Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review: World War One

   The Great War. The War to End All Wars. We now call it World War One, and it proved to be a changer in world history. Empires and aristocracies virtually ended, new borders were created and industrial and economic courses for many people around the world would be set by the war's outcome.
George in a short time quickly becomes a season veteran whose experiences leave new soldiers shaken.
   Campfire Graphics has put out a new historical account of World War One following the lives and deaths of several British soldiers who see almost all angles of the war from beginning to end. Narrated by George Smith, an under-age Englishman who enlists in the infantry. From the start, the book details the messy, wet, gloomy atmosphere that hung over the men fighting in the trenches and the ridiculous toll the tactics took on both sides. Written by Alan Cowsill, 109 pages are used to cover their journey, from the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand to the last minutes before the 11:00 end of the war on Nov. 11, 1914.
 Cowsill's narrative is not too lengthy for the frames and stays steady, allowing the reader to keep a pace that doesn't drag during the story. Things that would bog down the story with proper explanation are instead given mention of being important along with  locations and dates, making it easy for amateur historians to look up and find more information if they want. The war shown as meaning different things to different people. For some of the ladies at home, it means a chance to attach themselves to the battle glory of their husbands, boyfriends, brothers or fathers. For the men returning, it means a mind forever filled with the horrors of war as artillery, chemical warfare, starvation, senseless charges and the stress of their general conditions push some beyond their mental and physical limits.
The living conditions were as brutal as the fighting and it took a toll on many soldiers.
 Lalit Kumar Sharma is the artist on this book and his work is phenomenal! Sharma has a clarity of detail mixed with a raw and rough feel to the backgrounds and subjects. Put into a war comic, it frankly reminded me a bit of the legendary Joe Kubert's style wich is perhaps the highest praise an artist could get on a war comic.
Details aren't lost, yet there is an organic ruggedness to the art.
 As always, Campfire includes additional information and facts at the end of the book that should encourage kids to want to learn more. For a price of $12.99 you are definitely getting your money's worth on this title.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Free Comic Book Day 2014 Review and Observations

 My youngest son and I got off to a late start for Free Comic Book Day this year. When we get a chance to go, we try to hit both Heroes Aren't Hard to Find and Rebel Base Comics because both places really get into the event and they do it different ways. Unfortunately, it was 9:45 by the time we got out of the house and on our way. Navigating our way past the myriad red lights, confused out-of-towners and NASCAR wannabes into the wonderland deathtrap of Charlotte street planning and it was a little after 10:15 by the time we drove by the store looking for a parking place. We found an alley- narrow, nearly abandoned and looking like a shooting location for the Walking Dead. Perfect!
Early cosplay arrivals- Red Robin, Dr Who and the Red Power Ranger.
Carolina Ghostbusters and Ecto-1.
 Making our way out of the alley and over to the store I checked the line that had formed down the side of the store and was building towards the back. "This isn't the artists' line," I told myself. "Didn't the store open at 10:00?" Getting into line, I conferred with others who had been waiting longer and found that I was right on both counts- the line was not people waiting for artists, and the store had opened at 10:00. Fortunately, the weather was great and the group of comics fans my son and I were with were really friendly and engaging- and not all the talk was just about comics, but about Charlotte and the surrounding towns, people's jobs, what else everyone was going to be doing later. While waiting, a small army of cosplayers began to arrive. Wonder Woman (aka DJ Spider) was already there, and she was TALL! The Carolina Ghostbusters were on hand with the Ecto-1 car. Then there was Dr. Who, Red Robin and a Red Power Ranger. Before we made our way into the store just before 11:00 my son and I had seen Nick Fury, Spider-man, Batman, Superman, Penguin, Harley Quinn, Batgirl to name a few.
Storm, Harley and Spidey!
 Inside the store the comics were arranged as they had been the last few years- on the shelf where you would normally find that title. I was disappointed I  did not see FCBD editions of Skyward, Tick, Uncle Scrooge and Buck Rogers on the shelf. I wasn't mad, and I don't blame the store. While the comics are free to us, the stores do have to pay them, and I appreciate it! There were still many great titles to get, and this year I actually passed on some books if it did not interest me and there was no one else for me to pass it on to. I enjoyed Archaia's hardbound anthology of Mouse Guard, Jim Henson and other stories was quite a stand-out edition. Forty pages, hardbound, full color.
  Batman Beyond gets a more prominent role in the upcoming DC storyline, Future's End, where he will have to outwit THE Batman to save the world. Teen Titans Go! was enjoyable and the Worlds of Aspen looked interesting. For me, Darkhorse really delivered with their Captain Midnight: Project Black Sky. Cyber gorillas and chimps that use sign language and can teleport? What's not to like about that?
  I also picked up some bags and boards (silver age sized bags with current sized boards gives me the greatest leeway in accommodating the most comics) and Marvel's Miracle Man #1 because it would be my only chance to pick up any of those things and I wanted to support the store on this day.
Sing with me kids "Oh the secret agent is a person in your neighborhood..."
Did I mention Wonder Woman (DJ Spider) is tall? Here she is with Silk Spectre (Riddle's Messy Wardrobe)
 Back outside, we saw Supergirl (Kristen Hughey), Silk Spectre (Riddle's Messy Wardrobe), Josie and the Pussycats and a slightly overweight Deadpool (which is appropriately funny when you stop to think about it). It made me realize that cosplay has really arrived when people are either being called in from out-of-town to make appearances or they are coming themselves to show up for such events.
Supergirl (Kristen Hughey) with a fan!
 Finally, I scored an early spot in line to get an artist's sketch, and so I chose my friend Jeremy Dale (Skyward, G.I. Joe) and got to catch up with him and his wife Kelly, and I got a great Skyward sketch from him.
 Overall, Heroes and Shelton Drum put on an incredible event again this year. I can't wait for Heroes Con in June!

WW with Josie & the Pussycats. Supergirl has already turned away to talk to Penguin.

Spidey photobombs the JLA's big three!

Jeremy and Kelly Dale. Great people!

Have I already mention how tall Wonder Woman is? I have?