Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Quite Exclusive -- The Pulse is posting a DC press release to the effect that artist Frank Quitely is now exclusive to DC for the next two years.
Quitely -- not his real name, which I didn't believe when Barry Windsor-Smith first told me that back in the late 20th Century -- but anyway, the guy is definitely one of my favourite artists, having provided exquisite illustration for JLA: Earth 2 with writer Grant Morrison. That puts me in mind of the best part of this "exclusive" business, that Quitely will more than likely be teamed with quality writers like Morrison on All-Star Superman. Their creative partnership on the afore-mentioned Earth 2, as well as Flex Mentallo, We3 and the early part of Grant Morrison's New X-Men resulted in some of the best-looking and most entertaining superhero stuff of the past couple of decades, so I am hoping we see more than the five or six issues that a two-year span of "Quitely Time" unfortunately implies.
Yes, the guy seems to have trouble keeping a schedule. Ultimately, though, I would rather DC give him the time to do what he does best. The latter Quitely stuff on Grant Morrison's New X-Men "with Avalon Studios" seemed, at best, digitally inked from layouts, and at worst, very probably ghost-pencilled by others working in the Quitely style. And the thing of it is, really, only Quitely can draw in the Quitely style.
His style always seems to draw both praise and detractors, but I am firmly in agreement with Warren Ellis when he says "People dislike [Quitely's] art because he draws people as they are, not as we want them to be."
In my mind, Quitely is in a special set of artists with Bryan Hitch and Tom Raney, the trio comprising the very best artists to work on Stormwatch and The Authority, the first title morphing into the latter in the end days of the 20th century. Quitely and Hitch always seem to get partnered with good writers, while poor Tom Raney, a truly great superhero artist, has usually been saddled with dreck-peddlers on disposable crap like Mutant X and The Outsiders (where they couldn't even bother to pay an inker to make his art look right), or this week's quickly-to-be-forgotten What If issue about Magneto and the X-Men.
So I'm hopeful the Quitely exclusive will result in some nice-looking, well-written books, and a bit fearful of what might be done to get more than a handful of issues out with Quitely's name on them in that two-year period. Here's to hoping that instead of digital tricks and ghost artists, Quitely has somehow disciplined himself to draw more than three or four issues a year. Because when he's doing his best -- check out his first few Authority issues with Mark Millar, for example -- no one can draw superhero books better.
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Finding Soda -- I should mention my buddy Brian's Sodafinder website.
Brian literally drives around the country looking for odd and hard-to-find sodas, then offers them up online at rock-bottom prices. I visited his apartment the other day, and was astounded at the variety of stuff he has in his (yes, it's really called the) Soda Room.
If you like the soda pop or are looking for a fun gift for a friend or loved one, click over to his site and see what he has to offer. Tell him I sent ya.
Best of 2004 Redux -- Ian Brill delivers a terrific year-end wrap-up that is worth your attention.
Essential 2004 -- Former Galaxy contributor Marc Mason has a fantastic column today at Movie Poop Shoot on what he considers essential reading of the past year. It's a bit of a different spin from the usual "Best of the Year" approach, and his choices are unimpeachable. Take a look.
Included on Marc's list of essential reading is Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca's Street Angel, which is just about my favourite comic in the world right now. And if you head over to their website, they've posted a preview of Street Angel #5 that makes it look very much like the best issue yet. One of the great things about Street Angel is that you can jump in with any issue and understand what's going on and enjoy the hell out of it. So please tell your retailer right now that you want to order #5, whether you've read any previous issues or not. You're in for a treat.
Also noteworthy today is former Poop Shoot contributor AK's look at John Byrne's Next Men. Which got me once again rambling on about my Unified Theory of Byrne.
Monday, December 27, 2004
Pittsburgh Cartoonist Cabal -- Tom Spurgeon pointed today to a great profile of Pittsburgh-area cartoonists, including Street Angel's Jim Rugg, Gypsy Lounge's Jasen Lex and others. Wouldn't you love to sit in on one of their weekly meetings?
Thursday, December 23, 2004
Just Wondering -- Does Gail Simone agree with John Byrne that hispanic women with blonde hair look like whores?
If not, why would she work with him? Why would anyone?
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Best of 2004 -- Click on over to Rich Watson's column at CWN for his excellent year-end wrap-up.
Jesus H. Christ -- How in hell is it that anyone takes David Fiore seriously?
Super-Anticipation -- I'm jazzed as hell for Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's All-Star Superman after reading Matt Brady's excellent interview with Morrison, up now at Newsarama. First of all, Morrison gets to the precise heart of the current problem with floppies:
One gets DC to the masses by putting these books in manga format and making them available in every cinema, record store and bookshop. That's not my job, however. All I can do is make the stories as good as I can. All Frank can do is draw as well as he can. If we still can't sell well-written, well-drawn books at a time when everybody in the world is watching superhero movies and eating superhero cereals, it's because the pricing, format, promotion and availability of comic books is preventing us from cracking the glass ceiling.
Then, Morrison goes on to describe his approach to the character in a way that makes it exquisitely clear that he's the man for this job. In the past ten years, the only Superman comics I've enjoyed are Secret Identity, Birthright and Mark Millar's Superman Adventures. This new interview at Newsarama makes it clear that Morrison gets the character the same way Busiek, Waid and Millar do, and will probably go even further than they did in showing that any character can be magic, in the hands of the right creator with the right ideas.
I've known that for decades. No character was more obsolete or useless than Swamp Thing until Alan Moore got his big, hairy paws on him. It sounds like Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's All-Star Superman could do for Big Blue what Moore and Co. did for Swampy all those years ago. I, for one, can't wait to see it.
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
The Good Sun -- Last year at this time, writer Tom Nattell had a wonderful essay on the Winter Solstice published in Albany, New York's Metroland. Today we welcome the beginning of another year's journey around the sun at 7:42 AM (Eastern Time), and I wanted to share this essay with you.
The winter solstice always leaves me with mixed feelings. While it is great that the amount of daylight is increasing, the earth in these parts is still cooling down, providing prime conditions for months of additional snow, ice and cold. It is the hump date to cross for more light during the day, but it doesn’t mean a concomitant rise in temperatures is in the forecast. In fact, our ground in these parts is still in the process of losing heat and freezing hard. While the amount of light is increasing, my exposure to it generally is not, as I spend more time indoors, feeding the wood stove and trying to stay warm. While I look forward to the increasing light of day, I do not look forward to the months of cold weather that remain.
Read the full essay in the link above, and may this year's Winter Solstice mark the beginning of a new year for you filled with peace, prosperity and happiness.
Monday, December 20, 2004
Prism Comics Fundraiser -- I wish I could do a lot more at the moment than merely link to Prism's donation page, but I do ask that you click over and give, if you can. Thanks.
Still Raging -- It was one year ago this week, more or less, that I guest-wrote All The Rage at Silver Bullet Comic Books. ATR is a rumour column about the comics industry, and I thought it would be interesting to comb through the dirt I dug up and see how well I scored.
Rumour #1: "Joss Whedon is the guy set to write New X-Men." This one was apparently correct, except Marvel decided instead of continuing the numbering to do a new #1 and create a new title for Whedon, although obviously Astonishing is the only true follow-up to Grant Morrison's New X-Men, so, I mostly got that one right. I had originally thought David Hine's District X would be another worthy successor to Morrison's sublime reinvention of the X mythos, but I bailed on that title after the first 6-issue storyline fizzled out rather than sustaining the spark seen in the first couple of issues.
Rumour #2: "John Cassaday will draw Whedon's X-Men." He shoots, he scores.
Rumour #3: "James Kochalka, Dan Clowes, and Jeffrey Brown are working on superhero projects." 100 percent accurate, as in, Super F*ckers, The Death-Ray and Bighead.
Rumour #4: "Formerly Known as the Justice League's Giffen, DeMatteis and Maguire are planning a series for Marvel as well." If they are, I must have missed it. WRONG. Damn it.
Rumour #5: "DC really wants to publish an Ed Brubaker and Trevor Hairsine incarnation of The Authority." Well, split that one down the middle, we got the Brubaker, anyway.
Rumour #6: "Frank Miller's Batman vs. The Terrorists to be a black and white 200-page hardcover." Could still happen, although presumably DC will want to wait until everyone who remembers how badly botched DK2 turned out is dead first.
Rumour #7: "Mark Millar and John Romita JR are working together on...something." That something turned out to be a cranky Canadian superhero with really sharp claws. Which is funny, because at the time of the column, I thought it was gonna be Blade, because -- because -- well, that would be telling.
Rumour #8: "Mark Millar quote brought down Abercrombie & Fitch Quarterly." It may have contributed, but no, as Alan Shore pointed out in last night's divine episode of Boston Legal, it's more the fact that believing in God is now the law in the U.S. that brought down the softcore catalog.
Rumour #9: "Ultimate Clone Saga in the works." This actually happened, and even included Ben Reilly, as I said it would. This was the story that resulted in the creation of Ultimate Carnage and killed off poor teen hottie Ultimate Gwen Stacy.
Rumour #10: "Manga will continue to grow and expand into new and previously unexpected readerships." Well, duh.
Rumour #11: "Image will continue, but will cut back on unwanted and unneeded #1s in favour of more certain hits, stuff with a built-in audience, like just about everything by Robert Kirkman." I'd fall on the side of saying I got this wrong, as Kirkman was pretty much poached by Marvel instead of creating new titles for Image (and more's the pity), and Image did indeed continue to experiment with new titles during 2004, including one of my favourite new superhero books, Ultra.
Rumour #12: "CrossGen titles will make a massive influx into the quarter bins of comics shops around the country in 2004." Well, yeah. The retailers who heavily bought into CrossGen and invested in their once-huge backlist of trade paperbacks really got screwed, from what I can see. Do you want a copy of Meridian Vol. 3 at full cover price? At all?
Rumour #13: "Everything Dan Buckley and Paul Levitz think up will be utter shit." From Identity Crisis to Identity Disc, from New Avengers to, erm, Identity Crisis (also known as Meltzer's Misogynist Assrape Funnies hereabouts), this one was obviously so right it hurts. It's also the only one I am willing to extend to the entirety of calendar year 2005. Happy new year, everybody.
Sunday, December 19, 2004
Heart to Hart Chat -- Check out this interview with cartoonist Tom Hart, conducted by Tom Spurgeon. Excellent discussion of webcomics in particular and comics in general. Good stuff.
Friday, December 17, 2004
Fives for Friday -- Tom Spurgeon's been doing a Five for Friday thing over at The Comics Reporter, so in that spirit, here are some lists of five.
Five Great Autobiographical Creators
- Harvey Pekar
- James Kochalka
- Jason Marcy
- Chester Brown
- Eddie Campbell
Five Great Superhero Titles
- Street Angel
- The Ultimates
- DC: The New Frontier
Five Great Non-Superhero Titles
- Forlorn Funnies
- The Walking Dead
- Love and Rockets
Five Comics My Kids Like
- The Simpsons
- Teen Titans Go
- The Complete Peanuts
Five Titles I Wish Came Out More Often
- Optic Nerve
- Black Hole
- Raisin Pie
Five Graphic Novels for a Desert Island
- From Hell
- American Elf: The Collected Sketchbook Diaries of James Kochalka
- Louis Riel
- Ghost World
Five Great Alan Moore Titles
- Swamp Thing
- Top Ten
- Voice of the Fire
Five Bad Comics That Sell Anyway
- Azzarello and Lee's Superman
- Identity Crisis
- Avengers Disassessembled
- Secret War
- Uncanny X-Men
Five Comics My Wife Likes
- True Story, Swear to God
- Jay's Days
- American Elf
- Small Favors
- Damn, There's Only Four*
* She originally liked NYX until the revelation at the end of #1 that the lead character had superpowers. Jesus, was she pissed. Considering how the book's schedule went to shit in the end, it's probably just as well.
Thursday, December 16, 2004
Trust Your Local Butcher -- In this case, Christopher Butcher, who knows what the fuck he's talking about when it comes to comics. He should, he only works at one of the most progressive and successful comics shops in the frigging universe.
Or so I'm told by enlightened friends. Personally, The Beguiling is a seven-hour-plus drive one way for me, so I've never yet made the journey. But I'll tell you, for an adult who loves truly great comics and appreciates good retailing, it calls to me like Mecca. One day...
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Editorboy Rampage! -- You know, "Leaking a news story is like farting," I told a friend of mine today. "Usually you know what's going to happen, but every once in a while, you need to change your shorts."
Earlier this week, a comics internet acquaintance of mine privately e-mailed me and some other people a link to a PDF file of an upcoming comic called Elk's Run. I've never heard of any of the book's creators, but scrolling through the PDF I liked the art and told my acquaintance that I would be interested in seeing the printed book when it's available. I don't generally like reviewing comics from PDF, because the experience just isn't the same as reading the actual finished product.
Earlier today I received an e-mail from a "Joshua Hale Fialkov" asking me and numerous other comics journalist types not to talk about the book. Apparently he is the editor of the comic in question. He said "[I]t is of the utmost importance that we control the dispersion of information on the book, we have already made arrangements for an exclusive announcement of the book to CBR, so I can't have anyone else discussing the book online until that interview comes out in the next
month or so."
One of the comics journalists who received the PDF and Fialkov's unreasonable request e-mailed all of us to say that he didn't want to hear any more about the book until he could discuss it publicly, and noted that the request that we all submit to Fialkov's agreement with CBR as "weird." I agree.
Fialkov insisted in a mass e-mail that "I'm sure any
of the people on this list whom we've dealt with before, will vouch
for my company's unwavering professionality [sic] in all matters." Personally, I find his childish hissy fit at a leak that, I'm told, he instigated, both unprofessional and more than a little silly. An instant messenger chat transcript that I received showed Fialkov saying that the PDF file was sent to "people who won't neccessarily [sic] say waht [sic] i want them to say when i want them to say it."
You know, a secret is only a secret if you don't share it. If you don't want the story, or the comic, leaked, then don't put it up on the internet and leak it. Because at that point, you have lost all control over your comic, your story, and the journalists you sought to control.
Friday, December 03, 2004
Mini-Comics Blowout -- Tom Spurgeon's recent piece in The Comics Journal #264 convinced me to drop some coin over at USS Catastrophe...here's a list of the mini-comics I ordered this morning:
Item Name: King-Cat #63
Item Number: kc63
Total: $2.50 USD
Item Name: Tales To Demolish #2
Item Number: ttd2s
Total: $3.00 USD
Item Name: Tales To Demolish #1
Item Number: ttd1s
Total: $3.00 USD
Item Name: Jumbo Jape
Item Number: jumbojape
Total: $3.00 USD
Item Name: Tin Can of Stew
Item Number: tincan
Total: $1.00 USD
Item Name: Abandon Ship
Item Number: abandon
Total: $1.00 USD
Item Name: Funkapotamus #10
Item Number: funk10
Total: $2.00 USD
Item Name: Sermons 1
Item Number: sermons1
Total: $2.00 USD
Item Name: King-Cat 58
Item Number: kc58
Total: $2.00 USD
Item Name: King-Cat #60
Item Number: kc60
Total: $2.00 USD
Item Name: King-Cat #62
Item Number: kc62
Total: $2.00 USD
Item Name: Green Alley #1
Item Number: greenalley1
Total: $1.00 USD
Item Name: Sap #1
Item Number: Sap1
Total: $2.00 USD
Item Name: Sap #5
Item Number: Sap5
Total: $2.00 USD
There's probably not much rhyme or reason to what I picked, other than going down the entire catalog and ordering pretty much everything that appealed based on the sample pages featured. Can't wait to get 'em and dig in.
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