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Sonia Harris | Writing About Comic Books

Committed: 3 New Books About Amazing Teens - Moonhead, Street Angel, & The Shadow Hero

With Comic-Con International beginning today, I thought I’d recommend a few new books for you to look out for, specifically Moonhead and the Music Machine by Andrew Rae, Street Angel by Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca, and The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew. These are all books which might appeal to new comic book readers, so if you’re attending the convention you might consider bringing one back as a gift to get your loved ones excited about the medium… Or if you’re stuck at home, these should impart a little of the variety and excitement in new comic books coming out now.

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Committed: Wolverine Wouldn’t Wax

As much as I enjoyed the last X-Men film (Days of Future Past), when Wolverine jumped out of bed in the 1970’s, his entirely hairless body came as something of a shock. Naturally I was happy enough to get a look at Wolverine’s bottom (seems fair, we see enough girl-butt in movies), but I found his complete lack of body hair incongruous, to say the least.

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Committed: William Wray’s “Fortress of Delusion”

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Last week I went to see the opening of an exhibition of William Wray’s paintings. Having a passing acquaintance with his wild cartoon style I wasn’t sure what to expect, and the last thing I anticipated was a deeply touching commentary on the human condition through the medium of the California landscape and popular American superheroes.

William Wray’s paints portraits of superheroes in the context of the real world. They are heartbreakingly human, depicted in simple moments looking lost, alone, and bone-tired. Whether slouched in a corner or simply walking down a dilapidated street, Wray’s superheroes are anything but super, their bright suits standing out garishly against the faded colors of their surroundings. His perverse sense of humor and affection for the subject matter allows Wray to depict this pathos without it becoming unbearable to look at, it is as if he has taken the sting out of the reality he is forcing us to acknowledge.

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Here are the results of last week’s survey and thank you all for taking part, I do know how silly it was but I had fun designing the results. Overall the votes were kind of an avalanche, (I guess you know what you like), and the only interesting thing I’d note is how divided opinions were on who the worst superhero casting was, it seems like everyone has someone they love to hate!

Originally published here.

Committed: Survey - Vote for the Best & Worst Super Hero / Villain Movie Casting

This weekend I got together with a group of old friends and asked which superhero had been cast most egregiously, and which were the best embodiment of the heroes and villains depicted. The impassioned discussion went on all evening, everyone had their own nominations for the title but no one was able to agree, and so Im opening the voting up for you. We put together our 15 top choices (in no particular order) for the best superhero casting, best super villain casting, worst superhero casting, and worst super villain casting. Please choose and rank your top three choices out of each of the four sections.

Take the quick, 4 question survey here https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/XYDPPQT and please share it with your friends!

Note: The rules we came up with are as follows;

  1. We only considered actors in live-action superhero movies (as opposed to television specials or cartoons).
  2. The only movies which count are ones which have been made and released (rather than movies which were cast but then never actually produced, or movies which haven’t been released yet, even though there are some juicy ones coming).
  3. And finally, this is only choosing the best and worst superhero and super villain casting choices (because if we expand this to cover all of the casting in superhero movies this survey would never be finished).

Check Comics Should Be Good in a week or two I’ll post the results.

Originally published here.

Committed: Guest Costume Designers on Burn the Orphanage

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As regular readers will know, I’ve long been a proponent of super heroic fashions. So I was excited to hear that Sina Grace was inviting guest artists Kris Anka, W. Scott Forbes, Fiona Staples, and Ming Doyle to design new costumes for the women of his comic Burn the Orphanage. I jumped on the chance to get a sneak peek at those outfits (appearing in the July 3rd issue) and thought you’d probably like a look too. But before we get  to the artwork, Grace opened up about the process behind the restyling.

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Committed: Finding New Superheroes in Carey & Casagrande’s Suicide Risk

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Ever since the “new 52 thing” happened a couple of years ago I felt a bit squeezed out of reading the superhero titles which I used to enjoy. It just wasn’t a good transition for me and as things progressed I moved further and further away from DC and Marvel until the only superhero comic books I was reading were Hawkeye and Daredevil. But no matter how disenfranchised I felt, I have always been drawn to the concept of superheroes and I was still jonesing for some super powered action, so I went to the comic shop just to see what was out there about superheroes from different publishers…

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Committed: 8 of my Favorite Surrealist Authors

Recently I’ve been revisiting the surrealist comic book authors who have successfully conveyed the kind of disruption of reality which I experience in dreams. I want to pinpoint the ways in which they have been able to successfully communicate and provoke a kind of emotional dissonance with their work.

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Neil Gaiman (and by extension, artist Dave McKean) immediately comes to mind, specifically on his long-running and groundbreaking series; The Sandman, but also in works like Black Orchid and The Books of Magic. In many ways this is the most linear representation of  truly surreal environments that I can think of. He provides us with entire universes of insane, nonsensical, mythical imagery and logic, but he presents each story in a very direct, linear manner. His way of telling a story in this context is very much like a fairytale, with one event leading inevitably to the next, it is deceptively comfortable, almost hiding the craziness inside. When he does move the storyline towards something more evocative of chaos (i.e. towards the end of the books) he still lays all of the elements out carefully so that by the end the reader can happily piece together a logical continuity (that is to say it is logical within the context of the universe he has created).

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Committed: Edmondson & Sampson’s Genesis, Swamp Thing, and the meaning of life.

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Genesis, by Nathan Edmondson, Alison Sampson, and Jason Wordie came out a few weeks ago. A rare one-shot comic book, it tells the story of a man who craves the ultimate power to create, control, and alter his reality. Upon receiving this gift he quickly begins to see that without limits, he will quickly begins to lose touch with the very substance of all life.

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Committed: Fun at WonderCon

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Last weekend I attended WonderCon in Anaheim and took a few photos. Nothing like previous years (regular readers know I can get a little nuts taking photos), but I wanted to take my time experiencing the convention and documenting that as simply as possible. Here are some key things which stood out for me (and as always, you can enlarge each photo by clicking on it):

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Committed: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

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Growing up I was lucky, unlike most British children I had a lot of access to a broad variety of comic books. My mum and dad (practically still kid themselves at the time) left all kinds around the house; There were the comic books specifically for me, like Dandy and The Beano (which my dad would read too), then there were American superhero comic books my parents bought because of their interest in Pop Art (which I would read too), there were Peanuts paperbacks (which my mum brought over from America and I read them insatiably), and later there were all sorts of weird, so-called “head comix” (which I wasn’t supposed to read, but I still did… Robert Crumb might draw some crazy stuff, but he draws it well). Like Obelix from the French Asterix books (which I discovered in my parents’ friends’ houses when we drove all over Europe), I fell into a proverbial cauldron as a baby and so I grew up with comic books as part of me.

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Committed: Interviewing Jason McNamara about The Rattler

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Jason McNamara and Greg Hinkle have produced a strange comic book about a man on a mission. One dark night on a lost highway, a man loses everything. Decades later he finds it, and loses himself in the process.

In many ways the story and mood of The Rattler is one of a classic ‘70’s horror movie feel, strongly tempered by McNamara’s characteristically bleak sense of humor. In mood I think it’s something like the movie “Cabin in the Woods”, but with more explicit sex and meaner jokes (if you can imagine such a thing).

Jason McNamara offered to answer a few impolite questions for me and so I took the opportunity to try and find out why on earth he’s doing this.

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Committed: My Top 10 Weird Biographical Comics

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1. Buddha
By Osamu Tezuka
Published by Vertical Inc.
In this adorably affectionate biography, Tezuka turns his talent for story telling to the tale of the Buddha. While he may not be a Buddhist, Tezuka own body of literature has proven him to be a great explorer of the interior world and an aficionado of human transformation and growth. Over the course of eight beautiful volumes, Tezuka takes us on the fantastical journey of Buddha’s life, lending it his characteristic almost Disney-esque flair, complete with enchanted animals and gorgeous scenery. Using every elegant permutation of panel layout and his mutable style, the transformative adventures of Buddha are dramatized with flair and joy. Absolutely enthralling, this has to be one of the most entertaining depictions of an enlightened being the world has ever seen.

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Committed: Pullist, with Vincent Iadevaia

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MyPullist.com is a monthly curated comic book service where people can subscribe to receive a mystery graphic novel each month. I first heard about this when one of the four founders of Pullist, developer and designer Vincent Iadevaia, contacted me to be the curator for April. So we ate lunch together and Vincent told me more about this clever new service.

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