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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #5

10.17.12 page 21

© Copyright 2012 Alyssa Gray
All Rights Reserved

Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #4

10.03.12 page 21

© Copyright 2012 Alyssa Gray
All Rights Reserved

Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #3

09.26.12 page 21

© Copyright 2012 Alyssa Gray
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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #2

09.19.12 page 25

© Copyright 2012 Alyssa Gray
All Rights Reserved

Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #1

09.12.12 page 25

© Copyright 2012 Alyssa Gray
All Rights Reserved

Matthew Fisher's Original Cartoons

4 25 Cartoon Color 1

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Comics Editor’s Top 10 Lists

As Comics Editor, I have written many columns these past two years that covered a variety of topics in the comic book industry from well-known publishers and characters like DC Comics and Superman to obscure aspects such as 3-D comics. (Additionally, I chose to draw my own cartoons (left) for my very last Outlook issue.)

Every week, I religiously stop bymy local comic book store, Comics Plus, to buy new comics and graphic novels as well as look for old issues to complete my collections.

So, I thought for my final issue, I would share with you my favorite heroes, series, writers, etc. (in no particular order) when it comes to comic books. Enjoy!

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Comic Books Get a Dose of Reality Television

When you turn on the television, you will find a whole host of reality TV to enjoy. Some have wide appeal (“American Idol,” “America’s Got Talent”), are educational (“Pawn Stars”), or are just plain odd (“My Strange Addiction”).

However, while reality TV seems geared to this medium, it has found a way to be explored through the comic book pages. These books aren’t copying reality TV, but are using the platform as an interesting background for superhero tales.

One of the more recent comics to utilize the popularity of reality TV is “America’s Got Powers” from Image Comics, written by Jonathan Ross and illustrated by Bryan Hitch. The series focuses on Tommy Watts as he enters a super competition where various young heroes compete with one another using their powers to become rich and famous. They battle against each other on the hit show called “America’s Got Powers.”

While talking to, Hitch mentioned how the idea for the series evolved to become more about the characters and the story rather than about the show itself. He said, “Jonathan’s original one line pitch was ‘X-Factor for Super Heroes’ and it was a great idea, but as we started putting a story to that idea, it became much less about the show. Once we put living breathing characters into the scenario of the show, it became their story, not the show’s story, and the show became an environment.”

It seems as if the idea of heroes fighting on a reality TV show struck a chord as a second printing has been announced via a press release on

However, competitions haven’t been the only way for the comic book medium to include reality TV in its pages. Sometimes, it could be just a real show about heroes trying to fight the good battle, which is what Marvel did when they redeveloped their ‘90s superhero team, New Warriors.

Back in their heyday, the New Warriors consisted of teenage heroes: Night Thrasher, Speedball, Marvel Boy, Nova, Namorita and Firestar. However, it wouldn’t be until their third volume via a six-issue miniseries that these superheroes became recognized faces.

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Comic Books and Heroes Focus on Real World Issues

If you think comic books and superheroes are only about stopping alien invasions, giant monsters and evil villains, think again. Countless comic books and publishers have confronted real world issues.

To start, “Unknown Soldier,” from Vertigo Comics, dealt with the issue of child soldiers and the civil war that plagued Uganda in 2002. The character was updated from his WWII-roots by writer Joshua Dysart and artist Alberto Ponticelli. (This was the second time Vertigo published a comic featuring the Unknown Soldier following a 1997 four-issue miniseries by writer Garth Ennis and artist Kilian Plunkett.)

Running for 25 issues, the series dealt with Dr. Moses Lwanga, who returned to Uganda after being born there and raised in America, as he and his wife, Sera, helped refugees of the Lord’s Resistance Army.

One day, Moses is brutally attacked, but doesn’t die. Instead, he wraps up his wounds and hears voices that tell him to fight the evil and injustice of his homeland by dealing with it head on as the new Unknown Soldier.

The entire series was not only a good read but raised awareness of what happened in this country and those responsible. “Unknown Soldier” even confronted Joseph Kony in the series finale.

According to the New York Times, in addition to library and Internet research, “Mr. Dysart decided that ‘if I was going to deal with the absolute worst aspect of these people’s lives, I was going to have to go there.’ He visited Uganda in early 2007, months after a cease-fire was declared the previous summer. Mr. Dysart spent time with the Acholi and visited the cities of Kampala and Entebbe.”

The site also reported that Dysart brought over “1,000 photographs that Mr. Ponticelli could use as references for the illustrations.”

However, comic books don’t have to just feature superheroes or fictional beings to discuss problems in the world. Sometimes, if an issue needs to be addressed people will develop a way to talk about it, which is what the United Nations (U.N.) has done. They used the comic book medium to raise awareness on global issues such as poverty in the comic book titled, “Score the Goals.”

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Bringing Stephen King Tales to the Comic Book Page

Horror master Stephen King has taken readers to the furthest, darkest depth of his imagination with his novels that range from tales of killer canines (“Cujo”) to being trapped within an invisible dome (“Under the Dome”).

In addition to his novels and short stories, King’s works have been adapted into a number of movies and TV specials. However, his tales aren’t limited to these mediums as they have also found a way into the comic book industry.

When it came to bringing King’s vision to comic books, one of the first stories to get the paneled-paged treatment was his “Dark Tower” series. “The Dark Tower” followed gunslinger Roland Deschain as he braves a world of monsters and evil men while on his quest to reach the mythical Dark Tower and the Man in Black. Rather than adapt all the books, Marvel presented a miniseries detailing Roland’s youth as he faces tragedy and betrayal while learning to become the best gunslinger ever.

The first miniseries, “The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born,” came out in 2007 and was written by Peter David with plot from Robin Furth and art by Jae Lee.

Other miniseries continued to explore Roland’s youth with “The Long Road Home,” “Treachery,” “The Fall of Gilead,” and “The Battle of Jericho Hill” plus the one-shot, “Sorcery.”

The past two miniseries, however, feature an adult Roland already settled into his quest for the Dark Tower in “The Journey Begins,” “The Little Sister of Eluria,” “The Battle of Tull,” and “The Way Station.”

In an interview with prior to the release of “Treachery,” David and Furth discussed their intentions for the series from the start. “If by reaction you mean critical reaction, I was confident that we were putting out a quality book. The work that Robin, Jae and Richard have done is superb. So I was reasonably sure that we’d get positive notices. In terms of actual audience numbers, I honestly had no idea what to expect. It was, after all, not a superhero title. I knew if we could pull in the Stephen King fans, we’d have a ball game,” he said.

Furth also said, “I wanted so much to do a good job and to please Stephen King and all the longtime ‘Dark Tower’ fans. Bringing Mid-World to a new readership felt like a big responsibility, but I’m so glad that readers have enjoyed the story. That is a reward in itself.”

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Shakespearean Tales Give Comics a Literary Touch

From Hamlet to The Tempest, the plays of William Shakespeare are still performed centuries after his death and have been adapted into many films. However, beyond the silver screen and the stage, comic books have also continued staging the Bard’s tales for readers and fans alike.

As with any classic novel or play, sooner or later they get adapted as a comic. Some of the first Shakespeare comic adaptations were in “Classics Illustrated” such as Julius Caesar and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Here, writers and artists brought these stories to the paneled pages without losing the meaning and original dialogue.

Although “Classics Illustrated” ended, people still look to bring these timeless stories to life as comic books. The Shakespeare Comic Book Series has been one way that these tales have been turned into comics. According to, “The Shakespeare Comic Book Series was created in response to a simple question: How can we present serious literature to a generation of school students that is intensely visually aware but often reluctant to read? The answer was to offer the work of the world’s greatest writer in a popular format with a highly pictorial content. The Shakespeare Comic Book Series thus began life in 1999, created by Simon Greaves.”

The site also noted these comics have been featured in exhibits and used as teaching tools.

Comic book writers and artists have also adapted these plays as mangas with “Manga Shakespeare.” For those unfamiliar with manga, they are novella-sized comics from Japan that feature such series as “Bleach” and “Naruto.” Within these series, artists present rich, detailed characters and settings as writers offer work to keep the play’s stories and messages intact. According to, “‘The Manga Shakespeare’ editorial team is led by a leading Shakespeare scholar and an educational editor… the team is expert in making serious works of literature more accessible.”

Now, the books’ creative teams take liberties with their interpretations. Some might have a futuristic setting like “Manga Shakespeare: Julius Caesar” while “Manga Shakespeare: Macbeth” has an action-driven atmosphere (the cover has Macbeth wielding swords).

“Manga Shakespeare” also condensed these adaptations a bit for readers. The site also stated, “Plays in the ‘Manga Shakespeare’ series are abridged to allow teachers to focus on key scenes while following Shakespeare’s text.”

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