Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oh My Promethea!

Absolute Promethea has arrived! Finally a format that is worthy of this seminal work by Alan Moore and artist J. H. Williams III. DC's Absolute format is their over-sized hardcover slipcase presentation that they reserve for the very best of the best examples of the comic medium and as anyone who's read Promethea already knows (and or those of you looking at the two photos here sampling what the Absolute Promethea looks like can tell), Promethea is at the very head of the class in every respect.
For those of you reading this that are new to my blog and haven't seen the countless blog entries in which I've raved about Promethea, J. H. Williams III, and Alan Moore, stop by my store and I'll talk your ears off or drop me an email. Really, Promethea is ALL THAT and you deserve to have the Absolute Promethea on your gift getting and giving lists!

Regarding this blog title above, "Oh My Promethea!", this is the phrase I'm trying to bring into fashion instead of the over-used "Oh My God!", and the former means more to me than the latter, which is so much of our venacular whether we're religious or not.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Superman / Batman new DVD

No spoilers:

Today the new DC animated DVD Superman / Batman Public Enemies came out and I think it's one of the best ones yet. This is based on the story of the same name by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness. Jeph Loeb hasn't been getting the most favorable reviews for his recent Marvel writing (his funeral issue for Captain America and Hulk are good though), but his run on Superman / Batman was well liked across the board. Loeb and McGuinness' Superman / Batman Public Enemies had loads of guest stars from around the DC universe, great action, humor, and an entertaining plot that also had room for characterization and advancing some things that were going on within the DC universe at the time.

This animated version has some changes, but there is dialogue and scenes directly from the comic / graphic novel, and the animation style does its best to look like the fun style that Ed McGuinness drew the original story in. Some of the superhero characters used in the animated version are different from the original version, but the changes just make this more entertaining in its own right as it doesn't become just a rerun of the source work. The Superman / Batman Public Enemies animated DVD will entertain though who liked the original comic book and those who haven't read that yet, so I'd say it's a win win all around. There's also a preview for the next DC animated feature (no date yet), which will be the Justice League of America meeting their parallel Earth evil counter parts, the Crime Syndicate, written by Dwayne McDuffie (who wrote a lot of the great animated Justice League Unlimited) and it also looks fantastic and will have fans of large superhero meetings and slugfests eagerly awaiting its arrival.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A great week for comics!

Besides being an especially great week for comics (not much in the way of new graphic novels though), amongst the releases was an especially higher ratio of comics that feature as the lead character, women. At the top of the pack we have the excellent Batwoman by artist J.H. Williams III and Greg Rucka (this issue concludes the first story arc, with the next two issues being a look back at her military training). The debut issue of Spider-Woman by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev (the creative team who did a great four year run on Daredevil) finally arrived and it was very good (although some of the coloring seemed off to me). The concluding chapter of guest artist Michael Wm. Kaluta's five issue stint on Madame Xanadu also came out and it was so wonderful to see Kaluta doing interior art again after so many years away. The usually better-than-average super hero comics that are Power Girl and Supergirl also arrived, with issues that were kind of just in-between chapters (the whole New Kryptonian storyline is going on way too long). Anita Blake is a vampire hunter / character (?) created by novelist Laurell K. Hamilton and another issue of said comic is also amongst the arrivals today (I don't read this comic, but it is from a very popular novel series - I guess I could have included Terry Moore's Echo in the photo here as that also came out and I do read that). To round off my roll call of comics that came out today that have a female character as the lead, there's Ms. Marvel (but I don't read that, not that that means anything other than I don't know what they're doing with that character anymore, having read it before and being lost / not caring).

I don't mention the slew of comics that came out today with female leads to prove that comics aren't just for guys because although comics aren't just for guys, having a female lead doesn't always mean that women are going to be more able to relate / care about that comic (I just thought that the fact / coincidence that so many came out in one day was amusing). Other comics that feature women as lead characters are: Wonder Woman, Gotham City Sirens, Batgirl, Sword (by the Luna brothers and is excellent) and titles such as Buffy, Witchblade, Fathom, Red Sonja, and Soulfire (and I haven't mentioned mini series with female characters such as Elektra and Marvel Divas. Definitely more female characters having their own titles than any other time in history that I can remember, with the best in my opinion being Batwoman, Sword, and Madame Xanadu.

Other good comics of note today: the first issue of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's Superman Secret Origin (which is a Smallvillesque re-telling of his origin that gets going right out of the gate), Hickman's second issue of Fantastic Four, Simon Bisley drawing this month's Hellblazer, Invincible, and the final issue of Wolverine Old Man Logan (the best Wolverine story since the last time Mark Millar wrote a Wolverine story years ago called Enemy of the State).

Monday, September 21, 2009


Ikigami The Ultimate Limit, is a new manga series written and drawn by Motoro Mase, published by Viz. The clean art style on display in Ikigami brings to mind another mature reader manga, Battle Royale, but while Ikigami has mature reader's content, it's nowhere near as intense or graphic as Battle Royale (and that's more than okay). An Ikigami is a death note that the government randomly assigns to a person who will then die in twenty-four hours. As it is explained to the people whose stories are told in Ikigami, this is done to make the population at large come to better appreciate how important life is and to not take it for granted. This premise, to me, is a little shaky, but once you accept it, it does make for a wide range of engaging (and often intense) stories. The other attraction of Ikigami is that unlike most manga series that run the span of several volumes following the same cast of characters, each volume of Ikigami (there's two out so far) are comprised of several short stories of how different people react to being told they only have twenty-four hours to live.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cheap Trick does Sgt. Pepper live

Tonight Kate and I (with our friend, Rob) saw Cheap Trick perform The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album in its entirety and it was fabulous. Cheap Trick was accompanied by a symphony orchestra, an Indian sitar ensemble and several guest musicians which all combined into a production that was everything I wanted it to be.

As the Sgt. Pepper album is "only" about forty-five minutes in length, the show started with the symphony orchestra and guest musicians playing other Beatles songs before Cheap Trick hit the stage. This made for one of the highlights of the show for me as a great instrumental version of Eleanor Rigby (a truly great sad song) was followed by a solid version of my favorite Beatles song, Across The Universe, sung by Rob Laufer (whom I hadn't heard of before) backed by The Clark County Children's Choir, which was followed by a great instrumental version of Something, that had an incredible guitar reworking by Bill Lloyd. Joan Osborne sang Can't Buy Me Love and Long and Winding Road beautifully, in addition to Drive My Car with Ian Ball (of the alternative band Gomez). Ian Ball did a fantastic rendition of I Am The Walrus, and then...

...it was time for Cheap Trick to hit the stage with their cover of all of the Sgt. Pepper album. My favorite Beatles album is Abbey Road, but that doesn't mean that every song on Sgt. Pepper isn't great, because they all are. I've loved The Beatles music for years because their lyrics and music is so encompassing, timeless, often very witty, and just plain BRILLIANT. Cheap Trick, as I suspected they would being as they are fine musicians, performed the Sgt. Pepper songs wonderfully. Singing Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds was special guest, Joe Elliot from Def Leppard, and although I'm not a Def Leppard fan, he did a great job with that number. I remembered reading a couple of days ago that Cheap Trick and all of the guest musicians ended the night by singing All You Need Is Love (which isn't on Sgt. Pepper). A Day In The Life is the last song from Sgt. Pepper that Cheap Trick did (and it was great) and as this is such a sad song I was thinking that following it with All You Need Is Love would have been a very poor choice, but instead they sang the ending tracks from Abbey Road; Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight, and The End, and then everyone closed with All You Need Is Love and all was good (well great).

As we were leaving the Hilton theatre I turned to Kate and Rob and said that now Paul and Ringo need to get together and perform Dream Police live as a thank you to Cheap Trick - wouldn't that be awesome!?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Beasts Of Burden; Jill Thompson & Evan Dorkin

The first issue of Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson's Beast Of Burden arrived at finer comic stores everywhere today so there's no excuse not to be having a good day! Beasts Of Burden is the continuing adventures of a group of dogs and a cat that get involved in things of a supernatural nature. The two previous stories appeared in the excellent Dark Horse short story anthology hardcovers Book of Witchcraft (which won an Eisner for best short story) and Book of Hauntings (which won artist Jill Thompson an Eisner for best painter). Beasts Of Burden is a four issue series, of which every issue will be self contained and doesn't require familiarity with the previous stories (but after reading the first issue of Beasts Of Burden there's a good chance you'll want to read the other ones).

Fans of Evan Dorkin (creator / cartoonist of Milk and Cheese and Hectic Planet) and Jill Thompson (writer / artist of Scary Godmother and Magic Trixie, artist on Sandman Brief Lives and too many other books to mention) already know that whenever they do their comic book magic that they're in for level A quality, but for any newbies out there reading this, all you have to know is comic books by Dorkin and Thompson are comic books you'll want to share with others, whether they are already comic readers or not. Beasts Of Burden features talking animals and the supernatural, but it's not done in a sappy young readers fashion and since the supernatural parts of Beasts Of Burden aren't Vertigo level, I'd say this is a great comic for people (including kids) of all ages.

Speaking of Jill Thompson and her amazing art prowess, way back in 1997 when the internet was just a baby, she was kind enough to grace Kate and myself with an original piece of art (pictured above) that we used as our wedding invitations. I hope no one reading this blog entry falls too much in love with this image and asks Jill Thompson to do the same for them because she may kill me (grin), but I just wanted to share this with friends and readers of my blog who haven't seen this slice of awesomeness!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

AnimeVegas 2009 pt. 1

This past weekend was Labor Day weekend and here in Las Vegas that means it was also AnimeVegas time! Here's my wrap up with photos:

This group of cool people to my left are cosplaying as characters from Rozen Maiden.
Maids! Okay I don't really know why maids are popular in manga and anime (well I have my suspicions - grin), but there was more than a couple of people dressed as maids (and something called a maid cafe which didn't serve any coffee or munchies) at AnimeVegas. Nobody's hurting anyone, just good clean fun (pun intended)! As with all of the photos on my blog, if you click on them you'll be able to see them in their larger glory!



These people are brightly cosplaying as characters from Pokemon - be afraid, be very afraid!

AnimeVegas 2009 pt. 2

I believe these characters are from Fate / Stay (a video game that became an anime that I never played or watched, but the character designs are great). Most of the following photos I'll be posting here are from anime series or manga that I'm not familiar with, but I like the way the people had fun with their costumes. At anime conventions, more than at "regular" comic book conventions, a high percentage of the people that attend do dress up as their favorite characters.

The Mario Brothers never looked better than this!

One of the Sailor scouts from Sailor Moon, a series I never watched or read, but was the gateway anime / manga series for a lot of female fans of this artform today.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

AnimeVegas 2009 pt. 3

I was told that the character on the left is from Full Metal Panic! and of course the blue character is Sonic The Hedgehog.

Every year at AnimeVegas these past six years I have had a booth and because I like interacting with people who may buy something from my booth and want to introduce my store to them, I've never gone to any of the events held outside the exhibit hall. In addition to the dealers selling manga, anime, and items related to this field, AnimeVegas has mini music concerts by Japanese pop bands, panels with guests such as voice actors, and costume contests, as well as almost around the clock anime screenings. So since I don't leave the exhibit room, I'm not taking photos of the other events, but I just wanted to mention this to let anyone thinking about going to next year's AnimeVegas that there's a lot of things going on that don't cost anything.

The past two years or so, the manga and anime industry has been going through a somewhat turbulent period and a lot of companies that are or were producing various series have had to constrict or seize to exist altogether. This is mostly due to a lot of people who now follow manga and anime being able to get their "fix" online. I'm not going to get into why people do this, but until this changes, people who create, distribute, and sell manga and anime are going to have to find new ways to make this work for them so that they can continue to make a living doing so. Hopefully more people who just get their entertainment fixes online will realize that if they want to continue to enjoy manga and anime, that they have to actually buy some of the series that they've enjoyed after getting turned on to them for free online.

Anyway, I hope my tone here just now didn't come across as too doom and gloom, but I just would hate to see the growth that had occurred in manga and anime a few years ago just completely vanish because this is an artform that can tell many diverse kinds of stories and still is a source of great fun for many as evident by the still strong attendance this year at AnimeVegas 2009.

Peter & Max - upcoming

No spoilers: Fables is a long running Vertigo series written by Bill Willingham, with Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha being the primary artists. For those of you not already lured into the many charms of Fables, here's what it's about: basically all the fairy tale characters (they call themselves Fables) we've all read or heard about such as Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Pinocchio, and The Big Bad Wolf (Bigby) are actually real and live mostly in a magically screened part of New York City (the talking animals live on a farm in upstate New York).

Fantasy is not my favorite genre, but Bill Willingham, with Fables, has crafted a story that has a cross genre appeal as he turns fantasy / fairy tale conventions inside out, with writing and themes that are adult (and although Fables isn't raunchy as some "mature" books can be, neither is it an all ages book) and progression, rather than stagnation, is the only rule of this series. Presently there are twelve volumes of Fables and five volumes of its companion title, Jack of Fables. Anyone who would like a free copy of the first issue of Fables to see what all the excitement is about needs only to stop by Alternate Reality Comics and I'll be glad to introduce you to this series. Fables is one of those ideas that upon reading it you ask: "Why hasn't this been thought of before?"

So what should Bill Willingham do with Fables in addition to it being a best selling comic? Write a Fables novel! Peter & Max: a Fables novel, will arrive at finer comic book stores October 14th, but since I have such a charmed life, I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced reading copy. I finished reading it this morning (had it not been for my having a booth at AnimeVegas this past weekend I would have finished it earlier) and I have to say that if this comic book writing thing that Bill Willingham has going on doesn't work out, well his prose work will make him a best-selling novelist in short order (actually I already knew this having read his first prose novel, Down The Mysterly River a couple of years ago)!

Peter & Max is about Peter Piper and his brother Max and has equal parts humor, horror, adventure, mystery, and romance which adds up to quite the page-turner of a novel. I don't want to say anything about the story or other fairy tale characters (Fables) that appear in Peter & Max, but I will tease by saying that Bill Willingham, with Max, has created / fleshed out a truly great villain. And because Bill Willingham is a smart writer, he's written Peter & Max in such a way that plays to those unfamiliar with his Fables world, but also having many nudge, nudge, wink, wink scenes for those of us long time readers of Fables without being redundant.

Arriving October 14th, Peter & Max: a Fables novel, is a 400 page hardcover novel with page illustrations by Steve Leialoha and I'm certain that anyone who reads this book will be hooked into the Fablesverse that Bill Willingham has created. Fortunately we have the monthly Fables and Jack of Fables comic (as well as the semi-regular trade collections) to tide us over between what I'm sure will become a great new novel series!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Color of Heaven

Yesterday the concluding volume of Kim Dong Hwa's manhwa came out titled The Color of Heaven (the first one is The Color of Earth and the second one is The Color of Water) and it is every bit as wonderful as the previous volumes. This trilogy is about a mother and daughter and their relationship with each other, first love, waiting for your love, and the passage of time. I could go on and on about how this beautiful story has such incredibly beautiful art also, but anyone who looks at one of these books will see that. I'd like to thank publisher First Second for bringing this to U.S. audiences because it's manga (or manhwa as this is called being from Korea) like this that perfectly shows the diversity of stories comics (or manga or manhwa) can tell.

V For Vendetta - the Absolute edition!

Today the definitive edition of V For Vendetta was released by DC / Vertigo in their over-sized Absolute edition. Alan Moore is my favorite writer as anyone who's read this blog for any length of time knows, and V For Vendetta is my favorite book and I'm happy to report that the Absolute edition of V For Vendetta exceeded my expectations and I'd put this Absolute edition at the very top of DC's Absolute editions (New Frontier is also has a great Absolute edition)

Besides the new cover images (this top image is the exterior cover of the slipcase for Absolute V For Vendetta and the image to the left is the image on the dust jacket), this hefty volume (almost 400 pages) also has new images before every chapter. Seriously, there's not just a few pages, there's a lot of new pages (well the art isn't entirely new, but the way it's used to enhance the story is incredible) and needs to be seen to be fully appreciated. I've always wished that there was a black and white version of V For Vendetta, but here in this larger format, even my minor "problems" with the color aren't evident. I'd say definitely put Absolute V For Vendetta on your gift wish list because this is the very top of the line story, with great art and deserves this deluxe presentation.