I thought I'd discuss an assortment of works from publishers that might not be as known as the, "Big dogs," but still make some cool works.

Getting Indie With It!
Daygloayhole  #1
Published by Silver Sprocket (who also published the awesome, "No Better Words," book I loved), "Daygloayhole," is going to becoming out quarterly and collects this work of Ben Passmore as he published the comic over time. Set in the world after its end due to an unclear cataclysm, the idea of a post-apocalypse is actually more-so used as a metaphor to discuss concepts as wide-ranging as police brutality, concepts of family, the ethical and financial considerations of the commercialization of sex via pornography, and gentrification. It's a fascinatingly weird comic, prone to random asides and just as likely to make a deep statement about humanity as it is to tell a dirty joke or show some wanton violence. The comic will be coming-out quarterly so I have to wait until July to read more, which feels like a long time to have to be patient as I loved this quirky book. The wait will just make it even more fun once I get to read the next issue, right?
5 out of 5 stars.

Infinity 8 #2
I have a soft spot for the publisher Lion Forge. Part of this is because they are based in the Saint Louis region, and because I've seen them grow from a smaller publisher who I enjoyed speaking with previously, to a quite notable presence in the field of comics. The latest series, "Infinity 8," will have a number of comics set in its weird space-world with each three-issue arc self-contained, and I believe the 3rd issue is already out. I haven't been able to pick it up yet though, so I thought I'd discuss the second. Basically the first issue did a lot of introducing us to a universe of aliens and agents who keep order on spaceships. At the end of the first issue things went haywire and now we get to witness all kinds of madness and danger. The book has a real Euro-comic feel--in a good way--with a mixture of sharply striking artwork and enjoyably dry humor. Even if this issue is mostly one big action-scene it is a fun one, and I'm eager to get to the comic-shop and grab myself a copy of issue #3 as soon as possible.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Jazz Legend #1
SCOUT Comics makes a number of stellar books, from, "Stabbity Bunny," to upcoming release, "Zinnober." Their latest new series is, "Jazz Legend," and it is an interesting mesh of fantastical horror and hints of meta-ness. The comic seems to be about an amazing jazz performer but it becomes clear that he may in some ways be suffering from having his life be a story created by a writer who is himself amazed what he records comes true. At least, that is what I took from it, with other reviews online seeming pretty befuddled too by the story but loving the bizarre tone and imagery. Just how real some people are and how much they are surreal creations is unclear, but this has piqued my interest enough I for sure want to keep reading the book. It's confusing and messy, but I think intentionally so. Plus, it discusses Jazz, a beautiful artform, so that element alone makes this a keeper.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Wasted Space #1
VAULT is a newer publisher who has already been a solid job carving-out a name for themselves as putting-out interesting and surreal works. "Wasted Space," fits that bill for sure, featuring a wild mixture of ideas in a futuristic time full of space travel, religion, political intrigue, and "Fuq" bots. This is just a single issue--and a first one at that--so all these ideas at times threaten to make the story feel a bit overloaded and almost too packed with fun ideas. Thankfully things seem to balance out for the most part and by this issue's end we have a good handle on who the main characters are and what they'll be up to in future issues (taking down a corrupt politician abusing people's beliefs for his own gain seems to be the upcoming focus). It's a fun read and promising, I just hope it can deliver.
3 out of 5 stars.

Hidden Blood One-Shot
Amigo has been around for a bit and released a number of cool comics. This one-shot by the writer-artist known simply as, "Massacre," is a fun read in the style of an old-school grind-house flick. Focused on a former boxer named Clarice who has resorted to stripping since getting suspended due to her extreme methods of fighting, the book has the aforementioned strippers facing-off against a vampire, a Nazi-hunter confronted with evil robots, tons of nudity, heaping amounts of gore, and just enough knowing winks to the reader to make it clear the book is quite self-aware at its absurdity. The variety of corny plots sync-up and separate enough to make it clear care was put into the story no matter how silly it is, and Massacre's artwork is appropriately sexy or horrifying as the comic calls for it. Delightfully cheeky stuff.
5 out of 5 stars.

Galaktikon #6
Published by Albatross Funnybooks, the finale issue of this series comes from the talented Brendon Small (of "Home Movies," and "Metalocalypse," fame) where he has taken his musical albums that tell the story of flawed space-hero Galaktikon and has made it into a solidly interesting yarn about a how our idols often can be flawed and troubled jerks. It sounds depressing, but, "Galaktikon," was actually quite the darkly funny series and this final issue ends in a way that leaves the door open for more albums/comics as Galaktikon conquers some of his own personal demons and fells a longtime enemy, but still clearly needs a lot more personal growth before approaching anything resembling a functional adult. It's bleak-yet-fun stuff. I liked it a lot.
4 out of 5 stars.

There's Always Good Stuff Hiding Out There
If you ever find yourself getting tired of the kind of books put out by bigger publishers just remember there is always some good stuff hiding out there that you just might have to look a little bit for, checking out all the less-known publishers for some quality books. Also, I am aware how half the books I reviewed interestingly seemed to involve outer-space to some degree. I guess I know what I like!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Funko Friday: Princess Diana and the Upcoming Royal Wedding

The upcoming royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is less than 24 hours away and in a cool coincidence some Funko Pops featuring Princess Diana I ordered from CNS Toys arrived today. I am just old enough to remember when Princess Diana was still alive and how much we all loved her. I also remember that fateful night she sadly died in a limo crash whilst the driver was trying to evade the paparazzi. Having Funko Pops commeerating Princess Di is really neat, even if the Funko corporation maybe should have thought-through the questionable messaging of having their rarer variant labeled a, "Chase," seeing as how she passed. That aside, it is a really cool Funko Pop and I love the rarer red dress variant even more--hence it going in a hard-stack to keep it extra safe.

Thanks again to CNS Toys, and I want to remind readers of the blog that if they visit CNS Toys and make a purchase, they can use promo code TNR5 for 5% off. I appreciate CNS Toys giving me such a code to share with folk and hope it can assist other Funko-fans in getting their desired items!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Observation on Free Speech in Comics AKA Richard Meyer is a Moron

A classic piece by xkcd.
I have an observation on the concept of free speech in the field of comics. Basically, if the things you say within your comics, in regards to the comic industry, or when it comes to politics don't get you arrested and charged with a crime such as obscenity (like Mike Diana was) or locked-up in prison, you still are exercising your freedom of speech free as defined by the constitution. If your name is Richard Meyer and you say horrible and hateful things that result in the comic-book industry despising you to such a degree that a fine comic company such as Anarctic Press refuses to publish your book once made aware of your beliefs, that is fully within their rights as well. You haven't had your freedom of speech trampled on, you still are free of incarceration or being charged with any crimes. You aren't suffering for your beliefs in any way like say, Malaysian political cartoonist Zunar who has suffered horribly for critiquing the corrupt government.

Richard Meyer has said things that are homophobic, sexist, transphobic, and otherwise has proven himself to be extremely capable of blaming others for his failure to succeed in the field of comics, but shown he sucks at basically anything else--such as making good comics or behaving in manner similar to a decent human being. In other words, Meyer isn't being mistreated or persecuted. He's just mad he's getting called-out for being a dick and has rallied other hateful people to support him who like to blame any kind of diversity as making comics worse for...reasons (e.g. Comicsgate). Richard Meyer has the freedom of speech to be a horrible person, and everyone else has the right to choose not to give him any money. He isn't being arrested or locked-up, he's just a loudmouthed moron spreading hatred on the internet.

Monday, May 14, 2018

I Hope Everyone Had a Great Mother's Day Yesterday!

I hope everyone had a great Mother's Day yesterday. Ours was mostly delightful as we celebrated Samii's second Mother's Day as Clarkson's Mom. I love my wife so much and am thankful everyday for someone as caring, sweet, and beautiful as her. She's a fantastic Mother and I look forward to honoring her further on future Mother's Days!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

This Kickstarter for, "Dragonstorm Volume 1," Looks Cool

I sometimes talk about Kickstarter campaigns that have caught my eye, and seeing as how I love comics it makes sense those are generally what I focus on. The creator of a new campaign named Jaydee Rosario reached-out to let me know he had just started a campaign to collect volume 1 of, "Dragonstorm." Jaydee actually first emailed me years ago back in 2012 when he was just starting, "Dragonstorm," and he has been working hard at the series since!  "Dragonstorm," is the story of a hero who has  to raise the granddaughter of his greatest enemy. Neither of them are excited about this but they need each other in order to survive.

Jaydee is the writer and the great-looking art is done by Craig Shepard with Michael Summers on colors. I'm also encouraged by the fact that the entire story is done and they just are doing the Kickstarter to raise funds for printing the comic--this isn't one of those cases where you'll be waiting months-to-years for them to finish the book. It has 33 days to go and already has raised over 500 dollars of the $1549  goal. I wish Jaydee, Craig, and Michael the best of luck and hope their comic get funded!
Check out the Kickstarter at this link!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Advance Review: Zinnober #1

I'm on a press list for the fantastic publisher known as SCOUT Comics and had the opportunity to read an advance copy of their upcoming comic, "Zinnober." The concept is one we've seen in some other forms, a world where dragons arrived and destroyed the Earth, leaving a small number of survivors. However, writer-artist  Ralf Singh and co-writer Thorsten Brochhaus put a new and unique spin on things I quite enjoyed. Things start simply enough--at the start of the issue we meet Claire and her mentor James as they try to save a dog left out as bait for the dragons.

They end-up rescuing another human and learn that there might be some way to fight against the dragons. In the process we also learn about a dragon-worshiping cult which seems harmless, but clearly has some issues, as a cliff-hanger of potential violence makes clear. I liked that, "Zinnober," does the storytelling technique of, "Show, don't tell." It could have spent pages of text explaining the back-story that dragons invaded Earth and people now live in fearful hiding, but instead the comic lets us figure that out as it portrays the ruined world.
Singh's artwork is great, expertly showing the destruction and the imposing nature of a dragon we see. The creature is large and scary enough it seems believable that a bunch of these could have wrecked the planet. Even though it is a big concept, the story keeps things pretty grounded, focusing on the human characters and their everyday struggles to survive. It results in a fantastical world with realistic characters, a blend I quite enjoyed.

"Zinnober #1," is a great start of a story. It's mysterious but tells us enough of what we need to know, has great artwork, and introduces plenty of strong and interesting characters. I'm excited to see what future issues hold for sure. I'd rate this a great 4 out of 5 stars. You still have time to tell your comic shop to hold a copy of, "Zinnober," when it comes out and I'd encourage you to do so, this is a fantastic read!