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Sep
26

Spinner Rack 3

Written by Seth Peagler

Spinner Rack 3
by: Seth Peagler
(Photos by Austin Caine)

Spinner RackIn the last month, I’ve learned yet again just how comics can unite our community. I know that sounds admittedly far fetched, but over Labor Day weekend I saw people of every age, race, orientation, and size all digging through boxes of sale comics at Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find. You could argue that the crowd was there just for the sale, but it was really something to see such a varied group of people enjoying comics.

The fact is that if you live in Charlotte (and if you’re reading this magazine, it’s probably safe to say that you do), you live in one of the country’s great comics communities. I feel like I’m entitled to say this not because I’ve been a manager at Heroes for over seven years, but because I’ve traveled to comic shops and conventions all over the country. But even if you’re unaware of how impressive Charlotte’s comics community is, you can appreciate the breadth of comics available just by walking into a comic store. October is a prime example of the industry’s variety, so if you do happen to wander into one of the local shops, here are just a few of the types of experiences you’ll be able to find on the shelves this month.

First up is Peanuts Every Sunday: 1952 - 1955. This first of a planned ten volumes from Fantagraphics collects the first four years of Charles Schultz’ inimitable Peanuts Sunday strips. Some of my first memories of reading are of opening up the Sunday paper to Peanuts. This is one of the universally nostalgic American strips, and if you didn’t grow up reading the tales of Charlie Brown and company, you have a lot of catching up to do. October’s Sundays collection provides a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a cornerstone of American comics (and art) history. And remember, this is Charlie Brown, so you can introduce your kids to these stories, get them away from everything technological, and enjoy a finely hewn slice of Americana alongside them.

Next up is something that’s a far cry from kid-friendly, but a book that will appeal to fans of Kung Fu films. Geof Darrow’s Shaolin Cowboy gets a brand new debut issue from Dark Horse, and it’s a welcome book for any fan of quality art. Like the title implies, there are all kinds of Eastern and Western archetypes on display in this book, but it’s all refracted through the lens of Darrow’s hyper-detailed graphic art. Like so many things in entertainment, it’s gratuitous in its violence, but its energy is contagious, and Darrow’s enthusiasm jumps off each page. Shaolin Cowboy offers a prime example of what happens when an artist is in a completely joyous place within his work.

From martial arts mayhem we turn to pulpy goodness, this month in the form of Black Beetle: Necrologue #1. Written and illustrated by Atlanta-based creator Francesco Francavilla, Black Beetle is an unabashed love letter to all things pulp. This means cool costumes, weird science villains, mob thugs, and monsters all pop up with regularity. What’s most interesting to me about Francavilla’s series is that it’s produced without a trace of irony. He loves these old adventurous genres, and has crafted something in the 2010s that looks like it could’ve easily been on the newsstands in the thirties or forties. It’s timeless in pure way, and an excellent book to jump into with ease.

Spinner RackThen there’s a new book called Pretty Deadly. This supernatural western comes from Image Comics and three versatile creators in writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, artist Emma Rios, and colorist Jordie Bellaire. We’re far enough along in society and comics to where I don’t feel the need to qualify these ladies as being “talented female creators.” Their respective catalogues speak volumes for themselves. I’m just looking forward to seeing how they take a story about the daughter of Death and twist the genres of supernatural stories and westerns into new shapes.

As with every month, October offers a new issue from a much heralded creator. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of Neil Gaiman’s high brow, syllabus-worthy Sandman, Vertigo Comics is presenting an all new mini series called Sandman: Overture. The series sees a new untold tale of the Dream King from Gaiman and an industry favorite artist in J.H. Williams III. It’s bound to attract the literary-minded and everyday comics fans alike - not that those have to be mutually exclusive groups.

Vertigo, along with just about every other major publisher, is choosing October to kick off several new series. You can find brand new horror and fantasy titles from Vertigo in the form of Coffin Hill #1, Hinterkind #1, and Witching Hour #1. IDW Publishing offers up a new comic based on the cult favorite animated series in Samurai Jack #1. DC brings Superman/Wonder Woman #1. Fanboy glee and rage might erupt at the thought of a series about the relationship between this new power couple, but whether you like it or not, it’s at least worth taking note of. And then there’s Image Comics’ other new pair of series, the Sci-Fi Rocket Girl #1, and the espionage thriller Velvet #1.

As you can see, there are a gamut of new comics that hit shelves every single week. If you’ve never read comics before, don’t assume that they’re just for kids or that every comic shop is like the stereotypical ones on The Big Bang Theory. Whether you’re in it just because you liked the film adaptations, or because you want a deep aesthetic experience, comics represent a wealth of options.

If you want to venture beyond the casual occasional reading and experience Charlotte’s comics community in full effect, I’d invite you to stop by Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find on Saturday, October 26th from 10am - 4pm for our Pop Swap. It’s the third year we’ve hosted this event, which is essentially a pop culture swap meet where everyday collectors of records, comics, toys, and more, can set up and sell their own items. There will also be local craftsmen on hand to sell their handmade wares. And since it’s so close to Halloween, kids and adults alike are encouraged to give their costumes a trial run. It’s one of my personal favorite comics events in Charlotte each year, and a great chance to hang out and celebrate comics and pop culture. More information is available at www.HeroesOnline.com, where you can also find out about all kinds of comics events at Heroes and throughout the state. You can also read more of my musings about comics there every week, and find regular updates for next summer’s Heroes Convention.

Seth Peagler   Seth Peagler

 

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