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Posted on November 3rd, 2015

Dave!You know... I would never presume to tell a parent what they should or should not allow their child to read.

Even the stupid parents. It's their kid... they should get to decide that. But it is quite another matter for said parent to decide FOR ALL OTHER KIDS what should or should not be read.

And yet...

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is absolutely fascinating reading, and there is much to be learned from her story (I can't wait for the movie!). There is NOTHING in the book that could even remotely be considered "pornography." Especially for a 15 year old kid who lives in the Real World. And yet, some bored woman in Tennessee with a bug up her vagina is wanting to have it banned...

Ruth Coker Burks

Well fuck her.

Let other parents decide for themselves if it's appropriate reading for THEIR OWN DAMN KIDS. I am so sick and tired of ignorant dumbasses constantly pushing for society to be lowered to their level of idiocy.

Stay in your ignorance bubble if you want... just leave the rest of us out of your dumbfuckery.

If you want to know more about the woman whom the book in question is written about, here's the Wikipedia page for Henrietta Lacks. And if that's not enough... I can't recommend The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks highly enough.

Fascinating, fascinating stuff.

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Making Of…

Posted on October 24th, 2015

Dave!I think that I've mentioned a couple times now how much I love "making of" and "art of" books for movies I enjoy. There's something about getting a behind-the-scenes look at the filmmaking process and all the hard work involved that makes me love great movies even more.

My obsession started when I was 11 years old. I saw Star Wars and was desperate to find out everything I could about the movie. In the days before the internet, this meant scouring the magazine stands. Fortunately, Star Wars was such a huge phenomena that there was no shortage of magazine articles. Unfortunately, most of them were devoted to fluff pieces and corny interviews with the stars. Nothing had much depth or new information.

Until I discovered Starlog magazine, issue no. 7...

Starlog No. 7

This amazing resource for science fiction fans provided a glimpse into movies that was unlike anything else. Not only did they talk about the films I loved... they featured articles that discussed how they were made...

Starlog No. 7
You too can download issues of Starlog from the Internet Archive!

And I was hooked.

Starlog eventually led to a love affair with Cinefex in 1980, which was nothing but lush, in-depth, behind the scenes information! The magazine dissected movie special effects to an unprecedented level, and I was in cinephile heaven...

Cinefex No. 1

Eventually the "making of" books came along. Most of the time they were a step backwards from Cinefex, but I still bought them. Reluctantly.

All that changed in 2007 when The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film was released...

Making of Star Wars Book

This absolute masterpiece of film documentation reignited my love of "behind the scenes" books and has been leading me on the road to bankruptcy ever since. Not just with new releases, but with past releases as well. Like The Story of The Fifth Element, a terrific book from 1997...


Currently, I'm obsessed with all the "art of" books for Disney/Pixar feature films... and, of course, all the Marvel movie books, which have been fantastic...

The Art of Guardians of the Galaxy

If you're a fan of these books like me, there are two new releases you should be aware of...

Ultimate Visual Guide Back to the Future and Ghostbusters

"Ultimate Visual History" books for Back to the Future and Ghostbusters!

Both volumes are very nicely made and have loads of great info. Spot varnish on the photos is featured throughout (something I love in a book!) and they tried to make them a bit more fun and accessible by including "souvenirs" from the movies that they stick to pages here and there.

In the Back to the Future book you get such things as the "Save the Clock Tower" flyer that Jennifer writes her phone number on (but it's white instead of blue)... the letter Marty writes to Doc to warn him about getting shot... the receipt from "Blast from the Past" for Grays Sports Almanac (but it's paper instead of clear plastic).

The Ghostbusters book doesn't have "souvenirs" so much as "production inserts" that feature artwork, storyboards, and an animation cell. Overall I wish they had not included the extra pieces, because they're just going to damage the pages they've been adhered to. You can easily remove them (the "glue" they use is that removable "booger snot" stuff) but then they're going to get lost. This kind of gimmicky crap never works as well as publishers think it does.

Still, Back to the Future and Ghostbusters are two of my favorite movies of all time, so I'm happy to have these editions. They claim to feature never-before-seen images and exclusive interviews, so that alone will make the books essential buys for the completist.

Hopefully publisher Insight Editions will release other books in this series. I'm still waiting for a making of Spaceballs book.



Posted on October 9th, 2015

Dave!The pressure's on the screen
To sell you things that you don't need
It's too much information for me

Too Much Information by Duran Duran

For quite a while now, I've been simplifying my life by getting rid of junk I don't need. And, more importantly, I've been trying to stop buying the stuff I don't really need which will turn into tomorrow's junk.

For the most part, I've been fairly successful. I rarely purchase any kind of "luxury good" on impulse now-a-days. Everything I buy is carefully thought-out. If there's something I think I just have to have, I'll put it on a wish-list and sit on it for a week. It's shocking how most of the time things I was so desperate to buy seven days ago gets scratched off the list because, upon further reflection, it isn't that important to improving my life.

The one area where I fail miserably is books.

For the most part, I've switched to digital books and digital comics because I just don't have room to store any more of them... but I love physical books so much that it's impossible for me to give them up completely.

"Art of the Movie" books are my worst offenders. I buy every Marvel Cinematic Universe book they release... which includes not just the movies, but the TV series too. I also buy every Pixar "Art of the Movie" book and most of the Disney ones as well. Needless to say, I buy loads of Star Wars and Star Trek books because it's impossible not to. I absolutely love being able to get a peek behind the scenes of how the movies I love are developed and crafted, and this is not something that translates well to digital eBooks, so I bite the bullet and purchase the real books. And a lot of the time they're fairly large. Which means more clutter.

Comic books are also problematic, because I would far rather own a physical copy over some digital representation. Alas, I have more comics than I can manage as it is, so digital it is. Unless... I run across issues that are missing from my epic runs of Batman, Action, Avengers, Fantastic Four, and Legion of Super-Heroes* If I see any holes in my collection I can fill for a reasonable price, my wallet is out so fast that my credit card never knew what hit it.

Things wouldn't be so bad if I could convince myself to unload the hundreds of crappy comics I don't even like... but I never can. You just don't know when an emergency situation will arise where I'll be desperate to read an issue of Rob Liefeld's Youngblood, for example.

And so I have boxes and boxes of comics and shelves and shelves of books that probably aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

Which is a pity, because I could really use the space for my LEGO collection.

*Well, not any of the actually comics titled Legion of Super-Heroes, because I have all those... I'm talking about the team's appearances in other books, like Adventure Comics). Totally my Kryptonite.

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Posted on August 29th, 2015

Dave!Welcome to PART TWO of a discussion about the art that's running in the latest issue of THRICE Fiction Magazine!

If you haven't read PART ONE yet, you should do that first.

And if you haven't downloaded a FREE copy of our August 2015 issue... then you should definitely do that first because, WARNING... SPOILERS MAY ENSUE!

Thrice Fiction No. 14

After our last issue was released, I received a comment from a friend who said "I like how you do such a good job of including so many women writers and artists." This kind of took me by surprise, because this is not something that ever entered my head. When it comes to the artwork, the women in our pages are not here because they're women, they're here because they are amazingly talented artists who are kind enough donate their time and wonderful works. There was no conscious effort on my part to make this happen, it just kind of worked out this way. If you bring your A-game, show me terrific stuff, and know how to compliment a story with your art... I couldn't care less what restroom you use, what ethnicity box you check, who you love, what you believe, or where you're from. I mean, sure I'd care if you were into kicking puppies or something equally heinous. I wouldn't want to support a puppy-kicker. But if you have a respect for puppies and make me want to have your work in our magazine, I'll be ringing your doorbell. Actually, I wouldn't do that... that's kind of creepy. But I would send you an email asking if I can send you some stories to look over.

And I can't imagine that things would be any different on the editorial side of Thrice. What makes RW so good at his job is that he literally doesn't care about anything except what he's reading. He made this quite clear in our submission guidelines when he says "Cover letters are a matter of complete indifference to us. So is your bio. We don’t care who you are or what you’ve done or where you have been published. We're happy to just let the work speak for itself." And those are not just empty words... that encapsulates everything Thrice Fiction is about.

And now that that's out of the way... if you think you've got what it takes to appear in our pages... we want to hear from you!

No matter who you are.


And now... back to Issue No. 14, already in progress...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
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Posted on June 4th, 2015

Dave!This post has been a long time coming.

When it comes to book publishers, far and away my favorite is the house of Dorling-Kindersley.

I first became aware of them through their amazing Eyewitness Travel Guides. With the motto "We show you what others only tell you," they raised the bar so impossibly high that once I discovered them, I never purchased another brand of travel guide. And, indeed, once I stopped buying travel guides in favor of web research, I threw out over a hundred books... save for my impressive collection of DK guides, which I still have. They were simply too beautiful to trash...

A portion of my DK Eyewitness Travel Guides Collection

Back in the day I was so addicted to Eyewitness Guides that I would even buy them after I visited places because they were the best possible souvenir of the region. Many times I ended up buying them for locations I had no intention of visiting because they were the next best thing to actually having been there. The sheer depth of visual information paired with clear, well-written text proved irresistible to my travel-nerd tendencies, and I ended up with close to fifty of them...

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Sample

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Sample

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Sample

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Sample

Even today if I ever find a DK guide on sale and it's one I don't have yet, I buy it. They are still one of the best resources for travel you can get... even though I rarely look at them to plan my travels.

As you can imagine, once I learned that DK was broadening their focus outside the travel arena, I was thrilled. They've created visual guides for all kinds of topics, and they're every bit as good as their travel books.


DK Visual Books Sample


DK Visual Books Sample

DK Visual Books Sample


DK Visual Books Sample


DK Visual Books Sample


DK Visual Books Sample


DK Visual Books Sample

Even Batman...

DK Visual Books Sample

Most any topic you can think of, DK has a visual guide for it!

But far and away my very favorite of the DK visual guides? Star Wars. Especially Star Wars LEGO Universe books...

DK Visual Books Sample

DK Visual Books Sample

But they have an amazing selection of "regular" Star Wars books as well. I think I own just about all of them, but there are a few standouts. Like the Star Wars: Incredible Cross-sections books...

DK Visual Books Sample

DK Visual Books Sample

DK's latest Star Wars book has just been released, and it's pretty great.

The title is ULTIMATE STAR WARS! And they mean it. This book has an extensive guide to the characters & creatures, locations, technology, and vehicles of both the Original Trilogy and the crappy Prequel Trilogy. As if that wasn't enough, it seamlessly blends in the various canon animated series as well...

DK Visual Books Sample

DK Visual Books Sample

DK Visual Books Sample

Most of the information has already been released in previous books, but this "Ultimate" guide attempts (and succeeds!) in blending a variety of updated sources into a kind of narrative you can follow. This is bad news for those wanting a more encyclopedic take on the information... but you get a full index for that, so I wasn't too bothered.

As expected, the quality of the book is amazing. All 320 pages are artfully constructed for both visual appeal and clarity. Major characters and locations get a beautiful double-page spread, while minor characters get space appropriate to their place in the grand scheme of things... Wedge Antilles, for example, gets a half-page... Biggs Darklighter gets a quarter... Jek Prokins gets an eighth. Even the lady shaver "Comlink" is given an eighth, which should tell you just how complete the material in this book is.

Now that new LucasFilm owner Disney has completely jettisoned the "Star Wars Expanded Universe" and redefined what's "canon" when it comes to all things Star Wars. this book presents a streamlined and surprisingly complete look at what's "official" when it comes to a universe far, far away. So if you're looking for a Star Wars companion to prepare you for the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens film coming this December, this is the book to get.

A warning, however... the information provided for all the characters, creatures, locations, technology, and vehicles is limited to only official canon sources... which, apparently, is what we know from the movies, novelizations, and animated series. Anything that was elaborated on in the "Expanded Universe" sources is gone, gone, gone as if it never happened. This is a bit sad for fans of the stories that have now gone missing, but I suppose it's for the best in the grand scheme of things now that Disney is revitalizing the franchise.

The retail price of the book is $40. Amazon is selling it for $25, which is a heck of a bargain. The problem being that Amazon doesn't give a shit about getting books to you in good condition anymore. They used to shrink-wrap them to cardboard so the cover wrap would stay pristine and the corners don't get banged up. Now they just toss the thing in a box and put a tiny air pillow on top. Your cover-wrap WILL get fucked up. Your corners WILL get dinged. Which is unfortunate, but that's what a $25 price tag gets you now-a-days.

In any event, as a massive Star Wars whore, I really can't help but give the book a coveted Dave Approved seal...

DK Visual Books Sample

If you're even a passive Star Wars fan, this is $25 well-spent. Go get a copy.



Posted on April 28th, 2015

Dave!Welcome to PART TWO of a discussion about the art that's running in the latest issue of THRICE Fiction Magazine!

If you haven't read PART ONE yet, you should do that first.

And if you haven't downloaded a FREE copy of our April 2015 issue... then you should definitely do that first because, WARNING... SPOILERS MAY ENSUE!

THRICE Fiction No. 13

Putting together an issue of Thrice Fiction is no walk in the park. There's hours of work put into it from myself and others before it all comes together. Once all the art is in, I then get to assemble the Print PDF (for those wanting to purchase a printed copy at MagCloud), the Download PDFs (for those grabbing their FREE copy off our website), and the ePub/Kindle versions (for those who have an e-reader, also available FREE at our website). Then there's proofing, revising, and correcting... it goes on and on. Until it doesn't, then we're done.

There are times along the way where I ask myself "Is this really worth all the time and effort it takes to put this thing together?"

And then I take one look at the finished issue and the answer is always the same... yes, it most definitely is worth it. This issue was more difficult than usual, which made the finished magazine even more worth it.

And in four months we do it all again.

Now on with the second half of the art you'll find in our latest issue...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
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Posted on April 27th, 2015

Dave!Lucky you! There's a brand-spanking-new (and FREE!) issue of Thrice Fiction out today!

As usual, I'll be discussing the artwork that went into our latest issue. This may or may not include spoilers for the stories, so I urge you to please read it before proceeding.

All done? Then off we go...

Our Editor at Large, RW, has long been lobbying to add some comics to Thrice Fiction. On the surface, this sounds easy. But finding the right comics to include in our pages is easier said than done. My first choice was the brilliant stuff that Reza Farazmand is doing over at Poorly Drawn Lines. Not only because I'm a huge fan... but because his work seemed the perfect "fit" for what we're doing.

Not that I expected he would say "yes," of course. Surely he has better things to do than hang out in our little lit mag, right? But nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I worked up some samples of how his work would be presented in Thrice and dashed off an email.

Much to my surprise and delight, Reza not only agreed to let us re-print some of his strips... he also agreed to re-work a panel from one of my favorite Poorly Drawn Lines comics as our cover! And that's how Small Cat came to end up fronting Issue No. 13...

Thrice Fiction No. 13

Glorious, is it not?

And now, for a look at the first half of the art included in this issue, read onward in an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
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Posted on January 3rd, 2015

Dave!Welcome to PART TWO of a discussion about the art that's running in the latest issue of THRICE Fiction Magazine!

If you haven't read PART ONE yet, you should do that first.

And if you haven't downloaded a FREE copy of our December 2014 issue... then you should definitely do that first because, WARNING... SPOILERS MAY ENSUE!

THRICE Fiction No. 12

Last issue I talked about how assembling an issue of THRICE Fiction is like putting together a puzzle. And how I moved things around over and over and over again before I'm happy with how everything fits together. But I glossed over exactly how that happens, which is like this...

THRICE Fiction No. 12

After inputting the stories into Adobe InDesign, I print out half-size pages that I can then move around a big table until I'm happy. Sometimes, if things get too difficult to keep track of, I'll print a second round of pages with color-coding to keep stories and spreads together.

The finalized layout has never come together without a struggle. I change my mind at least a dozen times as I read through the complete magazine over and over trying to make sure that I have created a rhythm from one story to the next, and that everything looks good together. I'll then change my mind a couple more times as I try to figure out which artist would be a good fit for each piece.

This issue came together easier than most, but still took days of working and re-working until I was happy.

And that's how it's done. Low-tech, but effective!

Anyway... to read about the art in the second-half of issue No. 12, click onward to an extended entry.

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
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Posted on January 2nd, 2015

Dave!Hey! Did you know there's a brand new issue of THRICE Fiction out?

Well, there is... and it's totally FREE! Click here to download a copy!

As usual, I'll be discussing the artwork that went into our latest issue. This may or may not include spoilers for the stories, so I urge you to please read it before proceeding.

All done? Then off we go...

This issue's beautiful cover was created by Allen Forrest. The guy has created a lot of covers for lit mags, and we're very lucky to have him gracing ours...

THRICE Fiction No. 12

I try to make sure there's artistic variety in our collection of cover art, and am rather embarrassed that we didn't have any impressionistic pieces yet. To have that oversight rectified with such a great painting is icing on the cake. Thanks so much, Allen!

And now, for a look at the first half of the art included in this issue, read onward in an extended entry...


→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
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Posted on December 27th, 2014

Dave!Since switching to digital comics, I've been more ambitious in trying out new titles. If somebody even hints that they've discovered a great new comic, I'm all over it.

That being said, my list has a lot of the same titles as last year because I'm still digging the same stuff the most.


Best Comics 2014 Part 1

#1 Hawkeye.
Matt Fraction and David Aja continue to crank out brilliant issue after brilliant issue of my favorite comic book. Not only do the stories and art continue to be compelling in a way that other comics can only dream of obtaining, there were some genuine surprises along the way that kept me interested. Truly super-heroics at their best.

#2 Batman.
Just when you think that Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have peaked with their Batman run... the blow past your expectations. Endgame is shaping up to be even more amazing than Court of Owls and Zero Year, and I couldn't be more thrilled that my favorite super-hero is in such great hands. All the reasons I love Batman so much are right here.

#3 Black Science.
I alternatively love everything about this book... and am frustrated for all the things the book is not... but still enjoy it enough to have the title jump to No. 3 on my list. If you're looking for high adventure in the darkest reaches of the universe on bizarre alien worlds, then Black Science is what you've been waiting for. I was hooked with issue No. 1, then completely obsessed by issue No. 5. My enthusiasm has wavered a bit after that, but we're at issue No. 11 now, and I'm as big a fan as ever. Worth your valuable time to check out.

#4 Sex Criminals.
I would have bypassed this book without even looking at it if it weren't for the fact that Matt Fraction (writer of Hawkeye, may favorite book two years running) was behind it. So funny. So wrong. So worth picking up.

#5 Ms. Marvel.
This comic was solicited thusly: "Kamala Khan is just an ordinary girl from Jersey City—until she is suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the all-new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm, and prepare for an epic tale that will be remembered by generations to come." Needless to say, I was completely indifferent, as it seemed an obvious attempt at creating something new from something old in the most contrived, forced way possible ("I know! Let's make her a teenage Muslim!"). That never goes well. Right? Well, in this case it not only went very, very well... it quickly became one of the best books on the shelf month after month. A fantastic comic in most every way, It would not surprise me if Ms. Marvel climbs even higher on my list next year (fingers crossed).

#6 The Multiversity.
DC Comics ended up with a comic book universe that was such a huge mess they unleashed Crisis on Infinite Earths to gut everything and make sense of it all. After streamlining everything to a single, coherent universe, they've subsequently devoted a lot of time to screwing it up with needless complexity all over again. Sometimes for the better... most times for the worst. One of the better moments was Grant Morrison's series of one-shot comics that started this year, collectively known as The Multiversity. Here we're meeting comic characters of alternate earths who only exist to the other earths as comic book stories (Holy Flash of Two Worlds, Batman!). In lesser hands, this concept could have floundered badly, but Morrison has given us 52 parallel universes worth exploring, and it's been a joy to read. I can't wait for the finale come April.

Best Comics 2014 Part 2

#7 Moon Knight.
Warren Ellis took a character I've enjoyed for decades and revitalized him for modern comic book audiences in a way that made me love the character all over again. And, for the first half-dozen issues, it was vying for my favorite comic book month after month. Alas, Ellis left after six issues, and the book (while still pretty darn good) never recovered for me. Still, it's gritty, delicious fun... and as close as Marvel's got to Batman in their corner of the comic book world.

#8 Adventure Time.
I expected that my rabid love of the cartoon show would damn the comic book version to the trash pile, but that's absolutely not the case. If anything, the comic book just makes me love the cartoon even more, and that's about as high praise as I can offer. If you are even a small fan of the TV show, here's the book for you.

#9 Chew.
The fact that this title has dropped two spots from 2013 is no reflection on the quality of the book... only that there was a lot of good material released this year. Because, I'm here to tell you, the past couple issues (No. 44 in particular), John Layman and Rob Guillory have churned out some of the best issues in the history of the book. Cibopath Tony Chu is having adventures even more bizarre and surreal than ever, and if you're not reading this book (and have the stomach for it) you need to get onboard.

#10 Wonder Woman.
This book has ranked very high on my list since it first debuted, and it was all thanks to the imaginative new take on an old standard by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang. They put a heavy mythological slant on Princess Diana that I never liked as well as George Pérez's take, but it all worked well. Very well. Until Azzarello and Chiang's run came to an end this year... not with a bang, but with a "meh." And then they bailed on the title. Leaving us with newcomer writer Meredith Finch, who seems determined to drag the title back to disjointed mediocrity after only two issues. Something tells me that Wonder Woman isn't going to make my list next year, and nobody is sadder about that than me.

#11 Invincible.
Robert Kirkman never seems content with the status quo when it comes to his signature comic book super-hero. Just when you think things are going to calm down, Kirkman takes a hard right into some bizarre new territory that shouldn't be unexpected... but always is. 2014 ended with a bigger bang than usual, which should lead to an even more interesting 2015. For anybody who thought the book had nowhere to go but down after issue #100, the creative team of Invincible spent all year proving you wrong.

#12 She-Hulk.
DAMMIT! I spent all year enjoying each new issue of Shulkie only to find out that it's being canceled with issue No. 12 (which comes out next month). This book truly had it all... not only a fun, smart take on super-heroics, but also terrific courtroom wrangling via She-Hulk's alter-ego Jen Walters (including a face-off with Matt Murdock, AKA Daredevil!). How in the heck this book never caught on is just beyond me. It's everything you read comics for.


Best Comics 2014 Part 3

I snapped up this title on opening day because Mark Millar has a track record of books I enjoy... and was hooked immediately. A larger than life pulp sci-fi hit, this galaxy-spanning tale of Duke McQueen is well worth your time.

Jupiter's Legacy.
My #3 book from last year dropped completely out of my top twelve because of endless delays. Instead of six bi-monthly issues, we were lucky to get two, and there's no telling when/if any more books are even coming. Still, an awesome take on super-heroics by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely.

Flash Gordon.
A very smart take on a timeless sci-fi hero, this book is a joy to read from cover to cover. It kind of took a dip during the summer months, but the last couple of issues for 2014 were fantastic, and things are looking great for 2015. Flash! Ah Aaahhhhh! He'll save every one of us!

Wicked + The Divine.
Every ninety years, twelve of the old gods are reincarnated as teenagers for two short years. The result is pop stars for a new era, and the story takes that concept to strange places.

The Wake.
Batman scribe Scott Snyder's tale of survival horror is still a mind-bogglingly good read.

East of West.
This excellent series has stumbled a bit as of late, but is still a really good read. Jonathan Hickman knows how to create great comic books, and this ultimate battle of Death vs. Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a great example of his talent.


Best Comics 2014 Part 4

Holy crap. Robots vs. aliens has never been like this. A digital comic so good that it's being turned into a printed book as well. No explanation I could give would do the title justice, so I recommend you check it out for yourself.

Alex + Ada.
A sci-fi drama that is surprisingly human... considering it's about androids. This series is very slow and deliberate, so it's not going to appeal to everyone, but if you enjoy your comics with a bit of soul-searching it's worth a look.

A critical and fan favorite, Saga is the best book I can't seem to get into. Yes, it's imaginative and very well-written, but it's more fantasy than fiction, which is just not my thing. Still, I continue to enjoy it enough to keep reading, so here we are.

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