We’d love to welcome everyone back to the Laughing Ogre Comics website! Moving forward, we’d like to keep this page updated on a weekly basis with staff picks of the week, comic news and eventually, we’d like to have reviews and podcasts! We’re very excited for this and hope you’ll join us for the journey!

Danger Club #1 just came out  from Image last week, and I have to say that even though the book was recommended to me, I purchased it with a little trepidation. Here was yet another sort of reality take on the super hero world AND it was all about children being super heroes to boot. Now, where have I heard of that Kick Ass idea before? Hmm… But then I read the story, and looked at the artwork. And, I have to say, the book is pretty good on both counts. I’m not going to spoil anything, but the setup is that all of the world’s adult super heroes have left the planet to fight some galactic threat. The book opens up with the statement that none of the heroes ever returned. And so, the only people left to fight the baddies are the sidekicks.

Now, since this is Image, and not DC for instance, there is no character named Robin per se, but there sure is a character who looks like Robin and who acts a lot like a miniature version of Batman. More so than Robin does, if truth be told. And then there’s young Yoshimi, a girl who pilots a flying robot. Any Flaming Lips fans out there? If there are, you will understand why I thought this kinda straddled the line between being funny and just being annoying. Now, I have to give a warning to any parents who read this blog (yeah, right), that the book is bloody. It’s just as bloody as Kick Ass even, although in this story the kids are real super-powered heroes (most of them, at least), versus just being vigilante kidsters dressing up in poorly made costumes.

All in all, a solid read with a kinda “Hmm, that’s a good point” ending. I recommend picking this title up and seeing where it goes. I know I will.

Peace,

M

Hi there kind readers. Let me start today’s post out with a few questions. What do you expect to find on TV? Television programs! And commercials, of course. Good. Good. Now, what do you expect to find on the radio? OK, this one is tougher. I will accept either songs (music) or talk shows. And, of course, commercials. Now here is the tricky question. What do you expect to see when you open a comic book? And the answer is…images, drawings, superheroes, action, dialogue, etc. etc.

Unfortunately, however, I find myself more and more bombarded with ultra-dense dialogue balloons stuffed with words, and more words! Listen, I have an English degree. I read all the time, and I have no fear or dislike of words, but I do not buy comics to read tons of words. Most of the books I have been getting lately resemble illustrated stories more than they resemble comics. And this isn’t just me going off on a rant! Just like in books, good stories SHOW without having to TELL everything. Plus, these diatribes usually occur (we are to believe) in the time it takes to swing a hammer, or to punch a villain. Having so much text shoved into these shrinking comic books is just a sign of lazy storytelling.

I am very close to discontinuing every title I have that uses ultra dense text bubbles, and keeping only the titles that actually have an effective balance of text and sequential art. OK, here’s your last question for the night. What do you expect to see when you open up…a book? That’s right. Words. And I think I am going to go read one of those now. Thanks for listening. Peace.

M

January 2012 was the worst month of my life.  It started off well enough, celebrating New Year’s in Little Washington with my wife and kids, teaching a writing workshop for teens at the Rust Library, and then flying to Hawaii for a conference.  We had a free day in Hawaii, so I headed over to Pearl Harbor to see the USS Arizona, which still lies just below the surface of the water.  I was on Pacific time, but I attempted to call my Mom, who lives in New Hampshire so that she could experience, at least vicariously, treading upon such historic soil.  But I couldn’t reach her, and I sensed right then that something was wrong.

My Mom has been fighting cancer for the last two years.  Her chances of recovery were never good because the cancer was already Stage IV when the doctors discovered it.  But she took their chemo and their radiation and their hormone pills, all the while praying for a miracle.  She had two strokes last summer, and on the day that I was at Pearl Harbor, my Mom was lying on the floor of her small cabin, having suffered a massive third stroke.  Somehow, she managed to crawl to her phone and call her brother-in-law.  My aunt and uncle rushed to her house and my Mom was taken to the hospital.  She seemed to be improving at first, and the one thing she insisted upon was that I not be told because she didn’t want to spoil my trip.  Thankfully, my uncle ignored this advice and called my wife.  When I called to check in that night, Rachel told me what had happened.

My first instinct was to come home, but like I said, my Mom wanted me to stay for a presentation that I had to give later in the week.  So I stayed, worrying every second that I wasn’t going to make it to New Hampshire in time.  I ended up returning home on a Thursday evening, and then flying out of Dulles less than 24 hours later.  I passed from Honolulu to San Francisco to Washington to Amissville, back to Washington, then on to Boston.  From there I drove to Durham, NH where I spent the night with a co-worker.  In a 48-hour period I crossed then entire width of this great country and went from 80 degrees in Hawaii to 11 below in New Hampshire.

I spent a little over a week with my Mom at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital in Hanover, New Hampshire.  In spite of her initial improvements, she began to deteriorate quickly.  Jet-lagged and heartbroken, I watched as she slowly lost the ability to eat, to speak, and even to stay awake.  I was grateful to my aunt and uncle as well as my cousins, who all took care of me while I watched my mother dying.  Back home in Virginia, my wife dropped in at the comic store to pick up my books.  She sent them to NH so that I would have something to read as I sat up through the night.

We ended up transporting my Mom to Weeks Hospital in Lancaster, New Hampshire, just a few miles from her home.  She was still unconscious, but I’m happy to say that all of the people that needed to see her, that needed to say goodbye, were able to pay their last respects.  After the friends and family were gone, Saturday the 28th passed into Sunday the 29th.  I had been sleeping poorly for that entire week, so I was awake at midnight.  I sat up reading the comics Rachel had sent.  The book that really stood out to me was Locke & Key Volume 2: Head Games.  I was reading this book at 4:45 am when my Mom’s breathing stopped.  The silence was so eerie, and I’m not being dramatic when I say that I can still hear it.

I spent a few more days in New Hampshire, camping out at my Mom’s house and going through her things.  I found, among other things, five unpublished novel manuscripts, a handful of short stories, and about 150 poems.  I knew that she had been writing up there in the North Country, but I had no idea how prolifically.  She was a regular Emily Dickinson.

As you’re probably aware by now, this post is not a review of Head Games.  But I will say that I was happy to have that book with me when my Mom passed away.  I was happy to have a piece of fiction (a good piece in my opinion) to ease the pain of saying goodbye.  Fiction tells us things about ourselves that non-fiction cannot.  It’s truer than the truth, do you know what I mean?  It can cut us when we’re least expecting, but it can also sooth a broken heart or unlock a door to a place where we can escape for a while.  I think that my Mom, who had a Master’s Degree from George Mason and studied with John Gardner, would probably appreciate that.

Happy New Year, Everyone. I know. I know. I haven’t written an entry in a while. My excuse? Lyme Disease! And to think, one of my all-time favorite animated characters is (was) the Tick.

I’m a bit rusty at this, so I’m gonna start out slowly. Well…I’ve been reading my comics like a good little adult nerd (proudly so!). Without any of them in front of me, I know that I have been enjoying, in no particular order, the new Bionic Man series, Green Lantern, The Strange Talent of Luther Strode (interesting read so far), The Incredible Hulk (although not liking the new artist), the Legion of Superheroes, Superman, Superboy, one of the Batman titles (the one where the new Robin goes rogue), Animal Man (still very good), and Wolverine (um Professor Wolverine, sorry).

But really I’ve been more interested in watching the first and only season of ABC’s No Ordinary Family. Maybe it’s the strong meds I’m on, but I really enjoyed the show. Sometimes predictable, but at times also fresh. It’s a story about a normal family (mom, dad, son, and daughter) who are in a plane crash in the Amazon and come away with super powers. The main guy is Michael Chiklis from The Shield, and his D.A. co-hort/ sidekick is Romany Malco of 40 Year Old Virgin fame. Not only do we get to see the whole family come to terms with their new powers, but the story gets a little more interesting when we discover that there are other “supers” in town, and all of them are villains. The season ends on a sorta cliff-hanger, but since the show ended up being cancelled, even though the setup for the second season was pretty good, we will just never know exactly what the writers intended. Probably. Unless they posted in on a blog somewhere…

Like I said, the show isn’t the most amazing thing you will ever watch, but the acting is ok, the plot lines try to do good things, and overall, the series is just plain, mindless fun. And all the episodes are streaming on Netflix. Total bonus!

So by all means, keep reading your (comic) books, but if you get bored one night, check out No Ordinary Family, and let your mind wander as it wonders what you would do if you suddenly had super powers of your own…

M