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Monday, 31 December 2012

The Last Tape In Hell

Normally at New Readers... we review trade paperback editions of comics.  This works well with comics from the big publishers, but doesn't work so well for independent or self published comics. Back at the start of December I did a quick post about Thought Bubble 2012, a UK comics convention happening in Leeds.  A lot of  comics on sale at Thought Bubble are of the self published, single issue type, and I didn't want my readers to miss out on the fantastic stuff in the UK independent comics scene.  So, I will be spending a little while going over the very best of the ones that I bought.

These words will be culled from/inspired by short reviews I did on my other blog, Pai.  Depending on the sense of the original blog, they are likely to be edited to make more sense to new readers of comics.

Onwards...

The Last Tape in Hell

Writer and artist: Sarah Gordon

What's it about?
This is a short, glossy comic with few words but the most amazing colours.

It's set in Hell.  Satan is hard at work doing administrative, hellish type things.  His old cassette player is spewing out the sounds of hell (which turn out to be Dooom....Dooom...Dooom).  The cassette player suddenly breaks, and the tape becomes chewed up.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

Apologies for the blog silence.  December is never a good time to try and restart anything.
To make it up to you, here's a Christmas comic from Mike Maihack:

If you want more of this check out Maihack's previous strips:
Last year's Christmas comic
The first Supergirl/Batgirl one he did
The second one he did

And keeping with the Super theme, Comixology currently has a 99cent (about 60 English pence) sale on Superman comics.  The DC Women Kicking Ass tumblr has done a list of those titles most relevant to Lois Lane.  I highly recommend you check it out and I wholeheartedly endorse her recommendations for Birthright and Superman For All Seasons.  Those two are fantastic, fantastic comics.

As for titles without a Lois focus, I'd also recommend Red Son, All Star Superman, the For Tomorrow arc which cover Superman vol 2 issues 204 to 215 (I've not read this myself but I have heard very good things about it), the Superman/Batman issues and Trinity.

Links given are to the first issue of each story arc or series.

It's a ten day sale which finishes on Saturday so hurry up and take a look!

Happy holidays!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

British Comic Awards

The British Comic Awards are a new institution, launched at this year's Thought Bubble comic convention in Leeds.  I had the pleasure of attending Thought Bubble on the Saturday and bought a big stack of comics, many of which will be reviewed here.

Unfortunately I missed the awards themselves, but the nominees and winners are on the website and I encourage you all to go have a look.

I have read one of the winning books, Hilda and the Midnight Giant, and it's a great, whimsical book.  It would make a great Christmas present for kids.

I'll be back in a week or so when I've got some proper reviews written up.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Five titles for new readers

The ever excellent DCWomenKickingAss tumblr has done a post titled 'Five titles to get a dude into comics'.

Don't be swayed by the tongue in cheek title, these are series for all readers!

She has suggested books for fans of the Arrow TV series, the Avengers and Dark Knight Rises films, the Syfy channel, and readers of Stephen King.

If you want more inspiration you can read our posts on Green Arrow (digital comics here, Smallville inspired comics here), the Avengers and the Dark Knight Rises, but do check out the DCWKA tumblr too.

Coming up will be reviews of the best comics I found at the Thought Bubble comic convention a couple of weeks ago.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Free comics!

I've just moved house and am clearing out my bookshelves, so have put up a few listings of CDs, books, and comics that I need to get rid of over on my other blog.  I thought the comics might be of interest to readers here, so take a look and if you want any of them email me on paicomics at yahoo dot co dot uk.

I'll just ask you to pay postage and donate some money towards one of the following charities:
ASN
The RSPB's Albatross campaign
Leeway Women's refuge

I don't want payment for the books: I just need shelf space, and I really do not want to go through the hassle of listing them all on ebay.
 
So here's the list.  Where we've done reviews of the books I've included a link.

You Don't Look Forty, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz (Paperback, 1990) (complete Peanuts series reviewed here)
I''ll Be Your Slave (Yaoi)
Antique Bakery Volume (Yaoi)
The Moon and Sandals Volume 2 (Yaoi)
The Moon and the Sandals: Volume 1 (Yaoi)
Iono-Sama Fanatics: Volume 1 (Yuri)
Shinobu Kokoro (Yaoi)
Dragonslippers: This Is What An Abusive Relationship Looks Like
Spiderman Annual: 2003 by Egmont Childrens Books (Hardback, 2002)  (good for kids)
Superman: The Ultimate Guide to the Man of Steel by Scott Beatty (Hardback, 2002) (good for kids)
Freddie & Me: A Coming of Age (Bohemian) Rhapsody

The Yaoi and Yuri ones are for adults, not children

Monday, 5 November 2012

Ame-Comi girls



Writers: Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti
Art credits:
Ame-Comi Girls issues 1-6: Eduardo Francisco (art), Ikari Studio and Santi Casas (colours)
Ame-Comi Girls issues 7-8: Santi Casas (art), Randy Mayor (colours)
Ame-Comi Girls Wonder Woman: Amanda Connor (art), Paul Mounts (colours)
Ame-Comi Girls Batgirl: Sanford Greene (art), Randy Mayor (colours)
Ame-Comi Girls Duela Dent: Ted Naifah (art), Randy Mayor (colours)
Ame-Comi Girls Power Girl: Michael Bowden (art), Randy Mayor (colours)
Ame-Comi Girls Supergirl: Santi Casas (art) , Randy Mayor (colours)
Publisher: DC Comics

What's it about?
It's a weekly comic series from DC. The basic premise is that this is an earth where only women are heroes.  It's based on the Ame-Comi line of statues, which are basically manga/anime inspired sexy versions of DC's heroines.  You can see some of them on Amazon here.  Some are horrific, like this Wonder Woman one (why is she not wearing anything??), others are pretty good.  There was not really a story behind the action figures, so one has been created.
From Ame-Comi Girls 6, I think
The series started with 3 issue spotlights on 5 characters - Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Duela Dent, Power Girl, and Supergirl.  Wonder Woman looks at how Diana comes to America and forms a pact with the American government.  Batgirl and Duela Dent go hand in hand, introducing each character and setting up for the full series.  Duela's origin is really creepy.  These issues also introduce us to other key players such as Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Steel, and Brainiac.  Power Girl has Kara saving the day in metropolis then fighting Lex Luthor.  At the end, another visitor from Krypton arrives, and we segue into Supergirl.  Supergirl crashes to earth with Brainiac's army close behind.  Both Karas try to stop them, but Brainiac has other plans.
From the Duela Dent issues

Then the Ame-Comi series starts proper.  Issues 1 to 6 have all the heroes, led by Wonder Woman (because she says that's what's going to happen),  band together to fight Brainiac and save the earth.  Brainiac is an amazingly advanced robot from the far off reaches of space who consumes the knowledge of all the worlds she visits, then destroys them.  Issues 7 and 8 introduce Jade as this sector's Green Lantern.
From Ame-Comi Girls 7

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Lengths


Writer and Art: Howard Hardiman
Publisher: Self published

What's it about?

What lengths do we go to in our lives? To make money? To meet boyfriends? To keep boyfriends? To survive?

From the website:
"It’s hard being someone’s Mister Right when for a hundred pounds an hour, you’re anyone’s Mister Right Now.  Young ex-art student Eddie has abandoned his course, his family, his lover and his friends to follow a male escort into a world of sex, drugs and unrequited love. Now, he is beginning a tentative romance with an old friend and having to face up to the challenge of being honest in a relationship about what he’s doing in the weird hours he works and the lengths he’s willing to go to to try to please everyone around him."


There's no rainbows in this, no whimsical camp paraphernalia.  It's a seedy, gritty story about a male prostitute coming to a crossroads in his life.  It's sometimes sordid, sometimes touching.  The juxtaposition between the lead's life as Ford, sex worker, and his life as Eddie, drop out art student, is the main message of the story.  Exploring this, we see Eddie with past boyfriends, how he got into sex work, and his blossoming relationship with Dan, who has no idea about Eddie's job.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Comics now available on the Kindle

This news is a little bit late, but today is the first time I've had a chance to write something.

A recently released  update now means that comics can be read comfortably on the Amazon Kindle. Previously, the e-reader supported pdf files and could easily display images, but you couldn't zoom in to particular panels or places on the page.  This meant that the text and detail of the images could be difficult to read.

This has all changed.  The updated software that Kindle have installed on all users' devices now displays your comics one page at a time, then panel by panel for that page.   This makes them a lot easier to read as the images are big enough that squinting is unnecessary.  There are now hundreds and hundreds of comics for sale on the Kindle website.

The downside is that most comics weren't created to be read in a panel by panel format, so you could potentially lose some of the impact of the page.  When artists/letterers/colourists/inkers create a page they have, up to now at least, done so with the knowledge that readers will look at the whole page first, then read it panel by panel.  There are a few comics out there written for e-readers (DC's Ame-Comi Girls and Smallville are two examples), and you can see how they are put together and laid out differently.  Also, the Kindle (not the Kindle Fire) can only display black and white images.

However for people like me who have a Kindle, don't want to carry lots of comics around, and are willing to sacrifice the colour or page impact, comics on the Kindle is a bloody great thing.  Go forth and buy!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Peckham House for Invalids



Story & Script: Howard Hardiman
Script, Line Art & Colour: Sarah Gordon
Cover art: Julia Scheele
Publisher: Self published

This will not be a full review as we're looking at only 1 issue here, but it's that good I just want to gush about it!

From the website:
In 1906, as Britain surges on a tide of industrialisation driven by the brave innovations of the boldest and the best, Ms York has opened the doors of her modest home in Peckham. A group of poor, young, ill-educated, disabled and abandoned girls found their way to her and under her auspices are learning about the power they have feared the most in the world of oppression and stark inequality: their own. The Peckham Invalids is a comic about disabled teenage superheroines in 1906 Peckham from Howard Hardiman, Julia Scheele, Sarah Gordon and friends.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Spider-Girl (MC2 universe)

 "No one dies on my watch"
Writer: Tom DeFalco
Pencils: Pat Oliffe
Inks: Various
Colours: Various
Letters: Various
Publisher: Marvel Comics

What's it about?
Spider-Girl is May Parker, the daughter of Peter Parker (Spider-Man) and Mary-Jane Watson.  This series is set in the Marvel Comics 2 (MC2) universe, a sort of What If? parallel reality where creators can explore alternative ideas.  In the main continuity May Parker was snatched from her parents shortly after birth, and is presumed dead.  In this MC2 universe she was snatched but then given back, and is now about 15 years old.  She's a regular schoolgirl - reasonable student, loves basketball and plays for the school team.  As the series starts she is just starting to exhibit her inherited spider powers, more or less the same as her Dad's.
Image on the right is from issue 56.

This series is about her life - how she dons the Spider-Girl mantle, how she deals with new villains and old heroes, how she manages school life and superheroics, and how her parents support her in her new activities.  It's a basic premise, delivered with a sense of fun and love.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Green Arrow Sale on Comixology

A Twitter friend has just alerted me to the fact that Comixology, the digital comics retailer, has a Green Arrow sale.  Each issue is 99 American cents, or about 50p (English money).

Green Arrow is one of DC's superheroes.  He dresses in green and is an ace archer.  He has an on again/off again relationship with Black Canary, ace martial artist with a sonic scream.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Dragon Slippers: This is what an abusive relationship looks like


Writer and artist: Rosalind B. Penfold
Publisher: Harper Collins

All images taken from the Dragon Slippers website.

What's it about?
Dragon Slippers chronicles the life of Rosalind B Penfold as she moves from a happy, successful career into an abusive relationship, and eventually out again.
Warning - the images used within this post may prove triggering for some readers.  None are graphic or violent but they do show conversations and events used to humiliate and control.

Monday, 27 August 2012

General recommendations

I had such a lot of things to write about this week and then my other half got hit by a car and is in hospital (but thankfully isn't hurt too badly - he'll just take a long time to heal), so I find myself unable to write proper reviews.

Instead, can I suggest these books and/or series.  I may have mentioned them before - if so, then you should definitely get them!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Seen the movie? Now read the book - Batman: The Dark Knight Rises

The last of Christopher Nolan's Batman films came out a few weeks ago and, man, it was good.  It had everything in it that I wanted, and more.  It was more comic-y than the previous two films, which might be why I got so much out of it - but then my non comic reading friends who I went with also loved it.

So of course I now need to give you recommendations for books to read, based on the film.  I'll put everything below the cut because I really don't want to spoil the film for anyone. In short - go see it, it's fabulous.  Then come back here and find out which books you need to read to discover more!



Sunday, 5 August 2012

Wonder Woman: The 12 Labours

Writer: Len Wein, Cary Bates, Elliott S Maggin, Martin Pasko
Pencils: Curt Swan, Irv Novick, John Rosenberger, Dick Dillin, Jose Delbo
Art: Kurt Schaffenberger, Dick Giordiano
Colours: No credits given
Inks: Tex Blaisdell, Phil Zupa, Vince Colletta
Letters: No credits given
Covers: Bob Oskner, Nick Cardy, Mike Grell, Dick Giordiano, Ernie Chan
Publisher: DC

What's it about?
Back in the 1960s Wonder Woman lost her powers and spent several years fighting crime in her civilian identity of Diana Prince (this is commonly known as the white jumpsuit era).  In 1974 she regained her powers and was asked to re-join the Justice League of America (JLA).  Questioning her abilities and skill after so many years without them, she demanded that she put through a series of tests to determine if she was still Justice League material.  These tests would take the form of other members of the JLA observing her adventures and judging for themselves whether or not she was fit to work with them again.

It's worth mentioning that the JLA were ready to take her back and it was only  Diana that insisted on being tested (so you can probably see a plot flaw right away, but more on plot devices later).

Anyway, these adventures form her 12 Labours and the meat of the book.  Each adventure takes place over one issue and as such comes with titles such as The Man Who Mastered Women, Amazon Attack Against Atlantis, The Day Time Broke Loose, and Revolt of the Wonder Weapons.

The Wonder Woman of this book has a different power set to the modern Wonder Woman (because these sorts of things are continually being updated, and Wonder Woman herself was rebooted after the 1980s maxi series Crisis On Infinite Earths).  In this book she glides on air currents rather than flies, has an invisible robot plane, loses her powers if bound by a man, and knows all worldly languages.  The bullets and bracelets trick is still there, as is her magic lasso, and her Amazon strength and skill.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Smile

Smile, by Raina Telgemeier
Publisher: Graphix

This review is written by Becky Hawkins.  Becky drew her first minicomic in 2007, right before landing a job as a cruise ship musician. Since then she has kept a travel-journal online, self-published eight more minicomics, and contributed to The Zinester’s Guide to NYC. She especially loves drawing food, old buildings and quirky bodies. If she had a spouse or a cat, she would mention them here.  Becky is the creator of French Toast Comix (which we reviewed here).  You can follow her on twitter using @hawkins_becky.

Now for the review:

What’s it about?
After losing her front teeth in a nasty fall, 11-year-old Raina Telgemeier undergoes a series of braces, retainers, dentures and oral surgery to repair her mouth. Between visits to the dentist, she faces boy trouble, friend trouble and even an earthquake! Luckily for Raina, she finds her artistic passion and a new set of friends. Luckily for us, she also became a cartoonist, so we can all enjoy sharing her adolescent pain!

 

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man volumes 1 and 2






















Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Sara Pichelli, Chris Samnee and David Marquez
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Letters: Vic's Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel

What's it about?
Spider-Man is, as the name suggests, a man imbued with spider related powers.  Most people recognise Peter Parker as the man under the mask, but this series takes place in Marvel's Ultimate Universe where things have changed.  In this universe Peter Parker is dead and everyone knows his secret identity as Spider-Man.

Now there is a new Spider-Man.  He's got a black and red suit and he looks younger than Peter ever looked.  He is Miles Morales, aged 13, African American and with quite a different set up to Parker.

Miles isn't in any way connected with Peter, so this isn't a case of a friend taking up the superhero mantle.  Although Miles got his powers the same way (bitten by a spider), his powers are different (it was a different sort of spider).  He can crawl up walls and has enhanced strength and agility, but unlike Peter he also has a venomous sting and can turn invisible, or at least camouflage into the background.
From volume 1, pencils by Pichelli

Volume 1 tells how Miles gets his powers and introduces us to his life and family and friends, and brings in other members of the superhero community with personal connections to Peter (they aren't always pleased that an unknown has donned the suit).  Volume 2 tells how he deals with his Uncle discovering his powers and trying to use Miles for his own nefarious ends (his Uncle is not a good person). 

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Seen the movie? Read the book – Avengers


So you may have heard of a certain high-profile superhero movie, out earlier this year. It was called The Avengers. I intended to do a list of book suggestions shortly after I saw it, but what with one thing and another, I never did.

Better late than never, I give you our ideas...

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Death in the Family

Batman: A Death in the Family
Writer: Jim Starlin
Penciller: Jim Aparo
Inker: Mike De Carlo
Colourist: Adrienne Roy
Letters: John Costanza
Publisher: DC Comics

Today's guest review is by Jimmy McGlinchey:
Posing as a mild-mannered accountant, the entity known as @JimmyMcG on Twitter is an enthusiastic DC Comics follower who has been collecting DC comics since 1989. Other interests include travel, cinema, television and trivia.  You can follow him on twitter @JimmyMcG.

What’s it all about?
In the 1980s, Dick Grayson had quit his role as Robin to Bruce Wayne’s Batman, moving on up to the persona of Nightwing. His role as Robin was taken over by Jason Todd, a young street orphan who Batman came across when finding Jason trying to steal the tyres from the Batmobile. Todd was a much darker incarnation than Dick Grayson’s Robin, prone to defying Batman’s orders and being rebellious.  In a comic before the “Death in the Family” storyline, it was implied that Jason caused the death of a serial rapist, who, being the son of a diplomat, would escape prosecution for his crimes.

Jason Todd as Robin was not popular with the readers and, with the availability of technology to poll readers, DC Comics decided to use this to promote a storyline whereby the readers decided if Jason Todd should live or die.

As “Death in the Family” begins, Batman makes the decision to bench Jason Todd, fearing his emotional state would cause him injury. Jason, while suspended, makes a discovery that his mother was in fact his step-mother, and that three possibilities of his real mother were located in either the Middle East or Ethiopia. Jason sneaks away to try and locate his mother. However, Batman is also on the way to the Middle East as a certain escaped lunatic has absconded there with a stolen cruise missile in tow….

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Batgirl Showcase


Writer: Various, but includes Gardner Fox, Cary Bates, Bob Haney, Frank Robbins, Robert Knaigher, Mike Friedrich
Pencils: Various, but includes Carmine Infantino, Curt Swan, Gil Kane, Bob Brown, Don Heck, Neal Adams
Inks: Various, but includes Don Heck, Dick Giordano, Vince Coletta, Murphy Anderson.
Publisher: DC 

What's it about?
Batgirl, lady crimefighter extraordinare!  Barbara Gordon has a PHD, a brown belt in Judo, and she can best just about any criminal you put her in front of her.  She's the daughter of police commissioner James Gordon and by day she works as a librarian.  When invited to the police masquerade ball she decides to attend in a homemade Batgirl outfit.  However, a series of coincidences lead her to take up the superhero mantle.

The closest thing Barbara Gordon has to superpowers is a photographic memory. Mostly, her talent and ingenuity come from her personality and her athletic skill. As mentioned above, she's accomplished at judo and she's inherited her detective father's investigative nature. Using her Bat themed motorcycle to get around, she solves crimes and thwarts evil doers, on her own, without help from anyone else.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Sugar Glider Stories

Sugar Glider Stories
Tales from the Sugar Glider Universe

Writers: Various
Art: Various
Creators: Daniel Clifford (writer) and Gary Bainbridge (art)
Publisher: Cottage Industry Comics and Unterwelt Comics

What's it about?
Sugar Glider is set in Newcastle, England, and follow the exploits of Susie Sullivan, a costumed crimefighter dressed a little like Catwoman, but with a vastly different personality and background.  Tales from the Sugar Glider Universe gives us self contained stories from this universe.

Susie only has a few walk on parts in this issue, instead the stories focus on her family, other costumed supergroups, disgruntled cafe employees and loved up young men.  The stories don't interlink, instead they provide charming slice of life anecdotes from the Sugar Glider characters' lives.  There are a few stories told in the present, but most is told in flashback: 5 months ago.. 4 months ago.. 2 days ago.  It finishes in the here and now, interviewing a detective at the scene of a nightclub fit, tempting us to find out more.

Normally we only review trades at New readers... but as this is a small press comic and unlikely to be traded it seems rather unfair not to mention it.  So instead it is a 40 page just over A5 in size, magazine style format.

Monday, 11 June 2012

JL8

Little League
JL8
A webcomic by Yale Stewart
http://jl8comic.tumblr.com/

Edit - Since writing this review the comic has changed it's name from Little League to JL8.  Info in post is now updated.

What's it about?
JL8 is an all ages webcomic that takes DC’s premier superhero team, the Justice League of America, de-ages them, and places them in primary school. They attend in costume, and in character, bicker, make friends and encounter vile adversaries such as PE teacher Darkseid!
( From strip #18)

It’s a very simple idea, executed very well. 

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Swallow Me Whole


Written and drawn by Nate Powell
Publisher: Top Shelf

What's it about?
Teenagers Ruth and Perry are siblings with mental health problems.  Perry has a little wizard only he can see, who forces him to draw.  Ruth suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) which takes the form of shelf ordering and collecting preserved insects.  They live in a very strong bible area, so strong that their science teacher cannot teach science that has been proven.  A lesson on asexual reproduction starts with a chapter of Luke, within the bible.  Ruth and Perry live with their parents and their elderly grandmother, who is very ill and lives on the sofa.  It's about familes, and relationships, and mental health.

The book shows us year or so of Ruth and Perry's lives.  It drops you in, rushes you along and whisks you away, in what feels like minutes.  The reader is left floundering, gasping for air and a feeling of steadyness.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Anya's Ghost

Welcome to another guest reviewer, Becky Hawkins.  Becky dew her first minicomic in 2007, right before landing a job as a cruise ship musician. Since then, she has kept a travel-journal online,  self-published eight more minicomics, and contributed to The Zinester’s Guide to NYC. She especially loves drawing food, old buildings and quirky bodies. If she had a spouse or a cat, she would mention them here.  Becky is the creator of French Toast Comix (which we reviewed here).  You can follow her on twitter using @hawkins_becky.
On to the review..


Art and Words by Vera Brosgol
Publisher: First Second

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Aquaman 101 sale continued

Following on from my previous post on the Aquaman 101 sale, I bought several issues and now feel able to wax lyrical about why you should buy them.  Read on!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Aquaman 101 digital comics sale

In leiu of an actual review (yes, real life is still very hectic) we thought you'd like to know about an Aquaman 101 sale on comixology, starting 19th May (Saturday).  The comics are all 99 cents each (dirt cheap, about 50p in English money) for 3 days.

Aquaman is the King of Atlantis.  He gets a lot of teasing in popular culture, which really isn't right because he's a great character.  He's has several incarnations over the years - clean cut King, husband and father, bearded, hook handed, water handed, back to clean cut, grumpy, heroic, fun loving...he's done it all.  He's been in Smallville, as a sort of frat boy version.
Here's the promo poster for the sale:

If you click the picture it should get bigger and more readable.

I particularly recommend any title from 1986 onwards, particularly the ones titles 1994 to 2001, written by Peter David. The 2003 to 2006 issues are also well worth picking up for the Sub Diego storyline, where San Diego falls into the sea, issues 15-20.
Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis has beautiful art and a real dreamy feel to it.
Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman was awful. Don't bother with that.

If you want to read any more of him, there is currently an ongoing Aquaman series, also available on comixology.  Also check our Aquaman and Justice League tags for other books with him in.

It's generally worth checking out Comixology's sales as they regularly have good stuff for rock bottom prices.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Vanguard

Vanguard
A web comic by Dan Butcher

Today's guest post is brought to you by Rob Turner.  Rob is a writer/producer for Polycomical Studios, the creators of Reynard City. You can download the comics for free and find out more about the project at www.reynardcity.com.
(You can also read our review of Reynard City here).

What's it about?
How many British superheroes can you name? For the average “man in the street” this is quite difficult. An older generation may name Dan Dare. For the younger generation they may strain and wonder if Lara Croft or James Bond count (at times their acrobatics/gadgetry is borderline superhero). Some might argue Dr Who might be a good example, given that he has both supernatural abilities and his quirky nature makes him distinctly British.

For comic fans there are of course people such as Captain Britain or Emma Frost of the X-Men (though her status as superhero is debatable, seeing as she has veered from hero, anti hero to outright villain.) The Vanguard looks set to change this. Not only do we get one British superhero but a whole team’s worth!

The Vanguard are the stars of Vanguard, a comic written by top online comic artist Dan Butcher, who has worked on a variety of projects and whose style has helped to boost the appeal of numerous different titles.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Comics for teens

I am often asked for recommendations for comics for children and teenagers.  I am asked so often, I thought I'd do a couple of posts rounding up all the books I usually point people towards.  So, this post will focus on comics on children, (say up to about age 11 or 12) and a second post will focus on comics for teenagers (aged 12 or 13 and upwards).

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Comics for kids

I am often asked for recommendations for comics for children and teenagers.  I am asked so often, I thought I'd do a couple of posts rounding up all the books I usually point people towards.  So, this post will focus on comics on children, (say up to about age 11 or 12) and a second post will focus on comics for teenagers (aged 12 or 13 and upwards).

Monday, 7 May 2012

Update

Hi everybody.

We're overhauling the label system on this here blog to make it easier to use.  The new labels each have a category - Char (for character), Writer, Genre, Art, Publisher, etc.  However, we're only halfway through this somewhat mammoth task.  Today we've gone through all 248 published and scheduled posts and sorted out most of the labels, but a few more (e.g. the LGBT, Disability, CoC and About tags) have yet to be given an overall category.  Also, all links to labels within blog posts are not yet updated.

So, please bear with us if links are broken and labels seem a bit strange.  Hopefully we can get this all fixed within the next few weeks.  When completed, I'll put up a post saying it's all done.

Thanks for your patience.

Sequential Art

 Sequential Art
A webcomic by Phillip M Jackson

What's it about?
It's a webcomic that started out slice of life-ish, then branched out more unusual topics like aliens and laboratory testing of intelligent scientist squirrels.  It about a group of people, Art (an artist),  Kat (a cat and photographer), Pip (a penguin, makes his money by buying and selling on Ebuy), Scarlet (a squirrel with a very short attention span), the denizens (black blobs) and Leonard/Ducky (a platypus).

It's told in strip format, with a gag in each instalment and it's British.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Free Comic Book Day!

Saturday May 5th is Free Comic Book Day!  It's an opportunity to discover lots of new comics, including a lot of kids comics, for free!

Shops all over the USA take part, as do ones in the UK and other countries.  For more information on the initiative see the website.

To find a participating shop near you, either see the above website, ring your local shop, or if you don't know any shops near you, take a look at this list we put together, and give one close by you a ring

Free Comic Book Day is one of my favourite days of the year.  Celebrate with us!   :)

Friday, 27 April 2012

Top Shelf Comix digital sale - ends Sunday 29th April

In addition to our earlier post of recommended books, Top Shelf Comix are having a weekend sale on some of their digital books.
I have bought The Pterodactyl Hunters, Blue, Lost Dogs, Essex County, Any Empire, Swallow Me Whole, Too Cool To Be Forgotten and Underwired.  All for 5 dollars or less.

The sale ends Sunday 29th April, so get in there while you can!  Comics are available to read on the Top Shelf App, Comixology app or Comixology website (where I read them).

A few recommendations

Hi all.  There has been a noticeable lack of posts recently.  I can only apologise.  I think real life has overtaken many of us.  Speaking for myself, I have started a British Sign Language NVQ recently and it's leaving me with very little spare time, so I cannot write full length reviews (heck I can barely think of things I would like to write, let along putting fingers to keyboard).

So instead, I shall share with you books I have recently read that I particularly enjoyed.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Rocketeer: Jetpack Treasury Edition


Written and drawn by: Dave Stevens
Colored by: Laura Martin
Lettered by: Carrie Spiegle
Publisher: IDW Publishing

What’s it about?
The Rocketeer tells the story of Cliff Secord, a stunt pilot who used to race a plane around in a "circus act" during the 1930s'.

That is, until the day Cliff found a very strange package hidden inside his airplane.
Some gangsters left it behind while they were being chased by the police.
What Cliff found that day was actually a working jet pack prototype!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Thor

Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Penciller: Olivier Coipel
Inker: Mark Morales
Colourist: Laura Martin and Paul Mounts
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Publisher: Marvel

What's it about?
The Gods are dead.  Destroyed in the last great battle, Ragnarok, Thor exists in the void.  Called back to a shadowy dreamscape by Donald Blake, his human alter-ago, they consider their role in life, or even ifthey desire a life. To live, to return to earth, proves a sweet temptation for Thor and so he returns.  The other Gods are asleep, trapped in human bodies and Asgard has to be rebuilt.  As Thor travels the earth searching for his lost brethren he discovers the tragedies that have beset mankind in his absence, and comes across a few old enemies.


Sunday, 15 April 2012

Wednesday Comics and Buffy comics for sale

Apologies for the slightly off topic post but it is (sort of) linked to the blog.

I'm having to free up shelf space so am sadly selling some of my comics.  One set is Wednesday Comics, the other is Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, issues 1 to 32 with a few one shots.  the Buffy comics are being sold by story arc, for example, The Long Way Home is one listing.

We reviewed Wednesday Comics here.  There are some really, really great stories in there.  The Supergirl and Wonder Woman ones are my favourites, and are great for younger readers.

We talked about the Buffy season 8 issues here.  Again, there are some quality stories and quality issues in the run, and if you are a Buffy fan you will probably get a lot of enjoyment out of the issues.

The full ebay listings are here, they will be live for 7 days.  Please bid!

Thank you.

(EDIT: I've also added DC New52 titles to the ebay sale - Superman, Action Comics, Hawkman, Nightwing, Batgirl, Deadman and more. Please go check them out).

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Reynard City


ReynardCity, a foxy webcomic
http://reynardcity.com/

Writer: Will Turner
Artists: Various
Publisher: Independent/webcomic

Today's guest review comes courtesy of Dan Wright.  Dan is a writer of Manga and Fantasy, who currently has two books out. He also reviews part time on Read2Review and does what he can to help indie authors. Check out his website at the provided links:
Facebook and Twitter and his Website.

On with the review!

What’s it about?
Reynard City is the brain child of Will Turner, whose story tells of three superpowered foxes fighting for their lives on their homeworld of Animal Kingdom. Fighting against the villainous Mega Fox (a villain so badass that even Megatron the Transformers villain would cower before him), the start of the story throws you right into the action and doesn’t let up; until the foxes (and Mega Fox himself) find themselves teleported in Reynard City, amongst the humans.
Split up from each other and constantly hunted by their enemies, the team take on human personalities and now have to juggle double lives as both humans and crime fighters.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Princeless: Save Yourself

Story: Jeremy Whitley
Art and Colours: M Goodwin
Letters: Jung-Ha Kim
Publisher: Action Lab Comics

What's it about?
Princeless is about Princess Adrienne who lives in a land of fairy tale castles.  When the Princesses reach age 16 they are put in a tower guarded by a fearsome dragon, where they languish until a dashing would be Prince comes to rescue them.  It's traditional.  Apparently knowing which end of a sword to stick in a dragon is a fit test for kingship..

Adrienne isn't best please with this state of affairs, and after one particularly luckless knight turns up she decides she's had enough.  Chatting late into the night with Sparky (the dragon) they decide to abandon the castle, fake her own death and set off on a quest to save her sisters from their towers.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Doom Patrol - Rachel Pollack's run



Writer: Rachel Pollack
Artists: Various, see 'other information' section for more details
Publisher: Vertigo (an imprint of DC comics)
Issue 64 on the left, issue 87 on the right 

What's it about?
The Doom Patrol are the odd group in the DC Universe.  Members are typically thought of as freakish with strange powers.  They don't seem to fit in well or be accepted in other parts the superheroic or non powered world. Issues 64 to 87 are all written by Rachel Pollack after she took over from Grant Morrison, so Pollack is building on established continuity whilst carving out new stories for her version of the team.

This particular incarnation of the group has the following members:
Dorothy Spinner, a young teenage monkey-faced girl who can make her imaginary friends become real.
Cliff Steele, a man's brain in a robot body.
Niles Caulder, the boss of the group, previously a wheelchair user, now just a self-sustaining head.
Kate Godwin, a woman with coagulating powers
George & Marion the bandage people, made of sentient self replicating bandages.
Charlie, a living teddy bear with the head of a doll.

As for what they get up to, they live in a house full of the ghosts of those who died during auto erotic experiments.  There's a few issues dealing with Dorothy's powers and the dangerous beings she calls out of her head, there's Cliff trying to reconcile his humanity with his body.  There's wild girls and trickster gods using the Doom Patrol to settle old scores.  There's ideas about world building based on the Greek story of the teirasias and then it ends with a few issues exploring Jewish mysticism.  Throughout all this there are recurring themes of sexuality, gender and humanity - what it means to be you, and real.

So, you can understand that this isn't your typical glamorous superhero group.  The Vertigo imprint publishes adult, more mature (that isn't a byword for pornographic), more intellectual books than the regular DC titles.  So, when you combine that ethos with the Doom Patrol's premise, you end up with some really interesting work. 

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Freddie and Me (LGBT History Month)

A coming of age (bohemian) rhapsody

Writer and artist: Mike Dawson
Publisher: Jonathan Cape

What's it about?
This is Mike's life story, as soundtracked by Queen.

When I say soundtracked by Queen, I mean everything is told through a Queen filtered lens.  Dawson is something of a superfan, and so all major moments in his life are linked to the band and their music.  He's born in England, where he first discovers Queen on Top of the Pops (an old BBC music programme that ran weekly for about 30 years, it was an institution) by watching the video for I Want to Break Free.
 
This starts a lifelong obsession which follows him through primary school, his family move to America aged 11, his teenage years, his first girlfriends, his first jobs and meeting and marrying his wife. He's also pretty passionate about art, which explains why this is a comic and not a prose book.

What's good about it?
Oh gods, it's embarrassingly accurate to being an obsessed teenage fan.   I don't know how many of you were also into music as a teen, but I was.  I'd read the music papers from cover to cover.  I had my favourite bands I'd listen to over and over.  I knew all the trivia.  I'd learn the words.  I'd spout off about the amazingness of said bands, their music and the members.  I'd connect everything with certain bands.  I'd take it personally when someone insulted my favourite band.  I lived and breathed music.
Reading this comic flung me straight back into that feeling - I recognise all the nerdy, fannish things Dawson does.  He captures the intensity and the awkwardness perfectly.  His sister is massively into Wham and George Michael in particular, which gives us some great sibling/band rivalry scenes.

If you identify with where he's coming from, you'll probably laugh and cry and cringe, just like I did.  Then perhaps you'll feel a little bit of pride at the fellow superfan who's grown up and still nurtures that love for Queen.
What's bad about it?
If you aren't a Queen fan, or aren't a big music fan, you may not find much to interest you.  Dawson's life story, judged on it's own merits, isn't particularly interesting.  It's the tidbits about his fannish love of Queen that bring life to it, that provide the sometimes funny, sometimes moving, sometimes sad, moments.
What's the art like?
Ahh, this is another high point!  Dawson's cartooning is fabulous.  It's all black and white and it's so expressive.  He draws familial resemblances while making each person distinct.  His depictions of other rock stars are eerily accurate even though they are a bit caricatured.  I've rarely seen real people captured so well on paper.

When he draws Freddie Mercury singing, or himself singing, as in for example the cover of the book, you can feel the energy streaming off the page.  Dawson is a natural at drawing epic, intense, charged scenes.  When he shows us how he reacted when he found out Freddie died, well, my heart broke for him.


In short, the art is great and is one of the standout aspects to this book.

More information
Apparently only available in hardcover, Amazon prices this at £9.89.  The ISBN is 0224081934.
Mike Dawson has a website here.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Demon Knights (LGBT History month)

 We find the source of the problem, and we throw dragons at it
- The Questing Queen's war strategy
Writer: Paul Cornell
Pencils: Diogenes Neves and Robson Rocha
Colours: Marcelo Maiolo
Inks: Oclair Albert with Rocha and Neves
Letters: Jared K Fletcher
N.B. These are the credits for issue 6 but I'm pretty sure think issues 1-5 had the same creative team.
Publisher: DC Comics

What's it about?
Demon Knights is a new ongoing comic book series published by DC Comics.  It's set in England Southern France (so the writer told me) in the Dark Ages, and gathers together an unlikely group of magic users who end up fighting side by side against the enemy.  The group is made up of Exoristos, tall, super strong woman; Sir Ystin, the Shining Knight; Jason Blood, host of the demon Etrigan, Madame Xanadu, magician who was at the fall of Camelot; Vandal Savage, immortal; Horsewoman, archer extraordinaire; Al Jabr, saracen and inventor.

The Questing Queen sends her horde to battle the kingdom of Alba Serum.  To get there, they have to go through a village named Little Spring.  When the front runners arrive in the village and barge their way into the local pub, our 'Demon Knights' take this interruption to their quiet pint seriously, and start fighting the invaders.  Things escalate, and before you know it there's dragons and demons, and winged horses, giant rhinoceroses and magic shields and sacrifices and so on and so forth.

It's a full on fantasy series, and it's ever so English.

Monday, 20 February 2012

The Princess (LGBT History month)

 The Princess
A webcomic by Christine Smith
http://the-princess.funonthe.net/
What's it about?
The Princess is about Princess Sarah, aged about 8 years, maybe 9 or 10, who was born with a male body and named Seth by her parents.  The first strip introduces Sarah to us as a happy, confident girl:
Sarah's parents are divorced and she lives with her mother.  Her mother is having difficulty accepting Sarah's decision to dress as a girl, as she's worried about Sarah being bullied and having a hard life if she doesn't present as male.  However, Sarah finds support from her best friend Irma, her father, her aunt and her aunt's friends.

As much as it's a story about being trans, it's a also a story about young kids, their imaginations, school, pre-pubescent crushes and adventure!