Guess what comic junkies? I was fortunate enough to attend the San Diego Comicon for a couple of days (thanks Neo!) and, man, was that an experience!
I was in the same vicinity as some of my favorite entertainers and creators… and spent entirely too much money. But hey! My bad money-spending habit is your reward; here are some titles I picked up while walking the ever seductive floor of vendors:
Invictus by Antonio Ramirez with art by Neil Dmonte & Jason Walton:
This is a comic from a smaller publishing house and I was fortunate enough to meet the writer at this booth. This 3 part series follows the adventures of Alex Archer, otherwise known as the shadow-bender Invictus. Shadow-benders have the ability to blend in with and manipulate the darkness of the shadows, which leads Alex to wonder “should my powers be used for good… or bad?” With the impending apocalypse, he better make his decision. And quick!
Templar by Jon Simon & Paul Mendoza with art by Neil Dmonte & Paul Mendoza:
“Evil Thrives When Good Men Do Nothing.” This comic, which I believe is independently published, comes from another writer I was fortunate enough to meet at the same booth as Antonio. A historical fiction, Jon was motivated to write this comic as a result of his love for history. This love developed from the close bond he shares with his father, who was a history teacher. Taking the most interesting factoids from history and fusing them with magical and mythical elements, Jon manages to create an entertaining story of knightly obstacles and triumphs.
Clan of the Vein by Neo Edmund & Neil Dmonte with art also by Neil Dmonte & Jason Walton:
Neil was the last person I met at this booth of talented people and was the artist for all the previous comics I listed. While Neo was not at the booth during this time, he is a close friend of mine and the reason I was able to check out Comicon this year (again, thank you!). Together they tackle the vampiric folklore through Ian MacBane, which they describe on their Facebook as “– a legendary vampire killer. MacBane finds himself in a remote mountain resort under siege by a clan of vicious vampires who have taken the guests hostages. He learns that the vamps are seeking the hidden location of the blood of the last vampire queen, but he has no idea that the secret is locked away in his own lost memories — and his enemies will stop at nothing to force him to remember.” You might also recognize some of this artwork on the walls of Stile’s bedroom in MTV’s Teen Wolf.
Womanthology by an assortment of women writers and artists at IDW:
This is a truly unique comic of separate, yet thematic, vignettes completely written and illustrated by women in the comic business. Believe it or not, the comic community still has its reservations (and trolly rants) about women writers and artists, which makes the market for someone like myself a difficult place to enter into. But things are getting better, as the existence of this comic illustrates. Slowly but surely, more and more people want to read stories and see art by women!
Lady Mechanika by Joe Benitez with color by Peter Steigerwald:
Some of you might remember this title from an earlier blog of mine. Lady Mechanika is a beautifully drawn and written passion project by Joe Benitez, who I believe just recently returned from a brief hiatus. She is the sole survivor of a bloody massacre that left her without limbs. Turning to mechanical limbs as replacements for her missing body parts, she becomes a cyborg detective bent on solving all crimes, including those from her past. This is a “steampunk detective fiction” comic, which is a unique genre of writing in itself! It was nice meeting Joe and seeing him back to work again.
Wytches by Scott Snyder with art by Jock, colors by Matt Hollingsworth, and letters by Clem Robins:
So I have been on this serious horror kick lately and wanted to give witches another try. I love all things horrific, but witches never seemed to grab my attention like vampires or zombies did. This graphic novel, however, might just change that. The story features an unsuspecting family seeking refuge from their own family trauma in a remote location in the woods of Litchfield, New Hampshire. Now, witches in the woods is a fairly common story convention, but this comic takes that trope and stretches it so that it is something wholly new… and terrifying.
The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan with script by David Lapham, art by Mike Huddleston, and colors by Dan Jackson:
Now this graphic novel is a bit self explanatory, especially for those who are fans of the television show. Stemming from my horror obsession of late and my deep love for anything Guillermo Del Toro, this comic was a must have. Taking the traditional vampire and twisting it into something more similar to a parasitic disease, this tale really enhances the scariest elements of vampiric folklore. (Did I mention that he was at the Dark Horse booth signing books? And that I wasn’t… Life is so unfair!)
Dragon Age: The Silent Grove by David Gaider with script by Alexander Freed, and art by Chad Hardin:
This graphic novel, as one would imagine, is entirely based on the videogame of the same name. The Dragon Age franchise is a high-fantasy RPG complete with its own religious zealots, political climbers, and varied mythical races. It is a hugely expansive universe that is truly difficult to summarize here. Suffice it to say, the writing is so well structured and thought out in the game that fans were dying to know more about these fantastical worlds and characters. This has taken the shape of stand-alone prose novels and, you guessed it, graphic novels.
Sunstone by Stjepan Sejic:
Did you find 50 Shades of Grey poorly written, yet somehow weirdly pedantic? Were you looking for a story that accurately reflects the conventions of BDSM culture, with healthy romantic ties as a possibility? Allow me to introduce you to Sunstone. Easily one of my favorite artists and possibly the nicest guy you could ever meet, Stjepan creates a BDSM lesbian couple finding each other for the first time. Yet another passion project I happened to pick up, Sunstone presents the story of Lisa and Ally, a sub and a dom respectively, trusting each other and engaging in this lifestyle together. It is a funny, yet sexy, story that really taps into important notions about sexuality and sexual orientation. NOTE: The art is fairly graphic in this graphic novel and is not for everyone.
“Every ninety years twelve gods return as young people. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are all dead. It’s happening now. It’s happening again.” Care to brush up on your knowledge of ll things mythical, and/or challenge it? This graphic novel beautifully rewrites gods you know and others you want to know in the contemporary setting of South London. Each god is reimagined as different types of musicians and are made into celebrities. (A commentary on our own fascination with Hollywood perhaps?) It plays with gender, with morality, and with ethics in a way that is entertaining and enlightening. Plus, the artwork is to die (and be reincarnated) for!
Prize of the Day: The Amazing Spider-Man #194:
While staring at an endless pile of Pop figures I knew I didn’t have the money for, my fiancé went back to a vintage comic booth we had visited and purchased me a 7.0 grade of this comic. For those who know me well, they know that Black Cat is my favorite trickster in the Spider-Man universe. Coming hot on the heels of Gwen Stacy’s death, Felicia Hardy (aka Black Cat) becomes Peter’s new love interest. Naturally, this romance fizzles out and he eventually marries Mary Jane, but Spidey can’t help but be physically attracted to this feline when she decides to cross his path!
Bonus: The Visual Language of Comics: Introduction to Structure and Cognition of Sequential Images by Neil Cohn.
Only I would buy an academic book while at a comic convention. But this text takes a linguistic approach to the language of comics and starts to tap into the multimodality of comics I argued for in my master’s thesis. Geez, where was this earlier!?
And now, here is a picture of me with the writer of one of my favorite comic series at the moment: Kurtis Wiebe of Rat Queens!