Friday, November 28, 2008

MEGA holiday sale!!

Everything must go!! Actually, fortunately, everything DOESN'T have to go, but I thought I'd have my biggest sale ever to give thanks to those who patronage my store. So starting today, November 28th, until the end of December, I'm having a 25% off sale on all graphic novels, trade paperbacks, hardcovers, and manga! This sale is my way of giving something back to all the discriminating readers who frequent my store, especially with all of the entertainment choices available. Another thing to keep in mind, is that I don't have crazy lines (like the big box stores or malls) at Alternate Reality Comics so shopping here is hopefully less stressful in that respect also.
Lots of great comic and manga volumes are looking for great homes, so hopefully this sale will make it easier for those of you that gift sequential art and or you'll be better able to treat yourself to that book you've had your eye on. Thanks again to everyone who choses my store for their comic book fix and especially you, that's right you - my audience of this blog, which makes my doing Ich Liebe Comics all the more gratifying.

La Muse

La Muse is a new graphic novel (well new in print form, it's been serialized online previously) written by Adi Tantimedh and drawn by Hugo Petrus (220 pages for $19.95). La Muse is Susan La Muse, an alien who's taken human form and has nth level super powers which she uses to correct the ills of our planet.

In La Muse, Adi Tantimedh fully explores what a person who has basically limitless powers could do to change the world. This graphic novel and its central character has a very liberal political activist slant, but La Muse isn't preachy, instead it's a very smart, highly entertaining graphic novel that really expands on what Alan Moore did with Miracleman years ago. Anyone who's ever read a superhero comic will appreciate how well thought out La Muse is. Alan Moore calls La Muse "wonderful" and he wouldn't lie to you, would he!?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

my new sign, finally

So I finally got around to changing my store sign on the pylon sign tower that is in my strip mall center. I wished I had taken a picture of my old sign just to show what a dramatic improvement my new one is.
My old sign had white letters on a red background with a lettering font that I thought was cool and distinctive, but actually was hard to read.

The lettering font that I used for my new sign (and for almost everything I do that involves signs for the store) is a font called ccgthingamjig that I bought from ComicCraft (a company that sells licensed fonts) and is of course the same lettering for the classic Fantastic Four comic from Marvel. I originally chose black letters on a yellow background because I thought it would make an interesting inverse contrast to the sign next to mine on the pylon (The Stakeout, a bar a couple of doors next to my store), but I've always liked yellow and think it really pops out.
As you can see from these photos of my new sign, there's still a few empty spaces on this pylon sign (and there are a couple for businesses like Relic that don't exist) so if you can think of a cool, exciting business that isn't already represented in the immediate UNLV area, I'd love to have some new neighbors!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Keith Knight signing Nov. 28th!

This Friday, November 28th, from 4-6pm, everyone's favorite alternative cartoonist, Keith Knight, will be signing at my shop and sharing funny stories about the feedback he gets from his cartoons.

Keith Knight is mostly known to discriminating comic book lovers from The K Chronicles, his weekly alternative comic strip, that has been collected into five small trade paperbacks, which in turn has been collected into a single, massive volume by Dark Horse this past year.
In addition to becoming a papa this past year, Keith's other baby is the daily, The Knight Life, a nationally-syndicated comic strip that the Las Vegas Review Journal has been kind enough to run in their paper for our entertainment.
The two comic strips I've posted here are from Keith Knight's The Knight Life.

And as if The K Chronicles and The Knight Life wasn't enough, Knight also does a single panel comic called (Th)ink.

Hopefully those of you reading this will have recovered from eating a lot of tofurkey this Thursday to make it out to your favorite comic book store (which I hope is Alternate Reality Comics!) the day after (Friday, 4-6pm, Nov. 28th) and share some laughs with Keith Knight!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pixie & Moto & Alucard

After three and a half months, it looks like our new kitties, Pixie and Moto (Moto's the grey one), have come to accept that we aren't just fattening them up to eventually eat them, and they've now joined Alacard (our black cat) in bossing us around.

Moto, doing her best to blend into our bed.

Pixie, with her kryptonite eyes, trying to make us give her more wet food (cats have really small brains so she doesn't realize that kryptonite eyes can't make a person do something).

Alucard, chilling in the garage, which is his version of going outside.

I thought it would take longer for the two new cats, Pixie and Moto, to adjust to us and their new surroundings, but now they roam everywhere and all three cats even get along as well as cats can.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Brave & The Bold & Watchmen

Tonight on Cartoon Network at 8pm the first episode of Batman: Brave and the Bold airs so set your dvr, tvo, or whatever recording device you use. If the animation looks like the screen capture I have accompanying this entry, than it looks to be good. I've liked all of the Batman animated series except for the last one titled The Batman, as I really disliked the design of the characters and I thought they cut way too many corners with that series' animation (not that I could even watch a whole episode of that series). Tonight's episode features Batman and the new Blue Beetle (who's an Hispanic teen-ager), with next week's episode featuring Batman and Green Arrow, and the week after will have Batman with Aquaman (so I'm guessing that Plastic Man as featured in the picture above will appear later, unless and episode features two other characters besides Batman).

For the second Watchmen trailer, click here:'ll have to scroll down a bit. The music in the first part of this trailer is by the amazing Phillip Glass and the music in the latter half is by Muse.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bottomless Belly Button

Another great graphic novel - I feel like a broken record this week, but this is a good thing, an actual embarrassment of riches for lovers of the sequential art medium. Today's book submitted for your consideration is Bottomless Belly Button, written and drawn by Dash Shaw and published by Fantagraphics Books. Bottomless Belly Button is over 700 pages for just $29.99 and while at first when you pick up this book, you think "wow, 700 pages!", but it actually reads fairly quickly, while being incredibly substantial at the same time.
Bottomless Belly Button is about the Loony family, who have come together upon the announcement that their parents are getting divorced after forty years of marriage. There's no forced drama within ala Lifetime television productions, rather Shaw has characters that react / process this new development in their family dynamic in the varied ways that people go through. The story construction of Bottomless Belly Button is similar to Alex Robinson's graphic novel Tricked or the movie Crash, without being derivative or too clever. The art evokes that of Jeffrey Brown (Clumsy, Sulk) and has a kind of slacker, leisurely pace that perfectly complements the rhythm of the story and characters.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Alan's War by Emmanuel Guibert

I've read several really good comics / graphic novels the past couple of weeks and I'd say that this has been a strong year for great works of sequential art. I think today I just read (well actually finished reading) my favorite / most excellent graphic novel of 2008 and that book is: Alan's War The Memories of G.I. Alan Cope by Emmanuel Guibert. Alan's War is the story of Alan Cope going into basic training, then into his experiences in World War II, and what he did after that war. After the war Alan Cope lived in France, where he related his story to cartoonist Emmanuel Guibert, and they had a friendship that lasted from 1994 until Cope died in 1999.

The best way I can think to describe Alan's War is that it is a quiet, reflective journal of one man's (Alan) experience during a very noisy war (but probably the one war that no one can argue shouldn't have happened). Alan didn't see any combat during World War II, even though he worked in a tank (and the way he talks about how working in a tank was before computers existed is very fascinating), so Alan's War isn't about the horrors of that war. Alan Cope led a very interesting life and would have been a great person to have known.

Alan Cope only lived in the U.S. briefly after WWII, he preferred Europe, and lived in Germany and France (he was also a quick learner so spoke both languages and even worked as a French translator for a brief period after the war). Of America, Cope said (from a passage in Alan's War): "I don't like America anymore. Sure, I liked the country, the landscape, the people - but I no longer liked the mentality. Even though there's a lot of good about the American mentality, it somehow doesn't plumb the depths of existence. And that's why, in some ways, America is not doing well. Most Americans live on the surface of existence; I wanted to know its depths."

I am thankful that Emmanuel Guibert isn't a cartoonist who feels like he needs to have an art style that is fanciful or over-rendered and has a writing style that is engaging without the need for forced drama. Alan's War is published by First Second (who also published the U.S. versions of the Guibert written Sardine In Outer Space series and The Professor's Daughter - which I haven't read, but now understand why those are so acclaimed and will be correcting my oversight). I just now read the end flap of Alan's War and was happy to read that this volume will be followed by Alan's Youth (a topic Guibert, in his introduction to Alan's War, said Guibert shared with him at length) and that First Second will be doing the English adaptation of The Photographer by Guibert, which is about "a Doctors Without Borders mission in 1980's Afganistan through the eyes of a great reporter, the late Didier Lefevre".

Go to the First Second website / blog and scroll down to the October 28th entry for a YouTube one minute video of how Guibert did the art for Alan's War - very interesting!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Solanin by Inio Asano

I read Solanin at the perfect time - right after reading Acme Novelty 19. As I mentioned in my previous entry today, Acme Novelty Library, while always great, is also always depressing, so reading Solanin, which is a wonderful paean to young people finding their way in the world, was just what the comic doctor ordered!
Solanin is written and drawn by Inio Asano and is a 420 page self contained manga graphic novel published by Viz Select for only $17.99 (most manga encompasses several volumes).

The central character of Solanin is Meiko Inoue, who's looking for meaning in life, having just finished college. Solanin is a rich, vibrant, slice-of-life book that shows the wonder that exists in everyday life if one just looks for it. And did I mention that the art is BEAUTIFUL (of course anyone looking at the pages I've postd here can see that)!?

As Inoue Asano says in his afterword to Solanin: "The most important messages in our lives don't come from musicians on stage or stars on television, they come from the average people all aound you, the ones who are just feet from where you stand." Read Solanin and you'll be transported to a happy place.

Acme Novelty Library V. 19

Acme Novelty Library is Chris Ware's blanket title for every book he does (actually they get retitled when various stories get collected into a larger book, like his Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth) and a couple of weeks ago volume nineteen arrived (hardcover, full color, 77 pages for $15.95). Although Acme Novelty Library always sells a decent amount when all comic book stores and regular book store sales are tabulated, I'd think that if Ware would make each volume as distinct as their contents and didn't have such nondescript covers, that they'd do better. Having said that though, I think Chris Ware doesn't really care about their commercial appeal or he wouldn't just create these odes to depression that Acme Novelty Library are.

The painful sadness of Acme Novelty Library volume 19 is centered on W.K. Brown / Rusty Brown, a character who is inept in the way of social graces, has difficulty interacting with others, and for whom just basic day to day living is a struggle. Brown is a fan / aspiring writer of science-fiction and Acme Novelty Library 19 contains his only published short story and like the rest of Acme Novelty Library 19, takes longing and sadness to almost unbelievable new depths. Every volume of Acme Novelty Library can be read onto themselves and even though they're sure to be amongst the saddest things you'll ever read, they have an odd kind of beauty as well. Additionally even though there's only 77 pages, one Chris Ware page equals about four or five pages from almost any other cartoonist because he packs so much information on a page and manages to do so without overwhelming the page (but even if you have great eyesight, you'll probably need some kind of reading glasses!).

Sunday, November 9, 2008

FreakAngels: Ellis & Duffield

This week the first trade of FreakAngels written by Warren Ellis and drawn by Paul Duffield (with a coloring assist by Alana Yuen) arrived at your favorite comic store (which I hope is mine, but if it's not, please let me know why it isn't). FreakAngels debuted as a weekly six page online comic in the early part of this year and continues to run weekly at I'm going to defer to Warren Ellis in his description of what Freakangles is: "It's retro-punk, it's near future steampunk and builds on the legacy of disaster fiction." I haven't been reading Freakangels online because I don't like reading comics on the computer, but I did take a peek at it a few months ago and have been eagerly awaiting its hardcopy (trade paperback) release ever since.
Freakangels is just amazing and for me it ranks amongst the best work Ellis has ever done. One has just to look at the art by Paul Duffield (where did he come from all of a sudden!?) and you'll be hooked. Duffield's art has kind of a Josh Middleton (Superman / Shazam) crossed with Ghost In The Shell (from the anime) quality that has very lush varied character designs as well as backgrounds that very much give the world of FreakAngels a context that the reader can feel. FreakAngels is only $19.99 for 144 pages (sure you could read this online, but you'll want it read and look at it repeatedly).

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Vegas Valley Comicfest 2008

Gilbert Hernadez (Love and Rockets, Sloth, Chance In Hell, Speak Of The Devil) with his daughter, Natalia Hernandez (who's in the third grade), with her first comic The Adventures of Crystal Girl.

Me with Dwayne McDuffie, writer of the excellent Justice League Unlimited cartoon, is presently writing DC's Justice League of America (in which some of his Milestone characters such as Static will be appearing next month), and some of his other writing included Beyond, Fantastic Four, and Damage Control for Marvel.
Steven Grant, holding the hardcover edition of the Punisher mini series he did with artist Mike Zeck. Grant has also written Whisper, Badlands, Two Guns, and for DC, he's written many Batman stories.

I think Vegas Valley Comicfest was a good time and seemed like a pretty good turnout. Kate said the panel she was on, Sex and Race In Comics, was well attended and she also operated the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund table, for which she signed up some new members and collected some donations. I hadn't heard yet how the other panels went or what their attendance was (and sadly didn't attend any of the panels as I like to introduce new people to my store via the booth I had at this event), but I'd see a good number of people in the comic dealers area after they got over so I think that's a good indication of how they went. I'd like to thank Suzanne Scott, the Clark County special events coordinator, for all she had done to make this happen and thanks also to Aziz, Katrina, and all the other volunteers who made everything run smooth!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Neil Gaiman & Vegas Bookfest

I'm going to do this entry of last night's sequence of events covering Neil Gaiman's keynote address for the Vegas Valley Book Festival in reserve order because my best photos of the night are in reverse order.

This first photo was taken at The Mixx at the Mandalay Bay reception (which followed Gaiman's address at the Clark County Library) benefitting Nevada Humanities. From left to right is Derrick (Comic Oasis, also here in Las Vegas), Neil Gaiman, myself, and Kate (thanks for taking the photo, Holly!). The Mixx is one of those trendy expensive nightclubs that you have to wait in a line to enter. Normally I avoid such places, but a good time was had there and the view of the city from The Mixx's 64th floor is pretty incredible.

(Photo two) Yesterday morning I remembered that I had a piece of original art hanging up in my store from the Neil Gaiman written Legend Of The Green Flame, with art by the amazing John Totleben, so I took this with me and was happy to have gotten it signed by Neil Gaiman.

(Photo Three) This somewhat blurry photo is of Neil Gaiman giving his keynote address. They requested no flashes so I turned my flash off (which explains the quality of the photo), even though several people where taking pictures throughout the presentation with their flashes on.

I'm sure that just about everyone who reads my blog knows that Neil Gaiman is an award-winning, much-beloved writer of comic books and novels, so I'm not going to enumerate all of what he's done. Neil Gaiman's latest novel is called The Graveyard Book and he did a reading from that as well as reading two short children's books he has forthcoming (in addition to writing comic books and novels for adults, Gaiman is also a celebrated children's author, with his Coraline coming out as a stop-motion animation movie next year).

My favorite part of Gaiman's address was when he talked about attending the second science-fiction / fantasy convention in China last year. Gaiman explained that in China, it has only been in the last few years that their government has been accepting of people there enjoying those genres. Gaiman said this acceptance of science-fiction / fantasy in China came about because they looked at companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Google and found that a high proportion of those companies' employees and innovators enjoy those genres. China has been really good at developing better versions of existing products / technologies, but they come up short in creating the new driving technologies that are the foundation of companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Google. So China has made the correlation that science-fiction / fantasy fuels the imagination with what could be and engages thinking outside of the box. One of Neil Gaiman's books next year is a non-fiction novel on China.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Vegas Bookfest / Comicfest reminder

Tomorrow (Thursday, Nov. 6th), the Vegas Valley Book Festival kicks off with the keynote address by Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Good Omens) at the Clark County Library Main Theater (1401 E. Flamingo off of Maryland) at 7pm. They'll start giving out wristbands at 5:30pm so I'd suggest getting there early because with Gaiman's fanbase, it could fill up pretty easily. Gaiman is also going to be at the 5th Street School doing a limited signing, but I don't know exactly where that is or too much of details about that event.

On Saturday, November 8th, from 11-3pm, the Clark County Library will have the Comicfest portion of the Vegas Valley Bookfest. There will be guests, panels, comic book movies, signings, and local Vegas comic shop representation there and it's free (except for any books you buy) so stop by for a great way to close a great week! I blogged about this event on Monday, October 20th, so check out that entry for more details or pick up this week's CityLife (which comes out Wednesday, or Thursday morning in some spots) for expanded coverage of the Vegas Valley Comicfest.

President-elect Barack Obama...

...and much rejoicing commenced! After a loooong campaign, yesterday and last night people in the U.S. (including early voters) finally woke up and elected Barack Obama as our 44th President. Truly an amazing night! The sheer number of people that worked (often on a volunteer basis) to make this happen has been unprecedented and for their efforts to pay off like it did in yesterdays elections is extremely gratifying and bodes well for this countries future.

So who's going to Obama's inaugural address January, 20th 2009? Actually, the better question would be who wouldn't want to go if they could, but I'll just watch it on the big screen because as incredible as his inaugural is sure to be, I'm sure people will be stacked on top of each other. I'm going to guess that his guest of honor will be Ann Nixon Cooper, the 106 year old black woman that Obama talked about in his acceptance speech last night, as she has lived through and witnessed many landmark events throughout her 106 years. Ann Nixon Cooper's presence at Obama's inaguration would be the exclamation mark upon this incredibly inspiring time in America as the country moves forward, filled with promises of great new ways to approach politics to handle increasingly diverse people and challenges this country is experiencing. Additionally it's going to be interesting watching the Obama family these next four years (at least).

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Obama & Vegas & the finish line!

First photo: This is the race track at Coronado High School in Henderson, Nevada, where Barack Obama appeared here in Vegas (well technically Henderson, but same difference) this morning for the 20th time since he announced his campaign for the White House. The gates opened about 6:30am and Obama arrived at 9:30am.

Second photo: In the background here you can see in big letters: "Nevada For Change" (click on photo to make the image larger). There was 15,000 people at this rally and seriously the passion for Obama as our next President is so inspiring amongst all classes, ethnicities, and age, that it's hard not to get the chills being in its presence. And I don't think this is just a case of "cult of personality", rather people really do believe that he is the engine that will drive true change and feel compelled to help make his Presidency happen.

Third photo: Nevada Democratic Senator and United States Senate Majority leader, Harry Reid, was at the rally to introduce Obama. Anyone who knows even a little bit about politics knows that Harry Reid is a get things done politician who has a very high level of respect in Washington D.C. as well as Nevada.

Fourth photo: A great sound-bite quote by Obama speaking at the rally, which sums up how I think people feel about the current state of our country: "We don't need big government, we don't need small government, we need smart government."

Through some very lucky circumstances, I was only about 15 feet from Obama at the event (the same distance I had seeing Michelle Obama this past Monday) and although the wait was long for the main event to start (as I mentioned in my Michelle Obama entry earlier this week), time goes by pretty fast with all of the excitement and history in the making that the audience is feeling and creating. Following is a bad analogy, but really, the difference in hearing Obama talk live in person even when you've heard him speak on tv and know his platforms, is like the difference in attending a really great live concert even though you've already got the cd or heard the songs on the radio - live is better and will impart upon those attending a renewed energy.

Getting back to my car after the rally I saw a great bumpersticker that read: "01/02/09 The End Of An Error." Or as a customer of mine, Al, said a couple of weeks ago to me when we were talking politics, "Now I can be on the road to stop hating my government." - (Actually those weren't his exact words, but that was the intended sentiment regarding what he said, a sentiment I share as I'm sure most everyone unhappy with the past eight years of the Bush / Cheney farce shares).