Brawl #1 by Dean Haspiel and Michel Fiffe

Categories:  Reviews

Brawl #1
By Dean Haspiel and Michel Fiffe
Image Comics

Dean Haspiel and Michel FiffeIf there’s one thing that ties Dean Haspiel and Michel Fiffe’s halves of Brawl together, right the bat, it’s the feeling the reader gets of being somewhat lost in the proceedings. It’s clear by the end of both that, despite the fact that this installment comprises a third of the book’s entire run, you’ve only begun to scratch the surface of either story, and frankly, it’s a bit maddening.

In the case of Haspiel’s end, the mystery can, at least in part, be chalked up to the fact that “Immortal” is but one part in his Billy Dogma trilogy. It’s still quite possible to glean a good deal of enjoyment from the experience, but don’t expect to grasp ever subtle nuance of storyline. Haspiel, for his part, forgoes anything remotely resembling subtlety, by setting the scene with a first panel that finds his grisled protagonist tearing through a second story brick wall.

Billy Dogma largely stomps through the book in a similar manner, a more lovable and less outwardly deformed version of Marv, knocking heart-shaped holes in the sides of cement walls, in search of his lady, with whom he shares a love affair that’s half Sid and Nancy, half Silver Surfer, the latter making blatently clear the Warren Ellis quote that adorns the book’s cover, uttering Haspiel and Kirby’s names in the same short breath.

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Awesome Edited by Indie Spinner Rack

Categories:  Reviews

Edited by Indie Spinner Rack
Evil Twin Comics

AwesomeDespite of the absurd amount of talent currently floating around in the alternative comics scene, it seems that quality anthologies are perpetually few and far between. Ask anyone with a bit of knowledge about the scene to recommend a good collection, and they’ll likely point you in the direction of Fantagraphics’ Mome anthology. However, for all of the title’s strengths, it’s always felt extremely cliquey, and as such, isn’t exactly the best book for providing a decent cross-section of up-and-coming talent in the scene.

The Best American Comics collection goes a ways towards offering the aforementioned ever important cross-section, however, it’s largely lacking in another key element of a quality comics anthology: the exposure of up-and-coming indie comics artists (granted, this largely depends on the editor of any given edition, but the chances that a good sampling of artists will appear who work the nightshift at Kinko’s to scam free copies, is slim to none). Names like Alison Bechdel and Joe Sacco might prove obscure to those whose knowledge of the comics has deemed Image’s output the weird and fringey outskirts of the medium, but for folks like us, dear reader, those names are some serious A-list hall of fame fodder.

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Reich 1 and 2 by Elijah J. Brubaker

Categories:  Reviews

Reich 1 and 2
Elijah J. Brubaker
Sparkplug Books

Elijah J. Brubaker‘I fully expect many readers to disagree with my interpretations of [Wilhelm] Reich’s life,’ Elijah Brubaker announces in the inside-cover introduction to the first issue of Reich.  For the majority of his potential readers, Brubaker’s preemptive apology is likely to prove unnecessary.

After all, as he correctly posits in the intro to the same text, ‘[m]ost people who know of the man know him as a crazy character[…]People like Robert Anton Wilson and William Burroughs have mentioned him in their literature,’ which is to say that, outside of those who have chosen to intimate themselves with Reich’s history, the man is little more than a collection of quotes and ideas name-checked amongst leading counter-cultural figures.

I’d be lying if I suggested that, before picking up these first two installments of Brubaker’s semi-fictionalized account of Reich’s life, that my familiarity with the man extended at all beyond the bits and pieces attributed to him that have appeared in the works of subsequent artists and writers.

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Posta-Rica: Bad News on the Interview Front

Categories:  News

Hey all. Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving, and a special thanks goes out to Sarah M, who helped helm the Hatch while I was out of the country. I spent the week in Costa Rica, succumbing to car crashes, stolen cameras, customs officers, bad Internet connections, and constant rain—still, as far as vacations go, I’ve certainly had worse, and I seem to have improved my Spanish level to that of a three-year-old.

For those who are interested in such things, I posted some photos on the same Flickr account I’ve been using for Cross Hatch purposes. Comics-related dealings over the course of the trip were, unfortunately, limited to a Spider-Man piñata, a picture of Mickey Mouse on the side of a bar in San Rafael that suspiciously as if it had been painted by Kaz, and the bizarre appearance of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and Lenore pins in a San Jose hobby shop.

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Indie Spinner Rack #100 is Live

Categories:  News

Indie Spinner Rack 100

A couple dozen cartoonists walk into an aquatic fowl-themed Bushwick bar. A healthy amount of alcohol is imbibed. The results are recorded by a duo of comic podcasters celebrating the significant milestone that is episode 100. I will happily state, for the record, that as both a member of the studio audience and an impromptu interviewee, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

It was fairly clear that everyone else in attendance—save, perhaps, for one cartoonist’s young spawn, who loudly bawled at the sound of co-host Charlito’s voice (for the record, Mr. Phil, cohost number two, largely played the role of the silent straight man)—thoroughly enjoyed themselves, as well.

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Interview: Tom Kaczynski pt. 2 (of 2)

Categories:  Interviews

pipeTom Kaczynski may be familiar to you if you read mini-comics, Fantagraphics’ quarterly MOME publication, or this website. He is also in regular attendance at most indie comics shows, such as MoCCA and SPX.

It’s the day after Thanksgiving. Right now you’re probably stuffed with tryptophan and looking for a reason to stay home. I recommend that you snuggle up by a warm, relaxing fire and enjoy the rest of Tom K’s interview.

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Guest Strip: Eli Kochalka

Categories:  Guest Strip


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Today we at the Cross Hatch are thankful for little Eli Kochalka, age 4, who kindly drew us today’s holiday guest strip. The lettering is courtesy of his pops, James. Thanks oodles, Kochalkas!

Sarah Morean

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24Seven Volume 2 Edited by Ivan Brandon

Categories:  Reviews

24Seven Volume 2
Edited by Ivan Brandon
Image Comics

Ivan BrandonIs there any subject matter quite so rife with fictional fodder as artificial intelligence? Editor Ivan Brandon and team answer the question with a decidedly firm ‘probably not,’ with this second volume of the densely-packed robot short story anthology, 24Seven. The stories contained in the book cover a good deal of ground, both artistically and thematically, but largely subscribe to two primary arguments as to the value of topic.

The first, and most obvious, is the fact that robots are cool. They just are, and therefore act as a cool foundation on which to erect a really cool story—particularly one that relies heavily on lots of cool pictures of cool robots. The second is the fact that robots, by their very nature, are both eternally cursed and blessed to exist as perhaps the most perfect allegory for the human condition.

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Only Skin Issues 1-2 by Sean Ford

Categories:  Reviews

Only Skin Issues 1-2
By Sean Ford

newapocalypseI love writing these reviews. I love getting comics in the mail. Sometimes it can be frustrating, however, when I receive a few issues of a comic that contain an incomplete story. Particularly when the author has written an engrossing and interesting story like Sean Ford has in Only Skin Issues 1-2. I want to finish it but I can’t! And since issue 2 was just released at SPX this year, it might be a long time yet before I know what’s lurking in the woods near Cassie and Clay’s gas station.

Only Skin is a mystery comic about a brother and sister who move to a disturbingly small town in the middle of nowhere. Their father has just disappeared – inexplicably of course. Cassie is older and seems to be in charge of her young brother Clay. She’s also trying to investigate her father’s disappearance.

Clay is having a tough time adjusting to his new surroundings. He even seems to have picked up a kind of imaginary friend, a ghost only he and another young boy can see. Cassie works nights running her father’s old business, a 24-hour gas station. This gas station is consequently the center of more than one weird occurrence or fatality, which sucks the brother-sister duo into the thick of the town’s ever-expanding weirdness.

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Interview: Cory Doctorow pt. 1 (of 3)

Categories:  Interviews

Cory Doctorow 
[Image courtesy of Flickr.] 

Whether you’re aware of it or not, there’s a good chance that you, dear Internet frequenter, are a reader of Cory Doctorow’s work. As a primary contributor to Boing Boing, perhaps the Web’s foremost aggregator of wonderful miscellany, Doctorow has established himself as one of the most influential bloggers around.

Doctorow has also distinguished himself as a successful science fiction writer—his first love—through several short stories and three novels, including 2003’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, a quasi-utopian work set in a 22nd Century Disney World, which earned the first-time author a Nebula Award nomination for best novel.

More recently (and, incidentally, more relevantly to the concerns of The Hatch), Doctorow struck a deal with San Diego-based comics publisher, IDW, which will see six of the author’s short stories adapted into works of sequential art, beginning Anda’s Game, a work concerned with the MMORPG phenomenon of gold farming.

After a few failed attempts to connect with Doctorow at his new home base in the UK (which, for the record, concerned the unfortunate purchase of a faulty phone card by our broke, Skypeless asses), we finally managed to speak with the author about comics, Creative Commons, and that chick on the school bus who totally digs Neil Gaiman, too.

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