Mare Internum

Probably about once every two months, I find a new web comic to read, and if I like it, whether it’s been going for years or only a few weeks, I’ll read through every published page. I favor the comics with a narrative–really they fall into more of a graphic novel format–because I like to see how the author develops themes and character personalities over the long term compared to more episodic works where we essentially start from the same place with every new strip.

Mare Internum, the latest comic I’ve read through, is a great example of why I prefer a narrative. The story starts off with a man who is, apparently, suicidal, but over the next three chapters (including the one currently in-progress) his drive for survival apparently shocks him out of his depression. So we get to a see a whole slice of this character’s range of emotional states as he navigates the beautiful scenery and strange creatures Der-shing Helmer renders within the subterranean Martian landscape (cavescape?).

What really excites me though is seeing a web comic I love on store shelves. Here’s hoping that happens for Mare Internum.

Collected: Plano

I visited Collected, a games and comic books store in Plano, this weekend. Collected has four other locations (Fort Worth, Keller, Burleson, Hurst). Plano is a smaller shop, in a shopping stip dominated by a Tom Thumb. You might have some difficulty to find it at the moment since the sign is down, but just park towards the corner of the lot away from Parker and Independence and look for a Batman logo in the window. Anyway, I say it’s small, but it’s a full-service affair.

From browsing their back issues, I’d say they are lacking the depth of a catalog of some larger stores, but they have the newer titles you might expect, and they keep up with the major publishers campaigns and what’s popular. I didn’t interrogate their back-room so they may have more comics in storage. Really though, among five locations, it seems likely they could find what you’re looking for. In terms of organization, the general scheme had no surprises: newer titles on the wall, a kids section up front, trades and manga near the center, and back-issues in the back, with some figurines and table-top gaming materials on their own wall by the tables. It would have been better if they had broken up trade paperbacks by major publishers, since it looks better, and it’s easier to scan titles because a given publisher usually standardizes their spines to some extent, but at least they’re alphabetized overall.

Again, Collected isn’t just a comics store: they do games too! At the Plano location, they do Saturday morning Yu-Gi-Oh meet-ups and (IIRC) they also have monthly Yu-Gi-Oh competitions. Then, there’s D&D on Wednesdays and Magic the gathering on Wednesdays and Fridays. There are other regular events as well, and you can even host your own event in their space. (Aren’t they nice?) Worth mentioning, all Collected locations are Pokemon Go ‘Pokestops’, and this month, they are hosting their first Pokemon Go trainers meet-up at their TCU location.

There was only one staff member there when I was there, but she was knowledgeable both about the store’s stock, and about the comics scene and it’s history. Lastly, they also sell sturdy boxes for your comics if you don’t favor slinging them carelessly on your desk (like me). Overall, I’d say the store is worth checking out if you’re in the area. Visit their website for more info: http://staycollected.com

Fresh Ink

Remember that segment on Attack of the Show, with Blair Butler? I got to re-watch an episode of Fresh Ink recently thanks to Archive.org’s collection of G4TV AOTS episodes (I’ve lost track of it since then). Picking through a few episodes, I’m reminded of its shortcomings, like blatant sexism and use of off-color jokes. Still, I can’t deny that it was a favorite TV show of mine during my middle teenage years — a regular source of nerd-news and entertainment. Disconnected as I am from that time, I have to wonder if kids like me have their own version of AOTS (the show went off the air years ago).

Anyway, to the reason I’m posting: new comic book purchases! As usual, I got a couple of randos, and one from a series I was already reading. I bought Chew v. 6, which series I started more than a year ago now, but which I’ve only picked up on-and-off. This installment (inevitably) revived Poyo, the homicidal bionic chicken, but showed a gentler side of him than I’ve seen before. Also, not spoiling anything since this volume is years old, but Tony’s twin sister, the NASA agent, Toni, dies at the end of this volume. She was hardly my favorite character, but it was a bummer to see her go so soon after her power is formally revealed, not to mention the fact that her influence on the other characters’ missions, particularly, Agent Valenzano’s, was just starting to be revealed. Peeking ahead though at volume 8’s cover, it looks like Toni will be helping her bro catch “The Vampire” in a much more literal sense than seemed possible at the end of this volume. (Medium, anyone?)

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The first impulse buy is a continuation of a spin-off. I read the entire Lucifer series between my high school and college years, and enjoyed it, so when I saw Lucifer #6  by Holly Black(story) and Stephanie Hans(art), it caught my eye. Although missing the forgoing issues of this story arc, from this issue I see that there’s a new challenger to Mazikeen Morningstar’s place in the old creation. An unacknowledged offspring of Lucifer and Izanami-no-Mikoto, Takehiko, is about to contest the placement of Lucifer’s right-hand and lover as the light-bringer in his stead, and he’s accompanied by a ‘liberated’ young satanist woman, a classic red-devil-with-horns for an uncle, and an unexplained change of clothes I just noticed. The art isn’t in a style that I particularly like, though I can’t place my finger on exactly what I don’t like about it. Also, something about how the characters’ facial features are about as malleable as clay throws me off. That said, I’m excited to see where this goes: Mazikeen showed herself to be a capable, independent leader of the Lillim as a military force, but I still haven’t seen how she rules on a universal scale, in a universe which she didn’t ask for, and faced with an upstart like Takehiko.

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My last purchase is Monstress. So far, I’m not getting into the story so much. It’s some kind of feudal humans and demons story with a talking animal guide. I mostly bought it because it looks pretty, but maybe I’ll like it? Art is by Sana Takeda and writing by Marjorie Liu.

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