Creator-Owned Heroes #5
Recommendation: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Everything you could possibly want in a monthly title!
So, let’s review what you get in this single issue, shall we?
All this, for a mere $3.99 - I have to say, that is a way better bargain than most books published today.
The best part about all of this is - as its title implies - it is a Creator-Owned Indie Book.
"COH is an indie book because everyone involved owns a piece of what they do…" - Jimmy Palmiotti
Now let me dive into each piece of the book and give a little background (spoiler free)…
My expectations were set pretty high after the last two original stories within the pages of COH (especially TriggerGirl6). And while I was sad to see both of those short stories come to an end, I was pleased to see we would get another round of original short stories. These types of stories make the format of this book what it is - 2 parts comic, 1 part magazine, all creator-owned heart.
It checks all the boxes I have for entertainment, as an action-packed, violent, no-holds-barred playboy assassin story. It breaks boundaries I didn’t even think existed and has started out perfectly by engaging interest and setting a great pace for story development. Before I knew it I was attached to the characters, mesmerized by the plot and left anticipating what happens next.
The are is fantastic, as I would have expected. It is perfect for the story and characters. Panel structure and layout works well with flow and heightens suspense.
An Interview with Amanda Conner
One of the coolest comic artists in the business, interviewed by one of the coolest guys (and comic creators) in the world. Amanda and Jimmy, comic legend power couple - but you wouldn’t know that from this most excellent “business focused” interview. Not that I wouldn’t like to know more about their joint work/life balance, but this interview was intended to be focused on Amanda, her work, and her life in the biz (so to speak).
It is sprinkled with candid images of Amanda with various people and fortified by step-by-step creation images of the Captain Brooklyn cover (from pencils to final color). Oh, and you get seven total pages of dialog neatly placed around said images.
I found myself enthralled with the details… like what kind of pencils she uses, where she orders her pens, how she uses special paper stock… it is all quite amazing and invaluable information for budding artists… heck for any artist!
As this is an interview, “spoiling” really doesn’t apply, but I do have to say, when asked, "Who were your major influences in storytelling?" - her three part answer included one of the best retold memories of the late, great Joe Kubert. As soon as I read that paragraph, I was compelled to instant message it to one of my good friends (as further proof for him to go pick up this issue!).
Oh, and to fit the mood of the interview (near the end), I did enjoy her response to the "Do you ever lose your sh!t…" question. Classic.
Thanks for so much great information Amanda! :D
Okay, I have to say, this is one of the major reasons I love this comic. Not because one of my questions was published and answered… while that was awesome… it is because Jimmy actually ENGAGES his audience. His fan base is included in his work. From Kickstarer awards that will include YOUR NAME in his book, to this kind of editorial - where he took tweeted questions, published and answered them as part of THIS publication.
If this doesn’t make you feel included in the industry, nothing will. :)
A SPECIAL THANK YOU to Jimmy for publishing and answering my question!
We all know that Steve Niles is a genius writer, so it was just a matter of subject\genre… and this story has a fantastic setup - 1883, Western, Family, Evil, Hope. Is that not enough to pique your interest?
The art fits the story perfectly. And while the pacing feels fast, the story only has two parts, so a lot of information needs to be illustrated quickly. In fact, this story is mostly illustration - not a lot of dialog - which implies incredible writing ability (as expected).
I am most definitely looking forward to the conclusion of this short story…and will be left with a “haunted” feeling for quite a while, I assume.
Writing Comics - Part One
This is yet another example why this book is so great. Heck, it is even evidence why this book is so important to the industry. Where else are you going to get comics, interviews, and how-to instructions - all in one affordable book?
In this article, we get incredible writing advice from one of the most talented writers in the industry. Moreover, we get writing and script advice from the same guy we JUST READ a couple pages back.
I learned that Steve uses WORD to write and format his scripts, while others leverage programs like Final Draft - I found it interesting that there was no “standard format”. As an avid user of WORD myself, it is nice to know that just another “barrier to entry” is gone in my long journey towards “official script writing”. It also makes me think that I could whip up a number of custom styles in WORD to take care of that pesky script formatting… ;)
This, just like most of the information in this book, is invaluable, and proves that it is not only for the average reader, it is for the creator as well.
The monthly article Justin has been contributing to this comic is far from scattered. Often each article has quite a nice theme, with a bunch of valuable backstory. This one is no exception, of course. With articles like this, I have learned more about the industry, the craft and my heroes than any other publication that I have ever read.
This is all because awesome creators, such as Justin, take the time and effort to publish their thoughts, lessons learned, opinions, etc. - all in an effort to “get it off their chest”, I am sure… but also to HELP the industry. Remember, this book is all creator-owned heart.
In this not-so-scattered, scattered thoughts article, Justin discusses the importance of collaboration in comics creation, with a focus on the importance of COLOR. Just as Amanda discussed how important open communication with your editor is, Justin takes us through the benefits of solid direction within the script pages.
"You’re not just telling ‘your story’ and trying to entertain the reader." - Justin Gray
He also takes the time to introduce RETROVIRUS, by way of an interesting “previous life” story involving the star of Jurassic Park (think amber, not The Fly… oh wait, that too. Okay, now I am getting lost in my own metaphors).
Directly following Justin’s article is a 6-page preview for the forthcoming Graphic Novel: RETROVIRUS (which I have advertised here - PRE-ORDER TODAY!)!
I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about this book. My excitment started all those long months ago, when I was introduced to both it and Kickstarter on the same day.
It was too late in the project to back it for my name in the book, but I did back it nonetheless.
I have included the cover image as part of this review, so you get a good look at the Amanda Conner art and familiarize yourself with the concept. I fully endorse this book (for what that is worth) and have asked my local comic shop to order many more copies than they were going to… I told them that if they didn’t sell, I would buy the extra copies. At $12.99, there is really no reason not to pick up this Hardcover by some of the greatest talent in the industry.
So, there you have it. All the reasons you need to buy this book. It should give you enough reasons to add it to your subscription AND hunt down the previous four issues (which are just as great). They are even available on Comixology (not a digital guy myself, but readership is readership). BTW - the first issue is FREE and 2-4 are $1.99… I do want to say that I would rather people support the book AND their local comic shop, but I understand…
Finally, check the back of this PRINT issue.
I have added an image for this book’s cover to this review as well. I want to increase awareness for this Hardcover by Jimmy & Justin as well. I pre-ordered it several months ago and have my copy. I fully intend on posting my review for it soon.
Creator-Owned Heroes #4
NOTE: I would love to fit all the creator/contributor Twitters in the tweet for this, but 140 characters doesn’t leave much space for all this greatness!
If you have been following this book, you have been anticipating this issue. The issue where both of the short stories come to a conclusion… at least for now.
As you may know, I am HUGE fan of Trigger Girl 6. Love it. I love the action, the concept, the story, and I especially LOVE the continually unbelievable Phil Noto art. Every page he illustrates belongs in an art gallery.
That said, while I am biased, I will be fair to all parts of this wonderful publication - which, I have many times and always will refer to it as "…the best value in comics today. Period." I will review each section in the order it was received (by my eyes):
5.0 / 5.0
Do you know what I love it so much? Especially this particular part of the story?
Well, it is simple.
I was completely surprised by the direction it took. It could have ended any number of ways. Guns Blazing, Calm and Serene, Reset/Start Over, etc. - what I knew for sure, even before reading it, was that it was going to be great. It is because I trust in the genius of Jimmy, Justin and Phil.
And boy did they deliver a doozy. It was completely NOT what I was expecting (as I have stated), yet exactly what I wanted to experience.
I will not ruin any of what it actually was or how it ended, as that would spoil the experience - but I will say, it was wonderful, thought provoking, and full of self-actualization and innocence. Something that is surely lacking in the majority of today’s stories.
Hope. Inspiration. A better tomorrow. - All things that stories often strive for, but instead are driven far off course to “shock” or strike fear.
Because this is what I am accustomed to, I read, waiting for the idiomatical ”other shoe to drop”… this kind of anticipation kept me turning the pages, expecting something that would never come. Thankfully. Instead, we get what we deserved. A nice, tidey, complete story. Well paced, excellently scripted and beautifully illustrated.
scattered thoughts (by @JVGray)
Yet another set of wonderfully bold words from the guy that is quickly becoming one of the most inspirational people in my comic world.
As always, thanks for all your excellent work.
LISTEN2JIMMY (by @jpalmiotti)
If you are reading words written Jimmy, you are likely reading something both revealing and honest. His passion is only matched by his hard work.
Thanks for everything you give back to the community and the industry.
Conventions On My Mind (by Steve Bunche)
Someone needs to update the dictionary - next to “wordsmith” should be an image of this man, Steve Bunche. Be sure you are ready, this isn’t light reading. Maybe even grab your thesaurus… ;)
I do have to say, as others have on Twitter, thank you for helping me realize how to actually spell “tchotchkes”. The spell-check in this browser is about to learn it as well!
A GREAT interview! Very insightful and full of information.
My favorite question and answer in this interview was, “What materials do you use in your art?” - I don’t know why it was so fascinating to me… maybe because it felt like he was spilling secrets of the trade or something… who knows. Either way, thanks for sharing, and thanks for asking!
I also want to give a shout out to TR!CKSTER (@TRICKSTERevents). Follow on Twitter, go to the website (http://trickstertrickster.com), and support this exceptional alternative to conventional thinking!
Favorite quote from the interview:
"We call it "work", but man, this isn’t work. This is just life, somehow." -Scott Morse
It was just what I needed to read when I read it. Thanks again for sharing, Scott.
5.0 / 5.0
Another short story. Another conclusion. A great conclusion. Unlike Trigger Girl 6, this ending had a bit of a tease at the very end, a “…For Now.” Hmm. What does that mean? Well duh. It means that we will likely see this crew again. I hope the same goes for TG6, but only time will tell (again, biased).
Our joyride through the horrible post-apocalyptic world comes to an end… and it goes out with a “BANG!” (sorry, I had to do it somewhere). Okay, it doesn’t end with a “BANG!”, but that phrase is said allowed at least once within the pages of this book. And once on the cover, for that matter.
Regardless, we should be thankful that we were merely passengers on this ride through the “Mad Max”-esque world. The story rang true to its inspiration - we get everything that defines “American Muscle”, guts, gritt, glory, and self-actualization. Hmm, sound familiar? Is there an intentional underlying theme within the book’s two stories? I wouldn’t be surprised.
Intentional or not, this story proved to be exciting, well paced and drawn perfectly for the setting and tone of the tale being told.
Another great job, guys. Thanks.
the art of kevin mellon (by @kmellon)
This was a great little article, showcasing some awesome pieces and a pretty nice “art process” explanation. I love this kind of stuff - it makes the creators feel so much more down to earth.
Getting to Know Editors (by @JCVaughn1)
What is the hardest job in the comic industry? I guess it depends on who you ask - likely the response will be, “This one!” - but in this article, we find out first hand from an editor and freelance writer, that writers have the hardest time “breaking in”.
It makes sense, a bunch of words on a page takes WAY MORE time to consume than pictures. When you look at a picture, you immediately have a reaction. Determining worth in someone’s writing, that is a whole other story.
Words of advise? So wise, so true:
"It’s not fair. Nothing is. Deal with it." -J.C. Vaughn
That is not to say no one should try. That is the opposite of the point here. Try, and try, and try again. Do a good job. Be proud of your work. Don’t think it will be easy. Besides, how many “easy” things are worthwhile?
Exactly - ”Deal with it.”
I love this book. I love the idea of this book. I love how inspirational it is. I love that the creators interact with the fans (Facebook) for feedback. I love that every issue, I am back and forth to Twitter, making sure I am following all the folks mentioned, contributing, interviewed, etc. in the issue. It is also why I do my best to include the links to their Twitters here - follow them. Be inspired.
By the way, guys, I loved the format of this issue. The stories, articles, ads, etc. were perfectly placed. It had a great flow.
Alright, I think I have said enough. If this doesn’t convince you to go out and buy this issue and the other three before it, I am not sure what will.
Buy it. Support it. EnJOY it.
NEXT ISSUE (the next two short stories):
Creator-Owned Heroes #1, #2, and #3
It is true, Trigger Girl 6 is all I would ever need in a comic. It is intelligently written and beautifully drawn. The art of Phil Noto is the most beautiful depiction of women I have ever seen. Period.
I am obviously biased, but I want to give decently equal analysis of each aspect of this book - I just wanted to be clear on Trigger Girl 6 and Phil Noto’s art.
Okay, with that out of the way, lets see, where shall I start - well how about an overall generalization of the series? Sure. Here goes…
This is one of the most genius ideas for a comic ever. The planning, dedication and pure heart and soul that goes into this work is astonishing. It certainly shows through its implementation and execution. I am very impressed with everything this book has to offer, and I hope people appreciate it for what it is - and what it stands for…
Each time I pick this book up, I am inspired. Not many things do that anymore. I always hold on to this book after it comes out - I do not want to read it in a rush, sidetracked, distracted - I want to give it all my attention. Most of the comics I read/review I consider “candy”, something that is nice and sweet, easy to consume and really contains no real sustenance. This book is far from that - it is the main course. It should be savored.
Geesh! Enough with the gushing. WTF.
Okay, you get. I dig the book. Now, how about some detail on the latest issue -
Creator-Owned Heroes #3:
American Muscle - Part 3
Interview with Mark Waid
Steve Bunche - This editorial type piece gives a great perspective on female super-heroes. It is a fun read and made me think of the world of estrogen powered heroes in ways I have never considered.
Justin Gray - Dude. I do hope you get a chance to read this review. Mostly because I want to thank you. Your article(s) are freaking hilarious. I can relate to most everything you said - in fact, it reminded me of my most recent flight from Austin to Seattle… as I was getting off the plane, I had to wait near the cockpit for the passenger in front of me to get in his wheelchair (no that is not the part that it reminded me of) - while waiting, the pilot commented on the shirt I was wearing - it said “geek.” in plain white letters. He said, “I don’t know about that shirt.” When I asked him to elaborate, he ignored me. I guess he really didn’t know. The stewardess then chimed in and said, “In my day, geek was a derogatory term.” I am not quite sure what they were getting at, but considering I was flying from Austin to Seattle, on a flight that more than likely had multiple ”tech geeks” on it, they were way off base to be judging me on my attire, and assumed profession. Yes, I am a geek. I get paid to be a geek. Why is this not acceptable? I guess I should grow up and get a “real job”.
Christopher Irving - Christopher talks about his new digital magazine, The Drawn Word - from what he says, it definitely looks like something worth checking out.
Branwyn Bigglestone and Steve Niles - This is a fantastic interview of Steve by Branwyn. It covers everything from punk, to comics, through DIY. It offers a healthy dose of reality from one of the best creators in any industry.
Trigger Girl 6 - Part 3 (of 4)
Now for the main event - or at least what I consider the main event!
Okay, that is about all I can muster for this review. It is a bit more than my normal “Quick Review”, but I wanted to be sure and devote a lot of time and attention to this series, reading and reviewing.
Please, add it to your subscription list at your Local Comic Shop. Support the book. Support the cause. It is well worth the investment - as this is the best value in comics today. Period.