Monday, April 30, 2012

Graphic Novel Review: Sinbad

I apologize for this taking longer than it has, but I started writing this two other times and either lost my connection and lost the post, or had to shut it down before it could be saved. So I'll try a third time...
 When I hear the name Sinbad, I think of two things- the 80's comedian for one, but mainly I think of swashbuckling adventures across the seven seas with witches, sorcerers, lost treasures and Harryhausen-esque monsters.
 The newest chapter in the Sinbad saga, Sinbad: the Legacy, is a release by Campfire Books, a graphic novel company that is based out of India and primarily uses writers from the US and artists from India. It's a formula that seems to be working in terms of quality stories.
 This Sinbad adventure is penned by North Carolina's own Dan Johnson (who will be at the Return of Mini-Con on June 15!) with art by Naresh Kumar (no relation to Harold and Kumar as far as I know!).
 I like it when someone takes an established character and doesn't change them but rather adds something to the character that makes them richer and more realized. Dan Johnson's story succeeds in this area as the context of the story gives the readers a Sinbad that isn't full of bravado and stands with his hands on his hips laughing at his enemies. Instead, this Sinbad is responsible, thoughtful, and prepared for different outcomes. Johnson delivers this Sinbad to us not because Johnson has a bland view of the famous sailor but because Sinbad has been tasked with teaching a young prince to grow up very quickly. Johnson gets the reader inside what is going on in Sinbad's head as a leader, as an adventurer and as a friend. He is still Sinbad, and he is just as cunning as ever- and the creatures are as abundant as ever. As an example, a king plans to bury the prince but Sinbad quickly jumps in saying it is the custom of his people for the servant to be buried with the royalty also. Once Sinbad and the prince are sealed in, Sinbad puts his wits to use to find the clues to lead them out of the tomb- while fighting a giant, human flesh-consuming rat!
 Kumar's art is good. It is not very complicated and focuses on the principle actions and characters in each panel. If I had to point out something I didn't like, it would be eyes on the figures. Everyone has something of a cartoonish element to their look, but the eyes reminded me of the ones on the opening sequence of Scooby Doo. But maybe that is nit-picking. Kumar renders the action very well, and his designs of the docks, ships, and building corridors are all spot-on.
 If you like the classic adventure characters, Sinbad:the Legacy will not disappoint! Pick it up for your personal library.

Monday, April 23, 2012

FCBD 2012! Are YOU ready?

That's right- it's another Free Comic Book Day coming up on May 5. At least three comic book shops will be participating this year: Heroes Aren't Hard to Find, Rebel Base, and Pennyworth's. Of the three, Heroes has the biggest event and the biggest turnout every year, despite having VERY limited crowding and the traffic of downtown Charlotte on residential-sized roads. My kids and I went out a couple years ago and the place was PACKED! Despite the crowds, we were able to mill about and talk to other people and get pretty much every comic we were interested in! The re were also Blackest Night buttons that were given away, posters, artists on hand drawing for the crowds, and TONS of back-issue comics on sale. The store did a nice job of placing the FCBD books next to where the regular comics sold so future buyers would know where to look for their favorites on their next visit.
Rebel Base also had an artist on hand, and Troy (the owner) usually gets something really cool like members of the Imperial 501st to show up in their Star Wars awesomeness! Troy also has plenty of back issues for sale, he seems to be the only place to find the FCBD Heroclix figure every year. The store is located at the Providence Village Shopping Center near Cotswold (on Sharon Amity between Providence and Randolph) and just went through a major remodeling last year.
**UPDATE** I just checked the REBEL Base website, and Troy will have live music, a bouncy house, ice cream truck, visits by the 501st and Klingons AND a store-wide sale along with free comics!
Last is Pennyworth's. The store has literally moved across the street on Monroe Rd in Matthews and once you see the yellow comics sign, you'll know you're there. The new location is easier to get in and out of and the store has added room for gaming. Some good deals can be found, but the store has short hours and does not stock up on FCBD stuff like the other two. They also sell back-issues of more "adult" magazines, so parents please be aware.

 As for the comics being offered, there are plenty of kid-friendly choices like Smurfs, Superman Family Adventures and Yo Gabba Gabba. Sci-fi and fantasy come out strong this year, too. And of course, plenty of superhero-fare with Spider-man, the Avengers, DC's intro to the New 52 (their relaunch of EVERYTHING), and Valiant's return to publishing with a reboot of X-O Man-o-War, Bloodshot and Harbinger!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cartoon Club artist: Jennifer

Jennifer is a rising star in the Cartooning Club. With a strong influence from manga and properties like My Little Pony, she is developing her own sense of style to her work and she is progressing quickly. Lately, she has been almost as interested in reading comics as she has in drawing pictures. This has also paid off in her art and storytelling. Jennifer is also good at creating abstract images, as evidenced by the 3-D looking worm-like bands of color.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Follow-up: Derek & Nikki Davis

Many apologies for not posting this sooner. Been crazy busy lately, and I can show you some of those projects tomorrow, but in the meantime, I need to put the focus back on Derek & Nikki Davis of Bitter TEA Studios and their web/print comic The Ered Adventures.
Derek and Nikki were gracious enough to come out to our Cartooning Club in March and they did a fabulous job of engaging the kids! Take a look at these pictures to see some of our young talent diving into Derek's instruction! Also check out the two pictures Derek did on the spot- one of Ered and Patches, and the other of Socket (whose name was provided by c'est moi, thankyouverymuch!). You can check out their comic HERE!