Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson

bb.jpg

Welcome to October here at Deja.Revue. If you have not noticed already, I tend to be a fan of the creepy, the weird, and the left-field in comics. So I though October would be a perfect time to indulge those predilections even more than I already have. Horror, as a genre in comics, has always been just off to the side. Less flashy than superheroes, and something of a mutant child of crime comics, the genre has a breadth and depth which is, in my opinion, almost unmatched. I do not hope to cover the whole diverse range of the genre in the coming month, but I do hope to give you a survey of some of my favorite works on page and screen. If you would like to read further, Paste has an excellent list of horror comics you should read. For further reading on the history of horror comics, check out Mike Howlett’s essay in the back of this excellent horror anthology that I will not have the time or space to write about this month. If all goes according to plan, I will have a column each Monday for you, culminating, fittingly, with Halloween at the end of the month. Don’t forget to turn off the lights.

It is important that you know that this book is all about neighborhood pets roaming the neighborhood and running into paranormal phenomenon and, eventually, become guardians of the neighborhood from such phenomenon. It is important that I get this out up front because despite a premise that in lesser hands could easily result in nothing more than inconsequential cartoonishness, Beats of Burden is a dark, moving, and melancholic comic. Danger is real. People Animals die. Burden Hill, where the action is set, is not normal or safe, and our intrepid heroes become all too familiar with the darkness creeping in from the outside.

Evan Dorkin centers the book around a group of canine (and one feline) friends whose bonds of loyalty are tested and strengthened as the events in Burden Hill become weirder, more frequent, and more dangerous. Most of the stories in the book are shorter than the average comic. As a result, Dorkin uses some narrative shorthand to make the characters recognizable and memorable. Their personalities are archetypal and fixed. They grow into their heroism by pushing their best qualities to the fore, and by sticking together. This is not really a criticism of the book, as the characters are endearing and the narrative is mythic, employing moments of graphic realism sparsely, and to great effect.

Jill Thompson’s art is a great compliment to the story partly because of how well it switches modes between the quotidian, the gruesome, and the fantastic. Once again I must display my slavish devotion to the use of watercolors, for it is their diverse range of light and texture that allows Thompson to seamlessly enter these different modes – moving from sunlit suburban streets, to foggy graveyards, to murky woods. Most comics are the result of a partnership between writer and artist, but oftentimes the latter serves a subordinate role. Not so here. It is Thompson who renders so delightfully the world of Burden Hill, filled with beasts both noble and ignoble. She gives vital shape and form to Dorkin’s mythic heroes (who just so happen to resemble the menagerie at the local pet shop).

Humor is an essential counterpart to horror. Beasts of Burden can be quite funny, offsetting the pressing darkness and lending the book a sense of adventure amidst the looming peril. It leans toward the lighter side of horror, but this only makes the moments of violence and gloom more effective. Beasts of Burden is a classic yarn, a tale of good against evil, which is not meant to send you to bed hiding under the covers, but to send you out into the world with the hope that good can still be done, and the the unrelenting darkness can be beaten back.

 

-Ian

Advertisements

Advanced Review: Monty The Dinosaur #2

Monty The Dinosaur #2

Writer: Bob Frantz

Art: Jean Franco

Publisher: Action Lab Entertainment

Release Date: 09/28/2016

Monty the Dinosaur from writer Bob Frantz  and artist Jean Franco is the story of a lone surviving Dinosaur in the 21st century who is dying to make a friend. Only problem, everyone’s afraid of him. Until he meets Sophie, an adventurous young girl who is not scared one bit by the friendly dinosaur. With new friend Sophie, Monty isn’t alone anymore. Issue one is broken up into two short stories. First, how Monty met Sophie and in the second story Monty and Sophie attend a birthday party together (and there’s cupcakes!). Issue two follows that same pattern with two short stories entitled School and Bananas.

In the story “School” Monty learns of a place that human children go to called School. Monty is pretty intrigued and then Sophie informs him that there is chocolate milk and Monty declares he has to go. What follows is a set of hilarious antics aimed at getting Monty enrolled in school (all for that chocolate milk, I’m sure).

The second short story is called “Bananas”. This story focuses on Monty and Sophie’s quest for, you guessed it, bananas! The duo is dismayed to find that they are all out of bananas at their home so they head to the local grocery store to buy some only to find they are out as well. So where do they go next to find their food of choice? Well, you’ll just have to buy the issue to find out. Make sure to ask for Monty The Dinosaur at your local comic shop.

Bob Frantz does an excellent job in this series of creating a character that is both funny to children and adults. Often times in series that are aimed at all ages, they either have main characters that appeal to children, or they have main characters that appeal to adults. Frantz has given us a character that excels at doing both. Monty the Dinosaur is layered in such a way that children can understand the jokes, like when Monty can’t do things because of his short arms. But also adults can read into it a bit further, like how it’s sort of a commentary on belonging in a society when you’re a bit  different than the norm. The art by Jean Franco is excellent. The character design for Monty is great, making a dinosaur that is as cute as Monty is is a feat in and of itself. I love the layouts and the structure the Franco uses. It adds another dimension to the story telling. The color choices by Franco bring a bright and vibrant palette sure to please children and adults a like.

All in all Monty the Dinosaur #2 is a fun all ages romp that is sure to delight the entire family. If you don’t have this series on your pull list then you better hurry and add it. You can order the trade due out in November here. Be sure to follow Bob Frantz on twitter for updates. You can get more news about Monty the Dinosaur and Action Lab’s other offerings here. Also, make sure to demand Monty the Dinosaur at your local comic shop.

409830._SX1280_QL80_TTD_.jpg

New Comic book Day Top 5: Sept 21st

Hello Revuers! Another great comic book day is upon us! Which means it’s time to take a look at my top 5 most anticipated comic coming out tomorrow. This week there was, once again, some stiff competition. But in the end there could be only 1…..er I mean 5! Tell me what you think of my picks in the comment section below, and let me know what’s on your pull list or what you are most looking forward to.

 

5: Horizon #3

687177_0b431418a3bcd08e04181660f861cfdf8ff140e7.jpg

Horizon from Writer Brandon Thomas and artist Juan Gedeon has been a fun and often surprising comic so far. It takes a very common place idea and puts a unique and fresh spin on it. The first two issues were very solid with great world building from Thomas and Gedeon. The third issue has promised to show us our first glimpse at a villain so I am excited for that. If you haven’t had this series on your pull list you may want to rethink your priorities.

 

4: Mighty Thor #11

690105_mighty-thor-11-prostate-awareness-month-variant.jpg

This series from the acclaimed team of Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson continues with what is being billed as the Team up no one expected. I have been following Thor since Jane Foster first took over the mantle after the events of Original Sin. Before that I had never been much of a Thor guy as I always found him to be sort of one note. This new Thor is an evolving, relateable character with a ton of nuance. We can thank Jason Aaron for that. This series is one of few that has always been on my pull list for the last two years and it’s looking like it’s place is firmly cemented there.

 

3: Batman #7

687131_03781b04f6de35b2ffa2205d223990f4bb7cbf36.jpg

This issue starts a new arc for Tom King and sees a new artist, Riley Rossmo, take over art duties. The title of this arc is called NIGHT OF THE MONSTER MEN, and is a continuing story over all of the Batman titles. I don’t know much about this story arc other than it involves mad science monster. Really though, do I need to know any more than that? I love the writings of Tom King and the art of Riley Rossmo, so you know that I’m in 100%

 

2: Patsy Walker: AKA Hellcat #10

686970_cc06c382fd2e28935c1d7649b688cf677f621716.jpg

I have loved this series from the very first issue. Kate Leth, Brittany Williams and Megan Wilson have crafted a world that is so fun to explore each and every month. This issue sees the end of the series’ second arc! It has been an excellent series for the first 9 issues and I expect no different from this issue. I’m excited for the future of the series and saddened by the departure of Megan Wilson (if you would like to read the interview we did with her then click here)

 

1: Wicked & Divine 1831 (one shot)

687081_b5fe3185375d492fb35c7f32892455acc942bd24

I love this series. Thecreative team of Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson and Clayton Cawles can do no wrong in my mind. This issue looks interesting as it i a one shot set in the past. 1831 to be exact. I like the idea of a sort of anthology of the Pantheon, and looking at them in the past. I think that’s an interesting concept. The art in this issue is by Stephanie Hans (Journey Into Mystery, Angela), who I really enjoy. Should be a great issue!

 

So there you have it! Did your most anticipated books make the cut? Tell us in the comments below. We would also love to see you list of most anticipated comics!

 

-Andrew

 

 

 

 

 

Covers of the Week: Sept. 16th

Hello Revuers! It’s time for another installment on Covers of the Week. This segment is where I pick my favorite regular cover and variant cover of the week. This week provided a plethora of choices as great covers abounded. However, I narrowed it down to what I feel are the best covers. Of course art is subjective so if you disagree with me please let me know in the comments below.

 

My favorite cover of the week is:

The Forevers #1

687472_eb0d3c8e528faae46ccfa2f40938fa457577360e

This cover by Eric Pfeiffer is simply breathtaking. I love the painted appearance of the cover and the color choices are on point. I love the brush work on the waves which make them seem like they are alive and moving. In fact the brush work on the clouds is the same way. It makes the whole cover seem very dynamic and not stagnate. The series written by Curt Pires is about 5 friends who make a black magic pact in order to gain fame. What follows next is a well crafted thriller comic that I recommend you pick up.

 

My favorite variant cover is:

All-Star Batman #2

689944_all-star-batman-2-shalvey-variant-cover

This variant cover by Declan Shalvey is very indicative of what happens in this issue. All-Star Batman #2 features Batman and two face on a train fighting multiple villains. This cover has two face and Batman on a train heading through a tunnel with another train in the background carrying other mysterious figures. I love the positioning of Batman in the sky over the train by Shalvey. It  makes Batman seem menacing without seeming evil. I also liked the touch of Two Face’s coins bouncing away from him. Implying that he may be out of luck. The story by Scott Snyder with interiors by John Romita Jr. continues on from issue 1 with Batman and Two Face continuing their cross country trip, with Batman facing death at every turn. If you haven’t been reading this series I strongly recommend you pick it up and start now. It’s not something you want to miss.

 

Was your favorite cover on the list? If not tell me what your favorite of the week was in the comment section below!

 

New Comic Book Day top 5: Sept. 14th

Hello Revuers! It’s time to once again look at our top 5 most anticipated books of this upcoming week. This New Comic Book Day sees the release of a plethora of titles from DC, including a few titles that make this list. On the Marvel side of things, this weeks marks a week of even more Civil War 2 tie ins (spoiler alert, none of those make the list). Let’s dive right in:

 

5: The Forevers #1

687472_eb0d3c8e528faae46ccfa2f40938fa457577360e

This series is a bit of a mystery to me, albeit an intriguing one. The Forevers is written by Curt Pires with art from Eric Pfeiffer published by the fantastic folks at Black Mask . The premise is that 5 friends make a black magic sacrifice in order to gain fame and fortune. After awhile they start to lose their “glow”. After one of the members dies they realize that the “glow” is stronger. Setting up for a betrayal by one of the friends. I have not seen any interiors but this cover by Eric Pfeiffer is stunning. As I said I don’t know much about this one but the premise and the cover has me stoked.

 

4: Black Panther #6

690053_black-panther-6-udon-variant.jpg

The only Marvel title that makes the list this week is Black Panther by Ta-Nehisi Coates with Art by Chris Sprouse and this fantastic variant cover by Brian Stelfreeze. This series hasn’t been what I expected from a Black Panther title, but has been a solid title. I am hoping that this issue sees a bit more action as the last few issues have dealt more with T’Challa as a diplomat more than T’Challa as a warrior. This variant cover by Brian Stelfreeze is beautiful. This is the second issue with Chris Sprouse on the interiors, the last issue he nailed it so I’m hoping that continues with this issue.

 

3: Flash #6

686995_fa6ae85a4ed01eb3f24dc35532aef05096420800

 

This issue written by Joshua Williamson and art by Carmine Di Giandomenico, is the culmination of the first story arc ‘LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE’. Finally we will see Barry Allen come face to face and head to head with Godspeed. I’m sure that Barry won’t be alone as he has been training a new generation of speedsters (who may or may not last). Godspeed has been an interesting villain that has a great character design. This story line has managed to feel fresh and yet familiar all at the same time. Great work over all by Joshua Williamson and Carmine Di Giandomenico

 

2: Doom Patrol #1

687031_99d53766a6589843d339dddb2ab369ff4198765c.jpg

The first issue and series off of Gerard Way’s new imprint Young Animal, Doom Patrol looks and sounds fantastic. The art and cover art is from Nick Derington. I have never read any of the original Doom Patrol but I’ve heard great things about it. So this series is a bit of a mystery to me as well. That’s one of the things that’s exciting about comics. That every week you have the opportunity to try new books you’ve never tried before. This cover by Nick Derington is interesting and fun as well.

 

1: All-Star Batman #2

689944_all-star-batman-2-shalvey-variant-cover

All-Star Batman #1 was a fun filled joy ride (well for the reader, not Batman) it featured the spectacualr team of writer Scott Snyder and artist John Romita Jr.. The same team has returned for All-Star Batman #2. Issue #1 saw Batman on a road trip with Two-Face taking him to a yet unknown destination. Two-Face made everyone a proposition to kill Batman. Now everywhere they stop Batman is met with resistance. Can Batman survive attacks from everyone around him or has he finally met his match? I suppose you’ll have to buy the issue to find out.

 

Did your most anticipated books make the cut? Tell us in the comments below. We would also love to see you list of most anticipated comics!

Pictures and Music in Heaven and Hell: On The Incantations of Daniel Johnston

idj1

A confession: I often listen to music while I read comics. The music is not casually thrown on, but rather, considered – a soundtrack of sorts. The music is meant to compliment the text and images, not overwhelm them. This leads to my listening to mostly instrumental music as I read. For instance, I paired the music of John Fahey (specifically his album Death Chants, Break Downs, and Military Waltzes) with my reading of Harrow County a few weeks back. Companion to my reading of Descender was the music of electronic duo 2814 (both their most recent record, Rain Temple, and an earlier record, the title of which translates roughly to The Birth of a New Day).

So it is strange that, while reading a graphic novel that takes as its inspiration and subject a particular musician, I found it so evocative of the music and of the man behind it that I did not feel inclined to soundtrack my reading (though, to be sure, I listened to Daniel Johnston for hours on end after reading). Such is the power of The Incantations of Daniel Johnston by Ricardo Cavolo and Scott McClanahan.

To understand the excellence of the book, a word or two on Daniel Johnston. He is an artist and musician who emerged from the Austin, Texas music scene of the early 90s, though he was recording much earlier than that. Some would affix the word “outsider” before the words artist and musician in my previous sentence, but such labels are limiting and reductive for the artists behind them. However, the point is that Daniel Johnston (and other “outsider” artists and musicians) comes from a long tradition of unconventional and untrained artists who work almost entirely outside the commercial system. The limits of Johnston’s instrumental abilities are more than made up for by the simplicity, sincerity, soul of his compositions, which he would record on cheap cassettes and give out at his job at McDonald’s. One is tempted to describe his work as child-like, but it contains too many layers of cosmology, paranoia, anxiety, jubilation, heartbreak, and wisdom to have come from any child in this world. Listening to any given album by Daniel Johnston (my favorite is either Yip/Jump Music or 1990), is akin to feeling every emotion at once. The sounds, despite their simplicity, are often overwhelming.

But Daniel Johnston is troubled. He has been plagued by mental illness his entire life. The Incantations of Daniel Johnston does not shy away from this, but more importantly, it does not valorize or romanticize it either. It is no coincidence that Kurt Cobain, another over-romanticized, tragic figure of 90s alternative music, was often seen in a t-shirt emblazoned with Johnston’s art. To listen to Daniel Johnston’s music is to take part, in some small way, in his particular, fantastic, terrifying world – even if the spell only lasts the length of a pop song. And so it is with The Incantations of Daniel Johnston. The book presents itself as a spell of possession. A spell which allows you, like the music, to enter Daniel’s world, and to have his ghost dwell in you. It is a friendly haunting (like Casper), but a haunting nonetheless.

The art, much like Daniel Johnston’s music, is ecstatic and bright and grotesque all at once. The lines are simple, mirroring Johnston’s artwork without outright imitating it. The images pop and the colors sometimes bleed together. Everything is on fire. Everything is alive, with a beating heart, with throbbing lungs, with undulating intestines. There are king frogs, monsters, clouds with eyes in this fantasyland. But like any fantasyland, it has dark corners. Again, the book does not try to hide the darkness. Like the time Daniel pulls the keys out of an airplane in mid-flight. Like the time he fired his friend and manager Jeff. Like the times he enters mental institutions.

It is true though. It is sincere. In keeping with the music and spirit of Daniel Johnston the book is scattered, confused, funny, and heartbreaking. But the sadness never overwhelms – not completely. And though the darkness advances, though terrible things await – the book begs us to run, to lose hope – and though it promises that happy endings are just stories, lightness prevails. Because everything is just a story we tell ourselves, in a way. And if we can bear it, if we can take the curse upon ourselves, if we can be possessed by Daniel Johnston – a brilliant, sincere, sad, funny, troubled man, full of love – and take that possession out into the world, we can carry forth the lightness. Because, for all of the demons in his head, Daniel Johnston was still able to sing this:

Maybe we can too.

The Incantations of Daniel Johnston by Ricardo Cavolo and Scott McClanahan is available now from Two Dollar Radio (you should check out their other books as well, they’re great).

New Comic Book Day Top 5: Sept. 7th

Hello Revuers, I hope you had a lovely labor day weekend! We here at Deja.Revue strive to bring you the best in comic book related entertainment, so that means no days off for us. Our newest writer Ian Maxton penned a piece about Stranger Things yesterday that you should check out (after you read this of course). But back to the business at hand, in this article I will present to you the 5 titles I am most excited about, in order. So break out your pencils and get ready to write this down.

 

5: Moon Knight #6

690010_moon-knight-6-ward-story-thus-far-variant.jpg

I enjoyed the previous run of Moon Knight by Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire. After they left I had lost interest in this title, until after Secret Wars when I learned that one of my favorite writers, Jeff Lemire, would be taking the helm. The team of Lemire and new artist, starting this issue, Francesco Francavilla kick of a new story line called Incarnations. After a fast and furious first story arc I can’t wait to see what is in store for Moon Knight next. I really like that Lemire is taking Moon Knight back to basics and really focusing on his Dissasociative Identity Disorder (used to be called Multiple personalities disorder), this sets up numerous possibilities and plot points that could be exciting to explore. The cover hon is the Story Thus Far variant cover by Greg Smallwood.

 

4: Boo Worlds Cutest Dog #1

686902_22210a5cbcad215084203384f336e0bee92d4fb1.jpg

As I’ve mentioned before I am a sucker for cute things. Yes, I follow Lil’ Bub on Instagram. Yes, I bought the Grumpycat Comic Books. Yes, I watched the Grumpycat Christmas movie….Twice. Yes, I personally loved Bee and Puppycat when it was coming out. Yes, I will be purchasing this title as well. Coming from Dynamite entertainment (the same company that published the Grumpy Cat and Pokey series) is Boo the worlds cutest dog #1 (of 3). It appears as if this series will follow a similar pattern as Bee and Puppycat where each issue will feature several short stories. the inference is made based on the fact that there are numerous writers and artists listed for this issue. But hey! I could be completely wrong about that. I suppose we will have to buy the comic to find out.

 

3: Supergirl #1

688883_supergirl-1-variant-cover.jpg

After a sort of lackluster Rebirth issue, the relaunch of Supergirl is out this week! Comic from Writer Steve Orlando and Artist Brian Ching, Spergirl #1 kicks of the ‘REIGN OF THE CYBORG SUPERMAN’story arc. I am interested to see what comes of this arc. I am wondering if they will do sort of a homage to Death of Superman where after he died they had other Supermen come and try to take his place. Including Cyborg Superman. Since the New 52! Superman is dead, this could be a possible direction this series goes. I am fine with that, as long as the keep the focus on Supergirl. I have a lot of faith in Writer Steve Orlando as he penned the excellent Midnighter series during the DCYou initiative. The cover is actually the Bengal Variant cover.

 

2: Nightwing #4

686837_46bfcec4132336c9ef3470993cc5a31e09a3e566.jpg

The new Nightwing series fro writer Tim Seeley and art from Javi Fernandez has been one of my favorites from the Rebirth initiative. First, Nightwing is back in blue which I love. Second, He’s longer a spy but rather a caped crusader again. Lastly, he’s trying to take down the court of Owls from the inside. All of this comes together to form a fact paced and exciting series. Tim Seeley is one of the best writers in the game, combine that with the next level art from Javi Fernandez and you have a serious hit on your hands.

 

1: Batman #6

686810_d75a5861f527d76610deb73344b8c38fcad6f5b4.jpg

Batman #5 was my Pick of the Week last week (check out the review here), and now it’s my most anticipated comic book of this week. Tom King continues to deliver a strong Batman, after a highly acclaimed Batman run by Scott Snyder. King has left his mark on Batman after just 5 issues and made sure that people knew this Batman is different than the Batman that came before him. If you haven’t read the first five issues I recommend you fix that as soon as possible. Spoilers ahead………………………….From what I understand this issue is a stand alone before the Monster Men arc starts in issue 7. That’s why the usual artist, David Finch, is not on interiors this issue. Instead it is Ivan Reis (Cyborg, Justice League). This issue will deal with the psychological fallout of Gotham Girl killing her brother. I predict that Batman will take on a mentor role and try to console Gotham Girl. No matter what though it’s going to be a great issue.

 

So there you have it, our most anticipated books that are coming out tomorrow. Did your most anticipated books make the cut? Tell us in the comments below. We would also love to see you list of most anticipated comics!