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Review: 'Slightly Damned', by Sarah 'Chu' Wilson

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Slightly Damned Book OneThese are the first two collections of the wacky fantasy Slightly Damned full-page, full-color internet weekly comic strip by Sarah “Chu” Wilson. She has won the Ursa Major Award for both the Best Anthropomorphic Other Literary Work (these book collections) and for the Best Anthropomorphic Graphic Story, for both 2012 and 2013. If you haven’t read “Slightly Damned” yet, these are a lot more fun than reading through the strip’s online archives a page at a time.

The back-cover blurb, which establishes the mood as well as the plot, says:

Rhea has a big problem: SHE’S DEAD. Too burdened with sin for Heaven or Purgatory, yet not quite bad enough for Hell, Rhea is sentenced by the grim reaper to the obscure Ring of the Slightly Damned. There she finds that death is only the beginning of her worries as she contends with dysfunctional Demons and their perplexing pets, a socially awkward Angel with a cute ‘n cuddly curse, a goofy god, and even… herself. The afterlife just ain’t what it used to be!

Slightly Damned, Book One, by Sarah “Chu” Wilson, Phoenix, AZ, Slightly Damned Comics/Orlando, FL, Ka-Blam Digital Printing, June 2012, trade paperback $39.95 (unpaged [276 pages]), digital download $4.99.
Slightly Damned, Book Two, by Sarah “Chu” Wilson, Phoenix, AZ, Slightly Damned Comics/Orlando, FL, Ka-Blam Digital Printing, May 2013, trade paperback $39.95 (unpaged [318 pages]), digital download $4.99.

Review: 'L'Extravagante Croisière de Lady Rozenbilt', by Pierre Gabus and Romuald Reutimann

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This is a review of the original French edition. My thanks to Lex Nakashima for getting and loaning it to me.

L'Extravagante Croisière de Lady RozenbiltThe young Alfred Bigoodee is only an assistant when he embarks on the seaplane of Lady Rozenbilt, the fabulously rich woman with tastes as fantastic as they are dangerous. This voyage will forever change his life.

A complete story about the man who will become Captain Bigoodee, one of the most striking characters of the series District 14, the prize-winning series of the International Comics Festival of Angoulême. (French blurb; my translation)

The French publisher’s American subsidiary in Hollywood has published the English translation, The Fantastic Voyage of Lady Rozenbilt, almost simultaneously with the original edition, but has declined to send me a review copy; so this review is of the French edition alone.

This 124-page hardcover album starts out as a prequel, so to speak, of Pierre Gabus and Romuald Reutimann's District 14, Season 1, which I described in my review as:

a Ridley Scott Blade Runner megalopolis (Reutimann’s art convincingly portrays a huge but crumbling early 20th-century city) with Humphrey Bogart as the cynical private eye; and the inhabitants, each of whom has a dark secret, divided roughly into one-third humans, one-third anthropomorphic animals, and one-third outer-space immigrants in their flying saucers.

The humans are the upper classes of society, but that doesn’t mean that the humanoid animals are not at least as active when it comes to really running things.

One of this world’s supporting characters is the mysterious cat-man Captain Bigoodee; American- or English-accented in the French edition or French-accented in the American edition. This is the story of his youth, and of how he loses his innocence.

Paris, Les Humanoïdes Associdés, October 2013, hardcover €15.99 (124 pages).

Three comic book reviews: Pull List #23 ('GotG', 'MLP:FiM' and 'TMNT')

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Guardians of the Galaxy #7We’ve got three issues from what are becoming the core books of this Pull List series of articles.

The oldest title in the series is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which has been around since the first Pull List and 14 issues have appeared in 14 other pull lists, counting this one. Eight spin-off issues, including the original Micro-Series, the Villains Micro-Series and The Secret History of the Foot Clan have also appeared in seven Pull Lists, bringing the total TMNT number to 23 issues in 22 Pull Lists.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic began at the beginning with #1 in Pull List #6. Since then, 10 other issues have appeared in nine other Pull Lists, with seven issues of its Micro-Series featuring in seven Pull Lists, bring the franchise’s total up to 18 issues in 17 Pull Lists.

The new kids on the block are the Guardians of the Galaxy, with seven issues in seven Pull Lists and no spin-offs, so they’re also the easiest to keep track of.

Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: 30th Anniversay Special'

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TMNT 30th Anniversary SpecialIDW has put out this comic to celebrate the fact that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have turned 30 this year, an age which is not only well beyond teenaged, but also past the point where pointing that out can be considered witty, but that’s not going to stop me.

The book contains a brief history of the ninja turtles, starting with their beginnings as a self-published comic in May of 1984, with various pieces of turtle nostalgia, including the sketch of what is now considered the “first turtle,” ads, posters and press releases for the first ever issue, as well as full page tribute art by Steve Lavigne, Michael Dooney, Ken Mitchroney, Ben Bates, T-Rex, Ross Campbell, Mark Torres, David Petersen and Daniel “Pez” Lopez, with a cover by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird with a back cover by Mateus Santolouco, not to mention a variety of alternate covers.

The book covers the history of the TMNT in the comics exclusively; it features brand new stories taking place in five comic book continuities: the early Mirage years, the Archie TMNT Adventures, the Image “third volume”, the later Mirage years and the newest IDW series, with a limited cover gallery showing the first issue of each of these eras.

May 2014, IDW Publishing, San Diego, CA, trade paperback $7.99, Kindle $1.99.

Review: 'Doc Rat Vols. 11-12', by Jenner

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Doc Rat Vol. 11Doc Rat Vol. 12I reviewed volumes 8-10 here in May 2013. My review was so favorable that part of it is quoted in the back-cover blurb on volume 12. Here are volumes 11 and 12, equally enjoyable and not-to-be-missed.

These two pocket-sized books contain the Doc Rat daily Internet comic strips from #1427 to #1558 (December 13, 2011 to June 13, 2012), and #1559 to #1758 (June 14, 2012 to March 20, 2013). Volume 11 is a normal one, collecting six months of the comic strip. Volume 12 is a giant-sized one, collecting more pages to take the story to the conclusion of a long story-arc.

Dr. Craig "Jenner" Hilton has been simultaneously an active furry fan and an Australian doctor since the early 1980s. His anthropomorphic cartoons were published in the progress reports and program book of the 1985 World Science Fiction Convention in Melbourne.

For about twenty years after graduating from medical college, Hilton was assigned to provide medical services for a series of small towns around western Australia, from which he sent his furry cartoons to America. During a stay as the doctor for the coal-mining town of Collie, he drew an anthropomorphic comic strip, DownUnderGround, for the local newspaper. He finally settled in permanently as a GP in a suburb of Melbourne. His character of Doc Rat began appearing in individual cartoons in medical and non-medical publications during the 1990s. On June 26, 2006 he launched Doc Rat as a Monday through Friday comic strip on the Internet. Since then Doc Rat has picked up an international following, including placing as one of the five finalists in the Best Comic Strip category for the Ursa Major Awards for 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013 voted upon this year.

Doc Rat is a combination of stand-alone comedy strips, usually emphasizing medical humour of the groaner-pun variety, and urban drama in an anthropomorphic world where carnivores are allowed to hunt and eat the herbivores, although they have to do it legally. This involves a lot of red tape and filling-out of forms. Often the carnivores are too impatient to do this, and they hunt illegally, which provides much of the drama of the strip. The herbivores are working politically to make all predation of intelligent citizens illegal, which is also a plot point.

Doc Rat. Vol. 11, "I’m Fair Off Me Tucker, Doc", by Jenner, June 2013, Platinum Rat Productions, Melbourne, Vic., Australia, trade paperback AUS $16.00 or US$12.95 ([76 pgs.])
Doc Rat. Vol. 12, "It Hurts To Swallow, Doc", by Jenner, December 2013, Platinum Rat Productions, Melbourne, Vic., Australia, trade paperback AUS$18.00 or US$14.95 ([110 pgs.])

Three comic book reviews: Pull List #22 ('Howard the Duck')

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Howard the Duck #8For all the hubbub about Marvel Studios deciding to go with an obscure team featuring a talking raccoon with a machine gun for their latest movie, they’re only continuing on as they started.

Think about it; not counting serials, what was the first DC universe character to get his own movie? Batman, followed by Superman (followed by Batman, Batman again, even more Batman, Superman, Superman and next Batman and Superman together). That’s their two biggest guns, and barring that weird Ryan Reynolds thing and Vertigo adaptations, that’s about it.

What was Marvel’s first superhero to get his own theatrical movie? Howard the Duck, followed by Blade, a character who struggles to headline his own comic books, but somehow managed a trilogy of movies. Yeah, Howard the Duck was the first obvious warning sign George Lucas wasn’t perfect, but now that Guardians of the Galaxy movie doesn’t sound so weird, does it?

Anyway, this is a special edition of Pull List; we’re taking a look back at one of the odder cult characters in mainstream comics. Howard the Duck got his start in a horror comic, of all places, created by weird writer extraordinaire Steve Gerber (four words: elf with a gun). Howard would have been a nobody in his home universe, where everybody is a duck, but he got stuck in our world, “trapped in a world he never made,” as the series’ tagline goes (which kind of applies to everybody, but whatever), so he got his own comic book series here.

His comics’ introduction describes him:

From the time of his hatching, he was … different. A potentially brilliant scholar who dreaded the structured environment of school, he educated himself in the streets, taking whatever work was available, formulating his philosophy of self from what he learned of the world about him. And then the Cosmic Axis shifted … and that world changed. Suddenly, he was stranded in a universe he could not fathom. Without warning, he became a strange fowl in an even stranger land.

Three comic book reviews: Pull List #21 ('MLP' and 'TMNT')

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Alopex by Ross CampbellAnother day, another Pull List.

Today, we’ve got some IDW titles, including issues from two very different Micro-Series. One is from the My Little Pony Micro-Series, which features cute adventures, and another is from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Villains Micro-Series.

It doesn’t feature cute adventures.

Just Give Him Your Socks And Everything’s Fine

Ndbag is a boogeyman, but not the scary people-eating kind. No, he’d much rather eat one of your dirty socks — usually the left one. Ndbag the Boogeyman lives in the closet clothes hamper of a little girl named Mylene. He’s made friends with her favorite plushie: A panda named Pandaman. They get along so well that Ndbag created his very own panda costume which he calls Pandabag. The little blue boogeyman is also “frenemies” with ZK, a fluffy dryer goblin who much prefers clean socks and munching on lint. Are you getting all of this? It all comes from the mind of Austrian artist E.F. Gludovacz, and you can find out more in the first Ndbag the Boogeyman book as well as the regularly-updated web comic… all at the official web site.

image c. 2014 by E.F. Gludovacz

image c. 2014 by E.F. Gludovacz

Look Out! Gremlins On Line.

Back in the day, E.T. Bryan and E.W. Bryan created Gremlin Trouble, a black & white anime-inspired comic book series about a hapless storm fairy turned into a puffy-tailed gremlin by a bolt of lightning — and the adventures that came next. That only begins to scratch the surface of how crazy this fantasy/adventure/j-pop story became. Well now, that same team have returned on line with Gremlin Princess: “Digit, a young Gremlin Princess and her pushy fairy best friend Appleblossom are enrolled in Miss Stahlbacken’s Academy for Young Entities, a harsh discipline school for fairy delinquents. There, sadistic magic using overseers rule, technology is banned, and escape is impossible. Hilarity ensues.” Makes much more sense, yes? See what you can figure out by visiting the Anti-Ballistic Pixelations web site.

image c. 2014 by E.T. Bryan

image c. 2014 by E.T. Bryan

Review: 'Rocket Raccoon and Groot: The Complete Collection'

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Rocket Raccoon and Groot: The Complete CollectionThe title of this collection is misleading; it collects almost every issue Rocket Raccoon and/or Groot appeared in with the exceptions of any issues of Guardians of the Galaxy or books where they appeared as part of that team. As a side note, Rocket is the only Guardian who has been an active member of that team since the beginning (not counting the original, alternate future Guardians); even Star-Lord was momentarily kicked off the team.

But anyway, these are the solo adventures of both Groot and Rocket, plus their team ups, including their first appearances in Tales to Astonish #13 way back in 1959 for Groot (that’s right, Groot is over half a century old) and both of Rocket Raccoon’s first appearances. I’ll explain that better below.

All together, they form a great introduction to the characters, especially for fans whose only knowledge that these two characters exists comes from the upcoming movie.

This collection includes stories by Bill Mantlo, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, and Larry Lieber, with art by Keith Giffen, Sal Buscema, Mike Mignola, Timothy Green II and Jack Kirby. The cover is by Mike Mignola, with a back cover by Skottie Young.

New York, NY, Marvel, April 2013, trade paperback $18.96 (264 pages).

Out of Roomies

Andrew Dickman is a professional storyboard artist in the field of animation. He is also, in his copious spare time, the creator of the on-line anthropomorphic comic called Roomies. Actually, of late he hasn’t had much spare time while he’s working multiple animation jobs, so it’s been a while since Roomies has been updated. Which means now might be a good time to catch up with Andy, Swain, and Mary, the anthropomorphic college-age room-mates who inhabit this fair comic. Visit Andrew’s web page to find out what we mean. Andrew has said that he hopes to bring this comic back to life some day, so make sure to keep checking back!

image c. 2014 Andrew Dickman

image c. 2014 Andrew Dickman

She Said, The Horse Said

Back from Comic Con! Give us just a few minutes to get feeling back in our feet, and we’ll get busy with our reports.

Whew! All right, here we go then… Terry Cronin is a writer, best known for his comic book series Students of the Unusual and his Skinvestigator series of detective novels. Recently, inspired by his wife Ava (who loves horses), Terry hooked up with the artists Savannah McKendree and Gary Scott Beatty to create Horse Power G, the story of a young lady named Gertrude (“G”) and her prize horse, Amber. Sounds simple enough, yes? Here’s the twist: Read the comic forwards from the front to the middle and it’s told from the humans’ point of view, but read from the back to the middle and it’s the same story from the animals’ point of view! It all meets up right in the center with a cliffhanger leading right to the next issue. Horse Power G is published in full color by 3 Boys Productions. Visit the official Facebook page to find out more.

image c. 2014 3 Boys Productions

image c. 2014 3 Boys Productions

Review: 'District 14, Season 2', by Pierre Gabus and Romuald Reutimann

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District 14: Season 2I reviewed District 14, Season 1 on Flayrah on February 12, 2013, saying:

Wow!

I don’t know what’s going on, but wow!

Three years have passed since Season 1. As before, the main character is the mysterious Babar-esque elephant immigrant known as Michael Elizondo, with his recently made best friend, the reckless investigative reporter Hector McKeagh the beaver.

Season 2 continues the elaborate comic-art “crime noir” mystery set in an early 20th-century steampunk version of New York City populated with humans, anthropomorphic animals and flying-saucer aliens.

Wow, indeed.

Translation by Anna Provitola, Los Angeles, Humanoids, Inc., January 2014, hardcover $39.95 (358 [+ 1] pages).

Death Is For The Birds

Sorry. After a successful Kickstarter campaign last year, Rachele Aragno (and her associates, Dave Ryan and Robert J. Sodaro) announced that Owl Girls will soon be available from Red Anvil Comics — you can check it out at their web site. “Not everything is as it seems, especially in the SoHo district of 1940’s New York City. No, in fact, things are not always quite what they seem. There are shadows and alleyways of the world that are not normally traversed by mortal men, and in those shadowy realms, there exist things that must be dealt with by those that can divine their presence and root out that evil. This is the world of the Owl Girls, a trio of sisters who for reasons that pass understanding have the heads of Owls and the bodies of human women. Virtually every culture in the world offers up myths and legends about the nature of Owls, and we here in America are no different. These three women (Magda, Martha, and Maggie) are attempting to live normal lives, only they have mystical abilities, oh yes, and they talk to Death; an old woman who visits them at odd moments during the day, and whose bidding they sometimes do.” Got all that?

Furry comics for September 2014 (Previews and Marvel Previews)

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Usagi Yojimbo: Senso #2The only furry comic of note to make the May 2014 bestsellers list was Guardians of the Galaxy #15 at 25, so I’ll add that this month actually sees not one, but two furry takes on War of the Worlds, and I’m excited about both of them.

Which will be the best (or will Alan Moore’s Dr. Moreau vs. Martians still be the best furry War of the Worlds take)?

See also: July 2014, August 2014

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