AMBER LOVE 30-AUG-2017 Post like this, Vodka O’Clock podcasts, and my books are supported by the generous backers at Patreon.com/amberunmasked. Consider joining to add to the monthly tip jar. Every bit helps! For weekly recs, follow me on Twitter @elizabethamber.
Action Lab: Dog of Wonder
Scott Fogg, Vito Delsante, Reilly Leeds, Full Court Press Lettering, Justin Birch, Nicole D’Andria, Rosy Higgins, Ted Brandt
It saddens me deeply that Action Lab: Dog of Wonder was canceled mid-story at issue #8 which is out today. I talked with a couple of the creators and they had about 20 issues plotted. As Vito Delsante says in the final letters column, this wasn’t just a silly kids’ comic about dogs. It was an anthropomorphized look at the way animals have different personalities, talents, and desires. Yes, desires. You only need to have owned more than one cat, dog, or rodent to see that they behave differently. I’ve had cats that love catnip and others who didn’t; ones that were social and ones that hid. I’ve never owned a dog, but I spent a lot of time caring for one and he was a great addition to the family dynamic — though I will say someone with back problems shouldn’t own a dog that likes to be carried up stairs. 😉
Dog of Wonder, much like one of my other top favorites of all time, Hero Cats, showed teams working together. It showed what it’s like for a new critter to come into the pack unexpectedly. It showed how humans are capable to changing, growing, and evolving to see what’s truly important and worth saving on the planet. Yeah, all that came from a silly kids’ comic about dogs who can travel through time and fly with jet packs.
Finally, Dog of Wonder was special because each issue included information about animal rescue, an issue close to my heart. StubbyDog is one of Vito’s go-to charities for spreading the word on dog rescue, safety, and healthy pets. They sent in columns filled with information to be in the back of the Dog of Wonder issues.
What to do as a consumer and fan:
Here are some things you can do, not just for Dog of Wonder but for ALL books you enjoy:
- Tell the creators what a great job their doing and why the work is important to you.
- Tell the publisher that you want more of the series.
- Ask local comic shops to order the book for you (subscribe) because those pre-order numbers matter a great deal in our current comics direct market (still).
- Give reviews on places like Comixology, Amazon, or your favorite nerdy blogs like Women Write About Comics.
- Talk it up on social media. You don’t have to “@” the creators at this point unless you are praising them; it’s a dick move to “@” people when saying you think something is terrible.
- Tell the publishers and retailers that you want the books in trade (tpb) so they are encouraged to make them and order them. If it’s digital, same thing – let the publisher know you hope to see a collection including any issues that weren’t released in print.
- Finally, if you do have a legitimate criticism (lack of diversity, accidental offensive messages, phobic text/imagery, etc.) be courteous and professional when pointing it out; then offer up something positive about the work. Example: “I love this book’s art, but there was some triggery dialog that could’ve been handled better or avoided since it’s not necessary for the plot. Since I get so much pleasure out of this book, I would love to see that improve and become more accessible.“
Justin Phillips, Sean Gregory Miller, Leslie Atlansky
I do what I can to tweet recommendations for KID SHERLOCK because it’s the kind of delightful all ages book that could be missed in the plethora of titles. Yet another Sherlock Holmes riff? Yes. Mysteries are fun! Mysteries with a whip-smart kid and a new student who happens to be a dog are pretty fantastic. Unknown smells… missing dolls… thievery! At the end of each main story is a quick short story followed by How To Draw tutorials and puzzles to solve for all the little Sherlocks and Watsons out there. It’s exactly the type of fun kids’ comic you’d expect from Action Lab’s mainstream offerings.
Nelson Daniel, Paul Allor, Gilberto Lazcano
CLUE, based on the famous board game and cult classic movie, should definitely be on your pull list. Allor and Daniel have masterfully created a modern world of the beloved Clue setting. They’ve had the privilege to add some new characters to the cast. There’s diversity in ethnicities, class status, and walks of life. From military personnel like Col. Mustard to pop star Miss Scarlett, you won’t be disappointed in getting to know all their motives and dark secrets for wanting other people dead. Three issues are out so far. Be sure to put the rest to your pull list!
Night Owl Society
James Venhaus, Pius Bak, Marshall Dillon
I read the first issue of NIGHT OWL SOCIETY and it was the kind of story I like enough to read in trade. If you like seeing a band of motley teens come together like The Breakfast Club but then organizing themselves into a functioning gang to take down a powerful mob boss, this is the book for you. The art has a heavy inked, noir feel perfectly fit for the story; the colors are toned deeper and flatter. The backgrounds are often simple allowing the characters and main action to stand out. The trade is coming out in the next couple of weeks, so be sure to pick it up and talk about it.
Marc Bernadin, Adam Freeman, Rosi Kampe, Brad Simpson, Troy Peteri, Jonathan Hickman
If you missed out on the first volume of GENIUS, get it. It was one of the best books from 2015. The only criticism I have on that past volume was that the main character, Destiny Ajaye, is seriously sexualized on certain covers and she’s seventeen years old. That’s just something artists should be aware of when taking a gig.
This next arc for Destiny removes her from where she was the reigning power, the streets of Los Angeles. She’s taken into custody and forced to work for the government while they’ve released a statement claiming she took her own life. Artist Rosi Kampe is new to the team and I can’t possibly say enough about how magnificent her art is on this series. There’s enough in the backgrounds to know what’s going on around the characters. You can see Destiny’s gorgeous braids. The expressions of worry, doubt, and sorrow on people’s faces pierce through. Pairing that with Simpson’s colors and you feel every mood shift intended.
Bitch Planet Triple Feature
KellySue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro, Clayton Cowles, Andrew Aydin, Cheryl Lynn Eaton, Conley Lyons, Joanna Estep, Maria Fröhlich, Alissa Sallah, Dylan Meconis, Kit Cox, Alec Valerius, Dylan Meconis, Vanesa R. Del Rey, Che Grayson, Danielle Henderson, Jordan Clark, Naomi Franquiz, Ro Stein, Sharon De La Cruz, Ted Brandt
As far as hard-hitting, throw-it-in-your-face, social justice commentary goes, BITCH PLANET is always the best thing on the market. Part of the creative process for the series was to work in scheduled breaks. They’re not only busy people, but you can tell they want to bring the highest quality book to readers that’s possible. This means gorgeous interiors with a gripping story; and also more back matter than you can imagine. Letters from the creators, letters from fans, cosplay and tattoo photos, interviews, and essays.
Triple Feature is a grindhouse style approach to the BITCH PLANET universe. There are three short stories in each issue with the same amount of back matter as in the main title. Though there are tons of creators because of the amount of stories, usually Clayton Cowles does the lettering like for the main title, but not always. Three issues are available so far, but Image Comics has up to issue five solicited. Double-check with your retailer that you are getting them while the main title is on hiatus (I just saw a tweet that issue 11 is in production).
When you’re sick of female politicians being blamed for “being prepared” or called out because of their looks; when you can’t stand the limited availability of clothes in your size; when someone tosses out racist slurs; when you are twice as qualified but making half as much as a man — if you stand up for yourself or another woman, you are deemed Non-Compliant by the Fathers and sent off world to the prison known as Bitch Planet.
There are plenty of comics I haven’t detailed but I love to recommend:
- Raven the Pirate Princess
- 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank
- Black Magick
- Invisible Republic
- Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys: Big Lie
- Faith/Faith and the Future Force