Oct 242014
 
Written by Jamie S. Rich
Illustrated by Joelle Jones

B&W, Hardcover Graphic Novel

Oni Press, 2009


Modern authors who attempt period private eye stories often end up turning out pale pastiche or unintentional parody. Or their stories are so heavily infused with the author's historical research that they read dry and artificial. What is often forgotten is that the private eye mystery - regardless of period - revolves around character more than plot. This is different from most other sub-genres of mystery fiction, where plot is all; a puzzle to be solved. In a P.I. story, it's all about people; their secrets, their motives, their passions.

Jamie Rich and Joelle Jones' You Have Killed Me is a private eye tale that remembers that, and is filled with deftly-drawn (in all senses of the word), richly-developed characters.

Private investigator Antonio Mercer is hired to find an old flame, a high society gal from his past, who has gone missing on the eve of her wedding to a down-on-his-luck gambler. It's no surprise that Mercer's investigation leads through smoky jazz clubs and dark back alleys, to various and sundry unsavory individuals, nor that it ultimately becomes very personal for our protagonist.

Rich's script is sharp, with terse dialogue and narrative captions that don't fall into the trap of trying to emulate Chandler's distinctive - and easily parodied - flair for simile. Instead, the first-person captions are employed sparsely and used to provide a bit of insight into Mercer's private worldview. The story treads very familiar ground, but that's okay - while familiar, it is feels fresh and is skillfully constructed.

Jones' art is clean and well-composed. Backgrounds are occasionally sketchy, but the characters are all distinctive and expressive, and her storytelling is clear and cinematic. Overall, it's beautiful stuff.

Oni Press has done a really nice job on the production of the book, with striking, attractive graphic design and high-quality paper and binding. It's a truly gorgeous book.

You Have Killed Me is an excellent period P.I. tale, extremely well told. Highly recommended.

Six Out of Six Bullets.
Oct 222014
 
Back in 1992, Harris Comics revived the classic "Good Ghoul" character Vampirella, with a new, full-color series that was a far cry in style and tone from the legendary B&W Warren magazine originals. And of course, since it was 1992, who better to render the covers than the hottest "hot chick" artist of the time, Adam Hughes?

I admit it. I bought it because of the cover, too.
Oct 092014
 
I remember quite well reading the issue of THE INCREDIBLE HULK in which Wolverine made his debut, and I was there when the X-Men were relaunched with him as a member. So I've known the character for a long time and generally enjoyed reading about him. I haven't really kept up with him in recent years, though, other than seeing him played well by Hugh Jackman in various movies. Not long ago,
Sep 292014
 
Here's another sneak peek at the "secret" space opera graphic novel I'm working on with artist Peter Grau (which is still probably a year or two from completion).

This little fella (we haven't settled on the color yet, thus the multiple hues - though I'm leaning toward the green) is an interstellar critter known as a "globlin." They cling to spaceships and get stuck in the jets. This particular specimen's name is "Kooba.," because of his affinity for a certain 22nd Century soft drink brand.

More - much more - to come.
Aug 222014
 
After about a year and a half of regular weekly Friday updates, the first (and hopefully, not last) Perils On Planet X graphic novel, "Hawke of Terra," is nearly completed (just two pages/weeks to go). This project has been in the works so long (almost 15 years!) that I can hardly believe it's almost finished.

I'm pretty proud of the story, which is my take on classic interplanetary swashbucklers like John Carter of Mars and Flash Gordon, and am especially pleased with the visual storytelling of my artistic collaborator and partner, the amazing Gene Gonzales. The importance of our colorist, Ian Sokoliwski's,  Technicolor hues cannot be underestimated, either. I've been very fortunate to have such talented collaborators.

If you haven't kept up with Perils On Planet X - or worse, haven't read it at all! - you can still read it from the beginning, for free on the site. That link will take you right to the first page. Our future plans are still up in the air, so this might be a good time to take a few minutes and catch up... and maybe post your thoughts on the book.
Jul 232014
 
So, Hermes Press has just collected their Buck Rogers miniseries by Howard Chaykin. I didn't read the individual comics, but I pre-ordered it in trade, and expect it to arrive in a week or so. I don't always like Chaykin's comics, but when I do, I tend to like them a lot. In the 80s, I adored American Flagg, and the writer/artist is responsible for creating one of my all-time favorite comics characters - Atlas Comics' The Scorpion. I also dug his 80s Shadow miniseries (and will probably pick up his recent return to the character eventually), among many other titles.

I've read online that this version of Buck Rogers hews more closely to the original Philip Francis Nowlan pulp novellas, Armageddon 2419 A.D. and The Airlords Of Han.... and I think that's a great approach. Hey, I love the 70s TV series as much as anyone (and more than most), but it's about time to get back to the character's roots.

Here are Chaykin's covers for the four issue miniseries.

Jul 182014
 

My Femme Noir collaborator, Joe Staton, will be appearing at the Baltimore Comic-Con, September 5 -7. At the show, they’ll be distributing a charity Yearbook with art by the guests. Those artists with creator-owned characters were asked to draw them interacting with Matt Wagner’s character Grendel. This is Joe’s contribution, with colors by Matt Webb, pitting The Blonde against the Hunter Rose incarnation of Grendel, among the rooftops of Port Nocturne.

I’d love to see this crossover become a reality… but only if Wagner writes it.

A Birthday Comics Bounty

 Comics  Comments Off
Jul 142014
 
As I am not steadily employed, and comic book trade collections can be so pricey, I can usually only afford to get new comics twice a year - on my birthday and at Christmas (pending familial largesse). Well, my birthday was last week, and the family was very generous this year, so I hit Amazon and started carving away at my Wish List. This is this year's birthday bounty: two Astro City trades, the third (and final) volume of the great Russ Manning's classic Magnus Robot Fighter, The Rocketeer & The Spirit: Pulp Friction, and two Conan volumes (only one pictured above). Still have some catching up to do with those Dark Horse Conan books, though...

Of the comics I got in that Amazon order, I'm most looking forward to reading this one. DC has finally collected the 1988 four-issue miniseries Cinder And Ashe. This crime comic is one of the best things Gerry Conway ever wrote for the medium, and features utterly gorgeous artwork by Jose Garcia-Lopez.

I bought three of the four issues when it first came out, but could never find issue #4 (and I've searched a lot of back issue bins since '88!). 


I can't tell you just how eager I am to find out how the story ends... after 26 years!

And just to put some frosting on that comic book bounty goodness, I was surprised today to find yet another box of comics in the mail -- a package of books by my friend, comics writer Chuck Dixon, who very generously gifted me a bunch of his recent work, including a couple of G.I. Joe: Special Missions trades. Now, I've never really been a fan of the G.I. Joe franchise, but Dixon is a master at military-styled action adventure comics, and it turns out that these are drawn by Paul Gulacy, one of my favorite comics artists, ever... so I'm actually eager to check them out.

And speaking of all-time favorites, Chuck also sent along the first Airboy Archives volume from IDW. Back in the 80s, Airboy was one of my top three comic series (along with Grimjack and Scout), and I'd been wanting to get the new collections for my library, but was daunted by the cover price. 

What can I say? It's good to have friends, and while my so-called comics career has always been spotty, at best, it has made me a lot of good friends. Thanks, Chuck!
Apr 232014
 
I know I haven't been posting to this blog much in the last few months, but Spring is here and all the distractions that plagued me over the Winter From Hell™ are receding in the rear-view mirror, so it's time to get back to the "shameless self-promotion and pop culture commentary" this site promised.

Let's begin with  the "self-promotion," and a long-overdue look at the Atomic Pulp line of webcomics. If you're reading this, then your almost certainly aware that I write, and publish online, three weekly, serialized webcomics (did I mention that they're free?): Gravedigger, Perils On Planet X, and Femme Noir.

Gravedigger is more than halfway through its action-packed second continuity, "The Predators." Over the last couple months we've had some scheduling issues due to various circumstances on both my part and multiple-award-winning artist/co-creator Rick Burchett's, but it looks like we're back on track now, with new installments every Monday. Once "The Predators" wraps, we plan to move right into the third - and biggest - Gravedigger caper, tentatively titled, "The Abductors." Like "The Predators," this one is brand-new, and has never been available in any format before.

Every Wednesday sees an episode of Femme Noir, drawn by my pal, Joe Staton, who is currently shaking up the funny pages as the artist on the Dick Tracy newspaper strip. At the moment, we are re-presenting previously-published stories while we gear up to produce a new graphic novel.

The most popular of the Atomic Pulp webcomics (in terms of monthly traffic) is Perils On Planet X, which updates on Fridays. This swashbuckling interplanetary adventure, which is illustrated by the immensely talented Gene Gonzales, and colored by Ian Sokoliwski, has updated like clockwork for more than a year now, with no missed weeks. We're about a third of the way into Chapter Three of the first storyline, "Hawke Of Terra," and looking toward the future. We're working on plans for a collected volume (and maybe some crowdfunding to pull it off) of this first "Book," as well as discussing future stories.

We appreciate all comments and feedback from our readers. We also appreciate every link and referral, because the more readers we have, the easier it is justify keeping them going. So thanks, to everyone who's helped spread the word... and if you haven't read them yet: why not?