Monday, October 31, 2011

The Book of Human Insects

The Book of Human Insects is the newest hardcover graphic novel manga thriller by Osama Tezuka, recently released by Vertical. This was originally serialized in Japan in 1970 / 1971, but like Tezuka's MW, and Apollo's Song, The Book of Human Insects is in not dated in any respect, instead it is one of the many graphic novels that Tezuka has done that shows why he's so highly regarded both in Japan and here in the U.S.

The central character of The Book of Human Insects is Toshiko Tomura, and this graphic novel traces her journey as she wrecks the lives of the rich and famous through her conniving, grifting persona that is horrific and exciting to watch unravel. The Book of Human Insects is a very rich graphic novel in terms of length (364 pages) and being ahead of its time and I rank it amongst the very best of Tezuka's large body of work.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

FreakAngels V.6 & Neonomicon!

A couple of weeks ago, Avatar released two great graphic novels, FreakAngels and Neonomicon, of which I'd like to write a few words upon. No Spoilers following!

FreakAngels Volume 6 is the concluding volume of Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield's online comic they started back in February, 2008. For those of you who haven't read the previous volumes, FreakAngels takes place in England, where twelve young people (the FreakAngels), who were born at exactly the same time 23 years ago, are the frontline defense for their country. Yes, these twelve FreakAngels have powers, but they don't don costumes and they don't all have the best interests of the survival of their country in mind. The final volume of FreakAngels, like the previous volumes, is excellent, and greatly brings the various plot lines together into a totally gratifying conclusion. And anyone who has seen Paul Duffield's amazing artwork, already knows what a visual delight his art is and it'll be exciting to see what he does next!

Long time Alternate Reality Comics visitors may remember when we had Warren Ellis at our store as part of his 1997 October Revolution Tour, well we're not going to have another in person visit from Mr. Ellis in the near future, but we've got something happening Friday, November 18th that should make Warren Ellis fans VERY happy (more details next week)!

The other great Avatar graphic novel release from a couple of weeks ago is Neonomicon, which collects the Alan Moore & Jacen Burrows four issue mini series along with The Courtyard, which was a prequel to Neonomicon. Neonomicon is one third Silence of the Lambs, and three quarters HP Lovecraft, equaling 100% weirdness and VERY adult subject matter that will have you on the edge of your seat, wondering how this ends (and there is an ending / closure, but if Moore and Burrows wanted to, they could definitely go forward - and I hope they do)!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Seth's new graphic novel...

Seth (cartoonist of the excellent graphic novels, It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken and George Sprott), just released a new graphic novel through Drawn and Quarterly, titled The G.N.B. Double C The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists, which actually makes for a fine companion piece to his Wimbledon Green graphic novel. Like Wimbledom Green, The G.N.B. Double C is not one of Seth's more formal narratives, rather it's a cartooning work he took on to give himself a break between finishing Clyde Fans (which still seems as if it will be a long time before we see a new chapter), and it's in the same small hardcover format with a nine panel grid per page.

Even though this isn't one of Seth's weighter comic book narratives, even a "lesser" work by Seth is still a happy day for those who appreciate something different in their sequential art entertainments. The G.N.B. Double C is narrated by one of the members of this Canadian cartoonist enclave and exists as a kind of mediation on cartooning / cartoonists / people who like this medium. Another excellent graphic novel that mines this theme is Dylan Horrocks, Hicksville, but the tone of The G.N.B. Double C is entirely different (and in his introduction, Seth, admits to being a huge fan of Hicksville, but hadn't thought of that graphic novel when working on his graphic novel). Definitely a big thumbs up for people who enjoy alternative comic books and or for people who like to think about the comic book / comic strip medium beyond just their escapist qualities!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Batman Year One animated, GREAT!

Last night I watched the recently released Batman Year One animated DVD feature and it was every bit as good as I'd hoped it would be! This is as good as adapted comics to film / animation get, with a great story, animation, and great voice work and this Batman Year One animated feature ranks at the very top of the many excellent animated features DC animation has done (especially New Frontier and Batman Under the Red Hood). This is a straight / faithful adaptation, so it is a great way to revisit this seminal story and share it with others.

Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli wrote and drew Batman Year One right after Frank Miller's Batman The Dark Knight Returns (Batman Year One being, of course, about when Baman first came onto the scene and Batman Dark Knight Returns taking place when Batman comes out of retirement) back in the mid 1980's, but it is still one of the best Batman stories ever. Actually in a lot of ways, Batman Year One (both the comic and the animated feature) is more about James Gordon rising to become police captain of Gotham and is more of a crime fiction story than it is a story about the fantastical villains Batman usually encounters and even though this was written and drawn back in the 1980's, Batman Year One is not dated in any respect and is HIGHLY recommended by Ich Liebe Comics! and Alternate Reality Comics (same thing - grin)!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Death-Ray; Daniel Clowes

The newest graphic novelette hardcover, published by Drawn & Quarterly, by Daniel Clowes (most people will know him from his Ghost World graphic novel which was also made into a good movie) is titled Death-Ray and is an over-sized hardcover representation of Eightball #23, published by Fantagraphic Books in 2004.

Death-Ray features more of Clowes' trademark nihilistic world view, this time filtered through wish fulfillment lenses. A quote from Time Magazine on the back of Death-Ray, sums up this graphic novelette better than I can: "Like Holden Caulfield with his phaser set on kill - phonies beware." If you haven't already read this, Death-Ray is a great addition to one's Daniel Clowes library and if you have, it's great to read and see this in this nice over-sized hardcover edition!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Saturday Boys & Girls Club benefit / artist event!

This Saturday, October, 15th from 11am - 5pm, Alternate Reality Comics will be hosting an artist / cosplay event benefiting The Boys & Girls Club of Las Vegas! Visiting artists from Arizona include Andy Bohn (creator, writer, artist of The Elvatron Chronicles) and Michael Stewart (who has penciled Magdalena for Top Cow), who will be joining local artist, Brice Gielgens, in sketching as well as having exclusive prints for sale! For eye candy in fabulous copsplay costumes, local favorite and Zenescope Girl of the Year, Brieanna Brock, will be joined by Agelica Virgie and Anna Von Winter!

There'll be a raffle for original art and other fabulous prizes (including gift certificates) and a HUGE .25 back issue sale, with the money raised from the raffle (raffle tickets only $1.00 each) and the back issue sale being donated to The Boys and Girls Club of Las Vegas to raise money for their art program.

We'll also be providing free snacks and beverages, so we hope to see a lot of our friends (and your friends and neighbors!) this Saturday, October, 15th from 11am-5pm for a fun time with some great up and coming artists and cosplay performers, raffles, and a back issue sale benefiting a great local organization, The Boys and Girls Club of Las Vegas!

And if you want to kick off the fun that Saturday will be, tonight (Thursday) over at Buffalo Wild Wings (190 West Craig Road, close to Craig and Commerce) from 8:30pm until whenever, there will be a drink and draw with the whole gang! You can come to drink, draw, and or just socialize!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Stargazing Dog; Takashi Murakami

Looking for a good sad story? Well you need look no further than a new graphic novel release from NBM, called Stargazing Dog, written and drawn by Takashi Murakami.
Stargazing Dog is a guy and his dog story and what happens to them that causes them to embark on a road trip and the extra sadness of the tale in this graphic novel is that it is mostly narrated by Happie, the dog. While Stargazing Dog is sad, it's not overwhelmingly depressing and has many layers of beauty within its tale (no pun intended).

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Habibi by Craig Thompson, a masterpiece!

NO Spoilers following:

Habibi is the new graphic novel opus by Craig Thompson and it is very much worth the long wait in every respect! Published by Pantheon, this is one of the most BEAUTIFULLY designed graphic novels I've seen in some time (and there has been quite a few really nice ones the last couple of years) and at 660 pages, its price of $35.00 (hardcover with no annoying dust jacket) is something you won't flinch at when you see its grandeur!

When you see a physical copy of Habibi, I'm pretty sure that like myself, you'll not want to know much about what it's about, rather letting its magic unfold as you read it, but here's my little sound bite for those of you who don't already know that a new graphic novel by Craig Thompson (Blankets, Good-Bye Chunky Rice, Carnet de Voyage) is to be celebrated from rooftops everywhere!:

Habibi is, at its core, a graphic novel about two slaves / orphans, about love and horror, and about Islam. Habibi is one of those graphic novels that will be read, shared, and studied for years and it is very much a high water mark of the graphic novel / sequential art medium. There's no way that Habibi isn't going to win the Eisner next year for best original graphic novel!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Uber artist JH Williams III Batwoman signing FUN, FUN, FUN!

From left to right: Michelle Irish, Alternate Reality Comics' resident artist and great friend, Wendy and JH Williams III, me (Ralph), and Paul, another of my great friends and a big part of what makes Alternate Reality Comics so great (Paul primarily works on Sundays so stop by and say hi to him)! Behind us is of course amazing original art from Promethea and the ENTIRE first issue of Batwoman #1 by JH Williams III! This exhibit will be in our Artist Spotlight section of Alternate Reality Comics through October, so if you didn't make our JH signing / reception this past Saturday, you still have almost a whole month to see this in person (and as fantastic as it looks in color, the black and whites and gray washes HAVE to be seen in all of their large 11x17 and double page spread glory!)! This will be the last chance for anyone to see all of the original art of Batwoman #1 in one place because JH and Wendy will be selling these pages in November (thanks to my friend, Jim McKenzie, for suggesting I ask JH to send an entire issue and for JH for allowing my store to have this honor).

As many of my Ich Liebe Comics! readers already know, this past Saturday, Alternate Reality Comics once again was honored to host JH Williams III for a signing, celebrating the debut of Batwoman #1. Actually this was a joint venture with Comic Oasis, who hosted JH and his wife, Wendy, earlier in the day (Derrick, owner of Comic Oasis, and myself do this together because we're both huge JH fans and we wanted to give more people in Vegas a chance to come out to either of our stores depending on their schedules to meet JH and see his original art).

This cake, with an edible JH Williams III Batwoman image upon it, was made by Bakery Magic, a new bakery just down the sidewalk from my store. Everyone who had a piece said it was great and this almost tempted me to stray from my vegan diet!

We've had many many great signings at Alternate Reality Comics over our 17 years and especially this past year at our new bigger space, but I'd have to say that this JH Williams III signing / original art reception surely ranks at the top (we do love all of or signings though and shouldn't pick our favorite kid - grin!)! The entire three hour event had a great flow of people getting JH William III illustrated comics and graphic novels signed, people chatting with JH about his art process and what's coming up with Batwoman, and basically people just showing up to give this great artist some much deserved ego strokes! My only lament about the store being so busy with so many people, was that I myself barely had a chance to look at all of the original art that JH and Wendy brought (but I did see some of the art for upcoming issues of Batwoman and I'm here to tell you that you've only just begun to see what an amazing artist JH is!).

This is Derrick Taylor, owner of Comic Oasis, with his cohort, Holly. Derrick told me that the first part of the JH Williams III signing at his store earlier in the day also was really busy so he wasn't able to make his Bloody Marys at his store. When I heard that he'd be coming over to my store to continue to visit with JH and Wendy, I told him to bring his stuff over to liquor up my customers / friends! I had forgotten that Derrick was a bartender in one of his former lives and had no idea that he'd have the serious set up / ingredients that he had! He made me a Greyhound (grapefruit juice with vodka) and while it was great, to my light-weight ass, it seemed to be three drinks in one! The Bloody Marys Derrick made looked like a meal in a cup, with bacon and celery as just two of the foodstuffs they contained! Thanks Derrick (and Holly), for making my JH Williams III event that was already buzzing, REALLY buzz!

Seriously, my biggest thanks is going to go to all of my fabulous friends / customers for coming to this event and sharing the love with JH Williams III and his wife, Wendy (artists really do appreciate the support and feedback), AND to JH and Wendy for being such a FANTASTIC ARTIST and such wonderful people! More photos from this event can be seen at my store facebook page, just do a facebook search on Alternate Reality Comics, Las Vegas!

To further celebrate being able to display JH's Batwoman #1 art, Alternate Reality Comics is going to extend our 20% off sale on all JH Williams III graphic novels through the end of October, so treat yourself and that special someone in your life to some great sequential art! I want to close by reminding people that they can buy the original art from Batwoman #0 and #1 beginning in November by heading over to JH Williams III's website: and clicking on "store" where you'll also find some of his other original art that is ready for loving homes!