Archive for Brandon Graham

Visiting the island: Island #6

Posted in Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , on 12/02/2016 by Kevin Entrekin

(listen: “Comfort Eagle” by Cake)

“… anybody with a terminally jangled lifestyle needs at least one psychic anchor every twenty-four hours…” St. Hunter S. Thompson said that. For him it was the solitude of a gluttonous breakfast chased by Bloody Marys and six fat lines of cocaine.

I think about him a lot lately, especially with America in the midst of election season. Wonder what he would think of this kingdom of fear known as the civilized world. Wonder what he would think of corrosive politics being intravenously injected into ever damn facet of normal life. What would he say about an open modern Nazi bastard and an open socialist running for president? A plethora, I imagine. But we’ve deviated off course a bit.

I wouldn’t categorize myself as terminally jangled, I guess. Moderately jangled sounds about right. But, my “psychic anchor” is slightly less extravagant than Hunter. I like to end my day bunked in bed during the early hours reading a few comics from a stack that never seems to diminish, only grow (hence, the name change from The Morning Thunder Buffalo). This time spent slipping between panels is comforting, like a film. Inspires creation, while allowing the chaos of the brain hemispheres to take a cease fire.

This comic is just one of the things I’ve been reading. In the future, I’m planning on talking more about a wide variety of things I’m reading, watching, and listening to. Fresh stuff off the shelf. Dusty gems from the fifty-cent bin. Newly released movies. Forgotten fried gold films.

This will probably also be a slow process and have growing pains. But, I’m excited to see where this goes. Its hard letting go of the buffalo. He helped me through some rough patches in life. But I had to let him go, which has been a personal lesson for over a year now. Letting things go for growth. Letting go of someone I loved. Letting go of the comforts of a dead-end job. Letting go of apathy.

(listen: “Separations” by Diarrhea Planet)

island_06-1.jpg

 

Island #6

Published by Image Comics. $7.99 print/digital. Stories & art by F Choo (intro art), Onta (Badge of Pride), Gael Bertrand (A land Called Tarot), Katie Skelly, Sarah Horrocks (Essay on Kyoko Okazaki). Curated by Brandon Graham and Emma Ríos.

Comic mags are making a quite comeback. In a few months Grant Morrison is taking over as editor of Heavy Metal, sparking new interest in the beloved schlock rag. And around the same time of that announcement back in summer, Brandon Graham and Image Comics published the first issue of Island.

For context, Graham is one of my favorite artist. When I was first starting to get back into comics, my friend Cody introduced me to his work in Multiple Warheads and it was an instant attraction. The fluid movement of his art and his pun-laddened writing is a lucid-dream experience. It’s like being wrapped in a warm blanket as you’re lightly led through a bizarre, unsafe, fun Soviet carnival.

Island features very little of Graham’s work or writing, outside of his new installments of Multiple Warheads. But, his presence is looming over the project. He gathers artist and writers who are similar to him, outsiders of the norm in terms of the two big publishers. People like Amy Clare are fresh on the scene, with her first work being published in the third issue. People like Farel Dalrymple are legends in comix, and he has contributed two new editions of Pop Gun War in previous mags.

This issue will be the most polarizing for readers, I think, as far as content. Half of the issue is dedicated to furries. Even the cover features the characters from the story, Badge of Pride by Onta. For those outside the know, Furries are a fandom subculture dedicated to fictional tales of anthropomorphic animals with human characteristics, varying in degrees of eroticism usually.

Badge of Pride is about a gay couple, one open and the other closeted, going to a pride parade. Not to be blunt, but that the general gist.

Now, I have a core theology about literature and film: a) All stories must be approached with an open mind, rarely without regard to subject matter. Adam Sandler, for example though, is met with prejudice (among similar toxic things).  b) The story has to be good. With that practice in mind…

I enjoyed Badge of Pride. It accomplished the latter while I kept in mind the former. Though it doesn’t feel like a complete story, so much as something to peak your interest. Further reading is available on Onta’s webpage (nsfw, by the way). There are also themes of acceptance and being proud of who you are in the story.

I think the point of this installment was a better understanding of the furry culture. Which it has done to the extent it needed. Will I, or the public as a whole, fully understand the appeal? Probably not. But things like this help bridge the gap to understanding and common ground. And maybe someone who is shy about furryism will get a great sense of inclusion from this.

The other half of this issue is the second installment of A land called Tarot by Gael Bertrand, a wordless fantasy adventure that I absolutely loved from the first story in issue four. And this second installment is just as great. The art is simply gorgeous, the colors rich and saturated. The characters have an instant charisma and attraction to them.

tarot

The wordless narrative is effective. It leaves a lot of imagination for the reader, which ultimately is the point of a fantasy story. Though, it is a little more loose here and may require a second read, but its such a fun ride to go on.

There’s also an essay by Sarah Horrocks on the use of death and corpses in Kyoko Okazaki’s mangas, which is an engaging read for those familiar with Okazaki’s work. And a few works of fashion art from katie Skelly, which are nice and really left me wanting more.

This issue is a bit smaller in size. It’s the second that has saddle-stitch staple binding (unlike previous issues that were perfect bound), and is approximately thirty-pages shorter than previous issues. Is this an omen of some sort? Hopefully not. But it is worrying that the next issue comes out in May.

Spending $8 on a comic magazine may seem like an extravagance, but you genuinely get your rubles worth from Island. More so than shelling out $4 for a marvel book that’s half-filled with adverts for Agents of Shield.

*Bought at Comics & Collectibles, the best shop in Memphis.

What Comics I’ve Been Reading- April, Part One

Posted in Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 18/04/2014 by Kevin Entrekin

BlhyA5zIQAEJUj9.jpg largeI don’t get down to the comic shop as much as I’d like. Mainly because the closest one is in Memphis. Which, in terms of math, is distance plus funds plus mags costing on average about $3 to $5 equals rare visits. I mainly keep up with the goings on in trade paperbacks and similar. But when I do decide to take the advice of Tom and Donna to treat myself, I’ve always gone to Comics & Collectibles on Popular Ave. I’ve never really had a reason to go anywhere else. It has a nice atmosphere, great staff, and all the comics and trades you could want.

Recently my friend Cody and I visited C&C and this is some of new(ish) stuff I picked up:

comroyals-The Royals: Masters of War #1 and #2. Six part series. Vertigo comics. Written by Rob Williams. Art by Simon Coleby. Suggested for Mature Readers. $2.99.

It is the Royal family as you have never seen them before. Throughout history, the royal families of the world have consisted of individuals with super powers. The more pure the bloodline, the stronger the powers. Which might explain that whole inbreeding bit. But during WW2 the royals agree to not use their powers… until British Prince Henry can no longer take sitting by and intervenes. While the morale of Britain is at its highest, the young Prince has broken the treaty and all the countries of the world take notice.

This story is quite an ingenious idea, one that I am surprised no one has thought of before. Ever since Tarantino’s Inglourious Bastards, the idea of alternative history has never been quite the same. This work by Rob Williams is probably the first truly fun story to come out since the above mentioned film in any medium. Simon Coleby’s artwork is beautifully dark and has a sepia-tinge noir feel, which adds a necessary depth here. Having read the first two parts, I’m now really intrigued to see where William will take this story. Part three is now available in local comic shops as well, and this series is well worth looking into.

comempowEmpowered: Internal Medicine. Special one shot issue. Dark Horse Comics. Story by Adam Warren. Art by Brandon Graham (color) and Adam Warren (B&W). No rating- personally suggest older audience. $3.99.

Before this mag, I have never read any of the Empowered comics. I picked this up because of Brandon Graham. I have just recently become infatuated with Mr. Graham’s Gonzo graffiti-style of art and storytelling. He is one of my favorite artist working right now.

The great thing about this one-shot is you don’t really need to know anything about Empowered to enjoy the story. You get a pretty good idea about the character’s modus operandi and even get a crib sheet recap on the first page.

The mass of the story is by Graham, whose colors and art and puns are beautifully presented here. Graham is a brilliant pick for this female lead, as I believe few (male) artist represent strong women quite like him. He can pencil a voluptuous women in real-world dimensions and can make things sexy without making it demeaning to the character, which for some reason seems to be a difficulty for many. Mr. Warren’s manga-esque work here is in beautiful black and white. Together, these two make a fun and entertaining one-shot worthy of the $3.99 price tag.

I think what I come away with after reading this comic most of all is:

  1. I’m very interested in going back and looking at the Empowered trades now.
  2. I’d like to see Graham and Warren work together again.

comdoop– All-New Doop #1. Series. Marvel Comics. Written by Peter Milligan. Art by David Lafuente. Rated T+ (Personally, younger audience would be fine). $3.99.

I picked up this comic because of the Mike Allred (another favorite artist) cover. So I was a bit disappointed when I learned he actually only did the cover for this character he created years ago. The bright side though is that Allred’s wife Laura does the coloring here, which are some of the best you’ll find in a comic. Ultimately though, this first issue falls a bit flat. While it’s a standard first issue in many ways, the direction of where this story is going seems a bit aimless. It has its moments of zany fun and enjoyment, but I think it’s missing that one certain thing that really makes it interesting.

I plan on picking up the second issue when it comes out, but the little green X-Man really has to impress for me to keep picking up any further.

saga3-Saga, Volume 3. TPB collection of series #13-18. Image Comics. Written by Brian K. Vaughan. Art by Fiona Staples. Rated M/Mature. $14.99.

Image Comics is my favorite comic publisher at the moment. They have amazing creator-owned mini-series like Brian Woods Mara and Grant Morrison’s Happy!. They also have ongoing series like Sex Criminals and Great Pacific. Or have you ever heard of The Walking Dead? Yeah, they do that too.

But I think the best representation of what Image has to offer is the vaughn/Staples work Saga. For those unfamiliar with the series, it’s rather simple. Marko is from Wreath. Alana is from Landfall. These two places have been at war with each other forever, but that doesn’t stop Marko and Alana from falling in love with each other. Eventually the two have a child, and both governments of each planet have no interest of letting the birth known to their citizens. The couple have to fight their way planet to planet against the like of bounty hunters and military officers. And worse of all, Marko’s parents.

Of all the now three collected story arcs in the series, I would say this is the weakest. Not to say that it isn’t great. The writing is still top-notch, adult, and witty. Vaughn’s art is still sharp and beautiful. And there is plenty of action and surprises to keep you entertained. But still this just doesn’t have the same bite or vigor. Only slightly though. Still worth picking up.

Part two should be on the way soon…