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18 September 2016

Other Comics News Parade-O-Links 09182016


(2001 A Space Odyssey issue 10.  Cover by Jack Kirby 1977.  Image stolen from Kevin Metz. )

Here are some things I found interesting in the world of minicomics, comic books, graphic novels, small press, self publishing, zines, webcomics, cartoons, digital comics, other, etc. during the week ending 09182016.


"Spock, I've found that evil usually triumphs - unless good is very, very careful." -Dr. Leonard H. McCoy.

  • Hello sisters and brothers of teh intronets and welcome to another episode of your Other Comics News Parade-O-Links.  My name is Shannon and I'll be your host.  I have to start this episode off with an apology.  I know most of you woke up Sunday morning, got out of bed, shared breakfast with your non-gender specific significant other, read the Sunday funnies then logged on to the internets to read the Other Comics News Parade-O-Links like all good humans do but you were then horrified to find that the Parade-O-Links was not there.  I'm sorry.  I got busy.  And today's Parade will be short.  Let's call it minimal.  That makes it sound more intentional and less like failure.  All I can do is say that I'm sorry and promise that I will always disappoint you frequently.  I spent much of the weekend at the annual Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion  on the VA/TN state line in Bristol. It was neat. Crowded, but neat.  Lots of hillbilly hipsters.  Hipbillies. Craft beer, craft crafts, foods on sticks,  country and bluegrass upstarts, country and bluegrass legends.  It was a good time.  And look, country music ain't my thing but I appreciate it when it's good and there was plenty that was good.  I recommend it.  The highlight for me was seeing blues legend Buddy Guy perform.  He was fantastic. 
  • This weekend the indie comics and small press world turned it's lonely eyes to the Small Press Expo (a.k.a. SPX) in Bethesda, MD.  I didn't go.  I haven't been since they moved to the lotter for their table reservations.  My number just hasn't came up. And, as much as I'd like to attend, September and October are busiest months of the year for me.  But, lots of folks whet and I saw some neat things on the old twudder and instacrack.  I'm sure we'll see some reports roll in this week.  I can't wait to see the best pictures of people cosplaying as the carpet or as those two old horror movie looking architects in that painting everyone takes a picture of.   The Comics Reporter has your Ignatz winners.  I was hoping that Gabby Schulz's Sick would win because it is one of the best comics I've ever read. I hadn't read most of the nominees because minicomics are a wierd regional kinda thing and graphic novels are too expensive. 
  • Speaking of comics shows, Adam and Shawn of The Dollar Bin have part 2 of their DragonCon adventure.  Part 2 of their podcast focuses on the comics related part of the convention.  The fact that you can do a podcast on the comics related part of DragonCon shows that the show has improved a lot in recent years.  When I lived in Atlanta, it was just a cosplay show with comics shoved in corner of a basement.  I remember one year when Carmine Infantino, Julius Schwartz, Darth Vader and Chewbacca were crammed into a space in the basement about the size of a Ford Focus while upstairs, in a huge convention room, literal porn stars had 8 foot tables to themselves. But, from listening to The Dollar Bin, it appears that things have improved and that DragonCon may indeed be a show worth checking out for comics enthusiasts and creators. The episode also has a great story about Shawn meeting the great Jim Steranko.  (ABS.  Always be Sterankoing.)
  • We are all going to die.
  • A lot of talk the past few weeks about Raina Telgemeier's new book Ghosts.  Most of it high praise but a little bit of negativity.  I haven't read it.  I am not a child.  Also, graphic novels = expensive etc.  My comic reading kids kind of jumped from Archie to Kate Beaton and manga before these YA graphic novels were really a thing so that window was missed by my household.  My youngest reads Yo-Kai Watch manga.  I gotta say, it's hard to get them to give american intermediate or young adult graphic novels when they've already been introduced to books that are vastly more visually stimulating.  I've tried.  It's not my fault.
  • There are a lot of things I've enjoyed while file under other was on hiatus and I hope to get to a lot of it throughout the rest of 2016. One thing that I've been really pretty lousy about pointing out are the webcomics I enjoy.  Pals Jeremy Massie and Matthew Smith have a new comic online called Amazing Age. They are now up to a 1st issue's worth of pages so it's a good time to check it out for before the next pages roll out.  Page one is here. 
  • And now ladies and gentlemen...
THE BEST Pretty Good NEW COMIC I READ THIS WEEK


Doom Patrol (volume who knows because publishers don't even keep track anymore) issue 1 by Gerard Way, Nick Derington, Tamra Bonvillain, Todd Klein and several other people.  Published by DC Comics.  $3.99

The reason I struck through the word "best" in the header above is because I think I only read one new comic this week and calling a thing the "best" when you only sampled one of them is kind of silly.  But it's a pretty good comic.  I enjoyed it. I should enjoy it because the thing is pretty much made for me and/or my offspring. I'm a 90s Grant Morrison acolyte and this thing is essentially a tribute to Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol and Invisibles but made for current teens like my kids.  It's kind of like The Batman Adventures version of Morrison's Doom Patrol.  And I think it's perfect that DC has put Gerard Way in charge of this thing and this Young Animal line of comics because Grant Morrison may have very well invented Gerard Way.  Some of the youngs might not know about this but, in the 90s, we had rock star comics creators.  No, they were not comics creators that were actual rock n' roll performers, but they were creators that carried themselves, portrayed themselves and were treated much like rock stars.  The Image guys were like west coast American rock stars.  They had expensive cars, they hung out with rappers and sports stars and did TV commercials.  But the DC Vertigo creators were the cool UK rock stars with the black leather jackets, combat boots and tight shiny pants. Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison were the prototype for Gerard Way.  He is their dream become manifest. He is a literal rock star making comics.  Which, also gives me a chance to repeat one of my favorite jokes; "How do you break into comics?  Become moderately successful in any entertainment field other than comics, then ask." 
And please don't think I'm dismissing Gerard Way here.  He's doing good work in this comic.  He has history with Morrison and has clearly done his homework.  All the right references and hints and teases are there.  This comic feels like the Netflix re-boot of your favorite old TV show.  It's mostly a new cast but they brought back enough of the old faces to make it feel like a family reunion.  There are panels where my Grant Morrison-fan reflexes kicked in and my "hey, they're ripping off Morrison" alert went off and I had to remind myself that it is supposed to do that.  
Derington's art is fine enough.  Kind of a stripped down kid friendly version of what you would have expected to see in a 90s Doom Patrol.  A Philip Bond or Cameron Stewart might have been a better fit but it's okay.
My fourteen year old daughter likes My Chemical Romance.  She's in the high school band and they play one of their songs.  She want's to read this comic.  Grant Morrison, your creation has succeeded. 
  • And finally... Francis likes a girl that's like a cheeseburger. 
  • Remember pals, life is hard.  Read comics every day, chew Glorp every day and you'll keep on livin' until your dead. 

Your best pal ever,
Shannon Smith


p.s. I write comics.  Do you make comics?  Maybe you should hire me to write comics. 
p.p.s Say you want a leader but you can't seem to make up your mind. I think you'd better close it and let me guide you to my twitter feed.
p.p.p.s. Let's pretend we went to high school together on facebook.
p.p.p.p.s. Google + is another place you can read the same thing I posted here.
p.p.p.p.p.s. I'll tumblr for ya.
p.p.p.p.p.p.s.  Yeah, I do Instagram too.  I guess it's a law or something.

11 September 2016

Other Comics News Parade-O-Links 09112016


(G.I.Joe issue 15 cover by Mike Zeck and John R. Beatty.  August 1986.  Image stolen from yojoe.com )

Here are some things I found interesting in the world of minicomics, comic books, graphic novels, small press, self publishing, zines, webcomics, cartoons, digital comics, other, etc. during the week ending 09112016.

"DJ Z, I suffer with you my friend."  -Jeff Hardy.
  • Hello sisters and brothers of teh intronets and welcome to another episode of your Other Comics News Parade-O-Links.  My name is Shannon and I'll be your host.  I was driving east on Alternate 58 this morning behind the limousine of Nathan Stanley and under the golden rays of the warm September Appalachian sun when I remembered that, while file under other was on "hiatus", we lost one of the pillars of Bluegrass and American music, Doctor Ralph Stanley.  Growing up a few miles from where Ralph Stanley lived it was easy to take the man for granted.  He was just kind of always around.  You'd see him play at the fair.  You'd see him play at the UMWA rallies.  He literally performed at my summer camp one year.  When my employer was looking to set up shop in Southwest Virginia, it was Ralph Stanley that Senator Warner and the county called upon to welcome and entertain the suits and ties.  In some small way, I guess you could say I owe my paycheck to Ralph Stanley.  His legacy will be a part of this region and this country as long as the mighty Clinch River flows. 
  • Alan Moore has announced that he has about 250 pages of comics left in him and then he will retire from comics.   Moore is probably the most influential English language genre comics writer of the past 40 years.  He could never write another word and that would not change.  He doesn't owe comics anything. If you want more Alan Moore comics, just go read the one's you've missed or re-read the ones you've loved. Despite the wizard beard, Moore is really not that old.  He was a very young man when he started knocking out masterpieces.  I hope he has a great many years ahead of him enjoying whatever it is he chooses to do.  And guys, 250 is a lot of pages. 
  • A lot of us comics folks are thinking about pal of comics Tim O'Shea and his family this week.  The Comics Reporter has the details.  Tim has been a real champion of comics, minicomics and self-publishers throughout the years.  He's one of those "I probably would have stopped making comics without his kind words" kind of folks.  We need 100 more of him.  We wish all the best for Tim and his family. 
  • Last weekend cosmic abomination DragonCon happened (again) in Atlanta, GA.  Adam and Shawn Daughhetee of the Dollar Bin went there for the first time and lived to tell the tale.   They compare DragonCon to HeroesCon a bit which, are two things totally worlds apart.  HeroesCon is a a comic book convention.  DragonCon is that time that Hunter S. Thompson and Zardoz drank an Atlantic Ocean sized vial of LSD and tiger adrenal gland then went to the Creature Cantina in Star Wars but only the Creature Cantina was the size of the Titanic.  Every year.  Repeat.  Totally different things. 
  • Guys.  I just love Tarzan so much. (Link stolen from The Comics Reporter.)  Speaking of Tarzan, like I do, I read a lot of Tarzan comics this summer.  It's been a summer ritual since... I learned to read.  I read a lot of Joe Kubert Tarzan comics this summer and bought a lot of the Marvel "Lord of the Jungle" comics.  I almost have the full Marvel run now.  The 28th issue of the Marvel series was one of the first comic books I ever owned so Tarzan has and will always be a big part of what makes me me.  A big part of my brain is thinking about Tarzan junk most of my waking and sleeping hours.  It's weird.  I know.  So, of course I saw the new movie.  I really liked it. It was my favorite movie of the summer.  I really hope they make more movies with that Tarzan and Jane. 
  • A lot of talk this week about the death of comics and whether or not it is dead and if it is just Professor X dead or is it Uncle Ben dead and who is to blame and is Soylent Green people or are people Soylent Green and if I use the F word more than you is my argument more valid than yours even though my argument is absolutely Donald Trump wrong on all of my historical references and should all of our best cartoonists just start making their comics with sidewalk chalk then post videos of them on YouTube but then get upset about that too because YouTube secretly won't let you make any money off videos anymore if you have dirty words in your side walk chalk comics and Kickstarter stopped being crowd funding the second it replaced the publisher's marketing department and Amazon really already killed publishing anyway and the music industry is deader than comics and it's just an illusion that it exists because, again, YouTube, and if it can happen to comics and music then it can happen to video games, and, in a way, it's already happening to movies, I mean, do you really think the movie theater chains are thrilled about you guys binge watching Stranger Things and eating microwave popcorn, and if you'll DVR and watch your favorite TV shows later it sure as hell won't take a TV exec long to figure out that you'd probably also pay for it in advance and most of what we really love will be pre-order anyway because comics isn't special, comics just is always the first in line for the firing squad, and about how we probably already lost this war and we need to just assimilate and get over ourselves because I'm literally wearing a t-shirt right now that I pre-ordered, while listening to digital music that was pre-ordered then downloaded, and I literally have a book beside my keyboard that was pre-ordered and as soon as I get through typing this I'm literally going to play some video games that I pre-ordered and maybe what you're calling death is just the new way of living and... You wanted everything for free so you stole it.  Now you have to pay in advance for it to even exist.  Money always wins folks.
  • And now it's time for the return of...

THE BEST NEW NEWISH COMIC BOOK I READ THIS WEEK

I've been a big fan of Rich Tommaso for years and years but She Wolf might be his work for which I am the most excited.  Guys, I'm stupid for werewolves and wolfmans.  I've watched a lot of werewolf movies and read a lot of werewolf comics but Tommaso is on to something really fascinating here. He's using a waking nightmare form of narrative where he can tell this story from a both metaphysical and material world point of view at the same time while also fluctuating between the present and ancient folklore from panel to panel.  

Tommaso is letting the narrative take off in multiple directions within a single page and it is allowing him to really stretch his legs as an artists.  I've always loved Tommaso's drawing and character designs but with this comic he's being really ambitious with the motion and fluidity of his cartooning.  It's a major break from the conservatism and the obsession with the old fashioned that we've seen in indie comics over the past 20 years. Plus, he draws a balls out penis dangling Satan that can't be beat.  I can't wait for the next issue. 
This issue also features some great pinups by Chuck Forsman, Brandon Graham, Brian Level, Tom Neely, Eraklis Petmeza and my favorite one (below) by Patrick Dean.
  • And finally... Playstation made some announcements this week.  Let's see how our ol' pal Francis feels about them. 

  • Remember pals, life is hard.  Read comics every day, chew Glorp every day and you'll keep on livin' until your dead. 

Your best pal ever,

Shannon Smith

p.s. I write comics.  Do you make comics?  Maybe you should hire me to write comics. 
p.p.s Say you want a leader but you can't seem to make up your mind. I think you'd better close it and let me guide you to my twitter feed.
p.p.p.s. Let's pretend we went to high school together on facebook.
p.p.p.p.s. Google + is another place you can read the same thing I posted here.
p.p.p.p.p.s. I'll tumblr for ya.
p.p.p.p.p.p.s.  Yeah, I do Instagram too.  I guess it's a law or something.

04 September 2016

Other Comics News Parade-O-Links 09042016


(Marvel Premier Featuring issue 45 from 1978.  Cover art by George Perez and Bob McLeod.  Image stolen from SellMyComics.)

Here are some things I found interesting in the world of minicomics, comic books, graphic novels, small press, self publishing, zines, webcomics, cartoons, digital comics, other, etc. during the week month years ending 04042014 09042016

"Hear me, arisen Tyrk!  In the name of my comrades Sashiel and Barq, I swear vengeance from this moment on... The Man-Wolf is out for your stinking blood!"  - Col. John Jameson, The Man-Wolf.


  • Hello sisters and brothers of teh intronets and welcome to another episode of your Other Comics News Parade-O-Links.  My name is Shannon and I'll be your host.  This is the first Parade-O-Links in quite some time.  I know most of you are thinking, "Where has the Parade-O-Links been during this darkest time of my life when I had nothing to live for and teh intronets completely let me down and all my favorite comics were canceled and the antidepressants had bad side effects and my favorite sports teams lost and all of my pets pooped in places I didn't want to clean?  Where was the Parade-O-Links when the world stopped turning?!?"  Look, friends, pals, I'd love to tell you everything that has happened since the last Parade-O-Links but quite frankly Frank Quitely, I don't remember.
  • So, let's start fresh.  I feel like I have solid memories of life on Earth going back at least to June of 2016 so we'll star there.  Fair enough? Good.  I'm glad we agree.  I appreciate your respect and understanding.  And, might I add, you look great today.  Fantastic choice of footwear. I'm digging it.  Magnificent.  I've always said that only the sexiest of the sexiest people read the Parade-O-Links and it's as true today as it was a few seconds ago when I made it up.
(The Jack Tales wall based on Charles Vess art at Southwest Virginia Community College.)
  • At some point in the epic adventure that is my life, the powers that be in acedemia decided that I am not only a genius and that I smell great but that I am also a comics scholar.  I was approached by the Appalachian Heritage Writers Symposium to present a workshop on writing for comics and graphic novels.  I turned that opportunity yes and put together a powerpoint presentation focused on the differences between writing for prose and writing for comics. 
A photo posted by Shannon Smith (@sandfarmer) on
 Most of the writers at the symposium were pretty up on their plain old writin' words kinda' writin' but they needed to know how to write so that an artist could actually do something with it.  A drawing is a hell of a thing to have to write.  I bestowed upon them this great knowledge along with a little minicomic full of blank panels so that they could practice writing using thumbnails.  I look forward to taking a sip of my cocktail and giving a knowing nod when they all thank me during their eventual Eisner acceptance speeches. I taught for two hours and met a lot of great folks.  Sharyn McCrumb was they keynote speaker.  I was able to attend her workshop and picked up a lot of neat ideas.  Southwest Virginia Community College hosted the event and they have a lot of Charles Vess art on display including a huge brick sculpture based on his design.  (I took some more photos of it that you can find on my instagram.)  Also, we had lunch.  It was a great experience and I'm grateful for the opportunity. 

  • Did you guys know that not only am I a comics scholar but I am also a professional comic book writer? This is a true and well established fact.  Human beings have paid me to deliver to them words which have then been printed in comic books.  Perhaps you've read some of the comics? Perhaps you are a fan?  And who isn't? But how hardcore are you?  Do you have my earliest work?  Did you know that I did some work for the Glorp Gum Company back in the 90s?  Hah!  You didn't know that did you Mr. Fancypants? It's true.  Way back in 1991 the Glorp Gum Company hired me to do some scripting on a new comic book they had in the works.  I remember it like yesterday. I was sitting there in my dorm room, freshman year, smelling like teen spirit, listening to my favorite Bronze Vestal Virgin cassette tape ("Double Dead Again 2: Tokyo One Night Only") when the RA came a knockin' on my door to let me know that I had a phone call.  I figured it was the usual, some band wanting me to replace their guitar player or whatever, but when I answered the phone it was none other than comics legend John Sourcup. (RIP)  I thought the guy was already dead but here he is on the phone offering me a job.  Turns out he had read some of my Megaforce fan fiction in Slasher magazine and I thought I was just the guy to help him out with some last minute scripting on the revival of Glorp's comics line. I worked out some dialog for a little eight page skateboarding story called "Safety First Skater Later" that was printed up in the back of Glorp Comics and Stories.  Now, most of you are probably familiar with the story of how Glorp debuted the comic at a big skateboarding event and about how all those people and vee jays died. I don't really want to get into all of that.  I don't really like to talk about it. I was a big fan of a lot of the pro skaters that died that day... Anyway, as I'm sure you all know from the various TV documentaries, all of the comics were destroyed in the fire.  Or so we thought!  Friends, life is strange.  Years ago, there I am writing for the Glorp Gum Company and then one day, decades later, my pal Brad McGinty buys the Glorp Gum Company!  Can you believe that expletive? Sure enough, my friend and yours, Brad McGinty buys the Glorp Gum Company and what does he find when he's digging through the vaults?  You guessed it, the only remaining copy of Glorp Comics and Stories on the planet. But wait, it gets better.  My man, Brad McGinty, recently fired up the Glorp presses, pulled the lever down from the t-shirt setting to the comic book setting and knocked out a fat stack of Glorp comics that you my friend can pay for and read with your own damned eyeballs.  It's a damned hot boiled miracle. I've got to pause for a moment and just let it roll over me...
  • Whew.  I'm back.  Ain't that somethin'?  
  • Friends, this is real talk right now. This is serious business.  You, and not the collective internet you, but YOU, you right there, with your elbows and other unique characteristics, you can click this link right now and buy Glorp comics. And not just Glorp Comics and Stories!  No!  Other comics as well!  McGinty and fine people of the Glorp Gum Factory have printed up long lost copies of the legendary Moss Rot and Twin Cities Freakout.  These are two of the craziest comics I've ever witnessed.  Did you even ever imagine you'd have a chance to buy these legendary comics!?  On newsprint!?!  McGinty printed them on newsprint!  Do you guys understand the gravity of the opportunity that Brad McGinty is giving you here? These comics will dunk your donut! You can buy Glorp Comics, Moss Rot and Twin Cities Freakout all for one low price!  Or, for multiple individual low prices but that would be kinda stupid.
  • McGinty done did it again.
  • Santa Claus is crying himself to sleep wishing he could do for the children what McGinty has done for all of mankind. 
  • Just let it roll over ya.

  • Another thing I did this summer was take the kids to America's most beloved comic book convention, HeroesCon.  I've been going to HeroesCon fairly consistently since about 2004 but this was the first time I went as a regular old customer and not as an Indie Island guest or Artist Alley exhibitor.  I just went for good ol' fun and boy oh boy was some good ol' fun had.  The show has become enormous but, to its credit, it remains a comics show.  Sure, like every other show, it has become infected by the prints epidemic but at least most of the prints at HeroesCon are comics related and on Indie Island the prints are actual original creations and not just sexy Harley Quinn.  It's a still a show where you can shop for comics of pretty much any kind.  The kind I shop for are the kind that cost 25 cents or less.  I bought about as many comics as a grocery store bag could hold for $11. And boy do they smell terrible.  Sweet, sweet, mildew how I love you.  Pretty sure most of the comics I picked up had bong water spilled on them at least once.  Glorious!  I love it.
  

The only new books I picked up were on Indie Island.  Rich Tommaso was there with the first issue of She Wolf.  I've been a huge fan of Rich's stuff forever and this might be his best work yet. I love this comic. I got the new Atomic Elbow, the latest J. Chris Campbell mini, all of the Glorp comics (have I mentioned the Glorp comics?) and an original Blue Snaggletooth drawing by Patrick Dean.  And that's pretty much it.  There were a lot of folks there I would have liked to have talked to and picked up their latest stuff but they had solid lines or crowds around them and I ran out of time.  And that's cool.  I'll pick up their stuff online or at the next show. I'm happy to see their audiences growing.  I was just on the convention floor on Saturday and honestly it was a bit overwhelming for me as a customer.  There was just so much to look at. My usual con strategy is to walk the floor once before I spend money but by the time I walked HeroesCon I was ready to lie down.  My kids picked up some cool stuff.  My nine year old got a hand made sword because why not.  My fourteen year old picked up some Gravity Falls stuff and some rad buttons and stickers.  Thankfully, comics is currently in a place where there are some fantastic female creators working on books accessible to teens and some of my daughter's favorite lady creators were at the show.  I think it's the first show where my daughter had specific artists she wanted to seek out.  She left the show inspired and literally knocked out a new minicomic in the month following. (More on that in a future post.)
We also checked out the art auction. I was a bit underwhelmed by the art on display. Most of it appeared to be work done on the floor that day as opposed to some of the bigger more ambitious works I've seen there in the past. That said, Jared Cullum's giant Fantastic Four at HeroesCon painting was amazing and as good as anything I've ever seen at the show.  It went for around $7,000 bucks if I remember correctly.  A lot of my pals are friends with Jared so there were a lot of proud beaming faces in the Westin lobby and bar that Saturday night.

A photo posted by Shannon Smith (@sandfarmer) on

Speaking of which, the main attraction of HeroesCon for me is getting to hang out with all my pals.  
It was super great to see my former Atlanta bro doggers Brad McGinty and Josh Latta (and Erin of course, Hi Erin!).  Brad helped me with my first minicomic in 2002 and I've been sharing table space and hotel rooms with Brad and Josh for years now.  We all lived in the Atlanta area back in those days but have since all moved to different states so Heroes Con is about the only time we end up under the same roof now.
Also super great to see all my other pals that I see slightly more frequently, Patrick Dean, Robert Newsome, Rich Tommaso, J. Chris Campbell, Duane Ballenger, Rob Ullman, Adam and Shawn Daughhetee, all the Dollar Bin bros, Heather and Seth Peagler and all the HeroesCon staff, my man Jeremy Massie (who I live about 30 minutes from but see at comics shows more than I do in the wild), Matt Smith, all the folks I'm too lazy to list, all the folks I saw but didn't get to speak to but just waved and said "hey man!" to... everyone.  Everyone that has every lived.  I was super happy to see them and/or missed them terribly. 


    A photo posted by Shannon Smith (@sandfarmer) on
  • I was a guest a RobCon at Viking Hall in Bristol TN, this summer. The show was nice and packed with vendors and cosplayers but suffered some for being scheduled on the same weekend as neighboring Abingdon, VA's big summer festival.  I did well enough.  Sold original art and comics and my daughter Kassidy sold some art and her new minicomic Idea Box. I'll talk about Idea Box more on file under other once we print up more copies. 
  • A video posted by Shannon Smith (@sandfarmer) on
    A photo posted by Shannon Smith (@sandfarmer) on
  • Because I'm a super successful and popular comics creator in high demand, I had another apperance on the same weekend as RobCon.  I was a guest at Saint Paul, VA's Friends of the Library Cooks and Books event.  This is an annual fundraiser where area authors and area cooks are set up outside to sell books, eat food and drink wine and beer. It's pretty great.  The music was mostly Huey Lewis and the News so that's a major win for any getogether. I did well and the library picked up some of our comics for their shelves. 
  • So, at this point in the post I've typed about a half million words about myself and my friends.  It's fine.  But maybe you want news?  Maybe you want the hard hitting critical analysis of the state of the comics industry at this exact moment?  Maybe I'll do that next week. This post was essentially a housekeeping post, we'll get back to the real nitty gritty soon.  But before I do I do have to acknowledge the redcent birthdays of comics titans Jack Kirby and Gene Colan. August 26th was also the birthdy of my father David Smith.  He would have been 67.  He's with me ever day.
  • And finally... Let's check in on our old pal Francis.  Gotta catch 'em all Francis.



  • Remember pals, life is hard.  Read comics every day, chew Glorp every day and you'll keep on livin' until your dead. 

Your best pal ever,

Shannon Smith

p.s. Say you want a leader but you can't seem to make up your mind. I think you'd better close it and let me guide you to my twitter feed.
p.p.s. Let's pretend we went to high school together on facebook.
p.p.p.s. Google + is another place you can read the same thing I posted here.
p.p.p.p.s. I'll tumblr for ya.
p.p.p.p.p.s.  Yeah, I do Instagram too.  I guess it's a law or something.

01 May 2015

Some random thoughts on that Avengers Age of Ultron moive. It needed more AC/DC.

Image result for avengers age of ultron
I only see about one movie a year that doesn't have a talking animal in it so I may as well write about it when I do.

  • It needed more AC/DC.  One of the problems with the current era of super hero movies is that none of them have a theme song.  Not one damn one of them.  Hum Spider-Man's theme.  You can't.  How many times have you seen kids play fighting in their back yard while humming the Avenger's theme?  Zero.  And Tony Robert Downey Jr. Stark was smart enough to know he existed in an era of incompetent film scorers so he brought his own jams.  He brought AC/DC.  Those all-american arena rock jams from the Australian band AC/DC played a big part it setting the tone for Iron Man and differentiating him from the super heroes of the past in Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and the first Avengers film.  But then, Iron Man 3 happened and there wasn't any AC/DC.  And I think Tony Robert Downey Jr. Stark has been in mourning ever sense.  He never seems to enjoy himself in Avengers: Age of Ultron.  And really that's the biggest knock on this movie.  It just isn't as fun as Marvel has taught us these movies should be.  Marvel fed us a formula and it worked.  This time they forgot some of the ingredients.  Just a little AC/DC might have fixed all of that. 
  • Or maybe they could have just used the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack.  It would have been cheap but who would complain.  When it works it works. 
  • I think that feeling of mourning was all over this movie.  It felt like a swan song for Robet Downey Jr.,  Mark Ruffalo and Jeremy Renner in particular.  We know Downey Jr. is at least back for Captain America: Civil War but for all three of those guys it felt like a last ride.
  • Only Chris Hemsworth's Thor seemed to be enjoying himself.  Chris Evan's Captain America seemed to revel in the comraderie of a super team.  As that character should.  
  • Scarlett Johansen's Black Widow wasn't having a ton of fun but she's not supposed to.  Dark past and all that.  I think she was just right in every scene or at least as right as the script allowed.  Great work from her.  People can debate that the character could have been given more.  You can look at it from a feminist angle and make some complaints.  But this movie is meant to sell toys to little boys and razors to their dads.  Scarlett did about as much with what she was going to get as possible. 
  • Sticking with the ladies for a moment.  Cobie Smulders continues to be great as Maria Hill.  Linda Cardellini is always just right in everything from Scooby-Doo to Mad Men.  I thought Elizabeth Olsen was very good in a very bad role.  She could be a strong contributor to the next films.
  • But... sigh.  Scarlett Witch and Quicksliver... I think it it was a bad idea from the start.  Yeah, they have been avengers and if you are bringing Vision into the story you kind of want Scarlet Witch to be there to stand beside him.  But these characters are not those characters from the comics and I guess legally they can't be since Fox has the mutants.  So instead they are a couple of kids that from a fictional country that got "enhanced" by Hydra.  Lame.  Could't they at least be Inhumans?  And what are they ehanced with?  Loki staff magic?  Chitauri slime?  My 13 year old daughter is a big X-Men fan and she was pretty mad about how wrong they got Scarlet Witch and Quicksliver. 
  • And speaking of bad ideas; Sokovia.  Ugh.  More like Suck-ovia.  Fake countries are the worst.  Stop it!  Why is there a country of people that look like middle class white Americans that all speak with the same bad movie-Russian accent?
  • Yeah, Quicksliver was definelty a bad idea.  And what makes it worse is Fox did Quickslilver better in X-Men: Days of Future Past.  Contratulations Fox.  Marvel should have just cut their loses with Quicksilver. You can't turn vinegar into wine. Congratulations Fox. You and Sony have a combined total of one win against Marvel.  I think that brings the score to 109,342 to 1.  Try to build on it.  Or don't.  Actually, please don't.  Please just go away or get bought by Disney.
  • I loved that this movie was not about children.  Eventually we will probably get a child Spider-Man in these things but so far we've been mercifully Harry Potter and Katniss free in the Marvel movieverse. Thank God!
  • It was cool to see War Machine and Falcon involved but why didn't Falcon get to play in the helicarrier scenes?  Lame.
I had some more thoughts but life is hard and I got tired/bored before I finished this post.  Sorry. 

Your best pal ever,

Shannon Smith

21 January 2015

I read a bunch of my daughter's comics.


I buy a lot of comics.  A lot of them are for my kids.  Luckily they have pretty good taste in comics.  The sad thing is that I read the comics they get before I read the ones I get for myself.  (And then my comics accumulate into a giant tower as pictured above.)  See, I don't get to keep their comics.  I can always read my comics on my death bed or whatever but I gotta read their comics before they turn them into pocketbooks and post them on Pintrest or whatever it is kids do with things these days.

(Is Pintrest still a thing?  I got an ello invite a while back and never found the time to read the email.)

Where were we?  Oh yeah, comics. I read a bunch of my daughter's comics recently.  Here are some words about them.

Doctor Who
All three of the new comics from Titan by Nick Abadzis, Elena Casagrande, Al Ewing, Rob Williams, Simon Fraser, Robbie Morrison, Dave Taylor and a whole bunch of other people.
Published by Titan.  $3.99.

My daughter is super into Doctor Who.  (And I am too kinda.)  We started reading some of the IDW Doctor Who comics a year or so ago and like most IDW comics they were pretty good if not super over produced.  I was skeptical about the franchise moving from IDW to Titan but these new Titan Doctor Who comics look and feel almost exactly like the IDW books.  Paper and production that are almost too good.  Colors that are almost too slick.  Writing and drawing that are fine enough.  There are three of these things.  One series for the 10th Doctor, one for the 11th and now one for the 12th.  Each writer does a fine job of capturing their Doctor's personality and dialog and each artist does a solid job of capturing their mannerisms.  I like most of the stories so far.  These comics get to go off into some 2000 AD directions you don't see on TV.  The art can be inconsistent but I enjoy it, especially the Dave Taylor work on the 12th doctor book.  It is lovely sci-fi drawing with some Brendan McCarthy-esque colors as well. Of the three serieses I'd say the 12th Doctor comic is the best.  My main complaint with these things is do we really need three Doctor Who comics at $3.99 each.  How about one comic each month at $4.99.  Instead of 20 ish pages of each doctor each month, give me 8 ish pages of each doctor in one magazine style book.  Maybe even throw in a random "Classic" Doctor story as well?  Maybe even hire me to write one of the things.  Hell, I'd buy two copies of that issue.
Oh, one other complaint:  Titan, give me digital codes in the print comics so I can also read these on my iPad.  Ask Marvel and Comixology how.  Do it!  Do it now!

Edge of Spider-Verse No. 2:  Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman
By Jason Latour, Robbi Rodriguez, Rico Renzi, Clayton Cowles and some other people.
Published by Marvel. $3.99

This is one of the more visually exciting comics I've read in a bit.  Robbi Rodriquez draws with every one's clothes and hair in motion and his action layouts force the eye to the point of impact with great speed.  Rico Renzi's colors really pop off the page and his pallet choices are bold and vibrant.  There are very few tricks and gimmicks in Renzi's colors.  Mostly flats with out any of the garbage effects everyone uses.  Just great choices.  Choices that would probably sound insane if you were to explain them without showing them.  "Yeah, I'm gonna have hot pink on top of electric green in this panel but trust me, it's gonna work." -Something imaginary Renzi said to imaginary Latour and Rodriguez while imaginary coloring the book.  It looks fantastic.  And it's full of some neat ideas.  In this Spider-Man variant universe whatever, Gwen Stacy got bit instead of Pete Parker and it sets up totally different dynamics with her police officer father and her female friends that you don't get in the regular Spider-Man books.  And that costume, I mean c'mon guys, that costume is sharp.  I'd buy more of these.  Hey Marvel, make more of these.  (They are totally making more of these.)

Gotham Academy No. 1
By Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl, Geyser, Dave McCaig, Steve Wands and some other people.
Published by DC Comics. $2.99.

Ugh.  Aww jeeze.  This one was a slog to get through.  Like reading a mud puddle.  I really should not have read this after reading that exciting Spider-Gwen comic.  This thing, man this thing.  Let's start with the colors by "Geyser with Dave McCaig".  Maybe it should have been colored by just Geyser or just Dave McCaig because one of the two did way too much coloring.  Maybe Karl Kerschl did some good drawing in this thing but I'll never know because all I can see is various shapes of split pea soup and refried beans. And the writing.  Gawd.  This thing is full of words all of which you've read a gagillion times.  This book really lost me on page one with the total imagination vacuum of protagonist monologue captions. "Every stone has a story  ...but not every story has a happy ending."  You know what, either get on with the story or let's skip to the sad ending folks. "This is my life.."  No kid, this is the life of every freaking young adult character ever.  Get over it.  Please God oh please make Batman show up by page 4 of this thing and punch somebody in the neck. I counted the pages and absolutely nothing happens in the first eleven pages of this comic.  This comic is not for me.  And look, most comics published since about 1987 have been published specifically for ME.  I'm cool with somebody not Shannon Smith being pandered too.  Really, go make your young adult fiction comics.  Pretend Bruce Wayne went to Hogwarts.  Whatever you think it is that the youngs need.  Just make them good.  Go read Richard Sala and figure it out.  Jeeziz.  Can we not just pay Richard Sala a bunch of money to pretend that Cat Burglar Black took place in Gotham and re-launch that as an ongoing comic?  Seriously, whatever it takes.

New Suicide Squad No. 1.
By Sean Ryan, Jeremy Roberts, Bond, Taylor Esposito and some other people.
Published by DC Comics.  $2.99.

This is a re-launch of the New 52 re-launch of the Suicide Squad.  Have you read it?  No.  Close your eyes and imagine what this comic looks and reads like.  Okay, that is exactly what this comic looks and reads like.  Like most of the New 52 stuff outside of the Batman, Superman and Green Lantern books, this thing looks and reads like 2000s Image.  And not the good Image.  This looks like the Top Cow image.  Which is terrible.  My daughter wanted this because she is super into Harley Quinn and Duela Dent.  (They call Duela Dent "Joker's Daughter" in the New 52 but she's Duela Dent and she's been around longer than you have.)  Duela and Harley aver very fun characters but there is nothing fun about this comic.  Sure it's full of video game violence if you are into that but where are the jokes?  Where is the madness?  I think (I could be wrong) but I think this is the first time New 52 Harley and New 52 Duela get together.  That should have been magic.  But, not a lot of writers get Harley and Duela in the New 52.  Jimmy Palmiotti does.  Go read Ame-Comi girls.  It's the best comic DC has published in the New 52 era.  Duela Dent shines in that thing.  This is not that thing.  This is not very good.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl No. 1.
By Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi and some other people.
Published by Marvel.  $3.99

Loved every panel of this comic.  Great script, great character design and drawing, vibrant colors, talking squirrel... what else you want?  Every thing I said about Renzi's color on the Spider-Gwen book applies here as well.  Ryan North really has this smart comics for kids thing figured out.  I've read about 100 thousand of his Adventure Times comics and I don't want him dead yet so that's pretty darn good.  Love Henderson's Kraven the Hunter in this.  The plot?  Eh, who cares?  She's going to college or whatever.  It's a girl with a squirrel tail and a talking squirrel sidekick.  Who even cares what they are doing as long as they are doing it with jokes?  The kids, they love the jokes.

Your best pal ever,
Shannon Smith

p.s. Say you want a leader but you can't seem to make up your mind. I think you'd better close it and let me guide you to my twitter feed.
p.p.s. Let's pretend we went to high school together on facebook.
p.p.p.s. Google + is another place you can read the same thing I posted here.
p.p.p.p.s. I'll tumblr for ya.
p.p.p.p.p.s.  Yeah, I do Instagram too now.  I guess it's a law or something.