Archive for the ‘Independents’ Category

Review: “Parallel Man: Invasion America” #1

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

Full disclosure right up front.  Christopher “Chris” Jones is a friend that I see at the Midwest Comic Book Association cons in Minnesota, and we’ve known each other for about a decade.  We talk on Facebook, but I’ve never had him over for dinner or helped him move, so that’s made clear our level of friendship.

Not…I mean…it’s not like I’d deny him dinner if he was in town.

Chris has been making a name for himself as the go-to guy at DC Comics for comic books based on animated series.  From various Batman animated-style books to “Young Justice,” Chris has expertly captured the varying animated styles.  Because he’s a cartoony-style artist, right?

Parallel Man - Main character in action

Parallel Man – Main character in action

In an America conquered by China, a mobile refinery dwarfs other vehicles.

In an America conquered by China, a mobile refinery dwarfs other vehicles.

Washington DC is attacked by futuristic weaponry.

Washington DC is attacked by futuristic weaponry.

Actually…no.  He’s got a lot of art muscles he hasn’t been able to show off with his Cartoon Network assignments, and the new sci-fi book “Parallel Man” allows him to showcase his l33t skillz.

“Parallel Man” tells the story of one alternate Earth (The Ascendancy) that has decided to invade other alternate Earths to loot their resources and enslave their populations, and one renegade, Agent Morgan, who has other plans.  This first issue involves a chase sequence on floating bikes that takes place across several alternate Earths.

The science fiction isn’t really anything new to comics, where alternate Earths go back to the days of Gardner Fox, but the specifics of the premise are intriguing.  The action is exciting without being too violent.  Reading this, I began to realize how warped my expectations have gotten from the last 10 years of reading the increasingly gruesome violence of the DC Universe.  In one scene, the Ascendency grabs two suspects and I was surprised to see that it didn’t include a bloody execution!  (I hope that isn’t a spoiler.)  That’s actually rather refreshing.  It hearkens back to the days when comics were beautiful and action packed without death and dismemberment left and right.

Even if the story doesn’t trip your trigger, it is worth it for the art alone.  Chris gets to invent whole new worlds every few pages.  After a decade of needing to stick on-model for every TV imitation comic he was doing, it must feel good to cut loose…and I think it shows on the page.

You can order Parallel Man: Invasion America in comics shops right now with Diamond code Aug141505. Parallel Man #1 hits shelves October 8, 2014.  It will also be on Comixology. 

TMNT Entity, as a blog of note

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

In my ongoing pedantry I’ve been stuck on the idea (since I learned of it, probably from Elliot S. Maggin’s Superman novel Miracle Monday, I think) that the word “fan” meant “fanatic”, which meant there was a distinct difference between “I like this” and “I am a fan”.

So while I’ve certainly watched most of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoon shows, and a high percentage of the episodes I can definitely tell you that I am not a fan, as I never watched all of them.  I really really like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  It’s a great concept and it sprung from a comic book back in the early 1980s and from there it because three live action films from New Line, a cartoon from Fred Wolf Films that was both UHF syndicated and aired on CBS in later seasons simultaneously, a FOX children’s cartoon show made with non-union voice actors whose primary jobs were dubbing Japanese anime released in this country, a FOX Kids live-action television series made by the producers of the Power Rangers, a syndicated daily newspaper comic strip, a comic book series from Archie Comics spinning off of the 1980s cartoon series, an anime, a comic book series from IDW, a CGI-animated film, a straight-to-television animated film, prose novels for children, a Nickelodeon-owned CGI-animated cartoon series, a ton of action figure sets, each released for a different children’s cartoon series,  and that does not include all of the licensed merchandise like lunch boxes, mugs, t-shirts, tooth brushes, underpants, etc. Knowing that sounds like obsession.  Sadly remembering that information off the top of my head is how my brain works.  It collects and retains knowledge of useless stuff I learned decades ago with amazing retention of detail.  I think it’s a learning disorder because I’ve been meeting people lately and I swear that despite the familiarity they show I don’t even remember their faces (it’s probably less rude to be honest and ask how we last met rather than lie to them even convincingly).

Now because I like TMNT, a lot, but am not an actual honest to goodness fan, I only read TMNT Entity on occasion.  Mark Pellegrini is a fan, as in fanatic, and I will not fault him for it.  (And why should I fault him for it?  I’m a fan of Spider-Man and Batman, and certain eras of Star Wars and Transformers).  The man seems to have taste and his knowledge of the subject seems immense.  He is also extremely well-read in terms of the given material, as well as enough other things that we don’t have to worry about him not knowing if something is based off of something else.

I’m holding back a little, in part because there’s something else of his I want to praise later and give that more time.

As it is while Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a franchise is certainly well-known among cable-watching children today, and adults who were children in the eighties and nineties, with a viewing audience that sadly dwarfs the reading audiences of major comic book series, it is all still based on an series of comic books that were published by Mirage Comics. They were created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, at first as a spoof of Frank Miller’s Daredevil and then as an action adventure series with a side of comedy.  The average intended output was six issues a year and whose average actual output was four issues a year.  I’m fairly certain that as it was an independent comic book with that distinct flavor it sold less than Superman and X-Men and perhaps the people that were readers of only the Big Two back in the early eighties did not know it existed.  Or maybe they did.  I was born in 1981, what do I remember?

From the Mirage Comic was licensed a cartoon series and spun from that cartoon series was a comic book series published by Archie Comics, licensed from Mirage, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures.  So an independent comic with an erratic output beget a daily cartoon show beget a monthly comic book.  I’m fairly certain that the audiences for the two comics were such that it was not an actual competitive product, any more than the Super Friends comic was a competitor of the Justice League of America.

The Mirage Universe version of the Turtles made many many canonical appearances not simply in their own regular comic book (of which there were three volumes, or four depending on who you ask), but in various anthologies and Micro-Series one-shots, as well as numerous back-up stories.  In fact whenever Mirage published a reprinting of one of their issues they made certain that new material was included, usually back-up stories which fit into the overall continuity.

This makes recognizing/establishing a continuity of these characters a formidable task at best.  But the writer of TMNT Entity did it, right here.  Now as fascinating as I find the whole story, both of how the comic was made, how the company worked, and the events of the characters themselves, I still am not a fan of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, or any of the franchise as a whole.

But I liked it a lot.  I watched every episode I could as a kid. I thought the action figures were cool.  And so the TMNT burnt into my brain.

What do you feed a gay horse?

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Flaming carrots COMIC_flaming_carrot_30

it’s about ducks and dogs and Disney

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

A Guidebook to the Carl Barks Universe (test).


Sunday, January 9th, 2011

Metro Med featured on Comic Book Trailers home page!

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

After months of development, Metro Med’s trailer has hit the Internet!

I’m so excited that I can finally show this to you.  I was planning to upload it to YouTube and feature it on all of my web sites as an embed, but Comic Book Trailers posted it and featured it on their home page already, so I’m letting you all in early.

Enjoy…and I’ d be glad to hear any feedback you may have.

P.S. I’m planning on some revamps and updates for both and this weekend.  I’ll start selling Metro Med Special Edition #1 on Too Many Longboxes, for one.  I’m also adding some Project Wonderful banners.

Barack the Barbarian comic book from Devils Due

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

This sounds like it should be available in artist’s alley, photocopied and stapled, not available from Devil’s Due, an impressive company that has published the likes of G.I. Joe and Army of Darkness!  I’ve read such comics before, such as Rushman and Goretopia, and while entertaining they weren’t really mainstream rack-worthy.   That comic where Sean Hannity is a terrorist-fighter in the future sounded pretty far out, too.  I hope my meh-ing of comics whose message I would absolutely agree with makes it clear, this isn’t purely partisan.  I just think it’s absurd that a political screed is getting published at a level beyond that of Kinko’s.

“Join Barack, Sorceress Hilaria, her demigod trickster husband, Biil, Overlord Boosh and Chainknee of the Elephant Kingdom,” a promo from Devil’s Due Publishing teases.

“Bush, Cheney, McCain, Blago, Pelosi, Steele — they are all in there,” said Josh Blaylock, the Chicago-based publisher’s president.

Unmentioned in the article is that that looks like Ann Coulter on the cover.

And here’s Sarah Palin in a warrior bikini (this is the original post I read; hat tip also to IMAO).

How WEIRD is it to do a comic book about this?  And not in an election year, but as his administration is just getting off the ground.  I mean, the Democrats control EVERYTHING, and Barack doesn’t fight for anything, he rules from high atop a big pile of IOUs, but a big name second-tier comic company publishes a comic about his taking on his defeated, out-of-power political opponents (and apparently even commentators who god forbid should say anything against him) as an ass-kicking barbarian.

I can’t imagine a comic company doing this for any other president.  I’m not talking Z-grade stuff like “Reagan’s Raiders” (thanks for the info, Suedenim); this is a very well-known publisher.

Granted, comics have always been partisan.  Always.  It may have been more subtle in the 1980s, such as Nancy Reagan being a Manhunter or the “Reagan-Bush” memorial in Gilgamesh II being a gigantic stone dollar sign… sorry, I meant to say “subtle as a sledgehammer”…but even so, these were diversions.   There may be swipes at Reagan in “The Dark Knight Returns”, but that isn’t the point of the book.   Nobody ever published a book aimed solely at tickling the fancy of half the country and offending the other half.  You wonder if this Chicago-based company is just in such an inclusive bubble they have that “anyone who likes comics would be a Democrat” mindset that I’ve encountered many times.

Still, an entire comic book just beating up on the political enemies of the president, all in praise of a guy who grovels at the feet of our actual enemies, slices away at his own army and whose only resemblance to a barbarian is, sorry to have to mention it, in loosening the baby-killing rules?  (There, that will get the comments section hopping.)  I mean, much as I liked the guy and think he’d be more appropriate to a western, I could at least see how someone would picture George W. Bush as a barbarian and do a comic about that.   But Obama, the guy who slouched a year in a tropical paradise failing to write a book about his life before he’d even accomplished anything, a barbarian?  A guy so blase he makes Morgan Freeman look like Jim Carrey?

What’s next, Paris Hilton as Macguyver?  How about Stephen Hawking, Master of Kung-Fu?

Barack the Barbarian.  One can only conclude that they hit upon the name through alliteration and then nobody was around to say it was a feeble idea.

What are they smoking at Devil’s Due?   I wish I could say this was just a business-minded attempt at boosting comic book sales by aiming for the “we buy everything Obama” market, but it sure looks like Daily Kos whacking material.  Again, nothing wrong at all with such stuff getting published…it’s only the fact that Devil’s Due considered this worth putting out that is astounding.

I probably sound annoyed.  I’m not.  This thing will hit stands, do a little business and go away.  And as much as I hate the way the comic industry joined in the Barack Zombie March, I hope I’d be just as stunned and dismissive if a mainstream company was publishing a comic where John McCain turned into The Hulk.

My animations

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Here are some clips I made recently.

A test animation:

and a fan clip for the web comic Girl Genius:

Johnny Saturn!

Friday, February 6th, 2009

Coolness! The Johnny Saturn comic is currently top bidder on my Project Wonderful space. Johnny Saturn was a comic book I read this summer after meeting the creators at Wizard World Chicago.

Short and sweet: It’s Batman taken to a more realistic extreme, i.e. anyone doing what Batman does would wear out his body pretty quickly. I will say no more, but check it out via their banner ad above.

Metro Med Special Edition featured on IndyPlanet home page!

Friday, August 1st, 2008

There’s my book! Awesome.

Metro Med Special Edition #1 – NOW AVAILABLE!

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Toldja there was a big announcement coming!

Metro Med Special Edition #1 is now available at IndyPlanet.

It’s 36 beautiful pages, with two Metro Med stories, pinups, character profiles, a new Annotations section, plus an all-new color 1-page story on the back cover. As a bonus, I included my out-of-print story “Melvin and Marvin Middler, Time Meddlers”.

In 2005, I published Metro Med #0 via my buddies at Shooting Star Comics. A thin volume selling for $2, this #0 issue was rushed to the printer in time to have it for Wizard World Chicago. Unfortunately, the quality of the printing was not what we would have liked and it ended up as our ashcan edition. (I’m still glad we published when we did, since afterward not only did someone else do a superhero hospital book but there was also another superhero using the same name as one of my characters. Thank God for ashcans!) Shortly afterward I lost my artist on the book, so it’s taken me a while to decide how to proceed. While I’m looking forward with some new artists, I decided it was time the first volume got a quality printing.

I didn’t tell you any of this because, until I saw it at Wizard World Chicago, I wasn’t sure how the printing would turn out. Yes, I was in the same “no proof” boat I was in back in 2005. However, the final result is stunning. I thought the quality of #0 was just disappointing, but once I saw the quality of this new one printed through Ka-Blam/IndyPlanet… well, I regret ever showing anyone the old one. THIS is how Metro Med was meant to be.

Well…at least until I can get it redone in color.

Take a look for yourself. IndyPlanet has a six-page preview.

Yes, I’ll be talking this up for a while.

What happened to me?

Monday, June 9th, 2008

I have been in seclusion for the last month. Sorry to have been away so long.

Things are up. I will talk more about it publicly shortly. It’s big news. Biggest news for me in three years.

I hope to see you in a few weeks in Chicago.

Chuck Dixon’s own comic line?

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

Testosterone aplenty as Chuck Dixon’s new “Bruno Books” imprint is launched with a 170-page cardstock cover flipbook. 1/2 of the book will be a struggle for survival against a drug cartel’s army of thugs who chase down the survivors of a jet crash in “Jungle Rules”. The other 1/2 is “Philly Narco”, a crime drama.

Both are collections of mini-series Chuck did for Epic. They will be available through ComixPress and Amazon. If they find an audience, more reprint goodness is promised as well as some all-new goodness.

For my part, I’ve wished Chuck had his own comic line for ages. Chuck Dixon’s one of those guys who can really deliver if allowed to cut loose, so even the possibility that this could lead to his self-publishing his own new books is something to hope for.

Of course, distribution is everything with self-publishing. Fingers crossed!

G.I. Joe Makes Doll History

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

I know I haven’t posted in a while. The reason is, I’ve been preparing a major, lengthy post on G.I. Joe. To prepare your palate, I thought I’d start you off with an appetizer. A little history here to those of you who don’t know the story of G.I. Joe inside and out (and can’t be troubled to head over to Wikipedia):

G.I. Joe was invented not out of some ideological drive to teach kids to love soldiers but mainly to give boys a dolly that their dads would tolerate.  Girls had Barbie dolls they could dress up; boys now had do- I mean ACTION FIGURES.  And yeah, the action figures come with different outfits which the boy can accessorize, but at least there were guns and grenades as part of the ensemble.

Hippie Barbie gives the finger to the troops
After 5 years of tremendous popularity, in 1969 they ran into a problem: Vietnam.  Soldier toys weren’t as popular due to the anti-draft movement and that bastard Walter Cronkite.  Young American lads were growing disheartened when they’d come home from school to find their G.I. Joe figures covered in spittle from Hippie Barbie, who was flipping them the bird and shrieking that they were “Betsy-Wetsy-killers”.

Hoping to salvage their toy line, Hasbro decided to turn America’s fighting man into a vague adventurer.  Instead of fighting the enemies of the USA, he’d contend with serious threats such as avalanches and jungle rot.  Fine, manly adventures, sure.  What it had to do with being a G.I. is a good question, but it still wasn’t sissy stuff.  This era is actually the most well-known to the public for several reasons:

  1. The debut of the “kung-fu grip.”
  2. A new technique for flocking hair, leading to the well-known image of G.I. Joe as having curly hair and a thick beard.
  3. Talking G.I. Joe.

After a good six-year run, this G.I. Joe line petered out.  For antagonists, the Joe “team” was fighting aliens from outer space.

Then Hasbro tried “Super Joe”, a smaller toy line of superpowered G.I. Joe figures.  This was obviously followed by G.I. Joe being a dead product for several years.

Lady JG.I. Joe was reinvented in 1982 as “G.I. Joe, a Real American Hero”, with the singular being quite inappopriate in that there wasn’t a person by that name anymore.  Now G.I. Joe was an American special missions team which fought the terrorist organization known as Cobra.  The team was headed up by Duke (who never used the monicker “G.I. Joe” but is for all intents and purposes the main character) and is a diverse team of men and women with special training and weapons.  For instance, the Sheena Easton-looking chick over there, Lady Jaye (otherwise known as Lady J, or sometimes Lady Ray, or occasionally as Lady Ray Jay but never as Ms. Johnson), had special javelins that she threw…at, you know, tanks and robots.

This has been the G.I. Joe toy line as we have known it for the past quarter century.  The toy figures were Star Wars-sized, allowing for vehicles and playsets. The toy line was boosted with a robust animated series (including several full-length mini-series and an animated movie) and a very long-lived comic book by military-trained writer Larry Hama, who created backstories for all of the characters and gave them a depth usually lacking in the average toy.  Both the animated series and the comic books have been revived in recent years due to the 1980s nostalgia that also brought back He-Man, Transformers, Battlestar Galactica, Night Rider, Dragon’s Lair, Space Ace, etc…

As for the toy line, they began issuing anniversary 12″ reproductions of the classic G.I. Joe and Adventure Team characters.  The G.I. Joe name was even used for a series honoring real life heroes such as Ernie Pyle (the roving journalist who coined the term, whose own life was told in the movie “The Story of  G.I. Joe”) and platoon Sgt. Mitchell Paige, one of the greatest heroes of Guadalcanal.

That’s all for now.  Next, the history of the media Joe, and then my major article.

Dave Stevens, creator of “The Rocketeer”, dead at 52

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

Rocketeer Dave Stevens, the artist whose creator-owned glossy tribute to the pulp art of yesteryear, “The Rocketeer”, led both to a movie deal and a resurgence of interest in the model Bettie Page, has passed away of leukemia. Newsarama has more about it, while writer Mark Evanier has a splendid tribute to his friend.

Sorry to say, I’ve never read the original “Rocketeer”. I don’t even know of any trade book collecting it; I couldn’t find one on Amazon, hence the link to the movie which is a pale comparison to actually linking to the guy’s work. I loved the movie, and what little of Dave Stevens’ work I’ve been able to see over the years has left me stunned. R.I.P.

Cold Cut Distribution Under New Management

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Press Release:

As you read this, thousands of comics are being packed up and shipped
from their old home in Salinas, CA to their new home in Chicago, IL.

Cold Cut Distribution, the leading distributor of independent and
small to mid-size press comics in the United States, has sold their
company assets to Rogue Wolf Entertainment.

Retailers can still access the online ordering system at, but be advised that Cold Cut will not be able to
fulfill new orders while the inventory is still being moved and set up
in the new warehouse.

“We expect to be back up to full speed by the end of February,” said
Lance Stahlberg, Vice President of Rogue Wolf. “We’ve already begun
to reach out to customers and publishers, making sure inventory gaps
are kept to a minimum as we rebuild.”

The new owners will continue to offer the same flat discount rate to
retailers, and will seek to extend the same terms to all new accounts
with previous Cold Cut customers.

“As a team, we bring twenty-four years experience in the distribution
business combined with a first-hand understanding of the needs of
independent publishers to the table,” Lance added. “We have the
resources to take this company to new heights.”

Keep an eye out for more information in the coming weeks!


Cold Cut is the industry’s leading reorder distributor for quality
independent comics, serving retailers across the country and
internationally since 1994. They have consistently lead the way in
supporting and promoting independent comics in an ever-changing market place.


Rogue Wolf Entertainment, Inc was founded in 2006 with the idea of
creating comics for comic fans. They currently produce three
web-comic titles. With this new addition to their corporate
portfolio, their focus will be on helping their fellow creators and
valued supporters succeed and hopefully improve the comics industry as a whole in the process.

Pulling for my buddies

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Kurt Belcher and Phil Neundorf, two gents I had the pleasure of working with on “Job Wanted“, are attempting to get a book published by Alterna Comics and they need your vote

All you have to do is post a comment and give them a star rating (the higher the better).  No registration is necessary and the comment process is simple.  They need to be in the top five vote-getters to advance, so please spread the word and tell your friends.

The Other Wizard Named Harry

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

Dabel Brothers, the comics publisher best known for the Sci Fi/Fantasy book adaptions, made official today what has been known since the author announced it on his website several weeks ago.  They will be adapting Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files series of novels.  But before the first direct adaption comes out in mid-2008, the first book Storm Front, Jim Butcher will write an original 4 issue mini-series which will begin shipping in April.  Jim Butcher is a big comics fan and has worked numerous references into the series, from numerous comparisons of Harry to Batman to his transportation, a VW Beetle aptly named the Blue Beetle.

For those out of the know The Dresden Files series follows Chicago’s only wizard PI Harry Dresden as he investigates the supernatural, either for his clients or when the Chicago PD employs him as a consultant.

Kids in the Hall don’t speak English

Monday, November 12th, 2007

Kids in the HallThe best video clips are here

I found it in this forum exchange, which was birthed by this comic strip, which is accompanied by an annotation that explains the strip’s origin and a common problem for world travelers.

Mail Order Ninja

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Mail Order Ninja Volume 2

I realized that I’ve never promoted our friend (and Monitor Duty contributor) Josh Elder’s manga book, Mail Order Ninja!  I’ve mentioned it in the past, but I haven’t told you guys when it was available and where you could buy it.


It’s available.  Issues one and two are out, as well as the winning story Josh submitted for the Rising Stars of Manga #5.

Mail Order Ninja Volume 1