Friday, December 31, 2010

Ayako; Osamu Tezuka

A couple of weeks ago, a new Osamu Tezuka epic manga graphic novel was finally released in the U.S., called Ayako, a manga that Tezuka did from 1972-1973. Tezuka, often called the god of manga, because he virtually created the comic book art form in Japan back in the 1930s and was extremely prolific. In the U.S. Tezuka is most known as the creator of Astro Boy and Kimba The White Lion (which Disney heavily "borrowed" upon in their Lion King), but he's done comics / manga in all genres, including romance and crime fiction. Tezuka also did a wonderful eight volume manga on Buddha.

Even though Ayako was written and drawn in the early 1970s, it is never a dated work and it amazed me as much as my other two favorite Tezuka mangas, MW and Buddha. Ayako had the misfortune of being born into a very rich family, who all have very dark skeletons in their closets, and her very birth is a part of those skeletons. Taking place in Japan post WWII and going through the early 1970s, Ayako, clocks in at 700 pages and is a very fascinating graphic novel about a highly dysfunctional family who will do anything to protect their family name and the skeletons in their closets from getting out. Ayako is definitely for mature readers and definitely one of 2010's best graphic novel releases!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Special Exists

One of the best graphic novel memoirs of 2010, Special Exits, came out a couple of weeks ago, just making it before the year closes. Special Exits, written and drawn by Joyce Farmer, follows the last four years in the lives of Lars and Rachel. Special Exits excellently shows how old age and the ailments that come in the latter stages of life affect Lars and Rachel and their daughter, Laura, who stops by weekly to help them with the new realities of their lives.

Friday, December 24, 2010

an artist to watch for...

Yesterday, at my shop (Alternate Reality Comics, natch!) this young lad, Nathan (as seen in the photo here), wandered in all the way from Halifax, Canada, and as Vegas wasn't doing much for him, he took it upon himself to do some awesome drawings for me! In this first photo he's holding an illo of me as a Terminator! Thsi drawing will be hanging up at my store and you have to see it up close to really appreciate how cool it is!

Next up is Epstein in full gun totting action!

Another great illo of Epstein getting in touch with his dinosaur ancestry!

I've never been to Halifax, where Natan, the artist of these three drawings hails from, but I do know that there's a top notch comic book store there called Strange Adventures (they have two stores there now), owned by Calum Johnston. Thanks Nathan!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Reid Feming World's Toughest Milkman & other great graphic novels

This week, IDW publishing is releasing the first of two gorgeous hardcover collections of David Boswell's beloved oddball comic, Reid Fleming World's Toughest Milkman, from the 1980s. If you've never read Reid Fleming and or want to have a nice collection of this seminal humor comic, for a mere $29.99 for 224 pages (and 20% off at Alternate Reality Comics through Friday, Dec. 24th), you can see what all the fuss is about.

This is the first page of the Reid Fleming hardcover (the book is in black and white, as it was originally published) and should give you an idea of David Boswell's sense of humor and his character, Reid Flemings, "damn the torpedoes" attitude towards his job and life.

I'd also like to give a roll call list shout out to some other great recent graphic novels that have newly arrived the last few weeks (or that I've gotten back in as a restock because they're so good that they keep selling out):

Dynamic Forces is finally releasing the first volume of the Vampirella Archives this week, which collects the fist seven issues of this great comic from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Image is releasing a softcover edition of Viking by Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein, a great crime fiction story set in viking times, with GREAT art. The ninth volume of the always funny, delightful manga, Yotsuba, by Kiyohiko Azuma (and you can read any volume onto itself) also arrived a couple of weeks ago. DC released a 500 page black and white Showcase volume of Our Army At War and at $99.99 for the who's who of great artists contained within, you'll not find a better deal. This week also sees the release of Bill Willingham's excellent Fables novel Peter and Max, which is a good introduction to what Fables is about (and even more excellent if you're already a fan of Fables), in a softcover edition. For a great sampling of some of the best comics in the U.S. this past year, the 2010 edition of Best American Comics came out about month ago, edited by Neil Gaiman. Everyone knows that when Chip Kidd designs a book it's going to be great right? Well a few weeks ago he put together a hardcover volume on Shazam and it's of course a beauty! Two Cents Plain is a great new autobiographical graphic novel by Martin Lemelman, about growing up in Brooklyn with parents who survived the Holocaust. Fantagraphics released the second Steve Ditko Archives, which collects many fantastic early stories by Ditko before he co-created Spider-Man and Dr. Strange. For anyone wanting to read great Thor stories that don't require any knowledge of what's going on in the Marvel Universe, look no further then Thor The Mighty Avenger by Rodger Langridge and Chris Samnee.

Still available at Alternate Reality Comics: Logicomix An Epic Search For Truth, Acme Novelty Library volume 20 (Lint), The Outfit, by Darwyn Cooke, and Gilbert Hernandez' Chance In Hell. And remember, all of the above and many more great graphic novels / trade paperbacks are on sale for 20% off through Friday, Dec. 24th!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Motel Art Improvement Service

Motel Art Improvement Service is a new graphic novel by Jason Little (Shutterbug Follies) published by Dark Horse Comics. As Jason Little hasn't done that much comic work to date, I'd forgotten how good he is when he does release a new project. Motel Art Improvement Service was a delight from beginning to end and is never predictable or cliched.

The two central characters of Motel Art Improvement Service are Bee-Jin, an eighteen year old girl who embarks on a cross country bicycle trip and ends up meeting Cyrus (the other central character), a young man frustrated by a lot of the pretense of the way art is made into just a commodity, so he works in motels as a housekeeper, removes the art from the motel rooms, and adds a little something else to enhance the banality of most of the art hanging in motel rooms. Bee starts working as a housekeeper alongside Cyrus and they get mixed up with other shady characters, making Motel Art Improvement Service quite an engaging, exciting read, with Jason Little's outstanding artwork as the topping on this great, very different graphic (full color, 205 pages, for only $19.99 - and as with all graphic novels / trade paperbacks through Dec. 24th, it's on sale for 20% off!).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tell me these aren't cute!...

Alternate Reality Comics will always be first and foremost a comic book store, but with the increased space I have here at my new location (twice the space of the old store!), I have space to try out some things that people might like to get for themselves and or things their gift buying loved ones might get for their comic / fantasy enthusiast instead of trying to guess which comic or graphic novel they have or don't have. This first photo is of the main new display I got about a week ago and just today some of the items upon this display arrived.

These little plushes are super cute and are inexpensive and irresistible.

You can't go wrong with a Spidey or Darth Vader head bobbler and this uber cool Wonder Woman lunch box comes with salt & pepper shakers for a really low price!!

This ends my shameless retail jockeying for the day - as you were!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Boneyard signing wrap up!

This past Saturday, Alternate Reality Comics hosted six of the local artists who contributed stories to the Vegas-cdentric, comic book anthology, Tales from the Boneyard. In this photo seated from left to right is: warren Wucinich, Victor Moya, Jarret Keene, Pj Perez, Danny Roberts, and Deryl Skelton.

First in line for the Boneyard lads, was Gary Rabuzi, shown here holding his uber cool jam sketch each of the artists did of classic old school Spider-Man villains!

A semi-birds eye photo taken by my friend and assistant, Jim, showing some of the people who came out to support local artists, buy a great local comic book production (which I'll have in stock regularly), many of whom also got some great sketches!

Another art jam piece some lucky person scored!

Warren Wucinich, displaying the Hellboy sketch he did for Lee, a relatively new patron and friend of Alternate Reality Comics! Mike Mignola (Hellboy creator), needs to call up Warren to draw a Hellboy story because he'd know it out of the park!

Thanks to everyone who came out to the event this past Saturday, thanks to Jim for helping out, and a HUGE thanks to Warren, Victor, Jarret, Pj, Danny, and Deryl, for producing Tales from the Boneyard and for letting me host this signing event at my store and graciously doing many cool sketches! Now get to work on next years comics (grin)!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Memories of John Lennon & The Beatles

I became a Beatles fan in 1975 or 1976 when I was 13 or 14 years old. I'm sure I'd heard The Beatles (and the solo works of the members) on the radio earlier, but I didn't start buying records with my own money until I was fourteen, living in Germany, and going to high school in Munich. At lunch time, I'd go across the street from my school in Munich to the BX or PX (base exchange or post exchange, I don't remember which one they were calling it then) and sometimes after going to the Stars and Stripes to buy my comic books (I've been reading comics since 1975!), I'd go to the main department store and buy some records. The first Beatles albums I bought were Beatles Red and Beatles Blue, which were both double albums, greatest hits type collections. How could I not love The Beatles after listening to those albums (I'd argue that how could anyone not love The Beatles after listening to any of their albums)!?

One of my other favorite Beatles albums I'd bought was called Beatles Love Songs (another double album, that had their logo and the album title on a nice "simple" brown cover) and to this day I remember being excited that it was only $1.35 (or some variation thereof, I do remember it wasn't more than two dollars). Actually I thought someone had put the wrong price tag on that record, but I never questioned it, I just bought it and listened to it over and over and over. The Beatles Love Songs was probably the album that showed me the depth that John Lennon and Paul McCartney (and George and Ringo) had in their lyrics and the power of their arrangements and singing. They had a song seemingly about everything.

Flash forward to 1980 - I was a senior at John F. Kennedy Jr. High in San Antonio and I was still a huge Beatles fan, especially John Lennon, who I came to appreciate as being the most complex of The Beatles and wrote many of my favorite Beatles songs. My very favorite song of all time is John Lennon's Imagine, my favorite Beatles song is Across The Universe, and my favorite holiday song is Happy Christmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

December 8th, 1980, I was watching the Johnny Carson Tonight Show and all of a sudden a news flash announced that John Lennon had been shot (most of the country was watching Monday Night Football when Howard Cosell made the same announcement). I was shocked, sad, and numb. No one else in my family was really a Beatles fan so they didn't feel the same way. The next day when I went to school, I don't remember a cloud of depression over the death of John Lennon being felt by my fellow students (maybe because I didn't really have many friends as I only went to that school for my senior year so didn't get to know a lot of the other kids). So not only was I horrified and saddened by John Lennon's senseless death, I had no one to share my grief with. Fortunately at least one of the local radio stations was playing The Beatles and John Lennon music around the clock so I just immersed myself in my radio for what seemed like days.

John Lennon's death, thirty years ago today, was the single most shocking moment I can recall in my life at that point and illustrated to me how senseless and random the universe can be. One of my friends, (Mark Otto), on facebook a few days ago, commented to me that we should be happy that John Lennon left us such a huge wonderful legacy with his body of music. I agreed with him, but I still lament that I and the world were robbed of many, many years of songs John Lennon would have wrote (he was only 40 years old when he was killed). I loved Double Fantasy, the album that John Lennon and Yoko Ono had just finished when he was shot, but whenever I hear a song from that album, I have to reign in my emotions so as not to seem like a total nut case to those around me.

I know that most of my Ich Liebe Comics! blog readers aren't as ancient as me (grin), so you don't have personal recollections of what you were doing or how you felt when you heard that John Lennon had been killed, but for those of you who do have such memories, please share them here or with me when you see me at the shop. What is your favorite John Lennon / Beatles song (songs)?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Sixsmiths

The Sixsmiths are a family of Satanists and The Sixsmiths is the new graphic novel (fiction, I think - grin!) written by J. Marc Schmidt and drawn by Jason Franks about how they are just trying to go about their lives like the rest of "us". The Sixsmiths is funny because as weird as most religions are, being a Satanist is really amongst the very top of weird religions and it's going to be very hard to interact with the rest of society. Come by Alternate Reality Comics ask me about The Sixsmiths, and I'll give you a free copy of a Sixsmiths comic sampler (while supplies last) and you can see for yourself if Schmidt and Franks, humor is up your alley!


Flywires is a new graphic novel from Humanoids, drawn by Matt Cossin and written by Chuck Austen, 144 pages in glorious color, for a mere $19.95. Matt Cossin previously drew the great adventure mini series / graphic novel, Hunter's Fortune for Boom, so if you've read that you know his art is great (and if you haven't seen Matt Cossin's art, well the cover of Flywires and the two interior pages shown here should show you that Matt takes his art very seriously and the end result makes for some really good eye candy). Actually, Flywires came out in Europe in 2005 or 2006, so this predates Matt Cossin's Hunter's Fortune, but you wouldn't know that from the quality of his art here is he didn't have "2005" written in on one of the pages.

Humanoids regularly publishes graphic novels from European cartoonists, but Austen and Cossin, while they aren't European, deliver a cyberpunk graphic novel that is just as involved and beautiful as any produced by the European cartoonists I've seen.

What is a Flywire? I'm going to quote from the back cover as it offers a better "sound bite" than I can come up right at this second, so here goes: "A "Flywire is an electronic device surgically implanted behind every citizen's ear that gives them wireless access to infinite libraries of digital information." While that can definitely improve many facets of your life, the big negative is that it is also a Big Brother type monitoring device that throws out all of your privacy. Everyone is of course not happy with having a Flywire implanted within them and that's what this graphic novel explores with some great characters, smart writing, and as I've already mentioned, lovely art! And remember, Flywires, like all graphic novels and trade paperbacks at Alternate Reality Comics are 20% off through December 24th!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tales from the Boneyard signing this Saturday!!

This Saturday, Dec. 11th, from 12-3pm, Alternate Reality Comics is happy to host six of the artists who contributed to the Vegas-centric comic, Tales from the Boneyard! Pj Perez, main organizer and contributor of Tales from the Boneyard best describes this local production as a comic featuring robots, zombies, and vagrants, and at a mere $5.00 cover price, you won't find a more unique, great stocking stuffer for your friends and loved ones (and yourself if you don't already have a copy)!

Joining Pj Perez this Saturday (from 12-3pm), will be Tales from the Boneyard cover artist, Danny Roberts, Jarret Keene, Warren Wucinich, Deryl Skelton, and Vic Moya, who will be more then happy to sign copies for you and will probably not require much arm twisting (grin) to get a sketch at your request! I'll also have soft drinks and some kind of munchies, so I hope to see a lot of people show up and support some of the great cartoonists we have right here in fabulous Las Vegas and all sales of Tales from the Boneyard go directly to the artists!