Wednesday, March 09, 2005

An invitation to All Readers, and some Indy Love

So yesterday I ran down the list of the books I regularly pick up from the Big Two, trying to show everyone that I'm no comic-snob, and I loved brightly colored costumed heroics as much as the next guy. Maybe you noticed how few DC superhero books I picked up - I've just never had much interest in any of 'em besides Batman. Am I making a mistake? Ignoring a perfectly good title for no good reason? Drop me a line and let me know.

That goes for any book, any time - I am always, always on the look out for some great new comics to read. And I'll give you my word right now - if you can give me a pitch for why I should be reading your favorite book, I will check it out. I will buy at least one issue. If I dig it, I'll write about it here on The Zealot's Lore. That's a solid gold promise. Try me.

And try to really explain the book's appeal; think about why you love it, and tell me. I don't want you to write me a book, but "You should buy Superman 'cause it rules" is not quite enough. Give me one concrete reason, and I'm sold. You'll not only have pimped out at least one copy of your favorite title, but I might just give it some free publicity as a result. What've you got to lose?

This does NOT apply to trades, of course.

Okay, so moving on:

One post down, you'll see my picks from Marvel and DC. Here's a list of some (maybe not all) of the books I regularly check out from other publishers:

AiT / PlanetLar - Now, this one's a bit tricky since Larry has been trailblazing in the holy name of the OGN, the original graphic novel. Thirteen bucks, usually, for about a hundred pages of new, self-contained story. And while I gotta give some serious love for that (Christ, does anybody else have the balls to do this? And the fortitude to make it work?), it makes it tough to give a list of AiT books I regularly check out. No ongoing series. So, I get pretty much everything. It's all been enjoyable stuff, although I sure hope there's a sequel to Bad Mojo in the works, 'cause the ending (and my conversation with the writer, Bill Harms) made it pretty clear that the story's not over yet! I bought all of Demo last year, and coming soon is Larry's new ongoing book with rising-star artist Jon Proctor, The Black Diamond (scroll down the link for an interview w/Proctor).

Image - Man, I don't know what they're putting in the water over in Berkeley, but it's really given this co-op publisher a shot in the arm in 2005. Every single month lately I'm finding something new from Image in the Diamond Previews catalogue that gets me at least curious. They've already been publishing several of my favorite titles - The Walking Dead and Small Gods are both currently top-of-the-pile books for me, and I also love Invincible - but a who barrage of great (or at least interesting) new titles is coming down the pike. Mora #1 was a fantastic start to a series that looks really promising, and I was intrigued enough by Pig Tale #1 to stick around and see where it's going, but there's also The Expatriate (a new B. Clay Moore espionage book with absolutely stunning artwork by newcomer Jason Latour), The Atheist by the inimitable Phil Hester (writer of The Coffin and Deep Sleeper, the latter being one of last year's very best miniseries) and John McCrea, and X-Armor, which comes out today and looks like it might deliver a deliciously edgy take on the old schmoe-becomes-a-hero formula. The list goes on, but I'll pimp those out as they come closer into view.

Dark Horse has gotten my attention in the last year, publishing two of my favorite books to read in the serial format, Conan and The Goon. Kurt Busiek's rock-solid scripting and the unstoppable art team of Cary Nord on pencils and industry legend Dave Stewart have made Conan a real surprise for me, since I went into the book with basically no interest in the character. And Eric Powell's instant-classic, The Goon, is a brilliant combination of pulpy noir, irreverent and sick humor, and geniune pathos, displayed with one of the most amazing artistic styles on the market today. Powell somehow combines a truckload of influences (most noticeably Jack Kirby) with his own unique voice to create some of my favorite art in any book today. What's even better is that both of these books are definitely students of the serial, episodic format. There's no trade-inflating here, folks: every issue is jam-packed with story and character development and really makes me feel like I've plunked down my three dollars for something meaty. There are a couple of Conan spin-offs coming down the pipeline, and Powell is scripting a new four-issue mini called Billy The Kid's Old Timey Oddities that looks pretty promising. Keep your eyes peeled.

My lunch hour is about up, and I'm not finished! Maybe I'll have to give the rest of my indie favorites a shout-out a little further down the line. But before I go, I have one last book I have to talk about. That's Geof Darrow's unparalleled Shaolin Cowboy, published by Burlyman Entertainment. This is 100% balls-to-the-wall fearless comic bookery. This book is truly beautiful. It's completely ridiculous. It's a marvel to look at. It's spectacularly violent. It spends 10 pages on a single, motionless panel. Shaolin Cowboy is unrelenting, uncomprising, and unbelievable. I've never seen anything like it. Is it for everyone? Probably not. Some people might be turned off, and understandably so, by the complete absence of traditional plotting or character work. But there's something different going on here. We're only one issue in, so I don't know what it is, but Darrow is a rare talent in this medium and my trust in him is complete.

Stay tuned for The First Zealot's Lore Giveaway in my next post. It's gonna be fun, and it might just put you in touch with a great new book you've never seen before. Y'all come back now, hear?

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