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News about comics and the comics industry.

Free Comic Book Day August 14 2021

Free Comic Book Day is Saturday, August 14, 2021 at ComicReaders Downtown and ComicReaders South in Regina. 10am to 6pm.

Each person can choose 2 free comics from the Free Comic Book Day comics selection. Additional Free Comic Book Day comics can be obtained for $1 each, with the proceeds of those sales going to a local charity. Our local charity this year is Creative Options Regina (COR).

Quantities are limited and include Free Comic Book Day comics from 2021 and 2020. Free Comic Book Day is an international celebration of comics and local comic stores. In the pre-Covid years, Free Comic Book Day was a major event for ComicReaders. We’d stack the tables deep with free comics, host local comic creators and artists, and even help the Regina Public Library host Free Comic Book Day. We didn’t know if Free Comic Book Day would happen in Regina this year so we admittedly ordered lighter than usual, won’t be playing host to talented locals, and didn’t coordinate with the local library branches. That said, we are pleased to welcome you to our stores and hope you enjoy what Free Comic Book Day has to offer. If we all do our part to keep everyone safe perhaps Free Comic Book Day in 2022 will be a major event once again.

Spiel des jahres 2021 nominations

The nominations for the prestigious Spiel des Jahres were announced earlier in May. The status of these games at ComicReaders is as of the writing of this article. You can contact us by phone, email, or Facebook to inquire about these games.

The Spiel des Jahres category is the category for family-friendly games.

Adventures of Robin Hood. This is not yet available at ComicReaders but we do have it on pre-order for its upcoming North American release. The current listed release date is the end of June 2021, but release dates are often in flux (especially during the pandemic). We are taking names for pre-orders. This is a cooperative campaign-style game that changes as you work through the story.

MicroMacro Crime City. This is not yet available at ComicReaders but we also have this one on pre-order for its North American release. This game comes with 16 cases for you to solve. You use a large map of the city to find clues. I do believe the cases come in sealed envelopes.

Zombie Teenz. This thematic sequel to Zombie Kidz has been in stock at ComicReaders when available from its distributor. Both Regina stores received a limited number again just last week.

The Kinderspiel category is for kid-friendly games.

Dragonimo. This is a very kid-friendly version of the award-winning Kingdomino board game. ComicReaders currently has both Dragonimo and Kingdomino in stock.

Storytailors (Fabelwelten). This is a storytelling game. This game doesn’t yet appear to have a North American distributor but we’ll keep our eyes open for it.

Mia London (Mia London and the Case of the 625 Scoundrels). This is a kid-friendly memory / investigation game. This one flew under the radar when released in 2020 but I know there is one copy at ComicReaders Downtown in Regina.

The Kennerspiel category recognizes excellence in expert / connoisseur board games. These are games with more complexity– what we might call “gamers’ games”.

Lost Ruins of Arnak. In 2020, I attended a virtual tradeshow hosted by one of our Canadian distributors and Lost Ruins of Arnak was one of the games demoed. I liked what I saw and recommended that we pre-order a few copies. ComicReaders keeps this in stock when available and I do believe it is at both Regina locations as of the writing of this article. This game can also be played solo.

Fantasy Realms. ComicReaders has been carrying this game since its 2017 release. Dana at the South store is a big fan of this game and it’s thanks to him that the stores carry it. Fantasy Realms’ first expansion was released earlier this year.

Paleo. I decided to stock this game in 2020 because it had a solo option and solo gaming was growing in popularity during the pandemic. The full game experience is a cooperative game with a campaign-style of play. I know there is one copy of Paleo at ComicReaders Downtown in Regina.

The Spiel des Jahres and Kennerspiel des Jahres winners will be announced in Berlin, Germany on July 19, 2021. The winner of the Kinderspiel des Jahres will be announced on June 14, 2021.

A Return to Physical Comics

I’ve been a comic book fan since I was a very young child. They have been such a mainstay in my life, that it’s hard to think of a life without them. Growing up, they were a refuge from bullies and a place to see characters that had become friends of a sort, offering comfort and escape from reality when I needed it. As I got older, they were a source of inspiration that I used in my own creative endeavors.

My wife says I got a lot of my morals from comic books, and I can’t disagree with her. When Spider-Man learned “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”, I took that phrase to heart. No, I’m not more special than anyone else, but I’ve always believed that if you have the opportunity and ability to help someone, you should do it.

My friends and family equate me with comic knowledge, and I wholeheartedly accept that assertion. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast last week, but I can tell you who the creative team on Superman #16 from 1986 was.

I read Marvel and DC equally over the years, with indies thrown in as time went on. From Secret Wars and Crisis on Infinite Earths, to Civil War and Flashpoint, I was there for every major event. Eventually, some things changed.

First off, I had a daughter. Wouldn’t change anything about having her, but the reality of a dual income household becoming a single income with an extra boarder, made our finances change. No longer was the disposable income there for buying lots of comics. Diapers aren’t cheap!

Second, DC Comics began ‘The New 52’. They restarted everything over again after Flashpoint. What came before was no more. This was a new DC Universe. I signed up for all 52 DC series in September 2011, cautious but excited to see what we as readers were in store for.

Within 3 months, I had cancelled nearly every DC comic from my pull list. These new books didn’t ring a bell for me. They weren’t the same characters I had known for years, and my interest went away quickly. When it came time to decide to cancel my pull list entirely, I was sad. This was the first time since the 1980s I would not be buying comics. My Marvel portion of the list had been going down as well; things just weren’t interesting me like they used to. I was sad, but when the pull list was closed, I was more disappointed than anything else. That’s when I realized that I was wanting quality over quantity.

A couple of years later, I did subscribe to Marvel Unlimited. It is six months behind on issue releases and there is no ownership, but it allowed me to keep up on Marvel on a budget. Marvel had a lot of things going on, but what got my interest was Jonathan Hickman and his work on the Avengers. I went back and read his Fantastic Four and other work. I was amazed at the world building and long game he played in all his work. He was writing the kind of comics I wanted to read.

Jonathan Hickman’s talent at world building and his interest in telling long stories within his series is likely one of the reasons why Marvel hired him to orchestrate a revival of the X-Men.

I heard in 2019 Hickman had taken on the X-Men, so my interest was piqued. I read the House of X / Powers of X lead-in series and couldn’t believe it… Hickman had found a way to completely reinvent the X-Men. He had done it with the Fantastic Four; he had done it with the Avengers. I should not have been surprised. His work blew me away. I needed to get back in the normal habit of reading his work. Thus, I started a pull list again for the first time in years. All of the X-titles are on it, and Chad & Comicreaders were great in getting me caught up on the back issues I was behind on.

X of Swords is an epic in 22 parts that runs through most of the X-Men comics.

I’m getting into X of Swords, the latest X-event, and am loving it. I’ve loved each of the series to date and the entire tapestry Hickman and Co. have made is fantastic. If Marvel simply put Hickman in charge of all of their publishing, I would be a happy camper.

I’m glad to be back reading physical comics and making that trek to the comic store several times a month. It’s a good time to be an X-Men fan, and I’m loving every minute of it. (Mike Hintze)

The Roots of Alien RPG

The artwork is what initially got me very excited for the Alien RPG.

The winners of the 2020 Ennie Awards were announced at GenCon Online this year and the gold winner for Best Game went to the Alien RPG by Free League Publishing and 20th Century Studios.

For me, Alien RPG was my most anticipated RPG release since Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition and I was not disappointed when I finally got my mitts on the massive core rulebook. At almost 400 pages, the hardcover core rulebook is packed with lore and gorgeous illustrations that invoke the feel of the best Alien films. It also presents a rule system that is quick to pick up, favours narrative play over number crunching, and is potentially and deliciously lethal.

Free League Publishing is a Swedish game studio that has built itself an impressive reputation for award-winning RPGs. Alien is just one of the latest, and interestingly, it and other RPGs from Free League that have won the hearts of fans and critics are all based on the core mechanics of their first major hit: Mutant Year Zero.

Mutant Year Zero core rules and several other books within the same RPG system are a part of my own RPG collection.

Mutant Year Zero was released in 2014, but its roots date back to 1984 with a system called Mutant. Published by Sweden’s Target Games, Mutant was set in a post-apocalyptic future where players could play as humans, mutants, and robots. That system evolved over the years, eventually morphing into The Mutant Chronicles. This was the early 2000s, I do believe. This was when I first became aware of the RPG, though I never played it. You might recall the 2009 movie The Mutant Chronicles starring Thomas Jane and Ron Perlman. Well, the roots of that movie stretch back to the original 1984 Mutant RPG.

Target Games had a video game division. When Target Games folded in 1999 that video game division was spun off into Paradox Entertainment, which continued to produce video games based on Target Games’ properties. Fast forward several years to when Free League Publishing started developing a prequel to Mutant under license from Paradox Entertainment. In Mutant Year Zero, mutants have been kept isolated from the outside world in Arks. Players are these mutants and as the story begins they learn of circumstances that will force them outside the Ark for the very first time. Mutant Year Zero then becomes about exploring the world outside the Ark, but also maintaining and improving the Ark, including its food and water sources, its defense, and its social structure.

Mutant Year Zero is a D6 system as are the RPGs that use the games’ core mechanics. You roll some D6 based on your skills and attributes, add some modifiers, and look for a single 6 to succeed. A failure is never just a “well, that didn’t work”. A fail always brings consequences that drive the story. There is also a cost to your character for this kind of failure. In Alien RPG it is stress. In Tales from the Loop it is an emotional, mental or physical condition. In Mutant Year Zero it is the chance to trigger your mutant characteristic, which can be helpful or a hindrance depending on the situation. The twist in Mutant Year Zero is that your mutation will eventually kill you. Player characters are literally killing themselves with every triggering of their mutant abilities. They are dying even as they try to make their Ark a better place.

Tales from the Loop and its sequel Things from the Flood use the Mutant Year Zero system. So, too, do Forbidden Lands and Alien. Each has its own twist on the core mechanics, as hinted at above. Each operates in a different genre: A 1980s that never was for Tales from the Loop; a 1990s that never was for Things from the Flood; a ruined fantasy realm in Forbidden Lands; and the universe of Alien as described by Ridley Scott, James Cameron, David Fincher, and numerous books and comics. Each favors collaborative storytelling and narrative play over dice chucking. Each has won accolades.

2020 Eisner Awards Winners

The 2020 Eisner Awards winners were announced at the end of July. I had missed the opportunity to post this when announced because I was still thinking about how to redesign ComicReaders’ Web site, but I knew it would be one of the first things I wanted to write about when the Web site had been re-designed.

What I personally enjoy about the Eisners is the variety of subject matter and the diversity of the creators represented in the nominees and winners. I also like that award-winning books come from a variety of publishers and, likewise, that award-winning creators create material for a wide variety of publishers. There is never one creator or one publisher that racks up all the awards. I think people who follow the Eisners already follow the comics industry more closely than a casual reader, but I like to think that the Eisner seal of approval exposes all readers to books, creators, and publishers with which they might not be overly familiar.

I know an Oscar-winning movie can enjoy a larger audience. I hope that is the same for Eisner winners.

The list of winners is below, with some personal comments from me where applicable.

Best Short Story
“Hot Comb,” by Ebony Flowers, in Hot Comb (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Single Issue/One-Shot
Our Favorite Thing Is My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, by Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics)

Best Continuing Series
Bitter Root, by David Walker, Chuck Brown, and Sanford Greene (Image)
I have to admit that Bitter Root has been on my “to read” list for many, many months. I am attracted to its art style. I’ll have to bump it up the list now that it has won this prestigious award.

Best Limited Series
Little Bird by Darcy Van Poelgeest and Ian Bertram (Image)
Gorgeous art really drives the story home.

Best New Series
Invisible Kingdom, by G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward (Berger Books/Dark Horse)
Dark Horse has had a rough couple of years with the loss of the Star Wars, Conan, Aliens, and Predator licenses, controversy around one of its leading editors, and now a slow start to releasing material during the pandemic. In light on those things it can sometimes be easy to forget what a creative force Dark Horse has been in the industry for 30+ years. Awards like this for creators is a good reminder that Dark Horse is a company that takes risks on new creators, takes the time curate a diverse line of comics across numerous genres, and is still a relevant and welcome publisher in the industry.

Best Publication for Early Readers
Comics: Easy as ABC, by Ivan Brunetti (TOON)

Best Publication for Kids
Guts, by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic Graphix)
Anything with the Telgemeier name on it is going to be a hit in schools, libaries, book stores and comic shops.

Best Publication for Teens
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (First Second/Macmillan)
Here is a read that has had great success at ComicReaders Downtown.

Best Humor Publication
The Way of the Househusband, vol. 1, by Kousuke Oono, translation by Sheldon Drzka (VIZ Media)
I stocked this manga because the description sounded like it could be a bizarre read. I did not realize at the time that it was a straight up comedy.

Best Anthology
Drawing Power: Women’s Stories of Sexual Violence, Harassment, and Survival, edited by Diane Noomin (Abrams)

Best Reality-Based Work
They Called Us Enemy, by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker (Top Shelf)

Best Graphic Album – New
Are You Listening? by Tillie Walden (First Second/Macmillan)
Here is another one that keeps finding new readers at ComicReaders Downtown.

Best Graphic Album – Reprint
LaGuardia, by Nnedi Okorafor and Tana Ford (Berger Books/Dark Horse)

Best Adaptation from Another Medium
Snow, Glass, Apples, by Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran (Dark Horse Books)
I have to be honest and say I missed ordering this one. I’ve had a few customers ask for it and I was quick to bring it in for them. Neil Gaiman still has a following.

Best U.S. Edition of International Material
The House, by Paco Roca, translation by Andrea Rosenberg (Fantagraphics)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Asia
Tie: Cats of the Louvre, by Taiyo Matsumoto, translation by Michael Arias (VIZ Media) and Witch Hat Atelier, by Kamome Shirahama, translation by Stephen Kohler (Kodansha)

Best Archival Collection/Project – Strips
Krazy Kat: The Complete Color Sundays, by George Herriman, edited by Alexander Braun (TASCHEN)

Best Archival Collection/Project – Comic Books
Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo: The Complete Grasscutter Artist Select, by Stan Sakai, edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)

Best Writer
Mariko Tamaki, Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass (DC); Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me (First Second/Macmillan); Archie (Archie)
I remember many years ago when Dana from ComicReaders South invited Mariko Tamaki to the store to promote and sign her graphic novel Skim. Dana was devastated by the low turnout. Now Mariko Tamaki is one of the biggest named in comics, but even then she was a talent.

Best Writer/Artist
Raina Telgemeier, Guts (Scholastic Graphix)

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team
Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me (First Second/Macmillan)

Best Painter/Digital Artist
Christian Ward, Invisible Kingdom (Berger Books/Dark Horse)

Best Cover Artist
Emma Rios, Pretty Deadly (Image)

Best Coloring
Dave Stewart, Black Hammer, B.P.R.D.: The Devil You Know, Hellboy and the BPRD (Dark Horse); Gideon Falls (Image); Silver Surfer Black, Spider-Man (Marvel)
I’m pretty sure Dave Stewart has won this award every year since he got into colouring comics. I’m not going to fact check that though.

Best Lettering
Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo (IDW)
A year or so ago I had a really good conversation with a customer about the art of hand lettering comics. I wish I had a transcript of that conversation. Also related to lettering— since I’ve been involved in some comic projects as a writer I’ve worked with letterers and I’ve learned a lot about the craft of lettering, including placement of dialogue to ensure the proper flow for the reader. Lettering is one of those things you won’t notice when it’s done correctly.

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism
Women Write About Comics, edited by Nola Pfau and Wendy Browne,

Best Academic/Scholarly Work
EC Comics: Race, Shock, and Social Protest, by Qiana Whitted (Rutgers University Press)

Best Publication Design
Making Comics, designed by Lynda Barry (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Digital Comic
Afterlift, by Chip Zdarsky and Jason Loo (comiXology Originals)

Best Webcomic
Fried Rice Comic, by Erica Eng