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Kyle Starks

The Most Interesting Comics of the Week

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Kyle Starks

Every Wednesday, I write about the most interesting new comics hitting comic shops, bookstores, Comixology, Kickstarter, and the web. These are not necessarily reviews (though sometimes they are) but more pointing out noteworthy new comics that you may want to seek out. Feel free to comment below if there's a comic you've read recently that you want to talk about or an upcoming comic that you'd like me to consider highlighting.

1. Over Easy

By Mimi Pond
Drawn & Quarterly

In one of my first columns here, I highlighted Mimi Pond's charming webcomic about a road trip she took with some friends to a hamster show (yes, a hamster show. Just go read it). Pond has had a long career making short comics and writing for a variety of classic TV shows (she wrote the first episode of The Simpsons as well as episodes of Pee Wee's Playhouse and Designing Women). This week, she releases her first graphic novel, a fictionalized memoir called Over Easy that she has been working on for the past 15 years.

Pond recounts her experiences as an art school dropout who took a job as a dishwasher in a quirky restaurant in Oakland, CA. She has changed the names of all the characters that appear, as well as the name of the restaurant itself. It's referred to as the Imperial Cafe, but the real restaurant (which still exists) is called Mama's Royal Cafe. She also changes her own name (here she is Margaret who, in turn, takes on the name "Madge" as way of reinventing herself within the story). This is a coming of age tale in which young, naive Madge learns to become a confident and creative woman.

Over Easy is set in a transformative era in California when the hippie subculture of the 1960s quickly becomes the punk subculture of the 1970s. Sex and drugs were still flowing freely but women, living at the start of second-wave feminism, now were becoming freer to make their own choices about what they want to do and who they want to do it with. Madge practically idolizes the waitresses in the Imperial Cafe for the no-nonsense attitude they take with their customers and for their freedom to pick and choose who they sleep with (who are sometimes their customers). Eventually, Madge works her way up to becoming a waitress herself, learning to navigate the sexual and social politics of the job.

Pond's artwork, a combination of pen and watercolor wash, gives her story an approachable, quirky look. The entire book is colored in a greenish blue hue that seems somehow "diner-ish" while also feeling like it is conveying the soft haze of a memory. Like a lot of auto-bio comics, there can be a sense of "well, you just had to be there" with some of Pond's anecdotes, but she generally has a knack for telling funny, engaging stories. She is currently working on a sequel, which will explore the next stage of her young adulthood.

Drawn & Quarterly has a PDF preview of Over Easy here.

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2. Sexcastle

By Kyle Starks
Kickstarter

If you love '80s style action movies (and who doesn't, really), you're going to want to back the Kickstarter for Kyle Starks' 200-page graphic novel that has a name you can’t forget: Sexcastle. It's a mashup of all the tropes you love from cheesy tough guy films, and filters them through the absurdist lens of comic book comedy.

We first meet Shane Sexcastle at his birth when the doctors inform the nurse that “this baby was born mean." Fast forward 30-odd years to Shane being released from prison. He’s a former assassin/secret service agent who is ready to start a quiet life without all the constant killing that usually surrounds him. Shane is like a cross between Kurt Russell, Patrick Swayze and David Carradine, complete with eye patch, long hair, kung-fu skills and a frank way of telling you how it’s going to be. Almost immediately he gets caught up in defending a mother and her son from a ruthless small town crime boss and has to fend off a team of assassins that resemble all your favorite '80s action stars like Sylvester Stallone, Steven Seagal, and Mr. T.

This is a laugh-out-loud comic from a real rising talent. I first noticed Starks' work on Tumblr with his hilarious series of comics, Secret Agent Toddler In A Man's Body. He draws in a simple, angular style similar to Box Brown and Bryan Lee O'Malley. Starks has a great sense of comedic timing and can really draw an action scene. He hits all the right notes here—anyone who grew up on these movies will eat this up.

There is a week to go on the Kickstarter for Sexcastle and it has already exceeded its goal. I'm not sure what Starks' future publishing plans are, so this may be the surest way to get your hands on a copy. Pledge your support here.

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3. Flash #30

Written by Robert Venditt and Van Jensen; art by Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund
DC Comics

One of the biggest questions since DC rebooted their line of comics in 2011 has been: "Where is Wally West?” Debuting in 1959 as Kid Flash, the teen sidekick to the “Silver Age Flash" Barry Allen, West took over the name after Allen's death in 1985's universe-altering mini-series Crisis on Infinite Earths. For an entire generation of readers, Wally West was the Flash. That is, he was until 2009 when Barry Allen was brought back from the dead. The older Barry Allen fans were ecstatic, but younger readers were a little put off. Then, when the so-called "New 52" reboot took place and Flash #1 debuted with Barry Allen as the one-and-only Flash, Wally West was seemingly not a part of the new continuity.

Now, finally, 30 issues into the new series, DC has promised we'll see a new Wally West. There has been a lot of speculation about how the character might be different in this new universe and whether or not DC actually plans to make him into another version of the Flash. The answer may lie within future timelines that will apparently play a part in this new story arc, and that will feature heavily in upcoming DC events like the new weekly series Future's End.

This issue also debuts the new creative team of co-writers Robert Venditti and Van Jensen with artists Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund. Venditti and Jensen have previously worked together on the Green Lantern books. Like fellow writer Jeff Lemire, they are some of the few current DC creators who have come in from successful careers making indie comics (Venditti is best known for his series The Surrogates and Jensen for the much-loved Pinocchio Vampire Slayer). Jensen spent years as a crime reporter for a small newspaper and will be bringing that experience into the police procedural aspect of the book in which Barry Allen is a forensic scientist for the Central City police force.

You can read a preview of Flash #30 here.

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iStock
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Pop Culture
5 Bizarre Comic-Con News Stories from Years Past
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iStock

At its best, Comic-Con is a friendly place where like-minded people can celebrate their pop culture obsessions, and each other. And no one can make fun of you, no matter how lazy your cosplaying might be. You might think that at its worst, it’s just a series of long lines of costumed fans and small stores crammed into a convention center. But sometimes, throwing together 100,000-plus people from around the world in what feels like a carnival-type atmosphere where anything goes can have less than stellar results. Here are some highlights from past Comic-Con-tastrophes.

1. MAN IN HARRY POTTER T-SHIRT STABS ANOTHER MAN IN THE FACE—WITH A PEN

In 2010, two men waiting for a Comic-Con screening of the Seth Rogen alien comedy Paul got into a very adult argument about whether one of them was sitting too close to the other. Unable to come to a satisfactory conclusion with words, one man stabbed the other in the face with a pen. According to CNN, the attacker was led away wearing handcuffs and a Harry Potter T-shirt. In the aftermath, some Comic-Con attendees dealt with the attack in an oddly fitting way: They cosplayed as the victim, with pens protruding from bloody eye sockets.

2. MEMORABILIA THIEVES INVADE NEW YORK

Since its founding in 2006, New York Comic Con has attracted a few sticky-fingered attendees. In 2010, a man stole several rare comics from vendor Matt Nelson, co-founder of Texas’ Worldwide Comics. Just one of those, Whiz Comics No. 1, was worth $11,000, according to the New York Post. A few years later, in 2014, someone stole a $2000 “Dunny” action figure, which artist Jon-Paul Kaiser had painted during the event for Clutter magazine. And those are just the incidents that involved police; lower-scale cases of toys and comics disappearing from booths are an increasingly frustrating epidemic, according to some. “Comic Con theft is an issue we all sort of ignore,” collector Tracy Isenhour wrote on the blog of his company, Needless Essentials, in 2015. “I am here to tell you no more. It’s time for this garbage to stop."

3. CATWOMAN SAVES THE DAY

John Sciulli/Getty Images for Xbox

Adrianne Curry, winner of the first cycle of America’s Next Top Model, has made a career of chasing viral fame. Ironically, it was at Comic-Con in 2014 that Curry did something truly worthy of attention—though there wasn’t a camera in sight. Dressed as Catwoman, she was posing with fans alongside her friend Alicia Marie, who was dressed as Tigra. According to a Facebook post Marie wrote at the time, a fan tried to shove his hands into her bikini bottoms. She screamed, the man ran off, and Curry jumped to action. She “literally took off after dude WITH her Catwoman whip and chased him down, beat his a**,” Marie wrote. “Punched him across the face with the butt of her whip—he had zombie blood on his face—got on her costume.”

4. MAN POSES AS FUGITIVE-SEEKING INVESTIGATOR TO GET INTO VIP ROOM

The lines at Comic-Con are legendary, so one Utah man came up with a novel way to try and skip them altogether. In 2015, Jonathon M. Wall tried to get into Salt Lake Comic Con’s exclusive VIP enclave (normally a $10,000 ticket) by claiming he was an agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and needed to get into the VIP room “to catch a fugitive,” according to The San Diego Union Tribune. Not only does that story not even come close to making sense, it also adds up to impersonating a federal agent, a crime to which Wall pleaded guilty in April of this year and which carried a sentence of up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. In June, prosecutors announced that they were planning to reduce his crime from a felony to a misdemeanor.

5. MAN WALKS 645 MILES TO COMIC-CON, DRESSED AS A STORMTROOPER, TO HONOR HIS LATE WIFE

Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Disney

In 2015, Kevin Doyle walked 645 miles along the California coast to honor his late wife, Eileen. Doyle had met Eileen relatively late in life, when he was in his 50s, and they bonded over their shared love of Star Wars (he even proposed to her while dressed as Darth Vader). However, she died of cancer barely a year after they were married. Adrift and lonely, Doyle decided to honor her memory and their love of Star Wars by walking to Comic-Con—from San Francisco. “I feel like I’m so much better in the healing process than if I’d stayed home,” he told The San Diego Union Tribune.

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Funko
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Pop Culture
Funko Is Bringing a Ton of Old-School Hanna-Barbera Characters to Comic-Con
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Funko

Long before The Simpsons or SpongeBob SquarePants dominated the airwaves, classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons like Wacky Races, Scooby-Doo, and The Huckleberry Hound Show reigned supreme. Now, some of the American animation studio’s most nostalgic characters are getting the Funko treatment.

As Nerdist reports, the toy manufacturer is launching a pop-up store at Comic-Con International, which runs this year from July 20 through July 23 at the San Diego Convention Center. The Get Animated! Pop!-Up Shop will sell exclusive models of Hanna-Barbera characters that fans can't purchase anywhere else.

For Wacky Races aficionados, there's a Big Gruesome model, two Rufus Ruffcut figurines (both of which come with a tiny Sawtooth), and two Peter Perfect models, one of which includes the notoriously rickety Turbo Terrific drag racer.

A Funko figurine of Big Gruesome from the Hanna-Barbera cartoon
Funko

A Funko figurine of Rufus Ruffcut from the Hanna-Barbera cartoon “Wacky Races.”
Funko

A Funko figurine of Rufus Ruffcut from the Hanna-Barbera cartoon “Wacky Races.”
Funko

A Funko figurine of Peter Perfect from the Hanna-Barbera cartoon “Wacky Races.”
Funko

Scooby-Doo comes in three colors, including green, pink, and blue.

A Funko figurine of a green Scooby-Doo.
Funko

A Funko figurine of a pink Scooby-Doo.
Funko

A Funko figurine of a blue Scooby-Doo.
Funko

Funko also pays tribute to The Jetsons and Huckleberry Hound, with the beloved blue dog getting his own Pop! Animation eight-pack (each dog has a different outfit) and Rosie the Robot getting her own Pop! Animation three-pack.

A “Huckleberry Hound” Funko Pop! Animation 8-pack
Funko

“The Jetsons” Funko Pop! Animation 8-pack of Rosie the Robot
Funko

You can view the full round-up over at Nerdist, or by visiting Funko's blog.

[h/t Nerdist]

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