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Seven Years in Dog-Land Review

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Alice Carroll is a 10 year-old girl who lives with her dad, Lewis Carroll.  Their relationship is cold and distant, and Alice doesn’t appear to have any recollection of her deceased mother.  When Alice’s pet Labrador Retriever, Charlie, runs away from home, Alice takes it extremely hard.

Alice eventually leaves home to search for Charlie.  During her search, she stumbles upon a magical world ruled by giant dogs.  In Cania, the canines talk and sapiens are their pets.  The sapiens resemble humans, but they’re filthy and act like savages.  The enslaved sapiens are used as household pets, circus acts, and whatever else their owners force on them.  The canines even breed sapiens.

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Alice is considered a special type of sapient because of her cleanliness, intelligence, and most of all, her ability to talk.  She is personable, and has caught the attention of Dulac, the sapiens pet trader.  Dulac decides to keep Alice for himself, and he’s as dirty as dirty can get.

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Not all of the canines are cruel.  There is an activist group that wants all sapiens to be free.

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But will Alice ever find Charlie?  Better yet, will she ever find her way back home?

Seven Years in Dog-Land is an indie comic created by Johny Tay.  Phenomenal script with amazing character interactions.  This enlightening fantasy pretty much resembles our world.  Dogs are kept as pets by humans.  We breed them, dress them up in clothing, and make them perform tricks.  As for selling the sick sapiens to the butcher.  Well, um, I often read about meat recalls.  Sick cows, pigs, green slime, etc.  Anyway, you know what I’m talking about.

The art is in black-and-white, and although I would like to see it in color, it doesn’t take from the story at all.  I especially like how Tay drew Alice to stand apart from the sapiens.  You can definitely tell she’s not one of those savages.

You can read the first half of Seven Years in Dog-Land for FREE online.  Check out Tay’s website for additional information such as a rundown of characters, and ordering information.

VERDICT (drum roll please)

I recommend this title for dog lovers, readers of fantasy, or for those that are looking for a good indie comic to read.  I give this title 4.5/5 stars.

 

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Comic Book Donations Should Not Include Fake Charities

I recall following Communities for Kids, a Twitter account that sought comic book donations for kids.  I was new to Twitter, so I don’t remember much about it.  But I strongly remember a Twitter account, Comics4Kids, surface with the same solicitations.  Even back then, I thought it was odd.  Eventually Communities for Kids faded away, but Comics4Kids remained.

Comics for Kids is/was/is/was/is/was (it goes from being open to closed over the past few days), a Twitter account that solicits comic books, original art, and monetary donations.  The books are supposed to be given to children to help promote literacy.  Art is supposed to be a prize for donors.  Monetary donations are supposed to be used for shipping the comics to kids.

Comics for Kids, or Comics4_Kids (this Twitter handle will not get hyperlinked anywhere on my blog), claims to be a non-profit organization based out of Tishomingo, MS.  Michael Whitehead is the CEO, and appears to be the only employee.  A few days ago, I began to read several tweets questioning the non-profit organization’s true motive.  I saw a tweet with a picture of a young boy holding a certificate.  I zoomed in on the picture to read the child’s name.  His last name is Whitehead.  I thought, “Hmmm, I wonder if he’s related to Michael Whitehead.”  After reading a few more tweets, I learned the Twitter war apparently started from that picture.

The purported charity was asked if the child in the picture was related to the CEO.  It didn’t take long for Michael Whitehead to become enraged and start going off and blocking those who questioned his ethics.  He talked big-time smack, and even tweeted “You honestly make me sick,” to one individual, and “Fuck you (person’s name)” to another.  And guess what?  All of this was tweeted under the charity’s brand.

Here’s Bleeding Cool’s article about the chaotic Twitter war that expanded over a few days.

I became suspicious of this charity months ago.  The account always asks for comics (including CGC), rare comics, original art and money.  I have never seen pictures showing where the donations have gone.  Several times a month a picture is posted showing two stacks of USPS packages ready to ship, along with a tweet asking for money to ship them.  First of all, we don’t know what’s in those envelopes.  Second, it’s the same damn picture every time.  You don’t see any pictures of kids with their books, or the comic drives the organization claims to host.  Contest winners for original art are never announced.  The same two pictures of the same two original drawings are tweeted all the time.  So yeah, I was on to that Comics4Kids Twitter scam a while back.

By the way, there is no active website, and they removed their Facebook page.

The Twitter feud was so intense that Mark Waid, a well-known, respected, and influential comic creator, stepped in.  Waid is hotheaded, but he tells it like it is.  He was out with it and called Michael Whitehead out on key issues.

I am not known in the comic community, but I’m vocal whenever I feel the need.  I tweeted a couple of comments, basically telling Comics for Kids to show us they want to help kids.  I was blocked from their Twitter account a few hours later.

There is always someone looking for comics to read.  And there are several ways to get comic books in the hands of those who want them, including children.

  • Garage/yard sale
  • Mom2Mom sale.  These sales are gaining in popularity.  My family participated in two of these sales over the past year.  Kids went wild over the comic books.  We sold them for 25 cents each.  I gave a lot of them away, simply because we didn’t want to take anything back home.
  • Your local library.  Call and see if they accept donations.
  • Shelters
  • Physician offices
  • Hospitals.  Call the volunteer office, or Nurse Manager on a specific unit, and ask if they will accept comic books to be placed in the waiting rooms.  Volunteers may even take them into the patient rooms.  I work in an ER and our pediatric ER receives donated books all the time, including a few comics.  They’ll be getting more soon, because I’m in the process of going through my own kids comics.

You don’t need to send money to these so-called charities to help ship comics either.  Why do such a thing when there are kids in your own neighborhood that would love to have a comic book?  We’re surrounded by children, so let’s help them.  Sponsor a child by taking him or her to a comic shop, or giving them your child’s unwanted books.

I have a cousin with a daughter in middle school.  Her daughter often asks to stop by the comic shop on their way home, because it’s down the street from the school.  So of course I told my cousin that I will take her daughter to the store and let her get whatever book(s) she wants.

There are plenty of ways to help people, children and adults, obtain comic books.  Supporting a fake charity should not be one of them.

Promoting literacy goes beyond just handing a book to a child.  Can the child read?  Is it age appropriate?  Is there any parent involvement?  You just can’t hand a book to a child and say you’re helping to promote literacy.  That’s why it’s a good idea to start helping kids to read comics at home.  By home, I mean with relatives, friends, neighbors, co-workers.  They all have children that want comic books.  Start with the locals.

I have a co-worker whose 5 year-old son loves anything and everything Spider-Man.  My son reads and collects Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man.  A couple of times while at the comic shop, I bought an extra copy for her son.

A few months ago, a man took his young son into the comic shop to buy his first comic book.  The man had enough money for maybe one or two books.  I grabbed a $5 bill from my purse because I wanted to make sure that little boy did not leave the store without his first comic book(s).

If you insist on donating to charity (some like to do it for bragging rights), please play it safe and research the organization first.

Original Sin #1 Review

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Uatu the watcher, one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe, has been murdered.  First of all, how is that even possible?  Second, who was bold enough to kill the Watcher, and what gun was large and powerful enough to blast a hole in his ginormous head?  The killer(s) even stole his eyes.

I would say the Watcher was caught off guard, but that would be silly of me.  Uatu was the Watcher, he saw EVERYTHING in the universe.

Nick Fury is the leader of a stellar cast of heroes and vigilants, including some of my favorites such as Black Widow, Thor, Black Panther, Dr. Strange, Punisher, Moon Knight, and Gamora, as they work endlessly to solve the greatest murder mystery in the history of comics.  Not just comic books by Marvel, but ALL COMICS.

Jason Aaron is the writer of this chilling eight-part mini-series, published by Marvel Comics.  Sharp dialogue with great character interactions.  Aaron created a diverse team of heroes and vigilantes, and I can’t wait to see them work as a team.  With snarks such as Punisher and Wolverine, I’m sure I’ll be laughing at some point.  Well I already did, the scenes with Punisher and Dr. Strange.  But for now, I need to focus on Aaron’s frightening script, because this is one murder mystery that is definitely getting my full attention.

The superb artwork was provided by Mike Deodato (artist) and Frank Martin (colors).  Their frightening panels match Aaron’s script perfectly.  I especially like that magnificent spread of the Watcher sprawled out on the floor with blood gushing from his eyes, and the gunshot wound to his head (I work in an ER so I’ve seen it all, nothing is gross to me).

I’m definitely going to read the entire the Original Sin mini-series.  However, I’m not going to read all of the tie-ins, just the titles I currently read.

VERDICT (drum roll please)
Original Sin is a great murder mystery that I strongly recommend.  Along with the art, the writing is sharp and gives that frightening feel that’s needed to appreciate this suspensful comic to the fullest.

I also recommend that you read Original Sin #0, it’s an introduction to Uatu the Watcher. 

Original Sin #1 gets 5/5 stars.

Grimm Fairy Tales Presents: Helsing #1 Review

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Liesel Van Helsing escaped the Shadowlands, after being trapped for more than a century, and is adapting to life in the present.  Not only is Liesel an inventor and a skilled hunter, she is also the daughter of the famous vampire slayer, Abraham Van Helsing.  And Liesel Van Helsing has already proven to be a badass in this debut issue.  Helsing is a 4-part horror comic mini-series, published by Zenescope.

Liesel invents and uses her own weapons to extinguish vampires.  Her latest weapon is a gun that shoots stakes, laced with a chemical that explodes upon contact with the vampire.  The explosion emits a sunlight effect, causing an instant kill.

When her father’s diary mysteriously appears, Liesel Van Helsing travels to Italy to search for answers, starting with who sent it and why.

Pat Shand is the writer of this horror comic mini-series.  Well-written script, especially Liesel’s stern voice.  I don’t like modern-day vampire stories, I prefer the classics, vampires that only come out to play at night, and are killed by a wooden stake driven through the heart.  Shand appears to have kept the classic vampire traits and that is what hooked me to this comic.

The awesome visuals are provided by Tony Brescini (art), Andress Esparza (art), Fran Gamboa (colors), and J.C. Ruiz (colors).  I especially like the cold and eerie feeling I got while looking at Walt Melville.  It’s like a warning for me to read the rest of the series in the daylight.  But I’m not.  I’m a horror, especially classic vampire fan, so I’m not scared to read the book at night.

VERDICT (drum roll please)
If you’re a fan of classic vampire stories, or horror in general, then I strongly recommend this 4-part mini-series.  Helsing is a classic vampire story with a modern-day twist.  And I don’t mean that vampire walking around in broad daylight and taking forever to turn into a vampire twist (ugh).  I know that sentence was long-winded sentence, I just always wanted to write one.   The debut issue of Helsing gets 5/5 stars.

Elektra #1 Review

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To escape the memories of certain individuals in New York City, Elektra Natchios, or just simply Elektra, the beautiful but world’s most deadly ninja assassin, pays the matchmaker a visit and requests a contract.  The matchmaker gives her a job that no one else can come close to cashing in on, the capture of Cape Crow, an assassin that may prove to be Elektra’s biggest rival.  Not only does Elektra has to get to Cape Crow before other assassins, she also has to turn him in alive.

If you’re already familiar with this female assassin, then you know that she is no joke, and I’m more than sure that this All-New Marvel NOW! title won’t be one either.  I’ve read Elektra:  Assassin and a few issues of Marvel NOW! Thunderbolts, so I have high expectations for this new comic series.

W. Haden Blackman did a great job at setting up the story, and introducing Elektra to readers who may be unfamiliar with her.  Well-written script, especially Elektra’s sharp tone.

Unfortunately, I am not fond of the art.  I’m not saying that Michael Del Mundo (art, colors) and Marco D’Alfonso (colors) didn’t do a good job, because they did.  It’s just not for me.  It looks like a painting, and that’s not the style I was looking for in this type of comic.

Although I don’t like the art in this story, I still plan to finish the first arc.  I need to know what’s going to happen on Monster Island, and just who the heck Bloody Lips is.

Verdict (drum roll please)  
Elektra, the new comic series by Marvel, has a strong opening.  Just because I don’t like the style of art for this title doesn’t mean I’m not going to recommend it.  I recommend this title for the mature readers.  I give this issue 4/5 stars.

Deadpool vs Carnage #2 Review

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I bought this Marvel comic book for three reasons.  Deadpool, Carnage and

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the parental advisory warning on the cover.  I knew right away this title would be a good one.

Actually, I bought Deadpool vs Carnage because I read Deadpool’s ongoing monthly comic series, and I’ve read a few Carnage titles in the past.  Two murderers, both with a history of mental illness.  Jokes from Deadpool.  Promising threats from Carnage.  Violence, bloodbath, massive chaos.  You can’t ask for anything better.

Serial Killer, Cletus Kasady aka Carnage, escaped from prison, and law enforcers are unable to track down the deranged, mass murderer.  It takes a like-minded individual such as Deadpool to snuff him out.

In the first issue, Deadpool used hidden clues from the media to track down Carnage.  Clues that only someone who is light upstairs would be able to comprehend.  

In the current issue, Deadpool gets assistance from a guy who appears to be almost just as loony as Deadpool and Carnage.  I knew he was crazy when he opened the door wearing Deadpool’s costume.  I won’t spoil it.  You’ll have to read the comic for yourself to know what I’m talking about.  I promise you it’s very funny.

Deadpool vs Carnage is a violent, but fun mini-series written by Cullen Bunn.  Dialogue is both hilarious and frightening.  Character interactions are phenomenal, especially the fight scenes between Deadpool and Carnage.

Phenomenal art thanks to Salva Espin (artist) and Veronica Gandini (colorist).  Although I knew what to expect from Deadpool and Carnage, I couldn’t help but to cringe at some of the panels.  Espin killed it on the fight scenes, and Gandini bought the entire book to life with her colors.

Deadpool vs Carnage is a four-issue mini-series, so there is no doubt I will be reading the final two issues.

VERDICT (drumroll please)
I strongly recommend this funny, but extremely violent mini-series for Deadpool and/or Carnage fans, and mature readers.  If you’re not familiar with either character, this title will surely give you a taste of what you’ve been missing.

I’m giving this issue 5/5 stars.

 

Earth Dream (Vol. 1): Earth Day Review

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If you’re looking for an Earth Day activity (or even if you’re not), then a great way to celebrate is by reading Earth Dream (Vol. 1):  Earth DayEarth Dream is a sci-fi fantasy anthology that includes 11 short stories by indie writers and artists.

Earth Dream, produced by indie comic publisher, 7 Robots, focuses on social awareness.  This year’s spotlight is on the environment.  The anthology is available online every year on Earth Day, and it’s FREE.

With indie creators like Suzie and Miguel (Super Corporate Heroes), Jerome Walford (Nowhere Man) and Johny Tay (Seven Years in Dog-Land), I knew Earth Dream would be nothing less than superior.

All of the stories are wonderfully crafted, and each writer has his or her own unique writing style.  A couple of the stories appeared to be vague to me, I had no idea as to the meaning.  But that’s okay.  The art made up for it.

The artwork is stunning.  I could have used the entire anthology as a picture book.  As with the writers, each artist has his or her own unique style.  Some of the pages were so breathtaking, I had to look at them more than once.

I found the following stories to be of exceptional quality, whether script, art or both:

  • The Hole – Ireneusz Mazurek and Marek Rudowski.  Dark and creepy art.
  • Paradise Found – JTW.  First thing that comes to mind is Crayola crayons.  Bold, beautiful colors.
  • The Nature of Time – Annibal Arroyo.  Great script and art.
  • The Guardians – Recondita Rick.  Great script, Beautiful art.
  • Shangri-La – Johny Tay and Kelvin Lim.  Amazing art.  Looks like a painting.

By getting your free online copy of Earth Dream from indie comic publisher, 7 Robots, you are not only helping to celebrate Earth Day 2014, but you are also supporting the indie comic industry.  The talented creators of this great collection of short stories are from the U.S., Spain, Singapore, Canada and Poland.

For more information and to download your free copy, visit www.7robots.com/earthdream

I truly enjoyed reading Earth Dream, and I’m looking forward to reading more from these talented creators.  The indie comic market is growing, and my support for the industry is growing as well.