Officially Entering Hibernation

Well, this isn’t so much a new decision as it is making an ongoing situation official: Read About Comics is, for the time being, entering hibernation.

I’d hoped to be back on a regular schedule last summer, but after about a month a lot of things that pay the bills got much much busier, to say nothing about currently working on a Masters in Library and Information Science. And so once again, something had to give, and that something was Read About Comics.

I started writing reviews regularly for iComics.com back in 1999, and then shifted over to my own site here in August 2006. And while I still write reviews every week for Comic Book Resources, that doesn’t mean that I’ll miss writing reviews here a great deal. To those who have linked or responded to reviews, or merely posted some appreciation from time to time, my sincere thanks. To my peers who are writing their own reviews, my admiration. And to the people who, eight years later, keep posting in the comments section of the Queen Bee review hoping for a sequel… while sadly I don’t think your wish will ever come true, I do admire your persistence and eternal hope.

(And speaking of which, I’m changing the comments feature so that they close after a certain number of days. Sorry, Queen Bee fans.)

I do hope to occasionally post a review or two here, namely ones that for whatever reason (more than anything else, not fitting into the weekly review format) wouldn’t work on CBR, but we’ll see how that goes. For now, no promises. But again, my thanks, and I’m sorry that it’s taken so long to admit the inevitable had occurred.

—Greg

Hilda and the Bird Parade

By Luke Pearson
40 pages, color
Published by Nobrow Press

In the past couple of years, you might have noticed a small British publisher named Nobrow Press starting to make an impression on the comics market. Their books are impeccably designed and printed with extremely high quality, making owning them not only pleasurable for their contents but also their presentation. And while I’ve sampled several different books of theirs and made mental notes to try more, it’s Luke Pearson’s books starring Hilda that have grabbed me the most. Hilda and the Bird Parade is the third and latest one in this series, and in many ways it’s not only the most relatable but also the most charming.

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Beach Girls

By Box Brown and James Kochalka
44 pages, black and white
Published by Retrofit Comics and Big Planet Comics

Beach Girls is the first comic I’ve picked up from Box Brown’s Retrofit Comics, a small boutique line of individual comic books by a wide variety of alternative comic creators. I’ll admit that I felt a little drawn to the comic almost immediately off the bat thanks to its larger dimensions; running at 7 7/8"x10 1/2", this magazine-sized comic immediately brought to mind the indy comics of the ’80s and ’90s that I’d bought in great numbers. And now that I’ve read Beach Girls? I feel like that initial impression was not misplaced.

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Usagi Yojimbo Vol. 27: A Town Called Hell

By Stan Sakai
208 pages, black and white
Published by Dark Horse

There are a handful of comics that have gone on for years and years and are reliably excellent. The problem is that, after a while, it’s easy to take them for granted that they’ll always be around and always be fantastic. Having gone on hiatus early last year so Stan Sakai could work on 47 Ronin, I do occasionally worry that being forgotten could be the fate of Usagi Yojimbo. But with a new collection now on the shelves, now is as good a time as any to find out what you’ve been missing all this time. Because trust me, Sakai’s long-running samurai epic is still a pleasure to read from start to finish.

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Big Plans: The Collected Mini-Comics and More

By Aron Nels Steinke
360 pages, black and white
Published by Bridge City Comics

I’ve read and enjoyed Aron Nels Steinke’s books in the past, but I was especially excited to read Big Plans: The Collected Mini-Comics and More. His graphic novel Neptune is an all-ages book, and The Super Crazy Cat Dance is for very young readers. So in reading Big Plans, it would be a jump to lots of comics that weren’t necessarily created with the younger audience in mind. What I found was a collection of memories, reflections, and struggles in getting through life. And ultimately, this is a collection where I think having all of these stories together gives you a stronger overall experience.

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Monster on the Hill

By Rob Harrell
192 pages, color
Published by Top Shelf Productions

I’ve never read Rob Harrell’s comic strips before (Big Top and Adam@Home), so I had to rely solely on the cover of his first graphic novel Monster on the Hill to pull me in. There was something about that grabbed my attention, though. Part of it was the generally attractive nature of the illustration; the strange colored roots of plants, the glimpses of the dirt hanging underneath the exposed side of the hill, the the strange character design of the monster himself. But more than anything else? It was the "get me out of here" expression on the monster’s face. That was when I knew I had to check this book out.

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Gamma One-Shot

Story by Ulises Farinas and Erick Freitas
Art by Ulises Farinas
32 pages, color
Published by Dark Horse

Originally serialized in Dark Horse Presents #18-20, the Gamma One-Shot is a strange beast. It serves as both a complete story in its own right, as well as what feels like a pilot for future comics down the line. It feels like a mixture of Pokemon and Godzilla, but while Ulises Farinas and Erick Freitas wear their influences on their sleeves, it goes into places and directions that the originals would never touch. But best of all? There’s no doubt in my mind that the Gamma works better as a collected comic than it did as a serial.

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Avery Fatbottom: Renaissance Fair Detective #1

By Jen Vaughn
24 pages, black and white
Published by Monkeybrain Comics

I will freely admit that while you can’t judge a book by its cover, sometimes a book’s title is more than enough to get me to buy a copy. That was the case with Jen Vaughn’s new comic Avery Fatbottom: Renaissance Fair Detective #1. And while the end result might not be exactly in line with what you’d imagine with a title like that, there’s more than enough to amuse in this whirlwind tour of life at a Renaissance fair.

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Lobster Johnson: A Scent of Lotus #1

Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Art by Sebastian Fiumara
32 pages, color
Published by Dark Horse

Lobster Johnson: A Scent of Lotus #1 is the latest comic starring Mike Mignola’s character who straddles the pulp crime and horror genres. In an ever-expanding universe of titles spun-off from Hellboy, it’s easy for some of the comics to fade into the background more than others. But reading Lobster Johnson: A Scent of Lotus #1, I appreciate that Mignola, John Arcudi, and Sebastian Fiumara do their best to keep this comic memorable thanks to some particularly strong images that they’ve conjured up.

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Darkroom: A Memoir in Black & White

By Lila Quintero Weaver
264 pages, black and white
Published by University of Alabama Press

I’ll be the first to admit that I was a little surprised when I heard that the University of Alabama Press published a graphic novel. It’s not the usual suspect for this sort of thing, but within a handful of pages of Lila Quintero Weaver’s Darkroom: A Memoir of Black & White, it was easy to see why they’d stepped up to the plate. Latina in 1960s Alabama where everything was viewed as either black or white, Weaver’s memoir offers a perspective from someone unclaimed by either side in a racial struggle.

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