Sunday, July 31, 2011

2011 Eisner Award Winners--The Votes Are In!

Whether you agree with the following results or not, the Eisner Award winners of 2011 have been announced. Some of the winning results are obvious no-brainers, like the brothers Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá's award for Best Limited Series Daytripper--a tear jerking comic with the best look on death/life you may ever find. Some winners are more questionable, like Scott Snyder, Stephen King, and Rafael Albuquerque's award for Best New Series American Vampire--a mediocre, fast-paced vampire story which races through the life and times of America. Other awards are rather shocking and well deserved, like Nate Simpson, recipient of the Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award, for his debut work on his creator owned title Nonplayer published by Image. Did I mention Simpson released only one issue so far? Without further delay, here are the 2011 Eisner Award Winners:

2011 Eisner Award Winner List

Best Short Story
"Post Mortem," by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark, in I Am an Avenger #2 (Marvel)

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)
Hellboy: Double Feature of Evil, by Mike Mignola and Richard Corben (Dark Horse)

Best Continuing Series
Chew, by John Layman and Rob Guillory (Image)

Best Limited Series
Daytripper, by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá (Vertigo/DC)

Best New Series
American Vampire, by Scott Snyder, Stephen King, and Rafael Albuquerque (Vertigo/DC)

Best Publication for Kids
Tiny Titans, by Art Baltazar and Franco (DC)

Best Publication for Teens
Smile, by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic Graphix)

Best Humor Publication
I Thought You Would Be Funnier, by Shannon Wheeler (BOOM!)

Best Anthology
Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard, edited by Paul Morrissey and David Petersen (Archaia)

Best Digital Comic
Abominable Charles Christopher, by Karl Kerschl,

Best Reality-Based Work
It Was the War of the Trenches, by Jacques Tardi (Fantagraphics)

Best Graphic Album—New
Return of the Dapper Men, by Jim McCann and Janet Lee (Archaia)
Wilson, by Daniel Clowes (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Graphic Album—Reprint
Wednesday Comics, edited by Mark Chiarello (DC)

Best Adaptation from Another Work
The Marvelous Land of Oz, by L. Frank Baum, adapted by Eric Shanower

 and Skottie Young (Marvel)

Best Archival Collection/Project—Strips
Archie: The Complete Daily Newspaper Strips, 1946–1948, by Bob 

Montana, edited by Greg Goldstein (IDW)

Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books
Dave Stevens' The Rocketeer Artist's Edition, edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material
It Was the War of the Trenches, by Jacques Tardi (Fantagraphics)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia
Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys, by Naoki Urasawa (VIZ Media)

Best Writer
Joe Hill, Lock & Key (IDW)

Best Writer/Artist
Darwyn Cooke, Richard Stark's Parker: The Outfit (IDW)

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team
Skottie Young, The Marvelous Land of Oz (Marvel)

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art)
Juanjo Guarnido, Blacksad (Dark Horse)

Best Cover Artist
Mike Mignola, Hellboy, Baltimore: The Plague Ships (Dark Horse)

Best Coloring
Dave Stewart, Hellboy, BPRD, Baltimore, Let Me In (Dark Horse); Detective 

Comics (DC); Neil Young's Greendale, Daytripper, 
Joe the Barbarian (Vertigo/DC)

Best Lettering
Todd Klein, Fables, The Unwritten, Joe the Barbarian, iZombie

Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom (WildStorm/DC); SHIELD (Marvel); Driver 
for the Dead (Radical)

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism
ComicBookResources, produced by Jonah Weiland (

Best Comics-Related Book
75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking, by Paul Levitz (TASCHEN)

Best Publication Design
Dave Stevens' The Rocketeer Artist's Edition, designed by Randall Dahlk (IDW)


Judges' Choices: Ernie Bushmiller, Jack Jackson, Martin Nodell, Lynd Ward

Elected: Mort Drucker, Harvey Pekar, Roy Thomas, Marv Wolfman

Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award:
Comics & Vegetables, Tel Aviv, Israel - Yuval Sharon, Danny Amitai Strange Adventures 
of Halifax, Nova Scotia; Warp 1 of Edmonton, Alberta; and Mel Thompson
and Associates.

More information on the Eisner Awards may be found here.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Review: HorrorHound, Issue #30, July/August

Recent nation-wide Borders store liquidations brought a certain ounce of glee to me this week. No, not because a chain of bookstores are going out of business, but rather the great deals they have on newly published magazines. All of the periodicals in my local Borders (and possibly yours) are now 40% off! What was once considered over-priced magazines have turned into reasonably-priced magazines. This includes the gem of my purchases and my recommendation to all fans of horror and horror comics: HorrorHound Magazine, issue #30, July/August.

As any avid fan of the horror genre knows, there is never enough horror to go around. Hence the creation of many popular magazines that chronicle the past, present, and future attributes in all things Horror. Such magazines include FangoriaFamous Monsters of FilmlandRue MorgueFilmfax, and Scary Monsters Magazine. Unlike the other fright rags, HorrorHound outperforms their competition in a number of ways. I suggest to examine the following 7 categories in a horror magazine: film coverage, interviews, articles, layout, theme, collectibles coverage, and Easter eggs.

It's hard to imagine a magazine such as HorrorHound worrying about something as excessive as a theme, especially when their particular specialization in a certain film genre already screams thematic continuity. However, if there's one thing I've learned about HorrorHound, its that the creators of this magazine are a very dedicated crew that bring forth a unique vision to their consumers. The latest issue is dubbed a "SPECIAL COMIC BOOK ISSUE" which includes recent and past dealings in the phenomena of the horror comic. Article topics include Creepshow, The Walking Dead, Fright Night (the remake and original--did you know about the comic series?), I...Vampire, and Men's Pulp Magazines among many others. Included, down on the bottom of almost every page, is a small Easter egg, or featurette, that happens to detail a horror comic book. 

The amount of horror coverage does not end with comic books. The easy to follow layout makes HorrorHound one of the easiest to read and eye appealing magazines dedicated to the horror industry. Inside coverage includes detailed photographs of new films, toys, and DVD releases, as well as memorable collages of old VHS-tapes and special collector pieces, such as Fright Night writer/director Tom Holland's personal collection of Fright Night movie props. New fright flicks are welcomed with cast interviews and director reportage, while classic oldies are graced with lovely feature pages called "HorrorHound retrospectives" that include every and any possible collector memorabilia. Best yet, the magazine contains very little promotional adds that don't deter too much from original content. 

Honestly, I've always had two dilemmas with HorrorHound, and as I write this blog with my copy in-hand, I revoke both problems. My first complaint was in regards to the publication being bi-monthly. Just call me a two-year-old spoiled brat who wants it now, now, Now, NOW, NOW, NOW! Yeah, that's me. But after really getting the chance to look it over, read, and re-read the articles, I can say how much I appreciate every amount of space utilized in the efforts of creating this issue. Not a scrap is wasted. Even the font size changes for certain accommodations. My second pet peeve was and still is a bit personal. $7 bucks for a magazine! Holy crap, dude! Do you think I'm rich or something? Do you think the word "loaded" is tattooed to my forehead? I hope not. Once again, this is a personal issue and most of the time relates not only to this magazine but all magazines. HorrorHound however is the only exception in mind. Every penny I spent on this magazine, even at liquidation prices, was worth the purchase. Enough so that I've decided to succumb to my long time urge of subscribing to HorrorHound. If you're any kind of horror fiend like me, I recommend you do so as well.

As for the next issue of HorrorHound, look forward to an all encompassing issue dedicated to the intergalactic space beings! Special features and topics will surround the following movies: The Thing, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, War of the Worlds, etc.

More information and subscription orders may be found at HorrorHound's official website here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Release the Manhog! A Look at Woodring's 'Weathercraft'

My condolences go out to any gaming nerds happening upon this page with the expectations of finding a new installment in the Warcraft and Starcraft online games. However, my congratulations go out to everyone who has not yet heard of Jim Woodring's "Frank" comics and his first complete graphic novel, Weathercraft.

Published a little over a year ago by Fantagraphic Books, Weathercraft is the tale of a vile, illtempered creature known as Manhog and his overly torturous journey of spiritual transcendence. Woodring tells, or rather shows (the comic includes absolutely NO written dialogue), a beautifully rendered deployment into a fantastical land bathed in rich detail (absolutely no colors) and wonderful curiosities.

The story is short and sweet, delightfully funny one moment and morbidly grotesque the next. If I were still a child I'd imagine lounging aimlessly for hours on end with this book in hand. It's completely and utterly strange and twisted but nothing someone wouldn't find reasonably fitting in the madcap Wonderland or Oz adventure books. If only Jim Henson were still alive to oversee a project as gloriously entertaining as this. Hopefully someone worth their merit will tempt to bring this beauty to the big screen. Maybe after it gathers a strong cult-fan following.

Woodring proposes the book is pregnant with metaphors and symbolism. There is no doubt his storyboards are clever and meaningful, yet it may take audiences awhile to understand his intentions. Hopefully a future edition will come completely annotated in hope of ratifying this problem. Otherwise, if you have never been on acid before and wish to imagine what the world may look like, give Weathercraft a looksie and explore the innards and outwards of Woodring's imagination. I guarantee you'll feel completely spellbound.

More facts and information on the works of Jim Woodring may be found at his personal website, here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

"Insidious" is an Insidi-Must

Last night I was invited to a birthday party cookout where I expected to enjoy some bar-b-que ribs, grilled zuchinni, and freshly brewed iced-tea. But before I could grab a pair of utensils and dig into my meal, I caught  two words from a nearby group and instantly knew the topic of conversation. Those words were "astral projection."

If this phrase does not send shivers down your spine, chances are you haven't seen the horror flick Insidious yet. Writer and director James Wan (Saw, Saw III, Dead Silence) returned last year with his most recent work Insidious unbelievably flying beneath the radar screen of many horror fans. Like yours truly.

Fortunately, with Insidious' DVD release July 12th of 2011 the wait is no longer an apparent problem.

The film introduces the Lambert family in a moment of transition. The father (Patrick Wilson) spends long hours teaching and "grading papers" at a new school. The mother (Rose Byrn) settles into the family's new house, juggling her three children, and working at home as a singer/songwriter. The eldest son (Ty Simpkins) explores his family's newest house and unknowingly finds (or loses) himself in a different realm of fear and haunts.

Before watching the film, I had expected from trailer viewings a film closely similar to the ongoing exorcism revival (i.e. Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Last Exorcism, The Rite). This brought on a feeling of dread because I did not want ANOTHER exorcism movie. I wanted something new. And to make matters worse, the film is given a PG-13 rating. Everyone knows horror films are better when rated R. Right? Right?

Although the film begins slow, subtle yet big scares manage to bail the film from it's PG-13 gallows and reinstate it among "normal" horror society. Audiences begin to understand this movie is difficult to classify in the horror genre, just like the first installment of Saw is difficult to label as a horror flick. Nods to the classics are given (i.e. Poltergeist, The Exorcist, The Shining) along with some off-kilter grins (Drag Me to Hell, Evil Dead 2), ultimately fusing the film with so many various boogeymen that by the time the film is over you may be left wondering where in your horror film collection you should categorize it.

Which brings me back to the party last night and the words "astral projection." Unless you're down with the black arts, a practicing Buddhist, or read books written by author's with surnames the likes of Ravenwolf or Gardner,  I'm guessing you've never heard of "astral projection." However, you may have heard of an "out-of-body" experience. That's right, it's one-in-the-same as "astral projection." Now in the manner of films, I can't say I've seen or recall a film that encounters or incorporates out-of-body experiences the likes that Insidious does. The only one that comes to mind, but wasn't featured in the movie adaptation, is Stephen King's novel of incorporeal terror It. Other than that, not a one. With all due respect, a big round of applause to James Wan for introducing this little-known spiritual technique into the hearts of movie audiences.

After watching and discussing the film with my friends the comment that stood out the most was that one of Wan's boogeymen in the film happened to look sneakingly familiar, like some unnameable phantom menace.

That aside, Insidious is well worth the watch. As one party goer commented about the film last night, "It's been so long since I jumped in a movie." To that I say, amen brother.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Royal Short: "Le Royaume" by the Goeblins

Fans of Pixar and Studio Ghibli films will enjoy this small short created by a group of french students known as the Goeblins at Goeblins School of the Image.

This short graduation film, titled "Le Royaume," tells the brief anecdote and cautionary tale of one unnatural beaver's encounter with a self-proclaimed King. Impressive storytelling and gorgeous artwork (reminiscent of Disney's concept artists Mary Blair and Eyvind Earle) makes this short easily suitable for all audiences.

And don't worry, you don't need to understand French to enjoy it.

More information on the Goeblins may be obtained at their home web-page, or, for those not blessed with the French tongue, Wikipedia. Concept art like the piece shown below can be found at Sebhary's Blog.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Comic Review: Criminal Macbre/The Goon: When Freaks Collide

Hellboy? Dethklok? And now Criminal Macabre?

That's right. Dark Horse Comics treads familiar territory as Eric Powell's big, lovable brute the Goon and his world of weirdo, orgy monstrosity heads for another crossover. This time in Steve Niles' LA darkened rumpus, Criminal Macabre.

Is it a marketing attempt to urge more readers to different titles (the way the Hellboy/Goon one-shot slugged me a shiny and turned me a Goon fan for life)? Or is it two creator's attempt to, uh... umm... how to put this? squeeze our pockets for a little more child--*ahem*--excuse me, chicken feed? 

The answer: Neither.

The outcome of this one-shot is hard to describe. Imagine the cartoon Garfield and Friends paired with Thundercats because they both involve felines. Now imagine the film Rush Hour shaken and stirred with Enter the Dragon because of mixed-racial casting. Well, in this one-shot the common denominator happens to be monsters. In Powell's world, the Goon fights slack-jaws and an undead priest. In Niles', Cal McDonald fights off werewolves and vampires. Mix the two together and we should get a big bag of dead monsters and awesome camaraderie between our favorite monster slayers. Sounds good, right? But considering the two completely different tones of storytelling featured in Criminal Macabre and The Goon, it's tough to call this a good choice.

Fans of The Goon will instantly notice a change in direction from their comically morbid world into a serious comic entity. This is sad to say too, since it is Eric Powell listed in the front cover as the one providing the "Farts and Negativity." Sadly, no farts were made during the reading of this comic (unless they were made by yours truly) and little to any comedy panned out in the story (I blame Niles for this one. After all, he is credited the storyteller).

But the truly remarkable feature in this comic is Christopher Mitten's artwork, most particularly when it comes to action sequences. Mitten hones in on the epicenter of each delivered movement with a strong fluidity. The amount of awesome rock'em, sock'em action in this comic is a big plus. One minute the Goon and McDonald rebel rouse one another in stunning clarity, while in the next they fight along side an ominous horde of Lovecraftian ghoulies. Good times, ahoy!

By the time I finished this comic, I was truly happy I made the purchase. The story bounced around a bit before delivering the goods and ultimately paid off with decent artwork. I'm afraid new-readers will lose out on The Goon's full effect here around. This comic is certainly nothing like The Goon/Hellboy one-shot where the creator's offered even tastes to both characters. In adjustment to this one-shot, I'd recommend Powell's most recent publication The Goon #34, which delivers a very different story but far more original than this mash-up.

Truthfully, this story doesn't matter much in either of the two series and only introduces Criminal Macabre's plot with the hopes of luring new readers in Nile's direction. There are plenty of incentives to this comic that are well worth the four bucks (like extra artwork by Ben Templesmith and Christopher Mitten, and *gasp* a brief Hellboy cameo!). But sadly, Nile's story is too uninteresting, I think I'll sit on the golden egg dubbed The Goon for the time being and try to ignore further Dark Horse mix-tapes. Nice try Niles.