Category Archives: Guest Posts

Review: “American Vampire, Volume VII” by Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, & Matias Bergara

Title: American Vampire, Volume VII
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artists: Rafael Albuquerque & Matias Bergara
Series: American Vampire (Volume VII, American Vampire: Second Cycle #1-5)
Rating: *****
Publisher/Copyright: Vertigo, 2015

Finally! American Vampire is back from hiatus, and my library got it in! As always, this review might spoil previous collections, so you might want to start from the beginning…. (Volume I/Volume II/Volume III/Volume IV/Volume V/Volume VI) You’ve been warned!

It’s now 1965, and in the ten years since Pearl Jones and Skinner Sweet last saw each other everything has changed. America is a different place, from the space race to a war half a world away. Pearl has converted her family farm to a safe haven for young and innocent vampires on the run from the real monsters, while Skinner spends his time on the southern border robbing smugglers and drug lords. It’s peaceful, comparatively speaking. Of course, it can’t last….The Gray Trader, the original vampire, the first link in the evolutionary chain that ends with Skinner and Pearl, is coming. He’s powerful. He’s evil personified. He may just be the Devil incarnate. What does he want? God only knows, and unfortunately he’s not all that chatty with our protagonists….Rounding out the collection is a flashback story featuring Gene Bunting as he tracks the myth of the Gray Trader in 1947, following clues left in the journal of a doomed miner working a claim digging its way to Hell.

Gotta say, this was definitely worth the wait. Whereas the previous entries in the series have been stellar, they were admittedly lacking in a cohesive, ongoing narrative that tied the different stories together. Not that I didn’t enjoy reading about the various adventures of our protagonists, those were great stories! But now it looks like we’ve got an overarching story to tie everything together. What’s more, it’s looking to be a doozy! Rafael Albuquerque’s art is stellar as usual, with his trademark style that fits this book so well. Newcomer to the series Matias Bergara also hands in a great bit of work on the backup tale. I can’t wait to see what happens next….

CONTENT: This isn’t for the kiddies! It’s a Vertigo book, so you’ve been warned. R-rated language. Strong, gory violence, as you would expect from such monstrous creatures as appear here. Pearl and Skinner are on the side of the angels, but they’re monsters nevertheless. Their opponents? They’re worse. Mild sexual references, plus a couple creepy bits of nudity in the sketches from the journal. Not too explicit, but there nevertheless. No occultic content; these vampires are purely physical.

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Review: “The Dresden Files: Fool Moon” (GN Adaptation) by Jim Butcher, Mark Powers, & Chase Conley

Title: Fool Moon Volume I/Volume II
Original novel by: Jim Butcher
Adapted by: Mark Powers
Artist: Chase Conley
Series: The Dresden Files
Rating: ****
Publisher/Copyright: Dynamite, 2011/2013

By now, I shouldn’t really have to explain my absolute love of Jim Butcher’s masterwork, The Dresden Files. I think I’ve made that abundantly clear on a repeated basis, whether reviewing the last couple books in the series (Cold Days, Skin Game) or either of the previous graphic novels–the prequel Welcome To The Jungle and the adaptation of the first book in the series, Storm Front. And now we come to the graphic novel adaptation for book two: Fool Moon, again in two parts that I will review together here. The general consensus among fans of the series is that the first two or three books are merely good, while every book after that goes up in awesomeness by something like an order of magnitude, and I largely agree. It’s been quite a while since I read the actual novel version of this (which means it’s time to go back and re-read the entire series!), but from what I remember this seemed pretty faithful to the book.

Harry Dresden is having a bit of a rough patch. I know, what else is new? With their friendship still strained by the lies he told to protect her back in Storm Front, Murphy has been calling him in for jobs less and less, which means that Harry is having to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find money for rent. All the same, Chicago has been mostly quiet on the supernatural apocalypse front, and for that Harry is grateful. Alas, it can’t last. People are dying at every full moon, and even a rookie would know what that means–there’s a werewolf in town. Harry had better figure out what’s going on quick, before more people end up as dog food….but that’s not going to be easy with “Gentleman Johnny” Marcone on his tail, along with a crew of suspicious Feds watching his every move, Murphy still not sure she trusts him, and a lycanthropic street gang out for his head. Why can’t it ever just be simple? Oh, right….because that’s no fun….

Like I said above, this was pretty faithful to the book. The only thing really missing was Dresden’s snarky humor as he narrates, and I’ll admit that I missed it a bit. The real downfall here though, and what cost it that fifth star, is the artwork. It wasn’t atrocious, it wasn’t even really objectively bad, but I didn’t like it. Partially, yes, it’s the fact that I still miss the stellar work of Ardian Syaf. I recognize that, and I need to get over it. But then, I don’t tend to be a fan of this particular style of art anyway. There’s also the fact that half the time I can only tell Murphy from Tera based on their clothes, and the female characters tend to be over-sexualized even when that’s not a part of their character. Susan, I get that. That’s how she is. Tera, likewise. As much time as she spends without clothes on shifting back and forth or as a distraction, I can see why she would be sexualized. I’m less understanding of Kim’s neckline–that’s not the kind of relationship she has with Dresden–and I highly doubt that Murphy would dress quite so provocatively (even if she’s fairly conservative compared to the others). There’s never quite anything that would send the book into Vertigo territory (were this DC), but the shadows and foreground objects get quite a workout keeping this book PG-13.

CONTENT: Brief R-rated language. Some gory violence. No outright nudity, thanks to incredibly-convenient shadows or foreground objects, but so close it’s almost no difference. Also….Dresden’s a wizard. There’s gonna be magic. You’ve been warned.

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Guest Post: Jason Sizemore on “Why I Operate An Online Zine”

This was supposed to go up yesterday, and I’m sorry for the delay. All I can say is that work was crazy, and by the time I got home it had completely slipped my mind.

Giveaway results! Given the scarcity of entries (there were only two) I eschewed the random number generator in favor of a more traditional means of selection that was perfectly tailored to my dilemma: I flipped a coin. And the  winner is….Maddee Schrader! I’ll get your information to the people sending out the book, and I hope you enjoy it. Chris, better luck next time.

And now without further ado, Jason Sizemore, the founder and original editor of Apex Magazine!

Why I Operate an Online Zine

Jason Sizemore

A common question I receive from fans at conventions is “Why do you operate an online zine?”

My response: “Because I’m a glutton for punishment!”

That retort always receives a knowing and appreciative laugh. Everybody knows that trying to run a successful online zine is a fool’s errand! Hundreds, if not thousands of zines have come and gone since the rise of the internet.

Because of the low cost of entry into the business of running an online zine, an incredible amount of people have jumped in. With less risk comes larger entrepreneurial interest, so you get an inordinate amount of non-business minded individuals taking a go. This creates a high failure rate and the perception that running an online zine is inordinately difficult.

The truth is, running an online zine is like running any other business. You control your costs, you advertise, you present a quality product, and there is a good chance you’ll succeed. By these measures, Apex Magazine is succeeding. My publisher/editor peers at Lightspeed, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Clarkesworld seem to be succeeding.

Running a successful business provides a great sense of accomplishment. Knowing that Apex Magazine is helping entertain thousands of readers is a wonderful feeling.

Having fans appreciate your hard work makes you work even harder for them.

Even though you can be successful running a zine, publishing short fiction isn’t a lucrative business. Not losing money is nice, of course. But the reality is that we do this for our readers.

Believe it or not, we also do it for the writers and artists. Short fiction zines provide an additional income and promotional source for writers and artists. Knowing we contribute to the overall health of the genre publishing business is nice. Getting to work with writers you’ve read and admired is often quite fun. Engaging with eager newly published authors makes you feel like you’ve helped someone check off a box on their bucket list.

I’m certain I come across as selfish. All these reasons why I operate an online zine basically come down to “It makes me happy.” And you know what? I’m fine with that.

I do it because it makes me happy.

Why else would I take on such punishment!

I encourage you to see the fruits of my monthly labor at http://www.apex-magazine.com. Apex also collects all its original fiction in its Book of Apex series. The Book of Apex: Volume 4 of Apex Magazine is the latest to be published.

On a closing note, I would be remiss without thanking Jordan Binkerd for the opportunity to be a guest blogger on his site. And a huge thank you to the amazing Andrea Johnson for putting together a great blog tour for The Book of Apex: Volume 4 of Apex Magazine!

JS

BIO: Jason Sizemore is twice Hugo Award-nominated owner/operator of Apex Publications. A software developer by day and publisher by night, he dips his toes in many waters—running an online zine being one of his favorites. For more information visit http://www.apexbookcompany.com.

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