In which the blogger sings the praises of the work of creators whose projects are well worth a moment of anyone's time.
I'm a considerable fan of Mark Simmons's work. I love the life and the charm and the energy of his comic strips. His Little Monsters: Seven Comic Fantasies is a collection of short stories from the small press, 24 hour Comics Day projects, and the absolutely splendid Blood Bite Of The Death Dragon, a strip which would've been in my best-of list for 2010 if I'd've had the sense to produce one. Seriously. I love that story, and it reads even better when collected here than it did when it was first presented as a web comic at Toy's Dream, Mark's blog. Mark tells me that anyone who thinks that they might be interested in acquiring a copy of Little Monsters would be welcome to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. I've found him to be as splendid a chap as he is an artist, so why not drop him a line?
I'm not sure if it's the technology that intimidates me, or if it's just that I'm a terrible old Tory when it comes to consuming fiction, but I've always belonged the tribe of the exceptionally late adopters. A shameful thing to admit, I know, but that only makes my favourable response to Reilly Brown and Kurt Christenson's digital comic Power Play all the more telling. It's the first digital comic I've come across whose form has been crafted to take advantage of the new medium. It's not just a strip which can be read in a digital format, but one which has been designed in such a way as to take advantage of what is, after all, a very different method of consuming comics. I enjoyed being surprised and entertained by how the preview pages of Power Play worked, so I'll not try to describe what I found there here. But even an aged Luddite such as myself can sense something of the future for the comic book in Power Play.
The story itself is a manga-esque super-person tale, kinetic and good-humoured and unpretentiously enjoyable. You can find both a free preview and the $1.99 first issue at Comixology here, while checking out the artwork here only emphasises how well Power Play would work in a bog-standard two-stapled format too. Some heavy duty folks have been quick to praise the work of Brown and Christenson here, from Fred Van Lente to Paolo Rivera to Fabian Nicieza, and it's really not hard at all to see why they've done so.
I know how seriously Matthew Mclaughlin takes his writing, and so I'm always taken aback to note how hard he works to make his scripts as entertainingly free from worthiness as possible. No lover of superheroes, he's developing his trade in a variety of sadly-less typical genres, from the grimmest of futuristic westerns to absurd rib-ticklers concerning medieval priests engaged in monster hunting. I admire his determination to carve out his own terse, smart and dryly amusing style, and I'm pleased to note the development of his latest venture, the fantasy western El Bigote, in which a Mexico plagued by the undead is patrolled by a ghoul-killer not given to excesses of negotiation or restraint. Matt's enthusiastic to be collaborating with artist El Chivo on the project and the result of their combined endeavours is, quite frankly, something of a hoot. You can find sample art and follow the properties progress forwards here at the El Bigote Facebook page, and there's an El Bigote site currently under construction here, featuring a splendid logo put together by the apparently tireless Bolt-01.
Julian Darius's new publishing venture and blog Martian Lit
bears the reassuring tag-line "We come in peace, seeking only oxygen
and slaves", which all sounds rather reasonable. Should the short history of
Martian civilisation offered by the blog is to be trusted - here - things could, after all, be far worse. And if the blog itself appears to believe that it's speaking from and for the fourth planet, then its content defines Martian Lit as a brave and intriguing endeavour, with a range of creatively aggressive
fiction, non-fiction and poetry already up, each of which is
complimented by some splendid original art. I have no idea where Julian
finds the energy and time for everything that he's involved in. (He's
even done me the not-inconsiderable favour of editing the first of my
new weekly essays for Sequart,
which are scheduled to begin on the 3rd of January. A really good editor
is exceptionally hard to find, as I'm sure you're aware.) But, as
always, his work, and that of his many and estimable co-conspirators, is
well worth the checking out.
The world is full of tales of Giant Robots, but that’s no
excuse for not checking out Richard Clements and Alex Moore’s Turning Tiger, which is to be published by Arcana in the coming April. It’s a comic whose
strength lies not just in its well-choreographed scenes of giant war-machines knocking seventeen bells out of each other. Indeed, what really sets apart Turning Tiger from a great deal of the competition is the family drama which only appears
to run parallel to the grand action set-pieces.
Clements's script is typically terse, focused, and clear, while Moore is similarly transparent, direct and engaging. I'd like to say a little more about Turning Tiger, and to reference the most touching aspect of the tale, but the way in which the book's two plots collide is really best left to the reader to discover for themselves. The world is indeed full of giant robots, but there’s an emotional core
to this story which means that it could well survive and prosper in mediums far
beyond the comic book. You can check out a few preview pages at Arcana Press here, and I'd recommend a visit to artist Alex Moore's blog too.
I'd have to say that my favourite new blog of the year is Miguel's exceptionally smart Comics Without Frontiers. His writing needs no hyping up from me, as visitors to the blog will already know. He's equally adept at discussing European and American comics, newspaper strips and superhero hoo-hahs, and I never leave his blog without feeling that my time's been well invested.
Finally, Emmet O'Cuana has a series of three pieces under the tile of "2011: A Geek Review" up on Comics Booked.com. (Find them here, here and here.) In them, he presents the opinions of a range of artists, writers, and bloggers on their highlights of the year that's been and their most-anticipated events of 2012. It's a fun read, as anyone who's followed Emmet's career on his own A Book A Day Until I Can Stay blog, let alone elsewhere, might safely anticipate. I appreciated being given the chance to contribute a few of my own genre experiences of the past 12 months too, and it lent me the opportunity to babble a touch about the utterly splendid Misfits too, a favourite of both the Splendid Wife and her Obediant Husband. Thank you, Emmet!
I do hope your holiday season is going as well as might be hoped for. All the best to you from the windswept semi-wilderness of the East of England.
nb: In order to avoid seeming to show any undue favour at all, I had the Splendid
Wife decide the order of the above through the hi-tech method of,
er, picking out folded-over pieces of paper from a coffee cup. If you've seen something that looks interesting to you, why not help spread the word? The blogosphere's a place where the law of unintended consequences is always at play, and regularly in a benevolent fashion too. A tweet, a comment, a recommendation to a friend, a free sample experimented with; there are, of course, worse things to invest a few seconds in, and I know from experience how the fortunes of a lil'blog such as TooBusyThinkingAboutMyComics can be raised by such kindnesses.