Quirky Mysteries

Renowned fictional comic book artist Mike Mason and alternate universe former Vice-President Joe Biden have very little in common. The commonalty is listlessness and set into a life which needs a bit of excitement. That very little exists though and through it machinations propels both their lives into crazy mysteries with as many twists and turns as the Los Caracoles.

In Fred Van Lente’s THE CON ARTIST we get thrown into San Diego during its always tumultuous world of San Diego Comic Con AKA Comic Con International. We meet artists, writers, fans (crazy and normal), editors, publishers, criminals and even zombies (sort of). I mean what’s a comic convention without a zombie or two, and murder. Of course what is a murder mystery without a mysterious murder? Especially one that the protagonist finds himself wrapped into heavily by being a suspect themselves for many different reasons. While trying to prove his own innocence by solving the crime himself Mike Mason runs, jumps, parties, contrives and draws through the time at the convention. Littered with pop-culture references as well as original TV, movie and comic ideas, the novel takes you on what feels like an legitimate experience of the convention and all it entails, including visiting the Gaslamp district, seedy hotels, crazy after parties, the marina and more. There’s side kicks and neo-nazis, sexy cosplay players who also are pedicab drivers, and a one armed girl who is a huge fan of Mike Mason because one of his major creations is a one armed warrior. The book is even full of illustrations done by the excellent Tom Fowler meant to be from the sketchbook of Mike’s, which he describes through out as he tries to keep his sanity. The only thing truly missing is a visit to the San Diego Zoo, but most people are lucky to find time to do that when trying to enjoy, endure and survive the media explosion that is SDCC.

While over in Andrew Shaffer’s HOPE NEVER DIES we find ourselves on the other coast of the nation in Wilmington, Delaware. It is a town with a long political upheaval. A melting pot city broken up into structures of poverty and comfortable. There’s local police, small town diners, a local motorcycle gang, civil up-rest living side by side and it feeds directly into the Amtrak towards Washington, DC. Home to a long time senator who moved to the area in his early teens and by the 1970s was the senator for all of Delaware till his two terms serving under the President. In the narrative it’s been six months since the new regime had taken office in early 2016, Joe Biden is now living in a nice home with his wife and dog and no longer has protective service. He is just a citizen, till circumstances of a long time acquaintances death seem possibly mysterious, or at the very least leave questions open. The information and the strange evidence is brought to him by his best friend Barack Obama; and after Joe uses some finagling and his own resources getting more info he finds himself teaming with Barack to find out the truth behind this death. Along the way they encounter cops, secret service men, more evidence, red herrings, drugs, injuries and they both begin to remember that no matter what, in the battle, whatever it is, we keep going; we believe whatever we did on this life was enough and that title of the book isn’t just a saying, but a way of life.

Through these two books, both out today in bookstores and other places you buy books QUIRK continues to solidify it as a publisher with a very distinct curation. Seeking things that are different, but altogether familiar using pop-culture themes one can all identify with while presenting entertaining news stories which one could easily see adapted into comics, film, television or cartoon.

THE CON ARTIST by Fred Van Lente (published by Quirk Books) is priced at $14.99 and is available in paperback and e-book
https://www.quirkbooks.com/book/con-artist

HOPE NEVER DIES by Andrew Shaffer (published by Quirk Books) is priced at $14.99 and is available in paperback and e-book
https://www.quirkbooks.com/HopeNeverDies

I also recommend following both authors on Twitter (and other social media) as well as Quirk books:
@fredvanlente
@andrewtshaffer
@quirkbooks

The Group of Sadly Forgotten Weirdos who did evil things

Comics have a history of weird, wacky, unusual or even actually lame, annoying and “maybe we’d be better off without but were stuck with them so we better learn to live with it” characters. Some of them only existing for one issue, others despite their complete nuttiness and/or annoying and/or pointlessness lasting for decades. These characters run the gamut from good guys to bad guys to sidekicks to henchmen and even just supporting characters (such as Steve Lombard of DC Comics’ Daily Planet in Superman comics). Some of these characters were just also not as awesome as others, so because of one thing or another they’ve been less highlighted and become lesser known then their counterparts.

In the second volume of a series from Quirk Books by Jon Morris, titled The Legion of Regrettable Super Villains, the author highlights many of these characters on the “evil” side of the board from the Golden Age to today’s comics including Image and Dark Horse. As the introduction suggests, much like in the first volume, these characters are less regrettable then they are possibly forgettable or more unpopular. Per that a slightly more well known Marvel villain Batroc the Leaper is featured in the The Silver Age section of the book. He of maybe anyone in the book seems almost out of place as he’s been featured in a variety of cartoons, had a toy and was even portrayed by one of the few household names in MMA, Georges St. Pierre in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Despite this, the profiles in The Legion of Regrettable Super Villains, are entertaining, at times informative and a wonderful collection focusing on characters what else-wise get the short shaft.

The true highlight of the book is the Golden Age section as if delves deep beyond Marvel and DC to many of the strange and varied companies of the time that published what are now obscure buried treasures in the regrettable factor is that it is regrettable they are not more easily accessible for readers of all pockets and locales. The Golden age has had a fair share of new collections, notably The Green Llama by Dark Horse and the work of Fletcher Hanks (whose character Lepus is featured on the cover of Legion) from Fantagraphics and most recently Craig Yoe’s Super Weird Heroes, a great companion to The Legion of Regrettable Super Villians , in which the originals are remastered, but a lot of the titles featured in Jon Morris’ books have not had that privilege. Therefore the pages and profiles he provides to a far gone past of crazy creation is most welcome as many of these comics would costs 1000s to own because of rarity of existence in this day and ageTo promote the book, Jon has also drawn illios of the first of  the book’s profiles (these excellent illustrations unfortunately are not in the book itself).  One of the editors at Quirk, Rick Chilot has done some as well for marketing. Here are three that I liked (but I like all of them).  Go to @calamityjon and @rickchillot on Twitter for more.

from the anthropomorphic version of Fawcett’s Captain Marvel AKA Shazam titled Hoppy, The Marvel Bunny. Created by Chad Grothkopf, a quality artist of the 30-40’s who also worked on DC Comics

a true golden age classic the book provides pages from the unsung Prize Comics this character was in. the book credits Paul Norris and Dick Sprang, major players in DC’s Golden Age as the creators.

Not to be confused with Batman, he appeared in Police Comics-the home of Jack Cole’s Plastic Man. A creation of what could be also a regrettable creator George Brenner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains by Jon Morris will be available wherever you like to buy books on March 28, 2017 from Quirk Books.  You will regret it if you don’t pick it up for yourself to devour, learn, discover, rediscover, laugh and maybe even cry over these amazing characters of yesteryear and today who coulda been contenders but barely even made it to the ring.

(this review was written from an advance copy of the finished product)

To Boldy Review where no Date has Reviewed

I have not truly amazingly had the luck to actually date many fellow nerds in my life. This isn’t to say I haven’t dated, jut I haven’t dated many nerds. The people who I consider my own. The comic fans, the wrestling fans, the sci-fi fans, the video gamers… now I have been with those people, but generally more than not I’ve been with people who actually were not on the same wave length as me. Not from lack of knowing where to find them, ask them out or any of that. Just the luck of the draw here.

Still I know there are plenty guys out there who can’t even get to that first step or even if they do, what to do next and after that or even after that. When you grow up watching Thundercats, playing Super Mario and reading Booster Gold while rolling dice for a D & D game and discussing the merits of Ric Flair over Roddy Piper on the phone with your friend whose thinking about his acne and multiple allergies, how to go out with the opposite or even same sex is gong to be an art you never really learn.

That’s where THE GEEK’S GUIDE TO DATING by Eric Smith comes into play or at least that how’d I’d sell it if I was a marketing person. Oh wait, I am… but that’s not where I’m coming from in this review.

I’ll admit even I might not be nerdy enough for this book. Some references were completely and totally lost on me. I’ve never been into Firefly, I’m not a big Link fan, I don’t know HALO from a brick in the wall… but I somehow still know what Eric was going for with each reference so it was never completely lost on me.

In many ways this isn’t just a geek’s guide to dating, but a clever voice in just basic logic of dating, understanding the ways and what fors of finding it, going on it and what to do after said date. These are tips that can be used by anyone in our modern social media driven world of Facebook, twitter, Foursquare and more. It’s just painted to attract an audience that would not necessarily go for it while being open enough for a non geek to at least see the the great cover and start skimming to see what it contains, notice how concise the advice is and just be “Huh, I could use this”.

One other great aspect that is a huge selling point to me is the cool Kickpixel pieces. I can’t really say anything about them, they just look awesome especially since I love 8 bit art even if I don’t like 8 bit games. Just look at this piece and if you don’t love it…I don’t know you. Even if you hate it, you still need this book. Actually if you hate it, you need this book more than anyone cause boy oh boy do you need some social tips.

GEEK’S GUIDE TO DATING came out September 3rd from QUIRK BOOKS and is a 5 x9 hardcover priced at $14.95