Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Year ! and some S.T.R.A.F.E.

Finally 2012 has come and I want to wish all my readers a Happy New Year. I hope you survived the holidays in good condition and for those who do not have to work the next days ( I have to - bummer ) relaxing holidays.

I spent the last few days on which I didn´t work watching season 4 of DR. WHO since I had started while waiting for this year´s Christmas special. Now I could have watched it already BUT I wanted to see how the 4th season ends and I must say, BEST SERIES EVER. They really put out all the stops on this one so if you still don´t watch DR. WHO - shame on you.

I´m going to watch the special in a few minutes ( more like an hour knowing how long it takes to even do these short posts ) but I wanted to put a shoutout to my readers on the blog first. There haven´t been many posts last month but I hope to do more this month.

Of course I want to thank my longtime readers for sticking with me ( as TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN is now going for 7 years ) but I also want to greet all the newbies who just found the blog this year or Today. You´re all welcome and if you like what you read spread the word. Speaking of new and blog I want to give a warm " Welcome back ! " to fellow blogger Kitty Pryde whose blog I´D LOVE TO STAY HERE AND BE NORMAL has finally returned from a long hiatus. I haven´t read all new entries yet but that´s because the font size borders on the microscopic. So kudos, and keep blogging.

Since everybody and their dog is doing a best of 2011 list and last year I only posted other lists ( which I may be doing in one of the next posts ) I wanted to do my own version. I have always been a fan of COMIC SHOP NEWS Red K Awards and so I´m giving out my own version of an award. Being broke there is of course no money involved but the honor of being nominated is everything that counts - right ?

First I wanted to call them Outstanding Honored Recipiants For Excellence In Graphic Entertainment or short OHRFEIGE, but that was just too long. So instead I´ll go with Subzero´s Totally Random Awards For Excellence or short STRAFE. Okay, maybe that´s not so lucky but until I can come up with a better name that´s it.


This STRAFE goes to the spanish edition of Marv Wolfman and George Perez Teen Titans CLASSICOS DC - NUEVOS TITANES. Not only are these some of the best comics ever written but the 500 page hardcovers are just beautiful to read and re - read, which you will do. Trust me.

True, I can´t say how they compare to DC´s newly released OMNIBUS but at 35 EUROS they only cost half as much and are at least affordable for the regular comic reader. Planeta has now lost the rights to DC but they went out in style and gave comic readers ( at least the ones fluent in spanish ) a big present.


Again we enter titans territory. Longtime fans of George Perez or the Titans have of course heard of the unfinished GAMES graphic novel. Long since has the story become one of many urban comic legends until it miraculously resurfaced as an actual comic project that is once again coming out. I have mentioned it a few times and I bought it as soon as it came out. But I didn´t read it right away. There are some comics, special ones, where I like to wait for a quiet moment and the right alignment of the stars to read it so I can give it my full attention.

The way last year had been going there was always something else to keep me occupied but this week I finally read it. Because if I was going to read one last comic in 2011 it had to be NEW TEEN TITANS - GAMES.

And let me tell you, it holds up to all the expectations you may have and more. I´m feeling a bit uncomfortable with these expressions but if the word " nerdgasm " has ever had any raison d'être ( pardon my french ) it´s to describe this comic. In one of the ads the graphic novel is called a swan song for the Teen Titans and I couldn´t phrase it better. George Perez´art is the best it´s ever been and reading Marv Wolfman´s words is like it´s only been a few weeks and not twentysomething years since he last wrote a Titans book. It´s seems that sometimes you CAN go home again.

The only negative thing I can say about it - but which I already predicted before reading it - is that it makes you painfully aware how low the TEEN TITANS have sunk since then. Which brings us to :


I´d like to say that the pre - new 52 TEEN TITANS comic was really that good, but to tell you the truth the last 6 issues of that run are still lying in my box at the comicshop and that alone should tell you everything there is to know. Too many changes in the writing departement, too many changes in the art departement and really, after Eddy Barrows left there hasn´t been anybody nearly as good on the book.

Adding to that the fiasko of the new incarnation of the book it should be no surprise that the best Teen Titans related comic right now is TINY TITANS by Art Baltazar and Franco. Aw yeah, Titans !

Every issue is funny, witty and can even be enjoyed by new readers who don´t understand all the in - jokes. This is something you can read with your kids and I especially like the " theme " issues like the " all redhead " issue or the " all Batgirls " issue. Highest recommendation.


I know it was technically published in 2010 and was on most Best Of lists in 2011 but since I only read it last year ( and I still haven´t gotten around to get CONGRESS OF THE ANIMALS ) Jim Woodring´s fantastic comic parable WEATHERCRAFT wins this category.

Back when I started reading american comics I probably never would have thought that one of the best comics I would read in the future would have no superheroes, be in black and white and have no words. But that´s the beauty of Jim Woodring´s FRANK series. He has his own way of telling ..... well, what exactly ? It´s not really a story as there is no narrator and the reader takes more the role of a spectator who is just a witness to certain happenings and has to come to his conclusions of his own.

If the events are real or taking place on a higher plane of existence - who knows ? If there is any logic to the comics it more closely resembles dream logic and so it is rather difficult to categorize the comics.

The only thing that is for sure is the feeling of spiritual enrichment you have after reading them. Comics for the mind, body and soul, beautifully drawn, printed in lush hardcovers by Fantagraphics all this without words. I guess that´s why everybody loves Jim Woodring´s comics.

click here for the weathercraft review on comics alliance


Ever since Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons gamechanging WATCHMEN comic came out everybody has been waiting for the " next Watchmen " and there have also been a few who have been given that title. So far there have been none who really have come close - at least in my opinion - and I´m not sure if that´s even possible. WATCHMEN has had such a profound impact not only because of the great story, the great art, the big scope which it takes, the complexity and layers upon layers of story and meaning but also because of the time it came out. And because it was groundbreaking and a gamechanger. And that´s where the dilemma is. Once you have broken new ground you can´t un - break it again and then break it for a second time. What´s done is done. So most attempts to recreate such an experience are doomed to failure from the start.

Which is the reason why THE BULLETPROOF COFFIN by David Hine and Shaky Kane came totally out of left field for me. I hadn´t read any announcements, the covers I had seen didn´t really inspire me to run out and buy the comic and apart from an enthustiastic write - up on fellow blog COMICBITS ONLINE I never heard of it.

Now since I trust Terry Hooper´s taste in comics and because it was described as " a must read for fans of comics, superheroes, rayguns, dinosaurs, or pop culture or any combination of it " I ordered the trade and was totally overwhelmed by it. The comic is not like WATCHMEN in the sense that it is not a deconstruction of superheroes but it does manage to show you what really is possible in a comicbook. Comics like these only come around every decade.

I don´t want to spoiler anything but you will start to question things about comic convictions you believe to be true, you will change your thinking about real life and reality as this comic crosses over to the real world and even involves timetravel. No joke. The story is brilliant and even the art that didn´t impress me at first is totally point on. I don´t know if any other artist could have pulled it off. As the sequel begins this year it´s not too late to get this comic and remember rule number one : The Doctor lies.


This is a no - brainer as Stan Sakai´s USAGI YOJIMBO has now entered it´s 25th year of publication. The black and white samurai saga is still going on strong with stories going from ghost stories to murder mysteries to moral plays to funny comedy as well as everything inbetween.

With a brush stroke that looks really simple while being anything but, Stan Sakai does epic as well as small world stuff depicting everyday medivial Japan and the human spectrum of emotions in funny animal characters that will make you laugh, shout and cry. This is better than any history book and far more entertaining. It´s a series everybody should be reading and it´s going to be on my pull list as long as it lasts.


Savage Dragon is dead. This is a sentence you can read in a lot of issues of SAVAGE DRAGON written, penciled and inked by creator Erik Larsen.

And not because they like to remind readers of it but because it happens again and again and again. I don´t know if Dragon is just an especially tenacious character but he just won´t stay dead. He really gets more mileage out of his recuperation powers than Wolverine but Erik Larsen still manages to make you think that THIS one is the final nail in the coffin. This time he even went so far that Dragon´s son Malcolm took over the book with stepsister / secret crush Angel. There were many readers who were sceptical about this risky step all but ready to leave the title at the first signs of weakness. But within a few issues Erik won them over and the book is better than ever.

Nobody is sure if Dragon is ever coming back, if it´s really Dragon who´s coming back or if they even want him to come back. What nobody questions is that this comic that takes place in real time ( yes, really ) has kicked into overdrive with the EMPEROR DRAGON storyline and is only gaining momentum.


I know this sounds a bit complicated but now that STRANGERS IN PARADISE and the equally brilliant but shorter ECHO has ended that´s my way of honoring Terry Moore.

When the end of SIP was announced I was sad because I thought it would leave a whole - not only in my pull list but my life. I hadn´t come aboard with day 1 but rather after the third trade had been out and only after a recommendation by WIZARD magazine. One of the things I will be always indebted for to them.

And it was a rough transition. But then Terry moore started ECHO and showed that he can also do drama ( and brilliant sci fi ) in a METAL BIKINI book of all series. Now he has also finished this story and the new RACHEL RISING continues on this path of comic book greatness adding horror to the genres where Terry Moore leaves his distinctive mark.


I have mentioned it once or twice, one of the best series of last year - at least in my opinion - has been the new DARK HORSE PRESENTS. With a WHO´S WHO list of creators like Mike Mignola, Neal Adams, Paul Chadwick, Dave Gibbons, Richard Corben, Evan Dorkin, Fabio Moon, Steve Niles, Howard Chaykin, Geof Darrow, Eric Powell, Frank Miller, Steranko and Harlan Ellison it´s totally worth the 8 bucks for 80 pages. Except issue 3.

That was 104 pages for the same price. But really.

Anybody who can pluck down 4 bucks for a 22 page comic from the big two but has problems paying twice as much for what is almost four times the page count can´t calculate. So far every issue has delivered and what is more I have made the experience that my favorite comics are not always the ones by creators I already know but rather comics like Carla Speed McNeil´s FINDER or Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse´s RESIDENT ALIEN.


Another winner that shouldn´t surprise longtime readers Levin Kurio´s HORROR SCHOCKER series is another one that gets some STRAFE.

Issue 27 has just come out and it´s everything a german comic and horrorfan could want. With every issue Levin manages to keep the high quality level of this homage to old classics like TALES FROM THE CRYPT, HAUNT OF FEAR and the likes while adding a modern touch. Showing that you really can tell a great story in just a few pages he serves up little horror vignettes that always deliver no matter if it starts in everyday life, ancient Rome or the farflung future.

In fact the stories that take place in post apocaliptic futures are always entertaining and full of social commentary about human society. Other fanfavorites are the Stories from the Styx starring Charon, the Ferryman or stories with an historical background and people that really existed like Hermann Cothmann, burgomaster of Lemgo who was called The Witchjudgde.

The list of artists is not as famous as the one of DARK HORSE PRESENTS but not less talented.

Besides HORROR SCHOCKER Levin Kurio also somehow manages to publish several other comics throughout the year like WEISSBLECH´S WELTBESTE COMICS ( Weissblech´s World´s Best Comics ) with such great titles like SCHAURIGER SCHUND ( Scary Trash )

of which the latest issue includes a new look at old classics like HEIDI courtesy of Dirk Eggers, Stefan Hagenow and Carsten Dörr .

preview pages weissblechs weltbeste comics 20 - schauriger schund

preview pages hammerharte horrorschocker / preview pages issue 27

And with that it´s once again time to wrap up things if I ever want to get some sleep before going to work on Monday. I managed to give out ten awards which is a lot and maybe I can come up with a few more in one of my next posts. For now I want to wish you all the best for 2012, good health ( which is only appreciated once it´s gone ) and great comics.

Today I´m leaving with two videos. The first one is DINNER FOR ONE a sketch that has been a fixture for my generation on Sylvester and really, you can´t start the New Year in Germany without seeing DINNER FOR ONE. So for all who missed it here´s your chance.

The second video is the brilliant last minutes of episode 11 of season 4 of Dr. WHO called TURN LEFT. I just love it how they can turn your whole world upside down with two words. And what´s even more Airwolf is that those two words are not only the message but also tell you who sent it.

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest


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