Vids I Dig 379: Comic Tropes: Donny Cates: Writing About Addiction

From Comic Tropes’ YouTube description: Donny Cates is an up and coming young writer at Marvel Comics, writing Venom, Thor, Guardians of the Galaxy and more. This video takes a look at his history interning at Marvel, studying at the Savannah College of Art and Design, and getting his work published at Dark Horse Comics and Image Comics as he broke in. Specifically, this video analyzes the themes Donny Cates writes about which include father issues and addiction issues.

Comic Review: Hellboy In Mexico

Published: April 26th, 2016
Written by: Mike Mignola
Art by: Mike Mignola, various

Dark Horse, 151 Pages

Review:

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this trade paperback but I like Hellboy and I like stories that take place in Mexico. Add in some lucha libre elements and I’m definitely sold!

This is an anthology collection of short stories that cover a five month period where Hellboy was in Mexico.

Overall, each chapter is a pretty cool and amusing tale. We see our hero enter the lucha libre world, as well as battling all sorts of supernatural monsters.

You don’t really need to read this in any sort of order with the regular series of titles, as it sort of happens on the side. But for fans of the series, this is certainly worth a look, as it features that great Mike Mignola art and writing style and the setting makes this a pretty unique and refreshing read within the larger Hellboy tapestry.

This did fly by though, at just 151 pages, and it made me wish that there were more Hellboy in Mexico stories to tell or that some of these would’ve been expanded upon more.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: other Hellboy comics.

Comic Review: Concrete, Vol. 1: Depths

Published: August 9th, 2005
Written by: Paul Chadwick
Art by: Paul Chadwick

Dark Horse, 210 Pages

Review:

A character in this comic spoke the line, “Hasn’t the world shrunk too much to allow such romanticism?”

That’s a good question. However, what’s even more telling is that this story was originally published in 1987, years before the Internet made the world even smaller.

Point being, Concrete is a very thought provoking and introspective comic series, the bulk of which is the author putting himself into the shoes of the character, a man that has been transformed into a giant rock solid humanoid. I guess he’s similar to Marvel’s The Thing but these aren’t superhero comics and are actually more about human drama with some comedy bits worked in.

Sure, this is science fiction but most of that is just there to explain the origin of “Concrete” and to showcase how the government feels the necessity to constantly run tests on him in an effort to figure out what exactly he is and if he can be beneficial to them in some way.

All the stories collected here are very human and they feel very personal. Honestly, this was a really endearing and refreshing read.

What also makes it work so well is the art, which is pretty soothing and calming. The style helps the reader slide into the mind of the title character, sharing his sort of inner softness and innocent view of the larger world outside of his rock hard body, which acts as a true physical barrier between him and the rest of the living world.

Concrete is a hard comic to describe and frankly, I just think that people should read it. It’s unique but it’s also emotional and sweet.

This first collection was a strangely enchanting read that makes me want to pick up the other volumes. I’ve owned the first three series in their original single issue format for years. I’ve always been attracted to the art but I really missed out on not reading them sooner.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: other off-beat indie comics of the same era: Cerebus, Madman, Bone, etc.

Vids I Dig 184: For the Love of Comics: ‘Lone Wolf and Cub’: The Gallery Edition – Making a Masterpiece

From For the Love of Comics’ YouTube description: Dark Horse Comics’ Gallery Edition of Lone Wolf and Cub, the classic manga from Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima, is a marvelous showcase of the tremendous craft and composition of the series. By presenting over 150 pages of original art reproduced in the original size and ‘colours’, this large edition celebrates the making of a comics masterpiece. This video features a close look at this book, along with a commentary and analysis on how not just fans but newcomers would be well served by the almost-unspoken thesis here: this was no accident; panel by panel over 8000 pages, Koike and Gojima crafted a lyrical, sorrowful, and cinematic comics epic. This includes a major-spoiler-filled look at the final chapter of this saga, reproduced in the Gallery Edition in its entirety.

Comic Review: Joe Golem: Occult Detective, Vol. 2: The Outer Dark

Published: June 5th, 2018
Written by: Christopher Golden, Mike Mignola
Art by: Patric Reynolds, Dave Stewart

Dark Horse, 137 Pages

Review:

Overall, I’d have to say that this chapter in the Joe Golem series is pretty consistent with the first.

This comic book has several things I love in it and while I do enjoy it, I’m not digging it as much as I had hoped. Still, this is kind of cool and unlike just about everything else on the comic store shelf.

The story here follows a new case but looking at the bigger picture, it reveals more about the main character, as well as his dream-state flashbacks.

What’s strange, is that I find the flashbacks to be more interesting than the main stories in this series. I want to know what the visions means and how they are going to play out.

Sadly, the cases the detective works kind of get in the way of the parts of the story I enjoy more.

That being said, this is a cool, original idea and despite not being fully on board with it, it’s better written than most comics in the modern era.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other Joe Golem comics, as well as Mike Mignola’s Hellboy and B.P.R.D. series.

Comic Review: Frank Miller’s Sin City, Vol. 2: A Dame to Kill For

Published: 1993-1994
Written by: Frank Miller
Art by: Frank Miller

Dark Horse, 212 Pages

Review:

Well, damn…

I guess this is an example of Frank Miller’s consistency being an issue with me. I didn’t think it started this far back but after digging the first Sin City story, this one missed its mark, fell flat and if I’m being honest, was a total let down.

There are five more volumes after this one but A Dame to Kill For took the wind out of my sails and I’m not too enthused about continuing on.

The strange thing is that I can’t really peg why this story didn’t resonate with me like the previous one. It just felt like it rehashed some things and grasped on to some tropes too hard. But they really shouldn’t be tropes just after one story but I’m assuming this relying too heavily on familiarity is going to be an issue in the other stories as well.

Compared to the first book this was also kind of boring and became so overloaded with characters it was hard to remember who was who and what the hell was happening. This just felt like a convoluted mess.

The art style is the same as the first story but it actually feels less refined here and it almost looks rushed.

I don’t want to come off as an asshole and completely shit on this book but I’ve got to call a turd a turd.

It barely held my attention, it nearly put me to sleep and it was hard to look at where the original story looked much better in regards to the art.

Rating: 4.75/10
Pairs well with: the other collected volumes of Sin City.

Comic Review: Joe Golem: Occult Detective, Vol. 1: The Rat Catcher and The Sunken Dead

Published: 2015-2016
Written by: Christopher Golden, Mike Mignola
Art by: Patric Reynolds

Dark Horse, 138 Pages

Review:

I’ve been wanting to read the Joe Golem comics for quite awhile. I figured, what better time to start than the month of Noirvember?

What really attracted me to these comics is that they have a really old school pulpy vibe to them that taps into two major pulp magazine genres: horror and crime.

Add in the fact that Mike Mignola was involved in the creative process and I was already sold.

Overall, this was pretty enjoyable and a good introduction to the character and the world he inhabits, which is a version of New York City that is halfway underwater. It’s also full of all types of occult threats, which see our title character, a private investigator, go toe-to-toe with some weird stuff.

I love that this has some Lovecraftian flavor to it in subject matter, visual style and narrative tone.

This chapter in the series sets everything up but it is still two tales that are both entertaining and engaging as standalone stories.

This didn’t set my tits on fire, if I’m being honest, but it did make me want to read beyond this first installment. So I’m hoping that as the Joe Golem series movie forward, it finds its footing a bit more and gives me a series I can happily return to every time a new story is published.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other Joe Golem comics, as well as Mike Mignola’s Hellboy and B.P.R.D. series.

Comic Review: Frank Miller’s Sin City, Vol. 1: The Hard Goodbye

Published: 1991-1992
Written by: Frank Miller
Art by: Frank Miller

Dark Horse, 210 Pages

Review:

My first experience with Sin City was seeing the 2005 movie when it hit theaters.

At the time that the original comic was coming out, I was aware of it but I was still a pre-teen obsessing over bright, colorful, ’90s superhero comics.

It wasn’t until I got older that I started to get more into film-noir and crime fiction.

Still, I never actually picked up Sin City until now.

I’ve got to say though, the film, at least the Marv stuff, was a beat for beat retelling of this story. That’s not a bad thing, as I loved that the Watchmen movie was very close to the source material.

If you have seen the film already but haven’t read this, there isn’t much in the comic that isn’t in the film. But if you appreciate Frank Miller’s Sin City world, you really should experience it in its original form and in the medium it was designed for.

That being said, I like the comic, at least this first volume, more than I like the movie.

Miller wrote a solid, compelling mystery and his art style is really unique. This feels more like it is pure noir than a lot of the other neo-noir comics of the last quarter century or so.

While I’m not a die hard Miller fan, this is one of his best pieces of work. This was created when the guy was just making magic on a regular basis.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: the other collected volumes of Sin City.

Top 30 Comic Series That Aren’t Marvel or DC

Marvel and DC have the comic book market pretty much on lockdown. They are the Coke and Pepsi of their industry and probably always will be. That being said, there are a ridiculous amount of great comic books out there that don’t fall under the Marvel and DC banner. This is a list of my thirty favorite comic books series put out by the smaller and more independent comic book publishers.

1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
2. Cerebus
3. Maus
4. Hellboy
5. Bone
6. The Walking Dead
7. Love & Rockets
8. The Fade Out
9. Star Wars (the Dark Horse era)
10. Madman
11. Spawn
12. Hawaiian Dick
13. Kill Or Be Killed
14. The Wicked Righteous
15. It Came Out On a Wednesday
16. Hack/Slash
17. Fatale
18. The Umbrella Academy
19. Red Sonja
20. Wolverton: Thief of Impossible Objects
21. Vampirella
22. Scud, the Disposable Assassin
23. Jawbreakers
24. The Maxx
25. Iron Sights
26. Feast Or Famine
27. Doctor Who (IDW era)
28. Tokyo Ghost
29. Cyberfrog
30. Black Hammer