Saturday, March 26, 2005

 
I Burn for You -- Mick Martin has posted two really insightful essays at his revived Daily Burn blog.

He looks at Buffy the Vampire Slayer, going into detail not only about how he came late to the series, but more fascinatingly how he sees issues of gender and sexuality handled by Joss Whedon and Co. throughout the series. While I disagree that Season Four might actually be better than generally acknowledged (I still find many episodes from S4 hard to watch), I will concede that that might be because Season Three was just about the best season of any series in the history of television, certainly as far as genre series go. In any case, though, Mick's thoughts on the show are provocative and worth checking out.

Ditto his comments on the gay thing in New Avengers. I hadn't realized that the Thor and Hulk wannabes in that Teen-Titans-for-Marvel-Zombies book were apparently pulling a Midnighter and Apollo-type romance, which of course has the fans -- already crushingly insecure about their sexual identities, being given to spending hundreds or thousands of dollars yearly on books of drawings of near-naked men beating the shit out of each other -- up in arms and decrying the destruction of values in blah blah blah.

Come on, you're the Incredible Hulk, or his teenage avatar, anyway -- how many people on the planet do you think can accept your Manly Love? I say if he's lucky enough to have found a receptacle for his Gamma-Powered Passion, more power to him! Puts that whole hammer fetish in a whole new light, though, doesn't it?

Friday, March 25, 2005

 
Morrison and Stewart Do It Again -- The creative team behind Seaguy has kicked off its new four-issue mini-series The Guardian, part of the Seven Soldiers Grant Morrison Mega-Meta-Crossover-Thingy, and man, it is the best superhero first issue since Street Angel #1.

I was pleased with the way The Guardian's boss is the floating head of Jack Kirby, and I also sensed some meta-commentary in his job description, stuff about circulation rising but needing to break out in new ways, however Morrison put it, it sounds as much a job for superhero comics as a job for Jake Jordan. That final, mindblowing image was channeling classic Kirby, too, ultra-vivid and totally bizarre.

It looks, so far, like this Seven Soldiers deal is going to turn superhero comics on their ear and be the best thing to come out of "The Big Two" in 2004. With the ABC line mostly defunct now and Sleeper about to wrap up, I'm thankful that Grant Morrison is giving me a reason to keep buying DC superhero comics a little while longer.

 
The Frank Miller Library -- While the bitter taste of DK2 may never fully wash itself out of my mouth, this article at ign.com features a nice selection of ten volumes by Frank Miller which should serve as a reminder of just how vital a comics creator he once was.

As I pointed out in Kevin Melrose's comments section, I question why they would pick the Daredevil Visionaries volume mostly written by Roger McKenzie, since Volume Two starts with the first Miller-written story that introduced Elektra and would therefore make more sense as being "Essential" Miller Daredevil, but the article's author clearly hopes readers will investigate their suggestions pretty deeply, as the follow-up recommendations after each entry indicate. The author is more than a little indicted by the recommendation of DK2, as far as I am concerned; it would be nice if a lengthy explanation of that recommendation had been included, since new readers are unlikely to enjoy that work and probably half of all longtime Miller readers despise it as well.

But, yeah, mostly a good article worth checking out.

 
Fixing The Matrix: Revolutions -- Excellent, 15-point dissection of the failure of The Matrix sequels by some writer from Long Island.

You know, I actually bought the ten-disc Matrix box set entirely for the first film and its new transfer/remix/remastery goodness. I totally agree with Sean that there were many good moments in both of the sequels, but I also totally agree with all of his criticisms, and dearly wish he had been on-set to explain this all before hundreds of millions of dollars were spent totally fucking up what could have been the most memorable and thrilling action film franchise in history, and one that actually (in the first film, anyway) speaks pretty profoundly to our current era and the manner in which the populace is kept sound asleep while an elite class of beings sucks the fucking life out of us.

So, yes, the first Matrix movie is pure gold, just a great movie that works on many levels. Kudos to Sean for being the canny writer he is, able to explain in such vivid, eloquent detail all the problems with those two movies. It speaks to the power of the first one, how very actively disappointed and regretful I feel contemplating the final two films in the trilogy.

 
Vegetarianism -- As you might recall, early last year I went on the vegetarian bandwagon, and stayed on there pretty much for the remainder of 2004. While I have, since then, stumbled back into the world of carnivorality (or whatevr the word might be), I still don't eat as much meat as previously, and eat quite a few meat-free meals altogether.

This story makes me wish I'd stayed on the wagon, especially given that the very first thing I ate with meat in it when I fell off was, indeed, Wendy's chili.

 
MoCCA's Now and Then Online Exhibit -- This is absolutely terrific, lots of amazing artwork, and it should be an inspiration to children, too.

 
Burned Again -- Hey, sometime Comic Book Galaxy contributor Mick Martin has revived his blog. This time out The Daily Burn seems more aimed at actual commentary than superhero satire. And while I'm sure there's a place for superhero satire, I'm more interested in Mick's genuine opinions on the industry (I'm just no fun at all, goddamnit), so, I'm looking forward to seeing what he has in store for us.

Confidential to Mick: I'm also interested in what happened to the whole "Superheroes, Etc" thing; that was a fast change of plan, my friend!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

 
The Book Meme -- Ooh, I've been forcibly memed by Sean T. Collins, no less! Well, away we go!

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

I don't know what this means. I suppose it would help if I'd ever read Fahrenheit 451.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Yes, Jenny Sparks, I'm somewhat ashamed to admit.

The last book you bought is:

The last graphic novel I bought was Bone: One Volume Edition, which at 1300 pages, I think, counts as a goddamned book.

The last book you read:

Hell if I know. We can say Bone, though.

What are you currently reading?

Some Michael Moorcock novel Marshall loaned me because he said it reminded him of Alan Moore's work. The lead character has sex with his mother in the first chapter. My interest is, shall we say, flagging.

Five books you would take to a deserted island.

James Kunstler's The Geography of Nowhere, Carl Sagan's Cosmos, Roger Ebert's The Great Movies, Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's From Hell and James Kochalka's American Elf: The Collected Sketchbook Diaries of James Kochalka.

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

Chris Allen, Derek Martinez and Logan Polk, because they will probably play ball.

UPDATE: Here are the answers from Derek, Logan and Chris.

 
Seven Ideas for FCBD -- Comic Book Galaxy's Marc Sobel weighs in now with some thought-provoking ways for retailers to better utilize Free Comic Book Day to their advantage:

Free Comic Book Day is a little over 6 weeks from today (Saturday, May 7, 2005) and with the fourth annual event starting to seem a little familiar, here’s a list of seven recommendations for retailers to make the most out of this otherwise dreaded event:

Get out of the comic book store – this may seem counterintuitive, since the idea is to drive traffic (i.e. – customers) into the store, but the customers who are there already know about your store, and ones who don’t aren’t going to just wander in off the street. Take the comics to the people. Give them away on the street. Set up a booth in the local shopping mall. Or the library. If you want to reach new customers, you have to go to them, not expect them to come to you.

Give comics to as many kids as possible – the offerings from Marvel, DC, Disney, Archie and at least a few other independent publishers are usually geared toward attracting new children to the hobby. Why waste these on 20-30 year old men?

Don’t give in to fans’ sense of entitlement – many collectors will come in, expecting a stack of every publisher’s comic. I’ve seen it; they’ll be lined up before the store even opens. It doesn’t make them bad people, I’ve been there too, but we should all remember the purpose of FCBD in the first place, which was to reach a wider audience, and demonstrate the diversity of the comic book industry. If you warn people ahead of time that this is your store’s policy, you’ll avoid a lot of grief on the actual day.

Advertise creatively – the idea here is not to take an ad out on a comic book website, but to think about your local newspapers, bulletin boards, grocery stores, libraries, YMCA’s, shopping malls, elementary schools, day cares, etc. Any vehicle that is relatively cheap, or even free, and allows you to reach the non-collectors will do. And since these are comics, use pictures as much as possible. It makes a big difference. The idea is to get the word out, starting now, so people can plan ahead. Trust that if there’s free stuff, people will show up, no matter what it is. And that’s the point.

Use the “complements of” stamp – there’s a reason each comic is printed with a large white box on the cover. It’s a place to put your store’s name, address and phone number, but surprisingly few retailers take advantage of this. This is free marketing at its best and to ignore it is a waste of free advertising. People should know where the comic came from, and where to get more, especially if you follow recommendation #1. You may not hear from them for months, but come Christmas time, you’ll be glad you added that stamp.

Don’t give the entire stock away in 1 day – yes, it’s called free comic book DAY, but that doesn’t mean you have to liquidate. The idea is not to give each customer a stack of 40 free comics. Believe me, if you do, each person will actually read maybe 5-10, flip through the rest, and either file the rest away in some box, sell them on E-Bay (a despicable way to profit off free books) or just toss them out. Why not instead keep giving 1-2 comics away for a month, taking opportunities to introduce existing customers to new titles, rather than deluge them, and targeting those few new customers (and they’re usually not hard to spot, i.e., mothers looking for gifts for their children, etc.) instead.

Have additional issues available for purchase – for example, if Dark Horse decides to give away Conan #1 on Free Comic Book Day, make sure people know they can get issues 2-6 so they can enjoy the entire story. It’s common sense, but in the rush of collectors, it’s often forgotten. Make these other issues as visible as possible, even shelving them together with the free books, and make sure people know its part of a larger story.

I hope this helps. We all want to increase the sales of comics. It’s good business for the retailers, good exposure for the publishers, and ultimately, more collectors equals more diverse titles which is good for the fans, too.

-- Marc Sobel

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

 
Snapshot -- Kids playing outside, wife at work, kitchen table a mess from the pizza we had for dinner, pondering watching Donnie Darko again. Or maybe Spaced. (Apologies to Sean.)

 
10 Things I Love About Tom Spurgeon -- All right, he's gone and shown us all up, as usual. So with that in mind, here's 10 Things I Love About Tom Spurgeon:

1. He can come up with 1000 Things to Like About Comics.

2. He openly discusses how Comics Made Him Fat.

3. He co-wrote the definitive biography of Stan Lee.

4. And I got to interview him about it.

5. He made the definitive statement on the value of comics.

6. The way he is able to convey his profoundly personal relationship with comics.

7. His interview with Joe Casey was so good that it convinced me to take a second look at some of Casey's comics to see if I was missing something. I wasn't, but Spurgeon's interview was able to bring out an eloquence and passion in Casey that clearly hasn't translated to most of his comics. Somewhere in there is a noteworthy accomplishment on Spurgeon's part.

8. His other great interviews, including Drew Weing, James Sturm, John Romita, Sr., and Steve Rude.

9. His love of even the smallest of comics.

10. He maintains the best comics website in existence.

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Monday, March 21, 2005

 
The Monday Briefing - There's a ton of comics goodness up right now at Tom Spurgeon's Comics Reporter, the most enjoyable of which are his Jeff Smith and Peter Bagge interviews. The Smith piece particularly interested me because I recently finshed the Bone One Volume Edition, and was absolutely dazzled by Smith's storytelling chops. I usually am repelled by the fantasy genre, but Smith's blend of influences, ranging from Carl Barks to Joseph Campbell (not that much of a stretch, come to think of it), complemented by wonderfully complex and lively characters, makes Bone just a masterpiece of comics art. Bravo to Scholastic for bringing the series into just the perfect format for kids, too, with the new colour TPBs and HCs. If these books get as much infiltration into schools as I suspect they will, between Bone and the Fantagraphics Complete Peanuts volumes, the next few years should be quite wonderful for comics readers of all ages to see the very best the medium has to offer in formats that truly serve the material and present it in its very best possible light.

Speaking of which, Absolute Watchmen, huh? I've been unsuccessfully trying to track down the deluxe hardcover of this for years, so this comes as wonderful news, although how the hell I'll be able to afford it is another question altogether. But since it appears to have Alan Moore's approval and the direct involvement of artist Dave Gibbons, chances are, if DC doesn't managed to grab defeat from the jaws of victory, that this could be pretty much the definitive presentation of the definitive superhero graphic novel.

Of course, John Byrne would disagree, but once you know that he finds Jessica Alba distasteful, well, what more to you need to know about John Byrne?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

 
Ramblings Man -- Once and future (hey, I can hope, can't I?) Comic Book Galaxy contributor Derek Martinez has resumed blogging. Fair warning: He says he won't be talking a lot about comics. Bitter irony: He spends most of his first new post talking about comics. Winner: Everybody!

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