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Friday, October 31, 2003

 
Say It Isn't So -- You know me, I am the least tech-savvy person they let onto the internet -- but this strikes me as just about the worst computer news ever.

 
Quote of the Week -- "I am a dancing monkey." -- Matt Brady, Finally Reporting Accurately.

 
New Comics News Page -- There's a few problems with The Comics Blotter, the new news page at Continuity Pages, but I'm all for any comics news source that can eschew fellating Marvel at every opportunity, or posting fake reviews by fictional reviewers to piss off readers.

Offhand I'd say the Blotter needs to proofread its material ("We're going to see Spider-Man with a scared back like Batman's") and make its news more timely (didn't Butch Guice resign as CrossGender's art director weeks ago?). The page also needs a permanent URL so that websites and bloggers (like this one) can link to it. Also, one final note, nothing makes a site sounds less major than saying "we're a major comics site now."

Despite these snarky notes, I do hope that The Comics Blotter becomes what it intends to -- the first serious source of comics news in the history of the internet. The odds are against it, but anything can happen.


Thursday, October 30, 2003

 
Bissette: Brilliant on Horror -- One of the best discussions I've ever seen on the genre of horror is up now at Comic Book Resources. After you get through the clumsy first two paragraphs, Steve Bissette (one of the masters of comic book horror) goes into detail about what horror is and why, when it's well done, it is so devastatingly effective. He's one of the industry's few deep thinkers, and after you read this piece I think you'll agree that it's a shame we don't hear more from him. The proposed book he mentions on the history of horror in the comics is a sure best-seller and some intelligent publisher ought to snatch it up.

 
Tony Isabella Speaks Out -- Black Lightning's creator has posted a thoughtful and detailed response to the mistreatment of his creation. I support him and his position 100 percent.

 
Batman: Tenses #1 and 2
By Joe Casey, Cully Hamner, Dexter Vines and Lee Loughridge
Published by DC Comics

You'll be tense, too, after wasting fourteen dollars and an hour of your life on this freakish but well-drawn piece of shit.

Joe Casey's script is squarely to blame for my dislike of this recent two issue Prestige Format series. Mostly blameless is penciller Cully Hamner, an above-average action artist who gives the story far more justice than it deserves.

I picked this up based on a number of factors, including my admiration of Casey's Wildcats work, my enjoyment of previous Hamner efforts including Warren Ellis's Red, and a misguided belief that these factors would combine to make for a good read. Casey's script is everything his Wildcats isn't: Unfocused, vile, insulting, pointless. Standout scenes include Batman getting hit on by a gay TV reporter and assaulting him for touching him, multiple scenes of cannibalism and injury to the eye, and an ending that says absolutely nothing except "You paid fourteen bucks for this?"

To be fair, Casey seems to be reaching for a theme here -- something about corporate responsibility, as seen in Bruce Wayne's actions after seeing how layoffs from his company affected one strange, super-powered cannibal who happened to be in his employ. Unfortunately, the melange of child abuse, cannibalism, closeted homosexuality and violence results in a story that can best be described as an ambitious disaster. For whatever reason, Casey manages some of these elements skillfully and in an entertaining manner in Wildcats, but readers looking for a similar exploration will be disappointed here. Similarly, anyone merely looking for a good Batman adventure story will not find what they're looking for. Bruce Wayne's boardroom scenes are mostly fine, but his alter-ego's characterization is troublesome at best, and there's a quite overt suggestion of homophobia in Wayne's reaction to having a pass made at him by a gay male television reporter. When the reporter makes his interest known, Bruce Wayne tells him "don't" and nearly breaks the man's hand. Quite out of character and quite offensive.

The art here is unimpeachably beautiful -- my admiration for Hamner, Vines and Loughridge's work could only be increased if they had had the good sense to use their powers for drawing something not quite so inane and repugnant. Grade: 1/5

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

 
Giving In To RSS -- Thanks to the prodding of Johanna Draper Carlson and the technical assistance of d. emerson eddy, the ADD Blog now comes fortified with an RSS Feed. Those of you who understand this technology, enjoy!

 
Savant Mag, RIP -- I'm sorry to see Savant's demise made official, although it's been apparent for many weeks that the site wasn't likely to return. I do think comics needs activism, but of the sort Savant accomplished, not hollow, self-satisfied suggestions like "Sell 'em in airports!" In the long run, people talking about the artform -- in person, in the media, on the internet, and yes, even in comics blogs -- will go much further toward getting new readers than that brand of tripe.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

 
Fake Dog -- I find this thread about a fraudulent Charles Schulz sketch being sold on eBay hilarious -- especially once the outraged seller shows up.

 
The Riel World -- I picked up the new issue of Cerebus for the Chester Brown interview (which is good since Dave Sim's Cerebus story in the front of the book is unreadable). Like most of Sim's interviews (thinking of the Alan Moore one specificially), it's definitely of interest and delves deep into the subjects it covers. Now, I knew going in that Dave Sim was certifiable, but Brown lets off a couple of gems that show he's not as far from Sim's planet as I might have otherwise thought.

While much of Brown's output has left me relatively cold, I am interested in Louis Riel because of both its scope and the departure it represents from Brown's usual creative comfort zone. The interview (which is continued next issue, as Cerebus stumbles toward a conclusion, tragically, that no one cares about anymore) has me even more anxious to see the Riel graphic novel, due any day now from Drawn and Quarterly.

 
Who Defends The Watchmen? -- John Jakala, that's who.

 
Another Thing I Like About John Pierce -- He knows hollow horseshit when he sees it and isn't afraid to say so.

 
New REM Compilation -- d. emerson eddy's rundown of the new REM compilation is discouraging. No REM collection can be considered complete as long as "Fall On Me" is among the missing.

 
28 Days Later -- I've been negligent in praising Sean Collins and his excellent, ongoing and timely look at Halloween and horror.

The fact of the matter is that horror is not a genre that I am generally attracted to, although when it's extraordinarily well-done I enjoy it a great deal. Recent comics examples would be just about everything Steve Niles has done, including 30 Days of Night and its sequel Dark Days, all his Cal McDonald novels and comics, and most recently Wake the Dead. In movies, I quite agree with Sean that The Silence of the Lambs is an exceptionally good horror film. The best horror, in my opinion, reaches into the very core of your being and reveals to you that which you fear the most. In The Silence of the Lambs, we're shown behaviour so twisted and evil that it cannot possibly be human, and yet, it is not only human, it is mundane, in a way. And in there somewhere is the key to its success as a horror film.

Last night I watched 28 Days Later, which I'm not sure classifies as a horror film by my definition. A good horror film should shock and repulse you every time you watch it, and I suspect that the many shocks of 28 Days Later will be diminished greatly in repeat viewings, although I highly recommend it if you haven't seen it.

Utilizing a brilliant, at times washed out colour scheme, 28 Days Later follows a small group of people battling "the infected" (read: zombies) in post-apocalyptic London. A recorded radio broadcast promises a cure for the infection (which stems from an animal-rights group freeing some experimented-on chimps who have been "infected with rage"), so the group follows the broadcast's directions only to find a horror more deep and untenable than the infection itself.

That's where 28 Days Later succeeds -- it stems from one of the cliches of the genre (Zombies! Run!), but it treats its characters with respect and the plot follows its own logical path, leading to the greater horror of flawed humanity. The deleted scenes on the DVD even go to demonstrate that the filmmakers thought out the story much more than the average Hollywood production, as seen in the rightly-rejected "radical alternative ending" that is a sort of Easter Egg following the second alternate ending. That "radical" ending suggested that a total blood transfusion could cure the infection, but the filmmakers realize how unworkable that would be and make good fun of their own rejected sophistry.

I liked just about everything this film had to offer, from the unique look of the cinematography to the strange, jerky motion of the infected, to the compelling interplay between the characters. As I said earlier, horror is not my genre of choice, but when it's well done I really can get into it. 28 Days Later is terrific and a great choice if you're looking for a horror movie in the spirit of the season.

 
New Comics Day -- Bryan Miller has updated his weekly New Comics Day column.

 
Fun with Babies -- James Kochalka's daily diary strip today (10.28.03) is a great example of his work.

 
Hungry? -- Maybe you'd like a bite of the newest member of the comics blogosphere, The Comics Burrito. The three bloggers that make up the cheese, beef and rice of the burrito are known quantities (all Savant Magazine alums, I think?) and one of them, John Pierce, is responsible for my favourite quote about the Comics Journal: "It's not elitist, you're just dumb." Welcome aboard, guys.

Monday, October 27, 2003

 
Confidential to JW Hastings -- Yes.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

 
Gun -- I watched an episode of the "Brilliant But Cancelled" TV series Gun this week on the cable channel Trio. The episode featured Fred Ward and Edward James Olmos in a story about a man who is disillusioned about a priest who has died and left behind a mystery involving a gun and a large amount of cash.

I mention this because the entire episode looked and felt like an issue of Sleeper. If you're a fan of the Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips comic and you get Trio, keep an eye out for this episode, titled "Father John."

 
The Week in Comics -- Here's what I'm expecting to pick up at the comics shop in the week ahead:

Coming Wednesday October 29th

DC COMICS

CATWOMAN #24 $2.50 -- This current "road trip" story has been very well done. Catwoman kind of falls in the shadow of Brubaker's more personal work on Sleeper but it's still great stuff and far above average for a DC title.

EMPIRE #4 (Of 6) (MR) $2.50 -- I've been pleased by how easily Waid and Kitson picked this up right where they left off, continuing to infuse the series with the same sense of peril and dread as its original, aborted incarnation. Could make a hell of a hardcover collection.

TERRA OBSCURA #5 (Of 6) $2.95 -- I'm enjoying this, a bit, but I'm fairly certain it will read better in one sitting when all is said and done. I'm having a hard time keeping track of the characters on a month-to-month basis. I like it not as much as any given Alan Moore ABC book, but better than Rick Veitch's Greyshirt mini-series, if that's any help at all.

MARVEL

HULK GRAY #2 $3.50 -- Seems like #1 came out what, two weeks ago? Well, okay, I'm ready for #2. No problem.

 
AK & ADD on Alan Moore -- Here's Title Bout's AK and then me discussing current trends in comics at the Pop Culture Bored, particularly Alan Moore.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

 
No DEMO Trade? -- Brian Wood says there may not be a Demo trade and publisher Larry Young takes it one step further. Interesting. And odd, in that they seem to be threatening readers for living on the planet they created for them.

 
Bacardi Finds JLA/A On The Rocks -- Johnny Bacardi's posted some reviews and seems to have loved the new Planetary as much as I did. One thing, Johnny, serioously -- you've twigged that JLA/Avengers is pretty much shit. Tell your inner child to drop dead and spend the money on something better. Believe me, it won't be hard to do that.

 
Big Sunny Demonology -- Nice summary of and tribute to Mike Mignola's Hellboy over at Big Sunny D's blog. He mentions "Pancakes" as a great, uncharacteristically funny Hellboy story, and I'd add that the story about waiting for a bad guy in a car with a female colleague in the current issue of Hellboy: Weird Tales is another winner in that vein.

 
Reviews -- As I mentioned earlier this week, I didn't get much at the comics shop...

Batman #620 killed my interest in the title. Eduardo Risso's Sin City approach is fine, certainly better than Frank Miller's most recent Batman effort, but Azzarello continues his unbroken streak of failing to entertain me. In this case, as Chris Allen noted a few weeks ago, "Azzarello seems to think he has something to prove here on this unfamiliar superhero ground, and as he did in CAGE, he goes way over the top." Nobody seems to be who they are supposed to be, and the ludicrous last page is so lame even Jeph Loeb wouldn't get away with it. Grade: 2.5/5

Planetary #17 demonstrates pretty definitively that this title is not only back on schedule, but back, period. Fittingly, then, this is a period piece that sets Elijah Snow in an African lost city where he meets some isolated but brilliant natives and a Tarzan/Ka-Zar-like white man living among them. Ellis and Cassaday craft a startlingly effective love story for Snow -- I was really in awe of how they managed to convince me of the passion between him and Anaykah in just two pages. Would-be writers would do well to study this sequence, seriously. I was also riveted by the structure of the society that Snow visits and pleasingly surprised by the big reveal at the end. The revelation, in retrospect, is the whole reason for the story. But it's so organic and so well-done that I never saw it coming. Excellent stuff, and highly recommended. Grade: 5/5

Sleeper #10 is another flawless offering from Wildstorm this week, as the sublime creative team of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips deliver the origin of Genocide, move along Holden's relationship with Miss Misery to a new status quo, and increase the tension dramatically in a book that already had readers breathless. I wasn't curious about Genocide's background, but Brubaker once again shows why he's one of today's best comics writers by taking this consciousless murderer and making him completely sympathetic and then twisting the knob again in a different direction all in the course of one, single, blood-soaked issue. There are more layers of subtlety and nuance in this book than in any other that immediately comes to mind, just a delicious blend of suspense, sex, drama, betrayal and tragedy. Holden Carver is DC's most interesting and truly riveting character, and there's not a person reading these words right now that wouldn't love this book every bit as much as I do. There's a trade paperback arriving in stores in just a few weeks, so tell your retailer you want one, and find out how exciting, entertaining and unique Sleeper is. Grade: 5/5

Wildcats #15 was the only other comic I got at the shop this week, and it was a good issue, as always, but not quite as dramatic as usual, it seemed to me. There's at least one unexpected and powerful moment that moves Agent Wax's story along a bit, and Grifter seems to be finding an interesting solution to his problem. All good stuff and excellently done, but I am probably too drunk on this week's Planetary and Sleeper to truly appreciate it as much as I could. Grade: 4/5

This week, I also picked up the Alex Ross book Mythology written and designed by Chip Kidd. It's a beautiful production, and sure to appeal to Ross's fans. The highlights for me are the sketches and step-by-step features, as I love seeing how good artists work. Also of note are some historical pieces of DC characters Ross drew when he was a child -- he's been interested in this stuff for a long, long time now. There's a short, brand-new comic story written by Kidd and painted by Ross that features Superman and Batman. It's an iconic short that recalls the spirit of The Dark Knight Returns and (of course) Ross's own Kingdom Come. The book's contents focus exclusively on DC characters (although Captain America sneaks into one photo), including the JLA together and separately, the Legion, Metal Men, Teen Titans and many others. Kidd's text is non-critical, but that's common for an art book of this type, and he does reward readers with a good eye for what makes the individual pieces work so well. He gets in one particularly good observation early on about why Ross's art won such acclaim so early in his career, but I won't spoil that for you since it's one of the text's better moments. Gorgeous to look at and definitely of historical value to people who appreciate Ross's style, this would be a terrific holiday gift for Alex Ross and/or DC fans. Grade: 4.5/5

Friday, October 24, 2003

 
Thanks to Shawn Fumo -- I appreciate Shawn's reciprocal linking and suggestions for my wife's future comics reading...although asking her to read something backwards may be a bit much in these early days...insert smiley emoticon here.

 
Far Side on Ted's Good Side -- He might not care for the work of Chris Ware, but Ted Rall pays nice tribute to the new Far Side collection.

 
Expanding Borders -- I stopped at the Albany, New York Borders yesterday afternoon. My mission, specifically, was to pick up Season One of The Office, which I did find, although it was not on sale, damn it. So I got the set, six episodes plus some extras, thirty bucks. Haven't watched them all yet, but the show is brilliant and funny, appealing as it does to the side of me that continues to love Fawlty Towers decades after first seeing it. And as I often have to remind people around me, I really dislike comedy as a genre. It has to be especially sharp, dark, and intelligent to get my attention. The Office is all of those and more, observing venal human nature (that of lead character David Brent) through an astoundingly facile combination of words, images, and most importantly, silences. The silence is the best part of this show, the place where the astonishingly stupid things David Brent says sit and fester in your consciousness while he thinks up something even more wrong to say. Don't miss this series.

Now, as to that "Expanding" in the title of this blog entry, I noticed that comics have taken up a lot more real estate at this Borders since the last time I was there. Graphic novels now occupy five full sections of one of the walls in the upstairs section, with two of those devoted to Marvel/DC/D&Q/Top Shelf/Fantagraphics/Dark Horse and the like, and three more for a huge array of Manga titles. I can only presume the store is making money on this stuff, as this section has been rapidly expanding over the past couple of years and is now literally unbelievable well-stocked. I say "literally" because when I was first faced with this massive wall o' comics yesterday, I didn't notice at first how large the selection had become -- and when I first did notice it, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. They're not, graphic novels are now a huge part of this store.

They've also, downstairs, installed a large number of racks to hold floppies from Marvel, DC, Bongo, Dark Horse and Image, and over and above that there's also a decent area set aside for comic strip collections like Get Fuzzy, Garfield and the like. I don't know what this new comics presence signifies, exactly, but in over three decades of buying comics and looking for them mostly in vain in bookstores, this was a revelatory moment. Something is changing for comics, and I hope this is the sign of a long-lasting new infiltration into the mainstream.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

 
Papa's Got a Brand New Bagge Online -- Peter Bagge has a new strip online about the gambling "industry."

 
Catching Up On Columns -- A few good comics columns have gone up in the past day or so...

There's some good goddamned comics-related reading to get you through your Thursday.


Wednesday, October 22, 2003

 
Opening Up A Bru -- Two of my favourite comics writers are Steven Grant and Ed Brubaker, and today Grant's Permanent Damage column features a lengthy interview with Brubaker. I've printed it out and am eager to dig into it and see what comes out of the discussion. Both are sharp thinkers who aren't afraid to speak their minds, so I'm really looking forward to reading this. Recent titles of note from Brubaker include Sleeper, Gotham Central and Catwoman, while by now you should have checked out Grant's gorgeous, harrowing Damned graphic novel with Mike Zeck from Cyberosia and informed your retailer that you want his My Flesh is Cool when it ships from Avatar. End of plugs, go read the interview.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

 
The Week in Comics -- Or weak, perhaps. Not much of interest on my radar this week, and they're all from DC:

AUG030170 BATMAN #620 $2.25
AUG030238 OUTSIDERS #5 $2.50
AUG030258 PLANETARY #17 $2.95
AUG030261 SLEEPER #10 (MR) $2.95
AUG030266 WILDCATS VERSION 3.0 #15 (MR) $2.95

The good news is that a majority of these are big favourites of mine; I'm on the fence about picking up Batman but have heard generally good things and "Hush," for all its flaws, did whet my appetite for a good, regular Batman read. Outsiders completely lost my interest with last month's fill-in art by the slick-but-lifeless ChrisCross, so we'll see if my love of Tom Raney's art can sustain my flagging interest in the book. Now, Sleeper, Planetary and Wildcats are three of DC's best titles right now, so even though it's a light week, it's a substantial one in that regard.

 
Lightning Bout -- Here's AK on Black Lightning:

"Did you ever think you'd EVER in your life live long enough to see people accusing a Judd Winnick comic of not being sensitive enough to minorities? Aren't all his mainstream comics about superheros coping with their gay uncle who has aids or something??? What, did Black Lightning kill his gay uncle???"

More from AK on current comics events in the link.

 


Wanted #1
By Mark Millar and JG Jones
Published by Image Comics

While Watchmen is generally seen as hugely influential on superhero comics since the mid-1980s, not many creators have paid homage to that landmark series by attempting a similar story; my guess would be that Watchmen was so critically and commercially successful that writers and artists who were inspired by its style and substance may have been intimidated by the idea of creating a new work that would inevitably be compared to its inspiration. It will come as little surprise to readers of Mark Millar's Authority and The Ultimates that he is not easily intimidated.

In a world where comics creators often go out of their way to shock readers, Millar has made a name for himself by giving us believable characters who act in appallingly realistic, wildly entertaining ways. In Wanted Millar and artist JG Jones explore the inner world of a super-villain as he learns his trade. Wesley Gibson is inducted into "The Fraternity" after his (previously unknown) father is murdered. Turns out dear old Dad was a master villain named The Killer, and Wesley -- lost in a bad relationship and kind of pathetic overall -- is tracked down and told he can inherit his father's vast fortune if he takes up his legacy.

In the manner of Alan Moore in Watchmen or Kurt Busiek in Astro City, Millar creates a new, dangerous world out of whole cloth. References to a greater community of super beings and a convincing look at the ones onscreen serve to deliver a genuine sense that this is an established universe we are exploring, while organically-introduced details about Wesley and his life deliver a sympathetic character by which we can explore.

As a creator-owned project, this is the next logical step for Millar after books like The Authority and The Ultimates -- a harrowing exploration of power and perversion that shocks and entertains, with no editorial restrictions or corporate fuckery likely to interfere with Millar's story. As you might expect after the exquisite visuals he delivered on Grant Morrison's Marvel Boy, artist JG Jones gives us a summer blockbuster-type level of action and detail that make the book visually addictive and totally in the spirit of The Authority and The Ultimates in the best way possible. Jones is really underrated, in my opinion, and is a top superhero action artist every bit as compelling and exciting as peers like Bryan Hitch and Frank Quitely.

Mark Millar has a lot of books coming out in the weeks ahead, and I'll leave it to you to decide which ones you want to pick up and which you think is his best. For me Wanted is a step up from his already excellent work on The Ultimates and promises to be the most talked-about super-book in the months to come. Grade: 4.5/5

Monday, October 20, 2003

 
Cover Designs Get Butchered -- Good to see Christopher Butcher is blogging again. His most recent entry is a good look at some graphic novel cover designs.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

 
Black Lightning Rage -- Have a look at All The Rage at Silver Bullet Comic Books for new info and rumours about DC's misuse of Black Lightning.

 
Vampizine -- I saw the new Vampirella Magazine on the racks in the comics shop yesterday, and it's funny, I noticed it was there, but it never registered to me that it was a new publication. My brain must have been thinking that Warren was still around and publishing all those great, horrible titles like The Rook and 1984/1994.

d. emerson eddy has a review of the magazine, and from the sounds of things, it's just as well that I passed on it.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

 
Bacardi Lightning -- Johnny Bacardi has updated his comments vis a vis Black Lightning, Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden.

 
Blog Update -- I added a slew of my regular stops on the computer internet to the go list in the column on the right, as well as more recommended reading. Which is kind of the same thing, now that I think about it.

Anyway, while investigating the sites I wanted to add to the links, I discovered Forager has posted an intriguing examination of Alan Moore vs. Frank Miller. Since Moore and Miller were two of my formative experiences in comics in the 1980s, and since they've both gone in such interesting directions in the industry ever since, this is a piece I am excited to dig in to. So I'm gonna go do that now.

Update: Read Forager's piece. Pretty strong overall, although I disagree with some of his conclusions. I think Swamp Thing holds up pretty well, certainly better than most of its contemporaries or most of the Vertigo line it later led to. I agree that Ronin is mostly crap (and thought so when it was new), although it has some nice art here and there. It certainly foreshadowed Miller's egregious excess in DK2. And finally, in a head-to-head matchup of Moore's Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? and Batman: Year One, I think the latter is the better story and certainly the better example of the power of comics as a storytelling medium. Moore's farewell to Superman is fun for readers in the know, but Miller's Batman story, the best ever created about the character, is a tale that anyone could read and thoroughly enjoy.

And just to be snarky, I think Forager spells David Mazzucchelli's name wrong. Funny, just yesterday I was bragging to my wife how I can spell certain hard-to-spell comics creator names with ease, such as Sienkiewicz and Straczynski, but Mazzucchelli was the one I forgot.

Friday, October 17, 2003

 
CrossGen Massacre -- Well, this is interesting. The bullshit attempted meme that this was all part of the plan all along makes for a nice real-life retcon. Nice try, Alessi. Did you cut those checks yet or are you still profiting from the efforts of unpaid workers?

 
The Coolest Thing About John Byrne -- Is that he just says stuff like this.

 
Dumb Blogging -- Franklin Harris's correction of some dumb bastard in regard to the cultural durability of Quentin Tarantino's masterpiece Pulp Fiction reminds me that I should mention how utterly wrong Ted Rall is about Chris Ware. Quimby the Mouse is about grief, pain and loss, and it is exquisite in expressing those concepts.

 
More on Black Lightning -- Johnny Bacardi has an interesting sidebar to my comments yesterday about Black Lightning and how DC has misused the character.

I asked Tony Isabella to comment, and he said:

Except that Trevor wasn't a co-creator of the series, not even the visual
aspects of the character...and wasn't credited as a co-creator until just
after I tried to buy the character back from DC in the late 1970s.

Trevor first drew the original Black Lightning costume with me standing
over his shoulder and describing it as I would describe a suspect to a
police sketch artist...rather ironic given BL's new status as a craven
murderer. The only element of this original costume which did not come
from me was the "afro-mask." Bob Rozakis came up with that and, at the
time, we all thought it was a good idea. Oh, those wacky '70s.

Maybe DC never seriously considered Trevor for the second series, but I
certainly did...despite my dismay that he had been granted retroactive,
unjustifiable co-creator status. [One need only check the first Black
Lightning and his earliest subsequent appearances to verify that I was
listed...rightfully...as sole creator of the character.] The DC folks
weren't interested in having him draw the new series.

From the get-go, I'd told DC the second series would require a great deal
of research and a long development period...and they agreed to that when
the process began. At one point, Mark Bright was attached to the series,
but I don't believe he ever did more than design a costume which I never
used in the new series.

However, my respect for the abilities of both Von Eeden and Bright aside, I
knew Eddy Newell was the artist for the book from the first moment that I
saw his work. Eddy designed the new costume and ultimately crafted the
look of the book. If DC had wanted to give Eddy co-creator status, that
would have been fine with me.

Beyond the issues of how DC has treated me in all this, though, there is
another and far more important issue to consider.

If you don't consider the great Milestone Comics characters like ICON and
STATIC, and that certainly seems to be DC's policy, DC has only published
three ongoing super-hero comics whose title stars have been
African-Americans. Two of them, GREEN LANTERN and STEEL, were
continuations of or spinoffs of titles which starred white
characters. Only BLACK LIGHTNING was an original.

Only three black super-hero headliners in the entire history of DC Comics
and now one of them, almost as a "we need a shock to end this issue" easy
way out, had been turned into a cold-blooded murderer. That's an egregious
wrong that extends well beyond the wrongs done to the character and his
creator.


Given how public Tony Isabella has been about Black Lightning as a character and as a property, I think DC has a lot to answer for. We're all waiting, and will probably continue to do so.

 
Previews Review Review -- I suppose it had to happen eventually: John Jakala looks at the various "Previews Review" columns.

 
Norm! -- The new The Norm Magazine #1 has shipped to comics shops, and it's a terrific collection of early strips. Michael Jantze's witty observations are always fun, and here the strips are supplemented by short commentaries, like getting the DVD version of The Norm. Highly recommended and something that you'll have no trouble convincing non-comics readers to read.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

 
DC and Black Lightning -- You almost have to wonder if DC is trying to alienate Black Lightning creator Tony Isabella. The corporate comics company has a long history of fuckery, from changing the character to "Black Vulcan" to avoid paying Tony royalties on the Super Friends cartoon, to giving BL an illegitimate daughter completely inconsistent with his character in the new Outsiders series, to now having him commit murder in this week's Green Arrow, as pointed out by Hannibal Tabu in his new Buy Pile Reviews. You might think I'm overstating the case, but DC execs (and many readers) are well aware of Tony's emotional investment in his creation, and the fact of the matter is that given BL's general status in the DCU, the fact that he only pops up to be humiliated and misused again and again is mighty suspicious.

 
Chris Allen Breaks Down the Ages -- Chris Allen's new Breakdowns column has an interesting overview of the various ages of comics, as well as reviews of titles like Astronauts in Trouble: Master Flight Plan (get that, it's a great collection), and Marvel's new NYX. Allen also weighs in on Bill Jemas's downsizing and the new Peanuts collections coming from Fantagraphics. All this wrapped up in his worst-titled column ever.

 
The BJ No One Wants -- Great Franklin Harris piece on The End of the Jemas Era. I tried writing about this the other day, but I found that I'm mostly apathetic. Mostly because I agree fully with Steven Grant:

"Marvel is Marvel is Marvel, and that's all anyone can really expect it to be. It's Marvel whether Stan Lee is in charge, or Jim Shooter, or Bob Harras, or Joe Quesada and Bill Jemas. It'll be Marvel with Joe Quesada and Dan Buckley in charge."

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

 
Your Second Chance at Sleeper -- If you haven't been reading Sleeper by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, you're missing probably the best crime/superhero comic ever. Sure, that's a small genre, but the way Brubaker and Phillips have successfully melded these two very different concepts into one fascinating and continuously surprising saga has been one of the greatest comics successes of the past year. Your second chance is a new trade paperback collection, which is discussed in this article at Newsarama. Now, you may be wondering more about my opinion. Back in May, at Comic Book Galaxy, I posted the following piece. If you missed it then, here's...

Why You Should Be Reading Sleeper

Holden Carver is screwed. There's your high concept right there.

You might guess from the name of the lead character in Sleeper that the book explores existential despair in a complex and often dark manner -- and you'd be right. Brubaker and Phillips, both of them doing perhaps the best work of their careers, have created a compelling character in Carver. He's sympathetic, but forced by circumstance to carry out the orders of Tao, one of the most brilliant and twisted schemers ever depicted in comics.

Tao came to prominence during Alan Moore's Wildcats run, a seeming hero who was eventually revealed to be manipulating the team (and just about everyone else) to the tune of his dark agenda. He's a variation on Moore's Adrian Veidt from Watchmen, although unlike Veidt, Tao seems to know he's working the wrong side of the fence. He is, I think, Veidt's dark reflection -- always watching, always calculating, never revealing his true intentions. I don't envy Brubaker for picking up the ball from Alan Moore and running with it, but he's maintained Tao's unknowable brilliance, the sense that he's a twisted bastard who is fifteen moves ahead of everyone and ready to do anything to carry out his true agenda -- and he's Holden Carver's boss, which is why, as I said, Holden Carver is screwed.

Carver was introduced in Point Blank, a challenging-but-rewarding five-issue mini-series written by Brubaker that isn't essential to understanding Sleeper, but which definitely adds to an understanding of Carver and his background. In a nutshell, he was a sleeper agent for John Lynch, the chief spook of the Wildstorm Universe. The conceit at work in Sleeper is that Lynch is the only one who knows Carver is playing for the good guys, and Lynch is in a coma and may never recover.

Carver is virtually unkillable -- he is able to heal quickly from any injury, but the price he pays for this talent (bestowed on him by accidental exposure to an artifact that fell out of The Bleed) is that he can't feel anything -- so he requires extreme sensations to even remember what it was like to be human. He wants to do the right thing, he wants to come in from his years as a sleeper working for Tao's organization, but his every step finds him walking further and further down the wrong path. Carver is becoming so morally compromised that it's questionable whether John Lynch would even vouch for him if he could, if he knew the actions Carver has had to take to maintain his cover.

What Brubaker and Phillips deliver here is a stylish and fascinating take on the anti-hero -- one who sees himself as a hero but knows no one else does, who is locked in a brutal struggle to stay alive long enough to complete his mission, but who is sliding down a dangerous spiral and working for perhaps the most dangerous man who ever lived. It's entirely possible, he knows, that Tao is onto him already.

The thing I love about Sleeper the most (aside from the dark, violent drama and brilliantly noirish art of Sean Phillips) is the oblique way that Brubaker parses out information. Point Blank was a story that really had to be observed from all angles to be appreciated fully, and while Sleeper doesn't utilize the same non-linear approach as the mini-series, it does require the reader to pay attention and draw conclusions. It's a morally challenging work -- especially the most recent issue, which requires Carver to go to shocking new extremes to protect himself and his mission.

The thing is, the mission is worth protecting. Carver has learned much important information about perhaps the most important criminal mastermind in history, and if he is ever able to come in from the cold, he could do a world of good by bringing Tao down once and for all.

The criminal organizations, the compromised sleeper agent, the murders and violence, all of it could be a cliched mess in the wrong hands. But Brubaker and Phillips turn out each masterful chapter with confidence, insight and excitement.

Sleeper is a fantastic read, probably the best crime comic being published today. Carver is one of the best new mainstream characters in years, complex and engaging -- we're fully inside his head and able to sympathize with him even as we watch him commit some of the most loathsome criminal acts imaginable. It's a real triumph for Brubaker and Phillips, and if they did this book forever, that'd be just fine with me. Grade: 5/5

 
Thanks, Sean Collins -- Sean is so good to me. It should be noted that NeilAlien did indeed breathe new life into this thing with his technical wizardry, but Sean, I did the logo. With help from Kirby, of course.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

 
Better Belated Than Never -- Belated one-year anniversary congratulations to Dirk Deppey and ¡Journalista!, truly the best daily dose of comics information, and essential from the moment it went up. I hope we have many more years to look forward to, Dirk.

And while I was at iJournalista! today, I discovered Ted Rall is now blogging, and added him to my links over there on the right.


 
Comics News of the Year -- Here's a press release from Fantagraphics.

FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS TO PUBLISH THE COMPLETE PEANUTS
BY CHARLES M. SCHULZ

Seattle, WA, 10/13/03 — 50 years of art. 25 books. Two books per year for 12 1/2 years. Fantagraphics Books is proud to announce the most eagerly-awaited and ambitious publishing project in the history of the American comic strip: the complete reprinting of CHARLES M. SCHULZ’s classic, PEANUTS. Considered to be one of the most popular comic strips in the history of the world, PEANUTS will be, for the first time, collected in its entirety and published, beginning in April 1, 2004. Fantagraphics will launch THE COMPLETE PEANUTS in a series designed by the cartoonist SETH (Palookaville, It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken) and produced in full cooperation with United Media, Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates, and Mr. Schulz’s widow, Jean Schulz.

Fantagraphics Books co-publisher Gary Groth said that publishing THE COMPLETE PEANUTS represented the apex of the company’s 27-year commitment to publishing the best cartooning in the world. “PEANUTS is a towering achievement in the history of comics,” said Groth. “I can’t think of a better way to honor Schulz’s artistic legacy than to make his oeuvre available to the public in a beautifully designed format that reflects the integrity of the work itself.”

The genesis of the project began in 1997 when Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth approached Charles Schulz with the proposition of publishing PEANUTS in its entirety. After Schulz’s death in January, 2000, Groth continued discussing the project with Schulz’s widow, Jean Schulz. “It’s safe to say that this project wouldn’t have happened if Jean Schulz weren’t as enthusiastic and supportive as she’s been,” said Groth. Added Jean Schulz: “This seemed like an impossible project, considering all the ‘lost’ strips, but Gary’s determination never flagged, and we are so happy with the aesthetic sensibility of the Fantagraphics team.”

“It’s a genuine honor to be designing these Schulz collections,” said Seth, who went on to describe the premise underlying his design for the series: “I want to emphasize the sophistication of Schulz’s work by creating a package that is both austere and direct. I would like to try to reflect the quiet and melancholy of the strip in a package that hopefully, shows the proper amount of respect for Mr. Schulz. Undoubtedly, PEANUTS is a great newspaper strip and I am humbled and gratified to help steward this complete strip compilation into the world.”

Each volume in the series will run approximately 320 pages in a 8 1/2” x 7” hardcover format, presenting two years of strips along with supplementary material. The series will present the entire run in chronological order, dailies and Sundays. Since the strip began in late 1950, the first volume will include an introduction by NPR's Garrison Keillor and all the strips from 1950, 1951, and 1952, but subsequent volumes will each comprise exactly two years. Dailies will run three to a page, while Sunday strips will each take up a full page and be printed in black-and-white.

This first volume, covering the first two and a quarter years of the strip, will be of particular fascination to PEANUTS aficionados worldwide: Although there have been literally hundreds of PEANUTS books published, many of the strips from the series’ first two or three years have never been collected before — in large part because they showed a young Schulz working out the kinks in his new strip and include some characterizations and designs that are quite different from the cast we’re all familiar with. (Among other things, three major cast members — Schroeder, Lucy, and Linus — initially show up as infants and only “grow” into their final “mature” selves as the months go by. Even Snoopy debuts as a puppy!) Thus THE COMPLETE PEANUTS offers a unique chance to see a master of the artform refine his skills and solidify his universe, day by day, week by week, month by month.

PEANUTS is one of the most successful comic strips in the history of the medium as well as one of the most acclaimed strips ever published. (In 1999, a jury of comics scholars and critics voted it the 2nd greatest comic strip of the 20th century — second only to George Herriman’s Krazy Kat, a verdict Schulz himself cheerfully endorsed.) Charles Schulz’s characters — Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, and so many more — have become American icons. A poll in 2002 found Peanuts to be one of the most recognizable cartoon properties in the world, recognized by 94 percent of the total U.S. consumer market and a close second only to Mickey Mouse (96 percent), and higher than other familiar cartoon properties like Spider-Man (75 percent) or the Simpsons (87 percent). In T.V. Guide’s “Top 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All-Time” list, Charlie Brown and Snoopy ranked #8.

THE COMPLETE PEANUTS will be supported with an ambitious advertising and promotional campaign, including public appearances by Jean Schulz to support the series.

PUBLICATION DATE: APRIL 1, 2004
Hardcover
Comic Strips/Humor
320 pages, 8 1/2" x 7"
$28.95
ISBN 1-56097-589-X

Monday, October 13, 2003

 
The Office -- Okay, I am coming late to this party, but The Office on BBC America ia about the goddamned funniest thing since, well, ever. Imagine Seinfeld set in an office and you'll be close, but it's smarter and tighter than that. The first season is out on DVD, so do whatever you have to to see it. If you get BBC America (and you very well may and not even know it in this day and age, so look), it's on Sunday nights. If not, find a friend to tape it for you, it's worth it.

 
Shipping Nooz -- Here's a look at what I'm picking up at the comics shop this week.

COMING WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 15TH

AMERICA'S BEST COMICS
SMAX #3 (Of 5) $2.95 -- Unbelievably strong, if you liked Top 10 but eschewed Smax, you made a serious error that it's not too late to rectify. Check this out for complex drama, comedy and horror, in that way that gave Alan Moore his deserved reputation as the best writer to ever work in comics.

TOM STRONG'S TERRIFIC TALES #8 $2.95 -- Every issue has been a mixed bag, but there's usually one story that makes it worth picking up. It should be noted that nothing really takes the place of Alan Moore and Chris Sprouse giving us the real thing, though.

DARK HORSE
HELLBOY WEIRD TALES #5 $2.99 -- Every issue has been a mixed bag, but there's usually one story that makes it worth picking up. It should be noted that nothing really takes the place of Mike Mignola giving us the real thing, though.

DC COMICS
GOTHAM CENTRAL #12 $2.50 -- Hard to believe it's been a year already, but Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark and their colleagues have made this one of the more compelling DCU titles, and one of the few that I buy.

SUPERMAN BATMAN #3 $2.95 -- One of two Jeph Loeb titles on my list this week; I'm not sure of the long-term worth of this title, but there's been some nice character interaction in the early issues.

MARVEL
HULK GRAY #1 (Of 6) $3.50 -- It's been years since I've been entertained by a Hulk story; Bruce Jones's take has been mind-numbingly dull. I liked Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's previous efforts on Spider-Man, Daredevil, Batman and Superman, and I suspect their traditionalist/iconic treatment will work exceptionally well on this character.

MARVEL MASTERWORKS AMAZING SPIDER-MAN VOL 3 2ND ED. $49.99 -- I have the first two volumes, and I really think the Lee/Ditko Spidey is a highlight of superhero comics history, so I'll probably be picking this up.

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #48 $2.25 -- Who ever would have thought that not only would it last this long and be this good, but that Bendis and Bagley wouldn't miss an issue? Congratulations, guys.

AVATAR PRESS
ALAN MOORE'S YUGGOTH CULTURES #1 (Of 3) $3.95 -- This could go either way. I loved The Courtyard but haven't cared much for some other Moore/Avatar material like Magic Words or Another Suburban Romance. The anthology nature of the title means there's hope, at least.

 
Good Stuff -- The biggest surprise in comics for me last week was Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore's The Walking Dead, published by Image. The book is extremely well done, the story of a cop who is shot on duty and wakes up less than 28 Days Later to find that he has to make a Stand in a world that has been overrun by zombies. Why is he The Last Man? Well, he's not, but he sets off to find his family, who have taken refuge in a bigger city in hopes of being protected by the military, who have ceded the smaller towns to those brain-eatin' dipshit zombies.

Seriously, Kirkman and Moore (who recently did the Brit one-shot, which was best described as "Strange Killings that doesn't suck") turn out a first-rate effort in The Walking Dead, it really surprised me just how good it was. As Halloween approaches, you could do far worse if you're looking for something spooky to read.

One other recent read I want to recommend is Lynda Barry's 100 Demons, which collects some autobiographical comix essays about things that have haunted her life. This gorgeously produced full-colour hardcover reaches deep into Barry's emotional recesses and will leave you wiser about your life and the lives of those around you. It's also pretty goddamned funny, as you might expect from Barry. As a bonus there's a wonderfully illustrated guide to her working method in the book's closing pages. An unexpectedly generous offering in the manner of Chris Ware's recent ACME Novelty Library Datebook.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

 
Rush to Schadenfreud -- You know, the one time I ever sympathized with Rush Limbaugh was when he lost his hearing. As a radio broadcaster of nearly two decades, I found his plight a couple of years ago so chilling that it momentarily overcame my repulsion at Limbaugh's racism, homophobia and general fascistic thuggishness. Come to find out, Rush may very well have brought his deafness on himself through his abuse of Vicodin, which can cause hearing loss. Quite an elegant little scenario there that nicely absolves me of my wrong-headed sympathy for one of the most toxic human beings on the face of the planet.


 
NYX -- So we're in the comics shop yesterday, and as I always semi-kiddingly ask my wife, I said "See anything you're interested in?" Imagine my surprise when she grabbed a copy of Marvel's new NYX #1.

Up until now the only comic she's really liked has been Optic Nerve, but I think the Joshua Middleton artwork intrigued her about NYX, so I put a copy in the small pile of comics I was grabbing to keep me entertained over the three-day weekend.

As it turned out, we both read NYX at the same time because I like Middleton's art (although I really wish I was reading his apparently aborted Sky Between Branches instead), and while I thought the story was a little rote in nature, it was readable and Middleton's art looks better than ever.

The punchline here is the final two pages (and here, have a juicy SPOILER WARNING):

When my wife got to the final page, she asked me what had happened, why one of the characters now had a broken arm? I explained to her that on the page previous the lead character's mutant power had manifested itself and she had stopped time and broken her tormentor's arm.

"Mutant power?" She was stunned and clearly annoyed. She had thought that the book was going to be a realistic story about big-city teens. I pointed out the "X" in the title and the Marvel logo on the cover and told her that you would never get such a story from Marvel.

"Why not?"

I didn't have an answer for that one -- not one that would satisfy her disappointment, anyway.

On the bright side, aren't we due for a new Optic Nerve sometime soon...?

 
I Am In Awe -- Please pause a moment and gaze in wonder at NeilAlien. Neil spent a great deal of time this weekend finding a way around both my incompetence and Blogger's making the template for this weblog work perfectly. The Permalinks work. The Archives work. I have to say it is truly pathetic how little I understand about the Internet thanks, Neil! I am in awe and in your debt.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

 
Hiatus -- I appreciate the reception this new effort has gotten in the blogosphere, but I think I may have taken this public too early. I am still unable to get the goddamned archives or blog entry links to function properly, and three of my most web-wise friends have also had no luck getting this thing to work properly. So until I have the time and intelligence to get this to work the way I want it to, we'll have a brief hiatus.

Anyone with serious Blogger-Fu who can volunteer to help me is desperately invited to e-mail me.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

 
Henley Destroys Byrne -- Boy, am I glad Jim Henley reads this blog. His destruction of John Byne's arrogant wrongheadedness makes it all seem worthwhile.

 
Getting it Wrong -- You know me, I hate to disagree with anybody, but Scott Tipton gets it all wrong in this week's Comics 101 at Movie Poop Shoot. He says critics are being elitist when they pan JLA/Avengers for centering around a set of 12 objects all with historical significance to the Marvel and DC universes.

I agree with Scott that utilizing a book's history to tell a compelling story can, indeed, generate interest in the backstory for new readers. Where his thesis falls apart is in using this theory to defend the rote, banal storytelling on display in JLA/A #1. It's not the fact that The Wand of Watoomb is unknown to new readers that makes it a bad comic, it's the total and complete lack of genuine drama and storytelling that earned my disinterest and passive contempt.

 
New Comics Day -- My favourite new column about comics has updated. Bryan Miller's New Comics Day at ContinuityPages.com has looks at the big (ha!) controversy over full-body felching in The Avengers, Mark Millar's Orson Welles hoax (go watch F is for Fake if you're wondering how Orson would feel about it) and some reviews, too. Good stuff.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

 
Gadabout All About American Splendor -- Bill Sherman reviews the new movie based on Harvey Pekar's autobio comics over at Pop Culture Gadabout. This is a great movie that you don't have to be a comics fan to enjoy; ask my wife, who was all teary-eyed at the ending.

Monday, October 06, 2003

 
Watchmen Should Never Have Been -- At least, not according to good ol' John Byrne (ninth post in the thread). I certainly agree with what he says, except for the word "Watchmen" substitute "Lab Rats," "Spider-Man Chapter One," or the Dismal Byrne Failure of your choice. How is it possible one country is large enough to contain his arrogant wrongheadedness? Is this the real reason for NAFTA?

 

The Week in Comics -- It looks like a small week for me at the comics shop, but thankfully The Comics Journal is among the items on my retailer's invoice. Here's what I'm picking up this week:

FANTAGRAPHICS

COMICS JOURNAL #255 $6.95 -- You can check out the full list of contents at the magazine's website, but news pieces on CrossGen's downward spiral, and the MOCCA festival, and Rich Kreiner's review of the godawful Cusp are among the items I am most interested in. How much do I love The Comics Journal? If I were on a deserted island could only get TCJ and Forlorn Funnies, I would still be a happy comics reader. That's how much.

THE NORM

THE NORM MAGAZINE #1 $4.95 -- I always enjoy The Norm, a sardonic and occasionally insightful look at romance and life in Our Modern Times. It's a fun strip, and I hope this new magazine is a huge success.

DARK HORSE

DRAWING ON YOUR NIGHTMARES HALLOWEEN 2003 SPECIAL $2.99 -- I think there's some Steve Niles in here, which is reason enough to pick this up. There's no better writer doing horror in comics right now.

DC COMICS

BATMAN DEATH AND THE MAIDENS #3 (Of 9) $2.95 -- Ra's al Ghul is the only Batman villain that doesn't make me cringe when I see him on the page, and I really like the work of both Greg Rucka and Klaus Janson. So far this series is keeping me entertained and intrigued.

TOM STRONG #22 $2.95 -- If I were on that deserted island, and got the chance to widen that circle of comics by one creator, Alan Moore would be the one. ABC titles like Tom Strong, Promethea, and Smax show that Moore is retiring at the very top of his abilities, with recent issues of each being among the very best he's done.

WORLDS BEST COMICS THE GOLDEN AGE DC ARCHIVES SAMPLER $.99 -- Picking up a few of these for my kids and for general activism purposes. While my activism goals (getting kids to read comics) are different than DC's here (getting adults to plop down $50.00 for the upscale hardcover editions), I still appreciate this being available. It collects four classic stories featuring Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Plastic Man, in case you were wondering.

MARVEL

KINGPIN #5 $2.50 -- Other than the art, I really am not enjoying this book at all. And I really wanted to.

ULTIMATE SIX #3 (Of 6) $2.25 -- Last issue had some nice, creepy moments in it, although it's clearly paced for the trade paperback collection, as nothing much happens in any one given issue. This sea change in mainstream comics is perhaps the most shameful thing about the current state of affairs, guaranteed to turn off casual readers and really not much more encouraging even for longtime dorks like myself. I miss the days when every, single issue was required to have a satisfactory set of dramatic beats that made every comic you bought at least moderately entertaining most of the time. Now, that type of thinking can generally only be counted upon in books like Optic Nerve or Peanutbutter and Jeremy. Gee, I wonder why those titles have such devoted fans, while I debate every month whether to pick up this or that Marvel or DC title, and more and more drop off the pull list every month?

ULTIMATE X-MEN #38 $2.25 -- Ditto.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

 
Good Comics Reviews -- A new comics review column that I really like is New Comics Day by Bryan Miller. Check him out and see what you think. His Wolverine #3 review sealed the deal for me. When you can be right and hysterically funny all at once, you've arrived, in my book.

 
An Actual Good Retail Experience -- Stopped in at the Coconuts in Queensbury, NY last night looking for the Mer de Nom CD by A Perfect Circle (the Tool spinoff group's first album, from 2000). While I was looking for it among ten million copies of their current disc Thirteenth Step, my daughter checked that one out at a listening station and decided she loved it (apparently hearing me play it at home hadn't registered). So, finding Mer de Nom, I took it up to the register to pay for it, and the woman behind the counter actually pointed out to me politely that it was the band's old CD, in case I was making a mistake and looking for their new disc. When I told her I had the new one and wanted to get the earlier offering, she opined that Mer de Nom was the better album, which is what I've heard, and I told her that. We then had a brief conversation about the merits of the two CDs and about my first exposure to Tool through their CD Lateralus (which she was a fan of).

A small thing, but it's so rare to find a clerk that knows anything about what they're selling, or cares enough about their customers to steer them to what they actually want, that I was really impressed by this brief conversation.

Unfortunately, I haven't actually had time to listen to the CD yet. Hopefully today.

Friday, October 03, 2003

 
Peanuts Info -- Information is starting to be released about The Complete Peanuts. The more I hear, the more I like.



Thursday, October 02, 2003

 
I'm in the News -- John Jakala over at Grotesque Anatomy has noticed my meager new effort. Thanks, John. I think this is a "reimagining," we'll see soon. I'd link directly to his post, but his archives are as non-functional as mine. Viva Blogger!



 
BlogThanks -- My thanks to Pop Culture Gadabout Bill Sherman for being the first blogger I've noticed to add my new blog to his blogroll. Nice to be back.



 
Mailing List -- I'm changing my mailing list (which formerly was the Comic Book Galaxy Updates list) to a discussion list, so if you'd like to take part, visit the list's home page and sign up if you're not already a member.

 
Getting There -- I dunno, I'm not happy with the way the template and formatting of this blog are shaping up, but I don't seem to be able to find anyone else who can wrangle it either, and I've managed to work around the most egregious problems. Seems to me Blogger used to work better, but, whatever.

I've only told two or three people total about the existence of this thing, and as with when it began a few days ago, I'm still not totally certain I even want to continue blogging. The urge to get this thing into shape could either be an atavistic twitch of a former web personality, or the start of something new, and unlike my usual understanding of my intentions, I have no idea which one it will turn out to be. As it is, I am writing this right here, right now, for an audience of one.

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