29 September, 2012

What I Read Last Month…

What I read last…
April 2012
 Beginnings, by many various. 

A nicely chunky read, full of short stories of varying length and accomplishment, but most importantly, varying in style and genre. Very nicely printed and finished. 

 The List, Volumes I, II and III, by Paul Bedford, Henry Pop and Tom Bonin. 

This is quite the arduous horror and gore story. Often sparse and consciously lacking in unnecessary dialogue, completely lacking in captions, and comfortably taking its time to get where it's going. 
Each volume gets progressively thicker, and it's not really until the third of them that I finally felt caught up in the story. 
There's a collected single volume now available. 

The Dark Detective: Sherlock Holmes #7, by Christopher Sequiera, Phil Cornel, Dave Elsey and Paul Mason. 

Continuing Holmes' run-in with Frankenstein's monster, this is pretty dense and verbose, relying heavily on dialogue and spoken exposition. Fab if you like the depth and backstory being injected, not so if you want to cut to the chase. Period appropriate art throughout. 

Mongrel #2, by Bernard Caleo. 

How does Caleo do it? I just KNOW this is set in Melbourne and no where else. His well-practiced ability to create a Melbourne-centric sense of place goes all the way back to his (and Tolley's) earlier great Yell & Olé and The False Impressionists
I favour this issue – a more realist drama served in the 10 or so pages – to the fantastical treatment of historical characters of #1. As Caleo says though, at only 20 pages in, the story's not even begun yet.

The Thing That Should Not Be #s 1, 2 and 3, by Chris Hale, Wen Huang, Joshua Regan, and Mark Withington. 

This is a really good little anthology, printing material by the same four contributors each issue. This steady contributor line-up helps with what can often be an odious task when following serial anthologies of getting used to new creators every issue, and the possibility of not getting the same level of quality issue to issue. It also makes it quite obvious that this is to be a showcase for these four, which is a good thing. 
There are four very different styles here, which means the reader's not going to get bored, and they're mostly really good, which means any disappointment, if there is any, is short lived and slight.  

Mongrel #3, by Bernard Caleo. 

Caleo deftly outlines a new character (Salvation Jane) in a mere eight pages in this issue: her personality, resolve, determination, allure and attraction, relationships with two men whom she works with, and probably how influential to the developing story she'll be. And really, I don't like her already. But in a good, good way. 

26 September, 2012

Review: Love Puppets #s 2 & 3.

Love Puppets #s 2 & 3. 
Jessica McLeod and Edward J. Grug III. 
Monster Robot Industries, 2008 and 2009, 24pp each, A5, about $5 each.  

Although I'm reviewing both of these issues at the one time, they are a little different from each other. Love Puppets #2 and #3 don't feature the same characters or storyline, but they are both created by McLeod & Grug, and they both inhabit the same world — a world where everybody are puppets. That's the interesting and catchy thing about this series: all the characters are some sort of puppet; a glove puppet, a string puppet, a full-costume puppet, etc., but definitely a puppet. Why is that? No reason I suppose. A stylistic choice would be my guess, just as some people draw comics where all the characters are animals for no reason other than stylistic choice. I suppose there's also the possibility of a shortcut to character and personality through the type/look of puppet. Or maybe the 'G' simply fell off the term 'Glove Puppets'? It definitely makes the whole thing a heck of a lot cuter! And boy, is it cute! 

Issue 2 is a lovely tale that takes place in the same café as issue 1 did (if I remember correctly), and concerns the boss, a book signing, and food. To say any more would probably give too much away because, although these comics are about 24 pages long each, they're definitely quick reads, which, as well as being light and airy, are quite linear and to the point plot-wise. This is not a complaint, it's storytelling that's well suited here, successfully getting the single-issue tale satisfyingly told. To be honest, my memory of finishing issue 1 was that it looked like I was in for a continuing soap opera style storyline, and I'm pleasantly surprised that it's not the case; I'd much rather see what other inhabitants of the Love Puppets world are also up to. 

While issue 2 is quite cute and quaint, issue 3 has a slightly darker tone to it. I really hesitate to use the word "darker" at all because really there's almost nothing in these comics that could be called dark in any way, they're so lovely. Issue 3 however does feature a character who's quite distasteful and a sexual opportunist, which puts more of an anxious edge to the general feeling of the issue.

The art in both is bold and cartoony, with an unlaboured mono-weight pen line throughout, sometimes with a thicker line for emphasis or to make a character stand out from the background. The layouts are all clear and usually easy to read. It's all very unpretentious and honest with not a ruled line or computer typeface in sight, which helps add to its likeable indy flavour. 

For a bunch of "puppets", there's an awful lot of emoting and acting on each page. A lot of this is due to pacing and layout, with a fearless use of silent panels at the right times and places. A lot of it is also due to nice character work and acting in the drawing. It may be simplistic in style, but I think deceptively so, with so much information, both plot and emotion, being communicated very directly. There are a few times where the draftsmanship looked a little on the clumsy side for my liking, but I'm sure that would once again be chalked up to the indy style of the work, and I only noted it in a panel here or there. 

Between the two of them, issue 2 was my favourite, if only because of the lovely way the story unfolds – cockle-warming, if you know what I mean. That being said, it's certainly not as if issue 3 is a disappointment in any way, just a different story with a different set-up.  

The cute style, idiosyncratic story telling, and the effortless way the puppet characters are made believable make these books worth your while picking up or ordering from the creators. I enjoyed them and so did my (then) 11 year old daughter. Make sure you get number 1 while you're at it too.

16 September, 2012

What I Watched Last Month…

What I watched last… 
March 2012

John Carter. (at the movies)
As I feared, this was disappointing.
Unsurprisingly, considering I've read the book, my biggest problem was the sweeping changes made to the story and characterisation, and the mind-boggling additional elements that in my opinion were not only unnecessary, but also contributed to complicating what is already quite a wide ranging story with a very large cast of characters.
There were some really great bits, but they were in low supply and quick to pass. It certainly looked good as far as production design goes and I honestly forgot for most of the time that the CG characters and other elements were in fact CG.
This should have been epic, raw, bold and savage, but we only got glimpses of that. The book was written by an untested amateur, while this movie was made by a seasoned professional, but I have to say the book was better.

12 September, 2012

Supanova Sydney 2012

I thought I'd post a few pictures from last June's Sydney Supanova which marked the 10th anniversary of the event in the city where it all started. 

It was a great weekend, with our biggest turnout ever! As such, it was a pretty busy weekend for me and I didn't get to take many photos during opening hours, but I'll share a few that I do have. 

How busy was it..?
The Artists' Ally list was the longest at Supanova ever.
The exhibitor list was the longest at Supanova ever.
The Supa-Star guest list was the longest at Supanova ever.
Sunday was the biggest Supanova Sunday ever.
Saturday was the biggest Supanova DAY ever.
The weekend was the biggest Supanova ever, with 28,400 fans, nerds, geeks, collectors and aficionados in attendance! 

It was awesome.

Full disclosure: I'm one of the founders of Supanova, art direct it, and have a financial stake in the business. 

 Friday night, and it all begins…

 Friday night is Preview Night for weekend pass holders, and at the Opening Ceremony there was a rousing chorus of 'Happy Birthday' in honour of Supanova's 1oth anniversary. 
Many of our guests were on stage there, and so was Supanova Actual Daniel Zachariou. 

Friday night also saw a comic book masterclass given to an attentive audience by the erudite and articulate, as well as incredibly talented, David Mack.

Saturday morning found Sydney under a slightly drizzly sky, and so Supanova allowed the masses of crowds to wait in a 'holding bay' instead of outside in the rain. I stitched three photos together to show the enormity of the numbers. Can you count all the Pikachu onesies?!?

We had some wonderful comic book guests. In these two shots, from left to right, there's Kara and Tony Moore, Jim Cheung, David Mack and Nicola Scott

Speaking of comic book artists, Artists' Alley was huge. Here's a shot of one of the three packed AAs.

 Three photos stitched together for this panoramic view of the exhibitor floor. 

 Some of the wonderful crowd. 

And some more. 

 While an enormous and enthusiastic audience listened to Christopher (Back to the Future, Addams Family, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) Lloyd

  …my daughter was lucky enough to hang out with the lovely Hex (Stephanie Bendixsen) from Good Game!

Thanks for turning on the beautiful Sydney weather for Sunday, Olympic Park! 
See ya next year! 

03 September, 2012

What I Read Last Month…

What I read in… 
March 2012
Guh #s 1-5, by Jase Harper.
I bought the full collection of Guh from Jase Harper's Etsy store and I urge you to do the same. 
Full review coming soon. 

The Deep: Here Be Dragons, by Tom Taylor and James Brouwer.
A fabulous fun adventure comic for all ages. 
Full review is on it's way. 

Prophet #22, by Brandon Graham and Simon Roy, Fil Barlow.
I bought this primarily to read the Fil Barlow back-up story, but I've heard so many good things about the series that I was equally as curious about the main story, especially considering this is a single issue in an on-going storyline. 
It's quite the interesting sci-fi tale, or a chapter thereof. Even with no knowledge of what it was all about going in I really enjoyed my time here. There's a strong European sensibility to this, both art and story, and enough quirky and interesting things happening, told in such a way as to not spoon feed but also to not be impenetrable, that it's made me likely to pick up a trade paperback sooner or later. 
The Barlow short story lived up to my high expectations. Witty and weird, delving once again into his ongoing Zooniverse oeuvre, presenting us with another Zoon cultural oddity, its hang-ups and foibles, while simultaneously having a satirical dig at our own western culture. Brilliant cartooning in this a welcome return of the Zooniverse and I'm super keen to see the upcoming stories Barlow has promised. 

New Avengers Vol. 8: Secret Invasion Book 1, by various.
I really don't know how anybody reads these sort of comics on a month-to-month basis. Some of the chapters in this book — each chapter being an issue of the monthly comic — give so little story it's almost criminal. Then there are other chapters that cover years and years worth of plot and backstory, but in such a matter of fact and flat fashion as to totally rob the telling of any sense of awe or scope regardless of it's star-spanning repercussions. 
I would much rather see all these brutally separated sections of such a large story woven into the over arching plot as simultaneous threads and subplots. 
The brightest part of this volume for me is the clear, clean, enjoyably traditional art of Jim Cheung. Even though I can see so many of his influences hardly disguised by being barely integrated into his own style, he tells the story solidly and with flair. The other art present is not bad by any standard, and every chapter has an artist whose style is more or less appropriate for it, but they're not my cup of tea for the most part. 
I had supposed reading this single volume would give me a nice chunky read, and instead I feel like I got a bunch of disconnected episodes or vignettes, all too fleetingly burned through.