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Tag Archive: Battlepug


Review by C.J. Bunce

Image Comics is giving the celebrated Eisner and Harvey Award-winning series Battlepug a giant hardcover collected edition this month.  Written and illustrated by Mike Norton, Battlepug: The Compugdium collects all five volumes of the brilliant webcomic.  A series of humor-filled fantasy/adventure tales with the look and vibe of One Thousand and One Nights/Arabian Nights, Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian, Godzilla, and Ray Harryhausen movies, Battlepug is epic and unique.  Following stories told of the last Kinmundian as he rides his giant pug into the next town and next battle, Battlepug represents the best of the comic book and fantasy worlds.

With 336 pages in all with big 8.5 x 12 inch layouts, this is a book you’re going to keep returning to, fun for all ages.  Battlepug: The Compugdium includes Blood and Drool (the dreaded harp seal and Witch Toad!), The Savage Bone (meet Gil and some underwater types), Sit. Stay. Die! (a skull monkey and a host of giant underground beasts await), The Devil’s Biscuit (encounter a giant turtle spirit!), and The Paws of War (face the giant koala!).

Fans who have already gobbled down the five stories will still want to take a look at the Compugdium, as it includes plenty of great additional content: a gallery of 36 pages of Battlepug art from various artists, 15 pages of sketches, including some Norton layouts and early character images, plus cover art prints from the series.

Here are some great pages you’ll find in Battlepug: The Compugdium:

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For lucky canine-loving fanboys and fangirls out there who subscribe to LootCrate’s LootPets monthly box service, one of the best fantasy comic book series arrived on their doorstep this past week.  Originally a webcomic, the first year of Mike Norton‘s 2012 Eisner Award winning Battlepug was released back in 2012 by Dark Horse in a hardcover version and Volume 1 is now making an appearance across the globe in a trade edition thanks to LootPets.

What is Battlepug?  Norton artfully scribed another story of the Arabian Nights, even told by Sheherazade herself, only in Battlepug her name is Moll, a storyteller recounting the “Tale of the Warrior and the Battlepug” to her two pug dogs.  Norton goes where no one has gone before, recounting the origin story of a Conan type warrior set upon revenge resulting from a certain hell that laid waste to his people, leaving him the last Kinmundian.  And the form of destruction?  A giant (cute), evil (really cute), white harp seal.  And yes, our warrior has his revenge, off-camera beating the seal to death with a giant candy cane.  In taking that revenge he must defeat another oppressor, the king of the Northland Elves, who decrees a life of servitude for our hero.  The king himself is none other than Santa Claus himself, although not referred by that name.

Jadie adventure time shirt for borgdotcom

This all sounds very dark, doesn’t it?  How can it be funny and so good?  It’s in the delivery–putting such untouchables in such unthinkable situations is perfection. And it’s just really good.  I haven’t even mentioned the curse of the thousand angry gophers, the “scribbly scrabbly” crazy man who accompanies our hero, the fate of the witch toad, the almighty God-dog the White, or even the entry of the eager and brave Battlepug into the story.

Back in a review of Battlepug here at borg.com in 2012, I compared Norton’s series to David Petersen’s Mouse Guard, a series of comic books that when compiled read like classic children’s storybooks.  Norton and Petersen have this niche in common with their books–you want to sit down and have storytime.  These guys are among the best Eisner Award winning comic book artists that write as well as they draw, and they are both among the nicest guys in the business you’ll ever meet.  With Battlepug you have beautiful images, interesting and funny surprise characters, and a narrative structure and tale that would fall alongside any other classic tale on your bookshelf.  It’s no wonder Norton was recognized by the Eisner committee–this isn’t only crazy silliness, it’s a story with roots in classic fiction and the beginnings of a character who could hold his own with Conan and Tarzan.

So what else made the LootPets crate this month?

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Hawkeye issue 11   Afterlife with Archie main cover

The annual Harvey Award nominations close tomorrow.  The nominees for best works in the comic book industry are being voted on by comic book creators, with the final award ceremony to be held at Baltimore Comic-Con on September 6, 2014.  The recently combined publisher BOOM! Studios and imprint Archaia lead this year out of the gates with 30 nominations.  Independent publisher IDW Publishing received no nominations and the biggest, DC Comics, received only one.  Probably not surprisingly one of our favorite books, Marvel Comics’ Hawkeye, is a top contender, along with David Petersen’s latest Mouse Guard work.

More of our favorites are recognized again this year: Francesco Francavilla’s Afterlife With Archie is up for Best New Series and Mike Norton’s Battlepug for best online comic.  Here are the 2014 nominations for 2013 works, followed by this year’s Eisner Award winners for those that may have missed their announcement during the busy weekend of SDCC 2014.

2014 Harvey Award Nominees

Best Writer

James Asmus, Quantum and Woody, Valiant Entertainment
Matt Fraction, Hawkeye, Marvel Comics
Matt Kindt, Mind Mgmt, Dark Horse Comics
Brian K. Vaughn, Saga, Image Comics
Mark Waid, Daredevil, Marvel Comics

Best Artist

David Aja, Hawkeye, Marvel Comics
Dan Parent, Kevin Keller, Archie Comics
Nate Powell, March: Book One, Top Shelf Production
Chris Samnee, Daredevil, Marvel Comics
Fiona Staples, Saga, Image Comics
Jeff Stokely, Six Gun Gorilla, BOOM! Studios

Best Cartoonist

Matt Kindt, Mind Mgmt, Dark Horse Comics
Comfort Love and Adam Withers, Rainbow in the Dark, uniquescomic.com
Terry Moore, Rachel Rising, Abstract Studios
Dan Parent, Kevin Keller, Archie Comics
David Petersen, Mouse Guard: The Black Axe, BOOM! Studios/Archaia
Paul Pope, Battling Boy, First Second

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Year's En

Merry Christmas!

It’s the end of December and another year is winding down.  Everywhere you turn someone is talking about the Best of 2012, so here we offer our take, resulting from absorbing more content this year than ever before, from books to movies to TV to comics, we reviewed and previewed entertainment from most of the big comic book publishers, and received screeners of shows and books from different publishing houses.  And we watched a lot of TV and went to a number of movies.  So what was the best of the best this year?  No one will ever have the same list but here’s where we ended up:

Best Genre Movie:  The Hobbit.  We had to wait all year for the release but once we saw it–it was well worth the wait and we want to go back and see it again and again.  How could you possibly follow one of the only fantasy films ever to win a Best Picture Academy Award and expect to come close in quality and entertainment?  Peter Jackson figured it out.  Not even The Avengers came close to touching this epic film with giant sets, special effects, elaborate costumes, a perfect story adaptation, and the best CGI creature to date: a Gollum even better than in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Best Dramatic Film: Argo It was an international event more recent in the public psyche than even Watergate, yet it had never been addressed on the silver screen before–the kidnapping of American nationals in Iran.  Ben Affleck served as both director and star of the film and performed both roles brilliantly.  Both exciting and funny–with the incredibly bizarre hook of using Hollywood to create a sci-fi B movie as CIA cover to sneak in to Iran and remove a small group of hostages–it was a story worthy of adapting to screen.  Brilliant!

Best Animated Movie: Brave Kelly McDonald’s wonderful Scottish voice, an all-star Brit voice cast including Emma Thompson, Bill Connolly, Julie Walters and Robbie Coltrane, coupled with Brenda Chapman’s story and the best of Walt Disney and Pixar’s animation so far, make Brave the slam dunk animated film winner of 2012.   A gorgeous film about a tough and feisty red-headed girl skilled with a bow and arrow who wants to make her own destiny provided a great story for young and old alike.

Best Animated TV Series: Tron: Uprising Disney Television Animation finally figured out a way to bring its Tron franchise forward with Tron: Legacy, and this prequel series gives us what the movie lacked–more Bruce Boxleitner as Tron.  We hardly noticed this wasn’t a live action series, and with voice actors like Frodo’s Elijah Wood, Alien’s Lance Henriksen, Paul Reubens and Tricia Helfer, you could hardly go wrong.  The brilliant choice of lighting, futuristic yet retro light cycles and funky soundtrack made this one worth coming back for each week.

Grimm-Silas-Weir-Mitchell-Bree-Turner

Best Actor: Silas Weir Mitchell, Grimm With the updates for the second season of Grimm, Mitchell’s reformed Blutbad Monroe was hard to beat as the sometimes hilarious sometimes dramatic glue that held the series together, setting up new conflicts, like the strange discovery of Renard and Juliette’s relationship, sure to drive the story next year.

Ksenia Solo as Kenzi in Lost Girl

Best Actress: Ksenia Solo, Lost Girl.  As succubus and series star Bo’s tagalong human friend and roommate Kenzi, Solo held half of the dramatic workload for the Canadian series first released to U.S. audiences this year on the Syfy Channel.  The Latvian born actress plays it funny and smart–she makes for the ideal kickass girl from the best genre fiction stories.

Cobie Smulders in The Avengers

Best Breakout Role–Female:  Cobie Smulders as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Maria Hill in The Avengers.  We knew her already from How I Met Your Mother, but Smulders took what could have been a throwaway background role in the biggest movie of the year and instead put her character’s footing almost on par with the Avengers themselves, heading up an early chase scene and appearing with Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury throughout the film.  Now she’s set to come back for the next Avengers films, she’s a character that we never knew about but are glad she’s on the team going forward.

Max Greenfield in New Girl

Best Breakout Role–Male: Max Greenfield as Schmidt in New Girl.  Greenfield is one among a handful of great young actors in New Girl, now in its second season, but this season his character Schmidt stepped out to create the craziest, most hysterical moment of nearly every episode.  Whether he is ranting that there is no black Santa Claus, or trying to show a stripper how to lap dance the right way, whether he is wearing his high-cut male kimono, ranting about germs, or his stupid actions result in him putting the most money in the coffee table jar, Greenfield took a funny part and stretched it to insanely funny.  This from the same guy who performed dramatic roles in Veronica Mars, Life and Castle?  Awesome.

Best Guest Appearance:  Scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s appearance in Action Comics. It was a bit of a marketing gimmick, but what could tie the education of real science, a popular TV non-fiction series host and comic book readers together better?  The real star-vested Tyson found a possible location for Superman’s home planet of Krypton, revealing it to the Man of Steel in the pages of the ongoing series.

Best TV series: Arrow, CW Network.  We got our first look at the pilot for this series at Comic-Con this year and loved it, but wasn’t sure how it would appeal to a mass audience.  Pretty much everyone we know watches this series, including those who would never otherwise think to look at a series about a masked superhero.  We have a critical eye out for all things Green Arrow, but Arrow, led by a well-cast Stephen Amell, surpassed our expectations.

Best Comedy Series: New Girl, Fox Network.  New Girl wins this category from one simple thing: This series made this writer laugh so hard his gut hurt and corresponding tears shot out of his eyes from the quick humor in so many scenes this year he lost count.  And when the series dipped into dramatic elements it never veered far from the core of what makes the show work–it’s a comedy first.  Tuesday night this year was New Girl night.  Jess, Nick, Schmidt, Winston and Cece could be the next Friends (but funnier) if the series can get a wider audience.

Sherlock Belgravia episode

Best Single TV Episode: Sherlock, “A Scandal in Belgravia,” BBC America.  You just have to watch this episode of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman’s brilliant series over and over.  The entry of the beautiful and unpredictable Irene Adler, played by Lara Pulver, was perfection, and Cumberbatch and Martin’s scene with Sherlock’s brother Mycroft in Buckingham Palace can’t be beat.  Sure to be a classic episode for years to come.

Best Cliffhanger: Shawn’s dad gets shot, Psych, USA Network.  It seems like it has been forever since Shawn’s dad Henry, played by Corbin Bernsen was shot at the end of this season’s last episode of the hit USA Network comedy/drama series.  At its core, Psych is a light-hearted pleasure, so they just CAN’T kill off Henry.  We’re really looking forward to finding out.

Best Series Ender: In Plain Sight, USA Network.*  In a year where several mega-hits wrapped for good, including House, M.D., The Closer, Awake, and Chuck, one series finale tied up all the necessary loose ends the best, and that was the aptly titled “All’s Well that Ends” from In Plain Sight, which ended after five solid seasons.  The writers skipped the gimmicks, with no gut wrenching death scenes for major cast players, but instead honored the characters as they’d been for the entire series, rewarding viewers with an end where everyone wins.  *Update:  Leverage‘s surprise December 25, 2012 series finale came in with a powerhouse finale, slightly trumping In Plain Sight at the last minute after we posted this piece.  See our review here.

Jason Isaacs in Awake

Best Series that Cancelled Too Early: Awake, NBC Network We only got to see 12 episodes of Awake, but in those episodes we saw a great paranormal drama develop.  Jason Isaacs, like Paul Blackthorne, is one of those actors you want to helm a series every week.  His dual role of father who lost his kid and husband that lost his wife, both in the same auto accident, showed this actor could do anything with a role.  Although they were able to nicely wrap-up Awake in its last episode, we’d prefer to have seen a lot more of it.

Best Surprise in Entertainment: Dallas, TNT Network.  How was this even possible?  Who would think to take THE 1980s primetime soap and bring it forward to 2012, AND think it could work?  TNT mixed a CW Network-inspired young cast with a plot continuing the struggles in the classic series and melded it into something for anyone willing to give it a try.  Larry Hagman’s J.R. Ewing never missed a beat as the ultimate TV villain, even in his 80s.  The writers took bits from the tangents of the original to concoct the main storyline of two young heirs fighting for family and social dominance.  The result was addictive TV.

The Major Crimes Gallery

Best Comeback:  The ensemble cast of Major Crimes The great thing about a great ensemble cast is that you like every player equally.  When this is successful, you can stand to lose a character or two and still keep going, or as was the case with the wind-up of The Closer, lose three main characters: Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson, Chief Pope, and Sgt. Gabriel.  Major Crimes added three new replacement characters and never missed a beat, pleasing fans who knew it was too soon for the stories from the L.A. Major Crimes unit to end.

Best Second Wind: Haven, Syfy Channel Some cable TV series limp along and just end after a year or two.  Haven’s single theme of solving the riddle of “the troubles” seemed a candidate for this, but something switched on with the 2012 season allowing the rich stories and great cast chemistry to give us the series’ best episodes in its three-year run so far.

Volkswagen cantina commercial

Best Genre-Related Advertisement:  Star Wars Super Bowl ad, Volkswagen The best Super Bowl ad last January with a dog, a James Brown tune, and a pristine recreation of the Mos Eisley Cantina from the original Star Wars was an instant classic that will be hard to beat in 2013.  Complete with its own recreated hive of scum and villainy, Tom Spina Designs’ creatures gave us something we want to see more of–maybe a new Disney-produced TV series based in Mos Eisley using all these obscure characters fanboys know by name?  Missed it?  See the full ad here.

Best Press Marketing: Coma mini-series press kit, A&E Network We at borg.com received tons of content this year, from books to comics to advance screeners, but one marketing gag was so awesome in its own right it surpassed what it was advertising.  The advance marketing for the Coma TV series marked a possible return by A&E to the classic TV shows we used to get in the days of shows like Price and Prejudice or Nero Wolfe.  Sporting an underground conspiracy plotline, print and online ads created a cool concept that the mini-series itself did not quite match.  When we received a human organ carrier in a “thawed” labeled box that we cautiously unzipped to find the screener, well that was just too awesome not to mention again.

Best Costumes: The Hobbit The Hobbit already made our Best Genre Movie of 2012, but it’s worth a second nod for having the most incredibly crafted costumes of possibly any film made so far in any year.  Building on the costumes of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the slow panning of the camera in The Hobbit allowed us to see every seam on Bilbo’s patch-work coat, and every new emblem on each dwarf’s tunic.  How can a production make so many unique costumes for one film?  The result sets the standard for all major films to come.

Doctor Who A Town Called Mercy

Best Borg Appearance: The Cyborg Gunslinger, Doctor Who episode, “A Town Called Mercy” Andrew Brooke’s gunslinger was a slick-looking borg addition, a throwback to Westworld that gave us equal parts of good sci-fi and classic Western movies.  Doctor Who has created the best costumes and make-up of any sci-fi franchise in the past few years and this guy just looked great.

Best Web Series: TableTop bi-weekly Internet series, Geek and Sundry.  Wil Wheaton, known for Star Trek: The Next Generation and more recently his appearances on Big Bang Theory and Leverage, as host of his own online series, brought us all back from the video game world to the boardgame format that allows friends to really interact and have fun for their own game nights.   He chatted over great games like Tsuro, Munchkin and Zombie Dice with friends and celebrities alike, and showed us what could easily translate to its own Game Show Network series.

Best Villain:  The Harp Seal, Battlepug, Mike Norton. Easy choice.  This year’s Eisner Award winner for best digital comic revealed this unexpected villain, a funny surprise for readers.  Imagine a world where the harp seal gets its due–a role reversal where warriors fear him over all other creatures.  A great idea.

Best Ongoing Comic Book Series (tie):  All-Star Western, DC ComicsArtist Moritat and writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti took a long-dead comic book title and bridged 1800s Gotham City and Jonah Hex to make a gritty and fun book that rose to the top of DC Comics’ New 52 titles first released in September 2011.  Who knew a Western comic could be this good?  Bionic Man, Dynamite Comics Phil Hester took a Kevin Smith script and expanded on it, taking the most nostalgic bits of the classic Six Million Dollar Man TV series and updating it for 2012.  The highlight of the fun was an appearance by the classic TV series guest star, Bigfoot.

Thor - God of Thunder 1

Best Single Comic Book Issue: Thor, God of Thunder #1, Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic.  How do you reintroduce a classic character like Thor in a new way?  Exactly like Aaron does in this first issue of his new series, breaking up his story into three time periods, and highlighting the changing face of Thor over time.  Ribic’s lush images of Thor and a certain strange new world escalated this book to the top of my year’s reads.

JK Woodward AssimilationSquared

Best Comic Book Art: JK Woodward, Star Trek The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation².  J.K. Woodward’s painted artwork throughout this limited series was stunning.  Probably the best depiction to-date of Star Trek characters in a comic book, Woodward took a fanboy’s dream job of merging two of the biggest sci-fi franchises together for the first story ever attempted and delivered a great looking story, now available in a trade edition.  We just want to see more.

Mystery in Space 1 by Ryan Sook

Best Comic Book Cover Art:  Mystery in Space, Ryan Sook, Vertigo Comics Ryan Sook had a big year, providing sensational covers for everything from The Shadow to the new Sword of Sorcery to one of our favorite titles, Justice League Dark.  But his cover for Vertigo Comics’ Mystery in Space #1 blended sci-fi and fantasy in the best way, with a steampunk angel painting the universe inside a spaceship with the help of flitting fairies, or is she creating our actual universe?  A great idea and perfect execution made this a standout on the store shelf this year.

Hawkeye cover by David Aja

Best Comic Book Cover Art Runner-up:  Hawkeye mini-series, David Aja Aja’s six unique Hawkeye series covers served not only to entice us to read this mini-series with great use of simple colors, but his own artwork between the covers made us feel like we were rewarded with what was advertised–a very cool and unusually stylish series.

Best Comics Collected Edition:  Flash Gordon, Volumes 1 and 2, Titan Books These were the best presented books we reviewed this year.  Reprinted Sunday comics from the 1930s and 1940s in a giant-sized edition that allowed readers to appreciate the story and art of creator Alex Raymond was a feast for the eyes.  The content allowed readers to see just how relevant and interesting the original mash-up of sci-fi and fantasy could be.

Best Retro Reviewed Book: Moonraker, Ian Fleming.  Casino Royale was a great read, Live and Let Die was a bit of a letdown, but Moonraker was as exciting as any book I’ve read in years.  Far different from the film of the same name, this thriller was packed with spy world intrigue.  Compared to all the other retro reviews this year, including Philip K. Dick classics, this one really stood out.

Best Reviewed Book: Dracula Cha Cha Cha, Kim Newman Although it was initially released in 1998, a new edition was re-released this year.  The best “post-modern steampunk” mash-up and incredibly detailed world building made this novel a great read, full of artful prose and creative crossovers.  Newman also added another level of storytelling, mixing the real world with the world of fiction, and the result is a densely packed, enjoyable volume.

Bond and Queen

Best Mash-Up of Fiction and Non-Fiction Worlds:  James Bond accompanies the Queen to the Olympics 2012 was the Year of Bond with his 50th year in film.  How better to highlight the best of Jolly Old England at this year’s Summer Olympics than to begin with a meeting of the current James Bond, Daniel Craig, and the actual Queen Elizabeth II in her 60th year in Buckingham Palace, followed by a faked aerial dive by the Queen over the stadium in London.  The Queen was a real sport, adding herself to the long list of Bond girls.  And don’t forget the real-world borg Oscar Pistorius’s impressive showings at the Olympics this year.

Comic-Con Firefly 10th Anniversary Panel

Best Genre Event: The Firefly 10th Anniversary Panel at Comic-Con.  More than 7,000 fans stood in line for only about 5,000 seats but the all-night wait was worth seeing most of the cast of Firefly reunite with creators Joss Whedon and Tom Minnear to talk about the short-lived series.  Firefly fans are a passionate bunch, and were able to get Whedon to make the big-budget movie Serenity a few years after cancellation.  But get most of the stars to come back ten years later?  Pretty cool feat.  With Whedon and series co-star Adam Baldwin (Jayne) dropping by to greet the people sleeping and standing in line overnight it was an event that attendees will never forget.

Best News Story: George Lucas sells Star Wars rights to Disney Some liked it and some hated it, but as months go by we’ll see what it all means.  As entertainment goes, this multi-billion dollar exchange was the talk everywhere this year.

Best Science Story: Curiosity lands on Mars.  NASA’s description of dropping a rover on the surface of the planet Mars sounded like threading a needle blind-folded wearing gloves.  Its early morning coverage of the successful landing was something like the moon landing, and made everyone want to see what more we can do in the space program now that the last Space Shuttle has been mothballed.  What will the future hold for NASA and humans in outer space?

Best Nationwide Genre Participation Event: The Avengers Marathon, AMC Theaters We only wished for something like this when we were kids–the ability to watch something like all the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies in one screening.  The lead-up to the midnight premiere of The Avengers allowed fans to watch all the lead-in Avengers films so far:  Iron Man I and II, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger.  A great idea that will hopefully continue with other franchise films.

Best Single Thing for Genre Works: The Avengers movie.  Genre, and specifically superhero, films needed a good kickstart.  The dark and dreary Dark Knight trilogy from Christopher Nolan was monopolizing superhero films, and we needed a giant, vibrant superhero film to usher in a new age of comic book films and Joss Whedon delivered the goods.  It’s not a perfect film (and what is?) but was completely fun and entertaining, delivering something every fan could enjoy.  Challenging the top two positions for all-time box office draw also showed everyone that fans want to see more of this kind of movie.

What were your favorites?  We hope a few of these are on your own list.  We at borg.com will be back with more coverage and reviews in 2013.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Review by C.J. Bunce

Originally a webcomic, the first year of Mike Norton‘s 2012 Eisner Award winning Battlepug has now been released by Dark Horse in a hardcover version.  It’s so crazy and cool–and strange–that you might just skip over it.  Originally it was online for free, so why a hardcover version?  Simply because it’s worthy of a hardcover version, and its a nicely designed volume at that.

So what the heck is a Battlepug?  Intentional or not, Norton artfully scribed another story of the Arabian Nights, even told by Sheherazade herself, only in Battlepug her name is Moll, a storyteller recounting the “Tale of the Warrior and the Battlepug” to her two pug dogs.   Norton goes where no one has gone before, recounting the origin story of a Conan type warrior set upon revenge resulting from a certain hell that laid waste to his people, leaving him the last Kinmundian.  And the form of destruction?  A giant (cute), evil (really cute), white harp seal.  And yes, our warrior has his revenge, off-camera beating the seal to death with a giant candy cane.  In taking that revenge he must defeat another oppressor, the king of the Northland Elves, who decrees a life of servitude for our hero.  The king himself is none other than Santa Claus himself, although not referred by that name.

This all sounds very dark and awful, doesn’t it?  How can it be funny and so good?  It’s in the delivery and the absurdity of it all–the gall of putting such untouchables in such unthinkable situations.  It’s something that I think big kids would get a kick out of.  This book is clearly written for me as an audience, but who else?  It’s worth noting that our storyteller is lying naked in bed telling the story to her two dogs.  Of course she is covered and I really don’t think little kids would even notice, but it’s all so strangely subversive, and… really, really good.

I haven’t even mentioned the curse of the thousand angry gophers, the “scribbly scrabbly” crazy man who accompanies our hero, the fate of the witch toad, the almighty God-dog the White, or even the entry of the eager and brave Battlepug into the story.

It all reminds me of David Petersen’s Mouse Guard, a series of comic books that when compiled read more like children’s storybooks (which we will review here on a later date).  Norton and Petersen have this niche in common with both of their hardcover presentations–you want to sit down with these books and have storytime.  These guys are comic book artists, yet these projects harken back to something like oversized Little Golden Books but for a more mature audience.  With Battlepug you have beautiful images, interesting and funny surprise characters, and a narrative structure and tale that would fall alongside any other classic tale on your bookshelf.  It’s no wonder he was recognized by the Eisner committee–this isn’t only crazy silliness, it’s a story with roots in classic fiction and the beginnings of a character who could hold his own with Conan and Tarzan.

You won’t be disappointed with Mike Norton’s Battlepug.

Mike Norton’s Battlepug: Volume 1–Blood and Drool is available in comic book stores, other bookstores and online.

By C.J. Bunce

Comic-Con International just announced its nominations for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards 2012 and we’re ecstatic two borg.com favorites were nominated:  Terry Moore was nominated for his new dark series Rachel Rising as Best Continuing Series and the coveted Best Writer/Artist Award, and Mike Norton was nominated for his Battlepug book for Best Digital Comic.

Other notable nominees include DC New 52 writer Jeff Lemire, who had a big year with several comics, including Animal Man, Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown, Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E., and Sweet Tooth.  Also, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely were nominated for Best Graphic Album – Reprint for their stunning story of bionic animals: WE3: The Deluxe Edition. Francesco Francavilla was nominated as Best Cover Artist for his Black Panther, Lone Ranger, Lone Ranger/Zorro, Dark Shadows, Warlord of Mars, and Archie Meets Kiss.

Here, Best Publication for Young Adults nominees Gene Yang and Vera Brosgol sign books along with borg.com writer Elizabeth C. Bunce after the Diversity in Young Adult Books panel at Comic-Con last summer:

Congratulations to all the nominees!

Best Short Story
“A Brief History of the Art Form Known as Hortisculpture,” by Adrian Tomine, in Optic Nerve #12 (Drawn & Quarterly)
“Harvest of Fear,” by Jim Woodring, in The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror #17 (Bongo)
“The Phototaker,” by Guy Davis, in Metal Hurlant vol. 2 (Humanoids)
“The Seventh,” by Darwyn Cooke, in Richard Stark’s Parker: The Martini Edition (IDW)
“The Speaker,” by Brandon Graham, in Dark Horse Presents #7 (Dark Horse)

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)
Daredevil #7, by Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera, and Joe Rivera (Marvel)
Ganges #4, by Kevin Huizenga (Fantagraphics)
Locke & Key: Guide to the Known Keys, by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
Princeless #3, by Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin (Action Lab)
The Unwritten #24: “Stairway to Heaven” by Mike Carey, Peter Gross, and Al Davison (Vertigo/DC)

Best Continuing Series
Daredevil, by Mark Waid, Marcos Martin, Paolo Rivera, and Joe Rivera (Marvel)
Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys, by Naoki Urasawa (VIZ Media)
Rachel Rising, by Terry Moore (Abstract Studio)
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli (Marvel)
Usagi Yojimbo, by Stan Sakai (Dark Horse)

Best Limited Series
Atomic Robo and the Ghost of Station X, by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener (Red 5)
Criminal: The Last of the Innocent, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Marvel Icon)
Flashpoint: Batman – Knight of Vengeance, by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso (Vertigo/DC)
The New York Five, by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly (Vertigo/DC)
Who Is Jake Ellis? by Nathan Edmondson & Tonci Zonjic (Image)

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7)
Beauty and the Squat Bears, by Émile Bravo (Yen Press)
Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking, by Philippe Coudray (Candlewick/Toon Books)
Dragon Puncher Island, by James Kochalka (Top Shelf)
Nursery Rhyme Comics, edited by Chris Duffy (First Second)
Patrick in a Teddy Bear’s Picnic, by Geoffrey Hayes (Candlewick/Toon Books)

Best Publication for Kids (ages 8-12)
The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold, by Sholly Fisch, Rick Burchett, and Dan Davis (DC)
Amelia Rules: The Meaning of Life … And Other Stuff, by Jimmy Gownley (Atheneum)
The Ferret’s a Foot, by Colleen AF Venable and Stephanie Yue (Graphic Universe/Lerner)
Princeless, by Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin (Action Lab)
Snarked, by Roger Langridge (kaboom!)
Zita the Space Girl, by Ben Hatke (First Second)

Best Publication for Young Adults (Ages 12-17)
Anya’s Ghost, by Vera Brosgol (First Second)
Around the World, by Matt Phelan (Candlewick)
Level Up, by Gene Yang and Thien Pham (First Second)
Life with Archie, by Paul Kupperberg, Fernando Ruiz, Pat & Tim Kennedy, Norm Breyfogle et al. (Archie)
Mystic, by G. Willow Wilson and David Lopez (Marvel)

Best Anthology
Dark Horse Presents, edited by Mike Richardson (Dark Horse)
Nelson, edited by Rob Davis and Woodrow Phoenix (Blank Slate)
Nursery Rhyme Comics, edited by Chris Duffy (First Second)
The Someday Funnies, edited by Michel Choquette (Abrams ComicArts)
Yiddishkeit: Jewish Vernacular and the New Land, edited by Harvey Pekar and Paul Buhle (Abrams ComicArts)

Best Humor Publication
The Art of Doug Sneyd: A Collection of Playboy Cartoons (Dark Horse Books)
Chimichanga, by Eric Powell (Dark Horse)
Coffee: It’s What’s for Dinner, by Dave Kellett (Small Fish)
Kinky & Cosy, by Nix (NBM)
Milk & Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad, by Evan Dorkin (Dark Horse Books)

Best Digital Comic
Bahrain, by Josh Neufeld, www.cartoonmovement.com/comic/24
Battlepug, by Mike Norton, www.battlepug.com
Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, by Tony Cliff, www.delilahdirk.com
Outfoxed, by Dylan Meconis, www.dylanmeconis.com/outfoxed
Sarah and the Seed, by Ryan Andrews, www.ryan-a.com/comics/sarahandtheseed01.htm

Best Reality-Based Work
Around the World, by Matt Phelan (Candlewick)
Green River Killer: A True Detective Story, by Jeff Jensen and Jonathan Case (Dark Horse Books)
Marzi: A Memoir, by Marzena Sowa and Sylvain Savoia (Vertigo/DC)
Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly)
Vietnamerica, by GB Tran (Villard)

Best Graphic Album – New
Bubbles & Gondola, by Renaud Dillies (NBM)
Freeway, by Mark Kalesniko (Fantagraphics)
Habibi, by Craig Thompson (Pantheon)
Ivy, by Sarah Olekysk (Oni)
Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand, adapted by Ramón K. Pérez (Archaia)
One Soul, by Ray Fawkes (Oni)

Best Graphic Album – Reprint
Big Questions, by Anders Nilsen (Drawn & Quarterly)
The Death Ray, by Dan Clowes (Drawn & Quarterly)
Richard Stark’s Parker: The Martini Edition, by Darwyn Cooke (IDW)
WE3: The Deluxe Edition, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (Vertigo/DC)
Zahra’s Paradise, by Amir and Khalil (First Second)

Best Archival Collection/Project – Strips
Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim, by Alex Raymond and Don Moore, edited by Dean Mullaney (IDW/Library of American Comics)
Forgotten Fantasy: Sunday Comics 1900-1915, edited by Peter Maresca (Sunday Press)
Prince Valiant vols. 3-4, by Hal Foster, edited by Kim Thompson (Fantagraphics)
Tarpé Mills’s Miss Fury Sensational Sundays, 1944-1949, edited by Trina Robbins (IDW/Library of American Comics)
Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse vols. 1-2, by Floyd Gottfredson, edited by David Gerstein and Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)

Best Archival Collection/Project – Comic Books
Government Issue: Comics for the People: 1940s-2000s, edited by Richard L. Graham (Abrams ComicArts)
The MAD Fold-In Collection, by Al Jaffee (Chronicle)
PS Magazine: The Best of Preventive Maintenance Monthly, by Will Eisner (Abrams ComicArts)
The Sugar and Spike Archives, vol. 1, by Sheldon Mayer (DC)
Walt Simonson’s The Mighty Thor Artist’s Edition (IDW)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material
Bubbles & Gondola, by Renaud Dillies (NBM)
Isle of 100,000 Graves, by Fabien Vehlmann and Jason (Fantagraphics)
Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot, by Jacques Tardi and Jean-Patrick Manchette (Fantagraphics)
The Manara Library, vol. 1: Indian Summer and Other Stories, by Milo Manara with Hugo Pratt (Dark Horse Books)
Night Animals: A Diptych About What Rushes Through the Bushes, by Brecht Evens (Top Shelf)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Asia
A Bride’s Story, by Kaoru Mori (Yen Press)
Drops of God, by Tadashi Agi and Shu Okimoto (Vertical)
Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly)
Saturn Apartments, vols. 3-4, by Hisae Iwaoka (VIZ Media)
Stargazing Dog, by Takashi Murakami (NBM)
Wandering Son, vol. 1, by Shimura Takako (Fantagraphics)

Best Writer
Cullen Bunn, The Sixth Gun (Oni)
Mike Carey, The Unwritten (Vertigo/DC)
Jeff Jensen, Green River Killer: A True Detective Story (Dark Horse Books)
Jeff Lemire, Animal Man, Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown, Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. (DC); Sweet Tooth (Vertigo/DC)
Mark Waid, Irredeemable, Incorruptible (BOOM!); Daredevil (Marvel)

Best Writer/Artist
Rick Geary, The Lives of Sacco and Vanzetti (NBM)
Terry Moore, Rachel Rising (Abstract Studio)
Sarah Oleksyk, Ivy (Oni)
Craig Thompson, Habibi (Pantheon)
Jim Woodring, Congress of the Animals (Fantagraphics), “Harvest of Fear,” in The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror #17 (Bongo)

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team
Michael Allred, iZombie (Vertigo/DC); Madman All-New Giant-Size Super-Ginchy Special (Image)
Ramón K. Pérez, Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand (Archaia)
Chris Samnee, Captain America and Bucky, Ultimate Spider-Man #155 (Marvel)
Marcos Martin, Daredevil (Marvel)
Paolo Rivera/Joe Rivera, Daredevil (Marvel)

Best Cover Artist
Michael Allred, iZombie (Vertigo/DC)
Francesco Francavilla, Black Panther (Marvel); Lone Ranger, Lone Ranger/Zorro, Dark Shadows, Warlord of Mars (Dynamite); Archie Meets Kiss (Archie)
Victor Kalvachev, Blue Estate (Image)
Marcos Martin, Daredevil, Amazing Spider-Man (Marvel)
Sean Phillips, Criminal: The Last of the Innocent (Marvel Icon)
Yuko Shimizu, The Unwritten (Vertigo/DC)

Best Coloring
Laura Allred, iZombie (Vertigo/DC); Madman All-New Giant-Size Super-Ginchy Special (Image)
Bill Crabtree, The Sixth Gun (Oni)
Ian Herring and Ramón K. Pérez, Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand (Archaia)
Victor Kalvachev, Blue Estate (Image)
Cris Peter, Casanova: Avaritia, Casanova: Gula (Marvel Icon)

Best Lettering
Deron Bennett, Billy Fog, Jim Henson’s Dark Crystal, Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand, Mr. Murder Is Dead (Archaia); Helldorado, Puss N Boots, Richie Rich (APE Entertainment)
Jimmy Gownley, Amelia Rules! The Meaning of Life … And Other Stuff (Atheneum)
Laura Lee Gulledge, Page by Paige (Amulet Books/Abrams)
Tom Orzechowski, Manara Library, with L. Lois Buholis (Dark Horse); Manga Man (Houghton Mifflin); Savage Dragon (Image)
Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo (Dark Horse)

Best Comics-Related Journalism
The AV Club Comics Panel, by Noel Murray, Oliver Sava et al., www.avclub.com/features/comics-panel/
The Beat, produced by Heidi MacDonald et al., www.comicsbeat.com
The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth, and The Comics Journal website, www.tcj.com, edited by Timothy Hodler and Dan Nadel (Fantagraphics)
The Comics Reporter, produced by Tom Spurgeon, www.comicsreporter.com
TwoMorrows Publications: Alter Ego edited by Roy Thomas, Back Issue edited by Michael Eury, Draw edited by Mike Manley, and Jack Kirby Collector edited by John Morrow

Best Educational/Academic Work
Alan Moore: Conversations, ed. by Eric Berlatsky (University Press of Mississippi)
Cartooning: Philosophy & Practice, by Ivan Brunetti (Yale University Press)
Critical Approaches to Comics: Theories and Methods, edited by Matthew J. Smith and Randy Duncan (Routledge)
Hand of Fire: The Comics Art of Jack Kirby, by Charles Hatfield (University Press of Mississippi)
Projections: Comics and the History of 21st Century Storytelling, by Jared Gardner (Stanford University Press)

Best Comics-Related Book
Archie: A Celebration of America’s Favorite Teenagers, edited by Craig Yoe (IDW/Yoe Books)
Caniff: A Visual Biography, edited by Dean Mullaney (IDW/Library of American Comics)
Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising, edited by Rick Marschall and Warren Bernard (Fantagraphics/Marschall Books)
Genius Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth, designed by Dean Mullaney (IDW/Library of American Comics)
MetaMaus, by Art Spiegelman (Pantheon)

Best Publication Design
Genius Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth, designed by Dean Mullaney (IDW/Library of American Comics)
Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand, designed by Eric Skillman (Archaia)
Kinky & Cosy, designed by Nix (NBM)
The MAD Fold-In Collection, designed by Michael Morris (Chronicle)
Richard Stark’s Parker: The Martini Edition, designed by Darwyn Cooke (IDW)

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