Starting off slow; Hibbs on 7/23/14

OK, spam  on the site locked down, new store pretty close to squared away, maybe I am now in place to start reveiwin' again.  I've certainly been missing it somewhat. I can't promise this will be every week (in fact, I think I feel confident in announcing that this will NOT be each and every week... unless I do one of those Patreon thingies, in which case then it would be a paid job, and thus an obligation.  But I'm not thinking about doing that until I can prove to MYSELF that I can stay on this horse for a little while. Let's just go full capsule-style under that jump.

AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE #6: Man, talk about a crazy good issue of a crazy good comic book. I wish these came out more frequently, sure, but damn if this isn't worth waiting for! EXCELLENT.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #4 SIN: The "weird" thing is that the Doc Ock stuff was really really really working, and there wasn't exactly a great creative reason to bring back Peter; and so much of the "what's next" appears to be tied up in multiple versions of Spider-Man, anyway, which less reason to bring back Peter, right? "Secret other spider-person locked in a vault for 10 years" is, I guess, a thing, but it strikes me that it is a thing that absolutely takes focus away from Peter and having's Peter's stories be about PETER (because, otherwise, why bring him back?).  I guess that's a long, tangled way of saying: EH.

BATMAN #33 (ZERO YEAR): Oh, oh, finally "Zero Year" ends.  I'm sure it will read pretty swell as a book, but as individual comics I mostly thought it was meandering and plodding.  However! I liked the end if only because it it was a generally cerebral conclusion, with a battle of wits at the core. I've got a strong GOOD in my heart for this.

BATMAN AND ROBIN #33 (ROBIN RISES): I have to say that I prefer a Batman who tries to, y'know, sneak around the JLA, to one who just quits when he doesn't get his way.  And damn if I don't think this book looks crazy fabulous, too -- but I'm having a great deal of cognitive dissonance with the DC universe insisting to me that Darkseid is actually a scary threat when I and you both know that he was always just All Talk in the previous continuity, while at the same time insisting that everything that had to do with Ras' al Ghul DID happen just like they've shown it before. So this storyline has me torn between "awesome!" and "Yeah, but no!".  A slightly less enthusiastic GOOD then?

BATMAN ETERNAL #16: With some more artistic consistency, this could be the greatest "big" Batman story ever (It's certainly more coherant than, say, "Knightfall" or "Cataclysm"), but, man, do I get whiplash of the art when reading this. I'm really liking the little game they're playing with the spectre here, and I like the "new" additions to the cast, and, yeah, I just generally think this is a golden age to be a Batman fan, I guess, so, here's a solid GOOD, too.

NEW 52 FUTURES END #12: I've lost the thread of this. I felt like I skipped an issue or something? But I didn't? Mostly I just don't care? Sales are horrific on it at both stores, too, so I guess I am not alone. AWFUL.

STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES GI ZOMBIE #1: And now for thirteen words I never thought I would type: I was genuinely impressed with STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES FEATURING GI ZOMBIE #1. Absolutely, positively not what I was expecting (felt very much like a gritty HBO pilot, not even slightly "Star Spangled"; had extremely realistic art, and low SFX, which is the opposite of what the covers promised). Color me shocked, this was VERY GOOD.  It will, however, be cancelled before a year is out, I'm sure. The cover and title is entirely wrong for the book.

SUPREME BLUE ROSE #1: If you're going to follow up on the Alan Moore notions of "The Supremacy", and so on, then this was nearly a perfect 90 degree turn away from the last version, I think.  I am intrigued by where this might go, but at the same time I am worried that Warren Ellis is only on for his usual six issues, in which case, why bother talking it up? It was clearly GOOD, though.

Hey, how about a graphic novel review?

SECONDS GN:  You know, I kind of loved Bryan Lee O'Malley's Chibi-style art here, and the narrative flow, but I absolutely hated the end of the story -- the protagonist learns not a thing, and rather things being driven by "Well, maybe I shouldn't change time/space because it hurts other people", the narrative is all driven by the protagonist's feelings and imaginary magical beings.  "A Wizard Did It" is, at the end of the day, crappy storytelling, and while one could totally forgive the shallow SCOTT PILGRIM for that (because I read that shallowness as an essential part of the story), one expects a little more from the "sophomore" work, doesn't one? I really liked the style and most of the execution of the work, but I thought as a piece of art it kind of failed the test of Humanity. Strongly OK is about as good as I can muster.

Right, so that's me this week.  What did YOU think?


Scott Pilgrim v6 release party: teh awesome!

Well, we didn't have 2000 (!) people like The Beguiling did, but I'm going to go ahead and call our SP6 Midnight Release a pretty epic success. From the moment we opened the doors back up at 10 PM, we were literally wall-to-wall people, which utterly shocked me. I was sort of thinking we might have 20-30 people show up (It's a Monday night, fer cryin' out loud!), and we somewhere between 3 and 4 times that, instead. SP6 leaped to the #1 best-selling book of 2010 so far, in 25 minutes of selling it -- crazy!!

If I had known there would be THAT many people showing, I would have done things a little differently -- like I would have "pre sold" the book, so people could have just picked up their copy at 12:01, instead of having to wait to buy it... but virtually everyone was amazingly cool about the line, so I guess we didn't suck too hard.

All of my pictures came out way blurry (Drinking and shooting doesn't seem to work), so I've shamelessly ganked this pic from Awesome UbiSoft point-person Claudia Ng's Twitter (thanks Claudia for giving up her night to demo the SP game, shipping next month -- sweet sweet game!)

I want to thank everyone who showed up to join in the fun, everyone who brought beer and drinks to share, and our partners -- the Cardboard Tube Fighting League, Alliance Media for the Scott Pilgrim movie tickets (we're hoping to have another round of them later in the week), Ubisoft for bringing the Scott Pilgrim Video Game, Jesse Spencer for the loan of his television, and my amazing staff, Matt and Carissa, for all of their help.

And thank YOU for coming, if you did, because you're teh awesome!!!


A Pilgrim's Progress: Jeff Gets It Together and Finally Reviews Scott Pilgrim Vol. 4.

A lot of things impressed me about Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together, but what really caught my attention is how different it is from the previous volume, Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness: whereas vol. 3 is jammed with action (it's only 13 pages into vol. 3 before someone gets punched with a bionic arm) and veined with character interplay, vol. 4 grounds the humor and emotional relationships in the foreground and keeps the action sequences very short until the end: it's as assured in its pacing as volume three was messily ambitious, and there's nothing unresolved here that isn't clearly laying groundwork for a later volume. By the time I made it through the final thirty-plus page climax which neatly intermingles fight scenes and emotional confrontations, I felt vol. 4 was the best volume of Scott Pilgrim since the first. That being the case, why did it take me a month to review it?

Back when I reviewed volume three, I wrote the book made me "wish O'Malley hadn't been staring down the barrel of a blown deadline so he could've taken the time to really fine-tune the material." Vol. 4 gives me that wish in quasi-Monkey's Paw-ish spades: the darn thing feels as tightly structured as a Hollywood movie, and that amazingly satisfying finale works the same way a finale works in really good action movie--with the final action sequence and the main character's emotional arc resolving simultaneously.

Unfortunately, as with many a good action movie, that satisfaction may come as a result of some potentially dishonest manipulation. "Oh, hey," Scott says at one point to an old friend he's showing around, "maybe I should have mentioned that my friends are retarded douchebags," which is sadly more-or-less true. Although Scott's friends in the past have had varying levels of patience for his general cluelessness, occasional whininess, and stretches of passivity, in SPGIT, they act less like friends than annoyed older siblings stuck taking care of a younger sibling. While it leads to any number of great lines (After Scott gets a job for doing little more than vowing to work hard, his friend Kim says, "Scott, if your life had a face, I would punch it. I would punch your life in the face.") and increases the drama of the final confrontation, it also adds a slightly unpleasant tone to the book. In the past, I've thought of Scott as a well-meaning but self-absorbed tool, and O'Malley goes to great lengths here to set me and others like me straight and show Scott for the genuinely sweet guy he is, but it comes at a bit of a cost. At one or two points during my first read-through, I found myself thinking, "Uh, am I the only one having fun here?"

I hope not, because the book is so filled with delightful tricks and jokes and charming details--eight bit captions and video game references, depleting thirst and pee meters, directional arrows, dotted paths a la Family Circus, panels of people laughing pulled straight from Charles Schulz's Peanuts, inventories of pockets and shopping carts, ellipses becoming a character's wide-eyed fear of speaking--one would like to think O'Malley had at least some fun in creating it.

[I've been casting about for a way to organically work in how much O'Malley's art has grown between volumes and I'm not having a lot of luck, but if you go to just about any page of SPGIT, you'll see how impressively rich in detail the work has become. The page that got me was the first one at Sneaky Dee's, where one panel has five main characters in a booth, five other clearly delineated bystanders, the Sneaky Dee's logo, and even clearly discernible food on some plates, a task I can't even contemplate accomplishing for a book published in digest size. And this richness in detail in no way clutters up O'Malley's clean and focused storytelling, which is doubly goddam amazing.]

But even if one does suspect O'Malley wasn't having oodles of fun working on this, this volume of Scott Pilgrim is a pretty massive win, the kind that would have Entertaiment Weekly titling their review, "Bryan O'Lee Malley Gets It Together." And if this volume's achievement comes at the cost of feeling a touch too professional--one tiny step closer to Scott Pilgrim's Well-Crafted Product--there's no way O'Malley can be faulted for that: in the course of giving us nearly 800 pages of material in a little over four years, it's only natural O'Malley's powers of craft will begin to catch up--and perhaps even exceed--his generous talents and ambitions. Whatever happens, Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together is absolutely Very Good work, and definitely worth your time if you haven't yet picked it up.

Bryan Lee O'Spidey!

At first, I really wanted to tease the hell out of this, and say stuff like "Wow, I've seen preview pages of Scott Pilgrim 4 and they go in a totally new direction" or "Hey, I just got the cover to the new Scott Pilgrim; check it out." But I felt like a tool every time I sat down to write it.

The fact is, I was having lunch with my friend John yesterday and we went to this Crown Books clearance center and John, having a three year old, was perusing the children's books section while we gabbed. He was the one who held this book up to me and made some sort of wisecrack about Spider-Man's changing status quo, and I went, "Oh my god! Bryan Lee O'Malley!"

I mean, it says Bryan O'Malley on the cover but it had to be him, right? I mean:

Obviously, it's him.

I wrote Bryan about it and he replied:

Yeah, it was one of the first things I did in comics, way back in 2001. Go ahead and run images if you want.

Christopher Butcher actually helped me colour it, which is why it's so pink. That was right before we moved in together.

Sadly, my poor photographic skills (and possible legal conflicts) prevent me from reproducing all seven pages of the book, but I will spoil the ending for you:

just because Spidey in his doctor's outfit looks a bit cooler than on the cover. Oh, and:

just because it chokes me up a little.

Sadly, there were only two copies at that Crown Books and the other one is going to one Benjamin Hibbs. But they did have copies of Spider-Man: Air Rescue Officers (with Spidey in a very cool outfit, holding a cute dog on the cover) and Spider-Man: Firefighters (outfit not that cool, but holding adorable kittens!) all written by the same author (Michi Fujimoto) but different illustrators (Charles Park and Robert DeJesus, respectively). Needless to say, they're all a pretty pleasant change of pace from Ultimates #13 and All-Star Batman & Robin.

Back From Vacation.

Yeah, after the signing, I pretty much zoned out for a week solid. (Hopefully, you noticed.) After a whirlwind 72 hours consisting of the signing, APE, catching four movies with Robson, and getting my car broken into, my brain was little more than a piece of dry, unbuttered toast. So brain-dead was I that I couldn't even find the new comics I bought from CE for five or six days. (The new Golgo and Drifting Classroom are tucked away in my bag for store reading today.) Anyway, I--oh, hey look! Comic book superstars!

This is the best picture I took of our four signers from Friday, in part because it was a hard angle to catch all of them in on one shot, and in part because I kept having to go breathe into a paper bag to keep from hyperventilating and that probably kept my camera hands shaky. All of the signers were incredibly generous and kind, and put up with my nattering and/or lousy directions which in the case of poor Gene Yang meant that he showed up 45 minutes late to his signing (and in case you're wondering Kevin Huizenga, from what I can tell, always has some variation of a "they never built a prison that could break me" look on his face).

The signers said they had a good time, we sold a ton of books that day, and I think it'd be safe to call the signing a success. And yet, I spent most of the day feeling like Artie ("Do me a favor. Just kick my ass, okay?") Fufkin in Spinal Tap because there weren't lines out the door and down the street and helicopters circling around trying to figure out why traffic on Divisadero stopped. Because that's what these four people deserve, if you ask me, and that we didn't get that makes me feel like I didn't do my job correctly and do me a favor, just kick my ass, okay? I'm not asking. I'm telling.

Anyway, I--hey, look! There they are again!

(I'm very happy that New Comix is shining above their heads; I just wish it was little bit more centered.)

Oh, and as a bonus, here's a picture of Graeme and Hibbs plotting to overthrow the world:

Anyway, those are the signing pix (I've actually got a pretty good crowd shot with Matt Silady talking to Ian Brill, and Kiel Phegley (who not only was a very nice and funny guy but also did a kick-ass job of covering APE for Wizard's website) chatting with Bill Roundy but couldn't quite figure out a way to work it into the post). My thanks to Kevin Huizenga, Hope Larson, Bryan Lee O'Malley and Gene Yang for their kindness, generosity and awesomeness. Having them at the store was a tremendous honor for me.

Don't Rhyme No Mo': Graeme doesn't review.

So, APE weekend and even though I was too nervous to talk to anyone at the signing yesterday - I'm only exaggerating slightly, sadly - a fine time was still had by all. If I had to nominate a king and queen of the whole thing, it'd be Bryan Lee O'Malley and Hope Larson, who put up with my shyness and appreciated Kate's food tips never mind their obvious talent and attractiveness (That said, Kate's food tips are generally always worth listening to). They also let me buy a page of Scott Pilgrim art that is on its way to being displayed in the bathroom, if only because I've been told by my lovely wife that every bathroom needs something wonderful to look at. Buying art is actually a running theme for me at APE - Kate and I always end up with art (normally from Nucleus, who rep artists that Kate adores; every year she buys prints from them to frame and hang in the house) instead of books, even though we both wander around and see many things that look pretty great. That said, this year it's worth heading to the convention (if you haven't already) for the guests alone; even if Bryan and Hope aren't your thing, there's also Gene Yang, Derek Kirk Kim, Kevin Huizenga (someone else I was entirely too scared to talk to on Friday. Me = Dick, in case you didn't know), Debbie Huey, and - if he's there tomorrow at the AiT booth like he was today - Matt Silady, who did The Homeless Channel that I raved about here. Go and ask him to tell you about his book. And then you should all buy lots of art, just like Kate and m'self.

Reviews tomorrow, honestly.


I keep trying to avoid that situation (which I know is nonetheless inevitable) where I'll post pictures of the event next week and someone will say, "Hey, I didn't know that was happening! Why didn't you post a reminder or something? I even looked at your blog that Friday because I was in town for APE and I didn't see anything!"

If you're in town around 5, stop by. It's going to be a tremendous gathering of talent under one roof, and a great way to kick off your APE weekend.

Congratulations, but you can congratulate them yourself if you're around tomorrow...

Hey, look, the Eisner Nominations are out. And two names in particular stand out for me: Best Graphic Album—New American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang (First Second)

Special Recognition Hope Larson, Gray Horses (Oni)

Wow, wouldn't it be great if the two of them appeared together at a signing along with Kevin Huizenga and Bryan Lee O'Malley? Like, tomorrow, between 5 and 7?

I just wanted to get that in before Jeff did.

Eight Days Away....

It's almost ready. Are you?

Sorry for being so tardy with the posting lately. I sat down this morning to write a few reviews and found myself stuck: I spent over an hour typing sentences and deleting 'em, typing and deleting in turn. Anyway, I have tentative plans to try liveblogging from the store tomorrow so hopefully that'll work out a bit better. Lord knows there's enough coming out....

Countdown to Awesome.

Less than two weeks until the signing? Holy Cow, that's just crazy.

Oh, and since I posted this on a Saturday, you can probably count on it showing up in the middle of this upcoming week (and probably next week as well, come to think of it.)

Hope any of you inclined to show up will do so. It oughta be awesome.

Save The Date & Spread The News: CE's Pre-Ape Signing for April 20, 2007!

Okay, this has been in the hopper for a while, but I didn't get that gorgeous green light until just last week. We're having a signing from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Friday, April 20, 2007 and I think it's a pretty big deal. Y'see, when this year's guests at APE were announced, I kinda lost my mind. So many great guests this year! I went to Hibbs and begged him to get some sort of signing together which he consented to as long as I organized it. So if this post doesn't make much sense, or seems quasi-unhinged, please understand: not only am I tremendously whacked out because this is the first signing I've ever organized, but--more importantly--the signing is going to be for:

him, and also for:

her, as well as for:

him, but also for:


Yeah, that's right. Kevin Huizenga, Hope Larson, Bryan Lee O'Malley, and Gene Yang are signing at Comix Experience from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Friday, April 20, 2007. That's an absurd amount of talent under one roof, and I owe big props to the artists and also Gary Sassaman and Comic-Con for going for it. This group of artists did some of the best work of 2006 and it's all I can do not to unleash torrents of hype at all of you about their utter awesomeness. If you're a Bay Area type or in town for APE, I hope you'll drop by the store from 5 to 7, get a book signed from these four amazing talents, or just stop by to "hey." APE can be an all-encompassing swirl and this may be a great way to get face time. (Plus, there more of you there are, the less the four of them will be subjected to the quivering fanboyness that is Jeff Lester, which I assure you is best for all involved.)

Anyway, I'll be back later with reviews, and when we get the flier put together this week, I'll also post it here. But I just couldn't keep it under wraps any longer, and had to share this with all y'all. As I said, I hope you can stop by.