Friday, January 28, 2011

THINGS I LOVE: Richard Moore's "Boneyard"

Anyone unfamiliar with Richard Moore’s work to date is truly missing out. His latest series, Boneyard, is a rich blend of classic horror movies and off-beat humor. Moore has a flair for visual story-telling, and his artwork shows a unique gift for comic timing, as the first issue illustrates with a three-panel gag about a vampire, a frightened human, and a phone book mistaken for a bible.

Boneyard was just perfect for me,” Moore says. “I’m a big fan of old horror movies. I also like doing humor, and I wanted to draw something that had an almost cartoony look to it, and it just came together and almost wrote itself. I just sent number three into NBM Publishing. The first story arc is going to be about four issues but it’s an on-going series.”

In addition to the whacked-out humor, Boneyard boasts one of the larger casts of recurring characters to be seen in an independent series. “I think people will be surprised after the first four issue story-arc [which characters will be focused on]. Abbey has been the break-out character for obvious reasons, but as far break-out potential for the character itself, as opposed to the way the character looks, I think that Glump probably will be. He’s the fat little demon. He doesn’t have a lot to do in the first four-issue story arc, but after that he’s going to carry a lot of the humor. Abbey has been in three projects that I worked on before. She was just a character I’d always liked, and when Boneyard came up, I just had to put her in there. She got a little more refined here, I gave her a bit more background. Some of the others, Nessie the swamp creature, has appeared in various incarnations in things I’d done before. Same thing with some of the other ones. And faces that I’d sketched before and liked found their way into Boneyard.” –Excerpt from unpublished interview from Moore by moi.

Of the many, many things that I like, Richard Moore’s Boneyard is at the very top of the list. Introduced to me by the incomparable Charlie and Shelli Fleming, the series led me to seeking out Moore and interviewing him for a number of publications, including the ground-breaking, world-renowned and orgasm-inducing Femme Fatales Issue #95 - Vol 11 #3 (2002). --->

Boneyard is about the unassuming Steve Paris who inherits a haunted cemetery populated by all sorts of wonderfully creepy characters. In addition to his prowess at drawing sexy sea monsters, Moore has a fantastic sense of visual comic timing, as can be witnessed in the very first issue, when Paris attempts to ward off Abbey with what he thinks is a Bible, grabbing it up without looking. It’s genius.

Sadly and tragically, Moore put an end—or, as he puts it, a “hiatus”—to Boneyard with issue #28, wrapping up a storyline but leaving so much unanswered. The issues have been collected into easy-to-handle and transport trade paperbacks, both in black and white and color, and are available here.

Now be off with you.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

THINGS I LOVE: The New Adventures of Queen Victoria

I tripped over The New Adventures of Queen Victoria accidentally one day, perusing and praying for death. Or, you know, something else to do. Created by Pab Sungenis, TNQoQV is a surreal and extremely funny cut-out strip about the former Regent and her extended family.

The style is reminiscent of Terry Gilliam’s Monty Python cartoons in that Sungenis uses photographs and familiar cutouts for his characters, then writes magnificently bizarre things for them to say. Often, the strip is topical. This week’s strip, for instance, posits that Alfred Hitchcock created the addictive online game Angry Birds.

My favorite strip ends with the punchline, “Mum, does Canada go in the dishwasher?”

Another series involves the Queen’s purchase of Norway and where to put it once it arrives.

I love that. Love. It.

Sungenis produces the daily strip for an online syndicate and it was recently picked up by Yahoo! Comics. So there’s no excuse for you to not read it, love it, and touch it inappropriately afterwards. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


So someone took the Human Torch down and passed him around, or something. The result is: he’s dead. Like Captain America, Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, Angel, Kraven the Hunter and endless more before him, The Human Torch is as dead as can be legally allowed by the Comics Code (also dead. Thanks Archie Comics).

Those responsible for Johnny Storm’s murder are writer Jonathan Hickman and his accomplice, artist Steve Epting. Seems as though there’s this cosmic battle raging throughout The Fantastic Four series, all culminating with a spectacular, huge, heroic (no idea, I haven’t seen the book) sacrifice on the part of ol’ Torchy.

Now, none of this is news. Comic books, like soap operas, love to kill off major characters, often to bring them back a few issues or, sometimes, years later to the delight of dozens and the ire of dozens more. Heck, the “original” Human Torch was an android created to fight Nazis long before Johnny was a gleam in Stan Lee’s and Jack Kirby’s eyes, so there’s not even much to mourn here. It’s just par for the course.

But, to quote

“According to new Marvel owners, the Walt Disney Company, the character is a 'bad influence' on young kids who may want to emulate and possibly 'immolate' themselves as the burning superhero.”

Some of you may be old enough to remember this tired schtick dragged out to explain why the happy-fun calculator H.E.R.B.I.E. had replaced Torchy on the ‘78 Fantastic Four animated series. It was also trotted along to explain the presence of “Firestar” during the Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends hour. According to my buddies who actually worked or work for Marvel, this is not a true concern now, nor was it then. The truth is far more boring in that the character had been separately licensed to Universal Studios for a proposed television movie, precluding his involvement in both Four and being an Amazing Friend. Still, the “immolation” concern persists as one of those four-color urban legends that the hysterical like to point to whenever they think of The Human Torch.

But let’s posit for a moment that Marvel/Disney really did think kids would try to imitate Johnny’s powers. Let’s think back to when we were all kids, shall we? I recall that the one of the first words my sister and I were taught as toddlers was "Hot"! It’s certainly part of my two-year-old niece’s vocabulary. She’ll even point accusingly at red pot holders as “hot”, just to reassure us that she knows that she shouldn’t touch something that could possibly remove her fingerprints in 2nd- or 3rd-degree ouchy.

Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but "Immolation" was never a part of playtime when I was a kid. Maybe some of us were dumb enough to leap off the roof in the mistaken belief that we were somehow more aerodynamically sound with a towel tied around our necks, but never did we go "You know what'd be cool? Burning to death like the Human Torch! Go get your dad's napalm!"

Because what we lacked in XBOX systems or flame throwers, we made up for with imagination. If one of us played the role of The Human Torch, we’d yell Flame On!, point our hands at whatever it was we wanted to enflame and make a whoosh noise. The more talented of us could even add crackling noises over the whoosh to simulate the burning. Not once did we apply flame to skin to enhance play. Maybe we weren’t yet allowed pointy scissors, but we knew enough not to play with matches. That was pre-teen funtime.

If your kid buys a Fantastic Four comic book then sets himself on fire, I'd either question the writing or his religious or political leanings—obviously, he's protesting something. And if he plays with fire more than once, he's either a budding serial killer or it's evidence of unstoppable natural selection.

Anyway, Rest In Peace, Johnny. We’ll see you in a couple of years when the franchise gets its reboot. 

 They look so happy, rushing off into oblivion like that.