Saying Optic Nerve is a comic you should be reading is kind of like telling someone they should be listening to The Beatles. If you have been in a comic book store or glanced at the cover of The New Yorker in the last twenty years, you most likely have seen some of Adrian Tomine’s incredible work. The title itself has been in on-again/off-again publication since 1991. Based on real life situations which start out on basic themes, the stories often focus on realistic characters and in-depth character development as opposed to contrived and complicated twists and turns. The concept itself isn’t incredibly original, but it is in stark contrast with the fantasy-adventure titles that are constantly being shit out of the major publishing camps, and it easily becomes a beacon of hope for diversity in an otherwise diluted market. For more of Keith’s comic book recommendations, head over to No Morals Anymore. Continue reading for the rest of his overview of Adrian Tomine’s Optic Nerve.
The American Splendor influenced comic strip style—which doesn’t waste a whole page on a single panel one-liner—is packed with content. The stories are interesting, well thought, and relatable. There are no gimmicks or stunts. Tomine has a satirical style reminiscent of Charles Bukowski (minus the degrading attitude towards women). This alone would be enough to pick up the latest issue, but in addition to the quality of each segment’s storylines, Adrian Tomine has a legendary drawing style that is detailed, polished, playful, yet simple. He is quite adept at giving a character personality, expression, and emotion in even the simplest of frames. This quality is what has allowed Tomine to have his art featured in most every major publication in the last twenty years. Much of his published work can be found in his New York Drawings and Scrapbook collections, both of which were released by Drawn and Quarterly (in 2012 and 2004, respectively) and are currently available at most major bookstores and comic book shops.
The ongoing title, Optic Nerve, was first self-published by Tomine at the age of 16. In 1994 it was picked up by Drawn and Quarterly. In the course of those nineteen years, it has been produced sporadically and recently released Issue #13. All but the latest two issues have been collected into graphic novel form and remain in publication. 32 Stories features an edition of the pre D+Q Optic Nerve that Tomine created early in his career. Sleepwalk and Other Stories makes up issues #1-4 of the D+Q published books, Summer Blonde consists of issues #5-8, and Shortcomings is made up of issues #9-11. Optic Nerve Issue #13 should currently be available at your local comic book store, so head over there and get it!
The featured image for this post actually isn’t from Optic Nerve at all. Rather, it is a work titled “Missed Connection” that was originally published in the November 8, 2004 issue of The New Yorker. Aptly-named, it depicts two people with a similar interest exchanging a glance as their subway cars temporarily pause at a stop. It is also the cover image for New York Drawings. I like to think that they are both reading Optic Nerve. A print of the work can be purchased here on Tomine’s website.
Mine and Keith’s 2013 Vans Warped Tour coverage is now up on our new music, entertainment, and pop culture blog, No Morals Anymore. You can check out my photo diary and recap of my days on the Vans Warped Tour in Holmdel, New Jersey and Uniondale, New York as well as Keith’s live music and band reviews and photos.
Mind MGMT starts off like it was the pilot of your new favorite TV series. Even though I have a very wounded heart when it comes to that matter, I have once again gotten sucked into a mystery cliffhanger science-fiction drama. When Season One of Heroes was on-air, I was obsessed. I had to catch every episode. Not only was I waiting on edge all week for the next puzzle piece, but I would never allow myself to get a spoiler the day after having missed the previous night’s episode. Though Heroes did slowly fall off in regards to the storyline. At some point I think they started to have people writing the show who had never even seen a single episode of it. I don’t know how factual that last statement is, but I’m not sure which would be more embarrassing: whether it’s true or whether it isn’t. This still isn’t as bad as some of my other recent injuries. At least Heroes gave it a shot at a few more decent seasons. Flash Forward was a serious mind-blower. The ad for the pilot had me tuned in. I never stopped watching until I watched what I thought was the season finale. It turns out it was the final episode. The network cancelled the series. It ended with a cliff-hanger even knowing that there would never be a way to conclude the story. Then there was The Event. I should have known that watching an NBC sci-fi drama was going to lead to heartbreak, but I got sucked in regardless. Of course, another obsession ended with the same withdrawal pains and the same bad taste in my mouth. For more of Keith’s Comics You Should Be Reading, head over to No Morals Anymore! Continue reading here for the rest of Keith’s review of Mind MGMT.
What does this have to do with Mind MGMT? It’s all of these stories rolled into one and then some. Like Heroes, it has super-powered beings. Like Flash Forward, it has the in your face storyline with questions and puzzle pieces coming at you from all directions. And it has conspiracy theories layered on top of conspiracy theories like The Event. While the storyline might have all of these basic flavors, it is still very much it’s own story. I am only using these comparisons to identify another major reason why I am not only addicted to this series, but why I also feel a sense of security in my addiction. Matt Kindt, the author, has complete control of the title. He has already stated that he only plans to run it for 36 issues. It lets me know that not only will my taste for closure be satisfied, but that I also won’t find out halfway through the story that there won’t be any more issues—or worse, that they are going to have a couple of shit writers come in and wind everything down in two issues.
I can’t even begin to tell you how much I want to start ranting and raving about Mind MGMT. And I’m not the only one. The trade hardback has an endorsement from Damon Lindelof (Lost, Star Trek Into Darkness), and Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Alien, Prometheus) has already started production on a movie based on the series. As far as comics are concerned, this one seems more like keyframes to a kick ass sic-fi mystery movie than a comic book. I, personally, am not a fan of Matt Kindt’s drawing style, but it’s just that good that it still ranks up in my top five favorite titles right now, and because of that his style has slowly grown on me. It is extremely raw and doesn’t adhere to your typical popular comic art. As far as the story goes, I have to stop writing or the next paragraph will be me dropping all kinds of spoilers on your head. Instead, I will just have to let you get started. The trade hardback for issues #1-6 is in stores now, and you’ll either have to pick up some back issues for #7 on up or wait for the next trade to come out in October to catch up. One thing I would advise is starting from the beginning rather than picking up the latest issue.
Almost thirty years ago, George Lucas wrote the original screenplay for what would become the greatest science fiction saga of all time. In the past year, there has been more new Star Wars news than ever before in the history of actual Star Wars news. New projects of monumental scale have materialized after close to twenty years of speculation—one of which is the long awaited and long rumored Episode VII. That in itself could be enough, but it seems that with the resurgence of attention to the brand already incurring a mega-cult status following, Disney has decided to cash in on their $4 billion purchase and announce character spin-off motion pictures, a new animated series, and a possible television live-action series. Check out more comic book reviews, previews, and news by Keith over on No Morals Anymore. Continue reading for more of Keith’s preview and insights into The Star Wars Issue #1.
I could write for days about any one of these things, but I would rather like to take a step back and look at the upcoming Star Wars universe from a wider angle. With these three developments, one thing is very apparent; they want the old Star Wars back… hopefully. All of these projects will have to bring a retro SW authenticity to guarantee success among the faithful. Episode VII will no doubt have a number of major throwback elements (I won’t attempt to speculate on the subject at this time). Dave Filoni, the animated show runner, has already said that Ralph McQuarrie’s concept design is the foundation for the new Star Wars Rebels animated series. A Han Solo spin-off movie will no doubt feature a certain well-known hot rod Corellian freighter and a soiree of notable ship designs. Another indication of this line of thought was an abrupt end to the 15-year era of Anakin Skywalker based storylines (yes, I’m talking about the Star Wars: The Clone Wars cancellation that offered absolutely no closure whatsoever and the “we could give less of a shit” attitude that the Lucasfilm camp has about the 3D projects). This all seems to be a calculated attempt to bridge the next-gen fan with the old-school purist and close the book on the prequel trilogy chapter of the Star Wars universe (rather than rehash more Clone Wars revamps). But one soon to be released project is nothing more than an easter egg of Star Wars folklore, solely for the Star Wars purist, with no equal barring the release of the original remastered trilogy.
The Star Wars is a limited series comic which illustrates Lucas’ first draft of the original Star Wars screenplay. The characters aren’t exactly the same. The storyline is altered. It’s a glimpse into what easily could have been the Star Wars reality, a stroll in the creative mind of the Star Wars creator, and a behind the scenes look at the creative development of the original trilogy. Rumored in comic book shops for twenty years, the lost (as obviously inaccurate legend would have it) original screenplay for Episode IV creates the jumping point for this series and is backed up by original McQuarrie based concept designs. Luke Skywalker is Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Starkiller is Luke Skywalker, Han Solo is a reptile, Darth Vader is slightly more human (and—spoiler alert—most likely not Anakin this time), and C-3PO is a kung-fu fighting robot gangster (last part is probably a fabrication).
The new series hits shelves on September 4th, 2013. With regular, variant, and ultra variant covers (one of which features a Ralph McQuarrie cover using original 1970s Star Wars concept art), to hold collectors in a release day frenzy. Hopefully the line outside of Midtown Comics won’t be too long and make me late for work. The possible success of this throwback could vindicate the creative direction of the future projects and lead to more successful projects that bring back the old Star Wars memories while ushering in an entirely new era of Star Wars fanfare (sans Jar Jar Binks). I guess we’ll see. Regardless, it should be bad ass!
Seriously, you should be reading Saga. But before I get into why, I want to first give you a little bit of background on how I arrived at this conclusion. If I want to write about the comics I read, I suppose I have to start by letting you know why I read them. Somewhere along the road of life, I lost touch with comics. It wasn’t anything personal, really. There was just more out there. It just wasn’t something I could get into anymore. Again, I lost touch—or so I thought. In reality, the comics had lost touch with me. I didn’t really give a shit about these super ripped dudes with big fucking guns bigger than their torsos fighting each other with the least of their physical ability and having a fucking four-page spread spandex talk-a-thon. It just wasn’t my thing. It’s sad that it ever was. Luckily, I was revived from my slumber. There were a few solid novels and trades that kept me in the game. Your usual suspects: Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Sin City, Frank Miller’s Batman, Loeb & Sale’s color series. I loved the art, and the combination of great art and great story can never be downplayed. For more of Keith’s Comics You Should Be Reading, head over to No Morals Anymore! Continue reading here for the rest of Keith’s review of Saga.
So here we are. For me to give a shit about your comic book, in my opinion, is an award in itself. I won’t mind telling you what a piece of shit your comic is—if I believe that to be the case. But I will also give respect where respect is due. The beautifully crafted epic of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples—aptly named Saga—is very close to becoming my favorite title right now. I won’t sit here and act like I was there on day one for it. I wasn’t. And I’m not going to pretend like I was on some forum telling everyone to look out for this shit before it dropped. I’m not that guy. I think every story needs to be told, but I also don’t think I need to be the one to hear it first… or ever if it sucks. Things like this need a chance to mature and develop, at which point I have the lab rats, which I call the internet, let me know if it’s worth reading. So the word of mouth made it’s way to me, and I jumped in.
For the most part, the story is pretty basic. Love. That’s where the simplicity ends. Space trees, a dismembered ghost babysitter, homoerotic hallucinations by television-headed aristocracy, a polygraphic feline, interspecies relations. There’s more, but fuck, I mean isn’t that enough to get you a little interested? It’s extremely weird, but in the right way. Though I do feel like there could be a little too much eroticism (maybe to keep the M rating in tact). Then again, it seems to have worked out for them since the last issue was banned (for a brief period of time) from the iTunes Store. Although, I really think the banning was kind of bullshit since a gay porno money shot wasn’t even the worst thing to show up in the series at that point. I guess, looking at what I have just written, I might have just ensured that you are not going to read this title. That’s fair. It can be considered a warning of sorts. When you get to those parts, I don’t want you to feel like I weaseled you into this.
Even though it has some relatively immature shortcomings, which make it, as some would say, “edgy,” it also has a lot of good things going for it. Remember when I said it was about love? It’s true. I promise. Past all of the theatrics there are relatable characters. Lovable characters who have, in twelve issues, grown incredibly on me. Alana is a very strong, powerful female lead who’s attitude and demeanor are familiar and human. The same holds true for Marko, he is an idealist, a smart-ass, and sometimes thoughtless and clumsy (aren’t we all?). Their love for each other and their child drive the story. It’s Romeo and Juliet on the run. Both hunted by their own kind and finding solace in the pacifism that brought them together. Somehow driven by a Harlequin novel that holds a hidden anti-war message (I still can’t tell if this is a joke or not; either way, it’s another cog in a story that is already rich with satire). Honestly, there are just too many things to get into. I feel like I have written too much already, yet I feel like I could go on for quite a while longer and still be no further in explaining the depth of this title. I don’t want to ruin the story for you, so I’ll just let you find out for yourself. Issue #13 just hit shelves on August 14. Go get it, and pick up the trade paperbacks for Issues 1-6 and 7-12 to catch up.
If you’re a fan of AMC’s The Walking Dead, which returns with its fourth season on October 13th, I’m guessing you’ve already seen the Comic-Con trailer for the upcoming season. I’ve admittedly been refraining from discussing my analysis and speculations on what’s to come, since after all, it is only a four and a half minute trailer that is undoubtedly intended to mislead and confuse. Nonetheless, traveling, and my subsequent attempts to pass hours spent on airplanes, left me fairly caught up with the comic book series and also had me musing on what’s in store for next season. So without further explanation, here are some of my thoughts on The Walking Dead Season 4, based on the Comic-Con trailer, my knowledge of The Walking Dead comic book series, and comments from Gale Anne Hurd, Robert Kirkman, Glen Mazzara, and Scott M. Gimple that have in one way or another entered into my thought process. Also, although it should be fairly apparent by this point, if you’re not caught up through the Season 3 finale, this post is filled with spoilers. For more content like this, check out my new blog No Morals Anymore
Let’s first consider the overall direction the next season will likely take. From the interviews with production and cast since the Season 3 finale, I think it’s safe to say that the zombie threat, which took a bit of a backseat to the Prison/Woodbury conflict last season, is going to be thrust back into the focus. Remember how fucking scary Season 1 was? Seriously, I remember being rather jumpy after binging on the first few episodes to catch up. I really think they’re going to try to bring that feel back to the show. I’m expecting a lot more zombies coming out of nowhere and killing people, and a lot less people just miraculously surviving what should have been a deadly attack. I’m also expecting some sort of enhanced threat that makes the zombies more dangerous. To clarify, I don’t at all mean that the zombies are going to evolve or change in some way (please, no, that’s just stupid). I just mean that someone is clearly sabotaging the prison, making the walkers much more of a serious threat, even within the formerly safe fences, walls, and cell blocks.
That, brings me to my next point. Why did Rick bring this fairly large group of Woodbury survivors (mostly the elderly and children) to the prison? Well, first off, there are several ways to answer that question. From the writers’ and show runner’s perspective, it’s clearly a new pool of people to pick off. The zombie-related deaths significantly dropped off in Season 3, partially because there was no one left to kill. They continually had to bring in non-essential characters to kill off; otherwise, all the character development, group dynamics, and unfinished story arcs they had been working up to would crash to a halt. So practically speaking, in order to remind us that the zombie threat is still very real, they needed more characters to keep around long enough for us to care about before killing them off in masses. And there’s also the obvious fact that having more characters in the group allows for more human drama, more group tension, and more room for new conflicts and alliances. But all that aside, why did Rick, from a character’s perspective, bring the Woodbury citizens to the prison? I think it’s obvious, and has been said a number of times by now, that he did it in an effort to save Carl’s humanity and also to ground himself. Rick and The Governor were just two sides of the same coin: both killed innocent people, both lied to maintain control and power, both were slipping mentally, both were driven by loss, and both bore the burden of protecting their group. Rick could have just as easily turned out like The Governor, and I have no doubt that he realizes this. Moreover, I think he realizes that Carl may be on the path toward the same fate (though I myself have some serious reservations about this being true). So essentially, I believe Rick made this move to try to bring some sense of community and humanity to Carl’s life and to even let him be a kid again. I think it also reflects that he’s thinking long term, rather than just day to day. Ironically though, protecting and caring for others is, in many ways, what pushed Rick to some of his darkest moments and what set the Governor down his monstrous path.
So let’s now move on to Carl and what this all means for him. In my mind, Carl is no doubt pissed about Rick’s decision to bring the Woodbury residents to the prison. And honestly, fair enough, it’s pretty logical and I think I’d be pissed too. I think Carl is not going to like the changes that come with this new group’s presence. The trailer starts out showing Daryl, Michonne, Glenn, Tyreese, Sasha, Bob Stookey, and a college-aged kid named Zach together on a supply run. While this may seem arbitrary and insignificant, I really think it sets the tone for some things to come. What I mean is a shakeup in group dynamics. Moreover, with more adults and older kids joining the group, I think it’s a shakeup that will put Carl back on the sidelines (à la Season 1 and 2). Carl progressed a hell of a lot between Seasons 2 and 3. He really grew up, matured, and even took on more of a leadership role in the group (along with the respect and responsibility that came with it). With that in mind, I have no doubt that he will really resent going back to being treated like a kid (something I think will happen both because numbers allow and by direct efforts of Rick to preserve Carl’s childhood for his ultimate humanity). Moreover, I think this shakeup is going to create a lot of tension and jealousy. Zach is clearly older than Carl, but from Carl’s perspective, he hasn’t been in the group as long, maybe isn’t as skilled and practiced, and the age difference isn’t all that relevant. All the while, I think it’s likely that Carl will be left with the much younger children who are now part of the group, and we’ll see a lot of the resentment of that, similar to what we see in Carl from the comic book series. This rift I think could easily create Carl to become both jealous, enraged, and possibly even vengeful. If some of the kids who are a few years older than Carl begin going on runs with both Daryl and Michhonne, for example, I think it’s safe to say that Carl will get jealous, as both are characters that treated him like an adult, respected him, and grew close to him (that is, consider how Carl will react if they all of a sudden begin treating him like a child, per Rick’s wishes and his reversion into more of child role). Even more telling is the potential relationship between Beth and Daryl (or Beth and one of the new characters), which is undoubtedly going to fuel Carl’s jealousy and rage (Carl clearly has a crush on Beth). So this brings me to another point, I think the trailer really tries to make us think Daryl and Beth are together. I think it’s hard to say whether it’s an accurate portrayal, or whether she gets close with another character. However, I think for the story and character development, it makes a lot more sense for it to be Daryl. That is, people have been wanting a love-interest for Daryl, the writers have made several efforts to remind us that Beth is now over 18, and I just think it makes more sense in that they’ve spent more time together and gone though more experiences that would bring them close (as opposed to a brand new character).
Now if that’s all true, Carl is going to be livid, and I think he’ll direct his anger at those he cares about. So this of course brings us to the big mystery: who is sabotaging the prison? Is it Carl? I mean, we’re undoubtedly supposed to think it’s Carl (remember all the spoilers that someone very close to Rick is going to betray him?), but then does that make it too obvious to be true? The possibilities are really endless. Hell, it could be Rick in the midst of some self-defeating (or self-preserving, depending on how you see it) psychotic multiple-personality-like break. However, despite the fact that it is incredibly obvious (even too obvious), I really do think it’s Carl. I think he wants things to go back to the way they were, and in his mind, killing off the new group members and showing Rick that the prison is not safe will put the group back on the run and put himself back into a leading role in the group. On a slightly different note though, I really think Carl’s supposed missteps have been grossly over-played in the past few episodes. For example, to me, him killing that kid outside the prison was not a big deal at all. In fact, it was exactly what he had been taught to do. He gave the kid, who by the way was there to attack the prison and seemed older than Carl, a chance to drop his weapon. The kid didn’t comply and was moving in closer, so Carl shot him. Hershel really overdramatized it, and honestly, out right lied to Rick (by saying that the kid was dropping his weapon). Maybe he was complying, but I think it was unclear, and instead of taking a chance, Carl did what he had to do to stay alive. The only reason this is significant is just that it reaffirms that the writers are trying to tell us that Carl’s future may take a dark turn.
Just a few more quick thoughts before I give it a rest, I promise. I think one of the younger kids is going to kill another one of the younger kids, similar to when Ben killed Billy in the comic book series. This is just based on Carol teaching the kids how to use knives, the quick image showing two kids holding hands with a knife, and then Carol’s shock in response to something unseen. I think there may also be an incident that parallels Julie and Chris’s suicide pact based on Tyreese’s response to again, something we don’t yet get to see. I think Tyreese’s later state of indifference also lends some evidence to this. Most likely, it’d be someone close to Tyreese (perhaps his sister), but obviously, this is all just speculation. Lastly, I think the fact that they show the aforementioned scene were Tyreese seems detached and apathetic before then willingly going into a crowd of zombies that would, for any one else, spell out certain death, is really interesting. Clearly, they can show this because those who’ve read the comic will think he’ll survive, because it’s a similar to what happened to Tyreese when he cleared out the zombies in the prison’s gym (where he was assumed dead, but found alive in a pile of corpses). That, along with the fact that the show often nods to the comic book series while not adhering to the laws and outcomes of that storyline, leave it somewhat up in the air (though personally, I think it’s safe to say he survives, and soon after begins his recovery from whatever horrific event brought him to that state of detachment). I know there are tons of things I’m still forgetting to discuss, but I’ve already gone on far too long, so I’ll leave it at that for now!
Although I’m a bit particular with the comic books I collect and the series I actually keep up with, it should come as to no surprise that I’ve been very closely following, no quite obsessively, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, which is now two issues in. As most of you assuredly already know, this is the latest comic book series from the creator and writer of The Umbrella Academy, Gerard Way (formerly of My Chemical Romance), along with Shaun Simon (ex-Pencey Prep), and Becky Cloonan (Demo, DEMETER, and The Mire—speaking of, congrats on your recent Eisner, Becky!). It’s difficult to sum up what The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys is truly about, but on the surface it’s a story of heroes, villains, and a girl set in the post-apocalyptic California desert. The series picks up twelve years after the Killjoys gave their lives for what now seems to be a lost cause, save for one small glimpse of hope. The rest, you’ll just have to find out for yourself!
While it’s undoubtedly hard to deny that I have a fairly obvious bias, my thoughts on the series thus far are not in the least affected by it. This truly is an incredibly badass and unique series that I will vehemently recommend to both My Chem fans and non My Chem fans alike. However, I will say, if you are familiar with the Danger Days backstory, the history behind the comic, and the band’s connection to it, you will quickly find this work almost painfully meta (in a good way though, I swear). If not, however, you will nonetheless find an instantaneously captivating and addicting story that is both intriguingly original, yet unsettlingly familiar. Moreover, if you so choose, the series brings with it an expansive world, one which blurs the lines between reality and fiction, waiting for you to unearth and get lost in. Way’s writing is nothing short of lyrical, which only adds to the quick pace of this page turner. It’s writing that draws you into the story with ease, rushing you through each page, and leaving you wanting more. At least, that’s what I got out of it, and while I may have already had a connection to the story, this series truly takes on a life of it’s own and is superb even as a stand-alone (without Danger Days). I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on the third issue, which comes out next week (get it at your local comic book shop on August 14th), although I know it’ll fly by too quickly, leaving me even more desirous of the next chapter in the series. Check out Comic Book Resources’ recent preview of issue #3 below! For more content like this, check out my new blog No Morals Anymore
Check out Part IV of day one of my 2013 Vans Warped Tour coverage in Holmdel, New Jersey over on No Morals Anymore! I shot my first set of the day at 12:20 pm and my last one at 8:20 pm, all without stopping for a moment, and somehow managed to shoot 17 bands and over 9000 photos (all in just my first day on the Vans Warped Tour)! Needless to say, it took me a minute to sort through them all, but here they are! Part IV of my coverage features photos and set recaps of The Used, Memphis May Fire, and Black Veil Brides. Keep up with us over at No Morals Anymore for more 2013 Vans Warped Tour coverage brought to you by Keith and I.