Archive for April 6th, 2012

FFFIC Comic Book Reviews Episode 39

Written by on Apr 6, 2012
Filed in: FFFIC (Famous Faces & Funnies InvestComics)  |  No Comments »

Shaun Sorenson reviews this weeks batch of new comics.


Written by on Apr 6, 2012
Filed in: Comic Book News  |  No Comments »


SAN DIEGO, Calif. – April 06, 2012 – Ape Entertainment announced today that they have entered into a licensing agreement with Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization, to produce a series of print and digital comic books featuring the cast of the beloved children’s show Sesame Street. The new and original comic book series will emphasize educational and entertaining content for younger readers.

From television to the comic panel, Ape Entertainment will portray the characters that millions of parents and children have come to know and love in a comic series that will be produced in full color and available in stores this fall in standard comic sized printed editions for $3.99 and digest sized hardcover comic book editions for $7.99. They will also be available as a digital comic book that will be available through Apple’s App Store for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

“We are excited about our new relationship with Sesame Workshop to bring the Sesame Street characters to comics, which is a dream come true for all of us here at Ape,” said Ape Entertainment COO Brent E. Erwin. “Elmo, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Grover, and the whole Sesame Street gang have always been a part of our lives, now we feel like a part of their family, and that’s a great feeling.”

“We look forward to collaborating with Ape Entertainment to create a series of Sesame Street comic books, for all ages” said Jennifer A. Perry, Vice President, Worldwide Publishing, Sesame Workshop. “The Sesame Street Muppets and comic books go together like Cookie Monster and snickerdoodles, so we can’t wait for Sesame Street fans to have the chance to learn and laugh in the unique way comics draw readers in and keep them turning the page.”

Ape Entertainment’s mission to grow the comics industry by increasing awareness about comics among a new generation of readers; Ape takes a step forward with the announcement of its new relationship with Sesame Street. Ape Entertainment hopes young readers and their parents will discover the exciting world of comics and start visiting a local comic book shop. Parents can find a local comic shop in their area by visiting the Comics Shop Locator service at

For more information, please visit or

About Sesame Workshop Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization that revolutionized children’s television programming with the landmark Sesame Street. The Workshop produces local Sesame Street programs, seen in over 150 countries, and other acclaimed shows including The Electric Company, to help bridge the literacy gap. Beyond television, the Workshop produces content for multiple media platforms on a wide range of issues including literacy, health and military deployment. Initiatives meet specific needs to help young children and families develop critical skills, acquire healthy habits and build emotional strength to prepare them for lifelong learning. Learn more at

ABOUT APE ENTERTAINMENT: Founded in 2003, Ape Entertainment is the brainchild of lifelong comic book devotees David Hedgecock, and Brent E. Erwin. Ape Entertainment is the comic book home to innovative new titles as LITTLE GREEN MEN, SCOUTS, and HEROIC. Ape is also the North American publisher for licensed properties POCKET GOD, THE PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR, KUNG FU PANDA, RICHIE RICH, CASPER, STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE, and CUT THE ROPE.

Visit Ape Entertainment online at

LIFE ON MARS? D.O.G.S. of Mars

Written by on Apr 6, 2012
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LIFE ON MARS? D.O.G.S. of Mars


Trade paperback collects D.O.G.S. OF MARS

The Division of Global Surveyors (D.O.G.S.) is on Mars to carry out a terraforming mission, making the red planet habitable for humans. But what the crew of Mars Base Bowie doesn’t know is that there was something there before them. In D.O.G.S. OF MARS, a graphic novel coming from Image Comics in May, the intrepid team will discover that there is something on the planet just as deadly as Mars’ freezing temperatures and carbon dioxide atmosphere. Something alive.

Written by Johnny Zito, Tony Trov, and Christian Wieser, D.O.G.S OF MARS explore the effects of isolation and fear as the team desperately tries to evade an unrelenting alien life form. Mission captain Zoe must struggle to keep her team together — and alive — as they’re pursued by a nocturnal monster that mutilates and transforms its victims, even as forces that aren’t alien threaten them from within.

Zito and Trov have collaborated on comics for several years, winning DC Comics’ Zuda competition in 2008.  “I think this is the best project we’ve ever collaborated on,” said Trov. “It’s heavily inspired by horror films like Alien, Event Horizon and the actual experiment known as Mars-500.”

The unique art style of Paul Maybury, awash in shades of red, helps bring the gruesome story to life. Johnny Zito comments, “Paul’s designs are very industrial with Japanese gore splattered about. His vision of the monster is a grotesque, alien twist on the classic werewolf.”

Collecting the four-issue miniseries that was sold digitally on ComiXology, D.O.G.S. OF MARS is a 120-page paperback. It will be available in stores on May 2 and its ISBN is 978-1-60706-550-0. An advance PDF is available for review.

ABOUT IMAGE COMICS Image Comics is a comic book and graphic novel publisher founded in 1992 by a collective of best-selling artists. Image has since gone on to become one of the largest comics publishers in the United States. Image currently has five partners: Robert Kirkman, Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri and Jim Valentino. It consists of five major houses: Todd McFarlane Productions, Top Cow Productions, Shadowline, Skybound and Image Central. Image publishes comics and graphic novels in nearly every genre, sub-genre, and style imaginable. It offers science fiction, romance, horror, crime fiction, historical fiction, humor and more by the finest artists and writers working in the medium today. For more information, visit

Advance Review for The Standard #3!

Written by on Apr 6, 2012
Filed in: The Standard - Comic Book Column  |  No Comments »

Managed to do a great trade with John Lees at the Glasgow League of Writers group ( tonight – ‘Taking Flight’ arrived hot off the press from UKomics this morning, roughly about the same time as John’s stock of the third issue of The Standard dropped, so we swapped.

Just got home and read it, and thought I better get a post up here while it’s fresh.

I loved the Standard when I first caught it. I didn’t know John then; he kind of snuck up on the non-GLoW part of the comics scene in Glasgow with some incredible reviews, and on reading about it I knew I had to get it straight away. I wasn’t disappointed – the first issue occupied this strange beautiful place between the Silver and Dark ages of comics, walking that tightrope with some ease. After setting up the main story and introducing us to some fantastic characters, it ended on a bang, snatching the ground out from under us, and instantly setting its stall as a comic that would be dealing with the unexpected.

The art by Jon Rector ( was fantastic – dense inks that left enough room for the story to shine through, not dedicated to splashing black across every inch of panel. The art really acted in service to the story, as it should, and the colours and lettering were great too.

The second issue was announced by a beautifully atmospheric cover, and we moved into a different, darker phase of the story. This was becoming a nuanced piece about the difficulties of retiring as a superhero and handing over to younger people who might have a murkier sense of justice and responsibility than you. It also took sideways swipes at celebrity culture and corporate sponsorship, but we were aware by now that underneath all this fairly dazzling superhero stuff, some more repugnant was evolving.

The regular flashbacks revealed the life of the Standard and Fabu-lad, the kid he takes under his wing. That story is a re-telling of the Batman and Robin relationship, but instead of being bound together by the loss of their parents, this dynamic duo are more complex – original Standard Gilbert Graham isn’t the damaged playboy of Bruce Wayne, he’s a fairly solid, dependable chap – maybe even slightly boring. And Alex Thomas/Fabu-lad’s parents aren’t dead – they’re abusive, as revealed in a heart-breakingly poignant scene. That Graham adopts him and helps him transform into Fabu-lad is a twist on the later relationship that was played out in the Batman universe – that Bruce Wayne was a loner, who worked with Robin reluctantly. This issue harks back to a Golden Age when both were in it together, as much for the fun as for the justice.

Yet the introduction of more details about the missing girl in this story and the hinting at the villain, as well as detail on the “Rorschach” style superhero, The Corpse, lean this second issue towards a bleaker place, even if there is still humour.

By this time I was hooked, line and sinker; Jon’s art got better, even he was let down slightly by a different colourist who I felt didn’t quite capture the magic of the first issue, and John’s story was superbly written.

Now, it’s been a long time coming, but I’ve just sat and devoured issue 3. That tightrope between Silver and Dark Age is traversed again as Graham takes up the mantle of the Standard again, coming out of retirement to save the missing girl. The journey to find the villain is a fraught one – in a deft move, Lees darts around some potentially uncomfortable issues that could surround a killer who is child abductor, and in doing so creates a villain that is creepier than we could have ever imagined, and an enemy that makes Graham’s role as superhero look in peril. It also explains the intensely creepy cover, with the evil-looking little girl and her pet skunk…

The skunk relates to the villain in Graham’s flashbacks, The Skunk, a Silver Age villain if ever there was one – someone in it for the rush and the thrill of robbery and extortion, using his deadly pungent gases to commit his heinous crimes. This is intercut with the present day mission to reveal and defeat the kidnapper of the city’s kids. But nothing’s as cut and dry as it seems – even the end to The Skunk’s criminal escapades is dark and tragic, although we find out he turned it around in later years.

Lees uses an interesting device that I think is sometimes overused in comics – the pages of talking heads. However it works really well in this instance, as we see various witnesses and protagonists interviewed for a documentary on The Standard. None of this stuff feels forced or gimmicky; not only is the story strong enough to take the weight of these devices, but their sparing use, and the way in which they are skilfully inter cut acts a lever for the plot, moving it forward in ways that give us lots of character information and backstory without ever feeling expository.

Some of the atmosphere John builds feels straight out of Watchmen, and I’m not overplaying it when I say that this comic feels like it fits directly into a position after that book. It’s like John has recognised the inherent flaw in so much of what followed Alan Moore’s magnum opus – that superheroes just became gritty without any thought for the whys and wherefores – and has positioned his book to pick up some of the questions Moore was asking about his superheroes back then. This isn’t a book that fits into the Marvel/DC mould. It doesn’t feel like common modern deconstruction either.

It feels like a fresh reimagining of the world of comics directly after Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, exploring what it meant for the world to catch up with the heroes, what it meant to live in a world where villains became increasingly more psychotic and dangerous, not only to the public at large, but also to the heroes themselves. And also what happens to morality and responsibility when the glare of celebrity washes over them?

The Standard issue 3 doesn’t end on  a cliffhanger the way earlier issues did – in fact, you could say that the opening arc is now closed – but we’re left with subtler, sweeter questions that make me desperate to read more. These questions are now dependant on the very interesting characters that Lees has created – I want to know the story of these characters, not just the next part of the plot.

Also on the art, Rector’s digital work looks fantastic, particularly as the book progresses. And the new colourist, Mike Gagnon, issue 2′s flatter, just makes the work sing; his flat blocks are much more suited to the Standard’s time and epoch-hopping nature, and do great service to the rich blacks of the art. Kel Nuttall’s lettering is fantastic too.

A final note on this “comic age” thing I talked about earlier – in taking his lead from the type of work Alan Moore was doing with Watchmen, John has constructed a story and a book that skates casually through Silver and Dark age stuff, but the result is very much Renaissance. This doesn’t feel retro, or like a pastiche. It feels solid and consistent, and is even greater than the sum of its parts.

I can’t wait until all six issues are out and this is available to buy in trade format on some lush paper and with a nice hardback cover, but until that stage, you need to pick up this book.

And I got through this whole post without referring to “indie” once. The comic is that good.It would sit comfortably beside anything that mainstream publishers are putting out there right now, and frankly shits over most of Marvel and the DC New 52.

Head over to the website:

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