Happy Lunar New Year! Gong Hay Fat Choy!

The Lunar New Year Check List

Are you all ready for the new year? Well, I finally put away the xmas tree and…that’s about as much as I’ve done to prepare. So, don’t feel bad because all that matters is that you not swear; don’t sweep/clean; and avoid the salon – just greet everyone with a happy new year message…

so 恭喜發財! 新年快樂! 心想事成!

[Previously appeared in the February 2015 special lunar new year’s issue of the Sampan Newspaper]

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Happy Year of the Pig!

Happy Year of the Pig | Empty Bamboo Girl by Lillian Lee

This year the celebrations start on Tuesday, February 5th. So, you’ve still got some time to clean your home from top to bottom and to get a haircut before it’s too late because once February 5th rolls by no more cleaning and hair cutting else bad luck shall befall you for the rest of the year.

Although, I’m still going to bathe and wash my hair. There are some traditions that I just can’t continue with – personal hygiene is very important to me.

Anyhow, enjoy the family feasts, lion dances, oranges galore and red envelopes if you’re still at that age where you’re receiving them.

Wishing you and your family a very happy lunar new year in this week’s comic in a special lunar new year edition of the Sampan Newspaper.

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An Evening with Gene Luen Yang at the Coolidge Corner Theatre

An Evening with Gene Luen Yang at the Coolidge Corner Theatre | EMPTYBAMBOOGIRL by Lillian Lee

When I learned that Gene Luen Yang would be making a stop in my neck of the woods, you best believe I jumped on getting tickets early on. He is my hero and Brookline Booksmith hosted the event at the Coolidge Corner Theatre with a book signing after the talk back at the shop.

The weather sucked. It was super gloomy, dark and torrential downpours filled the entire day, but I didn’t care. Nothing was going to rain on this parade.

So, with the Mister, we listened to the famed graphic novelist and National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature talked about how comics influenced him as a kid growing up and discussed Reading Without Walls – a new challenge for young readers designed to test their limits and expand their horizons…which we may take up as well.

An Evening with Gene Luen Yang at the Coolidge Corner Theatre | EMPTYBAMBOOGIRL by Lillian Lee

Let us all embrace our nerd. It was truly an inspirational talk – one that I needed to hear.

An Evening with Gene Luen Yang at the Coolidge Corner Theatre | EMPTYBAMBOOGIRL by Lillian Lee

Me being super creepy as the excitement built as I got closer and closer to my comic creator hero. FYI I tried stalking him at San Diego Comic Con many years ago, but failed.

An Evening with Gene Luen Yang at the Coolidge Corner Theatre | EMPTYBAMBOOGIRL by Lillian Lee

I was so nervous that I just became a super, awkward loser in front of him. Words started tripping out of my mouth about how he’s inspired my work…that I work on my own comic too. Ahhhh! But, no matter. This meeting meant the world to me. So thank you Gene Luen Yang for your work and inspiring words.

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The Asian Flush in Full Effect. “Fresh Off the Boat” Tackles This…Issue

Bwahahaha 😂

I posted an EBG comic strip about this tragic phenomenon a few years back. Am I plagued by this? Most certainly. Do I care? No.

The Asian Flush | EMPTYBAMBOOGIRL by LILLIAN LEE

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Meeting Bill Amend of Fox Trot at PAX East 2017

Bill Amend of Fox Trot and me at PAX East 2017 | EMPTYBAMBOOGIRL by Lillian Lee

I met my cartoonist / comic strip / comic art hero Bill Amend of Fox Trot last Sunday at PAX East. I knew I had a mission when I saw his tweet in my feed the day before the show:

It was the only thing I was looking forward to at PAX East to be honest. And there he was, sitting at his table as I made it past the metal detectors and security.

Bill Amend of Fox Trot and me at PAX East 2017 | EMPTYBAMBOOGIRL by Lillian Lee

I picked up one of the two pins he was selling – Quincy for the win! Of course, I asked him to sign it for me.

I told him how much I loved his work and how much he’s inspired my comic work. Right afterward, I ran away ‘cuz that’s how I do.

To read more about my day at PAX East, check out: Video games, video games and…my hero, Bill Amend! PAX East 2017!

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A Toisanese Bowl of Joy

It was some sort of Chinese winter holiday yesterday and there’s a special dish that’s usually served to celebrate it according to my folks. My mum didn’t make it, but she is making it today and it hales from my dad’s village of Toison/Taishan.

The star of this soup bowl of joy are the handmade rice noodles/dumplings. They’re referred to as noodles, but they’re heartier – gnocchi-esque.

It’s a dish my mum learned to make when she came over to the states. Our neighborhood had a few families from my dad’s village and so they taught her.

The soup is made with pork, dried shrimp and winter melon with some napa cabbage.

Dinner can’t come soon enough tonite.

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New Comics Reading List for February 2016

EMPTYBAMBOOGIRL by LILLIAN CHAN

I took a year sabbatical from current comic book reading. I was — and still am — reading Harry Potter for the first time. I know, I know. I’m always late to the party.

But, I’ve returned.

The titles I’m reading are:

  • Silk: continuing the series because I really enjoyed it.
  • Batman & Robin Eternal: starting at issue 13 because…CASSANDRA CAIN!!! and, that cover!
  • Velvet: again, continuing the series because it kicks ass
  • Hulk: I liked the character of Amadeus Cho and it’d be interesting to see how he is as Hulk

I’m limiting myself to four this time around just so it doesn’t get out of hand 🙂

It was great popping into my fave comic book shop and getting a, “Welcome back stranger!” greeting.

Also, I’ve got a story line planned for Empty Bamboo Girl. I think it’s gonna be fun to do so stay tuned!

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What’s Happening to Chinatown? via Universalhub

EMPTY BAMBOO GIRL by LILLIAN CHANI sent a tweet to Universalhub with my comic “Chinatown Changes” a few weeks back. Writer sent me a tweet back and wanted to chat some more about it for a piece she was writing about what’s been happening with Chinatown.

It’s been nearly a month since Maxim’s Coffee House served its last drop of hot coffee, its famous bun pastries flying off the shelves before the local bakery lost its lease and was forced to close its doors after 33 years in Chinatown. Yet artist Lillian Chan still finds sadness as she walks past the shuttered windows of the “iconic landmark” on the corner of Beach Street and Harrison Avenue. And neither she, nor the bakery, are alone.

As Chinatown’s development spikes with high-rise luxury apartments and new commercial chains surrounding the ethnic neighborhood, many residents, visitors and small business owners are wondering one thing: what’s happening to Chinatown?

“Just visually it’s kind of jarring to see all of these high-rise building structures popping up around Chinatown,” said Chan, a Boston resident who visits the neighborhood weekly. “It feels like it’s just closing in on it.”

Read the full article.

 

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Mockingbird: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary (2015) Issue 1 PLUS Sneak Peek of “Forever Red!”

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Mockingbird (2015) Issue 1: Variant Cover

 

My initial introduction to Mockingbird was via Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC and even then I only knew that the character’s name was Bobbi and that she was tough as steel. Did she have super powers? I didn’t know and didn’t really explore further. Shame on me.

But while noodling around Rubber Chicken Comics, a local comic book shop outin western MA, I saw issue 1 for Mockingbird. I wasn’t crazy about the variant cover which was the only one available, but I picked it up and read through a couple pages. That’s all it took to get me hooked.

She just came across smart, boss, and kickass.

An added bonus to the comic book? Getting a sneak peek into the upcoming YA novel Black Widow: Forever Red, which I am most definitely looking forward to reading.

Mockingbird has always been one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s best agents, but what happens when someone close to her is murdered? Forced to take matters into her own hands, someone is bound to pay! New York Times Bestselling Author Chelsea Cain joins the Marvel Universe to tell a story of bloody revenge! Plus! A special bonus story by superstar young adult author, Margaret Stohl (Beautiful Creatures), writer for the upcoming YA novel, Black Widow: Forever Red! READ MORE

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Lois Lane: Fallout. A novel by Gwenda Bond. What?!

Lois Lane: Fallout by Gwenda Bona

 

When did DC Comics get into Young Adult Fiction? Am I late to the party again? It doesn’t matter because it’s a fantastic idea!

I’ve never been much of a Lois Lane fan. She always seemed one-dimensional to me — just all about the story rah-rah-rah and always needed to be saved by Superman. Can we please erase the Henry Cavill Superman movie Man of Steel (2013) from our brains, please? Just bringing that up gives me the shivers.

Anyhow, I gave a couple pages of Lois Lane: Fallout by Gwenda Bond a try and before you know it I was hooked. I kept turning the pages and didn’t stop until 2AM when I finished it.

Lois Lane is still all about the story but she’s more fleshed out. There’s a reason why she’s so dogged — her upbringing as an army brat and making things right with her friends. She’s plucky and strong. She doesn’t need saving…just help sometimes.

And Superman? Oh, he’s in there but we never get to actually meet him even though he’s a significant part of Lois’ life. I love how he’s weaved into the story.

Lois Lane is starting a new life in Metropolis. An Army brat, Lois has lived all over—and seen all kinds of things. (Some of them defy explanation, like the near-disaster she witnessed in Kansas in the middle of one night.) But now her family is putting down roots in the big city, and Lois is determined to fit in. Stay quiet. Fly straight.

 

As soon as she steps into her new high school, though, she can see it won’t be that easy. A group known as the Warheads is making life miserable for another girl at school. They’re messing with her mind, somehow, via the high-tech immersive videogame they all play. Not cool. Armed with her wit and her new snazzy job as a reporter, Lois has her sights set on solving this mystery. But sometimes it’s all a bit much. Thank goodness for her maybe-more-than-a friend, a guy she knows only by his screenname, SmallvilleGuy…READ MORE

I can’t wait to find other DC Comics and Marvel Comics novels. Word on the street is that there will be a Black Widow novel coming out in Oct 2015 called Forever Red! I will be for sure all on that!

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It’s About Comics, Music, and Love. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

This is not a comic book or graphic novel but the references to X-Men, Batman, and Watchmen are enough for me to consider this in my “On Comics and Such” category 🙂

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell has been on my radar for quite some time now. It was the cover art that initially hooked me in — the simple illustration and the type. At first, I thought it was a graphic novel.

Yesterday while I was returning a stack of books to the library, I saw Eleanor & Park as one of their featured titles and I grabbed it. I was just going to check out a few pages, but then I got completely sucked in. I couldn’t put it down. Usually, when I’m speed-reading, I gloss over words and sometimes pages. But, not with this one. I wanted to read every single word written on the page.

Six hours later, I was, like, damn. I haven’t read a book that made me so happy, gave me butterflies in the stomach, and brought tears to my eyes in so long. Plus, it brought me back to my high school years that were also filled with cassette tapes, Esprit bags, waiting for telephone calls, and that one crazy crush.

Set over one school year in 1986, Eleanor & Park is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Some of my favorite quotes:

  • “The new girl’s eyes were darker than his mom’s, really dark, almost like holes in her face. That made it sound bad, but it wasn’t. It might even be the best thing about her. It kind of reminded Park of the way artists draw Jean Grey sometimes when she’s using her telepathy, with her eyes all blacked out and alien.”
  • “Paul was the one who’d taught Eleanor to say Asian and not oriental. ‘Oriental’s for food,’ he’d said.”
  • “‘I don’t like you,’ he said. ‘I need you.'”

I am now a Rainbow Rowell fan and can’t wait to read her other books.

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Nimona. “We’re Villains! Villains kill people sometimes!”

Nimona  by Noelle Stevenson

Nimona has been on my to-read list for quite some time. I’d been hearing great things about it and I really liked the artwork. So, while I was noodling at the library the other day, I saw it as a featured read and I quickly grabbed it.

I absolutely loved it. The artwork is wonderful, the dynamics between all the characters are so well developed, and it’s a story/plot that I’ve never read before..truly refreshing.

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

My favorite quote?

We’re Villains! Villains kill people sometimes! ~Nimona

It’s such a boss quote and Nimona is so boss!

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Diving Deep Into the Spider-Verse Universe (2015)

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I recently discovered the graphic novel/comic book section of the local library and went to town on it. One of the titles I picked up was Marvel Comics’ Spider-Verse (2015) trade paperback only because Silk was in it. I’ve never read any actual Spider-Man comics so this was going to be the first and…

Oh. My. Gawd.

It was dark, action-packed, and gut-wrenching. Every Spider-being was thrown into this epic story arc. I’m also a fan of time travel and parallel worlds so it was an added bonus. My brain will never be the same again after the crazy shit that happened. I definitely see Spider-Man and its universe in an entirely new light. Wow.

When the unstoppable Morlun returns, it will take every Spider-Man EVER to stop him! Dan Slott and Olivier Coipel spearhead a massive event that unites wall-crawlers across all universes against a single threat, swinging through Amazing Spider-Man and a web of tie-ins! READ MORE

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Black Widow (2014) #20, Say It Ain’t the End!

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And so the team that gave us this latest story arc for Black Widow have closed out this particular story with issue #20. Say it ain’t so! *sniff sniff*

WHO IS THE BLACK WIDOW? What set off her long path of atonement? The creative team that’s brought you the longest run in Black Widow history steps deeper into the psyche of Natasha Romanoff than ever before. MORE

It was a tough issue to read — you learn more about Natasha’s past and also how she tries to atone for it in the present. This Black Widow storyline is what really got me into the superhero genre of comics. Previously, I wasn’t very much impressed with the boob’d out nakedness of the heroines. It just didn’t appeal to me. But then, why would it?

That all changed when I saw the artwork and read the story for issue #1 of Black Widow. Nathan Edmondson (writer) and Phil Noto (artist) just killed it on all fronts. They made me fall in love with Natasha even though she’s not perfect. She’s done some shitty things, but that’s what makes her…human…and a kickass fighter.

So, I want to thank both Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto for their amazing work. I look forward to their future projects…altho sad that this arc of Black Widow has come to an end.

Also, I couldn’t resist…

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 9.54.56 PM

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A Revamped 2015 Archie Makes Its Way, Issue 1

Archie1Greenevar

 

I’ve never read any of the Archie comics, but I was familiar with the love triangle and that it took place is Riverdale. Other than that, I just didn’t have any interest in reading it because I didn’t think that it was for me…it was dated — in an era that I couldn’t relate to in a tone that was maybe too juvenile jokey.

But, I had heard about an Archie comics re-camp for 2015 and seeing some of the sneak peek previews of the artwork really amped up my interest. So, when issue #1 released, I picked it up and was very pleasantly surprised. It’s fun and full of teenage romance, high school angst. I also very much enjoyed the artwork. I’m definitely looking forward to issue #2.

And definitely check out all the variant covers that were released. I especially liked the one by Sanford Greene, which is the cover I chose.

COMIC SUPERSTARS MARK WAID AND FIONA STAPLES REIMAGINE AN ICON! Change is coming to Riverdale in this can’t-miss kick-off to Archie’s new ongoing series! Familiar faces return in new and unexpected ways in this must-have #1 issue! As the new school year approaches, you’d think Archie Andrews would be looking forward to classes and fun—but nothing is as it seems in the little town of Riverdale. But is this a one-off or a sign of bigger changes awaiting for America’s favorite teens—and the entire town? Find out in this exciting and remarkable first issue!

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Image Comics’ Kaptara: “Wizards Just Got a Whole Lot Sexier”

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This insane intergalactic space odyssey is…insane and I absolutely love it.

From the first issue to issue three, the writing and art have kept me glued. The sense of humor is quirky and weird — it speaks to me. I find myself shaking my head and laughing out loud.

ENTER: MELVON! BUT REMEMBER: ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER: MELVON! To save their own lives, our heroes must slay the famed, sensual wizard of The Unchanted Forest! A great jumping-on point for anyone who reads! READ MORE

Thank you Chip Zdarsky for the unique story and Kagan Mcleod for artwork that’s just as unique and beautifully weird. I’m looking forward to issue 4. If you haven’t hopped on the Kaptara train, it’s still early on so please do get on!

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Black Widow’s First Line of Red. How It Started. (Issue 19)

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Black Widow is one of the few titles that I’ve been sticking with. I love the series — full of action and drama with amazing artwork to boot. It’s the reason why I started reading more and more current superhero comic books. The latest issue did not disappoint. It takes the reader to Natasha’s past and how it started. We’ve gotten a few glimpses before, but this issue really delved into it.

What decision will she make? I guess we’ll find out in issue 20.

TOO LATE FOR REDEMPTION? At the end of all things, Black Widow finds herself unexpectedly connected to one of the darkest moments of her past. See how the first lines of red in her ledger were written. Will Natasha fall into darkness or rage against the dying of the light? READ MORE

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JEM Keeps Getting Better with Issue 4

Jem04_cvr-MOCKONLY

 

The upcoming live-action JEM film may suck — actually, it probably will after having watched the trailer — but, fans should definitely be reading the comics. They’ve got the core of JEM, but updated for 2015, which I very much appreciate.

The driving force of the JEM and the Holgrams vs The Misfits rivalry is the music but also forbidden love between two of the band members. It definitely heightens the drama between the two bands. And, I love the artwork.

Jem and The Holograms do their first live show at The Starlight Foundation’s annual fundraiser—but a rabid Misfits fan is determined to sabotage their performance… at any cost! READ MORE

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What Happens After the Bad Guy Has Been Defeated? New Comic “Zodiac Starforce” to Debut in August 2015!

zodiacstarforce-small

 

Ooh! This comes out in digital and print on August 26th! The art looks amazing and the story sounds like a very interesting premise! Comic created by artist Paulina Ganucheau and writer Kevin Panetta.

It’s been two years since the girls received their power from an goddess named Astra and destroyed the villain Cimmeria; the team has since disbanded, and like a lot of friends do over the course of high school, they’re starting to find themselves drawn to different interests and heading in different directions. READ MORE

[via BoingBoing]

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DC Comics Superman “Truth”, Issue 41, is One Wild Ride. Wow.

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I’ve tried getting into Superman comics in the past — even the Superman Wonderwoman series — but they fell flat for me. There was never enough character build up to make me root for Superman. The only time I ever loved Superman was when I was a kid watching the Christopher Reeve films. To this day, they hold up even against the Henry Cavill re-boot “Man of Steel” in 2013, which SUCKED so bad all around.

But, when I found out that one of my most favorite comic creators, Gene Luen Yang, would be writing for issue 41, I HAD to pick it up. Let me say that I was not disappointed at all. In fact, the story was riveting from the first page to the last. I love how they re-worked the story so that Superman’s identity is revealed and how that plays out.

I seriously can not wait for issue 42 to hit the stands.

The epic new storyline “TRUTH” continues with the debut of the amazing new creative team of new writer Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese) and continuing artists John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson! What will happen when the big secret is revealed? READ MORE

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I Wanted to Like Black Canary Issue 1…I Really Did, But…

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it just didn’t grab me from the outset. Maybe I was looking forward to it too much? I was already excited about the artwork by Annie Wu — I loved what she did with Batgirl Beyond — and the artwork is amazing. I love it. But, the story fell a bit flat. I actually liked her more during her appearances in Batgirl.

Will I give it another chance? I don’t know only because I have so many other titles I’m following.

Dinah Lance hits the road! After years as a soldier and vigilante, the LAST place Dinah saw herself is on stage…but she’s quickly learning she’d die to protect the gang of misfits she’s fallen into. And she just might have to – for some reason, the newly rechristened band Black Canary seems to be a magnet for trouble…and Dinah’s not gonna believe it when she finds out the reason why! Martial arts, super-spies, and rock ‘n’ roll combine, from Brenden Fletcher (BATGIRL) and Annie Wu (Hawkeye)!

 

READ MORE

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DC Comics Convergence Nightwing/Oracle #1. Dang That Was Good.

DC Comics Convergence Nightwing/Oracle Issue 1

Honestly, this issue has been sitting on my nightstand for the past few weeks. It came highly recommended by the comic book shop guy who couldn’t say enough good things about it. I was actually picking up the Convergence Batgirl title because of the return of Cassandra Cain!

And so, I read the Convergence Batgirl and, for me, it was…meh. I didn’t hold out much hope for the Convergence Nightwing/Oracle title after that.

But today…today, I realized how wrong I was.

Dang, it was good from beginning, middle and to end. Superb writing by Gail Simone captured the state of Gotham and the state of Dick Grayson’s and Barbara Gordon’s relationship.

STARRING HEROES FROM THE PRE-FLASHPOINT DCU! Just as they’ve finally been reunited, the romance between Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon is sentenced to execution by Flashpoint Hawkman and Hawkwoman! READ MORE

Now, I must hunt down issue 2.

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Image Comics’ Kaptara: “Space, why you gotta be like that?”

Kaptara-cover

What? Huh?

A space expedition goes horribly wrong because if it didn’t there would be no story! Reluctant explorer Keith Kanga and his crew crash land on KAPTARA, a world filled with danger and weird danger and dangerous weirdos! And if he can’t survive, then Earth, the place where YOU live, is doomed! Join CHIP ZDARSKY (Sex Criminals the Duck) and KAGAN McLEOD (Infinite Kung Fu) as they put the “fi” back into “sci-fi” and pretty much disregard the “sci” part in this epic story of punching and love!

Story By: Chip Zdarsky
Art & Cover By: Kagan Mcleod

MORE INFO

So, initially, I was at the comic book shop looking to get the latest issues of some of the titles I’m reading. I wasn’t there to scope out anything new. I generally limit my books to 5 titles.

But then, I saw — not the cover of issue 1 — but the insanity of issue 2 featuring…cat tanks. CAT TANKS!

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How could I NOT try this out? What completely sold it for me was the tagline for issue 1: “Space, why you gotta be like that?” It’s funny, the artwork is fantastic, and it’s set in a crazy, weird world.

Kaptara!

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