Tag Archives: Warren Ellis

Graphic Novels: Batman and Robin, Gaiman and Girl Genius.

This is a Worldbuilders blog.

It’s only been a couple days, and the auction for Gaiman’s signed, numbered ARC of Stardust is already at $1000 bucks. This makes me happy for Worldbuilders and Heifer international. But at the same time I can hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth from frustrated fans as they see the book pulled farther and farther from their desperately grasping fingertips.

So today I’m putting something from my personal collection into the general prize pool for the lottery. It isn’t quite as cool as the rare ARC, but it does have certain glow of awesome to it.

Best of all, you don’t have to bid against collectors for this book. Everyone who donates on our Team Heifer page has a chance at winning it.

When I first read Stardust, I read it as a novel. It wasn’t until a year later that I learned the story was originally published as a graphic novel of sorts. I say “of sorts” because it’s not a comic so much as it’s an novel with gorgeous illustrations by Charles Vess.

For example:

This is a beautiful hardcover, signed by Gaiman himself. And while it might not be all rare and numbered and such, I’m going to include something else to bring the coolness up a little closer to the ARC.

Since Stardust is a story about a star that fell from the sky, I thought I’d include a piece of honest-to-goodness star-iron with this book.

You see, before I was a book geek, I was a rock geek. By which I mean I used to collect rocks.

While I’ve let most of that particular madness go, I do still collect meteorites. This is a piece from my personal collection. It’s a cut, etched section of the Gibbeon meteorite. One of the rarer types of meteorites, it’s composed almost entirely of nickel and iron.

This picture shows one of the cooler things about the Gibeon irons. There’s a pattern embedded in the iron that looks like frost. Except frost shows up when water freezes, and these marks show up when iron and nickel slowly cool over millions of years.

It’s called a Widmanstätten pattern. And it forms because the different alloys of nickel and iron cool at slightly different rates while the molten iron is in space. The effect can’t be duplicated on earth, so it only shows up in iron-nickel meteorites.

Each different meteorite fall has a different mix of iron and nickel, so they each have a slightly different pattern. In my opinion, the Gibeon’s is one of the coolest looking.

Okay, enough rock-geekery. Let’s get back to the book-geekery.

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This year, when I announced I was starting up Worldbuilders, several bookstores offered to donate to the fundraiser. Haven Comics contacted me and asked if I’d like to include some graphic novels in the mix this year.

“Yes,” I said. “Yes I would.”

“Do you have any suggestions?” they asked.

“Yes,” I said. “Yes I do.”

  • A copy of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller.

Because of a few comments I’ve made in the past some people think I don’t like Batman. But this simply isn’t true.

The Dark Knight Returns is the very first comic I read as an adult, and it sold me on graphic novels as a legitimate medium for storytelling. Before that I was kinda stupid because I thought comics were only for kids. Grown ups read novels, right?

Wrong. This story absolutely knocked me over and I recommend it to anyone, whether or not they enjoy superhero comics or whether or not they give a damn about Batman. It’s just a brilliant story.

One of the main problems with trying to get into comics these days is that so many comics are superhero comics.

Now that by itself isn’t bad. The problem is all those superheros have 40 or 50 years of backstory. That means picking a comic off the rack and trying to read it can be unpleasantly similar to starting Wheel of Time with book #9.

None of the comics we’re putting up on the blog today have that problem. You can pick them up, start reading, and understand the story even if you’ve never read a comic before in your whole life…

Simply said, Fables is one of the best mainstream comics being written today.

The main characters aren’t superheroes. They’re figures from folklore. You have Prince Charming, Little Red Riding Hood, Aladdin, Baba Yaga, and the Big Bad Wolf. The basic premise is that these characters have been forced from their native lands and are taking refuge in our mundane world.

Bill Willingham just does a marvelous job of bringing these characters together into huge overarching story that comes to beautiful fruition over about 10 issues.

Another brilliant Batman story arc that I’m rather fond of. It maintains one artist and one author through the entire arc which I always tend to prefer, as I believe it helps a story maintain its consistent feel.

“Jeph Loeb has crafted a story that is unique to the characters. It’s a complex murder mystery, but its also a Batman story… Buoyed by a film noir-ish plot that features a Gothic twist on the gangster/murder mystery plot, terrific character-based subplots, and beautiful, cinematic art, [The Long Halloween is] an addition to your collection that you won’t regret.” – Yannick Belzil of The 11th Hour

Many of you might remember the Sin City movie that came out a while ago. It was a fairly good flick, but as is usually the case, the original book was better.

Normally I don’t notice the art of a graphic novel very much. I just don’t have much of an eye for the graphic. I’m in it for the words and the story. But even I have to acknowledge that Miller’s art style in Sin City is striking and unlike anything you’ll see anywhere else. The story itself is dark and gritty. And it has one of my all-time favorite characters in it: Marv. Marv is lovable and dark and vicious in way I know I can never hope to pull off in my own writing.

We’re all heartbroken over Firefly going away. But Joss Whedon has managed to continue the story in a few graphic novels.

So if you’re like me, still weeping bitter tears about the cancellation of Firefly. You can read Those Left Behind and spend a little more time with the crew of Serenity. It’s not season two. But it’s good.

Zombies movies have been fashionable for good long while now.

The problem is, a zombie movie almost has to be an action flick. You only have an hour and a half to tell the story in a movie, and so the story ends up being plot-driven. How do we get out of the city? What caused this? How do we survive?

What’s cool about The Walking Dead is that it’s a longer story arc. That means you get to see the long-term psychological story of a society that has fallen apart because of a zombie apocalypse.

This story doesn’t focus on the characters running around saying, “oh my god! Why is this happening? How do we survive until the government saves us?”  Instead you see them surviving for years after the apocalypse, dealing the a broken society and their incredible emotional baggage. It’s a brilliant concept for a comic, wonderfully well-executed.

*     *     *

Once I started entering the comics that Haven sent in, I started thinking about some other comics that I wanted to mention to people. So here are a few of my personal favorites I’m kicking in to this year’s lottery.

Warren Ellis is one of my favorite comic authors. He’s written so many books I adore, but I think I like Transmetropolitan the best.

How can I describe this book…?

Okay. Imagine if Henry Rollins and John Stewart had a baby. Then that baby grew up and had a baby with Hunter S. Thomson. Then that baby grew up and had Tourettes. Transmetropolitan would be that kid’s favorite book.

Right, I’ll admit that’s a terrible analogy. But it kind of gets the point across, this book is insane and hugely fucking smart. I love its dystopian future and over-arching storyline.

And I totally want a pair of glasses like Spider Jerusalem.

Mike Carey is another favorite comic author of mine. He has a particular gift for bringing together unique and obscure mythologies in his stories.

Crossing Midnight is a particular favorite of mine because it brings subtle elements of eastern culture and folklore into the story. No no. Not ninja and samurai. There’s more to Japan than Ninja and samurai. I’m talking about cool folklore. Things you probably never heard of before…

  • A copy of Scud the Disposable Assassin by Rob Schrab.

I’ve been wanting to talk about this book for more than a year. It deserves an entire blog all to itself, full of gushy enthusiasm and lavish praise. I’ll try to give it the credit it deserves in just a couple paragraphs.

Those of you who were reading comics back around the early 90’s might remember Scud. It was absolutely different from any other comic out there. Frantic. Light-hearted. Irreverent. Sweet. Bizarre. Dark. Sarcastic. Touching.

Unfortunately in 1998 the comic published a cliffhanger and just… stopped. Really stopped. For years. For a decade.

Then, in 2008, the artist and writer, Rob Schrab came back to finish the story. Despite the fact that he’s all Hollywood famous now, he came back and finished the series. What’s more, he put such a lovely ending on it that I actually cried.

This is a gorgeous collection, and it includes the entire story arc. As it says in the title: Beginning, Middle, and End.

This is Joss Whedon. What else do I need to say? This comic actually made me give a damn about the X-Men despite the fact that I didn’t know anything much about them before I picked up the book.

So yeah. Joss Whedon. Brilliant.

*     *     *

These next few books were donated by artist Ray McCarthy. Turns out he’s a fan of Name of the Wind, and after checking out some of the titles he’s worked on, I’m a fan of his, too.

  • A copy of Batman: Contagion. Signed by illustrator Ray McCarthy.

This is one of the classic Batman storylines from back in the mid-90’s. A slew of great writers and illustrators collaborated on it, including Ray McCarthy who donated this book and has signed it.

  • Two copies of Catwoman and Vampirella by Chuck Dixon and illustrated by Ray McCarthy. Signed by the illustrator.

Part of me wants to feel guilty about looking at this cover for as long as I have, and the rest of me doesn’t care.

  • A set of Red Robin graphic novels . Collision signed by Ray McCarthy.

I’ll admit that this new series was completely off my radar until Ray brought it to my attention. But I picked it up and was immediately pulled in despite the fact that I’m not up-to-date on the current Batman storylines. Dynamic storytelling. Cool art.

  • Original Red Robin Art and matching comic from Ray McCarthy.

Lastly, Ray was cool enough to donate an original page of art from Red Robin #16.

To make sure this unique item ends up in the hands of someone who will love it properly, we’re putting it up for auction. Remember, the proceeds from the auctions go to support Worldbuilders and Heifer International.

You can bid on the Red Robin original art over here.

*     *     *

Two months ago I gushed about Girl Genius on the blog.

In that blog I professed my undying love for the series. I even went so far as to tell people that if they bought the first book on my recommendation and didn’t like it, I would buy the comic back from them.

Since then, people keep emailing me, wondering how many copies of the book I’ve had to buy back.

The answer: None. Not a single one.

Given my love for this series, I’m so excited to add this item to the mix today.

Phil and Kaja Foglio were cool enough to donate two full sets of Girl Genius to Worldbuilders this year. Both sets are signed by both Phil and Kaja.

One of these will be going into the general lottery so anyone can win it.

The other one we’re putting up for auction.

You can bid on the autographed set of Girl Genius over  here.

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Remember folks, for every 10 dollars you donate to Heifer International, you get a chance to win these books and hundreds of others like them.

In addition to that, Worldbuilders is matching 50% of all donations made on our Team Heifer page.

Matching donations and a chance to win cool swag. What more could you ask for? Go on. Do it. You know you want to.

To see the other books you can win, and other auctions Worldbuilders is running, you can head over to the main page HERE.

Posted in Neil Gaiman, recommendations, Worldbuilders 2010 | By Pat49 Responses
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