Commitment is hard. You go to the store, you see a book that looks interesting and then you find out that it’s part of a series – Book One of God knows how many!?! Best case scenario, you get to spend a good long time with characters that you love. Worst case, you’ve wasted countless hours and at least $30 bucks on a series that’s competing for 1st place in the dumb and dumber book series hall of fame.
As you look the cover over, the questions begin to flow. Is the series finished? How many books are there to go and is the author in good health (Insert George R. R. Martin side-eye here). Slowly, you give the cashier your money, all the while praying to the literary gods for good fortune.
We’re here this month to lift you out of commitment limbo with a selection of books, movies, and comic book series that are worth the read, worth the wait, and worth being brought into even bigger mediums. We’ve done all the vetting, now all you need to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy!
All Indie. All Awesome.
Now, unfortunately, it’s somewhat unlikely that a real film version of L’Incal will ever be made. Arguably the greatest contribution made by the mad magnificent visionary Alejandro Jodorowsky to the graphic novel medium, L’Incal was the original French sci-fi epic which kicked off the sequel series and Jodorowsky’s other most memorable offshoots, including Metabarons, The Technopriests, and Megalex. While all of these graphic novel series have been lauded, it’s the original L’Incal, with art by the legendary Jean Giraud (a/k/a Moebius), which spread Jodorowsky’s feverishly elaborate, ultra-violent, revolutionary and, somehow, playfully puerile creative sensibilities to a worldwide audience. The story of hapless detective John DiFool and his cement seagull Deepo travels through every corner of a perverse, expansive future of violent techno-cultists, degenerate rebels, and cruel despots scrambling to suppress a revolution.
While director Nicolas Winding Refn (2016’s The Neon Demon) had apparently been in talks to direct an eventual film adaptation, these plans were dissolved. For the time being, we have Canadian animation director Pascal Blais’s updated trailer, a magnificent proof-of-concept for an animated film which, while it will arguably never be fully realized, will at least launch a few onlookers into a stampede to discover this vaunted treasure of European sci-fi.
The early 2000s saw some of the most work released by prolific English comics writer Warren Ellis. For those who weren’t around during his late-90s/early-00s heyday, which brought such evergreen sci-fi comics as the dystopian (and eerily familiar in a modern political context) Transmetropolitan and the X-Files-meets-pulp-lit masterpiece Planetary, his name might yet be familiar—he’s the writer of Netflix’s recent video game animated adaptation, Castlevania (well worth watching, by the way).
Now then, at roughly the peak of those aforementioned comics, Ellis’ mini-series Global Frequency was optioned as a television series prepared by Mark Burnett. The original series was interesting in concept, functioning as twelve standalone stories all revolving around an independent and covert organization of 1,001 people scattered around the globe. When international problems (ranging from paranormal events or complicated terrorist attacks) arise, the members of the Global Frequency and their singular skills are tapped and wrangled together by an agent known as Miranda Zero.
While the pilot was never picked up, it leaked onto the internet where it has persistently lived ever since, originally distributed via file-sharing websites and now maintaining a steadfast presence on sites like YouTube. You can watch the entire pilot right here and wonder what might have been, and the Global Frequency comic series itself is fully collected in a trade paperback by Vertigo.
Robopocalypse author Daniel H. Wilson and Italian filmmaker Giacomo Cimini began a conversation online in 2009 that would result in a fascinating film eight years later. While it would be a few years before Wilson’s book would be published (and become a NYT Bestseller), the two creators began a friendship which led Cimini to adapt Wilson’s short story “The Nostalgist” into a powerful, beautifully designed short film.
Eventually utilizing Kickstarter to complete production, Cimini’s film successfully surpassed its goal of £30,000, and came out last year to critical acclaim. As for Wilson, he’s gone on to great success, and his novel Robopocalypse was picked up by Dreamworks for a big-budget production that is yet to be announced for release (it’s apparently still in production, just delayed).
Meanwhile, we have the gorgeous and sublime The Nostalgist, a visionary sci-fi parable about fatherhood, VR/AR technology, and its potentially disastrous shortcomings. Somewhat reminiscent of films like The Thirteenth Floor and AI: Artificial Intelligence, the short yet retains its own inspired, captivating qualities, telling a fraught emotional story with an impressive and varied sense of design.
by writer/illustrator Trudy Cooper and co-writer Danny Murphy.
Oglaf is a web series. IT IS NOT SUITABLE FOR WORK, CHILDREN, OR THE DELICATE OF WHEE. The series is as x-rated as Charles Xavier watching Skinemax. The writing and art are, however, often howlingly funny and deadly on-point with their social satire.
Ostensibly, it’s the story of perpetually-in-trouble sorcerer’s apprentice Ivan, but the strip is really a loose association of a truckload of wacky characters (from an oversexed trickster healer to a ghostly lizard of guilt), subverted fantasy tropes (the strip about beefy warriors fighting in high heels is worth the price of admission itself), and in-your-face explorations (often literally) of sexual mores and gender roles.
It’s been collected into 2 volumes, and is well worth adding to your permanent collection. Yes, it will shock you; yes, it may offend certain parts of you that maybe could do with a bit of offense; yes, it will make you horny for morphing ice princess beasts…but if what you’re reading isn’t hitting on at least one of those, what are you reading for?
Milton Davis is no stranger to Narazu’s lists, and if you haven’t jumped headlong into the adventures of Changa and his crew in 15th century Africa, you’re missing out on characters and settings that would make Conan shout “Crom!” while running to catch up!
It starts with the 3 volumes of Changa’s far-ranging safari, and ends with Changa returning to his homeland in Son of Mfumu. Bonus: recently a prequel was released. Before The Safari was added to the collection, detailing how Changa and his trusted crew came to be.
I started the LaShaun Rousselle mysteries about 3 years ago, starting with A Darker Shade of Midnight, then plowed through the other 3 books in the series (Between Dusk and Dawn, Only By Moonlight, and Into The Mist) as soon as they came out. The series follows LaShaun Rousselle, a young woman who returns home to Beau Chene, Louisiana to care for her ailing grandmother and face a less than perfect past. But what starts out as a story of personal redemption quickly turns into a paranormal murder mystery that forces LaShaun to embrace the legacy of power within her in order to stand against an evil that wants to control her and destroy the lives of those she loves most. The books are beautifully written by an author who knows her craft, but that’s not what I love most about this series. Lynn Emery is a native of Lousiana and it shows. On every single page, you get a story that is rooted in the actual lore and history of the region, which is at least as fascinating as the perils faced by each of her characters. The depth of the setting in these stories makes each threat more real, more terrifying, and ultimately more satisfying. Lucky for you, the 5th book in the series, titled Third Sight, just came out!
Short notes: If you want a single book that reads like an entire series, here’s my shameless plug for my very own The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan, with book 2 of the Jetstream saga coming soon! REJOICE: Minister Faust has announced a 2018 release of Book 3 of his planet-hopping adventure series War & Mir.
Writer – Mark London
Artist – Alejandro Giraldo
Letterer – Andrew Zea
My elevator description for this book is Blade Runner meets the X-Files, a near future cybernetic crime drama with a weird edge. A dark and moody book, Detective Aiden McCormick must solve a horrendous murder in 2055 Detroit, while confronting his “inner demons.” The book is due out in summer of 2018, but I was able to get the first two issues from the Mad Cave crew at last year’s NYCC. Sign up for their newsletter to get an exact release date.
Writer/Creator – Alex Simmons
Artist – Various
Created by Alex Simmons and first published in 1996, this series is set in the early half of the 20th century and centers around Arron Day, an African-American soldier of fortune better known as Blackjack. He’s so badass that he’s had a crossover with Tarzan. With a rotating list of artists, BLACKJACK always has an artist who clearly has the chops needed to create dynamic art to go along with Simmons tight plot and rich narrative. BLACKJACK comes in several trades making it very easy for readers to jump in and get lost in this rich world of adventure.
Writer/Artist/Creator – Matt Wagner
Inker – Sam Kieth (chapters 6-15)
Color Artists – Jeromy Cox and James Rochelle
Cover Art – Matt Wagner and Sam Kieth
For a throwback suggestion to Hollywood, I choose Matt Wagner’s independent love letter to the craft of storytelling, MAGE. In the 80’s, plenty of folks told me I should read it, but between my staunch mainstream buying and the series being plagued with huge gaps between runs I passed. Since then Wagner has found a new home with Image to finish the last volume of this epic tale. MAGE is a mashup of superheroics and fantasy, as we follow man off the street Kevin Matchstick as he gains powers, a magic baseball bat, and teams up with Mirth, a mysterious wizard, to fight evil monsters in 80’s New York. Be warned: the art and dialog is very early in his career, but this is still a fascinating read!
Writer – Brian Maruca
Artist – Jim Rugg
With Black Dynamite off the air, AFRODISIAC would be a perfect replacement as a period comedy on Amazon or Hulu. I was able to snag a copy at this year’s Mocca Arts Festival. Filled with interconnecting short stories, this book captures the style of art prevalent in the 70’s with it’s four color process and panel layouts, adding a touch of humor to this book. All in all I’m glad I was able to get it.