Saturday, November 01, 2003

New Comics Blog -- Jim Crocker is the owner of Modern Myths, a comics and games shop in Northampton, Massachusetts. He has a blog that is kind of aimed at local customers to his store, but he is a man of excellent taste and his thoughts on current comics are definitely worth watching. You might want to check out his blog, and if you're anywhere near western Massachusetts, his store should not be missed.

Casey's Wildcats -- One of the better sooperhero books these days is Wildcats 3.0, the third incarnation of what was originally a cheesy Image series by Jim Lee. Along the way it was a middling Alan Moore book, and has now morphed into a strange, compelling blend of boardroom action, perversity and violence. Over at Ninth Art there's a good review of the first collection of this latest version. If you haven't sampled the series, I'd definitely recommend you do so. As reviewer Alex Dueben points out, "There aren't many comics out there even trying to be this good."

John Pierce on The Comics Simp -- Seriously, John Pierce is my new hero:

"James Sime, in his article The Comic Pimp, gives us a tired 'guerilla warfare' routine where his secret agents give some people comics. Everyone gets a pat on the back because they got someone to look at a comic. And hey, Too Much Coffee Man at the coffee house. Brilliant. I think I'll go break into Los Alamos and leave them some issues of Firestorm, the Nuclear Man."

Not surprisingly, Chris Allen also gets it.

See, it's not that we don't want comics to thrive. It's not that we don't want heartfelt, passionate and effective activism. It's that this does nothing for the cause. Read through the archives and find that, other than handing out free comics to being business to his store (and sure, good for him), his suggestions mostly ring hollow at best and offensive at worst. "Let's go kill some Nazis!"

Comic Book Resources has hosted a number of positive activism-related columns, including those by Larry Young and Warren Ellis. Maybe someday they will again. But that day is not today.

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


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.


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.

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