Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category


For those who worry that a year spent writing a novel will mean a year with no comics from me (awww… thank you hypothetical fan, too kind), you’ll be glad to know that won’t be the case. I will have short stories featured in PopGun Vol. 4, Outlaw Territory Vol. 3, the roller derby anthology from Oni Press, plus another anthology searching for a publisher. That’s four comics right there. ASTRONAUT DAD is finished (as previously mentioned), and I completed the first draft for HOW TO LOSE BIG. So that’s six. Brock and I are working on EMILY EDISON 2. The synopsis is shaping up nicely. That’s a potential seventh comic. And by the time all this stuff arrives at your neighborhood retailer, the novel (which we’re not supposed to talk about) will be finished. Hopefully. And I’ll be ready to write more comics.

It’s a perfect plan.


I have a superstition. I believe that the more you talk about a book (before it’s finished) the less likely it will happen. If I go on and on, it jinxes the book. I have evidence to support this claim. Think of all those friends who told you they were writing a novel.

Now, where is that novel?

So, it is with great fear that I tell everyone: this week, I’m starting my novel. Yes, an actual novel.

I spent the summer finishing KARMA INCORPORATED: VICE & VIRTUE and HOW TO LOSE BIG in order to clear some room in my schedule. With the exception of an occasional short story or Souvenir of Dallas comic, I plan to focus solely on the novel. Before any of you recommend NaNoWriMo as a solution to getting my novel done… no. This isn’t an experiment or a dare. This novel is a thoughtful and passionate endeavor. In that regard, it’s no different from any other story I’ve written. At the same time, it’s a frickin’ novel. I haven’t written one of those before.

I have the synopsis more or less finished. I’ve decided to no longer pursue BOLIVAR as a graphic novel. I’ve changed the title, re-worked the plot, and trying it as literary prose. I feel good about it. The story was too big as a graphic novel. I kept taking short cuts to reduce the page count for the artist. Now, the only one I’m punishing is myself.

This novel is three stories in one — a mythic journey into the spirit world, a family’s experience during World War II, and a glimpse into the ghosts of Galveston’s tragic history. It’s an American fantasy. Folklore, mythology, religion, and fairy tales all mix together. Think Carnivale, Bayou, Pan’s Labyrinth, and American Gods.

“I never go back to the Island without sensing the ghosts. I can’t think of a place where they run thicker.” – Gary Cartwright, Galveston: A History of The Island

There you go. I’m going to shut up now. Hopefully to avoid the jinx.


The latest SOUVENIR OF DALLAS, written by me and illustrated by Paul Milligan, is now available in the August issue of D Magazine. We’re featured in the “Best of Big D” section (click here and scroll down).

This particular comic is about the “best comic book store” in Dallas. I’ll admit it was fun to write, but difficult to share. We have several of the best comic book stores in the country located right here. The notion of choosing one is difficult for me. Thus, the comic was about that very issue. We narrowed it down to Zeus and Titan for obvious reasons. Both stores are routinely praised in the Dallas Observer, D Magazine, and other local publications. Both stores have received national recognition. Both stores have been incredibly supportive of local, independent, and small press comic book creators. Also, the mythological nature of their names created a nice angle for the story.

In praising these two stores, I do not wish to take anything away from the other great stores in Dallas.

A friend on Facebook commented, “I love how Lone Star Comics Dallas isn’t even worth a mention.” Yeah, well… it wasn’t an intentional slight. Lone Star Comics was the first comic book store I ever visited as a kid. My dad would take me almost every time we got into the car. I’ve had several signing events hosted by Lone Star. And they have quite a few of my comics available on their website, including the sold out blue cover of Karma Incorporated #1. I like their new Arlington location near my house. They are one of the largest and oldest comic book stores in Texas (history), and their logo features a cowboy riding a unicorn.

Why the diplomacy? Why not admit I’m madly in love with Zeus and hate everyone else?

Yes, I heart Zeus. Favorite store. The people who work there are my dear friends. Being present to see Richard accept the Eisner Award was my best Comic-Con experience. They are my home base. They support me. The customers support me. I know if my comic book aspirations completely fall apart, I could still draw a mini-comic on some typing paper, fold it in half, staple it, sell it in front of Zeus, and make money for food that day. (Let’s hope it doesn’t get that dire.) More importantly, I support them. I believe they are the best model for success as comic book retailers.

And yet, whether it’s Lone Star, Titan, Keith’s, Madness, Comic Asylum, or Zeus, if you make your living selling comic books, you already had me at hello. The Dallas/Fort Worth area is big enough for everyone to be successful — to find new fans, new readers, and help promote this quirky, sometimes misunderstood and typecasted, artistic medium known as comics.


Author Frank McCourt died yesterday of cancer (full report here). He was a public school teacher. He taught English and Creative Writing, just like me. McCourt wrote with such honesty. His stories made me laugh. More often, they made me cry. No one has pathos like Frank McCourt. It sounds silly if you’ve never read a great book before, but he was a friend. I projected myself into his stories. He was me. I was him.

I’ve quoted him in my classroom. I’ve read excerpts from ANGELA’S ASHES every year since I started teaching. He made me wish I lived in New York. He made me wish I was a few generations closer to my Irish ancestry. In a culture where I feel the need to continually apologize for my profession, he made me proud to be a teacher.

From an article in the Harvard University Gazette:

When the floor at Gutman was opened to questions and McCourt was asked what can be done about the “ineffectiveness of public school teaching,” he had a ready answer: “Reduce class size and increase teachers’ salaries.”

Truly, I adore Frank McCourt.

He also said that something had to be done to increase the social status of teachers – so that mothers coo about “my son the teacher” the same way they go on about “my son the investment banker.” Teachers need to become like the movie-star heroes of the “New Ireland,” Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan, and Colin Farrell. “Teachers need to become sexy.”

Frank McCourt had a miserable childhood, such a difficult life overall, and yet he wrote about the world with a smile. And now that he’s gone, I can’t help but shed a few tears for a person I never met.


As Brent mentioned on his blog, he finished the art for ASTRONAUT DAD a few days ago. The entire story is done, all 160 pages — making it my largest comic book project thus far.

It’s also the one I’ve been working on the longest. ASTRONAUT DAD was the second comic book script I ever wrote. Initially, I wrote a five issue series called THE INSIGHT, which will forever remain hidden away. It was part of my learning curve and never meant for human consumption. (Best advice to a new writers: throw away your first attempt! Let it go and move on.) However, then in 2003, I wrote ASTRONAUT DAD.

The original idea was to do something reminiscent of the Silver Age Fantastic Four. The kids would be super adventurers, and the parents would be involved in NASA. It was a weak premise. Eventually, I made an important decision to strip away the adventure/fantasy aspects and make it more personal. I re-focused on the families, specifically how children perceive their fathers as the kids come of age. (Tangent: These two people had an interesting discussion on this aspect of ASTRONAUT DAD. Click here.)

I did about six months of research on NASA and the Cold War, took extensive notes, bought old copies of LIFE magazine, watched quite a few documentaries, and read Tom Wolfe’s THE RIGHT STUFF. I put together character outlines and a detailed treatment of the plot. The first draft of this script only took a month. Actually, I think (my memory is fuzzy) I wrote the last chapter in one day, one very long day. Read more


I buy scriptwriting software for the same reasons why people buy a gym membership. First, I hope the purchase will obligate me to use it. In other words, I spent hundreds of dollars on a writing program, so I better write more often. This “need to write more often” is the greatest guilt. I stayed up until 2 AM last night finishing chapter 2 of HOW TO LOSE BIG, and I still feel like I didn’t get enough done. Buying something, scriptwriting software or gym membership, will not magically shift priorities. Second, I want to be more like those people who use it — you know, “real” writers. Most creative communities spend a lot of needless energy establishing imaginary lines between the legitimate and the posers. What makes someone a real writer? Did they get published? Did a reputable publisher publish them? Are they making a living from it? How many people follow them on Twitter? It is silly and immature, but sometimes when you buy screenwriting software you are purchasing empty validation. Third, I hope that using it will somehow make me better at what I already do. You reach a ceiling in your progress and you start scraping for any perceived advantage it might intrinsically possess. How much time and energy am I really saving with auto-margins and macros for character names? In the end, like a gym membership, it only works if it’s something that already fits your needs and disposition. Some people want to get a trainer, lift weights, and sculpt their abs. Me? I’d like to pay a few dollars to play basketball every now and then, which I can do for free at a public park.

A few days ago, I was given the opportunity to evaluate the Movie Magic Screenwriter software, including the Streamline plug-in and the Dramatica Pro program – all developed by Write Brothers, Inc. I already have Final Draft 7 and the Celtx free download. I haven’t been 100% satisfied with either, so I was anxious to see if Screenwriter was any better. And hey, they took the time to ask a comic book writer for his opinion. Bonus points already.

The problem with most scriptwriting programs is they were never intended for comic book writers. It is first and foremost a screenwriter’s tool. Often these programs can be adapted to suit the needs of a comic book writer, but it is an attempt to fit a square peg in a round hole. They all fail on one fundamental distinction. A screenwriter needs a rigid program to format his script exactly how the industry wants it to look. In contrast, there is no industry standard for comic book scripts. A comic book writer is corresponding directly with the artist and maybe an editor. As such, the software needs to be flexible to suit the tastes and varied format preferences of the individual comic book writer. Final Draft 7 and Celtx fall short as comic book friendly software. Movie Magic Screenwriter is the superior program for comic book writers.

Let’s start where it counts, the templates. Movie Magic Screenwriter 6 has two different comic book templates. The generic one lines the character name with the dialogue, i.e. more like a playwright would. The Gossett-Kayle comic book format (developed by the creators of The Red Star) is more like a screenplay hybrid with character names centered over the indented dialogue. I prefer the generic template, because it saves space, but for people who are more comfortable with the screenplay look. Knock yourself out. Either is available. I fear that an “industry standard” script format is going to become reality in the near future, but I’d like to fight it for a while longer. As long as the script is clear to the artist and follows standard logic, I use the format that works best for me. (Random side note: The novel template looks great. I can’t wait to play with it.)

The best thing about these templates is that they can be adjusted and customized, if you know where to look.

For instance, the dialogue defaults to all caps. It makes sense since 90% of all comic book dialogue is lettered in all caps. However, for some odd reason, I prefer to write dialogue in normal upper case/lower case style. Reason? I spend a lot of time tweaking dialogue, and it’s easier if I can read it as something that you would see in a novel, play, or screenplay (upper case/lower case). The all caps shouts at me when it’s not in the context of comic book art. Simply go to the “style” button and change it. It can easily be moved back and forth, if you need to do that.

Screenwriter has Normal Word Processor mode. It’s helpful, if you need to embed some long bits of prose or if the macros simply aren’t obeying you. Slap ‘em and down, switch to something more familiar.

In Screenwriter, one space after a sentence automatically becomes two spaces. This drove me crazy. With monotype fonts (such as Courier) people generally use two spaces. Professional typesetters, designers, and desktop publishers generally use one space. I prefer one space. Finally, I found how to change it in the Preferences section under “Spelling” at the bottom: Auto-Space sentences.

I did have two issues where I needed to call customer service. It took five minutes to get through, but when I did the person on the other end was helpful. He didn’t quite understand why I wanted to deviate from the template. Once again: comic book writers are weird like that. First issue, when I typed “panel” it automatically recognized this as a scene heading and underlined it. While I want my pages underlined and identified with the scene heading label, I do not want the panels underlined. Customer service told me to click “Format” then “User Lists.” Delete the panel, and all is well. (The “User Lists” area also lets you add new extensions. For instance, they had OP for “off panel,” but I also needed an “OP w/o pointer.”) Second issue, every time I hit return after my page number, it wants to add a “continued” or “panels per page” indicator. I honestly don’t know how many panels a page is going to be until after I write the page. Even still, I may not want to include it. I was tired of hitting return and then “v” for “nevermind,” leading me to the next line. This matter was solved in the preferences sections under the editing tab.

I realize by changing the template I may have limited some of the nifty outline and NaviDoc potential. However, the point is this: With Movie Magic Screenwriter, it may take a day or two, but once you figure everything out, you can get your comic book script looking exactly how you want it to look. It will accommodate all your idiosyncratic format issues. Other screenwriting software hasn’t been as understanding.

Another important issue is importing scripts from other programs. Moving Final Draft documents to Screenwriting is easy. Copy all, paste, and use the “most aggressive interpretation of the source text.” Afterward, a quick look to make sure you didn’t miss anything and you’re done. Importing my comic scripts from MS Word is not as handy, but the key commands are intuitive enough for you to move things around without too much trouble.

Of all the features it offers, I wish Screenwriter had a window available for my synopsis. It has a notes section and an outline feature, but I need a good notepad area. I usually write a four-page synopsis of the story, and compose the script based on that synopsis. Right now, I have to open MS Word and then move it next to Screenwriter. It’d be nice to have everything side by side on one program. Also you can’t paste inside a note, maybe I missed the option to change that, but it’d be nice if I could.

The note function is interesting, but I haven’t had a chance to use it much. You can place various notes throughout your script, which when it comes time to print, will magically disappear. Or you can print all your notes together.

A few issues I hope they correct in future versions. The “find” function is a little wonky. Once you perform a word search, the search window closes and you have to hit “command G” to find the next word. It’s not the most user-friendly approach. The “Mark one character’s dialogue” is a sweet function. Although, it’s not readily obvious how you unmark the dialogue. If you want to do it later, control Z won’t save you. From what I could figure out, you have to manually delete it in the “Show Format Codes” view. Not cool.

Here’s some more of the good stuff. The smaller details. When saving as a pdf, the pdf will page jump by script pages not actual pages. This is nice, and it makes sense. The word count will show you total words and words of dialogue — to see how your ratio of panel description to dialogue stacks up. It was edifying to see I’d written 10,144 words in the HOW TO LOSE BIG script (3,183 words of dialogue). Change character name function. I could’ve used it last week, and I will need it in the future. I’m rarely content with the names. You can password protect a script. I don’t know if it’s necessary, but who knows when I might need to write something super secret? I haven’t used the “Speak Selection” yet, but if it’s anything like the Final Draft 7 voice reader, I’ll be happy. At a first glance, it looks like you can choose what elements to read, which is nice if I want to only hear the dialogue and not my laborious panel descriptions.

Streamline is an add-on plug-in you can purchase to increase the power of your Screenwriting software. It identifies small word changes or edits you can make to reduce your total number of pages. In Hollywood, where script size equals movie length, this would be important. With a comic book writer, it wouldn’t make much of a difference. I still like the add-on because I’m such a freak about being concise. I was raised in the William Zinsser school of writing. Streamline pointed out there could be a shorter word to replace “overweight.” You caught my evasive euphemistic language.

I was also shown the Dramatica Pro software. However, I might write a review of it later. I need more time to form an opinion. It’s a program based around an entire writing theory, helpful for anyone needing a coach — to help them dig through their plot, themes, and characters, to ask the right questions etc. I’ll admit I’m leery of hippy-dippy phrases like “storyweaving” and the writer’s “dreamkit,” which Dramatica has in abundance. Their website also hosts writers’ group meetings. I’ll pass. Confession: I normally don’t like hanging out with other writers. Sorry. I’m a betta fish, happy to swim in my own bowl. I like being alone when I work. Even writing partners make me cringe a little. Also, my process tends to be wonderfully messy and efficient in such a way I wonder how Dramatica Pro would help. I’ll give it a try. If anyone beats me to it, email me and let me know what you thought.

Like a gym membership (here’s the part where I tie the ending to my first paragraph…), it’s not for everyone. However, if you are going to buy a screenwriting program, Movie Magic Screenwriter is the one I’d recommend. It’s most flexible for nitpicky comic book writers who want the benefits of specialized software without feeling like the program was intended for someone else.


Last night, I sent Brock Rizy the complete synopsis for EMILY EDISON VOL. 2. Can’t give any details at this point. I love the first volume, but this follow-up is going to be so much better. 200% more awesome and possibly eligible for a Guinness World Record. (Not kidding. I’m going to look into it.)

Beyond that, I hope to finish scripting chapter 2 of HOW TO LOSE BIG by tomorrow.

Also, I’m thinking about which conventions I want to attend for 2010. Financially, I’ve been in no shape to pay for any trips, but things are looking better. Right now, I’m planning on a booth for Stumptown in Portland and MoCCA Art Fest in New York. I want to attend Comic-Con next year, but no booth, and maybe just Wednesday night through Friday. Any thoughts on “must attend” conventions and why?


This week, Paul Milligan and I are working on SOUVENIR OF DALLAS for the August D Magazine. Oh yes, the Best of Big D issue. Here’s a portion of our email conversation to work through the details.

TIM: Arrows! Can I get arrows pointing from the ID boxes to the people? You’ve used arrows in the past. I like arrows. They are pointy.

DAVID: Agree on the arrows. Dammit, Paul, we like our arrows! 🙂

PAUL: I know, I know! It’s just a rough!!! Just assume from now on that if you don’t see arrows but think you should, they will eventually be there. 🙂

DAVID: Paul, all this talking, and I still don’t see no damn arrows on this rough file! I’m waiting.

TIM: You guys are awesome. Next time, the arrows are on me. My treat.

PAUL: Wait… where do the arrows go again?

DAVID: I have a few ideas on where you could put those arrows…

See? We are absolute professionals.


I’m working on a KARMA INCORPORATED script book, which will print through Lulu. It should be ready in time for Dallas Comic Con. This book will have the complete scripts for volume one POOR MR. WILSON and the unreleased volume two VICE AND VIRTUE. It’ll be the only place where you can read what happens in VICE AND VIRTUE. I completed chapter four just for this book. As an extra, I included the script for “50 Miles to Marfa” and “The Heist and The Heart Attack,” short stories from PopGun. Paul Milligan is working on the cover. He’s done some great cover work for our friend.

I finished the book’s introduction yesterday, and decided to share it. If you notice any glaring errors, by all means, let me know before I print.


I was bored one Saturday afternoon. I had an idea for a comic book and decided to create a “teaser” using some film editing software. White text on a dark screen with rain pouring down, Mr. Blue Skies by ELO as the music.

“Stuck in traffic. Girlfriend left. Milk went sour. Toilet backs up. Lost your job. Flat tire. IRS audit. Flight delay. Lost your wallet. Dog ran away. Computer crashes. What if it’s not all coincidence? KARMA INCORPORATED. Let us ruin someone’s day. A new comic book by David Hopkins. Currently in production (if nothing goes wrong).” +

I didn’t have a story, characters, or an artist. It was just an idea. I watched the trailer about 50 times. Then I asked Melissa to take a look. “Cool. That’s your best idea so far. You should go with it.” Like all great advice, I didn’t take it. Not at first.

Instead, I worked on a proposal for Viper Comics called Rocket Science. Think 1950’s alien invasion with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys as our only hope. I took the proposal to the San Diego Comic Con. While there, I talked with my friend Paul Kilpatrick at Antarctic Press. He asked me what I was working on. I casually mentioned Karma Incorporated. He said, “That’s a cool idea. Could you email me more about it?” Uh, sure. Then only a few minutes later, Viper rejected Rocket Science. However, I was so excited about things with Antarctic Press, I said, “That’s cool. I think Antarctic Press is interested in another story I have.” This got the attention of Jessie Garza at Viper. “Really? What is it?” I explained Karma Incorporated to him too. His response was almost immediate. They wanted to publish it. Do you have the first issue written? “Yes.” I lied.

Once home from San Diego, I emailed Paul to say Viper wanted Karma Incorporated. I thought it’d be a good fit there. All was copacetic. Then I wrote the synopsis and first issue within a week. It wasn’t perfect, but I could always edit later. The challenge was to find an artist. On August 5, 2004, I emailed Tom Kurzanski. I sent him my “teaser” video, told him Viper Comics was interested, and asked if he would like to illustrate Karma Incorporated. Tom and I were already working on an adaptation of Antigone, which we’d later publish with Silent Devil. Tom emailed me that same day and said yes.

Let me take a moment to say nice things about Tom. More than any other person, I owe Tom my break in comics and helping me become a better writer. It takes a brave person to undertake a project with an unproven writer. Without him, Karma Incorporated would still only be an idea. He didn’t fight the script, but allowed me to see it just as I wrote it, which helped me understand how a script works. He gave dramatic and visual depth to scenes I could only vaguely visualize. Tom read each script and gave me notes. He wasn’t only the artist; he was the editor. These notes were invaluable. I especially remember the countless rewrites on the epilogue. You don’t learn anything from a first draft. By your fifth and sixth draft? You’re tired, angry and grasping for words, and you’re a writer damn it. If Tom was going to illustrate my story, he expected it to be good. I was lucky in that Tom’s style mirrored the type of quirky stories I hoped to write, something with range and something distinctive.

Within a year, we had a comic book on the shelves. Sales were low. Reviews were generally positive. (My favorite was from “We’re enjoying the hell out of this book: it’s funny, it’s got a nice trace of bitterness, and we have no idea where the hell it’s going.”) We had a few bona fide fans. People wanted more Karma Incorporated. I certainly wanted more Karma Incorporated.

I started work on the follow up immediately after writing the first series. Whereas Poor Mr. Wilson was about the aftermath of a job gone horribly wrong, a story about them getting a dose of their own medicine, Vice and Virtue would be about the job itself, the planning and the execution. It would be their biggest target, the mayor of Dallas. I added a subplot with Terry, hinted at in the first series. The third chapter was entirely devoted to this storyline. I gave Malcolm a larger role, which was important. Vice and Virtue upped the stakes.

We lost momentum during this process. It took a year for Viper to approve the second series. While waiting, Tom and I shifted our attention to Antigone. I also started work on Emily Edison with Brock Rizy and Astronaut Dad with Brent Schoonover. And for personal reasons, there were other delays. The delays became an albatross. So much so that I doubt Vice and Virtue will ever see print.

I realize “never say never.” Indie projects tend to have a timeline all there own. There will certainly be more Hopkins/Kurzanski collaborations in the future. The best hope for more Karma Incorporated could be on the Hollywood end of things. Viper Comics is pretty aggressive in getting their properties optioned. (Did anyone see the Middleman on ABC Family? Incredible.) Karma Incorporated has always had people interested in it for a TV series. I had an hour-long phone conversation with one writer/producer. His take would be very faithful to the original comic. Perhaps I’ve said too much? Anyways, such a development, if it were to happen, might bring Karma Incorporated back. Might.

Until then, I decided it would be nice to make the Vice and Virtue script available to people who are curious about where the story was going — or for people who just like reading comic book scripts. Vice and Virtue was a series intended to wrap things up. However, it opened some doors to future stories. There’s a great long-term antagonist in Mayor Kathy Graham. She’s Professor Moriarty to Marsha’s Sherlock Holmes. There are still things left undone. You haven’t met Marsha’s son Carson who is only briefly mentioned. And other things, I wouldn’t want to spoil.

In a perfect world where I have thousands of faithful readers and limitless resources, where would the series go after Vice and Virtue? Volume 3 would be an origin story. I would start where a certain flashback in chapter 3 of the second series left off. Each chapter would focus on a single character and how they joined Karma Incorporated. The story would show Marsha and Terry putting everything in place. Volume 4 would deal with the personal lives of each member more — their respective families. Volume 5 would bring back Mayor Kathy Graham and the FBI hunting after Susan. Also, I’d finally insert a storyline I planned from the first issue — a budding, albeit awkward, relationship between two members of Karma Incorporated. Volume 6 would mark the return of a main character who disappears at the end of Vice and Virtue. Once again, I don’t want to spoil anything. After you read the script, you’ll know.

I also included two short stories in this script book. These stories are part of the PopGun anthology from Image Comics, “50 Miles to Marfa” and “The Heist and The Heart Attack.” Len and Stag, two grifters, attempt a bank robbery in west Texas. It felt like a good fit, certainly written with the same mindset for mischief.

Thank you Paul Milligan for designing the cover. Thank you A.C. Hall for teaching me how to format my Word documents to be book ready. Thank you Scott Hinze for teaching me the word “Schadenfreude.” Thank you Tom Kurzanski and the incredibly talented Marlena Hall. Thank you Viper Comics, Scott Agostoni, Mike Werb, and Ice Cube. Thank you to anyone else who has taken an interest in Karma Incorporated.

David Hopkins,
June 14, 2009


Here are the comics I ordered this week from Zeus Comics.

INVINCIBLE, VOL. 10: WHO’S THE BOSS by Robert Kirkman and Ryan Ottley (Image Comics). I’ve said this before, but INVINCIBLE is my favorite super hero comic. Actually, nowadays, it may be the only super hero comic I read — unless you count UMBRELLA ACADEMY. Kirkman’s work is always enjoyable. I love how he sets up future storylines and slowly builds the plot over several issues. I love how his characters truly talk to each other. They work stuff out. They have mature, sensible conversations. Read most comic books (mine included) and the interactions sound like bad community theater. “Stop that!” “I will not!” “You better or you’ll be sorry.” “You’re acting like Dad.” “How could you say such a thing!” Ugh. In contrast, Kirkman’s dialogue is patient and intelligent — note the beautiful scene between Mark and Eve during their first real date.

PLUTO: URASAWA X TEZUKA, VOL. 3 by Naoki Urasawa (VIZ Media). Between PLUTO and MONSTER (I’m on vol. 6 right now), I absolutely love Naoki Urasawa. This guy can tell a story. Every chapter is a seminar on how take your reader by the throat. I’d consider Urasawa a perfect recommendation for people who swear they don’t like manga. And yes, 20TH CENTURY BOYS is next on my reading list.

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