Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ford's Focus - June 22nd 2009 to June 28th 2009

Written by: Ford Thomas

*Electric Girl Vol.1 TP (library)
*Usagi Yojimbo #121
*Detective Comics #854
*Gotham City Sirens #1
*Green Lantern #42
*Superman #689
*The Literals #3(of 3)
*Madame Xanadu #12
*Proof #21
*Viking #2
*Daredevil #119
*Awesome 2: Awesomer TP
*20th Century Boys Vol.3 TP

*Agents Of Atlas #1-5
*B.P.R.D.: The Universal Machine #1-5
*20th Century Boys Vol.2 TP
*Light Of Thy Countenance GN
*Comic Books Comics #3
* League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century: 1910
*everything ‘bought’

Last week was a big B.P.R.D. week for me, which was very enjoyable. The week started with Plague Of Frogs (vol.3), which was even better a second time. Upon finishing The Black Flame (vol. 5) later in the week had made me want to continue reading through the future volumes. I started reading B.P.R.D. with what I guess might be volume 8 in single issues and then went to the next series before getting some back issues. So my reading of B.P.R.D. has been out of order but that hasn’t affected any of my reading, if anything it has improved the experience. This just shows the strength of the writing throughout each mini series’, each series are presented with a new title making them appear very new reader friendly, which they are. I found that every new arc fleshed out the past while adding extra weight to the present, which was exciting because it made you feel like you had made the discovery yourself. It also feels like any of these stories began when you started reading but from reading stories that came before my introduction to the B.P.R.D. series’ has further expanded the back story making me want to continue reading through additional series revealing more story developments in a new light. This week I re-read The Universal Machine, which wasn’t as revealing as the previous few volumes but contained an exciting main story whilst a majority of the characters sat around table telling stories that shed light on their pasts.
More revealing re-reading was done last week with Starman Omnibus Vol. 2. My Starman reading experience is similar to that of the B.P.R.D. in that I started in the middle and worked my way out and around till I’d read it all or as much as I could get my hands on. It’s been a few years since I first read Starman and what I found with the first Omnibus earlier this year was some of the shine had rubbed off. I wasn’t as awed by it as I was the first time. With each omnibus it has taken me a while to warm up (similar to Robinson’s current Superman run) to the writing that is very flowery and almost silver age (the word balloons are occasionally filled with almost pointless dialogue which isn’t quite stating what is being shown but also seems to retread over itself). In almost every balloon every other word is in bold to create inflections in the characters speech, this didn’t work for me at all and ultimately proved distracting. But after a few issues I got into the story and it proved to be a rewarding reading. The strength of the writing is definitely in the portrayal of the ensemble cast, each of whom are consistently given enough ‘screen time’ to progress their character and story and the readers affection of them. A treat for me was the Showcase issues that I hadn’t read before, especially the two part Shade story with Dr Fate (Showcase ’96 #4-5) which is from my memory the first mention of the Shade’s rival Culp who plays a big part later in the series, which was a big treat because it added more to the Starman ‘tapestry’ for me.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Episode 30 - A Hungover Detective

Coming at ya' quick this week as I break down a specific Comic Book and Movie.

Music Featured is by Rancid

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Back to the Bins - Episode 11

Pulling out the Long Boxes once again this week to get our Back Issue fix!


Monday, June 22, 2009

Ford's Focus - June 15th 2009 to June 21st 2009

Written by: Ford Thomas


*Action Comics Annual #12

*Batman: Streets Of Gotham #1

*Supergirl #42

*Jack Of Fables #35

*Madman Atomic Comics #16

*Incognito #4

*Tales Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #59

*20th Century Boys Vol.2 TP

*Starman Omnibus Vol. 3 HC

*Lazarus Jack GN (library)

*Blessed Thistle GN (library)


*Oishinbo: Sake TP

*Zero Girl #1-5

*Zero Girl: Full Circle #1-5

*Fun With Milk And Cheese TP

*French Milk GN

*Popgun Vol.3 TP

*B.P.R.D. Vol. 3: Plague Of Frogs TP

*B.P.R.D. Vol. 4: The Dead TP

*B.P.R.D. Vol. 5: The Black Flame TP

*(finished) My Inner Bimbo TP

*Starman Omnibus Vol. 2 HC

*Everything ‘bought’ except for Starman Vol.3 and 20th Century Boys

Food and comics, two of my favourite things, they rarely cross over and food might not seem like it could do so successfully beyond a visual point or as prop in a scene or as tool to bring characters together. But both French Milk and more so in Oishinbo prove that it can take centre stage in a comic book.

Lucy Knisley’s French Milk is an illustrated travelogue of her trip to Paris with her mother their birthdays (22 and 50 respectively). Not directly about food but on almost every page there is either a mention of food, an illustration of food and more often than not, both. The candidness of the writing at first seemed like it could be off putting but within a page or two I’d found that its honesty was positively charming, which was a relief because I had been looking forward to reading it for a very long time.

When I saw the cover last year in Previews I was instantly attracted to it because of it’s blend of photo and ink drawing, one of few times I’d seen this done well, which was exciting and good to see because when I was ten I had wanted to make a superhero comic using these mediums. Then the book lived on my Amazon wish list for many months. When Free Comic Book Day came around, I picked up a few things which have been sitting in my to read pile but have kept saving for later because I didn’t want them to be over if they were as good as I was hoping they would be (I’ll get to Athena Voltaire very soon). Needless to say French Milk lived up to and even surpassed all expectations I had. From the beautiful line work to the constant barrage of exciting food to the dilemmas of being an early twenty something, it was a pleasure to read.

Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki’s Oishinbo follows Yamaoka Shiro and Kurita Yuko on their unenviable task of creating the Ultimate Menu for Tozai News. Each volume of the series focus on a different subject, the first tackled Japanese cuisine and this week I read the one focusing on sake. Next in my pile is ramen and gyoza, forthcoming are on subjects such as sushi and sashimi, vegetables, etc.

On the surface this may seem like a very dry subject for a series but it is far from that. Each ‘chapter’ is about twenty pages and usually focuses on certain aspects of the food or drink that is featured. There is a constant story running through each volume that is easy to get into and is mainly there add more to the journey. At the same time as being extremely informative and interesting it is also filled with great moments of light hearted humour. The characters are depicted in a ‘cartoony’ manner while panels depicting buildings or food are highly detailed in a photo realistic style.

This could be a good introduction to manga for those who think that it is all speed lines and two or three panels per page. Most pages have six-ten panels and are dialogue heavy but never in an over used fashion.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

TW Presents - Big Apple Con: Gene Colan & Walter Simonson

Thanks to a Mr. Tony G, I find myself with a recording of two legendary comic book creators. Listen in to hear about their inspirations, favorite projects, and any of their industry stories.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Episode 29 - Secret Origin

Everybody has one. A story. The question has been posed, so I must answer. How did I find myself wrapped up the comic book art form? Tune in to hear the answer.

Music Featured is By The Airborne Toxic Event

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ford's Focus - June 8th 2009 to June 14th 2009

Written by: Ford Thomas


*Moon Knight: Midnight Sun HC (library)

*Apparat Vol. 1 TP (library)

*Batman: Secrets TP (library)

*El Diablo TP (library)

*Action Comics #878

*Batman #687

*Flash: Rebirth #3(of 6)

*Green Lantern Corps #37

*JSA vs. Kobra: Engines of Faith #1(of 6)

*Red Robin #1
*Spirit #29

*Fables #85

*Proof #20

*Absolution #0

*Madame Xanadu #11

*Overlook #3(of 3)

*Glister #3


*Ms Tree #1,5,7,10,16,19,22, 24, 25, 29

*(some of) My Inner Bimbo TP

*Breach #5, 9, 10, 11

*Ms Tree Quarterly #6, 7, 9

*Johnny Hiro TP

*20th Century Boys Vol.1 TP

*B.P.R.D. Vol. 2: The Soul Of Venice And Other Stories TP

*Blackhawk Annual 1989 #1

*The Phony Pages #1(of 2)

*Ace-Face: The Mod With The Metal Arms SC

*Everything ‘bought’

Lately I have become a little too self aware of what my weekly trips to the comic shop mean to me. Which is both good and bad. Good because I realise why sometimes I find myself not enjoying the new weeks books, bad because I realise sometimes the most satisfy thing about purchasing my latest stack is crossing the titles off one of many unconscious check lists which are constantly running through my head, be it a shopping list, comic list, etc.

This understanding means I should get smart or bring that awareness to the comics I’m buying and reading instead of just myself. This isn’t me saying I don’t enjoying comics anymore because I do more than ever. Just this week I’ve read some of the best, enjoyable and down right fun comics I’ve ever read. I am rarely satisfied but I guess that makes me your typical whiny comic fan. But there is lots of satisfaction in my reading adventures, almost nothing beats reading a Paul Grist comic whether it’s Jack Staff or Kane or anything else his done. Or the first time I ever read Tom Beland’s True Story Swear To God and then reading every other issue. Or catching up on old favourites like Andi Watson, Jim Mahfood, Sam Keith, James Kochalka or any of my other favourite creators.

Johnny Hiro is pure escapist fun. If things went wrong in my life and job and insane adventure ensued as it does for Johnny Hiro…. most likely life would be more stressful but I would like to think it would be like my reading experience of Johnny Hiro, fun. The world Fred Chao creates is the world we live in but to balance out when reality gets too much there are dinosaurs, surly sushi chefs and samurai businessmen or it’s the other way round. Sure the unusual creates more problems for Johnny but it serves as a remedy to the reader’s daily ails. Filled with philosophy taken from 90s rap/hip hop and celebrity cameos which should be cringe worthy but are instead charming.

“Your reading all the right stuff, something must just be wrong with you” it wasn’t quite that but that’s a paraphrase of what a nine year old said to me about my response to the manga I had been reading, most of which had been recommended by her and her sisters. It could have been that a lot of what I had been reading was ‘shojo manga’ and had something to do with the fact that I’m not a teenage girl but I did enjoy some of it such as Satomi Ikezawa’s Othello. Not long after I started to ‘educate’ myself in all types of manga by borrowing stacks of it from the library and reading it too quickly. One highlight for me was Naoki Urasawa’s Monster. It was one of few occasions where print media had instilled fear, tension or suspense in me. With Monster I had found the first volume satisfying and didn’t feel the need to read more but I did because the library had the following six volumes all of which were enjoyable. If not for the story becoming involved and convoluted, but they’re two things that make the superhero genre so good. Needless to say Naoki Urasawa was on my radar. I’d seen an ad for 20th Century Boys in Previews and made a mental note of it but didn’t follow it up, few months later Vince B of the 11 o’clock comics podcast was praising it and that was the extra push I needed.

A seemingly mundane tale that switches between childhood friends hanging out and 20+ years later to where they are now. That as a premise is pleasant but not that interesting, 20th Century Boys is far from that. The late 60s and 70s scenes perfectly capture the fun of youth and silliness of being a bored kid, something I don’t think anyone should lose the feeling of. The past plants the seeds of the mystery that begins in 1997 where most of the friends still know each other, some are getting married, others run shops and one commits suicide. Slowly a mystery presents itself that revolves around the gang’s emblem from their childhood, which is now being used as symbol for a ‘cult’. Very rarely upon finishing a new book do I want to go out straight away and get a following volume but 20th Century Boys did exactly that.

Madame Xanadu #11 was something I had looked at at the comic shop on Wednesday because of Michael Wm. Kaluta’s incredible cover and even better interiors and thought I if I’m still thinking about it tomorrow I’ll pick it up. Thankfully I was still thinking about it and the splash page of Madame Xanadu sitting in a chair holding a crystal ball in her shop front. This was my first time checking in since issue 1 and it won me over completely. Great art, intriguing story and a panel with Wesley Dodds Sandman running away with his face conveniently out of panel, what more could I ask for? Nothing because this is a reunion of sorts on two fronts, Kaluta and Madame Xanadu, and Matt Wagner and Wesley Dodds (!). The second one has me the most excited as Wagner was the co-writer of perhaps my favourite series of all time Sandman Mystery Theatre. I might be biased but this is comic booking done right. Or at least for me.

Also read Ace-Face.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Episode 28 - Crime is Doomed!

It's time to play catch-up as I run through my recent reading material and bring it all back home.

Music Featured by The Deftones

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Monday, June 8, 2009

Ford's Focus - June 1st 2009 to June 7th 2009

Written By: Ford Thomas

*Batman and Robin #1
*Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Tales Of The Vampires
*Jersey Gods #5
*Scalped #29
*Seaguy: Slaves Of Mickey Eye #3(of 3)
*Superman: World Of New Krypton #4
*Four Women #1-5
*My Inner Bimbo TP
*20th Century Boys Vol.1 TP
*Expo 2000 TP
*Blackhawk Annual 1989 #1
*The Phony Pages #1(of 2)
*Ms Tree’s Thrilling Detective Adventures #1,5,7,10,16,19,22, 24, 25, 29


*Sloth GN
*The Walking Dead: Compendium TP
*Queen & Country Definitive Edition Vol. 4
*Blue Spring TP
*B.P.R.D. Vol.1: Hollow Earth and Other Stories TP
*Batman and Robin #1
*Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Tales Of The Vampires
*Jersey Gods #5
*Scalped #29
*Seaguy: Slaves Of Mickey Eye #3(of 3)
*Superman: World Of New Krypton #4
*Four Women #1-5

It would have been around the time when I was ten or eleven (twelve or thirteen years ago) when I first came across the cartoon of The Maxx. Most likely it was late on a Saturday night after the weekly anime movie on SBS, which I was probably too young to watch. The following program showcased a motley bunch of cartoons and one night it was The Maxx. Not sure what segment of the cartoon I saw, maybe when Julie goes to pick up The Maxx from jail and his fight with Mr Gone at the gas station later in the episode. But my memory could be impaired from later watching a video of the series too many times.
At the time I wasn’t aware of the comic book that the cartoon was based on, don’t think I even completely understood the Maxx and definitely struggled to get my head around the more mature concepts of the show. I might have gotten to see another fragment of an episode in the following weeks, regardless of whether I did Sam Keith had me as fan before I even knew who he was. Around this time would have been the proper start of my comic reading career, which the early 90’s X-men and Spider-Man cartoons played a big part in. Beforehand I occasionally read what was laying around the house, mostly Disney comics, a few Death of Superman era Superman’s, Classics Illustrated, as well looking at some EC stuff. There were a few brief runs that I bought off the shelf myself such as Spirits of Vengeance (and a couple of Web of Spider-Man tie in issues), the Jurassic Park movie adaptation and my favourite from this period Punisher 2099.
I’d probably forgotten about the hulking purple bum Maxx till I found issue three of Friends of Maxx at a trash and treasure a couple of years later. It was part two of a two-part tale, it didn’t even contain the Maxx except maybe for a page or two. I’ve probably read this comic dozens of times and most likely will pull it out once or twice every few years whether it’s reading it by itself or after issue two and sometimes issues one and two. This comic went along way to shaping the comic reader I’ve become. As well as being one of the first comics I read just about ‘people’, it’s also started a long period of my youth where I tried to draw like Sam Keith. This comic is also probably responsible for me still reading comics today because it opened me up to non-superhero comics which was pretty much all I read for a few years between being burnt out on X-men till around the time of the launch of the Marvel Knights line. I remember during this times hocking my beat up G.I. Joe’s to buy up as many back issues of the Maxx as I could, not all of them, it took me a bit long to track them all down.
At the start of this week I listened ifanboy’s Ron Richards great interview with Sam Keith(here) that got the ball rolling for me again. So this week has been a bit of catching up for me starting with Four Women, which was where I left off with Keith however many years ago. So far it’s been lots fun (not the themes of Four Women) reading a Keith comic after such a long time, next stop is My Inner Bimbo and I might also dig up my issues of Zero Girl before eventually going back to where it began for me with Friend of Maxx #3.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Episode 27 - Movie Review: Terminator Salvation

Lock up your daughters! This episode Joe Aulisio, Will Sabatini, and myself bring out the conversation for Terminator Salvation. Listen in to hear Joe and me argue and Will praise McG!

Music featured is by Nine Inch Nails.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Back to the Bins - Episode 8

Pulling out the Long Boxes once again this week to get our Back Issue fix!


Monday, June 1, 2009

Ford's Focus -May 25th 2009 to May 31st 2009

Written by: Ford Thomas

*Camelot 3000 HC (library)
*Fell Vol.1: Feral City TP (library)
*Wisdom: Rudiments Of Wisdom TP (library)
*Daredevil: Redemption TP (library)
*El Cazador TP (library)
*Elephantmen: War Toys Vol. 1: No Surrender TP (library)
*Moon Knight: God And Country HC (library)
*Heavy Liquid HC (library)
*Super-Villain Team-Up: Modok’s 11 TP (library)
*Top 10: The Farthest Precinct TP (library)
*Metamorpho: Year One TP (library)
*You Deserved It TP (library)
*The Life And Times Of Savior 28 #1
*Rawbone #1
*Batman In Barcelona: Dragon’s Knight
*Gotham Gazette: Batman Alive?
*Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink #1(of 6)
*Green Lantern #41
*The Incredible Hercules #129
*Justice League Of America #33
*Justice Society Of America #27
*The Literals #2(of 3)
*Superman #688
*Unknown Soldier #8
*Usagi Yojimbo #120
*Puttin’ The Backbone Back TP
*40 oz Collected TP
*Ace-face: The Mod With The Metal Arms GN
*The Tale Of One Bad Rat HC
*Freddie And Me HC
*Showcase: Doom Patrol Vol.1 TP
*Blue Spring TP
*Gyo Vol.1 and 2 TP

*Thor Visionaries: Walter Simonson TP (library)
*Across The Universe: The DC Universe Stories Of Alan Moore TP (library)
*Everything ‘bought’ except for Ace-face, Doom Patrol and Blue Spring

Comics take up a lot of my time, if you ask some people they might say too much of my time. I read comics almost everyday. When I wake up I’m sure more often than I’d like to admit my thoughts lead to comics.

The internet plays a big part in my comic day, especially my mornings. One of the first things I do in the morning is go on the internet and go on comic news sites and forums, etc

In the last week I was listening to a creator interview (Dan Slott on Word Balloon), I realised while listening that especially with audio interviews I get sucked in and quite often they lead to me buying something that is spoken about. I know this is because the enthusiasm with which the creators talk about their work gets me every time. This led me to thinking out a test I could put myself through but probably won’t. It would last for a little over a month and for each week that passes I would stop par taking in what I guess could be called extra curricular comic book activities.

1.Forums – probably the easiest thing for me to stop doing because I only go on one forum (the 11 O’clock Comics/Marvel Noise forum) and have only been doing so for little under a year. I enjoy the forum and spend anywhere from five minutes to and hour there everyday. Really great friendly forum but I’m not a very big poster.

2.Comic News Sites – while highly entertaining for me most that I read or find out normally doesn’t matter the next day or within the next few months.

3. Previews – going without Previews would be a good thing financially but I would miss out on lots of exciting comics from the ‘indie’ publishers.

4. Podcasts – would result in me listening to more music or a lot more silence. Big podcasting times for me are cooking and housework times and walking back and forth to work (anywhere from10 to 14+ half hour walks a week).

5. Pull List – The one thing I couldn’t go without, few reasons for this, one being that it makes trips to the shop a lot easier and comes with a discount. But the big one would be that I’ve had my pull list for twelve maybe even thirteen years at the same shop.

At the end of the day going without all or most of these things would give me a lot more time to do other things or simply read more comics. The down side would be that I would probably drive people more crazy with inane comic facts without a forum or podcasts talking about similar things that I think about. But without news sites I’d have a few less inane comic facts to share.

Thinking about this and thinking about this to the point where I’ve written about it has made me more aware of how much time spent on the above activities as well as that streamlining them would give me more time and less variables to my comic experience.