Celebrating the Unpopular Arts
 

What I bought, read, watched, or otherwise consumed – May 2022

“That’s the attractive thing about war,” said Rosewater. “Absolutely everybody gets a little something.” (Kurt Vonnegut, from Slaughterhouse-5)

COMICS

Karmen by Guillem March (writer/artist), Tony López (color assistant), and Dan Christensen (translator). $24.99, 149 pgs, Image.

I’m a big fan of March’s art, so I was looking forward to this for that reason, but it turns out to be an excellent story, as well. Obviously, the art is superb – March takes his characters around their city, using bizarre “camera” angles to give us views that challenge our perceptions, all while keeping the storytelling simple and easy to follow. His details are amazing, as they usually are – this is a fully realized city, with quiet streets, busy boulevards, old-world castles and churches next to chic modern architecture, interesting apartments and beautiful beaches. You can see Karmen there on the cover, and yep, she looks like that throughout the book (there’s a reason). Catalina, the main character in the book, goes through most of it naked (and only occasionally wearing a sports jacket), and March does a wonderful job showing how she moves and how her body relates to, among other things, gravity. It’s an amazing book visually, in other words, which isn’t surprising, given that March is an excellent artist.

Meanwhile, the story is a philosophical wander through a woman’s life, as Catalina commits suicide early on in the book (I mean, spoilers, I guess, but it happens really early on) and Karmen is sort of an angel leading her to heaven? Not really, as Karmen herself points out when Catalina asks, but sort of. The entire book is about why Catalina felt the need to kill herself, and if anything can be done about it. March is cribbing from A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life, true (Catalina definitely references the first, but I can’t remember if she references Capra’s movie), but in an interesting way, so that’s all right. He does a nice job giving Catalina a rich life, one that isn’t perfect by any means, but one that she hasn’t quite lived to the fullest, which is part of why she kills herself. It’s a fairly heartwarming story despite the deaths (plural), and March does a nice job with it.

You should already be a fan of March, but if you’re not, this is a good place to start. I linked to it at the end of the post, so there you go!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

She has some … issues

My Bad volume 1: Important New Superhero Universe by Mark Russell (writer/artist), Bryce Ingman (writer), Peter Krause (artist), Joe Orsak (artist), Kelly Fitzpatrick (colorist), Paul Little (colorist), Rob Steen (letterer), and Cory Sedlmeier (collection editor). $17.99, 122 pgs, Ahoy Comics.

Mark Russell has cornered the market on superhero satire, and My Bad is one of his better efforts (helped, maybe, by co-writer Ingman?). He gives us a bunch of silly heroes and villains who, of course, take everything extremely seriously. The Chandelier, his main hero, spends the entire book trying to figure out why the main villain, Emperor King, sent his alter ego a salad shooter for his birthday. Emperor King, meanwhile, is trying to kill the Accelerator, a speedy alien who spends most of his time promoting his fried chicken restaurants. Emperor King accidentally traps Rush Hour, whose sole purpose as a hero is to assist motorists on the Los Angeles freeways. It’s all very ridiculous, but very funny, and Russell’s satirizing isn’t exactly subtle and isn’t really that cruel – he’s just having fun with the archetypes rather than savaging them too much – and Krause’s solid art helps ground it all, so you can believe that a man wearing a chandelier on his head would be a respected hero. The trade includes the “letters pages,” which are very funny in their own right. Russell knows what he’s doing with these kinds of stories, and so this is quite a fun read!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Yes, yes he did

Knighted volume 1 by Gregg Hurwitz (writer), Mark Texeira (artist), Brian Reber (colorist), Lee Loughridge (colorist), and Andworld Design (letterer). $9.99, 117 pgs, AWA/Upshot.

Speaking of superhero satires, Hurwitz pokes some fun at Batman in this otherwise straight superhero story, as mild-mannered Bob Ryder, a computer whiz who works with the New York police department, accidentally kills the Batman analog in the first few pages and has to take over the role to stop the bad guys. Throughout the book, Hurwitz makes fun of Batman’s super-seriousness – the Knight is kind of a dick and kind of a perv – but the story itself is a straight crime drama, and it works well. The Knight’s butler, the brains of the operation, helps Bob out, and the suit is super hi-tech, so it also helps Bob out. Hurwitz writes in the afterword that he wanted to see what would happen if Peter Parker became Batman, and that’s not a bad comparison – Bob is a decent guy, so he tries to help people as well as fight crime. The bad guys are interesting – in this world (I’m not sure if it’s the world of the entire AWA Universe or just one Hurwitz created, because I haven’t read enough of the AWA output to know), something happened and a small percentage of people got superpowers. Many of the angry “normal” people don’t like that, so they upgrade themselves through technology rather than “magic” (or whatever happened to the people). Then they go out killing superpowered people. Bob has to stop them. It’s a well done story, with obvious allusions to white supremacists in our world, and Hurwitz brings in a lot of family drama for Bob (his nephew has leukemia) to humanize him, and it’s not super-dark but it’s still serious. It’s nicely done, in other words. Texeira’s art is always good to see, and he does his usual excellent job. (Texeira has been working in comics for 40 years, which doesn’t seem possible!) I do hope Hurwitz and Texeira can do more with the character, because it feels like there’s a lot of potential here. We shall see!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

No judgment here, Bob!

Batman vs. Bigby! A Wolf in Gotham by Bill Willingham (writer), Brian Level (penciler), Jay Leisten (inker), Anthony Fowler Jr. (inker), Lee Loughridge (colorist), Steve Wands (letterer), and Matthew Levine (collection editor). $19.99, 132 pgs, DC.

Ah, a penciler/inker combo – how old-school! It really is kind of a shame that digital art has made inking almost irrelevant in modern comics, because it’s always nice to see what a good inker can do for pencils, and Leisten is a good inker (I don’t know as much about Fowler, sorry!). The art on this book is really good, as Level is a good artist, but I imagine Leisten helped with that, as well. Level creates interesting page designs, with unusual panel borders (books stacked on top of each other in one example), and he gives us a Gotham that’s strange but not an urban wasteland as it’s often portrayed. His Batman is imposing but not superhuman, and he does a nice job changing his outfit to fit the situation – he has to wear armor on occasion in this book, and Level does well with it. When his Bigby “wolfs out,” it’s impressive, too, because he makes him big but not ridiculously so, and he keeps a hint of “humanity” in his face, so he’s not an animal but a modified human. There are several Robins in this comic (I guess that’s a thing now?), and Level does a fine job distinguishing them from each other. It’s a cool-looking book, in other words. It’s in service of a good story, too, as Willingham does a nice job bringing the Batman world and the Fables world together in a way that makes sense – it helps that Batman often deals with this kind of weirdness. Willingham uses Bookworm, which is inspired, and there’s an actual mystery to solve, which is always nice. Of course Batman and Bigby don’t get along, and of course they fight a bit before they grudgingly admit they need to work together, but I don’t mind these kind of shenanigans when it’s done pretty well, and Willingham makes it plausible that they would fight each other for a while. So this is a cool comic. I’m glad DC does “special” Batman books so I can read the character without getting the main titles!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

You’re fucked now, Bats!

Hawkeye: Kate Bishop by Marieke Nijkamp (writer), Enid Balám (penciler), Oren Junior (inker), Roberto Poggi (inker), Brittany Peer (colorist), Cris Peter (colorist), Rachelle Rosenberg (colorist), Joe Caramagna (letterer), and Jennifer Grünwald (collection editor).

Despite the fact that Kelly Thompson’s Hawkeye series was quite good, it didn’t last (in today’s world, that doesn’t necessarily mean that sales were bad, as it could mean that Thompson wanted to move on, so Marvel wanted to reboot!), but Marvel knows they have a pretty good character, so we get a new mini-series! There’s a big problem with this comic: All the work that Fraction and Thompson did to get Kate established in California is undone, as she moves back to New York to hang out with her friends. It doesn’t feel organic (it was almost certainly done because Marvel is doing television shows with Hailee Steinfeld in New York, and we don’t want to cornfuse any viewers who wander over to comics!!!!), as it feels like a regression of the character (which isn’t surprising; superhero characters aren’t allowed to grow up anymore, because their audience, despite getting older, never seems to grow up either), but with all that being said, this is still an entertaining comic. Kate decides to accept an invitation to a spa in the Hamptons before returning to New York, an invitation, it turns out, that was sent by her sister, with whom Kate does not have the greatest relationship. Said spa is, naturally, somewhat sinister (it has a pickleball court but not a tennis court, which automatically makes it evil!), and Kate gets embroiled in an adventure. It’s a fun comic with nice art (hey look – more inkers!), and while I don’t love some of the Young Avengers showing up, they don’t distract too much from Kate’s journey. The villain is cool, and there’s just a nice vibe to the whole thing. I don’t love the destination for the character, but at least she got there in style!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Who doesn’t like a good sourdough?

Beyond the Breach is a pretty good monster story, as dimensional holes open up in our world and monsters come through and start killing people. A young woman with some issues has to get a boy to his grandparents (because his parents were killed) and she has to get past the monsters, and it’s a pretty good adventure with good art. The two volumes of Black Widow were very good, and the third just missed the “Top Five” cut that I’m doing these days, as it’s still a good read, just not quite as good as the other five books I highlight above. It happens. Campisi is a fun gangster/dragon mash-up, in which a mob fixer has to “fix” the fact that a dragon has come to town and wants to kill everyone for revenge. It’s more thoughtful than you might expect! Clans of Belari is a decent sci-fi story about a segregated society and what happens when one person defies that society. There’s nothing exceptionally original about it, but it’s a solid tale. The Death of Nancy Drew is a bit disappointing, as the mystery is a bit weak and we keep getting red herrings that aren’t that interesting. I like writer Anthony Del Col and artist Joe Eisma, but they don’t do their best work here. Peach Momoko reworks the X-Men (plus a few other characters) as Japanese characters in Demon Days, in which Mariko Yashida has an adventure with oni and other creatures, and the story is fine, but you come for the gorgeous artwork, and it is quite gorgeous, so there’s that. Dreadnoughts is about the early days of the Judge program (a century before Dredd), and it’s quite good, as writer Michael Carroll gives us a plausible America where such a program would be instituted. Eat the Rich is a somewhat clever social satire, although it’s a bit too obvious and ends a bit too … hopefully, I guess? It’s still a good comic about why capitalism continues to exist despite its major flaws, and the art is nice. I wanted to like Heathen more than I do – it’s a pretty good adventure, as a young Viking girl goes on a quest to kill Odin, but it’s weirdly anachronistic in places, trying a bit too hard to be “woke” (which, as you should know, I don’t mind, unless it’s out of place, like it feels like in this comic) while also engaging in some strange cheesecake moments. The tone is odd, in other words, but it’s not a bad comic. The third volume of Money Shot is disappointing, perhaps due to the lack of Rebekah Isaacs on art, but also because the story doesn’t quite feel as biting as it was in the first two volumes. Is Tim Seeley going soft on us?!?!? Pop Star Assassin, which has a pretty good hook (Elvis impersonator gets caught up in a weird government conspiracy) and really good art (by Marcelo Basile), is almost incomprehensible, as its story is all over the place, with very little coherence and characters randomly saying things that have no relation to anything other characters have said or what’s happening on the page. It’s way too out there, and not in a good way. Search for Hu is about an ex-soldier finding out his mother is descended from both Chinese and Jewish gangsters who are feuding, dragging his family into it, so he has to go to China to sort things out. It’s not a bad comic, although Aaron’s invincibility is a bit suspect – he probably should be dead several times in this book, but he keeps John-Wicking himself right back into action! The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is not a bad template for an adventure, and so we get Seven Swords, in which D’Artagnan (the Musketeer) recruits some other fictional characters (including Cyrano de Bergerac and Don Juan) to fight Cardinal Richelieu, who wants to take over the world, naturally. It’s pretty fun. Michael Walsh’s creepy horror anthology, The Silver Coin, gets a second volume, and it also just missed the cut above, as it’s quite good and weird. Lots of well-drawn horror! Finally, The Stone King is an interesting fantasy book about a young thief who accidentally pisses off a giant stone giant that begins wrecking her city, and she needs to figure out how to stop it, all while running from Johnny Law and her fellow thieves. It’s pretty good, and Tyler Crook’s art is, naturally, very good. And that’s that, people!

BOOKS

The Last Days of Imperial Vienna by Robert Pick. 261 pgs, 1975, The Dial Press.

You might have noticed that I had no book reviews in my April post. If you did not, well, I didn’t, and here’s why: I began reading a novel and got about 100 pages into it before I realized I just didn’t like it. I hate abandoning books, but there just didn’t seem to be any reason to keep reading it, so I gave it up. I started reading this book, but thanks to posting my March post so late, I didn’t get through this one until after I posted my April reviews. It’s all very simple and believable!

Anyway, I like reading olde-tymey history books, meaning ones from the last century, because they’re such products of their times and obviously, new research is always being done on the past, so I’m never sure how out of date they are. Take this book, for instance, which was published in 1975. I don’t know if the research on the end of the war in Vienna has yielded more interesting stuff that might contradict Pick, but it’s intriguing to think about. He doesn’t really make many controversial statements – this is basically a straight history, without Pick trying to synthesize anything out of it – but due to the fact that it was written in the 1970s by a man in his seventies (Pick was born in 1898), it’s slightly more anti-Communist than it might be if it were written today. It’s not wildly anti-Commie, just a bit, and it’s interesting getting that vibe from the book. Pick begins with the assassination of the Austrian prime minister in October 1916 and ends with the “defeat” of a planned Communist insurrection on 15 June 1919, and in between he examines the end of the Habsburg dynasty and the establishment of the Austrian republic. His focus, naturally, is on Vienna, which isn’t surprising given that during this time, Vienna was home to 75% of Austria’s population. He gets into the struggle between the Socialists and the Communists for control of the country, the threat of the Nationalists who were gaining strength, partly due to their ties to the German Nationalists, and the efforts of the Austrians to keep the Germans out of their business. He also writes about the dissolution of the multi-ethnic Habsburg empire, although not in too much detail (again, the focus of the book is on Vienna). It’s an interesting book, to be sure, but Pick isn’t the best writer. His use of punctuation is spotty, which makes his long, meandering sentences occasionally difficult to parse because they’re lacking crucial commas. He doesn’t do a terribly good job with the characters in the drama, as we learn very little even about someone like Emperor Karl, the last Habsburg emperor (whose son died only in 2011 at the age of 98), much less the many politicians jockeying for position in post-war Vienna. Obviously, this isn’t fiction, and Pick sticks to the basic facts of the narrative, but it does make the reading a bit dry. I’m interested in it simply because I like history and I like the time period and I like the Habsburgs, but Pick could have been a bit better with the writing. As I’ve often noted, many historians aren’t great writers, and they get by because the subject matter is interesting. Pick’s book is a classic example of that.

I don’t have much else to say about this. It’s an interesting narrative about a time and place that often gets overlooked, as Austro-Hungary was seen as the weak partner in the Central Powers, the one that dragged Germany into a war and then did nothing to win it, and after the war, its constituent parts were overlooked until Hitler turned his greedy eye to the east, so it’s not a part of history most people concern themselves with. But it’s still pretty interesting. I wish Pick had had stronger opinions about some of what happened, but that’s not his jam. That’s the way it is!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

TELEVISION

The North Water (BBC America). Jack O’Connell stars as a surgeon who left the British army under scandalous circumstances and decides to join the crew of a whaling ship in 1859, which turns out to be a really bad idea. The captain, Stephen Graham, takes it from Hull to Canadian waters, where, unbeknownst to all but a few on board, he plans to sink it so he and its owner can split the insurance money. Meanwhile, Colin Ferrell is there, too, as a harpooner with a violent temper, and when a cabin boy is killed, things get hairy quickly on board. Soon enough, the ship is in the drink, most of the crew is stranded, and things don’t look good. This is a decent adventure story, and if you dig “man-vs-nature” kind of things, you’ll probably like this. O’Connell and Ferrell dominate the proceedings, with Ferrell particularly doing a very good job as a truly evil dude. It was filmed on location in Norway and looks it, as the cold seems to bite you through the screen. O’Connell is a bit too “British” during the show, insisting on things that seem ridiculous given the situation, but it does make the ending work a bit better, so it’s not the worst thing in the world. This is nothing too special, but it’s a pretty good show.

Moon Knight (Disney+). I mean, this is a mess, but it’s an entertaining mess, and Isaac acts the hell out of it (as usual, Disney can throw money at great actors, but apparently not at great writers?). Hawke is terrific, too, as are May Calamaway and F. Murray Abraham (as Khonshu, which he has a lot of fun with). The problem is, much like WandaVision, is that Marvel always feels like they need a big punchout at the end, and it’s not really necessary all the time. So while there’s a fascinating psychological drama going on, we also have to have Hawke trying to resurrect a mean goddess so he can kill every “sinner” in the world. The final battle is visually impressive (Amit and Khonshu are giants fighting around the pyramids), but it’s still just another Big Fight™, and we’ve seen that before. Much more interesting is Marc Spector’s family drama and how it splintered him, plus the Big Reveal™ at the end which everyone who’s ever read a Moon Knight comic could see coming (well, anyone who watched the show could see it coming, too, but maybe not as specifically as comics fans). Still, the psychological part of the story – with Steven not understanding what’s going on, with Moon Knight stalking him early in the show, with Marc and Steven being forced to question their reality, even with Layla being seduced by the Egyptian god mess – is quite good, and it would have been nice if that had been more prominent. Even Hawke, as a cult leader, could have been less of a “let’s kill everyone” kind of guy and more a “what are we really worshipping” kind of guy. The nature of belief and the psychological ramifications of religion are not thing Disney or Marvel is going to push too hard in their shows, but it would have been a more interesting one if they had. Still, it’s a cool show with some very good effects (and some that are really not so good, but such is life). I am very unsure why they used Marlene but changed her name to Layla. Is “Marlene” too Caucasian and they wanted to cast an Arab (“Layla” is Arabic)? That’s probably it, but it’s still odd, since the character is, for all intents and purposes, Marlene. Oh well.

The Gilded Age (HBO). I’ve never watched Downton Abbey, but I heard this was supposed to be a “prequel” before things changed, and now it’s just a show about rich people in 1880s New York. I am fascinated by the “gilded age,” so I thought this would be interesting, and it is … to a degree. While there’s nothing wrong with focusing on the social aspects of life in New York and the cutthroat competition between the “old money” and the “new money,” I hope in subsequent seasons that we get a bit more about the ruthless robber barons, as George Russell, the main male character in this show, is a robber baron based slightly on Jay Gould and Cornelius Vanderbilt. For this season, however, we get the battle between Bertha Russell, who wants to join the “old money” society, and the women keeping her out, represented mostly by Christine Baranski as Agnes van Rhijn. Agnes and her sister, Ada (played simperingly by Cynthia Nixon, who’s perfectly fine but has little to do), take in their niece, Marian (played by Louisa Jacobson, who had one credit before this show, and if you’re wondering how she got it, check out who her mother is), a country bumpkin from beautiful Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and Marian becomes the audience’s surrogate as we enter this world. The Russells have built a palace on 61st and 5th Avenue, the van Rhijns live across the street, and Mrs. Russell spends the season trying to get people to accept her. Marian, meanwhile, becomes friends with Peggy Scott (Denée Benton), a black woman who wants to be a writer, and the show actually handles the race issue fairly well. It’s a lot of eye candy, to be sure, with stunning rooms and gorgeous outfits, and Carrie Coon as Bertha dominates everyone – Baranski is very witty (I guess she’s the “Maggie Smith” character, if we’re comparing it to Downton Abbey), but she rarely leaves the house, so she is not as interesting as Bertha. It’s a pretty good show, let down a bit by the writing, but the actors are mostly good (Jacobson is a bit overwhelmed, but perhaps she’s doing it deliberately). I will check out Season 2, but I really do hope it gets a bit meatier.

The Endgame (NBC). Morena Baccarin is about to turn 43, and I’m not sure she gets the recognition she deserves. She’s a terrific actor, and is so often better than the material she’s in that I think she gets ignored except for the fact that she’s gorgeous. She’s so good in Gotham, she was wonderful in Deadpool and didn’t deserve what happened to her, she was brilliant in V, and even when she guest stars in things, she elevates everything around her. Much like a lot of what she appears in, she’s better than The Endgame, which she produced herself (presumably to give herself something to show off her talents), but it’s not a bad show, just kind of a stupid one. Baccarin plays an arms dealer who allows the FBI to capture her because she has a big scheme to avenge the bombing of her wedding some years before. She has the whole thing planned, and it’s certainly clever (I dislike when villains allow themselves to be captured as part of her grand scheme, but the show does show her planning it and she doesn’t rely too much on luck, which is what annoys me about such gambits). She matches wits with Ryan Michelle Bathe, whose husband is somehow involved with Baccarin and her husband. The stupidity comes from the authorities, who constantly discount Baccarin’s reach even after she’s proven that her organization is highly efficient. I mean, they know someone from the outside is communicating with her in her holding cell, but they never think to, you know, move her. I mean, they could send to a hole in Wyoming or something, and then what the hell would she do? Anyway, the show has been canceled, which means the cliffhanger at the end of the finale will never be resolved, but it felt a bit tacked on anyway, so if you’re in the mood to watch Baccarin do her thing, this isn’t bad. Maybe her next project will make her a bigger star!

The Flight Attendant season 2 (HBO). Kaley Cuoco’s baby (she’s the executive producer) isn’t quite the shock to the system that season 1 was (it was designed as a one-season show, but of course when it was a hit, they made more!), but it’s still a good show, as in this season, there’s still plenty of thrills and mayhem and spy stuff, but it’s more about Cuoco’s Cassie’s journey through sobriety and what that means. Cuoco is superb in this show, and she does a brilliant job with the problems Cassie is having staying on the wagon. Cuoco has always had very good comic timing, and she’s made a living out of being The Hot Girl™, but her dramatic acting is terrific in this season, as she has to play different aspects of herself inside her own head as well as showing a woman coming apart at the seams in the “real world.” The cast is quite good – Rosie Perez is excellent as usual, T.R. Knight does a good job as Cuoco’s brother, and Griffin Matthews as a fellow flight attendant/CIA agent does a nice job, but it’s Zosia Mamet and Deniz Akdeniz as Cuoco’s best friend and best friend’s boyfriend who match Cuoco’s brilliance, as Mamet is falling apart in her own and different way from Cuoco, while Akdeniz tries to prop her up. The show has a pretty good balance between really heavy stuff, the action, and some humor to keep it from being too dark. It’s pretty neat.

Ridley Road (PBS). This four-episode series is about the rise of the Fascist movement in England in the early 1960s and the Jews who try to bring it down. It’s pretty good, but it suffers a bit from having Agnes O’Casey in the leading role, as a sheltered girl who discovers she has a talent for espionage and helps bring down Colin Jordan, the leader of the National Socialist Movement. O’Casey isn’t a bad actor, but this is literally her first role (according to IMDb, she was in a “video short” prior to this), and she’s a bit overwhelmed. That works occasionally, but when it’s not called for, O’Casey has trouble getting rid of it, and someone like Rory Kinnear, who’s quite a good actor (he’s playing Jordan), wrecks her in a few scenes. But it’s still pretty good, although it feels too short – I think they could have used one or possibly two more episodes to flesh out the characters a bit more and show how dangerous it was for the Jews to infiltrate the organization and how hostile the authorities were to minorities in the 1960s, even though they fought a danged war against fascists not twenty years earlier. Gabriel Akuwudike, who plays a young mixed-race black man who works in resistance groups, gets relegated to the sideline a bit too quickly, for instance. So it’s an interesting show, but it doesn’t feel as complete as it should. And just in case you have hopes that the people who tried to overthrow the government last January will go to jail for a while, the British authorities had ironclad proof that Jordan was forming an armed paramilitary group, presumably to overthrow the government, and he went to prison for … nine months. Yikes.

**********

In the “classic” reprint section this month, we have only one book: PS Artbooks’ Tor, with some nice Kubert art. Odd. Already in June I’ve gotten more “classic” reprints! Let’s move on!

Money, money, money for the month!

4 May: $119.65
11 May: $136.19
18 May: $173.48
25 May: $276.18

Money spent in May: $825.15 (May 2021: $880.63 – wow, I actually spend less this year!)
YTD: $4678.53 (Last year at this time: $3171.53)

Here are the publishers!

AfterShock: 6 (1 single issue, 5 trade paperbacks)
Ahoy Comics: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Archaia: 2 (2 single issues)
AWA/Upshot: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Behemoth: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Boom! Studios: 2 (1 single issue, 1 trade paperback)
Clover Press: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Conundrum Press: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Dark Horse: 4 (2 single issues, 2 trade paperbacks)
DC: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Dynamite: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Fanfare/Ponent Mon: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Fantagraphics: 1 (1 single issue)
Graphic Mundi: 1 (1 graphic novel)
HarperCollins: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Humanoids: 1 (1 graphic novel)
IDW: 2 (2 graphic novels)
Image: 7 (5 single issues, 2 trade paperbacks)
Insight Comics: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Marvel: 4 (1 single issue, 3 trade paperbacks)
One Peace Books: 1 (1 graphic novel)
PS Artbooks: 1 (1 “classic” reprint)
Rebellion/2000AD: 2 (1 single issue, 1 trade paperback)
Silver Sprocket: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Soaring Penguin Press: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Source Point Press: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Vault: 2 (2 trade paperbacks)
Viz: 1 (1 manga volume)

Totals for the month:

1 “classic” reprint (29)
11 graphic novels (61)
1 manga volume (3)
14 single issues (57)
23 trade paperbacks (101)

Here are the yearly totals so far!

Ablaze: 3
Abrams Comicarts: 1
Action Lab: 1
AfterShock: 16
Ahoy Comics: 3
Amulet Books/Abrams: 1
Antarctic Press: 1
Archaia: 5
AWA Studios: 4
Behemoth: 2
Black Panel Press: 1
Boom! Studios: 7
Caliber Press: 1
Centrala: 1
Clover Press: 2
Conundrum Press: 1
Darby Pop: 1
Dark Horse: 31
DC: 12
Dead Reckoning: 2
Drawn & Quarterly: 2
Dynamite: 2
Epicenter Comics: 1
Fanfare/Ponent Mon: 1
Fantagraphics: 8
Floating World Comics: 1
Gallery 13: 1
Graphic Mundi: 4
Graphix: 1
HarperCollins: 2
Holiday House: 1
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: 1
Humanoids: 7
IDW: 6
Image: 42
Insight Comics: 1
Invader Comics: 1
Little, Brown and Company: 1
Marvel: 30
NBM: 1
NoBrow Press: 1
One Piece Books: 1
Outland Entertainment: 1
Papercutz: 2
PS Artbooks: 4
Rebellion/2000AD: 4
Red 5 Comics: 1
Scout Comics: 6
Second Sight Publishing: 1
SelfMadeHero: 1
Silver Sprocket: 1
SitComics: 2
Soaring Penguin Press: 1
Source Point Press: 2
Titan Comics: 5
Top Shelf: 1
Udon Entertainment: 1
Vault Comics: 3
Viz Media: 2
A Wave Blue World: 1
Z2 Comics: 1

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The NFL released its schedules, which, because football rules all in the States, is a bigger media event than foreigners might expect … or maybe not, given how ridiculous most foreigners think Americans are (not incorrectly, I might add). Anyway, the schedule releases were done, and perhaps none done is as interesting a way as the Los Angeles Chargers, who did … this:

If you don’t get the joke when they play the Cleveland Browns, check out who the Browns got as their quarterback this year and it might make more sense. This video is actually pretty danged inspired, I must say so myself.

In case you missed it, the Circle K where strange things were afoot in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure closed, and frankly, I was impressed it was still open 30 years later. It was in Tempe, not too far from where I live, and the night before it closed, there was a screening of the movie in the parking lot. That’s pretty cool, if you ask me.

This is certainly something:

If you must read more because you think the guy is right, here’s his Twitter feed. It’s … something, all right.

Greatest headline and news story ever? It has to be in the conversation!

Moving on, we’re into June, and school is out, which means my younger daughter isn’t stressed by school anymore, although it also means she’s doing even less with her time. She vexes me – I get that she has mental health issues, but it’s still vexing, because she doesn’t seem to want to get better, even if she could. I know she’s only 16 and teenagers are assholes, but I just worry about her. Oh well – we’ll figure it out. You don’t need me whining about how hard it is being a parent!

In May 1992, I was still in Australia, and still having a grand old time. I turned 21 in Melbourne, and had a nice evening celebrating. The first picture is of me and my friends at Pizza Hut, before we went out drinking. The second photo is one of two of my favorite photos of me, as it’s just so “me.” We were having a party at our college, and the theme was boxer shorts, and I was quite drunk (it was a weird evening, let me tell you), and I was talking to that young lady, and I was just so intent on making sure she understood what I was trying to say to her!!!! I’m very glad someone took a picture and I’m very glad I got a copy. Good times all around!

As always, I hope everyone is doing well. A high school acquaintance of mine died this month after an accident in her home caused massive brain damage, and that sucks. It’s not the first time I’ve been reminded that you should cherish every day that you’re alive, so I hope you guys are doing that! Remember that if you use the link below, even if it’s not to buy the book, we get a tiny part of that to help keep the lights on here. And we still have our “tip jar” at the top of the page on the right (unless you’re on a phone, in which case I don’t know where it is), in case you want to make a donation. No pressure! Have a wonderful day!

12 Comments

  1. Eric van Schaik

    Just the new Parker Last Call Martini Edition for me.
    I ordered Search for Hu but due to our home improvement (which is almost over, tomorrow they will install out new kitchen) I haven’t been able to visit nu LCS.
    Karmen and My bad look interesting, and hopefully it’s possible to get them.

    Glad your kid survived another year of school. My kids are a lot like your daughter and chilling is what they do best 😉

    Sad to read about the 27th school shooting this year and those gun loving assholes (including Trump) with their mantra Guns don’t kill people.
    I’m so glad it’s very difficult to get one in Holland.

    1. Trump’s the worst kind. He’d never shoot someone himself but he’ll get a vicarious thrill out of supporting someone who does, like the three men he pardoned for their actions in Afghanistan. In his narcissistic mind that makes him as awesome as the guys who pulled the trigger.

  2. mike loughlin

    Hey Greg,

    My daughter (15 yo) is also experiencing mental health problems, to the degree that her mother doesn’t think she can be kept safe anymore. She talks a good game about wanting to do better, but the second she has to do something she doesn’t want to or not do something she wants to but shouldn’t, she inevitably makes the wrong decision. It sucks. I hope your daughter finds the motivation to manage her issues and moves forward.

    Also, I wish someone would realize that some artists’ work looks way better with more traditional coloring because I do not like how that Texiera panel looks at all, and he’s a long-time favorite of mine.

    1. Greg Burgas

      Mike: I’m sorry to hear about that. We haven’t quite reached that stage with our daughter, although there have been some dicey situations where we’ve worried about it. She’s doing a bit better recently, but we know she’s always on a razor’s edge, and it’s frustrating. I hope your daughter improves, too.

      Texeira’s been doing softer lines for some time now, and I have to disagree with you, because I think it’s quite good. I do like that harder inked line with more traditional colors, but because he’s eased up on that, I think his work looks good with digital coloring. But I do get your point!

  3. conrad1970

    Man I can’t believe it’s almost football season again, seems like I just watched the last Super Bowl. And yes I’m still fuming that the Bengals lost.
    Really looking forward to the new season as it’s the only sport I follow apart from Tennis, unfortunately this years Roland Garros was a absolute shit show.

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