Wednesday, 1 January 2014

My 2014 Comic Resolutions and Plans

It's January the first, a brand new year, a clean slate, a chance to... oh, what the hell. Basically it's Wednesday and I have to remember to stop writing 2013 on things, but tradition has it that this is the time to make all sorts of promises to yourself and anyone willing to listen, many of which you'll never ever keep, but hey, why not?

So, in the spirit of tradition here are my new year's comic resolutions and plans for 2014

1) Don't miss any updates. - Okay, this is a pretty obvious one and also probably a bit of a tricky one. Commander Cottontail has updated every Monday and Thursday, and a few other days, since it launched. Even when the computer I use to create it was out of order it still updated. Okay, it was a guest comic, but it updated. Gilbert and the Grim Rabbit has a slightly more patchy history though. I'm going to try though. If my recent attempt at daily comics has taught me anything it's that I can produce more pages than I normally do and there's no reason I can't build up a buffer and then when I inevitably get ill again it shouldn't mean updates should stop. Shouldn't.

2) Put out two Gilbert and the Grim Rabbit books. - That's right. Two books in one year. One will be an expanded and improved version of the current chapter. The other will be an expanded and entirely redrawn version of the first chapter. Can I do it? Maybe, probably. I might not sleep properly for a couple of weeks here or there, but I think I can do it.

3) Update the Commander Cottontail blog with at least three out of four comic pages. - This one is less about getting more work out there and more about getting rid of the absolutely huge review pile that's slowly taking over the living room.

4) Replace the banners on the Gilbert and Grim website. - They're really out of date and the first thing people see when they go to the site. I really need to replace them.

5) Put out volumes one and two of Commander Cottontail. - I've already started tweaking and editing some of the first hundred pages for volume one and with the comic rapidly reaching page two hundred I should have both volumes one and two ready for download soon(ish).

6) Get a finished first draft for the post-apocalptic bunny comic done. - I'm working on the script for a post-apocalyptic bunny comic. It won't be drawn by me. No, I'm not telling you any more than that.

7) Complete at least one bit of pixel art every week. - I really want to do a pixel comic one day. I haven't exactly decided what it's going to be, but I do want to do one, so I'd better get some practice in.

8) Update the character profiles on - Seriously, they're as out of date as the banners.

9) Experiment with software more. - I have image edited software and 3D modelling software that I've barely ever used and I really, really want to fix that. I also have a tablet that I've barely used, so this year I need to spend a lot more time learning how to get the most out of the things.

And that's it. Those are my comic related resolutions and plans for the year ahead. How many of them will I manage? Who knows, but I'm going to do my best. Promise.

Not entirely broke after Christmas? How about a couple of comic anthologies at five dollars each?

Every now and then I trawl through the comic category on Kickstarter looking for cool looking comic projects with cheap digital tiers as a way of checking out new stuff I'd otherwise never have heard of. 

Of course anthologies are even better for this kind of thing because, well, you're getting up to a couple of dozen new things for the price of a cup of tea and a sandwich and how great is that?

There are three that caught my attention this time round.

First up, because it's finishing soonest, is Webcomic Underdogs: The Anthology, an anthology run by the people behind Webcomic Underdogs.

Five dollars will get you a 36 page digital collection from the creators of nine different webcomics, including Princess Chroma, which contains a talking bunny, because talking bunnies are awesome. Upgrade to eight dollars and if you're in the US you can get a print copy, thirteen if you're outside the US, because postage firms like to charge extra for shipping stuff internationally. Greedy gits.

Anyway, it's a neat looking project and five dollars isn't much, so go have a look at that one, check out some of the comics involved and maybe chuck them a bit of money.

Second is sci-fi anthology Imaginary Drugs, which features even more talking bunnies, though with a bit of a darker twist this time.

One single dollar will get you the PDF of one single story and five dollars will get you the full thing. With the stretch goals included (It's currently at just under double its original funding goal) that's over 60 pages of comics, which isn't bad at all.

Lastly there's Cautionary Fables and Fairy Tales: Africa Edition, a 200 page black and white collection of 16 African folktales, illustrated by 16 different artists.

As with the other two five dollars will get you the entire thing in digital format and looking at who's on board that is an absolute bargain even if there's no mention of any talking bunnies.

Twenty dollars will get you the print version and forty will get you the print versions of both this and the original Cautionary Fables and Fairy Tales, which is all about the European folktales.

All of these anthologies have between three and ten days left on them, so go and check them out whilst you've still got the chance to get them at this stupidly low price.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Ryan Estrada's new Kickstarter looks kind of awesome.

Ryan Estrada, that guy who I'm still not convinced is real, has started another Kickstarter campaign and it looks kind of awesome.

The idea? Broken Telephone, a set of eighteen comics, illustrated by eighteen different artists released at a rate of one every two weeks and all that it'll cost you to get them? One measly little dollar.

The eighteen stories are all connected with each character playing the role of protagonist in one comic and villain in another. Eighteen dollars will get you a nineteenth comic in the series and pay an extra six dollars on top and you get another five fortnightly comics drawn by Mr Estrada himself on top of that! Isn't that a bargain?

It really is.

There are even five $200 rewards where you can get the original art for one of those last five comics, two of which are already taken. That is amazingly cool.

So go throw a load of money at him, he'll give you a bunch of cool comics and everybody wins! It'll be brilliant. Trust me.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Comics I Read Last Week - Week 9

Welcome to the slightly belated ninth week of Comics I Read Last Week, the imaginatively titled blog feature where I talk about, well, comics I read last week.

Definition of a Dead Body
Jang Young (translated by Kim Hyun Sook and Ryan Estrada)

Definition of a Dead Body is one of the big digital pile of books I got as part of the last Whole Story bundle. It's strange, sad and sweet and one of those books I finish reading and just really don't know what to take away from it.

The book contains a few different stories which, unsurprisingly, are all about death in one way or another and also love and friendship and it's actually a really confusing book for me to write about.

All the stories in the book are related and connect together in way that might not seem obvious to start with.

The stories vary in style visually, using whatever works best for each situation, so you get pages like the one the image above is from, and yes that one is about a fish, and also pages that look like the one below.

So yeah, it's a weird comic. Good, but weird and I'm really not sure what to make of it. I plan on giving it another read sometime and see what I make of it then.

Plague!: The Musical
Ryan Estrada

The other Whole Story comic I read this week.

Plague!: The Musical is the shortest comic out of this week's lot, running at a tiny six pages. That's 17 panels and a title image. It's less a full musical and more a single song really, but I'll forgive him, because it is a really good little (emphasis on the little).

It's short, but it's good.

Tokyo Mew Mew volume 3
Mia Ikumi, Reiko Yoshida

Last week I talked about volumes one and two of Tokyo Mew Mew, so this week it's volume three. As I said last week, the plot is absurd. Aliens are trying to take over the world by turning animals into monsters and two strange men who own a cafe decided that a great way of combating this would be to zap the animals with the combined DNA of five different endangered species. It didn't really work out though, because an earthquake disrupted their experiment and they accidentally zapped five girls who just happened to be stood near each other somewhere close to the cafe and now they all have superpowers accessed by shouting seemingly random word combinations and transforming costumes and for the most part they do what the two strange men with the cafe tell them because, hey why not?

Oh and they all work at the cafe, even the rich one because, hey why not?

In this one we get to meet some more of the alines trying to conquer the planet, find out what's so special about this little spinning lump of rock and stuff and the Mew Mew's learn that they really shouldn't trust their strange bosses when a day off on a rediculously huge private boat turns out to be a mission in disguise.

Oh yes, and Ichigo turns into a cat.

One of the big problems this title has, the biggest problem in my opinion is that the people over at TokyoPop seem to have no idea what they're doing. Take these two images from the recap at the start of the book for example.

One of these characters is a hyperactive acrobat called Pudding and the other is a famous model. Somehow someone at TokyoPop got a bit confused about which one is which.

And then we have this panel only 18 pages in.

I think someone got a bit confused between what Ichigo there is saying and what's just going through her head. Either that or she's even weirder than she seems.

Anyway, if you can get over the occasional mistakes on the English language team's part and don't mind your comics being more than a bit daft then give it a go.

And that's all for this week. Yes, I promised some Daredevil too, but I've been kind of busy and didn't manage to finish reading it, so...

Come back next week for some Daredevil (finally), X-Files, The Beano, Book 1 of Pita-Ten and something else probably too.

Shopping centre fortune cookie review.

That's right. I'm reviewing fortune cookies. Fortune cookies given away free by a shopping centre,  specifically the Metrocentre (recently re-branded 'intu Metrocentre') in Gateshead.

That's in the North of England if you're wondering.

Anyway, we went in the other week and do you know what we spotted? An unmanned help desk with free fortune cookies on it! There were black, orange and silver packets. We took a black and an orange.

I opened the orange one and Jess opened the black one.

Here's a shocking fact for you: I had never had a fortune cookie before. So my first ever fortune cookie. Do you want to see what I got?

"A new wardrobe is near"

Is that it? Well, that's a bit... mundane. What about Jess's?

"You will see great things the shops"

Oh.... Okay, I see what they're doing there. That's a bit rubbish, isn't it? What makes it worse is that mine wasn't even true! 

You probably don't know this, but all those photos I do with the white backgrounds are actually shot on a large piece of card on my bed, because there's really good light there and this... a second-hand wardrobe. It's not even slightly new!

How rubbish is that?

Reminder: Jonathan Dalton has an awesome Kickstarter that needs your support.

You might have seen a blog post I made last month about a couple of cool Canadian comic Kickstarters that I was backing. Well, the first one Nelvana of the Northern Lights finished a while back with over double of its original goal and, which is awesome.

The other one  for Jonathan Dalton's A Mad Tea Party has still got a little way to go to meet it's goal and it's only got nine days left on it and I really, really want that book, so check out that link, check out the video below, check out his website and them maybe throw some money at him. 

The best two minute Christmas advert for a retail chain ever made.

The 2013 Christmas advert for John Lewis is brilliant, and not just because it has a hare (which is pretty close to being a bunny) in it.

It's sweet, it's well animated and it made me and Jess laugh the first time we saw it. Watch it. It's kind of brilliant.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Hey you, got a webcomic? Well, why haven't you signed up for the Secret Santa Exchange yet then?

I mentioned a while back that I was taking over the running of the Web Comic Secret Santa Exchange.

Well, the registrations are now open and there are currently thirteen participants signed up so far, which is good, but clearly not enough. We need more.

How many more?

As many as possible. That's how many!

Registrations for the exchange close on the 5th of December, so check it out because it's a great opportunity to test yourself with something a bit different, get some cool guest art or a comic page, discover new comics and make friends with people halfway across the world.

Click here and go check it out.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Comics I Read Last Week (and the one before) - Weeks 7 and 8

Due to a recent bit of internet downtime I ended up missing last week's Comics I Read Last Week, so there's a double entry this week. Starting with...

My Little Pony Micro-Series #5 - Pinkie Pie
Ted Anderson, Ben Bates, Bobby Curnow, Neil Uyetake, Sabrina Alberghetti

Yay Pinkie Pie! Issue five of the My Little Pony micro-series begins with Twilight happily reading away in the library while Spike does some dusting when suddenly... EARTHQUAKE!

Don't worry it's not really an earthquake, just a very excitable pink pony, resulting in what might well be one of the most adorable crash-landings in comic book history.

"I'd be angry with you for wrecking my house
right now, but you're being too damn cute."

Pinkie's won tickets to see Ponyacci, "the greatest clown in all Equestria". Pinkie Pie is one of his biggest fans. She even has a doll of him.

And I have a doll of her, obviously.

Of course life for Ponyacci is a little less than perfect these days and there is no way, no way at all that Pinkie is going to let that stand.

Don't worry, she finds a solution in the end.
It's an incredibly cute issue and well worth a read.

Tokyo Mew Mew volumes 1 and 2
Mia Ikumi, Reiko Yoshida

Tokyo Mew Mew is utterly absurd.

That's not necessarily a criticism you understand, but it is indeed utterly absurd. You see aliens are possessing normal animals and using them to attack people and the only logical defence against such an attack is zap animals with a dose of DNA from other, much more endangered animals because those endangered animals have a much stronger will to survive or something, but there was an accident and five girls who were in the next building over all separately attending an exhibition about endangered species got zapped instead, each one with the DNA of a different animal. This obviously gives them all super powers that include the ability to summon objects and transform their clothes into cute superhero outfits. The people responsible for the zapping are entirely aware of this and exactly how it all works despite it being a big old accident and nobody ever having done it before.

Make sense?

No? Didn't think so.

Ichigo Momomiya is the first of the girls to be tracked down by the people with the big DNA zapper and she's tasked with the job of tracking down the other four. She goes along with this plan, because... because she has no better ideas than the two men with the DNA zapper I guess.

Over the course of the first two books she tracks down the other members of her new superhero team and get themselves a funky name. Along the way there are couple of failed attempts at a date between Ichigo and her would be boyfriend and of course a few alien-animal-monster attacks.

The comic's fun, the art is good and whilst the story is utterly absurd it's well written and well translated. However, there are some really bad typos in the translated text including Ichigo's name early on in the first book and that's just terrible really.

You can also tell that the original version of the book must have had higher quality printing. There are little pieces in the books about the different endangered species and they're accompanied by photos which really don't reproduce that well in the Tokyopop version. That's a pretty minor complaint though and all of the other extras are really neat.

Once you accept the ridiculousness of the story it's a pretty enjoyable read.

Batman - The Collected Adventures Volume 1
Kelly Puckett, Martin Pasko, Ty Templeton, Brad Rader, Rick Burchett, Rick Taylor, Tim Harkins, Scott Peterson,

Batman: The Animated Series was an awesome show and The Batman Adventures is the best Batman comic series in the world ever, at least out of the ones I've read. Of course you might disagree with that statement which is perfectly fine. I mean, you'd probably be wrong, but it's totally fine. ^_^

This volume consists of the first six issues of the comic. The first three issues work well as standalones, but are really part of a bigger story. Issue one sees the Penguin receiving an unusual gift, a two way television set. The mysterious figure on the screen has a deal for the Penguin, one that will give him everything he's ever wanted. Exactly who this mysterious benefactor is doesn't stay a secret for very long.

The Joker's plan is brilliant, almost perfect in fact and the Penguin soon ends up both rich and honoured member of high society. It doesn't last though because Batman. Always Batman.

Issue two starts with Catwoman stealing jewellery on the way home just to end up giving it to one of her cats when she decides she doesn't like it. She's that kind of person, you know? She's also a recipient of another one of those special two way televisions. The plan this time? Steal the British crown jewels of course!

Usefully, Selina leaves a calling card and soon Batman is on his way London. Even more usefully, Bruce Wayne has a gallery in the tower of London named after his father. Of course he does.

Bruce is not threatening this man.

You'd think when trying to keep a secret identity it would be a good idea not to have both of your identities hop over to a foreign city at the same time and visit the exact same crime scene, but hey, what do I know?

Issue three finally reveals exactly what the Joker got out of these schemes and because he's a sucker for the classics it of course involves kidnapping Commissioner Gordon. You can never kidnap Gordon too many times. It just never gets old. We also learn in this issue that good old Harvey Dent and Sergeant Bullock do not got on.

Oh yeah, and there's some good old misdirection and a bit of Joker baseball bat swinging action.

Issues four and five deal with Scarecrow's plan to turn everyone illiterate as an act of  protest against the poor educational standards in Gotham. Nobody ever accused Scarecrow of being the most logical headed villain in DC's roster.

We also get the first appearance of of Robin in the comic and a nifty little cameo by Sandman's Cain and Able in a dream sequence. That's pretty cool.

Finally issue six starts with Bruce Wayne being questioned for murder. You see, he was at a posh party when a gun shot rang out from a locked room. Other party goers broke down the door only to find Wayne there checking the victim's body, which is kind of hard to explain.

Bruce has to be very careful about standing too close
to lamps in case his magic shadow gives him away.

Of course, Bruce Wayne of all people should have worked out how it was done a little bit quicker than he did, but there you go. It's still over pretty damn quick with the actual killer easily dealt with by the end of the issue.

All in all, a very good book, but then again it would be, wouldn't it? It is the best Batman comic series in the world ever out of the ones I've actually read, isn't it?

Beano 26th October 2013 and 2nd November 2013

Time for some Beano! Who can resist that?

The 26th of October issue starts with part one of a Dennis the Menace Zombie story. A strange fog has spread across Beano Town and people are acting a little weird, sort of undead weird. Dennis initially thinks his parents just want a hug, but Curly is surprisingly knowledgeable, which is a good thing considering the only solution Dennis can think of involves chainsaws.

Curly takes his zombies very seriously.

Unfortunately, Dennis isn't all that good a listener.

"Blah blah blah... Don't kill zombies. Yeah, whatever!"

The zombie story also finds it's way into another couple of strips. Gnasher has to deal with some zombie cats and Bananaman gets attacked by some Trick or Treaters before a second lot of Dennis comics at the end tidies it all up. I really wasn't expecting that ending.

Zombie Pink-shirt confirming what we've all known for years.

The Dennis story in the other issue deals with him trying to get his trademark stripy jumper back from Dynamo (the magician guy off the telly) following a bit of street magic. Dennis tries to recruit his friend and minion Pieface into his jumper related revenge mission, but unlike Curly he's not all that bright when it comes to... Well, he's not all that bright when it comes to much, not even recognising one of his best friends if he's wearing a different outfit. Luckily for Dennis, the very similarly dressed, and not in any way a female version of himself, Minnie the Minx happens to be passing by leading to my favourite three panels out of the whole of the two issues.

I might have to use that last panel again somewhere.

Yeah, I wouldn't look very impressed either.

Whilst I'm a big fan of the old look Roger the Dodger I've got to admit Jamie Smart's Roger the Dodger, or Roger Ze Dodger in the Halloween issue, is pretty damn awesome in it's own right. Jamie's art is just so insanely adorable.

Also, Mrs. Wobblybottom has the best name ever.

I mean, how cute is that?
In the non-Halloween issue Roger's plans to go to the cinema are foiled by his mum and her friend also going to the cinema leaving poor old Roger to babysit three year old Alice. He has a plan though! All he has to do is convince the cinema that the film they want to see has been pulled and then he won't have to babysit. Brilliant! It's pretty hard to make prank calls with a whiny three year old going on at you.

No way in any reality could this ever end well.

Mr. Smart can somehow even make an image of a character farting at someone look adorable as demonstrated by this panel from the other issue.

What a cute little farty vampire.


Some other characters that have had a bit of a revamp in recent times are the Numskulls. The Numskulls were created way back in 1962 for the Beezer and for a long time their basic designs didn't change that much. Here's a convenient image from a 1975 annual I talked about back in week two.

Here's what they look like in the copy of The Beano I picked up on Saturday.

They look a little bit different. Another thing that's changed over the years is that they tend to appear in the head's of celebrities these days as opposed to the man whose head they originally occupied or the boy who replaced him. I've got to admit I'm not a huge fan of the amount of celebrity cameos the comic gets these days, but I do have to say that is a great picture of Bruce Forsyth there. (The other guy's Dave Myers. He's a TV chef and a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing. It's a pretty good likeness.

Calamity James on the other hand? I swear this panel looks like it could have been in an issue from the 90s.

The concept of Calamity James is pretty simple. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong and it'll be James that it goes wrong for. You'd think that would get old pretty quickly, but it doesn't.

Other strips include Billy Whizz, the fastest boy on earth currently having a race around the world with his cousin Billie. In the first of the two issues the stretch of the race is through Transylvania of course. The second has them passing through the desert, with a cameo from Dennis's arch-nemesis Walter.

So yeah, The Beano. Lots of fun and only £2 an issue. Go pick one up!

Howard Hardimann

Next up here's one I got at The UK Web and Mini Comix Thing, back before it's unfortunate demise. Badger follows a couple of days in the life of an unnamed badger living in a South London flat. It's an entirely silent comic drawn in a soft, sketchy, monochrome style.

The website on the back of the book is and it's pretty suitable (though out of date - you'll have to go to to check out his work these days). It is a sad little comic and also an adorable one, particularly when the other badgers appear. Yeah, it's a sad little comic and a strange little comic, but a brilliant one all the same.

You can buy all 52 pages of it here if you have £7 to spare.

Calvin and Hobbes - Sunday Pages 1985-1995
Bill Watterson

What on earth can I say about Calvin and Hobbes? For this one I think I'll stick to writing about the book itself. It's actually an exhibition catalogue to accompany a show that ran in late 2001 and 2002 and features a selection of the Sunday strips (which is kind of obvious from the title really).

It's a nice big 24cm x 27.5cm volume and features every strip twice, most of them with a little bit of explanation about the process involved or decisions he made or how much of a pain newspaper editors were back in the early days. As well as the full finished final comic there's the original inks, complete with editors' notes, layout marks, the remains of pencil lines, overlays and patches of correction fluid.

This probably mark me out as a complete and utter geek, but I love that kind of stuff. I'm the person who browses the original comic pages section of eBay just to look at all the construction lines and corrections on pages by famous cartoonists. It's fascinating to me to see all the work that went in to page.

(Also, it makes me feel slightly better about myself to realise that people like Bill Watterson also go back and completely erase a character's face and start again from scratch, but forget I said that, okay?)

Anyway, it's a fascinating read and you should check it out if you can. Also, if you're one of those rare people who like comics and have never actually read any Calvin and Hobbes then it's a brilliant place to start because the Sunday strips really are great.

Coming up next week: Definition of a Dead Body by Jang Young, Plague!: The Musical by Ryan Estrada, more Tokyo Mew Mew, a bit of Daredevil and who knows what else? It depends what I feel like reading later.


Thursday, 24 October 2013

Comics I Read Last Week - Week 6

Welcome to week six of Comics I Read Last Week, the weekly feature where I talk about comics I read last week. Pretty obvious really. It's supposed to go up on a Wednesday, but sometimes stuff happens. Stuff happened this week and that's why this one's going up on a Thursday.

Stuff happens way too often.

Anything That Loves
Charles “Zan” Christensen, Adam Pruett, Agnes Czaja, Alex Dahm, Amy T. Falcone, Ashley Cook & Caroline Hobbs, Bill Roundy, Ellen Forney, Erika Moen, Jason A. Quest, Jason Thompson, John Lustig, Jon Macy, Josh Trujillo & Dave Valeza, Kate Leth, Kevin Boze, Leanne Franson, Leia Weathington, Lena H. Chandhok, Margreet de Heer, MariNaomi, Maurice Vellekoop, Melaina, Nick Leonard, Powflip, Randall Kirby, Roberta Gregory, Sam Orchard, Sam Saturday, Stasia Burrington, Steve Orlando, Tania Walker, Tara Madison Avery, Mike Sullivan.

It's a good thing the page for Anything That Loves on Northwest Press's website had that list of contributors on it, because I did not fancy typing all those names out myself.

This is how that page describes the book:
From confessional, personal accounts to erotic flights of fancy to undersea identity politics, this collection of comics invites the reader to step outside of the categories and explore the wild and wonderful uncharted territory between “gay” and “straight”.

Yeah, so that.

This is another one I grabbed in digital form on Kickstarter for the massive sum of ten dollars, which is actually one cent more than it currently costs to get a digital copy of it. I feel ever so slightly cheated, but only slightly.

There are two reasons I decided to back this anthology. One is Sam Orchard. The other is Erika Moen. I'm a big fan of both of them.
With both of them on board there was no way I wasn't going to pick this up.
Obviously, being fans of theirs already, their work was some of the highlights of the book for me, but other things that really stood out in a very good way included Kate Leth's illustrated lessons (her art style is adorable), Ashley Cook and Caroline Hobbs' tale about merpeople and humans and Lena H. Chandhok's 'Comics Made Me Queer'. That's the comic I grabbed those five panels down below this paragraph from if you're wondering.
Kevin Boze's Platypus is another good one. The last panel (which I cut off along with the preceding four because I'm evil) made me smile.
I really enjoyed Minnie, an ongoing series by Margreet de Heer and there's a full ten pages of that, so that's pretty cool.
There's a neat nine page story by Leia Wethington called Bedfellows. That was definitely another high point and Roberta Gregory's history of her career in comics is a must, whether or not you've ever read anything else by her.
Finally, Amy T. Falcone's conversation with her younger self is kind of brilliant.
There are some other really good comics as well and some that I didn't enjoy quite so much, but overall I think it was ten dollars well spent and I'd definitely suggest that other people check it out too.

Goats: Infinite Typewriters
Jonathan Rosenberg

Goats is a now discontinued webcomic by Mr Jonathan Rosenberg, him who now writes and draws Scenes from a Multiverse. You should click that link and check it out, because it's very good. It is. Really, go open that up in another tab to read after you finish this blog entry.

Infinite Typewriters is the first volume of the Infinite Pendergast Cycle (whatever that is) and the first colour volume of Goats. The comic starts with a Thor worshipping goat having a theological debate with a Satanist chicken. That's about the time the bug-eyed grey aliens point out that people on their planet worship pancakes and then the chicken goes and conveniently explains the previous plotline.
Shortly after that an atheist and an agnostic have a fight about how sure they can be of the non-existence of God,  so  they take the ship belonging to the aforementioned bug-eyed grey aliens and go visit him for answers.

After that it starts getting weird.
There' a hiking trip to creepy abandoned town, an incident at a comic con, a bit of dimension hopping,  multiple Hitlers, some pope outfits and some murders. There's a couple of those.
Oh yes, and the chicken's engineered himself a son who may well be the most dangerous thing in the universe.
It's a good read, but not for the easily offended or the religious and moderately easily offended, but if you don't think that describes you and you like your comics on the wacky side then check it out. It's only $9 from the website and that's not bad for 171 pages of entertaining nonsense. Also if you decide not to read it you'll never know what on earth this panel's about, will you?

Battle Angel Alita Volume 1
Yukito Kishiro

I finally found my missing copy of this on Sunday. I actually started this the week before last, read about twenty pages and then misplaced it for a week and a half. I do stuff like that on an unfortunately regular basis.

The story starts with a man named Daisuke Iko poking around on a scrap heap when he finds the head and partial torso of a very old cyborg. Surprisingly there's still a brain inside and despite being such a wreck it's what's left of the body is still keeping it alive. Iko takes her home, fixes her up and when it turns out she can't remember a thing about her life he names her Alita after his recently deceased cat. As you do.

Battle Angel Alita is, as you might guess from the title a little bit on the violent side. When I say a little bit I mean there are exploding heads and people having limbs ripped off. Okay, those limbs are usually robotic, but you know, it's still not pleasant and quite a few people die.

There's also a baby rescuing dog, which is nice.

There's a weird thing, which I've noticed in anime before of huge characters getting bigger or smaller depending on the page. A character can be nine foot tall one moment, thirty feet the next and twelve feet in the scene after that. Volume one of Battle Angel Alita has that with the main villain. It's weird. I kind of get it, but it's still weird.

Other than that it's pretty good.

Jazz and Jess: Memory Lost
Nate Hammond

Jazz and Jess is probably the longest running, non-defunct zombie webcomic in the whole entire universe. The site is unfortunately down at the moment. Hopefully it'll be back by the time you read this though, so try clicking the link anyway.

Memory Lost is a 12 page prequel comic that doesn't feature any zombies, but does feature Jess, Jazz, a cat and Jazz's imaginary friend, Evil Jazz.
His imaginary friend is a bit weird.

Jazz and Jess is a neat, unique looking comic and worth checking out. The prequel comic's only a pound as well, so well worth picking up if you enjoy the main comic (when it's back up).

Secret Origins Special #1
Neil Gaiman, Mike Hoffman, Kevin Nowlan, Mark Verheiden, Mark Waid, Todd Klein, Pat Broderick, Tom McCraw, Alan Grant, Sam Kieth, Albert DeGuzman, Joe Matt, Bem 89, Augustin Mas, Dick Giordano, Matt Wagner,

Here' one I've got to have read at least half a dozen times now. Released back in 1989, DC's Secret Origins Special is a pretty funky comic. Coming in at 53 pages excluding ads it consists of three individual stories wrapped in the larger story penned by Neil Gaiman about a TV film crew making a program about the costumed villains of Gotham.

The first couple of pages concern Batman trying to warn off the guy in charge. This of course fails. It would have been a really short comic if it didn't.

He wants to get the Joker on camera to give his story. Being a wanted serial killer though he's a little difficulte to find. In fact everyone's a little difficult to find. That is, everyone other than Scarecrow who will only do the show if his segment can be a lecture titled "The Human Fight-or-Flight response re-evaluated  when viewed as intrinsic to theatrical badinage, with specific reference to the latter plays of William Congreve (1670-1729)". For some crazy reason they decline his offer. They've also been banned from Arkham, so things aren't looking too great for them.

The only people they can find to see them throughout the whole thing are a former lackey of the Penguin called Knuckles, Two-Face's wife Grace Dent and some guy they've never heard of who just got out of prison and goes by the name of Eddie Nigma whoever that is.
First up is the interview with Knuckles. This section's written by Alan Grant and is the story of the time Penguin kidnapped a thug during a prison transfer and how it relates to how he became the bitter, hateful and downright dangerous individual he is today and despite what a certain movie might tell you it has nothing to do with being abandoned as a baby and left to be raised by penguins in an abandoned zoo where someone forgot to take the animals with them and yet they somehow managed not to starve to death or maybe it was clowns. Clowns in an abandoned zoo? Clowns need feeding too, right? It's been a while since I've seen it. I might not be remembering it right.

Next up is Gaiman's Riddler story. Nigma, who won't confirm whether or not that's really his name, has been out of jail for a year and is now a reformed character, holding down a regular job as caretaker of Finger Yard, the final resting place of all those wacky giant props and that's where he wants to do his interview.

Of course exactly how reformed he really is, well, that's a matter of opinion. Dressing up in his old costume and reminiscing about the good old days doesn't necessarily bode well. There's a fantastic bit in his interview where he talks fondly about the various villains that were around back in his day. It was all fun and games back then. People didn't get killed by their antics. It was all a bit ridiculous, a bit harmless. It's as much the musings of a fan wondering where the comics he used to enjoy are as anything else. As he says "Did I miss something? Was I away when they changed the rules?"

Next up is Grace Dent's story written by Mark Verheiden where we find out about the time a villain put away by good old district attorney Harvey Dent comes back for revenge after years in self-imposed solitary confinement and bites off slightly more than he expected when he decides to go through Grace to do it. You've got to feel sorry for Grace, still living in the home that the two of them moved into together, still hoping and believing that Harvey will get better and come back one day.

Finally, the issue wrap up with the end of the show and a bit of street reporting, asking various passers by in Gotham what they think about the costumed loonies, including a certain cigarette smoking, blond haired, trench-coat wearing English tourist. Of course there's also a bit of a twist at the end, but I won't spoil it.

Come back next Wednesday where I'll be talking about ponies, magical girls, a badger, a cursed fox and more Batman.