Girls of the Wild’s: Fantastical MMA from Korea

Saturday, April 20th, 2019 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

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I try to read a bit of everything. I’ve blogged about Webtoons.com before — it’s a massive (like thousands) webcomic hosting site in South Korea. I’ve mentioned Newman, Cyko-KOmaybe Elf and Warrior, but in the last couple of weeks I’ve burned through 190 episodes (each one is equivalent to 4-6 comic book pages) of a 260 episode series called Girls of the Wild’s

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It’s basically Harry Potter goes to a Korean Hogwarts, except instead of magic, it’s mixed martial arts, and instead of wizards, it’s a girls school. And now it’s co-ed for the first time, and a poor guy called Jaegu, who gets beat up and bullied a lot, and who has to raise his two kindergarten siblings because his mother abandoned them, is the first and only male student.

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Goth Chick News: Plunging into Twisted Dark

Thursday, April 18th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

The Traveller comic The Theory comic

In the name of full disclosure, I must admit I’m a sucker for a Brit. And if that Brit happens to write dark, twisted, steam-punky comics, then put your thumbs in your ears while I do a full on, fan-girl squee…

Okay, maybe scratch that mental image and let’s move on.

We first met British writer Neil Gibson back in early 2014 at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo. Then he was promoting volume one of Twisted Dark; the illustrated story he had written which had just been published by indie comic house TPub in the UK.

In May 2015, Twisted Dark reached number one on the UK Kindle chart. And when I was in London’s famous Foyles bookstore last year, another of Gibson’s offerings, Tortured Life was highlighted as a “staff pick” in the graphic novel section.

Six volumes of Twisted Dark and several other series later, it’s clear I’m far from being the only fan of Gibson’s unique style of storytelling. So a couple weeks ago when he emailed to let me know his newest project with TPub, The Traveler, was complete and a Kickstarter campaign had been launched to bring it to life in print, I was as happy as a cosplayer at a 2-for-1 spandex sale to get a look and tell you all about it.

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Future Treasures: Decades: Marvel in the 70s – Legion of Monsters

Thursday, April 18th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Marvel Decades Legion of Monsters-smallIf there’s a company out there that knows how to use nostalgia to shake dollars out of me, it’s Marvel. I’ve already shelled out for their deluxe hardcover Omnibus volumes, the black & white Essentials line, and more recently I’ve spent a fortune on their Epic Collections, which assemble 18 issues apiece of early core titles like Thor, Spider-Man, Avengers and Fantastic Four. Recently they’ve launched a Decades series that looks at some of the more offbeat comics from Marvel’s long history and, heaven help me, I’m reaching for my wallet again. In this case it’s for a nearly forgotten team book from the 70s which has never let go of my imagination.

Celebrate 80 years of Marvel Comics, decade by decade — together with the groovy ghoulies of the Supernatural Seventies! It was an era of black-and-white magazines filled with macabre monsters, and unsettling new titles starring horror-themed “heroes”! Now, thrill to Marvel’s greatest horror icons: The melancholy muck-monster known as the Man-Thing — whosoever knows fear burns at his touch! Morbius, the Living Vampire! Jack Russell, cursed to be a Werewolf-by-Night! And the flame-skulled spirit of vengeance, the Ghost Rider! But what happens when they are forced together to become… the Legion of Monsters? Plus stories starring Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, Manphibian, the vampire-hunter Blade… and never-before-reprinted tales of terror!

COLLECTING: LEGION OF MONSTERS (1975) 1; MARVEL PREVIEW 8; MARVEL PREMIERE 28; MARVEL SPOTLIGHT (1971) 2, 5; FRANKENSTEIN (1973) 1; TOMB OF DRACULA (1972) 10; MATERIAL FROM SAVAGE TALES (1971) 1

Previous titles in the Decades series include Marvel in the 60s – Spider-Man Meets the Marvel Universe, collecting 60s Spider-Man stories from Amazing, Avengers, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, and other places; Marvel in the 50s – Captain America Strikes! which gathers material from Young Men, Captain America (1954), Men’s Adventures, and other mags; Marvel in the 80s – Awesome Evolutions, which collects some of the bizarre makeovers of the 80s, including Spider-Man’s black costume, Storm’s mohawk, Thor’s battle armor and the Hulk’s return to gray.

Decades: Marvel in the 70s – Legion of Monsters will be published by Marvel on April 23, 2019. It is 248 pages, priced at $24.99 in print and $16.99 in digital formats.


Tillie the Toiler and Rosie the Robot

Wednesday, March 27th, 2019 | Posted by Steve Carper

Tilie the Toiler, Large Feature Comics #30 1942

The history of comic strips sometimes seems like a roll call of male names. The Katzenjammer Kids, Little Nemo, Tarzan, Moon Mullins, Li’l Abner, Barnaby, Terry and the Pirates, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Joe Palooka, Barney Google, Mutt and Jeff, Dick Tracy, Harold Teen, and the name of names, Rube Goldberg’s Boob McNutt. Even Blondie heads a strip that’s 99.9% about Dagwood.

Probably the most famous female comic strip heroine is Little Orphan Annie. Digging into archives brings up a roster of mostly forgotten others: Ella Cinders, Etta Kett, Winnie Winkler, Invisible Scarlet O’Neil, Little Annie Rooney, Dixie Dugan, Betty, Nancy, and Dimples, a roster that will bring few images to mind.

Only a handful of comic strips ever ran a major series starring robots, and those were mostly in the male-oriented science fiction strips. Two rare exceptions occurred in Invisible Scarlet O’Neil and Ella Cinders, but both robots were drawn and referred to as males. (How do you sex a robot? The top set of swimmerets on a female’s tail are soft, translucent, and crossed at the tips. A male’s swimmerets are bony, opaque, and point up toward his body. Sorry. That’s how you sex a lobster. You sex robots by the length of their hair and the size of their breasts, just like humans. Check below if you don’t believe me.) Finding a strip with a female star going up against a female robot is the rarity of rarities.

Today’s unique find is Rosie the Robot in Tillie the Toiler. (Not the far more famous Jetson’s Rosie. Rosie is to girl robots what Robbie is to boy robots: hideously overused.)

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The Assured Place of Superheroes in American Popular Culture

Friday, March 15th, 2019 | Posted by Nick Ozment

avengers assemble!Some people, 24 (or 25?) movies in, are expressing MCU superhero movie fatigue. (Certainly not me or most of my friends — the films continue to be some of the more fun, thrilling entertainments to be had at the cineplex two or three times a year. Is the quality dropping off? Hell no — try to rank ‘em; I’ll bet several of the ones at the top of the list came out just in the last couple years.) I’m talking about a few critics (some of whom were saying the genre was getting “tired” and “played out” 15 films ago), and a few newcomers who didn’t grow up on four-color comics but jumped on the bandwagon when the culture went crazy for costumed crime-fighters.

I can imagine how it must look to them: Now they turn on their TV and it seems like a dozen streaming and broadcast tv shows are about caped crusaders; they check the movie listings and half the films filling up theater screens are about super-powered beings.

They suggest it will eventually play out. They think audiences will finally be sated, the fad will pass. Everyone will grow tired of beautiful people in spandex.

I’ve got news for them.

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Higher, Further, Faster: Captain Marvel

Sunday, March 10th, 2019 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Captain Marvel (Brie Larson)

I just came back from watching Captain Marvel with my 14-year old son. He was super excited to see it. He hasn’t yet maxed out on superhero movies like his dad. That being said, I was also pretty hyped to see it, in part because Captain Marvel was one of the comics I first started collecting when I was eleven and twelve years old. Back then, I was reading the Mar-Vell version, but I also picked up some Claremont/Cockrum Ms. Marvel because of Captain Marvel and because Carol Danvers was a regular in the Uncanny X-Men at the time.

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Hither Came Conan: Iron Shadows in the Moon, the Bible, and Dark Horse

Monday, March 4th, 2019 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Hither_Shadows_PirateFightEDITED2 Timothy Truman turned sixty-three recently. Truman is one of the leading graphic book writers and artists in the industry. He was a cornerstone of Dark Horse’s Conan line, both writing and drawing.

Truman scripted “Iron Shadows in the Moon,” which Morgan Holmes recently expounded on. So, today we’ve got a bonus Hither Came Conan post, looking at Dark Horse’s version. Along with some discussion of the ‘before and after’ in that storyline.

The Free Companions covered issues 16 -18 of Dark Horse’s Conan The Cimmerian run. They picked up the storyline after the end of “Black Colossus,” with Conan at Yasmela’s side, to the disapproval of the Khorajans. He rescues her brother, king Khossus, but by story’s end, is displaced by Prince Julion of Muric (Al-Muric), an exiled stepson of King Strabonus.

Issues 19 – 21, Kozaki, cover Conan leading the Free Companions. After being dismissed from Khorajan service by Al-Muric, they raided willy nilly, building up some enmity.

But all of this is muddled together, as Dark Horse has Conan, near dead, in the swamps of the Ilbars River, the lone survivor of the Free Companions. And until Shah Amaruth shows up, pursuing Olivia, the story is a mélange of flashbacks involving Conan, Olivia’s story, and activity in the swamps. It will take more effort than it’s worth to sort through all that, so I’ll just work in a relatively linear fashion, time-wise.

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Kelly Chiu Gives us 6 Reasons to Devour Ryōko Kui’s Delicious in Dungeon

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Delicious in Dungeon Volume One-small Delicious in Dungeon Volume Two-small Delicious in Dungeon Volume Three-small

Every few years I promise myself I’m going to do a better job keeping up with the latest fantasy manga, but I never really do. But last year I did manage to discover the delightful Delicious in Dungeon, written and illustrated by Ryōko Kui, and I consider that a major win.

Delicious in Dungeon is a Japanese fantasy comedy about a 6-member adventurer party very nearly wiped out in a Total Party Kill deep in a dungeon. In the last moments before she’s swallowed by a dragon, the magic-user Falin uses the last of her strength to teleport her brother Laios and the rest of the party to the surface. Defeated and demoralized, and faced with the loss of most of their coin and equipment, two members quit immediately, but Laios convinces the last two to join him in a desperate sprint back into the dungeon before his sister is digested and beyond the reach even of the most powerful healing magic. Famished and too penniless to provision, Laios concocts a foolhardy plan to eat the monsters they encounter on their way down.

That’s the basic set-up for a extremely imaginative and frequently hilarious dungeon romp featuring three hapless foodies in a gloriously elaborate monster haven. The setting in fact is a huge part of the charm of this series, and it will be warmly familiar to anyone who’s played D&D or a similar early RPG, with its crowded underground markets and well stocked trading outposts scarcely 50 yards from trap-infested monster gardens. The slimes, mushroom men, man-eating plants and other oddball creatures they come up against will also bring back fond memories of the classic dungeon delves of your youth. They’re delightfully wacky, just like the plans our heroes come up with to eat them.

Late last year Kelly Chiu at the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog wrote a fine piece on the series, just before the English translation of the sixth volume arrived in stores. Kelly has a sharp sense for what makes the series so appealing to old school gamers and general comic fans alike, and in 6 Reasons to Devour Delicious in Dungeon she hit on many of the things I most enjoy about it. Here’s a few of her most on-target comments.

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Hither Came Conan: Dave Hardy on “Vale of Lost Women”

Monday, February 25th, 2019 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Hither_ValeMarvelCoverEDITEDWelcome back to the latest installment of Hither Came Conan, where a leading Robert E. Howard expert (and me) examine one of the original Conan stories each week, highlighting what’s best. Dave Hardy is the leading El Borak scholar around, and today he weighs in with a fresh perspective on what is pretty much regarded as one of Howard’s worst Conan tales.

PAIN CRYSTALLIZED AND MANIFESTED IN FLESH: THE VALE OF LOST WOMEN

“She was drowned in a great gulf of pain—was herself but pain crystallized and manifested in flesh. So she lay without conscious thought or motion, while outside the drums bellowed, the horns clamored, and barbaric voices lifted hideous chants, keeping time to naked feet slapping the heard earth and open palms smiting one another softly.”

“The Vale of Lost Women” is a neglected part of the Conan canon, scorned even. It was not particularly loved in Howard’s time. Howard wrote “Vale of Lost Women” probably around February 1933. Howard was unable to sell “Vale.” If he submitted it to Farnsworth Wright at Weird Tales, Wright didn’t buy it. The story was first published in The Magazine of Horror in the Spring, 1967 issue. Compared with such gems as “Queen of the Black Coast,” “Red Nails,” “Black Colossus,” or “Tower of the Elephant,” “Vale” might seem a very slight tale indeed.

And yet there is something primal about “Vale” that defies one to forget it. Despite its crudities and glibness, it taps into dark recesses of fundamental fears and dream logic.

The setting is a village in Kush, the fictional equivalent of Africa. Livia is a young woman from Ophir, one of the civilized countries of Hyboria, in Howard’s setting for the Conan stories. It is a pseudo-European country, inhabited by a fair-skinned folk. She had journeyed with her brother, Theteles, who sought to learn sorcerous wisdom in a remote Stygian city. Instead they were captured by Kushite raiders and came to be captives of Bajujh, king of Bakalah.

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The Poison Apple: Mr. Sci-Fi: An Interview with Marc Zicree and the Future with Space Command

Monday, February 18th, 2019 | Posted by Elizabeth Crowens

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Crowens: I wanted to interview someone whose focus was not only the entertainment industry but also science fiction. Previously, almost everyone I’ve interviewed has been involved in fantasy or horror. After following you on Facebook I really wanted to interview you. Right away, I’ve been able to pick up on your “contagious enthusiasm” and high energy.

Zicree: Glad I could do it.

What was your very first job in the entertainment industry, and how did you get your foot in the door?

I grew up reading in the genre watching the original versions of Star Trek, The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, and I started going to science fiction conventions when I was a teenager growing up here in LA. My heroes were the writers. There was a lot of crossover from the stories I read and the writers from those three shows: Richard Mathieson, Theodore Sturgeon, Ray Bradbury, George Clayton Johnson, Harlan Ellison… they were all doing books and TV shows. When I was ten, I heard Ray Bradbury speak at a local library — a huge influence, and I became a big fan. When I was around fifteen or sixteen-years-old I started going to conventions and meeting them, and from there they became mentors.

There was also a radio show on KPFK in Los Angeles called Hour 25, and they interviewed all the great science fiction writers. Around 1973 when I was eighteen, I wrote a half hour radio play that was a satire of science fiction conventions, TV shows and movies called Lobotomy. So, I wrote, directed and acted in it with three of my friends and it aired on KPFK. On that same show, I heard Harlan Ellison talking about the Clarion Writer’s Workshop. When I was nineteen and an art student at UCLA, I attended Clarion that summer. It was at Michigan State University. The students included people like Kim Stanley Robinson and Robert Crais, who became well-known science fiction and mystery novelists, respectively. Our teachers were Gene Wolfe, Roger Zelazny, Samuel R. Delaney, Kate Wilhelm, Damon Knight and Joe Haldeman – all very famous and accomplished science fiction writers. It was a great lineup.

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