Archive for June, 2011

29
Jun
11

Classic EBI #97: The 2004 Everything But Imaginary Awards

It’s been about a month since DC’s big announcement, the restructuring of the universe, and I’ve had time to digest it all. So this week in Everything But Imaginary, I’m taking a more informed look at the future of the DC Universe…

Everything But Imaginary #405: The New DCU Take Two

But in this week’s classic EBI, we’re rewinding to January of 2005, when the readers of Everything But Imaginary voted on their favorites for the previous year. Set the Wayback Machine, friends, because it’s time for…

Everything But Imaginary #97: The 2004 Everything But Imaginary Awards

It’s that time again, folks, for the 2004 Everything But Imaginary Awards, the only awards show voted on exclusively by the people who visit Comixtreme.com [CXPulp.com] plus a few other people that Blake begged to vote to help him break ties. So without further ado, here’s your host, Blake M. Petiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!

Thanks, Blake. Man, isn’t he a swell guy? Well friends, welcome to the 2004 Everything But Imaginary Awards. By popular demand, we’re doing away without the musical numbers and long, boring speeches by people you’ve never heard of. We’ve got 15 categories to get through and 30 awards to hand out, so let’s not waste time. The EBI awards are simple, there are two awards in every category. The Reader’s Choice award reflects the voting of you, the reader (hence the name). The Writer’s Choice award was selected by yours truly, because it’s my column and I get to do that sort of thing. Keep in mind, the Writer’s Choice winners were selected before voting was opened to the readers, so there are some categories where the same title won both honors. They get the coveted Double Blakie award! So without further ado, let’s roll on to the best comic books of 2004!

1. Best Superhero Title

Reader’s Choice: Invincible. Robert Kirkman’s story of a superhero coming of age really surprised me by pulling away to take this honor. This is the story of Mark Grayson, a seemingly average superhero, with the caveat that he also happens to be the son of one of the world’s biggest superheroes. Launched last year as part of Image’s recommitment to superhero comics, this book has not only become extremely popular, but one of the lynchpins of the Image Universe, such as it is. And it may not be the sole factor behind making Kirkman one of the hottest commodities in comics, but it sure as heck hasn’t hurt matters. I’ll admit to you guys right now, I have never read an issue of Invincible, but seeing the incredible support this title has, I’m determined to find that first trade paperback and see what all the fuss is about.

Writer’s Choice: JSA. Do I talk about this comic book a lot? Yep. And you know why? Because it’s one of the best comic books on the market. Geoff Johns and his solid art teams, currently including the great Don Kramer, have taken some of the greatest superheroes of all time, thrown them into a pot with their various progeny and successors, and turned out a comic book about heroes and legacies that is unsurpassed in modern comic books. The strongest things the DC Universe has going for it are its legacies – Green Lantern, the Flash, Starman and many others. This title celebrates those legacies and what makes superheroes great, and tells the best stories you can get in the process.

Honorable Mention: Fantastic Four, Superman/Batman, Birds of Prey.

2. Best Science Fiction Title

Reader’s Choice: Y: The Last Man. It’s hard, if not impossible to argue with the selection of this as one of the most outstanding science fiction titles in all comics. Brian K. Vaughan and his artists, most frequently Pia Guerra, have created a fascinating story in the adventures of Yorick Brown, the last man alive after a plague sweeps over the Earth. This title swerves into various storytelling styles – sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s terrifying. Sometimes it’s a sharp political satire and sometimes it’s a straight-up adventure story. One thing is for sure – it’s always a great read. With amazing cliffhangers that don’t seem forced, characters that grow and develop and a mystery like none in comics, Y:The Last Man is one of the best there is.

Writer’s Choice: The Legion/Legion of Super-Heroes. It is no secret that I’m an old-school Legion fan, but it’s been a long time since this team had as good a year as they did in 2004. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning wrapped up a fabulous 5-year run with an assault on Darkseid and the reintroduction of Superboy to the heroes of DC’s future. Once they left they passed the book on to Gail Simone, who delivered a great fast-paced adventure tale, which dovetailed right into the collision with the Teen Titans, and in turn, to a reboot of epic proportions. Now I was skeptical of the need for a reboot of this title, but one issue under the pens of Mark Waid and Barry Kitson was more than enough to convince me, this is still a fantastic sci-fi title, and likely to be a strong contender again in 2005.

Honorable Mention: Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer, Negation.

3. Best Fantasy Title

Double Blakie Award: Fables. The readers and I agree, when it came to fantasy in 2004, there was nothing that could touch the magic of Fables. Bill Willingham’s warped fairy tale follows the survivors of a bloody war in the Homelands of fairy tales as they live a new life on plain ordinary Earth. 2004 was quite a year. The Fables were attacked by the forces of the Adversary, Snow White and Bigby Wolf became parents and Prince Charming became mayor of Fabletown. Good people died, bad people thrived and through it all, the readers got to reap the rewards. Funny, exciting, beautifully illustrated (usually by the incomparable Mark Buckingham) and never patronizing or condescending to the reader, it’s no question why this has become a fan favorite. As far as I’m concerned, this book marks the high point of DC’s Vertigo line these days, and that’s saying an awful lot.

Honorable Mention: Bone, The Witches.

4. Best Horror Title

Reader’s Choice: 30 Days of Night. The vampire tale by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, among other artists, scored the most votes among horror fans in this year’s awards. The series of miniseries, including Dark Days, Return to Barrow and the current Bloodsucker Tales, is a remarkably gory, energizing horror comic. Some time ago (back in the first 30 Days miniseries), a cadre of vampires descended upon the small town of Barrow, Alaska, where darkness lasts a full month, making it a perfect smorgasbord for creatures of the night. The following series examine the lives of the survivors of that initial massacre – both human and bloodsucker alike. I just hope that when the promised movie hits the screen it does the comic book justice.

Writer’s Choice: Dead@17. Josh Howard’s tale of the undead stayed at the top of my list this year with the sequel, Blood of Saints, the current Revolutions miniseries and a Rough Cut special. Nara Kilday was killed, cut down in the prime of her life, only to return from the dead as an agent of a higher power against the forces of evil. Although Howard does sometimes tend to lean towards the cheesecake with his artwork, unlike a lot of comics, Dead@17 has a real story to back it up. With the announcement that this is going to become an ongoing series next year, replacing the series-of-miniseries format, I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.

Honorable Mention: Devil May Cry, The Walking Dead, Army of Darkness: Ashes 2 Ashes.

5. Best “Down to Earth” Title

Reader’s Choice: Strangers in Paradise. In a tough category to judge – one that looks to comics that don’t rely on sci-fi or the supernatural – Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise gets the prize. For years now this has been a real genre-bender, waving between soap opera to crime drama to sitcom and back to soap opera again without missing a beat. Katchoo is in love with Francine, who’s marrying Brad. David, the man who loves Katchoo, has resurfaced and is chasing her again. And try as she might, Katchoo’s past keeps catching up to her. This is an intricate, complex, layered title, one that few others can match, and for a long time now it’s been one of the best, most offbeat comics on the racks.

Writer’s Choice: Gotham Central. If you’re not reading this comic book, guys, you’re just plain missing out. Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker, along with the soon-to-depart Michael Lark, have taken the world of the Batman and managed to tell a series of deep, powerful tales not about superheroes, but about the police whose job it is to keep order in a city of darkness. There are good cops and bad cops, and even those lines aren’t clearly defined. One thing is clear, though – this is one of the best crime dramas in comics, and it deserves all the accolades it can get.

Honorable Mention: 100 Bullets, The Losers.

6. Best Humor Title

Double Blakie Award: PVP. From its origins as a webcomic at PVP Online to its days at Dork Storm and through its current run at Image Comics, Scott Kurtz turns out one of the funniest comic books out there not just every month, but every day. Set in the offices of PVP Magazine, this strip focuses on a cast of geeks, video game addicts, harried office workers, a good-hearted but stupid troll and an evil kitten based on world domination. In other words, it’s just like your office. Kurtz has an uncanny knack for taking trite, overused comedy stories and making them funny and new again, due mostly to the great characters he’s created and his own versatility. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – man, I love this comic book.

Honorable Mention: Simpsons Comics, Lionxor, Plastic Man.

8. Best Mature Reader’s Title

Reader’s Choice: Fables. Gee, have I mentioned this title before? Just like in the Fantasy category, readers have handed the win to Bill Willingham and his crew. It’s interesting to note that one of the best mature titles on the market springs from some of the most classic characters of our youth. Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and Pinocchio all have important roles in this title, but Disney it ain’t. There’s blood, sex and language that you don’t want the kids to read. But that alone doesn’t make it a good comic book. In fact, it would keep it from being a good comic book if not for the fact that the stories themselves are smart, sharp, clever and intriguing. Willingham knows that the secret to telling a great mature reader’s comic isn’t just throwing gore, boobs and f-bombs at the reader, but rather crafting a story that a younger reader just isn’t ready for.

Writer’s Choice: Hellblazer. This is probably the longest-running mature reader’s series in comics, and this year in particular it has earned that distinction. The story of the man who has cheated death, cheated the devil and cheated his way out of every nasty scrape he’s ever been in. And he’s lasted over 200 issues now, and his stories are as good as ever. With the Constantine movie coming out next month, DC has some of its top talent on this comic, namely Mike Carey and Leonardo Manco. It’s a great horror comic that, relies a bit more on the gore than Fables – but hey, it’s a horror comic. You’ve got to expect that.

Honorable Mention: Y: The Last Man, Supreme Power, Sleeper Season Two.

7. Best All-Ages Title

Reader’s Choice: Teen Titans Go!. I’ve got to admit, I didn’t always care for this comic, because I didn’t care for the TV show. But the show and comic have both grown on me, and evidently, with the readers as well. I don’t mind telling you that this was the category with the most spread-out votes, so I had to ask one of my “tiebreaker” people to pick one, and this came out on top. It’s a solid, enjoyable comic, and at least one six-year-old I know has really started to get into comic books, in no small part because of this series. It’s a perfect companion to the TV show, and it helps introduce kids to the wonderful four-color world we’ve all grown to love. In the end, what more could you possibly ask for?

Writer’s Choice: Uncle Scrooge. Mixing new stories by the likes of Don Rosa and Pat and Shelly Block with classics by Carl Barks gives this book a fantastic balance. Old stories, new stories, great stories. The comics are clean and simple, starring characters your kids already love and that, chances are, you grew up loving too. The only downside to this comic is the hefty cover price, which is at least justified considering it’s 64 pages a month, but I’d still prefer they drop it down to a standard 32 pages and give it a price that kids can afford. Overall, though, the stories and great and the art is beautiful – and most importantly, it features stories that kids will love and that adults will still get a kick out of. That’s the mark of a true all-ages comic book.

Honorable Mention: New X-Men: Academy X, Cenozoic, Usagi Yojimbo, Ultimate Spider-Man.

9. Best Adapted Comic

Reader’s Choice: Star Wars: Republic. While a lot of people savage the prequel era of George Lucas’s Star Wars saga, the ire seems to have spared Dark Horse’s Star Wars: Republic. Telling the tales of the waning days of the old Republic, this is the place to go to read about the great Jedi of the past. John Ostrander is crafting the tales of the Clone Wars, bridging the events between Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and the upcoming Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, with the adventures of the likes of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Quinlan Vos and Aayla Secura. This makes for some of the most exciting space opera in comics.

Writer’s Choice: G.I. Joe. Although G.I. Joe: Reloaded may be getting a bit more attention, the original title is still one of the best in comics. Brandon Jerwa and Tim Seeley’s ongoing epic about the war between G.I. Joe and Cobra has taken some serious twists this year. General Hawk is paralyzed. The Baroness is pregnant. The Joe team has been cut down to 12 members and Destro has seized control from Cobra Commander. The creators of this title are never content to let the status quo rest for very long, an incredibly refreshing way to tell a story about characters that were first created in another medium, and they’ve used that fearlessness to create a great comic book.

Honorable Mention: TransFormers: Armada, Street Fighter, Dragonlance.

10. Best Comic Adaptation

Double Blakie Award: Spider-Man 2. This ran away with it in the voting, friends, nothing else was even close. Director Sam Raimi reunited with Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, and threw in Alfred Molina to make one of the greatest superhero movies ever made. Peter Parker’s responsibilities as Spider-Man finally overwhelm him and he decides to throw away his costume once and for all… but has to reconsider when he finds his loved ones plagued by the mad Dr. Octopus. Great acting, great visuals and characters that are true to the comic book. This was better than the first movie, and better than almost any other superhero movie out there.

Honorable Mention: Smallville, Justice League Unlimited, Teen Titans.

11. Best Miniseries or Special

Double Blakie Award: Identity Crisis. Like the previous category, this is another one that left all competitors in the dust. DC Comics took their greatest heroes and gave them something even their vilest enemies couldn’t – fear. When the loved ones of a superhero become targets for a serial killer, all heroes have to be ready to fight. A lot of people balked at the conclusion to this series, and while I didn’t think it was flawless, I thought it was expertly crafted and impeccably written. Plus, with the noises we’ve heard coming from DC over the last few years, I get the impression that this is only the beginning of the shakeup of the DC Universe.

Honorable Mention: My Faith in Frankie, Powerless, Punisher: The End.

12. Best New Title

Reader’s Choice: Astonishing X-Men. With the end of Grant Morrison’s historic New X-Men run, Marvel Comics wisely decided not to try to duplicate his efforts, but instead took the team back to its superheroic roots. Written by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon with beautiful art by John Cassaday, this book focuses on a team of X-Men trying to prove themselves as superheroes in a world that hates and despises them. While the “mutants dealing with bigotry” angle isn’t new at all, what is new is the stance the characters are taking: fight bigotry by purposely making themselves heroes. It’s a new take on a concept that’s been done so much that a lot of us didn’t think any more takes would even be possible. It’s a great read.

Writer’s Choice: Fade From Grace. This little-known title from Beckett Comics was literally just handed to me at the Wizard World Dallas Convention in November, and I was astonished to totally fall in love with it. Written by Gabriel Benson with haunting artwork by Jeff Amano, this is the tale of John and Grace, a young couple very much in love. Their world is turned upside down, however, when John discovers he has the ability to turn immaterial as a wraith or solid as stone. Taking the name Fade, he sets out to become a superhero. What makes this comic so unique is that the story is told through the mournful eyes of Grace, a woman in love with a hero, frightened for his life, often grieving for him as though he were already dead. This is an incredible romance totally unlike any other comic book on the racks, and well worth the read.

Honorable Mention: District X, Cable and Deadpool, Conan.

13. Best Comic You’re Not Reading

Reader’s Choice: She-Hulk. Dan Slott’s new take on She-Hulk has turned out one of the best, most critically-acclaimed comics in the Marvel stable. Shulkie gets a job with a law firm specializing in superhumans – but they don’t want her, they want her human alter-ego, Jennifer Walters. In a day and age where most comic books seem to run and hide from continuity, this title revels in it, pulling out obscure characters and storylines and crafting new, often side-splitting stories out of them. The book is so self-referential that old Marvel Comics are often used as actual legal documents. With Paul Pelletier on the art chores and the promise of a big push to help boost sales in the coming year, this book is primed to become the mega-hit it deserves. Just for Heaven’s sake – start reading it!

Writer’s Choice: The Monolith. It may be a case of “too little, too late” since the cancellation of this title has already been announced, but DC Comics’ The Monolith is one of the finest comics out there that simply hasn’t found its audience. Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray with great art by Phil Winslade, this is the story of Alice Cohen, a young woman with a messed-up life, who inherits her grandmother’s old mansion with the caveat that she get her act together. When she moves in she discovers her grandmother’s secret – the giant clay golem living in the basement. It’s a superhero story with a twist. It’s a “girl and her monster” story. It’s a totally new set of eyes through which to view the DC Universe. And it may be ending, but that doesn’t mean you can’t jump on and see what’s so great about it before it goes. There’s always a chance that the Monolith can rise to fight again.

Honorable Mention: Street Angel, District X, Invincible.

14. The New Beginning Award

Reader’s Choice: Green Lantern. With the conclusion of the previous series and the beginning of Green Lantern: Rebirth, fans couldn’t be happier to see what’s happening to one of DC’s iconic properties. Hal Jordan is on his way back, and while a lot of us don’t want to see Kyle Rayner vanish either, the fact is that Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver are delivering a great story with beautiful artwork that’s not just taking the easy way out. As Johns is so good at, he’s mining the past of this property to craft his story, making a tale of redemption that actually seems to fit. It looked like a nigh-impossible task, but he’s making it happen.

Writer’s Choice: She-Hulk. I’ve already gushed about this title once, but I don’t mind doing so a bit more. She-Hulk is a character that has gone through a lot of incarnations over the years. From her savage days to her birth as a superhero with the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, from the zany John Byrne series and back to being a team player, Jennifer Walters is someone who has reinvented herself every few years. Dan Slott understands that this character is at her strongest when she’s being lighthearted, but rather than copy the Byrne era, he’s found a totally new way to make her title into a comedy. I hope to get to read this book for a very, very long time.

Honorable Mention: Thor, Silver Surfer, Iron Man.

15. The Happy Trails Award

Reader’s Choice: Captain Marvel. No surprise here, seeing the uproar that followed this comic over the last several years. Peter David’s unique take on Captain Marvel lasted this long thanks to the severe dedication of the fans. It went from a fairly lighthearted satire to a much darker satire when the main character went mad, and while that storyline probably was dragged out a bit too long, there were still a lot of sad faces when the self-referential final issue hit the stands. It was a book that had a dedicated fan base, and it’s a book that many will miss.

Writer’s Choice: Bone. After over a decade Jeff Smith’s magnum opus finally came to an end. The tale of the Bone cousins, driven off to a valley full of strange and terrifying creatures, is one of the greatest fantasy tales ever put to comics. With beautiful artwork, compelling characters and an epic feel that makes Smith to comic books what Tolkien was to literature, it’s hard to believe this title only lasted 55 issues before the end. If you’ve never read Bone, now’s your chance: there’s a massive one-volume edition collecting the entire series, and Scholastic Books is about to launch a reprint paperback series that will redo this classic comic book in color, most of the issues appearing in color for the first time. I love this comic, and while I’ll follow Jeff Smith to any project he goes to in the future, I’ll never stop hoping that he comes back to the world of Bone once again.

Honorable Mention: Sentinel, Negation, H-E-R-O.

And that’s it for this year’s Everything But Imaginary Awards! Hope you had a great time, folks, and don’t forget to tip your waitress!

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: January 5, 2005

Continuing the revitalization of one of Marvel’s icons, Captain America #2 scored the first Favorite of the Week honor for 2005. Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting have managed to make a healthy blend of superheroics with the spy and crime genres that Brubaker does so incredibly well. This is a book with a big ol’ mystery, lots of danger, lots of spies and lots of action. It’s been quite a while since Captain America was this good.

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast. E-mail him at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page.

 

28
Jun
11

Time Travel Tuesday: How to Make it in Journalism Without Really Trying

No big story behind this one, no real logic to presenting it today. But I recently came across this old column, and I remembered it fondly, so I thought I’d share it with you guys…

September 20, 2003

How to Make it in Journalism Without Really Trying

The saddest thing about Jayson Blair landing a six-figure book deal due to his actions while working for The New York Times is that I wasn’t even surprised to hear it.

For those of you who may not know, Blair was a reporter for the once-venerable newspaper who caused a minor squall when it was discovered that he had written several stories without the benefit of actually traveling to where the stories took place, fabricated quotes whenever he found it necessary and basically forgot every fundamental rule of journalism, explaining the piece in which he identified Senator John Breaux as “a small, hairless marsupial.”

Unfortunately, while all this was going on Blair committed the one sin that, in America, forgives all of the other ones: he got famous. Therefore, New Millennium Press will be giving Blair hundreds of thousands of one-dollar bills (ironically, with George “I Cannot Tell a Lie” Washington’s picture on them) in exchange for the rights to publish his book Burning Down My Master’s House: My Life at The New York Times.

This is really a slap in the face to any legitimate journalist out there, myself included. It’s not that long ago that I gave several thousand of my own personal dollars to a university so that people would teach me all of the rules that Blair broke. I especially recall the lessons of journalism professor Dr. Lloyd Chiasson who, among other things, taught me inverted pyramid structure, the importance of proper attribution and that the guy from the Police Academy movies did not, in fact, invent moveable type.

But who cares about those things anymore? Clearly, as Mr. Blair has demonstrated, telling the truth and following the rules are not the way to get where you want to go in the modern publishing world. Therefore, in the interests of eventually securing my own exorbitant book contract, I’m going to let you guys in on a few stories that we here at the newspaper have been holding back on for a few weeks. Although we caution you: any facts you come across in the following news snippets are entirely coincidental.

CHICAGO — Talk show host and self-help guru Dr. Phil McGraw stunned fans Tuesday when his new diet book was found to contain the sentence, “Eat less and move around more,” followed by 319 blank pages.

“That’s all there is to it,” said a hysterical, laughing McGraw in a telephone interview. “And these idiots are paying $25.95 a pop!”

Readership for The Ultimate Weight Loss Solution has been almost evenly divided between those who throw the book in a wood chipper out of protest and those who immediately proclaim McGraw the Messiah.

McGraw has two more books scheduled to come out in the next six months: one where he blames all the problems in his life on prejudice against bald men and another where he gives fashion tips he culled from episodes of Bravo’s Queer Eye For the Straight Guy. New Millennium Press will publish the books.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Former Iraqi Information Minister “Baghdad” Bob Feldman, in his new position as a spokesman for the North Carolina legislature, today denied the existence of Hurricane Isabel, which at last count had capsized four cruise ships and blown a 57-year-old lady’s straw hat overboard.

“There is no hurricane!” Feldman announced at a press conference. “These winds are the winds of the people of Charlotte as they rise in strength against the infidel storm surge, which does not exist either!”

Feldman went on to declare that NBC News meteorologist Al Roker will be gutted like a pig and roasted upon a spit over the glowing embers of Hell. Feldman was then overpowered by several estranged Hornets fans who duct-taped him to a lightning rod, threw him on the beach and evacuated.

SEA OF TRANQUILITY, Moo. — Reality television producer Mark Burnett announced Thursday that the eighth edition of the popular reality show Survivor will be filmed on the surface of the moon.

“We were running out of frontiers here on Earth, and then Jeff [Probst, Survivor host] said to me, ‘We’re gonna have to go into space to find something new’,” Burnett said. “Then I thought… why not?”

Contestants on the program will be hurled out of an airlock in bikinis and wind pants and forced to survive on green cheese and hunt space-rats for food, “just like the first settlers on the moon,” Burnett said. Taping has been delayed due to problems constructing the “Tribal Council” set, where 14 workers have either suffocated to death or gone blind when their eyeballs exploded into the vacuum.

Blake M. Petit expects the book contracts to start rolling in at any moment. Contact him with comments, suggestions or hundreds of thousands of dollars at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com.

27
Jun
11

Other Kindle books for your reading pleasure…

So by now, you’ve all rushed out and purchased copies of Other People’s Heroes, now available on the Amazon Kindle and in print, as well as on the iPad and Nook bookstores, right? Excellent. But I’m not the only Kindle author out there, friends, so I thought I would take a moment to tell you about a few books written by friends of mine…

Seeking the Heavens by Jeff Hendricks:

“In a world where Earth’s Ionosphere is in a constant state of turmoil, a young inventor embarks on an unlikely journey looking for his missing scientist father. He finds more than he bargained for, and in the process learns about forgiveness, loyalty, and courage. This novel has action, light romance, humor, and intrigue in a captivating retro-futuristic setting.”

Jeff’s book currently available from Smashwords.com. Jeff, get this on the Kindle and other stores soon, brother!

Knightwatchers Episode 1: The Call by Jason D. Williams:

“KnightWatchers: The Call tells the story of plucky fourteen year old Alayna who is searching the galaxy for a stolen crystal that has the power either to create a solar system or destroy it. Her search brings her to a pirate vessel where she meets Alabam, a scrappy teenage space-pirate with a funny name and an appetite for a feast as well as a fight. Together, the two attempt to retrieve the crystal from the clutches of the villainous (and pompous) Captain Scorpion. Their adventure also takes them to Tecmonian Institute, a training school for the next generation of Astro-Militia. Alabam then finds himself in a league of young guardians where he meets Ace-2 Maverick (a young and cocky space pilot) and Flash – a teenage alien boy who has all the powers of a neutron star. Told with a tongue-in-cheek narrative, KnightWatchers pays homage to the old Saturday Matinee Serials with quirky characters all the while putting a new twist on a futuristic story that audiences will enjoy. “

Jason’s book is available in both the Kindle and Nook bookstores.

The Infected series by Andrea Speed:

In a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective trying to solve crimes involving other infecteds. The murder of a former cop draws Roan into an odd case where an unidentifiable species of cat appears to be showing an unusual level of intelligence. He juggles that with trying to find a missing teenage boy, who, unbeknownst to his parents, was “cat” obsessed. And when someone is brutally murdering infecteds, Eli Winters, leader of the Church of the Divine Transformation, hires Roan to find the killer before he closes in on Eli. Working the crimes will lead Roan through a maze of hate, personal grudges, and mortal danger. With help from his tiger-strain infected partner, Paris Lehane, he does his best to survive in a world that hates and fears their kind… and occasionally worships them.

Three books in the Infected series are available for your Kindle and in paperback!

  1. Infected: Prey
  2. Infected: Bloodlines
  3. Infected: Life After Death

If you’ve got an eBook or small press book that you’d like me to give a shout out to, just drop me an e-mail at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com. I can’t promise I’ll read every book in a timely fashion (although I do hope to start reviewing more such books over at CXPulp), but I’ll definitely let people know where to find you.

26
Jun
11

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 227: Animated E-Mails

Blake is alone this week, so he takes advantage of the quiet to answer some of your e-mails that have been building up! Blake discusses his newfound love for Phineas and Ferb, the new Looney Toons Show, and other all-ages television, brand loyalty, War of the Green Lanterns, Brightest Day, and more! In the picks: Rocketeer Adventures #2. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 227: Animated E-Mails

24
Jun
11

New looks in the new DCU

As you’re probably heard by now, especially if you read my columns or listen to my podcast, starting in September DC Comics is relaunching its entire line. This means restarting every title with a new first issue, launching several all-new titles, and tweaking the continuity and costumes of several long-standing heroes. Looking at the stuff that’s been announced so far, I’m mostly excited. There are some changes I don’t like (Harley Quinn’s new costume) and omissions that I’m not thrilled about (Power Girl and Xombi), but we’re also going to get ongoing series for great characters like Mr. Terrific (who has never had one before), new starts for deserving characters like Static, and the integration of the Wildstorm characters in the DCU. There’s a lot of potential there.

One thing that hasn’t been talked about much, though, is what the books are going to look like. I heard a quick reference somewhere that seemed to imply the books will have new logos and a new trade dress, which is to be expected, but so far we’ve only gotten one glimpse of them: what will apparently be the new logo for The Fury of Firestorm.

Firestorm is one of those characters that’s been around for a long time — over 30 years now — and he’s got a devoted following, but he’s never quite cracked the upper echelon of DC’s top heroes. I’m really looking forward to reading this title, though, because I do like the character and the creative team of Gail Simone, Ethan Van Sciver and Yildiray Cinar is a great combination.

What interests me at the moment, though, is this logo. It’s a cool look — contemporary, with that sort of spiral coming from the “O” that I think is intended to evoke the atomic nature of his powers. It’s also very different from his previous logos:

Firestorm’s popularity has waxed and waned over the years, you see. This is the fourth attempt at a solo series for the character, and at least the seventh logo. Looking at the older ones, it looks like they either tried to evoke the “fire” part of the name or the “nuclear’ element, with only the sixth one (bottom right corner) trying to bring in both.

I was looking at this and thinking about it, and I suddenly found myself wondering… when did I become such a nerd for logos? I blame the great comic book letterer Todd Klein, who often runs logo studies on his blog, where he goes through all of the different logos a particular character has had and discusses the design. I never really put a lot of thought into them before, but I’ve really come to appreciate logo creation as an art form of its own.

This, of course, got me thinking about the other logos. Will DC change them all? They haven’t said one way or another, but I think it’s highly possible. Even something as venerable as Superman’s logo is probably up for a change. And unlike most other characters, the changes to Superman’s logo over the years have either been small or temporary. Look at the graphic to the right — the logo from the first issue of Superman and the most recent issue. Small changes — turning angles into curves, streamlining the characters, but it’s still clearly based on the original design. Bigger changes (like during the dreaded “Electric Blue” period of the 90s) never lasted. It’s kind of like the costume that way — small changes have taken, big ones have gone away. Of course, he’s also getting a slightly different look, so a very different logo I think is very possible.

Then there’s the question of related titles. This new DCU will feature three different Justice League titles, numerous characters in the “Batman” family, and of course, the four Superman-related titles. My question is, will the logos for these titles have any sort of visual link? The Batman books often don’t, but the Superman titles — except for Action Comics — have been pretty uniform. Supergirl and Superboy, as you can see to the left, have had the same basic design as the Superman logo for the past twenty years or so. I like this. It gives them a nice, uniform look, and makes it plain that they’re all part of a group of titles. But this hasn’t always been the case. Before the late 80s or early 90s, the characters often had very different logos, both from Superman and from each other:

The real question, I suppose, will be of the characters themselves. In this “new” DC Universe, will they still be the close-knit family they are now? If so, I’d like whatever new logo design they have to reflect that by sharing some elements. If not, going completely different with each of the three characters may make sense.

It’s interesting. While there are a lot of new DC books I’m excited to read, I’m actually interested in how all of them are going to look.

23
Jun
11

Universal Rule of the Universe #74

Blake’s Universal Rule of the Universe #74

74. The next time you think to yourself, “such a small detail can’t possibly make a difference,” stop and FIX IT. Because yes, it can.

Read the rest of the Universal Rules of the Universe right here!

22
Jun
11

Classic EBI #96: The Spirit of Will Eisner

This week there’s been some interesting news on the comics front — a rumor that Marvel is planning a series of newsstand-aimed anthologies, and the announcement that Image Comics is going to adopt DC’s ratings system. What do I think about all of it?

Everything But Imaginary #404: More Changes to Your Comic Racks

But in this week’s classic EBI, we’re going back to January of 2005, when the comics world lost one of the greats.

Everything But Imaginary #96: The Spirit of Will Eisner

This week, folks, we were supposed to hand out the 2004 EBI awards. It was supposed to be a silly, jolly time just talking about some good comics — something I personally love to do. But man, the world pulls a fast one on you sometimes. Sometimes you just get dealt a severe blow, and sometimes you need to put the frivolities aside to pay tribute to something far bigger than yourself.

I’m talking, of course, about Will Eisner.

Eisner was a giant. A pioneer. A brilliant artist, an unparalleled storyteller. A man who revolutionized comics and helped them take their first steps towards becoming a true art form. It is hard to imagine any comic book creator more legendary than he.

And on Monday, Jan. 3, he passed away at the age of 87.

Eisner, the son of Jewish immigrants, got his start in comics in 1936 doing strips for WOW! What a Magazine and established a studio with his friend, Jerry Iger. In 1940 he debuted the comic book character that would make him a legend. Denny Colt was a police detective thought dead after a battle with a master criminal. Using this to his advantage, he became The Spirit, a masked crimefighter protecting the people of Central City.

That’s a very bland retelling of what was a groundbreaking comic. While his origin may not have been that different from any of a dozen other mystery men characters of the day, the way the Spirit was presented was very different. First of all, he didn’t appear in traditional comic books, but instead in a special 16-page comic that was released as a supplement to the comics section of Sunday newspapers. (Hard to imagine, I know, in this day and age where editors shrink comics down to postage stamp size and rearrange the panels at whim.) The weekly serial ran every Sunday for 12 years, with Eisner doing the writing or the writing and art for most of them (save for a three-year period when his talents were enlisted in World War II).

Then there was the writing. The Spirit, from a storytelling standpoint, was far superior to most of the comics of the day. It could be a hardboiled crime drama one week, a horror story the next, a comedy the week after and a soft sci-fi adventure to round out the month. Eisner freely flowed from genre to genre, but the character never seemed out of place.

And finally — and most importantly — there was the way this comic looked. Until Eisner, most comic book stories looked very much like their comic strip predecessors: a grid of panels, almost like still pictures lined up in a row to tell the story. Serviceable, yes, but hardly exciting. Eisner changed all that. He began to play with layout, experiment with design, with form and function of the comic book panel. He changed the stale grid to something bold and dynamic. Along with other luminaries like Jack Kirby, he turned the comic book from just being the stepchild of comic strips and magazines to being an art form in its own right, one which continues to grow and develop to this day. If you can find a successful American comic book artist who does not admit a debt — directly or indirectly — to Will Eisner, then he’s a liar.

Eisner was always out to try new things, too. He never settled on a logo for The Spirit, never gave it a traditional cover. Instead, he played with the logo of the comic every issue, often incorporating the design into the opening panel of that week’s story. These days you couldn’t do that because the marketing department would want an established brand, but at the time he not only got away with it, he created some of the most stylish, most dynamic opening pages in comics.

Eisner didn’t quit with the end of The Spirit, though. Throughout the 70s and 80s he turned out more and more comics, becoming more and more well-known. A Contract With God became known as the “first graphic novel,” coining the term for longer-form comic books that are often much more adult in tone than their magazine counterparts. While some would debate whether or not Eisner coined this phrase himself or whether Contract actually qualifies as coming “first,” few could possibly argue that his stories and the way he told them would change comic books and make the graphic novel a legitimate format for the artform.

He kept working right up until his death, turning out more graphic novels like Minor Miracles, A Life Force, The Building and Life On Another Planet. He was working even in his final days. His last graphic novel, The Plot, will be released later in 2005.

Eisner became synonymous with excellence in comic books. Even the premiere award in the entire medium bears his name — the Eisner Award is to comics what the Oscar is to film.

His thumbprint — what he did for and what he understands about the medium — remains an inspiration to comic artists to this very day. A few weeks ago, in the bustle of all the Christmas shopping I had to do, I was struggling to find a present for my sister, Heather. In a moment of epiphany, I recalled how she has recently renewed her high school interest in art and even asks me from time to time what it would take to learn to draw comics. (She has even shown a lot of interest in taking classes from the Joe Kubert school.) Then it became perfectly clear. I should give her the book almost universally recognized as the finest work ever written about comic books as an art form, what it takes to draw them, how to craft them, how to make a page exciting, how to tell a story.

That work, of course, is Comics and Sequential Art by Will Eisner. And I got her another of his books, Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative, to further her education. I knew that whatever question Heather might pose to me, Eisner was far more qualified to answer than I was.

I just never dreamed, as I watched her unwrap those books on Christmas Eve, that only two weeks later the icon who wrote them would be gone.

As Shakespeare was to theatre, as Mozart was to music, as DaVinci was to sculpture and painting, so was Will Eisner to the comic book. He was one of the last true legends of the comic book form. We will never see his like again, but as long as new artists sharpen their pencils and crack the spines of his books to study the craft, he will never be forgotten.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: December 29, 2004

The last week of the year also brought with it perhaps the most exciting launch, certainly the best comic of the week, the new Legion of Super-Heroes #1. While I was admittedly skeptical about this title’s reason for being (I really didn’t think the Legion needed yet another reboot), I did have faith in the talent of Mark Waid and Barry Kitson to deliver a knockout story, and I wasn’t disappointed. This was a fantastic comic book and a great new beginning for the Legion. If you’ve never read their comic book before, don’t worry, it’s all new from here on out. This is a great place to start.

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast and the weekly audio fiction podcast Blake M. Petit’s Evercast. E-mail him at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page, and check out his new experiment in serial fiction at Tales of the Curtain.

 




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