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Sunday, 21 December 2014

Princeless volume 3: Interview with the artists

Today's post is a little different from our regular reviews. 2 years ago i reviewed volume 1 of Princeless (here http://paipicks.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/princeless-save-yourself.html) and in January volume 3 will be released. To honour this, and to do more promotion for a series I absolutely adore, I got an interview with the two artists for volume 3. I took the opportunity to ask them about the technical side of making comic art, with the idea that it would help new readers understand the creation process more, and also because I love hearing about that stuff.

We also talk comic recommendations, how they got the job and visual puns.

To recap, Princeless is about Princess Adrienne who is locked in a tower by her well meaning but not very good parents and told to wait until a Prince comes to rescue her. Stuff this, she thinks. She rescues herself, befriends the dragon and decides to go rescue her sisters who are also stuck in towers. Adrienne also befriends a female blacksmith who is quite exuberant about anything, battles demons protecting her sisters and in volume 3, rescues Raven, the Pirate Princess, who is also stuck in a tower. Raven is also known as the Black Arrow. Obviously, I like her a lot (I like archers).

Read on!
What parts of the art do each of you do?
Ted: It's a completely collaborative work, honestly. We have pretty complementary strengths, so it works out pretty cleanly, at least most of the time. In theory, I do the layouts, Rosy pencils, I ink, Rosy colours and I letter, but it doesn't always quite work out that neatly.

Rosy: Ted pretty much summed it up really. It's a lot of juggling about, there's a lot of suggestions to each other about things that could be improved or need fixing. We keep each other on our toes.

Ted: We are doing all the art for volume 3; it's all been handed in and approved, so all that's left is to solicit and get it into stores!

Rosy: We really hope the fans enjoy it. There will be 4 issues and I think issue 1 comes out January 28.

So, after a few years I've just got the joke in the action lab logo..... Can you describe to me, or link me to, your favourite visual pun? Or draw me one....

Ted: I can't find a link to it now, proving my Google-fu is weak, but I always loved that Alex Ross line-up of the Justice League, with the whole “picture with flash”/”picture without flash” that saw the latter both dimmer, and missing Barry Allen.
Rosy: I'm quite fond of this one.

How did you get the Princeless gig?
Ted: We got the gig mostly by luck, honestly; I was following Jeremy's tumblr, when I saw him say that the third volume was going to be delayed as the scheduled artist was having difficulties. Since we both wanted to get into comics, I suggested we ought to get in touch and offer our services!

Rosy: We sent an email saying how much we'd love to be a part of Princeless and asked if we could get some sample scripts to show off what we could do. Jeremy liked our stuff and our approach and we got the job!

How much guidance did you get from Jeremy for panel lay out, new character's design, mood of the comic etc?Ted: The great thing, and the challenge, of Jeremy's scripts is that they're very open to interpretation. It means that as far as the layouts go, it’s an open playground, which is as terrifying as it is freeing! The mood of the work was fairly evident from the scripts; it comes organically through the characters and their exploits.

Rosy: As for the character design stuff, for the main characters we're given a name, a race and a brief physical description which is again very open to interpretation really. For the less significant characters we can go wherever we want, unless there’s anything specific that Jeremy had in mind and even then it’s usually only suggestion. Jeremy is very trusting of us for that kind of stuff.

How long did it take you to do this issue of Princeless? How many redrafts did you go through?

Ted: The first issue took…a little longer than we would have liked. It was our first professional issue, our first time collaborating together, and our longest comic to date. There was a steep learning curve!

Rosy: A very steep learning curve, yes! I'd never done anything on this scale before and it took a little while to get into the swing of things. It’s quite a test of stamina!

Can you explain the job of the inker to someone who doesn't know anything about comics?
Ted: I've never inked anyone else outside of my collaboration with Rosy, so I can't speak for the job as far as others go. For us, it's about clarifying, really: as the penciller, Rosy creates all the expressions, body language, and all the other details that breathe life into the comic and the characters. It’s my job as the inker to create a purer, condensed version of her lines so that they're neat and consistent, without taking away the spark that she gives them.

Rosy: Ted also corrects any mistakes I make, most frequently he makes hands look like hands rather than some kind of weird root vegetable.

I really appreciate the art of lettering but I don't know much about the technicalities of it. Can you explain how you decide on a font and placement of the letters, and how you make the lettering work? Do you draw the panel first then fit the lettering on or do you work out where the speech bubbles go and then draw the panel around it?Ted: Lettering is a grossly underappreciated art in comics. I didn’t even realise how underappreciated it was until I started lettering this book and realised how many critical choices letterers make. For the fonts I use, they are mostly made by the excellent Comicraft font foundry - there simply aren’t any better out there.

The lucky thing about this book is that I do the layouts as well as the letters: it allows me to take into account how much speech is needed in the panels before I design each page, which means I can shape the panel sizing as well as the layout to make sure that our art balances with Jeremy’s dialogue, neither treading on the other’s toes. That said, I'm still pretty new to this, so it’s definitely a case of learning as I go!

Is comic-ing your day job? If not, how do you fit the comicing in with the day job?
Ted: It is! This volume has been our first outing into the world of full-time comics work. It's always scary leaving the regular world of work behind, but I'm pretty sure we'll have more fun this way.

Rosy: We're really lucky to be in a position where we were able to take this job on. I feel very privileged to have this opportunity.

Any advice for Brits wanting to break into comics? Do you feel like you've broken into comics?
Ted: I'll probably feel more like I've broken in once our first collected volume is out in print. Once we have our first book in our hands, it’ll all feel more real!
As for advice: chance favours the prepared mind. If an opportunity does arise, you need to not only see it but be ready. That said, take those chances! Fail upward!

Rosy: The chance to work on Princeless came completely out of the blue so I'd advise anyone wanting to get into comics to always keep an eye out for opportunities and don't be afraid to make a grab for them when they turn up.

What comics would you recommend to new readers and to long term readers?
Editor's note: Links are to the Comixology or Amazon storefronts but don't forget you can get the issues in your local comic shop too!Ted: Lucky you asked! There are a lot of great books out there right now. Superhero-wise, I'd recommend Marvel’s Captain Marvel (editor's note - I reviewed the first volume of Captain Marvel here), Ms Marvel and Thor; from DC, the revamped Batgirl and Gotham Academy are both flawless. All of the above are pretty all-ages friendly, fun, and wicked-smart; perhaps most importantly, they're all new enough to be new reader-friendly.

I’ve tried to pick ones that worked for new or longer readers - they all are new enough that there's not a lot of catching up on the specific stories currently being told, while (in the case of the superhero books, at least) still having plenty of characters and references that longer readers will appreciate.

Independent book-wise, I was bowled over by the first issue of ODY-C, loved Gail Simone’s Red Sonja, and am waiting very impatiently for Kelly Sue DeConnick’s new Image book (Bitch Planet).
ODY-C might be more suitable to long term readers simply because of the way the pages are constructed - they're as much design pieces as comics pages in a lot of ways, so I can certainly see that being intimidating for people who are new to the medium in general. Content-wise, however, it's a new book, so accessible to all. Bitch Planet and Red Sonja are both suitable for new readers, though may be less suitable for younger ones.  I'm not reading much that's mired much in continuity generally; while I can easily get it, I generally find that stuff that's accessible to new readers is more entertaining.

While I'm not reading anything really non-accessible continuity-wise right now, older series are a gold mine for that kind of stuff. Final Crisis is definitely fantastic (editor's note - for non comicers I explain Final Crisis here). That said, DC's Multiversity is definitely steeped in continuity - not just in terms of DC, but in terms of Morrison's work there: it stands as the final piece of a story he started back when he first took the reins on Batman, and including Final Crisis, his run on Action Comics, and more.

As to the other part of your question, looking for comics recommendations for books that are less accessible to new readers in terms of being new to the medium, well, that's harder. Jason Shiga's Meanwhile is a great example - it's a fantastic comics version of a make-your-own adventure with an alarming number of stories to be told. David Mazzucchelli's Asterios Polyp is similarly challenging in its storytelling, but is possibly the most intelligent book I've ever read. Semiotically speaking, Asterios Polyp is active on every level, with each line and colour imbued with meaning that may not be obvious on immediate inspection.

Rosy: For someone who wants to work in comics I’m actually really, REALLY bad at reading them. To be honest I'm not even really that big a reader. Unlike Ted I don’t like to get individual issues because I'd end up losing one of them and then wouldn't be able to follow the story, so I prefer to get the trade paperbacks. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to pick up any in a while so I'm really behind

on the books I do enjoy. My favourites being Image’s Chew and Invincible and Daniel Way’s runon Deadpool. Actually pretty much any run on Deadpool…I wouldn’t recommend you read those with your kids, though.
I guess I'd recommend anything Stuart Immonen has worked on, because even if you don't completely get everything that's going on you'll still have spectacular visuals to look at.  (Editor's note - I review two Stuart Immonen books here).

Oh, and absolutely everyone should read Princeless, obviously.

Question to Rosy: May I ask how you find drawing comics/storytelling when you don't read that much of them?Rosy: The truth is that Ted is the one who sorts out where everything is going on the page, blocking out not just the panels but the general positions of the characters and how everything flows together. My job is to flesh out his ideas. It's sort like he's the director to my actors.

My background is that I learned to draw through watching cartoons. I initially wanted to be an animator; I found out I lacked the patience and stamina for animation during my first year at university. I did, however, really enjoy doing storyboarding and animatics and thought comics could be an avenue to go down. I ended up transferring to another course at another university specifically for graphic novels, which was where Ted and I met.

Now, to find out more about Princeless and these guys' work, follow these links:
Rosy's tumblr: Unassumingpumpkin.tumblr.com
Rosy's twitter: https://twitter.com/RosyTintedSpecs
Ted's tumblr: Tenbandits.tumblr.com
Ted's twitter: https://twitter.com/ten_bandits
Action Lab website: http://www.actionlabcomics.com/
Release date for Princeless vol 3 issue 1: January 28th 2015
View all Princeless available issues here (and go buy them!):

Thanks to Rosy and Ted for their time!

This interview also appears on my Pai blog - www.paiwings.blogspot.com - which normally contains ramblings on comics, bits about music, some crafty stuff and other meanderings about my life.

Uzumaki: Spiral Into Horror

Writer and artist: Junji Ito
Publisher: Viz Comics

What's it about?
From the Viz website:
Kurozou-cho, a small fogbound town on the coast of Japan, is cursed.  According to Shuichi Saito, the withdrawn boyfriend of teenager Kirie Goshima, their town is haunted not by a person or being but by a pattern: uzumaki, the spiral: the hypnotic secret shape of the world.  It manifests itself in everything from seashells and whirlpools in water, to the spiral marks on people's bodies; the insane obsession of Shuichi's father, and the voice from the cochlea in our inner ear.  As the madness spreads, the inhabitants of  Kurozu-cho are pulled ever deeper into a whirlpool from which there is no return!

Friday, 19 December 2014

The Chicken Thief

The Chicken Thief
Writing and art by Beatrice Rodriguez
Publisher: Gecko Press

What's it about?
This is sold as a wordless book where children can invent their narratives to go along with the illustrations.  It's really a comic - sequential art where the entire double page is given over to the art, and there are no narrative boxes, speech bubbles, or sound effects.

It's only about 10 pages long and is pretty simple - fox grabs chicken and runs off, chicken's friends follow in hot pursuit through forest, sea and sand.  There is a twist at the end!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

A new reader does a video review of Powers and Yakitate

A friend of mine, Jenny, has uploaded a video review of her first time reading a comic - Powers volume 1: Who Killed Retro Girl?  Powers is a crime comic set in a world where everyone has superpowers.

Watch her review here:

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Avon Oeming
Colour art: Pat Garrahy
Separation Assists: Ojo Calhente Studios
Letters: Pat Garrahy and Brian Michael Bendis
Publisher: Image Comics

Powers has been on my list of things to review for a while, but I haven't got round to it.  Thankfully, this is a review by an actual new reader so may well work better  for all of you :D

There's added bonus discussion of Yakitate Japan which is a battle manga about bread.  And there's a very cute springer (?) spaniel rumbling about too.

Sunnysweetpea tweets here and has a lifestyle blog here.  Her youtube channel is here.
Thanks to Ang (@appletreeang) for supplying me with the credits and suggesting the book to Jenny.  Ang blogs here.

If you like the sound of superhero cops you might also want to try Top 10.  It has a very different take on the idea.

Monday, 27 October 2014

A note on variant covers

The wonderful Women Write About Comics (WWAC) site recently wrote a piece on variant covers which I thought was so marvellous I had to share it with you.

Variant covers are limited edition covers sold as an alternative to the more widely available usual cover.  They are usually done by a different artist and are meant to be more desirable than the regular cover.  WWAC has this to say:

"Variants are often produced in limited quantity by publishers, and many cannot be ordered by comic shops without meeting a minimum order. Ordering all (or any) variants is a difficult task even for large retailers. Many comic shops that order variants may also take advantage of their rarity by selling them for more than cover price, even going so far as to bypass the shelf altogether and put them in their online stores first. This is a controversial practice, but it is no different than a speculator buying them for cover price then selling them online for more based on demand. It’s every retailer’s right to decide how to sell “retailer incentive” covers (as variants are also called), and not ordering them at all is also an option.
Every major publisher offers variant covers, some more frequently than others, and there are many different kinds of variants."
The full post is much longer than that so I urge you to go across to the site and read the full post.  The rest of the site is pretty good too - they cover comics, movies, games, fashion, books and loads of other nerdy things.  Enjoy :)

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Secret Invasion: Black Panther

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Jefte Palo
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Virtual Calligraphy's Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics

What's it about?
In 2008 Marvel Comics did a big 'event' called:
How pulpy.

Secret Invasion's premise is that a group of shape shifting aliens - the skrulls - have been infiltrating Earth society and are now poised to launch a full scale (secret) invasion.  The skrulls can replicate powers so have replaced key superheroes on earth:
N.B: This is a teaser image and is not necessarily the actual heroes the skrulls replaced (no spoilers here, Jimmy).

The skrulls are undetectable and so it's very hard to know whom to fight.  Whilst the main mini series was a bit dull, a few of the tie-ins were great fun. The 3 Black Panther issues are some of the more enjoyable ones.

The Black Panther, also known as T'Challa, is the King of Wakanda.  Wakanda is a small African country that has never been defeated, not once in 1,500 years.
The Wakandans have always had far superior technology to the rest of the world.  They retain their African identity, culture and dress.  It is unusual to read about a culture with better tech than the Western capitalist world, who dress in both tribal and business clothing, and revere an animal god (in this case the Panther God who gives T'Challa his abilities).  The Wakandans are pretty darn intelligent but not greedy.  They are nationalistic but do not seek out conflict.  They do aggressively defend their borders should anyone seek to invade.

Now, the skrulls have infiltrated the Avengers and the Fantastic 4 and replaced many earth heroes and villains.  They decide to go for Wakanda.  What do you reckon the chances of them claiming control are?

Saturday, 4 October 2014

House of M

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: Olivier Coipel
Inker: Tim Townsend
Colourist: Frank D'Armata
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Publisher: Marvel Comics

What's it about?
Wanda Maximoff, aka the Scarlet Witch, is a mutant with magical, reality-altering powers.  After a traumatic event wherein she kills some of her fellow Avengers, the X-Men decide that she needs to be reined in.  Her brother Pietro, aka Quicksilver (he's a speedster), and her father Magneto (the X-Men's main enemy), want to save her and so spirit her away.  The Avengers and the X-Men go in search of the missing family but before they find anyone the world turns white and changes.  Suddenly, mutants are in charge.  They are running things and aren't victimised.  Magneto is a sort of benevolent leader and homo sapiens (us normal humans) are the oppressed.

Only Wolverine can remember how things used to be, so he sets out to put things right.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Saga volume 1

Today's review comes to you courtesy of Phil May - AHA @ReadItDaddy.  Phil is a technical wizard mashing coder by day, drawing fantastic characters and creatures by night and also reviewing children's books with his daughter over at http://readitdaddy.blogspot.com and grown up stuff at http://daddyafterdark.blogspot.com. 

Writer: Brian K Vaughan
Art: Fiona Staples
Publisher: Image Comics

What's it about?
Space operas don’t come any weirder than Saga, and just when you feel that you’re comfortable that science fiction comics are mined out and the mighty reign of the superhero comic is unshakeable, Saga spins your head around and embroils you in a graphic universe that is sprawling, chaotic and (sometimes) darkly funny.

Saga kicks off slap bang in the middle of its narrator’s birth, setting the tone for the series stock-in-trade method of shock followed by quick explanation. This is set against a background of a huge intergalactic plot involving space war, marginalization, bounty hunting and sheer unadulterated bizarreness.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The New York Four

Story: Brian Wood 
Art: Ryan Kelly
Publisher: MINX (DC Comics)

What’s it about?
“New York City – It awes me into silence sometimes. And it makes me want to shout out at the top of my lungs. Is there any place better?”

The New York Four is a black & white 2008 comic from acclaimed DMZ-writer Brian Wood aimed at young adults, with Ryan Kelly on the artwork. It was originally a digest-sized graphic novel released through Minx, a line published through DC Comics.

The book doesn't just simply revolve around a strong female lead character, but four of them! Each with their own short narratives woven through the book.

The New York Four is about these four young women that are starting their freshman year at the New York University. They all left their homes and family behind, looking for the freedom you get living in NYC.

As the story opens we meet Riley Wilder. Most of the book is seen through her eyes. Riley's pretty shy, always get straight As and spends all her time on her cell phone, only speaking to all her "friends" she met at parties through it. Her and a couple of friends are kind of short on money, so they decide to share an apartment outside the campus together.

There's Lona Lo, a gal who likes keeping tabs on everyone and kind of comes off as a stalker at times. Ren Severin who's more interested in these older guys and hanging out with other peoples than her classmates. And finally Merissa Vasquez, who's having some troubles with her grades...

One day Riley gets to reconnect with this older sister, Angie, who ran away from home much to her parents' chagrin. Riley never really knew her much before, and she finds her back that year of college!

There's also this guy, Frank, who Riley falls for... but also appears only interested in dating both sisters at the same time.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Seen the film?. Read the book: Captain America, Spider-Man, X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy

Four films in one post, because I'm rather behind!

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
This film is based on a story arc by writer Ed Brubaker and penciller Steve Epting.  The film isn't really close to the books, but it's close enough if you want to experience it in comic form.  Brubaker's run is very highly thought of and is considered a great example of Captain America stories.  If you want to read more Cap'n, the relevant trades are as follows (in order):

Captain America: Man Out of Time - This isn't by Brubaker, but is very very good.
Captain America: Winter Soldier
Captain America: Red Menace
Civil War: Captain America (best read alongside the main Civil War series)
Captain America: The Death of Captain America
Captain America: The Man With No Face - this looks like it's out of print, but should be available digitally on www.comixology.co.uk/com
Captain America: Road To Reborn
Captain America: Two Americas
Captain America: No Escape
Captain America: The Trial of Captain America
Captain America: Prisoner of War

After the Winter Soldier story Bucky got his own series, also written by Ed Brubaker, which is traded as:
Winter Soldier: The Longest Winter - this looks like it's out of print and is going for ridiculous amounts of money, so also check comixology to see if you can get it digitally for a fraction of the price.
Winter Soldier: Broken Arrow
Winter Soldier: Black Widow Hunt
Winter Soldier - The Electric Ghost - this has a new creative team.

Amazing Spider-Man 2
I thought this film was a terrible mess.  However, they did get Gwen Stacy right.  Gwen hasn't been around in the comics for a long time because she was killed by the Green Goblin in 1973.  In the comics, the Green Goblin was Norman Osborn, not Harry Osborn.  You can read the story in the trade Spider-Man: Death of the Stacys.

X-Men: Days of Future Past
Like Winter Soldier, the film isn't the same as the comic that inspired it.  In the comic it was Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat) who time travelled (not Wolverine) and there are different X-men involved.  The comic story only takes 2 issues to tell, so plays out rather differently.  It's a good story and worth reading.

The trade collects issues 138-143 from The Uncanny X-Men other series and starts as an epilogue to the Dark Phoenix saga.  Then there is a Nightcrawler story, then Kitty is introduced to the series, we have the two issue Days of Future Past story and the final issue in the collection is Kitty coming into her own and proving her worth as and X-Man.

Guardians of the Galaxy
This film seemed to be the break out hit of the summer.  Everyone seems to love it.  There have been a lot of Guardians comics and it can be quite hard to work out what to read, or to find copies.

The Annihilation omnibus is considered a good companion piece to the movie, however at £95 for the hardcover volume that's probably out of a lot of peoples budgets.  A more reasonable place to start would be Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning's Guardians collection. It's currently priced at just under £18 on Amazon, but your local comic book shop might be able to get you it for cheaper.  We have a list of recommended shops here.  Alternatively, try comixology for digital copies.  A complete list of Marvel's cosmic stuff (with lots of Guardians characters) can be found here.

Many thanks to @feemcbee for helping me identify and locate these titles!  If you're on twitter go follow her, she knows her Marvel.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Comixology's submit - stuff that didn't fit anywhere else.

This the last of the books from the Comixology: Submit sale we talked about in March.  This bundle isn't available anymore but the books in it are, and are well worth looking at.  Here are the remaining five that we think are worthy of note.

Smut Peddlar - short anthology of smutty stories.  Clearly for adults only and not safe to read at work. This may not have been in the bundle, but is an indie book and is good sexy fun.  It's got a mix of pairings - male/male, female/female and male/female.
Writers and artists: various
Publisher: Iron Circus Comics

Dumbing of Age - excellent book about a home schooled Christian woman starting university and meeting people from different backgrounds.  It's smart and funny. It's not mean about Christian homeschooling - it doesn't insult anyone for being who they are.  It's got a great cast who interact really well.  This made me smile a lot, when not much else did.  It started off as a webcomic, which you can read here. Start at the bottom of the page.  Includes LGBT characters and characters of colour.
Writing and art: David Willis
Publisher: Self published

Rock Star Scientists - in this world, scientists are treated like rockstars.  They get the fans, the glory and the clothes. There are 2 stories in this comic, which is split into two section called Side A and Side B.  Side A is an introduction to this world and Side B is a rather short story. Nonetheless it's worth the money.
Writing and letters: Kenny Jeffery
Art: Jordan Cutler
Pencils and inks: George Zapata
Colours: Armit Ghadge
Publisher: Angry Fruit Salad

After Twilight - this has nothing to do with sparkling vampires.  It's 2022 and Texas is in a civil war with the rest of the States to become independent.  Government and laws are based on biblical faith.  The protagonist is a librarian who finds herself involved in the struggle between the underground resistance and the theocractic leaders
Writing: Richard Alvarez, Gary L Watson, Sandra Yates
Art: Douglas Brown
Colours: Chandran and Meagan Tanner
Publisher: Nu-Classic Publishing

Legend of Oz - it's the story of Oz done as a Western.  Dorothy is a gun toting cowgirl and Toto is her horse.  The colours are rather brassy and the faces are a bit plasticky, but the story is good enough.  There is some violence so this won't be good for kids.
Writing: Tom Hutchinson
Pencils: Alisson Borges
Colours: Kate Finnegan
Publisher: Big Dog Ink

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Comixology submit: comics for kids and teens

Comixology's submit sale had quite a lot of comics aimed at and suitable for children and teenagers.  Here's the best of the ones I read:

For younger kids:
The Antler Boy and Other Stories - this is a fun kids' book with a whole host of imaginary and not so imaginary creatures.  It's great fun.
Writing and art: Jake Parker
Publisher: Self published

Squid and Owl - this is less of a comic and more of an illustrated picture book.  It's a bit weird, there's only a few lines of text on each page, and the art is quite ethereal and dream like.  It's like a stream of consciousness in picture form.  I hesitate to say it's aimed at children because adults will appreciate the beauty in the illustrations too, but it's set out a bit like a child's picture book.
Art and writing: John Holbo
Publisher: Rhinobird books

For teenagers:
The Deep: Here Be Dragons - the Nektons are a multiethnic family of aquanauts journeying through the seas in hunt of strange creatures.  The Nektons are son Ant; daughter Fontaine; mum Kaiko; and dad Will.  Ant is brilliant.  This is worth the price for the absolutely gorgeous art of deep sea monsters.  The first few pages are full of drama and danger.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Art: James Brouwer
Publisher: Gestalt Comics

Chloe Noonan: Monster Hunter - Chloe has a job to hunt and destroy monsters but she doesn't really care for it.  She hasn't got super strength or a heightened sense of danger - she's just like you and me, but maybe slightly more cynical.  This isn't like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  It is good fun and I can seen teenagers getting a lot of mileage out of it.
Writing and art: Marc Ellerby
Publisher: Great Beast Comics

Jackie Rose - This is set in an alternative 1940s and tells the story of Jackie Rose, teen adventurer.  In this volume she gets kidnapped by air pirates.  It's suitable for teenagers and has an air of a young Indiana Jones about it.
Writing and art: Josh Ulrich
Publisher: Self published

The Only Living Boy - Erik Farrell has no memory and is in a world filled with humanoid creatures and monsters.  He doesn't know how he got there but he wants to survive.  Forced into battle, he proves his worth through the use of his wits alone.  This is 53 pages and it's great.  It's a lot more serious than the others in this post.
Writer: David Gallagher
Art: Steve Ellis
Publisher: Bottled Lightning

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Comixology submit - superheroes

There had to be a post about superheroes - I mean, this is comics we're talking about.

Henchmen - Gary is an office worker who sees an ad for henchmen in his local newspaper.  As he's lost his job he applies, gets the job, and starts work dressed as a bowling pin.  He gets to keep his glasses on.  This is an interesting take on the superhero genre.  The art and characterisation are compelling, and at 69pence for 48 pages you can't really go wrong.
Writer: Jamison Raymond
Art: Ryan Howe
Colours: RSquared
Publisher: Robot Paper

Tomorrow Jones - Tomorrow is the daughter of a family of superheroes.  She's expected to do things the traditional way - have a secret identity and wear silly spandex - but she's not having any of that.  She wants to do things her own way.  How is this going to work out?  Suitable for teens and adults.
Writing and letters: Brian T Daniel
Art: Johan Manandin
Publisher: Self published

Monday, 22 September 2014


Story: Bryan Lee O'Malley
Art: Bryan Lee O'Malley & Jason Fischer 
Publisher: Ballantine Books

What’s it about?
Seconds is the highly anticipated first new comic from Scott Pilgrim creator, Bryan Lee O'Malley. Following a pretty impressive success (for such a small indie title), which even resulted in a much bigger motion picture feature, O'Malley went back to his roots. By releasing a new self-contained graphic novel!

Seconds tales the story of this woman, Katie Clay, who is a young talented chef and the proud owner of a local restaurant, called Seconds. Lately, Katie has been struggling with both her personal and professional life. Things have been quite stressful for our heroine, she is in the transition of opening her own new restaurant, leave the old place behind and try to finally move out of that restaurant's second floor and get a proper apartment to live in. And she's been guessing her step of the way. Is that new place a good or bad decision, should she settle for that building or a better locations, and has she been making good decisions all her life and how did she lose the good thing she had going on with her ex-boyfriend?

But one day she finally get the chance to redo it all!

She finds this mysterious white-haired magical girl she calls Lis. She's the resident house spirit at Seconds.

A young waitress named Hazel was severely burnt by Katie's fault. Lis offers Katie the one-time only use of a magic notebook which grants her the ability fix past mistakes. The rules? She has to write down the mistake she wishes to "correct". Ingest a magic mushroom. Go to sleep. And the next day when she will wake up, things will have changed anew.

But soon Katie finds a loophole. She decides to grab a few more of those mushrooms and starts abusing this newfound power. Trying to fix everything, her past relationship, the future new restaurant. Everything! Until it's perfect!

And it only makes things worse and worse the more she tries changing things...

Seconds is a fun entertaining little fable featuring some gorgeous pages with help of Bryan Lee O'Malley's new team of assistants.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Comixology submit - biography

More comics found in the Comixology's submit section.  Here are a couple of autobiographical treats.

Boobage - this is a sweet and heartfelt short autobiographical tale about puberty and growing up with small breasts.  Done in a rather nice red, white and black colour palette.
Writing and art: Monica Gallagher
Publisher: Lipstick Kiss Press

Kinds of Blue - this is an anthology comic describing what depression looks like.  It's 84 pages and each story has a different style to it.  If you want to know more about depression, or people's experiences with it, this book is a good start.
Writers and artists: Various
Publisher: Hive Mindedness Media

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Comixology submit: adventure time

Another post prompted by March's Comixology submit sale.  Here are two books full of swashbuckling adventure.

Legend of Bold Riley - Bold Riley is a Indian lesbian swashbuckling adventurer.  She travels around the land performing great deeds of derring-do and bedding all the pretty maidens she meets.  It's similar in set up to traditional sword and sorcery adventure stories, except that Bold Riley is far more interesting than your traditional male hero, and not just because she's female.

Writer: Leia Weathington
Art: Marco Aidala, Vanessa Gillings, Kelly McClellan, Konstantin Pogorelov and Jason Thompson
Letters: Charles "Zan" Christensen
Publisher: Northwest Press

Rogues - it's a fantasy world and the two Rogues are Bram (a beefy fella) and the Weasel (a buxom lady).  The artwork is rather cheesecakey - Weasel has a full bust and a skimpy wardrobe whereas Bram gets a jacket and trousers.  But the book is aware of this and presents a fun and comedic story about how the humble chicken foils thieves everywhere.
Writer: El Torres
Art: Ruben Rojas and Juan Jose Ryp
Colours: Fran Gamboa
Publisher: Amigo Comics

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Comixology submit: drama

In the third of our posts prompted by March's Comixology submit sale we focus on books that can be loosely described as dramatic.  The books are all quite different though, so perhaps I need a better description?


Nathan Sorry - this is excellent.  It's such an inspired idea I'm wondering why I haven't seen more stories like this.  Nathan should have been in the World Trade Centre on 9/11 but missed his flight.  The world thinks he's dead so he uses an accidentally stolen laptop and $20 million to find a new life, but begins to lose his grip on his identity.
Art and writing: Rich Barrett
Publisher: Self published

Bob And His Beer - this is about different people's experience of bereavement, how we can deal with losing those with love, and how we can all be connected.  Very good.  Might be tough to read if you are recently bereaved, but if you can stick with it you'll find it's quite comforting.
Writer: Sarah Stringfield
Art and letters: Cary Stringfield
Publisher: Captain Clark Comics

Snow - Dana is a shy, meek woman who works at a bookshop.  One day she arrives in work to find out the store is closing down, which leads to her slowly finding her confidence and having an impact on her neighbours' lives.  This book is utterly delightful.  It's 164 pages, but you'll race through it in no time.  The black and white art is incredibly expressive. It's set in just one (real!) street in Chicago.
Art and writing: Benjamin Rivers
Publisher: Benjamin Rivers Inc

The Chairs' Hiatus - lovely comic about an indie music duo's break up, new lives, and reunion.  It's less about music and gigging as it is about people and the complexities of relationships.  Contains LGBT characters.
Art and writing: Matthew Bogart
Publisher: Self published

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Comixology submit: spooky and mythical

In the second of our posts prompted by March's Comixology submit sale we focus on books that have mythical elements, that are sometimes a bit fairy tale and sometimes a bit horror.

Who Needs the Moon - there's a vampire in Kingsford and the townsfolk don't know anything about it.  Enter a werewolf, who can do something about it.  The art in this is intelligent - something I rarely say.  The colour palette and panel layout tell the story more than the words.  In fact, many panels have no words, but there is never a problem in understanding what you are seeing.  This is a great and challenging (in the best way) comic that really does deserve your attention.
Art and writing: Todd McCullough
Publisher: Self published

Ink and Thunder - three supernatural short stories written and drawn by Becky Cloonan.  These are beautiful and inspiring and sumptuous.  All three have a feeling of immense sadness and yearning about them.  Cloonan is a professional storyteller and these have to be three of her best.
Writing and art: Becky Cloonan
Publisher: Self published 

Fairy tales
The Demon's Sermon on the Martial Arts - I haven't read much of this but it looks impressive. Paraphrased from the comixology description:
This is a classic collection of martial arts parables.  The stories feature demons, insects, birds, cats and more.  They may seem whimiscal but they contain essential teachings that offer insight into the fundamental principles of martial arts.  This graphic novel is based on Issai Chozanshi's eighteenth century text.
It's in black and white and has a classic Japanese art style.
Adaptation: Sean Michael Wilson
Translation: William Scott Wilson
Art: Michiru Morikawa
Original writer: Issai Chozanshi
Publisher: Shambhala publications

Twas the Night Before Krampus - This is a black and white book about the Christmas Eve fight between St Nicholas and the evil Krampus.  This is a rather unique and creepy Christmas story.  Not suitable for kids.
Writer: Ben Avery
Art: Tim Baron
Publisher: Lifesize Monster Ghost

The Order of Dagonet - this is written by Jeremy Whitley (he who wrote the amazing Princeless).  Mythological creatures of ancient Britain return and knights have to be found.  Although created by Americans, it's got a really British voice and a really good handle on British folklore. N.B: this wasn't part of the sale but I've included it because it is an independent comic.
Writer: Jeremy Whitley
Art: Jason Strutz
Publisher: Action Lab Comics

I've tagged all of these as age mature as although older teens would probably like them, they have a bit too much to them be considered age: general.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Comixology submit: sci-fi

In March we posted about a Comixology submit sale.  These are creator-owned comics made available digitally on comixology.  I finally got around to reading the bundle and there were some marvellous books in there, so our next few posts will be spotlights on the best of the bunch.  The books are no longer in the sale but most are fairly inexpensive.  Each title contains a hyperlink to the series on comixology so you can easily find them.

First up, sci-fi:

The Accelerators - two scientists from the 1960s are jumping forward in time: he is pursuing her, hoping to destroy her research. On their jumps they pick up a teenager from the 1990s and end up in a surprising future where everyone has their own time machine.  Issue 1 showed a lot of promise.
Writer: R.F.I. Porto
Pencils and inks: Gavin P Smith
Colours: Tim Yates
Letters: Crank!
Publisher: Self published

Arrival - this is black and white and has some lovely line art.  It's clear and easy to read, yet has a lot of strength.  Story wise, it's a sci-fi tale set in 2057.  There's a mystery from the stars and human life has changed in some ways, stayed the same in others.  I wasn't so bothered about the plot but the art is just too good to ignore.
Writers: Thomas Kovach and Nishan Patel
Art: Thomas Kovach
Publisher: Mystery Box Comics

The Bunker - this is one of the best comics in the bundle.  There's a great amount of characterisation and detail in here.  For a cast of five people this is pretty impressive.  A group of friends go to the woods to bury a time capsule and find a bunker with goods from their future selves, addressed to their younger selves.  Issue 1 is a double sized issue.
Writer: Joshua Hale Fialkov
Art: Joe Infurnari
Publisher: Oni Press

Relaunch -
I think of this as a proper sci-fi book.  A lot of the panels show the spaceship and techy workings of space travel.  We get a real sense of the isolation astronauts must feel.  The main (nigh on only) character, Cris, works on a deep space utility shop and things start to go wrong.  The first issue leaves us hanging and hungering for more.
Writer: Ron Perazza
Art: Daniel Govar
Publisher: Comic Book Think Tank

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Lost at Sea

Art & Story: Bryan Lee O'Malley
Publisher: Oni Press

What’s it about?
Lost at Sea is a black & white graphic novel by Bryan Lee O'Malley. It was first published in 2003 through Oni Press.

It's a "coming of age" story about this girl named Raleigh. She is on a road trip with some fellow classmates from school she doesn't know much. She tagged along as they were driving across America, from California back home to Vancouver, Canada.

Raleigh has always by a loner, distanced from other kids at school. She doesn't talk much and keeps to herself since her childhood friend moved away.

She was visiting her father and tried to go back to this long-distance boyfriend she had a relationship with. Since she missed her train back home, she kinda took this occasion to join a road trip when these guys Stephanie, Dave and Ian were also on their way back.

She spends the story thinking back and forth about her relationship (this guy she met on the internet!), who she was, who she is now and who she wants to be.

Oh. And also, she believes cats are after her. She thinks her mom sold her sold her soul as a kid, for success and her career. Yep.

The story does get kinda surreal at times. She sees cats everywhere. She believes a cat stole her soul. She forces everyone to wake up in the middle of the night to attempt to catch the cat back, as she slowly opens up to the others.

It's a comic about a girl just as much looking for a point of anchor in her life had she been actually "lost at sea".

A fun quirky tale about four college age-kids driving back home around holidays.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Gotham City Sirens Volumes 1-4

Credits: Various
Publisher: DC comics

What's it about?
Gotham City Sirens focuses on the DC villains/antiheroes Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn.  These three women are probably the most famous female residents of Batman's Gotham City (aside from Batgirl, of course).  They aren't exactly friends.  Catwoman (Selina Kyle) has worked with Batman too much to be true friends with the more criminally minded.  Poison Ivy doesn't really like people.  Harley Quinn gets on with most people but would leave them hanging in a moment if her beloved Joker called.

Volume 1 brings the Sirens together by having them share a house (a really big house, more like the size of a warehouse).  Ivy and Harley set out to discover Batman's identity from Selina; the Riddler has reformed; and one of the old Joker sidekicks turns up.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Green Arrow and associates Comixology sale

Apologies for the long wait between posts.  Life has been rather busy lately.  I'm afraid I cannot give you a full review tonight, but I will point you towards another comixology sale, this time it is themed around the Arrow TV show.

Oliver Queen is known in comics as Green Arrow and I believe the TV show brings in a lot of other DC characters.  There are 166 issues in the sale, here are what I think are the best.  All links take you to the first issue in the story arc.  The sale runs for 7 days from 25th March.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Best of 2013: DC

This is the last in my Best of 2013 posts,  As such I decided to focus it on my beloved DC Comics  Anyone who listens to the Radio Bamf podcast or who follows me on twitter would be forgiven for thinking that DC's output for 2013 was all utter rot.  This is not the case.  I am susceptible for going off on a tangent and declaring the company's current direction rubbish, but that's not fair to them, as they have put some excellent series.  So let's look at them!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Best of 2013: Marvel

To finish off the Best of 2013 roundup I thought it would be worth mentioning DC's and Marvel's superhero offerings.  Today we shall look at two fine series from Marvel:

Fearless Defenders


I absolutely cannot rate this series highly enough.  Fearless Defenders brings together a group of Marvel's female superheroes and has them defending the earth.  Front and centre in the group are Valkyrie (a character from Norse Mythology) and Misty Knight (black detective/martial arts expert with a bionic arm).  Valkyrie is tasked with reassembling the Valkyrior to defend the realm against mystic attacks.  Over the 12 issues that this series ran for they hang out with and recruit several other lady warriors, including some brand new lesbian characters.

The series is smart and funny.  It filled the gap that DC's Birds of Prey left and it's a crying shame that it was cancelled.  The covers were quite often satirical, often mocking the industry's predilection for tits and ass poses of women.  This was sometimes undermined by the art within the issues, which occasionally got a bit tits and assey, but the rest of it is so good it made up for that.  Written by Cullen Bunn, the plotting was tight and the characters were used effectively.  It is one of my most loved series.

All 12 published issues gave been released as two trades, you can buy them from Amazon or from your local comic shop:

Volume 1: Doom Maidens
ISBN: 0785168001

Volume 2: The Most Fabulous Fighting Team of All
ISBN: 0785168494
Price: £13.50

In 2013 Marvel relaunched their X-Men series as an all female team.  I'm not sure if this was done as a gimmick or because it felt like natural evolution for the team.  Whatever the reason was, the readers got an excellent comic series full of action and great characters.  The team includes well known characters such as Storm, Kitty Pryde, and Rogue, as well as fan favourites like Jubilee and Psylocke who are probably less well known to non comic readers.

The series is written by Brian Wood and has been strong from the start.  Art is provided by Oliver Coipel (pencils and inks), Mark Morales (inks), Laura Martin (colours), Joe Caramagna (letters).  Issues 1 - 5 are collected in trade under the title 'Primer'.  They deal with an alien invasion and a new baby on the team.  It was one of the best superhero titles on sale in 2013.  Volume 2 should be out fairly soon.

Price: £10.99
ISBN: 0785168001

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Very cheap comics bundle available on Comixology - 1 day left

Comixology have just announced a sale on their Submit comics.  These are creator owned comics (not published or owned by Marvel, DC, Image or any other big companies) that creators submit to the site for sale to the general public.

There are 100 comics in this bundle, including some by Joshua Hale Falkov and Becky Cloonan.  The individual comics are normally priced at $333 but the sale price is $10 for the lot.  This is unbelievably good value.

Buy the bundle here.  The sale ends March 10th, 11pm EST.

Note - these are for digital comics to be read on your laptop/phone/tablet etc.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Best of 2013: Cinebook's Lament of the Lost Moors

Last year I had the pleasure of reading two books from Cinebook, publishers of English translations of Europe's finest comics, often called Bande Dessinée.  Bande Dessinée, or BD for short, means 'drawn strips'.  Comics are far more popular on the continent than in the UK, in fact Cinebook's website declares that 'one of every eight books sold in France is a comic book'.  I can only dream of such a situation in the UK!

Cinebook publish a wide range of European comics, from stuff created for kids to hardcore sci-fi, to fantasy, to romantic literature, to period drama and to crime.  You will find something for every taste in their catalogue.  All listings on their website give an age range as well, always helpful!

What follows is a short review of Lament of the Lost Moors: Siobhan.
Script: Jean Dufaux
Drawing: Grzegorz Rosinski
Colour work: Graza
Translator: Jerome Saincantin
Lettering and text layout: Patrice Leppert
Publisher: Cinebook

What's it about?
From the Cinebook website:
The land of Eruin Dulea is ruled by a powerful and merciless sorcerer. A generation ago, he defeated his last challenger to the throne, Wulf, in a titanic battle. Wulf’s widow, Lady O’Mara, and his daughter Siobhàn can finally stop hiding, though. By marrying Lord Blackmore, Lady O’Mara places herself under his protection. But Siobhan is a strong-willed young woman, more at ease with a sword than a spinning wheel, and Blackmore himself isn’t all he seems to be...

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Best of 2013: Cinebook's Empire of a Thousand Planets

Last year I had the pleasure of reading two books from Cinebook, publishers of English translations of Europe's finest comics, often called Bande Dessinée.  Bande Dessinée, or BD for short, means 'drawn strips'.  Comics are far more popular on the continent than in the UK, in fact Cinebook's website declares that 'one of every eight books sold in France is a comic book'.  I can only dream of such a situation in the UK!

Cinebook publish a wide range of European comics, from stuff created for kids to hardcore sci-fi, to fantasy, to romantic literature, to period drama and to crime.  You will find something for every taste in their catalogue.  All listings on their website give an age range as well, always helpful!

So over the next few days we will publish two short reviews of Valerian and Laureline: The Empire of a Thousand Planets and Lament of the Lost Moors: Siobhan.

Disclaimer: Cinebook kindly provided a free review copy of The Empire of a Thousand Planets for me when I bought Lament of the Lost Moors (review coming soon) at the November 2013 Thought Bubble comic convention.  However I can assure you that all views are my own, positive reviews cannot be bought!

Writer: P Christin
Artist: J. C. Meziere
Colour work: E. Tranle
Translator: Jerome Saincantin
Lettering and text layout: Imadjinn
Publisher: Cinebook

What's it about?
This is a sci-fi book about two space travellers, Valerian and Laureline, sent to explore a planet called Syrte to discover whether the Syrtians could threaten earth.  Syrte is a bit of a strange planet - it's the capital of an empire (hence the title of the book) and is a key trading point.  You can buy absolutely anything you want there.  The planet is ruled by an ancient dynasty but there seems to be a powerful religious sect with a lot of influence.  Our two heroes have to pass as locals and navigate Syrtian society to fully explore.  Of course they can't quite manage this and that's where the adventure begins.

Friday, 21 February 2014

I Die at Midnight

Written and drawn by: Kyle Baker
Published by: Vertigo/DC Comics

What’s it about?
(from the back of the book:)"The Good News is Muriel has decided to take Larry back."
"The Bad News is Larry's just swallowed a bottle of pills."

Written and drawn by Kyler Baker for Vertigo Comics' pre-millennial "V2K series", I Die at Midnight is an original graphic novel mixing a bit of comedy, a dash of comedy and some romance in the background in a fast-paced well-animated story against the clock.

I Die at Midnight follows a man named Larry. The girl of his dreams just walked out on him. Left without any more purpose, Larry decides to kill himself. He empties an entire bottle of pills...

...But that is precisely when Muriel changes her mind and decides to come back!

And if that wasn't enough... did I mention this was all taking place on New Year's Eve?!

I Die at Midnight is a fun fast paced story set against the whole Year 2000 phobia (it does play a part in the story, at the end!) about fighting for a reason to live.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Best of 2013: Halcyon & Tenderfoot

Writer: Daniel Clifford
Artist: Lee Robinson
Cover colours: FiverArts
Publisher: Art Heroes

What's it about?
Halcyon and Tenderfoot are a father and son superhero team in Brink City.  Issue 1 opens at a press conference where Halcyon is introducing his new sidekick - Tenderfoot.  On the same day an old villain is watching the press coverage from gaol.  When he is released he seeks revenge on Halcyon, and the issue closes with tragedy.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Best of 2013: Spandex

Writer: Martin Eden
Art: Martin Eden
Publisher:  Self published and Titan Books

What's it about?
Spandex tells the story of a group of 8 queer superheroes and their enemies, living in Brighton, UK.  For those of you that don't know, Brighton is an LGBT friendly city on the south coast of England.  The members of Spandex are Butch, Diva, Glitter, Indigo, Liberty, Mr Muscles, Neon and Prowler.  Spandex generally has 7 members at a time, and their costumes are coloured according to the colours of the rainbow.  Butch wears green, Diva wears red, Glitter is orange and so on.

Between them their power set covers unbreakable skin, light based powers, teleportation, a danger sense called gaydar, ultra strength, ability to absorb other gay people's powers and skills.  All members are on the LGBT spectrum.  There are recurring characters such as the pink ninjas and the 50 foot lesbian.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Best of 2013: horror

Last week Bamf Comic Book Radio, a podcast I am a co-host for, http://waabamf.podomatic.com/entry/2014-02-05T09_25_13-08_00 did a horror special.  We invited P M Buchan, aka Bucky, author of Black Out (reviewed last year) to join us.  Four of us chatted for 60 minutes about the latest comic news and all the horror comics we have enjoyed, covering manga, indies and some more mainstream stuff.  There's a fair bit of swearing on the podcast, so it's probably more suitable for mature listeners!

If you like horror, go give it a listen.  I think the sound quality may not be great on this one, but please bear with it.  I had an absolute blast recording it :)

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

2013 overview: Top 10 volumes 1 and 2

Writer: Alan Moore
Pencils: Gene Ha
Layouts: Zander Cannon
Colours: Alex Sinclair
Inks: Gene Ha
Letters: Todd Klein
Publisher: America's Best Comics

What's it about?
Top 10 is a cop drama set in a world where everyone has superpowers. I mean everyone.  Kids, pensioners, parents, pets.  The series focuses on the city of Neopolis' police force.  Everyone has a codename, a regular name, and a costume.  People use their powers to travel around, to do their daily job, to meet people, to eat, to do all the normal everyday stuff we do.  The police force operates in the same way real world police do but with laws that specifically reference super powers.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

2013 overview: Grendel - War Child


Apologies for the lack of updates - I'm hoping I've still got some readers left...  As usual I have a ton of things I'd like to review and, as usual, the task is a little bit daunting.  So, to make it easier on my myself (and to get some posts on here for you dear lovelies to read) I'm going to do a few posts on the best stuff I read in 2013.

I'm going to start with books from a couple of smaller publishers: Grendel: War Child, from Dark Horse comics; and Top 10 from America's Best Comics.

Grendel: War Child

Writer: Matt Wagner
Art: Patrick McEown and Ken Henderson
Colours: Bernie Mireault and Kathryn Delaney
Inks: Matt Wagner and Monty Sheldon
Letterer: Kurt Hathaway
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

What's it about?
I did have a full length review of this written in rough, it inspired me so much, but then I lost the bits of paper and now I have to re-write it from memory.  There's a lesson to you all - organise your paperwork!

War Child is a 10 issue mini series and part of the wider Grendel story.  I haven't read any other Grendel books, although I am a big fan of Matt Wagner (the writer), so this review comes from my understanding of this single story.

Grendel is the senior bodyguard/protector of the leader of the empire, Orion I.  After Orion's death his son, aged about 10, is kidnapped by Grendel.  Orion's widow is now ruling as regent; however she is a little unhinged.  She is desperate for power and wants the son back to give her leadership legitimacy.  She has locked her daughter in her quarters, ostensibly for her protection from the threatened rebellion - but honestly?  I think her daughter just isn't a high priority.

Grendel has taken the son on Orion's orders and they are travelling through the wastelands to safety.  Orion's widow sends the army after them, and predictably they all fail.  Eventually Grendel and the child find sympathisers and can rest, and wait.