Posts Tagged ‘Neil Gaiman

09
Sep
12

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 271: New to Who

We’re back! After an unexpected hiatus, Blake and Erin return to the Showcase with an all-new episode. Erin talks about her new indoctrination into the Doctor Who fandom, we discuss the new Allan Heinberg Wonder Woman and Joss Whedon SHIELD TV projects, chat a bit about Marvel Now! and the new Justice League of America, and share ideas for who should star in a female version of The Expendables. In the picks, Blake doubles up with Green Lantern #0 and New Crusaders #1. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 271: New to Who

15
Jul
12

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 270: San Diego Comic-Commentary

Comic-Con weekend is here, and although Blake and Erin aren’t in San Diego, that’s not going to stop them from pontificating about all the news from the con. The aftermath of Avengers Vs. X-MenNeil Gaiman returns to Sandman! A slew of new Image comics, the titles and release dates for Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Phase 2…” and is it possible the greatest Marvel villain of them all could be… Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz? Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!
Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

24
Aug
11

Classic EBI #105: Getting in on the Ground Floor

With next week’s historical realignment of the DC Universe, I thought today would be an appropriate time to look back at the DCU that was and give a proper send-off to those books, characters, and creators that I’ve enjoyed in recent years that I think deserve a fond farewell.

Everything But Imaginary #412: The Old DC Farewell Party

Going back in time, though, we look at my column from March 9, 2005. This week, I talked about how hard it can be to get into long-running series, and made my recommendation for a book I thought could be the Next Big Thing. I still think it’s a great book, and it lives on as a webcomic…

Everything But Imaginary #105: Getting in on the Ground Floor

In theory, a new reader should be able to jump into a long-running, iconic series at just about any time and get into the action. This isn’t true in practice, of course, but let’s talk about the theory for a moment. In theory, Spider-Man comics should be perfectly accessible to people who just start reading because they love the movie. In theory, people who want to try Fantastic Four should be able to hop on to that title as soon as the new writer takes over. And in theory, if you’re one of the three people on Earth who doesn’t know Batman’s origin, just stick around, because it seems to get recapped every other month anyway.

The reason for this is that these characters have been around for decades and have become part of the constantly-expanding mythology of comic books. Amazing Spider-Man does not tell one complete story, it tells hundreds of stories in short installments that have been added to by hundreds of writers, pencilers, inkers, colorists, letterers and editors over the years. So if you missed the beginning of the current story, or if you don’t like it, all you’ve got to do is wait around for the next one to start.

This is not true of all comics, however. In the last few decades, there has been an increasing focus on comics that tell one, extended story, usually the product of a single cartoonist or a single writer collaborating with multiple artists. A comic book series with a beginning, a middle and an end — as opposed to comics like Superman, where you know you’re in a state of perpetual middle.

Now because these single-story series can almost never involve an iconic character, and often are done by a creator who is relatively unknown as the series begins, the titles that fit into this category quite often start off small, with a handful of readers who spread the word. The book gains critical acclaim, rolls on, and eventually may be known of as a classic. But only those handful of people who were there at the beginning got the story the way it was intended. Others scrambled for the trade paperbacks or scoured the back issue bins, or sometimes just jumped in the middle. It’s impossible to predict which of these series will take off, so the speculation doesn’t really work.

Perhaps the best known example of this kind of comic is Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. Gaiman, at the time, was a little-known writer with a handful of credits to his name who pitched a series about the Jack Kirby incarnation of the Sandman, the one who lived in a sort of space station and monitored people’s dreams. DC liked the idea but, alas, that Sandman was already in use in the title Infinity, Inc., so they asked him to create a new character.

Fast-forward 75 issues and you have one of the most acclaimed comic book series of all time, about the King of the Dreams, his undying siblings, the power of story and imagination and everything else. It’s regarded as a classic. It’s the only comic ever to win a World Fantasy Award. And most importantly (for purposes of this discussion), it’s a book that DC let Gaiman end when his story was done.

Dave Sim’s Cerebus took this form of storytelling to the extreme, setting out to do a 300-issue series that would chronicle the entire life of his aardvark hero, and he succeeded. He riled up a lot of people, got a lot of people mad, but he told a tale that, like it or not, is unparalleled in scope in comic book history.

Sometimes you’re lucky enough to get in on that ground floor. A few years ago, thumbing through the Previews catalogue, I noticed a new series in the works from the Vertigo imprint about fairy tale characters living in the modern world. The premise intrigued me and the writer, Bill Willingham, was somebody I’d grown to respect for his work on various Sandman Presents projects. So I put Fables in my pull folder, reasoning I could just ditch it after the first story arc if I didn’t like it. Oh, but I liked it. It’s now my favorite comic every single month, and when I listen to people talk about how great it is and other people ask when they can start reading it, I just smile because I lucked out enough to get into it from the very beginning.

My favorite example of this kind of story, though, has to be Jeff Smith’s Bone. This was one where I was lucky enough to get in relatively early, with issue #13. I picked up the trade paperbacks of the first 12 issues and I was set to follow the Bone cousins for about the next ten years in their adventures through the valley, against the stupid, stupid rat creatures and the Lord of the Locusts and unravelling the mysteries surrounding Thorn Harvestar.

When this remarkable series finally reached its conclusion last year, I told as many people as would listen to pick the thing up, to get the trade paperbacks or the color reprints or the big mama-jama one-volume edition.

But last weekend it occurred to me, as much as promoting Bone is a good thing, perhaps it would also behoove me to try to find that next big thing, that new comic that nobody knows about yet but is rife with potential, and tell people about it while they still have time to get in on the ground floor.

That thought came to me because I was reading that next comic nobody knows about yet. And it’s Runners by Sean Wang.

Published by Serve Man Press, the first Runners miniseries, Bad Goods recently concluded its five-issue run with the promise of more to come. The basic premise of this miniseries is that a group of outer-space runners — a crew that transports cargo from one planet to another — discovers a mysterious blue woman that they suspect may have come from the vats they’re transporting, meaning someone is using them in a slave ring. Despite that kind of heavy premise, the comic is really a rip-roaring, old-fashioned sci-fi adventure, with plenty of lighthearted moments, wonderful artwork that’s just begging to be made into an animated movie, and some of the coolest alien designs I’ve seen in a very, very long time.

While I was reading those first five issues, though, I felt like there was something deeper here. It read as though Sean Wang has serious plans for this title, and he was just sort of easing us in on the lighthearted stuff before launching into the full-on space opera that this title has the potential to become. I haven’t felt that way about a comic in a long time.

Not, in fact, since those early issues of Bone where we had a goofy cow race disguising the fact that the valley was about to be plunged into war.

Yeah. I think it could be that good.

So I’ve got to thank Sean Wang for passing the first four comics into Ronée’s capable hands, I’ve gotta thank Ronée for letting me read them, and I’ve got to thank the manager of BSI Comics for going to great lengths to snag a copy of the final issue for me. Otherwise, I may never have known about this comic.

And I may never have had the chance to tell you to try it out. The first five issue miniseries is available at the www.SeanWang.com, and a trade paperback is in the works… and Wang promises that the story will continue. I can’t wait.

So how about an assignment, folks? Kind of like with my “best comics I’ve never read” columns, I want you guys to suggest some of the best new comics out there, ones you think nobody knows about yet but that you want people to try because you see real potential. A miniseries can qualify if it’s the sort of thing that’ll be a series of miniseries, or it can be an ongoing, but let’s say anything less than 12 issues into the run. Anything beyond that and it’s not really the ground floor anymore, is it?

And check out Runners: Bad Goods! It’s worth the hunt.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: March 2, 2005

From the ground floor to the skyscraper, last week’s favorite is kind of the opposite of what we talked about this week, the final issue of a comic that told one story from beginning to end. Although the title was hurt by a forced hiatus to deal with some legal matters, Rising Stars #24 ended J. Michael Straczynski’s epic in real style. The story is resolved, questions are answered, and things all really come full-circle. In typical Straczynski style, this final issue was really more of an epilogue than the actual finale, but it did give us something I never thought we’d get — the truth about the flash that gave the Specials their powers. And it was a simple, beautiful explanation. Now that this series is over, now that people can read the whole thing, I feel confidant that this will make its way alongside the acknowledged masterpieces of the superhero genre.

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginnerand 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.comand visit him on the web at Evertime Realms.Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page.

16
Jun
10

EBI Classic: Down With Da OG(N)

My original plan for Time Travel Tuesdays was to post old Think About It columns, old Everything But Imaginary columsn, and anything else I could find. That was before Comixtreme.com went through its software upgrade, making the whole forum a hell of a lot cooler and simultaneously wiping out hundreds of old EBI columns. Rather than take a full seven years to represent that lost content while mixing it in with other stuff, I decided I’m going to simply re-present the old EBI columns here on Wednesdays, since most Wednesdays at Evertime Realms don’t feature anything except a link to the current EBI column anyway.

We’re gonna start with a column from October 15, 2003. As you can tell, even then my mastery of street slang was unsurpassed…

Down With Da OG(N)

These days, comic book storytelling is focusing more and more on the bookstore market — collected editions, graphic novels, products like that. Some people see this as an evolution of the storytelling form, with comic book tales shifting towards longer arc that are, often times, predetermined for a certain paperback collection. Others embrace bookstores as a chance to get the product out of the specialty shops and into the hands of new readers who otherwise may never have thrilled to the potential inherent in sequential art. Some may simply prefer the bookstore to the comic shop because there are more single women and a better coffee bar.

All of these are, of course, perfectly legitimate theories, and whatever the reason, paperback and hardcover editions of comics books are becoming more popular than ever before. Some of them are even produced specifically for the graphic novel form, eschewing the traditional magazine format entirely, and these original graphic novels, I think, deserve a little time in the spotlight to shine.

Sandman: Endless NightsComics legend Will Eisner is often credited with creating the graphic novel form with his book, A Contract With God. In the decades since then, we’ve reached a point where these books are actually gaining some mainstream attention, with Neil Gaiman’s recent Sandman: Endless Nights actually cracking its way onto the fabled New York Times bestseller list. What is it about this specific book that gave it this boost? I think it’s several factors. First, there is Gaiman’s seemingly invincible level of popularity, not just among comic book readers, but among readers of general fantasy as well. Second, it featured the return of a favorite creator to the property he made into a masterpiece. Look at how high the sales were when Frank Miller did The Dark Knight Strikes Again. Readers love to see this kind of match-up. Third, the book had an all-star lineup of internationally acclaimed artists, most of whom had never worked with Gaiman before, some of whom had never worked in an American comic before. Having Milo Manara illustrate the Desire story was absolutely inspired.

Original graphic novels are often thought of in terms of more offbeat, less mainstream projects like these, but superheroes can make a strong showing in the format as well. Take last year’s JLA/JSA: Virtue and Vice hardcover, written by David Goyer and Geoff Johns with Carlos Pacheco on pencils. Goyer and Johns had been doing great work for some time on the regular JSA comic — well-drawn characters with classic, old-school, mega-blowout superhero action. With this title, I became convinced that the powers that be at DC Comics should hand them the reigns to the Justice League as well. The two heaviest hitting teams in comics joined forces to battle numerous threats from across the years of their respective histories. Lots of action, spot-on characterization, and beautiful artwork.

My favorite original graphic novel in recent years, however, is one I’ll bet almost none of you have read, or even heard of. It’s a great black-and-white volume put out by TopShelf Productions last year, a sci-fi fantasy religious comedy dramatic romance epic called Creature Tech. The book is created, written and drawn by Doug TenNapel, who is best known as the creator of the Earthworm Jim video game, and he brings some of the same zany sensibilities to this book while at the same time dealing with something much bigger and deeper.

Creature Tech is the story of Dr. Michael Ong, a rational young genius scientist who has abandoned his faith, much to the chagrin of his minister father. He takes a job with Research Tech, a government lab that studies extraterrestrial and supernatural artifacts, known as “Creature Tech” by the locals. Ong becomes accidentally bonded to an alien symbiote that grants him amazing power, but can’t be removed because the symbiote damages the heart of its host during the bonding process. Meanwhile, the ghost of a mad scientist steals the Shroud of Turin (yes, that Shroud of Turin) from Creature Tech as part of a crazy scheme for power and it’s up to Dr. Ong, along with a giant grasshopper and an alien mummy, to save the world.

It sounds crazy. It sounds wacky. It is. But it’s really, really good. Not only is this science fiction adventure at its finest, but TenNapel gets bonus points in my book for unapologetically making religion and faith (specifically Christianity) such an integral part of the story without stooping to cheap jokes or pot-shots against people with those beliefs. To the contrary, in a book where virtually every character could have easily fallen into the trap of becoming one stereotype or another, TenNapel fleshes each of them out, making even the goofy giant grasshopper a real character with real emotions and real courage.

It’s the kind of story that you just wouldn’t have seen from one of the big publishers.

It’s the kind of story you can really only get in an original graphic novel.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: October 8, 2003

H-E-R-O #9, continuing the reimagining of the classic H-dial, topped my list last week with the story of a two-bit thug in Gotham City who happens to stumble upon the dial that has been transforming people into superheroes across the country. The dial grants powers and a costume, but does nothing to change a person’s basic motivation, meaning that when a crook punches in “H-E-R-O,” he’s still a crook even when he’s got his cape and tights.

Will Pfeifer tells a story in this issue that reminds me very much of another underappreciated DC title, Gotham Central. Like that cop drama, this issue was about a character living in a city constantly under the shadow of the Batman without ever actually showing him, and Pfeifer did it particularly well.

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 Blake@comixtreme.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page.

22
Oct
09

Halloween Party: Half-Minute Horrors

Half-Minute HorrorsNot every book that screams “Halloween” is a Hard-R gorefest. As a teacher, I’m always looking for books I think would be of interest to kids and young teenagers who may not be quite ready for the Stephen Kings of the literary universe. Half-Minute Horrors may be just the thing for a quick scare for kids around the campfire this Halloween.

Edited by Susan Rich, this anthology features dozens of flash fiction pieces by pretty well-known names in young reader’s fiction: Neil Gaiman, R.L. Stine, Lemony Snicket, James Patterson and plenty of others. Each writer has contributed a very short scary story — most no more than two pages, some shorter than that. There are even a couple of brief comic book pages, and a one-page illustration that appears to be a simple diagram, but actually tells a wonderfully quick, satisfying story.

With stories this short, it’s difficult to review any of them individually. Taken on the whole, I was really impressed with this book. While none of the contributions is so intense as to be disgusting or offensive to the very young, there are a lot of solid, creepy tales, several clever anecdotes, and even a few stories that left me chuckling at the end.

Short stories are becoming a lost art. To tell a story this short,and make it entertaining, is an art form in and of itself. And if you need any further incentive to give this volume a try, you should know that the proceeds from its sale don’t go to the writers, but to First Books, a charity dedicated to providing books to underprivileged children. It’s a noble thing, to give food or clothes to a child in need, but a good book nourishes the soul, and this is one small way to be a part of that. If you’ve got a kid in your life looking for a Halloween treat, consider this one.

07
Jun
09

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 122: Battle For the Cowl and the NEW Batman Family

Back in Episode 106, when Battle For the Cowl was yet to begin, the Showcase boys looked at the possible candidates for the Batman mantle and the state of the Batman family as a whole. With Battle For the Cowl over, the guys give their impressions of the story, the spinoffs, the new Batman and Robin team, Neil Gaiman‘s Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader, and their thoughts on the new comics that are about to comprise the Batman universe! Plus — you want picks of the week? We’ll give you picks of the week! Mike gives us Supergirl #41, Chase takes X-Force #15, and Blake presents Muppet Robin Hood #1 and this week’s graphic novel pick, Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool. Write us with comments, suggestions, picks of the week, “Ask Chase Anything” questions, or anything else at Showcase@comixtreme.com!

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 122: Battle For the Cowl and the NEW Batman Family
Inside This Episode:

PLUS:The boys go through a lot of stuff this week, beginning with the sad passings of a pair of Davids, the first issue of Batman and Robin, major announcements from E3, and the television returns of Torchwood, Doctor Who, the Muppets, and Conan O’Brien (and his mysteriously familiar set)! Then, the guys get into it with the Captain America #600 controversy! All this and more in your Week in Geek!

Week in Geek #23: Captain America, Muppets, and More!

28
Apr
09

Everything But Imaginary 305: FCBD 2009-A Day That Will Live in Geekfamy

In a few days, comic book fans will converge on America’s shops to get their hands on a flock of FREE comic books! You should go too. Here’s why.

Everything But Imaginary #305: FCBD 2009-A Day That Will Live in Geekfamy
Inside This Column:




Blake’s Twitter Feed

January 2020
S M T W T F S
« Dec    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Blog Stats

  • 311,255 hits

Most Viewed Posts This Week

Blake's Flickr Photos

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.