Weekly Reading Round-Up : 03/17/2019 – 03/23/2019

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

One more week, four more first issues — there’s patterns, there’s trends, then there’s ways of fucking life. In any case, enjoy this one ‘cuz for the first and probably only time in the history and future of this column we’ve got two — Marvel books this week? I shit you not. But we’re gonna save ’em for the end. First up —

You know that feeling when you just know you’re getting in on the ground floor of something great? Doesn’t happen often enough — I’m thinking Saga #1 had it, certainly Sandman #1 if you wanna go way back, but you know it when you see it — a book that hits the scene fully-formed, with a clear vision of what it is , where it’s going, what it will become in the future, all that. A completely-realized world  from top to bottom, everything thought through, from…

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Trash TV Guru : “Doom Patrol” Season One, Episode Six – “Doom Patrol Patrol”

Trash Film Guru

How far the DC Universe original streaming series Doom Patrol has come — as well as how fast it’s come to be at this high-water creative mark — is best judged by episode six, curiously (but, as it turns out, accurately) entitled “Doom Patrol Patrol,” the installment that deviates furthest from the show’s comic book roots, taking only inspiration and some telling visual cues (specifically relating to Diane Guerrero’s “Crazy” Jane confronting the demons of her past) from its four-color progenitor, but no specific plot points or lines of dialogue, as has been the case every week up until now.

Not that there isn’t plenty on offer to appeal to even the funnybook’s longest-tenured fans : when a part of the team goes to investigate the apparently-retired superhero trio known as the Doom Patrol at the urging of the villainous Mr. Nobody, we get to meet Steve Dayton/Mento (played with…

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Everything Old Is New Again : David Tea’s “Bronze Table Of The Blade Masters” (A.K.A. “Five Perennial Virtues” #6)

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

In 2007, to the notice of probably no one apart from a few of his local Minneapolis-area friends, “outsider” cartoonist David Tea released issue number six of his sporadically self-published Five Perennial Virtues digest-sized series. In 2017, for reasons known only to himself, he’s re-releasing it, plus a bunch of old sketches, under the title of Bronze Table Of The Blade Masters. This is something we should all be very happy about.

The reasons why we ought to be so are hard to quantify, of course, but then so is Tea’s work — eschewing basically every established rule of cartooning more, it seems, out of necessity than any sort of deliberate design, one could fairly argue that nothing happens in this comic, but then it really doesn’t need to in order for it to be interesting, simply because its aesthetic, its construction, its very reason for being is almost…

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Weekly Reading Round-Up : 03/10/2019 – 03/16/2019

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

First issues : they’re what we do around here. In fact, it seems like nothing else even comes out anymore. Here are four more from this past Wednesday alone —

Image’s Little Bird #1 kicks off a five-part epic of dystopian sci-fi (one that’s not slated to be collected in trade — which is remarkable given that’s how most Image creators get paid) with some Native American folklore around the edges about a child soldier on a post-apocalyptic Earth fighting on behalf of indigenous peoples vs. an oppressive religious totalitarian state. Screenwriter/director Darcy Van Poelgeest handles the scripting duties with superstar artist Ian Bertram of House Of Penance providing the illustration and colorist extraordinaire Matt Hollingsworth on hues. This opening salvo has terrific “world-building,” breathtaking action sequences, stunningly detailed art, and beautifully evocative colors. It also boasts a higher-than-usual page count, slick paper, and heavy-duty cardstock covers. A superb value…

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Trash TV Guru : “Doom Patrol” Season One, Episode Five – “Paw Patrol”

Trash Film Guru

The fifth episode of the DC Universe original streaming series Doom Patrol is many things — the conclusion of the “Cult Of The Unwritten Book” two-parter, the return of Alan Tudyk’s Mr. Nobody and Timothy Dalton’s “Chief” Niles Caulder (well, sort of, and only temporarily — but he comes in for more screen time than in any installment to date), a wild and inventive departure from its Grant Morrison/Richard Case “source material” — but first, foremost, and always, it is Jane‘s story.

Diane Guerrero’s “Crazy” Jane is the heart and soul of this one, as we get the most detailed look yet into her troubled and mysterious past and tantalizing hints that, as bad as what we see is, what we don’t yet know is surely even worse. The puzzle of what the “Paw Patrol” title is all about is eventually solved here, but the puzzle that…

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The Sweet Sting Of “Billie The Bee”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Can it be? Or should that read “can it bee”?

It seems impossible that Mary Fleener’s new Fantagraphics-published hardcover book, Billie The Bee, could be her first proper “graphic novel,” and yet — that’s precisely the case. It took me a minute to wrap my head around that fact, as I’ve been reading Fleener’s stuff literally since I was a kid (I know, I know — I had no business owning copies of Wimmen’s Comics and Slutburger Stories when I was 13 or 14 years old, but I could say the same for any number of “underground” comics I was able to get my hands on at that age) and her singularly earnest, no-holds-barred work has been a constant in my reading life. I guess if you’d pressed me prior to this as to whether or not she’d done an “OGN,” my answer would have started with “Now that…

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Eurocomics Spotlight : Rikke Villadsen’s “The Sea”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Lost at sea, adrift at sea, swept away by the sea — any and all of these cliches will likely apply to readers of Danish cartoonist Rikke Villadsen’s The Sea, a physically-short but conceptually-dense graphic novel originally published in the artist’s home country in 2011 but only within the last few months making its way to the English-speaking world courtesy of Fantagraphics.

Which is to say, I suppose, that it’s easy to get pulled into the world this book either conjures and/or creates (depending on just how literally one chooses to view the tale it relates), yet impossible to find any firm footing within it.

For my part, I tend to take the proceedings herein as purely allegorical, but your willingness to do so — as well as whatever mileage you get from it — may indeed vary, and that’s all well, good, and more than likely Villadsen’s intention…

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