Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Why are you here...?!!

...when you should be reading this book! The only reason I'm not reading it now is because I'm getting crushed at work. What's your excuse? Okay, I know some of you probably have a good reason. But, seriously. Turn off your computer and go read this book.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What...him again?

You'd never know Nova was my favorite character, would you?

The anticipated crush at work has finally landed and, thanks to that and several other unexpected factors, I'm running on very little sleep so I'll keep this short. (Cheers erupt!)

A while back, a very nice man named Jason Leivian at Floating World comics started SpaceNite to benefit Bill Mantlo. I was aware of SpaceNite because I'm a fan of Mr. Mantlo's work (particularly MICRONAUTS, ROM and INCREDIBLE HULK) and was shocked and saddened by the cards he's been dealt. I don't often regret not having a career in comics but when some really incredible artists started contributing mouth-watering pieces to be auctioned off to raise money, I have to admit I got a little envious. I wanted to participate in some way. I just didn't think anyone would be interested.

Enter Todd Dezago. Todd sweetly took it upon himself to mention to Jason that I was a fan of Mr. Mantlo and (let's be honest) a little obsessed with the ROM character. He told him about my being Mike's brother and that I liked to draw and would be honored to offer a piece for the project. I admit to being a little embarrassed because, frankly, who the hell am I? There are incredible guys like Chris Samnee doing mind-blowing pieces for the auction. I nervously anticipated Jason politely turning down my amateurish scratchings.

To my surprise, Jason was gracious and happy at the prospect. I'm still nervous because I'm way out of my league. (Click on the link at right to check out the awesome contributions they're getting.) But I'm so honored and thrilled to be included. I don't have any illusions that anyone will be clamoring for my contribution but if it means even twenty dollars will go to the care of Mr. Mantlo, a man who helped bring quite a lot of joy to my childhood, then it will be worth the time I spent on it. Hopefully, I'm not jumping the gun by posting it here.

I hope you like it.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Happy Fou...uh...Fifth

I hope everyone's having a good holiday weekend. I know I am. Despite all the craziness going on in the world and the huge workload looming next month. I'm having a blast lately and it has me a little worried because the last time Suzanne and I felt this happy and optimistic, life dropped a piano on our heads.

Before that happens again (knock on formica), I wanted to give a virtual shout-out to some of the cool stuff I'm digging on lately.


Doesn't it seem like the good stuff always comes out when you have no time to read and can least afford it? That's definitely the case with books. Now that Heroes has drained the coffers, it seems like all my favorite authors have decided to put out novels. Last week saw the release of David Wellington's latest vampire novel, 23 HOURS and I'm really, really looking forward to reading it. Wellington posts all his novels online for free before he publishes them but I'd rather pay the bucks for an actual book I can keep on the nightstand. I picked it up at a local horror-themed bookstore. Gotta support the small guys.

While I was there, I was hoping to pick up the book that has me most excited, Joe Lansdale's latest Hap and Leonard novel, VANILLA RIDE. Christian and I (and my dad, even) share an undying love for the Hap and Leonard books. They're impossible to explain without sounding crazy but they are some of the most enjoyable page-turners I've ever read. The store didn't have a copy and neither did Barnes & Noble so Amazon, here I come.

Also, Steve Alten has released yet another MEG (short for Megalodon) novel, HELL'S AQUARIUM. Alten's books are not fine literature, by any means, but they're always highly entertaining, particularly his MEG novels. How you can write a series of novels about a 60-foot albino shark that isn't just plain ridiculous is beyond me but Alten pulls it off. Can't wait to pick this up.

Lastly, Guillermo Del Toro (along with partner Chuck Hogan) has written his first novel, a story about vampires taking over the planet called THE STRAIN. I love the idea of this book and I love everything Del Toro has done so this one is a done deal for me. I have vacation coming up in a couple months and I usually read three or four books during that week. Looks like a good one this year.


Christian loaned me his entire CROSSED collection a week or so ago when I expressed a curiosity about it and I stayed up until 3:00 in the morning reading them. Couldn't put them down. I've had some harsh words to say about Garth Ennis before but that was when he poked his nose into mainstream superhero comics and then went on and on about how stupid they are. With CROSSED, Ennis does what he does best. He writes great, outrageous, over-the-top horror. The series is two-thirds over and I have no idea how it's going to end and wish it wouldn't. If this is the kind of work Ennis is capable of (along with the wonderfully sick PREACHER) and he stays away from kids' comics then count me as a fan.

CROSSED, along with Mark Waid's IRREDEEMABLE and UNKNOWN have been so enjoyable that I decided to try some new books without waiting. Too often, I wait to see what people's reactions are to a book so I don't waste money on a good book that's cancelled before it's finished. Then it's a hit and I'm left hunting up overpriced back issues. With that in mind, I took a chance on two new books you should be reading. DC's THE MIGHTY is a great standalone series written by Peter J. Tomasi and Keith Champagne with beautiful art by Peter Snejbjerg (STARMAN) and Chris Samnee. Not to go into too much detail (Click the link for an in-depth review.) but it's basically about the relationship between an up-and-coming, honest police chief and the Superman stand-in at his beck and call. It's more complicated than that but imagine if Jimmy Olsen was a cop and had full use of his signal-watch. I'm only on issue 3 right now but I'm really digging it. Another book I gave a shot is called BERSERKER and, with only one issue out, I'm not sure what to make of it but it feels like a winner. And, it's only $2.99. These days, that alone is enough to get my interest.

I've also fallen in love with THE GOON all over again. I got behind on the trades and missed a couple of them and eventually forgot where I'd even left off. I grabbed a couple of them at Heroes this year and, boy, am I glad I did. I'd forgotten how funny and entertaining this series is. And, damn, can Eric Powell draw purty pitchers. Half the time, I can't figure out what tools he's using. He seems to switch off between full inks, just pencils and ink wash/watercolors. He's masterful with all of them though.

Lastly, I haven't picked it up yet but I've very excited about the recent release of Volume 1 of the CAPTAIN CANUCK reprints. I remember Mike snatching these up at a yard sale or flea market when we were kids and we both fell in love with George Freeman's incredible artwork. I'm ordering this at the first opportunity.


Since I listen to a lot of soundtracks on my iPod when I'm at the gym, I kind of got bored with them. (Blasphemy!) Nothing new has come out that interests me since Michael Giacchino's STAR TREK score so I thought I'd give podcasts a try while I'm at work. I've been doing a lot of retouching there and that doesn't require much forward brain thinking which means it's prime time for radio shows.

Enter FANBOY RADIO, the self-anointed "voice of comics."
I'd known about them for a long time but could never get into listening to them over streaming audio. I knew Mike had done some interviews with them but it wasn't until after his death that I sought them out. After he passed away, they reposted all of them in a block to honor his memory and I downloaded them. I've listened to them a dozen times each, getting a little less blubbery each time. Eventually, I got so familiar with Scott and the gang that it dawned on me that I should be listening to their other broadcasts. The iTunes podcast system has made that much, much easier now and I've become something of a Fanboy fanboy. I really enjoy this show. The guys and gals (even Scott's long-suffering producer wife Britta) have such an endearing enthusiasm for the subject matter that it's contagious. While Scott' be grating at times, it's all in good fun and once you get used to him, it's actually not so bad. My favorite contributor, though, has to be Oliver (pictured). He has such a great voice and quick wit that, when he's not there, I really miss him. Until I found his picture, I imagined him looking like Mike's friend Jamar Nicholas. DJ's never look like you picture them. That's such a cliche, isn't it?

I haven't listened to it much but was aware of a podcast called WORD BALLOONS, run by a fellow named John Siuntres. While trying to find more audio interviews with Mike, I stumbled across his site and found one. I tried downloading it but was having trouble. I emailed John for help and he responded immediately. I ended up not needing his help to get the file but was impressed with how nice he was. So check out WORD BALLOONS. Especially his interview with Mike. I've listened to the FANBOY RADIO shows so much it was delightful (though a little saddening) to hear a more recent interview with Mike. It was done around the time he was drawing FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN.

Whew. That's it. Sorry for the rambling.