Comic Books Out 7, 14, 21 October 2015

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Butter and Blood (Steven Weissman) [Retrofit]

A collection of short stories, mini comics, zine entries, designs, sketches, etc. put together by an individual with impeccable taste and style. The art here ranges (as you’d imagine) from loose sketchbook pages to photoshop-clean but keeps a scratchy, human quality that also bleeds into the pathos of some of the shorts. There’s plenty of humor, too, particularly a series of escalating gags revolving around Guns ‘n’ Roses and food.

Ikebana (Yumi Sakugawa) [Retrofit]

An art-comic in the sense that it’s about an art student and her performance-art final project, the frame of the story works to address issues of life, gender, family, harassment, and human connection. With a spare art style that rests comfortably somewhere between naive and minimal, there’s still enough interesting detail to necessitate a deeper look, especially in the crowded scenes.

Jughead #1 (Chip Zdarsky and Erica Henderson) [Archie]

If you’re not familiar with the strange and silly antics of cartoonist alter-ego Chip Zdarsky, you should know that his placement as writer of Jughead is one of those “on the nose” picks. Jughead’s relaunch is properly focused on cheeseburgers, with a healthy dose of friendship, video games and epic fantasy (and Game of Thrones references). This book is literally laugh out loud funny, and Henderson’s cartoony faces perfectly mesh with the silliness within.

Paper Girls #1 (Brian K. Vaughn and Cliff Chiang) [Image]

One of my favorite single issues this year, hands down. We’re talking about this on the next episode of Four Color Commentary, so I’ll save my thoughts for the show.

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Comic Books out 9 September 2015

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I only picked up three books this week.

Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #2

I get frustrated with books that take work to get into. Books with a lot of history or that require you to have read lots of other stuff beforehand are something I complain about on Four Color Commentary with relative frequency. But if I’m being perfectly honest, I do occasionally love books like that assuming I’ve already done all of the required reading. I’ve done all of the reading for Phonogram’s newest series, The Immaterial Girl, as well as all of the required listening and watching. This month’s issue heavily references the music video for A-Ha’s Take On Me (even in the cover) as well videos for Thriller and Madonna’s Material Girl. Musically it references some solid early-2000 electro, as well as the music scenes surrounding, and the book itself gives no introduction to characters or their exploits, as you’d need to read the other Phonogram volumes to understand those references. But Gillen/McKelvie and I somehow travel in similar musical circles (with some exceptions), so I’m right in tune with them for this mind bending and heavily-referential series.

Head Lopper #1

I tend to add the format of a book to its name when mentioning it, which means I’ve called this book “Head Lopper Quarterly Adventure Comic #1” a couple of times when mentioning it to friends (in the same way that I keep calling it “Island Comics Magazine”). But I think the quarterly aspect of it is important, because it’s a thick book (80+ pages) and it costs nearly $6. You’re getting easily 3 issues worth of comics for your money here, which introduces the Head Lopper himself, the world around him, his next quest and the political machinations that motivate it. Also there’s a ton of bad-ass monster battles drawn with Andrew MacLean’s angular style. This is a brütal comic, with tons of blood and blisteringly-drawn battles like the best swords-and-sandals stories. The art is done in a distinct way that brings to mind some of that vividly-colorerd, loose noodle-arm style of Adventure Time. This book looks incredible and even after 80 pages I’m thirsty for more of this story.

Atomic Robo and the Ring of Fire #1

I’ve been reading Clevinger and Wegener’s Atomic Robo since the beginning, but this is the first issue of there’s that does two things I never expected to see from them: (1) continuity and (2) no Atomic Robo. Most of the Atomic Robo stories have been stories out of time, tales of the storied life of the super-scientist robot created by Nikola Tesla, but this series follows Robo’s team directly after the end of Volume 8: Atomic Robo and the Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur (which is easily the funniest Robo story). Essentially, Atomic Robo has done a Back to the Future 3 and accidentally ended up in the 1880s, while at the same time some sort of new bio-apocolypse is turning the world into a police state. His team regroups and decides to find Robo and make things right again. It’s continuity and I like it!