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Hey kids,

So I bought and read the latest issue of AMELIA COLE AND THE UNKNOWN WORLD today, a comic I have recommended before, and found an awesome little Easter Egg at the bottom of page 16.

Yep, Officer Freeman is pickin’ up cold, refreshing six-pack of Patrick’s Punch-Up Brew! LOL!

Issue number four  of AMELIA COLE is out now and is written by Eisner and Harvey award winners Adam P. Knave & D.J. Kirkbride, drawn by Nick Brokenshire, and lettered by Rachel Deering. And, as if you needed another reason to be reading this book, all November proceeds of AMELIA COLE — and other MonkeyBrain titles — are being donated to the Hero Initiative! So read some awesome comics and help out a worthy cause!

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Hey kids,

So I don’t usually like to tell you guys what to do with your money. It’s your money. Who the hell am I to tell you how to spend it? If I come across something cool – an awesome new Kickstarter campaign or a particularly cool book or piece of art that a friend of mine made – I might point it out to you, just so you know it exists and let you make your own purchasing decisions. Hell, a couple of weeks ago, when an anthology came out with one of my stories in it, I was even like “Hey, this exists. You can buy it. If you want. Or not. Whatever. I’m not gonna force you.”

But this? This is something different.

Earlier this week, we saw the launch of MonkeyBrain Comics; a creator-owned digital comics line, founded by Chris Roberson and Allison Baker, and distributed through Comixology. Five books were announced and released, with more titles to be revealed next week at the San Diego Comic Con. While each of those books are amazing in their own way, I’m only want to talk about one of them.

Meet Amelia Cole.

“Amelia Cole lives in two worlds — literally. One runs on magic, the other built on technology. When the barriers between those worlds start to break down, Amelia and her aunt Dani must take extreme action. It’s the start of whole new world in adventure, magic, and excitement as Amelia Cole steps forward to do what she knows it right, even when the consequences might be wrong.”

Amelia Cole and the Unknown World is one of those rare and special gems of comicdom.

The first issue hits the ground running, tossing you right into the action, and manages to stay quick-paced and action-packed, interesting and suspenseful, and – most importantly, I think – fun to the end. Like the titular character, you’re never really sure what’s going on or what could possibly come next and, by the time you get to the end, you’re practically begging for that second issue, because the first so beautiful sets up a world where anything can happen that you just can’t wait until everything does.

Here’s where I’m going to stop talking about plot, because I don’t want to spoil a single panel for you – just know that the story is magical in every sense of the word – and instead talk about character.

Amelia Cole is not a “strong female character.” She is a strong character. Period. Her gender has little [re: nothing] to do with what the book is about or anything that happens within it. She is smart and capable, with an inner strength that she herself may not be fully aware of.

But she is not without her flaws. She can be rash and headstrong, reacting without thinking about the consequences of her actions. She makes mistakes. Which land her in some sticky situations. Yet, as strong as she is, she still has moments of doubt, there are cracks in her self-confidence.

Amelia Cole is an attractive young woman, but not “sexy” by the standard “cheesecake” views of women in pop culture. She’s not a waif. She’s also not super buff, either. She doesn’t have six-pack abs, “legs that go all the way up,” a non-existent waist, or breasts that double as floatation devices. She has weight. She has hips. She has a backbone – both figuratively and literally – that conforms to the physics of how the human body can and should move.

She also wears these odd things seldom seen in mainstream comic books: clothes. Like real clothes. That a person would wear. Amelia dresses in jeans, a tank top, a slightly over-sized flannel shirt, and – gasp! – comfortable shoes. This is a girl who knows the value having to move and run quickly. There’s no spandex or form-fitting leather and all of her clothes survive the issue without being torn up and/or off. “Scantily clad” is not a phrase that exists in this world. How original!

Amelia Cole feels like more than a three dimensional character. She is a thinking, feeling human being.

And then there’s the magic. Oh, the magic.

Wands. Energy blasts. Persuasion demons. Ancient runes. Portals. Magic doors. Alternative worlds. Other realms. Bouncy teleportation balls. (Omigod, if and when they start releasing Amelia Cole merchandise, you guys are all gonna want an official “Amelia Cole” Bouncy Teleportation Ball ™! I’m telling you. They’re fun.)

And that’s just in the first issue.

I think one of the best things about Amelia Cole and the Unknown World, though, is that it has a little something for everyone, appealing to a wide and diverse demographic, and it’s rated 12+ so just about anyone can read and enjoy it!

Do you like Harry Potter? Then you’d probably like Amelia Cole. Do you read comics like Phonogram, Runaways, The Immortal Iron Fist, Y: The Last Man, or Atomic Robo? Do you watch TV shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra? Do you enjoy the works of Miyazaki or even Joss Whedon? Then, your probably dig Amelia Cole, too.

Amelia Cole and the Unknown World is written by Adam P. Knave and D.J. Kirkbride, two award-winning writers who show their love of comics and story on every page; drawn by Nick Brokenshire, a master of illustration and color who breathes brilliant life into this magical new world; expertly lettered by Rachel Deering; and is available now on Comixology for only $1.99 for 28 pages. (You can can read an eight-page preview of the first issue here.)

With almost a third more content than your average mainstream book, and at half the cost, I urge you to take a chance, pick up the book, and get to know Amelia Cole and her unknown world with her.

You’ll be really glad you did.

Hey kids,

I’m pretty thrilled to announce the release of the first issue of Fireside Magazine, a quarterly literary magazine edited and published by my good friend Brian White.

This 81-page collection includes four shorts stories — Press Enter to Execute by Tobias Buckell, To the Moon by Ken Liu, Emerald Lakes by Chuck Wendig, and Temperance by Christie Yant — a twelve-page comic, Snow Ninjas of the Himalayas, written by my good friends D.J. Kirkbride and Adam P. Knave, penciled by one of my closest friends, Michael Lee Harris, and lettered by yours truly, and features illustrations by Amy Houser.

You can get the first issue for only $3.99 in a variety of DRM-free digital formats (Sorry. Print editions are not available.) or subscribe to Fireside and get four issues for only $8.00 a year!

This was a lot of fun to work on and I honestly can’t wait until issue two production starts.

Pick up your copy of Fireside Magazine today.

Last night, while I was chatting with my good friend, Adam P Knave, we got to talking about comics starring talking potatoes. (Don’t ask.)

Anyway. This morning, Adam asked for topics to blog about and I jokingly suggested talking potatoes. To which he responded with Talking Potato Comics.

So, this afternoon, I made this:

Shit. I used to make real comics…

Hey kids,

Earlier today I poked my nose into a conversation between my friends, Adam and Brian, who were joking about making a bitchy spinoff to Brian’s Fireside Magazine — which was recently fully funded on Kickstarter. Congrats, guys! — call Firesnide Magazine.

So, of course, I threw my hat into the ring and shouted “I WANT TO WRITE FOR THAT ONE!!!”

Brian joked about needing to see some sample reviews before I got the job, and I immediately sent him a link to some of the bitchy CD reviews I used to write for Tastes Like Chicken.

Needless to say, I got the imaginary position.

Feeling a bit nostalgic, I dug up my old TLC review files and, man, did I write some of the bitchiest CD reviews.

Here’s a few of my favorites:

MARCUS SATELLITE — A TRIBUTE TO U2
Want to hear some techno-loving douche-bag with a laptop ruin 14 of your most beloved U2 favorites? Then check out Marcus Satellite’s latest release.
RATING: ONE STAR


SMOKE OR FIRE — THIS SINKING SHIP

If you DON’T buy this album, then they WON’T make more. Only YOU can prevent “Smoke Or Fire.”
RATING: ONE STAR


SNATCHES OF PINK — LOVE IS DEAD

You know that feeling you got when you found out that your dad and his goofy friends were in some Rolling Stones-wannabe rock band — whose name giddily alludes to a woman’s vagina — that no one’s ever heard of, like, twenty-some years ago and they’ve decided, during one of their mid-life crises, to get the band back together and perform in front of all of your friends and then tried to sleep with your girlfriend afterward? Feel kinda skeasy and uncomfortable? Yeah, that’s kind of how I felt listening to this album.
RATING: ONE STAR


ALIENS — ALIENS

It’s true: aliens are among us. I know this because this album just probed me.
RATING: ONE STAR


LACONA – 35/ HALF OF 70 and PRESIDENT’S DAY

Before the release of their upcoming album, Pantomime, the Chicago-based Lacona decided to release two singles, each with it’s own complimentary b-side, that takes a flying leap away from the ordinary into the realms of uncertainty. With wildly unconventional instrumentals and lyrics that are, regrettably, lacking – for example: “you can swallow you pride but if you swallow your tongue, then you’ll choke” — Lacona is going to be either the band you tolerate or the band you hate.
RATING: TWO STARS

 

KIFF – YOU CAN’T KEEP IT DOWN
Story goes that Chris “Kiff” Gallagher left “an impressive career in business and politics” to… well… make this, I suppose. Don’t get me wrong – the guy has a decent amount of talent and drive – but I can’t see his music being listened to by anyone other that middle-aged mothers trying to connect with their teenage daughters or being played on a radio station that doesn’t have the words “sunny” or “lite rock” in their name.
RATING: THREE STARS

 

THE CHARIOT – THE FIANCEE
Six things I thought while listening to this album:
1) My dog pissed herself and hid behind the couch as soon as the first track started.
2) The lead vocalist sounds like the deranged love child of an angry, snarling bear and Cookie Monster. I have no idea what he’s saying. I’ll have to read the liner notes later.
3) Why do the lyrics have to be screamed at me? It feels like I’m being punished for receiving this album.
4) Christian metal? Really? Doesn’t that sort of defeat the purpose?
5) I’m almost tempted to give them one star because the cover originally made me think that this was going to be some shitty indie rock album.
6) I pretty much hate this.
RATING: ZERO STARS

 

THE EXIES – A MODERN WAY OF LIVING WITH THE TRUTH
The Exies are back with their fourth attempt to try and revive the post-grunge era. The only problem with this is that no one else really wants 1994 back. It is worth mentioning, however, that they also do an almost impressive job of completely ruining the revered Talking Heads’ classic “Once In A Lifetime.”
RATING: ONE STAR

 

BLAIR LOTT – ROOMS AND BOXES
Listening to Blair Lott makes me feel like I’m somewhere else completely. Unfortunately, that place is a dive bar at the airport. I know that sounds harsh. The guy has a decent voice and a capable backing band, but they just sort of sound like Phish with half of their instruments and none of the pot.
RATING: TWO STARS

FICKLE – THE NATURAL ORDER OF THINGS
You know that feeling you get when you think you’re going to throw up but then don’t? Your stomach gets kind of queasy, then your throat gets red hot, followed by a feeling that something is coming up, so you quickly close and cover you mouth, only to have nothing happen but a hot, bitterness enter and, as much as you try, you just can’t get rid of the taste. That’s kind of the feeling I had after listening to Fickle, except it was in my ears.
RATING: ONE STAR

VERONA GROVE – EP
Remember the days when punk was defined by the Ramones, The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The Buzzcocks, The Germs, and The Stooges? What happened to the days when punk had balls and not a myspace account?
RATING: ONE STAR

AJ ROSALES – ULTRAMARINE
wa·tered-down [waw-terd-doun, wot-erd-] –adjective
made weaker or less effective from or as from dilution with water: a watered-down cocktail; Spectators saw a watered-down version of the famous opera; AJ Rosales latest album.
RATING: TWO STARS

NO HOLLYWOOD ENDING – EVERYBODY’S TALKING
No Hollywood Ending’s sophomore effort, Everybody’s Talking, aptly named because “everyone’s talking everywhere at all times” (a direct quote on the origins of the album’s title from the press release), is “the highly anticipated new full length album, three years in the making.” Personally, it takes me way less time to take that huge of a shit. (Maybe the guys in No Hollywood Ending might require a tad more fiber in their diets.)
RATING: ONE STAR


MAYDAY PARADE

As is turns out, listening to Mayday Parade is just about as fun as watching a real parade… only without the marching bands, the colorful floats, the giant balloons and the midgets tossing candy to kids. So that would make it as fun as, what? Watching rush hour traffic?
RATING: TWO STARS


SCENES FROM A MOVIE – THE PULSE

They should be called Scenes From A Really Bad Movie.
RATING: ONE STAR

 

FOUR YEAR STRONG – RISE OR DIE TRYING
Wayne, I fucking hate you for making me listen to this shit.
RATING: ZERO STARS