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Nexus Graphica
by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Nexus Graphica is a column about graphic novels and comics that grew out of discussions between Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams. They will alternate columns.  

| 2012-2013 Columns | 2010-2011 Columns | 2008-2009 Columns |
2011
Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
As promised last issue by Mark London Williams, Rick Klaw is presenting the finale of the fourth annual Nexus Graphica best graphic novels of the year. This year's selections offer the fewest crossovers of any of the previous lists with only one title making both top ten lists. Partially this occurs because the two of them are not always getting the same books for review and also a result of the natural deviations in personal taste. Whatever the reason, it results in a greater coverage for you, the reader.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
It's that time of year again, folks, which is to say, the part of the year where there's little time left on the calendar. That means -- well, it means that next time Mark London Williams and Rick Klaw do this, it'll be on cusp of all the Mayan tumult of 2012! But it also means that it's time for their annual "that was the year that was" best-of round-up. Mark's caveat, of course, is there's no pretense that these are, somehow, the objective "best" graphic novels of the year, to the exclusion of others. They are, simply, the things that Rick and Mark have read, and written about here, that affected them most deeply, or stayed with them in some way.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
After the surprisingly entertaining first Austin Comic Con, Rick Klaw eagerly looked forward to this event. He arrived roughly 30 minutes before the con started to a line of some 400 people waiting to enter. The hall itself was smaller than last year which was actually a good thing. Not as much open space and easier to look around.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Stan Lee has a new how-to book out, How to Write Comics, which makes more sense, really, than his earlier How to Draw Comics, though given the way he moves through the material and presents his ideas, he could get away with being a non-artist, since he acts almost more like a compiler, or editor. But what struck Mark London Williams were the sections he had on "continuity."

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
A unique melding of Frank Herbert's Dune, Jack Kirby's Fourth World, Michael Moorcock's The Dancers At The End of Time, A.E. Van Vogt's bizzaro, golden age space operas, and the Greek tragedies, The Saga of the Meta-barons (simply know as The Metabarons in the US) explores the multi-generational lineage of the universe's ultimate warriors. Originally introduced in May 1981 as a supporting player early on in Alexandro Jodorowsky and Moebius classic Incal series, the Metabaron played a prominent role throughout. Rick Klaw has a look at the first series of four graphic novels.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Mark London Williams has written about his life here as a middle-aged single dad. His readers's tolerance for the use of that "material" here is appreciated, by the way, but increasingly, he has become aware of how this affects his life as a comics-reader -- and an ostensible reviewer. So with DC working on new back stories now, he has been reading the new Animal Man, the Demon relaunch, the new Swamp Thing (his eldest became a huge fan after reading his collected Alan Moore editions) and the surprising Aquaman.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Due to an influx of graphic novels at the Nexus Graphica Texas offices, Rick Klaw is opting out of his usual monthly missives in favor of an entire column devoted to reviews. Next month, he plans to return with a more traditional piece. Well, unless something similar happens...

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
So here we have the rebooting of the DC universe, but Mark London Williams thinks we're going to tack against the grain of the comics press and not talk about that, or the new issue Justice League. Too much. He did not line up for the midnight madness events, though one wonders why, if the comics are available digitally, one would line up at all? Well, getting out has its own rewards, he supposes.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Rick Klaw's earliest comic book memory centers around an issue of Joe Kubert's Tarzan. His father, a Tarzan movie fan, probably picked it up and after looking through it gave it to his three-year-old son. While he wasn't quite reading yet, Kubert's powerful portrayal of the gorillas created a lasting impression. Shortly after, his younger sister destroyed the comic, ripping it to shreds. Apparently it scared her.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Since it's early August, Mark London Williams is back from his annual trek to Comic Con. He stayed for all four days this time (or at least parts of all four days) so took in more Con than usual. He went to see a crime writers panel one of the evenings which included renowned comics writer Mark Waid. When the panelists were asked who they were looking forward to seeing at the Con, Waid started to rave about the digital comics work of Parisian-based animator/artist Yves Bigerel and how it was changing his own thoughts about narrative form.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
In the 50s the duo of Charles and Ira Louvin were the hottest thing going. With their countrified brand of gospel music, the brothers sang of fire, brimstone, and Satan. One of their biggest hits, the 1952 "Broadminded," told us that the Bible taught that broadminded is really spelled S-I-N. They talk about how things must remain how they are. That drinking and dancing are wrong. All this brings to Rick Klaw's mind the reaction of many SF fans to graphic novels.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Mark London Williams is away so guest columnist Cullen Bunn stepped in to tell us that one of the perks of writing a comic book series like The Sixth Gun is that he gets to read (and re-read) a bunch of favorite Weird Western comics, short stories, and novels and watch (and re-watch) favorite Weird Western movies and TV shows. This, as they say in the biz (at least in his little corner of the biz) is research. Even when it's not research, it's inspiration. (One of the toughest battles any writer will face is convincing his or her loved ones that -- no, really -- watching that movie trilogy all afternoon is work!)

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Amongst the various releases during May's Free Comic Book Day festivities, Boom! Studios premiered the initial installment of Elric: The Balance Lost, the first non-Michael Moorcock crafted Elric comic story in 35 years. Acclaimed writer Chris Roberson and artist Francesco Biagini usher Elric through his latest graphic epoch. The White Wolf initially leaped into the four color pages with Marvel's Conan the Barbarian #14-15 (1972). Rick Klaw takes a look at the history of Michael Moorcock's work in comics.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
So who has time to read comics these days (are comics really a young man's game, as opposed to something for harried middle-aged dads?) or even see Thor (which apparently is not bad) or contemplate DC's latest "universal reboot" with summer's upcoming Flashpoint/Justice League twofer, which gives the new/same heroes new origins (presumably), retooled identities, etc? Mark London Williams had these questions swirling around his head, when it occurred to him that even in a time of (seemingly) no reading, he had actually read some comics after all.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
With summer rapidly approaching and a large selection of goodies arriving in the Texas Nexus Graphica offices, Rick Klaw decided to forgo his usual monthly missives in favor of a column devoted to a handful of recent reads (and views). Next month, he'll return with a more traditionally Nexus Graphica-style piece.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
As the comics cognescenti you are, you've already read about Action Comics 900, that double-zero'd milestone of Super-ness which has made the rounds of "mainstream" news because Supes his own self appears be renouncing "truth, justice, and the American way," in favor of a more global perspective. Mark London Williams has a look at the furor raised over this nisunderstanding.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
The Cartoon Art Museum revealed to Rick Klaw many delights, chief among them exhibits featuring the works of Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Berkley Breathed and a behind-the-scenes peek at the making of the legendary Looney Tunes.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Many of you are already familiar with Carla Speed McNeil's gender-fuzzing sf opus, Finder, as installments have appeared for years on the web, and in indie comics form, and Voice is set in that same world, the domed city of Anvard, where genders seemed to shift and blend faster than in The Left Hand of Darkness, among a greater array of clans duking it out for control than you see in Dune. Mark London Williams has a look.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Mark London Williams talked with Gary Phillips awhile back when his Bicycle Cop Dave first appeared on the web. But this being the ides of March and all, it's time to talk to him again about the current state of crime-in-comics, and noir in particular.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
In 1923 the visionary Nikola Tesla unveiled his greatest invention: Atomic Robo, a robot with automatic intelligence. Over the next eight decades, the metallic marvel along with his allies investigate and battled para- and extra-normal phenomenon. If this is news to you, then clearly you have yet to experience the fascinating creations of Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener. Rick Klaw has a look at this series that recalls the best of the 40s serials and 50s science fiction.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Perhaps we're not going to discuss "love" exactly -- more like its absence, and what happens in the negative space created by its void, or its loss. But we are discussing "one big book" this time -- and a slight variant in the usual columnar construction. Besides, how often do we get to reference the exact title of a Patty Griffin song? One ably covered by Emmylou Harris? Mark London Williams picked up Jeff Lemire's collected Essex County, from Top Shelf Productions.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Before Rick Klaw's discovery of the French artist Jacques Tardi, how did he enjoy comics? The three reprints from Fantagraphics all appeared on his previous two best of the year lists: You Are There and West Coast Blues in 2009 and It Was the War of the Trenches last year. If he'd read their most recent Tardi publication (The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec Volume 1: Pterror Over Paris/The Eiffel Tower Demon) in time, it would have joined its brethren. Initially set in pre-WWI Paris, Les Aventures extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec relates the unusual escapades of the novelist title character as she uncovers plots involving a recently hatched pterodactyl, demonic cults, seedy underworld characters, and murder.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Mark London Williams was intending to spend the column writing about Nick Bertozzi's splendid graphical overview of Lewis & Clark, those plucky adventurers sent by Thomas Jefferson to explore the then-unknown (to most European-Americans) West. But he picked up the next book in his promising new year's start pile. GB Tran's Vietnamerica is his graphic memoir/historical recreation of his parents' journey from a war-torn Vietnam to America, where he became the first family born here.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Perhaps Rick Klaw's favorite comment that he and Mark receive in response to their annual "Year That Was" sequences of the best graphic novels goes something likes this: "I love your selections, even though I've never heard of half of the books." In this spirit, Rick presents this list of perhaps lesser known works that would have made the cut if they had been preparing best-of compilations when they were originally published. Sadly, half of these books are currently out of print.

2010
Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Here's the now traditional Nexus Graphica year-end wrap-up, where Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams present the top half of their "ten best" list for the year. As Mark has noted before, since reviewing is entirely subjective, there are doubtless other "bests" out there they've missed -- but they go on what they've read, what's been sent to them, etc. This past year, their differing tastes were heightened since they were sent almost entirely different books these past 12 months, rarely getting the same things from the same publishing houses.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Similar to their previous Nexus Graphica best of the year columns, the selections showcase the difference between the tastes of Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams. Of the twenty titles chosen, ten by each, only two titles made both lists. For comparison purposes, they shared three books last year and two in 2008. Vive la différence! Rick Klaw is hosting the first (or last... depending on your perspective) five selections with Mark London Williams returning in two weeks to announce the remainder.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Captain Marvel Jr., introduced in 1941 as one of the earliest crippled characters in comics, revolutionized the burgeoning comics industry as the first youthful counterpart to a main hero, thus spawning the "superhero family" concept. During an aerial battle between Captains Marvel and Nazi, the Aryan villain crashes into a lake, crippling the young Freddy Freeman who happened to be fishing on a small boat. Rick Klaw has some thoughts on how disabilities are portrayed in comics.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Mark London Williams hasn't been in NY in awhile, so Comic-Con went on without any Nexus Graphica presence, but he received a press release on the eve of its opening, touting the debut of a "mixed reality" comic. Mark wondered what was mixed reality? That kind of describes his day-to-day life. But what does it mean in a comic? He decided to find out.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
"The Uncanny Un-Collectibles" began percolating soon after the publication of the two-part "Geek Movies NOT on DVD." Inspired by Glenn Erickson's always interesting annual Movies Not on DVD list at the entertaining DVD Savant, Rick Klaw decided reach out to his cadre of writers, critics, and artists to compile a similar geek-centric film list. The feature garnered tons of interest and remains one of the most popular in the site's nearly 10-year history.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
So there's still the usual buzz 'n' talk of comics movies -- what will Joss Whedon's take on The Avengers be like? Will Thor sort of fizzle at the box office, like the Hulk attempts, next summer? And is Riddler really in the next Chris Nolan Batman installment? But this summer was supposed to end with comics movies going in another direction, away from the sometimes interesting, yet increasingly "play it safe" caped fare being offered by the studios -- which, if anything, are always interested in releasing safe fare. That other direction was to be Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Mark London Williams wonders what happened.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
It started with an innocent quip from Rick Klaw's nephew Alex, aged 13. "Stan Lee created Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four." As the primary progenitor of his geek existence, which encompasses a passion for Godzilla, Monty Python, Dominion, Munchkin, RPGs, and video games, Rick chimed in. "Not exactly." And with that, class was in session.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Mark London Williams is done with teaching comics. No, really, he is finished -- as in, the five week course he taught over the summer on comic book scripting is now concluded. He has mentioned elsewhere that he teaches writing -- one of the places is "in house," for the Disney folks. Mark fell into one of these as a creative writing teacher for one department running what amounts to an in-house community college, offering evening classes in a variety of subjects. He has taught various aspects of writing over the years but comic book scripting was a challenge.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
It's time for Mark London Williams to write again of Comic Con, and his double-foray (which sounds kinky though was, alas, anything but) into Con territories this year... He has been going to the Con for twenty years now -- and covering them regularly here for three. And it strikes him that much of what the Con has become is summed up here in a quote from Peter Hall (not the British director, one assumes!), writing for Cinematical...

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Long a mainstay of comic book publishing, licensed properties comprise a significant portion of the contemporary marketplace. Series and graphic novels based on diverse properties litter store shelves. Rick Klaw recently spoke with three writers who work on licensed properties. Paul Benjamin (Muppet King Arthur), Alan J. Porter (Cars), and Bill Williams (Spike: The Devil You Know) offer some frank, behind-the-scenes commentary on working with licensed properties.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Given the fact that many chain bookstores offer extensive graphic novel selections and the existence of countless collections including seemingly limited interest oddities such as Peter Porker the Spectacular Spider-Ham, American Comic Group's forgettable 1960s super heroes Nemesis and Magicman, and Fantagraphics' two volumes of the wonderfully subversive works of Fletcher Hanks, one might think everything of note ever published has been compiled into graphic novel format. Remarkably, many influential and popular works remain uncollected. Rick Klaw is here to correct that misperception.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Comics creator Matt Dembicki is the editor/creative force behind Trickster, a graphic novel anthology collecting tales of North America's first adventure heroes -- trickster figures like Coyote, Raven, and other "animal humans," who both transformed the world around them, and were often transformed by it -- in spite of themselves. Mark London Williams has a chat with him.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
As summer quickly approaches and temperatures in Central Texas are already hitting the high 90s, Rick Klaw has discovered a selection of recent titles to enjoy while basking in the balmy breezes -- or lounging in your air conditioned domicile.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
So we're following up -- expanding upon? -- the last column's thoughts about Kick-Ass, both the movie, and -- to a certain extent -- the comic. The first question might be: does Mark London Williams mean his last column, a month ago, or Mr. Klaw's?, and the answer might be both. His was more specific, then Rick took the reins to survey the live action superhero comic in the modern film-and-digital era. Which kind of brings us back to Kick-Ass.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Not that long ago, live action movies based on comics were a scarcity. In the 70s, a few made-for-TV movies based on Marvel properties littered the airwaves. Spider-man, Hulk, Dr. Strange, and Captain America all enjoy varying degrees of success. Not to be outdone, DC supplied the highly popular Wonder Woman series. Buck Rogers even staged a comeback. These films and series produced in the days before cable and digital effects, all looked inferior even to the current dismal crop of Saturday night originals airing on SyFy. Rick Klaw works his way through the decades discussing the adaptation of comics into movies.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
So it's Kick-Ass day here in the comics media. Mark London Williams had originally come to talk just about eroticism in comics, occasioned by the two books: Gilbert Hernandez' High Soft Lisp, and the Eddie Campbell/Daren White collaboration The Playwright. Instead, he's been to see Kick-Ass and noticed how both fit together.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Lewis Shiner showed Rick Klaw how to write a comic book script, and he decided the best way to practice was to translate a story he knew and loved for comics. One of his first comic scripts was an adaptation of Ray Bradbury's "Homecoming." Don't go looking for it. His adaptation only ever existed in script form and was never actually produced as a comic story. It was an interesting exercise (and one Rick recommends to any fledgling comic book writer). He learned a lot about the difference between prose and comic stories. How the pacing and story structures are different, the rhythm of good dialogue, determining which dialogue to keep and what to lose.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
So last month, Mark London Williams wrote of his hurlyburly week where comics seemed to be bursting out of the confines of their panels, into what is commonly held to be the "real" world. This started with his mother taking a last-minute trip down to L.A., to catch the R. Crumb Genesis exhibit at the Armand Hammer museum. But then no sooner does he get home to read the day's news than he sees comics again, bursting their bonds (bounds?) to appear as part of the "real" world conversation, the warp and woof of non-comics things.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
This month marks the fifteenth anniversary of Weird Business. Co-edited by Rick Klaw and Joe R. Lansdale, the massive 420 page hardcover anthology contained 23 stories by 56 different creators including some of the biggest names in the sf/f/h field including Robert Bloch, Poppy Z. Brite, Nancy Collins, Charles de Lint, Michael Moorcock, Norman Partridge, Howard Waldrop, F. Paul Wilson, and Roger Zelazny. Rick decided to use this opportunity to check out what happened to some of the then-lesser known contributors.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
The first time Mark London Williams can recall that comics made "news" was when the collecting craze took off in the 70s, and items would pop up in the new about how much Action Comics #1 or Detective Comics #27 would go for at auction, with Mark's dad shaking his head sadly each time, swearing he'd once owned them, and trying to remember if it was when he was off in the Army that Mark's grandmother threw them out. But he was surprised when comics cropped up twice, outside of showbiz reports, in just the span of time since he last filed a Nexus Graphica column.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
The weekend before Christmas while wandering Austin Books, Rick Klaw spied an old friend looking over Watchmen as though he'd never seen it before. Lee surprised Rick with his seeming unfamiliarity with the classic graphic novel. Like many of Rick's friends, Lee's comic geek quotient far exceeds the norm. Turns out Lee was holiday shopping for a new friend unfamiliar but curious about comics. Rick decided to talk him out of Watchmen. This led Rick to consider what comics he would recommend to someone who is a novice when it comes to graphic novels.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
In Edwin Starr's Vietnam-era song, War, the rhetorical answer to the lyric, "War. Huh. Yeah. What Is it Good For?" was the intuitively obvious "Absolutely nothin'." And while history has created moments where wars of "necessity" seemed unavoidable, it becomes increasingly obvious that "war" is a zero-sum game, except for both the industrialists and unhinged nationalists for whom "war" is their favorite political institution, because it transfers so much power into their necrotic hands. Is Mark London Williams sounding a bit polemical? Well, it's because he has rediscovered war is actually good for something after all -- oppositional art.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
By 1990, the Reagan-promised American dream lay in ruins. The U.S. economy teetered on the verge of a recession. While crime rates eventually dropped dramatically later in the decade, American crime levels had achieved record highs throughout the 80s. After decades of neglect, the U.S. education system doomed an entire generation to lives of mediocrity and poverty. The Iran-Contra controversy combined with other scandals and the ridiculous excesses of consumption further eroded the weary American psyche. Rick Klaw follows how writer Peter Milligan and artist Chris Bachalo produced Shade, the Changing Man for DC Comics, an indictment and a chronicle of failed dreams and hopes.

| 2012-2013 Columns | 2010-2011 Columns | 2008-2009 Columns |

Copyright © 2008 Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams


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