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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

 
Critiquing Comics Critics -- Tim O'Neil touches on some extremely interesting points right here. His most cogent paragraph:

The most important aspect of modern comics criticism which remains woefully underdeveloped is the acknowledgement and understanding of art-as-story. Comics are neither literature or art, and although the critical language of both disciplines can and has been appropriated by comics critics, ultimately these languages are woefully insufficient to engage the texts on the intimate critical level they deserve. I will not say that we need to develop a ďnewĒ critical language, because that would a silly and self-defeating act, and Iíve no desire to hamstring this conversation by going down the traditional critical cul-de-sac of unspecified semantics. No, it is enough merely to state that a new critical language will naturally follow if enough critics begin to engage the medium with sufficient rigor and enthusiasm.


Don't mistake this for posing or pretension; this, rather, is one of the few qualified online critical minds getting very close to the heart of the problem in recognizing good critical writing that actually moves comics forward.

Monday, August 30, 2004

 
Friggin' Blogger -- I wrote a long-ass post this morning that went into charming detail about my weekend, my wife's birthday (hi, honey!) and my feelings about the George Clooney version of Solaris...all of which was eaten by Blogger. Crap.

Anyway, I wrote a review of We3 and added some stuff to the sale page...stop by the main page and check out the Most Recent Updates section, and look for our 4th Anniversary observance coming Wednesday, September 1st!

And, oh yeah, Solaris is supercool. I have no idea why that wasn't a huge freaking hit.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

 
That Voice Again -- One of the most entertaining and visually delightful artists in corporate comics is Mike Wieringo. I recently interviewed him for The Five Questions, and the reason I chose him was that A) I've loved his work for years and B) He is one of the nicest and most honest guys in comics.

He's recently focused his honesty on himself and his career, in a moving analysis of how creatively fulfilled he is in comics after many years illustrating other people's dreams.

It's sobering reading, and I'm sure his thoughts are echoed in the heads of many of the gifted people who create the comics you enjoy. But Mike is actually brave enough to say it in public. The support he gets in his comments section is heartening, but even moreso is the implication in his post that he wants to make the big move into telling his own stories.

Comics has this vast potential to reach its audience by relating resonant human experience in a way that is intimate, personal and devastatingly direct; sorry to say this, fanboys, but the chances of any story accomplishing that with Doctor Doom in it are pretty slim -- and they become even more infinitesimal when you dilute the story's creative power with multiple, necessarily varying creative visions.

Mike, find a way to do what you need to do. As a wise man once said, in every revolution, there's one man with a vision. If you have to create the story one stolen moment at a time, do so -- and you'll leave behind something of substance that will cement your artistic legacy in ways playing in Stan and Jack's sandbox never really will.


(Thanks to AK)

 
JB's Sleeper Analysis -- Pretty apt analysis at the Johnny Bacardi Show of why Sleeper isn't the huge hit that it, as the very best monthly comic being published today, deserves to be:

Sleeper is simply too smart for the room, and we all know that nobody wants to hang with the kid that's obviously smarter than his other classmates. Sleeper is an utter failure as a superhero book because Brubaker doesn't want to write this like one and Sean Phillips doesn't want to draw it like one. All the Powers trappings are merely window dressing for the character study and espionage thriller that is at its heart- like a kaleidoscope, everything keeps shifting and changing, with Holden Carver at its center, and each shift becomes as interesting as the last. Carver obviously doesn't know who to trust or which way to turn, so he trusts no one and is determined to remain true to himself, as much as possible anyway, and the hell of it is that neither he nor the reader can escape the realization that more than likely there is no happy ending in store for him...

That last part is key. Holden is among the most vividly imagined characters ever to be created for a corporate comics company, but because he demonstrates genuine, complex human emotions, much of the audience is too confused or overwhelmed to understand either him or his plight.

Well, the buzz seems to be that "Season Two" of Sleeper is not a big hit. That's no surprise, given that the very best corporate comics often are not sales successes -- but it is depressing to think that such a passionate, quality comic book might not be around much longer. I'm delighted to hear Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips plan to work on additional projects together even if Sleeper is discontinued, as theirs is one of the most vital and exciting creative partnerships in corporate comics since Stan and Jack, Roy and Barry, or Frank and Klaus. It's just a shame that not enough readers have looked at Sleeper and realized what a gift it is. I'm grateful for what we've gotten, and for whatever there is to come in the future from Brubaker and Phillips.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

 
TCJ's Accidental Mission Statement -- You couldn't ask for a better explanation of what Dirk Deppey is up to with The Comics Journal now and in the months to come than the one you'll find right here. Some timely bitching about an Erik Larsen interview from four or five years and two or three editors ago (the issue that also featured a James Kochalka flip-cover and interview, for Pete's sake) leads to a back and forth between Dirk and Tom Spurgeon on the goals and direction of The Universe's Best Comics Magazine.

Friday, August 27, 2004

 
New Stuff at the SALE! -- If you haven't visited the fundraising sale page in the last day or so, I've added a slew of sets and graphic novels (some signed!), and lowered the price of some other items. So have a look, and thanks for your support!

Thursday, August 26, 2004

 
Order BLUESMAN Today! -- I see in the new Previews that Rob Vollmar and Pablo Callejo's BLUESMAN is finally being solicited to ship to stores in November from Absence of Ink. This is going to be one of the best comics series of the year, and since it won't be wrapped up (it's three issues) until 2005, it might very well be one of the best two years running!

Seriously, I have seen a great deal of the art from BLUESMAN and read most of the script, and it is a moving, human story of life and death told with wit and insight. Tell your retailer to turn to page 198 of the September Previews and order BLUESMAN for you today. You can also read more about it in my Five Questions for Rob Vollmar over at Newsarama.

If you're a blogger or columnist, please help get the word out about this terrific work from the creators of THE CASTAWAYS and let's make BLUESMAN the huge success it is meant to be.

 
Sale Additions -- The Galaxy's sale page has been updated with a pair of signed Alan Moore books and a few late additions from yesterday afternoon as well. Click over and have a look! Also, the Galaxy's Nick Capetillo has a pair of eBay auctions going on to support the site...

P. Craig Russell's Isolation and Illusion

and

Shade the Changing Man: American Freak TPB.

Click on over and give 'em a look!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

 
Get Great Reading at Low, Low Prices!






Tuesday, August 24, 2004

 

A Dash of Shaw -- If you like comics like I do (and by now I suspect you have a pretty good idea of whether that's the case or not), you'll be excited to know that Dash Shaw has a new graphic novel coming out.

His previous work Gardenhead thrilled me with its combination of graphic experimentation and unusual storytelling. Shaw's next project is a 128-page graphic novel debuting at spx 2004 in October. It's titled "love eats brains!" but Shaw says it's a totally new story than the original series he put out with the same name. I guess he must be attached to that title.

Here's what we know so far about the new book:


Dash Shaw's epic zombie romance chronicles a photographer torn between his pregnant wife and the memory of a dead, teenage librarian. One night all hell breaks loose. Dash's art varies as the story weaves in and out of memories, horror and romance.

This beautiful, oversized graphic novel will break your heart and brain. Honest.

LOVE EATS BRAINS! "Melds gore with philosophy with heartbreak and blends it all into a wicked stew of collage, thumbprints, and angst-filled pen strokes"
-PUNCHLINE magazine

"potential funnybook breakout stardom"- The Comics Journal

"Dash's work is full of passion and enthusiasm for the art form" -David Mack (Kabuki, Daredevil)

128 pages. 8.5 X 11" MATURE READERS; published by oddgod press


There are sample pages and more information available at dashshaw.com. Check it out and let your retailer know you want Love Eats Brains!

Monday, August 23, 2004

 
Today at Comic Book Galaxy -- Check out Lifespan: Comics Week Six by Joe Rybandt, and my reviews of Sam Kieth's Ojo #1 and the JLA/Avengers Collector's Edition HC.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

 
Chris Allen Clarifications -- From the man himself...

Aside from the fact my time is limited, thereís another reason I donít do much blogging or posting on message boards, and thatís because Iím often too sharp-tongued and short-tempered. My phaser is stuck on ďkillĒ, and so, while I hardly ever get into a virtual screaming match with anyone, I do tend to write some things I come to regret.

This happened with my last entry, the one pertaining to Scott Tiptonís latest Comics 101, where I disagreed with some of Scottís comments about whether it was appropriate for IDENTITY CRISIS writer Brad Meltzer to show well-liked DC supporting character Sue Dibny (wife of the Elongated Man) raped and murdered. Well, you can get my opinion in the blog entry, but the problem is that I shouldnít have used Scott as a convenient target for my own simmering feelings about a lot of fanboys who think all superhero comics should be safe and predictable and bad things should only happen to characters no one cares about.

Had I read all of Scottís article first, rather than just reacting to the excerpts I saw, Iíd see Scott was much more balanced about it and took care to examine both sides of the issue. Not to mention that it was a fine mini-history of the Dibnyís before that. So, I really must apologize to Scott, especially for cracks like the one I made about the Death of Robin, which I learned Scott also objected to, at least the tastelessness in which it came about (the 800 number reader voting). Also, while mentioning that he works for a toy company is true, and a relatively effective way to establish that heís a little more nostalgic than average, it strikes me now as sounding like a putdown, which wasnít intended. My ire shouldnít have been directed at Scott (I did say some nice things, too!), and again, Iím sorry about that.

One really disturbing thing I found out after this entry is that some people have construed that blog entry and other comments Iíve made since leaving Movie Poop Shoot (I have no idea what these are alleged to be) as somehow being evidence that I have any sort of bad feelings about my former site. Iíll take the heat for the Tipton thing -- I was wrong there -- but I really hate people making up total bullshit to stir up trouble. MPS was always good to me, and continues to be an excellent site, probably a little better overall since I left, actually. I donít check it out every day, but then, I donít check out much of anything every day. Iím busy with a lot of other things, thatís all. Long live Movie Poop Shoot. So as far as Iím concerned my time there is an open book, but not a very exciting one. I wrote a ton of columns there, had fun and had great technical and editorial support, shared space with a lot of talented people, and could no longer sustain my column the way it was, so I left. Out of respect for the column and the site, I retired it, replaced by the usually-much-much-shorter CA Comments. Anyway, thatís enough outta me. Look for more reviews, and even less commentary on what other people are doing.

Chris Allen


 
Photos from the JKS Booksigning Party! -- And here they are!

 
Sketch Blogging -- Drew this yesterday with a Sharpie marker, coloured in Photoshop...click the tease to get the full image:



I haven't tried drawing with a Sharpie in years, but picked some up after noticing that was what James Kochalka was sketching with in Burlington Tuesday night. I had given up on Sharpies because the ink turns purple over time, ruining the original art; they also tend to soak into cheap paper, blotting the inkline. This was drawn on a laser paper stock that held the line quite well, and it occurs to me that if you're scanning the image in right away, the fading of the Sharpie line over time doesn't matter if the final image will be digitized anyway.

I had enough fun with this to start drawing more often...if I have any major victories, I'll post 'em here.


 
Recommended Reading -- Just got done updating and overhauling the recommended reading page here at Comic Book Galaxy. If you want to suggest a website, comic or graphic novel for addition to the list, please email me your ideas, and let me know if you find the page useful in your search for quality reading.

Friday, August 20, 2004

 
Early Word on We3 -- I received this e-mail from a friend who shall remain anonymous, because I didn't ask before posting his opinions...but I thought they were worth reading. It's his reaction to reading a First Look copy of DC/Vertigo's new We3 by the always-stellar team of Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly.

Hello Alan, I am writing you to offer my opinion of We3 by Grant Morrison.


At first, I felt the book was a bit boring, as it seems to be mainly pictorial for the first half. But once the dialogue began, and the main characters were introduced, the book gained momentum quickly. By its end, I was eagerly anticipating the next issue. So, it was a good experience overall, and I think the book will appeal to the likes of us, but may seem confusing to others, for it is essentially an indie book, with only mainstream appeal in as much as it's being made by top mainstream creators.

Seaguy didn't seem to go over well with many, and I think this book may perplex people just the same. Most will buy it for the merits of the creative team, but then dismiss the book as an oddity they feel they can trust because of who made it. I don't think this book would succeed at all without Grant Morrisson and Frank Quitely working on it.

Morrison set out to write this book in order to create a western manga. Largely, I feel he has already accomplished this goal with just the first issue, especially by having several pages with sparse amounts of dialogue -- a staple of manga style comics. The only difficulty I see with this approach is resolving the rather expanded format of Japanese comics with the space limitations of doing a three book western-length mini. The plot, too, is very manga like, but with western overtones. You'll see what I mean when you encounter the scenes in the laboratory and so forth. Last, but not least, is the presence of weird robots. What's more manga than that?

Anyway, check it out, and I hope to see what your review is like online.


I'm definitely picking up We3 next Wednesday, and after Seaguy, I am eager to see what Morrison (and Quitely) have up their sleeves.

 
Best of the Year 2000-2003 -- Up now in the commentary section are my first four year-end "Best Of" columns, the first three (2000-2002) written for Comic Book Galaxy, 2003 written back when I was running the ADD Blog. You can view them individually here: 2003, 2002, 2001 and 2000.

 
A Dark Day Descends -- The departure of Sean Collins from the Comics Blogosphere means it's lost its sharpest and most unique voice, and one of its very best critics.

I am comforted by the knowledge that his writing will be available elsewhere, very soon, and that he'll even be getting properly rewarded for it now, but I sure am going to miss his unpredictable and utterly unique voice.

For a sample of that voice, re-visit Sean's Eightball #23 review right here at Comic Book Galaxy. There are people who think there are no comics critics on the internet. With Sean's blog coming to an end, they're unfortunately that much closer to correct now. Good luck, Sean, and please do keep in touch.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

 
Kochalka, Great Artists and Reviews -- Those three elements do intersect, in my mind, but they're also the topic of my three latest postings to Comic Book Galaxy:


Also, scroll down one entry right here on this very page for Chris Allen's response to Scott Tipton's take on DC's Identity Crisis.

Finally, we're still looking for help with the financial crunch we're currently experiencing. Go to the main page and scroll down to see how you can help if you enjoy Comic Book Galaxy, and watch this space for a fundraising auction we're putting together. You're gonna have a chance to get some great reads and rare items and show your support for Comic Book Galaxy at the same time. I should have news on that within the next few days.

 
Chris Allen on Identity Crisis -- Chris Allen asked me to post this to the blog...

Courtesy of John Jakala's blog, I see Scott Tipton has unsurprisingly weighed in on Identity Crisis in his normally uncontroversial but entertaining Comics 101 column. I say "unsurprisingly" because I know Scott and how nostalgic he is -- he works for a toy company. Here's what he says:

"The biggest problem I have with the story is that, dramatically, it's still something of a cheat. The reason the murder of Sue Dibny is so shocking is because of the emotional investment that longtime readers like myself have in the character, thanks to the fine work of others, and to first cash in on that for shock value by brutally murdering her, and then to taint the older appearances by inserting this horribly degrading assault years into her backstory, making it hard to re-read those appearances without recontextualizing them through the prism of this brutalization, seems to me at best a cheap and lazy manner in which to generate an emotional response in the reader, and at worst an outright slap in the face to all of those writers and artists who came before you. Without cashing in on the readers' investment in Sue Dibny, it's hard to say that the story would have any impact at all. As the late great Mark Gruenwald said, 'Every character is somebody's favorite.' You shouldn't kill them off lightly, or worse, ruin their old appearances in retrospect."

There's a lot that's wrong with this, much as I like Scott. The very fact that a few (DeMatteis/Giffen and...?) have made Sue Dibny likeable instead of the dishrag cipher most superhero gal pals are is the VERY REASON TO use her in such a dramatic, tragic way. I'm sure some fans complained when Frank Miller made ditzy arm candy Karen Page into a junkie whore in DAREDEVIL: BORN AGAIN, and those who recognized the quality of the story quite rightly ignored these people. Drama doesn't have to apologize to you. There's little shocking or interesting or dramatic about the rape and murder of a character you've never even cared about. I mean, who would be acceptable as a replacement for Sue? Fire? Ice Maiden? Amanda Waller? They're someone's favorites, too, I'm sure, and when should that ever enter into a creative decision? Every superhero writer working today builds upon what others have done with the same characters. I don't see any indication that Sue was killed off "lightly"; certainly the whole sequence leading up to the murder was about reminding readers why Ralph and Sue had such a great relationship. The real "cheat" here is in calling Rader's creative decision one that was made "lightly", when any writer knows you have to "kill your darlings" and not let your own affection for a character get in the way of telling a gripping story. As far as ruining old appearances for a reader, that just seems like a hangup Scott and other readers need to work out. I don't honestly care that much that Chris Claremont and other X-writers seem to be erasing everything Grant Morrison did with the X-Men, because I still have these great hardcovers to read and can ignore the stuff I don't like. That someone would now go read some 70s DETECTIVE COMICS Elongated Man story and now think, "but...but Sue shouldn't be smiling here--She was ruh-ruh-raped!" is just bizarre and sad to contemplate.

"Still, even though I disagree with the decision, I have to admit that the story is gripping and well-told, and at least DC isn't reveling in the murder and torture of its characters the way Marvel is nowadays, with the gleeful stripmining of the proud, four-decade-spanning Avengers heritage (complete with a ghoulish 'check-'em-off-as-they-die' chart at the Marvel Web site - no thanks, Marvel, I don't need to pay that close attention as you disembowel my childhood), all so they can replace the team with a slapped-together mishmash of top-selling Marvel characters that have little to do with the Avengers concept. Feh."

Yeah, like DC didn't ever do anything so ghoulish as, oh, I dunno, have readers vote on an 800-number whether Jason Todd should live or die. Good for them for taking the high road. I agree the death chart is really tasteless, though. "Slapped-together mishmash" seems unfair before we even see the results, however. It's interesting that Scott does agree that IDENTITY CRISIS is "gripping and well-told" when he doesn't like some of the events in it, which is a credit to Scott as a reader and commentator. After all, to paraphrase Alan Moore, part of being a writer is not giving readers what they WANT, but what they NEED. I'm not saying specifically that there was a "need" for Sue's rape and murder, but there was a need for a big story with actual consequences and real emotional impact, which IC delivers. -- Chris Allen


Tuesday, August 17, 2004

 
Tuesday Galaxy Update -- Some good reviews of great stuff today...Chris Allen reviews Paul Hornschemeier's Return of the Elephant and Paul Auster's City of Glass, and Chris Hunter checks in with Quick Hits reviews of Awakenings #1-2, Small Gods #1, and Bloodhound #1-2. Click over to the front page for links.

Monday, August 16, 2004

 
Monday Morning Linkblogging -- Andrew Wheeler has an interesting take on Marvel's approach to (not) building up an enduring library over at Ninth Art. I'm not sure I agree with all his conclusions, but it's definitely food for thought, and his analysis of the breakdown of X-Force/X-Statix is worth pondering.

Tim O'Neil breaks new ground in his Identity Crisis #3 review. You have to see it to believe it.

Finally, I have posted an expanded and rewritten edition of my Essential Graphic Novels article, and Nick Capetillo has kicked off The Grant Morrison Project here at Comic Book Galaxy. Stop by the main page for links, and please read up on our current call for support and consider helping out if you enjoy Comic Book Galaxy.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

 
The Sunday Briefing -- Hey, how ya doing? As I write this, it's nearly 7 o'clock in the morning, Sunday morning, and I'm working on seemingly ten different things at once.

I've finished polishing up the code for a new column that will debut here tomorrow at Comic Book Galaxy, the return of yet another Galaxy alumnus who will be focusing on one of the most exciting writers in comics with a multi-part look at the writer's entire career (or damn near to it). That'll be tomorrow. As will my next big article, which I finished writing yesterday, a revision of a piece from a couple of years ago, greatly rewritten and expanded, with new images to enhance the piece. So that's Monday.

I just now finished editing Chris Hunter's incredible trancript of my October, 2001 interview with James Kochalka, which is now available in the Galaxy's interviews section in either text or MP3 format. Editing Chris's transcript (and thanks, Chris!), I was really taken back to that time, just a month after 9/11, and I really enjoyed seeing how James and I got a good discussion going out of issues of terrorism, cartooning, and his music and comics careers. It's a fun interview, whether you read or download and listen to it. Check it out.

I am halfway through writing a new article that came out of a discussion on the Comic Book Galaxy Forum, so keep an eye out for that probably Tuesday or Wednesday.

So it's been a busy weekend of writing and editing; on the schedule today is some time with my son as my wife and daughter go school-clothes shopping. I have no idea what the day will bring us, but it's not even 7 AM yet and I feel like I've accomplished quite a lot already.

11:00 AM Update: Finished an 1100 word freelance writing assignment for publication this morning too; man, I'm feeling freaking prolific this weekend.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

 
The New Comics Journal -- That phrase is about to take on a whole new meaning, not only meaning a new issue of The Comics Journal, but a new iteration of North America's best and longest running quality comics publication. Here's what editor Dirk Deppey has to say about it:

In just two short weeks, The Comics Journal #262 hits the stands, sporting more pages, more full comics, improved paper stock, and added features! In our latest issue:


  • A special section devoted to master cartoonist Alex Toth, including a critical essay by Bob Levin (The Pirates and the Mouse), a 1980 interview with the artist never before printed in English, and 36 pages of classic crime and romance comics from Toth's days with notorious publisher Lev Gleason!


  • An interview with renowned illustrator Steve Brodner, complete with page after page of full-color art and even a gallery of his gorgeous pen-and-ink illustrations!


  • A full-size reprinting of Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder's notorious 1960s Archie parody, "Goodman Goes Playboy," with a new introduction by R. Fiore!


  • The inauguration of our new section of industry commentary and opinion, with Steven Grant on the rise of manga in America, Dirk Deppey on Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada's "NuMarvel" experiment, and Gregory Cwiklik on why movies now do superheroes better than comic books can manage!


  • News editor Michael Dean examines the comics industry's many failed attempts to organize into guilds and trade associations, Carmine Infantino's lawsuit against DC, and the strange fate of The Big Book of Wild Women!


As a teaser of the new issue, we've got plenty for you to read over at TCJ.com, as well, including previews of our Steve Brodner interview, and Mike Dean's stories on comics associations and the Wild Women fiasco. In addition, we've posted the first °Journalista! column online in its entirety, and a bonus supplement, in which Dirk Deppey reviews the first two months of comics from Marvel's "X-Men Reload" marketing campaign!

(Oh, and did we mention the Audio Archives MP3s, featuring an hour's worth of conversation between Gary Groth and gonzo cartoonist Ralph Steadman?)

The Comics Journal #262 -- on sale in two weeks at finer newsstands, bokstores and comic-book shops!


The percolating of a new era for the magazine has been evident in the past few issues, building on the excellent run of former editor Milo George. With a new look and improved production quality and presentation, this refocusing of the magazine is about the most exciting news in comics journalism since, well, Dirk Deppey originally launched °Journalista! as a weblog. The fact that °Journalista! will be a part of the magazine is even more reason to pick this issue up and give it a look, if you've not been buying The Journal.

Personally, I've been reading it since Jimmy Carter was President, and I've never been more anxious to get my hands on an issue than this one...except maybe #259, the one that had my Paul Hornschemeier appreciation in it. Yeah, all right, I was excited to get that one, what can I say?

So, yeah, haunt your comics shops and make sure you tell the owner about all the new features and add The Comics Journal to your pull list, if you haven't already. Each issue takes me about three days to read from cover to cover, making the Journal minute-for-minute the best freaking bargain in comics. End of lecture.

Friday, August 13, 2004

 
Moore and Krigstein HCs for YOU! -- I've got Alan Moore's VOICE OF THE FIRE HC and Greg Sadowski's wonderful HC biography B. KRIGSTEIN VOL. 1 for sale or trade.

Send me your trade lists or cash offers. Both new, unread hardcovers, Krigstein still in the shrinkwrap. Taking offers on either or both.

E-mail me!

Thanks.


Thursday, August 12, 2004

 
A Softer Stan Lee -- If you're the type to wait for the paperback rather than shell out the bucks for hardcovers, you will be interested to know that Tom Spurgeon and Jordan Raphael's excellent biography Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book is out now in paperback.

It's available in most bookstores or online at Amazon.com.

If you'd like to learn more about the book, drop by the official website.

I also interviewed both of the book's authors...read my Jordan Raphael interview here or download an MP3 audio file of my interview with Tom Spurgeon by clicking here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

 
The Chosen One -- Hey, Chosen #3 shipped today, the conclusion of Mark Millar and Peter Gross's intriguing take on Christian mythology. Galaxy fans (you know who you are, all three of you!) might be interested to see that I have a nice, big quote on the back cover. You can probably still pick up all three issues of this at better comics shops, so like my quote says, if you like preacher or Sandman or Vertigo-style stuff like that, give Chosen a look.

Also out today is Grant Morrison's third and final New X-Men hardcover with artists Chris Bachalo, Phil Jiminez and others. Great stuff, and I am thrilled to have that series complete in three sturdy hardcover volumes. I don't say this often, but, thanks, Marvel, for doing this one right.

 
I've Made Up My Mind -- I'm going to this:







So there. Maybe I'll see you there.


 
Get A Great Graphic Novel -- I understand from Christopher Butcher (and thanks for the love, Chris, right back atcha -- and can I please get a link in your blogroll?) that retailers have underordered the divine Scott Pilgrim Vol. 1. Read Christopher's thoughts on this, and please tell your retailer you want a copy of this book. It would be a goddamned shame for it not to get to readers, because I honestly can't imagine any comics fan thatw ouldn't have a blast reading this excellent book.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

 
Recommended Reading -- Head over to the main page and click on the latest update for my review of Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life, most definitely a recommended read and one of the best graphic novels I've read this year.

Monday, August 09, 2004

 
Hornschemeier, Hulk and More -- Click on over to the Galaxy front page to see what's up in our Monday update...including an expanded version of my Comics Journal profile of cartoonist Paul Hornschemeier, and more. And if you haven't had a look yet, the Galaxy interview archives are back and better than ever, packed with tons of interview transcripts and quite a few downloadable MP3 audio files.

Now that the interview section is back, I am really starting to feel that Comic Book Galaxy is back, and I hope you're enjoying what we're doing here. As always, I welcome your feedback.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

 
For the Fan Who Wants Everything -- I don't know if you caught last night's Justice League Unlimited episode on Cartoon Network, but it was an adaptation of Superman Annual #11 by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, "For the Man Who Has Everything." And it was spectacular.

Don't get me wrong, it's not a note-for-note adaptation -- the TV show has less than 20 minutes to work with once you slice out the commercials and opening and closing sequences. But adapter JM DeMatteis is really to be saluted for distilling down the important moments of the story and getting the gist of it just right:

(Spoilers)

1. Robin is excised from the story (probably because of Teen Titans Go, not the fact that he was Jason Todd in the original comic), but the witty dialogue in the opening arrival-at-the-Fortress is intact and still amusing.

2. The building sense of horror at what is being done to Superman within his fantasy-world is note-perfect, including the distant rumbles and the still-devastating goodbye to his fictional child.

3. Diana's "Go to HeFZZAAAPPPP" was wonderfully effective, treading the line just right for this all-ages series' nod to old bastards like me and demonstrating why this TV series, in its second season, is likely to remain so superior not only the current version of the comics that inspired it, but to 95 percent of all superhero comics being published today.

4. Although suitable for all ages, this episode's mining of emotional power is really impressive -- virtually every powerful scene from the original comic is intact, from Superman's out-of-control rage at his mindrape to the hilarious sense of relief when the flower is finally dropped on Mongul.

The episode is rerun this afternoon at 5 PM Eastern and probably next Saturday morning sometime as well. I've been hoping for a Justice League Season One DVD set for months now, but this episode needs to be issued on DVD, hopefully as quickly as Starcrossed (last season's excellent season finale) made it into stores. It's a powerful tribute to the enduring appeal of DC's big three superhero icons, a faithful adaptation of one of the most significant stories in superhero comics history, and a vivid action story with a beating human heart that demands rewatching and sharing. I want special features on the making of the episode, and I want someone to work the magick needed to get Alan Moore, DeMatteis and producer Bruce Timm to do the commentary track.

I don't ask for much, do I?

Alan David Doane, Elitist Superhero Hater and Artcomix Snob (as if you couldn't tell...)

Saturday, August 07, 2004

 
CBG Interview Archive -- It's taken me about 10 days to get this ready for public consumption -- the return of the Comic Book Galaxy interview archive. Spanning a half-decade, it's intimate chats with some of the most creative people in comics. Have a look! And if you spot any typos or coding errors, please let me know...as I say, I've been working on resurrecting this for a couple of weeks now, and something's bound to have slipped past me.

 
Chicago Comics Goodness -- This comes from once-and-future Galaxy rock star Nick Capetillo:


I just wanted to drop and line and hopefull grab a blog plug (if its not too
oft-putting) for a big comix event going on in Chicago starting today. The
Chicago Cultural Center is opening up a new exhibit entitled Raw, Boiled &
Cooked (inspired by Art Spielgelman's Raw Magazine) showcasing the finest
artists in comix. Everyone from Rick Altergott to Jim Woodring is being
represented by original artworks, sculptures, prints and more. I got a
chance to look at it it earlier today and I can you that it is a thing of
beauty; when you walk into a room and see an 8 foot tall Frank on one side
and 10 foot tall panel reproduction of Jimmy Corrigan on the other (with
Dave Cooper toys and Bill Griffith original comic strip art between them)
you know you've entered a truely holy place.

The exhibit will run until the first week of October so people have plenty
of time to check it out. By no small coincidence there's a big comic
convention going on here next weekend so I implore anyone making their way
to Chicago for the Con to hop on the "L" train (which is adjacent to O'Hare
Airport and a block from the Convention center) and make their way to
downtown Chicago (Washington stop) and get to the Cultural Center for and
experience that they'll never get at WizardWorld in a million years.

And did I mention that admission is absolutely free?

You can read more about it here.


Sounds like a blast, Nick. Thanks for sending this along.


Friday, August 06, 2004

 
Backwards Byrne -- You know, it's so easy to pick apart John Byrne's fallacies and paranoias about the comics industry that it's hardly even worth bothering with. But he has posted a real howler that points up just how inverted his little universe is, and gives us some insight into his persistent inability to create comics that the marketplace is actually interested in:


This seems to be a new addition to our culture -- and
it seems to have popped up around the same time
some people started refering to superheroes as
"wearing their underwear on the outside". (Both
have been around for a long while -- Stan refers to
superheroes as "long underwear characters" in the
first Spider-Man story in AMAZING FANTASY -- but
only recently have these references become
epidemic.)

What's odd about this is demonstrated in the
illustration of Lois Lane, above. She, Bruce Wayne,
Wonder Woman, and a flock of other characters have
black hair with blue highlights, and yet I have never
heard anyone ask why they have "blue hair". Only
Superman seems singled out for this -- usually in
the context of "Why can't people tell Clark is
Superman since they both have blue hair?"

It is, in other words, one of the many indications of
the contempt civilians have for superhero comics
and, alas, one of the many affectations some fans
have picked up to show they are "kewl". Blue
highlights on shiny black surfaces is a tradition as
old as comics themselves.


Now, I'd wager even my 8-year old could see how backward this perspective is in relation to actual reality.

Emperor Byrne expects the entire world to look at a picture of a human being with blue hair and automatically get that "It's not blue, it's black." The legitimate human reaction, to see and interpret it as blue (because, well, it is!!!) is contempt. Only Superman is "Singled out," as Byrne notes, because he is the only character in his backward little version of the industry that anyone has even heard of.

How is it the people on Byrne's board don't see through the speciousness of the vast majority of his contentions? Are they really that mesmerized by his recent oeuvre? Do ham-handed inking and eye-exhausting jagged panel designs dazzle them that much?

Move over, Johns, Byrne's gettin' in the U-Haul with you.

 
It's The New 5Q -- It's the first Friday of the month, so head over to Newsarama for my Five Questions for Mike Wieringo.

Labels:


 
The Persistent Sucking of Geoff Johns -- John Jakala really wants to know why I believe Geoff Johns shouldn't be writing comics. Now, not that Johns is the only one -- I'd love to pack up a U-Haul full of him and Tieri and Austen and probably a dozen others if I got frothed up enough about it and send them all over to Wendy's to fulfill their true destiny. In a comment thread at Jakala's blog last night, Chris Allen hit the nail square on the head, slammed the ball out of the park, and took Daddy All Around The World:


It seems odd to me that for all the defense of Johns, no one has anything good to say about his comics other than that he resuscitated Flash's Rogues Gallery, which one would assume was practically an editorial mandate, anyway. If he wrote a story that made anyone cry or jump up and cheer, I'd love to hear about it. If someone wants to argue ADD's point that his take on iconic characters is inappropriate for children (people ripping their faces in The Flash, the aforementioned "Pym job"), I'd like to hear that as well.

I'm not interested in throwing the guy out of the industry, but I think it's entirely fair to turn a critical spotlight on the guy's work to see if it measures up. If it's forgettable and harmful to beloved characters, let's point that out, and try to effect some change to get someone better in place. Comics readers are too often accepting of substandard work as long as it hits the expected story beats. The writers of Yes, Dear are probably more talented than half the writers in the comics industry, so why don't we demand better? Look how we congratulate ourselves: "I liked JSA until it became one big "arc" after another." When was that, the second arc? It's a superhero book, they all work in one arc after another.

The format isn't the problem, the content is. It's just not interesting enough. It's not about visionaries vs. hacks, it's simply about not enough creators striving to their fullest to be interesting and real and passionate, and not enough readers and critics demanding that they be so. Another minute spent on Geoff Johns is a minute not spent on Los Bros. Hernandez or Carl Barks or Ware or even a solid, no-bullshit pro like John Wagner. Better to be a Millar who can fly gloriously off the rails into abominable failure than the Disneyland kiddie car comics creators putt-putting around the track with the governor on the accelerator and the metal rail in the middle to keep them from breaking away from the pack.


This gets to the very heart of my outrage that Johns is not only employed in comics but entrusted with some of its most enduring icons, almost all of which he has mishandled and made inappropriate for the young readers they are meant to serve as entry-level titles for. When people are peeling the flesh off their faces in The Flash, that's one more comic my 8-year-old son wants that I can't buy him. If Johns wants to do sadomasochistic comics for grown-ups, I'm all for it. Let him go to Eros and have a freakin' party. But as long as The Flash is part of an animated series on Cartoon Network, watched and enjoyed by tens or hundreds of thousands of children (many more, no doubt, than the numbers of people reading Johns's version of the character), his sadistic, brutal approach to the character is totally inappropriate. I might even be inclined to cut him some slack if the stories were any goddamned good at all, but on title after title after title, Johns's soporific story-arcs have done nothing but bore me, and anyone looking for actual creative energy to be expended in the creation of these sooperhero funnybook entertainments. And I'm just frigging sick of it.

We have to have superhero comics, yes. Because a good number of people like them, and a good number of comic book shops, for whatever reason, actually make their nut on them. All I propose on this issue -- all I ever propose, if you're sharp enough to parse my apparently complex and challenging prose -- is, let's have superhero comics that don't suck.

Warren Ellis, Brian Michael Bendis, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, David Hine, Joss Whedon, Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca, Ed Brubaker, Darwyn Cooke, Mark Millar and many others regularly prove that this is possible. Compared to any one of these creators, Johns, Austen, Tieri, yes, they should all be thrown out on their ears. I have no doubt there are plenty of would-be writers just waiting for a chance to get into the field, dying for an opportunity to be sucked into the corporate comics machine and chewed up and spit out in a few years.

All I ask is give these poor bastards the chance to step in and actually be creative. All I really ask is for readers to recognize shit when they see it and to stop buying it. Support what engages your imagination, and eschew comics that just fill up five or ten minutes a month, leaving you bored and vaguely dissatisfied. Recognize that feeling that settles in when you realize what a waste of three bucks a JSA or Weapon X is, and goddamnit, spend it on something more worthwhile. It doesn't even have to be comics. Buy flowers or candy for your girlfriend or your wife or boyfriend or husband or child or whoever. Stop wasting your money reinforcing the industry's unfortunately accurate conviction that Crap Sells. Just stop it already.

 
Friday Galaxy Update -- Chris Allen has updated his Chris Allen Comments for today with reviews and commentary. Give him a look.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

 
Travel and Tourism -- Just a note of interest that the "tourists" (as my daughter thought they were called) arrested by the FBI today in a plot to buy a shoulder-launched missle, their mosque is located about 50 feet from the radio station I work at.

The Story.

This was the most insane day of my radio broadcasting career. And got a little surreal at the end of my shift when I almost couldn't go home because news vans from NYC were blocking our parking lot exit.

So, yeah. What a day.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

 
Comics for Kids -- Michael Chabon speaking truth to the powers-that-be in the direct market has the comics internet up in arms. Check out the Fanboy Rampage post on the subject and most importantly, the now-over-100 messages comment thread at the end.

And if you're interested, my kids' favourite titles include Peanutbutter and Jeremy, Lenore, The Simpsons (all titles), Futurama, Teen Titans Go!, Colonia and Electric Girl. If you have been successful in introducing kids to comics, let me know which ones -- I'll post the best stories here.

 
CA On The Basement Tapes -- Chris Allen, who hopefully will start posting here soon, sent this to me to post:
I've just read the first two installments of Joe Casey's and Matt Fraction's The Basement Tapes, and other than the not-so-great-or-emblematic title, I really, really like this column. These are both two bright writers who have at times let their words get away from them, but here, engaged in a dialogue, it's like having a man at either side of the rowboat to keep it from capsizing. Either one is there to right the other. The way the two sling words, even conversationally, is a pleasure in itself, but what really charges me up about the column is that there's really a pure, positive purpose to it all. Any of the bullshit that occasionally marred their solo columns seems to have been left at the door, and in its place there's this great dynamic of the slightly older brother Joe giving advice to Matt, and maybe feeling a little responsibility to set a good example for Matt. And yet, this is not sage advice, but rather, Joe is telling Matt, essentially, to get every dumb idea he has out there and maybe even fall on his face: "that's where the glory lies." I see Matt as working maybe a little more from his head than Joe does, so this could be very useful. It's also nice that Joe isn't a wizened old has-been, but almost undoubtedly has his best work ahead of him. I find the column not just interesting, but, as someone writing his own comics right now, it's genuinely inspiring as well.

 
ADD on The Filth -- This is from the shiny new Comic Book Galaxy Forum at Joey Manley's Talk About Comics:

It took me years and years to see what others see in Morrison's stuff, and I'll give you a hint, a big part of it is looking past the surface and seeing the story for what isn't in it. Seriously. Morrison includes a lot of details obliquely through hints and allegations, visual cues and the like.

I'd recommend you check out The Filth -- literally if you can, from the library, as to save yourself twenty bucks in case you hate it -- and really try to approach it with no preconceptions. Accept it on face value, assume that everything everyone says is true (because in a way, it is, from each individual's point of view), and see if the tapestry of this maginificent epic with a beating human heart at its center doesn't open up for you.

It didn't, for me, the first time I tried to read it in monthly form. The second time, I was blown away by the completeness and humanity of it, and the third time I read it, seriously, was the second after I finished the last page during the second read. I HAD to stay in that world -- I couldn't leave Greg behind, I had to have closure, which a third, immediate read gave me a bit of, but it's a story and a world that I want to revisit often, because it just says so much to me, at 38, about my life and the word around me. Magnificent, wondrous stuff. Please give it a try.


My actual review of the book is here, but my continued passion surprised me so much I wanted to make sure you saw these additional comments...


Tuesday, August 03, 2004

 
Conversation Feedback -- Received this last night from Kieron Gillen, in regard to the debut of The Conversation:

Good work, the pair of you. This sort of public dialogue between critics (In your case) and creators (as in Casey and Fraction over at CBR) is useful in terms of examining debate: reading a debate illuminates things in a way that a pure Op-Ed doesn't always.

Anyway, yes: More, please.

KG


Thanks, Kieron. It should probably be noted that when we were cooking up this column (which was Chris's idea -- he's a smart lad, that one), we had no idea that Matt Fraction and Joe Casey were launching The Basement Tapes at CBR. But I hope the two columns will complement each other, two ongoing dialogues on comics, one between creators, one between critics.

Anyway, I hope you're enjoying The Conversation -- we're already hard at work on the second one, and we welcome your feedback.

 
The Reviewer's Dilemma -- Johanna Draper Carlson gets to the heart of one of the biggest difficulties reviewers face in her review of Nate Powell's Tiny Giants:


"Sometimes, this isn't a very fun gig. You've put something off for so long that you feel like you really owe something spectacular, or at least the best you can do, but there are so many other comics you'd much rather be reading, and you can't even say why you just want to move on. Which is supposed to be what you're so experienced at, so you start projecting your feelings of failure onto the book, and how the heck are you supposed to enjoy reading it at that point?"


I reviewed Powell's newest, It Disappears, in yesterday's Quick Hits here at Comic Book Galaxy, so this is a timely discussion as far as I am concerned. Powell's work is impenetrable, but it's also gorgeous and intriguing. There aren't many talents that present this sort of challenge to a critic, and really, I'm glad for the ones we have. Critics need all the challenges they can get.

Monday, August 02, 2004

 
Oldies and Goodies -- One of the things that pleases me most about blogging again after a four-month hiatus is the return of my Five Questions archives, which had kind of been hanging in limbo. You may know I've been doing these interviews for Newsarama for a couple of months now (the new one should go up this Friday, I think), but I've been perusing the older ones and man, I've been lucky to talk to some extremely smart and talented people. In case you missed them the first time, or just missed them while they were gone, check out these chats with some of the biggest names in the comics industry:



Keep your eyes here or at Newsarama for the announcement of the latest 5Q, coming later this week.

And, hey, don't forget our big Monday update today here at CBG!

Sunday, August 01, 2004

 
Monday Update -- As I write this, it's Sunday, but my modem is so weird right now (repair guy coming freaking Wednesday), that I wanted to make hay while the sun was half-shining. So head to the main page and check out the big Monday update.

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