Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Happy New Comics Wednesday 8/28/13!! Big FUN day!! New Artist Spotlight, benefit for Hero Initiative, Read Comics In Public Day, & lots of great NEW comics!

Wednesday, August 28th, our Artist Spotlight opening reception will debut 12 (!!) new paintings by local artist Ed Nesmith from 5-8pm! This is happening on an especially exciting day as it is Jack "King" Kirby's birthday (the artistic mind that co-created over half of Marvel's characters)!

To further celebrate Kirby's birthday, back in 2010, Read Comics In Public Day was established to increase awareness of the greatness of this medium! In conjunction with Jillian Kirby's (Jack's grand-daughter!) Kirby4heroes, we'll be donating a portion of the day's sales to Hero Initiative, an organization that helps comic creators in need! This will be a great way to give back to the people who make our beloved sequential arts possible.

In addition to viewing & meeting local artist Ed Nesmith, Ed has graciously offered to draw for anyone! We'll have complimentary snacks, wine &, other beverages! We hope to see you and your friends at Ed Nesmith's Artist Spotlight opening reception supporting GREAT local art and a GREAT cause in the Hero Initiative, while enjoying GREAT company and conversation! (The Cap painting shown here is one of Ed's pieces that will be rocking our Artist Spotlight!)

 Happy 96th birthday Jack Kirby - we wish you were still with us, but your numerous creations are immortal and will entertain many more generations to come!

 Some peeps Reading Comics In Public (third annual celebration, but all of my Ich Liebe Comics! readers do this all the time anyway, right!?)!

So I'm picking up our pallet of comics this morning (hopefully they'll be there closer to 6:30am than not) as our trucking company goofed up (AARRRRGGGGH!), meaning we probably won't have the new titles processed until about 11:30am (thanks for your patience and continuing patronage of Alternate Reality Comics!). What are some of the big titles that WILL be on sale today for New Comics Wednesday? Roll call:

Justice League #23, the conclusion of Trinity War which is supposed to lead directly into next week's Forever Evil #1 (which everyone has signed up for, right?), Young Avengers (supposed to be a really dramatic issue), the conclusion of Thanos Rising (which has been really good), Lazarus #3 (one of our new favs), third issue of Secret (finally!), Ultimate Spider-Man, Uncanny X-Men, Flash, Angel, Unwritten (there's a great Fables crossover going on here), and really a lot of other titles I'm spacing on as I'm going out the door to pick p the shipment - but remember Alternate Reality Comics is donating a portion of our sales today to the Hero Initiative, a non profit organization that helps comic creators in need, so everyone's purchase today will make a big difference! Also hope to see a lot of my friends tonight from 5-8pm for local artist, Ed Nesmith's Artist Spotlight Opening Reception - info on top paragraph for those of you who just scrolled down (the Captain America painting above is one of his 18 paintings that will be unveiled!)! Thanks comic book friends!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Beirut 1990: Snapshots of a Civil War; Sylvain & Bruno Ricard, Christophe Gaultier

Beirut 1990: Snapshots of a Civil War was recently released here in a translated version (from France) by Humanoids and it is the account of the few weeks brothers Sylvain and Bruno Ricard spent in Beirut to offer assistance (mostly helping in hospitals) in that war-torn country back in 1990.

 I'm going to be honest and admit that when ever I hear news from this part of the world it sounds like the same thing has been going on since as long as I can remember and my mind goes into a glaze because what's happening there is so far removed from my world / life experiences. I really am happy for the existence of Beirut 1990: Snapshots of a Civil War because through Syvain and Bruno's experiences, I get a better understanding / frame of context than I do from whatever I hear on the news.

Why would anyone who doesn't live there want to go there and subject yourself to the craziness going on there? As Sylvain and Bruno show, it's all about connecting with people and trying to help and understand that the divisions between them and us really aren't that great. While Beirut today doesn't seem much different, Beirut 1990: Snapshots of a Civil War, does show that people still have hope, love and humor in their lives there. This is about as enjoyable and accessible of a look at this region that I can think of (and though that may sound guarded, Beirut 1990: Snapshots of a Civil War is a graphic novel I'd highly recommend!).

The Lives of Sacco and Vanzetti; Rick Geary

The past few days I've been in a catching up with my graphic novel reading and one of the delights as it always is when I read a Rick Geary graphic novel, was Rick Geary's 2011 biography of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, two anarchists who were accused of robbery and murder in the early part of the 20th century. The case was very controversial (especially in Europe) and the outcome and the verdict they received is still in question today. Geary presents all of his research on Sacco and Vanzetti and their trial on a very objective plane, leaving the reader to come to their own conclusions.

Rick Geary has written and drawn several Victorian true crime murder graphic novels for NMB, including: The Terrible Ax-Men of New Orleans, Lizzy Borden, Abraham Lincoln, the Kidnapping of the Lindberg Baby, The Assassination of President Garfield, The Mystery of Mary Rogers, and Jack The Ripper. All of Rick Geary's graphic novels are excellent and even if you think you know everything about the subject of one of Geary's graphic novels, after reading Geary's version you'll more than probably discover some new facets and or marvel at the way Geary has presented these historical records. Rick Geary's handsome graphic novels come in affordable hardcover and softcover versions and are great books to share with people who love history or people who are new to what comics can do beyond the escapist genres.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Red Handed The Fine Art of Strange Crimes; Matt Kindt

 Red Handed The Fine Art of Strange Crimes is a new graphic novel by one of the most unique / inventive creators working in comics / graphic novels today, Matt Kindt. This excellent, full color hardcover is published by First Second, a company that has a great track record publishing great graphic novels.

Red Handed is, like most of Matt Kindt's alternative comic book creations (Pistolwhip with Jason Hall, SuperSpy, Two Sisters, and his excellent comic / graphic novel series Mind Mgt. from Dark Horse), hard to narrow down as to what genre it should be placed with, but I'd say that on the surface it could comfortably fit in any crime fiction section. Describing what Red Handed is about isn't a simple thing to do either, but at the same time it does have a narrative that you'll be able to understand while you're reading it, while you're also wondering what various subplots and other characters have to do with the greater whole - and they all very much have something to do with the greater whole. 

 Matt Kindt has been working in this medium for something like fifteen years now, he came out of the gate strong and he's only getting better. Red Handed The Fine Art of Strange Crimes will definitely be on my top ten list (probably top five) for best graphiic novels of 2013.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

March (Book One); John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, & Nate Powell

 March is a new graphic novel by Congressman John Lewis, written with Andrew Aydin (one of his long time aids in Washington D.C.), with art by Nate Powell, recounting the early days of the Civil Rights Movement of the  1960s. In this first volume of three (125 pages, published by Top Shelf, for a mere $14.95), John Lewis covers the early period of his life as a boy growing up on a farm in Alabama. Very early on he develops an interest in sermons and when he is taken on trips to big cities in Tennessee and elsewhere, he sees how much different black people live and are treated in comparison to white people. This experience imparted in John Lewis to make learning a priority in his life so that he could make a difference in segregation being abolished.

This first volume of March starts its look at the Civil Rights Movement early development through Rosa Parks, Brown Vs. The Board of Education of Topeka, shows Martin Luther King Jr.'s emergence as the spokesperson for the  Civil Rights Movement (especially his strong belief that this Movement come about through peaceful resistance), the many sit-in protests at businesses discriminating towards black people, and closes with showing how important Justice Thurgood Marshall will be to the Civil Rights Movement. This is a part of our history as a country that I'm elated to see getting such a prominent graphic novel treatment, and I'm also happy that March has in only a couple of months, gotten so much attention and is not just a historical point by point rehash of events, but also a personal, very engaging narrative.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Happy New Comic Wednesday 8/20/13! Comics, how we love you!

Second FUN issue of Batman 1966, if you like the 1960s television show, you'll love this wacky comic! Not pictured, but a couple of other notable arrivals today include, Batwoman, Fables, and Thief of Thieves! And Gilbert Hernandez' beautiful hardcover collection of Tales From Palomar has landed also!

Daredevil with Silver Surfer guest starring - can't wait to read this! There's three Infinity tie-ins today (including Thunderbolts, which issn't included in  these photos) and another sure to be fun issue of Nova!

Is this a GORGEOUS cover on the Willow trade paperback, or what!? To the left of the Willow trade is the second issue of Chin Music (finally, right?)!

Next Wednesday, August 28th, at Alternate Reality Comics, we're going to have all day celebrations because it's Jack King Kirby's birthday (and a portion of the days sales will be donated to Hero Initiative, a charitable organization that helps out comic creators who are ill of health and we're doing this in Kirby's granddaughter, Jillian's name) and it's Read Comics In Public Day! Closing these celebrations next week will be the opening reception of our next Artist Spotlight featuring ED! Ed's been a long time customer (but strangely, I don't know his last name!) and friend and if you've seen the painting he did of Epstein hanging over the  front counter area, you know you're inn for some more great art - the opening reception will be from 5-8pm next Wednesday, August 28th (12 new paintings!)!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Marvel Comics The Untold Story; Sean Howe

 Marvel Comics The Untold Story, written by Sean Howe and published in 2012, is a history of Marvel Comics, from its start as Timely Comics back in 1941 all the way through 2011. I finally blocked some time aside to read this last week and pretty easily clocked through its 430 pages (keeping up with new comics and graphic novels doesn't leave me much time for novels generally).

I've been reading comics since 1975 and have always been fascinated at the behind the scenes aspects of this medium, so I'd read anything I'd find that would shed some light on the creative people that produced these comics that I loved so much. So a lot of Marvel Comics The Untold Story recounted episodes that I'd read / heard about, but Sean Howe talked to 150 people who worked at Marvel throughout these years, imparting information that I'd never heard before.

Some of the interesting things I learned from Marvel Comics The Untold Story (these could be regarded as spoilers to some people, but I'm presenting them here to give people a better idea of what this book is like). The Black Panther was originally going to be called the Coal Tiger! Many of my favorite writers and artists experimented with LSD in the early 1970s (I shouldn't really be surprised learning this, having read the comics they worked on - grin!). Actually, Sean Howe devotes a good portion of The Untold Story on Marvel in the 1970s, like how for the longest time, Marvel had constantly changing editor in chiefs (like Roy Thomas, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, and Gerry Conway - I didn't know that Marv and Len didn't like Gerry Conway back then). Also interesting was how Marvel Comics almost published several DC titles like Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern (I'd heard about that but until reading this book, didn't know why they ended up not doing that)! The crazy days of the 1990s with cover gimmicks and the superstar artists and how Marvel tried to be its own distributor was also a fascinating read, because even though I'd lived and known about a lot of that, the way Sean Howe connects this part of the mediums history was really engaging.

I highly recommend Marvel The Untold Story to anyone, in fact, I'll leave my copy at Alternate Reality Comics so anyone can borrow it (meaning you can take it home - just please actually read it and return it so that others can borrow it)!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

New Comics Wednesday 8/14/13! One of those all the greats are out weeks!

So I've only read two of this week's comics thus far, Walking Dead and Infinity. I have a good reasons reasons though, I saw a sneak peek of Kick Ass 2 last night and I've finally gotten around to reading the novel Marvel The Untold Story by Steve Howe (I'm on page 250 of its 430 pages, I rarely have times for novels anymore, so this is a good pace for me in the span of a few days). Marvel The Untold Story is an utterly fascinating history of the evolution of Marvel Comics, from its start as Timely Comics in 1941 all the way to Marvel as we know it today - being that I've read comics since 1975 and have always read what I could about the behind the scenes developments, I knew about quite a bit of what's within these pages, but Howe has talked to many people who were at Marvel and he's unearthed some really interesting comic book history that I hadn't heard previously (such as the Black Panther was going to originally be called the Coal Tiger!!).

Walking Dead - a CRAZY good issue, so much crazy in this issue, you'll want the next one immediately after reading this issue! And look at the other big Image releases this week: a new issue of Saga (!) - yes, it's been a few months, but between new story arcs they like to give Fiona Staples a chance to get ahead, new issues of East of West, True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, and the  second issue of Ghosted (we still have copies of the great first issue left)! And Congressman, John Lewis's graphic novel, March, about the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, with art by Nate Powell, makes its post San Diego Comic-Con debut!

Infinity is Marvel's next big event involving Thanos and the Inhumans, written by Jonathan Hickman. Hickman is one of my favorite thinking outside of the box writers when he's on, as with his East of West, Manhattan Projects, and Fantastic Four. Presently he's also writing Avengers and New Avengers, but those two titles have mostly just been big ideas, with little being revealed on how everything is connected. Hickman is good with connecting his big ideas, so I have confidence that he will start bring the ideas, characters, and concepts he's got going on in his Avengers books together and it looks like he's going to do this largely in Infinity.

Infinity is almost 50 pages in length, so it's almost the size of three comics, and there's a lot of big things being hinted at within the first issue, with great art by Jimmy Cheung. I'd like to have more of a sense of what exactly is going on with Infinity, but again, I trust Hickman to bring everything together and I'm looking forward to big things happening with Thanos and the Inhumans (and the first 40 people who buy this title today at Alternate Reality Comics today will get a free Infinity Scottie Young "print"!).

Damn, I just back-spaced my third photo out of this entry (I upload these photos at the store Tuesday night after I put the new titles on the shelves and then write my blog on Wednesday morning at my house so don't have access to my photos which are on my store computer)! Anyway, if this photo was here like it's supposed to be you'd see that the fourth chapter of the Justice League Trinity War is out, as well as the second issue of Adventure Time Candy Capers, the third chapter of Batman Zero Year, Thor, Batgirl, Fantastic Four, and Nightwing, are some of the other big titles out today!

Those of you who are really paying attention will have noticed that I have Trillium on one of my new spotlight racks in the photo above and that this is a title that came out last week. Yes, Trillium did come out last week and although I had good traffic with this new Jeff Lemire Vertigo first issue love story that spans a thousand years, I think there's many people who may have missed this - seriously, everyone who likes Saga will like Trillium - money back guarantee at Alternate Reality Comics!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

New Comics Wednesday 8/07/13! And Saturday Las Vegas Valley Humane Society Benefit Silent Auction!

  A most excellent Happy New Comics Wednesday to all of ye! My pick for one of the best new series to debut in recent memory, is Trillium, written and drawn by Jeff Lemire and published by Vertigo. Trillium is a love story that spans the time stream and the way it begins is truly different (and Lemire's art is excellent!)! Speaking of great first issues, JMS' Sidekick is a really good, dark take on the kid sidekick superhero story! We also get two really entertaining issues of Swamp Thing and Kick Ass, and the second issue of Hunger (which is the start of what's going to ultimately happen to the Ultimate Universe) and the collected Alan Moore Fashion Beast have arrived...

 This week's All New X-Men is probably my favorite issue to date of this series (with some interesting interaction between Hank and Jean as you can see from this cover), three different Spidey titles are out today (which includes the second issue of Superior Carnage), Avengers, second issue of Deadpool Kills Deadpool and the second Avengers A.I, and Cable and X Force.

 DC is back after last week's annuals, with Detective, Action, and Earth 2, and a new issue of the great crime horror series Fatale, by Brubaker & Phillips is out today! And important fun event news for the benefit for the Las Vegas Valley Humane Society Benefit / Silent Auction we're having at Alternate Reality Comics this Saturday from 12-4pm!:

San Diego Comic-Con exclusives silent auction (some of the items up are: Thunderbolts action figure set, Deadpool Taco Truck action figure set, sketchbooks, variants), raffle prizes (everyone who comes to the event gets one free raffle ticket; some of the prizes are hardcover graphic novels, Hello Kitty Monopoly, gift certificates), we'll have local artists Warren Wucinich,Joyce Hedelund, & Donovan Petersen doing sketches for people for donations, & the Very Awesome Girls Into Nerdy Activities will be making baked goods for your small donations! The only way this will be more fun is if you tell everyone you know about this benefit for our furry friends!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Goddamn This War!; Tardi & Verney

 Back in 2010, Fantagraphics released a translated version of Jean-Pierre Verney and Jacques Tardi's It Was The War of the Trenches, a graphic novel about World War I. It is the most fantastic version of World War I that I have ever read or seen. Goddam This War! is Verney and Tardi's follow up graphic novel on WWI that came out fifteen years after It Was The War of the Trenches (when they were originally published in France) and it is every bit as fantastic as its predecessor (but it can be read unto itself even if you haven't read Trenches)!

Tardi is a fantastic (I'm probably going to use that word a lot in this entry!) artist, but as fantastic of an artist as Tardi is, Verney's writing is some of the best writing I've ever read! His writing about the harshness and brutality of WWI is both beautiful and sad in his depiction of the horror. Check out this passage:

"They call it the Sacred way. Why not the Holy and Glorious Rose-Strewn and Incense-Scented Path to Paradise? The more pious the name, the more atrocious the sacrifice and the surer our place at the sie of th Lord, in clouds of phosgene gas...That religious crap has always made me want to puke into holy water."

Or this following passage:

"Berlu got himself killed while he was taking a crap. Decapitated by a shell fragment. He died clutching his ass-scratcher, on which he'd carved the Holy Cross of Jesus, protector of France and the poilus. The poor bastard didn't even have time to wipe himself."

Goddamn This War! get Ich Liebe Comics! highest recommendation! Did I mention that Goddamn This War! is FANTASTIC!?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Thermae Romae; Mari Yamazaki

Recently, the second volume of what will be three volumes here in the U.S., Thermae Romae by Mari Yamazaki was released and having just finished it this morning, I'm here to tell you that it's another fantastic volume about the bath houses of ancient Rome and modern Japan.

The reader gets an entertaining education of bath houses of ancient Rome via the central character, Lucius, who lives in ancient Rome and designs bath houses. We also get to experience modern day bath houses of Japan also via Lucius, who from time to time gets transported to present day Japan (don't ask how, that's not important and doesn't get explained anyway). When Lucius gets transported to modern day Japan, of course he is amazed at how far technology has progressed, especially that of bath houses and plumbing. In this volume Lucius spends more time in modern day Japan (and he has no control over how long he is in our present era, nor does he speak Japanese) and he's able to remember his future trips and can even take objects back to his time period. Mari Yamazaki, the cartoonist, doesn't concern herself with the time paradoxes this creates, she is just presenting an entertaining, educational, often humorous account of the differences between bath houses of ancient Rome and modern day Japan. Towards the end of this volume, Lucius meets a young Japanese woman who has studied Latin and can speak it (she developed a fascination for ancient Rome at a young age) and she tries to help Lucius understand things like television (not very successfully).

Thermae Romae is an expensive graphic novel ($34.99), but it is about 400 pages in length and it is over-sized. I suspect that one of the other reasons that it is priced as such is because it has a low print run here in the U.S. (in Japan it was hugely successful). I'm thankful that a graphic novel such as this exists because it is a great illustration that any story can be told in comic book form and hopefully it's selling well enough in the U.S. so that we get the concluding volume (check your local library, they may have a copy or you may be able to put in a request that they get this for you or you could put this on your gift wish list). 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Carter Family Don't forget This Song; Frank M. Young & David Lasky

 This year's Eisner winner for "Best Reality-Based Work", The Carter Family Don't forget This Song, a biography of the Carter Family, by Frank M. Young & David Lasky was very deserving of this distinction. The Carter Family Don't Forget This Song is a beautiful 192 page hardcover, which also comes with a CD of early recordings of the Carter Family.

 This graphic novel spans the history of the Carter Family from the early 1920's through 1944. Mostly centering on Alvin Pleasant (A.P) and Sara Carter and how they went from being farmers to writing and recording what is largely regarded as the foundations of country music (June Carter Cash is the Carter most people are probably familiar with). As anyone who is familiar with history knows, the 1920s through 1944 were some of the most difficult times for everyone and the Carter Family were not excused from hardships, both personal and financially, thus The Carter Family Don't forget This Song, is not just a history of the Carter Family, but a history of that time period. Definitely recommended for anyone who is interested in old country music (not the over-produced sap that is called country music on most of today's country music radio stations) and the struggles of Americans in the early part of the 20th Century.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Strange Attractors; Charles Soule & Greg Scott

Strange Attractors is a new hardcover graphic novel written by Charles Soule and drawn by Greg Scott. Charles Soule has all of the makings of a great "new" voice on the comic writing scene. He previously did 27, for Image, a mini series that centered around that age that several legendary rock artists died at. Presently he's doing some interesting things as the new writer of Swamp Thing, Red Lanterns, and Thunderbolts, and he's got a new series called Letter 44 about space travel and secret histories coming out from Oni Press, and he'll be writing the upcoming Superman / Wonder Woman series. Artist Greg Scott, is primarily a fine art and design artist and Strange Attractors is his first sequential work and a very impressive debut it is!
One of the primary characters of Strange Attractors is Dr. Spencer Brownfield, who believes that he has been holding New York City together for years from unraveling through a series of Chaos Theory actions he takes. He gets the attention of Heller Wilson, who initially buys into his hypothesis concerning the interconnectedness of NYC and how it's important to continue to follow through on what Brownfield is doing (claims to be doing) or New York City will totally collapse. This premise may seem more than a little out there, but writer Charles Soule sells this right from the onset of Strange Attractors, making this graphic novel a very different kind of story and as I'm thinking about it just now, this is the closest we'll get to seeing what Alan Moore set out to do with his ambitious Big Numbers that was never completed, but had the same theme. Ultimately though, as Charles Soule states in his into, Strange Attractors is his love letter to New York City and reading it really makes me want to pay a proper visit to that city (I'd only been there previously for one day, way back in 1980)!