Thursday, August 19, 2010

Episode 81 - Death Valley High, Demo and Chew

This time on Teenage Wasteland...

A quick album review and recommendation of an awesome band. Plus, two comic book reviews and a small announcement.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Episode 80 - The Flash, The Unwritten, Batman and More



This time on Teenage Wasteland...

A traditional episode. Four comic books with four reviews.

Books Mentioned
Batman: The Widening Gyre #1
The Executor
The Flash #4
The Unwritten #15

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Quick Hit Review: Casanova #1 (Icon)

By: Allen R.

Amidst a collection of books that I usually keep around me, there are those that demand my attention and to spend time reading on them. There are comics I usually get to but there are those seldom few that I have to buy, I can't read a spoiler on or I'll end up getting fussy over it, so on and so forth. One of these comics is Casanova.

Casanova is the brainchild of Matt Fraction and Brazilian illustrator twins, Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon. The result of their collaboration follows: Time traveling, alternate realities, voluptuous and dangerous women, sleazy and conniving men. This is the world of Casanova Quinn and we, the readers, are only witnesses to this grand feat.

The plot follows a devil-may-care spy, the 'black sheep' in a family of spies, abducted by a rival organization to do their bidding...and the journey travels in directions seldom seen in conventional monthly comic books. To explain this would be hazardous and a denial of the pleasure as only a comic like Casanova can give.

Prior to the re-release of Casanova through Icon, two volumes were published through Image Comics- Luxuria (in muted green tone drawn by Gabriel Ba), and Gula (in a vibrant blue tone drawn by Fabio Moon). Following the release of the two volumes, the comic was in hiatus. The entire creative team sought work in other areas; Matt Fraction would end up writing the Invincible Iron Man and Uncanny X-men (and a short Thor story), while Ba and Moon illustrated titles such as Umbrella Academy, BPRD: 1947, and their most current work, Daytripper.

So after a two-year absence, Casanova... reprinted?

In this new version of Casanova, there are many compliments I can give (note: review is based on the first issue). The colors by colorist Cris Peters do not deter the quality of the art but adds another layer to the story, retaining the spirit of the muted tone from the initial release. The lettering by Dustin Harbin gives dialogue a character to its own, as you can feel weight to the narrative and words expressed by the characters. The backup feature by Fabio Moon gives an interesting perspective of Casanova through another character. The back matter documented excerpts from the life of writer Matt Fraction, and they serves as an analysis of the various influences which contributed to the making of Casanova.

To conclude, this comic is not just a comic meant to be read passively, it is an experience meant to be read over and over. Casanova challenges the norm of the comic book and challenges you with every panel and every page. If you tire of passive reading and seek a challenging and rewarding comic book, I highly urge you to read Casanova. And through the release from the Icon imprint, there is no excuse to deny picking this book up.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It's Frank Miller. Celebrate.

As if the bursting news blurbs of Comic-Con International could not be topped, shortly after a legend of the comic book medium dropped his own annoucement: Frank Miller will finally release “Holy Terror” in 2011. For more of the details on the actual project, simply read this press release over at CBR.

Now, Miller is one of those guys who has literally changed the face of the medium. His work has done so much in the areas of narrative and inspiration that I see it safe to claim Miller as one of the most notable shapers of modern day comic books. The man pushed the expectations and possibilites of the graphic lauguage with nearly all of his works, and more notably proved that super-heroes no longer needed to be childhood icons and could reach new heights in terms of depth and narrative. Frank Miller changed the game and inspired so many, yet now it seems everyone has turned against him.

I understand the anger and lack of enjoyment most have had for both The Spirit and All-Star Batman and Robin. I mean, I do not agree, but I can see that both projects upset people. The Miller they knew and loved let them down in not one but two instances. This of course leads to further hostilities for fans. It is a point most face and the main reason why “New Miller” is hissed at. Alright, so maybe to someone Frank Miller has done some mediocre work as of late. Maybe he is just a “crazy old man” as many forcfully type. Yet even though all of this animosity may exist for modern-day Miller, is it really necessary to condemn the man to the point where he should never create another comic book again? This is Frank Miller. The man who gave us The Dark Knight Returns and Sin City. We do not want him doing more work in comics? Really?

Honestly, it would not matter if “Holy Terror” was a masterpeice or not. Frank Miller has already proven himself in multiple ways. He has earned his keep in this medium and in this industry. Miller is one of the reasons we have the comics we do today. At this point it is not his duty to produce profound work. He has earned his green card to create and tell the stories he sees fit. Who are we to tell Miller no? Art is not the idea of being controlled and keeping to one’s self, and an artist has every right to express what he or she feels necessary, especially one of Frank Miller’s caliber. For fans and readers to demand Miller to quit...well...it seems to go against the idea of comic books being art.

And yes, I understand that the concept of “super-heroes versus Al Queda” may be offensive to some. I understand that real men and women are overseas actually combatting the threat. I can see how it may make some uncomfortable. But again, comic books are art. The idea of a superman fighting current day terrorists is one some have already come to ponder, and now Miller wants to express his thoughts on the idea. Miller, as the artist, has every right to do so. Plus, is this really the first time war or real-life villainy will have been exploited? Captain America fought Hitler, and Spider-man stood at Ground Zero. Both were examples of artists commenting on the times or a specific event using pop culture icons. Using the mold of a “super-hero”, Miller will do something similar to comment on the conflict of the Middle East. This is nothing new, and honestly I am glad someone with Frank Miller’s talent is choosing to do so. I want what he has to say.

So, lay off Frank Miller. The man is and always will be a comic book legend. We should celebrate the fact he looks to continue to produce work. Many of the legends no longer do so because of other engagements or are not physically capable . But, hey, we have Frank, and it looks like he still has a few stories to tell. I am happy.

Monday, August 9, 2010

IDW Provides a Unique Parker Prelude.

Darwyn Cooke’s adaptation of Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter was a huge hit for the year of 2009. Now, Cooke preps for his return in October with installment number two of the Parker graphic novel series.

Alright, as a fan of the crime genre and beautiful artwork, Cooke’s take on Parker is a must own for me. Simple as that. The Hunter from 2009 delighted me dearly and all around was a great package and a great example of what comic books do.

Upon making my purchases for the month of July I picked up IDW’s prelude for The Outfit (the next installment of Parker OGNs). All I want to do is give my respect to IDW for printing this gorgeous, over-sized presentation of Darwyn Cooke’s artwork. This over-sized, stapled wonder hosts twenty-four pages of a story that can certainly stand alone, but also provides a preview of The Outfit's first chapter - a true show of versatility. It also bridges a gap Cooke and Editor Scott Dunbier came across creatively.

See, Cooke cut The Man With The Getaway Face from his list of candidates for Parker adaptations. There were other stories which excited him more.

“The hard one to cut was the second book, The Man With The Getaway Face. I find this to be one of my least favorite, and when I compare its story to that of The Score, I know which one I feel desperate to illustrate.” *

Yet, as Cooke mentions, it was a hard choice.

“There is a component of Getaway Face that is key to all other Parker books, and something that could not be ignored. If you don’t know what it is...well, the title should be a clue.” *

And here we are.

This prelude is special for the over-sized factor, but what I really like about it is the vibe it carries. This is an official part of Cooke’s Parker adaptation, yet it is a peice that could easily slip through the cracks. For all the people out there who will read or who have purchsed The Hunter in a book store, who never set foot in comic shops, this is something they miss. No, not the story beats. Remember, this is the first chapter of The Outlit. It will be in the actual book. What they miss is this awesome package. Book store buyers will have to stick with their small, compressed Cooke art while we Wednesday crowd bask in the glory of big, big panels. It is a nice present to those who already love and follow the medium. Book store crowds? They miss this extra layer. They miss this cool novelty. It is here only for the people who walk into comic shops.

Thank you, IDW, and respect. You are giving back to the fans, the comic shop crowd. You are also adding a unique flare to the marketing of The Outfit. This prelude excites and should accelerate word-of-mouth. Sitting on the shelf, this over-sized print should attract someone unfamiliar with Parker and welcome them in. I think it is a great marketing device and a nice touch overall.

Plus, it’s only two bucks and a fun heist story dominates as the content. Score.

*Quotes are excerpted from The Parker Prelude: The Man With The Getaway Face

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Episode 79 - Norma Jean and SDCC Blurbs

This time on Teenage Wasteland...

I sit down and bring to you a review of Norma Jean's latest album, Meridional. Also, Comic-Con International just wrapped, and a few news bits caught my attention.



And, Mr. Sandquist holds much excitement for Sam Kieth's Arkham Asylum: Madness in the new Sandbox.

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Special Offer from Fearless Readers Online

Alright, as of #78, there is a new sponsor, Fearless Readers Online. The site is a great stop-and-shop for $1 comics, and great comics at that. Well, as with the sponsorship, the gents over at FRO are offering TW listeners a special deal. It's simple. If you send an e-mail to tw@fearlessreadersonline.com with the subject line reading "coupon code" you will recieve a coupon for $3 off any order above $10.

I think this is a great idea, and I hope everyone takes advantage. E-mail in. Get the code. Browse around their site. I'm sure you will find a way to drop $10.

Woot!