Christina Brookman, Fanbase Press Contributor

Christina Brookman, Fanbase Press Contributor

Razorjack has been called “one of John Higgins' best-kept secrets” by Garth Ennis . . . and I would have to agree. I was so excited to read a graphic novel created by the illustrator of Watchmen, Dredd, and Batman, among others. To top it off, a story involving aliens and a serial killer - right up my alley. Razorjack is Higgins' baby, because it was his first project, not only to illustrate but to serve as creator, writer, penciller, and colorist. A massive undertaking.

Grafix Chronicles is a black-and-white anthology of short comics from past and present small print artists. Issue #1 includes “The Man Under the Microscope!,” “Solomon Wyrd,” and “Don’t Touch Me.”

Robert Paul Weston’s young adult novel The Creature Department is much more than a novel.  It is an experience. In collaboration with Zack Lydon and Framestore, Weston has created a modern, interactive reading experience for the modern kid . . . and modern learning. The cover of the novel, designed by Zack Lydon, has three-dimensional text and graphics that glow in the dark. When you look closer, you realize each letter in the title is an actual “creature” contorted to make the letter’s shape. It is a visual, tactile explosion that creates a magical experience before you even open the book.  Framestore, the visual effects studio whose work has been used in films like Avatar, Harry Potter, and most recently Gravity, created interactive versions of the characters for The Creature Department’s promotional website. One such virtual creature even made a pit stop to Comic-Con to dance and laugh with kids and adults alike. The Creature Department is a novel that will not only delight and inspire its readers, but it also offers an endless amount of cross-disciplinary curricular opportunities between English, Science, Art, Theater, and Computer/Graphic Arts Departments. In fact, it is a book that I think is desperately needed in the classroom ASAP, because, as the creatures quickly reveal, science and reading are fun!

What I.F. reads like a poetic love letter rather than your typical comic, mourning the loss of a friendship and the death of a life one discovered was never really real. The subject matter is deep and is approached as such. Imaginary friends, suicide, and mental illness are usually dealt with in a comedic or dark and masturbatory manner. Not so in the comic What I.F..

The movie opens to the haunting sounds of a piano and a woman’s angelic voice singing (Storm Large, “Where Is My Mind”) as we see our hero, Alex Mathis (played by Greg Gunburg), walking confused in slow motion through urban chaos and destruction. As he walks, people run by screaming, army men fire bullets, and explosions go off left and right. All of these sounds are muted in the background. As the music swells, time catches up to our hero,and the camera circles around, so we see what he sees: a big ass spider! Debris falls toward him, and the screen goes to black. The title appears, music fades, and we hear the spider cry out.  This was truly an impeccably timed opening sequence. It had the makings of an action drama right up until the moment the camera spins, and we see the ridiculous, CGI spider-cue opening credits and . . . a big ass laugh from this reviewer!

While BOOM!’s Sons of Anarchy comic series (inspired by the FX television show) was created to stand on its own, having watched the show definitely adds to the reader's understanding and enjoyment of the comic. The issues within the comic series do not stand alone, but rather build off each other to create an original subplot, which takes place during Season 5 of the TV series. The comic subplot centers on Season 6 newcomer Kendra, the niece of a former Jim Crow Member. Kendra’s uncle was also Tig’s best friend.

Tomorrowland is not a graphic novel; it is an experience. Before reading this graphic novel, I was unaware of the famous Tomorrowland Festival in Belgium. Writer Paul Jenkins does an excellent job of not only creating an original story incorporating the belief systems, people, and imagery from the actual festival, but he also helps to educate the reader about the festival itself, enticing them to learn more and become a fan if not already one. After reading this graphic novel, I am eager to someday attend Tomorrowland in Belgium and its sister festival, Tomorrowworld, that just opened in September of 2013 in Chattahoochee Hills (near Atlanta, Georgia). Jenkins has created a mythology to enhance the experiences of patrons attending the annual world famous Tomorrowland Festival, as well as novices such as myself. It's a fun and beautiful graphic novel and a brilliant marketing strategy!

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