Six by 6
Today’s Six by 6 sprang out of a recent post Comics Reporter Tom Spurgeon did on five of his favorite superhero fights. It’s a pretty excellent list and made me want to come up with my own, though I thought I might see if I could expand it a bit by staying away from the superhero genre and moving into other realms. What great fights could I find in the world of manga or alt-comix, I wondered?
Turns out I didn’t have to look too far. I should note though that this list is by no means definitive — it’s simply a list of six comic book battles that I like a whole lot. I’ve probably forgotten some. Actually I’ve probably forgotten plenty. Feel free to let me know what I’ve overlooked in the comments section.
Like you, I’m all a-twitter about the release of those Carl Barks books from Fantagraphics later this year. (you are a-twitter, aren’t you?) Not to mention Craig Thompson’s Habibi, Paul Pope’s Battling Boy, Chester Brown’s Paying for It and that Grant Morrison Multiversity mini-series. And, hey, maybe we’ll even see the first volume of Pogo! Yep, by any yardstick, it seems like 2011 promises to be another year of really great releases.
But, even beyond the big-name titles and huge company crossovers, there are a number of comics and graphic novels arriving in stores this year that warrant further attention. They may have not have garnered much of your notice, since they’re not attached to a well-known creator or license or come from overseas. Here then, are six such books, all due this year, all of which I’m willing to bet good money aren’t on your radar, but should be. As usual, be sure to note any books you’re excited about but haven’t generated much buzz yet in the comments section.
1) The Man Who Grew His Beard by Olivier Schrauwen (Fantagraphics). If you’ve had the lucky opportunity to read Schrauwen’s My Boy, or perused his work in the anthology Mome, then you’ll know this Belgian artist is the real deal — a true, utterly unique and frequently inspired cartoonist who draws upon century-old cartooning styles (McCay, Outcault) to create something contemporary and frequently bizarre. This is the first American collection of Schrauwen’s work and I’m really excited to see him reach a potentially wider audience. Actually, I’m just excited to read more of an artist I’ve only been able to catch in dribs and drabs.
It happens every year. Amidst all the hullaballoo of the big-name releases and show-stopping events and sleeper hits there are those titles that, for whatever reason, fail to generate any reviews, discussion or sales (or in some cases all three) whatsoever. 2010 was no exception. In fact, the wealth of stellar material that was released this year made it seem like there were an extraordinary number of great comics that garnered not even a peep from the blogosphere and press.
After the jump are six books that I think got nowhere near the amount of attention they deserved. There are lots more that I could include if I had the time. And I’m sure there are books that you read that you don’t think got enough praise as well. Be sure to let me know what they are in the comments section.
Dirty comics have been around almost as long as the medium itself. No doubt a few years after the Yellow Kid first appeared, some wiseacre created a Tijuana Bible of him getting busy with Buster Brown’s mom.
Sadly, most of the sex comics produced over the years are awful, dreary affairs — works that either feature abysmal art and writing or indulge in such ugly stereotypes (or both), so that you feel ashamed for all the people involved, including yourself for having read the thing.
But there are a few gems amidst the x-rated dross. Below are six smut-laden books that, while you may not want to be caught reading them on the bus, can proudly display on your bookshelf without embarrassment.
I had a couple of self-imposed rules with this one. First of all, the comic had to be sexually explicit. Second, it had to be primarily designed to titillate the reader, thus nixing darker, serious work like Phoebe Gloeckner’s A Child’s Life.
Also, I’m sure there are plenty of books I’m forgetting about (catering to my own tastes, there’s a focus on heterosexual fare here), so feel free to mention your own particular favorites in the comments section. You naughty thing you.
Finally, while I’ve tried to keep everything below the jump relatively safe for work, I can’t promise that all the links will be PG-rated, so caveat emptor.
Horror comics fans have plenty of material to choose from when looking for a good, scary read this Halloween. Even if we just confine ourselves to manga (since, as we all know, the Japanese cartoonists excel at scaring the pants off their readers), there are plenty of options, from grand guginol pieces like MDP-Psycho or Ultra Gash Inferno, to more traditional, semi-bloody, spooky fare like Presents or Mail. Still, there are plenty of great, terrifying, mind-blowing manga that would delight the hardcore American horrorist if only some enterprising publisher would make an attempt at publishing them. Here are just six titles that I’d like to see translated and released in book form some time in the near future:
(Note: A potentially NSFW image lurks beneath the jump)
Editor’s note: As a part of Robot 666 Week, we welcome guest contributor Van Jensen, writer of Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer and its upcoming sequel.
by Van Jensen
I was on a panel with Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson to discuss horror comics earlier this year, and I admitted that I didn’t really like horror as a genre. I can’t even see a trailer for Saw MCXVII (or whatever number they’re up to) without feeling repulsed. But Steve and Bernie talked me down from the ledge. The problem isn’t so much with the horror genre, it’s with the trend of comics and movies that use gore as a substitute for real fright. So here’s my list of favorite horror comics and films, and they’re all projects that rely heavily on atmosphere and thrills (the real hallmarks of horror) rather than buckets of blood.
1. House, by Josh Simmons.
Simmons’ debut graphic novel is a relatively simple story, with three teenagers exploring a giant old house in the woods. Things go wrong, which is predictable, but in an unpredictable way. Simmons uses no words through the entire story, but his real accomplishment is utilizing the design of the pages to deliver an increasingly claustrophobic, disorienting and terrifying story.
After 18 years, former Image studio and current DC Comics imprint WildStorm is shutting down this December. And as many have noted already, the house that Jim built has produced many awesome, memorable and even game-changing (to steal a phrase from Rob Liefeld) works in the last two decades.
Here are six of them that we found to be particularly awesome; let us know what we missed in the comments section.
1. Sleeper: There have been many comics that mash up superheroes with down-and-dirty genres like crime and espionage over the past decade; this may just be the best. The high concept is a gripping one: Super-spy Holden Carver is so deep undercover in an international super-criminal organization that when his one contact is placed in a coma, literally no one knows he’s secretly on the side of the angels. Carver’s predicament, the way he plays and gets played by both sides, his growing unwillingness or inability to draw the ethical lines needed to save his soul, if not his life–such is the stuff of a great crime drama. Superstar in the making Ed Brubaker brings all his talents and obsessions to the table here: his knack for crafting morally compromised characters while neither romanticizing their misdeeds nor softening them up, his recurring theme of how the secrets and sins of our pasts never truly leave us, his belief that damaged people seek out other damaged people to repair that damage, his eye for and ability to work with strong visual stylists. In this case that meant Sean Phillips, never better in his ability to believably root spectacular action and super-powers in a naturalist-noir milieu. All of this in a WildC.A.T.s spinoff, proving just how wild WildStorm was once willing to go.
Even its relatively short run redounds to its benefit: The complete story of Holden Carver is yours to own inexpensively, read easily, and ponder at your leisure. (Sean T. Collins)
Today’s Marvel announcement, regarding its intention to utilize CrossGen’s concepts at least partially in an attempt to do “a little more genre publishing” in 2011, was rather lean in terms of details. But don’t think that stopped Michael May and myself from compiling a Six by 6 list of CrossGen series we’d like to see return (in some form) and the folks we’d like to see creating them. As always with these lists, we’d love to read your input for what CrossGen properties and/or creators you’d like to see return in 2011.
1. Sojourn. Remember when everyone loved Greg Land? I do, because Sojourn was my favorite CrossGen series and apparently a lot of other people liked it too since it was one of the last to be canceled by the spiraling company. Arwen was a gorgeous, badass hero with a cool dog and a quest to collect five shards of a magic arrow that could kill the evil sorceror Mordath. It sounds like standard fantasy stuff, but Land’s detailed, realistic artwork (no one accused him of tracing back then) brought it to life. He wasn’t solely responsible for its success though. Ron Marz’s writing elevated the characters and situations from genre cliches to honest tragedy and human stories. I’d love it if Marvel could get him back on the book. Land too, if he can still produce the kind of work he did back in the day. (Michael May)
With Comic-Con International looming, you can expect to see all sorts of announcements about future projects from comic companies over the next week. I reached out to the rest of the Robot 6 crew to see what announcements they were hoping to hear at the con; keep in mind this is strictly a “wish list,” based on what we’d love to hear vs. what we expect to hear.
1. Flex Mentallo and Rick Veitch Swamp Thing announcements for “Vertigo Resurrected”: With the announcement that the Warren Ellis/Phil Jimenez Hellblazer story “Shoot” will finally see print under the just announced “Vertigo Resurrected” banner, one can hope that plans are in the works for the DC imprint to finally print Rick Veitch’s aborted Swamp Thing meets Jesus story and collect the Flex Mentallo mini-series into a trade paperback. One can hope. (JK Parkin)
2. Wednesday Comics 2: We’ve already listed what we’d like to see in it a few months back, so it’s about time that DC Comics announced the follow-up to their successful Wednesday Comics series from last summer. With a ‘Mazing Man strip, of course… (suggested by Tom Bondurant)
by Cullen Bunn
This is an exercise in nostalgia for me. My collaborator on The Sixth Gun, Brian Hurtt, suggested this topic, and he said he could probably guess the projects I’d mention. Anyone who talks to me long enough will have a pretty good idea of the books that meant a lot to me during my formative years. Hell, you might think most of my comic book influences came out of one of those Whitman 3-packs so prevalent in Piggly Wiggly and Stuckey’s in the 70s. Well, you might be right. I think every comic creator has a list of a dozen or so books they’d love to work on. Here are just a few of the titles I’d love to take a crack at reinventing or re-imagining. I could easily create a second (and maybe a third) list of six projects I’d love to tackle. Rom: Spaceknight … Scare Tactics … Blackwulf … Warlock 5 … The list goes on and on … but the following list are the dream jobs that pop most readily into my skull.
Keep in mind, this isn’t about blowing anyone away with these notions. It’s about daydreaming.
Easily my pick for favorite comic book of all time. I credit The Micronauts with getting me into collecting comics … not just reading, but really collecting. I can remember the first day I stumbled onto an issue of the book very clearly … from picking it up at the grocery store to reading it a dozen or so times in the back room of my dad’s office. For a comic about a line of toys, The Micronauts (like ROM: Spaceknight) tore past its humble origins into something really special. Of course, I would almost kill to write their story.
Editor’s Note: One-time Robot 6 guest blogger Sam Humphries, who has a story in tomorrow’s Mouse Guard/Fraggle Rock Special Edition Flip-Book, pays us a visit today to share some of his thoughts on Fraggle Rock. And if you’re in the L.A. area, be sure to stop by Meltdown Comics tomorrow to meet Sam.
I know what you’re thinking. Who is this guy to tell me which Fraggle Rock episodes will blow my mind? I mean, how presumptuous, right?
Dude, I know. I did not even grow up with Fraggle Rock. The Rock was on HBO and there was no HBO in the house. HBO showed boobies and Mama Humphries did not play like that. I am not that person who has held Fraggles in their hearts since their formative years.
But I did write a story for Archaia’s new Fraggle Rock comic anthology, illustrated by Jeremy “Eisner nominated for Bayou” Love. You can find our Fraggle tale in the Mouse Guard/Fraggle Rock Special Edition Flip-Book, available at comic book stores everywhere, for FREE, on May 1st — otherwise known as Free Comic Book Day! Ah, the nice price.
If you’re near Los Angeles, come on down to Meltdown in Hollywood, where Jeremy and I will be signing copies of the free Fraggle book. Astoundingly, Red Fraggle herself will also be in attendance. Karen Prell, the OG puppeteer of Red on the Fraggle Rock show, will be there with the original Muppet, meeting fans, singing songs, and taking pictures as Red Fraggle.
So, watching Fraggle Rock for the first time as someone old enough to attend rated R films alone, I got to enjoy the series with eyes unclouded by nostalgia. And I realized: for a “kids” show, Fraggle Rock is a mind freak.
Emboldened by the success of the previous Muppet franchises, Jim Henson and company didn’t flinch from daring themselves to new heights of spectacular puppet feats. And when it came to the themes of the series, they didn’t hesitate to go deep — way deep. Compared to the groovy sunshine sessions of Sesame Street and the upbeat let’s-put-on-a-show enthusiasm of the Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock is the slightly moody teenage cousin of the bunch.
The result? A multi-layered head trip for all ages. Sure, there’s plenty of exuberant songs, bright colors, and cute foam creatures, but Gobo, Red, Wembly, Mokey, and Boober Fraggle spent most episodes exploring dark, complicated passageways of existence. It’s no surprise that Fraggle Rock has the most “cult” fanbase of the three series.
Whether you are new to the Rock or a big fan from way back, there’s plenty of crazy on this list to rock your world. Here, for your lid-flipping pleasure, are are Six Fraggle Rock Episodes That Will Blow Your Mind.
At the end of any given year, when critics and fans pull together their list of favorites and best-ofs, there are always the books that get left behind, the titles that, for one reason or another, don’t get the critical acclaim and discussion they deserve. We’ve all got our list of books we feel were unjustly ignored. The following is my own list of six titles I think were underrated or insufficiently praised. It skews heavily towards the Fanta/D&Q side of things, but such are the vagaries of my interests at the moment. Feel free to argue about my choices or make some of your own in the comments section.
As with Tom Spurgeon and Dirk Deppey (scroll down, it’s at the halfway point), I found myself thoroughly irked at Ranker.com’s incredibly superhero-heavy list of the “10 Most Important Gay Moments in Comic Book History.”
It’s not that the list focuses exclusively on DC and Marvel’s cape-and-Spandex output — that’s fine, so long as you’re willing to add a qualifier or two in your heading and introduction. What truly rankles is author Eric Diaz’s attempt to claim that this list is definitive, i.e. the “most important” moments evar, even though it conveniently ignores any comic that wasn’t published by DC or Marvel (and I’m sorry, but jokes about Batman and Robin’s “special relationship” don’t count). The best comparison I could make would be writing a post entitled the “Best Movies of the 20th Century” and then only including action films. Directed by Michael Bay.
Had Diaz gone outside his reading habits and taken five minutes to do some research, or at least done a Google search for “lgbt comics,” he would have found an large number of books, graphic novels, comic strips and what have you that carry more cultural weight than Rictor swapping spit with Shatterstar.
But rather than howl at the winds I thought I’d attempt to respond by offering my own simple list. This by no means meant to be a definitive or authoritative (or even necessarily matches my own reading tastes and preferences). Rather, I just looked at my bookshelves and quickly pulled off six gay- or lesbian-themed comics I thought were either more influential or aesthetically pleasing than anything Diaz came up with. It really wasn’t very difficult.
Horror can be a tricky genre for comics. They can’t engage in the same sort of “Boo!” surprises that, say, movies like Halloween can, mainly because the pictures are all laid out for you as you’re reading. It’s too easy for your eye to jump ahead and see that the big, bad monster is going to pop out of the casket three panels from now.
But if comics can’t service that sort of immediate shock to the system (at least not very well) then where the medium does excel is in connoting dread, in prolonging tension, and in completely unnerving you. When done right, a good scary comic book can linger with you for a lot longer than your average Saw or Friday the 13th sequel.
With that in mind, JK Parkin and I came up with are six comics that at various points in our lives, had us checking under the bed or otherwise kept us awake all night. Be sure to add your own traumatic experiences in the comments section.
Most of the nurses, hospice workers, police officers, and firefighters I know have a funny outlook on death. Funny because it’s strange and different than the usual nervousness and fear, but also funny because… well, because they giggle about it. Potentially faced with death every single day, they have to find a way to keep it from driving them insane with despair. And that way is usually laughter.
We all do it. One of the things that makes Horror such a powerful genre is that it forces us to face mortality and other things that usually make us uncomfortable. We squirm our way through the experience and emerge – we feel – stronger and better prepared for having endured it. It’s a coping mechanism. But we also laugh. There’s a reason that another word for “blood” is “humor.”
I recently wrote a comic about a vampire cow (you’ll be hearing more about that some other time), so I’ve been thinking about funny horror comics a bit. What are some of the ways that we try to merge the things that frighten us with the things that make us laugh? Here are six examples; my favorites of the Humorous Horror sub-genre.