Joshua Hale Fialkov

Purveyor of sheer awesomeness.

Joshua Hale Fialkov is the Harvey, Eisner, and Emmy Award nominated writer of graphic novels, animation, video games, film, and television, including:

THE LIFE AFTER, THE BUNKER, PUNKS, ELK'S RUN, TUMOR, ECHOES, KING, PACIFIC RIM, THE ULTIMATES, I, VAMPIRE, and JEFF STEINBERG CHAMPION OF EARTH. He's also written for NBC's CHICAGO MED and SYFY's upcoming INCORPORATED.

Filtering by Category: Other People's Comics

Pasadena Rockin' Comic Con

Hey folks,I'll be appearing this weekend at the Pasadena Rockin' Comic Con with copies of Tumor for sale. I'll be set up in Artist Alley, either on my own or with Tony Fleecs.

Also appearing are cool folk like Batton Lash, Bernie Wrightson, and Stan Lee. So, you may be asking yourself, what makes this show "Rockin'"? Well, that would be that its also a music festival, headlined by those princes of New Wave Flock of Seagulls.

It's a truly weird weekend, so, go check out their site, and make sure you come by and say Hullo!

http://rockincomiccon.com/

See you there!

j. www.thefialkov.com

Comics Advocacy

Not a lot of people read anymore. Even fewer people read comics. Independent comics? Even less. Estimates had the complete comic market (meaning people who go to a local comic shop) somewhere around 350k a few years ago. Then, if you look at the percentages of market via Diamond, you realize that just about every publisher not named Marvel or DC combined barely equals one of those two companies sales. In other words, not a lot of people.

That puts you in a peculiar position as a comics fan, and as an independent comics fan specifically. You more or less have to shout from rooftops about every book you love. And that's fucking exhausting.

When I first started in comics, I came to it from this idea of being an advocate. I would scream and shout and harangue people to read the really cool drastically under ordered books that I was a fan of. Hell, I even did it as a weekly columnist for Broken Frontier.

Then, I transitioned to being a publisher and creator. Say what you will about my business, the one thing we did right was get the word out. But, it didn't translate into sales. Probably my favorite stat is that while Elk's Run was busy getting an A review from Entertainment Weekly it was barely selling 900 copies per issue.

I'm not what you'd call a positive person. I'm ultra-critical, to a fault, and, as anyone who's ever spent more than a few minutes with me knows you say the magic words and I turn into a pit bull of rage and anger. But, when it comes to comics advocacy in a public setting, I just can't do that. Instead of dwelling on whatever multi-part crossover is irritatingly selling thousands of times more than any of my books do, I instead scream the praises of Jeff Lemire's Sweet Tooth, Moon and Ba's Daytrippers, Mark Waid's Brave and the Bold, Darwyn Cooke's Parker novels, etc.

So, look, the point of this ramble is that it breaks my heart to see reviewers and readers harp on books they don't like, reviewing each individual part of a 200 issue crossover rather than saying, "Fuck it, let's read something new."

With TUMOR on it's way to stores in the next few weeks, this idea of comics advocacy is high in my mind. I've had dozens of people come back after reading the digital version or the advance copies from C2E2 tell me how much they love the book, and, I tell each of them the same thing. If you love it, go online. Twitter it, Facebook it. Go to Goodreads and write a review. Amazon reviews. Write it up on your blog.

You have to assume that if you like this book you're the only person in the world with the ability to get your friends and family to read it, because frankly, you are.

So, rather than griping about which Marvel characters are getting their minds wiped or which DC character is rising from the dead, tell people about your favorite independent comic.

Especially if it's Tumor.

More Things I Love: Chad Crawford Kinkle's Harpe

No buy it now link for this one, as it's just now available for pre-order in the direct comic market. Harpe: America's First Serial Killers is quite possibly one of the most mature, sophisticated, and down-right beautiful debuts of a graphic novelist I've ever been privy to. First, about Chad. I met Chad at Comic-Con a few years ago when some of my buddies brought him around to talk about his proposal for a graphic novel. When I heard the concept I fell in love. When I got to spend time talking with Chad about the project, breaking into comics, and what to do next, I knew that I'd just met an exciting new talent who was going to rock the shit out of this industry.

The book, in case the title didn't clue you in, is about a couple of brothers in the early 19th century who went on a killing spree through the South. They're like Bonnie and Clyde is just barely post-revolutionary war times. It's a delicate mix of history and horror with the feel of good Western Noir, that's engaging and beautifully executed by Chad and artist Adam Shaw.

The thing about Chad, much like the aforementioned Joshua Dysart, is that he does something I just can't do. He takes history and makes it flesh. The book is thoroughly researched, pain-stakingly replicating the events, locales, and characters of this most definitely untold story in a way that defies it's period setting and gory subject matter. He creates a portrait of some sick individuals that you still manage to have feelings for. Considering the atrocities these guys committed, that's an amazing feat. They're not just monsters, they're human, and very, very real.

Do yourself a favor and head to your local retailer, and have them order this book. Tell them it's available using Diamond Order Number SEP090728. You'll be glad you did.

More info, including a five page preview available here: http://us1.campaign-archive.com/?u=9d17c9217240226bbc79d6750&id=6f9b04e3e1&e=

Unknown Soldier Vol. 1

I'm fortunate to call Josh Dysart a friend. I've known him for almost my entire career in comics, which is closing in on a decade now. He has a lot of tools in his toolbox as a writer that I'm incredibly envious of. He handles huge ideas in digestable ways, and creates world that are both painfully realistic, and bendable to his whims. If you don't believe check out his pitch perfect pulp work on Penny Farthing's Captain Gravity, him following in the footsteps of the greatest writer in comics and going toe to toe with him on Swamp Thing, or, crafting one of the most socially responsible comics about a crazy guy with a gun in the history of the medium, as he's done in Unknown Soldier.

The book is dark. Really dark. Achingly, painfully, nightmare inducing dark. And yet... it's not a nightmare to get through, as you'd expect. Instead, it's a delicate piece of true art that both forwards the medium of comics and manages to be a page turning semi-superhero style action piece. It crafts the perfect balance of information dump and character, that makes the world seem ultra-real, extremely foreign, yet simple and understandable.

There truly are few writers in Josh's league these days, and I'm thrilled to see someone so talented succeeding in such a grand sense. And in case it matters, he's also a sensationally sweet guy who can charm the pants off of you. Literally. I've seen it.

Do yourself a favor, and check out the book, and, I recommend seeing Josh's extensive notes, behind the scenes diary posts, and more over at http://www.joshuadysart.com

Quick Comic Review: Tom Strong vol. 1

Tom Strong (Book 1) Tom Strong by Alan Moore

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
For some reason, I skipped over the triumvirate of ABC books of which Tom Strong is a part. It's literally everything good about superhero comics in one book. Fun, inventive, light hearted, emotionally resonant, and, best of all, inspiring. Alan Moore is so often though of as dour and miserable, and yet, here we are, with a book that is anything but.

Go. Read it. Now.

View all my reviews.

Watchmen

Posted the following on a discussion board a little bit ago, and realized I never said anything about Watchmen on the site, so, here's my extremely brief review. I saw Watchmen at a screening a couple of weeks back. It's way better than I expected it to be, and, in fact, I found myself inspired by it. I hadn't read the graphic novel in at least ten years, and liked the movie so much, I went out and rebought it, and reread it.

It's different than the book, obviously, but, some of the choices are actually pretty great (the squid never worked for me in the book, and what they came up with instead really makes infinitely more sense.) Overall, there's considerably more style than substance, but, the material itself is so substantial, that it ends up being okay.

So, yeah, go in with low expectations and be pleasently surprised.

The Cleaners and Boston, Ho!

Hey gang,Long time no weekly update. In the weeks in between, I'm sure you've all been checking out the weekly episodes of The Resistance at lg15.com. If not, you can get caught up extra easy on the front page of www.thefialkov.com.

As part of the show, we're heading to Boston at the end of next week. Anybody who's in town who wants to meet up, or take part in our live event should drop me a line, and I'll get you some more info.

And finally, in stores this week, the comics debut of screenwriting wunderkin, Fialkov wedding best man, and all around good guy Mark Wheaton (ably supported by yours truly) in The Cleaners from Dark Horse Comics. It'll be at your local retailer this wedneday, or, you can order (and preview) the first issue at this link: http://www.darkhorse.com/Comics/15-214/The-Cleaners-1

So, that's it. Hope all of y'all are doing well, and, looking forward to catching up with any of y'all in my old stomping grounds.

See you next week,

j.

Ah, the non-stop race of life...

And, in typical blogger fashion, I now apologize for more or less disappearing the past few weeks. The new job is going amazingly well, and should be outright announced in the coming days. I've got a podcast over on Word Balloon talking about it, and the huge stack of other projects in the immediate future. That should be posted anytime now. Otherwise, don't forget to preorder Cyblade #1 and #2 from Top Cow, The Cleaners #1 from Dark Horse, and to pick up the 1st volume of the Afro Samurai manga from Tor Books.

As for recommended reading, I'm all caught up on Monster, and am currently making my way through Tezuka's own serial killer/psycho sexual adventure MW, which is a must read for fans of Monster.

Been rewatching Six Feet Under with Christina (it's her first time) and reminded of just how powerful the show is, and, suprisingly, how much less depressing than I thought it was. We've got season one of Mad Men on tap next, and I'm psyched to get started on it, as the pilot was so damn good, and everybody else seems to shit babies they like the rest of it so much.

I'll try and post a 'what I'm listening to' later this week, as the day job has introduced me to some pretty cool new stuff that's right on the verge, yada yada.

Later gators.

Randy Lander says nice things, and Outlaw Territory ALSO in Previews Now!

Comic Pants » Down The Line: October 2008

Outlaw Territory Vol 1 GN (Image Comics): Randy: In theory, I’m a western comics fan. In practice, they rarely work for me. I think Outlaw Territory might be one of those rare exceptions, though, because of the line-up of talent (Joshua Hale Fialkov alone, because of his Western Tales of Terror, gets my attention) and because Image has had such great anthologies lately. (page 138)

Book Review - Scalped, Vol. 1

Scalped Vol. 1: Indian Country Scalped Vol. 1: Indian Country by Jason Aaron

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Finally got a chance to read the very talented Jason Aaron's Scalped. I'd read the first issue or two, and decided I'd pick it up in trades, as I so rarely go to the comic shop these days. I plowed through the first volume in about thirty minutes, and really loved it.

I think the Sopranos comparisons the book gets is a bit off. Jason does some really sophisticated stuff with storytelling that, to me, feels more in line with the Homicide/Oz/The Wire style storytelling than it does with anything else.

Highly recommended.

View all my reviews.

Fialkov & Hester in Des Moines

Hey gang,This week, the wife and I head to see my folks in lovely (and supposedly not underwater) Clive, Iowa. While there, I'll be joined by Iowan Superman Phil Hester for a signing at the Mayhem Comics in Des Moines.

The signing info is as follows:

Mayhem Comics Satuday June 21st 1 - 4pm 7500 University Ave. Des Moines, IA 50325 (515) 271-8104

See you there!

Book Review - Naoki Urasawa's Monster Vol. 1

Naoki Urasawa's Monster, Vol. 1 Naoki Urasawa's Monster, Vol. 1 by Naoki Urasawa

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Urasawa's use of suspense is second to none. A complete and utter piece of genius, Monster gives proof not just to readers but to creators of manga and graphic novels that this medium is ready to be used and abused for much grander things than we've seen before.

A complete masterwork that'll leave you aching for Viz to finish releasing the series.

View all my reviews.

Book Review - Death Note, Vol. 1

Death Note, Volume 1 Death Note, Volume 1 by Tsugumi Ohba

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
The best. The absolute, 100% beyond a shadow of a doubt best use of graphic storytelling in the past five years. Sophisticated storytelling, an amazingly compelling concept, and characters you hate, love, suspect, trust, believe in, and despise.

Be forewarned, after reading the first volume, you won't be able to stop.

View all my reviews.

Book Review - The Drifting Classroom Vol. 1

The Drifting Classroom Vol. 1 (Drifting Classroom) The Drifting Classroom Vol. 1 by Kazuo Umezu

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
A simple concept, not quite executed to it's fullest. Unfortunately, the characters, motivations, and reactions are all just out of whack. Lots of 60's style EXCLAMATION! POINTS! AFTER! EVERY! SENTENCE! which is, I guess, sort of a nice retro thing, but, when you take these kids and throw them into such an out of this world situation, some slightly more grounded handling of the characters is in order to really keep you into the story.

Still debating on whether to continue or not, I'm probably willing to give it another volume or so, just to see where the story goes.

View all my reviews.

Book Review - Parsyte Vol. 11

Parasyte, Volume 1 Parasyte, Volume 1 by Hitoshi Iwaaki

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
A whole lot of fun to be had in Parasyte. Somewhere between a wacky sex comedy, action adventure, and sci-fi/horror, Parasyte is yet another wholly unique experience in manga form. While not particularly deep or thoughtful, the book manages to be the most fun I've had reading a manga in some time.

View all my reviews.

Book Review - Color of Rage

Color of Rage Color of Rage by Kazuo Koike

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
As a big fan of Lone Wolf and Cub, when I read the back of this book, I knew I had to give it a try. Essentially, it's the Defiant Ones, set in feudal Japan. A somewhat graceful look at race, freedom, and morality, through the eyes of an African American man trapped in Japan.

I'm not sure if this is the sole volume, as it feels fairly open ended at the end. In any event, it's beautiful story telling and very compelling action from one of the fathers of manga. Highly recommended.

View all my reviews.

On Death Note and the State of American Comics

Just a little bit of time before running out for a day of meetings (and driving from one to the other.) Last night, Tony and I headed out to the Burbank AMC for the "Fathom Events" two nights only screening of the live action Death Note movie. I don't want to give too much of a review, but, essentially, it leads me to the topic I've been itching to discuss.

Death Note, as a manga, is probably one of the best works of modern fiction we've seen thus far this century. It's certainly the best piece of graphic fiction. For thirteen 200+ page volumes, the story of two guys trying to out think each other is one of the most riveting, emotional, and action packed books on the shelf. That being said... it really only works in two formats. Manga and Anime. This story works because of it's sprawl. By taking the time to show every move and counter move, every nuanced thought and line of inquiry, we get to know these characters better than you ever could hope to. Plus, in this world of heightened realism, mixed with ten foot tall demons walking amongst them just doesn't play on the screen with live action.

The live action movie is part 1 of what is essentially a trilogy, and despite being two and a half hours long, still fails to capture 1/10th of the power and drama of the manga. The fact that Viz decided to do these screenings with a dubbed version, that managed to also leave off subs for the copious amount of text throughout the movie certainly didn't help. But, technical complaints aside, the fact is that the movie fails where the books succeed. Again, despite all of the hooplah involving copycat murders and teenagers in trouble, this is a book about two extremely smart men playing a game of morality tinged Chess.

It's very much a product of it's medium. This style of long form story telling doesn't exist in many other mediums. While certainly the television serial gives you the length to tell the story, it doesn't allow for the pacing nor the subtlety of the graphic form. While American comics, especially, say, a Vertigo series allows for this sort of high end detailed story-telling, I think that the general idea of the book is so far outside of the world experience of most American comics industry 'execs' that it wouldn't get made. Death Note is a creation wholly unto itself. Without the 'farm system' of the weekly anthologies of Japan, daring and different work would not exist. I think you see that in our own comics. Of course there's always the independent publishers, but, face the facts, the idea of cranking out a 2600 page story from an Independent publisher in this day and age is a rarity at best. Plus, as mentioned, this isn't a movie. Certainly, there IS a movie, but, the movie exists because of the vast popularity of the comic and anime, which is counter to how American independent comics function. Indies need to have that movie hook in order to make the whole thing financially viable. Japan, on the other hand, has the distribution and audience that the comic itself is it's own commodity.

I say all of this, and, for sake of time, want to keep away from the sheer number of teenagers who were there, in costume, talking about the differences between the books, the anime, and the movie (while it was playing, which is a whole other story about me hating to go out in public.)

So, look, all this really just comes down to me being both inspired and somewhat disappointed by our medium. While it's obvious that we truly can accomplish amazing things with just some pictures on a page, it seems like us Westerners may have finally been left completely and utterly behind. There needs to be radical change in our industry in order to save us from obscurity. Until we embrace not just the style (I'm looking at you, Marvel Mangaverse), but the ethos of these far more successful (and in many ways far superior) comics, I fear that there might not be much of an American comics industry left in a few years.

Here's to trying to change that.

Death Note will be playing again across the country tonight. More info here.

Analyzing Postcards

Long(ish) form dissection of each story from Postcards, including my story, seen here: ARTIFACT AND ARTIFICE: CULTURAL STUDIES OF THE TEXTUAL CITY: Postcards: True Stories that Never Happened

This story also invokes the idea of the city, since it is set in Paris and location is a focal point in the story – Marj wants to go home, Frank admires the skyline and calls it “paradise”, and the large last panel is Marj left alone, dwarfed under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Once again, here the city is an imposing, important ‘character’ in the story, where people can lose themselves or take on new identities.