1970s Horror Comics, Old and New: Eerie and Bloke’s Terrible Tomb of Terror

Saturday, October 28th, 2017 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

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In time for coincidence with Hallowe’en, a friend recently pointed me at Bloke’s Terrible Tomb of Terror, a magazine walking in the path of such 1970s Warren horror magazines as Creepy and Eerie. I picked up a pdf copy just before the etsy store went on a bit of a break while The Bloke (Jason Crawley) moves house and shop. (30 October, 2017: The Bloke’s site is back up and I just bought two more issues at the online shop.)

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I was really only a superhero guy and a light Marvel horror/monster guy (Son-of-Satan (blogged about here), It, Strange Tales) when I was 10-15 years old, so the Warren style wasn’t really my bag back then.

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Mage: The Hero Denied #3

Monday, October 23rd, 2017 | Posted by MichaelPenkas

Mage 3And so the story starts moving, just as the reviews and Internet buzz for this series begins to die down. Seriously, I’ve noticed how promotion for comic books tends to really ramp up with issue 1, but fades almost immediately afterward, as if no one might be tempted to pick up issue 3 if they hadn’t already read issues 1 and 2. Generally, by the time the last issue of a series shows up, the attitude among a lot of comic fans is “Oh, are they still publishing that thing?”

So you probably didn’t hear that issue #3 of The Hero Denied came out on Wednesday, but it did and it was good. Of course, some readers have probably been put off by the slow pacing of this story. For example, the first four pages are just Kevin talking to his son, Hugo, about the nature of magic while they walk around a car and then get inside it. And it turns out that my earlier theory was correct and these attacks are taking place in a parallel world just beside the “real world.” And while Kevin insists that his abilities aren’t hereditary, the fact that Hugo is able to slip into this parallel world would suggest otherwise.

The next six pages concern two Gracklethorn sisters, Aleksi and Sasha, visiting a mission in search of the Fisher King. As established in the very first Mage series, the Fisher King can assume any shape, but that shape will always appear crippled. I get that this is supposed to show how ruthlessly they’re pursuing their quarry, but it still seemed a bit implausible that these creatures were able to murder two people in a mission in the noisiest, sloppiest manner possible without anyone else noticing. On the other hand, Matt Wagner does a nice understated job of demonstrating Sasha’s powers of persuasion.

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Questing in New York! New York ComicCon 2017

Saturday, October 14th, 2017 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

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You may recall that my first trip to New York *ever* was in April, and I blogged about it in A Babe in the Woods: Derek’s Literary Adventures in New York! Well, the training wheels are off and I went on a full grail quest this time around, at New York Comic Con!

I had two major reasons to go to NYCC. First, I enjoy blogging about comics, and interviewing comic creators. So, as a blogger for Black Gate, there were a lot of people I wanted to meet. Second, my prose writing career (short stories and novels) has been going well, but I’ve also wanted to write comic books since I was 10 years old. I’m working on a comic story for a small press anthology right now, but also I went to see what other opportunities there might be.

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Early Peek at 2000AD Prog #2050: A Jumping-On Issue

Saturday, September 16th, 2017 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

2000AD is a weekly anthology book, typically with 4 stories running at a time, with some at the middle while others are ending, which makes it hard to find a meaty run to review. Several times a year, 2000AD publishes issues (pronounced progs if you’re speaking with a British accent) for new people to jump on — where every story is beginning.

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Prog #2050 is such an issue and will be hitting newsstand (and the internet as a digital issue) on September 25th, so I thought I’d get into it. This was a large-sized issue (48 pages) and contained 7 new stories that you don’t have to know much at all about the world of 2000AD to start reading.

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Mage: The Hero Denied #2

Thursday, September 14th, 2017 | Posted by MichaelPenkas

Mage 2So, the basic setup for the new Mage series is shaping up to be similar to the previous two volumes. At least one big fight scene and LOTS of talking. Seriously, you sign up for Mage and you’re signing up for lots of dialogue. As far as the issue breakdown goes (LIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD), it’s 7 pages of Kevin and Magda arguing, tucking their kids into bed, and going up to the attic; 4 pages of evil insurance adjusters literally swallowing nightmare fuel; 4 pages of Kevin and Magda talking about a magic crock pot while Hugo stares out a window; 3 pages of Kevin taking his son out for lunch; and 5 pages of Kevin fighting a pair of flaming goat-men. I’m enjoying the series so far, but fair warning, that’s the sort of issue breakdowns you’re going to get, so if you prefer more action and less chatter in your comics, then you’re probably better off passing on Mage.

Was the above paragraph filled with spoilers? Sort of, a little bit. But none of it really felt like plot development so much as plot outlining. Issue two is still very much in the “setting up the story” stage, but as with the previous issues, the magic of this series is in all of the little details. The Gracklethorns reveal that they’re even less human than they initially appear and we start getting names, as well as distinctions between the five of them. Kevin cooks dinner, implying that the domestic duties are more evenly split between Kevin and Magda than I’d thought at the end of issue one. Magda’s hesitation to leave their home is based more on not wanting to disturb some magic spells she’s brewing than on a desire for pure domesticity. And the house is a rental, meaning they don’t have as much money as they initially appeared to have. Still no clues about Kirby, Joe, or the Mage. Hugo is reading an Animorphs book, which firmly dates this story at least fifteen years in the past.

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It’s So Weird I Can’t Look Away: DC Comics’ Young Animal Imprint

Saturday, September 2nd, 2017 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

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In 2016, DC launched a new imprint called Young Animal, an offshoot of its Vertigo stuff, led by Gerard Way and editors Jamie Rich and Mark Doyle. Young Animal’s goal is to relaunch some DC characters for mature audiences. I hadn’t been paying attention, but got drawn in by Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye.

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The B&N Sci-fi & Fantasy Blog on the Best Comics & Graphic Novels of August

Thursday, August 31st, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

The Mighty Thor Volume 3 The Asgard Shi'Ar War-small Serenity No Power in the ‘Verse-small Frostbite Joshua Williamson-small

I don’t get over to my local comic shop nearly as often as I’d like to. Fortunately, there are some great resources to let me know what I’m missing. One of the best is the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, which does occasional  surveys of the best new graphic novel releases. Two days ago I reported on Jeff Somers’ summary of the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of August at the B&N Blog; this month I found Ross Johnson’s summary of the 29 top comics and graphic novels of the month just as fascinating.

It includes Atari Classics: Swordquest by Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway, Valerian: The Illustrated Treasury, by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières, George R. R. Martin’s The Mystery Knight, Paper Girls, Vol. 3, by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang, Invader Zim, Vol. 4, SLAM! Vol. 1, by Pamela Ribon and Veronica Fish, Batgirl: Stephanie Brown, Vol. 1, and lots more. Here’s a few of the highlights.

The Mighty Thor, Vol. 3: The Asgard/Shi’Ar War, by Jason Aaron, Steve Epting, Russell Dauterman, and Matthew Wilson (Marvel, 160 pages, $24.99 in hardcover, August 1, 2017)

The War of the Realms is well and truly underway, and Malekith the Dark Elf is using the chaos to his advantage. Thor takes it upon herself to unite the squabbling factions that make up the ten worlds under her command in order to strike back at Malekith and end the war. But he’s ready with an alliance of his own, and the Odinson stands in the shadows.

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Repent Your Crimes: Marvel’s Black Bolt Series

Sunday, August 20th, 2017 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

I’ve been a Saladin Ahmed fan for a while. I probably heard his first fantasy fiction at Beneath Ceaseless Skies with Mister Hadj’s Sunset Ride, or in Podcastle’s Judgement of Swords and Souls (click on the links for free audio versions). I also met him in person in 2013 when I ended up at the same table as him during the Nebula Awards Banquet (where his first novel had been nominated).

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So I perked up when I saw that Marvel had Ahmed writing a new Black Bolt solo series. I picked up the first issue in June, put it in my backpack and promptly…. left it sitting in my TBR pile. For two months. And I didn’t even crack it open until issue #4 was already out.

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Mage: The Hero Denied #0 and #1

Thursday, August 17th, 2017 | Posted by MichaelPenkas

Mage 0So, I’ve been meaning to get back into writing comic reviews, but there’s frankly been very little out there that got me excited. I’m more of an old school comic fan, preferring the comics that would actually take ten or fifteen minutes to read. Yeah, I’m a slow reader, but even I can push through most modern comics in two or three minutes without much trouble. All splash pages and dialogue-free scenes. It seems like most modern comic writers don’t know how to tell a serial story: each issue should be its own story, as well as a part of a greater narrative.

But I’ve long been a huge fan of Matt Wagner (check out my previous reviews for Mage: The Hero Discovered and Mage: The Hero Defined), so I knew I was going to be on board for the third and final part of his Mage trilogy: The Hero Denied. Issue #0 came out in July and, while it looked great, it was basically a half-issue meant to work as a teaser for the main book, so there wasn’t much to review. Also, I got suckered in by a nice issue #0 for the Red Sonja reboot that fed into a series that was disappointing. So I decided to wait until a proper issue #1 came out before deciding whether or not it was worth my time to commit to review the whole series.

Since you’re reading this, you can guess how I feel about issue #1.

But let’s start with issue #0. (spoilers to issues #0 and #1 beyond this point)

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New Treasures: Graphic Classics Volume 26: Vampire Classics

Friday, August 11th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Gothic Classics Graphic Classics Volume 14-small Graphic Classics Volume 23 Halloween Classics-small Graphic Classics Volume 26 Vampire Classics

I’ve been a huge fan of Tom Pomplun’s Graphic Classics comic anthologies for years, ever since I received a copy of the first one, Volume 1: Edgar Allan Poe, in 2001 (back when they were Rosebud Graphic Classics, a spin-off of Rosebud magazine). Some of my favorites are Volume 4: H. P. Lovecraft, Volume 14: Gothic Classics, and Volume 23: Halloween Classics (back cover here). But I hadn’t seen a new release in over three years, ever since Volume 25: Canine Feline Classics back in 2014. So imagine my surprise when I accidentally stumbled on a copy of Graphic Classics Volume 26: Vampire Classics, which snuck into bookstores on June 28. Here’s the description.

Vampire Classics features a unique adaptation of the 1922 silent film, Nosferatu. Plus a horror-western by “Conan” creator Robert E. Howard and Ray Bradbury’s “The Man Upstairs.” With “The Strange Orchid” by H.G. Wells, “Olalla” by Robert Louis Stevenson, and a short story by famed horror writer and co-editor Mort Castle.

Our previous coverage of Graphic Classics includes:

Graphic Classics Half-Price Sale
It’s Halloween Already with Graphic Classic’s Halloween Classics
Get Graphic Classics Volume 23: Halloween Classics for only $10 in October

Graphic Classics Volume 26: Vampire Classics was published by Eureka Productions on June 28, 2017. It is 144 pages, priced at $19.95. See all our recent Comics coverage here.


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