Saturday, December 31, 2005

TSL Best of 05


Honorable mention - Livewires


Honorable mention - Sharknife

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

Sin City

Honorable mention - Life Aquatic

Dead and Breakfast

Honorable mention - Star Wars Clone Wars Volumes 1 and 2

Bloc Party - Silent Alarm

Honorable mention - Ladytron - Witching Hour


Honorable mention - Lost

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

I feel like such a tool for nominating two Marvel Comics for comic of the year, but honestly, those are the two books that jump to mind.
The entire list was composed on the fly, I did not sit and analyze the selections. I may go back and rethink some, but who knows...

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

IN CASE U MISSED IT: Digital noise

'Nother development in the digitalization of comics...

This time it's an iTunes video development.
Looks like the recently re-released classic Body Bags is getting the digital treatment...
the full article is HERE

It does appear to be slightly animated and voiced over content to jazz things up for the iPod format. Just another potential avenue for future digital pathways...

Friday, December 23, 2005

Spirit of the Season

With most everyone taking a break for the holiday weekend, I find it appropriate to leave a post for the break, in the spirit of giving. Yesterday, Newsarama ran a piece from James Heffron, Publisher/Creator of TERRITORY 51, on his recent efforts for disaster relief on the gulf coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Not only is this a great piece of perspective for all comic fans, from a fellow enthusiast and creator, but for me it was especially touching, as I've had the pleasure of meeting Jim, and feel honored to call him a friend.

I met Jim and his brother Mike, Publishers of LAWDOG comics, at the 2004 San Diego Comic-Con, we were neighbors in the small press section, and hit it off right away and all talked shop for the next few days. This past year, the Heffron's were even so nice, as to include Super Real in their 2005 convention preview anthology. The Heffron's were not only nice guys, but have some great comics and ideas they're working on, but as you tend to do at conventions with the friendships you form, you get to know people in relation to comic books and the business, being separated by geography, it's harder to get to know them on a personal level. So what I didn't know, was that Jim was not only a stand up guy, publisher, and creator, but also a top notch citizen too.

All I can say is that it's inspiring, and that I hope you can take a moment, if you haven't already, and read the article, it's posted here HERE

Merry Christmas,
and Happy Holidays


IN CASE U MISSED IT: A pair of Marvel's

One of my favorite books in recent years, and indeed of all time, was Marvel's X-FORCE/X-STATIX by MILLIGAN and ALLRED, so needless to say, I was sad to see it go.

Another publishing effort of Marvel's that I was very fond of in recent years was the MARVEL MANGAVERSE, Marvel characters re-imagined from a contemporary Eastern creative standpoint.

Turns out both properties are set to make a comeback of sorts, both as mini series, and there's currently preview pages from both in the latest batch of advance looks from the publisher.

You can view some of the pages on HERE

Milligan and Allred can do no wrong together, and it's just really refreshing to see the Marvel Universe in a modern contemporary way (by an actual manga artist even)!

IN CASE U MISSED IT: Comic Book Digest returns! Is the industry saved?

Amid the flurry of downbeat stories on independent publishing this past week or so, a welcome ray of light is the announcement that ALIAS ENTERPRISES is relaunching their COMIC BOOK DIGEST preview book. Originally, about a year back, CBD was an oversized black and white monthly that previewed independent titles in 8 page chunks, along with some editorial, for a super-low cover price. It failed to get the penetration it deserved, but it was a great idea.

Now Alias has announced the plan to bring it back, from the Newsarama press release:
"full-color previews of upcoming Alias releases from LULLABY to TWIN BLADES, and everything in between for only 25 cents each month!

Originally a black and white preview book spotlighting various independent Comic book company projects, the all-new FULL COLOR, 32-page monthly CBD will feature at least two comic book previews in each issue, with each preview being a minimum 11-pages or more of art."
The books return sees it as a preview book for Alias titles, which is understandable since they're a publishing company now, so it's not quite the independent press tool it was before. However, they do mention that they're taking advertising for it, and also go on to indicate with proper sponsorship, they could reach a much wider distribution.

You can see the full article HERE

I think this is exactly the kind of idea that independent publishers need, a promotional publication previewing their books with a strong penetration to the direct market (the very thing they can't obtain with ads at the back of the Previews catalog). I only wish this was open to all publishers, though it remains to be seen what kind of advertising or rates they offer, or if they can actually achieveve or maintain the distribution they're talking about. The theory, paid participation from independent publishers, for broader exposure of their products with a mass distribution to the direct market, is one I floated around some message boards a little ways back, so I think it has some chance, and I also think it's exactly what independent publishers need! It will be interesting to see where this leads, not only for Alias, but for independent press and the market in general.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


Tales From Netflix are DVD reviews, where I tell you where you should put a disc in your Netflix rental queue - placing it at the top, burying it at the bottom, or not even bothering in the first place.


Charming and quirky enough, with a solid ensemble cast. Find out what it's like to always be the guy getting dumped for someone cool.
Put BAXTER in the MIDDLE of your QUEUE


This French sci-fi/horror film is straight out of the pages of comic books, or at least in spirit. It's also like Buffy The Vampire Slayer if it were conceived by Grant Morrison, but done by the people who make Power Rangers. It's unique.
I'd say you could put MALLORY at the BOTTOM of your QUEUE, if you can take a little cheese with your movies

I'd hoped the Broken Lizard involvement with the Dukes would still surprisingly kick my ass in the funny bone, but alas, it is just an overall entertaining film, nothing special. Which by the sum of it's parts, it should've been.
Go ahead and put the DUKES in the MIDDLE of your QUEUE

Sometimes hilarious, but generally just funny, Steve Carell nails the role (no pun intended). (Side note: I worked at an electronics store as a stock guy, which is the setup for Carell's character, so I can tell you the characters, and situations from the film are spot on in that regard...)
Put VIRGIN at the TOP of your QUEUE

Wow, this sure didn't do anything to convince me that Michael Bay is anything other than all flash, and 100% bad movies! It pisses away the fertile subject matter, and hodge podges together a goofy-ass, stupid, meandering mess of a movie. Yeesh!
Put THE ISLAND at the BOTTOM of your QUEUE if you dare!


From the creator of THE CUBE (the amazingly original quasy-sci-fi-indy from a few years back), comes another original offering. This time the protaganists find themselves transported to an existance of, well, nothing...
Put NOTHING in the MIDDLE of your QUEUE


From Broken Lizard, the writing/producing/directing/acting group that brought us such comedic gems as Super Troopers and Club Dread, only it's their first unreleased film from almost a decade back. CRUISER is a somewhat charming look at college love life, and the male ego, through the not-yet-honed lense of the crazy Broken Lizard group. It would stand on it's own as an okay romantic comedy, dude style, but it's also a little fun to see these guys in their earlier years...
Put CRUISER in the MIDDLE of your QUEUE


It's a zombie flick, but only one that could come from Japan. This new spin on the genre has teenage girls turn into zombies the world over, and deals with the need for their disposal, and it's impact on society. Only Japan could give us such a reflective perspective on the moral impact of zombies. It's also very goofy, with send-ups to horror/zombie movies along the way.
Put STACY at the BOTTOM of your QUEUE

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

COMICS REVIEW: 12/7 & 12/14 books PT 2

Here's part two of my reading stack from the past couple weeks (not counting books out today)...

DANGER GIRL: Back in Black #2
This one is a bit jarring. We go from full on espionage in the vein of the original books (but with the dudes), to the main plot of the girls on motorcycles. It's still not at all to the level of charm the series is known for over all, and the characters come off flat, especially the villains.
The tease at the end is fun though...

DMZ #2
I'm still really digging DMZ. The concept is so strong, it's hard not to. This issue gets us deeper into the ground level of our NYC war zone, and is fairly strong through-out. Though I'd rather see some more action from this set up, then trips to makeshift children's hospitals. The scene with the snipers is really smart and interesting though...

I really liked the first issue from this series. Issue two is good, but really light. Both in terms of story, and pay off. The first issue had all the same elements, namely crisp black and white inky art, and true to life characters and settings, but it also had a hook, something unexpected. Issue two lacks anything extraordinary...

Scanned through some online reviews of this before I'd read it, and they were pretty mixed bag, so I was pleasantly surprised to read it, and see just how much Kirkman's allowed to cut loose with zombie-fied versions of the Marvel U.
A really strong start to the issue, and a fun book over all.

Gosh, it seems like all of the books this time are weaker entrants from a promising series. I really enjoyed issue 1 of this title, but the latest issue didn't grab me at all. I didn't know or care what exactly was going on, except that it was a continuation of issue two's limbo for the protagonist. And by the end of the issue she's set up back in school. Say wha?

Seems like this book was previewed AGES ago, and it's finally out. The promise of the sample art is found in spurts in the book, but I guess we've got art by committee. It all fits together well, but some artists are stronger than others, and the story/sequentials can be confusing to follow. The upside? There's virtually no text, so it's easy to re-read and figure out. Even then though, I'm not sure how this is supposed to work when we know nothing of the characters to care at all about what's happening. I still say...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

IN CASE U MISSED IT: Comics distribution notes

Haven't seen this mentioned around the comics sites, but Publishers Weekly has a piece up today HERE on the troubles of FM International, one of the smaller distributors who've recently taken a blow when one of their largest remaining vendors went exclusive with Diamond.

The article seems to be just more of the speculative musings on the state of the US industries distribution, and the potentially rocky future for the current Diamond competitors in light of the continuing exclusivity of larger independent publishers. It doesn't sound like FM have actually thrown in the towel quite yet.

It's too bad, just as Diamond is positioning to do less distribution of independent and small press, their moves are affecting the stability of the alternative distributors. I don't proclaim to understand enough to make an informed judgment here, but it does seem ironic to say the least. This will of course take time to see, both, to what extent Diamond distances itself from small press, and what, if any, viable alternatives to them develop. I'd hate to think what little alternative distribution does exist is in danger of dwindling further.

Super Real, as you may know, is self-published, and therefore subject to Diamond's new ordering minimums, and it does still remain to be seen how the second issue performs. I tried to do as much as I could to mitigate the standard 40-50% drop-off from first to second issue (overshipping issue one, soliciting issue two after number one was released), but if those moves are unsuccessful, the book could quickly be fighting for its distribution life, before it's even had a chance to grow.
We shall see.
I'm optimistic.
I've gotten this far, I can make it work, but I can't do it without all of you however. So please, keep pre-ordering Super Real, and telling your friends about the book!

Thanks to fellow small presser, Javier Hernandez (, for the tip on the story!

Friday, December 16, 2005

COMICS REVIEW: 12/7 & 12/14 books PT 1

Didn't make it to the shop last week, so I've got 2 weeks of books to go through.
Here's the top of the stack...


Thomas Jane, Steve Niles, and Tim Bradstreet headline this new image sci-fi entry. The pencils are by Lewis Larosa (I think, he's listed first along with Bradstreet as "illustrated"), a name I'm unfamiliar with, but the art is impressive. The opening sequence reminds me of one of the bits from the HEAVY METAL motion picture, a couple of spaced out aliens falling down on the job, and dropping some kind of giant alien pod on a collision course with Earth.
Now, I can tell you what happens in the first issue generally, and tell you it's generally really good, but unfortunately as nice as the artwork is, it's a bit dark and though it's ultra detailed, it struggles to clearly express what's actually happening, specifically. Dunno, guess you gotta see it. Maybe it's me.
I did really enjoyed this though, and look forward to more...


Josh Howard's latest creator-owned mysterious girl series was off to a good start, and issue two doesn't disappoint, but things only move forward just a bit. That's okay, I've a feeling things will start to cut loose soon.
His trademark art doesn't disappoint either.


Speaking of things cutting loose! Issue 9 of the Ultimates does just that, and then some! Everything Millar set up in the first 8 issues pays off big, as in big screen action and global scale mayhem! The traitor's revealed, figuratively and literaly, and so are a group of villains who look like our heroes polar opposites. I'm sure they're all Ultimate versions of Avengers or Marvel Universe villains, but I'm not going to try and figure that out, I'll wait for Millar to spell it out in the final chapters.
I'm sure this would read much better collected, as the action here is a bit breezy for a stand alone issue. Or better yet, if it were a monthly. That's the only mark here really...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

IN CASE U MISSED IT: Marvel goes digital

So yeah, Marvel really quitely got back into digital comics/content again this week. Joey Q (publishing EIC) commented recently about a change in his perceptions of digital comics that's in line with the company's new effort.

The future is getting closer all the time...
You can check out Marvel's latest version of online books HERE

IN CASE U MISSED IT: Speakeasy and the state of the independents

Speaking of, they have a really great in depth look today, at the recently announced changes from independent publisher Speakeasy, that really touches on a lot of what's brewing behind the scenes in independent publishing.

It's full of candid quotes from the publisher and many of it's creators, as well as other comments as they relate to the whole current state of affairs.

Must read material for anyone following independent publishing today.
It can be found HERE

INDUSTRY RANT: Spider-Man must be stopped!

Are you a comics fan?
Do you frequent comic book news sites?
Well then you must be familiar with these...

They've gotten to be a regular thing around the sites.
Now I realize this may come off as petty or bitter, but GOD DAMN, enough already!!!

Every major news site runs these "variant" Spider-Man covers (along with every other manufactured sell-out/reprint from the big two) as front page news. The difference with these, is they're well, silly. That's the point, I know. But most of all, this particular promotion is just endless... These special Marvel "promotions" get treated like big news by the sites, while smaller publishers, LIKE ME, can't get their previews even listed on the side columns.

Look, I'm a big fan of the bigger news sites, I link to, and post comments on them all the time. And for the most part, they do feature a wide range of content. I've even gotten feature coverage, and many positive reviews from them.
I just think it's a little silly to treat this particular promotion the way they do. It just highlights their tendency to skew towards the big publishers. Which ya know, is simple business, but I'd hope on the internet, the vast infinite canvas that it is, they'd make more time or space for the little guys.

But that's why there's other sites, smaller sites, willing to talk with and feature smaller creators like myself. I'd just encourage you to seek those sites out if you care about more than the latest Spider-Man market manipulated sell-out reprint, or Infinite DC cluster fuck sneak peek.

I read and enjoy a ton of stuff from the big publishers, and I like to see coverage of them as much as the next guy, but as a publisher, I find it a little disappointing that my opportunity comes at the expense of excessive promotions like this.

Here are some sites I frequent, or have found recently, that offer something different from the bigger ones:

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Out on DVD yesterday, it's the UNCUT, special edition version of SIN CITY.
I absolutely loved the film, and have been waiting for this version of the DVD to watch it again, but it's on my Christmas list, so I'll have to wait a little bit longer...

SIN CITY is the blueprint for all Hollywood comic book adaptations, an absolutely brilliant translation to the screen!

Saturday, December 10, 2005


My local shop's been kind of spotty on pulling manga sing-ups for me lately, but admittedly, I've been kind of spotty with my sign ups, so perhaps it's on me... Anywho, there've been some recent OEL manga released by TokyoPop I was planning on checking out, but missed, well I was able to pick up one last night, PSY-COMM.

The premise of PSY-COMM was interesting enough, a corporate-run future where wars are waged for entertainment and profit, that follows some psychically enabled soldiers through the minefield of this setup. Besides the action themes, what really drew me to the book was the promising artwork of Shane Granger, who employs an obvious influence from one of my faves Masamune Shirow, among others. Turns out the book, and the art are fairly solid. A fast, enjoyable read. The story, and artwork both falter from time to time, the story, seeming to come in and out of focus and a bit lacking in characterization, with the art being a bit rushed at times. Otherwise PSY-COMM is all good. The themes they play with (kind of like using the X-Men in a sci-fi anime setting) and potential abilities of the artist are more than enough to prime you for the next chapter.

Give PSY-COMM a shot if you like anime like Robotech, sci-fi, or comics that spin contemporary takes on superpowered teams.

IN CASE U MISSED IT: X-static about more!

X-Statix (formerly, briefly, X-Force), the zany creation of Peter Milligan and Mike Allred, was one of my favorite books of recent years. One I was very sad to see go.

As announced a while back, the creators are due to make a return of sorts to their Marvel comics X-Men spin-off property. Milligan writing, and Allred finishing artwork on a Dead Girl story. Dead Girl was always my least favorite of all the many team members, and I was unsure who's art Allred would be inking, but Newsarama had a preview the other day, and things look great!

You can check out the feature HERE
And look for X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl next month.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

IN CASE U MISSED IT: Earthlight ahead

I really dug Stuart Moore's sci-fi writing on 2004's PARA from Penny Farthing Press, and Dark Horse's LONE series from their short lived Rocket line.

Well looks like Stuart's got a sci-fi OEL manga coming from TokyoPop next year called EARTHLIGHT.
Newsarama does a feature on it, and not only does the story and concept sound amazing, a near future space colonization riff with tons of nice little details/wrinkles, but the artwork from newcomer Chris Schons looks fabulous!

Check out the feature HERE

Monday, December 05, 2005


Tales From Netflix are DVD reviews, where I tell you where you should put a disc in your Netflix rental queue - placing it at the top, burying it at the bottom, or not even bothering in the first place.


Sci-fi tale of an astronaut for hire, made on a shoesrting budget. Imaginative, but wallows a bit too much in it's musical tendencies...
Oh, and I can't get over how much the main actor (the astronaut), looks like Hugh Jackman's Wolverine...
Put this one at the BOTTOM or your QUEUE


Holy shit this was one funny movie! Stupid, potty, gigolo humor, but wayyyy better than expected. The original was fun, but this one is great! Long live the secret society of man-whores!
Put DUECE at the TOP of your QUEUE


My wife had never seen these classic Eastwood action/comedy romps, so it was high time to watch this 1978 classic again.
It was a solid, and unexpectedly less "slick" than I remembered (that was the over-the-top sequel, see next). Great film!
Put this one at the TOP of your QUEUE

Any which takes all of the elements of the original and has more fun with them. Perhaps too much fun, but a must see for the uninitiated. The original is better in almost every way though...
Put this sequel in the MIDDLE of your QUEUE


Actually caught this one on cable, so it's a bit of a cheat, I would've never rented it... That said, the reason we ended up watching it, besides being horror nuts, was that it was actually pretty entertaining.
After looking this one up (and as the title implies), it turns out this 2003 film is actually the second Leprechaun movie "in the hood"... who knew?
Put this one in the BOTTOM of your QUEUE


You'd be hard pressed to have more fun with a movie. It, I'm sure, plays better to those who've actually been married. If the final act would've been better, this would have been incredible. It's still very good! Pitt and Jolie have great chemistry, and director Liman is one of my faves.
Put the Smith's at the TOP of your QUEUE!


Liked this better than I thought. It does get annoying to see every other cg character based on and voiced by Tom Hanks, but the cg train ride is a spectacular experience at times, and the North Pole is a mild treat.
Put EXPRESS in the MIDDLE of your QUEUE


This is a thro-away slasher flick, based on boarders at an abandoned lodge/slope, but it's a lot of fun. Basically, a skier is out to whack boarders for breakin the rules of the slope... yes it's whacky (get it?)!!
Put SHREDDER at the TOP of your QUEUE (If you like campy-fun slasher flicks like Scream or Club Dread)


Another one I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed! I'd heard nothing but bad things about this, and sure it's a comic book movie, not based on a comic book, but that doesn't stop if from having campy fun with the superhero genre, and there's a great cast.
Put SKY HIGH at the TOP of your QUEUE

With Rockstar turning this 1978 cult classic into a video game, and my vague memories from it's original release promotions, with all the crazy gang get ups, it was high time to check this one out. Really glad I did, it was an original premise, that pits a gang of nine against a city, and takes you along for the ride!

Put THE WARRIORS at the TOP of your QUEUE

Friday, December 02, 2005

MEANWHILE AT THE MOVIES... Fluxed up! (AEON FLUX reviewed)

Aeon Flux was out today.
Went to see it, more on that in a bit...
It's no secret that the original Aeon Flux animated shorts, the subsequent series, and the creative vision of Peter Chung are one of the single biggest influences or inspirations for me creatively.
Not only was everything about the animation infused with originality, but the themes, balls out action, and imaginative turns the cartoon took knew no bounds. Aeon Flux was everything that graphic storytelling could be. Plus it was truly groundbreaking.

Now, tune in 10 or so years later and Flux is turned into a major Hollywood film. Live action. If ever there was a property that could have cashed in on mainstream awareness via a mature feature animation, Flux had to be a frontrunner. So that's too bad. Not to mention, everything that made the property great was the freedom the animation thrived on. But hey, I love the property, so I'll take just about any iteration of it and be happy. It's languished too long. Sure Chung has done some short and serial animation since, notably a spot on The Animatrix, the imaginative Alexander series, and a lackluster Riddick tie-in, but he hasn't touched his hallmark creation. Turns out his involvement with the film was pretty negligible, so that's two strikes against it. But Theron in the title role meant at least the acting would be solid.

So, back to the film, was it any good?
Or the better question, was it Aeon Flux?
Well, no, and no.
The concepts, and spirit, and glimpses of character that were Aeon Flux, in the film, were good, but ultimately I'd say Aeon Flux the movie is BASED on Aeon Flux the cartoon, at best.
They've really done so much wrangling and disposing of the animation's elements that the film is a very different property. And how could it not be? Aeon Flux was never meant to be a live action movie, and it shows.
See it, if you want to be entertained, mildly. See it if you like the core theme of a bad ass chick in black, trying to flip from set piece to set piece, but mostly just crouch here and there, with big elliptical shapes in the background. But don't see it if you have any hope of it capturing the magic that was Aeon Flux, the animation, the Peter Chung creation.
At least we have the deluxe DVD release of the series now that there was a movie finally released!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

IN CASE U MISSED IT: Supermarket-ing

Over on Newsarama today they've got a preview and interview for the upcoming IDW title SUPERMARKET, with series artist Kristian Donaldson.

SUPERMARKET is the latest in a string of new series by writer BRIAN WOOD (2004's DEMO) which includes; LOCAL, and DMZ. Wood's a great writer, carving an ever-growing indy niche for himself, and the artwork on SUPERMARKET really looks incredible.
So, check out the feature for that HERE
If you haven't already...