Life In Four Colors:
S.P.A.C.E. Walkin' Part Two
It's hard to believe that seven days has already zipped by at light speed since last week's S.P.A.C.E. con in Columbus Ohio. Where does the time go? Talk about doing the Time Warp again!
But although the show itself may be nothing more than a fading date in the Captain's Starlog....the actual experience will live on for years to come in the minds of the hundreds upon hundreds of fans who participated in this year's electrifying celebration of all things small press and independent.
Last time around I introduced you to the people that made this year's event such an enjoyable and historical celebration of underground fanfare. This time around I'm going to talk a little about some of the great books I picked up at this year's show.
Small press and underground comics seem to be gaining more popularity each year which I think was more than evident by the turn out at S.P.A.C.E. 2009. There's more and more extremely talented creators joining the ranks of those paving the way for a full fledge surgical strike into the very heart of sequential story telling.
Writers that are so very crafted in creating new worlds and artists full of fire and unlimited ambition. This is the future of comics as we know them. This is the Final Frontier These are the men and women who dare to suit up and challenge the unknown.
This is S.P.A.C.E. where everybody can hear you dream.
Let's fire up the hyper drive by taking a look at a couple of things that were pretty interesting about this year's program book.
I collect these things along with the badges of the shows that I attend and I believe I'm not alone in that practice. This year's S.P.A.C.E program book featured a great interview with 2008 S.P.A.C.E Prize winner Bill Knapp, writer of A Thorn in the Side: The Story of Johnny Hopper.
There is also an incredible look back at the forty year career of living legend Larry Blake winner of the S.P.A.C.E. 2009 Life Time Achievement Award. Don't ask me how but they manage to cram all forty years into just there pages and they do it very well
Congratulations to both of these very deserving creators.
Moving right along.
The first book on our radar is a very thought evoking mini-comic called Valedictorian U.S.A. written by Stephen Hines and illustrated by Daniel "Basement Dan" Salcido. Don't be fooled by the size of this sleeping giant. This thing is jam packed with the dark satirical wit that Hines will soon be known for. Dark humor laced with intellectual social commentary that looks at the world of cut-throat academic competition camouflaged as a reality t.v. show/game show.
Stephen mixes in what on the surface appears to be stereotypical characters but which are actually just another level of his outlook and creative breakdown of the social clicks found in the corridors and class rooms of our nation's schools as he spins a tale of nine high school seniors competing on live television for an all expense paid, once in a life time opportunity to attend the college of their choice.
Valedictorian U.S.A. manages to successfully lampoon shows like Survivor, Big Brother, and Fear Factor in a no holds bar fashion that leaves you more entertained than any combination of these type shows you can think of.
More info www.stephenhines.org
Next up. If you're going to walk around in S.P.A.C.E you might as well take a few tips from a master. I'm talking about Ace Frehley, the Space Ace himself.
No, unfortunately, Ace Frehley wasn't really at the show....but I for one personally couldn't think of a better addition for future shows. But Ace was there in spirit this year as were several other members of Kiss. I never saw such a large collection of writers and artists who were openly proud to be members of the Kiss Army. An easy dozen or more Kiss fans at the show this year including Jason Young who wrote and illustrated a very solid Ace Frehley story for the lead story of a mini comic he was giving away....while supplies lasted.
I was lucky enough to grab a copy at the beginning of the show last Saturday and when I got a chance to read it later that night I was sent off on a Rocket Ride into the Ozone. Really good stuff. Nice back up story about Gene Simmons by Eric Shonborn as well.
Well seeing how we're already talking about a book that was Hotter Than Hell, seems like a good time to segue into a very interesting mini-comic about the Anti-Christ.
Yep...anybody can show up at this show.
Anti-Christ Comix #666 a surprisingly well written mini-comic by writer/artist Mark Sahagian and takes a very devilish look at what happens when the Dark Lord himself decides to turn the world we live in into a living Hell, and realizes he's much too late.
The humans already beat him to the punch. Times are hard and the poor ol' Shmuck ends up on the unemployment line like a lot of other people I know.
Two guys I know who refuse to let the weight of the world get them down are George McVey and Michael Marcus of the Hamtramck Idea Men. The whole world may be going to Hell in a hand basket but that doesn't keep these two guys from having a good laugh or two on the way down with a special "April Fools!" edition of their IFX comic.
Issue #9 of the book, which always features a theme which several writers and artists do stories about really brought a smile to my face with....in a dark and twisted manner.
The first story "Baby Button" was mind blowing. Written and drawn by Dan Rafter the story takes a very cynical look at a society that becomes much too reliant on a device that can "pause" children to allow more free time to parents struggling with the demands of a new addition to the family.
And speaking of dark and twisted the book also features 11 pages, 55 comic strips featuring everybody's favorite non-kid loving clown, Gapo by Comic Related's own Tony Miello. These strips incorporate the entire story arc of Amy's trials by fire as she is temporarily out of a home due to the actions of Gapo himself.
Very funny stuff. Gapo never disappoints.
Neither does IFX. Other stories in this issue include Seven Tiny Epics by Michael Marcus and The Spoils of Work by Adam Wilson.
Keeping things light hearted, one of my personal high lights of the show was discovering The Book of Biff by Chris Hallbeck. This is actually a series of books that are made up of one panel comics that first appeared on Hallbeck's website in web comic form and that are later collected in book form.
This stuff is intensely funny. Great humor that actually makes you think. Who would have thought that was possible? Don't' believe me....here's two of my favorites.
The subtle humor that Chris employs here is amazing. Fans of Steven Wright and the Far Side will be very glad to know that the two has spawned an offspring of sorts with some really whacked out eyebrows.
Want to check out more of The Book of Biff? Can't say that I blame you.
Here you go.
Whoa......looks like my flux capacitor just blew a gasket. Appears I've going have to dock Battlestar Leo for the night, but don't worry I'll be back before the weekend is done with the third and final installment of S.P.A.C.E Walkin'.
Be here as I look at some mighty fine artwork, one very high quality ash can the previews things to come from Penny Dreadful Press, and I get lost in a Bad Place with some really good guys and some out of this world comics!
Bill Gladman - Bill is a writer and illustrator and currently working on several different projects including the first issue of an ongoing comic book series (Prodigy), an illustrated fantasy novel (The Book of Noheim), and the first of four illustrated science fiction/fantasy novels (Jack the Rabbit, Living Legend of the Purple Plains) as well as a light-hearted on going mini-comic (Three Wise Men). Bill also pens a column for Comic Related and will be doing a mix of regional convention coverage.
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