Archive for the Western Comic/Comix Category


Kim & Kim, Volume 1: This Glamorous, High-Flying Rock Star Life

April 10th, 2017

Kim & Kim, Volume 1: This Glamorous, High-Flying Rock Star Life by Magdalene Visaggio, Eva Cabrera, Claudia Aquirre, Zaak Saam and Katy Rex, is a much-needed entry in the “cool-protagonists-who-do-whatever-the-fuck-for-money” category of space gonzo comics. Primarily because the”cool-protagonists-who-do-whatever-the-fuck-for-money” in this case are Kim Q, a trans woman rocker, with a penchant for accelerating towards a problem, rather than away from it, and Kim A, a former necromancer, turned “whatever-the-fuck-for-money”-type bounty hunters. (Surely we have noticed that “bounty hunter” has become the catch-all category for ne’er-do-wells in pretty much all forms of fiction, including reality TV.)

The Kims are smart, fun, and like all their bounty hunter brethren of the future, chronically short on cash. Their “easy” jobs never work out, the good jobs always become bad jobs and Kim Q’s father is an oligarch who hates the fact that he has a daughter. In other words, it’s all chaos, all the time.

Like all good bounty hunter/private eyes/independent contractor stories from Marcus Didius Falco to V.I. Warshawski, the bad guy is badder than we expected (and has a stupid name,) the other bad guy is less bad than we expected, the REAL bad guy is really horrible and the other bad guy is related to us, as are some of the good guys and that long-dead relative who is very cool, but not really that dead, either. And because it’s a science fantasy comic, there are tentacles and sandworms and alien bars and a broken-down van ship. You know the drill.

But like all stories of it’s kind, it has one thing that is absolutely critical to whether it works – is it fun? Yes, Kim & Kim, Volume 1: This Glamorous, High-Flying Rock Star Life is fun. It’s also got a pleasantly queer outlook on life, in which Kim and Kim cheerfully slash Kim’s former partners now rivals, and Kim has that aunt who, it turns out had a female partner. Kim and Kim describe themselves as “mostly platonic soul mates.”

Ratings:

Art – 7 Cartoony, but it works
Characters – 7 Both Kim and Kim are fun, one-note characters
Story – 7 Chaos and screaming
Service – Nope*
Yuri – 2 Djuna & Mina and Kim & Kim ish

Overall – 7

*No service of the salacious kind, but as the foreword by Imogen Binnie points out, having a fun, badass trans lead still is rare enough to get a mention. (The foreword, btw, is excellent and worth reading.)

And so I welcome it to my shelves and looks forward to Volume 2. And, hopefully, a resolution to this arc so we never ever have to utter the name El Scorcho again.

 

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LGBTQ: Love is Love Anthology (English)

April 3rd, 2017

On June 12, 2016, in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida a self-loathing, broken man decided that the best way to handle his problems was to take it out on innocent strangers. He hated his ethnicity and his sexuality, so he chose a gay nightclub that served as a refuge for LGBTQ people of color. Instead of taking his own life, he took 49 other people’s. For no goddamn good reason. And, it being America, it was easy for him to get the weapons and ammunition he needed, because we wouldn’t want to regulate that even as much as we regulate driving a car.  

So one more asshole guy got to destroy lives and we got to mourn…again.

 IDW and DC Comics teamed up to create a tribute comic anthology and so Love Is Love was born to raise money for survivors and victims’ families.The 1st print edition sold out quickly, which is testament to the desire to do good so many people have. I picked up a copy of the Digital Edition.

The anthology is beautifully done, with a lot of different perspectives…many of them exceptionally beautifully rendered. 

And it made me so angry I could barely get through it.

Batman was not going to help those kids. Neither was Superman or Wonder Woman. Every time a DC character made an appearance, I wanted to scream. Particularly during a story by Dan fucking Didio, the woman-hating fragile white dude  who had to be pulled from DC panels some years ago because he was so rude to fans, especially to women. What does that say about the horrible wasteful loss of life? What lesson did he learn imagining Batman in rainbow colors, lecturing us on loss? Fuck that so very much.

/Deep breath./

Legitimately, every use of DC characters fell flat as a board for me. Even the exceptionally pretty Batwoman with Gay Pride Flag by Rafael Albuquerque.

It was just all so “Nope.”

That said, there were a lot of genuinely touching stories. The ones that worked, dropped the facade if the superhero tie-in and talked about how heroic it is to be gay and joyful in a world with fragile cowardly assholes with guns.  I particularly like the one-pager by Teddy Tennebaum, Mike Huudleston and Corey Breen that called the bravery it takes – still – to love freely and openly “super-love.”

I was very glad to see openly gay artists like Ed Luce and Paige Braddock included.  I also very much appreciated those well-known straight artists who took the time to portray LGBTQ people, People of color, gay kids and trans kids, at The Pulse itself, rather than stupid Batman. 

Ratings:

Overall – I don’t know what to say. Probably it’s an 8, but it made me so angry I can’t even.

I’m pretty sure I’m not sorry I got this collection and maybe one day I’ll be able to read it without white-hot searing rage.

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LGBTQ: Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology

April 2nd, 2017

Aw yeah. Last year, Joamette Gil teamed up with a number of creative talents to launch Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology on Kickstarter and I jumped all over that so fast. ^_^

Although I have the PDF, when I saw the print version (both of which are available on Gumroad) yesterday at the MoCCA Arts Festival, I threw even more money at the group. I know I talk about the comics ecosystem a lot here. but the bottom line is that creators cannot eat your admiration. I was glad to back this project, it was my pleasure to buy the book, but it was pure joy to actually read. This scan of the cover does not do it justice – the colors are resonant.

I consumed the whole book on my train ride home, and can’t think of a single story I didn’t like. ^_^ But a few of them had me choked up and one or two even threatened gushy happy tears which is awfully awkward on the train.

Power & Magic is, well, it’s kind of a book I’ve been waiting for. By and about people of color, inclusive in every way, including really lovely stories about gender, ability, mental and physical health. “Fluid,” by Veronica Agrawal was a particularly nice tale about expectations and gender roles. And magic. Multiple ways of looking at multiple traditions, fantasy and real magic, paganism and Santeria, natural and human-made.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before on Okazu, but I’m a pagan, so it was really nice to have a collection about “magic” that wasn’t exclusively about Harry Potter-type wizards. Not that I object to that, but sometimes I’d like to see a little more depth. “Te Perdi” by Maria Llorens and Devaki Neogi and “As The Roots Undo” by Joamette Gil gave me that depth I was looking for.

I also quite liked “Your Heart is an Apple”by Nevedita Sekar which riffed on modern dating and classic fairy tales and had a fucking fantastic ending. And Aatmaja Pandya’s “You’ll Know When It’s Time To Go” spoke to ancient quest stories and their place in our modern searches for acceptance.

I also want to stand up for “The Whisperer” by Ariann Hokoki, which is a parable about mental health and healing and love that was one of those stories that brought tears to my eyes. 

“The Shop That Never Stays” by Gabrielle Robinson and Hannah Lavarte was fabulous. “Deaf Together” by fydbac is an absolutely gorgeous silent comic. And honestly, there were no stories that weren’t a pleasure to read. I feel like I must apologize to anyone I haven’t mentioned specifically, though, because really, every story was uniquely excellent.

Ratings:

Overall – 9

Can you tell I loved this book? I did. It made me actively happy to read this collection. I hope you’ll feel the same way and pick it up on Gumroad, in PDF or softcover print version.

(I don’t doubt that they magicked the fuck out of this book, by the way. And good for them if they did.)

 

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Western Comic: Satellite Falling, Issues 1-3

March 17th, 2017

Satellite Falling, written by Steve Horton and illustrated by Stephen Thompson felt very much like The Fifth Element, starring a lesbian character, without the kind of satisfying ending that that film provided.

We begin by being introduced to Lilly (hah), the only human on a satellite full of aliens, whose job is bounty hunter, or whatever she needs to do. Lilly comes already burdened with a tragic love affair when we meet her. 

She is hired by the police…more specifically, by the police chief for whom she does contract work, to help uncover a organization that…blah blah blah. The details are as unimportant in this story as in any other “watch the cool bounty hunter beat up people” sci-fi story ever. I mean really, the point of this book is watching the cool bounty hunter, no one really cares about the details of the evil organization.

We are told – and shown – the species-ism that is supposed to stand-in for racism, without any context. In fact, I found it pretty tasteless that we are forced to watch a lynching of an alien, without any narrative around the scene other than “oh look, they are so xenophobic.”  Lilly, we are repeatedly told, is the only human left on the satellite. Why? What happened? We don’t know, except that humans left because of that species-ism.

Lilly uses holographic masking to appear as various species but is wholly human. Her police chief boss, not averse to coercion, uses their ability to shift forms to have sex with Lilly as a female. Again, as no ideological or sociological context is applied to the scene, I could not help but read it as a bunch of guys thinking lesbians are Man LiteTM, and therefore wrote Lilly the same way they would a male protagonist. On the one hand, it’s freeing, knowing that neither the Chief nor Lilly have any emotional baggage about this, on the other hand, it’s also calls Lilly’s obsession about her former lover into some kind of icky question. Like, weren’t you not moving on a second ago? Or is that only for internal expository monologue and actually you have sex all the time? It’s hard to understand Lilly, and the narrative is too busy having her be one-liner funny and kick ass to ever really bother trying. This mess is also why I would not call this comic a LGBTQ comic. It has a lesbian protagonist, but is not particularly about her.

The end of Volume 3 is a big ole’ cliffhanger and, really, I should totally be the audience for this comic (badass lesbian bounty hunter),  but as the big reveal is so horribly boringly obvious and then is presented as a low-key reveal, I find myself not all that interested. Also, I’m tad annoyed by Amazon Kindle/Comixlogy’s bundle of the first three issues of the series, without any sign of issues 4 and 5, which are currently TBD for 8 months.

The high point of the series is definitely Thompson’s art which was both artistic and easy to follow and Lisa Jackson’s coloring which wasn’t the super-saturated colors I find so difficult to cope with. Looking at Satellite Falling was the best part. If only the story had built the world with the same fervor it had Lilly talking to her dead lover.

Ratings:

Art – 9
Story – 6 Couldawouldashoulda
Characters – 7 The alien bartender was my favorite character. He was all the stereotypes and I liked him anyway
Service – 7 It was actually a nice sex scene, except for the fact that it was coercive
Lesbian – 10 You know what was actually lesbian? Lilly’s obsession with Eva. THAT was lesbian.

Overall – 7

If the other two issues show up in the universe, I’m not opposed to reading them, but I’m not losing sleep if I don’t.

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LGBTQ: Oath, An Anthology of New (Queer) Heroes

January 29th, 2017

I’m horribly backlogged on the books I backed on Kickstarter in 2016. Today I’m going to take a look at Oath, An Anthology of New (Queer) Heroes

Created by a lineup of talented creators, this book is a fully diverse anthology that takes a look at the stories of people who are or have become, heroes and whose gender, sexuality, race and body size do not in any way negatively affect their ability to function as heroes.

My two favorite stories were Theo Nicol Lorenz’ story “Lunch Break” in which two people with secrets learn to trust and love one another – a theme that repeated throughout the book and Lee and Ty Blauersouth’s “Safe House” which broke age barriers as well and had a truly joyful ending.

“The Fourth Option” by Adriana Ferguson and K. Van Dam actually made me laugh out loud with it’s quirky “information assimilant” who makes packets with key information, including her name. 

And Jenn St-Onge’s No Sugar was a tale that would be familiar to any manga fan of magical girl stories.

As one might expect (and for me, desire) in an anthology, the art styles are varied, but I’m going to  say that the story telling as tighter then usual for an anthology. Especially one that has such a broad overarching topic as “Heroes.” I don’t think any of the stories left me feeling as if anything wwas missing and almost all of them felt scripted exactly as they needed to be – enough to tell the story, not too much to preach, not too little to leave us wondering what as going on.

Ratings:

Overall – 9

As Kickstarter anthologies go, Oath was one of the best I have read. Oath is available digitally on the Oath shop or softcover in print.

 

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