A month after its release, Naughty Dog
's sweeping interactive epic The Last of Us
is being hailed as one of the best games of all time
, with perfect scores even from notoriously demanding critics
Inspired by an eerily beautiful segment from the BBC's Planet Earth
, the game portrays an America twenty years after a pandemic of the zombiefying Cordyceps
), leaving behind lush wastelands
of elegant decay
teeming with monsters
and beset by vicious bandits, a brutal military, and the revolutionary Fireflies.
Into this bleak vision of desperate violence
journey Joel, a gruffly stoic Texan with a painful past, and his ward Ellie, a precocious teenager who may hold the key to mankind's future.
Boasting tense, immersive gameplay
, compelling performances
from a diverse cast, a movingly minimalist score
from Oscar-winning Gustavo Santaolalla
, and an array of influences from Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men
to Cormac McCarthy's The Road
, it's already being slotted alongside BioShock Infinite
and Half-Life 2
as one of modern gaming's crowning achievements
. And while it's hard to disentangle plot from action, you don't have to buy a PS3 to experience it -- YouTube offers many filmic edits of the game, including this three-hour version of all relevant passages
And don't miss the 84-minute documentary
exploring every facet of its production. [more inside]
Let's think back to the 1960s, when more people were writing surreal, paranoid themes. Now place Jim Henson in that context, and you get Time Piece
(YouTube, excerpt; behind the scenes clip
, YT). Add in collaboration with writer (and puppeteer) Jerry Juhl
and you have The Cube
(YT, full film), as well as the setting for the hypnagogic story of a man pursued in the desert, called Tale of Sand. This was first written up as a screenplay and pitched as a movie in the late 1960s, then revised and re-pitched in 1974. But no one bit, so the screenplay was shelved, and then Jim gained fame for Sesame Street and The Muppets. Elements of Tale of Sand appeared in The Muppet Movie
(YT, full movie) and other places since then, but the work was largely unseen and forgotten. Jump ahead three decades, and the Henson Company teams up with Archaia
, first releasing Fraggle Rock and Dark Crystal comics
, then digging in the Henson Company vault to bring Tale of Sand to light with cartoonist Ramón Pérez
. You can see a preview of the graphic novel on Graphicly
(including a nice dynamic display) and Amazon
(static images, but more pages in the preview). [more inside]
It's debatable whether the troubled World War Z
signals the end of the ongoing zombie craze, but the film that started it all is much more clear: Danny Boyle's
bleak, artful cult horror-drama 28 Days Later
, which saw its US premiere ten years ago this weekend.
From its iconic opening shots of an eerily abandoned London
(set to Godspeed You! Black Emperor's
brooding post-rock epic "East Hastings"
) to the frenzied chaos of its climax
, Boyle's film -- a dark yet humanist tale
of a world eviscerated by a frighteningly contagious epidemic of murderous rage -- reinvented and reinvigorated the genre that Romero built (though many insist its rabid, sprinting berserkers don't really count
And while sequel 28 Weeks Later
with its heavyhanded Iraq War allusions
failed to live up to the original (despite boasting one of the most viscerally terrifying opening sequences
in modern horror), and 28 Months
looks increasingly unlikely
, there remains a small universe of side content from the film, including music, short films, comics, and inspired-by games. [more inside]
Suffice it to say, Persepolis is quite a work. It’s a testament to the power of the graphic novel. The art’s simple linework helps the story feel unpretentious and direct. Persepolis was adapted as a 2007 French animated film, written and directed by Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud. Among other honors, it was nominated for an Academy Award. Why would someone want to ban such a book?
The NYT Book Review
just named it one of the 5 best fiction books of the year
. The AV Club helpfully posted a video
to show you what happens when you open it. Actually, lots of folks posted videos
to show you what happens when you open it. Other folks raved in print about the author and his career
. The Comics Journal asked a dozen critics of the author's work
to send in reviews; this one
focuses on the role of disability in the narrative. This one
notes the book "is in a very primary sense a comic about women and the private lives they lead, and it investigates more fully than any other comic I have ever read the way they age, fall in love, explore their sexuality, come to terms with compromises they’ve had to make as they’ve grown, accept their limitations, confront squandered ability, have children (or choose not to have children), marry (or stay single), and make sense of the world around them." You might find Chris Ware's Building Stories
worth a look or two. Or fourteen. [more inside]
In this time of corrupt politics, police brutality, media dereliction, and increasingly vicious culture wars, there's perhaps no graphic novel more relevant today than the brilliant and blackly funny Transmetropolitan
Created by Warren Ellis back in 1997 and inspired by prescient sci fi novel Bug Jack Barron
, the series covers the work of gonzo journalist
, vulgar misanthrope, and all-around magnificent bastard Spider Jerusalem
in a sprawling futuristic vision of New York
so chaotically advanced that humans splice genes with alien refugees, matter decompilers are as common as microwaves, and a new religion is invented every hour.
As a callous Nixonian thug nicknamed The Beast
prepares for his re-election to the presidency, a primary battle heats up between a virulent racist and a charismatic senator whose rictus grin
masks some disturbing realities. When Jerusalem delves into the machinations of the race
, he breaks into a web of conspiracies that threaten the future of the country -- a problem only he, his "filthy assistants,"
and the power of intrepid journalism
More: Read the first issue
) - browse images
from the new artbook
- Tor's read-along blog
) - Jerusalem's touching report on cryogenic "Revivals"
- dozens of original sketches
and sample pages
"Transient is a black comedy
about a homeless man who's visions lead him to believe he is an inter-dimensional savior of humanity, on a mission to save the universe. Is he indeed the 'one', chosen by mystical divine forces to embark on a crusade against ultimate evil, or a hopeless lunatic, aimlessly wandering the streets of San Francisco? Transient is a spoof on the hero's journey that's part Men in Black, part Raising Arizona, flavored with liberal portions of Ghostbusters and John Steinbeck. It is a ballad to the city by the bay, and a heartfelt tale of the sacrifices one man will take for his love for his family, his friends, and all of humankind." [Via]
An interview with Chris Ware
from May 2010 at the international Copenhagen comics festival. Ware is the creator of Acme Novelty Library
and Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth
. (via kottke
is a webcomic that updates on Mondays.
by Greg Pak
, a free comic about the not-so-distant future.
When the Jessamine* County Public Library acquired a copy of Alan Moore
and Kevin O'Neill's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier
, two library workers conspired to keep it out of the patrons' hands
, checking it out for an entire year. After an eleven-year-old girl put a hold on the book, they removed the hold; upon discovering this, the library director fired them
. [more inside]
After Kwai Chung Caine and the Phantom - The Sadhu
- the story of one man'
s choice between his spiritual oath and his human instincts. Brought to you
by Virgin Comics. PDF of first issue
Behind Iron Bars.
A short comic of the Spanish Civil War. From the latest, international comics, edition of Words Without Borders
Breakfast of the Gods: The Last Good Morning.
A serialized webcomic featuring the sugary, crunchy stars of your childhood - destroying your childhood dreams one after another. Via Monkeyfilter
"Please Stay Tuned For A Message From Your Savior."
If yesterday's discussion of the Apocalypse
was just not enough for you, consider Stephen Buell's Video
was originally published in 2004
as a five-issue mini-series from Lost in the Dark Press
. The premise is simple. How might the modern world deal with an actual Second Coming? The trade collection
, including improved artwork and concept sketches, will arrive in shops next Wednesday. For your further consideration, a 22-page preview has been provided
"He said to me, 'I'm going to hang up on you if you don't stop talking to me,' "
Graphic novel author Allen Moore takes a hard line with Hollywood. Reminds me of this story
about Ex-Door John Densmore.
The Center for Cartoon Studies
, nestled in the historic village of White River Junction
, Vermont, will learn you up good
on how to be a comic artist/graphic novelist. They operate under the charter of the National Association of Comics Art Educators
; Charles Schulz's widow Jean hooked them up
with funding for a library in town. When you apply for admission, don't forget to include that story
about you, the snowman, and the robot. A photo tour of the Center and its surroundings can be seen here
Will Eisner Dies at age 86
The father of the modern Graphic Novel and hugely influential comics figure has died today from heart surgery complications. His concept of Sequential Art
helped move comics out of the idea of being solely "kid's stuff" and was seen as a cannon in the comic art world.
He was working on a book called "The Plot" due out later this year. He will be missed. More info and Eisner Bio at Newsarama