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Comic Proportions 

This week, we'll be skipping the usual batch of reviews to bring you a special edition of Comic Proportions that's all about squarebound comics. This being the holiday season and all, I thought now would be a good time to highlight a few comics that would make great (and generally inexpensive) Christmas gifts. So -- ho, ho ... here we go:

The Punisher: Widowmaker, trade paperback No. 8 (Marvel/Max Comics): I love comics like The Punisher. And when I say that, I don't mean that I love comics about psychopathic serial killers; I mean that I love those types of consistent comics that deliver great story and art on time every month. Books like The Punisher don't score huge sales numbers, but they sell good enough to make money and stay alive. This particular collected edition is No. 8 in the line of mature-themed Punisher books. If you remember correctly, writer Garth Ennis resurrected the character under the Marvel Knights banner a few years ago. Back then, the book was an all-ages, black humor comic. But Ennis grew tired of telling the same brutal joke every issue and decided to turn the comic into an ultra-serious adult adventure. And it worked. Widowmaker tells the story of a group of mafia widows who team up to punish the Punisher. It's a gory, violent and vulgar tale. I love it ... and you will, too.

The Walking Dead, hardcover No. 1 (Image Comics): If you read this column enough, you'll see that I love The Walking Dead monthly comic book (written and created by Robert Kirkman). But I must admit, I did not start reading the book with issue No. 1; I picked it up somewhere in the middle of the run, which is up to issue 45 these days. As a result, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this comic about a world overrun by zombies from the beginning. Truthfully, I now think this series is best enjoyed from the beginning. Read it from issue No. 1 and you get to see how all these relationships started and the underlying emotional conflicts that have come to define the characters -- making this hardcover required reading for anyone interested in jumping on the book.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier, original graphic novel (DC/Wildstorm/America's Best Comics): Alan Moore is one crazy mofo. Yes, he's a genius, but he's nuts. Only a crazy man could create masterpieces like the first two League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic series. Unfortunately, the movie version of League sucked so bad, many casual comic readers are under the impression that the actual comic sucked. Lucky for us League devotees, Moore's decided to bless us with another insane book and hopefully wipe that bad taste out of comicdom's collective mouth. This new work, Black Dossier, is a wild blend of prose, comic storytelling and graphic design, and it tells tales of the League's past and future. The comic is filled with bizarre sexual rituals, extreme acts of violence and dozens of obscure literary references. Buy it and get your dose of madness.

Reviewed materials furnished by Heroes Aren't Hard To Find: www.heroesonline.com.

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  • On Saturday, Oct. 21, hundreds gathered at Camp North End on Statesville Avenue for Charlotte's first black alternative music festival. We captured some of the bands in action on stage, but mostly we surveyed the grounds as fans, families, vendors and more lounged around the sprawling, colorful Camp North End site. It was a great day of music, food, fun, and sweet, autumn sunshine. (Photos by Mark Kemp)
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