Friday, September 28, 2007

Epstein is Rorschach!

This awesome image was done by Ron Horsley, who is a student at the Art Institute here in Las Vegas. Ron also created a poster with Epstein and my store info done up as a mock movie poster that's framed at my store, so if you're in the neighborhood stop by and check it out - it's a keeper!

Some background on Epstein: Epstein is my store logo / mascot. The artist who visually created Epstein is Keir Eastveld (a great guy who needs to keep in touch with some of the old gang better, but I know that life often gets in the way). I told Keir that I wanted a lizard wearing ska clothing exuding attitude, and his illustration more than captured what I was looking for. A few years back I had a sketchbook that I'd take to the San Diego conventions and I'd have artists draw their versions of Epstein and I've gotten quite a few great illos in that book (I actually stopped asking artists to draw Epstein because one day I came to the realization that as cool as the character looks, it is a busy character to draw). Another long time friend, Rick Tucker, has done some very cool versions of Epstein recently that I'm trying to incorporate into some near future plans that I'll be sharing both here and in my store soon.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Mushishi started as a manga by Yuki Urushibara and later became a 26 episoded anime (currently there are two volumes of the manga and anime available here in the U.S.). Mushi are spirit type entities that can inhabit any living creature, including people, as well as the earth itself. Ginko is the central character and a Mushishi, a "master of the Mushi", which means he understands how they operate and can often exorcise them. Ginko is the only re-occuring character, as he is a traveler, going from village to village and various regions to help those that are having problems with Mushishi. Mushishi isn't a good versus evil story though and Ginko is not an all powerful magician, he's just out to help where he can.

Each volume of Mushishi contains five short stories that each work as really good self-contained short stories. This structure provides the reader of Mushishi with many different story-telling experiences. The anime is almost an exact frame for frame version of the manga, and while some may think this is redundant, I think this shows that the director has a deep appreciation for the manga and wants to be faithful to the source work. The english dub voices are great, as is the music, and watching the anime is a great way to revisit the manga (or the other way around if you've watched the anime first) with the added benefit of lush colors (I like black and white comics, but I think in the case of Mushishi that the only thing that would have made it better as a manga is if it were in color because color seems to be such a strong part of the story). Watching Mushishi brought to mind another great anime series, Kino's Journey, that also features a lone central character traveling, as well as featuring self-contained short episodes (but Kino's Journey has a more Outer Limits feel to it).

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Big Guy & Rusty

Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot was a two issue over sized comic book, published by Dark Horse, that Frank Miller wrote and Geoff Darrow drew in 1996 and there's a nice over sized volume that collects both issues. I hadn't read Big Guy and Rusty since it was first published and I was looking for something light and fun to read between doing some work and this certainly fills that criteria.

Basically Big Guy and Rusty is Miller and Darrow's ode to Japanese monster movies and Astro Boy. If it didn't say so in the credits, a person wouldn't know that this was written by Frank Miler because it's an all ages work, it's not dark, and Miller's politics aren't on exhibit (and while I don't agree with Miller's politics, I find many of his works very entertaining on a pure testosterone level and I like a lot of his art, even his more recent raw, crude style).

Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot was also made into a 26 episode Fox animated series (I didn't remember there being that many episodes) that I remember was also highly enjoyable and becasue it was longer than the comic, actually had more on the story side of things going on. Sadly to my knowledge, to date, there hasn't been a dvd collection of this series.
I'm not sure if this photo of a two page sequence from Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot is the best example to those unfamiliar with Geoff Darrow's art of how much detail Darrow puts into every page. Darrow is definitely the star of Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot (and any book that has his art). Currently Darrow is working on the very weird, but great in a good Grant Morrison way, comic book called Shaolin Cowboy, that he writes and draws very irregularly. It's unknown how long Darrow will be doing Shaolin Cowboy, but it's always one of my favorite books when it comes out and it'll make for an incredible collection (hardcover or softcover) whenever that's announced.

Morrissey a la Vegas

Last night Morrissey played at the Pearl in The Palms and it was the best concert I'd seen this past week. We (Kate and myself) saw Modest Mouse last Saturday and thought that was just an okay show, probably not helped by the fact that it took them 50 minutes to get on stage after Matt Costa played (and his set would have played better in a coffee shop - I like acoustic sets, but his opening just didn't set the tone for the night, nor did it help that most of the music while we waited for the live acts to come on was really boring). We also saw Sinead O Conner this past Wednesday and her set definitely was nowhere near as good as when saw her back in 1997, and I'm a huge Sinead O Conner fan and before seeing her on Wednesday (and listening to her newest album Theology didn't help either, the only one of hers that I haven't liked), I thought everything she's done was gold. I'd still say Sinead O Conner has many great albums beyond her first two, The Lion and the Cobra and I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, with Universal Mother, Faith and Courage, and her awesome covers album, Am I Not Your Girl? being particular favorites - such a beautiful voice.

Anyway, this was only the second time we saw Morrissey and we liked his show the first time we saw him a few years ago, although he only played for something like 50 minutes (but it was an outstanding 50 minutes). The first thing I noticed when Morrissey got on stage (only 25 minutes after the opening act) was that he's looking older (of course that's what's going to happen unless one goes the Kurt Cobain route and after all Morrissey is four years older than me and I'm ancient), but he's actually in good shape and his voice was in top form. This time Morrissey played for about an hour and forty minutes, played mostly Smiths songs, and just really put on an altogether great set. Morrissey fans are amongst the most obsessed fans you'll encounter, but not in a scary way, rather just a lot of love spread amongst a really interesting mix of people across a lot of different demographic / cultural lines. Towards the end of the show, several guys managed to get onstage to touch Morrissey (which he doesn't really discourage) even though there was a security guy present. Morrissey got the crowd worked up to an especially frenzied state when he played How Soon Is Now? and First In the Gang To Die, lots of love in the hall! This was the first time we'd been to the new Pearl at The Palms and it's even better than the House of Blues and definitely better than the Joint, great sound, and while we were in the standing room floor area, the seated areas looked really well designed. I also thought the opening singer, Kristeen Young, was good, being a kind of mix of Kate Bush and Regina Spector.

Back to my above digression on length of time before an artist gets on stage (either starting the show or time between acts): I don't think there's any good excuse for there to be more then thirty minutes between acts. Sure there's a lot of things that need to be fine tuned, but isn't there enough time before the concert starts to do this and really with as many shows as most artists put on, shouldn't they have this down to where they can do this within half an hour? If Rammstein can get their complex stage show (with pyrotechnics) to happen just thirty minutes after the previous act, how hard should it be for other acts to do the same with a lot less going on? I think I have a pretty high patience threshold, but after about forty minutes of just standing around waiting for the act to appear, a good portion of the audience is going to get increasingly unruly (especially as they consume more alcohol). I'm going to guess that if one is drinking a lot that you're less apt to notice the wait between acts, but it could be argued as to how much that person is really enjoying the show once it starts and those persons are more apt to not be considerate to others around them (or even the musicians on stage, just yelling or talking randomly during songs). I love going to live shows and go to a good number of them throughout the year, but I'd go to more if the more than thirty minutes between acts wasn't some kind of norm. Do others feel the same way and if not, how long do you think is acceptable between acts?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Cloth and Canvas art!

Last night Cloth and Canvas, my store's neighbor, had a meet and greet with Nathaniel Ward, the artist whom they are featuring on their store walls this month.

Cloth and Canvas is a newly opened men and women clothing boutique / art gallery that's convieniently located on 4800 S. Maryland Parkway (a block from UNLV) right next to my comic shop, so if you're in the neighborhood checking out new comic releases, I'd recommend checking out Cloth and Canvas as well.

Cloth and Canvas is run by Cyndy and Rico (with Tim as their manager) and what they're looking to do with their store is to sell the finest in young men and women clothing at great prices combined with creating an awareness of local artists.

Nathaniel Ward, is Cloth and Canvas' first featured artist. Ward hails from Illinois, has lived here in Las Vegas for two years, and while having worked in illustration for years, has only been painting for two years. I was really surprised when he told me that because looking at his work, I'd have thought he'd been painting for years. For more examples of Nathaniel Ward's art, visit:

Cloth and Canvas will feature a new artist every month, with that artist's work appearing on their walls for a whole month and if my memory is working today, I believe Cyndy told me that they'll be having meet and greets with that month's featured artist every second Friday of the month. Kate, myself, and our friend Todd (whom we call happy Todd because we know a couple of other Todds and happy Todd is, well always happy! - he's in the second photo in the red DD shirt talking to Kate) had a great time and we think Cloth and Canvas is going to be a great addition to the UNLV district!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Spoilers Alert!

This is an image from a t-shirt I had on my computer desktop - I don't know where it's from, but I think it's pretty funny (not as funny as when my friend Joel told another friend, Dave, the ending of Citizen Kane right before he was going to watch it, but...)!

Vertigo's Sentences

Last week DC/ Vertigo released Sentences: The Life of M.F. Grimm, a graphic novel autobiography by hip-hop artist Percy Carey, with excellent art by Ronald Wimberly.

DC / Vertigo must be commended for publishing Sentences. I wasn't familiar with Percy Carey as an hip-hop artist or writer before Sentences, but while reading this book I was instantly sold on Carey's story-telling abilities (he had me at the first caption: "This is how it went down."). Percy Carey uses first person narration throughtout Sentences, probably my favorite writing style because it's more personal and to say he's led a colorful life is a huge understatement. Carey learned everything he knows the hard way and if Sentences were a movie it would be a hard R (I think a movie of Sentences would do really well and it's already perfectly storyboarded). The art by Ronald Wimberly evokes Edward Risso of 100 Bullets fame, actually Sentences reads and looks like a really really good 100 Bullets.

I'll be interested in seeing how Sentences does outside of the comic book audience. Surely a number of fans of hip-hop and or Percy Carey will be interested in reading this book (I've heard it's already gotten several great reviews in non comic book magazines).

An interesting aside: Percy Carey has a Muppet Wiki entry as he was a kid on the seventh season of Sesame Street (and early in Sentences, Carey humorously recounts his time on Sesame Street).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Holocaust Survivors

A really powerful book I read recently is titled I Was A Child Of Holocaust Survivors written by Bernice Eisenstein (who also does some illustrations throughout the book). Bernice Eisenstein was born in 1949, her parents having survived Auschwitz. This book is Eisenstein's examination of her lifelong struggle to understand the horrors that her parents endured and how this examination shaped her life.

Eisenstein writes: "Without my family's knowledge or even understanding, their past has shaped my loneliness and anger, and sculpted the meaning of loss and love. I have inherited the unbearable lightness of being a child of Holocaust surviviors. Cursed and blessed. Black, white, and shadowed."

Throughout most of my adult life I've sought out stories (mostly non fiction books and documentaries) that have as their subject people who've experienced the horrors of WWII, specifically concentration camps. These stories, for me, illustrate some of the worst horrors that people have had to endure and how those horrors transformed them and or how people were able to transcend those horrors. Fortunately nothing this horrible has happened to me or anyone I know, but I think reading / viewing these type of stories puts everything else that happens in the world into perspective.

The following are at the top of my highly recommended comics, books, and movies about the Holocaust: Maus, by Art Spiegleman; We Are On Our Own, by Miriam Katin; Alicia, by Alicia Aplpeman-Jurman; The Pianist; Into The Arms Of Strangers - Stories of the Kindertransport; Out of the Ashes; Life Is Beautiful; Shindler's List; Bent; The Grey Zone; Uprising; Sophie's Choice; Rosenstrasse; and I'd definitely say Bernice Eisenstein's memoir, I Was A Child Of Holocaust Survivors belongs in this company.

Watchmen movie site

I just stumbled across what looks to be a pretty good Watchmen movie site:, not to be confused with:, which is the official movie site. The former site seems to be the site to go to for all things happening and forthcoming with the Watchmen movie and they look to have a pretty good message board also.

As I've said before, in my perfect world, if someone has to do a Watchmen feature I'd like to see it done as an anime series, but that's not going to happen, nor is an HBO series, or a series of movies going to happen - it's just going to somehow be one movie. I still can not imagine how Watchmen can be made into one movie (even a three hour movie, which probably won't happen) because even with the pirate segments removed, there's still too much story for one movie. I never cared if Watchmen became a movie or not, actually I'd probably choose not except for the fact that even the mention of a comic work like V For Vendetta, Ghost World, and Watchmen being made into a movie brings a whole new audience to the source work and it always makes me happy when more people read these great comics. Having said that though, of course I'll check out the movie when it's done and I'm more then a little interested in the thinking / planning that goes on in pre-production / production. Some of the shooting starts Septmeber 17th in Vancouver.

The photo above is from the action figure speculation part of the above mentioned site. These are Mego custom made figures of Rorschach and Nite-Owl. I really don't think action figures need to be made for this series especially since that's not something Alan Moore would even remotely think was a good idea (of course it is true that he doesn't think making a Watchmen movie is a good idea and he's probably right on that, although V For Vendetta didn't suck so I'm going to try to be optimistic), but I am amused at how much time people spend on custom figures and these do look pretty good.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Crossing Midnight

Crossing Midnight #10, which came out a couple of weeks ago, is the start of a new storyline and a great jumping on place for new readers as well as people who just like great, original stories.

Crossing Midnight is written by Mike Carey (Lucifer) with great art on this story arc by Eric Nguyen (at first when I heard that regular artist Jim Fern wasn't drawing this arc I was worried, but I'm happy that my fears were unfounded). Bedtime Stories is about the disturbing teenage prostitution phenomenon in Japan called telephone clubs in which men can go to these phone clubs and call numbers posted there and even actually meet up with the girls. Mike Carey also has an interesting essay at the end of the issue on the genesis for this story. Take a look at Crossing Midnight #10 at your favorite comic and or bookstore and odds are you'll want to pick up the first trade which is only ten bucks. I apologize for using Ich Liebe Comics to play the saleperson, but I like to think that some great books will just get lost in the sea of everything else out there so they need every extra shout out that they can get and I know that there are discriminating readers who would like Crossing Midnight (if you're not already reading it).

Infinity surprise

This week Infinity Inc. #1 was released and although I've enjoyed Peter Milligan's writing in the past, I wasn't really expecting this book to be good at all. Firstly, it's a title that sprung from last year's 52 and I was always yawning my head off when this new version of Infinity Inc. would be a part of that story. I think the new team as launched being members of Lex Luthor's everybody with super powers concept was a good idea, it's just the execution didn't go into any interesting new directions in 52. Also I think Lex Luthor is overused at DC, especially in the Superman titles and if I were running the DC show, I'd put a lid on the character and not use him for something like three years (and pay Superman writers extra to come up with some good new villains).

So I read Infinity Inc. #1 just to see how lame the first issue would be and was quickly surprised with how much I enjoyed what Peter Milligan and new artist sensation Max Fiumara produced. A person doesn't have to have read 52 to get into this new Infinity Inc. and if Milligan and Fiumara's future issues are along the same lines as the first issue, this will be one of the new super hero titles that'll have people talking. Just don't let the uninspired cover scare you away!

Why, Y, why!?

No spoilers in this entry. So after reading Y The Last Man #58 yesterday I wished I'd read this comic last because any other comic I read was going to pale in comparison. There's only two more issues left and I can't begin to guess how things are going to wrap up, but I'll be on the edge of my seat waiting for them! The last time I felt like this on a monthly basis was when Preacher was coming out. This week's Y The Last Man also had my favorite bit of dialogue with Yorik saying: "I knew I wanted to keep living in any world that you were a part of. but that was hard to admit to myself...and not just because it ended with a proposition." Those of you who haven't read this issue yet, will know why this entry is titled as such.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Anime Vegas pt.3

Evil bunny!!

Kate and Ralph saying good-bye (and good buys!) to another fantastic Anime Vegas!

Anime Vegas cosplay pt.2

Anime Vegas cosplay pt.1

The gal with the broom is cosplaying as Kiki from Hayao Miyazaki's excellent anime Kiki's Delivery Service.

I'm going to let the rest of the photos here speak for themselves partly because I don't know who the characters are.

Anime Vegas 2007!

Anime Vegas 2007, from my vantage point was a huge success and fun time all around! The person in this photo gets my vote for best cosplay of the show. She's dressed as Black Jack, a renegade doctor character created by the God of Manga, Osamu Tezuka. I don't know if she entered the costume contest, but if she did she should have won something. Sadly, I'm going to guess that most of the attendees don't know who Black Jack is or even are familiar with the other works of Osamu Tezuka.

Tezuka is most known as the creator of Astro Boy and Kimbo The White Lion (which Disney's Lion King "borrowed" heavily from). Some of Tezuka's greatest mangas are: Buddha, Phoenix (of which there's apparently an anime series which I didn't know about before this year's Anime Vegas - I'll have to look that up), Apollo's Song, Ode To Kirhito, and Adolf. Tezuka was very prolific and did mangas in every genre, and manga and anime as we know them would look very different if he hadn't paved the way. In 2001 there was a great anime called Metropolis based on Tezuka's 1949 manga of the same name (in my opinion Tezuka's Metropolis manga isn't very noteworthy) and Fritz Lang's 1927 silent movie Metropolis.
Anime and manga fans get into cosplay (dressing up as their favorite characters) much more then "regular" comic fans and this makes anime / manga conventions really colorful / energetic places. The gal in this photo is dressed as a character from the hugely popular series, Naruto, which is a manga / anime about ninjas in training. The other most popular characters that fans chose to dress up as were from the anime / manga / video game Kingdom Hearts.
I don't know who this character is supposed to be, but well done anyway!

I want to give a huge shout out to Richard Stott, founder and chairman of Anime Vegas! For many years, Rich has had monthly anime screenings at the West Charleston library where he works and four years ago he got even more proactive for the local anime scene by starting up Anime Vegas. Every year has been bigger and better and I think the reason Anime Vegas is such a success is because Richard Stott started small and let it grow from there. I couldn't be happier being a part of this show for the last three years because everyone who goes has a lot of fun and the quality of the guest lists and programming has been super. This year I was a little concerned about my booth placement because I didn't sign up as fast as I meant to (the last two years I was right at the front of the main entrance), but actually with my booth being directly in the center I was able to experience more of the excitement going on around the dealer floor so even though I don't think there's really a bad place on the dealer floor, the center is where I'm going to shoot for next year! Also wanted to say big big thank you to Racheal, a good friend of mine, for helping me set up each day!
This guy is dressed as Tuxedo Mask, from Sailor Moon. This year, besides there being more people at Anime Vegas, there seemed to be more people cosplaying also. I didn't make it to the masquarade contest, but I heard there was 36 entrees and that there were a lot of amazing costumes. Well, that I can attest to from seeing all the cosplay people on the dealers room floor!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Yoko Ishida stops by my store!

So I'm having a Tuesday afternoon here at my store when much to my surprise, Yoko Ishida comes in (with some other people)! Yoko Ishida is a huge J Pop (pop / rock singer) sensation from Japan and she was in town for AnimeVegas this weekend. She gave an afternoon performance Sunday afternoon at AnimeVegas, but I didn't make her show as I was working my booth. I heard it was a packed show with every attendee getting a program book with lyrics so that they could sing along (which they did). Two of the biggest animes that Yoko Ishida performed themes for are: Ah! My Goddess and Ai Yori Aoshi.

A staff member from AnimeVegas was showing Yoko Ishida around town and they were somewhere on Maryland Parkway when he had the brilliant idea of taking her to my store! Yoko Ishida and her friends were checking out my store and I saw her looking at some manga (specifically Oh My Goddess) so I dashed in my backroom where my cd's are and frantically looked for the cd I had of hers (and my Ah! My Goddess movie soundtrack). She looked delighted that I had cd's by her, well I was delighted that I found them and that she graciously signed her "Sweets" cd for me! Pictured above is Yoko Ishida (of course!) and myself in front of my store. She was especially pleased to see that part of my window (the bottom portion) features characters from Oh My Goddess and she also had her friend take pictures of her in front of the images.

As if that wasn't enough excitement for the day, I got to talk to a guy from England about the genius that is Alan Moore (and he bought Eddie Cambell's excellent Fate of the Artist and Ellis' Hellblazer Haunted trade on my recommendations) and my friends Todd and Brandy called all the way from China where they're picking up their daughter Meridith! And I also sold a lot of good comics to some regulars that stopped by! I think this may be the most international day at my store, with Yoko Ishida stopping by from Japan, my friends calling from China, and visiting with a customer from England!