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Raised By Squirrels is published by Panel Press.


You never call! Maybe you should instead? Seriously, we'd love to know what you think about RBS.


Occasional posts from (usually) Bram and (sometimes) Monica about comics in general, this comic in particular, art, design, publishing, visual culture, and far, far too many things about actual squirrels.


New Star Trek movie is coming. So maybe I should watch the last few.

Via Slashdot. Yeah, I read Slashdot. I don't always understand what they're talking about, but it's worth it for things like this.


So, then, it seems that the Death, Cold As Steel review at Broken Frontier was a victim of their server troubles. But, through the magic of Google's caching, I've salvaged the text. Read the original review »

Death, Cold As Steel #1
Review by Dave Baxter, posted February 18, 2007

Set in the world of Raised by Squirrels circa 1946, readers are treated to a bleakly noir tale of murder, meta-humans, government agencies, and shadow conspiracies.

An enigmatic character, Aubrey Norris, is brought in by the U.S. government to solve the unlikely death of one of their premiere World War II era super-men, the indestructible hero known as The Steel Soldier. And that, as they say, is the entirety of Death, Cold as Steel’s premise. From here on, not only can little more be said without likely revealing prime aspects of the plot, but nothing more can be said regardless as nothing more is given in issue #1. Which is not to say that nothing happens – far from it: an investigation gets underway and complications quickly arise, though overall, writer Bram Meehan does a commendable job of sifting quickly through the preliminaries while keeping the story saturated in complete ambiguity. Who is Aubrey Norris? Why was he recruited to solve the murder? And when things eventually get hairy – who are the villains and why are they plotting against our hero? Dunno, but after reading this first issue of three, I certainly want to find out.

Issue #1 primarily concerns itself with the introduction of a 1940’s S.Q.R.L. (Special Qualities Research Laboratory), the same organization that figured prominently in Panel Press’ launch title Raised by Squirrels. While I’m largely unfamiliar with that earlier book, I believe that it takes place in modern times, while Death is situated within a post-war version of the self-same universe. In this fashion, our mysterious protagonist Aubrey is guided through the very first – and indelibly small – generation of super-human operatives, and of the darker side of the spandex fantasy when death inevitably comes a-callin’.

Meehan has woven a very sparse, very simple narrative, one that is highly effective as a stark meditation on the typically glamorized worlds of the lone noir investigator and friendless espionage. Initially, it seemed as though the story was playing its portents too close to the vest, allowing only modest information with little to no discernable direction to be divulged – quickly, though, is it revealed that the characters themselves have little more to go on, thus planting the reader squarely (and fairly) within the protagonist’s milieu of inarticulate danger and distressingly distrait, near-desultory investigation.

Perhaps the most arresting and immediately striking aspect of the comic is the art, by New Mexico based painter Jaime Chase. With a background in creating acrylic and mixed media portraits on canvas and paper, Chase brings an undoubtedly abstract sensibility to what would otherwise be just another cartoon-flavored noir tale. Combining minimalist computer generated backgrounds with brushstroke blacks and a highly creative use of grey tone, Chase unleashes a world not terribly unlike a big fat black abyss that just happened to find vague shape and substance to a modernist figurative degree. The final result is a heavily grisaille-laden book, with a fine art approach and a surprisingly natural sequential storytelling effect, effortless to lose oneself within as a fast-paced (if austere and uninviting) yarn, yet additionally rewarding to steady, explicit study.

Imagine a story that combines Sandman Mystery Theater coupled with Dick Tracy and then toss in one of the more aimless David Lynch films such as Lost Highway, bolstered by art that lies somewhere between Peter Kuper and Chester Gould; a comic whose final product could easily be the next European hardcover as imported by Fantagraphics, as easily at home on a coffee table as it might be nestled within the Sunday funnies as the latest syndicated newspaper genre strip – it all adds up to Death, Cold as Steel. It’s flatly unique, though emphatically recognizable, an amalgamate that tries and (thus far) succeeds in crafting a high-low, B-movie/art-film combo. It’s a book that does more than regurgitate tired concepts and worn-out comic book art techniques, yet it does so without proving pretentious in the least. It’s wildly intriguing, if wholly different, and I for one am dead damn hooked!


Volume 2 is now available for purchase over there to the left — and we've posted Reginald's Squirrel Tale, with art by Jeff Benham.



That's me speaking for 7000 BC in the Pink Raygun interview.


Pete and Paul are going to have some Squirrels and Death along with their Fakin' the Funk tomorrow at Breakin' Hearts.


Via AdLand, ran across this post about the new CS 3 icons (which references this post at Adobe's blog). The new ones are kind of uninspiring, but I have to say that, as nice as the current icons are, they do nothing to identify the program; if you need labels for the icons, they're not really doing their job. Not to say I won't miss the beautiful packaging, done by MetaDesign, if I'm remembering correctly.


The first twelve pages of Ezekiel Fishman Versus the Martians, Steve's Gross Comics Project (that's gross as in "quantity," not as in "ewwwww").


Some time ago (geez, after SPX 05?), Monica was invited to participate in a special women of independent comics issue of Equal Footing. She created a Rose illustration, we wrote up a description, sent them off. A few months later, we checked with our comic shop, which had never heard of it. Then pretty much forgot about the whole thing.

But a few weeks back, she hunted down that issue of the magazine. We figure it never saw print, but is available on demand. And the Rose description, I think, still holds up pretty well, and may form the basis for the recently requested "Bio" section of the RBS site.

The magazine's actually a lot of fun. Got me interested in some of the characters and stories. And one of the first we saw when flipping through was Marc's Orexis.


"It’s a book that does more than regurgitate tired concepts and worn-out comic book art techniques, yet it does so without proving pretentious in the least." From the Broken Frontier review of Death, Cold As Steel. Issue two is off to the printer this week.

Update: Link to the review's broken. Trust us. They really liked it.


What have you learned? by Pete.


We always joke "everyone's an art director." Here's your chance.


"Squirrels On A Plane," notes Paul.


Maybe it's only interesting branding news for us (ex-) Nutmeggers, but Travelers is getting its name and umbrella back.


The other night, on a (fruitless) purge/reorganization of the collection, ran across Frank Ironwine (available as part of a collection here). Combining the talents of two of Squirrel Central's favorite talents, it leaves you wanting more — but in a way, it's perfect just as the one issue.


7000 BC meeting tomorrow at noon at North Fourth.


The Super Bowl's long over and Garfield, Adland, Adfreak, Adrants have their wrapups of the ads. I thought the Emerald Nuts was the best, combining a selling proposition with a funny premise; I liked the E-Trade holdup for a similar reason. The animation on the GM robot was well-done, but it too long a trip for such a muddled message; plus, we're supposed to feel sympathy for the robots now? FlowMax went too far, Sprint didn't go far enough. But we'll give Richard Thompson the last word in all this.


The Panel Press ComicSpace galleries are openRaised By Squirrels, Death, Cold As Steel, and New West.


Some Rose art, generated by the ASCII-O-Matic at typeorganism.


Here we go — the year's most awaited, over-analyzed, and expensive advertising during the Super Bowl. AdFreak plans on liveblogging and AdLand will have clips and commentary after the game. Bob Garfield should have his reviews by tomorrow.

Update: weak.


One of my goals is Phoenix was to visit the Bandido Studios table — and I had a momentary panic, until I found them in the Drawn To Comics booth. Last time, I got one of their Barrio Blues/Tales From The Barrio comics; and though it turns out my first look wasn't entirely representative of the series, I'm enjoying it a great deal.

They were also passing out a flyer for their upcoming The Rachel Agenda. The captions in the promo read: "Beware of girls named Rachel. Some of them aren't human. They are killer robots! They want to wipe out the human race. Secretly they kill heads of state and governments, working toward world domination. Luckily, there is hope. Three young ladies have sworn to save the world before it's too late!" How awesome does that sound?


"News, Reviews, and Interviews for Fangirls...and Boys." Pink Raygun (who we met and chatted with in Phoenix) just launched.


So, the report from the Phoenix Cactus Comicon. The setup was much better than last time, traffic was good, and we had a terrific time. We were seated next to Scott and Tamera from Vaughn Media, and had a blast joking and cooking up ideas with them. We also visited with our neighbors from Luchadork and Blacklist and checked out their work. Spent some time talking with the folks at Steamcrow Press. And we all went and saw a presentation from the nice couple behind Hi-Fi Colour Design, who were very gracious when we continued the Q&A session whenever we saw them for the rest of the show.

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