Groo vs Conan (2013) by Sergio Aragones, Mark Evanier & Thomas Yeates

“If you want to live, Groo, drop your sword.”
“Groo lives by his sword!”
“Then but one response is possible…”

Sergio Aragones is a legend! He has been called “the fastest cartoonist in the world” and has won a number of prestigious awards including the National Cartoonists Society Reuben Award, and the Will Eisner Hall of Fame Award. He began drawing for MAD magazine in the 1960s and created Groo the Wanderer in the late 1970s. (It was first published in 1982 by Pacific Comics.) Aragones teamed up with writer Mark Evanier and their collaboration on Groo became one of the longest-running “creator-owned” comic books of its time.

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A Feast for Crows (2005) by George R.R. Martin

Aemon’s blind white eyes came open. “Egg?” he said, as the rain streamed down his cheeks. “Egg, I dreamed that I was old.”

2005’s A Feast for Crows appears to divide opinion more than any of the previous three books in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. One reason for this was the author’s decision to chop this fourth installment into two parts due to its excessive length. (The second part would eventually be released in 2011 as A Dance with Dragons). The author then upset fans even more by leaving the plot threads of his three most popular characters hanging until the following book. So readers had to wait six more years to discover what became of Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow, and Danaerys Targaryan.

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US Hardcover (First edition)

A Feast for Crows continues the narrative from the point of view of twelve characters, both major and minor. Jaime Lannister, Brienne of Tarth, Sansa and Arya Stark get the majority of the chapters. It is notable that Martin takes us inside Cersei Lannister’s head for the first time in this book and we get to hear her first-person narration of events. Additionally, we are introduced to Aeron Greyjoy–a priest of the Drowned God–and discover more about the ways of the Iron Islands and their inhabitants. Continue reading

The White Ship (1919) by H.P. Lovecraft

‘From the East tempestuous winds arose, and chilled me as I crouched on the slab of damp stone which had risen beneath my feet.’

 

First published in 1919, this is the second story in Lovecraft’s Dream Cycle. It tells the tale of Basil Elton, a lighthouse keeper who speaks of “the secret lore of ocean.” When the moon is full, he witnesses a White Ship which “glides smoothly and silently across the sea“. On this ship is a “bearded and robed” man who signals Basil to join him. Together, they voyage among a group of mystical islands beginning with ‘the Land of Zar’.

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Polaris (1918) by H.P. Lovecraft

“Slumber, watcher, till the spheres,
Six and twenty thousand years
Have revolv’d, and I return
To the spot where now I burn.
Other stars anon shall rise
To the axis of the skies;
Stars that soothe and stars that bless
With a sweet forgetfulness:
Only when my round is o’er
Shall the past disturb thy door.”

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Image (c) Greg Parker

Written in 1918 and first published in 1920, Polaris is the first story in Lovecraft’s Dream Cycle. In this short tale, the narrator describes the night sky seen from his bedroom window, paying particular attention to the Pole Star. Continue reading

The City and the City (2009) by China Mieville

“There is no case,” he told her. “There’s a series of random and implausible crises that make no sense other than if you believe the most dramatic possible shit. And there’s a dead girl at the end of it all.”

 

Brief Synopsis

Inspector Tyador Borlu lives and works in the city of Beszel. As the story opens, he is investigating the murder of a woman found dead in a quiet Beszel street. She is identified as Mahalia Geary, a foreign student attending Beszel’s university. What starts out as a standard murder investigation quickly becomes more complex as Inspector Borlu’s inquiries lead him to the “neighboring” city of Ul Qoma. He joins forces with local Detective Quissim Dhatt and they attempt to unravel the truth about the murdered woman’s connections with both cities.

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2009 Del Ray edition. Cover by FWIS

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May the 4th be with you! RIP Peter Mayhew.

RIP Peter Mayhew.

Thank you for making Chewie real. You were one of my favourite Star Wars characters and one of my favourite Star Wars figures. I’ll never forget writing to Kenner to ask for a replacement gun because we lost the original one. Kenner sent me three new ones!

I love you and I love your gun! But I never want to play chess with you;)

 

To the question, “What are you asked most often?”

Mayhew replies: “There are always three: Continue reading

Hellblazer #1 & Sandman #1

HELLBLAZER #1

‘Yesterday I was shivering in London. Now the Sudanese sun scorches the skin from me, like a blowtorch.’

In this premiere issue of Hellblazer, streetwise magician John Constantine meets an old friend and goes in search of a hunger demon.

Hellblazer #1, January 1988, Cover by Dave McKean

The first Hellblazer issue I bought was number 31 back in July 1990. It was written by Jamie Delano with art by Sean Phillips. The story is titled “Mourning of the Magician” and tells the tale of John Constantine’s father’s funeral. I was vaguely aware of the character of Constantine but had no idea who anyone else was. What I do remember is how much the story pulled me in. It was a ghost story set in England with references to occult magic. I instantly wanted to know more about these characters and the world they inhabited.

I continued to buy Hellblazer monthly and made it my mission to get hold of the previous thirty issues that I’d missed. Some were easy to find, others not so much, especially the first ten issues. I remember tracking down issue one at a comics fair in Manchester, England. I don’t recall how much I paid for it but it can’t have been very much because I was in college at the time. I can trace my infection with the “collector-bug” to this comic book as well as Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.

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