Tag Archives: ink

Photo Challenge – Love

25 May

This is an arbitrary love, and you probably thought I was going to write about how much I love my family, girlfriend, friends, or Sabretooth.  Well, fuck that, I love Pilot G-2 .07 (or .05) pens!

You can often hear me advertising how wonderful these pens are, but let me compile a list of the reasons why they’re great:

  • Their color is black if black was black
  • They hardly bleed
  • Simple but effective rubbery grip
  • You will never have to frantically scribble to get the ink to come out unless you haven’t used the pen for years or if it is on the last leg of ink
  • They are beautiful
  • They make me believe in a god
  • Their ability to doodle well is fantastic
  • Depending upon the amount of pressure, you can get different thicknesses in line width.  No matter what, though, the line will still be readable unless you have terrible handwriting… or eyesight
  • They’re like a phoenix rising from the ashes

Does that give you a good idea of how orgasmic these pens are?  I sure hope so.

I would totally make out with one if it was a human… or a pineapple…


Oh wow… I went there, didn’t I?  Well, for something a bit more conventional (at least so far), consider the PHOTO CHALLENGE master list for other amazing photos centered around me!


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol 1 #41: Review!

24 Feb

There is something so expressive by just a thin line.  It curves, it bends, it straightens, it can fold upon itself, stretch to dizzying lengths, and a whole lot more.  Matt Howarth, in his stab at the ninja turtles pulls in an expressive mastery of line and texture that unveils the dominance of black and white comics over color.  There is just something so fascinating of the use of simple lines, and Howarth shows that they can be used in quite an array of beauty.

Now, this is a great, glowing way to kick off a review.  However, keep in mind that this is only handling the art side of things.

The writing isn’t terrible, but it is quite simple.  Nevertheless, it achieves its goal of entertainment and cracks a smile here and there.  I suppose this is mostly in the few meta-textual moments (comic book characters dreaming they are in a comic, comic book characters who were in a comic that was turned into a tv show that became popular so they could no longer function in the “real” world in a comic, etc.) which garner a few witty lines.  Overall, it’s a by-the-books dream comic.  We peek into each turtles’ dream and show that they strangely have some control over it.  The dreams are fanciful or fairly realistic, but each one of them (Leonardo’s being the weakest) gives an insight to the characters.

In a comic book world filled with concerns about plot, it is nice to revisit a comic that has a simple plot but funnels that plot through character development.  Plus, after reading Dwayne McDuffie’s (RIP as of a few days ago) piece on Continuity in comics which argues that comics should be more accessible by being about the fun again rather than the need to read the last 5-10 issues to understand the one you’re reading now (I’m looking at you Green Lantern).  Each issue should be fun and be that “Great Jumping On Point” comic out there.  And, this one fulfills that.

Returning to the art… there is something so fantastic about it.  It revels in line strength and obsessive cross-hatching.  The art takes advantage of the dream world but does not exploit it.  The world is a real world in the form of a dream.  Sure, there are exaggerations (mostly for comic effect), but these work with the story rather than against it.  The art is impressive, and there’s really no other way to convey it.

Overall, this is a good book that takes a few jabs for jokes to great effect.  It’s accessible for both the new reader and the old.  And, best of all, it’s fun.

Walking Dead #81: Review!

13 Feb

For some of the issues up until the new story of “No Way Out,” The Walking Dead had gotten a little talky.  Now, I have absolutely no problem with this because I enjoy a lot of talking in my comics.  I like a nice balance between action and talking with a little more on the talking side because I love character development.  Sure, you can have people go kick ass but do you ever really know them?

Robert Kirkman actually makes you feel like you know the characters in the comic.  Some of their personalities just grow on you which is pretty hard to do in an ensemble book.  Sure, there are sometimes so many characters that I forget who some of them are (especially if they haven’t appeared in 5 issues or so), but I feel like a lot of this would be solved if I trade waited.  Except I can’t do that.  I need my monthly dose of zombies, and I enjoy the letters column.

Here’s the story thus far: Our main group finds a mega-fenced off community, people bond, people fight, and then a gun fight draws a shitload of zombies outside the gates of the community.  Now, those zombies are pushing so hard on the fence that it’s starting to come down.  Some of our characters make a desperate run at alleviating the situation with mixed results.  Oh, and some of the living inhabitants are being plucked out of the game one zombie bite at a time.

Adlard’s artwork brings it home again with a mastery use of shadow.  This is enhanced by Cliff Rathburn’s gray tones that really add that extra pop to the images.  The team also makes some pretty terrifying zombies.

Overall, this comic still brings it home.  I am more than willing to continue picking it up monthly, but I still recommend for people getting into the series to pick it up in trades.

Daytripper: Review!

4 Feb

It is fair to say that Daytripper will be probably one of the best comics you will ever read.  Yeah, I said it.  It is so good that people who barely or don’t even read comics need to read it.  This comic deserves every attention it receives; it deserves to be held, corners to be bent, smudges on the sides, tear drop stains on the ink, beauty in your mind.

Frankly, I haven’t read anything this beautiful for a long time and trust me, I read a lot.  In only a handful of issues, this comic achieves as much, if not more in storytelling and art than every issue of Sandman combined.  That’s a hefty argument, I know, but it is one fair to say.

The comic revolves around the life (lives) of Brás.  He’s a fairly unknown obituary writer living in the shadow of his nationally acclaimed writer-father in Brazil.  He struggles to make a name for himself with only the help from his dog and best friend Jorge.  He has his ups and downs but leads a relatively normal life.

The catch?  Brás dies at the end of every issue.  Nevertheless, the comic follows him from the different key moments in his life whether those be heartbreak or the birth of his child.  The deaths are sometimes predictable or other times terrifying, but, through each death, you learn a little something about life – the intricacies that run alongside you as you go about your day.  Missed encounters become life-changers.  Actual encounters become life-changers.  Love runs throughout.  And, what better way to understand the love than to experience the creators’ love for the story, the character, and the details.

Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá are two Brazilian twin brothers who have worked in comics for awhile, but have garnered a storm of appreciation within the last 2-5 years; it is well deserved.  Their story in Daytripper is infectious and has just that little hook that makes you want more which they even address in a sort of meta-textual way within the comic.  Each word is more powerful than the last, and careful consideration runs rampant.  The last couple issues of the book brought tears to my eyes.  There have only been two other comics that have done this.  By the end of the book, you are hooked and in love with Brás no matter his faults.  The way of telling the story only deepens when you look at their art.

Their biggest accomplishment, in my opinion, is their capability in handling age.  The comic jumps from key moment to key moment within the life of Brás.  Yet, somehow they manage to make him look legitimately older or younger.  You know it’s him before the story even mentions him.  On top of that, they have this incredible knack for making characters who are related look related.  You can seriously see that Brás and his mother and father are related.  It is simply incredible.

Other great feats are strewn throughout the book from the beautiful brush strokes to the mystifying backgrounds.  All of this is punctuated by the great Dave Stewart’s colors.  He provides a sensational palette of watercolor-like colors that do not detract but enhance the already phenomenal art.

I have two complaints about this book and they are rather trivial.  One: they drew a foosball table wrong.  I’ve spent a lot of time with foosball tables and instantly recognized the strangeness in the set up (granted, it was only backwards).  Two, the book could have been printed on a higher paper quality to enhance the viewing experience.  If that means hiking the price up from $20 to $35, then so be it.  This book deserves every penny.

Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá have achieved one of the highest accomplishments in literature within a comic book – the thing thwarted by attacks of juvenile delinquency not too long ago.  The medium conveys the message.  This book will make you contemplate life, death, love, pain, hope, and everything in between after every issue.  Quite frankly, this book sets a new standard for comics with perfection on every page.

The end of an era: Tales of the TMNT #70 Review

9 Jun

My mouth was held agape for the majority of reading this comic.  I wondered how they could somehow end on such a perfect note.  I wondered, how could this be so damn good?

Tales of the TMNT #70 represents one of the most noble and best ways to end a series/possibly even a comic franchise: without doing anything other than producing a book of the highest quality possible.

Now, I’m not going to deny the fact that I’m biased over all things TMNT and that this being the final issue of all comics TMNT (for, at least, a very long time) will affect my review.  But, putting that aside, this is a really great comic.

The book is completely upfront that it’s revisiting events that have already been depicted.  Hell, the first seven pages are recap.  However, this recap is from a completely different perspective and camera angle, and are in the form of flashbacks and other time manipulations perfectly shown with an all black transitioning frame bridging between the past and present.  The recap definitely helps for new readers, and allow this book to be open to anyone interested (although a previous knowledge of the storyline provides many easter eggs).

I went ahead and read this issue, and then went back and read all of Return to New York with this issue fitting in.  I kid you not, but all of the positioning and fighting moves (although some of them are now original or not shown before) are spot on to how they were in the originals!  Plus, this story fills in many gaps.

Hell, with Return to New York being so frantically action-heavy and wonderful, it’s nice to have something that provides more perspective on the comic.

The work Lawson and Talbot put into the artwork and the half-tone/duo-shade is sweepingly magnificent.  Lawson creates one of the most bizarre, imaginative, and beautiful fight sequences I have ever seen involving a single chain and a single, dangling turtle.  Once again, Lawson’s art is extremely detailed while having enough self-awareness on when to focus in on key things.  There are many silent panels, and these always stand out to me as stark, menacing, and add such a creative pacing to the comic.

The writing wins.  The art wins.

The turtles crew ended their (hopefully not but possibly) very last comic on a bang.  I’m so glad I’ve been here to read it.  I’m so glad I got the opportunity to interview Dan and Jim.  I’m so glad to even read some of the best independent work out there.  To me, the Ninja Turtles have never been a gimmick, and I hope that, at some point, other comic readers can recognize the heavily saturated creativity that bubbles out of the Ninja Turtles and their comics.

Tales of the TMNT #70, you really did it for me.  I’m welling up a little now that it’s over.  But, I know I can always revisit my old friends.  Thanks Mirage.

The Best Comics of 2009

22 Dec

1. Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli

It seems like the obvious choice because almost every Top 10 list has this in at least the Top 3 with most of them having it as the number one.  The reason: this piece of work is just that good.

Mazuchelli furthers the graphic medium in strange and ingenious ways to depict time, characters, moments, emotions all in separate visual ways.  The art and the writing combine to make the piece extraordinary.

The story follows Asterios Polyp, a tenured professor of architecture, who, due to circumstances, removes himself of all of his possessions and travels to the Midwest to rediscover himself.  Through the novel, we’re treated to glimpses back to what has made Asterios who he is and what he feels is wrong with his life.  Memorable characters are abundant throughout, and I only wish I could have as many philosophical conversations in one lifetime as Asterios does.

Frankly, this is the perfect exercise of what comics are, what comics can become, and what makes comics – and frankly storytelling – so goddamn enjoyable.

2. The Life and Times of Savior 28 by J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Cavallaro

What is the use of a superhero once they start advocating for peace through nonviolent means?  No beat ‘em up, no entertainment, no thrills, no deaths, no nothing… just a message.

DeMatteis explores this question among many others in his pinnacle achievement of Savior 28.  This comic came out so strong because it explored national identity, personal identity, and the human condition of morals, beliefs, and love.  What started out as a rejected Captain America pitch from 20 years ago turned into one of the best superhero comics of, honestly, the decade.

The art isn’t anything special, but I’m a fan of that for this story because readers need something simple to latch onto while they face some very complex thoughts.

It challenges the status quo, and shows that superheroes can be people who fuck up, too.

3. Donatello: The Brain Thief by Jim Lawson

There was no better comic to come out of Mirage this year than Jim Lawson’s miniseries on Donatello.  First and foremost, I have to admit that Donatello is far from my favorite turtle.  Nevertheless, Lawson captured something special in the character that made him fresh and exciting.

Jim Lawson’s illustrations are often stark and barren, but somehow still filled with incredible amounts of minute detail.

And frankly, the last issue where he inks his own work (Eric Talbot inked the first three) you can see a master at his best.

The story resonates as a mystery comic with mixes of science fiction and fantasy, but it is still incredibly accessible to new readers.  Sure, it’s a ninja turtle comic, but whoever said that was a bad thing?

4. Batwoman in Detective Comics by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III

Powerful female lead(s), the strongest portrayal of a homosexual character in any comic I have ever read, and by far the most beautiful artwork in mainstream comics.  I have been a fan of this from the get-go, and have probably shoved it down everyone’s throats with all of my reviews.  Nevertheless, people even interested in comics need to read this one!

Williams III switches between styles to display different parts of Kate Kane’s character, but it is still distinctly his work.  Plus, all of the styles he uses are on the level and often exceed the work of contemporary, modern artists in any field.

Not only does it achieve great things for women and homosexuals with incredible artwork, but this comic contains a hell of a story!

5. Blackest Night by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis

Probably the greatest crossover book of the decade, and it’s not even finished yet.

Sure, the premise is kind of stupid: let’s bring back all of the dead characters in the entire universe whether they were good or bad before, and turn them into the equivalent of flesh (and emotion) eating zombies.  There are dozens of zombie books on the market, why would anyone want to read one from a mainstream publisher?

Well, somehow the simple concept becomes something much more complex, and Geoff Johns writing far exceeds most of his peers.  He can take this mildly goofy premise and turn it into something that actually feels like it matters.

Plus, he throws in hell of some surprises along the way.

Zombie Aquaman sharks, attack!

6. Nine Ways to Disappear by Lilli Carré

I love Lilli Carré.  She is probably one of my favorites of all time.  I follow her work with a devotion unlike any other, and her latest work is no exception to the high quality of work she has already produced.

The little book feels like a treasure when you hold it, and you read along and absorb these nine wonderful stories.  Most of them may not be as quirky as Woodsman Pete, but I love them nevertheless.

Her illustrations are sometimes zany, other times brilliantly simple, other times filled with pattern-like complexity.  After reading this book, I felt like I had learned something about myself and the world… So, I read it again.

7. Chew by Jon Layman and Rob Guillory

If you went back and reread all of my reviews that I did of Chew, you probably would not expect it to be found anywhere near this list.  In fact, you may have imagined it on the worst of list.

Really, I wouldn’t have been too surprised either about a month ago.  Then, I reread all of them, and I realized that I was wrong.  There is a brilliance in this series that far surpasses most comic books on the market with its crazy and original content.

Hell, the created dictionary-like terms for most of their characters that will forever easily be said in lore as if they didn’t come from a comic.  “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if you could be a cybopath!”

Tony Chu works for the FDA.  He eats things.  He solves crimes.

8. The Walking Dead: Fear the Hunters by Robert Kirman and Charlie Adlard

Robert Kirkman sure is consistent with his output.  This was a great story really digging in to tell how far humanity can get away from being human when under forced circumstances.

Plus, the standoff is probably one of the most badass moments in the entire series.  I gasped aloud and reread that issue.

If you’ve never read this series and are either a) interested in comics b) interested in zombies c) interested in human morality systems amongst many other things, then you should read this.  No doubt.

9. Invincible Iron Man by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca and Frank D’Armata

The best series out of Marvel, by far.  Watching Tony Stark erode and work backwards through his past to become a cripple was strangely one of the most entertaining things I looked forward to every month.  I came onto this series midway through, and it didn’t scare me at all.  It made sense with its small cast of characters.

I can’t really say much else about this one because it seems so inherently obvious that it deserved a place on this list, and that others should check it out.

10. Tales of the TMNT #56, 59, and 61 by Tristan Jones and Paul Harmon, Tristan Jones and Paul Harmon, and Tristan Jones and Andres Ponce, respectively.

Tristan Jones, you brought the grit back to the Mirage Universe for the handful of issues that you got to work on before the end of the series.  You made the turtles kick ass again.  You made new characters in the Turtles-verse which, in a single issue, suddenly reminded me that the Turtles can lose.

I loved each and every one of these comics, and I know it seems unfair to pick and choose from the run, but these were some of the best of the entire volume two of Tales of the TMNT.

Paul Harmon and Andres Ponce, you guys made B x W comics look way better than most colored comics in my entire collection.

Notables: Batman and Robin (issues #1-3, at least… 4-6 were really bad), Batgirl, Secret Six, Incredible Hercules, and Barack the Barbarian (I love this mini more than I probably should).

Things ranked high on other lists that I still haven’t read and may have placed on the above list: Stitches by David Small, Scalped by Jason Aaron and R.M. Guéra, Driven by Lemons by Josh Cotter, Parker: The Hunter by Darwyn Cooke, and The Photographer by Emmanuel Guibert and Didier Lefevre.

The Worst of 09:

I thought about doing a separate blog post about these, but really… it would just be a lot of me bitching, and I’m tired of working on best list for the last three hours.

  1. Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth
  2. Dark Wolverine #78 to current
  3. Batman: Battle for the Cowl
  4. Buck Rogers (everything except #0)
  5. and everything else I tried to avoid.

My Jim Lawson Commission

24 Nov

I got in the mail yesterday my commission from Jim Lawson.  I asked him after the interview for this stellar drawing.  It only cost $60, and the money was more than worth it for this beautiful piece that is now my favorite in my collection.  To be just a super creep, I attached the stickers that Lawson wrote my address and his address on to the print on the back for when it’s framed.

I forgot to turn my camera’s resolution up, so some of these pictures are (crisply) blurry.

Some Show and Tell!

Doesn’t that look fantastic!  I was so happy when I took this out of the cardboard that I just stared at it for a good ten minutes despite having guests over that I hadn’t seen for a year!

Close up on Leo.


Lawson did such a kickass job on this commission that I’m really considering another one.  Maybe I’ll convince my sister to buy me one since she owes me a couple presents for various things.

Oh, I also got a print by Albert Rothstein off of eBay in the mail yesterday.  I ordered a bunch of artwork off of eBay in addition to this that I’ll soon be getting in the mail, and I ordered a Michael Dooney Leonardo Sketch!