Five from my Pull List

It’s no secret I’m reading more comics these days…oh, it is? Okay, well, since starting my part-time job at Wizard’s Comics, I have been reading a lot more comics. And I mean a lot more. I would say my comic intake has easily quadrupled, and spread beyond the gaming related comics (PS238, Knights of the Dinner Table etc) that I stuck to previously. I could try to excuse this by saying that I am reading more for work, so I can do my job better. But in all honesty that is a happy bi-product. No, if I have to look for the root cause of my swollen comic file, it’s Brandon.

You may know him better as @soupytoasterson if you frequent the Twitterverse. But whatever you call him (and @Leask may have some helpful suggestions, just ask him), Brandon is really good at selling comics. His secret? Honest enthusiasm coupled with optimism for the comic medium. Yep, that’s it. No trickery, no magic. If you come into the shop looking for comics, Brandon will try to set you up with something you will love. And if you have a file with us, he’ll be proactive about suggesting stuff you might like. Because Brandon wants you to love your comics as much as he does (his comics, not yours. But he also loves your comics, I just…never mind.)

So it was inevitable that some of that enthusiasm would rub off. As a result, I have added many titles to my pull list that I would otherwise have passed over. And I think it behooves me to pass some of that new found enthusiasm along to you, gentle readers. So here are my current top five titles, in no particular order. If you like what you read here, head out to your Friendly Local Comic Shop and pick them up. And drop me a line so we can talk, because that’s what cool nerds do…

Aquaman – Yeah, that’s right, Aquaman. Long has this character languished as a hapless B- or C-rated hero in the DC universe. But after hearing a few good things I read the first two issues in the store, and I was intrigued. What got me? One of the ongoing story-lines has Aquaman dealing with all of the misunderstandings surrounding his abilities. They actually take all of the criticism and insults that have been leveled against the character over the years, and made that part of the character arch. Combine that with some great writing from Geoff Johns and really expressive art from Joe Prado, and this is a comic I’m excited to read every month.

Fatale – If this were just a film noir-style comic, I’d probably read it.  If it were just a cthulhu-based comic, I’d probably read it.  Combine those two things together and the chances of me not reading Fatale approach zero.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s part of the solicit for Fatale #1:

“GUNS! SEX! SECRET CULTS! AND MONSTERS!  Nothing the BEST-SELLING and AWARD-WINNING creators of SLEEPER, CRIMINAL and INCOGNITO have done so far will prepare you for the explosive debut of FATALE!

A reporter in 2012 stumbles on a secret that leads him down the darkest path imaginable… to a seductive woman who’s been on the run since 1935, a mobster who may be an immortal demon monster, and the stories of all the doomed men who’ve been caught in their decades-long struggle.

FATALE blends noir and horror to tell a riveting epic unlike anything you’ve seen before.”

Geeklings, that is the kind of story that gets me out of bed in the morning.  Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are telling one hell of a great story here, and the art sets a mood both gritty and sultry.  Out of all my pull list, this is the title I re-read the most, though to be honest I find myself just going through the books and admiring the style as much as I do any of the words.  An evocatively beautiful comic.

Saga – Having been a fan of both Brian K. Vaughan‘s work on Y: The Last Man and Fiona Staple‘s North 40, I was super-excited to hear these two would be working on a new comic together.  It certainly didn’t hurt that the story promised to be an epic (well, they did call it Saga) tale of intergalactic intrigue, in the vein of Babylon 5 or Dune.  And even though I have only read issue #1 I have to say, I hope this gets the audience/sales it deserves.  Because it would be a shame if this beautifully rendered tale of two lovers caught in the middle of inter-planetary war was cut short.  I don’t just want to read to the end, I need to read to the end!  Saga is currently my favourite sci-fi story, and I am including many seasons of Stargate SG-1 and Star Trek when I make that determination.  I am a sucker for romance and intrigue set against a backdrop of science fiction.  If you are too, this is a comic you need.

Thief of Thieves – Also only at issue #1 is this little gem.  Sometimes it seems like a comic is written with me in mind.  Thief of Thieves is written like the creators entered my mind, Inception-style, and pulled out everything I have ever loved about every heist/crime show I have ever watched.  Hyperbole?  Hyperbole is for the weak, and in this case even it wouldn’t capture how much I’m enjoying this comic.  I know, I know, it’s only issue #1.  But I have faith in Robert Kirkman and the rest of the team.  Even if it only remains an entertaining heist comic it is worth the cover price.  But I can already see it hinting at so much more, and that is how it stole into my top five (yeah, yeah…).

Let me put it this way: do you love Leverage?  Do you miss it in the off-season?  Then reading this will fill that hole in your heart, and serve as an added bonus when Leverage comes back.  (If your answer to my first question was “What’s Leverage?, I…I have no words.  Just watch it.)

Smoke and Mirrors – This one almost slipped under my finely-tuned nerd radar.  Which was shocking, because a modern-day tale set in a world where magic is the prevalent technology is so firmly in my wheelhouse it’s like a part of the architecture.  As luck would have it, though, this caught my eye as I put it on the New Comics shelf, and after waiting an appropriate amount of time for real customers to snag it, I grabbed a copy.  And I can tell this is going to be a fun ride.  I can’t say too much at this point without spoilers but…okay, think of our world as it is now, with our massive reliance/dependence on technology.  Now imagine if someone came along and actually demonstrated real magic, as a force that could be measured and controlled.  Now imagine that in reverse.  Yeah, I thought you’d like that.  And that isn’t even a fraction of what is going on in this comic, not by a long-shot.  I’ll be reading voraciously…

Okay, that’s it for me.  My top five doesn’t even touch on all the comics I have on the go, so I’d better get back to it.  Leave a comment below and let me know what you’re reading.  And swing by the store some time so we can chat…

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A Love Reborn

Those of you that follow my activities with stalker-like verve (all of you, right?) will know that I recently took on a part-time job at a Friendly Local Comic Shop (rhymes with lizard, uh, blomics).  They needed a till-monkey and I am a damn dirty till-APE, so it was a match made in dork heaven.  It gives me an opportunity to walk among my people, and slows my inevitable slide into Gollum-hood.

What I wasn’t quite expecting was how much it would reinvigorate my love of comics.  I’ve enjoyed comics since I was a kid, of course, though my ardour for collecting them was checked when my family’s house burned down.  The fire destroyed a great many things, but of course the tragedy to me at age eight was the loss of my comics.  I loved those books, not just because they were cool and fun to read, but because reading them brought back memories of family vacations and lazy summers.

So while I’ve kept reading comics on a semi-regular basis, they haven’t been a passion.  But two things have changed that.  The first, of course, is just working at the comic shop and my increased exposure to comic readers.  It is the nature of the shop that people will come in with questions about comics.  And since it is in my nature to provide answers, I have begun reading and studying comics more in the last few months than I had in probably the last year.  I’m not pushing things too hard with regards the studying; I don’t want this to feel like a job after all.  But I am paying attention to artist and writer names these days, which is something that never interested me before (all my comic loving friends just burst into tears).

The second thing that brought about my renewed passion for comics is my boss, Brandon (you may know him as @soupytoasterson on the Twitters).  Brandon so obviously loves everything about comics it is hard not to get a contact high.  More than that, he loves selling people comics; I’ve seen him get giddy because he managed to find a good fit between comic/reader, or turned a non-reader into a reader.  His love of turning people onto comics equals my love of turning people onto gaming, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t watch him to glean any tips or secret methods.  The thing is, there really isn’t any secret: enthusiasm is contagious and Brandon is Patient X.  We’ve really only known each other a few months, but if Brandon suggests a comic to me, I will read it.  And I will likely keep reading it.

So there it is, thanks to Brandon and Wizard’s Comics my passion for sequential art stories (or as we call them in the biz, comics) has been restored.  I’m now having to work a careful balancing act between picking out the new titles I want to start collecting, and which old titles I want to re-explore.  But even sorting that out is fun, and not for nothing but I have some decent advisers to help.

Also, if you love comics and you want to listen to other people who love comics, I cannot recommend enough the podcasts Scotch and Comics, hosted by my pal Devin (@Doctor_Teeth); and Podcast! The Comics, hosted by the aforementioned Brandon and his hetero-lifepartner James (@Leask).  Both are a lot of fun, both are available through iTunes and you won’t be sorry you gave them a listen.

I’ll post a little later about what comics I’m raving about these days.  In the meantime, why not drop me a line in the comments below and let me know what comics you’re reading?