December 31, 2013

A Glimpse into the Creative Process of Alex Chiu

December 30, 2013

1,000th Post! A Look Back and Thanks Given.

I've posted 1,000 things in 1,000 days on this blog.
I thought that I should mark that event with a post about the 1,000 posts.

So here it is.

YOUR CHICKEN ENEMY started out as a repository for all my critical writing -- a resume, as it were, for a job hunt (I think). While this site continues to feature much of my writing, along the way it has morphed into a mood journal, an interactive art piece, an opportunity to share, a definition of self.

It's also a daily reminder that I am still here and a mirror onto the man I've become.

And that's Your Chicken Enemy.

As for the writing I've featured here, much of what is truly good was previously published on Comics Bulletin (which you should be checking daily as it features some of the smartest, most insightful, and well-written criticism of comics available anywhere on the web). Some of my favorite pieces were written in collaboration, and I would just like to take a moment to thank a few fellow writers (indulge me, it's my celebration after all).

December 27, 2013

Review -- Charles Forsman's SNAKE OIL #8

Snake Oil #8

(Charles Forsman)
4.5 stars
There are a number of cartoonists working today who deal with the pathos of existence by couching it in absurdist humor. Artists like Chris Ware, Noah Van Sciver, Charles Burns, and Brandon Graham often convey the misery of their themes through the subversion of expectations that comic Comics offer. Charles Forsman is one of those cartoonists too, and Snake Oil #8 proves this.
Snake Oil by Charles Forsman
Presenting the narrative in the confines of mostly six or nine-panel pages, and arranged using something akin to the Burroughs cut-up method, Snake Oil #8 tells the story of Daniel Strong, who played a robot in a very popular Science Fiction movie, Star Force. His character was a protocol droid named 2-T0 whose adventures in a galaxy far, far away are enjoined with his robot companion, P2.
Forsman has the good sense to write on the inside cover of this book, “Any similarity between this material and Anthony Daniels is purely coincidental. Seriously. I love Anthony Daniels. I'm sure he is a very nice man.
Just so we're clear on that.

December 26, 2013

Review -- WWE: SUPERSTARS #1

WWE: Superstars #1

(Mick Foley (with Shane Riches) / Alitha Martinez / Jayjay Jackson / Tom Orzechowski / Super Genius/Papercutz)
5 stars
"You can't see me." Thus begins legendary professional wrestler Mick Foley's foray into the world of comic books. This is one of the (many) catch phrases said (often) by one of WWE's most popular (and most hated) superstars, John Cena, and by Foley using these words in the context of the fictional world of Titan City, WWE: Superstars #1 opens up meta-worlds within meta-worlds within worlds (within worlds).
See, the "real" world of professional wrestling is already filled with fictional characters – huge, over-the-top personalities, the more outlandish the better.  While their athletic ability is certainly part of their appeal, what truly distinguishes a WWE Superstar is his or her ability to convey character – wild, bombastic, larger-than-life. You can be good in the ring, but you sell the most t-shirts if you're good on "the mic".
The idea of an artist taking these hyperbolic and exaggerated creations of others, and then jamming them into a, by comparison, more mundane crime noir story, while still keeping true to both "realities," is either the most self-referential thing ever attempted, or the recipe for a great disaster.

December 19, 2013

Review -- ABYSS by Saman Bemel-Benrud


(Saman Bemel-Benrud)
4 stars
The first page of Saman Bemel-Benrud's Abyss could serve as the thesis to a dissertation on the effects of pervasive technology on the social order. Two black outlined characters seemingly float in stark relief against a white background, their backs to us, rendered flat in a sketched two-dimensional space. One character reaches out his left hand as if to hold the hand of the other, a claiming gesture meant to show their bond together as a couple. The other character floats next to him, her arms crossed, remaining immune to this connection. Almost every line on this page is vertical, emphasizing the rigidity of the boundaries between them, the gulf between personalities, even as there is the implied longing to connect.
Only connect! That is the whole of Bemel-Benrud's sermon.
What begins as a journey to a “go-to burrito spot” evolves into an exploration of how the ubiquitous social platforms we carry are as isolating as they are enjoining. It's a hollow form of connection, leaving us ghosts of interactivity whose souls are the victims of app gentrification
Everything good is disappearing, replaced with empty pits. Like black magic, they absorb the life energy from a place then use it to summon open floor plans and gourmet kitchens.

December 18, 2013

Review -- IPSO FACTO #1

Ipso Facto #1

(J.R. Rothenberg / Jason Badower / Annette Kwok)
4 stars
Mosel Pearlman Ramirez is not who you think he is. A matter of fact, he's not who HE thinks he is either. Who is he? Well, according to the solicitation for Ipso Facto #1 on Comixology:
He was just another lovestruck Colorado kid, or so he always told himself. Then he woke up one day and found out the world was going to end -- unless he could remember who he really was.
That's a pretty heavy burden for any young man, especially for “just another second-semester-senior psyched to get the hell out.” This over use of hyphens and awesome alliteration aside, Mosel is your prototypical Campbell monomythic hero who, in issue one, is called to action by outside forces. He meets a character named Brezsny (who, I swear, looks exactly like a 21 Grams-era Sean Penn wearing an ascot), who tells him,  “This world needs you to remember who you are.
Into this mix throw an evil corporate entity called Tryum Corporation, an alien invasion (maybe), an alcoholic mother, a girlfriend that just had an abortion without telling him, a bunch of guys with helmets shooting rifles, and a fake ID to buy booze. Stir this all around and you've got mystery, intrigue, action, and, above all else, story.

December 17, 2013

Review -- HARBINGER #19

Harbinger #19

(Joshua Dysart / Barry Kitson with Brian Level and Riley Rossmo / Ian Hannin / Dave Sharpe; Valiant)
4 stars
The Valiant line of comics continues to wander into previously unknown red poppy-laden fields that offer thick and wavy stupor inducing questions like, “So, what do you get when you cross two imploding psionic dreamscapes and a super-powered psiot going through a mind squall?
The answer to this question happens to be Harbinger #19.
As if you didn't know that already.
Harbinger #19
I haven't visited the Harbinger field for quite some time. A matter of fact, the last time I Kubla Kahn-ed  any of this Xanadu, it was the zero issue. “But oh! That deep romantic chasm” seems like so long ago, for all sorts of things have occurred since then. Luckily (and pluckily, I might add), Valiant books all seem to feature a nifty little “Our Story So Far...” on their inside front cover, and so, as every comic may be someone's first, I quickly was able to drink “the milk of Paradise” and hop right into the story.

December 15, 2013

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - HIGGS BOSON BLUES

Shot by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, FILMED live on location at London’s Three Mills Studios featuring : Cave, Warren Ellis, Jim Sclavunos, Barry Adamson and Martyn Casey.

December 13, 2013

Review -- MANIFEST #1

Manifest #1

(Josh Self / Orlando Rivera II / Sam Wohl / Jeff Nitzberg / Orlando Rivera II)
2 stars
Manifest takes as its impetus the idea that the things we imagine can become real. That sounds nice, right, the classic dream of youth? How many of us as young men and women thick with inner lives full of vibrant colors and undulating sounds haven't sat back and thought, if only, if only...
But in the pages of Manifest, writers Josh Self and Orlando Rivera II take our childhood ruminations and put a dark twist on what should be sparkly dreamings.
According to the solicitation, “The story of Manifest chronicles a group called The Hourglass who upon death can manifest their imaginations into reality.” What manifests in Manifest, though, aren't lemon scented cherubs or chimpanzees named Adam who are all ears to your ill-formed feelings of loneliness (long story, that); rather, there's some nasty-ass shit spewing out of people's heads – things big and abominable and vicious. They're kinda like those beasts inhabiting your base squealing fears, only in this book it's like they're made of boardwalk salt-water taffy.
At times there is a face. At times there isn't. It's hard to tell where it starts and where it ends.

December 12, 2013

Tag Team Review: MIXTAPE #4

Daniel and Jason have been reviewing all four issues thus far of Brad Abraham's comic Mixtape, which revives all kinds of memories of music and passion, growth and nostalgia. This time they look atMixtape #4. For previous tracks on this album, look herehere and here.

Jason Sacks: Okay, Mixtape #4 is the story of Siobhan King...
Daniel Elkin: Yea, we're back in late 1990, back in Garrison Creek.
Brad Abraham gathers the gang in Mixtape #4, thus pulling together all the disparate threads of the series so far. But Siobhan is the focus; Siobhan having returned from Europe a changed girl has to figure out how she fits into her old life and if she even can.
Sacks: Or if she even wants to... the girls who seemed like cool and interesting real friends end up being cold, nasty, backbiting bitches.
Elkin: Gossip girls -- how nasty they can be, full of rumor and innuendo:
"Pulling a train for drinks from College Guys" -- that's some serious slander.
Mixtape #4
Siobhan has gained self-awareness – that as things have remained in stasis back home, she has transformed.
Sacks: She's grown and they've stayed the same. That's the magic of getting out of town and having new experiences.
Elkin: And the first step to her finding her new self is not only gathering among other independent souls (geeks and losers and outcasts), but also finding the soundtrack to her new life.
Sacks: Her own soundtrack for her own life - so true

December 11, 2013

Review -- Tim Gibson's MOTH CITY #6

Moth City #6

(Tim Gibson)
4 stars
I keep coming back to Tim Gibson's Moth City as there keeps being more to say about it, which is a testament to its conception as much as its execution. Issue six of this eight issue series has just hit the digital "stands" (as it were), and this one had me choking as it wrapped its fingers across my throat. Moth City has been a brutal series. As it careens towards its conclusion, though, the depravity of its brutality becomes far more than just two words with a nice end rhyme. When the acts of the living are more horrifying than those of the undead, you're treading on some thick moral carpet. Perhaps it is lime green shag and it hasn't been vacuumed in awhile. You don't expect me to sleep on that do you? I have allergies, and I fear what is certainly sloughed off therein.
Moth City #6
As a storyteller, Gibson continues to demonstrate his command of his medium and his unique digital niche therein. His story unfolds like the linen your grandmother kept on the top of the closet for the “good guests”, creased but special, important and soft, tough but lace delicate.
There's the requisite action here, but this is really not an action comic, and, to be honest, Gibson draws a lousy fight scene. What propels Moth City #6 are the jarring moments when people do unspeakable things to those they hate, but more so, to those they love.

December 10, 2013

Review -- SHADOWMAN #13

Shadowman #13

(Peter Milligan / Roberto de la Torre / David Baron / Dave Lanphear / Alejandro Arbona; Valiant)
4.5 stars
The Blood. The Vomit. The Bodies. In the world of Shadowman, if you're Jack Boniface, you've got some problems. First off, you've got violent psychotic tendencies and you're possessed by the Shadowman Loa. Next, the people who are supposed to be on your side, the Abettors ... well, now they want to kill you.
What you need is a Mambo, a punk rock backwoods priestess whose spirit guide is Sid Vicious and whose ritual of separation involves sniffing glue.
Oh, and one more thing, “Before she helps you... she'll want a human skull.
Shadowman #13

December 5, 2013

Review -- LOUD COMIX 1

Loud Comix 1

(Frankie Nowhere / Erika Lane / Sonny Joe Harlan / Alan King / Jamie Vayda)
4 stars
Published by Birdcage Bottom Books, Loud Comix 1 is a collection of “tales of glory, humiliation, terror, and the abnormal” written by a group of leading lights from the Southern Punk Rock scene: Sonny Joe Harlan (Murder Junkies, Shitcan Dirtbag, The Sonny Joe Harlan Band), Frankie Nowhere (The Chumps, Eastside Suicides, Faster Disasters, Flash Boys), Erika Lane (DISAPpointed PARents, Early Graves, KILLZALL, The Stovebolts) and Alan King (Hellstomper, Polecat Boogie Revival, The Beer Drinking Christians).

December 4, 2013

Review -- Frank Candiloro's BEYOND THE MOON

Beyond The Moon

(Frank Candiloro)
2.5 stars
Frank Candiloro may be the most prolific self-publishing comic creator around. In the interim since I last reviewed two is Australian work ethic (if there is such a thing), maybe it's the epic number of stories he has flying around in his head that urge him to get them all down while there's still time, maybe he doesn't need to spend any of his time on such mundane things as eating or sleeping or watching reruns of Home and Away.
Beyond the Moon
Anyway, one of his three new books is Beyond The Moon. This comic begins with a quote from Georges Melies, the director of the famous 1902 film A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune), "My friends, I address you all tonight as you truly are; wizards, mermaids, travelers, adventurers, magicians... Come and dream with me." Though these words may start this story, they are the last words seen, as the rest of this is a silent comic – a story told all in pictures. As an homage to silent movies, this makes sense as an artistic choice. It also provides an opportunity for Candiloro to experiment with the storytelling possibilities of his unique cartooning.

December 2, 2013

Review -- POOP OFFICE 2

Poop Office #2

(Ben Pooped)
5 stars
Well, here's a sentence I never thought I would ever write. “It's been awhile since I last checked in with what was going down at the Poop Office.” Remember when I found myself asking the question, “Has Ben Pooped written a 21st century update of Kafka's Metamorphosis?”
After reading issue two of Poop Office, I need to change that question to: “Has Ben Pooped written a Dadaist manifesto of survival in the bureaucratic structure inherent in modern life?”
Poop Office
My answer to this newly worded question is an unequivocal yes.
Sure Poop Office #2 still makes references to the use of “Compooters” to send “Peemails”, but where issue #1 focused on this sort of humor, issue #2 is all about absurdity.  Ben Pooped is telling us that in order to have a chance of thriving in a world gone to shit, we must recast ourselves as turds, assimilate into the bowels of the social order, congeal our impurities, and be defecated back into the system. Otherwise we would go mad.

December 1, 2013

Poets You Should Know -- Louise Mathias

I was introduced to this poet through Poem-A-Day from The Academy of American Poets.

Louise Mathias's most recent book of poems is The Traps (Four Way Books, 2013). She lives in Joshua Tree, California, a small town in the Mojave desert.

November 29, 2013


Eternal Warrior #3

(Greg Pak / Trevor Hairsine / Diego Bernard / Alejandro Sicat / Brian Reber / Guy Major / Dave Sharpe; Valiant Comics)
4.5 stars
So here's another comic I knew nothing about, heard nothing about, and thought nothing about until about 30 minutes ago. Now I totally regret my ignorance. What the hell, Greg Pak and Valiant comics, why didn't you tell me that Eternal Warrior was so freaking awesome? Are you that selfish? Or have I just been ignoring your advances all this time, afraid to commit, worried I might get hurt again?
Eternal Warrior #3
If you haven't read any Eternal Warrior, drop everything you are doing (unless it is feeding a baby sloth or flying a plane full of kittens) and rush to your LCS and buy it now. I'm serious. If you think I am being hyperbolic when I tell you this book may be the zenith of modern comic book entertainment you would only be slightly correct. While I am giddy with excitement over this book, baby sloths and planes full of kittens are more important to our world.

November 28, 2013

Review -- RED SONJA #5

Red Sonja #5

(Gail Simone / Walter Geovani / Adriano Lucas / Simon Bowland / Joseph Rybandt; Dynamite)
3.5 stars
It's been since the mid-'80s that I have read anything related to the Robert E. Howard universe and, even then, Red Sonja was a peripheral character in my consciousness. My vague sense of what she embodied had more to do with her chain mail bikini than any sort of character development or social-political heft. Apparently, in the interim, the character has grown along with her audience. Then again, given that Gail Simone is helming this title now, that should come as no surprise.
Red Sonja #5
Gone is the two-dimensional character with the three-dimensional figure. Red Sonja is a person, a powerful, committed heroic individual who just so happens to be female, not in spite of it. Simone has fleshed out this character by focusing less on the flesh and more on the character.
But you all probably know this already. I didn't. Now I do. It is nice to see that as I have matured, so have some of the comics I read as a kid.

November 27, 2013

Review -- Noah Van Sciver's SAINT COLE Part One

Saint Cole Part One

(Noah Van Sciver)
4 stars
If comic books came with a scent, Noah Van Sciver's latest release through Kilgore Books, St. Cloud Part One, would smell like a wet Saint Bernard who has been vomiting up the leftovers from your newborn's Diaper Genie. It's that kind of story, a Van Sciver story, head tilts and all.
Saint Cole by Noah Van Sciver
This is the story of an average fella, aptly named Joe, who has been building his life towards some sort of stability – he's bucking for a promotion at the restaurant where he works, and he's got a newborn son with his live-in girlfriend. It apparently only takes him one week to subsequently dismantle it completely through his own character flaws. Or maybe it's intentional. It's a Van Sciver story, head tilts and all.
Alcohol, infidelity, drug abuse, isolation, good intentions, bad results, missed opportunities, mildew, blowjobs, fantasy, reality, cum in a cup, vomit in the shower, and retards in the rain. It's a Van Sciver story, head tilts and all.

November 26, 2013


Manifest Destiny #1

(Chris Dingess / Matthew Roberts / Owen Gieni / Pat Brosseau /Sean Mackiewicz; Image/Skybound)
4 stars
So, Manifest Destiny #1? More like Lewis and Clark, Monster Hunters, amirite? See, Dingess and Roberts are taking on a well worn tale of exploration from the American mythos and putting a supernatural spin on it. You know... for kids!
Manifest Destiny #1
But this isn't for kids, this is something else entirely. This is the journey/quest motif which has been ingrained in our consciousness, the patriotic monomyth on which we hang our tri-cornered hats. As Americans, it was our god given future, our Manifest Destiny, to stretch ourselves from sea to shining sea. And by golly, it was with moral imperative that we stomped on the faces of those who would get in our way.
Especially if we cast them first as monsters.

November 25, 2013

Review -- BLINDSPOT #3 by Joseph Remnant

Blindspot #3

(Joseph Remnant)
4 stars
Don't you hate it when you can't decide if a piece of art is a seemingly endless slog through the miasma of gloom with no redeeming value other than an examination of the gloom itself, or whether it is life-affirming in a manner that requires some work on the part of the audience to understand this stance and thereby making it a more personal sort of experience, a connection of sorts between the artist and the art?
Blindspot #3
Joseph Remnant's latest collection, Blindspot #3, has put me in such a quandary, and I don't know whether to use my handkerchief to daub my eyes or to wave like a celebratory flag. The book contains four short tales that cloak themselves in darkness, covering either their stark nudity or their ill-fitting clown clothes. All I know is that I feel that I deserve an answer, so I keep reading this book over and over again.
The first story, "L.A. Coffee Shop" is a circular argument of smugness, where the narrator can't help judging others while others judge him. It's hipster cool warmed in an interior monologue that ponders the point of creative endeavors – but I am at a loss if it is ultimately meant to be smarmy self-confession, an ironic statement on self-importance, or an elaborate shaggy dog joke that's only funny because it's true.