This blog is essentially a collection of posts I used to write on Facebook combined with my travel blog and expanded to make a very public forum of my thoughts regarding Pop Culture, The Interweb, Cartoons, Comics, Ultimate Frisbee, Absurdity, Life, Travel and whatever else captures my attention long enough to write about it...

Enter at your own peril!

10 July 2011

Comics, part 3

The "Rest" (aka smaller publisher stuff)

When I started buying/reading comics again it was finding smaller publisher stuff on the web that started pulling me in... So this topic is quite close to my heart. I was quite big on Devils Due stuff for ages there (and bought a fair bit online till their webstore and I had a "disagreement"). I can't remember how I got into Devils Due but I think it was through Tsunami Bomb (yeah that band I like). As best as I recall I found Tsunami Bomb in a random free mp3 search of the web in the early 2000s (or perhaps I was searching elsewhere and linked to them from another band?)... regardless of how I found them I think the next step was a Tsunami Bomb blog post or something like that to the fact that they'd got a reference in Josh Blaylock's new comic Misplaced (yes the same Josh Blaylock on my blogs I read list there --> )... Which I then checked out, and ended up buying and the rest they say is history...

So we will start this post with

Alyssa is from another dimension or something and can kick ass (very little is specified as to why). But the art is very pretty and the heroine is quite endearing in her naivety. It's a little bit of a standard "oh I come from a super obey the rules society and now I'm on Earth I can be free to punk up etc" story... but with the added bonus of crazy super powers and weird slug alien type things... and jetpacks!

The tattoo marks on her head are cool too...
One point of difference here is I actually have the comics for this not the graphic novel... I should get the graphic novel...

It also has a great line about drinking... Alyssa (bless her naive non matching socks) having gone to her first bar and having her first drink gets kinda drunk and quite enjoys it... Then a "frat boy fuck up" spikes her drink and she ends up booting after kicking everyone's ass. Lying back afterwards she says "I feel terrible, you know what I need? More Beer! That stuff made me feel great".

Dead @ 17
From Misplaced the logical segue is to Dead @ 17 (obviously due to the crossover "Misplaced @ 17" that they did about Alyssa and Nara moving in together.
Anyway once again this is a Josh Howard thing centered around a hot punk(ish) indy chick fighting bad guys with super powers (note the theme here so far)... The twist being this time said chick (Nara) has been killed and come back to life to fight demons and zombies etc... all the time struggling to pay rent and what not. Again the artwork is pretty kick ass (most of these smaller publisher stuff seem to have cooler artwork than what Marvel/DC put out).

Continuing the trend you find yet another "hot chick fighting bad guys comic" initially from Devils Due (but now Image or something). Tim Seeley this time is the dude responsible and somehow this comic was even adapted as a stage play.
Anyway this time Cassie is a hot goth chick who travels around fighting slasher killers (like the bad guys from dodgy b grade horror movies), all the time trying to pay rent and etc (damn there's that pattern again). Cassie works with Vlad (big scary guy who kicks the shit out of everyone/thing) and a few other people "backstage" who they saved... It's actually pretty cool with a bit more to it than the other two (maybe because it's been running longer) and it even comes with tender moments. Cassie isn't invincible and she gets stressed and even struggles with the fact she can't get a date... It's an interesting diversion from the standard buffy influence "hot chick kicks ass" story and definitely worth a read.

And the artwork is AMAZING...

Mercy Sparx
Josh Blaylock, Devils Due publishing, hot (demon this time) chick kicks ass... blah blah blah... Seeing the pattern?
Actually this one varies slightly from the pattern again, with Mercy being a demon hired by heaven (or is she... cliffhanger in the plot) to kick 666 types of shit out of rogue angels. Again the plot is ok, nothing amazing like Sandman or the like but the artwork is pretty sweet

Too Cool to be Forgotten
In a massive turnaround here is a comic NOT about a hot chick (as the main character) and NOT about ass kicking (especially not by the hot chick).
This story is about a dude sent back in time to his high school years and reliving things again... I guess that's nothing amazing but it's a pretty sweet story about getting closure (and quitting smoking). It's a pretty sweet story story I think most people could relate to (I'm sure we all wouldn't mind doing something different... although I did write a tentative post about "if I could do it again" and I realistically wouldn't change many things... just one thing...) and if you're still in high school maybe it'll make you think about things a bit differently.
Lost at Sea
Another comic featuring a teenage girl, however this time she's not kicking the ass of beings from hell/another dimension/undeath/etc, instead it's a sweet "coming of age" style story... about making friends and life and blah blah blah. It's by the guy who did Scott Pilgrim so the artwork isn't amazing, but the story puts me in mind of a couple of friends (whom I won't name here, but they need to read it).

Lost at Sea also segues nicely into the last comic I'll be writing about, Scott Pilgrim. But (perhaps unsurprisingly) this isn't all my comics, just all the ones I feel like writing about at the moment. Maybe one day I'll write a part 4 to this including some of the ones I skipped, but I'll just do a short list here for things you should look out for
  • Johnny the Homicidal Maniac- Yes there is a lot of hype, I'm not sure it lives up to it all. The art is pretty crazy (so is the story to be honest) and if it wasn't for the fairly decent conclusion at the end I wouldn't be sold on this at all
  • Ghost World- I remember loving the movie, the comic is ok but a slightly less "happy" story... pretty pics
  • Madman- Insane... Lots of fun... he has a yoyo... that is all
  • Invincible- Fantastic cross of superhero pisstake and superhero coming of age... read it
Scott Pilgrim
To finish up I thought I'd write about Bryan Lee O'Malley's more famous book series.
6 books (of varying quality), a kick ass (pun intended) computer game, a fairly shoddy movie and an awesome movie soundtrack mean that if you're reading this you probably should've heard of Scott Pilgrim.
The artwork is nothing special, there are some good individual lines and characters and a quite amusing central idea (the video game style escalating bosses, enemies turning to coins etc) make this something you should try and read. It's very accessible, but nowhere near as heart lifting as stories like Lost at Sea or Too Cool to be forgotten.
Anyway, rather than a blow by blow write up I'd just write about some of the things that bug me a little... some of you may know how horrifyingly emotionally involved I can get in this comic, I think mainly due to the fact it doesn't turn out how I think it should... It's taken me a while to work out why but I think it's because Ramona is a massive bitch, and Scott is a bit of a tool...
It's more obvious in the movie where Ramona and Scott can't act, and Ramona totally appears to not even like Scott making the movie about a pretty pathetic guy beating the shit out of a bunch of pretty cool guys to then go out with a chick that doesn't seem to like him...
Similar issues occur in the comic, but it's a bit more subtle. Basically Scott was a bit of a fuckhead in his past; see his relationship with Kim (beating up her bf, then moving without telling her), Knives (ditching her for a chick he didn't even know, and not even telling her) and even Envy Adams (yeah she was a bitch, but the fight she dumped him in he started).
Ramona is a bitch, but she at least appears to like Scott (at least some of the time) but she's pretty flakey any hypocritical... Getting angry at Scott for staying at Lisa's after she kicked him out, is a bit rough, especially given that she then had her ex stay over and they were making out.
ANYWAY, Avoiding those two main characters and you will find that the secondary characters are a lot nicer and you generally feel like it would be nice something good happened to them. Look at Kim or Steven Stills (although he does end up with that dude at the end)... Even Knives... Young Neil or Stacey... All those characters seem so much nicer than Scott and Ramona (admittedly Kim does keep telling Scott he's a dickhead... turns out she's right).
I think the thing that bugs me most is how Scott treats Lisa Miller. The artwork isn't amazing so it's hard to tell but she seems to be no more or less attractive than Ramona (maybe not as "hipster cool") but she was his best friend for years and they obviously like each other (more than can be said about Ramona) and when Lisa finally confesses to Scott he runs away to Ramona (who at the time DOESN'T EVEN LIKE HIM).

I dunno... frustrating... I guess it would've been a hard series to finish keeping it unexpected which is why the first few books are better than the later ones, but once again something you should read

That's enough about comics for now...

Love, Hugs and Kisses

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