Local Comic Book Shop Wednesday – L.A. Mood

As a comic store, L.A. Mood is pretty light.  There’s a limited selection of graphic novels and comics in the back.

The store is more concerned with gaming, particularly Magic the Gathering.  I can’t speak to it’s selection on that front, as games aren’t really my thing. But the store seems like a great place to go if you like Magic, it frequently holds tournaments and events for the game.

Website: http://lamoodcomics.ca/

Address: 350 Richmond St, London, ON

Comics-2.jpg

Local Comic Book Shop Wednesday – Heroes

Heroes is an awesome store. First, it’s really big.  It’s thin, but really long (that’s what she said).  Plus it has a second floor. It’s quite possibly the biggest comic store I’ve ever been to (bigger than Paradise Comics, or Beguiling).  Its manga selection is fairly light, but for mainstream comics, it has a bit of everything; and a wide assortment of toys, too.

But what makes the store truly special is its huge selection of discount books. The entire length of the store is lined with comic boxes filled with 50% off books; that’s in addition to the whole second floor devoted to the same (along with piles of books for $3.99).  It’s the only store that can rival BMV for deals.

Website: http://www.heroescomics.ca/

Address: 186 Dundas St, London, ON

Comics.jpg

Review: This Boy Can Fight Aliens

This Boy Can Fight Aliens.jpgThis Boy Can Fight Aliens

This boy can fight aliens, in thirty minutes or less.

This Boy Can Fight Aliens is a 30-or-so minute short film produced by CoMix Wave, which hit gold in recent years by distributing the solo-works of animator Makoto Shinkai (Voices of a Distant Star).  This, too, was the product (mostly) of one person, a woman named Soubi Yamamoto.

Because of its length, there’s not too much I can say about the movie without giving away the whole plot.  Basically, aliens have come to Earth, and each day they send down one organism to fight a particular boy, Kakashi.  Kakashi has lost his memory and was taken in by two government agents, the feminine Arikawa, and the older male supervisor he lives with for some reason, Shiro.

Now knowing what his life is like, and if he has anything worth fighting for, Kakashi begins to question his motivation in fighting the aliens.  That’s a suitable enough premise for a short film, but it doesn’t resonate too well because the alien fights aren’t shown to be particularly difficult for the boy.  If he were truly suffering, then the question of going on would be just; as it is, he just comes off a little selfish and lazy.  The three characters are well-defined but aren’t developed much; again, this is largely a function of run time.  The resolution is a bit of a deus ex machina, although it does ties everything together more-or-less satisfactorily.

The animation is very limited.  There’s a lot of panning over still images and endlessly repeated short cycles (like grass blowing back and forth).  The coloring is done in a ridiculously-flashy way, with glowing (and sometimes moving) patterns, which serve somewhat to hide the faults in the basic movement.  Stylistically, it looks a lot like His and Her Circumstances, with its lanky characters, mix of styles, and mountains of text.

This Boy Can Fight Aliens is nice for what it is; just keep your expectations in check, there’s only so much you can do in 30 minutes.  The Blu Ray from Sentai Filmworks looks good.  Video is unaltered (with Japanese titles and credits).  Extras include three, even shorter films from the same director.

Review: AD Police

737187005091.jpgAD Police

What is a human?  Is it defined by one’s body, or emotions?  If one replaces his or her body with a machine, are they human still?  And if a pure machine developed emotions, does it remain just a machine?  These are the questions underpinning AD Police, a three-episode OAV series set in a near future where technology is developing far faster than humans are able to adapt to it.

AD Police is a prequel to Bubblegum Crisis, a series about four women who don mechanical suits to fight crimes involving Boomers (humanoid robots with varying degrees of realism).  The AD Police are the official, government-sanctioned force tasked with the same goal; though with only machine guns and light armour, they aren’t as effective at it.

BGC features a romantic subplot between one of the Knight Sabers (the four women) and an AD Police officer named Leon McNichol.  AD Police follows Leon’s days as a rookie and his veteran partner, Jeena Malso.  Despite being the protagonists and appearing in every episode, we don’t really get to know them that well.  The series feels more like an anthology, with each episode spending more time on its guest stars than on the central cast.  Leon and Jeena spend most of each episode working in the background.  It’s kind of a shame, because what we do see of Jeena is interesting.  Compared to most anime heroines, she’s very mature and somewhat jaded.  She’s an actual, believable adult woman.

Each of the three episodes deals with a different level of human/machine integration.  The first involves an android that was used in the sex trade that seems to develop emotions (albeit, negative ones).  The second is about a woman who has had some of her organs replaced, and no longer feels like a whole person.  The third is about a man who has his entire body replaced, save his brain and tongue, and is now becoming detached from humanity.

On a superficial level, AD Police is a satisfying action/procedural show.  The crimes are interesting, and the investigation is well-paced with a logical solution.  But what makes this show special is its introspective side.  The producers clearly spent time hashing out what a world with advanced robotics would look like, and how that technology would affect people; not only only practically, but also emotionally.  It’s that rare breed of hard science fiction that actually requires you to think.

This OAV series is dark; not only thematically, but also in its visual style.  Most of it takes place at night, and everything looks dark and murky.  It’s almost as if the city the story takes place in has become a giant mechanical body that everyone is trapped in.  The animation of is fairly high quality, as most OAVs from the ’80s were (back then, the producers thought they had to put effort into these things to get fans to buy them.  Now they just pump out something cheap and empty, knowing that they fans will clamour to get it).

Local Comic Book Shop Wednesday – J & J Cards & Collectibles

It’s  a bit of a cheat to call J & J a comic book store.  All they have in the way of comics is a couple long boxes on the floor of one aisle with some single issues and old trades.  But if you like the other stuff that comic books stores sell, namely toys and board games, you might find something here.  Board games in particular seem to be their specialty.  They have a really impressive selection and pretty good pricing.

I like that they gave the outside the facade of a castle, along with a cartoonish blue and red paint job – it certainly lets you know what you’ll find inside.

Website: http://shop.jjcards.com/

Address:230 Weber St N, Waterloo, ON

Comics.jpg

Local Comic Book Shop Wednesday – Conspiracy Comics

Conspiracy Comics is Burlington’s premiere comic book store.  It’s the one I went to all through high school (it being one of the only sources of anime and manga around at the time). The store managed to outlive all its competition and now, around 20 years later, it’s not only still standing, it has even expanded to four locations.

The store keeps a wide selection of comics, trades and manga, along with toys, anime, and merchandise (though the non-books are fairly expensive).  It’s a dependable store for new releases.

Website: http://conspiracycomics.com/

Address: 2388 Fairview St, Burlington, ON

Comics-2.jpg

Review: Call Girl of Cthulhu

Screen Shot 2018-08-17 at 6.41.25 PM.pngThe producers of Call Girl of Cthulhu raised a little over $25,000 on Kickstarter to make this movie; and I think the backers got their money’s worth.

The movie is about a virginal artist named Carter Wilcox who falls for an escort, Riley Whatley.  Said escort is unfortunately also being pursued by a cult who wants her to mate with Cthulhu. Carter himself gets dragged into the fight when a couple of cult fighters enlist him and his art skills in their plan.

The plot moves along briskly as the multiple storylines weave together into an ending that is very satisfying, with some nice and unexpected twists along the way.

A terrible person might watch this movie and then whine about it not reaching the technical standards of Infinity War; but the fact is, it’s a fun, entertaining movie made by people that clearly cared about delivering on their promise.

It’s a light-hearted movie, though maybe a little too cute at times – my wife noticed that every scene change was prefaced by a line of dialogue that referenced the next scene. i.e. ‘we have to close the door!’ is followed by a shot of a door closing. It’s not laugh out loud funny, but it’s pleasant.

The characters are likeable and well developed.  The acting is pretty good as well (another observation from my wife – the director must have a thing for girls with short brown hair).

The effects, mostly practical, are quite well done; especially the monster at the end.  Even the cult’s costumes, while very cheap and simple, are none-the-less evocative and believable.

Call Girl of Cthulhu was recently released on Blu-ray by Camp Motion Pictures and looks wonderful.

Local Comic Book Shop Wednesday – Aardvark Comics

Aardvark comics feels a lot like someone’s personal collection turned into a store.  They have a table of new releases and a handful of toys, but the real draw is the back issue assortment.  It’s worth going just to browse the old comics on the wall; there’s some really neat stuff there.

If you’re mostly a trade reader, or if you refuse to look at anything made in the 1900s, there are better options; but if you’re a singles collector, or just someone who appreciates classics, this is a very cool store.

Website: http://www.aardvarkcomics.com/

Address:516 Plains Rd E, Burlington, ON

Comics.jpg

Local Comic Book Shop Wednesday – Retrorare Comics

Retrorare Comics feels like what would happen if someone with a personal collection tossed it all into a store and opened the doors.  There are some new releases, some back issues, and some trades; but the selection is random.  The store is actually pretty big, but most of the floor space is empty.

The best thing about the store is probably the toy collection. A lot of items, including some interesting antiques.

Website: http://www.retrorarecomics.com/

Address: 5200 Dixie Road, #5, Mississauga, ON

Comics-2.jpg

Local Comic Book Shop Wednesday – Comic Warehouse

Comic Warehouse lives up to it’s name. It’s a big store with items stacked up to the roof.  As far as comics go, the selection is about as good as the bigger stores in the area.  All TBPs are bagged, which makes browsing difficult.  There’s a small section for discount books in the back. In addition to comics, they also have a vast selection of toys (especially Pops) and boardgames.

The cafe section is a seating area with some vending machines. There were a few people hanging out there during my visit. It’s a neat extra for people that like to linger in comic stores.

Website: http://www.thecomicwarehouse.com/

Address: 20 Strathearn Ave #15, Brampton, ON

Comics.jpg

Local Comic Book Shop Wednesday – Carry-On Comics

Carry-On Comics is located in downtown Waterloo, which is also home to the University of Waterloo and Wilfred Laurie University.

The selection isn’t bad, though it is a smaller store.  It’s a great option for comic fans going to one of the universities.  In addition to new releases and a respectable assortment of trades, they also have a number of used books available for pretty good prices.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/CarryOnComics/

Address:32 King Street North Waterloo, ON

Comics-2.jpg

Local Comic Book Shop Wednesday – Lookin’ for Heroes

Lookin’ For Heroes has been been in operation for about 30 years; though only 6 years at its current location, a few doors down from its old one.

The floor space is small, but it manages to pack in a pretty good selection. There aren’t many stores brave enough to carry Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose, but this one is.

The store is well organized, neat, and the owner is nice.  All in all, it’s a great store.

Website: http://www.lookinforheroes.com/

Address: 83 Ontario St S, Kitchener, ON

Comics.jpg

Local Comic Book Shop Wednesday – Silver Snail

Silver Snail is one of the oldest surviving comic book stores in Toronto.  It’s currently location is above a Five Guys just off of Dundas Square.

As far as comic book stores go, Silver Snail is pretty average. They have a decent selection of common titles, new releases, and toys; though it feels like the product offerings have been shrinking in the last few years.  Sales are uncommon, and their discount section is made up mostly of G.I. Joe trades.  It’s not a bad store, but for something with the Snail’s cache, it’s a bit unremarkable.

The one thing that does set Silver Snail apart is their cafe, which offers coffee and backed goods.

Website: http://silversnail.com/main/

Address: 329 Yonge St, Toronto, ON

Silver Snail.jpg