Category Archives: comics

Horrifying News from MTV

Puff Daddy/Diddy created girl group Danity Kane is releasing a comic. This was the paragraph that made my brain shriek:

“Right now, it’s just a regular comic, but we want to do a manga issue. We love manga and anime,” Richard said. “’Full Metal Alchemist’ is the bomb, and we are such junkies for ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ and ‘Dragon Ball Z‘.”

I do agree that Fullmetal Alchemist is the bomb, but I don’t think the world needs any more pop stars issuing manga about themselves. Eep! The preview comic linked in the article above is scary looking.

Amethyst Princess of Gemworld #1 (second series)

This is the first issue of the second run of Amethyst. This series started out ok, but later issues pulled Amethyst into DC continuity (Crisis on Infinite Earths, etc) and it didn’t finish very well.

The cover shows Amy changing into Amethyst as she arrives on the Gemworld by stepping through a magical portal. Unfortunately things aren’t quite that easy, because as we saw in the Annual, the road between the worlds has been clogged with all sorts of magical junk.

The title of this issue is “The Long Way Home.”

Amethyst is searching for the door to the Gemworld, but she can’t find it. In fact she can barely see because the path is so blocked.

After searching for a little while, she realizes that she’s lost her way back to Earth, and a fish creature with electric eye stalks starts to attack her. When she attacks it with her magic, its eyes light up. She hits it again to get a little more light, and she finds the Earth portal just in time.

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Amethyst Annual #1

Amethyst Princess of Gemworld Annual #1

This annual serves as a bridge between the first Amethyst 12 issue mini-series and the next 16 issue series. The cover features Amethyst wielding her magic, surrounded by her Gemworld allies Lord Garnet, Lady Turquoise, Prince Topaz, and the Emerald Princesses. Amy’s school friend Rita is crouched down looking up at Amethyst.

This story is called “Point of No Return”. Amy is trudging to school with her books, her head facing down. In the background she’s remembering Topaz, Garnet, Turquoise, and herself as the grown-up princess Amethyst. Rita is yelling at her in the school hallway, trying to get her attention. Amy says that she was thinking. Rita encourages a boy named Tom to ask Amy to the Spring Dance. Amy says, “I guess so Tom, I don’t have anything else to do. But I’ll have to check with my Mom and Dad.” Tom asks if she doesn’t want to go to the dance, and Amy says that she does but she has to run to gym class.

Amy and Rita are changing for gym. Rita asks Amy what her problem is, since Tom is cute and has a huge crush on her. Amy says that she doesn’t know what’s wrong, she sort of likes Tom too. I can see why Amy would have this dilemma. Topaz does seem to have a habit of being mopey and staring off into the distance, but he is a cute blond man who runs around in tight fitting breeches. Poor Tom is just a typical 14 year old boy.

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Prince Topaz’s Makeover

I’d always thought that the first meeting between Amethyst and Topaz took place off panel, but one of my commenters who obviously has much better reading comprehension skills than I pointed out that there’s a panel of Prince Topaz in the very first issue:

He looks very different than when he pops up next doesn’t he? So I wonder how Topaz managed to transform himself so quickly:

  • After falling in love with Amethyst at first sight, he decided that he had to have hair that looked just like hers, so he ran to Lady Tourmaline’s Extensions-O-Rama Hair Salon and bought himself some long flowing blond locks.
  • Not content with merely having blond hair, he decided to trade in his orange scaly armor, puffy shirt, and purple toga at Beryl’s Bangin’ Breeches – Specializing in tight knickers since the reign of Lord Ruby!. Lord Beryl insisted on making Topaz wear pants that would match his yellow eyes.
  • I find it notable that in his first appearance, Topaz is perched in a balcony staring off into the distance. I don’t know why he has this odd fetish for standing in high places, but it is good to know that his odd habits were firmly established in the first issue of Amethyst.

Really, this version of Topaz looks much less foppish and more serious, even though he is oddly passive about watching the future love of his life being manhandled or ogrehandled as the case may be.

Drawing Words and Writing Pictures

Drawing Words and Writing Pictures Making Comics: Manga, Graphic Novels, and Beyond (Paperback)
by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden (amazon)

Drawing Words and Writing Pictures is a art class in a book, giving an overview of the process of creating comic books. It is divided up into themed chapters, so budding comics creators can explore topics like layout, inking, lettering, story development, and digital art. Each chapter has a suggested reading list for further study and exercises for students. A variety of examples was used throughout the book, ranging from Matt Feazell’s Cynicalman to the work of the Hernandez brothers. The examples showcase a wide variety of artists and styles, providing a good overview of a variety of historical landmarks in comics and current indie creators.

My main quibble with this book is that it mentions manga in the title, but there isn’t really much manga coverage or use of manga in illustrating comics storytelling other than a couple panels from Osamu Tezuka and Hiroaki Samura’s Blade of the Immortal. Manga has some unique artistic conventions and storytelling techniques and I would have liked to have seen a few pages address it. There also isn’t that much in the way of superhero coverage. That aside, art books tend to be very popular in libraries and I think most public libraries will want to add Drawing Words and Writing Pictures to their collection. It is a very solid resource for aspiring artists and reading this made me appreciate all the work that goes into creating comics.

There’s a companion web site available with resources for students and teachers using the book at http://www.dw-wp.com.

A review copy was provided by First Second.

Libraries & Comica

A couple quick links to some library related commentary from the blogosphere:

Get Over Yourself – Manga Xanadu reacts to a story about a kid checking out mature manga from a library. Really, if more parents had an approach like hers, there would be way fewer library challenges.

Circulatory systems – Precocious Curmudgeon lists 5 essential comics for libraries.

Zot!: The Complete Black and White Collection

Zot!: The Complete Black and White Collection: 1987-1991 by Scott McCloud (amazon)

I just finished reading Zot!: The Complete Black and White Collection and was reminded again why Zot! has always been one of my favorite comic books. It is funny that now Scott McCloud is more well-known for being a comics pundit than for creating one of the best indie comics of the late 80s. I don’t usually buy collected editions of things I already own in single issue form, but I thought that a collected edition of Zot! would make for nice satisfying reading. If you haven’t encountered it before, Zot is a superhero on a retrofuturistic version of Earth. His “not-girlfriend” Jenny is a normal kid who is struggling with dealing with all the issues of real life like her parents getting divorced and the torture of high school. The first few issues of the collection feature plenty of superhero fun with Zot fighting villains like the De-Evolutionaries, a cult-like group armed with guns that transform people into apes, and Dr. Bellows, whose weapons are based on technology from the industrial revolution. McCloud shifts into more serious territory when Zot and Jenny are trapped on our Earth, but there is a core of sunny optimism that always remains when one of the main characters is from the far-flung future of 1965. If you haven’t read it before, I recommend picking it up! I’m glad that part of the series is back in print.

Comic-Con and Sexual Harassment

John DiBello is Bully’s friend. He wrote a piece about some of his experiences at San Diego Comic-Con:

Overheard at San Diego Comic-Con while I was having lunch on the balcony of the Convention Center on Sunday July 27: a bunch of guys looking at the digital photos on the camera of another, while he
narrated: “These were the Ghostbusters girls. That one, I grabbed her ass, ’cause I wanted to see what her reaction was.” This was only one example of several instance of harassment, stalking or assault that I saw at San Diego this time.

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Amethyst Princess of Gemworld #12

It is finally here! The showdown between Amethyst and Dark Opal! Sorry for getting a little off track with my posting schedule, things have been somewhat hectic around here.

The cover of Amethyst #12 shows a victorious Amethyst hefting a sword while Prince Topaz and Lord Garnet grin in the background.

She’s surrounded by gold picture frames containing supporting characters like her dear departed Granch, the Emerald Princesses, a surly Prince Carnelian, Citrina, Sardonyx, Dark Opal, and a worried looking Mr. and Mrs Winston.

Sardonyx is falling through nothingness in the strange dimension inhabited by the Emissaries of Varn. He grabs a passing shooting star and shoves it in the face of one of the Emissaries.

That’s pretty bad-ass. I would think it would both hurt a bunch and be physically impossible to hold a star in your hand, but I guess the normal laws of physics don’t apply if you are in Varn.

I’m not quite sure what to make of the revelation that Sardonyx was hiding a set of goat-like horns under his headdress.

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Amethyst Princess of Gemworld #11

It is the second to last issue of the first Amethyst mini-series. Everyone heads for the final confrontation with Dark Opal!

The cover of this issue shows Amethyst with a sword standing outside Dark Opal’s fortress. He waits for her inside, with his face in shadow. It is all very ominous! Let’s hope our heroes prevail!

It seems that Dark Opal’s fortress might need a new interior designer and some curb appeal, as the reader is informed that “Fortress Opal sits like an open sore upon the face of the Gemworld, infecting the very air around it!”

Maybe Opal should apply to go on Trading Spaces to get his place fixed up so it no longer is an infectious open sore.

Carnelian is hanging out in his room with his pet snake, gloating that he has captured the amethyst fragment and Opal doesn’t know anything about it. He thinks that while Opal may have magic, he has all the smarts in the family.

As Carnelian sits thinking about how he’ll make Dark Opal beg for the amethyst, it is ripped out of his hand by an unseen force. That would be Dark Opal, coming to get the amethyst. Oopsie!

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