Podcast - Episode 60: The New Frontier

We have come to the end of our summer book club! We read a lot of great books (and also Hush!) and now we end with one of the best things ever written, honestly, Darwyn Cooke's The New Frontier.

Ok, first of all, check out this thing that Dave drew for me for my birthday:

Amazing, right? I love that Winter Scout has a Super Soaker. And I love that Dave gave Bucky nice, thick thighs.

Here is the Winter Soldier cake that my husband made me. It was really delicious:

Dave and I talk about the Harvey Awards, which were given out this past week. I mention the 2009 nominations when a NASCAR Heroes comic was nominated in, I believe, several categories. Chris Haley and Curt Franklin had a great comic about it, which you can see here (along with all of the great Let's Be Friends Again comics).

Man, I just fell down a hole of reading a whole bunch of their comics again. So great!

Ok, let's just bask in the majesty that is The New Frontier.

Man, I could just pull panels from this thing forever. 

Thanks for joining us for our first book club! It was fun! Next week J.Bone will be joining us...not via Skype this time!

Podcast - Episode 45: Darwyn Cooke

They say you should never meet your heroes, but I think I can speak for both Dave and myself when I say that we consider ourselves very lucky to have been able to spend the time we did in Darwyn Cooke's company.

The news of Darwyn's death this week was absolutely devastating, not only to those who knew him, but those who love his work. And there are a lot of people who love his work.

I was certainly not close with him, but he was always very warm and friendly and generous to me and I loved every opportunity I got to talk to him. I am very sad that I won't have that opportunity again. He was an unparalleled talent in the comic book world, and he was a tremendous presence here in the local comic book scene in Halifax. He was a lot of fun, and he will be dearly missed.

In this episode, Dave and I share our own memories of him, and we look back at his incredible body of work. The news of his death is still very fresh, and we are very sad, but we laugh a lot throughout the episode because the stories about Darwyn tend to be pretty funny. And we prefer to laugh than cry. 

We talk about Darwyn for the first part of the episode, but we decided to still include some of our usual content in the second half. Mostly because I needed to talk about something else for a little while. So we end with some fun comic news stuff (and talk about Civil War a little more). 

Here are some of the sketches Darwyn did for Dave that were mentioned:

We mention that Darwyn was handing out rough pencil pages from New Frontier at his Absolute Edition signing at Strange Adventures. Because he is crazy generous. Here is the one that Dave got:

And this is the one I got:

I've always wanted to get that framed together with the finished page, but I can never bring myself to cut up a copy of the comic.

Here is a sketch of Batman Darwyn did for me:

And this is what was written in the copy of his DC art book that he gave me on the last day I saw him:

And here is the clip of Darwyn talking about Nathan Boone's short film, Arty, while on a panel. Because he was supportive and nice.

I'm sad, guys. This is really, really horrible, and I am truly sorry for his close friends and loved ones, especially Marsha.

I'll leave it there. I'm not going to link to the other dumb things we talk about. Please buy Darwyn's books if you don't own them all already. And if you do own them, re-read them. And consider making a donation to Hero Initiative or the Canadian Cancer Society in his memory.

Oh, and I was not kidding about Mitchell being terrible at drawing Venom:

Dave's Faves of 2010! Well Into 2011, Even!

This should have ideally been finished and posted somewhere around, oh, December, but general holiday craziness (and ongoing work on my comic Slam-A-Rama, on sale now!) kept me from compiling a list of my favourite comics of 2010. Better late than never, eh? Anyways, here goes. In no particular order...


STRANGE SCIENCE FANTASY By Scott Morse (IDW): Definitely not for everybody, but this six-part mini almost single-handedly restored my faith in single-issue comic books in 2010. Genres collide in this loving mash-up of sci-fi, film noir, and any number of other styles and tropes that might have at one point or other influenced Morse. The perfect antidote to Big Two event fatigue (see my original review here).


ELMER By Gerry Alanguilan (SLG): This absurdist fable imagines a world where chickens have gained the ability to think and speak, and chronicles their ensuing struggle for civil rights. Alanguilan's highly detailed, expressive artwork perfectly realizes the concept's equal potential for both humour and horror (see my original review here).


SET TO SEA By Drew Weing (Fantagraphics Books): A gentle giant of a poet is abducted into a life of high-seas adventure, with scary and ultimately uplifting results. This handsome little hardcover tells a story in full-page illustrations, in an intricately-detailed style reminiscent of conflicting influences like Tony Millionaire, Eric Shanower, Craig Thompson, and Steve Purcell. A special LBW shout-out goes to my pal Chris MacLaren to recommending this one to me after it initially flew under my radar.


THE SIXTH GUN By Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt (Oni Press): The weird, wild West comes alive in this supernatural oat opera. A roguish thief and an innocent young girl join forces to prevent the forces of evil from taking possession of six magically-endowed pistols, possibly at the cost of their own souls. A more rewarding monthly read than most offerings from the big two, but the first six are available in trade paperback form now too.


PARKER: THE OUTFIT By Darwyn Cooke (IDW): It’s hard to imagine how Cooke could have stepped up his game any further after his initial Richard Stark adaptation, The Hunter (see my review here), but this latest Parker caper effortlessly blows its predecessor away. Parker’s criminal fraternity wages war on the organized crime cartel of the book’s title, and the myriad of cons and stick-ups are presented in a dazzling array of different artistic styles.


THOR: THE MIGHTY AVENGER By Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee (Marvel): I hate that I live in a world where a book as charming and fun as this can’t even get a lousy twelve-issue commitment from its publisher. Marvel would likely blame it on the poor sales of all-ages books, but I’m gonna say it has more to do with the roughly eighteen zillion other Thor titles this book had to compete with for shelf space and reader dollars. It’s a damn shame, because this is easily the best of them. This freshly reimagined origin story for the Thunder God is a true "all ages" book--meaning, it's a great read for anybody, no matter their age or gender.


OFFICER DOWNE By Joe Casey and Chris Burnham (Image): The hyper-violent offspring of books like Judge Dredd and Marshal Law, this double-sized Image one-shot, starring an unkillable (or, at least, easily resuscitated) supercop, takes the prize for intricately-drawn carnage (see my original review here).


WILSON By Daniel Clowes (Drawn & Quarterly): Soon to be a film from Alexander Payne (Sideways, About Schmidt), this chronicle of an aging, disaffected loner trying desperately to connect with his estranged wife and daughter deepens with every re-reading. Come for the one-page Sunday Funnies styles, stay for the crippling emotional despair! (See my original review here.)


ATLAS By Jeff Parker and Gabriel Hardman (Marvel): I figure this latest relaunch of the revived 1950s-superteam-that-never-was (which I previously praised here) probably suffered as much from having a “Heroic Age” banner atop it as its previous incarnation (Agents of Atlas) did from having a “Dark Reign” banner atop it (take a note, Marvel, line-wide banners don’t encourage new readers, they drive them away!). Either way, five issues isn’t nearly enough to savour the globe-spanning fun of a team that featured a talking gorilla, a spaceman, and a 3D Man (among others). Let’s hope these guys make their way back into the spotlight sooner rather than later.


"Snapshot: Revelation!" from DC UNIVERSE: LEGACIES #8, By Len Wein and Frank Quitely (DC): A reasonably faithful 10-page retelling of NEW GODS #1 (with some other assorted Fourth World recaps thrown in for good measure). For straight-up clarity, call it the anti-FINAL CRISIS. And Quitely drawing Kirby's New Gods? Get outta my dreams, DC UNIVERSE: LEGACIES! Kudos to Mr. Quitely for drawing the most hideous “true face” of Orion I’ve ever seen—dude looks like he just snuck a peek into the Ark of the Covenant:


Party like it's Wednesday!

Come have a drink with your Living Between Wednesday pals as we celebrate the release of Darwyn Cooke's Parker: The Hunter.

Strange Adventures is hosting the book launch this Thursday, August 6th at 7pm at the Frigate.

There'll be snacks, drinks, prizes and of course, Mr. Cooke will be there signing books and talking trash.

Let the internet know you're coming!

If you haven't yet, check out what Dave had to say about Parker!

Fun times, for sure.

(By the way, the Frigate is located on Granville St, next door to the Tribeca. Or you can enter at 1581 Barrington Street at the Pogue Fado and go downstairs.)

"You'll Have To Hire A Lot Of New People." Special Advance Review of Darwyn Cooke's Parker: The Hunter!

It seems as though writer/artist Darwyn Cooke has been a fixture of the comic industry a lot longer than he has. Consider this—his breakthrough graphic novel, Batman: Ego, was released a mere nine years ago, showcasing a creative sensibility already finely honed by years spent in design and animation. Since then, Cooke has increased his profile with his work on Catwoman (first with the original graphic novel Selina’s Big Score, and followed by penciling duties on the most recent run of the ongoing series), his epic re-imagining of the Justice League’s origin in the New Frontier miniseries, and his relaunch of Will Eisner’s The Spirit. Cooke entered the comics field with a clear idea of what he wanted to do and how he wanted it done, and that straightforwardness of purpose has never been more clear than in his latest graphic novel, an adaptation of Richard Stark’s (AKA Donald Westlake) first Parker novel, The Hunter, available at finer comic and book stores everywhere July 22.

The Hunter formed the basis for the 1967 film Point Blank, starring Lee Marvin, and 1999’s Payback with Mel Gibson. However, unlike its cinematic ancestors, Cooke’s graphic novel sticks to the book’s plotline exactly, following tough-as-nails professional thief Parker as he punches, chokes, stabs, and shoots his way to the top of a criminal organization known alternately as the Outfit, the Syndicate, or the Organization. We learn through various flashbacks that Parker was betrayed and left for dead on his last job by both his wife and his fellow thieves, and after a stint on a work farm for vagrancy, Parker hits the mean streets of New York looking for satisfaction (and the $45,000 that constitutes his end of the job’s take). As Parker works his way up the food chain, he learns that the money from the heist was used to pay off an outstanding mob loan, which means that the only way for him to get it back is to shake down the Organization for it. Outnumbered and outgunned, Parker nonetheless meets the criminal conspiracy head on, bumping off various lieutenants and assorted underlings in order to instigate a final showdown.

In the first of four proposed hardcover Parker graphic novels for IDW publishing, Cooke has stripped his style down to the bare essentials, in a way that matches Stark’s famously blunt prose. The only colour that appears is a gunmetal blue tone, and even the panel borders have disappeared. The result is a sparse, high-contrast look that resembles images glimpsed in the muzzle flash of a pistol. The book’s 1962 setting allows Cooke to run wild with the kind of settings and fashions that clearly grip his imagination. The confident, no-nonsense storytelling doesn’t lead you by the hand—for instance, at one point Parker uses a pocket knife to disfigure a corpse before hiding it, and we don’t learn why for several more pages. However, there’s never any doubt that we will learn why, and that the answer will make perfect sense. As a character, Parker is wholly unsympathetic; at one point, he accidentally kills an innocent woman while attempting to subdue her. He doesn’t even really register remorse over this, but instead finds a way to use her death to create a distraction that brings him closer to his prey. Stark and Cooke never ask us to empathize with Parker, though—we’re merely witnesses to his relentless pursuit of what he sees as fair retribution. Readers seeking morally upright, or at least morally conflicted, protagonists might want to look elsewhere. The Hunter feels exactly like the book Darwyn Cooke was born to do, in terms of setting, characters, and subject matter. Reading it, you can tell he had the time of his life creating it, and that kind of enthusiasm is always infectious.

2009 Shuster Awards Nominees Announced!

The nominees for the 2009 Joe Shuster Awards for Canadian Comic Book Creators were announced today! The full list of nominees can be viewed on the official website here.

Among the nominees are our local pals Darwyn Cooke (best cartoonist, best writer, best cover art), Steve McNiven (best artist, best cover art) and Faith Erin Hicks (best cartoonist)! Yay! Also, Dave's buddy on the other side of the country, Steve Rolston, was nominated for best artist!

Sadly, local cartoonist Ray Fenwick failed to get a nomination for his amazing collection, Hall of Best Knowledge (Fantagraphics). Also, J. Bone not being recognized for his awesome cover work on Super Friends is just insane. One look at the list of nominees tells you how much comic book talent we have here in Canada, and you should see who didn't make the cut! We are overflowing with talent from sea to frigid sea!

This was my second year on the panel of judges(?) to pick the shortlist, and it's something I love to be a part of. The winners will be announced in Toronto on June 27th (I believe at a ceremony that is part of the Toronto ComicCon?).

Congratulations to all the nominees and good luck!