Matt Groening’s Disenchantment

If you’re not sitting down, I need you to find a seat, and if you are sitting down, I need you to drink some tea so you can spit it out when you hear what I’m about to say. Matt Groening, famously known for Futurama and The Simpsons, has announced a new animated series to be released exclusively through Netflix. That’s right, a new cartoon from the man who brought us such famous memes as “shut-up and take my money” and “to shreds you say?” will be filling your rotating quote wheel with even more catchy one liners!

A twenty-episode show titled Disenchantment has been ordered by Netflix and will be set in a medieval kingdom named Dreamland. The show is centered on a boozy princess named Bean, her personal demon Luci, and an elf companion named Elfo. The trio will test their wits with other mystical creatures including imps, ogres, sprites, fairies, and the occasional bumbling human while Seinfelding about love and life in medieval times. An outstanding collection of voice actors will be featured including: Joe DiMaggio, Billy West, Eric Andre, Abbi Jackson and Tress MacNeille, among others. The first ten episodes are targeted to premier next year and, with already a year and half of production done, the second set shouldn’t be too far behind.

When asked how he would describe his new work, Matt Groening states:

“‘Disenchantment’ will be about life and death, love and sex, and how to keep laughing in a world full of suffering and idiots, despite what the elders and wizards and other jerks tell you.”

Damn jerky wizards.

The animation will be handled by Rough Draft Studios, who also handled Futurama in times past. Netflix has been expanding their original animated content for some time and with Disenchantment added to their list, it seems like things are definitely looking up.

The Dissolving Classroom

What can I say about Junji Ito that I haven’t said a million times already? As well as being this writer’s favorite manga-ka (manga creator) with his unique and terrifying vision of the grotesque, he should be yours too! So you can imagine my surprise when I learned that not only has he released a new work, it came out SIX months ago, and I didn’t have it! Well, I quickly amended that and ran down to my local Amazon online and ordered that son-of-a-bitch up. What came about was a gruesome new addition to my Ito collection entitled The Dissolving Classroom. A short story collection about a pair of bizarre siblings, the comic quickly earns its place among his longer works, even when some of the stories get a little too cheesy for even his biggest fan.

Much like Ito’s other work, this comic doesn’t simply go for scares, but enjoys pushing the boundaries of visual horror. The stories focus on siblings Yuuma and Chizumi, who leave ruin and destruction in every town they pass through. In the first story, Chizumi, the younger of the two, starts stalking walkways and chasing terrified locals only to be followed by Yumma, her high school aged brother, apologizing profusely for her behavior. When one of his classmates gets too close to the pair, she quickly learns the true meaning of Yumma’s apologizing and why everyone he apologizes to disappears. Hint: it has to do with dissolving. The following stories are more or less related as the siblings move around, terrorizing and apologizing to the populace, with the exception of the second one, where Yuuma, with the power of compliments, turns beautiful girls ugly. At the end of the manga are two unrelated shorts about a dead woman in a meteorite, and a really creepy story about children disappearing in the woods.

While I truly adored this work, I felt it fell short of having the same punch as Ito’s bigger titles such as Gyo or Uzumaki, or even his other shorter collections like the Tomie translations. Dissolving Classroom, however, does feature a lot of good, solid scares accompanied by his trademark detail work. The melting parts are very detailed and he doesn’t shy away from using smart shading and busy line-work to really make the gross parts pop. It’s very similar to the Garbage Pail Kids-style of art where it’s just the right amount of detail to make you puke in your mouth a little. Both Chizumi and Yuuma are creepy kids, especially Chizumi, who is frequently seen with heavy shadows under her eyes to up the creep ante. Ito definitely has his scares down to an art on this one and with his work on the two leads, he creates a very distinct couple of characters. Also, the Devil is in this and that’s just rad.

 Unfortunately, it all kind of all falls apart around the end. While I don’t want to give too much away, the ending felt very rushed, as if Ito was forced to bring an end to the work before he was ready to. The ‘good-beats-evil’ solution was super corny and basically came down to the power of teamwork, which wouldn’t be so bad if that teamwork didn’t just show up at the finish line and take everyone down. It didn’t seem well thought out which is a rare misstep for Ito. So while the work is a great example of his talent and his ability to tell a short horror story, it’s definitely not one of his best works out there. Dissolving Classroom is very much aimed at fans who have read his other stuff and want more, but if it’s your first time picking up a Junji Ito work, I suggest starting with something that got made into a movie. All the best stuff gets made into movies.

Rick and Morty #27

What can be said about Rick and Morty that hasn’t been said by Youtube channels and stoners for the past three years? Yes, it’s one of the most original and clever shows to have graced animated entertainment since Futurama. Yes, the humor of the show does speak to the human experience while pointing out the absurdity of our lives. Yes, those fan theories you came up with are most likely valid considering the titular duo’s frequent trips in other dimensions. And yes, fuck Tammy. But, if you’re like me and hate waiting for the “maybe they will/maybe they won’t” possibility of Season 3, Oni Press has your back! The comic adventures of Rick and Morty have been running strong since 2015 and at issue #27, they show no signs of slowing down. And OOOOweeeh, is this a solid comic. The latest issue has Morty dealing with not one, but TWO, dates to the school dance followed by a tale where Rick, once again, goes about proving Jerry wrong.
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Invader Zim #40

For those of us who were teens in the late 90s to early 2000s and loved Marilyn Manson and JNCO jeans more than life itself, the name Jhonen Vasquez is very familiar. If you didn’t go through puberty like a butterfly of bad fashion, Jhonen Vasquez was the creator of such underground comics as Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Squee, and I Feel Sick. Along with Roman Dirge and Hot Topic, he was an influential part of the “Spooky Cute” movement and eventually went on to help establish the “lol, so random xD” online subculture that plagues the internet to this day. The latter movement can be partially (okay, mostly) attributed to the short lived animated show Invader Zim. Though the series was canceled after two seasons, its cult status launched the show into television infamy and inspired a comic series of the same name from Oni Press. The comic is generally handled by a revolving collection of writers, which makes issue #40 that much more special. This one is penned by Vasquez himself.

If you’ve never seen Invader Zim before, basically Zim is an alien that is mistakenly sent to conquer Earth and enslave all of humankind. Along with his malfunctioning robot sidekick, GIR, he goes on wacky adventures in an attempt to fulfill his mission but is stopped at every turn by a nosy little kid named Dib (who, oddly enough, looks a lot like Vasquez). It’s a pretty bizarre cartoon, even by cartoon standards, and heavily draws upon a constantly hostile world of uncaring adults and dirt-tinged surroundings where wacky and unsettling happenings are an everyday occurrence. The comic series expands on the universe, giving Dib and Zim new adventures to butt heads over. In issue #40, the comic focuses on Zim, who becomes addicted to a terrible cartoon show called Floopsy Boops Shmoopsy and ignore his earth-taking mission in favor of sitting on the couch with GIR. For an entire issue. There you go, I saved you forty pages.

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Review: Wonder Woman (2017)

Wonder Woman is a lot of things to a lot of people. Superhero, feminist, Amazon, an icon, a killer, and the longest-running female hero to ever grace the pages of comic books. She was the reason a lot of girls started reading comics, and a lot of boys learned that girls can kick ass and take names. She is exactly what her name is, a wonder of a woman, a genre-breaking character that proved that you, yes YOU, can do anything! And yet, despite having been around for over 75 years, it wasn’t until 2017 that she finally got her own movie. Which I finally saw! And it was pretty damn good.

In true comic fashion, I will be reviewing this movie on the merits of it being a superhero movie and how it works within the established world of Wonder Woman. My assessment is that it’s an okay superhero movie, but a great Wonder Woman movie.

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Comic Review: Judge Dredd: Funko Universe

What’s cute, cuddly, and strikes fear into the hearts of villains everywhere? If you answered Baby Batman, you’re pretty close. If you answered the Funko Toy version of Judge Dredd, that would be very specific, but you’d be correct! Out this week from IDW comics, the pint-sized, bubble-headed crime fighter stars in his own one-shot comic book for fans of most ages. A work that doesn’t take itself too seriously, it’s a fun and quick read between issues of IDW’s grittier Dredd work Judge Dredd: Blessed Earth, and waiting for the Dredd TV series to finally happen.
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Retro comic review: Aliens: Salvation (1993)

In honor of the newest Alien film, Alien: Covenant (read Keri’s review here), this reporter has decided to take a closer look at some of the franchise’s other pursuits, primarily comic books because comic books are rad. The Alien comic-verse has been helmed for close to 30 years by Dark Horse Comics and has become one of the longest movie/comic tie-ins in comic history. One of the earliest successes was a work titled Aliens: Salvation, penned by Dave Gibbons and illustrated by a young Mike Mignola in 1993.  A gritty, maddening tale of the last survivor of an Alien attack, the comic marks the beginning of Mignola’s career into horror, preceding Hellboy by only a few months. Though initially doomed to die in obscurity, Salvation was re-released in a fancy, hardcover graphic novel in 2015 and has made its way into my grubby mitts.
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Comic Review: Adventure Time Comics #10

I know what you’re thinking: how often am I going to talk about Adventure Time? It’s like I think it’s the best kids show to have come out in the past 20 years and that I’m absolutely heartbroken that it’s coming to an end and holy crap, have you seen the new episodes!? The answer is a lot, so get used to it. Way back a few months ago, I reviewed the initial issue of Adventure Time Comics (not to be confused with Adventure Time which is a similar but separate series that is currently on issue #64), and absolutely fell in love with it. Each issue features a collection of short, grayble-style work handled by different artists and basically just added cute little stories to the very expansive universe. Now at issue #10, the work is just as fun and easily digestible as the first time around and has even opened up its artistic borders to allow for more individual takes on the Adventure Time gang, creating a wholly original work that’s still tethered to the quirkiness of the original source.
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Comics News You Can Use: Locke & Key TV Series, New Kingsman, Stan Lee Hearts White Castle

After three attempts at bringing IDW’s Locke and Key to both the big screen and the small screen, fans might finally see their favorite supernatural mystery in a live-action adaption. The series is getting some headway with what I’ve been told is a promising script written by the comic co-creator, Joe Hill, and has garnered the interest of Dr. Strange director Scott Derrickson, who is set to direct the pilot episode. The adaptation has officially been picked up by Hulu, who have ordered the pilot episode, and, depending on reception, will order an entire first season.
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Comic Review: Rose #1

There’s something about a good comic fantasy that really speaks to me. The high octane adventure, the bizarre creatures, the musclebound heroes, the world creation; the list goes on and on. With almost unlimited freedom to create and play within a world of the creator’s imagination, rules need not apply when it comes to magic and mayhem. Rose #1, named after its red-headed lead character, brings both of those elements head on in a land ravaged by an evil queen and the one person destined to stop her. Following in the footsteps of such comic greats as Conan the Barbarian, Red Sonja, and Berserk, Rose doesn’t stray too far from the tried-and-true formula, but what it does with it is pretty damn fun.

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Comics news you can use: Adventure Time Elements, Batgirl movie, Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe Again

For those who are enamoured with the high octane fantasy of Conan but wish there were a few more sassy talking clouds, Adventure Time has filled that gap perfectly. Despite the animated TV series announcing an official end in 2018, there are plenty of adventures still left, and the creators have recently announced a new mini-series entitled Elements which comes with its own unique opening song.
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In Memoriam: Bernie Wrightson

The Golden Age of comic horror illustration (i.e. 1950s-70s) has just recently lost another monster of the pen, Bernie Wrightson, at the age of 68. Most famously known for creating Swamp Thing with writer Len Wein, his career just passed the fifty year mark and includes work for comics, books, magazines, and newspapers. He has worked for both Marvel and DC including a solid line-up with most major companies of the present and past. While his death may mark the passing of a man, his iconic artwork will remember him as a creator and an artist.

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