Tuesday, September 28, 2010

How To Understand Israel In 60 Days Or Less; Sarah Glidden

How To Understand Israel in 60 Days Or Less is a new biographical graphic novel by cartoonist Sarah Glidden that is coming out in early November from Vertigo. No spoilers following:

How to Understand Israel... was a delight to read from beginning to end and was in no way a chore to read as the subject of "understanding Israel" might suggest to people. Cartoonist Sarah Glidden embarks on a birthright-Israel trip, a trip that is free to Jewish people, to better come to terms with that country. Sarah Glidden, in How To Understand Israel... states that she doesn't have any religious convictions and had put off this birthright trip because she feared that the tour was going to have a propaganda agenda. I'm not going to reveal what Sarah Glidden took away from her trip to Israel, but I will say that How to Understand Israel... is an excellent examination of the Israeli and Palestine conflict and really helps a skeptical reader (and non religious person) such as myself grasp the entirety of what is Israel.

While in Israel, Sarah Glidden attended a lecture by a Rabbi (which she was dreading) and discovered that he didn't just give a lecture on how one should live a "conventional" Jewish life, rather as the following passage he delivered illustrates, he offered words of advice that everyone would do well to try to emulate:

"As a Jewish State, Israel should be leading the protests of the atrocities in Darfur. We pray for two kidnapped Israeli soldiers. Beautiful. But why can't we pray for one million Africans? We must get out of this family mode. The law is a compromise for those who cannot hear the universal language. It is not the ideal. Halachah is only the beginning. So bring flowers, but don't only bring flowers."

Thank you Sarah Glidden for writing and drawing How To Understand Israel In 60 Days Or Less and to Vertigo for publishing this great heartfelt, informative graphic novel.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Drunken Dream; Moto Hagio

A Drunken Dream And Other Stories is an excellent ten story short story collection by manga cartoonist Moto Hagio, published by Fantagraphics. Fantagraphics doesn't usually publish manga in any form, so for them to publish A Drunken Dream, lets potential readers know that this material is amongst the cream of that artform. Moto Hagio has been creating / producing manga since 1969 and is at the forefront of women cartoonists in Japan, having won many prestigious awards. A Drunken Dream collects ten short stories by Hagio, but she's done many epic length series / graphic novels that sadly haven't been translated here in the U.S. (her most famous manga series here in America is They Were Eleven!).
As beautiful, haunting, dark, and sad as the stories in A Drunken Dream are, this gorgeous graphic novel also has a text overview of some other prominent Japanese women cartoonists (and you'll wish the books talked about were available here) and an excellent interview by Matt Thorn of Moto Hagio (reprinted from a 2005 issue of The Comics Journal). Even though Moto Hagio won many awards, her parents never came to terms with her doing manga and this interview has many insightful comments by Hagio regarding this.

Following is a postscript e-mail from Hagio after the above mentioned interview was completed that really speaks volumes about a few different topics:

"During the course of yesterday's interview, I came to a fresh realization. My father and mother, in an attempt to create the ideal family, disciplined us in various ways. Accepting us as we were was out of the question. In their minds, the proper way was to force children into the form the parents desired. In fact, I accepted my parents' way of discipling us and forcing us into a mold as reality. But now I wonder if that discipline itself was not un-reality, was not a fiction. I can't explain myself well, but I wonder if my parents, too, did not mistake the fiction of 'creating the ideal family' for reality? Would you call such a situation a 'self-contained domestic illusion?' And I, in order too escape from this 'self-contained domestic illusion,' fled to the worlds pf science fiction and fantasy. Hmm..."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Koko Be Good; Jen Wang

Jen Wang is a Bay area cartoonist who has had short comic book stories appear in the excellent graphic novel anthology series Flight.

Koko Be Good is her first graphic novel and is a 300 page extension of an online comic Jen Wang started in 2004. Published by First Second, Koko Be Good is only $18.99, which is a great deal for the great production values that perfectly showcase Wang's art.

Besides being a delightful visual treat, Koko Be Good is also a delightful (yes, I just used that word twice, but it really is the best way to describe this graphic novel) coming of age story that has poignant moments, but is mostly funny.

A favorite passage from Koko be Good:

"Beauty could be defined simply as 'that which pleases.' But there is another aspect to art, and that... is the sublime. Like the mushroom cloud of the atom bomb, or the vastness of space as projected to us by satellite... the greatness of the experience goes beyond your ethical and aesthetic judgment, cutting you free from the binding ego of yourself. With the diminishment of your ego, the less there is of you, the more you see the sublime."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

1 Month 2 Live

This week I finally got caught up on the past few week's new comic book releases (had a little store move to do that kept me away from my lifeblood - grin). One of the pleasant surprises amongst my reading was Marvel's 1 Month 2 Live, a five issue weekly comic about an average joe, Dennis Sykes, who while trying to be a good samaritan, ends up almost literally getting toxic waste throw down his throat. Dennis ends up in the hospital of course, told he only has a month to live, and discovers he has developed a pretty powerful super-power as a side effect of the toxic waste (isn't that what always happens - grin!?). But from this cliched premise, Rick Remender and artist Andrea Mutti manage to tell a really compelling story about a man who is trying to make his last remaining month of life make a difference, especially for his niece, Kelly (who Dennis and his wife are raising after her parents died).

Besides being a five issue weekly comic, the other interesting aspect of 1 Month 2 Live is that each of the five issues are written and drawn by a different creative team. Rotating creative teams on a title are usually a huge turn off for me, but here, three issues in, the different creators involved have obviously planned this out and 1 Month 2 Live has me eagerly awaiting how the remaining two issues play out (and I especially like the art by artist newcomer, Shane White in issue three). 1 Month 2 Live is set in the Marvel Universe, so each issue has characters like the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man involved in what is happening to Dennis.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Time Bomb #2; Paul Gulacy

Time Bomb is a three issue, 56 page comic from Radical Comics for only $4.99, of which the second issue arrived today. This time travel story by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray is full of action and intrigue, that involves scientists having to go back to Germany during World War II. And Time Bomb gets big points for not giving me a headache like most time travel stories do.

Of course the real star of Time Bomb is Paul Gulacy, who has drawn comic books since the 1970's and he's just getting better (and it's great to see his art with such great coloring and the stellar production values that Radical Comics has). Seriously, just look at these two pages from Time Bomb #2 (and or look through a copy at the NEW Alternate Reality Comics), aren't they gorgeous!?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Lark Pien art @ Casa Ralph & Kate!

Lark Pien is an awesome artist (and person!) who lives in fabulous San Francisco (and can also speak German!). She's most beloved by people who know her art for her small canvas paintings, but her art prowess knows no boundaries (some of her may know her from her comic Long Tail Kitty). The paintings here in this photo are ones I've bought from Lark at the San Diego Comic-Con over the years (of all the art we have around our house, these paintings get the most love - click on photo to enlarge!). For more Lark Pien eye candy, visit her blog at: http://larkpien.blogspot.com/.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Our Army at War

Just got done reading last week's DC Comics Our Army at War Featuring Sgt. Rock, written by Mike Marts and drawn by Victor Ibanez and had to write a heads up Ich Liebe Comics! blog entry on it before getting back to the other comics from the last two weeks that I need to get caught up on.

This was an EXCELLENT self contained comic that you'll want to share with others no matter what your opinions are on the U.S. involvement in the middle east. Next time you go to a comic store, take a look at the art by Victor Ibanez and you'll be drawn in and then when you read this heartfelt story that Mike Marts has crafted, you'll be asking for more from these creators as I am. And you get a really nice Joe Kubert cover as well!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

youngest visitor to Alternate Reality Comics ever!

Papa Brent holding his six day old (!!) baby, Constantine! Uncle Cooper is on the left. It's great people like Brent, Constantine, and Cooper that make me so glad that I have Alternate Reality Comics, otherwise I probably never would have met many of the great people I know.

Constantine chilling on the Alternate Reality Comics couch.

Monday, September 6, 2010

original art wall is up at the NEW Alternate Reality Comics!

Yesterday I finished putting up the new, bigger section of original art at the new location of Alternate Reality Comics (4110 S. Maryland Pkwy. #8). This is a section of my store that shows people at a glance the diversity of art styles comic books represent. I can't wait until people see this bigger selection here at my new space (and I am open until 6pm today, Labor Day), so stop on by and see all of the wonderful pieces without the glare that is here in this photo!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

new store location wall decor!

Tim, Electra, and her daughter, Lily, stopped by yesterday afternoon as I was putting up the posters here at the store. The area they are standing in is the children section, with the movie and television tie-in titles over to the left.

Just this morning I finished hanging posters around the store (I still have a couple of sections to do, but I'm going to wait on those areas) and I hope everyone likes the eye candy they present. I'll be carrying posters to sell in the near future, so sadly for now all of my posters on Alternate Reality Comics' walls just exist to tease people.

Now I'm going to tackle the original art wall section of the new store space, which will be a wall space three times bigger than the old location's original art display. Come on by and say hi to me and Paul today and see more of the bigger, better Alternate Reality Comics come together - and maybe buy a great new comic or graphic novel (sorry for the shameless capitalist insertion!)!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

new temp sign is up!

Until my really huge lighted exterior sign is finished (which may be as long as three weeks), my sign company finally put up my temporary banner, which will hopefully help comic book and graphic novel lovers everywhere find Alternate Reality Comics' new 4110 S. Maryland Pkwy. #8 location easier. This sign is okay, but wait until the big big big sign is done - that's going to be visible all the way to people in California!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Alternate Reality Comics enters the future!

New address for the next sixteen years of Alternate Reality Comics is 4110 S. Maryland Pkwy. #8, Las Vegas, NV. 89119, right next to Buffalo Exchange (behind Long John Silver's) at the Maryland & Flamingo intersection.

This photo, is of course of my front doors (yup, the place is so much bigger that it needs two doors - grin!) with my new door art featuring store mascot, Epstein, as rendered by my store artist, Ron Horsely, who also designed my website and the art for signs I have around the interior of the store - some of which will be HUGE exterior window images within a couple of weeks). This photo was taken at about 3am Wednesday morning after I fine tuned the store for yesterday's big debut. My huge exterior store sign and exterior window designs could take as much as three weeks until they're done, but my sign company is going to put up a temporary banner until tomorrow until the other ones are done (and right now I have a neon Batman and Superman sign above the front doors that are super visible from afar.
This is an interior shot of the new space (and this is just the left half!) that I think will give people who haven't stopped by yet a little idea of just how much bigger Alternate Reality Comics now is (it's really amazing that everything I have in the new space fit in the old location). I still have some fine tuning to do around the store, such as filling display cases and putting up a display of original art and posters, but I wanted to share one photo of how the store looks at the early stage. The store's about 80% of where I want it to be, and I think it'll be fun to unfold the other things I'm doing with the new space over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Alternate Reality Comics phase two in 7 hours!

As I write this it's 3am and I'm just now finishing fine tuning the new Alternate Reality Comics store location (4110 S. Maryland Pkwy. #8, next to Buffalo Exchange, right behind Long John Silvers at the Maryland & Flamingo intersection). I was going to post a teaser photo of the new space, but I can't find my camera computer connector, so all of you fine Ich Liebe Comics! readers will have to come see it in person (actually I think it's more dramatic that way, if I may be permitted to toot my own horn!). I will be posting photos of the new store in a couple of days though. Before I go home and get a little bit of sleep, I'd again like to thank my many friends who helped me make this move pretty darn painless!

Oh yeah, there's a LOT of comics out this week (forewarned is forearmed - grin)!