It’s a big weekend for anyone seeking the cutting edge in comic art: This Saturday is the Short Run Comix & Art Festival, at the Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavilion from 11 am to 6 pm. Head on down for 180 small press comics, 'zine, and book artist exhibitors from 20 states and six countries. Organizers ask that you arrive at 11 am, 1 pm, 3 pm, or 5 pm so that they can control crowding.
Also this week: Kittens & Dragons, a very creative choose-your-own-adventure role-play book that will make an excellent gift for all the young nerds in your life. There’s a new Deadpool book that is exactly as gory and blood-spattered as you might expect, and a new take on Secret Invasion that invites the reader to question everything. Also worth a look is The Ones, a new series in which all of the chosen ones from various stories team up; Tiger Division from Marvel, featuring a group of Korean heroes; and an unlikely team-up of Batman and Joker.
Thanks as always to Phoenix for pouring through all the new releases!
Specs Issue #1
They Live meets The Monkey’s Paw in this smartly chilling tale of two teen boys who discover a pair of novelty glasses that grants wishes. Can you believe that Faustian wish fulfillment can sometimes backfire? That things go south once the wishes start is no surprise, but the book throws some interesting curveballs: The setting is the 1980s, imbuing the book with the weary hindsight of a flashback; one of the boys is closeted and in love with his best friend; there’s a missing brother who looms larger and larger over the story the longer his absence goes avoided and unexplained. There’s also an ugly racist undercurrent that threatens to explode, and the fact that it does not fully emerge in this issue means that it’s getting bottled up for an even more violent reveal later on. A handful of clear, concise mystery hooks keeps the reader engaged, and it’s a pleasure to bask in the well-chosen color palettes. It’s a gripping tale to rival the smarter episodes of The Twilight Zone.
Creators: David M. Booher, Chris Shehan. Writer: David M. Booher. Illustrator: Chris Shehan. Colors: Roman Stevens. Lettering: Jim Campbell. Covers: Skylar Partridge, Justine Florentino, David Talaski, Kevin Wada, Ingrid Gala, Scott McFarland, Ken Berube, Eryk Donovan. Logo design: Dylan Todd. Designer: Nancy Mojica. Assistant editor: Maya Bollinger. Editor: Elizabeth Brei.
Publisher: Boom! Studios.
Gospel Issue #1
In a quaint little medieval town, a heroine defeats a giant pig. But actually, she doesn’t; that’s simply a parable shared by a drunk man at a tavern. But actually, he isn’t; the man is a rambling shut-in, and we’re in modern times. But actually, we aren’t; the modern times are a fantasy tale suggested by the heroine and her friend in a village beset by demons. But actually … nothing seems to be actual in this book, which leaps from the midpoint of one story to another, warping reality and characters and bathing the reader in small talk. The final pages of the book seem to settle onto a steady high-concept plot, but I’m not sure how long I trust it to last. The effect is like if discursive directors like Robert Altman and Jim Jarmusch decided to make an art film together, with David Lynch lurking like a goblin in the editing booth. How much of the story is real, and how much is a tale full of sound and fury? The answer to that is in the eye of whoever is willing to behold it, if such a person actually exists.
Story and Art: Will Morris. Cover art: Ver. Editor: Sebastian Girner. Color assist: Holley McKend. Readers: Colette Aburime, Aimee Lockwood.
Publisher: Image Comics.
Once there was a creepy lady who ate the ears of children who look at screens. And that is pretty much the entirety of the book Creepy, which is described in press materials as “a laugh-out-loud funny parable for the digital age,” in the form of a “picture book for grown-ups.” But is it for grown-ups? It’s the size, shape, dimensions, and length of a book you might find on a library shelf within reach of the under-10 set, and it’s illustrated with bright simple colors and lines that, at first glance, look appropriate for children. The language is similarly all-ages accessible, and although the subject matter is slightly grim (eating ears!) it’s never gory or grotesque, and certainly doesn’t step outside of a G-rating. The tone sits somewhere between Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and There’s a Monster at the End of this Book, but without the payoff of a solid punchline. If there’s an adult who would laugh out loud at this book, I can’t picture them. So who is it for? That's the question it left me with.
By Lee Sensenbrenner and Keiler Roberts.
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly.