Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ocho: A Hardcore Review

Today I review Ocho, originally called Three Blind Mice, a comic created by Eric Mengel of the greater Phoenix area of Arizona. The basis of the book is three odd friends, Ocho (a giant blue man from the planet Crountoor), Pitbull (a nose picking goofball with aspirations of being famous) and Petey (a chain smoking cigar chomping teddy bear with a penchant for the absurd).
The first volume begins with the motley trio meandering around Mill Avenue in Tempe. Petey and Pitbull had just been put in the news paper for saving a stripper who was choking on a chicken wing. The stripper gave them each a thousand bucks for the save. However given the events later in the book, it's very likely that it was actually Ocho who saved the woman. As Ocho foils a bank robbery, but wanting his anonymity, Ocho tells Pitbull to wait for the cops. And Pitbull and Petey become "the heroes of Tempe."
Things continue to go awry, as they meet with their friend Eric, who is working on comics inside Coffee Plantation, also on Mill Avenue. Ocho tells Eric he needs a job and is trying to convince his buds to also contribute. Eric helps him by recommending Palapa, a bar around the way. Ocho becomes a bouncer at Palapa.
I honestly didn't know if I was gonna like this story at first. I began reading it at Amazing Arizona Con between customers and lookie loos. There was far more down time than I would have liked. But that's con life. Sometimes you're Stan Lee and sometimes you're how Rob Liefeld should be, lonely and broke!
But I read the stories mainly while working my overnight shift at the group home I work at. Which is seriously coincidental, cause creator Eric Mengel works at a group home. So I feel a serious connection with him. And that's not the only reason. We're both small, or micro if you will, press comic book creators. And, I seriously hope he doesn't mind me saying this, his mother is sadly dying from cancer. I was diagnosed with bone cancer, just over ten years ago.
Ocho is a phenomenal book. I honestly have to say I'm less of a fan of the story line involving his home planet of Crountoor, and more a fan of the slice of life aspect involving Ocho trying to live a semi normal life, and Pitbull and Petey just wankering around. It has a great story. And a lot of backing by some pretty cool people in the local community.
Eric,has been doing comics since 1995. In fact the last issue in the second trade paperback is from 1995. Mengel has a good head on his shoulders and the ability to keep cranking out Ocho. He's got a following, support and the will power to keep going. Ocho is a seriously funny fucking book. A book you should read, if you like slice of life, and the bizarre. He's up to the teens in issues, and has done some pinup work for other local artists and their collected editions. In the future, I would not only continue reading Ocho, but volunteer to do a pinup or two for Eric and his work. Especially if I got to draw the stripper who choked on the chicken wing.
As you may or may not know (if you don't read my reviews you FUCKING should), I grade everything I review on a hardcore moment in professional wrestling history. The more hardcore the moment, wrestler or event, the more I liked the book. As if you couldn't already tell by reading the fucking review. But every reviewer has their system of grading. Some of the more unoriginal bastards or bitches in this game use stars, thumbs up or down, or a fucking letter grade. But nothing rings truer than a moment that already burns in time. So here goes... in the early days of ECW, there was a rivalry. And a match. Sandman, the beer guzzling, chain smoking, cane swinging, pain inducing freak of nature versus the then pretty boy, baby face, who would eventually become "The Innovator of Violence," Tommy Dreamer. The match itself may or may not have been something to write home about. But the matches stipulation sure as fuck was. The match was a "Singapore Cane" match. The loser... would receive a violent caning to the back. Dreamer lost. And a caning he got. All he had to do was kiss Woman's (the Sandman's manager) feet. But he refused after every cane shot. With his back bleeding and bruised, fans pleading with Tommy to stay down, Dreamer stood face to face with the Sandman and said, "That's all you got? I took your best shots and I'm still standing here." Truly a defining moment in the history, not just of ECW, but of hardcore wrestling.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Runaways; A Hardcore Review

Essentially this wasn't so much the story of the all girl rock band, The Runaways, so much as it was the story of Joan Jett and Cherie Curie.
While the look of the film was no doubt "spot on," I couldn't stand this movie. Kristen "Twilight" Stewart had NO FUCKING BUSINESS playing Joan Jett. Just cause she's in fucking vogue right now doesn't mean she was the right person to play Joan. And yeah, she looks a little like Jett in the 70's, but to me that AIN'T fucking good enough. The shitty thing, to me, is that she did a good job portraying the first lady of Punk Rock. Kristen Stewart, whether I like it or not is at the very least a decent actress, if not, a really good actress. This role has broken her out of the mold of being Bella, the wishy washy girl from the Twilight saga. And moving out of your comfort zone as an artist is essential for staying fresh and being the best that you can be.
Dakota Fanning plays Cherie Curie, the lead singer of The Runaways. With their meteoric rise to stardom, Curie becomes a drug addict and alcoholic. Fanning, has become a sparkling actress since her debut in "I Am Sam," playing opposite the very retarded Sean Penn.
Alia Shawkat, Pash from Whip It was in this movie, playing Robin. While Rob Zombie's Halloween Laurie Strode, Scout Taylor-Compton played Lita "Kiss Me Deadly" Ford. But the whole movie was spotlighting Joan Jett and her sometimes androgynous relationship with Cherie Curie.
After their Japanese tour, Curie lost it. Began heavily using, and according to the movie, became a Prima donna. While I am a big Joan Jett fan, I don't claim to know shit about the Runaways. God I so wanted to hate this movie. I really really wanted to. But I couldn't. There's little harder to do in this world than admit you were wrong. Not knowing a lot about the group that made acts like P!NK, Kittie, L7 and Bikini Kill possible should make me a fucking historian. But sometimes the best thing isn't to know all the details, but to just appreciate the music and everything it's done.
This flick was interesting to watch. Gave some much needed background on a truly groundbreaking group. And to my shock and awe had some really tremendous acting from someone I didn't think deserved the part, simply cause I felt she was a "flash in the pan" type star. But I have to say, with all sincerity, that The Runaways was a great flick. And thus brings to mind a truly great moment involving, at the time, two of the top workers in wrestling, Triple H and Mick Foley. After Triple H and Stephanie McMahon got "married" they made Mick Foley's life a living hell, including firing him. Upon an announced locker room wide walkout staged by The Rock, Triple H and Steph were forced to reinstate Foley. The Rock also dictated that there would be a tag team main event featuring Degeneration X versus The Rock, The APA and Mick Foley. The end of the match saw The Rock and Farooq and Bradshaw take out The New Age Outlaws and X Pac. Leaving the champ, Triple H and Mick Foley alone, battling it out for bloody supremacy of the ring. In the end, Hunter delivered a "Pedigree" to Foley, putting him through the announce table. As Triple H walked up the ramp, Mick, who's Mankind mask was ripped off during the fight, was bloodied and staring wild eyed at the retreating champion. The moment came the next night, or "officially" on Thursday night Smackdown, when in the ring celebrating his utter defeat of Foley, Triple H declared victory in their war. But out came Mick, in his Mankind outfit from Monday, bloody shirt included. Mick said, after the beating he took a few days before, he wasn't ready to take on the young champion at that Sunday's Royal Rumble pay per view. As he began taking off his mash and tie, he stated, "I'm in no condition to fight you on Sunday..... (Triple H smiles) but I know someone who is.... and I think you know him real well." Tearing open his shirt, he reveals his famous, "Wanted: DEAD" Cactus Jack t-shirt. BANG BANG!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Wet Moon vol. 1-5; A Hardcore Review

I already reviewed volume on of Ross Campbell's Wet Moon series, but I'm gonna review all five volumes of it right here and now. For those of you who do not know, Wet Moon is THEE slice of life comic. And if you're not reading it you are either broke or a fucking idiot. Or maybe you just read super hero books. And if you're broke, go out and rob someone, but don't steal the book, cause Ross is a small press guy. He doesn't work with a contract, he hasn't sold the rights to his work for a movie or tv show. And if you just read super hero comics, put down a book you're unsatisfied with and pick this up. And if you're just a fucking idiot, sorry, but there's really nothing I can recommend to fix that. But maybe reading Wet Moon might help. IT SURE AS FUCK WON'T HURT! This series was recommended to my by my dealer, Charlie Harris, of Charlies Comics in Tucson, Arizona. And unlike a lot of comic shop owners, Charlie reads every new comic that comes into his shop. So he knows all the storylines, hot characters and even what's most appropriate for readers of any age, or pertaining to their tastes.
Wet Moon stars a plethora of amazing characters including Cleo, Trilby, Penny, Mara, Audrey, Fern and Maladay. It takes place in Wet Moon, Florida on the campus of a university. The story entails the lives of these characters and more, and their everyday lives, which rarely involve anything inside a classroom or doing any semblance of homework. Nope, it mostly involves relationships. And at the pinnacle of that, mostly lesbian relationships. I dunno, possible that Campbell has a fetish for the lesbians. Maybe he's trying to make a statement. Or maybe, much like fat man of slackerdom, Kevin Smith, Ross may have a family member that he's secretly outing by fervently referencing homosexuality. Maybe...
In light of all that, Wet Moon is fucking amazing. I keep telling people about it. And some people pull the whole, "I only read action comics." And maybe this will never get past the thick skull you got, but it doesn't mean I'm gonna stop trying. Fuck, I'll sing the praises of Wet Moon until Ross Campbell till I'm blue in the face and he sends me a half dozen restraining orders and some free art to shut me up cause, as he'll put it, "it's not helping."
This book has everything. But my favorite character is by far Trilby Bernarde. She's the balance to this whole thing. Cleo's usually down in the dumps about whether she should stay with Myrtle, who's actually a butcher knife wielding psychopath or hook up with one of her long time friends, whom she kissed while sharing a hotel room with Trilby and Glen when they went to a comic book convention where Trilby made Cleo cosplay as Lillith from Darkstalkers while she went as Felicia. My comic book crush Becky "Demo" Cloonan even has a cameo in volume 4.
And Ross, with respect to Justice League's Kevin Maguire, does the best facial expressions in the business. It is how I aim to focus my artwork. I am working on over exaggeration of my characters. Not just of their facial expressions, but of their posture, movement and bodies as a whole. It's one of the first things they teach you when you decide you want to be an animator. Just take a look at everything Pixar does, or Anime, it's all there. And if you're an aspiring comic book creator, who isn't bent on realism where a lot of this is lost, study Ross Campbell and Kevin Maguire.
Campbell has done other works, including Water Baby from the Minx imprint from DC a few years back and Shadoweyes from Slave Labor Graphics. But I gotta think that Wet Moon is Ross' baby. I carted my copy of volume three to Comic Con International this past summer to have Ross sign it, and got to talk to him a little bit about things. He told me that he is shooting for ten volumes of Wet Moon. So we have a few years yet of the daily ins and outs of these amazing characters.
There are some great storylines going on in the pages of Wet Moon. Including Myrtle's homicidal tendencies and who she'll go after next; the mystery of the "Cleo Eats It" signs posted around campus; the Worm Lizards' season, who is "Unknown?", Fern and her obsession with Penny Lovedrop; Penny's bastard pregnancy; Cleo and who is she gonna choose; Maladay's obsession with collecting and then showing Cleo all of the signs posted around campus; and many many more.
Wet Moon would make an awesome live action television show, or a phenomenal animated series. Each volume could be collected in a season.
Wet Moon is the best thing to happen to graphic novels in recent memory. As painful as it is waiting for the next volume to be finished, I think it's better than getting one issue and then having to wait a month or more for my next bump. I don't think that some people realize how addicting comics are to some people. When I pick up Wet Moon I could easily jam through the whole thing in one sitting, but that might cheapen the experience. "She is like a fine aged whore, who laughs at you when you take your clothes off. But you keep going back, because she is the only prostitute you can afford."
Wet Moon is one of the top reads every time it comes out. I am super glad I got past the idea of only reading so called "super hero" books. Cause honestly, lately there's been not a whole lot of super going on in my opinion. And far too many titles that don't belong on a shelf taking up space when something like Wet Moon is usually, if carried by said shop, put on a trade paperback shelf where it is much harder to locate. But go to your local shop and ask them for it. And if they no have it, knock all the "big two" off the new comic rack and start singing Green Day's "Basket Case" at the top of your lungs while running out the door.
You want a grade for this? You seriously want a grade for this book? Well, I just quit smoking, and I'm no where close to alcohol of any kind so here you fucking go. Mother's Day 2000. Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Rave. Extreme Championship Wrestling's pay per view called Hardcore Heaven. The match, almost six months in the making. Yoshihiro Tajiri, "The Japanese Buzzsaw." The man you better not be a midget around, cause he'll kick your fucking head off Tajiri. Yeah, that Tajiri. And his opponent, "The King of Old School" Steve Corino. Corino was pissed cause Tajiri had won the vacated World Television Title. And afterward, he was forced to hand the belt over to "the Network's" chosen successor, Rhino. And when "the Network" screwed Tajiri, he got pissed, and started kicking everything in his path. And that included the bleached blond heel, Corino. This culminated in a battle that included a "four alarm" blade job by Corino that stained his nearly white locks crimson. It was fucking amazing. The only gripe I have about this match is the finish. Which somehow got edited from the table being set up to the pinfall under the busted remnants of said table. Happy Mother's Day Ma'!