April 19, 2010 by NBM
… We ask you to keep in mind what we published in 2009, most particularly:
The Big Khan
The Year of Loving Dangerously
But also: Joe & Azat, Things Undone, the Dungeon series, Little Nothings, Mijeong, Vatican Hustle, Graylight. We had not much luck with the Eisners, maybe the Harveys? If you’re a comics creator, get your ballot to nominate. Deadline is this Friday!
April 15, 2010 by NBM
“Liberge’s illustrations are very strong. Detailed and moody, each page swirls with dark colors, and Liberge’s strong character work enables readers to immediately emphasize with Bastien and those around him.”
“One of the strangest yet most haunting novels I have been privileged to read.”
Adding another review (4/19) which appears on both Omnivoriacious And Shelfari:
“Perhaps the only thing standing between Liberge and true disbelief is his amazing artwork, which renders the museum and its contents in a dazzling light. Statuary and paintings that you may even have seen in the Louvre, which you may take for granted, become startlingly new due to Liberge’s approach.
I also applaud this willingness to look strange. This is a very dark series, and it speaks volumes that the Louvre’s trustees and administrators seem to revel in allowing others to create odd myths about the museum.”
Alas, though, many reviewers, such as Andrew Wheeler at Antick Musings or Capt. Comics at Scripps News, are not shining to Bastien, the main deaf character, because of his surly behavior. But the man does have a legitimate chip on his shoulder: living as a deaf person in a society that doesn’t understand him, and it is this rebel in him, not always likable, that makes him the right candidate for ‘hearing’ the works of art’s complaint, as it were…
April 14, 2010 by Ted Rall
The Case for Professionalizing the U.S. Military
The number of new U.S. Army recruits who are high-school dropouts soared during the Bush years, peaking at 29.3 percent in 2007. The economic collapse made life easier for military recruiters. “Only” 17 percent of soldiers who joined in 2008 failed to graduate from high school. But high unemployment hasn’t resulted in enough new high-quality soldiers and sailors.
Recruit quality is important. Uneducated or incapable soldiers are less likely to do well operating high-tech equipment. And they’re more likely to do stupid things, like beating up, robbing and raping civilians in U.S.-occupied territories.
The U.S. military is bigger than ever. But it’s becoming dumber. It’s also getting meaner: in 2008 one in five recruits received a “morals waiver” because they had a criminal record, including felonies. “The main reason for the decline in standards is the war in Iraq and its onerous ‘operations tempo’—soldiers going back for third and fourth tours of duty, with no end in sight,” reported Slate’s Fred Kaplan in 2008.
As if that weren’t bad enough, America’s armed services are losing their smartest officers faster than ever. After graduating from West Point, cadets must serve five years. More high-caliber officers are choosing not to reenlist than at any time since the Vietnam War: 44 percent in 2006, up from 18 percent in 2003. Some analysts blame the endless wars against Iraq and Afghanistan.
There isn’t much glory in shooting up buses and taxis at checkpoints in the hot dust of Central Asia and the Middle East. And it doesn’t help that, yellow-ribbon magnets aside, the United States of America doesn’t give a damn about its veterans. Whereas other countries treat their warriors like heroes, providing them with free housing and other benefits, the U.S. uses up and discards them like tissue paper. “Veterans make up almost a quarter of the homeless population in the United States,” reports CNN. “The government says there are as many as 200,000 homeless veterans; the majority served in the Vietnam War. Some served in Korea or even World War II. About 2,000 served in Iraq or Afghanistan.”
Higher salaries would increase the military’s applicant pool and thus the quality and quantity of enlistees. But no one ever talks about the most obvious way to professionalize the U.S. military: treat servicemen and servicewomen like professionals.
Consider my experience.
Motivated by curiosity, contrarian rebellion and the loss of my full scholarship due to the Reagan budget cuts, I went down to my local Army recruiting station during the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college. I thought perhaps there was some way to finance the remainder of my education by doing military service. The recruiter set up an appointment for me to take an aptitude test.
Then the phone calls began. They were excited. Apparently I had gotten a perfect score. This didn’t happen often.
Which didn’t surprise me. Two things leapt out at me when I took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. First: it was appallingly easy. I was an AP student; I hadn’t seen material so simple since elementary school. Second: the other guys taking the test were dolts. Where did they find such losers? Even my school’s shop classes didn’t feature such a sad collection of yahoos, misfits and morons.
Allowing for the obvious seduce-and-destroy tactics of Army recruiters, I did believe that they wanted me more than the average schlub who took the ASVAB. I was a straight-A student. All my test scores were in the top percentile, including a perfect score on the math SAT. I’d gotten into Columbia University’s engineering program. I knew I was a catch.
I went in to talk.
One recruiter handed me a brochure. One of the photos showed a German village. “You’ll probably be sent to Germany,” he said. Probably.
“Can you put that in writing?”
Of course not. You go where they send you. That’s the Army way. The military way. But look at it from the viewpoint of an 18-year-old. I had options! I could stay in school, take out student loans, earn a degree and get recruited by some deep-pocketed defense contractor. A deep-pocketed defense contractor that couldn’t make me pack up and ship off to, say, Afghanistan or Iraq. A deep-pocketed defense contractor whose job I could quit just like that.
I was drawing cartoons and doing reporting for my campus newspaper.
“You’ll almost certainly end up as a military journalist,” the other recruiter said. “Stars and Stripes. Would you like that?”
Well, shucks and golly gee, why not? I’d be another Bill Mauldin! “Will you guarantee that?” I asked.
Nope. You do what they assign you to do. Where they tell you to do it. For as long as they want you to do it.
“Can I put in a request for the kind of job I’d prefer?” I asked. “Or for where I’d like to be stationed?”
There was a pause. The two men glanced at each other. I noticed a smirk, ever so slight, on one of their faces. As I knew it would be, the answer was a lie:
“Well, um, sure, I suppose we could submit your preferences,” the liar-recruiter lied.
“No reason why not,” the other one chimed in.
They only had one real carrot: the college tuition program. I was looking at paying $13,000 a year in tuition and fees. They were offering $4,000 a year for one term of enlistment. Actually, “up to $4,000.”
If the military wants to attract smart young men and women like I used to be, with high test scores and clean criminal records, they’re going to have to start treating recruits like employees, not slaves or indentured servants. Fix enlistment terms, abolish both the current “stop-loss” rule scheduled to end next year and commit never to start a new one. Let people choose their jobs. (They can request one now. That’s not enough.) Let people decide where they want to serve. If a brilliant recruit doesn’t want to go to Afghanistan, why not let her serve elsewhere? The intelligent, independent thinkers a 21st century military needs demand and deserve the same respect they would enjoy in the private sector.
What about war? Shouldn’t a president be able to send troops wherever he wants, consent be damned?
When the public supports a war, there are plenty of volunteers and enlisted men and women ready to go and fight. If there aren’t enough people willing to go, there isn’t enough political will to win. No one should be asked to fight—or die—for a cause they don’t believe in.
(Ted Rall is working on a radical political manifesto for publication this fall. His website is tedrall.com.)
COPYRIGHT 2010 TED RALL
April 12, 2010 by NBM
A post over at Manga critic that makes us blush. Around an exhibit of Manhwa and a list provided there of the best, this critic sought to make a revision and added two of our 3 manhwas to a top ten must-read list: Run Bon-Gu, Run and at the very top: Buja’s Diary.
April 12, 2010 by NBM
“Her black and white artwork is unique and comical. This is a terrific first effort and I look forward to more from Ms. Allen.”
Realms of Fantasy will soon have this review by Andrew Wheeler:
“[Tesana]’s soon being chased by a large and varied cast of ne’er-do-wells, stage magicians, animal rights activists, nasty pet-shop owners, and – scariest of all – her own mother. Throughout it all, Allen has a light touch with her dialogue and a great eye for caricature and grotesquerie in her pen. This isn’t a major graphic novel, but it’s a great romp and a wonderful debut.”
April 12, 2010 by NBM
Saturday was a busy day at the MoCCA Fest last weekend, definitely an upbeat event with many who came ready to buy.
One of the hits was the premiere of A Home for Mr. Easter, Brooke A. Allen‘s debut graphic novel. It sold out by mid-afternoon of that day. We had to go back to the office to scrounge for more copies for Sunday! The book was also a featured give-away at the MoCCA after-party which was packed that evening.
This wasn’t the only book that sold well. Greg Houston’s Vatican Hustle also sold out that day which meant having to cancel his appearance on Sunday… Ted Rall sold all of his books and so did Neil Kleid and Nicolas Cinquegrani of The Big Khan.
Nice to see such enthusiasm and also nice to see this show pulled off without any hitches we were aware of, in a venue with a comfortable temperature level (last year’s was sweltering).
April 9, 2010 by NBM
Re-posting this from Brian Heater’s Cross Hatch:
“The always-amazing Paul Pope was kind enough to create the poster for the official MoCCA after party (designed by the folks at Dark Igloo). The party is this Saturday, after the festival. There will be live comics readings from the likes of R. Sikoryak and Michael Kupperman; DJ sets from Pope, Dean Haspiel, and myself; live rapping from one of Top Shelf’s Swedish artists; giveaways; and lots more.”
And we’ll add that the first 25 who show up, we’re giving away free copies of A Home for Mr. Easter!
See ya there.
April 8, 2010 by NBM
The MoCCA Festival is coming right up, here in NYC this weekend of April 10 and we’ll be busy with quite a few of our authors appearing! Come and meet:
Brooke A. Allen premiering our brand new ‘A Home for Mr. Easter.’
Greg Houston (Vatican Hustle)
Neil Kleid and Nicolas Cinquegrani (The Big Khan, Brownsville)
Ted Rall (The Year of Loving Dangerously) but also with ‘A Silk Road to Ruin’ about Central Asia which is astir with Kyrgyztan’s revolution.
Here’s the schedule of their appearances:
11-1: Brooke Allen & Ted Rall
1-2: Nicolas Cinquegrani
1-4: Greg Houston
2-4 Brooke Allen
4-5: Nicolas Cinquegrani
4-6 Ted Rall
11-1: Ted Rall
noon-1: Neil Kleid/Nicolas Cinquegrani
1-4: Brooke Allen
1-3: Greg Houston
And of course, we’ll be bringing our latest graphic novels for sale besides these guys’!
Meet ya there.
April 8, 2010 by Ted Rall
As you probably know, I have traveled extensively through Central Asia. Among my favorite nations there is the Kyrgyz Republic. Despite formidable challenges—as one of the Central Asian republics without reserves of natural gas or oil, it is one of the poorest, with an average income of about $30 a month—its people are kind and hospitable. Known as the “Switzerland of Central Asia” because of its beautiful Tian Shan mountains, it is also a mecca for outdoorsmen of all kinds, particularly alpinists and white-water rafters.
I am sad about the violence in Bishkek but optimistic that the results will benefit the Kyrgyz people. That is, as long as the United States stays out of it.
During the 1990s Kyrgyzstan was Central Asia’s great democratic hope: the only CAR with a democratically-elected president, Askar Akayev, a math professor. The other CARs were, and still are, run by Soviet-era Communist Party bosses as authoritarian states.
In the late 1990s the World Bank and IMF pressed loans upon the Kyrgyz government that it could not afford, then imposed structural adjustment policies that precipitated economic collapse.
After 9/11 the Bush Administration pressed Kyrgyzstan to accept a U.S. airbase at Manas Airport near Bishkek to supply the occupation of Afghanistan. In typical Central Asian style, the Kyrgyz accepted nominal rent, then asked for an increase after the troops were installed.
The Bush Administration was incensed. They decided to oust Akayev and, in 2005, CIA-backed insurgents from the Muslim heartland of Osh, in the Ferghana Valley, stormed the presidential palace in Bishkek. Akayev ordered security forces not to fire, and he fled into exile. He is now a mathematics professor at Moscow State University.
An Osh-based politician, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, took over. Proving my oft-stated dictum that any bad situation can become worse, Bakiyev brought authoritarian rule to Kyrgyzstan. Opposition politicians were murdered and “disappeared.” Southern provinces fell under the control of local warlords. Corruption escalated; he was reelected in elections that international monitors described as completely tainted. Bakiyev’s men looted what little was left of the country, plunging the economy into freefall.
Misery escalated, and thousands of men with nothing to lose have been fighting with security forces in Bishkek for the past few days.
At its heart, this is a conflict between the Sovietized secular north, from which Akayev came, and the Muslim south, home to Bakiyev.
The current unrest will have sweeping psychological effects upon neighboring states, as the Kyrgyz are widely considered the peacekeepers of the region. When border disputes break out between other CARs, Kyrgyz mediators are often called in to settle them.
There will also be repercussions for the U.S. Not only could we be ejected from the airbase, anti-Americanism could escalate. After all, Bakiyev and the misery over which he presided was in no small measure the fault of U.S. foreign policy.
The worst-case scenario would be civil war. Bakiyev is said to be hiding in Osh, the country’s largest city. Were he to try to rally his forces to retake the capital, the bloodshed could be extraordinary.
The Obama Administration, closely linked to the Bakiyev regime, would be well advised to stay out of Kyrgyz politics and lock down the airbase at Manas before recognizing whatever new regime takes power. One can only hope that secular democratic forces take over the government and restore Kyrgyzstan to its rightful place as the friendliest, most beautiful nation in Central Asia.
For further information about Kyrgyzstan, the 2005 Tulip Revolution that overthrew President Akayev, and Central Asia in general, please check out my book Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?
Also worth checking out for breaking news from Central Asia is EurasiaNet.org.
PRESS INQUIRIES: I am available for comment and interviews about the situation in Kyrgyzstan. Please contact: email@example.com
April 8, 2010 by NBM
As Kyrgyztan goes up in riots and the government may be toppled, you might find SILK ROAD TO RUIN (scroll down) a fascinating way to find out more about this country and the others around it which also have been ruled by petty dictators. The book is a series of travelog articles, comics chapters and fun facts about Central Asia as compiled by Ted Rall…
Once again, as for Afghanistan where’s he’s returning, looks like Rall predicted this powder keg pretty well…