ROGUE ELEMENT 101

Rogue Element #101: Na Na Na Na Na Na, They Say It’s Your Birthday!


By Avril Brown

Thirty. The big 3-0. The death of the roaring ‘20s. Officially old. Untrustworthy. Time to grow up. There are a lot of different titles for the milestone that is turning thirty, most of them unsubtly hinting at the stigmas that come with reaching three decades of living. Quite frankly only a couple years ago I was terrified of crossing that threshold into my thirties, utterly convinced it would mean the end of an era, the demise of my youth, the beginning of the end of the rest of my life. (I am aware of how dramatic that sounds, but forgive me, I was only the wee age of twenty-eight when I had these overwhelmingly farcical feelings.)

Flash forward to now, my thirtieth birthday, and I am actually comfortable with traveling into my thirties. Aside from the basic, hard truth that there is no stopping the aging process and thirty was going to arrive whether or not I pouted like a petulant pre-pubescent, my life is pretty freaking sweet right now, a fact which siphons off the sting of no longer being a twenty-something. Exploring the main reasons why most people have issues with turning thirty, I have found my answers to be more than satisfactory, thus ushering me into a new age bracket with a smile rather than a grimace:

1) I’m no longer young. Maybe I’m not twenty-one young anymore, but thirty is still young. I blame Hollywood’s obsession with the latest smoking hot jailbait in making the rest of the populace feel like thirty plus is an automatic entry into the AARP. There are a lot of good years still left in this thirty year old sack of flesh, which lately I have gotten into decent shape. I’ve always been blessed with a fair figure (again, shout out to my folks for the good genes, particularly my mother’s metabolism), and dating a personal trainer the last year and a half has certainly changed my previous perspective on working out. Yes, I do need to fight the battle of the belly bulge on a more rigorous and continuous basis than I did ten years ago (I’ll be getting back to the front lines after I have my birthday cake and eat it, too), but having Forteza at my fingertips and biking my ass off has given me more strength and better stamina than I had in high school.

2) I’m unmarried with no children. I’m REALLY ok with this one. Then again, I never wanted to have a partner and 2.3 squirts running around by the time I was thirty. My mother had my sister and me in her mid-thirties, and to me that always sounded like a fine age to begin the breeding process. Would I be this content and relaxed if I turned thirty single and sans family and friends? Probably not, but in this I am very fortunate. I’m crazy in love with a super sexy geek beast who is totally my kind of weird, and we’re heading full steam ahead towards our own version of happily ever after. I have a large, loving and healthy family (knock on wood) that is growing every year. I have a kick ass circle of friends who are ten different kinds of crazy fun. I love profusely, and I am loved in return. If that’s not a reason to break out the champagne no matter how many candles are on the cake, then I don’t know what is.

3) I don’t know where my life is going, I have regrets and there are things I haven’t done yet. A) Who does? Who doesn’t? and C) No shit, but there is still time to do them. Figuring out what I’m doing and where my career is heading has been a constant struggle, but I’m keeping my head above water and haven’t given up hope of getting back on the boat and finding my horizon. Sure, I have regrets, just like everyone else, but thankfully my major misgivings are few and far between. Despite the beliefs of many an individual, I still don’t regret any of my tattoos, not even the huge, colorful comic book characters, and I doubt I ever will. There are plenty of things I haven’t done yet that I wish to, like visit Australia and swim with the sharks, but I’m thirty, not ninety; I still have plenty of time. Hell, if I’m half as cool as my grandmas and Betty White, even approaching my centennial won’t stop me from jumping in a tank and tossing a Great White a hunk of meat.

Turning older is not about losing ones youth, it is about evolution. I haven’t lost who I was fifteen years ago; I have changed, that is for damn certain, but change is vital for survival. I still love my X-Men comics, but I have opened my senses and tastes to include different genres, writing styles and artwork. I am not the same girl who picked up my first comic in a Walgreens shop in the late ‘90s, but I am definitely still a fangirl. My confidence has soared, bringing me and my comic collection out of the closet and onto the Convention floor, with or without all of my clothes. Though a blush may have graced my cheeks and I had to muffle my squee, I still walked up to James Marsters in New York City wearing nothing but white straps and an orange wig and I flirted. I probably wouldn’t have gotten by without a little help from my new friend Jen I was with at the time who worked briefly with James, but regardless, I did it with a straight back (proper posture helps the girls look good) and solid eye contact (he does have some pretty baby blues, not to mention I caught the up-down look he gave me).

With age comes experience, fortitude and comprehension. Growing older also means making multiple mistakes, suffering humiliation and feeling as if you have forgotten everything you used to know, but hey, that’s life, regardless of how many years have accumulated. The downs have always come with the ups, and that is as unavoidable as aging.

So chin up, take a deep breath and go out and enjoy your existence, no matter the mileage. A very Happy Birthday to all, and to all a good life!

NEW GRAPHIC NOVELS

NEW GRAPHIC NOVELS
Written and Drawn by Various
Published by Various


Reviewed by Marc Mason

Three new extremely high profile releases, two of which are still a couple of months away from hitting shelves…

It’s been two years since writer/artist Charles Burns delivered the first piece of his new graphic novel series X’ED OUT. I’d been wondering when we would finally get a follow-up, and the answer is this October in the form of THE HIVE (Pantheon. What’s it about? Well… that’s going to vary according to personal opinion. What I can tell you is this: THE HIVE is a tour-de-force of psychedelic storytelling, an astonishing piece of graphic literature that combines strange characters, even stranger situations and locales, and multi-leveled narratives in a way you have never seen before on the page. Burns’ work is utterly unique, and he has no fear about experimenting and trying to engage the reader in new ways. Perhaps his greatest gift is finding a way to make you find empathy for people and things that you would normally find off-putting or disgusting. Burns is one of the few talents who stands above the medium, and deservedly so. Easily one of the finest works you’ll see this year.

Comics’ classic cartooning couple, Aline and Robert Crumb, now have an omnibus-style book of their work with the publication this October of DRAWN TOGETHER (W.W. Norton). DRAWN TOGETHER features material pulled together from forty years of the duo’s partnership, and it offers plenty of insight into how they work, live, and eventually raise a daughter together. It isn’t always for the squeamish; there’s a level of brutal honesty on an emotional and sexual level that some readers will not be comfortable with. But it does make for an interesting archaeological document in how it takes you through different styles and eras and illuminates the alt-comix movement. Married couples in comics have come a long way; now it’s fairly common. But back in 1972 it was a big deal, and DRAWN TOGETHER will show you why.

Jessica Abel and Matt Madden offer up the second in their comics how-to series with MASTERING COMICS (First Second). Following DRAWING WORDS AND WRITING PICTURES, this “Comics 201” textbook takes you to a more advanced level, covering topics like narrative tools, making minicomics, lettering, and self-publishing. As with the first book, every chapter here is incredibly thorough; heavy with detail, and loaded with exercises for the student to tackle. If you’re new to the comics field, you’ll learn something here. If you’re a veteran in the field- you’ll learn something here. If you want to learn to color and don’t realize there are multiple ways and techniques to do it, you need this book. If you want to learn the difference between making webcomics and comics for print, you need this book. An absolutely indispensible book for learning the craft.



NEW ARCHAIA

NEW ARCHAIA
Written and Drawn by Various
Published by Archaia


Reviewed by Marc Mason

Two new hardcovers from the folks at Archaia…

Looking for a book to give an all-ages reader? THE DARE DETECTIVES would fit the bill nicely. Writer/artist Ben Caldwell collects the complete “Snow-Pea Plot” story under one cover in this one, and it’s a hoot and a half. The Dare Detectives are former crook Maria (who has more guts than good sense), lunkhead Toby (always good in a fight) and JoJo (a surly rabbit). Not possessed of anything resembling luck, they lose their license just in time for their landlord to be kidnapped… but who needs a license anyway? Fist fights, car chases, evil pandas, man (and rabbit) eating abominable snowmen, and massive property destruction follow. Caldwell has a pleasing sense of style and a gift for humor, and the book is completely accessible for anyone that picks it up. That’s anyone, by the way; not just a book for all ages, but also for both genders, he doesn’t lock anybody out of the fun.

Knowing absolutely nothing in advance about writer Patrick Marty and artist Chongrui Nie’s work, I was caught completely off-guard by JUDGE BAO & THE JADE PHOENIX. Diving deep into the legendary Chinese man of justice, this gorgeous graphic novel finds the man and his entourage alighting in a city full of corruption. The poor languish in prison on trumped-up false charges, murders occur in service to enriching the already rich… but the land’s fairest jurist is on the case. The story itself is well executed, but the star here is Nie’s work, which is jaw-dropping in its beauty. The photorealistic characters, the astonishing detail, the texture that leaps from the page… the book is a visual feast. I found myself stopping often, just to look at how Nie had created depth and realism in his images. Definitely one that those with sophisticated tastes will enjoy.


NEW IMAGES

NEW IMAGES
Written and Drawn by Various
Published by Image Comics


Reviewed by Marc Mason

Two newbies from NorCal…

As far as high concepts go, GRIM LEAPER #1 has a doozy. Lou Collins is a dead man- but that doesn’t stop him from coming back time and time again, except when he does, it’s in the bodies of other people. He doesn’t know where their souls go, or why they’re people who live where he lived, or if he’s supposed to do something special. All he does know is that he’s on his thirteenth body with no end in sight when he meets a woman facing the exact same problem he is, and that it just might be love. GRIM LEAPER is written by Kurtis J. Wiebe, and this is the most alive and energetic work I’ve seen from him; there’s a charm and level of humor here that really draws you in as a reader, and Lou is a character you can understand and developing a rooting interest in with ease. The art by Aluisio C. Santos fits the story well, and he does a terrific job of detailing body language and emotion, as well as gore. This book just has a lot of promise, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out.

If you’re looking for something ambitious, CREATOR-OWNED HEROES #1 is right up your alley. What is it? Part comic, part magazine, really. The main aspect of COH is two outstanding creative teams putting out new, creator-owned material under one cover. Writer Steve Niles and artist Kevin Mellon offer up AMERICAN MUSCLE, a post-apocalyptic bit of fun with some awesome muscle cars in the spotlight of the deserted wasteland, while writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti team with artist Phil Noto on TRIGGERGIRL 6, an action piece. Both stories deliver the goods as far as fun and excitement go, oozing cool onto the pages with nary a corporate overseer in sight. But beyond that, you also get extra material in the back including an interview with Neil Gaiman, a focus on professional cosplay, essays from the creators, and more. For four bucks, you can’t beat the value. As the move away from signing over one’s intellectual property grows, I hope we see more like this one. I’m in for the long haul.