Archive for vertigo comics

odds and ends

Posted in odds and ends with tags , , , , , , , on October 14, 2011 by Christopher Pearce

Thought today would be a good time to mention: I’m going to take next week off from comic posting. We’ve reached the end of the first quarter of this school year, hard as it is to believe. I have 140 fictional narratives that need to be read, corrected, commented on, and graded. I also made the mistake of asking for a big sustained silent reading project to be due a week from this Monday… in addition to all the regular classwork we do everyday.

In short, I’m going to be spending the majority of free time I normally use to pursue my hobby in doing extra work for school.

It’s weeks like the one upcoming I think of when people say “Teachers are overpaid, they get out of school at 2 everyday and only work nine months a year!” Saying teachers only work during those specific hours is like saying firefighters are only working when they’re inside a burning building… or surgeons are only working when they are in an operating room. It’s silly when you give it even a moment’s scrutiny.

I think I have enough bits and pieces for daily posting (sketchbook stuff and the like) but teaching comics will resume on October 24th.

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In other school news, thanks to some donations from local businesses my classroom just received a brand new Eno board this week!

I must admit, I’m probably the last person under the age of 40 working in public schools who unreservedly LOVES chalkboards, to the point of making them a weekly feature on this blog every Sunday. To that end, I’m a bit leery of this new piece of technology currently resting in the front of my classroom.

I’ve been assured I will receive training on how to use the board in my class and I look forward to that. I’m also quite thankful to be in the first wave of teachers who are having Eno boards installed. Hopefully I can figure out something cool to do with it in the upcoming months.

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I picked up the first three trades of DC/Vertigo’s DMZ this past week. They were a DonorsChoose donation to my classroom and I decided to read ’em through before I put the books into circulation. Gotta say, I really loved them.

Written by Brian Wood, DMZ takes place during the second American civil war in the near future. Photojournalist Matty Roth finds himself in the Manhattan demilitarized zone and begins to investigate the new landscape of New York City.

The gritty, angular artwork from Riccardo Burchielli sets the tone for the first three trades, which cover roughly two years of the comic. Burchielli’s blunt pencils bring home the grimness of a war-torn Big Apple, while at the same time wonderfully capturing the character moments that ground the big ideas.

Wood’s wonderfully good at world-building; he can do with one issue of a comic book what it takes some writers five to accomplish. My favorite work of his will always be Local, but DMZ gives Local a run for its’ money. Wood has clearly thought out the structure of his future Manhattan as well as any piece of fiction I have read this year. I love that he doesn’t skip on even the puniest of details of what it would be like to live in a DMZ. Wood writes it as a scary, imposing place… but makes sure to illustrate the surprising freedom inherent with living in the middle of a war zone.

Anyhow, it’s a good series. I’m keeping it on the “parental consent only” shelf but I look forward to recommending it to some of my more worldly and mature readers.

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sketchbook: gus, buddy, and some ugly sketches

Posted in sketchbook with tags , , , , , , on June 30, 2011 by Christopher Pearce

I recently read the first two trades of the DC/Vertigo series Sweet Tooth, and I’ve really been enjoying it. Written by Jeff Lemire, it’s sort of a post-apocalyptic Road Warrior type drama, only with half-man/half-animal hybrids and WAY more flannel. Recommended.

Hate is easily my favorite comic series ever and while I know there are some fans who aren’t into cartoonist Peter Bagge’s “new” Buddy Bradley look, but I think it’s hilarious. It’s driving me crazy, knowing the newest annual is out there in the world and I haven’t read it.

odds and ends

Posted in commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

I mentioned the Cincinnati Comics Expo last week. I went and had a very good time… but here’s one of the highlights:

I bought an original Archie newspaper comic strip!

Most of the people reading this will not be as excited as I was to pick up something silly like this. I’ll never be able to frame it. It’s not going to be worth a lot of money. It doesn’t feature Betty OR Veronica, for Pete’s sake! Despite all that, I was still very excited to drop $30 bucks to own a comic strip that appeared in newspapers across the country. Ever since I was old enough to read, I’ve been obsessed with newspaper comic strips and I’ve always wanted to own one. Now I can cross that off my Bucket List.

I will tell you, I picked this particular strip out of a large pile for three reasons:

1. It features Jughead.

2. It takes place at Riverdale High; as a teacher, I thought it would be fun to have this hanging in my classroom somewhere.

3. For three summers during high school and college, I worked in my hometown’s elementary school doing exactly what Archie and Jughead are doing here.

$30 dollars well spent.

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I don’t watch a whole lot of TV, but I watch enough to be excited for the new fall season to officially begin this past week. Ellen and I have put our Netflix Watch Instantly feature to good use this past summer, but I am getting very tired of flippin’ on the boob tube and having to wade through awful stuff like Minute to Win It and reruns of CSI ad nauseum.

On show I’m tentatively excited to see return is NBC’s The Office. It’s been receiving a lot of buzz surrounding the announcement that Steve Carrell will not be returning as office manager Michael Scott after this season.

Certainly the show is coming off a season that was, to be generous, a mixed bag… and as The Office marches into its seventh season, the characters have become far more broad and less realistic. These are facts. It should also be said that those things happen to EVERY situation comedy that stays on the air longer than 100 episodes. Characters and situations just can’t have the same kind of impact they had originally when you see them week in, week out. You’re too familiar with them… and syndication certainly doesn’t help matters.

I also think some of the “The Office has jumped the shark” sentiments are tied up with the emotional attachment that fans have to the show’s second and third season, specifically the “Jim and Pam” romance arc that is, to the writers’ credit, pretty settled now. I always admired how they resisted putting up unnatural roadblocks to the Jim and Pam romance once they were firmly together in S.4.

Anyhow, I’m curious how the show’s going to step up to the plate and approach losing Carrell. I certainly think it’s a good sign that they’ve hired Amy Ryan back to play Holly Flax for the last couple of episodes as I think that will help to bring Michael’s story to a close in fine style.

Here’s something I’m genuinely curious about: I’m wondering if this is the season that the producers are going to engineer some kind of guest appearance by/cross over with Ricky Gervais’ David Brent character. You’ll find no bigger fan of the original British version of The Office than me, and Gervais’ originated the boorsh boss in Brent. This is something that has occasionally teased in interviews, but never seriously considered… at least to my knowledge.

I’m not necessarily saying I think bringing Gervais’ Brent into the fold is a good idea… but it’s something that people have always asked for. Gervais remains not only an executive producer but also a tremendous booster of the US Office, going to far as to write an episode of the series in its third season, so the connection’s there. With Carrell leaving, this would be the only time that David Brent and Michael Scott could breathe the same air. It could potentially be a very silly and uninteresting bit of fan-service, but I’m kind of hoping they pull the trigger on it. I could do without seeing the rest of the cast of the UK Office again, their stories always seemed pretty well finished to me, but Brent was always little larger than life, at least in his own mind. I could see him wandering across the pond for some reason or another.

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I’m currently reading Peter and Max: A Fables Novel by Bill Willingham, illustrations by Steve Leialoha. ┬áThis has been on my “to read” pile for awhile, a prose novel based in the world of DC Comics/Vertigo’s long-running Fables. The conceit of Fables is that fairy tale characters are real and live in our world after being pushed out of their mythical Homelands by an evil Adversary. They work to fit into modern society as well as try to retake their fairy tale kingdoms.

Peter and Max is seemingly a footnote to the longer narrative of the comic, dealing with the character of Peter Piper (who also, it seems, takes on the roles of other famous “Peters” from fairy tale and nursery rhyme history) and his adventures. The novel works as an primer for the Fables world without being overly confusing for new readers and Willingham has long had a flair for looking at treasured characters from myth and legend with a fresh perspective.