11 Nov

The Android’s Dungeon: Cut the green wire! It’s a ZombieBomb!

Posted by Bryan White | Wednesday November 11, 2009 | Comics,The Android's Dungeon

In the interest of full disclosure, I have a personal stake in spreading the word about ZombieBomb!, the upcoming zombie anthology comic from Terminal Press. I contributed a short to the book, to be illustrated by one of the book’s art directors, Rich Woodall. I’ve seen sketches of characters and the first page and it’s looking sweet! But rather than just direct you to the Facebook fan page, like I did before, I now have some pages and art that you can look at.

The deadline is now past due for the first issue and layout is now under way. The first issue is expected to drop in January and will feature stories and art by Shawn McManus (Swamp Thing, Sandman, Fables), Neil Vokes (Marvel / DC), Todd Dezago (Spiderman, Tellos, Perhapanauts), Craig Rousseau (Captain America, Iron Man, Perhapanauts). Also on board are Anthony Schiavino, Rich Woodall (co-art director), Adam Miller (co art director), Robert Mansperger, Josh Belanger, Ron Fortier, Rob Fitz, Tony Donley, Chris Dahlen, Lance Erlick, Erik Evensen, Ron Davis, John Gajowski, Tom Whalen and there’s even word that current vocalist for the San Francisco thrash legends, Exodus, Rob Dukes will be contributing a story to a later issue in the series. Oh, and let us not forget that yours truly, Bryan White, has turned in a modern spin on the old EC/Warren formula called This Night I’ll Eat Your Flesh, concerning the fate of three scuzzy pillheads who follow a little old lady home to steal her meds only to find out that her rickety old house contains a very dark secret.

The shorts vary wildly in theme and tone, ranging from three to ten pages in length and spotlighting the absolute depths of zombie horror to the offbeat to straight up comedy. It pools a collective of staggeringly talented artists and writers both known and up and coming to assemble what is likely to be one of 2010’s most talked about indie comics. You can click through the gallery below to see more killer art from this outstanding series. Preorders through Terminal are not available yet and crappy terms that lay heavily in the favor of Diamond Comic Distributors means that Terminal will be keeping the individual books out of Previews, so you’re going to have to order it at their website or hound your local comic shop until they carry the book (which you should do anyway). However, a sweet collected version will be available through Previews just in time for the San Diego Comic Con next year, so stay tuned. It’s pretty much a given that every little piece of news about the comic will be posted here. And you know what? If you send me your copy, I will gladly autograph it for you. I’m just that kind of guy. When I’m the biggest writer in comics, it’ll be worth a fucking mint so CGC that bitch and keep it in mint condition because it’s going to be huge. At the very least, bag it and board it instead of doing what you do with all your other comics (roll joints on them).

25 Oct

Halloween Blog-A-Thon Day 25: The House Of Mystery Annual #1

Posted by Bryan White | Sunday October 25, 2009 | Comics,The Android's Dungeon

house of mystery annual reviewOrdinarily, I’d relegate this review to the old Android’s Dungeon group of reviews but we’re here on the home stretch of Halloween posts and I need Halloween themed material. There was a period in my comic reading biography where I could no longer stand to read super hero books. DC had been in a slump for years with a string of huge event books and publicity stunts (like killing Superman) and Marvel had put all their juice into mutant books and those bore a lot in common with daytime soaps. This is the spot when I finally let my guard down and in a desperate frenzy for a paper and ink fix, I turned to the imprint that I should have been reading all along. I discovered Vertigo and I loved it. It was sophisticated and weird. The problem was, however, that I was picking it up as most of Vertigo’s big guns were moving on to do major league books like JLA or were giving up comics for novels. At least I had a rich history of canon to explore.

The House Of Mystery Annual almost seems like a reminder that for all the books like DMZ and Y: The Last Man, the larger bulk of titles in the Vertigo line-up are actually part of the DC Universe. It sets a wraparound story set in the titular House Of Mystery to give you short four or five page stories from currently running Vertigo titles and one upcoming title. A mask, ejected accidentally from The Dreaming winds up bound to a girl’s face and shows her what it has done to people in the past. There’s a Hellblazer short, a Madame Xanadu short, one from The Dreaming and one from Mike Allred’s upcoming horror book, I, Zombie, and it’s great!

It warms my heart that anthology horror books are on the rebound. This one features some of DC’s best weird and horror fiction comics teams and it’s a consistently strong book from cover to cover even though it’s fairly clear that no one team knew what the others were doing. They were probably given an image of the mask and the idea that their story would be a smaller part of a larger tapestry, the comic book equivalent to an exquisite corpse. It’s fun and it’s a great way to introduce yourself to a bunch of books you either haven’t read in a long time (Hellblazer and The Dreaming are both still quite good) or maybe you haven’t read at all (I gave Madame Xanadu a shot and didn’t care for it) and one that you should be excited for (Mike Allred is the shit and I, Zombie looks like it’s going to be outstanding!). It’s a big book with a lot to see. Definitely put it in your pull list if you like horror comics.

30 Sep

The Android’s Dungeon: Trick ‘R Treat

Posted by Bryan White | Wednesday September 30, 2009 | Comics,The Android's Dungeon

trick r treat wildstormIt seems as though anthology comics are coming back. In the introduction to this new Wildstorm published adaptation of the much-hyped Mike Dougherty flick, Trick ‘R Treat, which hits DVD on October 6th, review to follow, Doughtery, himself, suggests that the anthology comic is in decline, a claim that I’m not entirely sure is true. While anthologies used to be extremely common back in the day they seemed to have gone through their decline and are on the rise again thanks to the nostalgia of aging comic buyers like myself. Along with this book, which is an adaptation of an anthology horror movie, Dark Horse just relaunched Creepy and I, myself, have contributed a story to an upcoming anthology for Terminal Press.

Maybe you’ve been keeping tabs on this anthology wunderkind. Doughterty’s movie has been making the festival rounds and impressing the shit out of everyone who watches it. Now, if you’re one of those people or you’d like to see what all the fuss is about you can have a look at this comic, the format that the entire movie is based on. In the same introduction mentioned above, Dougherty makes it clear that Trick ‘R Treat is a salute to horror comics like Eerie and Tales From The Crypt. I don’t much like comic adaptations of movies because I don’t quiet understand why you would read a comic based on a movie you can just go out and see. Marc Andreyko’s script, based entirely on the movie takes place in a single neighborhood on Halloween and focuses on four stories. A father who kills trick or treaters and the trials of being an effective murderer when having to deal with your own child, an urban legend revisited, a grouchy old man neets the worst trick or treater of his life (Sam, the hooded poster child for the movie) and a costume party where the tables are turned on a killer. Everything is tied together so character’s paths are constantly crossing, it’s quite clever, but it’s also not really Andreyko’s device.

The book’s art, however, is quite sharp and each facet of the story has its own artist. The book is illustrated, in parts by Mike Huddleston (MAN-BAT, GEN 13), Grant Bond, Christopher Gugliotti (THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE) and Fiona Staples (NORTH 40, also a great book) and each piece of the show looks outstanding. Honestly, there isn’t a weak panel in the book. The problem comes in the form of condensed format, though, and much of the action gets lost between the panels and suffers what I call Templesmith syndrome. At times, what’s going on is smothered by it’s dark presentation and is squeezed into 96 pages. It’s a swift read, though, and doesn’t even begin to feel like 96 pages.

At $20, the Trick ‘R Treat book is going to retail for more than you’re likely to pay for the DVD, which comes out the same day, so my obvious recommendation is to just buy the movie but if you’re a fan of the movie already or you become one, forking over that kind of coin for this adaptation isn’t going to kill you. There are worse things you can spend your money on and the Trick ‘R Treat book is quite good for a comic adaptation.

14 Sep

The Android’s Dungeon: North 40

Posted by Bryan White | Monday September 14, 2009 | Comics,The Android's Dungeon

north 40 reviewI’m always skeptical of new horror comics by people I’ve never heard of. Even when they pop up bearing the Image, DC or Wildstorm logos. Many of them are crap. They’re shitty zombie books or vastly inferior ripoffs of Hellblazer or Sandman. It’s a rare treat when I find a book like North 40 that takes a concept like Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos and not only understands it but manages to make it marketable in a comic book market saturated in cut-rate horror books that are trying to get a piece of The Walking Dead’s action.

Wildstorm’s North 40, by Aaron Williams (story) and Fiona Staples (art), concerns the fate of a backwater, Southwestern town that comes under the influence of unspeakable eldritch horrors when a book looking suspiciously like The Necronomicon is opened in a public library. The town’s inhabitants black out and come to bearing mysterious new powers or horrific physical mutations. Many freak out, many adapt and many use their power to terrorize the town. It’s up to the sherriff, who seems unaffected, to hold down the fort.

Most issue #1’s are rough affairs that waste a lot of pages trying to convince you that the people you’re reading about are people you should care about, but it’s clear that Williams has a big idea for North 40 in mind and needs to cram your eyes with every potential story arc right out of the gate. Not a page is wasted on fluff, it’s action from cover to cover and that’s the problem. Williams’ script moves a little too fast at times and even after the three issues available at this time, it’s not clear where it’s all going, but it’s at least written extremely well and hinting at cool things in the future. North 40 just needs to dig in and find some direction soon. Staples’ art is also a boon to the book. Her thin line style is distinctly anatomical and one of the book’s strongest traits.

With the price of comics these days, it’s easy to sit back and pass on unfamiliar properties but North 40 is already shaping up to be a sleeper book that people at your local comic shop are going to suggest you start reading when it’s twenty issues in. I suggest you jump on board now before it’s too late.

12 Sep

The Android’s Dungeon: Dark Entries

Posted by Bryan White | Saturday September 12, 2009 | Comics,The Android's Dungeon

dark entriesIn the interest of full disclosure, I’ve always been partial to DC Comics. I began reading Marvel mutants and The Punisher but as I got older, I realized that comics weren’t really maturing with me. Sure, they got darker and grittier but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they became more sophisticated. Then I discovered the DC Vertigo imprint which eventually led me out of a snotty indie comics phase and back to capes and spandex. Even though these days I don’t care much for super heroes, I still love DC and Vertigo.

Employing novelists for comics seems to be in vogue at the moment. Michael Chabon had a run on Justice Society of America, Joe Hill does the ongoing Locke & Key series, Charlie Huston did Moon Knight and mystery novelist, Ian Rankin did this John Constantine one-shot for DC. In Dark Entries, the Hellblazer is brought in by a reality TV producer when a Big Brother style haunted house show starts to take on a life of its own. The contestants, looking for a secret room in a haunted house, are being haunted by their own demons before the show even has a chance to unleash their own manufactured haunting. Of course, this is a John Constantine story, so your expectations should be set appropriately and nothing is as it seems.

Continue Reading »

11 May

Scott Pilgrim will kick your ass!

Posted by Bryan White | Monday May 11, 2009 | Comics,The Android's Dungeon

scott pilgrimThis isn’t exactly an Android’s Dungeon post since it’s not a review of a comic so much as me telling you that you really should stop what you’re doing and get your hands on the Oni published volumes of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s beyond genius manga, Scott Pilgrim. My interest in the book came down when I caught director Edgar Wright’s Vimeo Blogs during the production of the upcoming Scott Pilgrim movie. I knew nothing about it but I think Edgar Wright is the shit. I figured if I was going to write about the movie, which also stars Michael Cera, for once not playing the awkward guy, as Scott, I should probably read the comics and get a feel for what they’re all about. Now that I have, I feel as though I can speak authoritatively on this production as well as recommend to you, in good conscience, that you read these books.

The eponymous Scott Pilgrim is a Toronto-based 23 year old living a charmed life. He’s a slacker living in a tiny apartment off the good graces of his boy-crazy roommate, Wallace. Since he doesn’t have a job, he fills his ample free time by playing bass in a band called Sex Bob-omb (the first of many, many video game references), sleeping and dating a 17 year old high schooler named Knives Chau. However, his obsession with Ramona Flowers begins when she invades his dreams and then crosses his path in real life since she orbits the same social circles as Scott. In spite of some awkward advances on his part, they soon after begin dating, beginning a complicated set of maneuvers to keep Knives and Ramona apart. But that doesn’t even begin to cover how difficult things get as the first of Ramona’s 7 evil ex-boyfriends line up to do battle with Scott.

The first two thirds of the first volume of Scott Pilgrim, Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, is your fairly standard exercise in a humor comic. The characters seem like slightly exagerrated people you know in real life and talk with a rhythm and vocabulary that no one uses yet seems very familiar. However, it’s the final third of the volume that propelled the book from simply entertaining to absolute brilliance. For most of the book, O’Malley is clearly channeling the spirit of manga but it stays within the confines of reality, breaking away to occasionally best express emotion through the sort of extreme facial expressions that manga is usually known for. It goes off the deep end, however, when Scott’s band plays with Crash and the Boys, a band whose final song is so intense, it renders the audience unconscious. This is shortly followed up by an epic confrontation with Ramona’s first evil ex-boyfriend, who engages in a frightening Street Fighter 2 style battle complete with Scott pulling off combo moves and repelling fireballs. It goes from sane to batshit in the span of only a few pages. I was instantly thrilled about the movie. That is, on one condition.

A while back, I saw the Japanese live-action adaptation of the anime, Cutie Honey, which is a fairly insipid cartoon about a goofy robot girl but the movie went all out to combine the tokusatsu stylings of Power Rangers with the outrageous antics of an action anime and somehow it wound up working out in the movie’s favor. If Scott Pilgrim is to take this approach, where the zany manga representations of Scott fleeing Knives in terror when she kisses him, or his fight with Matthew Patel are represented as close to the comic as possible, I’m going to be all over this movie. Given Edgar Wright’s relationship to comic shop culture, I’m going to go ahead and count on that kind of representation. The first video from his video blog is pretty much all about sword training and rehearsals for the fight scenes.

In the meantime, buy the god damn comics, will ya?

5 May

The Android’s Dungeon: Dylan Dog Case Files

Posted by Bryan White | Tuesday May 5, 2009 | Comics,The Android's Dungeon

dylan dog case files reviewEuropean comics rarely ever seem to get any kind of translation over here in the States, which is a shame because European comics, particularly French and Italian books have an entirely different vibe about them that distinguishes them from their American cousins. Because they’re so different, with a hangup on villains and anti-heroes, evident in books like Kriminal, Fantomas and Diabolik, I am totally fascinated by them. What is it about European standards and expectations that the protagonists of comic books are often brutal criminals?

Dylan Dog isn’t that kind of book, actually. The eponymous hero of the book is, in fact, quite heroic but he’s so wildly off beat that you’d be hard pressed to find a book on American shores with a character as wildly eccentric as Dylan Dog. In spite of his heroic status, Dylan Dog is very European. With the upcoming adaptation of the Italian comics sensation, Dead Of Night, Dark Horse Comics seized the opportunity to remind us all that ten years ago they brought Dylan Dog to the United States in a series of digest sized translations with some minor modifications and outstanding covers by Hellboy creator, Mike Mignola. Now available on comic shop and book store shelves all over the country is a single-volume reissue of those digests called The Dylan Dog Case Files.

Continue Reading »

17 Apr

The Android’s Dungeon: The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft #1

Posted by Bryan White | Friday April 17, 2009 | Comics,The Android's Dungeon

strange adventures h.p. lovecraftI had my reservations about this book. I must admit that. The premise was very familiar. Author’s horrible stories become reality through magical force of will. But to cast one of my personal favorite authors, H.P. Lovecraft, in that position seemed particularly blasphemous. Lovecraft is a frequently misunderstood writer and it would be easy for any comic writer to latch on to the misconceptions going around about Lovecraft. However, I’m pleased to announce that the first of four issues is that rarest authentic portrayal of the man. Obviously its mixed with the fantastic, pairing facts of his life, the element of the era with the cursed influence of the Necronomicon, which is on display at the Brown University library (in the comic, that is) to create a very interesting comic with solid writing. The art needs a lot of work, but I suppose it’s too late for that.

We begin with a prologue as the Mad Arab, Abdul Alhazred, begins work on his book of the dead in a fit of jealousy that his own poetry doesn’t match up to that of his contemporaries. He writes a book that aims to bridge the gaps between our world and the existence of impossible creatures. Of course, he pays for it with his life and dies horribly, as if to forecast the events that would dog H.P. Lovecraft in his own life. It segues to a day in the life of Lovecraft after establishing that pulp publishers didn’t particularly like him because his writing was complex, obscure and lacked tits. But Lovecraft himself is portrayed as a functionally awkward guy dealing with crippling feelings of inadequacy, writer’s block and a desire to write that pays the bills. Before he is mugged by a couple of sailors by the docks, he passes the Necronomicon in the Brown library, which has a strange momentary influence over him. An influence that he later uses to write a story that involves a creature from the deep emerging to slaughter the inhabitants of a boat only to have it actually happen as his muggers and a pair of prostitutes are torn limb from limb on their vessel.

It would be easy to drench this book in stereotypes of the roaring 20’s, with women in short skirts smoking and blabbing away in obscure jive on every panel, but writer Mac Carter has a very even handed approach and lays the foundation for further storytelling in a consistent and compelling manner. The book seems quite long for a monthly but never goes overboard and throws you some unnecessary action in order to hold your attention. He goes out of his way to prove to you that he knows what he’s talking about and it’s clear that what we’re going to see over the course of the next few issues are the dire consequences of Lovecraft writing The Call Of Cthulhu as though his cursed inner darkness was enough to evoke the tentacle creatures from the stars. Overall, this establishing book is what all first issues in a mini-series should be. Tony Salmons’ art, however, interrupts the entire process and I’m sure has struggling comic artists everywhere eating their own pages out of frustration. If that guy can get on an Image book, why not them? You know?

Salmons’ art is scribbly, with thick lines and obscure physical features on all characters. Lovecraft doesn’t really look like Lovecraft, though his mother’s doctor does. It’s clear that he’s trying to emulate a certain aesthetic of the period, maybe a loose liberation that speaks of the cultural tone of the 20’s or the illustrations of an actual pulp but it doesn’t really work. It just looks sloppy. The net result is me simply reading the words in the balloons and barely exploring the visual aspect. The dialog, however, is strong enough to float this book and where inner monologue has floated out of fashion in comic circles it is indispensible and used to absolute perfection here in the context of a man who lived, primarily, in the darkest corners of his mind. I only wonder if they’ll somehow approach Lovecraft’s greatest flaw in this book. That being his intense racism. In many ways, the book plays out like a Lovecraft short or a Stephen King short, which may be Lovecraft’s influence feeding back into the book. It’s a great read but it’s up to you if the astonishingly high cover price of five god damn dollars is worth it.

10 Apr

The Android’s Dungeon: Marvel Zombies 4 #1

Posted by Bryan White | Friday April 10, 2009 | Comics,The Android's Dungeon

marvel zombies 4It’s never a good idea to base your opinion of a book on the first issue because really, they’re just beginning to lay the ground work for the entire series but Marvel Zombies 4 is the one that I’ve been most looking forward to.  The original Marvel Zombies story, technically a part of their spinoff Ultimates line, which reboots the entire Marvel universe, had an alien virus infect the superheroes of earth who use their particular powers to help them eat everything. And I mean everything. The very nature of the book is pretty silly.

Marvel Zombies 2 couldn’t really keep pace, though. Neither could Marvel Zombies 3. By this point, the zombies are using Mr. Fantastic’s gear to move from dimension to dimension and have basically eaten up entire universes apart from our own. In the final pages of MZ3, it is revealed that a single zombie managed to escape but in the earliest pages of Marvel Zombies 4, it turns out that it’s actually two zombies: Simon Garth, the zombie from Marvel’s nigh-forgotten horror series Tales of the Zombie and he’s not alone. He carries the chattering zombie head  of Deadpool with him where he strikes a deal with a voodoo coke dealer. Meanwhile, The reformed Midnight Sons comprised of Werewolf By Night, Son of Satan, Jennifer Kale and Morbius, the living vampire try to stem the zombie infection which begins in this dimension under the sea with a race of sea people known from the Submariner books.

Marvel zombies realizes that it jumped the shark a while ago and it seems to have embraced its ridiculous nature, which is a good thing because even though it’s a humorous series, it did seem to take itself pretty seriously in the second series. What I really like about this book is the reintroduction of Marvel’s horror characters, a group that I’m fairly certain that rival DC managed to do without and one of the reasons that as a 13 year old comic kid, Marvel was my book of choice. Man-Thing is still left to be introduced into the series and Simon Garth was unexpected, so I can only hope that Johnny Blaze or Dan Ketch, whichever Ghost Rider exists in this dimension winds up introduced as well.  Marvel’s horror characters were often continuity bound superhero types, but they had that same element that made Warren and EC horror books so cool. This series, already by the first issue, rings of the 70’s horror books that made Marvel so badass. Kev Walker’s art also helps the book substantially. It lacks that Marvel in the 70’s vibe that the rest of the comic has, but that wouldn’t fly too well in this day and age of heightened expectations. Walker’s lines suggest action, which is what the first Marvel Zombies 4 book is all about.

All around, Marvel Zombies 4 is looking like a book that I may see to the end. The writing is solid, Deadpool is… Deadpool and The Zombie introducing the head of Deadpool as a potential means of dominating the drug market in this dimension is an interesting twist. It’ll be interesting to see where this book goes. Why they don’t just turn it into a monthly series for up and coming writers and artists to cut their teeth on is beyond me. Marvel Zombies 3 practically just ended a couple of months back!

5 Apr

The Android’s Dungeon: The Walking Dead

Posted by Bryan White | Sunday April 5, 2009 | Comics,The Android's Dungeon

The Walking DeadPsst… If you came here looking for a review of the AMC TV show premier, that article is over here. Read it now!

I remember hearing all the hype back in 2003 when Image started publising The Walking Dead but people were shocked when I would tell them that I wasn’t really feeling it. I checked out the first issue and it immediately broke some rules that I thought were inexcusable.  “But you like zombies!” They would shout. However, this is, in fact, a gross inaccuracy.  You see, everyone thinks that just because I’m a horror fan and I run a website where the bulk of the writing is dedicated to the genre that I am automatically a drooling zombie fanboy because they happen to be the monster of the moment.

I’m not.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ll watch a zombie movie and some of them occupy my favorite movies list but the zombie thing is so saturated in cut-rate product that over the years I’ve come to be disillusioned with the whole thing. I just don’t care. 99% of zombie movies, comics, games and fiction miss the point. Sure, they all point back to Dawn of the Dead and paint a huge red bulls eye on it whenever someone asks them to name names when it comes to inspiration but if this is true, how come the bulk of the movie is people killing zombies? Why is everyone automatically a sharp shooter? How come no one ever seems to run out of bullets? Clearly not many people think this scenario through and unfortunately, I have. Lucky for me, I came to my senses and picked up on The Walking Dead courtesy of Johnny Raygun creator, Rich Woodall. What I discovered in those black and white pages was that series creator, Robert Kirkman had thought about it as much if not more than I had.

Continue Reading »

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »