Monstrous Politics

The Eighth Seal #1

Writer: James Tynion IV
Art: Jeremy Rock
Color: Nolan Woodward
Letters: Troy Peteri
Publisher: IDW, originally Thrillbent

This week I'd like to mention a comic that came out a couple weeks ago and hasn't been getting a ton of buzz. That's a damn shame, as The Eighth Seal is an excellent new chapter in the horror genre, previously available as a web comic. This book is helmed by James Tynion IV, who has been proving to have some series chops working on the macabre with his work on Batman, Memetic, Cognetic, and The Woods. The art duties fall to Jeremy Rock of Narcopolis, Escape of the Living Dead, Cold Space and more. Check out more of his work at here!

Amelia Greene sees a monster when she looks in the mirror and feels that she becomes one in everyday life, though no one has actually witnessed it. Her shrink, who she can only assume is trying to help, suggests upping her meds, but Amelia knows that whatever is inside her is getting stronger. The monster she is trying to quell wants to get out, and some folks may be inclined to let that happen. Oh and by the way, she just happens to be the first lady.

Tynion has a serious knack for developing a main character who is damaged in a curious way (or in this case monstrous). Amelia Greene is a likable and innocent woman, however the visions and alternate personality that Tynion writes for her show a creature of malevolence. The dichotomy between these two is intriguing and the fact that the evil entity might manifest physically is an awesome premise. Not only that but the dialogue used by the creature is truly terrifying as soon as it's introduced. Besides Amelia and her hallucinogenic friend, we also get to see arguing the White House staff who produce a situation where everyone wants to do right by the First Lady but more or less only for the President's benefit. There are a lot of story elements at play here, each working together very well.

Jeremy Rock is an artist which, I must confess, I was previously unaware of. But no longer! Rock uses a very clean style to further contrast the regular world/life of Amelia with the monster inside of her. Everything is very symmetrical and peaceful, but that sentiment changes quickly and shockingly. There are certain beats that are necessary in horror stories to really hit those frightening moments and Rock is incredible at approaching those. Normal panels transform into scenes of utter terror as we get treated to a sinister creature that has been expertly designed. Lastly, I'd like to mention Rock's faces, particularly in the eyes. Each expression conveys very clear emotion that helps pull the reader further into the story and the emotions that inhabit it. Particularly the interaction between Amelia and Derek, the President, show a really nice relationship. Minus the vile creature occupying her body, of course.

The Eighth Seal is a promising horror title with a premier issue that doesn't shirk on shock value and strong exposition. James Tynion IV, Jeremy Rock and the rest of the team are producing a fun title that is already starting with some heavy build up to what I can only assume is going to be an insane ride.You can check out a preview of the first issue on Thrillbent, right here and pick up the first issue at your LCS. Issue #2 comes out on 1/27!

'Tis the Season for the 90's

Saved By The Bell: Holiday Special

Ah to be young and living in 1992... I remember very little of the time period, but I do remember the cultural phenomenon known as Saved By The Bell. Sorry folks, this isn't the start of a new highly anticipated (by who I don't know) comic series. This comic answers the important question of "How do these friendly folks celebrate Christmas in sunny California?!" Allow me to tell you the tales extracted from this legendary tome.

(MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD) This comic is a collection of two short stories, the first of which being a situation between Zach and Kelly. Bad news, their relationship is on the fritz. To try to make things right, Zach enlists the whole gang to create a winter wonderland for Kelly, thinking that giving her a taste of her hometown of Madison, Wisconsin will melt her cold heart. The team sets up a huge bash and and boy is that Kelly surprised! Primarily because she is from Madison County, Florida! She knows that Zach's heart is in the right place though, so she forgives him for whatever the hell they were fighting about... until he starts ogling a waitress.

In the second story, that tyrant Principal Belding is making a rule that if students want to go to the Holiday Dance they must improve their grade in their worst subject by 1 whole point! Everyone is worried about this, especially Slater. That rascally Zach comes up with a clever plan... if the school nerd, Egbert, will tutor Slater, Slater will teach him how to be successful with women (or as Zach calls it "male-female chemistry")! Then Zach realizes he is thinking small... so he makes a list of every student in the school and the subject they are best in, you know, information a student can easily access. He sells this information to fellow students, allowing anyone to pick their own tutor based off of... well... whatever they want really. No one's grade improves and only the principal and a teacher chaperone go to the Holiday Dance. THE END! Actually, Zach uses the money to fund a party at the only other place in Bayside, The Max.

There you have it! Isn't that fun?! It's festive because... because Wisconsin has snow and the school is having a Holiday Dance. Plus, look at that cover! If that doesn't get you in the holiday spirit then I don't know what does! I mean sure, the characters don't look spot on (especially Slater/Mario Lopez) but it's the thought that counts... right?

A Pleasant Buzzing

Insexts #1

Publisher: Aftershock Comics
Creator/Writer: Marguerite Bennett
Art: Ariela Kristantina
Colors: Bryan Valenza
Letters: A Larger World

Aftershock Comics has started it's explosion onto the scene this month with a roster of well known and incredible talent. On this particular book is one of my favorite modern writers, Marguerite Bennett, matched with the expert drawing style of Ariela Kristantina (look at her art).

In the ornate Victorian age, Lady Bertram and her maid Mariah make the best of their lives and their romance while under the tyranny of Harry Bertram. The cunning Mariah has plans that may rid the duo of their resident misogynist and bring their relationship to the next level. Curiously enough, it involves a spherical egg that is travelling from throat to throat. How's that for a hook?!

Bennett creates a strangely open minded atmosphere that mixes horror, science fiction, and Jane Austen, resulting in a story that bleeds originality. As soon as the book opens we are greeted with a song that sets the tone for the whole issue. From their, the relationship between our two strong female protagonists is exhibited very clearly without provide too much context. From cover to cover this story is unpredictable and what seems like an obvious hurdle for the duo to jump throughout the series is dealt with swiftly, leaving us with endless mystery and intrigue to look forward to.

Kristantina has found a perfect place for her particular style. The Victorian era is so iffy in comics because there is no middle ground, artists are either great at the time period or just lacking. I am more than happy to report that this illustration is exquisite. Every panel has an elegance to it, even when going to Cronenberg levels of body horror. Speaking of, there is bound to be more unique violence and gore as the series continues, but this premiere issue gives an epic sneak peek of what we can expect. It's also important to note that Valenza's colors make the environments even more lively, and provide a ton of dimension to every moment.

Insexts is something that you have never read before, but can now ead monthly. Marguerite Bennett produces hit after hit and this is no exception. Her writing style combined with Ariela Kastantina art is an incredible treat and I'm looking forward to watching the series evolve moving forward. If this is what Aftershock has to offer than I am absolutely on board!

Ready for Thirds

Seconds Helping

Written/Drawn/Experienced by Jason Fischer

Last year an incredible book, a.k.a. one of my favorite graphic novels, a.k.a. Seconds was published and oh what a glorious book it is. For those of you who don't know, Seconds was written and drawn by Bryan Lee O'Malley, with Jason Fischer as drawing assistant and letters by Dustin Harbin. Everyone knows that the result of their efforts was a fantastic addition to anyone's comic library. This comic shows the process from the point of view of Jason Fischer!

In this book, we get to see some of the process from the point of view of the drawing assistant/inker. This in itself is eye catching as normally these behind the scenes books are typically by the primary artist or writer. This perspective gives readers the chance to get acquainted with a position that is extremely important to the creative process, especially in a book such as Seconds as well as the fellow filling this role. In Seconds Helping, Fischer talks about his work on Seconds, namely inking much of the backgrounds and details before it got handed off to Dustin Harbin. Looking at Seconds and the amount of color and detail in the story, this was no easy task. Fischer discusses that the work was starting steady before becoming more and more fast paced to the point that he needed to move in with O'Malley until the deadline! What I like about this experience is that it humanizes the creative team in a big way. It's easy to read a book and think "that was a good read the team did a great job" and put it on the shelf. However, a little inside look such as this helps give folks an idea of the hard work that goes into this unique art form and can improve the original reading experience as a whole.

Fischer has a fun art style not too dissimilar to that of O'Malley. This black and white issue is illustrated in a style of cartoonish realism that provides the readers with a cool look at his experience. He shows his renditions of some of the things that got this creative duo through the process including Cacodemon plush, video game soundtracks, Sweney Todd, and of course, Drake. His character detail is a whole mess of fun too, with some great facial expressions and some righteous facial hair. I have to say, after seeing the illustration in this book and what he brought to the table for Seconds I would love to see a story that he fully illustrates. Oh, I should also note that in the back of this issue there are some concept drawings and layout sketches, neat stuff!

There is no doubt that Seconds was a successful book, and getting a look at Jason Fischer and his process it's not hard to see why. Seconds Helping is a fun little inside look at a side of things we wouldn't have been able to otherwise see. Pick up this book and see what else Fischer is up to at

This Girl is on Fire

Baker's Dozen

Totally by, Aatmaja Pandya

One shots are such a great little thing aren't they? Every so often we get these great little snapshots into what some talented folks are up to, and often these are stories that creators are dying to tell. There is just a certain laser focus to telling a totally stand alone, one shot comic that I really appreciate. Aatmaja Pandya, of the webcomic Travelogue, has definitely gained her own corner of story telling with this enjoyable, easy to get into story. Check out some of Pandya's other work here.

Radhika lives in a fantastical world of family, magic, goddesses, witches, and so much more. As Radhika works to help get food ready for the festival of the goddesses, she finds food preparation is not her strongest skill. As she goes out to explore the festival, she stumbles across a little old woman. This lady, one of the local witches, reads Radhika's fortune and tells of a crossroads. There are decisions that the young lady will make during the night which will impact the rest of her life. Want to know more? So does she! The herbs burnt to tell the fortune were the last that the witch owned, so to discover more about her future Radhika must go on a quest throughout the festival which will teach her of the magics around her and the history of the fiery Goddess which breathes life into the land.

Pandya weaves a tapestry of myth that simultaneously build on the character of Radhika as well as the little world she is a part of. There's a great feeling of reading an original fable wrapped in this book. It has all the makings of a fairytale-esque story that writing wise has a little something for all ages. The spirit of the festival and story of the goddess which Panya has chosen is not only a perfect fit for this world but also a fun look at the belief system of every character. Radhika is written with a child like innocence but finds her footing as a protagonist and faces a good level of growth in this done in one book. The end result is a feeling of warmth at the well worded/chosen ending.

Pandya has a distinct style with a wispy flow and a fluid line as well as a done of environmental detail. Radhika is constantly portrayed with an ere of curiosity and readiness for what is next. She moves with purpose towards the goal of discovery and doesn't falter, despite the magic which could very well be sinister. The sense of natural movement in the environment is very fluid, especially in areas with brush that show believable motion which is even further sampled by the well used grayscale scheme. As I mentioned earlier this story is very much a fable, and this art style furthers that genre choice.

Start reading this guy and before you know it it'll be over. There's an obvious conclusion and climax, but not so much an obvious conclusion. The Baker's Dozen ends in a satisfying fashion, but I would be glad to see more and could see more potential stories in this world! For fans of fantasy and magic, goddesses and celebrations of life this comic awaits. If you check it out and find yourself to be a fan then make sure to check out Aatmaja Pandya's fantasy webcomic as well! Pick this here comic up at digitally at

Hell Gets More Crowded

Godzilla in Hell

Issue 1: Art & Story by James Stokoe
Issue 2: Art & Story by Bob Eggleton
Issue 3: Story by Ulises Farinas & Erick Frietas, Art by Buster Moody
Issue 4: Story by Brandon Seifert, Art by Ibrahim Moustafa, Colors by Marissa Louise
Issue 5: Story & Art by Dave Wachter

Every once in a while a mini series comes out that is an artistic marvel with a fantastic story to match. IDW has given us one of those mini series with a multitude of talented writers and artists giving the king of monsters their incredible treatments.

Godzilla has fallen into Hell and is looking for a way out, sounds like a simple enough story right? Wrong! In each issue of this mini there's a different trial for Godzilla to face, some of which put him against past foes, supernatural forces, and his own inner demons.

When many people who are somewhat ill informed about this character hear that he has a comic book, they don't understand and chock it up as just another comic/movie property. That being said if you are a fan of comics than this isn't a series you can pass up. Each issue presents a new form of storytelling to the series and created layers to Godzilla which were previously unrevealed. Each writer/artist or team works together so perfectly showing that everyone who worked on this book knows Godzilla and respects source material, making this the perfect book for long time fans as well as people new to the character just looking for an excellent story. Is this going to lead into anything else? Hard to say, but what I can say with certainty is that this snapshot into what may be Godzilla's strangest and most challenging experience is truly a story to behold.

Artists of various mediums and styles join to illustrate Hellish events for Godzilla that all pay homage to the characters past and his enjoyable kaiju battles. Let me rattle off this all star group. Stokoe definitely sets the tone for the series with his busy and action filled style. Following him is Eggleton who's painterly quality gives the send that you are reading from a guide book or movie poster. On issue 3, Moody ups the zaniness and draws multiple high octane action scenes. The penultimate issue sees Moustafa drawing with a line that tiptoes between clean and gritty in a great way. Finally, Wachter gives us the "resolution" of this strange adventure through an intricately detailed and grandiose landscape. Every artist brings something different to the table and each one adds a ton of detail and quality to the story!

I'm not sure who initially thought of this project but I'm darn glad they did. This is the epitome of collaborated work in comics and deserves a ton of praise. I'd also like to ship a boatload of kudos to Bobby Curnow, the editor for the book, and Chris Mowry, the creative consultant, this title had to be a ton of work from the production side as well as the art and story side. If you like kaiju stories, philosophy, fantasy, hellscapes, fun, excellent art, and great writing than find these issues or get the trade when it comes out.

Art sites:

A Tale of Loss

Left Empty: Book One

Writer: Alan King
Artist: Jamie Vayda
Publisher: Birdcage Bottom Books

Birdcage Bottom Books is a publication which truly embraces the classic, underground nature of the indie comics community. In their organization they produce a variety of off the beaten path, often comedic comics. Today's book however, is not funny but it is very moving and quite the powerful read with an insanely strong team behind it which form a true story that transcends the typical autobiographical comics mold. Let's talk about it!

Left Empty is an autobiographical story of loss. After the death of Krystal King, Alan is having a hard time coping. Everything reminds him of what has happened and now so much of the memories appear tragic. Throughout the story we see bits and pieces of the illness which took Krystal as well as how Alan reacted and how it effected all aspects of his life. Anymore plot details will spoil a remarkable piece of storytelling, so let's go on to what's great about it.

King recounts his experiences with dialogue that makes the reader truly feel things as he provides a story that touches on a subject many people are nervous to discuss or even consider. Those who have been in a serious relationship will feel a pit in their stomach as they get placed in this situation that stings with every line of dialogue. That dialogue is particularly strong as Alan uses his written self to recount the events of Krystal's diagnosis, explaining how unreal it all seemed. What King does here that really hits hard is show a very real look at how so many would react to this situation. The death of a loved one is upsetting and messy and so many other things and in this story we see that full spectrum of emotion, each strongly grounded uses exceptional dialogue. Underneath the sadness of the story is the strong sense of love that the two had for one another, which will bring this powerful story so much closer to home.

Vayda's art has such a unique look. In his other work that can be found in Loud Comix (which he also did with Alan King) we see a far more comedic story through his style. This book not only exhibits his versatility, but also further exemplifies Vayda's skill as a cartoonist. To provide a stronger sense for the beats in this story the artist uses sequential panels that give a good representation of how much life has slowed down as well as a good look at King's body language. It is clear from page one that this is an event that King needed to chronicle, and Vayda worked in such perfect symmetry with him to produce a heartwrenching but nonetheless important autobiographical tale that is tragically beautiful to view.

This is an interesting read for so many reasons. Alan King has put himself out there to tell an important story of loss and healing that is powerfully cartooned by Jamie Vayda. Yes, it is a sad story, but it is also a unique experience and a book that will make you feel such strong emotions, suffice it to say it deserves attention. There is a ton of talent in this book and this is only the first chapter. You can pick up this comic from the Birdcage Bottom Books webstore

If, Alan King, you find this review in your travels, I'm sorry for your loss.

Crime DOES Pay

Henchgirl #1

Publisher: Scout Comics
Writer/Artist: Kristen Gudsnuk

This is such a great time to be a fan of comics, particularly independent ones. Almost every week at least one new and totally original title that examples smart store and fantastic cartooning. This past Wednesday, 10/28, was no exception as we saw the transition of the web comic Henchgirl into a physical serialized book. Henchgirl is a creator owned title by Kristen Gudsnuk, who has a unique style that is just so gosh darn fun. Check out more of her art here!

Mary Posa works for one of the major villains in Crepe City, Monsieur Butterfly. The job is incredibly taxing and very dangerous, but that doesn't stop Mary! This issue starts with a big heist by the Butterfly gang that gets thwarted by a local superhero, Mr. Great Guy. As Mary flees she faints from exhaustion, and awakes to being carried by a young man dressed as a toy soldier. From their the story unfolds into the everyday life of Mary as she deals with her roommate, a weapons hand off, the "company" kiss ass, you know... regular henchperson stuff. When the opportunity comes for her to move up in the Butterfly gang with one big score, she decides to take her criminal activity to the next level!

Gudsnuk has created a character that is 100% impossible not to like! From her hard (yet villainous) work ethic and the pride she takes in it, she is a never ending source of positivity. All of the interactions we get to witness between Mary and her supportive cast, especially those between her and the male protagonist of the story, have nuggets of wit mixed with easily exhibited exposition that provide introductions to each character. Basically to recap, in one single issue we get to see an enjoyable day in the life story that introduces us to a strong female protagonist who just happens to be a bit of a villainess as well as the rivalries in her life and the opportunity to move up. That's a lot to happen, and all of it is not only fun to experience but also great to look at.

Adding to the unparalleled charm of Mary and the gang is Gudsnuk's art style. With an emphasis on hatched shading, heavy outlines and a real painterly quality, there is a distinct level of craftsmanship in every page. The illustrations in this story are particularly fun during the villain/hero moments when we get to see some somewhat goofy but very coordinated costumes choices that add to the fun atmosphere in a big way. Early on in the story we also get a sneak preview of another villain in the series which leads the reader to believe that there is definitely something going on in Crepe City, moreso than just the regular human crimes. Two distinct color palettes give the city a life during the day that is very different than what we see at night, with sort of a sepia tone scheme during the day and a muted, almost serene set of purples and blues at night. Those color choices over the character design of this issue fill the criminal underbelly of Crepe City with life that is a real joy to witness.

It is such a pleasure to be able to witness this comic in print form. Looking at the webcomic, it is obvious that Kristen Gudsnuk has put a done of hard work into this story and by bringing it to the print medium, her and the story will get even more, well deserved attention. As I mentioned earlier, this first issue came out just this past week, and only costs $3.99! Pick it up before your local store runs out!