Fireside 2.1 (https://fireside.fm) Girls Talk Comics Blog https://girlstalkcomics.fireside.fm/articles Sun, 26 Dec 2021 17:00:00 -0600 Girls Talk Comics Blog en-us Girls Write Reviews - Chainsaw Man https://girlstalkcomics.fireside.fm/articles/chainsawmanreview Sun, 26 Dec 2021 17:00:00 -0600 girlstalkcomicslfk@gmail.com c45ed17b-b902-4ffa-a8f0-aee095020327 Chainsaw Man is published through Shonen Jump/Viz Media. It is written and drawn by Tatsuki Fujimoto.

As a manga title gets more and more popular, I am more and more likely to avoid it. Bleach, One Piece and Naruto were all narrative let downs for me, morphing from compelling stories to slapstick comedy or straight up battle-only tales. I will not downplay their impact or approachability, but I also won’t shy away from the reality that they aren’t for me. Chainsaw Man was one of those titles that began to be referenced with more reverence - and I became more nervous about reading or watching it.

Chainsaw Man became more noteworthy as its anime adaptation was announced and I started seeing more and more pictures of some dude with chainsaws coming out of his face, arms, and legs. Neon splatter was splashed across his clothes - a vibrant metaphor for blood splatter - and he just looked intense. I had shunned Dorohedoro - also advertised as goofy and violent - and was wrong, so was going to stay open to (but quiet about) reading and/or watching Chainsaw Man, just so I don’t miss out on an enjoyable visual adventure.

I wasn’t going to buy the tankobon though. There’s a paper shortage AND volume 1’s of ANY series are near impossible to find! Ain’t going to fight that fight, ya know? But I had already subscribed to the Shonen Jump app for an affordable $3 a month and guess what’s available there to read chapter by chapter?

Chainsaw Man. It’s pretty obvious. I mean, I’m not good at twists in these plots. Sorry y’all.

Anyways, look. Manga can be all over the place, but as a genre, I thoroughly enjoy absurd stories. Chainsaw Man is especially absurd. There is a young man - orphaned and eating rotten food in the streets - who is a close friend of a chainsaw demon, depicted as an adorable puppy with a chainsaw for a nose. The young man wields the demon as a weapon, chopping down demons left and right for cash. This eventually results in him being dismembered by zombie monsters but the chainsaw demon - empowered by their friendship and the magic of demons - takes over the young man’s body, bringing him back to life. With the lingering words of “live and show me your dreams”, he rises, shoots a chainsaw from his face and takes revenge against these demons.

His story progresses from there, these events all happening within the first volume of the Chainsaw Man tale. He is whisked away by a government agency; overwhelmed by just how freaking cool sleeping in a real bed is; and grieving the absence of his chainsaw dog friend. Soon he is distracted by his true dream though: touching a titty. He desperately wants to touch a boob. His motivation for this entire story is lust - which is something that I truly respect from a narrator. It's a stark contrast to the violence committed by the hero and his allies.

Yet, this horny teenager’s story is not full of only fanservice and humor. This story is an unexpected tragedy. We see our hero grow and bond with others; he lives a life of comfort and happiness; and finds the comfortable companionship that he had been missing. The tragedy? Brutal manipulation, murder, brainwashing, and the truly evil machinations of the story’s villain. For a boy who is just wanting to eat non-rotted food and sleep in a bed, the villain’s manipulation is unfathomably evil and blatantly cruel. However, it is compelling and presented with some amazing artwork.

The Chainsaw Man story was full and compelling, and I was actually disappointed that it came to an end, but all news is not bad, as there will be a second arc out eventually! I’m excited to see where Chainsaw Man goes - and how he handles high school!

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Girls Write Reviews - Deadliest Bouquet https://girlstalkcomics.fireside.fm/articles/deadliestbouquetreview Sat, 25 Dec 2021 11:00:00 -0600 girlstalkcomicslfk@gmail.com 9d60dd2b-fc13-4e11-98aa-9def1bbe2ba1 “They f^ck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do. They fill you with the faults they had and add some extra, just for you.” No matter how functional or dysfunctional our relationships with our parents may be, I think this quote always rings true. For some of us, it may just be little foibles or unfounded fears here and there (try being the daughter to a neat freak dad). But for others, like Poppy, Violet, and Rose, the three protagonists of The Deadliest Bouquet, the faults and trauma can be so much more. The Deadliest Bouquet, written and lettered by Erica Schultz art by Carola Borelli, colors by Gab Contreras (chapter 1-3) and Tom Chu (chapter 4-5), and with a cover by Kevin Wada tells the tale of three estranged sisters as they reunite to solve the murder of their mother.

I first found out about this book in May through an interview with Erica Schultz talking about the book. Immediately, I was hooked and shortly after backed the book on Kickstarter. Three sisters, all trained assassins, helping solve the murder of their mother who trained them? What’s not to love? I fully anticipated a graphic novel full of page after page of bad ass women kicking ass and taking names until they find the people responsible and putting them in the ground. What I got instead, and, I think, for the better, is a heartfelt story about sisters whose very different reactions to childhood trauma pushed them apart and what happens when circumstances force them back together.

The book opens at the same place many murder mysteries do: the murder. Jasmine Hawthorn, mother of our three protagonists and daughter of French resistance fighters, lays murdered in her flower shop. Rose Hawthorn, the oldest daughter, frantically calls her sister Poppy, now a wife and mother of two living in California, to tells her the news. Within mere moments, the tension is already there, as Poppy tells Rose, “You’re supposed to be taking care of her,” to which Rose angrily responds that it’s not her fault and that she has been left to deal with their mother all this time. Soon, the tension ramps up further as Rose and Poppy, now in the back room of the flower shop, are joined by the youngest sister, “Violent” Violet, a “model” (read: assassin) fresh off a plane from London. Violet is angry and ready to fight, putting her training to good use. Rose wants to take the quiet route, worried what more noisy methods might mean for the family and its secrets. Poppy, meanwhile, wonders why she is even there when she’s done so well to run away and establish a new life with a new family an entire country away.

It’s this tension between the three sisters that informs so much of the book going forward. We see the sisters bicker about Violet’s choice to beat up a bar full of bikers for answers. We see them argue over Poppy’s family and her attempts to hide them away. We see them quarrel over Rose’s efforts taking care of their mother in her declining health. All of these exchanges, however, stem from one place: how their mother raised them. We are shown this upbringing through flashback panels interspersed throughout each chapter. We see how they watched their mother kill their father and had them help her dispose of the body. We see panel after panel of the girls being taught to shoot, throw knives, sneak, and fight. We see the girls paired against each other in bare knuckle fights, being told that they are not sisters, they are enemies. With each panel, my heart broke more and more for young Rose, Poppy, and Violet as I saw just how traumatic it was for them to be raised by an overbearing mother incapable of raising anything other than trained killers.

As the book reaches its climax, you soon realize that this is not your more traditional crime drama about three sister assassins coming together to take on the world. No, what you see is a more personal story of the ways in which family can truly mess you up and what happens when you’re forced to come to terms with it. At times cool and stylish, at other times tragic, The Deadliest Bouquet delivers a fantastic story with great art that is definitely worth your time.

On the technical side, the book is just really well illustrated and beautifully colored. Every panel is clear and flows smoothly from one to the next without any jumps that make you go “okay, what happened?” The flashback panels have a slight sepia tone which helps make it clear when the action is taken place. All of the character designs, even those for the side characters, are also really cool and really sell the 1990s setting of the book. If I had to choose a favorite, it’d be Violet with Rose being a close second. The lettering was also great, with special shout-out to how the thought bubbles were created for each individual character.

Overall, The Deadliest Bouquet is an entertaining and heartfelt graphic novel that beautifully deals with family trauma in a unique and stylish way. I’d highly recommend it for any comic reader, but especially those with some family trauma in need of catharsis.

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Girls Write Reviews - Cagaster vol 1 https://girlstalkcomics.fireside.fm/articles/girls-write-reviews-cagaster-vol-1 Wed, 08 Dec 2021 17:00:00 -0600 girlstalkcomicslfk@gmail.com 8ddb2e38-d802-431d-b653-c917eb3f319a Cagaster's English publication was done through Ablaze Manga. It was writthen by and originally serialized and published by Kachou Hashimoto.

Cagaster's English publication was done through Ablaze Manga. It was writthen by and originally serialized and published by Kachou Hashimoto.

Cagaster is set in the year 2125 AD and in southwest Asia. Humanity has been struck down by a incurable disease that violently and rapidly transforms people into a bug. The disease spread rapidly, transforming people into massive and hungry bugs that proceeded to destroy human populations. The grew in number and grew in size and built horrifying nests in the ruins of cities. This upended society and gave rise to the Exterminators, bounty hunters who will take out these bugs... for a price. They are ruthless; they are cold; and apparently our hero Kidow is super young, super talented (and totally "not" a Mary Sue, am I right?) and the best Exterminator money could pay for.

We immediately see him in action, swooping, jumping, and slicing through the spine of a massive bug. I read this on Hoopla, and let me tell you, it made for a rather confusing series of panels. The action was impressive, but it was sure hard to follow when the app wants you to swipe left and yet you had to read right to left. I use certain cues - like which direction I'm flipping pages - to help me determine which direction I'm reading the text bubbles. (I sure hope this problem exists only on the Hoopla app, and not with Ablaze Manga.) When I figured out the right reading direction, I reread the action scenes; it was pretty impressive.

Much of this first volume is world building and introducing characters. Our hero is Kidow; he lives with an ecclectic group of outcasts; and now has an innocent, young, lady ward he has been entrusted to keep safe. Her name is Ilie and she soon proves herself to be innocent and stronger than she looks. But, her character design and age sure do make me uncomfortable. Kidow is only 17 years old and Ilie seems younger; Kidow is immediately goaded about taking an interest in women; and Ilie is later teased for seeming to fall for him. They are set up for a romance right from the start, and Ilie is immediately framed as "needing" him. Honestly, it's kinda boring. Ilie is a fun character, as she shows over time, but she is only a Damsel in Distress in Volume 1. I have no idea if that changes in the future volumes.

This volume is full of intrigue, too. A cannibal is running amok through Kidow's city and is targeting Exterminators - with Kidow as a special target. Whoever is hunting Exterminators reveals that their search is for Kidow in particular. They also clearly demonstrate how willing they are to kill to find him and even send him a threatening letter asking them to meet up at sunset - but guess what! That's also where Ilie will be after she solved her own problems! While Kidow was out killing bugs, Ilie took on the toughest challenge yet: proving herself to the local children by beating them - IN A GAME OF TAG! Unfortunately for Ilie and all these orphaned children, their game ends where - and when - this confrontation is meant to begin.

What a cliffhanger, am I right? Here's the deal: I'm going to keep reading this. It's pretty midtier, but it's free through Hoopla and just predictable enough to be comfortable in this time of high stress. Sure, I might guess the direction of the plot, but the theme and setting is new enough that I will be entertained. It's worth picking up, maybe checking out, and if y'all try the anime on Netflix, will you please let me know if it's worth it?

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Girls Write Reviews - Good Luck https://girlstalkcomics.fireside.fm/articles/goodluckboomreview Tue, 07 Dec 2021 20:00:00 -0600 girlstalkcomicslfk@gmail.com 22c1c0eb-44d4-4e6b-ab26-9dcafe6bacf1 Good Luck is from Matthew Erman, Stefano Simeone, and Mike Fiorentino and is published by BOOM! Studios. This review will contain a plot summary and spoilers. Good Luck is from Matthew Erman, Stefano Simeone, and Mike Fiorentino and is published by BOOM! Studios. This review will contain a plot summary and spoilers.

"Good Luck" hit comic shelves in June of 2021. It was hard to miss its cover, being drawn by Jorge Corona, and it was even harder for me to snub its bright colors. I have been known to pick up a book simply because it has a neon pallet. Color schemes may not be the best way to pick a book, but I had also been given a sneak preview. That certainly helped cinch the deal; "Good Luck" ended up on my pulls. It didn't disappoint!

Matthew and Team present an alternative dystopian future in this 5-part mini series. Classism pervails; resources are tight; and the world is subjected a collective fear of some grander evil, but instead of an incurable disease, humanity is tormented by the whims and instincts of Luck. Beings suddenly started appearing across the world, and they soon came to be known as The Constellations. They were embodiments of celestial bodies and brought their powers to bear upon us mere mortals. They really changed up our society, creating classism built on whatever random percentage of "Luck" we were gifted at birth. Some were born lucky enough that everything worked out in their favor; others were born with no Luck at all.

Which leads to why our three heroes were the chosen few. Of all the people in the world, these three had absolutely zero luck. They were abandoned by family; had their bodies permanently altered; and would never succeed - no matter how hard they practiced. Life was all struggles for these folks, but some scientist thought to use their lack of Luck for the greater good. When the Constellations appeared on Earth, they created areas dubbed "kismet." In each area existed a "kismet core." Matthew and Team kinda hurried over the science, but possessing a kismet core had the potential to change the world - including ending the Constellations. The problem was that getting to this core meant overcoming impossible obstacles that were warping time and space! The scientist then theorized that those with No Luck had the best chance to survive, if only equipped with intense training and artificial Luck. If successful, they could change the world; they could help answer why they had no Luck at all.

Good Luck Heroes

Matthew and Team then turn the story on its side. We sympathize with the heroes, as they are sent into the fray; as their lives are in danger; as they live the fantasies of being Lucky. We are angry when they are pulled from these fantasies and a Constellation blantantly tells them that they couldn't save the day unless they truly suffered, and what's suffering without knowing what could have been? We are then hit with the full reality of their kismet: death. This is also when I became completely angry about this story.

There's a quote about Liberty that implies that she's fucked on mattress of corpses, and an image about how Freedom feeds on the blood of sacrifices, and this story immediately pulled those quotes from the dark depths of my mind. Matthew and Team's story was one about hope, kindness, and perseverance; my interpretation was how cheap it is to immortalize those who make sacrifices in statues. This was a group of folks selected only because they were born with nothing, told they can change the world, and then let loose as cannon fodder. They wanted to live, but they wouldn't. They gave the ultimate sacrifice kindly and compassionately; the people who survived built them a statue. It left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. The world did not deserve the Heroes' compassion or sacrifice.

When it comes to quality, though, the book hits the marks. The art is great; the theming is great; and the writing is well done. There were some ending scenes where the art seemed rough, and my interpretation of the story made it difficult to accept the final lines about believing in "good luck" without scowling. Overall though, I'd read it again and recommend it to others. I wonder how I'd interpret it next time?

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Graphic Novels Erin Thinks About when Procrastinating https://girlstalkcomics.fireside.fm/articles/graphic-novels-erin-thinks-about-when-procrastinating Sun, 30 May 2021 20:00:00 -0500 girlstalkcomicslfk@gmail.com 6719e2c4-8264-4d87-916d-3cb9530f4fe6 Erin's top graphic novels for either their art, their writing, or just the fact that Erin can't stop thinking about them! Erin reads a LOT of stuff. A LOT of stuff. She's read so much that as SOON as people ask for recommendations, she forgets everything she's ever read. Okay, so volume of works and memory challenges aren't really related, but it's an excuse she'll lean on.

Whatever the problem might actually be, she wants to share the books that she thinks about when she otherwise doesn't want to work! Curious? Keep reading for more information!

The Adoption - Magnetic Press
By Zidrou and Arno Monin

The Adoption follows Gabriel, a retired butcher, whose son and daughter-in-law adopt a young girl from Peru. Gabriel is resistant to this new child, but finds himself babysitting her more and more often as the time goes. She worms her way into his life, with a tea set, a dessert menu, and a little pink bicycle. But why does Erin think about this book a lot? Well, the art is gorgeous, the story is bittersweet, and it's a tale about family. As Gabriel learns to love his new granddaughter, he is confronted with how he failed his own children. It's a story of love, family, and the power of a sliced pickle on a sandwich.

Habibi - Pantheon
By Craig Thompson

Habibi is a tale through time, in a fictional Islamic fairy-tale world, that takes a look at the relationships between humans; humans and the natural world; wealth; countries; and religions. It's a stunning book, with art that draws heavily on the beauty of caligraphy. But this book lingers on Erin's mind for, well, the discomfort in the book. Habibi has been met with significantly mixed reviews - and I think appropriately so. Thompson took on a great endeavor with this 2011 graphic novel, but some think it fell into the same traps of racist or appropriative works. Erin feels it's a bit ambitious for most American readers - it's hard to read a fantastical parable about a culture that was, in 2011, still relatively new to my generation.

Heck
By Zander Cannon

Heck was recommended to Erin by someone who so thoroughly loves this book that he keeps multiple copies in order to freely pass out copies to friends, family, and strangers who have never read it. Heck - short for Hector - is a man who found a portal to hell in his deceased father's house. Burdened with this new responsibility, he takes advantage of it, using it as a means to settle familial disputes between the living and the undead. This particular journey to hell is harsher than he could have expected, requiring more self-recollection and sacrifice - which is why Erin thinks about this one a lot. The art is more stylized and seems a bit simpler than the other works on this list, but the story is something that just... lingers. The harshness, the confrontations, and Heck's ally Elliot really just stuck with Erin. It's hard to shake off the guilt that's written into this story.

Sheets - Lion Forge
By Brenna Thummler

Sheets is targeted to middle schoolers, but even as an adult, the book helped Erin process some lingering grief. It's a story of a girl and a ghost who develop a friendship while coming to terms with death. The girl lost her mother and the ghost is struggling to accept his own demise. They work together to grow and change, becoming stronger people and friends. Brenna's art is beautiful, in varying shades of blue and pink, with characters who fidget with the hem of their shirt when they can't look adults in the eyes. But these characters are strong and work together to keep their lives as close to normal and happy as they can. They're just hard to forget!

Hope you enjoyed this list! Hope about you? Have any books you can't forget?

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Next Steps for the Girls https://girlstalkcomics.fireside.fm/articles/next-steps-for-the-girls Thu, 11 Mar 2021 21:00:00 -0600 girlstalkcomicslfk@gmail.com fdb3e988-a50e-4783-a12b-2637f07e2dcb Good day readers and listeners alike!

We really, really have been loving recording and developing this podcast. It has been a delight for us, and gives us the focus and structure we like to have in our free-time. Thank you for listening to us and enjoying our time!

We're trying to expand where you can hear us! We got connected with Apple Podcasts, which has been a huge milestone for us! It's been a huge moment of pride for us and we're going to celebrate for probably a long time. (We're just cool like that.)

We have some new goals for our 2021. Girls Talk Comics is looking at moving to YouTube! Or, at least, uploading our podcasts there. (The Girls aren't quite to livestreams yet.) We also are hoping to exceed 2,500 downloads this year! We're close and hopeful.

Wish us luck and see you around!

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Over 500 Listens - We Want Feedback! https://girlstalkcomics.fireside.fm/articles/over-500-listens-we-want-feedback Sat, 18 Jul 2020 16:00:00 -0500 girlstalkcomicslfk@gmail.com 5304d1c9-4284-4a54-9e36-5f5cb5c14f1f Have you followed us on Facebook yet? You should follow us on Facebook. Hey all! Thank you so much for all the listens. We broke our 500 listens milestone! This is such a fun thing for us - and it's nice to know that others are enjoying themselves!

We have a (semi-active) Facebook page. Follow us over here! We post about our newest episodes there and maybe share announcements? It's also the best place to get in contact with us, if you have questions, complaints or compliments! In fact, we haven't really heard from many of our listeners, and would really like to know what you like, what you don't like, or even what you want us to read. Please let us know if you have any recommendations or requests and we'll try to squeeze them in!

Thank you everybody, and we hope to hear from you soon!

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Black Lives Matter. https://girlstalkcomics.fireside.fm/articles/black-lives-matter Mon, 08 Jun 2020 11:45:00 -0500 girlstalkcomicslfk@gmail.com 37fbf27c-a617-4ec9-b65c-b2a4d1870b52 Black lives matter. Nothing more needs to be said. Instead, we see you, we hear you, we stand with you.

We also recommend you support Black creatives in the comic industry. More information can be found here at Comic Book Herald.

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A Brief Update, and Thank You https://girlstalkcomics.fireside.fm/articles/a-brief-update-and-thank-you Wed, 20 May 2020 16:00:00 -0500 girlstalkcomicslfk@gmail.com 5b1e1589-e11b-418d-979c-2d30db97595f Thank you to everyone who has been listening! It looks like we've had some new listeners come in, and that's an awesome feeling. Welcome and we hope you stick around!

We here at Girls-Talk-Comics are like a lof of people in the world right now: stressed out about COVID-19. It's impacted us hostesses in different ways, and that unfortunately meant that GTC got put on the backburner - but only just a little. We have content lined up to be released, and are just trying to get through some challenges soon.*

We can't wait to get back and sharing our opinions. See you soon!

*Erin will one day catch up on comics, she swears it!

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200 Downloads! What a surprise! https://girlstalkcomics.fireside.fm/articles/200-downloads-what-a-surprise Mon, 06 Apr 2020 23:00:00 -0500 girlstalkcomicslfk@gmail.com 96a047e5-fadd-4cd3-b985-ab803638d931 What an excuse to make a blog post! What a surprise! We made it to 200 downloads! Jessica and I started this as just a way to read our comics, talk about them, and try to throw some other voices out into the world.

And we are so glad you're here with us!

We have a lot that we're still figuring out and putting together for this. We're not lacking for comics - we've got a lot and they're a lot out there - so we're not running out of material anytime soon! Hope you stick around long enough to see where we go!

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