Tuesday, December 30, 2003
Raging Feedback -- Here's a selection of responses in the wake of my guest-stint this past weekend on All the Rage:
- Today's All The Rage was fantastic. Though I adore Markisan and the work he does for every Sunday, it's a shame the column doesn't get more of you. You have a fine blog, as well. Keep up the good work.
- Seriously excellent work. Even if I'd rather John C was chained down to Planetary pages. And even if I wish that Warren E was the next X writer.
- Nice. But you always have to wonder how much crossover there will be if Joss writes the book. Granted, it should be well written and interesting -- looking really pretty if Cassady is indeed the artist -- but how well did books like Fray or Tales of the Vampires do? And keep in mind that they're aimed directly at the Buffy fans. It'll be interesting to see. Good column, by the way.
- Loved your column - keep up the great work.
- Well that was the last and also best ATR of the year!!! Wow, a comic news column with actual news, how novel. Hopefully this column will light a fire and bring the standard back up for the weekly news and rumour columns that have been light on content and full of message board reprints.
- ADD's blog rocks. Definitely the best ATR of the year.
- Good column. I like the news about Cassiday on NXM and I'm curious about the new Miller Batman as well as Millar/Romita Jr. working together.
- Good column Alan...I could care less about Joss Whedon, I don't know one person that's not reading X-Men that will start because he's writing it, but I do know plenty that will be dropping it because Morrison's NOT writing it...As for me, I'll read it either way, unless it sucks...Can't wait for LitG tomorrow, as usual. Still the best column out there, but this was a good one-shot!
Probably the most detailed response was a negative one, spurred on by this quote from me:
"Now's the time when retailers will go two ways -- the visionary, forward-thinking comics shops will continue to welcome in new readers, genres and formats, while backward superhero fetishists (who essentially maintain their shops in order to get "free comics" featuring their favourite zombies like the Alan Scott Green Lantern and the shambling, undead Paul Jenkins Spectacular Spider-Man) will seriously begin to suffer the pains of their willful ignorance and defiance of logic. As a result, it's likely many comics readers will have to start looking elsewhere for their comics, as the superhero-oriented shops begin to die off, and yes, it will be a painful time for the industry, but it's a cull that has been needed for over a decade, and in the end, the artform will be vastly better off for it."
That prompted this response:
- I've never seen a more succinct, concise, or declaritive example of what is so mind numbingly wrong-headed with the 20-30 year-old (and older) comic "fan." This is the mentality of someone who arrives at the biggest party of the year, only to find that it's winding down, and most of the cooler people have gone home. Rather than enjoy the leftovers, and last drops of liquor, this fool wants to crank up the music and trash the house.
How was I spared this type of group-think? These are people of my generation, yet I'm able to appreciate the fact that the medium that I loved as a kid should stay accessible to kids. I walk into a comic shop today, and this is the foul acid spewing forth from most of the "fans" in my age group. "Manga is the answer!" they all cry. "Ultimize the entire Marvel line!" they declare. They claim these ideas are necessary for the future of the medium, but the truth behind that lie is that these changes are only necessary for the continuation of their medium. The Superman that was idolized by an 8 year-old must now be the Superman that can be analyzed and dissected by the 28 year-old. And yet, I'm the one said to be suffering from "willful ignorance" and "defiance of logic".
This thinking is anathema to the superhero comic book. The reason Superman is an icon is because he represents the very best that people can acheive. The reason Batman is an icon is because he shows you can overcome even the worst adversity in life, and succeed. These are simple ideas, simple notions that work precisely because of the age group they are intended for. You don't try to deconstruct these themes. You don't try to adapt these notions to your narrow-minded viewpoint. You accept that these were the ideas and stories that shaped your world as a pre-adolescent, and you take that development with you.
There's nothing wrong with an adult reading a comic book. Just realize that you are using that entertainment as a window back to your childhood. We look back to examine our own selves at a fundamental level. We don't insist that our past changes to better suit our future.
The kind of thinking that ADD suggests (and I can't think of a more apt set of intials for someone like this) will most certainly end superhero comics if more of the powers that be agree with him.
But, that looks to be exactly what he wants.
There's obviously a bit of an over-reaction there. I don't want to see the death of superhero comics, necessarily, I just want to see (and believe it's inevitable that) graphic novels created by adults and focusing on adult themes continue to grow into new markets, necessarily marginalizing the superhero genre and market, but opening up vast new vistas of adults who aren't ashamed to admit they read graphic novels, because there's nothing shameful about them. Unfortunately, while we still have many regressive retailers eschewing the best adult works from publishers like D&Q and Fantagraphics, and even more to their peril acting with outright hostility to the best-selling and most popular comics in the world, we still have a long way to go. So, no, I don't want to end superhero comics. I just want them to take their proper, proportional role in a world filled with full-service comics shops that cater to readers of all interests. Anything else is, indeed, "mindnumbingly wrong-headed."
My thanks to everyone who took the time to respond to the column. Doing it really fired me up with some ideas of what I would do with a regular, weekly comics column apart from the ADD Blog...perhaps something will develop in the year to come.
The Nail in Sangiacomo's Coffin -- As if to really rub how stupid he is in Mike Sangiacomo's face, DC Comics has posted a nine-page PDF preview of Darwyn Cooke's upcoming New Frontier series.
Cooke is probably the most vital of the current Pop Noir stylists, combining elements of, try to follow me here, Pop and Noir into a unified whole that suggests a lush, dangerous environment that is just about perfect for depiction in comics.
Re-reading Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's original Wolverine limited series, there were definitely elements of Pop Noir in there, and I'd argue that you get much the same vibe off of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips's Sleeper, as well. And of course, Steranko did a lot of Pop Noir stylings in his 60s/70s Nick Fury and Captain America as well.
I point this all out mostly in response to some dumbass who claimed in the wake of the Sangiacomo stupidity that "Pop Noir," was meaningless as a term. Far from it, I think it perfectly defines a lot of some of the most appealing comics art ever published, and definitely applies to Darwyn Cooke's New Frontier, which I can't wait to see.
Monday, December 29, 2003
The Monday Briefing -- Hello, good morning and welcome to The Monday Briefing. I used to do this regularly as a column at Comic Book Galaxy and on the former incarnation of this weblog. Let's see if we can justify the title today, despite having been sick all weekend and maybe catching a total of four hours of sleep since Friday.
All My Rage
Firstly, if you missed it over the weekend, stop by my fill-in All the Rage column at Silver Bullet Comics. I had a blast writing this last week, and hopefully you'll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I especially loved the front-page description on the Silver Bullet home page:
In the most unexpected return to SBC ever, Alan David Doane, fresh off his blogsite, fills in for the last Rage of 2003. And if you've been shocked and awed by past fill-in installments, you ain't seen nothin' yet. This is gonzo-style, fear-and-loathing, chaos-in-the-streets rumoring-mongering. But please, please, don't forget the Rumor Barrier, and to shield the eyes of the young or faint of heart.
The first lengthy reaction I received was this one:
You magnificent bastard. Nice job.
I have no idea whether or not Whedon writing NXM will boost sales
all that much. On one hand it seems like a sure thing--maybe in the
bookstore market--but I don't see the sales going above 150k just because
comics are so damn hard to find.
That reminded me of something that I neglected to include in the column, which is my theory of why Marvel thinks it could sell over a quarter of a million copies monthly of a Whedon-scripted New X-Men.
My best guess is that they're combining Batman: Hush numbers with whatever percentage of Buffy fans they think are out there that are willing to buy comic books. In no way do I believe that 300,000 people would buy Joss Whedon's New X-Men. Maybe if it was manga. And not about the X-Men. And not by Joss Whedon. And not published by Marvel.
The other interesting Whedon/New X-Men-related item of some interest is the introduction to the Fray trade paperback. In it, Whedon expounds at length on his love of X-Men. One wonders if it was written at a time when Whedon either already knew he was going to agree to a deal with Marvel or was at least giving it serious consideration. Clearly, though, the guy loves X-Men, and if he commits to the book for a long run (and can keep a schedule), the series might possibly sustain the Morrison-era numbers and probably improve on them, as long as we segued directly from Morrison to Whedon. Any Chuck Austen arcs would stain the franchise Morrison created beyond repair, and you might as well do a new #1 at that point. Of course, I am of the opinion that if Frank Quitely had been able to sustain on the book, Morrison's would have been selling twice as many copies as it did. Just saying.
Thanks to all for the positive reaction to the column.
A few days ago, I asked folks to link to the ADD Blog if they enjoy it. I'm very, very grateful for the positive reception the blog has gotten, but I would love it if it had as many readers as the late, lamented Comic Book Galaxy did. I'd say I'm about halfway there, and I'd love to spread the word. I just want to thank a few people that have picked up the ball and run with it:
If you link to the ADD Blog, preferably using the ADD Blog graphic, let me know and I'll give you a plug right here.
2003: The Best in X -- Paul O'Brien is much more patient and understanding than I could ever be. His ongoing dedication to reading and reviewing virtually every X-Men comic is impressive, certainly moreso than most of the comics he has to read as a result. Over the weekend he posted his year-end assessment of the X-Books, and it should give the wise comics reader insight into just how awful most of the franchise is.
Bill Sherman has also posted his thoughts on some of his favourite superhero miniseries of 2003.
Stalking AK -- The guy who used to write Title Bout for Movie Poop Shoot digs up an old issue of Comics Interview and finds some relevant quotes that apply to the industry today.
Your Moment of Snark -- Johanna Draper Carlson's January Previews comments are up, and of particular note are the Snarky Comments along the right side of the page, where she makes some points that are funny 'cuz they're true.
More Best of 2003 -- The Ninth Art crew has issued their Lighthouse Awards, with notable winners including Sleeper by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, and Paul Hornschemeier, whose work deserves all the recognition it can get.
It's a mystery to me why new comics won't appear in stores this week until Friday, December 2nd, but here's a list of titles you should be on the lookout for:
EMPIRE #6 (Of 6) (MR) $2.50 -- Well, last issue's surprise revelations were actually surprising, and even more surprising was that the impact of the reveal was not diminished by the years-long hiatus this series experienced. There's every reason to think #6 will be as tense and dramatic as the rest of the series, and if you've not been reading this, I would definitely recommend ordering the inevitible trade collection. Good stuff, and a fairly unique and downbeat take on superpowered goings-on.
PLANETARY #18 $2.95 -- My e-mail tells me not everyone feels this title has picked up where it left off a couple of years ago, but I think it's as good as it ever was, and very probably one of Warren Ellis's greatest achievements.
AMERICA'S BEST COMICS
SMAX #4 (Of 5) $2.95 -- Speaking of great achievements, Smax was one of the best Alan Moore efforts in years, a worthy successor to the excellent Top Ten, and not at all what you'd expect it to be if you're judging it by its covers.
PEANUTBUTTER & JEREMY BEST BOOK EVER TP $14.95 -- A near-tragic printing error prevented pristine, goft-worthy copies of this from being ready in time for the holidays. But now that it's done right and in stores this week, I hope you'll pick this up, and get an extra for a child in your life. Great, all-ages appropriate stuff about a cat who believes it works in an office and the mean crow who makes its life just a little bit more difficult. A surreal, joyous celebration of comics and creativity.
That's it, have a great Monday.
Sunday, December 28, 2003
ADD is All the Rage Today -- As hinted at yesterday, I've written this week's installment of All the Rage at Silver Bullet Comics. Stop by and fill up on this week's delicious selection of rumours. Thanks to Jason Brice and Markisan Naso for asking me to fill in.
Saturday, December 27, 2003
Fear Me -- Despite having succumbed to a cold in the last 24 hours and feeling like utter shit, I have finished work on a 3,500-word fill-in for one of the internet's most popular comics columns. If you spend anytime online on Sundays, you know where to look for me tomorrow. More on this once the column is up.
Friday, December 26, 2003
They Love Me Over There -- My thanks to Álvaro Pons for listing the ADD Blog on his website, which I swear I would read regularly if Google's page translator actually worked. From the little I've been able to translate, though, Álvaro has been extremely kind to me and my writing, and I'm grateful that he's the first to take me up on my request for links to this blog.
Boxing Day Ruminations -- It's not entirely easy being an anti-theist semi-pagan at this time of year. Yesterday, what I sometimes like to call "Boxing Day Eve," was particularly grueling this year.
I gave out my gifts on the Winter Solstice, which was last Monday. That included gifts to my wife and kids, who I suppose I had hoped would embrace my semi-paganism wholeheartedly. They were a bit game, it should be noted, giving me my gifts on the Solstice, but reserving their gifts for each other until, y'know, Boxing Day Eve.
Most of the day yesterday, then, was spent in varying degrees of cognitive dissonance. At one point, I decided to get out of the house, and made for the only place I knew was open, the local Hollywood Video store. I rented The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, hoping at best for a Lite version of the real thing (the Alan Moore/Kevin O'Neill graphic novel, but you knew what I meant, right?). Instead, I got a very badly plotted and scripted movie that didn't look all that great, either. Sean Connery could have been a great Allen Quatermain in a good adaptation of the Moore/O'Neill graphic novel, but this sure the hell wasn't that.
About the best thing in the movie was the way the FX crew managed to capture the body language of Mr. Hyde, which was probably as true in general to O'Neill's designs as technology could be expected to realistically simulate.
But overall, man, the movie gets a solid 2 out of 5 from me, and a warning to you that you don't need to see this movie. Trust me, it made a somewhat depressing day just a shade more grim.
Thursday, December 25, 2003
Tell Your Friends -- With the new year upon us celestially speaking and just a few days away for the hoi polloi, I would love to reach out to new readers in 2004. If you've got a blog or website and want to link to the ADD Blog, feel free to use this lovely little graphic:
Just copy the graphic to your website's image directory and link it to http://www.addblog.com. Let me know if you do and I'll plug your site here. Thanks, and happy holidays!
Wednesday, December 24, 2003
The Gift That Keeps on Giving -- John Byrne is offering up his delicious combination of paranoia and self-delusion for the holidays. Enjoy!
Tuesday, December 23, 2003
Short And Sweet Best of 2003 -- Sean Collins hits you hard and fast with this unimpeachable list of his personal faves of 2003.
Blog of the Year! -- My sincere thanks to Jason Marcy for naming the ADD Blog the #1 comics blog of 2003. Thanks, Jay!
Book of the Week -- Make sure you pick up Belly Button Comics by Sophie Crumb. This release from Fantagraphics should be one of the most interesting debuts in years, and I can't wait to read it.
Thursday Reading on Tuesday -- Chris Allen has posted Part One of his massive, witty and insightful 2003 Year in Review. Also, Bryan Miller has posted the last New Comics Day of the year, well worth a look.
Update: Jim Henley offers up his year-end best-of. (Thanks to Dirk for the pointer).
Monday, December 22, 2003
Attention Comics Professionals -- If you're a professional in the comics industry, or a retailer, or other such person with discerning taste and intelligence who regularly reads the ADD Blog, I need to talk to you.
Please drop me an e-mail within the next day or so. I promise not to out you as an ADD reader. So if you've enjoyed the blog, return the favour and send me an e-mail. Thanks.
Sunday, December 21, 2003
Journey into Ignorance: Words vs. Words
by Phantom Jackoff
Writing is such a subjective thing, it's almost impossible to argue about it.
But it's fun.
My local bag lady and I go round and round all the time, neither one ever giving in. Those fucking soda cans are mine, you skanky old hag. But I digress.
I'm right, course, but she's entitled to her bags full of old newspapers.
Even if she's wrong about the cans.
We agree on one thing: Catwoman is one of DC's better written comics. The character is interesting, not two-dimensional like most of her counterparts, and Ed Brubaker's scripts are a sheer delight. Her recent switch to the side of "good," (granted it's her own definition of "good") was a brilliant move. I hope I can turn to the "good" side some day. Until then, I will remain the Champion of the "mediocre." And speaking of which...
I've hated the art of Catwoman almost since the beginning. There's something about simple, quality linework that successfully suggests a brilliant, pop noir environment that just makes me teeth hurt like I accidentally chewed up a ball of tinfoil. Well, maybe it wasn't an accident, but goddamnit, there's not enough popcorn in the average package of Jiffy-Pop, and no matter how much I e-mail the company's president, those bitches won't listen. "Suggested serving size" my pock-marked ass.
With Paul Gulacy coming on board in issue #25, and delivering shoddy, subpar work that instantly ruins the book for anyone with the slightest taste, we have the perfect combination of good writer (Ed Brubaker) and completely inappropriate, title-destroying artist. With all due respect to previous good, skillful, gifted artists like Darwyn Cooke, Javier Pulido and Cameron Stewart, fuck the fuck off. Take your cartoony cartoons and cartoon 'em right up your cartoony ass. In other words, the previous work was too cartoony for my tastes. If there's one thing I fucking hate, it's cartoons. I hope to Christ this is coming through some how. With all due respect, of course. (Cartoony fuckers!).
Sorry, Gilbert Hernandez, Alex Toth, and Jack Kirby, but I just can't take an action comic seriously when the characters look all "cartoony," like they stepped out of Archie or Little Lulu, and I'm secure enough in my manhood to admit I like Little Lulu and frequently find myself "pitching a tent" when reading her sexy, saucy adventures. Schwing!
But I would not like Lulu drawn by Gulacy, Sam-I-Am. I would not like Lulu drawn by Gulacy on a train, I would not like it, uh, on a train.
I believe that different styles of drawing have their place. I believe that every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings. I believe that children are the future. Treat them well and let them lead the way. A child could certainly have seen that Epic was going to go tits-up long before Phantom Jack ever saw the light of day. If only I listened to the goddamned, motherfucking children. Lead, you little bastards!
Anyway. I was explaining to you how Mike Oeming sucks.
For example, we have "regular" "talented" "gifted" hack artists on comics, and then we have "failures," artists on comics meant for kids like "Powers," "Love and Rockets," and of course, the utter failure of such cartoony cartoons as "Powerpuff Girls" and the Justice League and Batman books based on the cartoon shows, and very unpopular with anyone with pubes. Except Michael Jackson. I understand a Buttercup poster was seized in the raid on the Neverland Ranch. That Michael Jackson, I told him to be more careful. He gives NAMBLA a bad name, when really,
These cartoony failures are less detailed, feature exaggerated physical characteristics and are simply, simpler, you simps.
This is not a bad thing, just a different thing. A thing that demonstrates once and for all what a staggering sack of fecal matter I am. But in case there's any doubt:
I, Phantomm Jackoff, am saying that the art based on the cartoon shows is less than the "regular" work. I wish I was "regular," but I really hate eating all that fiber, and besides, who's to say one agonizing visit to the toilet per week isn't, somehow, superior? Think of all that time saved by eschewing smooth, daily bowel movements. A determined diet of cheese and salty snack-products has me "regular" in my own way -- each Thursday morning, just after arriving at my imaginary newspaper job, I sequester myself in the ladies room (remember, not afraid to admit I like Little Lulu!) and desperately try to exorcise the dry, defiant log of waste material that is my weekly bowel movement. It is, simply, simpler. And painful. And O, Lord, the smell.
So, if we agree that these cartoony comics based on cartoony cartoons are simpler (and more cartoony!), then we have established an art level. Up here, in "La la la, I Can't Hear You-Land," the "regular" artists are for more discerning readers like myself and down there, in "I Like Love and Rockets-Land," the animated stuff is for...others. Simpletons. I want to use the "C" word so bad. Darwyn Cooke fans, you know who you are.
That being said, I hope the Brubaker-Gulacy team stays around on Catwoman through the release of the Halle Berry Catwoman movie. I would prefer people who
Along the same lines, since I can't talk about art I dislike and not mention Marvel, I might have enjoyed the recent Human Torch series if someone other than Skottie Young drew it. I'm sure Skottie would be fine on some projects, but it's jolting to have him draw a character like the Torch so differently that he'd hardly recognizable. What's with the triangular jaws anyway? I'm all jolted! And if anyone is still reading this, does it not take balls of steel to compare a piece of shit like the Tsunami Human Torch with the subtle, wondrous joy that was the pre-Gulacy Catwoman? Not to cry sour grapes here or nuthin' -- I'm sure the fact that Marvel utterly and completely dicked me over and made me look like a fucking idiot with my many months of ridiculous "Phantom Jackoff" columns has nothing to do with me bringing in this comparison completely out of left field. Also, I like the smell of my own feet after a long day at work bound up in my restricting footwear. That's the smell of freedom!
To close, I know I didn't change any minds. I'm sure that a large number of people agree with me and another large number thing I should be stabbed with the Torch's pointy chin. Or a shrimp fork. Luckily, the website that inexplicably thinks my worthless words are worth posting for all the world to see provides a forum in which I can be completely revealed as the specious hack I not only am, but always have been.
So read the comments below my original article, and watch the weather change.
Saturday, December 20, 2003
The Year in Comics -- Very good year end wrap over at The Johnny Bacardi Show.
Winter Solstice -- Monday marks the beginning of a new year, as the planet we share completes another full journey around the sun and so many things seem to start again. Metroland's Tom Nattell has written a terrific essay on the solstice. The piece should be up until December 25th or so. Please give it a look.
Friday, December 19, 2003
A Defining Moment in Comics -- Andrew Wheeler brings the funny at Ninth Art.
Time's Best of 2003 -- Time.com's online comics critic Andrew Arnold has posted his year-end best-of column. It's a pretty bulletproof list, although the level of his disdain for Marvel's 1602 series surprised even me. I can't speak to the series, myself, as I've not read even one issue. I was in Electric City Comics in Schenectady the other day and noticed they had every issue published to date (#1-5), and I'm always a sucker for a good chunk of issues in one sitting, so I cracked #5, and the hideousness of the artwork immediately compelled me to put the book back on the rack. Gah.
Chicago Readers -- If you're in Chicago, or close to it, you might want to pick up the recent issue of The Chicago Reader. There's a good profile of Paul Hornschemeier that includes a quote from the author of this very blog.
You can also read the article in the Chicago Reader website archive, but for some reason it'll set you back two bucks, so, you know. That's that with that.
Thursday, December 18, 2003
For A Few Floppies More -- I should mention some other floppies that I read and/or enjoyed in 2003...
New X-Men -- I was onboard Grant Morrison's mutant revamp from before it began, eager and excited to see what he and Frank Quitely could do to inject some life into a franchise that has had many, many more "off" years than "on." It's my belief, in fact, that the X-Men as characters have survived this long only thanks to the enormous momentum and goodwill built up by a few years of excellent adventure comics by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin. I tired of the artistic musical chairs during Morrison's run, especially with the shoddy look of some of the Igor Kordey issues, which looked like they had been printed from loose breakdowns, never mind full pencils. After the big reveal this year that Xorn was Magneto in disguise, I was amused by Morrison's temerity and re-read his entire run. I still can't wholeheartedly endorse a run of issues that encompasses such a varying quality of artwork, but Morrison's ingenuity and planning and ability to keep it all a secret for three years is worth saluting.
Human Target -- I'm a latecomer to this Peter Milligan/Javier Pulido series, having only read the first four issues of the current series. I found the first issue pretty impenetrable and the most recent, baseball-oriented storyline doesn't much interest me, but the second and third issues, about a man who faked his death after the September 11th World Trade Center attacks, were very well done and I think I'll be sticking with the title for a few months to see how it develops.
Forlorn Funnies -- I didn't mention this in my Floppies of the Year piece because, well, I seem to hit people over the head with my Forlorn Funnies addiction every chance I get, and I had already given creator Paul Hornschemeier a nod in my other Best of 2003 piece. But in the handful of titles that I found myself eagerly awaiting during 2003, Forlorn Funnies was pretty much at the top of the list. There are only a few comics in history that so clearly point the way to the future of the artform -- Eightball, Acme Novelty Library, and Forlorn Funnies are certainly the three that immediately come to mind, and they're all pretty much equally brilliant and consistently entertaining.
Ultimate Spider-Man -- Month in and month out, I remain impressed and entertained by the never-ending roll that Brian Bendis and Mark Bagley have been on. The recent issue featuring J. Johah Jameson dealing with ethical questions was a great reminder of the humanity that Bendis injects into just about every character he writes. Bendis's Ultimate Six had some nice narrative moments as well, including a chilling moment depicting the depths of Dr. Octopus's evil. There's not many superhero books that keep my attention month in and month out, but Ultimate Spider-Man is always a fun, engaging way to spend 20 minutes.
Young GODS is Here -- I'm told that Barry Windsor-Smith's Young GODS and Friends has arrived at the Fantagraphics warehouse and is ready for shipping. You can learn about my minor involvement in the book in this blog entry. This is highly recommended, and would make a terrific gift during this gifty-gift time of year. Go forth and make with the commerce!
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Viewer Mail -- Here's an interesting note I received yesterday:
I, for one, would like to thank you for all the good you continue to do for the comics community. When I first took notice of Comic Book Galaxy I was appalled, at times, by what I read. You have to understand that in the political spectrum, I lean more towards the right, although I am not toppling to the right as most of my friends are. I would read your political commentary and often become enraged, but rarely comment, and instead read your reviews on works I didn't even know existed.
Most of my current library of books I have stacked on my shelves I blame you for being there. You consistently told your readers that there was more out there than the tight flying gang, and I finally caved when I began to order material from Top Shelf, Drawn and Quarterly, and Oni. I'm glad I did and I'm beginning to notice that the first place I turn in my Previews every month is the "comics" section, you know the section with all the really smart and reliable books.
So, I just want to close by saying that even though I don't always agree with you politically, I always open my day by visiting your weblog to see things from your point of view, and appreciate all you do for comics in general.
P.S. : Where is my F is for Floppy, I'm like a guy at the methadone clinic, hurry it up already!
Thanks for the kind words, Paul. I think we can safely say that F is for Floppy has joined the Choir Invisible and won't be seen again, but it was fun for the brief time it lasted.
Wednesday Reading -- Sean Collins has more thoughts on the paucity of news in the Comics Journal's "news" section.
Derek Martinez weighs in on the year in floppies.
Steven Grant's Permanent Damage includes his usual blend of excellent reviews and political commentary.
And in case you had any doubt, John Byrne's phone booth full of fans is as thin-skinned as he is. Nuthin' but fun in that thread. Good times, good times.
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
Floppies of the Year -- 2003 was an interesting year in comics linguistics. It was the year that the general public -- the part that thinks about comics, anyway -- decided that they're all graphic novels, and the ever-dwindling mass of nerds who populate and support the nation's comics shops were torn between calling 32-page comics (and their stapled brethren) "floppies" or "pamphlets." Writer Steven Grant suggested "Pamfs," but I submit to you that that phrase is just never going to catch on. Sorry, Steven.
In any case, while my official Best of 2003 feature covered graphic novels, I've decided here in the last days of December, 2003 that I should also throw some love to the pamfs -- I mean, floppies that rocked my socks during the previous 12 months. So that's that with that, as Mr. Malloy would say.
Sleeper -- This "Eye of the Storm" title from DC/Wildstorm was far and away the best comic to look forward to every 30 days during 2003. Built on a foundation of paranoia, grief, misery and violence, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips injected an unrelenting sense of dread combined with a very human, grounded drama that made Sleeper absolutely addictive. Unfortunately, it appears at first glance to perhaps be more complex than it is, which may have put some potential readers off, I don't know. In any case, it's clear that this fantastic series did not receive the attention it deserved in 2003. Readers will have a chance to sample the book with this week's release of Sleeper: Out in the Cold, a trade paperback collecting the first six issues. It would be a real loss to comics if this series were allowed to disappear, so please give it a look. I guarantee you'll be as hooked as I am.
The Walking Dead -- We're only three issues in to this action/adventure series, and it's already established itself as a fun, engaging story about, well, I've tried to avoid the term as far into this sentence as possible, but, zombies. Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore's story bears some basic similarities to the excellent horror movie 28 Days Later, but Kirkman is concentrating more on the human side of the equation -- what would it be like for the remaining humans if zombies walked the earth? The Walking Dead is hard to pin down -- it has elements of science fiction, horror and action/adventure, but at its core Kirkman and Moore concentrate on the humanity of their characters, and that's essential to creating stories people read, enjoy, and remember. By far one of the best books Image offered up in 2003.
Promethea -- It's the end of the world, and apparently the ABC Universe created by Alan Moore, and no one in this mind-bending series is feeling fine. Reality is twisting and bending and getting closer every issue to breaking for good -- and Moore and his gifted colleagues are delivering a true "crisis" that puts other "end of the universe" stories in comics history to shame. The past few issues of Promethea have been so good that it's truly hard to put into words -- the sense of sadness, dread and chaos mixes with the very real depression I feel at the prospect of no more Alan Moore-written ABC titles to give the stories even more gravity. Promethea is possibly Moore's greatest achievement, and in these final issues, he's rewarding his readers by going out with the very biggest bang possible.
Love and Rockets -- The late-in-the-year release of Gilbert Hernandez's Palomar hardcover brought into stark relief how lucky comics readers are to live in a time when Love and Rockets is being regularly published again. Each issue provides a generous selection of short stories and serialized tales by Gilbert, and brothers Jaime and Mario. Los Bros. Hernandez are often cited as some of the best cartoonists in comics history, and for one very good reason: They are. If you haven't been reading the latest incarnation of their storied series Love and Rockets, you're missing out on stories filled to bursting with life, love, comedy and drama. If you're an adult who likes comics, there's literally nothing more you could ask for.
Gabagool -- By now you've probably heard something about this delightful little alternative title, but chances are you haven't sampled it yet. You should. Gabagool is about a group of friends and would-be bounty hunters who live in Bronx, NY (whatever you do, don't call it The Bronx!) and live out their days in geeky pursuit of pleasure. This year saw the comic make the jump from mini to full-sized comic, and the boys travelled on a hedonistic vacation that was hilarious and delightful. If you haven't picked up an issue of Gabagool yet, make that one of your new year's resolutions.
Wildcats -- Writer Joe Casey has produced a lot of bizarre, self-congratulatory crap over the past few years -- and one exquisite, cerebral action title. Wildcats concerns how one super-powered being wants to transform the world through corporate branding, and with the help of artist Dustin Nguyen, this DC/Wildstorm title has been a joy to read. Wildcats has almost always been about deconstruction, from the moment Jim Lee and company handed the title off to Alan Moore. Since that divine occurance, the book has almost always been interesting, but it's never been better than it has under the care of Casey and Nguyen. 2004 will see a new artist on the title, and I'm apprehensive about the change, but for over a year now Casey has done a fine job making Wildcats a riveting read, and I hope that continues in the new year with a new visual style.
Dark Days -- Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith recently wrapped up their six-issue sequel to 30 Days of Night, building on that original series and creating an even more grim and surprising story. Vampires vs. humanity is the basis of the tale, and Niles, as always, approaches his story from surprising angles and with great narrative confidence. The final moment of Dark Days was dark, indeed, and a great reminder that in the world of independent comics, literally anything is possible.
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume Two -- As the movie inspired by Volume One failed to ignote much interest in summer movie-goers, the true excitement was in the pages of this perverse take on War of the Worlds. The League bands together to defy martian invaders, but is torn apart by internal treachery. This worthy sequel featured two especially noteworthy moments, the lovemaking of two of the lead characters, and the horrifyingly funny demise of one team member by another, leading to my favourite line of dialogue in any comic this year. As long as I live, I will never forget how funny it was when Mr. Hyde said "I saw to his end." Alan Moore's genius will sorely be missed in 2004.
Smax -- If it seems there's a lot of Alan Moore on this list, that's because he wrote a lot of the best comics that saw the light of day this year. Smax was especially surprising, because I think most readers were expecting a lighthearted sequel-of-sorts to the sublimely wonderful Top Ten. Instead, what we got was a harrowing examination of the origin and culture of Officer Jeff Smax, along with enough dead-on mockery of fantasy stories to make any Tolkien fan blush. One of the biggest surprises of the year was just how good, and how complex, Smax turned out to be.
Planetary -- The list of disappointing Warren Ellis comics from the past couple of years is quite long. He got the idea of "Pop Comics" into his head and wouldn't let go until quarter bins were filled to bursting with subpar efforts like MEK, Tokyo Storm Warning and Reload. On the other hand, Red with artist Cully Hamner showed how good the idea could have been. But longtime Ellis readers were most excited about the return, at last, of Planetary. The series picked up without missing a beat, the highlight of the year probably being a jungle adventure that ultimately revealed itself to be an unexpected origin story full of passion and excitement.
Wanted -- The occasional excesses of writer Mark Millar ("Think this 'A' stands for France?" was the clunker line of the year) often seem to cloud the fact that he is quite accomplished at plotting superhero comics, and the early returns on Wanted seem to indicate that readers get it: Wanted is filled with action, perversity and profanity, and the stunning, dynamic art of JG Jones. It's not a quantum leap from Millar's The Ultimates, but it definitely improves on the formula and is likely to be the superhero book everyone is talking about in the next few months.
Shonen Jump -- The manga section in my local Borders has recently undergone a massive expansion, and that's not because they're losing money on it. I bought my first issue of Shonen Jump, a bargain-priced manga anthology, well, today, actually. But in a year when this jam-packed upstart comic magazine outsold the leading "mainstream" comic by a factor of five, I thought it was long past the time I should give it a look. Factor in the price differential -- at five bucks, Shonen Jump costs double what Jim Lee's excreable Batman did -- and you can be certain that 2004 will be the year manga dominates even more, as the more short-sighted comics shops continue to turn away thousands of potential customers and further seal their own fates.
Reinventing Everything -- 2003 was the year James and Amy Kochalka welcomed their new son Eli into their family, and one of the beneficial results of that was this introspective, revelatory two-issue mini-comic. I enjoyed Reinventing Everything more than just about anything else I read this year, and I strongly recommend it as one of the best examples of why James Kochalka is one of our best living cartoonists.
Monday, December 15, 2003
The Comics Journal Dichotomy -- You know, for the longest time, The Comics Journal website was a fairly static, uninteresting thing -- a few web-only essays and an active if maddening message board, but ultimately its primary purpose seemed to be to advertise the contents of the latest issue of the paper magazine.
That all changed when webmaster Dirk Deppey singlehandedly created the most important comics weblog, iJournalista!, a daily dose of comics news both large and small that shames not only the so-called "comics news sites," like The Pulse and Newsarama, but which now has clearly shamed the paper version of the magazine, too. Sean Collins wrestles the Journal's pathetic news section to the mat and leaves it screaming for mercy with whatever pitiful voice it has left.
The pity is, 20 years ago the Journal was the only place to find hard-hitting comics industry news. Now it's just about the last place you can expect to find it. My wife probably knows more about what's going on in comics today than Journal news editor Michael Dean.
It's ironic and sad that as the Journal's interviews, reviews and features have thrived in the past few years, the news section has wasted away to nothing. Other than in-depth obits, the news section is pretty much optional reading these days, convention reports and features pretending to be news. Hopefully Sean's outing of the news section and accurate trumpeting of Dirk Deppey as the internet's best comics resource will set the Journal's editors and managers to thinking about some ways to fix what has clearly been broken for years now.
Corner Comics Cornered -- Dirk Deppey has the apparent finale of the Corner Comics situation. I don't know who's in the right here, the comics shop or the IRS, but when the government wins in their demand for books of any kind to be destroyed, members of a democracy ought to be goddamn alarmed.
Monday Reading -- In Part Three of Rob Vollmar's Discovering the Elephant, Rob continues his examination of the graphic novel.
Paul O'Brien has updated The X-Axis with a batch of new reviews.
I guess The Comics Burrito is going the way of Four Color Hell, huh?
Rob Liefeld is in the spotlight in the new All the Rage. A highlight is the revelation that, in addition to shoddy reproduction, Checker Publishing is reportedly not paying royalties "to the creators for either of the Supreme reprint volumes."
Isn't it nice that we have an entire generation of publishers now reprinting classic comics and doing so without properly paying the creators of the work (Barry Windsor-Smith and Conan and the new Dark Horse collections come to mind)?
How companies like Dark Horse and Checker can admire these works so much that they want to bring them to new generations of readers, and yet violate the rights of the very creators of those works so flagrantly, is almost impossible to comprehend. But it's certainly a fact that readers should take into consideration before supporting the resulting publications. When you know that buying an Alan Moore's Supreme collection (however shittily printed) or a Conan trade paperback, you might pause for a moment and ask if you want to take part in stealing from creators you admire. Because when you reprint work like this without paying royalties to the creators, you're stealing. Period.
In the All the Rage piece, Liefeld states that he "look(s) forward to achieving personal profitability on the Checker books that will enable (him) to cut everyone involved royalty checks." And I think we've all seen over the past few years how trustworthy and reliable Rob Liefeld is, no? Well, he says the entire Youngblood: Bloodsport mini-series will have shipped by Summer, 2004, too. Mark your calendars, kids. (And for a lark, before it disappears, re-read the Rob Liefeld Translation Algorithm. Good times, good times.)
Sunday, December 14, 2003
Attention Creators and Publishers -- Renee French linking to one of my Comic Book Galaxy reviews over at the TCJ boards reminds me that I should probably mention this.
If you're a creator or publisher and you've linked to one of my Comic Book Galaxy reviews on your website, the Comic Book Galaxy review archive will be permanently disappearing within the next couple of weeks (I thought it had already gone down the other day, but it came back). If you want to continue to use my reviews on your sites, you have my blanket permission to use the full text of the review on your site, preferably with a link to this current weblog here at www.addblog.com.
The point here is that any current links to material archived at Comic Book Galaxy won't work after a couple more weeks pass, and if you want to continue to use my review, you're gonna have to copy and paste it to your own site. If you don't have the web-savvy to do that, drop me an e-mail and I can send you what you need to post on your site.
It's possible that a third party may eventually host my review archive to keep it from fading into oblivion, but this being the internet, I won't fully believe that until it's already happened. So if you want to continue to use my reviews to promote your work, grab it now or e-mail me for assistance.
Late Sunday Reading -- The Johnny Bacardi Show has posted some new reviews, and Hannibal finally posted a little somethin' somethin' (get well soon, buddy); meanwhile, darkness has fallen in the snow-battered Eastern time zone and still no new Markisan or X-Axis. Feh!
Saturday, December 13, 2003
AK Reads Some Comics -- You know, the only reason this blog exists is so I can direct you to AK's message board posts. Today he posted a long one about comics he's read recently. Makes me miss Title Bout.
Finding a Holy Grail Comic -- So I went to Aquilonia Comics today in Troy, NY. Only my second trip ever to this store, because it's located in a maze of one way streets that I barely comprehend in a city that has nothing to offer that I have been able to detect.
I walked in and within 30 seconds discovered David Mazzucchelli's RUBBER BLANKET #2, the most difficult-to-find issue of this three issue series. I've let it go on eBay recently because the bidding got up into the 40-50 dollar range, and as much as I like Mazzucchelli, I'm not spending that much money on him unless it's an original sketch or something.
It was cover price and in brand-new condition, and I am thrilled to have a complete set of these now; there's not much that I have collectoritis about, but the work of Mazzucchelli (non-Marvel/mainstream work, anyway) is something I am fairly obsessive about. Not many artists in comics history have made the leap from superhero artist to genuine, noteworthy cartoonist so profoundly and completely.
RUBBER BLANKET #2 includes a number of short stories, and two genuine gems: "Air," about Mazzucchelli's asthma, and "Discovering America," which I had in an Italian collection, but which is even more of a revelation now that I can read it and be certain what it's about.
I've been sensitive to the perils of asthma since cartoonist Raoul Vezina (creator of Smilin' Ed Smiley and a staple of the FantaCo comics line and brick and mortar store in Albany) died from an attack a couple of decades ago. Until then I had no idea what a serious condition it was, and until I read "Air" I never knew Mazzucchelli had it as well. The story takes the personal and applies it to global concerns in a very direct and affecting manner. Great stuff.
"Discovering America" is probably his best RUBBER BLANKET story -- the tale of a mapmaker and his attempts to reconcile his obsessing with mapping reality with his need to map his interpersonal relationships. There's a surprise double-page spread that is surreal and striking.
With the news that City of Glass is coming back into print, hopefully Mazzucchelli's star will ascend again and RUBBER BLANKET will either be reissued or (more preferably) collected in a nice omnibus edition. It's some of the finest cartooning ever, and it deserves a wider audience.
Saturday Reading -- Michael Paciocco has posted his Year in Review.
Fight the Flu -- All right, apparently this flu thing is getting serious. Deadly serious, as close to two dozen children have actually been killed by this virus, and more will almost certainly die. This is not to be taken lightly.
So I would just like to celebrate my germ-phobic nature and remind you, quite seriously, to wash your hands. Yes, if you can get a flu shot, I suppose you should, but washing your hands is the best defense against a whole shitload of viruses and bacteria.
This has been your Celebrate Germ-Phobia! moment for the day.
Friday, December 12, 2003
CrossGen DeathWatch -- Boy, Mark Evanier has a great post about the former Last, Best Hope for Comics.
Amazing Spider-Man Masterworks for Trade -- I have a set of Amazing Spider-Man Masterworks Volumes #1-3 (collecting the first 30 or so issues by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko) that I am looking to sell or trade. They're in like-new, NM condition. If you're interested in these, send me an e-mail.
Back Issues and the IRS -- You should probably read Dirk Deppey's call to action in regard to a truly bizarre case involving comics shop backstock and the IRS. It has wide implications for not only comics shops, but used bookstores, music stores and probably many other entertainment outlets.
I guess I would have jumped on this sooner if the lead instigator in the call to action hadn't spent most of the week unjustifiably calling me names.
Don vs. Randy -- And in this case, Randy wins. I don't know why Don dislikes Gabagool so much, but I suspect maybe it hits too close to home. Gabagool #4 just shipped this week, the first part of a hilarious multi-part story that gets the boys out of their usual locale. Everyone should be reading this very funny small press comic.
Thursday, December 11, 2003
My Acceptance Speech -- I'd like to thank the Academy and Jason Marcy for recognizing my drawing of me as Aquaman as the "Bestest Aquaman Drawing Ever." Having now spent a day or so looking at it from time to time, I have to agree, however humbly. Thanks to Dirk for bringing this to my attention, and for bringing this sordid chapter in Comics Blogosphere history to a definitive conclusion.
Thursday Reading -- Chris Allen's Breakdowns has a good batch of reviews, including, finally, Palomar. Show his review to any skeptics on the subject.
Bryan Miller has updated New Comics Day, and The Johnny Bacardi Show has opined on some of those great superhero covers I posted yesterday. Glad to see he likes the Wagner Green Arrow -- that's probably my favourite "mainstream" cover of the past few years (although the Promethea tribute to Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man comes close for sheer genius).
Wednesday, December 10, 2003
I Have to Apologize -- I apologize to Laura for letting my competitive nature get the best of me. She clearly doesn't share my point of view when it comes to what makes good superhero artwork, and that's fine -- the whole point of the comics blogosphere is for a diversity of opinions to be heard. I hope someone will let Laura know that I am sorry, and that I am offering up this sketch of myself as Aquaman to try to patch things up.
Doane the Destroyer -- Wow, any more sensitive and Laura'd be allergic to her own farts.
The Great Superhero Covers -- Today, in an effort to bring even more clarity to the issue of good cover design, I will post some of the best superhero comic book covers of the past few years. These are covers that undeniably highlight elegance in design, impact the reader's eye and comment in some way on the post-superhero era.
I Want to Respect Laura Gjovaag -- Really, I do. I generally like her blog and her approach. But her out-of-control comments at John Jakala's blog have pretty much destroyed her credibility:
"I'm tired. I'm tired of being insulted and belittled every time I express an opinion. I'm tired of being a second-class citizen in the comic book blogosphere because I enjoy superhero comic books. I'm tired of all the crap that's constantly being heaped on anyone who dares to defend superheroes. I'm tired of comic book snobs, people who the rest of the world considers every bit as nerdy as me, acting like I'm slime."
You're tired? Take a nap. And who acted like she was slime? Paranoid much?
Here's where she really flies off the wall:
"ADD's style is that of an arrogant asshole, so self-important that he forgets he's only a small fish in a tiny pond. Describing that badly-drawn, badly-colored, BORING, and static image as "subtle, post-iconic" is just spraying Pinesol on shit and hoping nobody notices it still stinks. As for the Aquaman covers that I posted, both of them were similar in style to the dung that ADD posted in that they were portraits, but both of them also showed movement (which is a very important aspect of superhero comics that apparently ADD is too fucking stupid to know about) and gave a hint as to the character (gee, fish, I guess he's underwater)."
I won't even bother getting into issue of critical faculties -- Seth's mainstream appeal and general overall excellence are widely known among adults who read comics, and besides, any time you write the words "As for the Aquaman covers that I posted," when seriously trying to defend yourself, well, it really is time to take a nap.
You can read Laura's name-calling ignorance in the comments section of these entries at Jakala's blog. She's also ranting and raving a bit about it in multiple posts at her blog.
Wednesday Reading -- Steven Grant's new Permanent Damage has a revolutionary idea for promoting comics, thoughts on comics criticism, and much more. Essential weekly reading.
Tuesday, December 09, 2003
Confidential to Sean T. Collins -- The Kochalka Hulk story Marvel printed in an annual a couple of years back was not a reprint of the Coober Skeber story, he painted a new iteration of it for Marvel. So you gotta have both if you're a true Kochalkaholic.
Jakala Gets Involved -- John Jakala horns in on the debate between Laura Gjovaag and I over the sublime divinity that is Seth's cover to Coober Skeber #2. Jakala wins, though -- that is a damn big gun!
Laura, meanwhile, can't take the heat. Aw.
The Week in Comics -- Previews Review runs down this week's new releases.
Well, DUH -- Laura Gjovaag finally gets it:
ADD's...tastes are completely different than 99% or so of superhero fans.
I should certainly hope so.
Johnny Bacardi also weighs in, and reading both of their comments, one can only assume they're unaware that superheroes are dead. You'll note that both of them disagree with my correct assessment that Seth's Coober Skeber cover is the best superhero cover of the past decade, but neither has put forth anything that can even begin to approach Seth's fine tribute to the superhero era. Sadly, Gjovaag's comment that Seth's piece is "boring, badly-colored, and static," places her firmly in the Ray Tate school of comics commentators.
AK Waffles -- Former Title Bouter AK weighs in on Dirk Deppey's essay on the Direct Market, then takes it all back.
One point I particularly sympathize with AK on is when he says "[Comics is] actually pretty sweet right now, man. I got a Joe Sacco book and a Junji Ito book on Saturday. How awesome. I know everyone's a downer right now but man, I think what it is: the less you pay attention, the more awesome comics seem. Now that I don't do a comic book column anymore, everything I read is awesome. Palomar -- awesome, GYO -- awesome, that Chris Ware sketchbook -- awesome."
When you have a column, or a website (and I see this morning that Comic Book Galaxy seems to have officially entered into history -- it's gone, Jim), you feel a responsibility to read everything you can afford, and everything on top of that, that the publishers and hopeful creators send to you. Sturgeon's Law invokes itself, though, with the vast majority of what you receive being crap, and a large portion of that egregious crap that makes you want to eschew comics in favour of a new hobby, or just suicide. When you free yourself of those perceived responsibilities, you are free to focus only on that work that you know will be good (because it's from a trusted creator, or because someone you trust recommends it), the percentage of great stuff rises exponentially. "Yay, comics," you say, but to a much smaller crowd. It remains to be seen whether this enlightened self-interest can save comics, but it will certainly save the sanity and love of comics for those willing to stop reading utter crap like Power Company or Creature Tech or Eclipse and Vega (choke!) because you feel you have a responsibility to -- Team Comics, or, whatever.
Oh, by the way, this has been your AK Stalking Moment of the Day.
By Frank Miller, Will Eisner, and others
Edited by Diana Schutz
Designed by Paul Hornschemeier
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Like the last Schutz-edited anthology I read (Happy Endings), Autobiographix is a mostly-successful anthology by an unusually-strong group of cartoonists. This is increasingly rare, as most anthologies I've read in the past few years have been varying degrees of agony to plow through. Schutz appears to be a fine editor, and one of the few in an industry that has forgotten the meaning of the word.
If you read the Streetwise anthology of a few years back, you might have an idea of what to expect here -- mostly experienced and gifted cartoonists share vignettes from their own life experiences. The book leads off with an impressive piece by Frank Miller, a funny and telling account of his experience as an actor with a brief but visually memorable scene in last year's Daredevil movie. The brief story not only underlines the paradoxical excitement and tedium of the movie-making experience, but enlightens as to how Daredevil publisher Marvel Comics has treated Miller over the past few years. Miller's piece is brief, sharp and enlightening -- if only his longform work of the past few years was this good.
Sergio Aragones delivers a terrific anecdote about meeting Richard Nixon. The incident happened at Warner Books, which at the time was publishing books by both men. This is the second-best "Meeting Richard Nixon" story I've read (after Dr. Thompson's, of course), and I thought the most intriguing element of it is that Nixon apparently not only knew who Aragones was, but how to spell his name.
My favourite piece in the book is the reflective and appealingly mannered "Rules to Live By," by Jason Lutes. It's fascinating to me to see Lutes utilize his Berlin stylizations in the depiction of his current life and environment. The piece is philosophical and probably one of the most reflective and (as he admits) didactic in the book. It's thoughtful and gorgeous and a true highlight in a book full of strong material.
Farel Dalrymple of Pop Gun War contributes a very untypical effort, a sad, beautiful story of lost love. It's him telling the story of someone else that touched his life, and as impressive as Pop Gun War has been, Dalrymple is a powerful storyteller in this mode, too.
Other contributors include Eddie Campbell, Matt Wagner, Linda Medley, William Stout, Paul Chadwick, Bill Morrison, and more. It's an impressively talented and diverse selection of creators.
The book is designed by Paul Hornschemeier, who contributes the closing story as well. His elegant, understated design work and his quiet, complex contribution (an examination of the very theme of autobiography) unify the collection and give it added grace and a sense of enduring significance. Schutz thanks her publisher in her endnotes for allowing her to pursue "more personal, less strictly commercial" projects such as this. It shames the industry to think what might be considered more commercial than these genuinely human stories, skillfully told with honesty and passion. Grade: 4.5/5
Monday, December 08, 2003
New Innovations in Paranoia -- Hmm, what's John Byrne so afraid of, anyway?
Hard-Hitting Analysis -- Derek tells you all you need to know about a bad batch of upcoming Marvel titles.
Monday Reading (Updated) -- Hannibal Tabu previews My Flesh is Cool in an interview with writer Steven Grant. I bought the preview issue for this series it seems like many, many months ago, and I'm glad it's finally coming out. I should remind you that Grant's X-Man was one of the best Marvel titles of the past decade, and the intriguing premise of My Flesh is Cool makes it an automatic must-read for me.
Christopher Butcher has also updated his Previews Reviews column, running down the few worthwhile items shipping in January.
Dirk Deppey explains why the Direct Market is so suckarific in this essay.
Sunday, December 07, 2003
AK Stalking -- The former Title Bout writer holds forth with some excellent comics recommendations. This has been your AK Stalking Moment of the Day.
Sunday Reading -- Not much happening on the computer internet this weekend, but worth noting is Johnny Bacardi's comics reviews. I agree with him 100% on Promethea; the narrative of this series over the course of its existence has been perhaps the wildest, most mind-expanding vision ever created for comics (certainly for corporate comics).
Saturday, December 06, 2003
Not a Gag -- Sorry, Laura, I wasn't kidding about Seth's Coober Skeber cover being the best superhero cover of the past decade.
Seth's subtle, post-iconic treatment captures the lost innocence of the Silver Age with grace and an appealing sentimentality, being far kinder to the characters and their fans than anyone who has been officially charged with maintaining the franchise in the past 15 years or so.
For another example of the same thing, there's more entertainment quality and sense of wonder in this Seth JSA drawing than in every issue of the current DC series combined. (This one comes from the sublime and beautiful Vernacular Drawings book published by Drawn and Quarterly.)
Friday, December 05, 2003
Jeffrey Brown -- The graphic novels of one of the best autobiographical cartoonists of 2003 are discussed in this article by Zack Smith at Ninth Art.
Jeff Mason's Evangelism -- My thanks to Jeff Mason for spreading the word about the ADD Blog. Nice to be noticed, especially in a week when Jeff is dealing with some problems. I hope the error is made right quickly enough for people to pick up Peanutbutter and Jeremy's Best Book Ever in time for the holidays, because it's certainly one of the best gifts for readers of all ages this year.
Thursday, December 04, 2003
Mortal Souls Movie News -- Big congratulations to writer Steven Grant on the latest Mortal Souls movie news. Mortal Souls was a fun read and would make a terrific movie, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Which makes it harder to type than you might think, but, anyway...
First Reload, then Revolution -- Looks like Marvel is getting the forumla backwards with its planned X-Men Reload "event." I'm sure it'll be as successful as the last one.
Anyone who's been around comics more than a couple of years will, of course, recognize the emptiness of this latest announcement.
On the face of it, the idea of Chris Claremont and Alan Davis teaming up for a(nother) new take on the X-Franchise might be intriguing -- until you remember that Claremont's been writing X-Men comics for a few years now, and no one's exactly been shouting from the rooftops how great X-Treme X-Men is.
Davis is, of course, a terrific craftsman, but whether it's his Avengers or Killraven or just about anything he's done in the past decade, there's an overriding sense that he's way too good for the material, but not ambitious enough to make a true leap to comics for adults.
Given those parameters, I'm far from excited about this news, although I do think it's worth noting for its Emporer's New Clothes nature, and to say that I wish Alan Davis would be teamed with a writer worthy of his talents, like Ed Brubaker, say. Someone who can provide quality writing to take a little of the sting out of the franchise maintenance that Davis seems satisfied to perform.
Thursday Reading -- Chris Allen has updated Breakdowns, and it's a good one, with reviews of Persepolis and Ripple and some insights into his own reviewing process. Oh, and, AK kinda/sorta looks at The Year in Review. This has been your AK Stalking Moment of the Day.
Cover Blind -- Whether it's last month's fangasms over George Perez's truly grotesque JLA/Avengers #3 cover, or the ridiculous "Best Covers of the Year" feature in the most recent Wizard, it's apparent to me that most comics readers don't have a goddamned clue when it comes to what makes a good comic book cover. Here is the best superhero cover of the last decade.
Wednesday, December 03, 2003
Advance Warning -- If you enjoyed my comics reviews at Comic Book Galaxy, you might want to be aware that the archive will be coming down permanently in the next few days. If you'd like to take one last look, go here.
Tuesday, December 02, 2003
I Admit It -- I suppose I am stalking AK, as Dirk points out in the 12th item down in today's iJournalista!. Looking for good posts from the former Title Bout writer is really the only reason I ever go to the Pop Culture Bored anymore.
Understanding Black Lightning -- Tony Isabella is the subject of a lengthy, informative interview at Silver Bullet Comics that should serve to dispel some incorrect assumptions many have made about the issues surrounding DC's ongoing mistreatment of the character. Check it out.
Por Vous -- AK points the way to some interesting artwork. I particularly like the watercolour pieces, about halfway down?
The Week in Comics -- Previews Reviews has updated their listings for this week's new releases, and it's always worth a look. The most significant book this week is Peanutbutter and Jeremy's Best Book Ever, although due to a printing snafu I don't know if it arrives for sure this week or next. Either way, it's a huge value with tons of new material and great appeal to both kids and adults. You might want to grab an extra copy or two for holiday gift-giving.
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