Monday, 24 January 2011

Review: Everything Dies Issue 5, Box Brown

Box Brown | Grimalkin Press, 2011 | 38 pages, black and white | $5 | Available now

Feeling spiritually bereft lately? Is your theistic gas tank running on empty? Maybe you’re just a little curious about matters of death and the afterlife? Luckily for you, Box Brown has returned with a 5th issue of his religion-themed web-and-print series, Everything Dies, for loyal fans and newcomers to eat up like tasty, tasty communion wafers. 

For those unfamiliar with the series, a typical Everything Dies story functions like a Bizzaro version of one of Jack Chick’s infamous tracts. Whereas a Chick tract typically utilises the comic form to disseminate religious intolerance and manic evangelical stories of the satanic evils of homosexuality, evolution, and Dungeons & Dragons (seriously.), Everything Dies offers an educational and (largely) objective insight into various world religions via illustrated parables, real-life stories, and fictional narrative.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Video: Jess Smart Smiley's Dragon vs. Killer Whale


Although December is traditionally the time where Team ATF retreat into our cave and do little else but eat and play video games (and read comics, of course!), our festive plans were derailed as I contracted the nasty case of flu that was going around. Bed-ridden and reduced to a human husk, friend-of-the-blog Jess Smart Smiley decided to step in and cheer me up by taking on my challenge to draw a dragon fighting a killer whale.

As you can see from the video above, I don't think that it's any wonder that I went on to make a full recovery mere days later. As seen in our recent interview with him, Jess' is currently working on all manner of fun projects, not least of which is his all-ages Upside Down series, the first of which will be published by Top Shelf later this year. For more great drawings like the one above, we highly recommend visiting his website, or even adding him on Facebook. He'll be the best Facebook friend you'll ever have, honest!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Review: Baba Yaga and the Wolf, Tin Can Forest

Tin Can Forest | Koyama Press, 2010 | 28 pages, 23x30cm, full colour | $15 | ISBN 978-0-9784810-5-6

Although the arcane forest of Baba Yaga and the Wolf couldn’t be further from the prosaic streets of American Splendor, I couldn’t help but think of the late, great Harvey Pekar’s iconic defence of comic books whilst reading it: “you can do anything with words and pictures”. Tin Can Forest—the Toronto-based team of artists Marek Colek and Pat Shewchuk—obviously share the same conviction, embedding this classic Slavic folk-tale with new magic via their inspired use of graphic narrative.

Ostensibly a follow-up to Coleck and Shewchuk's 2008 collection, Pohádky (“folk tales” in Czetch), readers are presented with a world where the natural and supernatural coexist freely, and deals with the devil are part of the status quo. The story itself focuses on Katarina, a woman desperately seeking help in order to cure her fatally-ill husband, Ivan. Ivan, as it turns out, is a lycanthrope, a condition he contracted as a result of an occult body-switching fratricide he committed as a younger man. When things are this weird, who better to call than a witch? In this case, the best known witch of Eastern-European folklore, the Baba Yaga.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Featured Project: Luchadoras Translation

A defiant Alma surveys her fiancé's handiwork in Luchadoras

Currently, we’re excited to be aiding Blank Slate Books in bringing Peggy Adam’s French-language graphic novel, Luchadoras, to the English-speaking market. Due for release this February, it’s our honour to be acting as translation team, and be part of enabling the book to gain more much-deserved exposure amongst  readers.

Set in Mexico during the height of the Ciudad Juárez feminicidios, the book follows Alma, a victim of domestic abuse as she attempts to escape her abusive fiancé. First reading the book a couple of years ago, Judith and I were immediately won over by the care and precision with which the subjects of domestic violence, societal corruption, and misogyny are handled. Drawing attention the often disturbing, complex issues of the surrounding murders through the humanity of her characters, Luchadoras became a firm favourite of ours, and we jumped at the chance when Blank Slate boss-man Kenny Penman offered us the chance to translate it.

While Alma’s story is at the core of the graphic novel, the tragic, senseless killings affect every character in the comic. Throughout the book, Juárez’ dark side is revealed and the city itself becomes the personification of its problems. Appearing as an arid, inhuman entity that enables and perpetuates a hopeless cycle of brutality, it's a place where innocence is almost impossible; the police are plagued with corruption, maquiladora bosses are involved in unsettling kidnappings, and men are seemingly free to beat women as they please.

Without getting into spoilers, we believe the book is truly a graphic novel of substance that everyone—comic fan or not— should read. We’re thrilled to be involved in this project, and to be part of what looks like a marquee year for Blank Slate. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for more updates on Luchadoras, including upcoming interviews with Peggy Adam and Kenny Penman in the build up to the book’s February release. We can’t wait!

For more information on our involvement, head over to this article on the Blank Slate website. For those of you interested to find out more about the Juárez femicides, Amnesty International have several webpages and documents available to read. We recommend starting with this one.