Tuesday, 30 May 2017

May 2017's Pull List - The FCBD Comics

It's taken me practically the entire month of May but, finally, I've gotten through all the comics which I picked up on Free Comic Book Day 2017.

As mentioned previously, I had picked up 13 free comics on the day, attempting to select a nice, varied array of choices in the hope that maybe I'd find something new to sink my teeth into in the long term. Therefore, in order to help with this plan, I've decided to write a little something to help me maintain my thoughts on each title.

So, here goes:

Buffy: The High School Years - I must admit, while the cover implies it to be a very all ages book (which it kind of is), I wasn't sure I would enjoy this. Thankfully the Buffy story, while not being incredibly enthralling, was fun enough with some truly gorgeous, light artwork. That said, I'm not entirely sure it was gripping enough to make me try any additional issues, but it was nice enough way to spend a few minutes. On the other hand, the Plants vs Zombies back up had no such positivity to me. The art as fun and colourful, but it also seemed a little all over the place, as was the story which just felt a bit non-sensical to me. That series, based on this, I would definitely avoid I think.
Kid Savage - I've never really been that interested in Manga and Kid Savage, which looks incredibly Manga from start to finish, doesn't really improve that position. Pretty much from the get go, I couldn't get into this story, which is most likely down to the lack of dialogue and that very over the top artwork, although it certainly was colourful. The back up, Pix seemed a little better because it was colourful without being over the top and felt pretty damn adorable overall. However, this also didn't feel like my cup of tea and so I would most likely give both a wide berth in future.
The Legend of Zelda - I've never really been someone who was into Manga but the guy next to me in the queue recommended I pick this up. However, it would appear that my view on Manga hasn't really changed as I really struggled to follow this book and it's back to front reading style, although the art did look cool and if I can ever understand how it's laid out, I may give it another chance.
Steam Wars: Strike Leader - I wasn't quite sure what to expect with this, but I must admit that I really enjoyed Steam Wars: Strike Leader. The story, with the world designed as a cross between the Battle of Britain and Steampunk, was quite enjoyable and wasn't too heavy but gave just enough to intrigue me. However, what really had me hooked on this comic was the artwork, which consisted of soft pencils and light, pastel-esque colours, looked absolutely stunning, suited the steampunk vibe and made me think of a video game, Aqua, which looked equally cool. In all, I think this might be worth looking out for and picking up in some manner in the future.
Riverdale - Although I was unsure about this, I thought I'd pick it up as it might give me an idea about what the to series might have in store when I get and to it. Unfortunately, this just wasn't a book for me as it felt really in keeping with modern teen dramas and too full of Angst, something I'm not sure I expected or wanted in an Archie series. Besides this, the art and writing, while solid, didn't stand out either and leaves me not only wanting to give any series to come out of this comic a miss, but also considering to steer clear of the show.
Star Trek The Next Generation: Mirror Broken - Despite being a Trek fan, I'm not really into the comics surrounding the series. However, Mirror Broken was a really enjoyable comic with some very cool artwork. I do love the mirror universe and it's fun to see something not yet seen, especially with the art looking very dark to give everything a unsettling, creepy vibe. Unfortunately, the previews for Boldly Go, Farpoint and the Green Lantern crossover didn't appeal as much to me but with Mirror Broken it was just twisted enough and offered just enough about that world that I might actually pick it up.
2000 AD - I've never been much of a 2000AD fan (despite my love of the more recent movie). However, a good portion of this book I really did enjoy. The highlights here were definitely the Dredd story, which was a really good read (to my surprise), the Anderson story seemed cool and the Death art by Dave Kendall looks Templesmith level fantastic. On the other hand, the Hope story, while looking noir-like cool, felt a bit slow while the Blackblood story I just struggle to get on board with, both in terms of story and art. That said, I think I enjoyed enough of this book that I might make some inroads into reading some 2000AD in future.
I Hate Image - There isn't much I can say about this book, except for 'I Hate Image is F$%*&£$ insane!!!' This isn't a bad thing at all though as I really loved both the humour and the art, both begin completely over the top in a way I don't usually gravitate towards. Now, this isn't a series in itself, but the fun of reading this comic has me tempted to look into the book it's kinda/sorta based on, I Hate Fairyland, in the very, VERY near future.
The Looking Glass Wars: Crossfire - Crossfire was something of a mixed bag for me. While I really enjoyed the art, which seemed like a hybrid of Mitch Gerards and Ben Templesmith, this reinterpretation of Wonderland was just a little too different for my taste (to the point I didn't even realise it was about Wonderland, though now the title does give it away). This is one I think I'll skip long term.
Keyser Soze: Scorched Earth - I'm a big fan of the Usual Suspects and so, from the moment I saw this cover, I knew I had to pick up this book. Sadly, while this Keyser Soze story, and it's back up tale the Rift, were visually beautiful, the writing just didn't grab me. Not that there was anything wrong with either, it was simply a case that neither drew me in as I had hoped, particularly Keyser Soze, which now occurs to me needs the mystique to make him interesting (as in the film).
Wonder Woman Special Edition - I enjoyed this issue, what I presume is part of the 2nd issue of the recent Rebirth volume, although I think I enjoyed it about as much as the Rebirth one-shot I read previously. The draw for me here is, as usmall,  the team of Rucka and Scott, whose works I could read/look at all day. Beyond that, this issue was a bit slow and i still prefer the LoWW origin, although it does have me intrigued and convinced enough that the trade is worth getting in the future.
Doctor Who - A fun, done-in-one story revolving around the four recent doctors, I have to say I'm middle of the road on this. I enjoyed the story to a degree, but did struggle to remain invested as it went on. As for the art, I liked the changes in style to coincide with each incarnation's appearance in the book, but it did look like the three prior doctors were a little simplistic compared to the style accompanying 12. Overall, I did enjoy reading this issue, but am unsure if that could convince me to pick up any of the regular series (although, I might consider the 8th doctor mini they referenced in the back).
Betty and Veronica - Having previously read the first issue of the new Archie, and really enjoying it, I had high hopes for this reimagining of his top two ladies. And, truth to tell, I did enjoy this issue, although not as much as I had hoped. The whole issue was a fun read, with the storytelling feeling kinda Scott Pilgrim with the stars when punching and the whole truck sequence. However, the book just didn't grab me like Archie did and it wasn't helped when both Betty and Veronica felt like bit players in their own book. I still enjoyed this, but I might hold off on looking at this for now.

And there it is! I have to admit, I am a little disappointed as I expected to enjoy the vast majority of the comics from the FCBD, in particular the Keyser Soze comic. That said, almost half of my total pick ups did make some kind of a mark on me and while I don't think all of those would make it to my pull list (although Star Trek already has), I'm confident all which made their mark will make it to my wish list in some manner.

Anyway, now the free comics are done, on to the Pull List proper.

Friday, 12 May 2017

So I wrote a comic.

It's taken me some time to get around to writing this post. However, it is something I felt I should do because not only is it a rare thing for me to be proud of something I've done (which I am), but also because it felt write to share the talent of my collaborator.

This story (the making of story more than the actual comic) started at the beginning of this year. I received a message from comic book creator (and my pal) Matt Garvey, who informed me of a competition he had decided to run through the Millarworld forum he was a part of to give unpublished creators the chance to have a four page comic printed in the back of one of his future works.

I recall thinking that this was a great idea and, after some encouragement (and possibly abuse) from Matt, I decided to give it a try.

Now, as I attempted to make this dream a reality, I remember that the various aspect of creating this comic had varying levels of difficulty. The writing of this story's script I, surprisingly, found to be the easiest part of the whole endeavour, with my being able to complete it within a lunch hour. What was more difficult was coming up with the idea in the first place, until it finally hit during a daft Twitter conversation with Matt and Joseph Nathan Smith (to which both get my grateful thanks).

However, the most difficult part of the whole endeavour was finding an artist who wasn't published (scratching out most my rolodex) and who wanted to work on the idea I had. Thank God then for the great talent of Ayoade Adobarin, an artist who answered my general call on the forum and brought with him a talent which exceeded what I thought it would look like. I've praised a lot of artists in my time, but this guy takes the biscuit (the cake, the whole damn shop) for not only making a bar bones idea look infinitely better, but also putting up with my vague flights of fancy. (Side note, if you are a creator wanting an artist, you can do a hell of a lot worse than this guy.)

In the end, sadly, it was all for nought as we didn't win. However, this isn't a problem for me as, first of all, we were beaten by a far superior idea (which I look forward to seeing in the finished article). But also, it showed me what I can do when I put my mind to it and that belief in oneself (along with Matt Garvey hurling insults) can achieve anything.

So, with that in mind, I figured I'd put up the finished article here to show everyone that if an idiot like me can help make four pages of comic book goodness then it's a possibility for anyone.

With that in mind, here is the comic Ayoade and I made. We hope you enjoy.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Free Comic Book Day 2017

So another Free Comic Book Day has been and gone. For me, 2017 was a heck of a lot shorter than 2016 as my son tagged along for his second year running (I hope I can make this a reoccurring thing). However, as he was a new born last year, his attention span this time round was a lot shorter and so it really was a case of 'in and out.'

That said, despite its rather limited effect on my life, Free Comic Book Day is still a fantastic occasion. This year, this was made so due to my local comic shop again opening in a new (bigger) location on the second FCBD running. It was good to see the shop in a more spacious environment given its humble, cramped beginnings. It was also good to see that, despite its space, it was very cramped due to the number of customers who had shown up within the first 15 minutes of the day. In my opinion, it's a sign that FCBD does its job in that it pulls in comic fans both old and new. In fact, as I left the shop I spotted a couple who just happened to be passing by actually stop and go in (let's just hope they bought something).

But back to the comics and my LCS presented its customers with a vast selection of the free comics. This year, we were offered the chance to get as many as we wanted (we were limited to 7 each last year) and while I could have picked up many more, I only took copies of the books which really interested me. These books were:

Buffy: The High School Years
Kid Savage
The Legend of Zelda
Steam Wars: Strike Leader
Star Trek The Next Generation: Mirror Broken
2000 AD
I Hate Image
The Looking Glass Wars: Crossfire
Keyser Soze: Scorched Earth
Wonder Woman Special Edition
Doctor Who
Betty and Veronica

So thirteen books in all. Of course, this wasn't all I bought as I also picked up a copy of the JLA The Ray one-shot. This was a book which caught my eye back when it was released and while I had intended to pick it up digitally, I really wanted to make a purchase today from the shop to support them because they had offered all this freebies and, as with all comic shops, doing this isn't free. I do feel bad I didn't buy more but hopefully I can start making up for that in the future.

In the meantime though, I now have 14 new comics to read. I'm probably going to give them a whole post to talk about my thoughts on them towards the end of the month (Pull List style). There are a number of which I'm truly excited to read (Star Trek, Betty and Veronica, Wonder Woman, Keyser Soze) and some which intrigue me (pretty much all the rest).

Hopefully, I can find the time during May to read through them all.