Novelist, comic book writer, and also comic book reviewer for www.BrokenFrontier.com, also website marketing coach for the Online Marketing Solutions company Push Traffic dot com. Incidentally, I am also the worst writer in the world.
BATMAN #681 - RIP Finale! - 1 Bullet! What a disaster. This is actually a "slugfest" review, with three other reviewers weighing in. And talk about a balance - I gave it 1 Bullet, another guy gave it 2, another 3, and the last guy 4. That's about as well stretched a line of opinions as it comes! The others had a lot more to say about the details, the continuity nuances. Me? I got a little obsessive about other thing. READ IT!
SCAD Anthology Graphic Novels 2007 ("Discovered") and 2008 ("Pantomime") - 4.5 Bullets! Two truly incredible anthologies, both collecting the graduate and undergrad work of artists schooled at The Savannah College of Art and Design. Absolutely gorgeous visuals, adventuresome narratives. This is ground-breaking and cutting edge stuff, mixed with the classic and familiar. These kids are the future of comics!READ IT!
Just discovered this new venue for independant and/or small press publishers:
Literate Machine is a place to upload your e-book or e-comic, usually PDF format is best, and then YOU choose the price and get to keep the vast majority of any sale (you can even give the book away for FREE, should that seem the proper strategy - and unknown newbies, I'm talkin' ta you, that IS the appropriate strategy for you!). Plus you can use their forums as a great marketing and scoial networking tool!
This is a truly nifty place. Just bought myself a copy of the DEFENDING TAYVR GN in electronic format to try it out. It's a high quality e-comic and well worth the six bucks it cost to support the creators and but the entire 150+ page graphic novel.
Check it out:
LM looks to be a terrific new resource for new creators to get their names and work out there and into readers' hands, not to mention to find readers in the first place! --Dave B.
THE X-FILES Volume 2 #1 (of 7) - 3 Bullets! Picking up somewheres around the 5th Season of the show, but remaining relatively stand-alone regardless, long-time fans will get a little somehting extra added to the tv "mythology" and new readers will get a solid mystery thriller. Written by regular show scripter Frank Spotnitz. Atmospheric art, great Duchovony and Anderson likenesses, tight pacing, could use som e polish but a good book. Nothing great, just good.READ IT!
HACK/SLASH #15-17 - A perfect 5 Bullets! Guest-starring Herbert West, the RE-ANIMATOR himself!!! A flawless crossover. West is absorbed thoroughly into this indelibly important story that changes everything for the series' heroes. Distributed independantly outside of Diamond due to an odorific legal dispute over the "Re-Animator" license, Devil's Due supported this gem of a story and pushed it out the gates anyway, on its own steam. Awesome, awesome, awesome. Faith in humanity...restored! READ IT!
Okay, first off, sorry for the few days away. I'm busy on a side project that hopefully should get cleaned up and absored into my daily routines in another week or so, but for now, sporadic installments it's going to be.
On a really sweet, look-what-a-good-boy-I-am note, I'm finally back on track with reading my massive, completist DONNA BARR collection, and in my never-ending quest to get people to READ this woman's work, I'm back to blogging about it. I plan, in the near future, to do a whole lot more for her, but for now...let's blog!
Donna Barr...Donna Barr...she's a genius creator, or chaneler of fictitious character's voices (as she'd likely claim - "I have no control over these people!" is practically her mantra, when it comes to her writing). Her art is equally as drop-dead drool-worthy gorgeous with its mesh of incredible detail and automatic-sketch-like freneticness. She's my god(des) of comicdom, I shit you not. So let's look at the latest:
THE DESERT PEACH #22: LADY LUCK
Ah, yes. The rape issue. Sort of. I'd heard a fair controversy of this one, because god forbid the topic of human sexuality and the horrors it causes doesn't become controversial. Conversation worthy is always nice, and worthwhile. Controversy? Sometimes I feel controversy is the only "buzz word" that actually exists. All other so-called buzz words are merely arbitrary triggers sleected for the sole puprose of spinning ourselves into a frenzy of controversy. We love it. We adore it. Without controversy, we live in not-so-interesting times, and that would be pitiful, so controversy we shall find. Sex, rape, genitals, penis, vagina, and tits, will forever help us find it and find it pretty damn effortlessly, seeing as how we all have them or at least are surrounded by them on any given day.
But I'm digressing - the rape issue. A lone woman finds herself attached to Pfirsich's (the Desert Peach's - who's the gay younger brother of the infamous Desert Fox) regiment in Afrika, and so all the men immediately begin to rile themsleves into infantile impishness - they shift between compliments and casual slurs with the speed of the clinically bi-polar, calling the girl foxy and cow and all-around undecided on which animal she should be to them.
The girl, in turn, knowing the army and how men in the army (away from women on the whole) generally are, remains aloof and distant and entirely untrusting. Pfirisch, being a take-carge kind of guy and blissfully naive, tries to smoothen things out by treating the lady like "a lady, which does little but prove to the poor girl that she's been targeted as an object for unwanted male affection - and from an officer no less!
The men quickly decide the uppity beeyotch needs to be taken down a peg, and so devise a little rendevous between another officer and the woman, which goes...shitty...kind of literally...though nothing as disgusting as you're all likely thinking at this point. Still, the question of improper advances, attempted rape, and the danger of following one's emotions be they self-rigteous or self-involved, be they hidden as love or self-preservation. This one walks a fine line, but, as with most Barr stories, the line is more schwoogled and trotted and performed Chinese acrobatics upon, rather than simply walked.
Perhaps one of the most interesting and long-term relevant moments of this issue, even though it occurs kind of as a side note, if Pfirsich's confrontation with his brother, Erwin (The Desert Fox), about the Peach's homosexuality. Erwin's known, and seemed suportive of such in past issues, but here a quick temper-flare brings out that he's forever hoped Pfirsich would "get over this phase" and stop being so childish, and that the homo-erotic stuff does actually sit uneasy with him. A fantastic little dig, especially as the readers were likely (I was) as convinced that Erwin was on Pfirsich's side as Pfirsich was! So this sudden outcry is as effective and affecting to us and to the characters - yet another Barr par for the course. This is drama, mixed with innocent charm, mixed with explicit adult content, done somehow poignant and thought-provoking and touching on a scale I rarely encounter in comics.
And her art is beginning to move into something astonishing here: she'd gone from tight detail in the early issues, to a much looser flair in more recent books, to finally here a tempestous balance between the two. It looks amazing. Here's a full page just to ogle and read (click for larger veiwing):
Really, really, really, really, REALLY inspiring video of Howard Tayler - the creator of the daily webstrip SCHLOCK MERCENARY, a comic that's allowed Tayler to quit his day job and work for himself full time - as he speaks on how to turn a webcomic into a profitable small business for yourself. He got ME excited, that's for damn sure. Check it out below:
If for any reason the player below is buggy and doesn't work (it works for me, but I'm always paranoid about these things working cross-PC-Mac-etc.), go check it out at the source, pun intended: http://www.opensourcetv.tv/video/7.html
Many thanks to the glorious DONNA BARR for turning me on to this one! Thanks, Donna!
After a brief albeit solid hiatus, as I focused on other creative endeavors and, oh, life, I'm back with BROKEN FRONTIER full-force and ready to pump of a whole slew of review/interview hybrids starting with...
MR. SCOOTLES VOLUME 1: MR. SCOOTLES VS. THE INFERNO
Originally distributed online via WOWIO, now published by ALTERNA COMICS and distributed via Diamond to comic shops everywhere come November 26th!
Read the full two-part review/full interview with creator Howie C. Noel by clicking below:
Yup, those cool little badge thingies up in the right corner-ish area of the GH Blog (one of the images based on the image above of THIS WWitWorld Blog), those are Flickr-made badges of the three characters we have sketches/art for: Gillian, Nuts, and Mr. Right! Refresh the page and the badge should switch from one to the other, until you see all three. Lots more will be added as the art for new characters comes in.
Here's the three badges up close for easier reading:
Our heroine, the lovable Gillian, also known as "Gillian X" (her super-heroine persona). Potentially she wields the power of Superman, but only when she's in the throes of the truest of true love! Her level of love = level of strength.
NUTS, THE WONDER SQUIRREL! Gillian's furry ears and twitchy nose in NYC, keeping tabs on and reporting back all the wrongdoings in the city! Only Gillian can talk to him.
It's MR. RIGHT! Founding but now ex-member of the Axis of Justice, after they became a government think tank and he broke off to become a Libertarian Anti-Hero the likes of which few comics have ever seen. He's always right. That's why he's a villain.
Gillian X image by Cal Slayton (of the somewhat dated but still uber-cool SHADES OF BLUE comic). NUTS and MR. RIGHT art by the insanely talented RICK WORLEY, whose first comic:
Okay, so I'm sticking around here, cuz I still like Blogger, and my WORST WRITER IN THE WORLD blog, but I'm primarily going to be posting content over at THE GILLIAN'S HEART BLOG. Then, when I have the time, like now, re-posting posts there over here. But Wordpress is turning out to be pretty cool. But so is Blogger. Sigh...
Oh, and THIS IS MY 100TH POST!!! WHOO-HOO!!!! Guess I couldn't really just ditch after 99 posts and no 100th. Yeah, this feels good. So what if it's more work? I can deal. (*gulp*)
Anywho, without further ado:
The latest reviews with are up!
WARNING: Some of these are quite catty. If you're opposed to negativity and snark, steer clear, or you can just get catty and snarky back with me and leave a comment ;)
All "Bullet" ratings are on a 1-5 scale, 5 being the highest/best.
I HATE GALLANT GIRL #1 (0f 3) - 2 Bullets! The runner-up for the "Create a Super-Heroine" contest held by Shadowline earlier this year, gets published as a 3-issue mini before the actual winner...by Shadowline! (yeah, not the smartest damn move they ever did make). Gallant Girl is chosen in a Miss America-like pageant every year, but what happens when the truly talented, powerful girl is passed up for a talentless slut with better looks? Sadly, the series doesn't mirror its own premise, and this runner-up doesn't show half the promise its title character does. READ THE FULL REVIEW!
NIGHTWING #150 - 3 Bullets! Definitely one of the best issues of Nightwing sincep pre-Infinite Crisis/One Year Later/Countdown/Final Crisis, etc., you get the idear. Two Face and Dick square off in a rematch that's been building since Dick's first days as Robin! Double-sized issue, dirigibles, lots of fighting, obnoxious soliloquy, and absolutely nothing to do with RIP not matter what the cover says. Not a groundbreaker, but a solid anniversary issue. READ THE FULL REVIEW!
WALTER BECKER'S LAST REIGN: KINGS OF WAR #1 (of 5) - A dismal 1 Bullet! The director of VAN WILDER and WILD HOGS teams up with the scripter of FALL OF CTHULU and newbie artist Ed Estevez for a brand new sci-fi fantasy extravaganza...that fails on nearly every level imaginable. BOOM! is a great company, but wow. Wow. I'm speechless. Ha, no, you wish. READ THE FULL REVIEW!
CTHULU TALES #8 - 3.5 Bullets! Two stories, "The Elite" and "Theater of the Empty Eye", that latter being the first pro publication of Comics Bulletin editor MATTHEW MCLEAN. A good issue, "The Elite" being cliche but well done, and Mclean's story blowing it all out of the water, albeit with an editorially mandated final moment which is only so-so. I hope Matt can explore the concept beyond this short, though. It rules. READ ALL ABOUT IT!
So here's the skinny on something I just learned, for those of you trying to move to WordPress, or thinking of it.
There's WordPress.COM...and then WordPress.ORG
The .com version is a free blog, like blogger, and still has awesome SEO, but it's not terribly customizable. You have very limited options and overall it plumb isn't worth it. That was my attempted http://www.gilliansheart.wordpress.com blog. That's gone now. Already, yes. It had a life shorter than a lovebug. Sad, but moving on.
WordPress.ORG is the place to go. Download the latest version of WP.org at the site, onto your computer, then go buy some webhosting. Most of you will already have a hosting account, and if you don't go get an account with
DREAMHOST, because they rule, and as a gift from me here's a promo code for a whopping $97.00 any plan purchased - 97OFFANY
That's right, plug that promo code in and you'll get nearly a hundred bucks shaved off the top. A year plan costs $120.00, but with this code it'll only cost you $23.00. How's that for service? Basically, I'm now with DreamHost, and they're a wonder. They rule. Furthermore, now that I'm with them, I'm an "Affiliate", and I COULD be linking you to their site and earning $97.00 per person that signs up with them via me. Instead, I've opted to create a promo code that offers my entire possible profit to you, as a discount, so I earn nada, and you get the hosting you need to have an unbelievably powerful WordPress.org blog. You're welcome.
Once with Dreamhost, and so also with a webist URL name (www.Whatever.com), log in to your account, head down to "Goodies", then "One Click Installs". Make sure you choose to install "Advanced" and not "Easy", and choose WordPress under Advanced. Now choose the name of your blog. If it isn't the default www.Whatever.com, you can have it placed in www.whatever.com/blog Then Dreamhost auto installs WordPress.org FOR you!
Now you have a blog. Go to your blog + "/wp-admin" (so www.Whatever.com/blog/wp-admin) and log in with user/pass. Now you're inside your fully customizable blog. You can import all your Blogger posts, so you lose nothing, and WordPress.org is going to have people find you like never before.Next up will be learning about "Plugins" and how they work. Plenty of tutorials online for those, so you should be fine. Love you all, and hope to see you over at DreamHost and on your own WP.org blogs soon! Expecially you creators! You NEED this! Blogger will never put you out there the way Wordpress will!
Cheers. --Dave B.
P.S. - Yes, "Gillian's Heart" is the upcoming webcomic of mine. The blog will now serve as the blog to it, when the time comes...
P.S.S. - If you opt for the monthly Dreamhost plan (why the hell would you, paying every month, but just in case you're retarded and do so), you'll get $51 off the $60 price. Then pay monthly, which will add up. Don't do it. But if you must...that's FYI.
Every post here has just been imported over to: http://gilliansheart.wordpress.com
So that's where to find me from this point on. I'm still designing the site, so it's just a stock plain facade right now, no frills, no nothin', but it was time to make the switch.
Why? What's so bad about Blogger? Word to the wise for all you artists/writers/creators trying to pimp yourself online, like me - Blogger has ZERO search engine optimization. Wordpress has insanely awesome SEO. You want to be found? You want what you post to show up in a Google search? Get the heck out of Blogger and get'cher ass over to Wordpress! It's a whole new learning curve to wade through a whole new set of operations and how-to-post-what and, most notably, Wordpress unlike Blogger doesn't come with any real instruction or easy to use add-ons: you have to download things called "Plugins" and then upload them using FTP software. Plugins are for the simplest things, too, like adding images, or tables, or having a feed. So it'll be hair-pulling, but 100% worth it. People put up a Wordpress blog yesterday and are on page fucking 1 of any search. Blogger? I'm still trying to get "Donna Barr", "Rick Worley" and my own name to show up before page 3.
So I'm off! The new blog should look purddy in about a week or two, and I'll be sure to add all your blogs which I have been following to my WP new blog. Plus...my webcomic is a'comin'...(building the site for it now...) PLUS I've got one final thing brewing, which I hope will blow the socks of the comics INDUSTRY at large. I think it's a rockin' idea anyway.
SKY PIRATES OF VALENDOR #4 (0f 5) - 4 Bullets! Above-average small press black-and-white. Definitely one of the best high fantasy comics out there. Not that that's a high bar or nothin', but still...really worth picking up for cheap at WOWIO. READ IT!
Calling all authors! Got an unpublished novel (I know I frickin' do!)? Or two? Or three? Would you like to have dozens of folks read it and offer feedback, rate it, champion it, and get it into the hands of an editor at Harper Collins?
Boy howdy I bet you would and here's how ta do it:
It's called AUTHONOMY. Whip up a cover/avatar (just a small image will do - it only operates as your books mini image on the site) and then upload your book along with a one-page pitch.
Now here's the nitty-gritty: the pitch is real important, just like a query letter would be if you were searching for an agent, in a way more important than your book itself. Readers, also known as "Talent Scouts", get to read your pitch and decide whether your book is worth checking out. The pitch sells them or it doesn't. With hundreds of books up on the site, they can't read everything, so they're selective. Who are these readers? Anyone and everyone. You can be a reader and network with other readers on the Authonomy forums, share your fave books and least liked books.
Each reader gets to have 5 - count 'em, 5 - "Favorites" out of all the books up on the Authonomy site at any given time. They can change their five at any time, but can never have more than five. A book's ranking is based on how many readers have selected it as one of their top five.
At the end of each and every month, the top five out of all the "top 5's", get passed on to a Harper Collins editor to be read. And that's that. No guarantee of getting published, but you WILL be read by an editor at a top publisher, and they'll give feedback even if they don't decide to publish you.
Just be ready to spend time on the Authonomy forums and doing online social stuff. There's been a lot of critique already that the site runs overly-much on circle-jerk-esque commaradarie, with the Top 5 at the end of the month always reflecting those who were the most shameless in plugging their book and schmoozing with the readers. Not that this isn't an EXACT replica of real life in the major leagues of publishing, but still...don't expect anything magically different. FYI.
Holy hell, okay, TONS to talk about, so here we go:
First off, The Inimitable Tom Brown (as I now think of him, in uppercase letters, just like that) has produced two exquisite new pieces he's shared with me:
1) First up, the Halloween e-card, in full beauteous color, check it out:
That Myspace URL on the bottom is his website for the nonce, so visit it and tell him how much you dig his art! Wait...that perfectly-shaded vellum-orange and eerie mummified figure doesn't convince? Dude, just look at THIS:
And speaking of artwork that's amazing, I got to go meet artist RICK WORLEY at APE Con recently, a guy whose been kind enough to sign on to collaborate with me and my co-writing gal-pal-for-life. This boy is the next R. Crumb, I shit not one person out there. He's inordinately talented, and he had his first small press book on sale at APE to prove it:
Go to INDYPLANET to purchase a copy now, and see some incredible samples of the pages within! It's hysterical, heartwarming, depressing, and poignant, and Rick makes it seem effortless to achieve such results. It's only $4 for 32 pages of funny/touching-in-a-sexual-way rabbit-cursing goodness.
Here's a few bonus sketches he doodled at the con (this is pre-election day, mind):
Oh, yes! I am now writing for three, coun 'em, THREE online comic book news sites.
1) I'm still on with Broken Frontier, which is itself back with a vengeance after suffering a series of technical setbacks with its site - suddenly corrupted code, a redesigns that has been started and stalled THREE TIMES to date. CEO Frederik Hautain was actually the very first of the comic news site publishers to conceptualize a Web 2.0 overhaul of the usual comic book news site, but after a series of deals which fell through, corporate alliances that backed out at the last minute, etc., we're now the ones lagging behind in the race. Still, Fred's a visionary, and BF is one of the best sites to find articles on the most obscure never-before-covered shit. Others catch up and cover things maybe a month or two after, but I swear, a lot of new small press companies or self-publishers find us much more receptive than the average comic news site, and far less buried behind the Marvel/DC/Image maelstrom.
2) I'm now also to begin writing a monthly column for the incredible SEPTAGON STUDIOS (just put my name in the above pic, that'll be me reeeeal soon!). This is that site I blogged about just a few weeks ago, when they were nominated for best comics blog on the web by Blognet.com Well, now I get to cover online/downloadable e-comics, being one of the very first to explore...not webcomics...but PDF/CBR books such as those found on Wowio, ClickWheel, Lulu, and the like. This is the section of the comics world that has simply received nearly zippo mainstream coverage. I aim to change that. There is no more viable option to self-publish than to do so electronically. If we can all finally get over our prejudices of having grown up in a print-centric universe, we can free the entire industry from the shackles of big money. Seriously, folks. E-comics, even more so than webcomics, are the stepping stone we've been looking for. So a regular monthly column at this amazing new site, focusing on e-comics, the best and brightest of that world.
3) Finally, I've also been offered to write reviews for the site COMICS BULLETIN. A rather talented and ridiculously sweethearted-fellow name of Matt Mclean, who I met via a gig at Spacedog Entertainment and then in person at the last Emerald City Con in Seattle, offered me the job, and I said yes, because Matt rules, and Comics Bulletin allows me to stretch my wings and cover print books at EITHER Broken Frontier or Comics Bulletin, depending on whichever might serve the book best. I really feel this will give me a stronger voice for the works I want to support, placing reviews on the proper site with the proper audience the book will likely be looking for, or say, whichever site they HAVEN'T been able to make any headway with previously.
Oh, and BTW: Matt Mclean recently made it to the top 50 finalists for 2008 Comic Book Challenge hosted by Platinum, and now he's got gigs with BOOM! Studios, 407 Studios, and more. He's an up-and-coming force to be reckoned with, and you can check out his ludicrous level of creative output by going to his BLOG. Really good stuff.
Okay, and THAT is all for today. Whew! There's even more, but I have got to get on with my life for tonight. Catch y'all real soon! --Dave B.
I'm back! Huzzah! $1300 lighter in the wallet and I'm back! Probably fifty pounds heavier on the bookshelf (that's the sweet part), and somehow, even drinking and eating greasy Chinese and deep fried shit from a nonetheless cool-ass hole-in-the-wall diner, I think I'm one or two pounds lither in the waist. Travel can take it out of a fella...
So I went to Ape Con. I didn't take pictures, because I don't have a camera and my phone plan charges me for every damn photo I take so...no pictures. But here's the skinny:
The floor was PACKED with exhibitors and books. So many that I don't think anyone was actually doing all that well sales-wise. Not only were people buying less due to the harsh economic realities of the day, but the number of actual artists and writers and BOOKS there was ridiculous. I'm super happy to see so many bright-eyed talents, but jesus, there's too many of us. No one was getting much notice. Except Chris Ware. Whole island-sized sections were blocked off from even being seen due to the snaking, wriggling, writhing, living line of hardcore fans that stemmed from Chris Ware's booth.
Everyone I chatted with were happy to be there, having a ball in at least a social sense, but everyone was somewhat moribund by the complete lack of selling anything. Which is half the point of a con: people get to see your stuff, on a shelf or platform, as though you were in a real store. And yet no-to-few sales. Le sigh....
Beyond that element, however, the after-events were phenomenal.
I got to go to the SAN FRANCISCO CARTOON ART MUSEUM where free drinks and food were offered, and then a whole slew of creators got to show slideshow presentations of their books while they READ THEM ALOUD. Yes, a comic book/graphic novel READING. That sounds pretty godawful, actually, but actually it was breathtaking. The creators dove right in and had an intense amount of fun reading their pages out loud, and tried valiantly to craft impromptu sound effects and commentary and all-around the audience was either rolling in the aisles or completely captivated by the show. If you ever find your self in SF, go here. And donate liberally to keep this wonderful little gem of a museum alive! (They deserve it for having entertained me so!)
Then we pranced over to the infamous comic shop Isotope Comics owned by the infamously friendly and wacky-looking James Sime, where more free booze was (at this point) dribbled onto the floor more than into mouths, and i got to argue with everyone over what a hack Grant Morrison is.
Second day of the Con we said our goodbyes, and bought a few final choice books (some Dark Horse book, the total surprise of the show, called "THE NIGHT OF YOUR LIFE", the first collection of strips from a "collective dream diary" [which is much more entertaining than it sounds], wherein artist Jesse Reklaw asked folks to write to him and tell him their dreams, which he then narrated and put to paper, after being performed out loud at the Cartoon Art Museum showcase and blowing the minds of both my gf, Gillian, and myself, was greedily snatched up and taken home and so far Gillian's successfully convinced half a dozen people to buy the thing - she's a fan, and the book is incredibly funny in that poignant utterly touching way that only dream logic can garner. Go check out the online free version at www.slowwave.com). Then we flew home. Now I'm back.
Look for Lowdowns on all the swag I brought home. I plan to spotlight everything I can find the time to do so as I read them. Lots to talk about and lots of books you'll likely never hear about anywhere else. BE HERE!!! (or...go read Batman. Stupid Morrison.)