Friday, June 22, 2007

Queen & Country

In keeping with my current kick of reading crime drama I've come across and have really enjoyed Greg Rucka's Queen & Country series by Oni Press.
While not really a crime book it does have all kinds of double crosses and unsavory characters inside it's pages because Queen & Country is a spy book first and foremost. A realistic James Bond-ian adventure if you will.
The title follows Minder Tara Chance through a series of harrowing missions as she keeps England safe from all kinds of foreign evils. Minder's are secret agents, kept in groups of three and sent to stop everything from terrorists to blackmail plots that may hurt the global economy.
Greg Rucka has become another of my favorite writers since I discovered him swapping scripting duties with Ed Brubaker (Criminal) on DC's Gotham Central. His first Whiteout mini-series was an amazing read and Queen & Country is no exception. (In fact, I think the two are connected by a character in some way... if not I stand corrected... now I'll have to go back and check) He really does his research and pulls the cop/crime/spy drama together very well. The secondary characters and just as entertaining as Tara Chance and fun to read when they Finally get some page time. Rucka makes each one of them count.
Art on the book is done by a different team on each arc. Visually it's hit and miss. For example: Carla Speed McNeil, whom I had never heard of before pickup up issues #16-20 Operation Storm Front has a style you'd never expect on a title like this. Personally I found her character design confusing, several of them looking too alike to make out unless you really paid attention to the dialogue from page to page.
That speed bump aside, Queen & Country is a cool read for anyone who likes either spies or crime or both. All except the most current storyline have been collected into trades by Oni Press. Don't just grab one at random, Start with Operation: Broken Ground collecting issue #1-4 and you'll be glad you did.
Till next time...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files

I was never a big Judge Dredd fan growing up. I knew of the character and his historical significance in the world of British comics and there was a cheesy movie staring Sylvester Stalone in 1995. That was about it for me.

Then I read The Complete Casefiles Vol #1. Wow.....

To start, The Complete Case Files are the 2000AD version of Marvel's Essentials books or DC's Showcase Presents books. Case Files reprints the complete work of Judge Dredd from the very first issues in black and white.

For those who have never heard of the character, Judge Dredd is a genetically engineered member of law enforcement in Mega-City One, a super city that is made of most of America's East Coast after several wars and disasters. He is the best and the brightest, upholding the law no matter what the odds or outcome will be.

The whole concept was created to be a social and political satire of America from the late 70's and while a few stories may seem a bit dated, others still ring as true as the day they were written and illustrated.

What surprised me most as I tore through the volumes was that most of the Judge Dredd tales were short. Some as quick as three to five pages, around eight on average. The character got his start in 2000 AD, a weekly science-fiction anthology. Even more amazing than the quick reads of each chapter was how the creative team made those stories work. Their scripts and their layouts are all amazing given the fact these comics were introduced in the late 70's a far cry from what Marvel and DC were doing at the same time with their superhero books. A lot of the art still stands out today including Brian Bolland's work on the series which was few and far between but looks as sharp as anything he's done today.

As of right now there are eight Case Files collections. Each collection represents one full year of Judge Dredd adventures. In fact, unless someone can tell me different, I think Judge Dredd was the first comic that was kept in real time. As the year went on so did the year for Dredd and he aged with each passing season. At some point I assume they stopped this because it would make him around 50 years of age right now and approaching retirement. Or maybe not. Even retired something tells me he'll still be "the law".

Whether you're a fan of comics or a creator learning how to write shorts, pick these books up. Always good stuff.

Till next time.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Dynamo 5

Those of you who have stopped by here before or have ever picked up a copy of Digital Webbing Presents knows my good friend Mahmud Asrar. He's not only the artist for my character The Last Paladin but he's also done several other stories for DWP as well as a score of books in his native Turkey.

Well now Mahmud's got a hit book over at Image Comics. Dynamo 5 is written by Jay Farber and illustrated by Mahmud Asrar. It's about the five illegitimate offspring of a Superman like hero who has been killed. With his death, his widow is able to seek out these children, each with one of his five amazing powers, and form a team to pick up her late husbands slack.

It's really tough for me to review a book like this because I'm so biased. Mahmud's art is as fantastic as ever. He's doing what he loves to do and it shows in the pages. The story is quick and quirky with moments of drama and suspense thrown in for good measure. The end of issue #1 is a cool surprise.

Right now it's tough to find these issues. Complete sets of the first three issues sell for about $25 on eBay. Single issues have sold for $10. Double check your local comic shop's back stock before trying to outbid someone or you can do what a lot of people do these days and wait for the trade paperback. Either way, it's worth the buy.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Weekend Update

It's been a while since I've actually taken a few moments to update everyone on my current projects as a writer. Everything has been in such a state of flux since my surgery almost eight months ago that it didn't pay to announce things here only to see them change or disappear a week later. However, some things have been coming together and it looks like 2007 isn't going to be a dead year for me project wise. Here's a quick list of what I know should be in print before the end of the year...

The Last Paladin: The character and concept I created this site for in the first place will have a six page chapter published in the final issue of Digital Webbing Presents at the end of the year. This was Mahmud's final chapter before moving on to illustrate Dynamo 5 from Image Comics. (A book I've neglected to help pimp for my good friend) I'm also putting together a small book full of sketches and concept art for The Last Paladin. Most of the work will be Mahmud's but look for a few surprises as well. It should be out in time for Mid-Ohio later this year.

Iron Sirens: Some of you who know me know a few years back I put out a book called Project Trinity: Divas with Dan Campos and Stacie Ponder. It stared several of the most popular IFBB Fitness and Figure models, managed by JM Manion of the NPC (National Physique Commity) in a sci-fi/action style comic book adventure. The book got national attention in every major bodybuilding magazine and on a local Fox Sports show dedicated to fitness. We always wanted to do more but schedules got jacked around and it floundered. After a lot of talking and planning and thinking, JM Manion and I, teamed up with Ed Dukeshire at Digital Webbing and coming your way this fall is Iron Sirens, a full color comic featuring fitness and figure models as the actual characters. it'll be released on a quarterly schedule, feature a min of 16 pages of comics each issue and the rest will be filled out with photos and info on the girls involved. In addition to comic stores, these books will be sold at major bodybuilding shows and expos like the Arnold Classic and the Olympia.

Jackie D: Created by my good friend Uko Smith about ten years ago, this is one of his ideas that he's sat on forever and ever as he's cut his teeth on other projects in the art world. If he's telling me the truth, he's finally started illustrating the small script he asked me to write to introduce this tough as nails private eye. (Now you HAVE to do it Uko... HA!)

From the Stack: Similar to the Last Paladin sketchbook mentioned above, I'm going to try and put out a second book that will showcase projects and concepts I never got off the ground for one reason or another. Artwork for the first collection will feature Dario Carrasco, Dan Campos, and Scott Lemien. This is some cool stuff and even though it may never be completed I think people might enjoy seeing some of the creative process and ideas my artists and I come up with.

So that's it for now. I have more... a lot more... in the works but right now this is all I feel safe talking about. We don't want to jinx it now do we...?

Till next time...