Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Bad Juju, by Randy Chandler

 Back in the old days, there used to be an online store, run by a wonderful guy named Matt Schwartz, named Shocklines. Shocklines specialized in small-press Horror novels, most of which were produced in signed-and-numbered limited editions. I stumbled upon Shocklines while I was looking for more from Richard Laymon, whose short story THE MAIDEN knocked my socks off. I discovered that, while there wasn't much mainstream work by Laymon, there was a whole world of small-press books out there, where he was considered one of the greats. Shocklines opened me up to a whole new world of collectibles, beautifully designed works of art published by Cemetery Dance, Subterranean Press, Necro, Bloodletting, Earthling, and many more. I probably spent enough money at Shocklines to buy a house, or a least put a really substantial downpayment on one. I bought so many books that I now have over 4000 still unread  in my study, nearly a decade after Matt closed Shocklines' virtual doors. There have been some real gems, but there have been more clunkers. Matt ran, and still runs, a Shocklines message board, which I used to practically live in. It was a tightly knit community of fans, Publishers, and Authors, and, much like Cheers, everybody knew your name. Book recommendations were tossed around, blurbs were given, money was spent....and after reading a handful of highly-touted duds, I realized that, since everyone was friends with everyone else, no one was willing to say when they didn't enjoy a book. (This is where I began to cultivate my reputation as a "Crabby Reviewer"...I called a spade a spade.) One of the most ballyhooed books on Shocklines was Randy Chandler's BAD JUJU. I bought it in 2003, and put in in "The Stack"...I later read Chandler's follow-up, HELLZ BELLZ, and was underwhelmed, so I was in no hurry to pick up BAD JUJU. Nearly a decade later, I've finally read Chandler's southern gothic epic.....the verdict?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Evil Ernie, Volume One: Origin of Evil

 One of my most cherished memories of collecting comics in the early 1990's is the original EVIL ERNIE mini-series. Not that it was especially good, or anything...but I bought pretty much anything that came out back then, and those original issues skyrocketed in value FAST, and I was able to turn around and sell them for about $500.00. (Which I promptly wasted on more comics, no doubt.) Since then, Ernie has faded into obscurity, but seeing as how no intellectual property can long go unexploited, Dynamite Comics has resurrected him in EVIL ERNIE, VOLUME ONE: ORIGIN OF EVIL.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Parker: Slayground

 This is my first exposure to Richard Stark's legendary character Parker, and it's easy to see why such a fuss has been made over Darwyn Cooke's graphic novel adaptations of Stark's stories.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The X-Files, Season 10: Vol. 1

 I used to love THE X-FILES. Well, sort of love it. I liked when they did the "Monster of the week" shows (I still maintain that "Home", the episode with the inbred family, is one of the single best episodes of of any television show ever.. It's existence earns all of the shitty X-FILES episodes a pass.), but I absolutely loathed the "Mythology", which never made any kind of sense, and kept getting more and more convoluted, to the point where I just gave up on the show entirely. Bees, black oil, kidnapped sisters, alien spies...Jesus, what a fucking mess. So I missed out on Mulder & Scully being replaced, and Scully having a baby, and a bunch of other shit that I had no interest in whatsoever. I watched the two theatrical movies when they hit HBO (I'm not dumb enough to pay for two more hours of mythology!), and thought they were just dreadful. Overall, I guess that I feel that THE X-FILES is a really good idea that has almost never been handled right. Can IDW break that trend, and tell some worthwhile stories with Mulder & Scully....?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Batgirl: The Lesson

 One of the biggest losses of "The New 52" was Stephanie Brown, A.K.A. Spoiler, Robin, and ultimately, the final Batgirl. She was a fresh, likeable character whose adventures were a joy to read, a bright spot amongst all of the clenched-teeth, severed limbs, and decapitated heads of the Geoff Johns/Dan DiDio-era of DC Comics.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Blazing Combat

This is truly a golden age for people who love great comic books.....Dark Horse, Marvel, and Fantagraphics (Not so much with DC, unfortunately...) are re-issuing classic comics with such alarming frequency that I've started trying to find buyers for my organs, before they get too old and stale. Which brings us to today's Crabby Review, Fantagraphic's BLAZING COMBAT....