Superman GN Review

Andrew Uys - writer and comic book creator - shares his love for comics in his on-going GN review vlog! The first of a 3 part review on YouTube covering all the best Superman graphic novel comic books!

New review of Superman for All Seasons by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, along with Superman: Red Son by Mark Millar and Dave Johnson. You can also find me on Twitter & Instagram at @uys999. Always enjoy reading comments & suggestions, so speak up and share your opinion!

Batman GN review!

Andrew Uys - writer and comic book creator - shares his love for comics in his on-going GN review vlog! The first of a 3 part review on YouTube covering all the best Batman graphic novel comic books!

New graphic novel review: BEST BATMAN COMICS! Trying a new format this week, so make sure to watch Parts 2 & 3 where I continue sharing the best Batman graphic novels from my personal library! First up...

Captain America GN review!

Andrew Uys - writer and comic book creator - shares his love for comics in his on-going GN review vlog! This is the 1st of a 4 part review on YouTube covering all the best Captain America comics from the 60s to now!

 

The best Captain America comics you need to read! Excited for Captain America: Civil War? I am! So, to really share my favourite Cap Am reads, I dressed up in my best Cap cosplay before laying down the comic book guru knowledge! My qualifications?

Graphic Novel Reviews on YouTube!

Andrew Uys - writer and comic book creator - shares his love for comics in his on-going GN review vlog! First up, Andrew's Top 10 Image Comics (chosen from his personal library) in 10 mins!

10 Titles in 10 minutes! Newest graphic novel review takes a look at THE best Image Comics titles you need to have read...did I miss any? WALKING DEAD EAST OF WEST SAGA CHEW FEAR AGENT POWERS VELVET FATALE WITCH DOCTOR THE AMAZING JOY BUZZARDS

Lessons Learned: New York '95

First Love in NYC.

Another "Escape from..." tale? No! Years before the infamous Calgary adventure, Stewart fell in love during a weekend trip to New York City! Discover a tale of young, geeky love - and how comic books helped win the lady's heart!

  Enjoy another true tale from the geek love guru, Andrew Uys, where only the names have been changed to protect the foolish and unfortunate!

Written by Andrew Uys. Illustrated by Bram Cayne.

(All Ages/5 pages/black & white)

Warhammer miniature painting commissions!

Accepting commissions! 25 years+ painting a range of miniatures, all models will be table/play ready when finished!

CONTACT ME

Painting price guide:
(in Canadian $$$)

Size:  Basic/Standard/Gold/Character/Character Gold/Award Winner (specific model quotes only)

x-small    3/6/8/8/10
small       7/12/15/20/30
medium   12/18/20/28/40
large        17/25/35/45/55
x-large     25/45/55/65/80
huge        45/70/80/90/100
mega       75/115/130/150/175

Basic (3 colours, wash, dry brush)
Standard (basic + good detail + basic highlighting; camo schemes + more options available)
Gold (standard + amazing detail + highlights & shading; camo schemes + more options avail)
Character (same as standard but with customization + decals if provide/compensated for; great for leaders, characters, monsters, and special models)
Character Gold (same as gold but with customization + decals if provide/compensated for; great for leaders, characters, monsters, and special models)
Award Winner (same as Character Gold but perfect for dioramas or special units that you want to visually command any table)

+basing/flocking
+customization

Contact me by clicking on the link at the top of the article, or at uysfaber@gmail.com!

Price discount on Astra Militarum/Imperial Guard, bulk orders, and Toronto / GTA located-individuals who don't require shipping or transport costs.

Lessons Learned: Christmas in Calgary

Young romance. with snow.

Stewart is invited to spend Christmas with his girlfriend's family. And, even though the temperature could freeze moose balls in less than 30 seconds, a merry time was had by all.
Happy Holidays!

  Enjoy another true tale from the master of mayhem, Andrew Uys, where only the names have been changed to protect the foolish and unfortunate!

Written by Andrew Uys. Illustrated by Bram Cayne.

(All Ages/5 pages/black & white)

Lessons Learned: YOUTH GROUP VS. THE RACCOON

TEENAGERS & WILD ANIMALS DON'T MIX!

Stewart's parents always insisted that he attend the local church youth group. Little did they realize how dangerous/fun it could be.

  Enjoy another true tale from the master of mayhem, Andrew Uys, where only the names have been changed to protect the foolish and unfortunate!

Written by Andrew Uys. Illustrated by Dov Smiley.

(All Ages/6 pages/black & white)

Lessons Learned: UNIVERSITY '98

LIVING DOWNTOWN TORONTO IS FULL OF SURPRISES!

Stewart really appreciated attending the University of Toronto; so many parties, people, and adventures to enjoy. Living downtown TO was certainly an experience for this friendly ginger!

  Enjoy another true tale from the master of mayhem, Andrew Uys, where only the names have been changed to protect the foolish and unfortunate!

Written by Andrew Uys. Illustrated by John "DK" Kartigan.

(Teen+/5 pages/black & white)

Lessons Learned: NEW ZEALAND SWIM

Ever had a day where you were literally drowning?

Stewart tried white water rafting back in 2004 while visiting New Zealand. One waterfall drop later and this story was born. Enjoy another true tale from the master of mayhem, Andrew Uys, where only the names have been changed to protect the foolish and unfortunate!

Written by Andrew Uys. Illustrated by Rob Vellone.

(All-Ages/5 pages/black & white)

Lessons Learned: HALLOWEEN '89

Remember going out Halloween night as a kid?

Stewart and his best friend have hatched a scheme to collect the MOST EVER chocolate possible...if they can just stay out late enough! Like all LESSONS LEARNED stories, this comic book is based on real life events. Only the names have been changed to protect the foolish and unfortunate.

Written by Andrew Uys. Illustrated by Matthew Salonen.

(All-Ages/5 pages/black & white)

Shelf Gold: Rachel Rising

By Andrew Uys

Shelf Gold is a new ongoing segment that looks at comic book series that get a little less attention in the mainstream market, but which are definitely worth adding to one’s collection. If you are already familiar with the titles being reviewed, well good for you Mr/Ms/Miss Fancy Pants! Instead of feeling smug in your indie cred, why don’t you share some suggestions for the UysFaber staff to read and review? Post your recommendations in the comments section below, or respond to us on Facebook or Twitter, and we’ll add your picks to our pull list pronto!

The first pick for the new year is Rachel Rising by Terry Moore. It’s published by Abstract Studio (which really only exists to allow Mr. Moore to publish his works independently). Terry Moore’s biggest success to date is Strangers in Paradise, a “cult classic” that has been collected in nineteen graphic novel volumes, which in turn have been condensed into six massive pocket books. I only call Strangers in Paradise a cult classic because its readership was comprised primarily of non-traditional comic fans, which back in the late ’90s meant women. Even years later, with all its awards and multiple reprintings, most Marvel and DC readers are unlikely to have heard of Terry Moore’s indie epic. Rachel Rising aims to change that.

With the advent of fangirls (or nerd girls/geek girls/female readers) being acknowledged by “The Big Two” as a growing (and already major) segment of the comic book market, more and more titles have been produced with them in mind. Creators like Terry Moore have been tapped to work on “mainstream” series, with mixed results. Mr. Moore’s bibliography includes (very) short stints on Birds of Prey and Runaways, along with a volume of Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane and a Buffy the Vampire Slayer one-shot.

While it’s great seeing talented indie creators brought onto “major” titles to add a fresh perspective to the characters, I can safely bet that the publishers were banking on Moore’s female readership following him to these “girl-geared” comic books. Not a bad strategy per se, but Terry Moore’s creative brilliance truly shines when he can make the characters his own, and isn’t being asked to “create within the lines” as Marvel and DC are wont to do. On a creator-owned project one doesn’t have the same restrictions that come with long-term franchise titles, and this tends to add a freshness and unpredictability to the story.

Terry Moore is one of those truly talented individuals who can both write and illustrate. And while this brings a great cohesion to his work, the most immediate appeal of Rachel Rising to me is the art. Terry Moore is one of the few creators gifted enough to be able to work in black and white and have it convey just as much detail and character recognition as any 4-colour title. A master of depicting the female form, Moore draws women who are attractive without being wholly unrealistic. I’m just as much a fan of Ed Benes, but comparing the images below, any honest comic book reader must acknowledge that Benes’ style conforms more to fanboy expectations of their superhero characters than to an actual woman’s anatomy.

Terry Moore’s simplistic line style and great use of negative space allow him to convey the tiniest emotional shifts without relying on narration or dialogue. In addition, and as I’ve already remarked, he is able to create immediately distinguishable characters without the use of colour or flashy costumes. For me, this is especially important when reading a new series where I’m unfamiliar with the characters and the storyline hinges on engaging with its diverse cast. A good example of this problem is 100 Bullets by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso.

100 Bullets is a superb series, but the gritty dark mood of the world can make distinguishing between some of the characters a little difficult, especially if you are reading the monthly issues. I have come to recognize the importance of brightly coloured costumes—they serve as shorthand for who’s who. Tall lanky fellows with mussed up brownish hair and dirty off-grey suits can begin to blur together when the comic book medium doesn’t have auditory clues to help distinguish between the characters. And this problem can become even more apparent when a series is printed in black and white, and doesn’t have skin tones and hair colour to set the story’s players apart.

Still, Terry Moore’s artwork never falls into this trap. Instead, the exquisite detail that his minimalistic style brings to the page is reflected in his character’s faces—the curve of a nose or the texture of the hair easily signifying the character’s identity. This, combined with his superb paneling and beautiful hand lettering, makes Rachel Rising a visual treat for any reader. Of course, Terry Moore doesn’t skimp on the storyline either, and this is what attracts me to his latest series over his previous works.

I already mentioned that Rachel Rising aims at expanding beyond Terry Moore’s traditional fan base, and this is seen in the subject matter of the story itself. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing here that would drive away folks who have enjoyed SIP, but Rachel Rising is decidedly darker in tone than his previous works. Echo, his last on-going series that wrapped up in 2011, was Terry’s first attempt at returning to creator-owned material while trying to retain new fans from his more mainstream work. A blend of relationship drama and sci-fi, Echo just didn’t connect very well with readers. So now it’s out with science fiction, and in with the supernatural!

Rachel Rising starts off with the mysterious resurrection of a recently murdered young lady called... Rachel. From there we meet her weird and wacky friends, while also being pulled into a series of bizarre murders that appear linked to Rachel’s own death. What makes Rachel Rising such a delight is that unlike more mainstream comic books, anything can (and does) happen. No character is “safe” because they are a Lois Lane or Tony Stark. There are no epic battles that the reader knows will be ret-conned or reversed when the next blockbuster movie is about to hit theatres.

This unpredictability only works, though, if we connect with and care about the characters and what happens to them. In this regard, Terry’s characters’ quirks, grudges, and friendships help quickly pull the reader into the series. It doesn’t hurt that almost every issue has some new twisted death to keep things exciting, while the backstory of why these murders are happening is slowly parceled out so you cannot wait to get the next issue. And while this story doesn’t draw upon actual historical events, as more of the plot is revealed in the second volume “Fear No Malus” (collecting issues #7-12), one would be hard pressed not to connect it to past (and present) atrocities that are committed out of fear and superstition.

These darker and more violent supernatural elements will certainly appeal to readers of Ed Brubaker’s Fatale or Jason Aaron’s Ghost Rider, and reach beyond the comic book ’verse to fans of Supernatural or The Sixth Sense. Moore’s deft mix of empathetic characters and gross-out deaths equals a great read that, given its creator-owned nature, is far more rewarding to buy than many of the more “mainstream” titles out at the moment. Combined with his stunning artwork, Terry Moore’s Rachel Rising is one of those books that too few comic fans know about, but everyone should be reading!

Shelf Gold: S.H.I.E.L.D. Architects of Forever

By Andrew Uys

S.H.I.E.L.D.: Architects of Forever is another in a series of hits for Jonathan Hickman. From his earlier publications—The Nightly News, Pax Romana—to his acclaimed run on Fantastic Four, Hickman has become known as the thinking man's writer. His mini-series S.H.I.E.L.D.: Architects of Forever certainly doesn't disappoint, with its deft weaving of Marvel continuity and scientific icons into a gripping storyline that exposes the 'secret' history of everyone's favourite fictitious espionage organization.

When this limited series first debuted, its use of Nathaniel Richards and Howard Stark—fathers to Mister Fantastic and Iron Man, respectively—definitely drew fan attention. Its more mysterious characters, the Night Machine and his son Leonid, left a few people scratching their heads as to what this storyline was really about. Was S.H.I.E.L.D.: Architects of Forever a ret-conned history of the organization prior to Nick Fury’s involvement? An alternate timeline and/or multiverse dimension that wasn't Earth-616 (the designation of Marvel's principal Earth)? And how did famous figures such as da Vinci, Galileo, and Isaac Newton factor into all of this?

Without revealing any spoilers, I can certainly attest to the quality of storytelling in a six-issue comic book that spans the course of human history, the breadth of space, and involves battling Galactus in the 16th century. Plus there is enough time-jumping to impress any Doctor Who fan. If you’ve read Hickman’s The Red Wing mini-series (2011) then you already know this gentleman can spin a serious time travel yarn.

This is a truly epic tale befitting the legendary status we have conveyed upon the likes of Leonardo da Vinci and Nikola Telsa, and Hickman delivers with strong pacing and expertly delivered plot twists. Still, none of this would work without Dustin Weaver's fantastic artwork.

The pages of this graphic novel are sweeping vistas done in action-paced paneling. With clean lines and remarkable detailing, Dustin Weaver brings a great realism that evokes many of the changes in art that the Renaissance is famous for. The reader can almost feel the wonder and energy that these famous historical figures injected into the development of science and society pouring off every page.

While many comic books are written at a drawn-out pace to fill a graphic novel collection of the plot arc, S.H.I.E.L.D.: Architects of Forever can only to be said to suffer from the reverse. With so many minute details and time jumps, the month-long lag between single issues did the storyline a disservice. In the graphic novel format I could easily jump between 'chapters,' and found the reading experience richer and far more rewarding. With that in mind, I've skipped picking up the follow-up S.H.I.E.L.D.: Human Machine in the single issue format, and instead am eagerly awaiting its graphic novel collection in November this year.

A great read, S.H.I.E.L.D.: Architects of Forever really rewards those with a passion for history or secret societies. Hickman certainly draws on occult legend and esoteric lore to flesh out S.H.I.E.L.D.'s methodology, which adds another layer of richness to an already expertly told story. This storyline definitely runs with Arthur C. Clarke’s idea that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” And the result is spectacular to witness.

Shelf Gold: Hawaiian Dick

Review by Andrew Uys

Hawaiian Dick, by B. Clay Moore and Steven Griffin, reads like a Magnum PI/Supernatural mash-up, with a hefty dose of Mad Men ’50s vibe for flavour. This doesn’t mean the Image Comics–produced title is derivative or trying to cash in on these fan-favourite series, it’s just a great way of summing up this fresh take on the pulp crime genre.

Originally published in 2002, Hawaiian Dick: Byrd of Paradise easily predates some of the above comparisons, and heartily acknowledges those stories and shows that did influence its inception. Receiving numerous positive reviews, the first series was quickly followed up by Hawaiian Dick: The Last Resort in 2003. Production problems delayed the series’ completion until 2006, when it was collected into a second graphic novel volume. A third series, ostensibly ongoing, was started shortly after, but apart from the first story arc, Hawaiian Dick: Screaming Black Thunder, there hasn’t been any further material produced for this unique noir series.

The stand-alone nature of each graphic novel makes Hawaiian Dick easy for new readers to quickly jump into. Set in a supernatural-noir version of Hawaii, the story focuses on down-on-his-luck private eye Byrd and his small group of friends, like Honolulu detective Mo Kalama and Byrd's assistant Kahami. Each graphic novel comes with its own eclectic supporting cast of island locales, gangster thugs, and supernatural spirits. B. Clay Moore’s sharp and snappy dialogue is certainly one of the highlights of the series, as Byrd can never seem to just keep his mouth shut, no matter who he is squaring off against.

Steven Griffin’s artwork is the other big draw for readers, as his impressionistic painted style gives the series a soft glow that immediately reminds one of slow hot days spent on the beach... and the shadowy nightlife that takes over after the sun has set and tourists are safely back in their hotel rooms. Never spent time in Hawaii? Well, me neither. But if you’ve watched Magnum PI or Hawaii Five-O, you’ll immediately recognize this world of brightly coloured shirts and bloodied knuckles.

Hawaiian Dickis Steven Griffin’s first published work, but given his three Eisner Award nominations for his work on the series, it’s clear that he executes his artistic duties with all the skill and deftness of a long-time pro. It is a true treat reading Hawaiian Dick and watching as the colour palette shifts from delightfully warm, rich tones into washed-out greys and cold blues as the supernatural horrors of Honolulu come for their revenge. Much like the series itself, the visual tone of the series is a wonderful mash-up of holiday vacations spent on the beach, and that creaking sound you hear from your attic in the dead of night.

My one criticism of Hawaiian Dick and its first two graphic novel compilations is the brevity of the story lines. Hawaiian Dick: Byrd of Paradise is only three issues, with the follow up, Hawaiian Dick: The Last Resort, a slightly expanded four issues. Certainly the stories don’t suffer, as the tight plotting keeps the story moving quickly through its twists, turns, and double crosses in perfect pulpy noir fashion, but it does make the sticker price seem a little high compared to other series that pack six to eight issues into a single graphic novel collection. Of course, Hawaiian Dick does avoid the “over-stretched” plot lines that too many other titles now cater to in our trade paperback/GN–dominated comic market.

To help offset the brevity of the story line, the back section of each graphic novel is filled with a treasure trove of special features, which make for nearly as enjoyable a read as the comic itself. It includes comic shorts that were used for the pitch to Image Comics and fantastically detailed character designs, as well as early cover mock-ups and a make-your-own-drinks guide meant for older readers. The second volume ups the ante on the special features, including advertisement art, script drafts, further character designs, and even a cut-out game that lets you create your own Hawaiian Dick stories. This wealth of bonus material makes these graphic novels a must-have for young comic book creators who are looking to better understand what goes into creating a successful series.

Whether you are a fan of pulp crime stories, supernatural lore, or just beautiful painted artwork, Hawaiian Dick will definitely have something for you. So before Mad Men returns this April with its latest season, head out to your local comic book store and pick up Hawaiian Dick: Byrd of Paradise. You won’t be disappointed with this cheeky genre mash-up that delivers as many laughs as it does brawls and boogie men. Hawaiian Dick is pure shelf gold!