Sunday, August 30, 2009

Stuff I Wanna Read (viii)

Here are a couple manga series that I read about in Danielle Leigh's Reading Diary and would now like to read myself:

Ooku: The Inner Chambers - Y: the Last Samurai? Kind of... a plague has wiped out most of the men of Japan. This is about what happens afterwords. [Review, Wikipedia]

Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit - Described as Death Note (which never appealed to me) for adults. [Review,]

Saturday, August 29, 2009

What I Bought - August 29, 2009

I went to the Wheaton Public Library Book Sale today looking for books and came back with one comic book and one comic book-related book:

Blue Monday v3: Inbetween Days - Its a former library book. Its got library stickers all over the outside but it was dirt cheap at just $1 and its in fairly good shape. I enjoyed the first two collections of Blue Monday and I'm ready for more.

Comics & Sequential Art by Will Eisner - I was shocked and amazed that I found this and that all they wanted for it was $1.50. Had to buy it must read it.

Wikipedia: Blue Monday - Comics & Sequential Art

What I Read - Week of August 24, 2009

Watchmen - The further I get into this story the more I think about buying the Absolute edition.

I've been limiting myself to one chapter a week. At first I didn't feel the urge to keep reading. That's not the case anymore. For the past three weeks now, after finishing chapters 5, 6, and 7, I've felt the urge to keep reading. At the same time I don't want the story to end. Eventually it will. I've got just five chapters left to read. In my mind the best way to savor what's left is to continue to read just one chapter per week.

I read chapter 7 this week and it was great, better than I thought it would be at first. I thought I knew how and where it was going, and on one level I was right but I didn't know it all. I thought this chapter was going to boil down to nerd-gets-the-girl. On one level that is what happened but the chapter is much richer than that. It was the last few pages that proved me wrong. It wasn't until I had read it all and then flipped back through the last few pages that it all sunk in and then I felt myself starting to tear up.

I blinked back the tears because I was at the laundromat waiting for my clothes to finish drying and I didn't want to attract attention. Still, I got a little choked up. The funny thing is I'm not sure exactly why, which makes the experience that much more precious. I think it may have something to do with Dan's devotion to his job and his fellow superheroes.

Maybe I shouldn't be surprised by how good this story is or how much I am enjoying it. After all, it was written by Alan Moore .

Wednesday Comics - I bought the first 4 issues last weekend. I've only read #1 and just started reading # 2. For the most part I am very impressed. The art on the first installment of Sgt. Rock was gorgeous. I was also quite pleased with the look of Deadman and Hawkman. I'm surprised by how quickly the Superman story hooked me.

Superman: The Bottle City of Kandor - The dialogue in these stories is enough to make me groan. Its amazing how much of it is used for exposition, to explain what you can already see on the page. Setting this fact aside, I love how silly these stories can be:
  • Superman has a distant cousin, Van-Zee, in Kandor who not only looks exactly like him, but also has a twin brother, Dik-Zee, who Lois Lane falls in love with while she is stuck in Kandor (Superman's Girl Friend,Lois Lane # 21)
  • Jimmy Olsen (while stuck in Kandor) has his memory wiped of Lucy Lane, similar to but decades before Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen # 53)
  • Renegade Kandorians using Green Kryptonite on Superman, like they shouldn't be affected by it (Superman # 158)
In part I think that it is the silliness of these stories that keeps my interest. It also maybe a bit of nostalgia. Most of the comics in this collection were released before I was born but I read either these or many like them (especially Jimmy Olsen comics) when I was growing up.


Wikipedia: Watchmen - Wednesday Comics - Kandor

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Nostalgia - Star Wars # 7, 8, 9

I got to thinking about the first comic books I ever owned. Well, they weren't just mine; my mother bought them for my brother and I. My first comic books were Star Wars #7, 8, 9. Mom bought them at the PX in the American Embassy in Paris, where we were living at the time. They were bagged together in a plastic bag.

We're talking Star Wars so this was probably 1978, judging by the publication dates, or possibly 1979. While I loved the original trilogy of movies I never really read much of the Star Wars comic books after these three. I've tried reading the Star Wars comics from Dark Horse a few times but it just doesn't appeal to me in the way that the movies did.

What I Bought - August 22, 2009

I made a trip to Barbarian Books today. I wanted to pick up Bleach v24 and 20th Century Boys v4. I found Bleach v24 but they didn't have v4 of 20th Century Boys. They checked for me and it looks like it won't be out until next month. Its a great series and that keeps me reading but also hearing it discussed on podcasts, namely Crankcast (week 198) and 11 O'Clock Comics (episode 58), makes me want to keep as current as possible so that I don't have it spoiled for me by one of my favorite shows.

In addition to Bleach I also picked up the first four issues of Wednesday Comics. Cover price for each one was $3.99. I got a 10% discount but they still cost me $15.36, before adding tax. I dunno what I was thinking, spending that much on individual issues. I've heard a lot of great things about this short-lived series and wanted to experience it for myself. It looks like the sort of thing that won't be the same in trade paperback format. Its like a newspaper. Each page is from a different series. The great part is that the stories feature more than just a-list characters, like Batman and Wonder Woman, but also include b-list characters such as Kamandi, Metamorpho, Sgt. Rock, and Deadman.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

What I Read - Week of August 10, 2009

Watchmen - Chapter 5 - Last week I wrote about how I should take my time and savor each chapter of Watchmen. This week I showed that I have zero discipline. I read all of chapter 5 in one fell swoop. I loved how all the different story lines were laid one atop the other the newsstand, Tales of the Black Freighter, Rorschach, Dan and Laurie, Ozymandias. It very different from chapter 4, in which Dr. Manhattan was the focus. The text piece at the end of chapter 5 about the fictional rise of pirate comic books in the 50s and 60s, which Tales of the Black Freighter was part of, was great. The whole chapter was great, possibly my favorite so far. It was like mainlining crack. I just couldn't stop reading.

I definitely wanna buy the Absolute Edition of this book but I'll probably wait a couple years before doing so.

Phantom Stranger # 21, 22 - Not great but they were fun to read. I didn't bother with the back up stories. I was most interested in the Jim Aparo art, sappy dialogue, and half-baked plot.

Superman: The Bottle City of Kandor - Started to read it last night. The first story (from Action Comics # 242) has some great moments. Loved the art work by Al Plastino, especially some of the facial expressions. Loved how silly and simple some of the science is. Both Kandor and Brainiac make their first appearance in Action Comics # 242. I bought the collection because I love those old Superman and Superman family stories from the 1950s and 60s.

I finished reading the story after having dinner at Mark's Kitchen. The waiter ribbed me for reading Superman. He even went as far as to ask the manager if I would get a Superman discount. I did my best to grin and bear it and ignore his silliness.

20th Century Boys v2 - link - This collection is vindicating my faith in Naoki Urasawa. I can see the story is going to be a slow burn and take its time to develop but I like the direction the story is going in and more importantly I like most of the characters. I like the art too. I especially enjoy looking to see the expression on Kanna's face when she does appear. Quite often I have to go back to look for it because she's in the background and I skip right over her. Kanna is Kenji's niece whom he carries around on his back.

Carl Barks' Greatest Ducktales Stories v2 - link - Another fun read. A nice change of pace but I wouldn't want to read stories of Uncle Scrooge, Donald, Huey, Dewey, and Louie all the time.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Stuff I Wanna Read (vii)

A while back I mentioned that I wanted to read Ed Brubaker's (still ongoing) run on Captain America. Well, I'm also interested in reading some previous runs of Captain America...

Silver Age Captain America - Collected in four volumes of Marvel Masterworks. I've got the Essentials v1 but I would prefer to read them in color. Classic stories that introduce classic villains and organizations such as M.O.D.O.K. and A.I.M. The last volume includes the first appearance of the Falcon. The second volume seems to be currently out of print.

Jack Kirby's return to Captain America - collected in three volumes: Madbomb, Bicentennial Battles, The Swine.

The Invaders - link - Tales of Cap and other superheroes (Sub-Mariner, Original Human Torch, Union Jack, Spitfire, etc.) fighting the Nazis. I read and collected some of this series back in the early 80s. There are currently three collections: v1, v2, v3.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

What I Read - Watchmen

Watchmen - link - Don't think I've blogged about Watchmen before. I started reading it a few weeks ago. I'm reading a chapter a week. I'm up to chapter 4. Its my first time reading it and so far I think its great. I love how there is a big story and then each issue seems to be its own story and even have stories within the story for that issue.

What struck me today is how fast I read the first three chapters. I've been taking it with me to the laundromat. While my clothes are in the washer and then the dryer I would read the comic book pages. I've been reading the prose pages later the same day.

As I indicated I love the story and the artwork, too. I'm starting to feel as if I am rushing myself through the comic book pages. I should be savoring it more. To that end I only read the first half of chapter 4 at the laundromat. I'll probably finish it later today and maybe read the prose section tomorrow.

Reading a story too quickly, whether prose or comic book, does an injustice to the writer/artist. In my book it is comparable to gulping down fine cuisine. Both should be savored. Even if I can't appreciate it all at first glance I believe that by reading it slowly, re-reading it, and spending time thinking about what I've read before moving on to the next chapter I believe that I will gain greater insight and appreciation.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Dunn Loring Comicon 809

I went to a small comic book convention in Dunn Loring today.

I wasn't looking for anything in particular. I didn't want to spend much money so I stuck to the discount bins. I looked through a lotta 1/2 price trade paperbacks without buying any. I did pick up a dozen comic books mostly from the early-70s to early-80s.

Phantom Stranger # 21, 22, 23, 24 - I love the the cover and interior art by Jim Aparo on all four of these. It's funny but I never noticed it before now but looking at the cover and some of the interior art of PS # 21 made think of Mike Zeck's art work.

House of Mystery
# 290, 307, 308 - While HOM was normally an anthology book but all of these issues include part of the ongoing I...Vampire story. My interest in this series was piqued by this blog posting. The art on the covers by Joe Kubert are much more to my tastes than the interior art.

Showcase # 104 - This was the only comic that I found in the many boxes that I went through with a WWII story. Its the final issue of this anthology series which normally didn't feature war stories. Once again a beautiful Joe Kubert cover but alas no Kubert art on the inside.

Hopeless Savages: Ground Zero # 1, 2, 3, 4 - I thought this was the first but it looks like its the second Hopeless Savages mini-series. Alas. I'll read it anyway. I almost didn't buy it because it has been collected in a trade but it was so low priced that I couldn't resist.

So in all I got 12 comics for $8. Good deal. Even if the comics aren't great reads I had fun looking through the back issue bins.