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Spotlight: Revival

Do you remember the first time you picked up a comic book? The feel of it in your hands, the excitement of having a new story to delve into? The details of the artwork that sprang off the page, waiting to be devoured by an eager mind? Now, when was the last time you felt that excitement?

Tim Seeley (Hack/Slash, GI Joe) and Mike Norton (Battlepug, Queen + Country) have succeeded in bringing us back to our beginnings. A new story, a new twist, a new feel. All that wonder you first felt when you turned the page of that comic book? It’s back. And in a big way.

Welcome to Wausau, Wisconsin, home of snow, cows and a small community of the living dead. They’re not zombies or walkers or anything like that though. They’re simply alive again, back to their jobs and everyday lives. What could possibly cause this you ask? We have no idea. But the local police have organized a special team to figure that out. We follow this team, a reporter and a CDC liaison, as they search to find out why people are “reviving” and if they really are themselves. What could possibly go wrong?

Seeley’s writing succeeds in bringing us a new spin on the horror/mystery genre. With elements of action, mystery, investigation, horror, family, supernatural and drama, Revival is a truly well-rounded tale. Many horror tales have become formulaic and predictable over the years. This book is not one of those stories. With twists and turns and spins, you’ll be glued to the pages, wondering what could possibly happen next to this small, rural town? Jeff Lemire writes in the introduction of the first volume, “It’s equally chilling and fascinating stuff…”

Norton’s art goes hand in hand with Seeley’s writing seamlessly. Each detailed panel gives us another piece to the bigger picture. With realistic characters that have imperfections, and beautiful snowy landscapes, Norton gives us the sense of being in Wisconsin, in the thick of it. Heads above the rest of  though is Norton’s hauntingly beautiful character design of one of the more moving, mysterious characters in the book. To say any more would only spoil it.

With sold out multiple printings and rave reviews, I’d follow Jeff Lemire’s advice: “…sit back and enjoy. You can only discover your favorite new comic once, so savor it. I know I did.”

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What Do You Get For The Person Who Likes …?

Comic book readers and collectors are difficult to buy for. Fact. We’re here to help you with all your gift giving needs this holiday season and all year round. Fact.

If they like…The Walking Dead:

  • Y The Last Man (Vertigo) Yorick is the last man on earth, literally. And now he must survive a world of women and figure out what’s happened.
  • Sweet Tooth (Vertigo) An original ongoing series from one of today’s top talents, Jeff Lemire. Mad Max meets Bambi in this post-apocalyptic tale where the only children born after The Plague are human/animal hybrids.

If they like…alternative chefs:

  • Chew (Image) Eisner Award winning ongoing series about an FDA agent in a future where chicken is illegal and the FDA is the most powerful government agency.

If they like…dystopian futures:

  • Transmetropolitan (Vertigo) Warren Ellis goes cyber-punk in this tale about Spider Jerusalem, a renegade journalist documenting a corrupt system.
  • Channel Zero (Dark Horse) Brian Wood is truly a master of his craft with this graphic novel set in the near future. “Big Brother meets Dark Angel in New York City.”

If they like…zombies:

  • Rachel Rising Terry Moore’s current ongoing series about a girl who wakes up….after dying.
  • I, Zombie (Vertigo) A zombie and her friends. Life as normal….right?

If they like…Once Upon A Time:

  • Fables (Vertigo) The vast series that’s ongoing about fables living in New York and the society surrounding them.

If they like…aliens and dirty politics:

  • Saucer Country (Vertigo) “X-Files meets West Wing” (Comicbookresources.com)

If they like…to pick out their own books:

  • Gift Certificates!

Comics Noir

Merriam-Webster defines “Noir” as crime-fiction featuring hard-boiled, cynical characters and bleak, sleazy settings. Comics have an advantage in this genre because of the dual text and visual elements of their storytelling. Not only can the character narrate the smoky underground, but you can see it before you, the lines of the artist expressing the emotion of the darkness.

Never delved into the Noir genre before? That’s okay, because we at The Comic Book Shop have got you covered! Here’s a selection of the darkest and seediest of the bunch.

The Last of the Innocent, A Criminal Edition by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

Revisit the world of teen-romance, but this time, all those Archie-style characters have grown up and their world is now a lot more complicated than Riverdale’s small town perfection. Follow the main character into the dark reaches of his life, complicated by money, murder, and the American dream. Ed Brubaker is a master of his craft and this is a shining example of why you should care about his works.

Sin City by Frank Miller

Frank Miller brings us a brutal world with stark contrasts of light and dark along with judiciously placed splashes of color to enhance the intensity. “Plus lots of blood.” (Joe Cote)

Spider-Man Noir by Hine & Sapolsky

The year is 1933. This is the story of a Peter Parker born in a different era, with a completely different view of the world. Goblin, the corrupt mob boss, leads a gang of sideshow freaks against an angry young Spider-Man, set on justice. Be drawn into the world of Marvel Noir, a multiple mini-series in an alternate continuity that bring us the darker side of our favorite heroes.

Mystery Men from David Liss & Patrick Zircher

This is Marvel in the Great Depression. This is capes and fedoras. This is corrupt money and the first masked heroes the world has known. Murder and Justice. “It’s just really good. It’s one of my top picks.” (Titus)


Wordless Comics for Parents and Kids

It’s often said that comics are just for kids. That couldn’t be further from the truth, as there are some great comics that parents can appreciate that their children will enjoy likewise. It’s never to early to start your kids on comics, even if they can’t read. Little ones are wonderful at recognizing and expressing emotion and following a story, as long as their attention span allows of course. Here’s a selection of some adorable, wordless comics that will be sure to delight both children and adults.

Astro by Nils Hamm is an absolutely gorgeous comic put out by Image. An astronaut finds himself, or herself, falling into another planet after crashing it’s rocket. On this planet, it comes across many new friends and adventures and finds out that it’s not a completely horrible day if a space spider catches your rocket in it’s web and you fall through space. Sometimes, life’s accidents can yield beautiful experiences. The artwork in the book is phenomenal with bold brush strokes and bright colors sure to capture the attention of little children.

The inside flap of Korgi by Christian Slade states that if you loved The Hobbit, Bone or Owly, then this is a book for you. The first volume in the adventures of Ivy and her korgi Sprout, this book is absolutely adorable for both dog lovers and normal folks. They encounter monsters and friends alike in their woodland travels as they adventure, just a girl and her dog. The art is beautiful in black and white sketches, capturing expression and emotion in every page. Slade, a former Disney animator, grew up in New Jersey and created this book with his wife, Ann.

“Owly is a kind-hearted little owl who’s always searching for new friends and adventure.” (Back cover of Owly Tiny Tales). With a bold and animated style, Andy Runton’s Owly series has captured the hearts of many a reader. Along with his forest friends, including a rabbit, a raccoon and two rambunctious hummingbirds, Owly deals with various different things from sharing to having fun. This is an all ages tale that has “simple charm, wisdom and warmth.” (Booklist)


What if….

With Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter out in theaters now, there’s a whole sub-genre coming to the forefront of fiction: Alternate History. This genre is where writers are free to play with and shape historical events and figures to their own purposes and we as readers see the ripple effect. There have been various uses of this is comics throughout their history, but here’s a few examples that you may want to look into.

 Superman Red Son, written by Mark Millar with art by Dave Johnson, is one of those great “What if…” stories. “What if Superman didn’t land in America?” Superman, who’s secret identity is a state secret, lands in the Ukraine and is raised to be ” the Champion of the common worker who fights a never-ending battle for Stalin, socialism, and the international expansion of the Warsaw Pact.” Premiering in April 2003, this book was nominated for a 2004 Eisner Award for Best Limited Series.

 Watchmen, Alan Moore’s commentary on super-heroes, is an obvious choice for this list. A 12 issue series released from 1986 to 1987, Watchmen is one of the more well-known comics in pop-culture and for good reason. It presents a world where super-heroes emerged in the 1940’s and 50’s, helping America later win the Vietnam War. Shedding light on super-heroes in general, Moore brings us a gritty world where not everything is as it seems and masked crusaders are, at the end of the day, still human.

PT Barnum. A household name? For sure. Secret agent for Grover Cleveland who, aided by his circus companions, is given the task of thwarting an attempt to destroy the Union and defeating Nikola Tesla? Perhaps.

Alan Moore brings together some of the more adventurous figures in Victorian fiction in this action/adventure/mystery set in 1898. Mina Murray (Harker), Allan Quatermain, The Invisible Man, Dr Jekyll and his companion Mr Hyde and Captain Nemo join forces at the request of M, the mysterious head of the Secret Service. This is a group of people the likes of London has never seen.

This Tales of The Multiverse story collects Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, Batman: Bloodstorm and Batman: Crimson Mist into one single volume. These stories, coming out in the 90’s and written by Doug Moench, bring us a dark, gothic Gotham with the Dark Knight in the middle of the sweeping darkness. Eric Van Lustbader writes in the foreword, “For, after all, though Batman is – and always has been – a champion of justice, his has been a cruel justice, one of fear, intimidation and dark vengeance.” For any guys out there wanting to get their lady friends who like vampires into Batman, this might be the perfect introduction.


Did You Know? #2

As soon as you walk into our shop, you’ll see the giant table of back issue bins. We’ve got the essential stuff, Batman, Superman, X-Men, Avengers and even a few bins of Silver Age comics. But occasionally you’ll come across some rather strange/odd/funny issues that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to be in our bins. Follow me and let’s take a picture tour of the oddities I’ve come across in the last couple days.

Devil Dinosaur was imagined, written and drawn by Jack Kirby and lasted only 9 months. After it’s cancellation, Devil Dinosaur

would go on to make guest appearances in other Marvel titles and one-shots.

In the Summer of 2011, Kaboom! brought back Duck Tales with an ongoing series. DUCKTALES! WOO OO!

I think this one speaks for itself.

Jersey Gods, written Glenn Brunswick and illustrated by Dan McDaid. Gods battle in Cherry Hill!

PvP #1, originally a webcomic that was put into print form for a limited run by Image.

Duckaneer.What collection doesn’t need this?

1986 acid trip?

You’ll gasp at the fate of Peter Parker! See what happens to Miles Morales!


Artist Spotlight: Becky Cloonan

Becky Cloonan, most recently the artist on Dark Horse’s Conan The Barbarian, is an Italian born girl with a pencil and the talent to use it. With a beautiful style that at times evokes images of Penny Arcade, Mike Mignola, and scratchboard, she’s continuing to dazzle with her self published comics and a consistent quality of art. Working for Dark Horse, Marvel, Image, and Vertigo, her projects include Dracula the Illustrated Novel, American Virgin, The Guild: Zaboo, and Demo Volume II. In the midst of all this publisher work, she manages to put out her own self-published titles. The most notable of those titles is Wolves, which sold out it’s original print run of 1,000 copies in two months, is “beautiful, haunting, and refreshingly mysterious” according to Mike Mignola.

What Cloonan brings to comic book art is a fresh take on things. Check out some of her work and see for yourself.

Conan The Barbarian (Dark Horse)

Wolves (Becky Cloonan self published)