Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Upfront I'll admit, I love expanded universes. Comics, manga (Japanese comic books), movies, novels, fairy tales, all of it. I love when you can pick up a story and realize there are these threads that spread out to other stories. I am completely caught by an expanding narrative that allows me to catch all the small threads, as if I were catching the tail end of a very long inside joke. It keeps my little geek heart happy.
Some do it better then others. The early days of the MCU with little teasers at the end were cute, but nothing compared to the layered worlds of CLAMP manga. The difference being that one was a set up from the beginning, while the latter was pieced together part by part, the connections added in with each new story. Now there are pluses and minuses for each, but my heart lies in the ones that aren't so obvious and don't use the intertwining as a crutch - looking at you MCU.
Flash forward to today, while working on other things I decided to press play on Castle Rock. A new series by Hulu, Castle Rock bills itself as Stephen King told ala Once Upon a Time. In other words you may recognize the place, you may recognize the characters, but this is a new tale, and that really intrigued me. Because by now I've read even more of his books and seen quite a few of his movies. Beyond that I admire him as a writer - though some of his tropes irk me - and dream of having a library of my own works as numerous as his one day.
familiar, Castle Rock is the fictional town that a
good number of Stephen King's stories take place in. It's situated in Maine and is a small town, complete with all the downsides of such a place - ie small town secrets, old notions and strange but protected ways. The townsfolk aren't evil, of course, they're just set in their ways and when something new comes up or something tries to rustle their way of life well, there's no having that.
As a series, Castle Rock weaves together a unique story with countless points of entry. For those who aren't familiar with Stephen King, you'll find here an intriguing story about the source of evil buried in a small town. For those familiar with the author you'll find the same... and so much more. Littered throughout the storytelling are nods and hints to all of his books. Some are obvious - like the infamous Shawshank Prison - while others are ever so slight - the mention of a rabid dog that one year. Hints abound, you can barely blink while watching, because you'll miss one.
Honestly, I wish all expanded universes were like this and I do miss it. I realize that Marvel and DC have movies to sell and Once Upon a Time had fan favorites they wanted to show Disney fans front and center, but Castle Rock shows what can happen when those wishes aren't focused on. And in the end this series is masterfully unfolding and I'm so ready to see where it goes. Then, once it's done, I know I'll be revisiting other favorite movies and novels of Stephen Kings, to relive those worlds all over again and even try a few other new ones.
Wednesday, August 8, 2018
What's it about?
Lisa is a freelance writer, more then often dabbling in erotica when she can and mostly keeps her submissive side hidden. Meanwhile Ally is a successful business woman with more then enough money to burn - and burn it she does on elaborate props and setups for the perfect submissive she's hoping to one day finds. The comic follows their meeting and relationship together as they explore their own preferred taboos and figure how to blend their worlds of 'love' and 'submissive and dominant' together. There's also spin off series concerning the others characters introduced, such as Sunstone: Mercy and Sunstone: Jasper.
|Art by Luis Royo|
As I mentioned, if you were looking for a healthy alternative to the more well known '50 Shades' relationship, here is a perfect example. The series was recommended to me by a good friend and it does not disappoint in story, heat meter or art. Basically, we have a healthy relationship here that is arguably better then the damaging fantasy of the previously mentioned Gray series.
Backing up a bit, ever since my teens I've had a love for art in this style. It can hardly be called pornographic, because it's not just about the boobs and flesh shown off, though there is plenty of that. Growing up I found myself drawn to the art of Luis Royo which easily mixed sexuality and art, and now I have a deep love for doujinshi and fanart that do the same thing. Basically this is a story that doesn't shy away from showing skin when the plot requires it, but does so in a tasteful way that can easily still be called art.
If you're not familiar with the kinky world of the characters, that's not a problem. The comic obviously understands that the world is full of a variety of people with a variety of experience and kinks so it gives enough information for a foundation without shaming the reader in anyway. It's easy to get into and easy to love the characters - especially when they refer to themselves as sexual nerds, who just happen to like sex the way most others would describe their love of comics or movies. It's descriptions like this that make the world and story especially easy to step into and explore across the pages.
Added to this, the story is told from Lisa's POV and as a newbie on the BDSM scene, she's serves as a perfect bridge into the story and niche culture without dumping a load of exposition or terms on the reader. It also gives the comic an almost voyeuristic style, letting the reader peak into the naughty secrets of what the main characters do behind closed doors.
Having read a variety of books, novels and comics before, I would have to say the main thing that grabs me and keeps a hold of me about this series is how much history the characters seem to ooze with each action. This isn't just the normal author goal of creating 3 dimensional characters, no I would venture to say the creators of this series have gone beyond that with their writing, illustration and even the perfect little details of how Lisa bites the side of her lower lip. It feels like I've met these characters. With each new volume and page it feels like I'm checking in with close friends and hearing about their lives. The storytelling is personal and vivid in a way that few stories manage to be.
It's really common in our world to just pair men and women together if they share a certain amount of screen time. It's quite rare for media - especially certain movies - to show us the depths of a relationship and how it grows, twists, turns and flourishes over time. This is even more rare when talking about queer couples or couples with niche sexual interests. First and foremost this series communicates that sexuality is a spectrum of desires and needs - with every person having needs they not only struggle to understand, but also have to find another who can meet them.
What I'm trying to say is that you do not have to be part of the BDSM scene to enjoy these stories. Because these comics are about people, who are as real as a comic page can portray.
Where can I find it?
The collected volumes can be found at most local comic stores and are published by Image and Top Cow. Support your local comic book store!
You can also find them on Amazon.
You can also check out the creator's Deviantart page.
Wednesday, August 1, 2018
Don't forget to pick up Little Creepers - our newest release - and any of our other books and prints you may have missed. See you there!
Other events coming up soon:
San Japan in the end of August!