This past Sunday after brunch, I was out looking at antiques with my girlfriend. It was a good day, the sun was shining and everyone was in a good mood, and surprisingly not too many people hung over from the numerous parties and firework displays from the night before (a same-sex marriage bill was passed last week Friday night in New York state and tons of “freedom of equality” celebrations had decorated the state Saturday night, which has been great for morale and American patriotism here. For readers worldwide, New York is only the 6th state in the Union to pass such a bill thus far, so it was a big deal.). As I was looking through tons of old books I found a little treasure: several issues in good condition of the Gold Key run of Woody Woodpecker. I of course immediately snatched these up (I just spoke of Woody Woodpecker’s creator Walter Lantz and his creation Space Mouse a few weeks ago in this column). The comics are timeless and great as I read them, and I kept thinking, “What would be the next Woody Woodpecker or Mickey Mouse for all-ages comics? What would be that next big thing?” There is some great stuff on the horizon here for all-ages books, and that’s why you’re reading From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays.
Many faithful readers of this column have sent me e-mails asking if I dislike the new Godzilla comic by IDW, since I am always writing about giant monsters and end with a giant monster-related picture, but have never reviewed the new comics in my column. To let you readers know, I do like the comics very much indeed, they’re fantastic, there just hasn’t been too much room to cram another comic in here when they’ve come up, and it’s been ill timing. However, this past week here on the site, I reviewed the first issue of IDW’s new Godzilla mini-series Godzilla: Gangsters and Goliaths; click here to check out if I dug it or not.
What is Snarked!? It is the latest creation from Roger Langridge, who did an amazing job on The Muppet Show comics and Thor: The Mighty Avenger. To get this out of the way first, Snarked! is a fantastic book full of imagination and laughs.
So why haven’t we heard too much about it? My only guess is if you know nothing of the book, you have to be an Alice in Wonderland fan to realize what it is. For example, while reviewing comics the other night, my girlfriend glanced over my computer screen and spoke, “Is that the walrus from Alice in Wonderland?” “Yes it is!“, I replied, knowing why I date her now. However, when I showed a picture to my little cousin, the response was, “Is that cave man a mechanic?” “No, he’s a gardener,” I replied, “Haven’t you ever watched Alice in Wonderland?” She glanced back, “No.“
Now this comic is great and I have no doubt once it hits stands it’ll take off, because here’s the big secret Langridge has done with this book: you don’t need to know a damn thing about Wonderland to enjoy it. Of course, all the references are there and any fan of the series will see them all, the parallels and laughs, but if you’re like my little cousin who doesn’t know anything about it, it doesn’t matter, the world slowly unfolds on its own and is enjoyable. Now, this of course is all based off the Snarked! #0 issue that hits stands in a few weeks, all for one dollar only. We get a hysterical little intro story with our characters, some sketches, and the original literary poems these characters are being pulled from to bring it full circle for you as a reader: all good stuff in these pages for a buck.
Snarked! #0 is going to make you wish October was already here so we could read the series. For a dollar take the gamble and fall in love with this title.
Some people “don’t get” Mini-Hulks. I will make the bold statement and let you know these are the types of people who are killing comics and don’t remember what it was like to be a kid. There is nothing to get about Mini-Hulks except that it’s mindless fun and a nice colorful break, that’s all ages friendly, from the heavy melodramatics that dominates the story lines of major comic publishers, like Marvel. Mini-Hulks was created by Audrey Loeb as a series of backups. The plot to these one-page wonders features Green Hulk, Red Hulk, and Blue Hulk in the mini-Marvelverse in a series of gags that end in chuckles and snickers. Hulk-Sized Mini-Hulks is a one-shot now on stands that collects all together those that have been put out thus far.
My verdict is I love it. It’s not campy and it’s not like Marvel’s Super Hero Squad where it’s middle of the road and can’t decide what to be. If you like comic strips or one-page funnies, this is for you. If you like that wave of adorable hipster art that’s been going around, this is for you. If you like funny takes on the Marvel universe like Spider-Ham or What The?!, this is for you. For $3.99 you get them all in a one-shot. Cute. Hip. Laugh out loud funny. Hulk-Sized Mini-Hulks is a no brainer to buy this week.
This could be your kids next favorite thing, or honestly it could be your next favorite thing. Mameshiba are these little adorable looking bean-dogs. What do they do? They show up at the strangest times and usually give you an incredible odd Ripley’s Believe It Or Not-esque fact. This may not always sound like the next big thing, but when you mix their super-hip art look, comedic timing, and bizarre fact telling, the mix is that perfect moment we have been waiting for (in fact, in Japan last year among people under 40 years old, 70% recognized Mameshiba, a storm that hasn’t been seen since Pokemon).
Meet Mameshiba! is a book that introduces every single Mameshiba to you. From Red Bean to Black Soy Bean, from Natto to Jelly Beans, you learn the fun laugh out loud backgrounds about all the Mameshibas, all as they tell you great facts like, “Did you know some fish communicate through farting?” The odd mix of facts and humor make this book great for all ages. Give it to your kids or keep it on your coffee table to amuse company when they come over. It’s a priceless little piece. Between there are also a few little one-page comics by Gemma Correll, which are hysterical.
Meet Mameshiba! is out now; pick it up for great laughs.
Recently on the web came GooHead.com, an excellent site that I’ve fallen in love with that streams Asian movies like the Gamera series and Asian TV shows like Red Baron, and more, for free and your viewing pleasure. A great hidden gem of yesteryear television lies here for you to watch all 26 episodes streaming, and it is called Fight! Dragon. Fight! Dragon tells the story of Dragon, a man who is caught up in his one man battle to fight the evil organization Shadow, which is killing people for money across the globe. Fight! Dragon is unique in that it uses the villain of the week formula like Ultra Man, Kikaida, or the likes of other Japanese action/fantasy shows at the time, but what makes it stand out is its all real world based like any martial arts film. The action scenes are great, and the writing is always entertaining. The lead Dragon is played by Yasuaki Kurata (who ironically would make most of his career not playing the lead hero like he does in this, but by many a villain). The theme song is also catchy (for these 70s shows I’m a firm believer in the theme song being important, and they don’t let you down here), and as a bonus you get to see Bolo Yueng in the first two episodes, which is a treat if you’re a fan of Hong Kong kung fu flicks. Fight! Dragon is worth the watch, so click here to check it out!
That’s it for this week, see you next, and remember, Mecha-Godzilla loves you!
A copy of Meet Mameshiba was provided by Viz Media.