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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gift Guide: New Anthologies

I think we can all agree that nothing makes a better holiday gift than COMICS, right?  For those who are maybe a little unsure of which way their loved ones' tastes run and want to take a broader approach, though, anthologies are the way to go.  They offer a variety of artistic and storytelling styles in one sitting; familiar favorites can often be found side-by-side with new taste sensations.  It's a veritable comics buffet!  Here's a few suggestions, fresh off the presses...

Trickster is a collection of Native American folk tales, all revolving around the titular supernatural entity.  Tricksters are crafty beings, causing chaos or mischief in the pursuit of fun and survival; these collaborations between native writers and comic artists vary as much in tone and approach as they do in setting (each people from coast to coast has their own version of the Trickster).  Great for storytelling fans of all ages!

For the rock n' roller in your life there's CBGB, a compilation centered around the legendary New York City music club.  From Chuck BB's inky stylings to Rob G's scratchy lines to Mr. Sheldon's eye-popping neon colors, the art herein is just as loud as the music at the heart of each story.  The cover is by legendary punk cartoonist and Love & Rockets creator Jaime Hernadez, too- instant credibility, and an attractive addition to any underground comics collection!

If you grab one anthology this year, though, it MUST be The Best American Comics 2010, guest edited this year by none other than Sandman scribe Neil Gaiman.  There's a little bit of everything in here, and it's truly the cream of the crop: excerpts from Asterios Polyp rub shoulders with Scott Pilgrim; big names like R. Crumb and the Hernandez Brothers are side by side with upstarts like Derf and Fred Chao.  "All killer, no filler" is the order of the day here, folks; it's on the rack NOW so check it out!

There's lots more where this came from; don't be afraid to ask for suggestions at the store!  We've got LOTS of opinions. In the meantime, a very happy holidays to you form your friends here at the Laughing Ogre!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

This Week's Picks

Magus #1
Centuries past, magic was sealed away from the world, making it a myth to the general public.  Over the years, the seal has been weakening, but the powers that be have succeeded in containing the secret.  Now, someone has appeared with enough individual power to throw off the restrained flow of magic.  This person is re-igniting magic throughout the world.  The concept alone is fantastic, but artwork by Rebekah Isaacs makes this a must-buy regardless.

Firebreather #1
Duncan and friends return to the funny books in light of his silver screen debut.  You get all of the high school action of Ultimate Spider-man with the physical deformity of the Thing.  As you can imagine, Duncan deals with all the drama being in high school involves and splits time fighting monsters for the government.  Whether you read the original series, are interested in the tv movie, or read Spider-man, or Invincible, be sure to check this out.

Skull Kickers #4
Everytime time I read and issue of Skull Kickers, I'm disappointed... that it's not longer.  Okay, okay, I know that was corny, but it's the truth. This series continues to impress. As simple as it seems, the best word to describe Skull Kickers is "fun." If you are a fan of fun, be sure to watch the continued adventures of the tall one and the short one as they take on a horde of undead, hit a necromancer in the mouth, and battle a possessed leg.

Axe Cop
You need to read this.  It doesn't matter what you normally read, Axe Cop is a comic you will enjoy.  It is the fruit born of brotherly love as 5 year old Malachai Nicolle and drawn by his 29 year old brother Ethan Nicolle.  It is the epitome of random and you can never truly get your bearings in the truest sense of "break-neck storytelling".  A child's imagination is a fascinating and dangerous place.

The Cape #1
Many people claim to make "real world" super hero comics.  The Cape is one of the few that really feels like it.  I don't want to give away too much in a review, but suffice it to say the first issue is enthralling and manages to throw some curve balls as well.  One of the most important parts of creating a character is making them flawed, imperfect.  Protagonist Eric is just about as flawed as he can be.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ikigami - The Ultimate Limit

Congratulations! You have been randomly selected by the government... to die in 24 hours!

In order to stifle apathy and to kick start motivation, the government has been utilizing the practice of killing their own people.  Not en mass, mind you, but one a day should be enough to keep citizens in line.  A "small" sacrifice for the betterment of the whole - This is similar to the idea behind The Lottery, Battle Royale, and Hunger Games, but without inherent brutality of those processes.

The National Welfare Immunization is provided to each citizen as they enter elementary school.  The immunization protects against infectious diseases, but 0.01% of the syringes contain a nano-capsule that will kill them when they are between the ages of 18 to 24.

When the date and time of a capsule rupture is coming up, the Ministry sends out a messenger to notify the recipient of the capsule of their impending death.  One such messenger, Fujimoto is the 25 year old protagonist of the series.  He is the connected thread between all the characters we watch in their final moments.  Fujimoto is compassionate and inquisitive and not entirely sold on the practice of Ikigami.  Throughout the series, Fujimoto struggles with the morality and efficacy of what is taking place around him.  He must be careful, though, because if his internal struggle boils to the surface, he will be injected with the capsule as are all "social miscreants". 

Ikigami is certainly a dark story, but there is a lot of optimism hidden in these pages.  Writer/author Motoro Mase highlights as many positive sides of human nature as he does negative.  For some of the characters who receive an ikigami, a quest begins.  What would you do if today was the last day of your life?

- Ryan

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service

"Your body is their business!"

Your dead body, anyway... KCDS is described as a horror manga, but it is so much more.  The story follows five Buddhist university students with odd skill sets allowing them interactions with the dead.  Some mortalities result in spirits being trapped in their own bodies, unable to move on to the next reincarnation.  Using their abilities, the group tasks themselves with helping these unfortunate souls.  No matter what the cause or complication, the Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service will bring your body wherever necessary for you to be free.

If you grew up on Scooby Doo, Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, or anything of the like, you should check out this series immeadiately. A good mix of group dynamics and mystery harken back to the aforementioned series, but KCDS hues a much darker tone.  There is true horror to experience and this manga is only for mature readers.  There is gore, nudity, and violence as well as plently of disturbing imagery. 

 - Ryan