Friday, November 07, 2003

 
A Ripple in Time -- Bill Sherman offers up an excellent review of Dave Cooper's Ripple, one of the best comics stories of the past few years.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

 
More Moore and Miller -- Just what I've been waiting for, courtesy of Forager. I can't help but feel the delay in posting part two was due to deep depression over my pointing out that he'd misspelled Mazzucchelli in part one. If so, I apologize. I can't help myself, sometimes. If nothing else, part two confirms for me that Forager and I will never resolve our tastes...I could never agree that anything drawn by John Romita, Jr. could be better than anything drawn by David Mazzucchelli. And I actually think Daredevil: Man Without Fear is about as unnecessary as superhero comics get. As I did when it first came out, I still find it awkward and pointless, a wrong-turn in Miller's otherwise pretty good record of Daredevil accomplishments.

 
Blogsplosion Too -- I've added some more comics bloggers to the sidebar over there on your immediate right (and don't forget the Paypal donation button, if you enjoy what I do here -- every little bit helps); with so many new and interesting comics blogs, I may have missed a few. If you think I have, please do e-mail me with a reminder. That is all.

 
Comics Blotter Improves -- Good to see The Comics Blogger has taken a few of my suggestions in improving its usefulness to readers (including a permanent, stable URL), better positioning it to become the second good, reliable source of comics news after Dirk Deppey's iJournalista!. One note to writer Julian Darius -- if you're going to run down the week's notable releases, you shouldn't neglect landmark publications like Palomar, which is more significant in terms of both artistic value and entertainment value than every other thing you list combined.

 
The Blogosplosion -- Good reflections on the recent expansion of the comics blogospehere by Sean Collins here and Sean also comments on recent expressions of despair at the current state of comics. Any year that sees the release of Palomar in hardcover, Quimby the Mouse and The ACME Novelty Library Datebook, and Mother, Come Home (any day now, I hope) in trade paperback (not to mention Paul Has A Summer Job and The Speed Abater) (oh, and The Frank Book and Young Gods and Friends) has to be considered a good one, in my estimation, no matter how crappy most monthly comics (always) are.

 
Ed Wood DVD Rescheduled -- Best news of the week:

After months of delays, Buena Vista Home Entertainment has announced a new street date and full specs for the eagerly-awaited Ed Wood. This Tim Burton biopic and instant cult favorite will now be released on February 3rd...audio commentary with Burton, Oscar winner Martin Landau, screenwriters Scott Alexander & Larry Karazewski, costume designer Colleen Atwood, and cinematographer Stefan Czapsky, deleted scenes, the "Let's Shoot This F#*%@r!" documentary, additional "The Theremin," "Making Bela," "Pie Plates Over Hollywood" and "When Carol Met Larry" featurettes, an original music video and the original theatrical trailer. Retail for this two-disc set will be $29.95.

More at DVDFile.com

 
Nubile Pile -- Hannibal Tabu's got some new comics reviews up at The Buy Pile.

 
Column Worth Reading -- Another in Chris Allen's series of informative and delightful comics reviewer interviews is up now in his new Breakdowns column. This time, it's Johanna Draper Carlson of Comics Worth Reading.

 
E-F-U -- Here's the most eloquent "fuck you" you're going to find in response to Matt Brady's simian choreography.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

 
Supporting the Blog -- I've added a Paypal button to the sidebar over there on the right. If you enjoy reading this weblog, I hope you'll consider donating to help defer the cost of keeping it online. So far I've been keeping Comic Book Galaxy online because some creators and publishers have linked to the reviews there, so your donation will help ensure I can keep both sites up. Thanks for considering making a donation, as always I appreciate any support you can offer.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

 
Must-Buy Book of the Week -- There's no question that if you only buy one book this week, the Palomar hardcover by Gilbert Hernandez is it.

This massive collection is basically Gilbert's contribution to Love and Rockets as it should be seen, so if you've heard about how L&R is one of the greatest comics ever (true), but have never given it a look, this is your chance to see why readers and critics have universally praised the title.

Fantagraphics says "For the first time ever, a single-volume collection of Gilbert Hernandez’s acclaimed 'Heartbreak Soup' stories from Love & Rockets — the very stories that built his reputation as a giant in the field. 500 pages, in a deluxe hardcover edition, presenting an epic narrative for the ages. Palomar is the mythical Central American town where these stories take place, and the stories weave in and out of its entire population, crafting an intricate tapestry of not only Latin American but also human experience. This body of work has been hailed by Time magazine and The Nation as a landmark not only for comics, but for 20th Century literature, as well."





 
Millar's WANTED Preview -- There's a preview of Wanted by Mark Millar and JG Jones up now at Comics Continuum. You might want to refresh your memory with my review. The book apparently ships next week, and should definitely appeal to people who enjoyed, say, Watchmen, Marvel Boy or The Ultimates.

 
Bend Your Rubber Rule -- I recommend today's Augie column for the "Freakish E-Mail" section at the end, which is damned funny. By the way, Augie, today is Election Day, not next week.

 
The Art of John Byrne -- Thanks to a recent trade, I got a copy of The Art of John Byrne, a decades-old sketchbook/hagiography published while Byrne was still working on Uncanny X-Men with Chris Claremont and Terry Austin.

I had a copy of this when I was a teenager, but sold it/traded it/lost it somewhere in the intervening decades, so it's nice to have a small piece of my formative years back again. Also nice to see some of the art within, especially the tight, sharp sketches and drawings, many of which were inked by Austin (including some Superman pieces that definitely indicated what was to come in less than a decade).

Seeing what Byrne was capable of back then and what he does today, I don't even think there's a comparison. At one time he was capable of exciting storytelling and intricate detail, and his work of the past decade or so indicates a continuing slide toward convenience that borders on self-parody.

 
More on The Week in Comics -- Christopher Butcher and Scott Robins have updated Previews Review with a look at this week's scheduled new releases. You have to give them credit for calling a spade a spade in regard to this week's release of Brian Wood's Demo:

"While the concept of the book sounds really great, there’s been far too many times I’ve been really excited about Wood’s upcoming work (Pounded, CousCous Express) and every time his material totally falls flat for me."

(Thanks to AK for the tip.)

Monday, November 03, 2003

 
Melrose Place in the Black Lightning Scheme of Things -- I was disappointed to read Kevin Melrose's comments on the ongoing issue of DC's misuse of Tony Isabella's Black Lightning character.

In responding to Kevin's comments, Tony told me:

Most of what he wrote was a contemptible attempt to impugn my character and motives and thus not deserving of response.

However, I did abruptly leave the second Black Lightning series.

Through no wish of mine own.

As has been reported frequently, I was fired from the second series for "lateness" after I turned in the script for the ninth issue.

This was over two months before the first issue was shipped...

...at a time when I was approximately 6-8 weeks ahead of the company production schedule and my artist was just starting work on issue #6.

Either Melrose was ignorant of these often-reported facts or chose not to mention them in his blog.


I think that many comics readers today don't understand how characters were created in comics in the pre Work for Hire era, a time that Black Lightning and his creation by Tony Isabella falls in to. Additionally, it seems many readers are eager to take the side of the publishers of their favourite characters rather than the creative people who made it possible for that company to exist in the first place. If the current situation educates readers on these issues, perhaps in some small way it will be worth it. In the meantime, it's left to people like Tony Isabella to try to be heard over the din of uninformed readers and creators who really ought to know better.

 
The Week in Comics -- Here's a rundown of stuff to look out for at the comics shop this week.

COMING WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 5TH
FANTAGRAPHICS

PALOMAR COMPLETE HEARTBREAK SOUP COLL HC $39.95 -- Comics as they should be. Gilbert Hernandez has dedicated decades of his life to telling this story, originally serialized in the pages of Love and Rockets. Now it's all collected in a single, seamless 500-page-plus slab of comics goodness that will entertain and enrich your existence. This is the must-buy item of the week, the month, and very possibly the year.

TOKYOPOP

BATTLE ROYALE VOL 3 GN (Of 5) $9.99 -- Class full of high schoolers tries to survive on an island where it's kill-or-be-killed. And even if you kill, hell, you might still get killed. Super violent, but super entertaining for mature readers.

IDW

DARK DAYS #5 30 DAYS OF NIGHT SEQUEL $3.99 -- This has been every bit as enjoyable as the series that spawned it; perfect to keep the post-Halloween horror vibe going.

AMERICA'S BEST COMICS

TOM STRONG #23 $2.95 -- Lately, it seems like the core ABC titles have been almost indescribably good. Maybe it's Alan Moore's impending retirement from mainstream comics that has him cramming so much detail, emotion and excitement into books likew this, Promethea and Smax -- whatever it is, they're better than they've ever been, and better than 95 percent of what's on the stands these days.

DC COMICS

EMPIRE #4 (Of 6) (MR) $2.50 -- Continuing Mark Waid and Barry Kitson's exploration of villany from the perspective of a superbadguy who has conquered the world.

POINT BLANK TP (MR) $14.95 -- If you're interested in Sleeper but haven't given it a look yet, this TPB collects the mini-series that led into what is one of my favourite comics. This is one of those stories that reveals its details in such a way that when you get to the end, you realize you need to read it again to appreciate all the subtle hints that were there all along. A great action/adventure/mystery that remains underrated, in my opinion.

IMAGE

SAVAGE DRAGON #112 (RES) $2.95 -- More of the usual excellence, semi-traditional sooperhero comics from Erik Larsen.

MARVEL

SUPREME POWER #4 (MR) $2.99 -- I miss Babylon 5.

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #49 $2.25 -- Still great fun. You have to wonder if Bendis or Bagley will ever drop the ball on this one?

 
Monday On The Internet -- Some comics stuff for you to check out today...

Sunday, November 02, 2003

 
Activism That Pays -- I've received the following intriguing e-mail from a reader who wants to be anonymous:

Hi, I'm an ardent follower of your web-site or blog (no matter where you move to) -- I check it out every week, or several times a week. And I've often been influenced in the past by the reviews and recommendations I've seen, as I'm sure many others have. There are many great comics that I've discovered thanks to you, and I'm grateful. In any event, I was hoping that you'd consider helping out a worthy cause. I'm talking about Top Cow's COMMON GROUNDS six-issue miniseries, written by Troy Hickman, which starts in January 2004.

Here's the blurb: Common Grounds is set in a chain of coffee shops across the country, where super-heroes and super-villains gather to sip coffee, munch on donuts, and hang out without causing a major brawl. It's in this neutral setting that stories are created focusing on the "human" side of the superhuman. Artwork is by Dan Jurgens, Michael Avon Oeming, Chris Bachalo, George Perez, Ethan Van Sciver, and Carlos Pacheco.

Troy Hickman's COMMON GROUNDS is essentially a big-league version of Troy's self-published, digest-sized HOLEY CRULLERS series. This is a dream-come-true opportunity for Troy, who's incredibly talented, and who's been trying to get a break for a decade.

I was hoping you might encourage your readers to give COMMON GROUNDS a try. The time for pre-orders is right now!

I'm such a believer in Troy's work that I'm willing to offer a money-back guarantee to anyone who buys the book and is dissatisfied with it. I'd be happy if you'd be willing to administer it on my behalf.


So, with some limitations (we can only guarantee the money-back offer for the first 66 people to buy the book who want a refund), I'm willing to administer this for this anonymous benefactor. He obviously believes in this project, and you know, with creators like Michael Avon Oeming, Chris Bachalo, Carlos Pacheco and others involved, you know this is going to be a fun book. And in fact, there's even more support from this book. Read this:

An Open Letter from Jim McLauchlin

COMMON GROUNDS: TELL A FRIEND!

Hi.

I got one-count it!-just one message for you:

Read Common Grounds. Then tell a friend.

Okay. The sticklers among you are already up in the hue and cry that
that's two messages. Split hairs all you want. The message remains
the same. And the message is important, for a number of reasons:

It's important because it's great material. Common Grounds is a
wealth of superhero stories with all new characters and all new
settings that are told with more heart, soul, and emotion than
anything you've ever seen before. Some stories are funny. Some are
heartwarming. Some are both. But all are told with a real resonance,
a true human touch, that will blow you away. I know, I know, I know-
you've heard it all before, selling everything from dishwashing
liquid to doorstops. But this is the real deal. Try it and you'll
see. You've never seen stuff in comics that will make you laugh or
cry like this.

It's important because Troy Hickman is you. He's the American dream,
writ large and brought to funnybooks. He's the guy who concocted a
mini-comic called Holey Crullers back in 1996, and lovingly and
painstakingly hand-stapled copies to bring to conventions, putting
his dreams out there for all to see. We saw, and we loved it. Top Cow
bought the concept, and is publishing these great stories, now re-
titled Common Grounds. He made it. He reached for the brass ring and
grabbed it. He's the uber-geek. He's a fan, a reader, and he's never
stopped being those thing. He's you, living the comics dream.

It's important because your favorite artists are here. There are two
stories per issue -- three if we feel like it -- with Dauntless Dan Jurgens
drawing one story in every ish, acting as our "anchor." Dan is joined
by a different guest artist every issue, with Michael Avon Oeming
(Powers), Ethan van Sciver (New X-Men), Chris Bachalo (New X-Men
again), George P,rez (a li'l sumpthin' called JLA/Avengers) and
Carlos Pacheco (JLA/JSA) each taking a turn. These guys are in
because they love the stories. You will, too.

It's important because you have power. Seriously! I believe things
work from the ground up; not the top down. If someone puts out a
crapola product (remember New Coke?) not all the marketing in the
world can save it. But word-of-mouth, heartfelt recommendations, can
and will and do buoy everything up from the grass-roots level. Ask
yourself: Who you gonna listen to if you're thinking about seeing a
movie? Leonard Maltin? Or a friend of yours who saw it? I thought
so. Read the comic. You'll want it to be a hit. You'll want to be
part of the feeling. Then, and I say again, TELL A FRIEND. You will
bring this great project to the great level it deserves.

I don't know if you know me. I don't know if you give half a sack of
wet crap about me. But the people who do know me know that my word is
true. I don't hold fire drills. I don't cry "wolf." When I say it's
on, it's on. I say it rarely. I say it only when it's true. I'm
telling you now-It's on.

Gimme one shot. That's all I ask. Try it, and if you like it, tell a
friend. If I'm fulla hooey, tell me. I'll send you a personal check
for $2.99. Straight up and true.

(Cue voice-over announcer's voice in your head now)

"So you don't forget, order before midnight tonight! That's Common
Grounds, coming in January from Top Cow Productions! And tell a
friend!"

Thanks. Hey, if you were publishing a new comic, I'd do it for you.

Jim McLauchlin
Editor-in-Chief
Top Cow Productions


So, there it is. Check out the COMMON GROUNDS webpage at Top Cow, pre-order the book from your retailer. If you don't like it, you are guaranteed a refund from either the anonymous benefactor who has asked me to administer his offer for him, or through Top Cow EiC Jim McLauchlin. I think this is a terrific example of grass-roots activism by people who believe in a book enough to think outside the box, and I think readers owe it to themselves to give the title a shot. Our anonymous benefactor here and Jim McLauchlin at Top Cow are putting their money where their mouths are. Let's give the book a try and see if their campaign works.

 

Boneyard Vol. Two
By Richard Moore
Published by NBM

Halloween may be over, but the supernatural thrills continue in Richard Moore's Boneyard, a tongue-in-cheek ensemble comedy featuring a cast of monstrous characters who serve to make the life of cemetary owner Michael Paris very complicated indeed.

Volume Two of this delightful series is in a new, standard graphic novel size -- the same dimensions as the original, floppy comics it collects (#5-8). NBM plans to reissue the first collection at this new size, and I think the series will benefit -- the oversized first volume was fine, but the pleasures of Boneyard are intimate, and it somehow seems a fitting change.

Paris is coming to grips with his new role among all these monsters in this new series, and while he still is capable of being surprised by the freakishness of their community, you can see that he is coming to value being part of a family, even one as bizarre as this. So of course, the universe conspires to make him uncomfortable in the form of an IRS audit, but it turns out the government agent may have a few secrets he's afraid of having uncovered (as it were) himself.

My favourite character here remains Abbey the vampire, and Moore is taking his time in developing the relationship between her and Michael -- their relationship is as charming as it is funny, and I am rooting for it to be permanent.

That's a key appeal of Boneyard, in that among all the gags and comedic situations, Moore remembers to give us stories featuring unique individuals we can sympathize with and laugh with, not just at. NBM is to be congratulated for continuing to collect the individual issues in these terrific graphic novels, highly recommended for readers of all ages. Grade: 4/5

 
Another New Comics Blog -- Here's Kevin Melrose's Thought Balloons. He's been blogging for a while and it looks like he's off to a good start.

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