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