Wednesday Adventures 3rd April

Comic spotlight, First Impressions, Uncategorized

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A brief weekly rundown of recommendations of new releases I’m intrigued by, excited for and will be grabbing off the shelves to curl up with every new comics day before delving into them later in the week!

Have you hugged your local comic store owner today?

 

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Giant Days 49- Boom Studios

Five years,fifty issues and Allison’s Giant Days is still one of the funniest,laugh out loud comics on the stands. Entering their final year of University, Esther,Daisy and Susan are still as sharply written as ever as they tackle new challenges and changes to their lives and friendships. Issue 49 has Esther finally trying to finish her dissertation “The Liminal Spaces Of The Great American Novel 1959-1980” and finds herself struggling before returning to her own run down home town for some inspiration.

 

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Spider-Gwen: Ghost-Spider 7- Marvel Comics

Sometimes a character becomes so entwined with a creative team it’s difficult to imagine them being handled by anyone else. None so more than Spider-Gwen with it’s creators Jason Latour‎ and Robbi Rodriguez who brought her into the pages of Marvel in such a stunning and affectingly simple way that branded them both onto their initial run that even the recent ‘Into the Spiderverse’ movie drew very heavily from the pair in both character and visual look, choosing to have her gracefully dive into the streets of the vibrant streets of her big apple,straight from the page.

So it’s been a weird ride seeing her guided through her adventures by someone new,namely artist Takeshi Miyazawa and writer Seanan Mcguire given the unenviable task of taking Gwen in a new direction. I’m pleased to say they pull this off and Gwen’s title still remains one of the most thrilling on the shelves.

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War of the Realms 1- Marvel Comics

The next big event starts here! Nothing will ever be the same again! Yadda yaddda, you know the drill. Sarcasm aside I personally love a huge line wide sprawling event and I can think of no one better to pen such an Thor flavoured crossover than Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman who have been killing it on the Asgardian side of things for around five years now taking the entire cast of characters on wild and unexpected adventures.

As Malekith the Accursed and his forces invade Midgard it’s up to the heroes to do what they do best,band together and fight him the best they can which from tantalizing previews will include some intriguing team ups (She-Hulk, the Punisher, Blade and Ghost Rider anyone?) the usual powered up all out slugfest as well as some war like espionage with another set of seemingly mismatched heroes.

 

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“You’re all just saying words. Idiot words”- Max Dlabick’s queer webcomic André and Karl

anthro, anthropomorphic, artist spotlight, comic, Comic spotlight, Uncategorized, wbcomic

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This is a song with the same four chords
I use most of the time
When I’ve got something on my mind
And I don’t want to squander the moment
Trying to come up with a better way
To say what I want to say

John Darnielle

Max Dlabick (pronounced duh-lay-bick as his website helpfully points out! )is the self described “queer, trans” artists behind the frenetic slice of life web comic loonacy that is Andre and Karl. Centred around the eponymous pair, a musician and artist respectively along with their friends including budding actress and Andre’s partner Kim, musician Jack and the unemployed fancy rat Clinton among others,Following their day today exploits in life, work, love and the pairs constantly un-named and re-named band.

Max’s creation is a webcomic that has a rough and ready, DIY zine aesthetic that perfectly compliments it’s subject matter,giving more a strong sense of capturing a time and place,more concerned with  locking a sense of place, person or feeling onto the pager rather than technical accuracy, which his gorgeous illustration work is the lush polar opposite of! Immediacy is key here and they have a fevered, frantic “this literally just happened!” feel to them that gives them a sense of urgency.

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Early strips are super sketchy and a little more in your face and snarky, but quite early in it feels like Max discovered a strong and confident voice with the later strips gradually starting to show off the introspection and self questioning lives of the characters that has become the strongest part of a comic with queer identity baked right into it’s core. As they grown and develop the comic hits it’s stride with Max seemingly more comfortable talking about the subjects he want’s to address or explore, such sexuality or gender identity. The latter shown through our lead feline Andre finding it difficult to understand himself often with the exasperated sigh of “gender stuff”.

These strips are self deprecating funny and unafraid to poke some light mocking in the direction of his characters and just how complicated it can be not just navigating the world today, but yourself. Raw, rough and very funny Karl and Andre is a perfect snapshot of a group of friends each trying to find themselves, and connecting with those around them.

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Max’s artwork lives over at his personal art site while Andre and Karl can be read here and supported over at Patreon.

 

 

Doe! A Deer! A Gay Disas-deer!- Olive Brinker’s hilarious and Heartfelt Rae The Doe comics

Uncategorized

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Becoming a true LGBT icon takes time right? You need time to immerse yourself in the pop culture and percolate for a while surely? Icons,especially trans one don’t spring out of nothing,do they? Maybe it’s a bit premature to call Doe a dyed in the wool icon already (something I’m sure she’d refute before hiding and blush furiously about!) but after springing up a little over a year and 200 comics ago she has gained a huge fanbase and it’s hard to deny the growing impact the comic has had.

Last year the shy, socially awkward and antlered doe appeared on the scene with her overwhelmingly enthusiastic look at navigating between the cis and trans spheres in her life with a wry eye and head full of puns and anxiety. Mostly anxiety. If anything she’s strode in and made planting your flag or setting up your stall seem damn right easy “Rae the Doe is my… fifth? attempt at a webcomic” clarifies Olive Brinker, the trans artist and mind behind the doe in question and her colourful entourage, only emphasising her dedication and effort to making it look so effortless “I was at work, standing behind the register, when I thought of the joke for the first comic, “virgo” being short for “virgin”. I thought the punchline of “I’m celibate and proud!” was so funny that I just had to make it. And I thought to myself “You know what? I have a bunch of other good comic ideas too. I should make a comic.”

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It was the terrible pun that launched the first few hundred of the comics featuring the shy doe,wracked at times with social anxiety and freshly out of the closet (or bursting out of a cake,much more this doe’s style, more on that later!) introducing us to her word and her friends, including her polar opposite and skunk girlfriend, Mimi as well as others. Rae the Doe and her creator Olive have a strong, confident and established voice already with the strips tempering it’s more serious subjects with a cheeky irreverent humour, but never pulling it’s punches “I am beyond surprised. When I first started the comic, I had zero expectations for where it would go” Brinker says about how much Rae has resonated with people in such a short time “Rae the Doe started as a warm-up exercise for my thesis film, Graveyard Shift. I didn’t have any expectations for the comic outside of what it provided me: a creative outlet outside of my film. Rae was a deer because my fursona was too. She was originally supposed to be a blank slate character. She didn’t even have a name until the fourth comic. Everything about Rae the Doe we know today kind of just developed over time”

The strips range from the topical to the downright silly, with everything in-between spotlighting Olive’s interests from gaming (vintage and new),comics and the Unionisation of workers in multi-national billionaire owned corporation. Not even the shelled and wealthy mogul Elon Mollusk can escape the single eyed questioning glare of this doe! “I think my favourite characters to write for are Cybil and Lottie”of Rae’s Moth and Possum pals “There’s something that’s very fun about their obliviousness and love for trash. One of my favourite of Olives strips features the pair, and while I love the more seriously slanted strips, some of the ones that have Brinker unleashing her impressive wordplay and love of language that have me in stitches every time .Switching up the style of strips like this shows once more how unpredictable her own creation can be at times “There was one morning where I had a very small window of time to make a comic, so I had the idea to make a comic which is intentionally unfinished as a joke. It’s probably the quickest Rae the Doe comic I’ve ever made, and it ended up getting 12,000 likes on Twitter. That’s just how it works sometimes!”

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Playing with anthropomorphism is what furs do best and there is a strong element of that in Olive’s comics, with species differences and appearances being used to reflect real life and communicate her own experiences. Rae has antlers, it’s the kind of playful detail that’s super important for some readers coming into the comic but will fly completely under the radar for others “At some point, early into making the comics, someone pointed out that does usually don’t have antlers, unless they’re reindeer” says Brinker on Rae’s development into a trans character and even how what is a large part of it’s appeal was still in question at first  “That’s when I realised that I could make Rae trans. It never really occurred to me before that moment it was even an option, if that makes sense”. Addressed directly in the comic when another Doe questions them, Olive turns this cringe worthy question into a sharply funny comic,diffusing it with humour and proving there can be trans humour in comics  that doesn’t punch down.

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“Making the six “Rae Comes Out” comics the week after my own coming out was massively cathartic. I decided to have Rae’s gender reveal coincide with my own because I was worried that if I announced that Rae was trans when I was still in the closet, everyone would realize that I was trans, too. After all, Rae is heavily based on me. It’d be a pretty big hint that I was also trans if Rae came out before I did. I never thought I’d be able to come out as trans. It’s something that’s filled my life with anxiety for years and years now. The night before I came out as trans, I had such a bad anxiety attack I could barely breathe, and didn’t sleep at all that night. Taking those very painful feelings that have haunted me for years and turning them into wholesome comics was amazing for me. And a lot of trans people reached out to me to say that Rae coming out meant a lot to them. I never expected for it to have that sort of response, and it’s one of the things I’m most proud of as an artist. That I can make other trans people feel good with my work”

 Rae the Doe can be read entirely here and is updated Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. You can support Oliver via her patreon page.

 

Wednesday Adventures 13th March

Uncategorized

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A brief weekly rundown of recommendations of new releases I’m intrigued by, excited for and will be grabbing off the shelves to curl up with every new comics day before delving into them later in the week!

Have you hugged your local comic store owner today?

 

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Assassin Nation #1- Image Comics

Brought to the attention of a wider audience as the artist who,along with writer Ryan North brought fan favourite and heavy hitter Squirrel Girl back into the punchy rumble and tumble of the Marvel Universe as one it’s major players,the two times Eisner winner Erica Henderson hasn’t been content to sit and bask in the awards glow and this Wednesday debuts a new series with Rick and Morty comic scribe Kyle Starks. Retiring from the business of travelling the world, meeting new people and knocking them off, Assassin Nation has the worlds greatest hitman hires twenty of the meanest and most ruthless assassins to protect himself and his new life.

Back in the day I used to cover music, especially up and coming bands and Henderson is one of a handful of fairly new creators that have managed to capture in their comics works, that feeling of following a new band find and refine their sound. While the clean, simple lines and composition found in the early pages of the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is what first dew me to Henderson’s art, by the time thirty one issues (and an original Graphic Novel don’t forget!) it was clear she was already stretching her artistic talents into more elaborate and experimental style. Assassination Nations debut cover, with it’s elaborate twenty hit-man standoff hints at more of this to come and sounds like the perfect fit for a book pitched as a bombastic mix of Deadpool style irreverence and Hot Fuzz comedy action hijinks.

 

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Age of X-man: Apocalypse and the X-tracts #1-  Marvel Comics

One thing that Marvel has going for it is the sheer mind bogglingly number of fasinating supporting characters it has. Not just heroes, characters, and it’s some of the lesser used obscure ones that I’ve been drawn to in the past So any X-Men event featuring Eye Boy, Idie and especially pink paraffin coated cutie Herman Glob as being essential to the action, perhaps the only mutant to know of the warping of reality will be high on my pull list. While the series so far hasn’t attempted to be as ground breaking or have the”nothing will be every be the same” bombast as previous events it’s been an enjoyable romp of titles and refreshing to see something on a smaller things,mixing things up for the sheer joy of it.

Seely and Espin’s Apocalypse and the X- tracts has the event evoking the cultural image of 60’s free love as one of the worlds most powerful mutants, the ancient and terrifying Apocalypse, finds himself radically reinvented for this new homo superior dominated world now with the unenviable position of teaching the world to love again in a world bereft of familial or romantic relationships of any kind. Throughout the series there has been a fascinating meta level idea in presenting a peaceful but bland world due to the soap opera level romantic drama that has been a staple of the X-men landscape since the Claremont days being noticeably absent. Presented as being both mutantkinds’ (and the X-men books in general) greatest asset and also the one thing that constantly throws a cosmic spanner into the works for it’s assorted players.

While another event might elicit groans from a lot of fans, Age of X-Man has thus far been an enjoyable little self contained romp showcasing a lot of the lesser used mutant characters and sets itself apart with its refreshingly unique anti-dystopian world in which the X-Men ultimate goal is twisted and distorted in a careful what you wish for.

 

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Calamity Kate #1- Darkhorse Comics

With barely time to digest the gripping world of magic and struggle for identity in her last series Sex Death Revolution,GLAAD nominated writer and mind behind the boundary expanding Eternity Girl, Magdalene Visaggio returns to the shelves along with IDW’s Ghostbusters and X-Files artist Corin Howell with another fantasy world to dive into on the pages of Calamity Kate.

In a world regularly beset with monsters, our protagonist Kate moves out to LA to escape her previous life and become the hero she has always wanted to be. Characters desperately trying to eak out a new life or new identity is already a strong recurring theme in Visaggio’s work, although she always presents it from a fresh new perspective with each title, time exploring a new facet of a huge and difficult subject. Kim and Kim proved Visaggio can handle wild, no holds bared action and Calamity Kate looks like a return to something with a more straightforward action hook after her more personal and contemplative works.

 

“We are running from the void,straight into the void” Nihalism straight from the mouths of Aiden GD Moore’s darkly laconic lagomorphs

anthro, anthropomorphic, artist spotlight, comic, Comic spotlight, Uncategorized

bunniesEvents such as Thought Bubble are by far perfect occasion to discover new art,comics and creators in person and break out of the twitter and online gallery bubble, so once again this year I was again scouting around the numerous marquees for interesting and new books and comics, admittedly with maybe an eye extra open for something anthropomorphic! This year was another spectacular convention and it didn’t disappoint in terms of discovering talent that was new, to me at least. One that stood out and fit the bill very neatly thank you, was a book entitled Nihilistic Bunnies and it’s creator Aiden G Moore who in a flash of cross marketing/cosplay genius was dressed head to toe in a sparkly, queer rabbit getup.

As I said, it’s new to my eyes at least with Aiden actually releasing the book sometime last year and I’m surprised I’d not heard of it before. He presents a beautifully produced gallery of cutely sketched rabbits all being suitably adorable, each one oddly juxtaposed with some dark and well, Nihilistic phrases that tickled that skewered, pitch black part of my brain. They all illicit a wry, sadistic chuckle from the downbeat world view they espouse, with the most optimistic being “but carrots still taste good” in reply to another bunny declaring “life is meaningless”.

bunny2   Moore has also used anthropomorphic characters in his comics work with the completely wordless Occult Trash Raccoons, a short comic in which Raccoons turn to the dark arts and proficiency in arcane magical rituals in order to get their paws on trash that in a dozen or so pages crosses from cutesy animal shenanigans to full on occult nightmare fuel. Aiden also returns to rabbits, representing himself as a bunny again in two slice of life comics, Ode to Customer Service, which collects his account and others of working in the treacherous and often thankless world of retail, detailing the funny, saddening and rude customers that come along with the territory. Bunny Book, an autobiographical work previously published in Boston Comics Roundtable ‘Being True this year and also exhibited at the ‘Inside Job’ exhibition at the Tate Modern delves into gender presentation and recounts his experiences of expressing himself as a feminine trans male. a4-page2a4-page1 Working across a slew of other mediums as well as comics I’d recommend their work for anyone with a penchant for anything spooky, cute or occult!

You can find more of Aiden’s work over at aidengdmoore.com or support him on Patreon.

Wednesday Adventures 14th November

Uncategorized

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A brief weekly rundown of recommendations of new releases I’m intrigued by, excited for and will be grabbing off the shelves to curl up with every new comics day before delving into them later in the week!

Have you hugged your local comic store owner today?

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Time is an illusion that helps things make sense
So we are always living in the present tense
It seems unforgiving when a good thing ends
But you and I will always be back then”

Adventure Time: Season 11- Kaboom

I never knew how much I’d miss this show until the last notes of come along with me played out, leaving an Adventure time shaped hole in my life. It’s a show that I’d watched and shared with countless friends over the last eight years, growing alongside it as it morphed into something surreal on a much bigger scale, adding a continuing story and deeper mythos. While you could’t wish for a more perfect and melancholic ending to such  weird and wonderfully surreal series than this years conclusion it’s great to see Kaboom picking up where “Come along with me” left of as Finn and Jake carry on their lives and the cycle begins again.

Continuations are always tricky but Adventure time always set a particularly high benchmark for spin off media that it managed across a quite frankly crazy amount of comic titles and has seen some of the best writers and artists in the business, both established and up and coming lend their talents to the beloved series. Season 11 has Sonny Liew on writing duties and art by Marina Julia (who has worked on Lumber Janes and Adventure time already) who both hit the right note with issue one, already keeping up with the whimsical yet bittersweet status quo setup by the shows ending.

 

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Cosmic Ghost Rider- Marvel Comics

Come for the wacky and ridiculous premise, stay for the genuinely touching tale of fatherhood and redemption? Donny Cates is all over Marvel at the moment and it’s not hard to see why he’s hot stuff right now. From the Inhumans to Doctor Strange or kicking of a new revamped series of Marvel Knights he’s one of the best and most prolific writers taking characters in some fascinating new directions.

Spinning out of the pages of the Thanos solo series, Cates took a concept that could have descended into an overpowered one note joke and crafted what is easily one of the best Punisher stories in years. Having kidnapped a baby Thanos from his crib, Frank Castle has a change of heart, deciding to teach the tiny future tyrant the error of his ways and give them both a second chance. Perhaps not the best place to jump on, being the end of the series and all,but a strong recommendation for a series to catch up on or to pick up in trade when it drops in January.

 

 

Wednesday Adventures 7th November

Uncategorized

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A brief weekly rundown of recommendations of new releases I’m intrigued by, excited for and will be grabbing off the shelves to curl up with every new comics day before delving into them later in the week!

Have you hugged your local comic store owner today?

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Green Lantern 1- DC Comics

After a groundbreaking run breaking down and rebuilding the Batman mythos and then making a grand statement about about DC’s universal structure in the Multiversity, Morrison announced that he was stepping away from DC and superheros in general for the time being. Even with a Heavy Metal relaunch and a retelling of the Santa Claus story he didn’t stray far from the capes penning both Wonder Woman: Earth One and then a Batman one shot this year. However it seems that incanting the oath of the fearless Green Lantern Corp that has brought him back into the superhero fold properly as this week he sends intergalactic lawman Hal Jordan back onto his cosmic beat with art from Liam sharp. Pairing Morrison with such an out there cosmic concept seems like it should have been done a lot sooner and the only way this could be more perfect for me is if Larfleeze shows up.

Green Lantern along with Darkest night was what brought me back into comics after a long time away, and while I’d fallen out of love with the title along with most of DC’s line after the New 52 Shake up. Even with such a low key and subdued pitch, one that sounds ludicrously down to Earth for a Morrison idea, the master of reinvention has definitely got me back on board with an old favourite.

 

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Auntie Agatha’s Home for Wayward Rabbits- Image Comics

From the comic book veteran who has worked his way across both the DC and Marvel Universes and back again multiple times in his forty year career, creating the likes of Lobo and Ambush Bug along the way returns to Image for a story of…dysfunctional bunnies?

A dark comedy featuring a colourful and varied cast of weird and wonderful lapins living in a home set up by Auntie Agatha that is in danger of being torn down in true movie villain style, by non other than a shady profiteering businessman. Agatha’s niece Julie takes on the day care of the ill adjusted residents, guarded by a rabbit mask wearing, species confused watchdog with a blend of dark and whimsical. For a creator who has fully immersed himself in the fictional worlds of the big two, this is both an unexpected return to both Image comics and creator owned work with an adorable idea that already feels like a lot more charming and personal project.

 

 

“History never really repeats itself, but it sure does rhyme a lot” Looking back with Mark Russell on his Hannah Barbera books and the Green Lantern Huckleberry Hound Special

anthro, anthropomorphic, comic, interview, Uncategorized

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If you had to think of comics that are political Green Lantern, with it’s Intergalactic Space cops who diligently patrol a whole sector of space as their “beat” with the aid of magic rings, might not be one that instantly springs to mind as somewhere to discuss the issues of the day. Yet Denny O’Neil did exactly that with his famous run in the 1970’s which paired DC’s two green themed heroes, Lantern and Arrow. A politically charged road trip across America in which the usually confident and head strong lantern has to face harsh realities of his countries social climate.

This week however writer Mark Russel returning to a 70’s setting and the books socially conscious leanings, teams up the Green and the Blue this time around, when veteran Solider and rookie Lantern John Stewart is drawn into a partnership with down on his luck canine comedian, Huckleberry hound. “So you have the young idealistic Lantern meeting up with a world-weary cartoon dog against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and Watergate. Seems like they might have something to talk about” Russell says, explaining what at first seems like a strange and unlikely pairing “Setting the crossover in the early 1970’s just seemed to make a lot of sense, because John Stewart is still at the beginning of his career, just learning how to be a Lantern, whereas Huckleberry is at the end of his. His cartoon cancelled and making a living on the “has-been circuit”, appearing on TV shows like the Hollywood Squares and hand-selling his comedy albums at stand-up gigs”

Maybe this crossover shouldn’t have been such a surprise from the writer of the criminally overlooked Prez; itself an updated spin on the original Joe Simon creation, Prez Rickard which while silly, fun and wildly inventive for it’s short run, never really took advantage of the Presidential angle beyond the teen president’s strong stance on gun control, settling for legless vampires and other comic oddities. Russel’s recent reinvention put the politics back into a book that was already a perfect fit for it, taking a sardonic look at 2000’s politics and how that works in the world of instant celebrity culture and quick fire social media. “It’s something I sort of got into by accident. DC offered me the chance to write The Flintstones based on the work I did on Prez” he says of his Teen President Beth Ross, whose time in office beat her male counterpart by two issues and led the writer onto his subsequent work with the Hannah Barbera stable of Saturday morning cartoon icons “What I’ve come to like about the Hanna Barbera characters is that they didn’t come in with a lot of backstory or continuity to worry about. Surprisingly, the Snagglepuss cartoons never included any flashbacks to his failed career in theatre or his broken relationship with his parents or anything like that. So I got to make all that stuff up”

 

It’s the looseness and simplicity behind this Saturday morning cartoon creations that has given Russell breathing to reinterpret and recontextulaize them, has writing some of the most striking and socially hard hitting comics of the last few years,both adding complex backstories to these beloved cartoon staples whilst staying true to the core of their characters. Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles framed the pink mountain lion as a less comedic, and much more melancholic soul leading a double life as  a successful and confident,Tennesee Williams type playwright forced to skulk and sneak his way into New York’s village against the backdrop of McCarthy witch hunts and the much less known about “Lavander Scare”, which sough out homosexuals casting them as subversives and communist sympathisers. It was the first time such a strong and overtly queer characterisation and story had been given to a character who had previously only been broadly gay coded, sweeping aside the snickering comments of the past and giving him a quiet, noble dignity “Snagglepuss’ gayness is not only central to his identity, but to his struggle against the institutions that are trying to destroy him. The entire story of Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles is built on two pillars. That he had a background in theater before he went into cartoons and that he was a gay man living in 1950s America” explains Russell on Snagglepuss’ portrayal as gay in this years Exit Stage Left and if he worried about any fallout from the decision “I don’t really worry about how people will react to modernizing or changing well-established characters. I just try to make characters who have depth and meaning for me and trust that other people will feel the same way about the character that I do” 

“I think stories resonate, not because we care about the time period in which they’re set, but because they’re populated by characters that are dealing with timeless human realities” Exit Stage Left encapsulates Russell’s outlook on storytelling perfectly. Shockingly for a comic set in the 50’s, with an underused character, is that it strongly and deeply resonates with the experiences of a queer audience in 2018. In a year that felt like it had been thrown head first into full reverse it expertly focused in and captured this feeling from the viewpoint of the LGBT community with pathos and heartbreaking tenderness “Whatever genre I’m writing, I basically ask myself the same questions. I want to know what it would mean to be that character and how to survive in a world that is trying to kill them” By adding things before or after their cartoon careers, in this world Snagglepuss and Quickdraw essentially serving as “actor”s on their respective cartoon shows, it has allowed Russell to add these in depth back stories and inner lives without casting aside the animations that made them so popular in the first place. For a story that ends on a hopeful but downbeat note, it makes the cartoons almost an act of defiance with the events of Exit Stage left in mind as the effeminate gay mountain lion perseveres and carries on with his life. It might be as a comedic and inoffensive version of his true self,but it’s close to it as he can get and Heavens to Murgatroyd does he live it. “I‘m much more interested in the conflict between a character and the world in which they live” Russell comments “The way they are expected to fall in line behind institutions that don’t care about them. About the ways they deal with their limitations and the apathy of the Universe by finding meaning in their work and in each other”

 

“Sometimes I’m accused of making a cult of my own sorrow” admits Huckleberry Hound, fellow Playwright and longtime friend of Snagglepuss in a moment of self depreciation. Huckleberry Hounds journey mirrors and then veers of wildly from our pink protagonist in one of the more heart wrenching moments in a book that already pulls no punches. Unable to weather the storm Huckleberry takes his own life, leading to Snagglepuss working with his son Huckleberry Jr who becomes the beloved star of screen and attains a sense of happiness his father never knew. For a while at least. Russell’s stories might be slightly unmoored from the history of the cartoons we watched as children but we are children no longer and the gentle continuity between his multitude Hannah Barabera books has  allowed for some fascinating new aspects to characters, based on their shared history in an adult world “There are references both to the father he never knew and the cartoon career that was just beginning at the end of Snagglepuss. This fact informed the character and influenced the story” tells Russell on Huckleberry, seen protesting side by side with the Green Lantern on the cover to this weeks special “Not only in terms of Huckleberry’s willingness to speak out, but also in terms of Huckleberry having to deal with the destruction of his career in show business, much the same way Snagglepuss had to. As it is sometimes said, and as John Stewart points out in this issue, history never really repeats itself, but it sure does rhyme a lot”

 

“I felt like there were a lot of parallels between that time and our own. Most notably, about people’s capacity to lie to themselves to keep fighting a war they know is unwinnable. To keep believing in a president they know is corrupt. About the futility of trying to control people through fear and brutality” Russell explains on the setting of the Green Lantern Huckleberry Hound special, the 1970’s and more specifically the Vietnam war. Huckleberry is down and out on his luck while the freshly recruited Green Lantern John Stewart returns home not to a heroes welcome but to distrust and hatred as he himself learns the difference between having power, and using power. In scenes that could equally have been ripped out of the headlines of either the 1975 or 2018, we see fearful residents calling the police to ‘deal with’ groups of black people. Making his prediction of history rhyming even further is Stewart retelling the story of his brother surviving two tours of a warzone, only to be felled by racist troops after less then 24 hours back in Detroit in the same week that holocaust survivor Rose Mallinger was shot dead with 10 others in her own synagouge. “The hard part, the part I regularly struggle with, is not in describing these realities so much as offering hope that we can overcome them” Russell offers on his tackling of such important and sensitive issues in his comic work “In the end, the best solutions I’ve been able to come up with are to self-medicate, not necessarily with drugs, but with beliefs and relationships that allow you to take meaning from your life and to not wait for institutions to change to start building the world you want to see in microcosm”
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Thank you to Mark Russell for agreeing to and finding the time to conduct this interview. The Green Lantern Huckleberry Hound was released Wednesday 31st October and Exit Stage Left the Snagglepuss Chronicles is available in trade paperback. You can follow him on twitter here.

Wednesday Adventures 31st October

Uncategorized

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A brief weekly rundown of recommendations of new releases I’m intrigued by, excited for and will be grabbing off the shelves to curl up with every new comics day before delving into them later in the week!; Have you hugged your local comic store owner today?

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Sex Death Revolution- Blackmask Studios

Transgender New York mage Esperanza discovers that someone or something is changing her past,with those around her describing terrible things she doesn’t remember doing in the new modern fantasy title from the writer of Kim and kim and Eternity Girl with art from Ladycastle artist Becca Farrow.

Described by Visaggio as a comic that she’s been working and ruminating on for close to two years, Sex Death Revolution is clearly a passion project for the writer as she explores themes of gender, identity and inner conflict within a modern fantasy setting. Although these are all themes she touched upon with the recent Eternity Girl series for DC, Sex Death Revolution looks set to delve head on into the subject with Visaggio stating that is “the most overtly trans thing I have ever written” and despite the fantasy elements sounds like a far more personal and grounded title from one of comics newest and most exciting voices.

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Green Lantern/Huckleberry Hound Special- DC Comics

By far the best example of properties that have fallen by the wayside being rejuvenated and reinvented for a modern audience is DC’s superb and suprising handling of the long dormant Hannah Barbera characters, in particular the works of Mark Russell. Far from modern cringey updates that just change the aesthetic to something more contemporary, instead Russell sticks far more faithfully to the original characters while still giving readers something exciting and fresh. Putting the subtext of theses cartoon staples into the foreground and letting them play out to their ridiculous, thought provoking and often heart breaking conclusions.

Tackling the absurdity of consumerism in The Flintstones and giving a fresh voice and dignity to everyone’s favourite pink mountain cat; Snagglepuss. This time around Russell teams up Blue with Green with the unusual pairing of Huckleberry Hound and the Green Lantern, John Stewart. Green Lantern has a strong history of politics within it’s pages since the Denny O’Neil run and it seems like both a sensible fit and an interesting twist going back to the time that was punished with a different lantern. It’s the last foray into the cartoon world of Hannah Barbera for the time being and I’m really excited to read what Russell does with the pair facing up against the challenges of the 1970’s,Vietnam and what similarities he will draw to now.

 

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Doom Patrol 12- DC Comics

It’s been a long time coming, admittedly not as long as Hotel Oblivion, but still a long time and thankfully this month heralds the welcome return of Way and his inventive take on DC’s misfit hero’s . With the majority of the imprints second wave winding down, Doom Patrols triumphant return most definitely fills the strange and bizarre Young Animals shaped hole that they have left in my pull list.

Billed as a low key issue following The Great Ludini and master of Gonzo magic, Lucius Reynolds in a D&D inspired adventure with his family along for the ride, clearly a fun filled calm before the storm before gearing back up next month Hopefully, wouldn’t want to speak to soon you know. Delays aside it’s fantastic to see Doom Patrol finally back on the shelves marking big things for the next story arc and fingers crossed, a lot more weird and wonderful comics for dangerous humans from the Young Animals imprint.

“The whimsical must harmonise the prosaic”- Simon Spurrier revisiting The Dreaming proves to be a dream come true

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Revisiting older properties, especially those that have cemented their place in comics history and a generation of readers is always going to be a tricky and precarious proposition. Like the silver screen, the comics industry big-wigs would rather play it safer and bet on known properties and while it’s thrilling to see new ideas, I can understand it. There’s something comforting in revisiting old friends and familiar worlds. The again follow ups have a tightrope of fan expectations to tip-toe across and at their worst can either stomp roughshod over the source material or slip off into monotony becoming stuffy and boring ,treating it with unmanageable reverence as some grand,untouchable work of art. The Dreaming is one of four titles spinning out of fantastical pages of The Sandman and while Spurrier, the writer of The Spire and Angelic clearly knows his way around Gaiman’s world, and true to form isn’t treating it with kid gloves.

“Just tell great stories.” Gaiman reportedly told the creators behind the new Sandman Universe titles, giving his blessing for a new set of creators to play in the Sandman toybox and not some sacred,untouchable title. Not that Sandman has ever been untouchable, not really. Already endowed with a slew of spin offs ranging from the acclaimed (Lucifer), the forgotten (The Dreaming’s first time around) to the truly overlooked and charming (Merv: Agent of Dream) not the mention the amount of times DC has tried to make Dead Boy Detectives stick and none of them have taken the shine of Gaiman’s original work. If anything it prove the exact opposite that such an expansive and complicated tapestry of  worlds, characters and creatures definitely has new stories to be woven into it.

Once again a new threat casts Dreams realm into chaos, only this time around the master of The Dreaming is once again missing as Spurrier cleverly decides to make it’s most powerful resident a complete absence in his story allowing other characters to come to the foreground and, perhaps for the first time in comics history, making the main character a mild mannered librarian as Lucien unwillingly steps up to fill the void left by his creator. In the series first two issues the spotlight is cast around the many denizens of the Dreaming and these characters immediately suit Spurrier’s cruder, cheekier and more irreverent style of writing. These are the people and creatures that while Dream, on the grand cosmic adventures of self exploration and discovery in the original Sandman run, dutifully kept the lights on, the machinery turning and the dream world in some semblance of orderly chaos. in the series second episode told from the perspective of Merv, pumpkin headed,blue collar Janitor and serial complainer who in this issue slips readily into a character we are seeing all too much in real life as he bemoans the arrival of new creatures and outsiders managing to give the issue a touch of real world relevance that somehow still fits seamlessly into the fantastical dark setting.

The series’ first two issues are bursting with striking little character moments that already really give this series a strong voice and hook. Issue one depicts Lucien,wearing Dreams helm and clearly rattled by being thrust so suddenly into a temporary position of power and deceiving the rest of the Dreaming. Spurrier presents us with the far more vulnerable and emotional side to characters that might have seemed a little lofty and otherworldly in other appearances, apart from Merv who remains his same old stubborn and steadfastly caustic vegetable headed self,even in the face of fantastical new threats. Most intriguing by far though is a new creation from the writer, Dora. A foul mouthed, wing eared enigma who has demonstrated a unique ability to travel between peoples dreams. More fiery and proactive then any of the supporting characters she also exudes a sense of melancholy behind her temper as lost and broken items are seemingly drawn to her, all the while keeping her distance from the castle and it’s residents. she fully embodies the tale of loss and longing that is being laid as the foundations for The Dreaming in it’s opening issues.

A rotating series of vastly different artists throughout The Sandman made the Dreaming a place that never looked quite the same twice,lending it an allusive, half remembered  dreamlike quality as if Dreams world was twisting and shifting around it’s master to his ever changing whims and moods. Bilquis Evely now joins the ranks of fantastic artists who have added their own perspective to The Sandman as she gives her take on the world of dreams that seems at any given time both familiar and unsettingly alien. As with the writing, she strikes the balance between the beautiful and the horrific from the explosive energy of lucid dreamers to the monstrous yet vulnerable depictions of Dora’s rage.

By taking the rich setting of the Sandman and it’s mythology as a basis for something new and exciting instead of a set of stuffy rules that have to be adhered to closely, Spurrier and Evely have created a comic that was as exciting to me as when I read Gaimian’s work years ago and uses a vibrant and distinct cast of fantasy characters to tell an achingly human story.

The Dreaming’s first two issue are available now, Issue 3 is released on November 7th