comic book

Interview with Justin Peterson

of Very Near Mint

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We had the pleasure of talking to artist/writer of the indie comic, Very Near Mint - Justin Peterson. In anticipation of the release of the third volume of Very Near Mint, we talk to Justin about his process, Kickstarter, his fascinating day job, and more. This interview was really one of our favorite episodes. Justin has a really distinct view on the comic book industry and what it takes to succeed. You’re going to like this one!

More on This Interview & the Art of Justin Peterson

Listen to the Episode Directly.

Listen to the Episode on iTunes.

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Have something you’d like us to discuss? Please email us question at info@shortboxpodcast.com with “Listener Topic” in the subject line and make sure to let us know if we can use your name on the podcast. Thanks for listening!

Political Comic With A Pop Culture Bend

Tenstate is a comic concept that combines a lot of my favorite things into a story that feels organically created and not mashed-up. It’s about a reality show and is like The Real World meets Biodome but with challenges. What I love about the structure of both this comic and the Kickstarter is that it mirrors the TV season feel of the show. The outline is 10 issues that will reflect 10 episodes and the Kickstarter goals will fund specific amount of episodes. It’s almost how network TV works now!

I was familiar with the art of Len Peralta from his Geek A Week cards sold on Think Geek and that’s how this popped up on my radar. Check out this Teaser Comic to get a better idea of what to expect.

Check out their Kickstarter and back this project. The video describes the comic with art included. There is also a

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Commentary As I Watch

I decided to jot down what I thought of this episode as I watch it. The time stamps are based on watching this on TV which means commercials are in there.

Season Three Episode 8

  1. Zombies just got hatcheted by some guy. It’s Tyreese!
  2. THIS is what I like about the Walking Dead…some characters die and new ones come in.
  3. There’s a whole in the prison? Uh-oh. Better secure that.
  4. Andrea REALLY falls for the Governor quick, huh?
  5. The Governor is a quite type of crazy in this show most of the time. This scene with his daughter shows him more unhinged than usual.
  6. Maggie was saved the rape that Michone experienced in the comic, at least.
  7. Time to see just how good Rick is at strategy. He has one hell of a team.
  8. So they don’t want the prison for themselves? Interesting.
  9. Uh…what are the screamer pits? Sounds pretty messed up.
  10. I wonder if Tyreese will be Daryl’s replacement if anything happens to him?
  11. What Rick doesn’t understand is that the people of Woodbury aren’t all to blame for The Governor’s action.
  12. Axel the perv. I’ve been waiting for this…
  13. “You’re not a lesbian? My My…this is interesting” – Axel. Haha.
  14. Maggie and Glen are pretty capable, huh?
  15. This would make a great stage for a video game!
  16. Rick is pretty tactical. He’s rolling in like a BOSS. (:23 minutes in)
  17. Michone is on her own. Uh oh.
  18. Daryl knows about Meryl. Decision time.
  19. Rick needs to get control of Daryl. Victory hinges on what Daryl decides.
  20. Andrea and Daryl. Where do their allegiances lie? It’s a big part of this season. (:26 mins in)
  21. Michone wants the Governor. It’s a vendetta. Why is she so hateful of him in the TV version, I wonder?
  22. I think the Governor was thinking about taking out Andrea right there and then.
  23. THIS is war!
  24. SHANE?!? Rick is still way out of it.
  25. Oscar is down. He’s never really impressed me as an interesting character in this show so far.
  26. Is Carl in charge at the prison?
  27. “My father would go.” – Great line, Carl. He’s a legitimately cool character in this show.
  28. Annnnnd the group gets bigger again. (36 mins in)
  29. WELL! There are the heads, Michone. What do you think of the Governor now?
  30. Michone! No! She’s a zombie!!!
  31. THE showdown begins. Governor vs. Michone with zombie daughter in tow.
  32. Dead zombie daughter (:39 mins in)
  33. This fight is straight outta Kill Bill! Will there be mutilation?
  34. Those heads are waking up!
  35. Glass to the eye? Yep.
  36. Andrea vs. Michone. That went quick.
  37. Andrea…think about this. What’s with those heads. What’s with the zombie daughter? GET OUT OF THERE!!
  38. #Headcount – Chris Hardwick is so cool.
  39. (Just saw the Trailer to Warm Bodies. Looks cool!)
  40. Donna is dead. Carl wants to shoot her in the head already. He’s made of tougher stuff. (:46 mins in)
  41. It’s Hammer Time!
  42. Sasha seems hot blooded but Tyreese seems really even tempered.
  43. The Governor’s answer about the heads…it makes sense. Smart.
  44. It looks like The Governor is about to go to war.
  45. This is the last new episode I’ll see until February? I can’t wait that long! No!
  46. Every episode of The Walking Dead in order on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day? Cool.
  47. Well, this is the last 5 minutes. (:55 mins in)
  48. Questioning Michone. Guns on her. Will they keep her?
  49. The Arena. This is going to be huge. You can just feel it.
  50. “What can I say? There hasn’t been a night like this since the walls were completed.” What a powerful speaker. He’s like a preacher.
  51. Terrorists. He used it four times. It’s a powerful word.
  52. Meryl the traitor. Daryl the terrorist. Andrea caught in the middle. The mob of angry citizens.
  53. “You wanted your brother, now you got him.”
  54. That trailer looked great!

Well, thanks everyone. This was fun. Season Three has been my favorite season so far and it looks like it’s going to continue at this pace.

See you in February!

marvel dc articles

Adam and Nick talk about comics coming out in January 2013. New Marvel Now books as well as New 52 crossovers. It’s more than just talk about Marvel and DC, thought. We get into the upcoming ongoing Star Wars series by Brian Wood from Darkhorse as well as Image, IDW, and more.

Listen to the episode directly here.

Listen to the episode on iTunes.

Episode 17 – Recommended Reading

Hi everyone! Episode 17 features our guest Jason Juniewicz. We go over storylines that we feel deserve more attention. The intro song is Mute City F-Zero by Power Glove.
We picked:
  • Marvel 1602
  • Teenagers From Mars
  • Transformers Autocracy
  • Spider-Man: The Other
  • Chew: Taster’s Choice
  • Joe the Barbarian

Marvel 1602

comics reviews podcast

Here’s a review of Marvel 1602.

Teenagers From Mars

The story that inspired this comic is the public hearings against the comic book industry that led to mass comic book burnings. Watch this clip to see how crazy things got:

comic book rob g rick spears
Trade Paperback Cover
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Interior Art

Transformers Autocracy

short box podcast

Autocracy #1 Cover

Autocracy Interiors

 Spider-Man: The Other

JMS short box podcast

Cover of Spider-Man: The Other

short box podcast reviews

Morlun

the other death spider-man

The “Death” of Spider-Man by Morlun

tony choo short box podcast

Chew: Taster’s Choice Trade

comic book reviews short box

Interior Art

Joe The Barbarian

comic books reviews short box

Cover of the Trade Paperback

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Interior Art

PART I: A little bit of WATCHMEN info…

First of all, for those of you, somehow, may be unfamiliar with what, exactly, WATCHMEN is: It’s a comic book. A twelve-issue “maxi-series” written by Alan Moore with art by Dave Gibbons that was published by DC comics from 1986-87. But it’s certainly more than that.

short box review article I will admit to being a proud supporter of the “but it’s only a comic book” school of thought. I think people get a bit too pretentious about comics sometimes. And, usually, these are people that ‘discovered’ comics in college or something, not people who rode their bikes to the newsstand or five-and-dime when they were kids to grab the latest issue of G.I.JOE or SECRET WARS or ATARI FORCE (don’t laugh. It was a great comic). USUALLY these are people who use the term “Graphic Novel” incorrectly which drives me utterly batty.

Such as the quote below:

“[WATCHMEN IS] A work of ruthless psychological realism, it’s a landmark in the graphic novel medium. It would be a masterpiece in any.”
–TIME, TIME MAGAZINE’s 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present

YES, it is “A work of ruthless psychological realism”. And it most certainly is “a landmark”. But it is NOT a “Graphic Novel”. It is a comic book.

“But, Mikey,” you say, “I bought WATCHMEN and it’s a big, fat, book with lots of pages. SURELY that is a Graphic Novel!”

No, it’s not. It’s a “collected edition” or a “trade paperback” if it is softcover. I know, I know, the term “Graphic Novel” has come to encompass collected editions as well, these days, but I’m anti-that and will remain anti-that until the day I die.

“OK, Mr. Smarty-Pants,” you say, “Then what IS a Graphic Novel?”

 Author/Artist Chris Ware on Graphic Novels vs. Comic Books

A “Graphic Novel” to me needs to meet three certain criteria (and, please, this is MY opinion. If you disagree with it, fine. You’re WRONG, but, fine):

  1. Is it more than 22 pages long? If NOT, it’s a comic book. If SO, it MAY be a Graphic Novel, but not necessarily (BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE, for example, is 48 pages long, but it isn’t a “graphic novel”. It’s a one-shot comic book. But BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM is 216 pages. DEFINITELY a graphic novel.) I tend to be of the belief that a ‘Graphic Novel’ needs to be at least 90 pages in length. Again, that’s just my opinion.
  2. Is it one continuous/complete story from cover-to-cover? If YES, then it MAY be a “Graphic Novel”. If NOT (if it’s, say, a collection of shorter stories by different artists that may SHARE an idea or concept but are still un-related to each other) than it is an ANTHOLOGY . SO, for an example, SUPERMAN: INFINITE CITY? Graphic Novel. 24 SEVEN? Anthology.
  3. Has it or any part of it been previously printed in the standard ‘pamphlet’ (meaning: floppy) comic book form? If it HAS, it’s not a “Graphic Novel”, it’s a “collected edition” (WATCHMEN, BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, BATMAN: YEAR ONE – each of the ‘chapters’ in those books were originally sold individually on a monthly (or nearly-monthly) basis). The fancy-pants hardcover edition of the aforementioned KILLING JOKE is STILL just a comic book. YEAH, it’s a comic book with a hard cover and dust jacket, but that’s just because it’s dressed up to hang out in polite society.
Graphic Novel or Comic Book

Comic Book Historian, Scott McCloud, defines Comic Books

SO…Taking WATCHMEN into consideration: Is it (in it’s readily available form):

A) More that 22 pages long?

It most certainly is. It’s actually a whopping 416 pages (the paperback edition).

B) One continuous story from beginning-to-end?

It is. And it’s a helluva good story, too.

C) One single unit that’s never been printed in serial form?

Well, no. No it isn’t. It originally came out in 12 parts.

AH HAH! So is it a ‘Graphic Novel’?

Well…No. It CAN’T be because it doesn’t meet all three criteria.

Correct. It is a ‘collected edition’ or, if you’d like, a ‘collection’. But it’s not a ‘graphic novel’ so stop calling it that.

Next up is a question that many MANY people get WRONG, including the people at DC Comics themselves:

Who are the Watchmen?

The short, sweet answer to this question is: Nobody.

But that’s not entirely true.

graphic novel comic booksThroughout the comic we can see, in the background, graffiti that reads: “Who Watches the Watchmen”. This comes from a quote from the Roman poet Juvenal: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” which actually translates more like: “Who shall watch the watchers themselves?” or something like that. Meaning, of course, “Who’s keeping tabs on the people keeping tabs on us?”

In the course of the comic, it comes to mean many things. Who’s keeping tabs on the masked heroes? Who’s governing the government?

The story takes place in an alternate 1985 where Nixon is still president and America is on the verge of Nuclear war with Russia. The U.S. government put into effect something called the Keene Act in 1977 that outlawed masked vigilantes (the only ‘super-hero’ on the planet is Dr. Manhattan). The main characters are former masked heroes Nite Owl, Silk Spectre, Ozymandias, Dr. Manhattan, and Rorschach (who is still active working against the Keene Act). Rorschach responds to the murder of a man named Edward Blake and discovers that Blake was the former costumed vigilante/government agent known as The Comedian. Rorschach gets it in his head that someone is trying to kill off masked heroes and it goes on from there but, y’know, I ain’t gonna read it FOR you.

So, the WATCHMEN are the main characters. It’s the name of the team, right?

Wrong. There is no “team” to speak of. From 1939-49 there was a team called The Minutemen, and, briefly in 1966, there was a failed attempt to form a team called The Crimebusters but there is no team called The Watchmen. Not once in the book do they refer to themselves as such nor does anyone else refer to them as such.

The term “Watchmen” refers to nobody in particular. Calling the characters in WATCHMEN (and the title is WATCHMEN, there is no ‘THE’ in front of it) is incorrect. Just like calling The Monster in FRANKENSTEIN “Frankenstein” or referring to the risen-from-the-grave Eric Draven as “The Crow” is incorrect. Frankenstein is the guy that MAKES the monster, not the monster, the Crow is the bird, not the guy, and WATCHMEN is the name of the book and a blanket term for ‘those who are in power’ and that’s it. Don’t be embarrassed, tough, if you thought otherwise. In issue 25 of DC’s reference series WHO’S WHO IN THE DC UNIVERSE, they incorrectly have the group listed as ‘The Watchmen’.

And that brings us to the third part of my manifesto:

Some of you have read WATCHMEN and have decreed “Meh. Who cares? I didn’t like it very much. Nothing I haven’t seen before.”

Those “Some of you” are fools. Okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh. You’re misguided.

NOW…For those of us who have read it and enjoyed it and understood it, well, it’s not like we’re an elite group who have secret handshakes and discreetly wink at each other. If you feel like we are, then you’re doing it wrong. Comics stay alive because we keep them alive. We pass them on from generation to generation. It is our duty as fans of the medium to pass on our knowledge. Remember that. When the movie came out, more and more people asked us “what’s the book like? Is it any good?”. It was our job to tell them that YES, it IS good and here’s why.

For the rest of you, well, hopefully you will one day read and fully understand the impact this comic had on comics in general and American comics in specific.

watchmen graphic novel comic bookSee, the Brits had been doing this kind of stuff for years prior with anthology books like 2000 A.D. and WARRIOR. And the French had been doing if for years prior with METAL HURLANT (Heavy Metal) and others. And, sure, even here in the States we had our own version of HEAVY METAL. But that “European storytelling sensibility” hadn’t quite invaded American mainstream comics yet. There were little hints here and there such as CAMELOT 3000 in 1982 (which is important for a series of firsts: It was the first ever maxi-series, it was DC’s first ever direct-market title, and it was the first comic I ever read with boobies in it) which was written by an American, actually, but still had a very ‘British” vibe to it, and comics like IRON MAN and GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW which both approached serious subject matters (alcoholism and drug abuse, respectively) in the 70′s (1979 and 1971 respectively).

But they were just the warm-up. WATCHMEN was the big show.

The eighties were a VERY important time in American comics. American comics came of age in the 80′s and lost it’s virginity in ’86. In February of that year Frank Miller and DC initiated foreplay with DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, but it was WATCHMEN that broke its cherry. It was a serious, mature take on the ‘super-hero’ genre. But the glory really is in the presentation. The detail of each panel is astounding. The structure of the chapters is innovative and unusual and unlike anything mainstream comic fans had ever seen before.

Now, you need to keep in mind, it was 1986. Since then, it has been ripped off, replicated, rehashed, ‘homaged’, and ‘inspired by-ed’ a million, billion times. The ‘grim and gritty’ take on comics is commonplace now. WATCHMEN is the grand-daddy of all of that.

If you love and appreciate WATCHMEN and if you have $125 bucks lying around (or if you, like me, have a ton of toys just sitting around collecting dust that you can trade in somewhere) I highly recommend picking up the one-two punch which is ABSOLUTE WATCHMEN and WATCHING THE WATCHMEN. You could probably pick them up for much cheaper used via Amazon Marketplace or the dread eBay. The pairing of the two is like a two-disk Special Edition DVD. ABSOLUTE is disk 1, all digitally remastered and recolored with some pages of commentary in the back, and WATCHING is disk 2, with all of the behind-the-scenes info. WATCHING THE WATCHMEN is crammed with so much preliminary artwork and sketches and roughs etc. that your eyeballs will pop out of your head.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

In Part II of this little manifesto, I will discuss BEFORE WATCHMEN and how awesome it is and why all of the people crying foul should put a sock in it.

Short Box Podcast Reviews Comic BooksA Welcome Pause In Action

AvX is once again suffering from summer crossover fatigue. There is a point in the last few line-wide crossovers (around the beginning of the last third of the story) where the follow-up to the crossover has been announced and with a little intuition you can figure out how the story will end based on future solicits. This is where AvX is right now in the beginning of September. Sure, I don’t know which mandatory death is coming but I can cross off quite a few from the list after seeing upcoming art.

What I am getting at is that AvX went on longer than I wanted and I’m burnt out. Thank goodness for this issue of Wolverine and the X-Men! This has been one of my favorite X-Titles since it first appeared a year ago because it still has heart and great character moments. Jason Aaron understand the X-Men formula and I’m glad he’s steering this ship. In fact, it’s the only X-Men book that feels like a true X-Book to me. Sure, I love X-Force (also one of my favorites) but I like if for different reasons. What I am looking for in an X-Men story is equal parts internal drama as well as high stakes action. What this issue lacks in action (which there is plenty of mindless variations of this running in the other AvX tie-ins) it MORE than makes up in character moments. Other issues of this title dish out action in big ways too so there’s something for everyone.

This issue feels very much like a state of the union for the reasonable members of what was once Xavier’s team. Let’s touch on a few of these character moments:

Wolverine & Hope - They take a second to talk before what will probably be the final battle of AvX. They’ve had some real ups and downs but I think they are both on the same page now. This conversation happens in the X-Men’s graveyard. It’s a bad sign when your super hero team has their own graveyard. It’s worse when the biggest memorial is also for a redhead who took on the Phoenix. Hope should be scared.

Beast, Iron Man, Agent Brand, Broo, & Iron Fist - Only this book would have this collection of Avengers and X-Men working on the end game to take out the Phoenix. What makes this book so good is moments like this. In probably the best interaction in this comic, Broo and Iron Man become quick friends through an exchange that proves Broo is ready for the big leagues. The students of the Jean Grey School are the reason I look forward to this book so much.

short box comic book reviews

Quentin Quire, Rachel Grey, & Professor X - This is a quick exchange but it was VERY important. Quentin calls Xavier out on no longer being relevant and spending all his time on the sidelines. This is something that fans have been rumbling about for a few years now. Ever since Cyclops kicked Professor X out of his mansion a few years ago, he has barley been an important character in the Marvel Universe. Xavier’s retort proves that he is the foremost educator and knows better than anyone on how to deal with an unruly student. His ability to play mind games are more than just his telepathy. These two pages alone were worth the price of admission for any X-Men fan.

Husk & Toad - This new relationship comes out of nowhere but should make sense because both characters have become marginalized at the school to different extents. I think Toad has paid his penance and deserves some happiness. I hope this goes somewhere.

Kitty Pryde & Iceman - This couple seemed to come out of nowhere but, through Kitty’s aggressive behavior, it seems to be moving faster. It makes Colossus’s decesion to become the Juggernaut and then a Phoenix that much more tragic. They always seemed fated to be together but his recent changes have alienated himself from Kitty completely.

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Kid Gladiator, Gladiator, Warbird - These Shi’ar characters story comes to a conclusion. I really came to enjoy Kid Gladiator and I really hope this is just the beginning of a new direction for this character. He fit in this school because he was a VERY powerful character who could just as easily become a villain as a hero. Warbird’s story, however, will probably continue more in Astonishing X-Men than this book.

Wolverine & Iceman - The status of their relationship is strengthen through their recent disagreement. I will say, however, that I believe Wolverine is just placating Bobby.

Idie & Hope - These two friends have a nice quiet moment before the inevitable storm. These two were a big part of the Schism and it’s nice to see them taking a breath before what could be the biggest battle of Hope’s life.

Other quick moments that mattered:

  • Angel graduates. The odd story of Warren’s new life continues.
  • Beast realizes how far they have come since his original X-Men days (foreshadowing “The All New X-Men”)
  • Integration of the other younger mutants from Utopia. Will they stay at the school after AvX?
  • Martha finds Evan cute and even stranger…Krakoa is attracted to Dust?
  • Professor X promises to save Cyclops
  • This version of the first class but with Wolverine in the role of Cylops and Rachel standing in for Jean.

podcast reviews blog beast short box

All this happened in one book that featured no fighting but kept my attention and excitement more than any book this week. If you loved the X-Men of the 80s and 90s…this should be your book.