What I’ve Been Reading July 4th 2013
Okay let me get the shamelessly biased plugs out of the way, I’m going to start including Webcomics in this segment cuz I gotta face facts I read more webcomics than anything else lately. So for my first review I gotta shout out to Axton Kahler and his strip Zombie Oaks.
I know I’ve mentioned Zombie Oaks here on the site before, and if you’ve followed my Facebook or my Twitter feed recently then you’ve likely already gotten enough information to know that he is indeed a friend of mine, and he’s even incorporated my own Tank-Monkey into his strip as a guest star, (which are currently running so go check em out!) so it might be fair to say that I am tainted with bias… however, now I will attempt to use descriptive language to convince you that not only am I biased… I’m also totally right to totally love this comic.
A little back-story first, Zombie Oaks started out as an expansion on a character that Axton created when his Middle Art Students challenged him… “you always draw creepy gross zombies… can’t you draw one that is cuter?!” So he did. George the Zombie Next Door was born.
Zombie oaks in its current state has been acting as a sort of origin or prequel to the zombification of George. But what the strip actually brings us is a whole lot more than just an origin story. It’s expansive! He’s fleshing out a little universe of characters which just keeps growing (and, as of this writing, he’s only had 23 updates! so it’s still a good time to jump on board and start from the beginning), without spoiling anything huge… we have super chickens, mutant tentacle monsters, Russian mail order snipers, a Tank-Monkey pet store clerk, filthy mouthed hamsters, a vile fast food chain with behind the scene evil scientists, a cat with a mean ‘metal face’, and the tragically doomed George… and those are JUST the characters I can mention without spoiling some of my favorite strips which are yet to come!
In Axton’s ongoing story line (which is the primary focus of the site and the comic) you get an incredible mix of comedy, action, and drama. The randomness of the twists and turns will leave you scratching your head and definitely wanting more! You also get some delightful one offs where Axton pokes fun at the comic book industry and social media (and the nasty trolls that lurk in those communities).
The artwork is stylized and distinct, it is practically a character of the strip. Axton draws on the traditional four panel comic strip model but he twists it, turns it, and makes it do his bidding.
So get on over there and learn why a simple chicken nugget meal… could very well change EVERYTHING. http://zombieoakscomic.com
Okay admission time, this series of books wasn’t even on my radar, heck the movie wasn’t on my radar… we went to the movie because a group of our friends were going and it sounded like fun to go to the movies, I honestly didn’t even know a plot summary when I walked in. I was intrigued by the movie… but like a lot of books turned movie you could just sense there was more. It wasn’t bad on first viewing… but the books really opened that whole story up wide open. I also admit I initially had the Harry Potter/Twilight bias and thought… well this isn’t my demographic, it’s not written with me in mind, it’s for kids/teens. But, in college I was admonished by professors to read Harry Potter and I was proven wrong about that series… so after getting the Hollywood glimpse of the first book, I decided I would not let them influence my entire view of this series… I would start reading the books and if I didn’t like them I would quit. Well first of all they are short enough that they can be gobbled up very quickly… secondly you find out very quickly that while the heroines and the heroes of this story… while being mostly teen and children do not deal with “kid stuff” there’s some really heady conflict in these books, and VERY internal psychological content. I’m very glad I read these books, because I don’t know how they will do that final book justice… it has action elements but it’s a very small part of the whole. Again, trying not to spoil things but I’m a big burly hairy dude and I enjoyed the heck out of The Hunger Games trilogy. Yes it’s still written with a teenage girl as the hero, yes it deals with coming of age themes like most… but no… this is not your typical “kids stuff”.
TMNT (IDW) #16-23 Okay it’s about time I talked COMICS! Today is July 4th and I busted through like 6 issues today alone, this run includes two arcs one which hasn’t seen completion yet. I’m loving them both each for different reasons… I mentioned in my last review of this series how they were handling Krang… well in the 80′s cartoon run he was battling against the Neutrinos for dominance of Dimension X… they were bizarre alien teens much like the Turtles. So when I saw neutrinos on the cover I thought to myself… oh no… this is where this very carefully crafted reboot dissolves into ridiculous camp…. Thankfully I was wrong… at first it was a little jarring how they made the neutrinos grittier but and things slowly unfold you get a better sense of what’s going on and who these characters are… there’s some pretty clever nods to the 80′s cartoon series (as well as the more recent newer take at the series early 2000′s run) without letting that camp ruin the whole story line. When the Turtles “resolve” that arc (again no spoilers but victory isn’t what you might expect it to be for our heroes on the half-shell) we get a fun one off by the Man himself Kevin Eastman, it’s a lot of fun and leads us carefully into the next story line which is shaping up to bring us back to some plot lines that extend all the way back to the very beginning of the series… I’m also getting a sense that now we are going to see some deviation… we’re going to be less and less likely to anticipate not only where the plot will end up but where it’s going in the first place. The IDW team is really starting to veer off from relying on rebooting pre-existing stories and now they are giving us new stories we’ve never been told before. It’s very exciting and I’m still enjoying it quite a bit.
Too Much Coffee Man: Cutie Island I’m trying to read more things outside of my usual sphere of stuff, we recently spent a day in Des Moines, IA and stopped at Mayhem Collectibles which was a groovy little comic book/gaming store. The folks behind the counter AND the fellow patrons were really knowledgeable and helpful. So this one was kind of an impulse buy… I wanted to patronize the store but didn’t have a clear purchase in mind other than I wanted something independent or local… I’d seen Too Much Coffee Man on the cover of The War of the Independents #1 and that really is all I knew of him cuz… I still haven’t read The War of the Independents… it’s still in my backlog… So morbid curiosity and impulse led me to pick this up. I’m still working my way through but I’m over half of the way through the collection which is broken up into sections. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone but the strips are very clever… kind of depressing… honest little blurbs on the world, and life and… putting out your own comic inspired opera?… Long story short I’m kinda digging it, but it really appeals to the part of me that really loves traditional style comic strips, all black and white with really intricate hatching. So if any of this sounds intriguing I think it’s worth a looksie.
Wrap Up: It’s been a fun couple months of reading! Lots of variety here, and a few things I never would have intended to read but wound up enjoying… I’ve included a handful of links throughout this post but a quick search should be able to get you more information on any of these titles. Have you read any of these books? Agree with me? Disagree with me? What isn’t on my radar but should be? Leave me a comment below I’d love to hear what you think!