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Tuesday, July 30, 2002

You Never Forget Your First Time -- This page was recently highlighted by Blogger.com, and as a result visits here have risen by a magnitude of about 5. Most of the last couple of hours was spent editing and uploading new material to Comic Book Galaxy, including not only my own reviews and opinion column, but those of some other, much better writers as well.

So if you're visiting for the first time, lured in by Blogger's promises that this page would be interesting, and if you have an interest in the artform of comics, please do pop over to our main page and see what it's all about.

You won't find a lot of Spider-Man talk or debate over who's stronger, The Hulk or Richard Simmons -- The Galaxy is dedicated to highlighting good comics that are written for grown-ups. Works by Alan Moore, James Kochalka, Neil Gaiman, Paul Hornschemeier and others that qualify not only as great comic books but as good literature, writing and artwork that will affect you and change the way you see your world and yourself. Because that's what the best art does, no matter if it's music, poetry, paintings, or even comic books.

So, this is what Comic Book Galaxy is, if you're wondering. I'm the guy who pays the bills and usually uses this page to vent, amuse or otherwise befuddle a small percentage of readers to the main site. The past few days, this page has had more readers than the main site, and it just seemed like a good idea to explain to you what this is and where we're going with it. Thanks for visiting, and please do come back again soon.

Monday, July 29, 2002

The Monday Briefing -- We arrived back from Boston late Sunday afternoon. Turns out I only made it to one comics shop, but it was a good one. Million Year Picnic in Cambridge, Massachusetts is a tiny store with an extraordinary selection of small-press, indy and alternative books, foreign comics, trade paperback and hardcovers, you name it. I dropped about seventy dollars there, part of which was for Neil Gaiman's new novel Coraline. That and two Jessica Abel collections are the only things still unread. I managed to read two Top Shelf anthologies and Dave Cooper's Pressed Tongue #3, as well as a Tony Consiglio mini-comic, in the hotel room Saturday night.

The most enjoyable part of our mini-vacation was seeing the New England Aquarium in Boston. Now, everything I heard about the "Big Dig" is true: Boston is in the middle of an enormous construction project, and it looks for all the world like the city is picking up after having a few dozen bombs dropped on it. For all I'd heard, you can't imagine the impact of the project until, well, you've gotten lost looking for a certain street because, well, it doesn't exist right now.

Once we did find the aquarium, well, the kids were in awe, and so were my wife and I. The central display is an actual coral reef that has been constructed in a multi-level central tower. You travel up a spiral walkway to see the different environments and creatures swimming in the reef, including giant sea turtles, all manner of strange fish, a manta ray eel, and an actual shark. How it is that the shark can live in the same environment with hundreds of other fish without, y'know, just eating them all, is beyond me. I suppose I could have asked someone, but I was too in awe of being just a foot or two away from the shark's alien presence. If you've ever looked into the eyes of a shark, you know what I mean. You're not looking at a fellow creature on the earth, you're staring into an elegant, unknowable machine designed for killing.

My son is 6, my daughter is 8, and the awe they felt looking into this little world-within-the-world in Boston was no different from the awe it inspired in my wife and me. Just an amazing place.

Two other brief notes. I mentioned to my wife that people we encountered on foot (asking for directions, shopping, what have you) were nicer than the people we encounter every day in our own town. Which I think is true. On the other hand, people in their cars, especially on the Massachusetts Turnpike, were much angrier and aggressive than those I see on upstate New York's highways. In fact, what seemed to be everyday behaviour for Turnpike regulars would be classified as "Road Rage" in New York and get your ass thrown in jail for a night or two. Fascinating how different things can be just a few hundred miles in another direction, and how much of a difference in average temperament there is in whether you're speaking face to face or bound up in a ton of steel and plastic.

I imagine I'll write something about comics this week, and get back into the Galaxy groove. Right now, though, I'm fairly exhausted and my head hurts from caffeine withdrawal. So I'm gonna go tank up on Diet Mountain Dew and rustle up some vittles. You have a good day, and I'm going to try to enjoy my last two days off.

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Friday, July 26, 2002

The Friday Briefing -- Saturday morning the wife and I plan to rouse the kids at some godawful hour and drive hours and hours and hours to take them to Boston. It's been a long, long time since we made any road trips, and my wife wants them to see the New England Aquarium (within 5 miles of two famous comics shops, Comicopia and Million Year Picnic), so in the interests of my fascination with fish (Mmm, shrimp! Clams! Scallops!), we're outta here Saturday morning.

What this means for you, old friend, is that my reviews will be late this week. In fact, the late-this-week reviews will probably appear early next week. Say, Monday or Tuesday. But fear not, there is stuff in my review stack, and once I stack 'em up, sooner or later, like magic, or magick even, the reviews get written.

One book I plan to review and which you need to go out and but right now, even before I complete this sentence, which I'm making long to give you time to see the error of your ways and go already, is Tom Beland's True Story Swear to God #3: Moments. Beland, frankly, is a master storyteller whose romantic-but-not-falsely-sentimental story didn't bring me to tears, but it came goddamned close. To say anymore would be to come close to reviewing it, but please support Tom's effort to tell this story. It's good comics.

As for my thoughts on Rob Lowe leaving The West Wing, which I know you've been wondering about, well, the writing was on the wall there for a long time. Yes, his character was originally supposed to be the focus of the show. I was originally supposed to be fabulously wealthy because I was the mastermind behind a successful internet startup, too. If only I'd have done it a year or two earlier. If only Martin Sheen weren't a more interesting actor than Rob Lowe. Boo-hoo, pass me a tissue. No, seriously, the thought that Rob was only getting $75-goddamned-thousand-dollars a week is so sad!

Hey, I liked Sam Seaborn. I may even come to miss him once Rob collects his 16 weeks worth of $75-goddamned-thousand-dollar paychecks before bowing out. But you know, when you have a good thing going, man, sometimes it's a good idea to let it ride and not get whiny and bitchy about how things were supposed to be.

I actually met the guy who lived next door to Rob Lowe when he was growing up, conservative talk show host Mike Gallagher. Looking into his eyes while he snapped his gum was like looking into the unknowable void. I swear, I actually heard wind whistle through his ears.

I may try to get another weblog entry in before I leave Saturday morning. If not, hey, have a good weekend, and go buy Tom Beland's comic book. It's good for you.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2002

The Appeal of Honest Junk -- Not that Rob Liefeld hasn't lied on occasion, and more frequently engaged in ridiculous spin-doctoring to justify his lateness and bizarre quasi-talents, but...

I am really looking forward to Liefeld's new Youngblood series with Mark Millar.

Millar is a shameless self-promoter whose work is soaked in hype and more often than not tends to disappoint in some manner. You can always count on his scripts to be over-the-top in a "Hey, look at me!" kind of way that can be entertaining when he has the right artist (Quitely, Hitch) or boring and redundant when he has the wrong one (whichever Kubert boy is drawning Ultimate X-Men this month).

But for some reason, the honest stupidity of the idea of Millar and Liefeld teaming up to produce a new Youngblood mini-series fascinates me.

I know it won't be art. I know it won't even be very good in the generally understood sense -- that's not even possible -- but seeing these two hucksters create a superhero story is guaranteed to provide some sort of perverse pleasure. I can't wait to see Millar's overblown, every-character-sounds-the-same dialogue coming out of those Liefeld mouths, with their thousands and thousands of tiny little baby teeth. I can't wait to see Millar craft plots to send Liefeld's characters hobbling into action on their tiny little ankles and malformed feet. There's no way this can suck.

It's going to be like watching two 747s that you know are empty smash into each other at 30,000 feet. It's going to be loud, it's not going to hurt anyone (I mean, really, who could have high expectations from this?!?), and it's going to be spectacular!

I don't know, I know it's perverse, but...I can't wait.


Saturday, July 20, 2002

Perhaps the Grossest Thing Ever -- Lora and I went to Borders in Albany today looking for (and finding) the Avril Lavigne CD. Her single "Complicated" is a great, catchy summer tune in the vein of Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn," and there are some nice computer extras on the music CD, including the video for the song and a short documentary. Sure, it's fluff, but she's cute and she has a good voice. I'm curious to see where her career goes from here.

Anyway, the grossness:

Kira asked for a box of Harry Potter jelly beans. On the back is a chart of the flavours to be found in the box, including booger, vomit and dirt. I assume these are jokes, and when the open the box, I try a "sardine"-flavoured jelly bean.

Fucking thing actually tasted like a sardine. Gagged. Spit it out.

I hate living in the future.

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Saturday, July 13, 2002

Officially in the Future -- Well, I got my Starfleet Communicator today. Lora and I got cell phones (that can call each other with no charge -- pretty cool, and frankly other than my wife I don't talk to many people on the phone anyway). The great part was that the guy who sold them to us actually came to the house with the phones and helped us set everything up.

I can get a house call from the cell phone guy but not my doctor. Isn't the future ironic?






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