November 30, 2011

Attack of the Holiday Gift Guide, Part I: Ten Books/Comics To Give/Get

Tis the season, and as such, I'm making lists upon lists of ideas for presents. I mean, I should do that throughout the year instead of waiting until December but besides being a procrastinator, I also can't keep secrets about gifts that long. If I buy presents early, I can't stop myself from giving them to the recipient long before the holiday (or birthday). Anyways. As I'm sorting, I thought I'd categorize and share my gift ideas. I'll be posting three or four themed lists here and also lists on Fashionably Geek and That's Nerdalicious over the next few weeks.

Among my favorite presents to give (and get) are things to read. I love to share books and comics I've enjoyed with others. I think any of these ten books/comics would make the reader on your shopping list happy. Most of these are self-published or small press because I like supporting indie creators who make awesome stories.

The Dreamer: The Consequence of Nathan Hale (Pt. 1) by Lora Innes - This wonderful comic combines history, adventure, action, and romance. Sure, buy one for someone else, but buy it for yourself first.

Star Wars Craft Book by Bonnie Burton - This book makes the ideal gift for the geek crafter in your life. You'll find projects such as Admiral Sackbar and Yoda finger puppets; it's definitely for all ages!

Gronk, Vol 1 by Katie Cook - Gronk is a story about a monster finding her place in the world. She also happens to be freaking adorable. Every page of this comic makes me laugh, squee, or get teary.

One Con Glory by Sarah Kuhn - Romantic comedies and geekdom don't run into each other often enough. This book has both. It's endearing, funny, and geek girls and uh... not geek girls will be able to relate to the heroine's journey.

The Bean, Vol 1 by Travis Hanson - This volume collects issues 1-4 of the fantastic journey of a young dishwasher named Bean. Great adventure and characters, and it was also nominated for an Eisner this year. No big deal.

The Storyteller  - This anthology, available 12/13, collects new stories inspired by Jim Henson's The Storyteller. Lovely art, magical stories, and even an adaptation of an unproduced screenplay written by Anthony Minghella. Yeah, it's awesome.

Deus Libris: An Illustrated Collection - This is a beautiful, high-quality compilation art book; the theme is gods and goddesses. It's droolworthy.

The Killer, Vol 1 by Matz and Luc Jacamon - This cutting thriller focuses on a hitman who's ready to retire. His inner conflict and views on the world are fascinating. It shouldn't be missed. This is great for someone who likes Dexter.

Monster Commute by Daniel Davis - Monster Commute showcases world building at its finest. The comic about traffic and the hell of surviving it takes place in a steampunk influenced world filled with monsters. The art and general design are impressive. The end.

5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (And Other Useful Guides) by Matthew Inman - A collection of comics, captions, cartoons, etc from The Oatmeal. It causes laughter.

I won't blame you if you decide to keep a book from this list rather than giving it away.

November 26, 2011

Review: Cow Boy Comic

Cow Boy: A Boy And His Horse by Nate Cosby and Chris Eliopoulos is obviously a comic made with love. I could tell that just from Cosby's tweets about it. I couldn't wait to dive in.

Cow Boy will fool you. If you look at nothing more than the cover – which you shouldn't ever do, incidentally – you'll think it's an adorable comic for kids. You'd be half wrong. It is adorable, but the subject matter is for all ages and the well done combo makes this a story you'd be silly not to check out.

Meet Boyd. He's a kid. He has a horse that's not his, and he's figuring out the fine art of being a bounty hunter. Oh, he also has an impressive gun that isn't what it seems to be. He's far from your average ten year old. He's got determination and all the spunk a kid needs to make it through the world on his own. He's not just hunting any old bounty either - he's bringing in his no good father.

This story and art tugged at my heartstrings. It went from grabbing me with cuteness to catching me off guard by causing strong emotional reactions. Some of the more adult themes that are touched upon include kid/parent relationships, bullying, and racism. Sometimes that stuff feels inserted as if the writer were trying to meet a "serious subject matter" quota. Not here. It's all organic and serves a purpose. Every panel tells or shows. Each panel propels the story and characters forward.

I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats. MUCH better. Really though. I did laugh, I felt pity and anger and loads of admiration for this kid. He's got a little curmudgeon sprinkled into his temperament that I can relate to, but he's still likable. It's easy to put yourself in his shoes, too. Who didn't want to be having adventures like this when they were kids? And now you get to see someone actually live it out.

Every detail in the background and even the palette capture the setting to such a degree I wanted to watch a Western immediately after I finished reading Cow Boy. Short comics by the talented likes of Colleen Coover, Mike Maihack, and Roger Langridge break up the chapters. They're all Westerns, and the stories stand separate from Boyd's tale.

In the end, it comes to this: Cow Boy takes me to a happy place. I see it having that effect on about everyone who reads it.

Keep up with news on Cow Boy at Tumblr! You can also stalk the creators on Twitter: @NateCosBOOM @ChrisEliopoulos. Archaia will be releasing five issues of Cow Boy digitally in January, and a hardcover collection will follow in the spring.

crossposted at Geek Girls Network

Small Business Saturday Deals (of the nerdy variety)

Yesterday, shoppers went crazy (and occasionally became violent) over Black Friday deals. If you survived the fight for the cheapest KitchenAid mixer, consider using your spending power for good today. It's Small Business Saturday. These are the businesses that perhaps need the most support to keep going in today's not-always-awesome economy. And guess what? Creators are small businesses. Keep the people who make the stories and products you love going. It's one of the best gifts you can give.

Here's a list of creators, designers, etc having sales online today. Support them if you can!

just jenn designs - justJENN is offering free shipping all weekend on her stationery, comics, buttons, and more. Everyone needs "Thanks for nothing" cards and a "you're on my sh*tlist" notepad! Don't forget to check out her sweet O.G. comics.

Love and Capes - Thom Zahler is offering all 18 issues of his superhero, romantic comedy for $39.99 (normally $60) and an equally incredible deal on prints. If you've been thinking of checking out this comic or getting for someone, why wait? Offers only available today.

Cow Shell Graphics - Mike Maihack is offering 30% off everything, including books and prints! He's the genius behind Cleopatra in Space and has a huge selection of ridiculously endearing art, including Catvengers. Offer available all weekend.

Luxury Lane Soap - This is the place that has Han Solo in Carbonite soap, game controller soap, and all manner of nerdtastic, high-quality product. This weekend you can get free shipping, 20% off your entire order, and more. Complete list of deals here.

Dragon Chow Dice Bags - Been wanting to buy one of the BEST dice bags ever designed? (I'm not exaggerating). Now's the time, and you can share the love. Buy three dice bags this weekend, and get the fourth free.

Roburbia - Artist Adam Levermore has created a new world, Roburbia, and just released some holiday cards featuring the inhabitants. Get 25% off the cards by using the code "cybermonday" at checkout.

The Oatmeal - I mean, technically, The Oatmeal is still a small business. Through midnight get deals on shirts, prints, magnets, and pretty much everything. You are bound to make someone laugh if you give them a gift from The Oatmeal.

Team Unicorn - Support your favorite unicorns by purchasing a shirt, print, poster, or tattoo at their online store. If you spend more than $20, get 25% off by using the promo code "unicorn" at checkout.

Marissa Crafts - Free shipping for the weekend; get scarves, Doctor Who themed jewelry, or a Space Invaders barette!

Sparkle J - 15% off the entire store and there are Jayne hats! Just saying.

Domestic Goddess Enterprises - 10% off everything until Monday! She has recycled blue tooth and dice jewelry. Shiny.

Have a deal you want included? Comment here or hit me up on Twitter, and I'll add it!

November 12, 2011

What Was On My Shelf Before Superheroes

I feel like I've said this here a few times, but in case I haven't made it clear: I don't read a lot of superhero comics. In my five years or so of reading comics I've gone from reading almost none to reading a handful, mostly because of the DC New 52 and also because I fell for Captain America. That's a new development, just since August or so. When I tell this to people, the almost universal reaction (sometimes accompanied by a "something is surely wrong with you" look) is "what have you been reading?" I fumble to remember all the fantastic books on my shelf and rattle off a list of whatever books were most recently in my hands and heart. My faulty memory causes me to leave out a ton of great titles. I feel like I'm failing the person asking; sometimes it's a person just getting into comics who doesn't want to go the superhero route either or sometimes it's a strictly capes person who wants to branch out. And I'm forgetting fantastic stories. So I did the logical thing and took pictures and saved them on my phone (I may have also scanned every one of them into Goodreads).

This is only parts of three shelves. I'm in the midst of reorganizing, and this doesn't include the stacks of unread books and comics I have about my house (really, it's shameful). Some storybooks and sketch books are mixed in as well. All that aside, I still think there's plenty of representation of great indie stories and even mainstream ones that don't focus on superheroes.

It's obvious from these photos that I love Star Wars and anything published by Archaia. My love for that publisher began when I found Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 in a Barnes and Noble a few years ago. Their titles are always solid and as a bonus, always presented nicely. My two favorite stories from last year are both from Archaia: Return of the Dapper Men and The Killer. I also have graphic adaptations of books like Coraline, Stardust, and The Looking Glass Wars. 

I know, even more Star Wars. You're shocked. Click to zoom in on the rest though. You'll see V for Vendetta, the first comic I read (aside from some Muppet Babies stories when I was five and I mostly just colored in those instead of reading them). I have some Girl Genius, Love and Capes, Sandman, The Dark Tower, and Conan.

Fables and ElfQuest are two of my favorite series, and I have more them scattered around my house. If you like fairy tales, Fables is for you. If you like strong female characters and adventure drawn in a manga style, ElfQuest is fairly awesome.

Superheroes aren't taking the place of these treasures. Not even close. I see it as broadening my horizons. I'm learning comics history from them, too, by going back to read older titles. It doesn't mean I'll abandon indie comics, it just means I've made a little room in my heart for the big 2 and for capes. And that's okay.

crossposted at Geek Girls Network

November 9, 2011

For Carl Sagan's birthday

Today is Carl Sagan's birthday. He would have been 77. It makes me sad that he hasn't been around to see our knowledge about the universe grow in leaps and bounds since his passing in 1996. He would have had so much valuable insight and passion to offer... still, he gave us so much. Remember him today. Watch an episode of Cosmos (it's even available on Hulu), declare your percentage of star stuff, and embrace the unknown. Listen to the story of how he and Ann Druyen fell in love (it's incredibly romantic). Choose any option from this list.

Listen to his "Pale Blue Dot" essay; I dare you not to be moved:

Commemorate the day by looking at the sky. Realize we are small in comparison but also, that we are mighty because we go out and explore.

Happy Birthday, Carl Sagan.
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