Thursday, January 27, 2005
We're Back on Tuesday -- There'll be no updates to the main site until Tuesday, although I will attempt to do some blogging if I can. In the meantime, I encourage you to enter our Ultimate Street Angel Contest, which is far and away the most popular one we've ever run here on Comic Book Galaxy. With a chance for you AND your comics shop to win signed comics AND original art, I'd hate to see you left out of the fun.
Protecting Freedom -- Added a button link over there on the right to The Committee to Protect Bloggers, a new group focused on governmental oppression of bloggers. Click over and have a look at their efforts, and if you're a blogger yourself, consider running one of their banners or buttons on your page.
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
A Thing of Beauty -- Steven Grant's latest column at Comic Book Resources is a winner from start to finish. The man understands comics, the man understands politics, the man understands the world. Go read it.
Self-Examination -- Over at The Great Curve, I've posted entirely too much about my life to date. Click at your own risk.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Addicted to Quizzes -- I'm not entirely certain I can help myself from answering every one of these I come across. It's a sickness. This one via buddy Marc Mason.
1. What is your favorite color?
Red. Always seems to be the one I go to first in Photoshop when designing anything.
2. What is your quest? (Monty Python geeks only.)
Oh, Lord. It's always to complete some run or find some elusive graphic novel. Right now I need three Mark Millar Superman Adventures issues and Richard Sala's The Chuckling Whatsit to make my life complete.
3. Name a movie you think is underrated.
Most of my favourites. Crumb, Ghost World, Donnie Darko all come to mind.
4. What book are you reading/did you just finish?
Reading Demo: The 12 Original Scripts by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan.
5. Are you just saying that to impress us?
If you're impressed by that, you need to get out more. It's a good book, but, ninja, please.
6. Name a quality you envy in a particular person.
My son's honest joy of life.
7. What is most likely to cause blinding rage in you?
Lies, stupidity, arrogance. Guess who I didn't vote for in '04?
8. It's your last meal. What'll you have? (Bonus question: Why are you on death row?)
Pizza with fresh garlic and eggplant, hmm, and mushrooms. I'm on death row because someone borrowed my hardcover American Elf collection and spilled coffee on the page with the personalized sketch by James to me.
9. What superpower would you like to have? (Flight, invisibility and super-strength are only worth half a point.) (Not that we're grading.)
10. My God! You've switched genders! Who would you like to look like?
Oh, see, that's a silly question. I call bullshit. Who wants to think of me as a girl?
11. The old dinner-party-with-anyone-in-history chestnut. Let's go there.
John Lennon, Sam Kinison, Carl Sagan, Hunter S. Thompson.
12. What's your best physical feature?
Uh, I'm not short. That seems to impress my wife, who might also mention my piercing blue eyes.
13. What really terrifies you?
14. You're shipwrecked. A helicopter pulls you out of the freezing water but your spouse, your best friend and your mother are all in the water and only one can be saved. What drink do you order later to feel better about the terrible ordeal?
Rum and coke.
15. Who will play you in the movie of your life?
Andy Richter or Brad Pitt, depending on whether I am the executive producer or not.
16. Name a song that transports you to another time. Do not attempt to be classy.
Don't Stop Believin' by Journey, and not in a good way. Christ, the '80s, you know?
17. You're jammin'! You're the best, at your peak! Check you OUT! What instrument and with what band? (classiness acceptable but in no way mandatory.)
Drums, probably with The Beatles, circa Abbey Road.
18. What current trend bothers you?
Right-wing news coverage on every single goddamned TV news channel in the fucking universe.
19. The Amish. Cool or uncool?
Cool AND uncool. They are large and contain multitudes.
20. Which New Year's resolution are you most likely to blow first?
I don't make 'em. Sorry, I am just a dick in that regard. I know myself too well to bother.
Monday, January 24, 2005
Monday Notes -- This past weekend was my Birthday Spectacular Weekend, actual birthday being tomorrow, as I begin my final year in my 30s
The best part of the weekend was the Saturday early birthday party my wife arranged -- which was as close to a surprise party as I've ever gotten; I didn't figure it out until Friday, and it wasn't until Friday night that the actual scope of the party was made clear to me.
We had friends over for dinner, and I made lasagna, which is the tastiest thing I know how to make, and seemed quite popular. Usually when I make a lasagna there's tons of leftovers that last a week, but only one measly hunk survived into Sunday morning, and my wife got to it before I did, which is probably just as well as far as my arteries are concerned. I also spent a good amount of time this past weekend on web design, putting together two comics-related sites, at least one of which yoiu'll definitely see soon, the other being an unsolicited spec overhaul for a friend...haven't heard back yet if he likes my ideas.
So, tomorrow I am going to turn 39. That seems just staggering, somehow, with apologies to those of you in the audience who have already passed that milestone. I often say that in my head I don't feel any different than I did when I was 15, but man, 39. I can't even wrap my brain around it.
The biggest part of my birthday observation is this coming weekend, when weather permitting, me and the family are driving to Oshawa to spend the weekend with Jay Marcy and his family. The trip is also slated to include a visit to The Beguiling, a comics shop I have wanted to visit for many, many years. What better way to celebrate a birthday than by spending too much money at literally the last unvisited comics shop on my mental list of great comics shops I want to visit?
Finally, lots and lots of good comics out in stores this week. Among the ones I am most looking forward to is Rob Vollmar and Pablo Callejo's BLUESMAN from Absence of Ink. This will be one of the best comics of the year, and everyone reading this is strongly urged to buy a copy. Or two, especially if you have a blues fan in your life.
Other books on my shopping list this week include CONAN #12, JLA CLASSIFIED #3,
PLANETARY #22, SLEEPER SEASON TWO #8, TEEN TITANS GO #15 (for my son), We3 #3, EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES #6, FUTURAMA/SIMPSONS CROSSOVER CRISIS PART 2 #1 (OF 2) (for both kids, they love those shows), LUBA #10 and again for the kids, SIMPSONS CLASSICS #3.
Man, it's a pretty good week for comics. Last week was, too, as I recall, which is good, because the two weeks before that were pretty arid.
Well, that's it for now. Enjoy your Monday and if you haven't yet, make sure you enter our ULTIMATE STREET ANGEL CONTEST. It seems like everybody is entering this one, and you don't want to miss out on the chance to win comics and original art for you and your comics shop, do you?
Sunday, January 23, 2005
New Shaun of the Dead interview -- Former Galaxyite Joe Lawler has posted a new interview with Simon Pegg, one of the comedy geniuses behind Shaun of the Dead, the best movie of 2004 (and soon, possibly, to have a sequel in comics). Go have a look.
Saturday, January 22, 2005
Confidential to Todd -- That's Todd at Thrillmer.com. Thanks, you made my day, with stuff I have really been wanting to see. I owe you one.
Friday, January 21, 2005
Friday Notes -- Man, the new Comics Journal is indeed dense reading -- right now I'm in the middle of the Eric Shanower interview, and I have to say that Dirk Deppey does a terrific job of delving into the life and art of the creator of Age of Bronze. Chalk up yet another top-notch interview in The Comics Journal; literally, no one does it better.
Up today on Comic Book Galaxy is Jason St. Claire's review of Wanted #6. Have a look.
Finally, I just got done adding the latest batch of entries into the pile for our Ultimate Street Angel Contest. It's amazing to me how quickly the entries are piling up -- we've run at least one big contest every year on CBG, and this one seems to have generated more interest and accumulated more entries than any in the site's history. Huge thanks to all the sites and bloggers who have helped get the word out about this terrific giveaway -- in which both YOU and YOUR COMICS SHOP can win signed sets of Street Angel, including the rare mini-comic that started it all, PLUS original art by co-creator Jim Rugg!
The contest is running through the month of February, so if you have a blog or message board or mailing list or next-door neighbour, I'd appreciate it if you'd let everybody know about the contest, to help spread the word about what is absolutely my favourite comic book right now.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
The New Comics Journal -- Go read my thoughts about The Comics Journal #265 over at The Great Curve.
Monday, January 17, 2005
CBG Wireless -- Starting today, you can read the best of Comic Book Galaxy on your wireless device: fire up your mobile web browser, go to winksite.com/cbg/wireless or go to winksite.com and enter WINKsite ID #7562.
I'm looking for feedback on this, so let me know if you like having CBG content available to you on your wireless device.
Ten to Grow On -- Head over to The Great Curve to read my inaugural posting there -- Ten to Grow On runs down ten titles everyone should be reading. And thanks to editor Alex Segura, Jr. for asking me to participate in one of the very few group comics blogs that seems to be working. Four Color Hell, we hardly knew ye...
Oh, and have you entered Comic Book Galaxy's Ultimate Street Angel Contest yet?
Sunday, January 16, 2005
Best Best of 2004 -- Well, it was inevitable that if Tom Spurgeon decided to do a Best of 2004 piece, he'd show us all up and do a wonderful job summarizing the year in comics as he saw it. His Best of 2004 went up this morning, and it is well worth your attention.
Tom's greatest strength as a writer -- and there are many -- is the way he makes the intersection of his life with reading comics so breezily personal. To read Tom's thoughts on comics is to feel that you've spent a few minutes chatting with an old friend about something you both love, and about which he just knows a whole hell of a lot about.
Among many small pleasures, I was happy to see Tom liked Waterwise in much the same way I did; more interesting, though, is his take on 2004 in superhero comics:
They read more than ever like unpacked movie pitches or series bibles designed to throw attention onto the creators rather than anything designed to exist on its own merits and make people want to read them a couple of years from now.
Now, Tom does mention that he enjoyed reading Street Angel in 2004, and if you've hung around Comic Book Galaxy much in the past year you certainly know that I think it's one of the very best series being published right now and one of my all-time favourite series. Tom seems to paint SA with the brush of "Enjoyable, but not impressive," if I am reading him right (and he'll correct me if I'm not, I am sure), but I have to say that Street Angel impresses the hell out of me, for just the reasons Tom suggests comics should be impressive. Every time I read Street Angel, my faith in the essential joy of comics is renewed, and I do indeed believe that the book is (intentionally or not) "designed to exist on its own merits and make people want to read [it] a couple of years from now." I have re-read every issue of Street Angel multiple times, and I get a laugh and a smile and a sense of fun and adventure out of the book every time I revisit it.
Hmm. I meant this to be a loving plug for Tom's excellent year-end piece, and ended up on a long digression, once again, about how much I love Street Angel. Well, head over to Tom's essay, then if you like, compare and contrast it to my own list. It's always interesting to me to see how my tastes compare to those of other critics I respect, and there's no critic I respect more than Tom Spurgeon.
(And there's no current comic I respect more than Street Angel, there, I said it. Nyah nyah!)
A Letter to Tom Nattell -- Back in December of 2004, I linked to an essay on the winter solstice by Albany-area writer Tom Nattell. In the current issue of Metroland, Nattell has revealed that he has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and has only months likely left to live.
What follows is a letter I sent to Metroland's editor, asking him to pass it on to Tom. I have never had any contact with the man until now, but I felt I had to send him this.
I read your essay this week with great dismay, and wanted to drop you a line to express my thanks for your willingness to discuss your illness so honestly.
I first really took note of your writing in Metroland last year, with your essay on the winter solstice of 2003. That piece stuck with me throughout 2004, and when the solstice came at the end of the year, I linked to the piece in my weblog and used some of your prose (crediting you, of course) for an e-card that I sent to friends to mark the occasion.
I am truly sorry to learn that you are ill, although I salute the forthright manner in which you seem to be dealing with it. It's nothing less than what I would expect, given the deep humanism that informs your writing.
I'm sure I'm not the only stranger to write you after the publication of this week's essay. Metroland has shined for me for the past few years as one of the very last remaining beacons of light in an increasingly dark world, and your writing has come to stand out for me as something that must always be paid attention to. I know I should have written before now, so I hope you'll forgive my lateness, but I could not wait another day after reading what you had to say this week.
I wish you all good luck, and please know you are in the thoughts and hearts of all who have been touched by your words. You've made our lives better by sharing of yourself, and you've truly been an inspiration to me to try to do the same. Thank you, and bless you.
I'd appreciate it if all of you reading this could remember Tom in your thoughts and prayers. His writing has really touched my life, and I hope yours, as well.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Win Free Stuff from Ferret Press -- Just received this heads-up from Dara Naraghi at Ferret Press:
We're going to give away a different set of free comics via the
blog each month in 2005. To start with, I'm offering the STRAGEHAVEN:
ARCADIA trade [ADD Note: GREAT FUCKING BOOK!!!], by Gary Spencer Millidge, which reprints the first 6 issues of his series. To enter, readers just have to e-mail us and in 50 words or less answer this question: "What was your first experience with
"independent" comics (if any), and why would you like to read Strangehaven?"
All the details are here.
A bit about Ferret Press: I'm a writer and the publisher of Ferret Press, a small
press comics company, and I'm also in PANEL, a writer/artist collective that
includes folks like Andy Bennett (Vampire: The Masquerade) and Tom Williams
(No Dead Time, Misa). On our group blog we talk about comics, the creative
process, politics, art, the web, life, and everything in between. We've been
blogging for almost 2 years now, so there's a whole archive of interesting
stuff to explore.
If you think this giveaway is worth a mention on your blog, I'd greatly
I've enjoyed a lot of Dara's comics over the past couple of years, and I certainly think everybody should be reading Strangehaven, so click on over and enter!
Saturday, January 08, 2005
Street Angel Wallpaper -- Here's some Street Angel Wallpaper that I worked up in Photoshop tonight; drop-dead gorgeous art (the black and white stuff I started with, not trying to compliment my own amateur colouring) from issue #4 by Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca, and Copyright (C) 2005 by Rugg and Maruca. God, I can't wait for #5 to get here already. Anyway, enjoy the wallpaper.
Saturday Notes -- Last night I did something I virtually never do, had a night out with the boys. In this case it was with Marshall and Brian, the two pals that not coincidentally make up the triumverate of evil that first conceived this here website. We went out for a bite to eat and some minor (and ultimately aggravating) hi-tech shopping, then picked up some alcohol and retreated to Brian's to watch Shaun of the Dead.
I don't often get evangelical with my friends about movies, but last night makes at least the sixth time I've watched the film, and I'm still A) Getting new things out of it and B) Laughing my ass off at it. The film's writers seem to share a sensibility with the folks who created The Office, and fans of one are guaranteed to enjoy the other.
So far everyone I've gotten to watch the movie (including a fourth member of our party, Pete, who arrived just in time to watch Shaun last night) has enjoyed the hell out of it, and it's rare that I am so successful in turning folks on to movies, so, yeah. Shaun of the Dead is just a great funking movie.*
After staying long enough to
* Bit of a larf for those who've watched the Shaun special features.
Thursday, January 06, 2005
Same Bat Guano -- Here's a response I received to the question I asked yesterday about the inexplicable excitement over All-Over-Rated-Star-Creators-Batman:
A lot of people were turned onto
"mature" superheros by the original Dark Knight, and don't give a fuck about
DK2 because they never read it, but just see "Miller Batman" as the holy
fucking Grail. Many of these people work for Wizard. On the opposite end,
you have guys who were 12 when Jim Lee was hot, and never changed their
minds on what good comic art is supposed to be since. Many of THESE people
don't understand why Venom and Carnage aren't in the Spider-Man Films,
because they are the best villains ever. I know both these types. You will
never win against sheer ignorance.
I bow to the absolute logic presented by the writer. Nothing more need be said.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Son of a Bitch! -- Not that I didn't love New Frontier -- it was great fucking superhero comics, and I did -- but this (at Christopher Butcher's blog) really should be all you need to answer the stupid question "Why are creator-owned comics better?"
Why is it that corporate comics companies almost never know quality when they see it, and even when they do, they don't know what the fuck to do with it? Why is that?
Oh, and on the other news of the day -- why would a team up of the writer of one of the worst Batman stories ever, with the artist of one of the other worst Batman stories ever, make anyone sane at all excited about the possibilities? Get fucking over it, fanboys. The possibilities are shit.
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
New BWS Discussion Group -- I've just signed up to as new Yahoo Discussion Group dedicated to Barry Windsor-Smith.
I've been a fan of Barry's work for decades, and friends with the man since I interviewed him for the radio station literally in the waning hours of 1999. There's not as much discussion online of his work as there should be -- probably because in recent years he has dedicated himself to lavish, painstaking hardcover works like Opus 1 and 2, Young GODS and Friends and the forthcoming Freebooters, works that take time and loving care to put together. Hopefully this new discussion group will take off and fans of Barry's work can have a central place to talk about their common interest. I hope if you appreciate Barry's work, you'll come join us.
Remembering Will Eisner -- Tom Spurgeon is reporting the death of one of the creators of the American comics artform and a true giant of the field, Will Eisner.
His presence was so vital in comics throughout the entirety of my life that I never for a moment have ever even thought to consider what a world without him would be like. So, while I would like to provide cogent commentary on his passing, I honestly am struck speechless by his unexpected passing. All that truly needs to be said is in the link to Tom Spurgeon's site, anyway.
Thank you for The Spirit, Mr. Eisner, and thank you for all that you gave everyone who loves comics. We'll miss you forever.
Monday, January 03, 2005
The Phenomenon of the Graphic Novel -- Yeah, I dread the dry, uninformed approach such a title suggests -- but damn if Kevin Melrose hasn't pointed us to one of the most interesting articles on the subject I've seen maybe ever. Writer (and overall non-comics reader, until lately) Rick Kleffel explains the cascading manner in which he came to be immersed in the current building interest in graphic novels.
It's so easy as "insiders" to completely divorce ourselves from what the artform looks like from the outside, that Kleffel's piece should be required reading for anyone who wants to talk about how comics and graphic novels are infiltrating mainstream culture. And no surprise at all that voices like Pekar and Gaiman are the ones leading the charge for non-comics readers. After all, they're two comics writers who can actually write. How many in the Wizard Top Ten can you actually say that about?
So go read it and be sure to click on to Kleffel's own graphic review of Harvey Pekar's Our Movie Year.
Then, finally, come back here for Abhay Khosla's appreciation of Naoki Urasawa. It's one of the longest and most insightful pieces ever to run at Comic Book Galaxy, and you're bound to come away from it both enlightened and entertained by Abhay's uniquely crafted essay.
Saturday, January 01, 2005
Happy Two Years! -- In addition to wishing all of you a happy new year, I want to say CONGRATULATIONS to one of my favourite comics people, Fred Hembeck. Fred began his site two years ago today (January 1st -- why the hell didn't I think of that?!?), and has been providing his highly personal views on comics, current events and his family life ever since. His site is a daily stop for me, and I hope for you, too.
When I first made the journey from my childhood love of corporate comics (Marvel/DC/Archie/Harvey/Charlton pretty much defined my comics world from the ages of 6 to 14, and yes, they were on sale everywhere) into the greater comics universe of independents, alternatives and undergrounds, one of my most-loved guides was the work of Fred Hembeck, then being published by FantaCo, an Albany, New York retailer/publisher that did some great, visionary stuff in its time, that was truly ahead of its time in many ways. The Hembeck comics FantaCo published were packed cover-to-cover with the cartoonist's unique restylings of my childhood heroes, giving me perhaps for the first time an insight into the malleability of superheroes -- how they can be used for more than just mindless (and these days, mostly joyless, too) slugfests.
In those and other comics, Hembeck used his cartoon versions of Marvel and DC's icons to comment on comics history, providing both entertainment and education in a way that few other cartoonists have ever managed to do. His stuff was a seminal revelation for me, and it's a delight now, over two decades later, to not only be able to read new stuff from him on an almost daily basis, but also to have established a friendly e-mail relationship with him. He's exactly as decent and witty a guy as his comics suggest, and I'm very happy to see that his site is not only surviving, but thriving. (I bet some of you even remember that Comic Book Galaxy carried Fred (and Neil Polowin's) The Hembeck Files for a time, too!).
So, anyway, on to year three. Give 'em hell, Hembeck!!!
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