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Archive for February, 2008

Mr. Toast

Mr. Toast_daart24

Dan Goodsell’s World of Mr. Toast creations really shouldn’t be missed.

The characters have an undeniable charm — from Mr. Toast himself to Shaky Bacon and in-between — and the strips jokes, gags and lessons successfully appeal to all ages. At first sight, the cartoons and illustrations might seem simple but funny thing about simplicity — it’s complicated to pull off well. And should you look further, you’ll see an awful lot of skill there.

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And yes, I’m proud to admit that I enjoy the comedy and adventures of a slice of toast.

Wait.

Come to think of it, I also enjoy the adventures of talking ducks, a samurai rabbit, meese guards, a family of marshmallowy “Bones” and who knows how many other “silly” things. Right, I don’t see any reason to “grow up” either.

You can read more about Goodsell’s creations at The World of Mr. Toast

…and feel free to check out the catchy animation on the sidebar.

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travels with jotaro cover

Elsewhere, someone brought up the question as to whether or not any of us found ourselves moving from single issues to TPB’s and I thought that it was worth discussing as I’ve been mulling it over off and on for several months myself.

When I was younger, collecting the single issues was part of the excitement — I had to wait from month to month to find out the outcome of a cliffhanger, or what not, and was then able to joyfully add those single issues to my collection after enjoying them — but a good 17-18 years later and I’m finding that time really is at a premium and I’d much rather have the whole story in front of me (or at least a hefty portion of issues) to digest and mull over as there seems to be a little more impact in the immediacy. I’m not advocating decompressed storytelling by any means, I hate the stuff, but I do want to read a good, hefty, story in one sitting more often than not these days; which may be a part of my book reading self spilling over into the comics hobby. I also have to admit that I like the convenient and attractive collected formats (both HC & TPB) that look nice on my bookshelves as well as the fact that the collected editions are simply more affordable.

I do understand the argument that a lot of creative teams need the sales of the single issues to thrive so as to insure future issues of the title — particularly newer titles and Indy publishers — and I respect the validity of the argument but that’s something I’m just going to have to tackle on a case by case basis depending on how much I enjoy a book and if it’s necessary to do this. I’m certainly not going to feel guilty for being unable and unwilling to pay upwards of $3-3.50 for dozens of books. Something simply has to give and the collected editions simply help a lot in that regard.

I’m currently reading Annihilation, Dynamo 5, Mouse Guard, Nova, Invincible, Oh! My Goddess and Usagi Yojimbo in TPB format and am really enjoying it. I’m still thinking about the rest and whether or not I’ll eventually just move to the collected format almost exclusively in the months to come.

Have you given it any consideration?

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Tell you what, blink these days and in all likelihood you’re going to miss something.

While reading through an interview today at Comic Book Resources with Jeff Smith, he drops this little tid-bit at the end of the interview:

“Smith also mentioned that writer Tom Sniegoski is working on more ‘Stupid, Stupid Rat Tales: The Adventures of Big Johnson Bone, Frontier Hero,’ the prequel to Eisner Award-winning ‘Bone.’ ‘That’s going to be fun. We’ll maybe do that next year,’ said Smith, who will draw the book.”

Seriously, every time I think it can’t get any better on the Indy front, it does. And while this won’t be further adventures of Fone Bone, Thorn & Co. it is another foray into that fantastic world and I’ll definitely be there (again) for the ride.

More about Smith’s RASL and other plans here.

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What a story.

But first things first.

I had been itching to read Kurt Busiek’s Astro City series for years (to quickly catch you up, I was away from comics all together when the series made its debut and only became aware of it about half-way through) and with a little luck on my side I finally managed to win a large portion of the collection for a very reasonable price late last summer. Since, I’ve been champing at the bit to get the opportunity to read through it. So, to that end, several months ago I pulled out Astro City 1/2, entitled: “The Nearness of You” to get cracking. Apparently I picked a good place to start!

In this short story were are introduced to a man named Michael, a man haunted by the dreams a dark haired beauty who he simply can’t get out of his mind. The intensity of the dreams effect his sleep, his work performance, and his social life to the point that he’s merely going through the day to day motions of his life trying desperately to figure out why the woman in his dreams seems so real, so fascinating, so special. But he suffers because of it and at the height of his despair he is visited by The Hanged Man, a supernatural being (and an awesome character!) that tells him — perhaps mercifully — that this dark haired woman does indeed have relevance in his life, and that she was actually…his wife. Her name was Miranda.

And she never existed.

As The Hanged Man shows him in detail, Michael is being haunted by dreams and memories of their former life together as husband and wife prior to a supernatural war through time that erased her existence (her parents never met as a result of that war, and she was never born). Only the time stream couldn’t fix everything when the day was finally won and some individuals retained glimpses and memories of their former life and loved ones. Already an excellent piece, the story reaches its finale when The Hanged Man tells Michael that he has the power to make him forget, that he can take away the memories and visions of the woman he once loved so as to offer him peace of mind. But despite the tragedy, Michael asks that he do nothing, he doesn’t want to forget her.

Satisfied with his answer, The Hanged Man departs to help others suffering similar fates that night and as he leaves Michael calls after him asking what the others choose, asking if they choose to forget? With a perceived smile, The Hanged Man turns and answers ‘no one chooses to forget.’

With no memory of his meeting that night with The Hanged Man, but with a newfound knowledge of his past with her, Michael welcomes sleep and dreams again of Miranda.

…….

This is easily one of my all-time favorite comic stories, and I mention it as it’s fresh on my mind having re-read it again last night. If you’ve not had the chance to read if for yourself then by all means track it down and do so if it sounds like something you’d enjoy. Incidentally, “The Nearness of You” is one of Busiek’s personal favorites, is clearly a fan favorite and was nominated for an Eisner award in 1997. It can be found in single issues or in the Astro City TPB collection entitled, “The Confession.”

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Back in July of 2007, while reading through some of the buzz surrounding the upcoming games releasing later that year I caught wind of a PS3 game entitled Battle Field Valkyrie. It had an animated quality reminiscent of a fluid watercolor painting while maintaining slick character profiles and movements — definitely one of the more unique looks I’ve seen in character and game designs over the years. At the time I didn’t own the PS3, and was kind of waiting to see what was going to happen in terms of exclusives etc, but after seeing the numerous screen shots I quickly noted the title, and began looking for more information. It turned out that Battle Field Valkyrie comes from the same creative minds that gave us Sakura Taisen, an extremely popular strategy/dating sim video game series in Japan that quickly became one of my favorite franchises here as well.

If this manages to catch even a nth part of Sakura Taisen’s spirit then I’ll be more than satisfied. Plus, the game combines strategic and RPG elements within the game-play so seeing as how I’m a sucker for sRPG’s I imagine I’ll be in high heaven. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for. No U.S. release date had been announced at the time but it appears that we’ll indeed be getting a localized version of Battle Field Valkyrie: Gallian Chronicles later this Fall. Wa-Hoo!

[If interested, please check out the video on the sidebar for more on this game.]

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Nexus #100

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It’s been a heck of a long time coming (especially if we count the years between #98 and #99) but it looks like Mike Baron & Steve Rude’s Nexus #100 will be hitting shelves later this month. No doubt it’ll be worth the wait and I certainly hope “The Dude” will be back on his feet soon. Despite the setbacks, undoubtedly a lot of time, effort, and care went into this issue.

Here’s this issues solicitation:

Rude Dude Productions is proud to announce the release of Nexus #100, the landmark issue to beat them all, is at last ready for solicitation.

What’s all the fuss about in the long awaited, oversized edition of Nexus 100? In addition to the 23-page main story feature, Nexus 100 contains the first fully-painted Steve Rude art ever done for a comic story! “When She was Young,” Part II, an eleven-page Sundra Peale story that takes place at the beginning of Sundra’s career and reveals her first meeting with the notorious and treacherous—ah, long time fans will guess! But for now we’ll keep you in suspense! Baron and Rude consider this a thought-provoking piece of graphic literature with all their usual trademarks that marks their sense of what makes comics fun to read.

PLUS a brand new 12-page feature, “The History of Nexus” by Bill Baker. See how it all began! Early, previously unseen Nexus art! The crew from all 3 Nexus publishers tell all! Readers new and old to Nexus will find this feature an invaluable resource for decades to come.

Please note this is a resolicitation of this special issue. With an increased page count beyond what was originally solicited, Steve added yet more extra features to make Nexus 100 a truly momentous event. In order to expedite the arrival of this issue, we have chosen to eliminate the previously solicited posters, birth certificate and scratch and win cards. Heck–we’ll do those next time!

If you’ve never given Nexus a try, please do, you’ll thank me. So glad to have Hellpop & friends back again!

More information can be found at RudeDudeProductions

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The Office

Once again I find myself somewhat ashamed to admit that I’m relatively new to something that a lot of folks have been enjoying for years. This time around it’s NBC’s The Office. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve been wanting to see the show for months on end but outside of Football, Hockey and The Simpsons (and most recently, Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles) I just haven’t had the kind of time I’d like to sit down and watch much television in the evenings — so hopefully that covers my hide a little. That said, I”m definitely on board now, and I have to say that I love this show.

It was Steve Carell’s involvement with The Office that first caught my attention. I had busted a gut laughing at his portrayl of news reporter Evan Baxter in Jim Carey’s Bruce Almighty (as well as Carell’s own Evan Almighty) and his performance as Brick Tamland in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy was a hoot also. I’ve only seen pieces of The 40-Year Old Virgin on television but what I saw there was hilarious as well. Carell’s comedy is just my brand of laughs and given the typical office setting of the series I figured there was more than enough material for something great. And great it is. Steve Carell’s performance as Michael Scott is Regional Manager at the Dunder Mifflin Inc. Paper Company is flat out hysterical, but to the shows great credit this is also one of those rare sitcoms where everyone really shines in their role. Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski as Pam and Jim almost steal the show with every scene and Rainn Wilson is about as over the top, though uncomfortably real, as Dwight “Assistant to the Regional Manager” Schrute. So many great characters here…

Anyhow, my girlfriend got me Season One for Christmas this year and after flying through that set, I’ve been working on Season 2. Last night I finished up both “The Fight” and “The Client” which throw a few kinks into the works for both Michael and Jim’s relationships with co-workers Pam and Jan. The uneasiness between Pam and Jim in particularly hits a little too close to home at times and that uncomfortable tension seems all the more genuine as a result. That episode ends perfectly as both Michael and Pam find themselves looking at each other at the end of the episode with that look only a befuddled guy who doesn’t know what the heck they did to complicate things would know. Seriously, what guy doesn’t know that exact look after finding themselves in an uncomfortable spot and it’s moments like this which really make The Office both worthwhile and memorable. I can’t wait to see what’s in store from this point on.

Thank goodness for these season sets!

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