Comics in Conversation with Comics: Dial H for Hero Volume 2

This is the next in our Comics in Conversation with Comics series of posts, in which we explore comics and graphic novels that highlight, challenge, and celebrate the works that came before them, or say something about comics as an art form overall.

In this post we’ll be taking a look at the recent DC Comics series Dial H for Hero, by writer Sam Humphries and artist Joe Quinones.

Dial H for Hero is one of DC Comics’ more obscure series, but it’s a title that has a strong following among comic writers for its seemingly infinite potential. First appearing in House of Mystery #156 in January 1966, the premise centres around the H-Dial, a mysterious rotary phone (ask your parents) that, when H-E-R-O is dialled on it, can transform the caller into a random superhero. 

The 2019 Dial H for Hero series finds the Dial in the hands of two teen runaways, Miguel Montez and Summer Pickens, and this time the dial not only changes them into different comic heroes, but different art styles. These moments are the main draw of the series, referencing famous comics outside of the DC universe such as Dragon Ball, Krazy Kat, Peanuts, Tank Girl, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and paying homage to such celebrated artists like Dan Clowes, Mike Allred, Alex Toth, Rob Liefeld, Moebius and more over the course of the series’ twelve issues.

We’ve listed some of the best comic homages from the second volume, with links to the relevant comics that inspired them if you want to check them out from our collection. You can also jump away now and reserve both volumes of Dial H for Hero if you don’t want to be spoiled on the story.

Continue reading “Comics in Conversation with Comics: Dial H for Hero Volume 2”

It Came From The Archive! A selection of Horror Comic Anthologies for Halloween

Tales from the Crypt. The Vault of Horror. The Haunt of Fear.

In the 40s and 50s, these EC Comics horror anthologies  were the most popular comics titles available, famed for their subversive and bizarre stories and going on to inspire the likes of Stephen King and George Romero. Unfortunately, due to the mid-50s censorship bulwark of the Comics Code Authority, which wouldn’t even allow comic books to have the word horror in their title, let alone depictions of ghouls and vampires, EC and its peers went under. And so, titles like Crypt and Vault were, poetically, buried with them. While superheroes and sci-fi books have dominated the market since then, current comic companies will occasionally dip their toes into bringing back the horror anthology format, or have a one-off annual for the spooky season in the vein of the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror.

Thankfully, the classic EC stories have been saved and recollected in special archive editions, which are now available from our off-site at Te Pataka and our branches. You can also check out other horror anthologies that EC Comics inspired, such as DC’s Flinch and DC Halloween, Marvel’s classic Legion of Monsters stories from the 70s, and Dark Horse’s revival of the Eerie Comics title. Just goes to show that you can’t keep a good idea buried for long!


The EC archives : Shock SuspenStories. Volume 1, issues 1-6
“Featuring the titanic artistic talents of Al Feldstein, Jack Kamen, Jack Davis, Joe Orlando, Graham Ingles and Wally Wood – with a foreword by Hollywood legend Steven Spielberg! This beautifully bound hardcover reprints the first six complete issues of the pulp-comic classic Shock SuspenStories. Featuring the titanic artistic talents of Al Feldstein, Jack Kamen, Jack Davis, Joe Orlando, Graham Ingles, and Wally Wood, with a foreword by Steven Spielberg. Includes all the original ads, text pieces, and letters” (Catalogue)

The vault of horror. Volume 1, issues 1-6 / Feldstein, Albert B
“Legendary publisher Bill Gaines provided the forum and creators like Al Feldstein, Johnny Craig, Wally Wood, Harry Harrison, Jack Kamen, Harvey Kurtzman, Graham Ingels, and Jack Davis provided the mayhem.” (Catalogue)

‘Tain’t the meat… it’s the humanity! : and other stories / Davis, Jack
“Presenting the classic EC material in reader-friendly, artist-and-genre-centric packages for the first time, ‘Taint the Meat collects every one of Davis’s 24 Crypt stories in one convenient, gore-drenched package. Mostly written by EC editor Al Feldstein, these stories run the gamut from pure supernatural horror (the werewolf story “Upon Reflection” and the vampire story “Fare Tonight, Followed by Increasing Clottyness…”) to science gone horribly wrong (“Bats in My Belfry “), as well as the classic “disbeliever gets his comeuppance” story (“Grounds… For Horror “) to EC’s bread and butter, the ridiculously grisly revenge-of-the-abused tale (“The Trophy ” and “Well-Cooked Hams “)…”.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The living mummy and other stories / Feldstein, Albert B
“This book collects more than 30 EC horror stories from Mad magazine cartoonist Jack Davis. When Jack Davis took up his pen for EC Comics, he made his innocent victims more eye-poppingly terrified, his ax-murderers more gleefully gruesome, and his vampires and werewolves more bloodthirsty and feral than any other artist. ” (Adapted from catalogue)

Tales from the crypt. Volume 5, issues 41-46
“Dark Horse Comics is proud to bring you more creepily classic Tales from the Crypt Digitally re-colored using Marie Severin’s original colors as a guide, this twisted tome features stories drawn by the unforgettable artistic talents of Jack Davis, George Evans, Jack Kamen, Graham Ingels, Reed Crandall, Bernie Krigstein, Bill Elder, and Joe Orlando” (Catalogue)

Eerie comics 2012-2015.
“Uncle Creepy’s been hogging all the glory in Dark Horse’s revival of Warren’s classic magazines, but here comes Cousin Eerie to nudge him out of the spotlight The terrifying treasury of sinister sci-fi and fearsome fantasy is finally collected in this handsome paperback volume, amassing the inimitable talents of David Lapham, Mike Allred, Jonathan Case, Kelley Jones, and many more. Collecting all new material from the Eerie Comics #1-#8″ (Catalogue)

Flinch. Book one / Azzarello, Brian
“The legendary Vertigo horror anthology that will get under your skin–one slice at a time. It’s the little things in life that matter most: the tiny leak in the fuel line; the faint smell of decay that won’t wash off; the way a knife blade catches the light. These are the things that stick with us, no matter how much we want to forget–the things that make us flinch. No one is more familiar with this unnerving territory than the twisted souls whose hallucinatory work is preserved between these covers–an unprecedented gathering of fever dreams and waking nightmares scraped directly from the darkest corners of the greatest minds in comics.” (Adapted from catalogue)

A very DC Halloween
“All of your favorite DC characters get spooky in this first-ever DC Halloween collection. HEROES MEET HORROR The DC Universe is home to some of the greatest crime-fighters in existence. Your favorite superheroes are usually busy keeping the universe safe, but when Halloween winds blow through the DCU, these heroes are transformed into nightmares. A Very DC Halloween collects 18 eerie tales from DC House of Horror #1 and Cursed Comics Cavalcade #1.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Decades : Marvel in the ’70s : Legion of Monsters
“Celebrate 80 years of Marvel Comics, decade by decade – together with the groovy ghoulies of the Supernatural Seventies. It was an era of black-and-white magazines filled with macabre monsters, and unsettling new titles starring horror-themed “heroes”. Now, thrill to Marvel’s greatest horror icons: The melancholy muck-monster known as the Man-Thing – whosoever knows fear burns at his touch. Morbius, the Living Vampire. Jack Russell, cursed to be a Werewolf-by-Night. And the flame-skulled spirit of vengeance, the Ghost Rider. But what happens when they are forced together to become…the Legion of Monsters? Plus stories starring Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, Manphibian, the vampire-hunter Blade…and never-before-reprinted tales of terror.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Comics in Conversation with Comics: Dial H for Hero Volume One

This is Comics in Conversation with Comics, a blog about comics and graphic novels that highlight, challenge, and celebrate the works that came before them, or say something about comics as an art form overall. This first post looks at the recent DC Comics series Dial H for Hero, by writer Sam Humphries and artist Joe Quinones.

Dial H for Hero is one of DC Comics’ more obscure series, but it’s a title that has a strong following among comic writers for its seemingly infinite potential. First appearing in House of Mystery #156 in January 1966, the premise centers around the H-Dial, a mysterious rotary phone (ask your parents) that, when H-E-R-O is dialed on it, can transform the caller into a random superhero. The 2019 Dial H for Hero series finds the Dial in the hands of two teen runaways, Miguel Montez and Summer Pickens, and this time the dial not only changes them into different comic heroes, but different art styles. These moments are the main draw of the series, referencing famous comics outside of the DC universe such as Dragon Ball, Krazy Kat, Peanuts, Tank Girl, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and paying homage to such celebrated artists like Dan Clowes, Mike Allred, Alex Toth, Rob Liefeld, Moebius and more over the course of the series’ twelve issues.

We’ve listed some of the best comic homages from the first volume, with links to the relevant comics that inspired them if you want to check them out from our collection. You can also reserve volumes one and two of Dial H for Hero here and here if you don’t want to be spoiled on the story.

Manga on Manga

In issue 2 of Dial H for Hero, Miguel and an rival fight for the dial in the forms of Jobu, the Zonkey King and Iron Deadhead. These two heroes are references to two mangas, Akira Toriyama’s Goku from Dragon Ball and the cyborg protagonists of Masamune Shirow’s mangas like Ghost in the Shell, respectively. As the two heroes clash, so do the art styles, with Jobu’s simple colours and comedic tone contrasting with Iron Deadhead’s more serious, cyberpunk look drawn in black and white.

Dragonball. 3-in-1 edition. 1 / Toriyama, Akira

Ghost in the shell / Shirow, Masamune

 

 

 

Getting Vertigo

Vertigo (and its 2010s successor, Young Animal) was DC Comic’s imprint (a minor publishing line) for mature comics that gave their writers more creative freedom to reinterpret classic characters, including The Sandman, Doom Patrol, and Shade the Changing Man. While Vertigo is acclaimed for elevating comics into the realm of serious literature, these titles are also known to dip into ‘purple prose’ and extremely post-modern styles of narrative, which could alienate a more casual reader. This aspect gets a send-up in chapter 3 of Dial H for Hero in the form of the Bluebird of Happiness, a manic-pixie psychedelic superwoman resembling The Sandman‘s Delirium who warps the comic’s page structure around her.

The Sandman : endless nights / Gaiman, Neil

Shade, the changing girl. Vol. 1, Earth girl made easy / Castellucci, Cecil

 

 

Moebius Strip

To fight a bunch of out-of-control Justice League robots in issue 4, museum curator Snapper Carr transforms into Alien Ice Cream Man, a costumed space adventurer poking fun at the way French comic artist Moebius would draw his space-travelling characters with big pointy hats. Miguel, meanwhile, becomes Lil’ Miguelito, a fusion of various newspaper comic strip characters including Charlie Brown, Hagar the Horrible, and Nancy.

Inside Moebius. Part 1 / Moebius

Nancy likes Christmas / Bushmiller, Ernie

 

 

 

Fight like a (Tank) Girl

Main character Summer Picken’s go-to hero transformation is Lo-Lo Kick You, a live-wire ‘riot grrrl’ hero inspired by the art of Tank Girl creator (and Gorillaz artist) Jamie Hewlett and the pop art style of Mike Allred’s Madman. Summer’s adherence to only turning into one character throughout the series (whereas the dial normally changes you in random heroes) indicates her strong sense of self-identity. It’s befitting, then, that her transformation pays homage to two of the most visually distinct and idiosyncratic artists of the 1990s.

Tank Girl : the odyssey / Milligan, Peter

Madman. Volume 1 / Allred, Mike

 

 

 

Comic-ception

Issue 6 has a double-page spread that looks like a comic overlayed on top of another comic, allowing two narratives to play out simultaneously across the same page space. The ‘outer’ comic is a shot-for-shot remake of the storyboards for the Batman: The Animated Series opening by Bruce Timm, while the overlayed ‘inner’ comic detailing Miguel’s crisis is done in the style of black-and-white indie comics like Love and Rockets by the Hernandez brothers.

Heartbreak soup : a Love and rockets book / Hernandez, Gilbert

The Batman adventures : mad love / Dini, Paul

 

 

Hero Complex

In issue 6, the villain Mr. Thunderbolt gives everyone in the city of Metropolis a superhero identity and powers, with every individual character having their own art style riffing on another comic artist. Some of the allusions I was able to spot were: a character based on artist Frank Quitely’s ‘hyper-real’ art style, a few referencing early 60s Marvel comics by artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, and characters based on the recent designs of Squirrel Girl by Erica Henderson and Silk by Stacey Lee.

L to R: All-Star Superman   Spider-Man meets the Marvel universe  The unbeatable Squirrel Girl  Silk

 

 

 

 

 

And that covers volume one! Stay tuned for Part Two, where we cover the homages in Dial H for Hero Volume Two.

The Four-Colour Final Frontier: Comics for World Space Week

Ever since 1929, when Buck Rogers left the written pulp magazines for the four-colour newspaper comic strip, comics have provided the perfect canvas for stories about space travel and other planets.

While the terror of little green men and mysterious alien jungles of the 50s and 60s eventually fell away due to Sputnik, Voyager, and the Mars rovers, writers and artists found new storytelling opportunities in the vastness of space in the modern day, whether they be conscious genre throwbacks like Mark Millar and Goran Parlov’s Flash Gordon pastiche Starlight, first contact political thrillers like Letter 44, or melancholic examinations of living on other worlds like Tom Gauld’s Mooncop.

And while Space Week may only last seven days, it’s always a good time to revisit the classic Tintin duology, Destination Moon and Explorers on the Moon as well!


Destination moon / Hergé
“Destination Moon (1953) gives a detailed account on the preparation and the launching of the expedition to the Moon for which Professor Calculus has chosen Syladavian soil. Tintin and Captain Haddock are amazed to find that Professor Calculus is planning a top-secret project from the Sprodj Atomic Research Centre in Syldavia. And before our intrepid hero knows it, the next stop on this adventure is …Space.” (Catalogue)

Saga. Compendium one / Vaughan, Brian K
“Containing the first nine volumes of the acclaimed, New York Times-bestselling series, this compendium tells the entire story of a girl named Hazel and her star-crossed parents. Features gorgeous full-color artwork, including a new cover from Eisner-winning co-creator Staples. Collects #1-54.” (Catalogue)

Starlight : the return of Duke McQueen / Millar, Mark
“Forty years ago, Duke McQueen saved an alien world from destruction. Back on earth, nobody believed his story. Now his kids are grown, his wife has passed on, and life has little to offer. Until the day a strange boy from the world he once saved makes an appearance, coaxing Duke to join him on one last adventure. Can Duke handle the leap from has-been to hero? Collects Starlight #1-6.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Letter 44. Volume I, Escape velocity / Soule, Charles
“On Inauguration Day, newly elected President Stephen Blades hoped to tackle the most critical issues facing the nation: war, the economy, and a failing health care system. But in a letter penned by the outgoing President, Blades learns the truth that redefines “critical”: seven years ago, NASA discovered alien presence in the asteroid belt, and kept it a secret from the world. A stealth mission crewed by nine astronauts was sent to make contact, and they’re getting close-assuming they survive the long journey to reach their destination. Today, President-elect Blades has become the most powerful man on the planet. This planet.” (Catalogue)

Mooncop / Gauld, Tom
Living on the moon . . . Whatever were we thinking? . . . It seems so silly now.” The lunar colony is slowly winding down, like a small town circumvented by a new super highway. As our hero, the Mooncop, makes his daily rounds, his beat grows ever smaller, the population dwindles. A young girl runs away, a dog breaks off his leash, an automaton wanders off from the Museum of the Moon. Mooncop is equal parts funny and melancholy. capturing essential truths about humanity and making this a story of the past, present, and future, all in one.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The Manhattan Projects. 1 / Hickman, Jonathan
“What if the research and development department created to produce the first atomic bomb was a front for a series of other, more unusual, programs?” (Catalogue)

Image Comics: The Best of a Decade of Creator-Owned Books

Unique among publishers for allowing writers and artists to keep the rights to their work, Image Comics has been a haven for teams of comic writers and artists to do their boldest, strangest and most experimental comics, working in genres outside of the usual superhero fare like horror, crime, western, urban fantasy, and science-fiction.

The works recommended below have met commercial and critical acclaim; the biggest hits for the company being the massive multimedia hit The Walking Dead and the populist sci-fi epic Saga, while others are beloved by their own dedicated fandoms, like The Wicked + The Divine. A number of long-running Image Comics series wrapped up in 2019, and with the opening of Te Awe and our off-site collections, it’s never been a better time to catch up on some of the best comics of the past ten years.

The Walking Dead
The walking dead : compendium one / Kirkman, Robert
Though it began in 2003, the post-apocalyptic zombie comic by writer Robert Kirkman and artists Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard continued to be a hit all through the last decade, and was one of Image Comics longest running series, eventually spawning a hit television series in 2010. The comic unexpectedly wrapped up at issue #193 in July 2019, a rare shock in the modern comic industry where each issue is planned and advertised months in advance. Pick up the compendium collecting the first 48 issues at the link above or grab the first volume here.

If you liked The Walking Dead, check out this: Invincible, Robert Kirkman’s other long-spanning superhero series for Image, also wrapped up in 2018. You begin the whole series with the first Ultimate Collection here.

Saga
Saga. Compendium one / Vaughan, Brian K
Frequently cited as the comic book that got people into comics, Saga follows Alana and Marko, two soldiers on the opposing sides of a space war who decide to marry and raise a child together. They hop from planet to planet, trying to find a spot of peace while dodging bounty hunters, sentient planets, and their own in-laws. Written by Brian K Vaughan and drawn by Fiona Staples, Saga went on a hiatus in 2018 after hitting the midpoint of its story in issue #54, so now is the perfect time to catch up. Pick up the compendium with the whole series to date at the link above, or grab the first volume here.

If you liked Saga, check out this: Image Comics has become a haven for science fiction comics in the 2010s, including the Hugo-nominated Bitch Planet, Invisible Kingdom by the creator of Ms Marvel, gender-flipped mythological space epic ODY-C, the watercolour-painted robot adventure Descender, and the dimension-hopping Black Science, to name a few.

Other Image books by Brian K. Vaughan include the Hugo-nominated Paper Girls with Cliff Chiang and Matt Wilson, about a quartet of paper girls from the 1980s who travel through time, and We Stand on Guard with Steve Scroce and Matt Hollingsworth, which depicts a war in the future between Canada and the USA.

The Wicked + The Divine
The wicked + the divine. Vol. 1, The Faust act / Gillen, Kieron
Every 90 years, twelve gods return to Earth to inspire humankind and gain followers, only to die after two years. In 2014, this ‘Pantheon’ of gods return as popstars. The Wicked + The Divine (or WicDiv to its fans) follows Pantheon super-fan Laura as she becomes embroiled in the god’s inner conflicts and tries to attain godhood for herself. Coming to a close with issue #45 in September 2019, The Wicked + The Divine has been praised for its nuanced portrayals of LGBTQ+ characters and its themes on fame, death, history, religion, and the purpose of artists.

If you liked WicDiv, check out this: Gillen and McKelvie’s foray at Image Comics begins with Phonogram, set in a world where ‘music is magic’ that explores similar themes to The Wicked + The Divine. You can read the complete collection here.

Gillen has recently started a new series, DIE, with artist Stephanie Hans, about a group of adult tabletop RPG fans being forced to return to the game they were trapped in as teenagers, Jumanji-style. Reserve the first volume here.

East of West
East of West [1] / Hickman, Jonathan
Written by Johnathan Hickman and drawn by Nick Dragotta and Frank Martin, East of West is an alternate history that marries the political intrigue of Game of Thrones with the “slap leather” cowboy action of the Dollars trilogy, set in a futuristic United States of America. In this world, there are only seven states existing in an uneasy peace. Unbeknownst to their citizens, the leaders from each state secretly meet in neutral territory to try and bring about the end of the world. Meanwhile, three horsemen of the Apocalypse roam the land, seeking the son of their missing horseman, Death.

If you liked East of West, check out this: For another Hickman-penned alternate history, there’s the The Manhattan Projects, which reimagines the real scientists who helped build the atomic bomb as amoral dimension-travelling jerks in the vein of Rick Sanchez. Start with the first volume here.

Fatale
Fatale. Book one, Death chases me / Brubaker, Ed
Writer and artist team Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips have been doing crime comics together for years, transferring dime store pulp stories to the world of comics, while also updating, humanising and deconstructing the character archetypes and tropes for a modern genre-savvy audience. After the success of their Icon Comics series Criminal, Brubaker and Phillips began their first Image Comics series Fatale in 2012, featuring a supernatural take on the ‘femme fatale’ archetype. Lasting 24 issues, the series was collected in five volumes, the first of which you can read at the link above.

If you liked Fatale, check out this: Criminal is the series that really put Brubaker and Phillips on the map; each volume is a self-contained crime story from the perspective of different characters within one city, making it incredibly accessible. My particular favourite is Last of the Innocent, which puts the classic Archie Comics characters into a lurid murder mystery, six years before Riverdale did it on television.

Chew
Chew : the omnivore edition. Vol. I / Layman, John
In a world where the FDA is granted greater judicial powers following a deadly bird flu, detective Tony Chu is brought in to crack down on illegal chicken dealers. Fortunately, he has one advantage that his fellow investigators lack; he’s a cibopath, a kind of food psychic who can gain mental impressions from anything that he eats. Written by John Layman and drawn with cartoony panache by Rob Guillory, you can take a big bite out of Chew with the first ‘Omnivore Edition’ (collecting the first ten issues) at the link above.

If you liked Chew, check out this: Chew’s artist Rob Guillory recently started a new comedy-horror series called Farmhand, which follows a family who grows replacement human body parts on their farm.

We also have the first two volumes of writer John Layman’s newest haunted space adventure series Outer Darkness with artist Afu Chan.

The 2020 Hugo nominees for Best Graphic Story

Since 2009, the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story has been given to comics, graphic novels and other illustrated works that best exemplify the possibilities of speculative fiction and the comics medium, and we have all six of the 2020 nominees available for you to catch up with!

The nominations are a stacked field this year. The final volumes of two beloved long-running Image Comics series, The Wicked + The Divine and Paper Girls, were nominated this year, the last chance for either creative team to get the award (Paper Girls having been nominated a previous four times!). Three-time Best Graphic Story Hugo winner Monstress has also been nominated for its fourth volume. But those three veteran series face some strong contenders in new books like the fantasy deconstruction DIE, witchy love story Mooncakes, and the sci-fi immigration tale LaGuardia by previous Hugo winner Nnedi Okorafor.

Who will win the Hugo? We won’t know until the award ceremony on August 1st, but till then, you can catch up on the nominated books below!

Die, Volume 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker, by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans, letters by Clayton Cowles (Image)

Die. Volume 1, Fantasy heartbreaker / Gillen, Kieron
Pitched as “Jumanji meets Stephen King’s IT”, DIE follows five embittered adults returning the fantasy world they were trapped in as teenagers to rescue their friend who stayed there, only to find he’s gone native and is subjecting them to a deadly adventure campaign. Gillen, a former game journalist, wrote DIE to both critique and celebrate tabletop games and the fantasy genre overall, while Stephanie Hans renders the imaginary worlds of DIE with lush, dream-like detail. This is Hans’ first Hugo nomination, and Gillen is also nominated against himself this year for The Wicked + The Divine. Will DIE roll a nat 20 for the critical win?

Related Reading

DIE Volume 2. Split The Party — If you’re hooked on DIE after the first volume, check out the second volume ‘Split the Party’.

The Wicked + The Divine Volume 3. Commercial Suicide —  Stephanie Hans has also worked with Kieron Gillen on a issue of his series The Wicked + The Divine, collected in this volume.

The Adventure Zone Volume 1. Here there be gerblins — If you’re after more comics about Dungeons and Dragons, check out the first comic adaptation of the beloved roleplaying podcast ‘The Adventure Zone’.

LaGuardia, written by Nnedi Okorafor, art by Tana Ford, colours by James Devlin (Berger Books; Dark Horse)

LaGuardia : a very modern story of immigration / Okorafor, Nnedi
In a world where extraterrestrials regularly emigrate to Earth, a controversial travel ban goes into effect in America and separates a Nigerian-American couple who are expecting their first child. LaGuardia is a refreshingly sensitive science-fiction take on immigration and citizenship; Nnedi Okorafor has thought out every aspect of this all-too-familar sci-fi Earth, and Ford and Devlin depict the world and characters in lovingly dense detail, particularly with the alien designs. This is Ford and Devlin’s first nomination, while Okorafor has already won a Hugo for her novella Binti. Can LaGuardia net Okorafor her second Hugo win?

Related Reading

Black Panther: Long Live the King — Okorafor and Ford also worked together on this Black Panther series for Marvel Comics.

Binti — Check out Okorafor’s Hugo-winning series Binti here or on Overdrive.

The Green Lantern Vol 1. Intergalactic Lawman — This sharp new take on the Green Lantern character sees him as an intergalactic beat cop, where even ordinary crimes happen on intergalactic scales.

Monstress, Volume 4: The Chosen, written by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda (Image)

Monstress. Volume four, The chosen / Liu, Marjorie M
A fusion of a war diary, a horror manga, and young adult fantasy, Monstress has been a critical and fan-favourite since it began in 2016. Set in a war-torn land inspired by 20th century Asia, Monstress follows the adventures of Maika Halfwolf, a magical ‘Arcanic’ who is hunted by an order of sorceresses who use her species as magical fuel for their spells. Every volume of Monstress has won the Hugo for Best Graphic Story for the past three years running. Will Volume 4 continue Liu and Takeda’s winning streak?

Related Reading

Monstress Volume 1. Awakening — Start reading Monstress from the beginning with the first volume here, or for download it on Overdrive.

The iron hunt — The first book in Marjorie Liu’s urban fantasy series Hunter Kiss, which follows a demon hunter trying to rescue her beloved from a bloodthirsty army.

Calamity Kate — In an urban fantasy world, a monster hunter moves to LA to find the ultimate bounty: the Seven Fabled Beasts of Yore.

Mooncakes, by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker, letters by Joamette Gil (Oni Press; Lion Forge)

Mooncakes / Walker, Suzanne
Young witch Nova and her werewolf friend Tam have reunited after ten years apart, but their reunion brings forth struggles both mundane and magical, including family conflicts, maturing to face new responsibilities, and battling weird horse demons. Originally a webcomic, Mooncakes was published as a a graphic novel by Lion Forge in 2019, earning praise for centering on the romance of its queer Chinese-American protagonists. This is Walker, Gil and Xu’s first Hugo nomination; could Mooncakes cast a spell on the Hugo judges?

Related Reading

For more young adult comics about witches, check out:

The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag

SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki

Spell on Wheels by Kate Leth and Megan Levens.

Paper Girls, Volume 6, written by Brian K. Vaughan, drawn by Cliff Chiang, colours by Matt Wilson, letters by Jared K. Fletcher (Image)

Paper Girls. 6 / Vaughan, Brian K
Four paper girls in the 1980s get embroiled in a war between rival factions of time travellers, facing cavemen, mutants, pterodactyls, robots, and their own future selves as they attempts to find a way home. Recently concluding after 30 issues and this sixth collection, Paper Girls has been nominated four times for the Graphic Story Hugo. Will the last volume finally deliver a win for its creative team?

 

Related Reading

Paper Girls Volume 1  — Start Paper Girls from the beginning here or for download on Overdrive

Wonder Woman Volume 1: Blood — Check out the Paper Girls art team’s (Cliff Chiang and Matt Wilson) recent work on Wonder Woman here, or download it on Overdrive.

Saga Volume 1 — Writer Brian K Vaughan won the Best Graphic Story Hugo for Saga‘s first volume in 2013.

The Wicked + The Divine, Volume 9: “Okay”, by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, colours by Matt Wilson, letters by Clayton Cowles (Image)

The wicked + the divine. Vol. 9, “Okay” / Gillen, Kieron
Every 90 years, twelve gods return to Earth in the form of teenagers to inspire humankind and gain followers, only to die after two years. In 2014, this ‘Pantheon’ of gods return as popstars. The Wicked + The Divine (or WicDiv to its fans) follows Pantheon super-fan Laura as she becomes embroiled in the god’s inner conflicts and tries to attain godhood for herself. Long-time comic collaborators Gillen, McKelvie, Wilson, and Cowles conclude the long-running series in this final volume, which has been a commercial and critical hit for its resonant themes on fame, death, religion, art, and artists. Volume 9 of the Wicked + The Divine is Jamie McKelvie’s first Hugo nomination and Gillen’s second with DIE, also nominated this year. Will this final offering be enough to sway the Hugos in their favour?

Related Reading

The Wicked + The Divine Volume 1. The Faust Act Start WicDiv from the beginning here or for download the first volume on Overdrive.

Young Avengers Volume 1. Style > substance  See how the WicDiv team first got together on the second iteration of Marvel’s teen superteam, the Young Avengers.

God complex: Dogma. Volume one — Another modern comic book take on the gods of antiquity, this cyberpunk thriller sees a forensic investigator meeting the god-like beings that secretly run the world.

#StayAtHome Film Festival: Gus’ Picks for Weird & Thrilling Films

One of my favourite things to do on my Friday shift at the library is to pick through the DVDs before closing time and grab a film I’ve been meaning to see but have never had the time to check out before. While I can’t stroll through the aisles of Arapaki for the time being, exploring Kanopy and Beamafilm has been scratching that itch for me.

As someone who’s always learning more about the history of film-making and storytelling, I tend to gravitate toward strange, high-concept films and subjects; legacy directors who gained and spent multiple ‘blank checks’ over their careers to make their passion projects, festival films with off-kilter premises that become critical darlings, and weird thrillers that expand what kind of stories you can tell on a budget. These recommendations might not be what you would call ‘comfort viewing’, but I hope they can expand your film-viewing horizons as they have mine. Enjoy!


Swiss Army Man

Year: 2016
Length: 98 mins
Directors: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert

Watch the full film here!

A critical darling at Sundance the year of its release, Swiss Army Man follows Hank (Paul Dano) as a man trying to get back to civilization with the aid of a talking, farting corpse named Manny (Daniel Radcliffe). It’s every bit as weird as it sounds, but Dano and Radcliffe’s performances buoy the film as the friendship blossoms between the two men and they help one another discover how to be human again, although it applies to one of them a bit more literally. The physical comedy is also a treat to watch, as Radcliffe forgoes the use of a dummy to do all of the corpse’s stiff, action-figure-like stunts himself. It’s a charming, bizarre, and surprisingly moving movie about how to come back from a period of self-isolation, make lasting connections with people, and rediscover how to live in the world again.

Discover more:

PressReader and RBdigital: If watching Hank and Manny’s trek through the California pines has you missing the joys of trekking the wilderness, both PressReader and RBdigital provide online access to hundreds of magazines including many on mountaineering, tramping, and more.

Overdrive: You’ll never have a better excuse to reread the series that gave Daniel Radcliffe his first big acting break; that’s why Overdrive has made the first Harry Potter book available for free in both ebook and audiobook form in multiple languages.


Enemy

Year: 2013
Length: 91 mins
Director: Denis Villeneuve

Watch the full film here!

Director Denis Villeneuve is more associated with his recent expansive science-fiction films such as Arrival, Blade Runner 2049 and the upcoming Dune adaptation, but there was a time where he worked on smaller thrillers, including the critically-beloved but little-seen film Enemy. Based off the novel The Double by José Saramago, Jake Gyllenhaal plays Adam Bell, a history professor who discovers an actor in a local film that appears to be his exact double. His actor doppelganger soon discovers Adam as well, as do each of the men’s wives. As their lives begin to intertwine, each one threatens to undo the existence of the other until the film crescendos into one of the freakiest endings to a movie I’ve ever seen.

Discover More:

Kanopy: Can’t get enough of Gyllenhaal? Kanopy also has his early hit Donnie Darko in both the theatrical and director’s cut.

Overdrive: Want to see what inspired Enemy? You can check out the works of Nobel Prize-winning Portuguese writer José Saramago on Overdrive.


Shin Godzilla (Shin Gojira)

Year: 2016
Length: 120 mins
Director: Hideaki Anno

Watch the full film here!

Taking a break from the reboot of his groundbreaking giant robot series Neon Genesis Evangelion, director Hideaki Anno revitalizes the Godzilla brand with Shin Godzilla, taking a more esoteric, body-horror approach to the classic kaiju (‘strange beast’). A huge hit in Japan and winner of seven Japanese Academy Prize awards, many Godzilla fans hold this as one of the best of the series. If you need to convince your housemates who aren’t as versed in genre films to check this out, the interesting twist to this iteration is that the human focus is on the government officials trying to react in real-time to Godzilla’s sudden appearance, rather than the military or a lone hero. What better film to watch now than one about a bureaucracy responding to a sudden evolving threat and using clever infrastructure solutions to mitigate harm and protect their citizens? These days, that’s a story I can get behind.

Discover More:

Kanopy: Kanopy has a range of cinema from Japan, including “ramen western” Tampopo, Studio Ghibli co-production The Red Turtle, and Tokyo Story (Tokyo monogotari), widely considered to be one of the best films ever made.

Beamafilm: Beamafilm offerings of Japanese cinema include Studio Ghibli documentary The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness and the art documentary Kusama: Infinity, which chronicles the work of Yayoi Kusama.


Good Time

Year: 2017
Length: 102 mins
Directors: Benny and Josh Safdie

Watch the full film here!

If you’ve seen and loved the Safdie brothers’ newest film Uncut Gems, it’s well worth your time to check out Good Time, their previous film from 2017. Robert Pattinson plays Constantine, a small-time crook who has to break his brother out of prison while avoiding the police and struggling to pay off a bail bondsman after a bank heist gone wrong. Flat-out from minute one, Constantine races the underbelly of New York City, churning through one unsuspecting ally after another in his desperate quest to reunite with the only family he has left. Robert Pattinson brings a raw and pitiable emotional depth to Constantine, and the Safdie brothers’ trademark use of first-time actors gives their version of New York a rough and lived-in feel.

Discover More:

Kanopy: Eager for more crime thrillers? Kanopy has you covered. Check out one of the genre’s classics, Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder, or Joaquin Phoenix’s recent hit You Were Never Really Here.


Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World

Year: 2016
Length: 99 mins
Director: Werner Herzog

Watch the full film here!

Werner Herzog is a director I’ve always wanted to check out but was only familiar with from terrible impersonations and his surprisingly frequent cameos in primetime cartoons. Lo and Behold is a great contemporary introduction to one of cinema’s most celebrated directorial voices (and what a voice!), following Herzog’s attempt to examine the history of the Internet, from its humble origins in American university campuses to its future potential for self-awareness. Herzog tracks down original Internet Protocol engineer Robert Kahn, hacker Kevin Mitnick, and a community of people in rehab for ‘internet addiction’, among others, to examine the transformative power the Internet affords us a species, while also looking at its precarity as a construct and how our reliance on it can be socially damaging. As more and more of us have to rely on streaming, social media and web conferencing to get by, Herzog invites us to consider just how valuable the internet is to us.

Discover More:

Kanopy: Kanopy has more of Herzog’s most recent works, including crime thriller Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, the Gertrude Bell biography Queen of the Desert, and the environmental thriller Salt and Fire.

PressReader and RBdigital: You can keep up with the latest science and technology news and magazines like New Scientist with both PressReader and RBdigital.


Exit Through the Gift Shop

Year: 2010
Length: 83 mins
Director: Banksy

Watch the full film here!

Cast your mind back to 2010, the heyday of street artists who turned the world into their canvas with their bold and politically loaded art and began to find mainstream success in gallery shows. A typical biopic this is not; Exit Through the Gift Shop follows not Banksy himself, but his filmmaker friend turned disciple Thierry Guetta, who first becomes embroiled in the street art community as a documentarian before deciding to become a street artist himself. Complicating matters is the long-standing accusation that this film was made as a hoax, as Thierry’s rocketing to success as a street artist can come off to some as too staged and polished for a real-life subject, a claim that has been repeatedly denied by the film-makers. Regardless of its veracity, after rewatching this in lockdown, I’m never going to take the streets for granted again.

Discover More:

Kanopy: Eager to learn more about street art? Kanopy recently added a new documentary chronicling the movement’s history, Banksy and the Rise of Outlaw Art.

PressReader and RBdigital: Both Pressreader and RBdigital provide online access to hundreds of magazines including many on art, illustration, photography and more.

A Halloween graphic novel for every type of horror fan

“I am a horror maniac who prefers to stay at home.”
― Junji Ito, writer of Uzumaki

If you’re a discerning horror fanatic, you know it can be difficult to find a story that scratches your particular genre itch; after all, those that scare easily don’t always scare equally. That’s why we’ve put together this list of recent horror graphic novels to help you feed your particular horror obsession (or maybe help you start a new one).

Are you into monsters? Then check out the new Swamp Thing collection Roots of Horror featuring the best of DC’s writers and artists, or The Immortal Hulk, featuring a new undead twist on Marvel’s Green Goliath.

Do your interests lean more toward folk horror? Try webcomic artist Emily Carroll’s collection of Brothers Grimm-style horror tales Through the Woods, or Hellboy: The Wild Hunt, which inspired the 2019 Hellboy film.

Like your horror incomprehensible and weird? Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham’s ultimate haunted-house-in-space comic Nameless, or Uzumaki from horror manga artist Junji Ito — where singular obsessions lead a small town to ruin — might have what you’re after.

Swamp Thing : roots of terror : the deluxe edition / King, Tom
“On Halloween, the barrier between world’s grows thin–and only the Swamp Thing is strong enough to face the monsters that come from the other side. In addition, this book also features the final Swamp Thing story from the monster’s co-creator, Len Wein. Originally intended as the start of a new series, presented here with art by Kelley Jones. Collects Swamp Thing: Winter Special #1 and stories from Swamp Thing: Halloween Giant, Cursed Comics Cavalcade #1, and Young Monsters in Love #1″ (Catalogue)

Uzumaki : spiral into horror / Itō, Junji
“Kurôzu-cho, a small fogbound town on the coast of Japan, is cursed. According to Shuichi Saito, the withdrawn boyfriend of teenager Kirie Goshima, their town is haunted not by a person or being but by a pattern: uzumaki, the spiral, the hypnotic secret shape of the world. It manifests itself in everything from seashells and whirlpools in water to the spiral marks on people’s bodies. As the madness spreads, the inhabitants of Kurôzu-cho are pulled ever deeper into a whirlpool from which there is no return!” (Catalogue)

The immortal Hulk. Vol. 1, Or is he both? / Ewing, Al
“You know Bruce Banner. He’s quiet, calm, never complains. He’s a man who believes he can use the darkest elements of his personality to do good in the world. If someone were to shoot him in the head… All he’d do is die. But the horror lives deeper. A horror that refuses to die. When night falls something other than the man gets up again. The horror is the Immortal Hulk.” (Catalogue)

Hellboy : the wild hunt / Mignola, Michael
“The inspiration for the new film from director Neil Marshall and starring Strangers Things’s David Harbour. Hellboy is called to England to take part in an ancient ritual of hunting giants, but quickly faces a much more dangerous enemy: Nimue, the Queen of Blood, who has risen with plans to create a monstrous army.”  (Adapted from catalogue

Through the woods / Carroll, Emily
“A collection of five spine-tingling short stories”– Come take a walk in the woods and see what awaits you there. A fantastically dark and timeless graphic debut, for fans of ‘Grimm Tales’, ‘The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy’ and the works of Neil Gaiman.” (Catalogue)

Nameless / Morrison, Grant
“With the asteroid Xibalba on a collision course with Earth, a group of billionaire futurists recruits the occult hustler Nameless for a mission to save the world.” (Catalogue)

New Zealand children’s comics and stories from our guests at Comicfest

Earlier this year Wellington City Libraries and the National Library of New Zealand hosted the biennial Comicfest, featuring panels and workshops with New Zealand comic artists such as Roger Langridge, Katie O’Neill, and Michel Mulipola.

Now you can check out their books (and more!) at the newly-opened He Matapihi Molesworth Library, in the National Library.

The Tea Dragon Society / O’Neill, Katie
“After discovering a lost Tea Dragon in the marketplace, apprentice blacksmith Greta learns about the dying art form of Tea Dragon caretaking from the kind tea shop owners.” (Catalogue)

Aquicorn Cove / O’Neill, Katie
“Unable to rely on the adults in her storm-ravaged seaside town, a young girl must protect a colony of magical seahorse-like creatures she discovers in the coral reef. From the award-winning author of PRINCESS PRINCESS EVER AFTER and THE TEA DRAGON SOCIETY comes AQUICORN COVE, a heartfelt story about learning to be a guardian to yourself and those you love. ” (Adapted from catalogue)

Tongan heroes / Riley, David
“Illustrated by Michel Mulipola, Tongan heroes presents inspirational stories of achievers who have Tongan ancestry. It includes: Legends like Aho’eitu, Hina and Seketoa, historical figures such as Queen Salote Tupou III, Pita Vi and Professor Futa Helu, contemporary heroes like Jonah Lomu, Captain Kamelia Zarka, Filipe Tohi, The Jets, Manu Vatuvei, Dr Viliami Tangi and Valerie Adams.” (Adapted by catalogue)

Samoan heroes / Riley, David
“Illustrated by Michel Mulipola, a collection of inspirational stories of achievers who have Samoan ancestry. It includes: contemporary heroes like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Troy Polamalu, Judge Ida Mālosi, Savage and Associate Professor Donna Adis; historical figures like Emma Coe, Tamasese, Salamāsina and Lauaki; legends like Sina, Tiʻitiʻi and Tigilau” (Adapted by catalogue)

Abigail and the snowman / Langridge, Roger
“Nine-year-old Abigail meets a loveable and sophisticated yeti named Claude who’s escaped from a top-secret government facility.” (Catalogue)

Criminy / Langridge, Roger
“Daggum Criminy’s peaceful life is suddenly interrupted as pirates invade his island, casting Criminy’s family out as refugees into the wild unknown in search of a new home. Soon, the Criminys find themselves hopping from one strange locale to another, each with their own bizarre environment, people, and challenges; putting Daggum and fam in constant peril as they search for a new peaceful place to call home.” (Catalogue)

Children’s comics that aren’t your usual

Have you traversed though all of Tintin? Been through the footnotes of Asterix? Are you just looking for something new to read? Then try one of these comics, as recommended by our librarians!

Want a superhero story with a fun twist? Try Sparks, the hero who’s actually two cats in a robot dog suit!

Do you want a comic with an interactive element? Then read Hocus Pocus, a pick-a-path adventure comic where YOU decide where the story goes!

Passionate about dinosaurs? Then check out Dinosaur Empire, an adventure through the three periods of the Age of Dinosaurs!

You can find all these books (and more!) in the Children’s Comic section of our library branches.

Sparks! / Boothby, Ian
“Sparks is a hero and man’s best friend, but nobody suspects he’s two cats! August is a brilliant inventor who is afraid of the outside. Charlie is a crack pilot who isn’t afraid of anything. Together these pals save lives every day as they pilot a powerful, mechanical dog suit!” (Adapted from catalogue)

Zeus : king of the gods / O’Connor, George
“O’Connor’s vibrant, kinetic art brings ancient tales to undeniable life, in a perfect fusion of super-hero aesthetics and ancient Greek mythology. Volume 1 of OLYMPIANS, ZEUS: King OF THE GODS, introduces readers to the ruler of the Olympian Pantheon, telling his story from his boyhood to his ascendance to supreme power.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Hocus & Pocus [1] : the legend of Grimm’s woods / Manuro
“Enter a world inspired by favorite fairy tales, complete with gingerbread houses, a girl dressed in red, and seven brothers lost in the woods. Readers can play as Hocus (a girl) or Pocus (a boy), choose a magic animal companion, and enter a colorful forest of brain-teasing riddles, magical objects, and unusual characters. Succeed or fail, it all depends on you” (Adapted from catalogue)

Dinosaur empire! : a graphic novel / Howard, Abby
“This book takes readers on a journey back in time to experience the Mesozoic Era firsthand through a riveting combination of art and factual information. This first in a three-book, middle-grade, graphic novel series centering around scientific investigations throughout time helps readers learn about the creatures of the Mesozoic Era.” (Catalogue)

Akissi : tales of mischief / Abouet, Marguerite
“Collects the adventures of Akissi, a young West African girl who is always getting into trouble.” (Catalogue)

Cucumber quest. 1, The doughnut kingdom / Gigi D. G.
“A delightfully pun-filled middle grade graphic novel, adapted from the popular web comic series, about bunny siblings on a heroic journey to save their world from an evil queen.” (Catalogue)