Friday, February 24, 2006

IF I DIDN'T HATE TO FLY...

This would be damned cool:

Kyle Baker to be Harvey Awards’ Master of Ceremonies!

9 days left (March 3) to submit Harvey Award Nomination Ballots!

Kyle Baker, recently named as a guest of the 2006 Baltimore Comic-Con, has been announced as the Master of Ceremonies for the Harvey Awards, to be held Saturday night, September 9 in Baltimore, Maryland. Kyle Baker is a Harvey and Eisner Award winning author and illustrator.
Baker is the creator of nine Graphic Novels: YOU ARE HERE, WHY I HATE SATURN, THE COWBOY WALLY SHOW, KING DAVID, I DIE AT MIDNIGHT, UNDERCOVER GENIE and Plastic Man On the Lam for Vertigo/DC Comics and CARTOONIST VOLUME 1 & 2 through his own press, KYLE BAKER PUBLISHING.

“As a creator, Kyle Baker has an impressive, eclectic body of work ranging from superheroes to the sublime, including high profile work for Marvel and DC, his own independently published projects, and multimedia work for HBO, Disney, Warner Brothers, and DreamWorks.” said Baltimore Comic-Con promoter Marc Nathan. “Having seen Kyle accept industry awards and having read his work, we think he will help us to present a funny, engaging awards show. He’s an excellent representative of the industry, and we’re thrilled to have him as the MC of this year’s Harvey Awards.”

The awards are named for Harvey Kurtzman (1924-1993), a cartoonist, writer, editor, and comics genius. The Harvey Awards recognize outstanding work in comics and sequential art. They will be awarded in co-operation with the Baltimore Comic-Con on September 9, 2006.
The Harvey Awards Nominating deadline is March 3, 2006. Ballots are still available at www.harveyawards.org and can be submitted via ground mail or electronically. Nominations for the Harvey Awards are selected exclusively by comics creators - those who write, draw, ink, letter, color, design, edit or are otherwise involved in a creative capacity in the comics field. They are the only industry awards both nominated by and selected by the full body of comic book professionals.

For additional information about Kyle Baker, visit www.kylebaker.com

For additional information about the Harvey Awards, visit www.harveyawards.org.

For information about the Baltimore Comic-Con, visit www.comicon.com/baltimore.

Monday, February 20, 2006

SWINGIN’ SINGLES

So, last week Warren Ellis made his case for calling the standard 32-page comic a “single” rather than “floppy” or “pamphlet.” And while I generally am not in favor of ankle grabbing for British men with frightening beards (or any other type of man), I’ll give it a shot just this once.

SEASON OF THE WITCH #3
Written by Jai Nitz and Drawn by Nicola Scott
Published by Image Comics


Young Jessica’s growth into a hero of great stature reaches its apex as she takes the battle to free the peasants to the King himself. But even if she succeeds, that may not satisfy her mentor; her methods have gotten a bit extreme, and he fears that he has created a monster.

I’ve enjoyed each issue of SEASON to date, and this one was really no different, though the change in artists definitely hampers the book. The brilliant Kevin Sharpe is gone, and while Nicola Scott turns in some nice artwork, some of the zest that made the characters jump off the page in the earlier issues is missing. Still, I think Nitz does a terrific job of allowing the reader to decide for himself whether or not Jessica is truly out of control or just assuming the role of savior in the way that most people would. I’m looking forward to seeing how he concludes matters.

INTIMIDATORS #2-3
Written by Neil Kleid and Drawn by Miguel Montenegro and Cafu
Published by Image Comics


I was mezzo-mezzo on the first issue of this title, as it didn’t really allow Kleid to tap a deeper satirical vein; it was mostly set-up. Fortunately, that problem gets rectified in the next two issues, as goody two-shoes hero Astroman arrives in the present and finds himself dropped into the middle of a battle featuring the sickly violent and perverse Intimidators. Then the fun really starts. But first, we also get a hilariously executed flashback of Astroman’s final days in the past, right down to simpler art and yellowed pages. Good stuff.

As the poor bastard wakes up in the present, he discovers that today’s heroes are crude, drunken, vile people, and he’d just as soon not stick around. But rather than head back to the past, he’s saddled with trying to turn the twistos into true good guys. However, just learning about who his teammates are in their off hours might give him a heart attack and kill him. After all, no heroines from the sixties had a website that sold self-created porn.

Telling you too much more about the beautiful nastiness in these two issues would spoil the fun. Suffice it to say, this was much more what I was expecting when the book was announced. I’m not sure that “fun” is the best word to describe this comic (unless you’re someone who gets sent to solitary with some frequency), but it’s in the ballpark.

DEAD @17 PROTECTORATE #3
Written by Alex Hamby and Drawn by Benjamin Hall
Published by Viper Comics


This DEAD prequel (the first series under the title not written or drawn by creator Josh Howard) concludes on a startlingly grim and harsh note. What looked in issue one to be a bit of a fluff, and soft excuse to have the girl with the huge rack on the cover running around in a nightie, ends as a tale grounded in a sense of the hopeless. And you know what? That was just surprising enough to make me give it a passing grade.

One thing I will say: I missed issue two, and the lack of any sort of front cover recap just about killed my ability to understand what was going on in the book. Even parsing out some of what was happening, there was plenty at work here where I could have used the help, and I think anyone picking the book up off the shelf in a comics shop would have enjoyed a recap as well.

Hall’s art looks a bit more confident in this final issue. Grace is drawn in a bit less cheesecake fashion and more towards having the ordeals in the miniseries having stripped away her innocence. The ending also does finally come around to letting a sliver of light shine on the proceedings, so there is a sense that the series does truly have purpose as pertains to the DEAD universe. All things being equal, this turned out better than I anticipated.

MEGACITY 909 #8
Written by Jacob Lee and Andrew Dabb and Drawn by Kano Kang and Zack Suh
Published by Devil’s Due


I managed to miss the concluding issue to MEGACITY when it came out, but thankfully, the magnificent Susan Bishop at DDP was able to help me out. This was a book that I personally enjoyed a great deal; it was off-the-hook crazy, running the gamut from working as a military action yarn featuring demons as the enemy to taking the characters to Hell to the near-destruction of the world. Crazy, manga-flavored insanity where just about anything could happen and generally did. I can’t get enough of comics like that.

Issue eight fell right in line with the rest, delivering over-the-top moment after over-the-top moment. Miniature nuclear weapons against the hordes of Hell. Possessed good guys. Heroes sentenced to new lives as carriers for demonic entities. And the creative team is promising more down the road. That’s just news to my ears.

MEGACITY 909 never seemed to become the “buzz” book that it deserved to be, but I think that with a good trade edition and some solid promotional efforts, the next go-around for these characters might get its due. If you’re a fan of books like THE ULTIMATES and THE AUTHORITY, then this is a book you should be onboard for.

BLACK HARVEST #3
Written and Drawn by Josh Howard
Published by Devil’s Due


DEAD @17 creator Howard’s newest work continues in earnest, but issue three brings my first real reservations about the project. When last we left our protagonist, Daniel, he was heading off to watch the “Jericho Lights” with Zaya, the disappeared girl he had found wandering the local roads. Fair enough. But then trouble begins to set in.

Zaya, having disappeared and returned after three years, has approached Daniel without telling anyone else where she’s going, which makes her family think she’s gone again. Then when the local cops find her and Daniel out and about, they overreact again without engaging in anything resembling common sense or logic. Instead, Howard’s plot suddenly relies on what I call “Idiot Logic”; events will only move forward because the characters act out of character or refuse to use basic intelligence to handle a situation. It feels artificial, and kicks you out of the story.

Really, that’s too bad. The rest of the book is just fine, and even though things could use a bit more speed in the “explain this shit to me” department, I’m onboard and enjoying most of it. It just doesn’t quite get to the level of excellence that it could, and that’s always a shame.

POLLY AND THE PIRATES #3
Written and Drawn by Ted Naifeh
Published by Oni Press


The charmingly cute series gains steam as it reaches the halfway point, as Polly finds herself on the cusp of a dilemma; she can sell out the older pirate, Scrimshaw and his map to her mother’s treasure, or the son of the Pirate King will spread rumors that they’re having a “secret affair” at her school. What’s a young lady concerned about her reputation to do?!

All-ages comics don’t get much more fun than this. Naifeh gets the mindset of young Polly nailed perfectly; for the time period when this takes place, reputation truly was everything, and the poor young girl is a woman of her era. Yet, there’s a na├»ve innocence to the entire proceedings that makes you smile like an idiot; the young pirate opposing her is precisely the kind of adventurously cute boy that Polly and her friends secretly dream about, giving the poor girl a much more subtle conundrum.

However, the true crux of the story comes when Polly is faced with making decisions that affect the lives of others and how she deals with that and slowly is educated about the concept of integrity. There’s nothing too overt about it, but you’re given every piece of information you need in the looks on Polly’s face, as she understands what she’s done. POLLY is a rousing success so far; check it out.

/Mason