Looking To The Stars: Random Thoughts at 2 AM.

Salutations, gentle readers! May I deliver my apologies once again for the rather sporadic rate at which my usual ranting have been released. Would that I had the excuse of some of my colleagues of having spend that last few weeks partying down in San Diego.

Sadly, real life is being even more difficult at the moment than I had feared it would be when I embarked upon the mad course to finish all my Masters degree studies over the summer. Between that, a full time job, looking for a new job for once I get my degree, financial difficulties stemming from class fees and some other personal business that I shan’t go into here… I’m swamped. It has gotten to the point that I’ve canceled my comic subscription.

Yes, I know. The Seventh Seal has broken and the end is nigh!

Don’t worry. I’m still picking up a few titles. I just no longer feel the need to reserve anything for myself, save Red Sonja and Fables. And that’s mostly so my girlfriend can have a copy, those being the two books she reads. The fact of the matter is I have precious little time to read lately.

And honestly? The vast majority of what is published today holds little thrill for me. I’ve already written off Marvel Comics completely, as far too many of their books possess the same dull tone. And this was before everyone was dragged into the long-drawn out abyss that is House of M. DC is somewhat better, though they have far too many books promising tie-ins to Villains United or some other mini-series but failing to deliver. Still, the quality level on the writing is still high for the most part and so long as Gail Simone and Geoff Johns continue to write their respective titles, I’ll still have the occasional DC title gracing my hand.

More and more, I find myself reading more independent works. The gamer in me continues to revel in Dork Tower and Knights of the Dinner Table, as well as the new Dr. Blink: Superhero Shrink. Hellblazer, Lucifer, Fables and any Sandman-based Vertigo title are also sure to be snatched up. Ex Machina continues to be the best book published today, because of Brian Vaughan’s writing and Tony Harris’s pencils. And I continue to pick up Conan and Red Sonja; devout Robert E. Howard fan that I am.

On a side note, I recommend that all fans of the fantasy comics head down to your local bookstore and pick up a copy of “The Coming of Conan”. All of the original Howard Conan stories, uncut and unabridged with no rewrites or additions as often happened in some of the reprints of his work.

And of course; my favorite web comics continue to give me a little amusement a few times a week. I may not be able to pick up a book every week now, but I can always click a bookmark. I’ve sung the praises of all these titles before, but because I need to do this every once in a while for the new readers who don’t check the archives, here’s links to every web-based comic I think is worth reading.

Something Positive
Midnight Macabre
New Gold Dreams
8-Bit Theater
Penny Arcade
The Order Of The Stick
Punks and Nerds
Nice Hair
Queen of Wands

And finally, I’d like to do a very special recommendation for Halloween-Man. Long published as an independent title through a number of smaller companies (most recently through Across the Pond), Halloweenman. With grotesque, monstrous heroes and even more disturbing villains, this title is a screaming love-letter to the good ol’ days of Lee and Kirby. There’s a little something for everyone; humor, monsters, superheroes, romance. The whole gamut of the human condition, in other words. And, for those who care about such things, a whole lot of social commentary that is hidden behind damned engaging action stories.

I’ve been a fan ever since I met writer and creator Drew Edwards at a Con a while back. And I think you’ll all be fans too if you give it a shot. You can see a few sample comics at Halloweenman.com and order more from the on-line store. I highly recommend the latest ash-can: Raw Meat. It is worth picking up, if only for the story involving the elemental spirit of Fandom. It must be read to be believed.

Tune in next week. Same Matt time. Same Matt website.