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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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Spotlight: Jonathan Hickman

Eisner and Harvey Award Nominated writer Jonathan Hickman is a key player in the Marvel NOW! Universe. Why, you ask? The former Fantastic Four writer is now penning Avengers, a cornerstone in Marvel’s stable. Do yourself a favor and pick up Avengers #1. Hickman has brought his unique style to the fan-favorite book and he does not disappoint.  “You owe it to yourself to find a comfy chair and get to know his work.” (Robert Kirkman) When it comes to Hickman, we’ve got you covered!

secret-warriors-vol-1-nick-fury-agent-nothing-brian-michael-bendis-paperback-cover-artSecret Warriors (Marvel)

“The greater sin is doing nothing when you could be giving everything…of dreaming too small. I will be the ONE MAN.” So says the back of the first volume of this amazing series spinning out of Secret Invasion. We follow Nick Fury’s secretly assembled teams tasked with doing what they can no longer trust others to accomplish. Equal parts inspiring, thought provoking and entertaining, Secret Warriors is an excellent addition to any Marvel library.

manhattan-projects-volume-1-hickman-pitarra-coverManhattan Projects (Image)

What if the Manhattan Project was just a cover for more covert government projects? Oppenheimer, Truman, Einstein, Feynman, FDR, and some aliens! What could possibly go wrong? This is currently an ongoing series published by Image with art by Nick Pitarra and I highly recommend it if you like a little weird with your comics.

pax-romana-jonathan-hickman-paperback-cover-artPax Romana (Image)

The Vatican discovers time travel in the near future. What do they do with this? Send a group to destroy the past in order to save the future. With gorgeous, modern artwork, this book is essential to reading Hickman. Matt Fraction says he felt “stunned, surprised and delighted” when he read “this little miracle of a book.”


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!

Reviews: Blueberry Girl and A Trip To The Bottom of the World With Mouse

Very rarely does a children’s book come along that is as inspiring and touching as Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess. In the vein of Oh The Places You’ll Go! by Dr Suess and Love You Forever by Robert Munsch, Gaiman has written a poem that speaks to the women of fate for a young girl.

Proving his wordsmith skills, he conveys hopes and dreams for a whole life, both the ups and the downs. “Keep her from spindles and sleeps at sixteen, let her stay waking and wise.” Charles Vess’ watercolor illustrations are beautifully coupled to Gaiman’s words. Depicting animals, flowers and the natural world, Vess perfectly showcases a girl’s importance and joy in the cycle of life.

If you have a daughter or know anyone who does, this is a must have book.

 

 

 

 

If you’re looking for a book for very small children, A Trip To The End of The World With Mouse by Frank Viva is a great option. With bright, retro illustrations and simple sentences, little one’s attention shouldn’t wander too far.

We follow Mouse as he travels across the sea with his friend. Along the way he points out all the things they need and encounter on their trip (mittens, boots, penguins, etc). This is a good book for toddlers as they begin to learn about the world around them and can be made interactive easily through point and find type play. Overall, a very cute book with two sweet main characters.


Dual Spotlight: Blankets and Sailor Twain

Every once in awhile, there comes along a graphic novel that grabs your attention and refuses to let go. I was lucky enough to read two of those back to back this past week.

    Blankets is very much what the title suggests.  A handmade quilt. A thick cover of snow. It’s a soft and comfortable story that takes you on an emotional journey through the eyes of a young man coming of age.

Meet Craig: a teenager with a passion for art who is raised in a very Christian environment. At Bible Camp one summer, Craig meets Raina, a kindred spirit who succeeds in bringing him out of his shell a bit. This is a story of falling in love for the first time that succeeds where many others fail: it’s honest.  Craig Thompson has a rare gift for storytelling. He makes it seem as if he’s speaking directly to you.

This book is a perfect blend of personal narrative and visual storytelling with beautiful, expressive black and white art. Highly recommended for  both males and females, as well as new readers.

 

   Sailor Twain is the opposite of Blankets in that it’s not quite what the title would suggest. This is not a biography of Mark Twain. This is a story about a man falling in love…with a mermaid.

Aboard a steamboat on the Hudson, there are two men: Sailor Twain (a married man with a love for the water) and Lafayette (a shipowner with a love for women). Twain’s life changes when he rescues an injured mermaid from a watery death and hides her in his quarters on-board. But where did she come from? How was she hurt? Perhaps this new book that Lafayette’s talking about will answer his questions. What happens when he’s not the only one asking questions?

Mark Siegel has created a sexy, mysterious trip along the Hudson with his emotional pencil illustrations and perfectly timed narration.


Spotlight: Unwritten by Mike Carey and Peter Gross

Books. They’re one of the most influential mediums in the world, reaching almost every corner of the world. Classics and major franchises like Harry Potter have reached billions of people and continue to gain new readers every day. There’s a vast influence that the written word has over the human mind. The right words can inspire, destroy, create, anger, and shape the thoughts and ideals of those that read them. Now, what if those words had a tangible power behind them? Something mysterious that could bring Frankenstein’s monster into being and make a magic wand work? What if you could enter those stories and walk the streets in Dickens’ London or the Hundred Acre Wood? Welcome to the world of Unwritten.

With equal parts mystery, action, adventure, and drama, Unwritten is the story about a man, Tom Taylor. Tom was the inspiration for his father’s international bestselling Tommy Taylor novels. Raised with a deep knowledge of the literary world he is now worshipped as ‘the word made flesh,’ as if he’s the real Tommy Taylor fully grown. But that can’t be possible, of course. Soon, his life begins to take strange turns, crossing paths with dangerous people that are most definitely not what they seem. There’s an underworld to fiction, one that Tom is quickly introduced to while he searches for the truth about his father and childhood. As he tumbles through story after story, literally, what will he learn? The real question though is, will truth be stranger than fiction when he finally finds the answers?

Wired called Mike Carrey’s ongoing series, “Fascinating..One of the most interesting comics of the year.” They weren’t wrong. In a sea of superheroes and zombies, spies and mercenaries, Unwritten is a splash of cold water for any reader. Not only does this book draw you in and not let you put it down, it makes you think. How do comics and books as mediums influence the world around us? At what point do people’s thoughts about a book matter more than the actual book itself? What in the world today stands alone as real? Could we all just be characters, acting out a plot, at the mercy of a writer?

Do yourself a favor and catch up with this series. It won’t disappoint.

Unwritten vol. 6 by Mike Carey and Peter Gross comes out October 17, 2012.


Comics for New Readers

We’ve all been there. “My best friend/girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse/mother/sibling/cat doesn’t read comics and I think they’d really like them if they just started reading!” Then there’s always the question of, “But what should they read first?” to which there are a thousand answers. It varies from person to person. As a woman still discovering comics, I have a few recommendations. Because sometimes, industry and character driven storylines are a little intimidating at first. Let’s get our feet wet, shall we?

Fables

With familiar characters such as Snow White, Cinderella, and the Big Bad Wolf, this series brings fable and folklore to the modern day. While new issues still ship monthly, there are 17 trade paperback collections to catch up with and all are currently in print. The story isn’t so complex that it’s hard to follow, and yet is still rich enough to get lost in the pages. Winning 16 Eisner awards helps put it up there at the top of the list.

Y The Last Man

The year is 2002. An unexplained gendercide has occurred, wiping out every last male of every species on the planet, with the exception of one man & his male pet monkey. From Eisner Award winning writer Brian K Vaughan (currently writing Saga), this is a good starter book because it’s a complete series. It won’t be coming out monthly and you don’t need to know anything that came before it. The publisher,Vertigo (a creator-owned imprint of DC comics), has put out some of the most unique and interesting books over the last 19 years. If you like The Walking Dead, try this!

I Zombie

Meet Gwen Dylan. She’s a zombie. And a grave digger. With a werewolf and ghost as her best friends. With vibrant artwork that jumps off the page, thanks to Michael Allred and Laura Allred, this book will have you hooked. The approach to it’s horror type characters is realistic and accessible, with comedic relief and plausible situations. I, Zombie reads much like a tv show, but looks how only a comic book can.

Invinvible

To a lot of people, comic books mean super-heroes. That’s not a bad thing. There is an alternative to the massive histories of Marvel and DC, though. Image brings us Invincible, Robert Kirkman’s saga of the son of a superhero who turns out to have powers himself. At times heartwarming and always action-packed, this book is easy to enjoy. Invincible is perfectly readable to someone with only a vague knowledge of the comic book world.

Chew

Chicken has been banned across the world. During this chicken prohibition speakeasies and black markets have opened and the FDA has become the most powerful government agency in order to keep poultry crimes at bay. Chew follows the story of a detective who can tell everything about something simply by eating it; it’s origin, how it was processed, who shipped it, etc. Part CSI, part over the top action, this comic will leave you wanting for more. This series is currently an ongoing monthly title. Did we mention there’s a cybernetic kung-fu rooster assassin? Cause there is and he’s awesome.