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Now Available: The Brutal Blade of Bruno the Bandit Vol. 6!

Brutal Blade Vol. 6 is live and on the air! With this book, we reach the midpoint of the Bruno the Bandit archives, and also reach a turni...

Wednesday, July 24, 2019


All of AIM Comics books are currently on sale at DriveThru for their Christmas in July sale!  Check out our books as well as thousands of other titles on this huge annual sale!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Reading the Unreadable # 4: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

"One Hundred Years of Solitude" is one book that probably does not belong on the list of difficult to read books.  I can understand why it's there, given that keeping the generations of characters straight when so many of them have the same or similar names is a daunting task for the close reader.
However, when reading for the numinous enjoyment of the book itself, without any expectation of fully grasping every aspect, this book is quite enjoyable and often beautiful, with nuanced characters, strong visual imagery and lyric language.
I have been looking forward to reading this one for a while, having been inspired to seek it out by reading the "Love and Rockets" collections.  I don't have much experience with magic realism, and actually tend to shy away from books involving magic, as it tends to be an easy out for lazy writers.  Yet it is the mundanity of magic in this book that partly makes this book so appealing; magic is not a cure-all for the problems of the characters; rather, it is just a fact of existence, like the cycles of sun, earth and moon, and almost invisible when it appears.  The lives of the characters do not depend on the magic; they just accept it.
This book is about character, and situation, idealism and romance, the absurdity of existence, in both the meaning of things very small and the meaninglessness of things very large.  It is about the continuity and fluidity of time and existence, in how lives overlap and intersect and inform each other, often in unexpected ways.  It is about the richness and beauty to be found in those intersections, in how the unforeseen turns of life produce their own kind of magic that can be as strange as that other "magic".  This is all told as a sort of historical narrative that gives each of the characters their turn on stage with nearly equal weight, drawing out those moments or features that are distinctive about each of them, despite their recurring nomenclature.  The language is poetic to the degree that there are individual sentences that make you want to go back and experience them again, sentences like,
"With her waiting she had lost the strength of her thighs, the firmness of her breasts, her habit of tenderness, but she kept the madness of her heart intact."


"He did not feel fear of nostalgia, but an intestinal rage at the idea that this artificial death would not let him see the end of so many things that he had left unfinished."

or perhaps most tellingly,

"Always remember that the past was a lie, that memory has no return, that every spring gone by could never be recovered, and that the wildest and most tenacious love was an ephemeral truth in the end."

In the end, too, the book is meta-textual, in a way to rival Jorge Luis Borges.  It ends in a way that reminds the reader of the literary reality of the entire story while inspiring metaphysical questions about our own authorship.  Who is reading, and what is read?  I can't explain it better than that...you'll have to read it for yourself.

Up next, one of the books that supposedly every literate person loves but no one has finished..."Gravity's Rainbow" by Thomas Pynchon.  As always, follow along on Twitter and see if I survive the experience.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

AIM Comics Roundup!

Time for a quick roundup of what's available where.  Consider it a cheat card for finding everything from or related to AIM Comics!

AIM Comics flagship title is The Brutal Blade of Bruno the Bandit, an ongoing series collecting the webcomic by Ian McDonald.  Find it in a number of places, in a number of formats, depending on your preferred method of reading...

The first two volumes are available in both print and Kindle editions through Amazon, while volumes 3-7 are available on Amazon in print only (honestly, I really don't recommend the Kindle editions; they're just not formatted correctly, and I haven't had the time to fix them).  The best way to find them all is by searching "Brutal Blade of Bruno the Bandit' at the Amazon storefront for your country.

All seven volumes to date are also available through our DriveThru Comics storefront.  Honestly (again), if you're into reading digitally, this is the best choice right now, as your purchase here is a DRM-free pdf that is a much better price for you than the Kindle editions from Amazon.  Perfectly portable and readable on just about any device.
If you want to save even more money, you can buy the Brutal Blade Bundle from DriveThru.  It contains all issues except the most recent one at a special discount, and is updated each time we release a new volume.

Volume 1 (only!) of Brutal Blade is also available on Comixology.  This format is very user friendly, especially with their guided view.  The rest of the volumes will be up there eventually, as soon as we can get them approved.

If you want to take your enjoyment of Bruno the Bandit to the next level, you can also pick up the Bruno the Bandit Card Game from DriveThru.  Prove yourself the best thief in Rothland by stealing the most loot in one night in this easy to learn, fun to play card game that not only gets you an exclusive card featuring art by Ian McDonald, but also gives you a code to download a free copy of Volume 1 of Brutal Blade!


Also available in our DriveThru store are four issues of the comic "The Journals of Simon Pariah".  Although this comic is currently cancelled, these stories are each standalone and worth a read in their own right.  In fact, one of them, issue 1A is a free issue, done as a wordless tribute to the recently deceased Steve Ditko.

Speaking of free comics, don't forget to snag a copy of our other free book, "Why Comics", containing an article of the same name written for Blueline's Sketch magazine so many years ago, as well as my first (and so far only!) attempt at a 24 hour comic. Exclusively from DriveThru Comics!

Another DriveThru exclusive for those who can't get enough of my artwork (both of you!) is my portfolio book "Believable Illusions", containing a good sampling of the work I've done for a variety of publishers, including podcasts, album covers, and other comics publishers.  You can even order this one as a hardcover book if you really want to!

Not directly related to AIM Comics, but as an ongoing project in which I am involved, there is the game Dread Streets available at the DriveThru sister site Wargame Vault.  Dread Streets is a cinematic swashbuckling game that "lets you direct a swashbuckling movie, complete with ridiculous stunts, pirates, musketeers, freaks, drinking, brawling and lots of taunting." I designed the miniatures for this one, as well as a fair amount of art for the rulebook.  

For those who like superheroic goodness, one final thing I should mention is the "Powers vs. Power" series by Robin Reed.  There's three volumes in this series (so far!) available at Smashwords, each of which is a collection of stories about a group of young superheroes.  Your humble publisher did cover art for all three volumes.

That's it, until/unless I think of something else that should be here.  But stay tuned, as there's more work on the way!  Volume 8 of Brutal Blade will be released later this year, and there's a graphic novel project and another special illustrated volume that I'm keeping under wraps for now.  Keep an eye on AIM Comics, because there's good things to come!

Friday, November 23, 2018

Walking the Dread Streets!

Anyone who's been following on Facebook will know that I've been doing some design and illustration work for a game called "Dread Streets", in cooperation with a talented Danish design team.
From the game's description:
As far as the eye can see, it stretches on and on, the endless cityscape known only as the Dread Streets. In the afternoon, true to form, the Commoners bar their doors and windows. For the Heroes of Dread Streets are about to awake from their drunken sleep, to beat each other up in yet another senseless brawl!
Dread Streets lets you direct a swashbuckling movie, complete with ridiculous stunts, pirates, musketeers, freaks, drinking, brawling and lots of taunting."

 Working on this project has been a lot of fun.  I've always been a fan of great swashbuckling films, and took a lot of inspiration from the classics when creating the look of characters for the game.  This was my first time creating work that was intended to be translated into miniatures, so it was also a learning experience for me when it came to important details like balance and thinking in three dimensions.

The game has been live on Wargame Vault  since 11 November, with a downloadable pdf featuring character designs and rulebook illustrations created by me.  At a "Pay What You Want" price, it's a steal.

Now, the team has taken the game to the next level with a Kickstarter program to help them produce the full featured version of the game with the miniatures and tabletop buildings that should accompany the rulebook.  You can play the game without the miniatures, but it looks SO much better with the figures.

The team is not asking much to make this happen, so it's a good opportunity to support them and help the game get off the ground.  Head over to their project page and check out the various levels of support.  If you can, buy in and get yourself some great rewards, sculpted from my very own art!  They will thank you, I will thank you, and you will thank yourself!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Reading the Unreadable #3 - The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

I remember reading The Canterbury Tales for a 2nd year English Literature class when completing my university degree.  I mean, I don't actually REMEMBER any of the book, aside from the first couplet, but I do remember the ACT of reading the book.  So I...suppose?...I'm coming to this one with a little more grounding than the previous books.

Not that that made it any easier.

Chaucer in its original Middle English is literature for those readers who find Shakespeare's language too easy.  It's got just as much romance, drama and fart jokes as any classic English work of literature, but you've got to work a little harder to pick the sense out of it.  Spelling is inconsistent at best, and pronunciation and meter are often sacrificed rather bloodily for the sake of completing a rhyme.  There's time when I'm sure Chaucer (much like his literary successor Shakespeare) just said "To Hell with it!" and made up words out of whole cloth.
As in Shakespeare's work, there is also the same gathering of story sources and inspirations to make the work an accumulation of the archetypes for centuries of stories to follow.  I imagine that this cultural aggregation into one source material goes a long way to explain the longevity of this work.  That, and the fart jokes.

The interesting thing about The Canterbury Tales is that it's actually less than half of a completed work.  Apparently the plan was to make this much longer by having more stories from other characters, and then to have at least a second story from each pilgrim on their way back from their pilgrimage.  However, in a move that, as a creator, I can completely identify with, Chaucer did not plan his time well and envisioned a work beyond the scope of the time available to him.  In the ultimate show of artistic laziness, he had the temerity to go and die before finishing the book.
So we never do get to find out who won that free meal, but we do get some good stories along the way.

I'm not sure how much the order of the stories was invented by later compilers of Chaucer's work, but in the version that I read, I get a growing sense of literary moralizing as the book progresses.  In the early stages Chaucer, like any good author, hooks his readers in with tales revolving around lust, licentiousness, the aforementioned fart jokes, and generally bad behavior.  However, later stories lean more heavily on morally instructive content, ending up with the sermon/screed that is The Parson's Tale.  Without knowing more about his motives for writing, I can't help but wonder if his intent was to create a work that would appeal to a general audience yet be religious instruction in disguise.  Sort of like inserting PSA's into an episode of Benny Hill.

Regardless, it's an amusing book, and in the end not that difficult to read.  Of course, I'm cheating a bit, having read Beowulf in Old English.  Your mileage may vary.

Up next is a novel I have actually been looking forward to, Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude".  I've been wanting to dive into this book since learning of its influence on Los Bros. Hernandez's "Love and Rockets", and now I've got a good excuse to do so.

Don't forget to follow along on Twitter as I comment on my reading progress on a more or less daily basis.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Reading the Unreadable - #2: The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

For anyone who doesn't know, or might possibly care, the list I'm using for my reading of the most unreadable books is this one published a few years ago by Buzzfeed.  Technically, by their criteria, these books are not necessarily unreadable, just difficult to get through.
I'm not sure why "The Sound and the Fury" by Faulkner made it onto that list, let alone to the #2 spot.  About the book, they say:
"The style is stream of consciousness with three different narrators and one third-person section. The first narrator is mentally disabled to the extent that he cannot process linear time and jumps between past and present mid-sentence."
Perhaps I'm just in a better mindset for it after just coming off Finnegan's Wake, but not only did I find this one relatively easy to get through, but I actually enjoyed it.  I didn't understand all of it, but I got enough of the story to enjoy Faulkner's deep dive into his characters.

Reading this book is like hearing events told through several characters internal monologue, sort of a Southern Gothic take on Rashomon.    The story of a Southern family in what appears to be a rapid decline, it is told through the perspective of a mentally challenged adult, an anguished college student, the conniving elder male of the family and through an omniscient view of the African-American maid Dilsey.  With such a diverse range of characters, each with their own idiolect and idiosyncracies, the reader is given an exploration of character and setting that is in-depth and personal in a way that no other narrative choices could deliver.

Although the unique nature of each character's inner voice makes the actual story hard to follow at times, it doesn't take a terribly in-depth understanding to figure out the main points of what is happening, and how the family is reacting to it.  As an outsider to Faulkner's work, I may be an outlier in thinking this, but it seems to me that this book is not so much about the story as it is about the characters; about the different viewpoints that can surround a set of events.  If there's any takeaway from this novel, it seems to me that it is the subjectivity of consciousness and experience.
It helps, too, that Faulkner's language is at times beautiful.  With sentences like, "Two tears slid down her fallen cheeks, in and out of the myriad coruscations of immolation and abnegation and time," used to describe Dilsey, this book can be pure joy to read, even if full comprehension is lacking.  It's a trip that's not about the destination, but it's definitely worth the journey.

I suspect that the rest of the books on this list won't be quite so easy to read, however.  Up next will be Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" in it's original English.  This one could prove an uphill battle.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Now Available: Brutal Blade of Bruno the Bandit Vol. 7!!!

Available at last!  Volume 7 of The Brutal Blade of Bruno the Bandit, collecting more great stories from the archives of Ian McDonald's popular webcomic. 

BRING ON THE LADIES! The women of Rothland take center stage in this latest volume, and they’re all ready to show Bruno who’s boss! Whether it’s former fame vampire Ella, Bruno’s cuter-than-cute daughter Delorus, the amorous Xantippa, or feisty sidekick Fiona, they all put Bruno in his place in “Bruno’s Queen”. Later, there’s the distant chimes of wedding bells as some of our “Couples” set themselves up to get hitched! Meanwhile, Bruno’s parents take a trip down a convoluted memory lane. Finally, the Mother Confuser helps Bruno find out whether Ricardo Aisa really is the good kind in “The Good Guy”. To top it all off, you get a peek behind the creative process in “Rough Strips”. Settle in for another wild ride as the women show the men how it’s done, and once again, some of the best comics on the web become some of the funniest comics in self-publishing.

Brutal Blade Vol. 7 is now available in print on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca, and in digital at DriveThru Comics.  Get it now!