Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Comic Books For Grown Ups

Yesterday, during the cloudy afternoon here in Pittsburgh, I ventured out to the nearly brand new branch of the Allegheny Library which is only a few blocks from my house. This is a brand new building on Federal Street, which for those of you familiar with the North Side of Pittsburgh, is undergoing somewhat of a rebirth. It was erected to replace the old North Side branch which was damaged by flooding a few years ago. The new building has nowhere near as much character as the old building, but then again, a library should be judged by it's contents, not it's appearance. But clicking on the links below will allow you to see that the old building was so much easier on the eyes. The new one isn't bad, but not as nice as the old one. 
So, with my Walking Dead post from yesterday still fresh in my mind, I decided to take a look at the graphic novel section. I'm not a huge fan of comic books. I probably know more and care more about them than the average joe, but I'd be put to shame by a true fanboy.  I collected superhero comics as a kid and have always kept an eye open for something interesting. And something interesting is exactly what I found yesterday at the library.

The first graphic novel that piqued my curiosity was "The Living and The Dead" by Jason. Everything I've seen just has him listed by the single name Jason. I think I picked this one up based solely on the title but was surprised to see that it wasn't quite a zombie comic like I expected. The characters in the book all seem to have human bodies with different animal heads. They walk and work and act like humans, but certainly don't look like humans. The thing I found most interesting about this comic is the lack of dialogue. It is set up almost like a silent movie. There is only minimal narration in boxes all of it's own. It looks as if it is a silent movie on paper. As for the story, it is somewhat of a slapstick zombie love story. Buster Keaton wouldn't have been out of place in this comic. Except for the fact that we get to see a zombie eat a baby. Not quite what was acceptable in Keaton's day. But the artwork in the comic is very surreal and makes what is happening more like comedy than shocking. The humor and the artwork is dark. It is drawn completely in black and white, but is very stylish. I whizzed through the comic in a few minutes since there is no dialogue, but have found myself going back and examining the artwork all day long. If you like your dark comedy and your love stories, then this is certainly a comic for you.

The second comic I picked up was "Sleepwalk And Other Stories" by Adrian Tomine. This comic couldn't be any more different than "The Living and The Dead". This comic is 16 short stories that are as real as they come. Some of them left me wanting more. Some of them left me sad. Some of them made me laugh. But they all deal with deep human emotion. Most of the content is fairly "adult", more so in an adult emotion kind of way than a dirty way.  Some are only a single page in length, others a bit longer. But what these stories lack in length, they make up for with the feelings they conjure up. This comic is also drawn in black and white but is much more realistic looking. The artwork is very good. The emotions shown on people are very real. I checked out Adrian Tomine's website and he has very good artwork for sale, including an awesome drawing of TV On The Radio. It is all way out of my price range though. He has many other comics that I look forward to reading in the future. I'll let all one or two of you that read this know what I think of them. If they are even a fraction as good as this comic, I'm going to be a true fan. Good storytelling is good storytelling no matter what medium is being used. 

The Chinese Stars on Tour!!

That's right kids, The Chinese Stars are releasing a new album and setting out on tour. The record is titled "Heaven On Speed Dial" and will be available through most digital retailers on October 13th.The vinyl and "poster records" (poster of album art, insert, and download code) will begin selling on the Anchor Brain website shortly after. Both options will be available through the band on tour. Check out the dates below, and if you're near one, go to the show. You will not be dissapointed.  MP3 After the dates below.

Thursday Oct 22nd in Montreal, QC @ La Sala Rossa w/ Six Finger Satellite + Sensitive Hearts
Friday Oct 23rd in Toronto, ON @ The Garrison w/  Six Finger Satellite + Sensitive Hearts
Saturday Oct 24th in Columbus, OH @ 
The Summit  w/ Six Finger Satellite + Sensitive Hearts
Sunday Oct 25th in Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle w/ Six Finger Satellite + Sensitive Hearts
Monday Oct 26th in 
St Paul, MN @ Turf Club w/ Sensitive Hearts
Tuesday Oct 27th in Omaha, NE @ The Waiting Room w/ Sensitive Hearts
Wednesday Oct 28th in 
Denver, CO @ Rhinoceropolis  w/ Hot White + Sensitive Hearts
Thursday Oct 29th- OFF
Friday Oct 30th -Off
Saturday Oct 31st in 
Vancouver, BC @ TBA + Sensitive Hearts
Sunday Nov  1st in 
Seattle, WA @ The Black Lodge  w/ All Leather,  Past Lives + Sensitive Hearts
Monday Nov 2nd in Portland, OR @ Satyricon w/ All Leather + Sensitive Hearts
Tuesday Nov 3rd in San Fransisco, CA @ Thee Parkside w/ All Leather+ Sensitive Hearts
Wednesday Nov 4th in 
Sacramento, CA @ TBA w/ Sensitive Hearts
Thursday Nov  5th @ in 
Los Angeles, CA @ The Smell w/ Sensitive Hearts
Friday Nov 6th in Mexicali, MX@ Zaiko Bar 
Saturday Nov 7th @ in 
San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar w/ The Dabbers 
Sunday Nov 8th in 
La Jolla, CA @ Che Cafe
Monday Nov 9th in Palm Springs, CA @ J Dee's Landing w/ Sensitive Hearts
Tuesday Nov 10th in Phoenix, AZ @ The 
Rhythm Room w/ Health + All Leather  
Wednesday Nov 11th in 
El Paso, TX @ Zen Meister w/ Sensitive Hearts
Thursday Nov 12th in 
Austin, TX @ Beerland w/ Sensitive Hearts
Friday Nov 13th in 
Dallas, TX @ The Cavern w/ Sensitive Hearts
Saturday Nov 14th  in 
Little Rock, AR @ Vino's w/ Church Of The Snake + Sensitive Hearts
Sunday Nov 15th in Hot Springs, AR @ The Exchange w/ Church Of The Snake + Sensitive Hearts
Monday Nov 16th in Kansas City, MO @ Czar Bar w/ Sensitive Hearts
Tuesday Nov 17th  in 
Bloomington, IN @ The Bluebird w/  Sensitive Hearts
Wednesday Nov 18th in 
Cincinnati, Oh @ Parkland Theatre w/ Sensitive Heart
Thursday Nov 19th in Cleveland, OH @ Now Thats Class w/ Sensitive Hearts

The Chinese Stars-Rabbit Face MP3

Anchor Brain Website

Monday, September 28, 2009

Music For A Dreary Day

Today in Pittsburgh, it is windy, overcast, and getting colder. What a perfect fall day. I don't have to work so it's even better. Here are some tunes that are soothing my ears today.

The Walking Dead
"How many hours are in a day when you don't spend half of them watching television? When is the last time any of us REALLY worked to get something that we wanted? How long has it been since any of us really NEEDED something that we WANTED? The world we knew is gone. The world of commerce and frivolous necessity has been replaced by a world of survival and responsibility. An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe causing the dead to rise and feed on the living. In a matter of months society has crumbled, no government, no grocery stores, no mail delivery, no cable tv. In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living."

Zombies. This word usually brings to mind an image we have all seen in George Romero films of the dead brainlessly roaming around, mumbling incoherent grunts and attempting to survive by feeding on the living. Scary? Of course. Also a little bit funny? Sometimes. But for anyone who has ever given the ideas of zombies roaming the earth more than just a passing thought, The Walking Dead is the comic book for you. 

I personally hadn't thought too much about zombies, nor am I much of a zombie fanatic. That is until I started reading The Walking Dead. Upon the recommendation of a close friend I started my descent into the apocalyptic world of Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman. Writer Kirkman, along with artists Charlie Adlar, Cliff Rathburn, and Tony Moore follow the story of our main character Rick Grimes. 

The story begins with Rick, a small town Kentucky police officer, being shot during an altercation with an unruly man. The story then picks up with Rick waking up from a coma which we don't know how long he has been in. The world in which Rick awakes is the not one that he remembers living in prior to being shot. The hospital has been overrun by zombies. When Rick makes an attempt to return home, he encounters more zombies, as well as strangers living in his house. His family is gone and doesn't know where to. 

This may all sound similar to many zombie stories that have already been told. But what sets The Walking Dead apart from it's predecessors is it's focus on the people going through the zombie induced trauma. Of course there is gore aplenty. If you're into seeing humans ripped apart and eaten like a gourmet meal, it's here. And it looks pretty good too. The artwork is nothing revolutionary. But while the zombies may resemble many zombies you've seen before, it's still no less shocking to see in black and white, humans, or some sort of living dead for that matter, eating other humans. But as I said before, the main focus is on the emotion this type of setting causes. 

The character development in this comic is excellent. It takes a little time to get to know the main characters. But there is someone for everyone to like. Although, during the course of trying to survive, the pressure may prove to be too much for some of your favorite characters. But that is the beauty of the story. People go crazy. Others rise to the occasion and take control of situations. Some just follow the lead. Much like real life, some people react extraordinarily in extraordinary situations and some don't. The people in this story is real. Their emotions and actions are real. And this comic is what happens when people stop being polite and starting getting real about zombies.

Give it a read. It will make you start wondering what you would do if all of a sudden the dead started feasting on the living. 

Official Walking Dead Site: The Walking Dead

Sunday, September 27, 2009

First Post Ever

Sooooo. This is my brand new and first ever blog. I'll use this space to subject people to anything that I feel is relevant. Music, movie, concert, and event reviews. My personal ranting and anything else that I feel that other people should know about. I hope the few people who may choose to read this enjoy it.......