Reading Some Books About Comics

28 April 2016 by
Books on Comics - by Wolk and Klock

Books on Comics – by Douglas Wolk and Geoff Klock

Recently I’ve really been enjoying reading two prose books about comic books:

How to Read Superhero Comics and Why by Geoff Klock (2006)

Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean by Douglas Wolk (2007)

I mostly found these books in search of more commentary about Alan Moore – and they’re both very good for that purpose. I’ve already read plenty of very good books about Moore himself. I recommend (in order of my favorite to least favorite): Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore by Lance Parkin, The Extraordinary Works of Alan Moore by George Khoury, Alan Moore: Conversations edited by Eric Berlatsky, and Alan Moore: Storyteller by Gary Spencer Millidge. If you’re interested in Moore, check out my annotations of Moore works.

But back to those two books I just finished reading. I am lumping them together here, and though they overlap, they’re also pretty different. I should start by saying that neither of these books are likely to appeal to people who don’t already read comics. If you’re looking to read comics, I’d suggest starting by reading some comics first.

Klock’s book, as the title suggests, is specifically about super-hero comics. I don’t read too many of these lately, but part of what appeals to me about Alan Moore, which I initially wrote about here, is that he does have one foot in the super-hero genre comics I grew up with, and one foot in a deeper more meaningful literature that I now love. Klock explores a lot of comics as commentary about comics. Primarily 1980s and 1990s superhero comics, foremost Watchmen and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, as commentary on the ways that comics critique comics continuity. This makes Klock’s book have a somewhat less broad, more insider appeal than Wolk’s.

Wolk’s book is, at least genre-wise, more expansive. Though Wolk writes some about superheroes, his focus is quite a bit broader, encompassing more serious adult comics creators from Craig Thompson to Alison Bechdel to Art Spiegelman to the Hernandez Brothers.

I don’t have enough time to write extensively about these, so I’ll launch into some excerpts about Alan Moore:  Read the rest of this entry »

Comics Artist Gabriel Andrade Interviewed By Flavio Pessanha

28 December 2015 by

Below is an interview with Crossed Plus One Hundred artist Gabriel Andrade. The interview was conducted in mid-2015 by Flavio Pessanha who administers the Alan Moore Brazil (Alan Moore Br) Facebook page. The interview is appearing in English for the first time ever here; the full original Portuguese text appears after the English translation below. The English translation was also done by Pessanha, then I edited it slightly for readability, and added links and images.

Gabriel Andrade Jr. image via Facebook.

Gabriel Andrade Jr. image via Facebook.

Alan Moore Br: Gabriel, could you please tell us about the beginnings of your career as an illustrator, and how you decided to switch from economics to art?

Gabriel Andrade Jr.: The arts – more precisely illustration and music – have always been my passion and that’s where I spent most of my time. But in my adolescence I discovered philosophy and politics, and that also fascinated me. In the end, however, I couldn’t deny my artistic streak. (laughs) I chose to read Music at university, as I didn’t see myself as a graphic designer or didn’t see that there was a market for that.

When opportunities to show my portfolio drawings started to arise, I didn’t think twice and invested all I could in this process. As I didn’t know anything regarding this field, I had help from my friends Milena Azevedo (GHQ blog), Miguel Rude and Wendell Cavalcanti (both artists and comic writers). They were already in the business and they were my gurus when it all started for me.

You have worked for Dark Horse, Atlantic and you are now with Avatar. How did you get started working for Avatar?

Lady Death artwork by Gabriel Andrade

Lady Death artwork by Gabriel Andrade

Towards the end of 2009 I had finished Die Hard at Boom!Studios and they [Avatar] needed an artist for Lady Death, so I created a fancy illustration for the poster and the final artwork. After that, I signed my first contract with them. (laughs)

How did Alan Moore find you? Were you surprised?

We both did work for Avatar’s special God is Dead [Book of Acts Alpha], but in separate short stories. William [Christensen], the editor-in-chief, showed my work to Alan and then we agreed that we were going to develop the new series.

In a recent interview with Pádraig O’Mealóid Alan Moore said that your art is spectacular and he called you ‘real old-school brilliant’, which is a humongous compliment. What are your main influences and how did you learn to draw?

My first influence didn’t come from comics, but from real life. As a child I drew everything I saw and, as my parents were teachers, at home we had a huge variety of illustrated science books, and many magazines and educational posters. Read the rest of this entry »

Nimona Is Awesome All-Ages Fun

23 December 2015 by
Panels from page 1 of Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. Image via creator's website.

Panels from page 1 of Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. Image via Stevenson’s website.

With our daughter Maeve now two and a half years old, I’ve been keeping an eye out for more all-ages comics. I’ve already introduced Maeve to Lumberjanes, Space Dumplins, Squirrel Girl, and even My Little Pony comics. She picked that last one out herself at Secret Headquarters comics store.

After hearing a bit of a buzz (at Panels and I forget where else) about I bought Nimona (and Space Dumplins) to give as a Christmas present for Maeve’s cousins. I wasn’t sure which to give to which cousin, so I read through Nimona. And was touched. I almost don’t want to give it to my brother’s kids. I’ll pick up a copy for myself again soon.

Nimona is written and drawn by Noelle Stevenson, one of the co-creators of Lumberjanes. It is a ~300-page comics novel, marketed for teens, but with plenty of humor that will go over kids heads. It is funny, but also full of heart, with a well-crafted pace and story arc. The drawings are simple but very expressive and fluid.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Miscarriage Story

23 October 2015 by

I am posting my story about miscarrying because I knew so little about miscarriage before I had one. There are some eloquent stories people have posted online but too few. It seems that it is only after you have one that you learn that many of your friends have also had one or more.

Now that its happened to me I cannot believe that I did not know more about it and want to do what I can to shed light on it. Please be aware that parts of my story are graphic. It is a profoundly complex and difficult (physically and emotionally) experience.  It is common (20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage) and yet no one talks about it. I am writing as a woman who had a baby before having a miscarriage, which I can only imagine is way easier than miscarrying before completing a healthy pregnancy.

I wrote much of this soon after the miscarriage but it has taken me months to complete it. I have been surprised at how hard it has been to get over this loss. I thought I wasn’t attached to this baby. I was. Family and friends soon forgot about the loss and I have felt very sad and alone and isolated. My husband’s response has been different that mine and it has been hard on our relationship. Talking with other women who have miscarried has been helpful.

At 14 weeks my husband and I learned that our pregnancy was “not healthy”. We were surprise because at that point because we had made it to the 2nd trimester and I had been feeling so nauseous and tired we thought we were in the clear. We went for a routine ultrasound Friday morning and there was no baby visible. The doctor said I could get a D&C or go home and wait to miscarry naturally. She said if I “bled like a hose for more than an hour” I should go to the ER.

Somehow I thought that most miscarriages were like heavy periods (some are) that the body quasi-dissolved all the tissue and you just bled a lot. I started spotting later that day. Saturday night I began reading online about miscarriage and was surprised to find many stories of miscarriages around 14 weeks that talked about it as birth.  Sunday morning around 5am I started having waves of intense cramps which were contractions.

My thoughts and feelings were all over the place shock and numbness. What was I doing when my fetus was passing out of its short life? How could I have been so detached from my fetus? When I was pregnant I was very worried about how I was going to manage caring for two young ones. The challenge and vulnerability of having two children seemed so much larger that having one. I felt guilty about having felt that way.  I didn’t feel relieved at all. I dearly wished I was still pregnant. Wished I knew even one detail about who this person might have been. In the last weeks I had started imagining this baby more and being very pregnant in the summer and thinking about names and bought some maternity clothes. I thought about how given our advanced ages this may have been our last chance.  Read the rest of this entry »

Gabriel Andrade Pencils, Inks and Color for Page 8 of CPOH2

13 July 2015 by
Crossed Plus One Hundred No.2 P8 - art by Gabriel Andrade

Crossed Plus One Hundred No.2 P8 – penciled, inked and colored. Art by Gabriel Andrade, image from his Facebook page. Colored by Digikore Studios

Here are a couple more Crossed Plus One Hundred images from artist Gabriel Andrade’s Facebook page. Above is a comparative image showing his process from pencils to inks to final colored comic page (click on any image to enlarge.) As much as I am really enjoying Andrade’s excellent work, that comparison image makes me more appreciative of Digikore Studios coloring job – especially the sky. And below is another Andrade piece, Read the rest of this entry »

More Crossed Plus 100 Questions

14 May 2015 by

Readers solved many of the comics annotation reference mysteries I put out in this February 2015 post. A couple more issues of Alan Moore and Gabriel Andrade’s Crossed Plus One Hundred have hit the stands; I have posted annotations for No.3 here and No.4 here. But there are things I haven’t figured out, so I am going to toss out some more questions to readers.

Movie theater marquee from CPOH No.3, Page 14, panel 1 - art by Gabriel Andrade

Movie theater marquee detail from CPOH No.3, Page 14, panel 1 – art by Gabriel Andrade

1. What does the Chooga movie marquee say?

In Crossed Plus One Hundred No. 3, there’s a movie marquee in the human settlement in the year 2108 Chattanooga that has some letters left over from when it last showed films in the year 2008. It’s clear that one of the films was “Mama Mia!” which was released July 18th, 2008. On the right side of the marquee it says “_WR__R_” and “_LO_REI_” which should also be partial names of 2008 films. The “LO_REI” one could more-or-less be “Cloverfield” released January 2008, and suitably apocalyptic to match the CPOH world. I haven’t found anything else these might stand for. They’re probably the names of 2008 films, though they could say something like “coming soon,” “double feature,” “air conditioned”, or “eat popcorn”. Any ideas?

Images of 2008's The Surprise from the first pages of CPOH No.4 - art by Gabriel Andrade

Images of 2008’s The Surprise from the first pages of CPOH No.4 – art by Gabriel Andrade

2. Are these The Surprise scenes from earlier Crossed comics?

Crossed Plus One Hundred No.4 opens up with three pages showing what was happening a hundred years ago during “The Surprise” – the initial 2008 Crossed epidemic outbreak. The first panel shows Andrade’s version of an airplane crash that took place in the very first Garth Ennis / Jacen Burrows issue of Crossed. The subsequent panels show fairly specific scenes (in snow, in Japan) that I suspect are from other Crossed comics that I haven’t read yet. Any Crossed readers out there recognize these images?

3. Outstanding questions from earlier issues  Read the rest of this entry »

19-Month-Old Maeve Is A Climber

9 May 2015 by
Maeve climbing at Shatto Park

Maeve climbing at Shatto Park

I’ve been meaning to post some recent images of our daughter… but between work and parenting and doing a little art and writing about comics on the side, I don’t post often enough. Maeve is 20 months old, and, of course, growing and changing daily. Over the past couple months it seems like she’s been more active, more coordinated and more fearless about climbing up things, especially at the park.  Read the rest of this entry »

Mini Sneak Peek at Upcoming Crossed Plus One Hundred Gabriel Andrade Art

3 May 2015 by
Gabriel Andrade at work inking pages of Crossed Plus One Hundred. Image via GA Facebook

Gabriel Andrade hard at work inking pages of Crossed Plus One Hundred all night. Image via GA Facebook, his caption:  “7am, eyes swollen”

With four issues of six out, and plenty of ominous foreshadowing, Crossed Plus One Hundred is nearing the end of Gabriel Andrade’s and Alan Moore’s run. I was alread a big Moore fan, and am really enjoying Andrade’s art too. I’ve been annotating the CPOH issues and covers out so far, and reading through some Crossed comics antecedents, and exploring Moore’s Lovecraft-inspired works in advance of Providence.

I was happy to spot a couple of photos on Gabriel Andrade’s Facebook page that are pretty clearly nearly-completed artwork for an upcoming issue of Crossed Plus One Hundred. Enough to tide us CPOH fans over until the next issue appears, No. 5, probably in May or June 2015.  Read the rest of this entry »

Ralph 124C 41+ Puts the Science in Science Fiction

1 March 2015 by
Cover of Ralph 124C 41+

Cover of Ralph 124C 41+ by Hugo Gernsback, illustration by Frank R. Paul

I just finished reading Hugo Gernsback’s early science fiction novel Ralph 124C 41+: A Romance of the Year 2660.

As of a couple months ago I hadn’t heard of this book, though it was initially serialized beginning in 1911.

I found out about it by reading the comic book Crossed Plus One Hundred (CPOH) by Alan Moore and Gabriel Andrade. The first issue of Crossed Plus One Hundred is titled “124C41+”. On the first read through, I didn’t even notice the title, located at the bottom of a splash page with a narrator introducing a steam-punk skeleton-piled future world. Ralph 124C 41+ is mentioned a few times in the issue. I later began annotating CPOH, and in the process Googled “124C41+” and that lead me to understanding what the reference was, and, later, heading to the L.A. Public Library to check it out and read it.

Let me say here, that I am going to do a spotty review of Ralph 124C 41+, mostly as it relates to CPOH and Alan Moore. If you’re looking for a good thorough review of Ralph 124C 41+ maybe read SF Site, The Economist, or Twenty First Century Books, or see its instructive page on Wikipedia.

The author Hugo Gernsback (1884-1967) is the eponymous Hugo behind science fiction’s Hugo awards. According to Wikipedia, he was an inventor, a radio and electronics enthusiast. He went on to publish the first science fiction magazine. Reading Ralph 124C 41+, it’s clear that Gernsback is more taken with science than he is with fiction. Gernsback more thoroughly imagines and describes technological advances than he does plot or character. It’s not bad, definitely worth reading, but it’s not great literature.

In fact it seems to me that this is one of the works that gives the science fiction genre its name. It could have been called future fiction, speculative fiction, super fiction, etc. In CPOH, Moore calls it Wishful Fiction. Not all science fictions is about science, the way Ralph is. Sci-fi authors I’ve read, including Octavia Butler, Ursula K. LeGuin, Ray Bradbury, and Robert Heinlein, seem more interested in what sci-fi says about humanity than what it says about science.

There were earlier pieces written in what would become the sci-fi genre (Frankenstein, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea) but it is Gernsback’s science-infatuation that ends up giving us the name of the genre. Gernsback, as an editor/publisher, came up with the name “scientifiction” which later became science fiction.

The title character Ralph is “one of the greatest living scientists” hence of ten great men (yah, no girls allowed in 1911’s 2660) allowed to put a “+” after their names. Ralph “the scientist, man of action” is the star, who can seemingly invent anything at the drop of a hat, and “[b]eing a true scientist, Ralph wanted to make his own dangerous experiments.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Photoshoot by the L.A. River, September 2014

19 February 2015 by
Our family at the Los Angeles River, September 2014, photo by Matt Grashaw

Our family at the Los Angeles River, September 2014, photo by Matt Grashaw

I never got around to posting these excellent photos we took last year – September 30, 2014. Carrie used them for our holiday cars last December. The photographer is Matt Grashaw, who we met on a Glendale bakery walk hosted by Walk Bike Glendale. He is great, and highly recommended. (We just did another shoot with him, and I’ll post some more photos soon.)

MG2014A

September 2014

MG2014B

September 2014

More pictures after the jump.  Read the rest of this entry »


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