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  • You Choose The Best Comic Book of 2016

    Best comics of 2016

    A lot of amazing books have come out in 2016. With Marvel revitalizing their line, DC’s Rebirth, to so many independent and creator-owned books dominating the stands, 2016 has certainly been a comic book year to remember.

    With that in mind, the staff at TFAW took a look at sales numbers, fan buzz, and our personal favorites of the year to create a list of the 25 best comics of the year. Now we want you, our awesome customers, to vote on this list to decide definitively what the best books of 2016 are.

    Voting will take place from Jan 1st through Jan 31st, so head on over to our  Facebook page  and cast your vote. Let your voices be heard and recognize all these amazing creators and publishers for all their hard work.

    Superman Vol. 01 Son of Superman
    By: Peter J. Tomasi, Doug Mahnke, Patrick Gleason
    The New 52 Superman is dead, but hiding among us for years was the original Big Blue. Now, a world without a Superman is in desperate need for Clark to leave the good life on the farm with Lois raising their son. This story simultaneously brings Superman back to formula, but also takes him in a direction he’s never really been before.

    Bitch Planet Vol. 2: President Bitch
    By: Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro, Taki Soma
    Powerful and gut-wrenching, Bitch Planet continues to explore themes of patriarchy and non-compliance. A must read for SJWs, feminists, and people who truly appreciate comics as an artistic medium.

    Wonder Woman TPB Vol. 01 The Lies
    By: Greg Rucka, Liam Sharp, Matthew Clark
    Wonder Woman has been interpreted in many ways over her 75 year existence. Instead of trying to hide this, Greg Rucka’s approach is to embrace this to try and get to the real heart of who Wonder Woman is. Not just a great jumping on point for new readers, but a definitive take on the character that will hold true for years to come.

    Black Hammer Vol 1: Secret Origins
    By: Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston, Dave Stewart
    Black Hammer is another in a long line of grand ideas by one of comics brightest stars, Jeff Lemire. This book has a unique take on superheroes and the art by Dean Ormston & Dave Stewart instantly ensnares the reader.

    Rough Riders Vol. 1
    By: Adam Glass, Pat Oliffe
    History in the making! Teddy Roosevelt, Jack Johnson, Annie Oakley, Harry Houdini and Thomas Edison make up an American dream team engaged in an epic shadowy war! Monsters and Mayhem folks!

    The Mighty Thor Vol 1: Thunder in Her Veins
    By: Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman
    Marvel is changing things up by casting Dr. Jane Foster as the new Thor. The goddess of thunder shines in this series as she comes to grips with heroism and her own mortality. Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman are the perfect pairing. Also: Loki.

    Divinity II
    By: Matt Kindt, Trevor Hairsine, Jelena Kevic Djurdjevic
    After Abram came crashing home in Divinity vol 1. Spending his entire life in the depths of space, Divinity II tells the tale of Myshka. Still beliving in the Communist ideal. She intends to play a very real role in the return of Soviet glory

    Old Man Logan Vol 1: Berserker
    By: Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino
    What happens when an older, more gruff version of Wolverine comes to the main Marvel Universe? A whole lot of fighting. He’s on a mission to to prevent a terrible future from happening. Andrea Sorrentino’s art is breathtaking.

    Detective Comics Vol. 01 Rise of the Batmen
    By: James Tynion IV, Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez, Al Barrionuevo
    Batman is notorious for being a lone wolf (bat?), but he’s always had his family behind him. Now it’s time to take the Bat-Family to the next level. Lead by Batwoman, Batman puts together a team of Red Robin, Orphan (Cassandra Cain), Spoiler, and Clayface to be ready for whatever threat comes Gotham’s way.

    Vision Vol 1: Little Worse Than Man
    By: Tom King, Kevin Walsh, Mike Del Mundo
    Vision has the perfect family: a wife, two kids, and a dog. Look elsewhere for over-the-top nonstop heroics; this book proves it’s the little moments that matter. Truly impeccable dialogue and top-notch art await!

    March Book 3
    By: John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell
    The third and final installment in civil rights activist John Lewis’ story in the battle for civil rights in the United States. 1963 was an incredibly turbulent time in America’s history, and John Lewis was not only in the middle of it, but a leader in getting us out of it, long before becoming a congressman. March will remind you there are real heroes in this world.

    Star Wars: Poe Dameron Vol 1: Black Squadron
    By: Charles Soule, Phil Noto
    With crisp and clean art by Phil Noto, Poe Dameron is one of the most beautiful of Marvel’s new Star Wars comics. Charle Soule explores Dameron’s uncanny skills and matching bravado.

    Paper Girls Vol. 2
    By: Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang
    Continuing where Vol. 1 left off, the misfit group of paper girls from 1988 find themselves transported to present day. Our main characters are forced to look at who they are, and who they may…or may not become. This superstar team continues to tell one of the craziest sci-fi stories currently on the shelves, while staying focused on the heart of any good story, the characters.

    All New Wolverine Vol. 01 Four Sisters
    By: Tom Taylor, David Lopez, Bengal
    With the death of Logan, clone daughter Laura Kinney (X-23) steps up to be Wolverine and the best she is at what she does. This book is bloody, emotional, hilarious, and beautiful. This is one of those unique books that can present adult subjects in a way that people of all ages can understand. Clone or not, All-New Wolverine definitely has soul.

    Dept. H Vol. 1: Pressure
    By: Matt Kindt, Sharlene Kindt
    Not your average murder mystery! An in depth(see what I did there) story taking place on a deep sea research station. Family, lies, secrets and creatures make for a spectacular, well-paced adventure.

    Steven Universe & Crystal Gems Vol. 01
    By: Josceline Fenton, Chrystin Garland, Kat Leyh
    They are the Crystal Gems. They always save the day! If you think they can’t. Here is proof that they always find a way!

    Monstress Vol. 1
    By: Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda
    A fascinating look at an alternate 1900’s Asia where monsters of god-like power are normal. Witness the journey of one teenage girl struggling to survive while trying to tame her own MONSTER.

    Black Panther Vol. 01 Nation Under Our Feet
    By: Ta-Nehisi Coates, Brian Stelfreeze
    Wakanda under the microscope. On the brink of civil war, treason and terrorist attacks ensue in T’Challa’s homeland. Witness Black Panther fight to save his country from all fronts.

    Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Vol. 01
    By: Kyle Higgins, Jorge Corona, Goni Montes
    “It’s Morphin Time!” This fantastic new series starts after the Green with Evil Saga. Takes us through a different path from the show, one that keeps it at the top of my reading every month. Perfect for fans new and old.

    Saga Vol. 6
    By: Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples
    Set three years after the end of Vol. 5, our story opens with Hazel in kindergarten. For a story that’s followed a family on the run through space since issue 1, Vol 6 shows them living a domestic and stationary life for the first time…and it doesn’t go too well for them. Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples continue to be a dominating power tag team.

    Sheriff Of Babylon Vol. 01 Bang Bang Bang
    By: Tom King, Mitch Gerads, John Paul Leon
    Currently known for his fantastic work on Batman, Tom King and Mitch Gerad’s The Sherriff of Babylon, is a suspenseful crime noir tale set in Bagdad circa 2003. King’s CIA experience in addition to Gerad’s life-like art style gives this series the accolades it deserves.

    Beauty Vol. 01
    By: Jason Hurley, Jeremy Haun
    The first STD that people actually WANT! In this world, The “Beauty”, transforms your body into its most beautiful version. People are literally dying to get it but the public is unaware of the side effects. Detectives Vaughn and Foster are on the case.

    Faith Vol. 01 Hollywood & Vine
    By: Jody Houser, Francis Portela, Jele Kevic-Djurdjevic
    Starting off as a side character in Harbinger back in 2014, we were given a full ongoing series of Faith Herbert this year. Written by the wonderful Jody Houser. This is a series meant for Fan-boys/girls, as Faith herself is as much of a geek as we are.

    Gotham Academy Vol. 03 Yearbook
    By: Brenden Fletcher, Moritat, Mingjue Helen Chen
    Our favorite students go back after their adventures last year, telling tales before everything went to chaos. Gotham Academy is an all-ages series perfectly suited for those wanting to move to Gotham, but are not old enough to drive there.

    Legend of Zelda Legendary Ed GN Vol. 01 Ocarina Time
    By: Akira Himekawa
    Viz does it again. While this is a reprint, if you’ve never read the Manga adaptation of the celebrated N64 game Ocarina of Time, this is a perfect time. Collecting vol 1 and 2, You get the complete tale.

    DON’T FORGET TO VOTE BY THE 31ST

    Honorable Mentions

    2016 had so many amazing titles that it was nearly impossible for us to narrow it down to 25. With that in mind, here are some honorable mentions of books that you should definitely check out. Odds are they made your own personal top 25.

    Batman Vol. 1 I Am Gotham
    By: Tom King, David Finch
    Gotham City has two new heroes, Gotham and Gotham Girl. With these super powered saviors doing what Batman can’t, is he really what Gotham City needs anymore?

    The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 04 Kissed Squirrel Liked It
    By: Ryan North, Erica Henderson
    I an age of dark and gritty superheroes, The Unbeatable Squirrel decides to have fun with the universe it lives in instead. Be prepared to smile.

    Dark Knight: A True Batman Story
    By: Paul Dini, Eduardo Risso
    Legendary Batman writer, Paul Dini, was beaten within an inch of his life. This autobiographical tale shows just how these iconic characters like Batman can get us through the darkest of times.

    Serenity: No Power in the ‘Verse
    By: Chris Roberson, Georges Jeanty, Karl Story, Wes Dzioba, Dan Dos Santos
    Set after the events of the previous series, Leaves on the Wind, No Power in the ‘Verse continues the tale of our favorite Browncoats

    I Am a Hero Omnibus Volume 1
    By: Kengo Hazawa
    A slightly crazy artist, and one of the few people in Japan that actually owns a gun, is neck deep in the zombie apocalypse.

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  • The Final Arc of Life and Death Begins

    NCBD 12/28/16

    Every week, we’re lucky to get a New Comic Book Day. With new titles, new arcs, and exciting continuations of ongoing stories, Wednesday is our favorite day. This week, Hulk starts over, the final arc of Life and Death begins, and Wonder Woman needs saving?!? Yep! As always these are only a few of the comics that came out this week. Check out our other blog articles so see our thoughts on other books. Be sure to comment or share our post on Facebook or Twitter if you like our articles!

    SPOILER ALERT — We try to keep from posting spoilers, but one may sneak through to our reviews now and again. Read with caution, true believers.

    Aliens vs. Predator: Life and Death #1
    By: Dan Abnett, Brian Thies, Rain Beredo, David Palumbo

    This issue kicks off the final arc of Life and Death, which is a crossover story that spans Prometheus, Aliens, and Predator.

    Aliens vs. Predator opens after the events of Aliens: Life and Death. The Colonial Marine ship Hasdurbal is under attack, and those on the surface of LV-223 are unaware of the danger there. What they do know however, is the threat of bugs is imminent. Xenomorphs are coming for them, and they may have to do the unthinkable to survive.

    Dan Abnett‘s Life and Death has been an exciting adventure to read from the very beginning. I hope that these are not the end of the Aliens/Predator/AvP/Prometheus crossover stories. [Martin M. at TFAW.com]

    SEE WHAT IT’LL TAKE FOR THE USCM TO SURVIVE

    Wonder Woman #13
    By: Greg Rucka, Renato Guedes, Romulo Fajardo JR, Liam Sharp, Brad Anderson

    With Wonder Woman not quite herself, it’s up to Steve Trevor, the one often being saved by Wonder Woman, to do what he can to save the person he loves. Steve, giving insight to his point of view on his relationship with our favorite Amazonian princess, narrates this entire issue. We also get to see his military and survival training put to the test as he tries to outthink and outlast their pursuers.

    Greg Rucka continues to redefine Wonder Woman while giving the reader a deeper understanding of the character, and how her supporting characters work. Renato Guedes does a great job filling in for regular Liam Sharp, giving us a brilliantly paced book, which often times can be difficult with narration heavy stories.

    Wonder Woman #13 does a great job building up a supporting character, and setting the stage for a new story arc you will not want to miss. [Mikey N. at TFAW.com]

    JOIN THE BATTLE WITH WONDER WOMAN

    Hulk #1
    By: Mariko Tamaki, Nico Leon, Matt Milla, Jeff Dekal

    I like to see the vulnerabilities in our heroes. The Flash is at his best when he’s up against the ropes. Iron Man excels when he’s forced to think (not punch) himself out of a situation.

    Hulk #1 picks up after the events of Civil War II where she suffered greatly at the hands of one of Marvel’s strongest villains and experienced the loss of a loved one. Jennifer Walters is battling depression, self-doubt, and a rage that she cannot bottle up for much longer.

    While we see hints of the Hulk bursting forth, this issue is about Jennifer and her experiences getting back to her normal life as a lawyer. Mariko Tamaki expertly handles Jennifer’s inner dialog (I went back through for a second reading to just read that) and sets up the tone for the series in this opening bow. Consider me hooked! [Josh C. at TFAW.com]

    JOIN THE NEW HULK SERIES TODAY

    What did you think of these books? What should we review next week? Let us know below!

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  • Wrap up your gifts with Comics

    Wrapping Gifts with Comics

    If you’re anything like me, you sometimes have stacks of comics that you might have doubles of, you won’t be reading again. Maybe you have some comics laying around that have cover damage or are otherwise a little beat up. Whatever your reason is for not needing them anymore, you can take those extra books and turn them into a unique gift exoskeleton ready to be torn into by the most visceral of recipients.

    Just like wrapping paper, this can be used for any situation. Does your kid like Steven Universe and have a birthday coming up? There are comics for that. Are you getting a gift for that horror fan in your life? How about past issues of Harrow County? Even if you’re low on comics in general and you don’t have a theme for what you’re doing, we have you covered.

    GRAB BAG COMICS ARE JUST 50¢ EACH

    TFAW’s 5-Step Comic Book Wrapping Process

    Let’s wrap a Conan Funko Pop using a recent issue of Cullen Bunn and Sergio Davila’s Conan: The Slayer.

    Step One: Remove The Pages.

    Gifting your present

    You’ll want to start in the center crease of the comic where the staples fold over. With a pair of pliers, a pen, or even a butter knife, bend the ends of the staple up so it’s easy to just slide the pages out.

    Step Two: Figure Out How Much Paper You’ll Need.

    Gifting your present

    Sometimes, just one page won’t cut it. You’ll typically need two or more to properly wrap an item. With something like a Funko Pop, I’ll need three full pages.

    Step Three: Attach pages together.

    Gifting your present

    Using clear tape, make sure to attach pages in at least four spots for support.

    Step Four: Wrap the gift.

    Gifting your present
    Gifting your present
    Gifting your present

    There are many styles of wrapping, but I try to keep it simple (because I’m not that good at it). Since comic pages are often thicker than wrapping paper, it can be a little harder to fold. You’ll want go for the simplest ways of covering the sides and corners, securely taping down ends when finished.

    Step Five: Present Gift!

    Gifting your present

    Now that the present is wrapped, let that person you care about tear up all your hard work.

    We hope this fun way to wrap your gifts helps out for whatever occasion you have in mind. Visit our Theme Pages to discover all sorts of comics that will make for the perfect wrapping paper.

    Happy holidays from all of us at Things From Another World.

    VISIT OUR THEME PAGES
    ORDER A 50¢ GRAB BAG COMIC

    Have you wrapped your gifts in comics? Send us photos of your wrapping!

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  • These People Won Awesome Prizes Signed by Chuck Palahniuk

    Chuck Palahniuk's BAIT Coloring Contest

    To celebrate the release of Chuck Palahniuk’s first adult coloring book, BAIT: Off-Color Stories for You to Color, we partnered with Palahniuk for a something pretty unique — the BAIT Coloring Contest.

    We received TONS of entrants, and have picked the winners! Thanks to everyone for entering, and a very special thanks to Chuck Palahniuk for partnering with us for this contest.

    BAIT Contest Winners:

    Third Place Prize Winner Third Place Prize: Fight Club 2 Poster signed by Chuck Palahniuk — Jill M., David L., Bre C.

    Second Place Prize Winner Second Place: Severed arm collectible signed by Chuck Palahniuk — Mitchell D., Marie T., Russel K., Karenina A., Katie M., Jazmine H., Marla S., Nikki F.

    Second Place Prize Winner First Place: Fight Club Signed Collector’s Edition HC — Max F.

    First Place: Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread Signed Collector’s Edition HC — Daman S.

    First Place: Survivor Signed Collector’s Edition HC — Bee M.

    Take a look at our winners’ entries below!

    Bee M.
    Bre C.
    Damian S.
    David L.
    Dylan T.

    Jazmine H.
    Jill M.
    Karenina A.
    Katie M.
    Marie T.

    Marla S.
    Max F.
    Mitchell D.
    Russel K.
    Nikki F.

    We’ll be shipping out these amazing prizes soon. Thanks again to everyone who created such fantastic pieces of art for this contest. It was a real pleasure seeing those come in this past couple months.

    Bonus for People Who Purchase BAIT at TFAW.com

    Hand-signed BAIT Bookplates will be included with copies of BAIT for a limited timeYou don’t need to win the contest to get something signed by Chuck Palahniuk! For a limited time while supplies last, we will be including special gilded bookplates that are handsigned by Palahniuk! Order your copy of BAIT as soon as possible to increase the chances that you’ll get one of these special copies.

    TAKE A PEEK INSIDE BAIT: OFF-COLOR STORIES FOR YOU TO COLOR
    ORDER YOUR COPY OF CHUCK PALAHNIUK’S BAIT

    Official Comic Book Continuation of Fight Club

    Ten years after starting Project Mayhem, he lives a mundane life. A kid, a wife. Pills to keep his destiny at bay. But it won’t last long — the wife has seen to that. He’s back where he started, but this go-round he’s got more at stake than his own life. The time has arrived to Rize or Die.

    The official continuation of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club has been collected in two beautiful editions, the Fight Club 2 graphic novel and the Fight Club 2 Library Edition HC. Check them out at TFAW.com today!
    ORDER THE OFFICIAL CONTINUATION OF CHUCK PALAHNIUK’S FIGHT CLUB

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  • Give Them a TFAW Gift Certificate & We’ll Give You One

    giftcertoffer

    There’s a saying that “It’s better to give than receive.” That’s all well and good, but we’re asking “Why not both?” This season you’ll get to add a little something extra to your collection while you get the geek on your list something for theirs.

    TFAW’s Holiday Gift Certificate Promotion

    Now through December 22, when you purchase a TFAW Gift Certificate for someone on your list, we’ll give you a bonus Gift Certificate for yourself.

    GIVE THEM $40, YOU GET $5
    GIVE THEM $75, YOU GET $10

    That’s pretty much it. We’ll send your special gift certificate to you via email after your purchase is processed in our system, typically the next business day. You get to mark someone off your shopping list, and then you can to get something for yourself — all without having to eat into your holiday budget. Win-Win.

    If you’d rather wrap something up, we’ve also created special Holiday Gift Ideas Pages to help you find the perfect present for the geek on your list. If you’re going this route, we recommend that you order by December 14 (and choose USPS 1st Class/Priority Mail) to give your package the best shot at reaching you for December 24.

    The magic date for our Holiday Gift Certificate Promotion is December 22!

    GRAB THEM A TFAW.com GIFT CERTIFICATE
    CHECK OUT OUR GIFT IDEAS PAGES

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  • The Few But Proud

    the_few_1_2

    Tales of humanity clinging to life and hope while the world as we know it is in absolute ruin will always be part of our popular culture. These stories speak to an optimism that readers can take solace in regardless of how bleak things may seem.

    The Few, a new series from Image Comics, is looking to become a quintessential entry in this post-apocalyptic sub genre. It follows the journey of Edan Hale, a young woman from a totalitarian portion of North America called The Republic. She’s on a secret mission to infiltrate The Remainder States of America.

    Mad Max Meets Station Eleven Sensibility

    It’s immediately clear how dangerous the world has become. Edan is assaulted by Mad-Maxian marauders taking orders from a would-be warlord named Herrod. Barely escaping the slaughter of a small town, Edan finds herself on the run from Herrod’s minions. She manages to save one of the townsfolk babies in the process and is forced to bring the infant along for the ride.

    After being left unconscious in the woods after fighting off her first wave of attackers, Edan wakes up to find herself in the care of a pair of survivalist brothers. These two marvel at both her escape as well as  the infant she has in tow. With their help she and the baby make their escape from Herrod’s forward troops, fleeing.

    She heads towards The Remainder States. We’re not told much about The States, only that it stands against the dictatorial ways of The Republic. Edan herself is unsure of just how much of a threat they pose.

    A Post-Apocalyptic World

    Sean Lewis’ writing is crisp and to the point, allowing much of the story to be told by Hayden Sherman’s superb art. There are bleak and barren landscapes of what was once Montana counterpointed by detailed character art. Sherman captures a broken future reminiscent of Steve Lieber’s work on Whiteout or Christopher Mitten’s Wasteland. Sherman’s scarce use of color, mostly red, highlights action and violence.

    One of the best aspects about The Few is that it’s creators do not feel hold the readers hand when it comes to world building. Often these types of stories get too wrapped up in the foundations of why these newly-created world’s are so messed up. The Few parses out bits of information, but does so in sync with main character’s discovery. We learn more about the world and Edan’s place in it while frantically following her quest to survive.

    PRE-ORDER THE FEW #1 AND THE FEW #2

    Like many of her best post-apocalyptic contemporaries Edan is competent without being an over-the-top badass. She is vulnerable without being a weak-kneed maiden in need of a rescue. She is driven, with enough humanity in her to question what she has set out to do.

    There is a great character emerging in Edan Hale that will leave readers wanting to see more of The Few.

    The Few #1, Image Comics, Release Due January 18, 2017, Written by Sean Lewis, Art by Hayden Sherman, $3.99.

    The Few #2, Image Comics, Release Due February 22, 2017, Written by Sean Lewis, Art by Hayden Sherman, #3.99.

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  • Life After Death

    afterdeath1

    Two of the top names in comics today are Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire, so a collaboration between these much-acclaimed creators is one of the year’s most anticipated comics. And it does not disappoint.

    AD: After Death pushes the comics medium in a new direction. This is a wholly original work and is not to be missed.

    Planned as a three-book (as opposed to issue) story, AD uses a mixture of prose and comics writing/art to tell the story of a future where death has been cured. Like a lot of great works in science fiction though, this concept serves a backdrop for a very human story.

    A Totally Unique Work

    The story plays around with some subtle world building, but is primarily interested in placing us in the head of its central character Jonah Cooke. Jonah is the narrator and recounts the vital role he played in the elimination of death. But that’s all the information we’re given about that in this first book.

    There is a pervasive sense of loss and regret throughout the story. Yet the languid pace of Snyder’s story washes over you and pulls you into this very somber, but engaging story.

    Image Comics is a publisher that has encouraged creators to experiment and push forward creative and original projects. I’ve never read anything like AD. Discussing plot details is almost impossible as so much of the book’s strength comes from its tone and style.

    Lemire, who many may know as a writer, brings to the book the same stunningly unique art that made Sweet Tooth and The Underwater Welder such incredible works of art.

    CATCH UP ON SCOTT SNYDER’S AMERICAN VAMPIRE SERIES.

    This book demands your attention. It’s rooted in such deep emotion and clearly has a lot of ambition moving forward. It’s tough to determine whether something will be a classic or not upon its initial release, but I’d be surprised if people aren’t talking about this as an important work for years to come.

    AD After Death, Image Comics, Released November 23, 2016, Written by Scott Snyder, Art by Jeff Lemire, $5.99.

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  • Remember, Remember

    rememberremember

    Few names are more recognizable in comic books than Alan Moore. He has created some of the most iconic and inspiring works in the entire industry. His memorable works include The Killing Joke, From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. But unlike most other comic writers, Moore has used his comics as a means to criticize injustices.

    alan-mooreThe man behind the comics was often maligned and criticized for alternative worldviews in the early days of his work, Much of his career has been spent fighting against inequality. An anarchist and outspoken supporter of minority sexualities and religion, Moore explored these themes in his decades-long career.

     

    JUMP INTO ALAN MOORE’S NEWEST PROJECTPROVIDENCE

    Many other writers of his time were afraid to include such themes. Moore was not. He included LGBT characters regularly in his writing. He often focused on grappling with social inequality, distributions of power and even touching on the ephemera of consciousness. Even when challenged by the mainstream, Moore held steadfast to his convictions. The result–some of the most powerful comic series ever created.

    The Struggle Against Tyranny

    Perhaps best known for his work in the Image comics title V for Vendetta, Alan Moore used this work as a vehicle for his political views. When he was writing it, an extremely right of center government was in power in his English homeland. Moore used the party as creative fodder, exaggerating their policies to extreme proportions. He took it further by installing the resulting tyrannical government as the leaders of a near future London.

    vendettaV for Vendetta chronicles the struggle against this tyranny. It follows the enigmatic title character V as he drives to inspire a resistance in a country exhausted by their leaders’ brutality. V’s efforts have were inspired by true events and V, has, in turn, inspired others to action.

    V was modeled (highlighted by the mask that he wears) after the infamous rebel Guy Fawkes. He played a key role in the Gunpowder Plot that took place on November 5, 1605, where he was arrested for guarding explosives intended for blowing up the British parliament. Dressed in black and donning a Guy Fawkes mask, V represents the fight for British freedom from a government oppresser.

    V Adopted by Other Groups Fighting Oppression

    Even after the initial fame of the series, V took on an entirely new kind of notoriety. It became something of a totem for activists on several different platforms. Probably most notable, the Guy Fawkes mask made famous by the character has been used by the hacker group Anonymous to conceal its identity as they work to right cyber wrongs. The mask has also become a mantle of sorts for Occupy Wall Street, the Bahraini protesters during Arab Spring, and many others.

    In response to the use of his characters real life manifestation in the political discourse, Moore said in a 2008 Entertainment Weekly interview:

    “I was also quite heartened the other day when watching the news to see that there were demonstrations outside the Scientology headquarters over here, and that they suddenly flashed to a clip showing all these demonstrators wearing V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes masks. That pleased me. That gave me a warm little glow.” – Alan Moore

    That same year, he defended his belief in anarchy in a short video, dispelling any doubt that he was in line with the movement that was taking up his imagery.

    Swamp Thing: Saga Of The Swamp Thing Book 02 HC
    Order Alan Moore’s Epic Swamp Thing Run

    But V does not stand alone in Alan Moore’s arsenal of activist comic book characters. During his run with The Saga of the Swamp Thing, Moore transforms the character into what we know him as now–an eco hero. Swamp Thing went from a has-been monster man to a deeply internalized comic hero. He could critically examine the relationship between man and nature in the way only a sentient plant could. Through him, Moore found a way to challenge such topics as pollution, climate change and the usurpation of natural resources. His position has been so notable that several serious literary critics have discussed Swamp Thing and his role as an insurgent ecological force for change.

    Moore’s Watchmen Takes on Power Imbalance

    And of course, no conversation about Alan Moore would be complete without discussing Watchmen. Considered by some to be the greatest comic book of all time, Watchmen is Moore’s masterwork. Much like he did with V for Vendetta, Moore built a new history for the world of Watchmen that shares deep roots with our own world, but varies in some key ways.

    PRE-ORDER THE WATCHMEN COLLECTORS EDITION BOX SET

    Watchmen takes place in an alternate universe where superheroes were introduced much earlier than most modern comics (with a few notable exceptions like Captain America and the X-Men), with the “golden age” of heroes taking place between the 1940s and 60s. The plot takes place in a mirror world that echoes the Reagan administration’s run in the US. This is intended to illustrate the catastrophic power imbalances that have lead the United States to the brink of a third World War.

    Watchmen Noir Hardcover
    Order Watchmen Noir HC

    Moore admitted that much of his motivation for Watchmen was to be a criticism for the Reagan administration’s. In a 1987 conversation with Neil Gaiman and Dave Gibbons for The Comics Journal, Moore said, “This is not anti-Americanism, it’s anti-Reaganism…”and “…at the moment a certain part of Reagan’s America isn’t scared. They think they’re invulnerable…”

    The series brings humanity terrifyingly close to complete destruction. This echoes Swamp Thing’s continual assertions of the fragility of human life. it also places the power to end everything into a disturbingly small number of hands, striking harshly against this feeling of invulnerability.


    FIND OUT WHO WATCHES THE WATCHMEN

    Although other comics writers have used their art to further conversations about political and social issues, few have done so as prolifically and expertly as Moore. In so doing, he has also helped to build a comic book legacy that includes political criticism and social change. So, this November, remember, remember that comic books can have much deeper meaning than what meets the eye. Brilliant creators like Alan Moore prove it.

    WANT MORE FROM MOORE? PRE-ORDER A COLLECTION OF 10 SHORT STORIES: BRIGHTER THAN YOU THINK YOU ARE

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  • Heroes From Another World

    other-worldly

    In the canon of comic book characters there are classic heroes like Superman and Batman, but there are also some off-center heroes that are not exactly the typical tights-wearing dogooders.

    These characters not of this world and ones who have more in common with classic monsters than masked vigilantes. However, their outsider status frequently grants them the ability to comment on humanity differently than their more conventionally human counterparts.

    Let’s start with the tragedy of Dr. Alec Holland, or as he’s better known to readers–Swamp Thing. Holland is a brilliant biologist working on a top-secret bio-restorative formula in the swamps of Louisiana. When a bomb planted in his lab goes off, Holland is splashed with burning chemicals and he runs into the swamp. The muck of the swamp merges with the chemicals and turns Holland into the moss-covered hero he has been ever since.

    Man or Monster?

    swamp-thingOriginally created by comic book legends Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, the original Swamp Thing stories deal in traditional monster tropes. We see Swamp Thing do battle with the mad scientist Arcane and his mutated UnMen, there are angry villagers, giant robots, and even a werewolf. Wein does manage to weave in a story about Holland trying to reclaim his humanity as an undercurrent in the fairly pulpy horror stories.

    Writer Alan Moore brought this undercurrent of humanity to the surface when he took over the book in 1984. Moore reconceived the character as a part monster that had been imbued with memories of Dr. Alec Holland. By inverting the story of a man made into a monster to monster made into a man, Moore created a metaphysical tale of character dichotomy. This change in creative direction brought a whole new audience to DC’s horror tale.

    Swamp Thing has changed creative hands a number of times in his four decades of history. The likes of Mark Millar, Brian K. Vaughn, Grant Morrison, and Scott Snyder have all added to his character development. With the ongoing struggle between man and monster and the trippy mythology gifted to him by Moore, Swamp Thing presents different creators with the chance to tell deeply human and emotional stories in the world of the macabre and the supernatural.

    Defining Deadman and Redemption

    deadmanSwamp Thing is not DC’s only undead superhero. Five years before Alec Holland fell into that swamp, readers were introduced to the aptly named Deadman. Created by Arnold Drake and Carmine Infantino, Deadman is the ghost of acrobat Boston Brand who was murdered during one of his acts. The Hindu god Rama Kushna gives Brand’s spirit the power to possess any living being. With this power and his new superhero identity as Deadman, he sets out to track down the man who killed him, a mysterious figure known only as “The Hook.”

    Much like Swamp Thing, it would be another comic book luminary not involved with the initial creation of the character who would come to define Deadman. Writer/Artist Neal Adams took over creative duties in the second issue and not only brought his legendary high detail art, but a new depth to Boston Brand’s story. In Swamp Thing, Alec Holland is an altruistic scientist trying to better humanity with his experiment. For all intents and purposes, Holland is a straight ahead good guy. Boston Brand on the other hand is not exactly a bad guy but he has cold streak of selfishness. He’s ruthlessly focused on keeping the circus business alive often at the expense of the feelings of his fellow performers.

    By creating a character that in life was not the greatest person, Deadman became a story of redemption. Brand was always seeking revenge on his killer, but he couldn’t resist using his newfound abilities to help people as well. This aspect of the character was made explicitly clear when he was rebooted for DC’s New 52. The creative team of Paul Jenkins and Bernard Chang added a new wrinkle to Deadman’s mythology. He must use his powers to help people in order to atone for his selfish life or be forced to spend eternity forever in limbo between life and death. The core of Deadman’s character becomes clear, this is a guy who has been given a second chance. The human urge to rectify one’s past behavior is a palpable and very emotional undercurrent to a story about a superhero who can possess people’s bodies.

    Hellboy Seeks Humanity

    Another otherworldly hero with a slightly different streak of humanity thahellboyn those mentioned before is Dark Horse’s Hellboy. The brainchild of writer/artist Mike Mignola, Hellboy is a half demon, half human who was born in hell. Unlike Swamp Thing or Deadman, Hellboy comes from another world and is brought into ours. As opposed to Alec Holland or Boston Brand trying to reclaim their humanity, Hellboy seeks a humanity that he was not born with. Hellboy though monstrous in appearance combats monsters and other supernatural evil for an organization called the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (or BPRD).

    Hellboy presents a character that rebels against his supposed destiny. He was created by evil to enact evil. His right hand is meant to bring about the end of the world. Hellboy chooses to ignore his destiny and instead lives a blue-collar lifestyle of a cop or a plumber, albeit one who combats demons and monsters for a living.

    Almost everyone has at one point or another in their life wondered about their place in the world or grappled with other people’s intentions for them. Most people probably don’t have apocalyptic prophecies connected to them, but Hellboy is a comic book after all.

    Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. They also come in varying degrees of being alive. However, humanity is at the core of all these stories. Whether it’s the struggle to regain humanity or a quest to understand humanity, it becomes clear that being human is not related to physical features. In fact, the most physically monstrous can often have the most emotionally complex and human of stories.

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  • Show Your Skills in TFAW’s BAIT Contest

    Chuck Palahniuk's BAIT Coloring Contest

    BAIT Contest at TFAW.comNew York Times bestselling novelist Chuck Palahniuk collaborated with incredible comic book artists to create BAIT: Off-Color Stories for You to Color, a coloring book unlike any that you’ve ever seen.

    Palahniuk invites readers to collaborate on this unprecedented hardcover edition: “Maybe between your colors, the artists’ designs, and my stories we can create something that endures. Something worth keeping. Let’s create a well-bound book that can sit on any shelf and be available for a new generation to discover and enjoy.”

    To celebrate the release of this ambitious book, we’ve partnered with Palahniuk for a special BAIT Coloring Contest that runs through December 12, 2016.

    We want you to take some time to unplug, express your creativity, and share your talents with the world. Visit our contest page to view contest details and learn how to enter.

    Extraordinary Prizes Await BAIT Contest Winners

    • Third Place Prize (Six Winners): Fight Club 2 Poster signed by Chuck Palahniuk.
    • Second Place (Ten Winners): Severed arm collectible signed by Chuck Palahniuk.
    • First Place (Three Winners): One of the following (to be determined at random)
      • Fight Club Signed Collector’s Edition HC
      • Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread Signed Collector’s Edition HC
      • Survivor Signed Collector’s Edition HC
    Severed Arm Collectible
    Fight Club 2 Poster
    Signed Collector’s Edition Hardcovers

    These are some amazing prizes, and the folks at TFAW are really jealous of the folks who will end up winning the contest. You all rock, and we can’t wait to see your art!

    Bonus for People Who Purchase BAIT at TFAW.com

    Hand-signed BAIT Bookplates will be included with copies of BAIT for a limited timeYou don’t need to win the contest to get something signed by Chuck Palahniuk! For a limited time while supplies last, we will be including special gilded bookplates that are handsigned by Palahniuk! Order your copy of BAIT as soon as possible to increase the chances that you’ll get one of these special copies.

    TAKE A PEEK INSIDE BAIT: OFF-COLOR STORIES FOR YOU TO COLOR
    ORDER YOUR COPY OF CHUCK PALAHNIUK’S BAIT
    SEE BAIT CONTEST RULES AND DETAILS

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  • Between the Occult and the Detective

    Between the Occult and the Detective

    There are two comic themes that when combined can make for enthralling reading — detectives/private eyes and magic. This coupling of sleuthing and the supernatural (including religion, the occult, sorcery and more) is pervasive in comics and the noir characteristics just heighten the thrills.

    hellblazerAnd no one fits that bill better than the Hellblazer himself, John Constantine. Created originally in Alan Moore’s Saga of the Swamp Thing in 1985, it wasn’t until 1988 when Hellblazer #1 hit the stands. Ever since, John has been working his magic in comics, on film in the Constantine movie, and in the short-lived and underrated Constantine television show. He’s  also part of pop culture in general (the Supernatural TV series borrows heavily from John Constantine for Castiel’s character).

    With 30-plus years of this character’s history, it can be daunting to know where to start. A good entry point is a graphic novel. Surprisingly, it’s not the  first volume — John Constantine, Hellblazer: Original Sins, but the fifth volume: Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits. Written by longtime Hellblazer writer Garth Ennis, this volume actually inspired parts of the 2005 Constantine movie.

    The story is pretty simple — John’s dying. All those cigarettes have caused an advanced terminal lung cancer. Knowing that his soul is damned and Hell is ready for him, John moves to cure his disease and save himself. What happens after he sets down this course is truly amazing.

    Another must read Hellblazer arc was created by celebrated crime novelist, Ian Rankin, for Vertigo’s crime imprint called Dark Entries in 2009. This was the first Original Graphic Novel (also called an OGN), meaning it was never released as single issues. The plot involves John trying to figure out why a house on a reality TV program is haunted. Of course, he can’t stop production, so he joins the series and starts to unravel the mystery.

    One of the big draws is the inclusion of religion within the series. It’s not just focused on Christianity. Voodoo magic is used regularly not only by Constantine, but his frenemy Papa Midnight. Although Catholicism is most prominent, the series never ignores the idea of other religions in the world.

    Look Overseas for Great Horror Comics

    Hellblazer isn’t the only series to blend magic and religion. Around the same time, Italian writer Tiziano Sclavi was introducing the world to Dylan Dog. A self-proclaimed Nightmare Investigator, Dylan, unlike John Constantine, was likeable. By 2011, Dylan Dog reached 300 issues, but only a handful made it to the United States.

    Dylan’s occult interactions mainly revolve around the classic monsters like vampires, werewolves, and zombies. Although, demons have crossed paths with him a few times.

    Many were first introduced to this character in the Dylan Dog Case Files from Dark Horse Comics. This graphic novel featured selected stories that were translated and released just prior to the Dylan Dog: Dead of Night film that starred Brandon Routh. The Dylan Dog Case Files is a great compilation of stories from the Italian series, but up until September 2016 it was the only source of Dylan Dog stories available in the U.S. Now, new stories are starting to come out from Epicenter Comics. Reportedly, there will also be reprints of past stories.

    How to Steal a Ghost

    ghostedAnother series that blends crime and the occult is Joshua Williamson’s Ghosted. Williamson is currently heading up The Flash series in DC’s Rebirth, and it’s been great.

    Ghosted, published by Image Comics, is further evidence that Williamson is the real deal. The series follows one of the world’s greatest thieves as he’s pulled into the world of the occult. He’s broken out of prison and offered the chance to steal something no one else has — a ghost.

    Think equal parts Ocean’s 11 and The Shining. Things are never as they seem, and our hero has to rely on more than his wits to get out of this situation. Pulling together a team of experts to help him steal this ghost, he assembles a psychic, an occult historian, a tech guy to record the ghost, and a skeptic. Overall, if you want to add a little heist into your horror, Ghosted is for you.

    Don’t Fear, The Slayer is Here

    buffyWho could really forget about the hit television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Buffy hunts vampires, but her adventures go WAY further than that including her best friend going into full-witch mode on her!

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer is Buffy Summers, the chosen one in a long line of young women destined to battle evil forces. She becomes “The Slayer” giving her increased physical strength, endurance, agility, accelerated healing, intuition, and a limited degree of clairvoyance. Buffy receives guidance from her Watcher, Giles, whose job is to train and assist the Slayers. Then it gets more complicated.

    But when the TV show ended, the fun didn’t. After the official comic book continuation of the series in Buffy Season 8, 9, and 10, we’re poised to jump into Buffy Season 11 in November 2016. Unencumbered by network television show budgets, this comic has gone to some great heights in recent years.

    The World’s Greatest Paranormal Investigator

    hellboyHellboy is one of the longest running, most widely celebrated horror series. With hundreds of issues and dozens of spinoffs, Mike Mignola has done something really amazing with this series by creating a new universe.

    Aside from DC and Marvel, there really aren’t a lot of big universes in comics, especially ones that walk that horror/mystery line so well. Hellboy or the “Mignola-verse” is a rich tapestry that features a variety of complex characters set a world that draws on centuries of folk-tales, yarns, and fables.

    Hellboy remains one of the few series that begs you to re-read the stories regularly. It’s great for curling up with during inclement weather or when you find yourself with an extended weekend.

    There are plenty of other occult and horror comics that split their genre with detective and noir storytelling. What are some of your favorites? Let us know below.

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  • Things That Go Bump in the Night

    go-bump

    Let’s face it, people love to be scared. There is a catharsis in scary stories — they allow us to face our fears but in a safe setting. It’s one of the reasons horror movies are popular and profitable.

    So, it’s no surprise that comics have a long tradition of horror stories. Going back to classic anthology series like Creepy or Eerie, comics readers have always had a fascination with macabre and the terrifying.

    Every medium has its own strengths and weaknesses in regards to telling stories in specific genres. Films tell horror stories use the unique combination of picture and sound to create atmosphere and build scares. Comics obviously lack the ability to create terror aurally or with rapid editing. This in no way makes horror comics less terrifying, it simply means they must rely on a different bag of tools to scare the pants off of readers.

    Comics are a medium built on turning two-dimensional drawings on a page into fully realized characters and worlds. In reading comics we as readers are asked to bring a lot to a story. We dictate the pace of the panels, the speed of the dialogue, and how long we linger on certain images. Our emotional investment must be extremely high to create a willingness to engage with the comic. To be scared we have to give ourselves over to the horror crafted by the creative team of book.

    Horror as the Backdrop for Morality

    walking-dead There’s no way to talk about modern horror comics without bringing up The Walking Dead, written by Robert Kirkman and drawn in its first six issues by Tony Moore and subsequently by Charlie Adlard. The Walking Dead is unquestionably one of the most popular and successful comics of the modern era. While being a horror story, this is a book with mass appeal. Just look at the monster success of the television adaptation. One of the big keys to the book’s success is that the zombie apocalypse is a backdrop for a moving and deeply tragic morality tale. The Walking Dead is about struggling to survive through hopelessness.

    In issue 24 of the comic, our protagonist Rick Grimes ends an epic speech with the line: “We are the Walking Dead.” It’s true, the characters of this book are doomed their only fate appears to be death or becoming part of the mass of flesh eating zombies. While this may seem incredibly grim, it actually allows Kirkman the opportunity to write a book examining the qualities of humanity that individuals and society hold most dear. While there is certainly dread in the frequent death or zombification of beloved characters, the book’s main focus is on the cost of survival. The moral debate at the center of the story is about what’s the point of surviving if we lose our humanity in the process.

    VISIT OUR SPECIAL WALKING DEAD SECTION

    Real Villains and the Potential for a Happy Ending

    The Strain Comics at TFAW.comThe struggle for humanity takes on a much more literal meaning in The Strain. Based on the series of popular novels, writer David Lapham and artist Mike Huddleston bring the story to comics. The Strain is about the apocalyptic spread of a virus that turns people into vampires.

    Unlike the faceless cause of zombies in The Walking Dead, The Strain has a tangible villain at the core of its story. The Master is a centuries-old creature of evil with a plot to take over the world. Our heroes are not doomed. The Strain instead takes on more of a war story vibe. This is about humanity’s struggle against an oppressor and conceivably this battle can be won. There is a potential happy ending possible in this world.

    It’s that hope that can actually be terrifying in The Strain. Instead of a world that’s already ended for all intents and purposes we see our world slipping into darkness and desperately root for our heroes to return things to normal.

    DISCOVER A NEW KIND OF VAMPIRE IN THE STRAIN COMICS

    The Setting Amps up the Fear

    harrowWhile The Walking Dead and The Strain are urban nightmares about the dissolution of society, there is also room for more gothic horror in comics. Harrow County by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook is a creepy and wonderfully unsettling piece of Southern Gothic storytelling. Focusing on a small town’s fears of a young girl becoming a witch, there is a streak of paranoia that runs throughout the book. Of course, there’s the classic (and historical) image of a mob of frightened townsfolk trying to burn a witch. But there’s also the paranoia of one’s own destiny. If you’re told you’re going to be evil and do wicked things, does that mean your fate is sealed?

    Playing on the classic horror trope of the fear of the matured woman and the power she can wield, Bunn and Crook also bring in plenty of eerie imagery. Images of a skinless boy and of course, his now sentient skin crossed with fiery ghosts and mulit-eyed monsters will stick with readers long after they put the book down. Especially, when they are presented in Crook’s dreamy hauntingly beautiful watercolor panels.

    PLAN YOUR TRIP TO HARROW COUNTY

    Delving into Madness

    Pixu graphic novel at TFAW.comPlaying into it’s own disturbing imagery though in a much more stark manner is Pixu from the Eisner winning team of Gabriel Bá, Becky Cloonan, Fábio Moon, and Vasilis Lolos. Pixu delves deep into a Lovecraftian tale of madness and ever-encroaching darkness. The book bounces around a collection of tenants in an apartment complex. The disparate stories start to intertwine as the madness of the characters grows. This book plays on one’s fear of losing one’s sanity, a potent and always horrific concept especially in the hands of such masters of the medium.

    TAKE A PEEK INSIDE PIXU

    Humans Aren’t the Only Heroes

    Beasts of Burden at TFAW.comFor those looking for something a little more off the beaten path, there is Beasts of Burden from Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson. It’s your classic paranormal investigation team story, except all the investigators are dogs and cats. While this may sound like a cute and cuddly kids book, it’s straight up horror (with a bit of a wink). These household pets battle with a cannibalistic frog, cat witches, and even team up with Hellboy in one story. For those looking to balance their monsters and supernatural entities with adorable animals here is a book for you.

    LEARN MORE ABOUT BEASTS OF BURDEN

    So, it’s clear horror is alive and well in the comics world. There are plenty of stories out there to give you creeps, but hopefully now you might have a greater understanding of why they scare you. Monsters and creepy imagery are a hugely necessary part of a horror story, but the sign of a great one is an emotional resonance that sticks with you long after the story is finished.

    VISIT OUR HORROR SECTION

    What’s your favorite horror comic? Join the conversation by posting your comments below!

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