Monday, May 30, 2011

The Influencing Machine

A couple of years ago I visited my friends Rick and Zena in Florida and one of the things we did was go to the Miami Book Festival. At this festival one of the cartoonists that was there was Josh Neufeld (writer and artist of the great graphic novel A.D.: New Orleans After The Deluge) and after listening to him on this excellent panel he was part of, while I was getting the aforementioned graphic novel signed by him, I asked him what he was working on next. So he told me about The Influencing Machine and I had been eagerly awaiting it until its arrival last week. The Influencing Machine is one of those graphic novels that shows the endless possibilities of the sequential art medium and is highly entertaining to boot.

The Influencing Machine is subtitled Brooke Gladstone On The Media because it is written by Brooke Gladstone and it is about the media (I love a book that has a cool title and describes what the book is about). I listen to NPR a LOT, but for whatever crazy reason, before reading this graphic novel, I'd never heard of On The Media, an NPR program that Brooke Gladstone is cohost of and managing editor of. Amongst the many hats Gladstone wears at NPR, she also is the senior editor of Weekend Edition and All Things Considered.

As the title of this graphic novel states, The Influencing Machine is about how the media both in the past and present shapes and distorts our understanding of the world around us. Even if you already know some of the honest and dishonest ways in which various medias present news to the end consumers (us), The Influencing Machine outlines the failures and successes of media in a way that will make you even smarter than you previously were and Gladstone and Neufeld's graphic novel is in no way a chore to read, rather it helps process these ideas in a very fluid, entertaining fashion. The Influencing Machine gets the full five Epsteins recommendation (five is the highest)!

For a cool little animated taste of The Influencing Machine check out the following link:

Friday, May 27, 2011

Alternate Reality Comics has a resident artist!

This week, a friend of mine and local artist, Michelle Irish joined Alternate Reality Comics to help steer the store into some new ventures I've got coming up (one of her main projects will be helping my Sunday herald, Paul Tompkins, make a new part of the store happen that Paul first thought of when I was first considering moving the store last year)! Don't worry Ron Horsley, Michelle won't be replacing you as my main artist because you've really been the main driver for the new visual look of Alternate Reality Comics! Michelle joins Paul Tompkins, Jim McKenzie, and Jason Lovin (my sometimes substitute), and myself (Ralph Mathieu, of course) as part of the front lines of Alternate Reality Comics, so say hi to her if you see her on your next visit to Alternate Reality Comics!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Tattered Man

This week Image released The Tattered Man by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, a graphic novelette (only $4.99) about the Holocaust and a spirit of vengeance.
Even though The Tattered Man has story elements that are set around what happened during World War II, specifically the Holocaust, it is a work of fiction which also has supernatural wish fullfillment aspects (the spirit of vengeance, the Tattered Man). Sadly stories about the Holocaust don't have to have larger than life things happening in the narrative to be powerful stories, but Jimmy Palmiotti and artist Justin Gray have created a work that is really strong and personal and will hopefully inspire readers to seek out other stories (preferably true ones) about the Holocaust.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rocketeer Adventures #1

This past week, IDW released the first issue of their Rocketeer Adventures anthology comic and it is FANTASTIC both in story and art! The Rocketeer was created by Dave Stevens, who sadly died last year. Anyone who has ever read and oogled at the art of Dave Steven's Rocketeer, knows that this character and ever page he wrote and drew was a labor of love for him. All of the contributors of the first issue of Rocketeer Adventures carry on Dave Stevens' legacy with equal love and admiration.

Planetary artist John Cassaday, writes and draws the first story, with colors by Laura Martin, and if you don't look at the credits page before reading Cassaday's story, you'll think it was a Dave Steven's story that never saw print. It's pretty eerie how well Cassaday apes Stevens'art style. The second story is by Madman creator Mike Allred, with colors by his wife, Laura Allred, and Allred brings his trademark fun and crisp clean lines to a wonderful story called "Home Again." The third story is my favorite, called "Dear Betty" and is written by Kurt Busiek and illustrated by Mike Kaluta. It's so great to see Mike Kaluta draw sequential art after a long absence (his Madame Xanadu arc for Vertigo was amazing). There's also some great pinups within this first issue and with creators like Darwyn Cooke lined up for future issues, I'm only sad that Dave Stevens isn't around to see the love being brought to his characters for new generations of fans.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Paying For It; Chester Brown

Paying For It, Chester Brown's new graphic novel about his experiences / thoughts with prostitutes, will be one of the very most controversial books (not just graphic novels, all books) of the year. Whatever your thoughts are about prostitutes and those that frequent them, you won't be able to put Paying For It down once you get started reading it (unless you come into this reading experience looking to get stimulated sexually through another person's sexual exploits).

Paying For It gets my highest possible recommendation, it is engaging, thought provoking, and highly entertaining. I will almost feel guilty asking you to "pay for this book" (grin), but this is a graphic novel you will want to share with others to see what their reactions will be.

Harvey Pekar "On The Fly"

Harvey Pekar, writer / creator of the American Splendor autobiographical comic (of which there's an excellent movie with the same title) died last year. I, like most people who knew him and his work, were saddened because even though he had a long bout with cancer that it looked like he'd licked, his death was sudden and surprised everyone. Pekar's death was especially sad because he was working on a number of projects and it looked like we wouldn't see any of this new work from him now that he was dead.

I'm happy to report that we will still be seeing new work from Harvey Pekar that he had in various stages of completion, as with the release of last week's collection of short stories called Huntington, West Virginia "On The Fly" and the illustrations by Summer McClinton is some of the best art to grace Harvey Pekar's stories. "On The Fly" features the trademark Pekar look at everyman existence and the grandeur that can be found in every person's life. I especially like the story that featured the owner of Big Fun, a comic toy shop (but that shouldn't surprise anyone - grin). More please.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tumor; Fialkov & Tuazon

Tumor is a hardcover crime fiction graphic novel that came out last year (but that I somehow haven't read until today) from Archaia, written by Joshua Hale Fialkov and illustrated by Noel Tuazon. Now I know why I've sold so many copies of this graphic novel the past year (the art style alone and the nice packaging job Archaia always does with their graphic novels had me put this book on my to be read list and I regret not having gotten around to doing so sooner).

Tumor is so titled because the central character, Frank Armstrong, who is a private investigator of sorts, has a tumor, which only serves to be the punctuation to his troubled life. This graphic novel moves along at quite a rapid pace, has great nuanced characters, and an art style that is more than equal the tight, exciting story that unfolds. Tumor is totally deserves its nomination for best graphic novel - reprint (I think it was first done for the Kindle) in this years 2011 Eisner Awards!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Free Comic Book Day 2011 was off the hook with FUN!!

Sorry I'm just now getting my FCBD 2011 Ich Liebe Comics! entry up, but I've had a crazy busy week with my friend Rick Tucker (who was my first Sunday store herald from 1995-1997, he was visiting from Florida) and doing a cool little remodeling thang here at the store.

I'm still on a super high from how well EVERYTHING came together last Saturday for the first free comic Book Day at Alternate Reality Comics' new location! In this first photo here is a really good friend of mine, Janice Rollins - I'm so glad that she and her boy toys (grin) made it out!

From left to right: local artist Brice Gielens, local artist Warren Wucinich, and as uber cool Harley Quinn, Kit Kendall! Brice and Kit also have a website facebook page on which they have some cool things you should check out (and some you can even buy)! I don't have a photo here of Rick Tucker, but he also drew for the multitudes that showed up. I've got more photos of last Saturday on my store facebook page, Alternate Reality Comics, Las Vegas! (with photos of some of the art done that day), so I hope that those of you who aren't already checking out that page, will do so.
Lucky me, with Stephanie Payne and her V.A.G.I.N.A. gals (Very Awesome Girls Into Nerdy Activities), sporting their new capes which Stephanie made! They also made cupcakes (!!) for the peoples and were a BIG part of the entertainment of the day!

Another good friend of me and Kate (who was going to cosplay as Tank Girl, but she was trying to shake this dumb cold I gave her), who has cosplayed and helped us out at previous FCBDs, this year cosplaying as a Star Trek crew member, with Sewit - seriously, I'm SOOOOO happy that everyone was having such a FUN time!

Local teacher and comic book enthusiast, David Jurvelin, with his lovely daughters who definitely share David's love of all things comic book related!

I want to give a HUGE thank you to everyone who came out to Alternate Reality Comics' 2011 FCBD celebration (and readers of Ich Liebe Comics! who were there in spirit) - this was our biggest FCBD EVER and that's saying a lot, as FCBD has been tremendous every year! I'd also like to thank my heralds, Paul Thompkins, Jim McKenzie, and Jason Lovin, for helping me in many many ways that made everything run as smoothly as it did last Saturday! Thanks to artists Brice Gielgens, Warren Wucinich, and Rick Tucker, for doing your drawing magic for the peoples - lots of people got VERY cool illos and had big smiles on their faces. HUGE thanks also to Kit Kendall, who cosplays the best Harley Quinn I've ever seen, Christy Young, for her awesome Star Trek cosplay, and to the V.A.G.I.N.A. gals for being great eye candy and giving people photo moments they'll treasure for a long time! Thanks also to the Muncheeze food truck who came out!

Of course FCBD wouldn't be possible without Joe Field, of Flying Color Comics, in Concord, California, who invented the day, so a big tip of my hat to Mr. Field! And hugs and love to the comic creators of this years' FCBD selections, Diamond Comics Distribution and the publishers! I really hope I haven't forgotten to thank anyone, but I'm actually still trying to process all of the excitement of that day, so if I did, I'll chalk it up to that! As much fun as everyone who came out for Alternate Reality Comics' 2011 FCBD celebration was looking like they were having, multiple that by 100 for how much fun I was having that day!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Free Comic Book Day - this Saturday!

The 10th Annual Free Comic Book Day at Alternate Reality Comics (next to Buffalo Exchange at the Maryland & Flamingo intersection) will be THE place to get your Free Comic Book haul, as we have a plethora of things going on: Harley Quinn (Kit Kendell), Tank Girl (Kate), an emissary from Star Trek (Christie), the VAGINA gals (Very AWESOME Girls Into Nerdy Activities - come by and learn how you can join up with them!), three local artists doing sketches (Brice Gilgens, Warren Wucinich, & Victor Moya!), and too much other fun stuff to fit here (and did I mention FREE COMICS!?!)! & the Muncheez food truck will be here also (from 11am-2pm)!

This being the 10th annual Free Comic Book Day and the first one at Alternate Reality Comics' new location, I would like my beloved Ich Liebe Comics! readers to wake your neighbors, bring your kids, your friends and enemies because as those of you who have already been to Alternate Reality Comics know, we have a comic book for whatever your reading tastes are and this Saturday, May 7th, from 10am-7pm, there'll be FREE COMICS for whatever piques your sequential art boat!