Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fly #2 Review, The Cape #1 Review

Comic Book Wednesday

Issue #11

More blogs to come soon. Sorry for the delay on the promised continuing story of The Unfortunate Liquidation of Borders, but that's the thing about working in liquidating store... it kind of kills inspiration. All of my writing time has gone to my scripts for 1000 Ways to Die and the various short story and comic book submissions that I'm prepping. For now, though... let's get to some comic books.

Fly #2
Written by Raven Gregory
Pencils by Eric J
Zenescope Entertainment

This is why Fly works better than the tired old drug allegories you'll find in lesser comics, television shows, and movies. Fucking everyone wants to fly. If you ask anyone you know what superpower they would want, at least half of them would say that they would like to fly. It's something that everyone fantasizes about. The mere concept of this book is brilliant, because it universalizes something--drugs--that, in many cases, isn't universal. But again... who doesn't want to fly?

And in context with the story that this comic is telling... that's a bit scary.

After reading the second issue, Fly continues to show that Zenescope is breaking new ground by churning out creator owned material that easily lives up to the standard that Image, IDW, and Vertigo have set. Raven Gregory's drug epic is only in its second chapter, but it's already become a must-read title for me. Fly is engaging, clever, bizarre, and confidently told.

This time, the issue is almost all flashback. We only get one shot of Present Day Danielle, after her little... let's say beating-the-shit-out-of-Eddie incident in #1. There is also an interlude feature a mysterious (and murderous) white haired man that seems to take place in the present. The rest of the issue shows Eddie's first experience with flying and, more disturbingly, his reaction to finding out that Danielle's father is more than just verbally abusive. It's an intense read, especially when juxtaposed to the art that mades all of the characters seem wide-eyed and innocent. It makes for an engaging dichotomy, but I do have to warn readers that there is a scene that heavily, heavily implies an incestuous rape.

As a side note, I'm really glad that I got the C Cover, which features our resident ginger fly-drug supplier hovering in the air, brandishing a needle. I think the sexier covers might have made the implied rape scene a bit skeevy; however, out of context of any of the covers, the scene came off as horrifying as it was meant to.

One last side note, there are some cool easter eggs in this issues. Here's a hint for those looking to find them... Folks in the world of Fly seem to be pretty big on comics written by a certain mainstay at Zenescope.

Again, Fly is a solid read that promises to weave an intense, disturbing, and absorbing tale.

The Cape #1
Written by Jason Ciaramella
Based on the story by Joe Hill
Pencils by Zach Howard
IDW Publishing

It's rare than an IDW book doesn't satisfy, and it's unprecedented for a Joe Hill book not to kick major ass. If the continued collaboration of these two storytelling giants doesn't at least pique your interest, you should learn how to read good comics.

This is very much a follow-up to the one-shot The Cape story that I reviewed here, but folks who didn't read that shoudn't be confused by this story. Without spending any time on exposition, the story kicks off at full speed, revealing the backstory through images and the actions of characters. But don't kid yourself--if you're going to follow this series (and why wouldn't you?), it's worth picking up the one-shot for the experience of reading that incredibly disturbing book alone.

The larger story of The Cape that begins in this issue is as dark and creepy as the one-shot, but it's a whole lot batshit crazier. Our sociopath of a protagonist takes care of his police problem in one of the most creative and insane ways that I could've imagined. Shit, who am I kidding? I couldn't have imagined that. That scene alone is evidence of the sadistic genius that the Ciaramella/Hill/Howard team have in store for us in this series.

If the strength of the creative team behind the book isn't enough, here's my final word on The Cape #1... if you don't buy it, you deserve to have a very, very angry bear dropped into your car.


SOON: The continuing tale of The Unfortunate Liquidation of Borders.

NEXT WEEK: Reviews for FLASHPOINT #4 and SUPERMAN #714.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Unfortunate Liquidation of Borders

The end is near.

Starting Friday, Borders bookstores will begin liquidation. I've been working at Borders in Farmingdale, NY since December, and I'm sad to see it go for a number of reasons. While I'm happy to still have a job teaching at Five Towns College and while I'm grateful for all of the opportunities I've been given as a freelance writer, I'm going to be out of a steady job that isn't seasonal. That, as a customer put yesterday, sucks.

You know what sucks more? My favorite store is going to be closing. Before I worked at Borders, before I knew how sick the deals could get if you used your coupons correctly, before I even hit puberty, Borders was this mythical land of awesome that made me happy like no other store could. I grew up around the time that independent bookstores were beginning to close, so the shops that I frequented to buy Goosebumps books at the age of eight (Oak Tree Books, Encore books, etc.) were gone by the time I was nine. Barnes and Noble was nice, B. Dalton was okay, and Walden (mini-Borders) was serviceable. They had decent selections, but I often found myself walking in, browsing for a few minutes, and walking out with my purchase.

Then, my dad took me to Borders in Westbury. I got lost. While I'm sure that the big Barnes and Noble had as large a selection as this Borders did, I found myself amazed by the amount of books that I'd just never seen. I had considered myself an expert on the Independent Reader horror genre when I was ten, but hell... my mind was blown by that first trip to Borders. As I grew up, I found myself becoming more aware of the deals that Borders was offering. The coupons were so great when combined with the card that I felt weird about shopping elsewhere, as if I were somehow throwing money away (I guess that such deals could have played a part in the collapse of the company... whoops?). Even as a grown man, I was able to get lost in the fiction sections (and the expansive graphic novel sections) of local Borders, finding stuff that I couldn't help but buy. Now I don't mean this as a way of saying "Borders rules, all other companies suck!" because... well, I don't think that at all. Barnes and Noble has a very different atmosphere and selection, and I dig shopping there quite a bit. And Book Revue in Huntington is just a damn good store. I know a bunch of people, my fiancee included, that prefer such stores to Borders very, very much.

But hell, I have always just loved this bookstore, and it's heartbreaking seeing Borders go. So now that I'm working there, I figure I'll try to have some fun with this.

Over the next couple of months, I'll be posting blogs about the experience of working at Borders during the closing sales. Trust me, if you've seen any of the other similar sites... it's going to be crazy.

Starting Saturday, the blog that will follow the closing process of Borders, both my place of employment and my favorite store, begins...


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My new project: 1000 Ways to Die for Zenescope

I've been waiting to announce this for a while, so I guess SDCC season is a good time for it. After working on Joss Whedon's ANGEL for IDW, I've got my next comic book writing gig. It's another television tie-in, and it's a big one.

1000 Ways to Die for Spike TV and Zenescope Comics.

I've been working with editor Ralph Tedesco, adapting scripts and cooking up sick ideas for the upcoming 1000 Ways to Die graphic novel. The show, for those that don't know, is pretty self-explanatory. People die in gruesome and endlessly inventive ways. I'm a big fan of the tongue-in-cheek style of the show, so I jumped at the chance to write this.

I've written five stories for what should be an awesome, bizarre, and dark graphic novel full of grizzly deaths and more puns than any book has ever had. That I promise. I'm not sure who else has worked on the book but, judging by the source material, I can't see it not being a sickingly gross and hilarious read. You can pre-order it at local bookstores, Amazon, and your comic shops now!

Supergirl #66 review

Comic Book Wednesday

Issue #10

Only one book this week, but it's a goodun. For those who missed out yesterday, read my interview with writer Kelly Sue DeConnick before checking out my review for this week's Supergirl issue.

Supergirl #66
Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art by ChrisCross
DC Comics

The mystery deepens.

Secrets are revealed.

Songs are sung.

And Supergirl kicks some robot rat ass. (To which Supergirl says "Robots... why did it have to be robots?" in a great callback to the best line of the first issue: "Do they have to be robots? It's been kind of a robot-y few weeks for me...")

Those that liked the first issue will find much to dig here. There's a bit more action, what with Supergirl moving at the speed of light to keep the students out of danger so they don't discover who she truly is. The Maid of Might herself doesn't have as much pagetime as she did in the last issue, which featured her in nearly every scene. This time we get two big scenes sans Supergirl, one with Lois Lane investigating the disappearances and another with the Big Bad of this arc, Professor Ivo, being all villainy. It felt a bit short due to the lack of the meaty Kara scenes that the last issue had, but it did a good job in setting things up for what looks like it will be an action-packed finale to both this arc and Supergirl as a series... before it gets rebooted, that is.

ChrisCross's art is a bit better, but still relies on exaggerated movements and bizarre facial expressions. There are a few great panels here, but as a whole the art continues to be very hit or miss. Thankfully, the story is intriguing enough to keep this book a very good read, and the character drama that was set up in this issue and the last manages to sing despite the sometimes distracting pencilling choices.

All in all, DeConnick has written another Supergirl issue that should please fans of the series, managing to keep the plot moving at a breakneck speed without missing the little moments, like Kara giving Shirley the credit for stopping the robot rats.

CLICK HERE for some news about what comic book property I'm going to be writing!

Check back tomorrow for a review of DC's THE NEW 52 preview.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


What’s Not Awesome About Supergirl?

Kelly Sue DeConnick interviewed by Patrick Shand

PATRICK SHAND: In Sterling Gate’s run, we saw Kara struggling with her role as a hero. James Peaty’s arc played with the idea of Kara finally having adjusted to being Supergirl. From the first issue of your arc, it seems that you’re dealing more with the “human” (heavy quoty fingers there) side of things. Where is Kara’s head at and how is it affecting her role as Supergirl and her day-to-day life?

KELLY SUE DECONNICK: I took more of an outside-in approach, honestly. I looked at a lot of what had been done with her recently and I like it a lot, but as the focus had been on the "super," I decided I wanted to look more at the girl.

The Gary Frank Supergirl cover with the skateboard is one of my favorite covers in all of comics. I started my musings there and ended up straying quite a bit from what that image suggests, but that was my starting point anyway.

PAT: Sorry for the block quote question. Here’s a quickie: What is awesome about Supergirl?

KELLY: Were you aware that she can fly...?

I'm kidding. I'm not sure how politic my honest answer is, but here we go--

Our language regularly abuses and dismisses the feminine. Are you weak? Where's your skirt, buddy? Don't be a p___y, etc. etc. And what's weaker than even that? Being a girl--you're not just feminine, you're a child! Don't throw like a girl. Don't run like a girl. Man up, cowboy. The girls in the office will take care of that for you.

Now. It will come as no surprise to you at all that I hate this. I hate this so much it makes me grind my teeth. I hate this so much that I was terrified of having a daughter because I didn't know how to teach her to withstand the everyday indignities and injustices that make me want to put my fist through a wall.

And it is powerfully engrained in our collective psyches. Despite the fact that women consistently outperform men in studies of tolerance of pain, heat, cold, loneliness and monotony--somehow "girl" is shorthand for everything weak. I guess... it all comes down to what you bench? I don't know. I don't get it, but I hate it.

So what's Supergirl? The equal of the most powerful man in the universe.

...What's not awesome about that?

Supergirl being awesome on the cover of this week's SUPERGIRL #66

PAT: Speaking of the most powerful man in the universe, what do you think Supergirl would do if Superman ever pulled an Irredeemable?

KELLY: I don't know, but I'd like to think it would be Ripley epic.

PAT: The solicit for the new Supergirl #1 says that Kara Zor-El shares none of the affection that Superman has for the people of Earth. Do you think this applies to pre-reboot Kara?

KELLY: The seed's definitely there. I mean, she wasn't raised on Earth the way he was. She's an immigrant and an orphan. That's a very different perspective than that of Clark, who really is Clark more than he's Kal-El.

PAT: Give me a bit of insight into your thought-process while breaking the story for your Supergirl arc. Why college?

KELLY: To focus on the girl, I wanted her in an environment where she was surrounded by her age-group.

PAT: Did you ever take part in any wonky college clubs, like the kind folks in the Silk Pajama Society?

KELLY: I was Captain of my high school's debate team, a college drama major and a member of the Dorothy Parker Society. Yet I've never played D&D!

PAT: Any chance we’ll see you take on writing duties for Supergirl again?

KELLY: Who knows? No plans in the immediate future, though.

SUPERGIRL #67 - The finale of both Kelly's arc and this volume of the series

PAT: List time: What titles are you dying to write, and who are your dream artists?

KELLY: I will not answer the first question because it puts me in a no-win situation. If I name a book someone else is writing I either look like I'm gunning for their job or that I don't think they're doing it well. Plus you know... there's a thing I learned as a struggling actor. DO NOT NEED THE GIG. If you come in for your audition reeking of desperation, you are going to be the least appealing person in the room. Give it everything you've got, swing for the bleachers, but do not look like you need it; you'll never get it. So I'll keep those cards close to my vest, for the moment.

As far as artists go, that's a very long list and some of the people on it intimidate the hell out of me. Partial list would include: Jane Almirall, Rachel Stuart-Haas, Steph Buscema, Ming Doyle, Christine Norrie, Joelle Jones, George Perez, Mike Oeming, Mike Hawthorne, Tony Moore, Chris Samnee, Walt Simonson, Olivier Coipel, Rafael Grampa, Junko Mizuno... god, I could go on for days.

Right this minute I just want to move heaven and earth to work with Emma Rios again.

This is exactly what it looks like.

PAT: What’s next for you in the comic industry?

KELLY: I've got Castle: Deadly Storm with Brian Bendis out in September, a short story in a Spider-Island one-shot and a bunch of stuff that hasn't been announced yet! Keep your eyes peeled.

Big thanks to KELLY SUE DECONNICK for taking the time out to do this interview. SUPERGIRL #66 hits comic shops tomorrow. Check back for a big, in-dept review of the issue.

Friday, July 15, 2011

CBW #9 - Part Two - Dollhouse: Epitaphs #1, The Canterbury Cricket, & Superman #713 Review

Comic Book Wednesday

Issue #9

Part Two

I'm back from Indiana, so I made it down to my local comic shop to pick up my books. This week, we've got Dollhouse: Epitaphs #1, which is the first Whedonverse comic I've reviewed in a loooooong time, Superman #713, and something that I kept putting off buying that I decided to just grab... The Canterbury Cricket.

For Part One, which features my review of Screamland #2, click here.

Dollhouse: Epitaphs #1
Story by Andrew Chambliss, Jed Whedon, and Maurissa Tancharoen
Written by Andrew Chambliss
Pencils by Cliff Richards
Dark Horse Comics

I spent a good part of the last four years doing what I'm about to do here. My Buffyverse Comic Reviews blog, which helped me in more ways than I can mention (not least of which was putting me in touch with the great folks at IDW, which eventually led to my story in Angel: Yearbook), was where I posted reviews for Whedonesque comics. I mainly covered IDW's ANGEL and Dark Horse's BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: SEASON EIGHT books, but I tried to follow pretty much everything that Whedon and co. have done. Today, it looks like I'm picking up old habits. Here's my review for Dark Horse's first issue of their DOLLHOUSE: EPITAPHS miniseries.

There are a bunch of reasons why this issue shouldn't be good. Joss Whedon himself once said that he didn't want to do any DOLLHOUSE comics, as he felt the premise was more suited for television. The one-shot that takes place before this issue was, delicately put, not very good. The art in this comic from longtime BUFFY artist Cliff Richards is the worst its been, leaving Alpha (who was a horrific presence when played by Alan Tudyk on DOLLHOUSE, leaving me with chills that no villain had since Ledger's Joker in THE DARK KNIGHT) almost unrecognizable.

But the art is the only bad thing about this issue. It's way, way better than the one-shot prequel and it shows that Whedon was right to wait to bring DOLLHOUSE to comics; while the premise of the show isn't very comic booky, the world set-up in the flash-foward episodes (the finales of both seasons) is perfectly suited to the medium. The comic doesn't talk down to readers with pages of reintroductions and world building, but instead throws them into the post-apocalyptic world that the formerly murderous Alpha is trying to fight with various people imprinted with the Ivy persona (the best moment of the issue is when one Ivy catches two other Ivys about to have sex; "We have the same brain so you know exactly how ooged out I am right now."), and a little boy named Trevor whom Alpha and the Ivys have turned into a Techhead (the same sort of warrior Victor had become in the series finale).

I enjoyed the issue while I read it, but something was nagging at me the whole time. Isn't this supposed to explain why Alpha turned into a hero? was what I was wondering. I mean, it's a pretty big leap from being the Big Bad to the guy who everyone hugs when they see him. This issue takes place after Alpha has already been goodified, which I thought was lame until Page 20. When Trevor tells Alpha that he's unable to shoot at the Butchers (people imprinted with the desire to kill and destroy everything in sight) because they were once real people, Alpha tries to sympathize with him, but Trevor storms off and tells Alpha "Aren't there things you wish you could take out of your head?" As Trevor walks away, Alpha whispers "Lots of things" to himself, and that's just what I needed: confirmation that this series is going to deal with Alpha's redemption. I actually like that it isn't revealed in the first issue, giving the readers something to look forward to.

All in all, this was way, way better than I expected. If this issue is any indication, the Joss Whedon/Andrew Chambliss team might be able to redeem the BUFFY comics as well, come September.

The Canterbury Cricket- The Scoundrel's Tale
(Flashpoint tie-in. One-shot.)
Written by Mike Carlin
Art by Rags Morales
DC Comics

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,

The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,

And bathed every veyne in swich licóur

Of which vertú engendred is the flour;

Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth

Inspired hath in every holt and heeth

The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne

Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne,

And smale foweles maken melodye,

That slepen al the nyght with open ye,

So priketh hem Natúre in hir corages,

Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,

And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,

To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;

And specially, from every shires ende

Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,

The hooly blisful martir for to seke,

That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

That might be my favorite passage in all of literature. The language is beautiful, the plot is laced with history, and it kicks off one of the greatest stories of all time... The Canterbury Tales. So when I saw this 0ne-shot, I knew I had to pick it up.

It's full of references to Chaucer, from the structure of the story (tale within a tale) to the quote from the man himself at the end, and that was enough to keep me entertaining. If you're looking for more than an introduction to the strange creature in FLASHPOINT #3 and a prequel to FLASHPOINT: LOIS LANE AND THE RESISTANCE, you will be disappointed, but if you're looking for something fun, different (read as: super weird), and quick (only 19 pages of story), THE CANTERBURY CRICKET is worth a shot, even with its jarringly abrupt end.

Superman #713
Plotted by J. Michale Stracynzski and Chris Roberson*
Written by Chris Roberson
Art by Diogenes Neves, Oclair Albert, Eddy Barrows, JP Mayer, Jamal Igle, and Jon Sibal (What.)
DC Comics

It feels like I've been waiting for ages, but I guess it's just been two months. Also, I read #707-#711 in one sitting, so that might be a reason. But anyway, the wait is over and Chris Roberson's epic tale of redemption for Superman (definitely as a series, and maybe a bit as a character too) continues in the penultimate issue of this long-running series.

Penultimate. God, I love that word.

The issue deals with Superman deciding to... well, not be Superman anymore. He tells Supergirl and Superboy that he's going to put away the costume and start to help people in secret, as he did before he put an S on his chest. He, as Clark Kent, begins writing an article for the Daily Planet titled "Must There Be a Superman?" when, in a supremely meta moment, Superman's biggest fan stops Clark and tries to show him why the idea of Superman being unnecessary is idiotic.

While the idea is solid, I'm not sure that I grasp Superman's logic. I get that that's kind of the point, that what he's gone through is interfering with his perception of his role as Superman, but I wish we got to see what made him decide that it isn't necessary to be Superman, especially after he saw the legacy that Superman leaves behind in #707 (the Superman Squad). As I wrote in my review of #707-711, "The Squad showed Superman that his actions on Earth influenced countless individuals of many difference species to wear the S and rise to the challenge—to fight for truth, justice, and the American way." What made Superman decide that that wasn't necessary? I'm concerned that it may have been addressed in Roberson's canceled #712.

The actual issue is good, but not as solid as Roberson's previous issues. While it's wonderful seeing people reaffirming the awesome factor of Superman, the book gets a bit repetitive, and by the end begins to feel like one of those commercials where someone explains the details of a product three times to ensure that the audience won't forget the details. While solid in concept, I wish the execution were as fun as the rest of the second half of GROUNDED has been.

The issue ends on a high note, though, with Superman flying off to face the villain that has been stalking him for the last few issues. It seems that the grand finale of this incredibly long running series will feature Superman doing what he does best... saving his lady.

* I'm a bit confused about the writing credits. When Roberson first took over, it was clear that he was creating his own story from JMS's plots, as he and JMS were both credited for plotting and Roberson was credited as writer. I assume that is still the case, but crediting the two of them as simply "writers" for the issues makes it a bit confusing.

That's it for this week! Next week, however, is going to be packed with comic book goodies. We start on Monday with a special entry that spotlights two webcomics by buddies of mine that I think you'll dig. On Tuesday, we've got that big interview with SUPERGIRL writer Kelly Sue DeConnick that I've been teasing for about a month, and then the following day the weekly COMIC BOOK WEDNESDAY post puts the spotlight on Supergirl #66. The penultimate (heh) issue.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Comic Book Wednesday #9 - Part One - Screamland #2 Review

Comic Book Wednesday

Issue #9

Part One

Screamland #2
Written by Harold Sipe & Christopher Sebella
Art by Lee Leslie
Back-up art by Dennis Culver
Published by Image Comics

I somehow missed this when it came out last week. I was in this comic shop/record store hybrid thing yesterday when I came across this issue and rejoiced that I had something to review for today. With the story rolling, this issue was a bit better than the last one. With all of the characters introduced, we follow Travis the B-movie actor and Gary the werewolf as they split up to investigate two different leads in the murder of the Invisible Man. The story is intriguing and the premise is fantastic, and I'm starting to think that the only reason this book isn't all out amazing is because of the two leads. Travis has some funny stuff and Gary is visually great, but compared to the other characters they're on the boring side. All of the best scenes heavily feature supporting characters such as the Mass and the Midnight Slasher. As with the last issue, the most entertaining bit is the back-up story, that shows the Midnight Slasher attending a support group for murderers... at a church.

Screamland continues to be a good read, but it's time for the two leads to do something that makes them as funny and (oddly) likable as the rest of the cast.


By the way... as pretentious as it is, the first thing I did when I walked into this little comic shop in Indiana was to check if they had my comic.


PART TWO will be posted on Friday. It will cover Dollhouse: Epitaphs #1 and Superman #713 (the penultimate issue!).

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Comic Book Wednesday from Indiana

So, I'm in Indiana.

Comic Book Wednesday will post as scheduled tomorrow. I'm not in the state or by my shop, so I can't review anything new, but I managed to a) get internet access where I am and b) run down to a bookstore and picked up a copy of SCREAMLAND #2, which I didn't know had been released. Reviews will be posted for the regular titles on Friday.

Photo courtesy of Erica Krilov.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Comic Book Wednesday #8 - Part Two - Flashpoint #3 Review

Comic Book Wednesday

Issue #8

Part Two

Flashpoint #3
Written by Geoff Johns
Pencils by Andy Kubert
Published by DC Comics

So. Barry Allen is re-Flashified, Thomas Wayne has some tragic motivation, and Superman needs to eat a cheeseburger.

The first two issues of Flashpoint was compelling, as we the readers walked alongside of Barry Allen as he learned the truth about the reality that he'd been pushed into. It's a world where Wonder Woman and Aquaman are ruthless tyrants waging a war with each other that is literally tearing apart the Earth, where Thomas Wayne is Batman, and where Superman doesn't seem to exist... until this issue, that is.

Flashpoint #3, much like the first two installments, continues to set up story elements. Barry finally gets his powers back, Superman is located, and the Justice League is on its way toward being a somewhat functional unit. This is very much a middle issue, in that it spends most of the page time setting up for the eventual climax and slowly introducing the audience and Barry to the Flashpoint version of our beloved characters. It's not as strong as #1 or #2, but it's still intensely interesting and fast-paced. Some of Geoff Johns' best writing comes from paying off events that he set up earlier in the series, and I can tell that there are a lot of those to come in the comic issues.

So far, Flashpoint is kicking ass. I'm not quite sure if it's taking names yet, but #4 and #5 will determine that. This issue had a lot of great stuff, such as the reveal of Weak!Superman, how things change quickly for Supes as soon as he looks at the sun, the sad and creepy skeleton of Krypto, and Thomas Wayne tragic motivation in helping The Flash try to return the universe to its status quo.

FLASHPOINT #4 comes out August 3, 2011.

Click here to read Part One, where guest blogger Jay Valen Perez reviews CHARMED from Zenescope Entertainment.

NEXT WEEK: Well, I'm in Indiana, so I'm not sure if I'll be able to update. If I am, expect another Part One/ Part Two blog. Part One will include already published graphic novels, and Part Two (that Friday) would get down to Superman #713 and Dollhouse #1.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Comic Book Wednesday #8 - Part One - Charmed

Comic Book Wednesday

#8 - Part One

I said that I'll be updating the Comic Book Wednesday section of this blog every Wednesday and DAMMIT I WILL! I, however, can't today. Last night I had a big marathon re-writing session based on notes I got from a TV Studio (whoa) on a tie-in project I'm doing for them (yup) through a great comics company. Which is a blast. A tired-making, super rewarding blast. Today, however, will consist of ten and a half straight hours at the side-side job, which is going to prevent me from running down to the shop and picking up Flashpoint #3, which this review was meant to focus on. I'm going to post a review for that issue tomorrow in Comic Book Wednesday #8 Part Two.

For this special "I Won't Go Back on My Promise to Update Every Wednesday" issue, I've got a guest blogger. He's here to talk about the Charmed comic from Zenescope Entertainment. Take it, Jay.


Jay P.

Series Review
Published by Zenescope Entertainment

Here now the words of the witches…
Years ago, I remember flipping through channels on a boring afternoon. Football. Nah. Wheel of Fortune… Nah. Law & Order’s 913th episode. Nah. Then by chance I stumbled upon something special.
A show about family, a show about sisterhood, a show about magic. A show about three really hot witches--the Charmed Ones, as they are called by the magical community. Almost immediately I was hooked. The first episode I saw involved one of the witches encountering a Wendigo, a unique spin on the werewolf mythos. As I hungered for more episodes, I watched the Charmed Ones overcome various villains and threats. I was immediately drawn in to Charmed’s interpretation of Wicca and magic, while also identifying with the characters and their ever dramatic personal lives.
The years went by. Characters changed and developed in wonderful ways. Others perished and were mourned for. Storylines grew and climaxed. Finally, after eight magical seasons, the series came to an end in 2006. Fans everywhere were sad to see their beloved show gone.
However there was hope. Such popular shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel have been officially continued as comic books. In light of the success that Dark Horse and IDW has seen with those titles, Zenescope Entertainment pursued the rights to develop a “Season Nine” of Charmed.
It has been a little over a year since Zenescope launched Charmed’s first issue in June of 2010. Beginning with a #0 “Sourcebook” issue to catch up new readers to the Charmedverse with character backgrounds and summaries of the TV show’s history, the title then became an on-going comic book.
Series writer Paul Ruditis, author of several tie-novels of various works, weaves a tale that stays true to the source material.I appreciate that new readers can jump in without having watched the show, while long-time fans can pick up on subtle references to past events. Every issue feels like its own episode, while also serving a larger arc, leaving me wanting more.
Be sure to pick up Charmed: Volume 1 (collecting issues #1-5) and keep on the look out for Charmed #12 and, later, Charmed: Volume 2 (collecting issues #6-12)!


Thanks for covering my ass, Jay. I hope to be able to regularly update most Wednesdays, but let's get you back here soonish. Your review was... magical.

See what I did there?

Why do people even let me write things?

I'll see you guys tomorrow for a review of FLASHPOINT #3.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Future Projects - Blood Pong

Well, something has to combat the romantic vampire crazy, right?

Man, look at that art. That's a camera phone picture of an inked Page Two that hasn't been scanned yet. Page Two of what, you ask? It's a comic book I'm working on with the wonderful Ian McGinty. It's about vampires who play beer pong with blood. It's about two monsters who decide to single-handedly debunk the "vampires are so very sweet" myth. It's about AIDS and horror cliches and old school exploitation. It's about making fun of all of that shit while wholly embracing it. It's Blood Pong.

I wrote and directed two short films based on the general idea of the series a couple of years ago, but I'm admittedly a way better writer than I am a director. A HD handheld does not a DP make. I love all of those films and the folks I worked on them with, but I think that Blood Pong can really thrive in four issues of twenty-two black and white pages. Once the first ten pages are done, Ian and I are going to pitch this around... I'm thinking New York Comic-Con, if not before then. I can't wait to show you guys more.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Writing Advice - Give A Shit

I've wanted to do this for a while, and reading Stephen King's excellent On Writing memoir/book-of-transformative-writing-advice has pushed me to finally give it a go. I posted two vlogs on this topic a while ago, but I think--as per the title of this blog--I might be better at actually writing said advice than going all John/Hank Green on YouTube. I'm going to steer clear of all the cliches good and bad that seem to encompass most writing books and just tell you what I think will improve your writing. Hell, this is the stuff that I personally struggle with the most, so maybe it'll help the both of us.

Let's go.

Writerly Advice #1

Give a Shit

This seems so simple that you're probably wondering if this post is even worth reading. Let me tell you, though... this little piece of obvious advice might be what I struggle with most as a writer. As I write this, I'm reaching the end of a first draft of a story that I, until a few moments ago, was planning on submitting to a small press anthology for publication. This is, as I'm nearing the end, I'm realizing that the story isn't really about anything. It's true that theme (which is really just meaning) can be added in the second draft, but sometimes it is that meaning, the message of the story, that makes you as a writer care enough to want to finish the story.

Your story doesn't have to be a comment on the state of politics or an examination of human nature. It doesn't have to make an overarching statement that will make academic types stroke their pretentious beards and go "Ah, yes, I see." The only important thing when you're writing is that you care. Unfortunately, sometimes, you'll end up writing something that you don't give a shit about. There are many ways to fix that, and most of them include examining what you have, cutting out the bullshit, and injecting some of yourself into the story. Hell, my story right now is a comedic piece about a group of supernatural who, while trying to be heroes, realize that sometimes they do have to play the part of the monster. I think the central concept is a pretty good idea, and the first few pages poured out of my fingers in a wave of inspiration. But as I'm coming to the end, I realized that while I was in love with the set-up, I didn't take the time to develop the characters enough to care what happens to them or, most importantly, for their realization at the end of the story to matter to me. And hey, if the story doesn't matter to the person who is writing it, you know the reader isn't going to give a shit.

So when you're wondering why you're having such a hard time with your story, ask yourself if you give a shit about where the characters are headed and what has happened with the story. And be honest. If the answer is "no," that's okay. You'll live, and your story might too. In the case of lack of shit giveage, just look at what you've got. Who are your characters? Do you care about them? If so, awesome... give them something to do that will make them make choices that will either shock you or reaffirm your love for them. If not... ask yourself why, and see if you can add something to them that will make you care. Don't get me wrong--you don't have to like them. You just have to care. You have to be interested, because only then can you be interesting.

Why are you writing this story?

I have to go work on this story because right now, I couldn't give the tiniest shit. Let's see if I can fix that.