What I’m Reading/Playing June 17 Edition

Hi all! I went on a short break to Brussels at the start of June and it was pretty great! Got to root around in like 5 comics shops and picked up some BD so let’s see what I got to reading this month!

READING

More Papyrus by Lucien de Gieter

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I really have a soft spot for this series and was glad to pick up a few more volumes. It’s light-hearted and just FUN to read! I have to mention though that the Imhotep one was VERY confusing. There are like 3 Imhoteps in it and it’s hard to keep track of which one characters are talking about. But, as usual, the artwork is just gorgeous and colored beautifully. The Ramses’ Revenge in particular has some stunning work involving a sand storm. Just lovely stuff!

Yoko Tsuno by Roger Leloup

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This one came recommended to me by a friend and it looked interesting, plus female protagonist! Who is an engineer! And Chinese-Japanese! It’s quite a lot of fun, but the plots are at times convoluted I thought. Didn’t really click with me as much as Papyrus did, but I do want to read more of the series (which is still going since 1970!). And the inking in this is just so, so lovely, I’d pick it up based solely on that!

More Assassination Classroom!

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I have no idea how I fell behind on this, it being my favorite series at the moment! Lots of stuff to do and I lost track of when the english volumes were coming out! Anyway, LOTS of good stuff in the last two volumes. We got a twist regarding one character and then we FINALLY learn Koro Sensei’s back story! Literally so much excitement going on! And now the classroom faces a choice and ARGH I cannot wait for the next volume! ♥

Josephine Baker by Catel and Bocquet

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Ok y’all, this one is a MUST BUY. Seriously. Nearly 500 pages of lovely black and white work by Catel documenting the amazing life of Josephine Baker. If you don’t know her name, do look her up. She was a fantastic woman, dancer, singer, actress, civil rights activist, who lived with immense passion and courage. You need this book, it was made with love and it’s a joy to read!

PLAYING

I’ve been rubbish at finishing games lately. Still need to beat the final boss in Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky 3rd and finish some of these other games too!

Never Alone

This game has been on my wish list for AGES and I finally picked it up in the Steam summer sale. It is lovely. Plus educational! The artwork is beautiful and you unlock video insights into the culture of the native Alaskan Inupiat people as you play. I was super impressed with this game and pretty much played it in two sittings. And you have a fox companion! It’s just a really nice game. Need to finish the DLC for it at some point!

Oxenfree

Heard great things about this adventure game and the artwork just drew me in so I picked it up in the sale. It is….not for the scardy-cats like me haha. I won’t say much about it other than be prepared for things to be MESSED UP. It has a Stranger Things vibe to it even if it’s set in current day. Definitely an interesting game, the radio mechanic is super cool and you get to know the characters quite well throughout the game. Top notch voice acting. I got near the end of the game in one sitting but I need to find a time of day to actually finish it! It is pretty scary (for me) haha.

Her Story

I was waiting to pick this up as well because everyone I heard talking about it said it’s excellent. And after 3 solid hours of being glued to my laptop, I agree! I have a few things to finish up but I’m very close to the end. It’s been really great unraveling just what the heck happened and I’d really recommend it. Quite a unique game, relying on short video recordings of police interviews to tell its story that you have to pick up clues from and search in an old database for the rest of the clips and the rest of the story. The actress playing her is phenomenal, she really brings the role to life. Just excellent all around.

Final Fantasy XIII

I was hungry for a pretty game to take full advantage of my new gaming laptop and FFXIII was it. Heard mixed reviews for it and it wasn’t on the top of my to-play list but really, I was just in the mood for something nice and light and pretty. The fight mechanics are more cinematic in this one, as they’re moving away from turn-based to more action oriented. It’s fun, even if I mostly look at the ATB gauge instead of the actual fight scenes. You only control the leader of the group while the other two are on autoplay. The level up mechanic is similar to FFX but so far I see less options. And the story is pretty melodramatic so far, with a TON of cutscenes, albeit visually pretty ones. It’s just fine. It’s fun and pretty and not massively addictive. Good game for just decompressing after a day’s work.

Ok that was a pretty solid month for reading/gaming!

In other news, did you miss this cover I did for the wonderfully funny webcomic Ship Wrecked? Colors by the very awesome Dearbhla Kelly, the first print volume of the webcomic written by Aaron Fever with art by Triona Farrell and letters by Zakk Samm is out this weekend at Small Press Day. Go pick it up if you can!

Until next time!

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What I’m Reading/Playing May 17 Edition

Ok, it’s been ages since my last post! I’ve been so rubbish at everything lately that there’s been no point in posting anything since I haven’t really read much! 😓 But anyway, here goes!

READING

32273165Future Quest, Vol. 1 by Jeff Parker, Evan Shaner, Steve Rude, Ron Randall, Craig Rousseau.

I LOVED the Hanna-Barbera cartoons growing up, especially Johnny Quest and with Doc Shaner on art (a favorite of mine), I was excited to pick this up! I enjoyed this book a lot, but it’s a bit overwhelming, especially if you haven’t been familiar with these characters for uhm, 15 years now? There’s also so many characters in it, I found it a very dense first volume. I wasn’t expecting another artist either and that was a bit of a letdown, but oh well. It wasn’t as excellent as the Flash Gordon run with (nearly) the same team (minus colorist extraordinaire, Jordie Bellaire) and I doubt I’ll pick up the second volume.

118944American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Finally got around to reading this seminal work and I really enjoyed it. It exemplifies what comics do best and that’s to make you experience someone else’s narrative and empathize with another’s point of view. Quick read, highly recommend it, especially for younger readers.

(Still reading, haven’t finished)

31415835The Ghost in the Shell, deluxe edition by Masamune Shirow

I’m slowly making my way through this and finding it quite a different experience than I expected. It’s a lot funnier than I though it’d be, having only ever seen the animated movie which isn’t all that funny. I especially love the worker robots, they’re hilarious. Really enjoying it, even if I do roll my eyes from time to time at some sexist crap. It’s also extremely beautiful.

 

Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy, edited by Josef Steiff and Tristan D. Tamplin

This is a super interesting collection of essays exploring the philosophical and social themes of the 2004 series (plus the mini series and movies and games). Having never read philosophy before, I’m a bit obsessed with this book, but making myself read it thoughtfully. I’m about 1/2 through it now and especially loved the essays on The Avatar and the Ego: Reconciling ourselves with video games;  Some cylons are more equal than others (about the constructed cylon social structure);  They evolved, but do they deserve consideration (about assigning moral status) and  The Razor’s Edge, Galactica, Pegassus and Lakoff (about Com. Adama and Adm. Cain as parental figures). It’s gotten me excited about reading more philosophy books!

PLAYING

I got a new laptop (finally!) and am able to play some newer games! Well, ok, it’s a pretty sweet spec and I could play ALL the games, but I try not to think about that on account of my wallet and limited time.

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Mass Effect 1 & 2

Only just got into ME and really just blew through the first one so fast. And then immediately got the second one, which I still need to finish. I love it a lot and my female Cmd. Shepard kicks ass. I like the dialogue and romance options and, although it can be cumbersome, I like the combat too! Wasn’t a fan of the Mako combat in the first one which was kind of a drag.

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The Talos Principle

Excellent puzzle game that exceeded my expectations. It has a wonderful story line woven through it that completely engrossed me. I found myself playing it so much just to see how it ended. Would definitely replay it to see the other endings, just as soon as I forget how to solve the puzzles.

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Legend of Heroes games, replaying the First Chapter and also playing the recently released 3rd Chapter.

Listen, it’s no secret I love these games, they’re my heart and happy place. I love all the characters and it’s so rewarding to see them grow across three games. I don’t think I’ll ever stop replaying them just for the fun of the gameplay and dialogue. The 3rd one is a bit weird though, feels more like a welcome addition rather than an actual mandatory game in the trilogy story line. I mean, it’s nice and all, you get the same characters, you have all these bonus memories of them doing stuff outside of the story line, but I feel it’s just not along the same lines as the other two. Also, so much grinding in this one. The other two have lots of side quests for EXP, mira (money) and sepith (natural gems) so you’re never really wanting for any of it. The structure of the 3rd one does have side-quests, but they’re bonus character memories with mira and an item at the end of it, but no EXP or sepith, which you end up having to grind.

Right, anyway, I’m done rambling. I promise to read more. And draw more. And maybe sleep.

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What I’m Reading Feb 17 Edition

Had lots to do in February, so not that much time for reading. Still, managed to get in a few books!

Sunstone, Vol. 5, Stjepan Sejic

I got into this series because I really like Sejic’s work. I’ve been following him since my dA days, way before I got into comics so I thought, hey why not pick it up? I ♥ this series a lot. Yes, it deals with kink (get over it), but its true strength is Sejic’s character development and comedic writing. He draws facial expressions like no one’s business, but what really took me by surprise is the genuine thoughtfulness that went into the character arcs. His final volume doesn’t disappoint, ending Lisa and Ally’s story perfectly.

The Lighthouse, Paco Roca

My first time reading Roca’s work and I quite enjoyed this short graphic novel. The artwork is a lovely black and white, with grey shading and the pure-hearted adventure made me want to read Jules Verne novels ♥

Francisco, a wounded, despairing sixteen-year-old Republican guard in the Spanish Civil War, is trying to flee to freedom by crossing the French border. In his escape, he encounters an old remote lighthouse, far from the warring factions. He is granted shelter by Telmo, the aging operator of the lighthouse. As Francisco recuperates, Telmo’s tales of epic adventurers who sailed the lost seas and discovered worlds unknown reignite the spark of life in the young soldier.

Postcards from the Edge, Carrie Fischer

I listened to the audio book, read by Carrie herself and really loved it. It’s hearbreakingly funny, as only Carrie could write. I really recommend getting it and then watching the movie with Meryl Streep and Shirley McLaine. I really loved both and they’re not the same material. The movie was also scripted by Carrie.

Love vol 4: The DinosaurFrederic Brremaud, Federico Bertolucci

I like this series. Each book is beautifully illustrated, as only French books have the time to be. This volume didn’t really grab me or tug at my heartstrings the way previous ones did, though. Brownie points for depicting the dinos with feathers!

 

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World, Rachel Ignotofsky

Ignotofsky highlights 50 women pioneers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) through her joyous illustrations. It takes you from Ancient to modern times, stopping to illustrate things like what tools you might find in a laboratory, or statistics for women working in STEM. Ignotofsky’s love for all the advancements these pioneering women made shines through her wonderful book. I love this book and all the courageous, amazing, rad women in it and I want to buy more copies so I can donate them to the nearest library!

Assassination Classroom vol. 14, Yūsei Matsui

I unapologetically love this series.  I saw a still of the live action movie adaptation during the Japanese Film Festival here in 2016 and while I didn’t go see it, the image stuck with me. It had this giant yellow octopus-like creature with the head of a smiley in a Japanese classroom and I was instantly hooked. When I saw the manga in my LCS, I picked up the first volume thinking I’d give it a shot. It was the first manga I read and I fell head over heels for it.

It’s a bit crazy and weird, but then the best things are. This class of school rejects gets assigned a new teacher, the octopus, and are tasked with assassinating him by the end of the school year. He’s super fast and near indestructible so, of course, the governments of the world task these kids to kill him before he blows up the Earth! You get to see this bunch of misfits grow individually and start to form a family of sorts while working to refine their skills as assassins.

It has its flaws (sometimes sexist and male-gazey, in relation to one character in particular), but it’s got a lot of heart and it’s the only series that makes me laugh out loud with every volume.  After an action-packed few books, vol 14 focuses more on the school events, but it’s still every bit as enjoyable.

The series also got adapted into an anime (2 seasons) and the above mentioned live action movie. I’ve seen part of the anime as I’m determined to hold off on the rest until I read the manga, which I find more enjoyable. At one new volume every 2 months and 7 volumes left, it’ll be a while!

Drawing in ink, Harry Borgman

This is a really helpful book for artists. It definitely changed how I think about inking, more so than any How to Ink Comics books. It’s a bit out of date (published in 1977), but it has a lot of good exercises for control, creating values and simplifying a drawing. Lots of different examples of hatching too, not just the diagonal crisscross I’ve been seeing. Maybe that’s just my limited exposure! Had to track down a used copy, but it’s not that expensive.

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What I’m Reading – Jan 17 Edition

Hey all. Like many nerds, books are my comfort zone, so I read and buy a lot of them. I thought I might do these monthly recaps to share with you what I’ve been reading. Length will vary.

January was a slow enough month and I was away for 2 weeks. Contrary to every other holiday ever, I actually read the books I brought with me. Well, most of them! So let’s get to it.

Proto Anime Cut Archive, Stefan Riekeles

I visited Berlin last year specifically to see the Anime Architecture exhibit the Tchoban Foundation had on. Once there, I had to buy the book that went along with it (although it was initially published in 2011).

It’s an interesting book that explores the work of 5 Japanese visual artists for such movies as Patlabor, Ghost in the Shell and Evangelion. The book focuses on those 3 movies (and their subsequent sequels) and sheds a bit of light on the production process and the role of each artist. For instance, concept photographer Haruhiko Higami scouted and photographed locations for Ghost in the Shell and Patlabor much like one would for a live-action movie.

After the storyboard and the first designs for a film have been produced, Haruhiko Higami’s job is to find and photograph appropriate landscapes and city-scapes to underpin the film’s vision. Higami makes images that form the basis for the final design. Some of his photos are used directly for layout drawings or as models for inspiring the production design.

The book features concept designs, layout drawings, photographs and painted backgrounds from the movies mentioned.

Was surprised to see that most of the hand-painted artwork these artists created were actually a composite of  a background painted in gouache and other elements in middle or foreground painted on transparent film (also gouache). The originals were also smaller than an A4 sheet of paper and while the book reproduces them larger than that (so you can take in all that ridiculous detail), it sadly doesn’t really capture their exquisite color.

Very interesting book and not to take away from the brilliance of the artists featured and their legacy, but I really wish the author would have included at least one female artist.

Clear Blue Tomorrows, Fabien Vehlmann, Ralph Meyer and Bruno Gazzotti

I picked this up along with the two below at the Cinebook stand at the 2016 Thought Bubble Festival. I read about it from Comics&Cola and it really intrigued me so I picked it up. I love that cover, by the way.

It’s an impressive book written by Fabien Vehlmann and illustrated by two artists, Ralph Meyer and Bruno Gazzotti. Nolan Ska travels to the past to stop a megalomaniac from starting down the path that will doom mankind and instead push him towards his first love: writing. But, of course, things aren’t as easy as that.

It’s an interesting premise (and timely, isn’t it?), executed well (in my humble opinion) and I thoroughly enjoyed the overall thread Vehlmann weaves as well as the imaginative self-contained short stories, often humorously illustrated. It could have just been an anthology of shorts and still been excellent, but the creative team goes one step further with an overall story that gives them purpose. I feel this is a book I’ll go back to frequently. Highly recommend it!

Berlin: The Seven Dwarves 1943, Marvano

I have mixed feeling about this book. As you might know, I’m interested in stories that take place during WW2 and Marvano delivers a touching story. It is very well researched, painfully beautiful in the way that only franco-belgian comics can be and the writing is top notch as well. The story is well paced and flashes back and forth between a peaceful present and the war of the past. The colouring  by Claude Legris is exquisite and full of subtle changes. Sadly, I found a few of the page layouts confusing and that took away from my enjoyment of the book.

I do love some of the things Marvano does visually, like these panels and pages:
   

The Amulet of the Great Pyramid, Lucien De Gieter

This is a really fun book! Set in Ancient Egypt, it’s an adventure book that follows the lead, Papyrus, and his friends as they solve the plot. Simple, fun and so enjoyable! What really impressed me about this book is how De Gieter approaches some of the pages and the inventive and fun ways he leads the reader across the page.

 

I love, love, love the arrows, such a fun thing to do in a comic! Safe to say, I’m gonna be buying all of the books in this series!

I’ve also been reading the sci-fi noir novel Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan (soon on Netflix!), but haven’t finished it yet.

And that’s it for now. Until next month!

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