Monday, August 29, 2011

The EPIC that is James Robinson's Starman & the eve of DCnU!

The past few months, when I wasn't keeping up with reading new comics and graphic novels that arrive every week, I've been revisiting James Robinson's Starman, which spanned 80 issues, numerous annuals, specials, and mini series (so Starman was really a 100 issue comic series), that DC Comics has collected in six massive hardcover omnibuses.

Well, I've been meaning to write this entry for a few weeks now, but alas it just hasn't happened. I thought that I HAD to write this entry here on the eve of DC Comics as this week sees the debut of their first new title (Justice League #1 by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee). What do thoughts upon finishing reading Robinson's Starman have to do with DCnU (that's what the kids are calling the DC relaunch - gin)? Well dear Ich Liebe Comics! readers, read on...!

James Robinson's Starman is his magnum opus comic book saga that is definitely on par with Alan Moore's epic Swamp Thing and Neil Gaiman's Sandman. There hae been many incarnations of the Starman character at DC Comics since the 1940s and what Robinson does with his Starman (Jack Knight, the son of the original Starman, Ted Knight) is tap into DC's huge, rich catalog of characters, incorporating all of the previous Starmans into a story that is equally enjoyable to people who were familiar with earlier Starmans and people that haven't read any of the previous Starmans. James Robinson's Starman isn't just a superhero slugfest book, as Robinson wrote all kinds of stories within his Starman (crime fiction, space opera, super heroes, etc.) with characters that had actual progressions (such as characters having babies, getting older, and even dieing). Starman is often called the best example of DC's legacy characters, meaning those characters such as Flash and Blue Beetle who have had different characters wearing said character's costumes, a passing of the torch as it were.

So Ralph, what does a book like yesteryears Starman have to do with DCnU, which looks like it's not going to acknowledge DC's rich history? It has been said by DC that with them relaunching all of their superhero titles with a new number one issue, their characters are going to be younger, not having been on the scene much longer then five years. Basically what DC is doing is trying to get back lapsed readers and create a better jumping on point for new people to follow their characters. They've said that all of previous continuity isn't being erased, they're just going to pick and choose what is still a part of the new DC. I knew that DC wouldn't wait too long to bring back some of their older characters such as the Justice Society of America and concepts such as Earth 2 and just this past weekend at a convention up in Canada they announced that James Robinson and Nicola Scott would be doing a new JSA title. No details have been revealed yet as to when this will be released or how this will tie in to the new DC universe, but I think this will be part of the excitement of DCnU as we see how they re-intergrate their legacy characters with the new interpretations of the other DC characters. At the end of the day, any comic company that has fifty plus years of history, with characters that don't really age, is going to have to do something similar to what DC is doing and I do believe with some of the creative talent they have in place, there'll be more hits than misses. I also liken what DC is doing to when DC, back in the 1950s re-imagined their characters (a period called the Silver Age) and although I'm sure there were people back then that liked the previous versions, the Silver Age versions of the DC characters is fondly remembered and DC has a chance to reintroduce their characters to a whole new generation (or recharge some of the characters by getting to the core of what made those characters exciting in the first place).

Here's a great quote by Douglas Wolk from this week's Time Magazine book review of The Arcades Project that definitely applies to Starman and DCnU:

"Old art, whether magnificent or wretched, is always the raw material of new art. The artist's job, though, is to build on it or transform it, not just to offer up comforting familiarity as a talisman against the void."

And as I've said in an earlier Ich Liebe Comics! entry while I was in the middle of Starman, even if Robinson's Starman doesn't become part of DCnU, this doesn't diminish those stories and one can just dig out their Starman individual comics or Starman collections and they'll still be EPIC! And we have James Robinson getting ready to release his Shade (a great villainous character from Starman) maxi series which will have different issues done by a stellar line up of artists such as Darwyne Cooke and Jill Thompson!

So if you haven't already read James Robinson's Starman, they're collected in six massive 400 plus page omnibuses, which Alternate Reality Comics has on sale ALL the time for 25% off cover price - because I really think everyone would love these books, whether you're a fan of the super hero genre or not!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

First Artist Spotlight opening reception!

This past Friday night Alternate Reality Comics had our first Artist Spotlight reception and it was a GRAND time with a GREAT turnout! The Artist Spotlight section of the store will be mostly feature local artists, but from time to time we'll have visiting comic book artists display their art in this section of the store. We had planned to have this be a part of the store since we moved to our new location a year ago, from an idea that was first introduced to me by my friend, Paul Tompkins (who also takes care of Alternate Reality Comics on Sundays). With the additional artistry of my friend Michelle Irish and Jim McKenzie helping me fine tune this area, the space was all ready for the big show this past Friday!

Michelle recently introduced me to Keri Schroeder and her amazing artistic prowess, so I was very happy to have Keri as one of our two debut artists. Keri Schroeder's art will be on display through the end of September and if you weren't able to make it to the reception, I urge you to come by to see her work in person. Her original pieces on display are for sale and she also has prints on sale at my store which makes for great inexpensive decor for yourself or work fantastically as gifts.

Anyone who has been an enthusiast of the best in alternative comics already knows that Love and Rockets has been a sequential art leader for almost 30 (!!) years now and that Gilbert Hernandez, one half of the creative dynamo that is Los Bros. Hernandez, is a master artist and storyteller! A lot of people don't know that the artistic treasure that is Gilbert Hernandez (and his family) has called Las Vegas home for almost a decade now. And being as I've been a HUGE fan of his since he first came on the scene, I was elated when he agreed to be one of the debut artists of my Artist Spotlight here at Alternate Reality Comics! Several original pages from Gilbert Hernandez' acclaimed Love and Rockets are on display awaiting more adulation from those who appreciate the finest in black and white sequential illustration! Here in this photo is Gilbert's wife, Carol, and their daughter, Natalia (who has several issues of her own mini comic, The Adventures of Crystal Girl).

At our opening reception, Michelle recruited her friend and local musician, Zack Fountain, who plays a variety of instruments under his alias, Rushmore Beekeepers (he also sometimes has band mates) and his tunes delighted the ears of everyone who came out for this event. Zack has been creating music since the 1990s and has about seven albums out (he once recorded a song a week for a year!). Check out to see and hear for yourself the musicianship, insight, and wit of Zack Fountain and his Rushmore Beekeepers!

One of my very best friends, Harry Fagel. Harry graciously read several of his poems at my opening reception on Friday and I was more than happy to introduce his very dramatic reading style to more people. I know that some people (including myself, once upon a time) have some preconceptions that poetry is often flowery (not that that's a bad thing - grin!) and incomprehensible, but I'm here to tell you that if you are someone who thinks poetry is boring, well you haven't had the pleasure of reading / hearing Harry Fagel's poetry, which can be alternately disturbing (as a lot of it deals with what he experiences having been a police officer for almost twenty years) and humorous. Check out

Here at the Artist Spotlight section of Alternate Reality Comics, we plan to have our featured artists displays up for a month, with the opening of the next artists debuting on the last Friday of every month. I know that there are many great artists here in Las Vegas and people that live here that love art in its myriad forms, so my vision of this part of the store isn't just "limited' to art that is comic related because art in comic books is varied and covers a multitude of themes. I also hope that people who come out for the local artists featured monthly who haven't seen the different things that the comic book medium does, will be awakened to what we already know.

Huge thanks to my friends, Michelle, Paul, and Jim, who helped make this happen and a HUGE thanks to everyone who came out this past Friday and to all of my Ich Liebe Comics! readers who appreciate great art!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Alternate Reality Comics art gallery!

Once again, I've been falling behind on posting here at Ich Liebe Comics!, but I thank my blog readers for checking here from time to time. I've been really busy gearing up for the new DC titles which starts with Justice League #1, August 31st (and we'll have a special midnight launch / celebration for this book and the end of Flashpoint on midnight, Tuesday, August 30th, but I'll have have more details on this event in a couple of days). Also upcoming is Alternate Reality Comics' one year anniversary at our new space which is happening September 10th and is going to be tied into a benefit that the Very Awesome Girls Into Nerdy Activities are doing for Heaven Can Wait, an animal sanctuary. There's also something called the Maryland Parkway Music Festival happening on Labor Day weekend that Alternate Reality Comics is going to be part of, but with this entry I want to talk about the big new part of the store that is debuting this week!...

As those of you who've been into my store already know, I've long had a section of my wall devoted to original art done by various artists from various comics that have been published over the years. We have this display to share with people the diversity of styles that comic book art represents. Well since I've moved the store into my new bigger location last year, I've been wanting to expand my original art section of the store to also spotlight local artists (this is from an idea that Paul Tompkins, my Sunday herald gave me a while back). Last week, Michelle Irish, my resident artist (grin), finished fine-tuning this section (note the cool sign!) and we hung up a selection of art by Carla Speed McNeil, writer / artist of the excellent Finder, to give people an idea of what this area will look like. We also wanted to get an idea of how much art this section could spotlight without looking crowded. We've got ten Carla Speed McNeil pieces of art on display here and you can easily see how even more art can be easily displayed (depending on the size of the pieces though)

Two collected Finder graphic novels by Carla Speed McNeil, the artist that I'm testing Alternate Reality Comics' Artist Spotlight with until the debut of our first two local artists...

Keri Schroeder and Gilbert Hernandez! Keri Schroeder is the curator over at Insert Coins and also hangs her hat at the Bellagio Fine arts Gallery when she isn't creating amazing pen and ink and painted works of art (I don't want to show little images of her art because they really need to be seen in person) and Gilbert Hernandez is the creator, writer, artist of Love and Rockets (which he's done for almost 30 years!). We will have an artist reception this Friday, August 26th from 6-9pm with some entertainment provided by local poet, Harry Fagel (if you haven't heard Harry deliver his poetry, you haven't lived!) and the multi-faceted music of Rushmore Beekeepers (the entertainment part of the reception starts at 7:30)!

This is one of my very favorite pieces of art I own, from Carla Speed McNeil's Talisman volume of Finder, a story about the love of reading.

Two more wonderful Carla Speed McNeil art images!

A double page spread by Carla Speed McNeil that has to be seen in person, but it's only up at my store until Thursday, because Friday we will be getting this space ready for Keri Schroeder and Gilbert Hernandez! Their art will be up through the end of September, but I hope to see a lot of my Ich Liebe Comics! followers on debut night, this Friday, August 26th from 6-9pm because I know you all love great art and love to support the local scene (thanks for that!)!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Supergods; Grant Morrison

Supergods is Grant Morrison's new history of the U.S. superhero comic / autobiography of his evolution as a comic book writer and it is EXCELLENT! I'm going to admit up front that I haven't read all of Supergods 400 pages (yet), but I have read many of the chapters in their entirety and many other passages at length. Time constraints are the only thing that has kept me away from giving Supergods a proper reading, but when I first picked it up to "look through" it, I couldn't stop skipping around.

Anyone who has read a comic book by Grant Morrison will not be surprised that he has written a great novel about the superhero genre, but I was surprised just how good Supergods is in relating how superhero comics and the comic book industry has changed since the late 1930's (and the people writing comic books over these many years) with a perspective and sinsights that I haven't thought of or read previously. Most fascinating to me are the chapters / sections of Supergods in which Grant Morrison talks about the writing and characters of some of my other favorite comic book writers, such as Alan Moore, Mark Millar, and Warren Ellis, as well as his (Morrison's) evolution as a person and writer.

I sometimes think that Grant Morrison's style of writing is one in which he just has too many ideas (not a bad thing) and he'll go off on another fantastic idea before having really done much with the idea he just left behind, but after reading Supergods, I have a new appreciation of why he does this. And I like anyone who reads Supergods, now want to somehow find time to re-read Morrison's Invisibles, Doom Patrol, and The Filth. Supergods is a totally engaging, fascinating book and if any Ich Liebe Comics! readers have a desire to reinvent yourself, Grant Morrison's detailing of how he did this, may just inspire you to do something similar.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Looking for a great historical crime fiction thriller? Well your search is over! Last week ONI Press released a new hardcover graphic novel called Petrograd, written by Philip Gelatt and drawn by Tyler Crook (and it has beautiful duo tone coloring throughout).

Petrograd is the city that was once called St. Petersburg, and Petrograd the graphic novel is set between the two World Wars, and the central plot revolves around a plot to assassinate Rasputin and revolution. Big thumbs up from Ich Liebe Comics!

The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle, & Burbank

This past Saturday, Kate and I took a drive out to Burbank to attend a signing by The Last Unicorn creator and novelist, Peter S. Beagle, and afterwards they had a screening of the 1982 animated Last Unicorn movie at the Sunset Screening Room. The last time I was out to the Los Angeles area was back in 2002, when DC flew me out to Burbank so that I could attend the retailer meeting they had that year. The last time I drove out there was waaaay back in 1984 to check out the Violent Femmes play on their second album tour (I was also in LA back in 1995 to see Oingo Boingo, but a friend of mine drove). To say that I don't like driving on the LA freakway is an understatement, but Kate never saw The Last Unicorn on the big screen (neither had I), so we decided to brave those crazy roads for this event.

The Last Unicorn novel was written by Peter S. Beagle and published in 1968. This was one of Kate's favorite books as a wee lass and she only saw the movie when it came out on VHS some time after it was released because the movie never showed up where she lived, in Ridgecrest, California.

Recently, IDW published a GORGEOUS hardcover graphic novel version of The Last Unicorn, collecting their five issue series, beautifully adapted by artists Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon. The Last Unicorn graphic novel is the very definition of how to make a beautiful book that is timeless, ageless, and will be one of the graphic novels you'll want to share with others as an example of what the comic medium can produce when it is a labor of love as The Last Unicorn graphic novel obviously was for its creators.

I watched The Last Unicorn animated movie with Kate a couple of years ago on DVD, but I must have been pretty tired or in an odd funky mood because I don't remember it being as good as it is when we watched it this past Saturday at the Burbank screening / signing! The animation is great, especially considering they didn't have a Disney type budget. I'm sure that a lot of people, when they here or see something called The Last Unicorn, think that it will be primarily a story for little girls (this is what I thought at first also), but if you just brush The Last Unicorn off on this basis, you're going to rob yourself of a great story that really is multi-layered, with great characters and a rich story for girls and boys of all ages! I'd forgotten that one of my great unrequited loves, Mia Farrow, does the voice of the Last Unicorn, and Alan Arkin does the voice of Schmendrick the Jewish magician (he's hilarious!), with some other little know actors (grin) by the names of Christopher Lee, Angela Lansbury, and Jeff Bridges, also doing characters in The Last Unicorn (with music by America) - if this doesn't clue a person in that this is an A rated production, I don't know what will!

After The Last Unicorn screening, Kate and I talked to Connor Cochran, Peter S. Beagles' friend and agent. Right before Kate and I talked to Conner, we overheard another young guy recommending the anime series, Princess Tutu, to Conner. I corroborated to Connor that Princess Tutu is similar to The Last Unicorn in that on a superficial basis (mainly its title) appears to be something that would only appeal to little girls, but actually there's soooo much more going on, that adults and children can both appreciate. Conner also told Kate an myself the amazing story of how he became friends (and the agent of) with Peter S. Beagle, but that's a story best told by Connor.

Seriously, look up the Princess Tutu anime series, check out The Last Unicorn graphic novel and animated 1982 feature and if you're not COMPLETELY satisfied, I'll refund your money from where-ever you bought them!